Apple Upside Down Cake with Salted Caramel

Apple Upside Down Cake with Salted Caramel.

Apple Upside Down Cake with Salted Caramel.

It’s official:  Winter is here.    Snow has fallen, plows have been out, fender benders happened, walks and driveways have been shoveled.  Black Friday took place, and we are barreling straight ahead to Christmas.  It’s time to make my list of cookies that I plan to bake, and get in the necessary ingredients.

There are quite a few apples remaining that I picked at the orchard, so let’s see what I can do to use them up during this last weekend of November.

I know that I will make applesauce and I may even make baked apples and eat them for breakfast. We like them with a little granola sprinkled on top,  or a dollop of yogurt, or both.

Baked apples filled with dried fruits.

Baked apples filled with dried fruits.

Feeling a little “out-of-sorts”, (probably because I have too many projects going right now), I decided to use some of my apples and make this upside down cake.   The recipe is an adaptation of one featured on the Food Network that used summer stone fruits, but with salted caramel in the picture I was certain that making it with apples would be just fine.  And it was.

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This recipe was a good choice as the white cake is light and mildly seasoned with vanilla and has a fine texture that I attribute to the buttermilk.  Apples with caramel and sea salt are the perfect topping, made that much better with a little ice cream on the side when you serve it.  It’s baked in a 9-inch square pan, so you will get 8 generous servings or several more if cut smaller.

It only gets better with a little ice cream on the side.

It only gets better with a little ice cream on the side.

The problem I had with this cake was getting it out of the pan intact.  The recipe suggests waiting 15 minutes after removing from the oven before turning it upside down onto a serving plate.  I did that, and still the cake broke on one corner, and stuck to the sides of the pan.  I patched it up as best I could using some of the sticky caramel for “glue”.   (note photo)   I realized I might have prevented this by running a knife around the edges of the cake before attempting to turn it out of the pan, so I suggest you do that if you make this cake.

See that broken corner?

See that broken corner?

The bright side is that it tastes so good, even when broken, that I’m happy to share my “disaster” photo with you.  We all have an occasional disaster, and there’s no shame in that.

APPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE WITH SALTED CARAMEL

Yield:   Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients:

Beautiful crisp apples, waiting to become a cake!

Beautiful crisp apples, waiting to become a cake!

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt, divided
  • 2-3 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch wedges
  • 1  3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 375*F.  and coat a 9-inch-square cake pan with cooking spray.

2.  Combine 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1  1/2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan and stir until the mixture looks like wet sand.  Cook over medium-high heat, gently swirling the pan occasionally but not stirring, until light amber, about 5 minutes.   Remove from the heat and immediately pour into the prepared cake pan.  ( The caramel hardens quickly.)  Arrange the apple wedges over the caramel in 4 rows;  set the pan aside.

Lay rows of sliced apples on top of the caramel in the pan,

Lay rows of sliced apples on top of the caramel in the pan,

3.  Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and remaining 1 cup sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour, and mix until just incorporated.  Pour the batter over the apples and spread evenly.

4.  Bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.  ( Mine took 45 minutes.)  Cover the cake loosely with foil it is browning too quickly.   Remove from the oven and let sit 15 minutes, then invert onto a platter and let cool completely.  Sprinkle with sea salt.

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SOURCE:   adapted from The Food Network Magazine

 

 

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The Tale of a Cheesecake

Pumpkin Cheesecake, freshly baked.

Pumpkin Cheesecake, freshly baked.

This story begins with a cheesecake and ends with a “dog story”.  It may not make sense at the start, but it will by the end, so hang in here with me.

One of my contributions to our Thanksgiving Dinner was a pumpkin cheesecake.  I brought it plus my Sweet Potato Casserole and Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce to my sister-in-law’s house for our family dinner.  Having made these last two items in advance, last Wednesday I made the Pumpkin Cheesecake.

