July 31, 2016

Chocolate Mousse Cake

Several years ago, my husband and I were on vacation in Rome, when he had his favorite dessert ever.  It was called Dios Mio Cake, or Oh My God Cake.  It was a delicious chocolate mousse, and I remember it having a cake layer at the bottom but my husband insists it was all mousse.  Regardless, despite not having the recipe I did try to recreate this heavenly dessert.  Here's what I've come up with, the mousse credited to a portion from Food Network's recipe.
[Tip: A 1 Quart container of heavy cream will be enough for both the Mousse and Ganache.  I hate it when recipes measure in cups or ounces but then the heavy cream containers say mL!]

Chocolate Mousse Cake
Serves 8-10
Prep time: 3 hours (with 2 hours to chill in fridge)


  • 1 box chocolate cake mix; likely requires egg(s), vegetable oil, and milk to prepare


  • 8 oz semisweet chocolate (I use chips, but you could break apart a chocolate bar into 1/2-oz or smaller pieces)
  • 2 1/2 cups (20 oz) heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar


  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz) heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 18 oz semisweet chocolate (chips or bar broken into smaller pieces)
  1. Place metal bowl from a stand mixer and balloon whisk attachment in refrigerator to cool.
  2. Prepare the chocolate cake according to package directions, using a 9" cake pan.  I prefer pouring the batter in just one pan and trimming off the rounded, funny looking top.  This takes 10-15 minutes longer to bake than the box directions.  You could easily prepare two small round cakes, and layer with the mousse.  I simply prefer one large cake layer at the bottom with just one large mousse layer on top.  Whichever approach you take, rub shortening on the cake pan and coat lightly with flour; tap out excess flour.  Mix cake batter, pour into pan(s), and bake according to package instructions (adding time as needed if using just one 9" pan).  Allow cake to cool, then remove from pan by inverting on a wire rack.  Let cool completely.
  3. Begin the mousse by first melting the chocolate in a double boiler (or by placing chocolate in a bowl set over a pot with about 1" of boiling water.  Turn the heat down to medium, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let sit over the simmering water for 8-10 minutes.  Remove bowl from heat and stir chocolate until smooth.  Set aside.
  4. In the well chilled mixing bowl, pour in the milk and sugar for the mousse.  Whisk using the chilled balloon whisk attachment, whisking for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until stiff peaks form.
  5. Scoop 1/4 of the whipped cream mixture into the melted chocolate.  Use a hand whisk to gently incorporate until chocolate/whipped cream mixture is smooth and consistent.  Pour the mixture into the remaining whipped cream, and fold gently with a spatula until mousse is silky and uniform, without streaks of whipped cream or chocolate. 
  6. Lightly rub the ring of a springform pan with butter or spray with nonstick spray.  Assemble the pan, then place the cake into the bottom of the springform pan. Gently scoop mousse on top.  Smooth out mousse layer, filling springform pan to the edges.  Cover with foil, careful not to touch the top of the mousse, and chill in refrigerator at least 2 hours.
  7. After placing mousse cake in refrigerator to chill, make dark chocolate ganache.  Heat heavy cream and butter in a medium saucepan set to medium-high heat.  Place chocolate in a large mixing bowl.  Once cream comes to a boil, pour over the chocolate and let sit 5-10 minutes.  Gently stir the chocolate and cream mixture until smooth, preferably using a whisk.  If any clumps remain, try heating over a double boiler and stirring constantly, or microwaving at 50% power for 20-second intervals, stirring after each, until smooth.  This is very important because you will be piping some of the ganache, and if you leave any lumps the piping will not go well.
  8. Once ganache is complete, reserve 1 cup and chill in refrigerator until ready to assemble mousse.  Leave remaining ganache sitting out at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap.
  9. Take mousse cake out of fridge, and gently remove springform ring.  Some mousse may cling, which is ok, but if large amounts come off I like to scrape those off and smooth them back onto the cake as best I can.  Clear a large work surface, which is about to get very messy.  Pour the room temperature ganache onto the center of the mousse.  Using an offset spatula or very long, smooth knife, gently spread the ganache from the center toward the edges, allowing ganache to pour over edges.  Then smooth the edge of the cake with your spatula.  This will likely make the OCD part of you freak out.  Embrace the mess.
  10. Place a star tip in a pastry bag, and scoop the chilled ganache into the bag.  Pipe on stars or other design as desired into the top and/or sides of the assembled mousse cake.  I've made a Christmas tree and monogram on different occasions.  This is why it's so important to have a lump-free ganache!
  11. Very carefully slide a large flat or offset spatula under the cake, gently separating from springform pan base, and transfer cake to a serving plate or cake stand.
  12. Place toothpicks at intervals on the top of the mousse, and cover with aluminum foil. The toothpicks keep the foil from touching your piped on masterpiece and that ooey gooey ganache! Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

