HOMEMADE SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK

During this isolation time, I’m returning to more and more scratch cooking – even more than I normally do 😀 I wanted to make some of my homemade COWBOY BROWNIES, but they called for sweetened condensed milk and I didn’t have any and was NOT going out to get any so decided to dig out the recipe to make my own.

HOMEMADE SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK – Makes 1 1/4 cups.
This Homemade version of sweetened Condensed Milk recipe makes a super delicious, made from scratch version of sweetened condensed milk for baking. It also makes a GREAT coffee mate or protein drink additive 😀

2 cups WHOLE milk
3/4 cup sugar, honey, or maple syrup (depending on the flavor you’re looking for)
4 tablespoons salted butter, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract

  • Whisk together milk and sugar, honey or syrup in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
  • Whisking often, bring to a low simmer and whisking often, simmer until milk has reduced by half, about 30-45 minutes.
  • Once reduced, remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.
  • Allow to cool COMPLETELY!
  • Store in a mason jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

PLUM SLAB PIE ala VALERIE BERTINELLI

PLUM SLAB PIE ala Valerie Bertinelli yield 12 servings

CRUST
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 sticks (12 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/3 cup cold water, plus more if needed
Cooking spray, for spraying the baking sheet
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 large egg
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

  • Combine the flour, granulated sugar and salt in a food processor and mix until combined.
  • Add the butter and pulse until evenly combined and the size of small pebbles.
  • Pour in the vinegar and pulse 1 to 2 times until just combined.
  • With the food processor running, slowly pour in the cold water, adding just enough for the dough to form a ball. You may not need the entire 1/3 cup of water.
  • Remove the dough from the food processor and form it into a ball.
  • Cut off about a third of the ball so you have a small piece (about 10 ounces) and a larger piece (about 1 pound 6 ounces; see Cook’s Note).
  • Form both pieces of dough into discs, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Spray a baking sheet very lightly with cooking spray.
  • Dust a work surface lightly with flour.
  • Roll the larger disc of dough into a rectangle that is 2 inches larger on all sides than the baking sheet.
  • Roll the dough onto the rolling pin and then unfold it over the baking sheet, gently guiding the dough into the baking sheet and lightly pressing it into the corners, sides and bottom.
  • Refrigerate while you prepare the rest of the pie.
  • Lightly dust the work surface with flour and roll out the smaller disc of dough into a 20-by-12-inch rectangle.
  • Place a ruler along the 12-inch side of the dough and make a mark with a pizza cutter every 1/2 inch. Turn the ruler along each mark and use it as a guide to cut a straight line, making twelve 1/2-inch strips that are 20 inches long.
  • Transfer the strips of dough to a baking sheet, laying them diagonally so they fit and dusting the strips with flour as you lay them down.
  • Refrigerate while you make the filling so the dough does not begin to stick together.

FILLING
6 pounds red plums, cut in 1/4-inch half-moon slices
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 teaspoons orange zest plus 1/3 cup fresh orange juice (about 1 small navel orange)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • In a large bowl, mix together the plums, granulated sugar, cornstarch, almond extract, orange zest and juice, cinnamon, ginger and salt, making sure the plums are evenly coated.
  • Let sit no more than 5 minutes.

ASSEMBLY

  • Evenly spread the filling over the crust on the baking sheet.
  • Lay one of the dough strips diagonally across the baking sheet from one corner to the other.
  • Repeat laying strips parallel to the first piece evenly across the rest of the pie. You can cut strips down to size as you work your way towards the end of the pie, making sure to leave a bit of overhang on both sides.
  • Take every other strip of dough and fold it back over itself so that it exposes a little more than half of the filling. Lay a long strip of dough in the opposite direction, going diagonally from one corner to the other. Fold the dough strips back down and you will begin to see a lattice form. Fold back every other strip of dough that you didn’t fold back before, and then lay another strip of dough diagonally across the pie, working towards a corner. Continue this process until half the pie has a lattice top. Then rotate the pan and repeat the same process on the other side to finish the lattice.
  • Fold the dough hanging over the sides of the pie up and over the edge, tucking the ends of the strips from the lattice top inside. This will ensure the strips of dough stay anchored to the edges of the pie.
  • Crimp the edges of the dough using your pointer fingers and thumb to pinch the dough together.
  • Whisk together the heavy cream and egg and brush evenly over the lattice top and edges of the pie.
  • Sprinkle the entire pie with turbinado sugar and bake until the crust is a deep golden brown and bubbles form towards the middle of the pie, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  • Let cool completely, at least 40 minutes.

