Heather's Florida Kitchen

Seasonally inspired easy recipes for the home cook.
Caramel Apple-Spice Cupcakes

Caramel Apple-Spice Cupcakes

Caramel Apple-Spice Cupcakes (Photo courtesy BettyCrocker.com)

Caramel Apple-Spice Cupcakes (Photo courtesy BettyCrocker.com)

Caramel Apple-Spice Cupcakes from BettyCrocker.com are easy treats for holiday bake sales, parties and after-school gatherings. Store loosely covered in refrigerator.

Caramel Apple-Spice Cupcakes
Yield: 24 cupcakes

1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist spice cake mix
Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box
1 cup chopped, peeled apple (1 medium)
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup caramel topping
24 (3-sticks) cinnamon sticks
Ground cinnamon for garnish

1. Heat oven to 350F. Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups.
2. Make cake mix as directed on box, using water, oil and eggs. Stir in chopped apple. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
3. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling racks. Cool completely.
4. In large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Beat in powdered sugar until smooth. Spoon frosting into decorating bag fitted with star tip; pipe on tops of cupcakes.
5. Drizzle with caramel topping. Top each cupcake with cinnamon stick. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon.
SOURCE: BettyCrocker.com

Everybody’s Favorite Chocolate Cake

Everybody’s Favorite Chocolate Cake

Everybody's Favorite Chocolate Cake (Photo courtesy The White Lily Foods Co.)

Everybody’s Favorite Chocolate Cake (Photo courtesy The White Lily Foods Co.)

Everybody’s Favorite Chocolate Cake from WhiteLily.com celebrates CakeFair, which opened today at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Every variety of flour has unique qualities, and is specially made for baking different types of dishes. All-purpose flour is extremely versatile, and can be used for most baked goods, including cakes, cookies, pie crusts, pancakes, brownies, muffins, scones, and more. For a mocha frosting follow the instructions substituting 1 teaspoon instant coffee crystals dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water for 1 tablespoon of the milk.

Everybody’s Favorite Chocolate Cake
Yield: 10-12 servings

Pillsbury Baking Spray with Flour
2 cups White Lily Enriched Bleached All-Purpose Flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup Crisco Pure Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
Chocolate frosting:
2 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Crisco Butter Flavor All-Vegetable Shortening or 1/2 cup Crisco Baking Sticks Butter Flavor All-Vegetable Shortening
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 to 6 tablespoons whole milk

1. Heat oven to 350F. Coat three 8-inch or two 9-inch pans, or a 13-by-9-by-2-inch pan with flour nonstick cooking spray.
2. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add oil, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Beat two minutes at medium speed. Stir in boiling water until blended (batter will be thin). Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.
3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.
4. For the frosting, place chocolate in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high 1 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally until smooth. Combine powdered sugar, salt, melted chocolate, shortening and vanilla in mixing bowl. Slowly blend in milk to desired consistency. Beat on high 3 to 5 minutes or until smooth and creamy.
Source: WhiteLily.com

Coffee Ice Cream Pie

Coffee Ice Cream Pie

Coffee Ice Cream Pie (Photo courtesy Pillsbury.com and General Mills)

Coffee Ice Cream Pie (Photo courtesy Pillsbury.com and General Mills)

I missed National Coffee Day on Friday, but do we really need a designated non-holiday for an excuse to sample Coffee Ice Cream Pie? I think not. This recipe from Pillsbury.com is quick and easy.

Coffee Ice Cream Pie
Yield: 8-10 servings

Crust:
30 thin chocolate wafers, crushed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup coconut flakes (optional)
3 tablespoons finely chopped cashews
Filling:
1 quart (4 cups) coffee-flavored ice cream, slightly softened
1 cup hot fudge topping, warmed
Whole cashews for garnish
Chocolate-covered coffee beans for garnish

1. In a medium bowl, mix crushed chocolate wafers, butter, coconut and chopped cashews. Press mixture in bottom and side of 9-inch glass pie plate; refrigerate 15 minutes. Carefully spoon softened ice cream into chilled crust. Cover and freeze about 2 hours or until firm.
2. Top individual servings with fudge topping; garnish with whole cashews. Cover and freeze any remaining pie.
Test kitchen tip: To make cutting the pie easier, remove it from the freezer about 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Substitute macadamia nuts for the cashews in the crust and garnish.
SOURCE: Pillsbury.com

Hot Chocolate Pancakes

Hot Chocolate Pancakes

Hot Chocolate Pancakes (Photo courtesy Betty Crocker and General Mills)

Hot Chocolate Pancakes (Photo courtesy Betty Crocker and General Mills)

Start National Chocolate Milk Day with these breakfast pancakes that could fill the bill for tonight’s dessert as well. Developed in the General Mills test kitchens for the Betty Crocker brand, the recipe combines chocolate milk, baking cocoa, sugar, vanilla, eggs, and Bisquick baking mix. Baking mixes are a great convenience product for busy households. From rudimentary recipes to gourmet inspirations, amazing dishes can often start with a baking mix.

