Apple-Berry Pie

I realize that Thanksgiving is less than a week away and my blog has been completely silent, while other baking blogs out there have been bursting with delicious recipe ideas. But seriously where did the time go?! How is it that we are already at the end November?

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 So, I decided to bring to you an Apple-Berry lattice pie!

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 For me it’s just not Thanksgiving without a pie, or two, or three…:) Wouldn’t you agree? Please comment and tell me your favorite kind of pie, I’m really curious!

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I’m planning on making this for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner along with a pumpkin pie (I hope it turns out well)

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I usually make a Cranberry-Berry pie, but this time I tried an Apple-Berry version since I had more apples on hand and less berries. In the fall/winter I usually use frozen berries since they’re not in season, I don’t let the weather take away my berry pie. :)

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Now, please forgive the quality of the pictures…it seems like I always end up baking towards the evening, and we all know that natural light is the best for food photography, but when your light is gone, you have to accept this…

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Just trust me when I tell you this was one beautiful pie! I’m so glad I learned how to make a lattice top, it really just brings this to a whole new level of beauty. And of course the test is always in the taste, and this pie has nailed it! The apples and the berries come together beautifully in a delicious blend.

So what are your plans for this Thanksgiving? Are you hosting or visiting? What are you making? Besides two pies, I’m making lots of buttermilk biscuits, cornbread muffins, and probably some pumpkin shaped pretzel rolls (hopefully mine will turn out nearly as good as the ones down below). Check back soon to see how they turn out!

Pumpkin shaped dinner buns. Fast and easy ideas for a fall pumpkin...

Apple-Berry Pie

Bottom Crust:

2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 sticks (1 cup) very cold butter
4 tbsp. water (very cold)
2 tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla

Filling:

6 Apples (diced)
1/2 cup cranberries
1/4 cup blackberries
1/4 cup blueberries
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cups brown sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 arrowroot powder (you can also use cornstarch)

Directions:

Cut the butter into the flour and salt with a pastry cutter. Add the vanilla, vinegar, and water, and mix until dough forms. It might be a little crumbly but that’s okay. Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour. Peel core and dice the apples. Ad the white sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and arrowroot powder. Pour the apple mixture in a medium saucepan and place it on the stove over medium heat until the apples become slightly tender. Add the berries and mix. Pour the filling in the pie pan lined with the pie crust. Roll out the remaining dough into about a 8″ circle and cut outstrips that are about 1/2″ wide. Brush some egg wash all over the edge and place your strips in a criss cross pattern all over the top and trim off the extra dough. Brush the top of the stripes with a bit more egg wash, bake the pie for about 25 to 30 minutes at 350 or until golden brown. Allow it to cool completely before serving.

Enjoy!

Jessica the Baker

Chocolate Mousse Cream Puffs

Does anybody still get Taste of Home magazines through mail? That seems so old fashioned nowadays with all the recipes that you can find with the simple click of a mouse. We used to get them, and now we have a whole stack of them sitting there, mostly unused. While we haven’t tried that many recipes from them, our favorite eclair/cream puff recipe is from one of their issues. We’ve been using it for years, and it’s hands down our favorite recipe. I just realized that I never shared any eclair/cream puff recipes with you!  And I think I know why. Before I can take any pictures of them, they’re gone! :)

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Last Monday I made mini eclairs to bring to our friends, and I had leftover heavy cream and chocolate ganache. Thus these chocolate mousse cream puffs came to be. Waste not, want not right? :) For the longest time I didn’t know the difference between a cream puff and an eclair, until I looked it up. :)

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So they say that eclairs are oblong shaped and filled with different kinds of fillings (like creams, whip cream, custards, etc.) and covered with chocolate ganache or any icing. Cream puffs on the other hand are smaller and round. They’re usually filled with whip cream, custards, or many times ice cream. They are usually  dusted with powdered sugar, or even chocolate ganache.I guess the biggest difference between them is the shape…because you can use the same pastry dough and filling for both. So I think I’ll just call these cream puffs.

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When I made the mini eclairs I kept the same shape as a cream puff (instead of making them long oval shaped) but filled some with vanilla pudding and some with chocolate pudding…yum! The vanilla ones were topped with chocolate ganache, and I left the chocolate ones just with a dusting of powdered sugar since they were already filled with chocolate pudding

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These cream puffs were gone pretty fast! Of course, ice cream is a dessert’s best friend so that’s what we ate these with. Actually ice cream is a dessert all on it’s own, but I meant a baked dessert. :) Fruit would also work divine with these…

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Whatever you eat these with, they are extremely delicious with that chocolate mousse filling!

