Archive for the ‘dessert’ Category

Happy New Year!

January 2, 2012

 

Egg Nog Cake

Happy New Year!!

It’s been said that layer cakes may be one of the food trends in 2012 and with that in mind Anna at Cookie Madness put together a list of favorite layer cakes, and provided a link to another list of her favorite chocolate cakes. Her list is better than any magazine spread I’ve seen in awhile. With all of that layer cake love and inspiration I realized that I could make a layer cake a month in 2012 without making the same cake twice!

There is a cake on that list that I can’t wait to get to, but with some eggnog in the refrigerator needing to be used up I decided to start with the eggnog cake. I buy organic eggnog to make cinnamon eggnog scones at Christmas time. I love those scones! The only problem is that no one in my family likes to drink eggnog and I always end up with leftovers that most often get thrown out. We like the flavor but the glugginess is a turn off.

So on New Year’s day after a week plus of eating too much sugar and eating too much in general there I was in my kitchen making cake! I only had enough eggnog to make a half recipe and I only own nine inch round pans so I made one layer of cake, cut it in half and layered it.

We like this cake quite a bit. It has a slightly course texture, but is moist without being wet. It’s very easy to make. We both liked it on day one but we like it even better on day two. The nutmeg and eggnog make this cake very flavorful and will be enjoyed by anyone who likes those flavors. The frosting is that old fashioned frosting where you make a roux and then incorporate it into a creamed butter and sugar mixture. It sounds funky but is actually quite good and a good technique for making frosting when you realize you don’t have any powdered sugar in the pantry. There is a chance that the roux will have lumps in it, but I didn’t have any problems with lumps using the microwave method and the frosting was super smooth.

I’m retyping the recipe in the half batch version and including instructions for making the roux in the microwave. For the full version and stovetop instructions for making the roux you will find the recipe here.

Julia Waldbaum’s Festive Eggnog Cake

1 cup all purpose flour (4.5 oz.)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1.5 tsp. baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 rounded tsp.nutmeg (I used already ground nutmeg even though the recipe notes to use fresh and that it’s worth it to use fresh)
2 ounces unsalted butter softened
1 large egg + 1.5 T. egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup eggnog

Frosting
2 T. flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup eggnog
1/3 cup butter, soft
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray one 8 or 9 inch round metal cake pan with cooking spray and coat with flour.

In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add softened butter and stir it in, mashing it into the dry ingredients and coating them with butter. When the mixture is moist with butter, add the eggs, vanilla and eggnog. With a spoon or lowest speed of electric mixer, beat until mixed. Turn speed to medium high and blend for about a minute. Pour batter into cake pans, dividing evenly. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.

Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Flip and cool completely.

In a microwave bowl, whisk together flour and salt and about 2 T. of the eggnog. Continue adding the egg nog 2 T. at a time and whisk each addition until all lumps disappear. Microwave on 50% power for 2 minutes stirring once. Remove from microwave and whisk again. I didn’t have any lumps.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add flour mixture and continue beating on high with an electric mixer for about 8 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved and the icing isn’t grainy. (It only took me 5-6 minutes to get to the non grainy stage. Beat in the vanilla. Ice the cake.

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Peach and Mixed Berry Crisp

August 9, 2011

Peach and Mixed Berry Crisp

On Wednesday August 10, 2011 there will be a post written by yours truly on Cookie Madness! I couldn’t be any more excited about the opportunity to do a guest post for Anna while she’s on vacation. The inspiration for the post is the Ginsberg’s Alaskan cruise.

When Anna and I chatted we talked about ice cream desserts but as I did my research and thought about Alaska I kept coming back to berries. One of the recipes I was really excited about is this crisp recipe I found on Epicurious. Apparently it is on the menu at a place in Anchorage called Marx Bros. Cafe. A google search for Marx Bros. Cafe told me that if I ever get to Anchorage I will make time for a meal there.

