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If my husband has taught me one thing in two years of marriage , it’s to not settle for the mundane; to follow your dreams. He teaches me to not just look at the stars but catch them and make my dreams happen.

[yeah, we started this blog two years ago, and it’s just now getting off the ground in earnest…life, right? Happy two-months-into-year-five!]

Unfortunately, like many of you reading this, we both are constrained by “boxes” – coffin-like morbid realities if you will. Mine self-inflicted, and his more so the office confinement inflicted upon him by typical American society – much to his chagrin.

So where’s the turning-point? Where’s the change and when’s the day when we break out of confinement?

I guess it’s when you realize you hit bottom. rock bottom. But you’re there together. And that’s all that matters to me in this life.

This blog was started because my happiest moments are in the kitchen with my husband. Our kitchen travels are endless, overwhelming, ridiculous, and delicious. We are true explorers of our kitchen – sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t and most times they end up in tears or arguments until the first taste of something we created together.

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Homemade Kimchi – Batch #2! One of the many things I never thought I’d cook!

Our meals of “clean out the fridge and make something new” are my favorites and our friends constantly comment on our social media posts of our take on a Korean or Japanese or other seemingly inaccessible meal that they’d love to join us for dinner.

So here’s our answer for now, because this is our escape, our freedom. I love my husband and every moment with him, the good, the bad, and the ugly-teary-mess-covered-in-flour that I often become.

We’d love to share these moments with family and friends more than just through social media and make people want to sit down at our table for a meal, so come explore with us and let’s see where this journey goes!

After all, that’s all I’ve done since the moment I met my husband, eating my first piece of “sushi.”

Nicole

Passionfruit Coconut Buttercream Cake

pangeaThis was a recipe that definitely caught my eye. As an avid chocolate lover, I believe I even exclaimed while devouring this cake, “I could forget chocolate forever if I got to eat this everyday!” (Andrew’s Note: You have no idea how big of a deal this would be for Nicole – she loves chocolate THAT much…) The laughing bouts of hysteria from how delicious this buttercream tasted entertained my husband and made me forget my worries for at least a few minutes.

Now, that’s a good buttercream and definitely a recipe worth making.

I can’t say this was the easiest recipe. Toasting anything in a pan is always anxiety-provoking; a second too long and it seems you have little chunks of burned charcoal speckled in your sweet dessert. The buttercream also made me nervous, as it changes consistency quickly and often as you add ingredients, but it worked, and let’s face it, I was a ball of nerves this week so the baking process wasn’t easy.

Originally, I spotted the recipe one day when I was sucked into paging through a bunch of Rick Bayless’ recipes. I’ve always loved his use of authentic flavors, so this captured my interest – and with the passion fruit element, I knew I could share the dessert with Andrew….who isn’t as dependent on the daily chocolate fix that I require.

No lie, I actually ate the leftovers of the recipe at home…by making a few cupcakes and half a 6″ cake covered in buttercream.

The actual cake was made and delivered to congratulate a new neighborhood restaurant chef! Hence the logo on the cake! (check them out at http://www.pangeaworldfusion.com)

Andrew often encourages me to share my “gift,” but I don’t necessarily think of it as a gift. More selfishly, I am always wanting to try new recipes and need some other people to help us enjoy all this food!

Regardless, I baked three 6-inch layer cakes and a few cupcakes from this recipe and brought the layer cake with the new logo of the restaurant on top made of edible sugar paper to our new friends as a congratulatory “Happy-full-time-new-restaurant-you-never-have-to-go-back-to-your-old-job-again!”

In order to make the buttercream, I did have to track down passion fruit puree. If, like us, you aren’t living in a tropical paradise where inexpensive passion fruit abounds, you can often it frozen at a local Mexican market.

Another plug for shopping your local markets: ours are fantastic! Upon walking in, this one had the best-smelling, authentic tacos cooking for lunch. It had old school checkered table cloths and basic framed chairs. It’s perfect though, and I need to go back to eat lunch there with Andrew – probably the most adventurous eater you’ll ever meet.

