SANDY’S CHOCOLATE CAKE RECIPE

INGREDIENTS
1 cup butter, softened
3 cups packed brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa
3 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/3 cups sour cream
1-1/3 cups boiling water
FROSTING:
1/2 cup butter, cubed
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
5 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour three 9-in. round baking pans.
In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. In another bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream, beating well after each addition. Stir in water until blended.
Transfer to prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
For frosting, in a metal bowl over simmering water, melt butter and chocolates; stir until smooth. Cool slightly.
In a large bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar, sour cream and vanilla. Add chocolate mixture; beat until smooth. Spread frosting between layers and over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 16 servings.

Raspberry Cheesecake

Ingredients
For the crust:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 whole extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the topping:
1 cup red jelly (not jam), such as currant, raspberry, or strawberry
3 half-pints fresh raspberries.

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the crust, combine the graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter until moistened. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. With your hands, press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about 1-inch up the sides. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F.

To make the filling, cream the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs and egg yolks, 2 at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the bowl and beater, as necessary. With the mixer on low, add the sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly and pour into the cooled crust.

Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 225 degrees F and bake for another 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn the oven off and open the door wide. The cake will not be completely set in the center. Allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door open for 30 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to sit at room temperature for another 2 to 3 hours, until completely cooled. Wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the cake from the springform pan by carefully running a hot knife around the outside of the cake. Leave the cake on the bottom of the springform pan for serving.

To make the topping, melt the jelly in a small pan over low heat. In a bowl, toss the raspberries and the warm jelly gently until well mixed. Arrange the berries on top of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Note: Measure your springform pan. The bottom of mine measures 9 inches, but it says 9 1/2. I put the springform pan on a sheet pan before putting it in the oven to catch any leaks.

Bake Sale Chocolate-Coconut Bars

Ingredients
Butter, for greasing pan
Topping:
1/3 cup coconut cream
1 large egg white
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
One (4-ounce) bar bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Base:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling dough
1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
One (1-pound) package prepared sugar cookie dough.

Directions
Watch how to make this recipe.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut a piece of foil 9 by 23-inches. Butter the corners and sides of a 9 by 9-inch baking pan. Line the pan with the foil, leaving an overhang on two sides. Fold the overhanging foil to make them doubly thick. (This will make it easier to lift the bar out of the pan.)

For the topping: Whisk the coconut cream with the egg white and vanilla in a medium bowl. Toss the shredded coconut with the flour in another medium bowl. Stir the shredded coconut mixture into the coconut cream mixture. Set aside.

For the base: Whisk the flour with the cocoa powder and salt in a small bowl. Put the cookie dough on a clean work surface and dump the flour mixture on top. Knead the flour mixture and dough together until it is dark and homogenous. Sprinkle a little extra flour on the work surface, and use a rolling pin to gently press and roll the dough into a 7-or-8-inch square-don’t worry if it cracks a bit. Put the dough in the prepared pan, using your fingers to press it evenly into the sides and corners.

Scatter the coconut topping evenly over the base, making sure you cover the edges well and being sure not to press down so that the coconut mixture lies on top of the dough. Scatter the chocolate on top and press it lightly into the coconut. Bake until the coconut is a toasted golden brown, the topping seems dry and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool completely on a rack before gently lifting out of the pan by the overhanging foil, about 20 minutes. Slice into 16 square bars.

Raspberry Tiramisu

Ingredients
1 cup seedless raspberry jam
6 tablespoons orange liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)
1 pound mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
28 soft ladyfingers or 2 (12-ounce) pound cakes, cut into 3 by 1 by 1 1/2-inch pieces
3 (1/2 dry pint) baskets fresh raspberries (about 3 3/4 cups total)
Confectioners’ sugar, for serving

Directions
Watch how to make this recipe.

Stir the jam and 4 tablespoons of the orange liqueur in a small bowl to blend.

Combine the mascarpone and remaining 2 tablespoons of orange liqueur in a large bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream, sugar, and vanilla in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Using a large rubber spatula, stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture to lighten. Fold the remaining whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture.

Line the bottom of a13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish or other decorative serving dish with half of the ladyfingers. Spread half of the jam mixture over the ladyfingers. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the jam mixture, then cover with half of the fresh raspberries. Repeat layering with the remaining ladyfingers, jam mixture, mascarpone mixture and raspberries. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups chocolate chips, 2 Hershey’s chocolate bars, chopped or M&M’S
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional).

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl stir together flour, salt, and baking soda. In another large bowl stir together butter, both sugars, eggs, vanilla and cocoa. Gradually stir flour mixture into butter mixture and mix until combined. Stir chocolate chips and walnuts, if using, and stir to distribute evenly.

For cookies: Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets and bake about 10 minutes. Cool on a baking rack.

