Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Italian Cream Cake: A Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Dessert




Good morning! Whew, I am tired and the holidays have not even started yet. I returned late last night from a fabulous weekend in Knoxville, TN where my husband and I visited with friends and attended the University of Tennessee versus the University of Missouri(my husbands alma mater) football game. 




I have never been to a game with all that pomp and circumstance and it was great fun. From the tailgating, to the arrival of the players, to the marching band and the dancing mascot's I enjoyed it all as did the over 95,000 people who attended the game along with me.




Today I am going to be frantically running around to get everything ready for my sister and her family who arrive today to spend Thanksgiving with us. I am so excited to be with my family!





One of the things that I have under control are the Thanksgiving week desserts. I tried out several new recipes using myself and my friends to taste test them and this Italian Cream cake was the hands down favorite. I know it is not a traditional Thanksgiving cake but I do know that many people serve it over the Christmas holidays so why not start early?




If you are looking for a non-traditional dessert to serve instead of the normal pies, or something to serve in addition I think you will LOVE this cake. By the way, even though it is called Italian Cream Cake I have been told that it is a southern cake recipe, not Italian. As for that I am not sure but if you know please share. 





Italian Cream Cake
Recipe from Foodnetwork and Southern Living

Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Crisco shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup chopped toasted pecans
  • 1 cup flaked coconut toasted
  • 5 egg whites, beaten until stiff

Directions

  • 1
    Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare 3-9" round cake pans with grease and parchment paper rounds in the bottom of the pans.. Cream butter, Crisco and sugar in mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time and continue mixing until creamy. Then add vanilla and almond extract. Sift flour and soda together, then add to butter and egg mixture alternating with buttermilk. Add flour first and last. 
  • 2
    Beat until smooth. Stir in nuts and coconut by hand, then fold in beaten egg whites, be careful not to over-mix and deflate the egg whites too much. 
  • 3
    Pour into prepared cake pans and bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on wire rack. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan then invert onto wire rack to cool completely. 
Frost with cream cheese frosting and decorate with toasted coconuts and pecans.

Cream Cheese Frosting


2 cup butter, softened
2 8 oz packages of cream cheese, softened
1-2 pounds of confectioners sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine butter and cream cheese in stand mixer, beat on medium until light and fluffy. Add confectioners sugar one cup at a time on low speed, then add vanilla. Beat on medium high until light and fluffy. You may need to add a little milk or cream to get it to the consistency that you like.






I cannot say enough good things about this cake. It is soft and moist with a delicious nutty, vanilla and coconut flavor. Even people that hate coconut love this cake, however if you are opposed to coconut than leave it out, the cake is still fabulous. 





What are you serving for Thanksgiving dessert? Do you have an non-traditional recipes on your menu?

I hope that you have a wonderful week. Travel safe and enjoy your time with your family and friends!


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Friday Favorites from Cookies & Cups, Kevin & Amanda and More

Good morning! I hope that you are staying warm and that you are safe. I read yesterday that some of you are getting another 2 FEET of snow! Holy cow and that is on top of the 2 feet they already have. Our weather has been swinging 20-25 degrees in either direction. One day I am walking the dogs in a sweatshirt the next in an outfit that looks like I could have been in the Shackleton expedition.




I cannot wait for the weekend because the first thing on my agenda is to make a batch of these Double Chocolate Pudding Cookies from Cookies and Cups


Double Chocolate Pudding Cookies from Cookies & Cups


I am also looking forward to re-reading Sunday at Ciao Dominica post titled Haven. It is a beautiful post about the beauty and comfort of books. In addition she reviews her treasure trove of new books which she brought back from England a few weeks ago. I have already started a list of ones that I need to get based on her recommendation. 




It is true that a picture can speak a thousand words. Amanda of Kevin and Amanda reviewed the new Sony point and shoot camera,  the Sony DSC RX100M III and the photos are fabulous. I cannot believe that she shot such beautiful photos using a point and shoot camera. I may have to ask Santa for this camera.




Are you familiar with Andrea from The French Basketeer? If not you, must visit her blog, she is a chef/stylist/party planner extraordinaire and none of those are her "day jobs." Recently she hosted a farm to table party that I wish I had the pleasure of being at.


