Thursday, July 2, 2009

New Blog Address

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Molasses Cookies

My friend, Sydney, brought me over some cookies one night. My husband and I devoured them. They were amazing. She was willing to share this fabulous recipe, and I think you all should go make a batch right now. I'm serious.

Molasses Cookies

Recipe from Sydney R's Great-Grandma Sydney Minnette

3/4 C shortening (not butter)
1 C sugar
1/4 C dark molasses
1 egg
2 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon, extra if desired
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp salt

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Mix shortening, sugar, molasses and egg in big bowl. Mix all dry
ingredients in a separate bowl. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet and
mix until well blended. Dough should be fairly stiff.

Separate dough into 1” balls and roll in sugar. Place on cookie sheet
with about an inch separating each ball of dough. Bake for 7-9
minutes until the top of the cookie is cracking and the cookie has
flattened out a bit. Leave cookies on cookie sheet for about 5
minutes. These cookies are delicious warm and fresh or later in the
cookie jar, but will also keep very well in a Ziploc bag in the

German Chocolate Cake

My husband turned 30 this week. Hard to believe we're entering that phase of life. The birthday card I gave him pretty much sums things up: "I think everything happens for a reason. For example, people turn 30 because the fun part of their life has ended." Happy birthday, hon!

I really enjoy making birthday cakes. The fancy kind. All from scratch and with multiple layers. This year my husband chose a German chocolate cake. Did you know that this cake isn't even German? The cake took its name from an American with the last name of "German." Sam German created the mild dark baking chocolate bar for Baker's Chocolate Company in 1852. The company name the chocolate in his honor - "Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate." In most recipes and products today, the apostrophe and the "s" have been dropped, thus giving the false hint as for the chocolate's origin.

Anyway, on to the recipe. These are the raw ingredients I used. I would have used a better chocolate, but my husband chose the cake around 11:30 pm the night before his birthday, and I started baking the next morning.

I used Martha Stewart's recipe, and I was a little disappointed. It wasn't as moist as I would have liked, and it didn't make enough frosting. So, if I had to do it over, I would have divided it up into 3 separate pans and cooked for a shorter amount of time. And, I would have doubled the frosting recipe. Here's the link to Martha Stewart's Chocolate Cake with Coconut-Pecan Frosting (aka German Chocolate Cake).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Happy Father's Day

We had a great Father's Day. Very relaxing and enjoyable. And, my husband got to grill up some burgers. Awesome!

I was debating whether or not to make Bakerella's fast food for the dessert. The question: is it too cute for my husband? Probably. But I just couldn't resist!

My husband's reaction was classic - he just stared at them in amazement and kept asking how I made it. He was very surprised and concluded that he needed to "up the ante" for my holiday desserts in the future. I'm excited to see what he pulls out of his hat for my birthday! :)

Finally - a picture in the daylight. See what a difference that makes?

Pioneer Woman's Strawberry Shortcake Cake


A couple of weeks ago I made the declaration to my husband that I wanted to make a dessert. Not cookies because that's always my default. I wanted to make a cake. The one that came to mind was Pioneer Woman's Strawberry Shortcake Cake. I had seen her blog entry previously and thought it would be the perfect compromise for me and my husband - I love anything with cream cheese, and he loves anything with strawberry shortcake. Voila! Enter Pioneer Woman!

Unfortunately I found that I only had enough powdered sugar to make about 1/3 of the frosting recipe. This actually turned out to be ok for us. My husband is of the opinion that less is more when it comes to frosting, and this was the case with this cake. It was really good. You should go make it.

Note: I know that my picture is less than great, but I always seem to bake at night. This means bad lighting. I may have to invest in a daylight lamp or something so my pictures will look better. Either that, or I need to start waking up early and baking. Hmmm, quite the dilemma...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Fabulous Lemon Cake

I have made this recipe 3 times now, and every time I make it I get rave reviews (granted, twice it was for the same people, but that's because they asked me to make it again). It really is delicious. Very moist and full of lemon flavor. My husband and I were trying to figure out why people like this so much, and I've decided that it's because it's different from your everyday dessert. I mean, how often do you eat a dessert of just lemon?

