Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Match Made in Heaven - Coffee Heath-Bar Crunch Cake


I like Coffee and I like Heath Bar baking bits.  Put them together and you have a match made in HEAVEN!  That's just what The Cake Slice Bakers did this month...we baked a cake sent from Heaven - and I do believe there is a place with just that title, "Cake Heaven".  I know when I am in "Cake Heaven" - it is when I sit down with a piece of an amazing cake and a lovely hot mug of tea or coffee and after the first bite of cake and sip of my tea my eyes will roll back in my head as my shoulders relax and my body swarms with happiness all over.  This is "Cake Heaven".  Have you every experienced this?  PLEASE say that you have! If you haven't....well, we just need to make it happen! You can start off by going ahead and making this cake recipe and following my orders to sit down in a comfy chair with your piece of cake and choosen hot beverage to go along with it.  You will not regret it.



This cake is similar to a coffee cake in that it has a nice dense texture with a lovely topping of a crumb layer featuring the Heath Bar baking bits. Delightful!



Coffee Heath-Bar Crunch Cake
(recipe from Lauren Chattman's book, Cake Keeper Cakes)



Streusel Ingredients:

1/2 bag Heath Bar baking bits

2 Tbsp light brown sugar, packed

2 Tbsp flour

1 Tbsp butter, softened

Cake Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 Tbsp instant espresso powder (I used instant coffee powder and it worked out just fine)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup milk


Directions:

1. Make the streusel by combining with a fork the brown sugar, flour and butter in a medium bowl.  Toss in Heath Bar baking bits once mixture resembles large crumbs.  Set mixture aside in refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9" round springform pan and set aside.

3. Make cake by combining flour, espresso (or coffee) powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

4. In a large bowl cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy - about 3 minutes on medium-high speed.   Scraping down bowl at least once to make sure all ingredients are getting beaten together.  With mixer on low speed add in egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract.

5. Add in flour mixture and milk alternately with beater on low speed - beginning and ending with flour mixture.

6.  Pour batter into prepared springform pan.  Smooth out batter with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle streusel mixture evenly on top of cake batter. 

7. Bake cake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean.  Cool cake 5 minutes on wire rack and then remove side of pan.  Cool, serve and enjoy!




If you want to have something wonderful to do while eating a slice of this cake go check out the rest of The Cake Slice Bakers - what a fabulously talented group of bakers we have here!


Happy Coffee Heath-Bar Crunch Cake Baking!




Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Banana Bread x 2 = Happiness! :-)

I just love banana bread!  Actually I just LOVE anything baked with bananas.  I always get excited when I discover a couple of ripe bananas.  This means I get to challenge myself to find a new "banana baked goodie" recipe.  I have found wonderful recipes for banana bread.   I have also found a fabulous recipe for Banana Coffee Cake.  Cupcakes are fun to make too with bananas.  Like the Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting I have made.  My most recent banana recipe discovery has granted me with TWO great recipes for banana bread.  One that show cases the combo of raisins and bananas along with combining white and whole wheat flour in the batter (Banana Raisin Bread) and then the next recipe is SWEET and super pretty with a nice light yellow color of a bread (Buttery Blonde Banana Bread). 

Try these two recipes out and let me know which one you liked best.  For that fact share with me some of your favorite "banana baked goodie" recipes....I can never have enough!

I liked the Banana Raisin Bread because it was not only full in banana flavor but also had a nice chewy texture.  I loved having slices of it with good natural PB...yum! I felt like I was doing my "healthy deed" of the day by eating this bread. :-)


Banana Raisin Bread

Ingredients:

1/3 cup butter, melted

2/3 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup (2 medium) mashed ripe bananas

3 Tbsp milk

1 cup AP flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

 1/2 (heaping) cup raisins

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9x5 loaf pan and set aside.

2. Cream together butter and sugar for 5 minutes.  Add in eggs and vanilla extract - mix well all together.  Add in mashed bananas and milk - again, mix well all together.

3. In a medium bowl combine flours, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.  Slowly add in flour mixture to the banana mixture.  Stir in raisins.

4. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 55-60 minutes.  Cool, slice,serve and enjoy!


*********
The next banana bread recipe is sweeter than the Banana Raisin Bread.  It definitely reminds me of a Blonde Brownie as it is has a soft light yellow color and has a wonderfully comforting taste about it similar to such a brownie.  All you need is a nice hot cup of tea along side a slice of this bread and you've got a perfect afternoon snack.


Buttery Blonde Banana Bread
(recipe from the fabulous Jaime @ Jaime Cook's it Up!)
Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs, well beaten

1 cup (2-3 bananas) mashed bananas

4 Tbsp buttermilk

1 3/4 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

dash of baking soda (that's right a dash)

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease 9x5 loaf pan and set aside.