Every time we’re somewhere like this, he convinces me to get the “craziest thing” on the menu (even if that’s “Tacos de Lengua”). I give him “skeptical face,” proceed to order it anyway, and it’s always delicious. Just wait.

Back on topic, make these cupcakes. They are the best cupcake/cake I’ve ever eaten. I thought while eating these….this is what heaven is made of…..or maybe…this is what all wedding cakes SHOULD be made of. They really are that good. And, I’m pretty sure the buttercream could go on everything.

Everything.

Ingredients:

Cupcakes

  • 10 1/2 ounces AP flour
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter – softened
  • ¾ cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup sour cream – if you’ve got real “Crema Agria” use it!
  • ¾ cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted (To toast, place sauté pan over medium heat and stir constantly until golden brown. About 4 minutes.)

 

Passion Fruit Buttercream Frosting

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 pound butter, softened, each stick cut into quarters
  • ½ cup passion fruit puree
  • 4 ounces white chocolate, melted, cooled to room temperature (Microwave in bowl on defrost 10-30 second intervals and stir. Do this in 2-3 rounds and stir it a lot and let it sit. Repeat as necessary but going slow here is the trick).

To make the Cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a mixer, combine the sugar and softened butter on medium speed until light and fluffy (wait for your husband about 15 minutes here to return from the store with the coconut milk you thought you had). Add the coconut milk, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream. Mix until combine. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl using a rubber spatula. Add the flour mixture and mix on medium low until smooth. Do not overmix batter. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the toasted coconut.

If making cupcakes….fill the cupcake liners ¾ the way full. This recipe doesn’t rise as much as some other cupcake recipes out there.

If making 6 in cake rounds, butter bottom of cake pan, insert round of parchment cut to same size and butter top of parchment and sides of cake pan. Place handful of flour in pan and use other hand to bump pan to spread flour over bottom and sides of pain. Drop out excess flour into sink or trash can. Fill pan 2/3 full of batter.

Bake cupcakes for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting. The cake rounds take far longer to bake….about 50 minutes, I believe. I baked them until a toothpick came out clean and they no longer jiggled.

Interesting side note here-I forgot to flour the last cake round and only used butter. The cake still rose in the oven but almost looked as though it stuck to the sides and sunk a little before coming back up in the middle (it had a small lip around the edges.) Tasted the same, but interesting note about how the flour actually effects the rise of the cake.

To make the Buttercream

Combine the eggs, sugar, and salt in the bowl from an electric mixer. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly, but gently to heat the mixture until it registers 160 degrees (it gets there pretty quickly).

Remove the bowl from the heat and beat the mixture on medium high speed with the whisk attachment until light and cooled to room temperature (takes a longer time than I thought). The bottom of the bowl should be (relatively) cool to the touch. Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter one piece at a time. *This is where I got scared. The foaminess completely disappears and you almost get a sheen to the buttercream at this point….but just keep going.

Once all the butter has been added, pour in the melted white chocolate, then the passion fruit puree. When incorporated, raise the speed to high and continue beating until light and fluffy. Refrigerate until you’re ready to use – BUT NOT TOO LONG otherwise the butter will seize back up and you’ll have to wait until it softens again to frost/ice your cake(s)!

Frost the cupcakes or cake and enjoy!

oh, and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for eating a spoonful of the buttercream. Or five.

Mint and Chocolate and Ice Cream, Oh My!

ice creamAfter 3 years of not being able to get a mint plant to grow consistently, we now have an overabundance of mint….like a ton. It makes the heat these days bearable to change-up our recipes to play with the herbs and vegetable plants outside. (Now if our tomatoes would hurry up and ripen!)

One of our most favorite things from eating on Disney Cruises is the difference fresh herbs make in a dish. Whether it’s the fresh produce as a side or a sprig of fresh tarragon, it always seems to truly be the finishing touch.

