Monday, September 23, 2013

Award-winning Apple Crisp

Fall is in full force here in Albany.  It's my most favorite time of the year!  I love the cool, crisp air, the leaves changing colors and, of course, the yummy Fall desserts!  This is one of them.  The brown sugar topping is crunchy and sweet and the apple filling is delicious.  Topped with ice cream, this award winning dessert is most certainly a winner!

Award-winning Apple Crisp

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups apples, peeled and sliced thinly
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine flour, oats, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.  Stir then add butter and cut in until crumbly.  Take half of this mixture and press into a greased 2 1/2 quart baking dish or a 9 in. square pan. Top with apples.

Put sugar, water, cornstarch and vanilla in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Turn heat to medium and cook and stir for 2 minutes.  Pour mixture over apples.  Top with rest of oat topping.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.  Serve warm with ice cream.

Recipe from Taste of Home

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Buckle up folks.  This cake is intense.
We are talking richer than rich, moister that moist, and beyond delicious.  I don't drink milk, but if I did, I would have wanted a big glass of it to go with this cake.
Our beautiful and extremely talented sister-in-law, Jen, made this the other night for my cute nephew's second birthday.  She got the recipe from her friend and neighbor, Heidi, whose husband, Jason, makes this cake for his family.  I am so happy that this cake has found it's way into my life.
(Jason also does an awesome job cleaning carpets and you can check that out here).

2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 Tbs. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans.  Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper.  Butter the paper.
*Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Whisk to combine.  Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend.  Gradually beat in water.  Blend in vinegar and vanilla.  Whisk in eggs and beat until well blended.  Scrape down sides and make sure batter is well mixed.  Divide evenly among the 3 pans.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cool in pans for 20 minutes.  Invert onto a wire cooling rack, peel off paper liners and let cool completely. (Cakes are very soft so you might want to freeze them for 30 minutes before assembling).

10 ounces cream cheese at room temp.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temp.
5 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter

*Beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.  Gradually add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly and scraping down the sides.  Beat for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add peanut butter and mix until blended.
*To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large plate.  Spread 2/3 cup of the frosting evenly over the top.  Repeat with the next layer.  Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with remaining frosting.

Chocolate-peanut butter glaze:
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 Tbs. smooth peanut butter
2 Tbs. light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half

*In a double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, corn syrup and half-and-half.  Whisk continually until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
*Pour glaze slowly over cake so that it coats the top evenly and drips down the sides in big drips.  Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes and then remove 1 hour before serving.

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