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Banana Bread Pancakes with a Cream Cheese Glaze

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I found myself stuck inside during a thunderstorm this weekend, and decided to pass the time my favorite way…baking! I was home in Seattle for the weekend, so I didn’t have much baking equipment to work with. I decided to make pancakes, which isn’t really baking, but is close enough. I wanted to make an epic stack, and thought that these banana bread pancakes would do the trick. All you really need to do is add a bunch of mashed up bananas, some cinnamon, and a little brown sugar into your favorite pancake recipe. The recipe I used is below:

Pancake Batter:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed overripe bananas (4 small bananas)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Cream Cheese Glaze
  • 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 Tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 Tbsp cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (garnish)
  • 1 banana, sliced (garnish)

Begin by heating a large, non-stick pan to medium heat. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, walnuts, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, stir together buttermilk, sour cream, granulated sugar, brown sugar, mashed bananas, egg, vanilla and butter until combined. Pour the buttermilk mixture into flour mixture in two installments, mixing until just combined (it’s ok if it’s a little lumpy).

Butter or spray the griddle (and continue to throughout the process as needed), and pour about 1/3 cup of batter into the center of the pan. Spread the batter slightly outward into a round. Cook until the bottom is golden brown (normal pancake bubbles won’t really appear on surface, so just keep an eye on the color of the bottom), then flip and cook the opposite side until golden brown.

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While waiting to flip the pancakes, prepare the cream cheese glaze. In a mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer, whip together the together cream cheese and butter at a medium speed until well combine. Add in the remaining ingredients, and mix for about 1 minute, until fully combined. Place the frosting into a frosting or zip lock bag, and cut a 1/4 inch opening. Gently drizzle the glaze over the pancakes, and top the pancakes with sliced bananas and walnuts. I opted to make one giant stack, but it’d be much more practical (and easier to eat) if you just put a few on separate plates 😛

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The Ultimate Snickers Cake

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I’ve made various snickers cakes in the past, but this one really takes the cake (no pun intended). It uses an entire pot of caramel, and has a wonderful nougat filling speckled with peanuts and sea salt. Does it really get any better?

Cake Layer:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Nougat Filling:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 cups marshmallow fluff
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Salted Caramel Sauce:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon fleur de sel (or any other flaky sea salt)

Salted Caramel Buttercream:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup salted caramel sauce (above)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Milk Chocolate Ganache:

  • 8 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) heavy cream

Garnish:

  • Candied Peanuts, chopped snickers, and caramel

Servings: 16-20

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 9-inch round cake pans, and line/grease the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper.

Begin by making the chocolate cake batter. In a very large bowl, add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder. Whisk through to combine. Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together until well combined. Carefully add hot water to the cake batter, and mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Distribute cake batter evenly between the three prepared cake pans. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

For the Nougat Filling, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and evaporated milk, stirring until dissolved, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and add the marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, peanuts, and vanilla extract, stirring until completely smooth. Let the nougat mixture cool to room temperature before using it in the cake. You can do this leaving it at room temperature or you can pop it into the refrigerator to speed up the process. Be sure to give a stir occasionally as it cools.

For the salted caramel sauce, add the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a heavy saucepan (with a capacity of at least 2 or 3 quarts). Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking it as it begins to melt. You’ll see that the sugar will begin to form clumps, and that’s okay. Keep whisking and as it continues to cook, and they will melt back down. Stop whisking once all of the sugar has melted, and swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks.Continue cooking until the sugar has reached a deep amber color. It should look almost a reddish-brown, and have a slight toasted aroma. This is the point where caramel can go from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds, so keep a close eye. Add the butter all at once. Be careful, as the caramel will bubble up when the butter is added. Whisk the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour the cream into the caramel. Again, be careful because the mixture will once again bubble up ferociously.Whisk until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have a smooth sauce. Add the fleur de sel and whisk to incorporate. Set the sauce aside to cool for 10 to 15 minutes and then pour into your favorite glass jar, and let cool to room temperature. (You can refrigerate any left over sauce for up to 2 weeks).

While the cakes cool, make the frosting. Beat the butter on medium-high speed until fluffy. Pour in the salted caramel, and beat until combined. Reduce the speed to medium-low and slowly add the powdered sugar, a little at a time, until it has all been incorporated. Add the salt and vanilla. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for an additional two to three minutes, until light and fluffy. Add cream as needed.

