Individual Strawberry Royale

Strawberry Royale puts an interesting spin on an old classic by using some little ‘Swiss Rolls’ to make seasonal individual desserts.

Despite the name, the cake does not stem from any type of Swiss tradition or cuisine. The origin of Swiss Roll is not Switzerland, but its beginning is still a mystery. Some think it is an old English recipe, some think it is possibly inspired from the Austrians. Historians believe it was invented around the 19th century. 

The earliest published reference for a rolled cake spread with jelly was in the Northern Farmer, a journal published in Utica, New York, in December 1852.

During the 1960s, manufacturing Swiss Roll as snacks became fairly popular. Big brands such as Little Debbie and Lyons Company began their Swiss Roll businesses around that time.

Different countries have their own version of Swiss Roll. Depending on the country’s taste, they develop their own flavors of cakes and choices of fillings.

In France, Bûche de Noël or Yule Log, is a traditional French dessert during Christmas. It is basically a Swiss Roll decorated with chocolate frosting to resemble a tree branch.

In Sweden, they called it Rulltarta, and some of their Swiss Rolls are made with potato flour instead of wheat flour.

There are many varieties of Swiss Rolls that can be found in most bakeries in Asia. Hong Kong styled Swiss Rolls are typically lighter than western style, because they usually only use standard whipping cream filling.

Indian Swiss Rolls are called Jam Rolls, using filling such as a pineapple jelly.

In Japan, it is common to use Matcha (green tea powder) to flavor the sponge cake, and red bean flavored whipped cream is sometimes used as fillings.

In Malaysia, fruity flavored Swiss Rolls like coconut, strawberry, and blueberry are quite popular. 

Along with great eye appeal this is such a nice, easy summer dessert.

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Individual Strawberry Royale
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Strawberry Sauce
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Strawberry Sauce
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Instructions
Cake/Filling
  1. Line 6 ramekins with plastic wrap. In a large bowl whip cream until stiff peaks form; set aside in refrigerator. In another large bowl, beat pudding mix & milk until smooth.
  2. In a small dish, sprinkle gelatin over boiling water & stir until dissolved. Mix gelatin into pudding mixture & fold in whipped cream. Add sliced strawberries, mix gently.
  3. Cut Swiss rolls into 1/4-inch slices & arrange in ramekin dishes to cover bottom & sides. Pour pudding mixture over cake. Cover with plastic wrap & refrigerate until set.
Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch, sugar & salt. Add water & strawberries; cook until 'clear' & bubbling.
  2. Remove from heat & add butter, lemon juice & zest (if using). Allow to cool then place in a blender. Blender until sauce is smooth or omit the blending process & use as is with chunks of strawberries. Cool sauce completely.
  3. Invert desserts onto serving plates. Drizzle with strawberry sauce & serve.

Chicken Portobello Mushroom Roll-Ups

Lasagna noodles aren’t just for layering. Lasagna, the casserole, is without a doubt the most famous use for the unique lasagna pasta shape. The shape and length of lasagna noodles makes them perfect for rolling up with all manner of fillings.

When it comes to comfort food, we often think of a hearty, gooey pasta dish that will feed an army, lasagna comes to mind. The traditional lasagna you’re used to eating combines layers of tomato sauce, cheese, and meat.  While the traditional portion of lasagna is wonderful, you know how filling it is. For the nights when you want to create easy, individual portions, try making some roll-ups.

The unique flat, wide shape of lasagna pasta makes an interesting canvas for culinary creations such as these chicken portobello mushroom roll-ups.

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Chicken Portobello Mushroom Roll-Ups
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Instructions
Noodles
  1. Cook noodles in boiling water & salt in a large pot for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but firm. Drain. Rinse & drain well.
Chicken Mushroom Filling
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add chicken, onion & garlic. Scramble fry for about 7 minutes until onion is softened & chicken is no longer pink.
  2. Add next 4 ingredients. cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid is evaporated. Sprinkle with flour. Stir; add broth & herbs. Heat & stir until boiling & thickened. Transfer to a medium bowl. Let stand for about 15 minutes until cool.
  3. Spread 1/4 cup filling down length of each noodle. Roll up, jelly-roll style. Place rolls in a greased 8-inch pan
Parmesan Cheese Sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Stir milk into flour in a small saucepan until smooth. Heat & stir on medium for about 8 minutes until boiling & thickened. Add cheese, salt & basil paste. Stir. Pour over noodle rolls. Sprinkle shredded, smoked cheddar cheese over all.
  3. Cover with greased foil & bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil & broil, uncovered (if you wish) for 10 minutes until bubbling & golden. Serve.

