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Hello, my dear friends
Perhaps some of you might wonder how am I holding up.  Well, one thing I know is that spring, fall, the smell of a rose, or the taste of an apple pie will never be the same.  How can it be, if part of my flesh is not here.  There are moments when the anxiety consumes me and moments which I will give anything to hear his, "Hey, Mom!" To think I won't hear his voice again is unbearable.  I am not mad, bitter, or even ask why.  Our lives revolved around him and now we must learn to live without him.  Is that even possible?  They say time heals; I'll keep you posted on that one.

Tomorrow, I will turn on the oven  to bake a cake for Dr. Michael Geraldi, a doctor who is the pure essence of what every doctor should be. Professional, loving, and caring.  A doctor who could have easily said good bye when Andy turned 18 years old; instead, he said, "As long as Andy feels comfortable with me, I will keep seeing him" and he did. To learn more about Dr. Mike, visit http://possibledream.org/home.php .  I will continue this post tomorrow.  Love you, all.

January 21, 2013, I conclude this posting. Exactly one week later.  I apologize, but I was not in the mood to write, as I am sure you may understand.  I did bake the cake the next morning and my husband delivered it to Dr. Geraldi.  I hope he  and his staff enjoyed it.

This cake smells amazing as everything with apples and cinnamon does.  Give it a try, I am sure you will enjoy it.
Talk to you later, friends.


                                                   Apple Cinnamon Streusel Cake


Ingredients:                                                    Yield: 12 servings (big ones)

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

3 eggs

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

5 medium apples peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract


Streusel 
Ingredients:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped

In medium bowl, mix all ingredients well.
(you will have have streusel left, which you can refrigerate for up to two weeks)  Sprinkle over ice cream, cereal, or unbaked sugar cookies.


Directions:

Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray a ten cup bundt pan with vegetable spray.
Peel and cut apples.  Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time beating after each addition.
In  a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Add to egg mixture and mix until combined.  Stir in apples and vanilla. Scrape batter into bundt pan, sprinkle streusel (about a cup) and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until inserter comes out clean.
Let cool in pan. Invert onto cool rack and invert again.  Streusel should be on top.

Gotta love this cake!







 

  Hello, my dear ones.  What's going on?
Well, I'll tell you what's going on with me.  I've been extremely busy and somewhat stressed out lately. Being the only child can be very stressful, specially when our parents get older and fragile.  As I mentioned in my last post, my mother has been unwell for the last couple of weeks and this situation has added worry and more lines to my already filled agenda.  She is doing better; she is a tough cookie and will recuperate soon.
I don't like to speak about sickness or pain, but this blog is about life, cooking, baking, and happy things, which brings me to today's topic: passion.

The best recipe I can give you is to follow your passion, it is so imperative to do something which you love to do.  Something you can spend time doing without noticing the hours of the clock.  Something which you only do for yourself and makes you feel in your zone.
As you all know, my passion is baking.  Even in my darkest moments, I turn the oven on and it makes me feel better.  I love the chemistry and challenge of baking.  I love to see how the batter turns into a cake; dough turns into a cookie or a flaky pie crust.  One of these days, I know I will burn my nose, because I love to smell my baked goods as they come out of the oven.



                                                                Nutella Cookies



Ingredients:                                               Yield: 2 dozen 3 inch cookies

2 cups flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup Nutella

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup hazelnuts, finely chopped


Directions:

In medium bowl, whisk together first four ingredients.  Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar for five minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Add Nutella and vanilla extract, mix  just until combined.  Add flour mixture, mix until combined.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap; place in refrigerator for 4 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment or wax paper.
Scoop about three tablespoons of dough and form into a ball.  Press hazelnuts into each ball and bake for 15 minutes.  Bake six a a time and let cool on baking sheets.

A tall glass of milk is mandatory.

Enjoy

Courtesy of Cuisine at home






 



Hello, my lovely friends.

What is it about men  and Christmas trees?  Or is it just my husband who wants to purchase the first tree we see?  Absolutely, no patience whatsoever to look around for the perfect tree!  But, do you think I care?  No, Siree!  We got a beautiful tree! It's up on its base, but no ornaments yet.  Haven't had the time. My mom is a little under the weather, so I've been taking care of her plus everything else.

I wanted to share these amazing strawberry oatmeal bars, they are so good.  Great Christmas treat for neighbors and friends. Great for school snacks.  Great for work.  Great for hiding under your pillow for a midnight snack, yeah.





Ingredients:                                          Yield: Approx. 24 bars

1 1/4 cups flour

1 1/4 cups quick cooking oats

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

3/4 cup butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups strawberry jam or preserves




Directions:
Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl, add butter and vanilla; mix well with wooden spoon until well combined.  Spread half of oatmeal mixture into a 13 x 9 inch pan, press well with a spatula.  Add strawberry preserves evenly with a spatula, top with remaining oatmeal mixture and press lightly.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until lightly golden.
Cut into squares with a pizza cutter.

Enjoy!





 



Hello lovely people!

This is the best banana cake I have ever had.  Since I was experimenting with recipes, I just made it simple and baked it in a 13 x 9 inch pan.  This cake is sooo moist!
The secret lies in making a banana puree.  I  think this is a great cake for a Curious George theme birthday party.



                                                              Banana Cake


Ingredients:                                                        Yield: 12 Servings

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

4 eggs

4 ripe bananas, pureed

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt



Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 13 x 9 inch pan or (2) 9 inch pans with vegetable spray and dust with flour.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine sugar and eggs.  Mix  well.  In a blender, puree bananas and oil.  Add banana puree to egg mixture; mix until well combined, but DO NOT over mix.
Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add  1/2 of flour mixture to egg mixture and mix until combined.  Add rest of flour mixture to egg mixture; combine well.
Pour batter into prepared pan or pans.
If baking in 13 x 9 inch pan, bake for 50 minutes or until inserter comes out clean.
If baking in (2) 9 inch pans, bake for 30 minutes or until inserter comes out clean.
Place on cool rack for 30 minutes. Invert and let rest on cool rack for another 30 minutes.

Note: I made a sugar glaze and added some sliced almonds, but if your little heart desires frosting, I recommend cream cheese frosting. Before frosting, a two layer cake, it's better to wrap cakes with saran wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, that way, it will be easier to frost.

Enjoy!







 



Hello, dear ones!  How are you, today?
I'll like to start by stating my heart goes out to all of those who are suffering the consequence of hurricane Sandy.  Last night I was thinking of all those whose are not sleeping in their own beds, do not have heat to keep them warm, or warm up their children's milk.  I hope all who were affected get back to normal very soon.
Here in Miami we are threatened by hurricanes all the time, so most of us are prepared and insured.  I lived in New Jersey so many years and never experienced anything of that nature.

Lately, I've been baking lots.  You might ask, what does she do with all those goodies?  Well, I share with neighbors, family,  friends, and the community.  There is lots of traffic in my house with my kids,  grandchildren,  also my husband has a very sweet tooth and never gains a pound, GRRRRR.
Today I share the recipe for these Maple Cookies, which are delicious and out of the ordinary.  I do not have a maple leaf cutter, which would have been perfect, but oh well.  I'll also share some of my latest baking and provide the recipes later on.  Have a good day and thank you so much for visiting my site.


                                                      Maple Cookies





These are some of the baked goods I've baked lately
                                            Baby boy baby shower cupcake



Fantastic, divine, delicious strawberry oatmeal bars (recipe coming soon)



                                                 Baby girl baby shower cupcake



                                          Three duckies baby shower cupcake





Scrumptious apple crumb pie, which I used my maple cookie to decorate (recipe coming soon)



This is the most amazing banana cake I've ever tasted, seriously. (recipe coming soon)



                                                   Practicing my giraffe cookies



These cupcakes were made for a Girl Scouts fund raiser.  My granddaughter, Katie is a girl scout.