Hot Chocolate Pancakes
Yield: 16 servings

2 cups original Bisquick mix
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
1 cup chocolate milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
Toppings:
Chocolate-flavored syrup, warmed
Sweetened whipped cream
Miniature marshmallows
Chocolate candy sprinkles

1. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the toppings with wire whisk until well blended.
2. Heat a nonstick griddle to 375F, or warm a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Brush cooking surface with vegetable oil if necessary or spray with cooking spray before heating.
3. For each pancake, pour slightly less than 1/4 cup of batter onto the hot griddle. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until pancakes are bubbly on top and dry around edges. Turn; cook the other side until they turn a light golden brown around edges. Remove from heat and keep warm until all the batter is used.
4. Drizzle the pancakes with chocolate-flavored syrup; top with sweet whipped cream. Sprinkle with little marshmallows and chocolate candy sprinkles.
SOURCE: BettyCrocker.com and General Mills

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies (Photo courtesy McCormick & Co.)

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies (Photo courtesy McCormick & Co.)

The thought of Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies from McCormick & Co. just makes me smile.  These treats are a chocolate lover’s dream with a soft chocolate cookie dough base and semi-sweet chocolate chunks. You can switch out the vanilla with orange, coconut and peppermint extracts for flavor twists. Me? I like them just like this:

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Yield: 24 (2-cookie) servings

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
6 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
3. Beat butter and sugars in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Stir in chocolate.
4. Drop by rounded tablespoons about 2 inches apart onto baking sheets sprayed with no stick cooking spray.
5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or just until cookies are set. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.
SOURCE: MCCORMICK & CO.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Dough Brownies

Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Dough Brownies

Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Dough Brownies (Photo courtesy Pillsbury and General Mills Brands)

Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Dough Brownies (Photo courtesy Pillsbury and General Mills Brands)

Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Dough Brownies are pure indulgence. I posted the photo of the Pillsbury recipe yesterday on my Twitter @FLFreshKitchen with the comment: “So much work to do, but I really want to bake! How a Floridian feels days before a storm. It’s a slow moving train & you can’t look away.” I figure these ingredients are in your refrigerator and the recipe is so simple it is easy to let young chefs in the household assist. Comfort food isn’t just to ease our own worries. These bars will make great gifts for those who help us find the new normal after Irma is long gone. Hide a few away for the people who restore your power and neighbors who check up on you. Be careful. Be safe. And bake on.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Dough Brownies
Yield: 24 servings

1 (16.5-ounce) roll Pillsbury refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
24 large chocolate-covered peanut butter cup candies, unwrapped
1 (1-pound 2.4-ounce) box Original Supreme Brownie Mix plus water, oil and eggs called for on mix box

1. Heat oven to 350F. Line a 13-by-inch pan with foil, allowing foil to hang over sides of pan for easy removal after baking. Spray with cooking spray.
2. Press cookie dough evenly in bottom of pan. Top with single layer of peanut butter cups. Make brownie batter as directed on box. Spread batter on top of peanut butter cups.
3. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until brownies are set around sides and toothpick inserted in center of brownies (not candies) comes out clean. Cool in pan 20 minutes. Remove brownies from pan by foil edges. Cool completely on cooling rack, about 1 hour. Cut into 6 rows by 4 rows.
Recipe tip: Swap out the peanut butter cups for your favorite sandwich cookies, if desired.
SOURCE: Pillsbury and General Mills Brands

Ginger Grapefruit Pound Cake

Ginger Grapefruit Pound Cake

Ginger Grapefruit Pound Cake (Photo courtesy Dixie Crystals)

Ginger Grapefruit Pound Cake (Photo courtesy Dixie Crystals)

Ginger Grapefruit Pound Cake makes an impression at potlucks and Sunday brunch. A grapefruit is a cross between an orange and a pomelo, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. A normal grapefruit tree produces, on average, 350 pounds of grapefruit in a season. Some older trees have been known to produce up to 1,500 pounds of fruit in one season. Florida grapefruit are split into two classifications, white and pink. Each has its own distinct taste. The Florida grapefruit season begins in September and runs through May.

