In The Beginning...

... there was no World Wide Web. There was no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok... There wasn't even MySpace, let alone the concept of streaming movies or TV on demand.

Back in those Dark Ages, there was Compuserve, Prodigy, and America Online. You paid a monthly fee for an extremely slow dial-up connection to your service of choice. That fee entitled the user to 'X'-amount of minutes per month - and when you went over your allotment, you were charged by the minute for your overages. A lot. I know.

Victor and I were introduced online - he was on Prodigy, I was on America Online, and our Yenta, Nancy, was on both. She decided we should meet.

We did, and it will be 30 years in November...

During those years on Prodigy and America Online, we met a lot of really great people - people we were able to connect with in real life, and who remain cherished friends to this day.

One person we only knew from the Prodigy online world - who we lost contact with when Prodigy went away in 2001 - was a woman named Lisa Deaton. Lisa will always be remembered because she gave us her recipe for Double Fudge Brownie Decadence. And, as the recipe implies - it is decadent!

The secret to this particular recipe is the corn syrup. And, yes, boys and girls, there is a difference between Karo Corn Syrup and high fructose corn syrup.

Double Fudge Brownie Decadence

Lisa Deaton

Brownie

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate

Glaze

  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 9" cake pan.

In saucepan, heat butter and corn syrup until butter is melted. Stir in chocolate until melted. Cool, slightly.

Add sugar and then eggs, mixing well. Add vanilla, flour, and nuts, mixing well.

Pour into prepared pan and bake about 30 minutes, or until it springs back when lightly touched.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then remove and fully cool on rack.

For glaze:

Melt together chocolate, corn syrup, and butter. Stir in vanilla. Frost with glaze and then chill about 15 minutes to set glaze.

The online world really was so much different back in those days. To quote Simon and Garfunkel... A time it was, and what a time it was, it was... A time of innocence...

Not that we were actually innocent, mind you... we could definitely be hell-raisers walking the fine line of being TOS'd... I spent an inordinate amount of time on the Christianity Boards. It was fun being the Gay Atheist who knew more about the Bible than those who professed to follow it...

I also came close to working for the GLCF - Gay Lesbian Community Forum - on AOL circa 1992-93. Alas, the actual money wasn't there. With 20/20 hindsight, I probably would have made a fortune in stock. Oh, well...

It is difficult to imagine a time when you didn't carry access to the entire world in your pocket. A time when you called someone on the phone and it would be busy for hours because they were online with their dial-up. It's also hard to imagine a time when 14.6kbs was fast! You actually had to go to a bank - online banking didn't exist. Bills came in the mail - and were paid by check. It was downright archaic!

But I digress - as usual...

Thanks, Lisa, for the recipe - and the stroll down Memory Lane...

And speaking of Memory Lane... the plate is from the 1992 James Beard Award Dinner - a set of 4 from our friend, Susan, who has been a friend for more than 45 years - waaaaay before the online world existed.


Cast Iron Orange Cake - Without a Cast Iron Pan

The recipes one finds just reading the daily newspaper! Why I have spent untold thousands on cookbooks and cooking magazines is beyond me...

Case in point - a Cast Iron Orange Cake. We have both been really good about desserts - our A1C was creeping up juuuuuuust a bit, and neither of us felt like succumbing to Type 2 Diabetes in our dottage.

That being said... once in a while we must treat ourselves. That's once in a while - not nightly.

Enter the New York Times...

Victor saw a recipe for this cake that really sounded intriguing - made with whole oranges - skin, pith, and all. Only problem was it calls for a 10" cast iron skillet. We no longer have any cast iron skillets - they didn't make the move west.

We do, however, have the top to a cast iron dutch oven that I have used for bread baking. But it's on a bottom shelf in the far corner of a cupboard, and my hips in their current state do not enjoy crawling around on the floor searching for things. We do, however, have every size cake pan imaginable - all at eye-level. I grabbed one of the 10" pans and went to work.

 

Now, having never made this cake before, I have no idea how my version compares to one baked in cast iron, but my 10" Allied Metal Spinning cake pan made a damn fine cake!

