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Cupcake-Style Cinnamon Rolls

14 Oct

I’m not sure if there is a cuter idea out there than cinnamon rolls baked as if they were cupcakes and I’ve been dying to try this from the moment I saw them on Pinterest!  While I love a big gooey messy cinnamon roll that you have to eat with a fork and knife just as much as the next person, there was something so quaint and wonderful by being able to peel the wrapper off just like a cupcake and eat it out of my hand.  I would imagine these being great for brunches or breakfasts with kids around so you can just hand them a roll and send them on their way.

They’re certainly not for the completely novice baker, as they have a lot of steps involved, but if they weren’t doable, I wouldn’t be posting it for you try, so get in that kitchen!

The best part about these rolls is that you don’t have to wake up at 4:00 in the morning in order to have fresh-baked cinnamon buns in the morning–I’ve included instructions for par-baking, which means baking the rolls just until they’re set, but not golden brown and perfect yet.  Then you can just throw them into the freezer until you’re ready for them, move them to the fridge the night before, and then just pop in the oven the next morning for ten minutes.  Only 10 minutes to an amazing, cinnamon-y, sweet, delicious breakfast!

Buns:

  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour or regular flour (bread flour makes for a lighter cinnamon roll)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 pkg yeast (1/4 ounce)

Filling:

  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened

Icing:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  1. Microwave milk for 30-40 seconds in the microwave (you want milk to be about 110 degrees). Dissolve yeast in warm milk in a large bowl.
  2. Add sugar, butter, salt, eggs, and flour; mix well.
  3. Knead dough into a large ball, using your hands dusted lightly with flour. Put in a bowl sprayed with cooking spray and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size; line 2 cupcake tins with cupcake liners and lightly spray the cupcake liners with baking spray.
  4. In a small bowl, thoroughly combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
  5. Sprinkle flour on the surface you’re going to roll the dough on.  Roll dough into a 16×21 inch rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Spread dough with 1/3 cup softened butter (if your butter isn’t soft enough at this point, put it in a bowl and smear it around in the bowl with a wooden spoon until you can whip the spoon around through the butter) (other note: I used an offset spatula for spreading the butter and it was the PERFECT tool for the job).
  6. Sprinkle buttered dough evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough starting with the longer side and cut into 24 evenly sized rolls–to ensure even slices I just keep dividing each portion in halves or thirds (if you’re just doing normal rolls and not cupcake-style, cutting into 12 pieces is preferable)
  7. You’ll likely need to un-roll and re-roll the buns to fit in each of the cupcake lined spots.  Or, if you’re not in the mood for the cupcake-style, arrange the rolls in a lightly greased 9×13 inch glass baking dish.
  8. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes; in the meantime preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  9. If serving immediately, bake the cinnamon rolls for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.  If par-baking the cinnamon rolls to freeze for a later date, bake for 10 minutes until mostly baked but not browned.  Pull the buns out and let them cool completely before wrapping them tightly in saran wrap and tin foil and putting in the freezer.  The night before serving the rolls, unwrap them and put them in the fridge overnight to defrost.  The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for approximately 10 minutes until soft and golden brown.
  10. While in the oven, beat together cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on while they are still warm so that the frosting melts into the roll.
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Bourbon Bacon Brownies

7 Oct

I really don’t know if much can be said about these brownies.  Bacon + Bourbon + Brownies = Mad Deliciousness.  They speak for themselves!

While I love a good BLT just as much as the next person, I have to admit that I’m not fully on the bacon train that has chugged through the foodie world (and, thankfully, seems to be on its way out), but this just seemed like a no brainer.  The brownies are soft and fudgy, the nuts are soaked in bourbon, and the bacon is a great crunchy contrast to the brownie texture.

I’ll be spending my weekend at the Hicksville Trailer Park Palace (really) for my good friend’s birthday and I think these fit the bill exactly for properly themed food.  That said, these will be great for any sort of ‘manly’ event, too–bourbon and bacon makes any fancy dessert more Y-chromosome friendly!

