Hidden Blessing

I love the way God slips blessings into our lives—sometimes in the most unexpected, unusual, personal ways. Perhaps it would mean nothing to someone else, but somehow you know He did that, and He did it just for you! Decades ago, I was walking the beach after a hurricane, checking out the damage, and as I looked down I spotted what looked like a 3×5 recipe card—roughed up a bit and written in a scrawl, it read Simple Apple cake. Being not much of a cook in those days, the work “simple” jumped out and decades later I’m still using it—simple, delicious, quintessential comfort food!

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Hidden Blessing
SERVINGS
6-8servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
30mins
PREP TIME
12mins
READY IN
45mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Mix all together in a bowl.
  2. Bake in a greased and floured 9” pan for 30 minutes at 350.
  3. Serve warm with a generous dollop of whipped cream!

My Favorite Re-torte!

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My Favorite Re-torte!
A number of our Sisters really love to cook and are always up for the challenge of something fresh, creative, and different—and find great satisfaction in researching and trying out new ideas. It’s personally rewarding, but the best part is being able to bless our many guests and visitors with menus inspired by lots of research, experimenting, and prayer! However, that’s not to dismiss some classic favorites, that consistently receive rave reviews—and one of them is Blitz Torte—a deliciously rich yellow layer cake with creamy custard filling, and golden meringue topped with crunchy toasted almonds.
SERVINGS
8-10servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
30mins
PREP TIME
30mins
READY IN
30mins

Ingredients

Instructions

Cake
  1. Cream ½ cup of the sugar with softened butter. Add egg yolks and blend well.
  2. After adding baking powder and salt to the flour, add alternately to the sugar mixture with milk and 1 tsp vanilla. Spread in 2 well-greased and floured 8” cake tins.
  3. Beat the 4 egg whites until stiff, slowly adding the remaining 1 cup sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Spread over cake batter and sprinkle with sliced almonds.
  4. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. (Poke down through meringue with a long toothpick to be sure cake is done)
Custard filling
  1. Combine sugar, cornstarch, egg yolk and milk in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmering boil, stirring constantly. Cool and add 1 tsp vanilla and butter.
  2. When set and cooled, spread custard between the two cake layers. Just before serving, spread the top layer with sweetened whipped cream with 1 tsp vanilla added—then add fresh fruit for color and interest.

Gluten Free Crepes

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Gluten Free Crepes
SERVINGS
14crepes
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
crepes
COOK TIME
5mins
PREP TIME
5mins
READY IN
10mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and mix until batter is smooth ( 15-20 seconds).
  2. Spray non-stick cooking spray onto a 8 inch frying or crepe pan. Pour 1/4 cup batter into the pan and cook over medium-low heat. Turn pan immediately from side to side to evenly coat the bottom of the pan.
  3. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side, or until lightly golden. Remove from heat and stack with a piece of baking paper between each one until ready to serve.
  4. Serve with your favorite toppings...we love fresh fruit!

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

Many years ago when terms like “special diet,” “wheat-free,” etc. were seldom being used, I was introduced to a flourless chocolate cake by a friend whose good judgment regarding food I respected. She maintained that this cake had become a favorite of many whether or not they had any food restrictions. Her husband had some serious ones, but now loved and ate it whenever it was available.

Still skeptical, I put the recipe away until another time. When I’d given up some of my opinions, I made it myself and I became an avid believer!

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Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
SERVINGS
8
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
45mins
PREP TIME
20mins
READY IN
1 1/2hrs

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Grease an 8-inch spring form pan and line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the parchment when in place.
  3. Place the one pound of chocolate in a double boiler on medium-low heat and stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted.
  4. Immediately stir in the butter, flour, sugar, coffee granules, and salt, whisking in the egg yolks until smooth.
  5. Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until they form soft peaks. Scrape the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and fold them in carefully with a rubber spatula.
  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, level the top, and bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Turn the oven off and leave the cake in the oven, cracking the oven door open and allow the cake to cool in the oven for an hour.
  8. Carefully remove the sides of the pan and slide the cake onto a flat serving plate.
  9. Top with whipped cream, a dusting of cocoa powder, raspberries and a sprig of fresh mint for an elegant--and flourless--chocolate dessert!

Chocolate Babka

One of our sisters has a special interest in cooking the foods of other countries. Over time she has heard me repeat many stories of my Ukrainian mother’s experiences with food and what I learned about it through her.

