Fudge Cake Hearts

Ok…this is everything you could ever want in a dessert. I served these fabulous cakes at our Downton Season Finale Tea Party! Everyone loved them, including myself! The peanut butter buttercream filling is to die for!

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Ingredients

For the cake:
1 box of devils food cake mix (I used Aldi’s Bakers Corner Brand)
4 eggs (the box calls for 3, so I added an extra egg to the mix)
Substitute milk for water
Substitute softened, unsalted butter for oil
1/2 cup sour cream

For the buttercream filling:
1 heaping cup of peanut butter
1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt
(Original recipe: the perfect peanut butter buttercream )

For the ganache:
9 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream

Directions

Let’s start with the cake. I find it easier to just doctor up boxed cake mix. Mix ingredients and bake according to package directions, using substitutions stated above. Bake the cake in a greased and lightly floured 13×9 cake pan. Let cake completely cool. You will need to get this cake out of the pan in one piece, so try to flip it over quickly onto a large parchment covered cutting board.

Once the cake is free from the pan, take a large serrated knife and slice the cake longways, creating two large, thinner cakes. Cut 12 hearts out (6 from each layer) with a decent sized heart shaped cookie cutter. Set aside the cake hearts on parchment, and discard the scraps. (Or save them for snacking, or cake pops!)

Next, get your buttercream going. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the peanut butter and butter for 3 minutes. Next, add the powdered sugar, scrape the sides of the bowl and mix until combined. Lastly, add in the heavy cream and salt, and mix until smooth. Mix on high for 3-4 minutes, until the buttercream has become light and fluffy.

***This buttercream is meant to be used immediately, so don’t go refrigerating it. Set time aside to make this the day of!***

Once you’ve made your buttercream, transfer it to a piping bag. Pipe the BC (buttercream) onto 6 of the hearts. (Don’t be shy, lay it on thick!) Sandwich the piped buttercream by topping each piped heart with the remaining 6 heart shaped cakes. Now move the 6 filled heart cakes to a cooling rack, which is situated on top of a sheet pan or wax paper. (The ganache is going to be poured over the cakes, an the excess ganache will fall below.) You can pipe extra BC onto each plate if you’d like, for extra rich goodness!

Now, onto the ganache! Place the chopped, bittersweet chocolate in a medium bowl, and set aside.

Heat the heavy cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, watching very carefully. (It can boil over quickly!) Immediately remove from heat and pour over the chopped chocolate. Whisk until smooth.

Allow the ganache to cool slightly before pouring over the cakes. Start pouring at the center of the cake and work outward. Pop any air bubbles with a toothpick for a beautiful, smooth finish. Let the ganache set until no longer shiny or tacky and serve. Enjoy!

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Cranberry White Chocolate Almond Scones

Tea anyone? I am, like many, obsessedddddd with Downton Abbey. My hubby says I’m slowly turning British! He’s not complaining though, because I’m a scone baking madwoman as of late. I’m not sure what an “authentic” British scone tastes like, but I’m hoping I’m not too off! This is a great basic recipe, and can be altered to suit your tastes. Just make sure your ingredients are COLD!

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Ingredients

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
3/4 cup half n half
1 egg
Handful of dried cranberries and white chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix well. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until crumbly.

In a separate bowl, combine cream with beaten egg,. Make a well in the dry ingredients, then add wet ingredients. Stir with spoon, using your hands if necessary. Do not over mix! Next, stir in cranberries and white chocolate chips.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Roll dough or flatten dough out, then form into biscuit size rounds. Bake for 15 minutes or until brown. Let cool on a wire rack. Enjoy with your favorite tea or coffee!

Classic Swedish Meatballs

Talk bout comfort food! These meatballs are delicious, and this recipe really satisfies every age in my family. I serve them over wide egg noodles, smothered in extra gravy!