Bourbon Bacon Brownies
adapted from Baking Illustrated and SlashFood
Makes one 8″ x 8″ pan, approx 16 brownies

  • 1/2 a package of bacon
  • bourbon, at least a 1/4 cup
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 5 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into quarters
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  1. Place an oven rack in lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 400° F.  Line an 8-inch square baking dish with foil and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray; set aside, line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  2. Set pecans in a small bowl and cover with bourbon, about 1/4 cup, set aside to soak.
  3. Arrange the bacon on the tin-foiled covered rimmed baking sheet and pop into the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.  When you take it out of the oven, transfer it to a plate lined with 3 or 4 layers of paper towels and blot dry.  The bacon will turn crispy as it cools.  Stack the bacon and slice into 1/4″ wide slices.
  4. In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth.  Whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth.  Set aside to cool.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt; whisk until combined, about 15 seconds.  Whisk in the warm chocolate mixture until incorporated.
  6. Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing in gently.
  7. Spoon the nuts out of the bourbon and fold nuts into batter (save bourbon for later).
  8. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread with a spatula to make an even layer; sprinkle bacon slices evenly all over the top of the brownie batter.
  9. Bake until slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs clinging to it, 35-40 minutes.
  10. Pour reserved bourbon evenly over the top of the hot brownies.  It will soak into the brownies and spread deliciousness all over.
  11. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.  DIG IN!

Apple Honey Cake

30 Sep

The Jewish New Year is upon us!  The Boyfriend’s family is Jewish and every year I beg to go to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services with them.  I love the traditions observed and, of course, all of the food.  The best combination of both of those is the Rosh Hashanah tradition of eating honey and apples to symbolize the hope for a sweet year.

So I rushed home today and grabbed some apples from the grocery store on the way.  I had to be ready to go in 45 minutes and would you believe that I was able to combine the ingredients, bake the cake, let it cool a little and take photos of it all before it was time to leave for Temple?  That should show you how easy and quick it is to throw this delicious little cake together.

Some notes: the cake will end up very thin, since the original recipe called for a smaller cake pan.  I used what I had and actually really liked it thin–it let the apple and honey flavors shine and made for a perfect light dessert instead of a one that makes you feel overly stuffed.  Also, I really suggest using a mandolin slicer for this project.  I got a great handheld OXO mandolin for just about $15 and it’s an amazing tool (slicing pizza toppings– just sayin’).

Happy New Year!  This Apple Honey Cake will guarantee it’s a sweet one.

Apple Honey Cake
Adapted from Taste of Home

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 2 Gala apples, very thinly sliced (use a mandolin if you have one)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon honey, plus extra for drizzling
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line an 8″ square baking pan with parchment paper (I forgot to coat the paper with nonstick spray, but it was fine without it, so no big deal if you don’t have any).  Sprinkle cinnamon in a light, even coat across the bottom of the pan.
  3. Arrange apple slices in whatever pattern you want.  I did three rows of 6 overlapping slices, the center row moving the opposite direction.  Fancy!
  4. Cream the butter and brown sugar until crumbly and fluffy, about 2 minutes, beat in egg, then milk and vanilla.
  5. Combine flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a small bowl, then add to butter mixture and beat until combined.
  6. Drizzle honey evenly all over the arranged apples in the pan, as much or as little as you like.  Gently pour the cake batter over the apples and honey and spread until entire bottom of pan is evenly covered.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean and the apples are soft.
  8. After taking it out of the oven, let the cake cool for 5 minutes or so and invert the cake onto the serving platter.
  9. Serve warm if you can, but no matter what the temperature, definitely serve it with whipped cream!


James and the Giant Bourbon Honey Peach Pie

21 Sep

When I saw KCRW & LACMA were holding a pie contest, I was interested.  When I saw that there was a category just for pies inspired by Tim Burton, I was hooked.  I instantly started churning out ideas and sketching them out on scraps of paper….Jack the Pumpkin King Pumpkin Pie, Sweeney Todd “Meat” Pie, the Queen of Hearts’ Strawberry Tarts….the possibilities were endless!  I couldn’t have asked for a more inspiring and creative special category and I was disappointed to find out we could only enter one pie per category.  So instead of disguising my cast-off Tim Burton creations to be suitable for other categories (fruit, nut, savory, or cream/chiffon), I decided to focus all my creative and baking energy to making one really great pie: James and the Giant Peach Pie.

