Peanut Butter Jelly Chevron Cake Roll

Love when food trends follow fashion trends.  How adorable is this chevron pattern on a traditional jelly roll.  I credit Pinterest with popularizing food that is so darn cute in the everyday households.  It’s fun to watch all the adorable treats popping up on social media.  And wouldn’t this be great on an Easter brunch table?

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I loved the idea of honoring the 1850s jelly roll then with classic flavors of peanut butter and jelly.

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Ingredients

Cake:

  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling:

  • 8 ounce cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 10 ounces fruit jelly

Directions

Cake:

In a medium mixing bowl, whip the eggs until frothy. Slowly add sugar, water, vanilla and flour mixture, scraping bowl occasionally.  Take out about 1/4 of the batter and add a few drops of food color to get to the desired color.

Place the colored batter into a piping bag with a small flat tip and make the zig zag pattern onto the wax paper.  You can find patterns on line to print out and trace, or make your own with a sharpie marker on a piece of parchment paper placed under the wax paper.

Bake the patterned batter for 2 minutes; allow cooling for 3 minutes and then spreading the rest of the batter on top.  Bake another 9-11 minutes.

Immediately loosen the cake around the edges and invert cake onto prepared towel. Carefully remove paper. Roll the cake, beginning at the narrow end. Cool on a wire rack for 45 minutes.

Filling:

Add cream cheese, powdered sugar, peanut butter and almond extract to a medium bowl and beat until well mixed. Carefully unroll cake and spread the peanut butter cream evenly to edges. Follow by spreading the fruit jelly over peanut butter.

Gently roll the cake and wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.  Slice and serve with fresh fruit or berries.

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This is such a fun, playful way to present a jelly roll cake.   The peanut butter and jelly filling is going to take you back to the lunchroom table, where everything is cute as a polka dot and sweet as a sprinkle!

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Let your inner child and fashionista meet in the kitchen!

Broadway Brownie Bars AKA Praline Cream Brownies

Broadways Bars- the star of every dessert buffet; that’s what one baker called them, but after baking them I would rename them as Praline Cream Brownies. The frosting you pour over top of the baked layer brownies is reminiscent of the drippings I used to peel off the parchment paper when I scooped pralines at the Charleston Popcorn Shop.

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These are extra sweet- cut them in one inch squares so you don’t overdo it. Taste of Home supplied the recipe.

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Ingredients
FILLING:
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

BROWNIE:
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped walnuts

TOPPING:
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups miniature marshmallows

FROSTING:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
2 ounces cream cheese
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
In small bowl, combine the first six ingredients until smooth; set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and chocolate. Remove from the heat and cool. Stir in the eggs, and vanilla. Add the sugar, flour, baking powder and nuts, stirring until blended.

Spread batter in a 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray. Spread filling over batter. For topping, in small bowl, combine chocolate chips and nuts; sprinkle over filling. Bake at 350° for 28 minutes or until almost set. Sprinkle with marshmallows; bake for 2 minutes longer.

For frosting, in a large saucepan, heat butter, milk, cream cheese and chocolate until melted; stirring until smooth. Remove from heat; stir in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Immediately drizzle over marshmallows. Chill well; cut into 1 inch bars.

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Happy Baking!!!

Marscapone Filled Brownie Sandwiches

I wanted to tag everyone in this post, to get your attention and suggest you stop what you’re doing today and make these instead. By far these are absolutely my favorite cookie made to date. Rich, creamy, and decadent, the kind you would travel across town for. This is the cookie in which one is enough, at least for one seating.

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If you have to share with more than 5 friends I highly suggest doubling the recipe as it doesn’t make too many. Or hide the last one, not that I did that!

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From Better Homes and Garden Holidays– They got this one right on the money!

