Monday, December 22, 2014

Drunken Bacon Jam

Christmas. Not really my favorite time of year. Mostly because I have worked in retail for about 80% of my working life thus far. I have seen what Christmas does to people. So in order to avoid the angry crowds and long lines I make most of my gifts. Good thing my family and friends love my creations! For my Dad this year I wanted to stray from the usual sweets and chocolates and give him something savory. Enter my favorite baking goddess: Brown Eyed Baker. Her recipes are always simple yet daring, and this one was no exception. I modified the recipe just a bit to give it my own "sauced" spin. Its a good thing it makes a large batch, because after I tested the finished product I was sure that my Dad was going to want both of the jars that I made.

Drunken Bacon Jam

  • 1 lb. thick cut bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup brewed dark roast coffee
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. Jameson Irish Whiskey, feel free to add more if desired
  • 1/3 rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
Brown the bacon in a large saucepan, about 20 minutes or until crisp. Remove the bacon pieces and saute the onions in the bacon grease until softened, about 10 minutes. Lower the heat and return the bacon to the pan as you add in the remaining ingredients, in no particular order. Allow the mixture to thicken at a low simmer for 1 -1 1/2 hours. Let the mixture cool and then transfer it to a food processor, pulse the bacon mixture until it reaches a jam-like consistency, do not puree. It may have a few chunks of bacon left, but I have never met a soul who didn't appreciate chunks of bacon, and if they don't there is something very wrong with them....

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Peppermint Cake

I feel as though this cake should come with a disclaimer of "Enjoy before New Year's Day", since most of the population's resolutions have to do with weight loss and this cake is no friend to your waistline. It is however, perfect for the holiday season as it features the most traditional flavor of Christmas: peppermint. This cake uses the same recipe as the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss Cake, just the frosting has been altered. And by altered I mean that it contains 2 sticks of butter! Try it for yourself and see if it doesn't clog your arteries and expand your thighs.

Peppermint Frosting

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
In a large bowl mix the butter, extracts, and salt together until smooth, gradually add the powdered sugar one cup at a time until the frosting becomes thick and shiny. Spread onto your cooled cake and decorate as desired. I styled mine up for a Christmas party so it would make a statement. Please excuse my lack of photography skills, it was part of a dessert buffet,

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss Cake

At the request of my cousin, probably the blog's biggest fan, I will now bombard you poor souls with holiday recipes, including a boozy cupcake set to start off the new year with a twist of whiskey! Who would dare turn their nose up at that? This cake was really born of last minute delays and pantry staples. My parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary this month, and they have yet to kill each other... I'm so proud of their self-control. I wanted to give them a gift that reflected the occasion. I looked into weekend lake rentals, sports tickets, and even spa weekends at hotels out of town. Unfortunately, my budget could not handle my grand plans, so I fell back on my trusted baking talent and made them an extravagant cake. Now, if only my mother had remembered her own anniversary. But the look of surprise and fear on her face was priceless when I told her I made something for her and Dad's anniversary. "What, that today?!"

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss Cake

For the Cake:

  • 3/4 cup butter, unsalted
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugar, adding the eggs one at a time until the batter is smooth. Add the vanilla. In a small bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Alternately mix the flour mixture and milk into the wet batter until it is all combined. Grease two cake pans and pour the batter evenly between the two, bake for 16-20 minutes. While the cakes cool you can throw together this amazing peanut butter frosting recipe:

For the Frosting:
  • 8 oz. pkg. of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4-6 cups powdered sugar, depends on your desired 'spreadability'
  • 1-4 tsp. milk, just as needed
Make sure that your cream cheese has come to room temperature before beginning this process, nothing worse than small pockets of cream cheese in your finished frosting. Mix the cream cheese and peanut butter together in a large mixing bowl. Add the vanilla. Gradually mix in the powdered sugar one cup at a time, adding a teaspoon of milk as needed to prevent it from getting too tough. In the end, this frosting is incredibly thick and rather difficult to spread. Take your time and I promise the reward is worth it. After your cakes have cooled they are ready to be frosted, but for some extra panache I gave mine a rich filling. I had half a jar of crunchy peanut butter and a bag of chocolate chips in my pantry, so into the cake they went. I nuked the peanut butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds to make it more pliable, I then topped it with chocolate chips. After frosting my cake I used some of the chocolate chips to decorate mine, but to each their own. Keep in mind the frosting recipe makes quite a bit, and although unsightly, I highly recommend eating the rest out of the bowl.