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Entries in recipes (677)

Sunday
Dec212014

"The Cake"

I need to tell you about something called The Cake.

Here's the story: my darling one has a handwritten book of family recipes, and one is definitely more captivating than any others, because its name is simple, mysterious, and a bit imperious...

It has a credit of Claire Goddard. I have never had the pleasure of meeting Claire, but based on her cake, I'm pretty sure I would like her. 

This cake is pretty, but perhaps not exceptional to look at: it just looks like a pleasant cake baked in a doughnut shape.

But one bite will tell you that there is something special about the cake. It's rich, probably owing to the high amount of eggs, and it is a bit tipsy, owing to the whopping 3/4 cup sherry (or rum, thankyouverymuch). It also has that certain addictive quality that boxed yellow cake always seems to impart on a cake (evidence: gooey butter cake). It's the sort of cake that doesn't need frosting...

but hey, why not?

Even in spite of the above selling points, I'm not sure how exactly to explain the pleasure of The Cake. It isn't the fanciest dessert you've ever had, but it's got star quality--a certain je ne sais quoi that you can't quite put your finger on, but you're drawn to nonetheless.

The Cake is worth your time--I promise. A little treasure from my family's memory box to yours.

"The Cake"

Slightly adapted from Claire Goddard

Note: the original recipe calls for 3/4 cup vegetable oil; we used part coconut oil. You can use 3/4 cup vegetable oil if you prefer.

  • Serves 6-8 
  • Prep: 10 minutes
  • Baking time: 45-50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 package vanilla instant pudding
  • 4 unbeaten eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil plus 1 tablespoon 
  • 3/4 cup sherry or rum
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups buttercream frosting, for topping (optional but suggested)

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube or bundt pan; set to the side.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed for 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a greased tube pan (we used a bundt pan). 
  4. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Let cool for about 20 minutes before inverting on to a serving rack. Serve as-is, or covered with frosting (that is my suggestion) or with ice cream. 

Do you have any mysterious family recipes?

Saturday
Dec202014

Stacked Cinnamon Roll Christmas Tree

When Pillsbury sent me their latest grouping of seasonal recipes, I knew I had to share this one. It's so cute, and it's composed of cinnamon rolls. I mean, I don't see any other necessary components to make this awesome.

This recipe is courtesy of Pillsbury - check out their other holiday ideas. Enjoy!

Cinnamon Roll Christmas Tree

Ingredients

  • 1 can (12.4 oz) pillsbury refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing
  • 1/2 teaspoon colored sugar

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Spray large cookie sheet with cooking spray. Separate dough into 8 rolls. Use kitchen scissors or knife to cut each roll into 4 pieces.
  2. Shape each piece into small ball, and place on cookie sheet. Place 10 balls in a single layer, clustered and touching together to form a round disk shape. Continue with a formation of 8 balls, then 6 balls, then 4 balls, 3 balls and finally a single ball. There will be a total of 6 disks (including the single ball), which will form the layers of the tree after baking.
  3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until browned. Cool on cookie sheet 2 minutes. Meanwhile, transfer icing to microwavable liquid measuring cup. Microwave uncovered on High 10 to 15 seconds or until pourable.
  4. Use large, flat spatula to transfer largest disk to serving platter or cake plate. Drizzle with small amount of icing, then top with next largest disk. Drizzle with small amount of icing. Continue with remaining disks, ending with single ball. Drizzle remaining icing over tree. After drizzling, immediately sprinkle with colored sugar.

What's your favorite holiday breakfast?

Thursday
Dec182014

Chocolate Babka is the Best Thing Ever

RECIPE HERE!

The best thing ever? Cake that masquerades as "breakfast bread". And my new favorite? Babka. Chocolate babka, to be specific.

Chocolate babka first entered my consciousness when it was the subject of a Seinfeld episode. It wasn't until a couple years later, when I lived in New York City, that I tried the stuff--from Zabar's, naturally. 

I'll tell you how I felt about babka: I liked it. 

