Chai Apple Cake + Lemon Ginger Frosting

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 If you are needing a little indulgence, this cake will do the trick.  Originally, I wanted this cake to be a bread but after making 3 different test breads (because each wasn't just right) it seemed like the bread was telling me it wanted to be cake.  It would also be good as cupcakes.  I like cupcakes.  

Chai Apple Cake

1 cup milk

2 chai tea bags

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons cardamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 1/2 cups cake flour

1 stick butter. softened

1 1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons white vinegar, separated

2 apples, peeled, cored, diced

Lemon Ginger Frosting

1 stick butter, softened

grated zest of one lemon

grated fresh ginger of about 1 inch root

4 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease two cake pans, 8 or 9 inch rounds and set aside.

For cake, Heat milk until hot but not boiling and brew a strong tea using both chai tea bags, about 5 minutes.  Add 1 teaspoon white vinegar and let stand 5 minutes.  It is now chai flavored buttermilk.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.   Set aside.  In another bowl, mix butter, sugar, eggs 1 teaspoon vinegar and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients and chai butter milk.  Lastly add apples.  Pour evenly into prepared baking rounds.  Bake about 40 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Allow cake to cool 10 minutes in pans and then turn out to cool completely.

In the mean time, make the Frosting.

For Frosting, with an electric hand or stand mixer, combine all ingredients.

Frost the cake.

Baked Apples / Ginger Whipped Cream

Went apple picking at Apple Ridge Orchards in New Hampton, NY so watch out for more apple recipes than you probably want.

This is a healthy dessert if you go without the whipped cream (but why would you want to do that?)  I think these could also be suitable for breakfast with yogurt and granola.  I prefer whipped cream not to be sweet but feel free to add more to your liking.  Along with the whipped cream, I served these with red zinger maple syrup.

Baked Apples

4 apples, washed and dried

cinnamon

nutmeg

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Remove stem and core apples.  Peel apples so they look like they are wearing vertical peel stripes.  Dust will cinnamon and nutmeg.  Place right side up on baking dish.  Add about 1/4 inch of water.  Bake uncovered about 40 minutes.  (I like to flip mine half way through and add a pinch of water if all of it has evaporated at this point for more even baking.) Remove from oven and serve warm.

Ginger Whipped Cream

8oz heavy (whipping) cream

2 teaspoons powdered sugar (optional)

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (i love a good micro plane)

In a bowl, whisk cream until it almost begins to stiffen, about 5 minutes.  Add sugar and ginger.  Whisk until cream forms little peaks.

Fire Cookies

I put hot sauce on just about everything so it was only a matter of time before I started craving my desserts with a little kick.  Serve these delightful little ones with milk.

Chocolate Cayenne Cookies

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch more for sprinkling

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup canola oil

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine dry ingredients.  Add oil, eggs and vanilla.  Stir until evenly mixed.  Chill dough for 2 hours.  Scoop into spheres of a size of your choice.  (I aimed for a generous tablespoon.)  Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.  Arrange on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees about 12 minutes.

 

Spiced Peach Muffins

The peaches are the best part of these muffins with the baking spices bringing out their natural sweetness.

Spiced Peach Muffins

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup oat bran

1 1/2 cup flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cardamon

1/4 teaspoon all spice

1 cup milk

2 peaches, pitted, peeled and chopped

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix butter, egg, sugars, lemon zest and vanilla until combined.  Add dry ingredients and milk.  Stir in peaches. Spoon into papered or greased muffin pans about 2/3 full.  Bake about 18 minutes or until cake tester tests clean.  Remove from tins and cool.

Mixed Berry Crisp

I'm used to apple crisps like the favorite one my mom made when I was small.  It's very simple and sweet (but not too sweet.)  We're not quite at apple season so berries it is.  Serve with whipped cream or ice cream for dessert or on its own for breakfast.

Mixed Berry Crisp

1 package raspberries

1 package blackberries

1 package blueberries

1/2 stick butter, cut in pieces

3/4 cup oats

1/2 cup all purpose flour  (or whole wheat)

1/4 cup light brown sugar

pinch salt

dash cinnamon

zest of one lemon

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Wash and dry berries.  Place berries in baking dish (8x8" square, pie or small single serving dishes ) and set aside.

In a bowl mix butter, oats, flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and lemon zest until it comes together.  It works best to mix by hand.

Cover berries with oat mixture and bake 30 minutes.

 

cherry peach galette

Yay for stone fruit!  You can use this pie crust or the one provided which is not sweet and very buttery.  A galette is a free form pie.

Buttery Pie Crust

3 cups flour

2 very cold sticks butter, cut in pieces

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup water, or so

egg yolk and milk for wash

Mix flour and salt in a large bowl.  Combine pieces of butter with fingers until it resembles a coarse crumb.  Slowly add water and form into a flat rectangle.  Chill for 2 hours.

