Archive for the 'Desserts & Baked Goods' Category



Double-Decker Peach Cobbler

When my friend Laurie Major told me about her grandmother’s peach cobbler I just had to give it a try. 

Mrs. Mohler made it with 3 layers of crust!  I am all about the crust, but am a little lazy at times. I have made this into a double-decker cobbler. But if you have an extra 10 or 15 minutes, you can add that third layer of pastry.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  I thought it was so good I included it in my new cookbook Simply Suppers!

Enjoy!

Double-Decker Peach Cobbler
From Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra to grease the baking dish
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup water
2 bags (16-ounce) frozen peaches, thawed, or 12 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced (about 5 to 6 cups)
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons bourbon
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 unbaked pie crusts (9-inch), homemade or store-bought
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 pint vanilla ice cream (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish with butter and set aside.

In a large saucepot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add 3/4 cup of the sugar and water and cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the peaches, lemon juice, bourbon, 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the flavors have melded, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, stir to coat, and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Evenly spoon 1/2 of the filling into the prepared dish. Top with a layer of pie crust. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and spoon the remaining 1/2 of the filling evenly over the crust. Top with the second pie crust. Brush the top crust with the beaten egg. Evenly sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of the sugar and the remaining 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon over the top. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, about 18 to 20 minutes.

Serve warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Serves  8.

Cooking Tip: To make the third layer, place a pie crust on the bottom of the pan. Par-bake the bottom crust for 10 minutes. Then layer as directed in the recipe above.

Time-Saving Tip: I love fresh peaches, but they can be a hassle to peel. Frozen peaches are in-season year-round and work just as well in this dish…without the extra work!

Freezes well.

Glazed Lemon Pound Cake

My good friend Kristen Keegan won “Best in Show” at the Mid-South Fair with this cake.  Moist and delicious, it has just the perfect amount of lemony flavor. Serve it on its own or with freshly whipped cream and fresh berries.

Enjoy!

Glazed Lemon Pound Cake

For the cake:
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened, plus extra to grease the loaf pan      
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra to flour the loaf pan
1/4 teaspoon baking powder                                 
1/4 teaspoon salt                                                
1/4 cup butter flavor all-vegetable shortening                     
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest 

For the Lemon Glaze:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted                              
1/2 cup granulated sugar                                             
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons water

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9- X 5-inch loaf pan.

In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix until well combined. Add the reserved flour mixture and mix until well blended. Add the milk, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and lemon zest and stir to blend. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about  60 to 70 minutes. While it is still in the pan, pierce several holes in the cake with a knife or skewer. Prepare the glaze and top before the cake is completely cooled or removed from the pan.

To make the glaze: In a small bowl combine the melted butter, sugar, lemon juice, and water. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the glaze over the cake and let the cake sit in the pan until the glaze is fully absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Remove from the pan and transfer to a serving plate. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 8. 

Cooking Tips:

Cooking for a crowd? You can easily double this recipe and bake it in a Bundt pan.

For 1 tablespoon of freshly grated lemon zest, you will need 1 large (or 2 small) lemons. For no waste, first zest your lemons and then juice them. 

Freezes well.

 

 

Praline Bread Pudding

Known as “poor man’s pudding,” bread pudding was originally created as a means of salvaging stale bread.  In my opinion, there is nothing poor about this rich-ly decadent dessert. In fact, it may be one of my favorite treats.

Every ooey gooey bite reminds me of my Grandmother’s New Orleans kitchen.  She used to make a pretty straight forward version from stale French bread, eggs, milk, sugar, and a little orange zest.  What made hers divine though was the whiskey hard sauce she whipped up to garnish it.  

Bread pudding is a pretty versatile dish. It can be made with pretty much whatever bread you have on hand…some of the popular choices being brioche, challah, croissant, panettone, French, and Italian. You can also add whatever flavorings you prefer. Some folks even make savory bread puddings. (Oyster bread pudding is one savory Louisianan version that I find irresistible.) Bread puddings are even more insanely richer with the addition of a decadent sauce like my Grandmother’s, chocolate fudge or the Praline sauce in this recipe.

