Monthly Archives: August 2012

Eggplant Pizza

A couple of weeks ago bloggers and food shows celebrated what would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday.  I may not be the biggest cook of french food or large meals, but I greatly appreciate and admire any woman who does what she loves and can throw a fabulous dinner party!  Julia is the embodiedment of what it means to have a passion for food.

This recipe caught my eye because it’s easy!  Can I make pizza out of eggplant?  Absolutely!  It’s been several months since I’ve cooked a real, multiple course dinner and I was itching to do so.  I invited my friend Kristin over, who, by the way, named this blog Pale Yellow!  The idea of a vegetable and cheese laden meal sounded healthful and decadent all at the same time!

I served the eggplant pizzas with cheesy garlic cauliflower “bread,” a simple strawberry spinach salad with pistachios, and peach sorbet bellinis.  We ate outside on a beautiful, late summer evening.  It’s a moment like that that helps you to remember how awesome and amazing your life really is!

Not only were the pizzas themselves pretty easy tasty, the smells are amazing!  Both Ruth and Kristin walked into the apartment commenting on how delicious it smelled inside.  Is there really anything better then the smell of sautéing garlic and herbs?  The eggplant is soft and well seasoned, the sauce is outstanding and full of flavor, and the cheese is a mess of melty wonders!  This dinner is a keeper!

Print the Recipe!

Eggplant Pizza
Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Yield – 4 servings (2-3 eggplant rounds each)

1 8-9 inch eggplant
Kosher salt
olive oil
2 + 1/2 teaspoons Italian herb mix
3 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/3 cup freshly grated mozzarella

  1. Slice the eggplant into 3/4″ slices.  Place on a paper towel on a wire rack.  Sprinkle generously with salt and then rub the salt in.  Let sit for about 20 minutes.
  2. Flip the eggplant slices over and sprinkle the other side with salt and rub in.  Again let sit for about 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray liberally with cooking spray.
  4. Thoroughly dry the eggplant to remove any moisture and salt.  Drizzle olive oil on the top of each eggplant slice and rub in with your fingers.  Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the Italian herb mix over the tops of the slices.  Place on the baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, let’s make a sauce.  Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan on the stove.
  6. Finely chop or crush the garlic and add to the heated oil.  Stir often, don’t let the garlic burn.
  7. Add in 1/2 teaspoon of the Italian herb mix and the oregano.  Stir to toast the herbs.
  8. Add in the can of tomatoes and stir to combine.  Keep on low heat and cook until needed.
  9. Grate all of cheese and mix together.
  10. When the eggplant comes out of the oven, top each slice with a generous amount of sauce.  Sprinkle the cheese on top of each slice.
  11. Carefully broil until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly.
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Cheesy Garlic Cauliflower “Bread”

I’m neither a vegetarian or gluten free, but sometimes it is fun to cook that way.  The idea of using cauliflower as a base for pizza has been floating around Pinterest for awhile and I have been curious to try it out myself.  I was making dinner for a few friends and the idea of garlic bread was inciting, and a lower-cal garlic bread sounded even better!

Using cauliflower as a base for garlic cheese bread does not require anymore steps than making a dough from scratch.  The only difference I would make would be to drain the cauliflower of some of it’s liquid to create a dryer dough.  The edges became nice and crispy, but I wish the middle was crispier.  The flavor is fantastic!  There is a strong garlic flavor and plenty of cheesy goodness.

Print the Recipe!

Cheesy Garlic Cauliflower “Bread”
Adapted from Mom, what’s for dinner?
Yields – 3-4 servings

1 small cauliflower (only need 1 cup of pureed cauliflower)
1/2 + 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 + 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cloves garlic, smashed or finely diced
olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
salt and pepper
marinara sauce for dipping

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F.
  2. Cut the cauliflower into small pieces.  Steam for about 15 minutes until fork tender.
  3. Use a food processor or ricer or immersion blender to puree the cauliflower, discard any chunks.  Squeeze out any excess moisture.
  4. Shred all your cheese!
  5. Add 1 cup of the pureed cauliflower into a bowl with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, the egg, oregano, salt, and pepper.  Use a fork to thoroughly mix together.
  6. Rub a baking stone with olive oil and lay a sheet of parchment paper on top, oil the parchment paper as well.  Pour on the cauliflower mix.
  7. Use your hands to pat the cauliflower dough into a rectangle on the parchment paper.  Try to make the crust as even as possible.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crispy.  I had to check several times.
  9. Meanwhile, mash together the butter and the two remaining cloves of garlic with some salt and pepper.
  10. Smear the garlic butter on top of the hot crust and then sprinkle with 1/4 cup of each cheese.
  11. Bake for another 5-6 minutes, but watch closely!  You want the cheese to be bubbly and golden brown, not burnt.
  12. Cut into slices and served with sauce if desired.  These are great room temperature as well as hot!

