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Cooking with 'Friends': Sandra Lee's Mother's Day Brunch

DATE TOFFEE COFFEE CAKE
Makes 10-12 servings
Ingredients:
1 package coffee cake mix
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 c. sour cream, room temperature
1 package dates, coarsely chopped
1 c. walnuts, chopped

PECANS STREUSEL TOPPING
Ingredients:

1 pouch Pecan Streusel Topping
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 pouch Cinnamon Swirl Filling
2 Heath Bars, finely chopped
¼ c. walnuts, chopped

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray an 8” square pan or 8” round pan with nonstick cooking spray.
To make the Pecan Streusel Topping: Empty topping and Heath Bars into a small bowl. Melt the unsalted butter and pour over the walnuts.  Use a fork (or a very clean hand) to work the melted butter mixture into the topping until moist clumps form. Set aside.

To make the cake: Chop the dates and walnuts. In a bowl, lightly whisk the eggs. Whisk the eight tablespoons melted butter until the mixture starts to thicken slightly.
Sprinkle ⅓ of cake mix over the mixture and whisk until just smooth.  Gently whisk in half the sour cream.  Sprinkle another ⅓ of the cake mix over the batter, followed by the remaining sour cream, followed by the remaining cake mix – whisking gently after each addition.  Gently fold in the dates and walnuts to the mixture. Scrape down to ensure the batter is well combined.
Using an offset spatula, spread two-thirds of the batter into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle the dry cinnamon swirl filling evenly over the batter, then carefully spread the remaining batter over the top, covering all of the filling.  Sprinkle the streusel topping over the batter.
Bake the coffee cake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes, rotating the pan 180° halfway through the cooking.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the coffee cake cool for at least 30 minutes before serving
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CHOCOLATE ON CHOCOLATE FLUFF CUPCAKES
Makes 16-20 cupcakes
Ingredients:
1 package Dark Chocolate Cake Mix
2 large eggs, room temperature
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 tbsp. sour cream
2 tbsp. chocolate milk

CHOCOLATE FLUFF FROSTING
Instructions:

1 packet Chocolate Frosting Mix
1 package Marshmallow Fluff
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tbsp. chocolate milk, plus more if needed

Instructions:
To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350°F and line the cupcake tin with paper liners.
Melt 6 tablespoons of butter and allow to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs until blended. Whisk in melted butter until the mixture is slightly thickened. Blend in the sour cream until smooth. Carefully whisk in half of the dry cake mix, then gently stir in chocolate milk until smooth. Stir the rest of the cake mix. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tin
Bake 12-14 minutes.  Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Carefully remove from pans and allow to cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting: Cream butter in mixing bowl until smooth. Add chocolate frosting mix plus 2 tablespoons of chocolate milk.  Beat on low speed until fully creamed. Fold in marshmallow fluff until completely combined and frosting is creamy and smooth

Tip: If frosting is too stiff, add more chocolate milk, 1 teaspoons at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
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CHOCOLATE-COVERED BACON
Instructions:

1 lb. thick cut bacon
12 oz. Guittard Organic Milk Chocolate Baking Wafers
12 oz. Guittard Organic Dark Chocolate Baking Wafers

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Place bacon on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a half sheet pan fitted with a cooling rack. Bake in the oven until bacon is cooked (15 minutes for soft bacon, 20 minutes for crispy bacon). Let bacon cool on the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
Meanwhile set up a double boiler by heating a large saucepan filled with water over high heat until boiling. Reduce heat to a simmer. Set a heatproof bowl over the simmering water. Add milk chocolate and stir with a rubber spatula occasionally until smooth and completely melted. Remove bowl and set aside. Add a second heat-proof bowl over the simmering water. Repeat process with dark chocolate
Cover another baking sheet with parchment paper. Using tongs, carefully dip half the bacon into the melted milk chocolate turning to coat all sides in chocolate. Transfer to the clean sheet of waiting parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining slices of bacon, dipping them in the melted dark chocolate.
Reserve a few slices of bacon, crumble them, and sprinkle them atop the dipped bacon pieces.
Let chocolate set at room temperature or refrigerate until chocolate is hard.
Consume within a few days.

