Skor Fudge Brownies

I remember the first time I made these brownies.  It was winter in Toronto.  I was newly married and baking in my little two-bedroom apartment.  The recipe looked delicious and easy, my kind of recipe.  I sprinkled the brownies with the Skor bits, baked a little more, then smeared over the chocolate, and set it aside to cool.  An hour later, the chocolate was still very warm.  Another hour later, same thing.  Finally, I’d had enough.  I mean, how long is a girl supposed to wait for a brownie?   I took real action and I put the brownies on the balcony outside, which was colder than my fridge and freezer combined, and voila, the chocolate was chilled within 15 minutes.  Perfection.

Do you have Skor bars where you live? When we’ve met a lot of our American friends they did not seem to know, but knew of the Heath bar.  I looked up some information online but couldn’t find anything definitive whether one was Canadian or American. Of course I can’t find them here in Mexico.  That is why one of the treats that I ask people to buy me is those packages of Skor bits that you get in the fun baking aisle in your Canadian grocery store.   Boy, do I miss that aisle.  It’s hard to get inspiration when the only things in the baking aisle here are the basic necessities.  When I go back to Canada, the grocery store is one of the first places I visit, and I sure do take my time.

This recipe originated from a very familiar food magazine if you’re from the province Ontario, in Canada.  If you are from Ontario, you will be very familiar with the free and beautiful magazine that the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) hands out for FREE (yes, you read that right) a few times a year.  They highlight spirits and liquors and wines and beer of course, but along with those come some of the best recipes I’ve tried.

I have made a few adjustments to this out of necessity.  I usually buy chocolate bars and chop them and use that instead of the chips.  I did some research lately about chocolate chips though: they aren’t made to melt, they are made to withstand the heat of baking, so if you’re just going to melt chocolate, it’s better to use something that likes to be melted.  Chocolate chips work fine, I just prefer dark chocolate bars.

Another thing I can’t buy here is unsweetened chocolate.  So I use cocoa and butter to substitute.  Basically,one ounce of unsweetened chocolate is 3 TAB cocoa and 1 TAB butter.  So for this recipe I’ve also done the math for you if you can’t find or don’t have unsweetened chocolate but have cocoa and butter, it’s up to you.

Also, if you can’t get Skor bits but rather only get the Skor bars, or have Heath bars, you can use about 5 chocolate bars, chopped, and reduce the chocolate to 3/4 cup.

Lastly, get it to chill quickly, or else you’ll have fingerprints of warm, smooth chocolate and brownie crumbs all over your house.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup butter, cubed
  • 6 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped OR 1 1/3 cups cocoa and 6 TAB butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 pkg Skor bits
  • 1 cup chocolate, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350.  Line the bottom and sides of a 13×9 baking pan with tin foil.

If you have unsweetened chocolate: Combine butter and chocolate in a saucepan.  Place over medium heat and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat.

If you have cocoa and butter:  Melt 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons butter in medium saucepan.  Add cocoa and stir until smooth.  Remove from heat.

Stir in sugar, then eggs, and vanilla.  Stir in flour and salt to make a smooth batter.  Pour into prepared ban and smooth.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until top is almost set.  Sprinkle Skor bits over the top and return pan to oven for another 5 minutes or so or until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs.  Place pan on a cooling rack and sprinkle with chocolate.  Let stand for about five minutes as chocolate melts.  Spread evenly.  Let cool until chocolate is set.  Remove foil from pan and cut into bars.

Adapted slightly from:  Food & Drink

Rum Raisin Ice-Cream

Anyone remember watching The Newlywed game?  Three recently married couples answer questions about each other hoping to win cash.  Questions are asked as one newlywed leaves the room and when they return, the answers must match to score points.  Couple with the highest points wins.

Ever try playing this game? It’s a lot of fun.  Especially if you’re NOT a newlywed.  You would think you’d have all the answers down pat, but somehow, there’s an awful lot you don’t know about your spouse, or events that you remember differently.  What’s also fun is watching the couples who get a little too upset if the answers don’t match.  (I’m pretty sure it’s ended up in a tense drive home, with a further quizzing of each other so they’re better prepared for next time).

