s’mores bars

I love online personality tests.

Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.  The ones that tell you what flavor of ice cream you are and which Friday Night Lights character you’re most like.

Making s’mores is a lot like taking one of those online quizzes. I can tell a heck of a lot about you by the way you make your s’mores.  Let me elaborate.

  1. You shove your marshmallow into the fire and burn it to a crisp.  You are a strong believer that marshmallows are one of the few foods that tastes better burnt.  You hate waiting in lines, enjoy Chinese take-out food, and tend to be argumentative.
  2. You think you’ve mastered the s’more technique.  You’re
    Lord of the S’mores.  You might be a dad and/or a camp counselor.  You
    can be found whittling your perfect “s’more stick,” or trying to assist a
    less capable s’more maker with this delicate art.  People may call you a
    “busy-body.”  You enjoy team sports and activities, as long as you’re
    the captain.  You’re secretly a horrible dancer.
  3. You like to sit on the edge of the fire and slowly turn your marshmallow — waiting for that perfect, golden-brown glow.  You play a musical instrument, enjoy crafts, and like long walks on the beach.  You keep an agenda and your socks always match.
  4. You’re a weirdo (and I say that in the best sense of that word.  You do something wacky like catch the marshmallow on fire, and squish it (still ablaze) between the chocolate and graham crackers.  You’re a bit of a badass, but you secretly love to play Scrabble.

See? Didn’t I describe your personality to a T? 😉

Ok, so maybe I should leave online quiz making to the professionals.  But no matter how you toast your marshmallows, the classic s’more will always be an All-American crowd-pleaser. 

Everyone from the varsity baseball team to Carly’s dog walker couldn’t get enough of these s’more bars.  They’re super easy, don’t require an open fire and they don’t burn your tongue.  My favorite way to eat these bad-boys is to pop one in the microwave until the marshmallow puffs up and the chocolate gets all melty.  I close my eyes, and eat it with a spoon.  I can smell the campfire and pine trees of summer already…

How do you roast your marshmallow?

With love,
Erica

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme
Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
In
a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in egg
and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker
crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low
speed until combined.
Divide
dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom
of the prepared pan.  Spread the crust with marshmallow creme.  Sprinkle chocolate chips into a single even layer over the creme.  Place
remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

From Lovin’ From The Oven

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dark chocolate lava cakes

All my life, I’ve had a really hard time picking favorites.  When I was little, people always asked me about my favorite color, favorite food, favorite book etc.  All of the other kids seemed to have an immediate response to these questions, while I would just stand there dumbfounded for a few minutes weighing the pros and cons of each choice.  Even to this day these questions stress me out. Do I have to pick just one?! I can be a little indecisive.

But this past summer, I discovered my favorite chocolate.  This was a pretty huge deal, now that you know that I don’t take favorites lightly.  When I took my first bite of Recchiuti at the San Fransisco Ferry Market, I was in love.  I’ve had my share of different chocolates — but this was nothing like anything I’ve tasted before.  It was smooth, with a bold, fruity chocolate flavor as well as smoky, subtle cocoa flavor.  It was perfect. I brought home a few bars, and although the first few didn’t last long, I had enough self control to save two bars for baking.

I knew I had to bake them into something special.  I didn’t want to drown something that was already so perfect in marshmallow fluff or caramel sauce, nor did I want to bake them into something boring like brownies.  I needed a recipe simple enough to let their flavors shine through.  After waiting six months, I finally found the perfect recipe to use them in.  My good friend’s mom who is an amazing cook made dark chocolate lava cakes for dessert (served with homemade vanilla gelato).   The combination of cool, creamy gelato and warm molten chocolate was absolutely perfect,  and I knew that I had to learn to make these myself.   She let me copy the recipe, and of course, I made them the next day.

Because I only had two bars of Recchiuti, I couldn’t screw this recipe up (talk about pressure!), so I did some research. Here are a few pieces of advice for perfect lava cakes.  Remember to grease your ramekins generously you want the cakes to slide right out.  If they stick, you will end up with a (delicious) pile of goo.  Also, keep an eye on them in the oven, they cook insanely quickly.  You’re looking for cooked outside
& soft inside (soft does not mean jiggly). Start checking at around 10 minutes, 12 minutes worked perfectly for me but every oven is different.

In the end, I breathed a sigh of relief when didn’t screw the recipe up — and my special chocolate bars melted perfectly into these simple, gorgeous little cakes.  I couldn’t have asked for a better recipe to use my favorite chocolate in the world in. The great thing about these cakes that they are so exciting to serve — they look plain, like a boring chocolate muffin… and then all of a sudden simmering chocolate sauce comes oozing out of the center.  Talk about presentation!  All they need is a little dusting of powdered sugar — but if you’re the type to make your own homemade gelato, be my guest. 🙂

With love,
Erica


Ingredients

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter



6 ounces bittersweet chocolate



2 eggs



2 egg yolks



1/4 cup sugar



Pinch of salt



2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 450°. Butter and lightly flour four 6-ounce
ramekins. Tap out the excess flour. Set the ramekins on a baking sheet.

In a double boiler, over simmering water, melt the butter with the
chocolate. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the egg yolks, sugar and
salt at high speed until thickened and pale.

Whisk the chocolate until smooth. Quickly fold it into the egg mixture
along with the flour. Spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins and
bake for 12 minutes, or until the sides of the cakes are firm but the
centers are soft. Let the cakes cool in the ramekins for 1 minute, then
cover each with an inverted dessert plate. Carefully turn each one over,
let stand for 10 seconds and then unmold. Serve immediately. Make Ahead
The batter can be refrigerated for several hours; bring to room temperature before baking.

Recipe by  Jean-Georges Vongerichten

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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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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
 
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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 13×9-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

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    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.