This year’s holiday dessert features the spectacular Egg Nog Poundcake I discovered last year. It’s easy peasy to make and looks gorgeous.

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All you need is one Egg Nog Poundcake (sans cranberries), 3 cups of cherry pie filling, and homemade whipped cream. You can add a little egg nog or nutmeg to your whipped cream, if you want.  Cut up the pound cake into cubes.  Alternate the layers of cake, cherries, and whipped cream in pretty glasses (for individual servings) or a trifle dish (for a buffet centerpiece). You can make it ahead and leave it, covered with saran wrap, in the refrigerator until you are ready for dessert. Just leave the last dollop of whipped cream for right before you serve them. FANCY!!

 

The Stupendous Six Year (my favorite munchkin) is a fan of Minions. And bananas. And cake. Mostly he’s a fan of cake. So for Family Night Dinner, I made a banana bundt cake for dessert.

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
5 eggs
3 bananas, mashed
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbs maple cinnamon toast sprinkle
5 oz plain greek yogurt

How I Made It

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a bundt pan with baking spray or butter with a bit of flour.

In a standing mixer, beat the butter and sugars together.  While that goes, sift together — in a separate bowl — the flour, baking powder, salt, and toast sprinkle.

When the butter and sugars are combined, add the bananas and continue to mix on medium speed. After that’s combined, add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly between each.  Add the vanilla.

Slow the mixer to low and add 1/3 of the flour mixture. After that is mostly combined, spoon 1/3 of the yogurt in. Continue alternating the flour and yogurt until everything is in the bowl. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and finish mixing the batter. It will be thick.

Transfer the batter to the bundt pan, spreading evenly in the pan.  Bake in the center of the oven for 45-55 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean but for a few crumbs.

Let the cake cool before turning it out of the pan.  Serve with whipped cream or a little vanilla icing.

How It Turned Out

A dense, moist cake with super banana flavor. The pile of homemade whipped cream was a lovely complement.

 

Banana Cake (2)

Banana Cake 2 (2)

These easy peasy mixed fruit pies are perfect for picnics and parties. The filling isn’t too sweet and the pastry is soft and flaky.

Ingredients:

3 cups of frozen organic mixed berries (strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry), thawed
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons of water
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 pinches of sea salt
2 sheets of Pillsbury Puff Pastry dough, thawed
1/4 cup flour for dusting
1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water

How I Made Them:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with nonstick foil. (These will stick because of the oozy filling, and I’m not sure parchment is good enough.)

Heat the fruit in a saucepan over medium heat until warm through. While that’s cooking, whisk the cornstarch and water together until combined. After about 5 minutes, stir the cornstarch and then the sugar, vanilla, and salt into the fruit. Raise the temperature to bring the fruit mixture to a boil. Stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick or scorch.  When it’s bubbly, remove it from the heat and set it aside.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough.  You want it to be thin but not too thin.  Then, cut the dough into 6 squares or rectangles.

To assemble the pies, brush a little egg wash along the edges.  Put a spoonful of fruit not quite in the center but far enough the edge to minimize leakage.

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Fold the pastry over, and crimp the edges with a fork. Cut three little slits in the top and then brush the top with egg wash.

Transfer the pies to the lined baking sheets.  Give them a good margin, because they will leak as you bake them. Bake them for 30 minutes or until a lovely golden brown on top.

Let them cool before transferring them to a serving plate.

How They Turned Out:

Lovely!  You can serve them with whipped cream, ice cream, or just plain.

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One note — I have a friend who is allergic to corn. So, I pulled a half cup of fruit aside before adding the other ingredients. His pies were just as good.

My favorite munchkin is going through a Space Phase. Rockets, Planets, Robots — we are enjoying discovering them all. For his sixth birthday, I attempted a rocket ship themed cake (not my best creation):

Rocket Fail

So when I found a cool space ship cake pan, I had to get it and try again. This time, I used a moist dark chocolate cake and decorated it with whipped cream and berries instead of frosting.

One note: This is my first time baking with Zulka Morena Sugar, a not-to-sweet unrefined sugar from sugar cane grown with no GMOs on small farms that use sustainable farming practices. I was very pleased with the result.

Ingredients:

2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 large brown cage-free eggs
4 tablespoons Hershey’s Dark cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
7 ounces (1 container) of plain 2% greek yogurt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup very hot water
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
2 cups very cold heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
assorted berries, washed and sliced

How I Made It:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and prepare two cake pans with baking spray. (This recipe filled the rocket pan and a small loaf pan.)

In a standing mixer, beat the butter and 2 cups of sugar together on medium speed until combined. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a separate bowl.

Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time, and then the vanilla, beating to combine.  Add the cocoa powder one tablespoon at a time, mixing at a medium-low speed (otherwise it will POOF and make a mess).

Mix in the yogurt at medium-low speed.  Slow the mixer and then add the dry ingredients in three batches (be careful of the dreaded POOF). You’ll have a thick batter.

Turn the mixer off before slowly pouring the hot water into the batter. Turn it on the lowest speed so the hot water doesn’t slosh out. You can speed it up a bit as it combines. Now you’ll have a thin, watery batter.  Add the chocolate chips as the last step.

Pour the batter into the cake pans. Bake them in the center of the oven for 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean but for a few crumbs. Let the cakes cool completely before decorating.

Don’t make the whipped cream until right before you want to decorate and serve the cake. Chill the mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for 30 minutes prior to making the whipped cream.  Assemble the bowl and whisk on the mixer, and then pour the whipping cream into the mixing bowl. Whip the cream on high speed until it starts to peak. Sprinkle the cream with the two tablespoons of sugar and continue to whip it until it reaches a thick consistency.  Be careful not go too far or you’ll end up with butter.

Top the cake with whipped cream and decorate with the berries.

How It Turned Out:

Out of this world!

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Okay — really it’s just a yummy chocolate cake with sweet fruit and cream. Getting to share it with such a bright star is what made it special.

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These brownies are a delightful concoction that benefited from a lack of planning.

A friend asked for something super chocolaty to inspire us at our annual independent living center board retreat, so of course I agreed to whip something up. Assuming I had all the necessaries, I woke up early to bake before our meeting — only to discover a serious lack of white sugar and no brown sugar.  What is a girl to do in such dire straits?  Improvise!!  And so were born these Dark Chocolate Maple Cinnamon Brownies.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
6 cage free organic eggs
18 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
¾ cup organic sugar
3 tablespoons 100% maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

How I Made Them:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a large 9×12 glass baking dish with baking spray.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl, sifting together with a fork until thoroughly combined.  Put the chocolate chips in a very large mixing bowl. In a glass bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.

Pour the melted butter over the chocolate chips and stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth.  (You may need to microwave the chocolate a bit to get all the way to smooth.)  When the chocolate and butter are smoothly combined, add the sugar and then the maple syrup. Stir until combined before adding the eggs in two batches, stirring to mix everything well between the two. Add the vanilla and give it one more stir.

Mix the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture in three batches, combining thoroughly in between each batch. You will have a thick batter.

Transfer the batter to the prepared baking dish. Bake in the center of the oven for 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes away with a little chocolate crumb. Let the brownies cool a bit before serving.

How They Turned Out:

Dense, very chocolaty, not too sweet — the perfect base for a fudge sundae or a pile of homemade whipped cream.

Brownies

This is a take on a traditional Italian cake. It is a relatively easy cake to make, and oh so delicious.

Ingredients

1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups of sugar
8 ounces part skim ricotta
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 2 large lemons
1 1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

How I Made It

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a bundt cake pan with bakers’ spray.

In a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. While that is going, in a separate bowl sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.

Add the ricotta cheese to the butter and sugar and mix completely.  Then add the eggs one at a time, mixing completely in between each.  Add the lemon zest and the extracts.

Slow the mixer and add the dry ingredients in three batches, mixing completely in between.  The resulting cake batter is more doughy than most batters.

Transfer the cake batter to the bundt pan and spread it evenly with a spatula.  Bake the cake in the center of the oven for 38 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

How It Turned Out

Lemon Cake

You can serve this lovely cake with a basic lemon glaze, or with berries and whipped cream, or both!!

Bread pudding is a favorite of my best taste tester, but for some reason makes an infrequent appearance on our dessert tables. For Christmas, I combined some of his favorites — egg nog, raisin bread, and cherries — to make a special bread pudding just for him. I recommend using home-baked or bakery bread that is a couple of days of old (I used Silverbow Bakery bread). And plan ahead — this recipe requires that you let your bread pudding sit in the refrigerator overnight before baking.

Ingredients:

1 medium loaf of raisin challah bread, cut into 1 inch squares
2 tbs Truvia baking blend
1 tsp ground nutmeg
4 eggs, beaten
4 cups of egg nog (fresh, not canned — and not spiked!)
1 jar fancy cherry preserves (not jelly)
2 tbs good quality bourbon (a little more or less, depending on how much the cook samples)

How I Made It:

Prepare a large baking dish/cake pan — 9×13 or a 10 inch round — with Baker’s Secret or other baking spray. I used a spring form pan so that I would have a lovely round shape to present.  Fill the dish/pan with bread cubes.  It should really fill the dish/pan, which is okay because you’ll press it down once you add the custard.

In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar and nutmeg. Add the beaten eggs and combine thoroughly.  Pour in the egg nog, stirring together until you have a lovely creamy custard.

Pour the custard over the bread cubes.  Use a fork to carefully combine the bread and liquid so that all the cubes are covered.  Using your fork, press the bread down so that it is compact in the baking dish.

Cover the bread pudding with plastic wrap, with the wrap on the surface of the pudding.  This is important because you’re going to weigh down the top while it chills in the refrigerator.

Put the bread pudding in the refrigerator overnight, placing a heavy plate or bowl on the top so that it smooshes the pudding down and together.

When you’re ready to bake it, put your cold pudding in a cold oven.  Turn the oven on to 350 degrees, letting the baking dish/cake pan come to temperature with the oven. (I do this because I’m afraid that my glass dishes with shatter going from cold to hot too quickly.) Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the pudding is lightly browned on top and a cake tester comes away clean.

While the bread pudding cools a little, heat the cherry preserves in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring continuously so they don’t stick or burn. When you have the consistency you want for your sauce, stir in the bourbon.

Serve the bread pudding with a spoonful of cherry sauce on top.

How It Turned Out:

Superb!

Egg Nog Bread Pudding