Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I recently made a Pineapple Upside Down Cake for a birthday celebration. Secretly I was happy to make it because it meant I wouldn’t have to make frosting to decorate the cake and I could final try a Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Yes, I have never had it before. Not really sure why… I like pineapples and obviously I like cake, but, it never crossed my mind to make one.  Well, as they say, there’s no time like the present.

This cake is super simple to make, especially if you use a box yellow cake mix. After preheating my oven to 350 F, I melted a stick of unsalted butter directly in a 9×13 inch pan in the oven. I checked on the butter every so often to make sure it didn’t burn and also to tilt the pan so the butter wouldn’t melt in one spot. Once the butter had melted I removed the pan from the oven and sprinkled 1 cup of light brown sugar over the butter. Next, I arranged 12 pineapple slices – I used pineapple slices in pineapple juice and I reserved the juice to make the cake – and then place a maraschino cherry inside of each pineapple.

Next, I prepared the cake mix per the box directions. The cake mix called for 1 cup of water and I opted to use ½ cup of the reserved pineapple juice and ½ of water. You could also use an entire cup of pineapple juice. Since this was my first time make the cake I didn’t want to go overboard with the pineapple flavor, next time though – yes, there will be a next time for this cake – I will use the entire cup. Once the batter was ready I poured it over the pineapples and cherries in my prepared pan. I was concerned that the cake might end up sticking to the sides of the pan, but, once I added the batter to the pan some of the melted butter rose up to the sides so I didn’t have to worry about that. I spread the batter a little to even it out and then baked it for about 40 minutes – until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake came out clean.

I let the cake cool for a few minutes in the pan and then inverted it onto a cake board and platter. I was initially just going to use the cake board, but, was concerned that the syrup that was created by the butter and sugar would spill over so I went with the platter as well. After inverting it, I let the pan rest on the cake for a few minutes to make sure that all of yumminess had dripped down. I easily removed the pan and a few pineapple stuck to the pan, I removed them and placed them on the cake.

I can’t wait to make this cake again. It only took about an hour from start to finish and while I was concerned that it would be overly sweet and that the cake would be very thin, the outcome couldn’t have been farther from the truth. The cake was just the right height and was fluffy and light and the sweetness was right on point with the cake, pineapples and light brown sugar. One other thing that’s nice, thanks to the pineapples it’s so easy to cut this cake into 12 equal portions!

 

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup light brown sugar

12 pineapple slices in pineapple juice, reserve the juice*

12 maraschino cherries

1 box yellow cake mix, plus ingredients listed on box to make cake**

 

*I used a 20 oz. can & an 8 oz. can. The 20 oz. can had 10 slices and the 8 oz. had 4.

**Substitute the water with the pineapple juice

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Place the stick of butter in a 9×13 inch pan and place in the oven to melt. This will take a few minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the butter. Arrange the pineapple slices over the sugar and then place a cherry in the center of each pineapple slice. Set aside.

Prepare the cake mix per the box instructions and then pour over the pineapple slices. You can tap the pan down or use a spatula to even out the batter.

Place in the oven and bake 35 – 45 minutes, until the cake has browned and pulled away from the sides of the pan.

Let the cake cool for a few minutes and then invert on a platter. Let the pan sit on top of the cake for a few additional minutes so all of the syrup can drain out and then remove the pan. If any pineapples or cherries remain on the pain just remove them and place them on the cake.

Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

Homemade No Churn Coffee-Caramel Ice Cream

It’s the first day of summer and while the day started off rainy the sun has finally made an appearance. Are you ready and excited for the summer? I’ve been doing a good amount of yard work to get my yard ready. It seems like wherever I look there is a weed to pull or a tree/bush to trim back, it just never ends. Summer is synonymous with one of my favorite treats… Ice Cream. Granted, I can eat ice cream in the winter, but, the warmer days are definitely prime time for an ice cream treat. I was racking my brain to think of an ice cream flavor to make but I was coming up empty. I think I have too many things running around in my mind and a slew of mental to-do lists to focus on one thing. And then, just in time, the current issue of Food Network magazine showed up in my mailbox and wouldn’t ya’ know they had 3 recipes for no-churn ice cream. Granted, I do have an ice cream maker, but, the simpler the better sometimes (usually all the time to be honest.) I settled on trying the No Churn Coffee-Caramel Ice Cream. A little disclaimer, the original recipe included toffee chips with I decided to omit.

