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Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

applecake1

One of my all-time favorite cakes is Apple Spice Cake. I loved when my mom baked them growing up. My favorite two desserts that she made were apple cake and banana pudding. I always requested them and my chances that she’d make them got a lot better when I moved away from home :).

Now that the weather is getting cooler and apples are coming into season I found myself craving an apple cake. The recipe my mom uses calls for a lot of vegetable oil and I decided to try a new recipe that featured butter instead. I researched recipes for a while and found this recipe from Cooking Light that sounded great and had received awesome reviews since it was originally printed in 1997. Now, I kind of disagree that this is a light recipe but if they say so…I guess I’ll let myself feel better about it. But how can a cake be light when the recipe includes a stick of butter and cream cheese?

All that matters is that this cake is so good I ended up baking it three times last week. Once for us, once for my sister-in-law (who is expecting her second soon!) and once for my mom. The cake received outstanding reviews from everyone. My sister-in-law texted me the day after it was dropped off and said she’d already had two pieces for dessert and one for breakfast. And she used it as a bargaining tool to get our niece to eat her meals. She said that Emerson loved it so much she would tell her she could have one bite of cake if she ate a bite of her dinner. And I’m very happy to report that my mom approved of the new recipe and even asked for it. So it was a success all around.

The directions call for baking this cake in a springform pan and it gives it a great height that you can’t get from a standard cake pan. I changed the recipe up a bit by changing the mixing method and adding extra cream cheese, nutmeg and chopped pecans. I think the pecans are a must in this cake.

This Apple Cinnamon Cake stays moist for days and is definitely a fall crowd pleaser.I admit that I ate it for breakfast and dessert! It’s delicious served warm with ice cream!

Apple Cinnamon Cake
(Recipe adapted from Cooking Light)

Ingredients:

1 1/2  cups  sugar, plus extra for cinnamon sugar mixture for pan
8 ounces (1 block) 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1/2  cup  butter (1 stick), softened
1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
2  large eggs
1 1/2 cups  all-purpose flour
1 1/2  teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus extra for cinnamon sugar mixture for pan
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons  baking powder
1/2 teaspoon  salt
1  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
3  cups chopped peeled Fuji apples (about 2 large)
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
Cooking spray

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together a little bit of cinnamon and sugar (about 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 3 tablespoons sugar). Grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter wrapper or cooking spray. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture and tap sides to evenly distribute. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt. Whisk together well to incorporate. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, place 1 1/2 cups sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Mix on medium high speed until lightened in color and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture to cream cheese mixture a little at a time, beating at low speed until well blended.

Mix in apples and pecans. Pour batter prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Yield: 12 servings

applecake

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pumpkincupcakes

Happy October everyone! It’s breast cancer awareness month!

Some of you know that Brandon and I recently moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. I accepted a temporary position with the American Cancer Society working on their Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. For the last four months I’ve been recruiting teams for Making Strides and raising awareness about the event in our community.

Despite being event staff, our office still wanted to raise money for the event. We organized a bake sale the week before the walk and it was a huge hit in our building. Everyone was very excited about the goodies and about raising funds for breast cancer. We were so amazed by the generosity that was shown.

bakesaleteam

I decided to make pumpkin cupcakes to give everyone a little taste of fall. While researching recipes these Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting from Smitten Kitchen sounded awesome. They were delicious and received great feedback. I even had a co-worker ask for the recipe to make for Thanksgiving dessert.

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer was held on September 26 in Charlotte and I’m happy to report that we had over 4,000 walkers and raised over $265,000 for the fight against breast cancer! Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is held in communities nationwide. Check out the Web site here.

And here is the recipe for the pumpkin cupcakes…

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
(Recipe source Smitten Kitchen, who adapted the recipe from David Leite)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CAKE
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (100% pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling)
Cupcake liners

FOR THE FROSTING
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Directions:

FOR THE CAKE
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with 18 liners.

In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy and lightened in color, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt salt in a medium bowl.

Reduce mixer speed to medium low and add eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition. Alternate adding the flour and milk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat in the pumpkin until mixture is smooth. Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full. Rap the filled pans once on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on racks completely before frosting.

FOR THE FROSTING
Beat all ingredients in a stand mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Frost cupcakes.

Yield: 18 cupcakes

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Jamwich Cookies

vdaycookies

I wanted to take Valentine’s treats to work last Friday. I decided to make two types of cookies – one tried and true standby and something new and Valentine’s themed. For my tried and true I went with The Chewy – who doesn’t like chocolate chip cookies? I decided to go with the Sweetheart Jamwich for my Valentine’s-themed cookie. The combination of pie crust, sweetened cream cheese, jam and white chocolate sounded great.

These cookies were fun to make and a big hit in the treat bags! They are easily adaptable for other holidays and occasions by using a different shape cookie cutter.