Hopefully I’ll be able to share with you my eclairs soon…that is if my family requests them in the near future…:)

Chocolate Mousse Cream Puffs

Ingredients:
Puffs:

1/2 cups water
1/4 cups butter, cubed1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup AP flour
2 eggs

Chocolate Mousse:

1 pint heavy cream
4 oz. semisweet chocolate
1 tsp. butter
1/8 salt
Powdered sugar

Making Cream Puffs

Bring water, butter and salt to a boil in a saucepan. Add the flour all at once; stir briskly until the mixture leaves the side of the pan and forms a ball. Remove from heat; let stand for 5 minutes to allow mixture to cool before adding the eggs. Beat well after adding each egg. Continue beating until mixture is smooth and shiny. Drop dough 3 in. apart onto a greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20-30 min. or until golden brown.

While the puffs are baking make the chocolate mousse. Heat 1/3 cup of cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until just below boiling point. Pour cream over chocolate and let it sit for 1 minute. Add the butter and whisk until everything is smooth and combined. Allow the chocolate to cool. In a mixing bowl pour the rest of the heavy cream and beat until stiff peaks. Fold the cooled chocolate in the whipped cream. If you feel like your chocolate mousse isn’t sweet enough, add a few tablespoons of powdered sugar until you reach your desired taste. As soon as the puffs are done baking, remove them from pan to wire rack. Immediately cut a slit in each puff to allow steam to escape; cool. Split puffs and set tops aside; remove soft dough from inside with a fork and discard. Fill each puff with the chocolate mousse and place the tops back on. Dust all the cream puffs with powdered sugar and refrigerate for a few hours before serving. You can serve these with ice cream, fruit, or both.

Enjoy!

Jessica the Baker

Amandine!

100th Blog Post!!!!

I saved the best dessert for my 100th blog post! I made these at the beginning of this year, and here they find their way on my blog at the end of the year.

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This is by far the hardest most delicious dessert I’ve ever made! Forget chocolate chip cookies and brownies, these make you feel like you’re a French chef ;)

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Amandine is a Romanian dessert, a delicacy that is enjoyed as one of the nations’ top desserts. I grew up eating these as a little girl, but never dreamed of making them myself, let alone have them turn out right!

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The cake is chocolate and it is soaked in a rum essence flavored coffee syrup, and layered with a chocolate cream

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Then each piece has chocolate ganache poured on top. Clearly, to die for!

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So you could say that this is kind of like a mocha cake

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Why is this so hard you ask?

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Well, in a way it’s not that hard, but it takes a while make

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You have to get the syrup just right, and soak the cake with just the right amount of it or else it won’t taste like Amandine

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Then there’s the chocolate cream that has to have the right amount of rum essence in it

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And of course, you have to make these look beautiful!  :)

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Who wouldn’t want to have a tray full of these delicious goodies?

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They’re so pretty, people won’t believe they’re homemade

IMG_5117Once people get a bite out of one of these yummy things, they’ll love you forever! :) Trust me, these are gone in a matter of minutes, especially if they’re served at a big family gathering (speaking from experience here :) )

So if you want the recipe you know who to contact… ;)

Jessica the Baker

2 September Birthdays

We just love this Raspberry Chocolate Cake! It really is the greatest and easiest chocolate cake ever. I think this year we had it for 4 birthdays, so that says a lot! As you can guess, two of those birthdays were this September.

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I tried my hand at piping a big rose. I’m pretty pleased with how this cake turned out, trust me I’ve had far worse looking cakes before! :)

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Yep, someone was turning 8!

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My little (big!) 9/11 baby sister! Actually, she’s not a baby anymore… she’s a big sister to little miss Caroline :)

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Here is the other birthday cake for my older sister Abby

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My mom decorated it and I think she did a wonderful job with the roses (can you tell we’re pretty obsessed with piping roses on cakes? I just think it looks so pretty and fancy! )

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This birthday girl actually won third place at the Bootcamp Challenge 3-mile obstacle course a few days after her birthday! That was really a highlight for all of us!

