Friday, September 26, 2014

Sticky Toffee Date Cake (a.k.a Sticky Toffee Pudding)

Go make this right now...and save me some.


This is by far my absolute favorite dessert.  I am not kidding. I would rather have this than pie, cookies, chocolate, chocolate and peanut butter, or even s'mores and you know I love s'mores.  If you are unfamiliar (which I was for a long time), Sticky Toffee Pudding is an English dessert and it is not at all a "pudding" in the American sense.  It is a moist date sponge cake topped with an incredible toffee sauce.  I was first exposed to Sticky Toffee Pudding when Haagen-Dazs came out with a limited edition "Sticky Toffee Pudding" flavor ice cream.  Unfortunately they discontinued the flavor (big mistake if you ask me).  From then on, whenever I saw Sticky toffee Pudding on a menu I would get it.  Zack and I went on a cruise many years ago and each night we had dinner and dessert in the fancy restaurant.  After dinner each night we would go up to the buffet and have second dessert of Sticky Toffee Pudding.  I miss that trip.  I never attempted to make this until recently.  I was watching Barefoot Contessa and she made a version that did not seem complicated at all.  I decided I would give it a try for Zack's birthday and we are both glad I did.  I will now be making this for my birthday too.  


Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake
adapted from Laura Donnelly, on Barefoot Contessa

Make 2 9-inch cakes or 20 individual cakes

For the cakes:
1 pound dates, pitted and chopped
2 teaspoon baking soda
8 ounces butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar 
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/4 tablespoons baking powder

For the Sauce (for 2 cakes):
1 pound butter
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Vanilla ice cream for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans or 20 muffin tins. 

Place dates in a large sauce pan with 3 1/2 cups cold water. Bring to a boil, stirring a little to break up the dates. Then leave to simmer for 1 minute before removing from the heat. Stir in the baking soda (which will cause mixture to bubble up).

Cream the butter and the sugar together in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, occasionally scraping down mixing bowl. Add the vanilla extract and then the flour and salt and mix briefly to give a lumpy dough.

Next, add the warm date mixture in two batches. Scrape down the sides of the bowl in between mixing. The dough will now be quite watery but don't worry. Finally, add the baking powder (this will bubble up also).

Pour the batter evenly into the two pans. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes for cake pans and about 20 minutes for muffin tins. Test for doneness with a toothpick, it should come out clean when cakes are done.

Meanwhile, to make the sauce, combine the butter, brown sugar, heavy cream and vanilla extract in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer gently for a minute or two until thickened and well blended.

When the cakes are done, let them sit on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Then, loosen the sides of the cake by running a knife around the edges, and invert onto a plate. Poke little holes with a toothpick all over the cakes; this will enable the sauce to be absorbed more easily. Pour the sauce over the cakes while they are still warm in a few batches. It takes a few minutes for one coat to soak in so you can add another.  Leave the cakes to soak into the sauce for at least 10 minutes. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.




Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Blueberry Muffin Cake

Wild about Blueberries.






































As you have probably noticed over the past few months, I have been in a muffin phase.  I still have two more muffin recipes to share in addition to this one and plan on baking more next weekend.  This time around I thought I would try turning my favorite blueberry muffins into a cake.  The idea was brilliant because this cake was perfect!  I brought it to the birthday party of my good friend's daughter.  It was a morning party and I thought it would be a nice addition to the treats she was providing.  The cake was loved by everybody and I will definitely be making it again....and again.

Blueberry Muffin Cake
recipe from Baked Perfection

makes 1 loaf cake or 12 muffins

Cake:

2 eggs1/2 cup white sugar1/2 cup brown sugar1/2 cup vegetable oil1 teaspoon vanilla extract2 cups all-purpose flour1/2 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon baking soda1 tsp cinnamon1/2 cups sour cream2 cups blueberries, dusted in 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Topping:
1/2 cup white sugar1/3 cup all-purpose flour1/4 cup butter, cubed1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a standard loaf pan with butter or non-stick spray.

In a medium bowl mix together flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. In a large bowl beat together eggs, white sugar, and brown sugar. Mix in oil, vanilla, and sour cream. Mix dry ingredients into wet mixture (be sure not to over-mix, batter will be lumpy). Gently fold in blueberries. Pour batter into prepared pan.

To make the topping: mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking. 


Bake in preheated oven for 45-55 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.



Sunday, September 7, 2014

Cupcakes, Cupcakes and More Cupcakes

It is hard to stop with just one.


I am making cupcakes for my friends wedding in a few weeks.  I wanted to do a tasting for her and she only asked to try two flavors.  I thought it would be nice if I did a few more flavors.    So here is a compilation of some of my favorite cupcakes that I made.

Chocolate Oreo Cupcakes with Cookies and Cream Frosting (I also made these with a Vanilla Cupcake base which you can see at the very top of the photo above)
Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting (Also pictured with Chocolate Frosting)
Lemon Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting (Also pictured is Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting)





Monday, September 1, 2014

Apple Strudel Muffins

Seriously, I am in a muffin phase.

This picture does not do this muffin justice, as it was delicious.  I made these muffins quite some time ago, shortly before we had my daughter.  They were delicious and I thought this would be the perfect time to share them with you as Fall is right around the corner.  When I baked these I accidentally set the oven temperature way too high so my topping melted before I realized I had the temperature wrong. Your muffins will look much prettier.  I individually wrapped the muffins in plastic wrapped once cooled, then stored them in a gallon size freezer bag in the freezer.  We popped them in the microwave for thirty seconds in the morning and we had warm apple muffins for breakfast.  I wish I had some now!

Apple Strudel Muffins
recipe adapted from allrecipes.com

makes 12 muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shredded apples

1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.  

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter, white and brown sugar, and eggs until smooth.  Mix in vanilla. Gently stir in the apples, then slowly add the flour mixture.  Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups.

In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until the mixture is like coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle over tops of the batter in the cups.

Bake 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Allow to sit 5 minutes before removing from the pan.  Cool on a wire rack.