A few tips of mine. The recipe calls for 6 to 8 lemons, but I only use 4. It gives me all of the zest I need and all of the juice I need. I use 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 1/4 cup of water in the syrup, and I don't feel obligated to use all of the syrup on the cake. I do think it helps to make the cake really moist so I wouldn't omit it. But just use your best judgment of how much it needs when it comes to spooning it on the cake.

Oh yeah, one more thing. If I need it for a luncheon, I make the cakes the night before and put the syrup on. Then the next morning I add the glaze and let it set. It tastes just as good as it would have if it had been baked fresh that morning, but it saves a whole lot of time and stress in the morning!

Lemon Cake from Barefoot Contessa Parties!


* 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
* 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
* 1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
* 3 cups flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
* 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the glaze:

* 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
* 3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.

Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Rice Pudding

We had some milk that needed to be used up, so I decided to make some rice pudding. I looked at a few different recipes and couldn't find one that was exactly what I wanted so I improvised. I already had some cooked rice so that had to be a key ingredient. I also wanted to have more of a custard pudding, so adding an egg was the trick there.

I was very pleased with the rice pudding in the end. It was very thick, rich, and creamy. The second day we added a little milk to loosen it up and it was just as tasty. My husband and I ate it all up so fast (2 days when it should have taken us a week) that I didn't even get a picture!

Rice Pudding

3 ½ cups cooked rice, at room temperature
2 ½ cups whole milk
1 ½ cups half and half
1 cup cream
2/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten well
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup raisins

Combine rice, milk, half and half, cream, sugar and salt in a large heavy pot. Cook over medium high heat until mixture begins to simmer, stirring continuously. Reduce heat so that the mixture is at a low simmer, continuing to stir until mixture becomes thickened (about 25 minutes). Add beaten egg very slowly and mix well to combine. Simmer for another minute. Add vanilla, cinnamon and raisins and stir well. Pour into a bowl, and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Serve warm or chilled.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Applebee’s Walnut Blondie With Maple Butter Sauce

The other day I was reading through the blogs I follow and saw a picture of this.

Can you blame me for wanting to try it? I had all of the ingredients so I headed to the kitchen. After I made it, I realized that I'm not really even a fan of blondies - it just looked so good on the screen! I'm glad I tried it because I like to broaden my horizons and make new things. My review? It was delicious. Fabulous. But VERY sweet. Too sweet for me, in fact. And that's a hard thing to do.

Walnut Blondie with Maple Butter Sauce

1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour, sifted
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (or more if desired)
1/3 cup butter or margarine (melted)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Maple Butter Sauce
3/4 cup maple syrup ( I highly recommend using REAL maple syrup )
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Add baking powder, baking soda and salt to the already sifted flour. Then sift dry ingredients again. Add chopped nuts and mix well. Set aside.

Add brown sugar to melted butter and mix well. Then add egg and vanilla extract. Mix well. Add flour mixture, a little at a time, until mixed well.

Stir in white chocolate chips. Spread out dough in a 9-inch pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Use a toothpick or fork to test if it is cooked in the center.

Serve warm with ice cream and Maple Butter Sauce.

Maple Butter Sauce

In a pan, add real maple syrup and butter, cook over low heat until butter is melted. Next, stir in brown sugar until completely dissolved. If you desire, add walnuts.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

We had some friends over for an authentic Irish meal in honor of St. Patrick's Day. We made Irish bacon and cabbage (corned beef is actually an Irish American tradition - in Ireland they eat pork much more often), Colcannon (which is mashed potatoes with cabbage), soda bread, and drank blackcurrant squash. It was a delicious meal! I asked my sister who is living in Ireland what to serve for dessert and her Irish husband said apple tart with custard. I remembered eating this while we were in Ireland and decided it would be perfect.

I found an Irish apple pie dessert online and decided to give it a go. I was a bit worried about the crust when I started to roll it out. The sour cream in the dough became really moist and made the rolling difficult. I used a lot of flour when I rolled out the top of the crust so that it wouldn't stick. This was my first time using sour cream in a pie crust, but I have to say it turned out really flaky and delicious. I made it festive by using a shamrock cookie cutter on the top crust. To serve, we dished some custard into a soup plate and put a piece of pie on top.

