I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Zucchini Lime Drizzle Cake

Zucchini Lime Drizzle Cake

Zucchini breads and cakes are a go to during the growing season, when there is always one left from your farmers market haul, or just too many growing in your garden. I like my zucchini bakes light and fresh, rather than dark and spiced, so with that one lingering zucchini on the counter, I returned to my recipe for Zucchini Lemon Gems to make a loaf cake. I’ve switched to lime for a little difference, and used rich olive oil and tangy Greek yogurt to make the cake moist and zippy.

I debated whether to call this a bread or a cake. It is a cake more in the sense of an English cake, served at tea, rather than the rich frosted confections we think of. But the crackly sweet glaze makes it a little richer than a zucchini bread. Without the glaze, you definitely have a simple bread, but I really think it adds a special touch. Serve this as snack (with iced tea in the summer of course) or for breakfast. But served with a scattering of fresh berries and some lightly sweetened whipped cream, it makes a creative summer dessert packed full of in season flavor.

Zucchini Lime Drizzle Cake
Serves 10
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For the Cake
  1. 2 eggs
  2. 1/2 cup olive oil
  3. 2/3 cup sugar
  4. 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  5. Zest of 1 medium limes
  6. 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  7. 1 cup finely grated zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini)
  8. 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  9. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  10. 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the glaze
  1. Zest of one medium lime
  2. 3 Tablespoons lime juice
  3. 5 Tablespoons granulated sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs then stir in the oil, sugar and yogurt until well blended. Add the lime juice and zest and the zucchini. Stir until blended, making sure the zucchini is evenly distributed. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and stir until just blended, with no streaks of flour left.
  3. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. While the cake is cooking, mix the sugar and lemon juice for the glaze in a small bowl. The sugar should not dissolve completely.
  5. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then poke holes all over the surface with a skewer or cake tester. Stir the glaze to blend, then spoon it over the cake while it is still hot. Leave the cake to cool and soak up the glaze, then run a thin knofe around the edges to loosen and remove from the pan.
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Blackberry Buttermilk Ice Cream with Bay Leaf Sauce

Blackberry Buttermilk Ice Cream with Bay Leaf SauceBay leaves rarely play a starring role in a recipe. I tend to think that if you leave the bay leaf out of a recipe, you may not notice, but the elusive flavor adds a definite boost to soups and stews, and it’s an essential ingredient in a classic French herb seasoning bouquet garni. When I found this recipe in an old community cookbook, I was intrigued, because I have come to enjoy bay leaves as the primary flavor in roasting potatoes and vegetables. I could imagine that flavor in a sweet sauce and immediately thought of earthy blackberries as the perfect foil. Making the ice cream with buttermilk creates a tangy, creamy base for juicy blackberries and marries beautifully with the sauce. It’s also a pretty dish, the lovely purple ice cream with a drizzle of the golden amber sauce, garnished with an extra berry or two.

The sauce could be served over pound cake with a scattering of berries as an alternative, and I think it would also be delicious with peach ice cream. I really can’t wait to explore more uses for this unique sauce as the summer progresses.

Blackberry Buttermilk Ice Cream with Bay Leaf Sauce
Serves 6
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For the Ice Cream
  1. 12 ounces blackberries
  2. 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1 cup half and half
  4. 5 egg yolks
  5. 1 cup cold buttermilk
For the Sauce
  1. ¾ cup light brown sugar
  2. 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  3. 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  4. 1 cup water
  5. 6 fresh bay leaves
Instructions
  1. For the Ice Cream
  2. Puree the blackberries in a blender. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer until the sugar is no longer grainy and the mixture is pale. Heat the half and half in a medium saucepan over medium heat, just until it is warm and small bubbles appear on the surface. Dribble the warm half and half into the yolks while beating constantly. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened. It should coat the back of a metal spoon. Pour the custard through a strainer into a bowl to remove any lumps. Stir in the cold buttermilk, then pour the blackberry puree through the rinsed strainer, pressing the pulp through. Stir to blend. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming and chill the mixture for several hours until completely cold.
  3. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to process the ice cream in an ice cream freezer.
  4. Serve with the bay leaf sauce.
For the Sauce
  1. Whisk the brown sugar and flour together in a medium sauce pan to blend. Add the lemon juice and water and stir to combined. Drop in the bay leaves and cook over medium high heat until the sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes. Leave the sauce to cool, then pour it through a strainer to remove the bay leaves and any lumps. Store, covered, in the fridge for up to two days. It can be served at room temperature or warmed slightly in the microwave or a sauce pan.
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Honey Raspberry Cake

