Blueberry Pound Cake With Cinnamon Sugar Crust

My new next door neighbor was trimming his palm tree and noticed that the seed pods had filled my gutter. He cleaned the gutter for me, so I’m making a pound cake for him and his wife.

As this recipe makes two loaves, it is a treat for me, too!

As I didn’t have any buttermilk on hand and didn’t feel like running to the grocery store, I basically curdled milk to get the same effect. I had that cup of cream left over from the vanilla ice cream I made, so I just added to it the zest and a tablespoon of juice from a lemon and let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes. The other benefit of doing this substitution is it adds a light lemon flavor to the cake and that goes really well with blueberries.

I have a ton of frozen blueberries and they are just as good as fresh in this dish. Don’t thaw them as the juice will stain the batter too much. They’ll thaw in the cake while it cooks.

Whether you use fresh or frozen blueberries, you will want to toss them with flour (steal 2 teaspoons before you sift the flour so you don’t have too much extra flour in the final dish). This will keep them from sinking to the bottom of the batter so they’ll stay distributed throughout the cake.

Just as lemon goes well with blueberries, so does cinnamon. Instead of flouring the pans, I’m dusting them lightly with cinnamon sugar and adding a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar to the top as well.

Blueberry Pound Cake with Cinnamon Sugar Crust

1 ½ cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
3 cups all purpose flour, divided
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk (or my substitute, see above)
3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter two loaf pans and, instead of flouring them, add a tablespoon of cinnamon sugar per pan to dust the interior with sugar. Focus on the sides. It will make for a sweet crust that enhances the flavor of the blueberries.

Take 2 teaspoons of flour and toss with the blueberries. Set aside.

Sift together the remaining flour, baking power, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.

In another bowl and with clean beaters, beat egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold into batter. Gently stir in flour coated blueberries.

Pour batter evenly into prepared pans. Lightly dust top of batter with remaining cinnamon sugar. Bake for 60 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

One of the best things about poundcake is that it can be frozen for up to 3 months. After it is completely cooled, double-wrap it securely with aluminum foil place it in heavy-duty freezer bag. Thaw overnight on the countertop before serving.

Easy Vanilla Ice Cream

I’ve been craving ice cream to go with the jar of Hot Fudge Sauce I found hidden in the very back of the fridge. I decided instead of buying ready-made, I’d make my own.

Since I’m going to take advantage of the KitchenAid Mixer ice cream maker attachment, this recipe is for a quart. That maker can make up to two quarts at a time but I don’t need that sort of temptation in my life.

I’d cut the recipe in half when using my smaller Donvier ice cream maker. If you don’t want to use half a vanilla bean, get some vanilla paste for the pretty seeds and flavor instead. It is my usual substitute when recipes call for whole vanilla pods.

After churning, be sure and freeze the ice cream to make it nice and scoopable. Of course, if you like soft serve, go ahead and eat some right away.

My house is a little warm, so my sundae began melting immediately. No problem as I just drank the creamy liquid down after I ate the ice cream.

Rich ice cream with a lovely perfume and flavor of vanilla. I don’t know about you, but I don’t find vanilla boring at all!

Easy Vanilla Ice Cream

3 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out with the tip of a sharp knife
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt, more to taste

In a saucepan combine cream, milk and vanilla bean and seeds and vanilla extract. Bring mixture to a simmer. Add sugar and salt and mix until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Taste and add more sugar and salt as needed to balance the flavors. The mixture should taste slightly too sweet when warm; the sweetness will be muted when the ice cream is frozen.

Strain mixture into a container. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.

Churn mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and let freeze until hard.

 

 

Vanilla Half Pound Cake

I’ve been craving vanilla. Maybe it is because of the quarantining that I haven’t been anywhere to wear perfume – my favorite scent is Vanille from Bourbon French Parfums in the French Quarter. So delicious and perfect for a cooking butch like me.

As it is in the time of Coronavirus, I’m not making the full pound cake (with a pound of butter, etc) because it will mainly be me eating it.

This cake doesn’t have leavenings so you need to make sure you beat lots of air into the sugar and butter and when adding the eggs to give it all the lift it gets.

If you don’t have vanilla bean paste, use 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract. The paste gives you intense vanilla flavor plus the flecks of vanilla beans. I use it for cocktails, ice cream and cakes like this where vanilla flavor is the star of the show.

Beautiful cake and it tastes amazing.

Vanilla Half Pound Cake

2 cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter and flour a loaf pan.

Sift together the flour and salt. Set aside.

