Mini Valentine’s Chocolate Cake (Cheat)

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I went through so much to get this cake to work (none of which should discourage you from making it! You’ll see…)

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So Valentine’s Day is coming up, and I figured I’d find a mini chocolate cake to bake in my heart-shaped cake pan and share that with you guys!

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I found the perfect recipe. I precisely measured out all my ingredients and mixed them together, only to find that the batter had turned into a thick dough instead of a silky cake batter. In my state of despair, I added in a splash of milk to thin the batter, but no luck. I was utterly confused. Everything was perfect…right?

I decided to take a look at the recipe again, reading the first ingredients and – oh. It called for 1/2 cup of flour, but because I’m so used to making full-sized cakes, my mind automatically processed it as 1 1/2 cups. uGH. Unfortunately, I had to discard that batter (after eating a bit of it, of course), and starting over. You can observe this failure here:

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Also, the cake is meant for a 6-inch circle pan, but mine is heart-shaped so it’s smaller. I had a little bit of leftover cake batter, which I made into a cute little bear cake! I was planning on drawing on it’s little eyes and nose and mouth with melted white chocolate, only to find that I don’t have white chocolate at home. Since when is that a thing?? What happened to my emergency stash of 3 white chocolate bars?

And lastly, lighting was not my friend today. I must’ve tried taking photos in at least 6 different locations around the house, hence the inconsistency with backgrounds in these photos.

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Despite all that, the cake itself turned out amazing. Look at how fluffy it rose! It’s so fluffy and has the perfect chocolate flavor to it. If you wish, a chocolate ganache would pair beautifully with it, but a dusting of icing sugar works just fine as well.

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Mini Valentine’s Chocolate Cake

Adapted from Dessert for Two

Makes one 6-inch round cake

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (70g) all-purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons (37g) cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
  • 1/3 cup full-fat sour cream or yogurt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon warm coffee
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • Powdered sugar or chocolate ganache (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, sour cream or yogurt, egg, vanilla extract, and coffee
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips
  5. Transfer the batter into a lined and greased 6-inch round cake pan and bake for 29-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
  6. Dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with chocolate ganache (optional)

My 17th Birthday Cake (Cheat)

~5-layer midnight cake with cheesecake filling, covered with a generous layer of pink buttercream, glossy chocolate ganache, and topped with whipped cream and Oreos~

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Guess who’s 17 years old!

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I have a love-hate relationship with birthdays. I love everything about them, except the fact that I’m another year older. I prefer other people’s birthdays, with all the celebrations and games and cakes and gift-opening, but without me being consciously aware of my ageing.

It’s weird, isn’t it? The way that day by day, hour by hour, we age, but it’s only once a year for 24 hours that we actually acknowledge it. Then again, acknowledging our constant ageing would take some of the fun out of birthdays.

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I don’t understand why people want to get older. A pessimistic way of putting is is that every year, you’re a year closer to death. You become more likely to get sick. You have more responsibilities. Then again, an optimistic way of seeing is is that every year, you are faced with new opportunities. You’ll graduate and start a new chapter of your life. You might get a job. You might meet “the one”. You might get married. You might have kids. Who knows? In the end, the best way to predict your future is to live it the way you want. Sometime’s it’s just easier to be passive to all that happens around you, so that when things go wrong, you can blame the world and carry on, but wow, that must get boring. The happiest people are those who take control of their lives and steer it the way they want to go. When things go wrong, they acknowledge their mistakes and learn from them, and when things go right, they’re living Heaven on Earth. You pick (hint: I’d go with the second one).

I always seem to get really reflective on my birthday. Is it just me?

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But let’s focus on the real reason you’re here: CAKE!

Another reason why I always get excited about birthdays – cake. This year, I decided to bake myself a 5-layer midnight cake with cheesecake filling, covered with a generous layer of pink buttercream, glossy chocolate ganache, and topped with whipped cream and Oreos. Helll yes.

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To be honest, the cake is pretty much just a chocolate cake with black food colouring added. I used to not like chocolate cake. I thought that it was too rich. I’d always opt for vanilla or red velvet. Chocolate cake just wasn’t my thing, but alas, times have changed. Maybe I’d been deprived of chocolate cake for too long, but this chocolate cake was the bomb. Even before I baked the cake, the cake batter was waving chocolatey scents at me, trying to get me to give in and admit that chocolate cake is one of the best kinds of cake. While I was trimming the cakes, I nibbled on some of the cake crumbs and I was in awe, trying to understand how I had ever disliked chocolate cake. This chocolate cake is velvety. It’s suuper moist and it’s perfectly sweet. It has a wonderful cocoa flavour that isn’t overwhelming, and it pairs beautifully with all the other flavours going on in this cake.

