sex in a pan

Did I catch your attention? Good.
This is a sinfully decadent, sinfully easy dessert with a sinfully rewarding response.

It’s not the daintiest, nor the prettiest. As a matter of fact, it’s basically a hot mess in a pan.
But you know what? Despite it’s frightening appearance, people just can’t keep their hands off of it.
I made this for the first time for my school’s Winter Sports Banquet.  In the morning, I put it in the fridge, all wrapped up in foil with a big sign saying DO NOT EAT…

When I came back to get it for the banquet, some sneaky little devil had eaten half the pan.  I wonder who it was…
Was it the P.E. teacher, trying to get his chocolate fix before he had to teach another period of freshman Health?
Was it the librarian, trying to drown her sorrows due to the fact that no one checks out anything but textbooks anymore?
Was it that “innocent” little freshman boy from Baking club?
I’ll never know…

However, what I do know is that sometimes you just have to go with the flow.
I served this hot little (half-eaten) mess at the sports banquet and it was a hit.  I love telling people what it’s called — talk about a conversation starter 😉 Plus, the intrigue gets people jumping at the chance to try this naughty little dessert without even knowing what it is!

Speaking of going with the flow, I did a little bit of improvisation while making this.  My chocolate pudding was a gummy mess, so I left it out and added a layer of my favorite chocolate-hazelnut cookies instead.  There’s nothing that two tubs of Cool Whip can’t fix ;).

You could make homemade whipped cream and pudding if that floats your boat — but personally, this is one of the few instances where I prefer instant.  It just adds to the naughty, decadent nature of this recipe.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients:
Crust:
1 cup pecans, chopped

3 tbsp white sugar

1/2 cup butter (melted)
1 cup flour

Cream cheese layer

1 8 oz package cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar (use 1/2 cup for less sweetness)

1 cup whipped cream or cool whip

Vanilla Cream Layer
1 package of instant vanilla pudding (5.1 oz or 144 g)

3 cups milk (use 2 cups if you want a firmer pudding)

Chocolate Hazelnut Pirouette Cookies (crushed)
2 cups whipped cream or cool whip
Cocoa Powder

Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. In a mixer mix all the crust ingredients together and press the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  4. Bake it for about 20 minutes.
  5. Prepare the vanilla pudding as per the instructions on the package.
  6. In a mixer add the cream cheese, powdered sugar and the cup of whipped cream. Mix until light and fluffy.
  7. Let
    the crust cool. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the crust evenly.
    Spread the vanilla pudding over the bottom crust. Sprinkle with crushed pirouette cookies Top with the whipped cream and sprinkle with cocoa powder.
  8. Refrigerate for a couple hours so that it sets.

Adapted from Jo Cooks

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recipe showdown: sweet potato casserole

I thought it would be a good idea to try four very different recipes for this showdown. However, each of these recipes were very good in its own way.  I’m not saying that to be diplomatic.  Just like their is a perfect outfit for every occasion, there is a perfect sweet potato casserole for every occasion. Here’s the lowdown.

Martha Stewart’s Sweet Potato Casserole:
Perfect for kids, with a beautiful presentation that adults will enjoy as well!
Martha’s sweet potato casserole has a very simple base (just sweet potatoes, milk, and a dash of salt and pepper). But it’s topped with a big, bubbly layer of toasted marshmallows.  It is by far the prettiest of the four casseroles — the toasted marshmallows look so enticing and beautiful on the table!

Ruth’s Chris Sweet Potato Casserole:
Oh. My. God. This sweet potato casserole is knock-your-socks-off tasty.  The buttery, brown sugar topping gets all crispy and delightful.  My mom said she is still thinking about this casserole to this day!  Sure there’s a lot of buttery and brown sugar-y goodness in there, but in the taste department this casserole was the clear winner.

Oh She Glow’s Not Your Grandmother’s Sweet Potato Casserole:
This casserole held its own extremely well against its buttery and sugary counterparts. Sweetened with maple syrup and topped with coconut oil and whole wheat flour, this casserole is not only healthy, but delicious too! Trust me!

Kraft’s Oat Topped Sweet Potato Crisp:
This one was the only one that wasn’t a huge hit, the oats were a bit mushy, and the cream cheese added a strange tang to the sweet potatoes. 🙁

Hope this quick showdown helps you choose which sweet potato casserole to make for your Thanksgiving feast!

With love,
Erica

blueberry french toast casserole

We have been enjoying the last few days in Point Reyes, CA — soaking up the serene, rural atmosphere away from the bustle of San Francisco. Thankfully, the house where we are staying has a well-stocked kitchen, and I had the opportunity to make this leisurely breakfast to enjoy before heading out and exploring the nature and local flavor of the Bay.

There is something very satisfying about cooking at home on vacation. This is probably due to the fact that we have been eating out for almost every meal — and I can savor every gooey, buttery bite of this french toast casserole while thinking to myself “this would’ve cost me $12.95 at a restaurant.”

This is a very simple recipe that takes less than 10 minutes to prepare and can be made the night before. After soaking in the fridge overnight, you simply pop the dish in the oven, sit back, relax with a magazine and a cup of coffee, and watch the magic happen as it bakes into this glorious, custard-y, gourmet casserole! Forty minutes later, the custardy mixture that you prepared the night before has  gently puffed into this custardy, light, toasted casserole — complete with golden, sweet caramalized edges. 

The plump little blueberries add a tart, sweet pop to every bite (and how could I pass up buying a big, juicy pint of California blueberries?!) What a
great way to get some antioxidants in your diet, am I right?! 😉  This would be the perfect recipe for an impressive, low-maintenance holiday breakfast or brunch party (because who wants to stay up light making time consuming pastries and cinnamon rolls the night before a party?). Or even just to treat your family to a lazy weekend brunch. 

What’s your favorite lazy morning breakfast?
With love,
Erica

Ingredients

  • Butter, for greasing
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (use whole milk for a richer taste)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup, plus extra for serving
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus 1 tablespoon (I used pumpkin pie spice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 loaf day-old challah or sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2  cups fresh or frozen, thawed, and drained blueberries
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Butter a square baking dish (mine was 9×9). Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Add the milk, maple
syrup, cinnamon, and salt. Add the bread cubes and mix until
coated. Stir in the blueberries. Pour the mixture into the prepared
baking dish. I suggest leaving it in the fridge overnight so that the bread can really soak up the custard, but you could bake it now if you wanted to.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a small bowl, mix together the remaining cinnamon and sugar.
Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the egg mixture in an even layer. Bake
for 30-40 minutes until the top is golden and the filling is set. Let sit for 5 minutes after removing from the oven.
Spoon onto serving plates and drizzle with maple syrup.