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Earl Grey Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

  I hope you all know of Irene from A Swoonful of Sugar, she's an awesome Australian blogging friend of mine that I've gotten to know this past year.  Recently I decided that just because we're on different continents, it doesn't mean we shouldn't be able to bake together!  And seeing as my motivation here has been lacking, I thought that this would be a good way to refresh baking and blogging for me.  Irene makes delightful things, and I'm looking forward to doing many more Across the Ocean baking sessions with her!

  Speaking of which, check out her take on the cake I picked for our first recipe here.  She totally gets creativity points this time!  Wowza.

  This cake is one I found from Shutterbean, and I actually have a funny/not-so-funny history with it.  You see, in the days before I got my beautiful bundt pan, there were some darker hours in which I'd repeatedly get bunked bundts.  Meaning whenever I turned over the pan to slide my pretty cake out, half of it would stick, and the result would be a crumbled (but still delicious) mess.

  You can imagine my joy when this came out unscathed.  It always feels good to go back to a recipe you previously failed on and come out with flying colors.  So worth it.

  Let's talk about the cake now!  The one thing I knew from my previously failed attempt was that this cake was delicioussss.  I know so many people hate the word moist, but I don't know how else to put it.  So just bear with me.  It's moist, has just the right amount of density thanks to the sour cream, it's lightly perfumed with Earl Grey, it's chocolate-y, but no so much that it's too rich for an afternoon tea.  And you don't have to love Earl Grey to like this cake, but it helps.  The texture itself is worth every bite.

  I'm freezing the rest of this baby to enjoy with my sister later, and I'm looking forward to that!  Stay tuned for my graduation cake post, I can't wait to share pictures with you!  It was a labor of love, as always, but entirely worth it.

  Can't wait to see what Irene picks out for our next baking session!

Earl Grey Chocolate Sour Cream Cake
Yield: serves about 10-12

  • 6 Earl Grey tea bags or 2 tablespoons loose Earl Grey tea leaves
  • 1 cup hot water (I heated mine in the tea kettle)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted & cooled (I melted mine in a double boiler, but a microwave works too)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Heat oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8-cup (or more) bundt pan.

Brew the tea in the hot water for 5 minutes.  Remove tea bags or strain the leaves and set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition.  Blend in the melted chocolate.  Beat in the dry ingredients on low speed until almost combined, then alternately add the tea and sour cream until combined.  Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out with just a few crumbs attached.  Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes.  Turn out of the pan and onto a cooling rack to cool completely.  Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.

Sources: adapted from Shutterbean, originally from Real Simple Magazine 


Peanut Butter Nutella S'mores Bars

  Listening to crickets, gazing at fireflies, swatting at mosquitos, poking at glowing embers, and letting yourself get lost in the flames.  I have some of my best thoughts by a bonfire.  I don't know what it is about them that makes everything seem slightly magical, and somehow safe, but it really pulls at you.  People open up to each other, find the courage to sing, run off into the darkness at random until they're lured back by the enticing crackle of the fire and the smell of burning marshmallows.

  By the end of the night I'm always filled with a strong sense of serenity, and I don't always realize that something bad has happened until the next morning.  Texts come pouring in about who did what, there are missed 2 AM phone calls, and a plethora of indirect facebook statuses.

  Just like that the magic is disgruntled.  You wash the smoke and bug spray out of your hair and you deal with the inevitable drama that people create.  I hate how things get ruined.  Summers are built up to be these perfect streaks of warmth and happiness, but it's still real life.  You don't do anything unless you plan it, you don't get a boyfriend unless you actually want to work at a relationship, you don't have money if you don't you get a job, and to-do lists just don't do themselves.

  That may not be the best of ways to start a post, but it's honestly where I'm at right now.  I'd like to tell you that things have been running smoothly since I graduated and am getting ready for college, but that'd be a lie.  But it'd also be a lie to say that I'm unhappy.

  Yes, crap happens.  That will never stop.  But it's all about how you look at it.  I'm very guilty of trying to take the world on my shoulders, and it never ends well.  I like to think that I'm getting better at letting things fly by.  

  I don't know what I expected from my last summer before college, but it's been unlike any other I've experienced so far.  I haven't picked up a book since maybe April, I can count on one hand the things I've baked, and you yourself know just how much I've been posting here.  I guess I'm not sure about a lot of things right now, but I'm figuring it out.

  What I do know is that I still friggin love s'mores.  And even though it took an ungodly amount of motivation, I fixed up a pan of irresistible gooey summertime.  And I know that when I focused in on that melting glob of still-warm marshmallow cream, I remembered just exactly why I do this.  I get on here and share with you guys the most recent thing to be concocted in my kitchen, I ramble on in a way that helps me sort out my thoughts and let you know where I'm at, and then we both leave with the satisfying image of something delicious, and just maybe some gumption to go and make it for the first time/again.

  Again, crap happens.  But just because everyone around you is making a big deal out of nothing, that's no good reason for you to not enjoy a decent s'more.

  I've made these bars a couple of times, and just recently decided that peanut butter would be a stellar edition.  I'm glad I finally took pictures, because they really need to be shared.  You can sit back, catch a whiff of the smoke still lingering in your hair, and with each bite recall the stillness of a bonfire when you were unaware of anything but the warmth of the flames and the stars in the sky.

Peanut Butter Nutella S'mores Bars
Yield: 12 bars

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 7 ounces marshmallow creme
  • 1/2 cup nutella
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line an 8×8″ baking dish with foil.  Spray the foil with cooking spray.  

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Mix in the egg and vanilla until well combined.  Add the dry ingredients on low speed until just combined.

Press half of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Warm up the peanut butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds, until it's thinner and easier to spread.  Spread evenly on top of the dough.  Dollop on the marshmallow creme and spread evenly.  Warm the nutella as well for about 30 seconds, then spread on top of the marshmallow creme.  Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the nutella.  Scatter the remaining cookie dough in large chunks on the top, this leaves some crevices for the marshmallow creme to seep through while baking so it gets nice and toasty.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let cool completely before removing from the pan and cutting into bars.

Sources: adapted from Sugarcrafter