Thanksgiving Files: Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

In preparation for next week, I thought I would highlight a few of my favorite Thanksgiving ideas. Also, to see all of them, click on this link: Thanksgiving Files.

This is by far the most requested dessert I make.  This time of year every dinner I attend, this is what I am asked to bring. I’ll be making two tonight to take to various get-togethers  this week.  Easy, easy, easy and foolproof, but always a beautiful presentation.  If you’re looking to wow, try this one.  From 2009:

Cranberries are on sale!  Buy them now, because I’ve got some great cranberry recipes coming up.  I’m starting with this one, because if you’re going to be a guest at someone else’s Thanksgiving dinner, this is the dish to take.  It’s pretty to look at and it’s both sweet and tangy, perfect after a big dinner.  You’ll wow everyone with it and it’s foolproof to make.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups cranberries, chopped*
  • ½ cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp orange zest (rind)
  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup milk

Topping

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 tbsp orange juice (more as needed)
  • 2 tsp butter, softened

8×8 glass baking dish & mixing bowl

Preheat oven to 350°

Melt 3 tbsp of butter and pour into baking dish, spread to cover bottom and up the sides. Add ½ cup sugar, mix with butter on bottom of pan. Add cranberries & walnuts, spread over bottom of pan. Cream remaining butter & sugar, add vanilla, egg, orange zest, mix well. Add flour, baking powder & milk, mix until well blended, don’t over mix. Pour batter over cranberry mixture. Bake for 1 hour, or until golden brown and center bounces back at the touch. Invert on plate. Let cool.

Topping: Mix together butter, orange juice & powdered sugar, pour over cake and serve.

* if you don’t have a food processor, you can leave cranberries whole.

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Pastry Pr0n – Cream Horns

DSC_9345 (1600x1060)Mrs J was wanting to use up the puff pastry dough so she baked up a few cream horns.  Not wanting to reprise the pastry cream fillings from the last time we fooled around with more cream filling recipes.  I made up a batch of the stuff made with shortening but she didn’t like the thought of it.  I dumped the lot and went with a cream cheese – marshmallow fluff recipe that was pretty easy:  beat 1 cup of cream cheese with 1/2 cup marshmallow cream and 1/4 cup of powdered sugar.  Great Success!

Friday Night Recipe Exchange: Sweet Treats

Coconut Lemon Cake c2011 W4DS

Coconut Lemon Cake

Something about frigid temps makes me crave sweets. So when I was thinking about tonight’s recipes, that is what I was drawn to and lemon themed recipes rose to the top. I suppose because it brings with it a reminder of warmer climates. Which is where I am headed later in the month. Beach weather. I’ll be the pale, wind swept one by the eucalyptus tree.

One of my favorite tangy, sweet desserts is Sour Cream Lemon Poppyseeed Cake, yum, recipe here.

Sliced Lemon Poppy Seed

Since next week bring with it the ultimate date night, I thought it would be a good idea to include some special sweets: Valentine’s Day Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies, recipe here and Valentine’s Chocolates, recipes here.

Which is a good time to let you know there will be no recipe exchange next Friday. Do you have Valentine’s plans? Do you go out or stay home and cook? Or do you ignore it all together? (You should probably make sure your romantic partner is on board with that, if that’s your plan. Right?) And during these cold, cold days, what do you like to cook?

DSC_7759 (1600x1060)

Let’s not leave JeffreyW out of the mix, he and Mrs. J spent the cold week giving their kitchen a work out and this is one of the recipes that fortified them. Peanut Butter Granola Bars, click here.

And finally, tonight’s featured recipe (pictured at top):

Lemon Coconut Layer Cake

I have a friend who loves coconut cream pie.  I’m not a big fan, so I’ve never made one.  But when I saw a photo of a coconut-lemon cake, I thought she might like it, so I gave it a whirl.  The original cake was 6-layers, I just couldn’t fathom that, so I reduced it to a 4-layer cake.  Layering is easier to do if you use pie pans instead of cake pans.  This eliminates the need to cut each cake in half to achieve thin, even layers.  This cake works best if made the night before.  Refrigerate so the lemon filling stays firm. And shredded coconut covers any number of baking sins.

Coconut Cake:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 13 oz coconut milk
  • 3 eggs, separated

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 9-inch pie pans

Cream the butter in a mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until very light, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks, blending well.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and add to the creamed mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the coconut milk, and beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add the vanilla and beat to thoroughly combine.

