December 21, 2013

Mini Mincemeat Tarts

Contrary to how it sounds, mincemeat tarts contain no meat, well at least they don't these days but at one time they did.  Typically it would contain chopped dried fruit. liqueur, and some spices.  One day I will make my own mincemeat, and David Lebovitz has a great recipe on his site, but for now I have a few large jars that I picked up on sale.

December 19, 2013

The Cake Slice Bakers December 2013 - Streusel Squares

It is the 20th of the month so it must be Cake Slice Baker's time!  Last month was our big announcement letting everyone know that we will be baking from Great Cakes by Carole Walter for the next year.  The cake that had the winning votes for this month was the Streusel Squares. I have to say that this was the perfect cake to be selected, since it is pretty quick and easy to put together, and it stays fresh for quite a while making it the perfect cake to have on hand for when guests drop in unexpectedly.

December 17, 2013

Peppermint Dark Chocolate Drizzled Coconut Macaroons

Would you be surprised if I told you that I have played in the snow here in Hawaii?  And no, it wasn't one of those promotional events planned by a local supermarket, where they fly in a container of snow for the kids to have a snow day.  This is honest to goodness real snow that can require a vehicle to use snow chains. It doesn't snow on the island I live on, but it does snow on the top of Mauna Kea on the Big Island, which is a dormant volcano standing almost 14,000 feet above sea level (and if they measured it from the ocean base it would be 33,100 feet!). We haven't had snow as yet this year, so I decided to make some cookies that look like snowballs.

This idea fitted in perfectly with the theme for the Creative Cookie Exchange this month - Peppermint! I decided to make coconut macaroons, and drizzle them with a dark chocolate that had been flavored with peppermint essence.

December 10, 2013

Cardamom Snowdrop Cookies

Everyone seems to be in major cookie mode at the moment, and I'm loving it.  I saw these cookies over at Savory Simple and knew that I would have to make them. Cardamom has to be one of my favorite spices - it is extremely aromatic and since it comes from a plant belonging to the ginger family it has a nice zing to it. Cardamom pods are native to southern India and, by weight, they are the third most expensive spice in the world. Luckily a little goes a long way.

December 06, 2013

Candy Cane Bundt Cake - #BundtaMonth

It is time for Bundtamonth!  The theme for this month was to bake a bundt that captures the holiday theme.  I immediately thought of candy canes and how I could incorporate them into a cake. Peppermint alone may have a little overwhelming so I decided to go with a ribbon of peppermint through the middle of the cake, and crushed candy canes on top.

It's always said that it is the most wonderful time of the year right now, but it is the also the busiest time of the year, so for my bundt this month I took a shortcut and used a boxed cake mix.  Don't get me wrong, I love to bake from scratch but there are those times where having a cake mix in the cupboard can be a life saver. This cake can be put together and in the oven in about 15 minutes, and while it is baking you can make the icing.  From start to finish this cake should take you no more than two hours, and you will have an impressive treat to share.  You could even make it as mini bundt and give them away to family and friends as holidays gifts.

November 20, 2013

The Cake Slice Baker's November 2013 - Applesauce Spice Cake

I have been looking forward to this day for a while.  Not only is it time for a new cake from the Cake Slice Bakers, it is also time to reveal our new book for the upcoming year.  Can I have a drum-roll please - we all voted and the winning book was Great Cakes by Carole Walter.  Ms. Walter is a respected author, has over 30 years of teaching experience, and has been honored for her "Outstanding Commitment to the Culinary Arts.”  It would be an understatement to say that this woman knows her stuff.

Just to refresh your memory the Cake Slice Bakers consists of a dedicated group of bakers from all over the world and every year we bake from a different cake book. Each month a selection of cakes are presented and we vote on which cake to bake next from our current book. We then have a month to bake it in secret before we all blog about it on the same day each month – the 20th – never before. We never reveal to anyone outside of the group which cake it is until this date. There are a few rules that we follow but the most important one is to have fun and enjoy eating cake! We have a blogroll which is open to anyone to view and it lists all the members. We link to this at the end of our cake reveal posts each month and it can be also be found at The Cake Slice Blogroll. Please come and visit us!

Honey-Ginger Spiced Pecans

This is a super quick recipe that I whipped up to decorate my November cake from the Cake Slice Bakers. A quick search revealed a honey-glazed pecan recipe, and I added some ginger for an added kick.  They paired really well with the Applesauce Spice Cake, and I could not stop nibbling on the leftovers.  I think they would be a great addition to a salad too.

Honey-Ginger Spiced Pecans
(Printer Friendly Recipe)

  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1½ cup pecans
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
  2. Whisk together honey and ginger, add pecans, tossing to coat well. 
  3. Spread pecans in 1 layer in a shallow baking pan and sprinkle with sugar. 
  4. Bake in middle of oven 15 minutes, then stir and bake 5 minutes more.
  5. Transfer while still warm to a sheet of parchment paper or foil and, working quickly, separate pecans with a fork. 
  6. Cool completely (about 1 hour) and remove nuts from parchment, breaking up any large pieces.
  7. Pecans keep, layered between parchment or wax paper in an airtight container, at room temperature 3 days.
Recipe adapted from Epicurious

November 19, 2013

Chai Spice Girls ~ Creative Cookie Exchange

It is funny how a single photo can bring back a flood of memories. Last weekend I was helping my daughter go through some old photos. She is a senior and is in the process of preparing her dedicated page in the school year book. I picked up one photo where she (and her sisters) had dressed up as the Spice Girls for Halloween, and she was Baby Spice. In the photo she is only three years old, and it is hard to believe that she will be eighteen soon. I still remember getting them ready to Trick or Treat like it was yesterday. It meant a lot to me to be able to sort through photos and explain to her when it was taken and why it was special to me, and I even came across a few photos that I had forgotten I had of me as a baby.  I think it is safe to say that we both had a lot of fun on our trip down memory lane, even if she did think some of her photos were a little embarrassing.

