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Chocolate Mint Poke Cake

Recently I was put in charge of a friend’s birthday party. This lead me to wandering through my cookbooks and Pinterest page looking for something fun and a little different. I ended up combining a few ideas and ending up at this chocolate mint poke cake. This is a fun cake which starts with a box cake mix, though you could apply the idea to your favorite scratch cake too. This is more a matter of method than specific recipe, though I like using my homemade recipes and Ultra Gel to create the best possible cake.

As a note the term poke cake applies to a lot of cakes where you poke holes in the cake while it’s warm and then pour something over the top meant to soak into the holes. Often this is a pudding or warm sauce. You want to be careful with poke cakes to use enough sauce to keep things moist and yummy, but not so much that the cake ends up a soggy mess.

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Chocolate Mint Poke Cake

1 box chocolate cake mix

Ingredients for cake mix + 2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel and 1/3 cup mint chips (opt)

1 batch Ultra Gel Hot Fudge Sauce

1 batch Thick Gel Chocolate Pudding

1 batch Ultra Gel Whipping Cream whipped with 3 drops green food coloring

Mint chips for garnish if desired

Process:

Make chocolate cake as per the box adding 2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel and 1/3 cup mint chips. After it comes out of the oven allow to cool for 10 minutes then punch with holes. I find it easiest to use the tail end of a wooden spoon.

Pour hot fudge sauce over the cake and allow to fill holes. Give 10 minutes to set.

Layer cool pudding on top of hot fudge sauce.

Layer colored whipping cream on top of pudding and garnish.

Keep cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

 

Orange Teriyaki sauce

Sometime last year we bought my husband an adorable little Cook Shack smoker. This has been one of the best cooking purchases we’ve made in a looong time. He figures there have only been one or two weekends when we haven’t smoked something and one of our favorites is pork shoulders or butts.

A pork shoulder is a fairly large piece of meat which takes well to slow cooking and smoking. When we smoke this piece we cover it in a sweet and spicy rub and cook it for 12-14 hours. It just falls to pieces and is a thing of beauty. Often we add a barbecue sauce and go for sandwiches or piles of pulled pork, but on the last cook I wanted to do something a little different.

I found this recipe for Orange Teriyaki sauce over on Real Mom Kitchen, and adjusted it to use Thick Gel and for my particular tastes and I really love the result. It was excellent on pork and I think chicken would take to it well as well.

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Orange Teriyaki Sauce

1 Tablespoon Thick Gel

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 Tablespoons water

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

orange zest

1 tsp garlic

1 tsp ginger

Combine Thick Gel and sugars in a medium saucepan and whisk well. Add water, soy sauce, orange juice and rice wine vinegar and whisk together. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once it thickens add zest, garlic and ginger and remove from the heat. Serve warm over meats or vegetables.

 

Easy Leftover Rice Pudding

A few days back we had Thai Basil for dinner. I’m certain that sometimes happens in everyone’s house and we really like their food. Shortly thereafter I had a craving for rice pudding. I  hadn’t ever tried a left over rice pudding recipe before, but figured why not?

I compared a few recipes and finally came up with one which I really liked. I used Thick Gel to go with the rice for a silky smooth finish and I was very pleased with the results. It’s not quite as rich as rice pudding when you cook the rice and use arborio however for a fast pudding which also uses up my leftovers? I’ll totally take it.

Easy Leftover Rice Pudding

2 cups cooked rice

3 cups milk

1/3 cup sugar + 2 Tablespoons Thick Gel – mixed together

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (opt)

1 Tablespoon butter

In a heavy sauce pan combine rice, milk, sugar/Thick Gel mixture and salt and stir well. Bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring consistently. It will thicken quickly as it approaches boiling. Remove from heat and add vanilla, spice and butter. Serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold. Over time the pudding may continue to thicken as the rice releases more starch. I like to eat it the next day with a splash of additional milk or cream and some craisins. It’s also excellent with a dab of whipped cream.

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies with Thick Gel

Today (May 15th) is National Chocolate Chip Day. This whole food holiday thing always amuses me, but the very most when the food in question is something I really love, and chocolate chips are something I really love.