Beat butter and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy – at least 5 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time and beat well. Mix in the milk and vanillas. Slowly add the flour and salt mixture and beat until just combined. Don’t over mix at the end or the cake will end up dense.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve with fresh berries or toast slices lightly for a wonderful accompaniment to your morning’s tea/coffee.

Meyer Lemon Pie

I’ve had a craving for lemons lately. I made a big pitcher of lemonade the other day but that just wasn’t enough. My dad was eating a slice of key lime pie from the icebox and the light bulb went off – lemon pie!

I really like the sweeter, mellow lemon flavor of Meyer lemons, so I was happy to see them in the grocery store.

I used the America’s Test Kitchen crust. The saltine crackers are a good alternative to a graham cracker crust.

The result is light and not too sweet, not too tart – Goldilocks would love this pie!

While you can top with the whipped egg whites or whipped cream, I usually don’t bother. I don’t want anything to distract from the lemons.

Meyer Lemon Pie

53 saltine crackers, about a sleeve and half
1/8 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup light corn syrup
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
¼ cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a food processor, crush saltines and salt. This takes about 15 pulses. Add in butter and corn syrup. Pulse until it looks like coarse sand, about 15 pulses.

Press into a 9 inch pie plate. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden.

In a bowl, use a whisk to mix sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, milk and zest. Whisk in salt and lemon juice. Pour into still warm pie crust and return to oven for 15-18 minutes. It should only have a slight jiggle.

Cool on the counter for 15 minutes before transferring the refrigerator overnight (at least 4 hours). The pie needs to be completely chilled before slicing.

 

Darkly Chocolate Sheet Cake with Fudge Frosting

I had the end of a bag of powdered sugar and a little less than a cup of buttermilk. All I could think of to use them both was frosting but what to frost? I didn’t want to fuss with cake pans or layers so I went with a super easy chocolate sheet pan recipe.

The coffee makes it seem even more chocolately. By adding a full cup, the cake is super moist and tender.

The creme de cacao reduces the sweetness of the frosting. Be sure and add it after you’ve pulled the frosting from the heat as you don’t want to burn it all off.

An easy and delicious cake recipe. I definitely recommend it!

Darkly Chocolate Sheet Cake

2 sticks unsalted butter
½ cup Dutch process or natural unsweetened cocoa
1 cup hot coffee
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9″ x 13″ pan.

Melt the butter in a double boiler. Stir in the cocoa and hot coffee.

Sift together the flour, soda, and salt. Place in the bowl of stand mixer with the sugar.

Pour the cocoa butter mixture over the dry ingredients. Mix on low until combined. Beat in the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 30 minutes, or until it tests done with a toothpick. When done, the cake will begin to pull away from the edge of the pan. Remove the cake from the oven and cool it on a rack.

I use a tall sided pan for baking the cake so that when I pour over the warm frosting, it doesn’t make a mess.

Fudge Frosting

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup Dutch process or natural unsweetened cocoa
6 tablespoons buttermilk, at room temperature
3 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon creme de cacoa

Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir in the cocoa and buttermilk.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove it from the heat and mix in the confectioners’ sugar and creme de cacoa, beating until smooth.

Pour the frosting over the cake while the frosting is still warm. Serve the cake right from the pan.

Chocolate Chip Snickers Cookies

I was really craving chocolate and was happily munching on a Fun-sized Snickers when my hind brain went, “Wait just a minute! Why don’t you put one of those in a chocolate chip cookie?”

I love my brain.

I cut each fun size I could rescue from the maw of my parents into 6 pieces. I ended up with a cup of Snickers pieces.

Definitely refrigerate the dough, as it will spread a bit more when it isn’t cold, making for thinner, less chewy cookies.

The cookies are really good – the caramel and nuts was a lovely addition.

Chocolate Chip Snickers Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup bittersweet chocolate morsels
1 cup fun-sized Snickers, each candy cut into 6 pieces

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. Set aside.

Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and Snickers.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 1 hour. It can be stored for up to 3 days before use.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Drop rounded tablespoon of cookie dough onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 1 minute; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

 

Grilled and Filled Pears

I fired up the grill to do steaks for my Dad for Father’s Day and decided that we’d go pear shaped for dessert. I like baked pears (and apples) and figured wood smoke would be a delicious addition.

Not really knowing too much about pears, I just picked up some firm ones from the grocery. You need them to keep their shape, so don’t choose soft ones.

I filled the pears with a sweetened and flavored cream cheese, that I rolled into balls and then rolled the balls in chopped pecans.

Once the steaks were grilled and were resting, I put the pears on to get grill marks. I then closed off the vents and let the pears roast in a pan above the dying fire while we ate. Once we finished and the plates cleared, I pressed in the nut ball and served the grilled and filled pears.

