Sunday, December 22, 2019

Chocolate Chip Nut Loaf

I believe it was Latin America that first came up with the cinnamon chocolate flavor combination. Today, you can find cinnamon hot chocolate along with several recipes that make use of this wonderful flavor combination.

This particular recipe is one of those. It is a sweet loaf bread made with sour cream which guarantees that the bread is moist. Also, it has chocolate chips in the batter.  If that is not enough, there is a layer of cinnamon and walnuts which adds a tasty sweet crunch.

If you have never tried the chocolate cinnamon flavor combination, you have been missing out. If the flavor combination is new to you or an old favorite, this recipe is a good example of how delicious the combination can be.

Chocolate Chip Nut Loaf
adapted from Food Network 

Cinnamon Sugar blend
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/3 cup sour cream
3/4 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9x5 inch loaf pan with non stick spray. Using a small bowl, whisk together the cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with eggs and beat for 3 minutes until they are foamy. Add 2/3 cup of sugar and vanilla and blend until smooth. Then blend in melted butter and sour cream until incorporated into batter.

Using a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder. Using a wooden spoon, mix the dry ingredients into the sour cream batter. Once no dry streaks remain, blend in chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

Divide the batter in half. Scoop one half of the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the batter, reserving 3 tablespoons for the top of the loaf. Then carefully sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the cinnamon layer, making sure layer is even and covers the whole surface. Then scoop out the rest of the batter and smooth it over the walnut layer. Lastly, sprinkle with the reserved cinnamon sugar.

Place in oven and bake until tester comes out clean, about 50-55 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest in pan about 5 minutes then invert twice so the loaf is face up. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.

Tips and Notes:

1. The original recipe states use 2/3 of the cinnamon sugar blend in the center and the rest on top. The sugar on top remained dry so a lot fell off when inverted. I decided it was best to use more in the center layer than on top, so the recipe was changed.
                             **LAST YEAR:Peanut Butter Cut Out Cookies**

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Praline Bundt Cake

One thing about it, pecans are a favorite in our house. I always have to have a big bag kept on hand for baking. We have a place close to us that sells in bulk that has their own website, so it makes it convenient.

Having a cake with the flavor of pralines is a southern treat. This cake has cream cheese and sour cream in it which makes it quite moist.  Crushed candied pecans also makes a great crowning touch. Since I have yet to know anyone that hates pecans, I feel that this cake is at home on any dessert table.

The cake pan was sprayed with non stick cooking spray and it fell right out with no issues. It did rise above the center hole about an inch so it has a thick bottom, it would not sit flush with the cake plate. However, it did not detract from the general appearance or taste of the cake.

If you are looking for a southern dessert, you have landed on the right post.

Praline Bundt Cake
adapted from Southern Living

1 cup chopped pecans
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter
8 oz cream cheese
16 oz dark brown sugar
8 oz sour cream
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
chopped sugared pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast pecans in a single layer in the oven for 5-7 minutes or until fragrant. Let cool for 15 minutes. Then reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Spray the interior of a 10 cup bundt pan with non stick cooking spray.

Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with butter and cream cheese. Beat at medium speed, scraping down sides of bowl when necessary.  Once mixture is smooth, add brown sugar in increments, beating after each addition until blended. After all the brown sugar is incorporated add one egg and beat for 30 seconds. Repeat process for additional eggs.

Using another bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add 1/3 of sifted ingredients to butter mixture and blend with a wooden spoon. Then add half of the sour cream, mixing until incorporated. Repeat process ending with dry ingredients. Stir in toasted pecans and vanilla extract until evenly distributed. Spoon batter into prepared cake pan and lightly tap on counter to get rid of any air pockets.

Place pan in oven and bake until tester comes out clean, approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Place cooling rack over wax or parchment paper. Remove cake and leave in pan for 20 minutes to cool. Then invert cake onto rack to finish cooling.

After cake has cooled, prepare icing. Fill a saucepan with brown sugar, butter and milk and place over medium heat. Stir as the butter melts down. Let the mixture come to a boil and then set your timer for one minute. Remove from heat and add powdered sugar. Whisk until all the sugar is dissolved then stir in vanilla extract. Then spoon over cake and let drip down sides. Sprinkle surface with candied pecans.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Butterscotch Peanut Butter Bars

Having come across this recipe, I was curious about the flavor combination. Peanut butter and butterscotch together in one recipe is quite unique.

The flavors do compliment each other. The bar itself has a chewy texture that stems from the oats included in the mix. It is a peanut butter bar but the surface has the real combo of flavors with butterscotch chips on top along with a peanut butter glaze. The butterscotch chips heightens the sweetness. That surface combo is what makes them very rich.

Since most peanut butter has sugar in it there is not contrast, the butterscotch is just sweeter than the peanut butter. Had the recipe called for natural peanut butter, it would have been a salty/sweet bar. Perhaps not natural peanut butter but store bought peanut butter with no added sugar is a thought on attaining salty/sweet bars.

