Sunday, January 22, 2017

Inside Out German Chocolate Cake

I guess today I am doing a little reflecting on life. When I was a kid, life was just a playground. When I was a teen life became dramatic because problems felt like the end of the world. Now at this point in life I realize that it is the struggles in life that has shaped us into who we are today.

Knowing that there are more problems to come-some will be worse and some not, helps to change your perspective about the problem. It allows you face the problem head on with some dignity.

Then the day after you have dealt with the problem (which is my favorite part), is the rebirth. The beginning of a new day. Which means its time for some birthday cake! This sweet German Chocolate cake recipe is a keeper and a wonderful choice on such a day. The traditional icing as a filling and the chocolate glaze ladled over the top amps up the standard in quite a delicious way.

So enjoy a slice of this special cake and focus on the many things that a new day can bring. After all, you just successfully drove over a bump in life's journey. Enjoy!

Inside Out German Chocolate Cake
adapted from Epicurious

6 tbs melted butter
1/8 tsp almond extract
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup boiling water
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup and 1 tbs dutch cocoa

1 tbs vanilla extract
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
7 oz sweetened flaked coconut
4 oz chopped pecans/volume is 1 cup

1 1/4 or 2 1/2 sticks of cups of butter
10 oz semi-sweet chocolate (chopped bar or chips)
3 tbs light corn syrup

Prepare 3 round 9 inch cake pans by oiling the interior and lining the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Fill a large bowl with the melted butter, egg, egg yolk, milk, vanilla and almond extract. Beat on low speed until blended. Set aside.

In another bowl, sift together the salt, baking powder, baking soda, flour and cocoa powder. Whisk in the sugar. Empty the sifted ingredients into the wet mixture and stir together until it becomes like a thick frosting. Pour in the boiling water and stir again until thoroughly mixed in.

Measure out 1 1/2 cups of the batter and fill one cake pan. Repeat this process for the other 2 cake pans. Should you have any batter left after the measurements, divide evenly into the 3 pans.

Place the cake pans in the oven, starting with 2 on the upper third and one on the bottom third of the oven racks. Bake for about 10 minutes, then rotate pans 180 degrees and switch racks. Let bake for another 10-15 minutes. Cakes are done when tester comes out clean. Remove pans from oven and place on cooling rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the outside edge of the cake and inside edge of pan, then invert onto racks. Peel off the parchment carefully and re-set the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Once the cakes are done, then it is time to make the filling. Take out 2 baking sheets. Fill one with the chopped pecans and one with the sweetened coconut. Spread the contents of each pan out evenly. Put the coconut pan on the lower third rack and the pecan pan on the upper third rack. The total baking time for both will be about 12-18 minutes, however, the contents of the pans will have to be stirred every 4-6 minutes. Once toasting time is complete, remove pans and set aside. Then re-set the oven temperature again, this time for 425 degrees.

Take a baking pan and place a pie pan in the center. Fill the baking pan full of water until it comes up to the halfway mark on the pie pan. Fill the pie pan with the sweetened condensed milk and mix in the vanilla extract. Seal the top of the pie pan with foil. Place baking pan water bath with pie pan in the center into the oven. Set the timer for 45 minutes. After this interval, remove the pan and add more water in order for the level to get back to the original depth. Place in oven and bake again until milk is thick and brown. This should take about 30-45 minutes. Once done, empty contents into a heat proof bowl and stir in coconut and pecans. Cover and set aside.

For the glaze, melt the butter in a saucepan and remove from heat. Stir in the corn syrup and the chocolate. Continue to stir until all is melted and reserve out about 1 cup. Chill the cup in the refrigerator for about an hour or place in freezer and check periodically until it reaches a spreadable frosting consistency.

For assembly, place pieces of parchment on top of a round cake board, covering the circumference and about 1 inch in width. Place one cake layer in the center of the round. Measure out half of the filling and place it on the cake. Use a spatula dipped in water, smooth out the filling evenly and leave about 1/4 inch border of cake on the edge. Repeat with the second layer. Then place the third layer on top.

Take out the spreadable frosting and frost sides and top of cake. Should you not have enough for a thin coat, chill some more from the saucepan to finish. Lastly, pour the glaze from the saucepan over the cake, so it drips down the sides. Should some of the sides not be covered, use a spoon and scoop up the excess glaze that has dripped to the bottom. Spoon over the sides not covered.

Place cake in fridge to set for about 1 hour. Before serving, carefully remove pieces of parchment paper around the base of the cake. Then bring cake to room temperature and slice.

