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Monthly Archives: February 2015

Two Sisters, Serial #33 and Pinwheel Cake

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Drum roll, please . . . .

(Is your computer screen shaking? Your tablet vibrating?)

It’s Reading and Recipes 100th post!!!!!!


Phew! Glad I got that out of my system. Now maybe I can concentrate on writing this intro.

For our 100th post not only are we going to have a celebration cake in confetti colors, but it’s going to be a cake in a revolutionary design. Instead of a layer cake or cupcakes or sheet cake, we’re going to do a thin rectangular cake, like for a jelly roll. But instead of coating this thin cake with jelly or whipped cream, we’re going to use a regular buttercream frosting (with some sprinkles added for the confetti effect) then roll it into a long tube–a cake roll. But when you slice this cake roll, the individual serving looks like a pinwheel. Thus the name–Pinwheel Cake!

This Pinwheel Cake has all the normal components and richness and flavors of a regular cake but in a shape that’s unique, easy to slice, easy to serve and easy to store, either in its entirety (just slide the whole cake into a one-gallon zipper bag) or in individual servings (in sandwich bags) for carrying in a lunch box or cooler–or even in a purse! Don’t try that with a regular cake! But with our Pinwheel Cake–no problem! (You think I’d be good in one of those infomercials?)

And while we used a vanilla cake with vanilla frosting for our 100th celebration Pinwheel Cake, there’s no reason this revolutionary cake design wouldn’t work for different flavors of cakes and frostings. Just be sure to keep the cake fine-grained and dense, so that it will roll without cracking, and the frosting fairly thick so it won’t run out of the roll or soak into the layers too much. Then go to town and have some fun!

The sky is the limit–for your creativity and for Reading and Recipes: 100 posts and just getting started!

celebration cake roll

Pinwheel Cake

For the cake:

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

sprinkles, optional

1 egg white

For the frosting:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon milk


mini cake roll

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a 7×11 inch baking pan with parchment paper, and grease the parchment paper. Set pan aside.

With a stand mixer or handheld mixer, beat the whole eggs, egg yolk, and sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture becomes a very pale yellow, or about 3-4 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. Gently fold in the flour and cornstarch until well incorporated. Add the sprinkles, if using, and fold into the batter until evenly distributed. In a clean bowl, beat the egg white until you achieve stiff peaks. Fold the egg white into the cake batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 8-9 minutes, or until golden brown and springs back when touched. Sprinkle a clean towel with powdered sugar. As soon as you take the cake out of the oven, invert it onto the powdered sugar towel. Remove the parchment paper and sprinkle the other side of the cake with powdered sugar. Gently and slowly roll the cake with the towel; allow to cool completely on the counter while the cake is rolled.

Meanwhile, make the frosting by beating the butter until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar, and beat into the butter. Add the vanilla and milk, if needed, until frosting is smooth and you reach a desired consistency. Lastly, mix in sprinkles. Unroll the cake and frost one side with the buttercream. Re-roll the cake, put the cake on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until ready to serve. When you are ready to serve the cake, sprinkle the top with a little more powdered sugar or sprinkles.

Makes 1 mini cake roll.

celebration mini roll cake

{Adapted from Roxana’s Home Baking}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #33 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #33, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #33, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters, Serial #32 and Brown Sugar Nut Shortbread

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So we’ve been having a little fun the last few weeks, trying out some rich and flashy desserts. Weren’t those Molten Lava Cakes something? The Nutella-stuffed Muffins? The Mint Brownie Bites? Ahh, the memories send chills up and down my spine (or maybe that’s a cold draft coming in around the door).

But now it’s time to come back down to earth. Can’t stay in the stratosphere all the time.

And coming down to earth at R&R means shortbread cookies, that tried and true basic cookie from way back. But we’re going to soften our return to earth just a tad by jazzing up the basic shortbread recipe. Instead of white sugar we’re using brown sugar, and we’re going to add finely ground nuts to the flour mixture, in effect mixing nut flour with the wheat flour. The result is our Brown Sugar Nut Shortbread, a new twist on an old theme.

And if you’re still enamored of the chocolate from last week’s Molten Cakes (and let’s face it, who isn’t still enamored of that luscious treat–too bad our Valentine’s date didn’t have the same staying power!), then you can further jazz up these cookies by doing what we did and dipping them in a little melted chocolate (are you beginning to detect a theme–or is it an addiction–in our recent recipes? got to get through this awful winter somehow!) and adding some chopped nuts on top.

And suddenly our back to earth cookie isn’t quite so back to earth. Well, like I said, we’re looking to ease your transition back to reality. Now if this winter would just ease off a little bit, we’ll be all set.

And if it doesn’t, just draw the blinds and click on one of the story links below. That will carry you away to a different place and time–no snow or ice out there on Shawnituck Island with Brooke and Leah.

shortbread cookiesBrown Sugar Nut Shortbread

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup nut pieces*

pinch of salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

brown sugar nut shortbread

To a food processor, add the flour, nuts, and salt. Pulse ingredients until they become a fine powder. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until very smooth and creamy. Stir in the flour mixture until all ingredients are well incorporated. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour.

