dulcis serenus

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Day off October 17, 2013

Filed under: cake decorating,candy,cookies,novelty,nuts,white chocolate — dulcisserenus @ 2:09 am
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Occasionally I spend my day off baking, and my favorite of baking-days-off are spent with the Purma twins. They’re three, and amazing! Today we made Halloween bark and ghosts out of paper plates. It was an awesome afternoon. (Sorry for any fuzzy picture: the twins seem to never stop moving)

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Caramel Corn September 10, 2011

So, I’ve been out of contact for a while and, for that, I am sorry.  I’ve had a busy couple of months with surprisingly little baking, until now.  We’ve moved again; we’re still in the wonderful city of Austin, but in a much better location, and I’m really loving our new house.  The kitchen is a little dated, but there is lots of counter space and, my favorite thing, a double oven, which I have been putting to good use the last couple of days.  Our friends have twins and tomorrow is the little ones’ first birthday party.  I am super excited about this as their mother and I have been diligently meeting, planning, and crafting for the past three weeks or so.  (I must say that my Cricut machine has been put to very good use.)  It is going to be amazingly adorable, and I get to make almost all of the baked goods!  Everyone refers to the twins as “The Peanuts” so the majority of the food at this birthday extravaganza is going to involve peanuts, including this amazing Caramel Corn.

Here’s what you need:

7 cups plain popcorn, popped

2 cups peanuts

2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1 tsp salt

1 cup unsalted butter

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla

Here’s what you do:

Place the popped popcorn into two greased baking pans.  I used disposable roasting pans.  Add the peanuts to the popcorn.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.  Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Bring to boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes while stirring constantly.

Remove the caramel mixture from the heat, and stir in the baking soda and vanilla.  The mixture will become lighter and foamy.  Immediately pour over the popcorn in the pans, and stir to coat.  Don’t worry about getting all of the corn coated; the caramel will spread out as you bake and stir it.

Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Line your counter top with waxed paper.  Pour the caramel corn out onto the waxed paper and separate the pieces.  Allow to cool completely, then store in airtight containers.

 

Bourbon Celebration May 26, 2011

When asked what baked good he wanted for his birthday, my friend CP replied, “A bottle of bourbon.”  I immediately thought, I can do that.   And I did.  In the form of a Chocolate Bourbon Cake decorated with Candied Bourbon Pecans and accompanied by Bourbon Ice Cream.  It was a bourbon dessert feast, and it was amazing.  I knew I wanted a cake that was rich without being too sweet with a dense, tight crumb.  So, I modified my favorite cake recipe by adding cocoa, vanilla pudding mix, and bourbon, of course.  The pudding mix might sound like an odd addition, but it is a great way to make cakes more dense similar to a torte.  I have to say that I’m not much of an alcohol in cake person.  I typically think that the alcohol can be overwhelming, but the bourbon in this cake gave the chocolate a warm spice flavor that was quite enjoyable.

Here’s what you need:

for the cake:

8 Tbls butter

3/4 cup sugar

zest of 2 clementines

1/4 cup bourbon

1 cup flour

1/4 cup cocoa

1 pkg instant vanilla pudding mix

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

1/3 cup milk

1 Tbls vanilla

2 eggs

for the toppings

(glaze)

1 cup powdered sugar

3 Tbls bourbon

(candied pecans)

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup milk

1 10 oz pkg pecan halves

2 Tbls vanilla

1 oz bourbon

Here’s what you do:

Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare one round cake pan by spraying with non-stick spray and lining with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and clementine zest.  Stir in bourbon.

In another bowl, combine dry ingredients.  In a liquid measuring cup, combine wet ingredients.

Mix wet and dry ingredients alternately into the creamed mixture beginning and ending with the dry.

Pour into prepared cake pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Glaze:

Once cake is cool, combine the powdered sugar and bourbon stirring until smooth and drizzle over the cake.

Candied Pecans:

In a medium sauce pan, combine salt, sugar, cinnamon, and milk.  Bring to boil over medium heat stirring occasionally.  Continue to boil the candy mixture until it reaches soft ball stage, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and bourbon, then pecans.

