Monday, October 25, 2010

Pineapple Mango Upside Down Cake

Oh this is so good.  I haven't had a pineapple upside down cake in years.  I just got my Martha Stewart Baking Handbook the other day, and this is one of the first recipes that really caught my eye.  I loooove pineapple, and this recipe incorporates mango which added a nice tart contrast to the super sweet pineapple and brown sugar syrup.
The recipe is fairly easy to make, just a bit time consuming.  Mine didn't look nearly as lovely as Martha's but that's to be expected, Martha is perfect after all! (hah).  I don't have the right round cookie cutters she uses to make her mango slices fit perfectly into the pineapple rings, I just cut it out so it looked kind of sloppy, but when something tastes this good who cares right?  I served it up with some vanilla ice cream, and it was a delightfully tropical dessert on this miserable rainy day.

If you are tempted to skip the parchment paper, don't.  I never used to bake with parchment paper but it makes getting your cakes out of the pan an absolute dream.  No worries about bits of cake getting stuck, I highly recommend it.

Makes one 8-inch cake
  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 medium ripe pineapple (about 3 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 medium ripe mango (about 3/4 pound), peeled
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sour cream


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-by-8-inch cake pan, line it with parchment paper, and butter parchment. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut out rounds from centers of four of the pineapple slices. Using a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter, cut out the centers of each of the four rounds, and discard; set rings aside. Finely chop enough of the remaining pineapple to yield 1 cup (reserve remainder for another use). Place chopped fruit in a fine sieve set over a bowl to drain.
  2. Cut the mango lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Using the 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter, cut out four rounds from mango slices; set aside. Finely chop enough of the remaining mango to yield 1/2 cup; add to the pineapple in the sieve.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 2 tablespoons butter with the brown sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a small offset spatula, evenly spread butter mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan; set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder; set aside. Place a reserved pineapple ring in each corner of the prepared pan. Place a reserved mango round in the center of each ring.
  5. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat remaining stick of butter with granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on lowest speed, add flour mixture in two parts, alternating with sour cream and beginning and ending with flour.
  6. Transfer the chopped pineapple-mango mixture to cake pan; discard juice. Using a small offset spatula, carefully spread fruit in an even layer on top of cut-out fruit, making sure to fill all the empty spaces, including any gaps in the corners. Using the offset spatula, spread batter evenly over fruit.
  7. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until cake is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool 30 minutes. Invert onto a cake plate; peel off the parchment paper. Serve cake slightly warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Oh yum.  The icing alone makes these bars totally worth it.  I ordered The Complete Magnolia Bakery cookbook a few weeks ago and have been anxious to try one of their many delicious sounding recipes.  Most of the recipes look super easy and seem like something your mom would make, total comfort food.  Mike and I hit up Magnolia Bakery in NYC several times when we were there, and I fell in love with their cupcakes, so I had to add their cookbook to my collection, well one of them at least (I think they have three). 

So the pumpkin bars.  We were expecting something a little more bar-like, a little more dense.  The bars are in the same chapter as brownies so I didn't expect them to be so cake-like.  Not that there's anything at all wrong with that, but you should know what to expect.  Actually my one complaint about the cookbook is lack of pictures.  I love being able to see what the finished product should look like.  You could easily use whole wheat flour in this recipe, and some plump juicy raisins would work nicely as well.  I enjoyed that the cake wasn't that sweet, it was a nice balance with the super sweet and decadent icing.

These bars are so easy to make, they took almost no time at all.  I think they would totally work as cupcakes and might go that route next time.  As I type this we've eaten them all and I can't wait to make another batch.  And the icing, oh the icing.  Have I mentioned I love icing?  This was probably one of the best cream cheese icings I have ever had.  I must admit that we didn't wait the two hours you're supposed to chill it though, I think we made it about 45 minutes until I couldn't handle the temptation and just iced the bars anyways.  Twas divine.