Classic Kentucky Derby Dishes to Make for the Big Race

CHEF VIRGINIA WILLIS' LIGHTENED-UP PIMENTO CHEESE
as seen in "Lighten Up, Y'all"
Makes about 2 cups to serve 16
Ingredients:
4 oz. extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, freshly grated (about 1 cup)
4 oz. light Cheddar cheese, freshly grated (about 1 cup)
1 sweet onion, grated
1 tbsp. light mayonnaise
1 tbsp. 2% plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp. chopped pimientos, drained
Hot sauce
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Japanese or English cucumbers, for accompaniment

Instructions:
To make the pimento cheese, combine the cheeses, onion, mayonnaise, and yogurt in a bowl. Stir until well combined. Add the pimientos and hot sauce to taste. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Cut the cucumbers into 1-inch-thick rounds, discarding the ends, but leaving the skin on.
Using a small spoon or melon baller, scoop the seeds and some of the flesh out of each round (be careful not to go all the way through) to form a small cup.
To serve, fill each cup with about 1 teaspoon of the pimiento cheese. Serve immediately.

Serving Note: It is traditionally served cradled in the curve of a celery stick. You can also employ bite-
size cucumber cups, cored cherry tomatoes, or even slices of radish.
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CHEF VIRGINIA WILLIS' BUTTERMILK BISCUITS
Makes about 9 biscuits
Ingredients:
2 c. White Lily or other Southern all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. fine sea salt
4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into bits and chilled
¾ to 1 c. buttermilk

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 500°F.
In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry cutter  or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Pour in the buttermilk, and gently mix until just combined.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly, using the heel of your hand to compress  and push the dough away from you, then fold it back over itself. Give the dough a small turn and repeat  8 or so times. (It’s not yeast bread; you want to just barely activate the gluten, not overwork it.)
Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out ½” thick. Cut out rounds of dough with a 2¼” round cutter dipped in flour; press the cutter straight down without twisting so the biscuits will rise evenly when baked.
Place the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet or in an 8” x 2” round cake pan. If the biscuits are baked close together the sides will be moist. If the biscuits are baked further apart, the sides will be crisp.
Bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool just slightly. Serve warm.
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Reprinted with Permission from VirginiaWillis.com
 

Honor military moms with a Mother's Day cake!

We're asking viewers to nominate the mother of someone in the military.

Click here to send us an email about a military mom that you believe has been an exceptional example of patriotism. Please add your contact info and where we can send a cake to your nominee, or "mom-inee."

Bake Me A Wish, which is generously donating delicious cakes, will pick which mother deserves a treat, and will surprise them with a Mother's Day cake. 

Cooking with 'Friends': Griff Jenkins' Dry Rub Ribs

Growing up in Tennessee, Griff Jenkins is no stranger to perfect ribs. Keeping to his southern roots, he makes Rendezvous' famed dry rub ribs every Christmas Eve!

RENDEVOUS' DRY RUB RIBS


For the ribs:
4 racks of baby back ribs (8 to 10 pounds)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the finishing rub:
3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper


For the mop sauce:
1 cup water
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons rub (reserved from above)


Step 1: Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to medium low. Ideally, you’ll be using a charcoal grill stoked with Royal Oak natural charcoal.


Step 2: Place a rack of ribs meat side down on a baking sheet. Remove the thin, papery membrane from the back of the rack by inserting a slender implement, such as a butter knife or the tip of a meat thermometer, under it. The best place to start is on one of the middle bones. Using a dishcloth, paper towel, or pliers to gain a secure grip, peel off the membrane. Repeat with the remaining rack.


Step 3: Generously season the ribs with salt and pepper. Arrange the ribs on the grill grate, bone side down, and grill until sizzling and golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Turn the ribs and grill meat side down until sizzling and golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes more. The dripping fat may cause flare-ups — if this happens, move the ribs to another spot on the grate to let them die down.


Step 4: Meanwhile, make the rub. Place the spices and seasonings in a bowl and stir to mix. Note: this may give you more rub than you need — don’t worry, you’ll find plenty of other uses for it.


Step 5: Make the mop sauce. Place the water, vinegar, salt, and rub in a bowl and whisk until the salt crystals are dissolved.


Step 6: When the ribs are cooked, transfer them to a cutting board. Generously brush or mop the ribs on both sides with mop sauce. Thickly sprinkle the meat side with rub to form a 1/8th inch thick crust. Cut each slab in half (or serve whole), with any remaining rub on the side.

Cooking with 'Friends': Carley Shimkus' Apple Cake

CARLEY SHIMKUS’ GRANDMA’S APPLE CAKE
Ingredients:

3 eggs
1½ c. sugar
2 c. flour
1¼ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
¾ c. canola oil
4 c. granny smith apples
1 c. chopped walnuts

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Peel and dice apples.
In a medium bowl, beat eggs and sugar at high speed for 4-5 minutes or until firm.
Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Add to egg and sugar mixture. Add oil and mix at medium speed until smooth. Fold in apples and nuts. Note that the batter will be thick.
Spread batter in ungreased 13”x9” pan.
Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour.