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The Circle B Kitchen has been blogging since September, 2009.  We have loads of recipes and thoughts on food to share in the coming weeks and months, so come back and check in often!  We love hearing from you and hope you'll leave a comment or shoot an email our way.  Whether you have questions about a recipe or the site in general, please let us know...    Contact me at      pberry@circle-B-kitchen.com

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Our oldest daughter, Erin, has been riding, training and showing horses since she was a teenager.  She graduated from Colorado St. University with a degree in Equine Science and is now Financial and Administrative Manager for HETRA (Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Association), which provides therapy through horseback riding for children and adults with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, brain tumors, head injuries, blindness, autism, and strokes.  For more information or to donate to this amazing cause, please visit http://www.hetra.org/ .



Entries in dessert (27)


Ginger Banana Cake

To say life has been busy here is somewhat like saying eating cake is fun.  Both would be HUGE understatements, and yet totally related in that when life gets crazy, eating cake is even more fun and probably even necessary.  So to help us through the busy insanity of the last few weeks, I've made this cake a few times, primarily because we loved it so much, but also to try and figure out why.

I mean, it's a banana cake, which might seem a bit pedestrian at first glance, but I caution you in regards to making snap judgments pertaining to its deliciousness.  It's a bit difficult to describe how good this is, except to say it might be something sort of like if banana bread and gingerbread had some kind of mad romance, and after a few too many shots of rum, created a love child that turned out to be more cake than bread, bearing some family resemblance to a cake-like ancestor.  A lucky break for all involved; moist, melt-in-your-mouth scrumptiousness.

 You can taste the banana, but it's certainly not overly banana centric.  The first time I made this, The Husband had to guess a couple of times before he named banana as the main ingredient.  At the same time, the ginger isn't overly dominant either, which is surprising given that there is both fresh and dried ginger in the batter.  And then there's the rum.  I tripled the amount called for in the recipe because I just don't see the point of adding 1 tablespoon of rum and expecting it to have any influence on the outcome at all.  I mean, what's the point?  So I started with 3 tablespoons and may or may not have upped that to 1/4 cup in subsequent bakings.

The recipe comes to us via Joy the Baker, with a few liberties taken by yours truly.  The first being not trying to mix and bake this all in the same pan.  The beauty, no, the glory of this recipe is baking it in a cast iron pan, but I have no problem with dirtying a bowl or two in the process.  

But if you are somewhat allergic to dirty mixing bowls, you might want to give it a try.

The one thing I'm pondering for my next baking, which will perhaps be this weekend, is whether or not to add raisins.  For some reason, this cake seems to be quietly asking me to add them.  I might comply and see what we think.  It certainly doesn't need them.  We've sprinkled it with powder sugar and drizzled it with icing, we've eaten it plain and we've loved it every time.  Here's the recipe...

P.S.  Kitchen Renovations continue and I'm happy to report we're nearing the finish line.  Another week or so and I might have some photos for you!  Stay tuned!

Ginger Banana Cake

Click here for a printable recipe

Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker

Cake or bread?  We say cake.  This is one beautifully moist and delicious cake that you'll be wanting to make over and over again.  It's perfect for breakfast, afternoon tea, snacking or whatever.

1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed muscovado brown sugar (or dark brown sugar)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon dark rum (I used 3 tablespoons- or more)
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
heaping 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt 


Butter or spray a 9 or 10-inch cast iron pan and set aside.

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the butter and combine it with the brown sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk in the eggs, one at a time and then whisk in the vanilla and rum. Add the mashed bananas, fresh ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground ginger and stir to combine well.

In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt and then stir that into the brown sugar mixture and mix well.  

Pour the batter into the prepared cast iron pan and then place in the oven and bake for 18-25 minutes until mixture is dry on top, but still slightly soft in the center. I like to slightly under-bake this cake.  (Mine took the full 25 minutes to cook)

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar  or drizzle with icing if you'd like, and enjoy warm.

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Coconut Pie Cream Puffs

For a person who repeatedly declares that she doesn’t have a sweet tooth, the list of desserts in the index might call that into question.  It seems a mite long for one who professes to lack the requisite sugar crush.  But I liken my sweet tooth to an introvert, preferring to sit quietly and discreetly in the back row, mostly avoiding unwarranted attention.  But once noticed, there’s no denying its power to create havoc.  I’m not saying that introverts are trouble-makers, but having lived with one for 45 years, I know to always expect the unexpected. 

But I digress.  Cream puffs in any form will put my sweet tooth on high alert, but what really put me over the cream puff ledge last week was firstly the idea of a coconut pie cream puff, and then secondly, the actuality of getting to eat one.  It might just be awhile before my sweet tooth is willing to sit quietly in the back row again.

