Apple Cider Donut Cake

October 18, 2018

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It looks like Fall weather has finally arrived! I can not tell you how exceedingly happy that makes me!!! This is definitely my kind of weather. There is a crisp chill to the day, the leaves are changing, and there is often a whiff of bonfire smoke in the air. Time for toasting marshmallows, making s’mores and over indulging in every kind of apple, cinnamon, pumpkin-y type of dessert that exists. Which leads me to do something I have never done before. I am going to re-blog a recipe. And not just any recipe…Oh no. This is the recipe that has received the highest number of views EVER in the history of my blog. That’s right! With over 500,00 views, I am choosing to share the recipe for this Apple Cider Donut Cake with all you kind folks once again. I originally published this back in 2014 and its popularity is still going strong! And I want to tell you about a new feature I have added to my blog. Now, when you click on the Runcible Eats/Recipes tab you will notice that I have added a “Favorites” category. What you will find here are recipes that folks have said are their favorites. Many had mentioned to me that they often had difficulty finding their favorite recipes among the plethora of recipes that I have published. So now here they are, easy-peasy to find, right at the beginning of the recipe lists. If you don’t see your favorite there, drop me a line and let me know. So without further ado, I give you: Apple Cider Donut Cake (which you will find at the top of the favorites category)! Could I have crammed any more deliciousness into that recipe title? I’ve already told you how I love apples. And Apple Cider…especially the type that is a bit more medicinal…if you know what I’m saying…is exciting. Donuts! Who doesn’t love cinnamon sugar laden apple cider donuts?! Well you get all of those mouthwateringly yummy flavours all wrapped up in one gorgeous big old bundt cake.

IMG_9804This cake is amazingly moist and tender, just bursting with apple flavour. It would be delicious simply unadorned, but it is completely over the top when brushed with some boozy cider glaze and dusted, quite liberally with crunchy cinnamon sugar.

IMG_9750It is great anytime of the day, for breakfast, tea-time snack, dessert or even when eaten in the dark in the middle of the night while everyone else is sleeping. What? Like you haven’t done that?

IMG_9735And I must say, this cake is a breeze to make. I love Apple Cider Donuts, let there be no doubt. But a gotta say, they are a bit fiddly to make, what with the rising and the frying etc. Definitely a labour of love. Now, this cake will lead folks to believe you slaved away all day….when really you were outside enjoying the beautiful Fall weather. And I won’t tell them otherwise. Mum’s the word.

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Apple Cider Donut Cake

  • Servings: 15 -18 slices - depending on how you cut them
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: Two In the Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider *(see information below)
  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (you can substitute vegetable oil – but coconut tastes better!)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste (can substitute in extract if you don’t have paste…put get some paste, you won’t regret it!)

For the Cider Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup hard cider *(see below for substitutions)

For the Cinnamon Sugar Coating:

  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and spray a bundt pan with baking spray. (Recently I have had a couple of folks mention that they haven’t had much success with the baking spray saying that the cake stuck to the pan. Then I recently experienced the same thing myself. When I made the cake again the following day and greased the pan with butter & flour and the cake came out perfectly. Don’t know why this is, but just thought I’d share.)

In a medium saucepan, bring chopped apples and cider to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until apples are fork tender. About 10 to 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat, cool for a few minutes, then pulse in a food processor or blender until pureed. Measure out 1 cup apple mixture and stir the milk into it. Set the apple/milk mixture aside for later. (As for the remaining cider/apple puree, it is left over. I usually save it and put it over yogurt, or oatmeal. It is also fabulous heated slightly and drizzled over ice cream.)

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated. Add the oil and mix well. CAUTION: If you are planning on using coconut oil, make sure those eggs are at room temperature or slightly warmer if your house is chilly. If the eggs are cold and you add coconut oil to the mixture, the coconut oil will solidify and you will end up with a clumpy mess!

Add the flour mixture and apple/milk mixture alternatively in three additions, scraping the bowl as needed and mixing after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat once more, just to combine.

Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place the cake in its pan on a cooling rack for ten minutes before removing the cake itself to a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes.

While cake is baking, prepare Cider Glaze. Melt butter, sugar and water over medium high heat. Bring mixture to a boil and let boil for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately add the cider, stirring to combine.

Place baking sheet under wire rack. Using a pastry brush or marinate brush, cover cake with glaze. I usually do this in several passes, letting one application of glaze sink in and then going back over the cake with another.

Prepare the Cinnamon Sugar Coating. Combine sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Sprinkle the warm, glazed cake with cinnamon sugar, using fingers to rub it onto the sides of the cake. (I usually place my cinnamon sugar mixture in an empty spice bottle, or salt shaker and then sprinkle it over the cake.)

