Tag: easy

Holiday Drink (Nonalcoholic)

Holiday Drink (Nonalcoholic)

Bring an easy, festive flair to your holiday table this year with this super easy, bubbly Nonalcoholic Holiday Drink!

Funeral Potatoes

Funeral Potatoes

Cheesy, gooey, and warm, Funeral Potatoes are perfect for holidays, family dinners, and, yes, even funeral lunches.

Chocolate Éclair Cake

Chocolate Éclair Cake

This post contains affiliate links. This means that I receive a small commission for items bought through some of the links in this post, at no cost to you. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Gracious Cooking.

Chocolate éclair cake is the perfect dessert to have in your back pocket for holidays, birthdays, potlucks, and family dinners. A no-bake, make ahead cake consisting of layers of graham crackers and vanilla pudding whipped cream filling topped with chocolate ganache – what’s not to love? The graham crackers get lusciously soft overnight in the fridge, creating the illusion of cake layers, and the filling is not overly sweet. Chocolate éclair cake is destined to be a family favorite.

chocolate éclair cake

Chocolate Éclair Cake: An American Classic

Cooking in the United States is interesting in so many ways. One thing that really adds strength to American cuisine is the fact that the United States has been an estuary of cultures for hundreds of years, allowing foods to mingle in delicious ways. French cooking has a very strong foothold in the United States. Chocolate éclair cake takes inspiration from the beloved French pastry of the 19th century, and changes the format for the modern home cook.

According to quaintcooking.com, chocolate éclair cake in this form first appeared on the scene in newspapers in the 1980s. It probably had been around earlier, we just don’t have any great documentation. I first encountered this dessert at my in-laws’ dinner table, but I’ve modified a couple of ingredients. Let’s get to it!

chocolate eclair cake

Ingredients

  • Milk – I use 2% because that’s what I always have in my fridge. Any milk should work though.
  • A large box of vanilla instant pudding mix
  • Cream cheese- use a block, not the spreadable type. There is more liquid in spreadable cream cheese.
  • Heavy cream
  • Graham crackers- get two boxes just to be safe. When I made this in my glass 9×13 pan, I used 21 graham crackers. When I made chocolate éclair cake in my metal 9×13, I needed more to get good coverage on the layers. My metal pan has straight sides, while the glass one has curved sides. The straight sides lead to a larger volume.
  • 8 ounces of chocolate. I like to use a Ghirardelli 60% cacao baking chocolate bar, but any chocolate will work. Chocolate chips will work just fine.

Equipment

Techniques

Dessert doesn’t get any easier than chocolate éclair cake. All you have to do is mix the pudding with the milk, cream cheese, and heavy cream, make a ganache, and layer the graham crackers with the pudding filling. Then you let the finished dessert sit covered in the fridge overnight, and you have a delicious cake ready to go!

To make a ganache: either break or chop 8 oz of chocolate into small pieces. Tip the chocolate into a bowl. On the stove, heat 1 cup of heavy cream until you just start to see little bubbles around the edges of the pot. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let the cream and chocolate sit for a few minutes, then whisk together until smooth. I do recommend heating the cream on the stove instead of the microwave. Whenever I do it in the microwave, my ganache turns out runnier. I’m not sure why that happens, but it’s consistent.

chocolate eclair cake

I can’t wait for you to make this easy chocolate éclair cake. I know you’re going to love it. You may also be interested in some other easy desserts: Five Ingredient Banana Bundt Cake, and Apple Cinnamon Bundt Cake. When you make any of my recipes, will you please tag me on instagram @gracious.cooking? More about the name change soon. 😉

Happy cooking!

Carli

chocolate éclair cake

Chocolate Éclair Icebox Cake

Carli Christiansen
This simple, no bake dessert with layers of graham crackers, creamy filling, and chocolate ganache is perfect for gatherings with family and friends.
Prep Time 20 mins
chilling time 12 hrs
Total Time 12 hrs 20 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 servings

Equipment

  • 1 9×13 baking pan
  • either a stand or hand mixer

Ingredients
  

  • 3 cups milk I would use either 2% or whole milk
  • 1 5.1 oz box vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 1 8 oz brick cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 cups cold heavy cream see notes
  • 28 graham crackers see notes

For the ganache

  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy cream if using whipping cream, reduce to 3/4 cup.