The peach berry crisp is excellent. It didn’t make the cut for my Cookie Madness post because it was the slightest bit runny and I didn’t think the photos were very appealing. That said, it’s a very tasty dessert and one I would make again. I loved the flavors of all the fruits and the topping was nice and crisp.

My husband enjoyed this with vanilla ice cream. I ate mine straight up.

Peach and Mixed Berry Crisp (adapted by Sue at Basically Baked)

Topping

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter

Fruit layer

2 large peaches, peeled, pitted, chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 1/3 cups blueberries (about 6 ounces)
1 1/3 cups raspberries (about 6 ounces)
1 1/3 cups blackberries (about 5.6 ounces)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8×8 inch baking dish.

In a small bowl whisk together the dry ingredients for the topping, then add the butter and rub all of the ingredients together with the back of a spoon until the crumbs are very fine. You can also do this with your fingers but I prefer to use a spoon. Set the mixture aside.

Put all of the fruit in a separate bowl and toss it with the sugar and flour.

Place the mixture in the prepared baking dish and bake for 40 minutes stirring every ten minutes until the juices are bubbling. Bake another five minutes.

Remove from the oven. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees.

Top with the reserved topping mixture and bake for another 20 minutes, until the topping is golden.

Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Serve slightly warm.

Carrot Bread

April 6, 2011

Sliced

Last night after dinner I wanted to bake. It wasn’t that I wanted a specific food, I just wanted to bake. The problem was that without wanting something specific it was difficult to settle on a recipe. Another hurdle was finding a recipe that used ingredients that I had on hand.  The final factor was I didn’t want three dozen cookies or an entire cake. I decided to log onto Cookie Madness to see if anything would grab me. The first thing I did was go to the section “Scaled Down Recipes”.  This carrot bread recipe was the first recipe that I saw and I had all the ingredients!

The bread is baked in two 3″x5″ loaf pans.  Just perfect for a household of two! The batter rises to make a nice dome, and the top has just a bit of crust. The slight crustiness might be my favorite part of the bread. Nuts, carrots, and spices on the moist inside. What’s not to like?

No mixer is required, but you do have to grate some carrots. Otherwise this comes together really fast. I chose not to make the icing and I don’t really think it needs it unless you’re looking for more of a carrot cake like experience. This worked well for me since I wasn’t looking for something super sweet.

You can find the recipe here.

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes

February 20, 2011

The Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake

This is easily my favorite cupcake ever. Generally speaking cupcakes aren’t a big deal to me. The ratio of frosting to cake is a turn off and yet here I am singing the praises of these and look how much frosting there is! There is even filling and I still like them. I like them a lot. A little cake, a little truffle, and some of the smoothest, silkiest frosting ever. What’s not to like?

Look at that filling!

The cake is moist, the crumb is tender. The filling and frosting which seem as if they’d be over the top are perfect together. They’re definitely worthy of a special occasion.

The people we shared these with loved them as well. The recipe originally came from Cook’s Illustrated, June 2010. You can get the recipe here. They’re a bit of work, but definitely worth the effort!

Basically Blissful

December 31, 2010

Basically Blissful Cranberry Bars

A few years ago Cranberry Bliss bars were being discussed on various blogs. I was intrigued, but not enough to make a special trip to try one at my local Starbucks. Since I don’t drink coffee I rarely go to Starbucks. When I meet friends for “coffee” they usually prefer our local coffee shop and so here we are several years later and I still haven’t had one. Recently I found myself at a Starbucks and I was pleasantly surprised to find out they still make these bars and I had to have one. I can certainly understand why people wait all year long for these seasonal treats to make an appearance! I ate mine very slowly and thoughtfully hoping I’d be able to make them myself.

Mine are a little thicker than Starbucks’ but that’s okay with me. If I make them again I will put some oil or shortening in with the white chocolate chips so that when I cut the bars the white chocolate won’t shatter. We loved these bars. My husband thinks they’re “awesome”. I can’t remember the adjectives my daughter used, but she made it clear she liked them a lot.