All these goodies and this is what I TRY TO EAT!  Kidding aside, this grilled peach salad is delicious! (recipe coming soon)


And finally this is the recipe for maple cookies.

Ingredients:    

4 cups flour

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

Note:  My leaf cutter is 3 1/2  inches, this recipe provided approx. 2 dozen cookies ( forgot to count exact amount) :-(

In bowl of electric mixer, mix all ingredients until well blended, scraping bowl with rubber spatula to make sure all is well incorporated.
Place dough in large plastic bag or cover with saran wrap.  Place in freezer for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment or wax paper.
Roll out 1/3 of dough on floured surface and place remaining dough in refrigerator.
Roll out cookies to about 1/8 inch thick and cut with leaf cutter.  You can cut light veins with knife if desire.  (I forgot to do veins)  Place on cookie sheets 1 inch apart.  Repeat with remaining dough.  These leaves grow, as you can observe in my image.
Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Place on wire rack to cool.  Store in plastic container.

Enjoy with tea or milk


   




 





Hello, my dear friends.
Are you in the mood for something sweet and adorable like these little pumpkins?  Actually, these are not made from pumpkin, but sweet potato.  I think you'll enjoy them even if you are not a sweet potato lover.
As you can see, there are many ways to bake this lovely batter:  pound cake, little pumpkins, or muffins.  With one batter, you can bake a pound cake and six little pumpkins filled with cream cheese frosting.  The muffins, I made last year around this time, they are powdered with cinnamon and sugar.  Ahhh, the sweet life.


                                 Sweet Potato Pound Cake & Little Pumpkins


             

                                                          Sweet Potato Muffins


Ingredients:                                  Yield: 1 Bundt - 12 Servings or
                                                                2 Loaves (81/2 - x 4 1/2 inch loaf pans) or
                                                                1 Loaf & six pumpkins

1 package cream cheese 8 oz, softened

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

2 1/2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes

3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed until creamy.  Gradually, add sugar, beating until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time beating after each addition.  Add sweet potatoes, beat well.
In large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder,  baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed.  Stir in vanilla.
Spoon batter into baking pans.
Bake for 60 - 70 minutes is baking in bundt pan or 2 loaves.
               20 minutes for pumpkins.
Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan to wire rack and cool completely.

I purchased my little pumpkins pan at William Sonoma a couple of years ago.  Great quality.
If making little pumpkins with cream cheese icing, here is the recipe.

Cream Cheese Frosting  (small batch)  double if necessary
1 cream cheese 8 ounces, softened

3 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer.  Gradually add confectioners' sugar and salt, beating well until well blended. Stir in vanilla.

Enjoy

This recipe is courtesy of Southern Living









 




Hello, friends:

Women in the United States have a 1 in 8 lifetime risk of getting breast cancer.  This means that for every eight women in the U.S., who live to be 85, one will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime.  This is not an only women disease, it occurs in men too, but not as common.
Getting regular screening tests is the best way to lower risk of dying from this disease.  The earlier it is found, the more treatable it is.  For more information visit Susan G. Komen.
I will never forget a lovely young girl, I met years ago, who at 21 years old,  had a bilateral mastectomy.  Unfortunately, none of us are exempt from this awful disease, so let's go and  get screened, shall we?

This delicious Chocolate Truffle Cake seems a  lot of work, but really isn't, well maybe it is!  You don't even need your electric mixer.  One less mess to clean!




                                                       Chocolate Truffle Cake



Ingredients:                                                    Yield: 16 Servings

2 (8-ounce) packages unsweetened chocolate squares  (I used Baker's)  a total of 16 (1ounce) squares

2 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 2/3 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

3/4 cup heavy cream

8 1ounce squares semisweet chocolate

Instructions:

Grease three 9 inch pans with vegetable spray.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Note:  I always spray pans, place parchment or wax paper on bottom, and spray again.  This way, you will have no problem when inverting cake from pans.

In medium saucepan over low heat, heat 12 squares semisweet chocolate, butter, and 2 1/2 cups water, stirring frequently with wooden spoon, until melted and smooth.  Let cool slightly.

In large bowl, whisk eggs, and vanilla.  Gradually beat in warm chocolate mixture.
To chocolate mixture, add flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.  Continue to whisk until batter is smooth and well blended.

Pour batter into cake pans and bake for 30 minutes, or until inserter comes out clean.  Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes.  Remove from pans and let cool completely on wire racks.

Prepare truffle mixture by heating remaining 4 unsweetened chocolate squares over low heat.  Stir frequently until melted.  Cool slightly.  With spoon, add confectioners' sugar, remaining 6 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup heavy cream.  Stir until well blended.

Prepare glaze by heating 8 semisweet chocolate squares over low heat, add remaining 1/2 cup heavy cream, stirring frequently until melted, smooth and slightly thickened.

To assemble cake:  With metal spatula, spread 1 cake layer with 1/2  cup truffle mixture.  Top with second cake layer, pressing down gently.  Spread with another 1/2 cup truffle mixture; top with third cake layer.

Over assembled cake, pour prepared glaze to completely cover top and sides of cake.

This wonderful cake is courtesy of Good Housekeeping.

Enjoy










 




Fall season has arrived, my favorite of all!
I love pecan pie and Thanksgiving is not the same without it on our table.  This is my favorite recipe, which comes from the back label of Karo Corn Syrup bottle.
Even though, Thanksgiving is two months away, I wanted to open the fall season with my pecan pie.  This is the season of orange, green, and browns. This is the season of sweet potatoes, pumpkin, brown sugar,  and spices.


                                                        Pecan Pie

Ingredients:                                           Yield: 8 Servings

1 unbaked 9 inch deep dish pie crust

1 cup light or dark syrup

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups whole pecans


Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In medium bowl, combine syrup, eggs, sugar, butter, and vanilla until well incorporated.  Stir in pecans and mix well with wooden spoon.  (I like wooden spoons)
Pour syrup mixture into pie crust and bake for 60 minutes or until center springs back when tapped.  Refrigerate at least two hours before serving.


Enjoy


                                     Bananas Foster Upside Down Cake


Ingredients:                                                  Yield: 10 Servings

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature and divided

1 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons rum

2 ripe bananas

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake pecan in a single layer 8-10 minutes until fragrant, stirring only once.
You can do the following process in a skillet or a 9 inch cake pan.  I did mine in a springform pan.

Melt 1/4 cup butter in microwave, about 30 seconds. Pour butter in cake pan, add brown sugar and rum; stir.

Cut bananas diagonally into 1/4 inch thick slices and arrange in concentric circles over brown sugar mixture.  Sprinkle pecans over bananas. Put this mixture aside.

In the bowl of electric mixer, beat sugar and remaining 1/4 cup butter. Add eggs, 1 at a time and beating after each addition.  Add milk, sour cream, and vanilla; beat until well incorporated.

In separate bowl, whisk  flour, baking powder,  baking soda, and cinnamon.  Add flour mixture to egg mixture; beat until well blended.  Batter will a little lumpy.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until inserter comes out clean. Let cool on cooling rack for 10 minutes.  Invert into serving dish.  BEAUTIFUL.

Serve warm with good quality vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy!





 


Happy Labor Weekend to all of you.  I hope you are doing exactly what you want to do and not what you should or others expect you to do.  Take the day and embrace it, doing something you are passionate about, or simply rest, if it's what you desire.
Fall season is around the corner, officially starting on the 22nd of this month.  The fall happens to be my favorite season, because of many reasons: the leaves with their orange red tones, vegetables of the season, the aroma of sugar and spices in my kitchen, and even my state of mind changes a bit.
I greatly miss the four seasons, which is something we do not have the pleasure of having in Miami, but even after so many years of living here, I still live the four seasons the best I can.  The best example I can share is when the temperature hits a dot less than 70 degrees, I wear my suede boots, yes, siree.

