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Gray Family Christmas Dessert – Red Velvet Cake

Tonight is Gray Family Christmas and each family is bringing a dessert  and an appetizer. When we all get together there is now 33 of us!  Holidays are made for families!
 Hubby and our lovely daughter took on the dessert selection and just finished baking it.  I posted this about 4 years ago when it was her birthday cake request.    What does’t say Merry Christmas better than a beautiful Red Velvet Cake on a red platter.
Merry Christmas from my family to yours!  

Red Velvet Cake (Sunny Anderson – Food Network)

Ingredients

For the cake batter:

2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 ounces red food coloring
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
Pinch salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Butter, for pan

For the Frosting:

5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
2 sticks butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
Special Equipment: 12 by 17-inch jelly roll pan, parchment paper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar, until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, make a paste out of the red food coloring, cocoa and salt. Remove bowl from stand mixer and mix in paste by hand to the creamed butter. In a measuring cup, stir eggs with buttermilk and add to batter. Mix in vinegar and vanilla, and then add flour and baking soda. Mix until combined but do not over mix.

Butter a sheet pan. Lay parchment on top. Butter the parchment. Pour batter into pan and smooth the top to even the batter out, using an offset spatula. Bake cake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan.

Meanwhile, make the frosting: Heat all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Whisk until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before using.

Invert cake onto a cutting board and slice into quarters from the longer side. To assemble cake, spread 1 of the quarters with some of the frosting to cover. Sprinkle with a quarter of the pecans. Add another layer of cake and repeat. Continue until last layer is added. Frost the top of that and sprinkle with remaining pecans.

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Raspberry Almond Crumb Tart for the birthday boy!

What does the Birthday Boy get for his special birthday treat?  How about a Raspberry Almond Tart!  Shame on me that I did not ask him what he wanted for his birthday cake, but I think I know him pretty well.  In the past we have had a Raspberry pie for his special day so why not try and make a Raspberry Tart on my own.  I still love to bake and make a special treat now and then even though he has taken over the kitchen quite a bit lately.  This is adapted from Eating Well and was pretty easy to make.  I prepared this the day before his birthday and because we had our last “Meet the Teacher” night to attend right after work on the actual day.  That is right – 17 years of meet the teacher if not for both of the kids, then one of them.  When we finally got home, dessert was waiting and was very tasty.  Present too!

Ingredients  for  8 servings

½ cup sliced almonds, (skins on) 
6 tablespoons granulated sugar 
1⅓ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
 ½ teaspoon salt
 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces
 1 large egg yolk
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
¼ teaspoon almond extract
 4½ cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) raspberries 
1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly coat a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan with cooking spray. 
Combine almonds and sugar in a food processor; pulse until the almonds are finely ground and incorporated with the sugar. Set aside ½ cup of the mixture. Add 1⅓ cups flour and salt to the remaining sugar mixture and pulse briefly to blend. With the motor running, add butter a few pieces at a time until well incorporated. Stir egg yolk, vanilla and almond extracts together in a small bowl until blended. 
With the motor running, add to the processor and pulse until the mixture begins to clump and form a dough, about 1 minute (the mixture will look like crumbly sand). Set aside ⅓ cup of the mixture for the topping. Transfer the remaining dough to the prepared tart pan; spread evenly and press firmly into the bottom and up the sides to form a crust. 
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons flour to the reserved almond mixture; stir to blend. Gently toss raspberries with 2 tablespoons of this mixture in a medium bowl until coated. Spread the berries evenly in the tart pan. Sprinkle the remaining almond mixture over the berries. Pinch the reserved dough into small clumps to make crumbs and sprinkle the crumbs on top of the berries. 
Bake the tart for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until the crust and crumbs are golden brown, about 45 minutes more. Let cool on a wire rack for about 30 minutes. 
Serve warm or at room temperature. Remove the pan sides; place confectioners’ sugar in a fine sieve and dust the tart just before serving.
Dinner

Peppermint Stick Ice Cream

Christmas Time in the Summer!  
Who doesn’t like homemade ice cream?  What about Peppermint Flavored?  This is one of my favorite flavors and reminds me of when I was a kid going to Howard Johnson’s for Ice Cream.  Mom, Dad and I would go in to the one nearby and sit at the counter and get a dish of ice cream.  Now I did like the Swiss Chocolate Almond flavor and use to play this game with Mom on how many almond pieces we would get, but my all time favorite was peppermint stick.  
Around here you only see this at Christmas Time.  So this past Christmas season, i picked up a couple extra boxes of peppermint sticks for just this occasion.  We unwrapped them, put them in a storage bag and then into another Ziploc bag.  Took out the meat tenderizer and went to work crushing the sticks to bite size chunks.   Too bad I didn’t make this in June for Leon Day
Prepping the ingredients

Crushing the peppermint sticks

PEPPERMINT STICK ICE CREAM

Preparation: 5 – 10 minutes, 25 – 30 minutes chilling time; optional 2 hours to
“ripen” in freezer.
Makes about ten 1/2-cup servings.

 Ingredients

1 cup whole milk, well chilled
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
3/4 cup crushed hard peppermint candies

Directions

In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer or a whisk to combine the milk and
granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 – 2 minutes on low
speed. Stir in the heavy cream, vanilla and peppermint extract. Turn the
machine ON, pour mixture into freezer bowl through ingredient spout and
let mix until thickened, about 25 – 30 minutes. Add the crushed peppermint
candies during the last 5 minutes of mixing
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Lovely Lemon Pound Cake

This spring the weather has been horrible.  We really can’t catch a break, especially on the weekends.  So wen it is not warm enough to work or relax outside on our patio oasis,  I bake!  This weekend was just that weekend.  This was our dessert course after grilling some tenderloins and zucchini on the grill  and  roasting up some crispy red potatoes.  Crispy potatoes that are a smash
This cake with out any glaze, turned out very moist.  Our son made it his breakfast yesterday morning!  I think I will keep this recipe handy. 

