Chocolate Simple syrup is easy enough to do but can make a giant impact on your chocolate baked goods! (Not to mention a cocktail!)
A few years ago I started using Simple Syrup on my cakes. I absolutely love what it does to my homemade baked goods!
What is Simple Syrup?
Simply put it keeps the cake moist throughout every stage of assembly and decoration. Not only does it help keep your cake moist, it adds a slight sweetness which is always good!
How Do You Store Simple Syrup?
I like to store my simple syrup in a plastic bottle that has easy pouring and can close/seal. If you do not have a bottle you can store it in an airtight container and brush it over the cake with a pastry brush. It lasts about 2 weeks in a refrigerator.
How to Make Chocolate Simple Syrup
The simple syrup recipe is beyond easy, and the chocolate simple syrup recipe is simply a couple more ingredients! Just 4 ingredients and about 10 minutes (including cooling time!) are all you need. Feel free to use dark cocoa or dutch process cocoa in this recipe.
How to Use Simple Syrup
When your cake is out of the oven, cooled to room temperature, and leveled if needed, pour chocolate simple syrup over cake. The amounts vary, but I generally pour over the entire top of the cake and allow it to soak in.
After I pour the simple syrup over the cake (and it soaks in) I will wrap it in plastic wrap then store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
If I am freezing cake I will soak layer with simple syrup, wrap in plastic wrap, then place the wrapped cake in a sealable plastic bag or air-tight container. (I have stored cakes this way for up to 3 months.)
Chocolate Simple Syrup
Created by Amanda on February 19, 2018
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Place a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Add all ingredients to the pan and stir continuously with a whisk allowing the simple syrup to come to a boil, about 3-4 minutes.
Remove from heat and let syrup cool to room temperature.
Learn how to build your own delicious Cheese Platter! Pair a variety of cheeses with fruits, nuts, crackers, and spreads for the ultimate appetizer platter.
Things to Consider for a Cheese Platter
Before you get started buying and putting together a cheese platter you should have a good idea about a few things:
How many people are you serving?
Are there any cheeses you definitely want to include or maybe definitely avoid? (Does anyone attending have dairy allergies? There are vegan options.)
What is your budget? You can save money on the bread, the fruits, and maybe even the nuts depending on the kind you choose. In my experience, the cheese is the best place to spend your money. And don’t be shy about asking your deli manager for a sampling!
Cheese Platter Ideas
To build the perfect cheese platter, start with the cheese!
I like to choose 3 to 6 varieties of cheese. Plan on serving 2 to 3 ounces of cheese per person.
Once you have the cheese in place, consider adding fresh and dried fruits, nuts, sauces or spreads, and bread or crackers.
What are the best cheeses for a cheese board?
Consider selecting cheeses from:
Different animals: Cow’s milk, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk
Different textures: Soft, semi-soft, firm, hard
Different ages: Raw, fresh, aged
Different regions: French, Spanish, Italian
How do you cut cheese for a cheese platter?
It depends on the cheese. If a firm or hard cheese is in a wedge shape, it’s considered bad luck to break the wedge! So, just cut lots of smaller wedges.
If it’s a soft cheese, serve it with a spreader or a wire and let guests help themselves.
You do NOT need to refrigerate a cheese platter. It is best served at room temperature.
Make sure all sauces and preserves are in their own container and not ON the cheese.
If you happen to have very hard cheeses on your platter consider pre-cutting the cheese to avoid guests struggling. (even if it’s bad luck! )
DIY Cheese Tray
Created by Meggan on February 14, 2018
6 ounces Spanish manchego cheese
1 wedge Parmesan cheese
5 ounces chevre, rolled in fresh herbs
4 ounces blue cheese
6 ounces creamy Brie cheese
6 ounces smoked Gouda cheese
1 bunch grapes
Strawberries, halved lengthwise
2 ounces honey
2 ounces raspberry jam
1 baguette, sliced and toasted
1 package crackers
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup macademia nuts
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup walnuts
Arrange cheese on platter so it is evenly spaced and in varying heights and positions. Cut or crumble some of each cheese and let it spill on the platter.
Add grapes and strawberries, then arrange sauces in small bowls on the board. Rearrange fresh fruit as necessary creating height when it makes sense.
