VISIONS OF SUGAR PLUM

Wanderlust Pig Blog

on
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Hey everyone!  Just wanted to pop in, say hi (y'all are looking fabulous, by the way!), and tell you that I have a new blog called Wanderlustpig.  I would love for you to stop by sometime and say hi!  You can find it at www.wanderlustpig.com

Salted Butter Chocolate Chunk Shortbread

on
Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Oh hello! I hope everyone is doing well and had the best holiday season!  I've been getting back into the swing of things and enjoying that sweet Missouri life again.  I'm looking forward to Valentine's Day next week, are you all? I know it's kind of a cheesy, commercialized holiday, but I've always enjoyed it.  It's fun, and it's nice to be able to celebrate all of your loved ones.

You could give your loved one a box of chocolates, or you could give them a box of this buttery, delicious chocolate chunk shortbread.  I know you've see this recipe a million times, it pretty much broke the internet; it's been featured on many Instagrams, blogs and food websites.  It's Alison Roman's Salted Butter Chocolate Chunk Shortbread recipe.


While I disagree and don't think this should ever replace your traditional chocolate chip cookie, I do think it's extremely delicious and would absolutely make this recipe again.  It was simple to make, too.  You just whip up some salted butter, granulated sugar, a touch of brown sugar, vanilla, flour, and chopped dark chocolate.  I took it a step further and used SALTED dark chocolate, oh yes I did.  The dough is rolled into logs then rolled in coarse sugar.  The cookie logs get chilled down, sliced, brushed with egg wash, then sprinkled with coarse sea salt.  I didn't have any of that good flaky salt, so I sprinkled mine with ground sea salt.  Still very good! 

Here's the link to the recipe for you again.


Cranberry Pecan Pumpkin Bread

on
Thursday, November 2, 2017

October came and went didn't it?  I think that's the fastest a month has ever gone by in my lifetime.  It might have to do with the fact that I packed up my entire life and moved back to Missouri (from North Carolina) in three weeks.  So it was just a tad busy, but I did manage to bake this loaf of Cranberry Pecan Pumpkin Bread, along with a batch of Browned Butter Toasted Pecan Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies, which were pretty good, but I feel like nobody really needs that recipe.  Or this one, to be honest.  There's a million pumpkin bread recipes out there and it's not like you need another one.  I guess me posting this recipe is my way of popping in to say hellooooo and I'm still kickin'.  I hope everyone out there is doing well and having a great fall. 


I'm looking forward to spending this autumn and upcoming holiday season with my family... it'll be nice to be so close to home for a while.  Oh and I can't wait to start baking again! 

Oh gosh, I had another thought the other day; October 2017 marked my tenth year of blogging!  I mean, if you can still call it that.  I barely blog.  But technically... ten years of blogging whoooooo hoooooo.  That's a long time.  That means this blog is ancient in blog years.  Maybe I'll get a second wind and revamp it (I've been saying that for a while).  In the meantime you can catch me on Wanderlust Pig where I eat allll of the delicious things.  

This pumpkin bread was delicious, if you do happen to make it.  I hate the silicon loaf pan that I have; it always bakes such a squatty loaf.  I'm glad I left it behind in North Carolina.  Time for a new loaf pan!  I spread buffalo milk butter on top of this bread, which was pretty good.  Thanks, Trader Joe's.


Cranberry Pecan Pumpkin Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 can of pumpkin puree
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.  In a large mixing bowl, using a mixer on medium speed, beat together butter and brown sugar until creamy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla until well combined.  Beat in pumpkin until well combined.  Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in dry ingredients until just combined.  Stir in pecans and cranberries until just combined.

Spread batter into prepared pan.  Bake 50-55 minutes or until well risen and a toothpick inserted into bread comes out with moist crumbs attached.

Makes 1 loaf

Apple Pie with Sharp Cheddar Crust

on
Thursday, September 7, 2017


An apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze, or so the saying goes.  I've never had a slice of apple pie with sharp cheddar, but I'm definitely not opposed to it.  I mean, it makes sense... buttery flaky crust, sweet and spicy apples paired with a slice of salty creamy cheese?  I can get behind it.  But do you place the cheese on top, or is it eaten on the side?  Is it sliced or shredded?  Would it be wrong to try Gouda instead of cheddar?  So many questions.... definitely overthinking this cheese and apple pie thing.  I've only eaten apple pie a la mode with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream, which is kind of hard to beat.

