Monday, July 14, 2014

Roasted Cherry Chocolate Pie

The other day, I was browsing around Confections of a Foodie Bride (she has some AMAZING margarita and burger recipes...yum!), and I came across this recipe for a roasted cherry brownie sundae.  I love cherries, and they go brilliantly with chocolate, so this recipe got filed away in my mental recipe box.  Fast forward a few days.  It was a friend's birthday, and she loves chocolate.  I wanted to make her something decadent and chocolatey, but I also wanted it to be easy and quick to make, because we were celebrating her birthday on a Wednesday, so it would have to be made after work on Tuesday.  I decided on a chocolate pie, because pies are easy and delicious.  But chocolate pie seemed too plain.  And then I remembered the roasted cherry brownie sundaes.  And decided to stir the roasted cherries into my chocolate pie filling.  This, my friends, was a very good idea.  So good of an idea, in fact, that the pie was devoured in its entirety, before I had a chance to take a picture.

But really, the pie didn't look all that pretty anyways, because I dropped it as I was getting into my car.  Go me.  Thankfully, the lid stayed on, so all the contents stayed inside the pan.  It was just a little...shaken up.  Anyway, you should make this pie.  And try not to drop it.  And try not to eat it all in one sitting.  I dare you.

Roasted Cherry Chocolate Pie (adapted from Epicurious and Confections of a Foodie Bride)

  • 1 lb. sweet cherries
  • 1/2 c. port
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 2 Tbl. cocoa powder
  • 2 1/4 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 chocolate graham cracker pie crust (store bought or homemade)
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 2 Tbl. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract

Remove the pits from the cherries, and cut them in half.  Combine them with the port in an oven-proof baking dish.  Roast at 425*F for 30-40 minutes, or until the cherries are soft and the port has reduced to about 1/4 c.  Remove from oven and drain the cherries, reserving the liquid.

Whisk together the sugar and cocoa powder in a saucepan.  Add the port and milk, whisking to combine.  Heat over medium heat until just steaming.

Meanwhile, whisk together the cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks until thoroughly combined.  Slowly whisk in about 1 c. of the steaming milk mixture, to temper the eggs.  Add the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens significantly.  Be careful not to boil it to avoid scrambled eggs.  Remove the pudding from the heat, and stir in the vanilla, cherries, and chocolate chips until chocolate chips are melted.  Pour into the chocolate graham cracker pie crust.  Note: if you use one of the store-bought ones, you will have some filling left over, since they're closer to 8" than 9".  If you make a 9" one at home, you will not have filling left over.  Let cool for about 5 minutes, and then press plastic wrap down onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight, until set.

Combine the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and almond extract, and whip until stiff peaks form.  Spread the whipped cream over the top of the pie.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Peanut Butter Bourbon Bacon Blondies

There's a fantastic local BBQ joint near the Husband and me...it's owned by a guy who has been a chef at a lot of the top local restaurants.  He's a classically trained French chef, but he got tired of doing the fancy food, so he started a BBQ restaurant.  He brings all the same attention-to-detail that high-end cuisine requires to a very unfussy local hangout.  And it shows.  You can drive by this place at 2:00 on a Tuesday afternoon, and it's packed.  Because of his extensive culinary experience, the chef comes up with some interesting desserts, too!  We once had some bacon brownies there (delicious), and last time we were there, the Husband had a doughnut topped with peanut butter frosting, bacon, and a chocolate drizzle.  Now, I'm not big on either doughnuts or bacon, but it was an interesting combination.  Fast forward a few weeks, and when the Husband requested that I make peanut butter blondies, well, I knew how I was going to jazz them up!  These blondies were a huge hit--the perfect balance of salty and sweet!


Peanut Butter Bourbon Bacon Blondies (adapted from my mom's blondie recipe)

  • 1/3 c. butter
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbl. bourbon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 oz. bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 6 oz. Reese's minis, chopped (or Reese's pieces)

Melt butter, and mix in brown sugar until well-combined.  Cool slightly, then stir in the bourbon, egg, and vanilla until thoroughly mixed.  Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then stir it into the wet ingredients until a few streaks of flour remain.  Lastly, add the bacon and Reese's, and stir gently until just mixed.  Spread into a greased 8x8 pan, and bake at 350*F for 25 minutes.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Strawberry Shortcake in a Glass

Remember when I made those watermelon rum-aritas two years ago?  No?  Well, you should re-visit the recipe (and try it with jalapeño-spiked rum or tequila while you're at it...trust me).  One of my favorite things about that recipe is that it uses fresh fruit, liquor, and not much else--no soda or syrups, and it uses whole fruit, rather than juice, so you get more nutritional value.  Yes, I referred to the nutritional value of a cocktail.  I can rationalize anything.  Keep reading.


