Campfire Ice Cream Cake for the Birthday Boy

Happy Birthday to my intelligent, thoughtful, gentle, caring, super-hot husband Ben! This year we celebrated a bit early, as we were having some friends over tonight for a get-together and BBQ. Knowing we wouldn’t be able to would devour an entire cake between the two of us by tomorrow, I decided it’d be best to let others help us celebrate on the cake-eating-end. I searched Pinterest and the archives of my favorite blogs to find the perfect cake recipe, and finally settled on this one.

You really can’t go wrong with ice cream cake. Especially not the kind with layered brownie, peanut butter, hot fudge, graham cracker, and fudge tracks ice cream. Oh, and marshmallows on top. This is a ridiculously low-maintenance cake that looks way fancier than it is! I love the broiled marshmallows on top that give this ice cream cake that “by the campfire” feel (minus the smoke and pointy sticks!)

You’re welcome, world.

CAMPFIRE ICE CREAM CAKE
CAMPFIRE ICE CREAM CAKE

I got the inspiration for this baby years ago when I made a similar cake using an incredible recipe from Bon Appétit (that link isn’t the exact recipe I used, and I didn’t use coffee ice cream, but it’s the closest I could find as this was years ago!) I made it for Ben‘s birthday while he was visiting me one summer in CT. (He actually doesn’t remember said cake, which is extremely hurtful as I recall staying up super late the night before he arrived to spread layers of melty ice cream and hot fudge, one at a time, every hour, before putting them back in the freezer to set).

This variation has a more campfire feel, is a bit more simple, and can be made in a regular loaf pan lined with wax paper. Add as many or as few layers as you want, just make sure to allow the hot fudge layer to set in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before adding another layer of ice cream (otherwise it will all melt together into a sloppy mess!)

Campfire Ice Cream Cake
Recipe Type: Dessert
Cuisine: Summer
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 10
A make-ahead crowd pleaser that you can make your own with different types of layers or flavors of ice cream!
Ingredients
  • 1 large loaf pan (this was larger than a regular kitchen-sized loaf pan) lined with parchment paper
  • 4 prepared, homemade, or leftover fudge brownies, sliced thinly
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter, melted
  • 8-10 graham crackers
  • 1.5 qt container of fudge tracks slow-churned ice cream, softened (sitting in the car on the way home from the store was enough for me!)
  • hot fudge topping (you may need to nuke in the microwave for 20 sec or so to make it pourable with each layer)
  • 3/4 cup mini marshmallows
Instructions
  1. Begin by lining loaf pan with parchment paper and pressing it closely to all sides of the pan.
  2. Press brownie into bottom of paper until you’ve formed a tight “crust.”
  3. Spread peanut butter evenly on top of brownies.
  4. Crumble 2 or 3 of the graham crackers on top.
  5. Add a little over 1/2 of the softened ice cream, spreading evenly over graham crackers.
  6. Sprinkle 2 or 3 more graham crackers over ice cream.
  7. Pour about 2/3 of the hot fudge on the ice cream (do this quickly as it will melt the ice cream and begin to mix in!).
  8. Immediately freeze for at least 30 minutes to set.
  9. When the hot fudge is hardened, add some more graham crackers, followed by the rest of the ice cream, and finally the last layer of hot fudge.
  10. Top with enough marshmallows to cover the entire top of the cake. Press the marshmallows down into the fudge and sprinkle any remaining graham cracker crumbs over top.
  11. Freeze at least 4 hours, and until ready to serve.
  12. Preheat broiler on high. Broil the cake in its pan for 1-2 minutes (watch carefully!) until marshmallows are toasted.
  13. Remove from pan by lifting the parchment paper and slicing immediately.
CAMPFIRE ICE CREAM CAKE
CAMPFIRE ICE CREAM CAKE

Totally not food-related, but I am so proud of these custom corn hole boards I had made for him as his birthday gift (also given a day early)… enjoy some of these shots from this evening!

Happy 28th, Ben!
Happy 28th, Ben!
In action...
In action…

Happy Birthday, Ben! Happy Summer! 

[Slightly Immoral] Brownies

Anyone who knows the real name of these incredible brownies would agree that they were very accurately named. These things are so good that they’re almost provocative. While I wish I could take credit for them, it seems like The Londoner gets the credit for the original back in 2011 (and I really had to search for that info- that’s how popular this recipe is!).

You really can’t go wrong with a layer of chocolate chip cookie, followed by oreos and brownies. These come out of the oven so thick that you could slice them into 1″ cubes, stick toothpicks in them and be completely satisfied by just that one bite. But really. Why would you do that? I bet you can’t eat just one.

Ya’ll, I have NEVER gone wrong with bringing these to a picnic. They get snatched up so quickly, and maybe even more quickly than my pepperoni rolls or pinwheels! They are so simple that I always feel slightly hurt by the fact that people rave about them way more than the other side dish I bring that took me all morning to make. But I suppose there’s a lesson to be learned in that- the little things in life are sometimes the most enjoyed!

