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Friday, August 19, 2011

A re-creation with mixed results

The last few years, Victor has wanted the jello poke cake as his birthday cake. I have tried a few variations, even making my own strawberry jello once (so refreshing!) but I wanted to switch it up. He agreed to a lemon cake...lemon mousse, lemon filling, so many choices! I decided to try to re-create the lemon curd cake we had from the Night Kitchen in Chestnut Hill (Philly suburb): yellow cake, lemon curd and cream cheese icing. Of course, I tried to make my own lemon curd and of course, it didn't quite work out. The curd's consistency seemed pretty good when I took it off the stove top but once it cooled, the butter separated out and become a thick lemon butter layer with a way-too-liquidy lemon juice trapped underneath. Deciding I didn't have the time or patience to try it again, I bought a jar of pre-made curd at the grocery store which I put between the layers and on top of a yellow cake. The rest of the cake was covered in a homemade cream cheese buttercream frosting which got a little droopy as you can see in the lower right of the picture above. Below is the cream cheese buttercream frosting recipe I used. Usually, if a frosting is too loose, you just add more powdered sugar, but that just wasn't helping in this case. The next time I make a cream cheese frosting, I will decrease the butter to about 5 tablespoons. If you are not going to try to pipe the frosting, this recipe will work, but if you want to do any trimming or anything, the frosting needs to be firmed up.

Overall, the cake was moist and refreshing despite it's somewhat lackluster appearance. NOTE: Due to the cream cheese and lemon curd, it's important to keep this cake refrigerated.

Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from Simply Recipes

8 oz of cream cheese
8 oz unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups of powdered sugar

Combine cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add vanilla. Slowing add in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until desired spreading consistency is reached.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Another recipe for left over bananas...

I feel like I am always dealing with leftover bananas! Once those bananas get a certain number of brown spots on them, you just know that no one is going to touch them. I found this Peanut Butter Banana Bread recipe on Cooking Light. The batter was easy enough to whip up and the bread smelled amazing while baking in the oven. The bread had a nice moist consistency with a nice balance of the banana and peanut butter...a bit dense but no more than other banana breads. Even someone like my mom, who is not the biggest peanut butter fan, would enjoy this. I opted to skip the glaze since I feel a good banana bread should be able to stand on it's own...and once you put a glaze on it, it becomes a little harder to wrap up for storage.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread
adapted from Cooking Light

2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup vanilla fat-free yogurt (original recipe calls for plain but I used what I had)
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter (I used Jif Creamy Natural)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar (granulated)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
1 1/2 cups flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice (I used Chinese Five spice since I didn't have allspice, I'm sure pumpkin pie spice would work as well)
2 tablespoons chopped dry roasted peanuts
Olive Oil cooking spray (Trader Joe's has a good one)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9x5 loaf pan with olive oil cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine first 5 ingredients and beat with mixer. Add white and brown sugar and mix until well blended.

Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl and then add dry ingredients to wet banana/yogurt/peanut butter/butter/egg mixture. Stir in nuts and then pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 60-65 minutes or until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes in pan. Remove bread from pan and allow to cool on cooling rack.