4th of July Flag Cake with Berries

flagcake

flagcake

 

Ingredients
18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 cup sour cream at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
For the icing:
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese at room temperature
1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Flag made of Berries:
2 half-pints blueberries
3 half-pints raspberries

This cake can be made much quicker and easier if you use a store bought vanilla or white cake mix and just frost and decorate the top of the cake.

Directions
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour an 18 by 13 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed, until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then add the sour cream and vanilla. Scrape down the sides and stir until smooth.

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a spatula. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool to room temperature.

For the icing, combine the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mixing just until smooth.

Spread three-fourths of the icing on the top of the cooled sheet cake. Outline the flag on the top of the cake with a toothpick. Fill the upper left corner with blueberries. Place 2 rows of raspberries across the top of the cake like a red stripe. Put the remaining icing in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe two rows of white stripes below the raspberries. Alternate rows of raspberries and icing until the flag is completed. Pipe stars on top of the blueberries.

 

Summer Blackberry Pie

blackberrypie

 

blackberrypie

CRUST

  1. 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 3 tablespoons sugar
  3. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 cup solid vegetable shortening, chilled
  5. 5 tablespoons ice water

FILLING

  1. 2 pints blackberries (1 1/2 pounds)
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  4. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  5. 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

BAKING INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and salt. Add the shortening and, using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut it into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the ice water and stir with a fork until the dough is moistened. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather it into a ball. Knead the dough 2 or 3 times, just until it comes together. Divide in half; flatten each piece into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°. Let the dough stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Working on a lightly floured surface, roll out one disk of dough to a 12-inch round. Transfer to a 9-inch glass pie plate. Roll out the remaining dough to an 11-inch round.
  3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, stir the blackberries with the sugar, flour and lemon juice, lightly mashing a few berries; scrape into the prepared pie crust and sprinkle the butter cubes on top.
  4. Brush the overhanging pastry with water and carefully set the top crust over the berry filling. Press the edges of the dough together and trim the overhang to 1 inch. Fold the edge under itself and crimp decoratively. Cut 4 slits in the top crust.
  5. Bake the pie in the center of the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the bottom crust is golden and the fruit is bubbling. If necessary, cover the edge with foil for the last few minutes of baking. Let the pie cool for at least 4 hours before serving.
MAKE AHEAD The baked pie can stand at room temperature overnight.

 

Easy Strawberry Shortcake

strawberryshortcake

strawberryshortcake

Strawberries
1 1/2 lbs strawberries, stemmed and quartered
3 tablespoons sugar
Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Whipped Cream
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

Directions:

Mix strawberries with 3 tablespoons sugar and refrigerate while juices develop, at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add heavy cream and mix until just combined. Place mixture in an ungreased 8-inch square pan and bake until golden, 18 to 20 minutes.

Place a metal bowl and beaters in the freezer during shortcake cooking time.

Remove shortcake from pan and place on a rack to cool slightly. Cut into 6 pieces and split each piece in half horizontally.

Mix all whipped cream ingredients in the metal bowl with metal beaters about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.

Spoon some of the strawberries with their juice onto each shortcake bottom. Top with a generous dollop of whipped cream and then the shortcake top. Spoon more strawberries over the top and serve.

Coconut Chocolate Macaroons

coconut-macaroons

coconut-macaroons

Great Macaroon recipe for Easter, or any other time of the year. You can make these ahead of time and store them for up to 2 weeks.

Ingredients:

  1. One 14-ounce bag sweetened shredded coconut
  2. One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  3. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  4. 2 large egg whites
  5. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  6. 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut with the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt until firm peaks form. Fold the beaten whites into the coconut mixture.
  2. Scoop tablespoon-size mounds of the mixture onto the baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 25 minutes, until golden; shift the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Transfer the baking sheets to racks and let the cookies cool completely.
  3. Dip the bottoms of the macaroons into the melted chocolate, letting any excess drip back into the bowl. Return the cookies to the lined baking sheets. Drizzle any remaining chocolate on top and refrigerate for about 5 minutes, until set.

 

Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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This is a easy, quick recipe for unique and gourmet cupcakes! It starts with a store bought box of strawberry cake mix and ends in beautiful couture Strawberry Champagne cupcakes. This is the perfect dessert to make the morning you find yourself with some already opened champagne left over from the night before!

Ingredients:

1 box strawberry cake mix

1 cup sparkling wine or champagne

1 block of Philadelphia cream cheese

1 stick room temperature butter (I would not recommend margarine, it does not taste the same)

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted (confectioners)

1 teaspoon red food coloring (optional)

strawberrychampagnecupcakes

Cake Instructions:

1. Prepare the cake mix as instructed, but substitue the 1 cup of champagne for the 1 cup of water that the cake mix calls for.

IMPORTANT: DO NOT use water and champagne, substitute the champagne for water.

2. Pour into cupcake molds and bake according to instructions.

For the Frosting:

1. Place the block of cream cheese in a large mixing bowl and whip until softened. Add the stick of butter and whip together until blended well.

2. Add 1 cup of sifted powdered sugar to the cream cheese mixture and whip until blended completely and frosting is smooth and fluffy.

3. Place frosting in a icing bag and use to frost cooled cupcakes. The optional food coloring is to dye the frosting pink or red, if you wish. You can top the frosting with pink sprinkles or a fresh slice of strawberry if you wish.

