avocado marble cake

avocado marble cake

Avocado Marble Cake (adapted from Cake Whiz)
There is very little fat in this cake. I think the avocado must replace most of the fats. It has a light, chocolate-y flavor with a moist tender crumb and a crisp baked exterior. The cake is merely pale green after it is baked.

Ingredients
For the avocado cake batter, have at room temperature:
1 ripe avocado (processed into a smooth paste so there are no lumps)
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup nonfat milk
1/2 cup whipping cream (or evaporated milk)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

For the chocolate batter to create the “marbling” effect:
1 1/2 cup avocado cake batter (same as above)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
4-5 tablespoons whipping cream (more or less may be needed to make batter smooth)
5 tablespoons sugar (omitted)

Preparation
Preheat the oven 350˚F. Spray cooking spray inside two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pans. Into the workbowl of a food processor, scrape the avocado and puree it into a smooth paste so there are no lumps. Scrape the pureed avocado into a deep mixing bowl. Then add the sugar and blend.

Add eggs, one at a time, to the avocado and blend until smooth. Continue mixing for about 3 minutes until the batter becomes green and creamy. Depending on the ripeness of the avocado, and how fast it oxidizes at room temperature, the mixture may turn from light green to the color of your grandmother’s 70s style avocado-green refrigerator.

Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix milk, whipping cream, and vanilla. Now add the flour mixture alternating with the milk mixture. Scrape down the bowl after each addition.

On low speed, add one-third of the flour mixture to the avocado-egg mixture until just incorporated. Add half of the milk mixture and mix until just blended. Add half the remaining flour until just blended. Add the remaining milk until just blended. Add the rest of the flour, mixing until just blended. Scrape down the bowl for the last time.

Now, scoop out 1 1/2 cups of this avocado cake batter and put it in a separate bowl. Add cocoa powder, sugar (omitted) and cream. Mix with a wire whisk until the batter is smooth.

Pour avocado cake batter into prepared loaf pans. Fill them a little less than half-way each.

Now, add random spoonfuls of chocolate batter on top of the avocado cake batter.

Run a small spatula in a figure eight through the batter to create a “marbling” effect. Tap pans lightly on the counter to remove any air bubbles.

Cake Baker’s Note: If you’re using a pan with a dark nonstick finish, reduce heat 25˚ and test the cake after 35 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Insert a thin blade around the edges to release the cake from the sides of the pan. Remove the cake from the pan and let cool completely right side up on the cooling rack.

Cake Baker’s Note: If you are not going to eat the cake right away, wrap cooled cake airtight in plastic wrap and store covered on the counter top 2 days.

lemony cream cheese coffee cake

lemony cream cheese coffee cake

This is definitely a keeper. And a work in progress! The cake had a tender moist crumb with the pleasant tang of lemon throughout. The topping was crunchy, sugary, and at the same time, lemony. I think that filling needs some sweet strawberries as contrast with that tangy lemon.  I feel I need to work out the problem with the pan and then I might solve the problem of the crusty exterior.

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
Serves 12-16

Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 45 minutes

For the Cake, have at room temperature:
2 1/4 cups (11.25 oz) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/8 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (7.75 oz) plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
4 large eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups sour cream

For the Filling, have at room temperature:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
5 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 teaspoons lemon juice

For the Topping, have at room temperature:
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Preheat the oven 350˚F. Prepare 1 tube pan.

Cake Baker’s Note: the original recipe said to spray the pan with cooking spray. This pan should have “feet” so that it can cool upside down elevated off the counter top. In the ATK video, they were using a one-piece pan with a dark nonstick finish. I have a shiny aluminum 2 piece pan. When I unmolded it, the cake fell out of the pan because of the cooking spray. The next time I make this, I will not spray the pan.

In a large bowl, add 2 1/4 cups flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add butter and sugar and lemon zest to the mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides. Add 4 eggs one at a time until well blended. Add vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined after each addition. Add 1/3 of the flour to the batter in the bowl, mixing on low speed. Add half the sour cream and blend. Add half the remaining flour and mix. Add the rest of the sour cream and beat together. Mix in the remaining flour. Remove the mixing bowl and stir by hand with a spatula to incorporate the flour. Remove 1 1/4 cups batter and set aside. Don’t wash out the mixing bowl or the paddle.

Place large dollops of the remaining 2/3 batter in the bowl into the prepared pan, evenly spreading the batter with an offset spatula.

