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**

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Apple Pie Bars

Things are in a change mode. Sometimes we welcome change, especially if it is our idea. Other times (usually someone else's idea) we find ourselves a bit resistant. All changes have their challenges which take us out of our comfort zone.  In time, however, we do make the adjustment and hopefully realize some of the good aspects about the change. Then there is the further step of it being inducted into our comfort zone.

Since I am not there yet, I decided to make something a little bit comforting. Most of us consider a slice of mother's or grandma's apple pie is something that falls into that category. These bars are easier to make than an apple pie, but you still get all the same flavor of a pie.

Apple Pie Bars
adapted from New York Times

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups butter, cubed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamon

1 1/2 lbs granny smith apples, peeled cored and sliced into 1/8"
1 1/2 lbs one choice of gala, fuju or pink lady apples prepared same as granny smith
3 tbs lemon juice
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cardamom
2/3 cup sugar

For the crust and topping, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Foil line a 9 x13 inch pan and leave an overhang on the longest sides. Butter the interior of the foil covered pan, bottom and sides. Using a food processor, pulse the flour, salt and sugar together. Then drop in butter cubes and process until it resembles a dough. Measure out 1 1/2 cups and place in bowl. Add walnuts, cinnamon and cardamom. Mix together until evenly distributed. Shape into a ball and cover. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.

Empty the remaining dough into the prepared pan and press evenly, covering bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of the pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden. Cool on wire rack and turn off oven.

To make the filling, mix the apples with the lemon juice, making sure all slices are coated. Fill a saucepan with butter and place over medium high heat and let butter melt. Then sprinkle in the cardamon, nutmeg and cinnamon. Stir until blended with the butter and let sit for 15 seconds to meld. Add the sliced apples and stir as they soften, cooking for about 5 minutes. Then mix in sugar. Stir at intervals. Mixture will become soupy and then liquids will evaporate. This process should take about 10-20 minutes. The apples should be soft and coated with the mixture but running a spoon along the bottom of the pan should leave an empty space. It is dry but not so dry that the apples are sticking.

Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature. As it cools, preheat the oven to 375. Once the apple slices are cool, empty into prepared pan. Spread evenly covering bottom and corners. Also, press down slightly to make more compact.

Remove walnut mixture from fridge. Using a fork, break the dough into clumps, about pebble-sized or smaller. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the apples. Bake until topping is golden, about 45-50 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Using foil overhang as handles, lift bars out of pan. Cut into squares and serve.
                                **LAST YEAR:Cherry Almond Eclairs**

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies

Whoopie pies originated from the Amish in Pennsylvania. The interesting thing is they were not a singular endeavor in baking. In fact, they were the result of leftover cake batter. They became such a favorite that today we mix up batter for the sole purpose of making these tasty cake-like sandwiches.

The standard is the chocolate, but since they are a spin off from cake, the flavors are endless. The flavor I chose here is carrot cake. These gems are wonderfully spiced and packed with shredded carrots. Along with carrots, there is a tasty complimentary cream cheese filling.

This recipe is from Moon River Bakey, but the website no longer exists. It is a good thing I got this recipe before it went away because it is a keeper in my book.  The recipe makes 12 whoopie pies and uses 2 whoopie pie pans.

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies
adapted from Moon River Bakery

2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter (room temp)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs (room temp)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups grated carrots

6 oz cream cheese (room temp)
2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter (room temp)

If not using non-stick pans, spray two 12 cavity whoopie pie pans with non-stick spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. For the cakes, fill a stand mixer bowl with butter and both types of sugar. Beat on medium high speed until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary. This should take about 3 minutes. Using another bowl, sift together the first 7 ingredients and set aside.

Beat one egg into the butter sugar mixture until blended. Repeat with the second egg. Blend in the vanilla extract. Take out a wooden spoon and mix the sifted ingredients into the batter until no dry streaks remain. Lastly, fold in the shredded carrots, distributing evenly throughout the batter.

Spoon heaping tablespoons of batter into the cavities, With dampened fingertips, press down the dough evenly in each cavity, so they are filled to the edges. Bake for about 12 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched.

Let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Then transfer to rack to finish cooling. Let cool completely prior to making the filling.

For the filling combine the butter and cream cheese together, beating on medium high speed for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of bowl at intervals. Sift in powdered sugar in 1/2 cup increments, beating after each addition. Once incorporated, beat in vanilla extract. Spread filling on bottom side of 12 cookies and then top each with an additional cookie. Refrigerate to store but let come to room temperature for serving.
                                **LAST YEAR: Grand Hotel Pecan Balls**

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Peach Bellini Cake

Today, I want to mention the importance of clearly written instructions in a recipe. The main reason is that writing out things (which may seem the long way) can really make a difference between a successful recipe and a failed one. For instance, you can write "beat in 4 eggs" or you can write "beat 4 eggs till pale in color about 5 minutes". Clearly, the second instruction is the better way to go.

Which brings me to this recipe. I followed the recipe exactly, but the texture of the cake was dry and dense. It was almost like it did not rise at all. My baking powder is in date, I am thinking that beating the eggs longer may have made for a less dense cake. This post is one of those recipes that have no comments and no indication that it has ever been tested. I was disappointed, but as I mentioned before, untested is a bit of a risk. The cake does need some tweaks when it comes to texture. Outside of the texture problem, the cake and the icing does have good flavor.

The cake gets its flavor from peach schnapps and champagne. The frosting is a buttercream with pureed peach.  If those flavors inspire you enough to make the cake and experiment on improving the texture, the recipe is below. The flavor still has my interest, but the due to the texture problem I would not make this recipe as originally stated again.

Peach Bellini Cake

Cake /Ingredients (adapted from Recipe Goldmine)
1/2 cup champagne
1/2 cup peach schnapps
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, room temp
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar

Buttercream/Ingredients (adapted from Southern Living Magazine)
32 oz powdered sugar
1 large peach, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9 inch round cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Start by beating together the eggs and sugar in a stand mixer (see note above concerning this step). Once blended, mix in the oil, peach schnapps, champagne and almond extract. Set aside.

Using another bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Then fold into the wet mixture until just blended. Transfer to prepared pans, dividing the batter equally between the two pans.  Place in oven and bake until tester comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Let cakes rest in pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto rack and remove parchment. Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, start by pureeing the peach in a blender. Set aside. Using a stand mixer cream butter until smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Sift in 16 ounces of powdered sugar and beat until blended. Then add the puree, mixing until incorporated. Lastly, sift in the remaining powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add more powdered sugar to reach desired consistency.

Place one cake layer on cake plate and frost the top surface. Top with the other cake layer and frost sides and top. Refrigerate to help set the frosting.

                            **LAST YEAR:Cashew Butter Blondies**