Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving Double Feature

Let me begin my three part apology/excuse for not blogging in October by first stating that I was actively baking last month, some of the recipes were just not up to my high standards. I decided to make up for it by including a double feature in November due to the onset of the ultimate foodie holiday of Thanksgiving. And finally, we come to the real reason that I did not blog last month...unheard of and inconsolable depression. Let me paint a picture for you, if I may, imagine a young baker who has readied herself for Halloween by planning all sorts of delicious homemade candy recipes and indulged far too much in the seasonal pumpkin spice coffee creamer. Now picture this girl being told that two weeks prior to her baking extravaganza she must have her wisdom teeth removed. Do you feel the fear yet? Not only is a wisdom tooth extraction painful for your mouth in general, it also does unspeakable damage to your sweet tooth. Not only was my diet significantly altered for more days than I care to recall, but it gives one a new found respect and severe dislike for caramel and other deliciously sticky foods. In my melancholy state I temporarily lost the itch to create, as all I could think about was how easily said food could be ingested without causing any damage to my healing gums. Let me tell you from experience that digging food out of your "golf divots" is both unattractive and tedious. But I digress, Thanksgiving provided some much needed baking meditation and allowed me to explore new frontiers and revisit old ones. I often infuse my cupcakes with liquor to enhance the flavor but I have never attempted a cupcake spiked with soda before. After receiving a not-so-subtle nudge from my cousin to re-create a recipe for Mountain Dew flavored cupcakes, (I was gifted the required ingredients for my birthday) I accepted the challenge. I will say this, they are definitely different, the flavor is very light and the soda made for a very spongy cake.

Mountain Dew Cupcakes

  • 1 box of lemon cake mix (don't shoot, I was just following the recipe)
  • 1 box of lemon pudding mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups Mountain Dew soda
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the cake mix, pudding, and eggs until well combined. Add the vegetable oil and soda slowly, it tends to fizz a bit. Spoon the batter into cupcake liners and bake for 15-17 minutes or until slightly browned around the edges. While the cupcakes cool, you can whip up this simple frosting:

  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/8 cup Mountain Dew soda
  • 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tbsp. lime juice
Cream the butter and citrus juices until smooth, add the soda and continue mixing. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. I zested the lemon and lime before juicing them to add some color and decor to the top of the finished cupcakes. I will say that there was not an overwhelming soda flavor from this recipe, it mostly tasted like a very dense lemon cake, but what makes my cousin happy makes the me happy!

Salted Caramel Apple Tart
  • 1 sheet of thawed puff pastry
  • 2-3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 2-3 tbsp. salted caramel sauce, recipe follows
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a flat sheet pan with wax paper. Place the puff pastry dough in the center of the pan and arrange the sliced apples in a fan pattern atop the dough. Sprinkle the sugar over the apples and strategically dot with the cubes of butter. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the edges brown, they may also burn a little bit because of the sugar,but have no fear. As the tart cools, carefully make the salted caramel sauce as follows:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 12 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. Fleur de Sel, or other fine sea salt
Heat the sugar in a medium sauce pan, stirring constantly. It will clump before it starts to brown, so don't worry. If you have a candy thermometer handy wait until it reads 350 before you add the butter, otherwise wait until it reaches a deep amber color. Caramel can burn easily and it will never recover, so be sure that you can provide it with your full attention. Add the butter and be sure to stir as you do so, it will bubble up violently but this is normal. After the butter has dissolved, off the heat add in the cream and mix until it is smooth. Give the caramel a moment to rest and then add the salt. Allow it to cool and thicken before topping your apple tart with its gooey goodness. This dessert is one of my favorites as it is simple to prepare and is sure to wow any crowd. 

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