The end of last week marked the end of my 14th week of AHECs (also known as rural health rotations). We are required to do 8 weeks in a rural health setting as part of our medical school curriculum, but I have had such good experiences in these small towns that I chose to do another 6! This last one was definitely no exception. I got to work one-on-one with probably the second nicest radiologist I’ve ever met (father-in-law will always be first!), who taught me something new everyday, and really helped me to feel prepared for residency by letting me go through films on my own when we had free time. The staff was all so welcoming and made me feel like part of the team, and the patients are just so sweet and so in need of good healthcare in these rural areas.
I had seen this recipe for cinnamon scones almost a year ago and hunted down some cinnamon chips shortly after; but then never actually made these. Then randomly, I saw 2 of my favorite bloggers post scone recipes within days of each other, and I took it as a sign. Scones were clearly the answer of what to bring for my last day of my last rural health rotation! I ended up going with the original recipe I found, because I already had a lot of the ingredients on hand, and I liked that I didn’t have to buy a lot of heavy whipping cream or buttermilk. You can certainly use the method I used in the lemon blueberry scones, and freeze these unbaked, and then bake from a frozen state whenever a morning treat is calling. I am confident they would turn out wonderfully, as cold butter is one of the key ingredients to good scones. I’m certainly glad I had some wonderful staff members to share these with because free time + baked goods is not a good combination around here .
Cinnamon Chip Scones
- Makes 16-24 scones
- 3 cups All-purpose Flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 5 teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 2 sticks (1 Cup) Unsalted Butter
- 3/4 cups Heavy Cream
- 1 whole Egg
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 cup Cinnamon Chips
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1-1/2 teaspoon Heavy Cream
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (Unless you chose to freeze and bake later*)
2) In a large bowl, mix together flour, granulated and brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and baking powder. Cut butter into pieces, then cut into dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or 2 knifes until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cinnamon chips.
3) Mix together cream, egg, and vanilla extract. Pour into flour/butter mixture, stirring gently with a fork to combine.
4) Turn onto work surface (mixture will be very crumbly and falling apart.) Divide the dough into 2-3 equal portions. Gently press together the sides as you roll the top of each. Form either into either 2 large circles (to make 16 scones) or 3 medium circles (to make 24 smaller scones).
5) Mix together topping ingredients, stirring with a fork. Sprinkle over the top of the dough, lightly pressing.
6) Cut each circle into 8 wedges. Transfer to a cookie sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Serve with coffee.
*If freezing, flash freeze for 20 minutes, then wrap individually and store in freezer. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375º and bake for 25-30 minutes or until just beginning to brown.
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
So I finally downloaded my camera card, and realized I have way too many things I haven’t shared yet! But I decided to start with birthday cake, well because who doesn’t love birthday cake?! It has become somewhat of a tradition around here that I make my own birthday cake and then have friends over to share in eating it. Now there are those people who think that you shouldn’t have to bake on your birthday – but I would assume those are people who don’t like baking as much as I do. Really there is no other opportunity to make exactly the kind of birthday cake you’d like from start to finish, and I like to take advantage of that. Now this year I went overboard (and for me to say that is really saying something!). I decided to make a completely separate recipe of overly complicated cupcakes in addition to this three layer cake, and truthfully by the end of the day, I was starting to wonder if I’d get it all done before my birthday was over. Thankfully, John helped out a lot, but for my future reference and yours: this cake is plently on it’s own – both in terms of amount of cake and work.
First you start with a rich, moist dark chocolate cake. To really get the dark chocolate effect you should invest in some dutch processed (or dark) cocoa powder. I made the layers a day ahead, but I would guess you could even make them several days in advance and store in the fridge because they are so moist. Then you create a salted caramel, which will flavor the swiss meringue buttercream filling. Personally, I’m still kind of on the fence about swiss meringue buttercream, but I thought it worked well in this recipe because it’s not overly sweet like traditional buttercream. It also happens to be very stable, and so is able to adequately support the layers of this cake. Finally, you top it all with a dark chocolate ganache frosting and some decorative fleur-de-sel.
Although it would be really hard to top the malted chocolate and marshmallow cake of last year, this cake came close. Since I’m partial to six layer cakes, I think if I made this again that I would cut each layer in half, and then fill the additional layers with a small amount of plain salted caramel. (Simply double the recipe for caramel below.) Compared to the cupcakes I made, the caramel flavor was fairly subtle in this cake, and I think that would help to make it stronger. And if you want to save yourself some time, a traditional carmael buttercream like the one used here, would also work for the layers. This cake was quite rich, and so I decided to freeze some to take home for a second birthday celebration, and I can also say that it freezes wonderfully! Since my brother and I were born on the same day (5 years apart) we always try to get together for a fun birthday celebration – we kept it fun this year with an inflatable cake, and of course an entire table filled with desserts !
Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Cake
- Makes a 3 layer cake with 8-inch rounds (Serves ~16)
For the cake:
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2¼ cups sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2¼ tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. salt
6 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. buttermilk
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. brewed coffee
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
For the filling:
1 cup sugar, divided
¼ cup water
¼ cup heavy cream
Generous pinch of sea salt, such as fleur de sel
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1½ cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
For the frosting:
12 oz. good quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
¼ cup very hot water
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. (18 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
Pinch of salt
Fleur de sel, for finishing
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Grease and flour the edges of 3 8-inch baking pans, shaking out the excess. Line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low speed to blend. Add the vegetable oil, buttermilk, coffee, eggs, and vanilla to the bowl and mix on low speed until well blended and completely incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, using a kitchen scale if desired. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans about 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Remove the parchment paper. Can be wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator prior to assembly for 1-2 days.
To make the caramel buttercream filling, place ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a medium saucepan. Mix in the water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Stop stirring and let the caramel cook, gently swirling from time to time, until it is a deep amber color (test a drop on a white plate or bowl if necessary), watching it carefully to avoid burning. Remove the mixture from the heat and slowly whisk in the cream and then the salt. Set aside and let cool.
Combine the egg whites and the remaining ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 150-160° F and the sugar has dissolved. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes. (The bowl should be cool to the touch.)
Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated. If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (or longer - don’t worry, it will come together!) Blend in the cooled caramel until smooth and completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
To make the frosting, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Set aside and let cool to room temperature. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and water and stir until smooth. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar and salt. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, gradually blend in the melted and cooled chocolate until well incorporated. Blend in the cocoa powder-water mixture until smooth.
To assemble the cake, level the cake layers to get a more stable and cylindrical cake. Place one of the cake layers on a cake board or serving platter. Top with half of the caramel buttercream and smooth in a thick, even layer. Place a second cake layer on top and smooth the remaining caramel buttercream over that. Place the final cake layer on top. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the chocolate frosting and smooth with an offset spatula. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Before serving, sprinkle with fleur de sel.
Between pinterest, google reader, and an ever growing cookbook collection, I read a lot of recipes. Usually I file them away so that I can peruse my favorites when trying to plan a menu. But every once in a while a recipe is so memorable that it pops into your head a whole year later, while at the grocery store frantically trying to finalize the memorial day barbeque. This recipe would fall into that category.
Normally I wouldn’t think of apple pie as a traditional Fourth of July dessert, but a star spangled apple pie – well that’s entirely patriotic. It’s amazing what a few star cut outs can do for the “festive” level of a dessert. Served with ice cream, a possibly a slice of cheddar cheese, it’s perfect for summertime. And after all the saying does go, “As American as apple pie”.
The other thing I really liked about this recipe was how simple it was – most of the ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. But since the crust is really the “star” in this pie, I think a homemade one is almost imperative. I had a little bit of trouble with overbrowning, so next time I make this I plan to tent some foil over the top to help even cooking. As you may know, I’m somewhat partial to sugar, but I truly did think that the sugar crystals elevated the crust from good to great, and would probably add even more when I make this for the next patriotic holiday.
Star Spangled Apple Pie
Makes 1 9-inch pie
- Pie Crust
- 6 medium/large Granny Smith apples (about 2½ lbs.), peeled, cored and sliced
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- ¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
- 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water (for egg wash)
- Coarse sugar/Sugar sprinkles
On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the pie dough into approximately a 12-inch round. (Keep the other half of the pie dough chilled for now.) Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate, trimming the excess and crimping the edges. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes in order to help the crust hold it’s shape while baking.
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sliced apples, sugars, flour, spices and lemon juice. Toss well to combine. When the bottom crust is finished chilling, pour the apple mixture and accumulated juices into the bottom pie crust and use a spatula to even the top out slightly. Place thin slices of cold butter over the apples. Roll out the remaining pie dough on a floured work surface. Cut out numerous star shapes and use these to cover the top of the pie, using as much of the dough as possible. Brush the top and edges of the crust with the egg wash, then sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Place the pie on the upper rack and bake until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling, about 50-60 minutes. Watch carefully and tent with foil for the 2nd half of baking if necessary to prevent overbrowning. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Slightly Adapted from Annie’s Eats
I can hardly believe it but Friday marks the end of my third year of medical school! I can remember at the beginning of this year wondering how I was ever going to make it- “working” at the hospital everyday on top of studying for standardized exams every five weeks, and trying to live a somewhat normal life on top of it. Then before I even had time to get really stressed out about it – it’s over! Not complaining one bit . I am finishing up the year with pediatrics, which quite to my surprise turned out to be one of my favorite rotations of the year. I have never been one of those people who thinks, “Awwwwwwwwww, little kids are sooooooooo cute.” In fact, I kind of grouped those people into the “lovers of unicorn and all things rainbow” that I just didn’t fit in with. However, in retrospect I realize that I had never really spent enough time with the little ones in order to make such a judgement. Little kids are pretty amazing little people, and they definitely do say the darndest things. And also, children’s hospitals = 1000x cooler than adult hospitals.
