Saturday, April 23, 2011

Thin Mint Birthday Ice Cream Cake

Birthdays are for celebrating.  I am a firm believer in birthday cake as an essential component of any noteworthy birthday festivity.  Luckily, my husband John's birthday is on Monday, and we got the party started early (he is going to a Padres game that night, so we won't get to celebrate on his actual day since I won't get home from work before he leaves)!

I love to bake cakes, and birthday cakes are no exception.  I've always had a blast decorating with frosting and coming up with fun flavor combinations.  When I asked John what kind of birthday cake he wanted, he replied, "anything with chocolate, but you don't have to make me one."

Oh yes I do.  Who doesn't have cake on their birthday?  Psh.

Chocolate it was, my friends.  

John told me a long time ago about his childhood wish of having an ice cream birthday cake.  Since his birthday is in April and his family is from Wisconsin, April birthdays are usually a bit chilly for ice cream cake.  I knew this had to be in the cake-making plan.

John also loves mint.  We happen to have a few boxes of the beloved Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies in the freezer, so I wanted to incorporate these, too.

Can you tell I was really excited about making this cake? :)

I baked the cake from scratch using a fabulous recipe from The Grit cookbook (the awesome vegetarian restaurant in Athens, GA).  It was super easy, but you could use any chocolate cake recipe and bake it into 2 layers.  

Mixing away the dry ingredients...

It turned into this lovely chocolatey concoction.

Adding the wet ingredients (bubbles from apple cider vinegar!).  I tossed in a teaspoon or so of peppermint extract for kicks.

Poured into the pans...

After baking...the kitchen smelled divine!

I cut each cake layer in half and spread the softened mint chip ice cream (lowfat, of course! ;) ) between the layers...

We're getting there.  Be patient.

I made my trusty vanilla buttercream frosting and added crushed Thin Mints.  Brilliant idea, I must say.

Look at all that ice creamy goodness!

And the frosted beauty ready to be decorated.

Yay!  It's John's birthday!

What's a Thin Mint cake without some chocolate chips and crushed cookies on the side?

Pre-birthday song.

Doesn't that look tasty?  Please don't lick the screen.'s really good.  I'll have a bite for you :)

Happy, happy birthday to my sweet John!  I love you :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

In-a-Jiffy Apple Cinnamon Caramel Oatmeal Cookies

I am in a good mood today, one because it's Good Friday, and two, my office is closed for the holiday! :) I am getting over a yucky cough/sore throat combo that reared its ugly head last week so I am glad to have another day of rest. My exercise life has been nonexistent this week, but I see it as a chance to recuperate and give my body the break it's been (not-so-subtly) telling me it needs.

Anyone else a huge fan of Jiffy muffin mixes? When I was a kid, one of my favorite ways to help my mom out in the kitchen was making the cornbread batter and carefully dolloping it into the muffin tin. It saved my mom 5 minutes, I had fun and we had delicious cornbread muffins soon afterwards.

Granted, Jiffy may not be the healthiest thing on the market, but for those of us pressed for time it can't be beat. That and I think the boxes are so darn cute. Hello, nostalgia! Oh yeah, they're inexpensive, too. Besides, everyone needs a little fat in their lives. Especially in the form of cookies.

I found a recipe on Jiffy's website when I was trying to figure out what to make with the mix. I knew I wanted to use the caramels (we've had a box sitting in our fridge for quite a while now), and this sounded perfectly easy and delicious. Oats make it healthy, right? ;)
Here's what you need.  Super easy!

Mix your dry ingredients,

Cut in the butter,

Add your egg and vanilla,

and mix it all up!

Then add the caramel pieces.  They're there, promise.

Pop onto a cookie sheet. and bake for 10-12 minutes at 375.

Get ready for a party in your mouth!

These cookies are just sweet enough.  The caramel oozes out a bit and makes a crunchy crust on the outside of the cookies. YUM!

I made these cookies last week and took them to work as a treat for my coworkers, but they would be great anytime! Enjoy :)

In-a-Jiffy Apple Cinnamon Caramel Oatmeal Cookies
adapted from Jiffy
Makes 10-14 cookies

1 box Jiffy Apple Cinnamon Muffin Mix
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice mix
2 tbsp. oats
1 tbsp. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg white
1/3 cup soft caramels, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and coat your baking sheet with cooking spray (if nonstick).
Mix muffn mix, spice, and oats together.
Cut in butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
Add egg white and vanilla, and mix until well blended.
Stir in caramel pieces until evenly distributed.
Roll dough into 1" balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Transfer to cookie rack to cool.

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