Archive for DESSERTS

Potu

Potu is a sweet steamed rice cake that’s a Chamorro favorite.  It’s traditionally made using sweet tuba, a Chamorro beverage made from fermenting (like wine) coconut juice.  Rice is soaked overnight in the tuba then ground into a super-fine consistency the next day.  The mixture is sweetened and steamed into these amazingly delicious rice cakes.

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When I was younger, I usually only had potu when we went to parties or (I don’t mean to be morbid) at rosaries.  My late aunt used to make potu as well.  I remember those sleepovers at her house —  Auntie Frances had the entire kitchen and dining room filled with tubs of soaking rice and pans of potu ready for delivery.  Ahh…those were the good ‘ole days.

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This is my friend, Judy Dillinger’s recipe.  Being away from home, I definitely don’t have access to a lot of home-grown ingredients, tuba being one of them.  Judy’s recipe makes use of readily available ingredients that you can find in almost any grocery store.  It’s also quick and easy, using rice flour instead of soaking rice overnight.

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If you’d like to try another of my friend’s Potu recipes, take a look at this one by my friend, Rose Camacho.

I’ve made both recipes and I will tell you they are both equally delicious and definitely tried-and-true.

Give Judy’s or Rose’s recipes a try.  I think you’ll like them.

Here’s how to make Judy’s Potu.

Events - 017You’ll need to find rice flour that is NOT glutinous.  The label will tell you whether it’s glutinous or not.  The glutinous kind will NOT work for potu.  Glutinous rice flour is made by grinding sweet rice, which is very sticky when cooked.  The NON-glutinous rice flour (the kind you need for potu) is made by grinding short or medium-grain rice.

This is a photo of the brand of rice flour I used.  There are many different brands; make sure the label states non-glutinous.rice flour

I’ve also used this brand of rice flour (the red bag, pictured on the right).  Notice that the green bag clearly states “Glutinous.”  If you’re familiar with mochi, glutinous rice flour is used to make mochi.  Again, for potu, you want to use NON-glutinous rice flour.

Events - 0545As I mentioned above, tuba is not available here in the states, unless you have a friend or family member visiting from home bring you some.  An easy substitute for tuba in this recipe is coconut vinegar.  You only need a little bit of vinegar.  Judy’s recipe calls for four tablespoons mixed with enough water to make one cup of liquid.  I actually cut the amount of vinegar in half because it’s quite pungent.  This is the brand of coconut vinegar I use.

Mix the vinegar with enough water to make one cup of liquid.  I only used two tablespoons of vinegar, but Judy’s recipe calls for four.  It’s all up to you, really, on how much vinegar to use.  Remember, a little goes a long way.

Mix the rice flour, sugar and baking powder with the vinegar-water mixture.  Let the mixture sit for a few minutes — it will get very bubbly.

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Pour the batter into molds, filling them almost to the top.  I’ve used silicone molds, little glass cups and the silicone molds lined with mini cupcake paper liners, all with success.

Place the molds into your steamer basket before filling — it’s easier than trying to place full cups into the basket without spilling any batter.

Events - 020Place the steamer basket into the steamer.  Place a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth beneath the lid to keep the condensation from dripping back onto the potu.

Events - 023Steam for about 20 minutes.  The tell-tale crack on top indicates the potu is done.  Let the potu cool for a few minutes before removing from the molds.  Serve and ENJOY! 🙂

 

Potu
 
A sweet steamed rice cake that's light and fluffy and easy to prepare.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Chamorro
Serves: 2½ dozen
Ingredients
  • 1 cup rice flour (make sure it's NOT glutinous rice flour)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons vinegar mixed with water to equal 1 cup of liquid (OR use 1 cup sweet tuba)
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and let it sit for about 15 minutes.
  2. Pour the mixture into miniature molds and steam for about 15-20 minutes.

 

 

 

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Caramel Apple Cake

Fall is probably my favorite season because of all of the yummy fall fruits that abound this time of year.  Apples are in full season right now, and rather than wonder what to make with them, how about you bake my friend, Vikki’s Caramel Apple Cake?

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This cake is incredibly moist, and the thick batter suspends chunks of sweet apple so that they don’t sink to the bottom of the cake during baking.  You get a taste of sweet apple and cinnamony (my new word) goodness in every bite.

My husband took some cake to work and shared it with his boss, who said this was the best apple cake he’s ever had. (Thanks, Vikki!) 🙂

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This cake is screaming your name…wait, it’s screaming MY name.  I need to make another one.  My family devoured the one I made the other night.  It’s that good.

Let’s get to it.