My husband and I have played this a few times in our 20 years of marriage and I will admit, I think we’ve only won once.  What I did learn in it though, is that there’s always something I didn’t know or that I could learn.

One of those things is what my husband’s favorite things to eat are.  I mean, I know the main things he loves, we have been cooking and eating together for over 20 years, but once in awhile, he’ll mention something I’ve never heard before.  Probably because I’m just a terrible listener we don’t have access to those ingredients here in Mexico.  (I’m not sure what my excuse was before we moved here).  It was a few years into me making ice-cream from home that I discovered his favorite flavor was Rum Raisin.  How did I not know this previously?  Was I too busy making ice-cream for the shop and everybody else?  Poor guy.  That had to be remedied.

I am not a raisin lover but I am a fan of dark rum.  Especially since rum is sooooo cheap here.  And, I’ve discovered that alcohol in ice-cream makes it a lot creamier and easier to scoop, which is a huge bonus in home-made ice-cream.   Usually home-made ice-cream is as hard as a rock because it doesn’t have all those fancy preservatives in it to keep it scoop-able.  So here’s a tip, if you’re making a flavor that doesn’t have alcohol in it, add a little vodka: nobody will know it’s there and it’ll make the consistency more like store-bought ice-cream.

I almost never buy ice-cream any more because I enjoy making it and it’s 100 times better than anything you can buy, for half the price.  Spend the money on an ice-cream machine, trust me, you won’t regret it.  Also, I’ve shown the recipe made with a mixer, hand or stand.  To be honest though, I’m often too lazy to go two-doors over to my mom’s house and grab her stand mixer, so I just do it all by hand now.

I’ve done all the ‘cook over the stove, strain through, cool in ice-bath, refrigerate over-night’ recipes, but frankly, nobody in my house wants to wait that long.  So I stick to my basic vanilla recipe and just change the add-ins.  Also, for this recipe, my husband didn’t like how big the raisins got after soaking with the rum, so I sliced them in half, or chopped them as best as I could before adding them.  (I had to make up for all those years of neglect, after all).

So before your next social gathering where you could possible be quizzed on your spouse’s likes, do a little test run.  You’ll never know what you’ll learn!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup dark rum, divided
  • 1 cup raisins

DIRECTIONS:

In small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup rum and raisins.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for a few minutes.  Take off heat, cover, and let stand at least an hour.  Strain, but keep any extra liquid.  Slice raisins if you prefer them smaller.

Beat eggs in mixer until foamy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add sugar, beat another minute.  Turn speed down and add cream, milk, and vanilla. Add 1/2 cup dark rum and any leftover rum from raisins.  Add to ice-cream machine and churn for about 25 minutes or until it looks like soft serve.  Then add raisins and churn a few more minutes until combined.

Transfer to freezer safe container and cover.

Makes about 2 litres.

Ginger Spice cookies

If I walked into the house when I was growing up after school to the smell of fresh baked goods, the sweet treat that excited me the most was always a cookie.  Any cookie, but it had to be homemade, and imperfect, and soft and crunchy all at the same time.  We had a tiny kitchen with not a lot of storage. Some grocery items inevitably ended up finding a home in one corner of the kitchen we affectionately started calling ‘the snack corner’.  After bounding up the stairs, I would check first to see if it was just store-bought goods laying there, but most often, there was a large platter with homemade cookies, calling my name.  At times though, to my dismay, this platter was wrapped up with so much plastic wrap that it was obvious if it was tampered with, there would be trouble to pay.  You see, my mother loved to cook and bake, but was also usually making food for someone, either someone who was ill or moving or for our good friends next door or down the street.  So I knew I had to get my share of cookies before they were given away. She often threatened that she had counted how many cookies there were, but as any rebellious teenager foodie would do, I put that statement to the test and a few times got away with my double fisted cookie theft. Score!

gingercookies

I will say though, I don’t often bake cookies.  Mostly because it is one of the foods that I have no control over and cannot have them simply laying around on my counter day in and day out.  Also, when you have small children, they seem to get in the way of paying attention to cookies the way they need it.  As in, take out at eight minutes, rest for two, transfer to sheet, repeat four times.  And here in Mexico, the ovens do not regulate temperature well, so I always have a timer or two on the go so I don’t get distracted by my children-now-teenagers. To be honest, I usually end up with six cookies that are a little more crispy than the others in every batch of cookies I make.  As I rule, I give the burnt slightly darker ones to the first person who starts pestering me for cookies.  Maybe one day they’ll learn their lesson.

