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blue girl presents: raspberry short whip bites
Growing up, my parents were part of a monthly Bible study.  Each family would take turns hosting.  Dinner would be potluck, but the host was always responsible for making extra dishes, drinks, and desserts.  Naturally, my Mom was the best cook. (I'm not biased.  Yes I am.  But, she really was!)  So when it was my parents' turn to host, I knew that dinner would be especially yummy.

Although an amazing cook, my Mom didn't do much baking unless it was from a box.  A friend shared a recipe with her once for "cheesecake."  It became my Mom's go-to dessert for Bible study.  Turns out it became my most favorite dessert.  Also turns out, it wasn't really cheesecake.  The first time I had real cheesecake, I was SO disappointed because it wasn't the light, fluffy, creamy dessert I was always told was cheesecake.  (Hubby's family has since reformed me.)

We went to a BBQ over the weekend with tons of yummy food.  I was asked to bring dessert.  I knew that the burgers and hot dogs would be amazing and filling. (They were.)  I knew there would be tons of other yummy food. (There was.)  I knew there would be a fire for roasting marshmallows and making s'mores. (There was.  I always burn my marshmallow, but it was still great.)  With all of that in mind, I wanted to bring a dessert that felt light.  My Mom's cheesecake seemed like a winner.

The original recipe layers all of the ingredients in a 9x13 pan.  There is a shortbread crust. Smelling it baking in the oven always made me swoon.  (Actually, it still makes me swoon.)  There is a layer of cool whip, powdered sugar, and cream cheese.  Sweet, fluffy, goodness!  Then there is a layer of vanilla pudding and  a top layer of cool whip.  I am pretty sure that many families have a variation of this dessert in their recipe box.  My Mother-in-Law makes a pistachio dessert that is similar-ish.

For fun, I decided to create mini cups instead.  I also decided to replace the cool whip in the original recipe with fresh whipped cream.

Hubby's family believes that all good recipes need a good name.  I let Hubby name these little treats, and he came up with Raspberry Short Whips.  I like it.
blue girl presents: raspberry short whip bites
Here's how I made them.

Prepare Whipped Cream.
1 pint of heavy Cream
1/2 powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla

Beat the cream in a chilled bowl with chilled beater.  Slowly add sugar and vanilla until fluffy and thick enough to spread.

First Layer: Shortbread crust.
2 sticks unsalted butter (if using salted butter, do not add additional salt.)
2 C. flour
1/2 t. salt
Melt butter in a sauce pan.  Add flour and salt, and mix to create a soft dough.
When cool enough, scoop a tablespoon of dough, roll it into a ball, and then flatten into a disk.  Place disc in the bottom of a foil mini cupcake liner.  You should be able to make 30-35 cups.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes. 
(If you underbake the crust and decide to check one of the may or may not end up with a kitchen floor covered with crumbs...)
Cool crusts.

Second Layer: 
1 block Cream Cheese
1/2 C. powdered sugar
2 C. whipped cream

Blend Cream Cheese and sugar until smooth.  Fold in whipped cream.
Pipe a layer of mixture into each cup.

Third Layer:
1 package instant vanilla pudding.

Follow instruction on box for pie filling.  Pipe a layer of pudding into each cup.

Fourth Layer:
Pipe remaining whipped cream on top of each cup.

Top with fresh raspberries for a Raspberry Short Whip, or choose another favorite garnish!

blue girl presents: chocolate raspberry short whip pie
I met up with some lovely ladies last night.  Since I had extra ingredients, I decided to turn them into a Chocolate Raspberry Short Whip Pie.  I only used one stick of butter and one cup of flour for the crust, pressing the mixture into an 8 inch square pan.

I had always been curious what the dessert would be like with chocolate pudding, so I finally tried it.  I love chocolate, but in my opinion, the vanilla pudding wins hands down.  There is just something about how it combines with the cream cheese layer and the shortbread crust for the ultimate flavor combination. 

At some point, I would like to try this dessert with homemade pudding!
blue girl presents: chocolate raspberry short whip pie
Did you grow up with a dessert like this?  It is so versatile.  You can change the type of crust, the pudding flavor, and the garnish to create all different flavor combinations.  Let me know if you try my versions or another version!
blue girl presents: raspberry short whip
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blue girl presents: black forest cake
Over the weekend, we went on a mini road trip to visit Hubby's Great Uncle.  Everyone in the family simply calls him Uncle.  Uncle turned 91 last month, which most definitely warranted a celebration.