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff, and then gently fold into the cake batter. Divide evenly and pour into the pans, spreading to the edges. Bake until a toothpick inserted into one of the cakes comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Loosen and invert onto racks to cool completely.

Lemon cream filling:

  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Combine the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, water, lemon juice, lemon zest and butter in the top of a double boiler set over, but not touching, boiling water. Cook, stirring, until thick and creamy, about 5 or 6 minutes.  Cool thoroughly before spreading on the cake layers.

Okay, so all the recipes for lemon filling wanted a double-boiler.  I started with one, but after 5 minutes of stirring and not thickening, I changed over to a saucepan and whisked it for 5 minutes while it boiled and thickened and had no issues with it burning or sticking.  High altitude may have been the reason for my original troubles.  Water boils at a lower temperature here, so the double boiler may not have offered enough heat to thicken the sauce.

Butter Cream Frosting:

  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  ¼ cup coconut milk
  • 2 cups shredded coconut

With a mixer, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

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

To assemble: Place first layer on cake plate, bottom side up, spread with a third of the lemon filling, sprinkle with coconut, place next layer, bottom side up, repeat and again with the third layer.  Place fourth layer, top side up.  Frost and garnish with more shredded coconut.

That’s it for this week. On Monday the full dinner menu and shopping list will post and it will be a Valentine’s dinner if you need ideas. Happy Valentine’s Day! – TaMara

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Thursday Recipe Exchange: Chocolate-Walnut Flourless Cookies

nom nom nom

First off, I am still in denial that Thanksgiving is next week. I’ve done a test turkey and JeffreyW has done a test duck. I may use his orange glaze recipe for my next turkey, which I’ll stuff with sliced oranges and spices. And that reminds me, there will be no recipe exchange next Thursday. I did make some excellent turkey soup from my test turkey leftovers, I’ll try and post that recipe sometime next week so you’ll have it if you’re looking for something to do with your leftovers.

For tonight, we’re going to chocolate heaven. I’ve had these on my list to try for months and finally decided it was time. They did not disappoint and were very easy and quite addictive. The original recipe (here: François Payard’s Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookies) was suggested to me by fellow blogger Glutenvygirl ages ago. I looked over the original recipe and a couple of similar recipes and then tweaked this one just enough to suit my own tastes.

Fair warning, this recipe is a little messy. Or maybe it’s just me. Cocoa powder and powdered sugar are preternaturally attracted to me. By the time I was done cooking, my Laura Petrie inspired black-kick-around-the-house-outfit looked like there’d been an assassination attempt on it by a snowman and his cooler ninja brother. Although, I should have known better after that disastrous visit to Café De Monde in New Orleans while wearing a black t-shirt and dark blue jeans. C’est la vie.

Next time I try this recipe there will be an apron.

Now I have a challenge for you. Because of various recipes, I have egg yolks and about 14 oz of pumpkin puree leftover in my refrigerator that I need to use up before they go bad. Anyone have any good ideas that aren’t pumpkin pie? Heck, I’d even take a pumpkin pie recipe if it is out of the ordinary.

What’s for Thanksgiving Dinner this year? Staying home or going to grandma’s house (or equivalent)? Anyone trying something new and daring?

Okay, tonight’s featured recipe, which by the way is gluten-free:

Notes: To separate eggs, the easiest way I’ve found is the Nigella Lawson method of using your hand. It is quick and easy. The original recipe called for regular cocoa and 3 cups of powdered sugar, that sounded much too sweet, so I reduced that first thing and since I love dark chocolate I used 1/2 dark and 1/2 regular cocoa. Next time I think I would go full dark chocolate. It was still very sweet, but I’d be afraid of reducing the sugar more because I think you need the volume. That doesn’t mean I won’t give it try sometime. You need to let them cool completely otherwise they stick to the parchment. They were still warm when I pulled the first one off, and it left crumbs and wasn’t as structurally sound as the completely cooled ones ended up being. You’ll need parchment paper for this recipe or a silpat.

Flourless Dark Chocolate Walnut Cookies

  • 2 cups walnut halves or pieces
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened Dark cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature

Bowl, baking sheet, parchment, wire cooking rack

Toast walnuts for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees, cool and rough chop. Reduce oven temperature to 320 degrees.

