CHERRY CHEESECAKE BITES

These super simple and oh-so-scrumptious ‘cupcakes’ are quick and easy, but look and taste like they took you all day!! You can make the glaze as thick or thin as you like to change your look. I was trying for a new Easter recipe and I was looking for a new version of a hot cross bun 😀

Yields 24-26 cupcakes

CHERRY CHEESECAKE BITES adapted from REAL HOUSE MOMS

CRUST
1 1/2 cups ginger snap FINELY ground crumbs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon QUALITY ground cinnamon

  • Preheat oven to 325°.
  • Line two regular sized muffin tins with cupcake liners.
  • In a small bowl, mix together cookie crumbs, melted butter, sugar and cinnamon.
  • Pour 1 tablespoon of graham cracker mixture into the bottom of each cupcake liner.
  • Using a juice glass, press crumbs into an even packed layer.
  • Bake for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and let rest while you make the filling.

FILLING
32 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 LARGE eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Beat cream cheese until fluffy.
  • Gradually add in sugar and mix until smooth.
  • Add eggs, one at a time.
  • Add vanilla and salt, mixing to combine.
  • Pour 3 1/2 tablespoons of the cheesecake filling into each cupcake liner.
  • Tap muffin tins on the counter to bring the bubbles up to the top and pop them with a toothpick.
  • Bake cheesecakes for 22 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.


TOPPING
8 ounces SMUCKERS tart cherry jam (or jam/preserves of choice)

1 cup powdered sugar
2-4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract

  • Place 2 teaspoons of jam on top of each cheesecake where a little dip forms.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla until smooth. Vanilla glaze will be a little on the thick side, but should still drizzle off a spoon. Add more heavy cream as needed to reach your desired consistency.
  • Drizzle over cheesecake tops.

  • Chill for 2 to 4 hours.
  • Remove from liners and enjoy!


OLD FASHIONED GINGERBREAD

I remembered a target commercial from a few decades ago that featured Betty White making Gingerbread men so thought this was a good day for this recipe in honor of her would be 100th birthday. I even found a youtube of the old commercial.

I have been trying to recreate my grandmother’s gingerbread recipe for years. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have been written down anywhere and she is no longer with us so I cannot even try to coax it out of her 🙁

Her recipe was super moist, spicy with complex flavors. Each time I try a new recipe that sounds like it might come close I am sorely disappointed time after time. And then I ran across Jane’s recipe from The Heritage Cook. It didn’t sound right, but it sure looked right! So, I decided to give it a try and WHOA with a couple tweaks it’s so darn close that I’m calling it a day on my search.

It was the black pepper that didn’t sound right, but who am I to say that grams didn’t use black pepper? I know she didn’t use fresh ginger, but she may have compensated with a much larger amount of ground ginger.

This REALLY is NOT a timid gingerbread. It is EXTREMELY bold and FULL of bold flavor. This is really NOT like most gingerbread that you remember, but is spicy, bold and flavorful. The taste will linger on your tongue and that’s a good thing. This recipe is PERFECT for the holidays, but truly wonderful year round.

OLD FASHIONED GINGERBREAD – YIELDS 10-12 MUFFINS
ADAPTED slightly FROM JANE the HERITAGE COOK
1 cup unsalted butter
½ cup water
¾ cup mild unsulphured molasses (NOT Blackstrap)
¾ cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup  or QUALITY flavorful honey or Agave Nectar (see note)
1 cup PACKED dark brown sugar
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 ½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoon QUALITY ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 LARGE eggs, at room temperature
½ cup WHOLE milk
2 packed tablespoons FRESH peeled and grated ginger

