Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pumpkin Cream Napoleons with White Chocolate Drizzle

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One of my favorite places in the world to visit is Jan Karon's Mitford, North Carolina.  I love ambling down Main Street with Father Tim.  Having coffee at the Main Street Grill and chit-chatting with Mule Skinner and J.C. Hogan.  A quick stop at Happy Endings Bookstore to see what the latest shipment has to offer. A wave to Uncle Billy sitting outside in a chrome dinette chair crafting a bird house and chuckling to myself over that joke he told about the census taker.  And a stop by Winnie Ivey's Sweet Stuff Bakery to see if there are any of yesterday's Napoleons left over.  And of course, there are, set aside just for Father Tim.

I am re-reading At Home in Mitford for the umpteenth time and almost smelling the cinnamon-scented air as Father Tim stops in at the Sweet Stuff on his way home to the rectory.  If Winnie used the two ingredients for this month's Lady Behind the Curtain's Dessert Challenge - pumpkin and cream cheese - maybe she would create something like this ....

Pumpkin Cream Napoleons with White Chocolate Drizzle
Lady Behind the Curtain Dessert Challenge4 tablespoons butter, softened
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Cream butter and cream cheese at medium speed. Add pumpkin, 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Continue mixing until well blended.  Set aside.
On a floured surface, roll out puff pastry to about 1/8-inch thick.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, prick the surface with a fork.  Top with another sheet of parchment paper and place another baking sheet on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes.  Remove top baking sheet and top sheet of parchment.  Return to oven and bake another 5-7 minutes until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Cut pastry into three sections.  Mix remaining cup of powdered sugar with just enough water to make a glaze.  Spread over the top of one section of pastry.

Spread half of pumpkin cream on one unglazed section of pastry.  Place the second unglazed section on top and spread remaining cream to cover.  Place the glazed section on top of the stack, glaze side up.

Melt white chocolate chips.  With the back of a spoon, drizzle in a zig-zag pattern over the Napoleon.  Give the top a light sprinkle of cinnamon.  Chill in refrigerator one hour before slicing.

These got a "wow" out of my husband.  I like to think they might have earned a "wow" from Father Tim also.  If you haven't been to Mitford, you need to plan a trip very soon.

Linking up to:


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Apple Snap Cake (with a warm Cinnamon Sauce)

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Proper enunciation is a good thing.  Especially for speakers, singers, as well as in general conversation.

What started out as a snack cake ended up a snap cake because apparently my enunciation was slightly askew when explaining to husband what I was attempting to create.  Each time I said Apple Snack Cake, he was quite certain I said Apple Snap Cake.

He won me over.  I decided "snap" had a nice ring to it.  So, for September's Dessert Challenge from

Lady Behind the Curtain Dessert Challenge

I give you the newly christened Apple Snap Cake.  And to top it off, a luscious, buttery sauce with a touch of cinnamon.

Apple Snap Cake
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Photobucket1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 large apples, peeled and diced (about 3 cups)
1 cup chopped black walnuts
1- 6 oz package butterscotch morsels

Stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl; set aside.

Pour vegetable oil into mixing bowl, add eggs and sugar and mix on medium speed until blended.  Add flour mixture alternately with diced apples, and continue to mix just until combined.  Stir in chopped nuts and butterscotch chips.

Spread mixture in a greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes.  Place on wire rack to cool while preparing the sauce.

Warm Cinnamon Sauce
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir together sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan.  Add remaining ingredients and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until melted and blended and sauce coats your spoon.  Serve warm over cake.

This sauce is a variation of a dessert sauce my Mother used to make and it's really tempting to just put a straw in the sauce bowl and finish it off!  But save it for the cake, it reheats nicely in the microwave, and adds a great finish to this quick and easy cake. 

Also linking up at:
Six Sister's Stuff Strut Your Stuff Saturday
Tasty Tuesdays #28
Thursdays Treasures 104
Weekend Potluck #85
Addicted to Recipes Scrumptious Sunday #72
Time to Sparkle #28
Gooseberry Patch Oktoberfest

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Peach & Cherry Upside Down Cake

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With leftover peaches from this month's Dessert Challenge, I decided to forge ahead with my original idea ... an upside down cake featuring peaches and cherries.

