Category Archives: desserts

Stop the Rumors!

Legendary Cookies

 

Long before the Internet or social media, an urban legend circulated about a woman charged $250 when she asked Neiman Marcus Cafe for its cookie recipe. Her revenge was to circulate the recipe worldwide. Neiman Marcus is innocent of gouging anyone for a recipe and now prints it online for all to enjoy, but this urban legend persists. You’ll find it in Facebook posts and emails. In fact, I saw it again today on Facebook. 
Stop the rumors! Share this post with your friends.

The cookie recipe is a good one, although I reserve baking these cookies for the holidays. Too rich with calories for me! The first time I baked these, I took them to a covered dish Christmas party at our church. They disappeared quickly, and I had numerous requests for my secret recipe.

Here it is typed from my tattered Xerox copy I got in my Atlanta office in 1991. A tin of these cookies makes a terrific gift.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups butter 
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla 
  • 4 cups flour
  • 5 cups oatmeal (blended to a fine powder)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 24 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 8 oz.-Hershey chocolate bar, grated
  • 3 cups chopped pecans (or walnuts)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Cream butter and both sugars.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla.
  4. Mix in flour, blended oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips, Hershey bar, and nuts. 
  6. Roll into balls (approximately 3/4″ diameter) and arrange two inches apart on a cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes.

Yield: 100+ cookies

 

Note: This recipe is neither hasty nor healthful, but it sure is tasty!

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Filed under Cookies, desserts, Healthful Eating, pastries

Rachel’s Awesome Brownies

My mother-in-law makes the best brownies. Today I asked for her secret, and she agreed to share her recipe. As it turns out, her recipe came from an ancient (at least 50 years old) Sunbeam Mixmaster cookbook. She doubled the brownie recipe then added her own touch to produce this awesome tasting batch of brownies. There is no box mix on the market to rival these!

 

RECIPE

Rachel’s Awesome Brownies (modified from Sunbeam)

These are big sellers at our church bake sales.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups sifted flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup shortening or butter, softened
  • 4 eggs, unbeaten
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 squares (4 oz.) unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
  • 2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In large mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
  3. Add softened shortening (or butter), eggs, and vanilla extract to the dry ingredients. Mix on Medium (4) for one minute.
  4. Add melted baking chocolate and nuts. Mix for 30 seconds.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Pour batter into a 9″ X 13″ greased baking pan.
  7. Bake for 35 minutes. Check for doneness using a toothpick or cake tester.
  8. Remove pan from oven and allow brownies to cool before slicing.
  9. Cut into equal sized squares and serve.Yield depends on the size of squares cut.

I don’t use the adjective awesome often, but these brownies deserve the descriptor. Yum!

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Fat Free Dessert

How are you doing on that New Year’s resolution to lose weight? Or perhaps you vowed to eat more healthily. Forego all sweets? I’m a firm believer in moderation. If you say “no desserts” you’ll feel deprived. Self-pity leads to indulgence, which leads to discouragement and feelings of failure in your efforts to maintain a healthy diet.

One of my favorite choices for the occasional dessert is angel food cake. It’s light, versatile, and is one of the few cakes I prefer the boxed mix to homemade. Homemade is too time consuming for me when a mix produces reasonably tasty results.

I call this version Aunt Nell’s cake because my late aunt made it the first time I took my husband to her house. He ate three or four slices of it because he loved it! She loved that he loved it. It’s simply an angel food cake frosted with 7-minute icing. I thought it was amazing. (Because I suck at frosting, mine never looks pretty, but hers did)

To make 7-minute frosting:

In a small saucepan, combine 5 Tbsp. water (or citrus juice if you prefer) with 1 1/3 cups sugar, 1 Tbsp. light corn syrup, and 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar. Stir over low heat until a syrup forms. Using a candy thermometer, cook (stir occasionally) until it reaches 140°.

Meanwhile, using a stand mixer and a whisk beater, beat 2 egg whites until fluffy. Turn mixer to low and SLOWLY pour in the syrup. Remember it’s 140° and you don’t want to cook the eggs. After all the syrup is incorporated, turn the mixer up to its fastest speed and whip for seven minutes. Set a timer.

That’s it. Then you’re ready to frost the cooked and completely cooled cake of your choice. 

Aunt Nell's version was much prettier.

Aunt Nell’s version was much prettier.

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One slice is enough to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Even if a dessert is fat free, it’s still a good idea to limit the desserts in your diet. Enjoy.

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PASTEL TRES LECHES: Three Milks, Three Steps, Two Days, One Fabulous Cake

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One of my favorite desserts is Pastel Tres Leches (AKA Cake with three milks). It’s rich, so I have it about once a year. I’ve experimented with many recipes for Pastel Tres Leches. I narrowed down my search to two, one by Pati Jinich (Pati’s Mexican Table) and one by the editors of Cook’s Country and developed a hybrid of the two. I then tweaked it until it was—at least to me—to die for yummy. But I must give credit to both sources for the inspiration to master this dessert.

The cake is a two-day, three-step process, so one might argue it isn’t a hasty tasty meals recipe. I won’t debate that. But some things are worth the extra trouble. Pastel Tres Leches is a rare treat for me, and is worthy of the time and effort. If you don’t agree, then shop the bakery at Publix. They sell a good version of the cake.

First, understand that the cake is a cousin of bread pudding in that it’s a custardy dessert. If you accept that the dish is cake only in its infancy, and that you must feed it milk to grow it into a mature dessert, you’ll have no trouble following the three steps.

You may use a stand mixer, hand mixer, food processor, or the Vitamix. My version employs the Vitamix. You bake the cake, store, and serve all in the same pan.

 

RECIPE

Pastel Tres Leches

Serves 12

©2014 Cheryl Norman

 

Day One: The cake

  • Preheat oven to 325°. Spray nonstick cooking spray inside a 9” X 13” baking pan.
  • In the 64 oz. wet container of the Vitamix, whip 6 large eggs for approximately 30 seconds on Variable speed 1 gradually increasing to 10 then High. To the whipped eggs add ½ cup milk, 1 stick unsalted butter (melted and cooled to “warm”), and 1 ¾ cups sugar. Blend on Variable speeds 1—10 then High until blended. (Some recipes call for 2 cups sugar, but that was a bit sweet for my taste)
  • Combine 1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. Kosher salt, 2 tsp. baking powder, and a pinch of cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients in one-cup increments to the egg sugar mixture. Process on Variable speed 3-4 just enough to mix. Do not over blend.
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  • Pour batter into the prepared baking pan, place on the center shelf of the preheated oven, and bake 35 minutes. Batter will be wet and the cake will not raise much during baking.
  • When cake is done (inserted toothpick tests clean), cool in the pan on a rack for 30 minutes while you prepare the three milks.

Day One: The Tres Leches

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      • In a microwave safe bowl or in a double boiler, heat the contents of one can of condensed sweetened milk on Low until it becomes a light caramel color. Cool to room temperature. (This step can be omitted, but caramelizing the milk intensifies its flavor)

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    • Combine cooled condensed milk with 1 cup coconut milk and 1 can evaporated milk (both at room temperature). Or you may use 1 cup whole milk or half and half instead of the coconut milk.

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    • With a skewer, poke holes evenly into the cake at about ½-inch intervals. Slowly pour the three milks mixture over the cake until it’s completely covered.
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The cake will absorb the milks completely after a few hours.

  • Let cake rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Refrigerate uncovered overnight or at least 8 hours. This concludes Day One and Steps One and Two.

 

Day Two: Whipped Cream Topping

    • Remove the chilled cake from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving.
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Looking inside the Vitamix container, whipped cream should form four pillows and the sound of the motor should change. Turn off immediately. It’s done!

    • In the dry container of the Vitamix, combine 1 cup heavy whipping cream, 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract, and 1 Tbsp. corn syrup. Whip on Variable Speed 3 just until the cream thickens.
    • Spread the whipped cream over the cake and (Optional) sprinkle with 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut. Cut cake into 12 slices, and serve. Refrigerate leftovers for up to three days.
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spread one cup whipped cream thinly over cake (If you prefer, whip two cups for a thicker icing)

 

You can omit Day One/Step One and use a boxed cake mix, and/or substitute prepared whipped topping for Day Two/Step Three to save time, but it isn’t as yummy.

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Honey, I shrunk the calories!

Cool cake on a rack for 30-60 minutes.

Cool cake on a rack for 30-60 minutes.