The project began in the morning when I took two blocks of cream cheese out of the fridge to soften up while I did some other things.  By afternoon I was ready to begin putting the cheesecake together.   It is very easy to make and I chose this recipe because it has garnered so many “stars” by recipe testers on Allrecipe.com.  Think of it as an all-star recipe, even award-winning, you might say.

Folks who made it said it tasted just like the cheesecake at a very popular restaurant.  It cut cleanly and looked attractive on the plate because the cheesecake goes into the crust in two layers, and when it’s cut the layers are very apparent.  It was described as perfectly seasoned with the spiciness of pumpkin pie, but so much more creamy, because of the contrast of the crumb crust.

As I happily went about making what sounded so delectable, my mouth was watering.  I had described it in such detail to my sister-in-law that her mouth was watering just hearing about it, and she really loves cheesecake, so we two couldn’t wait for dessert.  I don’t want my wonderful readers to miss out on enjoying  this terrific cheesecake so the recipe, and steps I followed in making it are listed below…..

DOUBLE-LAYER PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE

Yield:   Makes one 9-inch cheesecake, or 8 servings

Ingredients:IMG_8627

  • 2  (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (low-fat is OK)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1  (9-inch) prepared graham cracker crust
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1 pinch cloves
  • frozen whipped topping, thawed, or whipped cream to dollop on top.

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 325*F.

2.  In a large beater bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth.  Blend in eggs, one at a time.

3.  Spread 1 cup of cream cheese mixture in the bottom of the crumb crust.

Plain cheesecake batter goes in the bottom of the crust.

Plain cheesecake batter goes in the bottom of the crust.

To the remaining batter, add the pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.   Stir gently until well blended.  Carefully spread over batter in the crust.

The remainder of the batter containing pumpkin and spices goes on top.

The remainder of the batter containing pumpkin and spices goes on top.

4.  Bake at 325*F. for 35 – 40 minutes, until center is almost set.  Cool at room temperature, then refrigerate at least 3 hours and best if overnight.  (Make this a day ahead if you can, because it really needs that much time to set up properly.  It will slice beautifully after a night in the fridge.)

Pumpkin Cheesecake, freshly baked.

Pumpkin Cheesecake, freshly baked.

 

At the completion of our main meal we eagerly went outside to get the pies where they had been stored in the cold, as there was no room in the refrigerator.  We had a total of 4 pies and my cheesecake.  When we went out to the get the pies we found only 3 pies and 2 empty pie plates,  plus 1 very guilty-looking dog.   Who let the dog out, that’s what we’d like to know?    The dog devoured what we ourselves couldn’t wait to try:  the cheesecake and an apple-walnut-caramel pie.  The whole scenario was so funny with poor Sandy sitting next to the empty pie plates, hanging her head in shame, but with a secret smile on her face, and a few crumbs on her whiskers.  She would  give them 5 stars if she could 🙂

Sandy, after her pie-eating escapade.

Sandy, after her pie-eating escapade.

I  promised to make the cheesecake again for Christmas, so we will try again to see for ourselves how good it is.

 

SOURCE:    Allrecipes Magazine

 

 

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

 

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October may be over, but anything pumpkin seems to still be a popular item.  Especially with Thanksgiving coming up.  If pumpkin pie is not your thing, or you would like something other than pie for your holiday dessert table, these dessert squares will surely fit the bill.

Recipes featuring the great orange squash are still popping up everywhere.   I have a whole board devoted to pumpkin on Pinterest….it’s called “Pumpkin Anything” and so many  pictures from that board get repinned.  Today’s recipe is one that I found on Pinterest, one of those quick and easy baked items that use a cake mix for convenience.  You’re gonna love this one 🙂

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This dessert is fabulous,  tasting like pumpkin pie, but rather cake-like,  a cross between cake and a creamy dessert square.  The pecans on top give it some crunch, so you have a nice contrast between the creamy pumpkin layer, the cake layer and the topping.   Oh, and be sure to dollop each serving with some whipped cream.   This makes a 13″ x 9″ pan, so there will be plenty of servings, about 20 – 24.

