Oatmeal Cream Pies

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Happy Monday!

My husband was away fishing for a week, so I wanted to make him something that I knew would make him excited to come home (besides me). And so, I decided to make these Oatmeal Cream Pies that he rates a 10/10. He’s hard to impress, but these sure do it!

As a child, I remember coming home from school and being elated to open up a pre-packaged snack like a “Cosmic Brownie” (anyone remember those colorful round sprinkles?) or an “Oatmeal Cream Pie”. I was overjoyed. The marshmallow, creamy filling with the earthy, brown sugar laden oats always made my day. The Moon Pies came as a close second growing up as well..graham cracker, chocolate outside, and marshmallow inside–the perfect instant smore.

And as much as the nostalgia waves can entice me to want to go for those snacks again, I much prefer making them from scratch, especially these Oatmeal Cream Pies. Sorry, Little Debbie, but I need you to step aside.

These Oatmeal Cream Pies are absolutely perfect. The cookie itself is very soft from the molasses, butter, and brown sugar. The filling is gooey and sweet to contrast the hearty oats.

Major Tips: It is essential to make sure you absolutely wait for the cookies to be completed cooled before moving them and/or applying the filling! They will fall apart otherwise! Also, do NOT overmix–you don’t want to toughen the batter! Last tip: Make sure you space out the cookies as specified in the recipe otherwise they will spread into one another.

This dessert is so easy to make, and they take almost no time to prepare.  They bake for 7-9 minutes, which means you can have your dessert ready in about 30 minutes or less, including cooling time. You don’t need to be a slave to your oven to make these, making it appealing to make all year long, including the summer!

These are great to make ahead as the cookie itself will not dry out. If you bring these to a party, you’ll definitely be a hit! You’ll be making everyone reminisce their childhood, but you’ll be taking over that memory with the bakery-like freshness from this homemade version. Enjoy! 🙂

Ingredients for 8 sandwiches (this recipe can be doubled easily!)

Cookies
1 cup light brown sugar, packed 1 cup butter, melted
1⁄3 cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 cups old-fashioned oat, or quick oat

Filling
1⁄2 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon milk, or heavy cream (you may need to add more if the consistency is too thick)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup marshmallow creme (Fluff, Jet-puffed–whatever you can find. Tip: If it says 7 ounces on the jar, it will work–so need to buy two containers!)                                            1/4 cup of powdered sugar **(optional–the marshamallow creme makes this sweet enough for sure)

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, mix the butter and brown sugar until well combined.
3. Add the molasses, vanilla, and eggs, and whisk thoroughly.
4. Sift in the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix until just combined.
5. Add the oats and mix until incorporated. Be careful not to overmix the batter or it might result in tougher cookies.
6. Using an ice cream scoop (or about 2 tablespoons), scoop out cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving about 3 inches (8 cm) between each one. You may also use a silicone pat if you have one as well!
7. Bake for 7-9 minutes. The cookies will still be very soft, so be sure to let them cool thoroughly. Be sure to let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about two to three minutes before moving to a cooling rack so they don’t fall apart.
8. While cooling, make the filling by beating the butter, milk, vanilla, and marshmallow fluff until well combined. I used my immersion blender, but a hand blender or stand mixer would work fine as well.
9. Once the cookies are cooled, put a spoonful of the filling on one cookie and sandwich with another. Repeat until all the sandwiches are made.

 

Mini Carrot Cakes Three Ways: Trifle, Truffle, and Petit Fours (and a Bonus Recipe!)

 

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Happy Hump Day!

I definitely made these carrot cakes weeks ago, and I am certainly late in posting this recipe; however, my film editor and I made the video in a timely manner, and I am excited to announce that we are beginning to shoot videos to correlate with the blog from today onwards…exciting!

Heres the video!

I’ve always loved carrot cake; I had a terrible craving a few weeks ago, but I didn’t necessarily want to make an entire two-three layered cake for myself (although that would probably go quickly, without fail). I am a fan of mini desserts; they’re whimsical, fun, and they don’t make the diet conscious too jealous. 🙂

I decided to show you three ways of making mini carrot cakes because I couldn’t personally decide what I wanted to make. You don’t need to make three batches, either. All from one recipe you have three different desserts! If you have a favorite style, feel free to just make all petit fours or all trifles. It’s all up to you!

So…what’s the difference among the three?

