Posts Tagged 'seasonal'

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,


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.

Rando Tuesdays: Drinks Edition – Meyer Lemontini

I don’t pretend to know about cocktails. But if I did pretend to know about them and made up my own , I am sure I would like it.

I’m sure I would like it, because it has happened. I made my own cocktail, and I liked it.

Meyer lemons are the jam, and so is Casino Royale. Just thought you should know.


Meyer Lemontini

The IP on this one is all mine, baby, with perhaps a little inspiration from Daniel Craig

1 ounce white wine

1 ounce gin

2 ounces simple syrup, to taste (simple syrup = sugar+water, boiled down)

3 ounces lemon juice, to taste (meyer lemons, if you’re lucky)

something fizzy (like tonic water? or soda? idk)

Line martini rims with lemon juice and raw sugar. Shake all ingredients with ice. Pour. Top up with something fizzy and garnish with lemon peel.

I Got It Right: Independence Day Red Velvet Cupcakes

I’ve finally done it. “For everything there is a season” and all that. In this case, the Bible is double true: Not only are these cupcakes appropriate for the Independence Day season, I have also managed to blog something at an appropriate time. Think of it! You are getting this blog post for red, white and blue cupcakes just two days before the 4th of July! It’s almost unfathomable, given that I’m a year and a half into this blog, and you’ve almost never seen a seasonal blog posting.

Sorry, you probably aren’t rejoicing as much as I am over this personal triumph.

But seriously, you should rejoice over these red velvet cupcakes. Compared to the half-disaster that was my first attempt at red velvet, these babies are delectable. It’s all that food coloring, I guess…

And with a molehill of cream cheese frosting? Please sign me up. I found some cute star sprinkles in my cupboard, and decided to use them up. Heaven knows I’ve only had them for an embarrassingly long number of years.

You can bring these to all those fun 4th of July barbecues you’re attending, yeah? Snarf one and think of me.

Eeeeeeeeee fireworks!!!!!!,


Red Velvet Cupcakes

Adapted from bakerella

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 oz. red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line trays with cupcake papers.
Lightly stir eggs in a medium bowl with a wire whisk. Add remaining liquid ingredients and stir together with whisk until blended. Set aside.
Place all the dry ingredients in your mixing bowl and stir together with another wire whisk.
Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on medium-high for about a minute or until completely combined.
Pour into cupcake pans and drop the pans on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.
Bake for about 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Makes 24 cupcakes

Cream Cheese Vanilla Frosting

1/2 stick unsalted butter

6 oz. cream cheese

4 c. sifted confectioner’s sugar

1/4 t. vanilla extract

Place butter and cream cheese into mixer bowl. Cream 1 minute on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar 1 c. at a time, mixing on medium speed, scraping down bowl between additions. Add vanilla, then beat on high speed 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy.

Pipe Dream #106: To Find Something “Too Rich” – Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies

Hello, dear friends.

This recipe is wonderful if you need to use up all of that canned pumpkin you have left over from, oh November. Personally, I buy canned pumpkin in March in case I have a craving. You know, one of those pre-fall cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin cravings. This recipe may seem a little off, given that summer is about to begin, but I make no excuses. I love pumpkin. I love blondies. Nothing is ever “too rich” for me.

Which reminds me. One thing that bothers me is when people say, “Oh, this dessert is too rich for me right now.” Like, they can’t eat it because it’s too heavy or sugary or something. I don’t really bother about the person’s opinion; it mostly just bothers me because it points out to myself that nothing is too rich for me. I’ll eat it all no matter the time or season or if I’ve just eaten the best fresh pasta with truffle cream sauce you ever saw. So I have no Richness Rectifier, and I’m jealous of people who do.

Returning from that rabbit trail. The key key key to these is to underbake them. Please just hear me on this. Underbaking is essential. No one likes a crispy blondie.

If you are perhaps feeling like these need a little more richness, please go ahead and pipe on a little bit of leftover cream cheese icing to make them look pretty. It’s what I would do.

