Tag Archives: sweet

Oh, Fudge!

7 Jan

Just before the holidays, my dear friend Hillary came over, and we spent an afternoon making fudge! We made huge delicious batches of chocolatey goodness to cut up and deliver to coworkers in cute little holiday packages.

I love making holiday treats for my office. I only have 9 coworkers, so it’s not that difficult to prepare for everyone, but some years, it just doesn’t happen. I have our huge annual fundraising event in early December, and it seems like by the time that’s over, I’m just wiped. I don’t have the energy for much.

But I had been thinking about it, and thought about possibly fudge. And the next day, Hillary called to say we should get together to make… fudge! So that seemed like a clear sign that it needed to happen. With a partner in the kitchen, who coincidentally was interested in the same project as I was, it was quite fun to whip these up. And, like all my favorite projects, it was super easy.

We set out to make 3 different flavors. Classic chocolate, salted chocolate peanut butter, and a double batch of mint chocolate chip. Yum!

And I may or may not have cracked myself up multiple times by muttering “Fudge!” when I screwed up or dropped something, and then realizing what I said. Ha.

FUDGE!

So here you go… 3 recipes in one post! It’s your lucky day.

Classic Chocolate Fudge adapted from Martha Stewart

2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 can (14-oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt

Coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper, leaving extra paper on all sides.

Place the butter and chocolate chips in a medium heatproof bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, then remove and stir well. Repeat, microwaving at 30-second intervals and stirring well between each time, until chocolate is melted.

Add condensed milk, vanilla, and salt. Stir well.

Pour immediately into prepared baking dish and spread evenly. Refrigerate until set, 2 hours or overnight (wrapped). Using the overhanging parchment paper, lift from pan and cut into squares.

Classic

Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge adapted from Martha Stewart

2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 can (14-oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Sea salt (optional)

Coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper, leaving extra paper on all sides.

Place the chocolate chips in a medium heatproof bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, then remove and stir well. Repeat, microwaving at 30-second intervals and stirring well between each time, until chocolate is melted.

Add condensed milk, peanut butter, vanilla, and salt. Stir well.

Pour immediately into prepared baking dish and spread evenly. Refrigerate until set, 2 hours or overnight (wrapped). Using the overhanging parchment paper, lift from pan and cut into squares. Top with coarse sea salt.

Mmm... sweet & salty...

Mint Chocolate Chip Fudge adapted from Martha Stewart

2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 can (14-oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
Andes baking chips

Coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper, leaving extra paper on all sides.

Place the butter and chocolate chips in a medium heatproof bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, then remove and stir well. Repeat, microwaving at 30-second intervals and stirring well between each time, until chocolate is melted.

Add condensed milk and peppermint. Stir well.

Pour immediately into prepared baking dish and spread evenly. Top with mint chips, as desired.

Refrigerate until set, 2 hours or overnight (wrapped). Using the overhanging parchment paper, lift from pan and cut into squares.

Mint Chip

Linking up for:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Make Something Monday from Sarahndipities

Pumpkin Brownies

12 Nov

After the Pumpkin Spice Cake and the Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins, here’s my last pumpkin recipe to share with you: Pumpkin Brownies! I’m not sure what goes better with pumpkin than chocolate. After looking through a million versions, I finally settled on a recipe from Delishhh.com.

Mmm... look at that swirl

I thought these were exceptional, and the addition of Ghiradelli chocolate chips was a stroke of genius. They were slightly more cake-like than fudge-like, and while I usually prefer the latter, they were amazing. Especially when warmed and topped with a scoop of ice cream, which I must admit I enjoyed probably 5 out of 6 nights last week. As I mentioned with my previous pumpkin recipes, I used pumpkin pie filling instead of regular pumpkin puree, which the original recipe called for. But I think you’re good either way — the pie filling makes the brownies a little sweeter and richer in the end.

Oh my goodness, look at that chocolate chip right there.

I baked these in my brand-new Bake and Store Baker from Crate and Barrel — a highly convenient wedding gift. After they cooled, all I had to do was snap the lid on and throw them in the passenger seat to take to a party. Perfect.

Oh, and by the way — one can of pumpkin pie filling is the perfect amount for this recipe, Whole Wheat Pumpkin Spice Muffins, AND the Pumpkin Cake with Spiced Buttercream. Just to give you a heads up there.