PUMPKIN CRUNCH CAKE

Yield:    Makes 20 – 24 servingsIMG_8134

Ingredients:

  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 1  12-0z. can evaporated milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 box Yellow Cake mix
  • 1/2 – 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 2 sticks butter, melted ( I used 1 stick butter and 1/2 cup coconut oil with good results.)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.   Spray a 13″ x 9″ pan with non-stick cooking spray.

2.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Pour into the prepared baking pan.

3.  Sprinkle the cake mix evenly over the pumpkin layer.   If the mix is very lumpy, run it through a sifter before sprinkling it on.

4.  Sprinkle chopped pecans on top of cake mix.

5.  Drizzle butter over all.    Bake at 350*F. for 50 – 55 minutes or until golden brown.    Cool.

Golden brown from the oven.

Golden brown from the oven.

 

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

This is sooo good!

This is sooo good!

 

SOURCE:   Itty Bitty Homestead

 

Reese’s Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Bars

Reese's Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

Reese’s Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

Let’s take out some butter to soften up.   Check that your pantry has plenty of flour, sugar and brown sugar.  Oh, and we’re going to need peanut butter, peanut butter in several forms.  Why?  Because today is baking day.

Today we are going to make Peanut Butter Oatmeal bars, and we’re pulling out all the stops with these, incorporating peanut butter-flavored baking chips, peanut butter, and Reese’s Miniature candies.  Total peanut butter heaven!  I’ve been enthralled with all kinds of bar cookies lately, and these leave no room for disappointment.  If you have Reese’s Cups left from Halloween this is a great way to use them up.

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These bars are fabulous in every way;  besides the wonderful taste, the centers are perfectly soft and chewy, and the Reese’s cup surprise in the middle makes them even more drool-worthy.   It takes very little time to whip these up, but everyone who tastes them will want the recipe.  To make sure the Reese’s are nicely distributed I put down a layer of about half the dough in the bottom of the baking dish and then sprinkled the chopped candy on top.  Next I dolloped the remaining dough on top of all that, making a kind of peanut butter oatmeal cookie sandwich with a Reese’s filling.   Turned out to be a great way to do it, as every bite gives you all that yumminess combined.

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These will bake up beautifully and cut nicely also.  I cut mine into 16 bars for the photos here, but you may want to cut them diagonally in half if you’re serving a large group, or double up on all the ingredients and bake in a 13″ x 9″ pan for a larger batch.  Be sure to treat yourself to a whole bar… you deserve it.   I know I did! 🙂

REESE’S PEANUT BUTTER OATMEAL COOKIE BARS

Yield:   Makes 16 barsIMG_8222

Ingredients:

  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter-flavored baking chips
  • 1 cup Reese’s miniatures, chopped or Reese’s minis

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350*F.   Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

2.  Cream butter and brown sugar together in a large mixing bowl.  Add peanut butter and continue mixing.

3.  Add egg, mix in well, then add vanilla.

4.  Combine flour, oats, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.   Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture and stir in well.

5.  Stir in the peanut butter chips.

6.  Spread 2/3 of the dough on the bottom of the pan.  Top with chopped Reese’s miniatures.  Dollop the remaining dough on top by the teaspoon.  It doesn’t have to completely cover all the Reese’s.

About half the dough on the bottom, a layer of Reese's cups, and the remaining dough on top.

About half the dough on the bottom, a layer of Reese’s cups, and the remaining dough on top.

7.  Bake for about 30 minutes.  Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

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Serve with a glass of cold milk for supreme satisfaction!!

 

SOURCE:  Slightly modified from Mom on Time Out.com

 

 

Fall-ing for Apples

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Apples are the essence of fall.

Several weeks ago I attended an “apple-tasting” event at Scott’s Orchards in Dummerston, Vt.  It was at the height of foliage season and the farm, orchards, and surrounding countryside were ablaze in the wonderful colors of autumn.  The 36-acre orchard is located high above a valley and offers magnificent views of the surrounding hills.  It is on the estate that once belonged to the author, Rudyard Kipling, but is now in the care of the Vermont Landmark Trust.  The apple orchard is known for the variety of heritage apples that are being tested and grown there.

