Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Eggnog Cake. Rich and Nutmeggy Delicious!

Yeah, yeah. Oh look! Another baking recipe to do with eggnog. Well, 'tis still the damned season, so suck it up and enjoy. And really -- this is an excellent cake. Really excellent.

Eggnog Cake


1/2 c butter, softened
1 1/2 c sugar
1 1/4 c eggnog (yes, you read that right)
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
dash of nutmeg


1. Preheat oven to 325*. Coat and flour a 9x13-inch baking pan. Or, if you're lazy as hell like I am, line it with foil and then coat the foil. Muahahaha. Fewer dishes to wash for the win!
2. Cream butter. Gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Or you can just be hardcore and stir by hand, which is what I do. Add eggnog 1/2 a cup at a time, stirring or beating (whichever you prefer) after each addition.
3. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt, and add to the eggnog mixture. Throw in the dash of nutmeg. Beat on low until just blended. Or, you know, stir until just blended.
4. Pour into pan and bake for 50 minutes to an hour, or until cake tests done. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing the cake to a wire rack to cool completely. You can glaze the cake with a rum glaze (yummmmm!) or frost it with a cream cheese or vanilla buttercream frosting. Or you can serve it warm with plain or rum whipped cream and/or ice cream. Your choice!

Enjoy, and Happy New Year, you guys!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Moar Pumpkin!

'Tis the season, you know?

The following recipe is one I use quite frequently during the holiday season. The cake is delicious warm with melted butter, whipped cream, or ice cream; it's also good served cold on its own or with whipped cream or ice cream. It also travels pretty well. I've sent it across the country, and it arrived in good shape and didn't taste scary even after the trip. Score!

Pumpkin Cake

2 c sugar
1 c plain or vanilla yogurt
4 large eggs
2 c flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 c pumpkin puree or cooked mashed pumpkin
1/4 c brown sugar to sprinkle on top of the batter before baking

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine wet ingredients (minus pumpkin) in a large mixing bowl; mix well.
2. Add in sugar; stir.
3. Sift remaining dry ingredients into a separate bowl; stir into wet mixture, beating well. (I don't actually sift because I'm laaazy. I just dump it all on top of the wet stuff and stir until it's no longer lumpy, and my cakes turn out just fine. So you can skip the sifting if you want.)
4. Stir in pumpkin puree.
5. Pour into a greased 9x13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle brown sugar on top of batter. Bake at 350° F for 40-50 minutes.

I suppose you could forgo the brown sugar and frost this bad boy with cream cheese frosting, but that seems like it'd be a bit much, you know? So I don't recommend that. Like I said, I like this cake with whipped cream, ice cream, or just on its own. But there's no accounting for taste, so you do as you like. I won't know the difference. Oh no, I won't.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Pumpkiny Goodness

Riiiight. So I had the most awesome friend visit this weekend, and she loooooves pumpkin. She's also one of those people who "only likes plain pancakes." Yeah, I've heard that about a million times before. EVERYONE WHO'S EVER TOLD ME THAT CHANGES THEIR TUNE ONCE THEY'VE TRIED MY PANCAKES. She was totally a good sport about me being an ass about that, and thankfully, the pumpkin pancakes met with her approval. Hooray!

So I thought I'd share the recipe.

Pumpkin Pancakes

Directions and Ingredients:

Gather the ingredients to make your favorite base pancake recipe (the sort that uses about 2 c of dry ingredients, 1 c milk, and 2 eggs). To this recipe, add the following:

1/2 c pumpkin
1/4 c sugar (you can throw in a couple tablespoons more if you'd like sweeter pancakes and a couple-few tablespoons less if you prefer less sweet pancakes -- I'd personally go the less sweet route)
1/3 c plain or vanilla yogurt
1/2 tsp cinnamon (more if you prefer)
1/4 tsp ginger (use a little bit less if you prefer)
a pinch of nutmeg

Mix your pancakes as normal. If the mixture is a little bit too runny, add more yogurt.