I felt, despite the fact that the judges were a total all-star panel, that pumpkin and strawberry and meat pies are so subjective to a judge’s mood on any given day…but that no one can actually turn down a really good peach pie, no matter what their mood.  Since it was for Tim Burton, I knew I had to go all out on themeing the pie and if there’s one thing I love it’s a challenge that combines baking and crafting.  In “James and the Giant Peach,” the characters live inside a peach floating across the English Channel, at one point being pulled by a large flock of birds.  So I went to the co-op, found the largest peach in the bin, and proudly carried it home, knowing it would be my centerpiece.  I held up the line at FedEx-Kinko’s while the guy at the desk and I printed out the characters in a few different sizes for me to experiment with (and mirror images of them, so no matter what side you looked at the pie from, you wouldn’t be staring at the white back of paper).  And I dashed through the craft store, wondering if I really needed a pair of needle nose pliers and wire cutters to pull off this project (I did).  The final result was a “giant” peach, the cast of characters merrily perched on top, being pulled by birds through waves of the English Channel pie crust.

There were some hurdles to jump first, though.  I admit, though I love making pies, I normally have no patience for pie crust and just use frozen crust from the store (it could be because I make most of my pies around Thanksgiving when I have other things to worry about, like if I remembered the cranberries for the stuffing).  These pies had to be 100% homemade and, truthfully, I’m glad for it, because the process reminded me that crust really is so simple to throw together that I should take the time to do it more often.  The other hurdle was that in order to pull off my design element, I needed a little stand to hold the peach up at crust level and I didn’t know a single pizza store that still used those plastic stands to keep the box from drooping into the cheese.  Imagine my delight when the hero boyfriend called from a conference he was at in San Fransisco to say that he had triumphantly found and saved two pizza box stands and he would be home on Friday with them!

So with all challenges behind me and nothing left to do but bake a pie, I plunged ahead, making the crust on Saturday night and the pie early on Sunday morning, hoping it would cool off enough before having to bring it to LACMA for judging.  And when all that was said and done….

I placed first in the Tim Burton category!  My very first blue ribbon!  I was so nervous seeing my pie up on the judges’ table, but after my name was called, I was absolutely jumping for joy and so proud of what I had accomplished.  The boyfriend had been hiding inside the pie tent so that he could have first dibs at tasting some of the 250 pies entered in the contest, but came out to celebrate with me and join in my first paparazzi moment (after 3 years in LA, it’s about time, eh?).  I’m so grateful to all the friends who showed their support either by coming to the event or just offering moral fortitude for my first baking contest–it certainly paid off!  And now, dear readers, I pass the recipe on to you to share with your family and friends.  Award Winning Bourbon Honey Peach Pie, submitted for your pie-eating pleasure:

Bourbon Honey Peach Pie
adapted from Gourmet, July 2009 via Sassy Radish
crust adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Pie Crust (enough for 2 crusts, a top and bottom)

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening , cut into 4 pieces
  • 4 tablespoons vodka , cold
  • 4 tablespoons ice water

