Spicy Kitchen Sink Cookies

Spicy Kitchen Sink Cookies

The concept of a kitchen sink cookie is simple: you put everything in but the kitchen sink. It is one of those recipes that works with almost anything and everything you have in your baking pantry. This means it is a great recipe to keep in your pocket when a baking emergency comes up, i.e an impromptu party or impromptu house guests.

For my version of kitchen sink cookies I use a combination that I find is well balanced, salty, sweet, and spicy. For salt I throw in pretzels and kettle cooked chips, kettle cooked so they retain their crunchiness. The sweet comes from butterscotch and chocolate chips. Finally, the spicy from some chipotle roasted peanuts.

If you do not have spicy peanuts you can throw red pepper into the cookie mix, roast your own peanuts in a spice mixture, or simply use plain peanuts.

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The cookie base for the recipe is heavy in brown sugar and butter, which results a gooier more buttery cookie. In my book, the ultimate cookie is one that is cooked on the outside and still gooey on the center. The trick to a perfect texture is twofold, chilling the butter before baking and under baking the cookie. I take the cookies out of the oven when the edges just start to brown then I let them cool on the cookie sheet.

Chilling your cookie dough before baking it prevents the butter from spreading too much during baking. If the butter spreads too much the finished cookies will be thin and not thick and tender.

This recipe would also be delicious as a chocolate chip cookie using only chocolate chips as the add-in. And of course, I recommend a large glass of ice cold milk to accompany your fresh out of the oven warm cookies.

This cookie may be the strangest, most delicious, and well balanced cookie I have ever eaten.

For more tips on cookie making, see this post.

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Spicy Kitchen Sink Cookies

Spicy Kitchen Sink Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 Sticks of Butter, softened
  • 1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup of Sugar
  • 2 1/2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 Cup of Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 Cup of Butterscotch Chips
  • 1 Cup of Kettle Cooked Chips
  • 1/2 Cup of Pretzels, crushed
  • 1/2 Cup of Spicy Peanuts

Instructions

  1. With your stand mixer on medium speed, cream together your sugars and softened butter. Mix until well combined.
  2. Next add in the eggs and egg yolk. Pour in eggs one at a time, mixing until well combined.
  3. Add in the vanilla extract, mixing until well combined.
  4. In a bowl combine the flour, salt, and baking powder.
  5. Pour the flour mixture into mixing bowl a little at a time. Continue to mix cookie dough until fully combined.
  6. Once cookie mixture is fully mixed, add in the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, pretzels, chips, and peanuts.
  7. Mix the cookie dough over low speed until the add-ins are broken up and well distributed. This should take no more than 1 minute.
  8. Cover the cookie mixture well and place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. This will prevent too much spreading.
  9. While the cookie dough chills, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fairenhiet.
  10. Prepare each cookie sheet with a layer of parchment paper.
  11. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden on the edges. If you are baking more than one cookie sheet at a time, it will take approximately 15 minutes for the cookies to bake.
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Chai Milk Cake

Chai Milk Cake

Being able to bake a cake is the cornerstone of becoming a good baker–especially an at-home baker. But if you are anything like me (I have been baking since my teenage years), you may feel as though you have baked every type of cake there is. After enough time you start pulling away from baking the same old cakes, and bake new and exiting things. At least until a new and exciting cake idea comes along.

A few weeks ago I read about the idea of a milk cake and was thrilled – I found a cake I have never made before.

The concept is simple. Much like a tres leches cake, you bake a dense cake then soak it in flavored milk. The result is half custard, half super moist cake. The milk mixture for the soak is similar to that of a tres leches, but you take the time to flavor the cream by heating it up and steeping it.

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Like many of my recipes, you can steep the milk with anything. Any tea, honey, cinnamon, vanilla–the list is endless.

Within the last year I have started to like chai tea. The spicy flavors of chai tea steeped in the milk soak would be the perfect balance to a sweet and sticky cake. I carried the flavor of the chai tea into the topping for the cake.

Again, this cake would pair well with many toppings, whipped cream, caramel, and most fruits. I chose to make a fig, apricot, golden raisin compote to keep with the theme of warm winter flavors.

After testing the recipe out, I served it at a quaint little dinner party last weekend. I normally find fault in my own baked goods but could not find much fault in this cake. The cake did not last through the weekend.

Chai Milk Cake

Chai Milk Cake

Ingredients

  • For the Compote:
  • 2 Cups of Water
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Honey
  • 1 Chai Tea Bag
  • 1/2 Cup of Dried Apricots, quartered
  • 1/2 Cup of Dried Figs, quartered
  • 1/2 Cup of Golden Raisins
  • 1/2 Vanilla Bean
  • 2 Tablespoons of Whiskey
  • For the Cake:
  • 2 Sticks of Butter, softened
  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1 1/2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 of a Vanilla Bean
  • 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Cup of Whole Milk
  • For the Soak:
  • 1 - 12 Ounce Can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 - 15 Ounce Can of Evaporated Milk
  • 1 Cup of Heavy Cream
  • 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 5 Chai Tea Bags