Butterscotch Peanut Butter Bars
adapted from Food network 

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup quick oats
6 oz butterscotch chips

1 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup milk

Prepare a 9x13 inch pan by greasing the interior with butter. Also, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the bars, start by sifting the flour, salt and baking soda together. Then whisk in oats and set aside. Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with butter, both types of sugars and 1/2 cup of peanut butter. Beat with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla and egg. Then incorporate the mixture into the peanut butter batter by mixing on medium speed.

Then, using a wooden spoon, fold the sifted ingredients into the batter until just combined and no dry streaks remain. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth out into the pan by using a spatula. Sprinkle butterscotch chips evenly over the surface of the batter. Place in oven and bake until edges are golden, about 20 to 25 minutes.

While the bars are baking, make the glaze by mixing all ingredients together until smooth. Pour over warm bars. Once completely cool, cut into squares.

Tips and Notes:

1. My bars took 25 minutes to bake.
2. I thought that the butterscotch chips would settle and melt more into the bars while baking, but they did not change much and remained on the surface.
3. These are not a thick bar, but are still quite satisfying as is.
                                   **LAST YEAR:Maple Date Loaf**

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Millionaires Candy

The last time I made candy it was some type of fudge. As you probably know, fudge has a lot of steps and a lot of beating time. Not the easiest thing to make. However, this recipe is quite the opposite. In fact, the process was so easy I almost made a second batch right after I finished with the first. This is a great time saving recipe for the holidays with tasty results.

The delicious combination of chewy carmel and crunchy pecans will have everyone reaching for seconds. These candies are stored in the freezer, but when you pull them out they take only a few minutes to reach the chewy stage. This recipe yields 64 pieces, depending on the size of the candy clusters.

Millionaires Candy
adapted from 

3 cups chopped pecans
14 oz caramels (about 50 pieces)
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
24 oz dipping chocolate or almond bark

Fill a saucepan with caramel pieces and sweetened milk. Place over medium low heat and let carmels melt, stirring occasionally. Do not let boil. Once caramels are melted stir in the pecans until evenly distributed throughout the caramel. Set aside from heat and let cool for 30 minutes to an hour.

Prepare 2 baking sheets by lining with foil and spraying with non stick spray. Once the candy has cooled, scoop into tablespoons and drop on prepared pans, leaving space between each. After all the candy has been formed into mounds, place baking sheets in the freezer. Let freeze for a minimum of 2 hours or maximum of overnight.

After the chilling time, melt the chocolate coating according to the manufacturer. Also, place 2 sheets of wax or parchment paper on a flat surface. Take one baking sheet out of the freezer at a time. Using a large fork, dip candy clusters in chocolate, making sure to cover all sides and place on paper to harden. After dipping all the clusters from that baking sheet, take out the next to dip and finish.

Store candy in freezer.

                                **LAST YEAR:Nutmeg Cake**

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Palm Beach Mint Brownies

With the holidays coming up, I have started to see recipes with peppermint. One of the traditional candies of the Christmas holiday is the peppermint candy cane. This candy first started out all white and strait. They were bent to use to decorate Christmas trees. The red color was added along with peppermint flavor. As years passed, they always reappear around the Christmas holiday, sometimes found on Christmas cards or handed out to children.

Since I do not favor the hard peppermint candy, that discounts quite a number of recipes. However, I love peppermint patties. Once I came across this recipe, I could not pass it up. Fudgey brownies filled with a peppermint patties makes for an extra special treat. Beware though, they are very rich so a little piece goes a long way.

If you love mint patties like I do and are looking for brownies with a little something extra then this is the recipe for you.

Palm Beach Mint Brownies
adapted from Maida Heatter via 

8 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 (11.5 oz) bags peppermint patties
5 eggs, room temp.
1 cup or 2 sticks butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tbs plus 1 tsp espresso powder
3 3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 2/3 cup flour
2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts

Set up a double boiler and fill top pot with chocolate and butter. Let water simmer in bottom pot and stir chocolate mixture occasionally until all is melted and blended together. Set aside.

Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with eggs, vanilla, almond extract, sugar, espresso powder and salt. Using the paddle attachment, beat the mixture on high speed for 10 minutes. During this time, the mixture will get pale and triple in volume.

As the mixer is running, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare a 9 X 13 inch pan by lining with foil and greasing the interior with butter or non stick spray. Take out a bowl and unwrap mints, leaving about 15 still wrapped which you will not be using.

Once the 10 minute beating time has expired, remove bowl from mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in chocolate mixture (it may still be warm, but it is ok) until fully blended into batter. Then fold in flour, making sure no dry streaks remain. Lastly, fold in chopped walnuts.

Using a measuring cup, reserve out 3 1/2 cups of the batter. Take this reserved amount and fill the prepared pan, smoothing the surface. Then layer each of the mint patties on top, having the edges touch each other but not overlapping. Cover the whole surface. Then top with the remaining batter, smoothing it out evenly over the patties.

Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Remove foil and refrigerate overnight before cutting into bars.

