Saturday, March 20, 2010

Heeere's Mukmuk!

This is Mukmuk. Not the Vancouver Island marmot who is the official sidekick to the official mascots of the Vancouver Winter Olympics, but Rebecca and Bob's Mukmuk, who now has the "real" name of Dexter Henry Wieman.

March's Cupcake of the Month: Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes

In an effort to actually make March's Cupcake of the Month in the month of March I sought out what I thought would be the simplest recipe in Martha Stewart's Cupcakes: 175 Inspired Ideas for Everyone's Favorite Treat. It only requires 4 ingredients and, ostensibly, 3 steps.

Like last time, the recipe below halves the recipe in the book. The book says these cupcakes are best eaten the same day they are baked, and we certainly couldn't (or at least shouldn't) consume 22 of these in one day. This halved recipe easily yielded 12. But as David put together his second helping using two cupcakes, a quarter cup of hot fudge, and about three times the ice cream pictured above he said, "These are pretty insubstantial on their own."

Indeed, these hollow shells of chocolatey goodness do indeed yearn to be filled. I filled mine with hot fudge, ice cream, and vanilla infused strawberries.

Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes: 175 Inspired Ideas for Everyone's Favorite Treat


  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or 3/4 C semisweet chocolate chips)
  • 3 large eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • Ice cream for serving (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 275. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Melt butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water. Stir to combine, then remove bowl from heat and let cool slightly. Whisk in egg yolks.

2. With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until peaks are stiff and glossy but not dry (do not overbeat). Whisk one quarter of the beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture to lighten; gently fold mixture into remaining whites.

3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cupcakes are just set in the centers, about 25 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes (their centers will sink). Cupcakes are best eaten the same day they are baked; keep at room temperature until ready to serve, topped with scoops of ice cream if desired.

Previous Cupcakes of the Month:
January's Cupcake of the Month: Streusel Cupcakes
February's Cupcake of the Month: Martha's Meyer Lemon Cupcakes

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Blueberry Stuffed French Toast

We had a wee brunch at our house the other day. I didn't have the time or energy to put on my usual insane spread. So I opted for some simple easy to prepare in advance dishes, like Blueberry Stuffed French Toast, a recipe I received in a gift basket of blueberry foodstuffs from the Stonewall Kitchen. The independent panel of taste testers who were my brunch guests gave this dish high praise. Thanks, Mom & Ed!
Blueberry Stuffed French Toast adapted from The Stonewall Kitchen

  • 1 loaf French bread cut into 1" cubes (approximately 5 cups)
  • 8 oz. (1 package) cream cheese, cut into 1" cubes
  • 1/2 C fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 C Stonewall Kitchen Wild Maine Blueberry Jam
  • 6 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/3 C maple syrup
  • 1 C milk

1. Grease a deep-dish pie pan (I used a Pyrex casserole dish). Place half the French bread cubes in the bottom of the prepared dish.

2. Equally distribute the cream cheese cubes, fresh blueberries, and Wild Maine Blueberry Jam over the top of the bread cubes. Top with the remaining bread cubes.

3. In a medium size bowl combine the eggs, maple syrup, and milk. Whisk until uniform. Pour over bread mixture. Place in refrigerator several hours or preferably overnight.

4. Preheat oven to 350. Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake approximately 15-30 minutes more, or until the casserole is set and the top is golden. Serve the casserole hot with more maple syrup.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

February's Cupcake of the Month: Martha's Meyer Lemon Cupcakes

I was torn between this recipe and Lemon Meringue Cupcakes. I even seriously contemplated buying a kitchen torch. But then Tina's comment on the Streusel Cupcakes post led me to Jenny's Friends Who Bake blog, which documented their success with Martha's Meyer Lemon Cupcakes. I was particularly excited to hear their success with halving the recipe as the standard recipe yields 42 cupcakes, which is a bit much, even for me. This recipe yielded 18 standard cupcakes.

'Tis the season for copious amounts of usufruct lemons in this neck of the woods. The lemon curd recipe below is also halved, but really, you could make vats of this stuff and you will find a use for it. In fact, I'm tempted to make another Spanish Lemon Cake, if I can wrangle up sufficient Spaniards.

