Category Archives: Chocolate

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting (and a story about burnout)

Hi. Is anybody still here?

I’ve been a little MIA recently, owing mostly to the burnout I’ve been rocketing toward for the last year. It happened gradually—I went down to one post a week in February, quit posting to social media in June, didn’t do anything blog-related during my vacation in August, then took three more weeks away. I tried everything in my power not to disappear completely from this place, but nearly seven years into this endeavor, I was just…tired.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting (and a story about burnout)​

Running this one-woman show isn’t easy. Between testing, photographing, writing, posting, and promoting, each post takes about twelve hours start-to-finish. I make income from this blog, but throwing all the daily tasks of running it on top of my day job, trying to have some semblance of a social life, and regularly scheduled introvert hours had me on the verge of a breakdown. So, I stepped away.

I didn’t stop baking though. In fact, I have baked more. I have baked, dare I say, *better.* With more passion, without any expectations. I made things I wanted to make, whether or not they were seasonally appropriate or trending.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

Take this Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting, for instance. I wanted to make it for months, and finally did it once I took the pressure off myself. It’s old-fashioned and simple, made with my go-to chocolate cake recipe and finished with a silky, tangy chocolate frosting. It’s rich and chocolaty, unfussy and unpretentious, with a glossy finish usually reserved for the cover of Southern Living Magazine. In short, it’s everything I want in a chocolate cake. I’m just glad I finally took the time to make it. I hope you will, too.

I am a little hesitant to dive back in here, but I think I am ready to get back to blogging. I’ve missed it. Posts may be twice a week or may just be once depending on how the rest of my life is going. For now though, I am back and oh-so glad to be in this little corner of the internet.

Hello, out there.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
Chocolate Cake
makes two 9-inch round layers

Cake:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch Process)
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon espresso granules (optional, but recommended)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil (I use canola)
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk (low fat is fine)
1 cup boiling water

For assembly:
1 recipe Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting (below)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, brown sugar, espresso granules (if using), baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to distribute ingredients evenly. Set aside.

In a separate medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together oil and eggs, followed by vanilla and buttermilk. Whisk half the egg mixture into the dry ingredients, just until combined. Add half the boiling water. Whisk in the remaining egg mixture followed by the remaining water. Batter will be thin.

Divide batter evenly between the pans. Tap full pans on the counter five times to release any air bubbles. Bake 25-27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cakes cool in their pans for at least 30 minutes. Run a small, thin knife around the edges. Invert cakes onto cooling racks and discard parchment. Allow to cool to room temperature.

While layers are cooling, make the frosting (recipe below).

Assemble the cake. Place one layer on a cake plate. Top with about 3/4 cup frosting, then sandwich the other layer on top. Frost and decorate cake as desired.

Frosted cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days, and in the refrigerator for up to a week.


Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
makes enough for two 9-inch round layers

2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons (heaping 1/3 cup) full-fat sour cream

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Whisk together to distribute evenly.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in half the dry ingredients, scraping down the bowl as necessary. It may seem like too much, but it will incorporate. Mix in remaining dry ingredients. Add vanilla and sour cream, then beat on high for 2-3 minutes, until smooth and fluffy. Use to frost a 9-inch round layer cake (or whatever).

Neapolitan Icebox Cake

Neapolitan Icebox Cake​

Beautifully baked, elaborately frosted layer cakes are all fine and good, but have you ever skipped the oven entirely, stacked Oreos with three different flavors of whipped cream, let the whole thing set up in the fridge and called it a cake?

Neapolitan Icebox Cake​

Oh yes, Neapolitan Icebox Cake is where it’s at. This triple-layered, triple-flavored no-bake cake hits all the buttons you want in a summer dessert, including keeping the kitchen cool. Even mixing vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry whipped creams, it takes less than 45 minutes to assemble and slide into the fridge to set up.

There are two secrets to perfecting this icebox cake. The first is dipping each Oreo in milk before assembling the cake. This allows the cookies to soften all the way through by adding moisture to the creme centers. If you skip the dipping, you will still be able to slice the cake, but the areas near the Oreos’ creme filling will stay a bit tough instead of softening to a cake-like texture.