*Since I originally posted this recipe, I have had quite a few questions about hard cider vs. fresh cider. So let me just start out by saying fresh cider is the juice from pressed apples. It is unfiltered and often appears cloudy. Unless you buy it directly from an orchard it has likely also been pasteurized. Hard Cider occurs when unpasteurized fresh cider is allowed to ferment. It becomes carbonated and alcoholic. This cider can be found wherever beer is sold. Now as far as substitutions: If you do not wish to use hard cider in the glaze, you can substitute in fresh cider. However, fresh cider is often sweeter than hard cider and the glaze will be a bit sweeter, but still delicious I’m sure. You can also just leave the cider out of the glaze, which would then just be a sweet buttery glaze, but lack apple flavor. Another possibility for a substitution that lacks alcohol, but still gives you an intense apple flavor is boiled cider. Boiled Cider is fresh cider which has been boiled down to produce an intensely flavored apple cider syrup. I have provided a link below if you wish to try that ingredient. I always use hard cider for my glaze, so I’m not sure how much boiled cider you should use as a substitution. I would start with 1/2 Tablespoon and taste it until it reaches your desired level of apple-y goodness.

Enjoy!

Apple Cider Donut Cake brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Apple Cider Donut Cake:

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Microplane Grate & Shake Nutmeg Grater

Oxo Silicone Pastry Brush

Nordic Ware Bundt Cake Pan

Oxo Dusting Wand for Sugar

Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste

Boiled Cider

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Skúffukaka – Icelandic Chocolate Cake

August 24, 2018

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I can’t believe that I didn’t experience Skúffukaka until our 7th visit to Iceland, considering it is a traditional dessert. Indeed nearly every Icelandic family has their own version of the recipe, complete with closely guarded secret ingredients. Basically it is a dark chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, sprinkled with coconut flakes. It isn’t fancy per se – in fact skúffukaka means “oven pan cake” or “baking tray cake”. They have a similar version of this recipe in Sweden which is called Kärleksmums (love-yums), but folks in Iceland are pretty practical, so they’ve decided to call it Baking Tray Cake. But don’t let its rustic name put you off, this cake is delicious! I was served my first slice at The Garage Apartments by our lovely host Anna. The Husband and I didn’t know we were eating Skúffukaka at the time, we just knew we loved it!

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The Skúffukaka baked for us by our lovely host Anna at the Garage Apartments.

Anna served us wonderful baked goods every day of our visit. The first being that amazing Varmahlíð Apple Cake that I told you about in my previous blog. I was able to search around the internet and figure out that the chocolate cake she served was called Skùffukaka and then I researched a recipe, which I will share here with you today.

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But let me also take this opportunity to both tell you more about that fantastic trip to Iceland that the Husband and I went on last September as well as alert you to a new feature on my blog. If you look up at the top navigation bar, there is now a “travels” section you can choose. I have organized all of our travel posts here. So it will be much easier to find that trip we took to Prague way back in 2013, should you be searching. These posts not only feature a delicious dish that we experienced on our trip, but are also chock full of lovely pictures and recommendations with links for hotels, restaurants, guides, shops etc, should you be inspired to visit the destination yourself. But back to this Iceland trip from 2017. After we had so much fun on the South Coast, we headed towards the East Fjords. The East Fjords are really a hidden gem in Iceland. Well, I guess they aren’t really hidden. They are right there in plain sight. They are just often overlooked by tourists. Most visitors don’t venture that far from Reykjavik and the Golden Circle. That, and the fact that only roughly 3% of Iceland’s population lives in this area of the country, ensures you will be able to experience some peaceful, beautiful isolation.

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On our way north-east, we stopped by the stunning  Jökulsárlón. Actually we stopped by on our way north and then again when we came back south. We just can not get enough of its breathtaking beauty.

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Jökulsárlón is a large lake which was formed by a glacier. It is located in southeast Iceland, on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park. Bits of the Vatnajökull glacier break off (calve) into the lake, forming icebergs. These icebergs float around until they melt enough to fit through the narrow opening of the lake and drift out into the ocean,

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though some do wash up on the nearby black sand beach, known as Diamond Beach.

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The first time we visited it was in December of 2013. It was really chilly that day, I’m talking like 12°F (-11°C). We braved the temps as long as we could, but we were pretty dang cold! So visiting in September was quite a different experience. It was sunny and warm both days. We really lucked out!

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A couple of seals swimming about

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Once we were able to finally tear ourselves away from Jökulsárlón, we continued on our northeast journey, taking a bit of time out to soak up the beauty that is Vestrahorn. Vestrahorn is one of the most photographed mountains in Iceland. It is located on the Stokksnes peninsula. One of Iceland’s earliest settlement farms was located in this area. The 454 meter high Vestrahorn mountain rises up from the lava dune strewn shore line. Truly a photographer’s paradise!

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We spent the night in an adorable little cabin

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where we were lucky enough to see a quick glimpse of the Northern Lights through the clouds.

