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Posts Tagged ‘Dessert’

I’m pretty sure I have never had hummingbird cake anywhere other than my grandmother’s house. It is a very Southern, very simple cake. The cake only requires one bowl and no mixer and is very versatile. You can make a layer cake, a sheet cake, cupcakes or a bundt cake. Also, icing is optional! This cake becomes glorified banana bread without icing and could easily pass as a breakfast treat!

I have a constant supply of overripe bananas in my house. I usually freeze them for smoothies and oatmeal but recently I remembered my grandmother’s hummingbird cake and just had to make one. The perfect occasion arose when I was asked to bring a dessert to a family cookout.

No one had ever tried hummingbird cake before and it was a huge hit. Everyone asked for leftovers to take home. I even received the comment that every time I bring a cake to a family function it becomes the current favorite until the next cake I bring! Nice!

I opted to use the lightened version of this recipe and replaced a lot of the oil with applesauce. Usually, I don’t do this when baking cakes to take out but since this cake already features banana and pineapple, I thought the applesauce would be a nice healthier substitution. The sugar was cut back slightly in the recipe I followed but it could have been reduced even more.

Anyway you make this cake it is sure to be a hit. Next time you have overripe bananas and are looking for a change from traditional banana bread, this is your recipe!

One Year Ago: Easy Banana Muffins

Hummingbird Cake
(Recipe source Southern Living)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CAKE
Vegetable cooking spray
3 cups  plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups mashed banana (about 3 or 4)
1 1/2 teaspoons  vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained

FOR THE FROSTING
1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Directions:

FOR THE CAKE
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat three (8- or 9-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray; sprinkle 2 teaspoons flour evenly into pans and shake to coat.

Combine remaining 3 cups flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Mix together eggs, applesauce and oil. Add to the flour mixture and stir until dry ingredients are just moistened. (Do not beat. It will be lumpy.) Stir in mashed banana, vanilla extract, and pineapple. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.

Bake at 350 degrees  for 23 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool layers in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove layers from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

FOR THE FROSTING
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat together butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and slowly add powdered sugar until you reach desired consistency and taste.

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The peanut butter/chocolate combo and I go way back. I totally blame my dad for introducing me to Reese’s Cups at a young age. He later shared with me the magical creation that is a Dairy Queen Reese’s Blizzard (extra Reese’s, of course) and it all went downhill from there. If you were to look at my starred items in Google Reader you would see a downright embarrassing number of peanut butter and chocolate desserts. I just can’t help myself.

And let’s get real here. Yes, I am posting this recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispy Bars just three days after writing about abdominal exercises on my healthy living blog. So after you eat these bars, head on over to Peanut Butter Runner (so appropriately named) and try some new ab challenges. ;)

Just a reminder that I preach balance, balance, balance. Amen.

I was looking for a treat to bring to a beach weekend with friends. These bars seemed like something that would be easy for people to pick up when they were in the mood for something sweet. Everyone seemed to really enjoy them. I mean, how could you not!?

Despite having three layers, they were surprisingly easy to assemble. I loved that there was no baking involved and I did all of my chocolate melting in the microwave rather than on the stove top. The only downside was that they turned out not to be ideal for traveling in a hot car. They really needed to stay refrigerated and got a little melty on the trip down. Thankfully, they firmed back up in the fridge and no taste was compromised!

The crispy part of these bars is a little different. Instead of making your traditional Rice Krispies treat with marshmallows, you use corn syrup, water and sugar to make a sticky mixture to bind the Rice Krispies cereal together. I think that next time I will try the traditional method with marshmallows just for comparison. If I do, I will report back! (Don’t get me wrong, they are great as is!) And one last note, I doubled this recipe and made it in an 11 x 9 instead of an 8 x 8 pan.

I think these would be perfect to take to Fall football get-togethers. I promise they will disappear quickly and you will be the hit of the party for serving them!

One Year Ago: Sauteed Snapper with Cherry Tomatoes

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispy Bars
(Recipe source Cate’s World Kitchen, originally from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CRISPY CRUST
1 3/4 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons butter, melted

FOR THE PEANUT BUTTER LAYER
5 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup creamy peanut butter

FOR THE CHOCOLATE TOPPING
3 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions:

FOR THE CRUST
Spray an 8″ square pan with nonstick spray and set aside. Place cereal in a large bowl and set aside.

Mix together the sugar, corn syrup and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high. Insert a candy thermometer into the mixture and boil until it reaches 235 degrees F. Remove from heat, stir in melted butter, pour over the cereal and mix together. Press into prepared pan and let cool while you make the peanut butter layer.

FOR THE PEANUT BUTTER LAYER
Melt the milk chocolate and peanut butter together in the top of a double boiler over gently simmering water. Stir until smooth, then pour over the crust and chill for an hour in fridge or until set. Alternatively, melt chocolate and peanut butter together in the microwave on 50 percent power. Cook in 30 second intervals, stirring between until melted and continue with directions above.

FOR THE CHOCOLATE TOPPING:
Clean out the double boiler and place dark chocolate, corn syrup and butter in pot. Stir until smooth, over medium low heat. Alternatively, use the same microwave method as above. Cool for about 30 seconds (stirring constantly), then pour over the peanut butter layer, gently spreading. Chill in the fridge for another hour, or until topping has hardened. Cut into squares and serve.

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I love fig season but hate how short it is. I only had a few weeks this year to enjoy figs from my mother in law’s tree before they were ruined in a terrible storm (all of the fruit was bruised). I’m hoping we get a few more before the season is over but we’ll see. Fig season has been a big deal in my family for as long as I can remember. My dad used to pick buckets of them and make fig preserves every summer for my mom.

I came home from work one day last week and my mother in law had dropped off these Fresh Fig Bars. They were delicious. Kind of a cross between a Fig Newton and a traditional crumb bar. The fresh figs were truly the star of these bars.

I can’t wait to make these for my mom. I know she will love them. If you have access to fresh figs, these bars are a great way to use them!

One Year Ago: Fig Upside Down Cake (told ya I love fig season!)

Fresh Fig Bars
(Recipe adapted from Group Recipes)

Ingredients:

4 cups fresh figs
1 cup water
1 cup honey
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup butter (or shortening)
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 cups sifted flour
3 cups oats

Directions:

In a medium sauce pan, combine figs, water, honey, 1/4 teaspoon salt and lemon peel. Simmer about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Combine the 2 tablespoons of flour and water and stir into fig mixture. Let cook five minutes longer, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and walnuts.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 11 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray or butter.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, beat together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.

Combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and oats and fold into butter mixture. Pat half of oatmeal mixture into bottom of pan and spread fig filling evenly over. Sprinkle remainder of oatmeal mixture over the filling and press lightly with a fork.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool and then cut into squares and serve.

Yield: 16 squares

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Cobblers and crisps are the highlight of summer desserts for me. I love that so much fresh fruit is available,  that you can mix and match fruits based on what you have on hand and I love how easy they are to prepare. If I had to pick a favorite, it would definitely be peach cobbler. After all, I did grow up in Georgia!

The farmer’s markets here have been overflowing with South Carolina peaches. After a few weeks of eating peaches plain, with yogurt and on oatmeal, I developed quite a craving for peach cobbler with ice cream. I prefer cobblers with a biscuit topping rather than the pie crust topping and this recipe from Southern Living looked perfect for my peach cobbler craving.

It was very easy to assemble (like the name implies) and the most time intensive part of the whole process was peeling and slicing the peaches. I halved the original recipe because it would be trouble if we had a whole batch in the house! The half recipe was perfect for about five servings.

This peach cobbler was wonderful served warm with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream! I will be keeping this recipe on hand for when I need a quick cobbler fix!

One Year Ago: Grilled Fig and Prosciutto Pizza
Another Favorite Peach Dessert: Blueberry Peach Crisp

Easy Peach Cobbler
(Recipe source Southern Living)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup milk
4 cups fresh peach slices
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Ground cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Melt butter and pour into a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.

Combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Add milk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over butter (do not stir).

Bring remaining 1 cup sugar (I reduced this a bit – used more like 3/4 cup), peach slices and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Pour over batter (do not stir). Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg if desired.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve cobbler warm with ice cream.

Yield: 10 servings

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My mother in law celebrated a birthday last week and of course I volunteered to bring the cake. (Remember last year’s Coconut Cake with Lime Curd Filling?) Typically, the girls in the family prefer fruitier desserts while the guys are all about chocolate. I am firmly in the fruity cake camp so I knew that was the direction I wanted to go with this cake. I’ve mentioned before that I have a tough time deciding what to make (I will browse recipes for hours) so I was excited when my sister in law suggested a cake with fresh blueberries.

Luckily, my Google search for blueberry layer cake didn’t yield too many results. I trust anything that Epicurious posts on their site so I was sold on Blueberry Lemon Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting as soon as I saw it and noticed it received over 100 positive reviews.

I totally must disclose that this is not a light and fluffy cake. It’s pretty dense and I was scared to death when I was removing it from the pan and frosting it that everyone would hate it. I typically prefer a light, airy cake and this is not that. I was so surprised that it ended up being moist and the texture worked with this cake. Everyone really enjoyed the cake and raved over the flavor. My friend Catherine also made the cake for her mother in law’s birthday after reading about it on my healthy living blog, Peanut Butter Runner, and it was also a hit with her family.

The only modification that I made to the recipe was to increase the lemon zest in the batter and lemon juice in the frosting. I knew that I wanted a pronounced lemon flavor and some of the reviews suggested increasing the lemon. I will most definitely be baking this cake again. It’s such a fun (and ridiculously delicious) way to use fresh, local summer blueberries.

Make this before blueberry season ends! You’ll be happy you did! :)

One Year Ago: Coconut Cake with Lime Curd Filling

Blueberry Lemon Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
(Recipe source Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CAKE
2 cups plus 6 tablespoons cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel (double for a more pronounced lemon flavor)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs

FOR THE FROSTING
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar (I used a little less)
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel (I added 1 tablespoon of lemon juice for more lemon flavor)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
FOR THE CAKE
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 8- or 9-inch diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper and butter paper. Dust pans with flour and set aside.
Sift cake flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Transfer 1 tablespoon flour mixture to separate bowl and add fresh blueberries. Toss with flour to coat and set and blueberries and remaining flour mixture aside.

Stir together whole milk, vanilla extract and grated lemon peel in small bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using electric mixer, beat butter in until light and creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in flour mixture alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour. (Flour, milk, flour, milk, flour.) Gently fold in blueberries with a spatula. Divide batter equally among pans.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 23-25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks for 10 minutes and then run knife around pan sides to loosen. Turn cakes out onto racks to cool completely. Peel off parchment paper.

FOR THE FROSTING
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar (tasting as you go – you might not want all four cups of powdered sugar due to sweetness). Beat in lemon peel, juice if using and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until just firm enough to spread, about 30 minutes.

TO ASSEMBLE CAKE
Transfer one cake layer to platter. Spread 3/4 cup frosting over cake layer. Top with another cake layer; spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Top with third cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. (Cake can be prepared up to one day ahead of time, covered and refrigerated. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.) Decorate cake as desired and serve.

Yield: 10-12 servings

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Confession – I just finished a bowl of vanilla ice cream with a chopped Reese’s cup, chocolate syrup and caramel sauce. I’ve been thinking about blogging these Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars all day and my craving for peanut butter and chocolate was out of control. Craving satisfied. I can now blog about these delicious bars without wanting to eat the screen.

Do I even need to state that peanut butter and chocolate is one of my all-time favorite flavor combinations after the above commentary? I’m a bitembarrassed by the number of starred items in my Google Reader involving peanut butter and chocolate. This recipe was one of those items.

