Holiday Sandwich Cookies

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Cait and I seem to have developed a tradition in recent years of getting together and baking something in time for the holidays. Usually there’s much yelling (both at each other and at what we’re doing) and definitely too much giggling. Last year we made biscotti, and the year before that we came up with those rum balls that got us wasted. This year I got to pick, and, as I’ve been craving Oreos recently, I went with that for inspiration and found this recipe from Chatelaine.

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It started with us making a trip to Dollarama for some unrelated items, and Cait managed to find a three-pack of teeny tiny Santa hat hair clips. Note our manic expressions. I’m surprised mine actually stayed in my hair the whole night.

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It did not stay in Gren’s hair. He was not a fan.

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Start with your dough, because you’ll need to refrigerate it for a bit. In a bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (I doubled the recipe because there were two of us).

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Then, in the bowl of your mixer, plop 1 cup room temperature butter and beat it with 1 cup granulated sugar until it’s fluffy and lovely.

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Then drip in 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 egg and beat that until fluffy.

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Slowly, using a shield, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until well combined. The dough will be very stiff.

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Separate that into two sections, flatten them into discs, and chuck them in the fridge for at least an hour. I made ours into little logs, which we then labeled “poos” for the rest of the night. We are very mature.

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Now you can make your filling. Beat up 1/2 cup room temperature butter until soft and creamy, then add in 2 1/2 cups sifted icing sugar (slowly) and beat until combined. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons (or more) whipping cream until you have a nice thick fluffy icing. Then you add in 1/4 cup crushed hard candy.

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Now, Cait made hers with crushed candy canes (the recipe calls for peppermint candies but they’re pretty much the same).

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I, however, have a strong aversion to candy canes. So I used Werther’s hard candies instead.

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Here is Cait smashing up some Werther’s for me.

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So we split the icing into two parts and mixed the candy canes into one half and the hard caramels into the other.

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Now, when your dough is chilled enough, preheat your oven to 375°F and spray several baking sheets or line them with parchment (which is what I did). Grab one of your chilled discs of dough and roll it out on a floured surface (or between two sheets of waxed paper, which is what I’m doing here). Dust things with flour if they get sticky.

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Use cookie cutters to get some good sandwichy shapes. Cait was in charge of this as I rolled out the dough. She was very careful to make sure she made at least two of everything, for sandwichy purposes.

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Gather up your scraps and chuck them back in the fridge to re-roll after ten minutes or so. Make sure to use all the dough! Place the cut cookies on your baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. The cookies will expand somewhat so don’t put them too close together.

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Set the baked cookies on a wire rack to cool completely.

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Cait made this cookie corgi specially for the Pie.

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Now sit down with your cooled cookies and your frosting and a small knife and start pasting icing onto one side of a cookie. We watched Elf as we did this, to get into the holiday spirit.

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Match it up and squish it down (not too hard – they will break if you press them too hard).

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And that’s it. Sandwiches! They’re supposedly best eaten the day they’re made but I actually preferred them the next day when they were a little chewier. But that’s up to you.

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Store whatever you can’t eat in an airtight container.

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Apple Streusel Muffins

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A couple weeks ago, in the beginning stages of November, I had a strong hankering for apple muffins. I was reading a book where one of the main characters kept making them and I just couldn’t resist the temptation anymore. I found this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction and the rest is really history.

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Let’s start with the streusel crumb topping, shall we? It’s what elevates these simple muffins into items of historic greatness. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a bowl, then dump in 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Give that a good stirring.

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Then add in 2/3 cup all-purpose flour and mix it up with a fork or your hands.

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You’re going to get a lovely crumbly mix. Set that aside for a minute.

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Now, preheat your oven to 425°F. I know that seems high, but don’t worry, we’ve got a plan. You might want to grease or butter a muffin tin while you’re at it. I also set 2 large eggs in a bowl of warm water to bring them to room temperature. Because I didn’t plan ahead.

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In the bowl of your mixer, cream 1/2 cup room temperature butter until all fluffy and amazing. Then add in 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup granulated sugar and beat that up again.

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Why yes – that granulated sugar IS pink. It’s a long story.

Then add in your 2 large eggs and beat until fully combined. Don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

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Now add in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1/2 cup yogurt (any flavour). You can use sour cream if you have no yogurt. I had neither sour cream nor yogurt, so I used buttermilk. Well, I had no buttermilk either, so I used milk that I had soured with lemon juice.

