Mandarin Orange Cake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Mandarin Orange Cake! For all those gloomy days out there, a taste of sunshine comes to greet you in a naturally sweet cake. Did you realize mandarin oranges don’t only come in a can? Actually, you know them by other names in the produce department: “Halos” and “Cuties”. Sometimes people refer to mandarin oranges as clementines or tangerines. Small world, huh? Whatever you choose to call them, their pretty color and ease in peeling make them a popular choice. This cake recipe is versatile enough to be baked in a muffin tin, miniature bundt molds, or as a single-layer coffeecake. Something else to think about. The sugary glaze tops it all.

MANDARIN ORANGE CAKE

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon orange extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

zest of one orange

1/2 cup milk

Ingredients for Orange Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice

Orange peel zest, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray miniature bundt molds with nonstick oil with added flour. Sift together flour and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside. Cream together sugar and butter in a medium bowl. Add egg; mixing well before adding orange extract, vanilla extract, and zest of one orange. Gently fold in flour mixture, alternating with milk. Stir until combined. Divide mixture into miniature bundt molds, filling 2/3 full. Bake 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Prepare orange glaze by combining powdered sugar and orange juice. Stir until smooth. When cakes are golden brown, remove from oven. Cool slightly before inverting molds onto a wire rack. Remove molds. Transfer cakes to a platter to finish cooling. Drizzle with orange glaze and garnish with orange zest. Serve warm.

Rose Petal Cupcakes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Rose Petal Cupcakes! Before I set out on this journey of the palate, I had no idea how to make crystallized rose petals. So when the miniature rose bush in my own yard presented me with perfectly proportioned soft pink petals, I knew I was going to try. It could not have been simpler to create such beautiful edibles.* Next I chose angel food cupcakes, tasting like sweet fluffy clouds, swirled with a crown of grenadine buttercream frosting. You can almost taste the subtle hint of rose water. Is it any wonder the rose is a symbol of passion and heavenly perfection?

ROSE PETAL CUPCAKES

Ingredients for Rose Petals:

24 rose petals, clean and dry

1-2 egg whites, lightly beaten

1 cup sugar

Instructions:

Using a pastry brush, gently paint each petal on both sides with the egg whites. Toss them in sugar, coating both sides. Place on a wire rack allowing them to dry overnight. Store in an airtight container.

Ingredients for Cupcakes:

16 ounce box of angel food cake mix

1 1/4 cup water

1/8 teaspoon rose water

1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Place cupcake papers in each muffin cup. Place rose water and coconut extract in 1/4 measuring cup. Add the difference in water to fill liquid to top. In a large metal bowl, empty contents of cake mix. Add the 1 cup of water plus the 1/4 cup of liquid. Blend on low mixer speed for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and beat one minute longer. Pour cupcake batter into muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake according to package directions 15-20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool.

Ingredients for Grenadine Buttercream Frosting:

4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened

1/3 cup butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon almond extract

3 cups powdered sugar

1-2 tablespoons grenadine

Instructions:

Using a hand mixer on low setting, cream together Neufchâtel cheese and butter. Blend in almond extract. Gradually add powdered sugar, alternating halfway to add one tablespoon grenadine. Continue mixing until smooth and creamy. If needed, use one more tablespoon of grenadine to make it spreadable. Beat on medium for one minute. Frost the cooled cupcakes and garnish with crystallized rose petals. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

* Always use rose petals that are free of pesticides or other chemicals.

Kiwi Granita Siciliana

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Kiwi Granita Siciliana! Everyone knows Italy is famous for its pasta, wine, and pizza. It is also known for its granitas, a semi-frozen fruit concoction that can be served as a dessert at the end of a meal or to cleanse the palate between courses. Choose a flavor that mirrors your mood. Or choose one that reflects the season. The liquid can vary from champagne to coffee. I wanted to combine the melon-like fragrance of elderflower liqueur balancing the sweetness of ripened kiwi fruit with citrus undertones of lemongrass green tea. The results, in my opinion, are refreshingly harmonious. Ease into summer with charm and grace.

