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Sheet Pan Vanilla Sheet Cake with Sprinkles

Sheet Pan Vanilla Sheet Cake with Sprinkles

Sheet Pan Vanilla Sheet Cake with Sprinkles

 

Cooking spray

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. salt

4 large eggs

3/4 cup canola oil, or melted and cooled unsalted butter

1 cup whole milk

1 T. vanilla extract

 

8 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 T. whole milk

Disc sprinkles (optional)

 

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Coat a 13×18-inch rimmed baking sheet (also known as a half sheet pan) with cooking spray; set aside. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Add the eggs, oil or butter, milk, and vanilla and mix with an electric hand mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Pour the batter into the baking sheet. Bake until the cake is lightly browned and springs back when gingerly pressed with a finger, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool the cake on a wire rack while preparing the frosting. Make the frosting: Beat the butter in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and milk and beat until smooth and fluffy. Spread the frosting right on top of the cake and use the tip end of a small spoon to work the frosting back and forth, creating a striped pattern. Decorate with sprinkles if using. NOTES: Storage: The cooled cake can be covered with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days or refrigerated for up to 7 days.

Peach Upside Down Mini Cakes

Peach Upside Down Mini Cakes

Peach Upside Down Mini Cakes

 

Non-stick cooking spray

1 T. unsalted butter cold

6 tsp. light brown sugar

For cake batter:

3 fresh peaches (Note 1)

1 ½ C. (190g) all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

2/3 C. (130g) granulated sugar

1/3 C. (90g) unsalted butter at room temperature

1 large egg at room temperature

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

½ C. (120ml) buttermilk at room temperature (Note 2)

 

Preheat the oven to 350°F (177° C). Spray muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray. To prepare the topping: Cut 1 T. of butter into 12 equal parts. (TIP: cold butter is easier to cut.) Place each butter piece in 12 muffin C.. Sprinkle ½ tsp. of brown sugar into each muffin C.. Slice 1-2 peaches into thin slices. Arrange about 3 slices into the bottom of each muffin pan. To make the cake batter: Cut the remaining peaches into small cubes. You should get about 1 C. of cubed peaches. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a mixing bowl with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla extract and beat it for another 2-3 minutes, or until well combined. The mixture should be fluffy and white. (Note: It’s totally normal for the mixture to curdle right after adding egg, but keep mixing and it’ll turn nice and fluffy!) Add half of the flour mixture into the batter, beat for 1 minute on low speed. Stir in the buttermilk and beat for another minute. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat just until combined. Don’t overmix the batter, or it’ll make tough cake. Fold in the cubed peaches. Divide the batter into 12 muffin pan C..  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pan for 5 minutes. Then carefully run a butter knife around the edges to release the cake from the sides. Now, place a wire rack over the muffin pan and carefully turn the pan upside down to remove the cakes. Place an empty baking sheet to catch any juice, if needed. Cool the cakes completely before serving.

Holiday Eggnog Cake with Apricot Filling

Holiday Eggnog Cake with Apricot Filling

holiHoliday Eggnog Cake with Apricot Filling

 

1 package (18.25) yellow or vanilla cake mix, plain or with pudding

1 1/4 cups eggnog

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

4 large eggs

3 T. bourbon (optional), for brushing the tops of the cake layers

 

1 jar (10 ounces) apricot all-fruit spread

1 T. bourbon or water

Spiced cream cheese frosting:

4 T. (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature

4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature

3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Heaping 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

 

Place rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly mist three 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable oil spray, then dust them with flour. Shake out the excess flour; set pans aside. Place the cake mix, eggnog, oil, vanilla, nutmeg and the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are incorporated, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat for two minutes longer, scraping down the side of the bowl again, if needed. The batter should look well blended. Divide the cake batter evenly among the three prepared cake pans, about 11/2 cups of batter per pan, smoothing the tops with the rubber spatula. Place the pans in the oven. If your oven is not large enough to hold three pans on the center rack, place two pans on that rack and one in the center of the rack above. Bake the cake layers until they are golden brown and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a finger, 18 to 20 minutes. The cake layer on the higher rack may bake faster, so it for doneness first. Transfer to wire racks and let cool for 5 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of each cake layer and give the pans a good shake to loosen the cakes. Invert each layer onto a wire rack, then invert it again onto another rack so that the cakes are right side up. If desired, brush the cakes with the 3 T. of bourbon, using 1 T. for each; set aside to cool, 15 minutes longer. Meanwhile, make the filling: Place the fruit spread and 1 T. of bourbon or water in a small bowl and stir until well combined.  Make the spiced cream frosting: Place the butter and cream cheese in a medium-size bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until well combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the confectioners’ sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon and beat with the mixer on low speed until the ingredients are well incorporated and the frosting has a spreading consistency, 1 to 2 minutes. To assemble cake, transfer one layer, right side up, to a cake plate. Spread half of the filling to the edge of the first layer, about 1/2 heaping cup. Place a second cake layer, right side up, on top of the first and spread the remaining filling over it. Place the third layer on top, right side up, and frost the top and side of cake, working with smooth, clean strokes. To make slicing easier, place the uncovered cake in the refrigerator until the frosting sets, 20 minutes. Store in a cake saver or loosely covered with waxed paper in the refrigerator for up to one week. Freeze the cake, wrapped in aluminum foil, for up to six months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Rhubarb and Spruce Tip Galette

Rhubarb and Spruce Tip Galette

Rhubarb and Spruce Tip Gazette

pastry for a single crust pie

4 C. (550gms) rhubarb, cut in ½ inch (1cm) pieces

2/3 cup (140gms) + 1 tsp. sugar, divided

1/8 tsp. salt

¼ cup (4 T.) chopped spruce tips (*or see variations below)

3 T. cornstarch

1 T. butter

2-3 tsp. almond milk, dairy milk, or water

 

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Roll out the pastry dough between two sheets of parchment paper, into a 12″ (30cm) circle. (See the bottom of this post for a good tip on how to roll between paper.) Peel off the top layer of paper and discard it. Transfer the bottom layer of parchment, with the pastry circle still attached, to a baking sheet – a pizza pan works really well for this. Set the pan with the pastry crust into the fridge to chill while you make the filling. Cut the rhubarb into ½ inch (1cm) slices. Clean the brown papery husk off the spruce tips and chop the spruce tips coarsely. Place the rhubarb and spruce tips into a bowl. Add the salt, cornstarch, and sugar. Toss to combine everything well. Scrape the mixture into a pile on top of the pastry circle in the pan. The sugar and cornstarch will settle between the rhubarb chunks. Level the rhubarb chunks into a neat circle, leaving a 2 inch (5cm) border of pastry uncovered. Very carefully fold up the pastry border, pulling up on the parchment paper to help lift the pastry. Pleat the pastry and press the folds gently down onto the rhubarb filling as you go around the circle. Dot the filling with little bits of the butter. Brush the pastry border with the milk and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tsp. of sugar. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the pastry is golden. Remove the galette from the oven and leave it to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Leaking bits of filling are normal with galettes, and add to their rustic charm. If there’s a big puddle of liquid that has leaked out, try to scrape some of it up with a tsp. and drizzle it back onto the center of the galette. Gently slide the galette with the paper onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or let cool completely.  If letting the galette cool, remove it from the paper to the cooling rack. To do this, slide a thin metal spatula between the galette and the paper and run it all the way around the galette to make sure it isn’t sticking to the paper anywhere. Then slightly lift one side of the galette with the spatula and pull the parchment paper out from underneath, leaving the galette resting on the cooling rack. Leave it there until it is completely cool. This helps the bottom crust to stay crisp. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream, if desired.

