Monday, February 29, 2016

Nutella Lava Cake

In 1987, the dessert world got turned-up-side down with the creation of Molten Lava Cake by Chef Jean-George Vongerichton in New York City, although Jacque Torres disputes this saying that the dessert already existed in France.  Regardless, Vongerichton has been credited with popularizing it in the United States!

The cakes are baked in ramekins and consist mainly of four ingredients; eggs, butter, sugar, and chocolate, with a small amount of flour.  I went one step further and added that wonderful hazel nut spread, Nutella to mine.  It takes very little time to make and only about 12 minutes to bake, but the key is to serve it warm, preferably with vanilla ice cream:-D,

This dessert brings back a memory of shopping with my mother and daughters at a mall in Springfield, Virginia.  We always made time for either lunch or an ice cream treat at a place called Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour, where their motto is, "the place where old time memories for a new generation are made everyday."  My Mom and I would always, always order the Triple Hot Fudge Sundae; luscious vanilla-bean ice cream with three cups of hot fudge.  Farrells, sadly only exist on the West Coast now, having gone through a number of buy outs, but if you lived in an area where they are, you must try the Triple Hot Fudge.  In the meantime, I'm just going to be content with making my version of Lava Cake and thinking about the old time memories!

Nutella Lava Cake
4 oz. Bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup Nutella
4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400F-degrees.  Butter 4 ramekins and set on a baking sheet.

In a sauce pan, melt the butter, bittersweet chocolate and Nutella together over low heat, stirring occasionally until melted.  Set aside to cool slightly.

In a stand mixer (or medium bowl) using the whisk attachment, beat the eggs together, slowly adding the sugar.  Continuing beating until thick and lemony-colored.  Add the vanilla and sea salt and beat to combine.  Add the chocolate mixture and beat on medium to combine.  Remove bowl, and fold in the flour.

Pour or scoop the batter, dividing it among the four ramekins.

Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, but watch closely.  The sides of the cake should look set, but the centers still a "little wet."

You can serve the cake right in the ramekins, but I prefer to invert them on a dessert plate, sprinkle the tops with confectioners' sugar and add that scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

Once I split into the center and that chocolate "lava" comes oozing out, I'm right back at Farrell's with my Mom enjoying their Triple Fudge Sundae.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Upside-Down Pineapple Bundt Cake

I saw this ingenious idea for converting one of my favorite cakes from the usual Upside-Down Pineapple Cake to a Bundt version and had to make it for dessert after "Sunday" supper.  My Mom made this specialty cake in a cast-iron skillet and we all loved it, but I bet she'd like this method even better!

Of course, the one floating around on FaceBook is done with a cake mix and knowing all the preservatives that are packed in that box, I just couldn't help but pull out one of my yellow cake recipes I've done over the years.  It really is just as simple to make a true home-made version and although there's still a lot of debate over preservatives and the higher incidence of cancer, after losing our daughter, I try to stay natural.  It's my thing.

Pineapple Upside~Down Bundt Cake
1 can (20 oz.) Pineapple rings in juice
1 jar (10 oz) Maraschino Cherries
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt cake pan.  Pour melted butter in the bottom and sprinkle the brown sugar over it.  Slice the pineapple rings in half (I used all, but 2) and arrange in the bottom of the Bundt pan with a Maraschino Cherry between each slice.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
4 large eggs
3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
2 T cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.
In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter.  Slowly add the granulated sugar as the mixer is running on low.  Turn mixer to medium and beat until fluffy.  Add the vegetable oil and mix thoroughly, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Add the vanilla extract, then the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Sift the dry ingredients together and add alternately with the milk--1/3 dry ingredients, 1/2 milk, 1/3 dry ingredients, the remaining milk, and finally the last of the dry ingredients.  Mix on medium just until completely blended--don't over mix.
Gently, spoon the batter into the Bundt pan on top of the pineapple and cherries.  Place in the preheated oven for 55 minutes.  After 30 minutes, turn oven down to 325 and continue baking until a cake tester comes out cleanly from the center.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a platter.

I can't wait to slice it up for dessert and surprise my hubby--he loves this cake too and we can remember going to Mom's for Sunday dinner waiting for this favorite.  Enjoy!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Banana~White Chocolate Blondies

Yes, you're reading this right...Banana~White Chocolate Blondies!  More bananas left by hubby and needed to come up with something other than bread.  This will definitely go into my What Ya Gonna Do with all those Bananas:-D

Blondies, the antithesis to brownies substitutes brown sugar for granulated sugar and takes on a "vanilla" appearance as oppose to chocolate.  Pairing the banana with white chocolate gave this bar a wonderful flavor without being overly sweet; which I like very much.  Blondies can be frosted, but I chose to sprinkle some dried banana chips with a dusting of confectioners' sugar.  Great for a cup of tea!

