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In the 1980s-90s, my husband and I lived in a rural area called Blue Jay, located on the Ohio/Indiana border.  My husband had a huge garden and every kind of berry bush and fruit tree that does well in our area.  My favorites were the black raspberries and we got bumper crops year after year.  I used them in every conceivable way, but regret that I found this recipe after we had to leave our country home and all the wonderful berries.  It’s a quick, easy way to turn 1-½ cups of fresh raspberries into a delicious dessert with a little cake and lots of berries.

Butter is melted in the oven in a 9-inch pie plate.  Then cake batter is poured over the butter (no stirring) and berries are scattered on top along with a sprinkling of sugar.  The cake rises up over the berries to form a thin layer and is delicious warm from the oven or at room temperature.

Raspberry Mountain


¼ cup butter, cut into small pieces
½ cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Dash of salt
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¾ tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup plus 2 Tblsp. milk
1-½ cups fresh raspberries
Additional 1-1/2 Tblsp. granulated sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and melt butter in 9-inch pie plate   Heat until butter is melted but not brown.

Meanwhile, mix flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, salt and baking powder in bowl.

Stir in milk.  Pour this batter over the melted butter – DO NOT STIR.

Drop berries over top, scattering evenly over surface.  DO NOT STIR.

Sprinkle 2 Tblsp. granulated sugar on top and bake for 30 minutes @ 350 F degrees.

The butter and batter rise to make a thin top crust that is buttery, sugary and crunchy at the edges.

Delicious plain or with a bit of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. 

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A couple of weeks ago, I hosted a birthday lunch for my younger daughter at Bucca di Beppo restaurant in Cincinnati.  I ordered three of their (large) desserts for the six of us to share:  cheesecake, cannoli and Italian Cream Cake.  I expected the Italian Cream Cake to be the one I’m familiar with that has pecans, coconut and a cream cheese frosting.  The cake here was light-textured with a mascarpone/cream cheese filling/frosting and a drizzle of raspberry sauce.  It seemed to have a very light touch of lemon either in the cake or in the filling.

It was delicious but especially memorable because my 15-year-old grandson loved it so much.  He said he was in heaven when he tasted a piece of this cake – this from a boy who will eat no kind of pie except apple.

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I knew I had to try to duplicate the cake.  I could find no copycat recipes  and spent time looking through recipes for cream cakes, mascarpone filling and raspberry puree to come to this adaptation.

Italian Cream Cake with Raspberry Puree


2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-½ cups cake flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Grease and flour a 9-inch square cake pan or round pie pan.  I used a vintage tube pan and increased the baking time about 10 minutes.

In a large mixer bowl, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla, beating well.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Add the flour mixture alternately with the whipping cream to the egg mixture, beginning and ending with flour and beating well after each addition.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

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Place on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.  Run a knife around the edges to loosen and invert onto a rack.  Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes, then lift the cake pan off and allow the cake to cool completely.

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When cake is completely cool, separate into layers by placing cake on a piece of parchment paper and inserting toothpicks at the midpoint of the sides of the cake, leaving 3 inches or so between toothpicks.

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Resting a serrated knife on the toothpicks, carefully slice around the cake.  Go around a second time cutting toward the center until cake has been cut in two.

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Place the bottom of the cake on the serving cake plate.

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Mascarpone Filling
1-½ cups heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup powdered sugar, divided
8 oz. mascarpone cheese at room temperature
½ tsp. lemon extract

In the large bowl of a mixer and using whisk attachment, beat whipping cream and 1/3 cup sugar until stiff peaks form.  (Don’t whip too long to form butter.)

In a separate bowl with whisk attachment, beat mascarpone cheese, 1/3 cup sugar and lemon extract until creamy and smooth.

Fold the mascarpone mixture into the whipped cream.

Spoon the mascarpone filling generously on the top of the layer on the plate.  This makes a lot of filling, so you can be generous.

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Place the top layer, cut surface up, on the bottom layer and continue to spoon filling on the top of cake.

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If there is filling left over, it can be placed in a bowl and served along with the cake or refrigerated in a covered container to use as topping on pudding, Jello, etc.  The mascarpone will keep the whipped cream stabilized for about a week.

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Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve and refrigerate any leftovers.

Serve with just a drizzle of raspberry puree.

