Nutella and sea salt caramel chocolate fudge (and a failure turned positive)

(Please note that I am writing this post on Sunday, June 5.  I am writing this message to the future.  All feelings of anguish expressed within this post will be long gone [hopefully] at point of reading. Caution)

I FEEL SO ILL.

I would not recommend my Sunday afternoon eating habits to anyone.  Just in case you’re wondering, marshmallow fluff and nutella are a terrible, terrible combination.

And by terrible, I mean utterly and irrevocably delicious…until you eat several hundred spoonfuls straight from the jar.

So much happiness, so much pain.

My afternoon: Take heaping spoonful of marshmallow fluff.  Insert in mouth.  Take heaping spoonful of nutella (note: ensure you use a different spoon and eat the marshmallow first, as to not dirty the marshmallow spoon with melted nutella).  Insert in mouth.  Enjoy.  Repeat for the next three hours.

If it was possible to die from a sugar overload, I would not have made it through the day.  You can’t really blame me though – I have never in my life purchased a jar of marshmallow fluff or nutella, so I had 21 years of spreadable sugar deprivation to make up for.

So why did I break the ever-established rules of my dietician mother and get these two nutritionally void products?

To make nutella and sea salt caramel chocolate fudge, of course.

Instagram, love, love, love

As the title suggests, this was quite the decadent dessert.  So many layers.  So much sugar.  Enough to make any one diabetic, really.

As I often do with complex, multi-layered foods, here is the anatomy of this sinfully rich dessert:

Layer 1: Melted chocolate and nutella fudge
Layer 2: Homemade sea salt caramel
Layer 3: Chopped hazelnuts
Layer 4: Some sort of strange marshmallow fudge layer, which utilized an ENTIRE JAR of marshmallow fluff (this post is warranting so much capitalization, apologies)
Layer 5: More melted chocolate and nutella fudge.

The layer-by-layer breakdown photo (minus the top fudge layer) was inspired by my dear friend and fellow blogger Brittany.  Visit her blog, it is awesome.

Now, I was originally supposed to make this fudge for an office meeting we were having on Monday.

WHAT WAS I THINKING? 

The only age group who enjoys layer upon layer of sugar is the under 20 bracket.  Not grown ups.  Perhaps what happened next was for the best.

Yep, you guessed it.  The fudge got stuck in the bowl.

It was completely my fault.  The blogger whose recipe I was using said this should be made in a big 9×9 pan.  Instead, I insisted on using a deep Pyrex dish (to be frank, I was too lazy to run over to my old house to get my baking pan…lame).  Clearly the part of my brain that determines when rational decisions should be made was on an extended vacation.

The emotional breakdowns that resulted from this sticky situation were not pleasant, and I am embarrassed to say that I ate away my feelings.  Yes, that’s right.  I ate even more.

The pictures you see in this post are of the two almost-full pieces of fudge that I managed to salvage and make look presentable.

So what will I do now?  Eat the destroyed fudge with ice cream, of course!

In the meantime, though, I think I need a glass of milk.

A word to the wise: if you are to recreate this recipe, please, please, PLEASE follow the actual instructions.  None of this Pyrex nonsense.

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Chipotle chocolate brownies

ALSO technically known as Cinco de Mayo pt. 3, but it is really too late in the month for me to include that in the title. Shame on me.  SHAME.

My half-week blog neglect came as a result of this kid visiting Ottawa for the past few days.  With Matt having left last night, I declare today to be my day of refocus.  I intend to clean my bedroom (which is a complete hole), do piles and piles of laundry, and clear out the grocery store in a haul that is worthy of a king (on my bicycle of course).  I start my summer job at University Affairs magazine tomorrow, and am hoping to quickly get into a routine that sees me working, biking, and food-ing out in a hardcore way.

But first, I must tell you about these brownies.

Yum, yum, yum.

In the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, I decided to do a spiced chocolate/Mexican chocolate brownie adaption.  My choice of dessert was also swayed by sheer laziness, and a lack of desire to create the complicated (but traditional) deep fried banana/ice cream combinations that Cinco de Mayo websites were suggesting.  And so, the chipotle chocolate brownie was created.

I half made up the recipe, combining a variety of ingredients and instructions from a few different websites.  The result was a gigantic 9×13 pan of brownies.  Please note, there are currently two people living in my house.  Much brownie was eaten for breakfast, lunch, supper and the occasional midnight snack.  Half was given to my landlord’s wife as a “thank you for fixing our dryer/thanks for letting us live in this awesome house” gift.