Toffee Chocolate Salted Brittle Squares

ToffeeChocolateBrittle

 

These sweet and salty delights are incredibly yummy! Giving friends and family home-made treats really shows love, especially around the holidays. If you’ve got the time to spare, and have some creativity, home-made treats are the way to go! A little money, makes a lot of goodies!

Ingredients:

    • 13 graham crackers
    • 1 bag (8 ounces) toffee bits
    • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped toasted natural almonds
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
    • 3/4 cup (4 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, chopped, or chocolate chips
    • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy duty foil. Place graham crackers in a single layer on sheet, edges touching. Sprinkle the toffee bits and almonds over the graham crackers.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and butter to a boil over medium-high. Reduce the heat and cook until you reach a rapid simmer, swirling the pan occasionally, until mixture is syrupy, about 2 minutes. Immediately pour over the graham cracker, toffee and almond mixture. Bake until sugar topping is bubbling, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the chocolate and salt over the graham cracker mixture. With a very sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the block into 2-inch squares. Let cool completely on the foil sheet on a wire rack. (Store in an airtight container, up to 1 week.) You can serve them on a platter, or wrap up chunks to gift to friends and family.

Brownies with Peppermint Frosting

peppermint-brownies-su-1683593-l

Brownies with a decadent creamy peppermint frosting is the perfect homemade holiday treat to make and gift to family and friends! It’s a unique treat that will help you and your loved ones get in the holiday spirit! Here’s what you’ll need: (This makes about 54 servings, so about 5 gifting portions)

Brownies

1/2 cup butter or margarine

2 squares (1 ounce size) unsweetened chocolate

1 cup sugar 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

1 square (1-ounce size) unsweetened chocolate

Peppermint Frosting

1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 cups sifted powdered sugar

2 tablespoons whipping cream

1 1/2 teaspoon peppermint flavoring

2 drops red food-coloring directions:

Instructions:

For Brownies: Melt 1/2 cup butter and 2 chocolate squares in a large saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat, and let cool 10 minutes. Add sugar and eggs, stirring well. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to chocolate mixture, stirring well. Stir in vanilla and pecans. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 13- x 9- x 2-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool brownies completely on a wire rack.

Spread with Peppermint Frosting. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and 1 chocolate square in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat, and let cool. Spoon chocolate mixture into a small heavy-duty, zip-top plastic bag or a decorating bag fitted with tip No.2; seal bag. Snip a tiny hole in one corner of zip-top bag, using scissors; pipe chocolate mixture in a decorative design over Peppermint Frosting. Cover and chill thoroughly. Cut into 2- x 1-inch bars. Store brownies in an airtight container in refrigerator. For Peppermint Frosting: Beat butter at medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add powdered sugar, beating well. Add whipping cream, flavoring, and food coloring; beat until frosting is spreading consistency.

Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake

pumpkincheesecake

Pumpkin Cheesecake is one of my all time favorite desserts, and I hate having to wait until the fall comes around to enjoy it! Don’t save this recipe just for Thanksgiving, share it all year long!

Ingredients

  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese (use the bars, not tubs, you can use regular or low fat), softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar (brown sugar is okay, but it doesn’t dissolve as well as white for this recipe)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 medium or largeeggs
  • 1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust (you can also make the crust from scratch if you choose)
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed (or I prefer to make real, fresh whipped cream using my own recipe here)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  3. Add in the eggs one at a time.
  4. Remove 1 cup of creamy batter and spread into the bottom of graham cracker crust.
  5. Add the pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to the rest of the batter in the mixing bowl and stir gently until blended together well.
  6. Carefully spread over the batter in the crust, making sure not to disturb the previous layer.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until center is almost set (you want it firm, not shaky).
  8. Allow to cool for at least an hour, then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
  9. Cover with whipped topping before serving, or if you decide to make the real whipped cream, make it as close as you can to when you’re going to serve the cheesecake so it remains firm and fresh.

 

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

chocolatecoveredstrawberries

This is as simple as gourmet chocolate covered strawberries can be made. Perfect for Valentine’s Day, or any other special occasion. They symbolize love and romance, so share them with someone special!

  • 16 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries with leaves attached

Directions

  1. Insert a toothpick into the top of each strawberry.
  2. In a double boiler (stainless steel or Pyrex bowl over a stock pot of boiling water) melt the chocolate and shortening together, stirring occasionally until smooth. Holding each strawberry by the toothpick, dip them one at a time into the chocolate mixture.
  3. Turn the strawberries upside down and insert the toothpick into styrofoam for the chocolate to cool.
  4. You can drizzle with melted white chocolate (after cooled) or any use sprinkles or other decorative sugars while they are still warm and will stick.

Irish Creme Bundt Cake

irishcreambundtcake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix (any brand)
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix (any brand)
  • 4 medium or large eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup Irish cream liqueur (Bailey’s)
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup Irish cream liqueur (will need this as well as earlier amount)
 To make the glaze: In a saucepan, combine butter, 1/4 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup Irish cream.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Sprinkle chopped nuts evenly over bottom of pan to form the top crust of the cake.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the yellow cake mix and pudding mix. Crack in the eggs, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup oil and 3/4 cup Irish cream liqueur.
  4. Beat the mixture for 5 minutes at high speed, or until the batter is mixed well. Pour batter over the nuts in pan.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes, then flip it over onto your serving dish.
  6. Poke holes into the top of the cake with a kabob skewer or fork and spoon the glaze over top and brush onto sides of cake so that it seeps into the holes. Allow to absorb glaze repeat until all glaze is used up.