But now I can get my ice cream AND cheese with this apple pie I baked.  Yayyy calcium!

Let's postpone all of the pumpkin desserts for now... there's plenty of time for that; we have three more months, people.  We should enjoy apple season while we can and September is a great month for apples.  I used Ginger Gold apples in this pie, but use whatever you'd like, as long as they're somewhat tart and can hold up to baking.  The filling is traditional - sugar, more sugar, spices, good vanilla.  The crust is the star of this pie because it has finely shredded sharp cheddar in it.  I think it turned out well, and not toooo cheesy.  Serve avec glace à la vanille! C'est délicieux!


Apple Pie with Sharp Cheddar Crust

Pastry Crust
2 1/4 cups all purpose-flour
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided use
14 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
6 tablespoons ice water

Filling
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 lbs. peeled granny smith apples, cored, thinly sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Egg wash

To make the pastry, in a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt.  Cut in cold butter until well incorporated and dough forms pea-sized lumps.  Stir in cheese.  Stir in ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until dough starts to come together.  Form two balls of dough and shape into discs.  Cover in plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes.

To make the filling, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; stir in apple, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, ginger, clove, and nutmeg until well combined.  Stir and cook apples until softened, and sugary syrup starts to thicken - about 10-15 minutes.  Place apples in a large bowl, stir in vanilla, and refrigerate until room temperature.

Roll out one pie dough disc onto a lightly floured surface, into a 9-inch thin round; transfer to the bottom of a pie dish.  Place cooked apples into the center.  Roll out additional pie dough round and place on top; pinch edges to seal.  Cut a few slits into the center of the pie.  Brush lightly with egg wash, if desired, for a shinier crust.  Sprinkle with additional 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt.  Chill in refrigerator until oven is preheated.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Bake pie for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly.  Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.

Makes 9 servings

Moon Pie Brownies

on
Saturday, August 5, 2017
Every once in a blue moon(pie) I get a serious craving for brownies.  Sometimes I can satisfy it with a scoop of Ben & Jerry's Half Baked, but sometimes I have to go all out and bake a batch of homemade brownies.  This was the case the other day.

Rarely do I ever bake a plain old brownie; I usually have to add a different flavor or ingredient to make them unique.  While shopping for brownie ingredients, I noticed our Aldi in Raleigh sells mini MoonPies.  I'm not sure if all Aldis sell them, or if it's just because we're in the South.  I thought to myself, you know, I don't think I've ever eaten a MoonPie in my life, and that needs to change.  I simply cannot go another day without this Southern treat.  If only I had an RC cola to pair with it (a traditional accompaniment),


Just in case you've never had a MoonPie, let me catch you up to speed.  A MoonPie is marshmallow cream sandwiched between graham cracker flavored cake, then covered in chocolate.  Think s'mores in snack cake form.  Apparently, the MoonPie was created when a Kentucky coal miner was asked what kind of snack he would like to eat, and the miner requested something with graham cracker and marshmallow.  The miner then asked the snack be "as big as the moon", which inspired the name.

This is pretty much my go-to brownie, adapted from this Fudge Brownie recipe from King Arthur Flour.  I tweak and change the recipe every time I use it, but keep most of the ingredients and preparation the same.  It's just so good!  Better than any brownie you can buy from a bakery.

So a layer of brownie batter is placed into the baking pan, the mini moon pies are pressed in, then topped with more brownie batter, thus making a brownie-MoonPie sandwich extraordinaire.



Moon Pie Brownies

1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (I used a combo of dark and regular)
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate (optional)
12 mini MoonPies

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 13x9-inch baking dish with foil; coat foil with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  Mix in eggs, using a mixer on medium speed, until well combined and frothy - about 2-3 minutes.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; stir in sugars until well combined and dissolved.  Gradually mix butter mixture into egg mixture until well combined - about 2-3 minutes.  Sift in flour and stir until just combined.  Stir in chocolate until just combined.

Spread half of brownie batter into prepared pan.  Press MoonPies into batter.  Spread remaining brownie batter on top.  Bake 30-35 minutes or until set.  Cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Makes 12 huge brownies

Salted Caramel Pretzel Bread Pudding

on
Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Once upon a time, when I was a young ambitious woman living in the bustling city of Chicago, I ate some salted caramel pretzel bread pudding.  It was from a Charlie Trotter restaurant that was more of a deli where you could buy stuff to-go... I cannot remember the name.  Please help.  I think it was in Lincoln park.  I digress... I remember shortly after trying the bread pudding, the restaurant closed down, and citizens of Chicago wept for days.  I'm sure it wasn't because of the bread pudding, because that sh*t was amaaazing.  It still haunts me to this day how delicious it was.