November 08, 2013

Sticky Toffee Bundt Cake with Cranberry Jelly Glaze #BundtaMonth

When I found out that the theme for this months #Bundtamonth was Jam I was really surprised, not by the ingredient but by the fact that I immediately knew that I wanted to make a bundt version of a Sticky Toffee Pudding.  Considering that this is a very sweet dessert I thought that a cranberry jelly glaze would be the perfect foil for that sweetness.

The flavors in this cake are perfect for this time of year.  To me the sticky toffee flavor is such a comfort  food, especially if you make a little vanilla custard to go with it.  Also, I just love cranberry season and always end up with multiple bags in my freezer so that I can continue to enjoy them throughout the year.

October 20, 2013

The Cake Slice Baker's October 2013 - Old Vermont Burnt Sugar Cake With Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

It is so hard to believe that a year has gone by since we chose Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson as the cookbook would be baking from in 2012-13.  It has been such a pleasure to bake with everyone in the Cake Slice Baker's group, and I am looking forward to our new book which will be revealed with next months post. As this is our last cake from the book it was decided that rather than vote on one cake, we would all choose the cake we wanted to make.  In some ways this was harder than voting because I kept looking through the book and then changing my mind.  I finally got it down to four cakes before I settled on the Old Vermont Burnt Sugar Cake With Maple Cream Cheese Frosting. It just seemed fitting for this time of the year.

In the book Julie Richardson describes how burnt sugar syrup was used to flavor cakes before the invention of extracts such as vanilla or almond.  The syrup is simple to make and gives this cake a wonderful toffee-caramel taste.  For me it brought back memories of making toffees for school fetes and cake sales, that were slightly soft and very chewy (or as we called them stickjaws), or so hard that you could suck on them for hours.

October 15, 2013

Caramel-Stuffed Apple Cider Spice Cookies

A slight chill in the air, leaves changing color, pumpkin patch visits and trips to pick apples - these are all signs that Fall has arrived.  These are all signs that I never see.  Palm fronds do not change color and the only chill I feel in the morning is when one of my girls decides to turn on the hot water tap when I am in the shower.  Such is life, and although I miss these things each Fall, living in a tropical paradise is pretty darn nice too.

It was exciting to find out that this month's theme for the Creative Cookie Exchange was apples, the versatile fruit that works equally well in both sweet and savory dishes.  There are just so many great cookies that feature apple that it was hard to narrow it down to one.  I finally decided on a recipe that included a little caramel, a little cider, and a little spice.

The recipe for caramel-stuffed cookies has been around for quite some time, but after a little research I settled on one and then started making some changes. The recipe called for regular Alpine Apple Cider Instant drink mix, but I decided to use the Caramel Apple version. Since the drink mix is very sweet I cut the sugar down to ½ a cup. A little extra spice never hurts in a cookie so I added a little apple pie spice -which is a wonderful blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cloves and cardamom.  I thought that apples pieces in the cookie would be nice too. Granny Smith are my usual apple of choice when baking because they hold up well and are a little tart, and I decided to grate them so the pieces were not too big.  With these changes I found that I also had to add a little more flour so that the cookie mix was not too wet to work with when placing the caramels in the middle.

October 12, 2013

Spiced Pear-Cranberry Crumb Bars

I was trying to find something in my freezer this morning, and did a double-take when I realized how many bags of cranberries I still had leftover from last holiday season.  Since cranberry season is almost upon us it is definitely time for me to use up this supply so that I will have room for the next time I purchase excessive amounts of them - and I will because I have this overwhelming sense of fear that I will run out.

As luck would have it Chocolate, Chocolate, & More just happened to post a recipe link from Imperfect & Fabulous on Facebook recently that I thought would work perfectly with the addition of cranberries. I just love the tart-sweet combination of pears and cranberries.  Actually I am just a big fan of cranberries in general.

As I was making the filling the house began to smell like Thanksgiving, which was just fine with me since it is my favorite holiday of the year.  I didn't grow up celebrating Thanksgiving, and if we did it would have taken place around April/May since that is Fall for us. I celebrated it for the first time when I moved to Canada, and from that moment on I knew it would become a tradition no matter where I was living.

October 04, 2013

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Bundt Cake #BundtaMonth

I was definitely excited when I found out that the theme for this month's #BundtaMonth was candy. Who wouldn't be thrilled to be asked to "bake us a bundt using your favorite candy"? Now my only problem was that I have two favorite candy bars - one from Australia and one from the US.  Which one should I use to make my bundt?

A mix of chopped cherries and coconut, smothered with Cadbury dark chocolate, the Cherry Ripe has always been from favorite chocolate in Australia.  It is also the oldest chocolate bar in Australia. However, I can't seem to resist little cups of chocolate filled with peanut butter - the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup - that has always been my favorite chocolate in the US.  In the end it was an easy decision because I did not have enough Cherry Ripes in my secret stash, and Reese's Peanut Putter Cups are more readily available for the majority of people.  The Cherry Ripe bundt will have to wait for another day.