I want to share the fact, I have a new camera!  Yes, my first Canon, a lovely gift from my daughter! Just, look at one of my first pictures!



Nice, huh? You can almost savor the cupcake and even count the amount of crystal sugar grains (if you have the time.)  I made these cupcakes for a baby shower, aren't they adorable?

Today, I want to share chocolate bread.  Yes, you read correctly.  It's delicious with strawberry preserves.

                                                       Chocolate Nut Bread



Ingredients:                        Yield: 1 (10 inch) loaf

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted

3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts, toasted

1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1/4 finely chopped almonds, toasted

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole buttermilk

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2  eggs

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks ( if not available, semisweet will do)

Directions:
Note:  It really makes a difference when nuts are toasted, it livens their flavor. You can do this on a large skillet over medium high heat. Turn off when you can smell the aroma.  It only takes a few minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees; spray a 10 inch loaf pan with vegetable oil and flour.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, brown sugar, sugar, baking soda, salt, and baking powder until well combined. Stir in walnuts, pecans, and almonds.
In medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs, yolk, and vanilla.  Slowly, pour buttermilk mixture into flour mixture, stirring to combine.  Add chocolate chunks, stirring well.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until inserter comes out clean.

Serve with fruit preserves, fresh fruit and yogurt or anything else that you might like.

Enjoy






 



Hello, dear friends!
Anyone out there addicted to Pinterest?  Oh, oh, I see a lot of hands!! I woke up today at 5AM, reached for my iPad and browsed through interior decor sites.  By 6AM, I wanted to start moving furniture around, but contained myself, did not want to wake the rest of the family.  But, for sure, since I can't move or buy new furniture at the moment, I'll settle changing  things around.  I am known for changing things around often......
Took a pause writing, a big pause.  Some pieces of furniture from family room and living room have reached new destinations.  Everything looks pretty cool.  Next room, the kitchen!  I have so many things and use all of them often, however, I like to see my granite counters free of appliances; only a vase of fresh cut flowers and a stand with the sweets of the day.  Is that possible with all the  cooking and baking?  I've tried many times to place my Kitchen Aid mixer inside the coverts, but taking it out and back in, is quite a job.
My head is always going, thinking of the next project. I want to do so many things, more than I can physically do, but try my best.  Lately, I am very interested in decorated cookies.  This past weekend, I made some for a baby shower, similar to the ones I made for my daughter's baby shower.  These were individually placed in cello bags sealed with pink/white polka dot labels and pink ribbon.  Love making all these things.  I want to thank my daughter, Anelle for helping me with the printing.
I know the pictures are not the best, but my camera is not working.  Took pics with my iPhone.
Usually, when baking for an event, I take pictures in a hurry, because I am pressed for time, so excuse moi.


                                                            Baby Girl Sugar Cookie




                                                               Labels

                                                         

                                                 


                                               In cello bags, labeled, & sealed with pink bow


I've baked so many cupcakes through the years.  Let me show you some of them.  You know, some of these even have a name.
This one is self explanatory: Chocolate Cookies and Cream Cupcake

                                                           THAT'S AMORE



This one is very special to me because is one the first ones I ever baked; it's even printed on my
business card. So pretty and delicious: Strawberry Cupcake

                                                             Strawberry Fields


This one, dulce leche. I've baked it with different batters,  including the brown sugar cake; needless to say, delicious. These are three versions of the Caramello

                                                                     Caramello



                                                               made for a baby shower





                                        Halloween theme: Chocolate with buttercream icing


                                            Baked for fund raiser at Katie's school


                                                              Alek's first birthday


                                                                 Vanilla Float


                                                               Coconut Breeze

                         
      Lemon cupcake with lemon curd filling and cream cheese icing      

                                                       Lemonade Stand



                             Baptismal Event. Chocolate with buttercream icing and fondant cross



        These were baked for my daughter's baby shower.
                           Pink vanilla  cupcake with creme brûlée buttercream icing and fondant flower


These were baked for Katie's garden theme birthday.
Vanilla with buttercream icing


One of Mr. Guava's favorites: Why? It's a guava cupcake!
                                                            Taste Of The Island


I hope you have enjoyed my cupcake gallery as much as I enjoyed baking them.





 



Hello!
Did you know I always wanted to own a coffee shop?  Yes, one of those which you know everyone's name.  A small and cozy shop, where I would bake fresh goods daily, serve fresh coffee, expresso,  and tea.  Thinking of the idea still makes me smile.
I love to bake,  it's so natural and therapeutic for me; it's highly unusual not to see a sweet treat on my kitchen counter.  This recipe is from Magnolia Bakery in New York.  The cake batter is very good and the frosting is to die for.

                                            Vanilla Cupcakes With Vanilla Buttercream


Ingredients:

Cupcakes                                             Yield: 2 dozen cupcakes

1 1/2 cups self rising flour

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees; prepare 2  tins with cupcake liners.

In a small bowl, combine both flours and set aside.
In a bowl of electric mixer, cream butter at medium speed until smooth, add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time  beating after each addition.  Add dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with milk and vanilla.  With each addition, beat until ingredients are incorporated, but do not over beat. Remember to scrape sides with rubber spatula to make sure all blends well.  Fill liners about 3/4 full.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until inserter comes out clean.
Cool cupcakes in  tins for 15 minutes and transfer to cooling rack before frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream  (make sure to follow instructions well to achieve creamy texture)

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

6-8 cups confectioners' sugar

1/2 cup whole milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place butter in mixing bowl.  Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla.  On medium speed, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes.  Gradually, add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes) until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency.  If using food coloring, add now and mix thoroughly.
Note:  Use and store the icing at room temperature, because it will set if chilled.  Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.







 



Hello, my dear friends.  Usually, I write happy thoughts, but it's been quite a weekend with all the latest happenings.  So, I'll try to focus on my son, Andres, whom I baked this cake for.  Andres is my youngest child, who turned 24 years old.  If you look at my previous posts, I speak  of my children highly,  and Andres doesn't come short.  He is one of the best human beings I've ever met.  Though, being diagnosed with a bone condition at the age of two, going through so much adversity in life, the condition doesn't make him who he is.  Andres should be the meaning of the word man in a dictionary. Quite a gentleman, good and fair, writes lyrics, and is the best uncle to his nieces and nephew.  I have learned more from him, then I have taught him.  He has taught me patience, perseverance, modesty, infinite love, and to live and enjoy every minute of life.  He usually finds a solution to everything and never gives up. He is also one of the funniest people I've ever met.
He loves chocolate, so for him, the best chocolate cake ever.  Everyone loved this cake; is so good that even Mr. Guava, aka my husband, loved it and told me is the best chocolate cake I have ever baked.  And I agree!


                                                       
                                                      Chocolate Caramel Cake

Ingredients:                                                 Yield: 12 Servings

For The Cake

3 cups all purpose flour

3 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 1/2 cups warm water  (secret to a very moist cake)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Caramel Sauce  Click here


Frosting

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/4 plus 2 tablespoons warm water

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

1 lb semisweet chocolate, chopped and melted  (I used 2 boxes Baker's)


Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare 3 (9 inch) cake pans by spraying vegetable spray, cut  (9inch) parchment paper circles; place in cake pans, and again, spray with vegetable spray.  This way, cakes won't stick to pans at time of transfer. Set these aside.

In bowl of electric mixer, sift flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking soda,  baking powder, and salt.  Beat on low speed until well combined.  Add eggs, buttermilk, warm water, oil, and vanilla.  Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.  Scrape sides with rubber spatula to make sure all is well combined.
Divide batter into pans and bake for 35 minutes or until inserter comes out clean.  Let cool in pans and transfer to cooling racks.