Irish Apple Pie

For crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons shortening
1/4 cup sour cream
1/8 teaspoon lemon juice

For filling:
5 large Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon lemon juice

For wash:
1 egg, beaten

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch pie pan.
2. To Make Crust: In a large bowl, combine flours, salt and sugar. Cut in butter and shortening until coarse crumbs are formed. Mix in sour cream and lemon juice. Keep mixing until dough forms a ball; dough may be slightly lumpy, this is fine. Wrap dough ball in plastic wrap and allow to chill for 1 hour.
3. Once chilled, take dough out of refrigerator and cut it in half; keep one half covered and in the refrigerator. Roll dough to 1/8 of an inch. To lift pie shell, roll dough around rolling pin and then unroll into pie pan. Trim overhanging edges of pie crust.
4. To Make Filling: Place apples into pie shell. In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour and nutmeg; mix thoroughly. Sprinkle mixture over apples. Squirt lemon juice over apples. Place pie in refrigerator while top crust is rolled out.
5. Remove pie from refrigerator. Brush outer edge of bottom crust with beaten egg. Place second crust on top of pie; crimp pie shell edges together. Brush entire top crust with egg and cut 4 steam slots into it.
6. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow pie to completely cool before serving. Serve warm with Bird's Custard.

I didn't get a picture of the soda bread, but it turned out great. It was my first time making it and I thought it turned out much more moist than the soda breads we ate in Ireland. Oh, and it was so easy! The trick is to not overwork the dough. It will look like a clumpy ball when finished, but it will taste great!

Irish Soda Bread

1 lb all purpose flour
1 level teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon baking soda
14 oz buttermilk, approximately

First, preheat the oven to 450°F.

Sift the flour, salt and baking soda into a large, wide mixing bowl.

Make a well in the center. Pour most of the milk into the flour. Using one hand with the fingers open and stiff, mix in a full circle drawing in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When the dough all comes together, turn it out onto a well-floured work surface. Wash and dry your hands.

Gently roll the ball of dough around with floury hands for a few seconds, just enough to tidy it up. Then pat it gently into a round, about 2 in high.

Place the dough on a lightly floured baking sheet (I used a silpat). With a sharp knife cut a deep cross in it, letting the cuts go over the sides of the bread.

Put this into your preheated oven for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 400°F for a further 25 minutes, or until cooked. When the bread is cooked it will sound hollow when tapped.

Cooking time: 35 minutes, approximately
Yield: Makes 1 loaf

Monday, March 9, 2009

Easy Cheese Danish

I am always in search of a good bakery. And whenever I go into a bakery, I check to see if they have cream cheese danishes (well, cream cheese anything, really). I decided I was going to venture into the pastry world by making my own cream cheese danish. After reading through a cookbook and seeing the extensive work that goes into making pastries, I had just about given up.

I happened to be thumbing through Ina Garten's "Barefoot Contessa at Home" when I noticed her Easy Cheese Danish recipe. The recipe called for frozen pastry sheets - the perfect solution for me! So I gathered all of the ingredients to make these danishes, and I thought they were fabulous. They have a nice hint of lemon, and I loaded the cream cheese into the pastry because that's my favorite part.

I will say that you can't really mess these up. I left the pastry sheets on the counter for close to 4 hours before getting started (even though the recommended thaw time is 40 minutes), and then I refrigerated them overnight so that I could bake them the next morning for breakfast. I was worried the pastry wouldn't puff up correctly, but I was pleasantly surprised. The recipe says to eat them warm, but I prefer them cold. Either way, they're delicious!

Easy Cheese Danish

8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 extra large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 T ricotta cheese (I used mascarpone)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 - 1 T grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place the cream cheese & sugar in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment and cream together on low speed until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined. Don't whip!

Unfold one sheet of pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it's a 10x10 inch square. Cut the sheet into quarters. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold two opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together. Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes.

Bake the puff pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Serve warm.

Makes 8 Danish

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Flourless Chocolate Cake

As part of the February challenge for the DB, I made a flourless chocolate cake for Valentine's day. I took pictures, and then promptly forgot to post (it didn't help that I was out of town for a week). This was my first flourless cake, and I was actually surprised by the texture. I was expecting dense based on appearance, but it was actually pretty light (which makes sense because you fold in stiff egg whites). It was a pretty easy cake to make, and I enjoyed it.

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef. We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

Chocolate Valentino
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
5 large eggs separated

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration}
8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C
9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.
Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.
10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.