Russian Apple Pie

Russian Apple Pie

It’s wonderful having friends with rich heritages. Years ago, when a friend / former co-worker of mine started dating a wonderful Kazakh gal, I suddenly started noting how the food she brought in for lunch was influenced. She used to be a raw salad and kombucha person, like clockwork, but soon, plastic containers of borscht started to make regular appearances. Even years later, it is quite common to see Russian Apple Pie appear at their house parties. Granted, it’s more akin to a cake than a traditional pie, but the name remains as is!

Recently, when Irina celebrated her Big 3-2, Melissa was in the kitchen whipping up that luscious dessert. The directions? So simple! She had the ingredients written down in a notebook with one note, verbatim: “Bake 350 20 min.”

I figured I could give it a try, eh?

Russian Apple Pie

This past weekend, I went up to Connecticut for a family event, celebrating Christmas a few weeks late and the pending of arrivals of two cousins’ babies. I offered to make an extra dessert, this easy dish in mind.

Russian Apple Pie

Perhaps, unfortunately for me, barely anyone touched it because I was unaware that a giant fondant elephant-topped chocolate mousse cake to celebrate my cousin Simone’s son would also be present. But hey, more leftovers for me to nosh on!

Russian Apple Pie

Russian Apple Pie
(Serves 8)

Ingredients:

– 1 cup flour
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 3 eggs
– 1/2 cup water
– 2 Granny Smith Apples, unpeeled
– 1 cup walnuts, whole or chopped

Before We Get Started…

– Apples must be Granny Smith or another tart variety. Do not use sweeter apples in this dish.

– Walnuts can be whole or chopped, depending on the texture you prefer. I’ve made the pie with both and they’ve been wonderful!

– Though this could be baked in a variety of pans, I make this in a pie plate or a round cake pan.

– That original note stated “Bake 350 20 min”, but I found I had to bake it longer. Bake for at least 30 minutes, but check the pie at the 20 minute mark, as different ovens bake slightly differently.

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350°F.

2.) Core and slice apples into eight even sections. Place slices at bottom of a lightly greased pie plate or round cake pan; the slices should cover the bottom of the pan in a single layer, so if you start to pile slices on top of each other, remove those extra slices. Sprinkle apples with walnuts.

3.) In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and cinnamon; whisk until combined. Add eggs and water to dry mixture and whisk again until combined.

4.) Pour batter on top of apples and walnuts; the batter should coat / cover everything, but if a few apple slices or walnuts break out of the top of the batter slightly, that is fine!

5.) Bake for 30 – 35 minutes; remove from oven and allow to cool on cooling rack for 15 minutes before serving.

 

This is a photo of the Russian Apple Pie from my friend’s birthday party. She used a smaller pie plate than I did to make this recipe, hence the smoother top. Still delicious, regardless!

 

cranberry cobbler dessert martha stewart

Cranberry Cobbler

Yes, I know, I know, I’m posting two cranberry recipes back to back. *shrug* This is just too good not to share right now!

How was your Thanksgiving, dear reader? I had a lovely holiday up in my hometown in Northwestern Connecticut. Despite cracking my rib and pulling a muscle in my mid-left back, I traveled up on MetroNorth, loaded with hospital-grade disposable heating pads and a lot of Extra Strength Tylenol.

cranberry cobbler dessert martha stewart

The quirky wonderful kitchen of my childhood home.

I had a lovely time with my family, from my rambunctious teenage cousins to my wacky (I say with much affection!) aunts to my uncles that just go with the flow. It was a wonderful afternoon filled with delicious food and some great memories. One of my aunts put me on dessert duty; I had lots of ideas, but was unsure what to execute. I knew she was making an apple pie and another aunt was bringing pumpkin pies. Well, there went my top two ideas!

Thank you, Google. Typing in “Easy Thanksgiving Desserts” saved my hide.

cranberry cobbler dessert martha stewart

This recipe is unique as it’s not quite what you or I would consider a traditional cobbler. I correlate “cobbler” with something a little juicier with a biscuity topping. This recipe yields a cakey batter that is wonderfully springy with a fantastic buttery flavor; there is almost an entire stick of butter in this baby. (Beat still my beating heart! Like…literally. That butter might clog it up. Ha!) The cranberries are tart, yet they slightly mellow out when baked.

cranberry cobbler dessert martha stewart

My two teenaged cousins, Erik and Colby, love to eat ALL OF THE FOOD, but can be picky as well. When they saw this cobbler and ate half of it themselves, telling me how much they loved it, I took that as the ultimate compliment.

cranberry cobbler dessert martha stewart

Thank you, Martha. Girl, you saved me this Thanksgiving.

cranberry cobbler dessert martha stewart

Cranberry Cobbler
(Adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe for Cranberry Cobbler)
(Serves 8)

Ingredients:

– 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
– 1 & 1/4 cup fresh cranberries
– 3/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 & 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 cup whole milk
– 1 large egg
– 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 1 tablespoon water

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter or grease a round 10″ pan and set aside.