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Funfetti Cookies

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of everyone talking about the end of summer.  Summer isn’t over until the end September and according to my calendar, that is still a month away!  And, enough with the back-to-school already!  I spent my weekend working on my tan.  It’s still summer and these cookies scream summer.

Last time I made cookies for a BBQ/party I felt like there weren’t enough cookies.  I mean everyone had a cookie, there just weren’t any left overs.  As a result of my Midwest upbringing, I feel that if there are not leftovers (lots of leftovers), there was not enough!  So this time, I made a LOT of cookies and everyone could have one, two, or even a pocketful!

These cookies had rave reviews!  It could have been the copious amounts of alcohol talking, but I wouldn’t discount everything that was being said.  Funfetti cookies ARE pretty darn fantastic.

At its heart, this a is a simple, moist, and tender sugar cookie with a lot of flair.  The sprinkles don’t add a lot of flavor, but they add a lot of joy and delight.  Imagine the possibilities of customizing these cookies for holidays or in your favorite team colors for the big game – make these cookies work for you!  Overall, this a fun, simple, and great tasting cookie that looks like a lot more work than it.  No worries, I’ll keep your secret safe.

Print the Recipe!

Funfetti Cookies
Adapted from Two Piece and Their Pod via Tasty Kitchen
Yield – 55 (2 tablespoon) cookies

1 1/2 (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
3 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons corn starch
1 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4-1 cup assorted sprinkles

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until pale yellow, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the egg, the yolk, and the vanilla until well combined.
  3. Whisk together the flour, corn starch, soda, and salt in separate bowl.  Slowly incorporate into the wet ingredients on the lowest speed.
  4. Add in the sprinkles and mix until just combined.
  5. Use a 2-tablespoon scoop to portion the dough.
  6. Bake 15 minutes or until the cookie is set.  Don’t wait for the cookie to brown.
  7. Slam each cookie sheet on the counter and transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.

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Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Some days you have plans to go on a run and then it rains.  And not just a little sprinkle, like a summer storm with thunder and lightning.  What’s a girl to do?  I could do one of the many pilates DVD’s laying around the apartment or do one of the many exercise apps I have on the iPad or I could make cookies.

I’ll make cookies.

And this is NOT the time to be picky about what type of cookie to bake.  I’m only using ingredients that can be found in the apartment.  If I’m not going outside to run, I’m sure as hell not going outside to the grocery store!  There was a bag of chocolate chips in the cupboard calling my name, so I took a look around the apartment to make sure I have the rest of the ingredients:

butter? – check!

flour? – not a lot, but just enough, check!

brown sugar – not enough light, oh, but I have some dark, it’s going to work!

eggs, baking soda, salt, vanilla, sugar – check, check, check, check, check!!!!!

We’re good to go!  I turned to my trusted Baking Illustrated cookbook, because obviously the Internet goes out when it storms, and looked up the chocolate chip cookie recipe.  There were two choice; thin & crispy or thick & chewy.  Come on?  Is that really a choice?  Only girls that go running in the rain would choose a thin & crispy cookie, I’m thick & chewy and that’s how I like my cookies!

The recipe seemed a little boring, so let’s brown the better.  Done!  After burning my thumb getting the cookies off the tray I decided to wait a few minutes before I indulged.  And indulge I did!  A luscious, thick, and chewy treat for my mouth.  The nuttiness from the butter, the sweet molasses flavor from the dark brown sugar, and the tenderness on my tongue, scrumptious!  Next time it rains, do yourself a favor and bake some delectable cookies.

Print the Recipe!