Tips and Notes:
1. The original recipe did not state the size of the bags, but the smallest size I found was 11.5 oz.

2. I got a large bag of peppermint patties so I did not test the size and the noted leftovers in the recipe.

3. The original recipe states the chocolate and butter can be done in the microwave, but since there was no specifics on time I just went with the safer method of a double boiler.

4. There is mention that the edges may bake up to hard and that area may be trimmed off. I ate edges and all, but I did find it a little hard.

                          **LAST YEAR:Apple Spice Ice Cream**


Saturday, October 26, 2019

Rum Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

This recipe was a hit at our house. Not much left after the first day. I did make a few alterations, one being the pan size and preparation of the pineapple rings. The original recipe calls for 1 12" cast iron skillet. I used a 9X13 size pan. Also, I chose to eliminate the maraschino cherries, filling the center of the rings with the macadamia nuts. The recipe does not specify light or dark brown sugar, but I opted for light.

The one thing I liked is that the moist cake is only one inch to and inch and a half thick. I feel that it makes a better balance than a thicker cake. I was worried that the rum would be too strong, but there is only a hint of rum taste which comes from the rings, which is just enough.

If your looking for something tropical and easy to make, this is the recipe for you. Just plan ahead because the rings soak in rum overnight.

Rum Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup spiced rum
1-20 oz can of pineapple rings (reserving  2 tbs of juice)
3 eggs, separated, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

Empty juice from can of pineapple rings and set aside a few tablespoons. Also, place pineapple rings in a medium size bowl. Pour spiced rum over rings. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a skillet over medium heat and melt butter and brown sugar together. Don't overcook the brown sugar butter mixture, it will turn hard. Just as soon as melted, add pineapple rings (reserving rum) and leave on low heat while you finish preparing the cake.

Using a wooden spoon, blend the egg yolks with the granulated sugar. Add 2 tbs of reserved rum and 2 tbs of pineapple juice and stir. Discard the rest of the juice and rum.

In another bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside. Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with egg whites. Beat with wire whisk attachment until stiff peaks form.

Combine the sugar/egg mixture with the sifted ingredients, blending with a wooden spoon. Then fold in egg whites.

Take a 9X13 pan and place warm pineapple rings in the bottom. Then pour sauce that is left in the pan over top, tilting pan making sure all the rings are covered.  Sprinkle macadamia nuts inside the pineapple rings. Spoon the batter over the rings, making sure that rings and nuts are completely covered.

Place in oven and bake until tester comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Remove and let cool for 20 minutes, then invert onto a cookie sheet or large pan. Serve warm or at room temperature

                                 **LAST YEAR:Macadamia Cherry Cookies**

Saturday, August 31, 2019

White Mountain Mudslide Cookies

This recipe is a spin off from the boozy mudslide drink. The drink recipe is one of coffee liqueur, irish cream and vodka. The cookie recipe has espresso chips, irish cream and whiskey. It does require some specialty ingredients, however, one bite of these delicious gems does make it worth it. Instead of the liqueur cooking out, they have irish cream extract in them which insures that they retain that flavor long after they have been baked.

Also, the original recipe stated cappuccino chips. Guittard actually made these at one time but they have been discontinued. Instead, Hershey has come out with espresso chips which are a coffee/cocoa combination, so this is what I used. Since they have cocoa in them I opted out of drizzling them with bittersweet chocolate. The Guittard cappuccino chips may not have had cocoa or chocolate in them.

They do have another drizzle on top which is simply a mixture of irish cream and confectioners sugar. They bake up soft and cakey with a rich irish cream flavor and an chock full of coffee chocolate chips. With that being said they are hard to resist. A great adult cookie for a special occasion or for when you want a cookie with a boozy kick. This recipe makes 3-3 1/2 dozen and the irish cream drizzle just enough for 3 dozen.

White Mountain Mudslide Cookies
adapted from Bed and Breakfast Inns 

2 eggs
1 tbs whiskey
1 tsp irish cream flavoring
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups espresso or cappuccino chips
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar

3/4 cup confectioners sugar
2-3 tbs irish cream
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, melted (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Fill a stand mixer bowl with butter and both types of sugars, Beat until creamy. Then beat in irish cream flavoring, vanilla extract, whiskey and eggs. Mixture should be light and fluffy.

In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Fold into butter/sugar mixture until just combined. Then mix in chips until evenly distributed. Using a tablespoon sized scoop, drop mounds of dough onto prepared baking sheets, spacing about 1-1 1/2 inches apart.

Bake until golden brown on the edges, 14-16 minutes. Let rest on baking sheet a few minutes, then transfer to rack to cool completely. Once cooled, prepare topping by sifting confectioner's sugar in a bowl, then whisk in enough irish cream (I used only 2 tbs) for drizzling consistency. Drizzle over top of cookies using a squirt bottle or a fork. Let icing set.  If you opt for the chocolate drizzle, drizzle the opposite direction over the cookies after the irish cream icing has set. Then let chocolate set before serving.
                                  **LAST YEAR:Limoncello Bundt Cake**