(Better Than) Samoa Cake

Tell me, have you heard of the "Better Than Sex Cake" before?  It's a pretty popular type of cake, and in this week alone I've seen two different, new versions of this cake.  And here I am, adding to the pile. Ah, well, we can't have too much of a good thing, can we?

Because, good?  This cake is so good it is BAD.

Inspiration always seems to flow this time of year when Girl Scout cookies make an appearance.  See my AH-mazingly yummy and equally devious Seven Layer Samoa Bars as proof.  It's also clear that Samoas seem to be a particular favorite of mine.  With those cookies on my brain and some time spent Pinterest trolling, I came across this popular recipe.  I'll admit it took a couple of days to really figure out what ingredients I wanted to use in my version, but if you make it, I think you'll believe this is kind of a home run too.

Better Than Samoa Cake has all the gooey goodness of the original, but kicked up with lots of caramel and coconut.  Add some chopped Samoas to the top if your feeling extra bad.

Better Than Samoa Cake

-Box of Devil's Food cake mix (plus ingredients to make it)
-14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
-10 oz. jar salted caramel sauce
-12 oz. Cool Whip, thawed
-4 oz. softened cream cheese
-13.4 oz. can dulce de leche
-2 1/2 c. sweetened shredded coconut

Bake your cake according to the 9x13 pan directions on the box.  Remove from oven and immediately poke holes all over the cake.  I use a large serving fork.  Slowly pour sweetened condensed milk over the top of the warm cake using an offset spatula to work it in.  Set aside and let cake cool completely.

Evenly spread caramel sauce over the top of the cooled cake. (I use Trader Joe's salted caramel sauce; it isn't as sweet as sundae caramel sauce). Place in the fridge.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and dulce de leche together with a hand mixer.  Add 1/3 of the Cool Whip to the bowl and fold until combined.  Add the remaining Cool Whip and coconut and fold until no large streaks of caramel remain.  Spread over the top of cooled cake and return to fridge while you make chocolate sauce.

Chocolate Sauce
-2/3 c. bittersweet chocolate chips
-2 Tbsp. heavy cream
-1/4 c. powdered sugar, sifted
-2 Tbsp. warm water

Set bowl with chocolate and heavy cream over a pot of simmering water.  Let stand for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir until all chocolate is smooth.  Stir in powdered sugar.  Slowly stir in water until you achieve your desired pouring consistency.  Add chocolate sauce to squeeze bottle, piping bag or ziploc and drizzle over the top of your cake.

Refrigerate cake until almost ready to serve.  Let cake sit at room temp. for about a half hour before serving to let caramel soften up and make it easier to cut and serve.

It won't last.  Trust me.

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Strawberry Kahlua Brownies

If you follow me on Facebook (which you should, if you don't) then you know my intention was to share this perfect Valentines Day recipe yesterday...on the actual day.

Well, I guess I ended up enjoying my day a little too much.  By the time it got down to doing the leg work of writing out the recipe it was late and I was opting between relaxing with a new bottle of wine or typing out a post.

Come on, say you'd choose the wine too.

My dedication to the blog may seem lacking, but once you've made these brownies, I'm hoping that all is forgiven!  These brownies are dense and fudgey.  Once hot out of the oven, they're topped with Kahlua and cream.  A creamy fresh strawberry buttercream is perfectly spread over the top and finished with some Kahlua ganache.

I love them!  I love the flavor combinations.  I love the textures.  It's my idea of a perfect romantic dessert; chocolate, strawberries, and BOOZE.  *Happy dance*

Strawberry Kahlua Brownies
adapted from Desserts by the Yard

-3/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp. AP flour
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1/2 c. freeze dried stawberries
-4 oz. unsalted butter, cubed
-1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
-7 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
-2 large eggs
-1 c. sugar
-4 Tbsp. Kahlua
-2 Tbsp. heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9x9 inch pan with parchment paper.  Coat evenly with a non-stick cooking spray.

Sift together flour and salt.  Add 1/2 c. freeze dried strawberries.  Set aside.

Melt butter, and chocolates in a microwave safe bowl at 50% power for about 2 minutes.  Stir after each 30 second interval.  Stir until chocolate is smooth.  Cool for about 10-15 minutes.

While your chocolate is cooling, in the bowl of a stand mixer beat eggs and sugar until they are fluffy.  Remove bowl from mixer and slowly hand whisk in chocolate mixture.  Fold in the flour and strawberries until no flour streaks remain.  Your batter will be very thick and sturdy.

Spread evenly into your prepared pan and bake for 22-25 minutes, turning pan halfway through.  A crust will form on the top, and a toothpick will NOT be clean because these are fudgey.  Remove and immediately poke holes all over the top with skewer, fork, etc...Combine Kahlua and cream and evenly pour over the top.

Cool completely before adding buttercream to the top.

