Lights on 20(14...)15!

I considered doing a round up of the year like so many we see around this time floating around the web-o-sphere. Some are quite entertaining or inspiring but I realized none really stood out to me as being THE list. So, instead of boring you with a re-hash of previous posts, I decided, I would just be realistic and share a recipe; something you'll probably appreciate a lot more than me waxing about how awesome this year has been for me!

I mean, really, what is the fun in relating only one side of the equation. It simply becomes a gargantuan joke like the Facebook experiment. Everyone knows that there is yin and a yan to life and without the other, neither is appreciated. Yet, it seems society as a whole shuns hearing the 'other' side of life. I am pretty sure someone somewhere has done some study on the hypothesis I am going to expound (if not, it should be done. I think it would be fantastic insight into cultures!).

So, I postulate that humans like stories with happy endings because that they can focus on the happy bit and forget the rest of it, all the struggles and disappointments before and during.

I will go further and claim that in the medium of words (including lyrics), realities attract only the tormented; the rest prefer happy and bliss.

But, in the medium of visuals (TV, movies, photos) it invokes an empathy that either resonates with a person's circumstance or make the person appreciate their position in life ever more.

Have you noticed that we as a whole seem to be drawn to more poignant pictures than those depicting fun (unless it has something to do with children)? It is almost as if we shy from elation, as if we feel judged in an odd way. Somehow, harshness of someone else's life, captured, seems to call us more than happiness in theirs.

I can't help reflecting what it speaks of us as a society. 

Nevertheless, Introspection seems to be the tone in my life as I prepare for 2015. I would love to say,with a dramatic flair, this is the result of my 40 day tour around bits of Europe. But, truthfully, I doubt that. It is simply a continuation of an ongoing process of re-discovery that began a couple of years ago and set a series of changes in my life. 

I am sure many of you are going through some form of transformation, metamorphosis, rejuvenation, discovery, and all that stuff. So, let us celebrate all the strides we have leaped and all the steps that we may have slid back, the tears and the laughs, the agonies and the joys, the pain and the pleasure, the burnt dinners and stunning flambes and everything that makes us better each year!

I would like to wish us all 

STRENGTH AND COURAGE TO FIND OUR PEACE AND HAPPINESS IN 2015!!

Hurray! Bring on 2015!!


Apple Fruit Cake with

Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting + Salted Caramel Apples

For the cakes, I made mini versions and had multiple of these layered creations. I had four 3.5 inch cakes in all. But you can simply bake them in a regular 8 inch pan and have one nice cake. The measures I have included are should work just fine for a single larger cake.

Note: The recipe calls for using the egg whites whipped separately from the yolks. To keep the lightness of the batter, I suggest, dividing the the whites into two parts and folding in the brandied fruits in between. Folding in the fruits in the end, sometimes, results in loosing some of the airiness in the batter from attempting to spread the fruits evenly.

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For the cake:

scant 1 cup, whole wheat flour

1/3 cup flaxseed powder

1/2 cup muscovado sugar or light brown sugar

2/3 cup roasted apple puree (recipe below)

6 T butter, room temprature

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 eggs, seperated

1/2 cup brandied dried fruits

1-1.2 tsp baking soda

 

For the caramel frosting:

8 oz cheese cheese, softened

1/4 cup cream

1/3 cup of caramel sauce (recipe below)

2 T powdered sugar (if desired sweeter)

 

For the caramel apple topping:

2-3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin

2/3 cup caramel sauce

3 T butter

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Whip the yolks and butter to a light fluffy yellow. Add the sugar and whip to create volume and dissolve the sugar.

Add the roasted apple puree and cream and beat to fold in.

Sift in the flour, flaxseed powder and baking soda and combine to create a batter

In another bowl, whip the whites to stiff peaks. Fold a third of the whipped whites in to the cake batter to loosen it. 

Fold in the brandied fruits and then fold in the remaining whipped whites.

Divide into molds or one cake tin and bake for 45 minutes or so, until a tooth pick stuck in the center comes out clean.

Fold and cool to room temperature. Since this is nearly like a fruit cake, you can feed it brandy everyday and keep it stored in an airtight container for a few days.

When ready to frost and finish, slice the cake into three horizontal layers. 

Mix together the frosting ingredients and divide between the layers finishing with a top layer.

Set aside while you melt butter in a pan to cook the apples for the topping. Cook covered on low for a few minutes. When the apples start to soften, add the caramel sauce to the pan and toss the apple slices with the sauce.

Arrange the slices on top of the cakes and pour remaining sauce over.


Salted Brown Sugar Caramel Sauce

Roasted Apple Puree

1 cup muscovado sugar

6 T salted butter (organic and non-homogenized)

1/2 cup whole milk

In a heavy bottomed pan, melt the sugar over medium heat, whisking vigorously to prevent it from sticking.

When the sugar starts to boil, add the butter and remove from heat. Stir in the milk to mix to create a smooth caramel. 

You can store this for ages.

6-7 medium roasting apples, cored and quartered

drizzle of olive oil

2 tsp honey

1/2 tsp salt

Toss all the ingredients together in a baking pan and roast covered at 400 F until soft and cooked through, about 1 hour.

Reserve and cool until used. You can store in the fridge for a week.