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the water, honey, and 1 chai tea bag. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Next stir in the raisins, figs, apricots, whiskey, and the scrapings from the inside of the vanilla bean.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the mixture for 5 minutes before removing the tea bag.
  4. Cook the mixture for an additional 10 minutes, or until the liquid turns to a light syrup.
  5. Set the mixture aside to cool before serving.
  6. For the cake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan and set aside for later.
  7. In your stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This takes about 5 minutes.
  8. Slowly add in the eggs, one at a time, until fully combined and the mixture is fluffy.
  9. Combine all of your dry ingredients, then slowly sift in one-half of the dry mixture into the butter mixture. Mix until combined.
  10. Next add in the milk, vanilla extract, and the scraped inside of the vanilla pod. Mix until combined.
  11. Finally, add the remaining one-half of the dry mixture, mixing until fully combined.
  12. Pour the cake batter into your prepared cake pan and bake on the middle rack for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  13. Once your cake is baked, remove it from the oven and let it cool.
  14. While the cake cools, prepare your chai milk soak mixture.
  15. In a small saucepan, combine all of the ingredients for your milk soak.
  16. Over medium heat, bring the mixture close to a simmer, then turn off the heat. Allow the tea to steep uncovered for 10 minutes.
  17. After they have steeped, remove the tea bags from milk mixture.
  18. Turn out your cake onto its serving tray. Gently pour your milk mixture onto the cake.
  19. The soak will not fully absorb initially, so spoon any extra soak back onto the cake before serving.
  20. Serve the cake with the compote. The cake will last one day.
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Finsihed soaked cake topped with compote

 

Lemon & Cream Cheese Babka

Lemon & Cream Cheese Babka

I will be the first to admit that I am not a professional baker. I have baked for many, many years, but am in no way at the level of professional. I have just as many bad days in the kitchen as good ones.

This is especially true when it comes to yeast. Yeast is my kryptonite.
Anytime I go into the kitchen with plans to bake yeast risen bread, I am fully prepared to have the bake come out wrong. The silver lining is that you can always learn by messing up.

This past weekend may have been my worst weekend in the kitchen to date. I decided to challenge myself by attempting a Babka. A Babka is a traditional Jewish sweet yeast risen bread that is swirled with chocolate or cinnamon. The bread dough itself is basically a brioche dough. Technically speaking, it is medium of the difficulty of yeast breads.

Three days and four attempts is what it took to get this recipe right. I threw out two doughs and one finished loaf before the fourth and final loaf came out soft and pillow-like. So you do not make the same mistakes, I wanted to share what I learned from my experience. What else is a blog good for?

As for the filling, (per usual) I did not want to take the traditional route. My husband’s grandmother gave me a some homegrown lemons. Her lemon tree yielded for the first time this winter. Lemon is the perfect pick-me-up during the cold months when we lack sun and fresh ingredients. I juiced and zested them, combined them with softened cream cheese, then rolled the mixture up into the dough. My poor husband had to go to the store to get me more cream cheese after I threw out my third attempt.

The finished loaf is delightfully sweet, with a hint of tang. I think a glob of raspberry jelly would adorn a slice of fresh baked lemon cream cheese babka perfectly.

Several slices of lemon cream cheese babka sitting on a wood tray

What I learned throwing out three batches of babka dough:

Batch one and two:

  • Always check your yeast. Yeast will last in the fridge, but of course not forever. Instead of wasting your time making an entire batch of dough to only realize that it will not rise, take the first 5 minutes and make sure the yeast you are using is alive. It is simple, always bloom your yeast in warm water or milk (depending on the recipe). If it sits for 5-10 minutes and it is not bubbly…your yeast is bad. If it is bubbly…it is living!
  • Make sure your ingredients are not cold. If you know you are baking with yeast, set out your eggs, flour (if you store it in the fridge), etc in advance to ensure it is they are room temperature. Cold items will slow down the growth of your yeast. Just like a warm environment will speed up the yeast’s growth.

Batch three:

  • Kneed your dough for longer that you think. Let me explain: Written recipes have various times for kneading dough with a stand mixer. Truly you can only tell when a dough is ready by touch or sight. Just because a recipe says knead for 5 minutes, does not mean that dough will be ready to rise after 5 minutes of kneading. It is easiest to tell when a dough is ready by kneading it by hand. If that is not you (me either), then you must look at your dough to see if it has been kneaded enough. If the recipe says the dough should “pull away from the bowl and form a soft smooth dough”, then make sure it does just that. Otherwise your finished bread will be more like cake than bread.
  • It often takes longer than the recipe says to let your dough double during a rise. Each home and each region is different. For example, I live in the deep south where it is humid. So during the summer it may take less time for my dough to rise. Right now it is dead of winter, and it took a bit longer for my dough to rise to double. My house was very cold. The moral of the story–watch your dough and only move on to the next step when the dough has actually doubled. Do not simply let it sit for the time designated in the recipe.
  • This is babka specific. Some methods call for slicing your rolled up dough down the middle then twisting it. Next, you stuff it into your bread pan to allow it to rise. The finished loaf has exposed filling on the top. The slicing method works great for certain fillings, but not all fillings. Cinnamon sugar or chocolate are ideal, cream cheese is not ideal to cook exposed to the heat of your oven. For my version I used a different method, I did not slice the dough. I rolled it up then twisted it together before placing it in the loaf pan. This way the filling stayed inside of the bread without being directly exposed to the heat of the oven. Consider the method of babka rolling you want to use based upon the type of filling you stick in your babka. Literally you can stuff anything inside a babka, sweet or savory.Upclose picture of the inside of the lemon swirrled babka