Strawberry Buttercream
adapted from Confessions of a Tart

-2 egg whites
-1/2 c. sugar
-pinch of salt
-6 oz. unsalted butter, softened, cut into Tbsp. size pieces
-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
-4 oz. fresh strawberries

Puree strawberries in a food processor.  Run puree through a fine mesh sieve to remove seeds and set puree aside.

Add eggs, sugar, and pinch of salt to a heat-proof bowl and set over a pot of simmering water.  The water should not touch the bottom of your bowl.  Whisk constantly until the eggs and sugar are hot to the touch and you feel no sugar granules.  All the whisking should make the mixture white and bubbly looking.

Transfer your egg mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment and whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form and they appear glossy.  Still on high speed, add butter one piece at a time, incorporate before adding another piece.  It may start to take on a curdled look, but keep whipping and it will become smooth.

Once smooth, change to a paddle attachment.  On a low speed, slowly add vanilla and strawberry puree.  Beat on a low speed until the buttercream starts to come together and appears smooth and creamy. Spread evenly over cooled brownies.  Place in the fridge.

Kahlua Ganache
adapted from the Joy of Baking

-4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
-4 Tbsp. heavy cream
-1 Tbsp. Kahlua

Bring heavy cream to low boil, stirring constantly.  Pour hot cream evenly over chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes.  Stir with a rubber spatula until smooth and shiny.  Add the Kahlua and stir to combine.

Remove brownies from fridge, remove from pan and cut into 16 squares (do not cut if spreading ganache over the entire pan).

I let my ganache sit for a few minutes and added to piping bags to create the hearts on the top.  You could opt for something easier by drizzling or spreading over the entire batch of brownies.  Let the ganache set up before serving.

Serve immediately or return to fridge until ready to serve.

Yummy. Yum. Yum.

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Love Bark

Ah, Love Bark.  It reminds me a lot of the real thing.

It's sweet.  It's messy.  And no matter what, you can't help but going back for more and more.

I'll stop there.  If I keep looking for more analogies it might get a bit deep in here, and after all Love Bark is just candy!  However, it is THE perfect candy for Valentines Day.  Because even if we aren't all big on celebrating the holiday, who wouldn't love you if you brought a bowl of this in to share with co-workers?!

Love Bark 

Bottom Layer:
- 24 Double Stuf Oreos (you'll use the remaining for last step)
-1/4 c. salted butter (melted)

Line a 9x9 pan with parchment paper, leaving a parchment overhang.  Coat evenly with non-stick cooking spray.

In a food processor, pulse Oreos until they are a fine crumb. (Can be done with a rolling pin if you're looking to release some stress)  Pour the melted butter over the crumbs and pulse until the mixture starts to form together and it appears wet.  Spread mixture evenly over prepared pan and press down firmly.  Place in the freezer while you work on the next layer.

Middle Layer:
-1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
-1/2 c. vegetable shortening
-1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
-several drops red food coloring (if desired)
-3 c. powdered sugar

In a bowl of stand mixer, cream together butter and shortening.  Add in vanilla and food coloring.  With mixer on low speed add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time.  Beat on high until filling is fluffy and smooth.

Remove crust from freezer and evenly spread filling over the top using an offset spatula.  Return to freezer for 5-10 minutes or until filling is firm to touch.  Grab parchment overhang and remove your semi-completed bark from pan.  Place on level surface.

Top Layer:
-3/4 c.  chopped chocolate candy bark
-1/4 c. pink chocolate candy melts
-remaining Double Stuf Oreos, chopped
-Valentine candy sprinkles/decor of your choice

*You'll want to have everything ready because you will need to work quickly*

In a small bowl add your chopped Oreos and sprinkles.  

Place a glass bowl with chocolate bark over a pot of simmering water.

In a microwave safe bowl, add pink candy melts.

Once you notice your chocolate bark is 75% melted, start microwaving the pink candy melts on 30 second intervals.  Stir or whisk well after each interval so you do not over heat or the melts with turn gritty and hard.  The idea is that the chocolate and pink melts will be melted and ready at the same time. 

Quickly spread your chocolate over the top of your semi-completed bark using offset spatula.  Then drizzle the pink over the top in a back in forth motion and gently use a butter knife to create a swirl pattern by going the opposite direction in back and forth motion.  Quickly top with chopped Oreos and sprinkles.

Return to freezer.  To chop, take a pointed knife, and use the point of the knife to press down into the bark and gently wiggle back and forth to break apart.  Continue until you get desired amount and size of pieces.  Store in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

If you're on some dieting agenda, make sure you have a plan to get this stuff out of your house.  It is inevitable you will keep going back for more.  I also HIGHLY recommend you try the original source- Sally's Baking Addiction for the recipe because I made it for Christmas and it is AMAZING.  Um, it has peanut butter.  'Nuff said.

Take a peek at some of my other V-Day inspired recipes:

~Chocolate Raspberry Cookie Bars

Also, I'm back linking up to parties!  Go check out all the other yummy treats at:
Chef in Training and Inside BruCrew Life!

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