Cast Iron Orange Cake

adapted from the New York Times

  • 2 cups/400 grams granulated sugar
  • 2 navel oranges
  • 2 teaspoons or vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly toasted and coarsely ground (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus a pinch kosher salt
  • 1 cup/226 grams butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 2 cups/255 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup/50 grams semolina flour (or another 1/4 cup/32 grams all-purpose flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup/60 grams chopped toasted walnuts
  • Olive oil, for the pan

Make the cake: Place a 10-inch cast iron pan on the middle rack of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F while you prepare the batter.

Add sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and finely zest one orange into it. Set the bowl aside and then trim a bit of the stem end off both oranges and discard. Cut oranges into 8 pieces and puree in a food processor or blender, scraping the bowl as needed. You need 1 1/2 cups puree; set aside.

To the stand mixer bowl, add vanilla, fennel seeds (if using) and a pinch of salt. Rub ingredients together vigorously with your hands and fingers.

When sugar is fragrant, add butter and set the mixer to medium-high speed to cream until fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Scrape down bowl and paddle, making sure you aren’t leaving any butter unattended.

Add egg yolks and beat on medium-high until well incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes more, remembering to scrape bowl and paddle as needed.

While wet ingredients are working in the mixer, prepare dry ingredients by whisking together flour, semolina, baking powder and salt.

Scrape butter mixture down from bowl and paddle. Give it a good stir to make sure the batter is well mixed. Return to the stand mixer, add the reserved 1 1/2 cups orange puree and slowly incorporate on medium-low speed, then turn to medium-high to blend well.

Starting on low speed, add dry ingredients, then increase speed to medium-high and eventually to high, scraping bowl and paddle until batter is very well mixed.

Stir in the nuts.

Remove the hot skillet from the oven, brush with a generous amount of olive oil and spread batter in the hot pan. It should sizzle and will get a nice, toasty caramelized bottom during baking.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The cake should be set in the middle and golden brown on top. You can use a cake tester if you have one; it should come out clean. This cake can be eaten on its own warm out of the oven after sitting for a little over 30 minutes.

It did not sizzle when I put the batter in, but it did bake up nicely.

I also substituted pistachios in place of the walnuts 'cuz we were out. (Just did a Trader Joe run this morning and we're well-stocked for the holidays!)

I'm thinking 1 1/2 cups of lemon, lime, or grapefruit would work quite well in this recipe...

Just not this week.


Super Bowl and TastyKakes

It's Super Bowl Sunday - the day where the most people in the country watch the same show on TV at the same time.

It's also a day where more people eat the same foods. It even rivals Thanksgiving!

Some of the standards are:

  • Chili
  • Hamburgers
  • Hot Dogs
  • Chicken Wings
  • Spinach artichoke dip
  • Pizza
  • Seven-layer dip
  • Guacamole
  • Nachos
  • Deviled eggs

I know I have definitely had or made all of them at one time or another - and many of them at one time! This year, however, we're going Philly-Style!

Victor is from Philadelphia and we lived in the Philly 'burbs for almost 20 years. Since my hometown Niner's aren't in the game, it's Eagles all the way - starting with the food.

We'll be going with Jersey Mike's Philadelphia Cheesesteaks, since that's about as Philly as we can get in Oregon.

This is an internet picture, but you get the idea. They're pretty good for not being in Philadelphia. There's a lot of debate over who makes the best cheesesteaks in Philly. Our personal favorite was a place in Wayne called Tozzi's. Great place with a really fun and personable cook. They closed for a [supposed] remodel and never reopened. We were crushed.

The next thing is going to be TastyKakes. These, I made since buying them online is ridiculously expensive. Victor looked into a Philly Box with soft pretzels and TastyKakes. It was about $29.00. Not exorbitant, totally doable - but they wanted FIFTY DOLLARS FOR SHIPPING! That, was exorbitant.

Traditionally, they would be round, but squares are easier...

It's a really simple recipe and makes 24 fairly large squares.

Friends KJ and Deb made these for dessert one night and gave us the recipe.

TastyKake Peanut Butter Kandy Kake

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tbs butter

Scald and set aside

  • 4 egg whites
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Mix egg whites, sugar, and vanilla until light. Mix in flour, salt, and baking powder. Add cooled milk/butter.

Put in jelly roll pan and bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Take out and spread 12 oz peanut butter on top. Put in fridge to chill.

