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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Almond Joy Cake

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Almond Joy Cake

My husband and I are spending the weekend in Houma, Louisiana visiting with his sister and her boyfriend. Her birthday is next month and I doubt we see her for her birthday, so I decided to bring her a cake early. I couldn't figure out what kind of cake to make her but i knew she, like me, was okay with anything chocolate. I asked Ronnie what he thought and he said he had no clue but her favorite candy bar was Almond Joy. I was so excited! I have had an idea in my head for months for an Almond Joy Cake and had yet to try it. This was the perfect opportunity!! She was sooo excited when she found out!! I had plans to decorate it using my new "skills" from the cake decorating class, but long story short...time got away from me. (Meaning my husband was rushing me out the door!) All in all, I was very happy with the results.

How can you go wrong with a moist Chocolate Cake with Almond Joy filling, covered in chocolate ganache and sprinkled with sliced almonds? I'll tell you....you CAN"T!!These pictures do NOT do it justice. I have better ones on my Facebbok account and on my cell phone but getting them here is quite the task. I just got a new touch phone the day we left and am still figuring it out. I started to wait to post this but I chose not to for a few reasons: 1)I was anxious to share it with you. 2) So many people seemed to be excited about this cake when i uploaded it to facebook. I will replace these pictures with better ones later. For now....I am going to share this recipe with you and beg you to try it!!!! This cake will change your life forever. Maybe this is taking it too far, but you get the idea! This is by far, the BEST CAKE I HAVE EVER MADE! You won't be dissapointed. I promise....if you disagree i will refund the money for your ingredients!

Almond Joy Cake

For the cake:
1 ¾ c. flour

2 c. sugar

¾ c. cocoa

2 tsp. baking soda

1 c. coffee

1 c. buttermilk

½ c. oil

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 eggs
Preheat the oven to 350 degres. Spray two 9-inch pans with Baker's Joy cooking spray. Mix all ingredients together and divide between prepared pans.  Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes.
For the Almond Joy Filling:
2 (16-ounce) boxes confectioners' sugar Cream together sugar and butter in a bowl; add milk. Stir in almond extract, coconut, and mix well.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon pure almond extract

1 (14-ounce) package shredded coconut

For the Ganache:
2 C. (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips

1 c. heavy whipping cream

2 T. butter

2 T. sugar
Place chocolate chips in a large bowl; set aside. In a heavy saucepan, bring the cream, butter, and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Pour over chocolate chips. Cool for 3 minutes. Stir until smooth and cool.
Originally, I had intentions of using a Chocolate Buttercream frosting on the cake. I decided a Ganache would make it taste more like an Almond Joy Bar and give it that same texture. When ganache sets it gets a little crispy like the candy bar! But like I said, you can;t go wrong with this cake!


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling

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Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling
(Recipe courtesy of http://willowbirdbaking.wordpress.com/2009/10/10/jack-o-latern-whoopie-pies/)
I follow several blogs and they are all well known. The reason I follow these blogs aren't because they are well known. I follow them because I have tried several of their recipes and am never let down! Their recipes turn out delicious, accurate results time after time. One of these blogs is Willow Bird Baking. If you haven't checked out her blog yet, you really should! Like now...you can finish reading this post later! You will find so many recipes to try. You'll be hard pressed to find one you don't want to immediately strap on your apron and cook. She's very talented in the kitchen and behind the camera. I think the recipe I loved most was her Coffee Cookie Dough Fudge Cheesecake. This is a decadent, rich, extravagant dessert that I cannot say enough about. If I can encourage you to try one of her recipes, it would be this one. Because her recipes always come through for me, I turned to her for a Whoopie Pie recipe. I wasn't disappointed. She had just what i was looking for : Jack-O'-Lantern (Pumpkin Spice) Whoopie Pies. Perfect, because I had just been given a slew of pumpkins by my brother and also because I just so happened to have all of the ingredients! I was a little nervous because it was my second attempt at making whoopie pies. My first was a disaster!! The first attempt was Oatmeal Cream Whoopie Pies. They spread on the pan and were the size of a soccer ball! I really don't know what happened...except that I threw it out! Julie's recipe turned out perfect and renewed my faith in my baking skills (and given me the courage to try those Oatmeal Cream Whoopie Pies one more time). Thanks, Julie!!! I hope you will try these!! They were a hit at my house!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
3 cups all-purpose flour (Jack-O'-Lantern Whoopie Pies)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon ground cloves

2 cups firmly packed dark-brown sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

3 cups pumpkin puree, chilled (chilling ensures pies won’t spread too much.)

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Filling Ingredients:

3 cups confectioners’ sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make the cookies: Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil until well combined. Add pumpkin puree and whisk until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Sprinkle four mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.

Using a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism, drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of each cookie comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on pan.

Make the filling: Sift confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl, set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, beat just until smooth. (Filling can be made up to a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate; let stand at room temperature to soften before using.)