The prep time for making this ice cream took me less than 10 minutes. In a large bowl I whisked together condensed milk, espresso powder (I used Café Bustelo Espresso Instant Coffee), heavy cream and salt until it was smooth. You will have speckles from the espresso powder, don’t worry, once you incorporate the whipped heavy cream the speckles will go away. Speaking of the whipped heavy cream, in another large bowl beat heavy cream on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold half of the whipped cream into the condensed milk mixture until fully combined and then fold in the remaining whipped cream until completely incorporated. I tasted the mixture at this point and it tasted like my favorite coffee flavored ice cream…. YUM! I would have been happy to just put this in the freezer, but, I decided to follow the recipe and added in dulce de leche (a milk-based caramel) and then swirled it in the mixture. I transferred the mixture to a 9×5 metal loaf and dotted the top of the mixture with more dulce de leche. I covered the pan with plastic wrap and then placed it in the freezer.

The next day I enjoyed a scoop or two and it was delish! The coffee and dulce de leche flavor go together so well. I’ll definitely be making this again a few more times during the summer (and winter.)

Looking for more ice cream flavors to try… Check out some of my previous ice cream posts:

Malted S’mores Ice Cream

Blueberry Vanilla Ice Cream

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Lavender Vanilla Ice Cream

 

No Churn Coffee-Caramel Ice Cream

Ingredients:

3 / 4 cup sweetened condensed milk

2 tablespoons instant espresso powder

1 1 / 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Pinch of salt

1 / 3 cup dulce de leche

 

Directions:

In a large bowl whisk together the condensed milk, espresso powder, 1 tablespoon heavy cream and salt.

In a separate large bowl beat the remaining heavy cream with a mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula fold half of the mixture into the condensed milk mixture until combined and then fold in the remaining heavy cream until completely incorporated and no white streaks remain. The color will look like coffee with milk added in.

Dot the mixture with the dulce de leche and using the rubber spatula swirl the dulce de leche into the mixture. Transfer to a 9×5 metal loaf pan and then top with more dulce de leche. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Recipe from Food Network

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Crumbles are great for the warmer months. They can be made with pretty much any fruit, are super simple and pair well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Summer is an ideal time for cherry pie, blueberry pie and strawberry rhubarb pie… How about making one of those into a crumble? Today, I am bringing you just that… A Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble.

A little backstory on Rhubarb… You may think that rhubarb is related to celery because it pretty much just looks like red celery and that it is a fruit because it’s primarily used in dessert, but, both accounts are wrong. Rhubarb and celery while they may look alike are not part of the same family, and based on the theory that fruits have seeds, rhubarb is not a fruit. Rhubarb is used in baking because its tart flavor will not become overly sweet when added with sugar and other sweeteners. To me rhubarb tastes like an unripen apple. If you’re keen on tart flavors then raw rhubarb may be perfect for you, but, avoid eating its leaves as they contain high levels of oxalic acid which can cause kidney damage, granted, you would have to eat a pretty hefty amount, but even a small amount can make you sick so why take the chance. Anyhoo, back to the crumble.

I began by making the topping… I mixed flour, baking powder, granulated sugar, light brown sugar and lemon zest in a bowl. I then added in melted butter and stirred all of the ingredients together until it formed into clumps and then refrigerated it for 10 minutes.

In another bowl I made the filling by tossing together chopped rhubarb, quartered strawberries, lemon juice, granulated sugar, salt and to thicken the filling, cornstarch. I transferred this to a 9-inch deep dish pie plate and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Once everything had sat for its designated time I covered the fruit with the crumb topping…

And baked it in a 375 preheated oven for about 45 minutes. Until the filling was bubbly.