Melt 8 oz. Hershey chocolate in double boiler and spread on top of cool cake. Refrigerate to harden.

Simple and fun.

GO BIRDS!

Of course, for those who just don't watch or like football, we're going to have our own version of The Puppy Bowl, today, as well!

Phoebe and Nancy have a new puppy - Lucy - who is barely 9 weeks old. She is absolutely adorable!

This is her coming home for the first time.

Being a Good Girl in the backyard...

And sound asleep in a noisy restaurant, yesterday.


Traditional Fruitcake - Sorta

There are so many variations on a Fruitcake, that it's nigh-on impossible to call one traditional. I mean... traditional from the 1600s? Traditional from a can?

The only thing really traditional about this is it has fruit and nuts - and it's dark.

As I have stated before, I like fruitcake - in all its guises. Homemade is the best, but I'll settle for a slice from a can if that's all there is.

Today's fruitcake is a mishmash of recipes from lord knows where... I have no fewer than six fruitcake recipes on the site, and all of them have been tweaked at least twice.

 

Fruitcake

  • 2 cups mixed diced glacéed fruits
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 3/4 cup brandy
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped assorted nuts
  • 1/4 cup peach jam mixed with 1 tbsp brandy

In a large bowl combine all of the fruits with the rum and let macerate several hours or overnight.

Line the bottom of a well-buttered 9 1/2-inch springform pan with a round of parchment paper and butter the paper. Into a small bowl sift together the flour, the baking powder, and the spices.

Cream together the butter and the brown sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy and beat in 4 of the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Drain the fruit mixture well and mix the juices into the batter.

Stir the flour mixture into the batter, one fourth at a time, stir in the fruit mixture, the almond meal, and the nuts, stirring until the mixture is just combined, and turn the batter out into the prepared pan.

Put 2 loaf pans, each filled with hot water, in a preheated 300°F. oven and put the springform pan between them. Bake the cake for 1 hour, brush the top with the remaining egg, beaten lightly, and bake the cake for 1 hour more. While the cake is baking, in a saucepan melt the peach jam with the remaining 1 tablespoon rum over moderate heat, bring the mixture to a boil, and strain it through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on the solids.

Cool cake in the pan on a rack for 30 minutes.  Remove from pan. Brush the top of the cake with glaze.

Wrap in cheesecloth and soak with brandy. Store in a cool, dry place.

I have made this with rum, whiskey, and brandy. Today was brandy. I have also switched out the dried fruits and nuts. Today's nuts were pistachios and walnuts.

As soon as it cools, it will get wrapped and sit in a nice cupboard waiting for Christmas Eve...

Unless we decide to dive in earlier, that is...

 


Chocolate Almond Torte

Making Substitutions

The other day, Sam Sifton, the NY Times Food Editor, wrote a great article on cooking with confidence.

We’re all looking for the delicious, and recipes are a good way to find it. But the idea that you have to follow an ingredients list closely to do so is bunk and always has been, unless you’re working a restaurant line. And I say that as a recipe merchant! They’re just sheet music. You can play them in all sorts of ways.

Have confidence at this strange, sheltered time!

That has been my mantra for as many years as I can remember. Well... actually, it's been "Go for it. The worst thing that can happen is you throw it all out and call for pizza."

But you get the idea... Recipes are guidelines.

It's particularly true right now, with grocery stores out of key ingredients - I find myself buying what's there, simply because what I want, isn't.

Baking is a bit more particular, but it's still a simple ratio - if a bread recipe calls for 500gr of flour, you can mix and match those flours. You may need to increase or decrease your liquid by a fraction, but... it's going to work.

Last night we caught an episode of Milk Street and they made a flourless chocolate cake with sliced almonds. Victor looked at it and said it was one we had to make. This morning, I headed into the kitchen.

The recipe called for:

  • sliced almonds - we had whole
  • semi-sweet chocolate - we had baking chocolate and milk chocolate
  • brown sugar - we had demerara

Did that stop me?!? Of course not!

Chocolate Almond Torte

I have no idea what the original was supposed to be like, but this came out stellar! Rich, moist, nutty - just a ton of flavor. The original recipe called for topping the torte with sliced almonds before baking. I didn't bother - powdered sugar worked just fine.

It's definitely worth making!

