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Best One Bowl Cocoa Brownies & Why You Shouldn’t Feel Sorry For My Daughter

Best One Bowl Cocoa Brownies & Why You Shouldn’t Feel Sorry For My Daughter 

Best One Bowl Cocoa Brownies -P

Tater likes to stand on her red stool to help me cook. She’s sloppily mixing the cocoa into the batter when she looks up at me, “Mom, Did you know some people don’t even have houses?”

“Yes, honey. I know.”

“Well, that makes me SUPER lucky. Because I have two houses.”

I smile all the way through to my guts. When you’re a divorced parent, the impact it could have on your kids keeps you up at night, follows you around all day, and seeps into every conversation you have with them.

“And some people don’t have moms. And some people don’t have dads. And I have a mom AND a dad!” She starts to count this on her fingers, one for mom, one for dad, “And I have two houses” two more fingers go up. He tiny little almost-five-year-old hand is holding up four fingers. She’s showing me how lucky she is, but all I can see is how lucky I am.

tater brownies

I worked with kids in Los Angeles for nearly a decade. Probation and foster kids who didn’t have enough pieces of parents to make a whole one. Birthdays went forgotten, homework didn’t matter, graduations lost, Christmas morning might only include a hastily wrapped donated present, clothes rarely fit well, most kids never knew what love really felt like. I think of these kids when people tell me they feel sorry for my daughter.

I image a middle aged, upper income, white man bending down to a talk to a foster kids about this. A kid that has never had a birthday party, never woken up on Christmas morning to a stack of presents, a kid who has never heard, “how was your day?” as they walk in from school, a kid that doesn’t know what a relationship with a parent is supposed to look like. I image this man trying to tell that kid how sad it is that my daughter is loved by two parents, has two rooms filed with toys. My daughter who has both parents planning a big birthday party for her. My daughter who hears “I love you” every single day from one or both of her parents. I imagine the confusion on the kids face when they try to understand why this is sad, just because those two loving parents live in different houses.

too many houses

You could tell those kids how sorry you feel for my daughter. Or maybe you can tell the kids who go to bed hungry. Or maybe you can say it to the kids who fall asleep every night listening to their parents scream at each other. But please, don’t tell my daughter that you feel sorry for her, she’ll have no idea why.

Tater

Garlic Beer Cheese Rolls

Ingredients

    For the Dough
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 envelope rapid rise yeast (2 ¼ tsp)
  • 1 tbs white sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup IPA beer
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • For the Filling:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 6 wt oz cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • ½ cup IPA
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated with a microplane
  • ½ tsp salt
  • For the Topping:
  • 3 wt oz cheddar, shredded (about 1 cup)

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, add the flour, yeast, sugar and garlic powder. Mix until combined.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl add the beer. Microwave on high for 20 seconds, test temperature with a cooking thermometer and repeat until temperature reaches between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Add the beer to the stand mixer and mix on medium speed. Once most of the dough has been moistened, add the oil and sprinkle with the salt while the mixer is still running.
  4. Turn speed to high and beat until dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
  5. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, tightly wrap with plastic wrap. Allow to sit in a warm room until doubled in size, about 45 to 60 minutes. Remove from bowl and add to a lightly floured surface. Knead several times, roll out into a rectangle about 10 inches by 18 inches.
  6. Add all of the filling ingredients to a food processor, process until smooth and well combined, about 5 minutes.
  7. Spread the filling evenly across the dough. Starting at the long edge roll the dough into a log. Cut the dough into 8 rolls, each about 2 inches wide. Place cut side down into a baking dish. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese.
  9. Bake uncovered at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown. Serve warm.
https://domesticfits.com/best-one-bowl-cocoa-brownies-why-you-shouldnt-feel-sorry-for-my-daughter/

Best One Bowl Brownies -3

 

Maple Bacon Doughnut Muffins

Maple Bacon Doughnut Muffins via @DomesticFits

After months of waiting, my book is finally available on Amazon. Which is equal parts thrilling and terrifying. I still have momentary panics that everyone will hate it, more of my previously mentioned Too Hard On Myself situation. In spite of the fleeting dread, I’m so grateful that I had this opportunity to work with a publisher that really believes in me and what I’m doing on The Beeroness.

