Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Baileys: Socially Acceptable after Saint Patrick's

While Saint Patrick's Day might have passed, I'm not done celebrating it by still pretending to be Irish and consuming all of the Baileys. This can be a bit difficult since I don't drink anything other than a glass of white wine every Friday (how Catholic of me), so I tend to get pretty creative with my baked goods. If I can turn anything into a boozy dessert concoction that's relatively low-cal, the guilt regarding empty calories and alcohol melts away (much like my cognitive motor functions after more than one glass of wine). If you're supposed to grow out of a sweet tooth, no one told me. So I'll continue to party on, Saint Patrick's Day style, with this week's marvelous recipe: a cheesecake. But not just any cheesecake. A Baileys Salted Carmel cheesecake. And not just any Baileys Salted Caramel cheesecake. But mini Baileys Salted Caramel cheesecakes. Individual little servings of boozy perfection. Because at the end of the day, aren't we always celebrating something? It may not be Saint Patrick's Day. Maybe you're celebrating a birthday. An anniversary. The sheer fact you made it through the day without throat punching anyone (this is typically why I reward myself with dessert). Whatever the reason, it's always dessert season.
Small, adorable, and full of Baileys. Just like me.
These tasty little handheld cheesecakes are positively simple to make, and, wait for it...under 250 calories. I made 20 mini cheesecakes for 214 calories a piece. Technically, you could eat two and still be eating fewer calories than a slice of any other kind of regular cheesecake. I am nothing if not steadfast in my conviction to make dessert taste amazing and not require an extra hour of Jillian Michaels dvds. In the case of these cheesecakes though, the suffering would be totally worth it. These beauties are beyond decadent. I thought I'd have a hard time not eating them five at a time, but they are super rich, silky, and one will satisfy your cheesecake and/or Salted Caramel Baileys lust (even if you aren't Irish). I found and adapted this recipe to fit a cupcake pan...because seriously, who has four mini spring form pans? I don't even have one regular-sized spring form pan. Rich people and cheesecake enthusiasts. Geesh.
Wait, there's definitely more.
I broke the instruction portion of this blog into three parts: crust, filling, and ganache. Let me take you on a magical journey with my words, people. To make the crust, you'll need:
  • 10 low fat graham crackers (I used was delightful). Pulverize these to a fine crumb with a food processor or the tried and true plastic bag/rolling pin combo
  • 2 TBS cocoa powder
  •  3 TBS Swerve granular sugar replacement (there's zero cooling effect with this type of Swerve, unlike the confectioner's variety)
  • 3 TBS butter, melted
I make crusts in my mini food processor (rich people, geesh). I turned the graham crackers into a fine pulp (power!!) and then added in the cocoa and Swerve, giving a good mix. I finished off by adding in the melted butter until the crust mixture was completely wet.
The color of these crusts makes me wish I could tan. Not Irish, just super pale.
Preheat your oven to 350 and line two muffin tins with 20 cupcake liners. Take about 1.5-2 TBS of the crust and dump into each liner. I used a shot glass (fitting) to smoosh the crust down and even it out. Bake your crusts for 8-10 minutes until tanned but not burnt (the exact opposite of what happens to my skin after 8-10 minutes in the sun). Let these rest on a cooling rack and lower your oven temp to 325.
Mmm, Baileys. I'm not sure how you're supposed to drink it since I hate coffee, but boy do I love eating it!
To make the filling, you need:
  • 3-8 ounce packages of 1/3 fat cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup granular Swerve
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup Salted Caramel Baileys (I promise, we'll add more booze in phase three)
Start by creaming the cheese and sugar together until fluffy. Add in each egg, one at a time, blending well between each addition. I scraped the bowl between each. Then add in the vanilla, sour cream, and sweet, sweet boozy goodness. Mix well. I used a tablespoon to scoop about 3 tablespoons of filling into each crust cup.
Can you guess which pan was purchased at Walmart? Bet you can...
 Fill most of the way full and smooth out the batter a bit with the back of the tablespoon. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until the tops are set but not tanned (I have no reference to my paleness here. Just don't burn the cheesecakes).