Tips and Notes:
1. The butter/chocolate glaze may not be your preference, but bear in mind the filling is designed to be the stronger of the two. A sugary glaze or sweet ganache may be too much in combination with the filling.

2. The layers of this cake are not thick. Should you desire more thickness, increase the ingredients and bake time of the cake batter.

3. There are many ways to cook the condensed milk, but this method is a little safer than boiling the can. Also, the hue and thickness of the cooked milk is a personal preference for the filling.

                                  **LAST YEAR: Apple Dulce De Leche Empanadas*

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Italian Christmas Pastry

Let's face it, pastry is perfect if you are looking to get away with thick bread type of breakfast rolls and scones. It is always the pastry filling that takes center stage in flavor rather than the shell that houses it. This is true for eclairs, cream puffs and other types of pastry.

With so many cream filled pastries out there on the market, the fruit and nut type of fillings have become forgotten. This italian type of recipe moves the pastry spotlight from cream to fruit/nut fillings.

In review of recipes across the net, there was not any particular one that had the flavor combination that I favored. After some thought and experimentation, I came up with dough that has a touch of citrus flavor and a filling combination of orange, cranberry, cinnamon and walnuts.

The things I liked about this recipe was that the dough did not have any rising time, so it came together quickly. The filling was fairly easy as well, with the simple task of mixing together and leaving sit overnight. It was the assembly where the test of skills came in, but I was in the mood for this type of project. Also, I feel the reward in the effort was the stunning appearance as well as the taste of these delicious coils.

Italian Christmas Pastries
by flourtrader

1/2 cup orange liqueur (Grand Marnier)
1/4 cup orange juice
1 lb chopped walnuts
1 lb dried cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbs cinnamon

3 eggs
zest from 2 lemons
3/4 cup Limoncello liqueur
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
4-6 cups flour
toothpicks (to hold coils together)
1 cup of honey (topping)

Start by making the filling. Mix the orange juice and orange liqueur together in a medium size bowl. In another, smaller bowl, stir the cinnamon and sugar together until thoroughly blended. Mix the dry with the liquid mixture. Add the chopped walnuts and cranberries, stirring until everything is coated with the wet batter. Cover and let sit overnight on the counter.

The next day, you will complete the process with making the dough, forming the pastries and baking. To make the dough, sift together 4 cups of flour with the baking soda and cinnamon. Set aside. Using another bowl, whisk together the eggs, zest, extract, vegetable oil, liqueur and sugar. Measure out 1/4 cup and reserve, setting aside for later.

Clear off a flat surface for the dough. Pour sifted ingredients onto the surface and form a well in the center. Pour some of the wet blend into the center and mix with a fork or clean hands. Pour more of the wet batter out and mix with the flour and repeat the process (not using the reserve) until a smooth dough is formed. You may need to add more flour in the process. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and dust a baking sheet with flour.

Separate the dough into 8 equal balls. Place 7 on a cookie sheet and cover. Prepare another flat surface by dusting with flour. Take the 8th dough ball and roll out into a long rectangular strip, about  1/4 inch thick and 5-6 inches wide. Using a knife or a fluted pastry wheel, cut off all edges to make even and cut lengthwise into 2 strips. Use the excess to patch and repair holes, dampening with reserved wet mixture. 

Using the filling blend, make a line of filling down the center of one of the strips. Now comes the tricky part... Fold the side edges of the dough upwards and start coiling into a circle. The dough edges must remain upright so the filling does not spill all over the pan when baking. Once the circle is formed, use toothpicks to hold together and transfer to the prepared baking sheet(s). Keep in mind that the pastry does not expand very much when baking.

Continue to form the pastries until all the dough and filling is used up. Should the balls of dough dry out during this process, use the reserved wet mixture to dampen the outside and knead into dough ball before rolling out.

Bake pastries until lightly browned.This should take about 25-35 minutes. Remove and place baking sheet on cooling rack. Warm up the honey in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds. Then brush the warm pastries with the honey and let cool completely.

Tips and Notes:

1. Make sure that your coils are not overfilled, the filling should be 1/2-3/4 inch wide when placed onto the dough strip.

2. When preparing the filling, consider how chunky you want it. Make the walnut pieces as small as you want and cut up the dried cranberries if you prefer. The smaller the chunks, the easier to work with.

3. Remove the toothpicks after 15 minutes cooling time. The longer you wait increases the chance of the pastry crumbling.