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies from Delishhh.com

¾ cup all purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¾ cup butter (melted)
1 ½ cups white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup pumpkin pie filling
1tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp nutmeg

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8×8 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

In a bowl, whisk to combine flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix together melted butter, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in each egg one at a time. Add in the flour mixture a little at a time, and mix until combined. Divide the batter in half evenly into 2 separate bowls.

In one of the bowls, blend in the cocoa powder and chocolate chips. In the second bowl of batter, stir in pumpkin pie filling, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

Spread the chocolate batter into the bottom of the baking dish. Pour the pumpkin batter over that. Drag a kitchen knife or spatula through to mix it a bit. (This creates a mostly chocolate base with a mostly pumpkin top. If you want a more marbled brownie, pour half of each batter in at a time for a total of four layers, and then swirl the knife through it.)

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool and cut into squares.

Linking up for:
YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Linky Party with Fine Craft Guild

1 Cake, 3 Ways

24 Feb

I promised a cake to a friend because of a competition we held at work, and when the time came around, she wouldn’t tell me what kind of cake she wanted. But I owed it to her, so I didn’t want to back out or forget. So since I didn’t know which cake to bake for her, I just baked three.

But I thought this through. Mixing up three different batters seemed like it would take up a lot of time. Obvi. So I made up a basic batter without any flavoring, divided it into three bowls, and then added separate flavorings to each one. And while the cakes were baking, I made up 3 different fillings for each cake. And then I made one vanilla buttercream frosting to top everything off. Game plan: coconut cake with coconut cream filling and vanilla buttercream frosting, lemon cake with lemon filling and vanilla buttercream frosting, and almond cake with chocolate filling and vanilla buttercream frosting. Hells yeah.

I started by mixing up the base. I sifted together 2 1/2 cups flour2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. In a separate bowl, I mixed 2 cups white sugar3/4 cup butter, and 3 eggs with an electric mixer for about 1 minute. Then I alternately mixed in the flour mixture and 1 cup milk to the sugar mixture.

3 Cake Batters

I divided this base into 3 bowls.

  • Bowl 1: I added 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/3 cup coconut flakes.
  • Bowl 2: I added 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest.
  • Bowl 3: I added 2 teaspoons almond extract.

With my batters ready, I baked them at 350 F in batches, as my cake pans allowed. I used Wilton’s Mini Tasty-Fill Cake Pan Set. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s cool. It makes mini cake halves with a depression in the center of each one so that when you stack them, there’s a hollow center to add filling to. Of course, if you don’t have a smaller cake pan like this, you could make cupcakes and fill those. My small cakes baked 22 minutes or so. Cupcakes would probably take 18-20 minutes, but just keep checking with the toothpick test until they’re done.

3 Cakes Baking

While my cakes baked, I made the fillings.

  • For the coconut filling, I made up a half batch of the same filling that I used in my Simpler German Chocolate Cake, except I omitted the pecans.
  • For the lemon filling, I made a slightly different version of the original recipe I found here. In a saucepan, I mixed together 2 teaspoons lemon zest2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon flour. I mixed that until it was smooth, and then I added 3 tablespoons unsalted butter and 3/4 cup sugar. While I brought that to a boil, I whisked 2 egg yolks in a bowl until smooth. I put a small bit of the lemon mixture into the eggs and stirred until smooth, then I added the egg mixture to the lemon mixture, stirring well. Do this part quickly so that the lemon mixture doesn’t boil for longer than a minute or so. Then I reduced the heat to low and stirred constantly for about 5 minutes. Then I removed it from the heat and let it cool. (Note: Don’t skip the step of stirring the eggs with a small amount of the lemon mixture first. That’s so you don’t cook egg chunks into your lemon filling.) (Other Note: I thought this was a little too thick. If I made this again, I would follow the original recipe more closely. I think I had too much sugar and not enough liquid.)
  • For the chocolate filling, I melted 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter and 1/2 cup of a broken up Hershey’s Bar with Almonds in the microwave, stirring well every 20-30 seconds until smooth.

While my fillings cooled, I made the frosting. You can find the original recipe for Vanilla Buttercream Frosting at savorysweetlife.com.

Then it was time for assembly. I matched the cakes to their fillings and filled the center of each one. After I sandwiched them together, I frosted them all with the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.

So that the recipient would be able to tell what’s what, I topped each with something to represent what was inside. Coconut flakes on the coconut cake, chocolate bar bits on the almond-chocolate cake, and yellow and white sprinkles on the lemon cake. I stacked them all on one cake tray, and that was that. 1 cake batter 3 ways!