2. Cream together butter and sugar.

3. Add in eggs, mashed bananas, buttermilk and vanilla extract to the creamed butter and sugar.

4. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and then add to banana mixture.  Mix just until combined - you don't want to overmix this batter.

5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes.  Cool, slice, serve and ENJOY!


Happy Banana Raisin Bread and Buttery Blonde Banana Bread Baking!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie COFFEE CAKE

Yes, you read that right.....this is a coffee cake filled with yumminess with all the delicious-ness of an oatmeal raisin cookie.  Hands down one of the BEST coffee cakes I have made in a LONG time. Of course it doesn't hurt that I am a sucker for oatmeal raisin cookies along with any type of coffee cake.  Put these two sweets together and you have a master piece I tell ya!


There are some recipes that I make and after putting in my time, energy and taste buds towards the finished product I decide not to make the recipe again....and then there are recipes that put me over the edge with happiness with all the applauds of yumminess from myself and those that I share it with.  I will definitely be making this recipe again. I recommend it to all of you to do the same.  Especially if you are a coffee cake and an oatmeal raisin cookie fan.....it's a LOVELY combination of both.

I also really liked how there was a thick ribbon of cinnamon and brown sugar goodness that ran through the middle of this cake.  Raisins and chopped nuts studded the middle of the cake too making it a true oatmeal cookie delight.



Because Valentine's Day is just around the corner I couldn't resist making this coffee cake in a heart shaped pan.


Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Coffee Cake
(recipe found on the lovely and oh so scrumptious blog,  A Whisk and a Prayer)

Cake Ingredients:

2 cups AP flour

2/3 cup oats (regular or quick cooking)

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

Filling/Topping Ingredients:

1/4 cup AP flour

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter, cut into small chunks

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2/3 cup raisins

1/3 cup chopped walnuts (or nut of your choice)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9" round (or heart shaped) spring form pan.

2. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. 

4.  Add in 1/3 of flour mixture to the butter/sugar/egg mixture.  Then mix in 1/2 the milk, lemon juice and vanilla extract followed by another 1/3 of the flour mixture.  End with remaining wet ingredients and then the last of the flour.  Set aside as you make the filling/topping.

5. Make the filling/topping -  In a medium bowl combine flour, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Add in 1/4 cup butter chunks.  Using the back of a fork or a pastry cutter blend in butter until mixture resembles coarse sand.

6. Pour 1/2 of the cake batter into prepared pan.  Then sprinkle 1/2 of the filling/topping mixture.  Sprinkle over filling/topping raisins and chopped nuts.  Pour remaining cake batter over raisins and chopped nuts.  Top everything off with the remaining filling/topping mixture.

7. Place coffee cake into oven and bake for a good 45-50 minutes (my heart shaped cake took almost a full hour to bake), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool cake on a wire rack until it comes to room temperature and then remove sides of spring form pan.

So, so numilcious!!!



Happy Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Coffee Cake Baking!





Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Fastest (and YUMMIEST) Chicken Parmesan



One of my most favorite meals to eat is Chicken Parmesan.  Yum....I love the combo of chicken, sauce and cheese - and of course all served on a lovely bed of pasta.  Yup, I am now drooling just thinking of this delightful meal.  :-)

Recently I discovered a fabulous recipe for Chicken Parm.  It is not only fabulous in taste, flavor and yumminess but also in the amount of time it takes to make it.  Hands on time is literally minutes...and not a lot of minutes at that!  And then you just walk away and let the magic of the crock pot do it's work.  Within a couple hours your house is filled with the aroma of comfort and deliciousness that comes from your crock pot. 

Honestly, I don't always have good luck with crockpot recipes.  Either the dish turns out too dry, too soggy or just tastes terrible over all.  Well, believe me this crockpot recipe that I am about to share with you is GREAT!  It was a HUGE success and I seriously encourage you to put aside 5 minutes and make it.

Crock Pot Chicken Parmesan
(recipe from A Year of SlowCooking)

Ingredients:

2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs (or you can use Italian seasoned bread crumbs and then don't add the Italian seasoning below)

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 tsp Italian seasoning

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 egg, beaten

sliced mozzarella cheese (4-6 slices depending on how much you choose to use)

1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce

Directions:

1.  Drizzle 1 Tbsp olive oil over the bottom of crockpot stoneware.

2. Beat egg and place in a medium bowl.  In a second medium bowl mix the bread crumbs, spices, and grated parmesan cheese all together.

3. Dip chicken in beaten egg and then toss into bread crumb mixture to coat completely on both sides.  Place chicken breasts on the bottom of crockpot.

4. Place a layer of mozzarella slices on top of breaded chicken breasts.  Cover cheese layered chicken with jar of sauce.

5. Place lid of crockpot securely on and turn heat onto LOW for 6-7 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.  Walk away and let the crockpot do its magic.

Serve over cooked pasta of your choice.  D'lish!


Happy Chicken Parmesan Making (in your crockpot)!

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