Tag Archives: Beka from Kvetchin’ Kitchen

What we ate this summer.

Boy, did we eat well this summer! We may have consumed more than our fair share of fresh veggies in a wide variety of simple yet flavorful dishes. What is summer for, after all, if not the consumption of goodies from the farmers market and excuse to work on your tan? Here’s a peek at what we ate this summer.

Chicken Stir-Fry - My Bowl

It started with this chicken stir-fry over rice. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but The Complete Package and I love rice. Like L-O-V-E it. You could put a bowl of plain rice in front of us and we’d be happy, but smothering it with this zesty stir-fry made us really happy campers. The recipe came from the Weber’s New Real Grilling Cookbook. Seen it yet? Well, you should. Holy smokes (yes, that’s a grill joke) – it’s exceptional.

When I brought this book home from the BlogHer Food Conference in Austin (Thank you, Dole!), we immediately decided to jump in and try as many recipes as we could as quickly as possible. Here’s another winner from the book.

Weber  - Avocado, Red Onion & Sun-Dried Tomato Quesadillas

This beauty is an avocado, red onion and sun-dried tomato quesadilla. It’s ooey, gooey, crispy and crunchy. It was meat-free, but it still had it all, and in an easy to eat portable package, too. So much flavor!

This next one came from an internet search TCP did for smoked chicken. Now that he has officially conquered brisket and ribs (his are to die for), he decided to tackle smoked chicken. The recipe he found was for a ‘competition grade’ chicken, and while I don’t think he’ll be competing anywhere, this bird deserves a blue ribbon. Isn’t it gorgeous? Smokey, juicy poultry in motion.

A Smoked Chicken

Next was our pizza phase – where we attempted to live out our “More Is More” motto to the fullest. This one was grilled chicken with a smokey BBQ sauce, red onion, sliced jalapenos and a blend of cheddar and monterrey jack cheese.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Think that one was loaded? You ain’t seen nothing yet. THIS baby was loaded. I call it “All The Veggies” pizza, and it was an exercise in excess. Instead of a tomato sauce, I smeared a whole wheat dough with basil pesto, then layered on oodles of veggies – artichoke hearts, mushrooms, orange & yellow bell peppers, roasted piquillo peppers, fresh spinach, kalamata olives, and red onions – then topped it with ricotta, toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of olive oil. We could hardly pick it up, but the flavors were over-the-top fabulous.

DeLallo Veggie Pizza

Speaking of flavor, this simple dish from the Weber’s grilling book blew our minds. It is deceptive in that it doesn’t look like much, but practically explodes in your mouth. Yummy is an understatement. It starts with eggplant grilled over charcoal, which is then topped with a sun-dried tomato, shallot & garlic relish dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette. Wow. Just wow.

Grilled Eggplant with Sun-Dried Tomato Topping

Next up was a Cuban Sandwich made with leftover smoked pork tenderloin (also from the Weber book), but the star of this show was the tostones we made on the side. Ever had tostones? It’s hard to describe them, but if you ever have an opportunity to try them (or even make them), take it. They’re like thick chips made from plantains. Now, if you think plantains are just fat bananas, you are mistaken. They’re actually starchy like a potato, and unless you let them over-ripen, they are not sweet. Think of them as a potato substitute.

Cuban Sandwiches from Grilling Book - July10, 2013

To make tostones, peel and slice plantains and fry them in a little canola oil until they just start to crisp a little. Remove them from the oil, drain on paper towels, and flatten them with a metal spatula. Then, and I know this sounds strange, throw them BACK into the oil until they are a golden, crispy brown. Sprinkled with kosher salt & served with your favorite salsa, I promise you will never reach for corn chips again.

All this talk of chips and pizza is making me thirsty, which brings me to my last treat of the summer. The fine folks at Double Decker were kind enough to ask if I’d like to try their wine. I don’t think I could have said “Heck yes!” any faster. To my surprise, they sent two full-size bottles – Pinot Grigio (white) and their Red Blend. The red was opened first. We drank half the bottle with a nice steak dinner and used the last half the bottle for Blackberry Sangria. Mmm…. I can still smell and taste it just looking at this photo. My friend Beka pointed out that it appears the ice is giving a fist-bump. Wildly appropriate; it rocked!

