Sweet Treats

Pound Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Bruleed Bananas

I know, right? I’m not a food stylist by any means, but it looks SO good!

Pound cake is good when paired with fruit or dressed up with booze, but it’s just decadent when smothered in chocolate ganache, a dessert that sounds fancy but is … alarmingly easy to make.

  • 8 ounces heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, in chips or chunks
  1. Put your chocolate into a heat safe bowl.
  2. Pour your heavy cream into a saucepan and heat on low until just boiling.2014-01-26 16.18.04
  3. When the cream is just boiling, take it off the heat and pour it on top of your chunked chocolate, whisking the mixture to evenly melt all the chips.2014-01-26 16.21.00
  4. Keep whisking until chocolate cools to the touch. Then refrigerate until firm– should take a few hours.

To make the brûléed banana chips…

  • 1 banana 
  • 3+ tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 brûlé torch
    1. Thinly slice your banana and place strips on a heat-proof surface.2014-01-27 15.26.07-1
    2. Cover the banana chips generously with sugar.
    3. Torch the banana chips until the sugar is dark brown and crispy. Remember this from high school chemistry: the hottest part of a flame is the tip of the cone *inside* the flame. (This makes sense. Trust me.) Brûléing takes a lot longer than you think it will, just FYI. Let the sugary bananas cool before you try to touch them!
    4. If you don’t have a brûlé torch, don’t despair! You can broil sugar-coated bananas in an oven or toaster oven to the same end. It just takes a little while longer and is SIGNIFICANTLY less badass.

2014-01-27 15.30.15Now, I’m sure there’s a way to artistically stack all of this together so it doesn’t come out looking like a big blop of chocolate. I… I did not do that.

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It looks like mush. But it’s tasty, chocolatey mush. With bananas.

I still have loads of pound cake leftover (party at my house!), but after today, I’m going to be getting back to the usually scheduled program and bring you a Cocktail Friday post. Did you like this week’s dedication to a single dessert? What should be next? (I think I have at least one vote for bread pudding!)

If your vote isn’t for pound cake, what do *you* think should be the trending dessert of 2014?

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home made pound cake with port cherries

 

Now, pound cake with jam is a simple pleasure. What if you want to kick it up to a Grown Up Experience?

Easy. All you need are some dried cherries and some ruby port.

It’s simple: rehydrate your dried cherries (or plums or raisins, or any other dark red fruit) by soaking them in port for an hour, then spoon the resulting goodness onto your pieces of pound cake.

2014-01-26 12.05.48

 

If you’re concerned about buying port, don’t be. It’s kind of the most amazing wine to keep on hand. Port is relatively inexpensive (you can find a fine one for $20) and fruity, and tastes great when reduced or boiled down into a sauce. Also, as long as you keep it stoppered tightly and in the fridge, it stays good for months. I used a bottle of Daniel Gehrs Fireside port that I’ve had in my fridge for a few weeks.

The cherries get a nice, boozy kick, but I didn’t end up pouring a cup of port wine on top of my cake to get that color. Instead, I just drizzled a little bit of grenadine syrup on top to get a bit of fruity flavor without all the drunkenness of high-percentage vino on top.

Now, if you’re trying to be a total badass, you can re-hydrate your cherries in brandy, too, and then flambé the brandy for a bit of craziness. I did not do this, as I value my eyebrows. I’m just saying, it’s an option. 

home made pound cake with port cherries

 

This is actually the first time I’ve ever used alcohol in a dessert, and I really dug it! Maybe next time, I’ll add a little bit of chocolate to play off the depth of the port, too :-)

How often do you make desserts with wine or spirits? And don’t forget to enter my give-away!

