Monday, October 25, 2010

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

The last time I made Gooey Butter Cake, I was torn between different recipes, not being able to decide which was the REAL Gooey Butter Cake recipe. After trying several cakes, I've finally concluded that it doesn't matter which one is the ORIGINAL because I love all of them! And of course, you know I had to try some of the variations too! Kristin suggested trying this pumpkin variation, which is a Paula Deen recipe. Since I love anything pumpkin and I LOVE all of Miss Paula's recipes, I figured this falls into the "how can this not be good?" category.
 And speaking of gooey butter cakes, I was lucky to receive a few emails from Michael, a Gooey Butter Cake enthusiast from St Louis. He offered a recipe which is almost exactly the same as Miss Paula's, and he was happy to give a few tips to make your gooey butter cake even better. Thanx again Michael!
So, I guess the only thing left to be decided is:
Which gooey butter cake variation would YOU like to try??

1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 tablespoons butter, melted

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (15-ounce) canned pumpkin
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to over bake as the center should be a little gooey.
Serve with fresh whipped cream.

For a Pineapple Gooey Butter Cake: Instead of the pumpkin, add a drained 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple to the cream cheese filling. Proceed as directed above.

For a Banana Gooey Butter Cake: Prepare cream cheese filling as directed, beating in 2 ripe bananas instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.

For a Peanut Butter Gooey Butter Cake: Use a chocolate cake mix. Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter to the cream cheese filling instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.

Btw, if you'd like to compare Paula Deen's plain Gooey Butter Cake recipe with the one I received from Michael, just take one of the eggs from the filling and add it to the crust, and change the vanilla from a teaspoon to a tablespoon. The rest of the recipe is exactly the same! 

Here are Michael's Tips / Tricks to "Make it even better":
1.  Use a disposable aluminum cake pan from the store.  I have used glass, metal, and various types of 9X13 pans.  The varying widths and baking durations make a difference (see tip 3) The disposables, seem to do the best for consistency.  Plus you can get one with a lid that makes your transport easier.  Lastly, you can just leave the pan and not worry about getting your pan back at the end of the event.
2.  When you spread the thick batter (bottom layer) on the bottom of the pan, make a mound in the middle and taper the batter out to the edges so it is paper thin at the outermost edge.  Most people make a nice even layer and therefore most Gooey butter cakes have thick outside crusts after it bakes.  By having paper thin edges, there is minimal crust.  You may have too large of a mound in the middle, so don't feel afraid to scrape some of the batter off and not use it.
3.  When I say don't over bake, I mean it.  You may have as little as 1 or 2 minutes between too gooey (under baked) and not gooey enough (over baked).  I usually set my timer for about 25 minutes and then for the last 10 minutes I monitor the cake and rotate it to ensure even baking.  May rotate it 180 degrees or 90 degrees depending on how and where the brown areas are.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Apple Cider Doughnuts

When I couldn't decide what recipe to make, I received a few requests for Apple Cider Doughnuts. Cathy told me that she and Gregg absolutely LOVE them, so I immediately chose to accept the mission.
  I found several recipes, but this one seemed to be the right one for me. It's easy to mix up and they taste AMAZING. I think the key to it is the fact that you reduce the apple cider down to practically a syrup. That's what gives it the deliciously concentrated appleness that I love. Is that a word? Appleness? Well, you know what I mean. It's sweet and appley and warm and comforting. Is that a word? Appley? Oh, and yes, you can dredge them in sugar and cinnamon, but in my opinion, it's all about the cider glaze. One bite and you'll taste just how appletastic they are!!!

1 c Apple cider
1 c Sugar
1/4 c Solid vegetable shortening
2 lg Eggs
1/2 c Buttermilk
3 1/2 c All-purpose flour
2 ts Baking powder
1 t Baking soda
1/2 ts Cinnamon
1/2 ts Salt

vegetable oil or shortening -for frying

 2 c Confectioners' sugar
1/4 c Apple cider 

cinnamon and sugar

1. Boil apple cider in small saucepan until it is reduced to 1/4 cup, 8 to 10 minutes; cool. 

2. Beat sugar with shortening until smooth. Add eggs and mix well, then add buttermilk and reduced cider. Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in another bowl. Add to liquid ingredients; mix just enough to combine. 
3. Transfer dough to lightly floured board and pat to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with 2 1/2- to 3-inch doughnut cutter; reserve doughnut holes and reroll and cut scraps. 
4. Add enough oil or shortening to fill a deep pan 3 inches. Fry several doughnuts at a time, turning once or twice, until browned and cooked through. Remove to paper towels with slotted metal spoon. 
5. Roll in cinnamon and sugar or dip in cider glaze.
  For glaze, mix confectioners' sugar and cider. Dip doughnuts while warm; serve warm.

