Dark Chocolate Walnut Loaf Cake

chocolate cake
Dark Chocolate Walnut Cake

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter and lightly flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan, or spray it with a butter-flour spray. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat well, then the buttermilk and vanilla. Don’t worry if the batter looks a little uneven. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together right into your wet ingredients. Stir together with a spoon until well-blended but do not overmix. Scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack for about 30 minutes, at which point you can cool it the rest of the way out of the pan. Slice and serve with whipped cream or even in a bowl with cream.

Atlantic Beach Pie: Meringue or Not?

 Bill Smith’s Atlantic Beach PieFor the back story, click here.
This is a newer version of a pie that is commonly served at seafood restaurants on the North Carolina coast. Chef Bill Smith has been serving it at Crook’s Corner and is credited with its revival. He calls it the easiest recipe in the world. I encourage you to go to his website and learn all about it firsthand and follow his recipe. I show the same recipe below, how I made it, along with my comments.

a pie with meringue
Meringue isn’t traditional to Atlantic Beach Pie, but who can argue with this?

For the crust:
1 1/2 sleeves of saltine crackers
1/3 to 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar

For the filling:

a pale cream pie, looks like light butterscotch
This is the Atlantic Beach Pie I made from Bill Smith’s recipe.

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup lemon or lime juice
Fresh whipped cream and sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crush the crackers finely, but not to dust. You can use a food processor or your hands. Add the sugar, then knead in the butter until the crumbs hold together like dough. Press into an 8 or 9-inch pie pan. Chill for 15 minutes, then bake for 18 minutes or until it starts to color. It’s a crumbly crust.

While the crust is cooling (it doesn’t need to be cold), beat the egg yolks into the milk, then beat in the citrus juice. It is important to completely combine these ingredients. Pour into the shell and bake for 16 minutes until the filling has set. The pie needs to be completely cooled to be sliced. If you’re not doing the meringue, serve with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Nadia’s notes: I used a 9-inch pan and that was just right. Crust seems thick, but it works. I baked my pie for 25 minutes and that was just right for my oven. I think it is delicious as it is. My husband likes a tad more lemon flavor, so sometimes I add a half teaspoon of lemon extract. I think this pie tastes just as good, maybe better the second day.

Meringue? Yes. That’s good too. This is a lemon flavored pie, so it lends itself nicely to meringue. This is also a great way to use the leftover egg whites. I do it when I feel like I have the extra time (even though it really doesn’t take long).

This is my meringue recipe:
4 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
a few drops of lemon extract
1/3 cup sugar

Whip the whites and cream of tartar, adding lemon favor and gradually, the sugar until stiff glossy peaks. Do this while the pie is baking. 5 minutes before the pie’s time is up, raise oven temp to 400 degrees.

shows pie with and then without meringue
Atlantic beach pie side-by-. No contest in my book.side

When the pie has baked, remove from oven, spread with meringue, sealing the edges to the crust. I used a butter knife to even out the meringue and make little peaks. Return to the hotter oven and bake another 8-10 minutes or until meringue is browned on top.

Raisin Walnut Pie

a dark pie similar in looks to a pecan pie
Nadia’s all-time favorite pie: Raisin Walnut

RAISIN WALNUT PIE
For guilty pleasures, this is my all-time favorite pie. Comfort food and not health food, this recipe has a place at our holiday table. Similar to pecan pie, this is SO good. I saw a version of this recipe in an old cookbook saying it was a Karo Syrup contest winner many years ago. That recipe used margarine instead of butter.

3 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup dark corn syrup
½ c. firmly packed light brown sugar
¼ c. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. salt
1 c. raisins
½ c. chopped walnuts
1 pie shell (9-inch)

Make your own pie crust or use a pre-made shell. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using a mixer, beat eggs, add corn syrup, brown sugar, melted butter, vanilla and salt. Mix in the raisins and nuts. Set aside and bake shell 5 minutes only, not until completely done. Remove crust from oven and pour filling into shell. Return to oven (with foil around the edges of crust) and bake approximately 50 minutes or until pie is lightly set to the touch. Cool completely. I usually serve with vanilla ice cream, but the original recipe suggested unsweetened, fresh whipped cream (doesn’t THAT sound good?).

