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Caramel Apple Cream Cheese Crackle Cake (or Pie?)


Do you like cake?  Do you like pie?  I like both, and if you do too then you’ll like this cake (or pie – or whatever you want to call it).  I’ve had the idea for this cake (I’m calling it a cake) for a few months now, but only just got around to making it last week.  It turned out slightly different than I had imagined it would, and in the end the line between cake and pie was slightly blurred.  It’s tall like a cake, but has a crust like a pie, and is super ooey gooey inside!


I’ve been on a bit of a caramel apple kick lately which is kinda weird because I usually only think about caramel apple combinations in the fall, and it’s practically Easter! 

I whipped up my latest creation imagining the end result as something slightly different than what it actually turned out to be like, but needless to say I was pretty pleased with the results.  

My cake has a solid crunchy cookie type crust on the bottom and has a layer of cinnamon apples and then a creamy gooey dulce de leche caramel filling. Yum!  But beware!  This cake is sweet.  It’s super duper sweet, so don’t cut your slices too big. 


Caramel Apple Cream Cheese Crackle Cake


Cookie Crust

2 Cups (250g) Flour 
1 1/2 (335g) Cups Sugar 
2 tsp Baking Powder 
1 tsp cinnamon 
1/4 tsp salt 
1 egg 
1/2 Cup (114g) Butter, melted 
2 Tbs Milk  

1.  Grease a 9 inch round Spring Form pan.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.  Next, add in the egg, melted butter, and milk. Using a spoon or an electric fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the ingredients together until it forms a dough.  

2.  Press the dough evenly in the bottom of the Spring Form pan, and set aside.  



Apple Layer 

4 Cups Apples, sliced
1 Cup (225g) sugar 
7oz (200ml) Water 
3 – 4 Tbsp Corn Startch 
1 tsp Cinnamon 
1/4 tsp Nutmeg 
1/4 tsp Salt  

1.  Combine the water sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in a large heavy pot, and and bring to a boil.  Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly – the sauce should become slightly thickened.  Add in the apples, cover and simmer until apples are tender, about 5 minutes. Cool and set aside.   



Dulce de Leche Caramel Layer 

8 oz (225g) Cream Cheese, softened 
1 cup (250ml) Dulce de Leche 
3 Eggs 
1/2 Cup (114g) Butter, melted 
3.5 Cups (450g) Icing Sugar  

1.  Preheat oven to 350ºF (175ºC).  In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and Dulce de Leche together until smooth.  Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter and beat together.   

2.  To assemble the cake, layer the apples on top of the cookie base so that it’s completely covered.  

3.  Gently spoon the dulce de leche mixture over the top of the apples until you’ve used all of the mixture.  *If you pour the mixture directly from the bowl onto the apples the pressure of the mixture may shift your apples all over the place so they’re no longer evenly covering the crust.  Bake the cake uncovered for about 45 mins, or until it starts to brown, then cover with foil and bake for an additional 30 – 45 minutes or until the center is slightly giggly, but not runny.  Once done, cool in the fridge overnight before serving.


So what do you think? Is this a cake?  Or a pie?

Fruity Banana & Pineapple Muffins by The Pink Whisk

It’s been an embarrassingly long time since I’ve last posted, and I really hope it doesn’t happen again, but life since Jayden arrived has been rather hectic, and I’ve been trying to catch up on my deeply missed sleep in any spare time I’ve had.  I am rather proud to say that I managed to make a lone batch of brownies in one of the few spare moments I’ve had since Jayden’s been born.  Sadly I must admit that they came from a box, but their gooey and chocolatey goodness helped get me through some sleepless nights!

I’ve had the guest post below nearly ready to go for some time now, but just haven’t been able to finalise it and add in the pictures went along with it.  This guest post comes from the amazing Ruth Clemens, who many of you will know was the runner up on the first season of the hit UK TV series “The Great British Bake Off” which I throughly enjoyed watching (season 2 is airing now by the way).  I’d been following Ruth’s blog “The Pink Whisk” even before I knew she was going to be on The Great British Bake Off, and have enjoyed drooling over her amazing creations.  Ruth has been kind enough to put together a guest post for you all, while I try and get back into a routine and finish some of my own posts.  

Ruth has made some delicious fruity muffins with a tropical twist – perfect to go with the fabulous 27ºC weather we’ve been having in London over the past week!  So, if you’re in the mood for muffins, please do give Ruth’s recipe below a try!