And this was the result - almost a coffee cake kind of texture with a hint of spice cake due to a heavier dose of cinnamon.  I think it was better after resting overnight, and found it incredibly moist by day 2.
Peach & Cherry Upside Down Cake

1 cup unsalted butter, divided
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 medium peach, peeled and sliced in wedges
10-12 fresh cherries, pitted and cut in half
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place 3 tablespoons of butter and the brown sugar in a lightly greased 9-inch cake pan.  Set pan in preheated oven for 4-5 minutes or until butter and brown sugar are bubbly. Stir to be sure both are evenly distributed.  Let cool slightly.

Lay peach slices around the edge of the cake pan.  Place cherries, cut side down, between the peaches and around the center, filling gaps with any remaining peaches.

Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.  Cream remaining 5 tablespoons of butter on low speed, add sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Add flour mixture, alternately with milk, mixing well after each addition.

Pour batter in cake pan, completely covering the fruit.  Tap pan lightly on the counter to remove any bubbles.  Bake for 40-50 minutes until center tests done.

Run knife around the edge of the cake pan to loosen.  Place pan on a wire rack and cool at least 25 minutes.  Lay platter on top of pan and invert.  

Whew!  Now, that is a hold your breath kind of moment, waiting to hear the cake release from the pan ... and hoping ALL of it releases!  I have had some complete disasters, but fortunately this one slipped out like a dream!

Linking up at these parties:
Thursday's Treasures 100th Link Party
Six Sister's Strut Your Stuff Saturday #111
Mix It Up Monday
Time to Sparkle
Cast Party Wednesday #106
Tasty Tuesdays

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Peaches and Cream Bread Pudding

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Fresh peaches are plentiful right now and therefore perfect for Lady Behind the Curtain's dessert challenge for August ... Peaches and Cream!
I was headed in a different direction with the challenge ingredients until while putting groceries away I realized that we really shouldn't have bought that package of sandwich buns because there was already a partially used package of buns hiding in the corner of the bread drawer that needed to be used first.

I've seen a variety of breads mentioned in bread pudding recipes ... Italian bread, French bread, brioche, or simply a crusty white sandwich bread - but I decided to try the buns and they actually worked very well, soft enough to absorb the liquid but they also seemed to hold their shape nicely after baking. Whatever type of bread you use, I might suggest letting the bread pieces sit out and air dry before using, just to crust them up a little more.

Peaches and Cream Bread Pudding
Day-old bread torn into bite-sized pieces (about 4 1/2 cups)
3 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 large peaches, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup chopped almonds (or pecans!)
2 tablespoons sugar

Place bread pieces into a large bowl and set aside.  Whisk together eggs, whipping cream, brown sugar, cinnamon, and almond extract until well blended. Pour over bread, tossing to coat the pieces well.

Melt butter in a non-stick skillet over medium low heat.  Add diced peaches and stir gently.  Add chopped almonds (in my case, it was pecans because the almond bag was empty!) and sugar, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Add peaches to bread mixture and place in refrigerator to chill for about 15-20 minutes.  
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pour pudding into a 11- x 7-inch baking dish that has been lightly sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray.  Bake 60-75 minutes until firm and lightly browned.

My topping of choice is a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream but it would also be nice with a dollop of whipped cream.
Husband said it would have been better with the almonds, and probably so, but I wouldn't turn around for the difference!

Linking to these parties:
Six Sisters' Strut Your Stuff Saturday

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Blueberry Citrus Tart

Pin ItBlueberry and Lemon and Mint, oh my!

This month's challenge ingredients from the

are blueberries and lemons ... one of my favorite flavor combinations!  To kick it up a notch, I grabbed a handful of fragrant, citrus mint from our patio.

My husband is an excellent gardener - one of those who can put a twig of anything in a bit of dirt and it will grow profusely.  I, on the other hand, can pet a plant silly and it will turn up it's leafy nose and wither in front of my eyes.

However this summer he has met his match ... a mother deer and her fawn who have taken up residence in our back yard and decided his horticultural offerings fulfill their dietary needs.  Hence, no tomatoes this year but thankfully the basil and the mint have survived.  So far.

Back to the challenge ... mint can sometimes be overwhelming so I used it sparingly.  The citrus mint turned out to be a nice addition to the crust and complimented the blueberry and lemon flavors in my Blueberry Citrus Tart, prepared in a free-form, rustic style. 