One of my new favorite flavors is Praline Bread Pudding. When I was writing Simply Suppers (release date Sept 2010), it was one comfort food that I knew had to be included in my dessert chapter.  Remembering a dessert I once enjoyed at a restaurant, I turned to the talented pastry chef Heather Bugg Ries (owner of the Lady Bugg Bakery) for some inspiration. This is my simplified rendition of her to-die-for bread pudding.

Enjoy!

Praline Bread Pudding

For the bread pudding:
Unsalted butter, to grease the baking dish
6 day old large croissants, cut in 1-inch cubes and set aside in a large mixing bowl (about 8 cups)
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups coarsely chopped praline pecans 

For the praline sauce:
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon dark corn syrup
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
Pinch of salt

To make the bread pudding: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9- X 13-inch baking dish with butter and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the milk, cream, brown sugar, eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk until combined. Pour the custard over the croissants and to coat evenly. Let stand until the croissants have soaked up the custard, about 5 minutes. Stir in the praline pecan pieces.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. 

Place the dish in a roasting pan with at least 2-inch sides. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven. Very carefully pour enough hot water around the dish to come half way up the sides of the baking dish. Slide the rack into the oven, being careful not to slosh water onto the bread pudding. Bake until set, about 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the bread pudding is puffed and golden brown on top, about 15 to 20 minutes.

 To make the praline sauce: In a medium saucepot with tall sides, place the brown sugar, baking soda, vanilla, corn syrup, buttermilk, butter, and salt. (This mixture tends to boil over if not watched).  Whisk to combine. Place over medium heat and cook, without stirring, until the sugar starts to bubble, about 3 minutes. Whisk until well combined. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking occasionally, until it starts to thicken, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve warm.

Serve the bread pudding warm with the sauce on the side. 

Serves 8.

Cooking Tips:

Praline pecans are pecan halves that have been candy-coated. They are sometimes also called candied pecans or bourbon pecans.

Dark brown sugar and dark corn syrup lend a rich molasses flavor to this dessert. It is fine to substitute light brown sugar and light corn syrup if that is what you have on hand.

Variation: Ideally you should use day-old bread for this dish. It is ok to use fresh bread in a pinch. Day-old brioche or French bread can be substituted for the croissants.

Do-Ahead: The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Reheat in a double boiler or a microwave.

Time-Saving Tip: It’s not as rich in flavor, but you can use store-bought caramel sauce in place praline sauce.

Coconut Cake

When I was writing the dessert chapter of my cookbook Simply Suppers (release date September 2010), I went in search of the perfect coconut cake recipe.  In fact, to be honest, it kinda became more like a quest than a search!

I wanted a super moist cake with a to-die-for icing.  The real deal.  One like your grandmother would have made. BUT…I wanted it to be easy.

I started with a box of yellow cake mix.  First, I tried poking holes in the cake and pouring coconut milk over it. It was good…but not what my sweet tooth had envisioned. I called my friend Leigh McLean and begged for the yummy recipe she used at her sadly-now-closed restaurant Lulu Grille.  But she said it was not her recipe to share…it belonged to her mother. (If you live in the South, you know that Southern women guard their secret recipes with a vengeance!)

After lamenting on my Cook with Jennifer Facebook page, that I still was not happy with my coconut cake.  Both LeeAnne Wray and her mother Linda Wray posted that they had the best coconut cake recipe ever…and they even shared it!

The trick is to bake the cream of coconut into the cake and then ice the warm cake with a sugary mixture of sour cream, frozen fresh coconut, and sugar.

I made a few tweaks here and there to the original recipe to make it even simpler but I was sure to keep the Wray’s “secret” tricks.

So here it is…. the “Best Ever” Coconut Cake. 

Be forewarned, you can’t have just one piece of this decadently moist coconut cake. 

Enjoy!