Millet Tea Cake

Millet is not just a key ingredient in bird seed and animal feed.  While it is used for these purposes, millet has been an important food source for a large part of the world’s human population dating back to prehistoric times!

It’s a primary ingredient in flatbreads, beer and other fermented beverages, and porridges. Though technically a seed, millet functions like a whole grain, and you can cook with it like you would other whole grains such as rice or quinoa.

The name ‘millet’ refers to several different varieties of a cereal grass, the most common in North America being the proso variety, while ‘pearl millet’ is the most common variety cultivated worldwide. India and parts of Africa are where millet is thought to have evolved.

Millet falls on the sweeter end of the whole grain scale; some people liken the flavor to corn. It also readily takes on the flavor characteristics of the ingredients in a sauce or a dressing. The small, butter-yellow grains cook up light and fluffy, similar to couscous. When ground to a flour, millet’s soft, starchy consistency makes it ideal for gluten-free baking. On its own, millet can taste somewhat bitter, which is why it’s best blended with other mild flours; doing so allows millet’s other flavor notes (buttery, nutty, grassy) to shine. 

Millet is available pearled or hulled: opt for hulled, which is the true whole-grain variety (hulled still retains plentiful fiber, as only the outermost layer is removed). Out of the hull, millet seeds look like tiny yellow beads with dark dots on the side where the plant’s stem was attached. 

Millet is one of the ways in which you can add the perfect gentle crunch to baked goods such as this millet tea cake.

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Millet Tea Cake
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Course Brunch
Cuisine American
Keyword millet tea cake
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Course Brunch
Cuisine American
Keyword millet tea cake
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper making sure to have overlap on the sides for easy removal from the pan.
  2. Whisk oats, flour, sugars, baking soda & salt together. Add buttermilk, oil, egg, vanilla, millet & dates. Whisk to blend. Stir in 1/3 cup boiling water & let stand for 5 minutes. Scrape into baking pan & level out with a fork.
  3. Bake cake 25-30 minutes or until tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. During the cooling stage drizzle cake with lemon curd if you wish. Slice & serve warm or at room temperature.

Couscous & Beef Stuffed Butternut Squash

Israeli Couscous is an invention of the North American culinary mind, just like French and Italian dressing. In Israel, the dish is known as ‘petitim’, which means little crumbles in Hebrew. It was created by the Osem food company in the early 1950’s at the request of Ben Gurion, the prime minister of Israel at the time. Israel was in its early beginnings as a new state and resources were very scarce. At that time the government imposed a period of rationing known as ‘tzena‘. Osem was asked to develop a starch that was more affordable than rice which was very expensive at the time. The company’s response to this request was petitim or small rice shaped pieces of pasta that were toasted. Later, Osem expanded it’s product line to include the little round balls of pasta we know as Israeli couscous.

Couscous has a neutral taste, just like pasta, but infused with broths, stocks, meats, vegetables, and spices will become a satisfying meal. If you are a fan of butternut squash, this dish pairs the lovely sweetness of butternut squash and spicy beef with Israeli couscous.

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Couscous & Beef Stuffed Butternut Squash
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a sheet pan with foil & butter.
  2. Cut butternut squash in half. Remove seeds & membrane. Rub oil on cut sides & place cut-side down on roasting pan, season with salt & pepper. Bake for 40 minutes or until tender but not soft.
  3. Place couscous in a mixing bowl. Pour boiling water over couscous & set aside until the couscous has absorbed all of the water. Fluff with a fork.
  4. In a saucepan, scramble fry ground beef in olive oil; add onion, celery & garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until celery softens, about 3 minutes. Stir in seasonings & salt; cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat, add to couscous mixture & pepita seeds; stir gently until mixed. Set aside.
  5. Remove squash from the oven. Flip the squash so that the cut side is up. With a teaspoon, create a tunnel in the middle of the straight end of each squash, scooping out the flesh but leaving a border of flesh on each side. Remove the flesh, chop coarsely and gently mix into the couscous mixture. Divide the couscous between the two squash halves, filling the tunnel and the round hole that held the squash seeds.
  6. Return to the oven for about 10 minutes or until heated through. Cut squash into four to six portions and serve.
Recipe Notes
  • Adjust the amount of ground beef used according to the size of squash you have.

