Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiday Foods.... It's All Good!.........

The holidays are here once again which gives you time to get into the spirit making menu selections, planning special dishes, shopping for ingredients and during the big days, the aromas of all these foods will once more create an indelible memory for everyone.... Nice, huh?

Had a sort of pre-holiday menu planning meet with my guys and while lots of ideas were thrown about, not a thing was settled. Although we all liked the idea of an all appetizer table with a dessert variety as well.... I love the planning stage of any event and at my house, holiday meals, are an event.... You actually get a pass on anything that's healthy and go right to the main attraction.... 

I've also got a Holiday Bake-Off coming up on the 19th of Dec. so I also need to decide what type of baked good I will be entering for that event so looking all over for inspiration since I want something unique with high flavor plus great presentation. I love a challenge!

Among the ideas I'm considering are some of the following, however, I will always change them around to suit the day and mood. Let's see what you think of these suggestions.....

Carrot Pineapple Nut Cake.- Rich cake with fruits and nut plus a Cream Cheese Frosting.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped pecans
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup pecans chopped (optional, for garnish)
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 2 9 inch round pans.
Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Make a well in the center and add sugar, oil, apple sauce, eggs and vanilla. Mix with wooden spoon until smooth. (DO NOT USE ELECTRIC MIXER) Stir in carrots, pecans, raisins and pineapple.
Split evenly between both 9 inch pans. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. The center will be soft. Allow to cool.
To make the frosting: Cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the confectioners sugar and beat until creamy.
Sweet Coconut Cake.- No explanation needed. This gives you three tiers so you get a high cake.

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sifted cake flour, not self-rising, plus more for pans
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Coconut Cream Filling

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • milk (as needed)
  • 11 ounces (about 3 3/4 cups) sweetened angel-flake coconut

  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange two racks in the center of the oven. Line the bottom of three 6-by-2-inch buttered round cake pans with parchment paper. Dust the bottom and the sides of the cake pans with flour, and tap out any excess. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set the bowl aside.

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-low speed until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar, and keep beating until the mixture is fluffy and light in color, about 3 minutes. Gradually drizzle in egg yolks, beating on medium-low speed between each addition until the batter is no longer slick. Beat until the mixture is fluffy again, about another 3 minutes.

  • Alternate adding flour mixture and sour cream to the batter, a little of each at a time, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Beat in vanilla. Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes, rotating the pans in the oven, if needed, for even browning. Transfer cake pans to wire racks to cool, about 15 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, and let cool completely on racks, tops up.

  • To assemble, remove parchment paper from the bottoms of cakes. Split each layer in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Set aside the prettiest dome; it will be used for the final layer. Place another domed layer, dome side down, on the serving platter. Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of flaked coconut over the cake. Spread a generous 1/2 cup coconut-cream filling over coconut flakes. Repeat sprinkling and spreading process on the remaining layers until all but the reserved domed layer are used. Top cake with the reserved domed layer. Transfer cake to the refrigerator to firm for 1 hour. Remove from the refrigerator, and frost the outside of cake with seven-minute frosting. Sprinkle remaining coconut flakes all over cake while frosting is soft; do not refrigerate. Cake can be left out at room temperature for several days.
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Chocolate-Espresso Cake.- Amazing, satisfying and perfect!

    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for cake pan
    • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably 70 percent cacao, chopped
    • 6 large eggs, separated, room temperature
    • 1 cup sugar, divided
    • 3 tablespoons instant-espresso powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
    • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Invert bottom of a 9-inch springform pan (so cake will slide easily onto serving plate) and line with a parchment round; butter parchment. Melt butter and chocolate, stirring until smooth, in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water.

    • Beat together egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Add espresso powder and salt; beat until combined, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and melted-chocolate mixture; beat about 1 minute more.

    • In another bowl, beat egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy. Increase speed to high; gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Fold into chocolate mixture in 3 batches. Transfer batter to pan and bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cake cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Remove side of pan; transfer cake to a serving plate. 
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  • I need to decide and plan, don't like running late. The rest of the menu is now coming along and we will be ready!  Looking forward to the preparation of our Holiday Meal. Wishing you and yours the very best of the Season.....

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