Immediately spread pecan mixture onto a wax paper lined surface and separate using two forks.  This makes more pecans than you will need for decorating, but you will be glad to have the extra.  They are a bit addictive.

Decorate the top of the cake with candied pecans and some additional clementine zest.

Serve with Homemade Bourbon Ice Cream.

 

Ms. Shannon’s Rhubarb Cake!! November 30, 2010

Rhubarb can be a tough sell with a lot of people: it looks like red celery, it’s extremely tart, and most people can’t even decide for sure if it’s a fruit or a vegetable.  That being said, I love rhubarb!  I don’t think that it gets enough recognition.  If cooked correctly, it has the perfect balance of sweet and tart, plus it’s a terrific source of Vitamin C, iron, and fiber.  I generally enjoy my rhubarb in the form of pie, however, last year my friend and former co-worker, Shannon, shared this wonderful Rhubarb Cake with me and it is the most amazing thing.  It lies somewhere between cake and pie, is covered in crunchy nuts, and enveloped in a sweet, vanilla scented glaze that counteracts the tartness of the rhubarb.  It is the perfect rhubarb recipe.  People who think that they don’t like rhubarb like this cake.  How could they not?  It’s irresistible.

Here’s what you need:

cake:

1/2 cup butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 egg

1 cup sour milk (mix l cup milk with 1 Tbls. vinegar or lemon juice)

1 tsp. vanilla

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

3 to 4 cups rhubarb (1/4 inch thick if fresh; 2 16 ounce bags frozen, defrosted)

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup (or more) pecans or other nuts

glaze:

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup evaporated milk

1/2 tsp. vanilla

Here’s what you do:

Cream together the butter and sugar, add the egg, milk, and vanilla.  Beat until smooth.  Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix into the creamed mixture.  Lastly, add the rhubarb and mix by hand until everything is well combined.

Grease and flour one 13X10 inch baking pan or two 8 inch square pans.  Pour the batter into your pan(s) and spread it out to make it level.  Top the cake mixture with the brown sugar and then the pecans.

Bake at 350 for approximately 45 minutes.  Because I used frozen rhubarb, I had to bake mine about 10 minutes longer.

To make the glaze, melt together the butter, sugar, and evaporated milk in a medium sauce pan.  Boil the mixture 3 1/2 minutes while stirring constantly.  Add in 1/2 tsp. vanilla and immediately pour over the hot cake(s).  Let cool completely before serving.  (I think I boiled my glaze a little too long.  It was supposed to sink into the cake a little more.  It’s still yummy, though)

 

An Ode to Easter, Part 1 April 2, 2010

I love holidays, not because of presents, but because of the excuse to bake, and bake a lot.  I always get overly ambitious and go way overboard, but I can’t help myself, and this Easter is no exception.  We are having Easter dinner at our house this year, so I am being given free reign over what is made…this may have been a mistake, but it is going to be a delicious one.  I have decided on two desserts and one candy, and I will hopefully complete all three.  I have previously made the two desserts, but it is going to be a first for the candy as it is a co-worker’s wife’s recipe, so wish me luck.

This first installment of “An Ode to Easter” will center around the first dessert: Cherry Pecan Tart.  I first made this tart last Thanksgiving with cranberries instead of cherries, and it was an immediate hit.  It is surprisingly easy and looks very impressive.  This time I am making it with frozen sweet dark cherries because, apparently, cranberry season in the fall.  (They are harvested in September and October.)   The original recipe came from the November 2009 issue of “Better Homes and Gardens”.  I saw it and thought, “I want to make that.”  However, as I was reading the recipe I realized it was needlessly complicated: it involved cooking the filling on the stove and then whisking in an egg mixture.  I decided to try the recipe as it was and ended up with a tart filling that had scrambled eggs in it, yuck!  Needless to say, that went into the trash and I started over.  I decided that I could do better by combining the “idea” of this tart with two other recipes.  The filling came from a friend’s “Pecan Tartlet” recipe, and the crust I borrowed from the blog Dessert First.  The result?  Amazing!