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The next day we continued on towards Seyðisfjörður where we would be spending several days. On the way, zigzagging along the fjords on route 1, we saw many sleepy fishing towns surrounded by rugged mountains and dramatic coastlines. When we reached Egilsstaðir, we ventured off the ring road, up and over the Fjarðarheiði mountain pass, descending down into charming Seyðisfjörður (population 675). Nestled at the end of the fjord and surrounded by often snow peaked mountains and cascading waterfalls, picturesque Seyðisfjörður delights. Populated by many artists, musicians and craftspeople, this friendly town feels so welcoming.

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On our second day there we set off on a hike to see Tvísöngur, the sound sculpture created by german artist Lukas Kühne.

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This concrete structure consists of five interconnected domes, each with its own resonance that corresponds to a tone in the five tone harmony of traditional Icelandic singing.

After exploring the structure, we continued hiking on the Tvísöngur loop which took us up onto a plateau where we were treated to a bird’s eye view of the town and the fjord.

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Later that night we were delighted when the Northern Lights again made an appearance.

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After leaving Seyðisfjörður we headed south again, stopping at the Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon where the Aurora put on an amazing show. It was so intense, it was actually difficult to get a good picture because rather than a wispy trail of green against the black sky, the entire sky turned green.

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Our final adventure on this action packed trip was going on a glacier walk on Svínafellsjökull glacier in Skaftafell National Park with Icelandic Mountain Guides. They showed us how to use crampons and ice axes and then off we went.

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Svínafellsjökull glacier is where the scenes that took place “beyond the wall” in Game of Thrones were shot.

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So I’m sure you must be really inspired now to plan your own adventure in Iceland. Please take a look at the helpful links below if you need some assistance in planning. And do whip up some moist and decadent Skúffukaka while pouring over maps and booking sights. With a slice of that chocolatey goodness and mug of coffee, hepped up on all that sugar and caffeine, there’ll be no stopping you!

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Skúffukaka

  • Servings: 24
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe adapted from: Belle -ÆÐISLEG SKÚFFUKAKA

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

  • 280 grams sugar
  • 125 grams butter- room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs – room temperature
  • 200 grams flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 50 grams natural unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 100 ml milk

For the Frosting:

  • 130 grams salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 250 grams confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 100 grams dark chocolate, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons cream
  • 1 -2 Tablespoon strong coffee – cooled
  • coconut flakes to sprinkle over the cake

Directions:

For the Cake;

Preheat the oven to 355° F (180°C).

Butter and flour one 9X9″ baking tray.

In a bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cocoa. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together for 1 -2 minutes. Add the eggs, mixing well after the addition of each egg. Add the vanilla extract. Mix on medium high-speed for 6 -7 minutes until light and fluffy.

Add the dry mixture to the butter & sugar. Mix until just combined.

Add the milk and mix until just combined.

Scrape the batter into the prepared baking tray and spread evenly. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Set on a wire rack to cool before frosting.

For the Frosting:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the butter and egg together until combined. With the mixer on low-speed, add the confectioners sugar slowly, 1/4 cup  at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the cocoa and vanilla. Add the melted and cooled chocolate and continue mixing.

Mix in the cream and 1 – 2 Tablespoons of the cooled coffee to taste. Continue mixing until the frosting is smooth. If the icing is not the correct consistency for frosting the cake you can either add a bit more confectioner’s sugar or refrigerate for a short time to allow it to set.

Spread frosting over the cooled cake. This recipe makes a good amount of frosting, so you may not use all of it on the cake. Add as thick a layer of frosting as you prefer. Sprinkle with coconut flakes.

Enjoy!

Skúffukaka brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Skúffukaka:

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Oxo Good Grips 7 Piece Nesting Measuring Beaker Set

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Links for Planning your vacation in the East Fjords Iceland:

Accommodation:

Bragdavellir Cottages: located 10km from Djúpivogur, just off of Route 1, these cottages are clean, cozy and offer a fantastic view. Our only regret is that we had just one night’s stay.

Lónsleira Apartments: located in Seyðisfjörður these apartments are perfection! Stylishly furnished, sparklingly clean with amazing location and view!

Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon: We loved this hotel! So chic and stylish, not only are the rooms beautiful, but it is also located between Jökulsárlón and Skatafell National Park, two amazing destinations. We can not wait to visit again!

Restaurants/Bars:

Íshúsið Pizzeria: Located in Höfn, right on the harbor, this friendly pizzeria serves up some outstanding pies! We stopped on our way north and again on the way back south.

Kaffi Lára – El Grilló Bar: Located in Seyðisfjörður. Warm and friendly, you will love relaxing in this local bar/restaurant. Everything we tried here was very good, burgers to barbecue, but there was one standout item….they serve the BEST baked potatoes I have ever eaten. I kid you not. One night when we were there, we saw a couple who had just finished their meal. The lady ordered a slice of pie for dessert and her companion ordered another baked potato! Amazing!!!

Tours:

Icelandic Mountain Guides: Want to go on a glacier adventure? Contact these professionals! They won’t let you down!