I wasn't sure if I should just wing it, but then I found this recipe at Wee Eats and it seemed to be just what I was looking for. After a few slight changes I was ready to bake.  To get a deep, dark chocolate color and flavor this recipe uses Dutch-process cocoa.  This type of cocoa is produced from beans that have been treated with an alkali that neutralizes the acidity.  It therefore it does not react with baking soda and needs to be used in recipes that contain baking powder, or a recipe that has other acidic ingredients in proportionate amounts, hence the sour cream. For a more detailed breakdown I found that David Lebovitz has an excellent explanation on his website, which can be found here.

September 20, 2013

The Cake Slice Bakers September 2013 - Butterscotch Cream Roll-Up

As The Cake Slice baker's are nearing the end of baking from Julie Richardson's Vintage Cakes, I am finding myself a little melancholy. We have baked some wonderful cakes from this book and so far my favorites have been the Honey Bee Cake and the Lemon and Almond Streamliner Cake. We still a couple of cakes to go, so who know which one will end up as my ultimate favorite. There were a couple of great choices this month, but the cake with the winning vote was the Butterscotch Cream Roll-Up. You have probably seen a traditional Swiss Roll/Jelly Roll but this cake flips the cake so that the roll is facing up.  How does she do that? Well it is easier than you think.

When I first saw the recipe for this cake I was a little intimidated as there seemed to be so many steps.  To my surprise all of the components of this cake came together very quickly, and before I knew it I was ready to attempt the roll. There was a short period of time when I thought I may just make a Jelly Roll out of the cake, but I am glad that I thought "no guts, no glory" and tackled it.  There is no easy way around it - your hands are going to get messy, but they are the best tools for the job. Once you have the center roll complete, the rest just seem to connect around it, and before you know it you are going to have a beautiful cake that all of your family and friends will ooh and aah over.

September 16, 2013

Melting Moments - #CreativeCookieExchange

Melting Moments how do I love thee, let me count the ways - melt-in-your-mouth, buttery, rich crumbs that shatter on the first bite, sweet vanilla buttercream, tart raspberry jam.  This cookie is definitely a match made in heaven, and that is why I choose it as my first post for the Creative Cookie Exchange.

The Creative Cookie Exchange was established by Laura (The Spiced Life) and Rebecka (At Home with Rebecka), with the idea that we will all have fun baking cookies together. Each month an ingredient or theme will be selected and then we will all be baking some amazing cookies and sharing them with you on our blogs.

The theme selected for this month is Back to School.  Whether it is a cookie that I have packed in their lunch boxes, or a special after school treat I just love making cookies for my girls.  They are in high school now, and have very busy schedules, but I just love the idea that I have sent them to school with a little treat that will remind them that I am thinking about them.  It is also a lot of fun to make a double batch and send the cookies to school for them to share with their friends (and it removes the temptation from me ;)).

The Melting Moment is a cookie that is very popular in Australia, where you will find them in grocery stores, cake shops, and cafes.  There appears to be two schools of thought with regards to the addition of jam, with some people stating that if you add jam it is actually called a Monte Carlo.  I saw this cookie being made on MasterChef Australia (which in my opinion is far superior to the format of the US MasterChef - the contestants are much nicer to one another and the judges more supportive) and I decided to add the raspberry jam as per the recipe, and I am glad that I did.

The only change I made to the original recipe (besides converting it from metric to imperial) was to make the cookies a bit smaller, although after sandwiching them together, I realized that I should have flattened them just a little more because they tended to roll around the plate. Next time I would flatten half of the cookies, and use a fork to indent the rest.  Also, I choose to make the raspberry jam, but you could certainly use store-bought, or even change the flavor if you wanted.  The recipe for the jam does produce more than enough to fill the cookies, so if you do not want leftovers, cut this in half. The recipe made about individual 22 cookies, so 11 when sandwiched together.

Melting Moments
(Printer Friendly Recipe)

Biscuits ~
  • ¾ cup butter (1½ sticks)
  • ½ cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • ½ cup custard powder (or cornstarch)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • powdered sugar, to serve
Vanilla Buttercream ~
  • 7 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
Raspberry Jam ~
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon gelatin powder

Biscuits ~
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line two oven trays with Silpats or parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of an an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter for two minutes.
  3. Add powdered sugar and custard powder (or cornstarch) and mix until combined. 
  4. Sift the baking powder and flour together then add to the dough and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beaters as needed. 
  5. Roll dough into 1 tablespoon-size balls, place on a baking paper lined baking tray and press each ball with a fork to leave an indent. 
  6. Bake biscuits for 14 minutes or until light golden. 
  7. Stand on trays 5 minutes to cool then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Make buttercream and jam while waiting for the cookies to cool.
  9. Place a spoonful of cooled jam on the base of half the biscuits. 
  10. Pipe buttercream in a circle onto the base of the other half of the biscuits. Gently press one of each biscuit together to form a melting moment.
  11. Dust with icing sugar before serving.
Vanilla Buttercream ~
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer add butter and vanilla paste and mix until smooth. 
  2. Add powdered sugar and beat until mixture forms a paste, the consistency of thick icing. 
  3. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small star nozzle.
Raspberry Jam ~
  1. Place raspberries, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook for 20-30 minutes on medium heat until thickened. 
  2. Mix gelatin powder with one tablespoon cold water together. 
  3. Remove the jam from the heat, stir through gelatin mixture. 
  4. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and cool in the fridge.
Recipe from MasterChef Australia

