Archive for the Category ◊ Sweets ◊

28 Aug 2020 Blueberry Upside-Down Coffee Cake

Just a reminder, there’s no coffee in coffee cake. Coffee cake is cake to be eaten with a perfect cup of coffee.  And that, my friends, is what a weekend quarantine breakfast is all about.  Throw in a good book or a good companion and you’re in heaven.

I’ve been making this cake for decades, except that I had forgotten all about it for the past five or six years. Somehow this recipe went missing from one of my 13 recipe binders.  I didn’t even notice. Then my daughter Hannah brought this coffee cake over as a first day of on-line school snack during the 2020 pandemic. I asked her for the recipe. To which she responded, with a disbelieving eye roll, “Mommmm, it’s YOUR recipe”.  Ooops.

So here it is, the replacement for the missing recipe, the best blueberry coffee cake on the planet, Blueberry Upside-Down Coffee Cake.

Hint #1: If there’s no need for a fancy display, then there’s no need to actually turn the whole cake upside down. Just carve out a slice and turn upside down onto your plate.  You can add whipped cream, or not, depending on your breakfast/brunch rules. 

Hint #2: Don’t skimp on the lemon zest. The lemon zest (and butter) is what makes this cake sing!

I like this cake much better than any cake cooked with blueberries mixed into the batter. Cooked blueberries mess with the texture of any cake. In this cake, the blueberries shine as a layer, and the buttery cake also shines as a layer. You get to enjoy both the cake and the blueberries without one interfering with the other. Win-win! Oh, and it’s supposed to be served warm, win-win-win!

Blueberry Upside-Down Coffee Cake

For the Blueberry Layer

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 3-4 cups fresh blueberries (18-24 oz)
  • 1 ½ tsp grated lemon zest
  1. Get out your best 9×13 inch pan.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt butter.
  3. Stir in brown sugar and boil gently for 3 full minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Pour the mixture into the bottom of the 9×13 pan, spreading carefully to make an even layer.
  5. Pour fresh blueberries on top of butter/brown sugar mixture.
  6. Sprinkle lemon zest evenly over the blueberry layer.

For the Cake

  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (310 grams)
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons grated lemon zest
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. With an electric mixer beat together butter and sugar. Continue to beat until light and fluffy, approx. 3-5 minutes.
  3. Gradually add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Stir in vanilla.
  5. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
  6. Add 1/3rd of dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture and beat well.
  • Add half of the milk and beat until all of the milk has been incorporated,
  • Add another 1/3 of dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture and beat well.
  • Add remaining milk and beat until all of the milk has been incorporated.
  • Add remaining flour mixture and beat well.
  • Stir in lemon zest
  • Pour batter over blueberries in 9×13 pan. Smooth with a spatula.
  • Place pan in a 350-degree oven for 45-50 minutes.  The top will be well browned. Use a toothpick to check that cake in the middle of the pan has been cooked.
  • Remove cake from the oven. If inverting, let cool for 3 minutes. Run a knife along all sides to loosen the cake from the pan. Invert onto a large rectangular platter or cutting board. 
  • Serve warm, with or without optional whipped cream or pouring custard.
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27 May 2020 Fresh Cherry Pie

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 double crust pie dough

Cherry Filling:

  • 2 red plums
  • 2 pounds (6 cups) sweet cherries, pitted and halved
  • ½ -1 cup sugar, to taste (½ cup sugar usually results in a slightly tart pie)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch cubes
  • 1 large egg + 1 teaspoon water (for egg wash)
  • Approx. 1 teaspoon sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Roll out a generous ½ of pie crust dough and place in bottom of 9-inch pie pan. Wrap pie pan containing bottom pastry with plastic wrap in place in refrigerator.
  2. Roll out remaining pastry for top crust. Place flat onto a baking sheet, cover with plastic, and place in refrigerator. Meanwhile, prepare cherry filling.
  3. Pit the cherries, and cut them in half.
  4. Cut plums in half and remove the pit.
  5. Place plum halves and 1 cup of cherries to food processor and process for 1 minute or until smooth.
  6. Strain the plum-cherry mixture through a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl. Press down and extract as much liquid as possible, discard the solids and retain the juice in the bowl.
  7. Add the remaining 5 cups of pitted and halved cherries, sugar, salt, lemon juice, bourbon cinnamon and corn starch into bowl containing the puree. Stir to combine. Let mixture stand for 15 minutes to meld flavors.
  8. Remove bottom crust from refrigerator. Pour cherry mixture into to dough-lined pie plate. Scatter 1/4? butter cubes evenly over filling.
  9. Remove the top pie crust from the refrigerator and place on top of pie.  Using thumb and forefinger, flute edges or use the tines of a fork to seal the two pie crusts together.
  10. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg and 1 teaspoon water together. Using a pastry brush, brush egg all over the top pie crust.  Sprinkle a small amount of sugar over the egg wash. Use a sharp knife to make 4-8 evenly spaced vents in top of pie.
  11. Freeze prepared pie for 20 minutes.
  12. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a foil lined baking sheet in oven to preheat.
  13. Remove pie from freezer and transfer to pre-heated baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Then reduce temperature to 350-degrees and continue to bake for another 30-40 minutes or until the juices bubble around the edges and crust is deeply golden brown.
  14. Allow pie to cool on wire rack for 4 hours before serving. Serve with a side of ice cream or sweetened whipped cream, if desired.

