Sweet Nothings: Guilt Free vs. Guilt-y!

This morning I’m hanging out at home with two of my punks who are off of school for the long weekend.  One of them will probably sleep until noon and the other is already wide awake, munching on Cheerios and playing on the computer.  As for myself, I’m doing my best to avoid crummy chores such as folding laundry, making beds, and scraping blue toothpaste out of bathroom sinks.  I’ve headed into the kitchen to see what kind of housework diversion I can cook up!

Until recently, I haven’t considered myself to be much of a baker.  I don’t much delve into the world of yeast doughs or pie crusts  (kitchen confession:  I’m intimidated by yeast.  Scares the b’jeepers outta me!).  Sendiks offers perfectly good pizza dough and French baguettes, and Pillsbury makes a fine pie crust.  So, as far as my baking expertise goes, cookies and cakes are about all I’m good for.

Today I have for you a little Valentine’s Day inspiration -– a couple of sweet ideas for you to bake up for the Valentines in your life!  One is over-the-top, and the other a bit more subdued.  You can probably tell from the photos which is which!

The cake…OH, the CAKE!  It’s super moist, absolutely amazing, and not at all difficult to concoct.  I made it in a heart-shaped bundt pan (everybody say ‘awe’!), but you could certainly divide it into two 9” rounds and use your favorite buttercream recipe for a layer cake.  I went the ganache route, but you could skip the frosting step all together and simply dust the cake with powdered sugar if you like.  I also recommend plopping a scoop of vanilla ice cream alongside each slice for good measure (gild the lily much, Leah?!).

As for the brownies: supposedly they’re ‘low fat’, although that seems like kind of a laugh to me.  Maybe ‘low-ER’ fat is more like it.  They’re decent, as far as a reduced fat brownie goes … definitely more cakey than fudgy.  I’m just throwing them out there for you…y’know, to give you a ‘healthier’ option.  Personally, they’re not my cup of tea (just keepin’ it real); I’d rather have a fudgy brownie.  These definitely could use a plop of ice cream!

Anyway, guilt “free” or guilt”y” — you decide.  I’ll never judge!

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Serves: 12-14

  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 ¾ c. flour
  • 1 ½ t. baking powder
  • 1 ½ t. baking soda
  • ¾ c. good quality unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. milk
  • ½ c. vegetable oil
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • ¾ c. hot, strong coffee (I used ¾ c. hot water and 2 t. instant Sanka)

For Ganache:

  • ¾ c. heavy cream
  • ½ lb. semisweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease well and flour two 9” baking pans, one 9×13” pan, or a bundt pan.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together all of the dry ingredients.  Add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla.  Beat on high for 2 minutes.  Stir in the coffee by hand (the batter will be very thin).  Pour the batter in to the prepared pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes for round pans, and 35-40 minutes for a 9×13, and 40-45 minutes for a bundt pan, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto wire cooling racks or a cake stand.  Frost as desired, or dust with powdered sugar.  For a bundt cake, ice with chocolate ganache, or dust with powdered sugar.

For ganache, pour whipping cream into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Remove from heat and immediately add the chopped chocolate to the pan.  Allow to sit for a few minutes, then stir until  the chocolate is all melted and mixture is glossy.  Immediately pour ganache over the bundt cake, allowing ganache to run down the sides.  Cut and serve and enjoy!


Makes:  24

Source:  foodnetwork.com

  • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 c. flour
  • ¼ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ t. salt
  • ¼ t. baking soda
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 c. packed light brown sugar
  • ½ c. plain low-fat yogurt
  • ¼ c. canola oil
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • ¾ c. Heath Bar bits, mini chocolate chips, or chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9×13”pan with cooking spray.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler or heatproof bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until smooth.  Add the yogurt, oil, and vanilla and whisk until combined.  Add the chocolate-butter mixture and whisk until blended.  Add the flour mixture and mix until just moistened.  Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and sprinkle with your topping of choice.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs attached (do not over bake).  Cool completely in the pan.  Cut into 24 squares and serve.

Featured, Fresh, Frugal, Fabulous | February 12th, 2010