3 Cakes

Blueberry Cupcakes

19 Aug

I made these scrumptious blueberry cupcakes ages ago and forgot to post them, so hopefully I’ll remember everything. I have the recipe written down, so maybe that will jog my memory. These came about as the perfect solution to knocking out two birds with one stone: I wanted one more recipe for in-season blueberries (they were in season at the time, anyway) and I needed a treat for my dad for Father’s Day (I said it was ages ago).

Usually blueberries are found in more pastry-like desserts — pies, crumbles, cobblers, etc. I was intrigued by blueberries in cupcakes and thought it would be great to try out.

I started with 2 pints of blueberries. I’ll go ahead and say it now — I personally thought the blueberry-to-sugar ratio was excellent, but I would guess that a lot of blueberry fans would want way more blueberry flavor than this, maybe even double the amount. Your call. Anyway, for the batter…

I preheated the oven to 350 F and lined my cupcake tin. I thought a monochromatic look would be nice, so I used blue paper liners. In a food processor, I pureed a pint plus a little more of the blueberries, and set it aside.

I sing that to the tune of Raspberry Beret.

I sifted 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, and a pinch of salt into a small bowl and set it aside.

Dry Ingredients

In another small bowl, I whisked together 2 T milk, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and the prepared blueberry puree.

Batter IngredientsNow that I had my dry and wet mixes ready, I pulled out a large mixing bowl. I mixed 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) softened butter on low, and added 1/2 cup sugar. I beat it for a few minutes, until it was light and fluffy. Then I added one eggand mixed on low until just combined.Batter UpI added half the flour mixture, mixed briefly, added the milk mixture, mixed briefly, and then scraped down the bowl and added the rest of the flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Then I poured the batter into the prepared cupcake tins.

Cupcake Batter

I baked them for about 20-22 minutes, until they passed the toothpick test. I let them cool a bit in the pan, and then transferred them out to cool completely.

I went ahead and got to work on the frosting because pureeing and straining the rest of the blueberries took some time. This time, I pureed the rest of the blueberries in the food processor, and then I pushed them through a fine mesh strainer. This took quite some time, but it took even longer to clean the damn thing afterward. I just used the back of a spoon to push the blueberry puree through. The result was a purple goo that was much smoother than the chunky mess that came out of the food processor. This worked out great because the cupcakes had a great speckled look to them, where you could see tiny blueberry chunks baked in, but the frosting had the ideal smooth frosting texture in a pretty light blue color.

Ignore the red polka dots and you can see a little blueberry goop down there.

In a large bowl, I beat 1/4 cup softened butter, 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla with my hand mixer on medium-low.

Adding Blueberry Puree

I added the blueberry puree a little at a time until I achieved the desired flavor and consistency — for me, that was all of it. Once the frosting was smooth and blue, it was ready! I spread it on top of the cupcakes and topped each one with a single fresh blueberry. Perfect!

Blueberry Cupcakes

Blueberry Cupcake, in all its monochromatic glory.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

20 Jun

What up, homeslice?Before I headed to my Grandma’s for Memorial Day weekend, I baked a couple loaves of chocolate chip zucchini bread. I toted them all the way to Asheville while we lunched and shopped downtown and the bread waited in the stifling hot car, and then the rest of the way to Hendersonville where the BF and I joined my family. By “my family,” by the way, I mean about 17 people. I just knew Grandma and my dad would love this bread, and I was so pleased to have thought about bringing such a delicious gift with me. As we left on Monday, I noticed my chocolate chip zucchini bread, on the counter, still whole and wrapped in my tasteful packaging of tin foil and a Ziploc bag. And damn if I was going to leave that loaf behind for a bunch of ungrateful relatives — none of those 17 people could even bother to taste my bread? Psh. So I took it home with me and enjoyed it myself for the rest of the week.

That afternoon I got a call from my mother, who got a call from Grandma, because she was upset. She knew no one else had tasted that bread, and apparently she was planning on enjoying it herself for the rest of the week, starting that day when she returned home from church. Too bad, Grandma. I got it.

Because I am a wonderful granddaughter, when she returned this weekend for my nephew’s 4th birthday party, I prepared another batch. I brought a mini loaf for her and a mini loaf for my dad. Both of them were so excited they each tried to keep both loaves for themselves. I intervened and decreed they each receive just one loaf. That was only Saturday, so I’ll give them a couple more days, but when I call, they better have enjoyed them.

