Sweets


Happy New Year!

Angela Lopez - Sunday, December 30, 2012

In 2012 I was fortunate to launch this website. And I’ve been so happy to work on lots of food writing assignments this year, as well as learn more about food photography. It’s been a great year and I want to thank all of your for your wonderful support. I can hardly wait to see what 2013 will be like. I wish each and every one of you a fantastic new year!

 

For years, my family has made sure to eat plenty of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day to ensure good luck and fortune all year long. Some years we eat cooked greens, as well. It’s so interesting to discover the different New Year traditions carried out in various regions and cultures.

 

I’ve recently learned of a little fried treat called Bunuelos. They remind me of a cross between a flour tortilla and a sopapilla. Bunuelos are quite popular to have on New Year’s Eve to bring good luck in the year ahead. Some folks like to couple the bunuelos with a creamy cup of hot chocolate.

 

I just had to give this a try. I invited the family over and fried up a batch. They were wonderful! I was quite inexperienced, some were shaped like hands, others were heart-shaped, and some resembled various continents around the world. But how can you go wrong with fried dough? My family ate them and they liked them. I was a little concerned when some of the dough disks started to puff up larger than I thought they would; I feared they would explode, but all went well. They were a hit.

 

No one may know why bunuelos are considered to bring good luck but it’s a nice way to try! Have a happy, safe New Year. Enjoy food made fresh!

 

Bunuelos

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¾ cup milk

¼ cup butter; lard or shortening may be substituted

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs, beaten

Shortening, lard, or oil for frying

Extra sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle on bunuelos as they come out of the skillet

 

Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon; set aside. Place milk, butter, and vanilla in medium saucepan and bring to a slow boil over medium heat. Remove from heat. Temper the beaten eggs with 2 or 3 tablespoons of hot milk mixture before adding the eggs to the rest of the hot milk; this will keep the eggs from cooking in the hot liquid. Whisk together until well blended. Slowly add milk and egg mixture to dry ingredients. Mix until dough ball forms.

 

Turn dough onto floured surface and knead 2 to 3 minutes. Divide into 20 balls. Heat oil, lard or shortening in skillet, (oil should be about 1 inch deep). Roll dough balls out into 6 to 7 inch circles. Fry in hot grease over medium to medium-high heat. You will know if grease is hot enough when bubbles puff up on the bunuelos. Brown one side and flip to brown other side. Remove from skillet and stand upright in bowl lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture while still hot. Repeat. Makes 20 bunuelos.

 

 


Red Velvet Cake

Angela Lopez - Monday, December 10, 2012

Desserts and other sweets tend to take center stage during the holidays, especially for Christmas. While I typically concentrate on baking Christmas cookies, and candy making, it’s nice to have a beautiful cake to place high upon the cake stand I only take out and use once or twice a year. Red Velvet Cake is the perfect choice for that kind of drama and has made a fervent return to the trendy world of baked goods. I attribute it to the cupcake craze we’ve seen around the country for a couple of years. But right now, I’m also seeing red velvet pancakes, waffles, whoopie pies…….even red velvet brownies.  

 

There’s something visually appealing about the dramatic contrast between the creamy white frosting and the deep red color inside the cake. And the cocoa adds that rich, inviting flavor, bite after yummy bite. Most say the name came from the fact that the chemical reaction from the acidity of the vinegar and buttermilk mixed with the compounds of cocoa cause a slightly red hue. During World War II, many bakers used beet juice to intensify the color. Red Velvet Cake became very popular in the south when, during the Great Depression, Texas-based company, Adam’s Extract, became one of the first to sell bottled food coloring.

 

If you are not inclined to deal with a layer cake during this busy baking season, this recipe adapts well to a 9-by-13 inch pan and your guests will be just as delighted. Use an ornamental piece of holly to dress it up and you will have a splendid addition to your holiday table. Enjoy food made fresh!

