Pear & Almond Cake with Amaretto Caramel Sauce

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My toddler loves pears. Which is why I buy them by the sackfuls. Which is also why I always end up with a bunch of pears that ripen all at the same time. There’s only that many pears we can eat per day! There are oh so many elegant pear desserts I want to try but this particular bunch had gone too soft. Hence this cake.

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You can use bottom of the bowl, overripe pears and still have this cake turn out stellar! It’s a very simple, no fuss recipe. The only work involved is whipping butter and sugar and that only takes about 5 minutes.

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This recipe was originally measured out in grams. I have converted them to cup and tablespoon measures. I have included the weight measurements in italics if you prefer to go that route.

This recipe also mentions Self Rising Flour. You don’t have to rush out to the grocery store to buy a bag, or worse, abandon this project altogether! You just need all purpose flour, baking powder and salt and you can make your own batch of self rising flour. Recipe for that is given below.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • Peeled and roughly chopped pears – 3
  • Unsalted butter* – 1 cup (200 grams)
  • Granulated sugar – 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp (125 grams + 1 tbsp)
  • Large eggs – 2
  • Self rising flour** – 1 cup minus 5 tbsp (100 grams)
  • Ground almonds or Almond meal – 1/2 cup plus 4 tbsp (80 grams)

*If using salted butter leave the salt out of the self rising flour recipe given below

**Self rising flour – Take 1 cup all purpose flour, add 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt. Whisk to combine. Measure and use as directed

For the caramel sauce

  • Salted butter* – 1/4 cup
  • Light brown sugar – 1 cup
  • Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
  • Amaretto extract – 2 tsp (optional)

*If using unsalted butter add 1/2 tsp of salt to your recipe

Method

The cake

  • Preheat oven to 375 F or 190 degree Celsius. Grease and flour a 9 inch circular cake pan. Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature and the butter is softened
  • In a medium saucepan melt 2 tbsp of butter. Add 1 tbsp of sugar and stir till it melts. Add the peeled and chopped pears and simmer till they turn brown and the sauce thickens a little
  • In a large bowl add the remaining butter and sugar and whip together using a mixer till it turns light and fluffy. This will take 5 to 7 minutes
  • Add the eggs one by one and whip thoroughly after each addition
  • Add the flour to this mixture in three batches and combine on low speed just until incorporated
  • Add the ground almonds or almond meal and using a spatula stir it gently through the batter
  • Pour the batter into the cake pan. Level with a spatula. Arrange the cooked pears evenly over the surface of the cake. Pour some of the sauce from the saucepan over the cake
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes till the cake turns golden brown and a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean
  • Cool the cake in the pan set over a cooling rack. Once it is completely cooled remove from pan

The amaretto caramel

  • Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat
  • Add the sugar and cream and stir. The mixture will foam up quite a bit. Make sure you use a saucepan with tall sides
  • Let it cook for about 5 minutes stirring constantly
  • Add vanilla extract, amaretto and salt (if using) and stir
  • Let the sauce simmer on low heat for 2 to 3 minutes till it reaches the desired thickness. For this cake I prefer an unsalted, slightly thin caramel sauce that pours easily over the cake without clumping

Assembly

  • Place the cooled cake on a cake stand or plate. Pour the amaretto caramel sauce generously over the cake and garnish with additional chopped or slivered almonds

This cake can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for 2 days. Anything longer than that, it will have to be stored in the refrigerator.

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Recipe adapted from Frugal Feeding

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Apple Cinnamon Scones with Maple Glaze

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Is it September already?! I know ‘time flies’ and all that but this year, in particular, has driven by at top speed. I enjoy summer and I’m not ready to say goodbye yet. If there is a silver lining to this whole autumn-winter business it is that baking season is just around the corner. That can never be a bad thing right? Apples, figs, pears and all those warming spices? Yes please! Though, I have to admit, that was not the inspiration for this recipe.

 

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These scones came about because dear old husband bought the wrong brand of applesauce, which the toddler disapproved of in no uncertain terms, and I needed an excuse to use it up. That and the lone apple languishing in my fruit bowl. Don’t be fooled by these humble origins though. These scones are legit!

Tender and crisp on the outside, soft and crumbly on the inside and flecked with  juicy bites of apple that pop in your mouth – this may be my favorite scone version yet!

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They are surprisingly easy to make. You need simple ingredients. You don’t need to bring any of them to room temperature. No need for fancy equipment or elbow grease.

