Olive Oil Cake with Pine Nuts and Currants

Olive Oil Cake with Pine Nuts and Currants I’ve been teaching cooking classes at the Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, and recently we did a series on Italian regional cooking. One of the recipes that made an impression on me was a Tuscan Pine Nut Cake. Very moist and flavorful, this was the kind of cake to serve not just after a meal, but with a cup of tea in the afternoon, or with a glass of champagne for brunch. A simple cake, but it has a lot possibilities.

Being a chef and recipe developer, I couldn’t just be happy with that recipe.  I made the cake again, but tweaked it here and there, and then went back and tweaked it again.

This is my version of the Tuscan Pine Nut Cake, not quite original, but so, so good.

 

Olive Oil Cake with Pine Nuts and Currants

Pine Nut Cake
 
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Serves: 1 cake
Ingredients
  • ½ cup dried currants
  • ½ cup moscato wine
  • ⅔ cup turbinado or raw sugar
  • ⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 egg white
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ cups flour
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts
Instructions
  1. The night before you plan to make the cake place the currants and wine into a small bowl and cover.
  2. Heat oven to 350° F.
  3. Grease and flour a 9 inch cake pan or 9 inch springform pan.
  4. In a mixer with the whip attachment on medium high speed, whip the turbinado and brown sugars, eggs and egg white about 5 minutes, or until doubled in volume.
  5. Lower the speed, add the olive oil, vanilla and almond extracts and salt, mix until just combined.
  6. Remove the currants from the wine, and add to the batter along with the flour and ⅔ of the pine nuts.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the remaining pine nuts on top.
  8. Bake the cake 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Cool cake completely before serving.

 

Sweet and Spicy Chipotle Kettle Corn

Sweet and Spicy Chipotle Kettle Corn

Popcorn is and always will be one of the best snacks around. It can be buttery, salty, spicy, sweet or savory.

You eat it the movies, you eat it at a bar, you eat it at home in front of the TV. My favorite place to eat popcorn is Disneyland, because they pipe the smell of the popping corn out into the crowd, enticing you to buy a bag. And we do.

I recently needed a snack for a cocktail party I was going to, and decided to make a flavored popcorn. I went back and forth between a cheese popcorn, a spiced popcorn or a sweet popcorn.

I thought “Oh what the heck, what about a spiced sweet popcorn?” And it was good, really good.

My friends asked for the recipe at the party, so I made another batch. And I actually wrote the recipe down this time.

 

 

Sweet and Spicy Chipotle Kettle Corn

Be sure to use raw or turbinado sugar. White sugar will not  give you the depth of sweetness needed to balance the heat.

 

Sweet and Spicy Chipotle Kettle Corn
 
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Serves: 8 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ½ cup popcorn kernels
  • ½ cup raw sugar
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the salt and chipotle pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a deep pot heat the oil and a couple of popcorn kernels over medium high heat.
  4. Listen for the test kernels to pop, indicating the oil is ready.
  5. Add the popcorn and sugar, quickly stirring to mix.
  6. Immediately cover the pan with a tight fitting lid.
  7. Shake and swirl the pot as the corn pops.
  8. Remove the pot from the heat as needed, but continue to shake it so the sugar does not burn.
  9. Once there is no more popping, pour the popcorn out onto the prepared baking sheet.
  10. Sprinkle the salt and chipotle over the popcorn, and let it cool.
  11. Once cooled, place the popcorn into a bowl and enjoy.

 

Slow Cooker Persimmon Butter

Persimmons, Cinnamon and Vanilla in Slow Cooker

Fall is here and persimmons are abundant. Farmer’s markets and grocery stores showcase them in all of their vibrant  orangeness.

I am lucky to be able to walk out my front door, go next door and harvest the sweetest organic persimmons from my neighbor’s tree. She doesn’t like persimmons, she just likes having fruit trees. The tree was sagging under the weight of the fruit this year, so I thought it best if I unburdened the poor little tree.

Persimmons are either a love it or hate it fruit. I prefer cooking mine, while my sister actually likes them under ripe! I also like the firm Fuyu persimmon much better than the soft Hachiya variety. The image below is of my neighbor’s Fuyu persimmons.