Filling

  • 3 lb ripe peaches
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • heaping 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • heaping 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 egg white
  • sugar for sprinkling
  1. Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar together in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses.
  2. Add butter and shortening and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 10 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade.
  3. Add remaining 1 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.
  4. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten dough into 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
  5. Place a foil lined baking sheet on the middle rack in your oven and preheat to 425 degrees.  This will ensure ,when you put the pie in the oven to bake on the already hot sheet, that the butter and shortening will melt and coat the flour faster, before the peach juices get to the flour.  If the butter and shortening melt first, you’ll get a flaky crust.  If the peach juices get to the crust first, you’ll get nothing but a soggy crust.  If you have been chilling your dough overnight, pull it out now so that it can soften.
  6. You can choose to peel the peaches or not.  If you do want to peel them, blanching them will make the process a lot easier.  I personally just didn’t want to take the time to peel them and the pie was, obviously, fine.
  7. Slice the peaches into 8 pieces per fruit, tossing them in a bowl as you go.
  8. Pour the lemon juice over the peaches slices.
  9. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Pour the mixture over the peach slices and toss the peaches until evenly coated.
  10. Bring 1/2 cup sugar, honey, vanilla, and bourbon and water to a boil in a 1 1/2- to 2-qt heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved.  Boil without stirring, swirling pan occasionally so the mixture darkens in color evenly, until dark amber, about 5 minutes. (Tricked you!  You’re basically making vanilla honey caramel here!  But we’re not going all the way to caramel, instead we’re just cooking the sugar long enough to deepen the flavors and give it a hint of caramel flavor.)
  11. Remove from heat and add butter, swirling pan until butter is melted. Pour over fruit and toss the peaches until evenly coated.
  12. Sprinkle a generous amount of flour on top of the first dough round and roll out 1 piece of dough into a 13-inch round on a generously floured surface.  Gently roll the dough around the rolling pin and then unroll it into the pie plate, gently lifting the edges and settling it into the plate (at this point it is suggested that you chill the pie plate and crust while you roll out the other crust but truthfully, I was rushing and forgot and it was fine).  Roll out the second pie crust using the same flouring methods.
  13. Spoon (or dump) the peaches into the pie crusted plate and lay the second rolled out crust on top.  Trim the overhand so there’s just about a 1/2 inch left.  Going around the edge, you’ll seal the juices in best if you fold the edge of the crust underneath itself before crimping or decorating it.  Cut a hole about 2″ wide in the center of the top pie crust for steam to vent out.
  14. Brush the crust with the egg white and then sprinkle with sugar.  Both will make the crust shiny and delicious!
  15. Bake pie on hot baking sheet 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Continue to bake until crust is golden-brown and filling is bubbling, about 50 minutes more–tent tin foil over the top of the pie if the crust starts to brown too much. Cool pie to room temperature, 3 to 4 hours.

Bananas Foster Shortcakes

19 Sep

First, I want to remind all you faithful readers to follow me on Facebook or Twitter for status updates from me and alerts for new recipe posts!

Now before I dive into this week’s PPQ recipe, I have to bow down and say that Bananas Foster is not mine to lay claim on within my family.  My father and little sister (my only sibling) staked that claim loooong ago.  Dad makes Bananas Foster, often to introduce guests to fine Southern cuisine and, I suspect, to show off a little bit since the process involves flambeing.  My sister started making it soon thereafter, probably also to show off a little bit, but I think mostly just because it’s a delicious recipe that’s really not too hard to do.  So now it’s my turn.  I have to admit that I have been on pins and needles waiting for the chance to choose a recipe for Project Pastry Queen and when it was finally my turn, there really was no other option than to choose this.

After years of other family members flambeing bananas, I had to, once and for all, make Bananas Foster.  Reading this recipe over and over again, one major thing stood out to me–Rebecca doesn’t flambe the bananas.  This is a key component as it caramelizes and deepens the flavors by raising the temperature to a high degree that wouldn’t be attainable by just a pan over a stove burner.  Now that said, I tried and tried and I could not for the life of me get the pan to ignite.  It was still delicious regardless and I didn’t set my hair on fire.

I admit, I made a number of other changes to the recipe as well.  Usually when I am served this dessert, it is served over ice cream (as Rebecca suggests as well) and since you know that it is a requirement of my cooking to forget an ingredient, it wasn’t until making it tonight when I forgot the ice cream, that I realized ice cream is just too sweet for this recipe and my lack of serious sweet tooth.  I used whipped cream instead and I thought it was perfect–finally a Bananas Foster that didn’t give me a sore throat from all the sugar!  I also forgot the banana liqueur, but I kind of didn’t want to pay for a bottle of it anyway, and I think the recipe benefited from the subtle banana flavor instead of in your face banana flavor.  Finally, Rebecca suggests adding pecans to the processor while making the biscuits.  It’s optional, so I opted out, but it got me thinking of another New Orleans classic treat…instead of adding to the biscuits, I roughly chopped the pecans and sprinkled them on top, which added some fantastic crunch and when mixed in with the sauce made it like a praline!