Lemon & Cream Cheese Babka

Lemon & Cream Cheese Babka

Ingredients

  • For the dough:
  • 3 Cups of All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup of Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of Warm Milk, between 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of Yeast
  • Zest from 1 Lemon
  • 1 Stick of Butter, softened
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of Salt
  • For the filling:
  • 1 Eight Ounce Block of Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1/4 Cup of Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl bloom your yeast: Pour in warm milk then sprinkle your yeast over the top. Do not stir. Allow the yeast to bloom for approximately 5 minutes, or until small bubbles form.
  2. While you yeast blooms, prepare your stand mixer. In the mixing bowl, with a dough hook attached, combine your flour and sugar.
  3. After you yeast has bloomed, pour it into the flour mixture. Turn you stand mixer on low and allow it to begin mixing.
  4. Next add in your eggs and vanilla. Mix until it all comes together. If the mixtures looks too dry and crumbly add in more milk.
  5. Turn you mixer up to medium and add in your butter one tablespoon at a time. Let each piece of butter fully incorporate before adding the next. When you are ready to add in the last piece of butter, pour in your salt as well.
  6. Knead the dough on medium speed for approximately 10 minutes, or until a smooth elastic dough that pulls away from the side of the bowl forms.
  7. Place the finished dough in a bowl that is coated in cooking spray, then spray cooking spray over the top of the dough. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  8. Allow the dough to rise, in a draft free place, for approximately 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.
  9. While you dough rises, create your filling.
  10. In a small bowl, zest and juice your lemon.
  11. Next, whisk in the remaining ingredients to the lemon filling until the mixture is smooth and fully combined. Set aside, covered, until ready to use.
  12. Once the dough has doubled, gently turn it out onto a heavily floured surface.
  13. With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to create a 16x12 inch rectangle.
  14. Spread your lemon cream cheese filling onto the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch space around the outside of the dough.
  15. Starting at the short side, roll up your dough like you would a jelly roll. Press the ends into the roll to seal.
  16. Fold your roll in half, then twist the halves around itself at least four times.
  17. Place the loaf into a greased bread pan. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise to double. At least 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.
  18. Once doubled, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fairenhiet.
  19. Bake the bread for 30 minutes on the middle rack. After 30 minutes, bake it for an additional 30 minutes covered in aluminum foil to avoid over browning.
  20. A thermometer in the middle should read 190 degrees. If after an hour of baking the middle is not done, cook the loaf for an additional 10 minutes.
  21. Let bread cool before slicing.
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Salted Caramel Filled Kouign Amann

Salted Caramel Filled Kouign Amann

My latest Connect Savannah food feature on The Topiary Cake Design (I will post the article this week) reminded me just how much I love to bake. So this week I told myself I would get back into the kitchen and practice what I love.

I am not going to sugar coat it–I have been slacking in the blog/baking/cooking department. The holidays drained me, especially considering how much of an introvert I tend to be. I truly have no excuse considering my Christmas decorations and house have been cleaned since the day after Christmas. Truly, I have just been lazy.

Going back into the kitchen needed to start with a bang. I have been baking since I was young, so an intermediate pastry recipe would be a great challenge.

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For those who do not know the difference in pastries verses regular baked goods let me explain. Unlike cakes, breads, or other common baked goods, making a pastry refers to a very specific type of dough or baked item that is created using a sweet dough. For example, when you make a pie crust for a pie, you are making a pastry. Other common pastries include croissants, eclairs, macarons, profiteroles, tart shells, and Kouign Amann. The dough for making a pastry is commonly made with flour, fat, sugar, and water, which you can see is very different than the dough for making a bread. The tricky part in making a proper pastry comes with the type of pastry for which you opt—for example croissants require a process called lamination. Lamination is the folding in of cold butter to create layers. It takes many hours and proper technique to succeed.

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You may be asking, what the heck is a Kougin Amann? By far it is one of the most delicious pastries put on this earth. Originating in France, the time consuming bite sized croissant and brioche cross is made with a ton of butter, which is to be expected with a French pastry. The end result of folding cold butter into your dough (laminating), then slicing it, coating it in coarse sugar, and smashing it into muffin tins creates a sweet crunchy flaky palm sized treat. The best part, the technique of using a muffin pan leaves a large hole in the center of the pastry, perfect for filling your Kougin Amann with anything you desire.

My selection was salted caramel. The butter used to create the layers of your Kougin Amann bring saltiness to the pastry, so why not complement the overall flavor of the baked good by amplifying its qualities with a salty-sweet filling.