Cranberry Orange Sugar Cookies

Cranberry Orange Sugar Cookies
Cranberry Orange Sugar Cookies

My new favorite,
Cranberry Orange Sugar Cookies

For the Orange Sugar:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp freshly grated orange peel

For the Cookies:
1 cup sugar
¾ cup butter, room temperature
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ cup sweetened dried cranberries, chopped
½ cup pistachio nuts or chopped walnuts
1 TBSP freshly grated orange peel or more

Heat oven to 350F. Zest one medium orange.

Combine 1/2 c. sugar and 1 tsp finely grated orange peel in a small bowl and mix. Set aside.

Combine 1 cup sugar, butter and egg in a large bowl; beat at medium speed until creamy. Add nuts, cranberries, and the remaining orange zest ( it might be a little over a tablespoon) and mix again. Reduce speed to low; add flour, baking powder and baking soda. Beat until well mixed.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in orange sugar. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten lightly with bottom of glass.

Bake for 7 to 10 minutes—only until edges are lightly golden. Cool and remove from cookie sheets.

Easy Mincemeat Pie

mincemeat pie
Easy Mincemeat Pie

EASY MINCEMEAT PIE

1 (15 oz.) box refrigerated pie crust both crusts softened as directed

1 (29 oz.) jar Crosse & Blackwell® Rum & Brandy Mincemeat Filling

Vanilla Ice Cream

HEAT oven to 425°F. Unroll pie crusts. Line ungreased 9-inch pie plate with one crust. Fill with mincemeat. Cover with second crust and seal edges. Cut slits in top crust to vent steam. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream if desired. (recipe from Crosse & Blackwell).

Note: I baked the pie in the picture at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes and covered the edges with foil to prevent burning. Chuck and I make this every Christmas.

There are a few brands of mincemeat on the market, but Cross & Blackwell is one of my favorites. Also, some delis carry mincemeat in bulk behind the counter you can buy seasonally.

Cranberry Orange Quick Bread

Cranberry Orange Quick Bread
Cranberry Orange Quick Bread

Healthier and low fat but you will never notice it because this is so good!
CRANBERRY ORANGE QUICK BREAD

• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• Finely grated zest of 1 medium orange
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon fine salt
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 2 medium oranges)
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick), melted and cooled slightly, plus more for coating the pan
• 1 large egg, lightly beaten
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 1/2 cups cranberries, thawed if frozen and sliced in half
• 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional

Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with butter; set aside.

Place the flour, sugar, orange zest, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl and whisk to aerate and break up any lumps. Add the orange juice, melted butter, egg, and vanilla and stir with a spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. Stir in the cranberries and nuts, if using, until evenly distributed.

Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan, pushing it into the corners and smoothing the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 50-60 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes, then turn the bread out onto the rack and cool completely before cutting. Be patient.

Makes: 1 (9-inch) loaf

American Prairie Vinegar Pie

a pale cream pie
Old-Fashioned Vinegar Pie

American Prairie VINEGAR PIE

This humble recipe originated on the farms of the early American settlers. The simple, basic components we all have on hand, creates a surprisingly creamy and delicate pie. Don’t let the name put you off. This is a keeper.

3 cups water
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar ( optional: use half brown sugar)
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp (scant) salt
3 Tablespoons cold vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla, lemon, coconut or maple flavoring
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp ginger (optional)

1. Prepare a 9-inch pie dish with a single crust pastry and pre-bake according to recipe instructions. Allow to cool.

2. In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil.

3. Meanwhile, combine the eggs, sugar, flour, salt, vinegar and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and use a whisk to combine.

4. Pour the filling mixture into the boiling water and continue to boil, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens. (8-12 minutes.) When mixture thickly coats the back of a spoon, remove from heat. This step is important to making a pie that will set up, so be sure you get a thick coating on the spoon.

5. Pour mixture through a sieve into crust to prevent any curdled egg from ending up in the pie.

6. When cooled, cover surface of filling with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight before serving. It takes this pie a good long time to set up so it can be cut into nice wedges, but it is worth the wait! Dust surface of pie with cinnamon before serving.