4. I tried several methods when forming the coils. Folding over and then placing upright to coil is more difficult.

5. Coil the dough around easily, do not make real tight; the toothpicks will help them hold together.

6. After you coil two strips, stir the filling ingredients so the liquids do not settle to the bottom in the time it takes you to assemble all the coils. A watery filling will spill out of the pastries and burn onto the pan when baking.

                                   **LAST YEAR: Pistachio Financiers**

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Almond Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

Today's post is a milestone for my blog, it is the 500th post. Yes, it is actually hard to believe I have made and posted that many items. There are lots of blogs that die off after the first two years, but I am happy to say after all these posts, my passion still remains. There are so many projects and things I have yet to try and master, it is hard to even imagine stopping. Now on to this recipe...

When someone mentions shortbread cookies, visions of English teatime comes to mind. However, these type of cookies have such a wonderful flavor, it is impossible to limit them to eating only at teatime.

The traditional shortbread cookie is a 1-2-3 part blend. One part sugar, 2 parts butter and 3 parts flour. This particular recipe is not exact to those specifications in regards to the flour content, but it does not detract from the taste.

Shortbread can have many variations. For today's post, I decided to create a teatime cookie with a touch of chocolate. Also, even though it is a butter cookie, the additional flavor of almond was added. The almond flavor is derived from the almond flour and almond extract. This recipe makes 2- 2 1/2 dz cookies.

Almond Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
by flourtrader

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup almond flour or meal
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1-2 tbs almond extract
3/4 cup mini choc chips
1 cup or 2 sticks of butter (room temp)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together the two types of flour in a medium size bowl and set aside.

Then fill another bowl with the softened butter and almond extract. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, stopping at intervals to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Sift the powdered sugar into this mixture. Beat again until the sugar is distributed into the butter.

Take out a wooden spoon and mix the flour blend into the butter batter until a dough is formed. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Shape the dough into balls and place 2 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Then flatten into circles about 2-3 inches in diameter. Place in oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes or until golden brown on the edges. Let cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to rack to completely cool.

Tips and Notes:

1. The amount of extract you use is according to how strong you want the almond flavor in the cookie.

2. Almond meal or almond flour can be used, depending on your preference. Almond meal is not as finely ground as flour. I used almond meal and, as you can see by the picture, there are flecks of almond showing in the cookies.

                                 **LAST YEAR: Orange Liqueur Bundt Cake**

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Chocolate Tangerine Cannoli Cupcakes

There are a lot of cupcakes out there that are what I call as "whimsical". You know the type, the ones that look like santa claus or are smiley faces. Nothing against those, for those attract a lot of kids and kids are a cupcake eating bunch.

These particular cupcakes are not whimsical at all. In fact, they are very much adult in flavor. Yes, the chocolatey batter full of chocolate chips may be kid appealing, but add the cream cheese/ricotta filling loaded with tangerine zest and we start to get away from the kid appeal. Top with some ganache and a slice of candied tangerine zest and the end result is not only delicious but very appealing to adults.

The chocolate with the tangerine puts this cupcake in a sophisticated, more gourmet category. However, the recipe only makes a dozen cupcakes, so be sure to adjust recipe if you are expecting a crowd.

Chocolate Tangerine Cannoli Cupcakes
adapted from Food Network

Ingredients/Candied Tangerine Slices
3 tangerines (making a total of 12 slices)
granulated sugar

3/4 cup of mayonnaise
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder 

1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup cream cheese
zest from 3 tangerines

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs chocolate chips

Start by making the garnish. Fill the bottom of a frying pan with sugar, making the layer about 1/4th an inch thick. Then lay the slices of tangerines on top, making sure that they do not overlap. Then pour one spoonful of sugar over the top of each slice and smooth out until completely covered. Place frying pan over medium high heat and let cook. As it cooks, take out a cookie sheet and line with parchment paper.

The cooking will cause the sugar to melt and start to change color. Once it reaches a caramel color, quickly remove frying pan from heat. Take slices out of pan using tongs and place on parchment paper. Set aside.

Prepare for the cupcakes by preheating the oven to 325 degrees. Grease the top edges of your cupcake cavities and line with baking paper liners.

Sift the cocoa powder in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add hot water and mayonnaise and whisk together. Then change the attachment from a whisk to a paddle and add the sugar and beat together. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Take bowl out of the stand mixer and blend the sifted ingredients into the chocolate batter. Lastly, fold in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter evenly into cupcake cavities. Each cavity should be about 2/3 full. Place pan in oven and bake until tester comes out clean. Baking time should be about 25-30 minutes. Let cupcakes cool in pan on rack for about 3 minutes then transfer to cooling rack. Let cool completely before filling.