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield – 14 (1/4 cup cookies)
Adapted from Baking Illustratrated – page 434 – Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

17 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt + more for sprinkling on top
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Melt the butter on the stovetop and allow to bubble and brown.
  2. Whisk together the flour, soda, and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Add all the sugars to a large bowl and pour in the browned butter.  Stir with a wooden spoon to combine thoroughly.
  4. Stir in the egg, the yolk, and the vanilla.
  5. Add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  6. Mix in the chocolate chips.  Use a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop to portion the dough into 14 pieces.
  7. Split each piece of dough in half and smoosh together the smooth sides (jagged sides on top and bottom).  Place 7 cookies per baking sheet and sprinkle the top of each cookie with some Kosher salt.
  8. Bake for 18 minutes.
  9. Let cool on a wire rack or eat warm!

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Sriracha Chicken and Roasted Corn & Red Pepper Farro Salad

Vacation is awesome, reality is not.  After two weeks of eating burgers, ice cream, and white wine, it was time for some healthful, vegetable laden eating!  As I was reading through my epic Google Reader list, I stumbled upon a recipe for farro salad.  This recipe sounded healthful, delicious, and used a new food!

Farro is a grain, sort of liked puff wheat.  You boil the farro like pasta and use as you would a couscous or quinoa.  If you want to learn more about farro, go here!  Sriracha is a sauce that is EVERYWHERE and I have been hesitant to use it, I’m not really a spicy girl!  It just looks so cool and I want to be cool!

Using the sriracha as a marinade provided a huge flavor boost for plain chicken.  I still found the chicken a little spicy, but totally manageable and very flavorful.  If I had a cooling, yogurt-based sauce, the chicken would be outstanding!  The farro salad was refreshing and super summery.  The roasted corn and red peppers were sweet and just a bit crunchy.  The onion added more crunch and cilantro is the right herb to accent the other flavors.  I really liked the chewiness of the farro and this salad provides a much needed divergence from typical summer salads.  And, this salad lasted a week in the fridge and it was still tasty!

Print the Recipe!

Sriracha Chicken
Yield – 5 servings

1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon Italian herb mix
good pinch of Kosher salt
1 pound boneless, skinless, chicken breasts

  1. Place the first 4 ingredients in a gallon size plastic bag.  Add in the chicken and squeeze to mix and cover the chicken.  Set on the counter for about half an hour.
  2. Preheat your grill pan and liberally spray with cooking spray.
  3. Place the chicken on the grill and cook on one side for about 10 minutes and flip over and cook for another 8 minutes.  Check with a knife to make sure the chicken is cooked all the way through.

Roasted Corn & Red Pepper Farro Salad
Adapted from Alexandra’s Kitchen
Yield – 5-6 large servings

2 ears of corn
2 red bell peppers
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
1 cup farro
1 bunch cilantro
1 red onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper

  1. Preheat the oven 450 F and set a pot of water on the stove to boil.
  2. Cover a baking pan in foil and spray with cooking spray.
  3. Cut the corn kernels off the ears of corn and chop the red peppers to the size of the kernels of corn.
  4. Toss the corn and peppers on the baking sheet with a liberal dosage of salt, black pepper, and olive oil.
  5. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until the corn is roasted and the peppers are soft.
  6. Add the farro to the boiling water with a big pinch of salt.  Cook for 15 minutes or until the farro is al dente.
  7. Chop the cilantro and red onion and add to a large bowl.
  8. When the farro is cooked, drain and add to the cilantro and red onion.
  9. Squeeze the juice of a lemon over the farro and add the olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Toss to combine.
  10. Add in the roasted corn and peppers.  Taste and add more salt, pepper, or oil as needed.

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Banana Nut Waffles

My parents bought a cottage in Northern Michigan this past spring.  I grew up going up there and staying at my uncle’s cabin, and needless to say, my parents are are thrilled to have their own cottage just down the road.  Now, I used to be an outdoorsy type girl – swimming in lakes, building fires, and running through the woods with my cousins.  I’m kind of a city girl now and I haven’t been up there in at least 10 years.  My mom was persistent that I come up and see the cottage and all of the hard work they had put in.

So I went.  I forgot about all the trees and how the dark the sky gets at night, you can actually see the stars!!!  When up north you do up north things like drink cheap beer at the local joint, build fires, burn sticks in said fire, shoot the old Red Rider BB gun, make s’mores, and cook waffle.  Obviously, you cook waffles!

