Easter Dessert: Seriously Simple Pound Cake

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While at my conference last week in Denver, I had a conversation with a cookbook publisher to kick around some cookbook ideas. He asked me,  ‘What is it that I am specifically passionate about?” Obviously, I am passionate about this blog, or I wouldn’t be doing it. One of my other clients said, “I light up when I talk about the blog”. So, I started thinking… what is it that I love that I would want to do a cookbook on? I love simple, fresh food. I love sweet treats that are easy to prepare, but still taste awesome. I love easy meals that even my kids will eat without complaining. I love when I can cut corners to make a recipe a bit “lighter,” but without sacrificing flavor. I am not sure where this gets me when thinking of a cookbook title, but I hope it will come to me soon. Actually, I am tossing around a few ideas, but I need your help. If you have any thoughts on why you like my blog, or the recipes on my blog, please email me and let me know. 

 

Here’s an offering of a simple Easter or spring dessert-Simple Classic Pound Cake. I am passionate about it! Hope you like it on Easter weekend or anytime during the year.

 

Fool-Proof Delicious and Easy Passover Brownies

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Every year, my sister, Julie, and her college friend, Toby, have a tradition for baking desserts for Passover. Last year, my daughter and I even helped make sponge cakes, mandel bread, cookies and these Passover brownies. Passover is a holiday about tradition, and this recipe was passed down from Toby’s husbands’ Aunt Marie who made these brownies for years. Toby will never forget when she brought the pan of brownies over. There was always one square missing. Aunt Marie had to make sure they were “just right”.  Feel free to mix the nuts inside the batter as well as sprinkling some on top. This year they made them in muffin cups, and that worked great too!

Spring Chocolate Molten Cakes in 30 Minutes

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Many of you may have seen these Molten Cakes on my blog before. If you have, please forgive me for running them again, but when I went out last for my friend, Julie’s birthday dinner at “Flemmings” restaurant, that was the top dessert pick. It was delicious and oozing of warm chocolate, as it always is, and I told Julie that she can easily do these at home. Then the next day, I saw these spring, Easter ramekins at Target, and was so excited to give them a new look. This is a great idea for an Easter or spring dessert. You can make them ahead and warm them up, right before serving. To see these and other spring dessert ideas, watch the link from  “Daytime Alabama” that was on Monday on NBC 13.

Welcome to Updated Ingredients, Inc. and Strawberry Parfaits

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Welcome to the launch of the updated look of Ingredients, Inc. I started my blog on October 25, 2008, so 5 months later, here I am. I want to to thank all of my  supportive loyal fans and subscribers, and I hope you as well as new friends will like this new look as much as I do. Take a moment to look at the “shop” button where I have listed a few of my favorite items. I will be attending the International Housewares show this weekend in Chicago to add new unique items to the store.

In the meantime, I thought I would feature a new favorite recipe I developed using marscarpone cheese. This recipe is so easy to prepare, and it’s as delectable as it looks. I have made these several times, and kids and adults are wowed. It’s the perfect springtime light dessert so let me know what you think. Best, Alison

Five Ingredient Low-Fat Pear-Cherry Crisp for St. Patrick’s Day

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Coming up with five ingredient recipes can be really challenging as a Recipe Developer, especially when it comes to desserts. I love warm desserts such as cobblers and crisps. A crisp is a dessert of fruit that is topped with a crumbly pastry mixture, usually oats, brown sugar and butter. Using low-fat granola is a great way to cut down on the amount of ingredients. This recipe is very simple, low-fat, great for kids, and it works well in individual baking dishes, such as this clover for St. Patrick’s Day.

Southern Thanksgiving Dessert-Pralines and Praline Bundt Cake

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I was working in New Orleans last week, and one of my closest food friends took me into a fabulous classic New Orleans candy shop where they were making Pralines, Fudge and other homemade confections. It’s “Southern Candy Makers“, and next time you head to New Orleans, put this stop on the top of your list. It inspired me to try a new recipe with pralines for Thanksgiving. It’s really simple to prepare and my kids loved it for breakfast, a snack, dessert and especially for Thanksgiving.

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Praline Bundt Cake

Prep: 25 minutes

Cook: 1 hour

Cool: 1 hour

Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients

1  cup  chopped pecans

1  cup  butter, softened

1  (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened

1  (16-oz.) package dark brown sugar

4  large eggs

2 1/2  cups  all-purpose flour

1  teaspoon  baking powder

1/2  teaspoon  baking soda

1/4  teaspoon  salt

1  (8-oz.) container sour cream

2  teaspoons  vanilla extract

Praline Icing

Preparation

1. Arrange 1 cup pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 5 to 7 minutes or until toasted. Cool on a wire rack 15 minutes or until completely cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325°.

2. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add brown sugar, beating until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

3. Sift together 2 1/2 cups flour and next 3 ingredients. Add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat batter at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in toasted pecans and vanilla. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 12-cup Bundt pan.

4. Bake at 325° for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and let cool 30 minutes or until completely cool.

5. Prepare Praline Icing, and spoon immediately over cake. Sprinkle top of cake with Sugared Pecans.

Praline Icing

Ingredients

1  cup  firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2  cup  butter

1/4  cup  milk

1  cup  powdered sugar, sifted

1  teaspoon  vanilla extract

Preparation

1. Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat; whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir gently 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to cool and thickens slightly. Use immediately.

Southern Candy Makers has two locations on Decatur Street. See http://southerncandymakers.com

Recipe adapted from Southern Living Magazine see http://southernliving.com

Easy Chocolate Lava Cakes for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years

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I have always wanted to learn how to make Chocolate Lava (molten) Cakes, as it is one of my favorite desserts. I have been searching for a way to prepare these without a lot of effort, and I finally hit the jackpot with this recipe. These are simple to prepare, and you can even make the chocolate mixture at least 12 hours ahead of time. Pour the mixture into ramekins, cover and refrigerate. Be sure to bring to room temperature 30 minutes before baking. I also had a couple of baked and prepared ones left over, and I left them in the ramekins and reheated them in the microwave for 15 seconds, and they worked great! Try them on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years or just for a weeknight or weekend surprise. Serve with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or just with confectioners sugar.

 

Easy Chocolate Lava Cakes

Dark chocolate may be substituted for semisweet in this recipe.

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

4 ounces semisweet baking chocolate (I used Ghirardelli)

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup confectioners sugar

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Lightly grease 4 (8-ounce) ramekins (custard cups or souffle dishes). Place on a baking sheet.

2. MIcrowave chocolate and butter in a large microwaveable bowl on High 30 seconds or until butter is melted. Whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Whisk in vanilla and confectioners sugar until well blended. Whisk in eggs and yolk. Stir in flour and pour batter evenly into prepared custard cups.

2. Bake 13 minutes or until sides are firm but centers are soft. Let stand 1 minute. Carefully loosen edges with a knife. Invert cakes onto serving plates and sift powdered sugar over the top. Serve immediately.

Pecan Pie-Traditional Thanksgiving Dessert with a Twist

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Pecan pie is the quintessential Thanksgiving dessert, and I thought I would feature two of my favorite tried and true recipes. The first is laced with the incredible combination of bourbon and semisweet chocolate. How can you go wrong? The second is a White Chocolate Pecan Pie recipe that I developed for a holiday menu for Oxmoor House books a few years ago. This is for those of you, like my husband, who are white chocolate lovers. Just remember, be sure to save room for dessert.

 

Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 1 hour

Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie or 8 servings

Ingredients

1/2  (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts

1 1/2  cups  chopped pecans

1  cup  (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels

1  cup  dark corn syrup

1/2  cup  granulated sugar

1/2  cup  firmly packed brown sugar

1/4  cup  bourbon or water

4  large eggs

1/4  cup  butter or margarine, melted

2  teaspoons  cornmeal

2  teaspoons  vanilla extract

1/2  teaspoon  salt

Preparation

1. Fit piecrust into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate according to package directions; fold edges under, and crimp.

2. Sprinkle pecans and chocolate evenly onto bottom of piecrust; set aside.

3. Combine corn syrup and next 3 ingredients in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

4. Whisk together eggs and next 4 ingredients. Gradually whisk about one-fourth hot mixture into egg mixture; add to remaining hot mixture, whisking constantly. Pour filling into prepared piecrust.

5. Bake at 325° for 55 minutes or until set; cool on wire rack.

 

White Chocolate Pecan Pie

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 1 hour

Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie or 8 servings

Ingredients

1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts

1/4  cup  butter or margarine, melted

1/2  cup  sugar

1/2  cup  light corn syrup

3/4  cup  chopped pecans, toasted

1  teaspoon  vanilla extract

1/4  teaspoon  salt

2  large eggs, lightly beaten

6  (1-ounce) premium white chocolate baking squares, chopped (I used “Bakers”)

1  cup  pecan halves

Preparation

1. Unfold piecrust, and press out fold lines; sprinkle with flour, spreading over surface. Place crust, floured side down, in a 9″ pieplate; fold edges under, and flute. Bake at 450° for 5 minutes.

2. Combine butter, sugar, and corn syrup; cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Let cool slightly. Add chopped pecans and next 3 ingredients; stir well. Pour filling into prebaked piecrust; sprinkle with two-thirds of chopped white chocolate. Top with pecan halves.

3. Bake at 325° for 50 to 55 minutes or until set. Cover with aluminum foil during last 10 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning. Let cool on a wire rack.

4. Place remaining chopped white chocolate in a small heavy-duty, zip-top plastic bag; seal bag. Submerge bag in hot water until chocolate melts. Remove bag from water. Snip a tiny hole in one corner of bag, using scissors; drizzle chocolate over pie.

Thanksgiving Apple Cranberry Cobbler

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I have always loved cobbler, and it is so easy to make. I am not sure if it’s the freshness of the fruit or the warmth with cool ice cream on top that makes me crave it. Since I grew up and am still living in the South, I have had a lot of cobblers, but most were made with fresh peaches, blueberries and blackberries. Now, I make cobbler with all types of fruits and enjoy them all year long. Feel free to use fresh cranberries instead of dried in this recipe since now is the season. This is a delicious and comforting dessert, and it is one of my family’s favorites. I made individual servings for my kids one afternoon after school, and they were truly in heaven. 

 

Apple Cranberry Cobbler

This is a great Thanksgiving dessert option. It can be made a day ahead. Just warm and serve.

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup regular oats, uncooked

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

3 cups peeled, cored and diced cooking apples (I used Braeburn and Honey Crisp)

3/4 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

Vanilla Ice cream

Preparation

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender until crumbly.

2. Combine apples, cranberries, sugar and honey in large bowl, mixing well. Spoon in a lightly greased 8-inch baking pan or 41/2 x 41/2 individual ramekin or square baking dishes. Spoon flour mixture evenly over top and drizzle evenly with 2 tablespoons melted butter.

3. Bake at 350F for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Thanksgiving Pecan Pie Bars

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If you’re looking for a twist on pecan pie, try these simple Pecan Pie Bars. With ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry, you can prepare these with ease. I put my pecans in the food processor to speed up the prep time on this recipe. If you want to make them lighter, use skim milk instead of whipping cream. Just don’t forget to have a glass of milk on hand and an empty stomach (I’m stuffed as I am writing this).

 

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 45 minutes

Yield: Makes about 28 squares

Ingredients

2  cups  all-purpose flour

2/3  cup  powdered sugar

3/4  cup  butter, softened

1/2  cup  firmly packed brown sugar

1/2  cup  light corn syrup

2/3  cup  butter

3  tablespoons  whipping cream or milk (skim milk may be used)

3 1/2  cups  coarsely chopped pecans

Preparation

1. Sift together 2 cups flour and 2/3 cup powdered sugar. Cut in 3/4 cup softened butter using a pastry blender or fork just until mixture resembles coarse meal. Pat mixture on bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.

2. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool.

3. Bring brown sugar, corn syrup, 2/3 cup butter, and whipping cream (or milk) to a boil in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in pecans, and pour hot filling into prepared crust.

4. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Cool completely before cutting into 2-inch squares.