I need a foundation in this shade. Seriously.
Let your cooked cheesecakes cool on a cooling rack COMPLETELY before even thinking about the ganache. Pour yourself a glass? of Baileys and whatever Baileys goes with when it isn't in food, savor, bide your time, sing karaoke, whatever. Just don't touch these until they're room temp. Leave them in the muffin tins!
As promised: more Baileys.
Finally, take 1/2 cup of semisweet chocolate chips, and set aside. Bring 1/2 cup of Baileys to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and whisk in the chocolate chips until completely smooth. Don't burn your chocolate. Take it off the burner or face the consequences of bitter, bumpy chocolate. Boo. Not cool.
Chocolate, like my writing, should be smooth. Or something close to that.
Take a regular spoon, dollop one heap on top of your completely cooled (seriously, have I driven this point home?) cheesecake, and spread out to form a nice thin layer of ganache. Repeat for the remaining cheesecakes.
And now, we wait.
Waiting is, quite frankly, always the hardest part of baking anything. I actually put my ganached cheesecakes (still in the muffin tin) into the fridge to set overnight. The ganache sets up quite nicely, with just a minimal amount of tackiness to it, so don't stack these when you store them. I placed mine into two ziplock baggies and laid flat in the fridge to keep. One of those ziplock baggies went to work with me, 1. Because its spring break and at museum, you need to imbibe booze to survive holiday seasons somehow. And 2. Because I would definitely eat all 20 of these without any form of guilt. I was saving myself from...myself.
You can see why that was necessary.
I enjoyed these immensely. My biggest complaints about cheesecake are that their usually isn't enough servings (problem solved) and that I can't just dig in and eat it with my hands (this problem occurs more frequently than you'd think). By revolutionizing cheesecakes to mini handheld forms loaded with tons of booze, I'm giving the Cheesecake Factory a run for its money. These really are delicious. The cheesecake filling is light with a nice hint of Baileys and caramel, the crust boasts excellent texture and smooth flavoring, and the piece de resistance--the ganache--is to die for. It balances rich chocolate and a bite of Baileys beautifully. I was silent for a full two minutes after I finished eating one because I wanted my taste buds to remain locked in flavor heaven. Irish or not, these are a dessert you have to experience, any time of the year. Or day for that matter. You can totally have Baileys for breakfast. In coffee. Or with cheesecake muffins. Dream big. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Time to Eat Your Greens

Not gonna lie, y'all...Saint Patrick's Day totally snuck up on me this year. Usually I've already baked and digested so much green food by this time in March I feel honorarily Irish. I was ill-prepared for how short February was, and I totally fell off my game because of it. Then I was a little occupied with all things purple last week for bonafide reasons, and due to my inherited preference for said color, I kind of forgot things were supposed to be turning green. I'll take this moment to also blame Florida (it's what I do) because the entire region has been green since January, so it threw off my groove. Beware the groove. I wanted to make it up to my extremely (proven by 23andMe) Irish husband, so I came up with a dessert we actually hadn't eaten yet for Saint Patrick's Day...which between my 8,000 Guinness, Baileys, and Shamrock Shake variations was no small task. I wonder if kissing the Blarney Stone would provide me with the gift of new dessert ideas instead of the gift of the gab, which, let's face it, I am totally already shamrocking. Running quickly away from that terrible joke, let me debut my first of two 2018 Saint Patrick's Day dessert entries: pistachio sugar cookie bars with cream cheese frosting!
May you live as long as you want and never without dessert -An extremely (proven by 23andMe) French take on an Irish proverb by yours truly.
Oh yes, they're green. They're so green, they make most green vegetables embarrassed to be the same color. While I did lighten these up to make them healthier, I can promise you it's not through zucchini or kale trickery. As if enchanted by the magical properties of a leprechaun (god, I'm so sorry, but I'm filled to the brim with terrible Saint Patrick's Day puns this close to the holiday with no other outlet), a 9x13 pan of these will only set you back 219 calories for one ample-sized bar (15 servings total). I must admit the magical properties that made this possible were Swerve's two varieties of sugar replacement. And butter. All of the butter.
