Chocolate Caramel Cake

This is my go-to cake for special occasions, as every always loves it. But you do have to love chocolate ~ Caramel ~ English Toffee!  It is a simple recipe, but the add-ins make it rich and delicious.

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The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder (King Arthur available at Amazon)
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • One jar of the best caramel topping you can find, kept in the refrigerator to make it harder.
  • English Toffee
  • Big Malted Milk Balls

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350º F.   Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring. Then line with 9″ round parchment paper and spray again.  (I buy the pre-cut rounds by Wilton – available at Walmart)
  • For the cake:
  • Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
  • Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.
  • Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center, comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.
  • Using a serrated bread knife, cut each layer in half so you have four layers.
Putting it together:
  • Make the Chocolate Buttercream recipe shown below.  Pipe or spoon a ridge of the buttercream all around the outside of the first layer.
  • Fill the center with the now hardened caramel
  • Put on the second & third layer and repeat
  • Frost the cake with rest of the frosting (there always seems to be a bit too much)
  • Put the English Toffee in a ziplock bag and crush with your rolling pin or meat pounder.
  • Decorate how you like with the Malted Milk Balls

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ cups butter (3 sticks), softened
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 5 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps.
  2. Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.
  3. Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.
  4. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.
  5. If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.

Serve with Champagne and have a wonderful time.

Chocolate Caramel Cake

10 Bite-Size Spring Appetizers

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Spring is in full swing, and if you haven’t yet jumped into the depths of all of the great seasonal produce, we’re thrilled to let you know some great ways to enjoy it all. These bite-sized spring appetizers are perfect for that backyard party you’ve been waiting to have all winter. Check out the roundup of our ten favorites that have truly given us Spring Fever.

1.) Radish and Arugula Crostini with Brie

One word: radishes.  It simply wouldn’t be spring without a heaping helping of radishes on our plates and of course, in our appetizers. These crostini bites pair radishes, brie, and arugula leaves on toast for a crunchy and bright flavor experience.

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2.)  Savory Carrot Ribbon Tart

You know it’s spring when suddenly carrots are everywhere. Easter is this Sunday (can you believe it?) and a tart like this makes for a perfect pick-me-up before dinner is served. Serve up a hearty and clean appetizer like this that fits in all of the festive carrot flavors of the season on one pan. Using rainbow carrots is a great tip that incorporates all different kinds of colors into this festive spring tart.

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3.) Buttery Deviled Eggs

What kind of meal would it be without deviled eggs around Easter? Keep in mind that deviled eggs (or any recipe requiring hard-cooked eggs) are great.

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4.) “Spring Roll” Pot Stickers

Turns out you can get the fabulous flavors of takeout from your very own kitchen with these awesome pot stickers. The extra crispy-ness of this classic takeout item is enough in itself, but when you factor in all of the homemade goodness packed inside, they become out-of-this-world good.

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5.) Spinach-and-Green-Pea Empanadas

While these empanadas are a little heartier than the average appetizer and can definitely be served as an entree if desired, their fun hand-sized nature makes them a great grab-and-go food for backyard parties or get-togethers. Not only are they a delicious golden-brown, but they’re chock full of great spring veggies.

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6.) Blackberry-Brie Pizzettas

It’s true, blackberries reach their prime in the summer months, but if you’re lucky enough to be able to snag some blackberries from your local market right now, they go wonderfully with brie on these golden-brown personal sized pizzas. Not only do these colorful appetizer pizzas bring out even more of that Spring Fever, but they’ll get you all excited for the vast array of yummy produce still to come in the summer months.

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7.) Grits-and-Gumbo Tarts

All of the iconic flavors of this southern stew come together in perfect bite-sized portions with these tarts. Shrimp, okra, and polenta rounds pair perfectly in one bite and would make a great accompaniment to this warm spring weather.