 

*Rhubarb Basil Galette: replace the spruce tips with 2 T. chopped fresh basil. Another winning combination.

 

*Plain Rhubarb Galette: replace the spruce tips with 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract. Simple and delicious.

Banana Bread Sheet Cake

Banana Bread Sheet Cake

Banana Bread Sheet Cake

 

3 – 4 ripe bananas (mashed about 1 1/2 cups)

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup butter (at room temp)

2 eggs

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

3 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup milk

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 baking dish. Set aside. With a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, mixing in one at a time. Then add the vanilla and mix until smooth. In a separate large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a separate small bowl mix together the milk and sour cream. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, followed by 1/3 of the milk/sour cream mixture and repeat until it is all combined. To this batter add the mashed bananas and mini chocolate chips, then combine. Pour the batter into your 9×13 baking dish. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. (Check your cake after 30 minutes to see how it is baking.) Cool and enjoy!

Spruce Chocolate Mousse

Spruce Chocolate Mousse

Spruce Chocolate Mousse

5 ounces unsweetened chocolate chopped

1 ounce unsalted butter

3 large eggs separated

8 ounces heavy cream

¼ cup plus 2 T. caramelized spruce syrup

1/8 tsp. salt

 

Whisk the egg yolks and ¼ cup of the spruce syrup over a double boiler until doubled in volume, then reserve. Combine the whites with the 2 T. of syrup and whisk in a double boiler until soft peaks form, then remove from the heat and whisk to full volume by hand. In a separate bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks and reserve. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler, then mix with the egg yolk mixture. Fold ¼ of the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk-chocolate mixture until combined, then mix in the rest. Finally, gently fold in the cream until just incorporated. Put the mixture into a piping bag with a fluted tip, then pipe into dishes and chill until ready to serve. It can also be scooped with a disher or scoop dipped in hot water. Notes: Yield: roughly 4 C., enough to serve 8-10 people a small scoop. This is rich stuff.

Almond Flour Sponge Cake

Almond Flour Sponge Cake

Almond Flour Sponge Cake

 

Makes 2 sheet cakes (13 BY 17 BY 3⁄8 INCH), 1 sheet cake (13 BY 17 BY ¾ INCH), or 2 round cakes (9 BY 1 INCH). Butter and flour if using round pans.

 

1½ cups almond flour

½ cup plus 1 T. cake flour

¾ cup granulated sugar

4 eggs

6 egg whites

Pinch of cream of tartar, unless using a copper bowl

Confectioners’ sugar, if making a sheet cake

 

If you are making round cakes, preheat the oven to 350°F and butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. If you are making sheet cakes, preheat the oven to 375°F and line two 13 by 17-inch sheet pans with parchment. Combine the almond flour, cake flour, and ½ cup of the granulated sugar in a food processor. With the motor running, add the eggs, 2 at a time, until the mixture is smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl large enough to hold all the batter. Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar (if using) on medium-high speed in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment for about 2 minutes or with a handheld mixer for about 3 minutes, or until medium peaks form. Add the remaining granulated sugar and beat on high speed for 1 to 5 minutes longer (depending on what kind of mixer you are using), until stiff peaks form. Mix one-fourth of the egg white mixture into the almond mixture until smooth, to lighten the mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold this mixture with the remaining egg white mixture. Transfer the batter to the cake pans or sheet pans. If you are using sheet pans, spread the batter with an offset spatula and run your thumb around the edges to make a small moat to keep the edges of the cakes from sticking to the pans. Bake round cakes for about 25 minutes, or until they bounce back to the touch. Bake sheet cakes for about 15 minutes, or until firm and they bounce back to the touch. If you are baking sheet cakes, sprinkle 2 sheets of parchment paper as large as the sheet pan with confectioners’ sugar. Run a knife around the edges of the cakes to make it easier to get them out of the sheet pans. Quickly flip out the cakes over the parchment paper as soon as they come out of the oven by placing the cakes right next to the parchment. Peel away the cooked parchment from the bottoms of the cakes. Cut the cakes into rounds or rectangles and layer them with the same fillings you’d use for a sponge cake. If you are baking round cakes, let them cool for 5 minutes in the cake pans and then turn out onto cake racks.

Apple Yogurt Cake with a Cinnamon-Sugar Streak

Apple Yogurt Cake with a Cinnamon-Sugar Streak

Apple Yogurt Cake with a Cinnamon-Sugar Streak

 

Cooking spray or olive oil

1 1/2 cups whole regular or Greek yogurt, well-stirred

1 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 large eggs

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 pounds apples (preferably tart, such as Granny Smith)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

Pinch freshly ground nutmeg

2 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided

1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar

2 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature

 

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9×13-inch baking pan with baking spray or olive oil. Place the yogurt, granulated sugar, oil, lemon juice, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Peel and core the apples, then chop into rough 1/2-inch chunks. (Do not grate the apples or the batter will be too wet.) You should end up with 4 to 4 1/2 cups of apples. Add the apples to the yogurt mixture and stir to combine. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp. of the cinnamon. Stir just until no dry pockets of flour remain; set aside. Place the remaining 2 tsp. cinnamon, brown sugar, and butter in a small bowl and smash with a rubber spatula to combine.  Pour 1/2 of the batter into the pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the cinnamon-brown sugar mixture on top, dropping it on the batter in small lumps. Spread the rest of the batter over the top, then sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-brown sugar. Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, covering with aluminum foil toward the end if the top is browning too much, 45 to 55 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack and let it cool for at least 1 hour. Cut and serve the cake warm or at room temperature. Storage: This cake can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 4 days, and it gets even more moist as it sits, due to the apples.

Quick Caramelized Spruce Tip Syrup

Quick Caramelized Spruce Tip Syrup

Quick Caramelized Spruce Tip Syrup

This is not true mugolio, but it only takes a few minutes to make, instead of a month. Use it to flavor ice cream, panna cotta, cheesecake, a mousse, Italian meringue, there’s plenty of possibilities. One of my favorites is the way the French serve their fresh cheese-with a little drizzle on top.

 

4 packed C. spruce tips

2 C. sugar

2 C. water

Instructions

 

Grind the spruce tips and sugar in a food processor, then mix with the water, bring to a rolling boil, turn off the heat and allow to sit overnight. The next day, strain the syrup, then return it to the pan, cooking until it takes on a light amber color and the consistency resembles warm honey. Transfer the syrup to labeled, dated container and refrigerate until needed. If the syrup becomes very thick when it’s cold, thin it with a bit of cold water until it reaches your desired consistency.