I let the crumble rest for a bit and then enjoyed some with what else, a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

If you’re looking for some more easy summer cakes to make check out the Dump Cakes I posted about a few years ago or the Apple Streusel Dump Cake I made for Thanksgiving last year.

And, if you happen to buy too much rhubarb and need another recipe to try out, check out these Rhubarb Cupcakes.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Ingredients:

For the Topping:

1 1/3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

Grated zest of 1 lemon

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling:

1 1/2 cups 1-inch pieced chopped rhubarb (about 3 stalks)

1 quart strawberries hulled and quartered (about 4 cups)

Juice of lemon

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

Pinch of salt

Vanilla ice cream for serving

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Make the topping: In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, both sugars and the lemon zest. Add the melted butter and stir the mixture until it forms small and large clumps. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Make the filling: In a large bowl combine the rhubarb, strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, salt and cornstarch. Let rest for 10 minutes and then transfer to a 9-inch deep dish pie plate or a 9-inch square baking dish.

Top the filling evenly with the topping mixture and place the dish on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, about 40 to 50 minutes.

Let the crumble rest for at least 15 minutes before enjoying.

Serve warm and store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Recipe from Food Network

Paint Pouring

One thing I will never be.. A painter. I’m great at visualizing things but not so great at putting them to paper. I’ve done quite a few paint nights and for me it’s more about the social aspect than the end result. But recently I discovered and tried a type of painting I can do without feeling inadequate about my painting abilities – or should I say inabilities -… Paint Pouring. It’s basically what it sounds like, pouring paint on a canvas to create a picture.

To create your paint pouring masterpiece you will need a canvas (I used an 8 x 8 and 10 x 10 inch canvas – anything bigger and you might need more paint), 2 oz. bottles of acrylic paint (I used 4 different colors), white school glue, disposable cups, a wire rack, an aluminum pan for the wire rack to sit in, disposable gloves and craft sticks. In lieu of craft sticks I actually used plastic knives; disposable cutlery has a lot more uses than just eating.

And while this is a paint pouring project, you can’t just pour the paint on the canvas, you have to mix them with water and glue which will allow the paint to flow easier and bind to the canvas without flaking and also allows the different layers of paint to stick together. To create the mixture you will mix two parts glue with one part water in the disposable cups and then add an equal amount of paint. My ratios were a bit off, I used .75 oz. of water, 1.5. oz. of glue and 2 oz. of paint, just so I could use the entire bottle of paint without having to measure it out. I don’t think my slightly off measurements made that much of a difference. A small hint, I used the same measuring cup for the water and glue, so I measured the water for each of my cups first and then the glue. After adding the water, glue and paint to each of my cups I stirred them together well.

Now it’s time to paint pour. Wearing disposable gloves pour puddles of the paint on different parts of the canvas. Tilt the canvas in different directions to spread the paint. You can use the craft sticks (or disposable cutlery) to create swirls in the paint. Continue to pour the paint and tilt the canvas until you have reached your desired “picture.” Make sure to get the corners and sides of the canvas as well. Place the canvas on the wire rack and allow it to dry completely – about 24 hours.

Hang and enjoy you quick and easy masterpiece.

I’ve made a few of these and I am happy with how each of them has turned out. These are fun pieces that can be personalized and would make great gifts.

 

Happy Painting!

Paint Pouring

Supplies:

Canvas

School glue

Acrylic paint

Water

Cooling tray

Deep pan

Plastic cups

Craft sticks

Disposable gloves

Directions:

Mix two parts glue with one part water in the plastic cups. Add an equal amount of pain and mix together well. Repeats for all the colors. Place the cooling rack inside of the pan and the canvas on top of the cooling rack. Feel free to lay newspaper below the pain in case of paint splatter.

Pour puddles of the paint in different spots of the canvas and begin tilting the canvas in different directions to spread the paint around. Use a craft stick to swirl the paint. Continue pouring, tilting and swirling until you are happy with the outcome. Make sure the pain reaches all of the corners and the sides of the canvas.

