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Blackberry Buttermilk Cake

12 May

It’s almost blackberry time! I love this time of year, PERIOD, for so many reasons!!! But it’s always great when berries start to come into season.

I wanted to have a simple dessert to showcase the abundance of blackberries (and raspberies) I had in my fridge.

Raspberries and Blackberries – beautiful!

Spectacular berries…..dont you just want to stick your face in the bowl?

This cake goes together so easily – and uses buttermilk, along with basic ingredients you have in your pantry.

Doesnt that look beautiful before it’s even baked?

And then it looks even more amazing when it’s cooked!

It was so moist and delicious. We made 2 cakes and just sprinkled with sugar prior to baking.

Since this cake is more of a casual brunch/afternoon cake, it doesn’t need icing. The sugar on top was all it really needed to accompany the moistness of the cake and sweetness of the berries. You can also top with whipped cream and more berries.

Enjoy!

Blackberry Buttermilk Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups blackberries, plus more for serving
  • Sweetened whipped cream, for serving (if desired)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°. Butter a 9-inch-round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the paper.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat the butter with the 2/3 cup of sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. At low speed, beat in the buttermilk and dry ingredients in 3 alternating batches, ending with the dry ingredients; do not overbeat. Gently fold the batter just until blended, then scrape into the pan and smooth the top.

Scatter the 1 1/4 cups of blackberries over the batter; lightly press them in. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar over the cake. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Transfer the cake to a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Turn out the cake and remove the paper. Turn the cake right side up and let cool completely. Serve with whipped cream/powdered sugar and more blackberries.

Makes one 9-inch cake.

Mexican Wedding Cookies

21 Apr

When putting together my menu for Mexican Supper Club, I knew I would do a flan for dessert. But I also wanted another sweet treat to pass around.

I referred to the Cooks Illustrated Mexican Edition for some inspiration and found Mexican Wedding Cookies. I’ve never heard of them before, let alone made them. They sounded easy and perfect!

These little cookies were so light and scrumptious. They were a true delight! They are very delicate – so handle with care. And try to resist popping them in your mouth while making them!

One helpful hint – make sure they are completely cooled prior to dusting with confectioner’s sugar.

I see why they call them Wedding Cookies – they are a special treat. They are beyond easy to make! They would be fabulous on your holiday cookie platter as well.

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pecans or walnuts
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 16 tblsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup superfine sugar
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups confectioners sugar

Directions:

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle-lower-middle positions and preheat to 325. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment.

Finely grind half of pecans in food processor to texture of coarse cornmeal, 10-15 seconds, then transfer to medium bowl. Coarsely chop remaining pecans in food processor, about 5 seconds, transfer to same bowl and stir in flour and salt.

In large bowl, beat butter and superfine sugar with hand-held mixer on medium until light and fluffy, 3-6 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly mix in pecan-flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds.

Scrape bowl and beaters and continue to beat on low until dough is cohesive, about 7 seconds. At this point, dough can be covered and refrigerated for 3 days.

Working with 1 tblsp dough at a time, roll into balls and lay on baking shets, spaced about 1 inch apart. Bake until pale and good and bottoms are just beginning to brown, about 18 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through.

Let cookies cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Meanwhile repeat with remainder of dough on freshly lined baking sheets.

Roll cookies in confectioners sugar and shake off excess.

Cinnamon Sugar Pecans

4 Apr

I saw these little beauties in passing on foodgawker.

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I knew I would be making cookie packages to mail to my friends.

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I decided that this would also be the perfect thing to toss into the mix, too!

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This recipe is very easy, with hardly any energy expended, but so much to gain! These are great to put out for appetizers or to accompany dessert with friends.

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CINNAMON and SUGAR PECANS

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg white
  • 3 cups pecan halves
  • 1/3 cup cinnamon & sugar
  • 2 teaspoons good vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

*For a cinnamon sugar mixture: use one tablespoon cinnamon to 1/3 cup sugar. Be sure to use good quality cinnamon.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

1. Whisk the egg white in a cup. Pour the egg whites over the nuts, stirring until the nuts are coated with egg white.

2. In a small bowl, stir the cinnamon, vanilla, sugar, and salt together. Add the cinnamon sugar mixture to the nuts, a little a time, while stirring.

3. Spread the coated nuts on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes without stirring. Use a spatula to remove the nuts from the hot baking sheet immediately. Allow to cool thoroughly before storing in tightly closed container. It took a while for mine to dry – so be prepared to lay them out for a few hours. Store in a cool place.

Mexican Flan

26 Mar

There arent too many Mexican desserts. But one of the most popular mexican desserts is flan.

I decided to make Mexican Flan for Mexican Supper Club back in October. I was a little nervous since I’ve never made a custard before. I knew immediately to set up the basics – line a large roasting pan with a dish towel and place my flan pan inside so that everything is ready.