I was a tad concerned about the book's note that "Filled cupcakes can be kept at room temperature up to one hour (or refrigerated for a few hours more) before serving." One hour? For a recipe that yields 42 cupcakes? Jeez. Tina over at Friends Who Bake reported that she left some cupcakes unrefrigerated overnight and they still tasted fresh in the morning and she had a few in the fridge after 24 hours and thought that they tasted even better. Phew! I left mine about 12 hours on the counter after filling and they were wonderful according to a panel of independent taste testers.

In the photo above you may notice that my curd didn't make perfectly circular puddles on top like the pictures in the book and the pictures over at Friends Who Bake. I think my problem was that I made the curd way in advance and did not stir it up before putting it in the pastry bag. But they tasted awesome anyway.

Martha's Meyer Lemon Cupcakes adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes: 175 Inspired Ideas for Everyone's Favorite Treat


  • 1 3/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 T finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1 C less 2 T (a.k.a. 14 T - halving recipes is hard) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature (the original recipe called for 7 eggs - I erred on the side of 1/2 an egg too many)
  • 1/2 t pure vanilla extract
  • confectioners' sugar for dusting

Lemon Curd

  • 1 whole egg
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/3 C lemon juice
  • 1 T unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature

1. Make the lemon curd at least two hours if not two days in advance. Combine whole eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and lemon juice in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. Add butter, a few pieces at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition. Strain through a fine sieve into another bowl, and cover with parchment paper or plastic wrap, pressing it directly on surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and firm, at least two hours (or up to two days).

2. Preheat oven to 325. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, zest, baking powder, and salt.

3. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in cream cheese. Reduce speed to low. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in lemon juice and vanilla. Add flour mixture in three batches, beating until just combined after each.

4. Fill each lined cup three-quarters full with batter. Bake, rotating halfway through, about 28 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

5. To finish, dust cupcakes with confectioners' sugar. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a coupler an a medium round tip (#8) with curd. Insert tip into top of each cupcake and squeeze some curd below top to fill the inside, then lift the tip and squeeze more curd in a pool on top. Filled cupcakes can be kept at room temperature up to one hour (or refrigerated for a few hours more) before serving.

Previous Cupcake of the Month:
January's Cupcake of the Month: Streusel Cupcakes

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

Another lazy tea - Blondies

A late night of teaching meant I needed another fast recipe. I made this Blondie recipe from Smitten Kitchen, which is from Mark Bittman.

I also doubled the recipe. I used light brown sugar (I think that dark would have been too strong.) My addition was a bag of Heath toffee chips. These were awesome and I don't usually even like Blondies. I baked them for about 35 minutes. In my oven, they could have used another 5 minutes, I think. But, they all got eaten, so they weren't too bad.

My only problem with this recipe was that they stuck to the pan. I thought that I was being clever by melting the butter in my baking dish and greasing the pan that way, but apparently, it wasn't a thick enough coating. Next time, I would line the bottom with parchment.

Sour Cream Pound Cake

I've been feeling lazy when it comes to making treats for the Friday Math Tea so instead of batches of cookies, I opted for a single cake. This pound cake is delicious. In fact, back in my 4-H days it won reserve champion, which was unheard of for an uniced caked.

From tea pictures 35

I'm not sure where the recipe originated. My mom has it in her hand written recipe book with no attribution.

Sour Cream Pound Cake

2 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup butter
6 eggs
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating after after each. Stir flour, soda and salt together. Add to mixture, alternating with sour cream. Add extracts and blend. Pour into a greased and floured 10 inch tube pan. Bake for 1.5 hours. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Cool out of the pan before dusting with powdered sugar.

This cake keeps well. But, it didn't last long at the tea.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

March's Cookie of the Month: Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

As my great cookie adventure started with the New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe, it seems only fair to test drive The Ultimate Chocolate Cookie Book's recipe for Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies.
According to the previously lauded handy little icon in the top corner of the recipe, the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies are intended to be crunchy, which is in keeping with the authors' professed bias towards crunchy cookies. This differs from the intent of the NYTCCC recipe, which aims for three distinct textures.

“First there’s the crunchy outside inch or so,” [City Bakery's Maury Rubin] said. A nibble revealed a crackle to the bite and a distinct flavor of butter and caramel. “Then there’s the center, which is soft.” A bull’s-eye the size of a half-dollar yielded easily.