 

Fuyu Persimmons

If you are on the fence about persimmons, this is a great recipe to break you in. The spiced butter is so delicious on toast, on ice cream or topping a baked sweet potato.

Or eaten right off the spoon.

 

Persimmon Butter

 

Slow Cooker Persimmon Butter
 
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Serves: 2 pints
Ingredients
  • 2 - 2½ pounds Fuyu persimmons, stem end removed, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 vanilla bean, slit open
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup turbinado or raw sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients into a slow cooker, stirring to blend the ingredients.
  2. Set the slow cooker to high and the timer to 4½ hours.
  3. Remove the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean from the slow cooker.
  4. In a food processor or strong blender, carefully puree the persimmons and juice.
  5. Spoon the persimmon butter into 2 pint sized mason jars.
  6. Place the inside flat lid onto the mason jars, then screw on the ring lightly.
  7. Let the persimmon butter cool to room temperature.
  8. Store the jars in the refrigerator once cooled.

 

Dessert Hack Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cups

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cups

Who doesn’t like chocolate chip cookies? Who doesn’t like peanut butter cups? Put them together and you have these heavenly Dessert Hack Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cups!

I’m working with Nestle Toll House on this post, to tell you all about Speed Scratch baking. Speed what, you say? Speed Scratch, or utilizing a convenience product as a component in an otherwise from scratch recipe. I don’t know about you, but I am crazy busy most of the time. As much as I would like to cook and bake from scratch all the time, it is not going to happen. Nestle Toll House Refrigerated Cookie Bar Dough is the perfect dessert hack. It can be a base for a cookie bar, a crust, a topping and so much more. In this case, I transformed it into a peanut butter cup.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cups

Nestle Toll House Ultimates Chocolate Chip Lovers Cookie Bar Dough are pre-cut and easy to break apart, making it perfect for last minute desserts or just as a treat. I love that you can break off one or two cookies, bake them, eat them and not have to worry about eating too many cookies. If there are cookies to be eaten in my house, I eat them.  And my waistline is a testament to that.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cups

Dessert Hack Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cups
 
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Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • 1 (16 ounce) package Nestle Toll House Ultimates Chocolate Lovers Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 325° F.
  2. Separate the cookie dough into 12 cookies.
  3. Cut each cookie into quarters. You will have 48 pieces of cookie dough.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together the powdered sugar and peanut butter, until the mixture becomes a crumbly paste.
  5. Using clean hands, form 24 balls from the peanut butter filling.
  6. Spray a 24 cup mini muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  7. Place one piece of cookie dough into each cup, pressing the dough flat and up the sides of the muffin pan.
  8. Place one peanut butter ball into each cup of the muffin pan.
  9. Slightly flatten another piece of the cookie dough, then gently press it over the peanut butter ball.
  10. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough.
  11. Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes, until cookie is browned and done.
  12. Remove the pan from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
  13. Cool the cookies at least 20 minutes, then carefully remove from the pan.
  14. Cool the cookies completely on the rack.

 

And to make this even better, I am hosting a giveaway on Instagram! The prize is a $10 gift card to Amazon.

Here is what you need to do to qualify for the giveaway:

1. Follow @NestleTollHouse and @CherylDLee on Instagram.

2. Scroll through the @NestleTollHouse feed and pick a recipe you would like to try!

3. Leave a comment on my Instagram post with the following hashtags: #BakeTrendy #NestleTollHouse #sweepstakes

It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3!

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cups

Hot Days Need Cool Ice Cream

Homemade Ice Cream

Once again I show my age by referencing an old Eddie Murphy sketch from his Delirious video for my image. I can’t help it, it is ingrained in my brain because it is so incredibly funny. A classic. If you have never seen it, you can find it on YouTube.

But seriously, hot days need cool ice cream. It is summer and it is hot. A time to eat cold ice cream and ice pops while sitting on the front steps as the sun goes down.

Over at Mom.me, I have posted a few really decadent, delectable and delicious ice cream recipes. Click the links below to head on over and elevate your ice cream to a new level.

 

Mango-Ginger Ice Cream

 

Spiced Avocado Ice Cream

 

Chocolate Covered Cherry Ice Cream