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Cheddar Apple Pie Biscuits

  I'm gonna be honest with you here, there's a whole lot going on right now.  A whole lot.  I'm not entirely sure what to call my emotional state of being at this point, it fluctuates and is regularly cut off when I have to turn my brain into work mode.

  But what I do know is that in the midst of all this transition, I am love love loving fall.  Considering that I was in boiling hot Arizona for a couple months and that this time last year I was choking on homework every day, you can imagine the subsequent contentment I get just from taking a stroll and looking at trees.

  I mean, I got to spend my entire Wednesday morning outside in the most perfectly crisp autumn weather selling pumpkins to families, just spreading the seasonal cheer.  My job isn't always perfect or on course, but some mornings you learn to look past the hiccups seasonal employment can bring and just enjoy yourself.  I think that's a good general life lesson, there's always beauty in the world.

  So I'm pleased that Joy the Baker's next challenge was all up in autumn goodness.  I went out on an extra limb and threw some cheese in my biscuit dough, it's a little tip of my hat to the South's famous pairing of apple pie and cheddar.  They were seriously on to something with that, and this is a lovely no-fuss version in all its biscuit-y glory.  The biscuits are the most tender, fluffy things, and the apples are perfectly spiced.  The cheese isn't as apparent as I might like, but it's definitely there.

  Happy first week of fall, I have another month of fudge and caramel apple making ahead of me with some really sweet people, and I'm just gonna do it and figure out everything else as it comes.

Cheddar Apple Pie Biscuits
Yield: 6-7 triangular biscuits

Ingredients for the apples:
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored and sliced thin (I used Granny Smith)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Ingredients for the biscuits:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (+ 2 tablespoons if needed)

Ingredients for the topping:
  • Extra buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  

To make the apples, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the apples, cinnamon, and brown sugar.  Toss together with a wooden spoon until apples are coated and glossy but aren't cooked through, about 2-4 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

To make the biscuit dough, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add the butter and use your fingers to quickly break it down into the flour, until some butter bits are the size of oats and others the size of small peas.  Stir in the sugar.  Toss in the grated cheese.  Create a well in the center of your mixture and add 1/3 cup buttermilk all at once.  Stir together until well moistened and holds together well, the dough should be very soft and moist.  Add more buttermilk as needed to attain this texture.

Generously flour a work surface.  Gather the dough into a ball on the work surface, then gently pat into a rectangle.  With a floured rolling pin, gently roll dough into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle, about 4- x 7-inches.  Arrange cooled apples over one half of the rectangle, leaving a border of dough around the apples on the edges.  Fold the bare side of the dough over the apples and gently press the edges together to seal.  Use your palms to pat into a thicker rectangle if your edges have rounded a bit.  

Use a sharp knife to slice the dough diagonally into 6 triangles.  Place each biscuit onto prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.  In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Brush each biscuit with the buttermilk, then sprinkle generously with sugar mixture.  

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until biscuits are risen and golden brown.  Remove from oven and serve warm, or cool and store in an airtight container for about 2 days.

Sources: adapted from Joy the Baker


Ferrero Rocher Cake

  I left you with Black & White Cookies and then drove across the country real quick to get back home.  There were some long nightmare-ish hours in the dead of night on Kansas backroads, a faulty GPS took us off the interstate, a quick nap amongst semis, a venti Starbucks iced latte that I heartily regretted later, and then hugs.  So many hugs.  My entire family was shocked at the drastic change in skin tone (I was referred to as "cinnamon stick"), and I was throwing on sweatshirts from the sudden 30 degree drop in temperature.

  So weird.

  Since then the weeks have just kind of been flying by.  I've been mega busy trying to scrub down the bakery for my seasonal job, and I've been trying really hard to not think about what on earth I'm going to do when that ends and I'm left unemployed with zero school prospects in November.  Baby steps, aye?  Aye.


  Day at a time, day at a time.

  I took a cake opportunity this past weekend, cuz ain't no way my mom is going to make herself a birthday treat.  I've had my eye on this beaut from Mom's Dish, because my mom luh-huh-uvesss Ferrero Rochers.  Who doesn't?  

  So, cake form of this candy?  What's going on there?  I'm glad you asked.

  We're talking about a fluffy, yet rather dense cake made up mostly of ground hazelnuts.  And it smells like absolute heaven when you pull it out of the oven.  Like Nutella, but cake.  Seriously.  Now I sliced mine into three layers cuz more room for stuff that way, but it was a pain to do that because of the fragility of the cake.  So, I'd recommend 2 for the less ambitious that don't own a wire cake layer cutter (nerd).

  The frosting is more of a ganache of sorts.  Butter, melted chocolate, and Nutella naturally.  Can you say rich?  Crushed vanilla wafer cookies are sprinkled on top of this chocolate cream in between the layers, adding a bit of contrast to go after that wafer-y coating in the actual candy.  Hazelnuts themselves wouldn't be a bad thing in the layers either.  Heck, some crushed candies would be darned good too...

  Your cake, your rules.

  My favorite part was undoubtedly the mound of Ferrero Rochers in the middle.  The cake was great, but honestly, you can't really beat the truffle itself.  So much goodness.

  This cake passes with flying colors, and I don't even really like cake.  After some minor tweaking on my part, anyway.  The way the recipe was written previously could be construed as super confusing to some, poorly written directions are a bit of a pet peeve of mine.  It really doesn't take that much time, people.  Really.

  Enjoy this famous candy in cake form, it's a big hit with anyone that loves that good ol' choco/hazelnut combo.  And Happy Birthday to my mowm (4 days ago, whatevs)!  Here's an inside peek at my fancy photo studio (my family frequently puts up with me taking over the living room, totally normal for me to walk around the trailer with a whole cake) and my mom getting down with the technological world on her new iPod touch.  They grow up so fast <3

Ferrero Rocher Cake
Yield: one 9-inch cake, 2 or 3 layers

Ingredients for the cake:
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for the frosting:
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 1 cup roughly crushed vanilla cream wafers
  • 10 Ferrero Rocher candies, halved, for decorating
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, for decorating
  • Extra chocolate for melting and decorating, if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan.  Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.  Grind the hazelnuts in a food processor until finely ground, some chunks of nuts are totally fine.  Just don't go too long and turn it into a paste.  

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk in the ground hazelnuts.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs and sugar together on high speed until light and fluffy and the mixture triples in volume, it'll take a few minutes.  Gently fold the dry ingredients into the sugar/egg mixture in three additions with a rubber spatula, being careful not to overmix.  

Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes, or until the top of the cake springs back when touched lightly and a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes before running a butter knife around the edge and releasing the springform.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, melt the chocolate chips over a water bath or in the microwave.  Allow the chocolate to cool to room temperature.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or with a handheld mixer, whip together the chocolate, butter, and Nutella until combined.

To assemble, slice the cake into 2 or 3 layers (I recommend 2 for ease of handling).  Spread frosting generously between layers, sprinkle with crushed wafers, and then decorate the rest as desired.  You really can't go wrong.  

Cake best served at room temp, although I let mine set up in the fridge for a little bit, then removed to bring to room temp before serving.  Noms.

Sources: adapted from Mom's Dish, originally from Mniam...Mniam...