Popcorn Cake

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It may not be pretty but it is delicious!  It was my birthday this past weekend and I made my request for Popcorn Cake.  Everyone asks me, “what kind of cake are you making for yourself?” NONE!  I would not have a cake if I had to make it for myself!  I love to bake and I would make anyone a cake, but I refuse to make my own birthday cake!  I often hear that people do not want to bake for me because I am bake.  So silly!  I don’t expect a big and wildly fancy cake, anything that anyone makes for me is wonderful!

I posted last years Birthday Popcorn Cake, but this year I was there for the making!  It was ridiculously humid on my birthday so Mom held off making the cake for as long as she could before family arrived.  If you are not from a humid climate let me tell you, popcorn and humidity do not mix well.  The moisture makes the popcorn very chewy, almost like gum.

Mom was not overly impressed that I wanted to take pictures but oh well, it’s my Birthday! haha

Mom’s Version of Popcorn Cake

*nothing is measured – hence why Mom does not bake!

Marshmallows
Butter
Popcorn
Mini Eggs

Directions

1. Put this much butter in a large pot and melt on low

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2. Pour this much marshmallows on top of the melted butter.  Melt on low, stirring occasionally

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3.  When marshmallows are almost melted, start popping popcorn. Mom popped 3 bags

Pour the popcorn in a medium bowl and pick though, making sure no kernels make it though to the big bowl

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4. Pour marshmallows over top

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5. Add Mini Eggs and stir

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6. Ditch the spoon and get your hands in there!  haha, Mom was struggling with the spoon, she buttered up her hands and started ‘mixing by hand’.  Though this is not suggested as the marshmallows are HOT!

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7. Press into a well greased bundt pan

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8. Wrap in and let set

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9. Enjoy the ‘extra’ that didn’t fit in the pan

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This is the best part! Just like when you are making Rice Krispy Squares, the warm marshmallows make it so gooey and delicious!  When it is warm it just seems so much sweeter! I like to sit down with the bowl and a fork…

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10. When the cake has set, turn it onto a cake tray.  It will probably stick, you will need to ease it out with something that will not scratch your bundt pan

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Slice with a serrated knife and enjoy!

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This was delicious! Mom did an awesome job, once again!  Thank you so much!

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Chocolate Marshmallow Squares

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There are 2 things my Dad asks for, lemon cake with lemon filling for his birthday and Chocolate Marshmallow Squares for Christmas.  This is a recipe that my Nana always made at Christmas time.  It was one of many! She would make several big desserts as well as squares, perhaps this is where I inherited my sweet tooth.  This is a very simple recipes that requires no baking, but to be honest, not many people outside my family like it.  It kind of reminds me of a s’more, I am fairly certain I could eat the entire tray!

Nana’s Chocolate Marshmallow Squares

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24 large marshmallows or equivalent in small
2 oz of semi sweet baking chocolate
1 tsp butter
2 1/2 cups Graham Crumbs
1 can Eagle Brand Milk

Directions:

1. In a double boiler melt chocolate with butter

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2. While chocolate is melting prepare an 8×8 pan.  Coat with butter or Pam and sprinkle with extra graham crumbs.  You must do this or it will stick like glue to the pan!

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3. Prepare marshmallows.  I have never used the large marshmallows, I just can’t see cutting them up, it just wouldn’t look right.  I generally take 24 small handfuls (6-8)

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4. When chocolate has melted add Eagle Brand milk and stir

Don’t skimp, get the good stuff!

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5.  Pour chocolate mixture over marshmallows and add Graham crumbs

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6. Stir! as it starts to set quickly

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7.  Pour into prepared pan, cover and refrigerate over night

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8. The next day it is firm and ready to cut

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I love these!!  They are hard to describe.  They are kind of dry compared to most sweets and squares, but deliciously sweet! I think it might be the texture that turns people away, because the taste is amazing!

Our family loves them and I will continue making them each Christmas, give them a try, you might love them!

Cheesecake in a Jar!

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Have you ever seen anything like this? Cheesecake in a Jar?!?

A very generous co-worker gave everyone in our class homemade cheesecake in a jar.  As a baker and cheesecake lover I was very intrigued and amazed at the same time.  Such a great way to share a delicious treat.  It looked great and I could hardly wait to get home to try it.

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When I opened the lid there was an amazing aroma caramel sauce, which had to be homemade

Now, to figure out the best way to eat it!!

Big spoon, and dig all the way to the bottom!

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It’s a long way down to the graham crust….

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Look at that! Pure deliciousness….