Neapolitan Icebox Cake​

As with all icebox cakes, the second secret is time! Though it only takes minutes to assemble, this cake has to be refrigerated for at least 8 hours before serving. Luckily, we here at E2 Bakes love a make-ahead recipe almost as much as we love cake. And that’s really saying something because we love cake a lot.

Neapolitan Icebox Cake​
Neapolitan Icebox Cake
makes one cake ~9 inch cake

1 batch chocolate whipped cream (recipe below)
55-60 regular Oreos, divided (I used 57)
~1 cup milk
1 batch vanilla whipped cream (recipe below)
1 batch strawberry whipped cream

For garnish (optional):
Chocolate Shell
crushed freeze dried strawberries
crushed Oreos

Use an offset icing spatula to smear a thin layer of chocolate whipped cream onto a 11-12 inch round plate or platter.

Create the first Oreo layer. Take one Oreo, dunk it in milk, then place it in the center of the plate. Repeat this process, arranging the Oreos so that they are touching and make a vaguely circular shape (mine is technically a hexagon). I used 19 Oreos per layer.

Top the first layer with the chocolate whipped cream, spreading it all the way to the edges.

Repeat the Oreo dunking and arranging process. Top with the vanilla whipped cream. Repeat the Oreo dunking and arranging one more time, then top with the strawberry whipped cream.

Refrigerate the cake uncovered for 2 hours. Then, gently cover the cake with plastic wrap and let refrigerate for 6-20 more hours, until ready to serve.

About 30 minutes before serving, gently remove and discard the plastic wrap. Drizzle the cake with chocolate shell and other toppings, if desired. Refrigerate the cake for 10 more minutes to ensure a hard shell.

To serve, cut slices with a large, sharp chef’s knife, wiping it clean between cuts. Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. The freeze dried strawberry garnish will soften over time.


Chocolate Whipped Cream

1 1/3 cup heavy cream, very cold
2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Do not over whip (but if you do, just add a little more cream). Store in the refrigerator until needed for cake assembly.

Vanilla Whipped Cream

1 1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 confectioner’s sugar

In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, vanilla, and confectioner’s sugar. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Do not over whip (but if you do, just add a little more cream). Store in the refrigerator until needed for cake assembly.

Strawberry Whipped Cream

~2/3 cup freeze dried strawberries
1 1/3 cup heavy cream, very cold
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

Place freeze dried strawberries in a food processor and process until they are powder, about 45-60 seconds. Alternatively, place the berries in a sealed zip-top bag and crush well with a rolling pin or other heavy object.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, vanilla, confectioner’s sugar, and pulverized berries. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Do not over whip (but if you do, just add a little more cream). Store in the refrigerator until needed for cake assembly.

Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats

Have you ever had Millionaire’s Shortbread? Called “millionaire’s” because it’s so rich, it’s a popular sweet in the UK, consisting of a buttery shortbread crust layered with homemade caramel and dark chocolate. It’s as delicious as it is beautiful to look at, and one of my favorite recipes that hasn’t made it onto this blog yet…though I have a sneaking suspicion it will before the year is out.

Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats

For now though, I’m taking the Millionaire’s Shortbread look and flavors and pushing them in an easy no-bake direction, just in time for picnic season. Instead of using a shortbread crust, I’m swapping in a layer of Rice Krispies Treats!

Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats

Oh, y’all, these Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats are so good! They’re super rich and delicious with an irresistible, chewy, crispy crust. And I mean, can we take a minute to admire these layers?!

Let’s take a look at each one. To start, I used my go-to Rice Krispies Treats formula. As a general rule, I use 1 tablespoon butter : 1 cup mini marshmallows : 1 cup cereal and round up as needed. I’ve doubled that formula to give the other layers a good thick base. If you like, you may use another formula (there are a zillion out there), but keep in mind that you want these Rice Krispies Treats to be sturdier than they are gooey to support all the other layers.