Vitamix Green Apple Ice Cream

Vitamix Green Apple Ice Cream

Vitamix Green Apple Ice Cream

 

6 ounces (180 g) frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed

2 banana, peeled, halved

1½ cup (60 g) fresh spinach

4 cups (520 g) ice cubes

 

Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid. Select Variable 1. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High. Use the tamper to press the ingredients into the blades. In about 40 seconds, the sound of the motor will change and four mounds should form. Stop machine. Do not over mix or melting will occur. Serve immediately.

White Chocolate Cranberry Tart

White Chocolate Cranberry Tart

White Chocolate Cranberry Tart

 

crust

1 1/2 C. gluten-free oats

1/2 C. almonds

5 tbsp coconut oil (melted)

2 tbsp maple syrup

 

cranberry layer

2 C. cranberries (fresh or frozen)

1 C. water

1/4 C. maple syrup

1 tsp agar agar

 

white chocolate layer

â…” C. coconut milk

â…“ C. cashew pulp (optional)

1 C. cashews (soaked overnight)

¾ C. cacao butter

¼ C. maple syrup

Pinch of salt

Optional: 4 tbsp vegan white chocolate

 

For the crust add oats and almonds into a food processor. Pulse until combined and add maple syrup and coconut oil. Process into a moist mixture. Firmly press dough into the tart and press up on the sides as well. Bake at 350F for about 10-15 minutes until crust appears golden brown. Let sit for about 5-10 minutes and then transfer onto a cooling rack.  In a small saucepan add cranberries, water and maple syrup. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes over low-medium heat until cranberries have broken down. With a hand mixer puree cranberries and add a little bit of water if sauce is too thick. Add 1 tsp of agar agar powder and simmer for another 5 minutes over low-medium heat. Set aside to cool for a couple minutes, then spread cranberry jam/sauce into the crust (½ way full) and let set in the fridge for another 15 minutes. In the meantime prepare the white chocolate layer. Melt white chocolate and cacao butter in a small saucepan over low heat and set aside.  In a food processor or high speed blender add cashews, maple syrup, coconut milk and cashew pulp. Process until completely smooth. Add melted chocolate/cacao butter and process until combined. Pour white chocolate mixture into the tart and let set in the refrigerator for about 2-3 hours. Garnish with cranberries and white chocolate chips and serve immediately. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

 

Cast Iron Peach Upside Down Cake

Cast Iron Peach Upside Down Cake

Cast Iron Peach Upside Down Cake

 

1stick butter

2 eggs

1½ cups sugar

2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 cup milk

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

 

Cream butter, eggs, sugar, and salt together. Add flour, baking powder alternately with milk; beat until fluffy. Add vanilla. Put a layer (¼”) of brown sugar in cast iron skillet. Lay peach halves over brown sugar (round side up). Pour batter over and bake in oven at 350°F for 55-60 minutes. Insert toothpick to check for doneness. To remove from pan, lay a flat plate over top of baked cake and flop cake onto platter. Any kind of fruit can be used.

Cinnamon Roll Cake

Cinnamon Roll Cake

Cinnamon Roll Cake

 

3 C. all-purpose flour

1 C. white granulated sugar

4 tsp. baking powder

2 large eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 C. milk

1/2 C. salted butter (1 stick) melted

 

3/4 C. (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter softened to room temp (1/2 C. will be lighter and still taste yum)

1 C. packed light brown sugar

2 T. flour

1 T. ground cinnamon

 

2 C. powdered sugar

5 T. milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

 

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray (I like the kind that has flour in it.) In a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer), combine ingredients for cake (except melted butter). While your mixer is running, slowly add the 1/2 C. melted butter. Mix just until combined (overmixing flour in baked goods can make it tough and rubbery.) Spread this batter evenly into your baking dish. In a small bowl, combine all your filling ingredients: softened butter, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Stir until combined well. Drop the cinnamon filling by spoonfuls onto the cake batter. Take a butter knife and make swirly, marble-effect patterns all around the cake. Drag the knife through both the cinnamon and cake batter. Bake the cake for about 35-40 minutes (it took about 40 minutes in my oven), until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Whisk together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract in small bowl. Pour the glaze over the warm cake.

Vanilla Pudding

Vanilla Pudding

Vanilla Pudding

 

⅓ cup granulated sugar

3 T. cornstarch

⅛ tsp. salt

2-¼ C. whole milk

2 large egg yolks

1 T. unsalted butter

1-½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

 

In a medium saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, milk, and egg yolks. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally (every minute or two), until the mixture is bubbling all throughout (this took 7-8 minutes for mine). Once bubbling, continue cooking for one to two additional minutes, whisking once or twice, but not too vigorously (this can break down the binding properties). At this point the pudding should be thickened but still pourable, it will thicken more as it cools. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla extract.  OPTIONAL, to remove lumps: Place a fine mesh strainer over a large heatproof bowl. Pour the mixture through the strainer and into the bowl. Skip this step if you don’t notice any lumps in your pudding. Transfer the pudding into a large bowl or into individual serving bowls. Cool until it is lukewarm, then cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for several hours or until chilled.

Green Apple Gelato

Green Apple Gelato

Green Apple Gelato

 

3 Granny Smith Apples (cored and grated, with skin on)

2 cup ml Cream

1 cup Milk

4 Egg Yolks

1/2 Caster Sugar

2 tablespoons Lemon Juice

 

Place the cream and milk in a saucepan, heat until just below boiling point. In a mixing bowl, beat together the egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale. Whisk 2 tablespoons of the hot cream and milk into the egg mixture. Slowly add the rest of the cream and milk, whisking as you go. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring for 8 minutes or until the mixture coats the back of the spoon. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until cool. Place the lemon juice in a bowl and combine with the apple. Add the cooled cream mixture, ensuring it is well combined. Pour into an ice-cream maker and make according to manufacturer’s instructions. Alternatively, pour mixture into a metal bowl and place in the freezer for 2 hours or until set around the edges, but soft in the middle. Beat with an electric mixer and return to the freezer until firm.

Fluffy Banana Cake

Fluffy Banana Cake

Fluffy Banana Cake

 

1 ⅓ cup mashed bananas

2 ½ T. lemon juice divided

1 ½ C. milk

3 C. flour

1 ½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

⅔ cup butter softened

1 cup white sugar

½ cup brown sugar

3 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

 

8 ounces cream cheese

⅓ cup butter softened

3-3 ½ C. powdered sugar

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 ½ tsp. lemon zest from 1 lemon

 

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan. Place 1 ½ T. lemon juice in a measuring cup. Top to 1 ½ C. with milk. Set aside. Mix together mashed banana with 1 T. lemon juice, set aside. Beat together butter, brown and white sugar until combined. Add in eggs one at a time and vanilla. Mix on high until light and fluffy (almost the texture of frosting). Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Alternate adding flour mixture and milk to egg mixture stirring just until combined. (Do not overmix). Fold in bananas. Pour into prepared pan. Put into the oven and reduce heat to 300°F. Bake 60 – 70 minutes (see note below) or just until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (do not over bake). Remove from oven and place in the freezer for 45 minutes to make the cake extra moist. Cool completely before frosting. FROSTING: Cream together butter & cream cheese until fluffy. Add in lemon zest and juice. Add powdered sugar a little at a time until you reach desired consistency. Spread over cooled cake.  Note: The cooking time on this cake can vary! Mine takes about 60 minutes. Check your cake at 55 minutes, if it isn’t ready, continue cooking until a toothpick comes out clean (this can be up to an additional 20-30 minutes depending on your oven).