Raspberry Puree
Two 12-oz bags frozen unsweetened raspberries
2-4 Tblsp. granulated sugar (to taste)

Remove berries from bag and allow to defrost in a strainer over a bowl for 6-8 hours (or overnight).  Microwaving them will take away some of the flavor.

Press with a wooden spoon and then force through a fine sieve to remove seeds.  I used a food mill first and then pressed through a large fine sieve.

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Stir in the granulated sugar, cover and refrigerate.  I like to remove the puree at dinner time and let it set at room temperature until dessert is served.  This makes about 1-½ cups of puree.  Place in a pretty pitcher to drizzle over the cream cake.

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The puree is very strong-flavored and intense, so a drizzle is just right to complement the cake and filling.  Six to eight servings.

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The cake was delicious, although not exactly like Bucca di Beppo’s, but the important thing was that my grandson loved it just as much and asked to take some home with him – I sent him off with the remaining half-cake.


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I adapted this recipe from one found on Veronica’s Cornucopia for Wacky Pumpkin Spice Cake.   Without eggs or milk, this makes a wonderfully moist, soft cake and the light glaze makes a cupcake that’s not too sweet or rich.

BANANA PUMPKIN CUPCAKES WITH MAPLE GLAZE

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
½  tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
½ cup banana puree
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
¾ cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil (Canola)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tsp. banana extract
½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 12 cupcake sections or insert 12 paper or silicone cups.

In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, and baking soda.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the banana, pumpkin, water, oil, vinegar, and banana extract.

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Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chopped nuts.  Pour into the prepared cupcake pan …
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…and bake for approximately 22-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Allow the cupcakes to stay in the pan for five minutes. After five minutes, remove the cupcakes from the silicone liners and allow to cool completely on a rack.
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Maple Glaze
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 Tblsp. maple syrup
¼ tsp. oil (Canola)

Mix the sugar, syrup and oil with a spoon until smooth.

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While the cupcakes are still warm, place about ½ tsp. of Maple Glaze on top of the cakes and swirl around with the back of a spoon.
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Yield:  12 cupcakes

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This recipe is from a favorite cookbook I received as a gift in 1982 – Seasoned with Sunshine, a collection of recipes from Florida.  This is a thin, delicious, moist cake that is easy to make.  It makes a nice luncheon or supper dessert.

DELICIOUS DATE CAKE

  • ½ cup dates, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. soda
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Preheat oven @ 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8×8 inch pan.

In a small bowl, mix dates, soda and boiling water; set aside to cool.

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By hand or in an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar, add egg.  Sift flour and salt together and add to creamed mixture.  Blend in cooled date mixture with liquid.  Pour into well-greased 8×8 pan.  Sprinkle on Pecan Topping* ingredients, beginning with brown sugar, then pecans and then the chocolate chips.
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*Pecan Topping:

  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
  • ½ cup chocolate chips

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Bake @ 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

6 servings.  Delicious plain ….

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… or with ice cream, whipped cream or whipped topping.

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This is a quick and easy dessert made from leftover cake and unsweetened applesauce.  It would be even more delicious with homemade applesauce, but in a pinch, this is a good dessert.  Any kind of cake would be good, but something with a spicy, sharp flavor is especially nice.  This is my adaptation of a favorite Norwegian dessert and a good way to use up some leftover cake.

APPLESAUCE AND CAKE PARFAIT

  • 2-½ cups leftover cake*
  • 1-½ cups unsweetened applesauce
  • ¾ cup frozen whipped topping, thawed

*I used 6 of my white wine mini-cakes (recipe here)
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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Crumble cake or pulse several times in food processor.  Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree F oven for 20 minutes.  Stir, spread and break up clumps of cake every 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.
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Measure out 1/3 cup of crumbs and spoon 1-1/2 tablespoons of this measurement into a parfait glass.  Top with 2 Tblsp. of applesauce and 1 Tblsp. of whipped topping.
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Repeat with 1-1/2 Tblsp. from measurement of crumbs, 2 Tblsp. applesauce and 1 Tblsp. topping.  Place remaining measure of crumbs on top.

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Repeat with remaining 5 glasses.  Cover each and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

6 servings 

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I used tall wine glasses but the same amount will fit into a pretty dessert dish.
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Rett at the Gazebo House posted the most interesting recipe for a White Wine Cake here.

