Monday, May 30, 2011

Coconut Milk Caramel Cupcakes

You all are probably wondering one of two things right now - the first being were all my birthday posts were for April, or when I was going to end my obsession with coconut milk caramel.

Well, the answer to the first is easy - I haven't made Tim's cupcakes yet (and I think they will probably look suspiciously like whoopie pies this year), my nephew Ryan never returned my phone call on what kind he wanted, and my brother sticks with the classics and wanted the same thing as last year.

The answer to the second, however, is even easier - never. I can't imagine not loving this stuff. I do have good news for you, though. You can make it in a crock pot. I tried it for this recipe, and it came out perfectly. I used a small crock pot, and kept the heat on low, but it came out wonderfully. This is not set it and forget it food, though. You do have to stir it a few times, but it tasted as good as when I made it on the stove top.

Now, on to the cupcakes. I didn't really know what kind to make for Fawn's birthday. I had a few ideas, but since she likes coconut milk caramel as much as I do, I thought she would love these. And, she did.

I've only made this recipe a few times, but I do want to share it. I searched for dulce de leche cupcakes before I made these, thinking I could substitute the coconut milk caramel in, but I couldn't find a recipe for dulce de leche cupcakes where there was actually caramel in the cake batter. Filled - check. Frosted - check. Actually caramel baked into the cupcakes - couldn't find. I'm convinced this recipe can be easily adapted for dulce de leche cupcakes, so let me know if you do it! I think 1 cup of dulce de leche and 1/2 cup of milk would be a great substitute, by the way!

After tasting these cupcakes, I decided they were pretty sweet and needed cream cheese frosting. So, that's what I used. And, it was the perfect frosting for these cupcakes. They were gone quickly and received rave reviews!

For a .pdf, click here!

Coconut Milk Caramel Cupcakes

Makes 12-15 cupcakes

1 batch coconut milk caramel – about 1 ½ cups

1 ½ cups flour

½ c. vegetable oil

1 egg

½ t. vanilla

1 t. baking powder

½ t. salt

Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, combine coconut milk caramel, oil, egg, salt, and vanilla. Mix until well combined. Add flour and baking powder, and stir until just combined.

Bake at 350 for 10-17 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely and frost with cream cheese frosting.

Coconut Milk Caramel (crock pot version)

1 15 oz can coconut milk

1 ½ c. brown sugar

1” ginger, peeled and cut into planks

½ t. salt

In a small crockpot, stir all ingredients and set on low. Let cook for 4-5 hours (uncovered), stirring every hour. When mixture has turned deep caramel, turn crockpot off.

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 cups powdered sugar

8 oz cream cheese

1/3 c. butter

2-4 tablespoons cream

1 t. vanilla

Pinch salt

In a large mixing bowl, beat all ingredients except cream until light and fluffy. Add cream, one tablespoon at a time, beating the mixture 1-2 minutes after each addition.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

May 2011 Daring Baker Challenge - Marquise on Meringue

Or, in my case Meringue-less Marquise!

The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle.

I'm going to have to visit that restaurant in Seattle, because their pictures looked fantastic! But, here I am, a day late - and I hate to be late! - and no meringue. Honestly, I just wasn't feeling the meringue. Thank you again Emma and Jenny for the great challenge!

This recipe intimidated me. It seemed to make a life time supply of things, and things like tequila caramel didn't sound very tasty to me. Keep in mind, tequila and I have a checkered past, so it never sounds good to me. It's all my fault...I had to learn the hard way that tequila shots with diet coke to wash it down tastes like finger nail polish remover!

I wasn't really feeling the eggs in this recipe, so I sort of made the vegan version. I say sort of, because I ended up unveganizing it. I used Dove Dark Chocolate bars instead of the vegan chips, and then I whipped in some whipped cream to make it fluffier. I really loved the flavor, though!

My marquis is floating in a pool of butterscotch sauce - I simply substituted scotch for the tequila in the sauce recipe, and subbed brown sugar for white. The sauce is yummy. I'm saving it for some ice cream sundae cravings later.

And, finally, I made Cinnamon-Ginger roast pecans, rather than the almonds. I added 1 t. ginger to the original recipe, and left out the cayenne -we all know how much of a cayenne whimp I am.

Did I love this challenge? Well, sort of. It's been difficult for me to get into a summer dessert fling. I'm trying to diet - and it just doesn't look like summer yet here. We are still getting more than our share of rain - as I write this, it is literally raining sheets...

For the recipe, follow the link. They did an amazing job explaining everything you need to do!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Honeyed Fig Cheesecake

Just look at that little gem. And, to top it off, it's so tasty!

I have been thinking about this - yea, I know. Another thing on my to do list! At least the list is getting shorter. Well, it's not getting shorter, there are just more diverse things on the list.

I originally thought about this combination last year. I was missing my fig tree and bought some figs at Trader Joe's. When I got home, I realized I didn't have any brie - I love figs and brie on crackers. So I substituted cream cheese.

