Chef Dennis’ Pineapple Cake

I’m trying really hard to learn to like cooked fruit. So when a neighbor brought me a whole pineapple, I knew a) I wouldn’t be able to eat it all and b) I don’t really love pineapple upside down cake. What’s an alternative?

Thanks to Google I was able to find Ask Chef Dennis… A blog with this fantastic recipe.

Butter + Fresh Pineapple
Ready for the oven…

My only modification was, instead of just powdered sugar, I made a glaze using 2 Tbls of the cooled leftover pineapple juice butter, a squeeze of lemon juice, powdered sugar and just enough milk to thin to the right consistency.

Thanks to Chef Dennis for this great alternative to pineapple upside down cake!

Tastes like summer…
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Quick and Easy Cinnamon “Rolls”

Cinnamon Rolls FinishedI love cinnamon rolls, especially as a breakfast treat. I confess I will buy a Cinnabon or a can of refrigerated cinnamon rolls, but I always feel guilty. What’s in those? (Don’t look at the label!)

This recipe saved me at least a little bit of the guilt that comes along with eating sugar, butter, and flour for breakfast. I think mostly because they’re homemade. They do not require yeast and are baked in a muffin pan, which make these a little bit muffin, and a little bit roll.

Ahhhh, warming a cold Saturday morning with the sweet smell of baking cinnamon.

I found this recipe on Allrecipes. Thanks to Carol, the original submitter of these delicious little muffin/roll hybrid. Her profile doesn’t seem to be on the site, but I thought this was worth a shout out 🙂

Tips

  • I didn’t use raisins or currants… I’m not a fan of raisins in cinnamon rolls, but feel free to add them if you are!
  • I made a cream cheese icing, your basic cream cheese/butter/confectioners sugar/vanilla/milk icing. I’m sure these are equally yummy with the glaze that’s included in the recipe.
  • I thought I may have originally under-baked these, but they set up well, and the middle had the gooey-chewy feel that I like in a cinnamon roll. I feel that over-baking these slightly would dry out the edges too much for my liking, so keep an eye on them.

Here’s a photo collage of the process. Enjoy!

 

The Amazingness of Chocolate Raspberry Tassies

Finished Tassie‘What’s a tassie?’ you may ask. Well, let me save you the googling. It means “small cup”. These are small cups of gooey raspberry chocolate shortbread buttercream amazingness. Yes, I made up a word for these. Amazingness.

You know what they say, the best things come in small packages!

Since I love to bake as a gift, these are perfect for the person that loves raspberry and chocolate (Who doesn’t?) – they’ve been a hit on several occasions. The best part (ok, for me) is that this recipe is available on the Better Homes and Gardens website. I don’t modify it, though the instructions are a bit (unnecessarily) complicated. Here are my tips:

  • Read the entire recipe through – it’s one of those that have you start with a prepared item, then work from there. In this case, the prepared recipes include the “chocolate pastry”, which is the shortbread-like chocolate cookie that forms the “cup”, and the chocolate buttercream, which goes on top.
  • You will need a food processor and a mini muffin pan to make this recipe.
  • The recipe calls for an ungreased mini muffin pan. I (out of habit) greased mine, then caught the mistake in time.
  • Make sure they’re not overdone… but they must be firm enough to come out of the muffin pan without losing shape. I popped a batch back in the oven when I realized they were not done enough to keep shape.
  • Try not to get the raspberry filling on the sides of the muffin cup; this will help keep them from sticking. Expect to run a thin knife around the edge of each muffin cup to release the tassie and cool on a wire rack before adding the buttercream.

I mentioned that I did not tweak this recipe… but I will be specific on which ingredients I do use. I use quality chocolate… think of a dark chocolate bar that you would eat on its own, and buy a couple of them, as the large bars are usually 3 to 4 ounces each. I top my tassies with mini chocolate chips. They look finished, and I think it adds an element of texture that complements the rest of the tassie. I also use Chambord raspberry liqueur; there’s only a tablespoon in the entire recipe, but you want to make it really pop. Yes, Chambord is a little pricey, but it comes in handy baking as well as mixing with any leftover bottles of champagne remaining from New Years (ha ha, right?).