Here in St. Louis, and with our jalapeno-eating puppy, it isn’t necessarily easy to grow herbs and vegetables like we would really like on our postage-stamp-sized lot of a backyard. Our best solution right now is to plant everything in pots and line the front porch, just waiting for a particularly bold passer-by to grab one of our enticing tomatoes.

Another thing that happens here in St. Louis: it gets hot…like surprisingly hot…and the combination of the heat, stress, my love of all things sweet, and our fresh batch of mint growing out front, what better to make than “faux fresh mint pint slices?!” We tried the Ben and Jerry’s Americone Dream pint slices, which were delicious but came, annoyingly, in a box of three…not great for sharing purposes between the two of us.

Solution: make our own and make them mint. Here’s the ice cream recipe:

Ingredients:

2 cups whole milk

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened (3 tablespoons)

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

2/3 cup sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1 cup coarsely mint leaves and stems

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

 

  1. Mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch. In another large bowl, whisk the cream cheese until smooth (warm it slightly if needed).
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining milk with the heavy cream, sugar and corn syrup. Warm the pan over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves, about 4 minutes. Off the heat, gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute and coats the back of a spoon.
  3. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the chopped mint (mine was still a little lumpy but they go away in the ice cream maker). Whisk in the salt. Place the mixture in a bowl in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
  4. Freeze ice cream in ice cream maker after removing the mint leaves according to ice cream maker’s directions. Then place in freezer in bowl until set.

I turned the ice cream into pint slices by filling English muffins rings with the ice cream before fully set. I then froze them completely in rings on parchment paper. To release the ice cream I held the outer ring to warm slightly and cut around the perimeter with a knife. Skewer the ice cream slices and quickly dip in melted chocolate*, return to the freezer and voila!

*This whole dip quickly thing in melted chocolate never works quite as well as I would like. I would suggest trying to properly temper the chocolate with a double boiler or appropriately adding coconut oil to chocolate in order to make a chocolate shell and keep the chocolate thinner. I’ve ended up with far too many globby fingers and melted ice cream chocolate than I’d like to acknowledge.

Mint ice cream (with Stracciatella-style chocolate)

The recipe above was one I made over a year ago. Same type of mint plant, same sweets craving. However, recentlty we’ve really been trying to eat “real.” “Real ingredients” and “real food.” That means this year I wanted a natural ice cream to use up the overabundance of mint.

I had also realized that the more you steep the mint, the stronger the flavors become – like when you make a cup of tea and set it down and walk away for an hour and come back to a STRONG room temp cup.

This seems logical, but when using real mint leaves instead of extract you end up with almost an unnatural or plant like taste in your ice cream. I’d definitely make this ice cream again, and the chocolate in the ice cream maker worked far better than I thought. BONUS: it was easier than coating the squares or circles (whichever you chose to make from the recipe above). I’d definitely make this recipe again, it’s refreshing and natural.

Ingredients

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

1 large or two small bunches fresh mint leaves

6 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

4 ounces dark chocolate

2 teaspoons neutral-flavored oil, such as vegetable or canola

In a saucepan, bring cream and milk to a simmer. Remove from heat, stir in mint leaves, cover, and let steep for 1.5 hours.

In a different saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well combined. Quickly strain cream and milk mixture into pot with egg yolks, pressing on the mint with the back of a spoon to extract the mint flavor. Whisk until combined, then set over medium heat and cook, whisking frequently, until a custard forms on a spoon and a finger swiped across the back leaves a clean line.

Pour custard through a fine mesh strainer into an airtight container and chill overnight in refrigerator.

Churn ice cream according to manufacturer’s instructions. While ice cream churns, melt chocolate in a microwave or double boiler (or low power in microwave in short 10 second bursts) and stir to combine with oil. During final minutes of churning, slowly drizzle chocolate into ice cream to form thin, lacy lines, pausing to break up larger chocolate chunks with a spoon, if needed.

Transfer churned ice cream to an airtight container and harden in freezer for at least 4 hours before serving.

