Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cake Batter Cookies (better known as) Gooey Butter Cookies

     So, I've been out of town and without my laptop and pics for the past several days, so I'm just now finishing this Easter blog!  The rain and storms have been crazy here in Western Kentucky, although the damage in my hometown is pretty bad, all immediate family and their belonging are fine--Glory to God--although I do have some cousins and friends who have damage.   My prayers go out to them and anyone else who have been less fortunate with the wind and flooding!

      I must say, that I'm glad to be home in my own house, and back in my "Blogging World"! :)  I'm drinking some Creme Brulee coffee and watching "Inside the Royal Wedding", because I just like things like that!  I was born just after Charles and Diana's wedding, so I never have been able to experience this kind of excitement before.  And, I just love weddings!

     These pretty little cookies are derived from the best loved, Gooey Butter Cake recipe!  I got this recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Keeping Good Company, and the first time I made them they instantly became a hit!  They have the very same soft, chewy texture and buttery, vanilla flavor that the cake has except in cookie form. I truly think they taste like cake batter!  My husband had the suggestion of me renaming them because he agrees that these gooey little clouds taste like licking a cake batter bowl, but even better!

Is your mouth watering yet?

     These cookies are incredibly simple and easy to make.  They only recipe a handfull of ingredients, and ones that are usually pantry staples. Basically just mix everything together, chill in the fridge, roll in powdered sugar and bake!  (Kids would especially love to help roll these in the powdered sugar...I know I do!)  I like to sift a little extra powdered sugar on them after they come out of the oven, too. --Just to polish them off!

     I don't see how anyone wouldn't love these pale yellow little beauties!  Their color has "Spring" written all over them.  That's why I made them for Easter this year to take to Nana and Pa's house.  You know everybody loves a good cookie! I hope you try these gooey, cake batter cookies out sometime for'll thank me later!!  :)

Cake Batter Cookies

1/2 c. butter, softened

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1 egg

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese

1 (1 lb.) box butter recipe cake mix

powdered sugar, for dipping

cooking spray

Beat butter, cream cheese, vanilla and egg until light and fluffy. 

Mix in dry cake mix.

Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray cookie sheets.

Drop by teaspoonful in a bowl of powdered sugar and roll into balls. 

 Completely coating with powdered sugar.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Allow to cool on the pan for at least 10 minutes. 
The center should still be soft, for they are gooey butter cookies.
Sift a little extra powdered sugar on them and eat warm!
Makes about 3 dozen.

I'd like to thank Kristin at Delightfully Dowling for featuring me last week!!! :)

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sunshine Tea on the Back Porch

What is better than sweet tea on a hot day?  Nothing if you ask a Southerner!  Monday I got off work a little early.  It was warm and humid outside--storms were on the way-- and my Hubby and I decided to have just a little afternoon snack to tide us over 'till supper time, on the back porch.  He is always the one who makes tea when we have it, (I don't really remember when it started) but he does such a good job that I'm happy for him to make it!  He surprised me by changing it up a little this time, and it was great!... 

He started as making sweet tea as usual, except he steeped it with freshly sliced key limes! (We didn't have any regular ones.)  Next, with the sugar and water he also added about 3/4 c. of orange juice...uh, yummy!!  This tea was so refreshingly bright and citrus-y, perfect to sit outside on our (still rather bare) patio and enjoy with vanilla wafers and peanut butter sandwich cookies.  

Look, you can even see the sweat beads on the glasses, which is a reminder that summer is on it's way!  There is something so relaxing, even comforting about sitting outside with a glass of fresh sunshine tea and breathing in the warm air, listening to the birds, looking around at the countryside--truly feeling God in the beauty of His creation.  Thankful for the little things like a tray full of simple pleasures and a husband to enjoy them with.

This serving tray is one of my newest finds, and I love it!  I got it at a local, peddler's/flea market/antique store.  I think it's hand painted over on a vintage style tray.  It's beautiful with flowers in spring colors!  I usually keep in on my coffee table (which is an antique trunk) with a candle, some magazines and a little jar of chocolates.  Today I thought it would be perfect to serve this purpose in carrying everything outside.  Besides, it compliments the color of the tea and limes!

I served this citrus sunshine tea with sliced key limes in a beautifully cut glass pitcher that Nana gave me.  She is so thoughtful.  She knew that I love pretty things like this, so when we moved into this house she gave it to me filled with roses cut from her garden!  What a perfect housewarming gift!

This tea is completely front porch, Kentucky sunset worthy; yet, it would be just right with chicken salad for a ladies' luncheon, as well.   I have to give my wonderful husband the credit for surprising me with his recipe for sunshine tea.  This is one of those "little blessings" I thank the Lord for sprinkling in my life everyday!  

Let's remember that every good gift is from above.
Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake with Toasted Pecan Cream Cheese Frosting

     This cake is the South at it's best!  That's why I made it for Mom's birthday celebration over the weekend.  She's a Southern belle who is graceful and beautiful inside and out.  We're only 20 years apart, therefore we are often mistaken as sisters!  (Of course Mom loves this!)  Anyways, we are like best friends now, and we have more fun than ever together.  I always enjoy giving gifts to Mom, because she always truly seems to cherish what others give her.  She's especially fun to bake for because, as a wonderful baker herself, she appreciates the love and effort it takes to make something like this cake. This cake is an old recipe that even my great grandmother would make!  She has this in her recipe book that dates back to the 1920's!  I am so proud to bring this cake back around to the family now, and one day pass down to my children.