Pour batter on the griddle (I usually do a little under 1/4 of a cup of batter for each pancake). Now, pay attention. This is the important part: I tend to like slightly lighter, more golden-brown pancakes for my regular stacks. With these, you have to let them get a little more done. They stick, okay? -- it doesn't matter how nonstick your griddle is. I found this out the hard way, you see. So before you try flipping them, wait until the edges are dry and some of the bubbles forming in the batter take a short moment to fill in when they pop. If you don't, you'll end up with really ugly (but delicious) pancakes. And your houseguest will rag on you for daring to serve her UGLY PANCAKES. o.o She wouldn't be wrong, either.

Serve fresh off the griddle with melted butter and maple syrup. They're also good cold the next day -- with some whipped cream and syrup. Mmm, desserty goodness for breakfast...

Enjoy! And happy holidays to all!

Something Not Cake

Tonight for dinner, we had porcupine balls. My mom used to make these during the cold months when I was a kid. She'd use white rice, garlic salt, ground beef, and Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup. These days, I make them with different ingredients -- it's healthier that way, you know? But they still taste great, and they're still an excellent comfort food. Very filling, too! And they make good leftovers.

Porcupine Balls


1 lb lean ground turkey breast
1 egg
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c minced yellow onion
1/2 c cooked brown rice
2 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
16 oz. creamy tomato soup


1. Preheat oven to 350* F.
2. Saute the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes.
3. Meanwhile, dump the ground turkey, egg, brown rice, and some salt and pepper in a medium mixing bowl. When the garlic and onion are done, add them to the bowl. Use your hands (don't wuss out!) to mix the ingredients together.
4. Mold the mixture into largeish balls and place them in a 9x9-inch pan as you finish them. It's okay if they're all friendly and touch each other. A food orgy is encouraged under these circumstances!
5. Pour half of the creamy tomato soup over the porcupine balls. Cover with foil. (You can poke some holes in the foil. I usually do, but that's because I'm a bit violent and bloodthirsty, and I like stabbing my dinner.)
6. Bake for about an hour.
7. Remove pan from the oven when the hour is up. Take off the foil. The porcupine balls will often end up filling the pan with a lot of juice and fat, which isn't very tasty. I usually drain that off and then cover them with the remaining creamy tomato soup, and then I put the foil back on top. You can throw them back into the oven for another few minutes, but they'll heat the soup through and cool off enough to eat all at the same time if you just let them be for about 5 minutes. That's what I'd do.
8. Serve and enjoy! We had ours with steamed squash and broccoli tonight. Mmmm. And the little bits of rice, turkey, and tomato left on your plate after you've demolished one or two are delicious if you coax them onto a small dinner roll.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

'Tis the Season to Be Noggy...

I made these for my parents last weekend, and they were as excellent as I remembered them being the first time I made them. Neither of my parents likes eggnog, but then, I find that many people don't. It's usually a question of texture, not taste. So even if someone screws up her face at the mention of eggnog pancakes, try to talk her into it anyway. Chances are she'll end up being dead pleased by a plateful of these beauties!

Eggnog Pancakes

(They're perfect for leftover holiday Nog!)

1) Your favorite base pancake recipe. Make as normal, except:

2) Substitute eggnog for the eggs (1/4 c eggnog equals 1 egg, so if your base recipe calls for 2 eggs, use 1/2 c of eggnog instead) and

3) Substitute eggnog for 2/3 of the milk called for in the recipe (so if the recipe calls for 1 c of milk, use 2/3 c eggnog and 1/3 c milk)

4) You may also wish to add an extra pinch of nutmeg to the batter, but don’t overdo it. These pancakes taste better when the flavor is more subtle.

5) If the batter is too thick, add more milk, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, until the batter reaches the desired consistency. You want the batter to be on the thicker side, though. It makes the pancakes fluffier and more deeelicious.

6) When you cook the pancakes, you want them to be on the lighter side. They'll puff and fluff up more than regular pancakes because of the eggy goodness. This is to be expected and encouraged. Feel free to give them a little love as they cook! If you like darker pancakes, go ahead, but be warned that the darker outside will change the flavor and may slightly overpower the eggnoggy centers.