Make the cream cheese filling. To the mixing bowl, add cream cheese, 5 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 4 teaspoons lemon juice. Mix on medium speed 1 minute until creamy. Add 1/4 cup of the reserved batter and blend.

Cake Baker’s Note: If you wish, fold  1/2 cup chopped strawberries into the cream cheese filling.

Add the filling to the top of the cake batter in dollops. Use the off set spatula to spread the filling almost to the edge. Add the last cup of batter to cover the cream cheese filling, spreading it with the offset spatula. Swirl the batter with the tip of the offset spatula using a figure eight motion while turning the pan one-quarter turn until one circuit is completed. Tap the cake pan on the counter firmly 3 times to remove air bubbles and settle the batter.

For the topping, combine 1/4 cup sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest, with 1/2 cup slivered almonds. Use your fingers to mix the topping ingredients. Spread on top of the cake, lightly pressing the topping mixture into the batter so it won’t fall off after baking.

Bake 45-50 minutes in the preheated oven or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean. It might have crumbs on it because of the filling. Another test is to lightly press the top. It should spring back and you shouldn’t see your fingerprint in the top. Invert the cake in the pan over a rimmed baking tray with a cooling rack and cool in the pan 1 hour.  Cool in the pan 20 minutes or until it is cool enough to handle the pan to remove the sides and bottom–if it is a two-piece tube pan. It isn’t necessary to invert the pan. Cool thoroughly 1 1/2 hours before slicing and serving. If you’re not going to eat it right away, wrap the cooled cake in plastic wrap airtight and store in the refrigerator. Bring the cake to room temperature before slicing and serving.

Cake Baker’s Note: If the tube pan does not have “feet” stick a funnel in the center tube and invert the pan over the funnel so the cake is elevated off the counter. Cool in the pan as directed.

lemony cream cheese coffee cake

hawaiian paradise cake, version 1.0

hawaiian paradise cake

Since I discovered this recipe on flourtrader.blogspot.com a few months ago, I’ve been so intrigued, not only by the colors but also the concept. It’s actually a chiffon cake baked in layer pans instead of the traditional angel food cake tin. And ever since I saw it, I’ve been planning how to make it.

This is a copycat recipe, so called because it attempts to duplicate a famous recipe, in this case the signature cake of King’s Hawaiian Bakery & Restaurant in Torrance, California, whose recipe, unfortunately,  is a secret. King’s Hawaiian Bakery’s technicolor cake originally featured three layers: guava, passion fruit, and lime. The top layer is pink, the middle is orange, and the bottom is green.

I had intended to bring the nectars for the cake with me from New York but I forgot. So I had to go with the juices available here in Bangkok. The top layer is strawberry, the middle is orange, and the bottom is guava. In Thailand, guava is a bland green fruit  known as farangIt is eaten sliced with a spicy dip prik kleua or chili-salt which names two of the three main ingredients in this dip, the other being sugar. But I digress.

I wanted this cake to be made with all natural ingredients. So I brought natural food colors with me from Whole Foods in New York. As you can see, the colors are not as vibrant as the artificial food colors. I did not want to use artificial flavoring so I used the zest of the farang and the zest of an orange to boost the flavor of the juices in those layers.

So with the dissertation drafted and submitted to my sponsor and committee just before New Year’s Eve, I decided to try this recipe today.  The strawberry flavor is distinctive, and so is the orange, but unfortunately, the farang flavor is barely there. I loved the whipped cream icing–light and slightly sweet without being overpowering. I call this version 1.0 because I am quite sure I am going to tinker with this recipe again until it is perfection.

Have at room temperature:
Ingredients
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 1/4 cups flour plus 1 tablespoon
2/3 cups white superfine sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup (2 oz) key lime juice
1/4 cup (2 oz) guava nectar
1/4 cup (2 oz) passion fruit nectar
5 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoon each flavoring, optional
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
liquid food coloring: yellow, red, and green (I recommend natural food coloring)
8 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup white superfine sugar

Preparation
1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Get 6 mixing bowls together and 3 eight- inch spring form cake pans, preferably non-stick.  Do not grease and flour the sides or the bottoms. Set aside.

Cake Baker’s Note: I had followed the original recipe and greased and floured three 9-inch cake pans. Mistake. Chiffon cakes are too delicate to bake in greased pans.  They sag under their own weight. Better to use ungreased springform pans.