Instructions
 

For the Filling

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer), combine 3 cups cold milk with the instant pudding mix. Mix on low or medium until very smooth. Place bowl in the fridge for 3-5 minutes for the pudding to set up a little bit.
  • Take the bowl out of the fridge, put back on to the stand mixer (obviously you won't have to do this for a hand mixer).
  • Add 8 oz room temperature cream cheese to the pudding, and mix on low or medium speed until mostly combined. The cream cheese will incorporate more when the cream is whipped.
  • To your pudding and cream cheese mixture, add 1 and 1/2 cups of heavy cream. Whip on medium to high speed for about 5 minutes, or until cream has thickened considerably, and you have a thick, smooth filling.

For the Ganache

  • Chop or break 8 oz of semi-sweet chocolate (I use Ghirardelli semi-sweet baking chocolate, but whatever you have will be fine) into small pieces and place in a small mixing bowl.
  • On the stove, heat 1 cup heavy cream until you see steam and just a few tiny bubbles, stirring occasionally. I do not recommend heating the cream in the microwave. The ganache always comes out thinner when I use the microwave.
  • Pour the heated cream over the chocolate, and let it stand for 5 minutes, or as long as it takes you to assemble the cake. Whisk until smooth.

Assembly

  • Place 1 layer of graham crackers on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. You will need to break a graham cracker and use the pieces to fill in a gap on one of the short ends of the dish.
  • Spread half of the filling on top of the first layer of graham crackers. I recommend spreading it with an offset spatula, but anything will work.
  • Add a second layer of graham crackers on top of the first layer of filling.
  • Spread the remainder of the filling on top of the second layer of graham crackers.
  • Add a third layer of graham crackers.
  • Pour the chocolate ganache over the top, and spread all over the top with an offset spatula.
  • Place the cake uncovered in the fridge until the chocolate cools completely, then cover with plastic wrap or tin foil and refrigerate 8-24 hours.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Notes

  1. Leftovers can be stored covered in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  2. You should be able to freeze the completely assembled cake (wrapped in 2 layers of plastic wrap and tin foil), and thaw it in the fridge before serving. I have not tested this, but it should work.
  3. Heavy cream is very thick. I like the Kroger brand best, personally. If you are using a thinner cream (whipping cream or heavy whipping cream), reduce the amount in the ganache to 3/4 cup. Do not change the amount for the filling.
  4. It is really important that the cream cheese be at room temperature. Otherwise the cream cheese will not incorporate very well into the filling.
  5. Not all 9×13 pans have the same volume. I need more graham crackers when I use my metal pan vs my glass one.
Keyword chocolate chip, Cream Cheese, Dessert, Graham Crackers, No Bake, Pudding, Quick & Easy, Whipped Cream
White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili uses pantry ingredients, can be on your table in 30 minutes, and has a great vegetarian option.

How to Make Taco Soup

How to Make Taco Soup

Homemade taco soup is warm, filling, and full of tasty vegetables. Taco soup comes together in about 39 minutes with ingredients you probably already have!

One Bowl Chocolate Chip Muffins

One Bowl Chocolate Chip Muffins

This post contains affiliate links. This means that I receive a small commission for items bought through some of the links in this post, at no cost to you. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Gracious Cooking.

Whoever invented the chocolate chip muffin deserves a smooch. Nothing beats a fluffy muffin riddled with chocolatey puddles and a crunchy, sugary top. Conveniently these one bowl chocolate chip muffins only take 15 minutes to prepare, 15-20 minutes to bake, and use minimal equipment. This easy recipe is also fun to make with kids. One bowl chocolate chip muffins are simple to make, the kids can dump ingredients into the bowl, and there is no electric mixer required. In fact, I’m whipping up a quadruple batch of these babies with my 6 year-old daughter today. She’s having a bake sale this weekend to earn some money for a stuffed snake toy she wants to buy.

Equipment

To make one bowl chocolate chip muffins, you will need:

Special Ingredients

The only special ingredient in one bowl chocolate chip muffins is the turbinado sugar. Used for sprinkling on top of the muffins, turbinado sugar has a large crystal structure and creates a delicious crunchy muffin top. It is not a required ingredient, but turbinado sugar really brings these, or any other sweet muffins to the next level of deliciousness. You can find turbinado sugar at most grocery stores in the baking aisle, or on Amazon.