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So even though I’ve shared this recipe with you before, I couldn’t resist sharing these other cakes with you. As you can see, there’s a million jillion ways to make a cake, all you need to have mastered is the cake and filling. :)

Happy Baking Everyone!

Jessica the Baker

Homemade Nutella

You’re probably thinking to yourself “Really? Homemade Nutella? Are you the crazy kind of person that makes everything from scratch like even your ketchup and mustard?” Well, yes and no, not really. There’s nothing wrong with buying those things from the store. It’s so easy to just grab that jar off the shelf and your done. No extra work, no headaches about whether it will taste all right. But really, did you ever read the ingredients that go into those jars?

Thanks to my sister Becky, we now no longer buy Nutella. :( Yeah, I know, you can cry for me…and that’s because of the bad ingredients they put in it, one of them being palm oil.

Anyways, we saw a recipe for homemade Nutella on Pinterest, but never actually got down to doing it (you know, some things you pin just never get done) :)

We were excited when our uncle gave us a whole bag of hazelnuts! My sisters quickly tackled the task of making the homemade Nutella.

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It was no easy work I tell you! First they had to take the hazelnuts out of the shell…

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which had to be hammered out, and that took awhile

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You may think that once you’ve got your little gems taken out, you’re close to done…not even! :)

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Then the hard part begins. Roasting, and boiling them in water and baking soda to take their skins off! Whew! That is a whole process in itself, but then you’re finally able to mix these with all the other ingredients.

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At last, you end up with this glorious hazelnut spread that we all know and love, and call Nutella! :)

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Yes, it’s a bit of work (okay, maybe a little more), but it’s SO worth making! Oh the taste! It’s just like the real thing!

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We left ours a little on the chunky side, but you can blend it in your food processor until you reach a creamy paste.

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And the best thing about this is eating it on homemade bread! Divine!

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My mom made this French Bread just in time for us to try it with out Nutella

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Let me know if you want this French Bread recipe and I’ll post it

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We’ve tried it twice now, and both times it was gone really fast. :)

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So make yourself some homemade Nutella. Protect yourself from all those harmful ingredients and enjoy something delicious! :)

You can also give these as gifts (if you don’t eat it yourself faster than you can give it to someone else :) )

And in case you’re interested in my sister’s side of the story, click here :)

Homemade Nutella
makes for 3 jars
 
200 g Hazelnuts
1 can Condensed Milk
255 g Chocolate – the darker the better
1/2 cup hot Milk
 
If you are starting with hazelnuts that are not yet shelled, you will have to follow the process of cracking the shell with a hammer. Then you boil the hazelnuts in baking soda and water for a few minutes and immerse them in cold water before you peel the skins away. Roast the hazelnuts for about 10-15 minutes either in the oven or in a dry pan over the heat. When the nuts are ready put them on a tray or a magazine and let them cool down a little. Once they are not hot anymore, place them in the food processor and start processing them. It will be quite a while, if you don’t have a very professional machine, like me. The hazelnuts will become Hazelnut butter and will look like this. When you’re done with this, start bringing water to a boil. Place a big bowl over the water and melt the chocolate.

When the chocolate has melted, pour the condensed milk in.  Mix them together. Then get ready to add the mixture to the hazelnut butter and process it some more. Add the hot milk if you find it too dense, I did. But if you like it thick, then you can leave the milk out. 

When it is creamy enough, Nutella has been created! Congrats! Brace yourself for some battle with yourself, it will be VERY hard not to eat a lot :)

Enjoy!

Jessica the Baker

The Recipe: Cinnamon Rolls

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For those of you who commented (I love receiving comments btw! :) ) here is the cinnamon roll recipe. I use a sour cream glaze which is different than the cream cheese glaze that the original recipe called for. I just think it gives it a lighter taste, and I don’t always have cream cheese on hand as much as I do sour cream. :)

Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients

  • 4 cups Whole Milk
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 packages Active Dry Yeast, 0.25 Ounce Packets
  • 8 cups (Plus 1 Cup Extra, Reserved) All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp.  Salt
  • Plenty Of Melted Butter (about 1 stick)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup White Sugar
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • Generous Sprinkling Of Cinnamon
  • _____
  • GLAZE:
  • 1 cup softened butter
    1/2 cup sour cream
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    A generous pinch of salt
    Powder sugar to taste and consistency, about 2-3 cups

Preparation Instructions

For the dough, heat the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat to just below a boil. Set aside and cool to warm. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute.

