Apricot Almond Shortbread Dessert

It’s March and I’ve had a tin of shortbread cookies taking up room in my pantry since Christmas. Tonight was the night to create something with them…and the outcome was this:

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Crust:

  • Shortbread cookies (or graham crackers), crushed (about 25-30 cookies)
  • 3/4 to 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all crust ingredients together and press into a greased 8×8 baking pan.

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 1-2 cups dried apricots
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 325. Put almonds onto a cookie sheet and toast in the oven for 6-10 minutes, checking regularly.

Meanwhile, bring wine to a boil in a small saucepan. Add apricots to wine and reduce heat to a simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

Melt butter and add vanilla and cinnamon, remove from heat after about 4 minutes.

Place almonds into a food processor and blend until crushed. In a large mixing bowl, combine almonds, flour, powdered sugar and salt. Add butter mixture and eggs; mix well. Add almond extract. Stir to combine.

Pour almond mixture over crust. Press apricots lightly into the top of the mixture. Bake for 40-50 minutes until browned.

Enjoy!

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At the Stroke of Midnight Pumpkin Bread Turns into Pumpkin Cake Balls

I found myself saying to a co-worker that the possibilities were endless for cake ball flavors. This might have been a dangerous statement as I am now thinking of the possible combinations and excuses that I can think of to make them. Fall is in the air which means pumpkin has stepped into the spotlight. I am excited this fall to experiment with pumpkin recipes, this is the first.

First you will need to make the pumpkin bread. The below recipe was given to my mom from an old friend (I’ve tweaked it a bit), but it is absolutely amazing. I bribed a co-worker to help me move by promising him this bread and another always comments that it is so sticky (I think he means moist) that it could stick to a wall. If you just make the bread and don’t move on to the cake balls, I won’t be offended.

Pumpkin Bread

  • 2 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (if sweetened is used, reduce the brown sugar by 1/4 cup)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 16 oz. can pumpkin
  • 3 1/2 cup + 3 Tbsp. flour (I use whole-wheat, you can use white or do a mix)
  • 1 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. each – cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup & 2 tsp. water

Mix sugar, oil and egg together. Add pumpkin. Then add dry ingredients, then water, stirring just until mixed. Pour batter into 2 greased & floured 9×5 loaf pans (I cut a piece of wax paper to fit the bottom of the pan and grease it, to ensure the bread comes out well). Bake at 350 degrees F. Check at 45 minutes, a toothpick should come out clean when the bread is done.

Now for the transformation – crumble the loaf(s) of bread (I saved one to have as bread so double the frosting recipe below if you are using both). Make cream cheese frosting:

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 oz. butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar (may need to add more)
  • a splash of vanilla
  • a dash of cinnamon

Whip all ingredients together until smooth, taste test and add more sugar if needed. Stir the frosting into the crumbled pumpkin bread and refrigerate for about 20 minutes. Place wax paper on a cookie sheet, roll pumpkin mixture into balls and place back in fridge for about another 20 minutes. During this time, melt a package of white almond bark over a double boiler. Dip the pumpkin balls into the almond bark, place on cookie sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon. Yum!

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Cake Balls

I was recruited to make cake balls for a birthday party and might have decided to go all out. Below are the four flavors I decided to make:

Blueberry Lemon

  • Blueberry Muffin Mix (next time I plan to use a white cake mix and blend blueberries into it, the muffin mix doesn’t go quite as far as I would have liked)
  • Lemon Frosting:
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened (if unsalted butter is used add about 1/8 tsp. salt)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 packages white almond bark

Make the blueberry muffins or cake mix as directed. If making blueberry muffins, bake in an 8×8 pan. Let cool. Crumble the cake.

Make the frosting by mixing the above ingredients until smooth.

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Mix the frosting in a large bowl with the cake. Place into the fridge for at least 20 minutes. Roll into balls and place onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper (if the balls are not forming easily, put the mixture back into the fridge and allow to cool for longer).

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Melt almond bark in a double boiler; I used a metal bowl over a large pot and it worked wonderfully!

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After the chocolate is melted, coat the cake balls in the chocolate, allowing excess to drip off (I use a spoon to help) and place back onto the cookie sheet. Once your cookie sheet is full, return it to the fridge or freezer to let the chocolate harden.

Chocolate Mint Cake Balls

  • Chocolate Cake Mix
  • Chocolate Frosting (I buy a can of frosting, but you could make your own)
  • 2-3 bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1-2 teaspoons of mint extract

Bake the cake as directed, let cool and crumble. Mix the frosting in a large bowl with the cake. Place into the fridge for at least 20 minutes. Roll into balls and place onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper (if the balls are not forming easily, put the mixture back into the fridge and allow to cool for longer). Melt chocolate in a double boiler.