 

Red Velvet Cake

2 2/3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 ounce red food coloring

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup buttermilk

 

Mix flour, baking soda, and cocoa. In a separate mixing bowl with electric mixer, cream together, butter, oil, sugar, and eggs. Add food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla. Add other ingredients, alternating one half of the buttermilk, then half of the flour mixture then repeat, just until well combined. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 – 9 inch cake pans with non-stick cooking spray. Cut 2 – 9 inch circles from parchment paper and place in pans on top of cooking spray. Spray again coating the paper and the sides of pan, then dust lightly with flour. Pour half the batter into each pan. Tap pans on counter to release bubbles. Bake for 40-50 minutes, testing to see when toothpick inserted into middle of cake comes out clean. Cool then remove from pans and frost (recipe follows).

 

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 – 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 tablespoon vanilla

6 cups powdered sugar

 

Mix all ingredients with electric mixer until well blended and smooth. If mixture is too thick, add a tablespoon of milk at a time until you reach desired consistency. If too thin, add a little powdered sugar at a time until spreadable. NOTE:  When baking this recipe in a 9-by-13 inch pan, use half the frosting recipe.

 

 

Mississippi Mud

Angela Lopez - Sunday, November 11, 2012

 

Everyone needs a good Mississippi Mud cake recipe. If you are not from the south, you may not have heard of it; but once you’ve tried it, you’re going to want to keep this recipe! There are several different versions, but most commonly call for cocoa powder, marshmallows, and a few pecans if you’re inclined. I love it because it’s always a crowd pleaser. It’s not pretentious due to the fact that it is simply served right out of the 9 x 13 pan you bake it in. No need for fancy layers or cake stands, and no decorating involved; just pure deliciousness. Enjoy food made fresh!


Mississippi Mud Cake

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

2 cups sugar

½ cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, melted

4 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

3 cups mini marshmallows


Mix dry ingredients on low speed with electric mixer. Slowly pour in melted butter.  Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and mix well on medium speed for approximately 2 minutes. Pour batter into greased and floured 9 x 13 baking dish and bake in preheated 350 degree oven. While cake is baking, place pecans in small skillet and toast on stovetop over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Remove cake from oven after 25 minutes. Sprinkle with pecans, then marshmallows. Return cake to oven for 2-3 minutes until marshmallows are softened but not toasty. Carefully spread frosting (recipe follows) over marshmallows while cake is still warm.


 

Frosting:

16 ounces powdered sugar

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/3 cup evaporated milk

½ cup unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla


Beat all frosting ingredients together with electric mixer on low speed until combined. Spread over marshmallows while cake is still warm.  


Pantry Brownie

Angela Lopez - Sunday, November 11, 2012

 

This brownie recipe is one that my family occasionally enjoys as a Sunday afternoon treat. What I love about the recipe is that I don’t have to run to the store to buy anything special, like bittersweet baking chocolate or even chocolate chips. It simply calls for plain old cocoa powder which I keep in my pantry. Of course, there are those times when I have completely run out of vanilla and have forgotten to restock it. So, that’s when I go next door to my neighbor’s house for a spoonful like I did the last time I made these. I love having neighbors like this; they know they can count on using anything in my pantry or fridge, as well.

 

Another reason I like this recipe is that it does not require me to dirty up my mixer; I just whisk it by hand. And you will not see “cool and serve” at the end of the recipe; who wants to wait for brownies to cool? I will not be able to tell you how many servings this recipe makes either, because, I won’t mention any names, but someone in our house cuts them very large, so I have no idea how many “normal-size” servings it makes. I once read a recipe for a 9”x13” pan of brownies that said the yield was 2 dozen…..hmm, we don’t get that many.

 

So, next time you find yourself searching around the kitchen for something sweet, whip us a batch of these brownies, chances are, you will have all the ingredients right there in your pantry.  Enjoy food made fresh!


Pantry Brownies

1 cup unsalted butter

2 ¼ cup sugar

1 ¼ cup cocoa powder

1 tablespoon vanilla

4 eggs, beaten

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9”x13” pan. Whisk together salt, baking powder, and flour in mixing bowl and set aside. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sugar and continue cooking for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Whisk in cocoa powder and vanilla. Add eggs, whisking until smooth. Slowly stir in flour mixture and just until well blended. Pour batter into pan and bake 28-30 minutes.


Double Peanut Butter Cake

Angela Lopez - Sunday, October 28, 2012

 

I’m still doing well on my fitness kick, but once in a while we have to rise to the occasion. You know, those special times that call for something decadent to celebrate. We had dinner at my mom’s last week for my brother’s birthday. I knew just what I wanted to contribute. I spend lots of time dreaming about these things right now and less time cooking and eating them so I had had lots of time to think about it! 

 

For a very special treat, try this double peanut butter cake; both the cake and the frosting are made with peanut butter. The original recipe calls for a little vanilla in the frosting so add a little if you wish. My mom makes peanut butter ball candy that tastes just like this frosting; it’s so good….think peanut butter fudge! And surely you can replace the buttermilk by adding 1 teaspoon vinegar to 1 cup milk but I really like the consistency of the regular buttermilk. Enjoy food made fresh! 


Double Peanut Butter Cake

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup water

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla


In small sauce pan heat peanut butter, water, and butter just until it begins to boil. Meantime, sift dry ingredients together. With mixer on low, blend peanut butter mixture and dry ingredients just until mixed. Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla until blended. Pour into greased cookie sheet or jellyroll pan. Bake for 15 minutes in a 375 degree preheated oven. Note:  I like this to come out thin like a brownie or bar, but make sure pan is not so large that it spreads too thin. You may prefer a regular 9” x 13” pan for a taller cake.


 

Frosting

3/4 cup butter

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

6 tablespoons buttermilk

1/2 cup powdered sugar


In large saucepan, bring butter and peanut butter to a boil. Remove from heat and add buttermilk and stir in powdered sugar a cup or so at a time. I let the cake cool, and the frosting setup a little before I spread it on the cake and it gets that fudge-like consistency. But another option is to prepare the frosting and immediately pour it over a warm cake for a glace-type icing.


Chocolate Hazelnut Craze

Angela Lopez - Tuesday, July 03, 2012

 

If you haven’t tried a product called “Nutella”, you need to go out and get some today. But you may wish I hadn’t mentioned it; it’s a little addictive. This creamy spread is made up primarily of hazelnuts, cocoa, and skim milk. It’s typically on the aisle with the peanut butter in most grocery stores. I’ve heard it often referred to as a breakfast spread but I wouldn’t go that far – it’s a little decadent for that.

 

I’ve been a fan of this product for quite some time. But it has made a recent revival – big time! I can hardly pull up anything on the social-media sharing site, Pinterest, without seeing a recipe using it. Brownies,  cookies, grilled sandwiches - all made with this delicious concoction. I like using it as a dip for bananas, apples, or strawberries. Quite honestly, a jar of this and a spoon is where it’s at; that’s all you really need. However, I wanted to jump on the band wagon and incorporate it into a recipe.

 

I decided on cookies. My hope was that the recipe would render a chewy-gooey cookie, but it didn’t – they were crisp. So I decreased the cooking time by a couple of minutes. They make nice, uniform cookies with a firm, even texture and would work great for making ice cream sandwiches. Experiment with Nutella and see how you like using it – but don’t blame me. Enjoy food made fresh!

 

Chocolate-Hazelnut Cookies

1 ¾ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup chocolate-hazelnut spread
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together; set aside. With electric mixer, cream butter, chocolate hazelnut spread, and sugars until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; mix until blended. Slowly add dry ingredients until just blended. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto parchment lined baking sheets. (For ice cream sandwiches, flatten cookies with bottom of glass dipped in sugar before baking.) Bake at 375 for 8 minutes. Makes 2 dozen. 

 


Zucchini Bread

Angela Lopez - Monday, July 02, 2012

One spring I came home from the garden shop with what I thought was a mix of zucchini plants and yellow squash plants.  But when they started producing, they all ended up being yellow squash.  This reassured me that I need to get started earlier next season and plant “seeds” rather than buying plants then I’ll know what I really have.  I later told my neighbor about this disappointment.  And the strangest thing happened - later on in my garden, I came across 2 big ‘ol zucchinis!  Well, it turns out my neighbor was a little trickster and placed them there next to the yellow squash to fool me.  Oh well……..I sure did enjoy that zucchini bread I made with them.  And I even took the trickster and his wife a loaf of it; he said he might have to sneak zucchini in the garden more often.

 

Here’s a tip my mom gave me:  If you can’t bake right away, go ahead and grate the zucchini and place it in a freezer bag, then freeze for up to six months.  I use it for a nice treat during the wintertime when the garden is long gone.  I’m not sure whose original idea it was to put zucchini in a sweet bread but they were right on the money.  We just love this anytime of year.  Enjoy food made fresh!


Zucchini Bread (makes 2 loaves)  

2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 cup zucchini, peeled and grated, *see note
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (opt)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  With electric mixer on medium speed, blend sugar, oil and eggs until smooth; add vanilla.  Mix the remaining dry ingredients and slowly add to egg mixture just until incorporated well.  With mixer on low, fold in zucchini and nuts.  Pour batter into 2 greased and floured loaf pans.  Bake for 55-65 minutes, test to see if tooth pick comes out clean when inserted in center of loaf. 


Key Lime Pie

Angela Lopez - Monday, July 02, 2012

 

As luck would have it, I had to make a trip to Miami last year. I once lived north of there in Cocoa Beach but never spent much time down the coast in this Dade County city.  The trip was only 2 and half days and I made sure to order seafood for dinner both evenings. The first night I had pasta with Key West shrimp.  But what I was really excited about was a chance to eat at Joe’s Stone Crab the next night. I had admired pictures of this landmark in magazines for years.  It’s a beautiful restaurant and the food was good, but I had probably built up this experience in my mind a little too much. However, I’m so glad I was able to go there. I guess you could say it’s something I would have on my bucket list….if I had one.

 

I loved the atmosphere.Our waiter’s name was John; he was a sweet, older gentleman. John had a certain twinkle in his eye and looked like he could tell us a thing or two about good food. I decided to order “Joe’s Classic”; it consisted of stone crab claws, their famous coleslaw, creamed spinach, potatoes, and a slice of Key lime pie. We also had a large assortment of breads on the table. It was all very good, but to my surprise, what I really enjoyed was the pie. And when I want to take my mind back to that wonderful experience, it’s a lot easier to make this pie than to find stone crab in West Texas!

 

Key lime pie has very few ingredients and is so simple to make. Maybe it’s one of your favorites, or maybe you’ve eaten it at Joe’s. This recipe is the traditional version of Key lime pie just like the one they serve there - and when I make it, it reminds me of my enjoyable evening at Joe’s. Enjoy food made fresh!


Key Lime Pie 

Graham Cracker Crust

1 cup plus 2 ½ tablespoons graham cracker crumbs (or 1 sleeve of whole graham crackers, finely crushed)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar

 

Filling

3 egg yolks
Zest of 2 Key limes, (about 1½ teaspoons)
1 - 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup freshly squeezed Key lime juice (regular limes may be substituted)

 

Topping

1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
3 tablespoon powdered sugar


For crust:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9” pie pan. Combine cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar. Press mixture into bottom and sides of pan. Bake crust until set and golden, about 8 minutes. Set aside on a wire rack. 

 

For filling:  With electric mixer, whisk egg yolks and lime zest on high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gradually add in condensed milk and continue to beat until thick, 3 or 4 minutes longer. Lower mixer speed and slowly add lime juice, mixing just until combined. Pour mixture into pie crust. Bake for 10 minutes, or until filling has set. Cool on wire rack, then refrigerate. Freeze for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

 

For topping:  Whip cream and powdered sugar with electric mixer in a chilled bowl until almost stiff. Cut pie in wedges and serve very cold, topping each wedge with a large dollop of whipped. Add a little twist of lime for garnish. Sit back and think about being at the beach!