KIWI GRANITA SICILIANA

Ingredients:

6 kiwi, ripe

1 cup green lemongrass tea, chilled

1/2 cup St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons lime juice

Instructions:

Peel kiwi fruit and place in a mini chopper. Pulse until smooth; it should appear the consistency of a purée. Transfer to a freezer-safe dish. Add green lemongrass tea, elderflower liqueur, sugar, and fresh lime juice. Mix well. Cover and freeze overnight. Using a fork, scrape icy shavings into the middle of the container until the entire mixture is in the form of flaky crystals. Keep frozen until ready to serve. Garnish with lime wedge.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake! You know you love chocolate. Who doesn’t? If you find yourself avoiding baked goods due to its wheat content, worry no more. This cake is completely flourless. The results are rich, chocolaty, and extremely satisfying for any sweet tooth craving. Dust it with powdered sugar and garnish each slice with fresh strawberries for a gourmet finish. Hurray for Chocolate!

GLUTEN-FREE CHOCOLATE CAKE

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

15-ounce can organic garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

4 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon almond extract

1 tablespoon powdered sugar, for dusting

1/4 cup almond slices (optional)

Whipped cream

Fresh strawberries, garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9″ round cake pan. Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl for 2 minutes on high. Stir after 1 minute. Repeat until chocolate is melted and smooth. In a food processor, combine garbanzo beans and eggs. Blend until smooth, about 4 minutes. Add sugar and baking powder. Pulse to mix. Pour in melted chocolate and almond extract. Blend until smooth, scraping sides as needed. Transfer batter to the cake pan. Bake 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert onto a serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar. Sprinkle with almond slices. Garnish with whipped cream and strawberries.

Blueberry-Almond Coffeecake

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Blueberry-Almond Coffeecake! The battle begins. Will you choose to eat this incredible coffee cake first thing in the morning for breakfast or the last thing at night for dessert? The brown sugary crumbled topping seems like candy, but the fluffy moist cake filled with blueberries seems more like a last course to the meal. Whatever is one to do??? My choice? I’ll never tell. Enjoy!

BLUEBERRY-ALMOND COFFEECAKE

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh blueberries

2 tablespoons corn starch

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter, softened

1 1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 egg

CRUNCHY TOPPING

Ingredients:

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1/4 cup almonds, chopped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease and flour a 10″ round baking dish. In a bowl, gently toss blueberries and cornstarch to coat. Set aside. Cream together sugar and butter. Add flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. While mixing gradually add milk, yogurt, almond extract, and egg. Blend well. Gently fold in blueberries. Pour batter into baking dish. To make topping, combine brown sugar and flour. Cut butter into topping until it resembles pea-size crumbs. Spread over cake batter. Sprinkle almonds over all. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Serve warm.

All the Buzz!

Life can find us as busy as a bee some days, so I invite you to drop by from time to time to find something sweet. Who doesn’t enjoy dining al fresco, picnics in the park, and foods that are healthy? I do. I like fresh ingredients, garden herbs, rich chocolate, and French butter…to name just a few. But I’m in good company. Some of my recent posts have been favored by the “Food Network” on Twitter as well as Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) on Instagram. Come along with me for “Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: All the Buzz! This remarkable journey of the palate is special because it gives me a few moments with you. Thanks very much to all of my guests and followers on http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and moving words of encouragement. What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? It’s as simple as reciting your A-B-Cs. One of my passions is being at home in my own country kitchen. I love to cook, and my husband loves that I do it often. Now more than ever, since I am retired, I relish the thought of creating something delicious from scratch. I adore time-honored traditions using tried-and-true recipes. Yet, I often never think twice about tweaking old favorites or modifying others to suit the inner craving of the moment. Most of the recipes serve 2-4 people, but can be altered in any direction. The leftovers are golden morsels to be eaten again later or shared with others. And I love to share. To me, seeing a smile in gratitude is thanks enough. The recipes you will find here in the next several weeks can be prepared very easily. Feel free to contact me with questions. Now take a deep breath, inhale the aromas, and join me on a tasteful journey entitled, “EATING MY WAY THROUGH THE ALPHABET: ALL THE BUZZ!”

