Miniature Dole Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

Find Your Adventure

The theme for the upcoming 2016 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA (January 1st, 8:00 a.m.) is “Find Your Adventure.” As you know, this past year has been one — and then some — especially with the torrential rains in Oklahoma. I’d planned to photograph these mini-yellow & red beauties with a yellow & red rose bouquet in the background (a gift from my hubby for Christmas and perfect for the Rose Parade) but the light was fading fast. Always an adventure!

However, the Miniature Dole Pineapple Upside Down Cakes turned out grand! Who doesn’t love a parade — and Pineapple Upside Down Cake in ‘mini’ form?

Enter Ally Phillips (http://allyskitchen.com/), winner of the 2013 Dole California Cook-Off and Dole Packaged Food’s first-ever Social Media Ambassador (and instigator of “individual sized” Pineapple Upside Down Cakes!) I’ve made many a Pineapple Upside Down Cake in my day, but never “miniaturized.” It was SO fun, I even made “Mini Mini’s!”

Not only will Ally be supplying her colorful “live” observations (on Social Media) during the Tournament of Roses Parade, she’ll also be cooking up a creative storm at DPF’s “Live on Green” prior to the much-anticipated annual festivity. Tune in as Ally prepares these and other DPF inspired recipes, including refreshing smoothies, a zesty hummus dip, Ricotta Dumplings with Dole Raspberry Sauce, and even an inspired Bellini recipe! (Hey, it’s New Year’s after all.) All of ’em were tested, ENJOYED, and received rave reviews by some of food blog world’s finest cooks. (There’ll be links!)

Dole Packaged Foods graciously expanded their annual presence in this year’s 127th Tournament of Roses Parade by including a FREE three-day family friendly event at the Pasadena Convention Center to promote good eatin’… aptly demonstrated by Ally and more. “Live on Green” will take place on December 29th & 30th (9 a.m. to 8 p.m.), and December 31 (9:00 a.m. to 3 p.m.) with activities centered around the National Park Service’s Centennial Celebration. (100 years, woohoo — way to go!) There’ll be places where children can romp and play at the Scholarshare Toddler Play Area, a Family Fun Zone, and live performances throughout the event, including singalongs. (Y’all know music is a balm to my soul.)

PLEASE be sure to watch for DPF’s float during the Tournament of Roses parade on January 1st, too… an incredible construction entitled “Soaring Over Paradise” complete with a zip-line, waterfalls, and gorgeous fresh flowers! Dole does its best to bring you their BEST, and I’m so honored to participate in this “virtually” with my fellow foodies. Good will and GOOD FOOD abounds at the 2016 Tournament of Roses Parade.

Quick update:

Here are my roses minus the mini’s… my hubby took ’em to work to share!

Tournament of Roses bouquet

Pineapple Upside Down Cake Minis (and “Mini” Mini’s!)

2 (20 oz.) cans DOLE pineapple slices, well drained

1/3 cup butter, melted

2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 pkg. yellow cake mix

Maraschino cherries, drained and halved

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (or 325 degrees F if using dark or non-stick muffin tins.)

Prepare cake mix as directed, substituting drained pineapple juice for the water.

Mix together melted butter and brown sugar until combined.

Spray muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray.

Equally divide butter/brown sugar mixture between muffin tins — 18 total. (See below for additional measurements and/or adaptations.)

Press 1 pineapple slice into brown sugar mixture in each muffin cup.

Add 1 cherry-half in the center of the pineapple ring (sliced side up.)

Pour in about 1/3 cup prepared cake batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of muffins comes out ‘clean.’

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

Loosen edges of muffins (use a  butter knife or similar) and invert onto a cooling rack over a half-sheet baking pan, then cool completely.

NOTE: Use at least a 2/3 cup size each muffin tin or it won’t be large enough to hold pineapple slice and batter.

FYI, I used a “jumbo” (popover-sized) muffin tin to make these. (I also experimented with larger ramekins, but they were almost too big!) As for the mini-Mini’s… I put 1/2 tsp. brown sugar/butter mixture into each “mini-muffin-cup”, added a maraschino cherry half first, then topped it with 1/2 tsp. of well-drained DOLE crushed pineapple, and approximately 1/2 Tbsp. cake batter on top. (Eyeball ’em til they’re 2/3 full.)

Bake as directed, adjusting the time to accommodate more or less cake batter. For me, the mini-mini’s baked up “just right” in about 11 minutes… test with a toothpick to be sure. (And don’t neglect that 5-minute cooling-time advice — worked slick in every size.)

