A family visit and some baking {Salty Sweet Cookies and Red Wine Chocolate Cake}

23 Sep

Last weekend was special for so many reasons.  Most importantly, my dear sister and her precious children were here for a visit.  My niece is four and my nephew is two, and they change so much between each visit at this point.  I am always so excited to see what fun new things they’re learning and doing!

We also thought it would be fun to have a little cook-out while they were in town – a way for family and friends to get to know each other as well as a kind of farewell to summer {although hopefully not our last cook-out of the year!}. With all of this going on, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out some new recipes.  I knew I’d be cutting it close, but after taking the Metro and two buses, I got from work to the grocery store to home with just enough time to bake a Red Wine Chocolate Cake on Friday before the family arrived. The recipe from Smitten Kitchen was super easy and so delicious.  It was rich and moist when I ate some with my sister that night, but a little crumbly the next day {I think that may have been because I had to cover it too quickly before it had really cooled}.  Whipped cream is a perfect way to top this yummy cake! Here’s a picture and the original recipe.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake - just as rich and delicious as it sounds!

{Red Wine Chocolate Cake}

  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (179 grams) firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) white granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (177 ml) red wine, any kind you like
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon (133 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (41 grams) Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment, and either butter and lightly flour the parchment and exposed sides of the pan, or spray the interior with a nonstick spray {I just buttered the dish with no parchment paper, and it was fine}.  In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth.  Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the egg and yolk and beat well, then the red wine and vanilla.  Don’t worry if the batter looks a little uneven.  Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together, right over your wet ingredients.  Mix until 3/4 combined, then fold the rest together with a rubber spatula.  Spread batter in prepared pan.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.  The top of the cake should be shiny and smooth, like a puddle of chocolate.  Cool in pan on a rack for about 10 minutes, then flip out of pan and cool the rest of the way on a cooling rack.  This cake keeps well at room temperature or in the fridge. It looks pretty dusted with powdered sugar.

The other recipe I tried for the first time last weekend was for pretzel cookies with chocolate and peanut butter chips.  I found it on a blog called Sugar Cooking.  These cookies were such a tasty mixture of salty and sweet, and seemed to be a hit with kids and adults alike.  The only thing I would change next time would be to use a smaller kind of pretzel so that I could leave them in bigger chunks {I accidentally asked for pretzel rods when I meant sticks, so I ended up crushing them more than I would have like – doh!}.  Here’s the original recipe from Sugar Cooking along with a couple of changes I made!

{Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chip Pretzel Cookies}

Makes about 24 cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1/2 cup broken up pretzel pieces
  • Pretzel Salt or Sea Salt
Preheat the over to 350.  In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt – set aside.  In a larger bowl, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy {about 2-3 minutes}.  On low speed, slowly add the beaten egg and vanilla extract.  Beat to combine and scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the flour mixture and beat just until there are no more streaks of flour.  Stir in the chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and pretzels.  Cover and refrigerate for an hour {I skipped this step, and it seemed to work out okay}.  Scoop out well rounded tablespoonfuls of the dough and place them about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with sea salt and bake for about 10 minutes and let cool for a few minutes.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chip Pretzel Cookies - salty, sweet & delicious!

These recipes were perfect for enjoying with dear friends and family!  Happy baking!


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4 Responses to “A family visit and some baking {Salty Sweet Cookies and Red Wine Chocolate Cake}”

  1. Karin Tracy December 22, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    I just told Adam I’m going to make these tomorrow and he said, ‘I love those little fu&%ers’

    • kpolon December 22, 2011 at 11:03 am #

      Hilarious! I hope you like them as much as Adam does … although I’m not sure if that would be possible!

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