Saturday, February 21, 2009

It's A Bundt -- Pear Spice Cake

I love a bundt. Every time I make a bundt cake, I think of the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where the fiance's parents bring over the bundt cake to the Greek parents. They had never seen one before and didn't know what to make of it.
I had this recipe starred in my Google reader from 2 sources, Dinner and Dessert and Joy the Baker. I just happened to have some leftover pears and whipped cream from Valentine's Day weekend and some leftover buttermilk from making cornbread, so this seemed to be the perfect thing to bake today. It is a very yummy recipe!

Pear Spice Cake with Walnut Praline Topping
from Joy the Baker, who adapted it from Gourmet magazine

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, separated (I just used the whole eggs in the batter & didn't make the egg whites)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cups buttermilk
3 pears, peeled, cored and diced into roughly 1/2-inch pieces (I used 2 pears)
1 cup walnuts (3 ounces), toasted , cooled, and finely chopped (I used 1/2 cup pecans)

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour bundt pan.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Beat together butter, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg in another bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes in a standing mixer or 4 with a handheld. Add yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low, then add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in batches, mixing well after each addition. Fold in pear pieces and chopped walnuts.

Beat egg whites in another bowl with cleaned beaters until they just hold stiff peaks, then fold whites into batter gently but thoroughly.

Spoon batter into pan, smoothing top, and bake until a wooden pick or skewer comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then invert onto rack and cool completely.

Walnut Praline Topping
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cups walnuts, roughly chopped, toasted (I used about 1/2 cup pecans)

Stir golden brown sugar, whipping cream and 1/2 cup butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat until smooth. Boil 3 minutes, stirring often. Stir in walnut pieces. Spoon warm topping over warm cake. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Salted Pecan Carmel Blondie Cake

Valentine's Day dessert was a delicious new recipe that I found while looking through The Washington Post Food section. It was a yummy combination of blondie + homemade caramel sauce + toasted pecans. I give this a thumbs up!

from The Washington Post

For the blondie base
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the foil
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the topping
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves (I used pecan pieces instead of halves)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
For the blondie base: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the sides and bottom of a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with a piece of aluminum foil that is long enough to extend over two ends of the pan. Use butter to grease the foil.
Combine the flour, baking soda and salt on a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper.

Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer; beat on low speed for about 1 minute, until smoothly blended.

Add the eggs and vanilla extract, beating to incorporate, then add the flour mixture; beat just until the mixture is smooth.

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Cool the bars in the baking pan on a wire rack, about 1 hour.

For the topping: Heat the cream in a small saucepan. Do not let it boil; adjust the heat to keep it warm while you cook the sugar.

Combine the water and sugar in a heavy medium saucepan over low heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Uncover, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Cook for about 6 minutes without stirring until the sugar turns a dark golden color. Watch it carefully so it does not begin to burn. Remove from the heat.

Slowly add the hot cream. The mixture will bubble up, so be careful. Slowly stir until smoothly combined. Add the salt and vanilla extract, stirring to incorporate. Let cool for about 1 1/2 hours, until the caramel is thick enough to cling to the cake. The cooled sauce can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the pecans and melted butter in a medium bowl, stirring to coat the nuts evenly. Sprinkle the sugar and salt over the nuts, stirring to coat evenly. Scrape the nuts onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading them in a single layer. Bake for a total of 15 minutes, stirring once after 8 minutes. Let cool completely.

To assemble: Use the foil to lift the cooled blondie slab from the pan. Cut the slab in half crosswise, creating 2 pieces that each measure 9 by 6 1/2 inches. Trim off the edges evenly. Slide one half-slab onto a serving plate. Tuck wax paper strips just an inch or so under the bottom of the cake all the way around to keep the plate clean. Spread about 1/2 cup of caramel sauce over the top of the cake and place about 1/2 cup of pecans over the sauce. 

Transfer the remaining cake, bottom side up, over the filling, centering it carefully. Spread about 3/4 cup of caramel sauce over the cake, letting some drip down the sides. Spoon the 
remaining pecans over the top and drizzle 1/4 cup caramel sauce over the nuts. There will be about 1/2 cup of sauce remaining.

Use a large, sharp knife to cut the cake. Serve with additional caramel sauce, if desired.

Recipe Source: From cookbook author Elinor Klivans.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day Recipes

Happy Valentine's Day! I am back finally with new updates for 2009. Yes, it's been a long time. Our camera died and we finally got a new one (Cannon Powershot A1000IS), which I am trying to learn how to use. Hopefully I will be able to keep up and start posting new & exciting recipes. For valentine's this year, we decided to stay in and I made a homecooked meal.

Against my better judgement, I used a steak marinade from I am usually underwhelmed by some of the recipes on there-even the ones with good ratings. It was called the Best Steak Marinade in Existence. was okay. Maybe it needed to marinate for the full day instead of just a few hours.

The sweet potato casserole, a request from my husband was delicious! I usually don't go by a recipe, but this time I followed one from the food network and then threw in some canned pineapple like usual and topped it with roasted marshmallows! Yum!
For the Appetizer, I decided to go with one that I made in the past. It was very good! The pears complemented the prosciutto in a good way, along with the cream sauce.
Roasted Prosciutto-Wrapped Pear With Blue Cheese Cream
from The Washington Post
The pear wedges may be wrapped up to 2 hours before serving.

6 very thin slices prosciutto, trimmed of excess fat (used one 3 oz package)
1/2 medium Bartlett or Anjou pear, cored and cut into 6 wedges (used 2 Anjou pears)
3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons light cream (used heavy whipping cream)
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped thyme (used dried)
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Lay the prosciutto slices side by side on a work surface. Place a pear wedge near the end of each one and roll up. Transfer the wrapped pear wedges to the baking sheet and roast about 6 minutes, until the prosciutto is lightly browned and the pear has softened.

Meanwhile, combine the blue cheese, cream and thyme in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook about 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the cheese melts. Season with pepper to taste. Arrange the roasted wrapped pears on a plate around a small bowl containing the blue cheese cream. Serve immediately.

1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons dried basil
1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (optional)
1 teaspoon dried minced garlic (optional)

Place the soy sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, basil, parsley, and pepper in a blender. Add hot pepper sauce and garlic, if desired. Blend on high speed for 30 seconds until thoroughly mixed.

Pour marinade over desired type of meat. Cover, and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. Cook meat as desired.
Sweet Potato Casserole
from Food Network Kitchens

2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 3 large), scrubbed (I used 4 potatoes)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted plus more for the preparing the pan
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper (I omitted)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans (I topped with marshmallows)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and pierce each one 2 or 3 times with a fork. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until tender. Set aside to cool.

Turn the oven down to 350 degrees F. Scoop the sweet potato out of their skins and into a medium bowl. Discard the skins. Mash the potatoes until smooth. Add the eggs, butter, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and pepper to taste. Whisk the mixture until smooth.

Butter an 8 by 8-inch casserole. Pour the sweet potato mixture into the pan and sprinkle the top with the pecans. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until a bit puffy. Serve immediately.