“But the real magic,” he added, “is the one-and-a-half-inch ring between them where the two textures and all the flavors mix.”
Now whether it was by design or by user error, the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies I produced had a slightly crunchy perimeter, but the rest of the cookie was distinctly chewy. Mind you, I modified the recipe's simple instruction, "Drop by rounded tablespoons . . . ." Instead, like I make my NYTCCCs, I rolled the dough into balls. For the first batch I made golf ball sized balls, like I do for NYTCCCs, but these spread so much I got a solid sheet of (super yummy) cookie instead of individual cookies. So for the rest I stuck to a true tablespoon and rolled them into balls. They ended up perfectly round and didn't ooze into one another.

One of the tricks of the NYTCCCs is to let the dough rest for 24 hours or more in the fridge. The Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies do not have such complex requirements. The authors do offer a variation (which is another neat thing about The Ultimate Chocolate Cookie Book, which I'll talk about more later) for cakier cookies which suggests refrigerating the dough for 2 hours and rolling tablespoonfuls into balls. Out of necessity (which is the mother of invention, because sometimes mothers get interrupted) after baking my first batch, I refrigerated the rest of the dough and baked it the next day. In the pictures the cookie on the right was from that first batch and the cookie on the left was from the later batches. The later batches were thicker and browner, but tasted just as awesome.

Not pictured is an alternative cookie I made with the same dough but substituting 1 1/3 cup Heath Bits O' Brickle Toffee bits and 2/3 cup chopped walnuts for the chocolate chips. I did this because when I measured my Ghiradelli 60% cacao chips I discovered that one bag was less than 3 cups. The authors provide a "Customize It!" section at the end of almost every recipe. As mentioned above, sometimes it's just a preparation suggestion, like letting the dough rest 2 hours in the fridge for cakier cookies. Sometimes, it's a more significant suggestion, like after the recipe for Chocolate Cream Cheese Refrigerator Cookies the authors suggest using them as the cookie part of Chocolate Cream Sandwich Cookies, which might be a good way to go if you have trouble with the cookie part of the Chocolate Cream Sandwich Cookies shattering. But most often it's a substitution suggestion. At the end of the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies the "Customize It!" section provides a long list of substitutions including Heath bar bits and chopped walnuts. This turned out to be an awesome option when I ran short of chocolate chips, because the toffee bits and walnuts go SO well with this buttery caramelly dough.

So the real question is did I prefer the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies to the NYTCCCs. I've got to say, I feel like I've staked some sort of reputation on my NYTCCCs, and they do result in a tripartite consistency that is truly awesome. In terms of flavor, I think the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies are as good as NYTCCCs. Perhaps more importantly, the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies are simpler. No need to keep cake flour, bread flour, and sea salt on hand. No need to commit to at least a 24 hour waiting period (I found 48 hours was even better, with the NYTCCCs). With the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies you get the same buttery caramelly flavor without the wait and the slightly exotic pantry items. I am a big fan of the NYTCCCs tripartite consistency, so I think I'll still save that recipe for special occasions. But for every day chocolate chip cookies, the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies have won me over.

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies adapted from The Ultimate Chocolate Cookie Book: From Chocolate Melties to Whoopie Pies, Chocolate Biscotti to Black and Whites, with Dozens of Chocolate Chip Cookies and Hundreds More by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough


  • 2 1/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 lb. (2 sticks) cool, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/3 C packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 3 C semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (I used my Ghiradelli 60% cacao chips that I discovered in the process of perfecting the NYTCCC)


1. Position the racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven; preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk (I sifted) the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl until uniform; set aside.

2. Soften the butter in a large bowl, using an electric mixer at medium speed, about 1 minute. Add both sugars and continue beating until light and airy, if still a bit grainy, a little more than 1 minute. Beat in the eggs one at a time, thoroughly beating in the first before adding the second. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat in the vanilla.

3. Mix in the prepared flour mixture just until moistened. The batter should be firm but not sticky. Mix in the chocolate chips just until evenly distributed. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and place them onto two ungreased baking sheets, preferably nonstick, spacing the balls about 1 1/2 inches apart.

4. Bake for 6 minutes, then switch the sheets top to bottom and back to front. Continue baking for about 6 minutes more, or until the cookies are lightly browned at the edges, set yet soft when touched. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Cool the baking sheets for 5 minutes before baking additional batches.

Previous Cookies of the Month:
January's Cookie of the Month: Soft Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
February's Cookie of the Month: Chocolate Cream Sandwich Cookies

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