Cranberry Pumpkin Praline Muffins

The following recipe was featured in my Muffin Swap event. You can read about it and view other muffin recipes HERE.

Joelen’s Cranberry Pumpkin Praline Muffins

Recipe adapted from HERE

3 T. brown sugar
1 T. sour cream
1/3 cup broken pecans
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground clove
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 canned pumpkin
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup margarine, melted
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Grease twelve 2 ½ inch muffin cups or line them with paper bake cups. Set muffin cups aside. In a small bowl stir together 3 tablespoons brown sugar and sour cream. Stir in pecans. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and cloves.

Make a well in the center of the dry mixture. In another medium mixing bowl, stir together egg, buttermilk, pumpkin, 2/3 cup brown sugar and melted margarine. Add the pumpkin mixture and dried cranberries all at once to the dry mixture. Stir just until moistened. Spoon batter into the muffin cups, filling each ¾ cup full. Drop 1 tsp. of pecan mixture on top of each muffin. Bake in a 400 degree oven about 20 minutes or until done. Cool slightly, and serve warm.

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Coming Out of the Dark: Chocolate Blackout Cake

As I was shopping at my local Whole Food’s Grocery store, I was inspired to bake after coming across their beautiful bakery case. The case was filled with scrumptious looking fruit tarts, fluffy layer cakes, deep chocolate brownies… it was enough for me to hit the kitchen and bake something myself. The question was, what should I bake? Looking at the random ingredients I had on hand and stashed away, it became clear the thing to make was Brooklyn Chocolate Blackout Cake.
I decided to adapt the recipe from The Best of America’s Test Kitchen: Best Recipes & Reviews 2008 (pg 62). This chocolate layer cake is unique in that the chocolate pudding filling doubles as frosting and the entire cake is covered in reserved chocolate cake crumbs. Heavenly! Here’s the recipe… enjoy!

Chocolate Blackout Cake
adapted from ATK
serves 10 to 12

Pudding:
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 cups half & half
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cake:

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pans
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
(I used cake flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
(I used extra dark cocoa powder)
1 cup brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

FOR THE PUDDING
1. Cook the granulated sugar,, chocolate, half & half, milk, cornstarch and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat, whisking occassionally, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture begins to buble, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Transfer the pudding to a large bowl and refrigerate, with plastic wrap pressed flush against to surface, until cold and set, at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

FOR THE CAKE
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two 8″inch cake pans. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the cocoa and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Off the heat, whisk in the coffee, buttermilk, and sugars until dissolved. Whisk in the flour mixture. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and smooth with a spatula.
2. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers come out clean, 30 to 35 mintes, rotating the cake pans halfway through baking. Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack. Cool the cakes to room temperature before frosting, at least 1 hour.
TO ASSEMBLE
1. Using a large serrated knife, slice each cake into 2 even layers. Crumble 1 cake layer into medium crumbs and set aside. Place 1 cake layer on a cake plate or cardboard round. Spread 1 cup of the pudding over the cake layer and top with another layer. Repeat with 1 cup more pudding and the last cake layer. Spread the remaining pudding evenly over the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle the cake crumbs evenly over the top and sides of the cake, pressing lightly to adhere the crumbs. Slice and serve.

WARNING
This cake is extremely dense, creamy and rich. Be sure to have coffee or a glass of cold milk on hand!

Comfort Cookin’

The fall season is upon us and I was in the mood for comfort food. What’s comfort food to me? Fried chicken with mac & cheese of course!

What makes this particular recipe fried chicken interesting is that I’ve soaked it in buttermilk and seasoned it with a BBQ rub for some flavor. The mac & cheese has a great crunchy topping and leftovers are perfect for fried mac & cheese nuggets!Here is my recipe for Buttermilk BBQ Chicken:

2 large chicken breasts (bone in)
1 cup buttermilk
garlic powder, onion powder, salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons BBQ rub seasoning
1 egg, beaten
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs

In a bowl, place chicken and pour buttermilk over it to cover.
Allow chicken to marinate it the buttermilk for at least 30 minutes (this is a great way to tenderize the chicken).
Preheat oven to 375.
Remove chicken from bowl and shake off excess buttermilk.
Season chicken with garlic powder, onion powder, salt & pepper.
Next, apply the BBQ rub all over the chicken.
Combine flour and breadcrumbs in a separate bowl.
Dip chicken in beaten egg.
Dredge chicken in flour/breadcrumb mixture.
Place on baking sheet & bake in preheated oven for 30-45 minutes or until juices run clear, depending on chicken size.