Sometimes I want a dessert, and I don’t want something “diet” or “lite.” I want real flavor. While watching an old episode of Good Eats (Alton Brown) called “Comb Alone,” I wrote down one of his recipes for orange cake that used honey instead of refined sugar. I modified it a bit (Don’t I always?) and liked the results. So with apologies to AB, here is my version of his orange cake. Because he uses honey, it has less sugar and no fat (no sugar creamed butter with this cake recipe). I generously butter my Bundt pan because that’s the only fat added to this recipe. Finally, I use egg substitute to lower the calories from the 4 whole eggs he uses. It didn’t seem to hurt the cake, and it’s a sneaky way to lower the calories and cholesterol a bit more. But feel free to make this using 4 eggs.

This cake recipe qualifies as hasty tasty because combining the equivalent of 4 eggs with honey is faster than creaming sugar with butter then adding the eggs one at a time until each is incorporated. Before this cake finished baking, I had the kitchen cleaned and glaze ready and refrigerated.

RECIPE

HONEY ORANGE CAKE
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix together 1 cup raw honey (I used orange blossom), 2 whole eggs and 1/2 cup Egg Beaters®.
Measure out 1½ cups all purpose flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, and 1/8 teaspoon baking soda. Zest one orange (just the orange part. Avoid the white). Set aside.
Using unsalted butter or coconut oil, generously grease a loaf pan or small Bundt pan.
Gradually add the dry mixture to the eggs and honey. Stir in the zest of one orange. Do not overwork the batter.
Pour batter into pan and bake 30 minutes.
Check for doneness. If toothpick doesn’t release clean, bake another 5 minutes and check again.
Cool cake on a rack for at least 30 minutes. An hour is better.

Optional glaze:
Juice the orange and mix it with 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar to make a glaze. Pour the glaze over the cake when cake is cooled completely.

Yield: 8 servings.

Top cooled cake with optional glaze

Top cooled cake with optional glaze

CAUTION: Do not try this cake if you dislike the taste of honey. We happen to love it. Next time I plan to bake a lemon version. ☺

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Filed under Cake, desserts, eggs, Healthful Eating

HASTY TASTY HOLIDAY COOKIES

All you need!

All you need!

I’m not a great baker, so I’m a fan of cake mixes. I seldom make cakes, but the mixes make good cookies, muffins, etc. During the busy holiday season, I whip up these cookies in half an hour, which qualifies them as “hasty tasty” treats. They’re simple and as reasonably healthful as cookies can be because I use coconut oil. Coconut oil is a good choice for cookies because it is solid at room temperature like Crisco or butter but without the trans fats. Coconut oil is monounsaturated fat. Still, it’s fat and 120 calories per serving, so it isn’t a free pass. Hey, it’s cookies and it’s the holidays. Live a little!

RECIPE

Cake Mix Cookies

Ingredients:
1 standard box cake mix
½ cup coconut oil
1 egg

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°.
Combine the oil and the egg (I soften the coconut oil about 15 seconds in the microwave, but no more. You don’t want scrambled egg!).
Add the mix and stir to combine. You can use a pastry blender, but I use my hands. The heat from my hands helps soften the coconut oil.
Press or roll out the dough and cut out cookies (or you may drop rounded teaspoons of dough onto the cookie sheet).
Bake cookies on an ungreased baking sheet for 8-10 minutes, just until they start to brown at the edges.
Remove cookies immediately to a cooling rack.
Enjoy!

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Hasty Tasty Holiday Cookies

(Makes approximately 3 dozen, depending on how large your cookies. One-inch diameter cookies yield about 3½ dozen)

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Hasty Tasty Pecan Tea Cakes

This recipe idea came from watching Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade. I modified her recipe to make it a bit more healthful. These cakes are good as a dessert, as a breakfast, or anytime you want to enjoy one with a hot cup of tea!

RECIPE

Pecan Tea Cakes

12 Servings

Ingredients:

Muffins:

  • 2 cups Bisquick®
  • ¼ cup egg substitute
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup chopped pecans

 

Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 12 pecan halves

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Add paper liners to a 12-cup muffin pan.

In a medium bowl, beat together the syrup, egg substitute, cream, and vanilla, about one minute.

Gradually add the 2 cups Bisquick® and mix about one minute. Don’t over mix. Fold in the chopped pecans.

Scoop 1/12 of the mixture into each cup of the muffin pan.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted tests clean. Remove from oven and cool muffins on a wire rack.

While muffins cool, combine the powdered sugar, spice, milk, and maple syrup to make a glaze. Whisk until thick. If mixture is too tight, thin with additional milk.

Dip muffins into the bowl of glaze to coat the tops. Garnish each muffin with a pecan half. Serve.

Pecan Tea Cake

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