These ginger cookies are dreamy.  I love the flavor of ginger on a good day, but when I had crystallized ginger for the first time, I melted.  What a beautiful thing to bite into these cookies and crunch into those crystallized ginger pieces.  And these cookies crack so beautifully on the top, they are great to give as gifts.  If you can’t stop everybody from eating them, quadruple wrap them in plastic wrap and maybe they will last longer than a day

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup crystallized ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (packed) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • about 1/4 cup white sugar for rolling

DIRECTIONS:

Combine flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.  In separate bowl, beat brown sugar, shortening, and butter until fluffy, about two minutes.  Add egg and molasses and beat until blended.  Add flour mixture and mix just until blended.  Cover and refrigerate one hour.

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease baking sheet.  Pour sugar onto a large plate.  Form cookie dough into balls approximately 1 1/4 inches, then roll in sugar to coat completely.  Place cookie dough balls on prepared sheets, spacing evenly.

Baking until cracked on top but soft to the touch, about 10-12 minutes.  Cool on sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to racks and cool completely.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

adapted from: Epicurious

Natchez cookies

Natchez Cookies

Everyone should know this recipe, and everyone should make this recipe.  My mom has been making these for as long as I can remember. She originally found the recipe in Bon Appetit magazine.  For as much as the world is online, she still likes the paper copies of magazines, even though we have to wait until visitors can bring them down for us.  Even if we did find the magazine here, it would cost over $10 a copy, a little pricey for us.

This treat is perfect: crunchy, sweet, savory.  It will not disappoint, trust me.  The first few times I made it I thought “oh my it’s so messy, all that caramel melting all over the place”  But it hardens and makes the cracker oh so crunchy and sweet.  It’s truly perfect.  May not look it, but it is.

natchez2

Just be careful that the butter and sugar doesn’t separate, if you heat it too fast, it will.  They taste better if you keep them at room temperature, but being in the Mexican heat, I often put them in the fridge to make them last longer.

Watch them get gobbled up.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • Graham Crackers
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly butter an 11×17 cookie sheet.  Arrange graham crackers side by side with the edges touching.  Stir butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes.  Pour caramel mixture over graham crackers.  Sprinkle with pecans.  Bake until caramel topping bubbles and becomes deep brown in color (about 10 minutes).  Remove from oven, sprinkle chocolate chips on top.  Cool 5 minutes  Cut along graham crackers edges to separate.  Transfer to rack and cool completely.

Slightly adapted from: Epicurious

Chess Pie

Chess Pie

One of the reasons I love living here is because we have met people from all over the world over the past nine years, and some of them have become our dearest friends.  In fact, when we took our two month trip through Canada and the USA two years ago, almost all of it was spent traveling with or visiting people that we met here in Mexico.

It’s also one of the reasons I have learned what people eat in different places of the world.  In the past few years we have become friends with a couple where the husband is from Tennessee and the wife from Costa Rica.  When they last visited, we asked them if there was anything special that we could make when they came over and the husband quickly said Chess Pie.

Oh great, why did I ask, I had never heard of it!  And when someone comes with visions of the dessert of their childhood, and I make it for the first time, not knowing how it’s supposed to taste, I could shatter all of their childhood dreams.  So what did I do? I let my mom make it for them heh heh heh.  Nobody can get mad at Grandma if her pie fails.  (Of course it didn’t).

Back they came this past week, and this time his mom and step-dad came with him.  We had met her previously and man, is his mom a dynamo, with that friendly southern style I wish I had as a proper Canadian.  As we were driving out to eat one night she said, “you know, I am pretty sure I have a card that says the next time you come visit, you’ll make me Chess pie”.  I was too scared to ask for proof of such card, so I knew a Chess pie was now officially on my to-do-list.