Make this, and find out for yourself why people will fight over it. This batch will make 2 regular loaves or, in my case, 3 mini loaves plus 3 muffins.

First I set the oven to 325 F and greased and floured the pans: two loaf pans or 3 mini pans and a few paper-lined muffins. Then I set up the food processor and grated 2 1/2 zucchinis, until I got 2 cups grated zucchini

Zucchini is GRATE for you.

In a large bowl, I beat 3 eggs with the hand mixer until they were a light yellow color and frothy. Then I mixed in 1 cup vegetable oil and 2 cups sugar. I stirred in the grated zucchini and  2 teaspoons vanilla

Zucchini in the batter

In another bowl, I whisked to combine 3 cups all-purpose flour, 3 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and about 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips. Once they were well mixed, I slowly stirred the flour mixture into the egg mixture.

Zucchini Bread Batter

I evenly divided the batter into the two prepared loaf pans, and then I baked them for about an hour.

Into the oven!

Gorgeous, delicious, and easy.

Just loafin' around

Fresh Strawberry-Lemon Bars

11 Jun

I was joking in my last post about how I don’t really like strawberries, but I actually do. I was just joshin’, y’all. They’re just not my fave. But if I thought I didn’t like strawberries, this dessert would totally change my mind. It took a bit of time but was way worth it. I found the original recipe in an issue of Better Homes & Gardens, and it actually called for raspberries. But I thought, Hey, strawberries are in season, and they will probably work just as well. And damn was I right! These are good!

I started off by preheating the oven to 350 F and preparing my baking pan. I lined a 13×9 inch pan with aluminum foil, making sure I had enough to hang over the edges to make handles for later.

I threw 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted organic butter into a large bowl, and then beat them with my hand mixer on medium about 30 seconds. Naturally, maybe because I forgot to cut them into chunks first, the butter got all stuck in the mixer and I had to push it all back into the bowl.

Then I added 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. I mixed that on low speed for another 30 seconds.

I added 2 cups all-purpose flour and beat on low speed until incorporated. Then I increased the speed to medium and continued mixing until it formed a dough. For a long time, it stayed really crumbly and seemed like it wasn’t going to form into a dough. I turned off the mixer and scraped the mixer and sides of the bowl. When I started mixing again, it came right together into the dough. I don’t know if it needed a break or if I just needed to keep going or what, but it worked. Since you want a bar crust and not just a crumble bottom, it’s better to over-mix then under-mix, so don’t stop too early.

Now there's a dough

Once I had a dough, I dropped it in chunks into the foil-lined baking pan. This made it easier to smooth it out into an even dough. I popped it in the oven for 20 minutes, which was the perfect amount of time to clean up and then chop 1 pint strawberries into quarters.

Dough chunksDough layer
Once the dough finished its 20 minutes, I let it cool for 5 minutes and then brushed the exposed foil with butter. Then I spread a small jar (10 oz? I don’t remember) strawberry jam evenly over the crust.

Jam layer

For the next layer, I spread the quartered strawberries evenly.

Strawberry layer

Now for the custard filling. In another large bowl, I mixed 4 oz. (1/2 package) cream cheese and 4 oz. goat cheese with a hand mixer on high for about 30 seconds. Then I added in  1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, the zest of one lemon, the juice of one lemon, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Of course when I tried to get just the egg yolk, I accidentally poured the whole egg down the drain. But take two worked just fine. And then I beat the whole mixture on medium until smooth, about one minute.

Custard

A tip or two about lemon… To zest a lemon, use a flat grater to grate the lemon peel directly into the bowl. Grate the yellow, but stop when you see white — you don’t want to use that part. To juice a lemon, roll it around on the counter under your palm, putting a bit of weight into it. This will loosen up the juices a bit. Then cut it in half and squeeze each half directly into the bowl. If you have trouble keeping seeds out of your bowl, wrap a paper towel around the lemon and squeeze the juice through it. The paper towel will hold back the seeds and any pulp.

Custard Layer

I poured the lemon custard batter evenly over the strawberries and then baked it for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, I pulled them out and let them cool for about 10 minutes. I asked the BF to help me remove them from the pan — we each took an end of the foil and lifted it out, pulling it tight so it wouldn’t slide in on itself. Since I wanted to serve them for dessert and dinner was already halfway through, I stuffed them in the fridge to cool a little faster.