COOK’S NOTES

  • I have made this many times and it translates into other flavor profiles EXTREMELY well.  My personal favorite is peach, but I also love it made as cherry!
  • The weights for dividing the dough are approximations!  The weights are totally dependent on several factors – your climate (rain really affects the outcome) as well as how much water you add to the dough. The most important thing is to remember is to divide the dough so you have 1 piece that is twice the size as the other piece of dough.

BANANA CREAM CHEESECAKE

BANANA CREAM CHEESECAKE

CRUST
20 lemon or vanilla cream-filled sandwich style cookies I usually use OREO
2-3 tablespoons butter, melted

  • Finely crush cookies in food processor.
  • Add melted butter, blending until well combined.
  • Press mixture into the bottom of a 10″ springform pan and smooth it out.
  • Refrigerate the crust while you make the filling.

FILLING
3 blocks (24 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup FINE sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

3 LARGE eggs
3/4 cup – 2 VERY ripe bananas mashed
1/2 cup whipping cream

2 teaspoons PURE vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Wrap spring form pan with a double layer of foil and place in a deep baking dish or roaster.
  • Beat cream cheese with electric mixer until creamy.
  • Add sugar and cornstarch, blending well.
  • Add eggs one at a time, blending until incorporated before adding additional eggs.
  • Beat in bananas until well blended.
  • Add whipping cream and vanilla, blending until smooth.
  • Pour mixture into crust.
  • Fill roasting pan with hot water halfway up the side of the spring form pan.
  • Bake 15 minutes.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 300°.
  • Bake an additional 60-75 minutes, or until center is almost set.
  • Allow to cool COMPLETELY on cooling rack.
  • Before removing the pan ring, slide a knife around the edge of the cake to separate the cake from the pan cleanly.
  • Refrigerate cheesecake, uncovered, at least 6 hours.

ASSEMBLY
FRESH whipped cream
Caramel Sauce
Fudge sauce
FRESH sliced banana

  • Serve with FRESH whipped cream, caramel sauce, fudge sauce and FRESH sliced bananas.

CARAMEL SAUCE 
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3/4 cup sugar
2+ tablespoons water

  • Combine the cream and butter in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.
  • Remove from the heat.
  • In a medium saucepan cook the corn syrup over a medium heat until bubbly.
  • Fold in 1/4 cup of the sugar and continue to cook until the edges begin to turn a light amber color.
  • Add in 1/4 cup sugar more and repeat until all the sugar is blended in.
  • Continue cooking until amber color darkens stirring constantly.
  • Remove from the heat and carefully fold in the cream mixture.
  • Cook over medium heat stirring frequently until caramel is bubbling.
  • Serve warm.
  • Makes 1 1/2 cups.

NOTE: Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Microwave 20-30 seconds to soften before serving.

MOCHA HOT FUDGE SAUCE
1/3 cup warm water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
scant 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted & cooled
3 tablespoons strong brewed coffee
2 tablespoons golden rum

  • In a medium saucepan blend together the water, corn syrup dissolving the sugar and cocoa into it until smooth.
  • Bring to a low boil.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in the chocolate until smooth.
  • Gradually add the coffee and rum until desired flavor and consistency is reached.
  • Serve warm.

NOTE: Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Microwave 20-30 seconds to soften before serving.