So in order to commemorate the end of another very good rotation, I decided to make coffee cake for the office to enjoy. I wanted something summery yet decadent and something that would work equally well for both breakfast and dessert. I think this cake hit the nail on the head. The lemon in the batter gives it a fresh appeal, and the streusel topping makes it a crumbly delight. I really thought this cake was over the top good – and based on the number of people at the office that asked for the recipe, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. The only thing I might change for the future is to make individual serving sizes. I think it would work well in a muffin tin – just make sure you equally distribute the amazing streusel, otherwise you might cause some fights (at least when there are little kiddos involved).
Blueberry Crumble Coffee Cake
Makes a 9-inch round cake
For the Streusel:
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
For the Cake:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (3/4 stick)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 extra-large eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- zest from 1/2 a lemon
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round baking pan.
For the Streusel: Combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir in melted butter, then flour and mix well.
For the Cake: In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar on high speed for 4-5 minutes, until light. Reduce speed to low to add the eggs, then add the vanilla, lemon zest, and sour cream. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Fold in the blueberries and stir with a spatula to evenly mix in berries. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread with a knife to level the top. With your fingers, crumble all the topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely and serve. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.
Barely Adapated from Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten)
Sometimes I take for granted that certain things are not common knowledge. Now I’m not talking about fancy medical terms, chemistry or physics here, I’m just talking about day-to-day life stuff that you can’t actually put a finger on when, or how you learned it – you just know it and therefore assume that others must too. Well turtle sundaes were an example of such knowledge. I mean I literally have no idea when I discovered a turtle sundae, but I definetely just assumed it was common knowledge that they consist of pecans, hot fudge and caramel. Well let me tell you folks, this is not the case.
The first time I suggested that John get a turtle sundae – he didn’t know what it was! Blasphemy! After he ordered it and thought it was amazing, he was shocked to discover that almost every major ice cream shop in America makes some type of turtle sundae! How did he go so long without discovering this? Well I’m guessing it’s because he only recently started frequenting ice cream shops on a regular basis (perhaps because his wife has an unhealthy obsession with ice cream.) Imagine that .
When I was trying to figure out what type of birthday cake I wanted to make for John’s brother, the only request I got was “cheesecake”. Well the list of cheesecake possibilities was quite overwhelming, but I decided on this one because I was hoping that the love of turtle sundaes would run in the family. I was really looking for something that incorporated all parts of the turtle sundae into the cheesecake (not just as toppings), and I couldn’t really find one, so instead I put together a few of the things I liked best about different recipes. The results were well worth it. The crust is to-die-for and I think it would probably work well in a variety of recipes. After eating a slice of this, my sister-in-law who is from Turkey exclaimed that cheesecake may be America’s greatest invention . Be fairly warned, it is really hard to eat more than a sliver of this because it’s quite rich, but if you find yourself with leftovers, I think this would freeze wonderfully.
P.S. Sorry I’ve been MIA from the blog lately. Surgery clerkship has gotten the best of me. It’s true what they say – you really do work 14 hour days, but for the most part I’ve really been enjoying it. Future surgeon? We shall see….
- Make 1- 9 inch round
For the Crust:
- 1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
- 2/3 cup finely ground pecans
- 3 T. packed brown sugar
- 6 T. melted butter
For the Filling:
- 4 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened (I used 2 regular, 2- 1/3 less fat)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup PLUS 1 teaspoon flour, divided
- 2 T. heavy whipping cream
- 1- ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- ½ cup milk chocolate chips, melted and cooled
- 1/3 cup ice cream caramel sauce (Will be posting a homemade and easy recipe soon)
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
For the Topping:
- 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream PLUS 1-2 tablespoons depending on preference
- Pecan halves and additional caramel topping for garnish
To Make the Crust:
- Pre heat oven to 400 F. Wrap 9-inch spring foam pan with heavy duty foil or parchment-foil paper (this is all I had and it worked wonderfully). Be sure to wrap both sides of the pan because you don’t want any water seeping through the cracks when you bake it in a water bath.