These take about… 45 minutes to an hour to make, plus you’ll need cooling time before decorating. You will dirty up a few bowls in the process. You will have bits of chocolate pastry under your fingernails. But they are delicious as they are labor intensive, I promise.

Oh, and I must not forget the most important piece of advice, from my husband: “You should tell them that you’re supposed to take more than one bite when eating them“. Yes, he ate a whole tassie in one bite, then said it tasted “like a brownie”. But, it’s one of the few desserts I make that he saves for himself!

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake
Flourless Chocolate Cake

What better way to make a comeback with a recipe that will wow your friends. Flourless Chocolate Cake is wickedly delicious. Bonus: it gives a fabulous “I worked really hard on this” impression.

Chocolate + Butter+ Eggs + Coffee = Bliss

There’s two keys to this recipe. Preparation and patience. Here’s what you need:

  • 8 eggs
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup strong coffee

But before you think this recipe is TOO easy, let me warn you: this cake is baked in a water bath. If you’re really nervous, take a look at this webpage by A Family Feast to learn more.

Prep all these items before you start to make the cake:

  1. Dig out a turkey roasting pan, a large stock pot or tea kettle, and a 8 or 9 inch springform pan.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  3. Line the bottom of the springform pan with parchment paper and wrap the entire outside of the pan with foil. Spray the sides with nonstick spray or grease with butter.
  4. Brew a strong cup of coffee.
  5. Fill the stock pot or tea kettle with water and start to bring to a boil.
  6. Coarsely chop the chocolate into pieces smaller than the size of a quarter (to help with melting).
  7. Cut the butter into tablespoons (to help with melting).
  8. Take out your mixer (stand mixer, if you have it).

Assess the situation. Are you ready to bake? Really? Ok. The rest is as easy as melting chocolate.

  1. Combine the chopped chocolate, butter, and coffee into a microwavable bowl. Cook at 50% power for 2 minutes, stir, and repeat. Continue heating at 50% power one minute at a time until the mixture is completely smooth.
  2. Beat the eggs on medium speed for 5 minutes, using a wire whisk attachment if you have it, until they are foamy and has significantly more volume.
  3. Carefully fold 1/3 of the beaten eggs into the chocolate mixture (use a larger bowl if needed), then continue in thirds until the mixture entirely combined and uniform in color. Pour into the prepped springform pan and smooth top if needed.
  4. By now the water should be boiling. Set your filled cake pan into the large roasting pan; the pan should be large enough that water should be able to surround the springform pan and come halfway up the sides.
  5. Carefully pour (if using a tea kettle) or ladle the boiling water into the roasting pan, using care to not splash into the cake batter. (I chose to ladle instead of pour hot water from pan to pan because I’m confident I would either burn myself or ruin the cake). Once the hot water has surrounded the cake pan and measures halfway up the sides of that pan, it can go in the oven.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes, or until the cake has risen slightly, the sides of the cake start to set and “pull away” from the side of pan slightly. The middle of the cake will look “jiggly”, but there should be a slight sheen to the top of the cake to help indicate it’s done. Bake time will be longer for an 8 inch pan versus a 9 inch pan.

This cake, from my experience, it best judged done by how it looks, so use the time as a guide.

Finished Cake in Water Bath
Finished Cake in Water Bath

After the cake is done, remove from the water bath and set on a cooling rack. After a few minutes, carefully pull back the foil, knowing there’s likely water in the foil, so be prepared for it! Once the cake is room temperature, cover and refrigerate. This is where patience comes in. You must chill the cake for it to set properly. If you cut it too soon, you’ll have a pudding-like middle. Don’t you wonder how I know that? Ha!

I topped my cake with a bit of dark chocolate ganache, but it’s great on its own or with some fresh whipped cream.

