Saturday, February 20, 2016

Upside Down Chocolate Blood Orange Cake

Have you ever had "one of those days" that turns into "one of those seasons"?

If you're a follower of my blog, you might be wondering if I have "checked-out" because I have not posted much lately. The truth is,  I've taken some time off from blogging to concentrate on my business and get a little more focused on my website. As grateful as I am for my business, I also long for those days when I could just throw myself in the kitchen and bake for no other reason than the cathartic essence of non-work-related baking. I absolutely love what I do for a living and after 30-plus years, being able to have that "dream job" is something I pinch myself over every morning when I wake.  I'm not sure what happened, but last week I found myself in need of some serious "zen baking" and as luck or God would have it, a day came up with no appointments, family business, lacrosse games, or anything else to take up my time. So in the kitchen I went.

I love winter citrus, mostly because of my beautiful Meyer lemon tree that continues to be prolific year after year. This year, my blood orange tree came back with a few oranges (we thought it was a goner after freezing a couple of years in a row) and so I wanted to pay homage to the gorgeous red and orange, sunset-colored flesh of this delicious citrus. It's a natural to pair orange with chocolate, so I set out to research chocolate and orange desserts.

Not quite Nigella makes a really good blood orange cake that I've made before, so I adapted her recipe but opted for a dark chocolate cake base. What I love about upside down cakes are that one recipe can make two cakes, since they are not layered, or three smaller cakes (like I did here), so you can give them as gifts.

It makes sense that after being on hiatus for a few months and having a schedule that seems so upside-down that I would come back with this cake, I'm jus' sayin'! 

Upside Down Chocolate Blood Orange Cake


3 Blood Oranges (sliced thin, ideally on a mandoline)
1 Cup of Water
1/2 Cup of Sugar

One recipe of your favorite Chocolate Cake (you can use a box or your favorite from scratch).
My go-to, never fail recipe since forever is this Hershey's recipe.

It's important to line your pans with parchment paper, as the oranges can become quite sticky.

Make your cake batter and set it aside.

Decide on how many cake pans you will need. I went with two 5 1/2 in. and one 7 1/2 in. One batch of cake batter will yield up to two 9 in. pans.

Pre-heat oven to 350˚

In a heavy, large skillet, stir the water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved and bubbles are forming around the outer rim of the skillet.  Carefully place your orange slices in the skillet so that they are all easily covered with the syrup. You may have some overlapping - I used a chopstick to maneuver the slices without breaking them.

Lower the heat and continue to boil until the rinds on the oranges are translucent.  Carefully remove (I used the chopstick) the slices and lay on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bring syrup back up to boil and reduce until they are a corn syrup consistency.

Using a pastry brush distribute the thick syrup amongst your pans.
Carefully arrange orange slices overlapping each other to cover the baking pans.

Distribute your chocolate cake batter among your pans. Bake as followed per cake recipes or back of box mix.
I baked my pans for 25 min until a tooth pick came out clean in the middle.
As soon as you pull the cakes out, let rest for 5 min, then invert onto a plate. Carefully peel away the parchment paper to reveal the glazed oranges. Cool completely.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Pumpkin Pie Balls

I'm not sure if it's because I have a job that can at times waste food or if it's the miser in me, but either way, when I'm faced with the option to throw out or re-purpose, I'm always going to go for the latter. I recently made a birthday cake for a friend that required a couple of cake donuts. I'm not sure if I was tired or desperate, but I settled on the only thing I could find in the store at that moment - a "value pack" sized container of old-fashioned glazed cake donuts. After making the cake, I ended up with ten leftover donuts. My family loves a donut once in a while, but getting rid of ten was a little harder than you would think. When it came time to decide if I wanted to throw them out or re-purpose, it wasn't hard to decide.

I had a half a can of pumpkin in the fridge and since this is the pumpkin pie season, I decided to create a little cake ball pie ball out of my extra donuts. I was surprised that when the dough was all mixed together, the consistency came out just like pumpkin pie filling. These pie balls are pretty sweet with the candy shell, but the shell holds the filling together. I think another option would be to roll the chilled balls in graham cracker crumbs and freeze if you wanted to do a frozen pie ball. Give it a try and tell me what you think.

Pumpkin Pie Holes

What you will need:

1 Dozen Old-Fashioned Glazed Donuts
1/2 Can Pumpkin Puree
2 Tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
4 Tbs. Melted Butter
1/3 C. Cream Cheese (softened)
1 Pkg. of White Coating Almond Bark
1/2 Cup of Pumpkin Spice flavored Candy melts
Additional Pumpkin Spice for garnish

In a food Processor, pulverize all of the donuts (may take several batches) until they are a fine crumb texture (like sand). Place in a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and work into a soft dough. It should be a cookie dough texture that will hold a ball shape. With your cookie scoop, make balls of dough (I used a 1-inch scoop but if I did them again I would use a smaller scoop) and place them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Chill in a fridge for 3 hours or over night.

Melt the almond bark. Slowly dip each ball and shake off extra bark. Place each dipped ball on another parchment-lined cookie sheet. When all the balls have been dipped, melt the pumpkin spice flavored melts and drizzle over the white almond bark. Sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice. Keep in fridge until ready to eat or give away. Should last for 3 weeks in an air-tight container in the fridge.