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Hot Cross Carrot Cake Pancakes

  Did you think I'd forgotten about you, and the fact that you still don't know what to make for Easter brunch?  Never lose faith, friends, I'm here!

  But really, you have Sundays with Joy (And yes, I realize I'm a few days late for that.  Busy weekend!) to thank for these babies.

  Considering that these were inspired by Joy's recent hot cross pancake post and the awesome carrot cake pancake recipe from her book, you know they've gotta be good.  And they.  Are.

  Carrot cake for breakfast, and a very convenient way to serve dessert for lunch and/or dinner.  These are so tender, light, moist, and just screaming with spices.  The pancake itself is not very sweet, in order to balance out the sugared-up cream cheese spread.

  The only irksome thing about the recipe is the carrots.  It takes a goodly while to shred a half dozen or so of carrots with a fine grater, and you might come out of it with some sore wrists and orange palms.  But it's the only way to go, and once the finished product is on your plate, you'll forget all about your carrot hands.

  If you're weirded out by putting vegetables into your breakfast cakes, don't be.  Really, I promise you, it's so much tastier than your doubts.

  And here you go, the perfect contribution to your big Easter brunch.  Stacks of spiced carrot cake goodness, slipping around on dollops of a smooth brown sugar cream cheese spread.  Otherwise known as an indulgent Wednesday afternoon snack.  No shame.

Hot Cross Carrot Cake Pancakes
Yield: 12-16 small pancakes

Ingredients for the pancakes:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
  • Generous pinch of ground ginger
  • A pinch of allspice
  • A pinch of ground cardamom
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups finely-grated carrots (i.e. don't use your food processor, but a grater with fine, small holes)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, for greasing

Ingredients for the cream cheese spread/crosses:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Dash of ground cinnamon
  • Dash of vanilla extract
  • Maple syrup to drizzle on top, if desired

To make the pancakes, preheat the oven to 200 degrees F, so you can keep the pancakes warm between batches.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cardamom.  Add the nuts and raisins, if using.  In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Add the carrots.  Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the cream cheese spread.  Place the softened cream cheese in a small bowl and beat with a fork until smooth.  Stir in the powdered sugar, brown sugar, heavy cream, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.  If piping crosses, fit a piping bag with a large, plain tip; or grab yourself a sandwich bag.  Fill the bag with the cream cheese mixture (if using a sandwich bag, snip off the corner just before piping).

Place a medium skillet over medium heat, and melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in it.  Spoon about 2 tablespoons of batter into the pan and spread thin.  When bubbles begin to form and pop, the pancake is ready to flip.  Cook each side until golden, about 2 minutes.  As you cook, place the completed pancakes onto an ovenproof plate/platter and place in the warm oven.  Continue cooking pancakes, adding more butter as needed.

Serve warm with cream cheese spread and syrup, if desired.  Best served immediately.

Sources: adapted from Joy the Baker's Cookbook, and Joy's Hot Cross Pancakes


Brown Butter Toffee Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars {Product Review}

  Guess what we get to talk about today?  Peanut butter!  Booyah.

  Seriously though, I'm so excited.  This is my first product review, and so far I'm a fan.  I get free samples, I give you all my honest and uncompensated (unless otherwise indicated) opinions, and then you guys get some chance of a lifetime deals.

  Let's talk.

  My family went through a phase of organic-ness.  I vaguely remember eating funny-tasting fruit cereals, rather bland granola bars, and desperately missing Oreos.  I think the one thing that stuck from that phase was the all-natural peanut butter.  Whenever I have Jif now, I sort of wonder why on earth I ever liked it.  Don't get me wrong, it has it's place, and where would my baked goods be without it?  But if there were a way to incorporate organic peanut butter into more baked things....I'd be so happy.

  The point being, I knew I'd be good for this review when Pacific Beach Peanut Butter contacted me a couple weeks ago.  We've gone through quite a few brands of organic peanut butters.  And, well, it's peanut butter, heck yes you can send me a free case.

  And after reading the Founder's (Matthew Mulvihill) About page, I was even more convinced that this was a company I'd be happy to work with.  I mean, the guy started the whole thing because he was craving a PBJ, and was out of peanut butter.  That's so awesome.  Pretty soon, he bought his own grinder, and set out on a quest to create awesome natural peanut butters and flavored peanut butter spreads.  I love it.