 

 

Almond breakfast bread

Almond is definitely one of my top indulgences these days. The smell of the almond paste in this recipe was one that definitely took me back to some of the most indulgent things I’ve eaten. My favorite sweet pastry is an almond croissant with any sort of chocolate candy or turffle smashed inside…definitely a fond memory of the Disney cruise we recently went on. Our server had suggested this delightful delicacy from the buffet of brunch delights and I couldn’t resist but try it. That being said, this healthified breakfast recipe is definitely reminiscent of that flavor, minus the prosecco and chocolate truffle, but still INCREDIBLY good. I strongly recommend trying this recipe and not being afraid of the almond paste, as you can easily find it in the baking section of the grocery store.

Ingredients

  • 6.75 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups) (*I substituted partially with whole wheat flour and used about ¾ c white and the rest whole wheat.)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • <2/3 cup granulated sugar (*I omitted a small amount of the sugar in this recipe and we loved it just the same.)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 (7-ounce) package almond paste
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, stirring well with a fork. Place granulated sugar, butter, oil, and broken up almond paste (chunks) in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined (about 3 minutes) with paddle attachment. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition; beat in vanilla. Beating at low speed, add flour mixture and 1/2 cup milk alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until combined.

Scrape batter into a 9 x 5-inch metal loaf pan coated with baking spray if not using non-stick; sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs clinging. (I had to bake mine 8 mins more for the knife to come out clean.) Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes.

Chicken Andouille Corn Dogs

We needed a break. A big break. I guess for us that means we make some good-‘ole Americana fair food….slightly “healthified”. To satisfy this particular craving and still stay on a somewhat good track we used chicken sausage instead of hot dogs…..and proceeded to fry them.

What can I say, we were on a bit of a fryer kick…and by we I mean me. 

corndog
If there’s a “healthy” way to make a fried corn dog, this is probably it.

I had always wanted a fryer – there were so many new things we could easily make! My husband was sweet enough to allow me to try this one and let me blast Disney songs full on in our lower level. What better stress relief than combining this food experiment with than Disney music? It was like we were hand in hand walking Main Street at Disney world again, smelling Casey’s Corner. Our stress soon disappeared into the delicious aroma of the fried batter coming from our kitchen.

The best part of this recipe was we were actually able to make it together. We prepared the batter together, fried together, and sat down together all with a fairly easy task and ingredient list. Even though we made it all together, I still put the hubby on frying duty. Even though I’d love to renovate the kitchen, maybe burning it down isn’t the best idea!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cups buttermilk (I used scant 1 cup 2% milk with remaining area filled with white vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 chicken andouille sausage

 

Instructions

  1. Heat your fryer to 350 degrees. Make buttermilk and let sit 5-10 minutes.
  2. In a mixing bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Beat in the egg, milk, and vegetable oil.
  4. Insert two skewers into each sausage leaving enough of the stick showing to create a handle. Inserting two skewers means the sausage won’t just proceed to flip around in the fryer. Pat each hot dog dry with a paper towel.
  5. Dip each hot dog into the batter, covering the hot dog all the way up to where the stick is inserted. Immediately put in fryer.
  6. Each one only takes 3-4 minutes. Put on paper towels to drain.

Kale Bistro Salad

This has not only quickly become our favorite go-to salad, but our favorite weeknight dinner. I’m not sure exactly why or when we started making it but each time we enjoy the simplicity of it and finally sitting down together at the end of a long day.

This salad has definitely changed with us. For a while we would come home and through together nachos or tortilla crust pizzas after a long day of work, for a while we at curry every. single. night. {Andrew’s take: Nicole is the only one who really got tired of delicious Thai green curry every night…} for a while we made super complicated dinners until about 10 pm at night and then ate dinner together, and now, we eat this salad at least three nights a week.

Maker:S,Date:2017-8-16,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y
Anyone who doesn’t like kale obviously hasn’t had this salad.