Rental Cars:

Blue Car Rental: We ALWAYS rent our car from Blue Car Rental. Friendly Icelandic company, well maintained, newer, quality vehicles – they’ve never let us down and at this point we have rented from them on six different visits and have had excellent experiences every time. The price they quote on their website has all of the insurance included so there are no surprizes when you show up at their rental desk. Highly recommend!


Varmahlíð Apple Cake

August 12, 2018

 

 

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Last September the Husband and I went on an amazing trip to Iceland. It was our 7th time visiting and we just can’t get enough of the place! Indeed since this trip we have visited again in February 2018 and are planning another visit this Fall! But let me not get ahead of myself. I’m just going to tell you about the September 2017 visit right now. Believe me, there be more to come. So last September, we were mostly focused on visiting the East Fjords, but we did spend some time revisiting the South Coast. Although we had been there several times, there were still plenty of things in the area that we hadn’t experienced. I first encountered this Varmahlíð Apple Cake

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at The Garage Apartments, which are an absolutely wonderful base of operations if you are visiting that area of the country.

P1010297 (1)These lovely modern rustic apartments are found in former old garage that is located on a family farm belonging to Anna & Siggi. This picturesque homestead is nestled right up to the foot of the mountain topped by the Eyjafjallajökull glacier, under which the famous air traffic interrupting volcano resides.

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Varmahlíð actually means “warm hill”. There is another Varmahlíð in North Iceland. With all the geothermal activity on the island it is easy to see why there would be more than one place known as Varmahlíð. But here I’m referring to an area on the South Coast near the Ejyafjallajökull volcano.

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Siggi’s family has been living on this land for over 200 years. Now Anna & Siggi are operating a “gentleman’s farm” on the site as well as managing several apartments for Iceland’s ever-expanding tourist market.

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Located exactly between the two famous waterfalls Skógafoss

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and Seljalandfoss,

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You can walk behind Seljalandfoss for an alternate view!

these exceptional apartments are the perfect central location for taking in all the South Coast of Iceland has to offer. We of course visited the waterfalls, not our first visit but they never seem to get old. We spent some time on the black sand beach near Vik

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and visited the plane wreck at Sólheimasandur.

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Next we travelled out to the breath-taking Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar).

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Once there we met the adorable Tóti, Vestmannaeyjar’s famous puffin

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and saw the whole town turn out to rescue baby pufflings at night (for more info on the pufflings and Westman islands (see Iceland links below). We went on an exciting rib safari tour around Heimaey.

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The Famous Elephant rock

Drank some local beer at the Brothers Brewery,

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visited the Eldheimar museum which documents the story of the surprise 1973 eruption of the volcano which caused the roughly 5,00 locals to flee on fishing boats in the middle of the night to the safety of the mainland. The eruption, which lasted for 5 months, buried 1/3 of the town in lava and destroyed over 400 houses and businesses. The resilient islanders did return and rebuilt the thriving community you will find today. Fascinating stuff! You really should consider visiting.

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One of the recently uncovered houses which had been buried by lava & ash during the eruption.

And if all the gorgeous scenery hasn’t convinced you, we had the best meal we have ever had in Iceland, which is saying something because the food there is fantastic. The restaurant is Slipurinn. Located in an old machinery shop this family owned eatery features seasonal local sourced dishes often including herbs and seaweed foraged right there on the island. Simply divine food in a friendly and casual environment. Don’t miss it!

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The Husband and I atop the newly formed volcano – Mt. Eldfell

Back on the mainland, we hiked the magnificent Fimmvörðuháls trail, a big accomplishment for us. This challenging 13 mile hike took us up over a mountain (approximately 3,600 feet elevation), past 22 waterfalls,

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past the still warm lava fields from the most recent eruption,

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between two glaciers,

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over the Kattarhryggur (cat’s spine)

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and down the other side through Goðaland (the land of the Gods),

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finishing in Thorsmork (Thor’s Forest).

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It was just jaw dropingly gorgeous and occasionally somewhat terrifying! – Narrow paths with steep drop-offs are not for the faint of heart!

And not only was the Garage Apartments location ideal for all our explorations, but Anna was also such an amazing host, so friendly, warm and welcoming. Her spacious apartments were stylishly decorated, sparklingly clean

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and filled with thoughtful little touches,

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Adorable mice on the bed side table!

and as if all of that was not enough, she served us scrumptious freshly home-baked desserts every day! This delicious Apple Cake was one of them.

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This particular Iceland trip was chock full of activities and I can not tell you how happy we were to come back to find home baked treats waiting for us. What a pleasant surprize! Moist and tender and not too sweet, it was just perfect with a nice hot mug of tea. Anna kindly shared the recipe with me, which I will now share with you.

 

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I must admit, I had to do a few conversions before baking this cake. I don’t have any measuring devices marked with deciliters – but I was able to figure it out pretty quickly. I baked the cake in an 8X8″ pan, but you could also use a 9X9″ – just make sure you adjust the baking time.

