Thursday, February 28, 2013

too much chocolate cake


Cakes are a pain. Literally.


Layer cakes are beautiful, rewarding, and... dangerous.  I'll spare you the gruesome details, but a slip up while cutting cake layers sent me to the ER last night.   Now I can say that I'm one of the few people who got a laceration while making a birthday cake.  Nonetheless, I was very lucky and it got stitched up really well... but I think I'm going to stick to making Bundt cakes for a while.


Reasons Bundt cakes rock:
  1. They're super moist.
  2. It's redonklulous how easy they are (just bake and pour the glaze on).
  3. They don't need fancy frosting techniques, the pan does all of the decorating, making the end result look sophisticated and elegant effortlessly!
  4. Bundt cakes keep really well, and actually get better with age.
  5. Bundt cakes aren't dangerous. 

Now that I've hopefully convinced you to go and buy yourself a Bundt pan, let's talk about this Bundt cake that I made for my friend Ian's birthday. 
It's over the top, it pushes the limits, and it's out-of-this-world.  


Let me break it down for you.
It's chocolate cake with chocolate pudding filled generously with chocolate chips and completely drenched in chocolate ganache.  No wonder it's called "too much chocolate cake."
But seriously, can you ever have too much chocolate?
After tasting this cake, I don't think so.  In the words of Mae West, "too much of a good thing can be wonderful."

With love,
Erica

P.S. Sorry this post took so long to write, it's deceptively difficult to type with one hand.


 Ingredients

1 package devil’s food cake mix
1 package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup warm coffee
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and coffee. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into a well greased 12 cup bundt pan.
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake thoroughly in pan at least an hour and a half before inverting onto a plate.

Adapted from All Recipes


Velvety Ganache Glaze
Ingredients
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips 
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
4 tablespoons corn syrup
2 tablespoons water

Melt all ingredients in pot over low heat on the stove--stirring constantly--or in bowl in microwave. Pour over cooled cake.
Adapted from Shirley Corriher's Bakewise
 
© Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

gooey nutella butter cake


Sometimes things that look awesome aren't really so great after all.  I remember in 1st grade I desperately wanted a retainer.  A few of my friends had them.  I knew that they came in tons of different colors: pink with glitter, rainbow, even metallic.  I would walk around with a paper clip in my mouth thinking wistfully how wonderful life would be with a retainer.  What I didn't know was they made you lisp, they would have to be awkwardly taken out in front of everyone at lunch time, they would have to be brushed, you would get in trouble when you didn't wear them, and they would hurt so bad you could only eat GoGurt for days.  I found this all out in 6th grade when I actually needed one.


But other times, things that look "ehhh" turn out to be amazing.  Like this cake.
I almost chucked this recipe because it looked like such a gooey mess in the pan.  I thought that there was no way that it would bake into something solid and edible... but I decided to bake it anyways.
Thank god I did.


This cake doesn't look like much, but it is one of the most delicious things I've ever made.  It's also one of the easiest things I've ever made -- no layers, no filling, no frosting, just layers and layers of gooey, chocolate goodness.  You could add a dusting of powdered sugar to these to make it look a little bit fancier, but I like mine plain and simple.  It's misleading, and I love that.  They look really boring, kind of like a brownie that wasn't cooked long enough, but the look on peoples faces when they bite into the sugary crisp crust and the irresistible gooey filling is priceless.

Have you ever been surprised by a recipe?

With love,
Erica




Ingredients

Cake:
1 (18-1/4 ounce) Box Chocolate Cake Mix
1 large Egg
1/2 cup butter, melted

Filling:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs beaten
1 cup Nutella
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
    Heat oven to 325° F and lightly grease 13x9-inch pan
    Using an electric mixer, combine cake mix, 1 egg and melted butter until well incorporated. Press into bottom of greased pan with fingers.
    Using an electric mixer, blend, cream cheese, 2 beaten eggs, nutella and vanilla. Then slowly and powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
    Spread filling over cake batter, and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until edges are brown. (Do not overbake, the center should be a little gooey)
    From Tidy Mom

    © Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

    recipe showdown: healthy banana bread

    This sh!t is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S.  Thank you Gwen Stefani.

