Posts Tagged 'new years'

Pipe Dream #161: To Solve Problems That Aren’t Problems – Eggnog Cake with Pecan Butter Rum Sauce

rum cake 1

I know I said I was taking a couple weeks off, but I figured it would be a major blogging faux pas to post an eggnog cake after it stops being sold in stores. Have some left over in your fridge from the holidays? Looking for a New Year’s dessert for the ball drop? Do you feel unloved and underappreciated? This cake solves all of those problems that are not really problems.

eggnog cake 1

First of all, eggnog cake. I felt good about this cake. It was really simple to whip together, and the result was a really tender, light crumb, perfect for soaking up all the rum butter goodness with which I doused it.

rum cake 4

With which. I doused it. The only thing I can really compare this cake to is sticky toffee pudding. It’s a date-filled British cake, served warm with this brown sugar  glaze sauce soaked through. To die for. To mimic the dying effect, I poked holes all over the cake before adding the sauce so that the sauce would soak in.

Were you obsessed with those packs of Christmas LifeSavers as a kid? It was the only time of year I ate them, and the butter rum ones were so good. This sauce is kind of like those, except more rummy and less crunchy, so I added in pecans for some textural flair.

rum cake 3

And as if that weren’t enough, I busted out the “You are special today” plate. Typically reserved for birthdays and bad hair days, the “You are special today” plate is the best combination of affirming language and Tolkien-esque font. In combination with this cake,  it is sure to bring you up from the depths of despair.

rum cake 2

You are special today, dear Reader! Happy New Year,

L

Eggnog Cake with Pecan Butter Rum Sauce
For the cake:
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup prepared eggnog
1/2 pecans, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour two 8 or 9-inch round cake pans, set aside. I actually used one 9-inch pan and then two 6-inch pans. I froze the 6-inch layers double wrapped in plastic wrap for another use.
Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.
In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking powder and salt.  Whisk well to combine.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with the eggnog in three additions (flour-eggnog-flour-eggnog-flour), mixing each addition until just incorporated.
Pour batter into the two (or three) round baking pans.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pans, and then run a sharp knife around the edge of the cakes in the pans. Turn the cakes out onto wire racks to cool completely.
For the butter rum sauce:
1/2 cup light-brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup dark rum
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chopped
In a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stir brown sugar and heavy cream until sugar is melted. Pour in rum, and simmer, stirring until the sauce is smooth, thickened, and reduced. This will take a while. I let mine simmer for a half hour, but I definitely could have gone longer. Stir in butter until melted.

The sauce can be prepared ahead, cooled, covered, and set aside at room temperature for several hours or refrigerated overnight.

To assemble the cake:

Place cake on a serving platter with edges. Choose one that won’t let the sauce run off. Smart cookie. Poke a bunch of holes in the cake with a skewer. Sprinkle with pecans, then pour the buttered rum sauce over the cake. Serve.

Pipe Dream #104: To Stop At 14ths – Cream Cheese Party Mints

I can distinctly remember the first time I had these mints. It was at a grad party, and they were in the shape of little grad caps and diplomas. I was probably 16 or 17, so it was somewhat embarrassing to return to the food table the amount of times that I did that day, but I couldn’t help myself. Seriously, I was like my own personal German granny, “You look thin. You really should eat some more. Here. Have a fourth helping.”

These babies are approximately as addicting as the homemade peppermint patties I showed you before, and twice as simple because you don’t have to dip them in chocolate. So there is absolutely no reason that you should not make them now and give them away immediately to your neighbors. They’ll appreciate. Also, they are the perfect party mints. Any occasion will do. Just buy a mold and set to it!

Lauren

Party Mints

Adapted from the Clever Culinarian

6 cups powdered sugar

½ teaspoons peppermint extract

¼ cup butter, softened

4 ounces, fluid cream Cheese

sugar (for rolling)

Mix ingredients well and form one teaspoon of mix into a small ball. Coat in sugar.

Push the first mint ball into your candy mold. If there is too much mixture, remove the excess. When finished, roll back into a ball use as a size example to make the rest of the mints.

If you don’t have actual candy molds, you can use any small clean, food safe item that will work or just roll them into balls and coat with sugar. Then you can make several at a time and coat them in sugar.

Finish each by pressing into the candy mold and placing on a tray to dry out.

Makes about 8 dozen marble-sized mints. If your event has a colorful theme, you can add a few drops of food coloring when mixing.

Pipe Dream #97: To Raise Beautiful Chocolate Children – Whisky Truffles

Making candy is like raising a child. You’ve got to put a lot of love into it, you don’t always know what you’re doing, and sometimes you just have to cross your fingers and hope that things turn out. I say that like I  know anything about raising children. I’ve heard that is what raising children is like. Hi, Mom.

