Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Italian Cream Cake (from a mix)

by Cindy

Well it's another snow day in Indiana.   It's a perfect day to stay in and bake something wonderful.  I've been think about making an Italian Cream Cake for a while now but just never got around to it.  I made a homemade Italian Cream Cake many years ago and remember that I didn't like the results.  It called for whipping the egg whites and folding them into the batter.  I remember the cake was very delicate but  almost fell apart when I tried to ice it.  I decided to find a recipe that used a cake mix so that I didn't have to do all of the folding.  I played with a couple of  recipes and came up with this recipe.  I thought the cake tasted great.  It was soft and delicate and held together.  I loved the pecan crunch in the cake, and who doesn't love cream cheese icing?  Adding toasted coconut and chopped pecans on the top of the icing, made a very pretty presentation.  

Italian Cream Cake (from a mix)

1 box white cake mix
1 box instant french vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/3 cup buttermilk
about 1/4 cup coconut milk
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
2/3 cup pecans or walnuts

Put all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl.  When adding the buttermilk add the coconut milk to the buttermilk so that it measures 1/2 cup. 
 Blend on low and then mix on medium for 2 minutes.  Add coconut and pecans and blend together.  Batter will be thick.  Spoon batter into a flour sprayed prepared 9 x 13 pan or into prepared cupcake pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cupcakes require less cooking time so start checking them after about 20 minutes. 

Cream Cheese Icing

1 - 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
4 cups of powdered sugar
1 t vanilla extract
coconut and pecans

Beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth.  On low speed, add powder sugar a little at a time until desired consistency is achieved.  Add 1 vanilla extract. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Jam Cake with Caramel Icing

by Cindy
 It's the most wonderful time of the year.....I think so anyway.  I am loving being busy and preparing for gatherings and potlucks.  My girl friends came over last night for a dinner party and cookie exchange.  It was great fun and the cookies were fantastic.  Everyone put a special effort into their cookies, and we now have cookies to share with family and friends. 
 I'll be getting ready next Monday for a potluck at my office and having the United Methodist Women from Clay over to my house for dinner and Christmas devotional time.  I have a wonderful group of new friends here and also special old friends from Kentucky.  It reminds me of the Girl Scout song, "Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold."  I love my new friends and the old ones as well.  They have helped me through some difficult times and enriched my life.  Thanks to all of you. 
I was getting ready to make this next recipe for Sarah and Christy's Kentucky grandparents, but  Mimi fell yesterday and had to have surgery for a broken hip.  I'm kind of in limbo about when to make this for them, because I don't know what or where they will be for the next few weeks.  It's one of their favorite cakes, and I've been making it for them for Christmas many years.  It's a little time consuming but not really that difficult.  There are short cut cake recipes that use cake mixes with special additions, but this is the from scratch recipe that I've used.  I'm still a strong believer that it's all about the icing, so if your short of time, take the cake short cut. 
 This cake is super moist because of the blackberry jam, and the caramel icing is just the right flavor to complement the cake.  I think the trickiest part is the icing, because it takes patience to wait until it is firm enough to spread on the cake. This is where pecans can be added to hide any imperfections. Perfect in no time. 

Jam Cake

2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs
4 cups flour
1 t allspice
1 t nutmeg
1 t cinnamon
1 t cocoa
2 cups buttermilk
2 t baking soda
2 cups blackberry jam
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup raisins

Cream sugar and butter, add eggs and mix well.  Mix together buttermilk and baking soda.  Add flour, which has been sifted with the spices, alternately with the buttermilk mixture, ending with the buttermilk.  Add jam, nuts and raisins.  Pour into 3 - 9 inch cakes pans, which have been either greased and floured or sprayed with Baker's Secret (flour/oil spray).  I have also added wax paper to the bottoms of the cake pans and sprayed that also.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or more.  It never really looks quite done all the way in the center of the cake, because if you cook it too long, the outside gets too done.  Remove the cakes after 5 - 7 minutes and let cool on racks.  I used to make two of this recipe to make 3 - 2 layer cakes.  I only make a 2 layer cake and use the excess cake mix for cupcakes.  These will have a shorter cooking time but will have to be watched closely. 


Caramel Icing

1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Melt butter; add brown sugar.  Cook over low heat for 2 minutes; add milk.  Continue to stir.  Let mixture come to a boil.  Remove from the heat and add the powdered sugar.  Ice the cake when consistency is thickened from cooling.  Garnish with pecans. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

White Chocolate Cheesecake

by Cindy
The days are quickly counting down to Christmas.  There are so any things to get done.  I've only gotten a few gifts bought and I still have a lot of baking to do.  I was snowed in this weekend, so I decided to start my baking.  After a quick and slick run to the closest grocery store, I made my favorite Christmas family recipe, Chocolate Sherry Dream Bars, and my favorite cake, Red Velvet Cake. I love baking at Christmas because of all the wonderful memories I have of baking with my mom  and with my girls. Of course, I also love these recipes because they taste so good.  

 I'm always looking for a great cheesecake recipe, so I made a new cheesecake recipe for the church Christmas dinner.  It was a White Chocolate Cheesecake with Strawberry Topping.  It was smooth and had a nice light white chocolate flavor.  The strawberry sauce topped it off nicely.  

White Chocolate Cheesecake

Cookie Crust
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 stick butter, softened
dash of vanilla
1 egg, slightly beaten (just part of this)

4 pkg (8 oz each), softened
1/2 cup plus 2 T sugar
1 T all-purpose flour
1 t vanilla extract
4 eggs, lightly beaten
8 oz white baking chocolate, melted and cooled

Strawberry Sauce
1/2 cup sugar
2 T cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh strawberries
Red food coloring, optional

1.  In a small bowl, combine flour and sugar.  Add the butter then vanilla and about half of the egg mixture (add small amounts of the egg mixture until the mixture forms a ball.) Spread the mixture in the bottom of a spring board pan.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until slightly brown.  Cool.
2.  In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and vanilla until well blended.  Add eggs and yolks; beat on low speed just until combined.  Stir in white chocolate.  Pour over cooled crust.  Place pan on a baking sheet.
3.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until center is just set.  Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Carefully run a knife around the edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer.  Refrigerate overnight.
4.  For sauce, in a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and water until smooth.  Add strawberries.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened.  Remove from the heat; stir in a few drops of food coloring if desired.  Cool.
5.  Spread strawberry sauce over top of cheesecake.  Refrigerate overnight. Yields 12 servings.

recipe adapted from
Taste of Home