This dessert is seriously so good, and I think well worth the effort.  It also helps that I love baking, and find this kind of prep work to be a lot of fun.  Also- be forgiving with yourself!  This thing tastes great regardless of how pretty (or sloppy) it turns out, so just roll with the punches along the way.  ENJOY!

December 6, 2015

Christmas Potpourri

In hunting around for nice gifts to give my staff this year, I searched high and low on Pinterest.  I finally settled on this simple but classic gift: Christmas in a jar, via Nest of Posies.  I enjoyed the free printables, too!  All you do is put some spices, a small orange, and rosemary in a jar.  Bring a pot of water to a boil, dump out the jar contents, and simmer all day.  Definitely an easy way to get the house smelling perfect for the holidays.
Now, I couldn't find mulling spices at the grocery store, but raiding my spice cabinet did the trick just fine.  I'll be sharing these with my group tomorrow, so fingers crossed that they enjoy the gifts!

Cranberry and Brie Pastry Bites

Today's update is to share a really easy, quick appetizer recipe I made over Thanksgiving.  I've been wanting to make this for ages, but in my household cranberries and brie just aren't appetizing for some reason.  So instead, I made this as an appetizer Thanksgiving day, which was happily gobbled up by my in-laws, and again that same week for a family game night.  Trust me- tuck this away for future reference when you need a nice, impressive snack with minimal effort!  The original recipe comes courtesy of Yummy Mummy Kitchen's blog, and she has plenty of other good things to check out as well.

Cranberry and Brie Pastry Bites
Makes 16


  • 1 puff pastry sheet, thawed (I use Pepperidge Farm)
  • 1 4-oz wedge Brie cheese, or 1 container of snack-size Brie wedges, opened and divided into 16 portions
  • 1/3 cup homemade or store bought cranberry sauce (whole berry; not jelly)
  1. Preheat oven to 400.  Spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick spray.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry rectangle.  Using a pizza cutter, cut into 16 small squares.
  3. Place pastry squares into muffin tin, pressing down gently in each opening.  Bake 8 minutes or until pastry begins to turn golden brown.
  4. Remove muffin tin from oven and use the back of a spoon to gently press down in the center of each pastry square to create room for filling.
  5. Place a portion of brie onto each pastry square.  Top with about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cranberry sauce.
  6. Place muffin tin back into oven for 5-7 minutes or until cheese is soft and pastry is golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven, gently remove from muffin tins and cool on a wire rack.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Optional: Top with toasted pecans and/or sugared cranberries.

October 14, 2015

Apple Cream Cheese Danishes

After a recent outing to an apple orchard, I found myself with an abundance of apples.  I plan to make a pie, but in the meantime I've been enjoying a modified version of these apple dumplings found on Southern Bite.  I was suspicious of the Sprite used in the recipe, but after searching similar recipes found some used Mt. Dew, others used Sprite, etc., so clearly the carbonation was doing... something... to help with these.  I shrugged and ran with it, and have no regrets.  What I DID change was to sneak some cream cheese and cinnamon sugar inside these ooey gooey dumplings, which I am re-branding as danishes.

Apple Cream Cheese Danishes
Makes 8


  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and sliced into 8 slices
  • 1 tube crescent rolls (8 count)
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar (mixture of ~1 1/2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon)
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 6 oz Sprite
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a square baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. Unroll the crescent rolls and separate into triangles.  Spread a bit of cream cheese along the bottom of each triangle.  Place an apple slice on top.  Sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar.  Roll up in crescent roll dough and pinch seams closed.
  3. Place danishes in prepared baking dish, evenly spaced.
  4. Mix melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, and flour in a medium bowl until well combined.  Pour over danishes.
  5. Pour Sprite down center and sides of baking dish (not over the danishes themselves).
  6. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until tops are golden and danishes are baked all the way through.
I wish you could smell these!

Just your basic white girl, wearing a scarf, loving fall, and baking all things apple and pumpkin.