Addictive Salted Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Cookies

Addictive Salted Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Cookies

Addictive Salted Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Cookies

 

6 T. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 C. semisweet chocolate chips

3 large eggs

½ C. granulated sugar

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/2 C. plus 2 T. all-purpose flour

2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Canola oil or nonstick cooking spray, for greasing

24 to 28 milk chocolate caramels (I like Dove)

Flaky sea salt, for topping

 

Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, bittersweet chocolate, and chocolate chips. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until fully melted and combined—the chocolate will be thick. Remove the pan from the heat and let the chocolate cool slightly. In a small bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together on high until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and the melted chocolate mixture and beat for 1 to 2 minutes more, until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and kosher salt and beat until fully combined and smooth, about 3 minutes. The batter should be thick but pourable. Cover the bowl and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour or up to overnight. Scoop out scant 2 T. of dough and place them about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Grease your hands with a little canola oil or cooking spray, then flatten the dough into small disks, about 2 inches in diameter, and place a caramel in the center. Scoop out a rounded tsp. of dough and flatten into it into a disk. Place the disk over the caramel, pinching the layers of dough together. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until just set on the edges. Remove from the oven and sprinkle each cookie with a little flaky salt. Let cool for at least 5 minutes on the baking sheet before serving.

Basic Sponge Cake (Genoise)

Basic Sponge Cake (Genoise)

Basic Sponge Cake (Genoise)

3 eggs room temperature

70 g (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp) sugar

100 g (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) cake flour

45 g unsalted butter melted

butter, parchment and flour for prepping the cake pan

 

Preheat the oven to 350ºF/175ºC. Trace and cut out a circle of parchment, grease the cake pan with butter, insert the parchment cut out and dust with flour. Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together until the mixture triples in volume, reaching the ribbon stage. The ribbon stage is attained when you test the batter and it temporarily holds a shape. Sift the flour and fold it into the egg mixture in stage until incorporated. In a separate bowl, ladle out a portion of the batter and fold it with the melted butter. Return the buttery batter to the main mixing bowl and gently fold it with the remaining batter. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 30 minutes. Check for doneness by inspecting to see if the edges have sprung away from the pan or by inserting a toothpick into the center. Allow it to cool on a wire rack for ten minutes before removing from the pan. Note: Genoise cakes are dryer than many sponge cakes. You can add moistness and flavor with a simple syrup of choice.

Lemon Squares

Lemon Squares

Lemon Squares

 

2 cups flour, plus 1/4 cup

½ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus 2 tsp.

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted

4 eggs

2 cups granulated sugar

â…“ cup lemon juice (from about 1 to 2 lemons)

½ tsp. baking powder

 

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together two cups of flour, 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar and the salt. Add the melted butter and stir the ingredients to thoroughly combine them. Spread the crust with clean hands in an even layer into a 9-by-13-inch pan and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, lemon juice, baking powder and the remaining flour. Pour the lemon mixture onto the hot baked shell and bake it for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is just set. Using a small, fine-meshed sieve, sift the remaining confectioners’ sugar on top of the lemon squares once they have cooled. Cut the dessert into equal-sized bars.

Peach Bubble Cake

Peach Bubble Cake

Peach Bubble Cake

 

1 pound fresh or frozen peach slices

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. cornstarch

2 T. salted butter

 

½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, at room

temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1½ tsp. baking powder

½ cup milk

 

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. To make the peach filling, place the peach slices in the bottom of a 9-inch pie dish or 8-by-8-inch casserole dish. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over the peaches and toss to coat. Cut the butter into small chunks and sprinkle it over the peaches. Bake the peaches for 30 minutes. While the peaches are baking, prepare the cake topping: In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and granulated sugar until the mixture is light and creamy in texture, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat again until smooth. In a separate small bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Slowly beat half of the flour mixture into the butter mixture, and then beat in half of the milk. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and milk. Briefly stir the peaches to redistribute the sugar and butter mixture. Pour the cake batter over the top, making sure to evenly cover all the peaches. Place the dish on a baking sheet to catch any filling that may bubble up and out while baking. Bake the cake for 35 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown on top and the peach filling is bubbling up around the edges.

Lemon Lavender Sweet Rolls with Lemon Mascarpone Frosting

Lemon Lavender Sweet Rolls with Lemon Mascarpone Frosting

Lemon Lavender Sweet Rolls with Lemon Mascarpone Frosting

 

¼ cups warm water (about 110°F)

2¼ tsp. active dry yeast

1 cup granulated sugar, divided

3 large eggs

½ cups buttermilk, at room temperature

1½ tsp. sea salt, divided

4½ cups all-purpose flour, divided

8 T. melted unsalted butter, divided

2 T. lemon zest

½ tsp. ground cardamom

1 T. dried culinary lavender

Lemon Mascarpone Frosting (recipe below)

 

Lemon Mascarpone Frosting

 

¾ cups mascarpone cheese

1½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1½ tsp. lemon zest

3 T. fresh lemon juice

3 T. milk

 