Image The French Basketeer

Are you ready for Thanksgiving? We are finalizing our menu this weekend as the guests are arriving on Monday. I am so excited I cannot even tell you!  A week of eating, long leisurely walks, more eating, baking, then more eating, reading, relaxing, and so much more. 

I hope that you have a safe and warm weekend. Enjoy!






Thursday, November 20, 2014

15 Thanksgiving Dessert Ideas

Good morning! I am so excited for Thanksgiving and am starting to get my recipes together. This year my sister and her family are coming to visit and my niece has a sweet tooth just as I do so desserts are high on our Thanksgiving dinner menu.
Today I thought I would put together a list of 15 desserts that I would love to have over the holidays, admittedly many contain pumpkin but there are also apples and pecans for the traditionalists.



1. Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream


2. Pumpkin Cheesecake with Praline Topping


3. Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting


4. Spiced Pumpkin Bars


5. Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce


6."Starbucks" Pumpkin Bread with Struesel Topping


7. Pumpkin Loaf with Frosting


8. Ben Starr's Pumpkin Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Candies Nuts


9. Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Dark Chocolate, Cranberries and White Chocolate Drizzle


10. Slab Apple Pie


11. Harvest Apple Pie

12. Cranberry Apple Crisp


13. Pecan Pies

14. Pecan Pie Cheesecake from Tasty Kitchen



15. Cheesecake Pumpkin Pecan Pie by Parsley Sage Sweet


What are your favorite Thanksgiving desserts? Are you a pumpkin, pecan or apple pie fan? Do your get your pies from a favorite bakery or do you make your own? Or do you skip the pies and make another favorite dessert? 
I would love to know more about your traditions and recipes so please feel free to share!

Have a great day!




Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ben Starr's Pumpkin Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing and Candied Pecans

Good morning! How was your weekend? Relaxing, and uneventful or crazy busy? Mine felt like a little of both and yet I feel rested and ready to tackle all of the things I have planned for the week.




Last week was my birthday and as I mentioned I baked five different cakes and gave them all away. Just so you don't think I didn't have a cake, I actually made a sixth mini- cake for my husband and I to have a piece and I chose Pumpkin Carrot Cake. Carrot cake and pumpkin cake are two of my favorites so I thought a combination would be fabulous and it was.




As Thanksgiving is just a 10 days away I thought you might want to try the Pumpkin Carrot Cake in case you were looking for something a little different for dessert. This cake has the flavor of carrot cake, combined with all of the spicy flavors of the holidays, Add the creamy cream cheese frosting and candies nuts and you will be in heaven!


Pumpkin Carrot Cake

Recipe from: Ben Starr

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare three 8” or 9” round layer cake pans by lightly greasing them with oil. Place a parchment paper round in the bottom of each and then lightly grease them as well. 
The Cake:
6 egg whites
1 cup of white sugar 
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Using the balloon whisk attachment, combine the egg whites, cream of tartar and white sugar, turn the mixer on high and beat for 2-3 minutes until you have stiff peaked meringue. Set aside. 
In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, add:
2 sticks unsalted butter 
1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 egg yolks
11/4 cups pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat the butter on medium speed for about 1 minute until it is smooth and light in color. Slowly add the white and brown sugar. Beat for about 4 minutes or until both sugars are fully incorporates and the mixture is light and fluffy. Make sure to stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. 
Then add the egg yolks one at a time, making sure to incorporate each. Beat until mixture is thick and pale, about 3 minutes. 
Add pumpkin puree and vanilla, beat on medium for 1 minute. 

In a separate bowl, combine:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 Tablespoon ginger

1 Tablespoon  ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon salt


Whisk all dry ingredients, then sift. With the mixer on low, slowly add the mixture to the butter, sugar mixture. Mix until just combined.
Add
2 cups grated carrots

Mix for 1 minute until everything is incorporated.
THEN, add 1/3 of the meringue mixture and gently fold in to the batter to lighten it. Add remaining meringue mixture and gently fold, do not stir or beat aggressively. Fold egg whites until you do not see any white in the mixture.  
Pour mixture into prepared pans, smooth the tops. Then pick pans up about 6 inches off the counter and let them fall, this will break up any air bubbles.
Place cakes in a preheated 350 oven, and throw a few ice cube in the bottom. According to Ben this creates a little steam, which means flatter cakes. Immediately turn oven down to 325 and make for 30 minutes or until knife inserted into the center comes out clean. 