Stone Fruit Filling

4 peaches, pitted, peeled and chopped

2 cups cherries, pitted and cut in half

1 lemon, zest and juice

1 tablespoon sugar

Toss peaches and cherries with sugar, zest of 1 lemon and a light squeeze of its juice.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and roll out dough onto a large rectangle and place on baking sheet.   Pile fruit in center leaving a border.  Fold dough border over to create galette.   For the wash, whisk egg yolk and a splash of milk together in small dish and brush over crust.  Bake about 25 minutes.

Piña Colada Cupcakes

National Piña Colada day was a couple days ago so I'm a little late.  The cupcake is pineapple and the frosting is coconut.  Makes 30 cup cakes.

Piña Colada Cupcakes

1 stick butter

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 cup buttermilk

1 tin pineapple rings with 1/2 the juice, blended in a blender

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 1/2 cups cake flour

 

Coconut Frosting

1 stick butter, very soft

4 cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons coconut extract

1/4 cup lite coconut milk

For cupcakes:  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix butter and sugars. (I like to use a handheld mixer.)   Add egg.  Add remaining wet ingredients.  Then continue with dry.  Prepare cupcake pan with paper cups and fill half way.  Bake about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool completely.

For Frosting:  Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until well incorporated and smooth.

Ice cupcakes.

Nutella Banana Tart

i'll never say no to nutella. Nutella Banana Tart

1 crust recipe

1 cup heavy cream

1 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup nutella hazelnut chocolate spread

2 banana, peeled and sliced slightly on the bias

Roll out crust for 9 inch pan and bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until light golden brown.  Cool.

Place chocolate chips and nutella in a bowl and set aside. In a small sauce pan, heat heavy cream just until it begins to boil or simmer.  Immediately pour over chocolate chips and nutella.  Whisk, whisk, whisk until combined, about 5 minutes.  Let mixture cool a bit and pour into crust.  Chill until set and top with banana slices just before serving.

Peachy Hand Pies

A hand pie is an individually portioned pie requiring no utensils, only a hand to eat.   It's pie for one and in the case of this recipe it's pie for one for seven.

Peach Hand Pies

1 prepared crust recipe, plus flour for rolling

4oz cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg yolk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla or bourbon

2 peaches, peeled, pitted and diced

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Roll dough out on floured surface and cut into 5 inch circles.  Set aside.

In a bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla or bourbon.  Smear 1 tablespoon or so of this cream cheese mixture onto one side of each dough circle.  Top with 1 tablespoon of diced peaches.  Fold circle in half and gently press edges to seal.  Cut vents in top.  If you like brush with egg wash (2 tablespoons milk + egg yolk) for crispy golden brownness or milk wash (milk only, which is what I did) to keep them light and moist. Bake 25-30 minutes (until edges are golden).

Pie Crust

Summer time, like any time, is great for pie.   The farmer's market is full of pie worthy fruit.  This pie crust takes no time to make but will lend itself to many applications for tasty summery desserts.

I'm pretty flexible when it comes to making pie crust.  I usually start with a heaping cup of flour and a stick of butter, going from there with sugar, milk or any other appropriate add ins.  This dough is easily altered.   Dough should be pliable and smooth, not sticky.  I recommend doubling the recipe and having a portion to keep in the freezer should you have a pie emergency or if needing a top layer for your pie.   Look forward to Peachy Handpies and Nutella Banana Tart posts coming up.

Crust

1 heaping cup of flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1 stick of cold butter cut into small pieces

1 tablespoon milk

In a bowl, mix dry ingredients.  Using your fingers or a pastry blender combine butter and dry ingredients. (You might as well skip the pastry blender and just use your hands, it's much easier.)  Add milk to help dough come together.  Shape into disc and wrap with plastic wrap.  Chill for 2 hours. Dough will then be ready to be rolled out and become crust.

Sea Salt Caramels

This recipe leaves you with sixty something pieces of caramel.  Plan accordingly.  I can't be trusted around that much candy so mine went to work with me. Sea Salt Caramels

2 1/2 cups cane syrup (corn syrup is ok too)

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

3 tablespoons butter, softened

sea salt (think large coarse crystals like the maldon type)

Line a 9x9 baking pan with parchment paper and grease.  Paper should hang over the sides of the pan.  Add all ingredients excluding sea salt into a large pot.  Cook over medium low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Cook until candy thermometer reads 248 degrees.  Carefully pour into papered baking dish.  Let set about 4 hours.

Once cooled and set, remove paper and caremel, placing each onto cutting board.  Sprinkle both sides generously with sea salt.  Grease knife so caramel doesn't stick when cutting.  Cut into small pieces and wrap with parchment paper or candy wrappers.  Store in air tight container in a cool place.

Lavender Apple Upside-down Cake

For christmas last year, Miranda from sundrymornings.com gave me, among other delightful treats, lavender sugar.  Which is dried lavender flowers combined with granulated sugar.   Brilliant.  To make your own, mix 1 cup sugar with 1 1/2 teaspoons dried lavender.  If you don't have any lavender or lavender sugar on hand, you can substitute with granulated or brown sugar for this recipe. Lavender Apple Upside-down Cake

1 stick butter, softened

1/4 cup lavender sugar (see above)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter.  In a bowl, mix lavender sugar and cinnamon and spread over bottom of greased baking dish.  Layer apples slices in bottom of greased, sugared baking dish.  This will be the top of the cake when finished so feel free to get creative with your apple arrangement. Set aside.