Double Decker Blackberry Sangria - Inside NanaBread's Head

Blackberry Sangria is my new ‘must have’ for summer. To make, muddle one pint of fresh blackberries with 1/3 cup of sugar and add to a bottle of Double Decker Red Blend. Cap it and put in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours so the berries & wine can fall in love. Then strain and serve over ice with a few fresh berries for garnish. So good, and so refreshing. This would also work with red plums or raspberries. The pinot grigio is superb and crisp on its own, but also makes a great summer sangria with the addition of peaches, apples, orange slices and a handful of white grapes. If you lika de’ bubbles, top it with a splash of champagne, club soda or lemon-lime soda. Then sit back and reflect on a summer worthy of the record books.

Did you try anything this summer that knocked your socks off? Do tell!

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Filed under Food & Recipes, Miscellaneous Thoughts, Things I Love

It’s time! Bake Sale for Beka time!

Bake Sale logo courtesy of Megan @CountryCleaver

Bake Sale logo courtesy of Megan @CountryCleaver

Update: The Bake Sale for Beka is now closed. I’d like to thank Taryn L. from the Seattle area for placing the winning bid on my Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies – a whopping $60! This year’s Bake Sale raised almost $1,700 for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. Unbelievable, and completely impossible without the support of our friends, family and bake sale bidders. So thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping us help Beka reach her goal!

We’ve waited so patiently and it’s finally here! The Bake Sale for Beka, also known as Cookies for Crohn’s, kicks off this morning and I’m so excited to be participating! As I mentioned earlier, I’m donating four dozen Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies dipped in chocolate. What kind of chocolate, you ask? Well, whatever chocolate the winning bidder chooses, of course!

Win my cookies, and you can pick whichever rich Guittard chocolate enrobes them – white, milk or dark. But wait, did you just say you’d pick all three? Well then, place the winning bid on my cookies and tell them you’d like them as a ‘variety pack’ and that’s exactly what you’ll get! I’ll stop at nothing to raise more money for Beka and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America!

To recap – that’s four dozen handmade shortbread cookies chock full of toasted almonds, dried Michigan cherries and real butter, dipped in the chocolate of your choice. Heck, I may even throw in a jar of homemade jam for the lucky winner. It’s insanity! So what are you waiting for? Go bid on these beauties!

Cherry & Almond Shortbreads - Inside NanaBread's Head

To browse the mouth-watering line-up of goodies donated by 35+ food bloggers from across America, visit our hostess with the mostess – Megan at www.countrycleaver.com. Her Bake Sale for Beka post outlines the on-line bidding guidelines and instructions you need to make sure a box of baked goods arrives on YOUR doorstep. You do want fresh-baked cookies on your doorstep, right? So let’s DO this and help put Crohn’s & Colitis in our rear-view mirror.

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Flourless Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscoff Cookies {that’s a mouthful!}

Peanut Butter Cocoa & Biscoff Cookies - Inside NanaBread's Head

Try saying that three times fast. It’s a mouthful of title, but it’s also a mouthful of cookie. I thought about naming them “Pantry Cleaner Cookies” because that’s what I was doing when I thought of these. I found a half-empty jar of peanut butter and half a jar of Biscoff. Could they be combined? Is that legal? After a quick tweet to my Biscoff guru Megan, I decided to go for it. And if you’re going to combine peanut butter with Biscoff, why not throw in some dark chocolate because that’s how my mind works. And because more is… MORE!

For these cookies you will need:
1 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
1 1/4 cups Biscoff cookie butter
1 3/4 cups brown sugar, packed
1 package (5 ozs.) vanilla instant pudding mix
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt

The vanilla pudding mix may seem odd, but my friend Beka put it in her peanut butter cookies for Sweets Week and they looked amazing, so I went for it. Using the paddle attachment (if you have a stand mixer), combine the peanut butter, cookie butter, brown sugar, dry pudding mix, eggs and vanilla extract until incorporated. Stop and scrape down the bowl, then turn the mixer to medium high and beat for 5 minutes more, or until the brown sugar is no longer gritty.

Stop the mixer; add the cocoa, baking soda & salt. Beat until all dry ingredients are thoroughly blended. Stop the mixer and check your cookie batter. It may seem a little dry, but should hold together when you pinch it into a ball.