For the middle caramel layer, I decided to forgo the homemade caramel this time around, instead opting for a mix of melted soft caramel candies and cream. Some will sink into the nooks in the Rice Krispies Treats as it sets, while the rest will set smoothly to support the chocolate topping. Yum!

The top is the easiest layer of all three: dark chocolate and butter melted together until smooth and spread from edge to edge. Easy peasy.

Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats

As with many no-bake treats, these are easy to make but take a fair amount of time since each layer needs to set up before the next can be added. The whole process can be done in a couple hours though (including setting time), so it’s no big deal. If you don’t have time to make these all in one go, you can take a few minutes here and there and assemble them at your leisure.

Once all the layers are set and chilled, it’s time to slice up the treats! Since these are so rich, I like to cut these pretty small (24 servings from an 8-inch pan), but do whatever makes you happy. While you need a few chills to set these treats properly, you may serve them cold or at room temperature. I like both, but am extra fond of the gooey caramel centers the room temp versions have to offer.

Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats

Like I said above, I think these would be wonderful for picnics and other casual get togethers this spring. I took a batch to a meeting last week and they were *very* popular. More than one person said “I can’t believe you actually made these. They’re so good!” Just proof that you only need a tiny amount of effort for a dessert that looks and tastes like a million bucks!

Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats
Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats
makes one 8-inch square pan, about 24 treats

Rice Krispies Treats:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups mini marshmallows
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 cups Rice Krispies cereal

Caramel Filling:
16 ounces caramel candies (1 1/2 11-ounce bags, about 60 caramels)
6 tablespoons heavy cream
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Chocolate Topping:
4 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Butter a 8-inch square pan. Line it with parchment, leaving overhang on at least two sides for removal. Butter again.

Make the Rice Krispies Treats. Heat a medium, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add butter and swirl to melt. Add mini marshmallows and salt, and stir constantly until melted. Remove pan from heat and stir in Rice Krispies cereal.

Transfer cereal to prepared pan. Use greased implements or hands (be careful—the mixture is hot!) to press the mixture into an even layer. Let cool completely.

Make the caramel filling. Combine caramels, heavy cream, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Pour caramel over the top of the Rice Krispies Treats and smooth to the edges. Let cool at room temperature for 20 minutes before transferring to the freezer for 30 minutes (or the refrigerator for 2 hours) to firm up.

Make the chocolate topping. Combine chopped chocolate and butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, just until melted. Drop chocolate over filling and use a small offset icing spatula to carefully spread it over the caramel. Let cool a few minutes before transferring to the freezer until chocolate has hardened and the bars are chilled through, about 30 minutes (or 1-2 hours in the refrigerator).

Use parchment overhang to remove bars to a cutting board. Carefully remove and discard parchment. Use a lightly-greased sharp chef’s knife to slice into 24 pieces. For cleanest slices, wipe knife clean between cuts.

Treats may be served cold or at room temperature. They may be kept covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For best storage, layer them with parchment or wax paper.

Nutella Sandwich Cookies

Nutella Sandwich Cookies​

I promised you new Nutella recipes almost two months ago, and I am finally delivering in the form of the cutest, tiniest, most delicious Nutella Sandwich Cookies you ever did see.

Made with a buttery hazelnut sugar cookie dough and filled with a spoonful of Nutella, these are completely irresistible. Their texture isn’t crunchy or hard, so Nutella won’t squidge out the sides when you take a bite, but they are still sturdy enough to stack—it’s a little difficult to explain, but it’s so good.

I suppose the best endorsement I can give these Nutella Sandwich Cookies is that I have not shared even one with any of my friends or acquaintances, which is remarkable when you consider that the batch size falls around 8 dozen!

Nutella Sandwich Cookies​

I’ll be the first to admit it: 8 dozen is a lot of cookies. But hear me out. Making sandwich cookies is a whole production, so you might as well make a ton at once to get your energy’s worth, right?! Also, they’re teeny tiny—1 1/2 inches in diameter, smaller than an Oreo. I can easily put away three or four at a time. If you’re still concerned, know that Nutella Sandwich Cookies keep for a while—longer than a week—so you don’t have to worry about them spoiling.