7) Serve in a gorgeous stack, lightly treated with melting butter and gently kissed with maple syrup. Or however it is you like to eat your pancakes. These are moist and flavorful enough that you don't need any window-dressing, but should you choose to add to them, butter and maple syrup don't hurt. You can also serve a stack of these with maple syrup and a dollop of whipped cream. Decadent and delicious!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I could eat these every day...

As we all know, I am ever on the prowl for the perfect pancake. I'm getting closer every time I try out something new or revamp a tried-and-true favorite.

This morning, I made vanilla pancakes. They were very simple and incredibly delicious. They actually, factually melted in my mouth. Truly! I know people say that stuff melts in their mouths, but these pancakes really did. SO GOOD, PEOPLE. So very, very good.

Vanilla Pancakes


Your favorite base pancake recipe and whatever it calls for (I like Bisquick, damn it), enough to make a little over a dozen pancakes - substitute heavy cream for 3/4 of the milk (if the recipe calls for 1 cup of milk, use 3/4 c of heavy cream and 1/4 c milk)
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp vanilla (use a high-quality vanilla, or the taste will be overbearing and fake rather than subtle)


Make the pancake batter according to your recipe's directions, remembering to substitute heavy cream for 3/4ths of the milk called for in your recipe. Add the vanilla and the sugar; whisk until smooth. The batter should be slightly thicker than normal, but it shouldn't be so thick that it won't pour out of a cup and onto the griddle. You can always thin it out with a couple of tablespoons of milk at a time, whisking between each addition to check the consistency.

Pour batter onto griddle. These pancakes will cook a little more slowly than regular pancakes, and they're best when they're only a very light color. I served mine with a dollop of unsweetened coconut rum whipped cream and maple syrup, and they were divine. In fact, they were so good I'm making them again next weekend. Maybe I'll even try throwing a couple of mini morsels in there to see how that works. Heh.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chocolate Sour Cream Pound Cake

I made this on a whim because a friend asked for a chocolate something, but not a chocolate deathlike something. (Chocolate deathlike somethings are a particular favorite of mine.)

I wasn't sure if this would work, but the end product was rich and delicious without being overly chocolatey. I highly recommend it! It would go wondefully well with coffe, a cup of Earl Grey, or a glass of milk, which is how I have mine. Seeing as I don't like the hot beverages, that is.

Chocolate Sour Cream Pound Cake


6 oz high-quality dark chocolate, melted
1/2 c butter, softened
1 1/2 c sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 c flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 c sour cream
1 tsp vanilla

3/4 c chocolate chips OR a glaze made with Godiva liqueur (1/2 c sugar and 1/4 c Godiva; heat sugar and liqueur on the stovetop until they reach a light boil and sugar is dissolved)


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with foil; grease the foil with butter and set aside.
2. Cream butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add melted chocolate, stirring until mixed completely. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. (You can melt the chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave, and if you really wanted to, you can melt the chocolate with the butter. But that will change the texture of the cake. Also, make sure the melted chocolate isn't blazing hot. If it is, your eggs will cook when you add them in, and that? Is gross. GROSS, I SAY. You'll end up with bits of cooked egg white in your cake. DO NOT WANT.)
3. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Alternate adding this dry mixture and the sour cream to the batter. Stir after each addition until the ingredients are just mixed.
4. Add the vanilla. Stir until just blended. Don’t overdo it with the stirring, or your cake will end up dense and rubbery, and nobody wants that.
5. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top of the cake, if you're going the chocolate chip route. If not, skip this step and head directly to step 6. Whee!
6. Pour batter into pan and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool entirely before cutting, and then serve it with dollops of whipped cream and a nice cup of coffee or tea. If you're glazing the cake, now would be the time to make the glaze and pour it over the cake. Mmm, sticky, chocolatey goodness...
7. Enjoy. Lick crumbs off of the plate and table. Taunt others with your cakey goodness.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Taste of Summer

I loved summertime when I was a kid. The heat never really bothered me then. But it sure as hell bothers me now! Probably because I'm half vampire or something.