As the cupcakes are cooling, the filling can be made. Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with the cream cheese and ricotta cheese. Beat together until smooth and blended. Add the tangerine zest and sift in the powdered sugar. Beat again until zest is distributed evenly and there are no more streaks of sugar. Set aside.

Take the cooled cupcakes and cut a small core out of the center of each, using a paring knife. Prepare a bag of filling by snipping off the corner of a freezer bag and adding the filling to the inside of the bag. Hold the bag upright, with the open corner of the bag hovering over the empty core of a cupcake and squeeze the top of the bag, filling to the core to the top. Repeat this process until all cupcakes are filled. Set aside.

Make the ganache by filling a saucepan with the heavy whipping cream. Also, pour the chocolate chips into a shallow bowl ( much like a flat bottom heat proof pasta bowl) and smooth them out evenly. Place the saucepan over medium high heat. Once the cream has reached a boil, remove from heat and pour over chocolate chips. Stir until chocolate chips have melted and mixture is smooth. Place in refrigerator about 5 minutes to thicken. Spoon a dollup of ganache on top of the cupcake, to the left or the right of the filling. The chocolate should not cover the white/ cream filling in the core of the cupcake.

Lastly, place the candied tangerine slice on top. It can lay on top, be folded, stuck in the cupcake or stuck into the filling. Depending on how you place the garnish, it may need to be propped up with toothpicks until it sets with the ganache.

Tips and Notes:
1. Both the filling and the ganache recipe were scaled down to eliminate waste. You can always make more if needed.

2. The original filling recipe did not include cream cheese but due to the dry nature of ricotta, the cream cheese was added.

3. Feel free to experiment with other citrus when creating the filling.
                                            **LAST YEAR:Cherry Pie Bites**


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Chocolate Custard Tart

The smaller version of a fruit pie is a fruit tart. However, when it comes to cream pies, we do not think of cream tarts. There is a lot of different cream pies that can be converted over. So if you are ever wanting a taste of a cream pie, but a whole pie seems to much to have around-consider a tart.

With that thought, I bring you a recipe for a chocolate custard tart. One of the highlights of this special dessert is the silky dark chocolate cream filling. The other is an oatmeal shortbread shell with grated chocolate. If that is not chocolatey enough, the interior is brushed with chocolate ganache. Lastly, each piece has a dollup of fluffy whipped cream on top.

Lots of chocolate and lots of texture contrast come together for a delicious, one of a kind dessert. This makes one 10 inch tart or 12 small tarts (3-4 inch rings). Be sure to allow for the 8 hours needed for the custard filling to set up prior to filling the tarts.

Chocolate Custard Tart
adapted from The Olives Dessert Table

Ingredients/Chocolate Cream Filling
6 egg yolks
4 1/2 cups of milk
1 tbs vanilla extract
8 oz bittersweet chocolate (chopped or chips, room temp)
3 tbs butter
4 1/2 tbs cornstarch
3/4 cup plus 2 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Ingredients/Oatmeal Crust
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup flour
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup or 2 sticks butter (room temp)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup grated semi-sweet chocolate (optional)

Ingredients/ Chocolate Ganache
1 cup semi sweet chocolate (chopped or chips)
1 cup heavy cream

Ingredients/Whipped Cream
2 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
2 tbs of cream stabilizer (optional)

The custard will be the first component to make. Fill a bowl with the sugar and sift in the cornstarch and salt. Mix together and pour in 1/4 cup of milk. Stir batter until blended. Place the egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk the yolks together. Empty the milk mixture into the bowl of egg yolks and whisk together. Set aside.

Take the remaining amount of milk and pour into a saucepan over medium heat. Let come to a boil and remove. Turn the stand mixer on medium low and as it mixes, add the hot milk in a steady stream. Place a strainer over a saucepan and pour batter from the stand mixer bowl into the strainer. Discard the solids.

Take out a shallow heat proof bowl and add the butter. Microwave until butter is melted. Mix the vanilla extract into the melted butter. Add the chocolate and form an even layer on the bottom of the bowl. Pour the milk/egg mixture over the chocolate. Let sit, without stirring, for about 5 minutes. Once the five minute interval has passed, mix the custard until all is combined.

Empty custard into another shallow bowl, smoothing out evenly. Place plastic wrap over the custard and edge of bowl. Place in refrigerator for a minimum of eight hours and a maximum of 2 days.