Strawberry Lemon Bars

When I was ready to serve, I cut them into bars and served a little piece to everyone, and omigod they were soooo good. Lots of strawberry, very lemony, really rich, and oh so sweet. But even though the goat cheese and cream cheese made it rich, the lemon also made for a pretty light, summery flavor. Deelish.

Strawberry Lemon Bar

Notes:

  • Wow, these are good. I am actually kind of surprised how much I like them considering they don’t have any chocolate.
  • I was a little skeptical that these would hold up as bars. I’m guessing I didn’t chill them long enough because they were a little runny at first. But when I chilled them again and sliced the other half the next day, they held up really well. And I figured that even if they didn’t, this would make just as delicious and satisfying a dessert if it were called a cobbler, crumble, or custard. Try them the first day with a spoonful warm out of the oven and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Then refrigerate the rest, and after they’ve chilled, try them the next day as a firm, chilled bar. Both are pretty delicious!
  • This recipe could be made the exact same way but with a variety of fruits. I’d love to try raspberries, blueberries, peaches, anything really. Maybe I’ll try this again with other seasonal produce.

Broccoli Brownies

20 May

Sounds disgusting, right? But much like the spinach cupcakes, they were actually pretty good! Since I committed to creating one meal and one dessert for each seasonal crop in North Carolina this year, I was again at a bit of a loss for broccoli. I Googled “broccoli dessert” and had very little success with fitting results. A search for “Broccoli cake” turned out a little better. My favorite result was this Broccoli Forest Cake, which I may have to try out one day. But from reading the recipes, I wasn’t quite convinced that any of my findings would be sweet enough if I truly focused on the broccoli.  So instead I decided to pull another Jessica Seinfeld and just hide that broccoli in a delicious dessert. Brownies it is.

Fresh Broccoli

I started off by pureeing fresh broccoli florets in my food processor (best kitchen purchase EVER). It resulted in a consistency kind of between powder and sand. I pureed enough to make 3/4 to 1 cup broccoli and set it aside. I preheated the oven to 350 F and got to work on my batter.

About to get processed

In a large bowl, I whisked together the dry ingredients: 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Dry Ingredients

In a separate bowl, I combined 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 2 eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. I stirred it by hand till it was just blended.

Ew, Wet Ingredients

Then I slowly added the wet mixture to the dry mixture, stirring by hand till it was just blended. Last, I stirred in the chopped broccoli and 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips.

Broccoli & Chocolate

Broccoli Brownie Batter

I greased an 8×8 pan and poured the batter in evenly. I baked the brownies for about 25-30 minutes. When you poke it, the brownies should indent just slightly. I let it cool in the pan before I cut it into slices.

Broccoli Brownies

How Sue Sees It:

  • Since the broccoli was pureed super fine, these look like normal brownies. You can’t see any green at all, just chocolate. Perfect!
  • Everyone who actually tasted them really liked them. I’d say about half of my tasters thought they were good and didn’t have any comment at all. The other half thought they were good, but did ask something like, “Hmm… this is good, but what is that?” They couldn’t quite place what they were tasting, but they did like them.
  • For a couple people, including my 16-year-old drama queen of a sister, the thought of broccoli was too much of a barrier. She ate the first half of it just fine and told me it was delicious, but when I told her there was broccoli in there, she refused to eat the rest. My brother was a similar story. I think they were being babies, but it was a good lesson: just don’t mention the broccoli at all.
  • Definitely take the time to completely puree the broccoli. If you don’t have a food processor, go get one. I got mine at Walmart for 30 bucks. The broccoli is pureed so small that you can’t taste or see it. It barely alters the flavor, and it doesn’t affect the texture at all.
  • I thought they were very tasty, especially with the chocolate chips added in for good measure. I just tasted chocolate. But similar to the spinach cupcakes, though they tasted relatively normal, they did have a bit of a funky smell to them. Store them in an airtight container to keep them moist, but open the container and let them air out a bit for a few minutes before you serve them. If someone gets a whiff of these as soon as you open the container, they may not be willing to taste them.
  • A perfect dessert for picky kids and spouses who aren’t getting enough vegetables in their diet!
  • If you would rather incorporate zucchini instead of broccoli, follow the same method, but increase the amount of flour to 1 cup to balance out the extra water content.

