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Crunchy Toffee Triangles

toffee

Chewy and moist on the inside, these indulgent bars get crunch from toffee pieces mixed into the dough and a generous sprinkling of almonds on top. Great for dessert or afternoon tea, these treats also pack well in lunch boxes.

Crunchy Toffee Triangles

2 1/4 cups (11 1/2 oz./360 g.) all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 cup (8 oz./250 g.) unsalted butter

1 cup (8 oz./250 g.) granulated sugar

1 cup (7 oz./220 g.) firmly packed dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

8 oz. (250 g.) toffee pieces

3/4 cup (3 oz./90 g.) whole almonds, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped

 

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm.) baking pan. Line with parchment paper, letting the paper overhang the long sides by 1 inch (2.5 cm.).

 

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat on low speed until the eggs are completely incorporated. Beating on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients and continue to beat until almost incorporated. Add the toffee pieces and beat on low speed just until incorporated. Spread the dough evenly in the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top evenly with the almonds.

 

Bake until golden around the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only moist crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, about 1 hour. Run a metal spatula around the edges of the pan and use the parchment paper to lift the dessert from the pan. Cut into 18 triangles and serve. Makes 18 cookies.

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Puff Pastry

puff pastry

Puff pastry forms the foundation of as many sweet and savory treats as you can dream up, so it’s perfect to have on hand during the holidays for easy desserts and hors d’oeuvres. The much-loved dough bakes up into hundreds of delicate layers of buttery pastry, which can serve as a base for a tart, a wrapper for a turnover, or the layers of a napoleon, to name a few.

 

Puff pastry is made by repeatedly rolling and folding a block of butter into a tender dough until the butter is divided into scores of layers within the mass. This technique is known as laminating; when the dough is baked, the water in the butter turns to steam, causing the layers to rise and create a light, flaky pastry.

 

Here, we show two ways to make puff pastry at home. The classic version will give you the most layers, but it’s time-consuming to make. The quick version requires fewer turns and results in fewer layers, but the results are still delicate and delicious.

 

Classic Puff Pastry

For the puff dough:

3 cups (15 oz./470 g.) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup (4 oz./125 g.) cake flour

1 tsp. salt

2 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm.) pieces

1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml.) ice water, or as needed

 

For the butter package:

1 lb. (500 g.) unsalted butter

2 Tbs. unbleached all-purpose flour

 

In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine 2 cups (10 oz./315 g.) of the all-purpose flour and the salt. Pour in the ice water and mix on low speed until a smooth batter forms. Scatter the butter pieces over the surface. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the remaining all-purpose flour and cake flour, 1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g.) at a time, until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes.

 

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 15-20 seconds to make sure it is smooth and not sticky. Flatten the dough, shape into a rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap, place in a plastic bag, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to overnight.

 

To make the butter package, using a rolling pin or the heel of your hand, beat or knead the butter on a work surface to flatten and warm it until it is cool and pliable, about 60°F (16°C). Sprinkle the butter with the flour and gently beat the butter with the rolling pin to press the flour into the butter. Shape the butter into a 6-inch (15-cm.) square about 3/4 inch (2 cm.) thick. If the butter has become too warm, wrap and refrigerate just until firm but still pliable (60°F/16°C).

 

To laminate the dough, on a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 12-inch (30-cm.) square. Place the butter at a diagonal in the center of the dough. Fold over the corners of the dough to meet in the center, covering the butter completely. Pat with your hands to form an 8-inch (20-cm.) square, then turn the square over so the seams are underneath. Roll out into a rectangle 24 inches (60 cm.) long by about 8 inches (20 cm.) wide, with a short side facing you. Fold the bottom third up, then fold the top third down, as if folding a letter. This is the first turn. Rotate the dough a quarter turn clockwise so that a fold is on your left.Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. Repeat to make 5 more turns, rolling, folding and chilling the dough each time, for a total of 6 turns. Each time you start, make sure you have a fold on your left. After the final turn, wrap the dough in plastic wrap, place in a plastic bag, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or for up to overnight before shaping. Makes about 2 lb. (1 kg.) dough.

