The perks of blogging, a lucky girl…

Since I started blogging I’ve been a lucky girl.  I have acquired samples of delicious Ghirardelli Chocolates, got a free loaf of Nature’s Pride Bread, was welcomed at the 2010 Finger Lakes Cork and Fork event, received Palm Leaf plates from Marxfoods.com,  and the flour giant, King Arthur, sent me their cake flour, whole-white flour, and their Secret Ingredient gift pack to try. Not bad for a beginner.  But wait!  That’s  not all.

I am also fortunate enough to have won three great prizes in giveaways during my (less than one year) of blogging.  Two of the prizes I won were from one of my favorite bloggers – Lindsey at Gingerbread Bagels.  Lindsey is a bit like me in the sense that she loves to bake.  Her posts are generally about sweets, and lots of them.  Her personality matches the confections she makes – sweet.  I refer to her as my lucky penny.  Before Lindsey, the only thing I won was a football from a  Snickers candy bar sweepstakes.  I entered to win a Jeep, and got a Snickers Nerf football instead.   Oh well, never look a gift horse in the mouth…

The first prize I won from Gingerbread Bagels was a beautiful jar of Marrionberry Fruit Spread from Oregon Growers & Shippers which I’m saving for a special occasion.  The jar of jam is so pretty it brightens my day every time I see it.

The second prize I won from Gingerbread Bagels was a variety gift pack of Tate’s Bake Shop cookies, and a Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook written by Kathleen King.  As luck would have it this package just arrived today.  I can’t wait to scour the cookbook while dunking the cookies in a piping hot, fresh cup of coffee.

Speaking of Gingerbread Bagels, she currently has a contest going on.  Her prize this time?  Williams-Sonoma Peppermint Bark Cookies.  Be sure to check out her site and enter the contest.  I promise I won’t enter this one!

The other prize I won this year?  The Earthbound Cookbook  written by Myra Goodman.  The giveaway was offered by Greg at Sippitysup.  Greg has the knack of really making you feel like you’ve won big time.  He actually video taped his drawing.  When my name was drawn I might have  jumped up and down like a Price is Right game show contestant.  Here is Sippitysup’s video clip announcing the winner - thank God no one was video tapping me as my name was drawn.  I love the cookbook which is packed full of (250 to be exact) recipes and tips on eating green and protecting our planet.   As a person who recently started raising chickens for some fresh eggs I found myself particularly drawn to pages 376 & 377 which explains the terms used relating to eggs – very informative.

Last month when King Arthur Flour sent me some of their products to try I was on cloud nine, and  I was especially eager to try the secret ingredient collection and the cake flour I received.  The secret ingredient collection is a gift pack that includes some of the companies best-selling ingredients.   Double-Dutch cocoa, espresso powder, Fiori di Sicilia flavoring, Vietnamese cinnamon, and Madagascar vanilla – all packaged in an eye-catching 8 ” square USA  pan.

This pan is awesome.  It’s commercial grade and constructed of heavy gauge aluminium steel (65% recycled steel).  The sides and bottom are fluted giving it some character in the appearance department,  and  adding strength and facilitated air circulation for even baking.  The pan is coated with a clear, non-stick environmentally friendly silicone that helps ensure your baked goods will release from the pan more easily.  The best thing about his pan?  It’s made in the USA.

I’ve used some of the ingredients in several of my recent baking creations and I can’t say enough good things about the quality of King Arthur.  Their cocoa, vanilla and cinnamon are so fragrant  that I have a hard time closing them once I open them.  Not only do these all smell aromatic, they contribute a quality robust flavor to every treat.

Since King Arthur was kind enough to share some of their products with me I decided to create a recipe using their products to share with you.

This recipe is for a dark, delicious chocolate cake.  I ‘ve named it Double Dark Espresso Cake.  For best results bake one day ahead of needing the cake.  This allows the flavors to saturate the cake overnight.

The ingredients you’ll need:

2 c. sugar

2 eggs (room temperature)

1/2 c. butter (softened)

1 c. hot black coffee

1 c. sour milk

3/4 c. King Arthur Double-Dutch cocoa

1/2 tsp. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla

1/2 tsp. King Arthur espresso powder

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 c. King Arthur unbleached cake flour blend

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl with a mixer mix sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla until creamy.   Add the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture.  Then add the milk and coffee.  Mix completely.

I used the 8″ USA pan and a 6″ round cake pan.  Bake until toothpick comes clean.  The size of the pan you use will determine your baking time.   Frost with your favorite chocolate frosting.  I really like the dark chocolate flavor produced from using the cocoa, expresso powder and coffee.

This post should be construed as a big thank you for all the wonderful things I’ve received, and all the connections and friendships I’ve made while blogging.  When I started blogging I never imagined I’d be this fortunate.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!