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And if you are planning a trip to Iceland anytime in the future and want to visit the South Coast, you’ll know exactly where you should book your accommodation. As a matter of fact, the Husband and I are taking our parents to Iceland this fall. It will be their first trip so we will be playing tour guides for them. And guess where we’ll be staying…That’s right! We are very much looking forward to our upcoming stay at the cozy Garage apartments. For further Iceland recommendations, see my guide at the bottom of this post. In the meantime, try this recipe and enjoy a slice of Varmahlíð Apple Cake while you plan your upcoming adventure.

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Varmahlíð Apple Cake

  • Servings: 9 pieces
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Anna, owner of the Garage Apartments

Ingredients:

  • 200 grams soft salted butter
  • 2.5 Deciliter Sugar (1 cup + 1 Tablespoon)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Deciliter Cream (100 ml)
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 -5 green apples – sliced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 355° F (180°C)

Place the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl and mix to combine. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Add the cream and vanilla. Stir to combine.

Add the flour/baking powder mix to the batter. Mix until just combined.

Place the batter in a buttered deep 8X8″ baking pan and top with the apples. ( I sprinkled the top of my cake with cinnamon sugar, but this was not included in Anna’s recipe. If you love cinnamon like I do, just mix 1/4 cup sugar with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and sprinkle over the apples before baking.)

Bake for 45 -50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean at 355°F (180°C).

Enjoy!

Varmahlíð Apple Cake brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Varmahlíð Apple Cake:

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Oxo Good Grips 7 Piece Nesting Measuring Beaker Set

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Links for Planning your vacation in Iceland:

I have tons of links, as well as some lovely photos, and delicious Icelandic recipes in previous blogs that I have written about our adventures in Iceland. For some inspiration take a look at:

December 2012 Visit to the South Coast & Reykjavik featuring White Chocolate Skyramisu

December 2013 Visit to the South Coast, Jökulsárlón & Reykjavik featuring Kanilsnúðar

July & December Visit to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, The Westfjords & Reykjavik featuring Ástarpungar aka Love Balls 

Here is a fun video that show you some of the beauty Iceland has to offer, which will surely get you excited for any upcoming Iceland visit. And it will teach you a few words in Icelandic as well. It is known as “The Hardest Karaoke Song in the World”! Sing along to Inspired by Iceland’s “A – Ö of Iceland”.

If you enjoyed this video, take a look at Inspired By Iceland’s site. They have great little videos showing you gorgeous scenes from each area of Iceland, while teaching you a few more Icelandic words along the way.

Westman Island links:

To Buy tickets on the Herjólfur Ferry as well as read about all the things to see and do take a look at: Visit Westman Islands.

Hotel Vestmannaeyjar – Great accommodation on the Islands.

Stofan Bakhús – Great bakery! Got the best kanilsnúðars there that I have ever had in Iceland! We also got some great sandwiches to take on a hike. Everything there looks delicious. Go be tempted!

On puffins: If you travel to the Westman Island at the end of August/beginning of September there is a good chance you will see baby puffins (pufflings) being rescued by the local children. At this time of year, the pufflings leave their nests but get confused by the lights of the town and rather than flying out to sea, they end up flying into town. The children go out at night with flashlights to find them. They take them home in cardboard boxes for the night. The next morning they take them to the Saeheimar Aquarium to be measured and weighed and the children can have their pictures taken with their little charges as well. Once done, the kids take the little birds to the shore and release them back into the wild during daylight hours so that they won’t become confused. We were lucky enough to be there when this was happening and it was unforgettable!

*On a sad note: Tóti the Puffin passed away in July. He was a great ambassador for Vestmannaeyjar and brought joy to many. The Husband and I are so glad we were able to meet him. He will be sorely missed.

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Interested in hiking the Fimmvörðuháls Trail? See here:

If you are interested in hiking the Fimmvörðuháls Trail, you can go all on your own. However, we strongly recommend going with a guide.  Weather at  the top of the mountain is very unpredictable and many tourists have ended up having to call ICE-SAR to be rescued. Don’t let this happen to you! We absolutely love the tour company Midgard Adventure and have gone out with them on many exciting adventures. They not only provided us with a knowledgeable and engaging guide but when we descended down into Thorsmork after our epic 9 – 10 hour hike, the folks from Midgard had grilled some hot dogs and were waiting for us with a cooler of beer as well as other snacks. It was just perfection! Check out their other tours as well. They are an amazing company! And they now offer cozy accommodation as well. Take a look at their basecamp where you can find a restaurant, cafe and bar as well.

