How do you feel about combined birthday celebrations? My birthday and my moms are only a day apart and over the years, we've had a lot of shared birthday festivities. As a child, I got so accustomed to celebrating our birthdays together that when I got married and moved away, it felt strange NOT to celebrate my birthday along with hers.
My birthday is the day before my moms, and looking back, I can't help but wonder how many years she had candles stuck into my day old, half eaten cake for her birthday. As a child, all caught up in the afterglow of my birthday festivities, I honestly don't remember her birthday cakes except for the years that both of our names were on one cake. With the exception of the few years that I went rogue and requested donuts or pie instead of cake, I'm fairly certain of the fact that my mom never had a birthday cake that was entirely her own for the 18 years that we lived together.
My mom and I live 750 miles apart now and we hardly ever get to celebrate our birthdays together. We have separate birthday cakes now and honestly - it's a little weird. Still to this day, I cut my cake on my birthday and on the next day, I eat another slice in honor of her birthday as well.
German Chocolate Cake
Coconut Pecan Filling
6 egg yolks
12 oz can evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, cubed
3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups chopped toasted pecans
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz German chocolate, melted
4 large eggs, separated
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/4 cup water, room temperature
1 1/2 cups butter
1 1/4 cups shortening
9 3/4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
6-7 tbsp milk
I'm not sure how traditional German Chocolate Cake lovers will feel about chocolate fudge frosting on a German Chocolate cake and if I'm being completely honest - I was a bit skeptical as well. After one bite though, I was convinced that I'd never make another German Chocolate Cake without it again. Turns out - fudge frosting is the perfect compliment to the the creamy coconut pecan filling and moist cake. I have to give credit to America's Test Kitchen for the inspiration for this scrumptious creation. Once again - you've pushed the limits of my cake baking and I couldn't be happier.
Wedding bells are ringing loud and clear over here. Three bridal showers in three weeks is enough to put anybody in the mood to celebrate love. I've also become adept at ordering from Bed, Bath and Beyond and a master at wrapping awkward gifts like spatulas and colanders.
I loved celebrating these new marriages and I've got to say that the hostesses of these festive affairs, really out did themselves in the refreshment department. They created some of the most over top fabulous and delicious displays of nibbles for the bride and her guests. I'm talking about beef and chicken sliders, mini meatballs, turkey wraps, pimento cheese sandwiches, baskets of mini quiche and trays overflowing with fruit. It was all I could do to stop myself from filling TWO plates. 😂
Now let me tell you about the exquisite displays of dessert at these bridal showers. Chocolate covered strawberries, bundtinis, strawberry shortcakes, chocolate mousse, petit fours, cupcakes and beautiful jars filled with chocolate kisses, gum balls and candy. These Willy Wonka worthy dessert bars were absolutely irresistible. I'm pretty sure that I tried one of everything. 🎂
There's no way that I could replicate bridal shower provisions on a weekly basis but after three straight weeks of showers, my body now craves Saturday afternoon sugar. 🤣 I feel like I need to fill the refreshment gap of my shower-less Saturday afternoons. But what could possibly satisfy my sugar cravings? Triple Chocolate Sticky Buns should do the trick. I can't think of anything more decadent than a TRIPLE CHOCOLATE STICKY BUN.
Triple Chocolate Sticky Buns
2/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup flour
2/3 cup whole milk
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
3 1/4 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
6 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
4 Tablespoons butter
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Beginning with long edge, loosely roll up into a log. Pinch seam to seal.
Invert buns onto a platter.
You know that I'm all about breakfast recipes that I can make ahead of time. These sticky buns are the perfect make ahead recipe. Take the unbaked sticky buns out of the frig, let them rise on the counter for an hour, bake and serve. Easy peasy.
I'm not one to toot my own horn but I must say that I feel like I have some of the most delicious brownie and blondie recipes. My tried and true brownie and blondie recipes really are some of my favorite go-to desserts and I make over and over again. I certainly never felt deprived or like I was in NEED of a new brownie or blondie recipe but when Cook's Illustrated publishes a new recipe for Browned Butter Blondies, none of that matters. It doesn't matter how many other blondie recipes I already have in my index, Cook's Illustrated dessert recipes are too good to pass up.
This browned butter blondie recipe certainly did not disappoint. It lived up to every mouth watering expectation that I had. I love the simplicity of one pan desserts and this one is surprisingly simple for a Cook's Illustrated recipe. (Those of you who regularly subscribe to the magazine know exactly what I'm talking about.)