These bright and colorful crostini appetizers are reminiscent of spring with their bright green colors and fresh flavor. Appetizers like this are a great way to combine multiple seasonal flavors in one bite. Fava beans get the spotlight here, but the goat cheese balances out the overall flavor.

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9.) Cucumber-Tomato Skewers with Dill Sauce

It doesn’t get much easier than these super simple veggie skewers. If you’re planning on serving a heavy meal, these light and fresh appetizers are the perfect pairings to round out the flavor palate, and the creamy dill sauce is a great accompaniment.

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10.) Fresh Spring Rolls with Pork, Mango, and Mesclun

This great appetizer comes with an essential peanut sauce, which lends a sweet and spicy flavor to these bright and fresh spring rolls. These rolls are held together with clear rice-paper wrappers, which allow for tons of great flavor to be packed into one edible snack.

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10 Bite-Size Spring Appetizers

What Is Salmonella, Anyway? 

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What you need to know about the bug that caused 206 million eggs to be recalled

A moment of silence for the unspeakable number of eggs that were likely cast aside in the trash this week. That’s because last Friday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that Indiana-based company Rose Acre Farms recalled over 200 million eggs after tracing a salmonella outbreak to one of its North Carolina farms.

The eggs, which were distributed to nine total states, “were likely connected to 22 reported cases of salmonella infections” according to The New York Times.

Rose Acre Farms calls itself second-largest egg producer in the United States, with three million hens that produce 2.3 million eggs a day, so the whole concept is a little dizzying. But before you forsake eggs for good, let’s take a moment to go over the facts.

While we read frantic headlines about salmonella thinking of an illness, it’s actually the name of the bacteria that causes salmonellosis (or salmonella infection). Both terms get their namesake from an American scientist named (get this) Dr. Daniel E. Salmon, who discovered the bacteria with research assistant Theobald Smith.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1.2 million Americans a year contract salmonellosis. Though it can happen from contact with pets, about 1 million of those cases are caused by food.

The mere mention of foodborne illnesses may make you jump and your stomach turn, and you’re not the only one. There’s a reason why any food-tainted headlines seem both frequent and panicky—the concept of unknowingly ingesting something dangerous seems overwhelming when you think about the fact that you eat three meals a day. And the reason you hear extra buzz about salmonella infections is because it’s one of the most common foodborne illnesses.

Not only that, but the number of salmonellosis outbreaks has been increasing over the years. Many people think that salmonella is primarily a risk arising from undercooked chicken, while that is one source of infection, there are many others.

Those sources include other kinds of uncooked meat, contaminated water, raw milk, fresh produce, and, of course, raw eggs.

Luckily, when salmonella infection is caught, it’s typically very treatable—and most people only need fluids to recover, often in just a few days. Others, however, need antibiotics, and the CDC says that 23,000 Americans are hospitalized for salmonella with 450 deaths annually, so it’s still something to watch out for.

If you’ve been reading the headlines and suddenly realizing you’ve been feeling iffy for a few weeks now, don’t worry—it’s not because you ate some kind of gross chicken last month. “Whereas other foodborne germs, such as E. coli and listeria, may take days or even weeks for symptoms to show, salmonella symptoms may appear after only a few hours and may last for several days,” explained Kronenberg.

The symptoms include nausea, chills, fatigue, gastrointestinal distress, and diarrhea, for starters. Fun, huh? However, with a little prep, it’s not too hard to prevent. While it’s undeniable that some things happen in life from pure bad luck, many cases of salmonella infection can be avoided by introducing a few precautionary routines. Kronenberg advises washing your hands.  We’ve all been told to wash our hands practically since we were born but when you’re handling something like raw produce, it’s hard to remember that something as innocuous as an apple can be laden with bacteria.

Be careful while you’re cooking. Don’t handle raw and cooked foods with the same cookware. Washing fresh produce with cold water may reduce the risk of illness.

Use a food thermometer if you want to be extra careful in light of the arguably unsettling egg news.