Regardless, nothing says summer like cool coconut and delicious cherries. And a vanilla coconut ice cream with cherries and chocolate chips says summer like nobody's business! I made this ice cream for the 4th, and we had it with little wedges of lemon blueberry pound cake. So good it was wrong. Both of my parents (who've given me many mixed reviews, usually on the less positive side) for my desserts, loved it. My mom even refused to let my grandma take some of the cake home, and we totally polished off all of the ice cream. Score!

Once you've read the recipe, you know you're gonna want some:

Coconut Vanilla Ice Cream with Cherries and Chocolate Chips


2 eggs
2/3 c sugar
1 c milk
3/4 c light coconut milk
2 c heavy whipping cream
1 tsp high-quality vanilla extract
2/3 to 3/4 c dried cherries (try to use dried cherries that haven't got a lot of preservatives; they'll stay softer when they freeze, and they'll taste better, too)
2/3 to 3/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips (the higher the quality of the chocolate chips, the better the end product!)


1) Mix eggs and sugar together.
2) Add milk, coconut milk, cream, and vanilla. Stir.
3) If you live in fear of salmonella, now is the time to slap this stuff on the stove and bring to a low boil for a few minutes. Pour into a large glass bowl and refrigerate until completely cooled. If you're all intrepid and stuff (or you're using egg substitute), ignore this step and go straight to step 4, you rebel, you!
4) Pour mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to directions. In the last two or so minutes of the freezing process, dump in the cherries and chocolate chips.
5) Remove from ice cream maker and turn out into airtight containers. Snag a spoonful or three as a "taaste test." (Note: the coconut flavor will be stronger and more obvious after about 24 hours in the freezer, yo, so don't worry if you can't taste it at this point.) Finish freezing completely.
6) Serve. Enjoy. Serve some more. Enjoy some more. Makes one quart of summery delicious AWESOME.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I Scream, You Scream...

I've recently returned from a week abroad visiting Most Excellently Good Friends, Indeed. And on my trip, my friend J and I made this completely incredible chocolate orange cinnamon ice cream. To. Die. For. I shit you not!

We started with a base recipe from another friend, who got it from her mom. It's the most perfect vanilla ice cream I've ever had, homemade or otherwise. Really, it's so smooth and rich that it was almost a shame to add to it, but since I can never leave well enough alone and have a mad love of chocolate, orange, and cinnamon together, it had to be done.

So without further ado, I give you:

Chocolate Orange Cinnamon Ice Cream


2 eggs
2/3 c sugar
1 3/4 c milk
2 c heavy whipping cream
6 oz. high-quality dark chocolate (62-70% is best), melted
zest of one large orange
1 tsp cinnamon


1) Melt chocolate. Stir in sugar.
2) Add milk and eggs; mix thoroughly.
3) Add cream; stir.
4) Add orange zest and cinnamon, and stir until mixed completely.
5) Once mixture is completely cooled, pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to directions. Make certain to steal little spoonfuls as the ice cream begins to thicken and freeze. If there's someone else in the room, taunt them as you do so.
6) Remove from ice cream maker and turn out into airtight containers. Finish freezing completely.
7) Serve. Enjoy. Serve some more. Enjoy some more. Makes one quart.

Note: If you're afraid of salmonella (oh noes!), you can always use an egg substitute instead of regular eggs. You can also mix together the sugar, eggs, and cream over medium heat on a stovetop, and then add the melted chocolate as the mixture reaches a low boil. (If you try to melt the chocolate into the cream mixture, you will most likely be left with teeny, tiny granules of chocolate, which will make your end product oddly grainy and kind of ucky. So add only fully melted chocolate to the already heating or boiling cream mixture.) Remove the chocolatey, creamy, eggy mixture from the stove and add the milk, orange zest, and cinnamon. Allow this mixture to cool completely before attempting to freeze it. Be aware, however, that allowing the ice cream base to reach a boil before freezing will change both the flavor and texture slightly. Some will not notice the difference, but for those who do, it won't be quite as good as making this ice cream the dangerous way.

