Hot Fudge Buttercream

I’m not going to lie–its been a crazy few weeks here at chez piehole.  I’ve been in the kitchen-and even taking pictures–but never actually getting them together for posts.  I’ve got a backlog though, so we will be back to our regular schedule asap.

Today, I want to talk about hot fudge.  Not just any hot fudge–the best hot fudge in the world: Sander’s Hot Fudge.  Try it once and you’ll never go back.



This stuff is really only available in Michigan or areas around the Detroit area.  Thankfully, we life in the future and can order things from the interwebs.  This stuff is actually pretty cheap for hot fudge and, sadly, the shipping is pricey, so I buy the big cans and stock up.  Obviously, its amazing on ice cream (or straight from the can with a spoon) but I was left wondering what else I could do with this marvel of science.  After thumbing through a cookie book, I came up with the idea of Hot Fudge Buttercream.

As it was my first time making it, there were a lot of small additions to get the frosting to come together so the totals below are my best guesses.  Use your cooking smarts and add powdered sugar or cream to even out your frosting to the consistency you want.

I ended up adding a few drops of orange coloring to mine and then frosting some basic pumpkin shaped cookies.  All in all, I love this buttercream (which really isn’t a buttercream since there isn’t any butter..) and I can see using it for frosting or a cake.

Hot Fudge Frosting

1/4-1/3 cup of Hot Fudge

4 cups of powdered sugar

1/4 cup of heavy cream


Combine the hot fudge and powdered sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer.  Start the mixer and let the two ingredients combine–it will be dry and powdery.  Add heavy cream a few tablespoons at a time until the frosting reaches the consistency you like.


Vanilla Butter Cookies

I’ll admit, these are not my usual cookie.  Crisp and sandy are not the adjectives that pull me into a cookie recipe.  That being said–I’m glad I stepped out of my cookie-box.  These cookies are not only easy to make but also delicious.  Rich, buttery, and the slather of chocolate over the side makes these a cookie I can see me adding to my regular rotation.


I mixed these up after dinner the other night when the boy wasn’t quite ready to give up on the kitchen for the evening.  There are just a few ingredients (and no eggs!!) that were almost all already in my baking drawer within easy reach.

After an easy “cream the butter and sugars, then add the dry” type construction, these cookies are balled up and rolled in sugar–which is one of my favorite steps to have kids help out on.


After placing the sugar-rolled cookies on the sheet pan, you need to smoosh them a little.  The KAF website suggested the plunger of a food processor since it had a nice concentric design.  Mine was within reach, so why not?  You could easily use a drinking glass or, if you are a fancy, you could use a cookie stamp.  (hint hint to my husband…wouldn’t these make a great Christmas present for me??)

These didn’t spread much during cooking but don’t crowd the pan since they do need a little room.  While they are still warm, you’ll need to melt the chocolate chips with a splash of vegetable oil.  I do mine in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring well in between.  The residual heat will melt the last of the chunky chips, so just keep stirring!

Dip the top of one side into the chocolate and put it back on the parchment to harden.  The chocolate on mine stayed a little gooey, so I stashed mine in the fridge between layers of parchment.  I’d like to say putting them in the fridge also kept them out of sight, out of mind but not so much because they are DELICIOUS cold.  If you need them to cool more quickly, you can try singing to them as my son did.  I don’t think it helped as much as the fridge though.


Vanilla Dreams

3 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used vanilla paste)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 cup unsalted butter

2 cups AP flour

coarse or granulated sugar for rolling

1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

2 tablespoons vegetable oil


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.  Add the dry ingredients in two parts, scraping the bowl down between additions.  Use a small disher to portion the dough, then roll in the sugar and place on the prepared baking dishes.  Press slightly to flatten with a cookie stamp, drinking glass, or the plunger of your food processor.  Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.

Mix the chocolate chips with 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.  Heat in the microwave in 15-20 second increments, stirring thoroughly to fully melt.  Dip the cookies into the melted chocolate so half of the top of the cookie is covered.  It is less messy if you manage to keep the bottom of the cookies clean.  Leave to cool on parchment or put directly into the fridge.

Makes 36-40 cookies.



Rainbow Cake–A food color review.

My son loves rainbows–in the sky, in My Little Pony form, but most of all in cake form.

He has asked me for a rainbow cake for a long time now.  I thought I had it covered when I made him a chocolate cake with rainbow frosting but, apparently, that wasn’t enough.  The other day, he asked again and I folded like a lawn chair.  Ok, kid.  We will make a real rainbow cake. I’ll even try to not complain about dirtying six bowls and spoon mixing all the colors.

I used the Vanilla Cake recipe from Cake Simple.  I changed it in a few ways to suit what I had on hand (why were all my vanilla beans so dry and sad??) so, despite this cake being seriously delicious, I want to make the recipe again before really going into the details.

Instead, I want to talk about the amazingness of these food colors I tried out.  They were just ok in the bowl while I mixed them up; the colors were solid but I still expected them to fade significantly while they baked.  The top layer of the cake was purple, so I couldn’t tell what the outcome was until I unmolded the bundt.

WHAT THE WHAT?  All hail Ateco gel food color, bringer of rainbows!  These colors were amazing! Red is always a problematic color and, even though I could have added a little more to the batter, this was leaps and bounds above any other color I’ve ever used.

I’m a convert.  Rainbow cakes forever.  Ateco food colors forever.  If you are the type that likes fun colored food, I cannot recommend these enough.

Salted Caramel Cake

I eat a lot of cake and cookies–more than most people, I would say. I usually prefer chocolate cake or my inner-child-love of funfetti. This time, I let my husband loose on a new bundt cake focused cookbook and he selected a salted caramel cake. Caramel is usually an “ok” flavor for me but it isn’t something I lay awake at night thinking about.

Or, at least, it used to be something I didn’t crave. Now I can’t stop thinking about this cake. It’s the most delicious cake I have ever made–and perhaps ever eaten. It is super dense, moist, and has the deepest, smoothest, luscious caramel flavor. Add the icing on top? I may never want another cake again.

This recipe is a bit involved to start with since you have to make the caramel syrup first. I’m not very familiar with sugar work, so I was a little intimidated. Like most things, it wasn’t nearly as hard as I had feared. On the upside, you’ll end up with at least a cup or so of extra syrup. Add it to coffee, or just roll around in it.  

 It took quite a long time to develop the color on the sugar but, it went pretty quickly once it did have some color. The directions here were a little vague–I was supposed to stir the water in and cook until the syrup “thickened” but how much? As it turns out, not much at all. The syrup will still look quite watery in the pan (it maybe would have passed the line on the back of the spoon test) but will thicken tremendously as it cools to a very thick molasses like consistency.

The batter for the cake was easy and, except for the caramel syrup, was all basic ingredients. Then the scary part: preparing an intricate bundt pan. I hadn’t used this football stadium shaped pan before and there were so many nooks and crannies! I feared for my poor little cake but followed the melted butter/flour mixture worked in with a pastry brush technique. Then, I crossed my fingers and poured the batter in the pan.

VICTORY! I knew when I pulled the cake out of the oven I was in pretty good shape as it was pulling away from the pan.

…and turned out!

I let it cool completely then added the frosting (similar to a basic buttercream with caramel syrup added).

Next time, I will flip the cake out onto its final resting platter rather than giving it more time on the rack to cool. It was very difficult to move without breaking and its not like I was trying to preserve a crisp crust or anything like I do with bread. I’ll also ice it differently when I use this pan again since you can’t really tell its a stadium. Oh well.

This cake was AMAZING. My nephew who doesn’t really even like caramel loved it. I will probably double this recipe next time and make a larger bundt cake with it since everyone was sad when the cake was finished.

Salted Caramel Cake
Makes a 6-cup bundt pan size cake.

Caramel Syrup:
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 tsp fleur de sel (or other fancy salt)

In a small saucepan with high sides, mix the sugar with 1/2 cup of water and stir until combined. Use a wet pastry brush to wipe down the sides of the pan to prevent crystalization of the sugar. Cook over high heat until it turns a dark amber color. DO NOT STIR THE PAN. Swirl the pan occasionally to ensure even coloring. When the sugar is dark amber, carefully pour in the remaining 1 cup of water. The caramel will bubble up and sizzle, so stand back. Reduce the heat and whisk the caramel mixture until somewhat thickened. Allow to come to room temperature before proceeding.

Caramel Icing:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 tablespoons caramel syrup
pinch of fleur de sel
1-3 tablespoons heavy cream to get the consistency frosting you want

Whisk the butter, confectioners sugar, vanilla, syrup, salt and 1 tablespoon of heavy cream in a bowl until well blended. Add more cream as needed.