In  a mixing bowl, combine remaining butter and sugar.  Add remaining wet ingredients and dry ingredients. Pour and evenly spread batter over apples. Bake 50 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes.  Run a knife along edges and carefully invert onto flat surface.  Cake is now an upside-down cake.

berry cookies

Is it obvious how much I like cookies?

Berry and Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

3 cups flour

1 cup raspberries or blackberries, chopped

1 bag white chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla.  Add baking soda, salt and flour.  Add berries and chips.  Use a spoon or scoop to portion dough onto greased cookie sheet.  Bake about 12 minutes.

my favorite cookies

I cannot and do not resist these.  I love these cookies so much I had them on the dessert table at my wedding.  I call them crackle cookies as I think it sounds better. (although, crackle refers to a noise and these are soft and chewy.  The only sounds made while eating these are usually contented mmhmm's.)

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup all purpose flour

-

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar (for rolling in, post chilling, pre baking)

Stir all ingredients together.  Cover and chill dough 3 hours or overnight to firm dough.  After chilling, heat oven to 350 degrees.  Use a spoon or scoop to portion dough and form into ball with hands.  Roll in powdered sugar until heavily coated.  Place on greased cookie sheet and bake immediately, about 10 minutes.   (Only roll dough in powder right before baking.  Ever seen these with matted, sad sugar powdering?   The sugar gets damp and transparent if it sits too long on the dough.) Remove from oven and cool.

cookies for monkeys (and for me)

Once again, found myself with bananas past their prime.  Usually I make banana bread but it was time for something sweeter.  These cookies are extra fluffy and cake-like.  What do you make with your over ripe bananas?

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks butter, softened

1 cup light brown sugar

3/4 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 bananas, peeled and mashed

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 whole wheat flour

1 1/2 all purpose flour

1 bag semi sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease cookie sheet and set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk butter, sugar and vanilla.  Add eggs, then bananas.  Add flour, baking soda and salt.  Add chocolate chips.  Drop tablespoon sized portions of dough onto greased cookie sheet, each about an inch or more apart.  Bake 10-12 minutes. Edges will be golden brown.

pear bleu puff tarts

I wanted to make homemade poptarts and had a puff pastry dough in the freezer. Perfect. I also made a raspberry version.

Pear and Bleu Cheese Poptarts

1 package puff pastry dough, thawed

1/4 cup mascarpone

1/4 cup bleu cheese

two pears halved, cored, sliced

honey

flour for rolling out dough

egg yolk and milk (for the wash)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Gently roll out pastry on floured surface very thin. Use a pastry or pizza cutter to cut poptart squares. (Mine were huge portions at 5" x 6". I recommend smaller portions)

In a bowl, mix bleu and mascarpone cheeses and smear on what will be the bottom pastry square. Layer with slices of pear. Drizzle with honey. With a pastry brush or finger, brush small amount of water along the pastry edges. Create a sandwich with another square. Press along edges to seal. Repeat with remaining squares until you have all your little poptarts sealed up and ready for baking. Poke holes in top layer with a fork.

Mix egg yolk and about a tablespoon of milk together for the egg wash. This will create a pretty golden brown glaze. Lightly brush each square with egg wash. Bake for about 20 minutes.  They will be golden, flaky puffs of heaven.

raspberry puff tarts

I couldn't make up my mind the other day when I was making puff pastry pop tarts if I wanted raspberry or pear so I made both.  Here is the recipe for the raspberry ones.

Raspberry Poptarts

1 container fresh raspberries, washed and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup mascarpone

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 egg yolks (one for the filling and one for the wash)

1 puff pastry sheets, thawed and rolled out super thin

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl combine mascarpone, sugar and egg yolk.  Add raspberries.  Set aside.

Cut pastry into desired sized squares.  (Even number since we'll be using one square as the base and sandwiching the filling with another square as the top.)

Smear raspberry filling onto half the squares, leaving a border.  With a finger or pastry brush dab a bit of water around the edge of every square. This will help the sides adhere to one another.  Make little snadwiches or pockets, press all edges with fork or finger to seal well.  (no one wants a leaky poptart) Poke holes in top of each.

Mix one egg yolk with a dash of milk for the wash.  Brush each square with the egg milk wash using a pastry brush.  This will create a pretty golden brown puff once baked.  Bake 15-20 minutes.

Mini Margarita Cookies

I like cocktails.  I like cookies.  Perfect.  Who doesn't?  What other drinks could be good cookie flavors?

Margarita Cookies

1 stick butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoons tequila

zest of two limes

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups flour

Mix all ingredients.  Chill until dough is firm.  Roll out on floured surface and cut out cookies.  Position on greased baking sheet.  I sprinkled half the batch with sea salt and half with sugar (I will not be icing.)  Bake about ten minutes at 350 degrees.

Cheers.