Caramel Pecan Cream Cake

Caramel Pecan Cream Cake

As you might guess, I love Southern Living recipes.  Most all the recipes I have tried over the years have been keepers and this recipe does not disappoint!   It is a mix between Italian Cream Cake meets Pecan Pie.  I usually always make this for Christmas and other special occasions!  It is fantastic!!!

Caramel Cream Cake

1 cup finely chopped sweetened flaked coconut
Pecan Pie Cake Batter

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted

Pecan Pie Filling

1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/3 cup cornstarch
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
Garnishes: raspberries, fresh mint sprig

Preparation

1. Stir 1 cup finely chopped coconut into Pecan Pie Cake Batter; See Pecan Pie Cake Batter below

Preparation

1. Beat 1/2 cup butter and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar, beating well until blended. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

2. Combine flour and baking soda; add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in pecans.

3. Beat egg whites at medium speed until stiff peaks form; fold one-third of egg whites into batter. Gently fold in remaining beaten egg whites just until blended. Use immediately.

4. Spoon batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch cake pans.

5. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

Preparation for filling

1. Whisk together first 6 ingredients in a heavy 3-qt. saucepan until smooth. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly; boil 1 minute or until thickened. Remove from heat; whisk in butter and vanilla. Place a sheet of wax paper directly on surface of mixture to prevent a film from forming, and chill 4 hours.
Cream Cheese Frosting

3. Spread Pecan Pie Filling between layers.

Preparation for cream cheese frosting

1. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended; stir in vanilla.Spread Cream Cheese Frosting on top and sides of cake. Sprinkle top and sides with toasted pecans and toasted coconut. Garnish, if desired.

Chicken Cannelloni

I had forgotten how much I loved this dish.  The recipe came from the 1972 Southern Living Party Cookbook.  I was only in my mid-twenties when I decided I was going to tackle this Italian dinner for 8!.  Well it was quite the challenge for this young mother of two, not to mention how expensive the ingredients were.  I kept thinking to myself, what if I mess this up, I have no grocery money left!The first attempt was fairly good, although I didn’t cook my flour long enough to “cook the flour taste” out! But boy was I proud of myself!  I have fixed it many many times since then I am proud to say that it turns out beautifully every time.  I love to serve extra sauce with the cannelloni even though it so rich you don’t need much!  The prosciutto in the filling makes this dish so don’t scrimp!1 – 4- 41/2 pound hen  Cooked and de-boned
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
4 T green onions chopped
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
4 large slices of cooked ham, fat trimmed, Italian prosciutto preferably
1 stick butter (no substitutes)
8-10 tbsp flour
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup half and half
3 cups grated Swiss cheese
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
2 pkgs large egg roll wrappers or pasta wraps
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Mushroom Sauce:  Heat butter in heavy dutch oven.  Add the green onions and saute a few minutes, stirring all the while.  add mushrooms and continue cooking and stirring for 2 minutes.  Add flour.  Cook and stir for five minutes.  Gradually add broth,  and half and half, stirring until smooth.  Add cream and cook until thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in cheese, salt and pepper. Reserve 1-1 1/2cup of sauce for the filling

Filling: Boil chicken until done and tender.  Run the chicken and ham through the food processor.  Add 1 cup of the mushroom sauce.  The mixture should be moist though not runny.  Add more sauce if needed and check seasonings. Add nutmeg and parsley.  Check seasonings.

To assemble the dish: Spoon about 1/3 of remaining mushroom sauce in bottom of 13×9 casserole. Then spoon about 2 Tablespoons of the filling on each of the large egg roll or won ton wrappers square along bottom edge, then roll as tightly as possible and lay seam side down in a single layer in sauce. Cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with grated mozzarella and grated Parmesan.  Bake 350 for 30-45 minutes.

My Go To Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala is an Italian dish made from chicken cutlets, mushrooms, and Marsala wine. The chicken is coated in flour, briefly sauteed, and then removed from the pan, which is then used to make a Marsala reduction sauce.

Marsala wine is Italy’s most famous version of fortified wine, hailing from Italy’s sunny southern region, Marsala is an ancient city on the coast of Sicily. Like its other fortified cousins – Port, Sherry and Madeira, Marsala is a higher alcohol fortified wine (usually around 17- 20%) that is available in both sweet or dry variations. While Marsala wine is often recognized more for its use in various cooking and culinary combinations than its sipping status, this has not always been the case

Though there are other ingredients that you can substitute for Marsala wine in this dish to achieve something similar, it is impossible to really replicate the taste without using real Marsala wine. If that is hard to find in your area, you could substitute sherry or even just use dry white wine and chicken broth. The dish won’t be Chicken Marsala, but you can create something delicious nonetheless. The version of Chicken Marsala that I made uses Marsala wine, butter and chicken stock to create a delicious sauce. However, you can also add a little heavy cream to the sauce if you wish to make it even creamier and more decadent.