Ingredients
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon instant espresso coffee powder
2 eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup miniature semisweet chocolate pieces
1 8 ounce container mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon whipping cream
½ teaspoon vanilla

Directions

In a small heavy saucepan heat and stir chopped semisweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, and butter over low heat until melted and smooth; set aside to cool slightly. In a small bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder; set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl beat eggs, granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla with an electric mixer on high speed for 4 minutes or until thick and light yellow in color. Fold in melted chocolate mixture. Fold in flour mixture until combined. Fold in semisweet chocolate pieces. Let batter stand for 10 minutes (batter will thicken as it stands).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Drop batter by slightly rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake about 8 minutes or until set and tops are crackled. Cool on cookie sheets for 1 minute. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

For filling, in a small bowl stir together the mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, whipping cream, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until smooth. Spread about 1 tablespoon filling each on the flat sides (bottoms) of half of the cookies. Press the flat sides of the remaining cookies against the filling.

From the Test Kitchen
To Store:  Layer filled cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store the cookies in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

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Enjoy the first day of Winter- 85 and sunny here in Florida! Looking forward to waking up in the 40s on Christmas morning!!

Gooey Pumpkin Cheesecake- A Happy Mistake of a Non Baker!

My friend Jenny brought in her hometown favorite last year to a work pot luck, St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake. It was only one small bite that I took, which was all I needed to know that I would add this to my “must make list”.  I had no idea what it was; I didn’t recognize it as anything I have tried before, just rich, buttery, and gooey goodness.  When Gooey Butter Cake made it to the top of my must make list, I spent some time looking for a recipe, recalling Jenny telling me she uses Paula Deen’s version. I found the one, but ran upon Paula Deen’s Pumpkin Gooey Cake and could not resist trying this version.  I just wanted to make a small tweek…

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Pumpkin desserts need graham crusts.  Some pies, cakes, bars just do not reach their potential without graham bottoms.  I shun any key lime pie made with a plain butter crust, same is true for pumpkin and sweet potato.  So I knew right away that I needed to modify the great Paula Deen’s recipe to make it better, how could she not know this?

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Here’s what I did-

Crust:

  • 18 graham crackers, finely ground
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Filling:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350.  Add all the ingredients to a food processors and pulse until well combined.  You may need to do in two batches depending on the size of your processor.  If you are without a food processor try crumbling the crackers by putting them into a large Ziploc bag and then use a rolling pin to crush them.

Press the crumbs into the springform pan and bake for 10 minutes.

To make the filling:

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over graham crust and bake for 75 minutes until the center has a soft jiggle and a pick comes out clean.

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When I took it out of the oven, I couldn’t help but think this is not right; it looked just like cheesecake.  Crap.  This is not what I was hoping for.  All this time thinking about that bite of Jenny’s Gooey Butter Cake and this is what I get- cheesecake.  I cursed myself, first for using the pumpkin version instead of the traditional Paula Deen recipe, and then for changing it, thinking I knew better as if I was professional baker.  Crap.

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Wes came in from working in the yard and smelled the house, proclaimed it smelled like heaven.  I gave him a quick sigh of frustration and told him how stupid this cake was, that I was pissed. (Excuse my language, but I was super mad).  He didn’t really seem to connect with my frustration; all he saw was a perfect looking and smelling cake sitting on the counter.

When the cake had cooled completely I sliced into it, and saw that I was right, it had a cheesecake consistency.  This was not Gooey Butter Cake.  But I plated up the slice and took my photographs, just in case it came out tasty.  When I was done shooting, I took the bite off the fork and smiled with relief.  Deliciousness.

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The cake certainly was not what I planned for, Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake, but was one of the best pumpkin cheesecakes I’ve had.  Rich but not heavy and the pumpkin flavor was sweet but not like candy.  There was stronger pumpkin taste then in typical cheesecakes which I love.

I took a chance in the kitchen, which is not unusual for me to do, but I don’t typically mess around with baking recipes.  In this case I was lucky; my chance had a happy ending.  Jenny’s Gooey Butter Cake is still on my must make list, and this Pumpkin Gooey Cheesecake is now on the repeat list!

