Eggnog Bundt Cake

Eggnog Bundt CakeThere are two kinds of people in the world: those who love eggnog and those who hate it. Until a few years ago, I was decidedly in the latter camp. I have an aversion to liquid dairy (I take my coffee black and prefer my cereal to be dry). I am hesitant around creamy things in general, but especially drinks. I have had one glass of eggnog in my life and while I loved the flavor, I just couldn’t handle the texture.

Eggnog Bundt CakeLuckily I’ve learned to bake since then, so I can have the flavor of eggnog without the texture. Last year, I made some rockin’ Eggnog Sandwich Cookies and I’ve been dreaming of other ways to bake with eggnog ever since. A few months ago, it hit me: Eggnog Bundt Cake. Soft, tight-crumbed cake flavored with everyone’s favorite seasonal beverage, scented with cinnamon and nutmeg, and drizzled with glaze.

Eggnog Bundt CakeI know that all the ridges and curves in a bundt pan can make it intimidating–there’s a greater chance that a chunk of cake will stick to the pan or that it’ll break in half when inverted. The secret here is to grease it heavily with a mixture of flour and oil. Whisk equal amounts of them together until a thin paste forms and then paint it over the entire inside of the pan. This creates a barrier between the cake batter and the pan, greatly reducing the chance that your cake will stick. When the cake is done and has had a chance to cool for a few minutes, run a small, thin knife around all of the ridges and curves and invert it onto a cooling rack. The cake will come out of the pan in one piece every time–there’s no hoping and praying about it. There may be a little excess flour on the top of the cake, but it should come off with the swipe of a dry paper towel. Voilà! Easy cake release every time. I use this method with all my layer cakes too, and have excellent results every time.Eggnog Bundt CakeEggnog Bundt Cake

Once the pan is greased, get to work on the cake batter. You’ll see all of the usual suspects here–flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, sugar, butter, eggs. But then we put a holiday spin on it and add a full 1 1/2 cups of eggnog and 1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg! The cake batter will be very thick, but should pour easily into the greased pan. Bake it for nearly an hour before inverting onto a rack and drizzling with a simple glaze made with confectioner’s sugar, more eggnog, and spices.

Eggnog Bundt Cake is soft and moist, perfectly spiced, and full of eggnog flavor. It’s a great dessert for holiday parties, but you could also place it on a cute tray, wrap it with cellophane and a bow, and give it as a gift!Eggnog Bundt Cake

Eggnog Bundt Cake
makes one 12-cup capacity bundt pan

For the Pan:
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil

Cake:
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour*
1/3 cup cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups eggnog
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Glaze:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
3-4 tablespoons eggnog
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the pan. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together flour and oil. Use a pastry brush to paint mixture over the entire inside of the bundt pan. Pour out any excess. Set aside.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until very light and fluffy–about 2 minutes. Beat in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, combining completely after each addition. Mix in eggnog and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing on low until combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth the top. Tap full pan on the counter five times before baking for 50-55 minutes, tenting with foil at the 25 minute mark. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in several places comes out clean.

Let cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a small, thin knife around the outer edges of the pan before inverting the cake onto a rack to cool completely.

Make the glaze. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of eggnog and vanilla. Add another tablespoon of eggnog if you’d like a thinner glaze. Use a fork to drizzle glaze over cake. Glaze will set a bit after 20 minutes. Slice cake and serve.

Cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Note:

You may use cake flour instead of all-purpose. Use 3 cups of cake flour and omit the cornstarch. Proceed with recipe as written.

Spicy Southwestern Chicken Soup

Being from Texas, I have a deep abiding love for all things southwestern, especially Tex-Mex. If it has salsa, guacamole, melted cheese, pinto beans, or tortillas, I love it and I would like seconds thankyouverymuch. But since I am a New Yorker (can I finally call myself that after eight years?), there aren’t many Mexican restaurants or grocery stores that carry much besides packaged taco seasoning, and that simply won’t cut it. Also, that stereotype of New Yorkers being busy every minute of everyday? Totally true. When we get up and leave in the morning, we pack our entire lives into one supposedly-convenient bag. There are no cars for carrying those rain boots or options to make a quick trip home on lunch hour. This week is especially crazy because we are finally expecting snow. So now, in addition to everything else, everyone is preparing for the snowpocalypse (mostly by standing in line at Trader Joe’s). On my list for storm prep? Buy new winter boots and make a big pot of this Spicy Southwestern Chicken Soup.

This recipe is adapted from one that my mom made when I went home to visit in 2010. Nearly every time I make the trip to Texas, my allergies flare up and I can barely enjoy the family time. Knowing what was in store once I landed on Texas soil, my mom did what really good moms do–she made the ultimate cure-all, chicken soup. But instead of the traditional variety with carrots and celery, she used salsa and pinto beans, and threw it all in the slow cooker. She served it ladled over rice, and it hit the spot. Simple, comforting, and full of shredded chicken and beans, it was just what was needed to keep my allergies at bay (…somewhat–I don’t promise any miracles 😊). When she told me it had been made with a jar of Pace Picante, I was shocked! This soup was so much more than the sum of its parts.

When I got back to Brooklyn, I put it into my regular dinner rotation, with a few adjustments. I ditched the jarred salsa in favor of homemade, and as I lack a slow cooker, I made it on the stovetop. Where the slow cooker would probably take four to eight hours, my version takes one hour from start to finish! My mom calls this recipe Chicken Chili, which is absolute sacrilege, apparently. In Texas, chili is not supposed to have beans. It’s something I’ll never understand. So, with Henry’s help, it’s been renamed. Whatever you call it, it’s delicious.

