Monday, October 31, 2011

A Ghost Post

My last guest post involved a recipe from an interesting blog that I follow called “Confections of a Closet Master Baker.”  This post will involve another of her creations.

I am a sucker for cute baked goods.  I love to deliver diabetic coma inducing food to friends and family.  Take these cute creations that Gesine posted on her blog:

Candy corn covered ghostly cupcakes!!  So cute!  I thought I should give it a try, so I dutifully requested her book “Sugarbaby” from the library and found the required recipes.  I will not be reproducing the recipes here.  (You should check the book out at the library).

I must admit that I used a cake mix to make the ghost bodies.  I was extremely intimidated when I realized that I would have to make three different recipes and make my kitchen a disaster three different times in order to complete these creations.  So, I got lazy.  My attempt is feeble, when compared with the real deal.  I know that I should have put the tops of the cupcakes on these ghost bodies so that they would be less block-headed.  

The ghost bodies are two cupcakes, whose middles have been hollowed out and filled with deliciously sugary nougat.  The nougat that I made was quite wonderful, and I was happy to eat it with a spoon, but it did not have the fluffiness and loft and shape holding powers found in the original post.  I was already invested, though, so I dutifully filled the cupcakes with the sticky mess and smashed them together.  

The ghost shroud was easier to make, but incredibly difficult to work with.  I either had too much powdered sugar on the table, and a huge mess, or too little powdered sugar on the table, which also resulted in a huge mess.  These were a bit of a disaster.  Again, I could have eaten the finished product all day, it was that delicious.  By the time I had completed the ghosts, I and my kitchen were covered in sugar, so I copped out and painted the eyes and mouths on with melted milk chocolate.  

These took a lot of time, and I was tempted to sell my house afterward so that I wouldn’t have to clean the kitchen.  They did elicit “wows” when I delivered them to my neighbors, however.
-Chemist Cuisinier, PhD

Friday, October 28, 2011

Black Midnight Cake

I am so excited about this cake!  For one, it is for my Dad's birthday, and I love my Dad!  He is probably the best Dad that there is.  I know that everyone says that, but in my case it is absolutely true.  He is funny and smart and supportive.  He even lets us call him at one in the morning if we need to.  And yes, he does actually answer the phone.  Pretty much, he is amazing.  He also really likes dark chocolate.  The darker the better.  So, this cake is dedicated to my Dad.  I love you, Dad!

This cake starts with my favorite chocolate cake base.  This time, I used special dark cocoa powder.  The frosting is a basic chocolate frosting, but again, uses special dark cocoa.  I decorated this cake with black and orange cake balls since it is almost Halloween, and I just couldn't resist.  One quick note, to avoid unsightly layer bulging, try to wait until the cake layers are completely cool.  I got a little overzealous, I think, and frosted this cake slightly warm, hence the unsightly layer bulging.  However, this cake is delicious, and I think that my Dad will love it.  The bittersweet part of it?  My Dad lives four hours away, so the entire cake will be traveling there.  Which means none for me.  Sad.  However, that means none for me.  Yay for my skinny jeans!  Original idea found here.

Black Midnight Cake


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
1 cup special dark cocoa powder
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup milk
1 1/4 cups hot water
2 eggs
1 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup special dark cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 to 1/3 cup milk
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 teaspoon shortening

Heat oven to 350F. Butter and flour bottom and sides of 3 (8-inch) cake pans. 

For the cakes: Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.  Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.  Bring the milk to a simmer then pour over the chocolate.  Let stand for a minute or two, then stir until smooth.  Add the hot water, then let the chocolate mixture cool slightly.

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, mayonnaise, and vanilla until well blended. Gradually beat in the sugar. Add dry ingredients and coffee liquid alternately in 2 or 3 additions, beating until smooth. Divide the batter among pans.  

Bake the cakes for 25-28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cakes cool in pans on wire racks 10-15 minutes. Turn the cakes out of the pans and onto cooling racks to cool completely.

For the frosting:  In a medium bowl, beat the butter until smooth.  Add about 1 cup of powdered sugar and beat until combined.  Add the cocoa powder, and carefully beat on low speed until blended.  Beat in the remaining powdered sugar (the mixture may be crumbly).  Beat in the milk, starting with 1/4 cup and adding more if needed to reach desired consistency.

To assemble:  Place one cake layer on a serving plate.  Top with a thin layer of frosting.  Top with another cake layer and spread with another thin layer of frosting.  Place the remaining cake layer on the top, then frost the top and sides of the cake.

