Homemade Clodhoppers

I decided to make clodhoppers as a surprise for someone I knew was a big fan of them.  Don’t know what clodhoppers are?   It’s bites of graham crackers and nuts that have been enrobed in chocolate.

 My version of clodhoppers were made with milk chocolate, toffee bits and roasted pecans.

In a double boiler, I melted two bags of hershey milk chocolate chips, stirring occasionally.   While I waited for the chocolate to melt, I roasted 1/4 cup of  pecan bits for a few minutes and broke up about 12 graham crackers into pieces.  Pieces big enough to ensure a good crunch.

Once the chocolate was melted I dumped the graham cracker pieces, pecan bits and about 1/4 cup toffee bits into the chocolate and mixed it all together until everything was coated.

The mixture is then poured onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.  Spread the mixture to cover the cookie sheet.  Place the cookie sheet into the freezer for about 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, check to see the chocolate is fully solid.  Begin to break up the mixture into easy to eat pieces.  There is no perfect shape and it looks very rustic.

The result is what seems like a bottomless container of homemade clodhoppers that was very well received and devoured.  =)

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Birthday Cake Bonanza – May 2015 Edition

May office birthday cake was a simple, modest cake.   Nothing too fancy here but it still evoked a sense of fun.

Vanilla layer cake with fudgey chocolate buttercream icing.  Mini M&Ms sprinkled all over on the right side.  Left side sprinkled with chocolate confetti candy.

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Happy Birthday May Babies! =)

Small Batch Baking – Banana Java Chocolate Chip Cake

“I tired of the routine of eight years in one afternoon.”
― Charlotte Brontë


Another summer long weekend is drawing to a close.  It was quite productive on my part.  Rejuvenating.  Spiritual. Peaceful.

I am quite excited.  I have developed an affinity for gardening and taking time to nurture my modest balcony garden has brought me much pride and enjoyment.  I am finally seeing some results.  I finally have a flower bloom, the first of about 5 to come.  Not really sure what it is though.  A surprise flower from a batch of seeds planted back in April.

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And I’ve tried my hand at growing herbs that I hope to use in my cooking at some point.  After a slow start and some mishaps – my attempt at basil failed after my little pot fell over and a strong wind carried off the contents of the pot – I finally have some parsley and dill showing. I’m hoping to use the parsley in my morning smoothies at some point and I cannot wait to use the dill on some salmon perhaps with some creme fraiche…

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On to my baking adventure.  Small batch baking is a terrific way to test out a recipe and satisfy a craving without producing dozens of end product.  Sometimes I don’t want a dozen muffins or a giant cake.  Today, I decided to try making a Banana Java Chocolate Chip Cake using a recipe from “Small Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers” by Debby Maugans with some slight changes on my part.

http://www.amazon.com/Small-Batch-Baking-Chocolate-Lovers-Maugans/dp/0312612249

This is essentially a muffin recipe that produces three jumbo muffins or 5 standard muffins.  I decided to make two mini cakes instead. This cake has a streusel topping and pairs bananas, nuts and chocolate together.

For the topping:

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Pinch of cinnamon (I used pumpkin spice)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter (I went with 2 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (I used pecans)

2 tablespoons milk or semisweet chocolate chips (I used chips)

Combine the ingredients together using your fingers until you get a crumbly mixture.  Set aside.

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For the cake batter:

1 really ripe banana

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp (I used 3 tablespoons of canola oil)

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons granulated sugar (I used all brown sugar)

1 egg, well beaten

1/2 teaspoon instant dark coffee or espresso powder (I used 1 teaspoon) because I like coffee

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup milk or semisweet chocolate chips ( I used chocolate chips)

1 tablespoon of buttermilk (I added this on my own)

I didn’t use a mixer and threw everything into one big bowl and mixed by hand.  If the banana is super ripe, everything mixes up into a nice thick batter.

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I used two mini spring form pans.  I probably should have lined them with parchment or at least greased them first, it would have been much easier to remove the cake after.  So, line your pans!  Divide the batter evenly.  Don’t forget to pre-heat your oven to 350.

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Remember the streusel topping?  Time to sprinkle it on top. I ended up adding more nuts and chocolate chips to each. IMG_8679 IMG_8682

These will need 15 – 20 minutes to bake.  If you like a crispy brown top, you can use your broiler for about 4 minutes to achieve that.  Make sure to watch it so the nuts don’t burn though.

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A nice twist on the typical banana muffin/loaf.  I loved the textures.  Soft, moist cake, sweet chocolate chips, nutty pecans, slight hint of coffee and crisp brown sugar streusel.  Just the perfect size too.  Enough to satisfy my sweet tooth without make me feel bad for doing so. =)