All the other Pastry Queens-In-Training versions of this recipe can be found here, be sure to check them out.

Bananas Foster Shortcakes
The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather (with help from Brennan’s)
Serves 8

Biscuits

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • sugar for sprinkling

Bananas & Syrup

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 8 barely ripe bananas, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds (a mandolin slicer makes quick work of this)
  • whipped cream
  • 1/3 cup pecans
  1. Turn the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and granulated sugar in a food processor fitted with a metal blade.  Process about 30 seconds.  Cut the butter into 16 pieces and add to the flour mixture.  Pulse about 15 times, until the mixture is crumbly.  Turn on the processor and pour the cream in through the feed tube in a thin, steady stream, until the mixture begins to form a ball.
  3. Remove the dough and place on a flat surface that has been sprinkled with flour.  Gently form the dough into a 1/2 inch thick disk.  Use a 4 inch biscuit cutter, round cookie cutter, or a glass to cut the dough into rounds.  Roll the biscuits in the coarse sugar and set on a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet (Rebecca instructs you to use an ungreased cookie sheet, but my shortcakes stuck hard and fast to the sheet.  I was not a happy camper).
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the shortcakes begin to turn golden brown around the edges.  Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then use a spatula to transfer the biscuits to individual serving plates (or on a cooling rack if you’re not serving them immediately).
  5. While the shortcakes are in the oven, Melt the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a large saute pan set over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes.  The mixture should not be heated beyond a simmer; if it begins to boil over, decrease the heat.
  6. Add the rum and sliced bananas to the syrup and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  7. Rebecca suggests splitting the shortcakes but mine did not rise enough to actually split, so I used them as a base instead, and poured spoonfuls of the bananas and syrup over the cakes, topped with whipped cream and chopped pecans.

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Corn Flake Balls

14 Sep

Even though school always starts in August, it never really felt like school until September rolled around.  So now that the kids have definitely been in school for a little while and are into the swing of things, I can’t think of an easier, more delicious snack to whip up for them for their lunch boxes or for after they get home off the big yellow bus.  But I’m a 25 year old girl and, even though I don’t carry a lunch box or ride a big yellow bus, I still will gobble these up like a 5 year old, given the chance.

I don’t know exactly where the recipe came from, but I do remember my mom suddenly making these one day when I was young, saying that she remembered eating them at school when she was a little girl.  Let me tell you, after Mom started making these, I don’t remember Rice Krispie Treats ever making an appearance in the house again.  I dare you to take one bite of these and then tell me if you ever desire a RKT again in the same way that you will desire these.  Why?  One is mostly air and has no flavor save for a little vanilla from the marshmallow.  The other is dense and chewy and full of flavor.

They take 10 minutes to make so just go for it and then you get back to me on those RTK permanently disappearing from your brain, okay?

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Corn Flake Balls
(If anyone can think of a better name for these, tell me.  I’m open to suggestions!)
Makes about 16-20 depending on how big you make them