- Mix all crust ingredients until combined. Press into 9 inch pan, pressing firmly and evenly. Bake at 400° for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely before filling.
To Make the Filling:
- In a large bowl beat cream cheese and sugars until well combined. Then beat in 1/4 cup of flour, vanilla, and eggs until well combined.
- Remove a heaping cup of cream cheese mixture and combine with melted chocolate. Pour mixture over cooled crust.
- Combine pecans, caramel sauce and flour (not pictured here because I forgot it, but add it to stop caramel from leaking). Drop pecan mixture over chocolate layer.
- Pour remaining plain cream cheese mixture over top and spread evenly. Place spring foam pan in a large, deep pan and add about 1 inch of water to larger pan to create a water bath.
- TURN OVEN DOWN to 325º and bake for about 1 hour 20 minutes, or until the top appears dull. Carefully remove springfoam pan from water bath, and cool for 10 minutes. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
To Make the Topping
- Place chocolate chips in a heat-proof measuring cup. Bring cream to a boil over medium heat. Pour hot cream over chocolate chips and stir to combine. Pour ganache over cooled cheesecake and spread evenly. *NOTE: if you would like the ganache to drip down the sides, like the effect in this cake, add another tablespoon or 2 of cream to the mixture and make sure it is still very warm when you pour it over the cake.
- Top ganache with pecans, and drizzle caramel sauce before serving.
Inspired by Taste of Home
As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I used to live in Louisiana. I’ve also mentioned how much I absolutely love it, but I’m just going to tell you again. It has got to be the most cultural place in America. It’s the kind of place where you go to take your trash out and end up spending the evening sharing a beer with your neighbor as you sit on the sidewalk. It’s also the kind of place where any excuse to celebrate is not taken for granted. Pretty sure there is no other place in America that gets a whole week off school in the middle of February. And most importantly, it’s the kind of place that seriously knows good food. King cake is no exception.
Now originally king cake was a rather plain cake filled with cinnamon and sugar, and the toppings were the really delicious part; but as we tend to do in America, we have made it more and more gluttonous over the years. Nowadays even the most famous bakeries like Gambino’s , serve cream cheese filled king cake as their “simple” selection. I’ve also heard that the bread has gotten much sweeter over the years, but I’m not complaining. This was a delicious and pretty simple recipe, even though I managed to mess it up a bit. There are quite a few steps, but each of them takes less than 20 minutes of hands on time. The problem I ran into was that I attempted to roll the dough into a huge rectangle, which made for a huge mess when I went to fill it with the cream cheese filling, but I have adapted the instructions below to make for an easier outcome. Other than that, this recipe really surprised me with how easy, and pretty much foolproof it was. I promise if you make it as soon as you get home from work, you will still be able to eat it for Fat Tuesday!
King Cake with Cream Cheese Filling
Makes 1 round king cake, about 10 servings
- 2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
- 8 ounces sour cream
- ¼ cup + 1 T. granulated sugar, divided
- Pinch of salt
- 1 package (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
- ¼ cup warm milk (between 100 and 110 degrees)
- 1 egg
- 3 to 3½ cups all-purpose flour
- Oil for your hands and the bowl
- 8-ounce package cream cheese
- 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
- 3 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- 4 tablespoons whole milk
- Pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, separated into 3 bowls
- yellow, green, and purple (or blue + red) food coloring
- Bean/plastic baby for tradition
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the butter, 1/4 c. of sugar and salt. Stir. Once butter has melted, add the sour cream and heat until lukewarm. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, add ¼ cup warm water, yeast, and 1 tablespoon of the sugar; stir. Allow the yeast to sit for about five minutes until it bubbles and becomes active.
2. Once the yeast is active, whisk in the warm butter/sour cream mixture, the egg, and 1 cup of the flour. Whisk until smooth. Using an oiled wooden spoon, being mixing in small amounts of the remaining flour until you form a soft dough. This will take about another 2 1/4 cups of flour. You want the dough to be tacky, but not sticky.
3. Using the dough hook of a mixing bowl, knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 5-8 minutes, adding flour by the teaspoon if the dough is stickin to the sides of the bowl, more than itself.
4. Place the ball of dough into a large, well-oiled bowl, then flip the dough so all of the surface area of the dough is oiled. Cover the bowl with oiled plastic wrap, then set the bowl in a warm, draft-free area and allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
5. To make the filling: beat together the cream cheese, sugar and flour until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and stir to combine.
6. Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Lightly flour the dough and a rolling pin. Roll the dough into a rectangle about 24 inches long and 6 inches wide.
7. Dollop the filling down the center of the long strip of dough. Then fold each edge up and over the filling till they meet at the top; roll and pinch the edges together, to seal the filling inside as much as possible. Don’t worry about making the seal look perfect; it’ll eventually be hidden by the icing and sugar.
8. Place the log of dough seam side down or to the side onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. (A ring mold would be most helpful for this, but I didn’t have one). into the prepared ring mold, seam down or to the side (just not on top), or onto the baking sheet. The dough will be very extensible, i.e., it’ll stretch as you handle it. So pick it up and position it in the pan quickly and gently. Pinch the ends together to form a ring. Cover and let rise for about an hour, until it’s puffy. Preheat the oven to 350°F while the dough rises.
9. Once risen, bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Once golden, remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
10. While the cake is baking, make the sugar. (This can also be made far in advance). Combine 1/2 cup of sugar with a few drops of food coloring and stir continously until desired color is reached. *Gel colors will also work here, but you need to work the color into the sugar by pressing against the bottom of a spoon.
10. Once the cake is mildly cool, it is tradition to poke a small plastic baby, or a dried bean somewhere in the cake. Whoever gets this piece in their cake is supposed to buy/make the king cake for next year.
11. While the cake is cooling, make the icing. Combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth. Pour over the cooled cake. Before the icing has set (ie within 10-15 minutes), sprinkle sugar over the icing in 3 equal portions.
Based on my experience thus far in life, I can firmly say that you can never go wrong with pumpkin flavored anything and cream cheese frosting. I made a different version of these cupcakes last year, and there are a few things I liked about each recipe. Last year’s recipe was ridiculously moist, but almost to the point where the cupcakes stuck to the wrapper and couldn’t support the weight of the frosting when you went to take a bite. I liked this new recipe because the cupcakes are a little bit sturdier, and you don’t have to use part of a box of cake mix (what does one do with a left over 2/3 cup of cake mix? ). Plus, when I’m going to the trouble of making cupcakes from scratch I really prefer ones made with unique ingredients that wouldn’t be part of a box mix – like butter instead of oil and buttermilk for some extra moisture. I used to think that recipes that called for buttermilk were a bit annoying because you generally have to buy a whole quart, but I’ve found it lasts a lot longer than milk (like over a month) and I’ve found several other things to do with it in that time – like John’s birthday cake, ranch dressing, and then these cupcakes. But as I said before, you can’t go wrong with pumpkin and cream cheese so if your so inclined, try both recipes!
I actually made these for the children’s Halloween party that our medical school hosts every year. Now technically this party if for children with diabetes, and while you might think cupcakes wouldn’t be the best idea, the point of the party was to help the children learn how to balance their carbohydrates with their insulin. (And it is really hard to find low carbohydrate halloween desserts). So I made a double batch of these cupcakes, and calculated that each cupcake with frosting has 35 grams of carbohydrate. I got about 40 cupcakes from the double batch, and saved a few to take with us to Cincinnati for my now living in Ohio brother and sister -in-law. These went so fast that I’m pretty sure my father-in-law thought he wasn’t going to get one. Apparently they were also a big hit at the halloween party – but really what kid can resist sprinkles?
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Yield: 20-24 cupcakes with piped frosting
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/3 c brown sugar, lightly packed
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
For the Icing:
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 stick butter (softened)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 10 oz powdered sugar (about 3 cups), sifted
To Make the Cupcakes:
Line two muffin pans with cupcake liners; set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the vanilla until fully incorporated.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In another small mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin and buttermilk until smooth.
Turn the stand mixer on to the lowest setting and alternately add the dry ingredients and the pumpkin mixtures to the creamed butter. Start and end with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
Spoon the batter into the pans, filling about 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool enough to handle and then move to a cooling rack. Store in airtight containers until frosted. Store frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator.
To Make the Icing:
Cream the butter, cream cheese and vanilla together on high speed. Add the powdered sugar, a small amount at a time and blend until smooth and creamy. To ice the cupcakes using a pastry bag, chill icing in the refrigerator or freezer for about 15 minutes in order to harden the icing enough to frost. Alternatively, frosting can be added immediately to cooled cupcakes using an offset spatula.