Basically Blissful Cranberry Bars

1 1/2 cups ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup finely diced crystallized ginger
1 bag white chocolate chips (divided use)
1 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries (divided use)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter and brown sugar together until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until just combined.

Fold in the diced ginger, half of the white chocolate chips, and 1/2 c. dried cranberries, and turn the batter into a 9 x 13 inch pan, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula.

Bake until the top is shiny and feels firm to the touch, for 22 to 25 minutes. Place the pan on a rack and let cool completely. Frost with the frosting, sprinkle with more chopped cranberries and drizzle with melted white chocolate as indicated below.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz. cream cheese softened
2.5 T. butter softened
1 1/2 t. orange juice
finely grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 c. + 2 T. powdered sugar

Beat together the first three ingredients until very smooth. Stir in the zest and powdered sugar until fully incorporated. Spread on top of the bars. Sprinkle the remaining cranberries evenly on top of the bars.

Using 50% power melt the remaining chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave at 1 minute intervals. Stir after every minute until completely melted and then drizzle over the cranberries

Cut the bars into large squares, and then cut once diagonally to make triangles.

Zucchini Cake

September 27, 2010

Zucchini Cake

The leaves are changing here in the upper Midwest, and as much as I don’t want to admit it summer truly is behind us. If you live in a warmer area you might still be harvesting zucchini and if you are, this recipe is for you. If you don’t have zucchini growing in your backyard this cake will be worth their purchase from your local grocery store.

When I made this cake I was very doubtful that I would like it. I was willing to make it, learn from it and toss it. I don’t like throwing out food, but I was willing to this one time just for the sake of learning.  Rest assured none of this cake went to waste, but rather to “waist”. My husband and I both loved this cake.

You might be wondering what about the recipe made me doubt it’s tastiness? The fat in the cake comes from olive oil. I thought for sure I wouldn’t like olive oil in this type of baked good, but I was so wrong.  The original recipe comes from Gina DePalma’s book Dolce Italiano. I don’t own the book, but I’d like to get my hands on it to discover what other gems are waiting between the covers. If this cake is representative of the rest of the book, it may become a must have book, because this cake is genius.

The cake is super moist, and the lemon glaze gets a little crunchy when it sets. The lemon compliments the zucchini and olive oil in such a way that you don’t think of the zucchini and olive oil as individual components. They come together in an interesting and delicious way that I wouldn’t have guessed. I wanted to share this cake with everyone and make believers out everyone that zucchini and olive oil could come together in a cake without being covered up with chocolate. I want everyone to taste it and love it the way my husband and I do. Unfortunately the cake didn’t make it far. A few slices went to the neighbors, and we ate the rest of it over the course of a few days. Seriously! Two of us ate almost the entire cake. It’s that good.

Zucchini Cake with Lemon Glaze (adapted from the web, where is was adapated from Gina DePalma’s Dolce Italiano)

1 c. pecans or walnuts toasted and chopped (I used toasted walnuts)
2c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. kosher salt
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. ginger
1/2. t. nutmeg
3 eggs, room temperature
1 3/4 c. sugar
1 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 t. vanilla extract
2 1/2 c. finely grated zucchini

For the glaze:
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1 c. powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10 c. bundt pan with non-stick spray and dust with flour.
Sift together: Flour, leaveners, salt and spices. Set aside.
In the bowl of a mixer beat the eggs, sugar and olive oil for 3 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and stir in the vanilla.
Mix in the dry ingredients, and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds.
Stir in the chopped nuts and zucchini.
Pour the mixture into the bundt pan and smooth the top. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake has started to pull away from the sides of the pan.

While the cake is baking stir together the granulated sugar and lemon juice. Stir it well and let it sit while the cake bakes.

Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack.

Add the powdered sugar to the lemon and sugar mixture. Use a brush to apply the glaze to the cake while it is still warm/ Let the cake cool completely. A silicone brush works well for this but a pastry brush will also work.