Remove the beater and pour the dough out onto your work surface. I dumped mine onto a sheet of waxed paper, forming a line of dough about 18″ long. Using your hands, smash the cookie dough into an even log and wrap it in the waxed paper. Secure each end by twisting; you can secure it with a chip clip or rubber band. Once wrapped, roll the cookie dough log as if it’s a rolling-pin, making sure the entire roll is uniform in circumference. Pop the roll of cookie dough into the fridge for 1 hour or freezer for 30 minutes to make it easier to slice.

Once chilled, remove from the fridge or freezer and pre-heat your oven to 350F. Using a sharp knife, cut the roll of dough into 1/2″ slices. Note: I like my cookies thick and chewy. If you like yours thin & crispy, slice them thinner. If you intend to glaze yours like I did, leave them in smooth slices. If you’d like to skip the glaze and eat them plain, you can use a fork to make traditional hash marks on the top of each cookie. To glaze or not to glaze? That is the question.

PBCB Cookies - Slice & Bake - Inside NanaBread's Head

Lining your cookie sheets with parchment or Silpat mats; place cookies 1″ apart. Pop them into the oven while the dough is still very cold and bake for 10-14 minutes depending on how crispy you want them to be. As I said, I like mine thick & chewy, so I baked each batch for 12 minutes. They were still soft in the center and just beginning to crack around the edges like so. If you like them thin & crispy, watch them starting at 10 minutes, and check often so they don’t burn.

PBCB Cookies - Baked to a Crackle - Inside NanaBread's Head

Can I just take a minute to say that one of my favorite things about baking cookies is when I have them all out on the counter, in all stages of ‘in progress’. There’s something about seeing them out there, with all the steps visible, that makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something.

PBCB Cookies - Cookie Station - Inside NanaBread's Head

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheets for at least 5-10 minutes before moving them onto sheets of parchment to cool completely. Because these are flourless, they are more fragile when warm. Move them too soon, and they may crumble. Now – glaze or no glaze? I vote glaze!

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze:
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4-6 tablespoons Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate syrup
2-3 tablespoons milk

Place the peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high power for 30 seconds to soften it. Sift in the powdered sugar and whisk until incorporated; add the chocolate syrup and whisk until smooth. If it gets too thick too quickly, pop it back in the microwave for another 30 seconds. At this point, it will be too thick to pipe, so add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until the mixture is glossy and the texture of a thick caramel sauce.

I like to put a quart freezer bag into a drinking glass (folding the top over the edge of the glass) and scrape the glaze into the bag using a spatula. To glaze the cookies, press the air out of the bag and twist the bag to press the glaze into one corner. Snip the tip off the corner and pipe immediately onto the cookies.

PBCB Cookies - Inside NanaBread's Head

I push mine close together and use a straight line motion, moving back & forth over each row. But if you’re feeling frisky, you can always:

PBCB Cookies - Swirled Glaze - Inside NanaBread's Head

Allow them to sit for 1-2 hours, until the glaze is firm to the touch. Store in airtight containers. Kept in the fridge, they should last up to 2 weeks; un-refrigerated, they should be good for 5-6 days (if they last that long). If you’ve got a cup of coffee or a glass of milk, these will be all kinds of dangerous.

PBCB Cookies - Finished - Inside NanaBread's Head

PS: These are for our annual ‘ladies only’ spring fling weekend, Hoegarden. I’ll get back to you next week and let you know how these went over, if I survive it. Want to find out more? Click on ‘Hoegarden Weekends’ on the right sidebar under Tidbits You Can Choose From. We are THAT family. No apologies. None.

PPS: If peanut butter is a no-no in your house due to allergies, you might try swapping Sun Butter for peanut butter. My friend Kisten does it often, and she swears by it. And I would give Kirsten a kidney, so if I can trust her so can you.

PPSS: I don’t really have a third one; I just wondered if you’d keep reading. :D

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The Mouse Project

You guys… I thought the 50th birthday shenanigans ended on Thursday when my blogging besties threw me a virtual birthday party, but no. They upped the ante with what has been known on Twitter as #TMPWatch2013. When it first popped up in my Twitter feed, I admit – I ignored it. I have goofy friends and there’s always some kind of ‘watch of the week’ going on. But when they started mentioning crafts, injuries, cat-tastrophes and swearing, it got my attention. Eventually, I wailed “I WANT IN!” Bet that got a laugh.