My parents were given a Belgian waffle maker for the cottage and I couldn’t wait to use it!  I’ve always wanted a waffle maker but it always seemed like an extraneous purchase.  As soon as I heard about the waffle maker I started to look up recipes.   My mom suggested a plain waffle recipe, and I was like, “Do you even know me?  Plain waffles?  I don’t think so!”

I settled on banana nut waffles because they sound moist and delicious and not plain at all!  Because of the limitations of cooking in a cottage I mixed all of the dry ingredients together at my parent’s house.  I also used ingredients I don’t normally use like pancake syrup *gasp* and I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter *gasp, gasp*.  These were still some pretty wonderful waffles!

Because of the bananas, they were nice and moist!  The chocolate chips and nuts added texture and flavor.  These waffles needed a little bit more cooking time because of the bananas, so if you wanted a drier, but not so brown waffle, place them in a warm oven for a few minutes.  Waffles are kind of a lot of work, but a fantastic treat on a lazy, sunny, Sunday!

Print the recipe!

Banana Nut Waffles
Adapted from Shutterbean
Yield 5-6 large Belgian waffles

1 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
2 bananas
2 cups (1 pint) buttermilk
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons syrup
Cooking spray
Bananas, walnuts, chocolate chips, and syrup for garnish

  1. Chop the walnuts nice and small.
  2. In a large plastic bag, add the flour, soda, powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. Add the chocolate chips and walnuts.  Shake and mix the dry ingredients until well combined.  Seal up the bag and save for waffle making!
  4. Preheat your waffle iron.  Mash the bananas well.
  5. Add in the buttermilk, melted butter, and syrup and mix until well combined.
  6. Add your dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined.
  7. Liberally spray your waffle maker with cooking spray.  Pour in enough batter to cover most of the bottom of the waffle maker.  Cook for 5-6 minutes or whatever is necessary for your waffle maker.
  8. Remove from the waffle maker and garnish as desired.
  9. Repeat until you are out of batter. You can keep the cooked waffles in a warm oven until all or made.  Or just eat them as they come off the waffle iron!

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Chocolate Cake with Strawberries and Whipped Cream in Jars

I have seen cakes and desserts in jars all over the blog-o-sphere and Pinterest and it’s finally my turn to take a stab at it!  The adorable-ness factor is huge, as is the portability.  My mom loved the mason jars and she made sure to get them all back.  When I saw mason jars on sale at Target, I knew I was ready to try my hand at desserts in jars!

I sort of cheated here.  This recipe has my favorite chocolate cake recipe I used in the Mint Chocolate Cupcakes.  Even though I gave you a half recipe, I actually made a full recipe, made 12 cupcakes, and poured the rest into pan to bake for these desserts in a jars!  What can I say?  I’m a crafty lady!

These little guys were brought over to share with my brother at his new apartment.  He’s a big boy now and moved out of the parent’s house into his own place!  I’m so proud! It’s weird though because my parents turned his old room into the guest room, so at night I would often turn into my old room, not the room I was sleeping in!  Change is hard.

Desserts in jars are the way to go, I finally understand the hype.  But remember, the jar is just the delivery method, the inside, tasting portion is full of endless possibilities! This recipe is a bit of a riff off of strawberry shortcake but with chocolate cake.  The cake is moist, the strawberries fresh & sweet, and the whipped cream ties everything together.  These cakes lasted an easy four days in the fridge.  If you make 12, the portions are a little skimpy, so as my dad said, just eat 2!

Print the Recipe.

Chocolate Cake with Strawberries & Whipped Cream in a Jar
Yield – 9-12 8 ounce jars
Adapted from Chocolate Cupcakes

3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa, I use Hershey’s Special Dark
3/4 cup sugar
5/8 teaspoon (1/2 +1/8 teaspoon) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons 2% milk
1/3 cup hot water

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Grease and coat a 12×9” pan in shortening and cocoa powder.
  2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, soda, powder, and salt into a large bowl.
  3. Measure the milk and oil.  Add the egg and the vanilla to the mixing glass and beat together with a fork.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined and then scrape down the sides.
  5. Add hot tap water and whisk until the batter is well combined.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted insides comes out clean.
  8. Once cool, cut into 2 inch circles and the crumble the rest.