Cheesecake Brownies

September 24, 2010

It’s time to clear the cobwebs, and post something on this much neglected blog. I have a good excuse for the neglect. This summer I fell in love again with bicycling. I used to bike a lot but got away from it and haven’t biked much  in at least 15 years. I fell hard, bought a new bike and get out whenever the weather and my schedule cooperate. That leaves less time for baking and even less time for blogging, but the biking is really good for me and I love it.

Yesterday Anna at Cookie Madness got my attention with some cheesecake brownies. It occurred to me as I was reading her post that I’ve never made cheesecake brownies. Say what!? How can that be? Brownies, yes! Cheesecake, yes! Why haven’t I put them together?

There are a lot of recipes out there for cheesecake brownies. After some surfing around the web, and leafing through some cookbooks from my shelves I decided to give David Lebovitz’s Cheesecake Brownies a go. I think this combination is a culinary marriage made in heaven.

The real hoot is I that I didn’t use high end chocolate for these. I used Baker’s Semi Sweet chocolate, Penzey’s Dutch Process Cocoa, regular butter, and Nestle’s Chocolate Chips. I haven’t purchased Nestle’s chips in years but they were dirt cheap last week and I figured what the heck. They’d be convenient to have on hand and to save a few bucks I could use them for awhile instead of my favorite Guittard chocolate chips. Since I used salted butter I omitted the salt all together.

I thought for sure I had a 9×9 inch baking pan, but it turns out that all of my square pans are 8×8 inches. By the time I dolloped the cream cheese on top of the brownie mixture it was completely covered in my too small pan so swirling became almost impossible. You’ll notice that mine look more like cheesecake topped brownies. Do not let this stop you from making these. The texture of the cheesecake is smooth and satisfying and the perfect foil to the rich, sweet, dense brownie. Next time I will be sure I’ve added a 9×9 inch pan to my bakeware arsenal, but if all I had was the smaller 8×8 pan, I wouldn’t let it stop me from making these.

Cheesecake Brownies

Cheesecake Brownies

The photo above was taken out on my porch in the waning light of the day. I hope to get a chance tomorrow to take better photos.

If you’re looking for a great cheesecake brownie recipe, look no further than page 195  in David Lebovitz’s book, Ready for Dessert. You can also find the recipe on his blog.  This is the third recipe I’ve made from Ready for Dessert and each of the recipes has been absolutely excellent. The caramel ice cream redefined caramel ice cream at our house, and the chocolate chip cookies are one of the most excellent chocolate and pecan delivery systems I’ve had the pleasure to eat.

Peach Kuchen

August 24, 2009
Peach Kuchen

Peach Kuchen

This dessert is from the archives, and is a recipe I grew up with. I’ve never understood why it’s called peach kuchen. I think that kuchen literally translated means cake, and this definitely isn’t cake. It’s not a particularly attractive dessert but it’s so good. So often the simplest things are. I make this in a 10″ tart pan but all of my relatives use a pie pan.

The original recipe is very vague regarding details such as oven temperature, baking time, amounts of some ingredients and mixing technique, so I’ll fill in some of those details for you. I have a tendency to over do it with the peaches so keep that in mind as you prepare your peaches. The season is so short and I’m usually pretty excited once the tasty peaches start to show up at my grocery store.

Peach Kuchen

2 c. flour

1/4 t. baking powder

1/2 t. salt

2 T. sugar

1/2 c. butter

5-6 peaches, skinned and sliced

1 c. sugar

1/2 t. cinnamon

2 egg yolks

1 c. cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a pie pan or tart pan with non stick spray. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Use a pastry blender to cut in butter until about the size of small peas. The mixture will look very dry. Dump this into the pastry dish and press evenly onto the bottom and up the sides of the pastry dish.

Lay the sliced peaches on top of the pastry. Whisk together 1 c. of sugar and 1/2 t. cinnamon. Sprinkle this on top of the peaches and bake for 15 min.

While the peaches are baking whisk together 2 egg yolks and with 1 c. cream.

Pour this mixture over the peaches and bake for an additional 45 min. or until set.



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