    Whenever I hear Gwen, I am instantly transported back to 4th grade when I went to a very strict religious school.  I still vividly remember the first day of school -- I got dressed in my rumpled white chapel dress, and penny loafers.  When I saw the huge chapel on that cloudy morning, all I could say was "this looks just like Harry Potter."  While sitting in the pews, I turned to the girl next to me and asked jokingly, "when will we get sorted" in a little British accent.  I don't think the girl appreciated my humor. :(


    That was a tough year for me -- no nail polish, no boys, and tons of homework.  One of the only things that got me through that year was a jazz dance class that I took on Friday nights.  I got to wear my bedazzled gaucho pants and dance to Gwen Stefani and the Black Eyed Peas.  Afterwards, my mom would take me to Quiznos and I would get a toasted sub with salami and pepperoni -- nothing else.  Those Friday nights were the moments of joy that got me through an otherwise difficult year.


    Now, whenever I hear Gwen, it takes me back to those happy Friday nights.  It always amazes me how powerful music can be to transport me back to different times. 


    Whenever I hear "Ho Hey" by the Lumineers, I am transported to the back seat of the white van that I rode around Santa Fe in this past summer on my community service trip.  When I hear "Everyday" by Buddy Holly, I am sitting in the car seat of my dad's old green Honda, which I used to call the "pickle car."  Thanks to these songs and artists, these memories will always be a click away on my iPod.



    Now to the banana bread.  I love a super moist, cake-like banana breads as much as the next girl (especially when they're full of toffee bits ), but at 8 A.M, I don't want to be too naughty... at least on a weekday ;).  The web is overflowing with healthy banana bread recipes -- full of applesauce, whole wheat flour, and even flax and chia seeds!  I was intrigued. Could they be as yummy as my banoffee bread? Sounds like a recipe showdown. 

    Just F.Y.I, these are all "normal" healthy banana breads. I.e. you don't need to run to the heath food store in search of spelt Flour or Agar gel -- these are just classic banana breads lightened up. 


    The overall favorite was the banana bread from Just Everyday Me it had the most bananas of the three recipes, which gave it a really rich banana flavor.  Also, the addition of whole wheat flour adds a nice dark depth to this loaf.  It would give even the most decadent loaf a run for its money -- plus it's kind of good for you, so you can have an extra slice (or two).

    With love,
    Erica



    Description
    This recipe boasts 286 five star ratings on All Recipes.  It uses applesauce, nonfat milk, and a tablespoon of vegetable oil instead of butter, and only has 2/3 cup sugar.  There are 178 calories per slice.
    This recipe has received great reviews all over the internet.  It uses ¼ cup butter and 1/3 cup lowfat yogurt.  There are 187 calories per slice.
    This recipe uses ¼ cup butter, ¼ cup apple sauce, and a few spoonfuls of sour cream. It also incorporates whole wheat flour into the white flour for added health benefits.  There are about 190 calories per slice
    Tasters’ notes
    Good
    Banana-y
    Too much vanilla!
    Gummy
    Bland

    Sweet
    Banana-y
    No strange aftertaste

    From Just Everyday Me

    Ingredients:
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup brown sugar (not packed)
    4 tablespoons butter, softened
    1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
    1 egg
    4 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
    1 cup all purpose flour
    1/2 cup whole wheat white flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    3 whole over-ripe bananas, blended so that they’re liquid

    Cream togetherthe first 6 ingredients.
    Slowly add the flours and then the baking soda and salt. Add the blended bananas.
    Put in a greased bread loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.
    © Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013

    overnight raised waffles

    I just wrote about waffles, and I thought I found the one.
    But then yeast came in the picture, and things got complicated.



    Last night, Emilia, Veda and I had our annual end-of-season girl's night out to celebrate the end of the winter track season.  I don't know about you all, but I love traditions. 
    Last year, we saw a chick-flick (The Vow) and ate at our favorite Mexican restaurant (I look forward to their fried plantains all track season!).

    This year, we did the exact same thing -- except this year, we were not carrying all of our track bags and book bags with us.  We learned our lesson last year when we had to check 7 bags into the coat check at the restaurant.

    After dinner, we headed over to CVS to buy candy.  We got 5 packs of candy for the same price as one pack at the theater.  Emilia thought ahead and brought a huge bag to carry our stash into the theater.  It's great to have friends who think ahead when you're as forgetful as me.

    We saw Safe Haven.  Was it cheesy? Yes.  Was there not a single male in the theater? Yes.  Did I cry my eyes out? Yes.