Techniques

When making one bowl chocolate chip muffins, it is important to fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients without overmixing. To do this, start at the top of the bowl (the side furthest from your body). Slide your rubber spatula down the side of the bowl furthest from you, and scrape along the bottom of the mixing bowl until you reach the part of the bowl closest to your body. Next, hook the spatula to your left, creating a “J” shaped pattern. Repeat. The goal is to bring wet ingredients up from the bottom and fold them together with the dry ones until the batter is well combined. If you do this by just stirring in a circular motion, you will create too many gluten networks. This abundance of gluten networks will make your muffins tough and dense, and nobody wants that!

Hot tip: for the most even chocolate distribution, use mini chocolate chips. I almost never have these lying around, so I normally just use regular chocolate chips, and place a few chips on the top of the muffins right before they go in the oven. This ensures that you get some chocolate on the top.

one bowl chocolate chip muffin

Bake Time and Muffin Storage

Every oven is different, and so bake times vary. For my oven, one bowl chocolate chip muffins are done after 18 minutes of total baking. You will know when the muffins are done when you lightly press on the top of a muffin and it springs back instead of sinking or feeling squishy.

Chocolate chip muffins will stay good covered at room temperature for about 3 days, though they’re best the day they’re baked. To freeze fully baked muffins, put them in a zip top freezer bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature, in the fridge, or throw these chocolatey morsels in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds.

I can’t wait to see the muffins you bake! Tag me on instagram @at_home_test_cook so I can see your creations. If you love this recipe, check out these apple cinnamon muffins too!

Happy baking!

one bowl chocolate chip muffins

One Bowl Chocolate Chip Muffins

Gracious Cooking
These fluffy chocolate chip muffins come together in 30 minutes and only use one bowl.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 standard muffins

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips either regular or mini
  • turbinado sugar for sprinkling on the muffin tops

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Prepare a standard 12 well muffin tin. Spray the tin with Baking Pam and line the muffin wells with paper muffin cups.
  • In a medium to large mixing bowl, whisk together the butter, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract.
  • Add the eggs and buttermilk, and whisk until smooth.
  • To the bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt, and chocolate chips.
  • Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the ingredients together until well combined. Do not overmix.
  • Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full with batter. This is best done with a large scoop (#16 scoop).
  • Sprinkle the top of each muffin with turbinado sugar. This creates a crunchy, sweet crust when baked.
  • Bake the muffins at 425 degrees for 5 minutes. Then reduce the temperature of the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for an additional 13-15 minutes. The muffins are done with the tops spring back and do not sink when pushed slightly.
  • Remove the muffins to a wire cooling rack, cool, and enjoy!
Keyword chocolate chip, Dessert, Muffins, Quick & Easy
Sheet Pan Steamed Salmon

Sheet Pan Steamed Salmon

This simple, elegant salmon dinner comes together in 40 minutes!

How to Make Freezer Cookies

How to Make Freezer Cookies

Freezer cookies enable you to bake delicious cookies at a moment’s notice. You never know when a cookie emergency will happen!

Creamy Mushroom Soup With Chicken And Brown Rice

Creamy Mushroom Soup With Chicken And Brown Rice

Soon after we got married, Mark and I were talking about food, and Mark told me that he “doesn’t like soup.” What? Who doesn’t like soup? Soup is so great! Warm and comforting, it’s perfect during cold weather. What’s not to like? Turns out, what he meant is that he doesn’t like thin soups. Ok, I can kind of get that. Unless it’s a first course or a snack, I want a full bodied soup with lots of stuff in it. That, friends, is exactly what creamy mushroom soup with chicken and brown rice delivers.

mushroom soup

Make Ahead

There are two ingredients that need to be prepped ahead of time for this recipe.

First, you need some leftover cooked chicken. I used a rotisserie chicken. Second, you’ll need to cook some brown rice. I love brown rice in this dish because it adds a really nice chewy texture and a nutty flavor to the soup. I put the brown rice in my rice cooker about an hour before I’m ready to start making the rest of the mushroom soup. I make two cups of cooked rice. I add one cup to the soup directly and then put rice on the table so that people can add more if they wish.