Babka makes for sweet eating: a lightly sweetened yeast bread with a feathery texture which is weighted down to seriously sweet territory with an inner swirl of dark chocolate. It makes for an addictive combination, let me tell you. 

Apparently, the babka we eat stateside is a bit different from "the original", you know, from the old country. I'm willing to believe that one is good, too, but I am pretty sure I'd still prefer the American version, stuffed with chocolate. 

When I paired up with Colavita to make some recipes for their website using their olive oils, I was super-psyched to try out babka sans butter. I have to say, the olive oil works tremendously in this recipe--it has a smooth, lightly fruit-like flavor that brings out the best parts of the bread and chocolate, marrying them in the most delicious way. 

To read more about babka, check out the post on the Colavita blog. And here is my awesome babka recipe.

Thursday
Dec182014

Pleasuretown: Chocolate Filled Cookies 

What's better than cookies? Cookies filled with chocolate. Recipe here.

Wednesday
Dec172014

Breakfast is Served: Panettone French Toast

There are some people who make the most ridiculous claim. This is it: "I forget to eat breakfast".

I, personally, have never in my life forgotten to eat breakfast. There have been maybe a handful of times when I didn't eat breakfast for various reasons, but never because I forgot.

I love breakfast--it's one of the best parts of the day for me. So when I got sent a big ol' box of panettone in the mail from Bauli as part of their #BauliBakeOff event, I immediately began to think of ways to breakfast-ize it. 

I decided to stay really simple and make panettone French toast. This is fusion at its best: Italian meets French, Christmas meets brunch. The absorbent, fluffy bread soaks up the milk and egg mixture like a pro, and fries up toasty on the edges, and custard-y on the inside. It is so good, I can ignore the vaguely fruitcake-esque characteristics of the panettone which, on lesser days, can irritate me. 

This is a simple recipe, but very delicious. I sliced the panettone into huge coins, so it makes for a fun presentation, too, with each serving about the size of a salad plate! 

Panettone French toast

Makes 4 very generous servings

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated or brown sugar
  • 1 panettone di Milano (you'll use about half of it)
  • maple syrup, for serving (optional)

Procedure

  1. Combine the first five ingredients (everything but the bread) in a large, flat vessel such as a pie plate or a 9x9-inch baking pan. Whisk together until combined.
  2. Slice the panettone into nearly inch-thick slices, like coins, starting from the top. 
  3. Place the first slice in the soaking mixture, and let it soak for 20-30 seconds. Flip it and let it soak on the second side.
  4. Place a frying pan large enough to accomodate the large slices on a burner. Turn the heat on high, and melt a generous knob of butter in the pan. Once it's sizzly, place the soaked slice on the burner. Immediately reduce the heat to medium. Fry on one side until golden and toasty (about 2 minutes on my stovetop) and then flip and repeat on the second side.
  5. While the first slice fries, soak the second slice. Make yourself a little assembly line so that while one slice fries, you are soaking the slice on deck.
  6. Serve immediately. This tastes great with maple syrup.

What's your favorite "alternative" carb for French toast?

Tuesday
Dec162014

Best-Ever: Peanut Butter Filled Cookies

We love to stuff. We stuff our stockings. We stuff our bras (or at least we did when we were 13). Why not stuff our cookies?

These cookies--and yes, it brings me a shiver of joy to say it--are stuffed with peanut butter. Delicious, creamy, dreamy, peanut butter. This means that when you grab one of these cookies, you're already excited, I mean, cookie! right? But then, when you bite into it, you find that the crumbly exterior gives way to a soft and gooey peanut buttery center. And that is the point which, in some sort of sweet and slightly salty and rich and peanut buttery bliss, you think "it would be OK if I died right now, because I've had this moment". 

Stuffed cookies

Am I talking them up too much? Go ahead, find out for yourself. Here's the recipe. 

