St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner! This holiday makes me want to indulge in one of my all-time favorite treats… the oh-so-delicious Shamrock Shake. You don’t have to swing by your local fast food joint to indulge though because I have the recipe to this one and you can indulge in it for a fun family night treat any night of the week.
Can I just say that I am humbled that Diana, from My Humble Kitchen, agreed to share her voice on our site? Diana’s food background is so much more diverse than my own and she knows about foods I have never even heard of. Not only that, but her recipes are so very nourishing to our bodies. I cannot wait to learn more about food from her.
Hello – what a blessing to be here as part of the MomAdvice contributing team! I’m excited to get to know you all a bit better and feel privileged to be able to share my food recipes with you.
I’m a real foodie at heart… built on grace. As much as I enjoy serving up my family savory meals using vegetables from my gardens, I also enjoy baking sweet treats made with nourishing ingredients and natural sweeteners.
I know Amy has turned to a gluten-free lifestyle, so I thought I’d introduce all of you to an ancient grain that has 3 times less gluten than our modern hybridized wheat of today.
It’s called einkorn. It’s the first grain to have been domesticated from the wild. Its never been hybridized so it was fascinating to me when I found out that many people with a gluten intolerance can tolerate this ancient grain. It still has gluten so if you have celiacs disease, then this is still off limits.
In my research, I’ve also found out that einkorn is more nutritious than modern varieties of wheat. It’s high in thiamin, protein, fiber, and a number of b vitamins. It also contains a significant amount of the the powerful antioxidant, lutein. As compared to modern varieties of wheat, it’s higher in protein and has a lower percentage of nutrient loss during processing.
Since einkorn has a lot less gluten, baking with it can be a bit tricky if grinding your own wheat berries at home; however, I’ve found incredible success using organic high extraction einkorn flour that’s already been milled.
In using einkorn flour, so far, I’ve had great success – all of my baked goods have turned out lovely. I’ve also enjoyed that I’ve been able to substitute it 1:1.
To share with all of you, I decided to roast the last of my pumpkins I had stored in my basement and make a batch of naturally sweetened pumpkin bars.
Who says pumpkin bars are just for the fall, right?
No pumpkin? No worries… if you don’t have any pumpkins in your basement or can’t find any at your local grocery store, feel free to use an organic canned variety.
My husband loves it when I surprise him with a batch of pumpkin bars. I sweeten them with honey. The flavors are gently sweetened and allow the flavor of the roasted pumpkin to shine through. The use of the honey makes this an incredibly moist bar that your family will love.
For the cream cheese icing, I add 3 tbls of maple syrup allowing me to cut down on the organic powdered sugar. You’ll never notice the difference.
Now, let me ask you, what can be better than a nourishing dessert?
Can I say that you are in for one of the biggest treats ever? Shaina, from Food For My Family, is one of my foodie idols and I cannot believe she is going to be sharing her voice here on MomAdvice as a regular contributor! Her photos are always a delight for the eyes and her whole foods philosophy on a budget is just why I selected her to share with you.
I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve gone out for doughnuts in any given year. It’s a once-in-a-while treat, a special outing. There’s something about walking into a doughnut shop, the bell on the door tinkling after you. In a case behind the glass you find soft fried dough rolled in sugar crystals or glazed with a sparkling gleam, the warm air carried under your nose with the distinct softness of melting sugar and browning dough.
Doughnuts are winter foods, best consumed when frosty air is blowing outside. A doughnut and a cup of coffee or cocoa somehow makes the world feel warmer, the walls lean in a bit tighter to hug you in the center of this pocket of comfort you’ve created.
It was this idea, this contentedness that I chased on a day off school with my kids. Doughnuts are all about waiting and patience, but the payoff at the end is worth every second it takes to get there.
We gathered in the kitchen, all arms and hands and bodies huddled around the mixer, each measuring and dumping one ingredient after another to form the dough, soft and supple. In our hands we worked it before tucking it away as they went to play. Soon it was time for the shaping, and with a special cutter in hand, they each formed the rings and placed them on a baking sheet so we could again wait as they puffed in their warmed-oven home.
