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

© 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.

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.

creamsicle cupcakes

This morning, I got a text from my friend Tessa,
“2 hour delayyy! Woot woot!”

At first I thought, “thank god! no school!”

Then I realized that I had already gotten out of bed.
Then I realized that I was going to wear heels, but couldn’t now, so I had to re-do my entire outfit to match my snow boots.
Then I realized that I would need more than a long-sleeve t-shirt for track, so I had to repack my entire gym bag.
Then I realized that my schedule would be different due to the delay. So I had to repack my entire backpack.
Then I realized that I was late.

Moments like these remind me why I can’t wait for spring, when I can trade my clunky snow boots for strappy sandals,  my long-sleeve t-shirts with breezy tank tops, and my scalding hot coffee with Orange Creamsicles.  

Starting in March, the ice cream truck starts pulling up to my school.  They have Sno-Cones, Popsicles, and ice cream.  However, as a creature of habit, I always get the Orange Creamsicle.

Creamsicles are my mom’s favorite too, (like mother, like daughter) — and I couldn’t imagine ordering anything else at the ice cream truck.  I don’t know why I love them so much.  The citrusy, fresh orange juice against the mellow, rich and creamy ice cream is to die for.

It’s the perfect balance between refreshing and rich.  It’s the perfect thing to eat on the field when I have a free period at the end of the day. (Shh… don’t tell the P.E. director that I eat ice cream on the field…)

So although spring seems really far away, and you probably can’t even think about holding and ice cream cone right now,  try bringing a bit of sunshine into your kitchen with these creamsicle cupcakes! It’ll knock a bit of the dreary winter chill out of you, and give you something to do during your two hour delay from work or school.

With love,
Erica

P.S.
There seems to be a pattern here — recreating my favorite ice cream flavors in the form of cupcakes (I made these banana split cupcakes last week)

Ingredients
1 white cake mix
1 3-ounce package orange Jell-O, less 2 teaspoons to reserve for the frosting
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup oil
3 eggs
1 tablespoon orange zest.
Frosting:
1 8-ounce package cream cheese; softened
1/2 cup butter; softened
5-6 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons orange Jell-O
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

orange candies (for garnish)
Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 muffin tins with paper liners.
In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, orange jello, water, orange juice, oil, eggs and zest. Beat with a mixer on low speed for about 2 minutes.
Divide batter evenly among muffin wells with an ice cream scoop (I filled mine about 2/3 full). Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the
middle comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.
For
frosting, combine the softened cream cheese and butter and beat until
smooth. Add the vanilla and blend.  Gradually add the
powdered sugar until you get you desired consistency for piping. Set aside about 1/3 of the frosting mixture for the white part of the frosting.  Add the 2
teaspoons of orange jello to the remaining 2/3 of the frosting and beat well to combine.
Set up your piping bag with a large round tip.  Fill it with the orange frosting.  Pipe the orange frosting onto each cupcake, beginning along the outside edge and spiraling in toward the center.
Set up a separate piping bag with a star-shaped tip and fill with the white frosting.  Pipe on the center of each cupcake.
Garnish the top of each cupcake with an orange candy.

Adapted from Celebrations.com

© 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.

apple pie ice cream

You may be under the impression that I have boundless energy.  Decorating pumpkins, taking endless pictures of leaves, and churning my own butter in my spare time.  Confession, I’m one of the laziest people I know.

Here is why.  When an apple pie craving strikes, the thought of cutting myself a slice, walking to the freezer, finding the vanilla ice cream under all of the frozen fruit, searching every single drawer in the kitchen for the ice cream scoop, warming the slice in the microwave for an entire minute and a half, and scooping the ice cream is way too complicated.  I usually end up eating the pie cold. With my hands. And that’s no fun.

That’s why I invented this little concoction, apple pie ice cream.  This recipe does not require an ice cream maker.  Mainly because I am too lazy to order one. But boy is this stuff good.  Apples sauteed in butter, graham cracker crumbs, and homemade caramel sauce make this ice cream taste just like apple pie.

Funny how I’m totally willing to churn my own ice cream, yet too “lazy” to reheat a slice of pie in the microwave.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients 
 
2 cups heavy cream
1 (14 oz.) Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 apple, diced
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup caramel sauce of your choice
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

Whip heavy cream to stiff peaks in large bowl.
In a large frying pan, sautee the diced apple with 2 tablespoons of butter.
Whisk sweetened
condensed milk, melted butter, and cinnamon in large bowl. Stir in apple slices and caramel sauce. Fold in whipped cream.

Pour into a 2-quart container and cover. Freeze 6 hours or until firm. Store in freezer.

oreo cheesecake brownies

We have already established that cream cheese brownies are an absolute must-have in the repertoire of any baker (especially when that baker is often called upon to supply high school bake sales and fundraisers).  But what would happen when you throw a box of Oreos into the batter?

Amazing things, I tell you.

Imagine a big wedge of the Cheesecake Factory’s Oreo Cheesecake that you can hold in your hand.  Sure, it’s not the classiest thing to ever come out of my oven… but who cares.  Warm one (or two) up in the microwave, top with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, and enjoy a filthy good treat. 

With love,
Erica

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups coarsely chopped Oreo cookies

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the
bottom and sides of a 8 inch metal baking pan. Put a long piece of
parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend
up two sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. (This will
make it easy to remove the bars from the pan after they have baked.)
Butter the parchment.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in sugar and
bring to a boil, whisking frequently; boil 1 minute. Set aside to cool
for 5 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat
together cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract until
combined, about 1 minute.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder and salt; whisk until combined.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs until combined. Whisk in melted
butter-sugar mixture until well combined. Stir in flour mixture until
just combined, followed by Oreo cookies.
Spread half of brownie batter into the prepared baking dish, followed by
cream cheese layer. Distribute the remaining brownie mixture in 8
dollops over the cheesecake layer and spread evenly. Swirl in with a
knife or spatula.
Bake for 24-28 minutes, until brownies and cheesecake are set. A knife
inserted into the cheesecake mixture should come out clean and the edges
will be lightly browned.
Let cool completely in pan on a cooling rack before lifting out the parchment paper to remove the brownies.

cream cheese brownies


After reading Deb’s post in the back of Martha Stewart’s Living, I had to make these brownies! Although nothing beats plain, super-rich chocolate brownies, cream cheese brownies are a classic. I love how the tangy cream cheese balances out the deep, fudgy rich chocolate. I always like to have a stash of brownies in the freezer that I can whip out for an unexpected bake sale, a fundraiser, or an afternoon snack ;). However, I don’t think this stash will last too long…

With love,
Erica

P.S. These brownies are super gooey, fudgy and delicious. To cut them into neat little squares, pop the pan in the freezer for a bit, run a sharp knife under hot water, and slice away!

Brownie batter
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

Cheesecake batter
8 ounces cream cheese, well softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
 
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Make brownie batter: Put oven rack in middle position and
preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Heat butter
and chocolate in a 3-quart heavy saucepan — though I did mine
double-boiler style, placing the mixing bowl I was using over simmering
water, thereby creating one less dirty dish and melting the chocolate
more gently — over moderately low heat, whisking occasionally, just
until melted. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and a
pinch of salt until well combined. Whisk in flour until just combined
and spread in baking pan.
Make cheesecake batter: Whisk together cheesecake batter
ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Dollop over brownie batter,
then swirl in with a knife or spatula.
[I actually like using a butter knife because the tip of it is round
enough that you can use it to fold bits of the brownie batter over the cheesecake batter for a more visibly marbled effect. Try it!]
Sprinkle chocolate chips over cheesecake/brownie batter swirl.
Although it might be more logical to just mix them into the cheesecake
batter (and feel free to do this, it will have no ill-effect) I thought
it might interrupt the swirl-ability of it.
Bake brownies: Bake until edges are slightly puffed and center is just set, about 35 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen