Saturday, November 29, 2008

November Daring Baker Challenge

My first challenge completed! :)

This month we made a delicious Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater ( You can find the recipe at … he-recipe/.

I really enjoyed making this cake because I was "challenged" to do some things I had never done before - make caramel syrup and browned butter. My first batch of caramel syrup burned, so I had to start over and the second batch was much better. I was pleasantly surprised by the caramel flavor (I was curious as to how much it would shine through in the cake). The cupcakes turned out moist but dense, and the frosting was very sweet but delicious!

Hosting this month was Dolores (, along with Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo:, Jenny of Foray into Food (, and Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go (

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pineapple Carrot Cake

My husband and I have been on a cupcake kick lately. We went to a local bakery and tried out 6 of their cupcakes - but they were out of carrot cake when I went. So, of course, I have been craving a carrot cupcake ever since. I got an awesome new muffin pan from my sister for my birthday from Williams Sonoma, and I needed to break it in so these were the perfect excuse. This cake is very moist (I think the crushed pineapple helps) and dense and tastes fabulous.

Pineapple Carrot Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups finely shredded carrots
1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
½ cup coconut
1 cup cooking oil
4 eggs

1. Grease and lightly flour two round baking pans (or use cupcakes pans like I did)
2. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add carrots, pineapple, coconut, oil, and eggs. Beat with an electric mixer till combined. Pour batter into the pans.
3. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool layer cakes on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans. Cool thoroughly on wire racks. Frost with cream cheese frosting. Cover and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 3 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter or margarine, softened
2 tsp vanilla
2 ½ to 2 ¾ cups powdered sugar

1. Beat together two 3 oz. packages cream cheese, softened; ½ cup butter or margarine, softened; and 2 tsp vanilla till light and fluffy. Gradually beat in 2 ½ to 2 ¾ cups additional sifted powdered sugar to reach spreading consistency. Then frost tops and sides of two 8 or 9 inch layers. Cover and store cake in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Berry Bread Pudding

The other day when I was at Costco I bought a container of raspberries. Simply because they looked good. I had no idea at the time how I was going to use them, but I came across this recipe for Berry Bread Pudding. It calls for mixed berries, but I decided to go for only raspberries. I was a little skeptical about the lemon fondant after I made it because it was extremely lemony and tart. After tasting it I have to say that the raspberries and lemon were perfect complements to the sweetness of the bread pudding. I will definitely be making this again.

Berry Bread Pudding

Butter, room temperature
4 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for dusting and topping
4 large slices brioche bread (I used challah because I couldn't find brioche)
2 cups mixed berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries), plus more for garnish

Lemon Fondant
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 lemon, zested and juiced


Butter and sugar 6 (6-ounce) ramekins.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and sugar. Combine well with a whisk - then let it settle so there are no air bubbles on the surface otherwise these will cause lumps in your anglaise.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Tear the brioche up into large pieces using your hands, add to the custard mixture and toss to combine. Equally divide the berries among the ramekins and top with the bread mixture. Gently press down so they are packed evenly. Sprinkle with more sugar, then refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes to let soak.

Bake for 25 minutes in the center of the oven. The pudding is ready when it has puffed up and the custard is set. The top should be a nice golden color. Remove and allow to cool slightly.

Make the fondant. In a mixing bowl combine sifted powdered sugar, water, lemon zest and juice.

Once the pudding has cooled slightly, invert onto an individual serving plate. Drizzle the lemon fondant over warm bread pudding and serve with extra fresh berries.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fondue Party

We had some friends over on Halloween for our very own fancy fondue party. We have had a tradition of going to our local cities Restaurant Week, but because two of us had babies recently, we decided to do our own dinner at home.

Everything was fabulous - we had cheese fondue with bread, cauliflower, carrots, and apples. The second course was Coq Au Vin with chicken, steak, shrimp, and veggies galore. I was in charge of the chocolate fondue and decided to go with a peanut butter chocolate fondue. I was pleased with the result - it was not too sweet, had a bit of excitement with the peanut butter, and it was delicious!

For dippers we had strawberries, bananas, marshmallows, cheesecake, and pound cake. I made the cheesecake using my trusted recipe that has never failed me. Not even once. And the pound cake was a new experience for me. The taste was good, but it was a bit dry for me - I think it was mostly because I made it in two loaf pans instead of a tube pan and was unsure of how long to cook it.

The recipes I used are posted below. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Fondue

1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate disks (I used Dilettante)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter

Combine all ingredients and put into a double broiler. Stir until melted and smooth.


4 8 oz. packages Philadelphia cream cheese at room temp
1 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs at room temp


2 c graham cracker crumbs (12 whole graham crackers) – set 2 tbsp aside for topping
1/3 c sugar
1/3 c butter melted

In processor blend 3 ingredients for crust until they become a clumpy ball. Dump them into the spring-form pan (10 inch - preferred, or 9 inch) and press them to about 2 inches up the side. Set the crust aside.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wipe out processor bowl, add cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Blend together until creamy. Pour over crust.

Bake in middle of oven for 60-70 minutes. Wrap bottom of spring-form pan with foil, so if the butter leaks, it won’t drip and make smoke in the oven.

Test for doneness by jiggling the pan – done when center jiggles, but doesn’t wobble (across the whole cheesecake).

Remove from oven, and cool for at least 1 hour.

Tip: To avoid the crack down the middle of the cheesecake, cool slowly by turning off oven, leave the cheesecake in the oven until it all comes to room temperature (about 4-5 hours).

Pound Cake

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
3 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups all-purpose flour
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the sour cream and mix until incorporated. Sift the baking soda and flour together. Add to the creamed mixture alternating with eggs, beating each egg 1 at a time. Add the vanilla and pour the mixture into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Girl Scout Cookies

When girl scout cookie season rolls around, my husband and I become a bit obsessive. I want to stock the pantry with enough thin mints and samoas to last us the whole year. This year when we went to the local grocery store to buy our supply, we made the girl scouts' day by buying about 10 boxes. I remember them saying, "That's the most we've ever sold to one person!" What a proud moment.

I came across this recipe from Baking Bites for homemade samoas. I had to try them out to decide whether or not they were as good as the real thing.

The conclusion? No, they're not. But they're pretty good if you've got that craving. My husband liked that the shortbread cookies in this recipe were crisper then in the real samoas. They were a bit of work but they were fun to try out. Oh, and I had to search high and low for the Werther's chewy caramels - either the stores didn't carry them or they were out of stock.

Peach Cobbler

I've been on a bit of a hiatus, but I'm back. And I've still been baking away, just haven't been posting.

My favorite time of year has to be the fall - I love the crisp fall air, the beautiful red, orange, and yellow leaves, and most of all I LOVE PEACHES! So here's a peach cobbler I made a while back. It's called Brigham City Peach Cobbler, and it's oh so good! I like to make the cobber in ramekins so that everyone gets their own individual serving. Here's the recipe!

Brigham City Peach Cobbler

3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1 tsp almond extract
4 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp butter
1 cup flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
Ice cream or whipped topping (optional)

For filling, in a large saucepan combine brown sugar and cornstarch. Stir in water. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add almond extract. Stir in peaches, lemon juice, and the 1 tbsp butter; heat through and keep warm while preparing topping.

For topping, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the 1/4 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a separate bowl combine egg and milk; add all at once to flour mixture, stirring just to moisten. Turn hot filling into a greased 1 1/2 or 2 quart casserole dish, or 6 ramekins. Bake at 400 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes. Makes 6 servings. This recipe also works well with 4 cups fresh raspberries or blackberries, or a combination of raspberries and peaches.