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I will warn you, this recipe is not for a beginner. It takes patience and love to get through the process. I do not want to discourage anyone from trying the recipe, I truly hope you are inspired, even beginners, to try this recipe out. The only way to learn is to try. I could probably fill a dumpster with the amount of baked goods I have thrown out due to trying. You have to start somewhere.

 

Salted Caramel Filled Kouign Amann

Salted Caramel Filled Kouign Amann

Ingredients

  • For the Salted Caramel:
  • 1 Cup of Granulated Sugar
  • ½ Cup of Heavy Cream, room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/4 Cup of Water
  • For the Pastry:
  • 2½ Tablespoons of Dry Yeast
  • 1⅓ Cups of Warm Water, do not exceed 105°F
  • 4 Cups of All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Teaspoons of Salt
  • 1¾ Cups Of Salted Butter, cold
  • 1 Cups of Granulated Sugar

Instructions

  1. First make your salted caramel.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine your sugar and water then stir to combine.
  3. Heat mixture over medium heat, do not stir anymore. Cook it until the mixture has turned a deep amber, approximately 10 minutes.
  4. Once cooked, turn of the heat of the stove and whisk in your butter, cream, and salt. Stir until the mixture is smooth and fully combined, then remove it from the stove.
  5. Set the caramel aside, covered, to cool while you make your pastry.
  6. In your stand mixer, combine your yeast and warm water. Allow yeast to bloom for approximately five minutes.
  7. Attach your dough hook, then add in your flour and salt. Mix on low until combined and a dough begins to form.
  8. Turn the stand mixer speed to medium, and mix for five minutes or until dough shapes into a smooth elastic ball.
  9. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for twenty minutes.
  10. While the dough rises, prepare your butter block.
  11. Shape your butter into one mound, then shape and flatten the butter until it is a rectangle approximately 10x8 inches.
  12. Cover your butter in plastic wrap and place it back in the fridge to cool until you are ready to use it.
  13. Turn you risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
  14. Roll out your dough into a 16x10 rectangle. Place your butter block in the center of your dough.
  15. Fold the exposed edges over your butter as to completely enclose your block of butter. Next, roll the dough into a 18x8 rectangle.
  16. Fold your dough by thirds, like a letter, to start creating layers.
  17. Plastic wrap your dough, then place it in the fridge to allow the butter to get cold again. Let the dough rest for 1 hour.
  18. After the hour, place your dough back onto your floured surface and roll out into an 18x8 rectangle. Fold the dough again like a letter. Place the dough back in the fridge to let it rest for an 1 hour.
  19. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a 12 cup muffin pan by coating it in butter. Set aside the pan aside.
  20. Roll your chilled dough to a 17x13 rectangle, then slice off 1/2 inch from each end of the rectangle.
  21. Generously coat both sides of your dough with your 1 cup of granulated sugar. This will create the crunchy outside.
  22. Slice dough into equal 4x4 inch squares.
  23. Place each square into the center of each muffin cup.
  24. Fill each cup with approximately 1 tablespoon of your cooled salted caramel. Fold in the four corners of each square to meet in the center.
  25. Loosely cover the muffin pan and allow the dough to rise for another 20 minutes.
  26. Bake your dough for 25-30 minutes on the center rack.
  27. Once golden brown, remove from the oven to allow them to cool.
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Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake

Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake

Just as fast as they went last year, the holidays are upon us again. Although my waistline hates it, my heart gets excited to bake and cook as much as humanly possible over then next few months.

Which means this week, I have been testing recipes so I can bring the perfect dessert to our Thanksgiving feast. When coming up with recipes I like to take classics and add a slight twist, so a macadamia nut pie, instead of pecan, was on my list to try out. I will post the recipe soon.

This past weekend we had some friends over for a laid back night (but also so I could test out my pie recipe on them). Filet, truffle mashed potatoes, rosemary focaccia, and a few stout beers later, we were almost – almost – too full to eat pie. We still ate it though. And I am happy to report that the pie only needs one or two tweaks.

The next morning, waking up full and happy, I realized I had a bit of my stout beer left over. I do not like to waste food, so it was the perfect opportunity to throw a second dessert contestant into the mix. For some reason I could not get the idea of a stout bundt cake out of my head, so I began baking.

An upclose picture of the salted caramle glaze

I used a Dutch process cocoa powder, which is darker than the normal stuff, because I had it leftover from a previous recipe that I tested. Also, the use of cake flour would be perfect to lighten the dense texture of a chocolate bundt cake.

The only issue was deciding on what to top the cake with. Flavor contenders included espresso, caramel, and more chocolate. My husband does not love chocolate cake, so I landed on caramel to ensure that he would like this cake. The last touch, a little salt in the caramel to cut through the very decedent flavors.

This recipe turned out better than I could have imagined, and I didn’t have to change a single thing in the recipe. This may be one of the best chocolate cakes I have ever baked, and I will definitely proudly take it to our festivities on Thursday.

Confession: As soon as the cake was cooled and I snapped a few pictures, I ate a slice for lunch. That is the reason there are so few pictures in this post.

…I ate a second slice after dinner that night.

