This week's Project Pastry Queen was chosen by Emily of A Gilt Nutmeg. It's actually supposed to be mini cinnamon apple loaves with a Calvados glaze, but like usual I adapted it. I don't have mini loaf pans, and I didn't want to buy disposable ones. However, I think this would be awesome for holiday gifts and am going to keep this one in mind. I put this cake into my bundt pan and made one big cake instead.
This is a really good apple cake recipe. It's very flavorful and (sorry for those of you who hate this word) moist. The original recipe calls for pecans to be mixed into the batter. Instead, I placed them at the bottom of the bundt pan, sprinkled a few tablespoons of brown sugar on top of them, and then poured the batter on top. I love doing this because you get a candied nut on the top of your cake. If you don't like nuts in your cake, just omit them. Also, I didn't have any calvados (apple brandy) for the glaze, so I subbed it with 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. It was a very good glaze!
I adapted this for high altitude, so if you want the regular recipe check out A Gilt Nutmeg
. Be sure to check out the Project Pastry Queen
website to see everyone's take on this week's recipe.
Cinnamon Apple Cake Recipe (High Altitude)
Print this recipe
1 cup pecans
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Scant 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (just a little less)
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups cored, peeled, and diced apples (about 3 apples)Glaze:
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 tablespoon Calvados (apple brandy, optional)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a bundt pan with Baker's Joy.
Chop your nuts and sprinkle them on the bottom of your bundt pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar over them. In a large bowl, combine the oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla and mix until combined. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt and stir until incorporated. Add in the flour and once it is all combined, fold in the apples.
Pour the batter over the nuts/sugar in the pan and place in your preheated oven. Bake for 60-70 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for about 20 minutes before flipping the cake out of the pan.
To make the glaze, in a saucepan, melt the butter and add the brown sugar, corn syrup, Calvados, and cinnamon. Simmer the mixture over medium-low heat until it thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Spoon it over the cake.
Source: The Pastry Queen
Emily from Ruf Love
picked this week's recipe for Project Pastry Queen: Dulce de Leche Aborio Rice Pudding. You're never going to see a lot of rice recipes on this blog because I'm not a big fan. Thankfully the hubs isn't either. When we have Mexican food, there are no sides. And we don't care for Asian food, so there's not a lot of rice in the house. In fact, pretty much the only time I cook rice is when the dogs get sick and they need something bland. However, we do like risotto...if you put enough cheese in it, I'll like almost anything. This pudding has great flavor, but I'm not a huge fan due to the rice. If you like rice pudding, you'll probably love this recipe though. I'm taking this to my parent's house for dinner this evening, and I suspect they will love it...those rice-eating fools. The dulce de leche component is incredible. It tastes very similar to caramel, and you can make your own
from a can of sweetened condensed milk.
When I was a kid, my parents used to take us to our aunt and uncle's house for the weekend from time to time. As an adult, I realize what a lifesaver this had to be for them. Jim and Judy were great, and they would spoil us...but they wouldn't take any of our crap either. I remember she served us tapioca pudding once in the little cups. I knew that I didn't like rice, and this looked a lot like rice. As soon as she left the kitchen, I put it in the trash. She came back in, looked at me, and asked where it was. I, of course, said that I ate it but she wasn't buying it. She found it in the trash and then she made me eat it (it wasn't dirty). I think it took me about 30 minutes to eat that dang tapioca pudding. I haven't had tapioca or rice pudding since. I'm trying to be a good sport today though.
I made a few changes to the original recipe: I substituted half and half for the cream in the pudding mixture, trying to cut down on some calories. Instead of using vanilla beans (because I didn't want to waste them if I didn't like it), I used one tablespoon of vanilla extract, and I didn't use amaretto. I used one teaspoon of almond extract instead. For the full recipe, check out Emily's blog
, and make sure to go to the Project Pastry Queen website
to see everyone's take on the recipe.
I love Waldorf salads, so when it was my turn to pick the recipe for this week's Project Pastry Queen, I was drawn to this recipe. The special things about this recipe include the fried wonton strips and the rosemary vinaigrette. I have to say that I'm a huge fan of rosemary, and I have a lot of it right now. It's the one herb that thrived during the winter inside our house. This dressing is a win. It has the hint of rosemary, and it's sweet and tangy. The recipe calls for white balsamic vinegar; I didn't have that, so I used regular balsamic vinegar. Since I've never had white balsamic vinegar, I guessed that it wasn't as strong as regular, and I halved the amount. I'm glad I did. I think that if I would have put in the full amount of regular balsamic vinegar, it would have been overwhelming.