That’s rich,


Oh p.s. you can find a walnut version of these blondies here.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies

Adapted from How to Cook Everything, found at smittenkitchen

8 tablespoons (1 stick, 4 ounces or 113 grams) butter, melted

1 cup (218 grams or 7 3/4 ounces for light; 238 grams or 8 3/8 ounces for dark) brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Pinch salt

1 cup (4 3/8 ounces or 125 grams) all-purpose flour

½ cup pureed pumpkin

½ to 1 cup chocolate chips

Butter an 8×8 pan.

Mix melted butter with brown sugar – beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla.

Add salt, stir in flour. Mix in pureed pumpkin, then mix chocolate chips.

Pour into the prepared pan. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 20-25 minutes, or until set in the middle. Don’t overbake; always underbake. Cool on rack before cutting.

Pipe Dream #100: To Simplify Your Life – Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Scones

Pumpkin. Cinnamon Roll. Scones. Three real happy things squished into one recipe. Although the recipe looks a bit finicky, I tried to include a few tips along the way that should simplify things. Let’s begin, shall we?

First off, I found a lingering feather on one of the eggs I was using. I wasn’t really grossed out; I was more pleased that the eggs I was using were fresh and farm-ish-looking.

Tip #1: Don’t bother rinsing your eggs; you are just cracking the shell off them anyway.

This recipe is one of those wet/dry ingredient recipes. I made up some buttermilk from scratch with a little lemon juice and added maple syrup to the eggs. Ah maple syrup, just another one of those interesting ingredients that makes this recipe unique and my life delicious.

Tip #2: Make your buttermilk from scratch.

I used my hands to rub the butter into the sifted dry ingredients this time, but feel free to use your favorite method. Knives, a pastry blender, whatever does the trick. I recently read about grating frozen butter and mixing it in. You can read about that here if you want. Might simplify your life a bit, and heaven knows I am all about simplifying your life.

Tip #3: Grate your frozen butter.

Easily the trickiest/coolest part of this recipe is rolling the dough so that your scones are cinnamon-swirled. It is difficult to roll the dough because it is so delicate, but once it is rolled, slicing it into scone triangles is a snap. Be careful to use a lot of flour on your work surface so that the dough doesn’t stick and crack.

Tip #4: Use lots of flour when rolling out your scone dough.

You can whip up a little cinnamon glaze for the top, which bakes up a beautifully shiny finish. These scones were not at all sweet, so I made up a quick glaze of icing sugar, vanilla and milk for the top.

Look at how fabulous that looks! The swirls! It was like eating at Cinnabon sort of not really. But if you want cinnamon rolls, please look at this.

Simply sated,


Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Scones

Adapted from Naturally Ella

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons butter, divided
2  egg whites
4 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
¾ cups pumpkin puree
¼ cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2  egg yolks
½ cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 425ºF and cover a sheet tray in parchment paper (or a reusable Silpat mat).

In a large bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients. Cut in 12 tablespoons of butter (using pastry blender, two knives, or your hands) until butter is in little pea size pieces. In a smaller bowl, whisk together egg white, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, pumpkin, and buttermilk. Stir into dry ingredients until dough pulls together.

Scoop out onto a floured surface and carefully pat dough into a rough 20×8 rectangle. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and combine with 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and cinnamon. Brush about half onto the rectangle. Starting with the end closest to you, roll the dough (like you would a cinnamon roll).

Once you have a round log, carefully shape into a rectangle log that stands about 1 1/2″ high and that has a width of about 3″. Cut log in half and divide each half into six triangles.

Whisk together any remaining filling mixture with egg yolks. This gives you a nice golden color on the scones. Place on the baking tray, brush with the butter/egg mixture.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the scone has a harder outer shell and has browned. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before icing.

To make icing, combine powdered sugar and remaining 1 tablespoon of maple syrup. Add milk if it’s too thick or powdered sugar if it’s too thin. You want to reach a thick yet pourable consistency. Drizzle glaze over the scones.

Pipe Dream #12: To Blog Fruits In Season – Blood Orange Cupcakes

Another citrus cake post, Lauren? Yes.