And a significant amount of pudding.
I found this recipe and adapted it to play around with Swerve's granular variety after testing out the confectioner's variety last week. To make these bars, I used:
  • 3/4 cup butter at room temp (to reduce calories even more, replace with unsweetened applesauce)
  • 3- 1 oz. boxes of Jell-o sugar free pistachio pudding mix (mix only)
  • 1/2 cup Swerve granular sugar replacement
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Optional (but festive!): green gel dye
Preheat your oven to 350 and line a 9x13 tray with Parchment and spray with cooking spray. In a stand mixer, blend your butter and Swerve together until fluffy (3 minutes). Add in each box of pudding mix, one at a time, mixing well before each addition. Add in your eggs, extracts, a few drops of gel dye, and blend well. In a small bowl, blend the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Dump half the mix into the wet ingredients and blend. Add the rest of the dry mix until just incorporated. The dough will be stiff since this is a cookie batter.
And green. Did I mention it would be green?
Turn the dough out into your prepared pan and use your hands to press out evenly. I finished up by rolling a glass around the pan a few times to smooth things out. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. I was in the middle of doing other things (read: not paying attention) and let these bake for a full 20. They were definitely overcooked in my opinion. I prefer a soft cookie, and these were rather firm. Nothing a little microwave action couldn't fix (more on that later), but these bars should definitely be soft, so err on the side of less time. I'd say no more than 18 minutes max if you like a firmer cookie bar. My oven is possessed by an evil spirit that lies about what temperature the oven really is, so things cook much faster than they might in your normal, non-demonic oven. Do the Winchester brothers make house calls for oven exorcisms?
A little less green and "Angry Hulk" in appearance after baking.
Once finished baking, let your cookie bar cool completely in the pan on top of a cooling rack before even thinking about frosting. Did you know that 99% of cooking fails could be prevented if people allowed their baked goods to cool before frosting? That legitimate fact that I totally did not just make up should convince you it's worth the wait to frost these babies.
Ahh yes, Philadelphia, city of brotherly love and cream cheese.
To make your frosting, gather up:
  • 4 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup room temp butter
  • 2 1/2 cups Swerve confectioner's sugar replacement
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 TBS skim milk
  • Optional, but again, fessssstiiiivvveeeee: green sprinkles
  Start by blending the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add in half the Swerve, the extracts, and one tablespoon of skim milk. Blend well, then add in the remaining Swerve and last tablespoon of skim milk. Frosting will be thick, but still easy to spread.
Like buttah.
 You can call it a day here if you're thinking there's too much green on these bars already, but at this point, just take it the extra mile and garnish with pretty green sprinkles:
It could be none more green.
 Be sure to add the sprinkles quickly after you've frosted, before things start to set. Since these have cream cheese in them, I made them live in the fridge to help firm up the frosting before cutting into 15 squares.
 This. Frosting. Dear sweet Lucky Charms this frosting is yummy. I talked last blog about the "cooling" York Peppermint Patty feeling after eating frosting with Swerve in it. I since read their blog, tried a few things, and we've greatly reduced this sensation. I want my cookie bars warm, so I heat them in the microwave for 30 seconds to soften the cookie base--in doing so, heating up the bars cuts the cooling sensation down significantly. Since I wanted to use butter and not applesauce for the bars, I opted not to use half Swerve/half powdered sugar for calorie count. But in the future, I think this would almost completely erase that sensation. Again, it doesn't taste bad or weird, it's just not something you're expecting when you take a bite of a non-mint dessert.
Look at that frosting-to-bar ratio. Mmmm.
The pistachio cookie flavor mixed with the cream cheese frosting is savory meeting sweet in all the right ways. Warmed up, these bars are positively irresistible. You could probably keep these covered at room temp to keep the cookie bar soft, but I think everything is trying to kill me, so I opt to keep a cream cheese frosting in the fridge. My idea of living dangerously is using milk one day past its expiration date. What I lack in edginess, I make up for in baking and sass. My Irish husband is super pleased with these bars, and that's what matters most. I won't be drinking any green beer Saturday because I'll be too busy double-fisting these pistachio cookie bars. There's simply no room for beer when I'm busy turning the contents of my stomach green with delicious, pistachio-laden sweets. I can't drink like the Irish, but I will eat most green things (except for you, peas--tiny little orbs of nastiness). I promise to bring a booze-filled, totally not in any way green dessert to you next week. Enjoy your Saint Patrick's Day! 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!