In a small bowl, whisk together warm water and yeast. When yeast is dissolved, whisk in ½ tsp. granulated sugar. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, until mixture foams up. Meanwhile, in the bowl of standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk eggs to combine; add buttermilk and whisk to combine. Add in yeast mixture, ¼ cup sugar, and 1¼ tsp. sea salt. Remove bowl from mixer and add about 2 cups flour and 6 T. melted butter. Stir with a rubber spatula until evenly moistened and combined. Add 2 more cups of flour, return bowl to the mixer, switch to the dough hook attachment, and knead with dough hook at low speed for 5 minutes. Touch the dough; if it is sticky, continue to run the mixer on low speed for up to five minutes more and add more flour, a T. at a time, until the dough is soft and moist, but no longer sticks to your fingers. The dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl, but stick to the bottom. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface; knead by hand about 1 minute to ensure that dough is uniform. If it sticks to your work surface, knead in more flour, a T. at a time, until it no longer sticks and all the flour is kneaded in. Spray a plastic mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray and place the ball of dough into the bowl. Spray the top of the dough with cooking spray then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Set the bowl in a warm, draft-free area until it has doubled in volume, about 2 hours. Brush the bottom and sides of a 13×9-inch baking pan with 1 T. of melted butter. Turn the dough ball out onto a work surface and pat it into a rectangular shape. Roll the dough into a 16×12-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the remaining 1 T. of melted butter, leaving about ½-inch of dough unbuttered at the top edge. Combine remaining ¾ cup sugar, lemon zest, cardamom, and ¼ tsp. sea salt in a small mixing bowl and mix together with your fingers, rubbing between your fingers to get the oils out of the lemon zest and release the flavor. Sprinkle evenly over the buttered surface, leaving about ¾-inch uncovered on the top edge. Sprinkle evenly with lavender. Gently press everything into the dough, then roll into a tight cylinder. Pinch the seam of the dough to seal it, then stretch the roll to about 18 inches length and adjust the roll to make sure the thickness is uniform all the way down. Slice into 12 even rounds. Place buns, cut side down, into your buttered 13×9-inch baking pan. There should be some space between the rolls. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and set it in a warm, draft-free area until the rolls get puffy and press against each other, about 1½ hours. Meanwhile, adjust your oven rack to its lowest position, place a baking or pizza stone on the rack (optional), and heat the oven to 350°F. Place your baking pan on the pizza stone (or directly onto the rack). Bake until rolls are golden brown on top, about 25-30 minutes. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes. When the rolls are still warm, spread Lemon Mascarpone Frosting on the top of the rolls. Serve warm. Lemon Mascarpone Frosting While the rolls are cooling, make the glaze. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the mascarpone cheese with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 1 minute. When the mascarpone is lump-free, gradually add in confectioners’ sugar with the mixer on low speed. Add the lemon zest, turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat until creamy. Turn the mixer back to low, and slowly add the lemon juice and milk, beating until the frosting is uniform. It should be somewhat thin, but not runny.

Lemon Mascarpone Sticky Buns

Lemon Mascarpone Sticky Buns

Lemon Mascarpone Sticky Buns

 

¾ C. Whole Milk

1/3 C. granulated Sugar

1 T. active drive yeast

2 large Eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces

 

1/2 cup butter, melted, plus extra for brushing

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 T. freshly grated lemon zest

Pinch of cardamom

Pinch of salt

8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

 

8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest

4-5 T. milk

 

In a saucepan, heat the milk over medium-low heat until just warm, 105 to 110°F. Stir in 1 T. of the granulated sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and let sit for 5 minutes, or until foamy. Whisk in the eggs until smooth. Whisk in the vanilla and lemon zest. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, remaining granulated sugar, and salt. Slowly add the milk mixture, mixing on low speed until combined. Add the butter 1 piece at a time, beating until combined. Mix on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, or until the dough is silky and smooth. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, then cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 1 to 2 hours in a warm spot, or until doubled in size.

On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about 18″ x 12″.

 

Brush 1/2 cup of the melted butter all over the dough. In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar, lemon zest, cardamom, and salt. Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1″ border around the edges. Drop dollops of the mascarpone all over the dough. Tightly roll the dough up from 1 of the long ends into along log. Slice into approximately 1″ rounds. Place the rounds in a buttered 13″ x 9″ baking dish. Brush with additional melted butter and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 3 50°F. Bake the buns, uncovered, for 45 to 50 minutes, covering them with foil if they start to brown too much. You want the bottom to be bubbling and the buns to be

set.

 

In a large bowl, whisk the mascarpone until creamy. Whisk in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest. Gradually stream in the milk and stir until a glaze forms. You will have to stir for a minute or 2 to remove any lumps and bring the glaze together. If the mixture still seems too thick, add more milk 1 T. at a time, whisking well until smooth. Pour over the hot sticky buns. Serve immediately!

Apple Crumb Bars

Apple Crumb Bars

Apple Crumb Bars

 

2 T. butter

7 C. peeled and sliced apples (about 7 medium sized apples)

¼ cup apple cider or juice

1 T. cornstarch

2 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. nutmeg

½ tsp. salt

 

1 ¼ C. flour

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup sugar

1 ½ C. oats

¼ tsp. salt

10 T. butter, chilled and cubed

 

vanilla ice cream – for serving, optional

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and set aside. In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, melt the butter and add the apples. Stir to coat the apples with the melted butter. Mix the apple cider or juice with the cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt until the cornstarch is dissolved. Stir into the apples and reduce heat to medium. Continue cooking until the apples begin to soften, about 5 – 7 minutes. Set aside. Meanwhile, in a food processor add the flour, sugars, oats, and salt and pulse 4 – 6 times or until the still has some whole oats in it. Do not pulse until the mixture is fine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly with pieces about the size of marbles. In the prepared baking pan, add one-half of the crumb mixture and press down. Layer the apples on top and sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture and press down lightly. Bake for 30 minutes. Increase oven to 425 degrees and continue baking until the top of the bars are golden brown, about another 10 – 15 minutes. Let cool and cut into bars. Serve alone or topped with vanilla ice cream.

Prickly Pear Pavlova

Prickly Pear Pavlova

Prickly Pear Pavlova

Prickly Pear Curd

 

1 1/2 pounds prickly pear fruit (approximately 6)

1 cup granulated sugar

4 large egg yolks (reserve egg whites for meringues)

2 large eggs

1/8 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. finely grated lime zest

2 T. fresh lime juice

1 T. unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces

 

Cut the prickly pears in half. Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh and seeds into a medium nonreactive saucepan. Stir in 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar. Place over low heat. As the sugar starts to dissolve, press the fruit with a potato masher to release its juices. Cook until the mixture begins to simmer and the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing gently on the solids to extract all the juices. Discard the solids. You should have 3/4 to 1 cup juice. Fill a medium saucepan with 2 inches of water and place over low heat. Bring to a simmer. Whisk together the egg yolks, whole eggs, remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and salt in a bowl large enough to rest inside the saucepan without touching the water. Whisk in the prickly pear liquid, lime zest, and lime juice. Stir in the butter with a wooden spoon. Place the bowl over the simmering water. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thickened and smooth, about 10 minutes. Strain the prickly pear curd through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the curd and refrigerate until completely chilled, 4 hours or overnight.  Note:  Use a wooden spoon rather than a whisk to stir the curd. A whisk will prevent it from thickening properly

 

for the meringues

 

2 tsp. cornstarch

3/4 cup superfine sugar

Reserved 4 large egg whites, at room temperature

1 tsp. white vinegar

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

 

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 200°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and spray with nonstick vegetable cooking spray. Combine the cornstarch with 2 tsp. of the superfine sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.  Place the egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Beat the egg whites on high until they become frothy. Begin adding the remaining superfine sugar, 2 T. at a time, beating for 45 seconds between additions. The last addition will be the cornstarch-sugar mixture. Turn the mixer to low and beat in the vinegar and vanilla. Raise the mixer speed to high and beat for 1 more minute. The mixture should hold a very stiff peak. Divide the meringue mixture into 8 mounds, spaced evenly apart, on the prepared baking sheet. Spread each mound into a 4-inch circle with a slight indentation in the center. The back of a soup spoon works well for this. Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the meringues are dry to the touch. Place on a wire rack to cool. They will crisp up further as they cool. Use immediately or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

 

for the pavlova

 

1 cup heavy cream

1 T. granulated sugar

1/8 tsp. kosher salt

4 blood oranges, peeled and segments separated Zest from 2 limes

 

Combine the cream, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip the mixture just until it forms soft peaks. Divide the whipped cream among the meringues, spreading just to the edges. Divide the prickly pear curd among the meringues. Arrange the blood orange segments over the curd and sprinkle with the lime zest. Serve immediately.

Easy Pumpkin Pie Twists

Easy Pumpkin Pie Twists

Easy Pumpkin Pie Twists

 

1 tube refrigerated crescent roll dough

1/2 C. pumpkin puree

1/4 C. brown sugar

1 T. maple syrup

1 tsp. pumpkin spice

2 T. melted butter

1 T. sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

whipped cream for dipping

 

Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, maple syrup and pumpkin spice. Unroll crescent dough on a cutting board. Cut the dough in half so you have two identical rectangles and lay them beside each other. Evenly spread the pumpkin mixture over one of the rectangles of dough. Place the second rectangle of dough on top of the first rectangle of dough (so the pumpkin mixture is sandwiched between them). Make sure you line up all the edges. Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into strips approximately 3/4 inch wide. Transfer the strips to the parchment lined baking sheet. Twist each strip by picking up one end and twisting it twice, then picking up the other end and twisting it another 2 or 3 times. Brush melted butter generously over each twist. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon then sprinkle evenly over each twist. Bake at 375F for 8-11 minutes until golden brown.

Apple Core Syrup

Apple Core Syrup

Apple Core Syrup

 

Cores from 5 to 7 apples, no need to remove the seeds (peels if you have them)

1 C. granulated sugar

1/2 C. lightly packed light or dark brown sugar

 

To make the syrup: Place the cores (and peels, if using), the granulated sugar, and the brown sugar in a medium-size saucepan with 1 C. water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat, and allow the mixture to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cores are softened and the syrup smells fragrant, 20 to 30 minutes.  Strain out the cores and return the syrup to the pan to keep it warm with the residual heat until you’re ready to eat. If you’d like it to be thicker, bring it back up to a boil, then reduce the heat, and allow the mixture to simmer until it is reduced and thickened to your liking.

Baked Eggnog Donuts with Eggnog Glaze

Baked Eggnog Donuts with Eggnog Glaze

Baked Eggnog Donuts with Eggnog Glaze

 

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup Traditional Eggnog

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 egg

2 T. melted butter

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Eggnog Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

2 T. Traditional Eggnog

 

Christmas Sprinkles to taste

 

Preheat oven to 375F and grease a donut pan with butter or oil. In a medium-large bowl combine the dry ingredients (whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt). In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggnog, maple syrup, egg, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients. Spoon or pipe the batter into the donut holes. Bake for 9-11 minutes until inserted toothpick comes out clean and donuts are fully set. Wait about an hour to let the donuts fully cool to room temperature. Then, mix the powdered sugar with the eggnog to make the glaze. Dip donuts in the glaze and then add sprinkles. Eat immediately or store in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat!

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

1 ½ C. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

½ cup unsalted butter see notes below room temperature, use vegan butter for vegan option

½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar

6 T. sugar

1 ripe banana large & mashed well

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 ¼ C. Milk Chocolate Chips

 

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with non-stick spray. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda and salt together. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat together the butter, and sugars about 2 minutes and is smooth. Add the mashed banana and vanilla and mix on low speed until mixed in. Gradually add the flour mixture and mix in until just incorporated. Do not keep mixing – do not overmix. Add chocolate chips and stir with a wooden spoon, again no overmixing, just until incorporated. Chill dough if dough is warm. Using a small or large ice cream scoop or heaping T., drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, 6 to 8 per pan, depending on size you are making. Bake the cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until the bottoms and edges are lightly browned and the tops feel firm when lightly touched, Small cookies bake 8-10 minutes Large cookies bake 10-13 minutes. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Makes 18 -30 cookies depending on size. NOTES: Butter Tips: To avoid flat cookies: Be sure your butter is room temp (not melted or even softened) and try using cold/chilled dough if dough is warm: Just put it in the refrigerator to chill before baking. Flour Tips: Don’t over-mix cookie batter especially after the flour is added and add it gradually. Make sure your baking soda is not expired. Chocolate Chip Tips: If you’re in chocoholic mode, go the full 2 ¼ C. of chocolate chips as the recipe calls out. If you want to tone down the chocolate chips, just use a lesser amount to your liking.

Quick Old-Fashioned Pear Cake

Quick Old-Fashioned Pear Cake

Quick Old-Fashioned Pear Cake

 

1 1/2 cups flour, stir to lighten, then measure, (plus additional, below)

3 T. cornstarch

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

3/4 cup sugar (plus additional, below)

3 extra large eggs

5 T. butter, room temperature

1 tsp. pear brandy, vanilla or almond extract

1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature

4 pears, peeled, two in chunks, 2 in 3/8″ slices (make sure pears are fully ripe)

2 T. flour (for pear chunks)

2 T. sugar (sprinkle on top)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9″ spring form pan. In a medium bowl, sift together dry ingredients: flour, cornstarch, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and 3/4 cup sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add brandy or extract of choice. Next add the dry ingredients, alternating with the sour cream: Add about 1/3 of the flour, then 1/2 of the sour cream, the next 1/3 of the flour mixture, the final bit of sour cream and then the remaining four mixture. Beat all additions on slow, as little as possible, scraping down after each addition. Toss pear chunks in the two T. flour, then gently mix in by hand, holding back about 5 or 6 chunks for the top. Scrape into prepared pan, level, and then top with the pear slices in a ring. Add the remaining chunks to the center. Sprinkle with the additional 2 T. sugar. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until the top just barely begins to color around the edges and edges are firm; it’s ok if the very center is just a little soft. Do not over bake. Remove from oven and rest 10 minutes, then run a knife around the sides and release the spring form. Cool and serve. Note: If using canned pears, add an additional T. of cornstarch to the batter.

Berry Berry Cool Pie

Berry Berry Cool Pie

Berry Berry Cool Pie

1 (14 oz.) can Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk

2 T. lemon juice

1 ½ C. assorted fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries or blackberries)

1 (8 oz.) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 (6 oz.) Keebler Ready Crust Graham Pie Crust

Mix together sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice in large bowl until blended. Stir in berries. Fold in whipped topping. Spoon into crust. Freeze 5 hours or until set. Let stand 30 to 40 minutes before serving. Garnish as desired. For Fudge Drizzle: Place 2 T. Smucker’s® Hot Fudge Topping in resealable plastic bag. Cut small piece off one corner. Drizzle topping over pie before serving.