Stuffed cookies

Peanut butter filled cookies

Makes about 20 cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 jar peanut butter (I used Mighty Maple peanut butter by Peanut Butter and Company) (you won't use quite the whole thing)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed. Once nice and creamy, add the sugar and beat for 3-5 minutes; it will become somewhat fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract, mixing until combined. Pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again to ensure everything is mixed in.
  4. Add the flour mixture in 2-3 increments, mixing at low speed after each addition until combined, and pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl with each addition. The mixture will come together to form a soft, malleable dough.
  5. Pull a piece of dough, about 2 tablespoons worth, from the bowl. Form a 2-3 inch flat but fairly thick, circle of dough (you can do this one at a time, or make all of your rounds and then proceed).
  6. Stuffed cookies
  7. Place a spoonful of peanut butter on top of the circle of dough. Pull the sides of the dough over the filling to form a soft dome, making sure the dough is covering the peanut butter on all sides (it can melt through if not--you might overload the first one but you'll get a handle for the right amount fast). Pinch the top to seal the cookie–it will resemble the shape of a Hershey’s kiss. You can also seal the cookie flat on top, just do make sure it’s sealed.
  8. Stuffed cookies
  9. Place the cookies on the prepared sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart to accommodate slight spreading. Bake for 14-18 minutes, or until with a dull finish on top (a golden touch on top is fine, but don’t let them get completely golden or browned). Let them cool on the pans.If desired, dust with confectioners’ sugar. Once they have set for about 10 minutes, you can serve. Keep stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
  10.  Stuffed cookiesStuffed cookies

Have you ever made stuffed cookies?

Monday
Dec152014

Cornmeal Pecan Cookies Recipe

Cornmeal pecan cookies

It's been proven time and time again in my life: cornmeal in cookies is a Very Good Idea.

By "time and time again" I mean every time I go to a bakery that has cornmeal-containing cookies. Momofuku Milk Bar and Amy's Bread in NYC are two places I can suggest reliably fantastic cornmeal cookies. They're not the only bakeries that sell cornmeal cookies; in fact, I can't think of a time I haven't enjoyed a cornmeal cookie that I purchased.

Cornmeal pecan cookies

I have made cornmeal cookie bars before, too. Were they ever good. 

In my opinion, the success factors are as follows: the corn-ishness adds a natural sweetness that is a pleasant departure from just sugar-sweetness, and the pleasingly slight gritty texture adds intrigue.

I know I'm not the only cornmeal cookie fan out there, so it's very likely that this recipe will be a welcome addition to many a corn cookie lover's repertoire. These corn cookies have a leg up on most because in addition to sweet cornmeal, they also include pecans, which makes them a touch crunchy. And I don't know why I haven't rhapsodized about the combo of pecan and corn before--united by a buttery front, these are twin quasars of awesome in every bite of these cookies. I want to make cornbread with pecans now! Corn and pecan everything!

I served the cookies with a side of coconut oil chocolate dipping sauce. It was a very good decision. 

Cornmeal pecan cookies

Oh, and it's also a good cookie recipe to use up egg yolks if you've been making meringues or another recipe that only contains whites! 

Cornmeal Pecan Cookies

Makes about 40

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment.
  2. In a large-ish bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt together. Set to the side.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar until nice and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix until blended, about 1 minute.
  4. Reduce speed to low, and mix the flour in, until just incorporated. Fold in the nuts.
  5. Scoop out heaping tablespoonfuls of dough, and form into balls. Place on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart. 
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned on the edges and set in the center. Let cool on the racks for about five minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. If desired, dust with confectioners' sugar. These cookies will keep for a couple of weeks in a sealed container at room temperature, or up to several months in the freezer.

Do you like cornmeal cookies?

Saturday
Dec132014

How to Make Ganache with Cocoa Powder

News flash: you can make ganache with cocoa powder.

I'll level with you: sometimes I am lazy. Like, when I want to whip up some ganache right this instant and I already have cream warming and I realize that I don't have any baking chocolate. This is not the moment that I really feel like up and going to the grocery store. This is the moment I wonder: "Can I do this thing with cocoa powder instead of chopped chocolate?". And inside, I am praying. Please, let this work.

