Lemon & Raspberry Bundt Cake

This cake was a few different things before it finally came to be a Lemon & Raspberry Bundt Cake. First I thought of making a raspberry crumb cake, then I thought of omitting the crumb part and making a raspberry cake with a cream cheese icing drizzle, this is where the lemon came in and I thought of a lemon raspberry cake, then it was a loaf cake and ultimately it became a Bundt cake. While initially I was thinking of sticking with the cream cheese icing drizzle I decided to pass on it so the cake wouldn’t end up being super-sweet. Did you get all that? Long story short… I ended up making a delicious lemon tinged cake that was filled with perfectly sweet raspberries.

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To make the batter I began by creaming together butter and sugar until it was light and fluffy. Following that I added six eggs, one at a time, beating the mixture well after each addition and finally I added in vanilla extract. I put that aside for a moment and in a medium sized bowl I whisked together flour, baking soda and salt. With my mixer set to a lower speed I then added in the flour mixture in three parts alternating with lemon Greek Yogurt.

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And finally I folded in the juice and zest of one lemon and fresh raspberries which I dredged in flour – dredging the berries in flour prevents them from falling to the bottom of the batter while baking.

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I then poured the batter into a Bundt pan which I sprayed with baking spray and baked it in a 325 F preheated oven.

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After about 50 minutes the cake was ready to come out of the oven.

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I let it rest in the pan for about 20 minutes and then inverted it onto a wire rack so it could cool completely.

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Once cooled, I couldn’t wait to slice into the cake and enjoy a slice, and I wasn’t disappointed, it was absolutely delish. Just the right amount of lemon flavor and the berries were definitely a nice complement to the citrus flavor. And just as important… It was perfectly moist!

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Lemon & Raspberry Bundt Cake

Ingredients:

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups sugar

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

6 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup lemon Greek yogurt*

zest and juice from one lemon

2 cups raspberries, dredged in 2 tablespoons of flour

*I used 2 5.3-ounce containers of Chobani Greek Lemon Yogurt. You can also substitute with plain Greek yogurt or sour cream.

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Prep the Bundt pan by spraying it with baking spray or coating it with butter and then dusting it with flour.

2. Using a mixer beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy – about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add in the vanilla extract.

3. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

4. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and add in the flour mixture in three parts alternating with the yogurt. Mix until just combined.

5. Fold in the raspberries, lemon zest and juice and then transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for approximately 50 – 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

6. Place the cake on a wire rack and let it cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes before inverting and letting it cool completely.

Coconut & Lime Cupcakes

Happy Cinco de Mayo! It’s the perfect day to enjoy some guacamole, a few tacos, a shot of tequila or a nice cold margarita. That brings me to today’s post. I’ve made some delicious treats in honor of this day in the past – churros, tres leches cupcakesMexican wedding cookies and sopapilla cheesecake – and this year I was thinking of making Margarita Cupcakes. But, since I didn’t have any tequila on hand (all the recipes I came across had this margarita staple in the ingredient list) I opted for something non-alcoholic and just as festive… Coconut & Lime Cupcakes – a coconut cupcake with a key lime cream cheese frosting.

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To begin I made the coconut cupcakes… In the bowl of my stand mixer I mixed together sugar and butter until it was light and fluffy – about 5 minutes on medium speed.

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I then reduced the speed to low and added in three eggs – one at a time.

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Next I added in buttermilk, and a sifted mixture of flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. I alternated between adding the two beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Oh, and can I just take a moment to say that I love this silicone bowl to add things into my running mixer. It’s completely flexible so I can form it into the perfect shape to pour the flour into the bowl and not have it fly all over the place. I used to use a pouring shield but I always had the flying flour issue with it. Check out this link if you have been searching for the perfect bowl to add dry ingredients to your batter while mixing.

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Once the batter came together I folded in sweetened shredded coconut.

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And finally, using an ice cream scoop I divided the mixture among a 12-cup paper lined muffin pan and baked it in a 325 F preheated oven for 25 minutes.

