Hummingbird Cake

Hummingbird Cake

Photo by Chris Absheer

It is thought the name “Hummingbird Cake” was penned as a result of people ‘humming’ after tasting the scrumptious dessert.  This delicious recipe is provided by St Louis guest blogger, Chris Absheer, who is on a quest to provide decadent desserts that are simple enough for the home baker.

Cake Ingredients:

  • 3 cups self- rising flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 large bananas, mashed
  • 8-ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 large eggs, beaten

Frosting Directions:

  • 1 pound confectioner sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 6 Tbs. butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. milk, more if needed
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans and 9 pecan halves

Cake Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour three 8” round cake pans.
  3. In a large bowl combine all the cake ingredients.  Stir by hand until smooth.
  4. Divide batter in the three pans.  Bake 26 to 28 minutes, or until cake surface springs back when touched.
  5. Cool cake pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove cakes from pans and place on rack until cooled completely.

Frosting Directions:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine confectioner sugar, cream cheese, butter, vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk on medium speed until smooth.  If the frosting is too stiff, add more milk, one tablespoon at a time.
  2. Frost the cake and decorate with pecans.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes 8 servings.

 

 

Mile High Chocolate Cream Pie

Mile High Chocolate Cream Pie

Among my circle of friends, I’m typically the one cooking and baking (and loving it).  This weekend, my two girlfriends from Florida, Eileen and Gloriann, came to visit me to help celebrate my 40th birthday.  To their surprise and my amusement, I put them to work to make me a birthday pie.  The recipe below is inspired by a chocolate cream pie by Hershey and it’s delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 cups milk, divided
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 9-inch pie crust, baked and cooled
  • 2 cups heavy cream, whipped

Directions:

  1. Combine chocolate and 2 cups milk in medium saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, just until mixture boils.  Remove from heat.
  2. Stir together sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt in medium bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining cup of milk and the egg yolks.  Stir the egg mixture into the sugar mixture.   Gradually add the egg and sugar mixture to the saucepan with the warm chocolate.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture boils, about 2 minutes.  Boil and stir 1 minute.  Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla extract.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture into the pie crust.  Press a sheet of shrink wrap directly onto the surface of the chocolate mixture to prevent a skin from forming.  Cool for 20 minutes then refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours.
  5. Top the pie with whipped cream before serving.

8 to 10 servings.

 

 

Chocolate Caramel Tart

Chocolate Caramel Tart

{photo by Andre Baranowski, via Saveur}

When Saveur showcased this dessert (from Brooklyn’s Marlow & Sons) on its cover, I thought I’d go mad.  Wow, what a beauty!  At a friend’s request, I made it for my New Year’s Eve dinner party and it was as delicious and it is gorgeous.

Originally published in Saveur magazine

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 1⁄2 cups flour
  • 1⁄4 cup plus 1 tbsp. Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 10 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and softened
  • 1⁄2 cup plus 2 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 egg yolks, preferably at room temperature
  • 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract

Caramel Ingredients:

  • 1 1⁄2 cups sugar
  • 3 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 6 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. crème fraîche

Ganache Ingredients:

  • 1⁄2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • Gray sea salt for garnish

Crust Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350˚.
  2. Combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until mixture is pale and fluffy; mix in yolks and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients.
  4. Transfer dough to a 9″ fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and press dough evenly into bottom and sides of pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Prick the tart shell all over with a fork and bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes.  Transfer to a rack and let cool.

Caramel Directions:

  1. In a 1-qt. saucepan, whisk together sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 6 tbsp. water and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer inserted into the syrup reads 340°.
  2. Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter, cream, and crème fraîche (the mixture will bubble up) until smooth. Pour caramel into cooled tart shell and let cool slightly; refrigerate until firm, 4–5 hours.

Ganache Directions:

  1. Bring cream to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Put chocolate into a medium bowl and pour in hot cream; let sit for 1 minute, then stir slowly with a rubber spatula until smooth.
  3. Pour ganache evenly over tart and refrigerate until set, 4–5 hours.
  4. Sprinkle tart with sea salt, slice, and serve chilled.

