Monthly Archives: April 2010

Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

I try not to go grocery shopping or flip through the latest issue of Bon Appétit when I’m hungry (though when am I not hungry, really?). N, however, has taken to borderline torturing me as of late with the most delicious cupcake pictures just before dinner. It sends me into sugar cravings like you wouldn’t believe.

So today we decided to stop looking at pictures (okay – maybe just a few) and make some cupcakes of our own. The most difficult part was choosing what to make. We settled on Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache – a slightly revised version of a recipe from Ming Makes Cupcakes. Word to the wise: do not look at this website if you are hungry.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache (makes 21-24 cupcakes)

Peanut Butter Cupcakes:

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
A pinch of cinnamon
6 tbs (or 3/4 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed (I used a mix of light and dark brown sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 cup milk (I used nonfat, but anything will do)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside. Using a mixer, blend the butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar together. Next, add the vanilla extract and egg. Once incorporated, slowly pour in the milk and flour mixture while still mixing. Add extra milk by the tbs if too dry.

Scoop (since this is a peanut butter batter it may be too thick to pour… not to worry) the batter into your pre-lined cupcake pan. Fill each cup about halfway and put in the oven for 18-20 minutes (or until a test toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean). Set aside to cool.

Chocolate Ganache:

3/4 cups chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Melt chocolate and whipping cream together in a metal bowl over simmering water.

Drizzle over cupcakes and enjoy!

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:: Salted Fudge Brownies ::

I had a realization this morning, right between a couple of big gulps of coffee.

The rise in my chocolate consumption lately directly correlates with the increase of gray skies and cold spring rain.
That’s all the explanation one needs, really. After that chocolate cake I made not too far off in recent memory, I wanted to try something different. Just not so different that it was outside of the chocolate box. I recently had salted caramel ice cream at Molly Moon’s in Wallingford. I was instantly hooked to the salty/sweet contrast. These brownies have a discrete hint of salt- it’s perfect.
Make these a few hours before you know you will be craving them. They take a while to cool. Just a word to the wise.

::: Ingredients :::

·  1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
·  2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
·  1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
·  2 cups sugar
·  3 large eggs
·  1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
·  1 cup all-purpose flour
·  1/2 teaspoon sea salt

::: Directions :::

>> Preheat the oven to 350º. Next, cover a 9 x 9 pan with foil and butter the foil slightly. This will make cutting the brownies at the end a lot easier.

>> In a large saucepan, melt the butter and the unsweetened chocolate on a very low setting and stir occasionally. Once melted together, remove from heat.

>> Whisk together, one at a time until fully combined, the cocoa, sugar, eggs, vanilla and flour. Then, pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle an even layer of sea salt over the top of the batter. Next, take a butter knife and swirl the salt into the batter.

>> Bake on the center rack for 35 min. or until the edges are firm, but the middle slightly soft. Allow brownies to cool for at least an hour at room temperature; place in the refrigerator for an hour. (The waiting is well worth it, I promise.) Once cooled completely, remove the foil from the pan and cut brownies into 16 pieces.

**I found this recipe via www.foodandwine.com

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Cake or Pie? The Best Chocolate Cake

Important life question today folks:

Are you a Cake or a Pie person?

I know, you either have a deep seeded affinity to one and only one, or you enjoy both without extreme sway to either. I, myself, am a cake person. Plain and simple. I would do just about anything for a scrumptious slice of cake.

Your answer to this question says a lot about you as a person. Pie people are complex. Think about a pie, so many crucial components to a good pie. First, the crust. A good pie crust is few and far between. It takes a know-how and talent to pull off a flaky, buttery, delicious crust. And then there’s the filling. Where do you even begin? Cream or fruit pie? Cream pies are beyond me. I’ve never had a good experience with cream pie.
* The only exception to my pie aversion is my Grandma Tessman’s Gooseberry and Blueberry Pie.

Cake on the other hand is simple. Chocolate or vanilla? Definitely always chocolate cake for this girl. The second and only other worry with cake is the frosting. Yes, I love cake, but any great cake can be ruined with over-the-top frosting.
I am simply smitten with cream cheese frosting, cake or not. Or this odd but lip-smacking good frosting.

