This is hardly an era for simple cakes when there are so many exciting new flavor combinations to try, add-ins to fold, or baked good fusions to pursue, but something about the holiday season always has me looking back at classics. Chocolate crinkle cookies, sugared roll-outs, cinnamon rolls, candied nuts, and ah, yes, that ever-present combination of spices that just sings out YES, IT’S TIME. This spice cake will raise its voice in that song.
Now you can join the cake and this strange, merry choir of spices. Slice it up with a nice cup of coffee or tea, enjoying its simplicity and surprising depth of spice when paired with a nice beverage. If you want to add a bit of naughty, hey, just hot up that toddy. Though really, the usual purveyors of hot toddies are aunties sharing a cold remedy rather than salacious youths looking to squeeze in another drop of the good stuff in any instance. Regardless of intent, it’d be excellent with a bit of brandy, I dare say.
It is the ultimate in hacker’s desserts. Requiring minimal effort but reaping maximum salty-sweet nexus rewards. It’s saltine crack! The most addictive toffees of them all. Sugar, butter, salt, chocolate… what more could you want? How about some roasted almonds? Coconut? Toasted walnuts? A sprinkle of colorful M&Ms? Let your heart be your guide in trying to improve upon the genius that is saltine crack toffee.
- 40-52 saltines, enough to cover a jellyroll or half-sheet pan
- 1 cup of butter
- 1 cup of light brown sugar
- 6 ounces of nice, dark chocolate, finely chopped or in chocolate chips
- Toppings of your choice! I went with toasted slivered almonds
Pre-heat and oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease a half-sheet or jellyroll pan and lay out the saltines, salt side down.
Add butter + sugar into a saucepan and heat, mixing regularly to ensure the sugar doesn’t burn. Once the mixture starts to boil, time 3 minutes of rocking and rollicking sugar madness. Once that time is up, immediately pour over the prepared crackers, spreading as evenly as you can. This will start to thicken up almost immediately, so get crackin’ but not literally.
Once you’ve spread that out, pop the whole pan in the oven for 10-11 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, sprinkle the chopped chocolate or chips over the hot toffeed crackers. Wait 2-3 minutes. Use an offset spatula or a spoon to spread the now melty chocolate over the whole surface. I like a really dark chocolate to off-set the super sweet of the toffee, so I tend to stick to a thin layer of chocolate. If you like a LOT of chocolate, consider using 8-10 ounces instead.
Sprinkle your toppings before the chocolate sets. Leave pan to cool and chocolate to set. When everything is completely cool, crack apart into pieces, like bark. Store, completely sealed and away from heat.
*Harvest by Long Trail 4.4% ABV
This here is your nice, session brown ale for a crisp fall day. It’s got a hint of maply goodness and lots of malt. The flavors are not very intense in this beer, making it ideal to knock back a few while enjoying some autumnal festivities.
*Rumpkin by Avery Brewing 16.7% ABV
Not your mother’s pumpkin beer, Rumpkin is closer to a barleywine than a pumpkin ale. It’s boozy, syrupy, and thick — aged in rum barrels and pulling no punches in the pumpkin flavor department. It’s like a liquid pumpkin pie… with a good heft of rum punch. It’s only sold in individual 12 oz bottles in fall, so stock up if this one tickles your fancy.
*Coffee Pecan Pie Porter by Clown Shoes 8.0% ABV
Sweet like pie but very smooth and super drinkable. It is not the booze-bomb of Rumpkin but shares pie-like characteristics, this time of the nutty variety rather than the vegetal pumpkin meat-flavors or the hard-hitting pumpkin spice blend.
If you don’t get Clown Shoes in your area, try Rogue’s Hazelnut Nectar. Similar pie-like aspects but with a bit more sweetness and a hazelnut undertone instead of a pecan one.
Pick some up before the weather turns for the worse!
This month’s #bundtbakers theme is BEVERAGES! Such a beautiful, broad topic to possibly cover. I mean, you can drink anything as long as you get it the right consistency… Of course, my thoughts naturally went to the realm of the cocktail, as I am wont to do when left unsupervised. Warming fall drinks? The last grasp of summer cocktails and cordials? No, no. Let’s go with a STANDBY that can be played up for the autumn and winter season.
Ginger beer, dark rum, and lime juice is a staple drink throughout every season in our house. It’s sweet, it’s tart, it’s complex and caramel-tinged. It’s really got just about everything you’d want to drink. This cake is not the boozy fare I normally like to break out for parties. Instead it’s got a wonderfully rich and complex ginger batter with a cool, tangy rum + lime buttercream on top. If you want to kick it up to that extra boozy level, I’d recommend a rum sauce soak. This cake already has a very moist and tight crumb (…heh…) so the amount of rum it could feasibly soak up is definitely less than a light fluffy sponge. Maybe just pour yourself a cocktail to enjoy on the side for once.
More potatoes from the CSA and more cookouts really just means more potato salad in my life, these days. This is a really basic potato salad that can feed a large crowd and won’t garner any protests as it follows the generally agreed upon flavors of potato-yness. Nothing weird or new here, just a good old standby.
Potato and egg salad are really like the cold salad standbys of any cookout or picnic table. Potatoes are out and about in force now and will continue to be through the whole winter, so you might as well collect any preparations as you can. Basic potato salad can also always be made better with a sprinkling of potato chips on top… because the only thing potato needs is more potato. I think the Midwesterner in me has started taking over completely throughout the course of this paragraph. But really, crunchy salty potato chips are an amazing friend to most anything… Just think about it.
Dijon Potato Salad
- 5 lbs of potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and quartered
- Good pour of salt
- 1/3 cup dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 1 tablespoon white pepper
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup chopped green onion
- 1 finely diced yellow onion
Pour quartered potatoes into large pot. Fill water to just cover potatoes. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes until fork tender. Drain potatoes and set aside to cool.
Whisk together mustard, vinegar, pepper, mayonnaise, and yogurt. In a large bowl or aluminum pan that can fit all the potatoes, toss potatoes and the dressing mixture together. Add more yogurt, salt, or pepper to taste. Then fold in green onion and yellow onion. Refrigerate. Definitely make this in advance so that the flavors can take their time melding together!