Sunday, March 11, 2012

Monster Cake

Today I am going to be all about math and teaching.  It's Friday and I feel like recapping some of my experiences thus far.  I have loved experiencing middle school.  I have been at the middle school for 6 weeks.  I observe an 8th grade algebra class, 7th grade math class, and then I also tutor in a 6th grade Language Arts class.  I have seen so many different styles and subjects and it has truly been great.

I have been able to lead teach a few times now.  I created a great President's Day Math activity inspired by an activity I found over at Yummy Math for the seventh graders.  This activity fit in perfectly with what they were learning and taught them some new things that they didn't know about Presidents Day and our Presidents.  I also taught in Algebra a few times.  The first time I stuck to the book, but the second I created Algebra Bingo.

Algebra Bingo is great for anyone who is looking for a good review activity.  Also, it can be adapted to any subject.  Just create a list of 30 or so questions and answers.  Put the answers up and have students create their own bingo boards.  Then, read off questions one by one.  They know if they solve them right because they have the answers.  This was neat because we did it the day before a test and so it gave them a chance to practice and I was able to gage how well they were understanding the material.  I also through in some problems from previous chapters just to keep them on their toes and reinforce the idea that they will still need that knowledge as well.  After all, math builds upon itself.  Of course, there were prizes :)  I brought in my sticker collection and a bag of starburst.  To my surprise, they were super pumped about the silly stickers.  8th graders: they think they are so old and rule the school, but give them some spongebob stickers and they giggle like they are back in first grade!

I only go into the school for these classes four days a week and so, now it is Friday and I get a day off.  What I am discovering though is that I miss going into the schools. This is a good sign!  On Fridays, I don't do much except work and work-out.  Today however, I am making this Monster Cake because this weekend is packed with fun events.  Tonight I have my friend's birthday party and tomorrow I have a DTS event for the junior members.  Tonight is going to be carrot cake night and tomorrow will be monster cake night.

Now, this monster cake, is not at all scary.  It is actually quite simple.  It's a cake based on the famous monster cookie! I have tried them out in cupcake form before and they were a huge hit.  Today I am going to make them in cake form and top it off with whipped cream frosting.  I wanted a simple frosting that will not overpower all the crazy flavors going on in the cake and I think I found the perfect recipe.  The original monster cupcake recipe recommends a swiss meringue buttercream frosting, but it was just way too much butter for me to wrap my mind around.  However, it is probably delicious.

Monster Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting
 (adapted from Martha Stewert's Cupcakes and All Recipes)

For the Cake:
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup natural creamy peanut butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup oats
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
For the Frosting:
1 8 oz package of light cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups heavy whipping cream
For Topping:
Crushed Dark and Milk Chocolate M&Ms (as much as you want...)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly butter or grease two 8 inch cake pans.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, mix the sour cream and the vanilla, set aside.
3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in the peanut butter and mix until well combined.  Then, add in the eggs, one at a time, and incorporate well.
4.  Mix in the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the sour cream mixture.  Start with the flour and end with the flour.  Finally, stir in the oats and chocolate chips.
5. Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool completely.

Note: I made this a day early so that these cakes would be entirely cool before assembling with the frosting and crushed M&Ms.

6. Make the frosting: Combine the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Continue whipping and slowly pour in the heavy cream.  Continue to whip until frosting holds a stiff peak.

7. To assemble: carefully place one layer of the cake on a plate.  Dollop some frosting on top and spread evenly.  Then, place the other layer on top.  Frost both layers with the remaining frosting.  Top with crushed M&Ms!

Enjoy :)