Caramel Cake:
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups (240 grams) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/3 cup caramel syrup
1 cup whole milk

plus more butter and flour for the pan

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare the pan by brushing with melted butter, then flour. Work into all the nooks and crannies with a pastry brush.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

In your stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium to cream until light and fluffy. Add vanilla then the eggs, one at a time until combined. With the mixer on a low, gradually add the caramel syrup and beat until incorporated. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk and beat until blended.

Pour the batter into the pan, smooth the top and bake until done. The guideline in the recipe for a standard shaped bundt pan was 45-55 minutes but my stadium pan was done in 35. Watch your cake carefully and make liberal use of your cake tester!

Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes, then invert onto your platter. Drizzle with the frosting and eat!

Butterscotch Swirl Cake


If you are from Michigan–at least the Detroit area–you’ve no doubt heard of Sander’s Candy. It is, without a doubt, the best hot fudge IN THE WORLD. In addition to their amazing sundae toppings, they also bake coffee cakes. Legend says (actually, my Mom told me) that they used to have an amazing butterscotch coffee cake that my grandfather loved. While I never had it, I’m determined to bake a great butterscotch cake for her. After some googling, I decided upon the Butterscotch Swirl Cake from the Galley Gourmet, a new to me food blog.


This is an upside down cake with a glaze that covers the bottom of the pan before you assemble the cake on top. The glaze and dough both came together very easily and I was ready to assemble!


I found assembly a little difficult but something that would probably be much better the second time I made it. I ended up cutting my long strips into shorter strips to make it easier. I was a little doubtful that the dough would proof enough to fill the cake pan but it did.


It baked beautifully but LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES. Put this pan on a rimmed sheet pan to go into the oven or the glaze mixture will spill over the pan and smoke up your oven!

After baking, I set to the most difficult part of the cake: turning it out onto a platter. This was….not pleasant. My cake ended up sticking in a few places and a good chunk of it needed to be reassembled.


So how did it turn out? The cake and glaze had that amazing butterscotch flavor I was after: sugary, buttery, and deeply golden brown. Now–the downsides. The glaze over-hardened on me. Instead of being a glaze, it was more of I wanted something more like a frosting/soft glaze (think cinnamon roll icing) but the glaze in this recipe almost turned to crumbly candy on the edges. Even with my problems, I am going to make this again with a few changes: I’ll keep the cake as is because it is both beautiful and delicious. I’ll make the same glaze but, instead of baking it on the bottom of the cake pan, I’ll simply pour it over the cake when it comes out of the oven. I may add some brown sugar to the filling as well.

Gluten Free Yellow Cake


Vanilla cake. So misunderstood. I know a lot of people who view yellow cake as simply a vehicle for frosting but it is so much more! It actually can have flavor on its own–a perfect light buttery vanilla.

This year, I volunteered to make a gluten free yellow cake (“with chocolate frosting!!”) for my Nephew’s birthday. I started with this GF Yellow Cake recipe from King Arthur Flour but wanted to make a really intense vanilla butter cake to hold up to the requested chocolate frosting. I pulled out one of my favorite ingredients–vanilla paste which is a sugary syrup with vanilla bean (seeds? insides? gunk?) stuff suspended in it. If you haven’t tried it, and you are into that vanilla seed look to your baked goods, it is well worth a try.


The batter came together easily and was nice and fluffy in the pan. I was afraid this would lead to a fragile cake but I was past the point of no return. Though I do admit to making backup box-cake mix plans.


Gluten free cake can often be dry and crumbly and, sadly, I found this cake to hold true to that. It was delicious the first day but didn’t have any shelf life at all. I wish I had waited until the day of the party to bake the cakes so they didn’t sit overnight. Lesson learned.


This cake didn’t last long in terms of shelf life but it did delivery really fantastic flavor. It was also dense enough to allow me to slice the two cakes into layers to make a 4 layer cake. Frosting was also easy since the cake held together and didn’t create a gazillion crumbs to muck up the frosting.


Gluten Free Vanilla Butter Cake
(best eaten the day it is baked!)

3 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 cups sugar
12 tablespoons soft butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla paste (eyeball this as the paste is SUPER sticky)
4 large eggs
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat your oven to 350.

Combine the flour and xantham gum in a large bowl, set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the sugar, soft butter, salt, baking powder, and vanilla paste until smooth. Beat in the eggs, which will fluff up the batter. Then alternate milk and flour additions to the batter. Prepare 2 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper and cooking spray. Divide your batter into the pans. Bake 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Microwave Fudge


What a silly name. I was tempted to give it some kind of fancier name for the blog entry but I’ll never remember the new moniker in the long run. It has been “Microwave Fudge” since I was old enough to steal cubes of it from my Mom’s freezer as a kid.


The is one of those recipes that I’ve never bothered to change. Why would I? Its chocolaty, sweet, easy, doesn’t heat the kitchen up, refreshing on a hot summer day, and I always have the ingredients on hand. It is perfection in a melt-in-your-mouth candy. The craziest I’ve ever gotten is to add a little peppermint flavoring during holiday season which is good….but it just isn’t as classic as the original.


You’ll need a microwave safe bowl and some type of freezer safe pan, lined with foil (heavy duty is nice), and about 5 minutes of your time.


Microwave Fudge

1 box/1lb 10x sugar
¼ cup evaporated milk (NOT condensed)
½ cup cocoa
1 stick of unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla (a splash really. I never measure)

My mom always sifts the sugar and cocoa together into the microwave safe bowl but I never do because I kind of like the clumps. This is one of those decisions you are going to have to make for yourself. Add milk and butter on top, do not stir. Microwave just until butter is mostly melted (about 2:30 on my microwave). Stir just the center of melted butter to melt any large chunks of butter that remain with the residual heat. Add vanilla, stir quickly to incorporate. Pour into foil lined dish and store in freezer. It will be ready to cut in a couple of hours.

Slice into squares. How small is up to your discretion. I do about 1 inch cubes.

Store it in the freezer! This is not a stable fudge so it can’t get to room temperature without melting. It is better cold anyway. Its also great on ice cream!

cutting fudge



I’ll admit that I am often on autopilot when I go through the grocery store. I buy the same core fruits each week for us to use as snacks. When I don’t take a stock of what we have on hand before I go shopping, we end up with more of one fruit than we can eat before the pile will start to go south. This week, it is apples. I ended up with 8 extra apples in the fruit basket this week and, with another 7 fresh ones from the store. All signs point toward applesauce.


We don’t often end up eating the applesauce as a standalone food since it isn’t the most mobile of fruity foods. Instead, I commonly use applesauce as a sweetener in muffins to help increase the healthy factor for the kids. I’ve had good success subbing it for up to 1/3 of the white sugar in almost every quickbread/muffin recipe I’ve tried. This batch of sauce may be destined for pure apple muffins though.


If you haven’t ever made applesauce before, it is dead easy! If you are into canning/preserving, this is a good candidate to put up. All of my canning and preserving equipment is packed up right now for the move, so this batch will need to be used up quickly!



8 Apples. I used mostly fuji with a few honeycrisp.
1 1/2 cups of water
1/2 cup of sugar
2 tsp cinnamon. This can be adjusted to taste–I usually use much more.

Peel and slice your apples. Add to a largeish pot with the other ingredients. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until your apples are soft. This timing will depend on the size of your apple slices, so check often!

Mash with a potato masher (Or a stick blender if you want super smooth applesauce). Add water or continue to simmer to adjust the thickness.

Makes roughly 6-7 cups

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Mug Cake


As much as I love desserts (and I really, really love desserts), I try not to have them sitting around constantly because I am the type that could easily have cake for breakfast every single day. Thankfully, mug cakes exist so I can have my cake without having to run 15 miles a day to make up for daily breakfast cake.

Last night, I needed a fix for my complete and utter need for peanut butter and chocolate. I found this recipe for a Peanut Butter Brownie on instructables that looked promising. Despite having more ingredients than a normal mug cake, everything was measured in tablespoons which would speed up assembly. The recipe does require both a mug and a bowl but the promise of melted peanut butter was worth the extra dirty bowl. I did make a few additions–a splash of vanilla and a handful of chocolate chips.


It was advertised as a brownie but the texture was definitely more cake-like. That being said, it was totally delicious. I served it with a few scoops of chocolate custard and it was rich enough that even I couldn’t finish it.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Mug Cake
4 Tablespoon flour
5 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon cocoa
a small pinch of salt
splash of vanilla extract
small handful of chocolate chips
1 egg
3 Tablespoon milk
3 Tablespoon vegetable oil
3 Tablespoon peanut butter

Measure (or eyeball) the peanut butter into a bowl (not the mug) and microwave for 30 seconds until melted.

Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt in the mug and stir to combine. Add the vanilla, egg, milk, oil, and chocolate chips. Stir until it comes together. Pour the peanut butter into the mug and stir a few times to marbleize the two together.

Microwave for 2:45. Obviously, your microwave could differ from mine.

Let it cool for a few minutes. Top with ice cream!