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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cooking Experiments, and Pear Coffeecake with Maple Frosting

I'm so lucky that my family puts up with my cooking experiments.

Recently, there have been a few failures.  Nothing that was so terrible that they wouldn't eat it, but stuff that was definitely not going into the "mmm, must make this again" recipe file.

Like these caramel-filled snickerdoodles.  If you're looking at this picture and thinking, "Hey! Those look pretty good!" you would be half-right.

Half-right because they were good while they were warm, but when they cooled down the caramel hardened and was impossible to bite through.  As in take-a-bite-and-now-I've-pulled-the-entire-caramel-center-out-but-I-can't-chew-it-because-my-teeth-are-glued-together-by-caramel sort of impossible.


And there was my Caprese Egg Roll experiment.  I LOVE Caprese salad in all of it's incarnations, whether it's a basic Caprese salad or Caprese skewers or Caprese salad with avocado and olives.

It looked promising as I rolled it into egg rolls.

They looked good as I arranged them around the tomato sauce that we would be dipping them into.

They look okay, right?

But the truth is, I'd rather just eat a plain old Caprese salad. Or if I'm going the exotic egg roll route, I'll make a batch of Italian egg rolls.

Okay, enough about my failures.  

I finally put an end to my losing streak when I was trying to find a way to use up two very ripe pears.  I immediately thought of adding them into a coffeecake, but I have never added pears into a coffeecake so I decided to check for a recipe.

Of course I couldn't find what I was hoping to find.

But I did find a recipe for Apple Coffeecake!  And along the way I found a recipe for Raspberry coffeecake with Vermont Maple Frosting.  So the alchemist in me decided that switching out the apples for pears and combining it with the maple frosting would be a great combination--and it was!

Today's Playlist
  • "Why Don't You Get A Job?"...The Offspring
  • "Sixteen Saltines"...Jack White
  • "Animal"...Neon Trees
  • "In One Ear"...Cage the Elephant
  • "Dirty Little Secret"...All-American Rejects
  • "Where Do Broken Hearts Go"...Me First & The Gimme Gimmes
  • "Teenagers"...My Chemical Romance

Pear Coffee Cake with Vermont Maple Frosting (adapted from Emeril Lagasse)

Cake Ingredients
  • 1 stick butter (plus more for greasing the pan)
  • 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 pears, peeled, cored and chopped
Crumb Topping Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter
Frosting Ingredients
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Vermont maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons light cream
Gather your ingredients.  Or in this case, most of them.  I must've been distracted and I neglected to gather the cream and confectioners sugar.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Butter a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.  That butter that you see in the picture is the butter that I will need for the crumb topping.  I will need 4 tablespoons, so here's what I did:  sliced off a chunk with about 4 1/2 tablespoons, used the open end to grease the pan, put the remaining chunk into a bowl and by the time that I am ready to make the crumb topping it will be softened as needed.

And that's the method to my butter-softening madness!

Place the stick of butter and 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar into the bowl of your mixer and combine until light and fluffy.

While the mixer is going, measure your dry ingredients into a bowl.  2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Whisk to combine.

Scrape down the bowl of your mixer.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.

You probably notice that I always crack my eggs into a bowl or a measuring cup before I add them.  It's a habit I developed after an egg that I cracked over the mixing bowl slipped and fell into the batter.  Shell and all.  While the mixer was going.  That was almost 20 years ago and I haven't cracked an egg directly into the mixing bowl since!

And now back to our recipe.

Scrape down the bowl of the mixer and add the flour and the sour cream, alternating flour-sour cream-flour.

One cup of flour....

...the cup of sour cream, and then finally the last cup of flour.

 While the batter is mixing, peel your pears and dice them.  After they're peeled...

cut the sides off and discard the cores.

Slice them lengthwise...

and then crosswise, into approximately 1/2" dice.

Mix the diced pears and the vanilla extract into your batter.

Pour into your prepared baking dish.

Prepare the crumb topping.  You've already got your 4 tablespoons of butter in the bowl, and it should be softened by now.  Add the 1/2 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar...

...and teaspoon of cinnamon.  Mix it up any way you like, with a pastry cutter or a fork or your fingers.

The butter was soft enough, and the amount was small enough that I felt that a fork would suffice.

Ta-da! Crumb topping.

Sprinkle the topping evenly over the batter.  Bake in your preheated 350-degree oven for approximately 35-40 minutes.

 You will know that your coffeecake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry (or with moist crumbs) and not coated in batter.

As soon as you remove the cake from the oven, while it is still warm, make the frosting.  Put one cup of confectioners sugar into a bowl, and add 2 tablespoons of light cream and 2 tablespoons of REAL maple syrup.  Oh please, PLEASE, PLEASE, I'm begging you!  Do not use the icky fake stuff!

Stir the frosting ingredients together with a fork.

 Drizzle it over your still-warm coffeecake.

 Make sure you eat a piece while it's still warm and the frosting is all drippy and the crumb topping is still a bit gooey.


1 comment:

  1. Oh yum! I love anything with maple frosting. This looks so moist and rich. I love caprese salad too. I think I'll stick to the easy way out, just the salad. lol! The egg rolls looked good though and so did the cookies. You never know till you try.


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