Blueberry Citrus Tart
For the crust:
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
grated zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon finely chopped citrus mint leaves
8 tablespoons cold butter, diced
5-6 tablespoons ice water

And the filling:
1 pint fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten and mixed with water

Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, lemon zest and chopped mint.  Place in a food processor; add diced butter and pulse 8-10 times until flour resembles a bowl of peas.  Add ice water one tablespoon at a time and pulse after each addition until dough begins to form. Turn dough onto a flour-dusted surface and knead gently.  Form into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least an hour or overnight.
Unwrap dough and place on a sheet of parchment paper sprinkled lightly with flour.  Roll out into a 12-inch circle, or in this case, I opted for a rectangular shape.  Slide parchment with dough onto a baking sheet and refrigerate an additional 20 minutes.  While dough is chilling again, place another baking sheet on the center oven rack and preheat to 400 degrees.

Place blueberries in a medium bowl, sprinkle with lemon juice.  Add sugar, cornstarch, zest and salt.  Stir until fruit is coated well.  Pour blueberries on the center of the dough, leaving about a 2-inch border.

Fold edges in over fruit filling and brush with egg wash.  Bake 30-35 minutes until crust is golden brown and fruit is bubbling.  Place baking sheet on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes.  Remove parchment and tart from the baking sheet and continue to cool on the wire rack.

And the son is pacing, plate and fork in hand, waiting for the first bite.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Coconut Whoopie Pies with Lime Buttercream

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"You put the lime in the coconut ..." then post your creation to

Lady Behind the Curtain Dessert Challenge

This month's challenge was Coconut and Lime and after mulling over a multitude of possibilities I happened upon pictures of Whoopie Pies that caught my attention so I decided to create some whoopie with the two challenge ingredients.

Originally I intended the filling to be lime curd which I have never made before (as far as that goes I have never made whoopie pies before until now), but I opted for a more tried and true buttercream with a touch of coconut and lime. If I changed anything else I might scoop the cookie batter a tad smaller because the cookies do spread considerably when baking.
The results however, were declared "just the best thing ever" followed quickly by "you must get these out of the house!"  And out of the house most, but not quite all of them went.

Coconut Whoopie Pies
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg white
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sweetened coconut, divided 
finely grated zest of one lime

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl; stir in graham cracker crumbs and set aside.

Mix butter and shortening with sugar on medium speed until creamy.  Beat in egg and egg white.  Add half of flour mixture, coconut milk, vanilla, then remaining flour mixture continuing on low speed until well blended.  Stir in 1/2 cup of coconut and lime zest.

Dip batter using a 1/4-cup ice cream scoop onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cookies are firm and begin to crack on top.  Place parchment paper with cookies on wire racks to cool completely.  The 1/4-cup size scoop will yield about 8-10 pies.

While cookies are cooling, spread remainder of coconut on baking sheet and toast under the broiler until golden brown.

Lime Buttercream
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons grated lime zest

Cream butter on medium speed until fluffy.  Add remaining ingredients and mix until thoroughly blended.  Add more powdered sugar if needed for a good firm consistency.

Spread a generous amount of buttercream on the flat side of half of the cookies. Top each with another cookie.  Roll sides in toasted coconut.

So, as the lyrics go ... "put the lime in the coconut and you feel better ... "      

Linking up at ...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Strawberry Cake

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Many times when I've asked someone what their favorite flavor of cake is they reply ...


I've never been one to make that choice as I naturally lean more toward the chocolate varieties but I must say that this fresh strawberry cake could make me a convert.

I found the origin of this recipe several years ago and over time have tweaked and changed it up a bit until I have it just like I like it.  It starts very simply with a cake mix and becomes an incredibly moist and flavor-full dessert.  I have tried several types of frosting but find that it's hard to beat a good basic buttercream.

Strawberry Cake
1 box (18.25 ounce) white cake mix
1 3-ounce package strawberry jello
1 cup pureed fresh strawberries, including juice
1 cup canola oil
1/2 cup milk
4 large eggs
1 cup unsweetened coconut
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup seedless strawberry jam
4-5 strawberries, thinly sliced

Combine cake mix and dry jello in a large mixing bowl.  Add pureed strawberries with juice, oil and milk.  Beat on medium speed until blended.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Stir in coconut and pecans. Pour batter into three 9-inch cake pans that are greased and either floured or lined with wax paper.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until lightly browned.  Set on wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes.  Remove each layer from pans onto wire rack and let cool completely.

