RED VELVET ALMOND CAKE

RED VELVET CAKE/CUPCAKES with ALMOND CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
CAKES
2 cups cake flour
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons almond flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup avocado oil
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
scant 2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 fluid ounce red food coloring
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 1/4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • Preheat the oven to 350.
  • Line 2-9 inch rounds with parchment paper or 2 muffin pans with 24 cupcake liners.
  • Sift together the flours, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder in a medium bowl.
  • In the bowl of a mixer blend the avocado oil, buttermilk, sugar, eggs, food coloring, applesauce, vinegar, and vanilla on medium speed until incorporated, about 2 minutes.
  • Turn the mixer to medium-low speed, and add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Mix until JUST combined.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans or fill the cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 minutes.
  • Cool the cupcakes completely.
  • Generously frost the top of each cupcake with the Almond Cream Cheese Frosting.

ALMOND CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3 – 8  ounce cream cheese packages, at room temperature
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 1/2 teaspoons PURE vanilla extract
2 teaspoons almond extract

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the butter and cream cheese on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  • Turn the mixer on medium-low, and slowly add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and almond extract. Once the ingredients are all incorporated, turn the mixer to high, and beat for 1 additional minute.

GOLDEN GATE BARS

These decadent bars are so scrumptious! With a wonderful buttery shortbread crust bottom and silky smooth ganache icing on top, the caramel and brownie sandwiched in between finish it off perfectly.

GOLDEN GATE BARS – makes 12 bars

SHORTBREAD
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar

  • Stir together butter, flour, and powdered sugar until well blended.
  • Press into prepared pan.
  • Bake crust 5 minutes.
  • Place unopened caramel pouch in cup of hot water for 5 minutes to soften caramel.
  • Gently spread entire contents of caramel pouch evenly over baked crust.

BROWNIES
1 package Ghirardelli Salted Caramel Brownie Mix
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg

  • Preheat oven to 325°.
  • Lightly grease 9 x 9-inch baking pan.
  • Place water, oil and egg in medium bowl and whisk until blended well.
  • Add brownie mix and stir until well blended.
  • Spread batter evenly over caramel layer.
  • Bake 40 minutes.
  • Cool brownies completely before topping with ganache.

GANACHE
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
sea salt, optional

  • In microwave-safe bowl, microwave cream on high power just until boiling.
  • Add chocolate and stir until chips are completely melted.
  • Pour warm ganache over cooled brownies and let set before cutting.
  • Garnish with a sprinkle of sea salt, if desired.

POMEGRANATE CHESS TART

This tart has crisp crust with a creamy filling topped off with a tangy pomegranate gelatin making it the PERFECT winter/holiday dessert.  WARNING, WARNING, DANGER WILL ROBINSON! 😀  BE forewarned this is A LOT of time consuming work and wait time so be prepared to make it the day before.

POMEGRANATE CHESS TART
CRUST
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup fine yellow cornmeal
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 LARGE egg yolk

  • Whisk together flour, cornmeal and salt.
  • In a separate bowl beat butter and cream cheese until well blended and creamy.
  • Add egg yolk, beating JUST until combined.
  • Add flour mixture, beating on low until dough begins to form.
  • Shape into a flat disk, wrap in saran and chill at LEAST 2 hours.

 

  • Remove dough from refrigerator and let set at room temperature for 30 minutes or until soft to the touch.
  • Unwrap and roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-13 inch circle.
  • Fit dough into a 10 inch DEEP tart pan with a removable bottom.
  • Press into pan and fold over edges.
  • Prick bottom of dough with a fork.
  • Chill 30 minutes until firm.

 

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line dough with parchment paper and fill with pie weights.
  • Bake 15 minutes or until golden along the edges.
  • Remove pie weights and parchment paper.
  • Return to oven and bake 8-10 minutes more until bottom is set.
  • Transfer to a cooling rack and cool COMPLETELY for 30 minutes.

FILLING
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon WONDRA flour
1 tablespoon fine yellow cornmeal
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup WHOLE buttermilk
1 tablespoon orange zest
3 tablespoons orange juice (1 orange)
2 tablespoons lemon juice (1 LARGE lemon)
3 LARGE eggs, beaten

  • Reduce oven to 325°.
  • Whisk together the sugar, cornmeal, flour, buttermilk, orange juice, lemon juice, orange zest and melted butter until well blended.
  • Add eggs, whisking until smooth.
  • Pour into prepared tart crust.
  • Bake on lowest shelf 35-40 minutes golden AND set.
  • Cool COMPLETELY for 2 hours.
  • Chill until COLD, about 2 hours.

