Orange Poppy Seed Cake

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to the food and trade expo in Ocean City. It was great to sample all kinds of different new things, talk to folks at regional breweries, and just make new “foodie” friends in general. It made a great date day for Jon and I, and I think he had a little bit more fun than I did getting to sample all the delicious beers and cocktails that I couldn’t partake in – but I’m already looking forward to next year!

One product I was super excited to try was Natalie’s juices. They’re fresh pressed, and minimally pasteurized – leading to a juice that’s as fresh tasting as can be. I’d been following them on Instagram for a over a month now, after reading their review in Cook’s Illustrated – but hadn’t been able to find them locally in my rural location. Brandy, the regional rep, said that she’d gladly provide me with some samples to try out – and I gladly accepted!

We met at a local eatery in Salisbury last week, and she loaded me down with all kinds of goodies. Afterwards, William and I went inside and treated ourselves to a little snack – a cookie for him, and a slice of a delicious orange poppy seed cake for myself. I knew upon first bite that it was one that I had to come home and recreate, and what better time to do it with all that fresh-pressed citrus goodness waiting for me to do something with?

This cake is somewhere between a pound cake and a traditional cake – moist and dense, yet light and crumbly too. With the slight crunchy bites from the poppy seeds, it’s absolutely perfect. It’s baked in a Bundt pan, which makes it beautiful to begin with…but then I topped it with a delightful orange cream cheese buttercream for the “icing on the cake”, as it were. Everyone loved it!

Everyone also really loved the different varieties of juice Natalie’s sent us home with – everything from Strawberry Lemonade to Honey Tangerine Juice. I made a batch of lavender lemonade with the lemon juice they gave me last night, and it was so nice to have a taste of summertime without having to juice a million lemons on my own! Looking forward to trying their juices in some cocktails this summer, as I know that’s another spot where they will really shine.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Source: cake adapted from Your Home Based Mom

Blackberry Yogurt Cake

Well, it’s officially spring! Which, is kind of hard to believe considering we just had another snow day on Monday. Bygones! Hoping the warmer weather is here to stay, because we’re all ready for it in this house. And, I can’t think of a better way to welcome warmer days than by baking a delicious cake studded with plenty of fresh berries.

I’ve made a Strawberry Yogurt Cake in the past, that was absolutely delicious. So I took that as a base and substituted fresh blackberries for the strawberries. Talk about another homerun! It was moist and dense, everything that a Bundt cake should be – with the juicy and tart whole blackberries studded throughout the cake. Absolutely delicious.

Instead of a glaze, I went with something a little more heavy duty…adding more confectioner’s sugar to the mix, as well as some blackberry puree that I blended up with a few of the berries. It gave the glaze a gorgeous purple hue that really set the cake off, and let you know what was hiding inside.

Another new favorite, for sure. Will have to try it with raspberries and blueberries next, as I know those combos are sure to be winners as well. Have a great weekend everyone!

Guinness Chocolate Cake

This cake. For me it rivals Beatty’s Chocolate Cake, which really says something. It’s ridiculously moist and chocolaty, with just a slight  hint of malty flavor from the Guinness. Comes together quickly and easily with just a few ingredients – and there is no layering and frosting to contend with. You just pour on a simple ganache topping and let it do it’s thing…hardened enough to stay stable when sliced, but pliable enough that it was soft and luxurious to take a bite of.

A perfect sweet treat for St. Patrick’s Day, but really – I don’t see myself limiting a cake of this magnitude to one holiday in March. It’s just that good, and that easy. I’ve already eaten one piece for breakfast, and am resisting every urge to eat another.

If you didn’t want to use beer, you could certainly use coffee (which the original recipe calls for). But if you guys know me, I’m always on the lookout for a recipe that incorporates beer in some fashion. And this one is definitely a keeper. One I’ll be making again, and again, and again.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!

Source: adapted from Averie Cooks

Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

Caramel. Apples. Cheesecake. That’s pretty much a trifecta of awesomeness, wouldn’t you say? These bars are also awesome because they’re so darned easy to make! A classic graham cracker crust, a simple cheesecake batter, and a can of apple pie filling are the base for this dessert. Then it’s topped with a luxurious caramel sauce and topped with flecks of sea salt.

Which let me just say that the salt really made it. I used fleur-de-sel…the creme de la creme of sea salt. It’s best when used as a finishing touch, and it really was perfect here. But any finely milled sea salt would be just fine. The slight salty crunch on top of the bars was absolutely delicious! I also used my homemade caramel sauce that I always have tucked in the fridge. If you’ve never made it, or been intimidated by making caramel – don’t be! I used to be that way, but after seeing how easy it is and how delicious the results are – you’ll kick yourself for not trying it sooner. And, the sauce is much less temperamental than the soft candies that you eat, so it’s a great place to start!

The husband still talks about these bars, so I know I’ll have to be making them again soon. I was so happy with how they turned out and how beautiful they looked – how the apples are suspended perfectly in the cheesecake? I was worried they’d sink – but they didn’t. I used Lucky Leaf pie filling, which is always my go-to choice when using a pie filling – just because I know it’s always high quality ingredients. The apple filling wasn’t too wet, which I think really helped to get the consistency that made these bars turn out so perfect!

What are you guys up to this weekend? After two more snow days earlier this week, I’m ready for some warmer weather. We’re looking forward to a trip to the Ocean City to check out the Spring Trade Expo put on by the Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association – aka “the food show”. It’s a  chance to sample all kinds of different goodies. I know Jon is looking forward to checking out some of the new breweries in the region, and sampling their products. I think some Thrasher;s and lunch at The Shark are also going to have to be on the menu. Should be a good time! I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Source: adapted from Lucky Leaf