Note: I baked cakes one day in advance, covered in Saran Wrap and refrigerated.  This way it's easier to cut each cake in half to make it 2 layers. This way, you will end up with 6 thin layers.

Make caramel sauce and let cool.  You can also make this one day in advance, refrigerate, and it will be easier to spread among layers.

To make the frosting:   Chop and melt blocks of chocolate in microwave, at 30 second intervals, until melted.  Whisk melted chocolate; set aside.
In small bowl, whisk together cocoa and warm water until cocoa dissolves.
In the bowl of electric mixer, beat butter and confectioners' sugar at medium speed until fluffy; add melted chocolate and cocoa mixture until well combined.  Let stand for 30 minutes.

Always trim tops of cakes to create a level surface.  Cut each cake into halves horizontally, with a serrated knife to form 2 layers.
Place first layer on serving dish, spread  about 4 tablespoons  caramel sauce.  Do not spread to rims, because it will overflow.  Place next layer and repeat process with the other layers, except top layer.

Note: I inserted four plastic straws vertically, trimming to size of cake.  This way, layers will keep in place. Refrigerate cake for one hour.
Frost cake in a swirling motion.

Enjoy


 



Hello, dear friends!  Do the adjectives: chocolaty, gooey, and chewy make you salivate like Pavlov's dog?  If at least one of the three descriptive words make you wonder, then you should give these brownies a try.  I have tried numerous brownie recipes,  but none worth blogging about.  I only post recipes worth  talking about; it doesn't necessarily mean they will become your favorite, but all my recipes have been tested. If I do not love the outcome, I won't post them, as many do not make it.
With that being said, here are my imperfectly cut brownies.  It's ok, right?  After all, I am not perfectly cut myself.  My love to you, all.


                                                                Brownies


Ingredients:                                                 Yield: 12 Brownies

1 stick unsalted butter

6 ounces semisweet chocolate (I used Baker's)

1 1/2 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder  (see note below)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, sifted

Chocolate Glaze recipe follows below

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Line an eight inch square baking dish with parchment paper, enough to overlap sides.  Melt semisweet chocolate and butter in microwave until smooth at 30 second intervals; stir with wooden spoon.  Whisk in sugar and eggs one at a time until well combined.  Whisk in cocoa and salt.  Fold in flour until combined.

Note:  I had no cocoa available and (with fear) added unsweetened chocolate shavings from William Sonoma, which I use for hot cocoa.  I must say, it worked very well.  I took a risk.

Pour batter into pan and bake for 40 minutes.  Let cool in pan and remove parchment; transfer to cool rack.  In the meantime, make chocolate glaze.

Chocolate Glaze

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 tablespoon light corn syrup (if you have dark, it's ok)

2 tablespoons water

2 ounces semisweet chocolate squares or morsels

Directions:

In a small saucepan, bring sugar, corn syrup, and water to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat; add chocolate and whisk until smooth.
Gradually pour over brownies.  Let set for about 30 minutes; cut with pizza cutter or knife into squares.

Enjoy with a tall glass of milk or vanilla ice cream.






 

Hello, my darling friends.  I hope you are all doing well.  It's been a rough week, never a dull moment, as usual.  But, we must always see the good in every bad.  It's the only way to survive in this not so perfect world.  But....this is not a philosophy class, this is a happy site, where people should come to forget their troubles and get hungry.  Earlier, this month was Mr. BCP's birthday, aka, my husband.  I am thinking of changing his name to Mr. Guava, since he pours guava marmalade on almost anything.  I thinks he kills most desserts by doing this but, oh, well, what can I do?  Should it surprise you that I am currently working on a guava cake recipe?
For his birthday, I made a succulent chocolate cake and topped it with whipped ganache.  It was simply divine, so good that I cannot wait to make again.
It's been raining lots in Miami, which is not surprising.  When I was a kid, I walked home from school  and on rainy days, I never dared to open an umbrella.  I danced in the rain and  stepped in every puddle.  By the time I got home, I looked as if I had been bathed in automatic car wash.  Ahhh, those were the days.


                                                          Chocolate Velvet Cake



Ingredients:                                                 Yield: 12 Servings

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 (16 ounce ) package light brown sugar

3 large eggs

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 (8 ounce) container sour cream

1 cup hot water

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whipped ganache, recipe follows

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
I used 2 (9 inch) springform pans, greased with vegetable spray and covered with parchment paper.

Melt semisweet chocolate morsels in microwave at 30 second intervals.  Stir until smooth.
Beat butter and brown sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until well blended, about 5 minutes.  Add eggs one a a time beating after each addition.  Add melted chocolate and beat until well incorporated.
On separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, and salt.  Gradually add to chocolate mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Beat until all well blended.  Gradually, add 1 cup hot water in a slow, steady stream, beating at low speed. (this step is very important, it will add great moistness to cake)
Stir in vanilla and pour into baking tins.  Bake for 30 minutes or until inserter comes out clean.
Cool on wire racks for about 10 minutes, remove from pans and cool for 1 hour. 


Whipped Ganache Filling

1 (12 ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels

1 1/2 cups whipping cream

Microwave chocolate morsels and whipping cream at 30 minute intervals until melted; whisk until smooth.  Cover and chill for 2 hours until mixture is thickened.
Beat ganache at medium speed until soft peaks form and ganache lightens in color.  Do not over mix.

Cover first cake layer with whipped ganache, top with second cake layer; cover top and sides.

This is one of the best chocolate cakes I've ever devoured.

Enjoy and do not wait for a special occasion to bake this cake, after all, all days should be celebrated.


This recipe is courtesy of Southern Living









 

Hello, my dearest friends!  It's been exactly 13 days since my last post, shame on me.  Let's see, I could tell you that I was in Paris eating chocolat croissants at cafes du livre, or maybe I was visiting Santorin Island in Greece learning how to make baklava with the natives, or perhaps that I went to do missionary work in a third world country.  But, the truth, my friends is that life took over me with too many responsibilities, so many that if I list them, you would probably get tired by just reading them.
I made a cake yesterday, one that I had never made before.  I experimented with a few ingredients and it turned out pretty darn good. It's a pineapple and coconut cake; it's so good and moist.  I baked it in a bundt pan, but I am sure you can also bake it in a 13 x 9 inch pan as well.  If you like pina colada, you will surely enjoy this cake.  Next time, I will add some rum.

                                                           Pineapple Coconut Cake

Ingredients:                                              Yield: 12 Servings

2 1/2 cups flour

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup sour cream

8 ounce can crushed pineapple with juice

8 ounces pineapple juice

1 cup grated coconut in heavy syrup

1 tablespoon light rum (optional)

Instructions:

Note: If you cannot find grated coconut in heavy syrup, an alternative would be to make a sugar glaze and top with coconut flakes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In bowl of electric mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, eggs, oil,  and sour cream; mix well.  Add crushed pineapple and  mix until combined. Add pineapple juice; mix.  If adding rum, this is the time to do so. With rubber spatula, scrape down sides and bottom; pour contents into baking pan. Bake for 55 minutes or until inserter comes out clean.  If baking in 13 x 9 inch pan, might take less baking time, about 40 minutes.
Let cake cool completely before transferring to cooling rack.  Transfer to serving plate and pour grated coconut in syrup by the tablespoon.

Enjoy!       


 




Hello, dear friends!  Today is Gigi's birthday! Yes, my middle child turns 26 years old.
Gigi is an old soul in a young body.  I call her my wildflower, because she is beautiful, pristine, bohemian, laid back, and the biggest music lover ever.  Ask her anything about music:  blues, classic rock, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and the list goes on and on.  Should I say she is also a fan of the Golden Girls?
She is a great listener and a great friend.  I am so proud of her and I love her so much.
Gigi is a no fuss type of gal, so when it comes to her birthday cake, well, she doesn't want one.  She prefers a banana pudding pie, so I made her one and here it is.