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Now, peel and chop up 2 medium apples – you want about 1 1/2 cups diced apples for this. Can you peel your apple all in one piece? It’s one of my special skills.

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In another large bowl, whisk together 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour with 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. The original recipe also calls for a teaspoon of baking soda but I found I could really taste it in the muffin so I would leave it out.

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Add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

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Plop in your apples and 1/4 cup milk (any kind) and mix that up again.

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Scoop that glorious stuff into your prepared muffin tin, filling the whole cup.

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Sprinkle generously with the streusel topping and shove that in the oven. Bake for 5 minutes at 425°F, then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for a further 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the centre muffin comes out clean.

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While the muffins were baking, I glanced out the window and the bright sunny day had suddenly become a blizzard.

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And then the sun came out again. Though the snow kept falling.

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Set the hot muffins on a wire rack to cool down and start on your glaze.

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Whisk together 1 cup icing sugar with 3 tablespoons heavy cream and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.

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Drizzle that insanity over your still warm muffins.

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Eat these glorious gems within a couple days, as they will tend to get soggy over time.

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S’mores Cookie Bars

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We’re having a beautiful fall, where it’s nice and crisp at night but during the day it’s glorious and sunny. So I can still pretend it’s summer with a summery dish. Right? Right. The Crockpot Gourmet has this kid-pleasing concoction that I knew would be a hit at a family potluck, so I gave it a whirl. Or at least, I thought about it. I REALLY want to make this in the crock pot. Because I think it would be the ultimate in awesome. The problem is that my crock pot is very narrow and deep and would not work at all for making cookie bars. So I modified the cooking technique a little bit in order to do this in the oven. And then, because I could, I also modified the recipe by playing around with the proportions and taking out some of the sugar.

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I got very excited because I had to buy Teddy Grahams for this recipe. I haven’t had those little cookies since I was a kid. I couldn’t find the actual brand name ones for this but I found the generic equivalent and I think it was probably passable in any case.

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Start by preheating your oven to 350°F and then butter a 9″ x 13″ baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

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In a small bowl, whisk together 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

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In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together 1 cup butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar,  and 1/2 cup granulated sugar until it’s super fluffy.

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Then, add in 3 large eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla and beat that up as well. Start adding in your flour mixture, too, a little at a time.

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I ended up adding about 2 tablespoons cream, just to make the whole thing a bit more cakey.

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Smear your dough into the baking dish and smooth it out.

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Now sprinkle about 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips over the surface.

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Add to that about 1 1/2 cups honey Teddy Grahams.

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Then about 30 marshmallows.

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Tent some aluminum foil over top so it covers the container but doesn’t touch the marshmallows. This will keep them from burning.

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Bake the whole thing for about 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out almost clean.

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Remove the foil and set the dish on a wire rack to cool completely.

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I think I might add more marshmallows next time, considering how much they disappeared.

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This Teddy Graham survived. Mostly.

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Slice the whole thing up into pieces and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

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Raspberry White Chocolate Cookies

 

Sorry for the late post, folks! I made a typo in the schedule before I left for Toronto and set this to air on Tuesday instead of Monday.  My bad!Raspberry White Chocolate Cookies 11

My first bake in the new house!  It’s still chaos, but we keep working and having evening engagements, and then we spent our first weekend of true occupancy in the house going to Toronto, so it’s a slow process.  Next weekend the Pie is back in Toronto and I’m helping the lovely Cait with her move, so who knows when we’ll have everything sorted?

But in preparation for Toronto, I wanted to clear the fridge of some lovely raspberries before they went bad.  I also hauled a package of white chocolate chips out of a box, so the idea was born.  I figured they’d make a handy host gift for my great-uncle in the Big Smoke, with whom we were staying.

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Preheat your oven to 325°F (I know, it’s a low temperature, but you don’t want the raspberries to burn) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Start with 1/2 cup room temperature butter, and cream that together with 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar until all pale and fluffy.

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Go ahead and crack in 2 large eggs, one at a time, and beat until they’re fully combined.  Add in 1 tablespoon vanilla extract while you’re at it as well.

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In a separate bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour (I used a mixture of 1 1/2 cups cake flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour  because I wanted to use up what I had and I figured the cake flour would make a puffier cookie) with 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.  

