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A bundt cake is instantly recognizable by its pretty fluted design. I like how it makes a cake look extra special. For this recipe we are making individual Vanilla Bundt Cakes. The cakes are buttery sweet with a texture that is wonderfully dense and moist. While perfect on their own, I couldn't resist pouring a Vanilla Glaze over each cake that dries to a beautiful hard matte finish.
These are Pound Cakes. The batter is mixed using what we call the 'one bowl' or 'quick method' (also more commonly known as a 'dump' cake). This means all the dry ingredients are first put into a mixing bowl and the liquid ingredients are beaten into the batter. This method reduces the gluten formation in the flour thereby producing a dense cake with a soft and tender crumb. The important thing is to follow the mixing instructions and don't overwhip the batter as this will cause the cake to rise too much during baking and then collapse while cooling, producing a gummy layer.
The cakes are baked in a six - one cup (240 ml) bundt pan. It is important to generously butter and flour each cavity (or use a cooking spray that contains flour) so the cakes won't stick in the patterned depressions. If you are using a dark colored pan reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). The reason we do this is because a dark colored pan absorbs more of the energy coming from the oven walls so it becomes hotter and transmits heat faster than a light colored pan. Reducing the oven temperature slightly will help compensate for this.
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Summers are very long and very hot where I live. Since my air conditioner is running almost constantly, I try to use my oven as little as possible. That means, instead of baking cakes to satisfy my sweet tooth, I make a lot of icy cold frozen fruit pops. They are so flavorful and wonderfully satisfying. Easy to make, you simply combine fresh strawberries and blueberries, with a sugar syrup and a fruit yogurt.
These frozen fruit pops use a sugar syrup, often referred to as a simple syrup. It is a combination of sugar and water that is heated until the sugar has dissolved. While sugar syrups can be made using different proportions of sugar and water, for this recipe we are using equal weights. You can make the sugar syrup ahead of time as it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
These Frozen Pops are so easy to make. Just process the strawberries and blueberries in your food processor and then add the sugar syrup and yogurt. You can use any flavor of yogurt, but I am partial to either blueberry or strawberry. You can also add one tablespoon of Limencello or Prosecco (Sparkling Wine) for added flavor if you like.
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I like fruit tarts. I like the combination of a pastry crust, a creamy filling, and juicy sweet fruit. This fruit tart offers all that and it's really easy to make. It starts with a buttery crisp shortbread crust that we fill with a delicious no bake cheesecake-like filling. For the fruit topping, juicy sweet blackberries are gently cooked with a little jam, just until they start to soften and release their wonderful juices.
This fruit tart begins with a pre-baked shortbread pastry that is sweet, buttery, and crisp. While the classic filling for fruit tarts may be pastry cream, for this tart I decided to use a No Bake Filling. All you do is beat mascarpone cheese with heavy whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. It is delicious, with its velvety smooth and creamy texture.
For those who are unfamiliar with Mascarpone cheese it is a soft un-ripened cheese that belongs to the cream cheese family. It comes from Switzerland and Italy and is a thick, buttery-rich, sweet and velvety, ivory-colored cheese produced from cow's milk that has the texture of sour cream. It is usually sold in eight ounce (225 gram) containers and can be found in specialty food stores and in the deli section of some grocery stores. However, you can substitute the Mascarpone cheese with an equal amount of regular full fat cream cheese.
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The Chocolate Chip Cookie is America's most famous cookie. It was invented in 1930 by Ruth Wakefield, who was the owner of the Toll House Inn in Massachusetts. The story goes that one day she decided to add small chunks of a Nestle's Semisweet Yellow Label Chocolate bar to her cookie dough. The 'chocolate chip' cookies were an instant hit with her customers. Word must have spread of how good these cookies were, because by 1939 Nestle was selling small chocolate morsels (or chips) in a yellow bag. Nestle went on to buy the rights to the Toll House name and to Ruth Wakefield's 'chocolate chip' cookie recipe. They called her recipe "The Famous Toll House Cookie" and printed it on the back of their Yellow bag of chocolate chips.
This Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe is very similar to the recipe that is on the back of the bag of Nestle's Chocolate Chips. The batter is made with unsalted butter and a combination of white and brown sugars. It produces a rich and chewy cookie with beautifully crisp edges.
