Friday, June 22, 2012

Cookbook Winner Announced!

The winner of the copy of the cookbook Desserts from the Loveless Cafe is...


"When all else fails I usually turn to any of my Taste Of HOme Cookbooks! Weird - but reliable for some homecookin'. This pie sounds delicious - I LOVE raspberries!"

Congrats Linda, I hope you enjoy the cookbook!! Thanks to all who entered and for all of the great cookbook ideas. You've given me some great ideas for future purchases. ;)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Coconut and Pineapple Cupcakes with Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream

So work has been kicking my rear lately and as usual I have been very behind on my blogging despite my best intentions.  Wow, do I sound like a broken record? I feel like I use this excuse a lot! :) Anyway, I always miss blogging (and cooking) when the days pass by, and the gaps between posts grow larger and larger.

You may remember that a few weeks ago, I made cupcakes for my friend's parents' 50th wedding anniversary party. I made 6 different flavors so I'll be sharing some of the recipes in the coming weeks.  I've already shared the chocolate chocolate chip here. It was so much fun-- getting to make all of those cupcakes at once and trying out a few new flavor combinations, which of course I had to taste test! One of the favorite flavors of the night (both of the guests and of yours truly) were these Coconut and Pineapple Cupcakes with Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  These basically taste like a pina colada in cupcake form and are perfect for the summer.  I was initially drawn to the cupcake recipe because I liked that the batter is made with coconut milk instead of regular milk which infuses a delicious mild coconut taste throughout the whole cupcake.  This recipe also calls for a layer of diced canned pineapple on the bottom of each cupcake which reminded me a little bit of an upside-down cake-- it was a great idea to put the fruit on the bottom because it really brought out it's flavor and seemed to allow it to bake more than if it were distributed throughout.  The pineapple layer was one of my favorite parts of this cupcake-- yum, it's been a month or so since I've had these so writing about them is making me hungry.

Then, of course we have to talk about the coconut Swiss meringue buttercream (SMB).  I'm a little bit obsessed with SMB and have spread my obsession to my family (it's a catching disease, watch out) who now request it when I make cupcakes.  When I saw a coconut version of SMB, I knew it would be perfect with these cupcakes so I married the two, and it was cupcake heaven.  The coconut buttercream is silky smooth and delicious with just a nice amount of coconut flavor-- the extract does not overpower.  The recipe calls for pure coconut extract and I'm sure that is absolutely lovely.  I couldn't find it anywhere, however, so I had to settle for imitation which you can buy in most grocery stores.  The coconut SMB was incredible, so unless I stumble upon some pure coconut extract somewhere, I plan on just sticking with the imitation.

**I will be announcing the winner to the cookbook giveaway very soon.  Thanks to all who entered and sorry for the delay!**

Coconut and Pineapple Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes ( I usually double this recipe)

1 cup all-purpose flour
a scant 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
a pinch of salt
3 tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 egg
9 canned pineapple rings, drained well and chopped into small pieces
sweetened coconut, to decorate

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric mixer) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.

Mix the coconut milk and vanilla in a separate bowl, then beat into the flour mixture on medium speed until well combined. Add the egg and beat well (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula).

Divide the chopped pineapple between the paper cupcake liners.  Spoon the cupcake batter on top until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden and the cake bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the center should come out clean.  Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

Coconut Swiss-Meringue Buttercream

5 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. coconut extract (pure if you can find it-- I could only find the imitation but thought it was delicious)


1. Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer.

2. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixture fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on high speed until cooled, about 10 minutes and egg mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff peaks.

3. Reduce the speed to medium-low.  Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition.  Don't worry if the buttercream appears curdled or appears to melt, just keep beating and it will come back together and become smooth. *

4.  Beat in coconut extract.  Reduce speed to low, and beat until smooth. Use immediately or if using buttercream within several hours, cover bowl with plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

5. To frost the cupcakes, I used a pastry bag and a large open star tip to pipe the buttercream.  Garnish as desired with sweetened coconut.

*If, after you've beat in all of the butter and whipped the mixture for the required minutes and it just won't seem like it will come together, it's possible your mixture may be too warm, so try putting it in the refrigerator for a few minutes so it will firm up slightly.  Then continue beating.  This happened to me once when my meringue seemed somewhat soupy.  Sticking the entire bowl in the fridge for about 10 minutes did the trick! 

Adapted from Martha Stewart from Here and Here

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Peaches

**In case you missed it, you can still enter my GIVEAWAY for a copy of one of my favorite cookbooks, Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe which runs until Saturday! To enter click Here! **

Today I'm sharing another favorite recipe from Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe.  These oatmeal cookies with dried peaches are addictive and such a nice twist on an old standard cookie.  I was immediately drawn to these cookies because of the dried peaches (I do love anything containing peaches) and set out to find some.  After going to several stores, I finally found some delicious dried peaches at Trader Joe's (woo hoo) and quickly whipped up a batch of these cookies.  They ended up being absolutely delicious! I love that this recipe contains a tiny bit of molasses.  Not only do they help keep these cookies chewy but they add just a hint of flavor that made these taste a little bit like they'd been caramelized.  The peaches, cinnamon, and molasses combined to make these an absolutely addictive cookie and a favorite at our house!