    Emilia and I always start crying around the opening credits, when the soft music starts to play and they show snapshots of cattails blowing in the breeze.  This only intensifies as the movie progresses.  Veda is the rock that sits between us and comforts us.

    Even though the movie got bad reviews from the critics, I really liked it.  I'm always a sucker for Nicholas Sparks, and as a dancer, I have the biggest girl-crush on Julianne Hough. She was always my favorite on Dancing With the Stars.


    After the movie, we all slept over at my house.  I have learned from experience that we always have boundless energy for midnight baking (Nutella and pretzel stuffed chocolate chip cookies anyone), but when breakfast rolls around, we end up eating Frosted Mini Wheats from the box.  Since my friends are always thinking ahead for me (shout out to Emilia and her giant tote bag), I decided to think ahead for them for once -- and I prepared the batter for these raised waffles the night before. 

    In the morning, when I was foggy-eyed and sugar deprived, I just heated up the waffle iron and shazam. Breakfast = done.

    With love,
    Erica

    Ingredients

    ½ cup warm water
    1 package (2 ¼ tsp.) dry yeast
    2 cups whole milk, warmed
    1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
    1 tsp. table salt
    1 tsp. sugar
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    ¼ tsp. baking soda

    Pour the water into a large mixing bowl. (The batter will rise to double its volume, so keep that in mind when you choose the bowl.) Sprinkle the yeast over the water, and let stand to dissolve for 5 minutes.

    Add the milk, butter, salt, sugar, and flour, and beat until well blended and smooth. (Electric beaters do a nice job of this.) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it stand overnight at room temperature.

    Before cooking the waffles, preheat a waffle maker. Follow your waffle maker’s instruction manual for this, but my guess is that you’ll want to heat it on whatever setting is approximately medium-high. My waffle maker has a heat dial that runs from 1 to 7, and I turned it to 5. My waffle maker is nonstick, so I didn’t grease it, and Marion Cunningham doesn’t call for greasing it, either.

    Just before cooking the waffles, add the eggs and baking soda, and stir to mix well. The batter will be very thin. Pour an appropriate amount of batter into your hot waffle maker: this amount will vary from machine to machine, and you should plan to use your first waffle as a test specimen. Cook until golden and crisp.

    From The Breakfast Book

    © Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

    Sunday, February 17, 2013

    recipe showdown: belgian waffles

    It's humiliating.  It's tragic.  It's the decay of Western civilization.
    ... and I can't stop watching it.


    Ever since I heard that little, blond, 4-foot-tall toddler's famous catchphrase"a dollar makes me holler honey boo boo," I've been in love.
    She's hyperactive, uninhibited, and foul-mouthed... and I'm kind of obsessed.


    But since this is technically a food blog, I should be talking about food, not the "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo."  I did a little research and the Honey Boo Boo clan has some *pretty* interesting dishes.
    Have you ever heard of "Sketti"?
    Spaghetti, doused with a sauce that is one part margarine, one part ketchup.
    However, the most infamous Honey Boo Boo specialty is her "go go juice" -- a secret mix of Mountain Dew and Red Bull that gets her "go go"-ing for her pageants.  If you aren't familiar with "go go juice," click here.  Thank me later.


    Anyways, I have my own version of "go go juice."  It's not quite Mountain Dew mixed with Red Bull, but it sure gets me going.  It's my secret weapon that gets me through 6-hour indoor track meets.


    Truth is, nothing gets me going like Belgian waffles. 
    I could run my little heart out for hours after one of those babies.
    This morning was the last meet of the winter season, so obviously Belgian waffles were on the menu.  Since they're my secret weapon, they had to be perfect this time.


    What am I looking for in a Belgian waffle?  Something so crispy that you can hear the fork break the crust, yet so tender that the inside is pillowy like cotton candy.  Something that can soak up maple syrup and melty butter while still holding its waffle-y shape.


    After comparing a series of very popular and wildly different recipes, I think I found the one.  Aretha Frankensteins' (what a name!) Waffle's of Insane Greatness were spot on.

    What's your "go go juice"?