When the time came, in a bit of oil we fried each one to a golden perfection, our home instantly mirroring that doughnut shop smell. Small fingers ran through sugar as doughnut holes were rolled until coated. We stirred together glazes and dipped them in before sprinkling them with all manner of pantry goodies, licking the drips from fingertips.
Tips for doughnuts with your kids:
Have them measure and mix.
Teach little arms how to knead.
Rolling balls and cutting doughnuts is a fun and exciting job.
Leave the frying to the big kids and the adults.
Decorating is definitely a kid-approved job.
Eating is a family affair.
These doughnuts are dipped in a lime-kissed glaze and covered in crisp coconut flakes. You can simply roll slightly cooled doughnuts in granulated sugar for a more classic take, or you could get fancy and make filled doughnuts and long johns with this same dough recipe.
Raised doughnuts with a lime-kissed glaze, sprinkled with coconut flakes.
5 tablespoons water
⅓ cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 egg, room temperature
5 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose or einkorn flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2¼ teaspoons yeast
16 ounces organic palm oil or other oil for frying
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 teaspoons lime juice
½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, buttermilk, egg, melted butter, and the vanilla. Beat until well mixed.
Add in the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast, and mix with your hands or using a dough hook on the stand mixer until a soft dough forms. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead 10 - 11 times for the dough to come together.
Return the dough in the bowl and cover with a towel or piece of plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm place to rise until the dough is doubled. Cut 20 or so 4-5" squares of parchment paper while you wait.
Once the dough has doubled, remove it from the bowl and roll it to about 1½" thick. Cut 3-4" rings from the dough. Place each ring on a small square of parchment. Place the dough rings on baking sheets and cover loosely. Place doughnuts holes 3-4 on each piece of parchment.
Once all the doughnuts have been cut and covered, let them rise for at least one hour until they have puffed considerably.
In a high-sided, heavy-bottomed pan heat the oil to 350º F. Once the oil is hot, add in the doughnuts, about four at a time. Fry for 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown.
Remove the doughnuts to a baking rack to drain and cool slightly.
In a shallow bowl, mix together the powdered sugar and the lime juice, starting with 2 teaspoons until a thick but still fluid consistency is reached. Dip the top of each doughnut into the glaze. Immediately sprinkle with coconut flakes and allow to set.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner so I wanted to share a fun recipe for Gluten-Free Cake Mix Cookies that you could create as a fun treat to give or to share with those you love.
Walmart asked me to create a Valentine’s Day treat with one of their exclusive products they carry. Since I am such a big M&M fan, I decided to use their Red Velvet M&M’s in my recipe.
Do you ever have a really hard time with a recipe and then later wonder if it had ever been tested? That was the case with this project from start to finish. These cookies were supposed to be simple and straightforward, but the recipe ended up being written completely wrong. Thankfully for you, I spent a whole day figuring out what went wrong with this one and how we can fix it so that you can have an awesome baking day!
Please read this post carefully, I am offering you a load of tips for a successful baking day!!
Are M&M’s Gluten-Free?
Let’s begin with the question, are M&M’s gluten-free? The answer is that most M&M’s are gluten-free. In fact, most of the varieties they typically carry, other than their pretzel variety, are gluten-free.
What I found with the Red Velvet M&M’s though are that they are gluten-free, but in high times of production, like Halloween & Valentine’s Day, Mars uses alternative facilities to make its candy and some of those may introduce cross-contamination risks. These Red Velvet M&M’s are ones that could have been cross-contaminated. If this is of high concern, look for the plain M&M’s, preferably mini-M&M’s to help your dough hold up better.
It is always important to read your labels carefully and know that Mars Chocolate always promises to call out any wheat, barley, and rye ingredients by name, as well as any cross-contamination risks on their labels. I recommend this information page for finding which Valentine’s Day candies are safe to eat.
Tips for a Successful Dough
As, I am a big fan of the Betty Crocker cake mixes, I used this to create my cookies. As you can see when I mixed the ingredients together, this dough is very crumbly. To help make this dough really hold and stick together, add 3-4 teaspoons of water to the dough, until it really comes together. This will help when slicing your sugar cookie rolls.