I bake for people, that’s just what I do.

Turns out my spontaneous purchasing of a $6 bottle of chipotle chili pepper was totally worth it.  The brownies had a divine spicy kick and were moist and slightly undercooked on the inside (just the way I like them).  On top, a generous spoonful of dulce de leche ice cream to cool off the spiced hotness of the brownie.  Delicious on so many different levels.

And with that, my friends, I bid an “adios” to Mexican cuisine for another few months!

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Monster-sized Chocolate Chip Oreo Cookies

These cookies were so large they should have had their own gravitational pull.

When I first saw these cookies on Tastespotting I knew I had to make them.  The question was: for whom?  My roommates have been experiencing a sugar overload in the past few weeks thanks to all the leftover cupcakes I’ve been bringing home.  Our house cupcake count is ranging somewhere between 30-40 cupcakes, which I think is an exceptionally impressive number.  Anyways, I wanted to expand the sugar appreciation beyond the walls of my house and find some new recipients for my baking.

And so, I made these for my multimedia journalism class.  A few people in the class have been bugging me since the beginning of the term to bring in some sort of dessert, so I thought I should finally oblige.  As the end of term creeps closer (only a week left now!) I get lured deeper into an obsessive baking fixation.  Baking is my means of procrastination and, whether my schedule likes it or not, I intend to spend at least 12 hours baking within the next week.

But back to the cookies.  They are HUGE!  In accordance with the recipe, I took an Oreo cookie (the double stuff variety, of course) and plopped a scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough on the top and bottom of the Oreo.  Then I smushed the dough around the Oreo, completely hiding it and creating a dough ball that was approximately the size of a small softball.  The finished result was a cookie so large you had to eat it like a hamburger.

Make these for kids birthday parties if you dare.

Wicked co-ordination between cookie and oven mitts

Source: Picky Palate via The Kitchenarian

Two-tiered Chocolate Zucchini Yogurt Cake with Raspberry Yogurt Icing

Let me start off by saying I am very proud of this cake and its very long name.  This dessert represents a culmination of practicality and taste, the first because I got to use up so much stuff from my fridge, and the second because of the amazing deliciousness of combined raspberry and chocolate flavours.

The idea for this cake was born on Sunday night when I was bored at home.  I was feeling guilty for having so much stuff in the mini fridge that my roommate Britt and I share, and was in one of my inexplicable baking moods (normally these happen at around 9:15 p.m. on a school night).  In the fridge, I had a tub of plain yogurt that was very near expiration date, so I knew I had to use that up.  Since zucchini has become my favourite vegetable, I decided I might as well go all out and make a zucchini cake.  Google is the most wonderful tool for finding strange recipes.  This recipe came from the site Cooper’s Kitchen (this dude Cooper apparently has his own show) and was absolutely perfect for what I wanted to do.

Once my cake came out of the oven, it struck me that I needed to whip up some icing.  Since I also had a large amount of raspberry yogurt left, I trolled the Internet some more before setting on the raspberry yogurt icing recipe that I adapted for this cake.  I had a mini Hilary baking freak out after the icing was done since it was kind of liquidy still, but this was quickly fixed by a morning of refrigerated glory.  I didn’t have fresh raspberries to put on my cake, so I decided to pipe dollops of raspberry jam on top of it.  Way to use my problem solving skills, right?

When I was at my part-time job on Monday, I was talking to my co-worker Natalie about this most recent baking adventure.  I quickly rhymed off the name of the cake, and watched in horror as she crinkled her nose in disgust.

Apparently she thinks that yogurt and zucchini do not go together in a cake.

With the desire to quash Natalie’s uncertainly, I brought in a huge chunk of cake the next day to share with everyone in the office.  As I carried my tupperware container of cake across campus, I fumbled while putting on my mittens, dropping the tupperware and allowing the cake to somersault away from me.  By the time I made it to the office, the cake was a mess, and I had to carefully scrape icing off the lid and reapply it to the cake.  As I presented each of my co-workers with a piece of cake, I also showed them pictures of what my cake looked like pre-drop.  They needed to know that I wasn’t a completely incompetent cake decorator.

In the end, the cake turned out awesome.  The raspberry icing was the perfect contrast for the chocolate cake which, although a tad dry, was still tasty.  Since both contained lots of yogurt and zucchini, I’m going to write this cake one off as a “healthy meal” in hopes of justifying the fact that I ate it for breakfast two days in a row.