For bars: Pat dough into a greased 9 inch square baking pan and bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cut into squares when cooled

Mexican Hot Chocolate Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients
Chocolate Cake:
Softened unsalted butter, for the pans
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 teaspoons chipotle powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
Cream Cheese Frosting:
24 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
6 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Cocoa powder, for dusting

Directions
Special equipment: two 9-inch round cake pans

For the chocolate cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

Mix the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, chipotle powder, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl until blended. Add the oil, milk, vanilla and eggs and beat with an electric mixer until thoroughly blended, about 2 minutes.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and bake until a wooden pick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Cool on a rack 10 minutes, then invert the pans to remove the cakes and cool completely.

For the cream cheese frosting: Beat the cream cheese and butter together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until thoroughly combined and smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until the frosting is very smooth, about 2 minutes.

Spoon 2 cups of the frosting onto the top of one cake layer and smooth evenly with an offset spatula. Top with the second layer. Spoon just enough frosting on top to make a thin but even coating of frosting on top and all along the sides of the cake; it is okay if this frosting gets messy and full of crumbs. Freeze the cake until the frosting is firm, about 10 minutes.

Spoon the remaining frosting onto the cake and smooth evenly over the entire cake with the offset spatula. Dust lightly with cocoa powder and serve.

Peanut Butter-Chocolate-Coconut Layer Cake

Ingredients
Cake:
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk
Frosting and Filling:
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup heavy cream

Directions
Special equipment: two 9-inch round cake pans

For the cake: Position an oven rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, and line the bottom of each with a round piece of parchment. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda onto a piece of parchment or into a large bowl.

Beat the butter, brown sugar, peanut butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until the mixture is light and creamy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the side of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating until the mixture is light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low, and add the flour mixture in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for a few minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely. Invert each onto a cooling rack, and remove the parchment. (The cakes can be stored at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap, for 1 day.)

For the filling: Spread the coconut out on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees F until golden and toasted, about 8 minutes.

Put the chocolate and butter in a medium bowl, microwave for 1 minute, stir until smooth and pour into a large bowl. Add the cocoa powder, vanilla and salt, and mix with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Continue to mix on low speed, adding the sugar a cup at a time and alternating with additions of the milk. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high, and mix until smooth. (If not being used immediately, the filling can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days; let it come to room temperature and mix on medium-high until smooth.)

To assemble: Slice each cake in half, for a total of 4 rounds. Spread the peanut butter on 3 of the rounds, dividing evenly. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of toasted coconut on each of the 3 rounds. Put 1 round, peanut butter-and-coconut-side up, on a cake stand or serving platter, and spread about 1/2 cup of the chocolate filling on top, leaving about a 1/2-inch border all around. Repeat with 2 more layers of cake and filling. Place the last cake round (without the peanut butter and coconut) on top.

For the frosting: Put the remaining 1 1/2 cups of the filling in a large bowl, add the cream and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until medium peaks form. Frost the cake and sprinkle the top with the remaining toasted coconut. Refrigerate the cake until it sets up (this makes it possible to cut neat slices), at least 4 hours up to overnight. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Chocolate-Coconut-Peanut Butter Layered Bites

Ingredients
Cooking spray
Peanut Butter Cookie Layer:
2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Macaroon Layer:
3 large egg whites
One 14-ounce bag sweetened, shredded coconut
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
Ganache Layer:
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Pinch fine salt

Directions
Watch how to make this recipe.

Position an oven rack in the bottom position of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-inch square baking dish with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Coat the foil with cooking spray.

For the peanut butter cookie layer: Beat the peanut butter, sugar and salt with an electric mixer on medium-high in a medium bowl until smooth. Beat the eggs in one at a time and then the vanilla. Adjust the speed to medium-low, add the flour and beat until incorporated. Press the batter into an even layer in the bottom of the prepared baking dish; set aside.

For the macaroon layer: Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until frothy. Toss the coconut, sugar and salt together with your hands in another large bowl; add the egg whites, and stir until the coconut mixture is coated. Scatter the coconut mixture in an even layer on top of the peanut butter cookie layer (there shouldn’t be any peeking through).

Bake until the center doesn’t jiggle when shaken and the coconut is golden brown, 55 minutes to 1 hour. Transfer to a rack, and let cool completely.

For the ganache layer: Put the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Combine the cream, butter and salt in a small saucepan, and heat over medium heat until steaming. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate, and let sit for 5 minutes; stir until smooth.

Pour the ganache over the coconut. Cover loosely, and refrigerate until the chocolate is set up, about 30 minutes.

Lift the bar mixture out of the pan, and peel off the foil. Trim to make neat edges, and cut into very small squares, about the size of fudge.

Chocolate Cake in a Mug

Ingredients
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt, optional
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Splash vanilla extract, optional
3 tablespoons chocolate chips

Directions
Watch how to make this recipe.

Special equipment: a 12-ounce microwave-safe ceramic mug and a microwave oven

Put the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt if using in a 12-ounce microwave-safe ceramic mug. Blend thoroughly with a fork. Add the milk, vegetable oil and vanilla if using and blend until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Microwave on high for 90 seconds. Do not overcook or the cake will be dry. Let cool for 2 to 3 minutes before eating.