The recipe that was written did not add this to the dough and so when I sliced them, the cookie dough crumbled. I had to add my water later and chill them again for another three hours. Once I sliced with the liquid addition, the dough held much better.
If you need these cookies to be dairy-free as well as gluten-free, please read the notes in the recipe on how you can create these without the butter.
Tips for a Successful Sugar Cookie Log
One more thing, I learned while creating this cookies is that it is better to make your sugar cookie roll WITHOUT the M&M’s in it and then add them to your cookies after so you can get beautifully clean slices.
Trying to cut through these Red Velvet M&M’s was a real challenge so I would encourage adding them after or just doing these cookies as a drop cookie. To do a sugar cookie roll, as pictured above with M&M’s, seek the mini varieties. Again, read the packaging carefully to insure that they are safe for eating.
Wrap your sugar cookie roll in wax paper and chill for three hours or more. Once you are ready to bake off your cookies, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and then slice them and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet or a well-greased cookie sheet. I prefer parchment paper, both for the ease of clean-up and how beautifully these cookies will set up.
Allow these to cool and then transfer. These cookies are very delicate in texture so you will want to give them plenty of time to set up.
What Do They Taste Like?
These cookies are so delicious that you will NEVER know that they are gluten-free. The dough is so flavorful and the healthy dose of vanilla in the batter makes these taste like a cookie dough that you truly slaved over. The addition of the candies adds that yummy chocolate flavor that I think every good cookie should have.
With these helpful tips, I hope you will have a successful baking day and hope that this easy treat idea will help as you plan your own Valentine’s Day treats this year!
Can I Freeze These?
Cookies can be frozen! It is recommended that you wrap them in aluminum foil or in a resealable plastic bag for up to one month. Let the cookies thaw on the kitchen counters overnight before serving.
What Other Ways Can I Spice Up These Cookies?
If you can’t have chocolate, there are many other ways you can spice these easy cookies up.
Add Sprinkles- Lightly beat one egg white and brush the tops of your cookies with it, then sprinkle with gluten-free sugar sprinkles.
Add Zest- Add 1 teaspoon of grated lemon, orange, or key lime zest
Switch Your Extract- Try a different extract in your dough like almond or butter
Make It Spicy- Add a pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon, or dust the tops with the egg white & a cinnamon & sugar combo.
Cake mix cookies that can be gluten-free and dairy-free for a fun treat to share for any holiday.
1 package (15 ounces) yellow gluten-free cake mix
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter- if dairy-free replace with vegetable shortening, MELTED
1 large egg
3-4 teaspoons warm water, just until you see your dough pull together
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
¾ cup M&M's or read the post for other ways to spice up these cookies
Place the cake mix, butter (or vegetable shortening), egg, water, and vanilla in your mixing bowl and beat on low speed until well-combined.
Using a spatula fold in the M&M's (if mini-sized) or reserve to press these into each cookie after they have been cut (if large-sized)
Place the cookie dough on a sheet of wax paper and then press with your hands to form a long,approximately 12 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Tightly roll the dough and chill it in the refrigerator for at least three hours or overnight.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease two cookie sheets well or cover these in parchment paper.
Unwrap the dough and transfer to a cutting board and slice them in ¼-3/8" slices.
Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake until the cookies are lightly browned on the edges,7-10 minutes.
Let the cookies fully cool before transferring.
Have you ever made gluten-free cake mix cookies? Do you have any tips for beginning gluten-free bakers on ways to increase success with cake mix cookies?
Today is my 36th birthday and someone special wanted to bake me cupcakes for my special day. We decided to test-drive the new Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Cake Mixes and wanted to offer some pointers for getting your kids in the kitchen… so they can bake your birthday cake.
Aren’t I a smart mom?
Walmart asked me to share a beloved winter activity with you that we do with our kids. Of course, one of my favorite activities in the winter is baking. What I appreciate most about my kids is their enthusiasm for learning and helping in my kitchen.
Cooking together can teach your kids so much. Here are just a few lessons we worked on while baking a cake together.