2. In a large bowl, sift flour with 2/3 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a second bowl, beat together oil, water, yolks, vanilla, and lemon zest until just combined. Mix yolk mixture into flour mixture until smooth. The consistency will be thick, like cookie dough. Divide the batter into thirds and place in separate bowls. In one bowl of batter, add the key lime juice. In another, add the guava nectar. In the third, add the passion fruit nectar. Add flavoring, if using. Next, add the food coloring: green for the lime layer, red for the guava layer, and orange for the passion fruit layer. Make the colors darker because the addition of the egg whites will lighten the batter. Do not mix until the nectar/juice, flavoring, and coloring have been added.

Cake Baker’s Note: Here’s a sampler for mixing colors–
Orange: 2 drops yellow, 1 drop red (passion fruit, mango)
Green: 1 drop yellow, 3-4 drops blue (farang/guava, lime)
Yellow: (banana, pineapple)
Red: (guava, strawberry)

I unintentionally over-mixed the orange and guava layers, which is why they are not as fluffy as the pink layer. I should have mixed the colors separately and then added them to the batter. I used about 5 drops red for the pink layer, a total of 9 drops for the orange, and after mistakenly adding red to the green, I think 9-12 drops will do it. I omitted the lemon zest and added 2 teaspoons orange zest to the orange layer and 1 tablespoon farang/guava zest to the farang/guava layer.

3. Using a clean bowl and beaters free of grease, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Slowly add the 1/2 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Divide the whipped egg whites by thirds and add each third to the batter. Fold. Pour each one into a prepared cake pan.
4. Put each pan in the oven. Bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove pans from the oven and place upside down on wire racks to cool completely. Re-invert pans and run a thin sharp blade around the edges to loosen the cake. Remove the sides. Invert the cake and remove the bottom using a sharp thin blade. Insert the blade between the cake and the pan bottom and press away from the pan. Once the cake is released from the pan bottom, re-invert the cake for filling and frosting.
5. Fill and frost with whipped cream icing and glaze with fruit syrup (recipes to follow).

Fruit Syrup

Ingredients
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2/3 cup white superfine sugar
1/2 cup nectar or juice
5 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons water

Preparation
Mix the corn syrup and juice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. In a small bowl, mix water and cornstarch until dissolved. Mix cornstarch mixture with sugar/juice mixture. Let cool. You can also put this in the fridge for 45 minutes to speed up the process

Whipped Cream Icing

Ingredients
1 8-oz package cream cheese, at room temperature (reduced fat will work too)
1/2 cup white superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups heavy cream

Preparation
Combine cream cheese, sugar, and extracts in a mixer. While the mixer is running on medium speed, add the cream. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fill and frost the cake then refrigerate it until ready to slice and serve.

Serving suggestion:
Slice the cake and spoon the fruit syrup over each slice just before serving. Serve each slice with a spoonful of fresh fruit, such as sliced berries, mango, and kiwi.

teddie’s apple cake

IMG_0269

Teddie’s Apple Cake (from Food52)
I’m stuck. It’s the last chapter, the conclusion, and I’m stuck. I’ve taken numerous breaks; sorted my jewelry, did the laundry, and I baked this cake. We’re going to a friend’s house in Chaeng Wattana for dinner tonight, and I’m bringing the dessert. It’s filled with almonds and apples. I don’t know who Teddie is but this bundt cake filled the house with the warm smell of apples baking. I haven’t tried all the variations yet, but I put them in there because I think caramel sauce or a vanilla hard sauce are perfect accompaniments for a warm apple cake. Thanks, Teddie.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter for greasing pan
  • 3 cups flour, plus 1 tablespoon for dusting pan
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups peeled, cored, and thickly sliced tart apples like Honeycrisp or Granny Smith
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (substitute almonds or pecans), if using
  • 1 cup raisins (substitute cranberry raisins), if using
  • Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (optional)
  • Confectioner’s sugar (optional)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Melt 1 tablespoon butter and add 1 tablespoon flour. Grease and flour one 9-inch tube pan with the mixture. Set aside.
  2. Beat the oil and sugar together in a mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment) while assembling the remaining ingredients. After about 5 minutes, add the eggs and beat until the mixture is creamy.
  3. Sift together 3 cups of flour, the salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Stir into the batter. Add the vanilla, apples, walnuts (if using) and raisins/cranberry raisins (if using) and stir until combined.
  4. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Tap pan lightly on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan 10 minutes before removing.  Dust the top of the thoroughly cooled cake with confectioner’s sugar, if desired. Serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.