  They are certifiably gluten-free, the only organic peanut butter to use Valencia peanuts, and they hand pack each jar.  That's real.

  The three flavors I picked for sampling were the Touch of Caramel spread, All Natural Unsalted, and the Toffee spread.

 I tried all three, and also had some family members and a friend give their feedback, so you're not only getting one point of view.

  Touch of Caramel Spread: This was good, but don't go expecting a huge burst of caramel when you taste it.  It's only got the barest hint, just enough to accentuate the roasted/salty peanut flavor, and to give it the right amount of sweetness.  Definitely spoon-worthy.

  All Natural Unsalted: There's a note on the side that reads "For the Purist."  And, really, it is!  If you don't like the idea of straight-up ground peanuts, I wouldn't go for this one.  But do give it a chance!  On its own, it's not fantastic.  Though my father (a peanut-loving man if there ever was one) would disagree, seeing as he eats it by the spoonful.  But spread it on a bagel, pair it with some crackers or a banana, and you've got a lovely, healthy snack of nutty goodness.
  It really is nice to eat something that only has one thing in the ingredients list (back to that whole Jif controversy...).  If unsalted really isn't your thing (and I totally understand), they have a version with salt just for you.

  Toffee Spread: THIS ONE.  My favorite, and everyone else's, hands down.  Like you couldn't tell, I only made it into naughty bars of goodness.  But really, it's so good.  I'm not a huge toffee fan, so don't think you need to be to love this stuff.  It's mostly just sweet, a bit caramelized, and has a lovely crunch.  Give me 50 more jars, please and thank you.

  All-in-all, I'm a fan of Pacific Beach, and I think we'll be buying more of their lovely products in the near future.  This might be mostly due to the fact that my dad is absolutely in love with each one of the flavors.  If you think I'm kidding...I'm not.  When a man's willing to wax poetry about peanut butter to get some more, then you know it's real.

  And now you guys get a li'l ol' deal, just because you're reading this and the peanut butter people like you.  Starting right now and ending 4/15/13, with every purchase you make at Pacific Beach Peanut Butter you get one free jar of your choice!  So, essentially, a buy-one-get-one-free thing.  Just include this code when you make your order to seal the deal.

OFFER CODE: blogger03

  Again, this code is only active until 4/15/13, and you have to add your chosen free jar to the rest of your cart order for it to apply.

  Browse their products here, and definitely try the Toffee Spread.  I'm thinking the Butterscotch (currently $2 off) and CinnaYum are next on my hit list...

  Oh yeah, the bars!  My apologies to anyone who came here just to get a yummy-looking recipe.  But hey, now you have some pretty in-depth knowledge about a pretty awesome peanut butter company.  Win-win.

  So these are fabulous, no-bake, have brown butter in them, and take approximately 15 minutes of your life to whip together.  Aaand they're organic peanut butter-friendly.  That's my kind of dessert.

  These are not your average creamy peanut butter bar, let's just get that straight.  They're definitely more on the toffee side of the spectrum.  Crunchy, salty, sweet... I definitely recommend that you use the Toffee spread for maximum toffee-ness, but feel free to work with whatever you have on hand.  

  Enjoy these rich little devils, and treat yoself to some peanut butter.

Brown Butter Toffee Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars
Yield: about 16 bars

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Pacific Beach Toffee Peanut Butter Spread (or just regular peanut butter, organic or not)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup toffee bits (I used Heath, found in my local store's baking aisle)
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips


In a small, light-colored saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter.  When the butter has melted it will start to crackle and foam, this is just the water cooking out of the butter.  When the butter stops crackling, brown solids will begin to form on the bottom.  Watch carefully at this point, swirling the pan, to make sure it doesn't burn.  When the butter is golden, smells slightly nutty/wonderful, and has browned solids on the bottom, immediately pour into a bowl and allow to cool.

Line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, combine the cooled brown butter, graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, powdered sugar, salt, peanut butter, and vanilla.  Stir well.  Mix in the toffee bits.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, smoothing into an even layer.