For the bars:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil (preferably Canola)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans (see note)
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened and cut into small pieces
3 Tbs unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
3/4 tsps vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans (see Note)

NOTE: To toast the pecans, place on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant.

Preheat the oven to 350º. Grease and lightly flour a 13 X 9 inch baking pan.
To make the bars: in a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together the pumpkin, sugar, oil and eggs until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Stir in the pecans. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the pan comes out clean.Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Make icing:
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat well. Gradually add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating continuously until smooth and creamy. Cover and refrigerate icing 2 to 3 hours, but no longer, to thicken before using.
Ice the top of the cooled cake with the cream cheese icing. Garnish with pecans and desired.

Linked to Seasonal Sunday

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Apple Syrup Upside-Down Pie

I haven't made a pie before, so I thought I might start with this easy recipe from Nigella's How To Be a Domestic Goddess.  I love this cookbook.  Some of the recipes are super easy, and some take a bit of skill, so there is something in it for everyone.  I followed this recipe exactly, and it turned out quite lovely.  It was really fast to make and looked beautiful, would be perfect for unexpected company.

My only complaint was there was a bit too much dough for my liking, I think next time I'll flatten it out more so there is more of a crust around the edges rather than all thick in the middle.  Mike really enjoyed it though.  It is definitely best right out of the oven, and I served it with some whipped cream.  We tried the leftovers the next day, and it was indeed "stodgy" as Nigella puts it.  I would only make this if there was at least four people there to eat it.  Liam was only interested in the whipped cream so it was a lot of pie for both Mike and I.

Nigella's Apple Syrup Upside Down Pie

for the fruit:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 Granny smith or other eating apples, peeled, quartered, and cored
4 ounces walnut (or pecan) halves
8 tablespoons light corn (or maple) syrup, plus extra for serving (I used maple syrup)
8 inch shallow pie plate, buttered

for the scone dough:
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
scant 1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt
1 scant teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg, beaten
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk

 Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, putitng in a baking sheet.  

Melt butter in a pan, gently fry the apples, curved side down, for about 10 minutes.  Put the walnut halves in a pie dish flat side up.  Pour over syrup, and then arrange fried apples curved side down. 

Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl.  Cut butter into cubes and rub into flour mixture until it resembles coarse bread crumbs.  Make a well in the center, pour in milk and egg all at once.  And mix to a soft dough.  Using your hands press dough into a cricle roughly the size of the pie dish and then place it over the fruit, taking care to seal the edges well against the edges of the dish.  Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for another 10 minutes, by which time the top should be crusty and golden.  

Let sit out for a minute or so, and then place large plate with outer rim or lip over the top of the pie.  With once swift action turn it out onto the plate.  Best to do this over the sink since the syrup will be hot and runny.  Spoon about 2 tablespoons of syrup over the pie.  Serve with pitcher of warm syrup and well as light cream.  This sort of pastry becomes stodgy on cooling so time it to be ready no more than 10 minutes before you'll be wanting to eat it.  

Serves 6-8.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Banana Tarte Tatin

Well, this was a bit of a mess.  I bought puff pastry a few weeks back for some BBQ recipe that I'll never make, so Mike suggested a dessert instead.  And who am I to turn down a request for dessert.  I had just been looking through the dessert chapter in Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution cookbook and saw a yummy looking recipe for Banana Tarte Tatin which looks ridiculously easy.  So where did I go wrong?

Have I mentioned that I like to play fast and loose with measurements?  Well I also do with ingredients.  I'm still working on getting my well-stocked pantry together, and I simply don't have any "superfine" sugar.  Okay, I didn't even know what it was until this recipe went awry and I looked it up.  Anyways, I also used organic sugar which is (at least from Trader Joe's) very coarse.  So I melted my butter and added the sugar.  There was nothing to really cook since it was a thick paste.  Not much caramelizing going on here.  So I added more butter.  A lot more.  Another 1/4 cups worth more.  Now we've got something to cook, so I cooked it.  And cooked it.  And cooked it.  And the sugar just didn't want to dissolve.

