Dana Banana Bread

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The only thing up for debate about banana bread is whether or not to add nuts.  Or chocolate. Or peanut butter.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups thoroughly mashed banana; about 4 or 5 medium bananas.
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup yogurt
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts

Topping

1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center position. Lightly grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.

In a large bowl, stir together the mashed banana with all of the remaining ingredients except for the nuts. Beat the batter thoroughly, until everything is well combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat briefly to incorporate any sticky residue. Stir in the walnuts.

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon topping, and sprinkle over the batter.

Bake the bread for about 60 to 75 minutes, until the bread feels set on the top, and a paring knife (or other thin knife) inserted into the center comes out clean. If you have a digital thermometer, the bread’s temperature at the center should register about 205°F. If the bread appears to be browning too quickly, tent it with aluminum foil for the final 15 to 20 minutes of baking.

Remove the bread from the oven. Cool it in the pan for 15 minutes, then loosen the edges, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool completely.

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Raspberry Turnover Cookies

INGREDIENTS

3 1/4 cups flour
2 sticks (250 g) cold butter
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons cold water
1/4 teaspoonp salt
2-3 tablespoons powder sugar
16 oz raspberry jam

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350F. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Sift the flour in a bowl and add the cold chopped butter. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour until you obtain pea-size crumbles.

Over the crumbles, add water, salt, and vinegar and mix together with your hands until you get a smooth dough.

Roll it on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut circles with a water glass or a round cookie cutter. Place a dollop of jam in the middle and fold the dough in half. Use a fork to press the edges of the cookie together and place it on the cookie sheet. When all cookies are formed, bake them at 350F/180C for about 17-20 mins. Remove from the oven and let them cool on a metal rack.

Dust powder sugar over each cookie.

Karen’s Carrot Cake

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The combination of pineapple, raisins, and walnuts make it a very tasty, indeed.

INGREDIENTS

2 and 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup canola oil
1 and 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large carrots, grated (about 2 cups)
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup Diamond of California chopped walnuts

Frosting
8 ounces full-fat block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, plus an extra 1/4 cup if needed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9×13 inch pan.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and other spices together in a large bowl. Set aside.

Whisk the oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract together in a medium bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Fold in the grated carrots, pineapple, raisins, and walnuts.

Spread batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you find the top or edges of the cake is/are browning too quickly in the oven, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.

Remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely. After about 45 minutes, I usually place it in the refrigerator to speed things up.

Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add 3 confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. If you want the frosting a little thicker,  Spread the frosting on the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. This helps sets the frosting and makes cutting easier.

Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Buttered Pecan Cookies

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Not too sweet and oh, so buttery.

INGREDIENTS

For the Buttered Pecans:
1 1/2 cups pecan halves, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the Butter Pecan Cookies:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, melted until browned
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
16 pecan halves, for decoration, optional

INSTRUCTIONS

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in chopped pecans and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Set aside.

For the cookies
In a large bowl combine flour, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda; whisk well to combine then set aside.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat; continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Remove pan from heat and pour butter into a large, heatproof mixing bowl. Add in both sugars and whisk well to combine. Add in vanilla. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating until eggs are just combined.

Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour, stirring until just combined. Fold in the buttered pecans.

Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, and up to 2 days. If you refrigerate for more than 4 hours, you’ll need to let the dough sit at room temperature until it’s scoopable.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.

Scoop 3 tablespoon sized rounds of dough onto the prepared sheet, leaving 2 inches in between each cookie for spreading. Firmly press a pecan half on top of each ball of cookie dough, if desired, then bake in preheated oven for 9 minutes, or until edges are set and the center is still a little jiggly. Sprinkle warm cookies with a little granulated sugar, if desired. Allow cookies to cool on the pan for 15 minutes, then carefully transfer to a cooling rack.

I got the recipe here.

Decadent Chocolate Cake

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Baker by Nature has some good recipes.