If you've never made cream puffs before, you'll be amazed at how easy they are.  There's just one part where you have to do some stirring; OK, a lot of stirring.  But I'm going to assume that we've all previously stirred something in a pan, so this most likely isn't a deal breaker.

And the creamy filling is basically a luscious pastry cream with the delicious addition of coconut milk. The recipe called for also adding shredded coconut, but I couldn't quite texturally go there, so I stirred in a bit of coconut extract (the real stuff) and it was absolutely just right.  There's also some coconut milk in the cream puff itself, so we're getting our coconut fix at every level.

Alrighty then, people, just in case you need to calm the sweet tooth beastie...here's the recipe...

Coconut Pie Cream Puffs

Click here for the printable version

Recipe adapted from Buzzfeed

These are just as advertised, people… so incredibly scrumptious.  I made a couple of changes to the recipe which I would highly recommend.  The first was to eliminate the shredded coconut and add a teaspoon of coconut extract (not flavoring) instead.  The other change I made was to simply slice the top off of the cream puff, pipe in the filling and then replace the top.  (I've noted my changes below in italics)

Makes about 18 cream puffs


5 egg yolks
2 cups half & half
1 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn starch 
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon real coconut extract (not flavoring)

To a medium saucepan whisk together egg yolks, half and half, and coconut milk over medium/low heat. Once combined, add in sugar and corn starch, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and comes to a light boil. Remove from heat and mix in the shredded coconut and vanilla (I used coconut) extract. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least two hours.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water
Pinch of salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs (+1 for egg wash) 

Preheat oven to 425˚F 

To a medium saucepan add the butter, coconut milk, water, and salt over medium heat. Allow all the butter to melt and bring the mixture to a boil. As soon as the mixture begins to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and add in the flour. Using a wooden spoon, mix thoroughly to incorporate the flour. 


Continue stirring until the dough starts to pull away from the sides and a thin film forms on the bottom of the pan (about three minutes). Remove the mixture from heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Let the dough cool slightly. (I mixed the eggs right into the pan off the heat.)  Add in the eggs, one at a time, being sure to fully incorporate each egg before adding the next.

Once the dough comes together, transfer it to a piping bag and pipe onto a parchment-lined baking sheet into 1 1/2- inch mounds.                              

Smooth out any peaks/ridges with a wet fingertip (this will ensure your puffs cook evenly.  Then brush the dough with egg wash and place in preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes at 425, then without opening the oven, reduce the heat to 350 and bake for an additional 15 minutes.  (Mine were done in 10)

Remove the puffs from the oven.  Using the tip of a knife, cut a small "x" into the bottom of each puff and transfer ("x" side up" to a cooking rack.  (I didn't do this step)
Just before serving (or up to two hours in advance), pipe the cream filling into the cooled puffs (I sliced off the top, piped in the filling and then replaced the top).  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy!


Click here to ask a question or leave a comment 


Oatmeal Cinnamon 1- Minute Mug Cake


You know how sometimes life just seems effortless, and things just flow the way they're supposed to and you sort of seem wrapped in this sense of calm and certainty?  Yeah, me neither.  In fact, about the only thing I can say with certainty at the moment is that nothing seems effortless and there is definitely no flow happening here.  Just one of those days.  I think we all have them now and then and thankfully they tend to be short-lived.

But while we're all waiting for my life to settle back into some semblance of normalcy, let's eat some mug cake!  And what makes this so perfect for my life right now is that this cake takes no planning, about 1 minute to assemble, and another minute to cook.  The bad news is that you have to wait like 5 minutes for it to cool down so you can actually eat it.  

But that's 5 minutes well spent, I will tell you, because this is one very tasty little mug of goodness. We've all seen the recipes for mug cakes, mug muffins and other mug kind of stuff being cooked in the microwave and I really like the idea of this because if you think about it, there's something very personal and satisfying about your own little cake that you can make in a couple of minutes and eat all by yourself.  You know?  This is all about you!  Of course you can make several and share them, but that's entirely optional and dependent on the flow of your life at the moment.  I just made one.

The idea for this particular mug cake came from a recipe I came across on the Kitchn website for an aptly named oatmeal mug cake.  It was OK, but both the Husband and I thought it needed something so I went to work and added applesauce, raisins and a sprinkling of brown sugar on the top.  The applesauce gave it some much needed moisture, a hint of apple-ness, and it also gave the cinnamon a true purpose in life.  The brown sugar gave it sort of a caramel topping and the raisins were just because I love them, but you could leave them out.