Whisk the oil and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.

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Whisk the eggs into the sugar-oil mixture.

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Add the vanilla extract, apple pie spice, salt and baking powder; whisk to combine.

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Add the flour to the bowl.  This batter is very thick.  Use a spatula to fold in the flour.

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See how thick the batter is?  My spatula is standing straight up in the batter.

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Fold in the chopped apples.  You can’t tell from the photo, but I cut the apples very small and relatively thin to ensure they cook through during baking, but not too small that they turn to mush.  I used Honeycrisp Apples in this recipe, which I recommend you use as well.  They are sweet, crisp apples that hold up to baking.  The apples were still somewhat firm after baking, but cooked through (not over cooked at all).

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Pour the batter into a greased baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until it tests done (insert a knife or skewer into the middle; it should come out clean).

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While the cake is baking, make the caramel sauce.

Place the butter, brown sugar, and milk in a small sauce pan over low heat.

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Whisk occasionally, cooking until the butter and sugar melt and the sauce thickens.

Don’t make the glaze until right before the cake is done, however.  The sauce thickens as it cools, so make it just minutes before the cake is done so that it’s thin enough to drizzle.

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Drizzle the caramel glaze all over the top of the cake.

This is wonderful just as you see it below, but if you want to take it over the top, add a huge dollop of whipped cream and you’ll be in caramel apple heaven! 🙂

Vikki says this cake freezes well.  All you’ll need to do is defrost the cake at room temperature then make up a fresh pot of caramel sauce to drizzle over the cake just before serving.

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Cut yourself a huge slice of this sinfully delicious cake, serve and ENJOY!

Doesn’t that caramel sauce make you want to run your finger across that plate, scoop up some sauce, and lick your finger?  😉

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Caramel Apple Cake
 
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A super moist cake with chunks of sweet apples and a luscious caramel glaze
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
CAKE:
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1½ cups vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons apple pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 medium apples, peeled and finely chopped
CARAMEL GLAZE:
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons milk
Instructions
Make the Cake:
  1. Mix the sugar and oil together in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, apple pie spice, salt and baking soda.
  3. Fold in the flour.
  4. Fold in the chopped apples.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until the cake tests done.
Make the Glaze:
  1. Cook the glaze in a small sauce pan on the stove, just until the butter and sugar melt and the sauce thickens.
  2. Pour the glaze over individual pieces or over the entire cake while it's still warm.
NOTE: I used Honey Crisp Apples (2 of them) -- I recommend them for this recipe. The apples stayed somewhat firm during the baking; they were definitely cooked through, and I liked that the apples didn't become mushy after baking.

 

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Chewy Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who doesn’t love a good chocolate cookie?  Not only are these scrumptious cookies made with good quality cocoa powder, it’s doubly delicious with the addition of chunks of good quality bittersweet chocolate.  You can use semi-sweet chocolate chunks instead of bittersweet, but bittersweet chocolate gives you a very intense chocolate flavor that can’t be beat. cookies1
These delicious cookies are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. cookies2

Enjoy them with a tall glass of cold milk.  My kids sure did! 🙂

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Give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Chewy Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
 
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Author:
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar (for dough)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar (for coating the cookie)
  • 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup dark corn syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter
  • ⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate pieces (may substitute with semi-sweet chocolate)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place ½ cup sugar in a shallow dish.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream together the remaining ⅓ cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter.
  3. Mix together the egg white, corn syrup, and vanilla extract. Add to the butter-sugar mixture.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder. Add to the butter-sugar mixture.
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then slowly mix in the chocolate pieces.
  6. Using a small cookie scoop (one that holds about 1 tablespoon of dough), drop scoops into the dish containing the ½ cup sugar to be used for coating. Roll the cookie dough in the sugar until it's entirely coated in sugar. Place balls of sugar-coated dough 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 10-11 minutes (do not bake any longer!). Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then remove them to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.
Enjoy!

 

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Apple Baklava

If you’ve visited my “kitchen” before, you’ll know there is probably no dessert I won’t like. 😉  Baklava is no exception.  A bite of the sweet nutty filling sandwiched between crispy, buttery phyllo dough with a gooey honey syrup is like heaven in your mouth.

I also love most apple desserts — apple pie, turnover, donuts, cobbler, cake — there are so many delicious things you can make with apples.

This recipe is a combination of apple pie and baklava.  It’s the sweet, nutty, syrupy stickiness of baklava with the flavors of apples and apple pie spices.

Give it a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

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 Use a total of 3 cups of your favorite nuts.  Because I’m adding apples, I omitted the pistachio nuts traditional in baklava and used only pecans and walnuts.