Honey Raspberry CakeRaspberry season is short, and it’s a little hard to find locally grown berries around here. A farmer at the market once told me they were just too labor intensive for him to make much of a profit. When I find them grown here, I jump at the chance. I love to eat them over yogurt with a drizzle of honey, but with a real abundance I like to bake. So I translated that idea into a lovely cake that can be served for breakfast, or as a dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some sweetened whipped cream

What I particularly love about his cake is that it truly tastes of honey. And there is quite a bit of honey in it to make that happen. I often find baking with honey produces sweetness, but the flavor of the honey just sort of melds into the whole. Not so this cake – it has a very honey forward, with the lovely burst of raspberries throughout. The honey glaze puts the honey front and center again, so use a good, local harvested honey, one with a nice floral undertone if you can find it.

Honey Raspberry Cake
Serves 12
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For the Cake
  1. 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  2. 2 cups honey
  3. 2 teaspoons vanilla
  4. zest from one lemon
  5. 6 large eggs
  6. 2 cups whole wheat flour
  7. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  8. ½ teaspoon baking soda
  9. ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  10. 1 cup plain yogurt (not Greek)
  11. 2 cups fresh raspberries
For the Glaze
  1. 2 Tablespoons honey
  2. 2 Tablespoons milk
  3. 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 10 –inch tube pan or a 12 – cup bundt pan with cooking spray (I like Baker’s Joy).
  2. Beat the butter and honey together in the bowl of a stand mixer at medium low until the mixture is smooth and pale in color, almost white, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and lemon zest. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The mixture may look curdled- don’t worry, it will smooth out.
  3. Beat in the flours, baking soda and salt, one cup at a time, alternating with the yogurt, until the batter is smooth and thoroughly combined. Gently fold in 1 ½ cups of the raspberries using a spatula. Place several of the remaining berries in the bottom of the prepared pan, the spoon the batter over them. Spread the batter out evenly to fill the pan, then press the remaining raspberries into the top of the batter.
  4. Bale for 45 – 50 minutes until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan set on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert onto a serving platter.
For the Glaze
  1. Beat the milk and honey together in a medium bowl, then add the confectioners’ sugar until you have a spoonable glaze. Drizzle the glaze over the cake, creating an even layer on the top with which attractively drips down the sides.
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Fresh Strawberry and Cream Pudding

Fresh Strawberry and Cream PuddingA few years ago, I created a Peach Bourbon Buttermilk Pudding to serve to some guests, solely because it was peach season and I had recently acquired some pretty glass vessels that just needed to be used. Now that strawberry season is in full swing, I found myself with some extra berries after a jam making session. I trolled the internet and my own recipe archives for something to do with those berries, but I realized that I wanted something really comforting and creamy and simple – just to set of the beautiful freshness of the berries.

And that’s what this recipe is – miles away from any neon pink concoction from a box and packed full of flavor. This recipe is easy enough to whip up for a weeknight, but can also be an elegant (and slightly cheeky) dessert for a dinner party. Serve it in mason jars or crystal champagne coupes. You can top it with a dollop of shipped cream, whole berries or those elegantly fanned out berry garnishes. When you puree the berries, you could add a splash or liqueur (elderflower is particularly good) or the seeds from a vanilla bean. No matter how you go, homemade strawberry pudding will up your pudding game completely.