[Slightly Immoral] Brownies
[Slightly Immoral] Brownies
This week I discovered Mega-stuf oreos. I didn’t think regular oreos could get any better, and I’ve been known to even turn my nose up at all the new varieties that have been emerging (red velvet, s’more, birthday cake?) In my mind, there’s just no need to try to increase the greatness of something that’s already great.

In the words of The Londoner herself, “This recipe is too glorious to use substandard Oreos.”

Exactly.

But then, mega-stuf oreos. Mind = blown. Okay, I’ll give them a try.

I was not disappointed.

DSC03022^Oh hey, extensor pollicis longus… 😛

[Slightly Immoral] Brownies
Recipe Type: Dessert
Cuisine: American, BBQ, Picnic
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 24
Think brownies, but ramped up x95387 times. This decadent dessert can’t decide if it’s a chocolate chip cookie, oreo cake, or fudge brownie. But why choose when you can have ALL THREE in one decadent dessert? One bite of these is sure to satisfy the sweetest of sweet tooths (teeth?). You can cut them up into tiny 1″ cubes and stick ’em with a toothpick if that makes you feel better… but I promise you won’t be able to just eat one 🙂
Ingredients
  • 1 package Betty Crocker Supreme Hershey’s Brownie Mix (pictured below) and required ingredients
  • 1 package chocolate chip cookie dough mix and required ingredients
  • 1 package Mega Stuf Oreos (double stuf works too, but Mega Stuf… how can you not?)
  • Cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Prepare cookie dough according to package directions and layer on bottom of lightly oiled brownie pan.
  2. Layer oreos directly on top of cookie dough, pressing gently into the dough.
  3. Prepare brownie mix (I usually just use the same bowl as I did for the cookie dough) and spread evenly on top of oreos.
  4. Bake at 350 deg for 40 minutes or until cooked through (they will be very fudgy when you take them out- resist the urge to bake for longer lest they burn!). Brownies will firm up when cooled.
  5. Slice into triangles and serve. One bite goes a long way!
Layer oreos on top of cookie dough. Slash, that stuffing is NOT joking around.
Layer oreos on top of cookie dough.
I always choose this brownie mix with the squeeze-in Hershey's fudge pouch!
I always choose this brownie mix with the squeeze-in Hershey’s fudge pouch!
Pour on top of oreos.
Pour on top of oreos.
Spread evenly in pan and bake 35-40 mins or until toothpick comes out cleanly (batter will be fudgy when hot- don't overbake!)
Spread evenly in pan.
Bake and cool for at least 15 mins, then slice into triangles or bite-sized wedges.
Bake and cool for at least 15 mins, then slice into triangles or bite-sized wedges.

Kissing Acorns

KISSING ACORNS
KISSING ACORNS

This weekend I helped throw a baby shower for one of my dearest friends, who is due on April Fools’ Day! 🙂 Her baby’s nursery is going to be a “woodland creatures” theme, so we decided that so should be the theme of the shower! There were pine cones and fir tree branches in every corner, woodland creatures snuggled together on the mantel, and cutouts of forest animals hanging from the chandelier. We placed all the food on tree trunk “slices” and placed cupcakes in butterfly and flower paper muffin cups. What a fun time we had planning!

One of my favorite parts of prepping for this party was browsing Pinterest for others’ ideas about what makes a good “woodland creatures” party. Who knew that there were so many ideas out there based around this theme? Forest birthday parties, woodland showers, fairy-themed extravaganzas… the list goes on and on! I found a ton of ideas for food, games, and gifts and used a few of them! Pinterest is a wonderful thing sometimes.

One of the recipes I found that I am absolutely in LOVE with was for these little candy acorns. How perfect! They have only four ingredients and are easy to assemble if you have a little bit of time! I got them all done on a snow day last week, and though they were a bit high maintenance to put together, SO worth it.

DSC02679

Basically, you just take mini Nutter Butter cookies and use a bit of chocolate frosting (which I was already planning on using for the cupcakes!) to stick a Hershey’s kiss on one end, then use a tiny bit more frosting for a chocolate chip on the other side. It’d be easiest if you have one of those little cookie decorating frosting tubes with a smaller opening… unfortunately I just had to use a knife, so it got a bit messy!

Stick them in the freezer to set for at least an hour, or for a few days until you’re ready to serve them!

Kissing Acorns
Recipe Type: Dessert, Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: Finger Foods
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 30
One of my new favorites! If you have the time to assemble them, they will be a HUGE hit at your next “forest-y” party (or just for fun!).
Ingredients
  • 1 bag Hershey’s kisses, unwrapped
  • 1 bag mini Nutter Butter cookies
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • Chocolate frosting, for assembling (ideally in a small tube)
Instructions
  1. Spread a bit of frosting (you don’t need much) on base of Hershey’s kiss and stick on one side of the Nutter Butter. Add a bit more frosting onto the base of the chocolate chip and stick it on the other side!
  2. Freeze at least 1 hour and as long as a month, until you’re ready to serve!

DSC02684

Snow Day Pumpkin Raisin Bread

Happy Snow Day, my friends! Did everyone have a nice Valentine’s Day?