This next recipe falls in the same vein.  It has 3 simple ingredients, two of which are healthy!  The third is vodka.  How could you go wrong?  This is a beautifully sweet way to cap off a meal.  It also makes a great afternoon snack (hey, it's 5 o'clock somewhere, right?) because it's very filling.  And it quite literally tastes like strawberry shortcake in a glass.  Don't let strawberry season pass you by without giving this a whirl (pun intended)!

Strawberry Shortcake in a Glass (a Blondie original)

  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
  • 1 to 1 1/4 c. milk (skim works, whole tastes richer)
  • 1 c. cake vodka (we like Pinnacle, but I'm sure other brands work, too)
  • 3 basil leaves (optional)

Combine strawberries, milk, vodka, and basil leaves (optional) in a blender.  You can adjust the amount of milk depending on how creamy you would like it.  Blend until smooth, and then drink up!  Makes about 4 glasses.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What's Baking?: Walnute Nectarine Muffins

*Blows dust off blog*  Wow, has it ever been a while.  Suffice to say, between work and life, I haven't had a lot of time to be blogging lately!  When the What's Baking? group threatened to kick me out for lack of participation (ooops, sorry guys!), I figured I should get my behind in gear and get a post written.


This month's challenge, brought to you by Yudith of Blissfully Delicious, was to bake using summer produce.  Now, I don't know about you, but one of my favorite parts of summer is all of the fresh produce!  Watermelons, berries, peaches, plums, cherries--don't make me pick, I love them all!  But for this recipe, I'm using nectarines, because they were on sale at my grocery store.  Grocery store, you ask?  Not Farmers' Market?  Let me tell you.  You would think, given that I live in a rural area, that there would be a lot of Farmers' Markets or other opportunities to buy fresh produce.  Do you want to know what the ONLY stall at my Farmers' Market last week was selling?

Funnel cakes.

Yup, funnel cakes.  Nothing else.  No tomatoes, no cucumbers, no zucchini, and certainly no fruit.  So, grocery store, it is.  I will be scouting various other Farmers' Markets over the next couple weeks in hopes of finding one that actually sells *gasp* produce!  In the meantime, Husband (yup, he graduated from Fiancé!) and I will be enjoying these nectarine walnut muffins for breakfast.  We took his mom's basic muffin recipe and adapted it, and they turned out deliciously!  You could make these with any fruit you wanted, truly, although you'll have to play with the amount of milk, based on how juicy your fruit is!  I'm thinking they would also be delicious with white chocolate chips substituted for the walnuts....






Nectarine Walnut Muffins (adapted from Shirley)


  • 3 1/2 c. flour
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbl. double-acting baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 c. vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 c. milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 nectarines, diced (peeling is optional--I didn't bother)
  • 1 c. chopped walnuts

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.  Add the eggs, oil, milk, and vanilla, and mix until mostly combined.  Gently fold in the nectarines and walnuts until they are incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.  Divide batter evenly among 12 jumbo muffin tins (or 24 normal-sized ones).  Bake at 375*F for 20-25 minutes for jumbo muffins or 15-20 minutes for normal-sized muffins.  Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Cherpumple...errr...Chersweetby?

Brownie here!  It's been a very busy few months for me so most of my baking went unphotographed, but next week is the boyfriend's 26th birthday and after I had told him of the existence of the
His favorite color is green
Cherpumple
, he told me he would request one every year until I made him one.  Now, I live by myself, and consuming the remainder of 3 pies and 3 cakes sounded like an insane feat, so I sought to make a mini version of the cherpumple, something a few people could manageably eat.

For those of you who don't know, the cherpumple is a monstrous creation, 3 layers of pie (cherry, pumpkin, and apple, respectively)-stuffed-in-cake.  These things are ginormous.  I decided to use a birthday gift from the boyfriend's sister, this cute tiered cake pan, and make a smaller version.  Normally I do from-scratch baking, but a paper deadline and the enormity of this task required a few compromises...

To make my version, you'll need:

1 4-inch cherry pie (I bought mine from the freezer section because I only had so many tiny pie tins)

Clockwise from left--sweet potato, Kentucky Derby, and cherry
Ingredients for Joe Pastry's Pumpkin Pie, subbing sweet potato for the pumpkin puree, subbing evaporate milk for both the milk and the cream, and scaling it up by 25% if you want to make a spare pumpkin pie, or making only 1/4 of the recipe if you just want the mini ones.

Ingredients for Joe Pastry's Kentucky Derby Pie (I ended up using 1.5 pie crusts for this because using smaller containers contains less volume per crust amount)

1 box yellow/vanilla cake mix, plus the eggs/oil/water it calls for
Spices of your choice (I used 1 Tbl cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp cloves)
Chocolate pudding mix/cocoa-sugar blend (to turn vanilla cake into chocolate; pure cocoa just gets too bitter).

1.5 cups butter, softened
~3 cups powdered sugar
1.5 tsp salt
2/3 cup dark spiced rum

Two days ahead, make the pumpkin pies.  I used something like these mini ramekins that I bought at an estate sale ages ago.  They're a bit deep-dish but that works out well for the cake pan.  Obviously in the small pans they bake a lot faster--mine were done in 10-15 minutes.  Put cooled pies in the freezer.  Eat the big one if you made it--it's a great recipe.

One day ahead, make the Kentucky Derby pies.  I baked these in tartlet pans (I bought mine on Amazon from Fox Run; you want to use ones without a false bottom unless you're really confident in your pie crust since syrup pies can leak) and again shortened the baking time.  Freeze the cooled pies.

Leave some space for them to rise!
The day of, make the cake mix according to the package directions, and divide it into 3 bowls, but not evenly--one bowl should have about 1/5 of the batter (this will be chocolate), and the remaining two will split what's left, with a little extra going to the plain flavor (the medium amount is for the spice cake).

Add the spices of your choice to the spice one, and the chocolate putting mix or cocoa-sugar blend to the chocolate (to taste), and prep your pan by cutting out solid circles for the bottom tier and rings for the upper 2 tiers. You could also spray and flour the pan thoroughly.

Cut the frozen cherry pie into 4 wedges (no more than 1 inch in diameter). Drop a wedge inside each cavity, and top with the chocolate batter. Repeat with the pumpkin and the spice batter, and then finally top with the Kentucky Derby pie and yellow batter (careful not to overfill).  Conveniently, the chocolate batter will be the thickest, so you shouldn't have much trouble with things blending together--my layers were quite distinct.

The glory shot
Bake according to the package directions, and test by springiness rather than a toothpick so you don't misinterpret pie goo as raw batter.  Let cool thoroughly and then invert for 1 hour or so, hoping that the cakes fall out. They might break into the 3 layers but that just gives you more opportunity for frosting.  Refrigerate (or if you want to do a crumb coat, freeze) until ready to frost.

To make the frosting, reduce 1/2 cup of rum in a pan by half, while blending the softened butter with 1/2 cup of the sugar. Alternate the reduced rum and remaining sugar, and then whip in the un-reduced rum (replacing the milk in a normal buttercream). Try to get the buttercream as airy as possible (using whisk attachment) since the cake is so rich.

Frost the cakes (I did a crumb coat and then froze again), then slice carefully and wow all your friends!




Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What's Baking?: Creamsicle Bundt Cake

I'm alive!  I haven't forgotten about the blog, I swear!  I had a REALLY busy spell at work, so I had to take a break, but I am (hopefully) back in action now!  And, I happen to be just in time for another What's Baking? challenge!


This month, Ange from The Tiny Tyrant's Kitchen challenged us to bake our favorite cocktail.  Um, yum!  This was right up my alley.  And, I knew right away what I wanted to make.  The Fiancé and I have been big fans of the flavored vodkas ever since they came our, but hands-down, our favorite one is whipped cream vodka.  We can go through a liter of that stuff embarrassingly quickly!  He loves to mix it with coke (tastes like vanilla coke) or strawberry soda, while my favorite mixers are root beer (mmmmm, root beer float) or orange soda (hello, creamsicle).  And when I saw this cherry lime cream cheese bread, I knew I could adapt the recipe to highlight the whipped cream vodka and orange flavors.  I ended up using orange juice in this recipe, so it's a much more natural orange flavor, but you could certainly use orange soda to get more of the creamsicle flavor.  This cake was a big hit, and The Fiancé enjoyed taking slices of it to work for breakfast!  I hope you like it as much as we did!