Kat stepped up and explained that it was a craft project. A “stitch & bitch” of sorts. She even produced a photo of an apron she was working on. There was embroidery of cilantro. (Yes, cilantro.) But she was a deceiver because that apron was distraction bait. They were scheming behind my back. My suspicions were confirmed when six boxes arrived, all with the same taunt written across the outside – “DO NOT OPEN UNTIL ALL PACKAGES ARRIVE”.

Three days I waited. There was a lot of tweeting back & forth. I kept saying “I can’t stand it!” and they kept saying “Don’t you dare touch them until they’re all there!” When the final box arrived last night, it was on like Donkey Kong. I did my best to live tweet as each box was opened, but I couldn’t help but wish they were all perched in my living room drinking margaritas with me.

Side Note: Now I know why my Felt Mouse Tutorial got so many hits last month.

Here’s a photo line-up of The Mouse Project. I still can’t stopped laughing.

Collage - Kirsten
So many wonderful things in Kirsten’s box. The mice are hilarious. Old MouseDonald comes with a pig that oinks (and the eyes light up). The Ranger Mouse was a joint project with her oldest son. He sent a book to go along with it. There’s Laverne & Squirrely, a travel mouse, a pie baker, Jeanne Cash (dressed in black & an inside joke with TCP), and an adorable garden gnome mouse complete with shears. Bonus swag: Danish chocolate & girly bling. Hey, Kirsten… I think this birthday brought both Freaked Out and peeing my pants a little.

Collage - Allison
Allison’s mice are a perfect blend of sweet, touching and hilarious. Examples:
Duchess Emouska – who look a little like Cruella DeVille; she rocks zebra print
Mousy Gras – raise your hand if you know how she got all those beads
Dr. Pellet – the mousetroenterologist reminding us to help prevent colon cancer
Havarti Marti – she’s here for the party; we’re gonna get along fine

Allison always keeps me in stitches. Even her card made me laugh out loud.

Collage - Carrie
I don’t know who to feel sorrier for – Carrie or her Vlad the Impaler mouse. She had the week from hell and yet still made time to make these mice. There’s a lady mouse in pearls, a gentleman mouse in a bowtie, Little Willie who sings Texas classics on his guitar, and the mouse that was obviously the last straw. Yes – those are real sewing needles protruding from his body, and yes – she shipped it that way. I’d love to know what her post office thought. Not just for the voodoo-like use of needles, but for the toddler meltdown that went with shipping it. Despite it all, her mice are testimony to her perseverance. Thank you for hanging in there, Carrie. I am completely charmed.

Collage - Megan
Sweet Megan. She writes the blog Country Cleaver. In her blog archives, you’ll find the story about how she chose the name for her blog. It involved a photo shoot in which she did her best June Cleaver impersonation. She channeled her Country Cleaver persona into this sweet little mouse, complete with a stylish apron and pearls. I’m guessing she loves Nutella and salmon, although not at the same time. I’m also pretty sure she’s addicted to Downton Abbey and all things Royal. Her dream man can wield an ax and wear flannel like a boss. She’s lovely and has her act together, just like Megan.

Collage - Monica
Meet Leilani. She is the Spirit of Aloha, and she traveled the furthest to be here. She is sporting the latest in swimwear from the great state of Hawaii and bears the traditional greeting of a lei. This cutie is the creation of Monica, the Grommom, who shares her life homeschooling four adorable surfer dudes (groms) without seeming to rub our noses in the fact that she lives in paradise. Her tropical flair brings sunshine into our lives and her iPhone shots of sunsets and beaches inspire us. Monica is a doll, and so is her sweet mouse.

Collage - Beka
Beka of Kvetchin’ Kitchen is many things – smart, funny, strong – but I had no idea she was a crafter. She is responsible for most uses of the hashtag #AllTheSwears on Twitter while #TMP2013 was being chatted about. Girlfriend has hidden talents, and felt mice is one of them. Who knew? Beka made five mice, but one got ripped to shreds by her cats. Such a shame. We could have created a killer Walking Dead diorama for him. But let’s celebrate the survivors – a mustached gentleman with an engagement ring at the ready, a sweetie holding a pink rose who I suspect is about to say “Yes!”, a Mouscasso portrait (very creative) and The Birthday Queen, complete with royal crown & scepter.

Collage - Katie
I think it takes a fellow Texan to understand why a tie-dyed “Keep Austin Weird” mouse named Leslie would make me furiously happy, and Katie from The Hill Country Cook is just that Texan. Her mice are so reflective of her personality – fun & fabulous. There is a polka dot “Surprise!” mouse, a little sweetie hugging a birthday candle, and a trademarked Peace, Love & Baking mouse. Those symbols on the bottom of the blue mouse are a peace sign, a heart and a whisk. Peace, Love & Baking is how Katie ends each blog post, so it’s only fitting that one of her mice bears her emblem. Also stashed in Katie’s box – a mylar birthday banner & a party horn. Party on, Katie!

Collage - Madeline
I think it’s safe to say that Madeline surprised us all. We had no idea she was a closet crafter. Check out her mice. There is a sweet gray mouse in an apron with buttons, a daring hot pink lady bringing the bling, a sweetheart of a purple mouse embellished with red heart buttons (five hearts representing the fact that we both come from families with five girls), and the most adorable little aviator mouse complete with flight wings and a tiny toy airplane. Wow. Just wow.

Collage - Kat
Of course Kat, our resident fashionista, would go full-on glamorpuss. She created not one but SIX fearless females she calls the “Cougar Cocktail Conga Mice”. Here it is in Kat’s own words: “They’re all named Tammy. Naturally, they’ll paint your nails, tease your hair and cover you in rhinestones. It’s just how they operate.” Only Kat would send All The Tammys. It’s like ZsaZsa Gabor had a box of mice babies, and they are priceless! All is forgiven for the great Cilantro Apron Deception, Kat. All is forgiven. PS – they came with hooch!

Collage - Mads
Next up was Mads’ two mouse besties – Mildred & Sophie. They’re the Thelma & Louise of mice. Mildred just turned 50, and just like me she likes to stir up mischief and enjoys a good Bloody Mary. Her BFF Sophie is more inclined to pink fruity cocktails and riding in convertibles. Together, they are unstoppable and despite a few incidents involving glue they still look marvelous. Must be all that sunshine and beautiful weather on the California coast. Real Mousewives?

Collage - Anne
Anne of From My Sweet Heart blog is known for her beautiful desserts. Each of her sweet creations is a masterpiece and each will have you licking your computer screen. It should be no surprise then that she would channel that same artistic ability into felt mice, but we were still surprised. Just look at her beautiful works of art – there is a sweet berry-laden Flour Power mouse, a pie maker wielding a spatula, a cookie baker complete with cookie jar and slotted spatula, a rolling pin baker who loves her job, a sweet pink donut mouse (a girl after my own heart), a hot pink party mouse, and a sweet cotton candy confection that is as sweet as her treat. From My Sweet Heart in mouse form. Bravo, Anne. Bravo!

So much love. So much fun. So much anticipation followed by so much squeeing. And so many back stories – both for the mice and for all the secrecy, the glue gun & sewing needle injuries, and the swearing. Apparently there was a LOT of swearing. Beka’s two cats even brought violence and drama to the mix. RIP Unknown Soldier. You will not be forgotten.

To all the ladies who helped make my 50th birthday one for the record books, thank you a MILLION times over. Words can’t express not only how much I feel loved, but how much I love each of them in return. Some day we’ll all get together, and when we do it will look like one of those rugby tussles where all the sweaty men tackle each other and roll around on the ground. Except that we’ll be laughing instead of sweating. Everyone knows women don’t sweat – they mist.

PS – Special thanks to Kirsten, whom I suspect was the ringleader in all of this, but who is too modest to take the credit. Blame. No, credit. It was ALL amazing. I never saw any of this coming, so either she is a Super Sneak, or I am a mullet. Please refrain from voting out loud. Thank you.

PPS – I have no idea how I’m going to display all these mice, but rest assured that they will not be hidden away and forgotten. If I have to ask The Complete Package build a wall of shelves in my sewing room, so be it. (Right, honey? Right pookie bear? Right snoogie oogums? Right sugar booger? Honey? Hello?)

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Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Craft Projects, Things I Love

It’s Beer Week! Wait… what?!?