A slice of chocolate cake with salted caramel on top

Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake

Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 Sticks of Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Cup of Good Stout Beer
  • 3/4 Cup of Dutch Process Cocoa Powder
  • 2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Cups of Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 3/4 Cup of Sour Cream
  • For the Salted Caramel Glaze
  • 5 Tablespoons of Butter
  • 1/2 Cup of Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/3 Cup of Heavy Cream
  • 2 Tablespoons of Stout Beer
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1 Cup of Powdered Sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare your bundt cake pan by greasing it then coating it in cocoa powder. Be sure to shake out any excess cocoa powder. Set the pan aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt your butter.
  4. Once the butter is melted, remove your butter from the heat and whisky in your stout beer, vanilla extract, and cocoa powder. Set the mixture aside to cool.
  5. In another bowl, sift together your sugar, flour, salt, and baking soda.
  6. Starting with your dry mixture, whisk in 1/3 of the mixture into your cooled butter mixture. Whisk until fully combined.
  7. Next whisk in one egg, followed by the next 1/3 of your dry mixture. Mixing until combined. Whisk in your sour cream, then the last portion of your dry mixture, and finally your last egg. Mix until well combined.
  8. Pour your batter into your prepared cake pan.
  9. Bake the cake on middle rack for approximately 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  10. Let the cake cool on the counter for at least one hour before glazing.
  11. While cake cools, prepare your glaze.
  12. In a small sauce pan, combine your brown sugar, butter, cream, and salt.
  13. Cook mixture over medium heat until it reaches a boil.
  14. Once at a boil cook the mixture for an additional 3 minutes, stirring constantly. You want to make sure all of the brown sugar cooks into the butter, so you do not have a grainy caramel.
  15. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool for about 15 minutes.
  16. Once cooled, sift in your powdered sugar then whisk in your stout beer. You want the mixture to be thick yet pourable. You can add more powdered sugar if needed.
  17. Once the cake is completely cooled and removed from the pan, pour your glaze over the top of the cake.
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Maple & Burnt Cinnamon Cakes

Maple & Burnt Cinnamon Cakes

After reading the title, you may be asking yourself–what the heck is burnt cinnamon? When I first heard of it, I thought the same thing. Of course I was curious to know what it tasted like, so baking time ensued after a short deliberation on how to use it.

I will say this–making burnt cinnamon is one of the easiest things ever. You literally take a cinnamon stick, place it on a sheet pan, and torch it with a brulee torch. Voila! You have burnt cinnamon.

Charring the outside changes the flavor of the cinnamon. It mellows it out and adds roasted chocolatey notes. It only changes the flavor slightly, so you can use it in any recipe that calls for cinnamon.

I am hooked. I will probably forever char my cinnamon before adding it to a recipe.

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After it is charred you can grate it yourself, or steep in it milk to transfer the flavor. For this recipe I did both.

Since the air is so crisp and cool out, completely unlike the low country, I wanted to use a few falls flavors. Do not get me wrong, I love pumpkin but I wanted to stay clear of it as a fall flavor. Maple seemed ideal, and would be easy to impart into any recipe as the sweetener.

I created these tiny cakes by baking them in a maple leaf cake mold. You can bake the batter in any miniature cake mold or bake the entire cake in a bunt cake pan. I recommend a bunt cake pan, if you go big, because the batter results in a denser cake.

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Maple & Burnt Cinnamon Cakes

Maple & Burnt Cinnamon Cakes

Ingredients

  • 1 Stick of Butter, softened
  • 1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1/2 Cup of Maple Syrup
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1/2 Cup of Milk
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Flour
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 Cup of Powdered Sugar

Instructions

  1. Burn the outside of your cinnamon stick with a torch. Set aside to cool.
  2. Once cooled grate 1/2 teaspoon from the cinnamon stick and set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine your milk and cinnamon stick. Bring to a low simmer then cover and let steep for approximately 15 minutes. Set milk aside to let cool before using.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and prepare your cake pan by coating it in butter then flour. Be sure to shake out the excess flour.
  5. In your stand mixer, cream together your butter and brown sugar. Beat on medium for approximately five minutes or until light and fluffy.
  6. While the butter mixes, prepare your dry mix. In a bowl mix together your flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and grated burnt cinnamon. Set aside.
  7. In another bowl, whisk together your eggs, 1/4 cup of milk, vanilla, and maple syrup. Set aside.
  8. With the stand mixer on low, mix in 1/3 of your dry mixture. Next, mix in 1/3 of your wet mixture. Continue alternating between wet and dry, ending on the addition of the final 1/3 of your we mixture. Do not over mix.
  9. Pour your batter into the desired pan and level off. If using mini cake pans, only fill each one until 2/3 full.
  10. Bake your mini cakes for 20 minutes. For a full cake, it should take approximately 45 mintues to bake. To check doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake and if it comes out clean the cake is baked.
  11. Remove the cake(s)from oven and allow to cool completely before glazing.
  12. To create the glaze, combine powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons of cinnamon milk. Whisk together until smooth, add more milk as needed if glaze is too thick. You want the glaze to resemble a thin paste.
  13. Glaze the outside of a large cake by pouring the glaze over the cake. For the small cakes, you can dunk the tops into the glaze.
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https://epicuropedia.com/2018/10/24/maple-burnt-cinnamon-cakes/

Cherry Upside-Down Layer Cake

Cherry Upside-Down Layer Cake

This year was a big year for me—I turned the big 3-0. I know, by no means is thirty old, but it has taken some time for me to get used to the idea. That is the reason why this post is so late. My birthday was several months ago.