Place on the wire rack and let dry completely.

Rainbow Cookie Donuts

Happy National Donut Day! In honor of the day I decided to make Rainbow Cookie Donuts.

If you do a Google search for Rainbow Cookie Donuts you normally see a rainbow cookie – the tri-color cookie separated by raspberry jam and then covered in chocolate – shaped like a donut. A bit much if you ask me. I really wanted to make one similar to the one a coworker brought me from a local donut shop by her – Honey Pig Donuts. Instead of the donut being layered the colors were marbled together.

I knew that my go-to Rainbow Cookie recipe wouldn’t be right for these cookies… It’s not light enough and I would end up with a donut that would be quite dense. I was going to try and tweak the recipe to get the right texture, but, then I came across a Rainbow Cookie Cake recipe that would be perfect, once I halved the recipe.

Once I made the batter I divided it in three and tinted each of them. I normally only tint the green and pink layer when I make the cookies, but, since I was making them in donut form I decided to tint the natural color layer with a bit of yellow so each part of the rainbow donut could stand out. Next, I transferred the batter to piping bags and snipped a small portion of the tip off and then piped the batter into donut pans that I sprayed with baking spray. I filled the cavities about 3/4 full and then baked them in a 350 F preheated oven for about 15 minutes.

After the donuts had cooled I melted a few tablespoons of seedless raspberry jam in a small saucepan over medium-low heat to melt it. Once melted I used a brush to brush the tops of the donuts with the melted jam.

While the jam settled I made the chocolate glaze. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat I combined chopped semisweet chocolate with heavy cream, vanilla extract and salt and stirred the mixture until it melted. Once melted and smooth I removed it from the heat and let it cool for about 5 minutes. I gave it a few more stirs and then dipped the tops of the donuts into the melted chocolate. After dipping them I placed them on a cooling rack that I set on a wax paper lined cookie sheet so the chocolate could set.

And there you have it… Rainbow Cookie Donuts. While I enjoy the cookie version, I really love the lightness of these donut versions. The almond flavor really shines through as opposed to the cookies where the raspberry jam flavor stands out more for me. Truth be told, the donuts are delicious on their own without the melted raspberry and chocolate glaze. I kept the sans raspberry and chocolate glaze version in an airtight container at room temperature for three days and they still tasted delicious and I kept the raspberry chocolate glaze versions in the fridge for a day or two longer and they still tasted good – I let them come to room temperature before enjoying.

Rainbow Cookie Donuts

Ingredients:

Donuts:

1 1/2 (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cups sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

7 oz. almond paste, grated

1/2 tablespoon almond extract

1/2 cup while milk

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

red, green & yellow food coloring

Raspberry Glaze:

4-5 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam

Chocolate Glaze:

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

Directions:

Spray two donut pans with baking spray and preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.

Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs and continue beating for a few more minutes until combined. Add in the grated almond paste, almond extract and milk and beat well until combined, making sure the almond paste is completely incorporated.

In a separate bowl sift together the flour and baking powder and gradually add it to the butter batter while mixing on low. Continue mixing until the two mixtures are well combined.

Divide the batter among three bowl and tint it with the food coloring. Transfer the batter to three piping bags and snip the ends off. You could also use Ziploc bags and snip one of the corners off. Pipe the batter into the cavities of the donut pan haphazardly to create a marbled effect. Fill the cavities about 3/4 full. Tap the pans down before placing the oven to even the batter down. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean.

Let the donuts cool in the pans for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Rinse and spray the pans again before piping in the next batch of batter.

Once the donuts have cooled, melt the raspberry in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, do not let it boil. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the donuts with the raspberry jam.

As the jam settles make the glaze by heating the chocolate, cream, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring, until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Give the mixture a few good stirs. Place a cooling rack on a wax-lined cookie sheet and then dip the tops of the donuts into the melted chocolate and place on the cooling rack so the chocolate can cool and set.