I do remember that when we ate the Chess pie my mom made previously, it reminded me a lot of the Sugar pie’s that they make in Quebec, quite a simple pie, and very sweet.  Which actually means you can cut the pieces smaller and serve more people.  Score.

I did some research, learning the difference between Buttermilk pie, Southern pie, and Chess pie, and I’m sure there are many more.  Some days, right after I wish I was Italian, I wish I was raised in the southern USA.  Food is such a part of life in a way you don’t find in other areas, and I love it.  I’ve not spent enough time in the true American south, it’s on my to-do-travel-list.

I took my trusty pie-crust recipe and combined the ingredients for the pie filling, which, by the way, couldn’t be any easier or faster.   I was told a true Chess pie has cornmeal as the thickener, that’s how I knew I had an authentic version.  It was easy as pie (sorry, couldn’t help myself) to make, and, most importantly, Momma Tennessee declared it a hit at our BBQ feast.

You can add some whipped cream to this, or try one of my ice-cream recipes on the side like an Irish cream flavor or perhaps Chocolate Raspberry or later this week I will have a rum and raisin recipe to try.

Here’s to not shattering childhood memories and making a southern Momma happy for one night.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 No-Fail Pie Crust
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 TAB cornmeal
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten

DIRECTIONS:

Combine all ingredients except crust into a bowl, whisk well.  Roll pastry into pie pan and pinch the sides.  Pour liquid into crust.  Bake in a pre-heated 325 oven for 45-50 minutes or until set.  Let cool on rack .

Chicken Pot Pie

No-Fail Pie Crust

I made cakes and cheesecakes for yeeeeears before attempting pie crust.  It frightened me so. It was the opposite of me: precise, tidy, exact.  The mom of a good friend of mine (who actually became my cousin’s wife) used to make pies by the dozens.  So, I asked her for some tips.

She told me to take a day and dedicate it to learning.  It was Autumn in Ontario, so she recommended that I get a bushel of apples and then I would just have to use them.  “Make sure your utensils are cold and dry.  Don’t touch the pastry, it doesn’t like the warmth of your hands.  And don’t be sad when the first few you try fail miserably.” She provided tip after tip after tip.

So I did as I was told.  I brought my apples home and there they sat, taunting me.  “Don’t waste us”! they screamed.  I started early in the day and boy oh boy did those first few fail miserably.  As I tossed at least three crusts out, I began to lose heart.  Then I was reminded of the words of my pie-making mom friend: “don’t give up, you’ll find your groove”.  Sigh.  I soldiered on.

Eventually, I got the feel for it.  I discovered that I like using those dollar store plastic cutting boards.  It makes it super easy to get the crust from the counter to the dish.  (I need to be adding some pictures in to help, I promise the next time I make I’ll take pictures just of crust making, next week is pie week!)

If I have too much overhang, I cut around the outside edges to make it more even, more or less a half inch over.  That makes the crust more uniform which means there are no dry, overcooked spots; every bite is delectable.

After a day of staying at home and making crust after crust, I had made 11 apple pies!  Off they went into the freezer.  What a great feeling that was!

While I have changed pie crust recipes a few times over the years, this is now the one that I use without fail, sweet or savory.  It won’t disappoint.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cups ice water

DIRECTIONS:

Mix flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl and whisk to combine.  Add shortening and butter and cut in with a pastry cutter.  Cut in fats until the mixture looks the size of peas.  Add ice water and combine only enough to moisten the dough and have it come together.  Turn onto floured surface and knead quickly into a ball.  Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Can be frozen up to 3 months.

Makes 2 pie crusts.

Glazed Donuts

Glazed Doughnuts

Ahhhhh the mighty doughnut.  Who doesn’t love them growing up? After graduating from the main toddler choice, the sprinkle doughnut, I always went for the Boston Cream, my dad the apple fritter, and my mom, well anything that looked new and interesting.

These days I’m not much of a doughnut eater.  But a few years ago we did a trip from the middle of Canada through the Rocky Mountains, down the coast from British Columbia, through Washington, Oregon, and California.  It was glorious, and so was all the food along the way.