                                                                   My daughter, Gigi






                                                      Salted Caramel Banana Pudding Pie


courtesy of Ann Thorton
Ingredients:                                           Yield: 1 (9 - inch) pie


1 box vanilla wafers

3/4 stick butter, melted

3 large ripe bananas

1 teaspoon fleur de sel

1 cup homemade caramel, recipe follows

Vanilla pudding, recipe follows

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees


Put vanilla wafers in food processor until finely crushed.  Reserve 1/2 cup to layer in and top pie.  Pour remaining crumbs in a 9 inch pie plate.  Pour melted butter and combine with crumbs.  Press mixture in the bottom and sides of plate.  Bake until lightly brown, about 12 minutes.  Remove and let cool completely.
Peel and slice bananas, adding them them to a bowl.  Stir salt into the caramel sauce and toss banana slices with the salted caramel.  (remember you will only use one cup of caramel sauce) Arrange some banana slices over the bottom of pie crust.  Spread the warm vanilla pudding over bananas, top with some of the reserved wafers.  Add remaining caramel coated bananas and spread remaining vanilla pudding over top.  Place pie in refrigerator for a couple of hours.
In a large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks form.  Add almond extract and sugar until peaks form.  Spread whipped cream over the pie.  Just before serving, garnish with caramel and the rest of crushed vanilla wafers.

Caramel sauce:      Yield: 3 cups
1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

Note:  When making caramel sauce, stay close to pot, because it goes from caramel to burnt quickly.  Definitely, not the time time to be looking at Facebook!

Directions:
Combine sugar and 1/3 cup water in medium heavy saucepan.  This is the only time you can stir the sugar.  Place saucepan over medium to low heat until sugar dissolves, about 5-10 minutes.  Turn heat up to medium high and cook until the sugar starts to caramelize, about 5-7 minutes.  Do not stir while this is happening.  Be careful, mixture is very hot.
Turn off heat and stand back to avoid splattering.  Slowly, add cream and stir until well combined.
Simmer over low heat for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Let cool to room temperature; it will become smooth.

Vanilla Pudding
3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup all purpose flour

4 egg yolks

2 large eggs

2 cups whole milk, divided

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:
In a bowl, whisk together the sugar and flour until lumps are gone.  Whisk in egg yolks and whole eggs until a smooth paste is formed.  Slowly whisk in 1 cup milk; incorporate well and add remaining cup milk. Transfer mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it reaches thickness of chilled pudding, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from heat, add vanilla and stir.


Enjoy








 

Hello, my little darlings!  Did you miss me after one week of hibernation?  I certainly missed all of you.  Well, guess what?  I am back.

Today is Brown Sugar Cake Day,  at least in my site it is.  This cake is so delicious that you'll probably find yourself baking it for life.  But before I provide you with the recipe, I shall first talk to you about my mother.  What does Brown Sugar Cake have in common with my mother?  Well, isn't the fact that I have baked this cake for her more than a dozen times enough reason?

To explain my mother, I would really need to write a book, but I'll try to summarize it in a paragraph.  My mother's name is Magdalena, but everyone knows her as Magaly.  A mischievous little girl, who at the age of 8 ran away in the back of a motorcycle to another town with a family friend.  Never mind letting my grandmother, Mama Rosa know.  A little girl who would stand next to the town's mayor any time he would give a speech at the government building.  The government building was across the street from her house.  My mother, a teenager when dating my father, would leave him seating alone at the table and start dancing in front of the orchestra, since my father was not a dancer.
My mother has always been a stand up comedian.  Yes, every day she would go to the neighborhood beauty salon and tell jokes for a couple of hours.  Mami, as I call her, is one of the funniest people I know.  She is a very good listener, an avid reader, who has read hundreds of books.  I love and admire her.  She has lived her life  her way and by her own rules.  I talk to her every day and every day she makes me laugh.  Yes, Mami is quite a character.  Have I told you how much she loves to eat? Well, that would take two more paragraphs.  And here I present to you, her favorite cake.

                                                                        Mami and I


                                                             Brown Sugar Cake

Ingredients:                                                         Yield:12 Servings

1 package yellow cake mix

1 package (3.4 oz.) Jell-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding

4 eggs

2/3 cups sour cream

2/3 cups water

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a twelve cup bundt pan

In electric mixer, beat first 6 ingredients until well blended.  Add 1 cup brown sugar; mix well.  Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk the pecans or walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon.
Pour half of the cake batter in pan; sprinkle half of nuts mixture.  Repeat with remaining cake batter; top with remaining nuts mixture.  Bake for approximately 50 minutes or until inserter comes out clean.  Let cool completely before transferring to serving dish.

This is an adaptation of Kraft Foods

Enjoy




 

Hello, friends, how is your weekend going so far?  Mine is going well.  Got up very early today to attend my granddaughter, Katelyn's Holy Communion.  She looked so beautiful in  her dress and veil.   Tuesday, May 8th, I will announce to the world that my new granddaughter came into this world.   I can't wait to meet the little person that I already love so much.
Not too long ago, I read that most people who follow blogs, do so to read the post and it's never about the recipe.  I think it should be a combination of both.  I would like to think that you are  interested in my recipes.  It's a hard job to try out recipes, photograph the dish, and finalizing the objective, which is to bring it out to you.  One has to love the process too much and I really do love it.  This is never a burden for me, and the fact that I am sharing it all with you is what makes it more special than anything.  You, my friends, are the icing on the cake.
These pecan bars are extra especial.  So good that I wouldn't be surprised if you hide them under the mattress for a midnight snack.


                                                                 Pecan Bars


Ingredients:                                            Yield: 24 bars

3 1/2 cups pecans, chopped

2 cups all purpose flour

2/3 cup powdered sugar

3/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup honey

2/3 cup unsalted butter

3 tablespoons whipping cream



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line bottom and sides of a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with heavy duty aluminum foil, allowing 3 inches to extend over sides.  Lightly grease foil.
Bake pecans in a separate shallow pan for about 8 minutes until fragrant, stirring half way through.
Pulse flour, powdered sugar, and 3/4 cup butter in food processor until it resembles coarse meal, about 6 pulses.  Press this mixture on bottom and sides of prepared pan.
Bake for 20 minutes or until edges are lightly brown.
Bring sugar and next three ingredients to a boil in a saucepan, over medium high heat.  Stir in toasted pecans, and spoon hot filling into prepared crust.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden.  Cool completely on cooling rack.  Lift bars with foil. Transfer to cutting board and cut into bars.


Great with tea or without tea!








 

                             'Yet with these April sunsets, that somehow recall
                               My buried life, and Paris in the Spring,
                               I feel immeasurably at peace, and find the world
                               to be wonderful and youthful, after all.'
                                    
 Not my words exactly, this is a beautiful excerpt from Portrait of a Lady, by T. S. Eliot,  one of my favorite poets.

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month?  Literary organizations gather to celebrate poetry and its vital place in american culture.   And perhaps, I  motivated you to read a poem today, which is exactly my intention. While you read, why not indulge in these cookies and some tea?

I apologize for being absent a few days.  I've been very busy baking.
My love to you, all.


                                                             Crunchy oatmeal Cookies


Ingredients:                                          Yield:  Approx. 16 large cookies

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

3 1/4 cups quick cooking oats

1/3 cup blanched whole almonds, ground

2 large egg yolks, slightly beaten

Fruit preserves (optional)


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment or wax paper; grease with vegetable spray or butter.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat first 6 ingredients, for about 10 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Be sure to scrape bowl occasionally with rubber spatula.  Add oats and almonds; mix with spatula until all blended well.

