ANNOUNCING: Change is part of life, and apparently, it's part of blogging, too. As of September 5, 2013, I'm merging The Virtual Goody Plate with Disco Mom Takes on the World and whatever else may henceforth spill from my fingertips (and kitchen), into one great new blog. I hope you'll join me there in exclaiming, "THIS IS AWESOMELAND."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mrs. June's Heavenly Coconut Cake

Is this not gorgeous? I love this cake, and it has a story.
The Players:
Julia (my friend, a co-preschool mom)
James (her husband)
Mrs. June (a neighbor of James' family when he was growing up in Missouri)
Stacy (another co-preschool mom)
Stacy's in-laws
Stacy's in-laws' friends

The Setting: The preschool Fun Fair cake walk in June

The Story: Julia made this cake for the cake walk, and as you can see, it's impressive. In fact, she one-and-a-halved it so instead of four layers she made it with six. Even more impressive. Stacy's in-laws came to the Fun Fair and fixated on the cake. They did the cake walk every time it ran, trying to win that cake. The in-laws' friends were there, too, and when they won a cake walk round, they nabbed the coconut cake. Later that evening they had the in-laws over and everyone ate it. It was proclaimed "the best cake we've EVER eaten."

The next day Stacy emailed me to ask if I'd made it. I wish I had, but alas. I emailed the whole parents' list trying to find out who it was and finally Julia fessed up, to her unnecessarily humble embarrassment. She emailed us the recipe with the explanation. This is a southern classic that James' neighbor used to make and it's his favorite from boyhood. She shrugged it off as undeserving of praise since she buys her coconut at the store instead of shaving it herself. Whatever. This cake rocks.

I knew I had friends coming over in July - a friend I hadn't seen since college graduation (Ryan Rowberry) and his wife who I'd never met (Barbara Christiansen, who turned out to be the sister of Rich Christiansen who we knew in Brooklyn!) It was the perfect occasion for something cold, towering and fluffy. Trust me, none of us went hungry.

This cake is best when made two days ahead of time and allowed to just meld and ponder in the fridge. Make sure it's covered and leave it alone. And look forward to the reunion.

1 white or butter cake mix
12 oz. flaked coconut
16 oz. sour cream
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups Cool Whip

1. Bake cake according to box directions in two 8" or 9" round pans. Allow to cool completely.

2. While the cake is cooking, combine the sour cream, sugar, and about 2/3 of the coconut (just leave out enough of the coconut to sprinkle on top of the cake.) Allow this mixture to set in the fridge as long as you can while the cake cooks and cools.

3. Once the cakes are cool, cut the layers in half longways using a long serrated knife or floss. *This is a tricky step for me of unsteady hands. I just took it slowly and worked my way around the cakes keeping an eye on both ends of the knife. My layers were pretty uneven but no one noticed since we were all eating with our eyes euphorically closed.

4. Remove the sour cream/sugar/coconut mixture from the fridge and set aside one cup of it. Use the rest of it to spread in between the layers of the cake (not on the outside). 5. Combine the extra cup you set aside to mix with the 2 cups of cool whip. Frost the outside of the cake with the cool whip frosting mixture. Then sprinkle the rest of the "dry" coconut on top of the cake. Cover, refrigerate for 2 days, and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Peaches and Cream Pie

A couple of the friends we went fruit-picking with last week have been emailing around some good recipes, and this one caught my eye. I suspect it originated from a Cool Whip lid but that is unconfirmed. What is confirmed is that this pie is gooo-oooo-oood.Picture it (you don't really have to since I've done it for you): Pie crust. Sweet cream cheese/Cool Whip layer. Fresh peach/peach puree Jello layer. Chill. Eat. So yum.

This recipe is for 2 large or 3 small pies. I made 2 deep dish pies with just enough cream and syrup leftover for two ramekin-sized parfaits (same as pie minus crust.)

Over dessert last night we also ruminated several variations: a graham/cookie crust perhaps. Strawberries/strawberry puree/strawberry Jello on top instead of peach. A 9x13 rendition with a cookie crust bottom, cut into squares. Mmm, individual pies in those little graham crusts. There are actually a lot of possibilities here.