Flourless Chocolate Almond Torte

adapted from Milk Street

  • 2 1/3 cups almonds (original recipe calls for sliced)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 oz baking chocolate
  • 4 oz milk chocolate (original recipe calls for 8 oz bittersweet)
  • 1 cup demerara sugar (original recipe calls for 1 cup packed brown sugar)
  • pinch salt (original recipe calls for 1 tsp)

Heat the oven to 300°F with a rack in the middle position.

Grease 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray, line the bottom with kitchen parchment, then mist the parchment.

Crack the eggs into a liquid measuring cup and add the vanilla; set aside.

In a food processor, process 2 cups of the almonds until finely ground, 20 to 30 seconds. Add the chocolate and pulse until the chocolate is finely ground, 10 to 15 pulses. Add the sugar and salt, then process until well combined, about 30 seconds, scraping the bowl as needed. With the machine running, gradually pour in the egg mixture. Continue processing until the batter is smooth and homogeneous, about another 15 to 20 seconds. Remove the blade and scrape the bowl.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the center feels firm when gently pressed and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out with moist, fudgey crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes.

Cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the cake, then invert onto a rack. Peel off the parchment and reinvert the cake onto a platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Gotta say... it came out great.


Sicilian Almond Lemon Cake

Sicilian Almond Lemon Cake

I guess it's no longer much of a secret that we're putting the house on the market and moving west. It's been a fun run, but 19 years on the east coast is enough. Vancouver, Washington, here we come!

Vancouver is just across the Columbia River from Portland, where we have a lot of family. For uis, it's more affordable than Portland, and Washington has no state income tax - an important consideration when you're old and on a fixed income.

For both of us, this is the longest we have lived in one place - ever. 19 years. We even had the longest jobs we've ever had. As I said, it's been a good run, but time to move back.

Of course, uprooting after 19 years has its own set of issues and stress. First and foremost, of course, is making sure Nonna is taken care of. After another stroke in December, she had to go into long-term care. She's happy and complacent - and the home is just a few minutes away from us. Great facility, really good staff... We worked out the financials, powers of attorney, the care schedules, et al, and Victor's brother and sister will take over once we're on our way.

Then, of course, we have to sell here and buy there. Fortunately, we have the best Realtor around - Sharon Sharpe - who is making this as painless as possible. Our Realtor out west - Kenneth Johns - was recommended by a family friend and has been great in helping us narrow down our search and steering us in the right direction.

And then there's the added stress of actually having to keep the house really clean and organized for showings! Let's face it - we're much more Oscar than Felix, Blanche leaves wads of fur everywhere, and I really don't understand how cobwebs can reproduce within minutes of cleaning.

And then there's the whole foreign concept of having to keep the kitchen clean. I mean... really...

And getting rid of 19 years of clutter. While Victor is a purger, I'm more of a packrat. And it never fails... whenever I decide to start tossing stuff, I find out I needed something. The local GoodWill store has been our favorite destination - after calling JDog Junk Removal for stuff even I could get rid of... They were great guys and we'll be calling them, again, for the final clean-out after packing.

The stress, the stress.....

So... to try and ease the stress a bit, Victor headed into the kitchen to bake a cake he saw on Ciao Italia with Mary Ann Esposito. We have not baked a cake for 18 months - but it was definitely time.

Sicilian Almond Lemon Cake

Sicilian Almond Lemon Cake

adapted from Mary Ann Esposito Ciao Italia

Equipment: 9-inch spring form pan, buttered, lined with buttered parchment paper and set aside.

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 3 large lemons, washed and left whole (Meyer lemons preferred)
  • 2 3/4 cups finely ground blanched or sliced almonds (The easiest way to measure the almonds is by weight. You will need 3/4 of a pound or 300 grams.
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Confectioner’s sugar

Glaze:

  • 1 cup or more of confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fiore di Sicilia extract (mix 1/2 orange extract and 1/2 vanilla extract)
  • a few drops of milk

Directions

Cake:

Place lemons in a pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook just under the boil for about 45 minutes. Drain and when cool, trim the ends, cut them in half widthwise and remove the seeds. Chop the lemons and place in a food processor with 1/2 cup of the sugar and process until smooth. Transfer mixture to a fine mesh strainer set over and a bowl and strain the lemon mixture.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Divide blanched peeled almonds into three batches and whirl them in a food processor until they are powdered. Combine the batches and set them aside. (Or: buy fine almond flour at the supermarket!)