 

The book is released on October 18th, just in time to make a fantastic holiday gift for the those hard to buy for beer lovers. Or for guys, they’re hard to shop for. But "here’s some beer, and a cookbook about beer!" isn’t so bad.

So to celebrate what has been firmly designated a "guys" cookbook (although I disagree, I might as well just go with it) I made some delicious cupcakes with "manly" ingredients. Although bacon is gender neutral, if you don’t agree just try and take a girls bacon and see how that goes for you.

Maple Bacon Doughnut Muffins via @DomesticFits

 

IPA Ceviche Lettuce Wraps

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb raw shrimp, diced
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup lime juice
  • 1 manila mango, peeled and diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced, seeds removed
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • 2/3 cup IPA beer
  • 4 heads endive
  • 1 head radicchio

Directions

  1. Place the shrimp in a small bowl. Cover with ½ cup lime juice and ½ cup lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate until the shrimp have turned pink, about 2 hours.
  2. In a separate bowl combine the remaining ingredients (except the radicchio and the endive), allow to marinate for at least one hour.
  3. Just prior to serving, drain the shrimp, add to the mango bowl and toss to combine.
  4. Scoop a few tablespoons of the ceviche into the leaves of the endive and the radicchio, serve chilled

Notes

For a lower heat level, reduce Sriracha to 1/4 or 1/2 tsp.

https://domesticfits.com/maple-bacon-doughnut-muffins/

 

 

 

Mini Brownie Sundaes

Mini Brownie Sundaes via @DomesticFits

This is another one of my "it’s not a recipe" recipes. Because it’s not, it’s assembly instructions on how to assemble these cute little party desserts.

I made these for the Forth, a huge hit with with the under 5 set, and small enough to be the perfect size for little fingers.

The only thing I would do differently next time is nix the cupcake wrapper. It was too difficult to try and disrobe the mini brownies when they are piled high with ice cream and toppings.

Mini Brownie Sundaes via @DomesticFits

I used my favorite brownie batter, and next time will just liberally spray the mini muffin tins instead of using the cupcake papers. If you want to buy them, most "brownie bites" come sans cupcake wrappers, so you’ll be all set. If you want to make them from scratch, skip the wrappers, use a brownie batter not a cupcake batter (you want to avoid the domed top and hope for a concave one), and let them cool completely before topping with ice cream.

Mini Brownie Sundaes via @DomesticFits

If you have the freezer space, you can make up trays of these in advance and just pull them out when the moment strikes. I used an amazing grilled peach ice cream that I’ll be posting later in the week, but for a classic flavor combo, good ol' vanilla works just fine.

Mini Brownie Sundaes via @DomesticFits

Chocolate Stout and Dulce de Leche Ice Box Pie

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

    For the Crust:
  • 12 graham cracker rectangles
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 4 tbs melted butter
  • For the Chocolate Stout Layer:
  • 1/3 cup stout
  • 1 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (8 wt ounces)
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • For the Dulce de Leche Layer:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbs powdered sugar
  • ½ cup Dulce de Leche
  • Additional Dulce de Leche for serving, if desired.

