Butterscotch pudding pie

Butterscotch Pudding Pie
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 1/2 cups whole milk
3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons whiskey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 9-inch pie crust (homemade or store bought)
1/4 cup finely chopped semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1.4-oz. Heath candy bar, finely chopped
Make pudding: Melt butter in a pan over medium heat, stir in dark brown sugar and salt and cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes. Remove from heat. In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch and 1/2 cup milk until smooth, then whisk in egg yolks.

Whisk remaining milk into brown sugar mixture, then whisk in cornstarch mixture. Return pan to medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking often. Reduce heat to low; simmer, whisking constantly, until pudding thickens slightly, about 1 minute (it will thicken more as it chills). Remove from heat; stir in whiskey and vanilla. Transfer to bowl; cover with plastic wrap, pressing wrap directly onto surface of pudding. Chill at least 8 hours or overnight.

Make pie: Preheat oven to 375°F. Line interior of crust with parchment; fill with dried beans or pie weights, pushing beans or weights up against sides of parchment. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove parchment and weights, prick crust all over with a fork and bake until crust is deep golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Sprinkle chocolate in crust, let melt, then spread in a thin layer. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.

Assemble pie: With an electric mixer at medium speed, beat cream with sugar and vanilla until it holds stiff peaks. Spoon pudding into crust, top with whipped cream, and garnish with chopped Heath bar. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Nicolette's Very good Cobbler!

Peach Cobbler

Cobbler filling:
4 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches (blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds to remove the skins)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon flour

Cobbler crust:
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon brown sugar, for topping
Whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Generously butter a 1 1/2-quart shallow baking dish. Place the sliced peaches in the dish and sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and flour. Mix gently and spread evenly again. Bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile combine all dry ingredients for cobbler crust in a bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or your fingers, to make the texture like coarse crumbs. Add buttermilk and stir to form a soft dough.

Remove fruit from oven and drop rounded spoonfuls of dough on top. Sprinkle with last tablespoon of brown sugar and return to oven. Bake until fruit is bubbly and crust topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream.

Coconut Cake

Servings: Makes 1 (3-layer) cake
Fresh Coconut Cake is the very essence of the holiday season. Serving this very special cake for your Kwanzaa, Christmas or Hanukkah dessert will bring you many complements and requests for the recipe.

If you can't find fresh coconut at your local market, use packaged shredded coconut instead. Your cake will still taste delicious.

For Cake:
1 cup (2 sticks/8oz./226g) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

For Coconut Syrup:
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup fresh coconut milk

Boiled Frosting
(see ingredients and instructions below)

Extra Ingredients for Filling and Garnish:
2 to 3 cups fresh shredded coconut, (sprinkled over filling, and for tops and sides of cake after frosting)

For Cake:
1. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add 2 cups sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.

2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in flavorings. Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans.

3. Bake at 350 degrees F/180 degrees C for 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool on wire racks.

For Coconut Syrup and Frosting:
4. Combine 2 tablespoons sugar and coconut milk. Microwave on HIGH 30 seconds; stir until sugar dissolves. Brush 1 cake layer with half of coconut milk mixture, leaving a 1/2-inch margin around edges. Spread with 1 cup Boiled Frosting (ingredients and instructions for Boiled Frosting follow), and sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded coconut. Top with second cake layer, and repeat procedure. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting on top and sides of cake; sprinkle with remaining coconut.

Makes a 9-inch round 3-layer cake.

Note: Cover and chill cake for easy slicing.

Boiled Frosting

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
4 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 large marshmallows, cut into small pieces

1. Combine sugar and water in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is clear. Cook, without stirring, until syrup reaches soft ball stage or candy thermometer registers 240 degrees F/115 degrees C.

2. While syrup cooks, beat egg whites at low speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt; beat at medium speed until soft peaks form. Increase to high speed, and add hot syrup in a heavy stream. Add marshmallows, a few pieces at a time. Beat until stiff peaks form and frosting is thick enough to spread.

Makes 7 cups frosting

Tips for Cracking Coconut

Heres how to open, clean, and shred fresh coconut. One coconut should yield enough meat and milk for this cake. Working over a pan or bowl, strike coconut with a hammer several times until coconut cracks in half. Strain coconut milk through a fine sieve, and set milk aside.

Place coconut halves in a heavy-duty zip-top bag; seal. Strike with hammer to get several small pieces. Separate outer shell from meat with a dull knife (an oyster knife works well). Carefully cut away thin brown skin with a paring knife or vegetable peeler.

Rinse coconut meat. Shred coconut in a food processor, using the fine shredder disk. Tightly pack chunks of coconut in food chute and shred, using firm pressure. Otherwise, you can use the largest holes of a box grater to shred coconut, just watch your knuckles.

Niki's Carrot Raisin Salad

Carrot & Raisin salad

2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup raisins
1 teaspoon grated onion, optional

Combine carrots and raisins in a bowl. Add grated onion and moisten with mayonnaise serve on lettuce.
Serves 6.