Chocolate Caramel Heath Bar Cake

Photo via Taste of Home

Photo via Taste of Home

When Robbie and I were in North Carolina this past week visiting my parents for a few days, my mom had made this cake for us to munch on during our stay. She knows we are both big Heath Bar fans — I made Robbie a Heath Bar cheesecake for his last birthday cake and may have eaten more of it than he did.

I’m not sure where she originally found the recipe. There are several versions of it online, but I’m posting this one because she (of course) tweaked it to suit her better, and when I make it for us now that we’re back home, I am not going to change even one single thing! Robbie told her it was THE BEST CAKE HE HAS EVER HAD. We both raided the refrigerator every night around midnight, like teenagers with the munchies, tiptoeing around so we didn’t wake any adults, whispering, and giggling. Robbie’s tip for sneaking around: always walk on the balls of your feet!

Here is Vicko’s version (in her own words) of this amazing, gooey, chocolatey, candyriffic, moist, fluffy deliciousness.

Chocolate Caramel Heath Bar Cake

1 box Devil’s Food cake mix
1 1/4 c. diet Coke
1 egg (calls for 1 egg white, but I used whole egg)
Mix with mixer on low for 1 min. Pour into sprayed 13×9 pan. Bake at 350 25-30 min. until done.

6 oz. fat free caramel ice cream topping
1/2 can fat free sweetened condensed milk (OOPS! I used a whole can!!! No wonder it was SO gooey! Do what you want)
Bag of Heath Bar Bits
8 oz. Cool Whip Fat Free

Heat (don’t boil) over med. low heat, stirring until smooth. Do this about 10 min. before cake is done. You want it to be very warm as you spoon over cake. Poke holes in cake when you get it out of oven and pour/spoon this over as evenly as you can. I use Kebab skewers to poke. Sprinkle 1 c. Heath Bar bits over top. Let cool completely. Cover with 8 oz cool whip and sprinkle 1/4 to 1/2 c. heath bits over top. Keep in refrigerator. Such a good cake!

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Tasty Tuesday: Pistachio Baklava Cups

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My family is pretty big on baklava. I think my mom has some Greek genes in there somewhere, because she loves Greek food in general. She makes these at Christmas-time. They are so delicious — bite-sized sticky, flaky goodness.

Pistachio Baklava Cups

2 pkgs mini Phyllo shells
1/3 cup honey
2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup shelled pistachios
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp melted butter

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place phyllo shells on rimmed baking sheet. Stir honey and lemon juice in small cup until blended. Set aside.

Pulse pistachios, cinnamon, sugar, and cloves in food processor just until chopped. Add melted butter. Pulse just to distribute.

Spoon a rounded teaspoonful into each shell. Bake 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. Spoon about 1 tbsp honey mixture over hot filling. Cool on baking sheet on wire rack. Makes 30. Only 3 g fat and 62 calories per shell!

Tasty Tuesday: Cream Cheese Sandwich Cookies

I am not typically a big Valentine’s Day person. I tend to fall into the camp that’s always saying, “Oh, it’s just a Hallmark holiday for the purpose of selling crap. You should treat people lovingly every day, not just once a year!” That’s all true. But this year, I decided that instead of being bitter about not having a real valentine (I do have a complicated one), I would take the high road to positivity and just make sweets for all the friends in my life that I love and appreciate. I mean, why not use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to tell your friends how much you love them? Friends need love too, not just lovers.

I found this recipe on Bakerella. Her pictures are always lovely, but I’m using some poor ones I took in my kitchen. This is why you should always take TWO photos. The first one is always crap.

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Cream Cheese Sandwich Cookies

1 Box red velvet cake mix*
1/2 Cup butter, softened to room temperature (mine was pretty much melted)
2 Eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients until combined. Drop spoonfuls of cookie batter onto baking sheet about two inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool.

Cream Cheese Filling

1/2 Cup butter, softened to room temperature (again, mine was pretty much melted — my microwave is superior alien technology that I cannot control)
1 8 oz. Package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 1lb. Box of confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp Vanilla

In a mixer, cream butter, cream cheese and vanilla. Gradually add sugar and mix until smooth. Makes about 24 cookies or 12 cookie sandwiches

* Any cake mix should work.

I also made some using a lemon cake mix, and these came out much with a much softer consistency, for some reason. I do not pretend to understand the chemical processes that make cooking happen. I wrote a paper about a science-related movie for my AP Biology final exam. Yes, I am an english nerd. I don’t do science. Anyway, the lemon ones were almost too sweet. I much preferred the red velvet.

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Tasty Tuesday: Christmas Cookies

Xmas Cookies

This Christmas season I have been all about baking and candy-making. I have made PB dog treats, white chocolate-covered pretzels, peanut butter balls, and most recently, iced sugar cookies. My friend Quest and I had a Christmas Girls’ Night. We baked cookies, watched Love Actually (best Christmas chick flick ever), decorated cookies, and drank fizzy red wine.

When I was a kid, my mom made the best sugar cookies, but only on very special occasions. When I was in first or second grade, she made them heart-shaped with pink icing, for my class at Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, we both came down with the flu the same day I took the cookies to school. We lay miserably on couches on opposite sides of the living room. That’s the only time I can remember my mom and I being sick at the same time, and how my dad got through that week I will never know.

I forgot to get the old recipe from my mom for the Christmas Girls’ Night with Quest, but I found a pretty close stand-in recipe at The Pioneer Woman. The lemon peel is the key ingredient. I love all her recipes, and her step-by-step photos make everything so easy. Instead of her egg yolk glaze, we just made royal icing using the recipe on the sugar bag.