I struggled with the first step of making the caramel topping. I boiled the sugar water 3 times without it turning out right before I called the expert……my mom! Without having made this before either, she surmised that my heat wasnt high enough when simmering the sugar water mixture. She was right and it turned dark and was ready to go! I dont know how, but moms are always right.

The rest of the flan came together real easy after that.

Because my oven was having issues, it took a bit long than expected to cook through and in the process the top (well, really the bottom) got a little dark….You can see it in the pictures later on in the bottom of the plate.

I was especially nervous when the time came to flip the flan upright onto the plate in front of my dinner guests. Basically, you wait until it’s cooled completely, run a knife around the edges, then hold a plate on top of the pan, and flip the entire thing over so that the flan has the caramel part on top.

Look how perfectly this worked! SUCCESS! It looks gorgeous, too.

And then we finally got to try it at the end of our mexican meal. It was out of this world. I nailed the taste and the texture!! Again, dont mind the dark part on the bottom of the plate. My oven is to blame.

Mexican Flan

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tblsp water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1.5 cups 2 percent milk
  • ¼ tsp lemon zest

Directions:

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 350 degrees.

Place dish towel in bottom of large roasting pan and place 9-inch cake pan in center.

Bring sugar and water to boil in small saucepan, swirling saucepan gently until sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes.

Reduce to simmer and cook, gently swirling saucepan occasionally, until mixture turns deep, dark mahogany color, 7-10 minutes. Carefully pour caramel into cake pan and cool slightly until hardened.

Bring kettle or large saucepan of water to boil over high heat. Meanwhile, whisk eggs and yolks together in medium bowl until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Whisk in condensed milk, 2 percent milk, and lemon zest. Pour mixture into cake pan and gently place roasting pan on oven rack. Be careful not to splash any water inside pan of custard, pour boiling water into roasting pan until water reaches halfway up the side of the cake pan.

Bake until center of custard is just barely set and is no longer sloshy, 30-40 minutes. Start checking after 25 minutes.

Carefully remove roasting pan from oven and careful transfer cake pan to wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Cover cake pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

Run knife around cake pan to loosen custard. Invert large serving platter over top of cake pan and grasping both cake pan and platter, gently flip custard onto platter, drizzling any extra caramel sauce over top (some will remain in pan). Serve.

Can be made ahead 2 days – cover tightly on top with saran wrap so it hits the custard.

Country Apple Galette

24 Feb

I saw this Jacques Pepin recipe last fall in Food and Wine Magazine (October 2011) and immediately bookmarked it.

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I still had a fear of the pie crust last year – I hadn’t had a lesson with my mom yet where she taught me her pie crust recipe. But I desperately wanted to make something apple pie-like for Robb since that’s his fave. This recipe was awesome because the crust gets made in 10 seconds in the food processor!!!

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I got to use my apple peeler/corer/slicer that my mom gave me last year! I love this thing and HIGHLY suggest it if you don’t have one. This is the ultimate tool for someone who works with apples a lot. And some of the best baking apples that I used are: honeycrisp, pink lady, and granny smith.

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I really liked that the crust for this open-faced pie was made quickly in the food processor. No mashing the Crisco into the flour mixture by fork! Even though making pie crusts by hand are easy, too. IMG_1295

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Luckily for my lack of perfectionism, this crust is free-form and you can shape it however you like. It can be rectangle, square, round, whatever! Mine are mostly oval with some deviations 🙂

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The apple-cinnamon-sugar mixture tastes amazing – but with the honey in the mix, too, it’s out of this world!!!!

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I know my edges look burnt – but that was just the sugar that leaked out over the sides of the crust.

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OMG sooooooooo good. This is an awesome apple pie alternative if you have some friends come over. It’s easy to assemble and looks great for a casual meal.

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Country Apple Galette

Ingredients:

Pastry:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup ice water

Topping:

  • 4 Golden Delicious apples
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon honey, preferably wildflower
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Directions:

In a food processor, combine the flour with the sugar, salt and butter and process for about 5 seconds. Sprinkle the ice water over the flour mixture and process until the pastry just begins to come together, about 10 seconds; you should still be able to see small pieces of butter in it. Transfer the pastry to a work surface, gather it together and pat into a disk. Wrap the pastry in plastic or wax paper and refrigerate until chilled. (You can also roll out the pastry and use it right away – which is what I normally do.)

Peel, halve and core the apples and slice them crosswise 1/4 inch thick. Set aside the larger center slices and coarsely chop the end slices and any broken ones; about half of the slices should be chopped. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon.

Preheat the oven to 400°. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry to a 12-by-14-inch rectangle and transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet. Spread the chopped apples over the pastry to within 1 inch of the edge. Drizzle the honey over the chopped apples. Decoratively arrange the apple slices on top in concentric circles or in slightly overlapping rows. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over the apples and dot with the pieces of butter. Fold the pastry edge up and over the apples to create a 1-inch border.

Bake the galette for about 1 hour, until the pastry is nicely browned and crisp and all of the apples are tender. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the galette cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

NOTE: The buttery pastry can be refrigerated overnight if you want to make the crust ahead of time.

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