Almost every year for my birthday, I make myself a cake. My opinion is who better to do the job than yourself? Personally, I do not like super sweet, sugary cakes. I can count the number of cakes that I have truly enjoyed on one hand. So, the challenge this year was to make a balanced, grown-up cake; something truly representative of my new age.

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One trick to cutting down on the sweetness of a cake is to replace traditional icing with whipped cream. The use of tart fresh cherries would also help to counter balance the sugary cake layers. The overall result was perfect, a light, sophisticated, and beautiful (in taste and look) cake.

This recipe forgoes traditional livening ingredients, baking soda/powder, and replaces them with folded in egg whites. Which means you will need to be a bit more careful with your bake.

I used three eight inch cake pans for my version, which created pretty thin layers. If you like thicker layers, I recommend switching the eight inch pans for three six inch pans.

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Cherry Upside-Down Layer Cake

Cherry Upside-Down Layer Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 Sticks of Butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 Cups plus 1 Tablespoon of Granulated Sugar
  • 6 Eggs, divided into yolks and whites
  • 2 Lemons
  • 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Almond Flour
  • 1 Cup of Cake Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1 Cup of Fresh or Frozen Cherries, pitted and sliced into halves
  • 2 Cups of Heavy Whipping Cream

Instructions

  1. Prepare your cake pans by buttering and flouring them, then placing a round of parchment paper on the bottom of each pan.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. In your stand mixer, whip together your butter and 1 cup of granulated sugar. Beat on medium speed for approximately 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  4. While your butter whips, in a small bowl combine 1 1/2 cups of sugar, both flours, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Mix until combined, then set aside.
  5. In another small bowl, whip together 6 egg yolks, the juice of one lemon, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
  6. With the stand mixer on low, add in 1/3 of your wet mixture, followed by 1/3 of your dry mixture. Continue alternating and adding until everything is combined.
  7. In a separate stand mixer bowl, beat together your egg whites and 1 tablespoon of sugar until stiff peaks form.
  8. Working in thirds, gently fold the whipped egg whites into your cake batter. Set aside.
  9. In a small bowl, mix together your cherries, the juice of one lemon, and 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Pour the cherries onto the bottom of one cake pan, then spread into one even layer.
  10. Divide and spread the cake batter evenly among your three cake pans.
  11. Place the pans in the oven and bake for approximately 30- 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  12. Once baked, remove cakes from oven and allow to cool, on a wire rack, for at least one hour before layering your cake.
  13. While the cake cools, prepare your whipped cream.
  14. In your stand mixer, combine the heavy whipping cream, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Beat on medium speed until the mixture forms firm whipped cream.
  15. Build the layer cake by layering each level with whipped cream. The last layer should end with cherries on top.
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https://epicuropedia.com/2018/10/12/cherry-upside-down-layer-cake/

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Pluot & Almond Galette

Pluot & Almond Galette

Summer is all about seasonal cooking with the freshest ingredients (and laying by the pool too), so when I make a trip to the store I grab the produce that looks best and is in season, it automatically drives what I will make next. The same applies if I spot something fun and unique that I have never tasted before–my mom taught me to try everything at least once. Not too long ago I spotted pluots, a plum and apricot hybrid. A fruit that has the best of both and that is easy to bake with.

Being lazy after a long summer day laying by the pool, I do not always have the most energy to really make my baked goods pretty. Sometimes you just want the end result without all of the work. A galette is perfect for that baker.

A galette is essentially a free form pie, great for those of us that struggle with making our baked goods pretty. A bit more rustic, you simply roll out your pie crust, pour your filling in the middle, and fold the edges up and over. The center stays open allowing the sugar in the filling to cook down and get extra gooey.

For this recipe I use brown sugar instead of regular sugar; it adds a deeper flavor to the baked good

There are a few tricks to remember when making a pie crust because we all know they can be very tricky:

  • Make sure your butter is very cold, the same applies if you are using lard or shortening.
  • Use a pastry cutter, and if you do not have one use a large fork.
  • Do not overwork or your pastry will become tough.
  • Adding a bit of vinegar allows the glutens to relax, so your dough is not tough.
  • Always let your dough rest in the fridge at least 30 minutes before using.