For the chocolate chips, you can use semi sweet, bittersweet, milk, or even white chocolate chips. Or you could use a combination. While I prefer my chocolate chip cookies without nuts, you can fold in one cup (100 grams) of chopped walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts.
This recipe produces about 32 - 3 inch (7.5 cm) cookies. The batter can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days if you don't want to bake all the cookies at once. You can also freeze this dough. To do this, form the dough into round balls, flatten them slightly, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Freeze and then place the balls of dough in a plastic freezer bag, seal, and freeze. When baking, simply place the frozen balls of dough on a baking sheet and bake as directed. You may have to increase the baking time by a few minutes.
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Sometimes when I visit my local bakery, I bypass all the fancy desserts, and go straight for the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars. I just love the combination of dark chocolate and peanut butter in this three layer bar. The top layer is a smooth and shiny Chocolate Ganache covered with crunchy bits of peanuts. Next comes a no bake Peanut Butter Filling that's deliciously soft and fluffy with a creamy smooth texture. The bottom layer is a sweet and grainy Graham Cracker Crust that contrasts so nicely with the creaminess of the top two layers. My favorite way to eat these bars is cold from the fridge but they are also good at room temperature .
A Graham Cracker Crust is one of the easiest crusts to make. While you can buy Graham Cracker Crumbs, I prefer starting with whole Graham Crackers (homemade or store bought). Then either place the Graham Crackers in your food processor and process until finely ground, or put the Graham Crackers in a freezer bag and use a rolling pin to crush until finely ground. Next, just add the sugar and melted butter and mix until moistened. Once the mixture is placed in your baking pan, there are two ways to set the crust. One, is to chill in the refrigerator, but my preference is to bake it until golden brown and firm. Cool completely before pouring on the filling.
For the peanut butter filling the ingredients are just beaten together until light and fluffy. Peanut butter is a smooth paste made from roasted peanuts. The peanuts are ground, and then salt, a sweetener, and sometimes a stabilizer (to keep the oil from separating) are added. There are two types of peanut butter, and the ones that are labeled "Old-Fashioned" or "Natural" do not contain a stabilizer which means the peanut butter will separate. For this recipe I find it best to use a peanut butter that contains a stabilizer.
Lastly, if you want to make a larger batch of these Bars, simply double the recipe and use a 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) pan.
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You'll love this moist and dense Vanilla flavored Butter Cake. While you can cover it with a variety of frostings, one of my favorites is this delicious Cream Cheese Frosting with its light and fluffy texture and sweet yet tangy flavor. Depending on the occasion, garnish the top of the cake with candy sprinkles, birthday candles, fresh berries, or even fresh flowers.
This Vanilla Cake is what is commonly referred to as a 1-2-3-4 Cake. Popular since the 19th century it is an easy cake to remember. The numbers 1-2-3-4 refer to the quantities of ingredients; 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, and 4 eggs. I have cut back a little on the amount of sugar, but otherwise the formula is almost the same. This cake is made using the 'creaming' method where the butter and sugar are beaten together first and then the eggs, followed by the flour and milk are added.
While you can frost the cake immediately after it has been baked and cooled, I like to chill the cake until it's firm (at least a few hours or even overnight). I do this because a freshly baked cake is quite fragile and when you try to spread the frosting there is a tendency for the cake to tear. The extra step of chilling until firm makes the spreading of the frosting so much easier.
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I have been making Lemon Bars for years. Normally I bake them in an 8 inch (20 cm) pan, but there are times when I need a larger amount. And that is when I make this recipe, as it uses a 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) pan. Like my other Lemon Bar recipe, these Lemon Shortbread Bars combine a buttery crisp shortbread crust with a tart and tangy lemon filling. However, for this recipe the lemon filling is about twice as thick. I love how the lemon filling separates as it bakes. The top layer has a thin cake-like crust, while underneath the lemon filling is all soft and creamy. Lemon Bars (some called them Lemon Squares or Lemon Slices) are instantly recognizable because of their liberal coating of snowy white confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar. The day these bars are made you will find the shortbread crust is crisp and the lemon filling is tart and tangy. But if you store them in the refrigerator overnight, you will find that the shortbread's texture softens and the lemon flavor has mellowed. Perfect either way.