 

*NOTE: Many recipes call for 1 lb. (500 g.) of dough, or half of this recipe. Puff pastry is easily stored for later use; just cut the finished dough into quarters, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, place in a zippered plastic bag, and freeze for up to 1 month.

 

Weekend Project: Puff Pastry

 

Quick Puff Pastry

1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz./235 g.) unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g.) cake flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 lb. (250 g.) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm.) pieces

1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml.) ice water

 

BY HAND: In a bowl, stir together the flours and the salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the butter until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of large peas. Sprinkle the ice water over the surface and toss and stir with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula until it is absorbed. With your hands, pat the mixture into a loose ball.

 

BY FOOD PROCESSOR: Combine the flours and the salt and process briefly to mix. Scatter the butter over the flour and pulse about 10 times until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of large peas. Pour in the water and pulse 2 or 3 times until the dough starts to gather together, but before it forms a ball.

 

BY STAND MIXER: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together the flours and salt. Scatter the butter over the flour and mix on low speed until the butter is coated with flour. Pour in the water and mix just until the water is absorbed and the butter is still in large pieces.

 

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, dust the top lightly with flour, and pat into a rectangle 3/4-inch (2-cm.) thick. Roll out the dough into a rectangle 12 inches (30 cm.) long, about 7 inches (18 cm.) wide, and 1/2 inch (12 mm.) thick.

 

With a short side facing you, fold the bottom third up, then fold the top third down, as if folding a letter. Rotate the dough a quarter turn clockwise (so a seam is on your left) and repeat the process, rolling the dough into a 12-by-7-inch (30-by-18-cm.) rectangle and folding into thirds. Repeat the process a third time.

 

If at any time the dough begins to warm up and the butter begins to soften, place the dough in the refrigerator to chill for 20-30 minutes. After the third and final turn, wrap the dough in plastic wrap, place in a plastic bag, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or for up to overnight before shaping.

 

For longer storage, cut the puff into quarters, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, place in an airtight plastic bag, and freeze for up to 1 month.

 

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Dark and Sticky Gingerbread

gingerbread

This dark, spicy and ultramoist cake is never more delicious than it is during the holidays. Its warm flavors are perfect for a wintry day — and even better when paired with a frothy pint of Guinness.

Dark and Sticky Gingerbread

1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml.) brewed espresso or very strong coffee

3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g.) firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 cup (11 oz./345 g.) molasses

3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml.) canola oil

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 Tbs. peeled and grated fresh ginger

2 cups (10 oz./315 g.) all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 Tbs. ground ginger

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Pinch of ground white pepper

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Heaping 1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g.) chopped crystallized ginger

Whipped cream for serving

 

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F (180°C). Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch (23-cm.) springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the parchment. Put the pan on a rimmed baking sheet.

In a bowl, whisk together the espresso, brown sugar, molasses, oil, eggs and fresh ginger. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and salt. Add the wet ingredients along with the crystallized ginger, and stir to combine. The batter will be quite loose.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50-60 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then remove the pan sides and slide the gingerbread onto a serving plate. Serve warm with heaps of whipped cream. Makes one 9-inch (23-cm.) gingerbread.

Baker’s Note: Make the gingerbread into a dessert fit for company by serving slices topped with poached pears and cream whipped with a big pinch of ground ginger.

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Bake a Layer Cake

layer

A towering, decadent, showstopping cake is the best way to celebrate a special occasion, whether it’s Easter Sunday or a spring birthday. Here are our best tips for pulling off your most memorable dessert yet!

Our Celebration Layer Cake Pans

make it easy to bake each layer, and with their pretty scalloped edges, you don’t even need to frost the sides before serving! Our Test Kitchen cooks love these pans because they work with almost any batter: our mixes, other prepared mixes or a scratch white or chocolate cake. Whether you’re using the layer cake pans or a regular cake pan, be sure to brush the pans with melted butter and dust with flour before baking, then cool them on a wire rack before frosting.

Slice into layers

If you’re using a standard cake pan, you’ll need to slice it in half horizontally. Hold a ruler up to the side of the cake base and, using toothpicks, mark the midpoint at regular intervals around the cake. Using a long, thin serrated bread knife, split the cake horizontally into even layers. Put one layer, cut side up, on a cardboard circle. Place the other layer, cut side down, on a sheet of plastic wrap.

