Thursday, December 14, 2006

Party Nuts!

No - not the guys passed out in a pile of beer cans... I'm talking about these:

From The Union Square Cafe Cookbook:

1 1/4 lbs unsalted nuts (I used walnuts, almonds, and cashews)
2 T chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 t cayenne pepper
2 t dark brown sugar
2 t kosher salt
1 T butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 F. Toast the nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet until just starting to turn light golden brown (10 minutes or less). Mix the other ingredients with the butter in a large bowl. Toss the nuts with the spiced butter and serve while still warm.

I'm in love! These are soooo easy and really really delicious! A new party favorite.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Pumpkin Apricot Cake

This is a light, moist cake which I *highly* recommend for apricot fans. I made it for Thanksgiving, but it's not as pumpkin-y autumnal tasting as I expected. Here I decorated with dried apricots cut into leaf shapes, but if you cut the apricots into flowers, I think it would be a fine cake for a spring event (birthday, wedding or baby shower, or what-have-you).

Recipe is from

First, make this Apricot Puree
1 1/4 c apricot nectar
6 oz dried apricots
Simmer together for 5-10 minutes until apricots are soft, then puree in food processor or blender. Let cool. Leftovers are great on toast or pancakes.


2 c cake flour (this is worth buying, really!)
2 t baking powder
2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground allspice
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/2 c Apricot Puree
3/4 c canned solid pack pumpkin
1/4 c buttermilk
3/4 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c sugar
3 large eggs
2 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter two 8-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, butter again, then dust pans with flour. Mix first 6 ingredients in medium bowl. Blend Apricot Puree, pumpkin and buttermilk in small bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add the sugar, beating until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each. Mix in vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients alternately with pumpkin mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Divide batter equally between prepared pans. Smooth tops. Bake cakes until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out on wire rack to finish cooling.

Apricot Cream Cheese Frosting
1 lb cream cheese, room temperature (I used light cream cheese)
2 c powdered sugar
1/2 c Apricot Puree
1/3 c canned solid pack pumpkin

Beat cream cheese and sugar in medium bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add Apricot Puree and pumpkin and beat until blended.

For garnish, press dried apricots between two sheets of wax paper using a rolling pin (a wine bottle works, too). Cut into shapes using clean scissors or small cookie-cutters.

5 stars - it's a little work, but worth it for a special occasion.