In a small bowl, melt together the dark chocolate chips and shortening, stirring until smooth.  Drizzle the melted chocolate around the top edges of the cake, letting the chocolate run down the sides of the cake.  Arrange the cake balls on top of the cake.  Makes 12 to 16 servings.

Enjoy!  -Cardamommy

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Cake Balls

It is cake ball time again!  I made these cake balls specifically to decorate another birthday cake, but thought that they turned out so well that I would post them on their own.  These cake balls are chocolate chocolate chocolate.  Chocolate Fudge cake with Chocolate Fudge frosting, and semi sweet chocolate coating covered in orange and black sugar sprinkles.  They are super delicious, and incredibly cute on top of that!  And just in time for Halloween, too!

1 (9x13) dark chocolate cake, baked and cooled
1 (16 ounce) can dark chocolate or chocolate fudge frosting
1 (12 ounce) bag semi sweet chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon shortening
black and orange sugar sprinkles

Crumble the prepared cake into a large bowl.  Add the frosting and beat with an electric mixer on low until completely combined.  Scoop by heaping tablespoonfuls and roll into balls, then place on a wax paper lined baking sheet.  Place in the freezer for about 1 hour.

In a double boiler or medium bowl set on top of a saucepan of simmering water (the bowl should not touch the water) place the chocolate chips and shortening.  Melt the chips and shortening together, stirring until smooth.  When the chocolate is melted, remove the cake balls from the freezer and dip, one by one in the melted chocolate, letting any excess chocolate drip off.  Immediately after dipping the cake balls, while the chocolate is still wet, roll the cake balls in the sugar sprinkles to completely cover.  Place the cake balls back on the wax paper lined baking sheet to set up completely.

Enjoy!  -Cardamommy

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fluffernutter Rice Krispie Treats

Do you need another rice krispie treat variations?  Since I did, I'm sure you do as well.  These treats have peanut butter chips and honey roasted peanuts.  Not my favorite (probably because I am not a fan of peanuts), but still very good.  These are very well loved at my house!

Fluffernutter Rice Krispie Treats

3 Tablespoons butter
1 (10 ounce) bag marshmallows
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
dash salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups Rice Krispies
1 cup honey roasted peanuts
1/2 cup peanut butter chips, melted

Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.  In a large, microwave safe bowl, place the butter, marshmallows, and peanut butter chips. Microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until the mixture is melted and smooth.  Quickly add the salt, vanilla, rice krispies, and peanuts, and stir well until incorporated.  Press the cereal mixture into the prepared pan.  Drizzle the melted peanut butter chips over the treats.  Let cool completely before cutting.  Makes 18 rice krispies treats.

Enjoy!  -Cardamommy

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pumpkin Brownies

I have a confession to make. Ok, ok, I have two confessions to make. Confession one: I am obsessed with pumpkin. Confession two: I am a stress baker. So what happens when I have two huge projects to do, three papers to write, pictures to edit, and midterms to study for? Bake, of course. These have been on my list for a while, ever since I found them on Baking Bites.

I was a little nervous while I was making them. After all, what is a brownie without chocolate? And it's not even a blondie because it doesn't have white chocolate. Well, my fears were put to rest when I took a bite of brownie. Holy yummy goodness! Just as a brownies are, these pumpkin brownies are dense and moist and fudgy. They also are packed with warm flavors and spices. It's like a little bite of pumpkin heaven. They make great gifts and also are a great outlet for some pent up stress! Cut them into Halloween shapes or simply squares. Either way, make them. Eat them. ASAP. Oh, and also, be sure to double the recipe, because you're going to want a lot.

1/2 C Butter, room temperature
1 C Sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ginger
1/4 tsp Allspice
1/4 tsp Cloves
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Large Egg
1/2 C Pumpkin Puree
3/4 C All Purpose Flour
2/3 C Chopped Pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease an 8x8-inch pan. It is easier if you line the pan with tin foil and lightly grease it instead.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in spices, salt, the egg, and the pumpkin puree. Sift flour into the bowl and stir it, mixing until just combined. Add in pecans and stir to evenly distribute the nuts.

Pour batter into prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the brownies are just lightly browned at the edges and the center is set (it may look moist, but will not be sticky when lightly pressed). Cool before slicing.