Directions

  1. In a food processor add the graham crackers and brown sugar, process until reduced to fine crumbs.
  2. While the food processor is running, add the melted butter, process until combined.
  3. Add crust to a 9 inch spring form pan. Using a heavy, flat bottom glass, press very well into the sides and bottom of the pan (starting with the sides), make sure to press very well until the crust is very compacted into the sides and bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the chocolate chips to a small bowl. Heat the stout until very hot (about 170 degrees), pour stout over the chocolate chips, stir until well combined and creamy. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add 1 ½ cups heavy cream and ¼ cup powdered sugar, beat on high until soft peaks form. While the mixer is running, slowly drizzle the cooled chocolate mixture into the mixer. Once it has all been added, turn off the mixer and gently stir until all of the cream and chocolate has been combined an no white streaks or dark chocolate streaks remain. Pour into the crust. Place in the freezer while you work on the Dulce de Leche layer.
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add 1 cup heavy cream and 3 tablespoons powdered sugar. Beat on high until soft peaks form. While the mixer is running, slowly drizzle the Dulce de Leche into the mixer. Once it has all been added, turn off the mixer and gently stir until all of the Dulce de Leche and whipped cream have been combined.
  7. Add the Dulce de Leche cream on top of the chocolate layer, smooth into an even layer.
  8. Freeze until set, about 1 hour. Remove from freezer 10 minute prior to serving and allow to warm slightly before cutting. To remove from pan, run a sharp knife under very hot water, then run the knife between the crust and the side of the spring form pan to release.
  9. Heat remaining Dulce de Leche and drizzle over slices prior to serving.
https://domesticfits.com/mini-ice-cream-sundaes/

 

Mini Brownie Sundaes via @DomesticFits

Matcha Strawberry Shortcakes with Lime Whipped Cream #CAStrawberryShortcakes

Matcha Strawberry Shortcakes with Lime Whipped Cream #CAStrawberryShortcakes

My first official assignment as a Brand Ambassador for California Strawberry Commission was to re-invent the strawberry shortcake.  After a brief stop on the idea of another chocolate strawberry shortcake, and possibly a lemon lavender version, I settled on a matcha version, something I hope is new to you all (I like to feel inventive!), and matcha goes so well with strawberries.

I’ve had Matcha powder (Japanese green tea powder) in the back of my mind for a while,  on my list of foods to bake with. It gives a great contrast of color and flavor to the gorgeous strawberries, if you’re a matcha lover, I think you’ll agree.

I also have a pin contest to tell you all about. It’s a great excuse to spend a little extra time on pinterest while checking out some fantastic strawberry recipes, getting inspired for those summer cook-outs and trying to win some extra cash!

Matcha Strawberry Shortcakes with Lime Whipped Cream #CAStrawberryShortcakes

To enter, follow these steps:

1. Follow CA Strawberries on Pinterest and become a fan of California Strawberries on Facebook for contest updates.
2. Create a "CA Strawberry Shortcakes" contest board on your own Pinterest page.
3. PIN your favorite images from the CA Strawberry Shortcakes board, PLUS your favorite shortcake recipes from Pinterest
4. Include the hashtag #CAStrawberryShortcakes and tag @CAStrawberries with each image you pin so we can find you!
5. Copy the link to your board in the comment section below the contest pin, OR on the California Strawberries contest post in the comments section!

(don’t post it below on this blog post)

Good luck to you all! 

To give you a little inspiration, check out this awesome strawberry shortcake recipe from Muy Bueno Cookbook and Savory Simple!

California Strawberry Shortcake Pinterest Contest

 

Chocolate Stout Cherry Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 pie crust
  • 2 (3.5 ounce) bars 60% chocolate (total 7 weight ounces)
  • 3 tbs unsalted butter, cut into cubes.
  • 2 tbs light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup stout
  • 3 tbs heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 cups pitted dark sweet cherries (such as Bing, about 16 wt ounces pitted)
  • For the Whipped Cream
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbs stout (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Rough out pie dough, transfer to a 9-inch pie pan, trim off excess. Prick several holes in the bottom.
  3. Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes or until a light golden brown. Allow to cool.
  4. Break the chocolate into chunks and add to the top of a double boiler over gently simmering water along with the butter, corn syrup and stout. Stir frequently until the chocolate has melted. Add the cream and stir until completely incorporated. Add the cherries, stir until all of the cherries are well coated. Pour into the crust. Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours and up to 24.
  5. Once the pie has cooled make the whipped cream. Add the heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract (and stout, if using) to a stand mixer. Beat on high until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes.