I didn’t change very much when I tried it.  Her version was gluten-free and mine is not, she made hers in a bundt pan and I chose to make mini-cakes in a muffin/cupcake tin, I used walnuts because I couldn’t find my pecans in the freezer and I made half a recipe of glaze for just the tops of the cakes.  Please check out Rett’s blog for this recipe and for the most gorgeous tablescapes.  Her table ware and arrangements are just spectacular.

WHITE WINE MINI-CAKES

  • ½ cup plus 2 Tblsp. chopped walnuts
  • 15.25 oz. box yellow cake mix (Betty Crocker)
  • 3.2 oz. package instant vanilla pudding
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¾ cup unsweetened applesauce (Mott’s)
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ c light brown sugar
  • ¼ c granulated sugar
  • ½ c white wine (Chardonnay)

Glaze

  • 1/2 cup butter, cut in cubes
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup white wine (Chardonnay)

Grease and flour two 12-cup muffin/cupcake tins.  After greasing the cups, place ½ tsp. flour in each cup and tilt and swirl pan to cover the bottom and sides of cups.  I always hold the pan over the sink for this so any excess flour falls there and not on the counter and floor.
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Sprinkle nuts in the bottom of each cup section.  Set aside.

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In the large bowl of an electric mixer, place cake flour, vanilla pudding mix, water, applesauce, cinnamon, eggs, brown sugar, granulated sugar and white wine.  Mix at medium speed for 3 minutes.  Divide batter among the 24 cups (a heaping ¼ cup for each).  The batter should be about ¼ inch from the top edge.

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Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center of one cake comes out clean.

Place tins on racks and allow to rest for about 3 minutes.  Remove cakes from tins and place on racks, bottom sides up (nuts will show).  After a few minutes turn the cakes so they don’t get deep ridges from the racks on the bottom.

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To make wine glaze:
Place butter, sugar and water in a small pan over medium high heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring, and then let boil for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and add wine.  Place the racks with the cupcakes over waxed paper to catch drips and spoon about 1 tsp. of glaze on top of each cake and spread with spoon so a little drizzles down the side.  After glaze has soaked into the cakes (a few minutes), add another ½ tsp. to each cake.  Let cool on racks.

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Before serving, heat remaining sauce in a small pan or in the microwave, pour into a pitcher and allow each person to add more sauce as desired.  This was a good opportunity for me to use one of the little vintage pitchers I recently found in an antique store. Although it is not a Homer Laughlin like the plate, it matches perfectly.
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Yield:  24 mini-cakes  These freeze well and are nice to pull out for a quick dessert without additional sauce.To reheat, place thawed cakes on a flat pan and place in a cold oven.  Turn oven to heat to 350 degrees F and when it reaches that point, remove the cakes and turn off the oven.  This is just right to heat the cakes properly.


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I had made a crisp using pineapple and dried apricots, and thought it was a wonderful combination.  My daughters and I are all trying to cut back a little on portions, especially dessert portions, and I made these miniature upside-down cakes, using my 1950s tried-and-true recipe, adapting it to a 12-cup muffin tin.  These are really buttery and delicious – one cake was satisfying for each of us as a serving.

APRICOT-PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN MINI CAKES

Apricot-Pineapple Topping

  • 6 Tblsp. butter, divided
  • 6 Tblsp. dark brown sugar, divided
  • 3 slices of pineapple, drained, quartered
  • 12 dried apricots, quartered

Batter

  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1-½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

To make topping:
In each section of a 12-cup muffin tin, place ½ tablespoon of butter.

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Place in warmed oven for 3-5 minutes until butter is melted.  In each section, stir in ½ tablespoon of dark brown sugar (1-½ tsp.).
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Cut quarters of pineapple into 4 wedges and place in each cup.  Add 4 pieces of apricots to make a starburst pattern.  Set aside.

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To make batter:
Place butter, baking powder, vanilla, sugar, flour and salt in mixer bowl.  Beat for 1 minute on medium speed.  Add milk and egg, beat for another minute on medium speed.  Spoon  batter on top of fruit in muffin tin, about 3 tablespoons per section.

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Bake@ 350 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes – tops of cakes should be golden brown.

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Invert the muffin tin on racks and allow to set for abut 3 minutes.

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Lift up the muffin tin and allow cakes to cool.

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Yield:  12 mini-cakes


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