Sweetheart Jamwiches
(Recipe source Southern Living)

Ingredients:

1  (15-oz) package refrigerated piecrusts (or homemade)
1  egg white, lightly beaten
2  tbsp  granulated sugar
1  (3-oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/4  cup  powdered sugar
2  tbsp  butter, softened
1/2  tsp  almond extract
1/2  (10-oz) jar seedless raspberry preserves or strawberry jam
1/2  cup  white chocolate morsels
1  tablespoon  butter
Red sparkling sugar (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Unfold piecrusts on a lightly floured surface and roll to press out fold lines. Cut with a 2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter. Reroll remaining dough, and repeat procedure. (There should be a total of 46 pastry hearts.) Place pastry hearts on 2 ungreased baking sheets. Brush 1 side of each pastry heart with egg white, and sprinkle evenly with granulated sugar.

Bake for 7 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove hearts to wire racks, and let cool.

Stir together cream cheese, powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, and almond extract until blended.

Spread cream cheese mixture evenly on unsugared sides of half the hearts; spread about 1/2 teaspoon preserves over mixture. Top with remaining hearts, unsugared sides down.

Microwave white chocolate morsels and 1 tablespoon butter in a glass bowl at HIGH 1 minute or until melted. Stir until smooth. Place mixture in a small heavy-duty zip-top bag; seal bag. Snip a tiny hole in 1 corner of bag, and drizzle over tarts. Sprinkle with red sparkling sugar, if desired.

Yield: 23 cookies

vdaycookiesingle

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individualcinnroll

I got the urge to make cinnamon rolls last Saturday and I couldn’t stop thinking about them all day. After my 13 mile training run, I certainly felt like I could splurge on cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Sunday.

I think my favorite part about deciding to make something is the search for the perfect recipe. I probably spent an hour browsing cinnamon roll recipes online. I finally decided on a recipe from The Way the Cookie Crumbles. This is one of the blogs I follow regularly and I love her scientific approach. I knew if Bridget had been trying to perfect her cinnamon roll recipe for years, it must be good.

The dough came together really quickly and was so easy to work with. I put it all together and left it to rise while we went out for sushi. After dinner, Brandon and I had fun rolling them out and putting them together. We couldn’t wait for breakfast the next morning!

Once assembled, we left them to rise overnight in the refrigerator. It was so nice to get up Sunday morning and have breakfast already taken care of. All I had to do was make the glaze.

Next time, I will probably add a little more salt to the dough. For whatever reason, I like well-salted baked goods – especially anything bread-like. I would also add more butter in the cinnamon filling. And last, I think I’d do more of a cream cheese glaze. I added more than the recipe called for but I still would have liked more. It’s all up to your taste!

All in all, the texture of the roll was amazing. This is a really easy dough to work with and a great treat for a weekend morning.

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Cinnamon Rolls
(Recipe from The Way the Cookie Crumbles)

Ingredients:

DOUGH
½ cup whole milk
7 tbsp unsalted butter (I used salted and left out the 1 1/2 tsp salt, next time I will still add the salt)
½ cup warm water (about 110-115 degrees)
1 envelope (2¼ teaspoons yeast)
¼ cup (1¾ ounce) sugar
1 large egg, plus 2 large egg yolks
1 ½ tsp salt
4-4 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface

FILLING
¾ cup packed (5¼ ounces) light brown sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp melted butter (next time I will add a little more butter – maybe 2 or 3 tbsp, to taste)

GLAZE
1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted to remove lumps
2-4 ounces cream cheese, softened (to taste)
½ tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp milk, until you reach your desired consistency

Directions:

Heat the milk and butter in the microwave until the butter melts. Remove from microwave and set aside until the mixture is lukewarm (about 100 degrees).

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, mix together the water, yeast, sugar, egg, and yolks at low speed until well mixed. Add the salt, warm milk mixture, and 2 cups of the flour and mix at medium speed until thoroughly blended, about 1 minute. Switch to the dough hook, add another 2 cups of the flour, and knead at medium speed (adding up to ¼ cup more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary) until the dough is smooth and freely clears the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a round, place it in a very lightly oiled large bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, 1½ to 2 hours. (Especially in the winter, I like to let my dough rise in the oven. I find that the kitchen is a little too cool. I turn the oven to warm for a few seconds, switch it off and then put the bowl of dough in.)

After the dough has doubled in bulk, press it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, shape the dough into a 16 by 12-inch rectangle, with a long side facing you. Mix together the filling ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough, leaving a ½-inch border at the far edges. Roll the dough, beginning with the long edge closest to you and using both hands to pinch the dough with your fingertips as you roll. Moisten the top border with water and seal the roll. Lightly dust the roll with flour and press on it ends if necessary to make a uniform 16-inch cylinder. Using a sharp, serrated knife, cut the roll in 12 equal pieces and place the rolls cut-side up into a greased 13 x 9 baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, 1½ to 2 hours. (This is where you have the option of letting them rise overnight in the refrigerator.)

When the rolls are almost fully risen, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. (If you left them in the fridge overnight, let them come to room temprature before baking.) Bake the rolls until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of one reads 185 to 188 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the glaze ingredients together until smooth. Glaze the rolls and serve.

cinnamonrollsiced

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