A hearty thank you to Dole Packaged Foods for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own, but I simply have to add that my hubby just ate two of those “mini’s” and asked if he could have more. YOU BETCHA! Happy, HAPPY New Year everybody — go, have FUN — and “Find Your Adventure!

Enjoying being adventurous,

~ Kim

Cake Walk (Silky Chocolate Cake)

Silky Chocolate Cake

Have you ever played musical chairs?  With cake?

For as long as I can remember, the school I attended as a young’n hosted an event known as The Carnival in mid-March.  While its intent was to raise funds for various projects, its effect was that of an indoor Mardis Gras.  (A welcome break from the snowbanks outside.)

It also happened to coincide with my birthday, which meant that there was a good chance of celebrating with two cakes instead of one.

Classes were dismissed at noon on Friday to decorate the gym with streamers and balloons and glittery posters.  Shop students worked feverishly to pound last-minute nails into makeshift booths.  Faculty members supervised the tumult with lighthearted smiles and the occasional admonition to “stop horsing around!”

Prizes were then unpacked from large cardboard boxes stacked on the stage, yielding plastic trinkets and wholesale teddy bears that somehow transformed themselves into desirable objects simply by merit of being displayed on a shelf.

In short, the hometown basketball court became a thing of beauty.

The next night (Saturday night), the doors leading into the gym were propped open at 7:00 o’clock sharp and folks would file into the bleachers that angled upward from the gym floor — a vantage point to shed winter coats, visit friends and neighbors, and keep an eye on their children scurrying around below.

I still remember the thrill of clutching a fistful of tickets…

Priced at a nickel apiece, families could afford an evening’s worth of entertainment for their progeny, along with a mutual understanding:

“When the tickets run out, it’s time to go home.”

With my personal stash of five-cent-increment happiness in hand, I’d wander wide-eyed past each booth, sizing up the odds of winning and calculating the staying power of my ticket-trove.

The games were as varied as their names.  Ring Toss.  Dip the Duck.  Free Throw Booth.  (It was situated on a basketball court, after all…)

But, my premeditated destination was The Cake Walk.

Tucked in a corner of the gym behind a fence-like barricade, a dozen metal folding chairs encircled long tables on loan from the school cafeteria.  Atop those tables were cakes.  Not just any cakes, mind you… The Carnival was an annual opportunity for the ladies of the community to show off their baking skills — and show off they did!

Sometime between Friday afternoon and Saturday evening, a parade of baked goods made their way into the gymnasium, balanced on matronly laps during the car ride to town, or tucked on the floorboard farthest from the car heater so as not to melt the frosting.

Each carefully constructed creation was delivered to The Cake Walk with its glory intact — towering three-layer beauties, billowy angel food encased in Seven Minute Frosting, light-as-air German chocolate under a thick layer of coconut and walnuts, two-layer cakes artfully appliqued with butter cream…

Basically, the Pillsbury Bake-Off in a booth. ;)

After producing the required tickets to enter The Cake Walk, folks lined up in front of the chairs and the music would begin in typical musical chairs fashion.  But, unlike the traditional game where one chair is removed after each round, The Cake Walk chairs remained in place — randomly numbered to avoid mass hysteria, potential injuries — and toppled cakes.

Round and round we’d shuffle to the Beatles crooning, “She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” or Petula Clark belting out “Downtown.”

(On a record player, ahem.)

When the music stopped, it was our cue to scramble for a seat — and scramble we did.  Then we anxiously awaited for the corresponding “lucky number” to be drawn from a bowl.  Amidst groans and cheers, the winner would stand, select the cake of their choice (which was another reason to get there first), and emerge victorious.

It’s been years since I’ve been back to the The Carnival, primarily because I moved 750 miles away and I can’t do “winter,” but also because the homemade cakes of yore were deemed dangerous by the legislature and eventually replaced by packaged angel food cakes.

Sometimes a memory is better than being there.

I must admit, I don’t covet cake with the same intensity I once did, but if I spy one that elicits that “carnival” craving, I know I’m going to be the lucky winner — without leaving it up to chance.

Many thanks to Maureen from The Orgasmic Chef for this year’s birthday cake.  (Click here for the recipe for Silky Chocolate Cake.)

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I can almost hear the music now… “She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah…”

Enjoying cake walks,

~ Kimby

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Put De Lime In De Coconut Cake

Have you ever seen a recipe and known in your heart of hearts that you must make it now?  That’s how I felt when I saw Pina Colada Cake by Chef Dennis earlier this year.

Normally, I follow a recipe to a “tee” the first time — out of respect for the Chef who created it, and because I hope you do the same with mine. :)  I can’t begin to count the number of fabulous meals that have graced our table as a result.  (I love food blog world… sigh.)