Okay.  Mike suggested just to go ahead with the recipe since plenty of time in the oven would certainly result in dissolved sugar.  It also took considerably longer, um, almost an hour for the puff pastry to bake through.  It came out nicely (I left the turning out bit up to Mike), but it wasn't the somewhat healthy confection I had hoped for.  I added some whipped cream (probably totally unnecessary by this point), and hoo boy was it sweet.  My teeth hurt just thinking about it.   Liam loved it, and then was bouncing off the walls for the next hour.  Perhaps not wise to serve 15 minutes before bedtime.  It was fairly tasty, but not enough so considering how many calories it was, what with the extra butter I added. 

I'm going to try this recipe again (I have another sheet of puff pastry in the freezer), but with pears and will use different sugar, at the very least just regular granulated sugar, as well as cutting the sugar and butter a bit rather than adding more.  Ah well, they can't all be winners.

Jamie Oliver's Banana Tarte Tatin

1/4 cup unsalted butter

 3/4 cup superfine sugar
4 large bananas
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 orange
plain flour, for dusting
1 sheet puff pastry
optional: crème fraîche
optional: vanilla ice cream and a few tablespoons of desiccated coconut

To make your caramel bananas
• Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4
• Cut your butter into cubes and put into a sturdy deep-sided baking tray approximately 19 x 30cm
• Place the tray on a low heat, let the butter melt, then add the sugar and stir constantly until completely combined
• Continue to cook for about 5 minutes or until the sugar has all dissolved and the mixture is golden and caramelized. By the time this happens the mixture will be roasting hot so be very careful and whatever you do, DON’T be tempted to put your fingers in the mixture as you’ll give yourself a nasty burn
• Meanwhile, peel the bananas, halve them lengthways, and lay them carefully on top of the golden caramel
• Remove from the heat, then sprinkle over the cinnamon and finely grate over the zest of half your orange

To make your pastry topping
• Dust a clean work surface and rolling pin with flour
• Rather than putting your pastry down flat and rolling it out, place it on its side (see the picture opposite) and roll it from there, as this will give you a lighter, crisper texture
• Roll it out until you have a rectangle shape about the same size as your tray and about
0.5cm thick
• Drape your pastry over your rolling pin and carefully lay it on the baking tray, gently tucking it around the bananas to make sure they’re well covered, with no gaps
• Using a knife or fork, prick the pastry a few times
• Place the tray at the top of the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden

To serve your tarte tatin
• When your tarte tatin is ready you must turn it out at once or it will end up sticking to the baking tray. Again, you want to be very careful and make sure you don’t burn yourself on that hot caramel mixture
• To turn the tarte out, cover your hand with a folded tea towel, carefully hold the tray with a serving plate or board on top and gently turn it over
• Using the tip of a knife, pull a corner of the pastry up to check if it’s all cooked underneath (if not, pop it back into the oven for another couple of minutes), then ease the whole thing out of the tray
• If using crème fraîche, put it into a bowl, grate over the rest of your orange zest and stir well
• If using vanilla ice cream, sprinkle a few tablespoons of desiccated coconut on a plate and quickly roll a scoop of ice cream in it until coated
• Serve your tarte tatin with a dollop of crème fraîche or coated ice cream and eat immediately!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Citrus Cookies

I keep saying I'm not crispy cookie fan, but here I am making them again.  Mike bought me Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution cookbook for Christmas last year, and it is easily one of my favourite cookbooks.  The meals are simple, fast, and nothing is too precise which I love since nothing about my cooking is precise.

During the summer I tried out Jamie's basic refrigerator cookie recipe with a good quality dark chocolate bar.  Like I said, they're crispier than I would normally enjoy, but these are simple and delicious, and perfect with a nice cup of coffee.

This week I decided to try the citrus variation, and they are simply delightful!  Very easy to make, and perfect for a little sweet treat in the afternoon (or morning, or evening, or anytime really).  I do prefer the chocolate variation, but these were very tasty and I will definitely make them again.  I don't know that I've ever baked anything with orange zest in it, but I quite liked it.