Coconut Cake

For the cake:
1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus extra to grease the pan
All-purpose flour, to flour the pan
2 packages (6-ounce) frozen fresh coconut
1 container (8-ounce) sour cream
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 box (18-ounce) yellow cake mix
1 box (4-ounce) instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 can (15-ounce) cream of coconut

For the icing:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
2 egg whites
3 cups sweetened shredded coconut

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the frozen coconut, sour cream, and sugar. Set aside.

In a the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the yellow cake mix, vanilla pudding mix, oil, water, vanilla extract, eggs, egg yolks, and cream of coconut. Beat the mixture until smooth. Pour the batter, dividing it equally, into the prepared cake pans. Bake until the cakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Remove the cakes from the oven and cool in the pans on wire racks just until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and place onto wire racks.

Carefully slice each of the warm cakes in half horizontally to make a total of 4 thin layers. Place one of the 4 layers on a serving plate. Spread 1/3 of the sour cream-coconut mixture evenly on top. Continue with layering the remaining cake layers and remaining sour cream-coconut mixture. Transfer the cake to the refrigerator to cool at least 20 minutes.

To make the icing: In a small saucepot whisk together the sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved. Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil and cook without stirring until it reaches a temperature of 235 degrees, or when it forms long threads when poured from a spoon back into the pot, about 10 minutes. Remove the sugar syrup from the heat and set aside. Do not cool the sugar syrup.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on high speed until they hold soft peaks. While continuing to beat, slowly pour the hot sugar syrup into the egg whites. Continue to beat on high until the icing is shiny and has cooled, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Frost the top and sides of the cake. Generously sprinkle the shredded coconut all over the cake. Refrigerate overnight before serving.

Serves 8 to 10.

Time-Saving Tip: Instead of making a meringue icing, you can frost the cake with either whipped cream or thawed frozen whipped topping. I like to reserve 1 cup of the sour cream-coconut mixture and whisk that together with 1 cup whipped cream topping. I still cover the cake with shredded coconut after icing.

Cooking Tip: This recipe uses coconut in 3 forms. Found on the baking aisle, sweetened shredded coconut is the most common. It is flaked coconut that has been soaked in corn syrup for added sweetness and moisture.  Frozen fresh coconut is just what it’s called: fresh coconut that has been flaked and frozen. It is found next to the frozen fruit in most markets.  If you cannot find it, you can substitute sweetened shredded coconut. Cream of coconut is a thick sweet liquid made from coconuts. Often used to make drinks, find it in the mixer section of your grocery or liquor store. Coconut milk is not a substitute.

Grilled Peaches and Pound Cake

Serves 4

4 ripe peaches, halved and pitted
1 store-bought pound cake, sliced 3/4 inch thick
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 pint vanilla ice cream
4 tsp. honey

Heat grill to medium.

Transfer the peaches to the grill, cut-side down, and cook until grill marks appear, about 3 minutes. Turn and grill until the skin starts to shrivel and the peach softens, 4 minutes more. Remove the peaches from the grill.

Brush the pound cake slices with the melted butter. Grill until the cake is toasted, about 2 minutes on each side. Place 2 cake slices on each plate, spoon on grilled peaches, top with ice cream and drizzle with the honey.  Serve warm.

Lemon Tart

Serves 8

For the crust:                          
2/3 cup pecans, lightly toasted & cooled                   
1 cup graham cracker crumbs             
¼ cup granulated sugar                      
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted & cooled                 

For the filling:                        
2 large egg yolks                    
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk 
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice              

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a food processor, finely grind the pecans with the graham cracker crumbs and the sugar.  Blend in the melted butter.

Press the mixture onto the bottom and sides of a 9” pie dish (I prefer a tart pan with removable sides) and bake until lightly browned, about 8 minutes.  Let the pie crust cool on a rack.

In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the condensed milk.  Whisk in the lemon juice, a little at a time, until the filling is well mixed.  Spoon the filling into the pie crust.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the filling is set.  Let the pie cool on a rack.  Then chill for at least one hour.

Garnish with whipped cream and fresh berries if desired.


Jennifer Chandler

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