Monday, December 5, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Frosting

Pumpkin Spice Cake 
Maple Frosting
This is pretty much the best pumpkin spice cake I have ever had. I think the frosting is what pushed this one over the edge for me. I don't usually lick frosting before it is on the dessert (that's what Ryan is for) but this one made me rethink my stand on being a non-frosting-licker. The candied pecans didn't hurt, either--next time I will double the pecans! 
For the cake: 
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp kosher salt
2 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice*
3/4 cup brown sugar 
3/4 cup sugar (you can use all brown sugar if you prefer, so 1 1/2 cups)
12 tablespoons melted butter
3 eggs
15 oz. can pure pumpkin puree (about 1 1/2 cups)

*the original recipe also suggests using Garam Masala or Chinese 5 spice for more complex flavor

For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
12 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2-3 cups powdered sugar

For the pecans:
1 cup whole pecans
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
pinch of kosher salt

For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 9x13 baking dish, set aside.
Mix all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pour in the melted butter, pumpkin puree, and eggs. Mix together until completely incorporated and smooth.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes until the cake bounces back when pressed and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
For the frosting:
Place cream cheese, butter, maple syrup, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until light and creamy. Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until desired consistency. If you need to thin it out a bit just add milk a teaspoon at a time. Refrigerate frosting until ready to use. 
Spread over cooled cake. 
For the pecans:
Place the pecans in a skillet over medium heat, drizzle with syrup and sprinkle with salt. Keep the pecans moving until all the syrup is clinging to the pecans and begins to crystallize, this will take several minutes. The nuts will become glossy when they are done. The syrup coating will harden up a bit as they cool. Transfer to a cutting board and coarsely chop. Once cooled, sprinkle over the frosted cake. 

Store the cake in the refrigerator, it will keep for several days...if it lasts that long.

Recipe adapted from 'A Spicy Perspective'.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Almond Cake

  • This cake is rich, yet subtle. The delicate almond flavor makes it seem fancy. I was so surprised how much Ryan and I liked this cake given our chocolate tendencies. Perhaps next time I can add a raspberry puree.
  • 1/2 cup fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup almond paste, cut into half-inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    Grease an 8-inch round (or square) cake pan with vegetable spray. An alternative is to butter and flour the cake pan.

    In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, cake flour and baking powder and set aside.

    Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and almond paste on high until smooth, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low and slowly add powdered sugar. Mix until thoroughly combined and light and fluffy. Raise speed to high and add the vanilla, eggs and yolks, 1 at a time. Mix until well combined. Reduce speed to medium and add the sour cream and dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.

    Pour the batter into prepared pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake in the lower third of the oven for 35 minutes, or until the cake is golden and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool. Remove from pan and dust with powdered sugar.

    Recipe from Giada De Laurentis

Baked Beans


The recipe that converted Ryan the-baked-beans-hater to Ryan I-want-to-scarf-down-the-entire-dish.

8 slices bacon, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

3/4 cup ketchup

3/4 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 twenty-eight ounce cans red beans, drained and rinsed

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Put a heavy-bottomed pot (with a lid) over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring often, until the fat renders and bacon begins to crisp, about 6-8 minutes. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes more. Stir in the ketchup, tomato puree, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, and cayenne and mix well. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the beans until well coated, cover, and bake in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the lid and continue baking until sauce thickens and the beans begin to brown, about 15 minutes more. Remove from the oven and allow to cool at least 15 minutes before serving. Serves 10-12.Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe courtesy of Dave Lieberman.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Balsamic BBQ Sauce

This is yet another winning recipe from Giada De Laurentis.

I LOVE balsamic vinegar and turning into a sticky, tangy, sweet barbecue sauce is genius! I have only used this on chicken but she also recommends using it for New York strip steak.

1 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup ketchup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To make the sauce:
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until all the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by 1/3, about 15-20 minutes.