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If you’re looking for the simplest way to eat your pound cake, I say: as brunch, with a cup of tea, and a little dollop of fruit preserves.

pound cake with bonne maman jam

 

I mean, can you get any easier or more relaxing? Considering that pound cake stays for a few days, you can have it for breakfast or dessert for several days straight. I feel like it’s the perfect little bit of something sweet when you need it.

pound cake with strawberry jam

 

We don’t go through a lot of jelly or jam in our house, so when we do buy it, we buy nice stuff. We have two jars of Bonne Maman jams and fruit preserves in our house at all times– usually Orange Marmalade and Strawberry Preserves.

Because Bonne Maman is all natural, it gets a very soft consistency when you stir it up– it flows like a syrup with just a few stirs. I poured it over a 1″ slice of pound cake, and then topped it with a few teaspoons of powdered sugar. Paired with a strong-brewed Earl Grey, this is such a lovely way to start the day.

home made pound cake with jam

 

 

David thinks so, too. Normally, we try to have somewhat decadent brunches on the weekend– eggs and toast, with fruit and maybe even pancakes if we’re feeling super indulgent. But because this is so simple and easy to make, we can get a nice little bit of sweetness on a regular day.

What’s your easy, go-to weekday breakfast?

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Last year it was cronuts; before that, cupcakes and popsicles and donuts had their times to shine. This year, as I’ve expressed across all my social media channels, I’ve declared this: 2014 will be the year of the pound cake.

2014-01-26 11.51.59-2

Like cupcakes and donuts before it, pound cake is familiar, yet utterly adaptable. It’s easy to make and horribly, monstrously bad for you. (I was joking with David as I was mixing up the batter that I should make a pin with the caption “Paleo Pound Cake!” and then just link it to a page that has a .gif of me laughing at anyone who fell for the joke.)

2014-01-26 11.52.38-1

 

It gets its name from the fact that it literally takes a pound of flour and a pound of butter to make it. You can do a billion things with it, and if you bring pound cake to a party, not a soul on Earth will go, “Ugh. Really? Pound cake?”

This weekend, I made one from scratch and am dedicated to showing you a few easy and decadent ways to make pound cake the most freaking awesome dessert of 2014. To start, you’re going to need a loaf. Obviously, ain’t no one gonna do it better than Martha.

  • 3 1/4 cups AP flour
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 1 pound butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 9 large room-temperature eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 325. Butter your loaf pans– this should make two loaves or, like I did, one loaf and one 8″x8″ pan. 
  2. In a large bowl, mix together your flour and salt, and set aside.
  3. Cream together your butter and sugar for as long as you can stand–the more whipped it is, the better your pound cake will get. Trust.2014-01-25 17.33.00
  4. Scrape down the sides of your bowl, then add your vanilla.
  5. Lightly beat all nine of your eggs in a separate bowl. Can I say: you’re going to need a bigger bowl than you think you will for this. Again: trust. Once they’re beaten, add them to your buttersugar in four separate batches, keeping your mixer on low the entire time. Mix until combined.
  6. On your mixer’s lowest speed, slowly add the flour/ salt mixture, about 1 cup at a time. Stop mixing as soon as the last bit of flour is incorporated. Spoon the batter into your prepared pans and then, well, thwack them against the counter to settle the batter. Smooth out the tops, then put them in the oven.
  7. Bake 8″ square pans for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean; bake the loaf pan for about 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Let the pans cool to the touch, then invert the loaf onto a wire rack to cool completely. Store under plastic wrap or in an airtight container.

The pound cake is delightful by itself, but here’s a quick preview of the things to come:

pound cake collage

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Yesterday, we covered the caramel dipping sauce, today: apple fritters.

easy apple fritters with caramel dipping sauce

I took this recipe from Deliciously Yum, who keeps a very cute cooking blog filled with very lovely photos. She coated her fritters in cinnamon and sugar, but I had the caramel sauce in mind, so I skipped that part!

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup apple (diced)
  • 1 cup veggie oil
  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat together your egg and milk.
  3. Chop up 1 cup of apple, finely. Mine were about 1/4″ cubes. I could amass this much apple with less than one Granny Smith (my preferred baking apple, because they’re so firm!)ingredients for apple fritters
  4. Beat the egg into the milk, then slowly mix it with the dry ingredients with a spatula. Slowly stir in your apple chunks into the resulting batter.
  5. In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup vegetable oil on medium-low heat. Test to see if the the oil is ready for frying by dropping 1/4 teaspoons of batter into the oil.
  6. When at heat, I dropped 1 tablespoon of batter at a time into the hot oil, frying until a golden brown. I removed the finished fritter from the oil after 10-20 seconds (depending on oil heat) with a fork, and let cool on paper towels. apple fritters with caramel dipping sauce
Now, the last time I ever tried to deep fry something was in college, and I almost ended up burning down my entire studio apartment. I took extreme precautions when doing this, as I was afraid that the water from the apple pieces was going to cause everything to go wibbly wobbly in my kitchen. I have a gas cooktop, so that made keeping the oil temperature right much easier than it was when I cooked on an electric. My heat was on low-medium pretty much the entire time!
These fritters don’t keep particularly well, so I’d recommend making them when you have a big breakfast or brunch party coming up. They’re delish warm, but be sure to let them cool off for ten to fifteen minutes when they come out of the oil!
When was the last time you deep-fried something?

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Cooking with high-heat scares the living bejeezus out of me. I’ve made “real” caramel sauce before, but I’m honestly afraid of burning my skin off with molten sugar to probably ever do it again. I’ve always been intrigued about one-ingredient sweetened condensed milk caramel, and on Saturday, I basically figured, “Why the hell not?”

safeway sweetened condensed milk

Yup. That’s it. One fourteen ounce can of sweetened, condensed milk.

Peel off the label:

sweetened condensed milk without label

And submerge COMPLETELY in a big pot of water.

sweetened condensed milk caramel in pot

You’re going to want to simmer this for two to two-and-a-half hours. Check on it frequently to make sure it remains submerged. I had to add two more cups of water to this pot as it boiled. If it becomes un-submerged, it could explode. Yup. Explode.

Allow the can to cool for about an hour before cooling it with an ice bath. Just a bit of water with ice in it, swirled around the can for two minutes. sweetened condensed milk can ice bath

Then, open it with a can opener to reveal your GORGEOUS caramel!

one ingredient caramel can and serve

Hehehehehe. It smells amazing and looks even better!

This is how I served it:

one ingredient caramel sauce

Check back tomorrow to see what those little fried guys are!

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nutella frosting icing

I love telling new people about my blog. Though sometimes I get a little embarrassed (in person, I guess I don’t seem the Martha Stewart type? Maybe?), they usually ask me, “Well, what kind of things do you make?”

More and more frequently, I’m known for cocktails and drinks, but rather than seem like a complete lush, I try to say, “Oh, I bake.” Which is true. I just don’t bake as much as I drink. Ahem.

When pressed for more information– “Oh? What do you bake?” cupcakes seem pretty tame. But then I tell them about banana cupcakes. With Nutella whipped cream frosting, and I get the bright eyes of recognition (and respect, dammit!) that I feel I deserve. Ha!

To make Nutella Whipped Cream Frosting:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar, as needed
  1. First and foremost, you’re going to want to do this in a metal  bowl. Ideally, a metal bowl with metal beaters that you’ve popped into the freezer for a half hour before it’s time to make the proverbial donuts.
  2. Pour your chilled cream into your chilled bowl and beat until just stiff with your chilled beaters. Then, fold your room temperature Nutella into the setting whipping cream.
  3. Whip for a few more moments, and then taste. If it’s still a little loose, add powdered sugar and keep beating until desired consistency.
  4. To get the above swirl, I placed my whipped cream into a piping bag that had a few stripes of Nutella smeared on the side. You get a cute contrast in the whipped cream AND a fancy dollop on top of your cupcakes!
What’s your go-to impressive dessert?

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