GELEE’
1 ¼ cup FRESH pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons sugar
2 ½ teaspoons (2-¼ ounce envelopes) KNOX unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier (orange liqueur)
²⁄³ cup pomegranate seeds, for garnish

  • In a medium saucepan combine the pomegranate juice and sugar, whisking until sugar is dissolved.
  • Whisk gelatin into the mixture quickly and let stand 5 minutes.
  • Cook over medium heat, about 5 minutes, JUST until mixture is steaming and gelatin completely dissolves.
  • Remove from heat and cool 20 minutes.
  • Skim off any foam and whisk in liqueur.
  • Strain through a fine mesh sieve.

ASSEMBLY

  • Remove tart from the refrigerator.
  • Gently pour pomegranate gelatin over chilled tart to just under tart edge. DO NOT OVERFILL! Depending on the depth of your tart pan you will probably have a bit extra.
  • Return to refrigerator and chill 1 more hour.
  • Sprinkle with seeds just before serving.

CIDER GLAZED CHRISTMAS CAKES

CIDER GLAZED CHRISTMAS CAKES
CAKES
¾ cup golden raisins
¾ cup dried cranberries or tart dried cherries
¾ cup candied pineapple
½ cup apple cider
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon fine salt
²⁄³ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
²⁄³ cup whole milk

  • In a small bowl combine the raisin, cranberries (or cherries) and pineapple pieces.
  • Toss with apple cider.
  • Let stand 1 hour.

 

  • Drain fruit, reserving liquid for making your cider drizzle and reserve 2 tablespoons of fruit to chop as garnish.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line muffin tins with papers or spray well with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

 

  • In a large mixing bowl beat butter on medium speed until smooth.
  • Add sugar, beating until fluffy.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Add flour mixture and milk, alternately, beating well after each addition.
  • Fold in drained fruit.
  • Scoop 3 tablespoons of batter into tins.
  • Bake 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.
  • Spoon a small amount of drizzle over each cake.
  • Garnish with a bit of chopped dried fruit.

CIDER DRIZZLE
Reserved soaking liquid + enough water to equal 1 cup
2 tablespoons coconut pineapple vinegar (apple cider vinegar works also)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

  • Whisk together, cook and stir until thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes.
  • Cool 10 minutes before spooning over cakes.

NOTE: Bourbon or Whiskey can be substituted for apple cider.

ALTERNATE DRIZZLE
1/3 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup apple cider

  • Whisk together until smooth.
  • Glaze cupcakes

CINNAMON BUN CUPCAKES

CINNAMON BUN CUPCAKES
CUPCAKES
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 LARGE eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons PURE vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream

  • Pre-heat oven to 350°.
  • Line cupcake tins with papers.
  • Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. Set aside.
  • Whisk eggs for about 1 minute. They will become frothy and lightened in color.
  • Add oil and whisk again until combined.
  • Add sugar and whisk for about 1 minute.
  • Add vanilla extract.
  • Add sour cream to the batter, whisking until combined
  • Now add the sifted dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk gently. Whisk batter until JUST until combined. DO NOT OVERMIX!

CINNAMON SWIRL
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons white sugar

  • Make the Cinnamon Swirl: mix 1 1/2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of white sugar. Set aside.

ASSEMBLY

  • Now start by pouring about 1 heaping tablespoon of the batter on the bottom of each cupcake tin.
  • Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the Cinnamon Swirl mixture.
  • Top with another heaping tablespoon of batter.
  • Now, sprinkle another 1/2 teaspoon of Cinnamon Swirl mixture over batter.
  • Top with another heaping tablespoon of batter.
  • Using a toothpick, swirl the batter a few times to create a swirl effect.
  • Top already swirled cupcakes with one final 1/2 teaspoon of the Cinnamon Swirl mixture.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes, checking halfway to rotate pans.
  • Remove from the oven once cupcakes are lightly golden brown and puffed.
  • Cool 10 minutes.

GLAZE
+/- 1 cup powdered sugar sifted
+/- 2 tablespoons milk

  • Mix powdered sugar and milk together.

NOTES:  There are many factors that will affect your glaze consistency.  The brand of sugar you use, whether you use a scale or a measuring cup…  If your glaze is too thin and runny, add more sifted powdered sugar and test for consistency again.  If the glaze is too thick and not spreading, add a very, very small amount (1 teaspoon) of milk at a time, until you achieve your desired consistency.

BANANA UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

I found this recipe for BANANA UPSIDE DOWN CAKE over at TrickNTreat. I love banana in any type of cake, but this recipe takes bananas to a whole other level. The caramel topping is truly the “icing” on the cake!  I added a small amount of cinnamon to help enhance the flavors.