I recreated the dessert in my cozy kitchen in Raleigh.  I cubed up pretzel bread and toasted it up nicely in the oven to get it a little crisp.  Then I soaked the bread in a mixture of evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and homemade salted caramel sauce.  I used Bobby Flay's salted caramel sauce recipe and it worked beautifully.  The mixture is baked, then topped with more caramel sauce, whipped cream and sea salt.  This is soo good.... so rich, so addicting.

The baking dish I used was larger than an 8x8-inch dish, but smaller than a 13x9.  Any medium sized-baking dish should work.

Also, I was wrong; it was chocolate covered pretzel bread pudding and it was from Trotter's To-Go.  It wasn't salted caramel at all!  Oh well, I put my own spin on the dessert.


Salted Caramel Pretzel Bread Pudding

8 cups cubed pretzel bread
2 cans evaporated milk
3 large eggs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Bobby Flay's Salted Caramel Sauce 
Pinch of sea salt
Whipped cream, for serving

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place bread on a sheet pan and toast 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together evaporated milk, eggs, granulated sugar and vanilla until well combined.  Stir in bread cubes and most of the caramel sauce (reserve 1/4 cup) and soak for 20 minutes.

Butter a medium sized baking dish; add bread pudding mixture.  Bake 45-50 minutes or until set and golden brown.  Remove dish from oven and cool on a wire rack.  Drizzle with remaining caramel sauce.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Allow to cool at least 30 minutes before serving.  Serve with whipped cream.

Makes 6 servings

Tres Leches Cake

on
Friday, May 5, 2017

Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone! Do y'all have any wild and crazy plans tonight?  I'm still not sure what the plan is around these parts, but I hope it involves many tacos and a few margaritas.  Perhaps a few tequila shots as well.  I do know we'll be digging into this tres leches cake very shortly.  I baked it late last night into the wee hours of the morning.  I need to plan these things better and not start baking around 10:30 PM.



I adapted this recipe from Costa Rica Cooking, because I'm still on a bit of a Costa Rican kick.  Pura Vida!  Take me back to the land of pinto gallo and chili guaro.

The cake is a very spongy cake, made from whipped egg whites, sugar, yolks and flour.  No butter, folks, I repeat, no butter.  But don't go thinking this is a healthy cake; the fat comes from whole milk and heavy cream.  After the spongy cake is baked, you poke 2 million holes in the cake and douse it with the three heavenly milks: evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and heavy cream. The cake take a bath overnight in the milk to soak up all of the liquid.  I topped the cake with whipped cream and cherries because tres leches cake is kind of ugly.

Do you like maraschino cherries? Do you know how to tie a knot with a cherry stem with your tongue?  I do not mind them, and I really want that talent.  Luckily there's a WikiHow to help us learn.


Tres Leches Cake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour 
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 large egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar + 3 tablespoons

3 large egg yolks
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided use

 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 cups cold heavy whipping cream, divided use
Maraschino cherries


Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat a 10-inch springform pan with butter and sprinkle with flour, or coat well with nonstick cooking spray.  

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  In a large mixing bowl, using a mixer on high speed, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Reduce mixer speed to medium and gradually add 1 1/2 cups sugar until well combined.  Beat in egg yolks, one at a time.  Beat in 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract and almond extract.  Gradually fold in flour mixture, alternating with whole milk until just combined.  Be very light handed with this step.

Place cake batter in prepared pan.  Bake 25 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake an additional 25 minutes or until cake turns golden brown and lightly springs back when touched.  Cool 15 minutes.  Run a knife around outside cake edges and remove outer portion of pan.  Poke a lotttt of holes in the cake.

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and 1 cup cream.  Drizzle half of the mixture over cake.  Invert cake into some sort of serving dish that can hold a bit of liquid.  Poke cake with more holes and drizzle with remaining milk.

Beat remaining 1 cup cream and 3 tablespoons sugar in a large mixing bowl using a mixer on medium-high speed until medium peaks form.  Do not overbeat it.  Do not listen to Michael Jackson while doing this step.

Spread whipped cream on top of cake.  Decorate with cherries.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Or at least a couple of hours.  The cake needs time to soak up the liquid.

Makes 9 servings