You heard me… Beer Week. And I’m not a beer drinker. There, I said it. It feels good to put it out there from the very beginning. My name is NanaBread and I am not a beer drinker. I never really have been, except for this one time in Fayetteville, Arkansas in the very early 80’s when I drank half-frozen slushy beer loaded with green olives. And it was delicious. If you’re not a drinker, stay with me. There’s a cake later in this post. I promise.

When Beer Week was proposed by my blogging friends and I was intimidated. But then I made beer bread and saw a few chocolate stout cakes on Pinterest, so after some research I embraced our Beer Week with open arms. In fact, I embraced it so well I ordered and drank two beer samplers on vacation in Vancouver. Here’s what I tried (for the team, of course):

The Sampler at Granville Island Brewing Co., Vancouver

Yeah. Doesn’t look like something a non-beer drinker would order, does it? For this one, The Complete Package helped out. It was a good plan – he enjoyed the boring flavors (pale ale, lager) and I enjoyed sampling the more exotic flavors (raspberry, honey, maple cream). Check this out:

The laminated Tasting Map was the best coaster ever & so informative!

What I liked best about this Granville Island Brewing sampler was that their flavored beers were gently flavored. Raspberry beer can be obnoxious, but this one was gently kissed with raspberry flavor. And it was lovely. My favorite was the maple cream ale. Second favorite was the one placed in the “Limited Release” section of the tasting mat – Ginger. Mmmm… ginger. And third place goes to the honey lager. Hard to describe, but so very easy to drink.

Next up (and several days later, I promise) was the Irish sampler from Mahony & Sons at Canada Place in Vancouver. The Complete Package abandoned me and ordered his own beer, so I was on my own for this sampler. I did what any team player would do – I cracked my knuckles and rolled my head to loosen up my shoulders and dug in. “We can do this!” It’s our family motto. TCP’s beer:

He wanted something light to go with salmon. Tsk.

Compared to his, mine looks like a Party on a Plank. This one included four Irish classics – 6 ounces each of Smithwick’s, Harp, Kilkenny and Guinness.

Slainte! (SLAHN-chə) – that’s Old Irish for ‘good health’ or something like that

I started with the pale lager and worked my way up to the Guinness.

Light & refreshing, but still a lager. Meh.

Then the Kilkenny Irish Red Cream Ale.

Oooo… I liked this one a lot; so I set it aside so I could savor it later.

Third – the Smithwick’s.

Smithwick’s Irish Ale – it was just okay; sorry, Smithwick.

And lastly, the Guinness. It’s so dark it looks like iced coffee.

Gorgeous, if a beer can be called that; who can resist that foam?

And that leads us to Beer Week. I chose the Guinness and I paired it with dark chocolate, then smothered it in a Caramel & Kahlua Whipped Cream. Sounds pretty good, don’t you think? Want a sneak peek? Here ya’ go.

Dark Chocolate Stout Cake with Caramel & Kahlua Whipped Cream

Here’s how I made the dark chocolate stout cake:
(adapted from The Realistic Nutritionist‘s bundt cake)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons butter, softened
4 ounces applesauce
2 whole eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup Guinness stout
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a jellyroll pan with parchment or a silpat mat, then spray with Pam for Baking or grease & flour liberally; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugars, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; whisk to combine. Add the softened butter, applesauce, eggs, vanilla extract and Guinness and beat with an electric mixer until thoroughly combined. Stop the mixer and fold in the chocolate chips. Pour into the jellyroll pan and spread evenly to all edges and corners. Tap gently on the counter, then pop it into the oven. Bake approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick just comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool completely.

For the Caramel & Kahlua Whipped Cream:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 cup thick dulce de leche caramel
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon Kahlua (or espresso, cooled)

In a saucepan, combine the whipping cream, espresso powder and caramel; arm over low heat, whisking until the caramel is melted and thoroughly combined. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool; refrigerate for at least 2 hours (I put mine in my KitchenAid mixer bowl and placed the whole thing in the fridge so the bowl & cream were both cold). Once properly chilled, place the bowl onto the mixer and whip until soft peaks start to form. Add the sugar and Kahlua and continue to beat until it begins to thicken. In my case, stiff peaks did not form and that’s okay. It’s all going to be layered with cake in a minute.

To assemble:

1. Start with the cake (this is where parchment/silpat mats come in handy).

Baking it in a jelly roll pan makes the cake layers about 1/2″ thick.