This pie is definitely my new favorite way to use up fresh peaches.2 frozen (or graham) pie crusts
1 1/2 cups peach puree (I just use canned peaches for this and puree
them with the liquid, but you could use fresh)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup water
1 small pkg lemon jello
8 large peaches, peeled and sliced
8 oz. cream cheese (low-fat is OK)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
8 oz. Cool Whip (Lite is OK)

1. Thaw and bake pie crusts according to package directions. Allow to cool.

2. Boil sugar and peach puree, then add cornstarch and water. Cook till thickened and then add jello and stir until dissolved. Put into fridge to cool.

3. Cream together cream cheese and powdered sugar. Add Cool Whip and combine well.

4. Put cream mixture in pie shell, then top with sliced fresh peaches. Pour syrup over top and refrigerate until set, a few hours. Repeat for second pie.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Brigham Young's Buttermilk Donuts

Yesterday was Pioneer Day. It was, you ask?

It's a state holiday in Utah, commemorating the arrival of the first pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, led by Brigham Young. It's celebrated with parades, picnics, plays and parties in the west, and sometimes in Mormon communities throughout the country and world. Click here to learn more.As a Mormon growing up in the east, I was always a little ambivalent about Pioneer Day. It's part of the history and cultural heritage of my Church, but not really my family or home. I do have one grandmother descended from pioneers but the rest of my family are from other places, and I always considered Scandinavia and historical Virginia bigger players in my personal heritage.

However, I can always appreciate a reason to party, and the pioneer trek is full of incredible stories of sacrifice and miracles. Worth knowing, worth commemorating. My friend Shanna from Idaho always celebrated it with her family growing up. They would invite some other families over, dress up in pioneer clothes, and have a true Pioneer Day. Stations for the kids included shaking cream into butter, sawing a log, sewing a button, hammering nails, and going on a mini pioneer trek through the "wilderness" (their farm.) She said it gave her an appreciation and love for her pioneer ancestors. And they always finished the day with "Brigham Young's Buttermilk Donuts" from a pioneer cookbook her mom had.
But now Shanna lives in Arlington, so for Pioneer Day this year she and our friend Genevieve (from Utah) invited some friends to play in the back yard and have the homemade donuts. I'd been really looking forward to it, but Ginger was sick so we had to stay home. Darn delicate 2-year-old. Luckily, Shanna dropped by later with a plate of sweet-smelling pioneer puffs for us, so we wouldn't totally miss out.

Little circles of love, that's what these are. I almost cried when I smelled the maple icing, wondering how fast I could eat dinner so I could have one for dessert. I have almost no donut-making experience myself - why try when Krispy Kreme is already perfect? But these have made me reconsider, and I just may be trying my hand at it sooner than expected.

After all, it's never too late to become a pioneer.
Brigham Young's Buttermilk Donuts
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. sugar
5 3/4 c. flour
2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 c. melted butter

1. Heat vegetable oil in a large pot or deep skillet so that it's deep enough for the donuts to not touch the bottom. Use a candy thermometer to monitor heat - you want to get to 375.

2. In a large bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs and sugar. Blend well. Stir in melted butter.

3. Sift together dry ingredients and beat into buttermilk mixture.

4. Roll or pat out dough onto floured surface to about 1/4 inch. Cut with 2 1/2 in. cutter (make sure to flour the cutter so it doesn't stick). A donut cutter is ideal, but if you don't have one, use a biscuit cutter or glass and whatever you can figure out to cut out the hole (like a lid or tiny jar.)

5. Fry donuts and holes in vegetable oil that is 375 degrees - monitor heat between batches. If it is too cool the donuts will get too greasey while cooking; if it's too hot they won't cook all the way through. Add oil as needed so donuts don't touch bottom of pan. Flip when golden brown to cook other side. Lay cooked donuts on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels. Cool slightly. Dip in glaze, then lay glaze side up on wax-paper-lined cookie sheet.

1/2 c. boiling water
1 lb. powdered sugar
2 tsp. either vanilla or maple flavoring

Mix a little of the water into the powdered sugar to make a paste. Add the rest of the water. This should be a glaze, not a thick frosting. Add 2 tsp. of either vanilla or maple flavoring. Glaze only 1 size of the donut.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Blackberry-Peach Coffee Cake

As you can imagine I've been busting my butt this week to get things baked with my freshly picked fruit. The peach muffins were fabulous. I made a peach bread that was only mediocre. I made freezer jam for the first time - what else, blackberry-peach flavor, and it's sooo good. And my friend Corey's wild berry bread is one of the best things to exist in this world - find it in this post from last year.

Calling this recipe "coffee cake" implies permission to eat it for breakfast, which I did this morning, though it is definitely decadent enough for a sophisticated dessert. Fruity, vanilla-y cake, crunch-spicy topping, and PLENTY of butter throughout - this cake is awesome!

One weird thing - a few minutes after I put it in the oven, I smelled burning. A little was leaking out of the bottom of the springform pan and dropping to the oven floor. The batter was plenty thick so I must have just not had the pan bottom in tight enough. I wrapped the bottom and halfway up the sides tightly in tin foil and it was fine after that.

It's super rich so I will be wrapping up slices for the freezer so we can enjoy it over time - nothing like a wedge of summer for a quick out-the-door breakfast or a slow I've-earned-this dessert.

Streusel Topping:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups peeled and sliced firm fresh ripe peaches (about 2 to 3)
1 cup fresh blackberries
Powdered sugar
Garnishes: fresh blackberries, sliced peaches

1. Preheat oven to 350. Prepare streusel topping - beat butter at medium speed until creamy; gradually add sugars, beating well. Add flour, cinnamon and nutmeg; beat just until blended.

2. For cake, beat butter at medium speed until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until blended after each addition.

3. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Pour batter into greased and floured 9-inch springform pan; top with sliced peaches and blackberries.
Pinch off 1-inch pieces of streusel topping and drop over fruit.

4. Bake at 350 for 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes (I was checking every 5 minutes for awhile) until center of cake is set and toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 1/2 hours). Dust with powdered sugar and garnish with fruit, optional.

*For Peach Coffee Cake variation, omit blackberries. Increase peaches to 3 cups sliced. Proceed with recipe as directed.

Recipe from Southern Living, June 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sour Cream Peach Streusel Muffins

Yesterday was our annual peach-and-blackberry-picking trip to Homestead Farm in Maryland. So there has been and will be much peach and blackberry baking. A perfect opportunity to try a slew of new recipes, starting with this one.

Got it from a recipe website called CHOW, which credits their sources - something I really appreciate. So it came from a book called At Home with Magnolia by Allyssa Torey, but I had to tweak it slightly. The streusel topping was ridiculously disproportionate to the muffins so I've halved it here, and it still may be too much. And frankly it didn't have enough peaches for me so I'd add a little more next time, though you don't want to make them too moist.

Anyway, happy breakfast or dessert. Happy peach season!

Streusel Topping
1/2 all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces

1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 T unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups blanched peeled coarsely chopped ripe peaches (about 2 to 3)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and lightly flour 12 muffin cups.

2. To make the topping: In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar and cinnamon. Using pastry blender or fingers, cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

3. To make the muffins: In a small bowl whisk or sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

4. In large bowl, cream butter on medium speed until smooth. Add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy. Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and beat well. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the sour cream. Fold in the peaches.

5. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Sprinkle the topping over the muffins, being sure to keep crumbs within the muffin cups. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

White Chocolate Raspberry Muffins

It's always a good idea to check out the recipes on wrappers and labels of products you like. Some are boring, some are a little strange, but some are divine. Sometimes producers know best how to showcase their stuff.For example, I saw this muffin recipe several months ago on the inside label of a Ghiradelli white chocolate bar. Like I've said before, we all know white chocolate is a misnomer, but it does have its place in the baking realm, and if you're going to use it, it might as well be high quality like Ghiradelli.
Let me tell you something about these muffins. OK, a few things.

First, there is hardly a better use anywhere for your 1/2 cup of raspberries (I used more like 2/3 cup.) Look at that color!

Second, there is hardly a better use for your white chocolate. See those creamy bits that look like butter? Warm white chocolate.Third, these smelled like county fair funnel cakes while they cooked - no joke - and tasted a bit like them, too. You cannot go wrong with these - we had these for snack, dessert, breakfast, snack and dessert, in that order, and then they were gone. I'll definitely be making these again before raspberry season is over.

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup plus 1 T sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 T baking powder
2 cups plus 1 T flour
2 bars (8 oz total) Ghiradelli white chocolate baking bars, chopped
1/2 cup fresh raspberries (or a little more)

1. Preheat oven to 400. Grease 12 medium sized muffin cups or line with paper liners.

2. In a medium sized bowl, cream butter and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla extract and stir until combined.