Honestly though, I don’t think you’ll have a whole lot of trouble putting these away. I mean, I’m over here by my lonesome and I’m managing just fine.

Nutella Sandwich Cookies​
Nutella Sandwich Cookies
makes about 8 dozen small cookies

Cookie Dough:
2/3 cup whole raw hazelnuts
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Assembly:
~1 cup Nutella

Preheat oven to 350F. Scatter hazelnuts on a dry rimmed sheet pan. Let toast for 5-7 minutes. Remove pan to a rack and turn off oven. Let hazelnuts cool to room temperature; no need to peel.

When hazelnuts are room temperature, add them to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until a fine meal forms—do not over process or you’ll have hazelnut butter.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, hazelnut meal, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in 3 installments, combining completely after each. Divide dough into quarters, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate for 3 hours or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Lightly flour a surface and a rolling pin. Take one quarter of chilled dough at a time, roll it to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut cookies with a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter. Place cut cookies an 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies 6-7 minutes, until no longer raw-looking. Let cookies cool on the pans for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling, cutting, and baking with any remaining dough.

If not sandwiching immediately, store cookies in an airtight container for up to a couple of days.

To assemble sandwich cookies, place half the baked cookies on a surface bottom-side-up. Spoon or pipe about 1/2 teaspoon of Nutella on each cookie before gently topping with another cookie, bottom-side-down. Repeat until all cookies have been filled.

Cookies may be eaten immediately, but I like to let them sit in a single layer for a bit so that the cookies soften slightly against the Nutella; this way the cookie stays intact when you bite in.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for at least a week.

Fudge-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Fudge-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars​

Nothing is better than homemade chocolate chip cookies, but these Fudge-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars might give them a run for their money. I mean, what’s not to love about two thin layers of chewy chocolate chip cookie sandwiched together with a layer of chocolate fudge?! It goes without saying that these are sublime.

Fudge-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars​

This recipe is remarkably easy to make (and even easier to eat). The chocolate chip cookie portion is simply my go-to cookie cake recipe. I made 1.5x the amount to fill a 9×13” pan and just used regular melted butter instead of browning it, but otherwise it’s the same one bowl, no-mixer recipe I’ve used for years.

The fudge is even easier than the cookie dough! Simply melt some dark chocolate in the microwave and then stir in a can of sweetened condensed milk. The mixture will be very thick and fudgy (because it’s fudge, duh). If you were to spread it in a square pan and let it cool, you could slice it into pieces and eat it as is, but today it’s going between two layers of cookie dough and being baked to chewy, chocolaty perfection.

Fudge-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars​

Fudge-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars only need 30 minutes in the oven—it’s the cooling step that takes a while! It will be worth it though because you’ll get chewy cookie, soft fudge and perfectly clean edges. Who can resist these layers?! Not me. That’s for damn sure.

Fudge-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars​
Fudge-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
makes one 9x13-inch pan, 24-30 bars

Cookie Dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
18 tablespoons (2 sticks + 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups light or dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Fudge:
12 ounces chopped dark chocolate
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9x13-inch pan. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on the long sides for removal, and grease again. Set aside.

Make the cookie dough. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter and brown sugar. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, stirring to combine. Fold in chocolate chips.

Transfer half the dough to prepared pan and spread/press into one even layer.

Make the fudge. Place dark chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between, until melted and smooth. Whisk in sweetened condensed milk. Mixture will be thick.

Use an offset icing spatula or the back of a spoon to spread fudge over the layer of cookie dough, making sure to go all the way to the edges. Use your hands to press the remaining dough into an even layer over the top of the fudge; this is easiest if you work with a little bit at a time and patch it together.

Bake 25-30 minutes, until the top no longer appears shiny.

Let cookie bars cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use the parchment overhang to remove to a cutting board. Discard parchment. Use a large sharp chef’s knife to slice bars. Serve.

Decorated cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.