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Pluot & Almond Galette

Ingredients

  • Crust Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sugar
  • 5 tablespoons ice water. Add more if needed
  • Galette Ingredients:
  • 1 Tablespoon of Brown Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons of All Propose Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons of Butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 6 Pluots, sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tablespoon of Milk
  • 1 Cup of Sliced Almonds, coarsely chopped

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and mix until combined.
  2. Cut in your butter with a pastry cutter until butter is mixed in in large chunks. In the alternate use a food processor and pulse together until butter is combined in large chunks (about 5-10 seconds).
  3. Pour in your 5 tablespoons of ice water.
  4. Lightly fold together ingredients with your hand until the dough just comes together.
  5. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and let rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using.
  6. While the dough rests prepare the rest of your ingredients.
  7. Slice your pluots into thin wedges, and place in a mixing bowl.
  8. Add your sugar, flour, vanilla, and salt to the pluots. Stir together until fully combined then set aside to allow the natural juices to come out.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  10. When the crust is ready, remove from the fridge a roll out into a 13 inch circle. Gently place the pastry onto a sheet pan with a slipmat.
  11. Leaving about a 2-inch border at the edge of the dough, sprinkle your chopped almonds onto the bottom of the crust.
  12. Next, layer your pluots on top of the almonds, then gently spoon the juice remaining in the bowl over the fruit.
  13. Evenly arrange your small pieces of butter over the top of the fruit.
  14. Gently fold the 2 inch border of crust over the filling, you may have to create pleats to allow the crust to lay flat. The center of the galette will expose the fruit filling.
  15. Create an egg wash by whisking your milk and egg yolk together.
  16. Brush the wash onto the crust, then sprinkle with white sugar.
  17. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the crust is golden brown.
  18. Let cool completely before serving, or the juices will not set and run out.
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https://epicuropedia.com/2018/08/21/pluot-almond-galette/

 

Piñata Funfetti Cake

Piñata Funfetti Cake

If you ask most cooks or bakers why they love being in the kitchen, many will tell you it is not the actual making of the recipe but the joy of sharing it with others.

For me that joy amplifies with the opportunity to bake a celebration cake for those that I love — especially when it is for one of my nieces or nephews. With my nephew’s third birthday party approaching, my sister asked that I bake him a special cake. He asked that his party be Trolls-themed. So, deciding on the type of cake was easy—funfetti—because it matched the rainbow theme.

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Because my nephew may or may not be my favorite of the group, I wanted to take the simple funfetti cake up a notch by making it piñata style.

A piñata cake is a cake that has the center removed and filled with candy or sprinkles. I choose both. It is an easy method to apply to any layered cake and creates a very dramatic effect for your cake eaters. Once you cut the first slice, the center comes pouring out.

My nephew absolutely loved the effect; you can see his little hands sneaking some candy as I tried to snap a picture.

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To cut the sweetness of the sugary cake and center, I went with a cream cheese frosting. This takes the cake from one note to several, especially for the adult party goers.

As for decorating the outside of the cake, stick with what your are capable of. If you have never used fondant, try your first time with a smaller project. The same goes for any technique you haven’t used much. I knew I could create a semi smooth and level cake, so that is the method I applied to get a show stopping cake.

Really, with my sister hosting the party outside at her cow farm I am sure any cake decorations would have done just fine.

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A few tips for cake decorating:

• Let your cakes cool completely before assembling. The cake will fall if you do not.

• To make your cake level take a perforated knife and slice off the rounded top of each layer.

• After layering the cake with icing, always coat the outside with a crumb layer of icing. This will give the cake a cleaner finish.

• After the crumb layer is on, stick your cake in the fridge to allow the icing to set up. This will help hold the cake together.

• To smooth the final icing coat, use a cake scraper or even a large plaster knife.

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Funfetti Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 Sticks of Butter, Softened
  • 2 Cups of Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Buttermilk
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 4 Cups of Cake Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 Cup of Sprinkles

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare your four 6-inch cake pans by first rubbing them with Crisco or butter, then coat the lard in flour. Be sure to dump out the excess flour. Set pans aside.
  3. In a large whisk together your flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a second large bowl whisk together your eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla.
  5. In your stand mixer or with a hand mixer on medium, beat together your butter and sugar. Continue to beat for at least five minutes until butter becomes pale and fluffy.
  6. Start 1/3 of your wet mixture and add it in, mixing until combined.
  7. Add 1/3 of your flour mixture, mix until combined. Continue with 1/3 wet, then 1/3 dry, repeating until all of the ingredients are mixed in. You should end with the last third of your flour mixture.
  8. With a spatula, fold in your sprinkles.
  9. Evenly divide your batter into your prepared cake pans.
  10. Bake on the center rack for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  11. Let you cake cool on a wire rack before assembling.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 2 – 8 Ounce Blocks of Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 Stick of Butter, softened
  • A 1 Pound Box of Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt

Directions:

  1. In your stand mixer or with a hand mixer on medium speed, beat together your butter and cream cheese.
  2. Next add your extract and salt, mixing to combine.
  3. Add in the powdered sugar a little at a time, being sure to mix in the last amount before adding more.
  4. Beat frosting until all of the ingredients are combined, then continue to beat for another minute or two until the frosting becomes fluffy.