The farm and orchard are set in beautiful surroundings.

The farm and orchard are set in beautiful surroundings.

A few of the many heritage apples grown at Scott's Orchard.

A few of the many heritage apples grown at Scott’s Orchard.

On my visit, I purchased a variety of apples, previously unknown to me, some of which you see pictured here.  I have been using them sparingly  so that we can taste and enjoy their unique flavors in some tasty treats.  Some of these apples are strange looking, but the flavors are surprising and wonderful.  Some are especially tart–you’ll taste it with your jawbone–but blend them with others that are sweeter and you will have a mixture that hardly needs any sugar.   Applesauce is one of those mixtures that improves greatly by using a variety of apples to make it. Mixing a tart variety with a sweet one, or juicier apples with drier varieties, may produce excellent results–the only problem being that you may not ever be able to reproduce it’s exact flavor.

On the day of my visit the farm stand was bustling with people grabbing bags of apples and jars of cider.  There were many “bins” of apples where you could fill a bag with the apples of your choice.

Many bins of apples, like this one.

Many bins of apples, like this one.

That is what I did, taking only one or two of 12 different kinds.  One woman asked the orchardist what apples were good right now, and he responded, “well, I’ve been taking home Reine de Reinettes.  If you like Honeycrisps, you should try the Reine de Reinettes”.

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Convincing someone to try a strange food/fruit can be challenging, but more and more people, New Englanders in particular, are showing an interest in trying the awkward, cosmetically challenged apples of the world, apples with an astonishing inner beauty that takes some time to get to know.  Many of the apples from this farm are sold at Whole Foods and independent grocery stores throughout the eastern region of the country.   If you should have the opportunity to meet a heritage variety of apple, I urge you to give one a try—it’s probably wise to start with an eating apple, they’re a little sweeter and pleasant to eat.  But those tart babies, they’ll surely put some zing in your apple pie!

An example of what I mean by “using them sparingly”, is this dish I made recently that consisted of pork chops roasted with apples and onions.  It required only two apples, but we got tremendous enjoyment from this meal.

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Another example is the recipe below for Apple Cinnamon Squares. It also needs only two apples, but produces an outstanding dessert with lots of apple flavor underneath the crumb topping.  Layered in between buttery yellow cake crumbs is a creamy layer that elevates this dessert from good to great.  Made from a yellow cake mix, this couldn’t be easier, so give it a try.

Apple Cinnamon Squares

Apple Cinnamon Squares

APPLE CINNAMON SQUARES

Yield:   about 20 squaresIMG_8487

Ingredients:

  • 1 ( 18.25-oz) box yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup gown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. round cinnamon
  • 2 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Lightly spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

2.  Combine the cake mix with the butter in a mixing bowl.  Mix until crumbly. Reserve 2/3 cup of cake/butter mixture in a separate bowl.  Add brown sugar and cinnamon to this 2/3 cup mixture.  Mix well and set aside.

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon with reserved crumbs.

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon with reserved crumbs.

3.  Spread remaining cake/butter mixture in the bottom of the baking dish.

First layer, buttery crumbs in the bottom.

First layer, buttery crumbs in the bottom.

Then, layer sliced apples on top of that.

Next layer, sliced apples.

Next layer, sliced apples.

4.  In a separate bowl, blend sour cream and egg until well mixed.  Spread cream mixture evenly over sliced apples.

Spread sour cream mixture over the apples.

Spread sour cream mixture over the apples.

Top with reserved cinnamon crumb mixture.

Top layer, cinnamon crumbs.

Top layer, cinnamon crumbs.

5.  Bake 30 minutes until golden brown.

Bake till golden brown.

Bake till golden brown.

This dish is best served warm.

Does it need cream on top?  No, but it sure is good!!

Does it need cream on top? No, but it sure is good!!

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SOURCE:  Table for Seven

 

 

 

Spice Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Spice Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Spice Cake with Chocolate Ganache

 

When it comes to birthday cake I like to make something a little unusual.  And I find that a cake baked in a bundt pan serves more people, so I knew from the get go that it would be a bundt cake.   A what?   A Bunnnndddttt.   Remember “My Big Fat Greek Wedding?’

I think there is something so grown up and sophisticated about bundt cakes.  I’m not sure what it is though, maybe its the lines on the outside of the cake?  Maybe its the curves?  I love a slice of bundt cake, and I love baking in my bundt pan.   Mine is enamel over metal with a non-stick coating–it’s Orange!  But you can use a tube pan if you like with the same results.

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This is a spice cake that is very moist, and I paired it with cream cheese frosting flavored with grated orange rind for the filling in the middle.  I dusted the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar, then drizzled it heavily with chocolate ganache.    I must say—-it was quite impressive!

 

My favorite spice cake is a mix from Duncan Hines, and I have no problem using a mix  when the quality and flavor is really good.

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After baking the cake in the bundt pan and letting it cool compeletely,  I split the cake in half horizontally, and removed the top half.  Then I used a can of cream cheese frosting to which I added grated orange peel and a little milk.

Orange peel added to cream cheese frosting.

Orange peel added to cream cheese frosting.

Whipping it lightly with a beater made if fluffy and creamier.  This was spread on the bottom layer of cake and the top layer put back in place.

Cream cheese frosting in the middle.

Cream cheese frosting in the middle.

Then I made the chocolate ganache and spooned it over the top.

The combined flavors of orange, and chocolate with the spice cake was complex and multi-layered.   Everyone commented on how good it was.

The recipe for the ganache is given below.

 

CHOCOLATE GANACHE

Yield:   Makes about 2 cupsIMG_8392

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. corn syrup
  • 1 oz. bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 oz. semisweet chocolate
  • 1  1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

1.  In a small saucepan over medium heat,  mix together the cream, milk, butter, vanilla and corn syrup.

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2.  When butter is melted, turn heat to low and add the chocolate.  Allow to melt into the mixture.

3.  Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar.  When smooth, spoon over the cake.  Allow to set about 15 minutes.

 

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SOURCE:  for ganache:   Taste of Home Baking

 

 

Cookies and Cream Cookies

Cookies and Cream Cookies

Cookies and Cream Cookies

At my house we are just a little crazy for cookies and cream flavored anything:  candy bars, ice cream, milk shakes.  So when I came across this recipe for cookies and cream cookies I knew they would be a hit for sure.

They are based on a candy product by Hershey called “Cookies ‘n Creme Drops”.  They are available  in Target and other larger stores, but I also found them at my local grocery store.

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I remember back when there were Cookies in my Ice Cream!   That was back in the day….before ice cream was loaded with everything but the kitchen sink.   (Not that I’m complaining.)

These cookies are big, thick, substantial, chocolatey cookies.  Know what  Mr. D. is suggesting?   Topping one with a scoop of Cookies and Cream Ice Cream.   Now why didn’t I think of that?    See, that’s why I keep him around 🙂

You’ll need three mix-ins for these cookies:  the cookies and creme drops that I’ve already mentioned,  Oreo cookies, and white chocolate chips.  You’ll also need a muffin top pan or whoopie pie pan.  I found mine on Amazon.

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COOKIES AND CREAM COOKIES

Yield:  Makes 18 to 20 large cookiesIMG_7969

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dutch-process cocoa ( or any dark cocoa)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter,
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs,
  • 1 TBSP. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Hershey’s Cookies and Creme Drops
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips, reserving a few for the tops
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped Oreos

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Directions:

1.  Grease a muffin top/ whoopie pie pan with shortening.

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2.  Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

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3.  In a large bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.  Add in the eggs one at a tine, beating until well combined.  Beat in the vanilla.

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4.  Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, beating on low.  Stir in the drops, chips, and Oreos.    The dough will be somewhat sticky.  Refrigerate it for 1 hour to make it easier to work with.

Stir in all the extra goodies.

Stir in all the extra goodies.

5.  Preheat oven to 350*F.

6.  Scoop 1/4 cup dough into each pan cavity.  Wet finger and lightly press the dough down and smooth out.  It may not cover the entire cavity of the pan; that’s ok.  Press a few of the reserved white chips onto the top of the dough. ( I forgot to do this with mine.)

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7.  Bake for 15 – 18 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 3 – 5 minutes.  Run a small spatula along the edge of the pan and lift onto a cooling rack.    Rinse the pan with cool water, regrease it, and continue baking the remainder of the batter.

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Make these.   You know you want to!!

 

SOURCE:   Cookies and Cups

Pumpkin Spice Blondies

Pumpkin Spice Blondies

Pumpkin Spice Blondies

Do you ever play the “what if” game?  It goes like this…..”What if I use a different kind of flour here?”    What if I use all butter instead of shortening in this cake?”

Today’s recipe came about when I asked ” what if I used a cookie mix to make some squares”?    Yes, I know there are a gazillion recipes out there that use cake mixes to make cookies, but what I had on hand was a boxed pumpkin spice cookie mix, but I didn’t really want to make cookies.  This is how I changed the directions to make blondies with all the flavors you would expect in a pumpkin square, and then some!!

Soooo Good!

Soooo Good!

These came out chewy, and chunky because of the extra add-ins.  I found that by using miniature marshmallows, they melt while baking leaving an extra gooey spot in the bar.   I also used caramel bits and dried cranberries in these and all the flavors combined will remind you of fall.  To make the glaze on top I used about a cup of powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice mixed with about 4 teaspoons of water.  This was spread on after the bars had cooled completely.     Today’s game of “what if”  was successful…. my experiments don’t always turn out as well.  So I invite you to try them for yourself.  Any brand of pumpkin cookie mix will work, using the amount of butter and egg specified on the package.

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PUMPKIN BLONDIES

Yield:  Makes 16 barsIMG_8053

Ingredients:

  • 1 package ( 16.5-oz.) pumpkin spice cookie mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup ( 1-stick) butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup each caramel bits, mini marshmallows, and dried cranberries
Disregard the can of pumpkin…I didn't use it.

Disregard the can of pumpkin…I didn’t use it.

Directions:

1.   Preheat oven to 350*F.  Lightly grease an 8x8x2-inch pan.

2.  In a medium bowl, stir together the cookie mix, egg and butter until a dough forms.

3.  Stir in the caramel bits, mini marshmallows, and dried cranberries until well incorporated.

4.  Scrape dough into prepared pan and press in evenly.

5.  Bake for 28-32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool completely before topping with glaze.

Cool the baked squares before adding glaze.

Cool the baked squares before adding glaze.

6.  Glaze:  1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice,  3-4 teaspoons water.  Whisk together to form a loose glaze that you can spread on top of the blondies.

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SOURCE:    a Carolyn’s Original

 

 

 

 

Apricot Amaretti Crisp

Apricot-Amaretti Crisp

Apricot-Amaretti Crisp

Fresh apricots are available here where I live.  Their season is so short that I try to get some at least once and do something with them besides eating them out-ot-hand.  They are so sweet and flavorful, that it’s hard for me to not just eat them all up.  The ones that I get are almost as big as a peach and  have the typical apricot color with rosy patches splashed on them. They are firm when ripe, yet juicy when you bite into them.   Soooo Good!

Big, beautiful apricots are the basis for this dessert.

Big, beautiful apricots are the basis for this dessert.

I came across this recipe for a “crisp” using apricots with the topping made from amaretti cookies.  I began to salivate just reading about that combination and knew immediately that I had to make it.  The almond flavor of the cookies is perfect with apricots.  This is a wonderful dessert; not too sweet, with a crunchy topping over the tender juicy apricots.  Serve it with a dollop of whipped cream or a little ice cream.   YUM!  After sampling it I realized it would be equally good using peaches, because almond and peaches are also a great combination.  So if apricots are not available in your area, try this with peaches instead.

