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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pumpkin Chess Bars

If you want an alternative to the traditional Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving, this recipe is for you. It's a variation on the Chess Bars I've posted earlier. The taste is similar to Pumpkin Pie, but the texture is a bit firmer, and the crust is thicker, too. Paula Deen makes many variations on these "Gooey Bars," but I haven't tried the others yet. I adjusted the amount of nutmeg, but everything else is pretty much the same. They're really a pleasant change for the holidays.

Pumpkin Chess Bars

1 box yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) butter, melted

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) butter, melted
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 to 3/4 tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 9x13 baking pan.

To make the filling: In a the same bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the center is mostly set.

If desired, serve with whipped cream.

Recipe adapted from Paula Deen

Friday, November 06, 2009

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Within the last few years, I've discovered that I love cranberries. I've always liked cranberry sauce, but I've been trying more and more recipes that include the tart little fruit. This one happens to be one of my favorites, and since cranberries freeze so well, it can be enjoyed any time of the year. You may think that you can get away with using a boxed cake mix and just making the topping, but please don't yield to that temptation. The results are FAR from spectacular. Go ahead, make it from scratch. Just this once. Please? You'll be glad you did.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake


5 Tbsp. (1/3 cup) unsalted butter
2/3 cup light brown sugar
8 ounces (2 1/4 cups) fresh cranberries

Cake Batter:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350 F and place rack in the center of the oven. Butter (or spray) a 9-inch round cake pan. (I used a 9" square pan, and it worked just fine.)

Topping: Place the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Continue cooking for a few more minutes until the sugar starts to caramelize. Then remove from heat, and pour into your prepared cake pan. Sprinkle evenly with the cranberries. (Note: If you use frozen cranberries the cake will take a little longer to bake than if you are using fresh cranberries.)

Cake Batter: In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat in the vanilla extract. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture (in three additions), alternately with the milk (in two additions), ending with the dry ingredients.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar just until the whites hold a firm peak. With a large spatula gently fold the beaten egg whites into the cake batter in two additions. Pour the batter into the cake pan, smoothing the top.

Bake in preheated oven for 25-35 minutes, or until the top of the cake has browned and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan and then invert the cake onto your serving plate.

If desired, serve with softly whipped cream.

Recipe courtesy Joy of Baking