LIVE ON THE EDGE!!! That's all I'm saying.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Orangey Goodness

This is my new specialty cake. I give you:

Orange Chocolate Chip Pound Cake (with Coconut Rum Whipped Cream)

I went trolling the 'nets, and I found a base recipe really close to the one I use for my adapted pound cakes. It's from a bloke named Will Barber, and I found it here. (The one I use makes a larger cake. That's the only difference.)

Anyway, here you go.

Ingredients for cake:

1/2 c butter, softened
1 1/2 c sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 c flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 c sour cream or plain yogurt
1 tsp orange juice
Zest from two large oranges
3/4 c chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with foil; grease the foil with butter and set aside.
2. Cream butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Your batter should now be a rich yellow and slightly thick.
3. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Alternate adding this dry mixture and the sour cream or yogurt to the batter. Stir after each addition until the ingredients are just mixed.
4. Zest two large oranges into batter and squeeze 1 tsp of juice from one of the oranges into the bowl. Stir until just blended.
5. Add the chocolate chips. Don’t overdo it with the stirring, or your cake will end up dense and rubbery, and nobody wants that.
6. Pour batter into pan and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool entirely before cutting, and then serve it with dollops of coconut rum whipped cream on top (recipe below).

For coconut rum whipped cream:

1 c baker’s heavy cream
1 Tbs coconut rum

Pour cream and coconut rum into a chilled glass bowl. Beat on medium-high speed until cream holds stiff peaks. (I highly recommend licking the bowl, the beaters, and the spoon when you’re done.) Refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Building a Better Carmelita

Carmelitas: they are delicious bars of chewy, nutty, chocolatey goodness, and I just made some.

I took this recipe and changed it around a bit so that it better suits my particular tastes. For example, this recipe doesn't call for nuts, but a carmelita cannot, in my opinion, be a carmelita without nuts. Since I'm not a fan of walnuts (too crumbly!) and I think that pecans are too close in flavor to caramel, I decided to use chopped hazelnuts. Those are my favorite nuts anyway, so I'll toss them in just about wherever I can. I'm also not particularly keen on caramel, so I've added a bit of cinnamon to offset its sticky sweetness.

Cinnamon Hazelnut Carmelitas:

crumbly carmelita "crust":
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c quick oats
1 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 c melted butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional - but I like the slight zing that the cinnamon adds)

gooey carmelita middle:
1 1/2 c chocolate chips
1 c chopped hazelnuts
1 c caramel ice cream topping
2 Tbs flour


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13 x 9-inch pan with foil.
2. Combine all ingredients for the crust in a large mixing bowl. Stir until a crumb mixture is formed.
3. Press half of the crumb mixture into the bottom of your 13 x 9-inch pan and bake for 10 minutes.
4. Remove from oven after 10 minutes and immediately sprinkle with chocolate chips and chopped hazelnuts. Drizzle caramel topping over chips and dust with the 2 Tbs of flour (if you skip this bit, the caramel will melt into the top layer of the crust and sort of disappear into it, leaving you with an oddly hard, slightly chewy top layer and no gooey caramel center to speak of. As this would be a tragedy and defeat the purpose of making carmelitas, I wouldn't skip this step...).
5. Top with the remaining crumb mixture (I usually flatten palmfuls of the mixture between my hands and place them on top of the caramel like a jigsaw puzzle).
6. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. Cool and cut into bars. Note: it's easier to cut these suckers into bars if you refrigerate them first.

You can always leave out the cinnamon or hazelnuts, or you can substitute a different kind of nut, should you so desire. I made them exactly to the original recipe the first time, and while those carmelitas turned out well, they weren't very interesting in either their texture or their taste. Hence my need to "build a better carmelita."

I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bring on the Death!

One of my fabulous colleagues just had a birthday (she totally turned 29, y'all; that's my story, and I'm sticking to it!), and she specifically requested Chocolate Strawberry Death. Chocolate *insert flavor* Death is a particular favorite of mine. It tastes like you spent hours and hours and hours slaving over it when the reality is pretty far from the truth. Yeah, there are a few different layers and you have to wait a few hours between at least two of them, but honestly, it's a fairly simple recipe.