  • Combine the butter, water, molasses, honey and brown sugar in a medium saucepan over low heat stirring frequently until the butter is melted and the ingredients are smoothly incorporated. Remove from the heat and pour into a large aluminum bowl as an aluminum bowl will cool much quicker than those made of other materials.
  • Set aside and cool to lukewarm. If you are in a hurry you can cool down the bowl by placing it in a cool water bath.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Lightly grease a muffin tin and set aside. Bundt and loaf pans also work well with this recipe.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice and cloves.
  • When the molasses mixture has cooled to lukewarm, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Add the milk and stir to combine.
  • With a wooden spoon fold in the dry ingredients gradually. Gingerbread is like brownies, you don’t want to over mix it.
  • Stir in the grated ginger.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes – 1 hour, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when touched and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. If making a bundt or loaf pan bake time will be 1 – 1 1/4 hours. If the top is browning too quickly, tent with a piece of foil.
  • Cool for 10-20 minutes in the pan set on a wire rack, then invert onto the wire rack and cool completely.
  • Store in the refrigerator to keep it fresh. Bring to to room temperature before serving.
  • Serve with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream if desired. A dollop of whipped cream will temper the spiciness a lot.

TIPS & HINTS

  • Lyle’s Golden Syrup has a delicate butterscotch flavor and it allows the other flavors to shine through. It is a byproduct of refining sugar cane and you can use it in place of corn syrup, maple syrup, or honey. A company that follows fair trade practices and has a low carbon footprint, Lyles has created a product to be proud of.
  • There are several types of molasses available on the market and using one over another can drastically change the flavor of your baked goods. Unsulphured molasses is the highest quality, made from sun-ripened sugar cane and is from the first boiling in sugar processing while sulphured molasses is made from unripe sugar cane, treated with sulphur fumes, and is from the second boiling. It has a darker color and stronger flavor. The strongest form is called Blackstrap and is the most bitter. Whenever a recipe calls for a specific type of molasses, the balance will be off if you use a different kind.

On a side note Betty White was a fabulous dancer and while I believe she had a stunt double for parts of the season 3 dance scene that starts around the 5 minute mark in this clip, I do remember hearing that she still danced several hours a day well into her 60’s.

CHRISTMAS OATMEAL COOKIES

This recipe is really versatile!  You can make it like plain old oatmeal cookies or you can roll it our and use cookie cutters at Christmas time, glaze them and decorate with sanding sugar!  Today’s picture is a “June” version.  I’ll try and get a picture next Christmas to add to this post.

CHRISTMAS OATMEAL COOKIES
1 cup butter, softened
1 LARGE egg
1 teaspoon QUALITY vanilla extract
2 1/4 quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup small chopped walnuts’
3/4 cup PACKED brown sugar
1/2 cup FINE sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and oats.
  • Beat together the butter, sugar and egg until fluffy.
  • Add vanilla.
  • Gradually add the sifted dry mixture into the egg mixture, blending well.
  • Add nuts and chocolate chips.
  • Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.
  • Bake 10-11 minutes.
  • Cool.

MAGIC LEMON COBBLER

MAGIC LEMON (insert favorite flavor here) COBBLER

Magic Cobbler is so fun and super easy to make. A tender buttermilk cobbler with sweet and tart lemon pie filling–this dessert is so fresh and perfect with a big dollop of ice cream or whipped cream. 

½ cup 1 stick butter
1 cup flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
21 ounce can lemon (or flavor of choice) pie filling

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Place the stick of butter in a 9×9-inch square baking dish and place it in the oven to melt for 5 minutes until fully melted.
  • Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.
  • Add the sugar and whisk to combine.
  • Pour in the buttermilk, vanilla extract, and lemon extract and whisk just until combined.
  • Pour the batter evenly over the COOLED melted butter in the pan (do not stir).
  • Spoon the pie filling over the batter. If the butter is too hot it will bake the edges too fast and create a chewy edge!
  • Bake for 45-55 minutes until the edges of the cobbler are golden brown and the center is set.
  • Cool slightly before serving.