Trifle: Layering cake and alternating with cream/frosting. This is great when you have a cake crumble/fall apart, but you want to make it look like it was intentionally “deconstructed.” Put it in a shot glass or martini glass to show that it’s all ready for the party.

Truffle: Similar to the aforementioned situation, you could have a crumbly cake and bind it back together with some frosting/cream and shape it into a fun ball. Truffles sound fancier than cake pop, but who are we fooling? Feel free to coat these in white chocolate (like the petit four below) to keep its shape and give it a sweeter edge.

Petit Four: Ah, the creme of the creme. The small, tiny, perfect bite of layered cake.  You can make it with the cream cheese frosting alone, or you may coat it in white chocolate on top to go for the sweetest level of deliciousness. I make round and square . Note: Round is easiest for pouring frosting and is the traditional “carrot cake shape.” Square can be done with or without the petit four cutter, but wastes much less cake than its circular counterpart.

If you are making these for entertaining, you may want to offer some choice for your guests. Also, it’s to show you how you can use one baking sheet pan to make a multitude of desserts. I can foresee this recipe coming into extreme popularity around Easter. For some people, they forget the sheer brilliance a carrot can bring to a dessert. I guess the fluffy bunnies serve as a reminder. 🙂

Hopefully, making this recipe will inspire you to make your other favorite cake recipes in a similar manner: a small, thin layer on a baking sheet. I first learned this when I made Seven Layer (Rainbow) cookies over Christmas. I had a similar revelation when I made Almond Petit Fours with Apricot Jam for my friend’s baby’s first birthday. Making tiny cakes are now becoming quite the pastime for me! Any recipe that has similar measurements that I am mentioning below will work! I think I might do a chocolate cake with raspberry mousse and chocolate ganache petit four for Valentine’s Day! Decadent bites are the best!

If you are fine with square cuts, you don’t necessarily need to order a petit four cutter; however, I find using my round and square petit four cutter has come in handy. I ordered mine on Amazon.

Alright, Doc…here we go!

Carrot Cake Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cup of sour cream
  • ¼ cup  canola oil
  • ½ cup  sugar
  • ½ cup (100gr) brown sugar, light or dark
  • 1 cup  of finely grated carrots (preferably using a Microplane)

Optional, but recommended…

  • 4 ounces of chopped pecans (or you can also use walnuts, if you like!)
  • White chocolate candy coating (Microwavable tray, if possible)** (only if you want to have a candy coating for the truffle or petit four)

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 8oz cream cheese at room temperature
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

**P.S: You will have leftover icing, and you will not have a problem finding uses for it. Make some cinnamon rolls, or do what I did the next day…I made “Cinnamon Roll(ed) French Toast). So. Good. (I will post the “bonus” recipe) at the bottom.

First, make the cake!

  1. Take everything out that you need and grate your carrots before you begin! It’s quite the arm workout. 🙂 All ingredients should be at room temperature for this recipe. While you’re prepping, pre-heat your oven.
  2. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 375°F . Line 17x11in baking sheet with a parchment paper and spray cooking spray all over the parchment paper and on the sides. If you don’t have parchment paper, you can survive–just make sure you use enough cooking spray to get the cake out! It’s very thin!
  3. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
  4. In a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, mix together eggs, sour cream, oil, sugar and brown sugar until well combined. You may also add some vanilla extract here, about one teaspoon. Add flour mixture and mix just until combined. Don’t overmix at this point. Fold in grated carrots from bottom to top.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared baking sheet and tap a few times to get rid of bubbles. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and inserted toothpick comes out clean. It took me about 15 minutes.
  6. Make the frosting while the cake is cooling. Beat butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until fluffy for 1 minute. Add powdered sugar, heavy cream and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for a minute. Then increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Transfer into a piping bag with plain round tip, if desired. If you don’t have a pastry bag, put your filling inside of a ziplock baggie. Squeeze it to a corner and using a scissor, clip a very small tip.

***To make all three desserts, I use a butter knife around the edge and slice vertically into three even pieces. I allocate one third of the cake to each dessert. Even if you’re only making the petit four, for example, you still want to slice the cake into thirds as you want layers of cake. This prevents you having to bake another sheet pan’s worth! You’ll be stacking one on top of the other.

Directions for Each Dessert

Trifle: In a given glass (martini or shot preferable), cut out and/or crumble carrot cake on the bottom. On top of this layer, add your cream cheese frosting. Alternate frosting and cake until you reached the very top.

Truffle: Scoop out 2-3 tablespoons of cake. Starting with a tablespoon of cream cheese frosting, put a dollop in your hands with the cake and roll into a ball like you would a meatball. Put in the freezer once rolled. Microwave the white chocolate. Stir every minute or so. Once properly melted, dip the truffle (or cake pop) into the tray and coat entirely. Let the truffle’s coating harden on a piece of parchment paper. To speed up the process, you may put the truffles inside a refrigerator.

Petit Fours: Cut out your petit fours using your round and/or square petit four cutter. If you don’t have one, you may use a ruler and cut squares by making elongated cuts diagonally.  Place the cutout cake layers on wire rack. Pipe a heaping tablespoon of frosting on half of the cake squares/ circles. Put another matching cake on top. If going for less sweetness/tradition, put some cream cheese filling on top,  using an offset spatula lightly spread the frosting and sprinkle optional pecans.

Alternative approach (if you are short on time/impatient)…put cream cheese frosting on whole layer of cake (remember, you cut your cake into three?) without cutting it into smaller pieces. Place a whole third of cake on top and press down. Put in the freezer for a few minutes to seal together. Using your petit four cutters/knife (if you’re cutting by hand), cut out your small cakes.

If you would like to candy coat your petit fours, make sure you freeze the cut cakes first. Melt your microwavable white chocolate tray in one minute alternates, stirring each minute for proper melting consistency. Once hot and melted, dip your cake and use a spoon to cover the entire mini cake with coating.Let the petit four’s coating harden on a piece of parchment paper. To speed up the process, you may put the truffles inside a refrigerator. Before it hardens completely, sprinkle on pecans, if desired. If you do not do it while it’s hot, it will not stick!

Enjoy!

Bonus Recipe: Cinnamon Roll(ed) French Toast (Recipe inspired by Scrambled Chefs)

 

16194903_727584080734383_6643892865896689340_n.jpgIngredients

  • 12 slices of white bread, crusts removed
  • butter for greasing the pan (or you can use cooking spray)
Cream Cheese Topping
  • Use your leftover cream cheese icing from above!
Cinnamon Filling
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp cinnamon powder
Egg Mixture
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon (add more if you want!)
  • 1 teaspoon of white sugar
Cinnamon Sugar Coating
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon powder

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients to make cinnamon filling. At this time, take out your leftover cream cheese frosting and make sure it’s room temperature.
  2. Prepare the egg mixture by slightly beating the egg and adding milk to it. Mix well. Add cinnamon and sugar as directed.
  3. Combine white sugar and cinnamon powder in a plate and set aside.
  4. Remove crusts from the white bread slices and with the help of a rolling pin, roll up the bread flat.
  5. Spread ½ to ¾ tbsp worth of cinnamon filling onto the bread and roll up. You do not need anything to help this stick together as the filling will do that for you. Roll it up tightly!
  6. In a non-stick pan, heat a little butter on a low to medium heat. Dip the roll ups into the egg mixture and place on the frying pan.  Let excess dredge before placing in the pan. Don’t overcrowd the pan. I made about 6 at once (they look like tiny eggrolls, but man are they filling!)
  7. Keep turning the french toast every 30 to 45 seconds or until slightly golden brown on one side.
  8. Remove from pan when every side is down and immediately put them in the coating mixture prepared early. Roll it around while it’s hot so it sticks.
  9. Serve with cream cheese glaze as a topping or for dipping.
  10. Serve immediately for the sweetest breakfast/dessert! 🙂

Bacardi Gold Spiked Peach Trifles

Bacardi Gold

Happy Saturday!

I love to cook; I like to bake, but people–it’s summer. All the recipes should be easy, light, and fun. More time should be spent outdoors than in during this time of year. Today’s post will make sure that you are enjoying life instead of slave driving in the kitchen (although I have a lot of fun in here, usually!) This recipe is tasty, fun, and easy. It’s particularly a crowd pleaser because of the booze (I used Bacardi Gold Rum)–alcohol in desserts always piques people’s interest. Now if you need to sober up this recipe, not to worry–this tastes fine with lesser or no alcohol, too.

I made this trifle last week to complement my future Mother In Law’s grilled kebabs. Her friend made this really awesome bean and rice salad (yes, rice can be made into a salad–I will post that recipe eventually), and I figured I would make dessert. I wanted to utilize the peaches that she had on the counter, and my mind went immediately to the trifle. It’s so easy, and it’s great to make ahead! Store bought pound cake makes this recipe nice because you won’t need to turn on your oven, either!

For those of you who don’t know what a trifle is, essentially it’s a layered dessert that traditionally has alternates sponge cake, fruit, and custard/pudding filling in a “trifle” (which is a large glass bowl that’s used for entertaining). I find that the trifle bowl does look lovely for presentation, but once you dig into it to scoop some out, it gets messy and ruins all the beauty you destroyed in preparing it. To me, I rather make the dessert more fun by making this into individual servings. Because mine have booze, I like to put these in martini glasses. Alternatively, you could use a smaller pudding cup as well. Any smaller glass can do!

For this trifle, I am using vanilla pudding, pound cake, and sweet, ripened peaches. They are perfectly paired for summer, and they take almost no time to prepare.

These peach trifles are not only easy to make, but they are easy to devour. As many of my readers know, I don’t always look for the simplest recipes to make. I always complicate things to make it gain just the slightest edge in flavor. I have made this trifle many times in many variations. When I feel like I need more of a challenge, I will substitute the pudding out and actually create a vanilla bean custard instead. But the truth…is in the pudding.

Yes, I used (gasp) pudding mix, and to make my crime worsened, I even used INSTANT PUDDING. You can get a soft set from instant pudding in about 5 minutes by simply whisking whole milk and the pudding powder. When the pool or the ocean is calling my name, I rather not turn on the stove and waste an extra 20, 30 minutes. If you really feel guilty about not making “real pudding,” by all means, go traditionally here. Or go gourmet like I’ve done before and make a fine custard. Up to you, peaches. 🙂

Lastly, I do believe in the authenticity of whipped cream being fresh. You do not prepare the whipped cream until you’re about to serve, but every thing else could made ahead. I usually make this about 4-5 hours before serving.

By the way, if you are drawn to this because of the alcohol, I would like to say that there is flexibility in which type of alcohol you use as well. When I made this recipe originally, I used Jim Bean (this is a southern inspired recipe that calls for bourbon). I personally think the rum is more summery, and it complements the peaches very well, but using bourbon is perfectly acceptable; that’s what I used last year! Rum and cake are always a great pairing, just ask the Caribbean natives! 🙂

Grocery List

1 (3 1/2-ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix (or you can use the larger package if you plan on making more)
2 cups milk
6-8 large fresh peaches, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 (20-ounce) package pound cake
1/3 cup gold rum (I used Bacardi)**–Again, if you want to leave the booze out, that’s perfectly fine!
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

 

Simple Directions (Recipe makes 6-8 individual servings)

1.) Prepare pudding mix according to package directions, using 2 cups milk. Cover and chill 5 minutes in the refrigerator.

2.) Peel the skin off your peaches. Once the peaches are peeled, slice them into a cubed dice. Discard the pit and skins.

3.) If your peaches aren’t particularly sweet, toss diced peaches with granulated sugar (1-3 teaspoons, depending on sweetness of the peaches in their natural state.) Taste to make sure.

4.) Cut pound cake into cubes. Place half of cake cubes on bottom of a martini class; drizzle evenly with half of gold rum.

5.) Next, spoon half of peach mixture evenly over cake cubes. Spread half of pudding over peaches. Repeat with remaining cake cube, rum, peach mixture, and pudding. Cover and chill at least 2 hours.

6.) Upon being ready to serve, beat whipping cream at medium speed with an electric mixer until foamy; gradually add powdered sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Spread whipped cream over trifle; sprinkle with almonds. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Heart Shaped Strawberry Banana Bread

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Happy Wednesday!

Banana bread is the ultimate breakfast/dessert that almost everyone loves, and yet, there are thousands among thousands of recipes. Banana bread is fantastic because it allows for people to use up those bananas that we forgotten about. The longer they’ve been sitting out, the better. If they are spotted brown or even black, use them up! The natural sweetness is truly enhanced over time. Please do not make banana bread with fresh bananas–it is truly a disservice to this delicious sweet bread.

Banana bread, in addition to being tasty, has almost no prep work. All you need is a mixing bowl, a whisk, and a spatula. Once the mixture is made, you plop it (nicely) in your pan of choice. It’s so easy it should be illegal.

The only thing I don’t like about banana bread is how long it takes to cook. I mean, who wants to wait an hour plus time for cooling? If you make banana bread in a different pan (like a muffin pan or my mini heart shaped cake pan, for example), it will cook faster and taste just as good. My banana bread took approximately 25 minutes (but be mindful–the larger the pan, the longer the cook time!) Personally, I used my heart shaped cake pan because I was one of those suckers that buys heart shaped everything. Just because it’s not Valentine’s day any more does not mean that I can’t express my love any other time…to banana bread, I mean Zach. Plus, if you use a smaller pan, you won’t have too many crumbs like you would if you were to use a loaf pan and had to cut individual slices.

Strawberries and bananas just go so well together. They’re really good buds. I was on a chocolate covered strawberry kick from Valentine’s day, so I bought two pounds of strawberries…for myself. Yes, I know, it’s absurd. Once I got the idea of chocolate covered strawberries out of my system, I realized I needed to make some better use out of the strawberries, and voila–strawberry banana bread was born.

The real peel

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2  teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large or 3 small bananas)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered and tossed in 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (helps prevent sinking to bottom of the pan)

Go bananas!

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray your muffin/cake pan/loaf pan of choice.
  2. In a large bowl, mix egg, light brown sugar, canola oil, granulated sugar, sour cream and vanilla. Use a whisk!
  3. Once combined, add 1 1/4 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and fold with spatula or stir gently with a spoon until just combine– don’t overmix. You don’t want to make your bread tough.
  4. Add the bananas and fold gently to combine. I squished the bananas with my hands, but feel free to mash them with a masher or fork beforehand.
  5. Quarter your strawberries. First cut across to take off the tops (if you’re using fresh). Next cut it lengthwise in half. Lastly, quarter each half piece. Toss strawberries in flour as you go (lightly); you will add the strawberries tossed in about 3 tablespoons flour or so and fold gently to combine.
  6. Turn batter out into the prepared pan , smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.
  7. Bake for about  25-30 minutes if you are using a mini cake pan. If you are using a traditional loaf pan, bake for 55 to 65 minutes (I baked 60 minutes) or until the top is golden and a toothpick can come out clean.
  8. Leave banana bread in its respective pan for about 15 minutes, and then transfer carefully to a cooling rack.
  9. Baking times will vary based on moisture content of bananas and strawberries, so be sure to check every ten minutes or so. Eat immediately or within the week; you may freeze the bread for 6 months, alternatively.

Kahlua and Bacardi Tiramisu

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This is my absolute favorite dessert I make. Seriously. It’s one of those recipes that your grandmother makes on special occasions, but never will tell you quite everything that’s in it when everyone asks. Grandma does not want her notoriety to vanish for the sake of appeasing your curiosity. It’s so alluring and delicious that as grandma, you are expected to make it, and as the envious family member, you are expected not to be able to ever learn how to make it!

This is my traditional, go-to-and-impress-him dessert for Valentine’s Day, but don’t feel the need to wait for a holiday. Make this because it’s Wednesday. Make this because you love chocolate and coffee. Make this because you love yourself-you don’t need a special occasion at all. There’s something about its layered espresso goodness that makes everyone smile. Tiramisu, which literally means “pick me up,” has plenty of coffee, espresso, liqueur, and rum to keep you going!

Once she starts making Tiramisu, she will be just fine!

What’s the best thing about making Tiramisu? It’s fancy and tasty without the need for an oven. There is technically no baking involved, but you will need a good stand mixer (or regular electric mixer) because you will need to make sure you get the consistency of the mascarpone and whipped cream mixture right. Other than that, this is the perfect dessert to make for your sweetheart. You can make it in about forty minutes of prep work, leave it overnight, and wake up to a decadent treat.

Cast of Characters (Ingredients):

2 cups strong brewed coffee, room temperature
1 1/2tablespoons instant espresso powder
6 1/2 tablespoons Kahlua, divided, 2 1/2 tablespoons Bacardi Rum
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold heavy cream, divided
24 ounces mascarpone cheese
14 ounces dried ladyfingers (savoiardi) <–Typically, two boxes worth.
3 1/2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder <–Go for unsweetened! I used Hershey’s Cocoa Unsweetened.

The most expensive and probably difficult ingredients to find if you do not live in an Italian neighborhood are mascarpone and ladyfingers. When I asked for the mascarpone cheese in my neighborhood grocery store, the attendant asked me if it was similar to parmigiana cheese. Uh, no! This is a sweet, Italian cream cheese! Although he could not help me, I eventually found what I was looking for by the chocolate covered strawberries. Maybe other people see that this, too, is the best Valentine’s Day/anniversary/romantic occasion dessert? The secret must be out…

Can you use regular Philadelphia cream cheese instead? No. If you need to order it from Amazon.com because you live in Minnesota, then so be it. It’s worth the wait. I will say that if you are feeling extra creative, you can make your own savoiardi (ladyfingers), but the ones that come from Italian bakeries are more than excellent.

Okay, as with any baking where you are whipping a cream, you need to make sure your bowls that you are mixing with are chilled. If you really are short on time, throw them in a freezer and start to prepare everything else in the meantime. Cold bowls will help get the nice, fluffy peak you need out of your mixture.

To begin, you need the following:

A stand-mixer (or electric mixer–DO NOT MIX BY HAND WITH A WHISK)

Two mixing bowls (chilled)

A 13 x 9 inch Pyrex (you can do any similar size if needed, but you may have more or less mixture needed)

A rubber spatula

Get on the Grind

1. Prepare the ladyfinger coffee mixture. Brew two cups of coffee (and if you have, you can also brew one shot of espresso) and pour into a large bowl. Measure 2 1/2 tablespoons of Kahlua, 2 1/2 tablespoons Bacardi Rum, and  1 1/2 tablespoon of Instant Espresso Powder. Stir all ingredients into the espresso powder has dissolved.

2. Crack eggs and separate whites from yolks. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat yolks at low speed until just combined. Gradually add sugar and salt and beat at medium-high speed until pale yellow, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula once or twice. Add 1/3 cup of the heavy cream to yolks and beat at medium speed until just combined, 20 to 30 seconds, and then scrape bowl. Do not over beat!

***If you have pasterurized eggs and want to eat Tiramisu traditionally, proceed. For those of you who are bothered by the concept of a raw egg, you can do this optional step to cook the eggs lightly.***

OPTIONAL: Set the bowl with yolks over a medium saucepan containing 1 inch of gently simmering water; cook, constantly scraping along bottom and sides of bowl with heatproof rubber spatula, until mixture coats back of spoon and registers 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 4 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir vigorously to cool slightly, then set aside to cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

3. Whisk in remaining 4 tablespoons Kahlua until combined. Transfer bowl to standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, add mascarpone, and beat at medium speed until no lumps remain, 30 to 45 seconds. Transfer mixture to large bowl and set aside. DO NOT OVERBEAT! IF IT IS LIQUIFIED, YOU CANNOT FIX IT.

4. In now-empty mixer bowl, beat the remaining heavy cream at medium speed until frothy, 1 to 1 1/2minutes. Increase speed to high and continue to beat until the cream holds stiff peaks, 1 to 1 1/2minutes longer. Using a rubber spatula, fold one-third of the whipped cream into mascarpone mixture to lighten, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Set mascarpone mixture aside.

5. Assemble your lady fingers by soaking them first, one-by-one, into a 13 x 9 Pyrex. Grab one ladyfinger, drop and roll in the coffee/rum mixture for about two seconds. Do not let it get soggy! Because it will be sit overnight, it will continue to get very moist. In fact, by the third day of leftovers, it may be almost “too wet.” It’s just an excuse to eat it all right away.

6. For each ladyfinger you soak, you must put the cookie on the bottom of the Pyrex. You are making one layer with just soaked ladyfingers first. You may have to break some in half to fit perfectly for your individual pan.

7. Apply the first half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers; use rubber spatula to spread mixture to sides and into corners of dish and smooth surface. Place 2 tablespoons cocoa in fine-mesh strainer and dust cocoa over mascarpone or simply sprinkle it on. You can also sprinkle a little espresso powder for more oomph!

8. Repeat dipping and arrangement process of ladyfingers by placing the newly soaked ladyfingers on top of mascarpone mixture; spread remaining mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers and dust with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least 6-8 hours. Cut into pieces and serve chilled. Leftovers can be stored, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Blueberry Crumb Cake with Streusel Topping

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Happy Friday! It seems to be that everyone I know is experiencing some sort of insane weather, so this might be the perfect recipe if you’re stuck inside like many of us are! I would also save this for a “rainy/snowy/icy day” because there are a lot of dishes involved (sorry), but not really any more fuss than that. I love recipes that involve one mixing bowl, but generally speaking, this rarely happens because of the importance of having wet and dry ingredients separated. What adds another “bowl” to your dish load is the cream cheese layer, which should justify the elbow grease!

I am not really one for rules, but with baking, I have to conform. Separate dry and wet ingredients, level when you measure (make sure your cup and a half is actually a cup and a half), and make sure that your butter and eggs are actually room temperature (for as long as possible–the longer they are authentically room temperature, the better the flavor!) Of course these rules are not only applicable to this baked good, but all of them. All the rules stress me out in baking, but the results are usually always perfect. Predictability is rather comforting.

Speaking of predictability, I had to improvise an oven situation for today because I used a new oven cleaner in my main oven, and when I turned it on, the solution did not come off as I thought it did and started to smoke and smell chemical-laden. Blah. I think I’ll stick to my old ways of oven cleaning. I figured that NH3 (ammonia) at 350 degrees would not really make my cake so delicious, so I turned on my toaster oven and pulled out the racks to make way for my crumb cake. I couldn’t believe that I had enough room in there to put in my springform pan! I was scared it wouldn’t cook evenly (what if my Black and Decker isn’t the right temperature?), but it all worked out fine. The recipe is infallible.

Going back to this cake in particular, it is technically a “coffee cake,” which is very misleading because there is no coffee in it. However, coffee is the perfect compliment, and if you’re a coffee lover, make sure you have your java ready to go. I like calling it a crumb cake because of the streusel topping. Normally, when I eat streusel topping, it’s overly sweet and overpowering. This cake and topping is not excessive in its sugar content which I think makes it great to eat any time of day (particularly, breakfast). There are blueberries in it which makes it antioxidant-filled and less guilty. So yes, even resolutionists can eat this cake with moderate ease.

Let’s get started!

The Usual Suspects

You’ll basically need a stick of butter, three eggs (one of which will be divided by egg yolk and egg white), sour cream,  cream cheese bar or Neufchâtel, vanilla extract, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, vanilla, blueberries (fresh or frozen). You have most of these within your pantry and refridgerator, and here’s a fun tip: get blueberries at the dollar store (yes, I have and they’re great for baking!)

Filling:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese-softened (if you’re feeling healthy like me (ha), you can use Neufchâtel cheese because there is less fat and no taste compromise)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)**(if frozen, please coat those suckers with flour so they don’t sink! Also, do not defrost blueberries!)
Cake Layer:
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 5.5 Tablespoons unsalted butter- softened at room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup sour cream
Streusel layer:
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter-chilled and cubed (very, very cold!)
Start Your Engines 
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 8 or 9 inch springform pan; you may use parchment paper if you have it, but if you butter the bottom enough, you won’t need it. Make sure you grease the sides of the springform pan!
  2. Filling: Mix together the cream cheese/Neufchâtel and sugar on medium-low speed until creamy. Add egg white towards the end of the process; mix on low just to combine. (Please save the egg yolk from this for the cake batter!) You may add vanilla in here, if you wish (but it’s not necessary.) If you don’t have another mixer bowl, wash it out and put mixture aside in a separate bowl.
  3. Cake: In a bowl, begin your dry ingredients. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and set aside. With an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar on medium-low speed until fluffy. Slowly add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Slowly mix in the flour mixture alternating with the sour cream carefully. Transfer the batter into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Next, spread the cream cheese filling on top.  Coat blueberries (if frozen) in flour, and shake off excess (make sure it looks like they’re covered). Arrange blueberries onto cream cheese filling on top. You may add more than a cup of blueberries, if you wish. You could alternatively make a blueberry jam and spread it on for a twist, but the whole blueberries here are just fine.
  4. Streusel: Combine sugar, flour and chilled cubed butter in a bowl. Stir with a fork or pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly. I personally use my hand as I think the heat transfer and a gentle hand makes this process easier (I scrunch my hand and lightly use my thumb against my ring, middle, and pointer finger to crumble.) Make sure the streusel is in pea-sized crumbs. Sprinkle the streusel on top of blueberries.
  5. All together: Bake for 40-45 minutes until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack.  Once cooled, run a thin knife (butter knife) around the cake and loose ring of springform pan (if you buttered enough, this won’t be necessary.) Store in the refrigerator as it tastes better chilled. Serve with a cup of coffee, duh.