Monday, October 24, 2011

Apple Cider Pudding Cake

My kids and I drove out to an apple orchard last week to meet up with some friends. There's just something about picking apples off of a tree and freshly pressed cider from an apple orchard that just say Fall to me. And this pudding cake from Mel's Kitchen Cafe? It looks, tastes, and smells like Fall. Not to mention that it will make your house smell oh-so-good.

I love the mix of textures you get when you bite into this cake. First you have the sweet buttery crunchy streusel topping. Then you've got the moist cake. Next up is soft, caramelized apples. Finish it off with a cinnamon spice pudding and you've got yourself a winner.

It's recommended that you eat it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and you really can't go wrong doing this. But I actually kind of enjoyed it cold for breakfast. Either way, you will not be sorry.

Apple Cider Pudding Cake
from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
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1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 large egg
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups chopped Granny Smith apples

Boiling Mixture:
1 cup apple cider (apple juice can be substituted if apple cider can't be found)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cold butter

Butter an 8x8 inch square baking dish. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, 1 cup brown sugar, milk, melted butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients until just combined. Gently fold in apples. Spread in prepared pan.

In a small saucepan, bring apple cider, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 cup brown sugar to a boil. Pour slowly and carefully over the batter. Bake for 35 minutes. Meanwhile, cut butter into streusel ingredients with a fork or pastry blender until butter is cut up and mixture is crumbly. After the cake has baked for 35 minutes, sprinkle streusel topping evenly over the cake and bake 8-10 minutes more (until a toothpick inserted into the top layer of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs).

Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Classic Chocolate Cupcakes

Thanks to my friends over at Williams-Sonoma, I found out that today is National Chocolate Cupcake Day. I immediately told my husband who responded with, "Are we celebrating?" Um, yeah!

I set out to find the perfect recipe, and I think this is pretty darn close. The cake is perfectly moist and light, and the chocolate flavor is spot on. And the frosting. Oh, the frosting. It is genius. I'll be honest when I say that I have never combined chocolate and cream cheese in a frosting before. Where on earth have I been?! I, lover of all things cream cheese, was blown away. I don't know that I can ever go back. And I now have a go-to chocolate cupcake recipe. All in all I'd say it was a pretty successful day!

I wanted to hurry and get this posted before the day is over so that you all can get yourself a chocolate cupcake to celebrate. Enjoy!

Classic Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes and Annie's Eats
Makes 24 cupcakes
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½ cup plus 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon hot water
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 sticks plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 2/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
¾ cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and hot water and whisk until smooth. In another medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and whisk to blend.

Combine the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is smooth and the butter is completely melted. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-low speed until the mixture is cool, about 4-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing each addition just until incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Let cool in the pan about 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Frosting

9.3 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 oz cream cheese, room temperature
6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4 tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tsp sour cream

Melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Set aside to cool until just barely warm. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Gradually mix in the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Beat in the melted and cooled chocolate and then the sour cream. Continue beating until the mixture is smooth and well blended. Frost cupcakes immediately.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

There is nothing like waking up to some fresh, hot-out-of-the-oven cinnamon rolls. But really, who has the time to make the dough, let it rise, roll it out and shape it, let it rise again, and then bake it in the morning? Not I.

I really wanted some cinnamon rolls for breakfast, but I wanted them to be freshly baked. I vaguely remembered that Alton Brown had a recipe for some overnight cinnamon rolls. His method still takes some time in the morning, approximately an hour and a half. But with a little prep work the night before and some inactive work in the morning, we had some tender, sweet, cinnamon rolls to enjoy on this crisp October morning.

I used an 18 by 13 inch jelly roll pan because I wanted them to be spaced apart so all of the rolls would have an outer crust. If you prefer to have some with a crust and some without, just use a 9 by 13 inch pan. Either way, they are delightful.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from Alton Brown
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4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 large whole egg, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
6 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
1 package instant dry yeast, approximately 2 1/4 teaspoons
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
Vegetable oil or cooking spray

1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted, using some to butter your pan
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

For the dough: in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, and buttermilk. Add approximately 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; whisk until moistened and combined. Remove the whisk attachment and replace with a dough hook. Add all but 3/4 cup of the remaining flour and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Check the consistency of the dough, add more flour if necessary; the dough should feel soft and moist but not sticky. Knead on low speed 5 minutes more or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand about 30 seconds. Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough, cover and let double in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Set aside until ready to use.

Butter an 18 by 13-inch jelly roll pan (a 9x13 glass pan can be used as well). Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently shape the dough into a rectangle with the long side nearest you. Roll into an 18 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the 3/4-ounce of melted butter, leaving 1/2-inch border along the top edge. Sprinkle the filling mixture, walnuts, and raisins over the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge; gently press the filling into the dough. Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the seam to seal and roll the cylinder seam side down. Very gently squeeze the cylinder to create even thickness. Using a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 1 1/2-inch rolls; yielding 12 rolls. Arrange rolls cut side down in the baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight or up to 16 hours.

Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place in an oven that is turned off. Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full of boiling water and set on the rack below the rolls. Close the oven door and let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy; approximately 30 minutes. Remove the rolls and the shallow pan of water from the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

When the oven is ready, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, approximately 25 minutes.

While the rolls are cooling slightly, make the icing by whisking the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Sift in the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Spread over the rolls and serve immediately.