But, when I checked my pantry for pineapple, I was out.  (Drat!)

Sometimes ya gotta punt…

Racking my brain for a suitable substitute, I decided to compensate for the missing “pineapple moisture” with a smidge of lime juice.

(Bear in mind, it was strictly conjecture at that point… precise measurements to follow.)  Lime pairs well with coconut, yes?

Speaking of “pairs,” I spied some fresh pears on the counter… hmm.

A chopped pear would contribute “body” without adversely affecting the flavor.  Don’t ya just love food “science?”

Allow me to interject — I Googled straightaway to see if there were other lime & coconut cakes out and about — there were.  But, none of them included a pear or spelled it ala Harry Nilsson’s song. :)

After a few trials and tweaks (made it with a D’Anjou pear first, then tried a Bosc — all in the name of research, of course…), it was a keeper!  The cake was moist and dense, with a hint of lime and a tease of coconut.

After all was said and done, I frosted my “adaptation,” sprinkled toasted coconut over the top, and it was indeed over the top!

Prepare yourself for a taste of the tropics…

Put De Lime In De Coconut Cake

(adapted from Pina Colada Cake by Chef Dennis)

Cake:

2 c. all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups coconut, divided

1/2 c. butter, plus additional for the pan

1/4 c. brown sugar (that’s all!)

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 ripe pear (D’anjou or Bosc), peeled, seeded, & diced

Zest of 1 medium lime

1/4 c. freshly squeezed lime juice

15 oz. can Cream of Coconut, divided (I used Coco Lopez)

Coconut Lime Frosting (recipe follows)

Toasted Coconut, for garnish

Coconut Lime Frosting:

3/4 c. Mascarpone cheese (homemade or store-bought)

3/4 c. cream cheese, softened

1 Tbsp. butter, softened

2 c. confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. salt

1 to 2 Tbsp. Cream of Coconut, reserved from above

For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan; set aside.

Spread 1 cup of coconut on an ungreased baking sheet.  Toast in the oven for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring several times until golden brown; immediately remove from baking sheet to cool; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup coconut (untoasted); set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; set aside.

Peel, core, and dice the pear.  Place the diced pear into a 2-cup measuring cup.  (It should yield 1 cup, loosely packed.)  Add lime zest and juice; toss to coat.

In the same measuring cup, pour 1 cup Cream of Coconut (approximately) over the diced pear mixture, until the total quantity measures 1-3/4 cups.  Reserve remaining Cream of Coconut for the frosting.

Add pear mixture to creamed mixture; beat well.  (Batter will look soupy and some of the pears will still be “chunky,” but that’s okay.)

Gradually add flour mixture in thirds — no need to create a dust storm! — and beat on low speed until just combined.

Spread batter into prepared pan.  Bake 35 to 45 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack.  Run a sharp knife around inside edge of the pan, invert and remove the pan, then flip the cake back onto the cooling rack to cool completely.

(Note:  Cake may rise significantly above the pan — not to worry — just another reason to label it “over the top!”)

Trim edges of cake before frosting, if desired.

For the Frosting:

Prepare homemade Mascarpone cheese several hours in advance (I made it with lime juice instead of lemon juice); refrigerate until set.

Alternatively, use store-bought Mascarpone & get on with it. :)

Whip the cream cheese, Mascarpone, and butter until fluffy.

Add confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, salt, and lime juice; mix well.

Add enough of the reserved Cream of Coconut until frosting reaches “spreadable” consistency.

Frost top & sides of cooled cake.  Sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Enjoying cake by de lake,

~ Kim

Crumb Cake

Recipes are like old friends.

You smile at the thought of them,

Anticipate the pleasure of their company,

Enjoy spending time with them.

And… favorite recipes become family.

~   ~    ~    ~    ~

Crumb Cake has been in my repertoire longer than I can remember.  The notation on it (written by my Mom) says:  “This was Mom’s recipe and my favorite cake.”  (In reference to my Grandma!)

I make it for my Mom’s birthday every year , or every time we go to Minnesota — whichever comes first.

The only embellishments required are a plate, a fork, a napkin, and a cup of coffee.  (And birthday candles now and then!)

Crumb Cake

1-1/2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup sour milk (or scant 3/4 cup milk mixed with 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice)

Preheat oven to 350°.  Lightly grease a 9″ square baking dish.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt.

Cut in butter with a knife or pastry blender until crumbly.  Reserve a 1/2 cup of this mixture for the cake topping; set aside.