Cooking Together Builds Reading Skills
One of the best parts about having your kids help you in the kitchen is that they can practice their reading skills. With picture tutorials on the back of many box mixes, it can help beginning readers navigate the ingredient list and list of supplies needed to cook.
Cooking Together Builds Math Skills
Cooking with your kids isn’t only helpful in just the reading department. In fact, the biggest challenge for me as a chef involves all that math that goes into recipes. For young kids, understanding fractions and measurements of the ingredients can be tricky, but can offer an important lesson.
Don’t just have them do the measuring, but explain all those different spoon sizes or read the packaging of the butter to have them figure out how much a 1/2 cup equals.
Cooking Together Can Lead to Independence
One of the hardest things I have found about being a parent is having the patience to let them do it themselves. It is the same patience that I needed when teaching them to tie their shoes, to clean up after themselves, and to help in the kitchen. Yes, it is so much faster for me to just do it myself, BUT when they become adults, how will they ever know how to do anything if their mama always did it for them?
Instead of using things like stand mixers and big appliances to get the jobs done in the kitchen, invest in the time of having them mix and beat things by hand or with hand mixers. Allow extra time when cooking with your children to give them time to figure things out themselves and to create it on their own.
Cooking Together Can Build Confidence
When we eat the food our kids make we do a lot of oohing and ahhing over it. Really take in the details of their work and compliment them on their presentation and flavors of their dish.
We have always tried to do this with our kids and I get such a kick out of them when I hear them mimicking back to me what a great job I have done on dishes or on the flavors of the foods I put together for them.
For those that asked about this Betty Crocker gluten-free cake mix, I will be honest, and say that it really hit the spot. We baked these at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes and the cake was surprisingly light and resembled a sponge cake texture. The cake mix yielded 12 cupcakes and the cost on the mix was just $4.58.
When I shared about it on Facebook, friends chimed in with recommendations like adding a pudding mix to the cake or even a little extra vanilla, to boost the flavor. I am definitely going to have to try these additions! Layered with a thick layer of chocolate frosting though, and my daughter’s signature sprinkles, this cake was truly delicious.
If you are hosting a birthday party or need to bring in a gluten-free treat to school, I would highly recommend this cake mix for a fast and easy treat. The only difference between making this and traditional boxed cake mixes is adding softened butter versus the oil.
On a personal note, I also wanted to thank you all for helping me celebrate my birthday this year by funding our wells for Burkina Faso. At this point, I am the proud owner of ONE WELL of clean water, which will give water to ONE THOUSAND people, through your donations. I am also almost halfway to my SECOND WELL. Can you believe that? In just three short days, we have collected almost $3,000 dollars!
We still need to collect $1,000 for our second well. You can donate as little as $2 towards our cause. Here are four things you could “give up,” this week to help me give clean water to women & children. Just think of the lives you can help me save this week!
Thank you for celebrating my birthday with me!! It has been the best year yet!
In honor of MomAdvice.com’s tenth birthday, I wanted to share this recipe for an easy chocolate chiffon cake made with peppermint buttercream frosting, perfect for celebrating our special day with you. This chocolate chiffon cake is made from a cake mix and the homemade peppermint buttercream frosting is the perfect use of any leftover holiday candy canes you might have in your home.
Since this is my own birthday week, we decided to devote this week towards celebrating this incredible milestone. Tomorrow I will be revealing our best giveaway yet and I will be calling upon you to help me fulfill our site’s birthday wish. I can’t even believe that the site has now been around a decade! Someone pinch me please!
In the meantime, let’s talk about making a birthday cake for our celebration.
Truth be told, this is my sweet little girl’s birthday pick this year. It is a family tradition that the birthday child gets to pick their birthday cake each year from my big stack of cookbooks. She had her heart set on a chocolate chiffon cake, but the one that was featured in the cookbook was a bundt cake and I knew she was looking for that traditional layered cake that makes all parties special.
I did some web searching and figured out how to make this into a layered cake and then frosted it with a beautiful peppermint buttercream frosting to finish it off. We had to tint it pink though…this is after all, Emily’s birthday.