 

 

 

 


Butterfly Cakes (aka Fairy Cakes) filled with Strawberry Jam & Topped with Baileys Whipped Cream

March 17, 2018

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Woo-hoo! Today is St. Patrick’s Day!!! And as per usual, the last post of my St. Patrick’s Day recipe run features a cupcake. Well, not an American style cupcake, but what is known as a Butterfly Cake or also sometimes as a Fairy Cake in Ireland. Butterfly Cakes consist of a light Victoria sponge style cake that has a circle carved out that top, the resulting hollow has been filled with jam, topped with whipped cream and then had the halved top circle reinserted so as to resemble butterfly or fairy wings. Then the whole shebang is dusted with confectioners sugar. Butterfly Cakes are staples at children’s birthday parties. What I’ve got for you today is the adult version. My whipped cream is heavily laced with Baileys. Yup…these Butterflies are a wee bit tipsy!

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And I did say that you might see that delicious homemade Strawberry Jam that I mentioned in my very first post this St. Patrick’s Day season – Theresa’s Prize-Winning Scones with Strawberry Jam & Clotted Cream. And it has indeed made an appearance again filling these adorable little butterfly gems. The recipe for that Strawberry Jam comes from my friend Theresa’s cookbook Fruit on the Table: Seasonal Recipes from the Green Apron Kitchen.

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Theresa runs, The Green Apron, which is an artisan preserve company. She grows much of the fruit and vegetables she uses in her preserves at her family’s orchards at Derryclough and in the walled vegetable garden at her parents 18th Century castle, Glenwilliam.

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Her award-winning preserves are made in small batches by traditional methods using locally sourced, organic produce where possible and without artificial preservatives, colours or setting agents.

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Theresa definitely knows her way around a jam jar. Every single creation of hers that  I have tasted has been exquisite and her Strawberry Jam is no exception. Simply divine! So I knew that it would be the perfect filling for these Butterfly Cakes.

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It is strange that as popular as these lovely treats are in Ireland, they never really made it across the pond to the States. American cupcakes generally are piled high with very sweet buttercream frosting. Now don’t get me wrong. I love cupcakes, pretty much all of them. But I will say that my least favorite of all of the frostings is American Buttercream. It is often grainy and toothachingly sweet. As I’ve said in many previous posts, Swiss Meringue Buttercream is the way to go. If that is the frosting you’ve got, go ahead and pipe a mini mountain onto each cake! The Husband, who really doesn’t care much for chocolatey type sweets, but loves any fruit based dessert, thought these treats were the bees knees. Not too sweet and just bursting with jam and fresh cream. I’m sure the Baileys presence didn’t hurt either! A delight on St. Patrick’s Day but a great recipe to have in your arsenal for use the entire year through.

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Well it looks like I’ve gotta get going…my blogging is done for a while. I’ve got some Patrick’s Day festivities to attend to. So see you in a week or so, Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daiobh (Happy St. Patrick’s Day)!

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Butterfly Cakes (aka Fairy Cakes) filled with Strawberry Jam & Topped with Baileys Whipped Cream

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 3/4 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3/4 Cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons, 1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (can substitute vanilla extract)

For the topping:

  • strawberry jam – I just made up a batch! See the recipe here. or use store bought if you are short on time
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) heavy whipping cream, whipped
  • 2 Tablespoons confectioners sugar
  • 1 -2  Tablespoon Baileys (optional)
  • confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Directions:

Line cupcake tin with liners. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C)

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.

Whisk egg white and buttermilk together in small bowl. Set aside.

In bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment beat butter until pale and creamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar, scraping down the bowl as needed and continuing to beat until mixture is light and fluffy. Add vanilla paste and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture in 4 additions alternating with the buttermilk/egg mixture, beating only until just combined.

Using 1/4 cup scoop, divide batter evenly among cupcake wells. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted shows a few moist crumbs.

Cool cupcake tin on wire rack for 5 minutes and then remove cupcakes from pan to finishing cooling on rack.

When ready to decorate, cut out the center of each cupcake, angling the knife at a 45° angle. The piece you remove should look like a cone. Cut the cone top of the cupcake in half so as to resemble butterfly wings. Fill the hollowed out part of the cupcake with strawberry jam. Top the jam with a dollop of Baileys whipped cream, or you can pipe the cream on as I did. Place the “wings” upright at an angle in the cream.

Dust generously with confectioners sugar.

Enjoy!

Butterfly Cakes brought to you by Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Butterfly Cakes filled with Strawberry Jam & Topped with Baileys Whipped Cream:

Fruit on the Table: Seasonal Recipes from the Green Apron Kitchen

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Oxo Good Grips Ice Cream Scoop

Oxo Good Grips Baker’s Dusting Wand


Irish Coffee Cupcakes

March 17, 2017

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Oh my gawd! It’s here, it’s here!! Today is St. Patrick’s Day!!! And as per usual, my last post of my St. Patrick’s Day blog-a-thon features cupcakes. And today I’ve got not just any old cupcake…no siree! What I’ve got here are Irish Coffee Cupcakes. Can’t get much more St. Patrick’s Day than that!