    With love,
    Erica



    Description
    These waffles have a very thick and rich batter that is scooped not poured into the iron.  It has a dense, buttery crumb and the consistency of a light, buttery shortbread cookie.
    These waffles are famous in the food blogging community, known simply as “WIG.”  The light batter uses vegetable oil and cornstarch.
    Simple, pancake-like batter, with the addition of a whipped egg white.  I used sour cream thinned with ¼ cup milk instead of the buttermilk (which was one of the suggested substitutions). As the title suggests, these are very rich waffles.
    A way to modify Bisquick waffle mix in a way that comes “very close to mom’s homemade waffles”
    Tasters’ Notes
    Very cookie-like
    Sugary
    Not “fluffy” waffles
    Dense
    Doesn’t even need syrup
    Shortbread
    Dessert
    Light and airy

    Mind-bogglingly crisp exterior

    Unique

    Toasty

    Caramelized
    Eggy
    Rich
    A bit chewy
    Soft
    soggy?
    Traditional
    Expected
    Not special
    Conclusion
    More of a cookie than a waffle. Nevertheless, these were delicious. These are perfect for dessert, with syrup and maybe some ice cream
    They are curiously light and fluffy on the inside, and have a shatteringly crisp crust. They are also the easiest (come together in one bowl, and no nonsense with egg whites)
    These were very soft. They were rich, but had no crunch. Still, they were tasty and tangy, just not, the waffle.
    These are tasty if you’re in a rush. But nothing beats homemade, and these aren’t anything special.

    Aretha Frankenstein's Waffles of Insane Greatness

    From Aretha Frankenstein's restaurant in Chattanooga, TN.

    Ingredients

    3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup cornstarch
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup whole milk or buttermilk (or a combination)
    1/3 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
    1 egg
    1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
    3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Butter and pure maple syrup, for serving

    In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; mix well. Add the milk, vegetable oil, egg, sugar and vanilla and mix well. Let the batter sit for 30 minutes.

    Heat a waffle iron. Follow the directions on your waffle iron to cook the waffles. Serve immediately with butter and pure maple syrup or hold in a 200 degree oven, directly on the rack (don't stack them or they'll get soggy). These also reheat very well in the toaster.



    © Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

    Thursday, February 14, 2013

    red velvet cupcakes

    Somehow it has become socially acceptable to dislike Valentine's Day.  Some people say that it's a meaningless marketing scam run by card and chocolate companies.  Others try to be witty, saying that we should profess our love every day of the year.




    You all need to relax.  I hate Halloween -- but you don't hear me complaining!
    I remember in lower school we would get to decorate a big envelope with glitter, puffy paint, and heart shaped doilies. Everyone in the class would exchange cut-out Dora the Explorer valentines and Hershey's Kisses.  
    ...and everyone liked Valentine's Day. 


    Fast-forward 5 years, and (unlike a few of my friends) I still like Valentine's day -- maybe I'm a bit biased because I love arts and crafts, chocolate, and sparkly, corny love notes. 


    Valentine's Day shouldn't be a day to be sad that you're single, or rolling your eyes at every lovey-dovey couple you see.   It's a national holiday, so you might as well get into it. I can't think of a better way to do that than with cupcakes. There's something special for everyone (and it all starts with these cupcakes).

    If you have a significant other, good for you.  Make a batch of these cupcakes, turn on a good movie or romantic music. Valentine's Day = done. 


    If you're crushing for someone, an you see a glimmer that he or she might feel the same -- maybe you can finally get something going.  What better way to do so than with a cupcake that says "text me" on it.  Bazinga.  Valentine's Day + new number = done. 


    If there is a boy who's always on your bus, and you've been wondering what his name is, what books he reads, and what your children would look like, speak up today! Better an 'oh well' than a 'what if' right?! If you get a positive vibe, you can go back to your place and give him one of these cupcakes.  New love  + Valentine's Day = done. 


    If you're spending Valentine's Day with your girlfriends,  thank them for listening to all of your boy woes for the past year.  Nothing says "thanks for listening" quite like red velvet.


    If your friends are all with their boyfriends or they don't condone Valentine's day (their loss), it's all good. Just make these cupcakes and share some with all of the people in your life who touch your heart every day -- teachers, little kids in the neighborhood, the ladies at the local community center, and the postman with the really nice smile. 
     
    It's Valentine's Day, why not spread a little love?
    With love, 
    Erica

    Red Velvet Cupcakes

    Ingredients 
    1 (18.25 ounce) package red velvet cake mix
    1 (3.4 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
    1 cup sour cream
    1 cup vegetable oil
    4 eggs, lightly beaten
    2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    1 tablespoon coffee granules dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water



    Preheat oven to 350
    degrees F.   Line 24 muffin wells with paper liners.
    Beat together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla and instant coffee mixture until well combined.
    Distribute the batter between 24 muffin wells. (I like to use an ice cream scoop)
    Bake for 18-22 minutes or until the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly touched. Allow cupcakes to cool inside muffin tins for about 10 minutes.
    Remove cupcakes from muffin tins and allow to fully cool on a wire rack. Once cupcakes are cool, prepare your frosting.

