Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pear and Toasted Pecan Buttermilk Cake


I was recently commissioned to make 2 cakes for upcoming events. (How lovely to be asked to do so!) I went right to my Cake Mix Doctor book and set out to find some good sounding cakes. This one seemed to have an elegance of flavor with an ease of serving.

Although I used the Cake Mix Doctor Book for the recipe, I also found the recipe on-line at http://www.mail-archive.com/recipesandmore@googlegroups.com/info.html, so I'll post it here.

Pear and Toasted Pecan Buttermilk Cake

2 15-oz. cans pear halves, packed in light syrup, drained, syrup reserved
1 18.25-oz. pkg. plain yellow cake mix
1/2 c. buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c. finely chopped toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan.

Puree pear halves and place over medium heat in small saucepan. Cook,
stirring occasionally, until the pear puree has reduced by half 15-20
minutes. You should have about 1 cup puree. Remove from heat and let
puree cool.

In large bowl with mixer at low speed, combine cake mix, buttermilk,
eggs, vanilla and cooled pear puree for one minute. Increase speed to
medium and beat two minutes more. Fold in pecans. Pour batter into
pan.

Bake 30-35 minutes (mine took like 40+ min) until light brown and springs back when lightly touched. Remove pan to wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Invert onto
platter. Poke holes (ha! the original recipe said "wholes") in the top of the cake with a wooden skewer or toothpick. Spoon one cup of the reserved pear syrup on top and allow
it to seep into the holes and down the sides and drizzle into the center. Allow cake to cool completely 30 minutes more. Slice and serve.

I really enjoyed toasting the pecans and cooking down the puree. They made my kitchen smell great! Can't give you a review because the cake is not mine to eat, so I hope it turns out well for my friend.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Chocolate Covered Goodness

Sweet and salty is a combo I can get behind. So I decided to hop on the chocolate-covered band wagon (Mmm...) and try out a few things.

Chocolate Covered Potato Chips

I've seen a few recipes for this on-line. I used baking bark as it seems easier to work with than regular melted chocolate. I melted the bark and then brushed it on to the chips. I used both white and regular chocolate bark. Not really a recipe behind this one, just a bag of chips (wavy seems to be the way to go) and melted chocolate.

I really enjoyed the white chocolate version. They even went well with the guacamole!

Chocolate Covered Bacon

I love incorporating bacon into dessert. My Bacon Rice Krispies Treats were a hit at church. And, although it took some coaxing, once people actually tried my Maple Bacon Cookies, they really enjoyed them.

The chocolate covered bacon was well-recieved. No specific recipe here either. Just cooked a package of bacon, chopped each piece in half and then coated with chocolate. I split half white and half chocolate with this one as well. Again, my preference is towards anything white chocolate, but both were, as my buddy Lyssa says, tasteful.

This was a night full of food. Guh. You know how you suck in your gut even when nobody is around, at least to some extent? Yea, that is so not happening right now.

Cookie Dough Brownies



Clyde loves him some chocolate chip cookie dough, so he looks for opportunities to add it to things. I've attempted something similar before with a mix where you throw chunks of cookie dough into the brownie and then bake them, but then it's just cookie and not cookie dough.

So we found a recipe where you bake the brownies and then slap the cookie dough on top. Awesome. They had a recipe but Clyde's favorite edible cookie dough comes from Paula Deen's Cookie Dough Truffles. I find them merely acceptable, but they might be Clyde's favorite thing I've ever made (and I've made a bunch of stuff).

We really like the Hershey's Supreme Brownie Mix, so I just used that and baked as directed.
I let them cool completely and then I added Paula's Cookie Dough on top and put them in the fridge to chill. Here's the recipe in case you are interested.

Cookie Dough Brownies

Ingredients:
1 box favorite brownie mix (plus ingredients to make the brownies)
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cup all-purpose flour
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup semisweet mini chocolate morsels


Directions:

Bake brownies and directed and let them cool completely.

In a large bowl cream butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Add vanilla. Gradually beat in flour and add milk. Add chocolate morsels. Spread the cookie dough on top of the brownies and then chill for 2 hours. Cut and enjoy, suckas!

These were ridiculous. So good, but probably way too much cookie dough on top. I didn't even think to compare the amount used in the actual recipe to the amount that Paula Deen's recipe made.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

White Chocolate Cherry Cookies


Again with the white chocolate chips. You'll see them as a theme throughout my baking. What I liked about this particular cookie is that it has a sugar cookie dough as opposed to a chocolate chip cookie dough. Not knocking the latter, but it's less likely to see the former, so it pleases me.

One of my favorite baking blogs is Baking Bites, which is where I got this particular recipe. I'm linking it here, so I have no qualms posting the recipe below.

White Chocolate Cherry Cookies
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 white chocolate chips
2/3 cup dried cherries (coarsely chopped, if cherries are very large)

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Mix in the flour mixture, followed by the white chocolate chips and dried cherries.
Drop tablespoonfuls of dough (1-inch balls) onto prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies are just beginning to turn a light golden color around the edges. Cool for about 5 minutes on the baking sheet until cookies are completely set, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 2 dozen.

I used margarine instead of butter because, eh, I felt like it, but pretty much did everything else the same. People, parchment paper is your friend. I don't care how much it costs. Use it.

Baking tidbit of the day: The scoop and sweep method of measuring dry ingredients is significantly more accurate than spooning them into a measuring cup.

Clyde's office mates really enjoyed the cookies. I think the sweetness of the dough and the chocolate along with the slight tartness of the cherries was a good mix.

I am sooooooo pumped about my upcoming baking weekend. Super Bowl = super awesome treats!

Sweet Potato Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting

We drove 8 hours to Ohio this weekend. When we were getting close to our destination, I thought "Oh, let's bake a cake." It's a sickness, I know. I had brought along my trusty Cake Mix Doctor book (as well as my America's Test Kitchen Baking Book) for some fun reading. Hey, in comparison to my other idea of "fun" reading (grammar books), this is significantly less lame.

Sweet Potatoes? Coconut? Pecans? This cake is TOTALLY good for you. We had to run to the store to get a few ingredients. By the way, Giant Eagle is officially on notice. They had NOTHING that we specifically needed, but we made do.

It's a spice cake mix with some pureed sweet potatoes (in their syrup) added. The frosting is your basic cream cheese with coconut and pecans. Mix that bad boy up, slap on some frosting and ka-blam!


I feel like I need to throw up (aren't you glad I didn't stop here?) a review each time; however, I don't have anything better than "It was quite tasty." Eh, it works.

I made a carrot cake previously and struggled with the cream cheese frosting, so this time I did not let the cream cheese or butter get to room temp. I had to work it a bit more to make the frosting spreadable. I think it was even too soft at one point, and I put it in the fridge to firm up. I liked the consistency I ended up with. This time around it was much easier to frost the cake and to keep the frosting on the cake.

Most comments I've read suggest waiting until the cream cheese and butter are room temp. A few said the cream cheese should be cold and the butter room temp. I'm leaning more towards the second sentiment.

Dilemma 1 (runny frosting) solved. Dilemma 2 (my impatience) is still a work in progress. Once the cake is made and the frosting is made, I'm ready to eat it. But making sure the cake is completely cooled make a big difference when frosting it. As Tom Petty said, "Waiting is the hardest part."