Beat the egg yolks and remaining 1 cup of sugar in a medium bowl until they are pale yellow and frothy looking, and then beat in the drained lemon mixture and the powdered almonds. Stir in the salt and baking powder.

In a separate bowl with clean beaters, whip the whites into soft peaks. Fold the beaten whites into the lemon mixture and pour the batter into the pan.

Bake the cake for about 45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out dry. Be careful not to let the cake brown too much; it should be golden brown.

Cool slightly then release sides of the spring pan, remove the sides, and let the cake cool. Dust it with confectioner’s sugar or make a confectioner’s glaze with:

Glaze:

Mix all glaze ingredients until the glaze consistency forms then drizzle over cooled cake.

 

Sicilian Almond Lemon Cake

Talk about an excellent way to break our cake fast! Moist and lemony, it was perfection on a plate.

We each had one slice and then wrapped it up tight. The following day we sliced it up for the Realtor Open House. I hope they loved the house as much as they loved the cake. There was nary a crumb left...

So...

2020 is bringing new adventures...

We're ready!


White Fruit Cake

S.G. Widdoes

  • 1 lb sugar (2 cups)
  • 1/2 lb butter
  • 1 lb flour (4 cups)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 lb seeded white raisins
  • 1 lb blanched almonds
  • 1/2 lb citron
  • 1/2 lb red cherries
  • 1 large coconut, grated
  • 1/2 lb crystalized pineapple
  • 1/2 lb crystallized orange peel
  • 1/2 lb crystallized lemon peel
  • 8 egg whites

Directions

  1. Cream butter. Add sugar gradually.
  2. Sift baking powder and salt with half of the flour. Add alternately with liquid.
  3. Add remaining flour to sliced or chopped fruits and nuts.
  4. Stir floured fruit into cake mix.
  5. Fold in beaten egg whites.
  6. Bake in loaf tins or round angel food pan lined with heavily oiled paper. (brown paper bag oiled and floured.)

Bake at 250°F for 2 1/2 hours.


Susan's Pineapple Cake

Susan Schaff

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can 1 lb 4oz crushed pineapple in own juice – don’t drain

Mix above ingredients. Bake in a greased/floured 13″ x 9″ pan at 325°F for 40 minutes.

Spread with butter while hot. Let cool

To Frost:

  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 tbsp butter

Cream until smooth – spread on cooled cake.

Refrigerate remains.


Orange Ricotta Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 stick(s) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) cake flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon(s) kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) (plus 2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoon(s) amaretto liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon(s) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon(s) orange zest, finely grated
  • 1 pound(s) strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoon(s) Prosecco
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
  • Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a deep, 9-inch round cake pan. In a bowl, whisk the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, beat the ricotta, 1 1/2 sticks of butter, and 1 1/2 cups of the sugar at medium-high speed until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time until just incorporated, then beat in the amaretto, vanilla, and orange zest. Beat in the dry ingredients in 3 batches just until incorporated.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs. Transfer to a rack to cool for 20 minutes; unmold and let cool completely.

In a bowl, toss the strawberries with the Prosecco and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and let stand at room temperature until juicy, about 30 minutes.

Dust the pound cake with confectioners' sugar. Cut into wedges and serve with the strawberries and whipped cream.


Guinness Chocolate Cake

Cake Ingredients

  • 250 g (1 c. and 2 tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 250 ml (1 c.) Guinness
  • 75 g Dutch process cocoa ( 3/4 c.), sifted
  • 275 g (2 + 1/4 c.) all purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 400 g (2 c.) sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 150 ml (2/3 c.) sour cream
  • 1 tbsp. good quality vanilla extract

Frosting Ingredients

  • 300 g (1 + 1/3 cup) cream cheese
  • 150 g (1+1/2 c.) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 150 ml (2/3 c.) cream, whipped

Instructions

Preheat oven to 180C/350F.

1. Add butter, cocoa and Guinness to a saucepan. Warm over a medium heat and stir until melted. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes to cool slightly.