     The first time I made a hummingbird cake was a few years ago for Mom's birthday, and we all fell in love with it!  Oh, what we've been missing all of these years! Made completely from scratch, is a warm cinnamon-y batter filled with ripe banana and cool crushed pineapple (the cake would be marvelous just by itself) with a dreamy, unbelievably rich and delicious cream cheese frosting that's overflowing with toasted pecans.  It took a lot of self control to not eat this frosting right from the bowl itself! It's a perfect warm weather cake, because I find the bananas and pineapple in combination with the toasted pecans reminds me of the flavors in a banana split or an old fashioned banana cake the way Granny used to make, with a syrupy glaze over the top!  Fruity and fresh notes with comforting ones from the cinnamon and vanilla undertones.  Delicious!!

     I think this cake is an easy one to make.  It requires no electic mixer, just stirring together by hand.  Somehow, I find that appealing. One less appliance to get out and wash later.  Be sure to gently stir the batter as it's coming together, because you don't want to overwork it or else it won't be as tender and moist.  I use one large bowl for the mixing of everything, a medium size one to mash the ripe bananas in and add the crushed  pineapple and real vanilla extract, and a small bowl to whisk the eggs.  The original recipe calls for dividing this up into 3 pans for a triple layer cake, but since I only had 2- 8 inch pans, I made it a double layer and it worked out just fine!  No batter wasted at all!

    A little tip to help get your cakes out of the pan perfectly every time, is to line the bottoms with wax paper. Just trace around the pan onto wax paper and cut out your circle.  Spray the pan first with baking spray, lay down the wax paper, then spray the paper and sides of the pan with baking spray again.  That way the cake will practically slide out, no problem!  (I learned this from the recipe of my Chocolate Ganache Christmas Cake.)  It works every time!

     I would like to share with you a little "family secret" that was passed down from my Granny to Mom and now to me. For their carrot cakes, when the cakes come right out of the oven, they have always poked little holes with a fork and poured some of the extra pineapple juice all over to seep in the holes and allow the warm cakes to drink up the extra juice like a sponge. This makes for an incredibly moist cake with a little more of that sweet pineapple flavor!  It adds so much to their carrots cakes, that I decided to do the same with the hummingbird cake!  I just used my little cooking brush to rub the pineapple juice into the cake, and was proud to be able to carry on a family tradition. What a great idea-- thanks Mom and Granny!!!

     I can't tell you how excited I am to share this family recipe with you!  Not only is it a nostalgic old-fashioned cake recipe, it is one of the best cakes I've ever had!!!  There was not a crumb left on anyone's plate.  Honestly, we all were enjoying every bit of this delightfully good confection with our milk and coffee.  I hope that you try this recipe out but more importantly, I hope you find out what your family's recipes are.  You know, the ones that get passed down from each generation; and dust them off so you can try them out for yourselves.  Whenever we do this, we are honoring our loved ones and keeping their memory alive.   

Old Fashioned Hummingbird Cake

3 c. flour

2 c. sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

3 eggs, beaten

1 c. oil

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1- 8 oz. can crushed pineapple, undrained

2 c. (3 large) ripe bananas

Cream Cheese Frosting
(This time, I made another half batch to add to this recipe for extra frosting.)

1-8 oz. cream cheese

1/2 c. softened butter

1 box (16 oz.) powdered sugar

2 tsp. good vanilla extract
(Good vanilla extract makes a difference here.)

1 c. chopped and toasted pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium size bowl, mash bananas well.

Add crushed pineapple and vanilla and set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

Add eggs and oil.

Stir until moistened.  Do not beat.

Stir in the banana, pineapple and vanilla mixture.

Pour into 3- 9 inch pans and bake for 25-30 minutes. 
Pour into 2- 8 inch pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, checking  with a toothpick about every 2 minutes after about 32 minutes to ensure they are perfectly done.

Take out of oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes.

Turn out onto a baking rack and allow to cool completely before frosting the cake.  This is when I poured over the pineapple juice!

Beat everything together for the frosting.  Beat until very creamy.

Get your "frosting station" ready!  I just use my kitchen table, because it's a better height for me. 

Have fun frosting your cake!  
I like to start by putting a large dollop of the dreamy frosting on the cake and bringing it all down the sides.  When you are done frosting your cake completely, put even more wax paper around, and begin pressing handfuls of toasted nuts around the sides of the cake.  Decorate the top with pecan halves.  If you don't want this look or go through the trouble, just stir the chopped nuts into your frosting so all you have to do is frost the cake! 

I have to say that frosting the cake is probably my favorite part, other than tasting!  I enjoy it so much, that it's almost therapeutic for me to bake and decorate. 

There is something about swirling around fluffy whipped frosting that's relaxing and oh, so fun!

Looks good enough to eat already! 

Toasted pecans make this cake perfect.  Now, it's ready to devour!

...I said it was good!  So, why don't you try it out and let me know what you think!

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