We have changed the recipe to our liking and to be an easy go-to weeknight dinner and each time we sit down we both enjoy it…except for the time I super went over board with the un-measured pepper 😉

We each do our part to complete the salad. It really does taste better this way, and it sounds stupid, but it’s true. My favorite thing in this whole world is to create and cook things in the kitchen with my husband. Create anything, and as long as I can add my occasional Bugel or Cheeze-it or Bourbon whipped cream to the recipe and he can make his “simple” Asian dish, I think we’ll both remain happy for a long time. For a long time I said no to the simple dishes, the quesadillas, the rice and meat, and the “whatevers in the fridge” with a grilled cheese. Now, I long for that simplicity….maybe that’s just what happens when everything else gets crazy.

One of my major loves for this salad is we now go into auto-pilot when making it. It gives us the time to talk and decompress from the day….which nowadays it completely necessary. I kind of wonder if we’ll still be making it together when we are 80 years old, old and hobbling around the kitchen – or as Andrew says, if either of us will be able to peel soft-boiled eggs at that point. 

In a way, every time we make this salad it is a sort of love letter to each other. It’s our time. Time to sit, talk, love each other, and eat something we know is healthy for us.

I wouldn’t necessarily call this salad simple, but it’s damn good, so try it.

Basic Vinaigrette

3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 minced shallot

1 minced garlic clove

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and use a fork or whisk to rapidly blend the vinaigrette together for a few minutes.

Cacio e Pepe Croutons

1/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Black pepper, to taste
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1.5-2 cups day-old bread cubes (about 1 inch)

Mix the cheese, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper in a small bowl; set aside. Cut the bread into roughly 1- inch cubes.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the bread cubes, toss to coat with the oil, and arrange in a single layer. Toast the bread, tossing every minute or so, until the cubes are golden-brown on all sides, about 5 minutes total.

Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl. Immediately sprinkle with the cheese and pepper mixture and toss to combine.

Serves 2

2 large eggs
3 slices of (turkey) bacon
3 cups thinly sliced kale leaves
1 cups thinly sliced radicchio (Or just use kale)
1/2 cup cacio e pepe croutons

1/4 cup basic vinaigrette

Fill a small saucepan half-way with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a rapid simmer and gently add the eggs to the water, one at a time. Cook 6 minutes for a runny yolk. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon. Run the eggs under cold water and, once cool enough to handle, gently peel.  [OR have your husband sous vide them.]

Place the bacon in a single layer in cast iron skillet. Fry over medium-low heat until the bacon is crispy on one side. Flip the bacon with tongs and fry until the second side is crispy. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Break the bacon into 1-inch pieces.

Place the kale and radicchio in a large bowl and toss to combine. When ready to serve, divide the greens among 2 plates. Top with the bacon and croutons. Place 1 egg on each serving and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

Cured salmon

Salmon jerky, or more accurately, steelhead trout candy, is one of life’s little luxuries….and a healthy luxury in moderation. My husband has exposed me to the whole world of salmon and all of its variations…smoked, cured, and now jerky!

Before we made this I had no idea there is good likelihood when you get salmon like this out, it’s actually steelhead trout. As usual, we decided we can definitely make this ourselves at home and off to Costco we went for a steelhead trout larger than both our heads combined and boy, was it worth it.

First we brined and cured the salmon – a process that takes the better part of 2 days. It was meant to be cold smoked but after hours of attempts on a chilly Midwestern Sunday morning to fix the smoker, hand ignite the wood chip discs, and countless other ideas, we gave up and just tried it after the brine….and it was INCREDIBLE. It didn’t even need cold smoking.

With the cured salmon, we turned it into our classic favorite, bread of sort (this time everything bagel chips), eggs (lucky me – quail eggs hubby found in the local Asian grocery store!) and red curry sauce. Delightful weekend breakfast. And might I pat myself on the back…..those quail eggs were pristinely perfectly cracked for a quick sunny side up.

