Graham Cracker Apple Crisp with Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce

Many years ago, we had a cookbook from Maine that had the most extraordinary apple pie recipe. It had a layer of crushed graham crackers and caramel sauce underneath the apples. We lost that cookbook in the move to our new kitchen, but every fall when the apples are being harvested I think back to this recipe. This year, I decided to re-create it in an apple crisp. It sure took less time than making a pie, but the flavor combination was there. 
 
For gluten-free cooking, try substituting gluten-free cookies for the graham crackers and brown rice flour for the flour. I think you might be pleased.
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Graham Cracker Apple Crisp with Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce
SERVINGS
9servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
30-40mins
PREP TIME
20mins
READY IN
50-60mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. ​​Lightly grease 8x8” square baking dish​
  2. Filling: Toss apples together with brown sugar, cinnamon,​ flour, salt, lemon zest, lemon juice and the melted butter.
  3. Topping: Melt butter in a medium bowl and add all other topping ingredients. Mix until crumbly and evenly mixed.
  4. Sprinkle over apples and pat down lightly. Bake at 350º for about 30-40 minutes, until apples are soft​ and the filling bubbles and the crisp is golden.​​
  5. Meanwhile make Salted Caramel Sauce​: Add the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a medium​ saucepan. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking it as it begins to melt. ​It's okay if the sugar begins to ​form clumps​-​ keep whisking and as it continues to cook, they will melt back down. Stop whisking once all of the sugar has melted, and swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks.
  6. Continue cooking until the sugar has reached a deep amber color. It should look almost a reddish-brown, and have a slight toasted aroma. This is the point where caramel can go from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds, so keep a close eye. If you are using an instant-read thermometer, it will be around 350 degrees F.​ Watch this step very carefully!​
  7. Remove the caramel from the heat and add the butter all at once. Be careful, as the caramel will bubble up when the butter is added. Whisk the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted.
  8. Slowly pour the cream into the caramel. Again, be careful because the mixture will bubble up ferociously.
  9. Whisk until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have a smooth sauce. Add the fleur de sel ​or kosher salt ​and whisk to incorporate.
  10. Set the sauce aside to cool for 10 to 15 minutes and then pour int​o jars. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 month.
  11. ​Serve crisp warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce.

Summer Double Berry Cobbler

In the coming months, you will from time to time be treated to new recipes from “guest bloggers”. These are old and new friends — dedicated chefs and passionate voices who share our love of cooking. Our lives are enlarged as we welcome them and listen to their unique voices, share in their story and try our hand at their creativity. This week’s recipe is from a dear friend, Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, a wife, mother, grandmother and EWTN TV host. She is an award-winning author of more than two dozen books, including Feeding Your Family’s Soul: Dinner Table Spirituality. She is the founder of the “Feeding the Body and Soul Movement.” More at DonnaCooperOBoyle.com.

From Donna-Marie “Ahh, summertime! A time of well-deserved rest comes with a welcome change of scenery and in-season fruits. While making our plans, let’s not forget about our prayer lives. A change in schedule and eagerness to “get away from it all” might cause us to lose touch with our spiritual needs. We mustn’t let our prayer life go on vacation.


So that family prayer continues to happen throughout summertime, we have to carve out time for it. Many inconveniences pop up in the heart of the family, and God knows we can’t drop to our knees to pray while taking care of pressing family needs. He also knows we are a work in progress, too. When our planned prayer time gets sabotaged or rearranged, we should try again to make it work. If we have done our best, He will surely reward us for persevering, and for training our children and grandchildren to develop committed relationships with Him.

Don’t miss family time in the kitchen, too. Why not make my Summer Double Berry Cobbler together? Make an extra pan and gift it to someone who might need a lift. God bless you! ”

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Summer Double Berry Cobbler
SERVINGS
4servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
30 mins
PREP TIME
20mins
READY IN
50 mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Wash berries (if using frozen berries, no need to wash! and mix with sugar (or honey), lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, cornstarch, vanilla and cinnamon (if using). Place in a buttered pie dish or 4 quart baking dish.
  3. Next, make biscuit dough topping. Whisk together flour, 3 Tbsp. sugar (or honey), baking powder and salt in medium bowl.
  4. Cut the butter into the flour mixture. Make a well in the center and stir in the milk (or yogurt) and beaten egg.
  5. Mix just until combined. Drop by spoonfuls on top of the berries. Bake for 30 min. or until well browned and berry mixture is bubbling and dough is cooked.

Amazingly delicious when served warm with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or even a spoonful of greek yogurt. Enjoy!

Thank you, Donna Marie, for such a delightful summer recipe!
The Gourmet Nuns

Upside Down Pear ​Ginger ​Cake

I’ve heard it said that the sense of smell is the earliest and strongest to develop in humans. I remember once at a restaurant there was a special on oysters that came from the town where I grew up. I splurged and ordered them just for fun. When they arrived and the fresh, salty smell wafted up to me, tears came to my eyes along with so many wonderful memories of my childhood there on the water.

I think it’s the same for many of us at Christmas. There are certain scents that transport you directly into this season of celebration and joy. Take ginger for instance! I love baking days here at the Community — as you cross the common, in addition to the beautiful lights and wreaths and garland, the smells drifting from the kitchen put smiles on everyone’s faces. It actually seems like another way to spread the good news: Christmas is coming! Jesus is on his way, and we’re getting ready — with Ginger Cake!