Although the recipe doesn't require it, I felt that the dough was much easier to handle after I chilled it for an hour or so. You could absolutely mix up the dough on a Saturday afternoon or evening and then let it chill in the fridge until Sunday morning. And who doesn't love warm fresh doughnuts on a Sunday morning? I'm just sayin'!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hamburger Stew

 I was recently talking to my sister, Reen, and as usual, we got to talking about recipes.  She's an awesome cook, so any time we talk recipes, I usually wind up with lots of yummy ideas to try. She mentioned this dish, with which I wasn't familiar. She was shocked that I had never heard of it, considering that this was one of her family's faves, especially her son, Jude. Of course, I immediately asked her to send me the recipe so I could make it and share it with all of you. And of course, she did!! It's the perfect thing to warm you up on a chilly fall evening.
Thanx Been! And Patty! And Jude!!

Hey Joey,
 As previously discussed, Jude is off at Rutgers and learning how to cook from afar.  He wanted to make his childhood favorite dish, Hamburger Stew, which is a recipe I received from our sister Patty. It is a delicious, stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal. Well, Jude is, at this very moment, making the dish at Rutgers and he promised to forward you a picture when it is finished.  Here is the recipe.

1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2/3 cup barley
6 cups water
beef gravy (a packet or can)
Mashed potatoes (homemade or instant)

Brown meat, onion and garlic. Drain. Add barley, water, gravy. Bring to boil and simmer for 1 hour, until barley is tender. Add corn. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over mashed potatoes.

Be sure to drain the fat very well after you brown the ground beef. You don't want all that extra fat pooling on the top of your stew. However, if you forget to drain it, you can easily just scoop the fat away with a large spoon.
This recipe lends itself to any number of variations. Reen is the queen of recipe variations, and will always adapt a recipe according to what she's has on hand. For instance, if you want to add other veggies to the stew....go for it! The last time I made it, I added baby carrots, frozen peas, and a few sprigs of fresh thyme. SO GOOD!

Oh, and btw, Jude, any time you wanna send me that picture, go right ahead!!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Gooey Caramel Apple Cake

  I often say that my favorite dessert, hands down, is something hot apple with caramel and ice cream. At a fancy restaurant, there's usually the decadent, impossibly rich chocolate thing, there's the carrot cake thing, there's the cheesecake thing, maybe a key lime thing, and then there's my favorite of all, the hot apple thing with the caramel sauce. It can be anything from a crisp to a cobbler to a deep dish pie, and I'll choose it every time.
 So, of course, when my brother Denny asked me if I wanted a bag of apples, I was all too happy to accept. I knew there would be something deliciously apple in my near future! But what should I make? I've already shared so many wonderful apple recipes, but I wanted to make something new. So I looked up a few things, read several recipes, checked a few cooking web sites, and finally found what I wanted! This recipe is about as easy as it gets, and it uses simple ingredients that you probably already have in your well-stocked pantry. It's the perfect Autumn dessert! Serve it warm right out of the oven.
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 medium tart apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
Caramel Sauce, (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 350F.
Beat together sugar, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix in the milk and sifted dry ingredients, stirring just until blended. Gently stir in apples. Pour apple cake batter into a greased 9-inch square pan. Bake until cake springs back when tapped lightly in the center, about 30 to 40 minutes. With a fork, pierce cake all over. Pour hot caramel sauce over cake. Serve it as is, with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream or whipped topping or better yet, a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Caramel Sauce

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Combine brown sugar, butter, and cream in a heavy saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer; continue cooking and stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour hot caramel topping over hot apple cake.

 --The caramel sauce is SO yummy. It would easily double as an ice cream topping. It has a slightly different flavor from the real Home Made Caramel Sauce and it's slightly thinner, but it's still to die for!
 --You can certainly serve this right in the pan as directed, but I think it's a better presentation to serve it on a cake platter or pedestal. Just let it cool for about 10 minutes after taking it out of the oven, then turn it out onto a cake rack, then onto your serving platter. Then go ahead and pierce the cake with a fork and drizzle with caramel sauce. It's a much nice presentation, don't you think?
-- I doubled the amount of caramel sauce, because, well, I like caramel sauce, and more is more.
-- If you're nuts for nuts, then go ahead and sprinkle your drizzled cake with chopped pecans, or walnuts, or peanuts, or whichever nuts drive you nuts.
-- I toyed with the idea of increasing the ingredient amounts by half and baking it in a 9x13 pan, just for the sake of baking a larger cake. I think it would work but you'd probably wind up with a slightly thicker cake. If you decide to try the larger pan, be sure to let me know how it turns out, k?
--Don't try to do this in an 8" square pan. The cake fills a 9" pan all the way up, so an 8" pan would clearly be too small.