Here's how you can be part of the Creative Cookie Exchange:

  • Write a blog post with recipe and original photo (please include some language here specific to that month's theme). We would like the recipe to be one you’re making for the first time, and photos must be original.
  • Post the Cookie Exchange badge somewhere on your blog so others can join in the fun ~

Creative Cookie Exchange

You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes - be sure to check out our Facebook page, our Pinterest Board, and our monthly posts. You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration for this month's theme, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made so far ~

  • Pecan Chocolate Bars by Laura at The Spiced Life
  • Chocolate Chip Skillet Brownies by Rebecka at At Home with Rebecka
  • Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip by Stacy at Food Lust People Love
  • White Chocolate Oat Cookies by Renee at Magnolia Days
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Cookies by Becca at It's Yummilicious
  • Fortune Cookies by Holly at A Baker's House
  • Whole Wheat Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies by Karen at Karen's Kitchen Stories
  • Orange Cookies by Kathya at Basic N Delicious
  • Melting Moments by Felice at All That's Left Are The Crumbs
  • Pumpkin Oatmeal Pecan Cookies by Sophie at If I Ever Owned A Bakery...
  • Peanut Butter No-Bakes by Miranda at Cookie Dough and Oven Mitt
  • Banana Apple (Banapple) Spice Cookies by Kim at Liv Life

  • September 10, 2013

    Double Chocolate Cherry Biscotti

    A few days ago I was doing my regular sweep of my favorite blogs and saw on Roxana's Home Baking that it was the 1st anniversary of the #chocolate party. I knew that I needed to join in on this fun event.  To celebrate we were asked to bake our family's favorite chocolate dessert.

    Is it weird that one of our favorite desserts is biscotti? I know that when most people think of their favorite chocolate dessert they don't necessarily think of cookies. Now don't get me wrong, I love an ooey, gooey, decadent chocolate dessert as much as the next person - for example these Mexican Chocolate Crunch Brownies - but I don't always have time for them during the week. Biscotti on the other hand is something that I can bake over the weekend and then enjoy with my coffee after dinner, or even crumble it over a bowl of vanilla ice cream. It is also the perfect treat for my girls to enjoy when they are craving something sweet, but not too big, as they finish off their homework.

    This biscotti is double the chocolate fun - cocoa and chocolate chips - and has dried cherries added to give them a little tartness.  I love chocolate and cherries together, as you would guess if you saw my secret stash of Cherry Ripe candy bars.  I can't tell you where I hide them because they are a prized possession in this household.  They are only available in Australia (or via mail-order which can be pricey) so I don't get them very often and I treat them like rations - open only in case of an emergency.

    I based my recipe on one that I use from The Craft of Baking. The original recipe contained walnuts which are great, but I subbed them out for dried cherries. Be warned that the dough for these biscotti is quite wet so you may look a little like you have been playing in mud by the time you have them shaped them on the baking sheet. Just make sure you have everything set up before you put your hands in the bowl. Also, I find that mini chocolate chips work best in this recipe, but I only had regular on hand so I went with that.  These biscotti will last up to three weeks in an airtight container at room temperature, but they are gone in our household well before then.

    The Chocolate Party is going on for the month of September and it is so easy to join in the fun.  All you have to do is bring your favorite chocolate dessert to Roxana's Home Baking #chocolate party and win amazing prizes from OXO, Calphalon, Keurig, Imperial Sugar, Honey Ridge Farms and Land O'Lakes Butter.  I can't wait to go and check all of the amazing chocolate treats that have been brought to the party.

    Double Chocolate Cherry Biscotti
    (Printer Friendly Recipe)

    • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
    • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
    • ¼ cup granulated sugar
    • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces and at room temperature
    • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 2 large eggs
    • ¼ teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 cup dried cherries
    • ½ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

    1. Preheat the oven to 350℉ and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 
    2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, cocoa, both sugars, butter, baking soda, and salt. Beat on low speed until all ingredients are well combined and the butter is no longer visible (about 4 minutes).
    3. In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, espresso powder, and vanilla.
    4. Add egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on low speed to combine.
    5. Add the dried cherries and chocolate chips and beat to combine.
    6. Turn out the dough on a generously floured work surface and divide in half. Shape each portion into a 16x2-inch log, and carefully transfer each one to the prepared baking sheets.
    7. Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until the logs are firm to touch, about 20 minutes. Transfer the logs, still on the parchment paper, to a wire rack and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300℉.
    8. Transfer the warm logs to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut the logs on the diagonal into ⅓-inch-thick slices.
    9. Arrange the slices, cut side up, on the parchment covered baking sheet.
    10. Bake for 30 minutes and remove baking sheets from the oven and flip each biscotti piece over.
    11. Return baking sheets to the oven and continue to bake for another 30 minutes and the biscotti are dry and firm to touch.
    12. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let the biscotti cool completely.

    Recipe adapted by ATLATC from The Craft of Baking.

    September 05, 2013

    Banana-Caramel Bundt Cake #BundtaMonth

    I am so excited that I have been able to join the BundtaMonth group.  This group formed out of the love of bundt cakes and, seriously, who doesn't love a good cup of coffee and a slice of bundt cake? It would seem that I joined right at the right time as they are celebrating their anniversary so the theme is "fancy". I look forward to both baking along with the group and getting to know everyone a little better.