Remove cakes from oven and cool in the pan for 15-30 minutes, then take out of pan and cool completely on rack. 

Cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting 

2 cup butter, softened
2 8 oz packages of cream cheese, softened
1-2 pounds of confectioners sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine butter and cream cheese in stand mixer, beat on medium until light and fluffy. Add confectioners sugar one cup at a time on low speed, then add vanilla. Beat on medium high until light and fluffy. You may need to add a little milk or cream to get it to the consistency that you like.

To assemble the cake, Ben recommends wrapping the cake layers in plastic wrap and then placing in the  freezer for 30 minutes, and then slicing them so they hold up better. 

Slice each cake in half, place one layer on cake plate and frost with a layer of frosting, continue with another layer and then frosting, until each layer is frosted. Frost the cake liberally and then decorate with the chopped nuts.

NOTE: 
This recipe is long and may seem a little complicated. For a video and Ben's excellent instructions visit his blog HERE. In fact, please visit Ben's link for instructions in case I missed something. The cake is a little time consuming but it is so worth it!
Also: I used 6" cake pans for this cake pictured. 

For the Candied Nut Recipe visit HERE


I hope that you have a fabulous week!



Saturday, November 15, 2014

Friday Favorites from Ciao Dominica, 5th and State, Iowa Girl Eats and More

Good morning! Have you been hit by the wave of freezing temps yet? Ours arrived yesterday and honestly, it was shocking. I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt the afternoon before and now this morning I will be bundled in a parka looking like a big puffy marshmallow and having a cup of cocoa to warm up.




I am not ready for Winter, are you? But I guess it is a good reason to stay home and get some indoor things finished before my guests start arriving for the Thanksgiving festivities. 


Image Ciao Dominica


This week my attention was captured by the stunning photos and beauty of the English Countryside, in Cornwall and Devon. Sunday at Ciao Dominica spent her anniversary exploring, shopping, reading and relaxing and with her posts I felt as if I were there too. 




Image Ciao Doninica


Debra at 5th and State is also traveling in the UK this week and her photos of Remembrance Day and the stunning photos of the red poppy installation, " Blood Swept Land and Seas of Red by British artist Paul Cummins are fabulous. Have you heard about the exhibit? Paul Cummins created  888, 246 handmade ceramic poppies, one to represent each soldier lost in WW I and they surround the Tower of London. I would love to have seen it is person as I am sure that it is incredible. For more information, click HERE.
The holidays are fast approaching and although I have my menu planned I am always looking for a few great appetizer ideas for drop in guests or parties. A cheese plate a perfect and easy idea. This week, Iowa Girl Eats posted a great "how-to" of how to assemble a beautiful platter using items from your grocery store, no specialty shops needed, in 10 minutes. It cannot get any easier than that!


Image Tidy Mom


Holiday entertaining should be all about your guests, so an easy and delicious cocktail is always welcome. Tidy Mom made German mulled wine that looks and tastes delicious. This drink always brings back memories of Christmas Eve at my grandparents, they always has a large pot of mulled wine simmering on the stove.

I always like learning new things and I thought this post, How to Make Your Life Better By Sending 5 Emails was interesting.

If you are a Netflix fan, Emily at Cupcakes and Cashmere posted the 10 Best Documentaries on Netflix.. If you are going to be shut in this weekend to flee from the cold you might find something of interest.

I hope that whatever you do this weekend you stay safe and enjoy it!




Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me: 20 Lessons Learned This Year

Good morning! Today is my 48th birthday!




I thought as I have done other years I would share a few lessons/things I have learned this year. This is by no means a comprehensive list but a few things that stood out. 





































Thank you to all who have come by this week to wish me a happy birthday, I appreciate your sentiments and wish that we could get together to share a piece of the five cakes I have been making. So far I have made, a Pumpkin Carrot cake, the Chocolate Heaven cake shown above, and an Italian Cream Cake, I will be posting all of the recipes later. 

Have a great day!




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