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Once they were out of the oven, I let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing them and letting them cool completely on a wire rack in preparation for frosting them.

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After letting the cupcakes cool I got to working on the frosting – a key lime cream cheese frosting that has the perfect combination of sweetness and citrus flavor. I began by creaming together cream cheese, butter, key lime juice and key lime zest until it was creamy. Next I added in 2 cups of sifted confectioners’ sugar one cup at a time – mixing well after each cup. Just to note, if want more of a lime flavor you can add more of the lime juice, but, you may have to balance that with more confectioners’ sugar since you don’t want your frosting to become too thinned down. Prior to frosting the cupcakes I popped the frosting in the fridge for about 10 – 15 minutes so the frosting would be firmer to pipe with.

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And after frosting each of the cupcakes I sprinkled them with a bit of lime zest.

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Coconut Cupcakes – Adapted from here

Makes 12 Cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 F and line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

3. Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes on medium speed. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl down after each addition. Add in the vanilla and almonds extracts and mix well.

4. In three parts, alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Fold in the coconut.

5. Fill each cup of the muffin pan to the top – an ice cream scoop is the perfect size to fill the cups. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are slightly brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Key Lime Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 1/2 tablespoons key lime juice

1 teaspoon key lime zest

2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions:

Cream together the cream cheese, butter, key lime juice and zest until creamy. Add in the sugar, one cup at a time, and continue mixing until all of the sugar is incorporated. If you find that the frosting is too soft, pop it into the refrigerator for a few minutes so it can firm up before using it.

Chocolate Bunny Topped Easter Cake

Happy Easter! A few weeks ago when I posted about the Springtime Chocolate Chip Cookies I made I mentioned that I picked up some things at my local Target store to create an Easter cake and I am happy to say that the cake turned out just as I pictured it in my head. So, what did I pick up? Edible Easter Grass, Cadbury Mini Easter Eggs and a Chocolate Bunny.

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To begin, I baked my favorite Carrot Cake and frosted it with Cream Cheese Frosting.

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The Edible Easter Grass. If you’re wondering, it’s made of wafer paper candy; it does have a slight green apple flavor and surprisingly doesn’t have any kind of after-taste. And from what I read about it online most of the companies that sell it here in the United States import it from Germany.

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I cut the grass into 1 – 2 inch pieces and spread it onto a cookie sheet. I then misted the grass with a little water and mixed the grass so that it could clump together. I was careful not to use too much water because the grass would then disintegrate.

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I first placed the Chocolate Bunny in the center of the cake and then started spreading the grass around the bunny lightly pressing it into the frosting.

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I decided to only cover the top of the cake with the grass.

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And after placing some Cadbury Milk Eggs in the grass my cake was decorated and ready for Easter!

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Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

Coconut is one of those things that people either love or hate. For me, I love coconut. Come the summer I can never pass up getting a Coconut Italian Ice and while I enjoy most flavors of Chobani Greek yogurt my favorite by far is the Almond Coco Loco Flip. So, it’s pretty surprising that I have never had a Coconut Macaroon. I’ve always wanted to make them, but, some other treat makes its way into my oven instead. I finally got around to making them and I must say I wish I had made them sooner!

These were by far one of the easiest cookies I have ever made… They didn’t require a hand or stand mixer and were easily prepared in one bowl. You can’t beat simplicity like that. I began my mixing together shredded sweetened coconut along with sugar, flour, and salt.

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I then added in egg whites and almond extract and mixed the ingredients until they were well blended. Then using a cookie scoop I scooped up the coconut mixture…

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And dropped them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and baked them in a 325 F preheated oven for about 20 minutes.

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Once out of the oven I immediately transferred the macaroons to a wire rack to cool completely.

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After they cooled it was time to dip them in melted chocolate. Conveniently I had half a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips in my fridge. I melted the chocolate in the microwave and then dipped the bottom of each of the macaroons in the chocolate and then placed them on a wax paper lined cookie sheet and put them in the fridge so the chocolate could set.