Assemble the whoopee pies: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Transfer filling to a disposable pastry bag and snip the end. When cookies have cooled completely, pipe a large dollop of filling on the flat side of half of the cookies, pressing down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edge of the cookies. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate cookies for at least 30 minutes before serving and up to 3 days.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Apple Nachos

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Apple Nachos (Recipe Courtesy of Taste Of Home Magazine)
1 recipe of Caramel Sauce (Recipe Follows)
30 large marshmallows
1/3 cup butter, cubed
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts
1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons Halloween sprinkles

For The Caramel Sauce (Recipe Courtesy of Food Network Kitchens) :
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
3 cups sugar
5 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
Cook the sugar and corn syrup in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is dark amber, 7 to 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Carefully add the cream and 4 tablespoons butter (it will splatter) and cook, stirring, until combined, about 3 minutes.  Remove the skillet from the heat and let sit 1 minute.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt marshmallows and butter. Arrange apple slices on a large platter. Drizzle with caramel; top with marshmallow mixture. Sprinkle with peanuts, chocolate chips and sprinkles. Serve immediately.

I am a regular subscriber to Taste of Home Magazine and always look forward to receiving them. They never dissapoint! The newest October/November issue was no exception to this. When I turned the page and saw this recipe I knew I had to make these soon. We had invited friends over for Sunday and I decided I would make these as an appetizer. They are very quick to put together and full of taste! I didn't add Halloween spinkles to them because, well I can be OCD about some things, and I couldn't find any that I liked. It was either sprinkles with a few Halloween shapes in them or glitter. I wanted just Halloween shapes. I know....but I had this idea in my head and there was no way around it. Until I couldn't find them....so I decided we just wouldn't have any. After they were put together though I realized I had some candy corn in a candy dish that would look really cute. I think it did the trick! We had these for an appetizer, Corn and Crawfish Chowder and Cilantro Cheese Biscuits for Dinner and Pecan Bars for dessert. Except for about 4 Pecan Bars, everything was GONE! So all in all, I guess it turned out pretty good. The Apple Nachos are a great dish if you need something quick, delicious and festive for a party or dinner. And if you can find the perfect sprinkles...I bet they would be even cuter!! As always, if you don't have the particular apple called for in this recipe, use the one you have. Same with all other ingredients; a jar of Smucker's Caramel Ice Cream sauce will work if you want to make this in a hurry. Use what you have. Recipes are a guideline...use your imagination and have fun. That's what counts! That....and well that it's slap your mama good !

(* A post for the Corn and Crawfish Chowder will be comins soon! ) :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pecan Bars

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Pecan Bars
(Recipe Courtesy of Martha Stewart)
It’s fall!!! Is everyone else as excited as I am about this? I love everything about fall and winter. I have always been an extremely hot natured person. So during fall and winter I am in my element. I love that during fall I can turn off my AC and my heat and open my windows to enjoy the crisp cool air. And not to mention knowing when I get my power bill it will be the lowest of the year! I love making homemade hot chocolate and drinking my coffee outside in the morning. I love how there is a hint of excitement in the air that the holidays are just around the corner. I love seeing the orange and red flowers everywhere and the pumpkins and scarecrows on people’s lawn. I love everything about fall! Unlike most normal people, I even have my Thanksgiving menu planned. I know….that’s going a little overboard. But I have been looking forward to fall since last fall ended!! When it finally rolled around I had a list of dishes I was ready to cook to welcome it in. On the top of the list was Pecan Bars.

This recipe came from Martha Stewart and it's absolutely heavenly! It has a buttery crust topped with a rich pecan filling and kicked up a notch with fresh honey. Honey is the ingredient that makes this recipe...but not just any honey...fresh, local honey! Lucky for me, I have a stash of honey we buy from a distant family member who is a bee charmer. I have yet to taste a better honey. I buy more every year, even if i still have some from the previous year. It's that good and very cheap compared to the stores and farmers markets.
Another reason I love this recipe so much is because I have issues with traditional Pecan Pie. Don't kick me out of the south just yet....hear me out! I have always loved Pecan Pie...just without the pecans! Since I was a kid I have always picked them off and ate the filling and crust. The pecans always tasted too cooked for me...almost burnt. Because of this I would not eat anything with pecans cooked in it growing up and well in to my 20's. I wasn't too sure I was going to like this recipe for that reason. However, when I watched Martha Stewart make them on t.v. they just looked too good not to try. I am certainly glad i did! The first time I made them and tried one I thought, "This is how Pecan Pie should taste!" Needless to say, I make these instead of Pecan Pie! And in case you're wondering...I leave the pecans on them! Am I allowed to remain in the south now? I think if you try them, you will replace your traditional Pecan Pie for this recipe....at least this Thanksgiving anyway! And if you still have to follow tradition and make your Pecan Pie I understand and won't judge. Southern traditions run deep! Just promise you'll try it. You're life will be complete!