The base is something that I got from... Oh, I don't even remember. I think I swiped the recipe from my mom, who got it from some cooking show. That's nice and vague, isn't it? Sorry; that's all I've got. The base was originally the filling for some sort of pie (?), but you didn't use all of it because you end up making more than will fit in a regular pie crust. WASTEFUL! I was not impressed, so I started making various Deaths. I've made all kinds (the orange one didn't turn out very well; I think I used the wrong kind of orange, consarn it), but this is one of the better ones, I think. It's very rich and delicious.


1 1/2 c (8 oz.) chocolate chips or semisweet chocolate (the higher the quality of the chocolate, the better it tastes)
1 1/3 c sugar
1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 c cream
6 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

cream layer:
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1/2 c heavy whipping cream
3/4 c fruit preserves of your choice

ganache layer:
1 1/2 c chocolate chips (or 8 oz of high-quality chocolate)
2/3 c heavy whipping cream (or milk, if you prefer)


1. Preheat oven to 325*F. Put rack in center of oven, and grease a 9 x 13-in. baking dish.
2. Melt chocolate and cream in microwave (or double boiler) until chocolate is just melted; stir until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla; whisk. Stir in flour and salt.
3. Add eggs, two at a time, whisking after each addition. Pour into baking pan.
4. Bake for 55-70 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out with no more than one or two moist crumbs on it. Remove to a rack and cool; store in fridge once it has cooled completely.
5. When the base has cooled, dump mascarpone, heavy whipping cream, and fruit preserves into a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium-high speed until mixure is thick and holds farily stiff peaks. Spread over chocolate base.
6. Melt chocolate chips and cream for ganache in microwave. I recommend going in 30-second increments because you want the chocolate to melt but not be too hot. Once the chocolate is melted, whisk the ganache until it is smooth and glossy. If it's too hot, let it sit and cool off a bit (I usually do the darned dishes at this point, if I haven't already). Spread carefully over the cream layer. If the ganache is too hot, it'll melt the top of the cream and make your Death look kind of yucky.
7. Refrigerate for 5 hours or overnight. Store in the refrigerater.
8. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Also Makes a Good Breakfast

One of my new favorite recipes is Apple Cinnamon Poundcake. I don't make it in a traditional loaf because I prefer to use a 9 x 13 pan. You get more breakfasty-sized pieces that way. Heh. Also, you can glaze the cake when it's done, but I think that that's just a bit too much sweetness. The apples and cinnamon play off each other nicely already, and the cake is already perfectly moist, so you don't really need the stickyness of a glaze to seal in the moisture.

I'm not sure where I found the original pound cake recipe that I use as the base for all of my pound cakes, but it may have been I dunno.

Anyway, here you go:

Apple Cinnamon Poundcake


2/3 c butter, softened
2 c sugar
4 eggs
2 c all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
2/3 c sour cream or vanilla yogurt
1 tsp cinnamon

1 large Granny Smith apple, cut into small chunks (I leave the skin on)
1 Tbs sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon juice (or thereabouts)


1. Preheat oven to 325*F. Coat and flour 9 x 13-in. baking pan.
2. Put apple chunks, 1 Tbs sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tsp lemon juice in a small saucepan. Cook on medium low heat until apple pieces are slightly softened. Note: You can leave out the lemon juice - the apples will get quite juicy on their own - but I quite like the slight tartness that they bring to the bits of apple. It makes a very subtle difference, but the difference is there. Also, feel free to add more or less cinnamon as your palate dictates. You could also toss in a dash of ginger for a little more zing, if you like.
3. Cream butter. Gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 to 7 min. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
4. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and 1 tsp cinnamon, and add alternately with the yogurt or sour cream to the creamed sugar mixture. Beat on low until just blended.
5. Add in apple mixture; stir until just blended.
6. Pour into pan and bake for 1 hr and 15 min or until cake tests done. (You can also make muffins, round cakes, or whatever. Baking time will vary, though.) Cool in pan for 15 min before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Orange Cinnamon Brownies

Right, here we are. I'm a big fan of brownies, and while pretty much nothing beats a plain chocolate brownie, I think that these puppies right here have just become my number-one favorite chocolate sensation ever. Honestly, it's almost wrong how delicious these are. And it was entirely by accident!

