Desert Desserts

Sweet Sedona Cake

My second entry for the Nordicware bundt cake contest:
Sweet Sedona is a white cake with a butterscotch pudding swirl, to create and reddish-orange earthy tone. In lieu of frosting, the moist cake is instead dusted with cocoa powder, cardamom and cinnamon, and then sprinkled generously with a handful of dark chocolate chips. The earthy tones in these spices and sweets were selected to represent those that similarly make Sedona, Arizona’s red rocks renowned. People travel internationally to visit Sedona – a peaceful sanctuary surrounded by burnt orange towering rock formations. This cake pairs sweet and savory to perfectly describe a visit to Sedona.

Sweet Sedona Cake

~
The cake will be served this evening at my women’s guild meeting, along with a new batch of orange-cardamom madeleines. I actually found cardamom this weekend at a high-end grocery store — although I thought twice about buying it. It was $10 for a teeny tiny container. Regardless, I put it to good use and the flavor is interesting. It is indeed savory.

Madeleines, batch 2

Ingredients:
1/4 cup of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon good quality honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs

For glaze:
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest, plus two tablespoons strained orange juice

1. Brush molds with butter (or use PAM), set aside. Make the batter: Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in honey and vanilla. Let cool 10 minutes.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt in a small bowl; set aside.
3. Stir together sugar and eggs in a medium bowl. Gently fold in flour mixture until combined. Add butter mixture and fold until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes. (Set timer for 20 minutes, then turn on your oven to 325 degrees. 10 minutes later, your oven should be warm and your batter will be ready to come out of the fridge.)
4. Spoon batter into prepared tins, filling each mold halfway. Tap pan on work surface to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until cookies are puffed and edges are golden, 7-8 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cool slightly. Unmold cookies on rack and let cool completely.
5. Make the orange glaze: stir together sugar and orange zest and juice in a small bowl until glaze is smooth, thick, and opaque. Using a small pastry brush, coat ridged side of each cookie with glaze. Let set 15 minutes. Cookies can be stored in a single layer in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Madeleines

As if these suckers are going to be around in 3 days. And I haven’t quite gotten around to glazing these babies yet. Soon enough!
Source: Martha Stewart Living, May 2006

Viva Mayo!*

April has come and gone in a whirl of activity. My work has consumed me this month. When I haven’t been behind the computer at my desk, I’ve been editing my book on the home laptop. The good days had a bit of domesticity here and there. It’s been a stressful month and I’m ready to be more balanced.

I’m happily looking forward to May. I’ll be hearing this woman speak at a nutrition conference, traveling to San Francisco and checking in with one of my favorite friends and making my annual voyage to Nicaragua — preferably pronounced with a Barney** accent.

May will bring heat to Phoenix and fewer flowers to my garden. My skin will turn a darker olive, my hair will get lighter from long runs in the morning sun. It will bring ample time to celebrate, including birthdays, graduations and weddings. It is the unofficial start to summer.
And of course, one of my favorite days of the year: Cinco de mayo! Bienvenidos mayo. Vamos a tomar una margarita en celebracion a su venida!

~Kellita Guadalupe

* In no way is this a reference to my least favorite condiment.

** Have you read Barney’s blog? A girlfriend mentioned it to me the other day. My God it is hilarious.

A Dash of Stress, a Cup of Change

pumpkin peanut butter cookies

So, I lied. I couldn’t take a break from baking, like I promised. I suppose grinding it out in my kitchen is just part of who I am these days. I truly take delight in going through my cookbooks and shelves and whipping up sweets that are different and pungent and spicy.
Plus, I love the way baking makes my little house smell like a home. There are times I catch a whiff of chocolate cake rising in the oven and I’m transported back to my childhood home, my mom pushing her children out of the small kitchen and back to the small yard.

pumpkin peanut butter cookies
pumpkin peanut butter cookies
before on tray

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cookies

(If you like either of these, you’ll love them together. The salty sweetness is perfect with a glass of milk. Or a shot of Jose. Your choice.)

Ingredients:
• 1 1/4 cups flour, sift or stir before measuring
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 cup shortening
• 1/2 cup peanut butter
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 egg
• ½ cup canned pumpkin
• ½ teaspoon nutmeg
• ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:
Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder; set aside. Cream shortening, peanut butter, and sugars; beat in vanilla and egg. Stir in flour mixture, blending well. Add pumpkin, nutmeg and cinnamon last. Shape mixture into 3/4-inch balls; place on greased baking sheets.
Flatten each cookie with the tines of a fork; dip fork in flour periodically to keep it from sticking to the peanut butter cookie dough.
Bake peanut butter cookies at 375° for about 10 to 12 minutes. These will be cake-like in consistency. Be patient while they are baking! They are worth the wait.