Between two sheets of wax paper, roll out half the dough 1/4 inch thick.  With a round cookie cutter, cut dough into as many cookies as possible.  Place cookies 1 inch apart on sheets.  Brush tops of cookies with egg yolk.

Bake for 12 minutes or until golden.  Remove from cookie sheets onto cooling racks to cool.

Spread fruit preserves on top of cookies.

These, I swear, are so good!

Happy readings!







 

Hi, friends, how are you, today?  Are you in the mood for chocolate?  Do you have to be in any particular mood to eat chocolate, or are you always ready for chocolate?  Well, enough questions for today, I shall answer for myself.  I am doing well.  I am in the mood for chocolate,  I do not have to be in any particular mood to eat chocolate, and I am always ready for chocolate.  Now that we cleared the air about chocolate, I'll tell you a little story.
When I was kid,  about 8, I walked to and from school every day, regardless of a snow storm, rain, cold, it didn't matter, that's how everyone did it back then. My dad gave me a dollar every day for anything I wanted and every day I would stop by a candy store to spend my dollar.  Back then, a dollar would buy lots of goodies.  I would buy Hostess cupcakes, Hershey bars, plain and with almonds, and some jelly fishes.  It would probably be all consumed by the time I got home.  Oh, and sometimes, I would buy 100 pieces of Bazooka bubble gum, those would last me longer, because I would chew 10 pieces at a time.  Yes, I still chew gum, blow bubbles, and my grandson Alek, 14 months, is very impressed.  I don't chew 10 pieces at a time any more, because 5 root canals later, it's not appropriate.



                                                          Triple Chocolate Torte


Ingredients:                                           Yield: 10 Servings

1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup sour cream

1 stick unsalted butter

1/4 unsweetened cocoa

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

6 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate (you will need 6 for torte and 3 for glaze, 9 total)

Chocolate glaze (see recipe below)

Confectioner's sugar for sprinkling


Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9 inch round pan, line bottom with wax paper; grease wax paper.

Note:  I recommend to make this cake 1 day before, as it has a few steps, and I find that it tastes even better the day after.

In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat first 10 ingredients until blended, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula.
Spoon batter into pan, spreading evenly.  Bake 30 - 35 minutes until inserter comes out clean.  Cool cake in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes.  Loosen edges of cake and invert onto wire rack, peel of wax paper and cool completely. Pour chocolate glaze over cake and top with chocolate curls. Sprinkle confectioner's sugar.

Curls:
In heavy 1 quart saucepan, over low heat, heat semisweet chocolate squares, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth.  Pour onto 2 large cookie sheets and refrigerate until firm, but not brittle.  About 15 minutes.  Make chocolate curls:


Place a damp towel underneath cookie sheet to prevent from sliding.  Using a straight edge knife, push across chocolate to form chocolate curls.  Transfer curls with toothpick to another cookie sheet and refrigerate until time of use.

Chocolate Glaze:

In heavy 1 quart saucepan over low heat, heat three 1 ounce chocolate squares, 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, and 2 tablespoons light corn syrup, stirring frequently until melted and smooth.  Remove from heat, stir frequently until it cools and thickens lightly.







 

Hi dear friends, how are you, today?  I received so many good reviews on these key lime parfaits, that I just have to tell you about it.  You know you can turn many desserts into parfaits by just using a little imagination.  They are so pretty and there is no slicing, so that is already a big plus.  I served these at my daughter's baby shower.  I kept them refrigerated until time of serving.  I will show you images of the key lime parfaits and also as a key lime pie.  SIMPLY DELICIOUS.


                                                          Key Lime Parfaits

                                                              Key Lime Pie


For the crust:

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

12 graham crackers (3-by-5 inch)

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt


Directions:  In food processor, pulse graham crackers until fine crumbs, add melted butter, sugar, and salt; pulse to combine.  Set aside.

Key Lime Filling

Ingredients:

3 cups sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup sour cream

3/4 cup key lime juice  (if key limes unavailable, use regular limes)

1 tablespoon grated grated zest

Note:  If making parfaits, there is no need to bake crust.  Just distribute a heaping teaspoon in each parfait cup. Filling recipe provided me with 17 servings.

If making pie, press crumb mixture into bottom and sides of a 9 inch bake pan, bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes and set aside.

Directions for filling:

In a medium bowl, combine condensed milk, sour cream, lime juice, and lime rind.  Mix well and pour over crust.  Chill pie well before serving.  Garnish with limes and whipped cream.
Note: for parfaits, I used 4 ounce cups.  After graham cracker has been distributed in each cup, pour 2 heaping tablespoons key lime filling, followed by whipped cream.  I garnished my parfaits with raspberries. They turned out so cute!



                                                    Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes


For my cupcakes, I used same recipe as my march 12, 2012 posting: Something Sweet.  But this time, I omitted the chocolate chips in the batter.
For my caramel buttercream, as follows:

Caramel Buttercream


1 cup shortening

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons whole milk

4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted

pinch of salt

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons caramel sauce (see  march 21, 2012 posting: Caramel Sauce)

Directions:  Cream shortening, vanilla extract, and milk.  Add confectioner's sugar one cup at a time, beating after each addition.  Scrape sides with rubber spatula and mix. Add caramel sauce and beat until well incorporated.

Note:  For these cupcakes, I sprinkled semisweet chocolate morsels on top.
Friday, March 30, 2012


A Tres Leches Should Be In Everyone's Bucket List

I don't know why there is so much controversy regarding the originality of a Tres Leches Cake.  And if you do some research on the subject, it gets more complicated.  Puerto Rico, United Kingdom, Nicaragua, Mexico? I have always believed that it's a nicaraguan dessert, but I am not here to dispute, I am here to tell you that it's one of the most delicious cakes I've ever had. Through the years, I have tried a few versions, but this recipe is the best ever. And there is no controversy about that!


                                                                     Tres Leches



Ingredients for cake:                                   Yield: 12 servings

1 cup sugar, divided

5 large eggs, separate yolks and whites

1/3 cup whole milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar


Ingredients for milk syrup:

1 can (12 ounce) evaporated milk

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

1 cup whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon rum (I use Bacardi)


Ingredients for Meringue:

1 cup sugar, divided

1/4 cup water

3 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Note: I usually make this cake in a 13 x 9 x 2  inch pan, but this time I wanted to make 2 cakes, so I divided the batter into 2 (8) inch pans.  If baking in  2 (8) inch pans, the baking time is about 17 minutes.  Also, I'll like to mention that it is very important to make the meringue, (no commercial whip cream) it provides the final compliment. I used a torch for the meringue and topped with maraschino cherries.


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter or spray a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat 3/4 cup sugar and egg yolks until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  With rubber spatula, fold in milk, vanilla, flour, and baking powder; set this mixture aside.  Wash bowl of electric mixer  and beat (with whisk attachment) egg whites to stiff peaks, adding cream of tartar after 20 seconds.  Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and continue beating until whites are glossy and firm, but not dry.  Gently fold whites into yolk mixture .  Pour batter into prepared baking dish and  bake for
40 - 50 minutes or until inserter comes out dry. Let cool completely on a wire rack.  Invert cake into a deep large platter and pierce cake all over with a fork.  Pour milk syrup all over cake and spoon overflow on top until is all absorbed. Milk syrup directions are:  In a bowl, whisk  evaporated milk, condensed milk, whipping cream, vanilla, and rum until well mixed.

Directions for Meringue:

In a heavy saucepan, pour 1 cup water, 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar.  Cover and cook over high temperature for 2 minutes.  Uncover pan and cook until sugar dissolves completely, about 3 minutes.    .  Meanwhile, beat egg whites (with whisk attachment) to soft peaks with cream of tartar, gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar , continuing to beat to stiff peaks.  Pour boiling sugar syrup in a thin stream into whites and continue beating until mixture is cool to the touch. The hot syrup cooks the whites.
Spread meringue over cake and refrigerate at least three hours or overnight.  If using maraschino cherries, rinse them in cold water and dry them with paper towel before garnishing cake.