EPIPHANY – KING CAKE for MARDI GRAS

Mardi Gras 2022 falls on Tuesday, March 1st this year and is also known as Fat Tuesday, the last day of the Carnival season as it always falls the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Fat Tuesday is EXACTLY what it sounds like – time to party and EAT! 
Carnival runs from Epiphany, the 12th night, January 6 through March 1, 2022 so I thought this would be a good time to re-run this recipe for Mardis Gras King Cake.  I threw in some history for you also since King Cake isn’t just for Mardi Gras though that is what it is most famous for these days.
I often make this cake without the Mardi Gras colors, but using traditional Christmas colors.

A king cake (sometimes rendered as kingcake, kings’ cake, king’s cake, or three kings cake) is a type of cake associated with the festival of Epiphany in the Christmas season in a number of countries, and in other places with Mardi Gras and Carnival.

The “king cake” takes its name from the biblical three kings. Catholic tradition states that their journey to Bethlehem took twelve days (the Twelve Days of Christmas), and that they arrived to honor the Christ Child on Epiphany. The season for king cake extends from the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Twelfth Night and Epiphany Day), through to Mardi Gras day. Some organizations or groups of friends may have “king cake parties” every week through the Carnival season.

Related culinary traditions are the tortell of Catalonia, the gâteau des Rois in Provence or the galette des Rois in the northern half of France, and the Greek and Cypriot vasilopita. The galette des Rois is made with puff pastry and frangipane (while the gâteau des Rois is made with brioche and candied fruits). A little bean was traditionally hidden in it, a custom taken from the Saturnalia in the Roman Empire: the one who stumbled upon the bean was called “king of the feast.” In the galette des Rois, since 1870 the beans have been replaced first by porcelain and, now by plastic figurines; while the gâteau des Rois Also known as “Rosca de Reyes” in Mexico.

In the southern United States, the tradition was brought to the area by colonists from France and Spain and it is associated with Carnival, which is celebrated in the Gulf Coast region, centered on New Orleans, but ranging from the Florida Panhandle to East Texas. King cake parties in New Orleans are documented back to the eighteenth century. The king cake of the New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition comes in a number of styles. The most simple, said to be the most traditional, is a ring of twisted bread similar to that used in brioche topped with icing or sugar, usually colored purple, green, and gold (the traditional Carnival colors) with food coloring. Cajun king cakes are traditionally deep-fat-fried as a doughnut would be, and there are many variants, some with a filling, the most common being cream cheese and praline. It has become customary in the New Orleans culture that whoever finds the trinket must provide the next king cake or host the next Mardi Gras party.

Some say that French settlers brought the custom to Louisiana in the 18th century where it remained associated with the Epiphany until the 19th century when it became a more elaborate Mardi Gras custom. In New Orleans, the first cake of the season is served on January 6. A small ceramic figurine of a baby is hidden inside the cake, by tradition. However now, the tradition is giving way to the baby being supplied and the customer placing the baby were ever they wish in the cake. Whoever finds the baby is allowed to choose a mock court and host the next King Cake party the following week (weekly cake parties were held until Mardi Gras).

The classic king cake is oval-shaped, like the pattern of a racetrack. The dough is basic coffee-cake dough, sometimes laced with cinnamon, sometimes just plain. The dough is rolled out into a long tubular shape (not unlike a thin po-boy), then shaped into an oval. The ends are twisted together to complete the shape  (HINT: if you want to find the piece with the baby, look for the twist in the oval where the two ends of the dough meet. That’s where the baby is usually inserted.) The baby hidden in the cake speaks to the fact that the three Kings had a difficult time finding the Christ Child and of the fine gifts they brought.

The cake is then baked, and decorated when it comes out. The classic decoration is simple granulated sugar, colored purple, green, and gold for the colors of Carnival. King cakes have gotten more and more fancy over the years, so now bakeries offer iced versions where there’s classic white coffee cake glaze on the cake before it’s decorated, and even king cakes filled with apple, cherry, cream cheese, or other kinds of coffee-cake fillings.

King cakes are available at bakeries all over South Louisiana, but only after January 6 through Mardi Gras Day.

Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday” referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which starts on Ash Wednesday. Popular practices also include wearing masks and costumes, overturning most social conventions, dancing, sports competitions, parades and such. Similar expressions to Mardi Gras appear in other European languages sharing the Christian tradition. In English, the day is called Shrove Tuesday, associated with the religious requirement for confession before Lent begins.

This is my version of this yummy yeast bread/cake.

MARDI GRAS KING CAKE (makes 2 cakes)

PASTRY
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

FILLING
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup melted butter

FROSTING/GLAZE
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon water

  • Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of the butter.  Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
  • In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  • When yeast mixture is bubbly, add the cooled milk mixture.
  • Whisk in the eggs.
  • Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg.
  • Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil.
  • Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
  • When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with SILPATS or parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins.
  • Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.
  • Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10×16 inches).
  • Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side.
  • Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings.
  • Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet.
  • With sharp knife make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  • Push the doll into the bottom of the cake.
  • Decorate with beads.
  • Frost while warm with the glaze.

SHORTBREAD TOFFEE

SHORTBREAD TOFFEE

Buttery almond shortbread with a layer of gooey caramel and a thick layer of chocolate – who could say no to a piece?

1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup finely chopped, toasted slivered almonds
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
2 Giant Hershey Bars
3/4 cup chopped honey roasted peanuts
1/3 cup chopped almonds, pecans or pistachios
2/3 cup broken stick pretzels

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang all long sides.
  • Lightly grease foil.

  • Beat powdered sugar and 3/4 cup butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Reduce mixer speed to low and add almonds, flour, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt just until combined.
  • Press on bottom of prepared pan.
  • Bake until golden brown, 25 to 28 minutes.
  • Cool on a wire rack 30 minutes or so.
  • Melt chocolate in microwave for 1 minute, stir and melt 10 more seconds at a time until smooth.
  • Immediately spread chocolate on top of the shortbread layer and spread even with an offset spatula.
  • Immediately sprinkle with nuts and pretzels, pressing down slightly.
  • Cool in fridge 15 minutes.
  • Slice and serve.

NONA’S TOFFEE BARS

This recipe came from my niece’s, mother’s mother who I never met. This recipe was also written so simplistically that it left a lot to the imagination! I made it as written (with interpretation) the first time. The next time I wrote out new directions and adapted the ingredients to our liking.

NONA’S TOFFEE BARS (as written)
1 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1 egg yolk
2 c. flour
1 Giant Hershey Bar
– Nuts as topping

  • Spread on cookie sheet – cook – cool – melt bar and spread on bars – cover w/ nuts – slice

NONA’S TOFFEE BARS (adjusted)
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon PURE vanilla
1 LARGE egg yolk
2 cups flour, leveled
1 Giant + 1 regular size Hershey Bar
1/2 cup chopped honey roasted peanuts
1/2 cup chopped almonds or pecans
1/3 cup broken stick pretzels

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Melt butter in large skillet.
  • Add brown sugar and whisk until dissolved.
  • Add egg yolk and vanilla, blending well.
  • Gradually add flour until well blended.
  • Using an offset spatula spread mixture onto a small cookie sheet.
  • Bake 15 minutes.
  • Cool.
  • Melt chocolate in microwave for 1 minute, stir and melt 10 more seconds at a time until smooth.
  • Immediately spread chocolate on top of the toffee layer and spread even with an offset spatula.
  • Immediately sprinkle with nuts and pretzels, pressing down slightly.
  • Cool in fridge another 15 minutes.
  • Slice and serve.

NOTE: I ALSO like to use the shortbread bottom from the Millionaire Shortbread combined with the toppings from this recipe and I call it Shortbread Toffee. I’ll be posting that combination soon.

MILLIONAIRE SHORTBREAD

MILLIONAIRE SHORTBREAD
Buttery almond shortbread with a layer of gooey caramel and a thick layer of chocolate – who could say no to a piece?