Piñata Cake

Ingredients:

  1. 6.25 Ounce Container of Sprinkles or Candy
  2. Funfetti Cake (above)
  3. Cream Cheese Icing (above)

Directions:

  1. Level your cake layers by removing the rounded tops with a knife.
  2. Cut a 1 to 1 1/2 inch hole into the center of three of the four layers of cake. A small cookie cutter will work fine.
  3. Using 1/3 of your icing, assemble your cake. First layer the three tiers that have a hole in them by placing frosting in-between each layer of cake, then pour in your sprinkles, last top with the whole and last layer of cake. .
  4. Apply 1/3 of your icing to the outside of your cake, creating a crumb coat.
  5. Let the cake rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Apply the remaining 1/3 of icing to the outside of the cake, smooth with a frosting smoother.
  7. Decorate or top the cake how you desire.

Review: Harper’s Desserts

Review: Harper’s Desserts

Officially, it may not be summer yet, but, as to be expected for Savannah, things are beginning to heat up. It’s only May, but now warm enough to hit the beach on Tybee, go out on the boat and hit the sandbar.
Some sticky days it seems the only way to truly cool off from the Savannah sun is seek out something cool and refreshing. Luckily, there’s a new kid on the block to help chill you down: Harper’s Desserts on the islands.
By no means are the owners of Harper’s new to the neighborhood; they have been running local favorite and classic Flying Fish Bar & Grill.

Co-owner Robin McMahon “has always been in charge of the Flying Fish dessert menu and was committed to offering unique desserts that were not mainstream,” Chris McMahon, marketing director of Flying Fish, tells me.
So when the space for Harper’s came available right next door to Flying Fish, the owners seized the opportunity. Owners Mike and Robin named to store after their three year old granddaughter, Harper, who I’m told by Chris often tells people about “her shop next door.”
On deck are 24 different flavors of cold. refreshing ice cream offered by Harper’s. The owners have included everything from classics like chocolate, cookies and cream, mint chocolate chip, and vanilla to more unique creations like Jolted Cow and Yellow Cake.
Of all the crazy flavors, most popular with the kids have been the “Cotton Candy and Superman flavor ice creams,” Chris says.
Generally, the most popular ice cream flavors have been the Jolted Cow and the Blueberry Cheesecake. The Jolted Cow is a java flavored ice cream base that comes swirled with sticky caramel and chewy soft brownie chunks, which cut through the bitter bite of the coffee.

The coffee flavor is not too strong, and it coats the mouth with a the creamy sweet flavor of brew before your tongue finds a fudgy chunk of decadent brownie.
As for the Blueberry Cheesecake, the tangy and divine ice cream base is jammed full of the flavor of cheesecake and swirled with an alarming amount of blueberry.
The star of the show at Harper’s, and what definitely makes them unique, is their wide assortment of Monster Shakes. The term monster is almost an understatement.
These milkshakes are served in a large mason jar rimmed with anything from chocolate to breakfast cereal, then topped with things such as a moonpie, an entire slice of cheesecake, oreos, fruit, and so much more.

I was lucky to try (and unable to finish by myself due to the overwhelming portion) the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bust Monster Shake. To create this bad boy, Harper’s blends their chocolate peanut butter ice cream with milk and Reese’s pieces.
The dreamy creation is poured into a jar rimmed with chocolate and topped with nutter butters, Reese’s candy, whipped cream, and crushed peanuts.
The milkshake fills your mouth with the creamy flavor of peanut butter, and as you continue to sip the thick drink chocolate hits your palate next.
Surprisingly enough, it was not until Harper’s featured their Shamrock Shake that the monster shakes took off. As you guessed, the popular dessert is only available during Savannah’s favorite holiday season.

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Harper’s Desserts does not just offer ice cream, they also have a wide assortment cakes and pies. New to the dessert menu is a Red Velvet Cake, which “has quickly become one of our most popular desserts in just a few weeks,” Chris says.

Instead of an entire cake or a slice, this speciality is individually portioned into your very own mini cake. Round airy layers of tasty red cake are smeared with luxurious satin cream cheese buttercream frosting.

Another beautiful dessert option is the Reese’s Pie — a creamy peanut butter center lays atop a crumbly chocolate crush for this slice. Creamy, crunchy, salty, sweet, this dessert has it all.

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Also extremely popular as a dessert offered at Harper’s is the Mississippi Mud Pie, which is “Robin’s recipe,” explains Chris.
Again featuring a chocolate crust, instead this pie has a chocolate mousse-like filling and is topped with a velvety chocolate ganache.
Harper’s also offered the classic beach side pie, Key Lime, and hopes to feature “a peach version of the pie, which we think will be a great summer dessert,” boasts Chris.
True to form for a beach town sweet shop, shaved ice is featured on their menu.
Let’s not forget the coffee, which is brewed from a Nescafé Milano System. You can order anything from lattes to americanos.
Chris loves the coffee and, as he explains the system to me, he says they have “an espresso roast with a deep coffee flavor…it is great on its own or as a base” for something else.
The cherry on top of this sundae is: If you eat next door at Flying Fish, Harper’s will hand deliver anything you order right to your table.
If you have yet to have the chance to sample the-out-of-this-world flavors of Harper’s, I suggest you get down there now. Although the store opened in December 2017, you can expect a grand opening party coming very soon.

Original article: here