BANANA UPSIDE DOWN CAKE Yield 8 servings

TOPPING
3 small VERY RIPE bananas, cut lengthwise
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup brown sugar

  • Melt butter in a skillet, remove from heat and add brown sugar, stir until sugar is melted.
  • Pour butter mixture onto 8 in pan, arrange banana, cut into 2 lengthwise  on top of sugar mixture.

CAKE
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup milk
2 VERY RIPE bananas mashed
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla
8 tablespoons butter
1 LARGE egg

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray an 8×8 baking dish or a loaf pan with non-stick spray.
  • Sift flour, cinnamon, baking powder and baking powder.
  • Beat butter and sugar until creamy.
  • Add salt, vanilla and egg.
  • Fold  in half of the flour, mixing well.
  • Add mashed banana, milk and remaining flour, stirring until well incorporated.
  • Spoon batter over sliced banana topping and spread evenly.
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean.
  • Cool in pan for 10 minutes.
  • Invert into a serving plate and serve.

NOTE: IF you prefer a different look, the bananas can be cut into chunks or rounds instead of lengthwise. I PREFER a lot of small rounds myself.

While I’m glad I tried this recipe and it was good, I really prefer my regular Banana Nut Bread.

SALTY MILK CHOCOLATE CARAMEL BLONDIES

SALTY MILK CHOCOLATE CARAMEL BLONDIES
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup PACKED brown sugar
1 LARGE egg
2 teaspoons PURE vanilla
1 cup AP flour
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon
4 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup KRAFT caramel balls
¾ cup toast walnut pieces
½ teaspoon flaky sea salt

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper (leave plenty of paper hanging over the edge to use as handles) and then spray with non-stick spray and flour.
  • Whisk together the flour, fine sea salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • In your mixer bowl beat the melted butter and brown sugar on medium until combined.
  • Add vanilla and egg, beating 2 minutes until smooth and creamy.
  • Gradually add flour mixture to the mixer, beating JUST until combined.
  • Fold in the milk chocolate, caramel balls and nut pieces.
  • Spoon batter into pan.
  • Bake 20-22 minutes until lightly browned and BARELY set. Add flaked sea salt after 10 minutes.
  • Let cool 1 hour.
  • Remove from pan and cut into squares.
  • Store in airtight container.

CHOCOLATE PRETZEL PB SQUARES

The beauty of this recipe is that there is NO baking involved!  This is a new favorite recipe that we will be making again and again!  You can cut them any size so they make the perfect addition to any goodie plate.

CHOCOLATE PRETZEL PB SQUARES
2 cups pretzels, crushed into crumbs
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 ¼ cups peanut butter
¾ cup butter, melted
1 ½ cups milk chocolate chips
½ cup Heath bit pieces

  • Spray 13×9 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray!
  • In a large bowl mix together the pretzel crumbs and powdered sugar until well blended.
  • Mix in melted butter and 1 cup of the peanut butter.
  • Press mixture evenly into the bottom of the baking dish.
  • Sprinkle evenly with Heath Bit pieces.
  • In a microwave safe bowl melt combine the remaining peanut butter with the milk chocolate chips. Heat at 30 second intervals, stirring after each until melted and smooth.
  • Spread over the layer in the baking dish.
  • Garnish with Heath bit pieces and broken pretzel bits.
  • Chill at least 1 hour before cutting.
  • Store in airtight container  in the refrigerator.

ROASTED APPLE PIE

ROASTED APPLE PIE
CRUST
3 cups flour, plus dusting
¾ cup COLD unsalted butter, sliced
5 ½ tablespoons COLD crisco
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon FINE sea salt
6-8 tablespoons COLD Vodka or water

  • Pulse together the flour, unsalted butter slices, crisco, sugar and sea salt in food processor until you have a coarse crumble.
  • Gradually add water or vodka 1 tablespoon at a time while pulsing 5-6 times until dough comes together. Divide dough in half, shape into 2 disks, wrap in saran and chill AT LEAST 2 hours.

FILLING
6 medium Granny Smith Apples
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup WONDRA flour
½ cup PACKED brown sugar
1 + 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
¼ teaspoon FRESH grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon FINE sea salt

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Mix together the granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons of the flour and 1 teaspoon of the pumpkin pie.
  • Toss apples in sugar mixture.
  • Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat.
  • Pour apples out onto silicone mat.
  • Bake 30 minutes until tender.
  • Cool 30 minutes.
  • Transfer apples to large mixing bowl.
  • Fold in brown sugar, remaining pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, sea salt and remaining flour.
  • Chill 1 hour.