APRICOT-AMARETTI CRISP

Yield:  Makes 6 servings

Crush cookies by putting in zip-bag, and crushing with a meat tenderizer  or rolling pin

Crush cookies by putting in zip-bag, and crushing with a meat tenderizer or rolling pin

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds apricots, pitted and cut into eighths
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, divided
  • cooking spray
  • 2/3 cup crushed amaretti cookies
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • dash of ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • heavy cream for whipping if desired

 

Slice and dress the apricots.  Make crumb mixture.

Slice and dress the apricots. Make crumb mixture.

 

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 375*F.

2. Combine apricots, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg in a bowl; toss well to coat.  Spoon evenly into 6 ( 8-ounce) ramekins coated with cooking spray.  Or use an 8-inch square baking dish.

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3.  Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, cookies, and next 4 ingredients ( through butter); sprinkle cookie mixture over apricot mixture.

Cookie mixture sprinkled on top.

Cookie mixture sprinkled on top.

Arrange ramekins on a baking sheet.  Bake at 375* for 25 minutes or until filling is bubbly.

Topping gets browned and crunchy after baking.

Topping gets browned and crunchy after baking.

 

4.  Place 1/3 cup cream in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form.  Dollop cream over crisps.   These are best served warm, and  can be gently reheated in the microwave if necessary.

Served with vanilla ice cream.

Served with vanilla ice cream.   Deeee-lish!

 

 

SOURCE:   Cooking Light Magazine

Coconut Cream Poke Cake

Coconut Cream Poke Cake

Coconut Cream Poke Cake

 

For the time being can we just put aside the kale and zucchini?  We don’t need them.  We’re also going to set aside any twinges of guilt.  What we are going to do is make a white coconut cake that’s gooey with Cream of Coconut, fluffy whipped topping and lots of flaked coconut.  There! I said it and I’m not sorry in the least.  In fact I feel really good about it and I hope you do too.

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This is a very easy cake to make as most “poke” cakes are.  It is so moist and has such a great  creamy, coconut flavor that I think even folks who are not coconut lovers will fall in love with this one!  It’s a surprisingly light and fluffy cake in spite of being soaked with the cream of coconut.

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Coconut Cream Poke Cake:

Yield:  20 -24 servings:

Just a few ingredients.

Just a few ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1  (18-oz.) box white cake mix
  • ingredients needed to make cake ( eggs, oil and water)
  • 1 (15-oz,) can Cream of Coconut**
  • 1 (8-oz.) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 (8-oz.) package sweetened flaked coconut

** Be sure to use Cream of Coconut–not coconut milk.  Cream of Coconut can usually be found where alcohol supplies and mixers are in your grocery store.   It tends to be near the margarita mixes.  You will need to shake the can well or stir well when you open it, because the cream part tends to separate from the liquid.

Directions:

1.  Prepare and bake the white cake as the package directions specify.  Bake in a 9 x 13″ pan that has been well greased.

2.  Remove cake from oven, and while still hot, poke holes all over the top of the cake using a large fork.

Poke hole all over the top with a fork.

Poke hole all over the top with a fork.

3.  Open the can of Cream of Coconut –making sure to stir it well –and pour over warm cake.  Make sure you evenly coat the whole cake and spread it around so it will soak in.

Pour Cream of Coconut all over the top and let it soak in.

Pour Cream of Coconut all over the top and let it soak in.

4,  Let cake cool completely then frost with whipped topping.

Frost with whipped topping.

Frost with whipped topping.

5.  Top with flaked coconut.  If you like you can toast your coconut first but I prefer it un-toasted.

Top with flaked coconut.

Top with flaked coconut.

Keep cake refrigerated.   The cake will taste best after it has cooled for at least a couple of hours.  This gives it time for the coconut flavors to really soak in.

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Poke cakes are so easy to make, but give the impression  that you spent a lot of time on them.  If left in the baking pan and covered securely, they can be transported safely to an outing or picnic.  This one is no exception.  We all loved it!!

 

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SOURCE:  The Country Cook