Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hey Good Lookin', Whatcha Got Cooking?

There is nothing I look forward to more than cooking something that I love. That's one of my favorite things about holidays. I get to cook tasty things and then have enough people to feed them to. The hubby and I were going to a cookout with some friends and I was in charge of desserts. 

Can you guess what I'm making?

I'm actually making two recipes. Two of my FAVORITE recipes of all time. The first is my Memommie's Banana Pudding. It is by far the tastiest banana pudding on the planet. Then, I'll be making coca-cola cake. This is my mama's favorite thing that I bake and when I do, we never, ever have left overs. 

I am OBSESSED with my Kitchenaid Mixer. It was my dream present when my hubby and I got married and my terrific uncle bought it for us. It is my kitchen pride and joy. My other obsession is my recipe book. I love, love, love it. It's cute and colorful and full of some of the tastiest things I've ever eaten. 

 First- we'll start with the banana pudding. Here's what you'll need:

For the custard- 1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
dash of salt
5 egg yolks
3 cups of milk
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
Meringue- 1/4 cup of sugar
5 egg whites
5-6 bananas
Double Boiler

The trick to a terrific banana pudding is to make homemade custard instead of the instant pudding. Sure, the instant pudding saves time, but there is no taste quite as good as a homemade custard. The first thing you have to do is separate your eggs. I'm no good at separating them with my fingers. I always crush the yolk. My terrific mother-in-law gave me this egg separator and I just love it. It is very important to make sure that you do not get any yolk in with the whites because when you use the whites later, they will not peak like they should if there is yolk with them. Another lesson I learned the hard way before I had my separator.

 Once the eggs are separated, combine the yolks, sugar, flour, salt, and milk in the double boiler. You have to stir it continuously so it does not scorch. It will start out a little frothy, like the picture on the left. Keep stirring until it thickens up and looks like the custard on the left. Once the custard is ready, remove it from the heat and then stir in the vanilla. In our house, we are crazy about our custard, so I always make two batches of custard and combine them in a bigger bowl.

Next, it's time to slice the bananas. I like to slice them thin so you get the flavor of the banana without huge chunks of it in each bite. However, if you like them to be thicker, feel free. 

Once all bananas are sliced and the custard is complete, it's time to construct the pudding. Put custard on the bottom first so that the Nilla Wafers have something to stick to. I put just a little on the bottom so that there is more for the other layers. The layer order goes like this: custard, Nilla Wafers, Bananas. Repeat it three times with one extra layer of custard to go on top. 

 Once it's all put together, it's time to make the meringue. This is the absolute easiest step of the entire recipe. Take 5 egg whites and 1/4 cup of sugar and, using a hand mixer, beat them until it forms soft peaks. Then, gently cover the top of the pudding like the pictures below.        


 Then, bake at 350 until it is light brown on top. This only look about 10 minutes in my oven, but you don't want to burn it, so make sure you check it frequently since every oven is different.

Next is the Coca Cola Cake. The first time I ever made this was during a visit from two of my favorite friends in the world. We like to try new recipes together and we found this one and couldn't wait. I found it on Pinterest and it originally comes from this blog:

Here's what you need:

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

*Mix all of these ingredients in a bowl together.

 Then, you'll need:
1 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup coca cola
1/2 cup buttermilk.
*Combine these ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until it boils. Then remove from heat and add it to the dry mixture. Mix until well combined.

 Then add
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla
*Pour into pan and cook for approximately 30 minutes. Instead of one large cake, I made a small loaf pan cake and then 12 cupcakes. The cupcakes only take about 12-15 minutes, but the loaf pan cake took the entire 30 minutes. Check it often because this is one cake you don't want to overbake.

Once the cake is almost finished, start with the glaze. For that, you'll need:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup of coca cola
4 cups of confectioner's sugar
about a cup of chopped nuts, if desired. *The original recipe says chopped pecans, but I do a combination of peanuts and pecan. If you don't like nuts, or are allergic to them, you can totally remove this ingredient.

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until it boils. Remove from heat and then slowly add in 4 cups of conf. sugar. Another lesson I learned the hard way? Adding it quickly will result in a powdered sugar explosion. It was literally everywhere. NO kidding.

By the way, I want to point out that I always use glass bottle coke in this recipe because, quite frankly, it is the best. Plus, who minds having a few left over glass bottles to enjoy on a hot summer day? Not this girl.

Oh- I almost forgot to point out this little kitchen helper. I LOVE my Rachael Ray garbage bowl. I never, ever win things. However, one day a few years ago I won this from a random Nabisco give-away. You can check them out here because they have tons of colors: I love being able to clean as I cook, and while I'm sure that any bowl would do the trick, I still love my sweet prize.

And HERE is the final Coca Cola Cake product... By the way, if I could find a way to capture how good this dessert smells and put it up here, I would totally do that.

Happy baking! Sending love your way!