Browned Butter Blondies
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
12 Tablespoons butter
1 3/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
2 Tablespoons vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon flake sea salt
Let blondies cool in pan for 2 hours. Remove from pan using foil sling and cut into 24 bars.
I've made this recipe several times already and I've made them both with and without chocolate chips. I like them both ways but I'm partial to anything with chocolate so that is my favorite.
I jumped on the mirrorless camera bandwagon almost 3 years ago and I finally decided it was time to take it off of auto mode and see what my camera could do. It's not that I was unhappy about my photos - I was just super hesitant about turning the dial away from the little green rectangle. Quite honestly, I have more faith in my camera to adjust all of my settings more than I do myself. (After all, my camera doesn't need progressive lenses to properly focus.) My camera can set the best white balance, shutter speed and aperture is less than a second - it takes me at least 4 minutes to accomplish the very same settings.
My camera is very intuitive and it does a great job of picking just the right settings for each picture. So why in the world would I ever want to override it and rely on my own limited knowledge? Honestly, most of the time I trust my camera more than myself, but there are a few times when I want to take my camera off of auto mode and choose my own settings. It's taken me 3 years but I'm finally moving my camera off of auto mode - for brief periods of time.
I'm still most comfortable letting my camera chose the best settings but after 10 hours of hands-on camera instruction, I apprehensively put myself in the drivers seat. Let's face it, I'm not trying to be a professional photographer but I do want to take be able to capture really great pictures.
The two waterfall pictures above were taken in the exact same spot but I adjusted the settings to create different effects. I'm going to need a lot more practice to really master my camera but I'm having fun learning. (Thank goodness we don't use film camera's anymore.) Waterfalls, sunsets and indoor portraits - these are all things that I'm trying to get better at photographing.
When I get frustrated, I go back to shooting what I know best --- food. It never moves, I can put it in the lighting that I want and it never squints in the sun. These ranger cookies are a photographers dream. Capturing the dark brown chips, the flecks of coconut, the golden oats and the bits of cereal is easy compared to getting a natural smile from a 5 year old boy.
1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
8 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup rice crispy cereal
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Bake 10-12 minutes at 350.
Allow to cool 5 minutes on silpat before removing.
This cookie has all of my favorite things... oats, coconut, crispy rice and chocolate. I just can't imagine a better combination. I should rename these Amy's Cookies because they perfectly represent everything that I love in a cookie.
Christmas was 2 days ago and I feel like I've got a holiday hangover. (The exhaustion is real.) We had such a great time celebrating with our family and I'm so thankful that we had the opportunity to spend time with the people that we love. It's always hard to say goodbye and to go our separate ways but there's something about the emotions of Christmas that makes it even harder to leave the ones we love.
Last week we met my parents and my brother in New York City for some long overdue family time. It was the first time that my kids had been to NYC so we took in as many of the sites as we possibly could in the 3 days that we were there. Musicals, broadway shows, empire state building, statue of liberty, ellis island, Rockefeller center, concert at Lincoln center, central park, museums, Brooklyn bridge, 911 memorial, Chelsea pier, Chinatown, Little Italy and Times Square. Needless to say, it was amazing - and exhausting.
You can check out the highlights of our trip on the slideshow below if you're interested.
New York City in December is amazing but family time in December is even better. It was so great to get away and spend some time with my family and it was a very unusual December for me. While most people are busy shopping and wrapping, most of MY December days are spent baking, icing, sprinkling and decorating. Leaving for a vacation in the middle of this busy catering season just felt weird but I've got to say - I never appreciated a break more.
Starting our Christmas vacation early meant that I had to start my holiday baking early as well. I feel like I started making cookies, cakes and holiday breads as soon as the Thanksgiving turkey cooled. I didn't have time to make ALL of my usual Christmas treats this year but I definitely made time to bake a couple of Chocolate Babka loaves. This bread is soooo good and 1 recipe makes 2 loaves - One for us and one to give away.
Use scissors to cut each roll, lengthwise down the center. Twist each roll then braid together. Pinch ends together.
Poke warm bread with a skewer and pour syrup over loaves.
Let cool 40 minutes in pan before removing.
Obviously, I missed my window of opportunity to get this amazing Chocolate Babka recipe posted before Christmas but it really is a great bread to enjoy anytime. If you're a fan of chocolate and homemade bread - you've GOT to try this. Just remember to start the dough the day before you want to make it.
If you only had time to bake one holiday treat this year, what would it be? Send me a comment and let me know. I want to know if you've got a favorite cookie or cake or savory treat that you just can't live without during this Christmas season.
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