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1/2 cup finely chopped, toasted slivered almonds
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk** (see note)
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup QUALITY, PURE honey
3/4 cup heavy cream, divided ½ + ¼
2 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces semi sweet chocolate, chopped
Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon), for garnish 


  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang all long sides.
  • Lightly grease foil.
Beat powdered sugar and 3/4 cup butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Reduce mixer speed to low and add almonds, flour, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt just until combined.
  • Press on bottom of prepared pan.
  • Bake until golden brown, 25 to 28 minutes.
  • Cool on a wire rack.

  • Combine condensed milk, brown sugar, honey, 1/2 cup cream, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup butter in a medium saucepan.
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly 24-26 minutes, until a candy thermometer reaches 236°F.
  • Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.
  • Immediately pour caramel over shortbread.
  • Let stand at room temperature until set, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  • Microwave chocolate and remaining 1/4 cup cream in a bowl 30 seconds; stir.
  • Continue to microwave and stir in 10-second intervals until melted.
  • Pour melted chocolate over caramel and spread with an offset spatula.
  • Sprinkle with sea salt.
  • Freeze 15-20 minutes until set.
  • Use foil overhangs to lift bars from pan.
  • Cut into squares.
  • Store, refrigerated, in an airtight container up to 1 week.

**NOTE: Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk now comes in an easy to use squeeze bottle, but it’s difficult to get it all out no matter what you do. Squeeze out as much as you can and then funnel your heavy cream into the bottle and shake extremely well. This will help remove the remaining sweetened condensed milk easily.

TRIED & TRUE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

TRIED & TRUE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES Yields 36 cookies

This is TRULY the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever that turns out perfectly EVERY single time! I have been making this recipe for many, many years and it is always a winner!

1 cup SALTED butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup PACKED light brown sugar
2 teaspoons PURE vanilla extract
1 teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon

2 LARGE eggs
2 ¾ – 3 cups all purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups QUALITY chocolate chips (mini chips or chunks, or even chopped chocolate flavor of choice)

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Line a baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium size bowl mix flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder. Set aside.

  • Cream together the butter and sugars until combined.
  • Beat in eggs and vanilla until fluffy.
  • Mix in the dry ingredients until combined.
  • Add chocolate chips and mix well.
 Roll the dough 2 tablespoons at a time into balls and place them evenly spaced on your prepared cookie sheets.
  • Bake in preheated oven for approximately 8-10 minutes. Take them out when they are just BARELY starting to turn brown. DO NOT OVER BAKE!! When you remove the cookies from the oven they will still look doughy. This is the secret that makes these cookies the best cookie you ever ate!
  • Let them sit on the baking pan for 2-5 minutes before removing to cooling rack.
  • Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. 

NOTE:

  • I only use pure, fine sea salt. Sea salt is different than table salt (that is iodized), so if you use salt other than sea salt I recommend testing the recipe first with ½ teaspoon and then adjust to your taste.
  • The size of your eggs can affect the texture and consistency. The dough should NOT be wet or sticky BUT DEFINITELY NOT dry or crumbly either. Add/delete a bit of flour as necessary.
  • For Christmas I change the recipe a bit by substituting 1/4 cup of cocoa for flour and add ½ tablespoon of red food coloring to make them a red velvet version.
  • You can also change up the flavor of the chips… butterscotch, caramel, peanut butter… or add nuts if you like.

FREEZE FOR FUTURE USE
Portion dough, roll into balls and freeze in a single layer in an airtight container for up to 2 months. 

MELT IN YOUR MOUTH BANANA BREAD

I’ve been making this moist and flavorful banana bread, or at least my version of it since college. I found the original recipe in the Village Voice and adapted it to my liking 😀 It’s been in our family cookbook and a friend uses it for her family holidays and when making boxes to send to the troops overseas. I gave her a copy of the family cookbook and she loved it. When she posted that on Facebook, it melted my heart to see her copy of the recipe all banana bread splattered and well used!