Then we realized we had more salmon then we could possibly eat for the same dish, and my lovely adventurous eater of a husband suggested salmon jerky. The first batch we glazed with one of the many Asian sauces in our refrigerator…and the next batch,

MAPLE SYRUP (clearly the winner!). This stuff was good. Every time I took a bite my instinct was, “eww, fish” then immediately “delicious, more please.” It is fishy but the second it seems almost too fishy, it’s sooooo good.

It tastes like something that is bad for you like a candied bacon ice cream cookie sandwich, fried, but it’s fish. There’s an accurate description for you. ☺

The salmon jerky/candy was made in the new Breville Smart Oven Air we bought for ourselves. It was dehydrated after glazing and curing.

Olive oil pecan rum cake

There’s something about the Caribbean.

Especially sitting here thinking about it staring out into the grey-skied barren tree traffic jam I can see as I type. That Myers rum and daydreaming about it brings back memories of beautiful blue skies with Caribbean steel drums playing in the background.

Rum cakes have become abundantly popular in Nassau, one of the places we’re blessed enough to had visited a few times. I’m always surprised about the various flavors and descriptions of rum cakes but I don’t think even chocolate, key lime, coconut, banana or any of the others even compared to the original.

This is definitely the BEST rum cake I’ve ever made and potentially had (I mean it doesn’t come with the scenery of the sea and salty taste in the air or anything…). The other reason this recipe intrigued me was the “olive oil” part. I really think some of the best TRUE cakes are made with olive oil…I know a lot of people stand by their mayo cake or butter or whatever your choice may be, but there’s just something recently for me with olive oil “plain jane” cakes at least for a base and then go for it, jazz ‘em up.

So I will admit, I did have a bit of trouble with this recipe. YOU MUST grease the bundt pan incredibly well. And then do it again and maybe even a third time to just make sure it’s greased. I think next time I make a bundt cake I’m going to try either buying the baking spray with flour in it or grease my pan and then add flour to the pan and knock it around to evenly coat. I had the hardest, most disappointing time, fishing and cutting my cakes out of the mini bundt pans I used. I don’t have a full size bundt pan but would probably recommend one for this recipe.

Despite all the difficulties with this recipe and the cakes not releasing, I’d still make it again and that probably says a lot since we had tears and all. It’s delicious….and rummy ☺.

Ingredients

  • For the homemade pudding mix:
    • ⅓ cup nonfat dry milk powder
    • ⅓ cup cornstarch
    • ¼ cup, plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
    • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • For the rest of the cake:
    • 1 cup finely crushed pecans (I used a food processor to finely chop the pecans….almost to graham cracker crust like consistency.)
    • 1½ cups plus 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
    • 1 stick unsalted butter
    • 3 tablespoons plus ½ cup olive oil
    • 1¾ cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    • ¼ cup cornstarch
    • 4 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • Your DIY Vanilla Pudding Mix
    • 4 large eggs
    • ¾ cup whole milk (I used 2% mostly with some heavy whipping cream added.)
    • ¾ cup dark rum
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Mix together the ingredients for the pudding mix. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Grease and flour a bundt pan, and sprinkle half of the crushed pecans along the bottom.

In an electric mixer, cream 1½ cups granulated sugar with 1 stick of butter. Add 3 tablespoons of your olive oil. In a separate bowl, whisk together 1¾ cups flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt.

With the mixer on low, add the dry mixture to the butter/sugar mixture. Then add in the pudding mix. Scrape down the sides and then turn on the mixer again to combine evenly. The mixture is very dry and will look like fine crumbs.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, rum, vanilla extract, and remaining ½ cup of olive oil. With the mixer on low, add it to the dry mixture and mix well until combined. Pour into your prepared bundt pan.

Mix the rest of your pecans with the extra tablespoon each of flour and sugar. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the batter.

Bake the cake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes up clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 20-30 minutes, then invert onto your serving platter. (LET THE CAKE COOL IN THE PAN OTHERWISE IT WILL STICK LIKE MINE AND YOU’LL LOSE YOUR TOPS!)