Mug cakes are lovely little things but they're also a little weird.  You have to cook them in a mug that's big enough to hold in the cake as it cooks because it will really inflate.  But then as it cools, it deflates quite a bit so that the final cake sort of looks lost in the mug.  This is only a perceptual problem, because as soon as you taste it, you won't care how lost it might be.  You will find it and eat it all.  It's that good. 

For the photo up top, I doubled the recipe in a slightly larger mug so you could see the top of the cake   Here's what your actual mug cake will look like... 

Not terribly photogenic, but still super scrumptious.

Possible applications for an oatmeal cinnamon mug cake would be a quick breakfast, a wonderful afternoon snack with your cup of tea, or a nice, light dessert in the evening.  And how about mixing up the batter in the morning and taking it to work with you.  Pretty nice idea to have a fresh little cake for your coffee break, huh?

This concludes my mug cake dissertation and I will now return to the wacky world that is my life at the moment.  I totally expect that things will begin to flow effortlessly once again, and if they don't, I can't tell you how happy I am to have an oatmeal cinnamon mug cake at the ready.  Here's the recipe...

P.S.  Life has tilted back to its familiar orbit and calm and order have been restored.  I would like to thank the oatmeal cinnamon mug cake for its steadfast support and encouragement.  Now, here's the recipe....

Oatmeal Cinnamon 1- Minute Mug Cake

Click here for a printable recipe

Makes 1 mug cake 

Adapted from The Kitchn

So the whole deal with mug cakes, muffins and the like is that your microwave is going to cook very differently from mine, so there’s a bit of variation to deal with.  That being said, after you make the first one, you’ll get the hang of how long to cook yours.  Remember that it will sort of keep cooking a little after you take it out of the oven, so don’t overcook it.  If yours seems dried or overly cake-y, it got overcooked.  It should be moist and scrumptious!  Enjoy!

3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chunky applesauce
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 tablespoons rolled oats
some raisins
1 tablespoon finely chopped pecans, plus more to garnish
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
1 tablespoon brown sugar for topping

In a 12-ounce mug, whisk together the milk, olive oil, applesauce and sugar. Whisk in the flour until smooth, then whisk in the oats, pecans, raisins, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Sprinkle the top with brown sugar.

Microwave on HIGH for 45 seconds, and then in 15-second bursts until the top looks dry-ish and 
cooked and springs back when pressed with a finger.

My microwave is 1200 watts and it took exactly 60 seconds.  But times will vary in microwave ovens of different powers. So I recommend a conservative approach of microwaving for 45 seconds and then in 15 second bursts until the top looks done.

Let stand at least 5 minutes before eating, as the cake will be quite hot.  A dollop of yogurt is nice on top of it at breakfast. 

 Click here to ask a question or leave a comment


Krispie Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls


So let's see… where were we.... oh yeah, I was about to post these amazing chocolate balls for Valentine's Day when granddaughter Ella made her appearance and I got totally distracted.  From everything. 

She is grandbaby number 6 for me and I’d like to find a way to do this for a living.  Is there anything more wondrous than a newborn baby?  I think not.  I’m still in awe of how perfect she is, and I think I will stop gushing right there because this could very easily get out of hand.

So even though I'm a little late for Valentine's Day with these scrumptious little chocolate balls, it seems entirely appropriate to talk about something sweet and wondrous when that's pretty much what my life has been about this past week or so. 

I made these Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls over the holidays and we couldn’t stop eating them.  I mean, what’s not to love about a peanut butter-filled chocolate ball.  But the thing that makes these a little different from a traditional buckeye (the latin term for a peanut butter filled chocolate ball), is that these are krispie.  Not crunchy.  No, that would be a different thing entirely.  These are krispie inside and thereby far and away even better than you can imagine. 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with buckeyes (not the plant), because I wasn’t before I moved to the Midwest, they are a somewhat traditional confection here named after the buckeye plant because I guess they sort of resemble the nut produced by it. 

And yes, I do see the resemblance.

But these buckeyes are most likely a bit more scrumptious than their namesake and actually fairly easy to assemble.  I apologize for not including any process photos, but I honestly didn’t expect them to be as good as they were, so I didn’t grab the camera until after we’d eaten a fair number of them.

They would have been a lovely thing to make for your loved one(s) on Valentine’s day, but they would be equally as fun at Easter, made in sort of an egg shape instead of balls, or just make them for no reason whatsoever.  Except that you will be very glad you did.  Here’s the recipe…

Krispie Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Click here for a printable recipe

I'm not really one for making candy or overly sweet confectionaries, but when a friend gave me this recipe, I just couldn't help myself.  Turns out, they are every bit as good (and maybe better) than I imagined they would be.  The krispie interior makes these incredibly addictive.  Proceed at your own risk...

