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Entries in recipes (578)

Wednesday
Jun232010

America the Sweet: United Cakes of America, and Hartford Election Cupcakes

Let's talk for a minute about the new book United Cakes of America: Recipes Celebrating Every State by Warren Brown, owner of the CakeLove empire in the DC area.

I love the idea of this book: a sweet show of patriotism, dedicated to celebrating the cakes unique to each region of the USA, including recipes and stories.

And for the most part, I love the result: it's beautifully designed, well written, and so far, the recipes are tasting most excellent. 

My only reservation about the book isn't so much a complaint about the content as a wish that even more had been done to delve into the history--including the hows and whys--of each region's cake. Several of the entries--Hartford Election Day Cake, Hummingbird Cake, and Red Velvet Cake, for instance--come with insightful histories and thoughts on why the cakes might have come into their own in a certain region, and I found these to be the most fascinating parts of the book. However, other entries are more loosely tied to a region, simply inspired by other flavors popular in the area rather than truly zeroing in on the region's cake specialty. For instance, the Washington entries are for Apple Cake and Coffee Buttercream, respectively. While both apples and coffee definitely have a strong presence in Washington, and I have no doubt that the recipes are delicious, I wouldn't consider these cakes that really represent the area.

But you know what? If the only reservation about this book is that I wanted more, that's really not such a bad thing. 

Here's one of my favorite entries so far, the Connecticut cake: an updated version of Hartford Election Day Cake, which was probably an American adaptation of English fruitcakes, which has since evolved into the below delicious spice cake. Spicy and flavorful, these cupcakes are quite light, but don't worry--a healthy dollop of the old-fashioned milk buttercream (which, by the way, smells and tastes so good that you might just want to lick the bowl) anchors them down quite deliciously. And it's a perfect recipe to dress up in red, white, and blue for the 4th of July!

Hartford Election Day Cupcakes

Makes about 11 cupcakes

Dry ingredients:

  • 8 ounces (1 cup) superfine granulated sugar
  • 5 ounces (1 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon potato starch
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon  nutmeg, freshly grated
  • Pinch of allspice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon baking soda

 Wet ingredients:

  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) butter, melted
  • ¼ cup half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 egg yolk

Procedure 

  1.  Preheat the oven to 325°F and place the rack in the middle position. Lightly coat a cupcake tray with nonstick oil-and-starch spray and line 10 of the cups with paper liners.
  2. Measure and combine all the dry ingredients in a deep bowl. Whisk lightly for about 15 seconds to blend.
  3. Combine all the wet ingredients in a container with a tight-fitting lid and shake well for 15 seconds.
  4. Lightly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. This should take about 15 seconds.
  5. Scoop or pour 2 ounces of batter into the paper-lined cups. (Using a food scooper or ladle works best.)
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tops of the cupcakes are golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted in the center of one comes out clean or with just a few crumbs.
  7. Cool the cupcakes for five minutes before removing them from the tray. When they are room temperature, frost or decorate them with Old-Fashioned Milk Buttercream (recipe below).

 Old-Fashioned Milk Buttercream

Yield: Enough for one 9-inch layer cake or 24 cupcakes (note: it is more than you'll need for the cupcakes, but it tastes good enough to eat by the spoonful)

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 ounces (¼ cup) all-purpose flour
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) superfine granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 Optional garnish: sprinkles, decorating gel, etc.

 Procedure

  1. Quickly whisk together 4 tablespoons of the milk with the flour. This slurry will be somewhat thick, so whisk thoroughly to make it smooth. Press out any lumps with a flexible spatula, if necessary.
  2. Whisk in the rest of the milk and transfer the mixture to a 2-quart heavy-bottom saucepan. Bring to a simmer for about 30 seconds over medium heat, whisking the whole time.
  3. Remove the pan from the stove and place plastic wrap directly against the milk’s surface. (This is the best method to prevent a skin from forming.) Cool to room temperature.
  4. Combine the butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix at medium to high speed for 5 minutes.
  5. Pour the cooled milk-and-flour mixture into the bowl and beat for another 5 minutes, or longer, as needed to achieve a spreadable consistency.
Sunday
Jun202010

Essie's Cookies: A Sweet Treat From Betty Crocker's Cooky Book

Well, it was natural that I would feel an affinity with a recipe called "Essie's Cookies"--after all, Essie sounds like Jessie, and that's me!

But rhyming namesake aside, what do these cookies have to offer for eaters? Well, according to the intro in what you have to know is my favorite cookie cookbook, Betty Crocker's Cooky Book, they are a "crisp, crunchy, good-eating cooky". Quel mysterieuse! Curious, I whipped up a batch.

