Slow Cooker Sunday: Maple Cinnamon Pear-Applesauce

I have an abundance of apples from my recent apple picking outing and while I have been enjoying eating them, I decided to use some of them to make a homemade pear-applesauce. Making homemade applesauce is quicker and easier than you may think. And healthier since you can control the level of sweetness. You could also customize the flavors by adding in different fruits (i.e. peaches, mangoes, cranberries) or different spices.

I began by peeling, coring and chopping 2 lbs. each apples (I used red delicious and granny smith) and pears (I used Bartlett). I added the apples along with pure maple syrup, vanilla extract, a cinnamon stick, lemon juice and water to the inset of a slow cooker.

I set it took on low for 4 hours and was left with apples and pears that were perfectly tender for the next step.

I removed the cinnamon stick and using a slotted spoon transferred the apples and pears to the bowl of a food processor. To prevent the sauce from becoming too watery I didn’t add too much of the juices. I then pulsed the mixture to my desired consistency, making sure no large apple or pear chunks remained.

I transferred the pear-applesauce to a container to let it cool and then covered and refrigerated it.

 

Slow Cooker Maple Cinnamon Pear-Applesauce

Ingredients:

2 pounds apples, peeled, cored and chopped

2 pounds pears, peeled, cored and chopped

3/4 cup pure maple syrup

3/4 cup water

Juice from 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients in a slow cooker (at least 6 quarts) and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low until the apples and pears are tender, about 4 hours.

Remove the cinnamon stick and transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender and pulse until desired consistency. You could also transfer to a large bowl and mash with a potato masher for a chunkier sauce.

Let cool and then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.

Recipe from Real Simple

If you would prefer to make this on the stove, increase the water amount to a cup and combine all of the ingredients in large pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender, about 25 minutes.

For both versions (slow cooker or stove top) you could substitute apple juice for the water.

 

 

 

 

Blueberry Peach Buckle

Labor Day… Today marks the unofficial end to the summer for most, calendar-wise though we have until the 22nd. And with temps planning to hit the high 80’s in New York this week, it doesn’t seem like summer is letting go that easy! So, if you’re craving a dessert that’s reminiscent of summer flavors and you’re still able to get fresh peaches in your neck of the woods (although frozen would work, or you could sub the peaches for apples) this Blueberry Peach Buckle is for you!

Now, you may be wondering what exactly a buckle is. I know I was when I saw this recipe. Well, it’s a fruit cake, usually made with blueberries, that has a streusel topping. When the cake bakes the batter will rise whereas the blueberries and streusel topping will weigh it down, the surface of the cake will then buckle. Truth be told, I didn’t really see this happen with the one I made.

Overall this cake was good, but, there are two things I would do different next time. I found the streusel topping to be a bit sweet so I think I would cut back on the granulated sugar and have an even amount of both sugars. Also, add in another chopped peach. I could barely taste the peach pieces in the cake. Oh, and there is a third, either omit the orange zest or add in another 1/4 teaspoon. I really didn’t get the orange essence.

A scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side did make this cake extra yummy though regardless!

 

Blueberry Peach Buckle

For The Cake:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 2/3 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon orange zest

1 large egg

1/2 cup milk*

2 cups blueberries

1 large peach, chopped

 

*I used whole milk

 

For the Streusel Topping:

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

3 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Pinch of salt

Vanilla ice cream, for serving

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease an 8×8 baking dish with butter or spray with cooking spray.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl beat the butter, sugar and orange zest together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and then gradually beat in the milk with the mixer on low. Your batter may look curdled due to the milk and zest interacting. Add the flour mixture and continue to meat until well incorporated. Your batter will be thick. Fold in the blueberries and chopped peach and spread in the prepared dish.

To make the streusel, in a medium bowl combine the sugars, flour, nutmeg and salt. Work the butter in with your fingers until clumpy. Scatter it over the batter.

Bake in the preheated oven for about an hour, until a cake tested inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool for at least 30 minutes and then serve with the ice cream.

Recipe from Food Network

Lemon Blueberry Snack Cakes

I don’t have enough space in my kitchen to store all of my baking supplies so I keep them nicely organized on a shelving until in my basement. Not long ago while grabbing my Bundt pan to make a pound cake I thought it was about time I use my snack cake pans again. I’ve only used them once to make these Chocolate Snack Cakes. So, the wheels started turning to come up with a flavor. Initially I was thinking of making a Raspberry Cake with a Lime Curd Filling, then, it became a Raspberry Cake with a Lemon Curd Filling, next, a Lemon Raspberry Cake with a Pastry Cream filling, but, since blueberries were on sale the week I decided to make them it ended up being a Lemon Blueberry Snack Cake. Maybe another day will try out one of those other flavors. Oh, and in case you are wondering what a snack cake pan is, it’s essentially a pan that will make cakes that look like Twinkies. I have this one from Fat Daddio, which I believe isn’t available anymore, but, Wilton makes a similar one.