Banana~White Chocolate Blondies
11 T butter (1 stick + 3T) unsalted butter
12 oz. white chocolate, chopped
3 medium bananas, mashed
2 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 1/3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
dried banana chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Lightly spray a 9" x 12" baking pan with baking spray and line with parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.  Remove from the heat and add the white chocolate. Stir until the white chocolate melts.
Pour the melted butter/white chocolate into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add the brown sugar, vanilla, mashed bananas, and eggs.  Mix on medium speed to combine. Remove bowl from the stand.

Sift the dry ingredients and fold into the butter mixture, stirring until completely combined.  Spoon mixture into the prepared pan.
Sprinkle dried banana chips over the top and press down slightly.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes until a cake tester comes out cleanly from the center.

Let stand in the baking pan for 10 minutes, then cut into bars and dust with confectioners' sugar.
These bars are perfect along, but if you have some vanilla ice cream...well, even better. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Chinese New Year Pineapple Shortbread

February 8th through the 22nd marks the Asian holiday of the New Year, also know as the Spring Festival.  For 2016, the Monkey is the sign of the Zodiac and for those born under the Monkey, it's believe that they are the most unlucky during those years.

For us, we celebrate with our lovely granddaughters, Madison and Emersyn.
I can remember in 2010, when I went to Taiwan with my daughter and son-in-law to bring Madison home and going into the bakeries and seeing these lovely Pineapple Tarts. It's a speciality during the New Year, but can also be found year round in most bakeries.  This cookie I made today reminds me of that tart with its sweet pineapple-like-jam and tender shortbread crust.

Pineapple Shortbread
3 8-oz cans Crushed Pineapple
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup Light Karo syrup
4 tsp. All-purpose flour

9 oz. (about 2 1/4 cups) cake flour
1/3 cup nonfat dry milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
12 T unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 large egg yolks

First, prepare the filling.  Drain the pineapple in a fine sieve, pressing the solids; reserve the juice for another use.  Place pineapple in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat; cook for 15 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring frequently.
Add the sugar and the salt; cook 10 minutes more or until liquid has evaporated again, stirring occasionally.  Add the corn syrup and cook 5 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently.  Finally, add the flour and cook 1 minute more or until very thick, stirring constantly.  Scrape mixture onto a baking sheet, spreading the mixture into a thin layer; cover and chill completely.
Make the shortbread.  Weigh or lightly spoon cake flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Sift together cake flour, dry milk, salt and baking powder.  Place the butter into a large bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment, beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy.  Add the confectioners' sugar, bet 2 minutes.  Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Beat 2 minutes or until fluffy.  Add flour mixture and beat at low speed just until combined.  Divide dough in half and roll into 2-10 inch logs. Cover with plastic wrap. Chill 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325F-degrees. and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Divide each log into 12 pieces and roll into a ball.  Use a rolling pin and with the dough between plastic wrap, roll into a 3-inch circle.

Place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the center and bring edges together over the filling.  Pinch edges.  Gently press into a floured 1 1/4-inch square mold or cookie cutter or shape by hand.  I thought the shaping by hand was the easiest!
Place on the lined parchment paper, about 2 inches apart.  Repeat procedure for the remaining dough, placing 12 shortbread cookies on each baking sheet.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning the bars over and rotating pan after 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool completely.

I decided to add a glaze:
1 cup Confectioners' sugar
1-2 T hot water
2 tsp. Light Karo syrup
1/8 tsp. Pineapple Flavor

Mix all the ingredients together and use an off-set spatula to glaze the top of the cookies.

Gung Hay Fat Choy!  Happy New Year and Enjoy!!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Chai Spice Bundt Cake & February's Give-Away Apron

Chai spice is a mixture of aromatic cinnamon, ginger, cardamon, allspice, anise, and black pepper.  I first learned of "chai" when Starbucks came out with a Chai Spice Latte; it was a favorite of Kelly's. In fact, in many Eurasian households the word Chai refers to tea, however, I don't like milk with my tea and it never appealed to me.

When I saw this is the King Arthur catalogue, I was hesitant to order it because of my experience with tea.  Well, I can admit, I was so wrong and this cake is not only one of the best tasting I've ever made, but even my hubby exclaimed it to be the best I've ever made!
Besides my kitchen smelling wonderful, the taste is so comforting and it only needed a dusting of confectioners' (icing) sugar to make it complete.

Chai Spice Bundt Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
2 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3 T Chai Spice
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Lightly grease a 10-cup Bundt cake pan.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar and honey until light and fluffy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.  Add the eggs, one at a time and beat 1 or 2 minutes between additions.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.  Add the vanilla extract and beat to combine.

Mix dry ingredients together and add half, alternating with the sour cream.  Mix just until combined.  Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and bake 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and cool about 10-15 minutes before turning it out onto a serving dish.  Cool completely before dusting with confectioners' sugar and slicing.  Enjoy!

Now, there is an apron to be given away this month!  The rules are simple...make a comment on any of the posts this month and you could win this beauty in delicate blues and greens.