Serves 8.

 

 

Keeping Family Traditions Alive

Keeping Family Traditions Alive

This is the first Christmas the family will spend without Grandma.  I’ve mentioned in past posts what an amazing cook and baker she was and that she had a huge part in my love of food.

One of the items that belonged to Grandma that I was fortunate enough to get was a small 3-section glass dish that she displayed her Christmas treats on.

I’ve made Grandma’s Chocolate and Peanut Butter Treats over the weekend and plan on proudly displaying them on the dish to my guests.

It’s one of my small contributions to keeping traditions alive.

Cheers,

Veronique

Buche de Noel with Browned Butter Salted Caramel Frosting

Buche de Noel with Browned Butter Salted Caramel Frosting

Growing up, my Grandma made jelly roll cake all the time.  A favorite was the vanilla cake with raspberry jam tucked inside and confectioner’s sugar lightly dusted over.  Every Christmas, our family shares a Bûche de Noël, in recent years, it has been purchased because nobody has wanted to tackle making it from scratch.  This will be the first Christmas we spend without Grandma and I have decided to bite the bullet and make our family’s Yule log.  Here is a version I might use, unless I have a chocolate craving.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Coat an 11×17 jelly roll pan with cooking spray.  Line the pan with a sheet of parchment paper and coat the paper with additional cooking spray.
  2. Using a stand mixer, beat the eggs for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Add the sugar, Grand Marnier, zest, vanilla and salt and beat for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add flour in quarter cup additions, incorporating with a rubber spatula very gently. Do not over mix!
  4. Spread the batter evenly into the pan and bake for 10 minutes.  Wait 3 minutes and remove the cake from the pan and onto a large kitchen towel dusted with confectioner’s sugar.  Peel off the parchment paper.  Wait 2 minutes and roll the shorter side onto itself using the kitchen towel as a guide until a tight roll is created.  Chill rolled cake for 30 minutes then unroll the cake gently, removing the towel as you go.
  5. Spread 1 cup of frosting on the cake in an even layer then roll back into a tight log.  Cut a 2-inch piece at one end of the cake at an angle and place atop the cake to create a branch stump.  Frost the outside of the cake, including the stump, run a fork over the surface of the cake to create mock bark then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve 10.

Browned Butter and Salted Caramel Frosting

My friend Lisa is a huge caramel fan and I’ve designed this simple-to-make frosting with her in mind.  Great used as icing on a cake or as frosting on cupcakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pound box confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat then cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.  Add the brown sugar and the cream to the browned butter, lower heat to medium and cook for additional 2 minutes, until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Remove from heat, add the vanilla then transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer.
  2. Beat the butter mixture on low for about 4 minutes, until it has cooled a bit.  Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until the frosting is smooth.  Add the sea salt and stir well to fully incorporate.  Refrigerate for 20 minutes before using.

Makes about 2 cups of frosting.

Dulce de Leche Mini Cheesecakes

Dulce de Leche Mini Cheesecakes

This weekend, I was asked to bring dessert to a potluck dinner.  The hostess is a caramel fanatic, so I knew that my Dulce de Leche Cheesecake would be well-received, but I wanted something more portable.  This recipe yields 24 two-bite cheesecakes, but can easily be halved if you only need a dozen.

Ingredients:

  • 24 round vanilla cookies (I used Nabisco Nillas)
  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup good quality, Dulce de Leche (I used La Salamandra)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Add cupcake liners to two 12-muffin pans.  Place one vanilla cookie in the bottom of each liner.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy, about a minute.  Add the condensed milk then the eggs, one at a time, and beat for about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Divide the batter (I use a measuring cup) among the cupcake liners and bake until the centers of the cheesecakes are nearly set and outer edges are firm, about 23 minutes.
  5. Cool the muffin pans to room temperature then refrigerate the cheesecakes in the muffin pans for at least an hour.
  6. Microwave the Dulce de Leche for about 20 seconds and use to top each mini cheesecake with about a half teaspoon of warm Dulce de Leche.