Icing inspired Ina Garten
For as long as I can remember, I have loved making from scratch birthday cakes. One of the first ones that comes to mind is a chocolate hazelnut birthday cake for my brother’s (and my) birthday. Unfortunately, I somehow measured the wrong amount of hazelnuts in that cake, and it pretty much ruined Nutella for me for at least 5 years (don’t worry, I’ve now come to my senses). There were other times in college, where cooking in a small dorm kitchen that literally had no cooking utensils seemed like a great idea. There was freshman year, where I figured I had nothing better to do than to make a 3 layer meringue cake with whipped cream and fruit. There were several $50 german chocolate cakes, since they required buying not only the ingredients, but also pans, bowls and something to stir with. There were multiple coffee cheesecakes that served as birthday cakes, pies that served as birthday cakes and then of course the most recent Malted Chocolate and Marshmallow Six Layer Cake.
So last year, when John’s only wish for his birthday cake was boxed chocolate cake mix with simple whipped cream as the frosting, I was slightly appalled. I made the cake, I even ate a piece, and I was glad he liked it, but seriously - how boring! As his birthday approached this year, I was almost afraid to ask what kind of cake he might like, because I knew that no matter what I suggested, he would come back with the same chocolate cake with whipped cream. Then this cake popped into my mind, or rather popped up on my google reader. I had seen it earlier on Annie’s blog, but it was way back in January when I wasn’t thinking about October birthdays. I immediately knew that this would be the perfect birthday cake for John because it’s basically a dressed up of version of his favorite. The flavors are still simple, but the ganache adds just that oomph it needed to make it not only more delicious but also quite stunning. The strawberries are obviously optional, but they certainly add to the presentation. I sized down the original recipe because everyone mentioned how it was such a tall cake, and I felt a little guilty putting 4 cups of sugar in a cake (but of course, in my head, 3 was fine). I thought it came out perfectly with a slightly downsized recipe, and so that is the version I have included below. This cake is definitely a keeper and I’m really glad I was able to find something that both I enjoyed making and John enjoyed eating. Happy Birthday baby! I still love you no matter what kind of birthday cake you want !
Yield: 3- 9 inch layers
For the cake:
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup canola oil
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
For the frosting:
4 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
For the chocolate topping:
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup light corn syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract
To make the cake layers, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line three 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Butter and flour the inside edges of the pan, shaking out the excess flour.
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, water and canola oil; heat until the butter is melted. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, cocoa powder, and flour; whisk to blend. Pour the melted butter mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, then whisk in the buttermilk. Add the baking soda, salt and vanilla to the bowl and whisk just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each cake layer and invert onto a wire cooling rack. Allow the cake layers to cool completely before frosting, at least 2 hours.
To make the frosting, add the heavy cream to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and continue to whip until thoroughly combined and stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over-beat!
To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a cake platter and spread a layer of the whipped cream frosting over the top. Top with a second cake layer, more frosting (and the third cake layer, if using). Frost the top and sides of the assembled cake. Refrigerate until the frosting has stabilized, at least 1 hour.
To make the chocolate glaze, place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit 1-2 minutes. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and homogenous. Blend in the corn syrup and vanilla. Pour the glaze into a pitcher or measuring cup and let cool for 10 minutes. (Do not let the glaze cool longer or it may become difficult to pour over the cake.) Slowly pour the glaze over the cake, ensuring that the top is covered and the glaze drips over the sides.
Refrigerate the cake until the glaze is set and the whipped cream frosting is firm, at least 1 hour. Slice with a long, sharp knife, wiping the blade clean between slices.
I promised you that there would be more raspberry recipes to come, and I don’t lie. I made this as part of the dinner part I had with my family over labor day weekend, but the truth is we ate so much of it for dinner that I felt the need to make another pie the next day . I’m planning on making a 3rd one, likely today, that’s how much I love this pie.
Now to give you an idea of why this must be the best ever raspberry pie, you should know that I am not much of a fruit pie fan. I’m not one to turn down any dessert, but fruit pie would never be my first choice. This pie is an exception. I really think it is the best recipe ever created for raspberry pie. I have never met a person who didn’t love it, and my mom has been making it every year since I can remember. Now there are a few keys to this pie that make it so delicious. First of all it really does help if you use good quality raspberries. I’ve bought a few of the store bought variety this year and have been sorely disappointed. This could be because I bought them before they were truly in season, but still I think raspberries are best either hand-picked or bought from a farmers market. Second, it uses crème de cassis or blackberry liqueur. I know that it’s a pain to buy one bottle of liqueur that you only use for one recipe, but that bottle will last you through several years of raspberry pie making – so it’s totally worth the investment. And third, there is butter and lemon slices in the pie filling itself – how can you go wrong.