2.) Combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt and set aside. Whisk together milk and egg in a separate bowl, then slowly stream in and whisk melted butter until combined. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and combined thoroughly. Pour into prepared pan.

3.) In a small bowl, combine cranberries, water, 2 tablespoons sugar, and cinnamon. Gently drop cranberries on top of batter in pan.

4.) Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until cake is springy to the touch. Remove, place on cooling rack, and cool for at least minutes until serving.

milk chocolate cake caramel

Milk Chocolate Cake with Chocolate-Caramel Frosting

Let us throw back to last weekend, once again, as I was home in Connecticut to celebrate Father’s Day with the world’s most chocolate-loving pa. How could I not make a chocolate cake for my father, a man that I have seen making pudding or brownie at midnight simply to satisfy cravings over the years?

I love this cake because it has a unique texture. There are so many words I could use, but these are the ones I choose: Light. Dense. Spongy. Airy. Rich. Brownie-like. Am I aware none of these terms line up well? Most certainly. Still, they all make sense. The majority of the chocolate used in this recipe is straight-up milk chocolate, with a much more limited amount of cocoa, which adds to the richness. The addition of buttermilk gives this cake some extra spring in its step.

milk chocolate cake caramel

I did take this recipe from Epicurious and adapted it slightly, as I was lazy and opted for milk chocolate chips over milk chocolate bars I could shave. My cake was sans chocolate shavings for the topping, but I don’t believe my parents were upset. They sure ate it as though they enjoyed it. Though, I do not exactly agree with Epicurious referring to this as a “one-bowl” recipe. I definitely used three bowls in total, plus a saucepan. Then again, I’m Type A and had to sift my flour and other dry ingredients together prior to adding it to the chocolate, unlike in the original recipe in which Epicurious indicates to sift the dry ingredients straight into the chocolate mix. I’m just not that rebellious. #sorrynotsorry

milk chocolate cake caramel

milk chocolate cake caramel

Milk Chocolate Cake with Chocolate-Caramel Frosting
(Adapted from Epicurious’ recipe for One-Bowl Milk Choclate Cake with Chocolate-Caramel Frosting)
(Makes 15 pieces)

Ingredients:

Cake:
– 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
– 1/2 cup cocoa
– 6 ounces high-quality milk chocolate, chopped, or 6 ounces high-quality milk chocolate chips
– 3 large eggs
– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
– 1 & 1/2 cups sugar
– 1 cup buttermilk
– 2 &1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon salt

Frosting:
– 9 ounces high-quality milk chocolate, chopped, or 9 ounces high-quality milk chocolate chips
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 3/4 cup heavy cream
– 1/2 cup store-bought caramel sauce

Before We Get Started…

– If you do not feel like buying buttermilk, combine 1 cup whole milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice or 1 tablespoon white vinegar. Stir mixture and allow to sit for 10 – 15 minutes or until small curds are visible.

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour a 13×9″,  tapping out any excess. Set aside.

2.) Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add chocolate and cocoa; whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and cool for five minutes.

3.) Whisk eggs and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk sugar into egg mixture until combined. Stream in buttermilk while whisking, then stream in chocolate mixture while whisking until smooth.

4.) In a late bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add dry mixture into chocolate mixture, whisking until batter is thoroughly combined.

5.) Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove pan and place on to a wire rack; allow cake to cool completely.

6. For the frosting, add 9 ounces milk chocolate to a large bowl; add salt and vanilla and set aside. In a small saucepan, cook heavy cream over medium heat until barely simmering; bubbles should just start breaking the surface. Pour cream over chocolate and allow to sit for 3 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Add caramel and whisk until combined. Place frosting in refrigerator for 1 hour.

7.) Remove frosting from refrigerator and stir. Spread frosting on in an even layer; if desired, drizzle with additional caramel sauce.

8.) Slice and serve!