Enjoy, my friends!


                                 
Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberries & Cream

Hello, dear friends. I hope you had a lovely weekend.  Mine? Well, mine was a great one. Lots of baking, which included  a Tres Leches, Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes, and Chocolate Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes. And also, the best of all, my family came to visit.  I enjoy it so much when our group of women get together.  We talk about everything, laugh about everything, and eat everything.  I feel empowered and fulfilled when we are together, and when we say our goodbyes, I can't wait until we meet again.   This week I will share with you my my weekend  recipes.  I will start with Chocolate Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes.  Should I capitalize the name of my cupcakes? Umm, I have to check on that.
With all my baking, I did not realize that I did not have enough confectioner's sugar , so I had to improvise a little.  I only had 6 cups, when the recipe calls for 8.  Well, I didn't want to use granulated sugar for my cream cheese buttercream, so I reached for the little pink packets....yes, Sweet'n Low , four of them.  If you have been following my blog, remember when I wrote about making sure to have all ingredients before starting a recipe?  Well, friends, I got a taste of my own medicine!  But, let me just tell you that these cupcakes turned out really good.   So good, that I HAD to eat 2, just to make sure. :)

                                         Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberries & Cream


Ingredients:                                            Yield: 30 cupcakes

3 cups all purpose flour

3 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 baking powder

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

1 1/2 cup whole milk

1 cup warm water

3/4 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line tins with paper liners.

Sift first 6 ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Add eggs, milk, warm water, oil and vanilla.  Beat at medium speed until well incorporated.  With rubber spatula, scrape sides and mix. (If you want them extra chocolaty, add 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips and stir them in.)
Divide batter among prepared tins and bake for 20 minutes or until inserter comes in clean.  Let cool completely before icing.

Strawberries & Cream Icing
Ingredients:

1/2 cup shortening

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1 ( 8 ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 lbs confectioner's sugar, sifted

16 ounces fresh strawberries, diced

Directions:


In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream shortening, butter,  and cream cheese  until smooth.  Add  vanilla  and mix. Add salt and confectioner's sugar one cup at a time beating after each addition.   Ultimately, add strawberries and lightly beat until well incorporated.

I used an ice cream scoop to ice my cupcakes.

Enjoy







Saturday, March 24, 2012


Over 1,000 Views!!

Hello, friends! I am so happy that I can dance the mambo, cha cha, and the foxtrot at the same time.  No, I am not auditioning for Dancing with the Stars!  My little blog has reached over 1,000 views in a little more than a month.  I never thought this would be possible.  Thank you so much for taking your time and visiting.  I appreciate you all very much and it's a pleasure to know that I can share with you what I like to do most. And with every celebration comes something sweet, right?  How about chocolate stout cupcakes?

                                       Chocolate Stout Cupcake With Baileys Irish Cream Icing


      Ingredients:                                     Yield:  approx. 30 cupcakes

2 cups stout (Guinness)

2 cups unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)        

4 cups all purpose flour

4 cups sugar

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

1 1/3 cups sour cream

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line tins with paper liners.

In heavy saucepan bring 2 cups stout and 2 cups butter to simmer over medium heat.  Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth.  Let cool.

In large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.  Using electric mixer , beat eggs and sour cream.  Add stout chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat until well combined.  Add flour and beat briefly at low speed.  Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined.  Divide batter into prepared tins and bake for 20 minutes or until inserter comes out clean.

Baileys Irish Cream Icing
courtesy of Food.com

Ingredients:

1 cup unsalted butter

3 cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream

Milk if needed to thin consistency.  (remember when thinning buttercream, always start with 1 tablespoon at a time)

Directions:

In bowl of electric mixer, cream butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and Baileys Irish Cream.

Sensational!

Note:  Definitely, not for children.





You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming ~ Pablo Neruda


Spring reminds me of romance, puppy love , and fairy tales.   Spring gets me in the mood to plant flowers in my garden, lounge outside while loosing myself in a good book, and embrace my dreams while admiring nature.

What better way to celebrate spring than with the perfect lemon cake!  Both the cake and lemon curd are courtesy of Miette.  This cake melts in your mouth and has just the right amount of lemon zing. The batter is her basic Hot Milk Cake. I took my time making this cake, it has many steps, but do not get overwhelmed.  I started with the lemon curd.  The next day I baked the cake and refrigerated it.  The following day I finalized my objective, a delicious lemon cake.

                                                                Lemon Cake


Ingredients for this cake:

1 Hot Milk Cake
1/4 cup Lemon Simple Syrup
About 3 cups Lemon Buttercream
About 9 tablespoons Lemon Curd, chilled


Hot Milk Cake                        yield: 8-10 servings

Note: Recipe call for two 6 inch cake pans.  I used two 9 inch pans; cut each cake in two to make 4 layers.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees; butter and flour pans.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup whole milk

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside.  In saucepan over medium low heat, combine the butter and milk and  heat, stirring occasionally until butter is melted, about three minutes. (you can do this process in microwave on high at 10 second intervals, stirring between each, until butter is melted.  I opted for the microwave alternative.)  Pour milk mixture into a large bowl and set aside.  You want milk and butter to stay incorporated, so whisk occasionally.
In the top of a double boiler, whisk together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla; stir until sugar dissolves, about 10 minutes.  Pour egg mixture into the bowl of stand mixer with whisk attachment and whisk on high speed until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. (The batter becomes more stable as the mixture cools and this is key to create a cake with good structure.)
Stop mixer and add sifted ingredients; mix on low just until incorporated.(Do not change whisk attachment.)  The batter should be smooth.  Make sure milk mixture is cooled, then slowly pour into batter, whisking at low speed until well blended.  Remove bowl from the stand mixer and scrape down sides with rubber spatula; fold by hand a few times.  Bake until the cakes are golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Note:  Hot Milk Cake can be used as base for cupcakes or any other recipe that calls for vanilla cake.

Let cool in pans for 20 minutes and then carefully invert onto cooling racks.

Lemon Simple Syrup

In small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, and 1/4 cup sugar.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Let cool.

                                                                      Lemon Curd

Ingredients:              Makes about 2 cups

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon lemon zest

7 large egg yolks

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed

Directions:  In heatproof bowl, whisk together the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and egg yolks.  Set bowl over a pot of simmering water to make a bain-marie.  Whisk until mixture thickens.(Quite a workout!!)
Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean container.  Let curd cool slightly for approximately 20 minutes.

You will have lemon curd leftovers, which can be used for other recipes.  Will keep well in refrigerator for 7 days or in freezer for up to 3 months.

Lemon Buttercream                             MAKES ABOUT 3 CUPS, JUST ENOUGH FOR CAKE

1 cup shortening

1 tablespoon meringue powder

4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted

5 tablespoons whole milk

3 tablespoons lemon curd

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream shortening until smooth.  Add meringue powder and mix. Add confectioner's sugar at 1 cup intervals, scraping sides with rubber spatula after each addition. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency, mixing well after each addition. Stir in lemon curd until well combined.  I used yellow food coloring for buttercream.



                                                                  Add lemon syrup

                                             Fit pastry bag with round tip and fill with buttercream.
                                             Pipe a ring to create barrier and add 2 tablespoons lemon curd,
                                             and spread smoothly onto edges of frosting.


                                             Pipe another spiral of buttercream over curd .
                               

                                            Gently, smooth buttercream toward center.
                                 