For the cake assembly, place one cake layer on a serving plate. Cover with half of the nougat filling and then spread a couple spoonfuls of the salted caramel sauce over top to evenly cover the nougat filling. Sprinkle with sea salt and chopped peanuts. Repeat with remaining layers. Frost the cake with the salted caramel frosting, finishing it as smoothly as possible. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes, until the frosting is set.

While the frosting sets, prepare the chocolate ganache. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl; set aside. Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and warm until it just comes to a boil. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes. Begin whisking the mixture in the center, gradually working your way outward until the ganache is completely smooth. Set aside to cool, whisking occasionally, until it has thickened slightly, but is still a pourable consistency.

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If you want to make the exterior of your cake smoother, you can add an additional layer of frosting on top of the crumb coat. The garnish is the final step. Drizzle caramel over the top and edges of the cake. Slowly pour the chocolate ganache into the center of the cake, letting it push itself outward, to the edge of the cake. Let some of the chocolate drizzle over the sides, on top of the caramel. Refrigerate the cake for 15 minutes, giving the ganache a chance to set up. Top with crushed peanuts, chocolate pieces, and place cut up snickers around the edge of the cake. You also sprinkle a little sea salt around the top, if desired.

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Unit Conversions: Tackling the Metric System

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While I do like to think that baking is all fun and games, things can get a little tricky when I try to convert certain recipes from the metric system. This is actually an issue I frequently run into, as most of my favorite baking blogs are from other countries. I have become more familiar with metric units, but I still struggle with certain conversions off the top of my head. I’d love to just guesstimate and hope for the best, but as many of us have discovered (the hard way), baking requires precise measurement.

Below is a basic breakdown of what I’ve learned, and some terminology differences I’ve encountered. Hopefully this will help others who have come across similar conversion difficulties 😀 If you have a specific conversion that isn’t listed below, there are some amazing conversion tools out there that you can use as well!

Disclaimer: This list is great for a quick reference, but I still believe the best approach to conversions is using a kitchen scale that can switch between grams, ounces, milliliters and fluid ounces.

Abbreviations:

Teaspoon = tsp
Tablespoon = tbsp
Grams = g
Kilograms = kg
Milliliters = ml

Terminology:

Plain flour = all purpose flour
Wholemeal flour = whole wheat flour
White sugar = granulated sugar
Caster sugar = superfine sugar
Icing sugar = powdered sugar

GENERAL MEASUREMENTS: Cups, tablespoons and teaspoons.

1/2 tbsp = 1 1/2 tsp
1 tbsp = 3 tsp
1/4 cup = 4 tbsp
1/3 cup = 5 tbsp + 1 tsp
1/2 cup = 8 tbsp
2/3 cup = 10 tbsp + 2 tsp
3/4 cup = 12 tbsp
1 cup = 16 tbsp

WEIGHT CONVERSIONS: Grams and ounces

1 ounce = 28 grams
1 pound = 16 ounces = 453 grams
20 g = 3/4 oz
60 g = 2 oz
100 g = 3.5 oz
125 g = 4.5 oz
180 g = 6.5 oz
500 g = 18 oz
1 kg = 2 pounds = 32 oz

VOLUME CONVERSIONS: Milliliters, fluid ounces and cups

2 tbsp = 29.57 ml = 1 fl oz
1/4 cup = 60 ml  = 2 fl oz
1/3 cup = 80 ml = 2 2/3 fl oz
1/2 cup = 125 ml = 4 fl oz
2/3 cup = 160 ml = 5 1/3 fl oz
3/4 cup = 180 ml = 6 fl oz
1 cup = 250 ml = 8 1/3 fl oz
2 cups = 500 ml = 16 fl oz (1 American pint)
2 1/2 cups = 625 ml = 20 fl oz (1 Imperial pint)
4 cups = 1000 ml = 1 litre = 32 fl oz

OVEN TEMPERATURES
Fahrenheit.and Celsius

100 Celsius (C) = 212 Fahrenheit (F)
120 C = 250 F
140 C = 275 F
150 C = 300 F
160 C = 320 F
170 C = 325 F
180 C = 350 F
190 C = 375 F
200 C = 400 F
210 C = 410 F
220 C = 425 F
250 C = 480 F

SPECIFIC INGREDIENTS

Butter:
1 tablespoon = 14 grams =  1/2 ounce
100 grams = 7 tablespoons = 3 1/2 ounces
1/2 cup = 113 grams = 1 US stick = 4 ounces
1 cup = 227 grams = 2 US sticks = 8 ounces
250g = 1 AUS stick

