For my daughter’s kitty-themed fifth birthday party, the first thing she asked for was “a cake shaped like a house, that’s also a cat.” What could I do but give it my best shot? After all, coming after last year’s castle cake, it should be a snap, right?
So remember how I made Frosting Fudge with chocolate frosting and semisweet chocolate chips? It’s still my favorite, but now that it’s fall and the ubiquitous pumpkin spice flavoring is invading every food item in sight, I decided to jump on the bandwagon and try another fudge variation– Pumpkin Pecan Fudge. (Okay, it’s not really fudge since there’s no chocolate in it, but it’s a better descriptor for the texture than just calling it Pumpkin Pecan Squares)
I was really just winging it when it came to ingredients, but the finished product is smooth, creamy, and tastes just like fall! I admit there’s very little pumpkin in there, but that’s probably the case with most “pumpkin spice” flavored things– it’s really the spice mixture that defines the flavor profile. Anyway, give it a try!
I know that many of the recipes I post on here are complicated and involve tons of fancy ingredients. Those are fun and delicious recipes. But as you can also see, some of the recipes I post involve boxed cake mixes, canned doughs, and other quick-and-easy processed ingredients. Sometimes I use them because it’s easier, and sometimes I use them because they just taste better. Really.
This is one of the latter recipes.
I’m all for traditional fudge, made by bringng a mixture of sugar, cocoa, butter, and water to just the right temperature, then stirring just enough to make tiny sugar crystals and chilling at just the right time to keep it smooth and creamy. I’m all for eating it, that is. My attempts at making it have fallen flat, and the other recipes I’ve seen or tried, using melted marshmallows, evaporated or sweetened condensed milk, or other non-traditional ingredients, aren’t really all that great. But then I tried using canned frosting.
Remember all of the candied lemon peel I had left over from my lemonade concentrate? I had to do something with it, so I decided to bake cake. Cake is always the answer. I decided to go with a pound cake, because I figured that the crumb would need to be fairly dense in order to support the chewy chunks of peel. And what’s a lemon cake without a lemon syrup to soak it in? And a glaze? Talk about gilding the lily…
The finished cake is incredibly moist and tender, and the syrup and glaze combine for a slightly crackly outer crust that immediately gives way to a melt-in-your-mouth icing, full of lemon flavor. While the cake doesn’t slice neatly– too soft and moist– it’s really delicious, and even better the day after it’s baked. Plus, due to the moisture and the glaze it’ll keep, uncovered at room temperature, for at least three days without drying out. Probably longer, but I didn’t have any left to check after three days!
After making all of that lemonade concentrate (and it took about 20 lemons!) I had a whole bunch of perfectly good lemon peels that I just couldn’t let go to waste. So I decided to make candied lemon peel. I’d never tried to make candied peels before– I’ve candied kumquat slices before (tasty) and had a failure of candied blood orange slices (I let them boil too long in the syrup and they completely caramelized and burned)– so I thought it was about time to give it a try.
I definitely inherited my love of chocolate from my dad– he’s a huge fan of chocolate, the darker the better, and back when the extra-dark chocolates weren’t widely available I remember him melting semisweet and unsweetened together to make his own bittersweet chocolate blocks, which he kept in the freezer and which I totally never pilfered for snacks… (whistles innocently)
In any case, when his birthday comes around, that’s my excuse to come up with rich, dark, decadent chocolate cake, the blacker the better. Having gone through the standard flourless chocolate cake recipes, a recipe involving layers of whipped and melted ganache, and an extremely dark chocolate ice cream (caused by my inadvertently doubling the amount of cocoa I was supposed to use… it was fabulous), this year I wanted to try something a little different.
This creation isn’t exactly a cake– or rather, it’s not just a cake. It’s really a combination/adaptation of three recipes I’ve had on the blog before– the basic chocolate cake, the nutella crunchies, and the easiest chocolate mousse ever. But they combine to make a fabulous amalgamation of flavors and textures that is a one-of-a-kind chocolate experience.
I was recently faced with an emergency– I needed to make something sweet and decadent for a work gathering, and I basically had an hour to make it. Talk about short notice! (well, it wasn’t really that short– I’d known the night before I needed to make something and then completely forgot until I woke up the next morning) I took a quick survey of my pantry ingredients and was inspired by the Honey Cornflake Crunchies I’d made earlier, along with a jar of Nutella on the shelf.
For a starting point I googled “nutella cornflake cookies” and found a recipe for a no-bake candy involving just three ingredients– cornflakes, Nutella, and chocolate. How could I go wrong with those? I fiddled with the recipe a bit, doubling it. substituting dark chocolate for milk chocolate (I always have dark chocolate on hand) and adding more cornflakes for texture, but it really couldn’t be easier. And the results?