When we spent a day in Portland, I had heard of Blue Star Donuts and knew I needed to try.  I heard they ran out quickly, so we arrived early (well, 10:00 a.m.) and waited in line outside.  As I watched through the window, I saw them run out of certain flavors and take trays away.  This is probably the worst thing they could do.  At least blacken the windows so we can’t see what we missed by just two people!!!

We finally reached the cash and ordered one of whatever looked fantastic and cut them into four.  Ug.  I had never had doughnuts like that before.  I am getting absolutely nothing for saying this, but please go there if you are in the Portland area.

The only reason I am mentioning it is I guess I DO like doughnuts, if they’re done well.  So for National Doughnut Day, where should I go to for a fail-proof recipe?

The Pioneer Woman.  I am not even going to post my own version of the recipe because there isn’t one.  I copied hers exactly.  Read the entire post if you are attempting doughnuts, she has a ton of tips that you need to make sure you do.

The Pioneer Woman’s Homemade Glazed Doughnuts

donuts2

I did dip mine in different glazes, which were basically icing sugar mixed with milk; for the chocolate one I added cocoa, I even did a pumpkin spice glaze, and I found those adorable crushed peppermints at the store and sprinkled those on just for me.

Follow the link and try them.  You won’t be disappointed.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie

For many years, we had a friend here who helped us in home-schooling our children.  She is one of those ‘can do everything girls’.  Want your hair cut? She’ll bring the scissors over.  Need some electrical done? Let her grab her tools, she’ll rewire your house for you if you let her.  But wait, she needs to finish teaching the children how to conjugate these verbs and calculate that algebra first.

One day, after our lunch break, I was tidying the dishes.  I turned around to see her finishing off whatever lunch one of my kids had not.  That was the day I realized she was ‘one of us’.

I always saved her leftovers (or perhaps made extra and pretended they were leftovers so she wouldn’t fight me every time), baked her treats, and kept her as happy as I could food-wise because a happy belly is a happy teacher/hairdresser/electrician. She lived here with her sister, and back home in Alberta, lived her parents who she adored, and to make it even harder, her mom, who could bake anybody under the table.

The first time her parents came to visit, I wanted to meet these people who raised this awesome girl.  But then I got nervous, I was having a baker over. I’m not a baker!!! I asked what mom’s favorite dessert was and I was told one of them is Banana Cream Pie.  Okay, THAT I could handle.

But I didn’t want to serve her the usual Banana cream pie, I had to change it up a bit. So I took what I knew about cream pies and added chocolate and peanut butter and it didn’t disappoint  More importantly, it seemed Momma Baker liked it.  Whew.  Awesome home baker pleased.  Score.

bananacreamwholeyes

If you don’t like chocolate peanut butter combination (why on earth wouldn’t you?), just melt some chocolate instead.  You can even mess around with the ratio of chocolate to peanut butter if you like one flavor stronger than another.  You could even separate the layers (chocolate – chill, then peanut butter – chill) but it’s an extra step, although it does look pretty.

And if you need a hairdresser, electrician, or math tutor, I know just the girl.

INGREDIENTS:

CRUST:

  • 24 oreos, crushed in food processor
  • 2 TAB sugar
  • 1/2 stick (4 TAB) butter, melted

CHOCOLATE/PEANUT BUTTER LAYER:

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or dark chocolate
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter

BANANA CREAM:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 TAB cold unsalted butter
  • 3 ripe bananas

WHIPPED CREAM LAYER:

  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

Crust: Crush oreos in a food processor or with rolling pin in a ziploc bag.  Pour into a medium bowl.  Add sugar, salt, and melted butter and combine until moist.  Spoon mixture into a 9 inch pie pan and press onto bottom and up sides.  Put pan into freezer while you preheat the oven.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool.

Pie: In a medium saucepan, melt together peanut butter and chocolate over low heat.  Pour over cooled crust.  Cover and refrigerate.

Cream filling: Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a bowl.  Add egg yolks and whisk until smooth.  In a medium saucepan, bring milk to a simmer over medium heat.  Add 1/2 cup of the milk into the yolk mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly.  Pour mixture into the saucepan with hot milk and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture begins to bubble and is very thick, about 5-6 minutes.

