Archive for August, 2009

Chocolate Cupcakes

August 31, 2009
Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes

I’ve been on the lookout for a reliable chocolate cupcake recipe and I believe I’ve found it in this recipe. The cupcakes have a tight, moist crumb, and and are chocolaty, but not over the top. The original recipe comes from Food and Wine. I made a few minor changes so I’ll write up the recipe as I made it. I made a different frosting recipe as well and while it was good I think it overpowered the cupcakes. I’d like to try the cupcakes with a plain vanilla frosting and see how the chocolate and vanilla play off one another.

I baked my cupcakes in silicone cupcake molds, which I sprayed with vegetable oil cooking spray. They slipped right out of the molds, but next time I’ll use paper liners. It seems that the batter had nothing to cling to as the cupcakes rose while baking so while they had nice little domes some of them were a bit off center due to slipping around in the cupcake molds.

Chocolate Cupcakes from Food and Wine with changes
4 T. butter ( I used salted)
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. water
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. plus 2 T. cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 t. espresso powder
3/4 t. baking soda
dash of salt
1 large egg
1/4 c. yogurt
1 t. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray silicone cupcake molds with vegetable cooking spray and place on a baking sheet.
Measure vegetable oil and water in a glass measuring cup and add the butter. Warm in the microwave until the butter is almost melted. Set aside.
Into a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda and salt. Add the egg and beat thoroughly. Add the butter mixture and beat thoroughly, scraping the bowl. Add the yogurt and vanilla and beat thoroughly scraping the bowl.
Divide the batter evenly into the prepared cupcake molds and bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean after testing.
Let the cupcakes cool in the molds for 2-3 minutes and then tip them out of the molds to cool completely on a wire rack.

Chocolate Frosting
4 T. butter
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1 t. espresso powder
1.5 c. powdered sugar
2.5 T. milk
1/2 t. vanilla

Melt the butter in a glass mixing bowl. Stir in cocoa and espresso until completely incorporated into the butter. Add 1/2 of the milk and mix, then 1/2 of the powdered sugar and mix. Repeat until all of the milk and powdered sugar are mixed in. Stir in the vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy.

Frost the completely cooled cupcakes.


August 30, 2009

This post is as much for myself as it is for all of you. I enjoy a glass of wine from time to time, and when I indulge I like to know that it’s going to be a worthwhile indulgence. The problem is that I don’t really know anything about wine. Sometimes I stand at the liquor store looking at all of the options and have little idea which bottle to walk out the door with. Yesterday I considered buying a bottle of Pinot Noir, but walked out of the liquor store empty handed because they didn’t have either of the two that I’ve enjoyed in the past and I didn’t want to waste the money on something that I’d end up pouring down the sink or figuring out a way to bake into something.
This morning when I ought to be doing something more productive I’m sitting here at the computer and I stumbled upon this site. There is a plethora of information there and now I feel like I can read up before I head out to purchase a bottle, and hopefully that purchase will be a little more thoughtful and tasty than in the past.
Are there places on the Internet that you’ve found helpful to learn more about wine? If so, I’d love to know about them. Feel free to post links in the comment section.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

August 28, 2009

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

As soon as I tasted these cookies I was pretty sure I had already tried a very similar recipe. Closer inspection revealed that my taste bud memory was accurate.

These are very good peanut cookies. That said I have a few other thoughts about them. I don’t think the chocolate chips added a lot. Yes, you know they’re there but these cookies are all about the peanut butter. The roll in the sugar is sort of pretty and adds a bit of crunch but omitting the milk yields a slightly firmer cookie and a bit more crunch without sacrificing too much to texture.

I would make these again if asked, but left to my own devices I would either make the One Bowl Criss Cross Peanut Butter cookies from Cookie Madness, or my old standby peanut butter cookie recipe that came with my Kitchen Aid mixer years ago.

Today’s recipe came from Smitten Kitchen. Compare them to this recipe from Cookie Madness and you’ll see the similarities.

At stack of cookies

At stack of cookies

Peach Kuchen

August 24, 2009
Peach Kuchen

Peach Kuchen

This dessert is from the archives, and is a recipe I grew up with. I’ve never understood why it’s called peach kuchen. I think that kuchen literally translated means cake, and this definitely isn’t cake. It’s not a particularly attractive dessert but it’s so good. So often the simplest things are. I make this in a 10″ tart pan but all of my relatives use a pie pan.

The original recipe is very vague regarding details such as oven temperature, baking time, amounts of some ingredients and mixing technique, so I’ll fill in some of those details for you. I have a tendency to over do it with the peaches so keep that in mind as you prepare your peaches. The season is so short and I’m usually pretty excited once the tasty peaches start to show up at my grocery store.