The other thing I did different is I candied my pecans. This is really easy to do, and it's a treat I love in Waldorf salads. If you want to do this, that recipe is below. If not, you should toast your pecans to bring out the flavor, as the original recipe indicates. If you don't have pecans, walnuts would work great, too. The other thing I normally love in Waldorf salads is celery. That's not in this recipe, but I would add it next time. You also could add some chicken in and make it a full dinner.
The recipe calls for frying the wontons/egg roll wrappers in olive oil, but olive oil is expensive. I fried mine in vegetable oil, and they turned out great. Honestly, this adds a bit of time to the recipe, and I don't think it adds that much other than the wow factor. I would skip it next time unless I was trying to impress someone. You definitely should take the time to make the dressing though. It's great and much better than you'd get from a bottle! Be sure to check out Project Pastry Queen
to see everyone else's take on this great recipe. Waldorf Salad
Makes 4 servingsPrint this recipe
Fried Wonton Strips
4 sheets packaged wonton strips or egg roll wrappers
Olive or vegetable oil for frying (be careful!)Rosemary Vinaigrette
1/3 cup fresh rosemary leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 medium-sized red onion
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2-1 cup extra virgin olive oilSalad
1/2 cup pecans
3 sweet-tart apples, such as Braeburn, Medina, or Granny Smith
4 cups salad greens
1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheeseTo make the fried wonton strips, use kitchen scissors or a knife to cut the wonton sheets into 3/4 inch strips. Pour 1/2 inch of oil into a deep frying pan or skillet and heat over medium-high. When the oil is hot, pinch off a piece of wonton and drop it in the oil. You'll know the oil is ready when the strip sizzles. It should brown in 8-10 seconds. Using tongs, flip the strips to the other side and fry for another 8-10 seconds. You can fry several at a time. Adjust the heat or time if your strips get too brown. Place the fried strips on a paper towel to drain.
To make the vinaigrette, blend the rosemary, garlic, onion, mustard, honey, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender for about 15 to 20 seconds or until smooth. Pour the oil through the feed tube or opening in a slow stream while the machine is running. Start with 1/2 cup, and if it's too thick, add more. Blend until it emulsifies; this shouldn't take much longer than it takes to add the oil.
To make the salad: (If you're toasting the nuts) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast for 7-9 minutes until golden brown. Cool the nuts and then coarsely chop.
(If you want the nuts candied) Place a silpat or parchment paper on a small baking sheet. Pour 1/4 cup sugar in a nonstick small skillet. Heat over medium high until the sugar melts. This takes about 5-10 minutes, and you'll want to keep an eye on it. Once it's melted and light brown in color, add the nuts and stir to cover them with the sugar. Once the nuts are covered, dump them on the baking sheet and quickly use two forks to separate the nuts from each other. Let cool.
Core and slice the apples into bite-sized pieces. In a large bowl, add the greens, apples, nuts, and blue cheese. Toss gently. If you're eating all of it immediately, pour half of the dressing on top and toss again (if desired). I personally like to dip my salad into dressing so I didn't do this step. Only dress what you'll be eating immediately or the greens will get soggy. Transfer to serving plates and top with the fried wonton strips. Leftover dressing will keep in the refrigerator for three days.
Source: The Pastry Queen
That title is just a fancy way of saying peanut butter cupcakes. If you love peanut butter, these are the cupcakes for you. This is a peanut butter cake with some chocolate thrown into the middle and a peanut butter frosting. Think inside out peanut butter cup. If you aren't from the South or you're apparently uneducated on various forms of candy/fudge (like me) and have never heard of penuche, it's a peanut fudge candy (yes, I had to Wikipedia it because I had zero clue...and I still
don't know how to pronounce it).
This penuche frosting is good...it tastes like peanut butter caramel fudge. Winner in my book! Although, next time I would pair the cupcake with a chocolate frosting for a better contrast in flavors. I would do this cake with chocolate frosting and this frosting with a chocolate cake. Hmmm...so many options...must start baking. The cake is nice and moist and has a tender crumb. It must have been good because I ate an entire cupcake while
I was taking pictures. Literally--the camera was in my right hand and the cupcake was being devoured while in my left hand. I guess that's one good thing about having a crappy point and shoot camera! Jen of Sweet Morris
picked this recipe for this week's Project Pastry Queen, and it came along at a great time. I was just thinking that I needed to post another cupcake recipe on here. My recipe is for high altitude, so check out Jen's blog for the regular recipe if you live pretty much anywhere else in the world. Ah, the joys of living at a mile high. The recipe says it makes 12 cupcakes, but I got 18 out of it. It also calls for a bittersweet chocolate bar cut into pieces, but I was all out so I used semisweet chocolate chips. I also added an extra 1/2 cup of powdered sugar to my frosting because I wanted it to be thicker. These changes are noted in my recipe below. Also, check out Project Pastry Queen
to see everyone else's take on these delicious peanut butter cupcakes.