Once the dough has been refrigerated, preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with a Silpat mat or parchment paper and set aside. Place the ball of dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Using a small cookie cutter (about 1 inch wide), cut dough into shapes. Place cookies on prepared cookie sheet.

Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes, or until they just start to turn golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. If desired, drizzle cookies with melted chocolate and garnish with chopped nuts.

Makes about 10 cookies.

*Pecans are the traditional nut used in shortbread cookies; however, any nut can be used. I used walnuts in this recipe, but you can also use almonds, macadamia nuts, or hazelnuts. shortbread

{Adapted from The Silver Palate}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #32 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #32, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #32, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters, Serial #31 and Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes

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Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Oops–sorry! I saw the recipe and the pictures and got so excited I put the end of my intro at the beginning.

What I really meant to say at the beginning is that we’re coming up on a certain holiday that seems to grow in importance every year (as in: if you don’t know what I’m talking about and don’t have a super hot date all lined up for this certain holiday that’s going descend on us this weekend, then you must be a Double-L Loser).

Well, the heck with that!

At R&R we’ve got you covered rain or shine, snow or ice, date or no date, deal or no deal (how’d that get on the list?). This Molten Chocolate Lava Cake recipe is the stuff–I mean, take me for a ride over the moon and back delicious!

And here’s the best part (whisper, whisper)–it makes two servings.

That means if you by choice, alignment of the stars, religious observance, or your dog’s birthday don’t have a “friend” who has agreed to keep you company on a certain holiday this weekend that will go unnamed to protect the innocent, then you get to eat both Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes yourself. Personally, this is the option I would choose.

But if by some freaky chance you are expecting company for a certain still unnamed holiday this weekend, make sure you skip the expensive and really not all that good dessert at the fancy restaurant and save yourselves a little room for Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes at the homeplace, to be followed by–well, you get the idea. Your “friend” will be so bedazzled that all the other fun stuff will naturally follow.

Either way–alone or in company–you’ll win with these cakes.

Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

molten chocolate lava cakeMolten Chocolate Lava Cakes

1 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate*

1 egg

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules (optional)

molten chocolate cakes

Preheat you oven to 400 degrees. Generously grease 2 ramekins or oven proof cups, and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat. Once completely melted, whisk in the egg until fully incorporated. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla extract. Slowly stir in the flour and instant coffee until just mixed into the batter.

Divide the chocolate batter between the two prepared ramekins. Place the ramekins on a cookie sheet and bake the cakes for 9-12 minutes, or until the cakes look somewhat set on the outside. Remember you want the cakes to be gooey in the center, so be careful not to over bake! Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Gently invert the ramekins onto a serving plate, leaving them as so for about a minute. Slowly remove the ramekin, careful not to tear the cake. Serve cakes warm, a la mode or drizzled with your favorite sauce.

Makes 2 cakes.

*Semi-sweet chocolate works fine too. molten chocolate lava cakes

{Adapted from NYU Spoon University}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #31 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #31, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #31, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters, Serial #30 and Nutella-stuffed Peanut Butter Muffins

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Did you like last week’s Junior Mint surprise in the middle of the brownie? (If you missed it, check it out here or use the “Recent Posts” navigation bar to the right.)

Well, this week we have a double surprise–peanut butter muffins (sounds yummy, doesn’t it?) complete with a Nutella surprise in the center. It’s a reverse of the more typical peanut butter center inside the chocolate outer cup! Add a sugar topping and you’ve got a tasty and versatile muffin that will serve well for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or a mid-afternoon or late-night snack. Keep a glass of milk handy–between the peanut butter and the Nutella center, milk will be the perfect complement.

Speaking of surprises, Brooke and Leah are pointed toward one in Two Sisters, Serial #30. We’re into the last chapter of the novel and Brooke is out on Shawnituck Island for her summer and looking to get Leah out there for a visit. It’s not clear yet what is going to happen, but the always scheming Brooke has something up her sleeve. Check it out–or better yet, go back a couple of serials to #28 to start reading or listening to the chapter from the beginning.

nutella peanut butter muffinsNutella-stuffed Peanut Butter Muffins

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature

2 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup milk

1 egg yolk

2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

4 teaspoons Nutella

peanut butter muffins stuffed with nutella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin pan with cooking spray or line with four muffin cups and set aside.

To a mixing bowl, add the sugar, butter, and peanut butter and beat ingredients until well blended. Stir in the milk and egg yolk until incorporated. Slowly mix in the flour, salt, and baking powder until just incorporated, careful not to overmix. The dough will be thick.

Fill four muffin cups about 1/3 full of peanut butter batter. Top each with 1 teaspoon of Nutella. Divide remaining batter between muffin cups, making sure to spread the batter and cover the Nutella entirely. Fill empty muffin cups half full of water to promote even baking.

Bake muffins in preheated oven for 20-24 minutes, or until they are set and golden brown. Remove the muffins from the oven and allow them to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. If desired, dip each muffin in melted butter and then in granulated sugar for sugar coat topping.

Makes 4 muffins. peanut butter muffins

{Adapted from She Wears Many Hats}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #30 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #30, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #30, text © Jeffrey Anderson