Caramel Apple Cake

October 18, 2013

 

Caramel Apple Cake - Sweet and Savory KitchensCaramel Apple Cake - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

This is one of those things that I can’t believe I haven’t shared yet.  I make this almost every year, and it is one of my absolute favorite cakes.  For one, I love apples.  Secondly, who doesn’t like sweet and salty together?  That’s what this cake is…a rich, moist, apple cake, infused with a decadent salted caramel sauce.  This is an adaptation of my Granny’s recipe that Aunt Suzy gave me years ago, and you need to make it ASAP.

apple cake - sweet and savory kitchens

caramel glaze - sweet and savory kitchens

This is a pretty easy cake – peeling and chopping the apples is the most time consuming part.  Because it’s an oil cake, you don’t even have to get out the mixer…just whip it up by hand.  Make sure you give plenty of time before having to serve it, though, because you need to let it sit for 2 hours after it comes out of the oven so that the caramel sauce sinks down into the cake and makes it into yummy goodness.

Caramel Apple Cake

1 cup vegetable or canola oil

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

3 cups peeled, chopped apples

1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour, sifted

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp mace (or 1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg)

Have all ingredients at room temperature.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 10″ tube pan with removable bottom.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and mace in a medium bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla until completely combined and a little bit fluffy, about 30 seconds.  Gradually add dry ingredients, stirring carefully with a wooden spoon until completely combined.  Add apples and walnuts and stir until just combined.  Spoon into prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack, and prepare the caramel sauce.

Caramel Sauce

1 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup salted butter

1/4 cup milk

Melt butter in saucepan.  When butter is melted, add sugar and milk and stir until combined.  Boil hard for 3 minutes, and immediately pour over the cake (make sure you don’t boil it for any longer than 3 minutes or you will end up with hard candy on top of your cake!  Still tastes good, but hard on the teeth).  Let the cake cool for 2 hours, then carefully remove from the pan by removing the center, inverting it onto a large flat plate, then invert it again to right side up onto your serving plate.  Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

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Chicken salad with cranberries, walnuts and tarragon - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I love when things just come together.  Last week I wanted to take some summer salads to a friend and her husband who recently had a baby.  I had most of a rotisserie chicken in the fridge and thought “chicken salad”!  But then felt a little discouraged because I’ve only made very simple chicken salads in the past – I love them, but would not feel good about giving them as a gift.  So I went to Smitten Kitchen, where I go when in need of some good ideas, and was delighted to find this recipe.  My friend Jane is of Ukrainian/Georgian heritage where lots of dishes have walnuts and tarragon in them.  Shazam!  Everyone, me included, deemed it a hit!  When Margaux saw it on Pinterest, she said “Yum”, so decided to try it out with her family.  One thing that Deb of SK said is that her husband doesn’t like chicken salad, so I was wondering about Jason’s reaction.  Jane’s hubbie, Cameron, liked it a lot.  Randy already said he’s not interested in trying it, but that won’t stop me from making it again!

Margaux says . . .

I was a little worried, actually, about whether Jason would like it or not.  Sometimes he’s really picky about things like that, and will only like traditional style, especially if it has something sweet in it like craisins or grapes.  But, to my surprise, he loved it!  I think it was the brined chicken…it was very tender and delicious (see instructions below).  This salad will definitely be on heavy rotation this summer.

Ingredients

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

4 cups cubed (1/2 inch) cooked chicken (AS used leftover rotisserie chicken, Margaux brined some chicken breasts, see below)
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1 celery rib, diced into small bits (1 cup) (AS used 3 medium celery ribs, Margaux used just one)
2 or more tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1 cup dried cranberries (AS would use less next time, but everone else liked this amount)
1/2 to 3/4 cup mayonnaise (AS used 1/2 cup mayo, Margaux used 3/4 cup…she likes mayo!)
3 tablespoons vinegar, tarragon, if you have it,champagne or white wine  (AS used juice from 1/2 lemon)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon or herb or your choice (AS used probably 1/4 cup tarragon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Throw the first 5 ingredients into a large bowl.  Make a dressing by combining the mayo, vinegar or lemon and the salt and pepper.  Whisk to blend. Add the dressing to the bowl and stir (or use hands) to combine thoroughly.  This can be done ahead of serving.  Add the tarragon before serving and stir to combine.

Brining and poaching the chicken:

Dissolve 2 tbsp table salt in 2 cups of water in a medium bowl or gallon sized Ziplock baggie.  Add 1 3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts to it and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Remove chicken, rinse and pat dry before using.  Then poach it in water for 15-20 minutes, until the internal temp reaches 160 degrees.

Kale Pesto

June 9, 2013

Kale Pesto - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

I love pesto, but I’ve been wanting to try new things besides basil pesto.  This kale pesto is really yummy, and can be used in a number of ways: on a sandwich, in an egg scramble, on chicken or fish, on pizza (which we did the night after we had it on pasta…yum!), or, of course, on pasta.  This recipe is enough to cover a pound of pasta, plus extra for other things on later days.  It really freezes well, too!

Kale Pesto

1 bunch kale, stems removed

1/3 cup toasted walnuts or pine nuts

1 clove garlic

zest and juice from one lemon

1/2 tsp salt

freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup or more olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to boil, add kale and boil for about 30 seconds.  Immediately drain kale and run cold water over it to cool it off.  Squeeze off excess water and put in food processor, along with nuts, garlic, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper.  Process for about 30 seconds, until its all ground to a fine meal.  Scrape down the sides and pulse a few more times.  With the processor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream.  Scrape down the sides again, taste, and add more olive oil if needed (and salt and pepper), and pulse a few more times.  The consistency isn’t as creamy as basil pesto, and I found that I needed more olive oil than with basil pesto.  I think I used almost 1/3 cup.

If making pasta, cook your desired type of noodle to al dente and place it in a large bowl, reserving some of the pasta water.  Add about half the pesto to the pasta, and combine thoroughly, adding up to 1/2 cup pasta water as needed.  Serve immediately, topping with parmesan cheese, and maybe a little toasted walnuts for garnish.  It’s also really good with some halved cherry tomatoes stirred in.

Sweet-Spicy Nuts

December 18, 2011

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I learned about this delicious holiday nut recipe from my upstairs neighbor, Krisztina, a few years ago.  I have made them a few times for gifts during the winter holiday season, and they are always a hit.  The bonus is that these nuts are easy and fast, so you can make a bunch of batches quickly.  You have lots of options – for example, I always use a variety of nuts; Krisztina tends to use only pecans.  The original recipe didn’t include any dried fruit, but Krisztina’s addition of dried cranberries really ups the tastiness.  The candied ginger is my addition, and this year I tried it with candied Meyer lemon peel, which I had received as a gift.  Yum!!

Yields 3 Cups

Preheat oven to 350°.  Generously oil a baking sheet.  (I place foil on the baking sheet before oiling)

¼ cup water

¼ cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

½-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon cayenne (optional – although not in my book!)

3 cups shelled nuts ( I use a combination of raw pecan halves, raw almonds, raw walnut halves and roasted/unsalted cashews)

½ cup dried cranberries (optional)

¼ cup diced crystallized ginger, candied lemon or candied orange peel (optional)

In a saucepan on medium-high heat, stir together the sugar, water, salt, pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and cayenne and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and stir constantly for a minute, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture has thickened.  Add the nuts and stir to coat.  Turn the coated nuts onto the prepared baking sheet and spread them out in a single layer.

Bake until browned, 10-15 minutes, stirring once after 5 or 6 minutes.   NOTE:  watch carefully!  I baked them for 12 minutes and they burned.  10 minutes was perfect for me, but your oven might be different.

Allow the nuts to cool, break apart any clumps and then mix in the cranberries and ginger.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

This recipe showed up in my Facebook feed from Food & Wine recently as part of a Moroccan menu.  It appealed to me for many reasons – I love Moroccan food, it has fruit and nuts in it, and it stated that it’s not too sweet.  It did not disappoint!  The recipe suggested to serve these with whipped cream, but we thought they were great without.  After seeing Margaux’s comments about the honey whipped cream, we’ll try them that way next time. As with many sweets, this was great in the morning with a cup of coffee or tea.  Moroccan mint tea would make it really authentic.

Margaux says…

I made these for a Sunday dinner dessert, and they were delicious!  I served them topped with honey-whipped cream, and drizzled with honey, to give them a little extra sweetness.  But I think that they are much better suited to brunch or breakfast.  I can’t wait to eat the one we have left over for breakfast with a cup of coffee!!  I think they could also be baked in a muffin pan, if you don’t have ramekins.  However, I wouldn’t use paper muffin cups for fear that a lot of cake would be left behind on the paper when unwrapping them.  Just do the same process of buttering and sugaring the muffin tin, and it should work just fine.  Mine took less than the 30 minutes to bake…I checked at 25 minutes and they were done.  I possibly could have taken them out at 23 or 24 minutes even.

To make the honey whipped cream, just whip 1 cup of heavy cream with an electric mixer on high speed, adding honey as you’re beating, to your desired sweetness.  I added about 1 tablespoon of honey, but you may want it to be sweeter, especially if you’re serving the cakes for dessert.

Ingredients

  • Butter and granulated sugar, for coating
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup pitted dates, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (4 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and sugar six 1-cup ramekins. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the confectioners’ sugar until dissolved. Stir in the dates, walnuts and oil, then stir in the dry ingredients.  I’m including a photo of what the “batter” looks like at this stage – don’t be daunted by how stiff it is.

In a large stainless steel bowl, beat the egg whites to firm peaks. Stir one-third of the whites into the batter to loosen it, then fold in another third of the whites until incorporated.  This takes some muscle!! Lastly, gently fold in the remaining whites until just a few white streaks remain. Neatly spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins.

Bake the cakes for about 30 minutes, or until puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the ramekins for 5 minutes. Run a thin knife around the sides to loosen the cakes and unmold them onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.