Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Apple cake with Brown Sugar Icing, Sea Salt and Chopped Pecans

Nothing screams Fall like a good apple cake.  This recipe is really delicious.  Forget about the old dense apple cake that feels like a brick in your tummy.  Rather, think it now like a fluffy and light apple cake, almost like a good muffin consistency, then dressed it up with this scrumptious brown sugar icing, and to balance it all up a sprinkle of flaky french sea salt and some more chopped pecans.  The result is just amazing.


- For the Apple Cake:

2 eggs
1 stick of butter at room temperature
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
3 cups of flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 pinch of salt
3 cups of chopped green apples (about 4 apples)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar

- For the Brown Sugar Icing:

5 Tbsp. butter (softened)
1/2 brown sugar
3 Tbsp. Heavy Whip Cream
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt

- Optional:

Chopped pecans
French Sea Salt (Fleur de Sel)


Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Prepare a bundt cake pan with melted butter and lightly dust with flour, or use the regular "joy of baking" cooking spray.

Beat butter and both sugar until creamy, for about 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time.  In the meantime, mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon) and stir them with a fork.  Mix the wet ingredients (oil and vanilla).  Add the dry ingredients to the batter in three steps alternating with the wet ingredients.  Mix until just incorporated.  Finally, add the apples and pecans and mix them with a spatula.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.  Let it rest for 10 minutes in the pan and then transfer to a cooling wrack.

Once the cake is almost cooled, start preparing the brown sugar icing.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts. It might look separated, but that's okay. Stir in the cream, and it should all come together. Bring the mixture to a boil, then pour it into a mixing bowl to cool for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, stir in the confectioners' sugar, salt, maple extract, and vanilla. Beat well. If the mixture appears too thin, add more confectioners' sugar, if it's too thick, add a spoonful of hot water. Be aware that it sets up QUICKLY. Pour it over the cake while it's still warm. Decorate right away with chopped pecans and french sea salt, if desired.


Source:  Brown Sugar Icing - Recipe Courtesy of "Cake0rDeath"

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sweet Pumpkin Strudel

I've made many pumpkin desserts but this one is simply amazing. Never ever tried something so light yet so scrumptious and delicious. Flaky, balanced, with great texture yet dissolves like a cloud... let me introduce you to "Sweet Pumpkin Strudels".

Just think for a moment, a flaky and buttery Phyllo dough, filled with the most delicious pumpkin and spices, rolled up, sprinkled with turbinado sugar and chopped pecans... baked and then drizzled with sweet honey and a dollop of homemade whipped cream... if your mouth is not watering by now... I would be shocked! :)

So, if you're looking for something more sophisticated yet easy to make than pumpkin pie for the holidays, this is your recipe!


1 set of sheets of frozen Phyllo dough (package comes with two set of sheets), thawed
2/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans
3 tablespoons turbinado sugar, or other coarse sugar
2 tablespoons honey, for serving
Whipped cream, for serving, optional

- For the Filling:
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
tsp. salt
tsp. ground ginger
tsp. ground nutmeg


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

For the filling: Combine the pumpkin, cream cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and nutmeg in a small bowl. Mix until nearly uniform and set aside. 

Place 2 sheets of the phyllo on top of one another and brush the top sheet with some of the butter. (Keep the remaining phyllo dough covered with plastic wrap to prevent it from becoming dry and brittle.) 

Place a well-rounded tablespoon of the filling about 2 inches from the end of the dough strip.
To shape, fold the bottom edge of the Phyllo up and over the filling. Fold in the sides and roll up to encase the filling, brushing the exposed dry Phyllo with some of the butter as you roll. 

Place the rolled strudel on a baking sheet, seam-side-down. Brush the top of the Phyllo with some of the butter. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle the tops of the strudels with pecans and turbinado sugar. Bake until the phyllo is golden brown, about 15 minutes. 

Serve the strudels warm drizzled with the honey and topped with whipped cream if using. 


Note:  It is important not to overfill the strudels.  Otherwise, they will explode while baking (learned that one the hard way ;)

Source:  Recipe Courtesy of  Iron Chef Michael Symon - slightly adapted 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hearty Kale (braised)

Kale is one of the super "veggies".  A totally underrated and almost not considered green because of its leafy crunch and slightly bitterness.  Many times cooked to death with lots of fat to give it a new flavor.  I have to be honest.  Kale was not a veggie that I dreamed about and I actually tended to avoid it if possible... until I got to this recipe, which by the way... allowed me to have two helpings of kale last night.  Sort of a life changing experience in my culinary world :)

The kale was cooked to perfection.  Delicious and so hearty and full of flavor. I especially enjoyed the texture. Super easy to make and so super healthy.  Give it a try, you will not regret it.  I promise!


3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 lb. kale, stemmed, leaves chopped into 3-inch pieces.
1 cup homemade chicken stock or low sodium store bought chicken broth
1 cup of water
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2-3 tsp juice of 1 lemon (I squeezed a half of a lemon for this recipe)


Heat two tablespoons of oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering.  Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and beginning to brown, 4 to 5 minutes.  Add garlic and pepper flakes; cook until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add half of the greens and stir until beginning to wilt, about 1 minute.  Add remaining greens, broth, water and 1/4 teaspoon salt; quickly cover and reduce heat to medium low.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until greens are tender, about 25 to 35 minutes.  (I personally like them with a bit of texture, so I only cooked this part for 25 minutes).

Remove lid and increase heat to medium - high.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of liquid has evaporated (bottom of the pot will be almost dry, and greens will begin to sizzle), 8 to 12 minutes.  remove pot from heat; stir in 2 teaspoon of lemon juice and remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Season with remaining lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.  Serve and enjoy!

Source:  Recipe courtesy of "Cooks Illustrated" - Slightly adapted.