Ginger Grapefruit Pound Cake
Yield: 9-10 inch cake or 9-12 servings

Cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons dried ginger
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, very soft
2 3/4 cups Dixie Crystals Free-Flowing Brown Sugar Shaker
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fine grated grapefruit zest, no white bitter pith
3/4 cup grapefruit juice, do not discard grapefruit peel
1/4 cup candied ginger
Grapefruit glaze:
2 tablespoons grapefruit juice
1 cup Dixie Crystals Confectioners Powdered Sugar
Candied grapefruit peel:
1 to 2 grapefruits from juiced fruits
1/2 cup Dixie Crystals Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons honey

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 9 or 10-inch tube pan. Set aside.
2. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and ginger together. Set aside.
3. In a stand or hand held mixer using paddle attachment, mix butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar and mix well.
Add one egg at a time waiting for the previous added egg to be fully incorporated and mixture regains a smooth homogenous look.
Add salt and grapefruit zest. Alternately add flour mixture and grapefruit juice in 5 steps, starting with and ending with flour.
4. Scrape batter into prepared pan and place in oven. After 15 minutes in oven reduce temperature to 325F. Bake until center of the cake bounces back when lightly pressed with a finger or an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. If cakes becomes too dark before being done, cover cake with a lightly butter piece of foil. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before turning upside down on a serving platter.
5. Prepare the glaze by combining grapefruit juice and powdered sugar, cover with plastic food wrap and set aside.
Using a sharp knife remove outer zest from grapefruit peel. Ensure that only a minimum of white bitter pith is still on zest. Bring sugar, water and honey to boil. Add grapefruit peel and cover with a lid. Simmer on very low for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Brush cake with glaze and decorate with candied ginger and grapefruit zest.
SOURCE: Chef Eddy Van Damme for Dixie Crystals

Back to school with dairy: Kitchen Sink After-School Granola Bars

Back to school with dairy: Kitchen Sink After-School Granola Bars

Kitchen Sink After-School Granola Bars

Kitchen Sink After-School Granola Bars

Welcome to another school year, where the operative word is “new.” New clothes, new school supplies, new friends, new academic challenges. So why are you sending the kids off with the same old lunch? The Florida Dairy Farmers are ready with practical and delicious help for parents and teachers. Milk contains nine essential nutrients, all of which contribute to healthy bodies. And milk is the No. 1 food source of most of these, including calcium and vitamin D, in the diets of children, according to the National Dairy Council.
Every Thursday in August we are exploring how the versatility of dairy products fit into a busy school year. From packing lunches, power breakfasts to easy weeknight meals we will help you fuel up for another great school year. For a bonus, each dish is designed to have leftovers that will help with meal planning later in the week.
Today’s recipe is Kitchen Sink After-School Granola Bars. Here is an after-school snack that is best served with a tall cold glass of milk. I call them “Kitchen Sink” because I first made these in January trying to use up ingredients leftover from holiday baking. It seemed like everything but the kitchen sink was going into the basic mix! With these proportions in mind, you can make these your own by adding other cereals or nuts.

Kitchen Sink After-School Granola Bars
Yield: about 18 bars

1 cup regular rolled oats
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons local honey
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups crisp rice cereal
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pretzel sticks
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons chopped pecan pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with foil. Coat foil with cooking spray.
2. Spread oats in rimmed baking pan. Bake 10-15 minutes or until just toasted, stirring twice. Remove from oven; cool. Reduce oven temperature to 300F.
3. In a pan, combine corn syrup, peanut butter, brown sugar, butter, and honey. Heat and stir on medium until peanut butter and sugar melt. Do not let the mixture boil. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and salt.
4. In a large bowl, mix oats, cereal, pretzels, wheat germ, and sunflower seeds and pecans. Stir in hot corn syrup mixture. (I find it easier to put on food service gloves and mix with my hands.)
5. Press mixture into the baking dish. Scatter chocolate pieces over the top, pressing into oat mixture. Bake 12-15 minutes or until firm. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Invert onto a cutting board and peel off foil. Using another cutting board turn over so that the smooth side is down. Cut into bars and store in a plastic container with wax or parchment paper between layers.

Leftover strategy

  • Chop extra bars and stir into low-fat frozen yogurt, or plain low-fat yogurt for a weekend indulgence.
  • The bars freeze well and make a good offering for school potluck parties and after-school activities.
17 Minute Chocolate Cake with Silhouette Frosting

17 Minute Chocolate Cake with Silhouette Frosting

17 Minute Chocolate Cake with Silhouette Frosting (Photo courtesy Dixie Crystals)

17 Minute Chocolate Cake with Silhouette Frosting (Photo courtesy Dixie Crystals)

17 Minute Chocolate Cake with Silhouette Frosting was originally published in the 1940 edition of “Aunt Cora’s Vintage Cookbook.” You can find this recipe and other great tested dishes at DixieCrystals.com. Use the “Spoon & Sweep” method to measure the flour until required amount is obtained. Scooping measuring cup directly into flour bag will firmly pack flour resulting in too much flour required for recipe.