Variation

  • Instead of whipped cream, serve the cake with crème fraîche. To make crème fraîche, in a large bowl, add 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, 1/2 cup sour cream, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Whip until stiff peaks form. Serve by the spoonful with the cake. Refrigerate any leftovers.
  • Top with a caramel glaze.
    • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
    • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup heavy cream
    • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 3/4 to 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

Put the butter in a medium saucepan with the brown sugar, cream and salt and set over medium heat. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute exactly, and then pull it off the heat.

Leave the pan to cool for a couple of minutes, and then gradually whisk in the powdered sugar until you have a thick, but pourable consistency (you may not need all the sugar). If the mixture seems too thick, just add a splash of cream to thin it out a little. Immediately pour the glaze over the cake, moving slowly and evenly to cover as much surface area as possible. Let the glaze set before serving the cake.

  • Top with vanilla hard sauce.
    • 1 cup half and half
    • 1 stick unsalted butter
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the sauce: combine the half-and-half, butter, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar and butter are melted and the sauce is smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Serve the sauce warm over the warm pudding.

caramel apple cake

caramel apple cake

Caramel Apple Cake
Years ago, one of Andy’s co-workers at Allen-Bradley in Cedarburg, WI, gave me this recipe. It’s always been a favorite at our house–on any continent!  It’s great with coffee or tea as a morning coffee cake, or add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and serve it as a dessert. It’s great warm or cold and it’s sticky and sweet! The caramel sauce–which I halved–is very rich. But that’s its appeal, that sinful richness that we gladly pay for later?

1 cup vegetable oil ( I used half almond oil and half canola oil)
2 cups  superfine sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups apples, peeled, cored, sliced (use any crisp sweet apple such as Gala)
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Caramel Glaze (I recommend halving the following recipe)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and add 1 tablespoon flour. Mix well. Use this butter-flour mixture to grease and flour one 9×13 inch pan.

Combine oil and sugar. Add eggs, salt, vanilla. Sift flour and baking soda together Add flour mixture to sugar mixture in three additions. By hand, stir in apples, walnuts (if desired) and 1 tablespoon flour. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Tap pan lightly on the counter to settle the batter. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until done. Remove the cake from the oven.

Make the caramel glaze while the cake is still hot. To make caramel glaze, melt butter in a saucepan. Add sugar and milk and stir until blended and all lumps have dissolved. Bring to the boil over medium heat. Pour at once over the cake. Slice into squares and serve.

caramel apple cake

diamonds and white velvet cake

In honor of my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary I made this cake I called “Diamonds and White Velvet.” Its base is a butter cake recipe adapted from The Cake Bible (1988) topped with a Quick Butter Cream Frosting and handfuls of coarse sugar patted all over for a sparkly effect! My sister wrote to the Queen and the Governor General of Canada, and both sent congratulatory messages.

We had quite an eclectic celebration menu. Everybody brought something! To start,  I made roasted garlic crostini and Dad made Jamaican shrimp fritters. Ardis made pork and egg, a Chinese family-style dish that’s a favorite. Dexter made caesars, a drink made with clamato and vodka.  Meng brought fish with vegetables in a spicy red sauce, and savory green beans, both Chinese. I also roasted a chicken with garlic and potatoes, made broccoli with orzo,  and sauteed spinach in lemon juice and onions. For dessert, we had this cake and rum-spiked fruit salad with mulled apple cider cocktails.

White Velvet Butter Cake (adapted from The Cake Bible)

Ingredients
4 1/2 egg whites (4 oz.)
1 cup milk
2 1/4 tsp. vanilla
3 cups sifted cake flour (3/4 cup all purpose flour+2 tablespoons cornstarch = 1
cup cake flour)
1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
Quick butter cream frosting
4 oz coarse sugar

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease two 9×2 inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper then grease again and flour. Set aside.

In a medium bowl lightly combine the egg whites, milk and vanilla. Set aside. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk lightly and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture. Beat until just combined. Add half the egg mixture and beat until just moistened. Scrape down the sides. Add half the remaining flour and beat until just combined. Add the remaining egg mixture and beat until just combined. Scrape down the sides. Add the rest of the flour mixture and beat until just combined. There should be faint streaks of flour in the batter. Scrape down the sides.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans will be half full. Shift the pans back and forth on the counter top to release any air in the batter. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven.

Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto greased wire racks. Remove the parchment paper. To prevent splitting, re-invert so that the top is up and cool completely before wrapping air tight for frosting. Frost with vanilla butter cream.

Decorate the frosted cake with coarse sugar. One-half cup (4 oz) will be just enough to decorate 2 frosted nine-inch layers. Place the cake on a wire cooling rack over a rimmed baking tray and pat handfuls of sugar all over the frosting. Re-use any sugar that falls through the rack onto the baking tray.

Quick Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting

Ingredients
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream or milk, if needed.

Preparation
In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Add vanilla and cream/milk and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.

This is not too sweet. The frosting changed from yellow to white in the first three minutes. It was beautiful!

Here’s the recipe for the mulled apple cider cocktails:

Mulled Apple Cider Cocktails (by Alex Guarnaschelli in Food Network magazine)

1 quart apple cider (I used apple juice)
3 cinnamon sticks
1 knob fresh ginger, smashed
3 whole cloves
pinch of nutmeg
1 firm red apple (e.g. Rome, Fuji, or Gala), cut into small cubes
1 firm green apple (e.g. Granny Smith), cut into small cubes
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup sugar (can leave out sugar if using ginger ale, I think)
1x750ml bottle dry cava or other dry sparkling wine (can substitute ginger ale)

Preparation
Stir the cider, cinnamon sticks, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg in a pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool, then strain.

In a large bowl, toss the apples, lemon juice, and sugar. Add to the cider and refrigerate until chilled. When ready to serve the cocktails, fill champagne flutes about halfway with the cider mixture and top with the cava. Stir and serve.

salted caramel brownies

Salted Caramel Brownies (adapted from Food Network Magazine)
A colleague at the office gave me the October edition of this magazine. I promised her I would bake one of the cakes in its pages. I was intrigued by the recipe for silver frosting but that’s for another post.  Instead, I decided to try this brownie recipe. After all, it looked straightforward and simple, perfect for Cake Tuesday tomorrow. That saltiness of the sea salt flakes plays against the sweetness of the chocolate and the gooey stickiness of the caramel. This is a moist and tender brownie, not overwhelming in chocolate or sweetness.

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total: 1 hour (plus cooling)
Servings: 12 large brownies or 24 square brownies

Have at room temperature:
1/2  pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon
8 oz plus 6 oz  semisweet chocolate chips
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
4 large eggs (3 extra-large eggs in the original recipe)
1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons all purpose flour, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5-6 oz caramel sauce
2-3 teaspoons flaked sea salt

  • Preheat oven to 350˚F. Melt 1 tablespoon butter. Mix in 1 tablespoon flour. Brush the butter-flour mixture on the inside and bottom of a 9×13 inch baking pan. Set pan aside. If the pan has a dark nonstick finish, remember to turn the heat down to 325˚F.
  • Melt the butter, 8 oz of the chocolate chips and the unsweetened chocolate together in a medium bowl set over simmering water. Allow to cool 15 minutes. It is very important to allow the butter mixture to cool before adding the remaining chocolate chips or the chips will melt and ruin the brownies.
  • In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together 1/2 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the chocolate mixture. Toss the remaining  6 oz of chocolate chips and the remaining 2 tablespoons flour in a medium bowl and add to the chocolate mixture. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.
  • Shift pan back and forth on the counter to settle the batter. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t over bake. If you’re using a pan with a dark non-stick finish, test the brownies after 30 minutes. If the toothpick comes out clean, take the pan out of the oven.
  • As soon as the brownies are out of the oven, place the jar of caramel sauce without the lid in the microwave and heat until it’s pourable. I don’t have a microwave oven (still) so I heated the sauce on the stove. Stir until smooth. Drizzle the caramel evenly over the hot brownies and sprinkle with the sea salt flakes. Cool completely. Use a sharp knife and cut into 12 bars or 24 squares.

 

espresso coffee chiffon cake with chocolate glaze

Espresso Coffee Chiffon Cake
This cake is my mother-in-law’s recipe. It is a long-time family favorite always requested at birthdays and other special occasions. I usually bake it at least once a year. I’ve altered the recipe with the addition of a teaspoon of cocoa powder for I find chocolate intensifies the coffee flavor.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Baking Time: 55-60 minutes

Ingredients
2 cups all purpose flour (2 cups plus 4 tablespoons cake flour)
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar, divided
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder, optional
1/2 cup vegetable oil
7 egg yolks
3/4 cup cold water
2 tablespoons instant espresso coffee powder, dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
2 teaspoons vanilla
7 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preparation
Preheat oven to 325˚F.

