Let Us Give Thanks…

by Jennifer Wieland

This past weekend I attended the Chicago Fine Chocolate Show here in Chicago at Navy Pier. It was filled with tons of chocolatiers, bakers and drink manufacturers giving out yummy samples. The French Pastry School was also there doing baking and sculpture demonstrations. The one booth I found the most fascinating though was the Icing Smiles one. The booth contained four large, three-dimensional cakes and each had a box in front of it. The well known pastry chefs who created them were on hand trying to drum up donations to be dropped into the box in front of their own cake. You see Icing Smiles is a charity whose “mission is to create special memories during a difficult time by providing unique custom celebration cakes to ill children and their siblings”. With Thanksgiving in a couple of days I thought what a great way to give thanks to those who are in more difficult places in their lives than most of us are. I also really like that the siblings are included. There are many charities for ill children but few think of the siblings who sacrifice and go without during an illness in the family. To learn more about this great charity, donate, volunteer or apply to be a cake recipient please visit their website. You can also see pictures of children with their cakes on their Facebook page.

This is a cake done by one of the pastry chefs at the show for Icing Smiles.

Today I am posting two recipes just in time for the holiday. First off we have Cranberry Sauce. For those of you have never attempted to make homemade cranberry sauce and usually buy the can, let me tell you this is so easy to make and tastes SO much better. Once you make your own you will never even look at that canned stuff again.

Cranberry Sauce

1 12oz bag of cranberries
3/4 c. orange juice (I used fresh squeezed)
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. white sugar
1 tbsp. Amaretto
1 tbsp. Grand Marnier

Throw all of the ingredients into a medium size sauce pan and heat over medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes. Stir as needed. There will be a lot of juice as the sugars melt and the cranberries will begin to pop. As it continues to cook the sauce will reduce and thicken. You can make this early and refrigerate it. Bring it up to room temperature or slightly warm it before serving.

The second recipe of the day is a Orange Spice Cake with a Cream Cheese Glaze. I happened to bake mine in my pumpkin pan but you can also use a bundt cake pan. This is a really yummy combination of fall seasonings and citrus. Both the cake and glaze recipes are adapted from Nordic Ware’s recipes. I tried to locate them but I could not find a link to them on their website.

Orange Spice Cake

2 c.all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ginger
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. butter, softened
1 tbsp. grated orange zest
3 eggs
3/4 c. sour cream
1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. orange extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour pan or spray with baking spray.

In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and then set aside. In the bowl of a
stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the sugar and butter until fluffy on medium-high. Next add in the eggs and mix until just combined. Add the flour mixture alternating with the milk, be sure to start and end with the flour mixture. Stir in the sour cream and orange extract. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat on medium-high for one minute. With the double cavity pan I used bake time was 50-55 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before inverting it onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

Cream Cheese Glaze

2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
3-5 tbsp. milk
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
food coloring if desired

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment place all of the ingredients minus the food coloring. Mix starting out on low and mix until combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl and then add the food coloring and beat on medium-high until the coloring is evenly distributed and there are no more lumps. This is a thick glaze that you can thin with additional milk. You can either allow the gaze to flow down the cake or spread it with a spatula to more evenly distribute.

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