16 ounces strawberries
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Wash and hull the strawberries.  Slice and place in a bowl.
  2. Sprinkle the sugar over the strawberries and toss lightly.  Refrigerate for at least an hour to macerate the strawberries.
  3. Whip the cream until you reach soft peaks.  Add in the powdered sugar and the vanilla.  Whip until stiff.
  4. Add the whipped cream to the a piping bag.
  5. Set up an assembly line; empty jars, cake rounds, strawberries, whipped cream, and cake crumbles.
  6. Add the chocolate cake rounds to each jar.  Push down with your fingers.
  7. Spoon the strawberries evenly into each jar, add the juice too!
  8. Pipe a layer of whipped cream in each jar.
  9. Top with a sprinkling of cake crumbs.
  10. Pipe a whipped cream star on each.
  11. Screw on the lids and refrigerate until you are ready to enjoy.

Note – I made 12, 8 ounce jars, but they were loosely packed.  If you wanted more cake/filling per serving, divide everything into 9 jars.

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Mint Chocoate Cupcakes

You can, in fact, bake without a Kitchen Aid mixer.  While staying at my parent’s house for a bit, I needed to get my baking on, and they don’t have a stand mixer.  I baked for years without a mixer and now it is hard to imagine life without one!

Often when I’m in Michigan I get together with my mom, aunts, grandma, and cousins for a ladies’ dinner.  We laugh, eat steak, and drink margaritas!  This year my cousin wanted to celebrate her half birthday since her real birthday gets overshadowed by the holiday season.  I love having a summer birthday!  It’s perfect for mid-year presents and celebrations so I can understand why it would stink to have a winter birthday.

I sent Robyn a list of three possible cupcakes that I knew I could make without a stand mixer.  Unfortunately, this eliminated meringue buttercreams, which are my favorite but require looooooooooong beating times.  I was glad Robyn chose these particular cupcakes because I love the idea of two-tone and two-flavor frostings.  This technique makes the cupcakes look extra fancy!

These cupcakes feature my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe with Andes Mint chips mixed in.  The cake is moist and tender and perfectly chocolately.  The frosting is easy and very sweet.  To make two-tone frosting, make the based and then divide it in half.  To one half add in melted chocolate and cocoa powder and to the second half add the mint flavoring and green coloring.  One base, two frostings!  I would prefer a Swiss Meringue base because it is less sweet.  This technique of making a base frosting and then adding flavorings has awesome and infinite possibilities!!

What types of frosting combos would you like to see?

Print the Recipe

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes
Yield – 12 cupcakes
Inspired by My Baking Addiction
Adapted from Chocolate Cupcakes

3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa, I use Hershey’s Special Dark
3/4 cup sugar
5/8 teaspoon (1/2 +1/8 teaspoon) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons 2% milk
1/3 cup hot water
6 tablespoons Andes Creme de Menthe Chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, soda, powder, and salt into a large bowl.
  3. Measure the milk and oil.
  4. Add the egg and the vanilla to the mixing glass and beat together with a fork.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
  5. Mix until just combined and then scrape down the sides.  Add hot tap water and whisk until the batter is well combined.
  6. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to pour the batter into lined cupcake tins.
  7. Place 1/2 tablespoon of the mint chips on top of each cupcake.
  8. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted insides comes out clean.
  9. Let cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Chocolate & Mint Frosting
Adapted from My Baking Addiction
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream
green gel dye
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/4 cup (2 ounces) semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, again Hershey’s Special Dark
Extra mint chips for garnish

  1. Melt the semisweet chocolate in the microwaves in 2 20-intervals, stirring in between.  Set aside to cool.
  2. Beat the butter with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, fully incorporating into the butter before adding the next cup.  Scrape the bowl as needed.
  4. Beat in the vanilla and heavy cream and then beat for 3-4 minutes until the frosting is nice and light.  Add more cream if the frosting is too stiff.
  5. Place 1/2 the frosting in another bowl.
  6. Add the green gel dye and peppermint extract to the remaining frosting.  Beat until well combined and there are no longer any white streaks.  Remove this frosting into a separate bowl.
  7. Take the reserved frosting and return it to the original mixing bowl. Add in the cooled, melted chocolate and the cocoa powder.  Beat until well combined.
  8. Add the mint frosting to a 12” disposable piping bag.  Add the chocolate frosting to a different 12” disposable piping bag.  Only fill the bags about 1/2 way.
  9. Snip the tips of the piping bags and flatten out on top of each other.  Place the bags, together, into a 16” piping bag with a star (1M) tip.
  10. Gather all three bags together and twist until frosting comes out.  Pipe each cupcake.
  11. Sprinkle the mint chips on top.
  12. There is A LOT of extra frosting!  You can keep extra frosting in the freezer for a cupcake emergency!