Peanut Butter Cupcakes at High Altitude
Makes 18 cupcakesPrint this recipe
For the Cake:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup bittersweeet or semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 18 muffin cups with liners and set aside. Using a mixer with the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer), combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Mix until incorporated. Add the butter, peanut butter, milk, and vanilla and mix until combined. Add in vanilla and eggs one at a time until well incorporated. Fill the cupcake liners 1/3 of the way with the batter. Add in a few chocolate chips (about 10-12) and top with more batter until the cups are 2/3 filled. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes and cool at least 5 additional minutes before frostingFor the Frosting:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup milk
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, peanut butter, milk, brown sugar, and salt. Stir to combine, bring to a low boil, and let it boil for 1.5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and let sit for 30 minutes (but not longer). After 30 minutes, stir in the vanilla and powdered sugar, pour into a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and mix on medium speed until smooth and creamy. This will take a couple of minutes. At this point, I put the frosting in a piping bag and placed it in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes until it was cool. This helped it to stiffen so it would keep its shape when I piped it on the cupcakes.
I think I might get kicked out of Project Pastry Queen
because I adapt everything...but you have to make what you know you and your family will like, right? The original recipe is called Jubilation Granola Chews, and you can find the real, probably healthier recipe here
. I wanted to make my granola bars a little more train mix-y since I love that stuff. And then I substituted Biscoff for the peanut butter.
If you're not a food blog reader, you've probably never heard of Biscoff. I never had, and I just bought my first jar yesterday. All I can say is wow. This stuff is the nectar of the gods. It's hard to explain the taste, but it's a sweeter peanut butter and it kind of tastes like a cookie. Apparently Delta used to serve Biscoff cookies on their flights. It's super good, and it's worth the $5/jar in my opinion. Unfortunately, you can't really taste it in these bars, so I don't know if I'd use it again in these. If you don't want to use/buy the Biscoff, you can just use peanut butter. Nutella probably would be good, too.
These bars are pretty easy to make, and they don't take a lot of time. You'll need a candy thermometer for when you cook the sugar mixture. Even though my bars have chocolate and candy in them, I figure they have to be a little healthier than processed granola bars--at least I know all the ingredients. You could add anything you want into these, too. This recipe is easily adjustable. I also halved this recipe because I really didn't need 16 bars. Biscoff Trail Mix Granola Bars
Print this recipe
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup honey
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup Biscoff (or peanut butter) 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup almonds, sliced or slivered
1 cup peanuts
1 cup raisins
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup M&Ms
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 9x13 pan.
Spread the oats, almonds, and peanuts on a large baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes until lightly browned. Stir intermittently.
In a large bowl, combine the raisins, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and M&Ms. When the oats/nuts are done browning, add them to the bowl.
In a medium saucepan, mix together sugar, honey, corn syrup, and water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, reduce to medium, and cook until your candy thermometer registers 240 degrees (the soft-ball stage), about 8-10 minutes. Stir in the Biscoff, butter, salt, and vanilla.
Pour the sugar mixture over the oat/candy mixture and stir to combine everything. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan and press down into the pan with your hands or a piece of plastic wrap if it sticks to your hands. Let cool for 1 hour before slicing into bars (about 4 1/2 by 1 1/2 inches).
Source: Adapted from The Pastry Queen
This isn't the Project Pastry Queen recipe for the week, but we're celebrating my Mom's birthday today, so I made these instead. I'm going to serve them with homemade vanilla bean ice cream and chocolate sauce
. If you want to see this week's true PPQ post, which is a frangelico-hazelnut fruit tart, check this
out. I'm sure it's good, but I thought my mom would like these cookies better.
If you like chocolate and nuts, you'll like these cookies. Making these cookies is very different from the normal process of cookie making. You melt the chocolate and butter, let it cool, and then add it to the eggs/sugar and mix until it's thick and glossy. Also, there is not a lot of flour in these--only 1/3 cup. If you don't like/are allergic to nuts, you should probably just skip these cookies. The nuts really help hold the cookie dough together, and I don't think they'd do well without the nuts. All in all, it's a great cookie! Triple-Threat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Print this recipe
Makes about 4 dozen
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped walnuts
6 tablespoons butter
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet or milk chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and arrange the nuts on a baking sheet in a single layer. Toast the nuts for about 7-9 minutes until golden brown. Cool.
In a saucepan, melt butter and chopped chocolates over low heat, stirring frequently so they don't burn. Remove from heat and let cool.