Peach Kuchen

2 c. flour

1/4 t. baking powder

1/2 t. salt

2 T. sugar

1/2 c. butter

5-6 peaches, skinned and sliced

1 c. sugar

1/2 t. cinnamon

2 egg yolks

1 c. cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a pie pan or tart pan with non stick spray. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Use a pastry blender to cut in butter until about the size of small peas. The mixture will look very dry. Dump this into the pastry dish and press evenly onto the bottom and up the sides of the pastry dish.

Lay the sliced peaches on top of the pastry. Whisk together 1 c. of sugar and 1/2 t. cinnamon. Sprinkle this on top of the peaches and bake for 15 min.

While the peaches are baking whisk together 2 egg yolks and with 1 c. cream.

Pour this mixture over the peaches and bake for an additional 45 min. or until set.

Lemon Meringue Pie

August 22, 2009
Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie

This lemon meringue pie is almost everything I want a lemon meringue pie to be. The lemon flavor is pronounced and is sweetened with just the right amount of sugar,  the meringue didn’t separate,  and is tall, light, and not too sweet. The filling is firm without being gummy, the crust is flaky, and there is no sogginess. I would give it five stars out five, but for one thing, and it is my fault, not the fault of the recipe. I”m not sure exactly what happened. When I completed beating the egg whites they seemed just right, and then I let them sit while I reheated the filling to make sure it was really hot before putting it in the pie shell. When I put the meringue on top of the filling the texture had changed and I couldn’t make nice peaks with it anymore. I went ahead and used it anyway.

I would definitely make this pie again. It is far, far better than other lemon meringue pies that I’ve made. I have never been happy with my lemon meringue pies. If it weren’t for Anna at Cookie Madness I probably wouldn’t have even bothered to try to make lemon meringue pie again due to previous disappointments, but I’m so glad I tried this. Check out Cookie Madness to see Anna’s recent lemon meringue pie recipes. We’ve been chatting and she’s going to try this version too. I hope she likes it as much as I do!

I found the filling to be slightly tart, but just the right amount of tart. There were extra steps to the meringue, and I think they were worth it. I’m going to make it again sometime to reevaluate that part of the recipe since I mucked it up this time. But, since there is no puddling, and almost no beading to speak of, the extra steps were worth it to me.

The recipe for this pie can be found in The Dessert Bible by Chris Kimball. If you don’t have the book, the recipe is temporarily posted here. Get it while you can, or buy the book.


August 5, 2009

It’s a funny name, but a good basic cookie that I haven’t made in the past 25 years. Once I started making Mrs. Field’s Cinnamon Sugar Butter Cookies there really wasn’t a need for another cinnamon, sugar cookie in the repertoire.  But, the slight twang from the cream of tartar and the crispiness of a snickerdoodle are unique so I decided to revisit them and I’m not sorry I did.

It took me two attempts to make these cookies so that I was happy with them. My first batch tasted great and had crispy edges but once they were completely cooled the crispy edges disappeared. I baked those on my air bake cookie sheets. In case you’re wondering I bake almost all of my cookies on air bake cookie sheets. While these had good flavor I was disappointed in the texture once completely cooled and might not have made them for another 25 years, except that I got a request for “something tasty”, and since I had all of the ingredients for these I decided to try again.

This time I used my flat cookie sheets and made sure to bake them completely. Success!! This time they are crispy with a nice chew and they retained their crispiness and chewiness even after storage in Tupperware.

Another difference between my first attempt and the second is that I didn’t chill the dough the dough the first time, but I did the second time. The last dozen were chilled for about 36 hours and they were the best of all.

Snickerdoodle Cookies


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cream together the following:

1/4 cup (48 grams) shortening

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (170 grams)

1 1/2 c. (300 grams) sugar

Add the following to the creamed mixture and combine completely:

2 large eggs

Sift together: (you don’t really have to sift this, but do be sure to rid the cream of tartar of any lumps)

2 1/4 c. flour (318 grams)

2 t. cream of tartar

1 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

Combine the creamed ingredients and the dry ingredients. Divide the dough equally into three portions, wrap in waxed paper and thoroughly chill the dough.

When the dough is thoroughly chilled divide each third into 12 pieces of dough and form into balls.


Stir together 3 Tablespoons sugar and  1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon.

Roll each ball in the cinnamon sugar topping and place on the parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes. The cookies should puff up and then deflate while in the oven. Cool the cookies on the cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes and then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 36 cookies