I tweaked the recipe that I used to make this Lemon Cake a few years back and then gently folded in blueberries that I dredged in flour (a little trick to ensure the blueberries won’t sink to the bottom of the batter while baking). I then divvied the batter among my snack cake pans and baked them in the oven. If you don’t have snack cake pans, you can use the batter to make cupcakes. They are delicious on their own, but, it you opt to make the cupcakes top them with cream cheese frosting and decorate with lemon zest and a few more blueberries for a little extra wow.

 

Lemon Blueberry Snack Cakes

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

5 oz. buttermilk*

3/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup blueberries, dredged in flour

 

*I made my own buttermilk by stirring together 4 1/2 teaspoons of white vinegar and 1 cup whole milk and let it sit for 10-15 minutes until it curdled. You can refrigerate the leftovers.

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a snack cake pan with baking spray. If making cupcakes, line a cupcake tin with liners.

Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt) and set aside.

In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light & fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk and beat until just combined. Add in the lemon zest and vanilla extract.

Fold in the blueberries and pour batter into the pan. For the snack cake pan use about 3 tablespoons of batter per cavity, for cupcakes 1/4 cup of batter.

Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Malted Oatmeal Cream Pies

Have you been doing a lot of baking this summer? Unfortunately I haven’t. I did my fare share for a July 4th celebration, including the cake below, but, other than that baking has been to a minimum. It’s primarily due to the fact that it’s been a little warm and humid and that coupled with the fact that I don’t have air conditioning does not make for the ideal recipe to turn on my oven.

I did make some Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies and while they were good, they were a bit too cakey for my liking. And that brings me to the recipe I am sharing with you today… Malted Oatmeal Cream Pies, a la Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies. Truth be told, I have never had a Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie, but, when I saw this in an issue of Food Network Magazine last year (yes, it’s taken me that long to finally make them) I knew I wanted to try them.

One of the things I liked about this recipe is that you got the oatmeal texture of the cookie without the actual pieces of oatmeal because the recipe calls for you to pulse the oatmeal along with almonds. I think the next time I make a batch of oatmeal cookies I will try that out. What I didn’t like… The size of the pies. The recipe called for the dough to be scooped out in 1/4-cup balls, a little too much for my liking especially since the cookies were pretty thick. I think next time I make these I will keep them on the smaller size, maybe just use a cookie scoop. The cream part though was delish and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

 

Malted Oatmeal Cream Pies

Ingredients:

For the Cookies:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tablespoon malted milk powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup sliced almonds

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

For the Filling:

5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon malted milk powder

2 tablespoons whole milk

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

Directions:

Begin by making the cookies. Whisk the flour, malted milk powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the oats and almonds until coarsely ground, set aside.

In a large bowl (or using a stand mixer) beat the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on low, add in the flour mixture until just combined and then add in the oat mixture and beat until just combined.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop 1/4-cup balls of dough and place on the prepared sheets about 2 inches apart. Freeze until firm.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the cookies until just golden and crisp around the edges, about 15 to 17 minutes. Let cool on the sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the filling. In a large bowl beat the butter, confectioners’ sugar and, malted powder on medium speed until well combined. Reduce the speed to low and add in the milk and vanilla extract until just combined. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy. If the filling is too thick add more milk, too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar. Spread the filling on half of the cookies and then top with another and enjoy!

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

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

Ricotta Orange Pound Cake

I always have a container of ricotta cheese in my fridge just in case I want to make a baked ziti, a cheesecake or something or other. Unfortunately what ends up happening is, it sits in my fridge, I know it’s there, but I don’t get around to using it until it’s about to expire and then I’m scrambling to make something because I don’t want to throw it out. When this recently happened I decided to make something I made a few years ago, but didn’t come out quite right the first time… a Ricotta Orange Pound Cake. This cake has a nice orange taste and is quite moist thanks to the ricotta cheese.

Ricotta Orange Pound Cake

Ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups cake flour*

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese

1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 orange, zested

2 tablespoons amaretto

*If you don’t have cake flour, use this method to substitute with all-purpose flour and cornstarch.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a loaf pan with butter, or spray with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to blend.

With a mixer, cream together the ricotta cheese, butter, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one. Add the vanilla, zest and amaretto and beat until well combined. Add the dry ingredients, a little at a time, and mix until just incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 45 to 50 minutes. If you find you need to bake it a little longer, you may want to lower the temperature of the oven to ensure that you don’t burn the cake. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Food Network