Mostly Organic Spinach Cupcakes

6 Apr

When I first started trying to figure out how to make leafy greens into a dessert, I thought of spinach. If you can make a carrot cake that doesn’t take like vegetables, why not a spinach cake? Thank goodness for the internet, because the only sweet spinach cake I could find was on this great blog about Turkish food. So I found Binnur’s original Spinach Cake (Ispanakli kek) recipe, adjusted it a little, and got to work.

I started with the spinach, which I bought organic since spinach is one of the Dirty Dozen vegetables. I bought 2 5-oz packages organic spinach, snapped the roots off, and pureed it all in the food processor. Side note: this was the first time I ever used a food processor, and it was amazing. I can’t wait to find other things to process.

BeforeAfter
I set the spinach aside so I could start the batter. First I preheated the oven to 375 F. In a large mixing bowl, I blended 3 organic eggs and 2 cups sugar with a hand mixer on low for about a minute. Then I added 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon organic vanilla, and all the spinach and blended until it all incorporated.

IngredientsThen I slowly added 2 1/2 cups flour and 1 tsp baking powder. I blended that for about two minutes longer.

Batter

Cupcake Batter
Then I scooped the batter into paper-lined muffin cups. I popped them into the oven and baked for about 18 minutes, until it passed the toothpick test.

Muffin or Cupcake? Muffcake!

Spinach Cakes

I tasted one and it was actually pretty good! It smelled like spinach but tasted like cake. Though I will say, I kept some plain ones in a sealed plastic container for a couple days, and when I took the lid off, that was some strong spinach smell. I decided it could use some frosting, so I whipped up some vanilla buttercream.

I dropped 1 stick softened organic butter (1/2 cup) into a mixing bowl and blended it with a hand mixer for just 30 seconds or so till it was smooth. Then I added 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar and blended on low until incorporated. Then I added 1 tablespoon organic vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons organic heavy cream. I blended on medium for about 2 minutes. Once it was the perfect texture, I frosted the cupcakes.

Spinach Cupcake!The vanilla buttercream balanced the spinach cake perfectly and made for a pretty light but sweet cake. And unusual too!

How Sue Sees It:
– You could probably serve these without the frosting and call them muffins, but they’re still pretty sweet. And they’re better with the frosting anyway.
– This is a great option for people who need to hide vegetables in food in order to get kids or spouses to eat them, a la Jessica Seinfeld.
– This would also be great to serve for a St. Patrick’s Day party!
– I took them to a party and was very hesitant and almost apologetic about serving spinach cupcakes. I explained what they were, and then went back outside to move my car to a more legal parking spot. By the time I got back 10 minutes later, there were only 3 left! I guess they were good.

Like hotcakes!

Lemon-Glazed Ginger Cookies

19 Mar

I haven’t been baking much lately, even though I’m supposedly a “Bake-aholic,” so I decided to stop being lazy and try something new. The original recipe for these delicious cookies was in one of my Martha Stewart holiday cookie magazines. I edited it slightly, using fresh ginger rather than candied ginger, and I thought they came out great. They’re more of a cake-like cookie, and the cookie itself isn’t very sweet, but it meshes perfectly with the super-sweet lemon glaze.

First, I prepared my ginger, because I used fresh ginger, and I figured it would take a while. But trust me, fresh ginger is worth it! It’s not that it even tastes way better than ground ginger spice, it’s just totally different. I used a flat grater to grate about 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger. Tip: Freeze your ginger first!! It will grate sooooo much more easily, it won’t be as messy, and you won’t lose any of the flavorful juice.

I whisked to combine 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt, and set it aside.

In a separate bowl, I combined 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) softened butter and 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar. Then I beat it with the hand mixer on medium for about 3 minutes, until it was a bit fluffy. I added in all that ginger I grated up and beat the mixture for another 2 minutes. Then I beat in 1 egg and 2 tablespoons vanilla until well combined.

I Need 3 Hands
I reduced the speed of the mixer to low and added the flour mixture a little at a time, beating until just combined.

Cookie Batter
The dough was much stickier than I expected, so I divided into two sections, wrapped it in plastic wrap, and left it in the fridge overnight.

So the next day, I came back, set the oven to 350 F, and got to work on the dough. I wasn’t going to try to roll the dough out and use cookie cutters, because we all know what happens when I try that alone, so instead I rolled it into a log and sliced it into rounds. To do it this way, it actually works better to be almost frozen because then the knife doesn’t mush it while you’re trying to cut it. And I’ll be honest here: one of the dough sections wasn’t cold enough, it mushed like crazy, and I ended up molding little flattened balls of dough onto the parchment paper with very sticky hands. This dough is sticky enough that if I had one, I would probably use a mini ice cream scooper or a melon baller to drop rounds instead.