I pretty much faked my way through this recipe. It was 2 in the morning, I was making truffles for about 200 people, and I was distracted by the help. The recipe you will find below is lovely–I didn’t follow it. I added more chocolate (and whisky) to the ganache than I should have, I spent ages forming the not-so-excellent balls, and I dipped the truffles in more chocolate rather than coating them with nuts or cocoa.

Dipping the truffles turned out to be a challenge. In the first, perfect truffle you can see above and below, we managed a beautiful little chocolate swirl tail because the chocolate was at just the right temperature. (Never you mind the chocolate-encrusted fingernails–all of this was very sanitary. :]) Also, can I say that metallic food spray is the best? It makes everything better.

For the majority though, the chocolate was not quite at the right temp, so…

We birthed little baby birds. They were perfect.

Crossing my fingers,

L

Chocolate Whisky Truffles

Adapted pretty heavily from Joy of Baking

16 ounces (454 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy whipping cream (double cream) (35-40% butterfat)

2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

2 tablespoons whisky (cognac, brandy, Grand Marnier, kirsch, or rum would work also)

Place 8 ounces of chopped chocolate in a medium sized heatproof bowl. Set aside. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil.  Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for a minute or two. Stir with a rubber spatula until smooth. (If the chocolate doesn’t melt completely, place in the microwave for about 20 seconds, or over a saucepan of simmering water, just until melted.) If desired, add the liqueur. Cover and place in the refrigerator until the truffle mixture is firm (this will take several hours or overnight). I think I added more chocolate than I should have, making the ganache firm up a little too well. If you make your ganache correctly, follow the next steps to the tee. If you mess up, you’ll have to scrunch the chocolate together with your fingers. 

Place your coatings for the truffles on a plate. Remove the truffle mixture from the refrigerator. With your hands, a small ice cream scoop, a melon baller, or a small spoon form the chocolate into round or mis-shaped bite-sized balls. Immediately roll the truffle in the coating (or dip in melted chocolate) and place on a parchment lined baking sheet or tray. Cover and place in the refrigerator until firm. Truffles can be refrigerated for a couple of weeks or else frozen for a couple of months. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Makes 30 small truffles.

I Got It Right: The Perfect Caramel



I was at church the first time I had a brown sugar caramel. It is appropriate that I should have received it there because church should always be a very joy-filled occasion. It is actually kind of weird that I remember having one at all. At the time, I wasn’t that obsessed with baking or candy, besides having the love of candy that most 12-year-olds have.


I think it really struck me because it was so different than any caramel I had experienced before, you know, those store-bought, pre-wrapped chunks of toffee that stick in your teeth and taste like preservatives. And it wasn’t like the caramel you get in a candy bar either. This caramel was soft and full of a rich flavor. It was heavenly.

Since that time, I have found brown sugar caramels at select coffee shops and homes all around Minnesota. I can never resist them, nor do I try. That would be folly.

I had forgotten them until I came across the recipe on a blog one day. Even though I was nervous about trying them given my track record, I figured that it was high time I had some good caramel in my life. And it was New Years coming up. Start things off right, you know.

Pipe dream CHECK,

L

Brown Sugar Caramels

Adapted from Stella B’s Kitchen

1 cup butter

⅛ teaspoons salt

2-½ cups brown sugar, packed

1 cup corn syrup

1 can sweetened, condensed milk – 14-ounce Can

1 teaspoon vanilla

pecans or other nuts, if you like

Generously butter the bottom and a couple inches up the sides of a 9×13 inch pan.

Melt butter, salt and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Stir in corn syrup, mix well. I have to admit that I added half the corn syrup by mistake before I was supposed to. It turned out all right. Gradually add condensed milk. Stir constantly over medium heat for 12-15 minutes until temperature reaches firm ball stage (250 degrees F). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Quickly pour into the greased pan. Cool completely at room temperature.

Cut about 100 5×4 inch pieces of wax paper to wrap the caramels, or just cut them out without wrapping like I did. I didn’t cover them well, and by day three, they were a bit gooey, so you’ll have to eat them fast if you don’t seal them. Shouldn’t be too tricky.

Place a large sheet of wax paper on a large cutting board. Butter wax paper lightly. Pull out the sheet of set caramel (if you are having trouble, section the slab into thirds, pull that chunk out and proceed) and set on wax paper. Cut into one inch pieces (shoot for Tootsie Roll size). Wrap with pieces of wax paper twisting towards yourself, or both ends twisted in the same direction so they unwrap neatly when pulled. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

Makes about 100 pieces.


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