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Ingredients:

Meatballs
3 slices whole wheat bread
1/2 cup 1% milk
1/2 small sweet onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, divided
1 1/4 pounds ground pork
2 large eggs
a handful parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ pound ground beef

Gravy
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup unbleached white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
3 cups reduced-sodium beef or chicken broth
1/2 cup half and half cream

Directions:

Break bread slices into small pieces and put in a medium bowl. Pour milk over bread and toss with your hands to moisten evenly. Set aside. In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook the onion in 1 tablespoon butter with 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt until translucent, about 4 minutes. Toss in the garlic, stir for 30 seconds to a minute. Remove from heat.

Drain excess milk from bread, squeezing lightly. Add to the bowl of a standing mixer (or if using a hand-held mixer, leave in bowl). Add onion and garlic mixture, pork, eggs, parsley, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper and beat until smooth, 3 minutes, scraping down sides occasionally as you go. When mixture is smooth, break ground beef into very small pieces and stir just until evenly distributed.

Roll the meat mixture into balls with your hands and set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large (ideally at least 14-inch) pan over medium heat. Add a batch of balls to pan and cook, turning frequently with tongs, until browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. When the first batch is done, put in a deep dish and cover with foil. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan and brown second batch of meatballs. Repeat as needed; transfer all the meatballs to the deep dish while you make the gravy.

Increase heat under pan to medium-high. If your pan has some drippings, add 2 tablespoons of butter; if not use 3. Add flour and salt and whisk; the mixture will be crumbly. Add broth 1 cup at a time, whisking constantly until smooth. Add half and half at end and stir well. Lower heat to low, add the meatballs back to the pan and allow to cook another 5 minutes.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings
adapted from Yankee Magazine Lost & Vintage Recipes
Original recipe here: http://www.savoringthethyme.com/2012/10/classic-swedish-meatballs-yankee-magazine-lost-vintage-recipes-giveaway/

Raspberry White Chocolate Scones

Another tea time favorite! These scones are wonderfully sweet and moist, thanks to the addition of instant vanilla pudding mix!

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Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour
2 TBSPs sugar
1 TBSP baking powder
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
6 Tbsp COLD unsalted butter, diced
1 small box of instant vanilla pudding mix
1 large egg, COLD
1/2 cup half n half, COLD
1 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips, plus more for drizzling

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425°

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Cut in butter until the dough is crumbly, working fast so nothing gets too warm. Cold is key when making scones! (I highly suggest using a pastry blender, which you can pick up anywhere for a few bucks.)

Gently stir in the pudding mix, white chocolate chips, and frozen raspberries. (Keep raspberries frozen till use, and I also suggest freezing the chips beforehand also.)

Make a small well in the center of the mixture, then add the egg and half n half. Stir until just combined. Finish bringing the dough together with your hands. (It will be sticky!)

Pour the dough out onto a large, floured cutting board. Divide the dough in two, and make two small, flat rounds. Slice each round into 8 equal pieces, for a total of 16 small scones.

Bake on parchment paper/Silpat for 11 minutes or until the bottom edges of the scones are golden brown. Cool on wife racks, then drizzle with melted white chocolate.

Yummy nummy!

Crock Pot Pepperoni Chicken

Here’s a really tasty crockpot meal the whole family will enjoy!

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Ingredients:

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
About 40 pepperonis, sliced in half
1/4 cup black olives, drained and sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 packet of Italian dressing seasoning
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 cup shredded, part-skim mozzarella cheese
Salt, pepper to taste

Directions:

Place chicken in crock pot. Sprinkle chicken with onion powder, salt and pepper. Next, add pepperoni and olives.

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In a small bowl, whisk together chicken broth, tomato paste and Italian dressing mix and pour over chicken.

Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 2-3 hours. Before serving, sprinkle cheese on top of chicken, cover with lid and allow cheese to melt.

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Use a slotted spoon to serve chicken, and discard and extra cooking liquid. Enjoy!