Enjoy!

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23 Dec 2019 Christmas Present Cookies
There’s a surprise in the middle!
Chocolate-Orange Christmas Present Cookies

Most of my cookie recipes are from recipes I’ve collected over the years. Some I modify to suit my taste, to improve on method, or to add another component. This recipe I made up all by myself in the 1990s. It’s a basic spritz cookie recipe, with the addition of orange zest and orange extract and then for some reason (maybe the cookie press was malfunctioning?) I made long ribbon strips, laid down chocolate squares on top of the cookie dough, then piped another strip on top, and made chocolate filled Christmas presents.

The orange-chocolate flavor is one that I associate with Christmas. Being a British transplant, there was always a bit of England in my Christmas stocking, one of them being a Terry’s chocolate-orange.

Christmas Presents (Cookies)

  • 1 ½ cups butter
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3 ½ cups Flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • Zest of 2-3 Oranges (I like my cookies with a lot of orange flavor)
  • ½ tsp Vanilla
  • 1 ½ tsp Orange Extract
  • 3 3.5oz Hershey bars (milk or Special Dark) DIVIDED USE
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Sift flour and baking powder together. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together, 3-5 minutes.
  4. When the butter-sugar mixture is light and fluffy, add the egg, vanilla, orange extract, and the orange zest.
  5. With the mixer on low, gradually add in the flour and beat until just combined.
  6. Choose Method 1 or Method 2 to make the presents
  7. Method 1: Using a cookie press (No refrigeration needed) Using a cookie press fitted with a ribbon plate. Spritz one long ribbon. Break the chocolate bars into squares and place along the ribbon, with about ½ inch between each piece of chocolate. Spritz another ribbon on top of the first ribbon and chocolate. Cut between the chocolate pieces, and push slightly on each end to seal the present. Place the presents on a cookie tray lined with parchment paper, about one inch apart.
  8. Method 2: Using a rolling pin (refrigeration necessary) Separate dough into two equal size disks, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for 2 hours or until firm enough to roll. Roll Dough out into a square. It is ok if dough is thin because you will add another layer of dough on top. Break up the chocolate pieces, and place them all around the dough in a grid, all pieces about ½ inch apart. Roll out the second disk of dough to the same size as the first.  Then place second dough square on top of the first dough square, and gently press dough around the chocolate pieces (so that you can see where you need to cut). Using a ravioli cutter, pizza cutter, knife, or cookie cutter, cut cookies around each piece of chocolate. Gently press all sizes of the cookies to seal. Place presents on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about one inch apart.
  9. Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes. You don’t want cookies to brown, but you want all the dough to cook. Cookie bottoms should be a very light golden brown. (Everyone rolls or pipes different thicknesses of dough, which necessitate different cooking times. Use your judgement here. You might need to add a minute or two to the cooking times)
  10. Once cookies come out of the oven, move cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  11. Melt leftover chocolate using your favorite method (I like to microwave chocolate in a bowl in 30 seconds increments until melted), then place melted chocolate into a quart size zip lock bag, and cut a small hole at the tip of the bag.
  12. Pipe the melted chocolate onto each cookie to look like a ribbon and bow (this might take some practice. Just sample the ugly ones and put the pretty ones on the cookie plate). Chill cookies in refrigerator until chocolate hardens.
  13. Then, serve and enjoy!!

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21 Dec 2019 Candy Cane Sparkle Cookies
Candy Cane Sparkle Cookies, YUM!

Every Christmas has to include the three big Christmas flavors: Egg Nog, Gingerbread, and Candy Cane. Here is a sugar cookie made with crushed candy canes. The cookie is delicious! The candy cane flavor is not overpowering, it’s just right. The cookie is slightly chewy from the crushed candy canes, and yes, the cookie sparkles from the sugar.

Candy Cane Sparkle Cookies

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon mint extract
  • 1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup crushed candy canes or peppermint candies (about 7 full sized candy canes or a 6 oz box of mini candy canes), divided use
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie trays with parchment paper.
  2. Crush candy canes (I place in a Ziploc bag and whack with a rolling pin, effective, but not very environmentally friendly. I have to find a better way)
  3. Combine sugar and butter in bowl of electric mixer and mix well, for 3-5 minutes or until light and fluffy.
  4. Add egg, vanilla and mint extracts to butter and sugar mixture. Mix well to combine.
  5. In a different bowl whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
  6. Slowly add flour mixture to butter-sugar mixture, combine well, on low speed of the electric mixer.
  7. Slowly add 1/4 cup crushed candy canes to cookie mixture. Stir only until combined.
  8. In another bowl combine 1/4 cup sugar and remaining 1/4 cup crushed candy canes.
  9. Shape dough into 3/4 inch balls (I use a small cookie scoop) and roll in the sugar-candy cane mixture.
  10. Place balls on parchment-lined cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Press down lightly on each cookie to flatten slightly. Sprinkle each cookie with a few of the remaining, larger pieces of the crushed candy canes.
  11. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. Cookies should look cooked but not browned when removing them from oven.
  12. Let cookies cool for a minute or two on cookie sheet, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.

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