Solar Flan

Flan

Being a self-taught cook I sometimes have to remind myself that there are things I don’t know how to do. This week I discovered one of those things was making caramelized sugar. It sounded easy enough on paper: “In a heavy skillet over medium heat, cook and stir sugar until melted and caramel colored.” After making a sticky mess of not one, but two skillets (not to mention the spoons) I was out of both the sugar and the energy to try again. I spent the next couple of days googling “how to caramelize sugar” and learned that the skillet method, also known as the dry method, is difficult to master and that most home cooks use the easier, wet method. If you happen to be an expert candy maker and have mastered the dry method, use that. Otherwise the wet method is the way to go. I even plan on experimenting with caramelizing the sugar in the Sun Oven this way.

This recipe makes eight custards. I baked them in two batches. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could try cross staking the pans and bake them in a single go. In that case the cooking time would be slightly longer.

Sun Oven Caramel Flan

Ingredients

1 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 3/4 cups water

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

In a small, heavy sauce pan over medium heat, mix the sugar with 1/4 cup water, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the mixture to a boil then lower the heat and let simmer, without stirring, until the syrup is amber, 10 to 20 minutes. Pour the syrup into 8 un-greased 6-ounce custard cups, tilting to coat bottoms.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in the water, condensed milk, vanilla, and salt. Pour the mixture into the prepared custard cups. Set the cups in a baking pan. Add 1 inch of hot water to the pan. Bake until set and a knife inserted near the center of one custard comes out clean. Let the custards cool, the cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled. To serve, invert the flans onto serving plates.

Makes 8 servings.

Carrot and Honey Cake

Honey Carrot Cake

Use high quality honey for this tasty snack that goes great with a nice cup of tea.

Sun Baked Honey Carrot Cake

(adapted for the Sun Oven from the National Honey Board)

Ingredients

1/2 cup coconut oil or softened butter

1 cup honey

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2 cups finely grated carrots, (about 6 medium)

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1/4 cup orange juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Grease and flour a bundt pan.

In a large bowl, cream the coconut oil (or butter). Gradually add the honey, beating until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a medium bowl, combine the carrots, raisins, walnuts, orange juice, and vanilla extract; set aside.

In a second large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger, and nutmeg.

Use a silicone spatula to alternately add the dry ingredients and carrot mixture to the creamed mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the Sun Oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges and turn out onto a serving plate.

 

Solar Pound Cake

Sun Oven in WC

This recipe from Martha Stewart is ideal for Sun Oven baking. It makes two, standard-sized loafs, which fit perfectly side-by-side in the cooking chamber, and freezes well. That means you can bake when the sun is shining and still enjoy you cake on a rainy day.

Sun Baked Cream-Cheese Pound Cake

(adapted for the Sun Oven from Martha Stewart’s Cakes)

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature

3 cups sugar

6 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Spray two standard loaf pans with cooking spray; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on high speed to beat the cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each one is added. Add the vanilla. On low speed, add the flour mixture in 2 batches until just combined. Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Tap the pans on the counter and smooth the tops. Bake in the Sun Oven until golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cake comes out with a few crumbs attached, about 1 1/2 hours. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and cool completely on the rack.

To freeze wrap the loaf well in plastic and foil. Will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Muffins and Spice

Orange Spice Muffins

Solar baked muffins make a good grab-and-go breakfast or a marvelous mid-afternoon snack.

Orange Spice Whole Grain Muffins

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup toasted wheat germ

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

2/3 cup milk (2% or whole)

1/3 cup canola or coconut oil

1 large egg, at room temperature

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Line the indentations of two 6-cup muffin tins with paper liners or arrange 12 sturdy muffin sized baking molds in two baking pans.

In a large bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, wheat germ, baking powder, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and zest. In a small bowl beat together the milk, oil, and egg until blended. Stir the milk mixture into the dry ingredients until just moistened. Spoon batter into prepared cups until about two-thirds full. Bake in the Sun Oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 35 minutes. If you pans do not fit side by side in the Sun Oven use a rack to separate them than cross-stack them (the upper pan will bake slightly faster). Cool muffins in the pans on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Sun Oven Peach Cobblers

Peach Melba Cobbler

These single serve cobblers can also be baked in metal mugs, but if you want to store them in the fridge use glass mason jars. Refrigerated, they’ll keep for up to a week. Well, maybe they will in your house; it’s never happened in ours. They make a great portable treat to be enjoyed anywhere.

Peach Melba Cobblers

Ingredients

2 cups frozen peaches, cut into chunks

1/2 cup frozen raspberries

1/2  cup Kodiak Cakes Flapjack mix (or other baking mix)

1 cup sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

Whipped cream for serving

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

Divide the fruit evenly among 4 (1/2-pint) mason jars. In a small bowl, whisk together the baking mix and sugar. Spoon the mixture over the fruit in the jars. Top each cobbler with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Set the Jars in a pot and bake in the Sun Oven until bubbly, 1 t0 1 1/4 hours. Cool in jars on rack. Serve cobblers in the jars with whipped cream. Cover with lids to store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Dulce de Leche in the Sun

Dulce de Leche

This is a slow cooker classic that I’ve adapted for the Sun Oven. In the slow cooker the jars need to be submerged to ensure even cooking, but even cooking is what the Sun Oven is all about so I didn’t worry about finding a pot big enough pot to do so. In fact, next time I might even try with no water at all. It works for hard boiled eggs, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work for this. However, in the meantime I have three jars of dulce de leche on my hands so it might be a while.