For the chicken (or steak):
Place a grill pan over medium heat or preheat your BBQ. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Lightly coat with some of the BBQ sauce using a pastry brush. Place the meat on the grill. Place the remaining BBQ sauce, still in small saucepan, over low heat or on the edge of a BBQ grill and allow to gently simmer while the meat cooks.
Cook the chicken about 8 minutes per side. Cook the steaks starting at about 4 minutes per side until a meat thermometer read the desired temperature (120 for medium rare, 135 for medium-about 6 minutes per side, 155 for well done-about 9 minutes per side). Continually brush the meat with BBQ sauce every few minutes. Remove the meat from the grill and let rest for at least 5 minutes. Serve with the heated BBQ sauce alongside.
Alternately, the chicken can be baked in the oven. Preheat the oven to 375. Place the chicken skin side up in a baking dish and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.
Posted by Picasa

Peach Crumble Pie

This pie is so satisfying and delicious. It has three steps to making it but each one is easy and can be made at different points during the day. Then put it all together and bake when you get a chance.
I used white peaches because that is what looked good at the Farmers Market, I have made it twice with the white peaches and it's fantastic.
You must serve with vanilla ice cream. Don't even consider not doing it.
  • For The Crust:

    • 1 1/4 cups flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
    • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
    • 2 teaspoons sugar
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • For The Filling:

    • 3 pounds peaches, halved, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch slices (8 cups or about 8 peaches)
    • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
    • 2 tablespoons flour
  • For The Crumble:

    • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup flour (spooned and leveled)
    • 1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
    • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

    1. Make crust: In a food processor, pulse flour, salt, and granulated sugar until combined. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining (I just use a whisk and then mix in the butter with my fingers--it's faster and uses less equipment). Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons ice water. Pulse (or gently knead) until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 2 tablespoons ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time); do not overmix. Form dough into a disk, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to overnight)--in a hurry I stick it in my freezer for about 20 minutes. And I am always in a hurry!
    2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly flour a rolling pin and work surface and roll out dough to a 12-inch round. Place in a 9-inch pie plate, fold overhang under, and crimp edges.
    3. Make filling: In a large bowl, toss together peaches, brown sugar, and flour until combined.
    4. Make crumble: In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, and oats; using your hands, work in butter until large clumps form.
    5. Transfer peach filling to pie shell, then sprinkle crumble evenly over top. Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until juices are bubbling and topping is golden, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack 1 1/2 hours before serving.
  • Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart, Everyday Food magazine.
  • Posted by Picasa
  • Grilled Romaine

    I am constantly on the look out to find new ways to incorporate more veggies into our diet and for them to taste good and be interesting. Here is one of the latest.

    Heads of romaine thrown on the grill. Brilliantly simple.

    Wash and dry lettuce (leaving heads whole)

    Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt, and pepper.

    Throw on the barbie rotating every few minutes until you get nice grill marks and the leaves just begin to wilt. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper before serving.

    The result: lettuce that actually tastes good!
    Posted by Picasa

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    Maple Mousse, April DB Challenge

    The April 2011 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container.
    Maple Mousse:

    1 cup pure maple syrup
    4 large egg yolks
    1 package (1 tablespoon) unflavored gelatin
    1 1/2 cups whipping cream


    1. Bring maple syrup to a boil then remove from heat.
    2. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and pour a little bit of the maple syrup in while whisking (this is to temper your egg yolks so they don’t curdle).
    3. Add warmed egg yolks to hot maple syrup until well mixed.
    4. Measure 1/4 cup of whipping cream in a bowl and sprinkle it with the gelatine. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Place the bowl in a microwave for 45 seconds (microwave for 10 seconds at a time and check it in between) or place the bowl in a pan of barely simmering water, stir to ensure the gelatine has completely dissolved.
    5. Whisk the gelatine/whipping cream mixture into the maple syrup mixture and set aside.
    6. Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white.
    7. Whip the remaining cream. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture. Fold in the remaining cream and refrigerate for at least an hour.
    8. Remove from the fridge and divide equally among your edible containers.

    For my "edible container" I chose to make my favorite pie crust, pat-in-the-pan pie crust.

    I sprinkled the mini desserts with chopped pecans and then I drizzled some of them with chocolate syrup.

    These little beauties turned out absolutely wonderful. The maple mousse was delicious and could be used for a multitude of desserts. Yum!