Repeat  process with all layers.  Place top reserved layer, flat side up, and now you are ready to apply the crumb coat.  After crumb coat, I refrigerated cake for one day.  Refrigerated buttercream. Next day, stirred buttercream with a butter knife and let it set to room temperature before applying final coating.  I used silk blue hydrangea to decorate my cake.


You'll be very proud of yourself!!


Saturday, March 17, 2012


Happy St. Pat's Day!


St. Patrick's Day is the most widely celebrated Saint's day in world.  Did you know that blue was the original color associated with this day? As early as the 17th century  the color green became associated, due to shamrocks and green ribbons worn in celebration of St. Patrick's Day.
I thought about baking cupcakes with green batter or perhaps clover shaped cookies, but I finally made up my mind and decided to go with soda bread.  Who better to turn to than Rachel Allen, the Irish chef from Rachel Allen Bake (Cooking Channel).  This is a very simple  and basic recipe; the variations are endless.


                                                              White Soda Bread


Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 - 2 cups buttermilk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Sift flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt into large bowl, and make a well in the center.  Pour most of the buttermilk into well, leaving about two ounces in measuring cup.  Using fingers outstretched like a claw, bring flour and liquid together, adding more buttermilk if necessary.  The dough should be soft, but not to wet and sticky.
When dough comes together, place it on floured work surface, and bring together a little more.  Pat dough into a round, about 1 1/2 inches deep, and cut a deep cross in it to allow heat to penetrate.
Place on baking tray and bake for 15 minutes, then turn oven temperature to 400 degrees and cook for 30 minutes.  When cooked, the bread will sound a little hollow when tapped on base; this will let you know it's done.

Note:  Best eaten the day it's baked.
Enjoy with butter or jam.



Monday, March 12, 2012


Something Sweet

Hello, dear friends.  Hope you all had a lovely weekend.  It's been a lovely day today, why?  Well, because today I saw my granddaughter for the first time through an ultrasound.  I already love her and cannot wait to hold her in my arms.  You know, this will be grandchild number 3 !  Aren't I a lucky gal?  So, in a couple of months you'll hear about my cheers.  We are blessed!

Today I was going to share a seafood recipe, but how can I write about fish and a baby in the same post.  It's just impossible!!  It has to be something feminine, sweet, and some pink.



                               Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Buttercream Icing

Courtesy of allrecipes

Ingredients:                                            Yield: 28-30 cupcakes


1 package devil's food cake mix

1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix

1 cup sour cream

1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup warm water

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tins with paper liners.
In  bowl of electric mixer, mix cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, oil,  eggs, and water.  Stir in chocolate chips. Fill liners up to 3/4 full.  Bake for 20 minutes or until inserter comes out clean.
Note:  This chocolate batter is divine; just perfect chocolate flavor and texture.


Buttercream Icing

Ingredients:

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoon meringue powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups sifted confectioner's sugar

2 tablespoons whole milk

Directions:

Mix shortening and butter with white paddle of electric mixer until smooth.  Add meringue powder, vanilla extract and milk. Gradually add sifted confectioner's sugar at low speed, one cup at a time.  If mixture is too stiff, add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until desired consistency.

For this particular icing, I used pink and purple coloring, and topped with white pearls.




Sunday, March 11, 2012


Creamy Lemon Squares

Happy weekend, my friends!
I hope you trust me when I tell you how divine these lemon bars are.  When I made them,  I put some aside to take pictures and the others, the family  started eating.  Little did I know that my husband was eating the ones I had saved for pictures.  When I provide the number of servings in a recipe it is meant for a normal family that eats a normal serving, but definitely it does not apply to my loved ones.  These bars are like mini lemon cheesecakes, a little tart and just the right amount of sweetness.  Thank goodness there were two bars left at time of shooting.

                                                       Creamy Lemon Squares
    Courtesy of Kraft Kitchens

Ingredients:                                            Yield: 16 bars


20 Nilla Wafers, finely crushed

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup cold margarine

1 pkg (8 oz.) cream cheese

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tablespoons flour

3 tablespoons grated lemon peel

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons powered sugar


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 8-inch square baking pan with foil, with ends extending over sides of pan and set aside.  Combine crushed wafers, 1/2 cup flour and the brown sugar in a medium bowl.  Cut margarine with pastry blender or two knives until it resembles coarse crumbs and press firmly onto bottom of baking pan.  ( I do this part with my hands) Bake for 15 minutes.

Beat cheese and granulated sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.  Add eggs and 2 tablespoons flour; mix well.  Blend in 1 tablespoon of the lemon peel, lemon juice and baking powder and pour over crust.

Bake  25 minutes or until center is set.  Cool completely.  Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight (if you can resist).  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and garnish with remaining lemon peel.  Cut into squares.

Exquisite with a cup of tea!


Tangerine Cupcakes

Hello, my friends! Hope you all are doing well.
Some time ago a friend asked me that she wanted a tangerine cake for her mother's birthday.  I had never heard of a tangerine cake, but I was sure going to find out.  The first place I looked, I found what I was searching for.  This is a recipe from the lovely, Paula Deen.  Little did I know that it would turn out to be my most requested cake! The images below will demonstrate three various ways to make this wonderful recipe.  Delight yourselves!


                                                         cake with cream cheese frosting





                                                       topped with sugar glaze and almonds


                                                              Tangerine Cupcakes



Ingredients:                            Yield: 24 cupcakes

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup vegetable oil

1 (8 ounce) container sour cream

1 cup tangerine juice  (I use Noble 100% pure tangerine juice) in the orange juice section of local market

1 tablespoon tangerine zest


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

In  bowl of electric mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add eggs, vegetable oil, sour cream, tangerine juice, and and zest.  Mix until well combined.

Fill cupcake liners with ice cream scoop.  Bake for 20 minutes or until inserter comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Icing                 (adaptation of Paula Deen's)

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup shortening

6-8 cups confectioner's sugar  (sifted)

3 tablespoons tangerine juice  (use more if thinner consistency desired)

1/2 tablespoon tangerine zest


Cream together shortening, butter, and cream cheese until smooth.  Add sifted sugar to cream cheese mixture and mix until smooth.  Add tangerine juice and zest.  Mix until well combined.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Red Velvet Cake

I must say that I am not a great fan of red velvet cake, but my daughter Anelle certainly is.  I have tried various recipes.  In some  the cake dries too fast and others are just not all that.  However, I found a recipe from Southern Living that is very moist and my daughter says is the best one of all, even I liked it. It contains no vinegar and I think that could be the difference.  It's a beautiful cake, I must say.  It's a six layer cake.  I wanted all layers to be exactly the same, so I baked the layers individually in 9 inch round pans and it turned out beautifully.  I assure you this cake will make quite an impression.




                                                               lovely red batter


                                                       Red Velvet Cake


Ingredients:                                    Yield: 16 servings


1 cup unsalted butter softened

2 1/2 cups sugar

6 large eggs

3 cups all purpose flour

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 (8 ounce) container sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 (1 ounce) bottles red food coloring  (I buy my red food coloring at Target, sold by the ounce)


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy, add eggs one a time, beating after each one.  In separate bowl sift flour, cocoa, and baking soda.  Add dry ingredients to butter mixture alternately with the sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Beat at low speed until well blended.  I always stir my batter with a spatula to make sure all is well incorporated.  Stir in vanilla extract and food coloring.

  Grease and flour baking pans.  To make sure all pans contain same amount of batter I measured 2 cups plus 2 1/2 tablespoons in each pan.  I know it sounds a little paranoid, but I wanted the exact measure in each pan so the layers would be identical.  Bake for 18 minutes or until inserter comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 (16 ounce) packages powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with electric mixer until creamy.  (I always sift my powdered sugar for smoothness and no lumps).  Gradually add powdered sugar beating until light and fluffy.  Stir in vanilla.


Enjoy

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