Very simple and quite tasty!

Grilled and Filled Pears

3 pears
2 tablespoons lemon juice mixed with 2 tablespoons water
4 ounces of cream cheese, softened
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup pecans, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter

Cut pears in half and core. Rub the exposed surface with diluted lemon juice to keep from browning.

Combine cream cheese, brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll into balls the size of the cored cavities and then roll the ball in chopped pecans. Place into the fridge.

Place pear halves cut side down on the grill grates and roast for 5 minutes. Drop the butter into the aluminum pan and let melt. Use tongs to remove the halves to the pan and rub the cut sides in the butter. Leave the pears butter side down and place the pan on the grill away from the coals and continue to roast until tender, about 15 minutes more or until pears have softened and yield gently when squeezed.

When the pears are done, remove the nut balls from the fridge. Flip over the pears and press a nut ball into the cored cavity of each pear half. You can leave the pears on the fire to stay warm or remove pan from the grill and serve.

Reimagining Joy (With Pecans)

I’m not above scarfing down many of the candy bars that populate the displays near cash registers. Including Almond Joy. However, I’m a southern girl who prefers pecans over every other nut and so, when I made these at home, I used toasted pecans instead.

I looked up several recipes on the internet but went with the one my friend, Conan, sent to me. This one didn’t enrobed them in chocolate – just put everything together and let the morsels work their magic with the pecans, coconut and sweetened condenses milk.

A quick and easy recipe that is very addicting.

Pecan Joy

14 ounces shredded, sweetened coconut
14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
2 cups bittersweet chocolate morsels
1 cup toasted and salted pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix the coconut, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips and pecans. Stir until combined.

Using a small ice cream scoop, press together portions of the mix onto the parchment covered baking sheets. Use damp fingers to push everything together into a tidy round.

Bake for 17-20 minutes, rotating the baking sheets midway through baking. The pecan joys will be done when the edges and bottom turn golden brown.

Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.

Small Batch Banana Pudding

Only have a couple of over ripe bananas but really want banana pudding? Here is a recipe that works with only a couple of bananas and serves 4.

I like to wait until the bananas are getting rather brown and then mash them with a fork to mix in with the pudding. It makes for better banana taste throughout the dish, too.

Very tasty!

Small Batch Banana Pudding

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
dash of salt
2 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 overripe bananas, mashed with a fork
about 20 Nilla Wafers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine ¼ cup sugar, flour and salt in top of double boiler. Stir in 2 egg yolks and milk. Whisk to combine. Cook, uncovered, over boiling water, stirring constantly until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Beat egg whites on high speed until they begin to thicken. Add the 2 tablespoons sugar and continue to beat until soft peaks form.

Remove pudding from heat; add vanilla and mashed banana. Stir well.

Crumble up 10 Nilla Wafers and scatter in the bottom of 4 medium ramekins. Place 4 whole Nilla Wafers along the outside.

Spoon banana pudding evenly between the four ramekins. Place meringue on top, spreading to the edge to cover the pudding. Crumble four more wafers and sprinkle over the top of the meringue.

Place ramekins on a baking tray and bake in an oven for 10 minutes. Let cool before putting in the refrigerator to chill completely before serving.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

My favorite cake is Red Velvet with chocolate cream cheese frosting. Not only is it a beautiful color (also my favorite), it is so soft – one might even say velvety. It is not the deepest chocolate (that would be this cake) but, with the cocoa in the frosting, it is just enough.

I am making my own birthday cupcakes (or, as my friend Charlotte calls them, fucupcakes) this year as I’m isolating with my folks and to say they aren’t bakers would be putting it mildly.

For the last couple of trips to the grocery I saw very low supplies of all purpose flour. I was able to grab a box of cake flour and it gave a very nice and fine texture to the final product.

I only use a 1 ounce bottle of red food coloring because I use Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa and it already has a brick redish color. You can use more food coloring if you want a more vibrant red but, as you can see from the two cupcakes I haven’t fully frosted, they’ve got plenty of color.

So yummy! Such a happy birthday to me!

Cake:

2 cups sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 to 2 ounces red food coloring
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vinegar

Frosting:

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
2 sticks butter, softened
3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup cocoa
1 teaspoon Creme de Cacao liquor or vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter, beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Mix cocoa and food coloring together and then add to sugar mixture; mix well. Sift together flour and salt. Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Blend in vanilla. In a small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar and add to mixture.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin tins lined with cupcake cups about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

Frosting: Sift together the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.