If you have trouble finding dried peaches, I think these cookies would be delicious with many kinds of dried fruit-- blueberries, apricots, or cherries would be a good substitution.  While I really loved the sweetness of the dried peaches, I think I may try these again at some point with the dried cherries I have in the pantry.  This recipe yields about 2 dozen (maybe more if you make smaller cookies than I did-- I got a little carried away and made some very large cookies).  I don't think anyone minded though. :)

1 1/4- cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups rolled oats
1 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 Tbs. sorghum or molasses
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
3 ounces dried peaches, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 sturdy cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and stir to combine.  In a mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar, molasses, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and scrape the sides of the bowl.  Add the flour mixture and blend until just barely combined; some streaks of flour should still show.

3. Sprinkle the dried peaches over the dough and fold in by hand until evenly mixed with no streaks remaining. Drop the dough by heaping Tbs. about 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.

4. Bake for 16 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time.  Let the cookies set for a few minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Adapted from Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Southern Belle Raspberry Pie and a GIVEAWAY!

You may have noticed if you've read my blog for any time that I a). Really like dessert; b). really like Southern style homemade desserts; and c). have a love of (read: addiction) cookbooks.  Yes, I am a cookbook addict, I especially love cookbooks that feature home made old-fashioned dessert recipes.

Well, after all of this talk of desserts and cookbooks, and because you all are so nice to come here and read my blog,  I thought it would only be fair to have a giveaway of one of my favorite cookbooks.  So I'm giving away one copy  of Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe by Alisa Huntsman.  My husband gave me this book for Christmas and I immediately made a mental note to make pretty much every recipe included.  This book is full of classic homemade Southern-style cakes, pies, cobblers, cookies, and cupcakes that will make your mouth water!

You may have heard of the author's first cookbook (which is also great) called Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer-Cakes.   Huntsman is the pastry chef at the Loveless Cafe in Nashville, TN, the landmark restaurant that features homemade Southern classics and mouth-watering desserts.  This cookbook features favorite dessert recipes from the Cafe-- such as Hummingbird and Red Velvet cakes, Honey Chess Pie, Blackberry Cobbler with Cinnamon-Swirl Biscuits, Banana Split Cheesecake, and Biscuit Pudding with Drunken Caramel Sauce.  Like I said, I want to make every recipe in this book. :)

I decided to make the Southern Belle Raspberry Pie, because, really, how can you resist a title like that? Plus, the filling for this pie is an absolutely gorgeous shade of hot pink.  The raspberry filling is made with a delicious and unique blend of flavors-- orange zest, vanilla bean, and rose water! I was intrigued and knew I had to try this pie out.  I finally tracked down some rose water flavoring (which you can find at well-stocked grocery stores or online).  As you can tell from the title, this pie does feel decidedly feminine-- from the girly pink of the filling to the floral notes that complemented the raspberries.  The rose water, orange zest, and vanilla added a sweet fragrant flavor that was unlike any other pie I've ever tasted-- it definitely seemed like a pie a lady would eat. :)  It's always fun to try out new flavors and extracts when baking and I really loved how these flavors blended in this pie.  If you think you may not like rose water (or have trouble finding it), I think the pie would still be delicious without it.

                                                 image from

So, now on to the details of the giveaway!

Enter to win a copy of Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe:

A few rules:

  • This giveaway is limited to those in the USA and Canada. 
  • The giveaway expires on Saturday June 9th at 11:59 EST
  • Entries that do not meet the eligibility requirements will not be considered
  • The winner will be chosen by random using
  • The winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond.  After that time, if there is no response, another winner will be chosen using
  • Disclosure: This contest is sponsored by me. 

Required Entry:  Please leave a comment telling me what is your favorite cookbook?

**For additional entries: Leave a separate comment for each of the following that you do. If you've already done these, you can still leave a comment for each, just let me know where you've already followed me.

           1. Like ryanbakes on Facebook

           2. Follow my blog either through Google Friend Connect or by subscribing by email.

          3. Follow @ryanbakesblog on Twitter

          4.  Follow me on Pinterest

Good luck! 

Southern Belle Raspberry Pie

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tsp. grated orange zest
2 tsp. rose water
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise in half
1 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen raspberries (5 to 6 cups)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a sturdy baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease the paper.  Place the pie shell on the baking sheet and set aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, orange zest, and rose water.  With the tip of a small knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the bowl.  Rub the ingredients together with your fingertips to combine them.  Add the raspberries and toss to coat.  Turn them into the prepared pie shell.  Dot the top with butter (about 1 to 2 Tbs).

3.  For the top crust, either roll out to top the pie or cut the dough into 1-inch wide strips and arrange in a lattice pattern on top. Mix an egg with a little water in a small bowl and using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash over the top of the pie. If you are making this as a full top pie crust, cut several slits in the top in a decorative pattern to allow steam to escape.

4. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the juices are bubbling in the center and the top of the pie is golden brown.  Let cool and set for at least 4 to 6 hours, or the filling will be runny when the pie is cut.  Serve at room temperature.

Adapted from Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe

For the Pie Crust:

I used my favorite pie crust recipe for this.  I also opted to make a full crust for the top instead of the lattice top, but it all comes down to your personal preference.  This recipe will make enough for a double crust pie.

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