I started with the best basic brownie recipe in the world: Wicked Easy Fudge Brownies from I use this recipe all of the time, though I do tend to tweak it a little. For some reason, the brownies usually turn out a bit too sticky, and they're nearly impossible to scrape out of your pan or peel off your foil (I line all of my baking pans with foil; it makes transportation and cleanup so much easier. Yes, I'm that lazy.). So I cut out a little bit of the oil, which seems to help.

This week, I ended up zesting an orange into the batter and adding in a bit of cinnamon. I also threw in a double handful of chocolate chips. I didn't want too many chips in there, though. Too much extra chocolate would have ruined the play between the orange, the cinnamon, and the moist, fudgy brownie. Too many chips would have made biting into the brownie a bit too much work, too. Brownies should be soft and moist and chewy with the occasional chunk of chocolate to provide texture contrast. If I wanted a mouthful of chocolate chips, I'd eat a mouthful of chocolate chips, thanks very much. Not that, you know, I have. o.o

Okay, I have. Frequently. What?!? Like you've never done it?

Anyway, these brownies turned out to be amazing. I was expecting them to be pretty good, but amazing? I may or may not have danced with glee in my kitchen when I "poison-tested" them. (That's what we call taste-testing in my family.) Even if you're not into orange and chocolate, I recommend giving these a try anyway. The cinnamon cuts through the sweetness of the orange and gives it a little bit of heat, particularly at the finish. And if you're not too keen on cinnamon and chocolate, you might still like these. The sweetness of the orange balances out the cinnamon beautifully. Just be careful that you don't use too much cinnamon or too much orange: chocolate is the primary flavor in brownies, and it should stay that way! Everything else is just a slight enhancement to bring out the richness of the chocolate.

Well, it is in my world, anyway...

Adapted Recipe for Orange Cinnamon Brownies:


1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar (I ususally go 1 c brown and 1 c granulated)
3/4 cup cocoa powder (I like Hershey's best, actually)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup minus 1 Tbs vegetable oil
zest from one large orange (I like a slightly stronger, less sweet orange)
2 teaspoons juice from the orange
1/2 c cinnamon
2/3 c dark chocolate chips

1. Melt the butter in a large mixing bowl (I love my microwave! Don't you?). Dump in the rest of the ingredients and stir until the mixture is smooth.

2. Grease a 9 x 13-inch pan and spoon in the batter.

3. Bake the brownies in a preheated 375°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until they're just barely beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. I also use the knife test: one or two moist crumbs are okay, but anything more than that is TOO GOOEY. True story. If they're too gooey, you're never getting them all the way out of that pan!

4. Cool completely before cutting and serving.

5. Eat. Make orgasmic noises as you chew. YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO HELP YOURSELF. I guarantee it.

Welcome to Sugarsville

So here I am, blogging about baking. Please note that I am all about convenience. I think that there are a ton of awesome recipes out there, but I have a few favorites that I use as the basis for all of my flavah ex-per-i-men-tay-shun. I hardly ever come up with anything entirely new on my own; who has the time, and why waste all of those fabulous ingredients flailing around in the kitchen when the masters have already come up with the perfect pound cake or brownie recipes?

Anyway, I bake around once a week, and while I do tend to repeat myself (if it works, don't knock it!), I also like to try out new flavor and texture combinations. I'm all about the whole experience, you see. Texture is as important as flavor, and I like for the things I put in my mouth to have depth. I want whatever's tickling my palate to have a certain... [insert appropriate term here]... if you will. Heh. (If your mind just rolled into the gutter, that's good. Mine's there, too. Hi!) This week I made some seriously awesome orange cinnamon brownies. I'll post the recipe later, and let me tell you: I don't normally wax poetic about the things I've baked, but if I could clone myself and marry me for these brownies, I WOULD. They were that good. True story.

So, yeah. Welcome. Have a sugar fix and enjoy yourself.