Chewy Toffee Bars- An Answer To A Long Distance Toffee Love Affair

Grocery store rituals. Everyone has them, from when they shop, to which stores they prefer, reusable bags or always forgetting them, do you browse or go straight for the items on your list, if you even made a list.  And I would guess that we are all pretty consistent with these habits. One of my rituals is stopping at grocery stores I haven’t shopped at before, so I can search items on my “Can I Find” list, which contains about 10 items I am on the prowl for. Some of the items are things I grew up with in Philly, some that my mom, Queenie, swears by, and some that I have had while traveling and I’m hoping to find again.

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One of the things on my list is Heath Bar Cookies at Publix, which are by far the best store made cookie on the shelves.  Queenie has spoiled my husband with them, every visit she is sure to bring him a package.  He has a long distance love affair with this toffee cookie.  In between visits I try to find ways to satisfy his toffee tooth.

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These bars came out pillow soft and chewy, very similar to the beloved Publix cookie.  The amount of salt is perfect complement to the sweet toffee.  Salt and toffee should never be separated from each other.   The nuts can stay or go, pending if you are a nut fan or not.

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I just barely modified Jamie Deen’s recipe

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup toffee pieces

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8-inch-square baking dish with cooking spray and place a piece of parchment paper over the pan.  Give the parchment another spray coating it evenly.

In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat; stir in the brown sugar until smoothly melted.  Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.

Now in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Freshen the walnuts by toasting them in a medium skillet over medium heat, 6 to 8 minutes until fragrant; remove from hot pan to cool.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, into the cooled butter-sugar mixture, next whip in the vanilla.  Stir in the flour mixture and mix until combined.  Gently fold in the toffee pieces and toasted walnuts into the thick batter.

Spread the batter in the parchment lined pan. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes, lift out of the pan and cut into 1 inch pieces.

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Makes about 16 chewy, gooey, salty, sweet treats.

I don’t think I will ever be able to walk into a Publix without looking in the bakery for the Heathbar cookies, they are a permanent item on the “Can I Find” list.  I know we can buy them in South Carolina when we visit Queenie’s, or get them when she visits us, but the hunt is fun, the idea that one day I’ll find an item on my list is great!

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In the meantime these Chewy Toffee  Bars are a welcomed substitute!   Queenie, this does not mean you don’t need to continue supplying Sir Wes’ love affair.

Green Tomato and Fig Cakes- Taking Chances In The Kitchen

I saw these a few weeks ago and they have not left my head, my curiosity was peaked, I had to know.  The flavor combination in a dessert  was too strange to let go, but after thinking about it I realized green tomatoes don’t have a ton of flavor and would likely pick up the flavor you pair with it.  I was right.

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Not a lot of tomato flavor, but still super tasty, they had a comparable flavor to carrot cake, but less sweet, without as much sugar.  The petite cakes are moist even a few days later.  Overall I give them an A (skipping the plus as I really wanted to taste the tomato more) but certainly good enough to eat for breakfast, which is of course the international sign of good desserts.

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Modified from Cooking Light 2013

Ingredients 

  • 8 ounces green tomato, cored and quartered 
  • 7.6 ounces cake flour, sifted (2 cups) 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1/2 cup canola oil 
  • 2  large eggs
  • 4 ounces dried figs
  • 6 ounces orange juice 
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts 
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 3/4 cups powdered sugar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  •  Dash of salt 
  •  Sliced figs garnishes

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Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Place tomato in a blender; blend until smooth.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Place sugar, oil, and eggs in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until blended. Stir in tomato puree and orange rind. Add flour mixture to egg mixture; beat at low speed just until combined.

In a small sauce pan add the orange juice and dried figs.  Bring to a simmer and cover for 5 minutes.  Remove from the stove and take out the figs of the juice.  Allow to cool to room temperature before chopping into small ¼ inch pieces.  Stir in chopped figs and walnuts into the batter.