October 11, 2015

Rustic Pumpkin Apple Bites

These little guys have been lurking on my Pinterest desserts page for a LONG time, and I finally made them last weekend.  Perfect for fall, with a nice oatmeal crust, these are not too sweet and not too heavy.  They make a nice little treat, and would be perfect for a Halloween party or even packed along for a picnic.  I did adapt my recipe a bit from Zestful Lou's, but appreciate the idea she planted!

Pumpkin Apple Bites

Makes 12 bites


For the crust

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/4 chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon milk
For the filling
  • 3 tablespoons pureed pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons apple butter (I used caramel apple butter- YUM)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together filling ingredients.
  3. Place dry crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined.  Then, with food processor running, slowly pour in melted butter and then milk.  Process until combined.
  4. Scoop a tablespoon of crust dough and press into mini muffin tin.  Press down and up sides of the tin.  Repeat in each spot on the muffin tin.  You will have a bit of crust mixture left over- reserve.
  5. Scoop 1-2 teaspoons of filling into each crust.  Sprinkle a little of the remaining crust mixture over each bite.
  6. Bake 12-15 minutes or until filling is set.  The filling will be puffed up when you take the bites out of the oven, but will settle as everything cools.
  7. Place muffin tin on a drying rack, and allow bites to cool completely before gently removing from tin.
Crust ingredients.  They smell amazing together!

All mixed with the butter and milk.

So rustic and delicious.

Crochet Pyramid Buddy

I have a stack of projects to post, which can only mean that it is FALL!  Time for coziness in the house, making comfort food, and crafting goodies.  First up, we have this little creation that my son requested.  He tasked me with making crochet aliens which was an out there ask, but we designed these little creatures together and had fun doing it.  The last of the set was to be a pyramid.  I couldn't find a good pyramid pattern on Pinterest, but followed this good one for a triangle.  I just took that to make 4 triangles, and a square base (20 rows of 20 SC- same size as the pyramid base).

After attaching the triangles to each other and putting on the eyes, this guy needed some character.  I added hair which went a long way to upping his cute factor, and gave him a fun smile that went around one of his triangle edges.  I adding stuffing and was sewing on the base, when my son said I should leave the tails hanging instead of weaving them in.  He liked the little jellyfish legs.

Lesson at the heart of this: you can make all kinds of crochet nonsense with some basic patterns and letting yourself go with the flow.  It doesn't have to look perfect.  Just enjoy it. :)

August 24, 2015

Lemon Surprise Cookies


I tried a new cookie recipe yesterday and am very glad to share this success with others.  It's a chewy, sweet but tart, light cookie that's perfect for summer (or the tail end of summer, as everyone is feeling heading up to labor day).  It reminds me a bit of my chocolate peanut butter surprise cookies as far as technique goes, so I made a batch of those as well for my lucky coworkers.
The recipe comes courtesy of SewLicious Home Decor.  I've only made a few edits to make the instructions a bit easier for me to follow.  Enjoy!

Lemon Surprise Cookies
Yields approx. 2 dozen cookies
Prep time: 1-2 hours (filling needs to freeze before baking)
Bake time: 10 minutes



  • 1 box supreme white cake mix (just using the powder mix; you do not prepare it as directed on the box)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (not butter)
  • 3.4-oz box lemon Jello instant pudding mix
Cheesecake Filling
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  1. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Prepare cheesecake filling, mixing together all ingredients until creamy.  Spoon teaspoon-size dollops onto prepared baking sheet.  Place in freezer 1 hour or more until set.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the cookie ingredients (cake mix, eggs, oil, and pudding mix).  Turn dough out onto saran wrap and refrigerate until cheesecake filling is set.
  4. When filling is firm, preheat oven to 350° and assemble cookies.  Scoop 1-2 tablespoons of cookie dough and flatten into a circle in your palm.  Place a frozen dollop of cheesecake filling into center, and roll cookie dough around the filling, being careful to close up all seams.  Roll into a ball.
  5. Place balls of dough with filling centers on baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake 8-12 minutes or until set.  The tops won't brown, but the bottoms will.
  7. Remove from oven and gently press down each cookie with a spatula or the bottom of a cup to flatten slightly.  Let sit on baking sheet 2 minutes, then transfer to wire rack.
  8. Serve warm, or cool completely before storing.
Aaa!  They just look so summery and yummy!  I wish I could give you smell-o-vision, too.

Mmm- delicious filling.