Monday 28 January 2013

Yum Yum Bars

Maybe I’m out of step with the times, but it seems like the idea of having company over is becoming a thing of the past. When was the last time you heard someone say, “I had company last night?” For me, it’s a statement as rare as “That Kardashian episode went deep” or “Wow, your muumuu is really slimming.”

So when I had the opportunity to entertain company last week, I jumped at the chance. I dusted off the tea mugs, plugged in the electric fireplace and Mother even put on a fresh housecoat. I decided to take a chance on a new caker recipe and told my guest that if she gave it the thumbs up, I’d put it on the blog.

Well, you’re reading this, so that means Yum Yum Bars were tasty as all-get-out. These squares combine melted caramel, salted nuts and chocolate. If you’re not already onboard, time to check your pulse. The only downside? Unwrapping 50 caramels. I lost two Lee Press On nails in the process.

Karen, it was a pleasure meeting you. And thanks for the company.

¾ cup butter, melted
1 package chocolate cake mix
2/3 cup evaporated milk
6-ounce package chocolate chips
1 cup nuts
50 caramels
1/3 cup evaporated milk

Mix first 3 ingredients together. Put ½ mixture in 9” x 13” pan. Bake for 6 minutes. (See note) Remove from oven and cool a little before spreading chocolate chips and nuts on top of baked mixture. Melt caramels in evaporated milk, pour over baked mixture. Put other ½ of cake mixture on top. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 350°. Do not cut right away. Better undercooked.

Source: Paterson Memorial Presbyterian Church 75th Anniversary Cookbook

Monday 21 January 2013

Lynda's Pina Colada Muffins

Good lord, cakers love muffins. Our favourite is bran (in spite of the hayish aftertaste), but we’ve also been known to indulge in a banana or carrot muffin or sometimes a “morning glory” muffin. They’re like the kitchen sink of muffins. Once, I found an eraser in one which came in pretty handy.

When I saw this recipe for not just Pina Colada Muffins, but Lynda’s Pina Colada Muffins, well, I just knew these would be special. Any caker recipe with someone's name in the title implies legendary status. Especially since it wasn’t Lynda who submitted the recipe. It was Nettie.

So imagine my disappointment when Lynda’s Pina Colada Muffins turned out gummier than grandpa. “Maybe I was supposed to drain the can of pineapple,” I thought. The recipe didn’t say either way. So I made them a second time with a drained can. Better, but still gummy. My taste testers thought they weren’t bad. “But good enough to be named after someone?” I asked. The response was a half-hearted shrug.

Linda-with-a-y, I’d like nothing more than to report your muffins were the bomb, but a caker never lies. I can only wonder – did I do something incorrectly? Or did Nettie get the recipe wrong? Maybe the good people of Cobalt, Ontario just like really damp food. In any case, I’m heading out to make love at midnight in the dunes of the cape.

½ cup white sugar
1 ½ cup flour
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup yogurt
1 teaspoon rum
1 10-ounce can crushed pineapple
½ cup coconut
¼ cup margarine
½ teaspoon salt

Measure sugar, egg, margarine, yogurt and rum. Beat until blended. Stir together dry ingredients and add to other mixture. Stir until barely blended. Add pineapple and coconut. NOTE: sour cream may be substituted for yogurt. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Yield 12 large.

Source: Cherished Recipes, Cobalt Public Library

(Thanks to Sarah for loaning it to me!)

Monday 14 January 2013

Broccoli Soufflé

Like Blanche Dubois, I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers. (I’ve sometimes depended on their money, but that’s a whole other blog post.) So when a pair of Caker Cooking readers sent me a cookbook they found at a garage sale, I was reminded of the (Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed) milk of human kindness.

I’ve mentioned before how much cakers love broccoli and this soufflé (taken from the cookbook) was a triple threat of “Hot Damn!” I’m talking Cream of Mushroom soup, broccoli and Velveeta! In fact, it was so good, it didn’t even make it as far as the kitchen table. I inhaled it at the counter.

The other day, the pair announced their engagement and that got me thinking pretty deeply. Marriage and broccoli soufflé share some similarities.

1) Both take the right mix of ingredients
2) Sometimes both are so good you can’t make it as far as the kitchen table
3) Both can leave you gassy (but it usually clears up by morning)

Now if only Mother would get off my back about the whole finding-the-right-girl thing with me. Apparently, there’s a bow-legged third cousin with an under bite that Mother feels is a good candidate, but I'm standing up to her. For once.

Paul and Bianca, congratulations. And may your soufflés always rise high.

1 bunch broccoli
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3 well-beaten eggs
½ cup butter, melted
1 medium onion, chopped
8 crushed soda crackers
¾ cup Hellman’s mayonnaise
1 cup grated Velveeta cheese

Cut up and cook broccoli until tender. Mix together soup, eggs, mayonnaise, onion, melted butter and cheese. Add ½ of crushed crackers. Add chopped broccoli and mix well. Put in casserole dish. Add remaining crackers on top. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes at 350°.

Note: I cooked it closer to 40 minutes.

Source: What’s Cooking at St. Joseph

Monday 7 January 2013

The Great Canadian Heinz Ketchup Cake

For those of you who listened to my interview on CBC’s The Next Chapter, you know that Tomato Soup Cake generated a fair amount of chatter. Cakers can't get enough of it. Maybe one day, Tomato Soup Cake will be rightfully recognized as a hallmark of Canadian cuisine, alongside harp seal pie and fiddleheads.

So imagine my shock while reading a Heinz ketchup bottle the other day (one of my New Year’s resolutions is to read more) and I saw a recipe for something called "The Great Canadian Heinz Ketchup Cake."

“Mother of mustard!” I exclaimed to my hash browns. “Them folks at Heinz are putting the squeeze on Tomato Soup Cake.” I did what any proud Canadian would do – put my muskrat hat on, danced a jig to the Irish Rovers and then canoed to the dry goods store to rustle up the ingredients.

So…was The Great Canadian Heinz Ketchup Cake better than Tomato Soup Cake?

All in all, it tasted pretty good, kind of like the offspring of carrot cake and spice cake with a special guest appearance by red velvet. But it’s a lot of work. I used, like, three bowls! Plus, I kept wanting to stick chicken fingers into it. Suffice to say, I'm happy to welcome The Great Canadian Heinz Ketchup Cake to my vinyl tablecloth-covered table, but I don’t think the folks at Campbell's have anything to worry about.

2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) cinnamon
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground ginger
1/2 cup (125 mL) Heinz Tomato Ketchup
1/2 cup (125 mL) water
2 tbsp (30 mL) red food colouring
3/4 cup (175 mL) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) packed dark brown sugar
2 eggs

(There’s a cream cheese frosting recipe on the Heinz website. I saved myself the dirty dishes and bought store-made frosting instead. I also bought TWO containers. There's nothing worse than cutting into a cake and seeing a dental floss-thick ribbon of icing in the middle.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease two 9-inch (23 cm) round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Stir the flour with the baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and ginger into a bowl. Stir the ketchup, water and colouring in a separate bowl. Set aside.
Beat the butter and blend in the sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in the eggs. Add the flour mixture and ketchup mixture. Beat on low, scraping down the bowl as needed, until combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 30 minutes or until the centre springs back when touched lightly. Cool the cakes for 15 minutes before turning onto a rack to cool completely.

UPDATE: While I thought the cake was good, a number of my taste testers thought it was GREAT. Hmm. I think I might have to do a Tomato Soup Cake vs. The Great Canadian Heinz Ketchup Cake Taste-Off. Stay tuned....