I am a very humble cake decorator so I relied upon a few yarn pom poms on skewers to create a little cake banner over her cake. Peppermint candies crushed on top also act as a great eye distractor from my sad frosting skills.
Hey, a mom can’t be great at everything
We popped our cake in a cake carrier and transported it to Grand Rapids, Michigan where we took a family holiday in lieu of gifts this year. We got to celebrate Emily (just the four of us) and enjoyed several days of seeing the sites while enjoying a cozy cabin away from it all. I made my daughter’s birthday dinner request (a giant helping of Weeknight Chicken Lo Mein) and a delicious slice of birthday cake was enjoyed by all. And I do mean ALL.
My husband, who seems to hate cake for some reason, wanted a second slice and the whole family agreed that this was the perfect birthday cake. The cake tastes so light and airy and the buttercream had just a hint of mint that added a creamy finish to the top of the slice. It was the perfect ending to a perfect evening celebrating.
Now that we have covered the cake, tomorrow we will be covering the GIFTS.
Please come back tomorrow to see our big surprise!
Here’s a hint… this gift will help a thousand people! ONE THOUSAND PEOPLE. Have I grabbed your interest yet?
Each year, I find myself coming to the topic of simplifying the holidays. Don’t we just all wish this time of year was a little easier? Despite my best efforts to simplify, it can feel impossible in the midst of the kid’s holiday programs, get togethers, shopping, wrapping, sending of cards, gift-giving, & holiday baking.
I don’t want to brag, but this year we really did achieve that simple holiday we have been longing for and I am partnering with Ritz to share how you can avoid the parade of endless holiday to-do’s and instead embrace a simpler holiday.
Simplify the Giving of Holiday Cards
I love, love, love having pictures that I am in and having someone else take them for me, but we lost track of time and weren’t able to book our usual family session. Instead of not sending cards, I set my camera up on a tripod and we took our family shot by setting the timer on our camera and having me jump into the family picture. By getting everything set up in advance before my family came outside, we were able to get our picture in a mere five minutes. Before everyone had their coats off, I had our photos edited and cards in the mail. The best part is that we have moved our family session to the Spring, a time of year we decided was much less chaotic, and will really enjoy it all a little bit more.
I will admit that I was also was more laid back about how we did our cards this year and enlisted one of my favorite helpers to assist me in this year’s mailing. Not only was she excellent at adding our stamps and sealing the envelopes, but she also kept me on track because she was waiting for me to get those addresses on so she could do her part with them. It gave us time to chat while we were doing them and ended up being fun instead of a holiday chore this year.
Simplify the Holiday Baking
This year we decided to skip the big baking day and make easy treats instead. Although I usually love holiday baking, this year I focused more on creating knitted gifts than my typical holiday treat box. Fortunately, we found a fun holiday treat that we could make that didn’t require a bit of baking, but was just as delicious. On the Ritz Holiday Parade site, we found an easy recipe for Mint Thins to create together that tasted just like one of our favorite cookie treats, but were made with Ritz Crackers, chocolate, and crushed candy canes.
It just goes to show that making holiday treats doesn’t have to be an elaborate baking day. My kids loved helping to crush (and eat!) the candy canes for our cookies and we enjoyed eating these while watching, “A Christmas Story,” this year. Yet another simple and easy tradition is born!
Simplify the Gift Giving
I often talk about our commitment to do the Four Gift Rule, but this year we took it a step further and asked the kids if they would like to skip the presents and just take a family adventure together. We gave them lots of options for places we could take a mini-vacation to and they chose a trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan for our holiday getaway. We are so excited to take in all of the museums, holiday lights, ice skating, and see the sites of the city.
If your kids are struggling to come up with gifts this year or your home is overrun with just too much stuff, consider creating your very own, “Choose Your Own Adventure,” vacation in lieu of gifts. Not only did I have a lot less to buy this year, but I also get to spend four days with my family making incredible memories that I hope they will remember forever.
Start planning and dreaming ahead for next year though because those vacation rentals do go quickly!