Drunken Dessert Pizza

Sometimes you thought you failed at something, but then you tweak it a little, and maybe you get a little success. That’s Drunken Cookie Cookin’ for you.

DessertPizza20150321_223546This is easy. This is for when you thought your pizza dough didn’t rise, but it did an hour late. Or you thought you made dough for a single pizza, but really you made dough for five pizzas. Or, because you want to have dessert for dinner. Either way, it’s a pulling victory out of the sticky, gooey jaws of defeat!

The directions can’t be more simple – follow the photos. Here’s some guidance:

  • Don’t use your normal “pizza” pan, unless you’re sure that no trace of garlic or seasoning remains. (And it probably does). Grease the pan, especially the sides (if it has sides) because the sugar topping will run off.
  • The streusel topping is 1/2 c brown sugar, 4 tablespoons butter (1/4 cup), 1/4 cup flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Pulse in a food processor until clumpy. Or use a fork, your fingers, whatever it takes.
  • Drizzle is simply powdered sugar, a bit of water or milk, and vanilla. I used a basting brush to spread it on top when the pizza was still hot.
  • Use whatever jam you like. I don’t recommend grape, because you’re not 5 years old, but it’s your dessert pizza – make it how you want.

I want to try this with a few other options. Maybe cinnamon sugar on the dough first, then cream cheese. Maybe add a little pecans to the streusel. I wish it had clumped more, so maybe a touch more flour or less sugar. Either way, I plan on making it again the next time we make homemade pizzas.

Pi Day Celebration – Mocha Cream Cheese Pie

Pie Slice2Of course I made a pie on 3-14-15!

Not everything I make needs to take hours. If you need a quick pie, that really is (mostly) homemade, here’s a great one. Best of all, it’s done in about 45 minutes.

Mocha Cream Cheese Pie (adapted from a recipe on Cooks.com)

2 – 8oz blocks cream cheese, softened/room temp
.5 cup sugar
2 eggs
.5 tablespoon of vanilla
4 oz of semi-sweet chocolate (chocolate chips or broken chocolate bar, such as Ghirardelli’s baking bars)
3 tablespoons strong coffee
1 Chocolate Cookie Crust (I used Oreo, of course)
Whipped topping and chocolate chips for garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep the 3 tablespoons strong coffee. I think the instant coffee packets are SUPER convenient, because you can mix them with half the water to make it extra strong, and they mix fine with just hot tap water. Too easy!
  2. In a small bowl, combine the chocolate chips (or broken pieces of chocolate) with 3 tablespoons of coffee. Microwave to melt (if your microwave has a “melt” setting), otherwise use no more than 50% power to melt. (Note: you can also use the double-boiler method, but I was all about “quickness” in this recipe). Pouring the hot coffee over the chocolate helps start the melting process, but stop and mix halfway through to make sure it doesn’t burn!
  3. Set melted coffee/chocolate aside.  Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until well blended.
  4. Mix in, at medium speed,  eggs and vanilla until smooth
  5. Add the melted coffee/chocolate mix and beat just until blended
  6. Pour into the cookie crust, and smooth to an even layer
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes

That’s it! Cool on a wire rack then store in the refrigerator. Serve chilled, with whipped topping and chocolate chip garnish.

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This recipe is considered a hit in my book, as my husband actually said “it’s really, really good”.

Tool Alternatives

I’m not talking about A Perfect Circle.

I’m talking about this little guy right here:

20150201_144312_Richtone(HDR)

I recently bought this chili pepper corer from Sur La Table because I grow a lot of hot peppers in my garden and I thought I may make more bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapenos if I owned this special little device.

Soon I discovered that this can be used as a cupcake corer, perfect for adding fillings to cupcakes before frosting. Simply insert the end in the middle of the cupcake, slowly twist and “saw” at the same time, and you’ll end up with a perfect circle of cupcake core you can pop back after piping the filling.

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