For the oatmeal crust, start by creaming the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using another bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Stir the oats and chocolate (optional) into the sifted mixture. Empty the dry ingredients into the creamed butter/sugar mixture. Stir together until combined, making sure the oats and chocolate are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

Flatten mixture into a disc and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1/2-1 hours. While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a flat surface by dusting lightly with flour. Remove the chilled dough and roll out into one circle (about 10-10 1/2 inched in diameter) if making one tart. For several small, divide the dough into 12 of the same sized pieces. Each piece will be formed while the remainder are in the fridge. Take each piece of dough and roll out into a circle, exceeding your tart diameter by 1/2 an inch.

Place each piece of dough into the mold and press into the sides and bottom evenly. To have a smooth edge to the tart, press the excess dough down over the top edge of the tart, using the edge as a cutter.  Refrigerate lined tart(s) for a minimum of 30 minutes or covered, up to 3 days.

Once chilled, tarts are to be prepared for baking. Cover dough tightly with foil and fill with pie weights, beans or rice. Bake the covered tart shells for about 14 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully remove weights and foil. Place back in oven for an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.

As it cools, the ganache can be made. Place the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips evenly in the bottom of a shallow bowl. Set aside. Take out a saucepan and fill with the heavy cream. Put filled saucepan over medium high heat and let the cream come to a boil. Remove saucepan and pour hot cream of chocolate. Cover and let sit for 2 minutes. Then uncover and whisk until smooth.

Using a pastry brush, coat the inside of the oatmeal shell with the ganache. Refrigerate coated shells for about 30 minutes. Then fill tart shell(s) with chocolate custard, mounding slightly beyond the height of the shell. Place in refrigerator again. Also place a steel bowl in the freezer for 30 minutes for the whipped cream topping.

Remove chilled bowl from the freezer and fill with all whipping cream ingredients. Beat until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Then prepare a piping bag and fill with whipped cream.

Take out tart(s) and pipe cream on top. Now it is time to serve.

Tips and Notes:

1. Dough for shell was difficult to work with due to whole oats and chocolate. Consider grinding up oats after measuring and eliminating the chocolate in the dough, for a smoother crust.

2. You may have excess filling if not mounding high enough. Should you not want such depth of filling try cutting back ingredient measurements.

3. I found I had too much ganache and whipped cream. Since they both do not take that long to prepare, start by making 1/2 the amount. You can always make more, this way you will not have so much wasted as excess.

4. The best shallow bowls to use are microwave safe pasta bowls.
                               **LAST YEAR:Dark Chocolate Fingers**         

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Sandwich Cookies

Oatmeal cookies were not my first pick of cookies when I was growing up. Actually, I do not think they were a pick at all. However, like most people as they grow older, tastes and preferences change when it comes to food. Now, I believe that an oatmeal cookie (when made just right) can be a first pick.

I like the chewy type of oatmeal cookie. When the batter and the raisins mirror the same type of texture-it is nothing short of delicious. Raisins, in my opinion, should always be "plumped" or rehydrated prior to use. No one likes a tough, hard raisin in a cookie.

While these sandwich cookies may have you thinking a great snack for the kids, think again. With raisins soaked in pumpkin moonshine and bourbon cream in the filling, they are very much adult. Also, the flavor addition makes these a perfect addition to the holiday dessert table. This recipe makes about 3 dz sandwich cookies, depending on the size of the cookies made.

Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Sandwich Cookies
adapted from Omni Nashville Hotel

1 egg
1 tbs molasses
1 tbs vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups or 2 1/2 sticks of butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups of flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3 cups oats   
2 cups hydrated raisins (instructions/ingredients below)

2 cups raisins
1 cup pumpkin spice moonshine
1 cinnamon stick

3 tbs bourbon cream
1 tbs plus 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
3/4 cup or 1 1/2 sticks of butter
3 cups powdered sugar

Start by plumping the raisins. Pull out a saucepan and place over medium heat. Add cinnamon stick and moonshine. Let the mixture heat up and flavors meld while stirring. The cook time will be about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in raisins. Let sit for about 10 minutes, then strain and place raisins in a bowl and discard cinnamon stick. Set raisins aside to completely cool.

Before your start on the cookie batter, preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together cinnamon, flour and salt in a small bowl. Then stir in the oats. Set aside.

Fill another bowl with both types of sugar and butter. Beat for about 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg, molasses, and vanilla extract. Beat again on medium speed for another 2 minutes. Remove bowl and fold the dry ingredients into the batter. When there are no dry streaks of flour in the batter, fold in the raisins.