The only thing I changed in the recipe was to use white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose.  Oh, and I used regular sugar instead of superfine which worked fine in these cookies.  

Jamie Oliver's Cookies

Servings: Makes about 15 cookies
Basic Cookie Dough:
  • 9 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 large egg , preferably free-range or organic
  • Scant 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup quick cook oatmeal (not instant)
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
Citrus Cookies:
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
Double Chocolate Cookies:
  • 2 ounces white chocolate or 1/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate or 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
To make basic cookie dough: Take your butter out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before you start so it has time to soften a bit first. If you've got a food processor, simply put your soft butter into it with the rest of the basic ingredients and whiz until smooth. Or you can put it into a mixing bowl with the sugar and mix with a wooden spoon until you get a thick, creamy consistency. Crack your egg into another bowl and beat it with a fork, then add it to the butter and sugar and mix well. Sift your flour into the bowl to remove any lumps, add the oats, baking powder and salt and mix until lovely and smooth.

To flavor cookie dough: Either finely grate your orange and lemon zest or roughly chop your chocolate. Stir the zest or chocolate into the cookie dough and mix together well. Spoon on to a piece of plastic wrap and roll into a sausage shape with a roughly 2 1/2-inch diameter. Pop the dough into the freezer for 30 minutes.

To bake cookies: Preheat the oven to 375°. Get your chilled dough out of the freezer and cut it into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place these on two nonstick cookie sheets, making sure you leave a good bit of space between the slices because they'll spread while cooking. If you can't fit all your slices on the cookie sheets, just cook one batch after another. Place the cookie sheets in the middle of your preheated oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are golden brown. Let them cool down slightly before transferring to a wire rack to let cool completely and crisp up. Delicious with a glass of cold milk.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Highbrow Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am not a boxed cookie girl.  Okay, except for Girl Guide cookies, but I can't get those here.  Boxed cookies for the most part suck.  They're dry, too sweet, and have way too many ingredients for something that should be so simple.

That being said, Trader Joe's is always the exception.  For some reason I bought their Highbrow Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I'm usually not particularly into crispy cookies, but these looked and sounded delightful.  And they were.  Crunchy, buttery, rich, and the chocolate chips were clearly not of the Hershey's variety (in case you didn't know I loathe Hershey's).  They were positively delightful.

So tonight when I decided to try out a new chocolate chip cookie recipe I thought I might like to try and replicate the TJ's Highbrow.  What I found (via was Martha Stewart's Chocolate Chunk Cookies.  They are everything the TJ's highbrow cookie is and then some.  Crispy around the edges, and chewy on the inside.  Perfection.  I literally swooned when I bit into one of these lovely cookies, and Mike agreed, commenting "they make TJs highbrows taste like dirt".  Okay, I wouldn't go that far but these are some damn good cookies.

I followed the recipe pretty much exactly, but instead of semisweet chocolate chunks I used Guittard milk chocolate chips.  If you're making chocolate chip cookies, don't cheap out and use crappy chips, a couple extra dollars spent of good quality chips will make your cookies extraordinary.  I actually think a good quality dark chocolate bar cut up into chunks would be better in this recipe, but Mike isn't a huge dark chocolate fan so milk it is (this time).  I also skipped the whole parchment bit.  I have yet to bake with parchment, and since this recipe was chosen on a whim I didnt' have any around.  I just lightly greased my baking sheet, left them on for a few minutes to harden before transferring to a wire rack and all as well.  

Martha Stewart's Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Makes About 3 Dozen
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 large whole egg, plus 1 large egg white
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chunks (about 2 cups)
Preheat the oven to 375F, with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Add the vanilla, whole egg, and egg white. Beat on low speed until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, about 1 minute. Add flour mixture in two batches; mix until just combined. Mix in chocolate.
Shape 2 heaping tablespoons of dough at a time into balls and place about 1 1/2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are golden brown, about 18 minutes. Transfer parchment and cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...