Cookie Dough Rounds
So once they were all lined up on a pan lined with parchment paper, I put them in the oven for about 14 minutes, rotating once halfway through. Once they were slightly golden around the edges, I pulled them out and let them cool completely on a wire rack.

Looking at cookies through the grimy window of my oven.Cooling the Cookies
While they were cooling, I mixed up the lemon glaze. This was so delicious that I followed it exactly like the original Martha Stewart recipe. First I cut a lemon in half and juiced one half of it to get about 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice. Then I took that same half and grated the peel on the flat grater — just like I did for the ginger — to get about 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest.

Zesting a Lemon
I whisked to combine 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, the lemon juice and zest, 1 tablespoon honey, 2 1/2 tablespoons water, and a pinch of salt. It was pretty easy to get this nice and smooth, and ohmygosh it was so good. I was dipping my fingers in it the entire time I was baking. I will be putting this lemon glaze on everything.

Glaze IngredientsLemon Glaze
Then I just took my lemon glaze and put it on top of my cooled ginger cookies. The whole drizzling thing was just not working for me.

Drizzling Was Not Working
So instead I just spooned it on top in big blobs and let it run to cover the whole top of the cookie.

Glazing a CookieGlazing
For the second half of the batch, I set up a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and then rested a wire rack on top of it. I set the cookies on the wire rack and glazed them there, so that the excess glaze could run off the sides and be caught by the pan below, instead of pooling unattractively around the cookie. This gave the cookie a really nice look. I was in a hurry (when am I not?), so I popped the cookies in the fridge so the glaze would set more quickly. But it would harden enough to be transportable in probably half an hour.

Lemon-Glazed Ginger Cookies

 

How Sue Sees It:
– I suggest storing these in an airtight container with wax paper between layers of cookies. Martha says they can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 days. I think throwing away cookies after only 2 days is ridiculous.
– I ran a little short on the lemon glaze near the end, and I tried to quickly whip up a second batch with some of that lemon juice that’s in the plastic lemon bottle. DO NOT DO THIS. It was disgusting and I threw it away.
– Line anything going into the oven with parchment paper and everything else with either parchment or wax paper. Then you can just throw away the mess.
– You can add food coloring to the glaze if you want. It looks kind of freakish and a bit less appetizing, but I dyed some of it green for St. Patrick’s Day.

Double Chocolate Cookies

19 Dec

What’s better than chocolate? More chocolate!  A good chocolate cookie is hard to come by, but these are pretty delicious.

I whisked to combine (you know I don’t sift) 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup of cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. I set that aside and dumped 8 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips and 1 stick of butter into a glass bowl. I melted them in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until smooth.

Dry Ingredients
I poured the chocolate and butter mixture in a large mixing bowl and added 1 1/2 cups of white sugar, 2 eggs, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. I beat it with the hand mixer on medium until it was well combined. I switched it down to low speed and slowly mixed in the dry ingredients.

Chocolate Mixture
The batter was really runny and difficult to work with, so I put it in the fridge for a little while. I wanted uniform-sized cookies, so instead of spooning them onto the parchment-paper lined cookie sheet, I rolled the dough into balls and placed them about 2 inches apart. (An ice cream scoop would work great — I probably should get one of those.) I did have to bake them in multiple batches, and chill the dough again in between preparing trays.

Chocolate Dough Balls
I baked them for about 15 minutes, rotating halfway through. I pulled them out when they started to crack on top. They looked beautiful arranged in a circle on my red snowman platter, and judging from the number of tiny children who kept grabbing them off the table at the party I took them to, they tasted great too!

Double Chocolate Cookies

How Sue Sees It:
– If I make these again, I would melt only half the chocolate chips. I would leave the other half whole and stir them into the batter at the end to make chocolate-chocolate chip cookies.
– Tip: If you drop the batter when it’s room temperature or warm, the cookies will spread quickly while they bake and be thinner and more crunchy. If you chill or freeze the batter first, it won’t spread as much, and they will be thicker and less crunchy.
– These cookies are nice and flat, so they would be ideal for decorating. Try making a few stencils of holiday shapes and then sprinkling confectioners sugar on the cookie using a fine sieve. It would make for a cute snowman or Christmas tree outline.