Pistachio Cake with Pomegranate

Pistachio Cake with Pomegranate

Pistachio Cake with Pomegranate

100g green pistachios

35 grams of all-purpose flour for a dense nutty cake or 70 grams for a fluffier cake

1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature (8 TB)

100g caster sugar

zest of 1 lemon

2 eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted if organic

2 tablespoons of pomegranate arils, plus more for garnish

pinch of salt

drops of lemon juice

some green pistachios, chopped or kept whole

 

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a loaf pan with butter and flour. Pulse your pistachios with the flour until finely ground. Beat the butter for a few minutes then add the sugar and zest and beat until light and fluffy add eggs one at a time, while mixer is running and beat until combined. Add the pistachio and flour mixture, the salt and baking powder to the wet mix and fold with a spatula until combined. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until top springs back when pressed. If you are making the glaze: do so by pressing pomegranate arils through a sieve to release about 1/2 tablespoon of juice. Add the lemon juice, powdered sugar and the salt and mix to combine.  Once the cake is cool, drizzle with the glaze and top with pistachios and more arils.

Rhubarb Chess Pie

Rhubarb Chess Pie

Rhubarb Chess Pie

single-crust pie pastry

2 C. (½‑inch thick) slices rhubarb

1 ¼ C. granulated sugar (divided)

2 tsp. unsalted butter (at room temperature)

3–4 pinch kosher salt (divided)

4 large eggs (lightly beaten)

½ C. heavy cream

¼ C. melted unsalted butter

2 T. white vinegar

1 T. cornstarch

1 T. cornmeal

1 tsp. vanilla

 

Set oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400ºF. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out to a 12-inch circle, a generous ⅛‑inch thick. Carefully transfer the dough to a 9‑inch pie plate and gently press it up the sides. Drape any excess crust over the edge, then fold under and crimp decoratively. Use a fork to prick holes in the bottom of the dough. Line the dough with parchment or foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 8 minutes. Carefully remove the weights and parchment or foil, then continue baking for another 5 minutes, or until the crust is dry and pale colored. Remove from the oven and set aside on a rimmed baking sheet to cool. Meanwhile, toss together sliced rhubarb, ¼ C. granulated sugar, butter, and a big pinch of salt on a separate rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring once, until just tender, about 12 minutes. Scrape the rhubarb, and any juices, evenly across the bottom of the prepared pie pastry. Lower the oven temperature to 350ºF. In a large bowl whisk together eggs, remaining sugar, cream, melted butter, vinegar, cornstarch, cornmeal, vanilla and 2 or 3 big pinches of salt. Once well-combined pour the mixture over the rhubarb in the pie pastry. Place the pie, on the rimmed baking sheet, in the heated oven and bake for 40 minutes., or until the center of the pie is just set. If the crust get too brown lightly tent it with foil for the last 10 or 15 minutes of baking. Cool on a wire rack 2 hours. Cover and chill the pie at least 3 hours. Allow the pie to sit at room temperature 15 or 20 minutes before slicing.

Peach Tart with Basil and Mascarpone  

Peach Tart with Basil and Mascarpone  

Peach Tart with Basil and Mascarpone

1 C. mascarpone cheese

1/4 cream (possibly a bit more)

½ C. basil chiffonade (leaves rolled and cut into very thin ribbons) plus more sprigs for garnish

¾ C. sugar

1 1/4 C. all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons fine yellow cornmeal

1/4‑teaspoon salt

1 large egg yolk

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1/2‑teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

4 large peaches

 

Prepare Filling::  Using a hand mixer or whisk whip together the mascarpone cheese, cream, and 1/4‑C. sugar. Add the cream a little at a time. You are looking for a sour cream consistency, very smooth with no lumps. Mix in 1/4‑C. basil chiffonade at the very end until just incorporated. Refrigerate filling, covered, until you are ready to assemble the tart.

 

Make Tart Shell: Whisk together the flour with the cornmeal, and salt in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl mix egg yolk, cream, and vanilla. In a 3rd bowl cream the butter and 1/4 C. sugar together using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix them together on medium speed until they form a pale and fluffy paste, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk mixture and mix them together on medium-low speed until well combined. Working in 3 additions, add flour mixture to the bowl until just combined. I find these additions easier to work with using a wooden spoon so as not to over mix the dough. Working on a piece of plastic wrap shape the dough into an oblong shape that is roughly the size of your tart tin (13 3/4‑by‑4 1/4‑by-1-inch). Add an additional piece of plastic on top and roll a rolling pin over the top to form a smooth flat piece of dough about 1/4‑inch thick. Close up the plastic wrap and move dough to the refrigerator. Refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes, before using. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and peel off the top layer of plastic wrap. Invert the dough into the tart tin. It does not matter if it breaks or does not fit perfectly. Because you can press dough together and finish the shaping in the tart tin. The type with a removable bottom works best. Trim edges of dough flush with pan. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Bake about 18 minutes until golden and crisp. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

 

Make the Peaches: Peel the peaches. This can be accomplished easily if you blanch the peaches first. This will loosen their skin and the task is not nearly as messy as it would be with a knife.

Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl large enough for all the peaches. With a paring knife, lightly score an X onto the bottom of each peach. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Carefully drop the peaches into the water for 1 to 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, move the peaches into to an ice-water bath to stop the cooking. Once the peaches have cooled, the skin should peel off easily. You may need to get it started with a paring knife, but most of the skin can be removed with your hands. Cut the peaches in half and remove the pits. Cut each half into 4 or 5 evenly sized wedges. Stir together the peach wedges, remaining 1/4‑C. sugar, 1 tablespoon water, and remaining 1/4‑C. basil in a medium sized saucepan with a lid, set over medium heat. Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until the peaches have softened, become a uniform color and released their juices, about 6 minutes. Let the peaches cool completely in the syrup.

If necessary, right before assembling remove the peaches using a slotted spoon and continue to cook the juices until they have thickened to a syrup.

 

Assemble the Tart: Spoon mascarpone filling into tart shell. Top with the peaches in an attractive manner, spooning the thickened juices over the top. Garnish with more basil sprigs or leaves.

Rice Krispies Treats for Two

Rice Krispies Treats for Two

Rice Krispies Treats for Two

1 T. unsalted butter (1/2 oz)

1 C. tightly packed mini marshmallows

2 C. crisp rice cereal, such as Rice Krispies

Pinch fine sea salt

 

Line a 9-by-5-inch (23-by-13-cm) loaf pan with parchment paper or wax paper. If making the rice krispies treats for two in the microwave, place the butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on full power in 15-second increments, until the butter melts completely, 30 to 50 seconds. Add the marshmallows and microwave, again in 15-second increments, until the marshmallows melt, 25 to 50 seconds. Immediately stir the butter and marshmallows together very well. If making the rice krispies treats for two on the stovetop, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Immediately add the marshmallows and, working quickly, stir until melted and well blended. Remove from the heat. Add the pinch of salt and the cereal all at once to the melted marshmallow and butter goo. Stir, stir, stir until the cereal is completely coated. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan using buttered fingertips or a spatula. If you have the patience, let the treats cool slightly. Slice in half and devour. (Just to warn you, these are generous servings. But c’mon, since when did a little Rice Krispies treat ever satisfy your craving?!)

