Sunday, December 5, 2010

pumpkin pie bars

I have kept this recipe for pumpkin pie bars on my bookmarks bar for quite some time, and what better time to finally make them than during finals week of school? bake, blog, research paper. yes, of course in that order. But these bars were what I wanted all along. The pumpkin filling is a little tangy from the cream cheese, and not too sweet. The shortbread crust is just like the crust of a lemon or raspberry bar.

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter
1 cup oats (old-fashioned or quick-cooking)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
8 oz cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
15 0z (1 can) pumpkin purée
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp bourbon (optional)
a handful of butterscotch or chocolate chips (optional)

preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13x9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over the sides, and grease the foil.

mix the flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and brown sugar in medium bowl. cut in the butter with a pastry blender or using 2 knives, until the mixture resembles course crumbs. stir in oats and walnuts.

reserve one cup of the crumb mixture. press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. bake for 15 minutes. beat softened cream cheese with remaining 1/2 cup sugar and eggs. add vanilla, bourbon, pumpkin and spice and beat until well blended. pour over crust and sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture and if desired, with a handful of butterscotch or chocolate chips (i left these out).

bake 25 minutes. cool for 10 min and then use foil to transfer from the pan to a wire rack. cool completely.

makes 15 bars.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

gâteau moelleux au chocolat

Gâteau moelleux au chocolat, or melt-in-your-mouth chocolate cake, is an almost-flourless decadent treat. It is very simple, and very well-received. The recipe is perfect as is on chocolate & zucchini. I left my springform pan behind in Geneva with this cake in it, I left it for a friend's picnic in London, I made it for a guitarist I was swooning over, and here I made it for my good friend Greg last weekend after a day of olive harvesting (more on that later). I make it over and over because as I said it's simple and fancy and delicious to the last crumb. Bon appétit ! x


200 gr (2 sticks minus 1 tbsp) unsalted butter
200 gr (7 oz) best quality dark chocolate
200 gr (1 cup) sugar
4 eggs
a rounded tbsp flour

cake is best made ahead of time, up to a day ahead.

preheat oven to 350 degrees F. grease or line an 8-inch round cake pan with parchment paper.

melt butter and chocolate over a double broiler, stirring until smooth. transfer to a medium mixing bowl and add sugar. stir with a wooden spoon and let cool slightly. add in eggs one at a time mixing after each addition. finally add flour and mix well.

pour into pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until center is set but still a little wobbly. turn off oven but leave inside for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely on rack. cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate and take out an hour before serving.

Monday, November 15, 2010

chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting

Fancy dark chocolate cupcakes. This is THE recipe for big chocolate flavor and a creamy vanilla- speckled frosting. Appropriately titled "rediscovering chocolate cupcakes" in Cook's Illustrated's American Classics issue (2009). Quality ingredients and a little more kitchen time go a long way in producing a dozen precious flawless cakes. Made with friend and fellow cupcake-lover Stacy, these were very much enjoyed by all of us, as shown below.

for the dark chocolate cupcakes:

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream

Heat oven to 350 degrees F and line muffin tin.

Combine butter, chocolate and cocoa in a medium bowl and place over saucepan with just simmering water. Whisk until smooth and remove from heat. Set aside to cool slightly.

Whisk flour, baking soda and baking powder in a small bowl to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs to combine; add sugar, vanilla and salt and whisk until fully incorporated. Add chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Sift about 1/3 of the flour mixture into the chocolate, whisk until combined, whisk in sour cream until combined, then whisk in the remaining flour until homogenous and thick.

Divide batter evenly and bake 18-20 minutes, or until skewer inserted in middle of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then carefully transfer each cake to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

for the vanilla bean buttercream:

10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
pinch salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (can omit vanilla bean and increase extract to 1 1/2 tsp)
1 tbsp heavy cream

Beat butter for about 20 seconds at medium-high speed (preferably using a stand mixer). Using a paring knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean into butter and beat about 15 seconds. Add sifted confectioners' sugar and salt and beat at medium low for about 45 seconds. Scrape down bowl and beat for at medium speed for 15 seconds until fully combined. Scrape bowl again, add vanilla extract and heavy cream, and beat another 10 seconds until incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.

To frost, mound 2 tablespoons icing on center of cupcake. Using a small spatula or butter knife, spread icing to edge of cupcake, leaving slight mound in center. If desired, decorate with fresh raspberries, chocolate candies, or chocolate sprinkles.