Scoop batter out in 1 oz or tablespoon size mounds and drop onto baking sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart. Place baking sheet in oven and let bake for about 8-10 minutes. Cookie edges and bottom will be a golden brown when done. Let cookies rest on baking sheet for 2 minutes then transfer to cooling rack. Let cool completely prior to filling.

To prepare the filling, sift powdered sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer. Then add the butter and beat for 3 minutes until smooth. Add the bourbon cream, salt and the vanilla extract and beat again for an additional 2 minutes.

To assemble, pair up the cookies so they match in size. Then pipe a tablespoon of icing in the center of the flat side of one cookie. Place another cookie on top and press together until filling is near the outer edge of the cookies.

Tips and Notes:
1. Cookies do not spread, so it is best to flatten prior to baking to get the proper form for sandwiching together.

2. The liquor store may not have the exact thing you are looking for, so just look for something that has the spice of the season. I found gingerbread whiskey. When choosing the cream liquor for the filling, it is best not to choose one that has an added flavor. Since the liquor is not baked for the filling, a flavored one will be to strong.

3. If you prefer not to have a buttercream filling, there are many other options. You can use stabilized flavored whipped cream, cream cheese or marshmallow.

4. These cookies are also great without sandwiching them.

5. To make these without liquor, dissolve 1 tsp of  pumpkin or gingerbread spice in one cup of water for the raisins and use 3 tbs of milk instead of the bourbon cream in the filling. The other option is to use flavored coffee syrup and/or creamer.
                                      **LAST YEAR: Red Velvet Twinks**

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Peanut Butter Bundt Cake

My husband is very addicted to the combination of peanut butter and chocolate. Surprisingly, there have been very few posts on my blog with this flavor combination.

This peanut butter cake has a very tender crumb, which can be attributed to the cake flour in the mix. Having the peanut butter in the batter created a crispy caramel crust on the edges of the cake.

After creating this, I decided the next time I make this, it will be in loaves instead of a bundt pan. That way the batter will take less time to bake and not be as toasty on the edges. This one was a little too crispy in an effort to make sure the cake was done in the center.

Also, the peanut butter does pair better with milk chocolate instead of semi-sweet. Semi sweet is tasty but I found it a little too bitter strong when paired with the peanut butter. Another option is to put mini chopped peanut butter cups in the batter instead of icing the cake.

Peanut Butter Bundt Cake
adapted from Penzey's Spice Catalog

5 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup butter
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 cups sugar
3  cups cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups mini semi sweet chocolate chips

In this particular recipe, you do not preheat the oven. Prepare a 10 inch bundt pan by greasing and flouring the interior. Place a cooling rack over a sheet of wax paper.

Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with butter and sugar. Cream both ingredients together by beating at medium speed for about 2 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended. Add one egg to the batter and beat for 30 seconds. Repeat this process with each egg, until all eggs have been beaten into batter. Then add the vanilla and beat for about 30 seconds.

Fold in 1/3 of the sifted ingredients. Add 1/2 cup of milk and stir until completely blended. Fold in 1/2 of the remaining sifted ingredients then stir in the remaining milk. Lastly, add the rest of the sifted ingredients and blend together.

Scoop the batter evenly into the prepared pan and place in oven. Then turn the oven on to 375 degrees. Let cake bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes and use tester to see if done. Cake may take up to 1 hour and 35 minutes to bake.

Once done, remove pan from oven and let cool for 20 minutes and invert onto cake rack to finish cooling.

For icing, place chips in a heat proof bowl with a wide bottom (like a pasta bowl). Level the chips out evenly in the bottom of the bowl. Fill a small saucepan with the heavy cream. Place over medium heat and let heat up. Once you see the first bubble from boiling, remove from heat and pour over chocolate chips. Let sit for 2 minutes and then stir until smooth.

Pour over cooled cake and let rest for 3 minutes. Scrape any chocolate off of the wax paper and spoon over cake. Wait 2 hours for icing to set before slicing and serving.

Tips and Notes:
1. A tube cake pan can also be used.
2. If you do not have cake flour, use regular flour plus cornstarch. Remove 1 tbs of flour per cup and replace with 1 tbs cornstarch. Sift together 5 times to insure cornstarch is dispersed evenly through flour.
3. Chocolate chips should be at room temperature for easier melting.
4. If you find that your cake does not come out when initially inverting, try setting the cake pan in a cold water bath a few minutes to quickly cool it for release.
                                     **LAST YEAR: Cheesecake Swirl Bars*