Spicy Southwestern Chicken Soup begins as many soups do, with sautéing diced onion and minced garlic together until they are soft and fragrant. Stir in some chili powder and cumin, followed by two cups of salsa. I like to use the Restaurant-Style Salsa that I posted yesterday. It’s a snap to put together and is super smoky and flavorful. You may also use a jar of your favorite prepared salsa. I think a tomatillo version would be great here! Next, place two pounds of bone-in chicken breast in the pot, followed by four cups of chicken stock. If the chicken is not completely submerged, add water until it is. By using bone-in chicken in addition to chicken stock, we are giving the broth a double dose of chicken flavor. Cover the pot, bring the soup to a boil, and then let it simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot, toss the bones, and shred the meat before adding it back in. Then throw in some pinto beans that you’ve drained and rinsed, and let everything cook for just ten more minutes before enjoying.

 I like to serve this soup similarly to my Red Posole. I put out little plates of shredded cheddar, chopped cilantro, and diced avocado, so everyone can customize their bowls. Having eaten this soup on four occasions this week, I highly recommend crushing some tortilla chips over the top as well. So. Good. You could also take a page from my mom and serve it over rice. And a side salad couldn’t hurt 😊

Spicy Southwestern Chicken Soup is a warm, comforting meal perfect for cold weather. Simple, nutritious and brimming with the flavors of the southwest, it’s a favorite in our home. I’m sure it’ll become a favorite in yours, too.

 Spicy Southwestern Chicken Soup
makes 6-8 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cups salsa
2 lbs bone-in chicken breast, skin and excess fat removed
4 cups chicken stock
water
2 15 oz cans (3 cups) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt (or to taste)

Suggested Accompaniments:
diced avocado
chopped cilantro
shredded cheddar cheese
cooked white or brown rice
crushed tortilla chips

Heat a 4-6 quart heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and swirl it around to coat the pan. Sauté onions until soft and translucent, five to seven minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in chili powder and cumin. Pour in salsa, and stir to coat everything. Lay chicken breasts in the pot and pour in chicken stock. If chicken is not completely submerged, add water until it is. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Reduce it to a simmer for 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Use tongs to remove chicken breasts from the pot. Allow to cool five minutes before shredding with two forks. Add shredded meat back to the pot, followed by pinto beans. Let simmer uncovered for an additional ten minutes. Check the seasoning and add salt to taste. Serve warm with accompaniments of choice.

Spicy Southwestern Chicken Soup can be covered and refrigerated for up to five days.

Whipped Cream in a Jar {Entertaining Tip}

 
Sometimes, you just don’t need a ton of whipped cream. Maybe you live alone, or your significant other isn’t much for sweets, or you just don’t want the leftovers tempting you from the fridge. I find myself in the second predicament all. the. time. With all the pie and cookies and cake in our apartment, there are loads of things that would be perfect with a heaping spoonful of whipped cream, but Henry just isn’t into it. And while I love whipped cream, there is no need for me to have a huge mixing bowl of the stuff on hand. A want, sure, but not a need. So instead of breaking out my electric mixer and whipping up far more than I need, I just shake it up.

  
All you need for a small amount of whipped cream are:

-heavy cream
-a teaspoon or tablespoon of granulated sugar (or none, it depends on your preferences)
-a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
-a mason jar

 
Just fill the mason jar anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 of the way full, and add your sugar and vanilla. Don’t fill the jar any more than 1/3 of the way, or your cream will take eternity to whip, if it whips at all. Once your ingredients are in the jar, screw on the lid. Then shake the living daylights out of it. Listen to the jar–at first you’ll just hear liquid sloshing around, but as the cream starts to take in air, that sloshing will become more of a soft thud. Once the sloshing sound fades, open the jar every so often to check on the status of your cream. It’s ready when the jar can be held sideways and no cream threatens to dribble out. This usually takes me about five minutes of shaking. If you’re not sure if your cream is whipped enough, you can also take a spoonful out and see if it’s to your desired texture.
  
Don’t over-whip! If you shake the jar too much, the cream will bypass the whipped stage and start to become butter. You’ll know this has happened if your whipped cream looks grainy. I love butter (duh), but I don’t want it on top of my pie.

I know many people have large Thanksgiving gatherings where whipping cream in a jar simply isn’t practical, but if your dinner will only have a handful of guests, this is a good way to go. Plus, in a casual setting, serving things out of mason jars is totally adorable. When I bring desserts for dinner parties, it’s not uncommon for me to show up with a jar of cream–it’s way better than the stuff in a can. And plus, it makes you look so crafty.,Also, if you have little helpers that need a job this Turkey Day, put the ingredients in a tupperware with a screw top and let them shake away. Kids love helping in the kitchen, especially when it’s something they know is delicious.

If you have leftover whipped cream, just screw the lid back on the jar and stick it in the fridge. The cream will start to liquefy again as it sits in there, so just give it a little shake when you go back for more.

One last thing–whipped cream is great, but you need something to put it on! I wrote three new pie recipes this month that would be great additions to any Thanksgiving dinner. You just have to have pie on Thanksgiving! It’s the right thing to do. Between my Pumpkin, Black Bottom Pear & Almond, and Cranberry Apple Pies, it’ll be a tough (and delicious) decision determining which one to try! If you do try any of them, or my Cream Cheese Pie Dough, let me know in the comments!