Fill the cake.

 When filling a layer cake, jams should be spread thinly, while rich fillings, such as curd, pastry cream or buttercream, should be thicker. Lighter fillings like mousse should be thick, but never thicker than the cake layer. Mound the filling in the center of the layer and, using an icing spatula, spread it to the edge. Flip the other layer over onto the filling, cut side up. Gently push the layer evenly into place. Repeat with remaining layers (remember, you can make as many as you want)!

Frost and finish.

Before you start frosting, you need to make a crumb coat — a thin layer of frosting that sticks to the crumbs so they don’t mess up the surface. Place the filled cake on a work surface and put a small amount of frosting on top. Using an icing spatula, smooth a thin layer of frosting over the cake. The crumb coating should be thin and even, covering the entire surface of the cake. Refrigerate until firm, 15 to 20 minutes, before frosting.

To frost, mound the frosting in the center of the cake and use an icing spatula to smooth it gently and evenly over the top. Smooth down the frosting with broad strokes; be sure not to touch the spatula to the cake without icing on it, or you could pick up crumbs.

Dip the spatula in warm water and wipe clean with a damp kitchen towel as needed. The top of the cake should be flat. Whether you frost the sides is up to you — leaving them bare gives you a more casual dessert, while frosting them looks a little fancier.

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Ice Cream Cakes

baking104_cakes_12062-652x756

An ice cream cake is the ultimate showstopping dessert for any summer party. It combines everyone’s favorite things — rich, melting ice cream and soft, fluffy cake — in one perfect package, and it’s easy to customize with your favorite flavors. Here, Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen cook Melissa Stewart shares her tips for making it at home. (Scroll down for recipes — 4th of July inspiration!)


Bake your cake
. You can use whatever cake you like as your base. “I’ve even used brownies,” says Melissa. Since you’re freezing the cake, pretty much any recipe will have enough structure to stand up to the weight of the ice cream. To save time, use a store-bought cake or a mix.

Very Berry Ice Cream CakeBake and assemble in the same pan. For easy assembly, use the pan you baked the cake in to build the finished masterpiece.

Mind your cake-to-ice cream ratio. For the best bites, create thin layers of cake — that way the cake won’t overwhelm the ice cream. You can freeze the cake layers before assembling, but it’s not necessary.

Soften your ice cream. Let your ice cream sit at room temperature for 10 minutes or so before you start spreading it on the cake layers. You can also let it thaw for a few minutes, then beat it in a mixer with a paddle to create a pliable texture. Or, put it in a large bowl and beat it with a wooden spoon. Once it’s soft, pour it onto the cake and use an ovset spatula to spread it.

Avoid sticking. Ice cream melts quickly, so you shouldn’t have too many issues with the cake sticking to the pan. If you like, you can put a piece of parchment paper or a big piece of plastic wrap on the bottom of the pan to insure it doesn’t stick.

 

Freeze the assembled cake overnight. “You want it to be nice and solid and to make sure the ice cream really adheres to the cake layers,” says Melissa.

Serve! Let the cake sit for two or three minutes before serving. “I like to heat a big slicing knife under hot running water, and wipe it with a towel to cut through and get clean slices,” says Melissa. Don’t frost the cake with a buttercream, which will seize up against the cold cake. If you do want to frost it, use a pourable topping like a ganache or caramel.

 

Cookies and Cream-Mocha Chip Ice Cream Cake

 

Cookies and Cream-Mocha Chip Ice Cream Cake

20 Tbs. (2 1/2 sticks) (10 oz./315 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Cookies & Cream Cake Mix (includes sugar and cake mix packets)

5 egg whites, at room temperature

3/4 cup milk (6 fl. oz./185 ml) milk, at room temperature

2 pints (28 oz./875 g) mocha chip ice cream, slightly softened

6 oz. (185 g) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./185 ml) heavy cream

1/2 cup (3 oz./90 g) finely crushed chocolate sandwich cookies

Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and flour two 9-inch (23-cm) round cake pans.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to low, add the sugar packet and beat until just blended, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg whites and milk until blended. With the mixer on low speed, add the cake mix packet in 4 additions, alternating with the egg white mixture and beginning and ending with the cake mix. Beat just until the batter is well blended, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the bowl.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake until the cakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 26 to 28 minutes.

Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes, then invert the pans onto the rack and let the cakes cool completely. Using a serrated knife, split each cake in half horizontally.

Cut out a 9-inch (23-cm) circle of parchment paper and place in the bottom of a clean 9-inch (23-cm) round cake pan.  Place 1 cake layer, top side down, in the pan. Spoon half of the mocha chip ice cream into the pan and, using an offset spatula, spread it evenly to the edges of the pan.

Top with a second cake layer, then spoon the remaining mocha chip ice cream on top and spread evenly. Top with a third layer of the cake, setting aside the fourth layer for snacking or another use. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the freezer until frozen solid, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.

Place the chocolate in a heat-safe bowl. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, warm cream until small bubbles form at the edge of the pan. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit for 1 minute. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Remove the plastic wrap from the cake and carefully turn out onto a wire rack. Place the rack on a baking sheet and remove the parchment paper. Pour the chocolate mixture over the cake, allowing the chocolate to cover the entire top and drizzle down the sides. Sprinkle the cake with the crushed cookies. Return to the freezer for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serves 12.

Very Berry Ice Cream Cake

 

Very Berry Ice Cream Cake

1 8-by-4-inch (20-by-10-cm) pound cake

1 pint (14 oz./440 g) strawberry ice cream, softened

1 pint (14 oz./440 g) strawberry or raspberry sorbet, softened

1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) heavy cream

2 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups (8 oz./250 g) mixed berries, such as raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and quartered strawberries

Line the bottom and sides of an 8-by-4-inch (20-by-10-cm) loaf pan with plastic wrap or parchment paper, allowing it to overhang the edges by 2 inches (5 cm).

Using a serrated knife and starting from the bottom of the cake, cut the pound cake horizontally into two layers, each 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) thick. Set aside the extra layer for snacking or another use.

Scoop the ice cream and sorbet into a large, wide bowl, alternating scoops of the ice cream and the sorbet to make them easier to combine. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold and swirl the ice cream and sorbet together until they are mostly combined but some swirls are still visible.

To assemble the cake, spoon half of the swirled ice cream into the prepared loaf pan and, using an offset spatula, smooth it in an even layer. Top the ice cream with the bottom layer of pound cake. Spoon the remaining ice cream into the pan and spread it evenly over the cake layer. Top the ice cream with the second cake layer. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.

When ready to serve, remove the ice cream cake from the freezer and, using the overhanging plastic wrap to help remove the cake from the pan, invert the cake onto a serving platter. Remove the plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes.

While the cake is resting, in a large bowl combine the cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Using a whisk, whip until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Using an offset spatula, spread the whipped cream over the top of cake, then scatter the berries on top of the whipped cream. Slice and serve immediately. Serves 10 to 12.

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Blackberry-Apple Pie

cleanup

Prepared in a fry pan rather than a traditional pie dish, this simple pie makes a homey finish to a rustic dinner party. And cleanup is easier than ever since you cook the fruit and serve the pie from the same pan.

 

Blackberry-Apple Pie

4 apples, about 1 1/2 lb. (750 g) total, cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces

1/3 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g) firmly packed light brown sugar

2 Tbs. cornstarch

1/4 tsp. salt

5 cups (20 oz./625 g) fresh or frozen and thawed blackberries

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 batch basic pie dough

1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water

2 tsp. turbinado sugar

Preheat an oven to 400°F (200°C).

In a 10-inch (25-cm) sauté pan over medium heat, stir together the apples, brown sugar, cornstarch and salt. Sauté until the apples until just tender-crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the blackberries and cook until the blackberries soften and begin to release their liquid, 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

Roll out the pie dough into a 12-inch (30-cm) round about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Carefully roll the pie dough around your rolling pin and unroll it on top of the pan. Trim the edge, leaving 1 inch (2.5 cm) of overhang, then crimp the edges to seal the dough to the pan.

Brush the edges of the crust with egg wash and sprinkle the top of the pie with the turbinado sugar. Using a small, sharp knife, cut about 5 slits in the crust to allow steam to escape during baking.