In a mixing bowl, combine eggs and sugar and beat on medium speed using the paddle attachment until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and melted chocolate. Beat on medium speed until the dough is thick and glossy. Add in the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix just until incorporated. Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips. Let the dough rest for about 20 minutes so it's easier to scoop.
Drop about 2-3 tablespoons full of cookie dough on greased baking sheets. Using wet fingers, push down slightly on top of cookies to make them a little flatter (you don't need to squish them, though). Bake for 10-12 minutes until the tops begin to crack and they look glossy. Cool for a few minutes on the sheet before removing them.
This week's Project Pastry Queen
was chosen by Emily of A Gilt Nutmeg. She chose the tropical carrot cake with coconut-cream cheese frosting. This is an intense, three-layer cake, but it's a great special occasion cake. Easter maybe? If you like coconut and carrot cake, you'll love this cake. I love the addition of the macadamia nuts that give it some texture, and it has great flavor. It's also very moist. This isn't my favorite carrot cake recipe, but I do like it a lot. However, this is not your typical cream cheese frosting. It's not very sweet. I added more powdered sugar than called for, and it's still not very sweet. I would use my go-to cream cheese frosting recipe next time. I modified the recipe for high altitude, so if you're at a normal altitude, check out this post
for the regular recipe.
Another note, I have never used or heard of sweetened cream of coconut (Coco Lopez) before. I did some research, and it's in a can in the drink section of the grocery store. Super Target sells it in the baking aisle. If you can't find it at the store, like me, try your liquor store in the mixers section. Mine had it and saved me from having to make another trip. Tropical Carrot Cake at High Altitude (5280 feet)
Print this recipe
1 cup macadamia nuts
3 cups flour
3 cups sugar
2 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 3/4 cups canola oil
2 cups shredded carrots
20 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup sweetened cream of coconut
Coconut-Cream Cheese Frosting
3 8-ounce packages of cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 sweetened cream of coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the nuts on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast for 7-9 minutes until golden brown. Cool.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut, and nuts. In another bowl, combine the other ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
Pour the batter into three 9-inch cake pans that have been sprayed with Baker's Joy (or you can line the pans with parchment paper, grease with butter, and dust with flour). Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let cool completely.
To make the frosting, combine cream cheese with powdered sugar into your mixer with the paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer). Mix on medium speed until combined (about a minute or two). Add in the rest of the ingredients and continue mixing until combined and lumps are removed.
To frost, place a small bit (about 2 tablespoons) of frosting to the serving plate and place the first cake layer on top, bottom side down (this small bit of frosting ensures the cake won't slide off the serving plate). Spread a generous layer of frosting on top of this layer. Place the second layer on top, spread more frosting on top, and place the third layer on, bottom side up (so you have an level top). Frost the top and sides of the cake with an even layer of frosting and decorate. Store in the fridge for up to four days but serve at room temperature.
One of the fun things about starting a blog is getting to join a group I've been reading about for a year. Project Pastry Queen
(PPQ) was started in the summer of 2010 by Shwanda of Confections of a Foodie Bride
. PPQ's goal is to cook through The Pastry Queen cookbook. They have about 40 recipes left, and I'm excited to join. This week was a wildcard, so I chose to make Texas Tortilla Soup.
I have a confession to make: I've never had tortilla soup. I never order it at Mexican restaurants because I save room for chips, salsa, and queso. I never have it at the chain restaurants because I figure it's probably not that good. So this was my first experience. It's good! I halved the recipe since there's just two of us, and I added some extra cumin, a couple teaspoons of lime juice, and about 1/2 teaspoon of oregano. I had to heighten up the flavor because I made it waaaayyyy too spicy. The original recipe calls for a dried ancho chili pepper, but I didn't have one and didn't want to buy it. So I used canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. The substitution was great, but please don't be like me and add in a full pepper and an extra 1/2 teaspoon of the sauce when you're making half of the recipe. Holy cow was it hot--like burn your lips hot. I ended up straining it to get some of the seeds out and then added more seasonings so it tasted like something other than hot. It ended up with good flavor, but it was still really spicy.
I made tortilla strips for the garnish, and those are really easy. Just cut a tortilla into 1/2 inch strips. Toss with a little olive oil, sprinkle salt over them, and bake at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes, flipping the strips halfway through. They're done when golden brown. I used flour tortillas because that's what I had, but I think corn tortillas would taste more like typical tortilla strips.
The full recipe for the soup is on Amanda's site
, so be sure to check it out! In spite of the heat, it was really good. I'll definitely make it again and be much more careful about the peppers. I can't wait to make the next recipe out of The Pastry Queen!