Perhaps my favorite memory is that of packing our picnic boxes for our all-day blueberry picking excursions. These always contained fresh baked babka, lots of butter some fresh boiled eggs from our chickens and a little horseradish root from our garden. Today’s blog features a glorified babka bread filled with chocolate…enjoy!

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Chocolate Babka
SERVINGS
2loaves
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
loaves
COOK TIME
30mins
PREP TIME
20mins
READY IN
5 1/2hrs (3 hrs rising, 2 1/2 chilling)

Ingredients

Instructions

Babka Dough
  1. Combine yeast with warm water and let stand until it begins to bubble, about 5-8 minutes.
  2. Mix flour, sugar, yeast, and lemon zest in a mixer on a low speed until combined.
  3. Add eggs and water, and mix on medium speed until dough comes together, 2-3 minutes. Add salt, then butter, adding a few cubes at a time, mixing until thoroughly combined. Continue mixing for about 10 minutes on medium speed, until dough is completely smooth,and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl during this step!
  4. Place dough in a large greased bowl cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
  5. Grease two 9x4 inch loaf pans with oil and line the bottom of each pan with waxed paper. Divide dough in half and keep one half covered in the fridge.
Filling and Baking
  1. Whisk together powdered sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate, and butter until you have a spreadable paste.
  2. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface and shape into a rectangle as wide as the pans are long.
  3. Position dough so that a long side is closest to you and spread half of the chocolate mixture over the rectangle, leaving a ¾ inch/2 cm border all around.
  4. Roll up the rectangle like a jellyroll, starting from the long side closest to you and ending at the other long end. Press to seal the dampened end, then use both hands to even out the roll into a uniform roll and place it on your surface seam side down.
  5. Trim about ¾ inch/2 cm off both ends, and slice the loaf into even 1-inch segments. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for 1½ hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove plastic wrap and place loaves on middle rack of oven, and bake for about 25-30 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven when done and let cool. Babka will stay fresh for 24 hours in an airtight container at room temperature or tightly wrapped--don’t place in the fridge.
  8. Babka freezes well for up to 2 months. To thaw, leave on counter or overnight in the fridge, and leftovers make excellent bread pudding or fabulous French Toast!

Apricot Butter Cookies

Tonight, our Convent was humming with Christmas cheer as we readied our home for Christmas. Some wrapped presents to send to families, other Sisters spent time catching up with old friends as they penned their lovely cards. In the kitchen, we turned on Bing Crosby and poured over old fashioned family recipes as we pondered which cookies we would make this year. The royal icing was prepared and crispy butter cookies were being decorated with sprinkles covering every surface. I remembered a cookie that I hadn’t baked in years and a favorite to be sure. In fact, you won’t find this anywhere else on the internet, at least I couldn’t. Cut from an old magazine, pressed onto an index card and covered in plastic, this shows how treasured this recipe is. Sometimes baking can restore wonderful memories of times past and other times it just puts a smile on your face, honey in your belly and much joy for the adventures ahead. I love Christmas. The beauty, the magic and most of all the precious gift that is awaiting us in the form of a little baby on Christmas morning.

May the season of light be yours this year. Blessed Christmas!

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Apricot Butter Cookies
SERVINGS
32cookies
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
cookies
COOK TIME
30mins
PREP TIME
10mins
READY IN
1 1/2hr

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. To make the filling: In a small saucepan, combine the apricots, sugar and water and simmer for 15-18 min. or until the liquid is reduced by half and add the rum or brandy. Let the mixture cool slightly and in a food processor or blender, puree it.
  2. Make the shortbread cookie dough. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate standing mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and the egg, beating the mixture until it is well combined. Slowly, add the flour mixture in stages and mix until just combined, but don't over mix or your shortbread will be tough.
  3. Form the dough into a log, wrap well in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hr. Divide the log into 4 pieces.
  4. Working with one piece of dough at a time, place the dough in plastic wrap and roll into an 8 inch long rope - place on a parchment covered sheet pan and make a canal down the center with your finger so the log becomes a 8 x 2" rectangle with a channel in the middle.
  5. Spread the apricot puree in the canals.
  6. Bake the cookie sticks in a 350 degree oven for 18-20 min. until the edges are slightly golden.
  7. Transfer to a rack and let them cool.
  8. In a small bowl, whisk together the glaze ingredients and add just enough water to make a thick but pour-able icing - you want it to be on the thick side.
  9. If desired, transfer the glaze to a squeeze bottle or piping bag and drizzle the icing over the cookies.
  10. Cut the rectangles diagonally into 1" strips.
  11. The cookies will keep in the freezer or in an airtight container for 1 week.

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!