Cooking eggs to temperatures of 160 degrees or above or until the yolk is firm or fully cooked will kill salmonella and reduce the risk of food poisoning.

What Is Salmonella, Anyway? 

11 Mistakes to Avoid When Grilling Steak, According to Chefs

It’s never too early to start prepping for barbecue season—so go ahead and bookmark this.

Purists assert that a good-quality cut of steak is done ill justice at the hands of an overzealous grill. Contrast that to cheaper cuts like chuck roast, for example, which come to their prime slowly and forgivingly when slowly cooked. Cooking steak, therefore, is a paradoxically delicate matter for a powerfully primal affair. So it’s understandable that many diners and home cooks err on the side of overcooking it, especially if the quality of the meat might not be top shelf.

Regardless of what your preferences are—and we’re not knocking any of ‘em—here are eleven mistakes to avoid on your next steak night.

Choose the right piece of steak. The quality of your final product depends on your starting ingredients.

“Finding the best product you can get your hands on is always the hardest part of cooking a great steak”. “There’s really only three things in my opinion that make for a good grilled steak: Beef, salt, and fire.”

“We only work with USDA Prime beef, which is the highest grade of beef available and accounts for only 1.5% of the beef in the nation. Fat is flavor, so look for beef that looks plump, bright red and has the most marbling. Marbling is the intramuscular fat present in high-quality beef that gives it a ‘marbled’ appearance. Grain-fed or grain finished beef will have more marbling than a grass-fed beef.”

On aged steak:

If you’re lucky enough to be able to find a butcher that has dry-aged beef,I highly recommend trying anything aged from 15 to 30 days until you become acquainted with the flavor.”

Chef Joe Cervantez agrees, specifying that “steaks eat best at 23 to 28 days.” He’s executive chef at Brennan’s of Houston. “Most steaks from the grocery store are aged 14 days,” he says. If you’re up for trying your hand at aging and are lucky enough to have access to a cryovac, he recommends packing the meat in an airtight seal until it hits at least 23 days.

On cuts and thickness: 

Certain types of steaks best lend themselves to grilling. Skirt steak for a hot grill, whereas a NY strip steak or ribeye is best for a cast-iron pan over a burner. (For pan cooking,  a 3/4-inch to 1-inch steak is recommended because the thickness gives you the time to get a nice crust on the outside without overcooking the inside.

Don’t cook your steaks straight from the fridge. 

Prentiss recommends taking out your steak from the fridge about one hour before you’re going to cook it and setting it on a roasting rack. (This is also the best time to season it with salt, ideally medium grain sea salt, he says. More on that below.)

Season your steaks a couple of hours in advance and then let them come to room temperature before cooking. There’s an exception, however: If [the steak] on the thinner side, starting it cold will give a buffer from overcooking the center.

While chefs differ about the amount of room temp time before cooking, chef Dinesh Jayawardena recommends not squeezing the time below a half hour.

Don’t use the wrong kind of salt, and when in doubt, oversalt.

True sea salt is always the way to go when seasoning a steak,” Prentiss says. “We use Jacobsen’s Kosher Salt from Portland, Oregon. The grains are medium sized and have a pleasant minerality that lends itself perfectly to grilled beef. Any true fleur de sel or sel gris type sea salt will work well for good beef. Avoid table salt, iodized salt or small fine-grain sea salts as they have more weight to volume than larger grain salts and you can easily over season with them. Just think medium grain, true sea salt.”

Always overseason your steaks a bit. When you think it’s enough, always add a little more. A lot of salt and pepper always falls off during the cooking process and doesn’t always penetrate the meat.

Now is not the time to be shy about seasoning, as salt is the most important ingredient you could ever add to a steak. Do this before you let the steaks rest so the seasoning has time to work its way deep into the meat.”

Don’t season your steak too soon—yes, that’s a thing.

With larger steaks, it’s always a good idea to finish with some large flake or finishing salt once it’s sliced. If you do not have an hour to temper and season ahead of time, season immediately before grilling, anything shorter than 40 minutes will only pull moisture out of the steak and not let the outside get those beautiful grill marks and crust.