Makes 20 bars.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Caramel Apple Pie

It has been so long since I made an apple pie!  Apples are usually so expensive, I have been not so patiently waiting for the price to drop this fall.  So what if I have 25 pounds of apples in my refrigerator?  So what if my husband thinks I totally lost it?  So what if he openly questioned my sanity when I bought more apples yesterday (this is in addition to the 25 pounds already in the fridge)?  In my defense, those now 30 pounds of apples are all different varieties.  Haralson, Macintosh, Jonathon, Granny Smith, Cortland...and all went into this pie that I decided to make on the spur of the moment. Spur of the moment means I wasn't prepared, and that I didn't re-familiarize myself with the recipe and therefore stressed over and rushed to finish so that I wouldn't be late to pick up my hungry puppy from school.

Happily, the pie was fabulous, the mess contained, and I was on time to pick up my hungry puppy.  This pie, obviously, starts with apples.  I love using tart apples for baking.  I love using tart apples for eating.  I sort of love tart apples.  Anyhow, I like to use at least two different types of apples in my pies, because I think that it gives a nice depth to the apple flavor.  For this recipe, you saute the apple filling before adding to the crust.  This creates the caramel, and softens the apples slightly for baking.

Caramel Apple Pie

3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup butter flavored shortening, chilled
1/3 cup ice water
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1 egg, beaten

Apple Filling:
6 cups sliced peeled tart apples
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter

For the crust, in a large bowl combine the flour, salt, and sugar.  Cut in the shortening using a pastry blender until it resembles coarse crumbs.  In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, water, and egg.  Add the water mixture to the flour mixture, one tablespoon at a time, tossing the dough with a fork until it forms a soft dough.  Divide the dough into to equal size portions, form into disks, wrap with plastic wrap and chill for several hours.  Remove one disc of pie dough from the refrigerator, and roll out on a floured surface.  Fit the rolled dough into a 9 inch pie plate.

To prepare the filling, place apples in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice.  To the apples, add the brown and white sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, vanilla, and cream.  Toss to coat the apples.  In a very large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter, then add the apple filling.  Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apples have softened slightly.  Pour the warm filling into the prepared pie crust.

Preheat the oven to 450F.  Roll out the second disc of dough and place on top of the pie.  Trim (if necessary), seal, and flute the edges and cut slits in the top for steam to escape.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Lower the oven heat to 350F and bake the pie for 45 minutes longer. Makes one pie, about 8 to 10 servings.

Enjoy!  -Cardamommy

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cinnamon Spice Caramel Apples

It is a tradition for my family to make caramel apples in the fall.  My oldest hungry puppy has been asking begging to make caramel apples for months.  However, I have had braces for about the last 2 years, and have been missing out on caramel apples.  So I told her that we would make caramel apples as soon as I got my braces off, whenever that happened to be.  So when I surprised her one day by coming home with no braces, you can imagine that the first thing out of her mouth was "Caramel Apples!!!!".  Thus, these little beauties were born. 

 I saw the recipe last year in Taste of Home, but was unable to make or partake (darn it!) .  I used the idea to come up with a more simplified version with a smaller batch.  I love these caramel apples.  They are probably my favorite ever.  The cinnamon sugar is so incredible with the white chocolate and caramel, and it is all perfect with a tart granny smith apple.  I had some caramel, white chocolate, and cinnamon sugar left over, so I dipped pretzel rods, using the same order and technique as the apples. Wow.  Amazing. 

Cinnamon Spice Caramel Apples

5 Granny Smith apples
5 popsicle sticks
1 pkg caramel bits 
2 Tablespoons water
1 pkg white chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons shortening
4 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Thoroughly wash and dry the apples.  Push a popsicle stick into the top of each apple.  Line a plate with wax paper.  In a medium bowl, combine the caramel bits and water.  Microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, or until completely melted, stirring until smooth.  Dip each apple into the caramel until it is well coated.  Hold each dipped apple over the bowl of caramel and let the excess drip off.  Place on the wax paper.  Repeat with remaining apples, then place in the refrigerator until firm.  

While the apples are setting up, combine the white chocolate and shortening and melt carefully in the microwave, stirring frequently, until smooth.  In a small bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon.  Dip each apple into the white chocolate and let some of the excess drip off.  Immediately sprinkle the cinnamon sugar generously over the white chocolate.  Place the apple on the plate and repeat with the remaining apples.  Chill until the candy coating is completely firm.  Store in the refrigerator.  Makes 5 caramel apples.

