Mmmmm…..brownies….

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This brownie recipe is delicious. So much so, that certain family members have been known to “fight” over them. And my little one waits somewhat patiently for them to cool so she can dig in. If you love chocolate, and brownies, this recipe is for you! They turn out cakey and fudgy and are a perfect dessert. The recipe is easy to put together, and makes about 24 brownies in a 9×13 inch pan. They’re great as a quick dessert at home, or to bring along to a family dinner or pot luck.

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup water

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 eggs 

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla extract

Frosting:

1/2 cup butter

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1/4 cup milk

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp rum extract

Make it:

-combine flour and sugar in large bowl

-in a saucepan, combine butter, oil, water, and cocoa. Stir and heat to boiling

-pour boiling mixture over the flour and sugar in bowl. Add buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla

-mix well with a whisk or wooden spoon

-pour into a well-greased 9×13 inch pan

-bake at 400 F for 20-25 minutes

-while brownies bake, prepare the frosting. In a saucepan, combine butter, cocoa powder and milk. Stir and heat to boiling

-whisk in the powdered sugar and rum extract and stir until smooth

-pour warm frosting over brownies as soon as they come out of the oven. Let cool and then cut into bars.

 

Cake mix or not? That is the question…

Ah, the same old debate….should I use cake mix or make a cake from scratch? Yeah, yeah, I know, cake mixes are ever so convenient, inexpensive, and pretty much guarantee good results every time, right? That’s what the manufacturers want you to think! When I tell people I make all my desserts from scratch, they tend to stare at me open-mouthed like I just told them I have a pet dinosaur. Oh, people!

Growing up in Europe, I didn’t know what cake mix was until we moved to Canada. My young and naive self thought all cakes were made the “old-fashioned” way; by measuring and mixing ingredients straight from our cupboards and fridge. My mom and Baba always made everything from scratch. Whether it was dinner or dessert, we always knew exactly what was in it. This magical “cake in a box” thing astounded me. I think we tried the boxed mixes a couple of times, and then abandoned the idea because my mom didn’t like the way they tasted, which was pretty much like the box they came in. Yay, let’s all chomp on some cardboard! No, thanks. So, she kept on making all our cakes and desserts from scratch. No wonder all of our friends always looked forward to our birthday parties. I heard the comment “your mom makes the best desserts” on more occasions than I can count. And why not, the woman obviously knows what she’s doing 🙂 The same goes for cookies, cupcakes, pancakes, brownies, etc. To us, there was no such thing as a boxed mix.

As an adult, I think I’ve used boxed cake mix only a couple of times. I really don’t like the taste of it either, and truthfully, it isn’t really all that much work making a cake from scratch. Or I’m so used to it that I don’t notice the amount of work lol Either way, I prefer to know what is in my food, so making things from scratch is the way to go, for me at least. I get so excited about making something delicious (I know I’m a nerd, you just feel free to chuckle at me) that I want to take the time to do it right, and I don’t want to sacrifice quality and taste for convenience. If you don’t have the time to make a cake, then don’t! Although cakes and desserts are not the most healthy of snacks, at least I know that the ones I make were made with fresh ingredients and free of chemicals and preservatives. As a very picky eater, this is important to me. When the mood for cake strikes (which is often!) why should I go all the way to the store to get a mix when I already have everything I need in my cupboards and fridge? It just doesn’t make sense. Plus I hate grocery shopping and avoid the grocery store except when necessary.

Check out the ingredients below. These are from a box of Duncan Hines Classic Yellow Cake Mix:

F: Wheat Starch, Salt, Dextrose, Polyglycerol Esters Of Fatty Acids, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Cellulose Gum, Artificial Flavors, Xanthan Gum, Maltodextrin, Modified Cornstarch, Colored Withsugar, Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Vegetable Oil Shortening (Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Propylene Glycol Mono- And Diesters Of Fats, Monoand Diglycerides), Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate). Contains 2% Or Less O (Yellow 5 Lake, Red 40 Lake).

Sound delicious? Not so much. Personally, I don’t know what half those words mean.  It sounds like a science experiment. I’m sure I could “Google” them or look them up, but I think it’s probably better not to know. This is just my opinion though; if you like cake mix, then to each his own. But at least we can pronounce “flour”, “sugar”, “milk”, “eggs”….

Have a sugarrific day!

M xoxo

Cakes that move!

Today I’m going to talk about my first “moving” cake. It’s actually a cake with a moving part, as requested by my little boss who wanted a jungle Toopy cake with Toopy swinging from a vine. Who’s Toopy, you ask? From Toopy and Binoo of course, which if you didn’t know is an adorable show from Quebec which airs on Treehouse. It features Toopy who is a rat (I think) and Binoo who is a cat. They have some awesome and hilarious adventures together. My little one and I have been watching it since she was a baby and she loves it, and so do I.

She was very specific about her cake, it had to have Toopy and Binoo and some jungle animals on it. The most important part was Toopy swinging from the vine. Her birthday was in September and I started planning this cake about 3 months prior.I hadn’t done a moving cake before so this was all new to me. Hey, I’m not the Cake Boss, you know. I pondered on how to get Toopy to “swing” and eventually decided to use a clock pendulum motor. This was no easy feat as Toopy was made of fondant and quite heavy, but after some tweaking I managed to get it to work.

I decided to create a tree out of rice krispy treats and then attach the motor to it. It took a lot of tinkering and was a bit stressful, to be honest. I won’t lie, there were some frustrating moments. Like when my “tree” looked less like a tree and more like something else. But that’s a discussion for another day.  I then covered up the motor with fondant leaves and attached Toopy to the pendulum. The motor had a battery in it and as soon as it was balanced properly, Toopy began to “swing”. Yay!!! My discriminating little customer was over the moon, and said “wow he moves! I had a dream about this but I had to push him, but look, he moves all by himself!!” And that, my friends, was worth the time spent pondering and tweaking. And of course her little friends loved it too. And she still talks about her moving cake. I hope I can top it next year!

Here’s a picture of Toopy. You can’t really see him “swinging” aside from the blurry bit since he was moving, but you get the idea.

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I hope I’ve inspired you to create something different! It’s a lot of work but an awesome feeling when it comes together, and you learn along the way.

And my little bunny was super happy with it, which is what it’s all about 🙂

Have a sugarrific day!

M xoxo

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