Add a bit of olive oil as well, which he says help gets better sear or griddle marks. If you do decide to add some fat, stick with olive oil, not butter. There is no real need for butter when cooking a steak because it already has plenty of fat and flavor in the meat itself.

Make sure it’s super dry before it hits the heat.

Make sure you pat down your meat. Dry meat forms the best crust.

Don’t use lighter foil or charcoal briquettes if you can avoid it.

Always avoid lighter fluid if possible, and while convenient, charcoal briquettes can add an unpleasant kerosene flavor to meat grilled meats and should be avoided. If a wood/natural lump charcoal fire is unavailable or too inconvenient, propane grills will ultimately yield a better steak than charcoal briquettes and lighter fluid.

The best way to go, however, is hardwood or hardwood lump charcoal. Natural solid fuels add the most flavor to steaks while complementing their natural flavors instead of overpowering them.

Don’t start without a super hot grill.

Be sure to let your charcoal fully catch and heat up before attempting to grill on it, about 20-30 minutes. Your fire should have a bed of red-hot coals, [with] high, even heat across the grill, and minimal flames and smoke.”

A hot cooking surface is extremely important to caramelize the outside of the steak and secure in the flavor. This method will give you a crispy on the outside, yet moist and tender on the inside steak.

Don’t forget the thermometer—even if you’re a pro.

One of the most important things to remember. Temping a steak by hand can be tricky. It takes a ton of practice and a ton of experience. You have to cook a steak a thousand times just to suck at it.

Don’t have a meat thermometer on hand? use metal cake testers. People always are looking for secrets on how to get the perfect steak doneness. We use metal cake testers. They’re the best tool you can use for this. Insert the metal tester into the steak, leave it for five seconds, then pull it out and touch it to your lips or inner wrist. The internal temp of the steak will tell you how done it is. If it is cold, your steak is rare, if it is just warm, medium rare, slightly hot, medium and etc. No more pushing on it to test it what happens when you hit a muscle knot? and now it is even easier. Plus, cake testers are less than a dollar and you can get them in baking sections or on Amazon.”

 Here are numbers to aim for: 

Rare: 120-130°F

Medium rare: 130-135°F

Medium: 140-145°F

Medium Well: 150-155°F

Well: 160-165°F

Don’t flip your steak more than once.

Keep away from overturning your steak. Let the Maillard reaction do its thing.” (That’s the fancy name for the chemical reaction between amino acids and sugars, which gives browned and caramelized food its distinctive flavor.  Ideally, you should turn the steak once on each side (to get those crosshatch grill marks), and only flip it once.

Avoid individual steaks, if cooking for a crowd.

Don’t be afraid to go with one large steak like a 32 oz Ribeye or 1-kilo Porterhouse for a group as opposed to multiple individual steaks. One large steak is easier to manage and monitor on a grill than multiple smaller ones and armed with a good thermometer, any cook can nail a perfect medium-rare every time. Larger steaks like those work well for two to six people because once sliced, the steak will have some slices that are cooked to the preference of each guest. Because of the inherent internal variation of cooking times within one steak,  you can accommodate diners who prefer “medium rare” and “medium well” with just one piece of meat.

Don’t forget to let the steak rest.

Cooking the steak to ten degrees below your desired temp and then resting it allows for the collagen in the meat to thicken the juices as it cools slightly. This creates a way juicier steak than just cooking straight to temp.

Let it rest. This is crucial. Just because the steak is out of the pan doesn’t mean it stopped cooking. Keep it in a warm place you don’t want a cold steak and rest it for about as long as you cooked it.

Allowing the steak to rest for half the cooking time before serving so if your steak takes 10 minutes to cook, you’d let it rest for five.

If you’re not able to keep the steak warm while it rests, or you want to eat it quite hot,  return the steak to the grill after it’s rested and bring it up to the internal temperature of your preference before eating.