    To be honest I was a little nervous about what I should bake to celebrate this occasion. You know, kind of like the first day of school or a new job where you want to make a good impression and fit in with everyone?  Since I had recently purchased a new cookbook, The Australian Women's Weekly 100 Classic Cakes, and I am originally from Australia, I thought it would be fun to see if I could find something there that might work.  There were a couple that caught my eye but I finally settled on the Banana-Caramel Bundt Cake. Splitting a bundt into three layers and smothering each one with banana and dulce de leche seemed to suggest a special occasion.

    If you have not had the pleasure of tasting dulce de leche I suggest you immediately go out and find it, and then try not to just stick your spoon in and eat it straight from the can.  Dulce de leche has only recently become available in my area, but if you cannot find it there is a method to make it from a can of condensed milk.  One time I even made it without even knowing as I left a can of condensed milk in the back of a warm cupboard and when I opened it I found it had become dulce de leche.

    The original recipe for this Banana-Caramel Bundt Cake did include whipped cream in the layers too, but I was not intending to eat the cake the same day so I omitted this. After slicing a small piece I will say that I found the cake a little on the dry side.  To alleviate this problem I will probably substitute the milk for some buttermilk to see if it can add some moistness to the cake. Other than that it was quite decadent.


    Here’s how you can be a part of Bundt-a-Month:
    • Simple rule: Bake us a fancy bundt
    • Post it before September 30, 2013
    • Use the #BundtaMonth hashtag in your title. (For ex: title could read – #BundtaMonth: Fancy Bundt)
    • Add your entry to the Linky tool below
    • Link back to our announcement posts

    Even more bundt fun! Follow Bundt-a-Month on Facebook where we feature all our gorgeous bundt cakes. Or head over to our Pinterest board for inspiration and choose from hundreds of Bundt cake recipes.

    And don't forget to check out the wonderful "fancy" bundts baked by my fellow BundtaMonth bakers in celebration of our anniversary.

    Banana-Caramel Bundt Cake
    (Printer Friendly Recipe)

    • 6oz butter, softened
    • 1¼ cups sugar
    • 3 eggs, at room temperature
    • 2¼ cups self-rising flour
    • ½ teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1¼ cups mashed banana
    • ⅓ cup milk
    • 1 13.4oz can dulce de leche
    • 1 large banana, thinly sliced
    • powdered sugar to dust

    1. Preheat oven to 350℉.  
    2. Spray a bundt pan with baking spray.
    3. In a large bowl place flour, baking soda, and salt and whisk to combine.  Set aside.
    4. In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
    5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
    6. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk in two parts, beginning and ending with the flour.
    7. Using a spatula, gently fold in the banana.
    8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Rap the pan firmly on the counter to release any air bubbles. 
    9. Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake until the cake is a deep golden color and a wooden skewer poked in the middle comes out just barely clean, about 50 minutes.
    10. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
    11. To assemble the cake thinly slice the banana.  Split the cake into three layers and spread the bottom layer of the cake with half of the dulce de leche and top with half of the banana slices. Place the middle layer of the cake on top and repeat with the next layer using the remaining caramel and banana slices.  Top with the remaining layer and dust with icing sugar before serving.

    Recipe slightly adapted from The Australian Women's Weekly 100 Classic Cakes.

    September 04, 2013

    Peanut Butter Pretzel Chubby Tates

    Heaven help me if there is an open container of peanut butter filled pretzels in my household. They sing like a siren beckoning me to them and I am just not able to resist their sweet-salty deliciousness.  I don't buy them all that often, but when I do it is usually because one of my girls has been shopping with me and somehow they end up in my cart. The safest thing is not to have them around for too long so they are bagged as snacks for school, taken to the movies (shhhh!), and in this case used in baking cookies.

    One of my favorite cookie recipes is the Chubby Tates from Tate's Bake Shop - Baking for Friends.  I decided to add one of my favorite snacks to one of my favorite cookies, and the Peanut Butter Pretzel Chubby Tates were born.  In the cookbook, the author Kathleen King suggests that you eat them while they are still warm and I would definitely second this.  One bite of the a warm cookie fills your mouth with crumbly cookie, melted chocolate, and gooey peanut butter and sends your taste buds into another universe.  Add an ice-cold glass of milk and I am set.  Another option would be to sandwich these cookies around some ice cream.  Flavors such as vanilla, peanut butter, chocolate, or banana come to mind and all would be excellent choices.

    These cookies freeze very well, and with the holiday season fast approaching I think I just may bake another batch and do just that.  I discovered that if I scoop them out onto a cookie sheet and freeze them individually and then store them in a plastic freezer bag - rather than placing the the whole dough in the freezer - I will be able to grab as many as I want to bake quickly if friends drop by.

    Peanut Butter Pretzel Chubby Tates

    • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour or bread flour 
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
    • 1 teaspoon salt 
    • 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) salted butter, at room temperature 
    • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed 
    • ½ cup granulated sugar 
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1 large egg, at room temperature
    • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
    • 2 cups chocolate chips
    • 1 cup peanut butter filled pretzels

    1. Preheat oven to 325℉. Line two sheet pans with Silpat liners or parchment paper. 
    2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt, set aside. 
    3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter, brown sugar and sugar and mix on high until combined, about 1 minute. 
    4. Beat in the vanilla, egg yolk and egg. Scrape down bowl and turn the mixer to low speed. 
    5. Add the flour mixture and mix till just combined.
    6. Mix in the chocolate chips and the pretzels, and turn the mixer up to high for about 30 seconds to break up the pretzels.
    7. Using an ice cream scoop or two tablespoons, drop cookie dough onto prepared sheet pans 3 inches apart. 
    8. Bake for 18 minutes or until golden brown.
    9. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
    10. Repeat with the remaining dough on cool baking sheets.