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The caramel flows down to fill the hole

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All the way down to the last bite

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As clean as I could get it with the spoon….finished the whole thing!

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Well….that was truly delicious!  I have never, ever seen cheesecake in a jar, but it was such an amazing idea!  The possibilities are endless, and I like that you don’t have to commit to one flavour, you can make a few different ones.  The best part is you can share but everyone gets their own. Genius!

I will admit to eating the entire jar at 9:30 at night, perhaps not the healthiest bedtime snack, but oh man, it was with it!

Thank you Shawn for such a wonderful treat and a fantastic idea that I intend to try!  Now if only I could get my hands on a good caramel cheesecake recipe 😉

Snow Balls

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Snowballs!!!  They are so simple and yet so delicious!  I can remember making these with my Mom when I was little.   They are far from pretty but oh so yummy!  This is another one of those recipes that was only ever made around Christmas time.  I still really don’t understood why certain treats are only made at Christmas.  Can we not enjoy shortbread, macaroons, snowballs or marshmallow squares at Easter? or mid fall? It seems not!

This simple recipe only has 3 ingredients, that’s it!

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Snow Balls

Ingredients

large marshmallows
Mackintosh Toffee
Rice Krispies Cereal

Directions:

1. Find Mackintosh Toffee! – this can be a bit of a chore, they no longer make the big bars but you can still buy bags of the candy size pieces (it does not work with caramels)

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2. Unwrap all the toffee and melt over a double boiler

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3. While you are waiting for the Toffee to melt put toothpicks in the end of each marshmallow and pour Rice Krispies into a large bowl (if you accidentally buy the Jumbo Marshmallows, like we did this time, I would suggest cutting them in half before sticking with toothpicks.  We found these ones to be a little large. The half sized ones were excellent, I don’t have photos of them)

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4. When Toffee is melted dip marshmallow

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Scrape off the exceess

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5.  Place in bowl of Rice Krispies and coat completely, pressing to make sure they stick!  It is important to work quickly, you must get the Rice Krispies to stick before the toffee sets

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6. Place on a cookie sheet and remove toothpick.  Allow to harden.  You can put them in the fridge or freezer to set faster

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Delicious!  Normally I am not a huge fan of marshmallows, I like them in things, but I can’t just eat them on their own.  There is something about the combination of the toffee and the Rice Krispies that make the marshmallow taste totally different. You would think that these would be really sweet, but they are not!  The 3 different textures work so well together.

The great thing about these is, you can make them well in advance and freeze them! It is surprising how well they freeze, just put them in a zip top baggie and take out as needed.

Word of warning, they are quite addicting!  Enjoy!

Macaroons

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Until a few years ago these little delights were the only thing I knew as a macaroon.  They are not pretty, but they are delicious!  I have since learned that Macarons are meringue based, filled cookies, which I attempted (and failed) for a Daring Bakers Challenge back in October 2009.  I have since had this type of macaron, that were properly made by a bakery and I was not a fan.  I much prefer my kind.

As I have mentioned many, many times my Mom is not a baker, but at Christmas she did try.  These macaroons were another Christmas staple at our house.  They are simple, require no baking and are delicious!  Last Christmas I went looking for the ‘go to’ macaroon recipe “Meg’s Macaroons” a recipe my Mom got from her cousin years ago, and it wasn’t there!  I started to panic a little (ok a lot).  The recipe was hand written, in pencil, on lined paper with many splashes of chocolate and coconut dust. I could picture it exactly, but could not find it.  I flipped though my baking book 4 times, and even had my Mom look, because Mom’s can find anything!  It’s GONE!   I think when I did over my recipe folder into my baking book it my have accidentally been thrown out 😦  After a minor meltdown I headed to the internet to find the recipe.  I found thousands of recipes for macaroons, most of them were called Haystacks, Cow Plops or No Bake Brownies, they looked similar to ours but none were right.  I tried several and they were not even close.   After much begging and complaining Mom finally contacted her cousin and asked if she still had the recipe.  She said she did not, but knew where she could get it.  I was thrilled!  Weeks passed by, as did Christmas, but we finally got a copy of “Meg’s Macaroons”.  Meg turned out to be a friend of a friend of a cousin.  After all that work (none of which I was involved in) this recipe is staying a secret, just pictures for this one, sorry 😉

Meg’s Macroons in Pictures

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There just never seems to be enough room on the pan for ALL of the warm mixture, such a shame!  This is my favourite part, I like to eat the ‘extras’, warm, right out of the bowl with a spoon, YUM!

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They were perfect!  Just as I remembered and everyone loved them.  I took a huge container to work and they were gone very quickly.  I am so thankful I was able to get this recipe back, I will be much more careful with this one.  Thank you Mom and everyone who helped track it down.

My Birthday Cake

I will start by saying, I LOVE MY BIRTHDAY!  I am like a 5-year-old when it comes to my birthday, I just love it.  What’s not to love, 1. I get cake, 2. I get to spend time with family and 3. I get to pick my favourite dinner, it’s a great day 🙂

As a baker I do a lot of cakes and I love doing them, but I refuse to do my own!  I couldn’t careless what kind it was, what it looked like, just as long as someone took the time to make me one, it means so much.  This year I decided on something a little different.  A while ago I saw a recipe on Pinterest for Popcorn Cake.  I’m sure your face just shriveled up and you thought ‘ewww… that’s gross’ as most people did when I told them that I was having Popcorn Cake for my 33rd Birthday.

Before you decide that you don’t like it just because of the name….give me a minute!  This is not an ordinary cake, this is something quite different.  Replace the ‘cake’ with popcorn and candy and the ‘icing’ with melted marshmallows and you come up with this delicious concoction….

Popcorn Cake

Adapted from  Cookies & Cups

2 bags of microwave popcorn, cooked to directions
Marshmallows***
Mini Eggs***
Pretzels***
Butter***

*** Mom does not measure, she adds until it ‘looks right’

1. Pop popcorn and allow to cool

2. Combine marshmallows and butter, melt in microwave or on stove

3. While marshmallows are melting prepare your bunt pan by liberally spraying it with cooking spray

4. Combine cool popcorn with mini eggs and pretzels

5. Pour melted marshmallows over popcorn mixture and stir

6. Pour into prepared bunt pan, cover with foil and allow to cool

This is when I arrive…all excited to see my ‘cake’.  It is still in the bunt pan….Fingers are crossed hoping the thing will come out in once piece!

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Ta-da!!!

Look at that!!!

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I will mention that Mom decided to make her famous Rice Crispy Squares with the left over marshmallows, ‘just in-case’

Company arrived and time to slice into it

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Getting a little nervous as it is looking like a horrid rice cake….

but I am optimistic!!

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Looks can be deciving…it was delicious!

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I loved this Popcorn cake!  It was different than anything I had ever had.  There were so many different textures, from the light popcorn to the hard mini eggs,  every bite was a whole new adventure.  The flavour was amazing…each bite was different.  It was perfectly balanced, not too sweet, not too salty.  When you bit down on a chunk of salt from the pretzels it brought your mouth to life and just seemed to accent all the flavours.  This was a very light dessert that doesn’t weigh you down and you wont feel guilty for eating it, which is good because it is addicting! The flavour possibilities are endless as you could add anything you like to the mixture.  I would recommend this and will be definitely be making it again! We were surprised that even the next day it was good, it didn’t go all soggy as we expected.

Though Mom’s Rice Crispy Squares are delicious, ‘the back up plan’ was not needed!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzels

I saw this recipe a few months ago, they looked delicious! I mean what’s not to love, salty pretzels (love them), peanut butter (love it), chocolate (love it) all three together? It has to be delicious! I would love to meet the person who thought it would be a good idea to put chocolate and peanut butter together, Genius!  I got this recipe from Stephanies Kitchen.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzels

1 cup of peanut butter

2 Tbsp softened butter

1/2 cup icing sugar (you may need more)

3/4 cup brown sugar

Pretzels (the waffle shaped ones)

1 bag good quality chocolate

1.  In a medium bowl, combine peanut butter and butter, mix until smooth.

2. Add icing sugar and brown sugar, stir to combine.  This is where you may need to add more sugar.  You want to be able to roll the mixture in your hands without it being sticky.  Try it, if it is too sticky add more icing sugar until it reaches the right consistency.

3. Use a teaspoon to measure out equal amounts

4. On a cookie sheet, lay out a single layer of waffle pretzels

5. Place peanut butter balls between 2 pretzels and press together, place in the fridge

6.  Melt your chocolate in microwave or in a double boiler, which ever you prefer

7.  Dip cooled pretzels in chocolate and place on a parchment lined sheet.  Allow chocolate to set.  Enjoy!

These were pretty good.  Not quite as good as I expected.  Next time (and there will be a nice time) I will use the filling I put in my Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Squares.  I found that the brown sugar made them kind of gritty, it really didn’t dissolve.  I may also use mini regular shaped pretzels, not quite as much ‘pretzel’ in them, as it was a little overpowering.
It was a good first try.