Tag Archives: real butter makes everything better

Tropical Cream Cheese Pound Cake

When it comes to dessert, my motto is usually “More is More.” A pan of plain brownies doesn’t cut it in my world. They need to have Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate syrup, dark chocolate chips and a shot of Kahlua thrown in. There are, however, a few things for which I am a purist. Shortbread cookies and pound cake, for example. Some things are just better in their pure, simple forms.

Don’t get me wrong – you can still add stuff, but the key is to keep it simple. To enhance, not overshadow. Sometimes, that’s a thin line to balance. For a girl who trips over her own two feet and walks into walls (this girl), that can be tricky. This week, I tried something that could have pushed ‘simple’ over the edge, but didn’t. It worked beautifully and started with some of my favorite things:

1. Lots & lots of butter, cream cheese and some gorgeous brown eggs

2. A bowl of soft, fluffy, sifted all-purpose flour; I’m a messy sifter

3. Macadamia nuts, shredded coconut and Cream of Coconut

4. A bag of dried tropical fruits – mango, papaya and pineapple

The result was a soft, moist, not-too-dense pound cake with all of the flavors of the islands. I’m not going to lie. My heart melted at the first bite. This, to me, is a perfect cake. No layers. No frosting. Just pure, delicious cake. It was super easy to whip up, and made two large gorgeous loaves. Here’s how I did it.

NanaBread’s Tropical Cream Cheese Pound Cake:
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature
6 large eggs, at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup Cream of Coconut
3 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 6-oz. pkg. dried tropical fruit

To start, lay your butter, cream cheese and eggs out in advance. You’ll want them to be at room temperature when you start putting this together.

Preheat your oven to 325F. Spray 2 large non-stick loaf pans with Pam spray for baking (or grease & flour both pans).

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. With the mixer still running, gradually beat in the sugar, then add the salt, vanilla, almond extract and Cream of Coconut. Beat until thoroughly combined. Turning the mixer down a notch, add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Remove the bowl from the mixer.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder; whisk to blend well. Roughly chop the dried fruit into 1/2″ pieces, then add the fruit, macadamia nuts and coconut to the bowl of flour; stir until combined.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter/egg mixture. Using a spatula, gently fold until all of the flour mixture is incorporated. Divide the batter in half and spread evenly into each loaf pan. Tap the pans gently on the counter a few times to help remove air bubbles, then bake at 325F for 60-75 minutes, rotating once half-way through baking. The cakes are done when a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the top of the cake. You’ll want to keep an eye on it so you don’t over bake these. An over-baked cake is a dry cake.

Remove from the oven and place the pans onto wire racks for at least one hour. After one hour, remove them from the pans and allow them to cool on the racks for another hour. One loaf can be sliced and stored in an airtight container for now; the other loaf can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and zipped into a large freezer bag and stored in the freezer for later. Or you can make a friend’s day and share a loaf. It’s up to you, but I’d taste it first and then decide. You might just decide to hang on to both.

Note: This recipe was adapted from a cream cheese pound cake recipe by my blogging friend & baker Anne, the genius behind the From My Sweet Heart blog. If you haven’t seen Anne’s blog yet, you need to drop in for a visit. She’s a lovely lady and her love of baking shows in all of her recipes and photographs. If you drop in, please tell her I said hello.

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TCP Cooks: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Read it & weep, ladies. My man bakes chocolate chip cookies.

That’s right, ladies. The Complete Package bakes cookies.
Homemade chocolate chip cookies with pecans.
They’re big, they’re warm and they’re wonderful.
(That’s what she said!) Here’s how he does it.

The players, although some of those chocolate chips didn't make it

Complete Package Chocolate Chip Cookies:
2 1/3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
3/4 cup of brown sugar
2 sticks of unsalted butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 bag (12 ounces) Guittard Extra Dark chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans

This makes me question why I separate things into cute little bowls.

To begin, set your butter out on the counter to soften. Once you can squeeze it and it gives a little, it’s ready to go. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and sugars. Whisk to combine. Add the softened butter, eggs and vanilla and mix just until combined. (Note: TCP likes to mix the cookie dough with his hands so that he doesn’t over mix the cookie batter.) Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans just until they are evenly distributed.

Do what you want, but I'm not giving up my KitchenAid.

Using an ice cream scoop, TCP creates large balls of cookie dough that are slightly smaller than a baseball. He puts the dough balls into a mixing bowl and places the bowl in the freezer for 20 minutes. Depending on how warm your kitchen is, it may take a little longer for your cookie dough to firm up.

While the dough is chilling, pre-heat your oven to 375F. Once the dough balls feel firm to the touch but not frozen solid, they’re ready. For baking, The Complete Package insists that a thick heavy-duty baking sheet is the key to great cookies. It prevents the cookies from burning on the bottom.

One they’re ready to bake, TCP takes the dough balls out of the freezer one at a time, twists them in half, and places the “torn” side up in order to get better lift.

Grab one big dough ball at a time & twist it in half.

Place them torn side up for better lift while baking.

He bakes them six cookies at a time to give them some room to spread out. You’ll want to keep the dough balls in the refrigerator while each pan is baking so they don’t get soft. Here is TCP’s theory – soft cookie dough spreads out when baked and makes for thin cookies. Cold cookie dough that’s piled high will form taller, fluffier cookies. He must know what he’s talking about, because his cookies turn out consistently fabulous every single time.

Bake each tray for 15 minutes on the middle rack of your oven until they start to turn a light golden brown around the edges. Keep in mind that everyone’s oven is different. You may want to start watching yours at 12 minutes in case your oven runs hotter, or bake them longer if you have the opposite problem. Once they’re done, remove them from the oven, allow them to cool for a few minutes on the pan, then move them to cooling racks.

Your house is going to smell SO good when these are baking!

Once they’re cooled, grab a gallon of cold milk and get ready for a stampede. This recipe makes approximately 2 dozen cookies, and they won’t last long.

One last tip: if you can find them, try the Guittard Extra-Dark chocolate chips. They are our favorites, and they are worth seeking out. They will rock your world. Guaranteed. Or my name isn’t NanaBread. Well, actually my name is Jeanne, but let’s not get tangled up in technicalities here. Just try them!

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