08 August


Apple Nut and Spice Cupcakes with

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Apple Nut and Spice Cupcakes

August (Second Week): National Apple Week

It’s back to school time for students and teachers! We remember when the new academic year began after Labor Day in September, and now it’s earlier in August! Bake a back-to-school treat—apple nut and spice cupcakes–during National Apple Week, which coincides with preparations for going back to the classroom.

Apples are symbolic of education, perhaps because they were the fabled forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden.

Students stereotypically give an apple to their teachers as an appreciation gift. But (if allowed) why not give the whole class apple nut and spice cupcakes as a sweet start to a successful school year?

Recipe

(Adapted from Duncan Hines)

For the apple nut and spice cupcakes

  • 1 box spice cake mix (we used Duncan Hines brand)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 can (20 ounces) apple pie filling (we used Lucky Leaf brand “lite”)
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, combine the spice cake mix, eggs and vegetable oil. Blend until thick and moistened. Drain and chop the apples in the canned pie filling.

Apple Nut and Spice Cupcakes

Add the chopped apple pie filling and walnuts to the batter. Mix well. Scoop into muffin tins lined with red cupcake papers. Bake in a preheated oven a 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes, testing with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from the oven and cool completely on wire racks before frosting and decorating. Yield: 2 dozen cupcakes.

Apple Nut and Spice Cupcakes

For the cinnamon cream cheese frosting

(Adapted from Betty Crocker)

  • 1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter, softened
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1+ tablespoons water, milk or cinnamon schnapps
  • red food coloring
  • red sanding sugar
  • thin pretzel sticks (for the apple stem)
  • green tube frosting (for the apple leaf)

Directions

In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add the ground cinnamon and vanilla. Gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and mix until smooth. Thin with liquid, one tablespoon at a time, to achieve the desired spreadable consistency.

Apple Nut and Spice Cupcakes

Tint with red food coloring and blend well. Frost the tops of the cooled apple nut and spice cupcakes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set the frosting. Dip the tops of the cupcakes in red sanding sugar.

Apple Nut and Spice Cupcakes

Break pieces of the pretzel sticks and insert in the center of the cupcakes to make the apple stem. Use a small leaf tip and squeeze out green frosting from the tube to make the apple leaf. Return to the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Apple Nut and Spice Cupcakes

Notes

  • The U.S. Apple Association founded National Apple Week in 1904 but expanded the celebration into National Apple Months—September, October and November!
  • Search our blog for more apple recipes.

Hawaii 5-0 Trail Mix

Hawaii 5-0 Trail Mix

August 31: National Trail Mix Day

“Book’em, Danno!”

Islander and her family used to watch the original “Hawaii 5-0” on TV back in the 1970s. The series lasted from 1968-1980 and starred Jack Lord as Detective Steve McGarrett. Thirty years later, in 2010, “Hawaii 5-0” was rebooted, with Alex O’Loughlin as the lead actor. Islander saw his co-stars, Scott Caan (Detective Danny “Danno” Williams) and Teilor Grubbs (who plays his daughter Grace) while they were filming a scene at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. She and a curious crowd waited around three hours to watch them but the final scene in the aired episode lasted three minutes!

Hawaii 5-0 - HI Cookery

We are gearing up to watch another season of “Hawaii 5-0” premiering this fall. The Hilton Hawaiian Village hosts viewing parties as well. Why not eat an aptly named trail mix while watching the episodes (or reruns)? There are only five ingredients in the “Hawaii 5-0” trail mix recipe so it is easy to make for a snack.

Also try this tasty tropical treat on National Trail Mix Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from “Cookgirl” via Food.com)

Ingredients

  • ½ cup dried pineapple, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, chopped
  • 6 mini Mounds chocolate-covered coconut candy bars
  • 1 cup macadamia nuts, roasted (wholes and halves)
  • 1 small bag taro chips (4-6 ounces)

Directions

Chop the dried pineapple and crystallized ginger into small pieces. Dice the Mounds candy bar into little bits. Place the pineapple, ginger and candy, along with the macadamia nuts, in a large bowl.

Hawaii 5-0 Trail Mix

Add the taro chips to the mix, breaking the larger chips into smaller pieces. Combine well and serve immediately. Or package them an airtight container until ready to eat.

Hawaii 5-0 Trail Mix

Notes

  • Find bags of taro chips by Terra Chips at mainland grocers.  Some specialty health/natural food stores and Asian markets might sell taro chips as well.
  • The final food photo of the tropical trail mix was taken against the backdrop of Islander’s “Hawaii 5-0” tee shirt.
  • Islander took the photos of the cast and crew while they were filming on the grounds of the Hilton Hawaiian Village on Aug. 29, 2012. The segment they were shooting was part of “Hawaii 5-0” season 3, episode 6, number 53. “I Ka Wa Mamua” (“In a Time Past”) aired on Nov. 12, 2012.

Lemonade Cake

Lemonade Cake

August 20: National Lemonade Day

Lemonade is summer’s quintessential thirst quencher. And when the temperatures rise to a scorching heat in South Texas, we definitely like to cool down with the tart and tasty citrus drink. Sure we support the neighborhood children whenever they open up their lemonade stands on the street corner. But what if the little entrepreneurs had a summer bake sale and offered slices of lemonade cake?!? That may be a creative idea (but perhaps too ambitious). Nevertheless, lemonade in a cake still makes a sweet summer treat, especially on National Lemonade Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from The Cake Mix Doctor Returns by Anne Byrn)

For the lemonade cake

  • 1 package (18.25 ounces) lemon cake mix
  • 1 ¼ cups water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the lemon cake mix with the water, vegetable oil and eggs. Mix until smooth. Pour into two 8-inch greased round cake pans. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes, testing the cake for doneness. Remove from the oven and cool the cakes in the pan for about 15 minutes.

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-RvckgNVDnW8/URrBq_Fu_4I/AAAAAAAAFCQ/0xAof2J9NPE/s800/lemonadecakesteps1.jpg

Make the lemon glaze by mixing the lemonade concentrate with powdered sugar in a bowl until smooth. Poke holes in the warm cake with the tines of a fork. Drizzle the glaze on the cake, letting it seep through the holes. Cool the cakes completely. Invert one of the cakes onto a cake board or plate. Make the lemonade frosting.

Lemonade Cake

For the lemonade frosting

  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons lemonade concentrate, thawed (leftover from the cake recipe above)
  • 3+ cups powdered sugar
  • 2+ tablespoons water

Directions

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with the lemonade. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Thin with water for a spreadable consistency.

Lemonade Cake

Spread frosting on top of the bottom layer of the cake. Top with the second cake. Spread frosting on top layer and down the sides of the cake to crumbcoat. Chill in the refrigerator for half an hour to set.

Lemonade Cake

Frost or decorate as desired (we covered our cake in rosettes; refer to our blog post for the Mystical Rosette Cake for additional directions). Slice and serve the cake.

Lemonade Cake

Notes

  • We doubled the recipe for the lemonade frosting to crumbcoat and decorate the cake in rosettes. We tinted half of it with a lemon yellow color for the latter.
  • Try substituting pink lemonade and tinting the batter and frosting in pink for a different color cake.
  • Love lemons? Search our blog for other lemon recipes!

Back-to-School Cupcakes

Back to School Cupcakes

August: Back-to-School Season

Students and teachers alike are preparing for the new academic year this month and it seems that summer has gone by too fast (it always does!). Brighten up their back-to-school blues with colorful cupcakes!

Here are some school-themed sweet treats that we decorated and donated to the students and staff at Islander’s brother’s school. We looked at different Google images, studied how others decorated their cupcakes and made an educated guess on how to create our own. We got an A+ from the appreciative recipients.

Learn how to make back-to-school cupcakes by following the photo tutorial below. Decorating them is fun and as easy as ABC and 123!!!

Recipe

  • Cupcakes
  • Frosting
  • Miniature chocolate bars
  • Chocolate fudge frosting (we used Hershey’s S’mores dessert icing)
  • White tube frosting
  • Red round candy
  • Green tube frosting
  • Colorful sprinkles (optional)

Directions

Prepare the batter and bake the cupcakes in colorful paper liners. Cool completely.

Back to School Cupcakes

Generously ice the tops of the cooled cupcakes with brightly colored frosting. Unwrap the mini chocolate bars. Outline the back edges with chocolate fudge frosting. Write letters and numbers using the white tube frosting.

Back to School Cupcakes

Position the “chocolate chalkboards” slightly off-center on top of the cupcakes. Place a red round candy by the chalkboard. Pipe a small leaf using the green tube frosting to complete the “apple.” Sprinkle colorful nonpareils on top (optional).

Back to School Cupcakes

Notes

  • These cupcakes are perfect for parties with an education theme.
  • Search our blog for other cupcake decorating ideas.

Cherry Turnovers

Cherry Turnovers

August 28: National Cherry Turnover Day

As an alternative to cherry pie or tarts, Highlander indulges in cherry turnovers once in a while. Like his favorite cherry pie pockets, these sweet snacks are portable and petite and an easy-to-make treat! These dessert dumplings are prepared with puff pastry encasing cherry pie filling. The technique is to “turn over” the puff pastry squares into triangular shapes, hence the name. Try this turnover recipe for a tasty pastry on National Cherry Turnover Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Group Recipes)

Ingredients

  • 1 package (17.25 ounces) frozen puff pastry (we used Pepperidge Farm brand)
  • 1 can (21 ounces) cherry pie filling
  • 1 egg + 1 teaspoon water, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk, water or kirsch (cherry liqueur)

Directions

Thaw the frozen puff pastry according to the package directions. Unfold each sheet on a lightly floured surface. Lightly press finger to smooth out the folded creases. Cut each sheet into quarters for a total of eight squares. Drain the cherry pie filling in a colander.

Cherry Turnovers

Spoon the filling in the middle of each puff pastry square. Moisten the edges with egg wash. Turn over and fold the pastry square in half to make a triangle; repeat for all.

Cherry Turnovers

Seal the edges with the tines of a fork. Cut small slits with a knife to vent the turnovers. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet that has been lightly greased with cooking spray. Brush the tops with egg wash. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and puffed. Remove from the oven.

Cherry Turnovers

Meanwhile, in a bowl, make the glaze by stirring the milk/water/kirsch into the powdered sugar until smooth. Place in a zip-top plastic bag. Snip a small hole at the point of the bag. Drizzle the glaze over the cherry turnovers. Let set slightly. Serve while warm.

Cherry Turnovers

Notes

  • Instead of drizzling glaze over the baked turnovers, try sprinkling a bit of turbinado/coarse sugar or sliced almonds on top of the egg wash before baking them.
  • Check out other cherry recipes by searching our blog.

Fudge Pecan Torte

Fudge Pecan Torte

August 21: National Pecan Torte Day

Pecans are popular in the South (especially in South Texas where we live) and we have put them in pies, cookies, cakes, tarts and now a torte. Like the Pioneer Woman’s “Texas Fudge Sheet Cake” recipe, Southern celebrity chef Paula Deen’s “Fudge Pecan Torte” is its richer cousin. Both cakes are deliciously fudgy, but the torte is also studded with pecans and slathered with a silky-smooth icing. While the sheet cake is a casual crowd pleaser at potlucks, the torte is a decadent dessert centerpiece and showstopper at posher parties! Indulge on National Pecan Torte Day with this Fudge Pecan Torte recipe.

Recipe

(Adapted from Paula Deen via Good Housekeeping)

For the torte

  • 11 tablespoons butter, unsalted, cold, sliced
  • 4 ounces/squares bittersweet chocolate (we used Baker’s brand)
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup coffee liqueur (we used Godiva brand cappuccino liqueur)
  • ¾ cup pecan chips (coarsely chopped pecan pieces)

Directions

Grease a 9- or 10-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and grease it as well. In a microwavable bowl, place the butter and bittersweet chocolate. Microwave until it is melted (about 1 ½ minutes). Stir until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

Fudge Pecan Torte

In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar. Pour in the melted chocolate and blend well. Stir in the coffee liqueur.

Fudge Pecan Torte

Gradually add the flour mixture. Fold in the pecans with a spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes, testing for doneness with a toothpick. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack in the pan. Invert the torte onto a wire rack set over a lipped pan lined with foil. Carefully peel away the parchment paper from the top of the torte. Prepare the chocolate ganache icing.

Fudge Pecan Torte

For the icing and pecan decorations

  • 8 ounces/squares semi-sweet chocolate (we used Baker’s brand)
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • ¼ cup pecan chips (coarsely chopped pecan pieces)
  • 3 whole pecans, toasted

Directions

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate. In a small saucepan on the stovetop, heat the whipping cream over medium heat until bubbly, being careful not to burn the bottom of the pan. Pour over the melted chocolate and mix well. Stir in the corn syrup until well blended. Let set to thicken for about five minutes.

Fudge Pecan Torte

Slowly pour the icing over the top of the torte, allowing it to drip down the sides. Use a spatula to smooth out the icing over the top and sides. Let set for around 10 minutes.  Carefully transfer the torte to a cake plate, board or stand/pedestal. Decorate with a ring of pecan chips on top of the torte. Garnish the middle with the whole pecans.

Fudge Pecan Torte

Notes

  • We used a Wilton cake lifter to transfer the iced torte onto a cake board.
  • Nuts about pecans? Search our blog for more recipes using pecans as an ingredient.

Easy Leche Flan

Leche Flan

August 17: National Vanilla Custard Day

fiesta is not complete without leche flan at the dessert table! Influenced by Spanish cuisine, this Filipino version of vanilla-flavored “milk custard” has a thicker texture and rich, sweet taste. When Islander prepares Pinoy-style leche flan with lots of leftover egg yolks from making macarons, she is too lazy to caramelize the sugar for the custard’s distinctively dark top. So she uses pancake syrup instead! But it still tastes terrific enough to take to potluck parties and to fiestas! Celebrate National Vanilla Custard Day with a favorite Filipino food and try our easy leche flan recipe.

Recipe

(From Mommy)

  • pancake syrup
  • 8-12 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk

Directions

Separate the egg yolks from the whites, reserving the latter for another recipe. Pour pancake syrup in an 8-inch round pan and swirl enough of it to coat the bottom completely and moisten the sides. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with the vanilla. Stir in the sweetened condensed milk.

Leche Flan

Add the evaporated milk and blend well until smooth. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Let the bubbles settle as much as possible. Place this pan into another larger pan. Pour hot or boiling water halfway up the sides to create a steam water bath. Cover both pans loosely with foil. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for at least an hour (depending on individual ovens, add 15-minute increments to the baking time).

Leche Flan

Remove from the oven, testing for doneness with a toothpick (it should come out clean after inserting it into the leche flan). When cooked, carefully remove the foil. Use a spatula to loosen the edges of the leche flan, allowing the pancake syrup to spread on the sides and top. Place on a wire rack to cool at room temperature. Cover the 8-inch pan with foil and refrigerate overnight to set. When ready to serve, remove the foil and place a serving plate on top of the opening of the pan. Carefully invert the plate, spooning some of the pancake syrup on top of the leche flan for a sweet gloss. Slice and serve.

Leche Flan

 Notes

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