Doodle-Pop

I remember sitting in the family room as a kid with my mom while she watched Dynasty and Falcon Crest. My Dad would affectionately refer to the evening soaps as “The Jerk Shows”. Hardly age appropriate programming for me but I always looked forward to those nights. Not because I wanted to find out what Krystle and Alexis were up to, but rather, for the big bowl of homemade popcorn my mom would make. Right before the shows would begin, she’d pop-up a batch of kernels on the stove and then drizzle the crunchy bits with melted butter, and finish it with a generous sprinkling of salt. Next she’d flip the cap off of a bottle of Diet Rite and pour it over ice and we’d head to the TV. To this day when I smell diet pop jumping off of ice cubes, and homemade popcorn cooking on the stove, I think of those evenings.

Continue reading “Doodle-Pop”

Simple Crispy Cookies

CrispyCookies

I’m a simple person and I enjoy simple things, especially simple recipes. It occurred to me that some of the best food has the fewest ingredients. Fresh whipped cream sweetened every so slightly with a bit of sugar. A summer garden tomato sliced thick with a dash of salt. A piece of fresh-baked bread with a pat of butter.

 This recipe is as simple as simple can be, and very delicious. I made these cookies several times over the holidays and have been finding excuses to make them ever since. Even if you don’t like to bake give these a try.
I found the original recipe on Food 52 and modified slightly making them even easier. White chocolate is incredibly sensitive to heat therefore proceed with caution when melting to avoid scorching the chocolate. By using a white chocolate chip  rather than plain white chocolate, the cookies setup faster and they don’t get “gooey” at room temperature. Not having to chop the chocolate is a bonus too. Don’t skimp on the brand of white chocolate chips, use the best you can find to insure great flavor.
Makes about 4 dozen cookies
2 bags (22 oz.)  Ghirardelli White Chocolate chips (or other quality brand)
1 1/2 cup salted, roasted party peanuts
3 1/4 cup Rice Crispy cereal
  • Using a double boiler gently melt the white chocolate chips
  • Remove from the heat and fold in the peanuts
  • Mix in the cereal until combined
  • Using a tablespoon drop the cookies on a lined baking sheet
  • Refrigerate or freeze until set
  • store on the counter in an airtight container
Double Boiler
Double Boiler
 
Melted White Chocolate
Melted White Chocolate

Favorite Brownies

brownies2.jpg

As I bite into this brownie I escape into sweet chocolate bliss. The texture is fudgy yet delicate and the flavor decadent yet not overbearing. I taste each ingredient from the subtle brown sugar to the obvious fleck of kosher salt down to the creaminess of the butter. If only you could smell my kitchen right now; the scent coming from the oven is like a warm hug on a cold day.

I love a good brownie because it satisfies my wicked sweet tooth and has a texture that is a cross between a cookie and a cupcake. I have tried many recipes but most end up slapping me in the face with dense chocolate punch that sticks to the roof of my mouth and I quickly retreat from finishing the square.

This has been my go-to dessert lately and every time I serve a plate of them people go crazy. They are relatively easy to make, freeze well and along with being sturdy enough to transport they make for an all around great dessert. I also appreciate the large 9×13 inch batch size because the typical 8×8 inch batch is never enough.

I found this recipe on David Lebovitz’s website and have only modified it slightly by adding ½ tsp. instant espresso powder and omitting the Altoids. The espresso does not impart coffee flavor but rather adds depth to the chocolate flavors. Finish them by adding sprinkles or a classic dusting of powdered sugar. Enjoy!

More brownies
More brownies

Favorite Brownies – makes 24 – 32 (depending on how large you cut them)

Mise en place
11 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (Trader Joe’s Pound Plus bar minus 10 squares = 11 oz.)
8 ounces unsalted butter, cubed
1 1/4 cup A.P. flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder

  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Line the inside of a 9 by 13-inch pan with foil. Lightly coat the foil with butter.
  • In a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.
  • Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, whisk in both sugars.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in three of the eggs completely, then whisk in the other two along with the vanilla extract.
  • Sprinkle the flour mixture top and using a spatula, gently fold in the dry ingredients until just combined. Do not over mix.
  • Scrape into the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes, add the sprinkles to the top (if using) then bake for another 20 minutes (total baking time is 30 minutes)

Vanilla Buttercreams

Butter cream wedding cake
Butter cream wedding cake

My dear friend Kim was married over Memorial Day weekend and I had the honor of making her wedding cake. My apologies for the poor picture above, I am neither a photographer nor a food stylist. The bottom tier was cocoa cake with creamy peanut butter mousse, middle tier was white velvet cake with chunky peanut butter cup mousse and the top-tier cocoa cake with raspberry mousse. Clearly Kim has fabulous taste :)

While planning the design I quickly realized I misplaced my recipe for buttercream. Although I should know it by heart I hadn’t made it in a while and needed to confirm the proportions. After I found it I realized I needed to digitize it immediately!