Melt the chocolate chips according to your preferred method (I did mine in the microwave on 50% power for a couple minutes, stirring occasionally), and pour over the peanut butter layer.  Smooth with a rubber spatula and tap the pan gently against the counter to even it out, if necessary.

Chill for at least one hour, then cut into bars.

Sources: adapted from I Heart Nap Time

Disclaimer: Pacific Beach Peanut Butter provided me with 3 jars of my choice to sample and review.  I was not compensated for this post, all opinions are my own.


Fudgy Brownies with Salted Caramel Brandy Glaze

  Disclaimer: No straight-up alcohol was consumed by underage bakers during the making of these sinfully-good brownies.

  Just sayin'.  I'm a good kid, and I only have the occasional half glass of moscato or rum and coke when my parentals are around.  I have posted a few boozy things on this blog, but they are adult treats to be made with adult supervision.  However, the finished treats generally contain a significantly less amount of alcohol due to reduction.  Thus, the consumption of those are an entirely different story...

  I just love the little kick of flavor that booze gives baked goods.  It's certainly not enough to inebriate you, but it's enough to make you aware of its presence.  These cupcakes, and this banana bread, for example.  Oh, and this very St. Patrick's-worthy pie.  But I respect alcohol, and always will.

  And come my 21st birthday, I most certainly will be enjoying one of these brownies with a finger or two of good brandy, and I will own a snifter.

  My excuse for these decadent things is the fact that I found out I'm 40% Irish.  The heritage from my mom's side has always been a blur, but we just recently we found out what it was.  She's fricken 80% Irish, and half of that runs through my veins.  AWESOME.

  Consequently, St. Patrick's Day has been taken into a whole new light.  We've always done a nice dinner of corned beef and soda bread, because we just love it that much.  But now I definitely feel the need to work up something of my own.

  These shakes were a good start, but they are largely an American thing.  Then again, so is St. Patty's...whatever.

  When Audra posted these brownies, I couldn't stop thinking about them.  And with a few adaptations to work with what I had on hand, I had the most delightful pan of chocolate-y goodness.  The original sauce bore whiskey instead of brandy, but I don't think the Irish would really object to my switch, do you?

Fudgy Brownies with Salted Caramel Brandy Glaze
Yield: about 16 brownies

Ingredients for the brownies:
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • A heaping 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Ingredients for the glaze:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream or half-and-half (I used about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
To make the brownies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper.  Set aside.

In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the sugar and vanilla and whisk thoroughly to combine.  Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder.  In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs together.  Pour in the chocolate mixture and whisk until well combined.  Stir in the flour, salt, and chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the surface begins to crack and a tester inserted into the middle comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze, combine the sugar and water in a dry, 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat.  Stir together the sugar and water just so the sugar dissolves, then leave it alone.  Allow the sugar to bubble and cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until it is a deep amber color.  Remove from the heat and carefully add the butter, whisking constantly.  When the butter is combined, add the brandy and salt.  Caramel will bubble and likely seize up, creating hard chunks.  Place over medium-low heat and whisk until smooth again.  Cool the sauce to warm.

Place the sauce in the bowl of an electric mixer, and add the powdered sugar on low, mixing until thick and creamy.  Gradually add the heavy cream to thin slightly, if desired.  Pour the glaze over the cooled brownies and let set in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Cut into bars and serve.  The bars are best at room temperature, in my opinion.   But store them in whatever way you're comfortable with.

Sources: inspired by The Baker Chick, brownies adapted from Good Life Eats


Black Bottom Peanut Butter Snickers Pie

  It's Pi Day, it's Pi Day!  And I'm so excited to finally share this with you!

  Seriously, this is by far one of the best things I've ever made (in my book, anyway).  Let me illustrate the layering process for you, and then you'll understand.

  A basic graham cracker crust is our base, its slight crunch does loads for the other creamy textures.  To those whom it may concern, this is the only component containing gluten, but that is easily remedied by just picking up some gluten-free grahams.  

  We move on to a silky layer of chocolate ganache, AKA the "black bottom."  This semi-sweet base seals up any leaks in the graham cracker crust, and is a lovely compliment to its more sugary fellows.