     Cream Cheese Frosting

    Ingredients 
     

    1 stick softened butter
    1/2 cup crisco

    8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

    2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    5-6 cups powdered sugar

    1-3 tablespoons milk

     

    Place butter, crisco and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until smooth.
    Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar (1 cup at a time) and blend on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed and beat until it begins to get fluffy.

    Slowly add the milk until you reach desired consistency.

    Beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.



    © Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013

    mardi gras recipe roundup

    Mardi Gras is international pancake day!  Unfortunately, unlike on World Nutella Day, I wasn't able to bake up a batch of pancakes on this exact day (there are math tests to be studied for and much needed showers to be taken).  

    But not to worry, I came up with this quick little round-up of all of the pancake recipes here on Cannella Vita.  Breakfast for dinner anyone? ;)

    With love, 
    Erica








    © Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

    pina colada cupcakes


    I do a lot of wondering
    It's just how my brain works. I'm always asking questions.
    Maybe it's because I'm young, maybe it's because I'm restless.  I'm probably a little bit of both.



    If you could peek into my brain at any given moment, it would look something like this:


    What hair color do they put on the driver's license of a bald man?  How many times will I fall in love? Why does extra sharp white cheddar cheese taste so good on stale Ritz crackers?  Do my socks match today? Why can I never find the tape? If tomatoes are a fruit, isn't ketchup technically a tomato smoothie? Why do I ask so many questions?  Did I forget to log off of the library computer? Are cats and dogs are really smart and just acting dumb to freeload off humans?  Did the teacher notice I was on Pinterest all class? Can Pokemon only say their name, or are they named after the only thing they can say?


    Why do my hands always smell like buttercream?

    Ok, so I know the answer to the last question...



    It's because I've been going through a total cupcake craze. Borderline full-on obsessed.  I just can't get enough of piping neat little swirls of buttercream.  I love the big cloud of confectioner's sugar hovering around my stand mixer and all of the sticky, Ziploc bags of frosting (my mom on the other hand isn't so enthusiastic...). The first thing I do when I step in the house is preheat the oven to 350 and fill a muffin pan with paper liners.  This has been going on for a while.  I need help.  But for now, just take a look at these Pina Colada cupcakes while I run to the store to buy more confectioner's sugar.

    With love,
    Erica



    Pineapple Cupcakes:

    Ingredients:
    2 1/2 cups flour
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    3 eggs
    1 3/4 cups sugar
    1 cup vegetable oil
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    3/4 cup sour cream
    1 1/2 cups canned crushed pineapple (drained slightly)

    Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
    In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs and sugar until slightly thickened and a light cream color (about 2 minutes).
    On low speed, mix in the oil and vanilla until blended.
    Add in the pineapple and sour cream and mix until fully incorporated.
    Add the flour mixture and blend until just combined and smooth.
    Line a cupcake pan with 12 paper liners and fill about 2/3 full.
    Bake cupcakes in a pre-heated 350*F oven for about 22 minutes.
    Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.
    Frost with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)
    Recipe yields 24-28 cupcakes.

    Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

    Ingredients 
    1 stick softened butter
    1/2 cup crisco
    8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1 teaspoon coconut extract
    5-6 cups powdered sugar
    1-3 tablespoons milk
    Place butter, crisco and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until smooth.
    Add vanilla extract, coconut extract and powdered sugar (1 cup at a time) and blend on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed and beat until it begins to get fluffy.
    Slowly add the milk until you reach desired consistency.
    Beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.

    To Assemble:

    Additional Ingredients
    sweetened coconut
    maraschino cherries

    Frost each cupcake with a swirl of coconut cream cheese frosting. Roll in sweetened coconut. Top with a maraschino cherry.  

    © Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

    oatmeal dark chocolate chip pancakes

    Last Friday was the Sadie Hawkins dance at school.
    Scratch that.
    Last Friday was the "Girls Ask Boys Winter Formal." Apparently "Sadie Hawkins" isn't politically correct enough for my school.  I'm technically on Spirit Committee... I should know these things.