Add bread slices and crackers, then fill in spaces with dried fruit and nuts. Look at the overall cheese board and fill in any remaining spaces or gaps with more crackers, fruit, cheese, and nuts.
Butter cookies are usually found on every cookie platter for several reasons – they are delicious, and pretty much everyone loves them. These are completely egg-free, but they are still very soft, rich, buttery, and delicious, and perfect for the afternoon tea, or with a cup of caffè macchiato. They are also pretty amazing on their own, right off the baking trey, still slightly warm.
If you wish to make them more intense in colour, feel free to add more red food colouring, or on the other side, feel free to completely omit it, they will be just as good. If serving these to children, you can replace the liqueur with strawberry cordial (squash).
Chocolate Genoise (chocolate sponge cake) is light as a feather. This cake will absorb lots of syrup for an extra layer of flavor and moisture. This classic cake is especially delicious with whipped cream or mousse.
Baking from scratch can feel intimidating as there are a lot of rules and techniques to learn. But from scratch baking can feel so much more approachable by keeping a few simple things in mind! Here are 5 ideas that can make your from-scratch baking a lovely experience!
From Scratch Baking
Ever wondered how to bake from scratch? Or how to bake a cake from scratch? Or how to make homemade bread? Or how to customize your favorite cookie recipe? If you understand the basics to baking from scratch, you will soon be known as “the” baker in the family!
1. How to Measure Ingredients Properly
Measuring your ingredients properly is key to successful from scratch baking. There are two basic ways to measure ingredients for baking: by volume and by weight.
Measuring Ingredients by Weight
Measuring ingredients by weight is by far the most accurate way to measure for baking. A kitchen scale (this scale is for advanced home bakers) is a relatively small investment that adds huge value to baking from scratch. You will also likely learn to love the fact that you don’t have to constantly track down and dirty up your measuring cups when measuring this way!
Note: Gram, kilogram, ounce, and pound are all units of weight measurements.
Measuring Ingredients by Volume
Measuring ingredients by volume means that the ingredient is measured by the amount of space it takes up, instead of by how much it weighs.
There are two kinds of tools used to measure ingredients by volume: dry measuring cups and liquid measuring cups. While these two measuring cups are equal in the amount of volume they measure, the way the cups are designed to function differently. Ingredients are measured most accurately when wet ingredients are measured in liquid measuring cups and dry ingredients are measured in dry measuring cups.
When measuring dry ingredients by volume, fill the measuring cup until it is overflowing, then use a knife to level off the top. It is important that powdery dry ingredients such as flour, cornstarch, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder are not packed down into the measuring cup, rather they should be lightly spooned into the cups. When measuring brown sugar, lightly pack it down into the measuring cup before leveling off.
Note: Teaspoon, tablespoon, cup, pint, quart, gallon, fluid ounce, milliliter, and liter are all units of volume measurements.
2. Temperature of Ingredients Does Matter
One of the most common baking questions is “does the temperature of my ingredients really matter?” The answer is a resounding “yes”! Paying attention to detail, such as the temperature of ingredients, truly elevates from scratch baking.
Recipes, in general, should specify when it is important for an ingredient to be a specific temperature. However, sometimes recipes assume that the baker knows a few general rules about baking ingredient temperatures.
General Rules of Thumb for Baking Ingredient Temperatures
When making a recipe that starts with creaming butter and sugar together, like in buttercream frosting or most cookie recipes, the ingredients should be at room temperature. This ensures the emulsification of butter and sugar won’t break.
When making a recipe that starts with cutting fat throughout the flour, for example in butter biscuits or pie crust, the ingredients should be very cold. This creates steam in the oven producing air pockets and flakiness.
Heavy cream needs to be cold in order to thicken into whipped cream.
Egg whites form stiff peaks for meringue much quicker when at room temperature or slightly warm.
Water should be warm (around 110 F) when making yeast bread, like this Hearth Bread with Rainbow Sprinkles. This wakes up the yeast from its dormant state.
3. Salt is One of the Most Important Ingredients in Baking
You may have noticed that nearly all baking recipes include salt. This is because salt is such a key ingredient when making sweet treats and it should not be left out.
Truly great baked goods utilize salt to balance and enhance the flavors. A baked good lacking salt will taste flat, one-note, and overly sweet. Additionally, salt works to strengthen the gluten structure and control the rate of fermentation in yeast breads.