Just add all the ingredients to a bowl, mix till you get a slightly wet dough. Form into two circles and cut into wedges. That’s it! You’ll go from dreaming about scones to having them with your morning coffee in about half an hour.

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Yield – 12 scones

Ingredients

For the scones

  • All purpose flour – 2 cups
  • Granulated sugar – 1/3 cup
  • Baking powder – 2 tsp
  • Baking soda – 1/2 tsp
  • Cinnamon powder – 1 tsp
  • Cold butter – 1/4 cup*
  • Unsweetened applesauce – 1/2 cup
  • Chopped apple – 1/2 cup
  • Half and half – 1/2 cup**

For the glaze

  • Icing sugar – 1 cup
  • Milk – 2 tbsp
  • Maple syrup – 2 tbsp

*I used salted butter. If using unsalted butter add 1/4 tsp salt to the dry ingredients

** If you do not have half and half you can use an equal quantity of milk

Method

  • Preheat oven to 425 F or 218 degree Celsius. Shred cold butter using a grater and place it in the freezer while you get the dry ingredients ready
  • In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients and whisk to combine
  • Add the shredded butter to this bowl and cut it in using a pastry cutter or a fork. The flour mixture should begin to look a little like sand with pea sized bits of butter still visible
  • Add applesauce and half and half to this mixture and stir with a spatula to combine. You should arrive at a soft dough that is just a tiny bit sticky and still wet. If the dough is too wet add flour one tablespoon at a time till you arrive at the right consistency
  • Add the chopped apples and gently fold them through the dough with a spatula
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide it into two halves. Do not knead. Using floured hands flatten each half of the dough into a circle approximately 6 inches in diameter. Cut each circle into 6 wedges
  • Place these wedges on a parchment lined baking sheet at least a couple of inches apart. Sprinkle the tops with a bit of granulated sugar. Bake in a preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes till they turn golden brown and a tester inserted into a scone comes out dry
  • Transfer them to a cooling rack
  • For the glaze – Add all the ingredients to a bowl and whisk till smooth.
  • Top the scones with glaze while they are still warm and allow the glaze to set for about 5 minutes

These scones are best eaten fresh out of the oven while they are still warm. You can store them at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Warm them up in the microwave for 20 seconds before eating!

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Recipe adapted from The Kitchen Magpie

Almond & Oat Cookies

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I don’t bake cookies as often as I should. I have a long list of cookie recipes that I want to try but have not gotten round to yet. These cookies are on the top of that list. These cookies should, in fact, top every cookie list out there. They’re crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle. They are thin and light. They are rich and buttery. They have almonds and oatmeal (my favorite cookie ingredient).

You see what I’m talking about!

 

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Heads up – this cookie uses up a lot of butter and sugar – that’s where the ‘rich and buttery’ trait comes from. But let me tell you, this cookie is worth every single calorie. I have had half a dozen of these over the weekend and I have no guilt! None.

So quick and easy to make. Just whip butter and sugars, add egg and vanilla and then add the all purpose and oat flour mixture.

 

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Stir chopped almonds through the dough and you’re ready to scoop!

 

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They go oh so well with coffee! I am definitely making these again. With Amaretto. For sure.

 

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Yield – 32 cookies

Ingredients

  • Salted butter – 3/4 cup*
  • Light brown sugar – 1/2 cup
  • Granulated sugar – 1/3 cup
  • Large egg – 1
  • Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
  • All purpose flour – 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp
  • Oat flour – 1/2 cup (directions given below)
  • Finely chopped almonds – 1/2 cup

*You can use unsalted butter too. Just add 1/8 tsp of salt to your dry ingredients

Method

  • Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 F or 177 degree Celsius
  • Pulse half a cup of rolled oats or old fashioned oats in a food processor till you end up with a fine powder. This is oat flour
  • In a medium sized bowl combine all purpose flour and oat flour and whisk to combine
  • In a larger bowl whip butter and sugars together with a mixer till it turns light and fluffy. This takes 5 to 7 minutes
  • Add the egg and vanilla extract and whip again for a minute till they are thoroughly combined
  • Next add the dry ingredients to the wet in three batches, whipping briefly each time to combine
  • Add the finely chopped almonds and stir them through the cookie dough with a spatula
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Using a 1 tablespoon measure as a scoop, drop cookie dough onto the sheet with a gap of at least 3 inches between each scoop. Gently flatten each scoop of dough just a little. These cookies spread a lot!
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes till the edges turn golden brown
  • Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for at least 5 minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Do not attempt to move the cookies while they are still warm. They may break. They harden only when cooled
  • Store in an airtight container. If you find that the cookies soften after a couple of days put them back in a 350 F oven for 2 to 3 minutes and they will crisp up again
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Recipe adapted from Chocolate, Chocolate and More

Baked Churros

That’s right! Baked, not fried.