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Toasting the nuts in the oven for a few minutes brings out the natural oils in the nuts and intensifies the nuttiness.
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Pulse the nuts for a couple of minutes in a food processor until finely chopped.
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Add brown sugar and cinnamon to the chopped nuts.
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The nut mixture smells so good already!

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Peel and core two small apples, three if you want more apples in the baklava.  I used granny smith apples in this recipe but your favorite apples will do.

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Slice the apples into very thin slices.  Squeeze a little bit of lemon or lime juice over the sliced apples to keep them from browning.

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 Now this is the tricky part — working with phyllo dough.

A frozen package of phyllo dough usually has two rolls of dough in it.  You will need one roll of phyllo dough for this recipe.  One roll of dough has about 25 sheets.

Phyllo dough dries out very quickly when left uncovered, making them quite brittle.

Defrost the dough at room temperature then carefully unroll it until the sheets are flat.  The dough comes pre-wrapped in parchment or wax paper, but there isn’t enough parchment paper to completely encase the dough.  Wrap the dough with plastic wrap so that it’s completely covered, then place a very damp kitchen towel over the plastic-wrapped dough.

DO NOT prepare the phyllo dough until you’re ready to start layering your baklava.
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Spray the bottom and sides of an 8×8 baking pan with butter flavored cooking spray.

The baklava is made by alternating layers of phyllo dough, nuts, apples, then more nuts.

Begin by placing several sheets of phyllo dough in the bottom of the pan.  You’ll need 6 sheets of dough for each layer.

Place one sheet of dough on the bottom of the pan.  Spray the surface of the dough with butter-flavored cooking spray.  You can use melted butter instead of the spray, but I’m trying to cut back on the calories from butter.  Butter spray works just fine in this recipe, but if you use melted butter, use a pastry brush to brush the melted butter over each sheet of phyllo dough.

Each sheet of dough is larger than the 8×8 pan, so after spraying the top, fold over any excess dough and spray once more over the un-sprayed part.  Repeat the layering process until you’ve used six sheets of phyllo dough (dough-spray-fold excess-spray-repeat).

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Spread a half cup of the nut mixture over the layer of dough.
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Add a layer of apple slices over the nuts.

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Add another half cup of nuts over the apple slices.
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Repeat the layering two more times. Each full layer consists of six sheets of phyllo dough, followed by nuts, then apples, then more nuts.

Don’t forget to spray each layer of dough with butter spray, or brush melted butter on each one.

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After adding your last layer combination of dough-nuts-apples-nuts, you should have about 6 or 7 sheets of phyllo dough left.  These last few sheets go on the top of the baklava.  Layer them as before, ensuring you spray each one or brush with melted butter.

Using a sharp knife, cut the baklava into 16 pieces.  It’s essential you cut the baklava before baking it.  The baked phyllo dough is very crispy so cutting BEFORE baking will make things easier. 🙂
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Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

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While the baklava bakes, prepare the syrup.  Although I love the nuts and apples and the crisp phyllo dough, I think the syrup is what makes baklava so special.

Traditional baklava syrup is usually made with a mixture of honey and fragrant rosewater, and sometimes with the added zest of lemons and oranges.

Because I want the flavors of apple pie, I’m making a syrup of honey, sugar, water, lemon extract, cinnamon (I use a cinnamon stick in the syrup since I added lots of ground cinnamon to the nut mixture), whole cloves, and a tiny bit of ground ginger.

Place all the ingredients into a pot, bring it to a boil over low heat, and cook until the syrup reduces by half.

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 Once the syrup reduces by half, set it aside to cool.  I poured the syrup into a measuring cup so that I could easily pour it over the baked baklava.

Be sure to remove the cinnamon stick and cloves!

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As soon as the baklava comes out of the oven, pour the syrup all over it.

Let the baklava cool for a few minutes before serving.

I prefer to let the syrup soak into the baklava for at least an hour before digging in.

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SERVE & ENJOY!