I mean, I've definitely made greener desserts.

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Cake Fit for a Viking

Fathers teach their daughters many important lessons in life: how to change a flat tire, why you should never date a musician, and the importance of rooting for your sports team, among many, many other things. As someone who comes from a long line of Vikings fans that bleed purple and gold, by proxy, I also learned how to cope with loss, sadness, anger, and bargaining thanks to the birthright passed down to me by my father. While being a Minnesota Vikings fan has its ups and mostly crushing downs, more than anything, we appreciate being a part of an extremely fervent fan base. Since my dad and stepmom were coming down for a visit just a week shy of his birthday, I knew exactly what I needed to do: bake a birthday cake fit for a Viking. And thus, this extremely purple and yellow beauty was born...
Skol, baby!

It had been a while since I made a buttercream transfer (like almost two years), so I am pretty proud of how this cake turned out. Most importantly, my dad positively loved it, and while he usually grins when encountered with any kind of cake (it runs in the family), the look of sheer joy when he saw this was merit enough. I had to work ahead of time, so I also mastered the art of freezing and preserving cake rounds, buttercream transfers, and frosting--tips and tricks I shall gladly share with you on this blogging adventure today. I also tried a brand new sugar substitute in my frosting: Swerve. This powdered sugar replacement cut one slice of cake down from well over 650 calories to a mere 373 calories (14 servings total). I added most of a bottle of Disaronno to the cake and frosting, so this accounts for the majority of the calories. I'm obsessed with yellow amaretto cake and matching buttercream frosting. I'd apologize, but I'm not even remotely sorry.
Pictured: the holiday bottle of Disaronno from 2016 that finally met its end.
I did my usual method of hijacking a box cake mix to make it decadent and bakery-level yummy (we all agreed I could've lied and claimed this was made from scratch because it was so decadent, but I'm a notoriously terrible liar...I'm lazy and lying requires way too much effort and energy). To make the cake alone, you need:
  • Yellow cake mix
  • Eggs called for on the back of the box plus one additional egg
  • Substitute the oil for butter, double the amount, and melt it
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of Disaronno
The recipe called for 1 cup of water, so I used half milk and half Disaronno to substitute and yield a denser, moister cake. I preheated my oven according to package directions and prepared two 8-inch rounds with Parchment paper, cooking spray, and bake-even strips.
They're even purple.
I've been using these for a few cakes now, and I absolutely love them. They really do help even out the cake batter. I hardly had to level these cakes because of the bake-even strips. I soak them in cold water for 10 minutes, wring them out a bit, then fit them to my pans. I pour my batter in, bake my cakes in the middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes, and bam, golden, even bake.
Thank you, Wilton.
 Once finished baking, let your cakes rest in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Then gently remove from the pan and allow plenty of time to COMPLETELY cool on the cooling rack. Like to room temp or below. I then leveled my cakes to ensure they'd fit together perfectly since this was going to be a naked cake, and frosting couldn't hide much of anything (as a woman who 1. Appreciates a good cover-up, and 2. Is incredibly clumsy, this technique is still slightly terrifying in concept). I wrapped each round separately in three layers of plastic wrap and placed each round into a Ziplock freezer bag. These lived in the freezer for five days before we ate them, and no one even knew. Until now, I guess. Still completely soft and melt-in-your-mouth amazing. I will definitely use this technique to freeze cakes again.
This Crisco is also probably from 2016.