Makes 12 frosted cupcakes.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

neiman marcus cookies

These cookies are big, loaded with chocolate chips, and soft thanks to all the brown sugar. This chocolate chip cookie recipe is from neiman marcus, one that has and will remain in fashion! xx

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Grease or line baking sheet with parchment paper. Cream butter with sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well.

In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat into the butter mixture until just combined, then stir in the espresso powder and chocolate chips.

Drop dough by 2 tablespoon measure (or 1 ounce scoop) onto sheet, about 3 inches apart. Gently press dough with the back of a spoon to form 2-inch circles. Bake for 20 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 24.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

vegan pumpkin bread

what I love about baking without animal products is how natural and wholesome it feels. there is a different level of goodness in plant-based recipes, even if they are cakes. this pumpkin bread stays moist for days, and it makes two loaves so you can give one away as a gift, or wrap one up and freeze. the recipe is adapted from joy the baker, who uses walnuts. I used pecans but either one of your preference would go perfectly. Enjoy!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour (or just use all-purpose)
2 cups brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1 15oz can pumpkin purée (just under 2 cups)
1 cup vegetable oil (I used safflower)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup water
1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)

preheat oven to 350 degrees F. grease and flour 2 loaf pans and set aside.

in a large bowl wisk together flours, sugars, baking powder and soda, salt and spices. in a medium bowl, carefully wisk together the pumpkin, oil, maple syrup and water.

add the wet ingredients to the dry and use a spatula fold ingredients together, scraping the sides to mix in all stray bits of flour. fold in most of the nuts, reserving a portion for sprinkling on top.

divide the batter among the two greased pans and sprinkle remaining nuts. bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle of bread comes out clean. remove from oven and let rest in pan for 20 minutes, then invert on to a rack. Serve warm.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

banana bread

This recipe is from my mum, the one she's always made. It dates back from her seventh grade cooking class! We always stuff it with nuts and chocolate chips.

1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup mashed bananas (2-3 bananas)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts and/or chocolate chips (more or less as desired)

preheat oven to 350 degrees F. cream together butter and sugar. add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. stir in mashed banana. combine flour, salt and baking soda. add the dry ingredients, alternating with milk (in thirds, mixing each time until just incorporated). bake in wax paper-lined loaf pan for 1 hour, then turn out onto rack to cool. wrap in foil. better to slice on second day-- otherwise it looks like this!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

cocoa fudge cookies

Recipe via baking bites, an original of Alice Medrich. These cookies are soft, have a deep chocolate flavor, but are not too sweet or heavy. I threw in some chopped milk chocolate instead of the cherries, but are delicious just as is.

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
7 tbsp cocoa powder (I used Dutch process but natural is fine)
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup optional dried tart cherries (or mini chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper.
Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in cocoa powder and sugars- mixture will resemble course sand. Add yogurt and vanilla, stirring to combine. Add flour mixture and stir until just incorporated. Stir in cherries.
Drop by tablespoons onto baking sheet 2 inches apart and press down lightly. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until almost set. Leave on pan for a few minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool. Makes 2 dozen.

Friday, June 25, 2010

black-bottom cupcakes

Recipe via Rachael Ray magazine. These cupcakes are rich, have a sweet filling as well as surprise chocolate chips sunken inside. This post is dedicated to my friend Michelle because I made them for her birthday and she asked for the recipe. Finally, here it is! xoxo.

8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
salt, see below
1 egg
6 oz semisweet chocolate chips
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp natural cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup plus 3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pans with baking cups. Beat the cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and 1/8 tsp salt. Add the egg and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips and set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar, 3/4 tsp salt, baking soda and cocoa powder. Add the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract and stir until smooth.
Fill each baking cup 2/3 full with batter and top with a generous tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture. Bake until edges are firm to touch, about 25 minutes. Cool cakes on wire rack. Makes 24.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

black bean brownies

Adapted from 101 cookbooks' recipe, via Ania Catalano. These are soft and dense, but the addition of black beans and no flour create a distinct texture- one that goes surprisingly well in these chocolate brownies. Close friend Shani was eager to try out the recipe, so we made them after she prepared the most delicious Korean meal. Perfect meals include perfect endings!

