Bakerella's Congo Bars (and why they're worth the blisters)

We got invited over to our next door neighbors' house Friday night for a BBQ, which gave me the excuse I'd been looking for (i.e. desperately hoping for) to make the Congo Bar recipe Bakerella posted last month.

She gave two options for mixing the batter - stand mixer or by hand.  She tried it both ways and said the hand mixing approach turned out better.  I sure hope she's right because by the time I was done mixing the super thick batter I had multiple blisters on my right hand.  But, as the title of this post suggests, the blisters were totally worth the delicious goodness that came out of the oven.

Holy mama!  I promise you, they taste even better than they look.  As Bakerella notes in her post, they took much longer than 30 minutes to cook through... probably more like 40.  But, man oh man were they good.  I'm debating making them again with Rolos.  Aaaaaaaaaand now I'm hungry.

supersized strawberry shortcake

My friend Sarah's (insert very low number here) birthday was last week, and we decided the best way to celebrate would be to put on some folksy western garb and head on down to the Little Red Hen.  If you live in Seattle and have never been there, I highly recommend it.  As long as you don't want your food right away or mind walking to the bar for your drinks.  I felt like a southern style cake was in order, and nothing says southern summer quite like strawberry shortcake.  Or I just really like strawberry shortcake.  Either way, I settled on this recipe and subbed out the butter cake for the yellow cake recipe Bakerella swears by.

First, the yellow cake - I poured the batter into two cake rounds instead of three, which greatly increased the bake time and the density of the cake.  It was a little too dense for my general liking (I tend to prefer light and fluffy), but for strawberry shortcake it was PERFECT!  With this kind of cake, light and fluffy would have collapsed under all the strawberry and cream goodness.

Second, the strawberry tallcake.  Holy moly.  I think the best thing about this recipe is that it couldn't have been easier to make and looks insanely impressive once it's all put together.  I made the cakes the night before, and whipped (no pun intended) it all together the next day in about a half an hour.  And on top of all that, it tasted SO good.  Just look how happy the birthday girl was to eat it!