OK, I’m warning y’all right now, this is not the post to read if you’re counting calories, or generally health conscious in any sense of the phrase.
This week, I’m sharing a few things close to my heart, desserts. Not that I just have a sweet tooth, but my first love in the culinary world was baking. It’s given me many happy memories, from my dad teaching me to make snickerdoodles, to Christmas sugar cookies with Mom, brownies with college friends, to soft pretzels with my new husband (the same one I do my “culinary experiments” on now, we were just newly married then.)
Baking has gotten me pretty far in life, winning over new friends, encouraging old ones, and sending distant loved ones tastes of home. There’s a joy I get from sharing what comes out of my kitchen; it’s a piece of myself given with time and care to make someone feel good, and that’s what food should do – make people feel good.
My first recipe this week is an upgrade on an old family favorite. The base recipe has been in the family for ages, but the upgrades came from Pinterest. The pin was about how to make box cake mixes taste more like a bakery’s work, and let me tell you, it does. It’s just three simple tips, and they make a universe of difference.
First, use milk instead of water. Second, instead of oil, use melted butter, and use twice as much of it. Third, add two more eggs than recommended. I only used two of the three tips for this cake, but nonetheless, it was so moist and flavorful. If this cake doesn’t bring a smile to your face, no dessert can.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
- 3 sticks butter, divided
- 1/2-1 Cup brown sugar
- 1 20-oz. can CRUSHED pineapple
- 1 box yellow cake mix (I think I used Duncan Hines)
- 5 eggs
Place one stick of butter in a 9×13 baking dish, and place in oven. Preheat oven to temperature directed. This should melt your butter. If it’s not completely melted by the time the oven is done preheating, leave it in until it is.
While the oven is preheating, completely drain your pineapple, reserving the juice in a measuring cup, you’ll be using that in place of water for your cake batter (if you’re short, add water to the directed amount.) Set aside.
Chop up the remaining two sticks of butter (assuming you’ve been asked to use a cup of oil in your cake mix, if not, adjust accordingly) and melt them in the microwave. Pour it in a large mixing bowl, and add the cake mix. Crack in the directed number of eggs, plus two more, which brought my count up to five. Add in the pineapple juice, and whisk together.
Now that your butter is melted, pull it out of the oven, and add the drained pineapple. the slowly stir in brown sugar “until it looks right”, not too dry, or too runny, just a very thick consistency. Spread it out evenly over the bottom of the pan, then pour the batter on top. Do not mix the two, it will defeat the purpose. Bake as directed, possibly longer, until it passes the toothpick test. Best served with whipped cream.
My next recipe I found on Betty Crocker’s website – they won’t let you down on occasions like these. One day at the grocery, berries were on sale, so I talked my husband into buying them on the promise I’d make shortcake for their enjoyment. I found this “healthified” version, which avoids extra oil, so I rolled with it. I cut the recipe in half, since we were making it for two, but I can see how this could sweetly end a family reunion or barbeque.
Shortcake (from bettycrocker.com)
- 3 Cups Bisquick
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 1/4 C unsweetened applesauce
- 1 Cup skim milk
- 1 whole egg
- 1 egg white
Preheat oven to 350, and grease a 9×13. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and stir until well combined. Pour into the 9×13 and bake 30-35 minutes. Serve with berries and vanilla ice cream.
My final offering blew my mind. I didn’t think they were possible, but I was excited to find this recipe. No bake brownies. Really! Now, this is the recipe that has absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever. I mean it. You’ll read the ingredients in a second and think “I better take my insulin” even if you’re not diabetic. That’s why as a serving suggestion, I advise you cut them into small pieces and pass them around a large party. No one needs to eat too
many of these, delightful as they are. I found the recipe in food network magazine, but altered it highlight the caramel, since I don’t like hazelnuts. I love this because the longest part is melting down the chocolate. In total, it can be ready in 20 minutes!
No Bake Brownies
- 1 sleeve chocolate graham crackers
- 26 Nilla Wafers
- 8 oz. melted semisweet chocolate
- 6 oz. Dulche de Leche
- 1/4 Heath bits, plus more for topping.
In a food processor, pulse nilla wafers and grahams into fine crumbs. Stir in melted chocolate and dulche de leche, and pulse until well combined. Pulse in the toffee bits, then spread into a buttered 8×8 pan. Sprinkle in additional Heath chips, if desired.
Tip of the week: Eating dessert alone is sad. Share it at a party, and make everyone else get fat with you.
Sally is a wife and domestic diva in Maryland. She approaches life with gusto, humor, and a passion that is unmatched. She is a classic woman, with a modern twist and is the kind of woman who will throw back a beer and watch Star Trek with her husband, and entertain the church croquette group with homemade cheese cake. Sally offers something for everyone, and is always experimenting and cooking up a storm in her kitchen.