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Even desserts have their own day

October 10, 2018

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Chocolate whiskey cake is moist as well as delicious, and won’t last long if you bring it to a pot luck.

We like desserts any day of course, but Oct. 14 (this coming Sunday) is National Dessert Day. Sounds like as good a reason as any to explore some dessert recipes.


I used to say I wasn’t much of a cake fan, but during the last few years I have tasted some really good ones. My other go-to desserts would be fruit pies. Blackberry, apricot, lemon meringue, apple, you get the idea.


When I was about 8 years old, my grandfather (who had an apricot orchard) once offered $5 to anyone who would bake him an apricot pie. Most of the people who could bake were already busy processing the apricot harvest, so I offered to bake him a pie. My grandmother helped me, but even so, I managed to bake a crust that could have been used as a re-entry shield in the space program.


My grandfather did not complain and he refrained from asking for a hammer and chisel to go along with his fork. The pie filling turned out great, thank goodness, and I was presented with the five dollars, as promised.


I am sure my dear kitchen pals in Reader Land can outdo me in cake- and pie-making skills, but I hope you find a recipe here you deem worthy of trying out. Happy baking to you.

Pineapple upside-down cake


Easy recipe because it uses cake mix.

12 rings canned pineapple (from 3 8-oz. cans)


16 maraschino cherries


3 tablespoons butter, melted


1/2 cup packed brown sugar


1 box yellow cake mix


1 cup pineapple juice (reserved from canned pineapple)


1/2 cup vegetable oil


3 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350. Add melted butter to 12-inch cast iron or ovenproof skillet. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter. Arrange 8 pineapple slices in bottom of skillet. Cut remaining slices in half; arrange around inside edge of skillet. Place 1 cherry in center of each whole and half pineapple slice.


2. In large bowl, beat cake mix, pineapple juice, oil and eggs with electric mixer on low speed until moistened; beat 2 minutes on high speed. Pour into skillet over fruit.


3. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until cake is golden brown and springs back when touched lightly in center.


4. Cool cake in skillet 5 to 10 minutes. Run knife around edge of cake to loosen. Place heatproof plate upside down over skillet; turn plate and skillet over. Remove skillet. Serve cake warm.

Chocolate whiskey Bundt cake


If you don’t want to use caramel sauce, you can glaze the cake with your favorite chocolate icing.

For cake:


2 cups sugar


2 cups flour


3/4 cup dark or dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted


2 teaspoons baking soda


1 teaspoon baking powder


1 teaspoon kosher salt


1 cup whole buttermilk


2 large eggs


1/2 cup vegetable oil


2 teaspoons vanilla


3/4 cup warm water


1/4 cup decent quality Tennessee whiskey or bourbon


For caramel sauce:


1 cup sugar


Pinch cream of tartar


1/4 cup water


2/3 cup heavy cream


1 tablespoon unsalted butter


1 1/2 tablespoons whiskey or bourbon

1. Preheat oven to 350. Generously butter a standard (12-cup) Bundt pan. Dust with 1 tablespoon each flour and cocoa powder, and tap and turn until pan is completely coated. Dump out excess.


2. For cake: In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt, whisking until well mixed. Add eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla and mix with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until dry ingredients are almost blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add warm water and whiskey and mix until just combined and no dry ingredients remain (do not overmix). Pour into prepared pan.


3. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the deepest part of the pan comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack until cool enough to handle, then gently invert onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely.


4. For caramel sauce: Place sugar and cream of tartar in a medium, high-sided saucepan set over medium-high heat. Pour water around edges. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook for 2 minutes (the steam buildup will help dissolve any stray sugar crystals on the sides). Remove cover and continue to boil, without stirring, until sugar caramelizes to a light amber color, about 5 to 7 minutes. Watch it carefully, as it can go from golden brown to burnt in no time if left unattended.


5. Remove from heat and quickly whisk in cream and butter (mixture will bubble vigorously), then return to low heat and whisk until completely smooth. It may seem like it is seizing, but keep whisking and all the hard caramel chunks should dissolve. Remove from heat and let cool for about 2 minutes, then stir in whiskey. Transfer to a heat-proof container and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour, or until thickened yet still pourable.


6. Pour about half of the caramel over the top of cake, letting it drip down the edges and pool at the base. Slice and serve and drizzle with additional caramel as desired. Cake will keep, stored in an airtight container, for up to 5 days.

Dried apricot pie


If possible, use dried apricots known as slabs, as they are so much sweeter. These apricots are usually the ones that are so tree-ripe they do not lend themselves well to being cut by machine or even by hand. They can most often be found at roadside stands or farmers markets, sold by the growers.

18 ounces dried apricots


1 3/4 cups water


1 tablespoon cornstarch


1 tablespoon orange liqueur (adds a nice touch)


1 3/4 cups sugar


1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie

1. Preheat oven to 400. Slice (or cut with kitchen shears) the dried apricots in half. Rinse with water. Place them in a sauce pan with the water, bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.


2. Combine the cornstarch with the orange liqueur and about 1 tablespoon of the apricots’ cooking liquid. Mix until smooth, then stir into the cooked apricots. Add the sugar and combine. Pour mixture into the unbaked pie shell and seal with the top crust. Brush milk over top crust for color, if desired.


3. Bake in preheated oven for about 1 hour or until the crust is done and filling has bubbled.

Crockpot apple pie


8 tart apples peeled and sliced


1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon


1/4 teaspoon allspice


1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


3/4 cup milk


2 tablespoons butter, softened


3/4 cup sugar


2 eggs


1 teaspoon vanilla


1/2 cup Bisquick (or similar baking mix)


1 cup Bisquick


1/3 cup brown sugar


3 tablespoons cold butter

1. Toss apples in large bowl with cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Place in lightly greased crock pot.


2. Combine milk, softened butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and the 1/2 cup Bisquick. Spoon over apples.


3. Combine the 1 cup Bisquick and brown sugar. Cut the cold butter into mixture until crumbly. Sprinkle this mixture over top of apple mixture. Cover and cook on low 6 to 7 hours or until apples are soft. Can serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.

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