My Mother-in-Law asked if I could make a Black Forest Cake, because Uncle is a fan.  I had never made one before, but I love an excuse to try new things.
blue girl presents: black forest cake
I used Brown Eyed Baker's Black Forest Cake recipe with a few changes.

For the cake: I threw in a tsp of espresso powder for kicks.  Recipe books and television bakers always say coffee or espresso enhances the flavor of a chocolate cake.  I had some, so why not?

For the cherries: I bought a bag of fresh cherries (which I sadly can not eat fresh due to allergies.)  I pitted them by hand.  (It was very difficult to resist licking my fingers.)  I had about 18oz after reserving a dozen for the top and a handful for Hubby.  I put them in a pot with 1/2 C sugar and 1/2 C water and stirred them around for several minutes.  Then I thickened the syrup with a bit of cornstarch.  I brushed the syrup on each cooled cake layer before assembling.
I tend to be conservative when adding sugar.  If you like things sweet, more sugar would have been fine.  Also, at Uncle's I learned what fresh sour cherries look like.  If I could get my hands on those, I'm sure that the cherry filling would have had even more pronounced cherry flavor.

For the whipped cream:  I doubled the recipe.  Also, in an effort to ensure the cake would survive a three hour car ride, I stabilized the whipped cream with gelatin.
blue girl presents: black forest cake
It survived!!!!!
blue girl presents: black forest cake
The cherry flavor was not especially pronounced.  I am sure it would be more pronounced with the canned cherries and/or addition of cherry Kirsch used in Brown Eyed Baker's recipe.  However, I really liked the idea of using fresh cherries, and using alcohol didn't make sense for this particular family gathering.   If I can find them, I would like to try fresh sour cherries next time.  Perhaps soaking the cherries in juice would also help bring out the favor.
Still, the cake was delightful, and everyone gobbled it down.  The chocolate cake was wonderful and paired beautifully with the whipped cream frosting.

We were also spoiled with a super tasty Berry Crumble from my Sister-in-Law.
berry crumble
Topped with ice cream, it was one amazing treat.
berry crumble with ice cream
Our bellies were full, full full.  They were also happy, happy, happy!
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blue girl presents: peanut butter chocolate extravaganza (peanut butter layer cake with chocolate frosting)
In my Party in a Box post, I mentioned that my Sister-in-Law of Love Deliveries is super talented.  In addition to the ones that I already mentioned, one of her talents is making beautiful cakes.  Becky is always making these fabulous cakes for her kids' birthdays and for various showers and events.  In the past, she has also sold elaborately decorated cupcakes.

When planning Becky's birthday meal, my Mother-in-Law put me in charge of dessert.  I don't quite have the type of patience and finesse required to decorate a cake (though, I'm working on it!), but I knew I wanted to do the best I could to create an amazing cake for the girl who is always baking for others.  (We just got a cranberry nut banana bread this week that was yummy yum!)

We are a family that LOVES peanut butter and chocolate.  LOVES.  But Becky takes that love to a different level.  So the flavor combo was a no brainer.  I just had to find the perfect recipe.

I recently discovered Sally's Baking Addiction, and immediately knew that was where I would find my inspiration.  Spend any amount of time on that blog, and you will quickly learn that Sally LOVES peanut butter.  LOVES.  I hit the jackpot when I found the recipe for Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Frosting.  Hooray!

Now, I really love baking cupcakes.  In fact, I'm in that group of people that enjoys the idea of turning anything edible into a form of cupcake.  However, for whatever reason, I had my heart set on baking a Birthday CAKE.  So that's what I did.

Sally says that you can "pour the batter into a 8-inch or 9-inch square or round baking pan and bake for about 35 minutes."  I made two batches for a layer cake, and only had to bake each round for 25-27 minutes.  I whipped up 2 cups of heavy cream with a box of instant chocolate pudding to make a simple filling.  Then I frosted the whole cake with Sally's Dark Chocolate Frosting

You are all lovely.  You are.  But unfortunately, I don't yet love you enough to pause before dessert to take a photo.  Instead, I waited a day and a half when we just had a little chunk of cake left and took a photo of THAT for you.  Awful, I know.  Forgive me?

blue girl presents: peanut butter layer cake with chocolate frosting
This cake is rich.  It absolutely begs for a mug of coffee or a tall glass of milk.  But it is good.  It tastes like a peanut butter cup in cake form.  Covering the top with mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups definitely doesn't hurt.  Hooray for birthdays and an excuse to eat cake!
blue girl presents: peanut butter layer cake with chocolate frosting
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