Friday, December 28, 2012

Italian Rainbow Cookie Cake

This is hands down my all time favorite cake.  It has always been my favorite cookie and the cake tastes just like the cookie.  I've had these since I was probably 10 years old. There would always be one or two of them added to an assortment of cookies that my uncle would get from a local bakery.  We'd have them on Sunday afternoons after we had our weekly macaroni and meatball dinner at my grandparents home.  My cousin Bobbie and I both love them so we would be waiting anxiously for my uncle to open the box so we could make sure we got our cookie....

I made this cake especially for my middle son Brandon this Christmas.  He loves these cookies just as much as I do.  I surprised him with this cake. He thought it was just a chocolate cake and the expression on his face was priceless when I slowly cut a slice of it and pulled the slice away from the cake.  He dug right in and gave me a thumbs up sign.....said it was "great.....the best cake ever."  Did that make my Christmas? You bet it did!!!!!  I found this on Joanne's food blog and even frantically emailed her while I was making the cake. I was so nervous since I never worked with almond paste before or even much with food coloring for that matter.  The almond paste was a bit of work to grate but thankfully any larger clumps of it did bake right into the cake so there were no clumps.  Only the delicious almond flavor!  Thank you so much Joanne for a delicious cake that I know will always be my favorite!!!

          3 sticks butter, softened
              1 1/2 cups sugar    
              6 large eggs
              12 oz almond paste, grated
              1 tbsp pure almond extract
              3 cups AP flour, sifted
              3 tsp baking powder
              red, green and yellow coloring gels or liquid coloring 
              1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
              1/4 cup apricot preserves
              1 cup heavy cream
              12 oz semisweet chocolate (I used chocolate chips)


  1. Grease three 9-inch cake pans and line with a round of parchment paper on the bottom.
  2. In the base of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs and continue to beat for 3 more minutes. Add the grated almond paste and almond extract and beat until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder then slowly add to the almond paste batter and mix until combined.
  4. Separate the mixture evenly into three bowls. Dye each bowl a different shade (one green, one yellow, one red).
  5. Pour each color of the mixture into individual pans making sure to smooth out the top. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack. Remove the parchment paper and let cool completely.
  6. While the cake is cooling, prepare the ganache by heating 1 cup of heavy cream in a small saucepan just until bubbles start to form around the edge. Turn off the heat and pour over the chocolate in a large bowl. Stir continuously until melted completely and smooth. Let cool to room temperature.
  7. Start with the pink layer of the cake and spread with the raspberry jam until it nearly reaches the edges of the cake. Top with the yellow cake. Spread this with the apricot preserves. Top with the final green layer.
  8. Use a spoon to pour the ganache over the cake, using an offset spatula to even the sides and make sure the cake is completely covered. Use as much ganache as you need. Let sit at room temperature in a cool spot for 1-2 hours until completely set.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sugar Cookie and a Standby Cookie

Well I'm just about done with my Christmas cookies.  I'm baking a special cake tomorrow so I made fewer cookies this year.  I also had a cookie recipe fail....which is not good this time of year!  I've found that over the years I can always count on my sugar cookies to come out well. I've posted the recipe before and want to share it again.  It's never let me down and it's a family favorite.  Just click here for the recipe.

Now since I had a cookie fail and needed to make another cookie that was delicious yet simple and one that everyone would like I chose Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookies.  You can find that recipe here. It starts with a cake mix so it is super simple.  Great for an emergency cookie too!!! I thought it would be a good idea to post a great stand by cookie for any cookie recipes that didn't turn out for anyone.  This works for me...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Orange Ricotta Pound Cake

This is another recipe that I spied on Pinterest and just had to make.  Simple and flavorful.  I used clementines instead of oranges since they are so easy to find this time of year.  The cake is nice and moist from the ricotta and just perfect with the orange flavor.
I am still trying to decide which cookies to make for Christmas this year.  I just love sugar cookies but they are such a pain to cut out.  My favorite cookies are Italian Rainbow cookies. Never made them but I am planning on making an Italian Rainbow Cake this year that I found on Joanne's food blog last year. I am going to try this and I hope it comes out looks delicious!!!! 

3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups cake flour (I used all-purpose)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups plus 1 table spoon granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 orange, zested (I used two clementines)
2 tablespoons amaretto (I used orange juice)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan with butter (grease it very well). In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to blend.
2. Using a mixer, cream the butter, ricotta and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the machine running, add the eggs 1 at a time. Add the vanilla, zest and alcohol until combined. Add the dry ingredients, a small amount at a time, until just incorporated.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, 45 to 50 minutes (about 35 minutes for mini pans). Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Baked Ziti (Pioneer Woman)

I just made this the other night and it is without a doubt my new favorite baked ziti recipe.  I make baked ziti quite often since it's one of my favorites. Especially for goes a long way.  I have made several versions but for whatever reason I REALLY, REALLY like this one best.  It's not too cheesy. I don't like too much cheese. It can get overpowering. This one also uses a mixture of meat. Ground beef and sausage. I'm sure the sausage adds lots of extra flavor to it.  I love Pioneer Woman's recipes. They have always turned out well for me. As far as I'm concerned they are foolproof.  I mean, you not only have the recipe but you have the pictures at her site that will guide you every step of the way.  This doesn't mean I won't mess up....I mess up easily. It just means that the odds of this coming out good are with me and not against me!!!!!  I met Ree Drummond at the book signing of her first cookbook about 2 years ago.  She is one sweet lady. I'm glad she has had lots of success.  Have you ever watched her show on the Food Network?  Good show.
Anyhow, try this recipe if you are in the mood for Italian food.....this is really good if you need a tasty, easy dish to bring to a potluck or for company. Enjoy!!!!

■2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
■3 cloves Garlic, Minced
■1 whole Large Onion, Diced
■1 pound Italian Sausage
■1 pound Ground Beef
■1 can (28 Ounce Can) Whole Tomatoes, With Juice
■2 cans (14.5 Ounce) Tomato Sauce Or Marinara Sauce
■2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
■1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
■Salt And Pepper, to taste
■16 ounces, weight Ziti Or Mostaciolli, Cooked Until Not Quite Al Dente
■1 tub (15 Ounce) Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
■1-1/2 pound Mozzarella Cheese, Grated
■1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
■1 whole Egg
■Fresh Minced Parsley

Preparation Instructions
Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for several minutes, or until starting to soften. Add Italian sausage and ground beef and cook until browned. Drain off fat, leaving a bit behind for flavor and moisture.
Add tomatoes, tomato juice, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Stir and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. After that time, remove 3 to 4 cups of the sauce to a different bowl to cool down.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, 2 cups of the grated mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, and salt and pepper. Stir together just a couple of times (do not mix completely).
Drain the pasta and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking and cool it down. Pour it into the bowl with the cheese mixture and toss to slightly combine (there should still be large lumps.) Add the cooled meat sauce and toss to combine.
Add half the coated pasta to a large casserole dish or lasagna dish. Spoon half of the remaining sauce over the top, then top with half the remaining mozzarella cheese. Repeat with another layer of the coated pasta, the sauce, and the mozzarella.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbling. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.
(Sprinkle chopped parsley over the pasta before serving!)