In order for these Lemon Bars to have a nice citrus flavor, you need to use fresh lemons, not the imitation lemon juice that comes in a bottle. When choosing lemons make sure to look for ones that are fragrant with bright yellow skins. They should be firm, plump, and heavy for their size. Try to avoid lemons that have blemishes, soft spots, green spots, or are hard and wrinkled. Lemons consist of a yellow outer rind (skin) that contains the fruit's oils and perfumes. This outer rind, of varying thickness and graininess, can have either a bumpy or smooth glossy texture that contains most of the lemon's wonderful tangy flavor. Before removing the outer rind (zest) make sure you wash the lemon thoroughly (soap and water is best). The rind (zest) can be removed using a knife, vegetable peeler, grater or zester. Inside the outer rind is a white membrane (pith) that is very bitter and should not be used as it is inedible. Small vessels called 'pulp vesicles' make up the inside of the lemon and contain the pleasantly acidic lemon juice and seeds. Squeezing the lemon by hand or with a lemon squeezer or reamer releases this clear tart juice.
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Homemade Vanilla Wafers may look like the commercially made cookies, but they taste better. I think you'll enjoy this tender crisp cookie with its buttery sweet vanilla flavor. I like to make them fairly small. Perfect on their own, or I like to serve them alongside a fruit salad or a bowl of ice cream. And don't forget to try using them the next time you make a Banana Pudding.
A few notes on ingredients. For the vanilla extract, make sure you buy "pure" vanilla extract, not the ones labeled "imitation" as they tend to leave a bitter aftertaste. Another idea is to use pure vanilla bean paste which is a thick vanilla extract with the vanilla bean seeds. I also used a combination of All Purpose (plain) flour and cake flour in this cookie batter. Cake flour is a low gluten flour that helps give the cookies a light and tender crumb. However, you could replace the cake flour with an equal amount of All Purpose Flour. And lastly, I added a little baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) to the batter as it gives the cookies their crisp edges.
A hamburger needs a great tasting bun. Where I live that is hard to find, so I'm now making my own. I use a Broiche dough which makes a really good hamburger bun. Brioche is an enriched bread, which means it is made with lots of butter and eggs. This gives it a buttery flavor and a wonderfully light and tender crumb. You can use these buns to make sandwiches as well, especially a Breakfast sandwich. To do this, cut the bun in half, and toast both sides. Then layer with a slice of cheese, maybe some Canadian bacon or ham, a fried egg, lettuce, and a slice of tomato.
A few notes on technique and ingredients. This dough is kneaded for a long time (20 to 25 minutes) which produces a strong dough that cleans your mixing bowl and is silky smooth (but not sticky). If you're new to bread making, I would watch the video as I show you an easy way (the 'window' test) to determine if your dough has been mixed to the correct consistency. After the first fermentation (proofing), I like to refrigerate the dough overnight. This improves the flavor of the Brioche and also makes the dough much easier to work with.
As far as ingredients go, for the yeast, I like to use SAF Gold instant yeast which is used in baked goods that are high in fat and/or sugar. This type of yeast gives a good rise and it doesn't need to be proofed. However, if you want to substitute active dry yeast for instant yeast you need to increase the amount of yeast by about 20%. For the salt I like to use kosher salt. For the butter, I like to use unsalted butter.
This recipe is for a Scone with a light and spongy, almost bread like texture. What makes these Scones extra special is that we add a little pure maple syrup to the batter which gives a sweet nutty flavor to the Scones. It also pairs so well with the dark chocolate chips and chopped pecans.
Maple syrup is a reddish-brown aromatic liquid that has a distinctive rich sweet nutty flavor. It is produced from the sap of maple trees grown in Canada and the Northeast United States. In early spring (called 'sugar season') when the nights are still cold but the days are warm enough that the sap begins to run, a small hole is made in the maple tree and a spout is then driven in from where a bucket is hung to collect the sap. Once collected, the sap is boiled down until most of the water has evaporated and the sap has become thick and syrupy. The whole process is very labor intensive and it takes anywhere from 20, and up to 50, gallons of sap to produce one gallon of maple syrup. The syrup is graded by its color and flavor i.e. the darker the color, the stronger the flavor.
Another ingredient used in these scones is buttermilk. Buttermilk has a thick and creamy texture with a rich tangy buttery taste that gives scones a bread-like texture. Buttermilk is now commercially made by adding a bacteria to whole, skim, or low fat milk. You can make a good substitute by stirring 1 tablespoon of white distilled vinegar, cider vinegar, or lemon juice into 1 cup (240 ml/grams) of milk. Let stand at room temperature about 10 minutes before using.