2. Add flour, baking soda and sugar to a large mixing bowl and mix together well. Pour in the Guinness/cocoa/butter mixture, lightly combine, add the vanilla, eggs and sour cream and beat everything together until well combined. The batter should be thick and dark chocolate in color.

3. Pour into a greased and lined 10″ angel food pan (or another straight-sided tube pan) and cook in the oven for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean from the centre of the cake.*Note: This cake is very moist inside, so use your judgment regarding the skewer test. Do not leave in the oven until the cake has totally dried out — cook long enough so there is no uncooked cake on the skewer but there may be a few moist crumbs sticking to it after an hour of cooking. [Please note: Katie baked this in an 8.5" x 3.5" pan. If you make this in a regular angel food cake pan, you should start checking for doneness at least 15 minutes early.]

4. Leave to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from the cake tin and placing on a wire wrack to cool completely.

Frosting Instructions

1. Place the cream cheese into the bowl of a mixer and beat on a low-medium speed using a whisk attachment (I find a paddle attachment tends to over-beat the cheese). Whisk until the cheese is smooth and there are no big lumps remaining.

2. Gradually, using a large spoon, add in the sifted powdered sugar and beat gently to combine. After 2 to 3 minutes, stop the machine, scrape any excess frosting from the sides of the bowl and beat on medium speed until lump free.

3. Remove bowl from mixer and gently fold in the whipped cream, mixing to fully combine.

4. Place cooled cake on a cake stand and add the frosting, spreading out just to the edge without going over the side (never go over the sides of the cake) until the cake resembles a pint of the creamy black stuff! The idea is to capture the essence and simplicity of a pint of Guinness. Sláinte!


Pumpkin Upside-Down Cake with Cranberry Pecan Topping

  • 8 ounces (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups cranberries
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Whipped Cream

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper.

2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and whisk until smooth. Pour the brown sugar mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the cranberries and pecans. Place them in the pan over the brown sugar mixture.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin puree, and oil. In another bowl, sift together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Carefully spread the batter over the cranberry pecan topping.

5. Bake the cake until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Place a large plate or platter on top of the cake. Invert the cake and plate together, then remove the pan. Carefully peel off the parchment paper.

6. Let cool completely before serving. Serve with whipped Cream.


Pumpkin Cake Pops

Ingredients

Cake:

  • Unflavored nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup nonfat milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup pecan halves, for decorating

Frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 pounds finely chopped white chocolate (or two 11-ounce bags white chocolate chips)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the cake: Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice together in a large bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and sugars together. Stir in the milk and vanilla, and then add the oil. Whisk in the pumpkin puree and pour the liquid mixture over the dry mixture. Use a wooden spoon to stir the batter together, and then switch to a whisk and give the batter a good 3 or 4 beats before pouring it into the prepared baking dish. Use a rubber spatula to smooth out the batter and place it in the oven until the cake is golden and springs back to light pressure, 25 to 28 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.

Meanwhile, place the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast them until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a large plate to cool, then transfer to a cutting board and finely chop. Place the nuts in a medium bowl and set aside.

Divide the cake into quarters and crumble it into a large bowl. Once all of the cake is crumbled, drag 2 forks through the cake in opposite directions to crumble it into a very fine crumb (you can also use a food processor to pulse the cake into fine crumbs). Set aside.

For the frosting: Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper and set aside. Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until airy, about 3 minutes. Add the confectioners' sugar and beat until combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Stir the cream cheese frosting into the cake crumbs and, once the mixture looks like wet graham crackers crumbs, roll it into ping pong-size balls. Place the cake balls on the prepared baking sheet and freeze for 1 hour.

Place the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl and melt at 50-percent power, stirring every 30 seconds until the chocolate is completely melted, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes (or melt the chocolate over a double boiler, stirring often, until the chocolate is melted).

Remove the cake balls from the freezer and insert a lollypop stick or small appetizer-length skewer into the top of each one (stick it in far enough so it is more than halfway through but doesn't puncture the other side of the ball). Dip each ball into the white chocolate, using a spoon to help coat the underside. Tap the stick against the side of the bowl a few times and swirl the stick to encourage the excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl. Dip the top of the ball into the nuts, and then place the cake pop back on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet, nut-side down (so the stick points straight up). Repeat with the remaining cake balls. Let the cake pops stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. Serve that day or refrigerate for up to 3 days and then serve.