Look at the apples peeking out below! 🙂

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Apple Baklava
 
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Apple Pie meets Baklava in this delicious and decadent dessert.
Author:
Serves: 16 pieces
Ingredients
BAKLAVA INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1 cup pecans
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 small apples, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 1 roll frozen phyllo dough, thawed (25 sheets)
  • Butter-flavored cooking spray (or 4 sticks of butter, melted)
SYRUP INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup white, granulated sugar
  • ½ cup good quality honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or orange extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 whole cloves
Instructions
Prepare the Nut Mixture
  1. Spread the nuts onto a large sheet pan.
  2. Bake at 275 degrees for 5 minutes or until you start to smell the aroma of the toasted nuts. Set the nuts aside to cool.
  3. Place the nuts in a food processor; pulse for a couple of minutes or until the nuts are finely chopped.
  4. Add the brown sugar and ground cinnamon to the chopped nuts; stir to mix. Set aside.
Prepare the Phyllo Dough
  1. Defrost one roll of dough (about 25 sheets) at room temperature then carefully unroll it until the sheets are flat.
  2. Place plastic wrap over the dough so that it's completely covered, then place a very damp kitchen towel over the plastic-wrapped dough.
Layer the Baklava
  1. Spray the bottom and sides of an 8x8 baking pan with butter flavored cooking spray.
  2. Layer 1:
    Place one sheet of dough on the bottom of the pan. Spray the surface of the dough with butter-flavored cooking spray or brush melted butter over it. Fold over any excess dough, spraying any dry dough with cooking spray. Repeat this process until you've used six sheets of phyllo dough -- dough-spray-fold excess-spray-repeat.
    Spread ½ cup of the nut mixture over the layer of dough.
    Add a layer of apple slices over the nuts (use ⅓ of the sliced apples).
    Add another ½ cup of nuts over the apples.
  3. Layer 2:
    Repeat the layering process as you did for Layer 1 (6 sheets of dough, nuts, apples, nuts). Be sure to butter each sheet of dough.
  4. Layer 3:
    Repeat the layers one more time (6 sheets of dough, nuts, apples, nuts).
  5. Layer 4:
    By now, you finished all of the nuts and apples, but you should still have about 6 sheets of phyllo dough left. This last layer uses the remaining sheets of phyllo dough (brush melted butter or spray between each sheet).
  6. Use a sharp knife to cut the unbaked baklava into 16 pieces.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Make the Syrup
  1. Place the syrup ingredients into a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce to low and simmer until the syrup reduces by half. Set aside to cool, discarding the cinnamon stick and cloves.
  2. Pour the cooled syrup over the baked baklava.
Serve and ENJOY!

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Apple Cranberry Muffins with Streusel Topping

Apples and cranberries go so well together.  Pair them together in these muffins topped with sweet streusel topping and you’ve got a real treat on your hands.

I made these for a PTA-sponsored Teacher Appreciation Day one year and it was wiped out in no time.  These muffins are great for potluck breakfasts, and they make great snacks for a packed lunch.

Top the muffins with my apple cream cheese frosting (recipe below) and now you’ve got a decadent dessert.

Give my recipes a try.  I think you’ll like them. 🙂

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Apple Cranberry Muffins with Streusel Topping
 
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Apple and cranberries baked in a moist muffin and topped with a sweet streusel and buttery apple frosting
Author:
Serves: 2 dozen
Ingredients
Ingredients for the Muffins:
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (set aside 4 tablespoons out of the 4 cups of flour)
  • 2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 cups white, granulated sugar (you can use Splenda or Truvia made for baking)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup orange juice (with pulp)
  • 1 cup craisins
  • ⅔ cup coarsely chopped walnuts, optional
Ingredients for Streusel Topping:
  • ⅔ cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ⅔ cup finely chopped walnuts, optional (or use your favorite nut)
Ingredients for the Apple Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 box powdered sugar
Instructions
Directions for the muffins:
  1. Place cupcake liners in two regular sized muffin pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl toss 4 tablespoons of flour with the diced apples; set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl cream the 2 sticks of butter with the granulated sugar. Add the eggs, vanilla and orange juice; mix until creamy.
  4. Mix together the remaining flour, baking soda and salt; add to the butter mixture.
  5. Fold the apple mixture, craisins and chopped walnuts into the batter (it will be quite thick).
  6. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling about ⅔ full.
  7. Top with streusel topping then bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool the cupcakes/muffins in the pan for 10-15 minutes then remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
Make the Streusel Topping:
  1. In a medium bowl combine the brown sugar, 4 tablespoons of flour, lemon zest, melted butter and chopped nuts (you can use a food chopper to chop these nuts very fine).
  2. Mix well (you can use a fork) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Make the Apple-Cream Cheese Frosting:
  1. Place the diced apples, brown sugar and 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the apples have softened, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Place the cooked apple mixture in a blender or food processor to finely chop the apples (small bits are okay). Set aside to cool completely.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer. Add the apple mixture; mix until combined. Mix in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until creamy. Refrigerate the frosting until you’re ready to ice the cupcakes/muffins.

 

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