Cranberry Almond Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

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Years ago, my sister sent me a recipe for bread pudding which I believe she found in the Austin Statesman. I added cranberries and our family raved about it. I do not think I ever made bread pudding before that, but have certainly made up for it since. This has become a keeper, a favorite, a lovely holiday tradition for the Parker kitchen. I have mentioned it before on Kitchen Keepers, but it deserves a stand alone post. I served it this week at our family Christmas dinner.  it is also a favorite guilty pleasure served for next morning’s breakfast or brunch if there are any leftovers!

Cranberry Almond Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

1 pound French bread loaf, plain

1 quart half and half

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)

1½cups granulated sugar

3 eggs

2 tablespoons almond extract

¾  cup sliced almonds

3/4 cup dried cranberries

Tear french bread loaf into bite-sized pieces, place in a medium size bowl Pour quart of half and half over bread and soak for one hour, stirring occasionally.  Preheat oven to 325 and butter a 9X13 inch baking dish.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together 1/2 stick of melted butter, 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and 3 eggs. Then stir in 2 tablespoons almond extract,  3/4 cups sliced almonds, and 3/4 cup dried cranberries. Pour soaked bread pieces into buttered baking dish and add almond/ cranberry mixture over the top.  Bake for 45 minutes or until it is turning golden brown on top. While it is cooking, make Amaretto Sauce:

Amaretto Sauce

½ cup butter

1 cup powdered sugar

1 egg

¼ cup Amaretto

Cook 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup powdered sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until hot. Allow the sugar mixture to cool to room temperature.

Whisk in 1 egg and 1/4 cup Amaretto.  After the bread pudding is cooked, slice it lengthwise and crosswise in the baking dish. Spoon sauce mixture over the top. Then, put the pudding back into the oven under the broiler until the sauce bubbles. WATCH CAREFULLY! It is really easy to burn the top of the pudding at the end. It is important to bring the sauce to a bubble, to cook the egg in the topping.

It is important to bring the sauce to a bubble, to cook the egg in the topping.   For individual servings, cut pudding into squares, place one at a time on oven proof dessert dish, spoon sauce over top and broil briefly as with whole pudding.

Apple Spice Cake with Praline Frosting

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Many of the flavors of Autumn I love most are combined in this apple cake. The cake looks like the cover of my recent Southern Living magazine, but the recipe omits the layer of cream cheese batter that cake features.  The kitchen smells like a cup of chai tea, and we can hardly wait to slice and taste!  Great for dessert, as a treat with coffee, or toasted for breakfast!

Apple Spice Cake
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
3 cups flour
3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and grated
Praline Frosting
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup salted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (about 5 oz.) powdered sugar, sifted

1. Bring brown sugar, cream, and butter to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over medium, stirring constantly; boil,stirring constantly, 1 minute.

2. Remove pan from heat; stir in vanilla. Gradually whisk in powdered sugar until smooth. Gently stir until mixture begins to cool and thicken, 4 to 5 minutes. Use immediately, sprinkling top with toasted pecans if desired.

Sweet Cherry Cake

Strangely, a week after I published this post, I find that it has disappeared!  All except the title have vanished. Since we are in the middle of moving with little time for sleuthing, I need to delay my search for the photo and recipe content of the post.  In the meantime, I will do this week’s post.  This never happened to me before.  Any comments appreciated!

Dessert Meringue with Raspberries and Ice Cream

 

When we lived in San Antonio early in our marriage,Joe introduced me to one of his commanding officers when he served in the U.S. Army at Fort Baker, California in the 60’s.By the time I met them, Major Kneesy and his wife lived in officer’s housing on base at Fort Sam Houston.  We visited with them in the living room of their home, and Mrs. Kneesy served us coffee and dessert.  The dessert was a small meringue shell filled with ice cream topped with a drizzle of chocolate. It was the most elegant dessert I had ever eaten, and I fell in love with meringues.  She told me she kept some in the freezer so she would have them to offer on occasions such as our visit. A young bride and fledging cook, I was of course, duly impressed. I have since made them many times myself.

Later, when we lived in Indonesia, I was introduced to Pavlovas, large meringues topped with whipped cream and mixed tropical fruits and my admiration of meringues increased. The ingredient list is very simple, preparation requires an electric mixer and patience, but this remains one of my very favorite things to serve guests in my home for dessert.  The variety of toppings makes it very versatile.

Recently I learned that this is a Downton Abbey dessert. In one episode, Mrs. Patmore the cook makes Raspberry Meringues for the Crowley’s and their guests. However, her eyesight is failing and when reaching for sugar, she measures salt, resulting in inedible meringues!

Dessert Meringue with Raspberries and Ice Cream

5 egg whites

1 1/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla.