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So obviously, I’m giving you that classic Irish cocktail in cupcake form. It is surprising that the Irish Coffee is fairly young when one considers coffee cocktails. It was invented in 1943. Way back in 19th century France,  folks were already quaffing “Glorias” which were a mixture of “coffee & strong spirits”. And Viennese Coffee Houses had been serving Pharisäers, sweetened coffee, rum & whipped cream, for quite some time at that point. So fast forward to 1943, Joe Sheridan was the chef at Foynes Port in Limerick when he invented this warming drink and served it to a gaggle of cold and wet tourists. Eventually Stanton Delaplane, an american travel writer, encountered the drink at Shannon airport and brought it back to the US, writing about it extensively. And what do you know, it caught on. Folks loved it then, and still love it now.

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The classic Irish Coffee consists of hot coffee, Irish Whiskey and sugar and is topped with thick cream which is floated on top of the coffee/whiskey mixture. Soothing, warming and utterly decadent, you just can’t go wrong with this elixir. Serve it on a luxurious holiday morning or as a lovely nightcap – perfect every time. And these cupcakes…yeah, they’re worthy of their namesake.

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Tender, moist coffee flavored chocolate cake – filled with a creamy dark and decadent whiskey chocolate ganache and then frosted with a light and airy Irish Whiskey Whipped Cream and topped with a chocolate covered espresso bean…

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Dear Lawd! This is not only perfect on St. Patrick’s Day, but awesome year round. So what are you waiting for, you can have these ready for tonight’s shindig in two shakes of a lambs tail.

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Now me, I’ve gotta get going…my blogging is done for a while. I’ve got some Patrick’s Day festivities to attend to. So see you in a week or so, Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daiobh (Happy St. Patrick’s Day)!

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Irish Coffee Cupcakes

Recipe from: Wife in Progress

Ingredients:

For the Cakes:

  • 3/4 cups Guinness
  • 1/4 cup strong black coffee (or King Arthur Espresso Powder works well here)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup sour cream

For the Whiskey Ganache Filling:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 Tablespoon Jameson Whiskey

For the Whipped Cream Topping:

  • 1 small carton of whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Irish Whiskey

Espresso powder (I used King Arthur Espresso Powder, but you could also use cocoa powder or even freshly ground nutmeg in a pinch) and chocolate covered espresso beans to garnish

Directions:

For the Cakes:

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C)

Line 2 cupcake tins with liners.

In a large saucepan heat Guinness, coffee and butter together until it comes to a gentle simmer.

Add cocoa powder while whisking continuously to avoid lumps. Mix until smooth. Place in refrigerator to cool.

Place flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in bowl. Set aside

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine eggs vanilla and sour cream.

Once the Guinness/cocoa mixture has cooled, add it to the egg/sour cream mixture. Mix until combined.

Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, mixing on low speed until just combined.

Using an ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup scoop, fill the lined cupcake tins.

Bake for 25 minutes

Cool completely on wire rack.

For the Whiskey Ganache:

Heat heavy cream until just shy of boiling.

Remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Do not mix. Cover with lid and let sit for 5 minutes.

Stir the mixture starting from the inside and working to the edges. Add the whiskey and mix until incorporated

Let sit for 10 minutes or so at room temperature. The ganache should thicken a bit. You can pop it into the fridge for a bit to speed this process up.

For the Whipped Cream Frosting:

Pour cream and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk until Cream forms stiff peaks. Add Irish Whiskey to taste.

For Assembly: 

Once the cupcakes have cooled, cut out the center of each cake with an apple corer, knife or special cupcake corer tool, taking care not to cut all the way through the cake.

Place the whiskey ganache into a pastry bag and pipe into the cored cupcake to fill.

Spoon the whipped whiskey filling into a pastry bag and frost cupcakes.

Dust with espresso powder and top with chocolate covered bean.

Enjoy!
Irish Coffee Cupcakes brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)
Links for helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Irish Coffee Cupcakes:
Cuckoo Luckoo Gourmet Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans – This link is for a 1 pound box of these beans. To be honest, I got mine at my local Starbucks. They sell them in little 1/75 oz snack packs!

 

 


Chocolate Dipped Baileys Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

March 15, 2017

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Oh my goodness, St. Patrick’s Day is nearly here! Today I’ve got a great little treat to share with you – Chocolate Dipped Baileys Pistachio Shortbread Cookies! Yes siree, now we’re cooking with gas! Absolutely scrumptious buttery shortbread cookies, shot through with Pistachios and lashings of Baileys Irish Creme and then dipped in  Bailey’s laced Chocolate and dusted with more pistachios.

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Be still my heart! How could anyone resist these tempters?

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These boozy little devils will be welcome at any Patrick’s Day celebration and they’re portable so you can take ’em on the road with you – down to the local parade and then out to the afters parties.

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You definitely want to make sure you keep up your strength throughout the day’s festivities. These decadent little dickens are just the thing to keep you going. And if you’re in a sharing mood, no doubt you’ll be quite popular. Bake up a batch today.