Recipe: Two-tiered chocolate zucchini yogurt cake with a raspberry yogurt icing
Cake
See recipe on Cooper’s Kitchen.

Raspberry yogurt icing
– 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
– 4 cups icing sugar
– 1/2 cup raspberry yogurt
– 1 tsp. vanilla extract
– 1/4 cup raspberry jam

Using a hand mixer, cream together butter and sugar.  Add yogurt and vanilla and blend until smooth.  Using a piping bag (or a Ziplock bag) pipe small dollops of jam onto the cake.

Christmas Cake Pops: my first encounter with Bakerella’s one bite wonders

Everyone – my life has been changed!!!  How you ask?  Well, quite simply put, it is through the purchase of this fantastic new cookbook:

I saw this book yesterday while I was in Chapters with my family.  Bakerella has been a favourite blogger of mine for sometime now, and I often peruse her site endlessly in my delusional dessert daydreams.  Bakerella is famous for these special little cake pops/bites.  She is so famous for these heavenly morsels that she even has a BOOK TOUR.  Cool, right?  Basically, these cake pops are cake crumbs mixed with icing and covered in a candy coating.  Not for the light of heart, hyper five-year-old or cavity fearer, but perfect for those suffering from low blood sugar!  Once I saw this book, I knew I had to have it.  I had resisted purchasing it once (as a partial Christmas gift for best friend Britt), but I could resist no longer.  Nope, I was 100 per cent committed to making seasonal cake pops.

And make them I did.  My favourite part of Bakerella’s cake pop recipe is that it calls for boxed cake mix and icing from the can.  Endless hours of baking from scratch were saved!

Also, the funniest thing happened to me when I was at the grocery store shopping for supplies.  Here I was in an unfamiliar baking aisle, frantically flipping through my glossy new cookbook to decide what to buy.  I must have been looking completely disoriented and confused when a woman came up to me and said something along the lines of “hey, I made cake pops last week!”  This introductory statement led to a 15 minute conversation about cake pops and how much we love Bakerella.  Turns out she had made reindeer, turkey and snowmen cake pops earlier in the year, a task which I have yet to conquer.  Want to hear something even more weird?  The woman, whose name is actually Karina, turned out to be a teacher at a high school in Ottawa where I had gone to write a journalism story last year.  SMALL WORLD, right?  Anyways, she gave me some great tips for making these (only use 3/4 of the frosting, melt shortening in with the chocolate to keep it from hardening), and it was a neat little conversation that sparked only out of me holding my new Cake Pops cookbook in the store.

After the grocery store I trekked off to the Bulk Barn where  I spent a small fortune on chocolate candy coating (those cool little coloured disks of moulding chocolate that don’t look like food), lollipop sticks and sprinkles.  My meagre student budget is going to start suffering thanks to the purchase of this book… Also, I partially over-purchased on the chocolate for this one, so I’m going to need to think of something creative to do with 2 pounds of coloured chocolate over the next week… I’m open to suggestions…

SO MUCH extra chocolate!!!

The thing with Bakerella’s cake pops recipes is that it’s kind of complicated to let the chocolate set on the cake.  Since I decided to make these kind of at the last minute, I didn’t have time to find the styrofoam block that Bakerella requires.  This is normally the thing that you stab all your lollipop sticks into so that your cake pops stand up straight.  With a little ingenuity and a lengthy trip to the Dollar Store, I created a cake pop standing device out of foam cups and masking tape.  Baking challenges, bring it on!

Since it is CHRISTMAS EVE (can you believe it?!) I spent my entire day…I mean HOURS, coating and hand decorating a dozen and a half little Christmas trees.  The end result was totally worth it – I mean, come on, you need to admit that they’re cute!   If you plan on making any of these, make sure you follow Bakerella’s recipe to the tee, since she has everything perfected.  On top of the Christmas trees, I made little tuxedo (as my mom calls them) cake bites, with half white chocolate and half semi-sweet chocolate.  A little less extravagant than the trees, but fun and tasty nonetheless.  Pour yourself a big glass of milk to go along with these and you’re all set!

To end off this post, I am happy to announce that we delivered some cake pops to our neighbours across the street, and in return they gave us a freshly baked apple pie!  What a trade off!

Merry Christmas!!
Love, Hilary