Fresh Strawberry and Cream Pudding
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 envelope plain, unflavored gelatin
  2. 1 quart strawberries, hulled
  3. ½ cup sugar
  4. 1 cup heavy whipping cream
Instructions
  1. Stir the gelatin and 2 Tablespoons of water together in a small bowl and set aside to become soft.
  2. Puree the strawberries and sugar in a blender or food processor. You should end up with 2 cups puree. Pour ½ cup of the strawberry puree into a medium saucepan and heat over medium high heat. Stir in the gelatin and heat just until the gelatin is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rest of the strawberry puree. Refrigerate until the puree is cooled, but not set, about 1 hour.
  3. Whip the heavy cream with an electric or stand mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the cold strawberry puree, making sure all the puree is distributed through the cream.
  4. Gently spoon the pudding into small cups or ramekins and refrigerate for 3 – 4 hours until softly set.
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Chocolate Dutch Baby with Vanilla Roasted Strawberries

Chocolate Dutch Baby with Vanilla Roasted StrawberriesIt is hard not to want to eat something called a Dutch Baby. It’s such a sweet and inviting name. The puffy oven pancakes have experienced something of a renaissance in the last few years, with lots of recipes showing up on the internet for sweet and savory versions with all sorts of flavorings and toppings. I, however, sometimes find a plain Dutch baby a little too plain, so I’ve amped it up with chocolate here, and paired it with chocolate’s natural spring partner, strawberries.

There are a lot of things I love about this recipe. The baby is rich and chocolate-y without being cloyingly sweet. Roasting the strawberries heightens their sweetness, and vanilla adds such an aromatic note. Roasting is particularly helpful if your berries are not super-sweet to begin with, or just a little past their prime. Each component of this recipe is delicious on its own, or paired with other things. Most of all, this could not be easier to make. The berries can be roasted a day ahead, and making the baby in the blender literally takes minutes. If you like things a little sweeter, you can serve this with vanilla ice cream, or a cloud of sweetened whipped cream. Most recipes I have read say serve the Dutch baby immediately out of the oven, but I can tell you I’ve had it at room temperature and it was fine.

Chocolate Dutch Baby with Vanilla Roasted Strawberries
Serves 6
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For the Strawberries
  1. 1 pound strawberries, hulled
  2. 2 Tablespoons sugar
  3. 1 vanilla bean
For the Dutch Baby
  1. 2 Tablespoons butter
  2. ¾ cup whole milk
  3. 3 eggs
  4. 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  5. ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  6. ¼ teaspoon salt
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  8. ¼ cup granulated sugar
For the Strawberries
  1. Cut the berries in half and spread them in a single layer in an 8 by 8 inch baking dish. Put the sugar in a small bowl. Cut the vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds with the back of a knife. Drop the seeds into the sugar and toss it all around to blend. I like to toss the bowl a few times, then use my good clean fingers to get the vanilla distributed through the sugar. Sprinkle the sugar over the strawberries, then cut the vanilla bean into three pieces and tuck them into the berries. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until the berries are soft and lots of juice has run out. Don’t overcook or the berries will break down and become mushy.
  2. You can serve the berries immediately or cool, cover and refrigerate them for up to a day.
For the Dutch Baby
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Melt the butter in in a deep oven-safe skillet, about 9 to 10-inches, over medium heat. Do not let it brown.
  2. Place all the ingredients in the order listed in a blender and blend until combined and foamy, about 1 minute. Pour the batter into the hot skillet, then transfer it to the oven and bake until the Dutch baby until puffed and set, about 20 minutes.
  3. Spoon the strawberries over the Dutch baby immediately and serve.
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Buttermilk Brownies with Bourbon Caramel Frosting

Buttermilk Brownies with Bourbon Caramel FrostingNothing is quite so simply satisfying as a good brownie. Even the plainest, unadorned chocolate bite can fulfill the needs of any sweet tooth craving. But the simple brownie can also be a brilliant canvas for creativity, taking on stir-in surprises, creamy frostings or decadent drizzles. Serving a plate of brownies at a party or to family and friends always gets a lively response. So I like to mix it up sometimes – take the simple brownie concept to a new and indulgent level.My penchant for baking with buttermilk comes into play here, making these rich chocolate treats tangy and ultra-moist. I add some Southern flair with a rich frosting of caramel set off with a good kick of bourbon.

These brownies are easy to make – they only use one pan and the 13 by 9 inch size makes sure there are plenty to go around (even a few to squirrel away for yourself). You can use the same pan for the caramel, but I have found that transferring it to a mixer makes for a smoother, fluffier icing over beating it in by hand. The rich, buttery notes of the caramel, enhanced by a generous tot of earthy bourbon, is a revelation. I’m sure I’ll find many uses for it.