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And since I had some chocolate left-over I decided to enjoy a mid-afternoon snack of chocolate dipped pretzels… You can’t go wrong with sweet & salty!

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Overall these macaroons were delish… With the combination of coconut, almond extract and chocolate they were reminiscent of an Almond Joy candy bar!

 

Coconut Macaroons

Makes 3 Dozen

Ingredients:

1 14oz. package sweetened coconut flakes (5 1/3 cups)

2/3 cup sugar

6 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 egg whites

1 teaspoon almond extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line two cookies sheets with parchment paper.

2. Mix coconut, sugar, flour and salt in a large bowl. Stir in eggs whites and almond extract until well blended. Drop by rounded tablespoonful (I used a small cookie scoop which yielded 26 macaroons) onto prepared cookie sheets.

3. Bakes for 18-20 minutes, or until edges of cookies are golden brown. Remove from cookie sheets and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy as is, or dip in melted chocolate for an extra sweet treat!

Pumpkin Ice Cream

By far my favorite sweet treat is ice cream and I firmly believe it’s never too cold to enjoy it. With all the amazing flavors that are available from so many different brands there is always something new to try. It’s been a while since I have made my own ice cream using my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker but recently the idea of making Pumpkin Ice Cream began floating around in my head. And since I always have a can or two of canned pumpkin puree sitting in my pantry I finally got around to making it and I only wish I had it made it sooner. It was that good!
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To create this ice cream I used an electric mixer to blend together whole milk, heavy cream, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin puree until the sugar was dissolved. I then covered this mixture and refrigerated it overnight. The following day I poured the pumpkin mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and allowed it to churn for about 15 minutes – until the mixture was thickened.
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Ideally I wanted the ice cream to have a firmer consistency so I transferred it to a ice cream container and placed it in the freezer.
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And after a few hours it was perfect!
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Pumpkin Ice Cream

Yield Approximately 5 cups

Ingredients:

1 cup whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch salt

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and using a handheld mixer mix all ingredients until sugar is dissolved. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight. Once the mixture is cold enough follow the instructions for your ice cream maker to make the ice cream.

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

While at the supermarket a few weeks ago I came across sugar pumpkins on sale, I thought for a second or two of buying them and making my own pumpkin puree but it was just a fleeting thought at the moment and I stuck with the list of items I had in hand. Once I got home though I was curious as to how difficult it would be to turn those small pumpkins into puree and I was pleasantly surprised at how simple it would be, well, minus the elbow grease and patience. So, a few days later I picked up two pumpkins and got to work.

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I began by slicing the top of the pumpkin off. I should say I sawed it off as I did mention it required some elbow grease.

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Next, I sliced the pumpkin in half. This was by far the most difficult part. Since my knives were sharpened I probably just need some refresher tips on knife skills.

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And then scooped out all of the seeds and pulp.

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Following that I sliced the halves into halves – or simply put I cut the pumpkin into quarters. I then repeated these steps with the second pumpkin and placed all of the quarters on a baking sheet.

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I roasted the pumpkin in a 350 F preheated oven for just shy of an hour until the pieces were fork tender. And I must say the smell of pumpkin in my house was heaven during that hour.

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After letting the pieces cool for a few minutes I was easily able to remove the skin from the pumpkin.

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And then it was time for the simplest part – well besides roasting the pumpkin – to making the puree, the blending.  I put a few pieces at a time in the bowl of my food processor and added a few tablespoons of water to help the process along.

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All in all I ended up with about 8 cups of fresh pumpkin puree.

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I refrigerated half of it and froze the other half in sandwich bags – putting a cup of puree in each of the bags.

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And since I didn’t want that refrigerated puree to go bad I was quick to whip up some delicious treats with it.

There was pumpkin pie, which I must say definitely had a much richer taste with the fresh puree.

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Pumpkin Ravioli using wonton wrappers…

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And my favorite, a homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte. I usually get one or two of these during the Fall at Starbucks but the coffee flavor is such a turn off for me since I am not a coffee drinker that being able to make this at home and control the coffee amount was perfect!