Fruity Banana & Pineapple Muffin by The Pink Whisk
Summer holidays are over, the children (and grown ups) are back to the old routine.  My thoughts turn to livening up the kids packed lunches without overloading them with sugary bits and pieces. This is a really simple muffin recipe packed full of fruity goodness guaranteed to put a smile on their face at lunchtime!
Makes 12.
Ingredients:
225g (1 3/4 Cup + 2 Tbsp) Wholemeal self-raising flour
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
½ tsp Bicarbonate of Soda (baking soda)
180g (3/4 Cup + 3 Tbsp) Soft Light Brown Sugar
2 Ripe Medium Bananas, mashed
1 Tin (425g or 15oz) Pineapple Chunks, drained
90ml (6 Tbsp) Sunflower Oil
2 Large Eggs
Optional: 1 tsp Icing Sugar for sifting.

Method:
1.  Preheat oven to 160c (fan)/180c/Gas Mark 4 (350ºF). Line a 12 hole muffin pan with paper liners.

2.  In a large bowl mix together the wholemeal flour, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and light brown sugar.

3.  Mash the bananas and drain the pineapple. Make a well in the centre of  dry mixture and add the fruits, sunflower oil and eggs. Mix well until thoroughly combined.




4.  Divide the mixture between the paper liners and bake in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. 




5.  Optional – Dust with a little icing sugar and serve.



Sticky Caramel Apples

I don’t know when the last time I had a caramel apple was.  A rough guess would probably be over 20 years ago, but for some reason I really got the urge to make a batch this year.  Halloween is quickly approaching which signals the start of the holiday season for me.  It also means that I get to look back on nearly 30 years of Canadian holiday traditions – most of which I don’t get to see here in the UK.

Halloween is a relatively new thing over here, and it’s for kids only.  No crazy adult parties with everyone decked out in costumes, no one really carves a pumpkin or decorates their yards to look like graveyards, and worst of all there are no traditional home baked Halloween treats!  Kids are just beginning to trick or treat which means that the adults who own the doors these kids are knocking on probably aren’t aware that Halloween is making it’s way “across the pond.” 
Over the next few months my blog will be filled with traditional Holiday treats, including some UK ones I’ve grown to love since moving here 2 years ago.  

Anyway, back to the apples!  For North Americans (more for Americans I’d say) caramel apples are a pretty traditional snack around Halloween.  They come in every size and flavour imaginable, and have become pretty trendy lately with specialty stores selling nothing but gourmet caramel apples covered in everything from drizzled chocolate to crushed oreos and gummy bears.  I decided to keep it simple and used finely crushed oreo crumbs and some cute milk and white chocolate stars.

 

Making caramel apples is fairly easy, all you’ll need is some caramels, a small amount of heavy cream, candy to decorate and of course some apples! 

I’m not sure if they sell chewy caramels like this in the UK.  I’ve never seen them, but to be honest I’ve never looked.  I have a feeling that Werther’s Original Chewy Toffee pieces would probably work though.  I bought my bag of Caramels way back in August when I went back to Canada – yeah, they were already selling Halloween candy back then! 

Try using different sizes of apples. I found some cute mini ones that would be good for kids. The one in the middle formed some bubbles in the caramel that look like creepy warts :-s

Caramel Apples

6 apples – I prefer tart ones like Granny Smiths
14oz (400g) chewy caramel pieces
2 Tbsp (30ml) heavy cream
6 popsicle sticks 

1. Start up by inserting a popsicle stick into each apple, and then place them in the freezer for 15 minutes (this helps the caramel set). 

2.  In large glass measuring cup, melt your caramel pieces in the microwave together with the heavy cream, and stir until smooth.  Try melting the caramels for 1 minute, and then 30 second intervals after that.   

3. Take your apples out of the freezer and dip them into the melted caramel using the popsicle stick as a handle.  Start by plunging each apple directly into the caramel, rotating it with the stick to help coat the apple evenly.   

4. Once covered, pull the apple out of the caramel and let the excess drip off.  If you’d like to put any “toppings” on your apple, now’s the time to do it.  Immediately after I take the apple out of the caramel I place it in the oreo crumbs and let it set.  The caramel will set quite quickly if you’re apples are cold, so you’ll also have to work quickly!  Make sure you set your apples on some kind of non stick surface like a greased plastic lid or a silicone baking mat so they don’t stick! That’s pretty much it!