Here’s what you need:

Crust:

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)

1/4 tsp. salt

9 Tbls. very cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1 large egg yolk

Filling:

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup dark corn syrup

2/3 cup brown sugar

4 Tbls. melted butter

2 tsp. vanilla

2 cups pecan halves, toasted if preferred

1 cup frozen dark cherries (or fresh cranberries when they are in season)

Here’s what you do:
Place the flour, sugar, and salt in bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine.  Add in cold butter and process until pea-sized lumps of dough form.  It should be loose and crumbly.  Add the egg yolk and process until the dough starts to come together.  Butter one 11 inch tart pan or six 5 inch tart pans.  The ones with the removable bottoms work best.  Turn the dough out onto a work surface and lightly press it together into a ball.  (I just dump it into the tart pan and press it together.)   Using your hands, press the dough into the pan working it over the bottom and up the sides.  If you are having a hard time getting an even layer of crust, you can use the bottom of  a measuring cup to flatten out the dough.  Chill in freezer for about 15 minutes while you combine the filling ingredients.

In a medium bowl mix together the filling ingredients except the pecans and cherries.  Remove the tart shell from the freezer and scatter the pecans into the crust followed by the cherries.  Pour the filling mixture over the top of the pecans and cherries.  Let the tart sit for a few minutes so the filling can level out and seep into all of the nooks between the pecans and cherries.

Bake the tart in a preheated, 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes until filling is set.  Let the tart come to room temperature and then move to the refrigerator to cool completely.  Cut the tart into wedges to serve.

Post Script:

While the tart looked wonderful, once I cut into it I realized that the cherries were much more juicy than I had expected.  This resulted in the filling being a bit more runny than usual.  This could easily have been avoided by adding 2 Tbls. of flour or cornstarch to the filling.  Oh well, next time I will know.

 

Mmm…Sour Cream Coffee Cake March 25, 2010

Filed under: baking,cake and cup cakes,nuts — dulcisserenus @ 11:02 pm
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I, like any other person, love any excuse to eat sweets for breakfast, and coffee cake gives me this opportunity without the guilt.  After all, isn’t coffee cake supposed to be eaten at breakfast?  I mean, it has “coffee”, the beloved breakfast drink of millions, in the title.  That has to be a sign that coffee cake for breakfast is a totally acceptable choice, or so I keep telling myself.  I have always loved coffee cake; I can remember eating it as a kid and loving the dense texture and the explosion of cinnamon as I bit into the streusel.  Every time I eat a slice, I think: “this is heaven.”  I searched for years to find a good recipe for coffee cake, but could never find one that had all of the things that I love about it.  Some were too much like bread covered in cinnamon; others had the texture of birthday cake (which I love, but not what I was looking for in a good coffee cake).  I’m not sure where I found this particular recipe, but I am so amazingly glad that I did.  It is some of the best coffee cake I have ever had, plus it has pecans in it, which make everything better.

Here’s what you need:

Cake Batter:

12 Tbls. (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla (yes, that is a giant bottle of Mexican vanilla)

1 1/4 cups sour cream (regular or reduced fat)

2 1/2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

Streusel:

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup flour

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

3 Tbls. cold butter, cut into pieces

3/4 cup pecans

Here’s what you do:

Grease and flour a bundt pan, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cream 12 Tbls. butter and sugar until creamy.  Add in the eggs, vanilla, and sour cream mixing until fully incorporated.  Combine dry ingredients (2 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/2 tsp. salt) in a medium bowl and slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.  Set aside.  The batter may grow as it is resting as a result of the leavening reacting with the sour cream.  This is what gives the coffee cake its dense, but moist texture.

Combine the brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 3 Tbls. cold butter in a medium bowl.  Use your fingers or a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the other ingredients, until you have a fine crumble and everything is mixed together well.

Spoon half of the cake batter into the prepared bundt pan.  Cover with all of the streusel and pecans.  I use whole pecans that I crush lightly with my hands as I am sprinkling them in to get a variation in size.  Cover with the rest of the cake batter, making sure to cover all of the streusel.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.  Let the cake rest in the pan for about 10 minutes, then loosen the cake from the pan by running a butter knife around the edges and center and invert the cake onto a serving platter.

At this point, you can drizzle with a powdered sugar glaze, spoon over melted cake icing, or dust with powdered sugar.  I like mine plain, or maybe with some homemade Mexican vanilla ice cream…

 

 
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