Mushrooms for Mushroom Soup

“Carli, does it really matter what variety of mushrooms I use for this mushroom soup?” Good question. No. The recipe calls for cremini mushrooms because I like them and they are easy to get in my area. You can absolutely use a button mushroom, or anything that looks good at the store. No problem. Also, hot tip, if your grocery store has loose, bulk mushrooms, they are usually half the price per pound as their pre-packaged counterparts.

How to Clean Mushrooms

Don’t submerge in or rinse mushrooms with water. They are little sponges and will get waterlogged. This will make them steam during cooking instead of browning. Instead, take a damp cloth or paper towel and wipe your mushrooms clean.

chopped mushrooms

Tips and Tricks

Soup is fun to make, and here are some tips to make it go as smoothly as possible.

  1. Chop your mushrooms small, and cook them until browned. This will give you maximum flavor and a pleasing texture.
  2. Layer your seasoning. Salt lightly after every layer. This will build a better flavor at the end of cooking. Also, I know it’s counterintuitive, but you will use less salt if you do this instead of doing all of the seasoning at the end. Also, taste often. When you add the cream, the fat will dull your seasoning, so definitely taste and re-season after this step.
  3. Acid is your friend. This is the secret sauce in a great mushroom soup, and really in a lot of cooking. The white wine vinegar and the lemon juice will brighten up the soup and make the seasoning pop. Just taste often so you don’t add too much.
Mushroom soup

I’m pleased to say that over the course of our marriage, Mark has learned to like soup. In fact, when he came up from work yesterday and saw me making this one, his reaction was “yessssssss!” Also, I should mention that we are not mushroom lovers normally. We’ve been building our relationship with the little fungi over the last year, but they are not normally our go-to. However, we love this soup. If you too are building your relationship with mushrooms, creamy mushroom soup with chicken and brown rice is a great place to start.

Mushroom Soup

Creamy Mushroom Soup with Chicken and Brown Rice

Gracious Cooking
This soup can be on your table in about 30 minutes. It's warm, comforting, and it has vegetables!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, French
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms, finely chopped You can use any mushroom you'd like.
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock 1 box
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt You will need more to taste, but this is a good starting point. Be sure to taste for salt after you add the cream.
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper Plus more to taste.
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tony Chachere's No Salt seasoning Or your favorite seasoning blend with a kick.
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream Again, you can add more if you'd like, but start here. Half and half would also work.
  • 1 cup brown rice, previously cooked
  • 1 and 1/2 cup cooked chicken, chopped Rotisserie chicken is great here.
  • fresh lemon juice To taste, about 1 to 2 teaspoons.
  • freshly chopped Italian parsley, to garnish Optional.

Instructions
 

  • Heat a 6 quart enameled Dutch oven, or other large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.
  • Add the olive oil and the chopped mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are browned. They will cook down a lot. Season with a little salt and pepper.
  • Add the diced onion. Cook until the onions are translucent. Season with a little salt and pepper.
  • Add the minced garlic, and cook for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
  • Deglaze the pan by adding the white wine vinegar and scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a spatula or whisk.
  • Stir 1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons) of unsalted butter into the veggies, just until it melts.
  • Add 1/4 cup of flour, and stir for about 1 minute. This forms the roux, which will thicken the soup slightly.
  • Add a little bit of chicken stock and whisk the pot, scraping brown bits off the bottom. This will thicken quickly. Add more stock, whisk, and then add the rest of the stock and whisk until combined.
  • Season to taste with salt, pepper, and Tony Chachere's. You will need to season this soup several times, because the cream will mute this first full seasoning. The flavors are more rich and complex if you season as you go instead of just trying to season at the end. Also, you'll use less salt, I promise.
  • After the soup comes to a low boil, turn down the heat to medium low and add the cream. How much to use is up to you, but I would start with 3/4 of a cup. That was about right for me.
  • Add the brown rice and the chicken.
  • Bring the soup back to a simmer. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary.
  • Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Taste and add more lemon juice if you'd like.
  • Garnish with chopped parsley.
  • Serve with toast and salted butter.

Notes

The chicken in this dish is completely optional. It would be very delicious without it, too.
Keyword Brown Rice, Chicken, Cream Cheese, Mushroom, Soup
Austrian Parsley Potatoes

Austrian Parsley Potatoes

Austrian parsley potatoes are a satisfying, four ingredient side dish. Parsley potatoes are great with any protein, or on their own!


%d bloggers like this: