Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Southern Coconut Cake

I got a little teary-eyed when I was invited to my first "Mother Daughter" Lunch last week. My little one is only 8 months and although most of the daughters were over 8 years old (more like 14 and up), I was still giddy with delight.

Although I wasn't supposed to make anything for the occasion, I almost felt like this would give me a good reason to turn on the oven in Northern California's heat wave. I had a can of coconut milk in the pantry calling my name. I bought in the hopes that I would make this recipe for a coconut cake sooner than later.

This delicious cake is probably one of my favorite of all the cakes I have made thus far. The frosting is by far the ultimate - cream cheese, butter, confectioners sugar, and a partridge in a pair tree - well, who could ask for anything more?! The frosting was also so delightful as it was light and fluffy instead of the normal "cream cheese frosting" one often slathers on a cake. I would definitely recommend this recipe/cake to others. The frosting is a bit tedious in the beginning, but my thought is that second time around it will be easier because you'll know what the process is and you'll be more familiar with the tasks at hand.


Southern Coconut Cake
from Gigi Cakes

Makes an 8-inch triple layer cake

For the cake:
5 large egg whites
½ cup of milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
3 cups of cake flour*
2 and 1/3 cup sugar
4 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
½ teaspoon of salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter (8oz.) at warm room temperature
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

2 ½ cups of sweetened flaked coconut for garnishing cake

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Butter the bottoms of three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a parchment circle and butter the circle.
Put the egg whites in a bowl and whisk slightly. Add the ½ cup of milk and the vanilla and whisk to mix thoroughly; set aside.
In a large mixer bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, beat dry ingredients well in order to break up any lumps. Add the butter and coconut milk on low speed and beat just to combine. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy about 2 minutes.
Add the egg white mixture in 2 or 3 additions, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Divide the batter among the pans.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake taster inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for 10 minutes. Then turn the cakes out and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
To assemble the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on an 8-inch cake round. Cover this layer with 1 cup of the buttercream frosting. Spread it evenly all the way to edge of the cake. Then sprinkle ½ cup of shredded coconut on top. Add the second layer and repeat the process. Top with the final layer of cake and frost the top and sides of the cake.
Place the remaining 1 ½ cups shredded coconut on a large baking tray. Pick up the cake and hold it on the palm of one hand over the tray. Using the other hand scoop up the coconut and press it to the sides of the cake. Continue with this process until the sides of the cake are covered. Set the cake on a serving plate and sprinkle any remaining coconut on top of cake. Chill cake for at least one hour to allow frosting to firm up a bit.

Cream cheese buttercream frosting

12 ounces of cream cheese* slightly chilled
1 stick of butter plus 6 tablespoons of butter (7 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup of confectioners sugar, sifted after measuring
2 teaspoons of granulated sugar
¼ cup of water
3 egg whites

Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a mixer and beat on medium speed until slightly fluffy and smooth. Add the butter 1-2 tablespoons at a time, mixing until smooth. Add the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and mix until fluffy. Set aside at room temperature while buttercream is made.
Combine the granulated sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Continue to cook without stirring until the syrup reaches the softball stage 228 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
Meanwhile, place the egg whites in mixer bowl and have the mixer ready to go. When the syrup is ready, turn the mixer on med-low and begin mixing the egg whites. Slowly add the hot syrup to the whites taking care not to pour onto the beaters, it may splash. When all the syrup is incorporated, raise the speed on the mixer to med-high and beat the egg whites until mixture has cooled and stiff meringue forms.
With the mixer on low, begin adding the cream cheese mixture by the spoonful. When all is incorporated, raise the speed to medium and whip until frosting is smooth and fluffy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bran Flax Muffins

Every so often I make a ton of muffins and while eating one or two straight from the oven, I individually wrap them or put them in a sandwich bag and freeze them for future breakfasts. I really like this as freezing them seems to keep their freshness encapsulated - I take one out before going to bed and the next morning - voila! - a freshly baked muffin, just for me.

The bran flax muffins I made not too long ago remind me of my Mom's Carrot Cake, which I plan to write about some day. The recipe calls for carrots and apples, which right there, tells you this little bundle of goodness is going to be, you guessed it - delicious (did you think I was going to say moist?)!

Here are some notes from my baking:
- I did not include raisins
- Although my hubby is not a huge fan of nuts, I thought, "What the heck?!" - He'll be okay just this once.
- I used All-Purpose Flour instead of Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
- I used "regular" light brown sugar

This Bran Flax Muffins recipe comes from Bob's Red Mill Flax Seed Meal. Great recipe and I would definitley make them again, especially for a "healthy" bunch of people.

Bran Flax Muffins

1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
3/4 cup Flaxseed Meal
3/4 cup Oat Bran Cereal
1 cup Yellow D Sugar ( Brown Sugar)
2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Cinnamon, Saigon (Premium)
1 1/2 cups finely shredded Carrots
2 peeled and shredded Apples
1/2 cup Raisins (optional)
1 cup chopped Nuts
3/4 cup Milk
2 beaten Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla

Mix together flour, Bob's Red Mill Flaxseed Meal, oat bran, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir in carrots, apples, raisins (if desired) and nuts. Combine milk, beaten eggs and vanilla. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir until ingredients are moistened. DO NOT OVER MIX. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes.

Yield: 15 medium muffins

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls

The hubby and I LOVE cinnamon rolls. More so he than I. The MIL is an AMAZING baker (among other things) and makes killer cinnamon rolls. Her recipe calls for yeast, and being impatient and that my husband's stomach is not a huge fan of yeast, I have made the following recipe a few times. Each time I make them, I like them more. They're fast, easy, and delish!

I made cinnamon rolls this morning for DH as an early Father's Day breakfast as next Sunday I wont' be able to prepare a breakfast for him.

Fastest Cinnamon Buns
from Leite's Culinaria

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 cup confectioners' sugar

1. Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Brush a round 9-inch nonstick cake pan with 1 tablespoon butter. Spray a wire cooling rack with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Combine the brown sugar, 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon melted butter and stir with a fork or fingers until the mixture resembles wet sand; set the filling mixture aside.

3. Whisk together the flour, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Whisk together the buttermilk and 2 tablespoons butter in a measuring cup. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until the liquid is absorbed (the dough will look shaggy), about 30 seconds. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until just smooth and no longer shaggy about 30 seconds.

4. Pat the dough with your hands into a 12 by 9-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle the dough evenly with the brown sugar filling, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Press the filling firmly into the dough. Using a bench scraper or metal spatula, loosen the dough from the work surface. Starting at a long side, roll the dough, pressing lightly, to form a tight log. Pinch the seam to seal. Roll the log seam-side down and cut it evenly into 8 pieces. Turn the pieces over on their flat sides, and with your hand, slightly flatten each piece of dough to seal the open edges and keep the filling in place. Place 1 roll in the center of the prepared pan and then place the remaining 7 rolls around the perimeter of the pan. Brush the rolls with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter.

5. Bake until the edges are golden brown, 23 to 25 minutes. Use an offset metal spatula to loosen the buns from the pan. Wearing oven mitts, place a large plate over the pan and invert the buns onto the plate. Place the greased cooling rack over the plate and invert the buns onto the rack. Cool about 5 minutes before glazing.

1. While the buns are cooling, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (for easy cleanup); set the rack with the buns on the baking sheet. Whisk the cream cheese and buttermilk in a large bowl until thick and smooth (the mixture will look like cottage cheese at first). Sift the confectioners' sugar over the mixture and whisk until a smooth glaze forms' about 30 seconds. Spoon the glaze evenly over the buns; serve immediately.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Lemon Blossoms

I found this recipe from yours truly, Paula Deen. I watched her make these on the hit TV show Paula's Home Cooking, saw how easy they were to make, and then hopped to!

Not too much else to say except that I have made these twice. The second time they came out more moist, but get this - the first time I used regular cake mix, the second time I used a "Reduced Sugar" cake mix with the package also indicating that they threw in a cup of pudding mix. I thought that the second time around they wouldn't be as good because there was "less sugar," but I couldn't have been more wrong. They were just as good as the first time, if not better. Healthy Lemon Blossoms? Not really, once you add the glaze, no matter how much "reduced sugar" is in the cake mix, the glaze will make up for it!

Lemon Blossoms
from Paula's Home Cooking, Episode: Supper Club

18 1/2-ounce package yellow cake mix
3 1/2-ounce package instant lemon pudding mix
4 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray miniature muffin tins with vegetable oil cooking spray. Combine the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs and oil and blend well with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour a small amount of batter, filling each muffin tin half way. Bake for 12 minutes. Turn out onto a tea towel

To make the glaze, sift the sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice, zest, oil, and 3 tablespoons water. Mix with a spoon until smooth.

With fingers, dip the cupcakes into the glaze while they're still warm, covering as much of the cake as possible, or spoon the glaze over the warm cupcakes, turning them to completely coat. Place on wire racks with waxed paper underneath to catch any drips. Let the glaze set thoroughly, about 1 hour, before storing in containers with tight-fitting lids.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Another item I made for Monday's meeting (I can't make just ONE thing, right?!) was Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. Oh so delicious. I got this recipe from Sisters Cafe. These were by far my favorite out of the two muffins I made.

I was hesitant about using 2 cups of whole wheat flour as oftentimes, this will result in a dry and overly grainy baked good. I was, however, pleasantly surprised to find that the recipe resulted in moist and wholesome goodness. I couldn't believe that these were somewhat healthy for you. Next time, I would use mini chocolate chips because I made mini muffins, or simply make big muffins if I used "regular-sized" chocolate chips.

So good! Melanie, from Sisters Cafe, was nice enough to explain that her recipe came from the King Arthur Flours Cookbook. She highly recommends it, by the way. The recipe can be found on page 546.

Whole Wheat Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
from Sisters Cafe, submitted by Melanie

1/2 cup butter (1 stick or 4 ounces)
1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
2 cups whole wheat flour
2/3 Cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Line or grease a 12 cup muffin pan (or like I did, your mini muffin pan).

Beat together the butter, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth. Add the banana, honey and eggs, beating until smooth. Add the flour and chocolate chips, stirring until smooth. Divide batter into the muffin cups, they'll be nearly full. Bake the muffins until a cake tester inserted in the center of one comes out clean, 23-28 minutes (My mini muffins took 15 minutes to bake). Remove from oven and after a couple of minutes transfer the muffins to a rack to cool.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins

I have an "end of year" meeting this morning and was assigned to make a bread. As one who likes individual servings, I made muffins instead. I believe this would be considered a bread, and although one does not get a slice, they get a mini muffin instead. Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins came from Recipezaar - I've had quite a bit of luck with recipes from this site, however, one must use common sense when choosing a recipe from here. This recipe had great reviews and so, I was off to the kitchen to try my own skill at making these delicious-looking muffins.

I used mini baking cups and got 48 mini muffins out of this recipe. They are not as moist as I anticipated they might be, based on the reviews. I used vegetable oil instead of canola oil and baked them for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Next time I make these, I am going to try and see if I can't do something to make them more moist. Thoughts?

Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins
from Recipezaar, recipe shared by "Dorel"
SERVES 6 -12 , 6 -12 muffins
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
4 ounces butter or 1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
- Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
- In another bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk and butter that has been melted and browned slightly.
- Make a well in dry ingredients and pour in liquid ingredients, mixing quickly.
- Fold in blueberries.
- Spoon batter into greased muffin cups and bake till golden brown.
- Bake at 400 F for 20 -30 minutes.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Nutella Oatmeal Thins

I had a little bit of Nutella left over from a previous recipe I made, so I needed to find a recipe that called for the perfect amount. And, here were are - Nutella Oatmeal Thins. Although I prefer chewy cookies, these are great paired with a cup of coffee and, as the accompanist at my church suggested, some more Nutella between two cookies. Delish!

Some side notes:
- I used the rest of the Nutella I had, which was about 7 tablespoons total.
- I didn't leave the cookies to rest on the pan for 10 minutes, but a minimum of 3 minutes.
- I baked them for 8 to 9 minutes, not a full 10 minutes.


Nutella Oatmeal Thins
original recipe from Baking Bites

Nutella Oatmeal Thins
1 cup plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
6 tbsp Nutella
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats (not instant or regular)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter, Nutella and the sugars until mixture is fluffy. Beat in the egg and the egg yolk, followed by the vanilla extract.
Working at a low speed or by hand, gradually blend in the flour mixture and the oats (if you don’t have quick-cooking, pulse whole rolled oats in the food processor to chop them up a bit).
Drop teaspoonfuls of the batter (1/2-inch balls) onto prepared baking sheet, leaving at least 2-inches between cookies to allow for spread.
Bake for 10 minutes, until cookies are set.
Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 6-7 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Oh. My. Gosh.

Being in a time crunch on Monday, I realized I had a church meeting and no refreshments to serve. How rude, right? I always have something in the freezer ready to thaw out and possibly serve or, uhm, eat myself. Shhh! I luckily had some cookie dough in the freezer I had made and didn't finish because, well, I made too much in one day and got pooped. It came in handy. I simply took the cookie dough (when it was fresh) and rolled it in wax paper, then covered it with plastic wrap and shoved to the back of the freezer. One cookie dough recipe made two rolls.

This cookie recipe comes straight from the back of the Guittard Real Semisweet Chocolate Chips bag. No kidding. Some times the simplest recipe can be that good. Not remembering what the directions were, I baked them in a 350-degree oven for 9 minutes. I then let them rest on the pan for 1 to 2 minutes before removing them and placing them on a wire rack to cool. I didn't defrost the dough, I simply took it out of the freezer, unwrapped it, and cut the dough into rounds/pieces. I highly recommend making them this way. The outside has a bit of crunch and the center is soft and chewy. It's really the best of both worlds.

from Guittard

Yield: 7 dozen 2 inch cookies

2 1/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl cream butter, sugar and brown sugar until light. Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture until combined. Stir in chips and walnuts.

Drop by well-rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

The Original Chocolate Chip Pan Cookie: Prepare dough as directed. Spread evenly into greased 10x15x1-inch pan. Bake at 375ºF for 20-25 minutes. Cool before cutting into 48 two-inch bars.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

She Cooks, He Takes, Too!

This morning, baby woke at 5am. Ugh. I thought that, just maybe she would be interested in hitting the snooze button and going back to sleep for a while. And I even thought it had worked for a while. But alas, at 5:15, I decided to bring her back to the big bed so I could try and get a couple more zzz's myself. The hubby finally cracked an eye and couldn't believe that he had to be a part of the "morning hour crew." But he can sleep through anything, right?!

I felt a bit guilty we awoke him, so I made him a delicious breakfast sandwich - super easy to make when you're in a time crunch (not that we were!) and a healthy start to your day.

Hubby's Breakfast Sandwich
1 english muffin, toasted
spray butter
1 egg (or, as I had, 2 egg whites)
2 slices of thinly sliced ham lunch meat
2 slices colby jack chesse (or whatever you have on hand)

Cook egg in non-stick pan and add salt and pepper to desired taste. At time of flipping, begin toasting the english muffin. When egg is close to being fully cooked, place the 2 slices of ham between the pan and egg. Then place the cheese on top of the egg. Turn stove off and let the remaining heat from the pan and egg warm the ham and melt the cheese.

When english muffin is toasted, spray with butter and place all of the items in the pan carefully onto the bottom piece of the english muffin. Place the top of the english muffin on top of cheese. If cheese hasn't melted before this point, it will continue to melt from the heat of the english muffin. Eat.

Thick and Chewy Triple Chocolate Cookies

So, from my last post, I said that I made two things in one day. A lot for me, but obviously possible. Thick and Chewy Triple Chocolate Cookies I found at Baking Blonde's Weblog took quite a while to make and at the end, I don't know if it was necessarily worth all the time it takes to produce them. I enjoyed them, don't get me wrong, but I felt that particular cookies I can make in half the time are just as good. My babysitter, however, thoroughly enjoyed them, so I guess someone felt they were worthy of the allotted time!

Note that all of the chocolate can be substituted for whatever chocolate you fancy! The original recipe, she notes, had all semi-sweet chocolate, and she used what she had on hand and/or liked. I take a fancy to dark chocolate, as you will see below. And, the directions say to let the batter "sit" for about 30 minutes to create a fudge-like consistency. I didn't really need to wait at all as it was like that when I added the dry ingredients to the batter. They seemed to turn out okay for me. Enjoy and let me know if you decide to make these yummy cookies. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thick and Chewy Triple Chocolate Cookies
adapted from Baking Blonde's Weblog
2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (I used baking chocolate)
4 ounces milk chocolate (I used chips)
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed (10 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark chocolate chunks
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

In a small bowl wisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
Melt the semi-sweet and bittersweet chopped chocolate in medium heatproof bowl. Be careful not to scorch or burn chocolate. Set aside to cool.
In a small bowl wisk the eggs, vanilla and Espresso powder until combined.
In a mixing bowl, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add sugar and beat another minute. Add the egg mixture until well mixed. Gently add the melted and cooled chocolate and beat until combined
Slowly add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Do not overbeat.
Cover with dough with lid or plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until consistency is scoopable and fudgelike, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop dough onto sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are set but centers are soft.
Allow cookies to cool on sheets about 10 minutes before transfering to racks to cool completly.