For a while I have tried to avoid the realization that homemade pie crust is about 7864 times better than store-bought, mostly because I have been trying to avoid the extra work that comes with making homemade pie crust. However, I have (somewhat remorsefully) come to my senses. Homemade pie crust is just so much better. Its flakier, it melts in your mouth and it doesn’t have artificial taste that hints through in store bought crust. Since I learned the trick about rolling the pie crust out between 2 pieces of parchment paper, it has become infinitely easier to make. I think it is totally worth the extra 10 minutes, but I won’t tell if you still want to use store-bought . I haven’t included a recipe for pie crust here because it seems that everyone has there own favorite. I used a recipe from the pioneer woman, but I can’t say I’ve tried enough to really say it is the best ever. And really, if you are trying to save time my mom has made this countless times with store bought pie crust and I have still loved it. I also would guess that you could easily make this into a blackberry pie but I have never tried this since I love raspberries. If you do, let me know how it turns out!
Best Ever Raspberry Pie
- Makes 1 standard 9 inch pie
- 5 cups raspberries (2 1/2 pints)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup Crème de Cassis or blackberry liqueur
- 4 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons butter sliced paper thin
- 3 paper thin slices of lemon (a mandoline would be best for this)
- Top and bottom layer of pie crust
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- Toss raspberries and sugar gently together in mixing bowl.
- In a measuring cup, whisk liqueur and cornstarch together until smooth.
- Stir Cassis mixture, lemon juice and salt gently into berries.
- Line a standard 9 inch pie pan with crust. (Do not use a deep dish pie unless you significantly increase the number of berries) Spoon in the berries, and arrange lemon slices and butter over the berries.
- With the top pie crust layer, cut it into about ½ inch strips, preferably using a pastry cutter like this. Arrange over berries in a lattice pattern, alternating under-over. Crimp the edges of the pastry together. (This was the first pie we made)
- Set on the middle rack of the oven and bake at 425F for 15 minutes. *Then lower heat to 350F and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling.
Slightly adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook
I know there are about 400 different recipes available for key lime pie. I have made my fair share of them, but it seems that I always go back to this recipe. It is not particularly traditional and it certainly takes some short cuts, but I think that’s why I like it. It’s easy to put together, doesn’t require a huge list from the grocery store and still tastes better than any store-bought version. In fact, I can remember making this on more than one occasion while we were vacationing at the beach without access to my usual kitchen repetoire. If you are having trouble finding key lime juice with the other drinks, try looking in the cocktail aisle as sometimes I’ve found it there. This pie also happens to be a lightened version, which no one would know, but generally just gives you an excuse to eat more than one piece .
I know that summer is coming to a close, but perhaps if you are looking for something to take to a labor day bbq today, you could have this ready in time. Besides, I would guess that we might be blessed with a few more hotter than h-e-double hockey sticks days before summer officially goes away. And heck, this pie is so good that no one is going to complain if you serve it in the middle of fall at thanksgiving dinner.
Quick and Light Key Lime Pie
- Makes 1 9-inch pie
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/2 cup Key lime juice (I use Nellie and Joes)
- 1 teaspoon grated lime rind
- 1 (14 oz) can reduced fat sweetened condensed milk
- 1 reduced fat graham cracker crust (6 oz)
- 2 cups lite whipped topping, thawed
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Beat eggs and egg whites with a mixer on medium until well blended. Add juice, lime rind and milk and blend.
3. Pour mixture into crust and bake for 20 minutes. Center should be almost set, but will set more as it cools.
4. Cool pie on wire rack. Transfer to refrigerator and chill for 4+ hours. Top with cool whip before serving.
Slightly adapted from Cooking Light
If I had my choice of desserts, pineapple upside down cake would not be at the top of my list. Well at least it wasn’t until I made this cake. If you think like me, you might think that pineapple upside down cake is stuck in the 1980s. While I must admit that the ho-hum yellow-tan color occasionally mixed with the bright red of a maraschino cherry is somewhat unappetizing and does indeed remind me of 1980s wallpaper, I must give some respect to the deliciousness that is this cake.
I made this for my dad’s birthday because for as long as I can remember, it has been his favorite cake. Perhaps this is because I was raised in the 80s, at a time when yellow-tan was in style. Or perhaps my dad has not ventured out into the world of other cake flavors. But most likely I think that my dad just realized that this is a simple cake base that could be eaten on it’s own, combined with a pineapple-carmel syrup that is to die for.
