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baklava

Baklava

Ingredients

For the filling:
1 lb. walnuts, coarsely ground
1/2 lb. almonds, coarsely ground
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

For the syrup:
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
10 whole cloves
Juice of half a lemon

1 lb. phyllo pastry sheets
1/2 lb. unsalted butter, melted
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 85 minutes
Yield: Approximately 24 pieces

PREPARATION

Note:
If you are using a food processor to grind the nuts, process the almonds separately from the walnuts. Almonds take a bit more time to grind than walnuts and you don’t want the walnuts to be ground too finely.

Mix the walnuts, almonds, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Unwrap the Phyllo:

Carefully remove the Phyllo roll from the plastic sleeve. Most packages come in 12 x 18 inch sheets when opened fully. Using a scissor or sharp knife, cut the sheets in half to make two stacks of 9 x 12 inch sheets. To prevent drying, cover one stack with wax paper and a damp paper towel while working with the other

Assemble the Baklava:

Using a pastry brush, brush the bottom and sides of a 9 x 12 rectangular pan. Begin by layering six sheets of phyllo making sure to brush each with melted butter.

Add half of the nut mixture in an even layer. Pat it down with a spatula to flatten.

Continue layering another 6 sheets of phyllo. Add the remaining nut mixture in an even layer. Top with the remaining phyllo sheets.

Before baking, score the top layer of phyllo (making sure not to go past the top filling layer) to enable easier cutting of pieces later. I place the pan in the freezer to harden the top layers and then use a serrated knife.

Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until the phyllo turns a rich golden color.

Prepare the Syrup While the Baklava is Baking:

In a medium saucepan, combine the water and the sugar and mix well. Add the cloves and simmer over medium high heat for about 20 minutes. You want the syrup to be slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and discard the cloves. Stir in the juice of half a lemon. Allow the syrup to cool slightly.

When the baklava is out of the oven and still warm, ladle the syrup carefully into the pan. Baklava can be refrigerated or stored at room temperature.

Recipe found here: Baklava

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Carrot Layer Cake

Carrot Layer Cake

Ingredients

FILLING:
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup butter
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

CAKE:
1-1/4 cups canola oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
4 cups finely shredded carrots
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped pecans

FROSTING:
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 packages (3 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions
In a large heavy saucepan, combine sugar, flour and salt. Stir in cream; add butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until the butter is melted; bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in nuts and vanilla. Cool and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat oil and sugar until well blended. Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with eggs, beating well after each addition. Stir in the carrots, raisins and nuts.

Pour into three greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

For frosting, in a small bowl, beat the butter, cream cheese and vanilla until fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar until smooth. Spread filling between cake layers. Frost the sides and top of cake. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 16-20 servings.

Recipe found here: Carrot Layer Cake

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Pumpkin-Citrus Bundt Cake

Pumpkin-Citrus Bundt Cake

Ingredients
2 cups canned pumpkin
1-1/3 cups sugar
1-1/4 cups fat-free milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup canola oil
1-1/2 teaspoons maple flavoring
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

GLAZE:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 to 2 tablespoons orange juice

Directions
n a large bowl, beat the pumpkin, sugar, milk, eggs, orange juice, oil, maple flavoring and vanilla until well blended. Combine the flours, flaxseed, orange peel, baking powder, cornstarch, poppy seeds, pie spice, salt and baking soda; gradually beat into pumpkin mixture until blended.

Transfer to a greased and floured 10-in. fluted tube pan. Bake at 350° for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar, orange peel and enough juice to achieve desired consistency. Drizzle over cake. Yield: 14 servings.

Recipe found here: Pumpkin-Citrus Bundt Cake

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Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Ingredients
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 vanilla beans
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup whole milk

FROSTING:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 teaspoons McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
Assorted sprinkles and candies

Directions
Preheat oven to 375°. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Split vanilla beans lengthwise; using the tip of a sharp knife, scrape seeds from the center into creamed mixture. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition.

Fill prepared cups three-fourths full. Bake 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla until blended. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Frost cupcakes. Decorate with sprinkles and candies as desired. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 1-1/2 dozen.

Freeze option: Freeze cooled cupcakes in resealable plastic freezer bags. To use, thaw at room temperature. Frost as directed.

Recipe found here: Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

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Christmas Eggnog Pie

Christmas Eggnog Pie

Ingredients
2 cups eggnog
1 cup milk
1 package (4.6 ounces) cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix
1 tablespoon rum or 1/2 teaspoon rum extract
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pastry shell (9 inches), baked
Whipped topping and additional ground nutmeg, optional

Directions
In a large saucepan, cook the eggnog, milk and pudding mix over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Stir in rum and nutmeg. Pour pudding mixture into crust. Chill until set. Garnish with whipped topping and sprinkle with nutmeg if desired. Yield: 8 servings.

Editor’s Note: This recipe was tested with commercially prepared eggnog.

Recipe found here: Christmas Eggnog Pie

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Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes

Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes

Ingredients
Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes:
1 package (2-layer size) yellow cake mix
1 package (4-serving size) vanilla instant pudding mix
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup water
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons McCormick® Cinnamon, Ground
1 teaspoon McCormick® Cloves, Ground
1 teaspoon McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract

Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 teaspoon McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon McCormick® Cloves, Ground
1 box (16 ounces) confectioners’ sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F. For the Cupcakes, beat all ingredients, except Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting, in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed just until moistened, scraping side of bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes or until well blended.

Spoon batter into 24 lightly greased or paper-lined muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full.

Bake 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely.

For the Frosting, beat cream cheese, butter, vanilla and cloves in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Frost cooled cupcakes with Frosting.

Serves: Makes 24 servings.

Recipe found here: Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes

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Black Velvet Whoopie Pies

Black Velvet Whoopie Pies

Ingredients

Cookies:
1 package (2-layer size) German chocolate cake mix with pudding
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons McCormick® Black Food Color
3 eggs

1 tablespoon McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract

Jack-O-Lantern Orange Filling:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme
1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Pure Orange Extract
1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Red Food Color
1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Yellow Food Color

Directions
For the Cookies, preheat oven to 350°F. Beat cake mix, water, cocoa powder, oil, food color, eggs and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed just until moistened, scraping sides of bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes.

Spoon 1 tablespoon of batter, 2 inches apart, onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. (Cookies will spread so avoid crowding them on baking sheet.).

Bake 8 minutes or until cookies are puffed and spring back when touched, turning baking sheets halfway through baking. Cool on baking sheets 1 minute. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

For the Orange Filling, beat all ingredients in medium bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. To assemble the Whoopie Pies, place 1 tablespoon filling on flat side of 1 cookie. Top with a second cookie, pressing gently to spread the filling. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling. Store whoopie pies between layers of wax paper in airtight container in refrigerator up to 5 days.

Serves: 24
Serving Size: 1 whoopie pie

Cooking Tips
Variations:
Frankenstein Green Filling: Use McCormick® Pure Lemon Extract in place of the orange extract and 1/4 teaspoon Neon Green McCormick® Assorted NEON! Food Colors & Egg Dye in place of the yellow and red food color.

Phantom Purple Filling: Use 1 teaspoon McCormick® Raspberry Extract in place of the orange extract and 1/2 teaspoon Neon Purple and 15 drops Neon Blue McCormick® Assorted NEON! Food Colors & Egg Dye in place of the yellow and red food color.

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