Bake until the crust is crisp and golden brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for at least 1 hour before serving.  Serves 8.

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Tres Leches Cake

Tres-Leches-Cake-652x615

In this version of tres leches cake, a dessert that’s popular in many parts of Latin America, a simple white cake is soaked in a luscious sauce made from three milks and a hit of rum. For a colorful presentation, garnish the fluffy, glossy meringue frosting with tropical fruits like papaya, mango and pineapple.

Tres Leches Cake

For the cake:
1⁄2 cup (4 oz./125 g) vegetable shortening
1 1⁄2 cups (12 oz./375 g) sugar
2 large eggs
2 1⁄4 cups (9 oz./280 g) sifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) whole milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the tres leches sauce:
1 can (14 fl. oz./430 ml) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (12 fl. oz./375 ml) evaporated milk
1⁄2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) heavy cream
3 Tbs. dark rum
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the meringue frosting:
3⁄4 cup (6 oz./185 g) sugar
3 large egg whites
1⁄4 tsp. cream of tartar

Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking pan. Dust with flour and shake out the excess.

To make the cake, in a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the shortening on high speed until fluffy. Add the sugar a little at a time, beating until fluffy between additions. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition, about 2 minutes total. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and vanilla. Add one-third of the milk mixture to the egg mixture and beat until well mixed, then add one-third of the flour mixture. Repeat twice more, beating well after each addition. Scrape the batter into the pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert the cake onto a platter and let cool completely.

To make the tres leches sauce, in a bowl, whisk together the condensed milk, evaporated milk, cream, rum and vanilla. Poke the cake all over with a fork, and spoon the sauce over the surface, a little at a time, allowing the cake to absorb the sauce before adding more. A little sauce may pool on the platter, but the cake should absorb almost all of it. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

To make the frosting, in a saucepan, bring the sugar and 1⁄2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) water to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat and simmer, washing down the sides of the pan as crystals form with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. While the sugar is cooking, in a clean metal bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until stiff peaks form. Cook the sugar syrup until a candy thermometer registers 230°F (110°C), 10 to 12 minutes. Slowly add the boiling syrup in a thin stream to the beating egg whites until all the syrup is incorporated. Continue beating until the meringue frosting is cooled and glossy. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Spread the meringue frosting on the cake, cover, and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours and up to 8 hours. Serve chilled, cut into squares. Serves 10 to 12.

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Apple-Ginger-Cranberry Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream

American

Apple pie is an American classic, but for this special occasion we dress it up for winter with bright red cranberries and a bit of spicy crystallized ginger.

 

Apple-Ginger-Cranberry Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream

2 rolled-out rounds of pie dough, each about 12 inches (30 cm) in
diameter and 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick, chilled

4 lb. (2 kg) Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups (6 oz./185 g) cranberries

1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) chopped crystallized ginger

3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g) sugar, plus more for sprinkling

1/4 tsp. salt

3 Tbs. all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling dough

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1 egg plus 1 tsp. water, lightly beaten

Vanilla ice cream for serving

 

Remove 1 dough round from the refrigerator. Transfer to a 9-inch (23-cm) deep-dish pie dish and gently press into the dish. Trim the edges flush with the rim. Reroll the dough scraps and cut out shapes using decorative pie cutters. Refrigerate the pie shell and cutouts for 30 minutes.

 

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 400°F (200°C).

 

In a large bowl, toss together the apples, cranberries, crystallized ginger, the 3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g) sugar, the salt, the 3 Tbs. flour and the lemon juice.

 

Let the pie shell, cutouts and the remaining dough round stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Pour the apple filling into the pie shell and place the dough round over the filling. Trim the edges flush with the rim and press the top and bottom crusts together. Brush the underside of the cutouts with egg wash and arrange them on the pie. Brush the entire top crust with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

 

Bake until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling, about 1 hour, covering the edges with foil if they begin to brown too quickly. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for 1 hour before serving.

 

To serve, cut the pie into slices and top with vanilla ice cream. Serves 8.

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Blackberry Coffee Cake with Pecan Streusel

coffee with blackberry

A moist streusel-topped coffee cake is the perfect canvas for fresh blackberries, creating the perfect breakfast or brunch treat for late summer mornings.