Zingy Lemon Blueberry Scones

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Zingy Lemon Blueberry Scones! Question: What do you get when you cross a cake and a quick bread? Answer: An English Scone, of course! Now here’s an excuse to eat something lightly sweetened in the middle of the day. Scones are popular with brunch or afternoon tea in some countries. They are made in a single-serving size and come in several variations. By adding fresh fruit and a sprinkling of sanding sugar, the results are astounding. Drizzle a lemony glaze on top to transform this beauty into a dessert as well.

ZINGY LEMON BLUEBERRY SCONES

Ingredients:

3 cups flour

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon granulated lemon citrus peel

1 1/2 cups butter

1 1/2 cups blueberries

1/2 cup chopped almonds

3/4 cup milk

White sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Lemon Glaze Icing Ingredients:

2 cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons butter, softened

1 tablespoon granulated lemon citrus peel

1/4 cup lemon juice

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Line a large with sheet with a Silpat nonstick baking mat. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, sea salt, and lemon citrus peel in a large bowl. Add butter and blend until crumbly. Fold in the blueberries and almonds. Stir in the milk. On a lightly floured surface, transfer dough. Form into two 6-inch disks. Cut each disk into 6 wedges. Gently transfer wedges to the prepared sheet; brush with milk; sprinkle lightly with the sanding sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Cool on the pan. Drizzle with lemon glaze. Serve warm.

Lemon Glaze:

Whisk together powdered sugar, butter, lemon citrus peel, and lemon juice until smooth. Drizzle over warm scones.

X-tra Large Chocolate Chip Cookie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: X-tra Large Chocolate Chip Cookie! Here’s to the Cookie Monster in all of us. If you live your life on a grande scale, this recipe will easily become a family favorite. My husband said, “It’s like indulging in a giant Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup!” I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun with a cookie recipe. By baking the dough in an iron skillet, the edges got a little crispy while the center stayed super-chewy. If you didn’t know better, you’d think this came straight from the neighborhood bakery. Fill up a glass of milk and indulge yourself.

X-TRA LARGE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt crystals

10 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup peanut butter chips

3/4 cup chocolate chips

1 tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate mini morsels for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9″ iron skillet with two tablespoons butter. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Set aside. Cream together butter, sugar, brown sugar, and peanut butter. Beat on high for 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla to blend. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients. Mix to combine. Stir in peanut butter and chocolate chips. Press the cookie dough into the prepared iron skillet. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a golden color and edges are crisp. Check with a toothpick to be sure the cookie is cooked through in the center. Remove from oven. Let cool 10 minutes; loosen edges. Turn onto a round pizza pan. Reinvert back onto a platter, slice, and serve warm with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

Unrivaled Chocolate Caramel Treats

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Unrivaled Chocolate Caramel Treats! Do you get weak in the knees over chocolate? You may be tempted once you taste this salty sweet confection. One little piece will have you rolling your eyes in delirium. The crust keeps this bar crunchy, kinda like a shortbread cookie. And the sea salt crystals form a balance that is unrivaled! This recipe has a few shortcuts, so it can be thrown together in a matter of minutes. No baking is required. Don’t hate me!

UNRIVALED CHOCOLATE CARAMEL TREATS

Ingredients:

Club crackers, whole

1 cup crushed Club crackers

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup coconut, flaked

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup butter, melted

16-ounce can of Chocolate Fudge Frosting

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt crystals

Instructions:

Put one layer of whole Club crackers on the bottom of a 7″X11″ pan. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, coconut, milk, and melted butter. Boil ingredients for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; let cool. Form a layer of caramel mixture over crackers. Put another layer of Club crackers on top. Frost with canned frosting, sprinkle with pecans and sea salt crystals. Store in the refrigerator.