But baby, it was in self-defense!

Do you have a type of music, or perhaps a band, that immediately lifts your mood? It’s Bob Marley for me. I just can’t seem to frown when I’ve got Bob on the iPod. I daydream of being on the beach in the Caribbean, with the waves crashing nearby and the drinks arriving with little fruity umbrellas.

~

I had such a nice weekend! While I didn’t get to those croissants, I did manage to spend time with friends, and bake — two of my favorite weekend activities.

Birthday girl Jenny

Ms. Jenny celebrated a birthday a couple weeks ago. We swooped on the opportunity to celebrate when she was home this weekend. Min suggested margaritas and the rest is history.
I made the dessert — chocolate cake topped with Cool Whip, by request.

Gray likes my baking

Baby Gray inhaled with approval. Look at those cheeks!

birthday craziness
Macayos craziness

My camera battery was slowly dying during dinner. I must admit, however, this is the way the world looks after a pitcher of Macayo’s fabuloso sangria margaritas.
~
In more sobering domestic news, I tried out the Martha Stewart Living Cookie of the Month recipe for May: Orange Cardamom Madelines. It took a bit of driving and patience to find the appropriate baking pan, but thanks to Bed Bath and Beyond, it was acquired. Also, I don’t own cardamom, so I substituted a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. These have been a big hit. I love how they are soft and cakey, but the orange glaze balances the sweetness with a touch of bitter zing. Yum!

plate and magazine

My only suggestions when baking these are to use as little batter as possible in each pan. They are easy to overfill and the results are uneven. I would suggest even using a measured tablespoon per madeline mold. Also, watch these carefully when they are baking. They do not cook evenly and I had one batch burned on the bottoms and raw on the top.

a little darker, but almost!

If you are ever looking for a Martha recipe or article, check out the MarthaDex. It is an impressive tribute to domesticity.

Got to run. Bob’s calling. Something about shooting a sheriff?

~K

Bundt Bake-Off: Sonoran Cornbread

Many of you commented on what I should do to make a bundt cake representative of Arizona for that contest I’m entering. Thank you!
After reading the NordicWare web site, I see one of the requirements for entry is — of course — baking in their pans. I have no idea if my pans are the same, but I guess I have to go shopping this weekend. Darn it! I mean, I just hate to shop, especially for new baking gadgets…

My first entry: Sonoran Cornbread

Ingredients:

2 packages of Jiffy instant cornbread (I’m being honest. I’m sure when I bake this officially for the contest, I’ll use a from scratch cornbread recipe.)
2 eggs
2/3 cup of milk
1 can of black beans, drained
1 cup of chopped nopal (pickled prickly pear cactus)
1/4 cup of chopped green chiles
1/4 cup of stone-ground yellow corn meal

nopalitos

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350F. Spray your bundt cake pan with Pam, or preferably Baker’s Joy. The added flour in this product helps the cake to come out of the pan with one clean flip. Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl.

sonoran bread pre-mix

Mix for one minute, making sure to work ample air into the batter. Holding your batter bowl, gently pour the mixture into the bundt pan, allowing the batter to distribute itself around the pan. Then take a small spatula and slowly work a small bit of the batter up the outside edge of the pan, about one inch. This gives the batter a boost and makes the details of the mold more evident on the finished product. Depending on the depth of your bundt pan, bake 20-35 minutes. Take bundt out of the oven when the bread bounces back after pushing on it slightly. The color should be a consistent golden hue.

Sonoran Bread cu

Let the cake cool in the bundt for 10 minutes. Slowly and carefully run sharp knife around the outer edge. Flip cake on to your serving platter. Let the cake cool at least another 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh cilantro and salsa.
Viola, Sonoran Cornbread.

Bread shared with friends

This sweet, embroidered bread towel courtesy of Atpanda.

On deck: Pistachio Prickly Pear Praline. (I need to work on the name.)

~K

Who Wants a Bake-Off?

Mini bundt cakes

I read this in the morning paper:

“The Bundt cake, the one with the hole in it, is an American icon. And simple to create: remove from the oven, invert on a plate, dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with glaze and serve. If you’ve got magic in the batter and can bake a cake that’s representative of Arizona (or your state), enter the ‘Bundts Across America’ national bake-off contest.
To celebrate its 60th anniversary, Nordic Ware, creator of the Bundt pan, is hosting the contest for home bakers. For a better chance of winning you might want to look at the Bakery Classes in Delhi to ensure you bring your A game to the competition. Entries will be judged on originality, taste, texture, how closely the recipe reflects the baker’s home state and visual appearance.
Budnt pants are available in different fluted shapes, such as cathedral,a rose, a star, a sunflower and for the holidays, a wreath.
One winner will be chosen from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. From the first-round winners, 10 will be chosen as finalists for the national award. The prize? A party for 50 hosted by Nordic Ware, with Bundt cakes for the dessert and $1,000 in Nordic Ware products.
Enter recipes and an essay on why your cake best represents Arizona between May 1 to Sept. 1. Entry forms and guidelines can be viewed at www.nordicware.com.”

Bring it. I can bake off like the best of the domestic queens. Now, the real question is, what bundt cake best represents Arizona?
I’ll take all the advice you’re willing to give. And then of course share some recipes of my own. What would you bake for your state? Give me your most creative suggestions and one will be randomly selected for a fabuloso culinary prize. Entries close April 25th at 4 pm Arizona time.

To the kitchen!
Kelli

Rock Star Buns: aka Catnip for Men

rock buns, cu

The first time I made Jane’s rock bun recipe, I got rave reviews. From my father. My very health conscious father who doesn’t rave about much, much less baked goods.
So I made them again.
And again.
And again.
They have now become one of his favorite desserts. While I’m not entirely sold that he loves them as much as he says he does, it’s worth the praise regardless of its sincerity.
I’ve changed Jane’s recipe slightly, adding toasted coconut, cherry flavored cranberries and orange zest. My brother received a few of these this weekend in his early Easter basket. He called me just to tell me how good they were. Not to ask for a favor, not to bug me about something trivial — to thank me for his new favorite treat. I know. Stop the presses. It made me beam.
Jane, you’re on to something here. We’ve coined her rock buns as Rock Star buns and the men in my family are officially in love.
A good medium between a cookie and a scone, they are fruity, sweet and addictive.

plate of rock buns

These may or may not be going with me to Texas tomorrow to celebrate Easter. I wouldn’t want to give away my final CAOK gift, but to know me is to know I can’t keep a secret. So, Papi, they are coming with me. Let’s just hope the airline people can keep their hungry little paws off of these babies.
~
CAOK is offically wrapped up, at least until I get home and have a chance to sit back down at my sewing machine. I’ve truly enjoyed surprising my friends here and there and sharing a bit of love. Karma has come back to me ten-fold. After swimming through a rough sea of not so smooth waters there for a couple of months, I’m now fanning myself on the beach ordering another margarita — so to speak. The old adage that the best way to get over your own petty grief is to focus on helping others actually works. Who knew?

Wishing you a happy and sweet Spring,
AfricanKelli

Fresh Orange Cake

Fresh orange cake stays moist and yummy for several days after baking, thanks to the additional eggs, oil and orange juice added to the cake mix. This is one of my favorite recipes from “The Cake Mix Doctor;” yet another cookbook staple at my house. I bake cakes about once a week, for my coworkers, friends at the gym, and even the guys who play poker at my bagel shop. Everyone knows I love to bake, including my friend Rebecca. She gave me a CAOK gift of my own last week — sweet new Kitchenaid baking molds in the shapes of flowers. One of the tricks of baking cakes for so many people is finding such molds; then you don’t have to fuss with plates and napkins and serving utensils. You just wrap up your little individual treats, or place them on a pretty serving platter, and away you go.
To continue the CAOK Week 5, FOOD! extravaganza, I give you fresh orange cake tulips and lemon cake daisies:

plate of flower cakes

These were an awkward shape and number to arrange on a round platter, but you get the idea.

Daisy close up

I glazed these with a mixture of confectioner’s sugar, fresh orange juice and orange zest.

neighbor's plate

This Easter dessert combo platter was a gift for my neighbors. We keep swapping treats. I don’t have the heart to tell them I’m not eating sweets right now, but my Girl Scout troop is thoroughly loving their generosity.

Do you have any special Passover/Easter/Spring traditions in your family? Is there anything special you’re cooking?

~Kelli

CAOK, Week 5: FOOD!

CAOK is winding up with Easter just around the corner. This last week of surprise sweets are literally sweet. Check your mailboxes because there may be a Easter basket or two headed your way!

Today, Easter Nests from Nigella Lawson’s “How to be a Domestic Goddess.”

Nigella nest
plate of nests
nest cu, better

This is an easy spring recipe, using melted chocolate, shredded wheat and a few Whopper egg toppers. I highly recommend this cookbook if you are looking for something a bit different. Nigella is the British Martha, but sexy and sweet.

Happy nibbling,
Kelli