Focus On the Fun
Ritz wants to bring back the fun for the holidays and this year they have created a fun interactive Ritz Parade where you can visit the site and build your very own float. You can add up to twelve items on your float from toys, characters, celebrations, and banners. The pieces can be scaled to your desired size and placed anywhere on your float. Once it is complete, you can share your holiday float with others. It’s a fun little interactive tool that you can use to keep the kids busy while you are putting those last minute touches on those holiday festivities. Since we adopted a cat this year, we loved making a float of her for our holiday parade. I am sure this illustrates just how special she has become to all of us!
In addition, the Ritz parade allows consumers to unlock deals to help decrease the stress of gift buying! You can check out all the deals here!
The holiday preparation continues this week on the blog. Today I want to showcase 5 easy ways to decorate store-bought pies for the holidays. Supermarket pies can still look beautiful and will taste even better with my ideas for some fun toppings and additions.
Walmart challenged me to share a fun Thanksgiving project with you and I knew that this was a topic that I have been thinking about a lot. Although we have a fantastic pumpkin pie recipe on here and even a step-by-step picture tutorial for making the perfect pie crust, I know that many of us just don’t have the desire to tackle pie baking. This post is especially for you and I hope you can create a swoon-worthy dessert table that will leave people guessing if you made those pies or not.
Add a Delicious Homemade Topping
Although your pie may not be homemade, your toppings can really stand out with just a few simple ingredients that will add a lot of flavor to your pie. One of my favorite toppings is a Spiced Whipped Cream that gets its hint of spices from ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and a little sugar. It is the perfect accompaniment to your store-bought pumpkin or pecan pies for the holidays.
Another idea for layering on the flavors is to add texture through a fun crunchy pie topping. One of our favorites that I created for our pies last year was an easy Cranberry Crunch Pie Topping made from amaretto cookies and fresh cranberries.
Add Unique Details
One of the greatest tools that I got for my holiday baking this past year was a set of piecrust cutters that I found on Williams Sonoma. Not only are these great tools to keep handy for masking any flaws on your homemade crusts, but they can double as a great detail to adorn store-bought pies.
Purchase pie crust from the refrigerated section of the store and then roll out on a lightly floured surface. Dip your cutters in a little flour and then push down and press these cutters to create your shape. Bake these adorable details in a 400 degree oven for 6-8 minutes on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Allow these to cool and then decorate the tops of your pies with these.
These little details are also so pretty to sprinkle on your dessert table and add that extra festive touch.
Make a Mini Pie Spread
When I spotted these adorable mini pies in the bakery section, I knew this would be another fun spin on pies to try for the holidays. These mini pies are only $.68 each and come in a variety of flavors year-round. For smaller families, these store-bought pies offer the perfect serving size and give everyone exactly what they love the most.
Adorn these with the smaller size pastry cutouts and add a bowl of spiced whipped cream in the center so that everyone can create their own pie experience.
Give the Gift of Pie
One of my favorite things to give as a hostess gift is a sweet treat for their hospitality. Nothing is sweeter than a little individual treat just for me after entertaining, at least that is my opinion, and one of my favorite gifts to give happens to be my little peppermint cheesecakes in a jar.
If you are short on time though, consider purchasing these mini pies as hostess gifts for the holidays. Dress it simply in some festive ribbon and tie a bow around it to create a sweet little gift to give for the holidays.
At just $.68 each, these are a sweet way to say thank you without spending a lot.
Create a Beautiful Display
I love that when I posted a picture of this pie display on Instagram & Facebook that people were asking if this was even real. I think it really goes to show that with a few easy details and staging, you can take store-bought pies to another level.
With this display I used mismatched cake stands in varying heights to create a display. Don’t be afraid to drape a cloth napkin over a stand to make it cohesive or even create a stand out of a teacup and plate and cover it with the cloth napkin, if you are short on serving pieces. If you have multiple dishes out, consider adding these cute chalkboard label frames to help people navigate the dessert table.
Sprinkle pastry cutouts along the tablecloth to decorate the display and pull in leaves, bare branches, or create a unique centerpiece like I did this year to add some color to the table.
I hope these ideas are inspiring and that you will find a new way to love store-bought pies this year with these creative details! Oh, and enjoy all that free time you have now that you aren’t baking this year.