11 Mistakes to Avoid When Grilling Steak, According to Chefs

The Easiest, No-Mess Way to Cook Bacon

Your days of hovering over a grease-spitting skillet are over. There’s a much easier way to cook bacon, and it’s so simple you’ll wonder if it really works. (Spoiler alert: It does.)Allreceipes shares the easiest and best way to cook the bacon we all love.

Breakfast Bacon

Why Bake Your Bacon

Why should you cook bacon in the oven instead of frying it the old-fashioned way? There are so many good reasons for cooking bacon in the oven, we have to count the ways:

  1. You can cook a whole pound of bacon at one time in just minutes.
  2. Baked bacon cooks flat and doesn’t curl up.
  3. No need to turn the bacon.
  4. No grease burns on your skin.
  5. No grease stains on your clothes.
  6. No grease splatters all over your stove.
  7. Free up space on your stovetop for other foods.
  8. While the bacon’s in the oven cooking itself, you can turn your attention to other things. Like mixing mimosas.
  9. Clean-up is as easy as it gets.
  10. Baking bacon makes it possible to make candied bacon.
  11. Bacon is it’s own best reason to cook bacon.

 

Bacon for the Family or a Crowd

 

Ingredients
1 pound thick-cut bacon

Equipment
Large rimmed baking sheet
Aluminum foil
Baking rack (Optional: Cooking the bacon on a rack makes the bacon crisper, and lets the grease drip off the bacon as it cooks. If you go the rack route, you should still line your baking pan with foil to make clean-up easy.)

Directions
1. Preheat your oven to 400° F. You won’t be broiling the bacon, so put your oven rack in the middle of your oven to distribute the heat evenly.
1. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Make sure the foil extends up the sides of the pan so it captures all the bacon grease and clean-up is easier.
2. Arrange bacon strips directly on the foil. It’s okay if the bacon overlaps slightly because it will shrink slightly as it bakes. OR place the bacon on a rack. Place the baking pan in the oven.
3. Cook bacon for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how chewy or crispy you like your bacon.
4. Transfer cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined platter. The extra grease will be absorbed by the paper towels, and the bacon will crisp up a bit as it cools. You can then transfer it to a clean plate to serve.

Notes From Home Cooks

  • No baking rack? No problem. Line the baking sheet, then crumple up some more foil and lay the bacon on that to hold it up out of the grease.
  • Your baking time may differ. No two ovens bake at exactly the same temperature. You’ll probably need to do this a couple of times to find the right time/temperature that works for you.
  • Prevent oven splatters.  Lay a layer of foil over the bacon; this will keep grease from spitting all over the oven. Remove the foil for the last few minutes of cooking for “final crisping.”
  • Clean up is a snap. As if we need another reason for making bacon in the oven. Just let the bacon grease cool in the pan (save it if you want), then roll up the aluminum foil and toss it.

Save Your Bacon

Here’s the method as a recipe so you can save to your recipe box. Or pin the graphic below. Enjoy your new life, now with perfect bacon.

 

Easiest Way To Cook Bacon Graphic
The Easiest, No-Mess Way to Cook Bacon

I want to make this soon!

Buttery German Apple Cake

8 servings

This gorgeous cake was unanimously crowned the best of the best from this year’s Readers’ Choice Week recipe submissions. We love the simple method to get that professional shingled look without having to layer each individual apple slice. Make sure the butter is truly room temperature, or it will be difficult to bring the dough together. Read more about the family story behind the cake (at the end of the article), which was passed down (in memory! Not written down!) through three generations, beginning with one resourceful German grandmother. It’s also known as Versunkener Apfelkuchen, meaning German apple cake.