MELT IN YOUR MOUTH BANANA BREAD or SNACK CAKE
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, DIVIDED
2 JUMBO eggs
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 cup golden raisins, currants or craisins
1/4 cup coconut flavored rum

1/2 cup crushed walnuts
2 LARGE, RIPE bananas
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • Place the raisins in a small bowl and cover with rum. Set aside to soak for 10 minutes and then drain WELL.
  • Combine 1 stick of the butter, brown sugar and bananas in a sauce pan cooking until smooth and sugar is dissolved.
  • Add nuts and raisins.
  • Stir until well coated & set aside to cool.
  • Cream softened butter, sugar and eggs until fluffy.
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
  • Add this to the creamed mixture gradually until well blended.
  • Add cooled banana mixture.
  • Pour into greased and floured pan(s)*
  • Bake at 350° for 45+ minutes.

*NOTE:* This recipe will make 2 large loaves or 1 snack cake or 18 muffins…

FROSTING (optional) – use this if you want to turn it into a snack cake.
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
juice of 1 SMALL lemon
1 teaspoons PURE vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

  • In a medium bowl beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  • Add lemon juice and vanilla. Beat until blended.
  • Add powdered sugar gradually until well blended and smooth.
  • Refrigerate 1 hour to set icing before serving.

WHIPPED SHORTBREAD COOKIES

WHIPPED SHORTBREAD COOKIES adapted from Kitchen Fun with My Three Sons  Servings 8 cookies

Light, buttery and sweet little cookies are the perfect treat with some hot cocoa. They also make the perfect cookie to fill a tin for a homemade gift or to add to a cookie exchange or neighbor plate of goodies. Using a cookie cutter can add a great holiday touch.

6 tablespoons butter softened
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Icing, optiona

  • Cream the butter and powdered sugar together for at least 4 minutes.

  • Sift together the flour and cornstarch.

  • Add the flour and cornstarch just until combined.
  • Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and chill the dough for AT LEAST 2 hours in the refrigerator. 
  • Preheat the oven to 300°.
  • Cut the ball of dough into 8 pieces and roll each into a ball.
  • With a fork dipped in cornstarch (to prevent the dough from sticking to the dough), press on the top of each cookie dough ball then top with sprinkles.
  • Place the cookies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake the cookies for 18-19 minutes, just until the cookies are set and light golden brown on the bottom.
  • Cool the cookies on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire cooling rack.
  • Once cooled, you can do a light coating of icing if desired.


GRAN’S APPLE CAKE

Today would have been my dad’s birthday. In his honor I bake a cake each year. This year I chose this yummy apple cake because this is the perfect season for a spiced apple and sweet glazed simple apple cake that fits like your favorite sweater or boots. It also makes the perfect dessert for any fall gathering, church supper or just plain old comfort food for brunch that is sure to bring a smile to everyone’s face. A little spicy and a little sweet, but seriously comforting each and every bite.

GRAN’S APPLE CAKE

CAKE
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons apple pie spice
1 1/2 cups avocado oil
2 cups sugar
3 LARGE eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons PURE vanilla extract
1 teaspoon FRESH lemon juice
3 medium apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 cup shredded coconut, (optional)
1 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup rum

  • Preheat oven to 300°.
  • In a small bowl pour rum over raisin and set aside.
  • Spray bottom of a 10 inch spring form pan with non-stick cooking spray. I like my square shaped spring form pan.
  • Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and apple pie spice. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat oil, sugar and eggs until pale and slightly thick, about 2 minutes.
  • Beat in vanilla and lemon juice.
  • Add dry ingredients; stirring just until moistened.
  • Drain raisins well.
  • Fold in apples, raisins, walnuts and coconut if using (batter will be thick).
  • Transfer to prepared pan.
  • Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 55- 60 minutes.
  • Cool cake in pan on rack.

GLAZE
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons FRESH lemon juice

  • Whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice until well blended and smooth.
  • Drizzle over cake.
  • ENJOY!

NOTE: Japanese pears or crisp red pears work really nice in this cake also.