When I decided that I was going to make this for his birthday, I searched high and low for what I thought would be the best recipe. I have made a few pineapple upside down cakes in the past, but I wanted something that would be truly exceptional. While I am not normally one to alter a baking recipe much from the original, I had to make an exception for this cake. I ended up combining the best parts from 2 separate recipes so that I could get a rich cake that would fit in a 9-inch pan and not use the entire pound of butter. I think it turned out to be a success. The cake has a rich and nutty flavor and is so moist in part because of the sour cream and pineapple juice and in part because of the rich syrup sauce it is drenched in. Of course the pineapple itself is on the of the best parts, so feel free to use real pineapple if you have it handy. I have a feeling that I will be making this around September 1st again next year .
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
- Makes one 9-inch cake
- 1-20 oz can pineapple slices in juice (reserve juice)
- 3/4 stick unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cake flour
- 1/4 cup ground almonds
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice
- 10 Tablespoons butter (1 stick + 2 T.)
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup light sour cream
1. Heat brown sugar and butter in a saucepan over medium heat until bubbling (several minutes). Remove from heat and pour mixture into a non-stick 9 inch cake pan. Place slices of pineapple over the sauce, cutting pieces as necessary to fit as many as possible.
2. Preheat oven to 325º.
3. Whisk flours, almonds, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a mixer blend sugar and butter. Add eggs, one at a time and then mix in vanilla and pineapple juice. Once blended slowly add the flour mixture, alternating with the sour cream. Batter will be thick.
4. Pour batter on top of pineapple slices in pan. Bake at 325 for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
5. Cool for 5-10 minutes and then invert cake on a rimmed plate to insure no juices are lost. Serve warm or refrigerate for 1-2 days before serving.
I have been wanting an ice cream maker all summer (or maybe even all my life), but I faithfully waited until my birthday hoping to get one. I did get some really wonderful presents, but an ice cream maker wasn’t one of them. I may or may not have had a slight freak out about this incident which may or may not have precipitated an emergency run to the store on my birthday to pick one up. Basically you don’t want to mess with me and ice cream. Needless to say, now I have an ice cream maker .
My first order of business with my new toy was a raspberry ice cream with large chocolate chunks. While the recipe stated that it made about one quart, about 5 minutes into churning there was ice cream pouring out of the top of the 1 1/2 quart machine. It really didn’t freeze and while it didn’t taste awful, I ended up having to throw it out.
However once we got back from vacation I was determined to tackle the infamous French ice cream. I poured through “The Perfect Scoop”, looking for the perfect ice cream, an I finally decided on coffee ice cream because it’s John’s favorite and I liked that it would perfectly complement some large chocolate chunks. I will warn you in advance that this ice cream is VERY coffee flavored. This is in part due to the fact that I ended up steeping the coffee beans with the milk for several hours while I was running errands, so if you want a milder flavor, steep the beans for a shorter period of time. With the chocolate chunks, I was trying to replicate the famous Grater’s ice cream, but I found that they were slightly more hard than I would’ve liked. If you are brave enough you can add extra oil to the chocolate, which will keep it softer in the ice cream. You could also try making truffles and adding them to the ice cream, but I was trying to keep it simple.
Coffee Ice Cream with Chocolate Chunks
- Makes about 1 quart
- 1 -1/2 cups whole milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 -1/2 cups whole coffee beans
- Pinch of salt
- 1- 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coffee
For the Chocolate chunks
- 4 oz dark chocolate (60% cacoa)
- 1 T. vegetable oil
1. Begin by warming milk, sugar, coffee beans, salt and 1/2 cup of heavy cream in a saucepan. Once warmed through, cover, remove from heat and let steep at room temperature for about 1 hour. If you’d like a stronger flavor, continue to steep in the refrigerator for 2-4 more hours.
4. Slowly pour the warm coffee bean-milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly in order to temper the yolks. Then scrape the warmed egg yolk mixture with coffee beans back into the saucepan.
5. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir. The mixture should thicken and coat the spatula. If you have a reliable thermometer, the temperature should be 170-175° when the custard is done.
6. Once the custard is thick, pour it through the strainer into the cream and stir. Press on the coffee beans to extract as much flavor as possible, then you can discard the beans. Mix in vanilla and finely ground coffee and stir until cool. To cool the ice cream more quickly, you can place the bowl in an ice bath in the sink and continue to stir.
7. To make the chocolate chunks, melt chocolate and oil in the microwave. Stir to mix and then poor mixture onto a rimmed plate. Cool in the freezer until hard. Break the chocolate into chunks and keep cold until ready to use in the ice cream.
8. Chill the milk mixture in the refrigerator and then freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. When there are about 5 minutes left of freezing time, add the cold chocolate chunks and allow them to mix in. Make sure to chill the bowl adequately before churning the ice cream (most machines required 20+ hours of chilling time). Store ice cream in an air tight container in the freezer.
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz