Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Coconutty Pumpkin Snack Cake

Even the deliciousness of this cake cannot erase the sadness I must share.  I have baked my last this summer, and in one day I must return to college.  To ring in the new school year I decided to make something reminiscent of autumn and all its warm flavors, yet I wanted something easy and with as little mess as possible.  Snack cake! 

I suppose it is called snack cake because you can throw it together, like a snack; but this cake really sticks to your bones, so don't let the name fool you.  For a little extra decadence I added a broiled coconut and almond topping.

The cake is prepared in the pan, leaving you with barely any clean up and more time to enjoy your dessert!

Cake adapted from Betty Crocker's Cookbook; and "Broiled Coconut Topping" from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

Cake ingredients:
1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F.  Mix flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and spices with fork in an ungreased square pan, 8x8x12".  Stir in remaining ingredients.
Bake for 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  While cake is baking prepare broiled coconut topping: beat 1/4 cup packed brown sugar and 2 tablespoons softened butter until combined.  Stir in 1 tablespoon milk, 1/2 cup flaked coconut and 1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds because that was all I had).  Immediately spread mixture on top of cake when it comes out of oven.  Broil for 3 to 4 minutes about 4 inches from heat until golden brown.
Cool in pan on wire rack.  
Serve warm.

For even more decadence, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Baked Banana Splits

Craving the symbol of old-timey ice cream parlors but missing a key ingredient, ice cream?  Well, even if you aren't, you should make this and eat it anyways.  It is yummy, easy, and fast to make.  Don't let the garish black peel scare you off, obviously you don't eat that.  The peel is simply the vessel in which warm, gooey, sugar heaven is preserved until reaching your mouth via spoon. 

Ripe bananna
(everything that follows is optionable, tweakable, etc.  The flavor combinations are only limited to what you find in the cupboard)
Sweetened shredded coconut
Peanut butter chips
Chocolate chips
(other fillings: butter and brown sugar, dried fruit, candy pieces, nuts...)

Heat oven to 350-375 deg. F (depending on how firm/mushy you want the banana).  Cut off banana stem.  Slit peel at base of banana (where stem would be) and slit lengthwise cutting into fruit, but not through the peel on the other side.  Fill center with anything that pleases your fancy.  My only suggestion would be, if you are using marshmallows, save that for the very top, as that creates a nice crunchy crust that is fun to crack into, and that also helps to keep everything below from melting out. 


Prop bananas up on an upside down donut or muffin pan.  Bake for 8-12 minutes.  You can tell when the bananas are done because the skin will have turned black, and the bottom of the banana should be soft to touch.  If you are worried about the marshmallows burning, drape tin foil over top in last 2 minutes of baking.  Serve warm. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Frosted Peanut Butter Cookies

Earlier this summer, my mom and I were invited to a Pampered Chef party.  If you have never been to one, you are truly missing out, especially if you are the kind of person who likes to eat, or the kind of person who likes kitchen gadgets (very inclusive, you see).

After an hour of munching away on snacks, oohing and awing over the power of a special kitchen chopper, and socializing, it was time to buy something.  Mom insisted that I pick something out as a souvenir type thing.  I went with the miniature cookie cutters.  After waiting for five weeks for the little tin of cutters to arrive, I couldn't wait to use them.  Naturally, sugar cookies seemed logical, but I was in the mood for something a bit more decadent.

Recipe(s) adapted from Gold Medal No. 42: Cookies and Bars,
"Peanut Butter Spring Baby Cookies with Vanilla Frosting":

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Vanilla and/or Chocolate Frosting

Preheat oven to 375 deg. F.  Beat sugars, butter, peanut butter, vanilla and egg in bowl on medium speed until creamy.  Stir in baking powder and salt. 
Divide dough in half.  Roll each half of dough about 1/4" thick on lightly floured surface with a flour dusted rolling pin.  Cut into desired shapes.  Place about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 6-7 minutes or until light brown.  Cool 1-2 minutes on cookie sheet.  Remove from sheet and cool completely on wire rack before frosting (about 30 minutes).

Vanilla (Chocolate) Frosting
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
(for chocolate, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder)

Mix all ingredients until smooth.