Plain flour:
1 AUS cup = 150 grams = 5 ounces
1 US cup = 125 grams = 4 1/2 ounces

Brown sugar (loosely packed):
1 cup = 175 grams = 6.25 ounces

Brown sugar (tightly packed):
1 cup = 220 grams = 8 ounces

White sugar:
1 cup = 220 grams = 8 ounces

Caster sugar:
1 cup = 220 grams = 8 ounces

Powdered sugar:
1 cup = 120 grams = 4 1/4 ounces

Chocolate chips:
1 cup = 190 grams = 6 3/4 ounces

Honey and other syrups:
1 tbsp = 21 grams = 3/4 ounce
1/4 cup = 85 grams = 3 ounces
1 cup = 340 grams = 12 ounces

Happy Baking!!

Cayenne Carrot Cake with Maple Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting

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I have a go-to, traditional southern carrot cake recipe that I would stake my life on. It’s moist, has great texture, and has a wonderful balance of flavors. But there are only so many times a girl can make the same recipe in a month! This is the third request I’ve gotten for carrot cake, and I needed to mix things up. So I decided to spice up my favorite recipe. I experimented with a little cayenne, and made a spicy carrot cake with a bourbon maple cream cheese frosting.

Yield: 24 slices

Calories Per Slice: 377

Cake Base:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups finely grated carrot
  • 1 (12-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 12 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp maple bourbon
  • 1 Tbsp Pure Maple Syrup

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Begin by lining and lightly greasing three nine-inch, round, cake pans. Set the pans aside. Stir together flour, baking soda, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon. Mix in the eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla at a medium speed, until fully incorporated. Fold in the carrots, pineapple, coconut, and walnuts.

Pour the batter in to prepare cupcake trays, filling them 2/3 full. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from pans immediately, and cool completely on wire racks.

While the cupcakes cool, prepare both types of frosting. For the cream cheese frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese, until the mixture becomes light and fluffy (about 2 minutes), then add in the powdered sugar in several installments, adding a splash of cream and bourbon between installments. Add in vanilla and salt last, and beat until fully incorporated. Divide the frosting evenly, and mix the maple syrup into one of the frosting bowls.

Once the cake layers are fully cooled, frost each layer, and decorate as desired. I decided to make a walnut dirt garden, with orange and green gel colored, frosting carrot tops.

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Maple Pecan Pancake Cupcakes

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I love brunch, and I love cupcakes. So why not make a cupcake for brunch?! I think everyone is happier with a little sugar in the morning. I was originally inspired by this recipe, but made a few changes to the cupcake base by using buttermilk, and adding candied nuts to the cupcake batter.

Maple Pecan Cupcake Batter:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup toasted, candied pecans
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup

Maple Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup, room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp milk, room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Buttermilk Pancake Topper:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons milk
  • 1 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon and 2-1/4 teaspoons butter, melted

Yield: 12 cupcakes

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Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, until light. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla extract. Stir in buttermilk, and maple syrup. Gradually blend in the flour mixture, stirring until the batter is just combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Divide evenly into prepared muffin tin. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Turn cupcakes out on to a wire rack to cool before frosting. I ended up making a double batch, and decided to also make blueberry pancake cupcakes! After I had used half the batter to bake the maple pecan cupcakes, I added 1 cup of blueberries to the remaining batter.

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As the cupcakes cool, prepare the frosting. Combine butter, maple syrup, milk and half of the confectioners sugar in a large bowl and beat at medium-high speed until smooth. Add remaining sugar in gradually until frosting is thick enough to spread easily. Frost the cupcakes using a large star tip.

For the pancake topper, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together buttermilk, milk, eggs and melted butter. Keep the two mixtures separate until you are ready to cook. Heat a lightly oiled frying pan over medium high heat. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, using a wooden spoon or fork to blend. Stir until it’s just blended together – do not over stir! Pour the batter onto a lightly greased pan, using approximately 1 tablespoon for each mini pancake. I could cook about six pancakes in my pan at a time. Brown on both sides, then place on a wire rack to cool.

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Once all the pancakes have cooled, top each cupcake with three pancakes, and secure with a toothpick. Drizzle maple syrup over the pancakes, and place a tiny, cold, cube of butter on the top the pancake stack.

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Note: I topped the blueberry cupcakes with a blueberry reduction (1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 1/2 cup light corn syrup, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 maple syrup). The winner at the end of the day? It was a toss up. People couldn’t decide which one was better. I think the group consensus was that the star of the show was the frosting 😀