I’ve been wanting to make a baked version of these insanely addictive treats for quite some time now. My mom absolutely loves them and I so wanted to bake her a batch while she was here, visiting us. But every time we went out to eat she would skip the entree and order a plate of churros for herself. I did not want to double up on those calories so I kept delegating this recipe to the bottom of my baking to-do list.

Then I found the perfect motivation. I made a batch of Smitten Kitchen’s Hot Fudge Sauce. This stuff is indeed the bomb. I want to put it over everything! And what goes better with chocolate sauce than churros?

I mean, just check this out!

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It’s easy to make – half an hour from beginning to end – and it’s something you can easily whip up for company. Best part is, no special equipment needed. Just a saucepan, spatula and some elbow grease!

Let’s get started

Yield – 24 Churros each 4 inches long

Ingredients

  • All purpose flour – 1 and 1/3 cup
  • Large eggs – 3 (at room temperature)
  • Unsalted butter – 1/2 cup (If using salted butter leave out salt from the dry ingredients)
  • Light brown sugar – 1 tbsp
  • Granulated sugar – 2 tbsp
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp
  • Water – 1 cup
  • Vanilla extract -1 tsp
  • Granulated sugar with 1 tsp of nutmeg or cinnamon for dusting finished churros – 1/3 cup

Method

  • Preheat oven to 400 F or 205 degree Celsius
  • Add butter, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, salt (if using) and water to a medium sized saucepan and place it on medium heat. Stir occasionally till the sugars and butter melt completely
  • Let the liquid come to a boil and then take it off the heat
  • Add in the vanilla extract and flour to the hot liquid and stir vigorously till a smooth dough is formed and it begins to gather around the spatula
  • Make a well in the center of the dough and and the first egg. Stir vigorously again till the egg is completely incorporated. It takes a couple of minutes. You will see the dough getting smoother and shinier after the egg is mixed in
  • Mix the other two eggs one at a time stirring thoroughly after each addition. Here’s a visual guide. The image on the right was taken after the three eggs were added

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  • Fill the dough into a piping bag fitted with a wide open star tip and pipe the dough in straight lines on a parchment lined sheet tray. I piped them about 3.5 to 4 inches long

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  • Spray or lightly brush the piped dough with oil. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes
  • When done the churros will be crisp and golden brown on the outside and will slide around easily on the tray
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes
  • Take granulated sugar and nutmeg (or cinnamon) in a wide bowl and mix. Toss warm churros in the sugar till they are lightly coated. Serve!

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Notes – These churros are best eaten fresh, right out of the oven. You can dip them in any sauce of your choice – melted chocolate, salted caramel, fudge – all work great! If you want to make these churros in advance, cool them and store in an airtight container. Just before serving, warm them in a preheated oven at 350 F or 180 degree Celsius for 5 minutes and then toss them in the sugar – nutmeg mixture 

Recipe adapted from Cookie Dough and Oven Mitt

Fig Loaf

When your toddler refuses to get within 10 feet of anything that even remotely resembles a berry or dried fruit, you grumble a bit, blame it on her daddy’s genes and then, if you’re like me, you get baking. I find loaf cakes are excellent for camouflaging all kinds of those ‘too healthy to eat’ ingredients that your toddler and/or husband actively avoid. That’s how this Fig Loaf came to be.

It’s extremely easy to make. It goes excellently well with tea or coffee and it makes a great breakfast too! I like it lightly toasted with some chocolate spread and sprinkles on top. Now tell me that didn’t entice you!

This recipe requires you to make a fig puree or ‘jam’. You then add this puree to the batter which gives the loaf cake its pure fig-ey taste. It is a simple process that takes about 10 minutes start to finish.

If you want to forget about the loaf cake and just settle down with a bowl of this and a spoon, that’s okay too. I won’t mind.