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Slowly add the flour to the butter and eggs and mix until smooth and fully combined.

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Gently stir in about 1 cup white chocolate chips and 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries (I say “about” because I totally didn’t measure this part).  The raspberries will smush up but you want to be careful that they don’t get totally annihilated.  This might be an easier job with frozen raspberries, but this is what I got so this is what I’m usin’.

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Scoop up heaping tablespoonsful of the dough and plop it onto your prepared baking sheets.

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Bake for 10-15 minutes (this depends on your oven, the size of your cookie, fresh/frozen/dried raspberries, or even if you’ve had that second cup of coffee this morning), rotating halfway through for even baking.

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Haul the cookies out when they are just set in the centre and leave them on the sheets for another 3-5 minutes, to let them cook completely.

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When they’ve calmed down a bit you can transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Then you can eat them all in their cakey, gooey, fruity goodness!

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Better Than the Box Brownies

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I know.  There are a plethora of brownie recipes on this website.  But until I find the perfect one, the search continues.  I found this one when both the Pie and I had meetings on the same day (which meant we had to change out of our pyjamas and actually go to work).  The Pie’s boss (and his family) had been complaining for a while that there had been no baked goods delivered, and my boss was doing the same.  So I whipped up a double batch of these in the hopes that they would shut up for a while be pleased.  These are more adult brownies, as they’re not as sweet as some recipes that use melted chocolate.

Start by preheating your oven to 325°F and line a 8″ x 8″ baking pan with parchment paper such that you end up with two handles out the sides.

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Find a heat-proof bowl and dump in 10 tablespoons butter (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons), 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder.

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Set the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water and let the butter melt until the whole thing is a gooey, grainy mess.

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Remove from the heat and allow it to cool so it’s just warm to the touch.  Add in, one at a time, 2 cold eggs (if the mixture was hot you’d cook the eggs and that would be bad).

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Add in as well 1 teaspoon vanilla and beat the whole thing for a little bit until it’s nice and smooth.

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Now you’ll want to stir in 1/2 cup all purpose flour.  Stir that in really well, until it’s totally combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

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Continue to beat the batter until it’s smooth and glossy again.  This is very thick batter for brownies, so don’t be shocked if it takes you a bit of effort.

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Now, if you want, you can tip in 2/3 cup nuts of your choice.  The recipe calls for chopped walnuts, but I find them too bitter so I used pecans.

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Pour the batter into your parchment-ed pan.

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You’ll have to put some effort into smoothing it into the corners.

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Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the centre is completely set, and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Some people making this recipe had to cook it for an additional ten minutes but mine was done after twenty (I’m using a convection oven).  Let it cool completely on a wire rack before lifting out and cutting into small pieces. I don’t have any pictures of the cut up brownies for you because I forgot and by the time I remembered they’d already been eaten.  Sorry!

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Ice Cream Bread

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I’m not really one to share those recipes that pop up on my Facebook feed.  I have more efficient (for me) ways of finding/storing them so I tend to ignore them most of the time.  This one, however, I decided that I had to try for scientific reasons.  With so many ice creams languishing in our freezer (it’s been too cold a winter to want to indulge), I figured this would be a good way to use some of them up.  And it’s kind of a neat idea.

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So this is what you do: Take 2 cups of your ice cream of choice, and plop those in a bowl.  I used a combo of cookies ‘n’ cream and cherry.  

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Let that melt (or put it in the microwave and melt it).

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Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease and flour a standard loaf pan.  I used parchment on mine.

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Now you need some self-rising flour.  If you don’t have any, you can make some: just mix 3/4 cup all-purpose flour with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon baking powder.  Add 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour (so double that wee DIY recipe for the self-rising) to your ice cream mixture and stir until just combined.

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Smooth the batter into your loaf pan and bake for about 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

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I’d thought it would rise up more, but oh well.

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Because it’s not a cake — it’s a bread — we found it was a lovely dessert bread spread with Nutella.  Give it a try!

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Pie’s Nerdy Birthday Cake

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Yesterday the Pie turned 31, which he wasn’t really looking forward to, because now for the rest of the year he can’t tell everyone who will listen that I’m older than he is (BY FOUR MEASLY MONTHS).  Honestly, the next time someone calls me a “cradle robber” I’m going to punch him or her in the ear.  With my ring hand.

