Mandy's Marvelous Meals

Recipes, tips, tricks, and my journey into cooking fabulous food!

Slimmed Down Cakes!!


Well, as expected, this week’s weigh-in was not a pleasant one….gained 2 lbs. Although I am not surprised between feeling lousy (stupid allergies!) and eating badly (it had to be the all you can eat meat buffet I took Hubby to for his b-day or the ice cream cake I made him!) I’ve just had a rough week. I’m really hoping I can get my butt back in the saddle ASAP because summer is quickly approaching and I am nowhere near where I want to be. I just have zero motivation…even the things that normally motivate me are not…just feeling kind of blah.

So I’m wondering what those of you out there do when you feel this way? How do you keep up your motivation? I really could use some advice. It’s so disheartening when I was doing so well and I thought I was really changing for the better…here I am 2 lbs heavier…:(

Anyway, enough of that pity party nonsense. Let’s get to something more interesting…like CAKE!

So as I mentioned in Sunday’s post I wanted to share some “Slimmed Down” cake recipes. I do not actually have my own recipe that I’ve come up with but I can tell you what I’ve found to be the tastiest recipes from others. Hungry Girl offers this information for cake mix and I’ve tried the pumpkin, diet soda, and yogurt versions. I have to say that my favorite is the pumpkin. It is the truest to tasting like whatever flavor cake mix you are using and has a nice texture and remains moist. The yogurt is pretty good too and the diet soda version is just “ok.” It makes an unusual texture (but stays moist) and depending on what flavor combo you use (for example: vanilla cake mix with lemon lime soda) you can taste the flavor of the soda.

Cupcake Made from Yellow Cake Mix and Diet Lemon-Lime Soda

Then there’s microwave cakes…I’ve seen so many different ways to make microwave cakes either from scratch or with a cake mix & have tried most of them, that it’s hard to even keep track of which is better than which. However, I have to say my favorite at this point is a recipe I came across on the Taste of Home website Community Boards called 3-2-1 cake (If you do a google search for this you will find a gazillion bloggers have already blogged this so I’m not sure where the recipe originated). First and foremost it’s only 2 Weight Watchers Points Plus (most of the other individual microwave cakes are 3 or 4 WWPP) and second it is the easiest to make. Basically you combine a box of angel food cake with any flavor cake mix in a large Ziploc bag. Then when you want cake you simply measure 3 tbsp. of the angel food/cake mix mixture into a small microwaveable dish, then add 2 tbsp. of water stirring until all the lumps are gone and then microwave for 1 minute! Comes out perfect and tastes great!

Another one of my favorites is to make a pumpkin cake in the microwave using 2 tbsp. of yellow cake mix, 1 tbsp. of pumpkin, and ¼ tsp. pumpkin pie spice. This cake is great with a scoop of fat free vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt. The individual cake is also only 2 WWPP.

Last month when I made Hubby his Cadbury Cupcakes, I made a slimmed down version using devil’s food cake mix and pumpkin. Below is the recipe to make 4 cupcakes and a slimmed down frosting (will make enough for the four cupcakes). You will need a food scale to weigh the ingredients of the cupcakes. This is the best way to figure out the appropriate amount for a small batch of cupcakes. If you want to make the Cadbury cupcakes like the ones pictured, just add one mini Cadbury Crème Egg to the batter. This will make the WWPP go up to 4.

 

Slimmed Down Devil’s Food Cupcakes (Adapted from Hungry Girl)

Makes 4 cupcakes (WWPP = 3)

3 oz. devil’s food cake mix

2.5 oz. canned pumpkin

  1. Combine cake mix and pumpkin in a bowl and mix until well combined. Mixture will be thick, but do not add water!
  2. Divide batter into a muffin tin.
  3. Bake in a 350 degree F preheated oven for about 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Slimmed Down Vanilla Frosting(Makes enough for 4 cupcakes, approx. 1 tbsp per cupcake. WWPP = 1)

2 tbsp. fat free Cool Whip, thawed

1 tsp. Sugar Free Fat Free Instant Vanilla Pudding

1 tsp. fat free or skim milk

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined and smooth.
  2. Top each cupcake with approximately 1 tbsp. of frosting.
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Easy & Delicious Chocolate Frosting


This is a really easy chocolate frosting and it tastes great. It is also great for when you are “In a Pinch” like the other night when Hubby called and said he was going to pick up our goddaughter so she could stay over…could I possibly make a birthday cake for her?? Of course I did…in no time at all. I hadn’t made this frosting in a while so I forgot how good it was and especially how easy!