Since our parking lot is a giant sheet of ice, and the clinic is closed today due to Snowmageddon 2015, I decided it was a great day to use up that leftover 1/2 can of pumpkin that’s been sitting in my fridge for about a month. Originally I used it for my “Everything But the Kitchen Sink” Weeknight Stew, but that was only half the can, and there are only so many bowls of oatmeal and yogurt that you can add a dollop.

I felt so cozy last year after making my Savory Snowmageddon Crepes, so naturally I had to bake something else to feel all warm and fuzzy inside (and to procrastinate from studying for the NCPTE). I hope that wherever you are on this chilly day, you can enjoy a thick slice of this pumpkin bread with a big mug of tea and a good book nestled in your lap!

Thankful for this day to relax and enjoy the snow from inside my warm house!

SNOW DAY PUMPKIN RAISIN BREAD
SNOW DAY PUMPKIN RAISIN BREAD
Snow Day Pumpkin Raisin Bread
Recipe Type: Bread, Pumpkin
Cuisine: Brunch, Breakfast
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Warm up to a big mug of tea and a thick slice of this Pumpkin Raisin Bread on this snowy Tuesday! Adapted from popsugar.com and pauladeenmagazine.com.
Ingredients
  • 1/2 can pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (or one small carton)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup oats, plus more for topping
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • handful of raisins and/or chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients.
  3. In a smaller bowl, whisk the dry ingredients and spices.
  4. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir with a spatula until combined.
  5. Stir in raisins and/or chocolate chips.
  6. Pour into a loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray. Even out with the spatula and sprinkle a few more oats on top.
  7. Bake at 350 deg for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out cleanly.
  8. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before slicing.

DSC02667

Rocky Road Muffins

This one goes out to all my fellow DPT 3rd years who are just finishing up PT802! I know it’s been a looooong road (and probably a little rocky!) to get to where we are today, but just think- we’ll be done in three months and we graduate in four! Make a batch of these “Rocky Road Muffins” this weekend to kick off your week off, and think about all the things you’ve learned over the past few years- both in the classroom and the clinic, but also outside of both as you’ve balanced school/family/personal lives. Wherever you end up next, keep that head up (and shoulders back, and chin tucked!) and make this next 12 weeks worth it.

Or just do it for the chocolate.

Rocky Road Muffins
Rocky Road Muffins
Rocky Road Muffins
Recipe Type: Muffins
Cuisine: Dessert, Snack
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 24
When the road gets rocky… make rocky road muffins!
Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup low-fat milk + 1 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup coconut, for topping
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 deg.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk together eggs, yogurt, milk, water, applesauce, oil, and vanilla in a small bowl.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined (don’t overmix!).
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Fill two 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners or spray with cooking spray.
  7. Spoon batter into each muffin tin until about 3/4 full.
  8. Bake at 375 for 15 min or until toothpick comes out clean. In the final 3 min of baking, top muffin with 4-5 marshmallows and a pinch of coconut. Continue to cook until golden brown on top.

 

Sugar n’ Spiced Nuts

DSC02253
SUGAR N’ SPICED NUTS- circa Christmas 2014
sugar and spiced nuts
SUGAR N’ SPICED NUTS- circa Christmas 2013
“Sugar n’ Spice” Glazed Nuts
Recipe Type: Snacks, Holiday
Cuisine: Holiday, Christmas
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: Lots!
Separate these addictive little treats into holiday bags to give as gifts to friends and family, fill up a festive bowl and serve at your next holiday party, or just eat them by the handful right out of the oven!
Ingredients
  • 1 16 oz bag roasted salted almonds
  • 1 16 oz bag cashews
  • 1 12 oz bag pecan halves
  • 1/2 12 oz bag salted peanuts
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1-2 tsp kosher salt (more or less depending on whether your nuts are already salted)
  • 2 heaping tsps ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper (more to taste if you like it hot!)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • a Pinch of smoked paprika
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tbsp water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 deg. Generously spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray or use a Silpat (recommended for ease of cleaning).
  2. Mix all sugars and spices in a medium sized bowl until smooth. Make sure there are no lumps by using a whisk!
  3. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites and water until frothy but not forming peaks!
  4. Add all nuts in a large ziplock bag and shake to mix. Pour egg whites on top of nuts, close the top and shake, shake, shake! Nuts will be damp and fragrant.
  5. Little by little, sprinkle the sugar and spice mixture into the nut bag and continue shaking until well incorporated.
  6. Spread nuts in a single layer onto baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. The pan will have syrup in the bottom with each stir, but resist the urge to add more nuts- that syrup is melted brown sugar that will harden right up once the nuts cool!
  7. When finished baking, remove from oven and give one last toss. Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer nuts to a plastic container or bowl to finish cooling. Break apart nuts into pieces if they stick together!
  8. Separate into holiday bags to give as gifts to friends and family, or fill up a festive bowl and serve at your next holiday party! (Or just eat them by the handful right out of the oven- they’re SUPER addictive when they’re warm!)