Prepare 2 large baking sheets by lining with Silpat or parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Let egg whites sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes.  Place in bowl of electric mixer, and begin beating slowly.  When egg whites begin to froth, add cream of tartar. Increase mixer speed to medium and continue to beat until egg whites will hold a hard peak.  Begin to add sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time and beat at medium-high speed after each addition until all sugar has been added.  Turn mixer speed on high and beat for 5 to 6 minutes until egg whites are glossy and hold sharp peaks.  Remove and fold in salt and vanilla.

Meringues will spread, so do not crowd on baking sheets, adding 6 to each sheet.  With a large spoon, add dollops of meringue and spread slightly to 3-inch circles.  Make an indention in the middle of each by pressing with the back of the spoon. Place baking sheets into preheated oven and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Reduce heat by 25 degrees if they begin to brown. Turn oven off, leaving meringues in oven with door shut for at least 2 hours.  Place in air tight containers and when ready to serve, fill with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and top with raspberries or other berries of your choice.

Note:  If using whipped cream, a nice variation is the addition of  a splash of orange liqueur.

 

 

 

 

Funnel Cakes

I am sure most of you have seen these because they are so popular at booths in county and state fairs. This is one recipe I really not regret having a photo as well as a video to share with you!  The process is fun, the results dramatic, and very quickly disappear at our house.

Funnel Cakes

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4  teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon soda

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

your preference salad oil for frying

powdered sugar to use as topping

Mix dry ingredients in bowl, combine egg and milk, add to dry ingredients, and beat until smooth.. In a deep cast iron skillet,,heat 1 inch of oil.  Pour 1/4 cup batter into a funnel using your finger to cover the opening. .

Hold the funnel filled with batther over the heated oil, being careful not to spatter hot oil , remove your finger and slowly release the batter beginning in the center of the skillet and moving outward in a spiral. Brown 2 minutes, until golden crisp and puffy.  It will not be perfect, but the uneven spiral with its crispy goodness is perfectly delicious!  Repeat the process until all your batter has been used. You will have 5 or 6 funnel cakes, depending on size.  Drain well on paper towels, slide onto serving dish with wide spatula, and sift or sprinkle powdered sugar over top. Serve while hot.

YouTube videos of this are available for watching if you wish before you try this on your own.

Indoor S’Mores

IMG_1333Jordann is enjoying one of their campfire S’Mores, which are without doubt the best kind.  But some of us don’t do much camping, and even if you have a wood-burning fireplace, you might decide there are times when these gooey, chocolate treats can’t be made over a fire. That is when you can try Indoor S’Mores, iron skillet style.  This makes generous servings for 2. Just double the recipe if your family is larger.  If you double, be sure to use a larger skillet. You may even like this “fondue” so well you try making it this way over your next campfire!

1 small bag cocolate hcips

8 large marshmallows

a jar of Nutella

Graham crackers

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter or coat with cooking spray the bottom of a 6 inch iron skillet.  Cover the bottom with chocolate chips and drop a few spoonfuls of Nutella on top of the chocolate chips.  Cut marshmallows in half and arrange on top of chocolate. Place in oven and bake for 6-8 minutes, until marshamallows are golden brown.

Scoop out the melted chocolate and marshmallows with graham crackers.

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Maddie’s Chocolate Cake

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Our Christmas time with our middle son, Jeremy, and his family, began just before New Year’s when they arrived, filling us up with good hugs, little girl laughter, and lots of help in the kitchen.  At 8, Maddie has been developing her cooking skills for long enough that I barely need to stay in the kitchen while she creates.  I do, of course, for the pure pleasure of being with her and being amazed at her skill.  This cake is a deep, rich, chocolate, (made from scratch, of course!) with chocolate buttercream frosting, layered with strawberry jam. Beautiful to look at, and every crumb was delicious!

Recipe?  Times have changed!  Our younger cooks no longer pull out a cookbook to look up a recipe – the internet offers a wider range of choices, plus videos that show every step! As Maddie says, “Just go to YouTube!”  So here is the link for ingredients and easy to follow video:  Print version available by clicking on the link at bottom left of video.

I have made many a chocolate cake, but I learned several things from watching this video with Maddie.  I wish I had realized a long time ago that buttering my cooling rack would save the top of the cake sticking!  Thank you, Maddie,  This grandmother is still learning new tricks, and you are teaching me

Apple Puff

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We are surprised by wintry weather early in November this year, very unusual for this far South in Texas. It is definitely sweater and scarf weather, although I smile when I see some decked out in full ski country gear, as if shoveling snow might be next on their agenda  Fact is, there are 2 kinds of people who do that:  those who are so accustomed to the heat here that the first chill wind has them reaching for the electric blanket, and second, those who have winter fashion they seldom get to wear – head gear, boots, puffy vests, and furry jackets. This may be their one chance this year to haul it out!