    Recipe slightly adapted from Tate's Bake Shop Baking for Friends.

    August 28, 2013

    Blueberries & Cream Crumb Bars

    Blueberries and cream is a match made in heaven.  Although it is now possible to get blueberries year-round, this is the time of year that they are the most affordable. Fresh blueberries make a great snack on their own but when you add them to baked goods the results are amazing.

    Recently I used them when I made some scones, but this time I wanted a creamy layer for them to nestle in.  While looking for recipes I saw a lot of blueberry crumb bars and a few blueberry custard bars, but none that combined the custard and a crumb topping.  I decided to use the base and crumb topping from my recent post for Razzeleberry bars and a custard filling, and the combination was a great success.

    Last night I had a compulsory parent meeting for my daughters JV volleyball team, and there was to be a potluck afterwards, so I thought these would be perfect.  I think they must have been because when the container I brought them in was returned to me there were a few crumbs and a lone blueberry in the bottom.  I was so glad that I had kept a few small pieces at home or I would not have gotten to try the bars at all.

    I just love the base of these bars.  The almond meal gives it such a distinct nutty taste, and the hint of lemon complimented the blueberries perfectly, and it just seems to melt in your mouth once you bite into it. They were prefect on their own, but I think that a la mode may just put them over the top.

    Blueberries & Cream Crumb Bars
    (Printer Friendly Recipe)

    Base/Topping ~
    • ½ cup white granulated sugar
    • ½ brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
    • ¾ cups almond meal
    • 1 cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
    • 1 egg
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
    • powdered sugar for sprinkling
    Custard ~
    • 3 eggs
    • 1¼ cups sugar
    • ¾ cup sour cream
    • ½ cup all-purpose flour
    • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 cups blueberries
    Crust ~
    1. Preheat the oven to 375℉. 
    2. Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. 
    3. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and vanilla together until combined. 
    4. In the bowl of a food processor add ½ cup white sugar, ½ cup brown sugar, 2½ cups flour, salt, and baking powder; pulse to blend. 
    5. Add cold butter; pulse until small crumbs appear. 
    6. Remove half of the crumbs and set aside. 
    7. Add almond meal, remaining ½ cup of flour, lemon zest, and egg/vanilla mixture to the food processor; pulse until mix comes together. 
    8. Press the almond meal-flour mixture evenly into the bottom of prepared pan and bake in the oven for 10 minutes, remove and cool slightly.
    9. While the base is baking prepare the custard filling.
    Custard ~
    1. Place eggs in a medium-sized bowl and whisk the eggs until combined.
    2. Add the sugar and continue to whisk until foamy.
    3. Add the sour cream, flour, cornstarch, vanilla, and salt and whisk until incorporated. 
    4. Fold in the blueberries. 
    5. Pour the custard mixture over the crust and smooth the top.
    6. Sprinkle the reserved crumb topping over the custard. 
    7. Bake until the center is set and the topping is golden, about 30-40 minutes.
    8. Let cool, then refrigerate.
    9. Once cold, sift powdered sugar over the top and cut into bars/squares/triangles.

    Recipe by All That's Left Are The Crumbs©

    August 22, 2013

    Chai Latte Biscotti

    I am a little chai obsessed and a little biscotti obsessed so this was a match made in heaven for me. The recipe comes from an Australian Women's Weekly cookbook called Sweet Things, which I received for Mother's Day from one of my daughters.  She knows me well, and after looking through the book I gave up putting sticky notes on the recipes I wanted to try since it was obvious that I wanted to try them all!  Look for more treats from this book as I bake my way through it.

    Biscotti is the perfect accompaniment to a good cup of tea or coffee.  My preference is for a slightly thicker biscotti so that I can dunk it - yes, I am a dunker - so after the first bake I cut mine slightly thicker than the recipe suggests.  I need a little structural integrity to my biscotti because the dunking does weaken them, and there is nothing worse than a sinking cookie in your beverage.  Also, be careful not to over bake them because they will turn into lethal weapons for your teeth.

    The spice mix in these cookies is really nice, but the next time I bake them I will probably up the quantities a little bit.  The original recipe did not call for star anise or peppercorn, but I love the flavor of a spicy chai.  Also, in an effort to start cleaning out my pantry, I used salted shelled pistachios because I have a big bag of them that I purchased from Sam's Club.  It didn't seem to make the recipe too salty, so if that is what you have I say go for it.