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Chocolate Dipped Baileys Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

  • Servings: 46 - 2 1/2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Recipe slightly adapted from: Recipes From a Pantry

Ingredients:

For the Cookies:

  • 250 grams (8.8 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 100 gram (3.5 oz) caster sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 orange
  • 4 Tablespoons Baileys
  • 250 grams (8.8 oz) all purpose flour
  • 125 grams (4.40z) rice flour
  • 5 Tablespoons pistachios, chopped
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon all spice
  • pinch of freshly ground nutmeg

For the chocolate/pistachio glaze:

  • 150 grams chocolate (your choice – dark, milk or a blend)
  • 2 Tablespoons Baileys
  • 5 Tablespoons Pistachios (finely chopped)

Directions:

Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and cream them together until light and fluffy. Mix in the orange juice and Baileys. Add the flours, chopped pistachios, salt and spices and continue to mix until a soft dough forms. If the mixture is not pulling away from the sides of the bowl and seems too sticky to handle, slowly add flour by the scant Tablespoon just until it comes together.

Divide the dough in two and flatten each into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 325°F (170°C/Gas 3)

Remove one of the dough discs from the fridge and roll int out on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/4″ thick. Cut cookies with sharp cutter and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Reshape, roll and cut any excess dough until it is all used. Place cut trays of cookies in fridge to keep cool until you are ready to bake them.

Bake shortbread for 12 -15 minutes, or until they are light golden brown.

Let the cookies cool on the tray from 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cookies are cool, combine the Baileys and Chocolate and slowly melt over a double boiler. Dip half of each shortbread cookie into the chocolate mixture. Shake the excess chocolate off and sprinkle with finely chopped pistachios. Set cookies aside until chocolate hardens. (Too speed this process, you can place cookies in the fridge.)

Enjoy!

Chocolate Dipped Baileys Pistachio Shortbread Cookies brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Chocolate Dipped Baileys Pistachio Shortbread Cookies:

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer

Norpro Silicone Pastry Mat

Norpro Nut Chopper

Norpro Scalloped Cookie/biscuit cutters

Bob’s Red Mill White Rice Flour

 


Boozy Irish Brownie Bites

March 13, 2017

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Boozy Irish Brownie Bites?!! Now we’re talking! These rich, decadent little gems are chock full of Irish Whiskey and frosted with a white chocolate, Baileys and Whiskey Ganache! I’m telling you, there is no way you could go wrong here. And just a warning, these guys are indeed boozy. I took care to add those spirits after the ganache was removed from heat, so there is no “oh the alcohol cooked off” with these darling treats. It is all there. Another thing that is absolutely great about these little guys is their diminutive size. You can literally just grab one and pop the whole thing right into your mouth.

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You know, just a small bite, a wee taste if you will, just in case you don’t really want to commit to eating a whole big honking brownie.

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Now, I’m sure that sounds good in theory and I know there are folks out there that have that kind of “I’ll just take a taste” self-restraint. I’m not really one of them. I just end up eating a plate of these irresistible little devils over the span of the evening. But hey, no regrets. St. Patrick’s Day only comes once a year. You should definitely enjoy it!

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Boozy Irish Brownie Bites

  • Servings: 32- 34 Brownie Bites or 16 Regular sized Brownies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: Vintage Kitty

Ingredients:

For the brownies:

  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 9 Tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Irish Whiskey
  • 3/4 Cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour

For the Ganache:

  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon salted butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • pinch of salt
  • 8 oz. white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Baileys Irish Cream
  • 2 Tablespoons Irish Whiskey

Directions:

For the Brownies:

Preheat oven to 325° F and line a 8″ square pan with parchment paper.

Slice the vanilla bean and scrape the seed outs.

Place the seeds and the pod in a medium sized dutch oven.

Add the butter and sugar to the pan and melt over medium heat, stirring frequently.

Once sugar has melted, remove vanilla bean pod.

Sift cocoa into the butter mixture and stir to combine.

Remove pan from heat and let mixture cool a minute or two. Add whiskey and stir to combine.

Add the flour and stir just until it is incorporated.

Pour brownie batter into prepared pan and bake for 20 -25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean.

Set brownies to cool on a metal rack.

For the Ganache:

While the brownies are cooling, combine sugar, butter, heavy cream and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently.

Let the mixture boil for 2-3 minutes.

Remove from heat and slowly add the white chocolate, stirring until it is completely melted and smooth.

Slowly add the Baileys and Irish Whiskey, stirring until combined.

Pour the ganache over the warm brownies and spread with a spatula.

Allow ganache to harden over an hour or so.

If you wish to serve regular brownies, go ahead and slice them and enjoy. If you wish to make smaller brownie bites as I did here, use whatever shaped small cookie cutter to cut the brownies. I used a 1 1/2″ circle cutter.

Enjoy!

Boozy Irish Brownie Bites brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 


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