Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

October 26: National Pumpkin Day

Remember the story of Cinderella where her fairy godmother transformed a plain pumpkin into a pretty carriage? Well, we also made some magic on a basic bundt and dressed it up in the glorious colors of autumn. Although it isn’t as simple as waving a wand, decorating the cake is actually do-able, even for beginners.

For this particular post, we baked a chocolate pumpkin spice cake, glazed it in decadent chocolate, drizzled it with a pumpkin-colored/pumpkin flavored confectioner’s coating (candy melts) and sprinkled it with seasonal nonpareils (fall leaves). Like Cinderella entering the grand ball, this cake is sure to be a showstopper at seasonal social gatherings as well!

Add your personal and magic touch to a plain chocolate pumpkin spice cake and get creative in decorating it. What a way to celebrate National Pumpkin Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn)

For the chocolate pumpkin spice cake

  • 1 box German chocolate cake mix (we used Duncan Hines brand)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup cinnamon chips

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, combine the chocolate cake mix, pumpkin and eggs.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

Add the cinnamon and nutmeg. Blend well. Fold the cinnamon chips into the cake batter. Spread evenly into a greased bundt pan.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes, testing the cake for doneness. Remove from the oven. Cool completely in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack over a foil-lined lipped pan.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

For the chocolate glaze and decorations

  • ½ cup (4 ounces) semisweet chocolate (baking squares or chips)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup orange candy melts (we used Wilton’s seasonal pumpkin flavor)
  • colorful seasonal candy sprinkles (optional)

Directions

In a microwave-safe bowl, place the chocolate, butter and corn syrup. Heat until melted. Mix until smooth. Drizzle on the top of the cake and let the glaze run down the sides.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

In a microwave-safe cup, melt the orange candy melts. Spoon in a decorator’s bag outfitted with a small round tip. Being careful not to burn your hand, drizzle on top of the glazed cake in a back and forth motion all around. Finish by sprinkling some colorful seasonal candies on top. Let the topping set. Serve at room temperature.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

Notes

  • Add a teaspoon or two of vegetable shortening to the candy melts for a thinner consistency.
  • Sprinkles can be black and orange jimmies, Halloween nonpareils or autumn leaves (like we used for this recipe) to reflect the fall flavors and season.
  • Search our blog for other pumpkin recipes.

Ruffle Cake

Ruffle Cake

October 10: National Cake Decorating Day

Islander is a member of the local cake club where she learns different decorating techniques using buttercream or whipped frosting, royal icing, gum paste and rolled fondant. Although the latter produces pretty yet pricier results on a cake, Islander still likes buttercream better. But sometimes it gets boring, so she experiments with different decorating designs once in a while.

At one cake club meeting, Islander learned how to pipe ruffles vertically and horizontally on the sides and top of a cake. She simply used a petal tip (Wilton 104) two different ways to give a cake a textured look. With a little practice, even those who do not have much cake decorating experience may be able to do this project.

Make a cake go from boring to beautiful and try a ruffle technique on National Cake Decorating Day.

Recipe

For the vertical buttercream ruffle cake

  • 3-4 round cake layers, favorite flavor
  • Buttercream frosting (enough to cover the cakes)

Directions

Bake and cool the cakes. Smear a bit of buttercream on the bottom of a cake board as an adhesive. Place one of the cake layers on the cake board. Generously spread frosting on this layer allowing some to overflow to the side of the cake. Place another cake on top of this layer. Continue layering the cakes, then crumb-coating the sides and tops. Cool to set.

Ruffle Cake

Using a petal tip (Wilton 104), pipe down with the wider end in the back and the narrow end in front. Make a back and forth motion no larger than an inch, layering zigzags of buttercream from the bottom to the top of the side of the cake. Pipe another column of ruffles next to the first one. Continue piping columns of ruffles until the side of the cake is covered.

Ruffle Cake

On top of the cake, starting from the outside and working toward the center, with the wider end of the tip facing opposite of you and the narrow end of the tip facing toward you, loosely pipe in a back and forth motion while rotating the cake turntable in the opposite direction. Continue piping the top ruffles until you reach the center. Let set before placing decorations/silk flowers on top of the cake.

Ruffle Cake

For the horizontal buttercream ruffle cake

  • 2-3 round cake layers, favorite flavor
  • Buttercream frosting (enough to cover the cakes)

Ruffle Cake

Directions

As described above, crumb coat the cake.

