Lemon Mini Bundt Cakes

Awhile back, one show I really enjoyed watching on the Food Network was Kathleen Daeleman’s show. She focused on healthy food choices, portions and exercise to maintain a well balanced and healthy lifestyle. Her show is no longer on air but it doesn’t stop me from trying her recipes. I prepared this recipe for my Chef Spotlight Dinner where we highlighted health conscious chefs. Rather than a loaf, I prepared this as individual mini bundt cakes for all my guests.

Lemon Mini Bundt Cakes
recipe adapted from Kathleen Daeleman

1-1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup + 1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons finely minced lemon zest (about two lemons)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a mini bundt pan of 6, set aside. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and 1/2 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and lemon zest and mix until combined. Add the dry ingredients alternating with the milk. While there are still bits of flour to be seen, add the pecans and mix until ingredients are just combined. Don’t overmix or you’ll be serving lemon butter pecan hard tack.

Pour batter into prepared pan, bake in the center of the oven until bread is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Prepare the lemon glaze while your bread is baking by whisking together in a small bowl the lemon juice and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Just after the bread comes out of the oven, poke holes all over the top with a fork or skewer and pour lemon-sugar mixture over the cake. Cool bread in the pan on a rack 1/2 hour or as long as you can stand it. Serve warm or cool.

I garnished my cakes with a sliced strawberry, raspberry puree (drizzled on) and fresh blueberries.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

The following recipe was prepared during my International Chefs Dinner. You can read about it and check out the other recipes that were made for the event HERE.

Chocolate Fudge Cake
shared at the event by Jen
recipe courtesy of Nigella Lawson
For the cake:
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup best-quality cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup corn oil
1 1/3 cups chilled water

For the fudge icing:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, minimum 70 percent cocoa solids
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and line the bottom of 2 (8-inch) cake pans.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl or wide-necked measuring cup whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla until blended. Using a standing or handheld electric mixer, beat together the melted butter and corn oil until just blended (you’ll need another large bowl for this is using the hand mixer; the standing mixer comes with its own bowl), then beat in the water. Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix together on a slow speed. Add the egg mixture, and mix again until everything is blended and then pour into the prepared tins. And actually, you could easily do this manually; I just like my toys and find the stand mixer a comforting presence in itself.

Bake the cakes for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a cake-tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes, and then turn the cakes out on the rack to cool completely.

For the icing:

Melt the chocolate in the microwave – 2 to 3 minutes on medium should do it – or in a bowl sitting over a pan of simmering water, and let cool slightly.

In another bowl beat the butter until it’s soft and creamy (again, I use the stand mixer here) and then add the sifted confectioners’ sugar and beat again until everything’s light and fluffy. I know sifting is a pain, the 1 job in the kitchen I really hate, but you have to do it or the icing will be unsoothingly lumpy. Then gently add the vanilla and chocolate and mix together until everything is glossy and smooth.

Sandwich the middle of the cake with about a quarter of the icing, and then ice the top and sides, too, spreading and smoothing with a rubber spatula.


Tres Leches Flan Cake

The following recipe was prepared for my Tamales cooking class. You can read about my class and get other links to recipes HERE.

Tres Leches Flan Cake

Cake:
1 (18.25 oz.) box butter/yellow cake mix and ingredients to prepare as directed on box
1 (12 oz) can of regular Coke or Pepsi

Topping:
1 (10.9-oz.) jar cajeta (caramel topping) or caramel ice cream topping

Flan:
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees

1.) Follow instructions to make cake, but use the can of coke instead of water.
2.) Set cake mix aside and make flan
3.) Put the flan ingredients in a blender and mix well
4.) Spray the bundt pan with Pam and then cover the bottom with carmel
5.) Pour cake mix into bundt pan.
6.) Pour the flan mix gently down one side of the pan. The flan will go to the bottom and the cake mix will raise up a bit as the flan mixture fills the bottom of the pan.
7.) Set the bundt pan in a larger pan or tray with water. You are creating a double boiler, but you only need a couple inches of water.
8.) Put it all in the oven and it will cook for at least 45 minutes and as much as an hour.
9.) Check the cake doneness with a toothpick. The cake will stay more moist than most cakes you’ve ever made and you will see it separate a bit from the pan when it is done.
10.) Let is cool and regigerate for several hours.
11.) Take it out two hours before you plan to serve. Turn the bundt pan over and let it sit while warming to room temperature.
12.) The bundt pan should then lift off to reveal a layer of flan, topped with carmel sitting atop a very moist cake.

Guava Cheesecake

The following recipe was shared at my Caribbean dinner event. You can read about it and get additional Caribbean recipes from the event HERE.

Guava Cheesecake
shared at the event by Jen & Wayne
recipe HERE

1 1/2 cups chocolate-wafer or graham-cracker crumbs
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
2 tablespoons plus 2 cups sugar
1 cup guava paste
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
4 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup guava marmalade or red currant jelly

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Mix crumbs, butter and 2 tablespoons sugar; press over the bottom and up the side of the pan. Bake until almost dry, about 10 minutes. Set aside. (Leave oven on.)
Heat guava paste and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking, until melted. Set aside.
Beat the cream cheese and 2 cups sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla, lemon zest and melted guava paste. Pour into crust.
Wrap aluminum foil around the bottom and sides of springform pan and place in a large roasting pan. Add 1 inch boiling water. Bake until the top is firm and the filling no longer jiggles when shaken, about 90 minutes. Turn off the heat, open the oven door a few inches, and let the cheesecake cool 20 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cover and refrigerate cooled cheesecake at least 6 hours.
Thirty minutes before serving, melt jelly with 1 tablespoon water, whisking, and gently brush on top. Chill at least 30 minutes more before serving.
Makes 12 servings.

Pineapple Cheesecake

The following recipe was shared at my Caribbean dinner event. You can read about it and get additional Caribbean recipes from the event HERE.

Pineapple Cheesecake
shared at the event by Susan
recipe HERE

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
24 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

—–Pineapple Glaze—–
8 3/4 ounces crushed pinapple, undrained
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon butter

Combine crumbs, 2 T sugar, butter. Mix well, press in bottom of 9 inch springform pan. Beat cream cheese with mixer until fluffy. Gradually add 1 c. sugar, mixing well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well. Stir in vanilla and salt. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Let cool to room temperature on rack. Refrigerate several hours. Yield: 10 to 12 servings. Pineapple Glaze: Drain, reserve juice of pineapple. Add water to juice to make 1/2 cup. Mix sugar and cornstarch with juice. Cook over low heat until thick. Add egg, butter, cook 2 minutes. Cool and spread on cheesecake and refrigerate. Yield: 1 1/2 cups.

In the Dumps, Sweet Dumps!

One of my husband’s favorite desserts is black forest cake. I stumbled across this easy, no brainer recipe for a black forest dump cake and thought I’d give it a try. The result? It was chocolatey, sweet and the hubby approved! Here’s my recipe for Black Forest Dump Cake that was adapted from this one:
1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling
1 (16.5 ounce) jar sweet cherries, drained (Morello cherries from Trader Joes)
1 (18.25 ounce) package fudge brownie mix, batter prepared as directed
1 cup chopped Oreo cookies
3/4 cup butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Spray 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Dump cherry pie filling into dish and spread evenly. Repeat with jarred cherries, not including juice.

Prepare brownie mix as directed and spread over the top – DO NOT STIR. Sprinkle with chopped Oreo cookied. Distribute butter pieces evenly over the top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes.

Dr. Seuss-ing It Up

Last week my mother in law informed me that my husband’s nephew was having an upcoming birthday. She asked if I would be willing to make him a birthday cake. Without hesitation I was happy to do it! I immediately had thoughts running in my mind to make something pretty simple, given the busy weekend I had planned during the nephew’s birthday party. But then, a challenge was brought on. Little did I know that this nephew had some unique ideas for his cake!Justin was turning 6 years old and has grown fond of Dr. Seuss books. In fact, my mother in law was explaining to me how much he loved the book, Green Eggs & Ham. This book inspired Justin to have a very green birthday… green plates, cups, napkins, etc. So, the challenge was to make a cake that Justin would like as much as his Dr. Seuss books, tie in the color green and have it ready with very little time aside to prepare. I was doomed.

After scoping out ideas from friends and the internet, I came across a cake made in the shape of Dr. Seuss’ famous red & white striped hat. I figured I could make that easily so now my cake plan was coming together. I mean, how hard could it be to stack a few layer cakes, tap in a dowel to hold its shape and place some fondant on it before calling it a day? Wrong.

I still had to think of incorporating the color green into the cake. So fortunately my mother in law suggested a pistachio cake. I was unsure about how an average 6 year old would take it, but knowing Justin, he would eat it simply because it was green. So that was the cake flavor I went with.

As I let my cake layers cool, I made a simple buttercream (butter, confectioners sugar, heavy cream). After that was done, it was time to start building. I started stacking my layers but soon realized that the cake was so moist it could not hold its own weight. In fact, it started to crumble as I started to put the dowels in. Uh oh. Thank goodness my husband saved me from a state of panic.

I ended up having to use my trifle bowl and lining the edges with strips of red & white fondant. With the cake practically crumbling in my hands, I decided to salvage what I could and layered inside the trifle bowl, alternating cake and frosting. To cover I laid white fondant on top and used some red fondant to make the brim of the hat. By the time this was completed, it was well after midnight.

So to finish this cake, I decided to put my scrapbooking skills to work and made a small “book” to adorn the top of the cake. Using the actual Green Eggs & Ham as inspiration, I made the book out of orange cardstock and used the picture from the title page to reflect the “Green Eggs & Ham” piece of the challenge.

In the end, it worked out well. My husband was able to safely transport the cake to the party (which would have been possibly disasterous, had my original plan was carried out) and Justin loved the cake. In fact, the parents that attended the party contacted me and asked if I could make cakes for their kids. (Let’s just hope they don’t have any unique requests for cakes…)

If I were do it again, I would definitely make a denser cake that can stand up to the weight and dowels – a pound cake recipe perhaps? Here’s the final product…