Category Archives: desserts

I am more of a cook than a baker. You have to know. Cooking can be a little more, “change it till you like it” and baking is usually “follow the recipe exactly or it won’t turn out”. Here are my attempts at desserts. Usually they are pretty easy because like I said, I’m not much of a baker.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Marshmallow Eggs

I have a very small sweet tooth. Usually a piece of dark chocolate makes me happy after a meal. But at Easter I am usually pretty disappointed in the candy selection. So I make these… I have a hard time sharing them. Because no one enjoys these like I do.

heaven on a plate.

heaven on a plate.

Ingredients

¾ cup salted butter, melted
2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (two packages)
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 small container of marshmallow fluff
2 bags of dark chocolate melting wafers (found at any craft store)
and two egg shaped molds. (I use two so that while one is in the freezer ‘setting’ I can work on the other mold)

Instructions

Mix together the melted butter, powdered sugar, graham cracker crumbs, and peanut butter in a food processor until a crumbly dough forms. Set aside in the fridge.
Follow the instructions on the chocolate wafers and melt in the microwave. BEING CAREFUL NOT TO GET ANY WATER IN THE CHOCOLATE – or the chocolate will ‘seize’ and become unusable.
Spoon a little bit of chocolate into the bottom of each egg mold and while tilting the mold in your hand, ‘paint’ the sides of the mold so that there is a thin layer of chocolate coating the mold. Put pan in freezer for 10 minutes.
Once the bottom layer of chocolate has hardened, take the mold out of the freezer and put a small spoonful of marshmallow fluff in the mold.
Then move onto the peanut butter.
Remove the mixture out of the fridge. The peanut butter mixture should be pliable, like a stiff cookie dough. Shape the PB mixture into the shape of the mold and gently press it onto the marshmallow. Continue until all cups are filled.
Cover each peanut butter cup with a top layer of chocolate (if your chocolate has gotten too hard while waiting, you can put it in the microwave for a few more seconds to melt it again). Make sure that the chocolate covers the top and meets the sides of chocolate to completely enclose the peanut butter.
Put in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes to harden. They are ready to eat immediately!

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cornbread Cake

I hate recipes. Did you see my tagline? “…rarely follows a recipe…” This is another one of my Let’s See if This Works recipes. I had two apples that were starting to get a little wrinkly on the outside. Not really crisp enough to serve in my husband’s lunch but not soft enough to toss in the woods for a critter to enjoy. So I thought I’d try a caramel apple upside down cake. But being lazy and not wanting to follow a recipe I looked in the cupboard and had a little box of corn bread mix. Voila!

I mean... come on. SO YUMMY.

I mean… come on. SO YUMMY.

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cornbread Cake

Preheat oven to 350F and find a nice heavy 1 quart casserole dish or do like me and use your Pampered Chef 1 quart stone that you never used before and cross your fingers that it will come out.

Ingredients:

2 large apples, peeled (if you don’t like the peels), cut in half, cored and sliced semi-thinly (in other words, don’t use that apple slicer thingy that gives you 8 perfect pieces. It will not work here.)

4-6 tablespoons of light brown sugar – you’ll use one heaping tablespoon at a time.

2 tablespoons of room temperature butter, to be used to butter your dish and to dollop over the last layer of apples

lemon zest from a whole lemon

lemon juice from half a lemon

one box of Jiffy Cornbread Muffin Mix

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon of vanilla

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

Directions:

Place the apple slices, lemon zest and lemon in a bowl and toss to coat the apples

Butter the bottom of a 1 quart baking stone or casserole dish

Place 1 heaping tablespoon of brown sugar in bottom, sprinkled over top of the butter

place the apples in a pretty design (this will be the top once you remove it from the pan)

top the apples with a heaping tablespoon of brown sugar.

place another layer of apples and top with another heaping tablespoon of brown sugar. Keep doing this until you run out of apples. I think I got three or four layers of apples.

Top with brown sugar again and about one tablespoon of room temp butter, just pinched with your fingers and dolloped around the top.

Place apples in the oven at 350F for 15 minutes to help soften them a bit. This step isn’t really necessary if you like a firmer apple. I’m feeding the Queen of Picky-land so I have to soften them a bit more than usual.

Prepare the cornbread batter by mixing the egg, milk, vanilla, cornbread mix, 2 tbsp brown sugar in a bowl.

Remove the apples from the oven and top with the cornbread muffin mix. Shake the dish a little to allow the batter to run down through the crevices.

Bake again for 30 minutes or until cake is done. (toothpick comes out clean)

caramel apple upside down cornbread cake RIGHT-SIDE UP! It's still pretty this way, too.

caramel apple upside down cornbread cake RIGHT-SIDE UP! It’s still pretty this way, too.

Allow to rest 5-10 minutes before sliding a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it. Then  flip the cake onto a serving platter. If your cake doesn’t come out cleanly just don’t serve it to your guests on the platter. Excuse yourself to the kitchen to plop big portions of it into bowls and top with whipped cream or powdered sugar or ice cream, etc. etc. No one will ever know it wasn’t perfect. Heck, I think it looks pretty right-side up or upside down! Oh and p.s. You can leave this cake on the counter for a few hours but it’s best to refrigerate leftovers.

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cornbread Cake

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cornbread Cake

Enjoy!

Blackberry, Apple, Coconut Cake

Blackberry Apple Coconut Cake

Blackberry Apple Coconut Cake

I will mention again that I love to cook. I like to invent new things and create my own recipes. Add a little of this, a little of that… but baking? I’m a mess. I cannot make up my own recipe. I’m not sure how much baking powder or baking soda to use, nor do I understand the difference. And if I use cake flour? Ugh. Then what? What’s in cake flour that’s not in all-purpose flour?

So, my desserts will either be NON-BAKING ones, that I can play around with, like chocolate drizzled over popcorn or graham cracker peanut butter sandwiches dipped in chocolate. That’s what I can make up. The following recipe is not something I can make up. It’s divine though so I thought I’d share it. It’s a great dish to take to a brunch, or give as a gift to a friend that had a baby. If that’s your thing.

While this was baking Adrian, my five-year-old, ran to the kitchen to see if it was ready to eat. I can hope he discovers a new love for blackberries or I can hope he doesn’t like it and I can eat what is left on his plate.

Just kidding.

Not really.

Blackberry, Apple, Coconut Cake

From: http://www.nourishmagazine.co.nz/29/apple-blackberry-coconut-pudding/

(measurements are a bit odd because it’s translated from metric – just go with it.)

  • 2-3 apples, peeled and sliced – I usually make recipes like this when my apples need to be eaten. So I don’t have a recommendation on what kind of apple to use. Just use what you have. A tart apple like Granny Smith would be great but really, whatever you have will work.
  • 1 cup blackberries, rinsed and drained
  • 1 & 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 & ¾ cups sugar
  • 1 cup coconut (I used sweetened)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 stick, plus 2 Tablespoons of butter, melted
  • 1 & 1/3 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Grease an 8×8 baking dish and spread the sliced apples and blackberries over the base. In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together before adding the butter, lightly beaten eggs, milk and vanilla. Stir till well combined and then pour over the fruit.

Bake in a pre-heated 350F oven for 35-40 minutes. Serve warm with a dollop of ice cream or yogurt. Or in a bowl with milk, which is how I always eat my cakes and bread puddings.

Just to follow up, Adrian poked at it, said it was too hot & then ran away. Later he came back to try it and declared he didn’t like the “stained bread”. I told him he didn’t have to eat the blackberry but the apples and coconut and the rest of it was really yummy. Oh well. I ate it. My wish came true.

Adrian's Empty Plate

Adrian’s Empty Plate.

Leftovers should be refrigerated. Not that you will have any. And if you want to double it and freeze a pan, you can do that, too. It’s a very freezer-friendly cake.

Cranberry Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

cranberry orange Krusteaz mix used to make chocolate chip cookies

cranberry orange Krusteaz mix used to make chocolate chip cookies

Cranberry Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies 

  • 1 box Krusteaz cranberry orange quick bread/muffin mix (I even used the fat free box by accident and it still worked – but FYI, after adding the following ingredients – these are NOT fat free.)
  • 1 1/2 sticks softened butter (I microwave it till it’s soft enough to stir into ingredients. Doesn’t have to be melted completely)
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375F (lower if your oven bakes hot… I had to turn mine down to 350 at one point) Open can of cranberry in the package and drain off liquid. (do not rinse). Combine package of dry ingredients with the sugar and butter and egg. Mix to combine. Add cranberry and chocolate chips and drop by spoonfuls onto parchment lined cookie sheets leaving plenty of space because they spread. Bake 7 minutes and rotate cookie sheets and switch the bottom with the top and bake for 5-7 more minutes. As soon as you see tan edges take them out. They will continue to cook a bit on the hot cookie sheet. Allow to cool on sheet for two minutes. They are too soft to move at this point. Once cooled a little, you can slide them onto a cookie drying rack to continue cooling. Makes approx. 3 dozen cookies. Depending on the size of your cookie. I just made 50 cookies with my small Pampered Chef cookie scoop. Enjoy this super easy, fragrant, tangy, chocolatey cookie. I just enjoyed about 7 of them.

 

Crunchy Layered Coffee Cake with Jam

I watch an amazing amount of Food TV. My mom and I always did. Even before Food Network or Cooking Channel you could find us watching some show on PBS where the chef spoke French and there was an interpreter doing the voice-over. They cooked things I never heard of. But it was mesmerizing. Learning techniques on tv, in the early 90s, I’m sure helped sculpt my brain into what it is today. I was absorbing so much from those shows as a teenager and I’m grateful to my mom for allowing me to watch hours of it. Copper pots, whisks, foreign chefs, souffles, vegetables I never saw before… yeah. It was my own little heaven. Now, I watch food shows and try to decipher what is doable in my own kitchen and what I’d have to be a trained chef to accomplish. I watch a show called Unique Eats because the foodies talk about these dishes like I describe food. They ooh and aah over it and describe it in such a way that makes me want to hop a jet to L.A. to eat a crispy rabbit liver or fly to Austin to stuff my face with some brothy bowl of Ramen that took over 60 hours to craft. Yes. Ramen noodle soup. 60 hours. I want it. Anyway, in addition to watching food tv I also cooked a lot and helped in the kitchen as a kid with my mother and grandmother. My best advice if you feel like you are sub-par in the kitchen is to expose yourself to new things. Walk down the aisle in the grocery store that you never walked down before. Go slow. Look at it and think, “I like Chinese take-out. Maybe I can do this myself.” AND…. If you have kids, ask them if they want to help make menus. When you walk through the produce area, ask them what they’d like to try. If they pick up some prehistoric looking veggie say, “Okay! Looks fun!” and go home and Google that sh!t. They don’t need to know you’re clueless.

Oh, why was I telling you all of this? Well, during one of the episodes of Unique Eats they were describing a dessert that some chef makes. (never did catch the name of the restaurant or anything. I just made a mental note that it was clever.) She layered the CRUMBLE on the bottom of the tart pan. You know, the crunchy, crumbly buttery goodness that comes on the top of a muffin or coffee cake? Yeah. She put it on the bottom and baked it. Then layered a cake over top of it and did whatever else to it…. All I heard was the crumble was on the bottom. Oh I can totally do that.

I was on the hunt for a crumble recipe in my old church cookbooks. (Church cookbooks are the best. The older the better because you know they are true to the name: Uncle Carroll’s Bread and Butter Pickles, Aunt Hilda’s Meringue Kisses – these were not borrowed from Rachel Ray. These were really Carroll and Hilda’s recipes.) So I found a crumble recipe and tweaked it to fit the size pan I had. I also found a coffee cake recipe that I could work with. I melded the two recipes and added some homemade plum jam to create the layered look and this is what I got. It’s good hot out of the oven, or cold the next day in a bowl with milk poured over it.

Crunchy Layered Coffee Cake with Jam
Preheat oven to 350º F and grease an 8×8 pan with butter or cooking spray (greasing the sides is more important than the bottom I think… because the crumble on the bottom is very buttery)


Crumble

Using my grandmother's old old pastry cutter to make the crumble

Using my grandmother’s old old pastry cutter to make the crumble

In a bowl mix the following or place all of this in a food processor and pulse until crumbly:
1 C flour
1/2 C whole grain oats
1 C white sugar
2/3 C packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
and cut in 1 stick (1/2 C) COLD unsalted sweet cream butter

Once mixture is crumbly and butter is mixed in, place all but one cup of mixture in bottom of the pan. Remember: reserve one cup of mixture for later!
Gently press the mixture into the pan. As the butter melts it settles nicely to form a crust.

crumble crust after baking

crumble crust after baking

Just bake it for 20 minutes and then rotate the pan and finish baking for 8-10 more minutes. The crust will begin to appear before your eyes. Remove from oven to cool slightly but leave oven set to 350ºF.

 

 

While the crust is baking make the cake. You’ll need two bowls for this. One for wet, one for dry.


Cake

Dry:
1 1/2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 C sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

this is the wet stuff for the batter

this is the wet stuff for the batter

Wet:
1 egg
1/2 C milk (I used skim but anything will do. Including almond or soy)
1/4 C vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (use the pure stuff!)

Whisk wet ingredients to combine and pour into dry ingredients.

Once wet and dry are incorporated pour over crust that has been cooling slightly. Tap pan to release bubbles. Now drizzle 1/2 C preserves on top of cake batter. Glop it on, pour it on, whatever. My plum jam doesn’t use pectin so it is a little loose, thus it is easy to ‘pour’ over the cake batter.

finished layered coffee cake

finished layered coffee cake

Finally place that 1 C of crumble on top of the jam layer and then put it back in the oven.

Set timer for 20 minutes and rotate and check again in 10 minutes. Toothpick should come out clean. Remember the base layer has already baked so you just have to get the toothpick through the cake layer.

Enjoy warm or cold. (Keep leftovers refrigerated)