Turns out, these are an amazingly easy rolled sugar cookie, and true to BC's word, very "good-eating". Visiting parents favored the ones from the back of the pan which were crispy on the edges; Mr. Spy and I ate up the softy ones from the front (because no, I didn't rotate the pan--even though I know you're supposed to. Whatevs).

Oh, and in the spirit of abbreviation (and ingredient availability chez moi) I omitted the split almonds on top. Don't tell Essie, but I think they were fine without.

Here's the recipe:

Essie's Cookies 

Makes about 36 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Optional: 1 egg white (for an egg wash), 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 cup sugar, and toasted split almonds to top the cookies (I just sprinkled with sugar)

Procedure

  1. In a stand mixer, mix butter, 1 cup sugar, egg, and flavoring thoroughly.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together flour and baking powder.
  3. Blend the flour mixture into the wet mixture. Chill dough for at least an hour.
  4. Heat oven to 375 F. Roll dough 1/16" thick on a lightly floured, cloth covered board. Cut with cookie cutters; place on an ungreased baking sheet.
  5. If you're doing the egg wash business, beat the egg white with a fork and brush over cookies; sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar on top, and garnish with toasted split almonds. Or, if you're lazy like me, just sprinkle with sugar and pop 'em in the oven.
  6. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until lightly brown at the edges.
Friday
Jun182010

White Light: White Chocolate and Apricot Cookies Recipe

I'll confess: one of my favorite things about the publication Seattle Woman Magazine is that they often feature recipes from Macrina Bakery, a famous bakery around these parts. And in a recent issue, they featured a recipe for chocolate and apricot cookies. Delicious combination? I think so.

In my version, they get an even sweeter makeover by using white chocolate chips and a handful of candied walnuts, making for a tempting treat for customers at my store!

Of course, if you can't stop by to try them, make the magic happen in your own household: here's my adaptation of the recipe.

White Chocolate and Apricot Cookies

Adapted from Macrina Bakery

Makes 15 jumbo cookies, or up to 36 small cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground espresso or coffee
  • 10 ounces white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup apricots, diced
  • a generous handful of candied walnuts (optional)
  • 8 ounces butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (original recipe called for half white and half brown, but I only had white--still tasty)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Procedure 

  1. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and espresso in a medium bowl. Mix with a whisk until evenly distributed. Add chocolate chips and apricot bits and mix well. Set aside.
  2. Combine the butter and sugar in a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and pale in color. Add 1 egg at a time, mixing until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then add the vanilla. Continue mixing until butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla are all incorporated (about 1 minute). Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions. Mix on low speed for no more than 1 minute. Remove bowl from mixture and do a final mix with a rubber spatula.
  4. Remove from bowl and chill for at least one hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  6. Scoop dough with a medium-sized ice cream scoop to form 1-inch balls. Leave at least an inch and a half around each cookie to allow for some spreading.
  7. Bake cookies for 15-18 minutes, turning about halfway to ensure even baking. Cookies should be golden at the edges but soft in the middle.
  8. These cookies will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container.

 

Wednesday
Jun162010

Wild Oats: Oatsies Recipe From Betty Crocker's Cooky Book

Pop Quiz: when faced with the prospect of imminent Oatsies, the proper reaction is:

A. Panic--you must run from this menace!

B. Dread--you're definitely going to need to visit the doctor.

C. A world-weary sigh--you don't need this today.

D. Delight--you're faced with the prospect of a delicious treat!

Of course, anyone who knows Oatsies knows that the answer is D: you are faced with the prospect of a delicious treat. But for those who may not be in the know, let me share with you what exactly what an oatsie is, from my BFF cookbook, Betty Crocker's Cooky Book:

A delicious caramel-like oat confection topped with chocolate. Shared with us by Charlotte Johnson of our staff, who makes them often for her college-student son and daughter.

And a most sincere thanks to Ms. Johnson, wherever she may be, for these are indeed a treat to be treasured: sweet, lightly salty, nutty, oaty, caramelly, and extremely addictive.

Oatsies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup (recipe calls for dark; I used light because it is what I had)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 package (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate pieces (I used these nice fat chips)
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 400 F.
  2. Mix oats and sugar in a large, heatproof bowl (you'll need to pour a hot mixture over it soon).
  3. Melt butter; add syrup, salt, and vanilla. Pour over the oats and sugar; mix well.
  4. Pat mixture into a greased square pan (I used 8x8-inches).
  5. Bake 8-10 minutes--do not overbake! (How do you know it's done? It will be lightly bubbling on the sides)
  6. Melt chocolate and spread on top--or, if you're like me and don't read directions thoroughly, just sprinkle on the chocolate pieces and let them melt on the still-hot mixture.
  7. Sprinkle nuts on top of this, and let cool (or, again, like me, don't follow the directions and eat immediately. Messy, but tasty). You'll need a pretty sharp knife to cut these, as they're pretty sticky. Happily, I have a sharp and fancy knife called the "Jessica" (like me!) with which I can do these things.
Wednesday
Jun162010

Lovely Leche: Dulce de Leche Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

When I encountered the recipe for Dulce de Leche Cheesecake bars in last month's issue of Bon Appetit, my eyes got really big and I think I probably said something like "Whoa".

