Scotcheroo Chocolate Layer Cake

There’s some debate on whether the sticky, peanut buttery, chocolate topped rice krispie bars are called “scotcheroos” or “special k bars.” Personally, I believe they are scotcheroos unless they are made with Special K cereal, and only then should they be called special k bars. Makes sense, right? Regardless of which side of the debate you land on, we can all agree the bars are delicious. This cake is next level play on the famous bars, adding a chocolate cake layer to wow your guests. It’s made in three parts: bar layer, cake layer, and then the frosting and assembly. If you only have one cake pan, start with the bar layer as it can easily be removed from the pan within about a half hour. If you have two pans, start with the cake layer as it can cool while you work on the bar layer. When assembling, keep the bar layer on the bottom as it is heavier and would squash the cake layer when cutting if they were reversed.

Scotcheroo Chocolate Layer Cake

Chocolate Cake Layer Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa, plus more for dusting pan
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 hot coffee, boiling water with instant coffee crystals or reheated coffee from breakfast (haha!)

Instruction:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8″ cake pan with oil (or use butter) and use cocoa powder to dust the inside.
  2. In the bowl of a mixer with the whisk attachment, mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix on low to thoroughly combine.
  3. In a separate smaller bowl, add egg, vegetable oil, vanilla, milk, and lemon juice. Whisk together. Slowly pour in hot coffee while briskly whisking so it doesn’t cook the egg.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until just combined, scraping edges of the bowl as needed. It will be very runny.
  5. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until toothpick inserted at center comes out clean.
  6. Once baked, let cool for about 15 minutes and then flip onto a cooling rack, gently tapping the outside of the pan to release. Let cool completely.

Scotcheroo Layer Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 5 cups Rice Krispie cereal
  • Pinch of salt

Instruction:

  1. Grease an 8″ layer cake pan. Set aside.
  2. Pour corn syrup and sugar into a 4 qt or larger pan. Bring to a boil on medium heat on the stovetop, stirring frequently. (Tip for corn syrup- spray your measuring cup before pouring syrup in. It’ll come out of the cup much easier.)
  3. Remove from heat and add peanut butter and salt, stirring until completely melted and combined.
  4. Add rice krispies and stir until well mixed.
  5. Press into prepared cake pan with greased hands. Smoothing out the top as best as you can.
  6. Let cool about 30 minutes and then flip onto a plate to cool completely.

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5-7 tbsp of milk

Instructions:

  1. Add butter, peanut butter, and vanilla to a mixing bowl with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until smooth and fully combined, scraping edges of the bowl as needed.
  2. Add powdered sugar, cocoa, and salt and mix in on low speed. It will be very dry and look like coarse sand.
  3. Beat in milk until desired consistency is reached. Beat well so it’s light and fluffy.

Assembly:

  1. Put a clump of peanut butter on the middle of a plate and place the scotcheroo layer on top (this keeps it from moving around). Top with frosting and a few small dollops of peanut butter, if you want.
  2. Place cake later on top. Stick three toothpicks into the cake about 1″ in from the edge (this keeps the top layer from shifting off).
  3. Frost sides first using a frosting spatula and then frost the top. Decorate by pressing rice krispies into the sides of the cake. Enjoy!

Buttered Mushroom and Herb Gnocchi

Mushrooms are like little fungus sponges full of liquid that can be manipulated to soak up flavor, which sounds gross but tastes delicious! When cooked with lots of butter, they first release all their own moisture and then soak it back up along with the melted butter. It’s magical and creates these incredibly delicious savory morsels that work perfectly with gnocchi. Squeeze lemon on top for an acidic finish and sprinkle with a little cheese for richness. Tip- rinse your mushroom tops without flipping them over. The gills on the underside of the cap will hold onto the rinsing liquid, making the mushroom mushy and slimy.

Buttered Mushroom and Herb Gnocchi

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, rinsed, hard ends trimmed, and sliced
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 16 oz package of gnocchi
  • 2 oz fresh grated parmesan
  • 1/2 of a fresh lemon

Instruction:

  1. Start a pot of boiling water for the gnocchi (don’t cook gnocchi yet).
  2. Add butter to medium fry pan at medium heat. Once melted, add garlic and stir for about 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add all mushroom and stir to coat. Let cook at medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms soften and turn brown, about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add thyme and sage to mushrooms and stir until mushrooms are coated. Taste and add salt & pepper as needed.
  4. Add gnocchi to boiling water. Drain when gnocchi float to the top of the water. This will only take a few minutes. Once drained, add gnocchi to mushroom pan. Stir all together so gnocchi are also covered in herb butter blend.
  5. Divvy into bowls, squeeze lemon over each and top with 1/2 oz of cheese.

Gouda Stuffed Chicken Breast with Ginger Blackberry Sauce

South Dakota has incredible berries! We are lucky in Brookings to be close to Sanderson Farms and their delicious pick-your-own strawberries and raspberries. However, when it’s not summer, fresh berries can get crazy expensive, like $6 for a 6 oz container of blackberries. That’s nuts but makes sense as the berries need to be flown or trucked in quickly at the peak of freshness as they don’t stay ripe for long. Now imagine my shock when I saw containers of blackberries available at a Brookings grocery store for only 69 cents. I bought four and have been savoring every single berry, including using a container for this herby, bright, and just sweet enough blackberry sauce served over a savory Gouda cheese stuffed chicken breast.

Gouda Stuffed Chicken with Ginger Blackberry Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 4 small chicken breasts, about 6 ounces each
  • 4 oz smoked gouda cheese
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 6 oz fresh blackberries
  • 2 tbsp red wine
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp ginger root (I use the pre-grated kind that comes in a jar or tube.)
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Water as needed
  • Salt & pepper

Instruction:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pat at chicken breasts dry. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. Cut a slit in the side to make a pocket into the chicken breast. Stuff 1 ounce of gouda into each chicken breast pocket. Use tooth picks to seal the hole shut so cheese doesn’t melt out.
  2. Heat a large oven-safe cast iron or stainless steel skillet on the stove over medium heat with the butter. Sear both sides of all chicken breasts in pan at the same time, about 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown. Cover pan with foil and place in oven for about 15 minutes or until thermometer inserted in the center of the breasts reaches 165 degrees.
  3. Meanwhile, put blackberries, red wine, and sugar in a small sauce pan with lid over medium low heat. Heat with lid on until sugar is melted and berries begin to break down, about 10 minutes, opening lid to occasionally stir and check. You are basically steaming the juices out of the berries. Once berries begin to break down, reduce heat to low and add ginger, thyme, and lemon juice. Stir together until heated through, pushing berries against the edge of the pan to further break down. If sauce gets too dry or thick, add water. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. When chicken is done, let rest briefly and remove toothpicks before moving to plates. Top with a generous spoonful of sauce. This is delicious served with green beans and mashed potatoes or wild rice.