Speaking of other flavours…THE CHEESECAKE FILLING. I don’t know how many times I’ve said it, but cream cheese frostings are magical. Maybe that’s a biased opinion because they’re my favourite, but tbh I’ve never met anyone who dislikes cream cheese frosting. The cheesecake filling tastes pretty much just like cream cheese frosting, but there isn’t as much butter. The butter’s replaced with whipped cream, which is just folded in at the end, so that you end up with filling that’s extra fluffy and light, but definitely is not missing any flavour.

I don’t want to be writing an essay here, so I’m just going to tell you that the buttercream, chocolate ganache, whipping cream, and Oreos are perfect. Simply, utterly, perfect.

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5-Layer Midnight Cake with Cheesecake Filling and Pink Buttercream

Adapted from various sources (linked below)

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 2 1/4 cups (285 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups (450 g) superfine sugar
  • 1 cup (120 g) “black” unsweetened cocoa powder (or regular cocoa powder with 1 teaspoon black gel food colouring)
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 ml) hot coffee
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, room temperature

For the cheesecake filling

  • 500g cream cheese, softened
  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g freshly whipped cream
  • 200g icing sugar, sifted

For the pink buttercream

  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter
  • 4 cups (500g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink food colouring

For the chocolate ganache

  • 5 ounces (150 g) best-quality dark chocolate, chopped (I used Lindt)
  • 3/4 cup (90 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup or honey

For the whipping cream

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar, to taste
  • Oreos, for topping

Method

I’ve included generic bad-quality, unedited photos that I took while I was assembling the cake for reference. Let me know if you have any questions!

  1. For the cake, preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, sugar, black cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt
  3. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, and vanilla, and then mix in eggs
  4. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Divide batter equally among the three lined and greased 8-inch cake pans or weigh for accuracy. Each pan should weigh about 600 grams
  5. Bake the first two layers until a wooden pick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean, about 23 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then turn onto rack to cool completely. Repeat with the final cake layer. When ready to assemble the cake, wrap the layers in plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.
  6. For the cheesecake filling, use an electric mixer to whip cream cheese, butter, and icing sugar until pale and fluffy. Fold in whipped cream until combined
  7. For the pink buttercream, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until pale and fluffy. Add in the icing sugar, vanilla extract, food colouring, and 1 tablespoon of whipping cream and beat until combined
  8. To assemble the cake, trim the cake layers, and then halve them so that each cake becomes two layers.
  9. Place approximately 1/2 tablespoon of the cheesecake filling (or buttercream) on the center of a cake board, and place your bottom cake layer onto the cake board. Add about 1/2-3/4 cup of cheesecake filling onto the top of the cake, and using a small offset spatula, spread the filling so that it covers the top of the cake. It’s okay to let a little bit of filling go over the side. Add the next cake layer and repeat until you’ve reached your final cake layer
  10. Cover the cake with a thin layer of the cheesecake filling (or buttercream), also known as crumb coating it, and chill in fridge for at least 30 minutes
  11. Cover the cake in pink buttercream and chill in fridge for at least 15 minutes
  12. In the meantime, make the chocolate ganache. In a small bowl, melt the chocolate, butter, corn syrup and salt in the microwave, about 50 seconds, and stir until smooth. Let cool until it thickens slightly, about 15 minutes
  13. For the whipping cream, use a whisk or electric hand mixer to whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Whisk in the powdered sugar. Transfer the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a star tip
  14. (Assembling, continued) Remove the cake from the fridge and spoon the chocolate glaze to the edges of the cake, gently pushing some over the side and letting it dribble down. When you’ve finished putting chocolate glaze on the edges of the cake, spoon chocolate glaze into the centre until covered
  15. When the chocolate has set slightly, pipe the whipped cream around the edges of the cake and top each swirl with half an Oreo
  16. Serve!

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Creamy White Coffee Hazelnut Oatmeal (Clean)

As the days grow short and nights grow long

As the wind blows ice and not summer breeze

As the lakes crystalizes over and force the ducks to flee (where do ducks go?)

I have one recipe that will overcome your winter blues.

One single recipe that will warm you from the inside out.

Oatmeal.

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Oatmeal so creamy, it begins to take on a thick texture that makes you want to shovel spoonfuls of the steaming hot stuff in your mouth. Full of soft, textured oats and paired with the luscious flavors of white coffee and hazelnut, with a hint of sweetness from a bit of mashed banana. To top it off, with the aromatic white coffee scents, you won’t be able to resist eating the oatmeal straight from the saucepan while it’s still bubbling away, reducing the liquids until they’re thick and creamy . It’s the most comforting thing in the world.

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You know how hot chocolate is super comforting when it’s cold out? Yeah, this recipe does the same. I swear, if you make this once – just once – you’ll start craving oatmeal instead of hot chocolate when the coldest days start rolling in.