3. In a large bowl whisk together baking powder, 2 cups flour, and the white chocolate. Gradually add to creamed mixture, mixing until just combined.

4. Add raspberries, and stir just until they are incorporated (batter will be lumpy.) Fill the prepared muffin cups 3/4 full.

5. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 T flour and sugar. Dust muffins with sugar mixture.

6. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until center springs back when pressed lightly. Cool muffins in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove to cool completely. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Toasted Coconut Ice Cream (Gluten-Free!)

Since the outset of this blog six months ago I've taken on several new culinary obstacles, and in some cases, begun mastering them. Another came my way a few weeks ago when we were invited to a friend's house for dinner. As usual I jumped at the offer to bring dessert, but she stopped me with a warning: "We're gluten-free."

I admit, it did stop me in my tracks a bit. I can't use flour, my most basic ingredient? Talk about out of my comfort zone. But the pause was momentary. A fruit crisp, perhaps. Maybe homemade ice cream. I can do this!

I quickly jumped on the internet searching recipe databases, cooking blogs and gluten-free sites for just the thing. And I found it on - love this blog's name - The Hungry Housewife. Perfectly, exactly what I was looking for - flourless chocolate cakes - only THREE ingredients! - and an ice cream flavor I'd never made. (WARNING - allow at least 24 hours for making the ice cream!)

Not to mention I took this as an excuse to finally obtain a set of individual ramekins...I mean, I was trekking down to IKEA anyway for some things for the house...and there they were for $1.99 each...The dessert was a smash. The cakes were divine, really amazing and hard to believe they were flourless - a nice crumb and not overly fudgy like you might expect (though nothing wrong with that.) Gluten-free friends can invite me over long as they're not off dairy!

Flourless Chocolate Cake (Chocolate Valentino)
16 oz (1 lb) semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 T unsalted butter
5 large eggs, separated

1. Preheat oven to 375. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (bottom of bowl not touching water) and melt, stirring often.

2. While chocolate/butter mixture is cooling, butter pan(s). You may use any shape pan that gives and area of 50 inches (6x8 or 7x7, an 8" springform or about 7 individual ramekins.) If using a large pan, butter, line with parchment, then butter parchment. If using ramekins or springform, just butter well.

3. Separate the egg yolks from the whites and put in two medium bowls.

4. Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed (do not overwhip or cake will be dry.)

5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.

6. Add the egg yolks to cooled chocolate and combine.

7. Fold in 1/3 of egg whites into chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3. Fold until no white remains without deflating batter.

8. Pour batter into prepared pan(s); the batter should fill pan about 3/4 full. Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes or until instant read thermometer reads 140F. Top of cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes, then unmold.

Toasted Coconut Ice Cream
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup half-and-half
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. If using electric ice cream maker, freeze bowl at least 1 to 2 days in advance. We have a Krups and for some reason it really needs 2 days or more to freeze good and hard.

2. Preheat oven to 400. Spread the coconut on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Place in hot oven for 2 to 3 minutes or until coconut turns a light brown. WATCH IT CLOSELY - it burns quickly!!! Remove from oven and allow to cool.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the sugar into the eggs with a hand held mixer until thickened and pale yellow. Beat in the cornstarch and salt. Set aside.

4. Combine the half-and-half with the coconut milk in a heavy medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat and slowly beat the hot liquid into the eggs and sugar.

5. Briefly rinse your saucepan and rub dry with paper towel to get the scum off. Pour the eggs/sugar mixture back into the saucepan and place over low heat. Stir constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon until the custard thickens slightly. Be careful not to let the mixture boil or the eggs will scramble - gross! Remove from the heat and pour the hot custard through a strainer into a large, clean bowl. Allow the custard to cool slightly, about 5 minutes, then stir in toasted coconut, heavy cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until cold (about 5 hours) or overnight.

6. Stir the chilled custard, then freeze in your ice cream machine. When finished, the ice cream will be soft but ready to eat. For firmer ice cream, transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 3 hours.
Recipe and photographs (with permission) from The Hungry Housewife

Monday, July 13, 2009

Coconut-Cream-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

Man. I have been waiting four months to make these. I saw them in a chocolate spread in the February Family Circle, and have just been waiting for the right time to make them. I even made sure to stock up at Fran's with a piping bag and long filling tip for whenever I got around to this recipe.