Basic Buttercream
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 pound confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat butter on medium speed until creamy.  Reduce speed and gradually add sugar, then vanilla, mixing until well blended.  Add more sugar if needed if frosting appears too thin.

To assemble:
Place a small dollop of frosting in center of cake plate to anchor the first cake layer.  Spread half of strawberry jam over first layer to within 1/2-inch of the edge.  Top with a spread of buttercream and place sliced strawberries around outer edge.  Place second layer on top and repeat jam, frosting and sliced strawberry topping.  

Put third layer in place and spread top and sides with a thin layer of frosting to seal the crumbs.  Refrigerate a few minutes then cover cake with remaining buttercream.

Linking up at ...
Time to Sparkle #6
Lady Behind the Curtain's Cast Party #88
Thursday's Treasures #83
Mix It Up Monday
Gooseberry Patch Memorial Day Roundup
Six Sisters' Strut Your Stuff Saturday
Saturday Spotlight #27


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Frozen Caramel Delight

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I received this pie recipe ages ago from our dear friend Jeanne.


By the way, that's the French spelling of Jean ... an inside joke.

The pie didn't have an official name, so I dubbed it "Jeanne's Frozen Delight".

For April's dessert challenge using caramel and pretzels, this was the first recipe that came to mind.  I have modified it slightly by using a pretzel crust instead of the regular pie shell it calls for.

I also felt it needed a new name so this luscious concoction is now ...  

Frozen Caramel Delight submitted for the third Dessert Challenge from
Lady Behind the Curtain ...
Lady Behind the Curtain Dessert Challenge

Frozen Caramel Delight
5 cups salted pretzels, or enough to yield about 3 cups crushed
1/2 cup sugar
3 sticks butter, divided
1 - 7 ounce bag sweetened coconut
3/4 cups pecans, chopped
1 - 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 - 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 - 16 ounce container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 - 12 ounce jar of caramel ice cream topping

For the crust:
Lightly spray two 9-inch pie pans with a non-stick cooking spray.  Melt two sticks of butter and set aside.  Place pretzels in a food processor and pulse until finely crushed.  Measure out 3 cups of crumbs into a medium bowl.  Add sugar and melted butter, and stir until mixed well.  Divide pretzel mix evenly between the two prepared pie pans, pressing evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the pans.  Bake at 350 degrees 12-14 minutes until set.  Cool completely.

For the topping:
Melt the third stick of butter in a medium-sized skillet.  Add coconut and chopped pecans.  Cook until golden brown, stirring frequently.  Set aside to cool.

For the filling:
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and condensed milk until well blended.  Fold in thawed whipped topping.

To assemble:
Layer 1/2 of the filling mix, divided evenly between the two cooled pie crusts. Top each with 1/2 of the caramel sauce, again divided between the two pies. Repeat layers.  Sprinkle half of the coconut mixture on top of each pie and press lightly into filling.  To garnish, push pretzels around the edge between crust and filling.  Freeze overnight.

Let pies sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes before slicing.

Since I was not able to pack all of the ingredients into said pie shells, and I promise I tried really hard, I was forced to make myself a small parfait from the leftovers.  Ah, the sacrifices we make ...

Linking up at:
Weekend Potluck
Strut Your Stuff Saturday
Time to Sparkle #5
Thursday's Treasures
Mix It Up Monday

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Baked Italian Sub

My teenager loves this sandwich.

And so does his Mom because it is a super easy, super quick way to fill him up.

And it can be easily adapted to whatever we happen to have in the refrigerator that week.  But here is how it usually stacks up ...

Start with a loaf of ciabatta bread from the deli, sliced in half lengthwise. Spread both sides generously with pesto sauce.

Layer slices of turkey and provolone cheese on both sides.  Top one side with slices of pepperoni and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese.

Place both sides together, pressing down slightly.  Wrap completely in foil and bake in a 450 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Slice horizontally into 4-6 slices.

This reheats well the next night at 400-425 degrees for about 15 minutes or until heated through.

Linking up at:
Gooseberry Patch's Sandwich Recipe Roundup