Easy Chocolate Fudge Cake

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I made this (from Recipe Tin Eats) for Nana Nice’s birthday a couple weeks ago. Unfortunately I had the plague and couldn’t partake but I can assure you that it’s equally good the next day …

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Start by preheating your oven to 350°F and butter a 9″ springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter that too. You can never have enough butter.

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In a smallish pot on the stove, combine 8.5 ounces dark chocolate with 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 sticks unsalted butter, and 1/2 cup milk. Stir on medium low until the butter and chocolate have melted. Don’t let it come to a simmer.

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Tip in into a bowl and whisk in 1/4 cup vegetable oil and 3/4 cup milk.

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Then mix in 2 eggs – WAIT, I ONLY HAVE ONE EGG!

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Not to worry. You can substitute an egg with 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 2 tablespoons milk, cream, butter, or yogurt.

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Whisk in those “eggs.”

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In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 3/4 cups plain flour, and 2 tablespoons instant coffee.

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Sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and whisk until smooth.

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Pour the mixture into the cake pan and bake for 70 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out mostly clean (a little residue means your cake will be extra fudgey!).

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Remove the sides of the pan and let it cool completely on a rack.

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You can frost this with whatever you want but a nice ganache is never a bad thing. Heat 1 cup whipping cream on the stove until it’s about to start simmering, then pour it over 8 ounces dark chocolate of your choosing.

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Stir until smooth and all the chocolate has melted, and then leave it to cool until it spreads like peanut butter.

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Frost your cake, and have fun with whatever swirls and squiggles you’d like!

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I went a step further and added some dragees

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… and some sprinkles

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It was a birthday cake after all!

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Half-Baked Turtle Brownie Cheesecake

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While I was waiting for the kid to show up I was getting pretty bored and pretty desperate, but I didn’t have a lot of energy. One of my former colleagues recommended cheesecake as a way to start labour and I figured, why not? I had nothing to do, and an easy cheesecake recipe would be doable given my lack of energy. This one from Sprinkle Some Sugar seemed to fit the bill. It involves using store-bought brownie mix, fudge sauce, AND COOL WHIP, so it’s the ultimate in cheater recipes for me. And given that the day I baked it the temperatures skyrocketed again for a roller coaster June, I was happy to be able to chuck this in the fridge instead of hanging over a hot oven.

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The belly bump may have accidentally encountered some caramel during the making of this recipe.

The original recipe is a bit of a misnomer, as it states that there is no baking involved whatsoever with this recipe. That is a bold-faced lie – you gotta bake the brownie bottom. But it’s worth it.

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Find a round springform pan, about 8″ or 9″ (this one is 9″ I think), spray it with cooking spray, and whip up some brownie batter. You can use your favourite recipe but I used this boxed stuff (hey man, I was really pregnant at the time, gimme a break).

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I figured the salted caramel would add more panache to the finished product.

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Plus I love the ridiculous measurements of the wet ingredients. So simplistic!

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While this is baking, work on your caramel sauce (you can buy caramel sauce, of course, but this one is easy and a good way for caramel newbs to get started).

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In a small pot over medium-high heat, whisk together 1 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup water. Whisk and swirl the pot until the sugar is all dissolved, then keep swirling the pot (but no stirring or whisking!) frequently until the liquid turns a nice dark amber colour.

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When you get the colour you like, carefully pour in 3/4 cup heavy cream – watch out, because it will fizz up like crazy – and whisk that until smooth. Then tip in 3 tablespoons butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla and stir until those are all melted away. Set the finished caramel sauce aside to thicken up and cool completely.

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Once the brownie bottom is ready and baked according to whatever instructions you have, remove the outer ring and let it cool completely as well and start working on your filling.

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In the bowl of a mixer, beat together 16oz softened plain cream cheese, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and 1/2 cup brown sugar until smooth and creamy. I mean, it’s gonna be creamy anyway because it’s cream cheese but you get what I mean about the texture, right? Man I need more sleep …

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Stir in about 3/4 cup of that lovely caramel sauce you made (or squeeze it from the bottle you purchased you philistine) and add in as well 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg.

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Then I want you to do something totally foreign to me: grab 4oz Cool Whip and fold that in as well.

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Put the outer ring of your springform pan back on and smush all that Cool-Whipped creaminess into the pan.

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Give it some smoothing out so it *kind* of looks like you baked it, then chuck that in the fridge for 3-4 hours.

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Before serving, crush a bunch of pecans and spread them over top.

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Grab some fudge sauce (I bought it, don’t judge) and whatever’s left of your caramel.

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Pop off the outer ring and drizzle liberally with fudge and caramel. The fudge I bought didn’t drizzle, so I have fudge poops drizzled with caramel but you get the general intention here, at least. Keep the leftover cheesecake wrapped up in the fridge for up to a week. Enjoy!

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Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake

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If you’re Canadian, you’ve probably had a Nanaimo Bar once or twice in your life. If you’re not Canadian, you probably SHOULD have a Nanaimo Bar once or twice in your life.

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My sister-in-law Mags sent me this recipe as a not-so-subtle hint about what kind of birthday cake she’d like this year (her birthday was February 15th). We usually celebrate her birthday jointly with her dad’s, Papa John, whose birthday is on February 19th. But with a bunch of travel on all sides, we ended up postponing their birthday celebrations until this past weekend, which was MY birthday. So this is a joint cake for the three of us. And it’s amazing.

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Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grab a food processor and chuck in 5 tablespoons cocoa powder, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 1/2 cups graham crumbs, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, and 3/4 cup dried coconut.

Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake 1

Give it a good whazzing, then drizzle in 4 tablespoons melted butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla and whaz it again, until you get some crumbly mixture.

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Take your crumb mixture and dump it into a 10″ springform pan. Press the crumbs into the bottom and a little up the sides, making sure to press extra hard in the corners (I didn’t and it was a little too thick there, so that’s why I am warning you).

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Shove that into your oven and bake it for 5 minutes. When you pull it out, leave the oven on and shove in a large (9″ x 13″) pan of warm water and put it on the rack below where you will be cooking your cheesecake.

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Now, in the bowl of a stand mixer, chuck 4 250g packages plain cream cheese (remember that room temperature cream cheese makes smoother cheesecake). Beat that up until it’s smooth and lovely.

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Then, one at a time, crack in 4 large eggs, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating the whole time.

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Now you can chuck in 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 1/3 cup sour cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 3 tablespoons vanilla custard powder.

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I used Bird’s custard powder here, because that is all that is traditional and right in the world. Beat that up until smooth.

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Pour the mix into your baked crust above your pan of water and bake for 1 hour.

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When it’s done, turn the oven off and crack the door just a little bit and wedge it with a spoon. Leave that for 1-2 hours until the cheesecake is room temperature.

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Don’t fret about that crack. It’s not a big deal. Transfer the cake to a nice plate with care. Chill the cake for a little while.

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To make the lovely ganache that goes on top, toss 1 cup cream and 1 cup chocolate in the bowl of a double boiler and heat until the chocolate melts.

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Whisk until smooth, then let it cool to room temperature.

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Now gently pour it on top of your cooled cake. I had a lot of ganache so I carefully guided it down the sides as well.

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Chill your cake until the ganache is set.

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Serve to all your birthday guests!

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Cake Redux: Gluten-Free LEMON COCONUT Snacking Cake

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Okay let’s try this again.  If you were visiting last week you’ll know I made a neat little gluten-free cake I found in Canadian Living but I wasn’t totally happy with how it came out.  So today I totally changed the two main ingredients (and two less main ingredients, and the cooking time) and we’re doing this for a second time.  If you notice that the text reads pretty much identically to what I wrote last week, well, it’s because it IS what I wrote last week.  I mostly copy-pasted that stuff, but I bolded all the differences.  Deal with it.

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Preheat your oven to 325°F and grease (with butter) a 9″ springform pan.  Line the bottom with parchment paper.  While you’re at it, separate 6 eggs and put the whites in a mixing bowl.

Lemon Gluten-Free Cake 1

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together 6 egg yolks1 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons COCONUT EXTRACT2 teaspoons grated LEMON zest, and a pinch of NUTMEG.

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You are going to want to beat this stuff until it turns the colour of butter and when you lift the (stopped) beater away, you get a lovely long yellow ribbon coming out of the end, about 5 minutes.

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You need 2 cups COCONUT FLOUR for this, and 2 tablespoons LEMON juice, so you might want to get these ready ahead of time.  I just juiced the lemon I took the zest from. Fold the coconut flour and lemon juice into the yolk mixture.

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I totally forgot that coconut flour tends to suck up moisture.  If you do this, maybe just add 1 1/2 cups coconut flour.

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So I added in an additional 1/2 cup of MILK.

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Now take those 6 egg whites you set aside and start beating them until stiff peaks form.

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Take a scoop of the whites and stir it into the flour/yolk mix.  This will sort of thin out the mixture in order that it doesn’t crush the rest of your whites in the next step.

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Once that first scoop is combined, gently fold in the remainder of your egg whites into the flour/yolk mixture until fully combined.  Make sure to scrape up from the very bottom to make sure you got it all. Plop the batter into your prepared pan (or press it in this case) and bake it until the edges pull away from the sides of the pan and the centre is golden and firm to the touch, about 40 minutes.

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This cake did not fluff up like the previous one.  Let it cool on a rack before popping it out of the springform pan.

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Dust the cake with icing sugar right before you serve it (or the icing sugar will be absorbed into the moisture of the cake).  A nice lemon glaze (try the juice of one lemon heated to boiling with 4 tablespoons sugar) would also work I think.

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Gluten-Free Orange Almond Snacking Cake

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I came across this recipe in the May 2014 issue of Canadian Living.  I haven’t really felt like doing too much cooking in recent days, but this one looked easy and post-able enough that I figured I’d give it a shot.  This is one of those cakes that is “naturally” gluten-free, meaning that you’re not looking for a flour substitute.  It’s more that the recipe doesn’t require anything flour like in the first place to keep its structure.  It’s also dairy-free too (just don’t use butter to grease the pan), if that’s something you’re interested in.

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Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease (with butter) a 9″ springform pan.  Line the bottom with parchment paper.  While you’re at it, separate 6 eggs and put the whites in a mixing bowl.

GF Orange Almond Snacking Cake 1

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together 6 egg yolks, 1 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract2 teaspoons grated orange zest, and a pinch of cinnamon.

GF Orange Almond Snacking Cake 2

You are going to want to beat this stuff until it turns the colour of butter and when you lift the (stopped) beater away, you get a lovely long yellow ribbon coming out of the end, about 5 minutes.

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You need 2 cups ground almonds for this, and 2 tablespoons orange juice, so you might want to get these ready ahead of time.  I used the store-bought almond meal because I’m lazy, and just juiced the orange I took the zest from.

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Fold the almonds and orange juice into the yolk mixture.

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Now take those 6 egg whites you set aside and start beating them until stiff peaks form.

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Take a scoop of the whites and stir it into the almond/yolk mix.  This will sort of thin out the mixture in order that it doesn’t crush the rest of your whites in the next step.

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Once that first scoop is combined, gently fold in the remainder of your egg whites into the almond/yolk mixture until fully combined.  Make sure to scrape up from the very bottom to make sure you got it all.

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Plop the batter into your prepared pan and bake it until the edges pull away from the sides of the pan and the centre is golden and firm to the touch, about 35 minutes.

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If you need to, run a knife around the edge of the pan and leave the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack.  Mine came right out, but I’m not always this lucky.

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Don’t worry — it will sink in the middle.  They always do.

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Dust the cake with icing sugar right before you serve it (or the icing sugar will be absorbed into the moisture of the cake).

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This cake was pretty good.  I think I’d like to make it again, but this time I would do it with lemon zest, lemon juice, and then coconut flour instead of almond flour for a more tropical cake.  I think I would also bake it differently.  This one you can see was still a little runny in the centre, but the outside was starting to burn.  I think I would bake it for longer, but at a lower temperature, like 325°F. Thoughts?

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Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese

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Ando made this for Thidz’ birthday last week and it went down so well that he suggested I put it on the blog.  So here it is, adapted to his standards.  While the whole thing takes a little while to prepare, it’s all easy stuff that you can do in stages.  I ended up having most of it ready in the morning and then just chucked it together at the end and baked it.  But we’ll work from the bottom up on this layered casserole.  Also, the recipe says it serves 8, but really it serves 4 because you are going to want seconds.

BOTTOM:

Preheat your oven to 425°F and spray a 9″ springform pan with cooking spray.  My pan was a little wider, but that’s fine.

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In a teeny bowl, mix together 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, and some salt and ground black pepper to taste.

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Peel 2 medium sweet potatoes.  I only had large ones, so I opted to just do one, but I could have used both and it would have been fine.

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Use a mandoline to shave off super thin slices.

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Chuck those pieces in a bowl, drizzle with a few tablespoons vegetable oil, and add in your spice mix.  Toss with your hands until the oil and spices evenly coat all the potato pieces.

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Layer the sweet potato slices evenly in the bottom of the pan.

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Bake for 15-20 minutes until they are softened and starting to brown.  Ando wanted to bake them longer to make them more crisp, so I tried that, but I found that once you piled the rest of the ingredients on top they went soft again anyway, so don’t worry too much about that.  The Pie hoped for a thicker layer of sweet potatoes (because I only used the one potato and my pan was wider), so next time I would go for two.

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MIDDLE:

Grab yourself some pork tenderloin.  I had a boneless pork loin rib here that was on stupid sale so I used that.

Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese 2

You’ll need 2lbs pork, cut into 2″ chunks.  If I did this again, I would cut the chunks larger, just so your pulled pork strings end up being decently long.

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Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and add in the meat.  It goes gray almost immediately, which is kind of gross.  Reduce to a simmer and leave that on the go for about an hour.

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Drain the pork and use 2 forks to shred it into little pieces.

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Then you’re going to need some barbecue sauce.  Ando expressed concern that the sauce tended to overpower the more delicate flavours of the macaroni and cheese on top, so we picked out a milder apple butter sauce and it worked out fantastically.  The sweetness of the apple really worked well with the pork.

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So you pour 14oz barbecue sauce all over your pork and mix it in.

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Then you add in 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar and stir that in as well, then set the whole thing aside.

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TOP:

Bring another saucepan of water to a boil and add a pinch or two of salt.  When it’s boiling, add in 8oz elbow pasta (MACARONI) and cook according to your package instructions.  When it’s ready, drain the water, saving about 1/4 cup of it.  Add the water back to the pasta in the pot.

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Add to the pasta 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (I think the sharper the better), 1/2 cup grated Gruyere (we used Jarlsberg), and 1/4 cup creme fraiche (which is next to impossible to find in Newfoundland, so we used sour cream instead).  Because Ando suggested boosting the flavour of the mac, I added a few crumbles of blue cheese (Rochefort) as well.

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Stir that up until it’s all melted, then add a few drops of hot sauce (we used Tabasco) to taste.

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Season it with salt and pepper and set it aside.

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CRUST:

Melt 1/4 cup butter and stir it up with 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and 1 cup panko breadcrumbs.

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ASSEMBLY:

Smooth the pulled pork over the sweet potatoes.

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Dollop the macaroni on top of that and flatten it down a bit.

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Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture on top of that to completely cover the macaroni.

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Bake for 15 minutes, until the casserole is hot through and the bread crumbs are browned.

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DISASSEMBLY:

Ideally you should be able to pop open the springform pan and cut this puppy like a cake.  My pork ended up being supremely saucy and thus too slithery to be architecturally sound in terms of casserole structure.  Meaning I tried to pop off the frame and then the whole thing went sideways — literally and figuratively.  So we just scooped it out with spoons, hence the lack of presentation.  Didn’t matter.  Ate it anyway.  And it was awesome.  Thanks Ando!

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The Pie’s I’m-Turning-Old Ice Cream Birthday Cake, with Fudge Sauce

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

I will let you in on the worst-kept secret in our family: Saturday was the Pie’s thirtieth birthday.  He’s finally as old as me and will (hopefully) shut up about my aging process.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake
The Pie’s birth flower is the delphinium. That peony just happened to be there.

Now, for me, being born the week before March Break, as a child I often celebrated more than one birthday.  There was my actual birthday, then there was one when my grandparents came to visit the following week, and then maybe one with my friends from school.  Through no fault of my own, this happened consistently through to my adulthood, just little low-key celebrations dotting a week of aging, with maybe a cake at the end of it.  For the Pie it’s a bit different. Because he was born in the summer, all of his friends were out of school and so he generally had one big bash to celebrate his big day.  Needless to say, since we became broke and moved to Newfoundland, his expectations have taken a hit.  Fortunately, Papa John and Mrs. Nice are in town, so we can make it a bit of a party.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake
One of his “big boy” gifts: a sweatshirt designed to look like Optimus Prime. If you zip the hood all the way up it forms Prime’s large blue head, with mesh eyeholes. It wouldn’t zip over the Pie’s rather prominent nose.

As a rule (because we’re broke), we don’t exchange gifts, but on our birthdays, the other makes the celebrant a cake.  Last year, I made the Pie that disastrous leaning tower of chocolate.  This year I thought I would try for something a little more refreshing, given that it is summer, after all: ice cream cake!  Having watched several of the bloggers I read try and fail at this feat last summer (Caroline, I’m thinking of you!), I think I know what NOT to do, so here goes …

Start with a springform pan.  The fact that you can dismantle it means that getting the cake out when you’re done won’t be that hard.