So in pondering a recipe to share for such a wonderful food holiday I went back to the classic chocolate chip cookie. What I want in a chocolate chip cookie is a delicate balance of a crisp edge that gives with a satisfying chew and a soft chocolatey center. Then, just to make things hard, I want a cookie that I can keep over night or freeze while maintaining the same qualities because as much as I love my chocolate chip cookies I know better than to eat the whole batch at once. With all of this in mind I went to work with a few adjustments to the recipe, again. Often I put Ultra Gel in my cookies and I do love what it does, but this time I worked with Thick Gel. I get the cookie I want and a cookie that will keep, all good things in my book. And I’m never unhappy to find another recipe to use Thick Gel in.:)

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies with Thick Gel

2 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons Thick Gel

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

3/4 cup sugar

2/3 cup unsalted butter, soft

1 large egg + 1 egg yolk

1 tsp vanilla

1 bag chocolate chips (I prefer semi-sweet, but if milk chocolate is your thing I’m not judging)

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, Thick Gel and salt and set aside. Cream together the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Seriously, give it 3-4 minutes, even as many as 10, light and fluffy! Add egg, additional yolk and vanilla and mix well. Add dry ingredients in three batches, mixing to combine. Fold in chocolate chips. Now the hard part: put the whole thing into the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Some folks will say as long as overnight. I personally don’t like that and find the resulting dough to be very stiff to work with without getting much benefit from that much chilling. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. I like these cookies big so I use a two ounce disher and can put about 8 per batch. Bake cookies for 12-14 minutes until just barely golden brown around the edges. Allow to cool on the pan for 2 minutes and then remove to cooling racks. Serve warm, or cold, or freeze any option is a good one!

Blueberry Buckle with Thick Gel

I often get asked what kinds of things you can use Thick Gel in. The answer is pretty much anywhere that you’d use cornstarch in the same proportion, but with better results. Thick Gel is a wonderful cornstarch that has a beautiful set. Thick Gel products can be frozen, refrigerated and canned with beautiful results helping you to keep food better longer.

Today’s recipe is a little different though. This is a Blueberry Buckle which usually has cake flour in it. The difference between cake flour and all purpose flour is that cake flour generally has a lower protein content and is more easily dispursed, this is a combination of the grain type and the grinding method. However, with a little help from Thick Gel we can make our own cake flour substitute that give us the benefits of cake flour with the additional benefits of Thick Gel. It’s a win win.

Cake flour replacement recipe:

1 cup of all purpose flour – 2 Tablespoons + 2 Tablespoons Thick gel. Sift well and use anywhere cake flour is called for.

So getting back to our buckle, this recipe uses the rest of the blueberries I had on hand from last blog’s recipe and adds some ginger for kick, all poured into a 9×9 square or 10 inch round pan and cooked up into a beautiful breakfast cake. Well, breakfast, lunch, late night snack…anytime you want a hit of blueberries and tender cake. This is pretty good warm with a little milk poured over it too or a side of ice cream and all with blueberry antioxidants and flavor. Yummy!

Blueberry buckle

Blueberry Buckle with Thick Gel

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup Thick Gel

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground ginger

2 ounces unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup milk

3-3 1/2 cups blueberries

Streusel:

1/2 cup sugar (this is also really good if you do 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar)

1/3 cup cake flour mixture

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp candied ginger, well chopped

2 ounces unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

Make streusel by combining the sugar, flour, nutmeg and ginger. Add the butter and work in with a fork until it reaches a crumb texture. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine flour, Thick Gel, baking powder, salt and ground ginger. Set aside.

In a stand mixer beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. Add 1 tsp vanilla and mix. Alternate adding dry mixture and milk until all in incorporated. Again, this is a quick bread method so don’t over mix. Fold in blueberries and pour into a baking dish which has been sprayed with non stick spray or greased.

Sprinkle streusel mixture on top of the cake and bake for 35 minutes until golden brown. Test with a tooth pick and remove from oven. Cool 10 minutes before depanning and serving.

Cornaby’s Apple Pie Bars and Perfect Pie Crust

When it comes to fruit filled pies there are many opinions about how much pie crust there should be in relationship to how much fruit filling. My sweet husband is a filling man. He wants a thick layer of fruit filling and enough crust to carry it along. I’m more of a middle ground girl. I want enough pie filling to be interesting but I hate it when all my fruit filling spills out of my crust because there’s not enough crust or the pie crust is too weak.