While walnuts are cooling, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder and salt until well mixed. Add walnuts and mix well. Add vanilla and then egg whites one at a time. Whisk to combine, but do not over mix. You want the batter to be about brownie mixture consistency. A bit moister than regular cookie dough, but not too moist, like cake batter (is that helpful?). Three egg whites might be the perfect, or may need to add one more. Drop mixture by the spoonful on parchment paper and bake at 320 degrees for 14 minutes. Move PARCHMENT paper AND cookies to a wire rack to cool. Do not remove until cooled completely. Makes 2 doz.

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Fruit Desserts

Cross-posted at Balloon-Juice

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m having fun with these Thursday night recipe posts. Thanks for playing.

I love chocolate, so it’s usually my sweet of choice. But a very close second is fruit desserts. Strawberries, apples, oranges, blueberries, citrus anything, I love them all. So I have a wide range of fruit dessert recipes available:

Strawberry Bread, Orange Cookies, Key Lime Pie Bars,  Coconut Lemon Cake (perfect for Easter dinner), pineapple and cranberry upside-down cakes, blueberry oatmeal cookies, the list goes on…and on.

It was hard to narrow down the recipe for tonight, I ended up choosing two, Perfect Apple Crisp and Sour Cream Lemon-Poppy Seed Cake.  One is decadant, one is quick and easy. What fruit desserts make the top of your list? Hit the comments with the recipes. Next week: I’ll be traveling again, but I’m thinking pizza, since JeffreyW has so many varieties and I’m usually hunting perfect pizza places while I travel.

On to tonight’s recipes.

This is one of the most requested birthday cakes at our office:

Sour Cream Lemon-Poppy Seed Pound Cake

You’ll want to prep the lemon juice, lime juice and zests ahead of time. You’ll need 2 lemons and 3 limes to complete the recipe.

  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp lime zest
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) melted butter, cooled slightly
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds

Bundt or Angel Food pan, greased and floured

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix sugar, eggs, zests, lemon, juice, limejuice, sour cream, butter and salt until well blended. Mix together flour and baking soda. Add flour mixture in three sections to egg mixture, mixing until blended, but do not over blend. Fold in poppy seeds. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 75-90 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes, or until cool to touch, then remove from pan to cool completely, about 2 hours.

Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • Dash of vanilla extract

Whisk together until smooth. Pour over the top of cooled cake. Let stand about 10 minutes until set.

Next is a different take on apple crisp.  I had seen video of a recipe that pre-cooked the apples in a cast iron skillet. The idea looked really good and since I’m all about cooking in my cast iron skillets, I thought I’d give it a whirl.  And I have to say, that yes it did make the best apple crisp ever.  It allows the apples to fully cook, then you can bake the “crisp” part at a higher temperature for a shorter time, giving it a really crisp top.

Cast Iron Apple Crisp

  • 2 lbs apples – mix of sweet and tart (about 3 apples)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • dash of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to taste

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (more as desired)
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup flour

10 inch cast iron skillet and small mixing bowl

Core and cut apples into small pieces (about 1/2 inch). Peeling is optional, but with this method the peels cook nice and soft, so it isn’t necessary.

Melt butter in skillet, add apples and sugar, stir until apples are well coated. Cover and cook on medium heat until apple mixture is soft and caramelized, stirring occasionally. About 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In mixing bowl, stir together butter, sugar, flour and oats, mix until crumbly. Crumble over the apple mixture. Bake for 10-15 minutes, just until top is crispy golden brown. Let cool 10 minutes and serve warm.

What makes this so good is that because the apples are cooked on the stovetop, you can use a much higher heat in the oven and get a good, crisp top without drying the whole mixture out or under cooking the apples. Really, this is one of the best apple crisps I’ve made.

Alternately, if you don’t have an oven-proof skillet, you can transfer the cooked apple mixture to a glass baking dish, add topping and bake that way.

Sour Cream Lemon-Poppy Seed Pound Cake

This one turned out much better

Last month, I was not happy with the 7-Up pound cake, it was very dry. I added extra flour as is usually needed to make a cake at altitude. It didn’t need it, so I also suspect it doesn’t need the full 3-1/2 cups below 5000 feet either. I’ve amended the entry to reflect this.

I was going to make it again to see for sure, but at the last minute decided to go a different route and adapt a sour cream pound cake to include lemon and poppy seeds. This is what we call baking by committee. When I polled everyone at work to see what they wanted, well this is what happens. Though I must admit, the citrus is all me. Besides chocolate desserts, I love citrus desserts, especially in summer. So lemon cake it had to be.