UPDATE! I tried baking this recipe with Aquafaba, which is basically water in which chickpeas have been cooked, with fantastic results. Just substitute the egg in this recipe with 3 tbsp of aquafaba and follow the recipe as is. It turns out perfect as you can see from these mini loaves

Ingredients

  • All purpose flour – 1 and 1/2 cups
  • Baking soda – 1 and 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp
  • Egg – 1 large
  • Oil – 1/3 cup (Any neutral oil will do. No olive oil)
  • Granulated sugar – 3/4 cup (Can increase to 1 cup for more sweetness)
  • Buttermilk – 1/4 cup
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips – 1/3 cup
  • Chopped dried figs – 1 heaping cup
  • Brown sugar – 1 tbsp
  • Lemon juice – 1 tsp
  • Water – 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla essence – 1 tsp

Method

First we make Fig Puree

  • In a small saucepan combine figs, brown sugar, lemon juice and vanilla essence and cook over medium low heat. Once the sugar has melted add the water to the figs and cook them down, stirring occasionally. Make sure the figs don’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn
  • Once the figs turn mushy and begin to break down, take the pan off the heat and allow to cool. Puree the fig mixture, using very little water if necessary, to form a chunky ‘jam’. Set aside

Now onto the bread

  • Preheat oven to 350 F or 180 degree Celsius
  • Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside
  • In another bowl whip the egg using a hand blender till it turns frothy
  • Add the sugar to the egg and whip till the mixture becomes very pale and fluffy. This takes 2 to 3 minutes
  • Now add the oil and the fig puree to the egg-sugar mixture and whip till it is thoroughly combined
  • Next add half the flour mixture and whip briefly to combine
  • Add in all the buttermilk and whip again
  • Add the remaining half of the dry ingredients and whip till it is all incorporated
  • Using a spatula gently mix in the chocolate chips and make sure there are no streaks of flour in the batter
  • Pour the batter into a greased and floured loaf pan till it is 2/3 full
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes. At the 30 minute mark, check on the loaf cake. If the top is too dark, tent the loaf pan with foil and continue to bake till it is done. This ensures that the top doesn’t burn while the cake bakes
  • The loaf cake is done when a tester inserted into it comes out clean or with very few crumbs attached.
  • Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes on a cooling rack
  • Gently invert the pan onto the cooling and let the cake slide out and then allow it to cool completely

NOTES – I used a 7.5×3.5×2.5 inches loaf pan and had a bit of batter left over that made 3 small cupcakes. Every oven is different. Keep an eye on your loaf cake after the 30 minute mark to make sure it doesn’t over bake. Store the loaf cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Then store it in the fridge.

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This recipe is based on the Fresh Fig Bread recipe over at thespruce.com

Single Serve Apple Crisp

This one is for you and only you. No sharing necessary. In fact it is best eaten in solitude, at the end of a long day, when you want to reward yourself for being the awesome superhero that you are.


Wait till the kids are sound asleep.  Tackle all your chores for the night. You really want this to be the absolute last thing you do before you hit the bed. Then spend just 20 minutes putting this together. It’s totally worth it. I have made it a gazillion times already and it never gets old!

As easy as 1-2-3. Tossed chopped apple in a butter sugar mixture.


Make the crumb topping.


Top apples and bake!


Soft, gooey apples in a sweet caramel sauce topped off with a buttery crumble. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you’re in dessert heaven. It’s a magical combination of comfort food and guilty pleasure.


If you must share, this recipe can be easily doubled.

Ingredients

  • Apple chopped into small pieces – 1/4 cup
  • Salted butter – 1/2 tbsp
  • All purpose flour – 1 tsp
  • Milk – 2 tsp
  • Vanilla extract – 1/2 tsp
  • Light brown sugar – 1 tbsp

For the crumb topping

  • All purpose flour – 2 tsp
  • Oats – 1 tbsp
  • Light brown sugar – 1 tbsp
  • Baking powder – a pinch (approx 1/8 tsp)
  • Cold salted butter – 1/2 tbsp

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 375 F or 190 degree C
  • First the topping – Mix all the dry topping ingredients in a small bowl and add the butter. Using a fork or your fingers gently mix the butter into the dry ingredients. It should all be evenly combined but you should still be able to see bits of butter. Refrigerate this mixture while you get the apples ready. This will make sure the butter in the crumble mix doesn’t melt
  • Chop apple into bite sized pieces and set aside. I like to peel the apple first
  • Melt butter in the microwave in a small ramekin or oven safe cup. This is what I have and I love them!
  • Add all purpose flour, milk, vanilla and sugar and mix until smooth. This turns into a delicious caramel sauce
  • Add the apples to this mixture and toss to combine
  • Top with the crumble mixture
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes
  • The apple crisp is done when the crumble topping is nice and golden and you can see the sauce gently bubbling near the surface
  • Allow it to cool for about 5 minutes. Top with ice-cream and dig in!