We went to a family reunion in the Western North Carolina mountains over the July Fourth weekend (read about it here and here). There were about 60 people in attendance and our family was in charge of dinner one night. I contributed these bars, brownies and oatmeal raisin cookies to the dessert spread.

These bars were incredible and definitely lived up to my high expectations. Of course, the first night I made them Brandon had to sample them warm with ice cream on top (a recurring theme if you read this blog!). I thought they were great plain. Don’t shy away from adding the salt to the recipe even if you’re using salted peanut butter. The salty/sweet flavor is part of what makes these so good. I will actually probably add a little extra salt next time.

I doubled the recipe to accommodate a 13 x 9 pan. They took quite a bit longer to cook than the original recipe stated so I would recommend checking them every five minutes after the suggested baking time until you reach your desired doneness.

This is definitely the best blondie-type recipe I’ve tried for peanut butter chocolate chip bars and I will be making them again in the future and plan on playing around with mix-ins next time (chopped Reese’s anyone!?).

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars
(Recipe source Bake at 350)

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup natural chunky peanut butter, salted or unsalted (I used Trader Joe’s chunky salted)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt (might want to add a bit more if using unsalted peanut butter)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease an 8 x 8 pan. (Note that I doubled the recipe and used a 13 x 9.)

Whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream butter and peanut butter together on medium speed until smooth. Beat in the sugars until mixture is lightened in color and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition and then add vanilla. Reduce mixer to low speed and slowly add in the flour mixture. Add the chocolate chips, stirring until combined.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 30-35 minutes. Remember, you might need additional baking time so just keep checking. Cool completely before cutting.

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Let’s get straight to the point. These are without a doubt the best homemade brownies I’ve ever had. Ever. They are chocolaty, fudgy, rich and indulgent. The best part about these brownies is that I didn’t have to make them! We visited my parents in Atlanta several months ago and my dad had these ready for us when we arrived. We actually had dinner reservations that night at Top Chef contestant Kevin’s restaurant, Woodfire Grill, but I couldn’t resist sampling them. Totally worth slightly spoiling my appetite over! :)

Over the course of the visit I ate my fair share of these brownies. We took the leftovers home with us and made them even more ridiculously indulgent by serving them sundae style with ice cream and chocolate syrup. There was no brownie left behind.

All brownie lovers must try this recipe – even if you usually rely on boxed mixes. They are truly outstanding and will put any boxed brownie mix to shame. I will admit that I used to use boxed brownie mixes until I realized several years ago how easy homemade brownies are and produce far tastier results. They are so worth the little bit of extra effort required!

Chewy, Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies
(Recipe source Cooks Illustrated, May 2000)

Ingredients :

5 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate , chopped
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into quarters
3 tablespoons cocoa powder (either Dutch-processed or natural cocoa works well in this recipe)
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

Directions:

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Fold two 12-inch pieces of foil lengthwise so that they measure 7 inches wide. Fit one sheet in bottom of greased pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan. Fit the second sheet in pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. The foil overhangs will help you lift the brownies out of the pan.

Place a medium heatproof bowl over a pan of almost-simmering water. Melt chocolates and butter, stirring occasionally until mixture is smooth. Whisk in cocoa until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. Alternatively, you can melt chocolates and butter in a microwave safe bowl. Cook on 50 percent power, stopping to stir ever 30 seconds, until mixture is smooth.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt until combined, about 15 seconds. Whisk warm chocolate mixture into egg mixture; then stir in flour with wooden spoon until just combined. Pour mixture into prepared pan, spread into corners and level surface with rubber spatula. Bake until slightly puffed and toothpick inserted in center comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs clinging to it, 35 to 40 minutes.

Completely cool brownies on a wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours. (This is a very crucial step – I know it’s hard but you have to let them completely cool!) Remove brownies from pan using foil handles. Cut into 1-inch squares and serve. (Do not cut brownies until ready to serve; brownies can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated up to 5 days.)

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