Sun Oven Dulce de Leche

Ingredients

2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

Divide the milk evenly among 3 1/2 pint mason jars. Put the lids on the jars and close tightly. Place the jars in a large pot. Add enough hot water to reach the rims, it is not necessary to submerge the jars. Place a lid on the pot and transfer to the Sun Oven. Cook until the milk is golden brown and thick, about 6 hours. Remove the jars from the water and let cool. Refrigerate at least two hours before using; it will continue to thicken as it cools. Store jars in the refrigerator and use within 2 weeks.

 

Upside-Down Solar Baked Cupcakes

Muffin Pan Stack

I’m not much of a baker, no matter what kind of oven I use. However, I’ve learned from experience that as far as cakes go the best results, at least aesthetically speaking, are obtained with cupcakes and upside-down cakes. So why not combine the two?

Pineapple Upside-Down Cupcakes

(adapted for the Sun Oven from Weight Watchers Comfort Classics)

Ingredients

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger*

2 teaspoons unsalted butter

1 (20-ounce) can pineapple chunk, drained

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup 1% milk

3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Spray two 6-cup muffin pans with cooking spray or arrange 12 cupcake sized silicone baking molds two baking pans and spray with cooking spray.

Combine the brown sugar, ginger, and butter in a small sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter melts and the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the pineapple. Spoon the pineapple mixture evenly among the muffin tins or baking molds; set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, milk, coconut oil, egg, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and stir until just blended. Fill the muffin pans or baking molds evenly with the batter. Bake side by side or cross stacked (top layer will cook slightly faster) until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool the cupcakes it the pans on a rack for 10 minutes. To loosen run a knife around the side of the muffin cups or simply pop out of the silicone molds. Remove the cupcakes from the pans or molds and cool upside down (pineapple side up) on racks. Drizzle and extra syrup in the pans or molds over the cupcakes.

*spray your knife with cooking spray to keep the ginger from sticking.

Muffin Tins 1

Single Serving Solar Cheese Cakes

Cheese Cakes

If ever there was an excuse to by some of those cute, colorful silicone cupcake lines this recipe is it. They will make your life so much easier. But if you’re still not convinced, line the tins with a strip of aluminum foil to use as a handle.

Mini Raspberry Amaretto Cheese Cakes

(adapted for the Sun Oven from Weight Watchers In One Pot)

Ingredients

1/2 cup amaretti cookie crumbs (or ginger snaps)

1 tablespoon butter, softened

12 teaspoons raspberry fruit spread

2 (8-ounce) packages Neufchâtel cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg white

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Line two 6-cup muffin tins with silicone baking molds or spray with cooking spray and line each cup with a 2 x 6-inch strip of foil, allowing the foil to extend above the rim.

In a small bowl, mix together the cookie crumbs and the butter until well combined. Press 2 teaspoons of the mixture onto the bottom of each cup; refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Spread 1 teaspoon of the fruit spread over the crumb mixture in each cup. Keep refrigerated while preparing the filling.

Put the cheese in a medium bowl and use an electric mixture to beat until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until fluffy, about 2 more minutes. Beat in the egg, egg white, zest, and vanilla extract. Divide the cheese filling evenly among the cups. Bake in the Sun Oven until the edges are set and the centers jiggle slightly, about 30 minutes. If the pans do not fit side by side use a rack to separate them and cross stack them in the cooking chamber; the top pan will cook slightly faster. Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Cove with foil refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 4 hours and up to 2 days. Pop cheese cakes out of the molds or us the foil to lift them from the pans.

 

Sun Baked Apple Topping

Cinnamon Apples

These baked apples are easy to prepare and can be enjoyed on their own as a dessert. They also make a great topping for ice-cream or mix-in for oatmeal. And It’s a good way to make use of any excess apples you might have on hand.

Solar Baked Cinnamon Apples

Ingredients

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

the juice of 1 lemon

6 apples (about 2 pounds) peeled, cored, and cut into chunks

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

In a glass or ceramic baking dish, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Add the apple chunks and toss to coat evenly. Cover with aluminum foil and a dark kitchen towel and transfer to the Sun Oven. Cook until the apples are soft, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Serve warm or at room temperature. Can be stored in the refrigerator in airtight containers for up to 5 days.

 

Solar Baked Apple Sauce

Baked Apple Sauce

Apples are at their peak this time of year so you may not need a lot of sugar to sweeten this sauce. Use it as a topping for oatmeal, pancakes, or ice-cream. It’s also good on its own.

Sun Baked Apple Topping

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds baking apples, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks

2 tablespoons brown sugar (or to taste)

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch salt (optional)

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

Spray a medium sized pot with cooking spray. Add the apples. Cover and cook in the Sun Oven until the apples are soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from Sun Oven. Use a fork to coarsely mash the apples. Stir in the sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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