Monday, April 25, 2011

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

I've tried two different recipes for white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. I think I prefer this one. The first time I tried making them I couldn't find any macadamia nuts. Guess where I found them? Target! They were pricey, but on the bright side, they were already chopped. :)

White Chocolate
Macadamia Nut Cookies

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

Melt butter. (You can do this in the microwave or on the stove top.) In mixer bowl, beat brown sugar and melted butter.

Add egg. Beat again. Add milk and vanilla extract. Beat.

In small bowl, combine baking soda, flour and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to butter/sugar mixture. Beat on low until thoroughly incorporated.

Stir in white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.

Scoop onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 9-10 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes before moving to cookie sheet.

Yields: about 3 dozen cookies

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mom's Legendary Peach Pie

This peach pie recipe is legendary in my family because it comes with not one, but two, important stories. It is an absolutely true statement that without this peach pie recipe, I may never have come into existence. Now that's one amazing peach pie!

The first story takes us back to my mom's early adolescence (a topic I'm studying right now in my grad school class!). My mom says she thinks she was in ninth grade at the time. As was common, she had been sent down to their butcher, a Mr. Seybold, to buy some meat. After wrapping up the purchases, Mr. Seybold totaled the bill by doing a little addition right on the butcher paper. (Ah, the days before cash registers and computers!) When my mom got home, she realized Mr. Seybold had made a mistake, and she hurried back to give him the extra money my mom's family owed him.

When my mom showed Mr. Seybold his mistake, he was so impressed--not only with her honesty, but I'm sure her mad math skills as well--he gave her a free can of peaches. On that can of peaches was this legendary pie recipe!

Now you might be saying, "Well, that's a very lovely story, Amy. But what does that have to do with your existence?" For that, we speed forward about sixteen years to story number 2.

My mother had been dating my father for about a year when her parents took a very unusual vacation out of town. While her parents were gone, my mother decided to have my father over for dinner. Being the proper young lady that she was, she invited her own brother and his recent bride to join them.

When dinner was over, my mother brought out this peach pie, a dessert she had been making since she was the fourteen-year-old girl who had corrected the butcher's math. She was very proud of her baking skills and was eager to impress her boyfriend.

However, while eating the pie, my father became engrossed in a machinery discussion with my uncle and didn't seem to be paying any attention at all to what he was devouring. After my aunt and uncle had left, my mother asked my father if he had enjoyed his meal.

"Oh, yes, very much," he replied.

"And dessert. Did you like dessert?"

"Oh, yes, it was very good."

"What did you have?"

At this point, I imagine my father breaking into a cold sweat and gulping. "Uh . . . pie?"

"What kind of pie?"

"Uh . . . apple?"

My mother shook her head.


Another shake of the head.


The poor guy must have named every fruit known to man before my mother informed him that it was a peach pie.

Legend has it that my father felt so bad about not remembering what kind of pie my mother had baked for him that he proposed to her just a few weeks later.

So you see . . . if my mom hadn't corrected Mr. Seybold's math, she never would have received this pie recipe. And if she hadn't made this pie for my dad and he hadn't become engrossed in conversation with my uncle, he may never have proposed to my mother, and I wouldn't be typing this blog entry to provide all of you with yet another fabulous dessert recipe. :)

Mom's Legendary Peach Pie

1 large can sliced peaches in heavy syrup
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons margarine
1 pinch of salt
2 tablespoons brandy or sherry (I like apricot brandy)
1 baked pie crust, 9" (Recipe here)

Drain peaches, but reserve the syrup.

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Stir in 1 1/3 cups juice from the peaches. Stir until cornstarch is dissolved. Bring to boil. Cook until clear and thickened, stirring constantly.

The liquid should go from looking like this:

To looking like this:
Add butter and brandy or sherry. Cool.

Arrange peach slices in baked pie shell.

Pour cooled sauce over peaches. Chill until firm.

Serve with whipped topping. Attempt to get marriage proposal, if desired.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

What do you do when your pie shell cracks? Toss it away? No way!

When I had a pie shell crack on me recently, I decided to use it for a cream pie, something that wouldn't soak through a crack in my crust. I knew pudding mixes could be used to make pies, so I checked out what was in my cabinet and whipped up this little treat.

Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

1 small box of chocolate fudge pudding
1 small box of banana cream pudding
3 1/2 cups cold milk, divided
1 baked pie shell
a few chocolate chips (optional)

In a small bowl, combine a small box of chocolate fudge pudding with 1 3/4 cups cold milk. Whisk for five minutes, then pour into baked pie crust. Refrigerate for an hour.

In another small bowl, combined the small box of banana cream pudding with the other 1 3/4 cups cold milk. Again, whisk for five minutes. Pour on top of chilled chocolate pudding and smooth evenly. Refrigerate for at least another hour or two.

When it's time to serve, sprinkle a few chocolate chips on top for decoration.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Personal-Sized Yellow Cake from Scratch

For the Thomas the Train cake party (see below), I was also asked to bake a smaller cake for the one-year-old birthday boy. Not wanting to end up with a lot of leftover cupcakes, I decided to make the cake from scratch instead of using a fraction of a cake mix.

For the six-inch round cake, I had to do a lot of math to take the basic recipe I found down to size. Let's just say I'm really glad I learned my fractions back in school. :)

Personal-Sized Yellow Cake from Scratch

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
13 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon flour*
2/3 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon milk

*This is a little more than 2/3 cup flour if you don't want to do all the measuring.

Take out butter and egg about 30 minutes before starting.

Grease and flour your cake pan. Preheat oven to 375.

In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In mixer, beat softened butter for thirty seconds. Add sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Add egg and beat for another minute. Beat in vanilla.

Gradually add in flour and milk, alternating a bit of each at a time. Spread batter into prepared pan.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes for a six-inch pan. Cake is done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool on rack for ten minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely before frosting.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Another Character Cake

If you missed the first character cake I did on this blog, check this entry.

This time I did a Thomas the Train cake for a friend's son.

I used the same technique of tracing and copying using piping gel as I did for the Elmo cake. Below is the pattern I followed for the Thomas drawing. Luckily, I had saved it from one of my nephew's cakes years ago. I think I sketched it off a Thomas toy I had bought for a gift.

Other character cakes I've done in the past:
  • Angelina Ballerina
  • Dora the Explorer
  • Big Bird
  • Bob the Builder
  • the Cars movie logo
  • Blues Clues