  Next is what I'd definitely consider the star of the show.  Fluffy, cloud-like peanut butter mousse.  If the word mousse intimidates you, that's silly.  Just whip your cream nice and stiff, and all the rest is like mixing up a heavenly sort of frosting.

  And because I just can't stop, we're throwing on chopped Snickers bars and drizzling on more ganache.

  The result is a beautifully rich mess.  But not unbearably so!

  The day I made this baby, I thought for sure the leftovers would be parceled out to the neighbors.  No way could the few members remaining in the family home finish this off.  Boy, was I wrong... three days later, we had an empty pie plate in the fridge.

  One of my college sisters has a birthday and a spring break in a couple weeks, and after hearing about this creation she immediately requested it for her birthday dessert.  Which is big, since she always has mom make her the same cake.

  It's a darned good thing my mom's not a big kitchen fan/drama queen, or there'd be some serious tensions running through this house.

  Aaaand I'm just going to let the photos do some more talking.

  I think you get the gist by now.  Make this.  Just do it.  I can't tell you enough how crucial it is for you to try this dessert.  And if you're any sort of peanut butter and chocolate fan, then you really don't need me to reiterate.

  A Happy Pi Day to you all!  Let me know how you're all celebrating this glorious excuse to make decadent things on a Thursday.  

  P.S. In case you'd like a St. Patrick's-appropriate pie instead, try out this old favorite!  Sweet & Salty Guinness Chocolate Marshmallow Pie.  Also, check out CrazyforCrust's Pi Party, and link up some of your favorite recipes for all to see.

Black Bottom Peanut Butter Snickers Pie
Yield: one 9-inch pie

Ingredients for the crust:
  • 7 graham crackers (use gluten-free graham crackers to make this a totally GF dessert)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Ingredients for the "black bottom":
  • 1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup chilled whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Ingredients for the peanut butter mousse:
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chilled whipping cream

Ingredients for the topping:
  • 11.5 ounce bag of mini Snickers candy bars, unwrapped and coarsely chopped
  • Leftover "black bottom" ganache for drizzling

For the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9-inch pie pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Using your food processor, or a rolling pan and plastic Ziploc bag, crush/pulse the graham crackers until very fine.  If using the rolling pin method, transfer the crumbs to a small bowl at this point.  Add the melted butter and sugar and stir/pulse until the mixture resembles moist sand.  Press the mixture on the bottom and up the sides of the greased pie pan in an even layer.  Bake until lightly browned, 12-15 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

For the "black bottom," combine the chocolate chips, whipping cream, corn syrup, and vanilla extract in a small pot over low heat.  Whisk constantly until just melted and smooth.  Spread the chocolate over the crust, reserving a few tablespoons to reheat later for the topping, and smooth with a rubber spatula.  Place in the freezer for about 10-20 minutes, until the ganache has firmed.

Meanwhile, place an empty, medium metal or glass bowl in the freezer with beater attachments for an electric hand mixer.  Allow to chill for at least 10 minutes.

For the peanut butter mousse, combine the peanut butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat until well blended.  Beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract.  Remove the chilled bowl and beaters from the freezer and add the 1 cup of whipping cream to the bowl.  Beat on high until the cream holds stiff peaks (this can take quite a few minutes).  Fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture in four additions.  Pour over the firmed chocolate ganache (You'll likely have some leftovers, don't use it all if it won't fit.).  Stick in the freezer to firm up for about 10 minutes while you chop up your Snickers bars and reheat your ganache over low heat.

Top with the chopped Snickers bars and drizzle with ganache.  Chill for another 10 minutes or so in the freezer to harden the ganache topping.  Then cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge until ready to slice and serve.

Sources: adapted from The Curvy Carrot originally from Bon Appetit, mousse adapted from Epicurious


DIY Shamrock Shake

  So Monday happened, just in case you weren't aware of that little fact.

  I'm not usually one to fall into the classic "Monday hater" category.  I mean, come on, it's just another day of the week!  Who cares?

  But today...I dunno. I think I finally understand.

  Let's start with morning.  Oversleeping, and the hair starts to frizz the second I step out of the shower.  Yay for curls and humidity!

  Take way too long scraping damp hair (Never a good idea to to mess with damp curls, neverrrr.  But do I listen?  No.)  into a haphazard messy bun.  Chug some painkillers for the, uh, lady pains, (Great timing, eh, girlhood?) and stalk downstairs with a tower of dirty clothes in a classy outfit that just screams "Laundry Day."

  This is where I start feeling really thankful that I don't actually have to leave the house.  Homeschoolers, FTW!

  Proceed to breakfast.  Oh!  There's still a bowlful of Cinnamon Toast Crunch left, score!  Here's the thing.  The said cereal box is too tall to fit in the cupboard vertically, so it lies on its side.  I grab it, and somehow I confuse my tops and bottoms, and am oblivious to the fact that the top is open.

  Oh, hey there Mr. Broom.  Short time, too much see.

  Guess it's toast.

  After cleaning off the cinnamon-sugar-y socks, let us proceed to wrestle with Calculus for, I kid you not, hours.

  This definitely calls for a break.  Of the Shamrock Shake variety.

  I have no strong affinity towards McDonald's.  I used to, because, you know, I also used to be a little kid.  The day I fully comprehended that their McNuggets were of a mysterious variety, I lost my taste for that place a bit.

  But those shakes?  Those seasonal, notorious Shamrock Shakes?  Minty green, cool, mounds of whipped cream...yeah, those.

  Let me just take a moment to thank (and silently curse) The Naptime Chef for creating this DIY version with perfect thickness and sippability (totally a word).  You can now get your Shamrock on whenever you want!

  Calculus can definitely wait a while.

  Let me take yet another moment to say that I'm sure your blender is a bazillion times better than mine.  And I certainly hope your Monday luck is.  Turn the attachment a little the wrong way, and voila!  There is now 1% milk flooding the counter, dripping to the floor, and oozing into the blender base.

  Meanwhile, you have 10 minutes before you lose your good photo light, and your mother and sister come home to a sticky kitchen.

  Oh mah lands.

  Needless to say, I pulled my act together and whomped up another.  But in doing so, I did a poor job of sweetening my cream, and didn't add quite enough green to my shake.  Also, my blender just really sucks at consistently blending.  I mean, come on, it's only got one purpose!  Can't it get it right?  At that point, there was only one thing going through my head.  Whatever.

  Gimme a fricken straw and the ever-classy mason jar.

  And in those quiet times of minty sipping, peace reigned.  Yum.

DIY Shamrock Shake
Yield: 1 large shake


  • 1 1/2 cups good-quality vanilla ice cream (go heavy-handed on this if you like a thick shake)
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons 1% milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • Liquid green food coloring, if desired
  • Sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Add the ice cream, milk, peppermint extract, and food coloring (if using) to a blender and mix until completely thick and smooth.  Add more ice cream and/or milk as desired.  Pour into a large glass/mason jar, top with a generous swirl of whipped cream, add a straw, and serve!

Sources: slightly adapted from The Naptime Chef, found via Curbly


Brown Butter Coconut Dutch Baby with Bananas and Pineapple

  Dutch Babies.  When they first come out of the oven, they're a lovely, puffy mass of goodness.

  And then they deflate.  But!  They're still stinkin' delicious.  Warm, fluffy, slathered in butter.  And in this case, brown butter.

  Sundays with Joy is back again this week, and the recipe was this little ol' tropical Dutch Baby.

  Because I rather fell in love with Molly's pancake, I decided to use that for my base instead of Joy's.  And it was spot on!  Warm pancake, tropical fruit, and coconut.  The perfect thing for a drizzly March morning.

  I'm keeping things short and sweet, so you can go ahead and start making this for your breakfast.  Because you know you want to.  I have a lovely thing coming your way this Thursday, on Pi Day.  Watch this space for a decadent thing involving Snickers and peanut butter!  And that's all you're getting for now :)

Brown Butter Coconut Dutch Baby with Bananas and Pineapple
Yield: one 8 or 9-inch pancake, enough to fill up a couple bellies.  Recipe can be doubled using the same pan, or two 6-inch skillets.  

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (if doubling the recipe, don't double this amount, it will still grease the pan just fine)
  • 1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh pineapple
  • 1 banana, cut into pieces

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In a small skillet over medium heat, add the shredded coconut.  Toast the coconut, stirring frequently, until light brown. 