MRS. GIBSON’S CHOCOLATE CHEWS

One of the things I look for when we’re antiquing is old recipe boxes. Not just any old recipe boxes, but old recipe boxes FULL of handwritten recipes. This recipe came from one of those boxes. I have no idea who owned the box, just that MANY of their recipe’s were in the same handwriting and referenced Mrs. Gibson who must have been an excellent cook based on the recipes I’ve tried so far!  This recipe has the added bonus of being a no bake recipe.

MRS. GIBSON’S CHOCOLATE CHEWS yields 24 cookies
1/2 cup (whole)* milk
2 1 cup sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup – 8 tablespoons) butter
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon PURE* vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups quick oatmeal
1/2 cup FINELY chopped walnuts

  • In a large saucepan melt the butter.
  • Whisk in the milk and vanilla.
  • Stir in the sugar and cocoa until dissolved and bring to a SLOW boil.
  • Remove from heat and let cool 2 minutes.
  • In a large bowl sift together the oatmeal and nuts.
  • Pour the cocoa mixture over the oatmeal and nuts.
  • Use 2 spatulas (see note) to mix it all together until well coated. (see notes)
  • With your hands (see note) form into balls and cool on wax paper. (see notes)

NOTE:

  • Based on the age of the recipe card and style of writing I decided whole milk and PURE vanilla extract were a MUST for the texture and flavor of this recipe to be best.
  • I spray the spatulas with non-stick cooking spray to keep the mixture from sticking.  I use food grade rubber gloves also sprayed with non-stick cooking spray to form the balls with. BUT, the best thing I finally started doing was using a cookie scoop sprayed with non stick spray to make the cookies more even.

APPLE PIE CAKE

This was a Bobby Flay French toast recipe, but with a few changes, it’s now a cake!  You could still call it French toast and serve it for Brunch, but it’s yummy enough for dessert too!

APPLE PIE CAKE majorly altered and formerly known as APPLE CRISP FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE ala Bobby Flay

TOAST
1 loaf day-old sourdough bread, crust removed, cut into 1-inch cubes

  • Preheat the oven to 275 °.
  • Spread the bread cubes on a large baking sheet and bake 20 minutes.
  • Let cool.
  • Adjust the oven to 350°.

APPLES
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple cider, plus more for syrup if needed
Juice of 1 lemon
4 LARGE Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
2 tablespoons Coconut Rum
1/2 cup golden raisins

  • Combine the sugar, apple cider, lemon juice and coconut rum in a large saute pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  • Stir in the apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and caramelized, about 15 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apples to a bowl (you don’t want the apples to be too wet) and let cool 10 minutes.
  • Reserve the apple cooking liquid for serving.
  • Fold in the golden raisins.

STREUSEL
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup crushed walnut pieces

  • While the apples cool mix together the butter, salt and sugar in a large bowl until smooth.
  • Add the flour, oats. crushed nuts and cinnamon and mix until well combined.
  • Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

ASSEMBLY
Softened butter for greasing the baking dish
3 LARGE eggs
2 LARGE egg yolks
1 teaspoon  PURE vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 cups half-and-half
2 tablespoons PURE maple syrup, for apple syrup
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces for syrup

  • Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with some softened butter.
  • Whisk the eggs, yolks, vanilla and cinnamon in a large bowl until smooth.
  • Whisk in the half-and-half, then fold in the cooled apples.
  • Add the bread and stir to coat, pressing down to make sure bread is totally submerged.
  • Let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the apple-bread mixture to the buttered 9×13 baking dish, pressing down to make sure the top is an even layer.
  • Scatter the streusel evenly over the top.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Uncover and continue baking until set, slightly puffed and lightly golden brown, another 30 minutes or so.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
  • Reheat the reserved apple cooking liquid. (If very thin, simmer briefly over medium heat until reduced to a syrup; if there isn’t much, add some apple cider and simmer briefly.)
  • Turn the heat to low and whisk in the maple syrup and cold butter, piece by piece, until emulsified.
  • Pour syrup over each piece as you serve it.