The things that I have a yen to do when we have a genuine cold snap (or a blue norther, in Texas speak)?  I like to have a fire in the fireplace, bring out my crochet or knitting, and spend more time in the kitchen baking and making hot hearty soups or a big pot of chili – as my mother would have called it – stick to your ribs food.  Include in that category tasty hot breakfasts!   This Apple Pan Puff is perfect when the temperatures dip.  Not only is it full of all the flavors of fall, it fills the kitchen with aromas of cinnamon and baking apples! The recipe I adapted mine from comes (again!) from Breakfast in Bed Cookbook collection by Carol Frieberg. It is a favorite at the Silver Bay Inn in Stehekin, Washington, which is said to offer cozy waterfront cabins with views of Lake Chelan and the North Cascades.

Apple Pan Puff

2 Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1/4 cup butter

3 large eggs

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

Cinnamon in a shaker bottle for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a heavy iron skillet, melt butter, add sliced apples, and saute, stirring  gently with a wooden spoon, until apples soften. Sprinkle top of apples with cinnamon, and lower heat while blending remaining ingredients..

Place eggs, flour, milk, vanilla, and salt in jar of blender and blend until mixed and smooth.

Pour contents of blender carefully over apples without stirring, and place in preheated oven to bake for 10 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Serve immediately, topped with drizzle of maple syrup on each serving.

To transform this from a breakfast to dessert dish, add a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream.  Pecan Praline ice cream, for instance!

 

 

Lemon Cream and Berry Delight

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For Ben’s birthday I made Peanut Butter Pie –  no baking, no heating up the kitchen.  For Joe’s birthday last week we enjoyed another cool sweet for the birthday “cake.”  I found a recipe for this layered dessert in the most recent Food and Wine magazine, titled Lemony Layered Cheesecake.  It does have mascarpone cheese, but is more light and fluffy than any cheesecake . It looks complicated and would certainly be elegant enough to grace a table for guests, but by some clever application of plastic wrap, it turns out like magic  Oh yes,  it is absolutely delicious!  This combination works well especially when berries are in season, but other combinations are great, too..  Try using the  cream paired with raspberry preserves spread between layers of chocolate wafer cookies, or mix apple butter with the mascarpone, layer with ginger snaps, and sprinkle with minced crystallized ginger.

Lemon Cream and Berry Delight

1 1/2 cups mascarpone cheese

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup homemade*  or purchased lemon curd

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

20 whole graham crackers

Berries for topping’- blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries

Line a 9X5 inch loaf pan (I used pyrex) with plastic wrap, leaving 5 or  inch overhang on all sides. In bowl of electric mixer, combine mascarpone and cream and beat on medium speed until smooth and beginning to be firm . Don’t over beat.  Fold in lemon curd and 1/8 teaspoon sea salt.

Spread a thin layer of lemon cream over the bottom of plastic wrapped pan. Arrange a layer of single graham crackers on top of this, breaking some to cover.  Repeat the layers of cream and graham crackers 5 or 6 times until you have just enough cream to spread on top.. Wrap the dessert with overhanging plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator, unwrap top pieces of plastic wrap, place flat serving dish on top and invert pan.  Remove all plastic wrap, decorate with berries as you wish, and serve, adding berries alongside.

*see my recipe for lemon curd in a November 3, 2011 post

 

Peanut Butter Pie

IMG_0596July 15 is our youngest son’s birthday, and when I asked him what he wanted for his birthday he requested Peanut Butter Pie.  He developed a fondness for this cool, creamy dessert 30 years ago when he went with his best friend’s family to visit grandparents in Pennsylvania and Grandma Eshbaugh made it.  When he got back home, he asked me to make a Peanut Butter pie and through the years I have tried several versions.  This one seems to most like the Pennsylvania Grandmother’s recipe.  There are dozens of variations to be found in cookbooks and online, but this one is found in an old church cookbook given to us by friends in 1981.  It has very simple ingredients, is quick to put together, and if you like peanut butter you are going to love this pie.

Peanut Butter Pie

2 chocolate cookie crumb crusts ( make your own from chocolate wafers if you prefer, but I purchased Keebler crusts at HEB)

1 cup creamy peanut butter

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 can Eagle Brand milk

2 cups Cool Whip (I used the extra creamy style)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons vanilla

With electric mixer, cream peanut butter and cream cheese.  Add lemon juice and vanilla and mix, then fold in Cool Whip.  Pour into prepared chocolate cookie crumb pie shells, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.  Serve with a spoonful of Cool Whip.  Add grated chocolate on top if you like.0