Put the butter in an 8 or 9-inch cast-iron skillet (you can also use a similarly-sized cake pan or pie plate), and place in the preheated oven.  Let the butter cook and sizzle, swirling occasionally, until the butter is melted and there are brown solids.  Remove from the oven and tilt around, completely covering the sides and bottom with brown butter.

Meanwhile, in a blender, or with a bowl and whisk, mix together the eggs, half-and-half, and sugar.  Add the flour, ginger, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the shredded coconut and blend until smooth.  Pour into the warm skillet, and slide into the oven.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the center looks set and the edges have risen and are golden brown.  It will rise and puff around the pan while in the oven, but will deflate as it cools.

Remove from the oven.  Top with the chopped pineapple, banana slices, and the remaining toasted coconut.  Serve immediately with maple syrup, if desired.

Sources: pancake adapted from Molly Wizenberg's book A Homemade Life; tropical adaptation inspired boy Joy the Baker's Cookbook


Cinnamon Swirl Kuchen

  I actually remember waking up this morning, and I recalled my dream with supreme poignancy.

  I get some crazy dreams, but once in a while I'll have a particularly vivid one that will stay with me for the rest of the day.  No matter what I do, where I am, it's in my head until I manage sleep it away.

  That happened last night/today.  I tossed and turned, until finally I pulled myself out of it.  When I opened my eyes sunlight was streaming into my room.  I put my hand up and let the light fall across my arm.  For a few blissful seconds I was still dating a dream (quite literally, ha) boy, my dad's entire side of the family all lived together in this gorgeous forest- each of us with our own little cove.

  And my grandma was still alive.

  Reality came in a bittersweet wave, and threw me out of my ocean of fantasy.  For a good 30 minutes I let myself be a lifeless puddle.  But with a new day comes new duties, little as they may seem.  And it
all starts with getting your ass out of bed.

  With my baking goddess of a grandmother fresh on my mind, I guess it's only fitting that I should be writing about this bundt today.  Don't be intimidated by the kuchen part, it's just cake in German.  The little magazine scrap I got this recipe from was titled just so.  I tend to get so absorbed in blogs, pinterest, and the like that I almost forget about magazines and cookbooks.  Recipes are in more places than just the internet.

  Being that the magazine was all about Grandma food, you know this has got to be good.  The only change I made was to use buttermilk (always), all butter (screw you, shortening), a bit of nutmeg (for Grams), and a bundt pan in place of a tube pan.  Because, really, it's just that much prettier.  Plus, this was a lovely opportunity to use my Christmas present!

  A 12-cup Nordic Ware beauty.  I love it.

  I especially love it because my old pan was getting to be a piece of less than desirable material.  First of all, it was half the size of this one, so I had some major batter overflow issues.  And it had separation anxiety.  A bunked bundt is one of the worst things in the world.  So when I turned this one upside-down and the cake slipped out flawlessly, I really couldn't have been happier.  I kept running into the kitchen while I should have been doing Calculus, just to look at it.

  And the cake?  Oh my.  It's pretty much like pound cake, but with gooey cinnamon swirls.  I've been making it since way before my blogging days, and it's never disappointed.  Albeit the one time my evil bundt pan decided to turn it out in three different pieces (grrr...).

  It's tender, moist, and only gets better with age.  And that is precisely why I love bundt cakes.  Tea time, suppertime, lunchtime, breakfast...this is perfect for every and any occasion.

Cinnamon Swirl Kuchen
Yield: one bundt or 10-inch tube cake, about 16-20 servings

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/3 cups sugar, divided
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 6- or 12-cup bundt pan, or a 10-inch tube pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until light and smooth.

Gradually add the 2 cups of sugar; cream until fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Combine the buttermilk and vanilla, set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. (You may use a whisk instead.)

Alternately add the flour  mixture and buttermilk mixture to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beating in each addition until just combined.

Combine the 1/3 cup sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons (1/2 tablespoon) of the cinnamon sugar mixture into the prepared bundt or tube pan.  Spread 1/3 of the batter into the pan and sprinkle with half of the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture.  Top with another 1/3 of the cake batter, sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar, and then smooth on the last of the batter.

Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sources: adapted from Nancy Brown's contribution in Grandma's Great Desserts