Now you need some ice cream flavours.  One of our favourite restaurants in St. John’s, Get Stuffed, used to have this boozy ice cream cake, where the three layers of ice cream were flavoured with various liqueurs.  It.  Was.  Fabulous.  So I’m going to try to recreate that, but with a little less booze.  Just a little less.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

I’m using ice creams I made from scratch, but you can use store-bought ice cream that has been softened.  The first layer, at the top of the cake, is raspberry (you can see the recipe here, though this time I used cognac instead of vinegar!).  Simply spoon 2 or 3 cups of softened ice cream into the bottom of the pan and smooth it out.  In retrospect, I should have frozen the empty pan before plopping the ice cream in it, because just-churned ice cream on a hot day has a habit of melting, and this seeped through the edges of the pan a bit before it re-froze.  No big deal, just something to remember for next time.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

You might also want to scrape down the sides a bit, just so residual ice cream doesn’t interfere with the look of the following layer.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

This cake took a couple of days to make, because each ice cream mixture needs to sit in the fridge overnight before you churn and freeze it, but that gave each layer ample time to get nice and solid before I added the next one.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

The middle layer is vanilla, and the Pie loves his vanilla ice cream, so I used the best recipe possible.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

Because the pan was frozen and the ice cream underneath was frozen, it was an easy job to smooth on this layer.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

Then a chocolate layer.  Neither the Pie nor I are particularly fond of chocolate ice cream, but I have never seen an ice cream cake, especially one with a fudge layer, without it, so it had to go in.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

You will be able to see the recipe here on Wednesday.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

So, with that all frozen, I could work on my chocolate fudge layer, which, in my opinion, was always the best part of the store-bought ice cream cake.  Fudge sauce recipes abound on the internet, but I was looking for something with a bit of substance, something that would take well to freezing, and this one from The Foodess seemed perfect.  She even said it went well in ice cream cakes.

Making it was super easy, too, which I like.  I did it on the stove, but The Foodess recommends working with the microwave, so that should tell you how easy it is.

In a small saucepan with a thick bottom, pour 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup powdered cocoa, and 1/2 cup heavy cream or milk (I used homogenized milk here).

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

Heat, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves, and bring the mixture to a boil, all of which should take about 3 minutes.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

Add in 4 tablespoons butter and cook for another few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens.  You might want to turn the heat down a little bit, so that the sauce doesn’t burn.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

Remove the sauce from the heat, add in 1 teaspoon vanilla and a pinch of salt and you’re all done.  Wasn’t that easy?

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

Let that cool before smoothing it onto your final ice cream layer. Mine was in the fridge overnight and so I just stuck it in the microwave for a minute to soften it up a bit.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

It slathered onto the frozen chocolate layer quite nicely.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

Then you want a crumb crust.  You can use Oreo crumbs, but I also had some leftover pieces from some particularly crumbly gluten-free brownies that were in the freezer, so I pulsed them in the food processor and used them instead, which meant that everything in the cake was made from scratch (you gotta put in the extra effort sometimes).

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

 

 

As an aside, I also broke my mini food processor doing this — not because of the density of the brownies, but through my own mishandling of the situation.  Alas.Hakan Ice Cream Cake

Smooth the crumbs over the fudge layer.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

Right to the edge. Yes, I licked the fudge off my finger later.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

Press that stuff down and re-freeze for a couple of hours.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

To serve, run a bit of hot water around the edges of the springform pan and release the cake, flipping it upside down onto a plate (make sure it’s a plate with a lip, otherwise the cake will dribble everywhere as it melts).

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

I used an icing scraper to texturize the sides and scrape away dribbles from other flavours that ruined the effect.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

Then I used a fondant smoother to get rid of the weird melty marks on the top.

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

You can decorate it any way you want, but the Pie is a huge Street Fighter fan and he plays the character of Hakan, a Turkish oil wrestler.  So I bought some teal and white icing from Sobeys and put a stylized version of his face on the cake, as his skin is almost the same colour as the raspberry ice cream (okay so now not everything is made from scratch. Sue me).

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

Hakan Ice Cream Cake

Cover the cake with plastic wrap or seal in a container and store in the freezer when you’re not eating it.