To make a buttercream transfer you can smooth out, you need a lot of Crisco. Crisco is positively terrible for you, but damned if it doesn't make a pretty crusting buttercream. I ended up making WAY more frosting than I needed by like twenty ounces, but if you wanted to crumb coat a cake and frost it completely, this would've been the perfect amount. For a naked cake with a small buttercream transfer, I could've cut it down by half. I used:
  • 1 stick of room temp butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of Crisco
  • 3 12-once bags of Swerve powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of CLEAR vanilla extract
  • 5-6 tablespoons of Disaronno
Blend together the Crisco and butter until soft and fluffy. Add in one bag of Swerve, the vanilla, and a tablespoon of Disaronno. Blend on low until mostly mixed. Add in another bag of Swerve, three tablespoons of Disaronno, and blend until mixed. Add the final bag of Swerve and remaining two tablespoons of Disaronno. The frosting will be very thick, so feel free to add in more Disaronno if you want an easier to pipe frosting and/or just really love Disaronno (definitely both). I split up my frosting, dying one large bowl purple, a tiny glob black, and split the remaining frosting, dying one bowl yellow and leaving the final bowl white. Then I gathered up Wilton 2, 3, 5, and 12 round tips fitted to piping bags with couplers to easily change out tips as needed. I outline a very detailed step-by-step with buttercream transfers, setting up images on Parchment paper, tips, tricks, and more here, so excuse me while I cruise through these instructions without reinventing the buttercream transfer wheel extensively.
After affixing my stenciled image onto a clear cutting board with some tape, I used my black frosting with a #5 tip to outline my viking horn. I used a small paintbrush as needed to smoosh down the frosting and ensure everything was connected, there were no gaps in the frosting, etc. I froze this for one hour, which was not long enough. It budged around on me a bit in the following steps, so in hindsight, should've frozen it for several hours.
I came in with my yellow frosting coupled with a #2 tip to fill in the very narrow yellow band. I used a #12 tip to fill in the white, switching to a #3 tip in the smaller grooves. Once again, I used a paintbrush to push the frosting down and rid and areas of gaps. In doing so, my black frosting moved a bit, so definitely take your time to freeze between colors.
Then I took a #12 tip on a bag of purple frosting and slowly traced my circle outline and around the viking horn, coming back in with a paintbrush to smooth any gaps.

After each round of frosting, I held my transfer up to the light. Any areas that appeared thin or I could see through directly needed help with more frosting and the paintbrush to smooth it in.
I finished my purple border, and carefully smoothed as much as I could to even the layer out before freezing this for three hours.
Then I came in for the final touch and covered the horn with a thin layer of purple frosting so that my transfer would sit evenly on my cake and not sink in anywhere. I froze this for 5 days with it double-bagged in Ziplock freezer bags. I removed the tips from all of my frosting bags and placed them into a large Ziplock and into the fridge. My leftover purple frosting fit into a Tupperware and also lived in the fridge.

But not before admiring my handy work, of course.
Fast forward five days...
 I successfully managed to unwrap all three layers of cling wrap from each cake round without (entirely) losing my mind! I removed all my frosting from the fridge that morning to make my cake that afternoon. I prepared an 8-inch cake round with a small glob of purple frosting in the middle, and flipped one cake round upside down and placed it centered on top of this frosting glob so it wouldn't budge. I filled a piping bag with purple frosting and a 1A tip and created a border around the outside edge of my cake. I came back and swirled in frosting in the middle, and used a hot angled spatula (I just ran it under hot water and wiped it dry) to smooth out the frosting layer without applying too much pressure or causing the frosting to spill over the edge/border I had created.
Like a giant Vikings Oreo.
 I took my second round and placed it (also upside down) gently on top of my frosting layer without applying too much pressure. I used my angled spatula to create a crisp, smooth line of frosting in the middle by placing it horizontally on the frosting line and spinning my cake table around without moving the spatula at all.
Super clean lines for the win!
I refilled my #1A bag with purple frosting and repeated for the top layer so my buttercream transfer had something to adhere to. Speaking of, I nabbed my transfer out of the freezer at this point, and centered it on top of my cake before removing the Parchment paper. Things will look very rough and bumpy at this point. For once in your life, this is actually normal. Let your transfer sit out for 15 minutes before coming back in and smoothing out with the Viva paper towel trick. This is like giving your cake a 20-year age rewind (if only this worked on people, too). 
But I'll take that it works for cakes amazingly.