I'd never made filled cupcakes so I was excited to try. There are two ways to fill:

1 - Using a long tip and a piping bag. Stick the tip in the bottom of the cupcake, and up about halfway. Squeeze hard and very slowly ease tip out, squeezing all the way. If the top or sides bulge you know you're filling it. For me, they didn't bulge so I just had to hope I was getting some in. For most of them, I did. And there was a cute little hole on the bottom like a Hostess.
2 - Use a melon baller to scoop the top of the cupcake out. Fill in the hole with filling, then replace the top and frost to hide the damage. This way there's no hole in the bottom and you are sure to get a good glob of filling in there. But it's kind of messy and you have to be super careful when frosting so the crumbs and cupcake top don't get all over.
Actually they're both pretty messy but I think I prefer method #1, at least for this cupcake.

Chocolate and coconut are fast becoming one of my favorite combinations. Even though there's no actual coconut in here, just coconut extract, it still totally counts. The smooth cream amid the dense chocolate crumb is decadent in a very sexy kind of way. No wonder it was published in February.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup plus 2 T unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 350. Generously coate 18 indents in two cupcake pans with nonstick cooking spray. In a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

2. Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl on medium speed for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each . On low speed, add flour mixture, alternating with milk, in two additions. Divide batter among indents, about 1/3 cup each.

3. Bake at 350 for 17 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes to rack and let cool completely.
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 T milk
1 T coconut extract

Beat butter, shortening, confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. Mix in coconut extract. Transfer cream filling to a pastry bag and fit with a small tip. Insert tip deep into cupcake and fill with cream until you can see top bulging. Slowly back out.

Family Circle says to use "1 container prepared dark chocolate frosting" but I'm not really a store-bought frosting kind of girl so I made my own - it's not an exact recipe, just a rough buttercream in which you keep adding milk or sugar until the consistency is right.

4 to 5 T butter, softened
1/4 to 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
Pinch of salt
2 to 5 T milk or cream

Sift together the cocoa powder and 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar. Add the butter and beat for about 30 seconds to a minute. Add a pinch of salt and milk 1 T at a time, beating with whisk attachement, until frosting reaches spreading consistency. Frost cupcakes.

Recipe from Family Circle, February 2009

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Coconut Swirl Brownies

The more I make brownies from scratch the more I love them. It's like you can taste each ingredient, especially the chocolate and butter. Mmm, chocolate. Butter. Drool.

A few weeks ago I went on a little chocolate-coconut binge. I had three occasions on three consecutive days - a neighborhood barbecue, my sister's family coming to visit, and dinner at a friend's house. Naturally I made dessert for all three, and just for myself, went with a theme.

Brownies travel well, sit out well even in heat, and do great being eaten with hands at a picnic. And I have yet to meet a recipe calling for sweetened condensed milk that I didn't like.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for pan
3/4 cup plus 1 T sugar
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 large egg white
2 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp coarse salt
3 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a buttered 8-inch square baking pan with parchment, allowing 2 inch overhang. Butter lining (not overhang.)

2. Stir together 1 T of sugar, the condensed milk, coconut, egg white, and 1/4 tsp of the vanilla in a bowl.

3. Put butter and both chocolates in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water; stir until melted. Let cool slightly.

4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
5. Whisk remaining 3/4 cup sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs; whisk until mixture is smooth. Stir in remaining 2 tsp vanilla. Add flour mixture; stir until well combined.

6. Pour one-third of chocolate batter into prepared pan. Spread evenly with an offset spatula. Drop dollops of coconut mixture on top of batter, spacing about 1 inch apart. Drizzle remaining batter on top, and gently spread to fill pan. Drop dollops of remaining coconut mixture on top.

7. Gently swirl coconut mixture into batter with a butter knife, running the knife lengthwise and crosswise through layers. Bake until a cake tester inserted into brownies comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan, about 15 minutes. Lift out; let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares. Brownies can be stored between layers of parchment in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days. Makes about 9 large or 16 smallRecipe from Martha Stewart's Cookies

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hazelnut Blondies

So many things you can do with a jar of Nutella...
I happened to have one part-empty jar leftover from the Sour Cream Hazelnut Cake, and a church potluck coming up (always a church potluck coming up), so it was just natural to try Martha's little ode to the filbert. These are rich, nutty-buttery, and perfectly comfort-food sweet.