Creamsicle Bundt Cake (heavily adapted from My Baking Heart)

Cheesecake layer
  • 16 oz cream cheese (reduced fat is fine), softened
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbl. flour
  • 1/4 c. whipped cream vodka

Cream together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Next, beat in the flour.  Finally, mix in the whipped cream vodka.  Set aside.

Cake layer
  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • 3 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2/3 c. orange juice (or orange soda)

Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Beat in the vanilla extract and the orange zest.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Stir about half of this into the butter mixture, until just combined.  Mix in the orange juice.  Finally, beat in the remaining flour mixture until just combined.

Pour about half of the cake batter into a greased bundt pan.  Top with the cheesecake batter.  Cover with remaining cake batter, and carefully smooth the cake batter over the top so that none of the cheesecake batter is showing.  Bake at 350*F for ~70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool completely, and remove cake from bundt pan.

Glaze
  • 3 c. powdered sugar 
  • 2 Tbl. melted butter
  • 3-4 Tbl. whipped cream vodka

Stir melted butter and about 2 Tbl. of whipped cream vodka into the powdered sugar.  Continue to add the whipped cream vodka, a little bit at a time, until glaze reaches a thick but pourable consistency.  Pour over top of the cooled cake.

Monday, April 22, 2013

War Cake

For our All In challenge this month, in honor of tax day, we were supposed to make something budget-friendly.  Budget-friendly isn't usually my strong suit, so I was brainstorming ideas with the Fiancé, and he suggested war cake.  I hadn't heard of it before, but Wikipedia tells me "Depression cake is a type of cake that was commonly made during the Great Depression. The ingredients include little or no milk, sugar, butter or eggs, because they were then either expensive or hard to get. Similar cakes are known as "War Cake," as they avoided ingredients that were scarce or were being conserved for the use of soldiers."  Sounds like it should fit the budget-friendly bill!

We used the Fiancé's mother's recipe, and sure enough, there was no milk or eggs in the recipe, but it did include shortening and sugar.  Thankfully, sugar is cheap these days and isn't being rationed, so that's not an issue.  As for the shortening, well, I apparently wasn't entirely "with it" while baking and completely forgot to add the shortening.  The cake turned out alright--a bit chewier than I'm used to and probably a bit drier than it would have been with the shortening, but still tasty.  So, feel free to leave it out, if you want, but I'd bet money that it's better with shortening.


We chose to frost the cake with cream cheese frosting because I love cream cheese frosting and any excuse to make/eat it, but you could just dust it with powdered sugar to keep things a little more budget-friendly.  The spices are also adaptable to what you have on hand, so you don't have to go out and buy spices--you could easily leave out the cloves, or substitute both the cloves and the cinnamon with 2 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice, or substitute some allspice, nutmeg, and/or ground ginger for one or both of the spices.  The rest of the ingredients are all relatively cheap, too, and this is a very simple cake to make, so it's a good one to keep in your back pocket for the next time you need an easy dessert.  As a bonus, it's vegan if you use vegetable shortening and skip the cream cheese frosting!  I hope you enjoy this cake as much as we did!

War Cake (recipe from Shirley)

  • 2 c. sugar
  • 2 c. water (if you're not trying to be so budget-friendly, sub 1/2 c. of the water with some spiced rum--yum!)
  • 1 lb raisins
  • 1/2 c. shortening
  • 3 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. salt

Combine the sugar, water, raisins, and shortening in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, and boil for 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat, and let the mixture cool a bit.

Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in a big bowl.  Add the cooled raisin mixture to the flour mixture, and stir until just combined.  Pour into a greased 9x13" cake pan.  Bake at 350*F for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Due to all the sugar in this cake, the cake will get VERY dark--don't let the color throw you!  It's not burning, I promise!  It's supposed to look like that.  Dust the cake with powdered sugar, OR frost with cream cheese frosting (recipe below).

Cream Cheese Frosting (adapted from my mom's recipe)

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened (full-fat, please!)
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 c. powdered sugar

Cream together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.  Beat in the vanilla.  Whip in the powdered sugar until no lumps remain and frosting is fluffy.  Spread on cake, and fight over who gets to lick the bowl.  ;)