If you have trouble with the consistency, simply add milk if it is too thick or add more powdered sugar if it is too thin, but be careful…if you add too much sugar it will be too sweet. If this happens, just add more cocoa powder a little bit at a time until you get it to your taste preference.

If you are really in a hurry soften the butter in the microwave and combine all ingredients in a bowl and use a whisk to mix it all up…you don’t even need a mixer! I always use my mixer because I think the consistency is better, but if you are really in a hurry you could definitely just whisk away! 😉

This makes a TON of frosting, so you may want to cut the recipe in half. This is more than enough for a two layer cake (2 round 9″ cake pans). Don’t be alarmed by the amount of butter…it’s definitely not healthy in the least but it tastes awesome. My theory when it comes to cakes & frosting…might as well do it right. Later this week I’ll share some Slimmed Down versions of cake & frosting for those of you who are watching what you eat…but ultimately there is nothing like the real thing!

Quick & Easy Chocolate Frosting

3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup milk, room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  1. In a mixer, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the vanilla. Then add the cocoa a little bit at a time until well combined.
  3. Add the milk and mix until light and fluffy.
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Nailed It! Or maybe not!!


Happy Easter!!!! I am wondering what types of wonderful Easter dishes you all came up with out there. Hubby and I decided to hit up a restaurant this year for Easter Brunch.  It was wonderful….but of course I couldn’t resist making us something special for the day. Since we both love Cadbury Crème Eggs (as mentioned in Saturday’s Post: Cadbury Egg Martini) I thought these cupcakes I found on Pinterest were a cute idea. The cupcakes are from www.mybakingaddiction.com and Jamie, the writer of this blog, tells you to use whatever chocolate cupcake recipe you like.

 Has anyone been seeing these photos on Pinterest?

That is totally what happened to me with these cupcakes!!!

 Here you see the cupcakes from Jamie on www.mybakingaddiction.com

Here you see my cupcakes!!! Oh boy!

I guess this is a good time to disclose a little secret….my food doesn’t always look the greatest…I am horrible at decorating baked goods and even my plating skills are atrocious. I’m slowly getting better…I’ve been practicing especially with the frosting and decorating and Hubby seems to have a good eye when it comes to “plating” dishes, so he is always willing to help out with that. Who doesn’t love a beautiful dessert? But, have you ever picked out the most gorgeously decorated cupcake from a display only to have it taste so-so? At least I can say, my food may not look the prettiest but nine times out of ten it tastes great!  To me, this is what ultimately matters, but as I grow as a cook I am realizing the importance of making my food look pretty.  When something tastes as good as it looks you will always have a perfect “10”!

Anyway, for my cupcakes I used my Devil’s Food go-to recipe…and I can’t remember exactly where it came from but it is a variation of the very popular Hershey’s chocolate cake with the boiling water (you know the one :)) However, since these were strictly for my Hubby (more about my “Slimmed Down” version later!) I decided to make a small batch. I’ve been pretty successful calculating recipes to make only 2-4 cupcakes, but based on how the cupcakes turned out I’d say my math was not 100% accurate (I never was good at math…thought I was finally getting better though?!) The first thing I noticed was that although they were moist, the texture of the cupcake was way too crumbly and they were crumbling all over the place. Instead of the top puffing up they spread out over the baking cup, making a mushroom like shape. Also, they did not turn out as chocolatey as they should have…however this was not such a bad thing because they took on more of a milk chocolate flavor, which went well with the candy theme.  By the time they were ready to be frosted, I just didn’t have the energy or desire to break out my icing bags and so I just tried my best to spread the icing on with a knife…which as you can see did not turn out the greatest.