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Oatmeal Fudge Bars

I have just spent the past two weeks in Michigan visiting family and friends.  I made these bars the day before I left as a sweet treat and to give myself something to post the morning after I return to Brooklyn.  A lot has happened since I made these bars!

  1. I drove and drove and drove: out of New York, through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and finally into Michigan. I drove across Michigan and down to Saint Joe and up to Baldwin.  It’s times like this I miss the weirdos on the subway, I’m tired of driving!
  2. So many babies! There was sweet and smiley Isaiah who apparently doesn’t crawl!  There was also baby Andie who has gotten so big since the last time I saw her, she is one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen! And finally there was Lukas who is currently training for several potential olympic events including, but not limited to rowing, diving, and water polo.  Trampoline has been ruled out for obvious reasons…
  3. I finally returned to Baldwin and saw my parent’s cabin, but more on that in a future post ;-)
  4. Infinite amounts of wine and Oberon have been drank, pounds of meat have been eaten, and few vegetables found there way to my face, a true Midwest adventure!

A bit about these bars – they are a delightful treat! The oatmeal fudge bars are a perfect sweet snack for little breaks between errands and packing. The bottoms are firm and crispy and the fudge is chewy and chocolately.  The crumble on top is the final crunch to complete the bar. These bars are perfectly rich and sweet without being too much so. Make these bars the next time you are having a chocolate craving, attending a BBQ, or simply want a fudgy distraction!

Print the Recipe.

Oatmeal Fudge Bars
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
Yield – 20 squares

1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup + 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup + 1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
8 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons instant coffee
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 egg

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F and line an 8×8” pan with foil.  Spray the foil with cooking spray.
  2. Mix together the oats, 1 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup flour, powder, soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  3. Melt 8 tablespoons of butter in the microwave.  Add to the dry ingredients and mix together.
  4. Take 3/4 of the oat mixture and add to prepared pan.  Leave the remaining oat mixture for the topping.
  5. Press the oat mixture in an even layer in the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 12 minutes until it is golden brown.  Let cool for about 20 minutes in the fridge while you make the filling.
  6. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter with the chocolate chips in the microwave.
  7. Let the chocolate cool for a few minutes and then mix in the egg.
  8. Mix together 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup flour, instant coffee, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
  9. Add the chocolate mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  10. Pour the chocolate mixture over the oat crust and spread evenly.
  11. Sprinkle the remaining crust on top of the chocolate evenly.
  12. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Let cool completely before cutting into squares.

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Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream

This is kind of a hard post write and that has little to do with the actual cupcakes.  These cupcakes are fantastic by the way!  The cake part is dark, moist, and tender, the chocolate ganache in the middle is a highly delicious extra, and the buttercream is smooth, creamy, and has a perfect caramel flavor.  This cupcake is the total package, a show-stopper.  This is the sort of cupcake you make to impress people and lead them to believe you are a baking genius!

I made these cupcakes for Stacey’s going away party.  Stacey has been my roommate for five years now and I’m more than a little bit sad that she is moving back to Michigan.  When you move to New York at 23 and you don’t know anyone, it can be a little bit lonely and a lot scary.  Luckily, within a few weeks of living here, Stacey and I had become good enough friends for her to ask me to live with her and her college roommate Ruth.  Not having any other options, I accepted!

Five years ago Stacey and I walked the streets of Brooklyn looking for the perfect three bedroom apartment for three brand new teachers.  There were many apartments we couldn’t afford and the ones we could afford were dumps. Finally we found it, the perfect apartment!  After two years of living in the “perfect” apartment, we had lost track of the number of mice we had killed and the rent kept increasing in our “up-and-coming” neighborhood.  So the three of us packed up and moved to Park Slope.  The rescission really helped our ability to afford the neighborhood!