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • ¼ cup plain fine breadcrumbs
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp. apricot preserves
  • 3 medium, firm apples, such as Pink Lady or Honeycrisp
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Unsweetened whipped cream (for serving)

Special Equipment

  • A 10″-diameter springform pan with removable bottom

RECIPE PREPARATION

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Grease bottom and sides of springform pan with butter, then coat with breadcrumbs, tapping out excess.

  • Whisk granulated sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup flour in a large bowl. Create a well in the center and add egg, vanilla, and remaining ½ cup butter. Using a fork and working in a circular motion, stir until the dough starts to form large clumps. Using lightly floured hands, knead very gently in a bowl until dough comes together in one large, soft mass (you may need to add a little bit of flour to the dough to keep from sticking to your hands).

  • Still using lightly floured hands, press dough into the bottom of springform pan, then press into an even layer with the bottom of a dry measuring cup or mug, sprinkling a little flour over the dough if it starts to stick to measuring cup. Spread apricot preserves in a thin layer over the surface of dough with a small offset spatula.

  • Peel and quarter apples. Cut the core out of each quarter and arrange apples flat side down on cutting board. Make thin parallel crosswise slices in each quarter, taking care not to cut all the way through so apples stay in one shingled piece. Arrange apple quarters in concentric circles over the entire surface of the dough, trimming to fit if necessary (you may have a few extra pieces).

  • Bake cake, rotating the pan halfway through, until apples and crust are golden in color, 55–60 minutes (apples will not be completely tender, but that’s intentional). Let cool 15 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, place powdered sugar in a small bowl. Gradually pour in lemon juice, whisking constantly until a thick but pourable glaze forms.

  • Remove sides of springform pan. Lightly brush top and sides of cake with glaze. Let cool completely before transferring to a platter. Serve with whipped cream alongside.

    The best things in life are worth preserving, which is why Olaf Klutke knew he had to record the recipe for Buttery German Apple Cake, this year’s winning Reader Recipe. Out of the hundreds of recipe submissions we received, this one stood out. It’s creative in its construction, delicious, and, perhaps most of all, passes on a family tradition.

    Ilse is Klutke’s mother, and her famous apple cake recipe was based on one she learned from her mother-in-law, Marta. Newly married (and newly cooking) Ilse learned how to bake with Marta in a tiny, hand-built kitchen in Hamburg, Germany. In 1964, Ilse and her family, including three-year-old Klutke, immigrated to the United States, just outside of Chicago. She brought the memorized recipe for the cake with her, too.

    “Once she learned, it was always there,” Klutke says. “For special occasions, for Sunday night dinner. Even if she saw good-looking apples at the store, that was reason enough to make it.”

    It’s based on a traditional German apple cake, Versunkener Apfelkuchen, but what is usually a runnier batter is more dough-like in her version, yielding something between a cake, a tart, and a cookie. It’s moist and chewy, with a crisp, golden crust. The dough comes together in one bowl but makes two different textures through baking. First, it’s pressed into a buttered springform pan with a removable bottom that is sprinkled with breadcrumbs, which is where the cookie-like, crumbly quality comes from. Then the top of the crust is spread with apricot preserves, which seep into the dough and keep a layer of it soft like Oooey Gooey Butter Cake, even as the bottom crisps up. There are peeled and quartered apples on top displayed like the top of a beautiful tart. You can use any kind you prefer to bake with, like Pink Lady or Honeycrisp.

    The apples are a brilliant move in and of themselves. Each peeled quarter is sliced like a fan at ⅛-inch thick almost to the bottom, but not fully, so that they still hold together, like a Hasselback squash or potato. Though Marta probably wasn’t thinking this, we’re happy to point out that this makes for a particularly ‘grammable cake. The real reason she did it? “When the cake bakes, those slivers separate and brown on their own,” Klutke says. “They get soft, but the center core stays firmer, so you have variety. When my mom was cutting, I took out a ruler to see how far apart the slits were.” He told the BAtest kitchen the apples should be “al dente” when we cross-tested the recipe. The baked result was pleasantly firm, unlike soft-bordering-mushy apple pie filling. It almost made the cake taste healthy.

