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 Foodnetwork.com. 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 kingarthurflour.com. 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.