Enjoy!  -Cardamommy

Friday, October 14, 2011

Zucchini Applesauce Bread

I have found myself with an abundance of zucchini. Like. More than I even know what to do with. So I decided to start off with the classic zucchini bread. Because I am calorie-conscious I decided to try it with applesauce rather than oil (1 C Applesauce = 105 Cal. 1 C Vegetable Oil = 1927. Yikes!).

While this bread was still pretty good, I have to admit that I wasn't absolutely 100% in love with it. It was sort of spongy and I'm not totally sure why. Maybe the applesauce? At any rate, I liked it much more after it had sat in the fridge overnight. The flavor was good and it had just the right balance of warm spices. This bread also had a nice, sweet, sticky, slightly crunchy crust and a dense (albeit spongy) inside. Using oil rather than applesauce may solve the texture issue.

Original recipe adapted from here.

3 1/4 C All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
3 C Sugar
1 C Unsweetened Applesauce
4 Eggs
1/3 C Water
2 C Grated Zucchini
1 T Lemon Juice

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon, and sugar.

In a separate bowl combine oil, eggs, water, zucchini, and lemon juice. Mix wet ingredients into dry. Fold together.

Bake in 2 standard loaf pans, sprayed with nonstick spray, for 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Pudding Cookies

I got this recipe from my Sister in Law last year, and have been waiting for the opportune moment.  She made her cookies with vanilla pudding, but when I conveniently had two boxes of pumpkin spice jello sitting in my cabinet, I knew that the opportune moment had arrived, and I had to make a change or two.  I love how these cookies have a crisp exterior and are nice and tender inside.  The pumpkin spice pudding gives these cookies a nice fall flavor, and the mixture of semi sweet and white chocolate chips don't overpower the flavor of the cookie.

Pumpkin Spice Pudding Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 pkgs (4 serving size) pumpkin spice instant pudding mix
3 cups flour
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until well blended.  Beat in the baking powder, salt, and pudding mix.  Add the flour and beat until no streaks of flour remain.  Stir in the semi sweet and white chocolate chips.  Drop by tablespoonfulls onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Enjoy!  -Cardamommy

Monday, October 10, 2011

White Cake with White Chocolate Cinnamon Spice Frosting and a Happy Birthday!

It is birthday time again, and my oldest hungry puppy is six years old!  I made her a butterfly cake for her birthday party with friends, but for her actual birthday at home, I wanted to do something a tiny bit easier.  

It has been quite a while since I made a white cake with white frosting, but I didn't want to do the plain old ordinary.  The cake recipe is the same one I used for the Almond Cake with Italian Buttercream.  My hungry puppy loves white chocolate, so I decided to make a white chocolate frosting.  The addition of a cinnamon sugar sprinkle over the top is quite nice with the white chocolate, although it does not come through the entire cake.  For a more pronounced cinnamon flavor, you can increase the amount of cinnamon in the cinnamon sugar, or add some cinnamon to the cake batter.  The white chocolate frosting was absolutely perfect.  Not too heavy, sweet, or overpowering.  And so simple!

White Cake White Chocolate Cinnamon Spice

1 box white cake mix
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 salt
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups water
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 stick butter
3 cups powdered sugar
6 ounces white chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
2 to 3 Tablespoons of milk
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325F.  Grease 2 9-inch round baking pans.

For the cake: In a large bowl, whisk together the cake mix, flour, sugar and salt.  Add the eggs, water, oil, sour cream, almond and vanilla extracts, and beat with a mixer on low speed for about 2 minutes, or until all of the ingredients are well incorporated.  Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and smooth the top with the back of a spatula.  Put in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes tests clean.  Remove from the oven and let cool in the pans for about 10 minutes.  Turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack and cool completely

For the frosting: In a medium size bowl, beat the butter until creamy.  Beat in one cup of powdered sugar, and beat until well combined.  Add the melted white chocolate and beat until completely incorporated.  Beat in the remaining powdered sugar.  Add the milk, one tablespoon at a time until the frosting is the desired consistency.  In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon, set aside.

To assemble the cake,  place one cake layer upside down on a serving plate.  Spread some of the frosting on top of the cake layer, then place the second cake layer upside down on top of the first layer.  Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake, working quickly, as the frosting will firm up quickly and become difficult to spread.  Immediately sprinkle the top of the cake with the cinnamon sugar.  Makes 12 to 16 servings

Enjoy!  -Cardamommy

Friday, October 7, 2011

Home Made Cheese Crackers

What kid doesn't like cheese crackers?  And what Mom wouldn't want to serve them to her children in 6 ingredients or less?  And really not difficult!  These little crackers are packed full of cheesy flavor, and are perfect for snacking.  My hungry puppies can't get enough of them!  