Place 18 muffin cup liners in muffin cups; coat liners with cooking spray. Spoon the batter into cups. Bake at 350° for 17 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Cool in pans 5 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

Place cream cheese in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until smooth. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and dash of salt; beat until smooth. Spread frosting over the top of each cake. Garnish with sliced figs, if desired.

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I cut the cream cheese icing in half, as I wanted to lighten them up more.  Feel free to double the icing ingredients if your looking for a heavy iced cupcake.

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When you see something that you can’t let go, you just have to go for it!  It might not be exactly as you hoped, but we all know not everything turns out the way you hope.

Green Tomato with dessert? I am a fan!

Farm Berry Southern Cobbler- #AlabamaBakingProblems

We took a trip last week to Alabama to visit Sir Wes’s family.  Very often when one goes home to the place they grew up, to a mom that cooked every Sunday thru Saturday for them thru their childhood, one would expect to get some of that home cooking.  In fact, we did get a belly full of a southern mother prepared feast, but did miss one key, controversial dessert- The Farm Berry Southern Cobbler.

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Thru our years of marriage, Sir Wes has talked and talked about the cobblers that were made every weekend by his Mom or one of her 4 sisters.  He stated,  “there is not a better dessert then the Farm Berry Southern Cobbler that my Mom and my Aunts made”.   And after these years of marriage, on our many trips to his mother’s home, I would have hoped to try it.  Turns out, it isn’t that simple.

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We go to the his Aunt Alice’s, the family farm as I call it, and pick the blueberries from the trees.  I am always sure to pick enough to bring back to Florida with us to put in the freezer.   Then either his mom or Sir Wes would get to making this family heirloom recipe.  And then we would sit and wonder what went wrong.  I think they are cursed.

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This last visit, I sat his mom down and asked her to tell me the recipe; she even consulted with her sister to double check.   I knew that Wes’s failure could be attributed to the fact that he ignores directions and amounts when following recipes and does what he wants, but his mom is such a fabulous cook so I wasn’t sure where her mishaps came from.

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Here are my notes:

Ingredients

  • ½ cup or 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup self-rising flour, make sure to use self rising- this might have been where Wes went wrong
  • 1 cup sugar, add a little more if you’re not going to serve any whip or ice cream with it.  Maybe a ¼ cup.
  • 1 cup milk, you can use any type, of course whole milk will taste the best with the higher fat content, but skim will work too.
  • 3 cups berries, preferably from Aunt Alice’s Farm

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350.  Melt the stick of butter in the baking dish over the stove, I used about a 10”cast iron skillet as any proper southerner would.  While the butter melts combine the flour, sugar and milk in a mixing bowl and whip until smooth.  Once the butter is melted pour the batter into the baking dish and gently whisk until the butter is mixed to the batter.  Spread the berries into the dish, over the batter.   Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

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Serves 8-10 friends.  Add a scoop of whip cream or vanilla ice cream, (Blue Bell of course is the best choice) to top it off.  You can substitute your favorite fruit, or whatever is in season also- peaches, pears, apples.

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As it turns out cobbler is controversial thru America, not just in Sir Wes’s family.  It’s one of those desserts that is so forgiving (minus our previously stated cobbler debacles), there came to be a ton of recipes and versions all with different names.

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The Huffington Post published an article last year that cleared it all up for us- they wrote, “There seems to be some confusion over our baked goods, everyone. Tell the truth: if we asked you to tell us the difference between a crumble, cobbler, crisp, grunt, slump, buckle or brown Betty (without Googling it), could you tell us? Until we started working on this article, we definitely wouldn’t have been able to swing it.”

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Honestly, I have never heard of a “grunt” or a “slump” before reading this.  And I feel like they missed the kind that I see the most- a batter based cobbler.

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After trying the recipe I jotted down from his mom, I still am left wondering what went wrong.  The recipe was perfectly told, easy to follow and simple to make.    However, I am happy to say in true southern form, that Farm Berry Cobbler was blessedly dee-licous!