Sour Cream Lemon-Poppy Seed Pound Cake

You’ll want to prep the lemon juice, lime juice and zests ahead of time.. You’ll need 2 lemons and 3 limes to complete the recipe.

  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp lime zest
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) melted butter, cooled slightly
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds

Bundt or Angel Food pan, greased and floured

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix sugar, eggs, zests, lemon, juice, limejuice, sour cream, butter and salt until well blended. Mix together flour and baking soda. Add flour mixture in three sections to egg mixture, mixing until blended, but do not over blend. Fold in poppy seeds. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 75-90 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes, or until cool to touch, then remove from pan to cool completely, about 2 hours.

Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • Dash of vanilla extract

Whisk together until smooth. Pour over the top of cooled cake. Let set about 10 minutes until set.

Links to some of my other citrus desserts:

Coconut Lemon Cake

Key Lime Coconut  Bars

Orange Cookies

Key Lime Pie

Cannoli

Mrs J has been threatening to make some of these ever since she saw them during a Sopranos episode years ago.  I ordered some of the tube forms the other day and today she fired up the mixer.

This is the recipe we went with.  I’m not a judge of cannoli, never had one before, but these were darn good.  We rolled the dough with the pasta machine to about an eighth of an inch, then rolled 4″ circles cut with a tumbler a bit thinner yet, into a rough oval about 4″x6″.  These were wrapped around the tube forms and then fried in 375 degree oil-I was giving them 2 to 2-1/2 minutes.

Mrs J had read several recipes and kind of winged it on the filling.  She figures the proportions were 1-1/2 cups of ricotta, 1 cup of cream cheese, and 1/2 cup of Splenda per batch, it took 3 batches to fill the cannolis.  We ended up making 15 total.  Your count may vary depending on how the thick your dough is and the length of the individual tubes you roll.  We tossed enough scrap dough to roll another but deemed the dough overworked already.

I can see where the filling recipe you end up with could vary quite a bit.  There are tons of flavorings and cheeses that would work great.  Mrs J was going to use some vanilla in hers today and just forgot.

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Kid Friendly: Fruit Crepes

It’s snowing here….3 inches an hour according to the local weather guru. I have bread baking and got to work from home today, so it is all good. It’ll be 60 degrees by Sunday, so I’m enjoying the last (hopefully!) of the snow. With the promise of spring, I’m still all about fresh fruits and vegetables, so the kid’s recipe tonight is for crepes.  They’re light and fresh.

Do the idea of crepes scare you?! They did me until I decided to brave the waters for this recipe. They are unbelievably easy. The only difference between this and making pancakes is how you manipulate the pan. Make sure after you’ve lightly greased the pan and heated it, you remove it from the heat before adding the batter. Then you need to swirl the batter thinly around the pan and up the sides, until it sets. Return to the heat to let it cook. Immediately begin to loosen the top edges with a butter knife, so when it’s time to flip, it’s easy to do.

I found flipping it by hand easiest. Gently loosen the edges completely and gingerly pickup by the edge and flip it over when the bottom is golden. You may need to loosen the bottom with a spatula before flipping. If you’re feeling daring…you can try flipping them. Just remember, they don’t have to look perfect or be paper thin to work!

Fruit Crepes

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon

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  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 4 oz sliced strawberries
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 2 kiwi fruits, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup granola
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt
  • powdered sugar

10-inch skillet with sloped sides or crepe pan, 2 bowls, plate & parchment or wax paper

Whisk together eggs, flour, milk, butter, ¼ tsp cinnamon. Mix well and refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes while you prepare fruit.

In medium bowl, combine ¼ tsp cinnamon, berries, banana, kiwi, granola & yogurt. Cover & refrigerate. Lightly grease skillet and heat over medium heat. Just before adding batter, remove from heat. Add ½ cup of batter for each crepe. Immediately after adding it, swirl pan until batter is spread completely around the pan and up the sides. Return to heat and cook until golden on the bottom, flip and cook until other side is golden. About 2 minutes each side, but watch carefully. Remove to plate. Repeat for each crepe. Place parchment paper between crepes.

To assemble, put ¼ fruit mixture in each crepe and roll up. Top with garnish of powdered sugar. Makes 8 crepes.