    In the original recipe, Klukte notes that his grandmother Marta, or omi, served it with a dollop of whipped cream, or schlagsahne, as we do here. “The more American version would be with a scoop of ice cream,” he writes, “which omi would certainly approve of!”

    Because she knew what it meant to adapt. During World War II, Klutke’s grandparents had to escape Germany. They fled to Poland, and then eventually to the small town of Schruns, Austria, where they lived in a hotel for about five years. In exchange for their stay, Marta worked in the hotel kitchen, baking her cake for its visitors, who were often American and French soldiers. Once the war was over and it was safe to return, his grandparents made their way back to Hamburg, where they found their city, and house, in ruins. Klutke’s grandfather re-built the structure from the ground up, but Marta’s memorized recipes were always at-hand, and then passed down to her daughter-in-law, Ilse.

    Klutke has been recording his family recipes for the past year, trying to make a written record of dishes in his mom’s head—things like beef Rouladen and goulash. For the cake, he even printed photos and made diagrams of how to slice the apples to go along with it. “I have to stand next to her and grab ingredients and actually measure them as she’s working,” he says. “I have a whole cookbook like this that I’ve done.”

I want to make this soon!

PECAN PIE CHEESECAKE

I am not a big Cheesecake fan, but I do LOVE Pecan Pie, so this combination just might be beyond wonderful. Test it out and let me know what you think.  I will be trying it later this month.

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INGREDIENTS

GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST

      • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
      • 1/3 cup sugar
      • 8 tablespoons butter, melted

PECAN FILLING

    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 3/4 cup dark corn syrup
    • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 pinch salt

INGREDIENTS

CHEESECAKE FILLING

      • 24 ounces cream cheese
      • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
      • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
      • 4 large eggs
      • 1 cup heavy cream

PECAN TOPPING

    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
    • 1 1/2 cups toasted pecans, chopped
    • 1/3 cup heavy cream
    • 1 pinch salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter. Press evenly into bottom and halfway up the side of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 6-8 minutes; set aside to cool.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 6 tablespoons butter. Add 1/2 cup light brown sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to bubble and sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in dark corn syrup, 1 1/2 cup chopped pecans, eggs, vanilla extract, and salt. Pour into prepared crust; set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, 1 cup light brown sugar and flour until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until just combined. Add 1 cup heavy cream and stir until well combined. Pour over pecan pie filling and place springform pan on a baking sheet. Bake for 60-70 minutes until cake jiggles slightly when moved or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Turn off oven and leave the cake in for 1 hour, then remove from oven and let cool completely.
  4. To Make the Pecan Topping:

DIRECTIONS

  1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and cook until bubbling, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 1/2 cups toasted pecans, 1/3 cup heavy cream, and pinch of salt. Let cool to room temperature then spoon over.
  2. cooled cheesecake. Slice to serve or store refrigerated.

 

PECAN PIE CHEESECAKE

Oven Hack to Change the Way You Cook

1Preheating the oven has always been a thorn in your side, especially when you’re trying to put dinner on the table ASAP.

Whether it’s because something came up unexpectedly, or because you totally forgot to turn the oven on (we’ve all been there), using your oven to put dinner on the table can be unnecessarily challenging.

Sometimes, if your oven isn’t ready to roll when you are, you might psych yourself out and abandon your dinner plans altogether. This could be a costly mistake, and you might resort to a faster pitfall.

Those 15 extra minutes of preheating time really do make a world of a difference, and we have a kitchen hack for heating your oven even faster – the broiler

If you put your oven’s broiler on high for 3 to 5 minutes, you’ll find that your oven can reach higher temps almost immediately when you set the oven to the necessary temperature later.

I witnessed this magical, time-saving advice firsthand. Using my standard, two-rack oven for a test run, I found that I was able to get the interior heated to 350 degrees in just 2 minutes after using my broiler first.