INGREDIENTS

For the Chocolate Cake:

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 and 3/4 cups flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed coffee or freshly boiled water

For the Chocolate Fudge Frosting:

8 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
20 Tablespoons (12 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
3 and 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS

For the Chocolate Cake: Preheat oven to 350°(F). Generously spray two 9-inch round baking pans with non-stick baking spray and set them aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, combine both sugars, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt on low until ingredients are thoroughly combined. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolk, sour cream, milk, oil and vanilla, beating until well combined. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Carefully add in hot coffee (or water) and continue beating until completely combined; about 1 minute. The batter will quite thin.

Divide batter evenly into prepared pans.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until wooden toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs attached.

Cool cakes for 10 minutes in the pan (placed on top of a cooling rack) before removing from pans and transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the Chocolate Fudge Frosting: Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl and place it over a pot of barely simmering water. Heat, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove the pan from heat, then carefully remove the bowl from the pot. Set chocolate aside to cool for a few minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the confectioner’s sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Once all of the sugar has been added increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla and melted chocolate and continue beating until well combined and creamy.

Assembly: Using a long serrated knife, level the top of each cake. Transfer one layer to a large plate or cake stand. Using a long offset spatula, spread a thick layer of frosting on top, then top with the second layer. Continue frosting the top and sides of the cake. Decorate however you want!

Macadamia & White Chocolate Muffins

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I have a basic muffin recipe and then I just add whatever flavors I have in my cupboard.

INGREDIENTS
2 cups flour
2/3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts (save a tablespoon to sprinkle on top)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips + 1/4 cup for melting
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled

DIRECTIONS
Melt butter and put aside. In a large bowl sift together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate bowl, stir together the egg, milk, vanilla, citrus juices, and melted butter until well combined.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir with a spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. The batter will be lumpy. Do not over-mix or the muffins will become tough. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with muffin liners or spray with nonstick spray.

Divide the batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups using small ice cream scoop.

Bake at 425 F for about 10 minutes, lower oven to 350 and bake for additional 15-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs.

Melt the 1/4 cup of white chocolate in a double boiler or microwave and then drizzle on top of muffins.  Sprinkle with reserved macadamia nuts.

New Jersey Crumb Buns + Coffee

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Since it is National Coffee Day, I made one of my favorite desserts…with coffee, of course. Thanks to Splendid Table for the inspiration.

INGREDIENTS

Cake
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon powdered espresso
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces and softened

Topping
18 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups cake flour
Powdered sugar
1 tablespoon powdered espresso

Directions

Start with the cake. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook, combine flour, powdered espresso, milk, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Takes about 2 minutes for dough to come together on low speed.

Keep the mixer running, add butter 1 piece at a time, waiting until each piece is fully incorporated before adding next. Increase speed to medium-high and continue to mix until dough forms stretchy, web-like strands on sides of bowl. Will take about 6 minutes and dough will be sticky.

Using greased rubber spatula, transfer dough to prepared dish. Using your floured hands, press dough into even layer to edges of dish. Cover dish tightly and let dough rise at room temperature until slightly puffy, about 1 hour.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13 by 9-inch baking dish.

For the topping: Ten minutes before dough has finished rising, whisk melted butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, espresso powder, and salt together in bowl. Add flour and stir with rubber spatula or wooden spoon until mixture forms thick, cohesive dough; let sit for 10 minutes to allow flour to hydrate.

If dough has pulled away from sides of dish after rising, gently pat it back into place using your floured fingers. Break topping mixture into rough 1/2-inch pieces using your fingers and scatter in even layer over dough in dish.

Bake until crumbs are golden brown, wooden skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, and cake portion registers about 215°F in center, about 35 minutes. Transfer dish to wire rack and let cake cool completely. Using spatula, transfer cake to cutting board; cut cake into 12 squares. Dust squares with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

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Smitten Kitchen supplied this decadent treat.