2. Use a round metal biscuit cutter to cut the cake into circles. How big should your circles be? That depends on what you’re building your layers in. Measure your jar or glass to determine which size cutter or can to use, then cut the cake into circles. One jellyroll pan yielded 30 cake circles for me.

A metal biscuit cutter makes quick work of cutting the layers.

3. To pipe the whipped cream, I like to spoon mine into a ziploc-style plastic bag. It helps to put that bag into a glass and fold the top edge of the bag over the glass. Once the bag is full, pull it out of the glass, press out the excess air and zip it shut.

My favorite piping tool – a plastic bag; makes for easy clean up, too.

4. Using a pair of scissors, snip the corner off the bag just before you start piping whipped cream. I like to keep a small but deep mixing bowl nearby so I can set the bag down without it falling over and spilling out.

Snip the corner and start piping; when you’re done, throw it away.

5. Start by placing a cake round in the bottom of your jar or glass; top with a 1/2″ layer of whipped cream, then continue to rotate cake and cream layers.

Start with cake & work your way up to within 3/4″ of the top.

6. Finish with a nice swirl of the whipped cream.

A layer of the whipped cream goes on top.

Then a nice spoonful of caramel goes on top of the cream.

Then sprinkle with cake crumbs. Nothing goes to waste.

6. If you’re using serving glasses, cover them with plastic wrap and keep them refrigerated until just before serving. If you’re using canning jars, place a lid and ring on the top and tighten gently. Then feel free to decorate any way you see fit. I went with burlap and ribbon, and I was happy with the way they turned out.

That’s burlap held with a rubber band; rustic yet decorative.

Finish with a pretty brown satin ribbon & suddenly it’s fancy.

And that is my version of Dark Chocolate Stout Cake with Caramel & Kahlua Whipped Cream. My favorite thing about this dessert is… everything. I love how they look layered in jars. I love that the jars make them portable. I love that these were even better the next day, which means you can make them in advance and have more free time to entertain. It also means the leftovers (if any) will keep getting better and better until they’re gone.

Oh, yeah…there’s the money shot. Someone pass me a spoon.

Trust me, these go fast and they go down smooth – even if you’re not a beer drinker. If you are, then these are just the thing, lassie. Cures what ales ya’.

Now who’s ready for another round?
Visit these Beer Week bloggers throughout the week to see what they’re up to:

Monday:
Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic – introduces us to a local Michigan home brewer turning passion into a business in her “Welcome to Beer Week” intro

Tuesday:
Madeline at Munching in the Mitten – shares her thoughts on Beer Week as well as a recipe for Pumpkin Beer Bread – just in time for fall
and
Kat at Tenaciously Yours – shares an overview of Gasthof’s Oktoberfest where young & old come together to celebrate what else but BEER!

Wednesday:
Anne at From My Sweet Heart – turns beer into Pumpkin Ale Pretzel Caramels; what sweet magic is this?
and
Lauren at Climbing Grier Mountain – tries to steal The Complete Package from me with her Pale Ale Shrimp Po’Boy; it’s one of his all-time favorites

Thursday:
Megan at Country Cleaver – celebrates her heritage and Octoberfest in style with one of my favorites – Schnitzel & Dumplings
and
Beka at Kvetchin’ Kitchen – joins in the fun with her review of the Outlander Brewery.

Friday:
Mads at La Petite Pancake – creates a fiesta for your mouth with her luscious Beer Battered Shrimp Tacos
and
Allison at Decadent Philistines – takes Four Peaks Brewery Kilt Lifter Scottish Ale to new levels with a spicy German mustard, ale-soaked sweet potato oven fries and Maple-Ale Ice Cream; some people are just overachievers.

Saturday:
Katie The Hill Country Cook – visits the Double Horn Brewery outside Marble Falls, Texas to take in $2 pints & Happy Hour Apps
and
Kirsten of Comfortably Domestic – is back with Black & Tan Brownies
and
Carrie at Bakeaholic Mama – thinks outside the box with hard cider and a fabulous Woodchuck Sweet Potato Bisque; this is why I love fall.

I’ll be your mouth is watering now, isn’t it? I’ll be updating the links above throughout the week, so stay tuned. Beer Week may just prove to be our greatest endeavor to date. Cheers!

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