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Upside Down Pear ​Ginger ​Cake
SERVINGS
8 - 10people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
60minutes
PREP TIME
25minutes
READY IN
1hour, 25 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Start with your ingredients at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9" springform pan​ or ​a cake pan that's at least 2½ inches deep.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the melted butter and brown sugar; mix well and pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Tilt the pan a little from side to side to help the mixture spread all the way to the edge.
  3. Arrange the sliced pears side-by-side over this brown sugar mixture, making sure that they cover the entire bottom of the pan. Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix well with a whisk until airy and fully combined. Set aside.
  5. In the bowl of your stand mixer equipped with the paddle attachment, beat the the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the eggs and beat again until pale and airy.
  7. Incorporate the apple sauce and molasses, mix until well combined, and then add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just incorporated, no more.
  8. Pour over the pears and spread all the way to the edge.
  9. Place a piece of aluminium foil under or around your pan to catch any eventual leakage and bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Let the cake cool for 10 to 15 minutes or until it's cool enough to be handled safely then flip it onto a rimmed cake plate.
  11. Serve warm, garnished with vanilla ice cream, chopped nuts and a drizzle of honey or caramel sauce, if desired.

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Butternut, Sweet Potato and Apple Soup

As we enjoy these cool crisp days, my taste buds long for a creamy soup to warm my body. This soup is a treasure. The smell of it is a potpourri to scent your entire house! It has become our favorite soup for the season. Recently, we served this as the first course to the luncheon we hosted pre-performance for Elements Theater Company’s performance of “All My Sons”. We received so many recipe requests, we thought we should share it. We are filled with gratitude for each of you. Happy Thanksgiving and a blessed Advent!

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Butternut, Sweet Potato and Apple Soup
SERVINGS
6-8
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
45minutes
PREP TIME
30minutes
READY IN
1 1/4hours

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the butternut squash, sweet potatoes, chicken broth, salt and pepper to pot. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes or more.
  3. Turn off the heat. Add the diced apple and purée the soup with a handheld immersion blender until very smooth and creamy. Pour the blended soup into a clean pot.
  4. Add the honey, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg and heavy cream and stir. Bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. If you like a sweeter soup, add more honey.

Note: This soup thickens as it cools. If necessary, add a bit of cream to thin it back to desired consistency.

With thanks to Once Upon a Chef for inspiration of this recipe!

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Caramelized Pear Upside-Down Cake

This week at Villa Via Sacra (Mount Tabor Centre for Art and Spirituality), we’ve been hosting Gabriel V Brass Ensemble as they participate in a-two week musical exchange with the world renowned Gomalan Brass Quintet. It’s always a great privilege and joy to “be in the background” serving these groups as they work hard to perfect their art, learning and discussing the music and seeking to bring it alive through both their personal and corporate vision. Music is a wonderful communicator — even though these groups speak two totally different languages, communicating has not been a problem at all. If you are in Tuscany, following the week of study with Gomalan Gabriel V will present a free concert at the Duomo di San Cristoforo in Barga, Italy on Oct. 6 at 21,00. We hope to see you there!

Benedictine hospitality is at the heart of our mission, and we enjoy “spoiling” the artists with great food as they work tirelessly at their art day after day. Pears are in abundance now in Italy, so I made this wonderful cake for lunch yesterday. It’s quick and easy to throw together, and the moistness of the pears doubled with the homemade caramel just begs to be eaten with a big dollop of whipped cream sprinkled with nutmeg.

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Caramelized Pear Upside-Down Cake
SERVINGS
8people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
45 minutes
PREP TIME
20 minutes
READY IN
1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter the sides of a 9-inch round pan with removable sides (like a cheesecake pan).
  2. Combine the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small saucepan and heat to boiling, then remove from heat. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Arrange the pears over the butter mixture and press down.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until very smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle in the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt, and beat 10 seconds. Pour in the milk and beat just until the batter is evenly moistened, about 1 minute. Pour the batter over the pears, then carefully lift the pan and bang back down on the counter once or twice to release any air bubbles.
  5. Bake approximately 45 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. Run a knife along the outer edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Place a plate over the cake, then flip it over to invert the cake onto the pan. Let the cake cool completely before serving.
  6. Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream sprinkled with nutmeg. Thank you to "Living Well Spending Less" for this wonderful recipe!

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Hummingbird Cake

I was recently introduced to this classic southern cake through one of my friends from the Deep South. I was intrigued by the name as my mom keeps a dish of grape jelly on her porch to attract hummingbirds and has regular visitors. The Hummingbird Cake is a very unusual one; it’s made with oil rather than butter, and contains more fruit than flour. The mix doesn’t need beating, is wonderful with a cream cheese frosting, and is flavored with interesting spices and pecans. Contrary to the name, there are no birds in this particular recipe! The giveaway to the Hummingbird Cake’s birthplace, however, is in the key ingredients – bananas and pineapple. It’s thought to have been invented in Jamaica, probably in the late ‘60s, and introduced to society through Southern Living magazine by a Mrs. L.H. Wiggin in 1978.

Since it’s a dessert made for ladies, we thought it would be a crowd pleasing addition to our weekly Harborside Teas. We always offer two choices of dessert, and it was fun to have a whole new recipe and an unusual one at that. It was so popular that we thought it warranted giving away the recipe. A thin slice will do you – this cake is rich!  And oh, so good…

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Hummingbird Cake
SERVINGS
12people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
25 minutes
PREP TIME
15 minutes
READY IN
1 1/2 hrs (with cooling time)

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare three 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Cream together the eggs, oil, vanilla extract, pineapple, mashed bananas, and finely chopped pecans in another large bowl.
  4. Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Evenly divide the batter between the three prepared pans and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Turn cakes onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely before frosting with cream cheese frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Cream the cream cheese with an electric mixer.
  2. Add in butter and cream together with cream cheese until light and fluffy.
  3. Add confectioners’ sugar, ½ cup at a time. After each cup has been incorporated, turn the mixer onto the highest speed setting and for about 10 seconds to lighten the frosting.
  4. Add in vanilla and cream until well-blended, light and fluffy.

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