Add 8 cups of the flour. Stir until just combined, then cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining 1 cup flour. Stir thoroughly to combine. Use the dough right away, or place in a mixing bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl. (Note: dough is easier to work with if it’s been chilled for at least an hour or so beforehand.)

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

To assemble the rolls, remove half the dough from the pan/bowl. On a floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 30 x 10 inches. The dough should be rolled very thin.

To make the filling, pour 3/4 cup to 1 cup of the melted butter mixed with the vanilla, over the surface of the dough. Use your fingers to spread the butter evenly. Mix the sugars and sprinkle it evenly over the butter. Generously sprinkle ground cinnamon over the sugars. Don’t be afraid to drizzle on more butter or more sugar! Gooey is the goal.

Now, beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly towards you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight. Don’t worry if the filling oozes as you work; that just means the rolls are going to be divine. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and flip the roll so that the seam is face down. When you’re finished, you’ll wind up with one long buttery, cinnamony, sugary, gooey log.

Slip a cutting board underneath the roll and with a sharp knife, make 1/2-inch slices. Pour a couple of teaspoons of melted butter into disposable foil cake pans and swirl to coat. Place the sliced rolls in the pans, being careful not to overcrowd.

Repeat the rolling/sugar/butter process with the other half of the dough and more pans. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cover all the pans with a kitchen towel and set aside to rise on the countertop for at least 20 minutes before baking. Remove the towel and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown. Don’t allow the rolls to become overly brown.

While the rolls are baking, make the icing: Whip all of the ingredients in a bowl, adding powder sugar until the icing is the consistency you like.  The icing should be somewhat thick but still very pourable.

Remove pans from the oven. Immediately drizzle icing over the top. Be sure to get it all around the edges and over the top. As they sit, the rolls will absorb some of the icing’s moisture and flavor. They only get better with time… not that they last for more than a few seconds.

Enjoy! 

Jessica the Baker

Cinnamon Rolls

It smelled like Christmas in July…it was the hottest day of the week, and we were baking cinnamon rolls. :) We had a friend over and we wanted to bake together, so we decided to make cinnamon rolls!

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I probably should have waited until Christmastime to post this…but I saw that I never posted my cinnamon roll recipe on this blog!

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For years my sisters and I were looking for the perfect cinnamon roll recipe, only to end up with dry cinnamon rolls. The filling would ooze out and burn the pan

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4 years ago, I saw Pioneer Women’s cinnamon roll recipe. It looked so good I decided to give it a try

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I was scared when I first tried this recipe…I was new to the world of baking and was mostly used to chocolate chip cookies and brownies (you know, easy recipes). The hardest thing I was baking at the time was donuts, so trying yet another cinnamon roll recipe seemed daunting.

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When that first batch of rolls came out of the oven and I slathered them with icing, I took a bite into what tasted like the most delicious homemade cinnamon rolls we’ve ever made! I still make them to this day!

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My taste buds wanted more, the softness was too irresistible!

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Oh the cinnamon flavor, the delicious icing! It’s like I bit into a cinnamon-sugar cloud!

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You HAVE to make these! I don’t need to go to a fancy bakery to get a delicious cinnamon roll now. All I need to do is get in the kitchen and make as many cinnamon rolls as my heart desires whenever I want. Even in July if I feel like it! :)

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And since extra icing never hurt anyone, I’m just going to add a little more

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I like my cinnamon rolls dripping with icing!

The recipe is yours, all it takes is one little comment telling me that you want it! ;)

Jessica the Baker

Raspberry Chocolate Whipped Cream Brownies

To wrap up this cake series I bring you yet another raspberry chocolate cake! This is actually a brownie. If you really love brownies and you want to bring it up 10 notches, try layering it with chocolate and raspberry whipping cream.

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This was one of those improvise-on-the-spot recipes that always turns out the best! I wasn’t even planning to take pictures, this is my sister’s piece. :)

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Just look at all those layers and colors!

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But wait, as if it wasn’t decadent enough, I added raspberry syrup on top

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Like I said, this was impromptu so this might not look as neat and picture-perfect as I would’ve wanted it to look, but sometimes you just gotta share these things anyway because it was SO delicious!!