Ruffle Cake

Using a petal tip (Wilton 104), start at the top edge of the cake with the wider end toward the bottom and the narrow end toward the top. Make a back and forth motion to make the ruffles while turning the cake in the opposite direction. Pipe another row of ruffles beneath it. Continue piping rows of ruffles until the side of the cake is covered.

Ruffle Cake

On top of the cake, starting from the outside and working toward the center, with the wider end of the tip at the bottom and narrow end at the top, pipe in a back and forth motion while rotating the cake in the opposite direction. Continue piping the top ruffles until you reach the center. Let set before placing decorations/ silk flowers on top of the cake.

Ruffle Cake

Notes

  • Thanks to Suzy Z., a Wilton cake decorating instructor and talented cake artist, for demonstrating how to do the horizontal ruffle technique.
  • Substitute buttercream with a stabilized whipped cream frosting for a lighter weight cake.
  • Taller cakes (at least triple layers) show off the buttercream ruffles better.
  • Search our blog for more tutorials on cake decorating.

Sausage-Cheese Spirals

Sausage-Cheese Spirals

October: National Sausage Month

Islander is SO not a morning person! When she and Highlander have overnight guests, she warns them not to expect anything fancy for their first meal the next day. But Highlander gets up early and makes coffee and sets the table with fruit and juice. The night before, if Islander baked a breakfast casserole (French toast), bacon-cheddar-scallion scones or sausage-cheese spirals, then he just reheats them in the oven so everyone can have a hot meal (otherwise, cold pastries or cereals will have to suffice).

Sausage-cheese spirals may be one of our breakfast menu items but they also make a good afternoon snack during National Sausage Month.

Recipe

(Adapted from Cooking Light Quick Baking magazine)

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces breakfast sausage (we used Jimmy Dean brand pork sausage)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh sage, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1 can (11 ounces) refrigerated French bread dough
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions

In a skillet, crumble the sausage and cook until brown. Drain off any fat and let cool. Season with chopped sage and salt. Shred the Gruyere cheese.

Sausage-Cheese Spirals

On a clean, floured surface, unroll the French bread dough. Flatten with a rolling pin, cutting the dough and pressing the seams together if necessary, until it is a 13×8-inch rectangle. Leaving half an inch on all sides, brush the dough with melted butter and sprinkle the sausage mixture.

Sausage-Cheese Spirals

Top with shredded Gruyere cheese. Carefully roll the long side and pinch the seams to seal well. With a sharp knife, slice into spirals and discard the ends of the dough. Place onto a foil-lined baking sheet generously misted with cooking spray. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes until brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving tray. Serve hot.

Sausage-Cheese Spirals

Notes

  • Cooking Light named this recipe “Savory Sausage Breakfast Rolls” but they look more like spirals instead of bread-buns.
  • While this recipe was good, puff pastry would have been tastier than the French bread dough.
  • Make these sausage-cheese spirals during National Hot Breakfast Month in February and National Breakfast Month in September.

Pink Ribbon Cookies

Pink Ribbon Cookies

October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

This post for pink ribbon cookies is dedicated to Islander’s cousin, Clara A. (1959-2013), who lost her fight against breast cancer late last year. A brilliant child and family attorney who practiced law in the Philippines and internationally, Clara endured chemotherapy and survived 17 years after first being diagnosed with breast cancer. We last saw her in 2007 during a family trip to the Philippines when her cancer was in remission. She looked happy and healthy—and that is the way we want to remember cousin Clara. May she rest in peace.

For a number of years now, we have been donating dollars and desserts (such as pink ribbon cookies) for bake sales of different charities that help fund research to find cures for cancer. Sometimes the best we can do is pray—pray for those who have cancer, for their families, for the health caregivers and for the researchers.

Although one month is dedicated to Breast Cancer Awareness, it should be year-round. Take care of yourselves and get mammograms regularly. Participate and support the events and donate what you can to the cancer societies. Bake a batch of pink ribbon cookies. And please pray for a cure!!!

Recipe

(Adapted from Kitchen Lane

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour (all purpose white)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • pink fondant
  • powdered sugar for dusting the surface
  • clear piping gel or water 

Directions

In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in the egg, milk and vanilla. Gradually the flour mixture into the other ingredients and blend well to form a dough.

Pink Ribbon Cookies

Divide dough in thirds and roll into a ball. Then flatten each ball into a disc and place between sheets of waxed or parchment paper. Roll out to about ¼-inch thick (we used ¼-inch thick acrylic sticks as guides). Stack them on a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm (about 30-45 minutes). They may also be frozen for 15-20 minutes. Take one stack of flattened dough out of the refrigerator or freezer. Peel away both front and back to loosen, leaving the dough on one sheet of the waxed or parchment paper. Cut out the pink ribbon shapes.

Pink Ribbon Cookies 

Place on foil-lined greased cookie pan about 1 ½ – 2 inches apart. Refrigerate the cookie pan. Re-roll scraps of dough and cut more shapes, refrigerating if the dough gets too soft. The dough needs to be cold and firm in order to retain its shape. Bake the cookies in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until the sides are very lightly browned. Remove from the oven when done and let sit on the pan for about five minutes. Transfer each cookie on a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container until ready to decorate.

Pink Ribbon Cookies

Using the same pink ribbon-shaped cookie cutter, cut out shapes on pink fondant (roll out to 1/8-inch thickness on a clean surface that has been dusted with a bit of powdered sugar to prevent from sticking). Use a fondant impression mat, if adding decorative texture to the fondant is desired.

Pink Ribbon Cookies 

Brush water or piping gel on the cookie. Position the fondant on top of the pink ribbon cookie and smooth out the edges with warm fingers. Repeat for all cookies. Set aside to dry, making sure all cookies are dry before stacking. Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Pink Ribbon Cookies 

Notes

 

 

 

http://hicookery.com/2011/10/16/chambord-macarons/

http://hicookery.com/2011/02/27/strawberry-macarons/

http://hicookery.com/2011/02/05/le-minni-di-sant’agata/

Coffee and Nut Cookies

 Coffee and Nut Cookies

September 29: National Coffee Day

We have visited coffee plantations and estates while in Kona (Big Island of Hawaii), Kualapuu (Molokai), Kalaheo (Kauai) and Waialua (Oahu, Islander’s home island). We even got to sample some of the peaberries (bitter yet aromatic) grown on the property of some of the Hawaiian coffee companies. We buy their products and take them back to the mainland so Highlander can enjoy a cuppa joe (or, in Hawaiian, kope), and Islander can bake coffee-flavored desserts, such as coffee and nut cookies.

Hawaiian Coffee - HI Cookery

Inspired by Kauai Kookie’s Kona coffee macadamia nut shortbread cookies, Islander used Hawaiian ingredients in a simple coffee cookie recipe to give it a tropical twist. Coffee lovers will definitely appreciate these flavorful treats. So celebrate National Coffee Day and bake a batch of coffee and nut cookies with a little aloha!

Recipe

(Adapted from Ferra Coffee

Ingredients

  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • 2/3 cup sugar (we used C&H brand), granulated white
  • 2 tablespoons roasted ground coffee (we used Hawaiian Kona coffee)
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (we used Hawaiian Vanilla Company brand) 
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (we used Mauna Loa macadamia nut pieces)

Directions

In a large bowl, cream the shortening with the sugar. Mix in the ground coffee. Beat in the egg. Add the flour.

Coffee and Nut Cookies

Mix in the vanilla and nuts. Blend well until cookie dough forms. Use a small scoop to drop the dough at least two inches apart onto greased cookie sheets. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool to a crisp on wire racks. Yield: Approximately 1 ½ dozen coffee cookies. 

Coffee and Nut Cookies

Notes

  • These cookies spread while baking and are soft when they come out of the oven. When cool, the edges become crisp while the center is somewhat chewy.
  • Search our blog for recipes containing coffee as an ingredient. Also peruse for more posts on other cookie recipes.

Carlota de Limón

Carlota de limon

September 16: Mexican Independence Day

Although Cinco de Mayo (5th of May) is a popular holiday associated with Mexico, el Dieciséis de Septiembre (16th of September) is seen as more important. Whereas May 5 commemorates the victory of the Mexican army over Napoleon’s French troops/invaders in 1862, September 16 marks Mexico’s declaration of independence from Spain in 1810. Either date is cause for celebration, especially in South Texas where we have many Mexican friends and neighbors. From them we have learned a little bit about their Hispanic heritage as well as some of the foods they prepare for special events.

Carlota de limón (also called postre de limón) is one of the quick and easy recipes they have shared with us. It is like a trifle that consists of alternating layers of cookies and a creamy lime filling. This makes for a delicious dessert for Dieciséis de Septiembre and during other Mexican holidays.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • ½ cup lime juice (from approximately 6-7 fresh squeezed limes)
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 rolls/packages of Maria Mexican cookies
  • sliced limes (optional garnish)

Directions

Juice the limes. Place the juice with the evaporated and condensed milks in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Carlota de limon

In a large glass casserole dish, layer the cookies. Pour 1/3 of the lime-milk mixture over the cookies and spread to cover them. Arrange more cookies on top. Pour another layer of the lime-milk mixture over it and spread to cover them. Arrange the last layer of cookies and finish spreading the lime-milk mixture over it.

Carlota de limon

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least three hours or overnight to allow the cookies to soften, the lime-milk mixture to solidify and the flavors to develop. Before serving, garnish with limes (optional). Cut into 24 squares.

Carlota de limon

Notes

  • Some recipes add a cup of softened whipped cream cheese to make the filling fluffier and thicker.
  • Pipe a pretty border with whipped cream to decorate the edges (optional).
  • Happy Hispanic Heritage Month to all our friends from Latin America!

A+ Apple Cookies

Apple Cookies

August: Back-to-School Season

Get an A+ for your efforts in making adorable apple cookies for a back-to-school snack. We baked and decorated apple cookies for a college crowd and they were a hit (of course, most students will eat anything that’s free)! The sugar cookie dough we use yields around four-dozen two-inch shaped apple cutouts so there are a lot to share for a class en masse. These apple cookies are crisp, cute and colorful and are a festive food to serve at back-to-school events and even during National Apple Week (second week of August).

Recipe

(Adapted from Kitchen Lane)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour (all purpose white)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • red and green fondant
  • powdered sugar for dusting the surface
  • clear piping gel or water
  • chocolate brown frosting (for the apple stems)
  • white frosting (for “A+” lettering)

Directions

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in the egg, milk and vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture into the other ingredients and blend well to form a dough.

Apple Cookies

Divide dough in thirds and roll into a ball. Then flatten each ball into a disc and place between sheets of waxed or parchment paper. Roll out to about ¼-inch thick (we used ¼-inch thick acrylic sticks as guides). Stack them on a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm (about 30-45 minutes). They may also be frozen for 15-20 minutes.

Apple Cookies

Take one stack of flattened dough out of the refrigerator or freezer. Peel away both front and back to loosen, leaving the dough on one sheet of the waxed or parchment paper. Cut out the apple shapes. Place on a foil-lined greased cookie pan about 1 ½ – 2 inches apart. Refrigerate the cookie pan. Re-roll scraps of dough and cut more shapes, refrigerating if the dough gets too soft. The dough needs to be cold and firm in order to retain its shape while baking. Bake the cookies in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until the sides are very lightly browned. Remove from the oven when done and let sit on the pan for about five minutes. Transfer each cookie on a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container until ready to decorate.

Apple Cookies

Using the same apple-shaped cookie cutter, cut out shapes on red fondant (roll out to 1/8-inch thickness on a clean surface that has been dusted with a bit of powdered sugar to prevent from sticking). Slice off the stem piece. Brush piping gel or water on the red fondant.

Apple Cookies

Position the red fondant on top of the apple cookie and smooth out the edges with warm fingers. Repeat for all cookies. Pipe chocolate brown frosting for the stem. Pipe “A+” on top of the apple cookies. Set aside to dry.

Apple Cookies

Make small leaves from the green fondant (we used a leaf-shaped plunger-cutter). Attach to the apple cookie with piping gel or water. Set aside to make sure all icing is dry before stacking. Store in an airtight container until ready to serve to starving students.

Apple Cookies

Notes

  • Personalize the apple cookies by piping students’ and teachers’ names or writing the name of the school on them.
  • We used fondant more than royal icing on these apple cookies because it was quicker to cut out shapes for mass production (besides, we have not mastered the “flooding” technique—yet).
  • Search our blog for other back-to-school snack recipes.
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