17 Minute Chocolate Cake with Silhouette Frosting
Yield: 8-10 servings

Cake:
1/3 cup unsalted butter, soft
1 1/4 cups extra-fine granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla or lemon extract
Chocolate frosting:
1 large egg yolk, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons hot water
1 (1-ounce) square unsweetened chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Vanilla frosting:
1/3 cup unsalted butter, soft
3 cups powdered sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream or whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch salt

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Butter and flour two 8-inch baking pans and set aside. (Fitting a round piece of parchment paper on bottom of baking pan is highly recommended for easy removal of cake.) Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine shortening, sugar and unbeaten egg and beat with a slotted spoon until very light (2-3 minutes). Add extract to milk.  Mix and sift flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.  Add milk and dry ingredients to the creamed mixture.  Stir until flour is moistened then beat with an electric mixer for 1 minute.
3. Divide batter evenly into the pans and place in oven, bake for 25 minutes until center of cake bounces back when lightly pressed with a finger or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  After 5 minutes turn cake pans upside down on parchment paper lined surface and allow to cool completely before cutting or frosting.
4. When cooled, prepare chocolate frosting: Stir 1/4 cup confectioner’s powdered sugar into egg yolks. Add melted chocolate, butter and water and blend thoroughly.  Finally, stir in remaining powdered sugar, beating vigorously until smooth.  Reserve 1/2 cup.
5. Prepare vanilla frosting. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add one cup of powdered sugar and mix until light and creamy. Add milk, vanilla and salt and beat until blended. Gradually add remaining powdered sugar. Scrape bowl well. Whip until very light and fluffy.
6. Place 1st cake round on a serving platter and spread with chocolate frosting, keeping 1/2 inch away from edge. Cover with 2nd cake layer. Frost top and sides of cake with vanilla frosting. Thin the 1/2 cup of chocolate frosting with a few drops of water.  Drizzle slowly from tip of spoon on to top and sides of cake.
SOURCE: DIXIE CRYSTALS

Morning Mix Recipe: Layered Watermelon Pops

Morning Mix Recipe: Layered Watermelon Pops

Layered Watermelon Pops (Photo courtesy National Watermelon Promotion Board)

Layered Watermelon Pops (Photo courtesy National Watermelon Promotion Board)

Layered Watermelon Pops is my Morning Mix recipe of the week. The frosty treats, which mimic the colors of watermelon wedges, will be a hit for all ages as an after-school snack or weekend picnic dessert. The recipe was developed by the Cooking Classy blog for the National Watermelon Promotion Board. Every Thursday, you can find more recipes curated exclusively for WOMX Mix 105.1’s Morning Mix here and at the radio station’s website.

Layered Watermelon Pops
Yield: 10 servings

3 1/2 cups cubed seedless watermelon
5 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup canned coconut milk, well shaken
6 medium kiwi fruits
1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips

1. Add watermelon, 2 tablespoons of sugar and lemon juice to a blender and blend until well pureed. Skim off foam and carefully pour into up to 10 frozen treat molds filling to about 2/3 full. Cover with the lid and insert the pop sticks and freeze for 3 hours. Watermelon juice separates naturally so stir it gently every 30 minutes. Once the juice is slushed, sprinkle chocolate chips over the tops and push gently down to immerse, keeping some touching the insides of the molds.
2. After three hours, whisk coconut milk, 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar until sugar is dissolved and chill 30 minutes. You want a nice pourable consistency after chilling, not too thick. If it thickens too much stir in 1-2 tablespoons of cold water to thin.
3. Remove pops from freezer and pour about a tablespoon of coconut milk into an even layer over the watermelon layer. Return to freezer, uncovered, and chill for at least 45 minutes. Meanwhile, peel the kiwis (or cut tops and scoop out flesh) and transfer the fruit to the blender along with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Pulse until pureed. Pour through a mesh strainer to remove seeds and chill the puree for 30 minutes.
4. Take pops from freezer and top each with kiwi mixture, about a tablespoon each. Return to freezer and chill until pops are fully solid, about 2-3 hours.
5. To remove pops from molds, turn tray to the side and run plastic molds under warm water several seconds without letting water touch the kiwi at the top. Then slowly pull from molds.
Recipe source: National Watermelon Promotion Board and the blog Cooking Classy