Traditional buttercream made with Italian meringue is laborious process however the silky, sweet and creamy texture is worth the work. Although only four ingredients this recipe requires three difficult skills, i.e. whipping egg whites, melting sugar and melting chocolate. If you are not up for the work I’ve included a simple butter cream immediately following. I prefer to flavor butter creams that I use for wedding cakes with white chocolate so as not to disrupt the beautiful ivory color with brown vanilla extract or vanilla beans. After reading this I hope you can appreciate the complexity of real butter.

Each recipe makes enough to frost and fill a 9″ layered cake.

Mise en place
8 oz. egg whites
14 oz. sugar
21 oz. unsalted butter, at room temp
4 oz. white chocolate, chopped
1/4 tsp. salt

  • Melt the white chocolate using a double boiler. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Add the sugar to a sauce pan and add enough water to dampen the sugar. Bring to a boil and boil until the sugar reaches 240 degrees (soft ball stage).
  • place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk until frothy. Slowly pour in the 240 degree sugar.
  • Whip the whites and sugar on high until stiff peaks form and the meringue has cooled completely. Add a pinch of salt.
  • Turn the mixer down to medium and slowly add the butter trying not to break the emulsion.
  • After all of the butter has been added switch to a paddle attachment and turn the mixer on low. Add the white chocolate and let the mixer run on low until the frosting is silky smooth.

Simple Buttercream
6 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
9 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
1 – 2 Tbsp. of heavy cream, room temp (optional)

  • Using the paddle attachment mix half of the powdered sugar with the butter until combined.
  • Reduce the speed and gradually add the remaining sure about 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well between each addition.
  • Add the salt and vanilla and mix on high until light and fluffy.
  • If the frosting seems too thick to spread add the heavy cream as needed.

Creamy Chocolate Frosting

Chocolate Frosting
Chocolate Frosting

This frosting is dangerous! So simple to make and with the texture of silk and rich chocolate flavor you are sure to eat more than you want. I love the consistency of store-bought tub frosting but I don’t like the processed taste. Problem solved with this recipe. I wrote it down while watching an episode of America’s Test Kitchen and have been making it since. If you don’t have a food processor I think a mixer would work but be sure to sift the cocoa and powdered sugar before you add them to the mix.

Chocolate Frosting - Top View
Chocolate Frosting - Top View

The cupcakes in the images above are a modified version of this recipe using a yellow cake mix with vanilla pudding and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Frosting – Mise en place
2 1/2 sticks of room temp. unsalted butter
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
pinch of salt
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
8 oz. milk chocolate, melted and cooled slightly (Dark chocolate can also be used)

  • In a food processor with the blade attachment, pulse the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt until smooth, scraping the sides as needed.
  • Add the corn syrup and vanilla and process until just combined. Scrape the sides.
  • Add the melted chocolate and pulse until smooth and creamy.

Enjoy and share your comments. I’d love to hear what you think.

1 Recipe, 3 Different Cakes

Pistachio Cream Cake
My husband's birthday cake - pistachio cream

I love to bake but sometimes I don’t have the time or energy to make a cake from scratch. My dear friend Gretchen introduced me to the recipe for Triple Chocolate Cake. Although it uses a box cake mix, the from-scratch flavor is sure to please your guests and the simple recipe will please you.

The original recipe is a chocolate bundt cake but the flavors can easily be switched out as I have done with the Pistachio Cream version. Below I listed three different versions but there are as many possibilities as there are pudding flavors. Get Creative!

Mise en Place

The Original – Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake
1 pkg. chocolate cake mix
1 bag of chocolate chips
1 – 3.4 oz. box of instant chocolate pudding
4 eggs
1/2 c. warm water
1/4 c. canola oil
1/2 c. sour cream
Powdered sugar to garnish

Reverse Original – White Chocolate
1 pkg. white cake mix
1 bag of white-chocolate chips
1 – 3.4 oz. box of instant white-chocolate pudding
4 eggs
1/2 c. warm water
1/4 c. canola il
1/2 c. sour cream
Cocoa powder to garnish

Pistachio Cream
1 pkg. white cake mix
1 small 3.4 oz. box of instant pistachio pudding
4 eggs
1/2 c. warm water
1/4 c. canola oil
1/2 c. sour cream
Crushed Pistachios for garnish
Cream cheese frosting recipe 

  • Preheat the oven to the temperature specified on the cake mix.
  • Traditionally the chocolate version is made in a bundt pan but as the picture shows, I have successfully baked it in round pans as well. Spray your bundt pan with non-stick spray, or spray your round pans (lining the bottom w/ parchment rounds) with non-stick spray.
  • In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients and then add the wet ingredients. Beat with an electric mixer for the same amount of time as specified on the cake box instruction.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips (if using) and pour into a greased bunt pan.
  • Bake for 45-60 minutes just until done. You can do the toothpick test but be careful as it may not come out clean b/c of the melted chocolate chips.
  • When it comes out of the oven let it sit for about 5 minutes, then flip it onto a plate.
  • After it is cooled COMPLETELY you can either dust it with powdered sugar/cocoa for a garnish or frost with your favorite frosting. With the pistachio version I like to frost it with cream cheese frosting and garnish with the chopped nuts.