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Pumpkin Ravioli – Adapted from here and here

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh (or canned) pumpkin puree

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 shallot minced

3 tablespoons heavy cream

1/3 cup parmesan cheese grated

pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté for 1 minute.

2. Add the pumpkin and cook until the pumpkin has absorbed the butter.

3. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the cream.

4. Remove from the heat and add in the cheese and nutmeg and stir until both are incorporated.

 

Pumpkin Spice Latte – Recipe from October 2014 Food Network Magazine

Ingredients:

3 tbsp. sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons pumpkin puree

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

heaping 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

heaping 1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 1/4 cup milk (I used whole milk)

1/4 cup espresso (or strong brewed coffee)

whipped cream, for topping

Directions:

1. Combine the sugar, pumpkin puree, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in a small saucepan.

2. Whisk in milk and espresso and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.

3. Pour into 2 mugs and top with whipped cream and more nutmeg.

 

If you would like a more detailed description of how to make you own pumpkin puree check-out the directions I followed here from the Pioneer Woman’s (Ree Drummond) website.

 

S’Mores Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Not that long ago I finally joined Pinterest and while I am no nowhere near being an expert on it, I am getting the gist of it. Maybe with the holiday season just around the corner I’ll utilize it a bit more. Luckily I have friends who are on it who find cool things to share with me and politely hint at me to try, like S’mores Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies . I’ve actually never had a s’more; mainly because I am not particularly fond of marshmallows. I recall eating them as a child but chances are I ate one too many of them and got my fill. I figured since these marshmallows would melt into the cookie while baking I wouldn’t be bothered by them. And boy was I right!

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I began by making the chocolate chip cookie dough.

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I then gathered my three ingredients to make s’mores – graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows.

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And a assembled a s’more. I should note that I opted to use mini-marshmallows as opposed to the larger ones which probably explains the lack of marshmallow gooeyness in my cookie. I’m not complaining though!

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This is where the messy part began and I’ll spare you those pictures – mainly because I didn’t take any since my hands were covered with cookie dough. Using an ice cream scoop I scooped the dough into the palm of my hand and flattened it. I then placed the s’more on the flattened cookie dough and then placed another ice cream sized scoop of cookie dough on top of the s’more and smoothed the dough to form a decent sized mound. One more thing about those pesky marshmallows, if I had used the larger sized ones it probably would have been easier to shape the cookies since the smaller ones allowed the graham cracker and chocolate to move around a lot while forming the cookie.

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I baked the cookies (4 at a time) in a 350 F preheated oven for 15 minutes – they were just beginning to brown and the tops were cracking a bit. I let them cook on the pan for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Overall these cookies are amazing! The cookie itself was delicious and I will probably use the recipe the next time I make basic chocolate chip cookies.

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But the best part is when you split the cookie in half and you have all that chocolate in the middle… YUM!!!

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S’Mores Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Makes 12 Large Cookies

Ingredients:

2 sticks softened butter

1 Cup granulated sugar

3/4 Cup packed light brown sugar

2 eggs

1 Tablespoon vanilla

3 1/2 Cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 Cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

24 graham cracker quarters or 12 full sheets separated at perforations

3 Hershey Bars, broken into rows of 3 bars

12 large marshmallows cut in half lengthwise**

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line a large baking sheet with parchment or a silpat liner.

2.  In a stand or electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla, continue to beat until well combined.

3.  Place flour, salt and baking soda into a bowl; mix to combine then add slowly to wet ingredients along with the chocolate chips.

4.  Layer a graham cracker quarter with 3 Hershey chocolate squares and 2 marshmallow halves.  Close with another graham cracker.  Top s’more with a large scoop of cookie dough.  Place in hands and place another large scoop on bottom then front and back sides as needed.  Form dough around s’mores.  Will get messy, but stick with it, it does not have to be perfect.  S’mores will move around but it’s no big deal.  Place large cookies onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 15-17 minutes or until edges are golden and centers are cooked through.  Let cool for 10 minutes before transferring to cooling rack or serving plate.