If there is one flavor we love around here it is snickerdoodle. Today I wanted to share an easy recipe for a chocolate snickerdoodle cake that you will flip for. This chocolate snickerdoodle cake is coated in a delicious chocolate cream cheese frosting and adorned in a dusting of dark chocolate candy that adds that perfect finishing touch.
This week we celebrated my son’s 11th birthday. In lieu of an elaborate themed dinner and event, he had a sleepover with his best friend and we invited our family over for this cake and for a red, white, & blue trifle to celebrate.
I am the worst cake decorator known to man and produce some of the ugliest, most lopsided, and crumbiest looking cakes ever. I finally found the trick for me was to buy two 8″ Wilton pans(affiliate) (instead of those 9″ pans that produced flat layers for me) and a good spatula(affiliate). This cake was put together in an hour and the prettiest cake I’ve ever made (if I do say so myself!). It is amazing what a little investment in tools can produce.
As is tradition, the birthday kid gets to pick their cake from my cookbooks every year. When Ethan selected this cake, I just knew it would be a hit. This cake is moist, rich, and laced in cinnamon. What makes the cake really taste delightful though is the light cream cheese frosting that it is coated in.
Author: Adapted from Chocolate from Cake Mix Doctor
Recipe type: Dessert
A rich chocolate cake laced with that snickerdoodle cinnamon flavor that our family loves!
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain dark chocolate fudge cake mix
¾ cup skim milk
¾ cup canola oil
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For frosting: 1 package low-fat cream cheese (8 ounces), at room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3½ cups confectioners's sugar
Dark chocolate candy bar for grating on top (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8" pans and set aside.
Place the cake mix, oil, eggs, cinnamon, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and blend for three minutes, or until well-blended.
Pour evenly into two pans, smoothing with spatula.
Bake for 28-32 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed with your finger. Remove and allow to cool for ten minutes. Remove from pans & then cool for another 30 minutes.
Place the cream cheese & butter in a mix bowl. Blend until combined. Add sifted cocoa powder, cinnamon, and confectioners sugar, and finally vanilla. Blend until combined and icing looks fluffy. Add an additional ¼-1/2 cup confectioners' sugar if needed.
Ice cake and dust with dark chocolate candy bar shavings to finish.
If there is one thing we love about summer, it is our s’mores. Today I wanted to showcase a s’more toppings bar that you can create for a summer party and share some unexpected s’more flavor combinations you can try on your s’more toppings bar.
Walmart challenged me to create a summer party that anyone could replicate with just $25 in supplies. I wanted to host an evening for my girlfriends with a s’more toppings bar.
I love that this idea is easy, requires no cooking, and you can even encourage each of your friends to bring their own favorite topping or a drink to share. I displayed my toppings in inexpensive ice cream bowls that you can find over in the seasonal section of the store for a buck each!
S’more Toppings Bar Ideas & Combinations
Marshmallow, Strawberries, & Nutella
Marshmallow, Strawberries, & Dark Chocolate
Marshmallow, Strawberries, With Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt Bars
Marshmallow, Bananas, & Nutella
Marshmallow, Strawberry, Banana, & Nutella
Marshmallow & Reese’s Cups
Flavored Marshmallows (Butterscotch, Vanilla & Chocolate Swirl, or Key Lime)
Chocolate Graham Crackers, Marshmallow, & Strawberries
It was such a fun night and everyone walked away with a new favorite s’more combination. If you have a load of toppings, you can write titles next to them or give your guests a helpful cheat sheet of suggestions to put together after roasting their marshmallows. Kraft paper can be found over in the shipping & home office supplies section of the store along with Sharpie pens for writing your own cheat sheet of notes.
I had planned to host this at my own home, but a powerful gust of storms moved in and left us without power for several days. My dear friend graciously stepped up to the plate to host the evening and allowed me to setup my s’more topping bar at her house.
How awesome is this setup? I know, SO awesome!
I am so thankful for great friends, great times, and great food! I hope this inspires you for a get together with your own friends this summer or even a fun birthday party idea in the summer months!
This s’mores party was such a hit and I can’t wait to do it again and to do something this fantastic for less than $25? Absolutely priceless!