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CHEESECAKE

This recipe is every peanut butter lovers dream! It’s a ROLL YOUR EYES BACK IN YOUR HEAD AND SIGH KIND OF AWESOME! I’ve included 3 choices of ganaches.

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CHEESECAKE

CRUST
15 chocolate graham crackers
3 tablespoons sugar
PINCH sea salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted

  • Butter 9″ spring form pan and wrap bottom and sides of pan in a double layer of aluminum foil.
  • Set rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°.
  • In a food processor grind chocolate graham crackers into VERY fine crumbs.
  • Add sugar and salt, pulsing to combine.
  • Transfer crumbs to a medium bowl, add butter, and use fork or fingers to blend mixture until crumbs are evenly moist.
  • Press into bottom and about a third of the way up the sides of spring form pan.
  • Freeze 10 minutes.
  • Place pan on baking sheet and bake crust for 10 minutes.
  • Set on rack to cool and reduce oven temperature to 325°.
  • Bring tea kettle full of water to a boil.

CHEESECAKE
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoons PURE vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
1 ¼ cups miniature chocolate chips
Reese’s, for garnish

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, beat cream cheese on medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until completely smooth, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add sugar and salt, beating and scraping down bowl as necessary, until smooth and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add vanilla and beat for 30 seconds.
  • Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition until incorporated and occasionally scraping bottom and sides of bowl.
  • Add lemon zest, beating until combined.
  • Add peanut butter, heavy cream, and sour cream and beat on low until completely combined and smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Fold in mini chocolate chips.
  • Pour cheesecake batter into cooled crust and smooth top evenly.
  • Place cheesecake in deep roasting pan and set on middle rack of oven.
  • Carefully pour enough boiling water into roasting pan to come about halfway up sides of spring form pan.
  • Bake cheesecake until top is just starting to brown and crack, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  • Turn off oven, prop door open, and let cheesecake slowly cool in the water bath for 1 hour.
  • Remove roasting pan from oven, carefully lift spring form pan out of water and remove foil.
  • Set on cooling rack and cool to room temperature.
  • Once COMPLETELY cool, loosely cover cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate, AT LEAST 4 hours, or preferably overnight.

CHOCOLATE GANACHE
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (DO NOT USED UNSWEETENED)
3/4 cup heavy cream
PINCH sea salt

  • When ready to serve, carefully remove sides of spring form pan.
  • Place chocolate in a clean, dry medium bowl.
  • In a small saucepan, warm cream until just barely simmering.
  • Pour cream over chocolate and let sit 10 minutes, then add salt and stir until smooth.
  • Pour ganache over cheesecake, spreading it evenly and allowing some to drip down sides of cake.
  • Sprinkle with chopped Reese’s.

CHOCOLATE GANACHE
½ cup heavy cream
1 ½ cups milk chocolate chips, FINELY chopped OR grated

  • When the cake is completely cooled, run a thin knife around the edge and release the ring of spring form pan, then transfer the cake on a serving plate.
  • On a medium heat bring heavy cream to boil.
  • Pour hot cream on top of the chocolate and peanut butter. Cover with a plate for 5 minutes. The heat from the cream mixture will help melt the chocolate in a few minutes.
  • Stir well to combine until smooth.
  • Set aside to cool. The ganache should be pourable, but not too thin.
  • Slowly pour the ganache around the edges and let it drip down the sides.  Let the ganache set slightly then sprinkle with chopped peanuts and pile with coarsely chopped Reese’s.
  • Set in the fridge until ready to serve.