Whip egg whites. Put egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating at high speed until blended. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until whites turn smooth and silky. There’s no need to clean the beaters for the next step.

Make the batter. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder if using, and 1 cup sugar in another large bowl. Make well in center of the dry ingredients and add oil, egg yolks, water, dissolved coffee, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until all ingredients are moistened.

Combine the batter and whipped whites. Scrape the batter into the whipped egg whites. By hand gently fold egg yolk mixture into beaten egg whites. Cut the center of the batter with a spatula and drag it along the bottom to the side of the bowl then turn the spatula over. Rotate the bowl one quarter turn and repeat the process until the batter and whipped egg whites are blended. When white streaks remain, stop mixing. Pour batter mixture into an ungreased tube cake pan. Cut the batter with a sharp thin blade to eliminate air pockets.

Bake and unmold the cake. Bake 55-60 minutes. If the pan has no “feet” invert the cake pan over a funnel to cool. Cool thoroughly before unmolding and frosting. To unmold, use a sharp thin blade to loosen the sides. Push straight down and forward, away from the side. Remove the knife and repeat. To loosen the center, use a skewer, applying the same motion. Gently remove the sides of the pan. Then support the cake with the center-piece in one hand; this prevents the bottom from tearing as you release the cake.  Insert the blade between the bottom of the pan and the cake, applying the same motion. Remove the center-piece.

When the cake is cooled frost it, if desired. Or pour on a chocolate glaze.

Chocolate Glaze (from America’s Test Kitchen)

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3-5 minutes
Standing Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream, hot
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt

Preparation
Heat the cream on medium low heat in a small saucepan until it bubbles, 3-5 minutes. Put the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the milk. Whisk all ingredients until smooth and let it sit until thickened, about 25 minutes. Pour the glaze over the top of the cake, letting the glaze drip down the sides. Let the glaze set before serving, about 25 minutes.

apple dumplings with cider sauce

Apple Dumplings (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
America’s Test Kitchen says: Use a melon baller or a metal teaspoon measure to core the apples. We like to serve the dumplings warm with vanilla ice cream and Cider Sauce (see Cider Sauce recipe below). Other sweet, moderately firm apples, such as Braeburns or Galas, can be used in this recipe.

The Cake Baker says: Use frozen puff pastry to make this dessert quick, easy, and less fuss. I prefer cranberries to raisins so I made that substitution. I had left over cinnamon sugar and butter-cranberry mixture because I didn’t cut down the recipe. But I had another use for them as you’ll see in the cider sauce below.

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 frozen puff pastry squares
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons dried cranberry raisins, chopped (can use raisins)
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten

Preparation

  1. Prep Apples. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Combine sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. In second bowl, combine butter, cranberry raisins, and 3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar mixture. Peel apple and halve through equator. Remove core and pack butter mixture into each apple half.
  2. Assemble Dumplings. On lightly floured surface, roll each dough square approximately 4 inches by 4 inches. Working one at a time, lightly brush edges of dough square with egg white and place apple, cut-side up, in center of each square. Gather dough one corner at a time on top of apple, crimping edges to seal. Using paring knife, poke a small vent hole in top of each dumpling.
  3. Finish Apples. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange dumplings on prepared baking sheet, brush tops with egg white, and sprinkle with 1/2 tablespoon each of the remaining cinnamon sugar. Bake until dough is golden brown and juices are bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on baking sheet 10 minutes. Serve with Cider Sauce.

Cider Sauce (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
America’s Test Kitchen says: To make this sauce up to 2 days in advance, reduce the cider mixture until it measures 1½ cups, then refrigerate. When ready to serve, return mixture to simmer and whisk in butter and lemon juice after the heat is turned off.

The Cake Baker says: I left out the cup of sugar in the apple cider reduction. It was tart and slightly sweet because of the cranberries.

Servings: about 1 1/2 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
  • about 1/2 cup butter-cranberry mixture in cinnamon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice

Preparation
In a small saucepan, bring to a boil cider and water  plus what’s left of the cinnamon sugar.  Simmer in saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until thickened and reduced to 1½ cups, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, whisk in the remaining butter-cranberry mixture from the apple dumplings then add the lemon or lime juice. Drizzle warm over dumplings to serve. A scoop of frozen vanilla yogurt is recommended!