We’ve made this apartment our home.  No longer are we kids just out of college, just trying to make it, we were here.  We finally got big girl furniture and put pictures on the wall.  As Ruth says, we’ve grown up!  The past five years has had us crying on the kitchen floor and on the blowup air mattress in the living room.  We have gone through infinite bottles of wine and learned the beauty of Seamless Web.  We have watched all 6 seasons of Lost and we have most definitely learned how to throw fantastic dinner parties.  We have all earned Master’s degrees and survived not one, but five years of teaching in New York City schools.  We got awesomer and awesomer!

So I sit here at the coffee shop down the street with tears in my eyes because I’m sad things are going to change.  It’s time for a change, I accept that.  Stacey’s moving to Michigan to be closer to her family and start a new chapter in her life and I am so proud of her!  Somehow the girl who barely knew me and asked me to be her roommate because of a mutual love of ice cream, Harry Potter, and Newfoundland dogs, became one of my best friends.  Over the past five years Stacey and Ruth have become the sisters I never had.

Alright, that was an over-emotional outpouring, back to the cupcakes!  They are delicious!  One taste-tester called them the best she ever had!  Yes, I used store-bought caramel.  But after the macaron failure earlier in the week, I couldn’t take any chances, caramel always gets me down when I try to add it to frosting.  You can make homemade caramel sauce if you want, just rub it in!  The inside of the cupcake speaks for itself!

Print the Recipe.

Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream
Adapted from Cake Love via The Faux Martha
Yield – 24 cupcakes

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 sugar
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used a dark chocolate powder I bought from Sahadi’s, it’s super dark!)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup half & half
1 tablespoon vanilla

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Beat together the butter and sugar on low speed for 3-5 minutes until they are well combined.  Do NOT beat until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time on low speed.  Scrape the bowl as needed.
  3. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt onto wax paper.
  4. Mix the half & half and vanilla in a measuring cup.
  5. With the mixer on low speed add the the flour mixture in 4-5 additions with a liquid addition in between.  Start and end with the dry ingredients.
  6. Use a standard ice cream scoop to distribute the batter between lined cupcake pans.
  7. Bake for 18 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Let cool completely.

Chocolate Ganache
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (60%)
pinch of Kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

  1. Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a small sauce pan.
  2. Pour the heated cream over the chocolate and salt.  Let sit for about 30 seconds and then stir to combine.
  3. Leave the ganache on the counter to cool and stir every so often so it does not harden.

Caramel Italian Meringue Buttercream
Adapted from Cake Love via The Faux Martha

5 egg whites
pinch of Kosher salt
1 1/4 cup superfine sugar
1/4 cup cold water
4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup prepared caramel sauce (I used store bought!)
1 tablespoon vanilla

  1. In a small saucepan mix together the sugar and the water.  Heat until the mixture reaches 245 F.  Try not to stir, just move the pan a little mix.
  2. Meanwhile beat the egg whites and salt until they form a stiff meringue.
  3. Drizzle the sugar syrup into the meringue carefully and confidently as the mixer is whisking on medium speed.  Pour the mixture straight into the meringue, not on the side.
  4. Switch the mixture to high speed and beat for 8-10 minutes or until the bowl is cool to the touch.
  5. Add in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time while the mixer is running on medium speed.  The buttercream may become soft, but just keep beating and it will whip up and become firm.
  6. Add in the caramel sauce and the vanilla, beat to combine.
  7. Place the buttercream in a pastry bag with your desired tip.

Assembly
Mini chocolate chips
Extra caramel sauce

  1. Use a paring knife to cut a cone out each cupcake.  Reserve the cones, do NOT eat them :-)
  2. Spoon about 1/2-1 tablespoon of ganache into each cone.  You want to fill the hollow left by the cone.
  3. Place the cupcakes into the freezer for about 5 minutes for the ganache to set up.
  4. Place the cones back into cupcakes.
  5. Frost a nice swirl of buttercream on the top of each cupcakes.
  6. Garnish with mini chocolate chips.
  7. Time to get messy – Dip a fork into the extra caramel sauce and drizzle caramel over the top.  You can clean the kitchen counter later!
  8. Refrigerate until you want to eat them.

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Filed under Cupcakes