INSTRUCTIONS

Cake
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, any variety
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups coffee
1 tablespoon cider vinegar or white vinegar

Glaze
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon light corn syrup (for shine)
A pinch or two of flaky sea salt

DIRECTIONS

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of 9-inch round cake pan with a fitted round of parchment paper and coat the bottoms and sides with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and granulated sugar in the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Add brown sugar and olive oil, and whisk to combine. Add water and vinegar and whisk until smooth.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is springy and a tester inserted in the center comes out with just a few sticky crumbs (but not wet or loose batter). Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then cut around it with a knife to ensure it is loosened and flip it out onto a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way.

Make glaze: Combine chocolate, cocoa powder, olive oil, corn syrup, and salt in a medium bowl and microwave to melt, in 15 to 30 second increments, stirring between each until just melted. Whisk until smooth. Pour over completely cooled cake and use spatula to gently nudge it down the sides.

Cake keeps: At room temperature for 2 to 3 days and up to a week in the fridge. On day 4 in the fridge, ours was as moist as day one, basically a miracle.

Chai-Spiced Pound Cake

Even though it is sunny and warm, Autumn has arrived at Diablo Ranch.

INGREDIENTS

16 tablespoons (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2teaspoons ginger
2 teaspoons cardamom
11/2 teaspoons allspice
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups flour
1 cup sour cream or yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Icing
1 3/4 cups of powdered sugar
4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and honey until smooth and somewhat lightened in color; this will take about 2 minutes at medium speed of an electric hand or stand mixer.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute or two and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl between additions.

Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chai spice blend (or spices).

Measure the flour by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Gently but thoroughly stir half the flour into the butter/egg mixture. Add the sour cream (or yogurt) and vanilla, stirring to combine. Finally, stir in the remaining flour. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat briefly, to incorporate any sticky residue.

Thoroughly grease a 9- or 10-cup Bundt pan. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until a cake tester, bamboo skewer, or long toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven, and cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning it out onto a rack to finish cooling.

Whisk together the ingredients for the icing until smooth and drizzle over cooled cake

Whole Lemon Tart

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One of the easiest things I’ve ever made and I managed to overcook it a bit.  It was still good.

INGREDIENTS

Crust
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons very cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg

Lemon Filling
1  lemon rinsed and dried
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into chunks
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons (14 grams) cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon table salt

DIRECTIONS

Crust
Pulse the flour, sugar and salt together in the bowl of a food processor. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses–about 10 seconds each–until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing. Chill the dough, wrapped in plastic, for about 2 hours before rolling.

To roll the dough: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll out chilled dough on floured sheet of parchment paper to 12-inch round, lifting and turning dough occasionally to free from paper. Using paper as aid, turn dough into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom; peel off paper. Seal any cracks in dough. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang in, making double-thick sides. Pierce crust all over with fork.

To fully or partially bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes.

Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake the crust about 10 minutes longer to fully bake it, or until it is firm and golden brown, brown being the important word: a pale crust doesn’t have a lot of flavor. (To partially bake it, only an additional 5 minutes is needed.) Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature, and proceed with the rest of your recipe.

Cut the lemon in half then slice the lemon halves into thin wheels, remove any seeds, and toss the rounds — lemon flesh and peel — sugar and chunks of butter into the container of a food processor. Process, scraping down the sides of the container as needed, until the lemon is thoroughly pureed. Add the eggs, cornstarch and salt and pulse until the batter is smooth.

Pour into prepared tart shell. It will fill it completely but if due to slight variances in tart pans, egg sizes, lemon sizes or crust thickness, you have too much, do not pour it past the top of of your crust or it will become difficult to unmold later.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the filling is set. You can test this by bumping the pan a little; it should only jiggle slightly. In my oven, I find that the point at which the filling is set is also when it starts to get very light brown on top.

Let cool on rack, unmold tart pan and serve cold.