Mint Chocolate Cream Pie

Fun fact about myself – I’m too cheap to buy cookbooks and only get them from the library. After dog-earring everything that looks fabulous, I’ll make copies to be placed in my TO-BAKE file.

This mint chocolate cream pie came into the world the same way! Being a big fan of Sally’s Baking Addiction blog, I was stoked to check out her book, Sally’s Candy Addiction. Candy recipes galore and even non-candy things like this pie. Right up my alley, as I *ahem* apparently have both a candy and a baking addiction.

This pie has a silky smooth chocolate filling with a crunchy, buttery crust. It also came together quickly and easily; just make sure you leave time for firming up in the fridge. The only bake time is the for Oreo crust, and I even bought mint Oreos to boost the mint flavor. However, this pie had a perfect amount of mint in it. Not at all overwhelming, but you definitely knew it was there.

A few things I did differently: The recipe calls for chopped semi-sweet chocolate added to the custard; I used chocolate chips and they worked just fine. I also prefer to strain my pudding, even though this recipe didn’t call for it. I’m glad I did it anyway because I prevented a whole bunch of little clumpy bits from messing up my smooth pudding.

In the future I’m going to attempt this minus the mint. I think it would make an awesome basic chocolate cream pie.

Check out the book here – or your library 😉

 

 

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Baking Fail – Chocolate Pecan Torte

This was one of those desserts that look beautiful on the outside, yet manage to be quite disappointing on the inside 🙁

My bake challenge this week was decorating with chocolate. I actually ripped this torte recipe out of a magazine – it looked AWESOME! Covered in shiny dark chocolate and studded with pecans…I couldn’t wait to give this one a whirl.

Result:  If you enjoy a mouthful of crumbly, chocolate-flavored sawdust, this bake is for you! It’s actually not as bad as that, but is pretty dry inside. Flavor was okay and nothing that spectacular, either. Even though I’d never made a torte before and had nothing to compare it to, it was pretty apparent I baked this too long and got a less than ideal result.

I’m going to blame it on the recipe 😉 It stated the center should come out clean with no crumbs; I checked 5 minutes before and had a few crumbs clinging, so left it in for the extra 5. IF ONLY I HAD KNOWN. My gut told me it was done, as did the smell, but I ignored it and went with the written recipe. Oh how many times I’ve done that with bakes and regretted it!

Moral of the story – avoid baking a torte at all costs. Or at least don’t leave it in the oven too long.

Cannoli Tart

There is a mom and pop Italian bakery in the Harrisburg area called Alvaro’s. I kept hearing about it and finally dragged my butt there a few months ago. YUM! Between myself and kiddos, we sampled Italian rainbow cookies, gelato, baklava (significantly better than my homemade attempt), and CANNOLI!

See? There was a point to this post after all.

Seeing as how I haven’t attempted at all mastered cannoli shells AND my Reddit baking challenge was Italy, I chose a Cannoli Tart instead!

I got a very cute little 9-inch tart pan from my mom for Christmas and now seriously seek out recipes just to use this. My previous tart pan was ceramic and food had to be chiseled out of it. Enter new tart pan with removable bottom.

Okay – back to recipe. Base is a simple graham cracker, bit of a sugar, and melted butter crust. That is the only baking here.

The filling is a traditional mascarpone cheese (found in Tiramisu also), heavy cream, cinnamon, vanilla, powdered sugar. I was bit heavy on the cinnamon and it still rocked.

This really does taste like the inside of a cannoli! Be generous with the tiny chocolate chips on top – that combined with a crunchy crust on bottom make for an awesome texture!

Recipe is here.

Looking for a tart pan? This one I own and love (affiliate link – your purchase helps support my site a teeny bit 😉

Book Review – The Sprinkles Baking Book

I’m always on the hunt at my library for new baking books. The Sprinkles Baking Book caught my eye because I’ve TOTALLY HAD A SPRINKLES CUPCAKE!

What is an official sprinkles cupcake, you say? It is an actual confection that either comes out of a Sprinkles store OR comes out of a Sprinkles ATM. You swipe your card, use the touch screen to pick out what you want, and it spits out a little box with a cupcake in it.

To this day, I have never had a finer store-bought cupcake than the ATM cupcake. BTW, sadly no such thing in Pennsylvania 🙁 My most glorious cupcake was enjoyed during a trip with my mom to California a few years back. Seriously – this cupcake has stayed with me all this time. I like to check new bakeries in my area and generally judge one by their cupcake. Usually they are dried out, icing is too greasy, chocolate has no flavor, etc. etc. The sprinkles cupcake was the pinnacle of cupcakes for me!

(Side note: My wonderful mother paid my way for that trip to California and Las Vegas, and my equally awesome aunt and uncle hosted us for that time, showing us around to all the cool places, including a cupcake ATM. How lucky am I??)

Anyhoo, I was excited to read this book! Besides the neat history of the Sprinkles brand, it has beautiful mouth-watering photos throughout (not just cupcakes, BTW) Some recipes I plan on trying:

  1. Strawberry cupcakes
  2. Key lime pie cupcakes
  3. Peanut butter chip cupcakes
  4. Grapefruit curd tart with gingersnap crust

I actually did make her black and white cupcakes tonight (see pic!) and they were DIVINE. A dark chocolate base with a very vanilla frosting. Was it as good as an ATM cupcake? I think so, since it’s fresher. Homemade cupcakes set the bar pretty high compared to store bought. Perhaps the very act of an automated cupcake makes them taste better 🙂

You can buy the book here if you’d like (affiliate link).

 

Mardi Gras King Cake

Have you had a King Cake before? Picture an uncut cinnamon roll shaped into a circle and plastered with Mardi Gras sprinkles and icing. I don’t remember ever seeing them as a kid, but now see them every year in grocery stores.

My understanding of King Cakes and other Mardi Gras themed stuff is they are part of a pre-Lent celebration. According to the Great Wikipedia:

Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”, reflecting the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season.

If this King Cake was the REAL DEAL (which it’s not) it would have a tiny plastic baby representing Jesus hidden inside. Sounds like a recipe for chipping a tooth 😉

I would have loved to get a pic of the whole cake dressed up in Mardi Gras glory, but it was UGLY. This is tasty, though. I doubled the cinnamon it called for and made my own colored sprinkles, which was super easy. Sugar + gel colors + mix with a fork = colored sugar.

I also contemplated skipping the lemon juice in the icing, thinking just a basic powdered sugar vanilla icing would do, but I’m so glad I didn’t! The bright lemon flavor of the icing pairs wonderfully with the cinnamon in the center.

Recipe here.