    My friend Veda and I had a track meet before during the dance. 
    When my coach told me I had to sprint 400 meters, I though he was kidding.
    He wasn't kidding.
    I gagged a bit just thinking about it.  Then after it was over, I gagged all over the place.  Yeah, I'm a real superstar on the track team. ;)
    But at least I bring brownies.


    When I finally got back home, it was already nine, and the last thing I wanted to do was get dressed. But I did.
    I put on my dress, slopped on some red lipstick, hoop earrings, and heels.  Then I smooped my hair into a bun because I couldn't even think of touching a flat iron (smooped isn't a word, but "twirled" is way too elegant of a word to describe what I did to my poor hair).  In the end, it was half decent. Sort of like iCarly meets flamenco dancer. 

    By the time we got to the dance, there were only 30 minutes left.  Everyone was already talking about who should have the after party.  Suddenly, I got a second wind.  Kind of like how I have a second stomach for dessert (no matter how stuffed I am), I have a reserve of energy for a good party (no matter how insanely tired I am).

    But, as last minute plans usually go, no one ended up having one.

    And you know what?  I was secretly happy.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good party as much as the next person (I'm a high school girl, I'm normal I swear...), but by then all I wanted to do was put on my Pink sweatpants (the ones with strawberries on the butt), lie on my bed with a huge bottle of Blue Powerade Zero, and play "never have I ever" with my friend Veda (even though we know everything that we've "never" done, it's fun anyways).

    I dropped off to bed around 1:30.  It was a long day.


    In the morning, I woke up refreshed and with a serious chocolate craving. 
    And these pancakes happened.

    With love,
    Erica

    Ingredients
    1/2 cup all purpose flour
    1/2 cup quick oats
    1 tablespoon white sugar
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    3/4 cup milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 egg
    a hand full dark chocolate chips
     
    Place flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, buttermilk, vanilla, oil and egg in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
    Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Sprinkle with dark chocolate chips. Brown on both sides and serve hot.
    © Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

    nutella cupcakes

    February 5th is World Nutella Day. Hold on... today is February 5th, and I just serendipitously have a Nutella recipe to share with you all. 


    I missed International Bacon Day,  Biscuit Day, and even National Julienne Fries Day (August 12 in case you were wondering...).


    I keep track of time by tests, track practices, hours wasted on Pinterest, and the occasional high school party -- not by the food blogging calender of seasonal recipes and National Fondant Day.  I baked with pumpkin in July.  I made pina colada popsicles last week.  #YOLO 


    But today, the odds were in my favor. And my crazy little baking whim just happened to coincide with an international holiday.


    This is not just any old Nutella Recipe, this is the ultimate glorification of the chocolaty spread. This recipe uses two entire jars of Nutella.  Tempted?  Keep reading.


    I started with my favorite, mind-bogglingly easy chocolate cupcake recipe,  filled it with generous spoonfuls of Nutella, topped it with a big swirl of Nutella buttercream (this stuff is dangerous I almost piped about half of it straight into my mouth), and a Ferrero Rocher. 


    So on this glorious morning of Feburary 5th, let's pay homage to Nutella by baking a batch of these sinfully awesome cupcakes.  If you're in a pinch, a fresh jar and a big metal spoon would do.

    What's your favorite way to eat Nutella?

    With love,
    Erica



    Erica's Best Chocolate Cupcakes Ever
    Adapted from My Baking Addiction

    Ingredients 
    1 (18.25 ounce) package chocolate cake mix
    1 (3.4 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
    1 cup sour cream
    1 cup vegetable oil
    4 eggs, lightly beaten
    2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    1 tablespoon coffee granules dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water



    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.   Line 24 muffin wells with paper liners.
    Beat together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla and instant coffee mixture until well combined.
    Distribute the batter between 24 muffin wells. (I like to use an ice cream scoop)
    Bake for 18-22 minutes or until the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly touched. Allow cupcakes to cool inside muffin tins for about 10 minutes.
    Remove cupcakes from muffin tins and allow to fully cool on a wire rack. Once cupcakes are cool, prepare your frosting.