Could be frosting, could be a bag of my blood. A true Viking fan never tells.
I wanted a border to finalize things after smoothing my transfer out, so I fitted a large piping bag with a #1M tip and placed my remaining yellow bag of frosting and purple bag of frosting in it together. I piped out a bit of frosting on a paper towel until both purple and yellow came out at the same time.
I then piped simple stars around the edge of the cake.
Which was fun, festive, and left me with a ton of frosting. May have piped some out of the bag and into my mouth, but again, a Viking fan never tells.
I kept my cake in a cake safe at room temp. The cake itself tasted flippin' amazing, because yellow amaretto cake is still my jam. Now, let's discuss the Swerve frosting. Swerve does this weird thing after you take a bite when things taste perfectly sweet and just right...then along comes this cooling sensation (think: biting into a York Peppermint Patty). It didn't really bother anyone, and we certainly ate the hell out of this cake, but I did think it bore mentioning. I guess because what Swerve derives its sweetness from has this property when it is not dissolved in liquid or heated up that causes a cooling sensation on your taste buds. I think this would go perfectly with a chocolate cake with peppermint or mint frosting, to be honest. However, the cooling covered up the Disaronno flavor in my frosting too much, so that was disappointing. But I was also able to eat a boatload of cake because of how much it lowered the calories, so I'd say all is fair in love and baking and eating said baked goods. I definitely will use Swerve again, but I will cut it in a ratio with regular powdered sugar. Using it in an actual cake or pie where it will get dissolved in liquid will negate that effect anyway, so really this would just be for frosting purposes. Bottom line: Swerve is delightfully strange and a great replacement for regular powdered sugar in small amounts. Other bottom line: my dad loved his cake, and we had an amazing weekend showing them around Floribama. I mean Northwest Florida. It really is the same thing though.
Pictured: my dad about to apply the family principle of licking things to claim them as your own. My sister's favorite method.
As with all family trips, it went by too quickly, and so did the cake. Only two slices remain, and they both look equally terrified their existence will end each time I walk into the kitchen. They're not wrong. But I was incredibly happy to be able to provide my dad with a birthday cake that was next-level Viking decorated. Perhaps one of the greatest lessons I've ever learned from my father was that actions definitely speak louder than words, and being able to give him this cake was one of the best ways I could think of to say "thank you."..for everything. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters. And, SKOL!
Yes, I even have yellow candles. The fandom is strong. And pretty. Could you imagine how ugly a Packers cake must look? ;-)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Pineapple Belongs on Everything

I happen to be a lover of all things pineapple. I am not a pizza purist who has no time for a slice of Hawaiian pizza. In fact, it's one of my favorites, and I refuse to let anyone judge me for trying to put fruit on pizza (side note--dessert fruit pizzas are amazing, and I need to make one soon). Even though I adore the tangy sweetness of pineapple, before last weekend, I had never made a pineapple upside down cake. I don't even think I had eaten a slice of one in at least fifteen years. Back then, my taste buds cared less about pineapple and more about McDonald's and Coke Icee's. Well, they still do, but thankfully, they've also branched out and make me try daring things on occasion. Not that I'd consider pineapple daring, but you're talking to a woman who didn't eat avocados until two years ago. I'm maturing, y'all.
And it tastes way more delicious than I ever figured it would.
Best part about that ooey-gooey, pineapple-y goodness pictured above? I adapted it from a Truvia recipe--so eating it is a transcendentally guilt-free, delicious moment. At a mere 214 calories a slice (8 slices total), you can even add what some might call a "ridiculous" amount of Cool Whip Free on top just to take it that extra mile for few extra calories. I had it with or without, and while I preferred my slice with Cool Whip Free (I have an obsession), this was a damn good cake either way. Something magical happens when butter and brown sugar come together in an oven to form glazed goodness, and I love any recipe that tastes best fresh out of the oven with zero wait time from pan to plate to mouth.
Truvia should just sponsor my blog at this point.