Blackberry Coffee Cake with Pecan Streusel

2 cups (10 oz./315 g) plus 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. fine sea salt

16 Tbs. (2 sticks) (8 oz./250 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 3/4 cups (14 oz./440 g) granulated sugar

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

2 eggs, beaten, at room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup (8 oz./250 g) sour cream, at room temperature

1 pint (8 oz./250 g) blackberries

2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

 

For the pecan streusel:

3/4 cup (4 oz./125 g) all-purpose flour

1/3 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g) firmly packed light brown sugar

6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) (3 oz./90 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup (4 oz./125 g) coarsely chopped pecans

 

Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking dish. Dust the pan with a little flour, tapping out the excess.

 

In a bowl, sift together the 2 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat together the butter, granulated sugar and orange zest on high speed until light in color and texture, about 3 minutes. Gradually beat in the eggs and then the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the sour cream and beginning and ending with the flour, beating until smooth. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

 

In another bowl, combine the blackberries, brown sugar, cinnamon and the 1 Tbs. flour. Spread half of the batter in the prepared pan. Top with the berry mixture, taking care that no berries touch the sides of the pan. Spread the remaining batter over the berries, smoothing the top.

 

To make the streusel, in a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar and butter. Using your fingers, work the ingredients together until just combined, then work in the pecans. Press the mixture together into a ball and then separate it with your fingers into coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the cake.

 

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Cut the cake into squares and serve. Serves 12.

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Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake

Sour cream chocolate

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake

This splendid cake is the perfect centerpiece for a birthday or other celebration and can be made a day in advance of the party. The sour cream in both the cake and the frosting lends a slight tanginess that nicely complements the chocolate flavor. For a special touch and extra flavor and texture, press chopped toasted walnuts, peanuts, or pistachios into the sides of the frosted cake. Or, leave the cake plain and use the back of a spoon to make a scallop pattern in the frosting all over the cake.

Makes one 9-inch cake

1 1⁄4 cups (61⁄2 oz/200 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
1⁄2 cup (11⁄2 oz/45 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
3⁄4 cup (6 oz/185 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1⁄4 cups (9 oz/280 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
2⁄3 cup (5 oz/160 g) sour cream
Sour Cream Fudge Frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter the bottoms and sides of two 9-inch (23-cm) round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment (baking) paper. Butter the paper.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter until light, about 4 minutes. Gradually add the brown sugar and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. On low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternately with the sour cream in 2 batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixing until incorporated.

The batter will be thick. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Invert onto the racks, peel off the parchment, turn right sides up, and let cool completely.

Place 1 cake layer, top side down, on a plate. Using an icing spatula, spread 2⁄3 cup (5 fl oz/150 ml) of the frosting over the top. Place the second cake layer, top side down, on top, lining up the edges. Spread the remaining frosting decoratively over the top and sides of the cake. Serve right away, or cover and store at room temperature for up to 1 day.

Sour Cream Fudge Frosting
When a cake calls for something ultrarich, creamy, and chocolaty, this is the answer. Sour cream can curdle if exposed to high heat, so be sure to let the butter-cream-chocolate mixture cool until it is just warm enough to melt the sour cream when it is added.

Makes about 2 2/3 cups (21 fl oz/660 ml)

4 tablespoons (2 oz/60 g) unsalted butter
1⁄4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) heavy (double) cream
10 oz (315 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3⁄4 cup (6 oz/180 g) sour cream
1 cup (4 oz/125 g) confectioners’ (icing) sugar

In a heavy saucepan, combine the butter and cream over low heat and heat, stirring frequently, until the butter melts. Add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and let cool to lukewarm, about 8 minutes.

Whisk in the sour cream until fully combined, then whisk in the confectioners’ sugar. Let the frosting stand until thick enough to spread, about 10 minutes.
If the frosting becomes too stiff to spread, rewarm it briefly over low heat and whisk again until smooth.

For mocha frosting: Add 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder or regular coffee powder to the butter and cream.

For tangerine-fudge frosting: Whisk in 1 tablespoon grated tangerine zest before adding the confectioners’ sugar.