Needless to say, the tray came home empty.

1/2 stick unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skins rubbed off with a kitchen towel, and chopped
1 heaping Tablespoon Nutella, plus more for serving

1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter an 8x11 inch baking pan. Line with parchment paper; butter parchment. Get nuts toasting on a baking sheet - watch closely - just until fragrant, a few minutes.

2. Melt butter. Beat butter and sugar until combined.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt.

4. Beat eggs and vanilla into butter mixture. Add flour mixture; stir just until combined. Stir in nuts and Nutella (can be swirly.)

5. Press dough into pan. Bake until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs, about 25 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes. Cut into squares. Serve with additional Nutella. Blondies can be stored in an airtight container up to 2 days. Makes about 2 dozen little ones.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Chocolate Chip Crunch Cake (New and Improved!)

When I was eating my second piece of Sour Cream Hazelnut Bundt Cake, I was thinking, This cake reminds me of something. Naturally, I had to have a third piece to be sure.

"Chocolate Chip Crunch Cake" was one of my favorite desserts growing up. My mom took a Pillsbury recipe around 1970, adjusted it a little to her taste, and voila - a Younce classic! It's a basic 2-egg white cake sprinkled with a topping of brown sugar, melted butter, nuts, chocolate chips and marshmallows. While the cake cooks, the brown sugar and marshmallows make a topping that is both gooey and crunchy, while the sugary nuts and chocolate chips create luscious sinkholes throughout, and you just pray to be lucky enough to get a few in your piece.You really live for the sinkholes because the rest of the cake is totally dry, and you need a very tall glass of milk with each piece. Until now, my friends.

I realized that the Sour Cream Bundt cake had just the right vanilla flavor, and a waaaay better texture - so dense and moist! - and would be the PERFECT replacement in this favorite of mine.

So here it is, my Mom's improved classic, improved upon. Whether my kids like it or not, now that it's perfect, this is going to continue to be passed on as a family classic. Yay - I have made a tradition!

Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 (16 oz.) carton fat-free sour cream
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
4 T melted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, and/or hazelnuts)
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 cup miniature marshmallows

1. Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 9x13 cake pan with cooking spray.

2. Place granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and sour cream; beat until well blended.

3. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk until well combined. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture, stirring just until combined. Pour batter into prepared baking pan.

4. Create topping. Combine melted butter, brown sugar, nuts, chocolate chips and marshmallows in a small bowl. Snitch a taste - this topping is delicious! Use your hand to sprinkle topping evenly over cake. Bake at 350 for about 35-40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Burn your tongue having your first bite because you just can't wait for it to cool.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th Sugar Cookies

Just a good classic sugar cookie here, especially nice for doing holiday shapes. We made these in moon and pumpkin shapes for the preschool Halloween party, and hearts for Valentine's day. We're taking these to the neighborhood picnic after the local parade today.When I'm making sugar cookies for myself I like a nice thick buttercream frosting on top - it's the best part of the cookie! But when I'm making them ahead of time, to package and/or take somewhere, it's nice to use this glaze that hardens enough so they don't get messed up in transit. For Valentine's day we let them set, then wrapped them in individual cellophane bags for each of Hazel's classmates. A very clean situation, this glaze. And as you can see, it holds any topping you can dream of.Our Mecham cousins are our newest neighbors so we had the girls over, on their second day here, to help decorate. What good baking fun!Unfortunately Ginger was napping while we decorated, but when she woke up she became the self-designated clean-up crew.

Sugar Cookies
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

1. In a large bowl cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover; chill dough at least 1 hour, or overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 400. Roll out dough on floured surface to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into shapes with cookie cutter. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely before icing. Makes 5 to 5 1/2 dozen 3-inch cookies.

Shiny Glaze
3 cups confectioners' sugar (I add a little more to make it thicker)
3 T light corn syrup
6 T water or milk
About 1 tsp flavoring (vanilla, peppermint, almond extract, etc.)
Food coloring as desired

Stir sugar, corn syrup and water together. Stir in flavoring and food coloring. Glaze dries quickly so stir it often with a whisk. Dip top of cookie gently into glaze. Hold over bowl to let excess drip off. Decorate with sprinkles, candy, etc. Allow to sit on wire rack until glaze sets hard and shiny. Ices about as many cookies as the above recipe makes. Easy to cut or multiply.
Recipes from, January 2009
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...