Lemon Pound Cake


Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup shortening, room temperature
5 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
5 Tbsp lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray or butter and flour one large Bundt pan. (I use the Pam baking Spray) Sift flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl.  Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, shortening and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time, beating until well blended after each one. Add dry ingredients in three additions to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Mix in lemon juice and zest. 
Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 55 minutes.  Cool cake in pan for 15 minutes.  Turn cake out onto rack and cool completely.

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Snickerdoodles!

Cinnamon Yummy!

I love Snickerdoodles!  A cinnamon covered cookies that is soft and very tasty.  Normally in our house when cookies are made it is generally around Christmas time or it is our favorite chocolate chip cookie.   One Saturday a couple of weeks ago I had a hankering for Snickerdoodles.  I hadn’t made these in a really long time.  I am not sure where the recipe came from, other than my handy recipe box.  These were so good!  I might have to make them again real soon.

Snickerdoodles

Ingredients

2 3/4 cup flour
1 Tblsp. Baking Powder
1 cup of Butter
1 3/4 cup sugar, divided
2 eggs
1 Tblsp. cinnamon

Directions

On wax paper, stir together flour and baking powder, set aside.  In large saucepan or heat resistant bowl melt butter over low heat.  Remove and stir in 1 1/2 cups sugar and eggs until smooth. Gradually stir in flour until smooth dough forms.  Cover and chill for 1 hour  or up to 3 days.

On wax paper or small bowl, mix remaining sugar with cinnamon.  Drop round teaspoon full of dough into mixture and turn to coat well.  Place on greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 12 minutes.  Cool on sheet for 1 minute and remove to cool.

Enjoy with a cold glass of milk! I like to cool cookies on a clean dish towel

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Dinner Club Time – Tres Leche Cake

Last weekend was our dinner club dinner at our neighbors across the street.  It was a Fajita Fiesta night that also included a little pool party time to cool down from our run of 90 degree plus days. Our assignment was dessert.  And what betther way to cool down that a Tres Leches Cake that is light and refreshing.

Now I have never made this before and was a bit puzzled on the size of the platter needed to serve it on.  The cake was baked in a 10″ pan and need to go on a platter with 1 inch sides to capture the “juices” of the 3 milks (Tres Leches) and Grand Marnier.  I could not find one and ended up using the casserole dish that was just a tad bit bigger than the cake pan.  Having now made this I know that I could use a different plate for presentation.

The recipe was also very approprate for me.  I work in the dairy industry and what better way to support it than a recipe which actually had 4 types of dairy products involved.  So, for a international flair and somthing that is refreshing and moist – give this recipe a try.

Tres Leches Cake

Ingredients

Nonstick cooking spray, for the cake pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the cake pan
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
2 cups heavy cream, divided
3 tablespoons orange liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray and flour a 10-inch cake pan with 2-inch high sides and then line with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper.

Mix the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until frothy. With the mixer running, gradually add the sugar and beat to stiff peaks. Beat in the yolks, 1 at a time, blending well after each addition. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the whole milk in 2 additions.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool the cake slightly, about 10 minutes, then invert onto a platter with 1-inch high sides.

Pierce the top of the cake all over with a thick skewer. Mix the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, 1 cup heavy cream and orange liqueur in a medium bowl. Pour the mixture over the cake while warm. Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours or overnight.

Combine the remaining 1 cup heavy cream and powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Spread the whipped cream onto top of the cake and sprinkle with the ground cinnamon.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/marcela-valladolid/tres-leches-cake-recipe.html?oc=linkback

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Chocolate Brownie Tart

Some say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.  Probably a good idea when you are newly dating and want to impress your date, but when you have been with someone for 30 plus years, you know you have captured his heart a long time ago.  This past Valentines Day I wanted to  prepare a complete dinner for the two most important men in my life – my husband and our son.  We are not ones for showering each other with flowers or extravagant gifts for Valentines Day.  A simple exchange of cards will do and a great dinner prepared at home.  
I prepared a great au gratin potato dish (to be posted later) and Ina Garten’s steakhouse steaks.  To finish off the evening I made her Brownie Tart.   With only a half a cup of flour you know the dish will be rich and delicious. And this is not just a Valentines Day dessert…  Any special dinner will do.  Possibly Easter?

Chocolate Brownie Tart

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
3 1/4 cups (20 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
3 extra-large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (4 ounces) chopped walnuts
2 to 3 tablespoons heavy cream


Grease and flour a 9-inch tart pan with removable sides. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.


Melt the butter in a bowl set over simmering water. Add 2 cups of the chocolate chips, remove from the heat, and stir until the chocolate melts. Set aside to cool completely.


In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, coffee, and vanilla on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cooled chocolate. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, 1 cup of the chocolate chips, and the walnuts. Fold the flour mixture into the batter until just combined. Pour into the pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the center is puffed (the top may crack). The inside will still be very soft. Cool to room temperature before removing the sides of the tart pan.


Melt the remaining 1/4 cup of chocolate chips with the heavy cream and drizzle on the tart.


Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/brownie-tart-recipe.html?oc=linkback


Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/brownie-tart-recipe.html?oc=linkback