This is where apple pie bars, or other slab pies really, enter in. This recipe takes advantage of the Apple Pie Filling recipe we gave you a bit ago for a wonderful pie filling that bakes up perfectly, and uses Ultra Gel to help give tenderness and hold to a flaky, buttery crust. This recipe cooks very evenly and the resulting pieces keep the apple pie filling in place and are the perfect eat with one hand breakfast! For a lovely compliment try a little caramel ice cream or a poof of Ultra Gel Whipping Cream.

apple pie bars

Cornaby Apple Pie Bars

6 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp salt

2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

1 cup cold butter, cut into cubes

1 cup shortening

3/4 cup water, + a little as needed

2 quarts (4 -4.5 cups) apple pie filling

egg white

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and Ultra Gel, mix well. Add butter and shortening and cut into dry ingredients until the consistency of coarse meal. Add 3/4 cups ice water and toss until water is incorporated. Add additional water if necessary to bring dough together. Turn out and knead 5-10 times. Do not over knead. Split into two pieces and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

When cooled roll out the first piece of pie crust large enough to form to the bottom and sides of an 11×17 inch jelly roll pan. Transfer dough to pan and trim sides. Prepare top pie crust as bottom crust. Fill bottom with prepared apple pie filling, add top crust and crimp edges to seal (use a little water or milk if needed, but generally the dough sticks together really well). Whip egg whites to a froth and brush pastry surface. If desired sprinkle with coarse sugar or cinnamon sugar. Vent top crust by making decorative holes with a sharp knife. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes until top begins to brown. Lower temperature to 350 degrees and bake another 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes before serving. Refrigerate anything that doesn’t get eaten the first night and serve cold for breakfast!

Brown Sugar Peach Pie Filling

This last weekend I was lucky enough to find some beautiful peaches at one of the local farms up here. I bought a half bushel (abt 22 pounds) and brought it home to a happy household. Naturally we had to do some taste testing so several of the peaches were immediately devoured, they were scrumptious, then I got down to some serious canning.

My first goal was some peach jam as I was all out from last year, but I wanted something a little different. So I made my jam with Jam in a Jiffy, but I added 2 tsp vanilla and 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice to each 2 pound batch. OH MY GOODNESS, so much yum! It’s a perfect fall flavor and delicious on toast, or waffles, or french toast, or crepes, or cake or on a spoon. So if you like peach, make sure you pick up a bag or three of Jam in a Jiffy and get your peaches jammed! (This is a particularly good way to save your fruit if you have peaches that have a little bruising or are a little old.)

Now, the rest of the box I turned into bottled Peach Pie Filling, but again I wanted something a little…richer, because really how can pie filling ever be too much? Don’t answer that question please. But I used our Thick Gel thickened Peach Pie Filling, which is approved for canning, and swapped out part of the regular sugar for brown sugar. Oh my holy pie! This stuff is gonna make me very very popular come Thanksgiving! For one bottle I was a little short on fruit, so I added some thawed blueberries and adjusted my thickness a little. So I’m thinking a peach blueberry tart is on the schedule too.

I use Thick Gel in my pie fillings, even though both Thick Gel and Ultra Gel WILL work. Thick Gel has a little bit smoother final set, which I prefer for pies and by the pound it’s a little cheaper. Since my pie filling is done in large batches and must be cooked anyway this means it’s a little more economical to use Thick Gel as well. Just remember that the two are not always interchangeable. Thick Gel MUST be cooked and Ultra Gel CAN be cooked, but will also thicken cold liquids.

So what’s your peachy delight?

Brown Sugar Peach Pie Filling

For seven quarts:

6 qts. (24-26 cups) peeled sliced fresh peaches/apricots or nectarines

1 c. lemon juice (Do not use fresh lemons. Bottled lemon juice has a consistent pH which is what we are looking for here)

water as needed

3 cups brown sugar

3 cups white sugar

1 1/2 c. Thick Gel (2-2 1/2 c Ultra Gel)

2 t. nutmeg (opt)

Combine peaches and lemon juice in large bowl. Sprinkle 3 cups sugar over peaches and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain accumulated juice, reserving peaches, and add water to equal 5 cups. Combine remaining sugar with Thick Gel. Add to juice and stir well. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Stir in nutmeg and gelatin. Fold in reserved peach slices and continue to cook until thick and bubbly. Immediately fill jars with mixture, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Adjust lids and process immediately in water bath canner for 35 minutes (sea level).