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 bag mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 6 cups corn flakes
  1. Melt the butter in a large stock pot over medium heat
  2. Dump the marshmallows in and stir with a big wooden spoon until completely melted with no lumps
  3. Add the peanut butter and stir until completely incorporated to the marshmallow
  4. Turn off the burner and add the corn flakes.  Stir until flakes are evenly coated with marshmallow-peanut butter mixture.  Don’t worry about being too gentle and not crushing the corn flakes.  It’s okay if they get crushed and most will stay surprisingly whole (see picture above and I was actually pretty rough in the stirring process).  Be sure there are no pockets of goopy mixture left (I thought I was done stirring and then accidentally came across a few pockets in the pot).
  5. Lay out a sheet of wax paper and butter your hands up.  Taking small handfuls of the mixture out of the pot, roll them up in your hands approximately golf ball sized or a little larger if you prefer.  Be sure to firmly squish them into the ball shape–again, this is no time to be gentle.  The harder you squish them, the chewier they will be later and that is ALWAYS my goal in this matter.  This is a great step to let the kids help with; I have strong memories of Mom mixing the ingredients together and then me and my sister helping to roll the balls up.  Be careful with little hands in the hot mixture.  Most of it will have cooled, but sometimes you just hit a hot spot.  You can avoid this by using a spoon to pull up portions of the mixture so that they can test it or blow on it to cool instead of grabbing a handful of hot stuff.
  6. Let the balls cool before eating (although I can never resist eating a few still warm).  These also freeze wonderfully so make a huge batch and throw them in the freezer for treats.  They are, of course, hard on the jaw right out of the freezer, but once the outside softens up a little, they’re still super crispy on the inside, which is fun, but a mess.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

8 Sep

About a month ago, we had a Hawaiian Luau themed luncheon at work.  For it, a coworker bestowed upon me her beloved Grandmother’s secret family recipe for Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.  I was truly honored to be able to make it and I could tell immediately at looking through the ingredients that this cake was something special.  The cake was a big success at the Luau and I couldn’t wait to share the recipe with you except…it’s called “Grandmother’s secret family recipe” for a reason.  I was desperately trying to think of a way to share it, but, really, there must be integrity and honor amongst chefs, right?

I couldn’t leave you with nothing, so I’m including Cooks Illustrated’s Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, since their recipes are usually foolproof.  You’ll still be eating fantastic cake!  (If you promise not to tell anyone, I might suggest you think about adding bit of a three letter alcohol.  It’s not the most secret ingredient and not the one that adds the biggest special taste profile, so I feel okay sharing it).  Please note again, that the cake shown above is not the same recipe as below!  If you want a more traditional looking cake closer to what I made above than what CI suggests, make the caramel sauce, pour it into the cake pans, and arrange the maraschino cherries (first) and pineapple rings (second), then pour the cake batter over them.  Aloha!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Recipe from Cooks Illustrated

Pineapple Topping

  • 1 medium fresh pineapple (about 4 pounds), diced into 1/2 pieces (about 4 cups prepared fruit)
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar (7 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened but still cool
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 egg white at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup whole milk at room temperature
  1. Lightly spray 9-inch round, 2-inch deep cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
  2. For the pineapple topping: Combine pineapple and brown sugar in 10-inch skillet; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally during first 5 minutes, until pineapple is translucent and has light brown hue, 15 to 18 minutes. Empty fruit and juices into mesh strainer or colander set over medium bowl. Return juices to skillet, leaving pineapple in strainer (you should have about 2 cups cooked fruit). Simmer juices over medium heat until thickened, beginning to darken, and mixture forms large bubbles, 6 to 8 minutes, adding any more juices released by fruit to skillet after about 4 minutes. Off heat, whisk in butter and vanilla; pour caramel mixture into prepared cake pan. Set aside while preparing cake. (Pineapple will continue to release liquid as it sits; do not add this liquid to already-reduced juice mixture.)
  3. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.
  4. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with flat beater, cream butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, add vanilla, and beat to combine; one at a time, add whole eggs then egg white, beating well and scraping down bowl after each addition. Reduce speed to low; add about one-third of flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Add half of milk and beat until incorporated; repeat, adding half of remaining flour mixture and remaining milk, and finish with remaining flour. Give final stir with rubber spatula, scraping bottom and sides of bowl to ensure that batter is combined. Batter will be thick.
  5. To bake: Working quickly, distribute cooked pineapple in cake pan in even layer, gently pressing fruit into caramel. Using rubber spatula, drop mounds of batter over fruit, then spread batter over fruit and to sides of pan. Tap pan lightly against work surface to release any air bubbles. Bake until cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on wire rack, then place inverted serving platter over cake pan. Invert cake pan and platter together; lift off cake pan. Cool to room temperature, about 2 hours; then cut into pieces and serve.
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