Apricot Oat Breakfast Cake

Who can turn down cake for breakfast? It says right there in the recipe that ‘Served warm, it makes a delicious breakfast bread’. Although, bread might be stretching the truth a bit too far. Its cake, let’s be honest.

Oats are like the chameleon of the breakfast table, occupying many forms and disguising themselves as a bevy of morning meal options. The baked oats trend has been converting skeptics in huge numbers these days.

This lightly sweetened, apricot oat cake is a breakfast cake that celebrates apricots. A combination of regular all-purpose flour with oat flour results in the perfect crumb and a lovely flavor.  Because oat flour is surprisingly light and retains moisture makes it perfect for pairing as well with the coarser, grittier texture of cornmeal. The slightly sweeter taste of oat flour not only complements the corn flavor, it also lets you use a little bit less sugar.

There’s just something comforting about breakfast cake in the morning!

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Apricot Oat Breakfast Cake
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Cuisine American
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Course Brunch
Cuisine American
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Spray an 8-inch round baking pan with cooking spray. Combine apricot halves and boiling water and let stand 15 minutes to soften. Drain apricots and arrange in bottom of pan.
  3. In medium bowl, whisk together oat flour, white flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In separate bowl, stir together whole egg, egg whites, buttermilk, and olive oil. Make well in center of dry ingredients. Pour egg mixture into well, stirring just until moistened. Pour batter over apricots and smooth top.
  5. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar if desired.
Recipe Notes
  • It’s super easy to make your own oat flour. You’ll need a food processor or a good blender, and oats, that’s it! You use raw oats, any type, and process for a few seconds until they turn into a fine powder.... oat flour!
  • TO MAKE OAT FLOUR USE:
  • 2 1/2 cups oats - use steel cut or rolled
  • Put the oats in a food processor or high speed blender. Blend until the oats become a fine powder. This will only take a few seconds in a high speed blender, and a little bit longer in a food processor. Store the oat flour in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • 1 1/4 cup oats will yield approximately 1 cup flour.

Tourtiere Galette

Tourtiere is a traditional French Canadian meal enjoyed by many people throughout Canada. There is no one correct filling; the meat depends on what is regionally available. In coastal areas, fish such as salmon is commonly used, whereas pork, beef and game are often included inland. The name derives from the vessel in which it was originally cooked, a tourtiere.

While the smell and flavor are unique, they aren’t difficult to like. The flavors are ultimately simple and comforting and you probably have most of the ingredients on hand often. This galette version works perfect in my favorite basic cornmeal pastry crust. Tourtiere can be made ahead and frozen, then baked off as needed.

Apart from making tourtiere in the traditional form, try using the filling in tourtiere meatballs, phyllo rolls, burgers, turnovers or chicken tourtiere tartlets. The filling recipe I’m posting today comes from a tiny little pamphlet I probably have had for 30 years from a meat packing company. It has been one that I have worked with the spices to suit our taste.

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Tourtiere Galette
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Course Main Dish
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Cornmeal Pastry
Course Main Dish
Cuisine French
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Ingredients
Cornmeal Pastry
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Instructions
Cornmeal Pastry
  1. In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or finger tips, cut in butter until mixture resembles BOTH coarse crumbs & small peas.
  2. Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over dough, 1 Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it. After you have added all the sour cream mixture, dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed; if not, add additional cold water, 1 tsp at a time. DO NOT overwork dough.
  3. Press dough into a disk shape & wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Filling
  1. Cut bacon into small pieces & fry over moderate heat until cooked but not crisp. Add pork, veal, onion & garlic; cook until meat is lightly browned. Add water & spices; reduce heat to simmer; cover pan & cook 45 minutes more. Combine meat with mashed potatoes; cool slightly.
Assembly/Baking
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Remove pastry from refrigerator. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll out pastry dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer pastry (leaving it on the parchment paper) to a large deep pie dish. You should have about a 1 1/2-inch pastry overhang. Place tourtiere filling in the pastry shell then carefully fold pastry over it, making a pleated look. Brush pastry with egg wash.
  3. Bake for about 30 minutes or until pastry is cooked & golden brown. Basically you are only baking the pastry since the filling is already cooked.
Recipe Notes
  • Very often tourtiere recipes call for cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves. Neither Brion or I care for those spices in this recipe so its a personal choice you can add or leave out.