I found this on the Pioneer Woman Cooks website and decided to give it a whirl. Boy, I am ever so glad I tried this recipe. My sister is thanking me as well, even Nathan reluctantly tried a bite… and then a second, and third. This cake may even be on the dangerous side. You might hurt yourself after the first bite. It may or may not lead you to eat half the pan. So moist, and chocolaty, ah so scrumptious!

Don’t just sit there.
Make this cake!

:: The Best Chocolate Cake. Ever. ::

·  2 cups Flour
·  2 cups Sugar
·  ¼ teaspoons Salt
·  4 Tablespoons (heaping) Cocoa
·  2 sticks Butter
·  1 cup Boiling Water
·  ½ cups Buttermilk
(I didn’t have buttermilk and was in dire need of cake, so I used organic milk and it was just fine!)
·  2 whole Beaten Eggs
·  1 teaspoon Baking Soda
·  1 teaspoon Vanilla

Preparation Instructions

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.

In a saucepan, melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Add the boiling water and allow the chocolate-buttery-goodness mixture to boil for 30 seconds and then cut the heat. Combine with the dry ingredients and let it cool off for a bit.

In a measuring cup, pour the buttermilk, or whatever milk you may have in your fridge, and add beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate/flour mixture. Pour into sheet cake pan (I used a pyrex and while it was extra thick and luscious, I think next time I will split the batter into a couple of pyrex dishes or invest in a sheet cake pan) and bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes. Since I used a much smaller dish I had to cook the cake a lot longer. Not to fret if this happens to you, you can easily check the doneness of the cake with a toothpick into the center. If the toothpick is gooey when you remove it from the cake then throw it back in the oven for a short while.

p.s. My apologies for the lack of photos. The cake was gone before our eyes, it’s THAT good.

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Mom’s Chicken Chili

Don’t get me wrong – I love sharing the kitchen. Nothing beats having two sets of hands when things get busy. But today I have the kitchen to myself. While still technically unfinished (the flooring and painting are next), I’m done waiting for the ribbon cutting. The big “first meal” will have to wait a little bit longer, but I’m ready to get back in there.

So what’s for dinner tonight? That’s easy: my mom’s chicken chili (my partner in crime has an open petition to change the name to something like “white bean and chicken soup” or “french white bean cassoulet” since this dish isn’t what you’d picture a hearty chili to be, but I’ll let you decide what to call it). I’ve always known it to be a family recipe – one that’s been tweaked over the years by each new cook. To me it smells like home. And on a cloudy day like today, I need a warm reminder of home.

Chicken Chili (6-8 servings)

1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs olive oil
3, 15 ounce cans navy/white beans (or 4 1/2 cups pre-soaked and cooked dry beans)
3-4 ounces chicken broth
1 tbs chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1, 4 ounce can mild chillies (or 1 fresh, diced Anaheim chile)
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion and garlic in oil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Drain and rinse beans, add to pot, and cover with chicken broth (I use 4 ounces for soup or 3 ounces for a thicker chili). Add chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Simmer 3 minutes. Incorporate chicken and chillies and let simmer 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve.

This chili is fantastic with some crusty bread and a glass of white wine. The flavors will continue to grow over time, so this is a great do-ahead lunch option for a cold winter week.

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Birthday Wishes

I feel like I keep saying and writing the same thing – the kitchen is still under construction. Though there has been some progress, it’s still too dusty to really cook. Boil water, sure, but prepping for an actual meal at this point would be close to impossible. The utensils and appliances are strewn about the house not to mention the pile of tiling equipment taking up the dining room and spilling onto the kitchen floor. It’s like navigating a ropes course just to pour a bowl of cereal in the morning. Needless to say, it’s been a take-out kind of week. It’s making me ansty.

On to the birthday wishes: today is my sister’s birthday! Since she is the other half of this blog and an amazing person all around, I wanted to surprise her with a cake or something delicious. The best I could do was a store-bought cheesecake at midnight. Oh well – there is always next year. And the year after. And the one after that.

To my beautiful sister: I wish you joy, love and adventure in the year to come.

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