    Chai Latte Biscotti
    (Printer Friendly Recipe)


    • 1 English Breakfast tea bag
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • ¼ cup self-rising flour
    • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
    • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
    • ½ teaspoon ground star anise
    • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • ¼ teaspoon ground black peppercorn
    • ½ cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • ½ cup roasted, unsalted pistachios


    1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
    2. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment.
    3. To the bowl of a food processor; add the contents of the teabag, flours and spices and process until fine.
    4. Whisk brown sugar, egg and honey in a medium bowl until well combined.
    5. Stir in the flour mixture and nuts.
    6. Using you hands make sure everything comes together and then place on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.
    7. Shape the dough into a log, about 10 inches long and place on prepared sheet.
    8. Bake for about 30 minutes, and then cool completely on sheet.
    9. Reduce oven temperature to 300℉.
    10. Using a serrated knife, cut the log diagonally into 1/4-inch slices, and place slices in a single layer back on the sheet.
    11. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn them over.
    12. Return sheet to the oven and bake for a further 15 minutes, or until biscotti are dry and crisp.
    13. Cool on a wire rack.
    Recipe slightly adapted from Sweet Things by the Australian Women's Weekly.

    August 21, 2013

    Brandied Peach Crumble Bundt with a Spiced Glaze - #BundtAMonth

    I am a little late to the BundtAMonth party, but better late than never. The good news is that I won't be late in the future because I have joined the group so you are guaranteed at least one bundt a month from me.  I am super excited to be bundting-along with the other members of the group and getting to know everyone.  Special thanks to Laura from The Spiced Life for introducing me to the group.

    This months theme was peaches.  I really wish that I was able to say that I used fresh peaches just purchased at the Farmers' Market, but the truth is that every peach available here is imported from thousands of miles away.  Each time I go to the store I see the boxes of peaches with the slogan "I'm Ripe", but I know that they are just pretending to be ripe.  One gentle squeeze told me that the peaches were rock hard, and having been fooled once or twice before, I have found that most of the time they do get soft but they have a mealy texture.  I decided not to tempt fate and used canned peaches.  At least this way I knew what I was getting and I wasn't paying $10.99 for inedible peaches.

    As soon as I saw the theme peaches I immediately thought of peach crumble.  It just seemed like a good combination to translate into a bundt.  I also knew that I wanted some sort of glaze to drizzle over the top of the bundt.  It seemed natural to use a combination of powdered sugar, the syrup left behind after the peaches had been mixed with the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and brandy, and a little of the peach juice from the can.  Yep, that definitely worked.  I may have used my fingers to scoop out what was left in the bowl after spooning the glaze over the bundt, but I'm not telling.  The cake itself was delicious too.  Do make sure that you drain the peaches well before you layer them in the cake, or you will have a problem with the cake splitting.  Mine was a little closer than I would have liked to this scenario.

    There were so many great bundts this month featuring the wonderful peach, so please take a look at the list here.  I know I am going to be saving quite a few of the recipes to try out soon. The BundtAMonth group also has a Facebook page featuring all of the wonderful bundts made each month and a Pinterest page with so many amazing recipes (and gorgeous pictures).

    Brandied Peach Crumble Bundt with a Spiced Glaze
    (Printer Friendly Recipe)

    Ingredients ~ 
    • 3 cups flour
    • ½ teaspoon baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon baking soda
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup butter, room temperature
    • 1½ cups sugar
    • 4 large eggs, room temperature
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
    • 1 cup sour cream
    Brandied Peaches 
    • 1 15 oz tin peaches, diced and drained (reserving the liquid), about 1cup
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 2 teaspoons brandy (optional)
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
    • ½ cup flour
    • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
    • 1 tablespoons sugar
    • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
    Spiced Glaze
    • ¾ cup powdered sugar
    • reserved liquid from brandied peaches & drained peaches
    Preparation ~ 
    Brandied Peaches
    1. Dice the peaches and place in a medium bowl. 
    2. Toss with sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and brandy. 
    3. Set aside until ready to use.
    1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, cinnamon and nutmeg.
    2. Using a fork, press the cold butter into the mixture until it's the consistency of a course meal.
    3. Set aside until ready to use.
    1. Preheat oven to 350℉ degrees. 
    2. Generously grease and flour the inside of a bundt pan, shaking out any excess flour.
    3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
    4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
    5. One at a time, add the eggs, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl.
    6. Add the vanilla and combine.
    7. In three additions, add the flour alternating with sour cream.
    8. Fill the pan about ⅓ of the way with batter.
    9. Using a slotted spoon to drain the liquid, layer the peaches on top of the batter evenly (reserve the liquid from the peaches). 
    10. Sprinkle the crumble over the peaches.
    11. Scoop batter on top of the peaches and crumble and smooth out using an offset spatula. Make sure you leave about 1 inch of room from the top of the bundt pan.
    12. Bake for 60-80 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
    13. Allow to cool for ONLY 5 minutes in pan before removing a a plate/rack to cool.
    Spiced Glaze
    1. Place powdered sugar in a small bowl.
    2. Gradually whisk in the reserved brandied peach liquid, and if needed some of the drained peach liquid, until you reach the desired consistency.
    3. Drizzle glaze over the bundt so it covers the top and drizzles down the edges.

    Recipe by ATLATC, adapted from Java Cupcake.

    August 20, 2013

    The Cake Slice Bakers August 2013 - Maple Pecan Chiffon Cake with Brown Butter Icing

    Today is the 20th of the month so it must be the Cake Slice Baker's time.  This month's cake, winning by a narrow margin, was the Maple Pecan Chiffon Cake with Brown Butter Icing.  Such a big mouthful for such a light cake. It is hard to believe that we only have a couple of cakes to go before we reveal our next book.