Just a couple of notes: You can use any kind of cheese you want, but the stronger flavor cheese, the better the cheese flavor (I'm thinking of trying swiss, yum!).  The chipotle pepper gives the crackers a nice depth, but is not enough to make them spicy. You can adjust the "pinch" size to suit your taste.  Also, make sure that you roll these crackers super thin.  1/8 inch or less.  Yes, maybe less.  If the crackers are too thick, they will not crisp up and be crunchy, although they will still be fabulous. 

Home Made Cheese Crackers

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons salt
Pinch of chipotle chili pepper (if desired)
4 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
8 ounces grated sharp white cheddar cheese (or substitute your favorite cheese)
3 to 4 Tablespoons water

In a food processor, pulse the flour, salt, and pepper until combined.  Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add the grated cheese and pulse until the  mixture again resembles coarse crumbs.

Add the water a tablespoon at a time, pulsing to combine.  You have added enough water when the dough forms a ball.  Remove the dough from the food processor bowl and wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or up to 24 hours.

When you are ready to bake the crackers, preheat the oven to 350F.  Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thickness (or slightly less).  Cut the rolled dough into squares and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  You can place them close together as they will no spread. Bake the crackers for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers are golden brown  Remove from the oven and let cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!  -Cardamommy

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Oreo Cream Pies

I need to start out by telling you that if you think you are getting a pie here, you are mistaken.  Do you remember those Oatmeal Cream Pie cookies that you can get individually wrapped in a box?  The cream filling sandwiched between two soft oatmeal cookies...Well, the texture of these cookies reminded me of those little snacks.  The texture only, mind you.  The flavor and substance of these cookies blast those little pies right out of the water!

These cookies start with the same cookie that I used in the White Chocolate Dipped Cocoa Cookies.  Using black cocoa powder gives these cookies an oreo-like flavor and dark brown/black color.  The Oreo filling buttercream is super creamy and soft, and is a perfect match for the dark chocolatey cookie.

Oreo Cream Pies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 cups all purpose flour
6 Tablespoons cocoa powder (I used half cocoa powder and half black cocoa powder)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4  teaspoon salt

Oreo Filling Buttercream:
6 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
Filling from 12 Double Stuff Oreos 
2 cups powdered sugar
2 Double Stuff Oreos
Milk to thin (if necessary)

For the cookies, beat the butter and sugar together in a medium bowl until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and corn syrup and beat until well blended.  In a smaller bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat until blended.  Cover and refrigerate the dough for about 1 hour, or until firm.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Scoop the dough and roll into approximately 1 inch balls.  Place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies flatten.  Cool on the pan for about 1 minute, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

In a medium bowl, combine the butter and Oreo filling, and beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until completely incorporated.  Add the powdered sugar and beat until incorporated.  Beat in the Oreos until they are well crushed into the frosting, with no large chunks remaining.  If the frosting is too thick, beat in small amounts of milk until it reaches the desired consistency.

Spoon the desired amount of frosting on the bottom of one completely cooled cookie.  Top with another cookie and press lightly together.  

Enjoy!  -Cardamommy

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tropical Banana Bread

This is my last recipe in the banana bunch.  I have successfully used up the last of the tenderized bananas, and don't have 7 loaves of banana bread.  This makes me happy.  This banana bread is a little different.  It is definitely banana bread, but other flavors play a big role.  The addition of almond extract, lime zest, and crystalized ginger bump this banana bread out of the "plain old" category and into one a little more complex.  You can substitute orange zest for the lime, and golden raisins (I ran out, darn it!) for the dark raisins.

Tropical Banana Bread

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 Tablespoon grated lime peel
3 bananas, mashed
2 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 Tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely diced

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter, oil, brown sugar, honey, vanilla extract, almond extract, and lime zest.  Add the mashed bananas and eggs, and beat until well combined.  In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.  Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and beat on low speed until just combined, being careful not to overbeat.  Stir in the raisins, coconut, and ginger. 

Pour the batter into the prepared 9x5 inch loaf pan and bake in the preheated oven for about 60 to 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove the bread from the oven and let cool in the pan for about 15 to 20 minutes.  Gently run a knife around the edge of the bread and carefully turn out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Enjoy!  -Cardamommy
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