Milk and Honey Baklava

Milk and Honey Baklava

Milk and Honey Baklava

1/2 C. unsalted butter, cubed (this can be a rough cube, ain’t got to be perfect)

BAKLAVA:

1 C. walnuts

1 1/2 C. shelled pistachios

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 pound phyllo

SYRUP:

3/4 C. sweetened condensed milk

1/4 C. boiling water

2 T. honey

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

 

I used a 9×13-inch/quarter baking sheet. You can also use a baking dish or even a round cake pan (but you’ll have to cut the phyllo dough to shape).

 

CLARIFIED BUTTER: In a small saucepan, set over medium-low heat, add the butter. When the butter has melted it will begin to bubble and the milk solids will rise to the top. Using a spoon, skim the top of the melted butter and discard the milk solids. Run the butter through a small sieve or a cheese cloth to remove any excess milk solids. We want to do this so the butter doesn’t burn in the oven. Set the warm butter to the side.

 

TO MAKE THE BAKLAVA: My phyllo dough came in a 1 pound box. I used a pair of scissors and cut my phyllo dough in half (1/2 pound). (I saved the other half in the freezer for another time.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor, add the walnuts, pistachios, cinnamon and salt. Pulse until very ground, about 1 minute. Next, grab a clean kitchen towel and dampen it, being sure to wring out any excess water. Place it over the thawed phyllo dough as you assemble the baklava. (Phyllo dough tends to dry out very quickly and assembling the baklava takes a bit of time. The damp kitchen towel will help with this.) Brush the first sheet of phyllo dough with melted butter and transfer it, buttered-side down, into the baking dish. Add a tsp. or two of the walnut mixture. Repeat by buttering a sheet of phyllo dough and then spreading a T. or two of walnut mixture. Continue until you’ve worked through the phyllo dough/filling. Using a sharp knife, slice the baklava into 1-inch diamonds or squares. Transfer to the oven to bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is lightly golden brown and crisp.

 

TO MAKE THE SYRUP: While the baklava is baking, let’s make the syrup! In a measuring C., whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, hot water, honey and vanilla extract. When the baklava comes out of the oven, drizzle the syrup on top. Allow it to sit for 1-3 hours so it has a chance to marinate! Serve.

Classic Icebox Cake

Classic Icebox Cake

Classic Icebox Cake

3 C. heavy cream

4 T. sugar

1 T. vanilla extract

2 (9-ounce) packages Nabisco’s chocolate wafer cookies

Unsweetened cocoa (or chocolate shavings)

 

In a large bowl, beat cream, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on high speed until soft to medium peaks form. On a flat serving plate, arrange 7 cookies side by side in a circle, keeping 1 cookie in the center.  Spread with 1/2 C. whipped cream, making a 7-inch circle. Repeat with remaining cookies and cream, making 11 layers of cookies and ending with a layer of cream (there will be a few cookies left over). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. To serve, dust top lightly with cocoa powder or chocolate shavings

Lemon Upside Down Cake Loaf

Lemon Upside Down Cake Loaf

Lemon Upside Down Cake Loaf

2 C. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp. fine-grain sea salt

4 ounces 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 white granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 T. lemon zest, from 1 lemon

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

3/4 C. buttermilk

 

3 T. unsalted butter

2 T. dark brown sugar

1/4 tsp. fine-grain sea salt

1 lemon, thinly sliced

 

Butter a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment, butter once more and dust with a T. of flour. Set aside. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Next, in a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs, lemon zest and vanilla; and then mix until the mixture is smooth. To the butter and sugar mixture, mix in half of the flour mixture and the buttermilk. Then, mix in the remaining flour mixture, being sure not to over mix. In a small skillet, melt the 3 T. of butter over medium heat. Whisk constantly until the butter begins to brown and then mix in the brown sugar and salt; stir until the sugar begins to bubble, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat and let stand for a few minutes to cool slightly. Pour the butter/mixture into the loaf pan, spreading it around evenly. Arrange the lemon slices atop, keeping in mind how it’ll look when you flip the cake over.  Pour the batter over the lemons and spread the batter gently so it’s nice and even. Transfer the loaf pan to the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. To invert the cake, place a cooling rack on top of the loaf pan and turn both of them over; lift up the loaf pan, take off the parchment and voila! Your cake! Allow the cake to cool to room temperature before slicing.

Christmas Tree Squares

Christmas Tree Squares

Christmas Tree Squares

1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

11 T. (about 2/3 cup) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 C. granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 T. milk

1 tsp. vanilla

 

8 T. unsalted butter, softened

1 tsp. almond extract

pinch salt

4 C. confectioners’ sugar

3 to 4 T. milk

red and green food coloring

 

To prepare the dough. Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in egg, milk and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined. Scoop mixture into a 10″ x 15″ baking pan coated with cooking spray, then spread to an even thickness. Place into the oven and bake until set, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and set pan on a wire rack to cool completely. To prepare the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, almond extract and salt until smooth. Mix in confectioners’ sugar. Gradually add enough milk until you get a spreadable consistency. Scoop out 1/2 C. frosting and set aside. Spread remaining frosting over the cooled slab of baked bars. Slice into 24 bars. Tint half of reserved frosting with red coloring and the other half with green. Pipe a tree design in center of each square, alternating colors every other bar.

Ombre Sugar Cookie Bars

Ombre Sugar Cookie Bars

Ombre Sugar Cookie Bars

 

1/2 C. Butter, softened

1/2 C. sugar

1 large Egg

1 T. milk

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/4 C. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

 

2 1/4 C. powdered sugar

3/4 C. Butter, softened

1/8 tsp. salt

1 to 2 T. Heavy Whipping Cream

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Green food color

 

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine 1/2 C. butter, sugar, and egg in bowl. Beat at medium speed, until creamy. Add milk and 2 tsp. vanilla. Continue beating, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Add flour and baking powder; beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.  Spread into bottom of ungreased 9-inch springform pan. Bake 23-26 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely. Combine powdered sugar, 3/4 C. butter, and 1/8 tsp. salt in bowl; beat at medium speed until creamy. Add whipping cream and 2 tsp. vanilla; continue beating until smooth. Divide frosting in half. Tint one-half with 30 drops green food color. Divide remaining white frosting in half again. Tint one-half with 6 drops green food color. Leave remaining frosting white. Dollop white frosting into center of cookie. Dollop light green frosting around white. Dollop dark green frosting around light green. Using offset spatula, carefully spread frosting in a circular motion to create ombre pattern, wiping off spatula every time it’s lifted off cookie.  Cut cookie into 12 wedges to create Christmas trees.

Kahlua Spiked Pecans

Kahlua Spiked Pecans

Kahlua Spiked Pecans

1 C. granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1 large egg white

3 T. Kahlua

4 C. pecan halves

 

Preheat oven to 325F. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, cinnamon, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together egg white and Kahlua. Add pecans and stir well to combine. Sprinkle half the sugar mixture on top and mix well. Pour the rest of the sugar on top and stir until completely combined. Scoop the mixture onto a large baking sheet lined with foil and coated with nonstick spray. Spread the pecans to an even single layer. Bake until pecans are lightly toasted and browned, stirring every 10 minutes, about 20 to 25 minutes total. Remove from the oven and scoop the hot pecans onto wax or parchment paper to cool completely.