‘Everything Spice’ Rolls

Everything’ bagels have been around at least since the 1980’s, but more recently we are seeing the everything spice blend itself, showing up on grocery store shelves.

Everything spice has similar flavor notes to a number of Middle Eastern spices and dishes that have moved into the mainstream over the past few years. The mix of poppy and sesame seeds, garlic, dried onion and salt has always been a popular variation for people who want some tang at breakfast or brunch.

It automatically gives almost any food item that you dust it with a ‘trendy upgrade’. On one recipe website they list more than 101 ways to use the everything spice. Some of them included cheeseballs, savory french toast, meatloaf, cheesesteak and risotto.

To be sure, this spice isn’t for everyone. If you like blueberry bagels and red velvet doughnuts this garlicky blend won’t work for you.

In August of 2020, the Presidents Choice Brand made their ‘copy kat’ version available here in Canada. For that reason, I see no excuse not to buy some. You can stir it into plain cream cheese, sprinkle it on grilled meats, avocado toast, rice, scrambled eggs, salads, chicken, pancakes or use it on top of some ‘Everything Spice Rolls’. Yum!

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'Everything Spice' Rolls
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Course Brunch
Cuisine American
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Course Brunch
Cuisine American
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Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 cup oats, honey, butter & salt with boiling water until combined. Cool to room temperature.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the yeast with warm water. Let stand for about 5 minutes until foamy. Pour into the oat mixture followed by flaxseed meal, whole wheat flour & 1 cup all-purpose flour. Use a wooden spoon to stir into a shaggy dough.
  3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface & knead until the dough is smooth & elastic, about 8-10 minutes. If the dough feels too sticky, add a little more all-purpose flour (up to 1/2-3/4 cup). Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover & let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Punch down the dough & let it rest for 5 minutes. Divide the dough in half; cut each half into 12 portions. Working with one portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent from drying), shape each portion into an 8-inch rope. Tie each rope into a single knot; tuck top end of rope under bottom edge of roll. Place each roll on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap coated with baking spray; let rise in a draft-free place for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  6. Combine egg & water in a small dish; brush egg mixture over rolls. Sprinkle with everything seasoning mix. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire racks.
Recipe Notes
  • If you wish, shape your dough into more than one style of bun.

Bailey’s Strawberries & Cream Fudge Pudding Parfaits

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!

One thing for sure, Valentine desserts most often center around chocolate and strawberries. To celebrate the occasion, Brion came home with a bottle of Bailey’s Strawberries & Cream liqueur. This is the companies second seasonal flavor following their Pumpkin Spice liqueur. To put it in their words, ‘ the drink combines Bailey’s Original Irish Cream with delightful ripe strawberry flavor and delicious vanilla’.

After we had enjoyed it as a drink it got me thinking about how I could incorporate it into a ‘special’ dessert as well. Do you recall those classic Hot Fudge Pudding Cakes from the 60’s? They were the ultimate comfort food, fancy enough for a parfait and homey enough to be a spur of the moment indulgence. I could see nothing wrong in swapping out the milk in the original recipe for some strawberries & cream liqueur!

Speaking of pudding cake, its really kind of a culinary miracle, how pouring hot water over a thick batter can create this warm, fudgy concoction that lies precisely at the intersection of cake and pudding.

OK, on with my dessert … I had some strawberries in the freezer so they became a nice strawberry sauce to compliment the liqueur in the pudding. Serving this dessert parfait style with some ice cream or whipped topping adds a bit of elegance and I’m sure you will love the taste.

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Bailey's Strawberries & Cream Fudge Pudding Parfaits
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
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Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In an 8 X 8-inch baking dish, combine first 5 ingredients. Add liqueur, margarine & walnuts, combine well. Batter will be very stiff (if you find it easier to mix the cake in a small bowl instead, do so). Spread batter evenly in the baking dish.
  2. In a small dish, combine brown sugar & 1/4 cup cocoa powder & sprinkle over batter. Pour boiling water over all & bake for about 40 minutes or until batter rises to the top & is baked through.
Strawberry Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch, sugar & salt. Mix well. Add water & sliced strawberries. Cook until sauce is clear & bubbly. Remove from heat & cool.
Assembly
  1. Place some strawberry sauce in the bottom of each parfait glass. Spoon fudge pudding over sauce & top with ice cream or whipped topping. Serve with a glass of liqueur!