After a brief moment of despair at having no graham crackers or cream cheese in the house, I found myself wondering "could this work with peanut butter and Reese's Puffs cereal instead?". And so I made said substitutions, and found myself with a pretty tasty treat. They could have chilled longer to set, but friends had no problem dealing with the dulce de leche ooze.

Dulce de Leche Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Ingredients

Crust

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 1/4 cups finely ground Reese's Puffs cereal
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

Filling

 

  • 1 16-ounce jar peanut butter (preferably smooth, full-fat)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup purchased dulce de leche
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

Glaze

 

  • 2/3 cup purchased dulce de leche
  • 3 tablespoons (or more) heavy whipping cream
  • (optional) a spoonful of hot fudge sauce

 

Procedure

 

  1. Make the Crust. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with nonstick spray (I used an 8x8-inch pan for fat, thick bars). Mix cereal crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon in medium bowl. Add melted butter; stir until coated. Transfer crumb mixture to pan. Press evenly onto bottom of pan. Bake until crust is light golden, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on rack.
  2. Make the Filling. Blend peanut butter and sugar in a stand mixer until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs 1 at a time, processing 3 to 5 seconds to blend between additions. Add dulce de leche and vanilla; process until blended, about 10 seconds. Spread batter evenly over cooled crust. Bake until just set in center and edges are puffed and slightly cracked, about 38 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely.
  3. Make the Glaze. Heat dulce de leche, 3 tablespoons cream and chocolate sauce (if using) in microwave-safe bowl in 10-second intervals until melted. Stir to blend, adding more cream by teaspoonfuls if too thick to pour (amount of cream needed will depend on brand of dulce de leche). Pour glaze over cooled baked mixture; spread evenly. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour (glaze will not be firm). Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; keep chilled. Sprinkle bars with fleur de sel.

 

Tuesday
Jun152010

Belle of the Ball: Coconut Belles from the Betty Crocker Cooky Book

At first glance, Coconut Belles don't look like anything out of the ordinary: they look like a pleasing, if unremarkable, bar cookie.

But don't be fooled. The Coconut Belle one coy little cookie bar. I found them in the "family favorites" section of Betty Crocker's Cooky Book, where this cryptic introduction drew me in:

Since this cooky is better the second day than the day it is baked, you must bake them yesterday to enjoy them today.

True to the intro, these cookies taste good just out of the oven, but become something else entirely when left to their own flavor-melding devices overnight: delicately scented with citrus and redolent of rich coconut, these cookies taste far more compelling than their appearance might imply.

Of course, if you bake them around midnight, does that mean they were baked close enough to yesterday to enjoy today? Customers at the store will see.

Coconut Belles

Makes 24 bars

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract (I used lemon juice)
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut, plus extra for sprinkling on top
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped candied orange peel

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 325 F.
  2. Mix butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, lemon, and cream thoroughly.
  3. Measure flour and mix with salt and baking powder; stir into wet mixture.
  4. Blend in the coconut and peel.
  5. Spread in a lightly greased pan (I used 8x8-inch). If desired, sprinkle extra coconut on top.
  6. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. While warm, cut into bars. Serve cooled (the next day is best).
Monday
Jun142010

Seeing Red: Cocoa Red Velvet Strawberry Shortcake for Serious Eats

So, today is National Strawberry Shortcake Day. How are you celebrating?

My suggestion? Don your Strawberry Shortcake cartoon character tee from the 1980s, work up an appetite, and make a big batch of Red Velvet Strawberry Shortcake.

The biscuits in this version take a flavor (and, if desired, color) cue from the classic Southern cake, making use of buttermilk, cocoa and red food coloring, which lends a subtle sweetness which works wonderfully with freshly made whipped cream and strawberries, and makes for a very pretty presentation.

Read more--and find the recipe--on Serious Eats!

Saturday
Jun122010

Nut'n Honey: Honey Peanut Butter Refrigerator Cookies

You probably don't think of peanut butter cookies as a slice-and-bake refrigerator cookie, but you should.

I was immediately intrigued when I discovered this recipe in my beloved Betty Crocker's Cooky Book. And, upon testing out the recipe, ultimately rewarded. These cookies have all of the sweet-and-salty flavor that make peanut butter cookies so deliciously addictive, but with a subtle, mellow dimension from the honey, and a more delicate texture than their classic counterpart. The verdict? These fat, chewy, and lightly crumbly cookies are beyond welcome to co-exist peacefully with the flattened-by-fork tines variety in my cookie jar.

And based on how quickly they disappeared when I put them out at my shop, I'd say that the public agrees. Well, either that, or people will eat anything when it's free.

Note: The original recipe calls for 2/3 cup peanut butter and 1/2 cup chopped peanuts. I split the difference and used a cup-and-a-bit extra of chunky peanut butter--this kind, if you're curious. Also, I used more baking powder than specified in the original recipe.

Honey Peanut Butter Refrigerator Cookies

Adapted from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book

- Makes about 30 cookies -

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey or corn syrup (I used honey)
  • 1 cup (and maybe a spoonful extra) chunky peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Procedure

  1. Mix butter, sugar, honey, peanut butter, and egg thoroughly.
  2. Mix your remaining dry ingredients together, and then stir in bit by bit to your wet ingredient mix. If it is too dry, add a few drops of milk or cream until it is cohesive.
  3. Roll into a couple of logs, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter; wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill for several hours or overnight.
  4. Heat oven to 400 F. Cut dough in fat slices (I did about 1/2 inch) and place about 1 inch apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until lightly brown on the edges. Let cool for about 5 minutes on the sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
Wednesday
Jun092010

Shake Me Up Before You Go Go: The Red Velvet Cake Shake

There's a reason why you've never tried a Red Velvet Cake Shake. 

That reason, of course, is that the recipe relies on you having an extra slice of Red Velvet laying around, and as anyone knows, this is a highly unlikely occurrence.

However, after this weekend's Red Velvet Cake tasting, I found myself in such an unlikely situation. And given some time to consider it, a beautiful phrase came to mind: Red Velvet Cake Shake. Could it possibly be as good as it sounded?

The answer, of course, is yes. This shake is basically made of awesome: it has tangy cream cheese frosting, rich, moist cake, and sweet, creamy ice cream--all mixed into one pretty pink parfait.

Of course, if your instinct is to cry "too much", I do have a suggestion: call it a smoothie. No, this doesn't actually alter the recipe, but don't you feel healthier already?

Red Velvet Cake Shake

Ingredients 

  • 1 slice Red Velvet Cake
  • 2 big--and I mean big--scoops of ice cream (I used strawberry; I think that vanilla would also work well)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cups milk

Procedure

Put all of the ingredients in a blender. Blend until the shake has reached your desired consistency--shorter if you like little bits of cake in your shake, longer if you like a smoother texture. Add more ice cream for a thicker shake, more milk for a thinner one, as needed.

Tuesday
Jun082010

Sweet Loafing: Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips Recipe from Cake Gumshoes Denise and Steve

When readers Denise and Steve came into my store, they told me that they had been on a 30 mile bike ride that morning. My response was something along the lines of an aghast "on purpose?". But I quickly forgave them for their inherent sportiness, because guess what: they brought me banana bread. With big ol' chunks of chocolate. Even the vaguely healthy applesauce in its construction couldn't cancel out that decadence.

Well, Mr. Spy and I deemed this an ideal breakfast bread, and I eagerly set to recreating the magic in my own kitchen, this time made with butter, chunks of milk chocolate, and a mix of walnuts and pecans. I really don't have to tell you it was delicious, do I?

It's a very easy recipe to personalize and make your own; here's Denise's base recipe so you can choose your own adventure with it.

Oh, and by the way, here's the cute custom painting I did for Denise and Steve while we talked about our favorite pastries!

Dense, Delicious Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips

With serious thanks to Denise and Steve

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c flour (I use whole wheat pastry flour, or you can do a mix of 3/4 c white flour and 3/4 c wheat flour)
  • 1 tsp sea salt (kosher salt is okay too)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 c mashed banana (3-4 very ripe, Denise usually uses 4 for extra moist
  • bread!)
  • 1 c sugar (can reduce to 3/4 c, or 1/2 c)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c melted, cooled butter (I use canola oil, or a heaping 1/3 c apple sauce to be really healthy! and do use a little extra apple sauce to keep bread moist)
  • (optional) 2/3 c chopped nuts (I used a mix of pecans or walnuts)
  • 2/3 c chocolate chips for banana chocolate chip bread (Denise lists this as optional--I vote necessary)

Procedure

  1. Mix all of the above together in a big bowl. Don't overmix--just mix until incorporated.
  2. Bake at 325 degrees F for around an hour, check center with toothpick; if toothpick comes out clean, it's done.
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