You can eat these apples off the stick, but I prefer to cut mine up into sections and share it with someone else.  I find that they’re quite filling and there’s a lot of chewing involved, so I couldn’t eat a whole one.

Cherry Almond Clafoutis


Ahhh cherry clafoutis…..  Sigh.  Why have I not made you before?  This post is somewhat embarrassing to write.  I’ve been wanting to make a cherry clafoutis for years. Literally.  I’d seen them time and time again on foodie sites like Food Gawker and Taste Spotting, and always thought they looked so good.  I don’t know what on earth took me so long to make one, but it probably had a lot to do with the fact that I’d have to pit a gazillion cherries.  Plus, I was under the impression they were extremely time consuming and difficult to make.  My bad.  They’re super easy.  In fact, it’s probably one of the easiest things I’ve made in ages.  I think I’ll make this my default dessert for when company comes around.   

Like I mentioned before, part of what was really holding me back from making a cherry clafoutis was pitting all those cherries.  I’d been buying cherries all summer for Jayden and I to eat.  I was pitting them in a couple of different ways – by scoring an “x” on the top and bottom with a knife, and then pushing out the pit with a straw or chopstick, or by simply cutting them in half and picking the pits out with my fingers which was horribly messy and forced me to get my hands dirty.  I hate getting my hands dirty.   

Just when I thought I was going to have to resort to trying out another DIY cherry pitter method (there’s a bunch of suggestions here on my Pinterest board), I was contacted by the folks over at OXO Good Grips to see if I’d like to try out their new version.  So thank goodness for my new OXO Cherry pitter which made the whole pitting process quick and easy.


The cherry pitter made doing the job so much easier!  And I was really impressed with how well it was designed – there’s a little switch at the back that locks the pitter into a closed position so that the spikey bit doesn’t get caught on everything in my gadget drawer.  It’s also got a splash guard on it, which I think should be essential on every cherry pitter no matter what brand it is.  The splash guard was amazing and confined all the splatter and mess  which meant that my Julia Child recipe book I had sitting near by was spared from any straying cherry juice.  And rather than taking 20 minutes to pit all the cherries, it only took about 2 minutes. 

Splat!

Even though I’d been wanting to make a cherry clafoutis for ages, I’d never really settled on a recipe.  Sure all the clafoutis photos on Food Gawker and Taste Spotting looked delicious and I’d probably “favourited” about 50 different pictures, but I couldn’t decide on which recipe I should try.  So, I went back to basics and decided to go with Julia.  You really can’t go wrong with a Julia Child recipe can you?  


I had done a tiny bit of research on cherry clafoutis before I made mine, and the one thing that stood out was that the really authentic French recipes told you NOT to pit your cherries.  Why?  Because supposedly once baked, the cherry pits release a subtle almond flavour that gives the clafoutis a really nice flavour.  I opted to pit my cherries, and then add a bit of almond extract to compensate.  The result was absolutely delicious.  The almond flavouring really complemented the sweet juicy cherries and syrupy clafoutis.  I was amazed.  Why on earth had I not made this before?  It’s seriously easy to make.  Pit your cherries, throw the rest of the ingredients a blender for a couple minutes, pour and bake.  That’s pretty much it.


Cherry Almond Clafoutis
(Slightly adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking)

Ingredients:

1 1/4 Cups (295ml) milk 
2/3 Cup (150g) Sugar, divided 
3 eggs 
1Tbsp Vanilla Extract 
1/4 tsp Almond Extract
1/8 tsp salt 
2/3 Cup (83) Flour 
Butter for greasing 
3 Cups Pitted Cherries
Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Instructions:

1.  Preheat your oven to 350ºF (175ºC), and lightly butter a 7- to 8-cup baking dish or pie plate. Wash and pit your cherries.  Set aside.

2. Place milk, 1/3 cup (75g) sugar, eggs, vanilla, almond extract, salt, and flour in a blender and blend at high speed for 1 minute.  Pour a 1/4-inch layer of batter into the greased baking dish. Place the dish in the hot oven for about 7-10 minutes until a film of batter has set in the bottom of the dish. Remove from heat.  

3.  Place the cherries evenly over the batter and sprinkle the remaining sugar over top. Slowly pour the rest of the batter over the cherries and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon if needed.  Place the dish in the middle of the oven and bake for about 45 – 60 minutes until done. The clafouti is done when it has puffed with a golden brown top, and when a toothpick or knife is inserted into its center and comes out clean.