Baked Barley Pudding with Caramel Sauce

Barley was traditionally used to add bulk and a comforting flavor to stews and broths. The gentle flavor of this grain makes it endlessly adaptable. I have often substituted it for rice in main course dishes but it is definitely dessert worthy too.

Like rice pudding, its a comforting (old fashioned) dish. Barley stays chewy compared to how soft rice becomes even after a few days in the fridge. Now, don’t get me wrong … I love rice pudding and of course its one of those desserts that holds nostalgic memories for me.

Barley was a grain crop my father grew on our family farm. As Canadians, we are blessed with some of the most fertile farmland in the world. Our province of Alberta, along with the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, are the major growing areas for barley in Canada.

Having such great nutritional value and versatility, barley deserves much more culinary acclaim than it receives, I think. This barley pudding is best served warm. I chose to make a simple caramel sauce to drizzle over it. In the whipped topping MIX, I used 1% milk and added a tiny bit of anise flavor for interest. Yum!

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Baked Barley Pudding with Caramel Sauce
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Course dessert
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Instructions
Barley Pudding
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil; add barley & 1 tsp salt. Reduce heat, cover & simmer for 45 minutes or until barley is tender. Cool.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, butter & vanilla; beat well. Add cooked barley, raisins, lemon zest & juice.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 F. Turn pudding into a well buttered, 6-cup baking dish. Set pan into a larger baking pan in oven. Pour hot water into the larger pan to within an inch of the top of the pudding. Bake for an hour or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm as is or with caramel sauce & anise topping.
Caramel Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, add sugar & cornstarch. Pour in a little of the hot water & whisk quickly to blend. Over a low heat, add the rest of the water, butter, salt & rum extract. Simmer for 10 minutes until thickened. Prepare dry whipped topping mix if using.

Seven Grain Date Roll Cake with Apple Cream Cheese

Sometimes a favorite recipe just begs for an update. Many of us will remember the ‘vintage’ jelly roll cake. A nice tender, golden cake with strawberry jam rolled up inside and sometimes sprinkled with powdered sugar. Probably considered unique for its time. Food, like fashion, music, design and architecture are reflections of our culture. I’ve always found it interesting to rethink previous recipe ideas, use spices and seasonings from other cultures or try contrasting ingredients that don’t typically go together. The most important thing is not to veer so far from the original that the end result is unrecognizable.

This recipe is one that has been in my muffin recipe collection for over twenty years. A multi-grain batter with dates and nuts. I was trying to think how I could do an update on it to transform it into a unique cake roll. With a few adjustments to the original batter as well as adding apple cream cheese filling, it turned a grainy breakfast cereal into a very tasty dessert.


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Seven Grain Date Roll Cake with Apple Cream Cheese

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Course Brunch, dessert

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Ingredients
Cake Roll

Apple Cream Cheese Filling

Course Brunch, dessert

Servings


Ingredients
Cake Roll

Apple Cream Cheese Filling

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Instructions
Apple Cream Cheese Filling
  1. In a saucepan, combine apples, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon & water. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until apples are soft & caramelized & most of the water has evaporated but it's still syrupy. Pour into a bowl, cover & refrigerate until completely cooled. In the meantime, begin preparing cake roll. When ready to use filling, whip the cream cheese in a bowl with sour cream, yogurt, extract & powdered sugar until smooth. Fold in cooled apple mixture & spread on cake roll.

Cake Roll
  1. In a small bowl, combine 7-grain cereal, boiling water, instant coffee granules & chopped dates. Allow to cool.

  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 15 X 10-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, oil, extract & above prepared 7-grain mixture.

  3. In another small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt & nuts. Fold dry mixture carefully into wet mixture, mixing only until just combined. Bake about 12-15 minutes or until cake tests done.

  4. Turn out onto a tea towel sprinkled with a little powdered sugar. Starting at narrow end, roll up cake & towel together. Cool. Unroll & spread with apple cream cheese filling. Re-roll & chill. If you prefer, you can sprinkle with powdered sugar before slicing & serving.