Buttermilk Brownies with Bourbon Caramel Frosting
Yields 20
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For the Brownies
  1. 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  2. 1 cup water
  3. 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  4. 2 Tablespoons bourbon
  5. 2 cups granulated sugar
  6. 1 cup all purpose flour
  7. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  8. ½ cup buttermilk
  9. 2 eggs
For the Frosting
  1. ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  2. ½ cup heavy cream
  3. 4 Tablespoons bourbon, divided
  4. 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  5. ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  6. 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
For the brownies
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9 by 13-inch brownie pan with parchment paper or non-stick foil.
  2. Place the butter, water, cocoa powder and bourbon in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes. Stir in the sugar until combined, then add the flour and baking soda and stir until thoroughly combined. Measure the buttermilk in a 2-cup jug, then beat in the eggs. Add this to the batter and stir until combined. The batter will be thin. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30 – 35 minutes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pan.
For the Frosting
  1. Place the butter, cream, 2 Tablespoons of the bourbon and the brown sugar in a large saucepan and heat over medium heat until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a slow boil and cook for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
  2. Pour the cooked caramel into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and add 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar. Beat until smooth, then add the remaining 2 Tablespoons of bourbon, the remaining 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar and the salt and beat until smooth. Spread the batter over the cooled brownies and leave to set for at a few hours.
  3. Cut the brownies into generous squares
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Persimmon Pie

Persimmon Pie

Some years ago I came across some American persimmons, which are a little hard to find in this part of the country nowadays. I got a little overexcited and bought quite a few of the rare gems, so I had to go searching for recipes. A friend gave me an old recipe from her family for persimmon pie, and I quickly made it. I appreciated the novelty of it– I’d never even heard of persimmon pie until she gave me the recipe – so I continued to make it with imported Japanese persimmons, which are readily available in the cold of winter here. But at some point, I realized that the original version, loaded with classic pumpkin pie spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves really didn’t taste that much like persimmon. In fact, it was pretty close to pumpkin pie. I have tinkered with the basic recipe, reducing the spice to the barest hint of subtle mace and adding a nice dose of complimentary orange that brings out the fruitiness of the persimmons, while highlighting the slightly floral undertones. Now I feel like this is a unique dessert that makes the most of lovely persimmons.

I revisited this recipe recently, because I happened to find some dried persimmon slices in the store, and I couldn’t help but think how pretty they would look as a garnish. A dollop of whipped cream is also a nice touch.

Persimmon Pie
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. Pastry for one 9-inch pie, homemade or rolled store bought
  2. Zest and juice of one orange
  3. 1 large Hachiya persimmon (about 9 ounces)
  4. 3 eggs
  5. 1 cup heavy cream
  6. 1 Tablespoon butter, melted
  7. 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  8. 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  9. ½ teaspoon vanilla
  10. ¼ teaspoon mace
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry, then line with parchment paper and fill with baking weights or tried beans. Blind bake the crust for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and gently remove the paper and weights. Leave to cool slightly.
  3. Zest the orange into a large mixing bowl, then squeeze the juice into a bowl or measuring cup. Place 2 Tablespoons of the juice in a blender. Cut the stem from the persimmon and cut into pieces and add to the blender. Blend until smooth. You should have one cup of puree. Crack the eggs into the mixing bowl and lightly beat, then stir in the puree, the cream and the butter until well combined. Add the sugars, vanilla and mace and beat until well combined.
  4. Pour the filling into the crust and bake the pie for 50 minutes to an hour until the filling is set and only slightly jiggly in the center. Cool completely, then refrigerate until firm.
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Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cake with Buttermilk Ganache

Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cake with Buttermilk Ganache

Valentine’s Day gives us all a chance to indulge, and what better way to treat yourself than a rich chocolate cake that is simple to make and completely decadent. I’ve made some version of Chocolate Pound Cake for years, but I kept thinking “this is good, but it could use more chocolate.” So with some tinkering, I figured out how to pack in some really intense chocolate flavor. A healthy dose of deep chocolate cocoa powder set off by tangy buttermilk, with just a little hit of semisweet chocolate. Using buttermilk in the ganache sets it apart – rich chocolate with tang and zip.

This simple cake makes a wonderful dessert for a family dinner or a thoughtful gift for a friend. And I’m just saying, a leftover piece for breakfast with a dollop of strawberry jam keeps the indulgence going.

Chocolate Buttermilk Pound Cake with Buttermilk Ganache
Serves 8
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For the Cake
  1. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  2. 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  3. ½ cup granulated sugar
  4. 1 egg
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  6. ½ cup bittersweet (or semisweet) chocolate chips
  7. 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  8. ¾ cup natural cocoa powder
  9. ½ teaspoon baking soda
  10. ¼ teaspoon salt
  11. 1 cup whole buttermilk, well shaken
For the Ganache
  1. 6 Tablespoons whole buttermilk, well shaken
  2. 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  3. ½ Tablespoon butter, cute into cubes
For the Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Spray a standard 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with baking spray (like Baker’s Joy).
  2. Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until creamy. Add the brown and granulated sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the egg until completely combined. Beat in the vanilla and the chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
  3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together into a small bowl. Really do take the time to sift, as cocoa powder tends to clump. Beat the flour mixture into the butter, alternating with the buttermilk, into two additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 60 – 70 minutes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack for about 10 minutes, then remove from the pan to the rack to cool completely.
For the Ganache
  1. Place a piece of parchment or waxed paper under the rack where the cake has cooled to catch any drips.
  2. Heat the buttermilk in a small saucepan over medium heat just until it begins to bubble. Do not boil. The buttermilk will begin to separate; that’s fine. Drop in the chocolate and turn off the heat. Beat vigorously with a spatula or spoon until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Beat in the cubes of butter until melted and smooth. Because the buttermilk curdles slightly, this ganache is not utterly smooth and silky, but I like it that way – it gives it a homemade look. If you like, you can pour the ganache through a fine strainer into a bowl before spreading it on the cake.
  3. Slowly spread the ganache over the top of the cake. I love to leave most of the ganache on the top, with just a little overflow dripping down. Go slowly and you can do this to. This way you don’t loose too much frosting in drips. Let the ganache cool and firm up for at least an hour, then slice and serve.
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Peppermint Cookie Bars

Peppermint Cookie Bars

A good, thickly frosted sugar cookie bar has all the old-fashioned comfort we look for during the holidays. I like to take that recipe and zuzz it up for Christmas, with some rich white chocolate and bracing peppermint. The shower of crushed peppermint candy adds a festive touch and couldn’t be easier to do. These are simple to make, but look gorgeous on a festive platter and will really stand out on a display of other sweets. I took them to a party last year and another woman picked one up then asked what they were. I told her they were peppermint and saw her hesitate – but clearly wasn’t going to put it back on the plate – so she politely took a bite. Her face lit up and she declared “I don’t really like peppermint but these are yummy. My son would love these!” She promptly asked for the recipe.

You could tint the icing pink if you are so inclined and I have been known to add some edible white glitter to the peppermint candies to add an extra sparkle. The soft peppermint puffs work best, rather than the classic starlight style mint, because they crush more easily and are not as hard to eat.

Peppermint Cookie Bars
Yields 26
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For the Base
  1. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  2. ½ cup sugar
  3. 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  4. ½ teaspoon baking powder
  5. ½ teaspoon salt
  6. 1 egg
  7. 2 Tablespoons sour cream
  8. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  9. ½ cup white chocolate chips
For the Topping
  1. ½ cup butter, softened
  2. 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  3. ¼ cup milk
  4. ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
  5. 10 soft peppermint candies (such as Bob’s Sweet Stripe)
For the Base
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line an 8 by 8 inch square pan with nonstick foil or parchment paper.
  2. Beat the butter and the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg, sour cream and vanilla and beat until well combined ans smooth. Gradually beat in the flour, baking powder and salt, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until you have a smooth, thick dough. Beat in the white chocolate chips.
  3. Press the dough into the prepared pan in an even layer. Smooth the top with your fingers to make a flat surface. Bake the base for 20 – 15 minutes until lightly golden at the edges, firm, and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the bars completely.
For the Topping
  1. Clean and dry the bowl of the stand mixer, then beat the butter until light. Gradually add the confectioners sugar alternately with the milk, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently, until you have a luscious, spreadable frosting. Beat in the peppermint extract.
  2. Spread the frosting in an even layer over the top of the cookie base. I like to use an offset spatula. Smooth the top.
  3. Unwrap the candies and place them in a sturdy zip top bag. Use a rolling pin or other heavy object to smash the candies to rubble and dust. Evenly sprinkle the candies over the frosting and use your clean hands to press the candy into the frosting so it doesn’t just fall off when served.
  4. Cut into small squares.
Notes
  1. For the batch in the photo, I found white chocolate chips with a red swirl which make a pretty addition. They were not peppermint flavored, but if you find those, I am sure it would be lovely.
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Cranberry Gingerbread Cake with Butter Sauce

Cranberry Gingerbread Cake with Butter Sauce

I am very nostalgic about gingerbread, though it is not part of some long-standing family holiday tradition. Other than the occasional hard gingerbread man cookie, I was well into my teens before I ever even knew there was any other form. But soft, cake-like gingerbread seems to hark back to the olden days. It has a Little House on the Prairie or Frances Hodgson Burnett kind of quality to it. Maybe it’s the gingery smell of Christmas when the cake is baking, or the rich, warm spices so associated with the holidays. Gingerbread makes me feel like I am continuing a tradition, though I never had one to begin with. And it does play nicely into my anglophilia, for it is definitely an British tradition.

I’ve upped the American ante here though with our native cranberries for a festive touch. This cake perfectly straddles the Thanksgiving – Christmas line, featuring flavors perfect for both. Make it for either or both. This recipe can be made ahead, which is always a bonus during the hectic season. I serve this as dessert, and the butter sauce adds a touch or decadence fit for the season. But this would also make a lovely breakfast without the sauce.

Cranberry Gingerbread Cake with Butter Sauce
Serves 9
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For the Cake
  1. 2 cups fresh cranberries
  2. 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  3. 4 Tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  4. 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  5. 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  6. ¼ cup molasses
  7. 1 egg
  8. 1 cup buttermilk
  9. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  10. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  11. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  12. 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  13. ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  14. ½ teaspoon salt
  15. ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  16. 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  17. For the Butter Sauce
  18. ½ cup (I stick) butter
  19. 1 cup granulated sugar
  20. ¾ cup heavy cream
For the Cake
  1. Pulse the cranberries in a food processor (the mini one works fine) until roughly chopped. Add the flour and 1 Tablespoon sugar and pulse until you have a fine rubble.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  3. Cut the butter into chunks and place it in a 9 by 13 glass baking dish. Melt the butter in the oven for about 5 minutes. Swirl the butter around to cover the sides of the pan, then pour the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the brown sugar and molasses and beat on medium low for a few minutes until thoroughly combined and smooth. Add the egg and beat until combined. Beat in the buttermilk and vanilla until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Mix the flour, soda, salt, and spices together in a small bowl, then beat into the wet ingredients until combined, scraping down the bowl a few times. Add half of the cranberries and mix in gently. Take the bowl off the mixer and give the batter a good stir to distribute the cranberries. Scrape the batter into the buttered baking dish.
  5. Spread the remaining cranberries evenly over the surface of the batter. I find my clean fingers the best tool for this, breaking up the cranberry mixture as best I can and distributing over the batter. The batter will not be completely covered, just do your best to evenly spread the cranberries and press them lightly into the batter.
  6. Mix the cinnamon and remaining 3 Tablespoons sugar together for the topping and sprinkle evenly over the top of the cake. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. The cake can be cooled and covered and kept for one day.
For the Butter Sauce
  1. Melt the butter over medium high heat in a medium saucepan until it is bubbling and spitting and just beginning to brown. Stir in the sugar and the heavy cream and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then remove the sauce from the heat and stir well. The sauce can be served warm or a room temperature. You can cool, cover and refrigerate one day ahead, then loosen the sauce by heating it in the microwave.
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