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups drained black beans
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup instant coffee powder (we used cooled espresso instead)
1/4 tsp sea salt
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups light agave nectar (can sub equal parts honey)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease an 11-by-18-in baking pan or line with parchment paper and lightly grease.
Melt butter and chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave(1 1/2- 2min on high) or very gently over the stove, stirring to complete the melting process. Place beans, 1/2 cup of the walnuts, vanilla extract, and a couple spoonfuls of the chocolate mixture into food processor. Blend about 2 minutes or until smooth, the batter will be thick but the beans should be smooth. The "magic bullet" did a fine job as a food processor.
In a large bowl, combine the melted chocolate mixture, remaining walnuts, coffee, and salt and mix together well.
In a separate bowl beat eggs until light and creamy, about one minute, Add agave nectar and beat well.
Add the bean mixture to the chocolate/ coffee mixture. Stir until blended well. Add the egg mixture, reserving about 1/2 cup (we skipped this step). Mix well and pour into prepared pan. Using an electric mixer, beat remaining 1/2 cup egg mixture until light and fluffy. drizzle over the brownie batter. Use a toothpick to pull the egg mixture through the batter, creating a marbled effect. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the brownies are set. Let cool in the pan completely before cutting into squares. They will be very soft, and refrigeration is recommended.

Makes 45 (2-inch) brownies.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

chocolate cupcakes with milk chocolate sour cream frosting

The recipe via baking bites, these came out moist and chocolaty. The frosting was sweet, a little tangy, and made for some addicting cupcakes! Being almost 3am, I don't think I could have made these without my dear friend Caroline...

for the cupcakes:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup natural cocoa powder (I used Hershey's)
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1 cup coffee, at room temperature
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin with liners. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and cocoa powder. Whisk in the sugar, baking soda and powder, and salt.
In another bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla extract, sour cream, and coffee. Add to dry ingredients and stir until well combined and no streaks of flour remain. Stir in mini chocolate chips, if using.
Divide evenly among cups and bake for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Transfer cupcakes to wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

for the milk chocolate frosting:
6 oz milk chocolate
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2- 2 cups powdered sugar

Over low heat or in the microwave, melt the butter and chocolate. Cool to about room temperature then stir in sour cream, salt and vanilla extract until smooth. Add in 1 cup powdered sugar and mix vigorously (or use an electric mixer). Gradually add sugar until frosting is of desired thickness and spreadable consistency. Frost cakes generously.

Makes 24.

frosted soft sugar cookies

These are just like the generously frosted, super soft sugar cookies found at most supermarkets. I found the recipe raking through google for a copycat recipe, I don't think their brand (Lofthouse) gives out the recipe. I made them for my friend Kelly, and she was thrilled. She's a huge fan of the popular cookies and says "They are exactly the same, but these are better because they're homemade!" Sorry I don't have a source for the recipe.

for the melt-in-your-mouth sugar cookies:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cream of tarter
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cream together the butter, oil, and sugars. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well. In a separate bowl sift together the remaining dry ingredients. Combine with the wet ingredients and mix until fully incorporated. Refrigerate dough or roll into evenly-sized balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Leave on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

for the frosting:
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp half and half (or whole milk)
5 drops food coloring

Beat together all ingredients well, adding milk and food coloring last for desired thickness and color. Frost cooled cookies generously and add decorations as desired.

orange chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache

adapted from baking bites

for the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup natural cocoa powder
1 cup sugar (I used raw)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup oil, such as veggie or canola
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp orange zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin with liners.
In a large bowl sift together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together orange juice, vegetable oil, vanilla, and zest. Pour into dry ingredients and stir until just combined and no streaks of flour remain. Distribute batter evenly into prepared muffin cups. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

for the ganache:
8 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream

Place chocolate in a bowl. Over low heat, bring cream almost to a boil, then pour it over chocolate. Whisk until smooth, then let cool to room temperature to spread onto cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle extra orange zest on top, if desired.

Makes 12.

Friday, June 18, 2010

vegan big bakery cookies

roughly adapted from Cookie Madness' "Urth cafe" cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) Earth Balance or other non-dairy butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
1 tsp almond or vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
1 tbsp water plus 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the vanilla extract, baking soda and salt, beat until evenly distributed. Beat in the egg replacer (flax mixed with water) Stir in flour and almond meal until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate and 1/2 cup chopped nuts if desired.

Shape the dough into 6 equally-sized balls, place on cookie sheet and pat to make 2-inch rounds- cookies will spread. Bake for 18 minutes, turning pan once halfway through bake time. Cool on sheet 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely. Makes 6 big cookies.