This is an alternative to pounding out your chicken breasts.  Using a very sharp knife cut the chicken breast in half.  Some grocery stores carry thin chicken breasts although they cost more per pound.  Most butchers will  cut your chicken breasts for you.   I sometime use chicken tenders and put them in a ziploc bag and gently pound them with a meat mallet until they are thin.
I add my seasonings directly to my flour and mix well.  Pat your chicken dry
and dredge in the flour mixture.
Using a combination of EEOV and butter help the chicken to brown nicely.
I like Baby Bella mushrooms, but use what you like.  Some people use shallot instead of onion,
but I prefer the taste of  the sweet yellow onion in this dish.  And of course garlic.
Feel free to add more or less according to your taste
This is a sweet Marsala.  It is amber in color.  Some chefs will tell you that you should not use anything but
an imported Marsala for this dish because the only place that the grapes are grown for Marsala are in Sicily.  I’m not sure if that is right or wrong.  Some of my research said that the grapes were brought here in the 1800’s when Americans became taken with Marsala, Port and Brandy.  I think it is a matter of taste.  The imported Marsala Lombordi has a much darker color and fuller body.  Cost wise is only a few dollars more a bottle.  Make sure you let the alcohol cook off the sauce before adding the broth.  The easiest way to do this is to smell!  Yes, just give it a whiff! (and about 2 minutes)
This is my secret weapon to finishing my sauce to give it that smoothness and thickening.   Using a fork incorporate 1 T of flour in 2 T of  softened butter,  When sauce is finished and you have removed the chicken, take the pan off the heat and add butter mixture, whisking until smooth.
Your sauce will be fantastic!!
The finished dish.  The chicken just falls apart!!  This is my go to Chicken Marsala.
Easy, delicious and stunning enough to serve for company!

My Go To Chicken Marsala

Serves 4-

Ingredients:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts  Pounded to 1/4 inch thick  (see my note above)
Rosemary Sea Salt about 2 tsp or to taste
Fresh ground pepper – 1 tsp or to taste
1 tsp oregano

1 1/2 cup flour
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
6 ounces baby bella mushrooms sliced
1 Tablespoons of minced garlic
1/2 cup finely minced onion
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter softened with 1 T of flour
2 tablespoons of fresh snipped parsley

Process:
Pound the chicken out to about 1/4 inch thickness. Season with salt, pepper and oregano.
Put the flour on a plate. Dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pan over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, just until the chicken is golden brown. Remove the chicken from the pan and put on a plate. Cover to keep warm.

Saute onion and mushrooms and garlic, stirring occasionally, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated. Add Marsala and cook mixture, stirring, until Marsala is almost evaporated  (about 2 minutes).  Be sure to scrape the bits off the bottom of the pan so you get all the flavor in your sauce.  Add broth and chicken with any juices that have accumulated on plate and simmer, turning chicken once, until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken with tongs to a platter.

Remove skillet from heat and stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter that has been incorporated with the flour  stirring until butter is just incorporated  This process finishes the sauce with a glossy and smooth texture. Spoon mushroom sauce around chicken and sprinkle with parsley.

Serve hot with pasta.

The Mother Lode Brownie

The Mother Lode.  I think I must have made over 5000 of these brownies in my restaurant days.  Of course I didn’t do the 9X9 size, we did the full sheet size, usually 4 full sheets at a time.  Lots of Mother Lode in these brownies!!

1 package Duncan Hines Brownie Mix
1 can Nestle La Lechera Dulce de Leche, found in Hispanic isle*
1 1/2 cups miniature chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup macadamia nut, chopped
1 cup pecans, chopped

Mix brownies accd to package directions.  Spread into 9×9 inch pan that the bottom has been sprayed with pam.  Bake according to package directions.  Remove from oven and cool.  Spread the can of La Lechera on top of the brownies.  Then sprinkle the rest of the toppings over evenly.  Gently press them into the caramel topping.  Let sit at least for 2 hours before cutting.
Notes: If you want to make your Dulce de Leche, which we did, take sweetened condensed milk and put in a pot of boiling water making sure that there is always over an inch of water above the cans.  Continue to boil for three hours.  Remove carefully. and let sit until cool.  Voila, instant Dulce de Leche!!  Yummmmmm.

mother lode brownies

 You can also substitute the pecans and macadamia for nuts of your choice, and you can also use whatever kind of chips you like.  Just make sure they are good quality!  Enjoy!!!