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After the chocolate is melted, add the mint extract **taste and add more if needed** coat the cake balls in the chocolate, allowing excess to drip off (I use a spoon to help) and place back onto the cookie sheet. Once your cookie sheet is full, return it to the fridge or freezer to let the chocolate harden.

Confetti Cake Balls

  • Confetti Cake Mix or White Cake Mix (add sprinkles to make your own confetti)
  • Vanilla Frosting
  • 1-2 packages white almond bark

Bake the cake as directed, let cool and crumble. Mix the frosting in a large bowl with the cake.

This is the beginning stage, the cake needs to basically be in crumbs.

This is the beginning stage, the cake needs to basically be in crumbs.

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Place into the fridge for at least 20 minutes. Roll into balls and place onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper (if the balls are not forming easily, put the mixture back into the fridge and allow to cool for longer). Melt chocolate in a double boiler. After the chocolate is melted, coat the cake balls in the chocolate, allowing excess to drip off (I use a spoon to help) and place back onto the cookie sheet.

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Once your cookie sheet is full, return it to the fridge or freezer to let the chocolate harden.

Peanut Butter Truffles (this is not a cake ball, but it’s the same size and I made it for the party as well, so welcome its guest appearance on my post about cake balls. You won’t be sad that I posted this recipe)

  • 2 sticks of butter, melted
  • 1 cup of peanut butter, melted
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 10-12 graham cracker sheets, crumbs
  • 2-3 bags semi-sweet chocolate

Put the graham crackers into a food processor and blend until they become fine crumbs. You can also use a bag and rolling pin.

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Put the butter and peanut butter into a microwave safe bowl and cook for 1-2 minutes until melted.

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Add graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, peanut butter and powdered sugar into a bowl and combine. Roll into balls and place onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Place into the fridge or freezer for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, melt your chocolate in a double boiler. Dip the peanut butter balls into the chocolate and place back onto the cookie sheet. Once full, return to fridge to continue hardening.

Have fun decorating your cake balls, as you can see I did 🙂

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***Disclaimer***The writer of this blog is absolved of any weight gain due to the addictive nature of the above mentioned recipes.

Fourth of July Cake

This is one of the most addicting cakes I’ve ever tasted…so make sure you are taking it to a party or you may find yourself sitting on the couch with an empty cake pan.

Flag Cake Recipe

  • 1 pkg. white or yellow cake mix (plus the extra ingredients on the box)
  • 1 3oz. pkg. strawberry gelatin
  • 1/2 c. boiling water
  • 1 3oz. pkg. instant cheesecake pudding (French vanilla also works)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 cups cool whip, thawed
  • 1 cup (or more) blueberries
  • 1 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup mini marshmallows, optional

Begin by preparing the cake according to the instructions on the package. You need to be able to remove the cake from the pan, so I highly recommend greasing your 9×13, cutting out a wax paper insert that fits the bottom of the pan and then greasing on top of the wax paper as well before pouring the batter in.

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After the cake is done baking, let it cool in the pan for 12-15 minutes and then remove it onto a wire rack to completely cool.

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The above picture is not what you want to have happen 😦 My cake came out of the pan perfectly, but I tried to hold it and adjust it in the in-between stage a bit too long. I’ve made this recipe several times before and as long as you just put the cake directly on the rack, you will not have any issues. Due to the above, I decided to creatively change this recipe to a trifle since I had committed to bringing this to a party. And honestly, the trifle concept was easier.

For this next step, you will want to either cover the rack with wax paper before putting the cake onto it or place the rack onto a cookie sheet. Poke the cake with the end of a wooden spoon at 1″ intervals. Dissolve the gelatin in boiling water; slowly drizzle over the cake to allow the gelatin to seep into holes. Chill for 1 hour.

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Prepare the pudding according to the package except using 1 1/2 cups of milk. Once set, fold in 1 cup of cool whip and 1/2 cup blueberries (I always add more berries).

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Normally, your next step would be to split the cake horizontally. I have previously done this using floss and then with a couple spatulas and the help of a family member transferred one half of the cake onto the serving dish. However, the trifle concept was much easier as I just crumbled half the cake into my serving dish.

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Layer the pudding mixture, the remaining crumbled cake and the rest of the cool whip.

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Before this step, I had prepared the strawberries by slicing them in half and putting some sugar on them.

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Arrange the remaining blueberries and strawberries to form a flag. If you made the cake version, use blueberries and marshmallows to decorate the sides. Refrigerate until serving.

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Note: You can always change the design on this cake so that that it functions as a BBQ dessert and not just a 4th of July cake.