Yields 24 mini cheesecakes

Peanut Butter, Banana and Nutella Panini

Peanut Butter, Banana and Nutella Panini

My grandma used to make my sister and me peanut butter and banana grilled sandwiches in a cast iron contraption when we were kids.  This contraption, an early version of a Panini press, had long handles that could be flipped on the stovetop until the bread was perfectly browned and gorgeous.  I miss those days and decided to sort of recreate the sandwich using my modern day Panini press and a little twist – Nutella!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp. softened butter
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread (I like oatmeal and whole wheat for this)
  • 2 Tbsp. chunky peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp. Nutella
  • ½ ripe banana, sliced

Directions:

  1. Heat up Panini press or a grill pan over high heat.
  2. Spread 1 teaspoon of butter on one side of each bread slice.
  3. Spread the peanut butter on the unbuttered side of one bread slice.
  4. Spread Nutella on the unbuttered side of the second bread slice then arrange the banana slices over Nutella.
  5. Top the Nutella/banana slice with the peanut butter slice so that the buttered side of each bread slice is on the outside and the goodies are on the inside.
  6. Place the sandwich in the Panini press and grill for 3 minutes.  Alternatively, place the sandwich on the grill pan (still on high heat) and top with the weight of multiple pans or a pan with a 2-3 pound weight in it and cook 1 1/2 minutes per sides.
  7. Transfer sandwich to a cutting board and cut sandwich diagonally using a serrated knife.

1 serving.

Crispy Chewy Triple Chip Cookies

Crispy Chewy Triple Chip Cookies

I’m sort of picky about cookies.  Some cookies I like crispy and crunchy and some I enjoy soft and chewy.  This past weekend, I decided to combine two of my recipes to create a crispy AND chewy cookie.  My tasting panel (ten warehouse workers at my office) really liked the results.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the eggs to the butter mixture, beating well after each one, until fully combined, about 1 minute.  Add the vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture – do not overmix.  Add the chips and mix until just combined.
  4. Line four cookie sheets (see notes) with parchment paper.  For each cookie, scoop one tablespoon of batter, place on a cookie sheet and flatten gently with the palm of your hand.  Eight cookies will fit on one each cookie sheet.
  5. Bake, two sheets at a time, until golden, about 13 minutes.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheets then transfer cookies to a cooling rack and continue baking cookies using cooled cookie sheets.

Makes 32 cookies.

Notes:  Don’t have four cookie sheets?  No sweat, cookies bake two cookie sheets at-a-time, so simply bake the first two sheets of cookies and bake a second batch of two sheets once the first ones are done.  You can use 1 ½ cups of light brown sugar if you don’t have dark.  Feel free to use different chips combinations based on your preferences.  You could also replace ½ of chips with ½ cup of chopped nuts to create texture.

 

Raspberry Croissant Bread Pudding

Raspberry Croissant Bread Pudding

I recently attended a berry virtual tasting hosted by Driscoll’s and WineTwits and created the following recipe to share with the group.  The results are just as tasty when blackberries are used.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cup half and half
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp.  pure vanilla extract
  • 4 croissants, cut into1/2” cubes
  • 1 6-ounce container of fresh raspberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Heat cream and half and half in a saucepan over medium heat until just simmering.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, ¾ cup sugar and vanilla until well combined.  Add a ladleful of hot cream to the egg mixture and whisk well to bring up the temperature of the eggs.  Add the rest of the cream to the egg custard and whisk well.
  4. Add the cubed croissants to the custard and gently push down the cubes into the liquid to ensure they absorb as much custard as possible.  Set aside for 20 minutes.
  5. Lightly coat four 10-ounce ramekins with cooking spray.  Add two raspberries to each ramekin then divide the bread and custard mixture between the four dishes.  Divide the remaining raspberries amount the dishes and sprinkle each with the rest of the sugar, about one teaspoon each.
  6. Place the ramekins on a cookie sheet and bake for about 35 minutes, until puddings are puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.  Serve while still warm with a drizzle of Blackberry Balsamic Coulis and/or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Makes 4 servings.