To remaining mixture, add the egg, baking soda and sour milk.  Mix well.  Spread batter in prepared pan.  Sprinkle reserved crumbs over top of cake.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until a pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool slightly on a wire rack.  Serve warm.

Enjoying good ol’ family recipes,

~ Kim

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Let Them Eat Cake…

I promised you cake.

Not just any cake.

Fudge-y, chocolate-y, mousse-y cake sooooo decadent you must beware the power of The Dark Side………

You get the picture.

As is my custom when the calendar rolls around to that fateful day marking my arrival in this world, I spend weeks — even months — in search of “The” Cake that will grace my table, and ultimately my tongue.  Where, oh where does one turn to fulfill such a primal request?

Food blogs, of course.  (Thank y’all so much for doing what you do!)

After drooling over many a fine recipe, I clicked on Gourmantine’s Blog and spied what she simply called:

Ultimate Chocolate Cake.

Need I say more?

Okay, you know me by now…

Not being one to leave chocolate well enough alone, I decided to top it with even more chocolate… the darker, the better.  Enter The Harried Cook‘s Chocolate Ganache Frosting.

Words cannot describe the wonder…

It was so dark… yet so light…  after one taste, I felt like I could quite possibly levitate the serving tray. ;)

Enjoying the chocolate side of The Force,

~ Kim

A Slice of Southern Sunshine… in Hawaii

If Spring isn’t coming quickly enough for you…

and Waikiki sounds mighty good about now…

Head on over to my Guest Post at Savour The Senses!

Last fall when Jenny invited me to join her “Featured Foodie Friday” series, I was ecstatic!  Not only does she have a sense of adventure outside of the kitchen (she recently made the transition from snowboard to surfboard!), Jenny also works at Morimoto Waikiki…

When you visit her blog, I hope you’ll spend time getting to know this delightful, talented young lady.

In the meantime, I invite you to join us for a slice of Southern sunshine… in Hawaii!

Aloha, y’all. :)

Enjoying a jump start on Spring,

~ Kim

Cow Tipping, Full Moons, and Chocolate Myths

I grew up in the rural Midwest where tales of cow tipping were oft told, but never confirmed.  Is it really possible to tip a cow?  The idea of sneaking up on a sleeping bovine and giving it a shove seems rather shady to me, or at least that’s how I’d feel if someone surreptitiously disturbed my slumber.  (By the way, I snapped this photo at the Iowa Welcome Center, just up the road from the Missouri border on a very windy day.)

Perhaps it was the recent full moon that prompted my musings?  Stranger things have been known to happen when the moon is full.  Or so they say.

Truth be told, it had more to do with homemade evaporated milk than any dark escapade from my youth.  (Waiting for four cups of moo juice to reduce to a cup and a half gives a person plenty of time to think about dairy-related things…  do not attempt this at home.)  Unless, of course, you want to spend two hours stirring and skimming and standing in front of the stove.  I’ll spare you the time — get a can of Carnation; it’s faster.

But, I was in the “moo-d” (sorry…) for German Chocolate Cake and the frosting recipe called for evaporated milk, which I was out of — and which brings me to another myth.

Did you know that German chocolate cake isn’t German?

According to Wikipedia, the inventor of “German chocolate” was a fellow by the name of Samuel German.  In the 1850’s his creation was known as “German’s sweet chocolate,” but like many apt phrases and English words gone by the wayside, the apostrophe and possessive “s” were dropped by the Baker’s Chocolate Company — which ironically doesn’t have anything to do with baking (it was named after it’s co-founder, James Baker) and the product name was shortened to “Baker’s German Sweet Chocolate.”  The rest is sweet history.  Now you know.

To confirm this, I must share a story.  My daughter once asked a foreign exchange student (from Germany) if she liked German Chocolate Cake.  (Blank stare.)  My daughter persisted, describing the cake in detail, after which she asked, “What do you call that in Germany?”  To which her friend replied: “Chocolate cake.”

Mythical or not, it’s one of my favorite desserts.  And this is my never fail, rave review recipe:

German Chocolate Cake Frosting

1 c. chopped walnuts

1 1/3 c. sweetened, flaked coconut

1 c. evaporated milk (trust me, Carnation’s easier)

1 c. granulated sugar

1 stick of butter, cut into chunks

3 egg yolks

1 t. pure vanilla extract

Measure and set aside the walnuts and coconut.  Combine the remaining ingredients in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly.  (Watch so it doesn’t scorch!)  Remove from heat; add walnuts and coconut.  Beat with a wooden spoon until thick.  Cool slightly before frosting the cake, “German” chocolate or not.

Enjoying life one dark, delicious bite at a time,

~ Kim

P.S.  No animals were harmed in the production of this post.