1 quart of whipping cream should be enough to mix part of it with cocoa powder, and part with fresh raspberries. I’m sure everyone has their favorite brownie recipe (you can also check out my recipe if you want) that they can use, so I don’t think there’s really a recipe needed. It’s really a dessert that you can adjust to your own taste. Maybe you want strawberry and chocolate. You decide! :)

Jessica the Baker

2014 Flag Cake

I know, 4th of July past over a month ago, but I didn’t get to share with you this year’s flag cake. I’ve been doing a flag cake for the past few years (with the exception of last year). It seems like each year the cake is a little different. As I mentioned earlier, we had our chocolate-loving friends over for the 4th of July and my sister made the same Chocolate Raspberry Cake. This time though she decorated it as a flag since it was Independence Day.

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Since it was a raspberry chocolate cake, we used raspberries for the top. I think it looks nice with both strawberries and raspberries, depends what cake you make

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It was amazingly  delicious!

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And as if the cake isn’t rich/sweet enough, we ate it with the apple pie our friends brought! So good!

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Yes, we also had some healthy dessert too! ;) I saw this idea on Pinterest and I thought it would be neat to try it!

What have you been baking lately? I’m interested to hear your latest experiment/experience in the kitchen! :)

Jessica the Baker

Raspberry Chocolate Cake

Ok, so I didn’t actually make this cake…but it was for me! :) As a baker I’m usually the one making a dessert or cake for someone whether it’s their birthday, a special occasion, a friends gathering, or simply because my family members want something sweet.  If you remember, I even baked my own birthday cake last year. So this year for my birthday, my sister Abby offered to bake me a cake. It’s been a while since I’ve had someone bake something for me, so I totally let her do it and make it however she wanted.

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She got a chocolate cake recipe off the back of the cocoa powder box from Trader Joe’s. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I tend not to trust those kinds of recipes too much, but then again that’s how I got our chocolate chip cookie recipe (of course I tweaked a few things).

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After all,  they called it “The Greatest and Easiest Chocolate Cake” so it couldn’t be that bad. :) Plus it had buttermilk in it so it sounded like a moist cake

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Abby chose to make this chocolate cake and fill it with raspberry frosting

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I had a beach picnic/celebration with one of my friends who also had her birthday two days after mine. So this cake was for both of us and Abby really wanted to make it special, especially when she saw this idea of piping roses on cake from Pinterest.

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Almost up until we left for the beach, Abby was meticulously piping each rose on the cake, sometimes even redoing some. She definitely has more patience than I do. Although I’ve never tried piping roses before, I don’t think I would have the patience to stay that long if I would ever try it. But it actually paid off because it turned out a beautiful cake! And mind you, this is the first time she made a cake by herself!

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The recipe actually yielded 2 cakes, but since she ran out of time, we only had one with roses and the other one was just covered in the chocolate frosting

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So we used this one as our cake (as you can see 2 candles for two birthday girls) and kept the other one for extra pieces in case there wasn’t enough.

I had so much fun celebrating my birthday with my friend, and it was nice to have a cake done especially for me! The cake came out absolutely delicious and our friends loved it! They love chocolate so this was the perfect cake for them. They actually loved it so much that we made it again for the 4th of July when they came over. :)

Thank you Abby for such a great cake for my birthday!!

Raspberry Chocolate Cake:

(The Greatest and Easiest Chocolate Cake from the Trader Joe’s cocoa powder)

Ingredients:

3 1/3 cups flour
1 1/3 cups cocoa powder
3 cups sugar
1 Tbsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
12 oz. butter
3 cups buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
5 eggs

For the Frosting:
2 Stick of Unsalted Butter, softened
1 cup Raspberry Preserves
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 16oz Box of Powdered Sugar
1/2 of a lemon juice

Extra frosting for the top

1 sticks butter
8 oz. powder sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9” round baking pans or line cupcake cupcake cups with paper liners. Place all ingredients in electric mixer bowl and beat on high speed for 3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl once during mixing. Pour into prepared pans or cupcake cups. Bake cakes for about 55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean, or bake cupcakes for 20-25 minutes.

To make the frosting, place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until everything in incorporated (about 1 min.). Divide the frosting in 2. Cut each cake in half and spread half of the frosting in the middle. Place the tops of the cakes on each cake and cover them with either chocolate or vanilla frosting. It’s really up to you if you want to cover the cake in chocolate frosting or vanilla frosting. Or you can do what we did and do a combination of both.

Enjoy! 

Jessica the Baker