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And for those in the Southern Hemisphere – try it! This is an oatmeal recipe that I have year-round. Sure, I make this more often in the winter time, but trust me, this recipe is good enough to be made in the summer as well.

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Well? What are you waiting for? Go and seek comfort in food!

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Notes: This recipe can easily be doubled/tripled/quadrupled

Creamy White Coffee Hazelnut Oatmeal

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2-3 tablespoon white coffee hazelnut powder (to taste, *see bottom of post)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ripe banana
  • Raspberries, hazelnuts, and cacao nibs (optional, for topping)

Method

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and oats over high heat, until the milk begins to boil, then turn the heat down to medium
  2. Stir in the white coffee hazelnut powder and salt
  3. While the oats continue to cook, mash up half the banana, saving the rest of it for topping
  4. Stir the mashed banana into the oats and continue cooking until the oatmeal has thickened to your desired consistency, approx. 5 min
  5. Transfer into bowl (or just eat out of the saucepan) and top with desired toppings. Serve immediately.

*If you want to experiment with other coffee powders, feel free to do so, but this is what I mean by white coffee hazelnut powder:

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Mocha Chocolate Granola (Clean)

~ Aromatic mocha chocolate granola – Easy, crunchy, and healthier granola with melt-in-your mouth chocolate chips and a hint of mocha ~

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Let’s say you were checking out my recipe index, and you demanded, “Pick one oat recipe to eat for the rest of your life.”

I’d point at this one without question.

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By the way, excuse all the weird angles with these photos. I was playing around with angles and it wasn’t until I finished editing them all that I realized that less than half of them are straight.

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Anyways, let’s talk granola. Granola is one of my favorite things to make, since I get to make up the recipe as I go. They’re so insanely diverse and customizable, and they taste so good. I always have at least two different types of granola in my kitchen. Some of them are much better than others. Those are the ones I post.

Such as this one.

It usually takes me the first bite to determine whether the granola is good or not, but I fell in love with this recipe from the moment the batch came out of the oven. It was the aroma of mocha/coffee that got me. Then I stirred in the chocolate chips when the granola was barely warm. The temperature was perfect, as the chocolate chips warmed, but didn’t melt, and then cooled down with the rest of the granola. This resulted in chocolate chips that weren’t messy and melty, they could still hold their shape, and most importantly, they literally melt in your mouth.

And obviously, alongside the chocolate, there’s the hint of unsweetened coffee, which isn’t noticeably bitter, and pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the chocolate.

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I know that this is a ‘clean’ recipe, so there isn’t supposed to be any white or brown sugar. This recipe does call for brown sugar, though you could substitute a liquid sweetener of choice if you wish, so it’s not mandatory. However, I do suggest using brown sugar in this particular recipe, because it caramelizes beautifully and the flavor just works better with the mocha and chocolate and almonds.

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Mocha Chocolate Granola

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped almonds
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or honey, though brown sugar is recommended)
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder or espresso powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg white, whisked lightly until foamy
  • 1/3-1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius, or 325 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together oats, almonds, flax seeds, brown sugar, coffee/espresso powder, and salt
  3. Stir in the olive oil, vanilla extract, and egg white, until fully combined
  4. Transfer the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20-30 minutes, until the surface is golden brown
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool for approximately 10 minutes before stirring in chocolate chips, and then allowing to cool fully before breaking into pieces. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Black Forest Baked Oatmeal (Clean)

~ Black forest baked oatmeal. A healthy, dessert-like breakfast oatmeal, with cocoa, cherries, and cream. ~

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Black forest is one of my ultimate favorite flavor combinations. Thus far, I’ve posted three black forest recipes. There’s black forest pancakes, black forest cupcakes, and black forest nice cream. All of the black forest recipes have been healthy ones, and this one is no exception.

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Although they are both forms of “oatmeal”, baked oatmeal and regularly cooked oatmeal have quite different textures. Cooked oatmeal is generally creamy, while baked oatmeal has a cake-like texture. I usually prefer regular oatmeal on weekdays, as they’re much quicker, but every other weekend or so, I’ll treat myself to baked oatmeal.

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Black Forest Baked Oatmeal

Makes 1 serving

Ingredient

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1/2 tsp espresso powder/instant coffee granules
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup/honey, or 1 tsp powdered stevia
  • 1/4 cup sweet, dark cherries, pitted and chopped (about 4 cherries)
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice
  • Whipped cream/whipped coconut cream, to top
  • Cherries, to top

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius, or 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a small bowl*, stir together the oats, baking powder, cacao powder, espresso/coffee powder, and salt
  3. Stir in the vanilla extract, sweetener, and chopped cherries
  4. Stir in the 1/4 cup of milk
  5. Transfer the mixture into a greased ramekin or ovenproof dish and bake for 16-18 minutes, until the top is baked
  6. Remove from oven and top with cream and cherries