PEANUT BUTTER GANACHE

5 ounces QUALITY dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup CREAMY (NOT chunky OR crunchy) peanut butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Place the chopped chocolate and peanut butter in a bowl and set aside.
  • Heat cream and vanilla on the stove and bring to a simmer for 3 minutes.
  • Pour hot cream on top of the chocolate and peanut butter. Cover with a plate for 5 minutes. The heat from the cream mixture will help melt the chocolate in a few minutes.
  • Stir well to combine until smooth.
  • Slowly pour the ganache around the edges and let it drip down the sides.  Let the ganache set slightly then sprinkle with chopped peanuts and pile with coarsely chopped Reese’s.
  • Set in the fridge until ready to serve.

GARNISH (optional)
Chopped Reese’s cups
Crushed roasted peanuts

NOTES: The quality of your chocolate WILL have a HUGE impact on the flavor of your ganache. ALWAYS use the best quality artisan chocolate for the best flavor. Natural peanut butters are more flavorful, but their gritty texture interferes with the formation of a SMOOTH ganache – use the smoothest textured peanut butter you can find.

PEACH WILD BLUEBERRY PIE

PEACH WILD BLUEBERRY PIE
I LOVE THIS RECIPE! It’s quick, easy and SUPER versatile using simple ingredients and ready in no time at all!

scant 1 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon
1 cup small WILD blueberries**
5 cups FRESH Peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into large chop**

  • In a large saucepan whisk together the water, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch and cook 5-10 minutes over medium-high heat until mixture becomes thick.
 Stir constantly to prevent lumps in your mixture.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add vanilla and cinnamon whisking until smooth.
  • Allow to cool 5 minutes.
  • Fold in peach pieces and blueberries.
  • Allow the filling to cool down completely before filling the pie shell.

NOTES:

  • **You can use canned or frozen fruit though I really don’t recommend it, but if you do use it make sure they are thawed and drained REALLY WELL!
  • Other terrific flavor combinations are:
    Plum and Cherry
    Apricot blueberry
    Peach and Raspberry

KING CAKE FOR MARDI GRAS since I missed posting it for the EPIPHANY

Mardi Gras 2020 falls on Tuesday, February 25, 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!  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 do have to admit I made this cake a few years back when we were living in Texas during Mardi Gras season though since then I have made it for Epiphany without the Mardi Gras colors and 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.

CHERRY ALMOND CREAM CHEESE COBBLER DUMP CAKE

You know me, I prefer to scratch cook 100% of the time. Okay 99% of the time. But this dump cake with the cherry pie filling and buttery cake mix topped with the almonds, pecans or walnuts really makes this a quick, yet flavorful dessert for unexpected company or a church potluck. The addition of the cream cheese makes this is a serious upgrade to your mother’s dump cake of the 90’s. I just haven’t yet converted the cake mix into a scratch version that works as well as the store bought mix.

CHERRY ALMOND CREAM CHEESE COBBLER or DUMP CAKE adapted from Tablespoon Kitchens serves 12

2 – 21 ounce cans COMSTOCK TART cherry (see notes) pie filling
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
8 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 box yellow or white cake mix (both work well, but preferably the moist version)
3/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans, almonds or walnuts
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

  • Heat oven to 350°.
  • LIGHTLY spray a 13×9 baking dish with cooking spray.
  • In medium bowl, mix together the cherry pie filling and almond extract.
  • Spread evenly in the bottom of baking dish.
  • Top evenly with cubed cream cheese pieces.
  • Sprinkle evenly with dry cake mix.
  • Evenly pour melted butter over cake mix, covering as much and as evenly as possible.
  • Sprinkle with chopped almonds or chopped walnuts.
  • Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until top of cake is golden brown and bubbling on edges.
  • Cool 15 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving.