1 stick butter
2 cups smooth peanut butter
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 cups Rice Krispies cereal
20oz semisweet chocolate 
3 tablespoons coconut oil 

Melt butter and peanut butter in large pan.  

Remove from heat, then add powdered sugar.  Mix well.

Stir in Rice Krispies. 

Refrigerate mixture for about 15-30 minutes. 

Remove from fridge and roll into 1” balls.  Put them back in the fridge. 

In separate bowl, melt chocolate then remove from heat.  Stir in the coconut oil. 

Dip the balls in melted chocolate with a spoon and roll them around until coated. 

Cool onto waxed paper and then store in the fridge.

 Click here to ask a question or leave a comment


Applesauce Cake with Caramel Icing

This one really took me by surprise.  I had no intention of making a cake or an applesauce cake or even dessert, actually.  But as fate would have it, I stumbled upon this cake on the Food52 website and I thought it looked pretty good.  But what was more compelling was the jar of applesauce in the fridge that needed to be used up, so, I thought, OK then, cake it is!

So my intention was to make the cake and forgo the icing as it seemed rather splurg-y.  I would just make the cake in a loaf pan and have it on hand as sort of a snack cake.  But that required some math to try and figure out what size loaf pan would work and baking times and all, and I require a very compelling motivation for doing math on a voluntary basis, so out came the bundt pan.

The cake smelled heavenly while it was baking but my eyes kept wandering down to the part of the recipe that described the icing and at some point my resistance and good sense must have completely crumbled because as the cake was cooling, I found myself stirring brown sugar and cream and butter and vanilla in a little pan and anticipating those beautiful icing drizzles up there and well, by then it was a done deal.  No going back.  

I'm sure I've mentioned this before in numerous posts previously, but I don't have a big sweet tooth.  It's just a little sweet tooth that mostly lies dormant, and I do my best not to disturb its dormant state because some very unpredictable behaviors reside down that path.  But this was just an applesauce cake, right?  No big deal.  So we sliced it up that evening and I felt it happening pretty quickly.  This cake is like culinary subterfuge.  A simple applesauce cake for snacking?  I THINK NOT!!!  No, this cake is crazy good.  Like wake up the sleeping sweet tooth fire breathing beast good.  Like either this cake has got to go or we've got to hide every fork in the kitchen.  I will spare you the unseemly details, but I can tell you that this cake has now been safely parceled out to loved ones and the forks are back in the drawer.

Whew!  So I'm posting this recipe along with a very strongly worded caveat... this cake is dangerously good. It's so moist from the applesauce, but sweet and spicy and don't even get me started on that icing.  Oh my ever lovin' goodness.   

But hey!  This would make a great cake for Hanukkah or that upcoming holiday party or just to have sitting on your kitchen counter, taunting you to pick up that fork and take another bite.  It's just an applesauce cake, right?  Here's the recipe...

Applesauce Cake with Caramel Icing

Click here for a printable recipe

You might find the addition of ground black pepper a little odd in this recipe, but flavor-wise, it doesn't read "black pepper".  I think it mostly contributes to the wonderful spice notes and I would advise you not to leave it out.  I used a chunky applesauce and would advise you to do the same.  Musselman's makes one with small chunks of apple that was just perfect in this.  Homemade would be even better!

Recipe Courtesy Food52 

For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 ½ cups unsweetened applesauce (homemade would be awesome)
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

For the glaze:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
½ cup light or dark brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
About ¾ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted 

Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F.

Butter a standard-size (12-cup) Bundt pan (or spray with nonstick cooking spray).

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, pepper, and spices, and whisk to mix well. 

In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the eggs with both sugars until light. Beat in the applesauce, oil, and vanilla until smooth. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture, and beat briefly, just to combine. Use a rubber spatula to fold gently, making sure that all the dry ingredients are incorporated.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the thickest part of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake for 10 minutes in the pan on a rack before turning it out and allowing to cool completely.  (The cake should be room temperature before applying the glaze). 

When you’re ready to glaze, set the cooling rack (with the cake on it) on top of a rimmed sheet pan. This will catch drips. 

Put the butter in a medium (2- to 3-quart) saucepan with the brown sugar, cream, and salt, and set over medium heat. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute exactly, and then pull the pan off the heat. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes, and then gradually whisk in the confectioner’s sugar until you have a thick but pourable consistency.  Only add as much sugar as you need to make a thick glaze.  If it gets too thick, add a little cream to thin it down.  

Immediately pour the glaze over the cake, evenly covering as much surface area as possible. Let the glaze set before serving the cake. 

Yield: about 10 servings

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