4. Great From Scratch Bakers Practice Mise en Place
Mise en place is a culinary term that means “everything in its place.” The concept of mise en place in baking encompasses a whole mindset of being prepared before you start combining your ingredients.
How to Practice Mise en Place for Baking
Read your recipe through fully and thoroughly. Make sure you understand the process and the timing of the recipe. Look up any baking terms used that you do not understand.
Gather any equipment and baking tools you will need for the recipe.
Preheat your oven and prep any pans, if applicable.
Measure out all of your ingredients before you begin combining them. This way you will not accidentally leave out an ingredient or get halfway through the recipe and realize you are missing an ingredient.
5. Recipes are a Template
Baking gets a bad rap for being too strict and sciency in its approach. However, as long as the structural ingredients are kept intact, baking recipes are templates for endless creativity in flavor combinations!
Love the texture of a chewy chocolate chip cookie? Swap out the chocolate chips for dried cherries and white chocolate chips for a new favorite cookie combination! Obsessed with a blueberry lemon cake? Why not use it as a template for a raspberry orange cake? The possibilities are truly endless!
Bonus: Bake a Lot and Make Mistakes
As with any skill, the more you bake the more comfortable you will become at making things from scratch. But baking mistakes will happen! It’s how you learn in the kitchen and the best way to become a better baker!
Find out more about baking science and techniques over on Baker Bettie!
This banana bread recipe is the best way to use up those brown bananas! It’s an easy and super moist banana bread with a little cream cheese surprise sandwiched in-between.
Cream Cheese Filled Banana Bread
The cream cheese layer that happens to taste just like cheesecake is the perfect addition to any banana bread recipe. It adds a smooth, creaminess to the texture of the bread.
I know some people love butter on their banana bread, myself included. Whip up a little cinnamon butter and spread that on or use regular butter, you really can’t go wrong!
Does banana bread need to be refrigerated?
No, this cream cheese banana bread doesn’t need to be refrigerated. It can be kept at room temperature for about a week while being stored in an airtight container. You are more than welcome to store it in the fridge if it makes you feel more comfortable, but it’s unnecessary.
Can you leave the cream cheese out of this easy banana bread recipe?
Yes! I don’t know why you would though.
Banana Bread Recipe Variations
Stir in some chopped walnuts or semi-sweet chocolate chips to the banana bread batter.
Try adding 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the cream cheese batter.
Did you know that you can freeze brown overripe bananas? Just peel and place into a freezer bag and freeze them. Let them sit at room temperature until they thaw out. The inside will be like a banana puree and perfect for any banana bread recipe. Plus you’ll always know that you have ripe bananas for a quick banana bread recipe.
Cream Cheese Banana Bread
Created by Miranda on February 14, 2018
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (50g) granulated sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon McCormick vanilla extract
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup (113g) butter, melted
1/2 cup (50g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (100g) light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 teaspoons McCormick vanilla extract
2 cups (256g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, add the cream cheese and sugar. Beat until smooth.
Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat on medium until combined.
Add the flour and beat until incorporated. Set aside.
Spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, add in the ripe bananas and beat with a hand mixer until mashed.
Add the melted butter and both sugars. Mix with a hand mixer until combined.
Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and sour cream. Beat until incorporated.
In a separate bowl, add the baking soda, baking powder, and flour. Whisk to combine.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until incorporated.
Pour 3/4 of the batter into the loaf pan.
Add dollops of the cream cheese mixture to cover all of the banana bread batter. Using a light hand, spread it to cover any spots with banana bread batter still showing through.
Add the remaining batter on top of the cream cheese filling. I added it in dollops to cover all of the cream cheese.
Place into the oven and bake for 1 hour 25 minutes or until done. Place a toothpick into the center of the loaf. If moist crumbs are stuck on the toothpick, it is done. If it comes out with batter, give it an additional few minutes before testing again.
Let the bread cool completely and turn out onto a serving plate. Cut and serve.
I’m Miranda from the blog Cookie Dough and Oven Mitt and the author of the Easy Homemade Cookie Cookbook. Cookie Dough and Oven Mitt is a blog full of more desserts, baked goodies, and loads of tips and tricks.