Let the clafoutis cool slightly (about 5-10 minutes) before sprinkling top with powdered sugar just before serving.  


The clafoutis is best served warm, but I’ll admit to eating a left over slice straight out of the fridge and it being equally delicious as it was warm.

I realise that cherry season is nearing an end, but if you can get your hands on some I would definitely suggest making this dessert.  I plan on making it once more before all the cherries have completely disappeared from my local supermarket.  But if you’re too late you can also substitute the cherries for pretty much any other fruit such as pears, plums, apples etc and make a different version of clafoutis.

With thanks to OXO Good Grips for the cherry pitter, which will now double as an olive pitter during the winter months!

Gourmet S’mores

The weather here in the UK has been positively dismal.  Having just returned to soggy ol’ England from holiday in Toronto where the weather was 38°C (100°F) has only reinforced the fact that our summer so far has been absolutely crappy. 
It was so nice to get away and spend some time in a tropical climate – even if it was on the beaches and streets of Toronto, and not the Caribbean.  No visit back home to Canada is complete without some serious food (ingredient) shopping.  I always return to the UK with a suitcase full of North American treats that are hard to find in UK stores.  I made numerous visits to a fantastic bulk food shop where I stocked up on sprinkles and candy melts –  almost an entire carry on suitcase full!  I also visited Golda’s Kitchen – the most amazing cake supply store, thanks to a recommendation from Jodie Whitley via the Made With Pink Facebook page (I’ll be posting pictures of the cake shop and my holiday purchase on my facebook page shortly!)
A few days before I left on holiday I decided to perk myself up and get into the summer spirit by making some gourmet s’mores (sans campfire) using some of the ingredients I’d picked up from my previous holiday to the States. 
I’d had a few bags of speciality marshmallows and a couple boxes of graham crackers sitting on my baking shelf for the past few months,  I’d always intended to use them for gourmet s’mores, but I just never got around to it until now.  Plus I needed to make room for my new impending purchases!


I made four different s’more combinations:
Pina Colada:  Original graham crackers sandwiched together with white chocolate, pineapple & toasted coconut marshmallows, and a slice of freshly grilled pineapple. 
Chocolate Mint:  Chocolate graham crackers sandwiched together with mint chocolate marshmallows and dark mint chocolate.

Peanut Butter Cup:  Chocolate graham crackers sandwiched together with flat vanilla marshmallows and a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.


Salted Caramel:  Chocolate graham crackers sandwiched together with caramel flavoured chocolate callets, flat vanilla marshmallows and a spoon full french salted butter caramel (not pictured).


Don’t think you can’t make these if you don’t live in the US, or don’t have the graham crackers or fancy marshmallows.  I’ve seen toasted coconut marshmallows in the UK before in several stores, and most recently I’ve been able to find them in the South African grocery stores near my home.  Regular marshmallows will work just as well in all of these s’mores, but my tip is to cut them in half so they lay flat instead of standing tall like they normally would.  All of the chocolate I used is from the UK, and is available in any major grocery store with the exception of the caramel callets which were a gift from my March Foodie Penpal who bought them in a local shop in Manchester.  If you don’t have the caramel callets or the salted butter caramel, then you can use the new flat Rolo chocolate bars that have just been launched for sale in the UK. 

As for the graham crackers, you can make your own at home by following the recipe here that I used to make my mini s’more pops a couple of years ago.
To make the s’mores you’ll need the above ingredients and an oven.  If the UK weather ever gets better then you can make them the way they were originally intended – with a camp fire.  But until then you’ll need to pre-heat your oven to 200°C (400°F).  


Assemble your s’mores together and wrap them in a square of aluminum foil (this will ensure your chocolate and marshmallow don’t melt and ooze out the sides of your graham crackers and into the oven.)  Place them in the hot oven for 3-5 minutes before removing.  Carefully unwrap each s’more and enjoy – just make sure you don’t burn yourself on the hot gooey marshmallow and chocolate!

I think that the salted caramel s’mores were my favourite out of the bunch.  They were so so soooo good, but also very rich.  I couldn’t have eaten more than one.  I also really liked the Pina Colada ones, they were so different from any other s’more I’d made.  I only got to try a small bite of the chocolate mint s’more before my husband gobbled it up.  As for the Reese’s s’more, while it was good, it wasn’t my favourite.  I’d still prefer to eat the Reese’s cup by it self.

What other unique flavours of s’mores have you made?  Do you have any other suggestions for me??