    I am notorious for leaving the baking of my cake for the group to the last minute each month.  It was all planned for me to have a relaxing baking day on Sunday, but that went out the window on Friday night when I found out that my youngest daughter had been asked to join a paddling crew on Sunday for the Duke's Ocean Fest.  What we thought was going to be a morning race turned into an all-day event.  And I may have been fried to a crisp in the process, which is so unlike me since I am usually so good about applying sunscreen. Regardless, it was a great day and her all-girl team certainly gave the boys and mixed teams a run for their money. And the cake did not get baked, only I did.

    So Monday morning I got the girls off to school, went out for my usual five mile walk/run, and came back ready to get baking.  I don't know what made me grab my carton of cream out of the fridge to check if it was ok (the expiry date was Sept 7), but I did and it was definitely not going in this recipe.  So off I went to Costco again to replace it.  This seems to be a recurring theme with my Cake Slice Baker's cakes at the moment.  I really must try to kick that habit.

    I have heard people say that chiffon cakes can be difficult and fussy, but I have never found this to be the case. This cake was very easy to put together and came out exactly as described.  The instructions to place parchment paper on the bottom seemed a little strange to me but I was determined to follow the recipe as stated.  I removed the middle tube, traced a circle and cut it out, then folded it in half and cut a semi-circle from the straight side to make it fit perfectly in the pan. The mixed cake seemed light and fluffy, and baked beautifully in the oven for exactly 50 minutes. Unfortunately my angel food cake pan  does not have feet so I could not flip it upside down in the traditional way.  Last time I made this type of cake I turned it upside down and stuck a wine bottle in the tube part to support it.  Naturally I thought this would work again but I guess I don't have the same wine now and the bottle was too big.  Now it was time to panic because I did not want the cake to sink.  It was quite comical to see me running around the kitchen pulling out every bottle I had to see if it would fit.  Thank goodness I finally found one.   So learn from my mistake and, if you do not have a pan with feet, find a suitable bottle to use before the cake is in the pan.

    The cake itself was quite good, with a nutty flavor and a light texture.  The icing was another story. Whilst the flavor was quite good, the mixture kept looking like it was going to separate, especially when it was out on the counter. Nobody wants a cake that looks like it is melting off of the plate. Now in fairness it was a hot day here today, but I really wish I had just gone with a light glaze instead.  I did cut the measurements for the icing in half since with a few of the previous cakes I had left-over frosting, and I did use all of this one.  I am not sure if cutting it in half threw off the balance of ingredients, but the butter appeared to blend in and then once I iced the cake it look like it was separating.  It did not make for very attractive photos, so sorry about that.

    I can't wait to see all of the cakes from my fellow bakers.  Please join me in visiting their blogs by clicking on the individual photos shown below.  Also, don't forget that the Cake Slice Baker's have a Facebook page, where you not only get to see each months' creations, but also great tips and other treats that we have been baking.

    Maple Pecan Chiffon Cake with Brown Butter Icing

    Ingredients ~ Cake
    • 2¼ cups cake flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
    • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
    • 6 egg yolks
    • ½ cup canola oil
    • ½ cup pure maple syrup
    • ¼ cup water
    • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
    • 8 egg whites, at room temperature
    • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
    • ½ cup granulated sugar
    • ½ cup toasted finely chopped pecans

    Ingredients ~ Brown Butter Icing
    • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
    • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
    • ½ cup heavy cream (plus a little more to thin icing as required)
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • pinch of fine sea salt

    Preparation ~ Cake
    1. Prepare an angel food cake pan with feet by lining the bottom with parchment paper, ungreased.
    2. Adjust a rack to the bottom third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325℉. 
    3. In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the brown sugar and whisk the mixture by hand to combine. 
    4. In a small bowl, whisk together the yolks, oil, maple syrup, water, and 1 tablespoon vanilla. 
    5. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry mixture and briskly stir with a rubber spatula until just smooth. Do not overmix. 
    6. In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and whip on high speed until soft peaks form. 
    7. Turn the mixer down to medium speed and gradually add the granulated sugar in a steady stream. Kick the mixer up to high speed and whip until the whites just hold firm (not stiff!) glossy peaks. 
    8. Fold a third of the whites into the batter using as few strokes as possible. Add the remaining whites, folding only until evenly incorporated. Lightly fold in the pecans during the last few strokes. 
    9. Gently pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the top springs back when touched or a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few crumbs attached, 50 to 55 minutes. 
    10. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool upside down by inverting the cake pan onto its legs. To remove the cooled cake from the pan, slide a long thin knife or spatula along the sides to loosen and knock the pan sharply on a hard surface until the cake drops out.
    11. Frost the top and sides with brown butter icing. To cut the cake, use an angel food cake cutter or a serrated knife and a sawing (rather than a slicing) motion. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

    Preparation ~ Brown Butter Icing
    1. Put the confectioners' sugar in a medium mixing bowl and set aside. 
    2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Using a pan with a light-colored bottom will help you keep track of the color. Let the color of the butter darken from lemony to golden brown (swirl the pan occasionally to ensure even heating). Once the butter is dark brown and you begin to smell a nutty aroma, remove the pan from the heat. 
    3. You can either pour the butter off carefully to leave behind the milk solids that have collected on the bottom of the pan, or you can keep and use the butter solids. Either way, pour the butter into the bowl containing the confectioners’ sugar and add the cream, 1 tablespoon vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Whisk until smooth. 
    4. As the butter cools, the icing will become firmer. If using the icing as a glaze, use it immediately. If you plan to use the icing as a frosting, allow it to cool to a good spreading consistency. 

    Recipe by Julie Richardson from Vintage Cakes.