All in all, however, when it came time to tasting them Hubby gave them a “4” out of 5 rating. He said they still tasted good despite their appearance. The one thing he did mention, however was that they were very sweet. In retrospect I could’ve taken into consideration the fact that Cadbury Crème Eggs are super sweet so it would’ve probably been beneficial to decrease the sugar in the cupcake just a bit. But if you don’t mind very sweet stuff (like me!) then it’s really not a big deal. The icing is just your basic vanilla buttercream and tasted great!

So here are the full recipes for the Devil’s Food Cupcakes & the Vanilla Buttercream. If you’ve got lots of Cadbury Eggs leftover from Easter, you can throw them in the cupcakes like the ones in the pictures.

Devil’s Food Cupcakes (Makes 24 cupcakes)

1 ½ cups unsalted butter

¾ cup cocoa powder

½ cup boiling water

2 ¼ cups sugar

1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

3 cups cake flour

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 cup milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cupcake pans with cupcake liners and set aside for later use.
  2. Sift cocoa into a medium bowl and whisk in boiling water. Set aside to cool.
  3. Using an electric mixer, cream butter on low speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in vanilla and then add eggs a little bit at a time beating in between each addition until well combined.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
  6. Whisk milk into cocoa mixture.
  7. With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour and cocoa mixtures to the batter, a little of each at a time, starting and ending with the flour mixture.
  8. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full with the batter.
  9. Bake in the oven 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cupcakes comes out clean.
  10. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.
  11. Frost as desired.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

3  cups powdered sugar

1 cup butter

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 tbsp. heavy cream

  1. With an electric mixer, mix together the sugar and the butter until well blended, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add vanilla.
  3. Add cream 1 tbsp. at a time and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute, adding more cream if needed to reach desired consistency.
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Chocolate Nutella Cookies


So a few weeks ago I finally gave in and bought a little sample pack of Nutella to see what all the hype was about. Even though I was a little scared of it…it turned out to be pretty good. I ended up buying a jar at the grocery store, but it had been sitting in the cupboard unopen for about two weeks. I had seen tons of Nutella recipes and decided cookies would be good. I went to the  Weight Watchers website to find a recipe (thought that would be a good place to start). So my inspiration for this recipe is from the Community Boards on WW which were a thumbprint cookie.

Now, if you’ve made thumbprint cookies before you know that they typically call for egg yolks and that just seemed like to much work for me at the time.  Plus, I didn’t want a huge batch because the last thing I need sitting around the house is cookies! It doesn’t really matter if they are only 1 or 2 WW points plus when you eat 12 by yourself…at one time! So having to reduce the ingredients in the recipe meant I had to figure out the egg yolk…and I just didn’t want to do it, so I used egg beaters instead because that was the easiest and quickest way to get the amount of egg I needed. I knew this would change the consistency of the cookie, but I thought why not be a little experimental.  Lastly, I was not really in the mood to be patient with having to refrigerate the dough and then roll the cookies into balls…I just wanted to get it all done at once. So I just scooped them out into the best round shape I could and made an indentation in the middle with a spoon.

When they came out of the oven they looked nothing like thumbprint cookies, but they looked and smelled good, at least.

Once they cooled and I was able to test them out I was pleasantly surprised. They were really rich and chocolatey and the Nutella on top added a nice dimension to the flavor.

Chocolate Nutella Cookies (Makes 15 cookies; WW Points Plus = 2/cookie)

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter

2 tbsp. refrigerated egg substitutes (i.e. Egg Beaters)

1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 tbsp. cocoa powder

7 1/2 tsp. Nutella

  1. In a medium bowl combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt with a whisk.
  2. Using a mixer, beat the butter until fluffy 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the vanilla and Egg Beaters and beat for another 1-2 minutes.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until well combined.
  5. Scoop cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, pressing down in the middle with a spoon to make a small indentation.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool. When cookies are completely cooled top each one with a 1/2 tsp. nutella.

 

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