Thursday 26 May 2016

Mint Chocolate Chip Cake

The kids and I have been doing so much baking around this house, even if there are hardly any posts to show for it lately.  I think we've done a lot of "routine" know, the old standby stuff. We have made lots of brownies, chocolate chips cookies and breads.

However, a few weeks ago we did do something different.  The kids and I made a birthday cake for my friend.  A mint chocolate chip birthday cake!!!  It wasn't something that we made up, that's for sure.  I wish I could take credit for this one!  The weather had been so nice at the start of May that summer was really on my mind.  Summer = Ice cream.  Ice cream can really only mean two things:  Tiger Tail or Mint Chocolate Chip.  (Well at least to me, anyway).  My husband would likely strongly disagree on the Tiger Tail ice cream flavor.  It was hard to find for awhile....but I feel like it's making a resurgence!   Maybe I'll try and tackle a cake with that flavor one day.....

Anyway..... to Pinterest I went.  It took me about 37 seconds to decide that THIS was it.  The recipe looks pretty similar to other chocolate cakes I've made in the past, and the buttercream is also pretty much exactly like one that I usually make.  This seemed like a low risk, high reward recipe to try.  I'm so glad I did!  Again, here is the LINK to the recipe that I used, courtesy of  I made a couple minor changes, so I will rewrite what I did, here:

For the cake:

-2 cups white sugar
-1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
-1 cup cocoa powder (I used Fry's Cocoa)*
-1 1/2 tsp baking powder
-1 1/2 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp salt
-2 eggs
-1 cup milk (I used 2%)
-1/2 cup canola oil
-1 tsp vanilla extract (the original recipe calls for 2 tsp)
-3/4 cup boiling water

*The original post asks for Dutch Process cocoa powder.  I have always wondered what this means.  Thank you Google, for helping me find this super easy explanation, via

-Combine all dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer, and gently stir until fully combined (I just use a spoon at this point so I don't have a dry ingredient explosion in my kitchen).

-Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes.  Scrape the bowl and then slowly whisk in the boiling water.

-Pour batter into two lightly greased and parchment lined 8 inch round pans.  (The original recipe also notes that you can use 9 inch pans).  I prefer a taller cake and usually stick with 8 inch.

-Bake for 30 to 40  minutes in a preheated 350F oven.  Start checking the cake at the 30ish minute mark.   Allow to cool in the pans on a wire rack for about 10 minutes and then remove and allow to completely cool on the racks for about 2 hours.

For the icing:

-1 cup soft butter (I have found that you can also sub sticks of margarine for this)
-1/4 cup 2% milk (the original recipe calls for 1/3 cup heavy cream)
-1 tsp mint extract (the original recipe calls for 2 tsp, but I think less is more when it comes to mint extract).  I also took out the 1 tsp of vanilla extract called for in the original recipe.
-a couple drops green food coloring.  (I used a couple dabs of Wilton Kelly Green paste)
-4 cups icing sugar
-2 oz (that's 2 squares) of semisweet baking chocolate, finely chopped

Cream butter until light and fluffy.  Slowly beat in icing sugar, one cup at a time, alternating with 1 tbsp of milk after each addition.  Add mint extract and green food coloring.  If you desire a thinner consistency, add additional milk, one teaspoon at a time.  Lastly, beat in chopped chocolate.

Fill and frost the two cakes.  This is such a nice easy one to frost because it's supposed to look like ice cream.  Don't worry about getting it smooth!

I wish I could have gotten a picture of this cake when it was cut, to show how nice and dark the chocolate cake was.  This is a very sweet little slice goes a long way.


Wednesday 4 May 2016

Garlic Naan Bread

I love curry dishes.  But..... I think I love naan bread more.  Eating curry is sort of an excuse to eat naan.  Mmmm.

The problem is, nothing really beats a warm, chewy, delicious chunk of naan bread from an Indian restaurant.  Sure, you can buy it from a package at the store, cringe a little bit that the "best before" date is often more than two weeks into the future, and pretend it tastes sort of like it should.  But....It just doesn't. 

I didn't realize how easy naan bread actually is to make from scratch.  I WISH I had before now.  I tried making some from scratch this past weekend, and I don't think I'll ever buy it again.  The kids even ate this up like crazy!

In search of a naan bread recipe, I started where I most often do, at Taste of Home.  I only found one, but boy what a perfect recipe to start with!  I made quite a few changes, and that's ok.  The base of the recipe was exactly what I needed.   It is a yeast-leavened recipe, but includes baking powder, which I credit with helping the dough "blister" and create that authentic restaurant-look of naan bread.  I added butter and garlic, and made a substitution for the yogurt, because I just NEVER have plain yogurt in my house.  I always have sour cream.  It's my favorite condiment and I should really buy it by the litre...

The first few pieces didn't exactly turn out as pretty as I would have liked, but I quickly solved that with rolling it thinner.  I'm going to link to the the ORIGINAL recipe here, but I've re-written it in my own words, below to reflect what I did.

3/4 cup warm milk (I used 2%)
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup sour cream (I used full fat) - the original recipe uses 3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 large egg, beaten
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3 cups double zero flour* - the original recipe calls for 4 cups of bread flour
1/4 cup butter, melted - this is not called for in the original recipe
2 cloves garlic, minced - this is not called for in the original recipe

*double zero flour can be found in some supermarkets, and almost always at specialty Italian stores.  All-purpose flour can be substituted, but I think using double zero really helped the chewy texture.

Place milk, yeast, and sugar in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer.  Allow to sit until yeast is foamy. Beat in sour cream, egg, canola oil, and salt.  Change to dough-hook attachment and mix in 1 cup of flour, and baking powder.  With mixer on the lowest setting, gradually knead in the remaining flour, 1/2 a cup at a time, until a soft dough forms.  Allow the dough-hook to knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic.  Add additional flour, a few tablespoons at a time, if the dough is too sticky.  Place in a greased bowl, cover, and allow to rise in a warm place until double in size, about 45 minutes.

The original recipe requested all of the ingredients be placed in a bread machine and to use the dough setting.  

After the dough has risen, punch down.  Divide into 8 equal sized balls, cover, and allow to rest while preparing pans and butter/garlic mixture.  The original recipe calls for the dough to be divided into 6 portions, but I found this to be slightly too big.

While dough is resting, mix together melted butter and garlic and set aside.  Preheat a large, heavy frying pan (I used a 16 inch pan), and season with about a tsp of canola oil.  I had mine almost smoking hot.  I figured that since traditional naan is cooked in a tandoor oven, the pan should be as hot as possible.

Roll out dough as thin as you can.  The original recipe calls for 1/4 inch ovals, but I found that was too thick.   Basically, I rolled it as thin as I could on a lightly floured surface, so that I could still peel it off without ripping.   Lay into the hot pan, and allow to cook until it starts to create large air bubbles/blisters on top (mine took less than 2 minutes.  Use a pastry brush to lightly coat with the garlic butter mixture, flip, and allow to cook another minute (until browned).  Place on an oven safe platter in a warm oven and repeat with each piece of dough.


Next time, I think I'm going to finely chop some cilantro and mix it in with the garlic butter.  This is a wonderful base recipe that will be fun to tweak going forward.

This picture doesn't do these hot and chewy naans justice...