I like the idea of blood oranges more than I like blood oranges. This is likely due to the fact that I have never had a really good blood orange. They are only in season for about two weeks. Don’t let your neighborhood Rainbow deceive you–I know they carry them from December to July. But somehow, one in three blood oranges I buy looks like this on the inside, when they should look more, well, bloody.

That is not my hand, by the way. My nails are nubs compared to that slender elegance.

Also, I just decided that I don’t mind that “blood oranges” sounds kind of gory. It’s romantic.

Anyway, as in other posts where I’ve blogged about seasonal recipes, I regret to admit that this one is not in season either. But you can’t blame me, right? Not when blood oranges have a two-week season?

These cupcakes were an experiment. A fabulous experiment. I got the idea partly from seeing blood oranges at the grocer, which triggered memories of eating those chocolate oranges at Christmas. Do you remember those? My dad always used to make a big production out of SMACKing them on the table so they would break up into slices and then dole them out ceremoniously. (We’re never dramatic ever.) I was always fascinated at how the individual slices could have molding like a real orange.

So, my logical mind thought, “Well, we already know that chocolate and orange pair well together–let’s do blood orange and chocolate.” And I acted on my thought, to the general pleasure of my roommates and The Downstairs Girls.

I used my standard one-bowl chocolate cupcake recipe, a mint version of which you can find here. Instead of mint extract or vanilla, I added in the orange zest. The blood orange flavor was delicate and unique–so worth a try. I tried it the next week with a Cara Cara orange, and my palate didn’t quite flare up the same way, but they were still good. You could adapt it to any type of orange you have on hand.

Enjoy this eight months from now…


Chocolate Blood Orange Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon blood orange zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and zest, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

For the frosting:

3 cups of powdered sugar
1 stick of butter, softened
2 tablespoons milk or cream
2 tablespoons blood orange juice
1 teaspoon blood orange zest

Beat butter and powdered sugar together until well-mixed. Ad 1 tablespoon of milk, the juice and the zest and beat on high until light and fluffy (three or four minutes). If the frosting is too thick, add more milk, a little at a time, and beat until incorporated.

Pipe Dream #11: To Be A Good Steward – Clementine Cake

I’m not as eco-conscious as I would like to believe. I live in America, for one thing. And I don’t flip out if I forget to recycle my egg cartons, for another. But I do try, sometimes. Like with this cake, for example. It is my concession to the “green trend.”

This cake is super interesting because it uses whole clementines. You boil ’em for a couple hours before pureeing them mixing them with ground almonds as a base. Please forgive the following over-saturated picture from my old camera…

Making this cake made me feel like I was a Native American using ev-er-y part of the mammoth I had just killed. Except I didn’t kill a mammoth. And I didn’t build a house out of the cake I made. I ate it for breakfast.

Clementines are not in season anymore, I don’t think. But! blueberries are. And they are part of this recipe in a small way. Hope that’s all right. You can save this up ’til next Christmas. It’s permalinked.

Happy breakfasting,


P.S. It’s Easter in a few days. I didn’t make anything in advance like all the cool bloggers who have themed or traditional recipes for you to make before holidays. Ummm sorry.

Good Steward Clementine Cake

Adapted from Nigella Lawson

4 to 5 clementines (slightly less than 1 pound total weight)
6 eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/3 cups ground almonds
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder

Put the clementines in a pot with cold water to cover, bring to the boil, and cook for 2 hours. Drain. When cool, cut each clementine in half and remove the seeds. Then finely chop the skins, pith, and fruit in the processor or by hand (I processed them.)

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

Butter and line an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper. (I used two 9 inch cake pans instead. It worked fine. I think I used more than five clementines, which is probably why I had so much batter.)

Beat the eggs. Add the sugar, almonds, and baking powder. Mix well, adding the chopped clementines.

Pour the cake mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 50 minutes (keep checking, it depends on your pan), when a skewer will come out clean; you might have to cover the cake with foil after about 20 to 30 minutes to stop the top from over-browning.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool, in the pan on a rack. When the cake is cold, you can take it out of the pan and dust it with powdered sugar or make a glaze. Top with whatever fruit you have on hand. Or not. Or maybe whipped cream? Do what you like.

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