Recipe for Donuts adapted from Always Order Dessert

Russian Decorating Tips

If you’ve been perusing decorated cakes on Instagram or Pinterest lately you may have noticed an influx of cakes decorated with some fancy and elaborate looking flowers. You may have thought to yourself that they require some advanced skill in cake decorating to create, but, the truth is, they only require specific types of decorating tips, a little patience and the right frosting consistency to replicate.

When I first started seeing them I did a little research and discovered that the flowers were being created with decorating tips known as “Russian Decorating Tips.” After a little more research I discovered that these tips have nothing to do with Russia. So, how did they get their name? Per another blogger, I Am Baker, they got their name because they were being sold by a company called Ali Express and they named them “Russian Tips.” At the time I didn’t feel like ordering a set over the internet, but, not too long ago I discovered that my local AC Moore began selling a set of 8 (along with an extra-large coupler to use with them) for less than $10. Truth be told, you don’t need the coupler. You can just cut your decorator bag and drop the tip in. I would suggest using a 16-inch decorator bag with these tips as opposed to a 12-inch one.

 

Unlike traditional decorating tips from Wilton & Ateco, these tips do not have numbers on them. The tips have a laser cut design on the end that allows the frosting to be piped through and form the different flowers. I will say that some of the tips are easier to use than others. Some of the designs, especially those that have detailed centers meant to emulate the stamen & stigma part of the flower, take a little more practice to master. One other thing that is different is the way you pipe them. With your usual tips you sometimes have to add a little wrist twist to get the flower design, or, you have to hold the bag at a 45 degree angle. But, with these tips you hold the bag at a 90 degree angle about an inch or so from your cake (or cupcake) and squeeze for a few seconds to form the flower. Before piping the next flower I would suggest wiping the tip clean to get a nice flower for the next pipe.

Like I mentioned earlier I purchased a set of these tips from my local AC Moore store. I can’t remember how I knew they carried them; I probably saw something on their Instagram feed. I decided to hold off on using them until I made my Mother’s Day cake. I did test them out using store bought vanilla frosting and as I had suspected and had read a little bit about, the frosting was too thin to get a well-formed flower. All of my test flowers looked like little blobs of frosting as opposed to a flower.

So, using my go-to Fluffy Vanilla Frosting that I then tinted in 4 different colors I began decorating the top of my cake. I was soon a bit frustrated with some of the tips. The flowers weren’t piping well and even though the frosting was a stiffer consistency the centers of the flowers weren’t looking nice. So, I decided to switch the tips I had chosen to use. Soon enough I got the hang of it and ended up with a flower topped cake I was content with. It wasn’t until I added in leaves (using a Wilton 352 tip) that I piped around the cake and in between the flowers to fill in the gaps that I was truly happy with the outcome.

  

 

 

 

 

Lemon Ricotta Bars

So, even after I made the Ricotta Orange Pound Cake I posted about last week, I still had ricotta cheese left-over and I didn’t want to toss it. So, I decided to make Lemon Ricotta Bars. Lemon & ricotta go together so well… If you don’t believe me try making these bars, these pancakes I posted about a few years ago or these cookies I posted right before the holidays last year. All were delish!

Lemon Ricotta Bars

Ingredients:

For the crust:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (15 crackers)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

1 cup whole-milk ricotta

4 large eggs, beaten

1 1/3 cups sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons lemon zest

2/3 cup lemon juice, from 3 to 4 large lemons

1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9x13x2 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

For the crust: Combine the ingredients for the crust in a medium bowl and mix until moistened. Press the mixture evenly in the prepared pan and about 1/4 inch up the sides of the dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, until set, and then set aside to cool.

Reduce the oven to 325F.

For the filling: Whisk the ricotta, eggs, sugar and flour in a bowl until well combined. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice and salt and blend well. Pour the filling into the crust and bake until filling is firm, about 30 minutes.

Let the pan cool on a wire rack, at least 2 hours. Cut into desired sized bars with a knife, wiping the knife between cuts.

Recipe adapted from Food Network and Food52