ASSEMBLY
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into thin slices.
1 LARGE egg
1 tablespoon water

  • Unwrap 1 dough disk and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
  • Roll out a 1/8-1/4 inch thick round.
  • Fit into a lightly greased 9″ pie plate.
  • Repeat with 2nd disk and cut into lattice pieces or shapes, set aside.
  • Spoon filling into pie plate.
  • Dot with butter slices.
  • Arrange top crust or pieces as desired.
  • Chill pie 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Whisk together egg and water.
  • Brush crust with egg wash.
  • Place on lower rack.
  • Bake 1-1 ½ hours. After 30 minutes shield crust edges with foil to prevent burning.
  • Cool on rack 2 hours before serving.

MONKEY MUFFINS

MONKEY BREAD MUFFINS
1 cup toasted walnut pieces
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and divided 6 + 4
1 ¼ pounds Bridgford rolls, thawed
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoons ground cinnamon
²⁄³ cup packed brown sugar
¹⁄³ cup molasses
PINCH sea salt flakes

  • Coat muffin tin holes with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Sprinkle half of the walnut pieces evenly among the muffin tin holes.
  • In a medium bowl toss the rolls in 4 tablespoons of the melted butter.
  • In another bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon. Add the rolls one at a time, tossing in the cinnamon mixture until well coated.
  • Place one roll in each muffin tin.
  • Top evenly with remaining walnut pieces.
  • In a small sauce pan combine the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter, molasses, brown sugar and sea salt.
  • Cook over medium heat, abut 5 minutes, until well blended and bubbly.
  • Remove from heat and cool 10 minutes.
  • Spoon 1 tablespoon over each roll.
  • Cover loosely with saran wrap and chill at least 8 hours.
  • Remove pan from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking and let stand at room temperature.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Place muffin tin on a baking sheet to catch any drips and bake 20 minutes until rolls are puffed and cooked through.
  • Remove from pan and let stand 5 minutes on cooling rack.
  • Line baking sheet with foil.
  • Invert muffin tin and spoon any remaining syrup over muffins and arrange on platter.
  • Best served warm.

BOURBON EGGNOG SUGAR COOKIES

EGGNOG SUGAR COOKIES yields 2 dozen 1 ½ inch cookies
COOKIES
1 1⁄8 cups all purpose flour
¹⁄³ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon FRESHLY grated nutmeg
½ cup unsalted butter, cubed and softened

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line baking sheet with silicone mat.
  • Using your mixer on low speed combine flour, powdered sugar, salt and nutmeg until well blended.
  • Increase speed to medium and add butter 1 piece at a time until dough starts to form into a ball.
  • Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a disc.
  • Wrap in plastic and chill 30 minutes minimum.
  • On a lightly floured surface roll out dough to a 1/8 inch thickness.
  • Cut out cookies with a 2 inch cutter and use a metal spatula to place cookies on silicone sheet.
  • Return any dough scraps to plastic wrap in the refrigerator .
  • Bake 15-18 minutes when edges begin to brown.
  • Completely cool in pans before icing.
  • Repeat the process with the remaining dough.

ICING
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons prepared eggnog
scant 1 tablespoon Bourbon
LEMON and/or ORANGE zest, for garnish

  • Whisk together the sugar, Bourbon and 1 tablespoon of the eggnog at a time, until you have a thin glaze consistency.
  • Spread glaze on cookies.
  • Garnish with zest.
  • Allow icing on cookies to set 30 minutes or until completely set.
  • Store in airtight container.

RASPBERRY or STRAWBERRY PRETZEL DESSERT

RASPBERRY or STRAWBERRY PRETZEL DESSERT
CRUST
2 cups crushed pretzels
3/4 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Combine the pretzels, butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.
  • Press into a 13×9 baking dish.
  • Bake 10 minutes.
  • Cool on wire rack.

FILLING
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla.
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar

  • Beat the heavy cream until you have soft peaks.
  • Add vanilla, cream cheese and sugar beating until smooth.
  • Spread over the pretzel crust.
  • Refrigerate 1 hour until chilled.

TOPPING
6 ounces strawberry Jell-O
2 cups boiling water
32 ounces frozen raspberries or sliced strawberries, thawed

  • Dissolve gelatin in the hot water in a large bowl.
  • Stir in fruit along with water syrup has accumulated during their thawing.
  • Chill until partially set.
  • Spoon over filling and gently spread even.
  • Refrigerate and chill 4-6 hours.
  • Cut into squares.