Thanks to this ingenious shortcut, you’ll never have to hover in front of your oven, tapping your fingers on the door, again.

Oven Hack to Change the Way You Cook

Cook the Best Fish Ever

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Here are some great tips from the archives of Food & Wine Magazine for cooking fish.

Be gentle. “Basically, I’d suggest using the gentlest heat that you can possibly apply,” says chef Michael Cimarusti. “So if you’re grilling, grill over a gentle fire, not a raging fire. If you’re steaming or poaching, do it at a bare simmer.”

Let it rest. “You can actually cook a salmon to the point where it flakes beautifully in a 118- or 119-degree oven, provided you let it rest,” says Cimarusti. “Rest the fish for a good 10 to 15 minutes, for a good long period of time, in a fairly warm, ambient spot, and the fish will reveal textures you never knew it had.”

Get hands on. “There’s no exact timing,” chef Tom Valenti says about cooking fish. “Even with four or five fillets of swordfish, every piece of fish is different. With every fillet, I always have to poke it and squeeze it to figure out what’s going on.”

Buy an extra fillet. “When I talk to home cooks at the restaurant, they often tell me they don’t even bother to cook fish at home because they don’t know how to do it,” Valenti says. “The first thing I suggest is if you’re going to cook four fillets of halibut or salmon or swordfish or whatever you want to try, buy a fifth fillet to crack open to see if it’s done.”

Steam it. “Steaming is a powerful way to create pristine flavors,” says chef Mourad Lahlou. “When you take a piece of fish and steam it over water, or water with aromatics like spices or citrus peel, you actually taste the ingredients. Unlike, say, a curry, which is so heavily spiced you can’t taste the individual ingredients. There’s nothing wrong with a curry, but when you want to appreciate the clean flavors of a single piece of fish, you need to treat it with respect, and steaming is one of the most respectful ways to cook something.”

Start skin side down. “To ensure crispness, start the fish skin side down, pressing the fillet with a spatula,” says chef Rocco DiSpirito. “The skin will stick at first; when it releases, flip the fish over.”

Cook the Best Fish Ever

Quick Fish Sauces

Fish could be my main meal of choice seven days a week.  Add a little chicken now and again for variety and my meal planning would be complete.  My husband a “meat” guy likes more red on the table to go with his red wine.  So I don’t eat it every night.  It is pretty funny when we go out, as he will inevitably order steak and I will almost always have whatever fish they are featuring.

I found this article with links to recipes from Food & Wine Magazine and thought all the sauces sound good.  Another good source for sauces is the new America’s Test Kitchen Sauce Book.

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Here, 10 great sauces that will take any fish dish over the top.

1. Parsley Sauce
This easy, lemony sauce is fantastic with crisp, butter-fried sea bass or snapper.

2. Smoked-Almond Romesco Sauce
Smoked almonds and a touch of pimentón de la Vera gives this sauce a terrific smokiness.

3. Fresh Herb Sauce
All you need for this sauce are parsley, arugula, marjoram, oregano, vinegar, and garlic.

4. Rich Ketchup Sauce
Ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar and Tabasco come together in this complexly flavored sauce.

5. Mint Sauce
Fresh mint blends with garlic, vinegar, and sugar for a sweet-and-sour sauce that’s perfect for a full-flavored fish like tuna.

6. Lemon Cream Sauce
It doesn’t get much simpler than lemon zest, cream, salt, lemon juice and parsley.

7. Salmoriglio Sauce
This tangy, buttery sauce is a Sicilian classic.

8. Red Wine Sauce
The success of this simple sauce lies in the quality of the wine. Choose a full-bodied red for a richly colored, flavorful sauce.

9. Tomato Ginger Sauce
Though you can put this simple tomato sauce together in a matter of minutes, it has surprising complexity.

10. Sweet-and-Sour Sauce
This healthy version of classic Chinese-takeout sweet-and-sour sauce is light and spicy.

Quick Fish Sauces