    Nutella Buttercream Frosting

    Ingredients
    1 stick unsalted butter, softened
    1/2 cup vegetable shortening
    1 13-ounce jar of Nutella
    pinch of fine grain sea salt
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    1.5 pounds confectioners’ sugar

    6-8 tablespoons milk


    In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and shortening until well combined, thick and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Slowly add in confectioner’s sugar, and continue mixing until well blended.
    Add salt, vanilla, and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk. Blend on low speed until moistened. Add an additional 3-5 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk until you reach the desired consistency. Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Set aside 1/4 of the mixture to use as the vanilla buttercream.  Add the Nutella to the remaining mixture and beat for another 3 minutes.


    How to Assemble:

    Additional Ingredients:
    24 Ferrero Rocher candies
    melted chocolate for drizzling

    1. Bake chocolate cupcakes and allow them to cool completely.
    2. Hollow out each cupcake I used a cupcake corer, but an apple corer would work just as well.
    3. Fill a piping bag with a 13 oz. jar of Nutella and pipe the Nutella into the center of each cupcake. 
    4. Prepare the Nutella Buttercream, reserving 1/4 of the vanilla buttercream before adding the Nutella. 
    5. Prepare a piping bag with a round tip, and fill with Nutella buttercream. 
    6. Prepare a piping bag with a star tip, and fill with vanilla buttercream. 
    7. Pipe a swirl of Nutella buttercream on each cupcake, and drizzle with melted chocolate.
    8. Top with a swirl of vanilla buttercream and a Ferrero Rocher.
    © Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

    Monday, February 4, 2013

    vanilla bean ricotta donuts

    This is the ideal brunch recipe.  When you're lazy, sleepy, and expected to whip up a storm, these come together in one bowl, and are done and dusted within 20 minutes.  Unlike Aunt Jemima's, these emerge from the kitchen to ohhs and ahhhs.  Plus they look oh-so-elegant when served with chocolate sauce and lemon wedges.



    I imagine whipping these up on a hazy Sunday morning, wearing an adorable, little striped robe and sheepskin slippers.  There would be sunflowers on my windowsill in a little glass vase.
    There would be frothy lattes in Antropologie teacups and music would be playing from a creaky record player.  I'd sprinkle these with powdered sugar, and the air would smell like lemons and vanilla. 

    I know these kinds of things exist somewhere, I've seen them on Pinterest. 


    But in reality, I don't own an adorable striped robe, nor a creaky record player. In reality, I don't have jars of sunflowers on my kitchen window sill, rather, I have half a batch of buttercream leftover from my attempt at making a s'mores flavored cupcake. 
     
    In reality, I eat these on Tuesday afternoons standing up at the kitchen counter. With a jar on honey in one hand, and my iPhone in the other. 
    In reality, I am wearing my dad's "Old Guys Rule" shirt. 

    It's OK. No problem-o.  Life's not supposed to happen like it does on Pinterest. 
    No one in their right mind has the energy to go pick sunflowers before their first mug of coffee.  Life's not supposed to be that sensible. I burned my mouth four times eating donut balls that were too fresh from the pot.  Did I learn my lesson? No. I'd totally do it all over again.  See? Nonsensical.   
    I guess life's kind of nonsensical like that.  It's messy, fun, and sweet... kind of like these sinfully quick, deep-fried balls of dough dunked in honey. 

    With love, 
    Erica  



    P.S.
    If you do happen to have an adorable, little striped robe and a creaky record player, I respect you.


    http://blog.nuji.com/

    Ingredients
    1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    2 tsp baking powder
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    3 eggs
    8 oz (1/2 lb) ricotta, whole or skim
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
    Canola oil, for frying (or another oil with a high smoke point)
    Confectioner's sugar, for dusting
    Deep-fry thermometer

    In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add sugar, eggs, ricotta, vanilla extract, and lemon zest. Mix until just combined.

    Pour the oil into a deep, heavy pot. Leave at least two inches of space at the top for safety. Using a deep-fry thermometer, heat the oil over medium until it reaches 325-375 degrees F.

    Fry a test doughnut: Using a small ice cream scoop or a spoon, drop a scoop of batter in and turn it occasionally. It should take 3-4 minutes to turn golden brown. Carefully remove and cut in half to check if it's cooked all the way through. Test another if needed.

    Fry the remaining doughnuts. Don't overcrowd the pot; fry in batches. Place doughnuts on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up any excess oil.  Depending on how big you scoop them, this should make around 12 donuts. 

    Dust with confectioner's sugar and serve warm with honey, jam, or melted chocolate.

    Adapted from A Cup of Jo

    © Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.