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I was originally just going to make him a wee cake (because it’s just the two of us and we’re moving shortly) but then Fussellette, who will use any excuse to have a barbecue, made an occasion of the thing and so a bunch of us went downstairs and ate grilled food and drank beverages and had cake — so obviously I had to make a slightly bigger cake.

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Gren also likes Nerds.

The Pie loves all things vanilla, so I decided on a sour cream pound cake, a traditional dish I hadn’t tried before.  I’m used to the regular ol’ normal pound cake.  Now, this recipe will yield two loaf pans’ worth of pound cake, or one ~10″ Bundt or tube pan worth.  I’m going with the loaf pan, so I can freeze the other half of this cake for when we celebrate with my parents in a few weeks (also, I packed my Bundt pans).  As always when making cakes, it’s a good idea to butter your pans and line them with parchment paper (if possible) to ensure that you don’t get anything stuck.  With a Bundt or tube pan it’s good practice to butter the thing and then dust it with flour.  Also, for a nice fluffy cake, allow all your ingredients to come to room temperature before you make this sucker.

So.  Butter and paper and butter your pans and preheat your oven to 325°F.

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Sift together 1/4 teaspoon baking soda with 3 cups cake and pastry flour (which I didn’t have, so I substituted 2 tablespoons flour in each cup with 2 tablespoons corn starch).

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And actually I didn’t sift this, either, because I packed my sifter.  Anyway, set that aside for now.

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Using an electric mixer (or very powerful and fast-moving arms), beat 1 cup butter together with 2 cups granulated sugar until the mixture is pale and fluffy.

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Add 6 eggs, one at a time, to the butter/sugar mixture, beating until each one is combined, and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add in 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.

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Now, tip in half your flour mixture and stir that until combined.

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Then dump in 1 cup (full fat) sour cream and stir that in, too.

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And now the rest of your flour.  Combine that carefully.

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Try not to flick batter everywhere.  Evidently, I failed.

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Spoon this very thick batter into your pan and smooth the top.  You’re going to want to bake this for at least an hour, probably more if you’ve done it in one pan.  Go for 60 minutes at first, and then check it every 5 minutes after that until a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.

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When the cake is done, let it cool completely on a wire rack before tipping it out of the pan.  Tipping out a hot cake is a good way to get yourself a broken cake.

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So there’s your cake.  If you wish, you can leave it at that.  But this is a birthday cake! I took one of them and wrapped it up for freezing.

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So we’re going to make some icing.  Our standard cream cheese frosting is a perennial favourite, and it’s very simple.

Beat together 1 cup butter with 1 250g (8oz) package plain cream cheese (room temperature) until fully combined.

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Beat in as well 1 tablespoon vanilla (or any other flavouring you wish). Then carefully stir in at least 2 cups icing sugar (you will probably want a bit more to get the consistency you like).

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Then I sliced the cake in half horizontally.

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I filled the gap with a raspberry jam.

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Then I iced it, but only the sides at first.  Why?  Because I was going to do THIS.  But instead of sprinkles, because sprinkles are gross, I’m going to use Nerds.

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If you’ve never heard of Nerds, they’re basically small crystals of sugar coated with a sour neon candy crust.  They come in wee rectangular boxes and are a childhood favourite of pretty much everyone in my generation, because you used to be able to buy two boxes for fifty cents at the corner store.

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Fortunately for us, in the Super Size Me generation, you can now buy Nerds in giant boxes.  I wasn’t sure how many Nerds I would need for this, so I bought two boxes.  I can always rot my teeth on the other box if it isn’t needed.

So.  Spread your Nerds out in a flat rimmed dish (like a baking sheet or a dinner plate) with enough room to lay your whole cake.

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Pick your cake up and hold it by the bottom and the top (the unfrosted ends) and, working one side at a time, press the sides into the Nerds to make them stick to the frosting.

Set the cake back down and frost the top, being careful not to disturb the sides. Now I should have refrigerated my cake between frosting it and nerdifying it, so that’s why it’s all squishy and demented. Make sure you do that. Also, I discovered that my wee hands were no match for the size of this cake, so that may have added to the dementedness.

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Sprinkle the top with Nerds until it’s evenly coated.  Press them down a bit to make sure they stick.

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Chill the cake until serving. Even slightly demented, it was still mighty tasty!

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