It wasn't as stellar a combination as the brie, but it still was amazing. That immediately made me think of figs in cheesecake.

I decided to use a fig jam and honey to sweeten the cheesecake. It turned out really nice! I'm sure you can imagine a nice honey fig cheesecake topped with shaved dark chocolate - the ultimate dessert for a fig lover.

I have a little tip for those of you out there that want to try the chocolate shavings - I froze a dark chocolate candy bar, then took my microplane grater to it. That worked really well. Of course, you can use semi-sweet or milk chocolate, but I really like the taste of figs with dark chocolate - the figs tend to be very sweet, so the dark chocolate pairs well with it.

This cheesecake also goes well with fresh raspberries! For a printable version of the recipe, click here. Enjoy!

Honeyed Fig Cheesecake

Makes one 7” cheesecake

For the crust:

1 ½ cup graham cracker crumbs

5 ½ T. melted butter

2 T. brown sugar

Combine all ingredients and press into your 7” springform pan, gently pressing up the sides.

For the cheesecake:

24 oz cream cheese

3 eggs

1 8-10 oz. prepared fig jam

½ c. honey

2/3 t. salt

1 t. vanilla

½ c. dried figs, finely chopped

3 T. cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350. Beat cream cheese for about 1 minute, until a little lighter. Add jam and honey, and mix for 2 minutes, until well mixed. Add eggs, salt, vanilla, dried figs, and cornstarch, and beat for 2-3 minutes until the cheesecake mix is a consistent batter.

Pour on top of prepared crust and bake for 50-55 minutes, until center is just starting to set. Remove from oven and let sit about 1 hour. Refrigerate to store, but let your cheesecake warm a bit to room temperature to serve.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Yea, I know...I know! This is another one of "those recipes". One of these that you think may not work, and you have a skeptical look on your face. Trust me, I know all about this. It's the exact same look as when I brought my first batch of this I took over to Fawn and Matt's. Until they tasted it.

Doesn't that pan of bubbly goodness look tasty though? And I wonder why I don't lose weight even after I spend an hour a day at the gym...That is another story, though!

I'm not going to say this recipe is gluten free, because I haven't really cooked gluten free, so I can't guarantee things like tomato sauce and pepperoni are gluten free. But, this is an amazing alternative to lasagna, and doesn't contain pasta of any sort.

I got the idea of this recipe from that old cookbook of my mom's. You know the one - one that you bought from someone in school that was created for a fundraiser. There are some good cooks around here! And, once I saw the title, I knew I had to try it. With my own spin, of course. I'm beginning to think there is something magical about that book.

I also made some individual spudzana's. This one is a picture so you can see the layers. Yea, it is cold, but it reheats very well! I just wanted to show the layers, and that is a tough thing to do in a hot dish when the cheese is all melty.

I did want to talk a little about the meat sauce I used in this. I used extra lean ground beef, and I'm very confident you could substitute ground turkey or chicken. You could also easily make this a vegetarian dish by using tofu crumbles. It's hard to say how much fat is in the beef I use, but I'm pretty sure it's 95% lean. My brother Brian's butcher doesn't say what % fat is in the ground beef, so I don't know. I do know 1 lb of hamburger yields about 1-2 T. excess fat, if any at all.

I also wanted to talk a bit about the pepperoni. It's great to saute some pepperoni and just add it to tomato sauce. It makes an amazing tomato sauce. If you want to veganize the recipe, you can substitute 1 t. of italian seasoning mix and a few dashes of red pepper flakes. But, this is a lot better with the pepperoni sauce.

And, finally, it's easier to slice the potatoes thinly with a food processor or mandoline, but if you do use a mandoline, please be careful...mine really likes the taste of fingers...

For a printable version of the recipe, click here.


2 medium to large size potatoes, I prefer russets, about 1lb.

Meat sauce (recipe below)

2 eggs

8 oz small curd cottage cheese

1 ½ cups parmesan cheese

2 cups mozzarella cheese

½ t. salt

½ t. pepper

1 T. oil

Preheat oven to 350. Peel potatoes and cut into very thin slices and place in a bowl of very cold water. This takes a bit of the starch off as well as prevents browning while you are assembling the dish.

In another bowl, combine cottage cheese, eggs, and ½ c. mozzarella cheese. Mix until well combined.

In a deep 9x9” baking pan, place ½ T. oil and brush the bottom and sides. Place one layer of potatoes in pan. Put ½ of the meat sauce on the potatoes, followed by another layer of potatoes, the cottage cheese mixture, more potatoes, the remaining meat sauce, and a final layer of potatoes.

Sprinkle remaining cheese over the final potato layer and drizzle the remaining oil. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until potatoes are soft and cheese is nicely browned. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.

Meat Sauce

1 lb lean ground beef

16 oz can tomato sauce

16 oz can diced tomatoes

25 pepperoni slices, finely diced

½ t. pepper

2 garlic cloves

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 T. butter

Heat a large pan over medium heat. Melt butter and sauté onions for 2 minutes until translucent. Remove onions from pan, and saute ground beef until fully cooked. Add pepperoni and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add in onions. Add in remaining ingredients and adjust seasonings to taste, adding more salt, pepper, or Italian seasonings if needed.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Pecan Caramel Filling

I'm a bad friend. This post is partly about that... My wonderful friend Eileen sent me a bundt cake pan last November. I used it within 2 weeks, but didn't like the pictures, or how the recipe came out, so I didn't post it. Yes, I did thank her for the cake pan - I love it, but I didn't post a recipe. Now, although this recipe probably makes up for it, I know she doesn't really eat chocolate. But, then again, she's in California, so wouldn't be getting a slice anyway.

I'm also a sneaky sister in law...when I made German Chocolate Cupcakes for my brother for his birthday, Fawn took the leftover cupcakes but refused to take the leftover Coconut Pecan Frosting. I stuck it in the freezer for a few weeks, and pondered what to do with it.

And, that's how this cake was born. While I was patting myself on the back for a creative use of leftovers, I had completely forgot that Fawn didn't want the leftovers until after I was driving to her house to deliver it. Oh well, Matt still loved it.

This is a great little cake recipe. It's moist, it's dense, and it's really chocolatey. And, that sweet filling compliments it perfectly. As you can see, I didn't frost it - it doesn't need it. But, if you can't resist, you could drizzle some melted chocolate over the cake before serving.

I modified this recipe from Allrecipes. The first time I made it, I was happy with the cake, but disappointed the coconut filling didn't sink to the middle like it was supposed to. I used insurance this time, and placed the filling in the middle to start off.

It's a good little cake, but that pic is crying for a cup of coffee or a nice cold glass of milk..or in my case, soy milk.

For a .pdf of the recipe, click here.

Chocolate Bundt cake with Pecan Caramel Filling
Inspired by
And a few leftovers…

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
2 t. vanilla extract
½ c. oil
2/3 c. milk
3 eggs

For the filling:

¼ cup plus 2 T. cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 egg yolks
1/4 c. butter
1 t. vanilla
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1/2 cup coconut

In a saucepan, combine cream, sugar, brown sugar, egg yolks, and butter. Cook on low heat, stirring
constantly until very thick. Remove from heat, add coconut, vanilla, and pecans. Let cool

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray a 10 cup bundt pan. Dust pan with 2 T. cocoa powder.

In a large bowl, combine sugars, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda. Add vanilla, oil, milk, and eggs. Mix very well. Add flour and stir until combined. Place ½ the batter in the bundt pan.

Make a little tunnel in the middle and place the filling inside. Spoon the rest of the batter over the filling and cake, being careful that no filling touches the side of the pan.

Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack 15-20 minutes, then invert onto a dish and continue cooling. Serve with chocolate sauce or whipped cream. Or a glass of milk.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Root Beer Float Cheesecake

Yea, that's right. You heard me. This is yet another one of my brainstorms. I have been on quite a roll lately. Only a few complete failures...well, lets not call them failures. They just didn't give me the results I had hoped for.

This one is not one of those. Actually, from the picture, you could almost think it was chocolate. But, it's's root beer. Now, don't turn up your nose. If you like root beer floats, you will love this cheesecake. It's got the root beer flavor. It's got the dairy, it's got the creaminess.

It's quite delicious. The crust had me a bit stumped, to be honest here. I think I made a good choice by sticking with vanilla. We all know that you serve root beer floats with vanilla ice cream, so it is a good combination. Also, I chose to go with a slightly baked sour cream topping on my cheesecake. It provided just enough tang to compliment that delicious root beer filling.

I used root beer concentrate in this recipe. You can find it by the extracts in most grocery stores. Even the grocery store in my tiny town has it, so I'm sure you won't have any problem finding it.

If you like root beer, this is the cheesecake for you! For a printable recipe, click here.

Root Beer Float Cheesecake

For the crust:

1 ½ cups vanilla wafer crumbs

5 T. melted butter

Mix crumbs and butter together until mixture resembles wet sand. Press into 7-8” cheesecake pan, pressing up the sides evenly. Let rest while you make the cheesecake filling.

For the sour cream topping:

1 cup sour cream

¼ c. sugar

1 t. vanilla extract

Mix until combined.

For the filling:

24 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature

3 eggs

1 1/3 cup sugar

2 T. root beer concentrate (you can find this in the extract section of most supermarkets)

2 T. cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix cream cheese until a bit softened for about 1 minute with an electric mixer. Add sugar and mix until well combined. Add eggs, root beer concentrate, and corn starch, mixing until well combined.

Pour over crust and bake for 45-55 minutes, until center has lost most of its jiggle. Take out of oven and top with sour cream topping. Bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until sour cream topping is lightly browned.

Cool for 1-2 hours on a baking rack, and then overnight in the refrigerator. Serve slightly chilled.