I promise you that this is in no way difficult to make from scratch. I think this maybe took all of ten minutes to throw together, but last weekend was a blur of sadness thanks to my ever-waffling, normally soul-crushing Minnesota Vikings. I will say this cake and the support of my Eagle's-loving husband (seriously, he didn't gloat once) somehow managed to pull me out of the depressing abyss that comes with our annual playoff shortcomings. Crushed hopes and dreams aside, a day in sweats and a slice of pineapple upside down cake had me just right again (with my usual dash of sass and sarcasm). To make, gather:
  • 3 TBS butter
  • 1/3 cup Truvia Brown Sugar Blend
  • 7 fresh pineapple slices, drained
  • 7 maraschino cherries, drained, without stems
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (or you can use oil, but this will up the calorie content a lot)
  • 1/2 cup Truvia Baking Blend
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
    Optional: Cool Whip Free for topping
Start by preheating your oven to 350 and placing the 3 TBS butter into an 8" pan. Throw this into the oven so the butter gets nice and melty, like it's on a fresh stack of pancakes. Mmm, pancakes. I bet pancakes with pineapple would be amazing. Sorry, I'm easily distracted by the endless taste possibilities pineapple can provide.
Mmmm buttery brown sugar.
While your butter is melting, drain and set aside 7 slices of pineapple, 7 cherries without stems, and then dump the applesauce, Truvia Baking Blend, milk, vanilla, and egg into a stand mixer bowl. Give a blend on low for about 30 seconds, then dump in the flour, salt, and baking powder in and blend for 2 minutes on medium-high. While this is blending, pull your pan out of the oven and swirl the butter around so it evenly coats the bottom of the entire pan. Then take the Truvia Brown Sugar Blend and sprinkle on top of the butter. I used a rubber spatula to press the sugar down and ensure it mixed with the butter.
Who lives in a pineapple under a cake? Not Spongebob Squarepants, that's for sure.
Your pan will still be hot at this point, so carefully lay out the 7 slices of pineapple. There will be some overlap, but they shrink as they bake, so it'll look fine, I promise. Place a cherry on top (which is actually the bottom--mind, blown) of each pineapple slice's center.
Oh yes, look at that naughty butter, seeping all over the place and breaking the rules in the tastiest way possible.
Gently pour your cake batter on top of the pineapple and cherries, and bake on the middle rack of your oven at 350 for 35 minutes. A toothpick should come out cleanly from the cake when fully cooked.
I literally have the perfect plates for upside down cake.
The moment you remove your cake from the oven, place a large plate on top of your cake pan. Carefully (definitely wear oven mitts or pay the price) invert plate and pan so plate is on the bottom and pan is on the top. Let the cake set in the pan as the buttery glaze distributes itself evenly over the top of the cake. Thankfully, this is a short period of time, perhaps 5 minutes in total.
Worth it. Look at that distribution, baby.
You should be able to slowly but very easily remove the pan from the cake without fear of ruining your cake. Butter is a magical thing, people. Pineapple upside down cake is amazing straight from the oven, and you can definitely slice into this and serve it while warm--in fact, I recommend it.
But don't forget the Cool Whip Free.
In my haste/football shame spiral, I didn't serve our first round of pineapple upside down cake with any, but it was still definitely yummy enough to give me a reason to go on and keep living despite the game results. Behold, the power of cake.
But you better believe I didn't forget it any other time.
I kept this cake in a cake safe in the fridge, reheating our slices for about 30 seconds a pop before topping with Cool Whip. It is a nice and dense cake layer bottom with the perfect amount of sweetness; not too overwhelming since the pineapples and cherries do a nice job of providing plenty of sweetness on their own. The additional sweetness from the Cool Whip Free was the perfect finishing touch. Speaking of finishes, we inhaled this cake, and I miss it terribly. I can relate to a cake that isn't right side up because when you're as clumsy as I am, upside down is a natural resting state. It's nice to know when you've got two left feet and raging seasonal football depression that pineapple has the power to make everything seem right in the world. Now tell me again why people don't like it on pizza? Because unless you're a Patriots fan, I can guarantee on any given Sunday, you're gonna need something to cheer you up. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!
I mean, I might have to make another one of these just to survive watching the Super Bowl take place in our home stadium without us. The commercials this year better be frickin' hilarious.