NOTES:

  • With just the two of us,  I measure the cake mix and then save half for another time and halve the other ingredients as well while baking in an 8×8 baking dish.
  • The cherry can also be traded with Peach or Blueberry with excellent results.
  • If you want to go elegant this recipe prepares well in individual ramekins if you want to take the time to measure everything evenly. 😀

HINT OF CHOCOLATE ORANGE BUNDT CAKE

HINT OF CHOCOLATE ORANGE BUNDT CAKE seriously adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, Cook’s Science, America’s Test Kitchen’s Orange Bundt Cake

CAKE
4 LARGE eggs
2 tablespoons FINELY grated orange zest
3/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup Hershey’s cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
18 tablespoons unsalted butter (cut into 18 pieces and softened)

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Adjust rack to middle position.
  • Grease and flour a large bundt pan.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, orange zest, orange juice and vanilla together.
  • Sift and whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda on LOW speed until combined.
  • Add butter one piece at a time until mixture resembles coarse pea sized pieces.
  • Add egg mixture slowly, scraping bowl regularly for about 2 minutes until mixture is light and fluffy.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
  • Bake 45-55 minutes until tester comes out clean.
  • Cool on wire rack for 20 minutes.
  • Remove cake from pan and continue cooling on wire rack.

ORANGE GLAZE
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
Juice of 1 LARGE lemon (about 4 teaspoons)
Pinch of salt

  • Whisk 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, orange juice concentrate, lemon juice and salt together in bowl until smooth.
  • Place wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Brush cake with 1/4 cup of the orange glaze.
  • Let cake stand 1 hour.
  • Whisk remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar with the remaining glaze.
  • Pour evenly over cake.
  • Let cake sit 5-10 minutes while you prepare the ganache.

CHOCOLATE GANACHE DRIZZLE
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

  • Add the chocolate chips to a medium sized bowl and set aside.
  • Add the heavy whipping cream to a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup and heat for about 1 minute, watching it closely so it doesn’t burn or boil over
  • Pour the warm cream over the chocolate chips and allow to sit for 3-5 minutes. I put a plate on top to trap the heat.
  • Gently stir the cream and chocolate together until they come together to a smooth consistency. DO NOT whisk too vigorously to prevent air bubbles in the ganache making it smoother.
  • Drizzle ganache over cake in an alternate pattern to the glaze.

ORANGE SUGAR
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons FINELY GRATED orange zest

  • Using fork mix together the granulated sugar and orange zest.
  • Sprinkle over ganache.

CINNAMON CRUMB APPLE OATMEAL MUFFINS

CINNAMON CRUMB APPLE OATMEAL MUFFINS – yields 22 standard muffins

MUFFINS
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 cup QUICK cooking oats
2 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 ¼ teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon
¼ teaspoon FRESH grated nutmeg
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup butter, melted and cooled
½ cup milk
2 large or 4 small Granny Smith apples chopped SMALL

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, butter and milk.
  • Stir the flour mixture with the liquid mixture.
  • Stir in the apples.
  • Divide batter evenly between 12 muffin cups.

TOPPING
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon Wonderer flour
½ teaspoon QUALITY ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon FRESH grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter

  • Whisk together the sugar, flour and cinnamon.
  • Cut in the butter.
  • Sprinkle on top of the muffins.
  • Bake about 20 minutes or when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Cool in pan 5 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

CHOCOLATE CHIP CANDY COOKIE CUPS

CHOCOLATE CHIP CANDY COOKIE CUPS yields 24 cookie cups
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons PURE vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups mini chocolate chips

  • Combine melted butter, cream cheese, sugars in a mixing bowl until smooth.
  • Add vanilla until well combined.
  • Sift flour and salt into mixture and blend well.
  • Fold in chocolate chips.
  • Roll into small balls.

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • Melt 3/4 cup chocolate chips for 60 seconds in microwave until smooth. If 60 seconds isn’t enough continue to heat in 20 second increments until smooth. DO NOT BURN!
  • Line a cookie tin with cupcake liners.
  • Pour the chocolate evenly into the liners.
  • Add a cookie ball to each liner.
  • Slightly flatten each cookie ball.
  • Top each cookie ball with remaining chocolate.
  • GENTLY shake or bounce pan to even out the chocolate.
  • Chill AT LEAST 1 hour to harden cookie cups.
  • Enjoy!