Pour milk mixture through a fine-sieve into a bowl.  Add butter and stir until melted.  Cover this mixture with plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate for at least two hours.  Then, remove cream filling from fridge.  Add freshly sliced bananas and pour into pie shell.

Topping: Beat together whipped cream, icing sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form.  Spread whipped cream filling over filling.

Keep refrigerated until serving.

 

 

Pumpkin Cream-Cheese Bread

Some of my recipes have stories that go with it.  This one doesn’t really.  Except that once I made it for one of my friends who doesn’t usually oooh and ahhh over food, but when she tried this simply said: I love this. Make it for me again and again.

Okay.  I will.

This recipe is a lot like other loaf bread recipes, except that seasonal pumpkin makes it sooooo moist.  And the cream-cheese mixture is a sweet little surprise inside.  And the bonus? This recipe makes two loaves: one to gobble up immediately, and one for tomorrow’s breakfast.  It also freezes really well.

INGREDIENTS:

FILLING:

  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 TAB four
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

BREAD:

  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH cinnamon, cloves, salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon EACH ginger, nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (or sub sugar-free, plain yogurt)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

CINNAMON GLAZE:

  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1 1/2 TAB half and half
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, flour, egg, and vanilla.  Beat until smooth and creamy.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, blend flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg, set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin puree, canola oil (or yogurt), eggs, and sugar.  Beat well.  Stir the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture just until combined.  Fold in the chopped pecans or walnuts.

Pour half of the pumpkin bread batter evenly into two greased and floured loaf pans.  Spoon cream cheese mixture on top of the pumpkin batter layers in each loaf pan and then spoon or pour on the remaining pumpkin batter (if you don’t have enough pumpkin batter to cover the cream cheese layer entirely, that’s okay, because you’ll be swirling them together anyway). Take a knife and swirl around in the top two layers, creating a marbling effect.

Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the loaf comes out clean.  Cool bread in pans for ten minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

In the meantime, make your glaze.  Whisk together icing sugar, cinnamon, and half and half until smooth.  Drizzle over cooled loaves.

 

Irish Cream Fudge Ice-Cream

I love making ice-cream.  I love offering ice-cream to people when they come over. This is inevitably what happens.

“We have ice-cream if anyone is interested.”  No response. “We have … (insert recently made ice-cream flavor here).”  More silence.  Then, “ummmm did you make that? Because you can’t buy that here.”  “Well yes I did make it.”  “Then yes, thank you, I will have some ice-cream.”

We do have a limited variety of flavors of the most famous ice-cream companies, but they cost an arm and a leg, even more if you’re walking down 5th avenue and are interested in a scoop only.

Because it’s hot here ALWAYS, ice-cream has become my go-to sweet to have around.  It’s easy to make, there are so many flavors to choose from, it can always be ready from the freezer, and it’s better than anything you can buy in the stores.  Oh, and it’s refreshing.

I think I’ll start putting alcohol in all my ice-cream.  Because as anyone who has made their own ice-cream knows, without preservatives, sometimes the home-made ice-cream is as hard as a rock and really hard to scoop. But even a tiny bit of alcohol keeps it from reaching that point, and it’s always easier to scoop and prettier to look at.

This ice-cream is the same base that I always use, only with the additions of Irish Cream and, well, a chocolate fudge swirl, just because.  It’s is creamy and divine.

Don’t have an ice cream maker? There are a lot of no-churn recipes out there, but I have a simple Cuisinart ice-cream maker that I’ve been using for a few years now.  They aren’t too expensive and worth every penny.  Trust me.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Irish Cream (depending on how strong you want it)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream

DIRECTIONS:

Beat 3 eggs in a medium sized bowl for a few minutes or until frothy.  Add sugar and beat for another minute.  Add whipping cream, milk, Irish Cream, and vanilla and combine well.  Pour into ice-cream machine as directed and churn until thickened.

While ice-cream is churning, heat 1/4 cup whipping cream in microwave or on stove.  Pour over chocolate chips and let sit for a few minutes before whisking until smooth.  Let cool.

When ice-cream is finished, pour into two separate loaf pans.  Drizzle chocolate mixture on top, and use butter knife to swirl within ice-cream.

Cover with plastic wrap and freeze 8 hours or overnight.