Many times, this type of experimentation only ends in frustration and possibly tears. But this time, it worked. The first time I did it, it came out slightly lumpy; the second time, I sifted the cocoa powder first, and it came out fine. Overall: a success. And even better: it tastes great.

Recipe notes

JPHOTO-2012-07-31-8174.jpg

Photo via Flickr member cart_wheels

  • It is very important that you sift your cocoa powder before mixing it with the cream. Otherwise you may have lumps in the finished ganache. It will still taste good, though.
  • You can use unsweetened or Dutch processed cocoa for this recipe.
  • I like this ganache better with a little coffee, sugar, salt, and vanilla. You can omit or adjust these if you like. 
  • Let this mixture sit for a good spell if you're using it to top a cake. It will thicken as it cools. 

Ganache made with cocoa powder

Makes enough to fully coat a 9-inch cake, 1 1/2 cups or so

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon strong brewed coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 

Procedure

  1. In a saucepan, heat the cream, stirring frequently to discourage scorching, until it begins to simmer and seems like it might start boiling any moment (but don't let it boil). 
  2. Remove from heat and whisk in the remaining ingredients until smooth. Let the mixture cool to your desired thickness. It will never become hard, per se, but it will set to a smooth, spreadable consistency.

What's your favorite quick fix substitution?

Thursday
Dec112014

Merriest Christmas: Peanut Butter Snowballs

If you need a little Christmas, right this very minute, then this peanut butter snowball recipe is just the ticket to get you on a one way trip to holiday tastiness. It's also my latest creation for Peanut Butter and Company.

These cookies share the classic shape and crumbly texture of snowballs (also called Russian teacakes, Mexican wedding cakes, Armenian sugar cookies, bullets, and, oddly, moldy mice), but they have a taste that is full of peanut buttery goodness. Using crunchy peanut butter ensures good structure and offers enough bulk that they hold their shape; the lack of eggs and leavener keeps the cookies delicate, and distinctly different in character from the type of peanut butter cookies which are cross-hatched with the tines of a fork.

These cookies are a classic kissed with peanut butter to create a true holiday delight. Truth be told, though, I doubt anyone would turn these away at any time of the year!

Recipe here!

Thursday
Dec112014

The Best Chocolate Coconut Oil Maple Syrup Dipping Sauce

Chocolate coconut sauce and cornmeal cookies

Well, did I intrigue you with the title? I hope so, because this sauce is IT, dudes and dudettes.

What can you dip in chocolate coconut oil maple syrup sauce? Any and everything you can think of. Cookies, ice cream, cake, pie. I haven't tried it with a hamburger and fries yet but I'm pretty sure it would manage to improve that, too. Seriously--this stuff is just that good.

Chocolate coconut sauce and cornmeal cookies

This recipe was included in a preview review copy of a coming-soon novel entitled Criminal Confections (A Chocolate Whisperer Mystery). The book is super cute, exactly the type of mystery-meets-chick lit-meets foodie fiction type of book I read when I am alone (if I'm in public, it's War and Peace or something that makes me look smart, of course). I haven't finished the book so I haven't come to the recipe within the story yet, but it was included on the marketing sheet that came with the book, and I thought it sounded interesting.

Chocolate coconut sauce and cornmeal cookies

This sauce comes together in oh, about two minutes, and offers many delicious rewards. I have been enjoying it as a dipping sauce served alongside cornmeal pecan cookies (I'll post that recipe soon), but like I said, it really does make everything better.

"Hayden Mundy-Moore's Chocolate Butter"

Notes from the author: the keys to this recipe are the coconut oil and pinch of salt. The coconut oil gives the chocolate butter just the right luscious consistency. The salt (flaky sea salt is great if you've got it!) adds complexity. Natural cocoa powder and Dutch-processed cocoa powder both work well in ths recipe. Honey can be substituted for maple syrup, if you prefer.

from Criminal Confections (A Chocolate Whisperer Mystery)

  • 1/4 cup refined coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa power
  • pinch of salt

Melt the coconut oil in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and whisk until smooth. It will become thicker as it cools. Enjoy!

What's your favorite dipping sauce for sweets?

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