Notes

Note about chocolate: you can use up to 70%, but the higher the percentage (which indicates the amount of cocoa in the bar) the more bitter the chocolate, therefore the more bitter the pie. If you use a really low cocoa content, like a 30%, the pie may have a harder time setting up because of the lower cocoa content, and higher milk content. I would stay between 55% and 70%.

https://domesticfits.com/matcha-strawberry-shortcakes-with-lime-whipped-cream/

 Matcha Strawberry Shortcakes with Lime Whipped Cream #CAStrawberryShortcakes

Cream Cheese and Jam Crumb Cake

 

Le Creuset Giveaway

In honor of moms everywhere, and the upcoming Mothers Day holiday, I’m hosting some giveaways this week with a Mothers Day brunch theme!

To kick us off is Le Creuset with a gorgeous cake stand (I love cake stands) that is perfect for a cake, pie, cookies, lets be honest, I’d serve roast chicken off this thing, it’s gorgeous! But not just that, we are also throwing in some beautiful French preserves by Bonne Maman. The winner also gets four jars in fabulous flavors like Fig, Strawberry and Golden Mirabelle. I love that these are jams that have simple, honest ingredients, jam like your Grandmother would have made in her own kitchen, with the fruit from her trees.

To celebrate these gorgeous jams, I wanted to give you a recipe that works well with all the great flavors. Of course, I looked to Martha, a woman who is no stranger to French jams. I adapted her amazing crumb cake recipe for the use of these jams, making it three times to get it just right. I love this so much, and I love that it works with all of these fabulous jams.

Cream Cheese and Jam Crumb Cake2

The winner will receive: One cherry red Le Creuset cake stand, four jars of French Bonne Maman preserves, shipped anywhere in the continental USA, you can even have it shipped directly to your mom! Or keep it for yourself, I won’t judge.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Congrats to Whitney! Our winner!

Chocolate Stout Cheesecake Fudgesicle

Yield: Yield: 8 pops

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbs whole milk
  • 1/3 cup stout
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  • 6 standard sized graham crackers
  • 2 tbs melted butter

Directions

  1. In a bowl (or a food processor) mix together the cream cheese, sour cream and powdered sugar until well combined.
  2. Add the milk and stout, stir to combine.
  3. Add the chocolate chips to a microwave safe bowl, microwave on high for 30 seconds, stir and repeat until melted. Pour the chocolate into the cream cheese mixture, stir until combined.
  4. Pour mixture into popsicle molds, leaving about 1 inch of the top empty for the crust (if you don’t have popsicle molds, use small paper cups and popsicle sticks) tap the molds gently on the counter to remove air bubbles.
  5. In a food processor add the graham crackers, process until only crumbs remain.
  6. While food processor is running, add the melted butter in a slow stream until the mixture resembles wet sand.
  7. Divide the crust evenly between the popsicles, press down gently to compact. Insert popsicle sticks, freeze for at least 6 hours and up to 3 days.
https://domesticfits.com/cream-cheese-and-jam-crumb-cake-and-a-le-creuset-giveaway/

Adapted from Martha Stewart New York Crumb Cake

Cream Cheese and Jam Crumb Cake3

 

Mickey Mouse Kids Party Favor Bar

Mickey Mouse Kids Party Favor Bar: cheaper, easier, and better than a candy buffet!

 

Tater turned 3.

I feel like I just typed up her Lets Have A Ball 2nd birthday party post, and now she’s three. To say that "It Goes By So Fast" is like saying a ghost chili is "kind of spicy." I want her to stop growing up so fast, but I love this amazing tiny person she’s turning into.

All she wanted for her birthday was a Mickey Mouse party, save the Princesses for someone else, it’s all about the Mouse for this kid. For the past two years I’ve been making Candy Buffets, which are adorable, but let’s be honest, there are some issues. First: there is always leftover candy and that is no bueno when it comes to my lack of self-control. Second, they are always more expensive than I think. To buy enough candy to fill the cute jars, not to mention getting the coordinating colors you want, it can be up $100 (p.s. that’s too much to spend on candy for a kids party).

Also, most parents don’t get super excited about their kids leaving a party with a gigantic bag of kiddie crack. The favor bar worked out much better, it was cheaper, parents where happier and the leftovers haven’t cause me to gain even an ounce.

Here’s a list of what I bought:

For the banner I used this Red Polka Dot Banner from Oriental Trading for $3, then printed PRIZE BAR (using the free Mickey Ears font) on a regular printer, just glued the letters on using a glue stick. I downloaded FREE Mickey Mouse fonts to use for all the signs and the invitations. Mickey Mouse Kids Party Favor Bar: cheaper, easier, and better than a candy buffet! I also bought Mickey Party Hats and Minnie Ears (both of these are also available at Party City).

Mickey Prize Bar Tater

I bought small 1 ounce bubbles (about this size) really cheap. Because I was going to pull the labels off I bought the Class of 2012 bubbles on sale at a local party store.

Mickey Mouse Prize Bar Bubbles with free printable labels

I made these labels and glued them on with glue stick (I’ve posted the label below without my kids name, but I put her name on one side of the Mickey and is 3! on the other using the free Walter font.

bubbles

For a printable PDF file, click here: bubbles printable

  I also bought 24 small crayon packs for $5.25, because every mom can use some purse crayons. I also bought small Mickey coloring books at Party City for 30 cents each, Tater loves those so the leftovers are great for road trips and hanging at restaurants. I had Mickey Mouse temporary tattoos as well as stickers, that the kids seemed to love. I had some candy, but not a lot. I like the fake M&M’s from Simple Truth (sold at Ralph’s, QFC, Pay Less) because they don’t have any artificial food dyes.

For the bags I used these mini popcorn boxes ($6), hot glued on some yellow ribbon and buttons I had on hand to make really cute Mickey Britches Boxes.

Mickey Prize Bar Mickey Mouse Briches Favor Boxes

All together, the favor bar cost about $32 for 22  kids (about $1.45 per kid) and the kids were able to pick out what they wanted. I had leftovers, but nothing that won’t get used at some point!

I also made the Easiest Mickey Cupcakes Ever, which require zero decorating skills. Not part of the favor bar, but part of the Mickey Party Extravaganza.

The Easiest Mickey Cupcakes Ever zero decorating skills needed!

All you need is chocolate mini muffins (mini cupcakes), red frosting, plus 1 large dark chocolate candy melt, and two chocolate chips (per mini cupcake). Just make sure to press the pointed side down, and you are set. Cute and super simple.

Super Simple Batman Cake with Free Printable Templates

 

 

I have this friend named Aurthur, he just turned 8.

And because he is so awesome, he deserved a really awesome cake. But cakes take forever. Hours longer than anyone who hasn’t attempted novelty cake making really understands. I don’t really have the 18 plus hours that a really awesome cake takes.

But I still wanted to give him a really great cake. So I devised a really easy cake that takes less than 4 hours to make. In the world of cake making, that is practically lightning speed. You can add all of the additional details you want, or just leave it super simple.

Materials:

3 layers of cake (it needs to be a tall cake)

2 layers of filling (I used 2 cups very hot heavy cream, 4 cups chocolate chips, stir until combined. I also added 10 crushed Oreos as requested by the birthday boy)

Lots and lots of buttercream, about 4 to 6 cups (I used 4 sticks soft, room temperature butter, 2 sticks vegetable shortening, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1 lb powdered sugar, beat on high until well combined)

viva paper towel

fondant smoother

Print and cut out these shapes: BatmanBatman BackgroundCallouts

Red, Yellow, Black fondant (you can also buy white fondant and color it as need, it is not hard to do)

Alphabet chocolate molds

yellow candy melts

black ball candies (I used sixlets)

 

First step, bake the cakes. Let cool completely. Make whatever filling you plan to use. I like the fudge, as listed above, or pastry cream. 

You will need to ice it twice. The first ice is called the crumb coat, or the dirty ice because no matter how careful you are, there always seems to be crumbs in the first layer of frosting.

Let that chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes or until the frosting has set.

Add another layer of buttercream and try to smooth out all of the bumps as much as you can doesn’t have to be perfect, we will smooth it more later.

 Chill until the icing has completely set, between 20 minutes and 2 hours.

Once that is done, place a viva paper towel, smooth side down, on top of the cake. Use a fondant smoother to smooth out the rough edges.

 

For the fondant shapes you can either color white fondant, use pre-colored or paint a shape once it’s cut out.

Pre-colored is obviously easiest, but it can get pricey to buy several colors. To color it yourself, just add a small amount of gel food coloring (liquid food coloring will make the fondant too sticky) and knead until evenly distributed. I’m not a fan of food coloring, but I am also not a fan of fondant, so it isn’t an issue, I just don’t eat it either way.

Roll out a golf ball size chunk of fondant. I decided to paint this one black to give it shiny apperance. I used blue fondant that I already had.

Print out this: Batman logo, cut carefully around the symbol. Place fondant on a sheet of parchment paper, place batman symbol on top of the flat fondant.

 

Use a sharp paring knife to cut around the edges.

 

Remove excess fondant.

Paint black, if necessary.  Allow to dry and harden a bit, about 15 minutes.

Roll out a golf ball sized piece of yellow fondant.

Cut out Batman Background, cut around the edges and lay background on the yellow fondant. Cut around the edges with a sharp paring knife.

Using your fingers, moisten the top of the yellow fondant slightly with water.

Transfer the black Batman Logo to the yellow background.

Roll out a piece of red fondant.

Cut out the Callouts and place on the fondant. Use a knife to cut out the shapes.

Add about 1/2 a cup of yellow candy melts to a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for about 30 seconds, stir and repeat until melted.

Add to the alphabet molds, scrape off the excess with t he back of a knife.

Chill in the fridge until set, about 5 minutes. Remove from mold.

Add the shapes to the cake, pressing into the buttercream.

Brush a bit of melted candy melts (re-melt in the microwave if necessary) onto the back of the letters.

Press them into the callouts.

Use the black ball candies to form a border around the bottom of the cake.

Chill until ready to serve.

5 Minute Microwave Berry Cobbler

 

You might hate me for this. Because, to be honest, I sort of hate myself for this. Unlike those Smarmy Mug Cakes, that we have all been desperate enough to attempt at least once in our lives, this is really good. So good, that I even found myself "recipe testing" it about 17 times in the last month.

You can use frozen berries, if you can’t find them fresh. In California, Strawberries are in season almost all year and I nearly always have them in my fridge. But for the sake of "recipe testing" I used frozen ones and found they work just fine. Obviously, the cooking time is longer, and the water content is higher so it is a bit runnier. But it’s fruit. So that makes it almost like health food….right? Right? (Not really)

Sweet Potato Beer Biscuits With Maple Sage Butter

Ingredients

    For the Biscuits:
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2/3 cup beer
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 stick butter, cold, cut into small cubes
  • 1 tbs melted butter
  • For the Butter:
  • 3 tbs butter, room temperature
  • 1 sage leaf, minced
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Pierce the sweet potato all over. Microwave on high until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to work with. Remove and discard skin, add sweet potato to a bowl (should be about 3/4 cup of sweet potato mash).
  3. Add the beer to the sweet potatoes and using a potato masher, stir and mash until completely combined.
  4. In a bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Mix to combine.
  5. Add the butter cubes and using your fingers or a pastry blender, rub the butter into the flour until completely combined.
  6. Add the sweet potato beer mixture and mix until just combined.
  7. Form dough into a ball and place on a lightly floured surface. Form into a square, about 1 1/2 inches high, and about 1 foot long. Cut into square biscuits. Place on a baking sheet covered with a Silpat or parchment paper. Brush with melted butter.
  8. Bake at 425 for 15-18 minutes.
  9. In a small bowl, add the maple syrup ingredients and stir until combined.
  10. Serve biscuits warm, with maple sage butter.
https://domesticfits.com/5-minute-microwave-berry-cobbler/

 

 

Chocolate Coconut Brownies (Vegan!)

To see my Coconut Oat French Toast, click on the picture:


Why would a meat eating cheese monger such as myself want to make something vegan? Several reason, not the least of which are my friends and family who can’t or wont eat dairy. As meat eaters, it is even more important for us to experiment with vegan and vegetarian food and not hang on the crutch of animal products with the exclusion of other foods. We need to have all types of recipes in our arsenals, not just to accommodate those who might be guest at our tables, but in order to discover foods that we didn’t know we loved, because we didn’t think food with "vegan" labels applied to us. In exploring vegan cooking I have discovered what an amazing texture vegetable shorting lends to frosting, how rich and beautiful coconut milk tastes, and how fruit purees can be a flavorful stand in for butter. 

Dairy free baking is something I want to lean towards more. Only using milk products when other substitutions would compromise the overall product, but in many cases vegan substitutions make the end result just as good or even better. Plant based foods just feel better in my body and if the taste of the food isn’t harmed then why would I make any other choice? 

I started exploring dairy free cooking when three friends where coming over for dinner. One was kosher (meat and dairy can not be served together) one was allergic to cow’s milk and the other was breast-feeding a baby who couldn’t have dairy. All three needed a dairy free meal. I realized how much dairy I use. Why? I love plants, produce, vegetables, fruit…why all the milk? 

These brownies where really good. Not just "good for vegan" but just really good. So fudgy and intensely chocolatey, even Tater couldn’t keep her little fingers off them. 

She took a bite and then carefully put it right back where I had place it. So cute, I love that kid. 

Chocolate Coconut Vegan Brownies

1/3 cup coconut oil

1 cup agave nectar 

1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk (can sub coconut milk)

1/3 cup strong coffee*

1 cup cocoa powder

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

1/2 tsp salt

In a bowl, beat together the coconut oil and the agave nectar until well combined. Add the soy milk and coffee and beat again. in a separate bowl, add the cocoa powder, flour, shredded coconut and salt and stir to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined, don’t over mix. 

Spray a 8×8 inch baking dish with cooking spray (or line with parchment paper) and pour bater into prepared pan. 

Bake at 350 for 16-18 minutes. You don’t want to overcook these or they will be too dry. Allow to cool before cutting into. 

For an extra treat, serve warm topped with coconut milk ice cream. 

*Note: Coffee intensifies the flavor of chocolate, with no trace of a coffee taste. If you don’t like coffee, or don’t have a coffee maker, stop by a Starbucks and order a black coffee, use 1/3 of a cup and freeze the rest in ice cube trays for use in future chocolate baking. 


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1 Minute Microwave Cupcake

Microwave mug cakes first cake into my consciousness about 10 years ago through the pre-facebook existence of the email forward. I found them to be completely smarmy, the culinary equivalent of a Jerry Springer episode. My first though was, "Oh, yeah like I need QUICKER ways to get fatter." Email deleted.

But then I found myself in my new place, without the gas turned on yet, but with a new microwave and the urge to celebrate.

I caved.

I made my little family microwave cupcakes to celebrate the move and the fact that I was finally back in a kitchen. Just remember that if you find yourself with unexpected guests and only about 5 minutes to whip up a dessert, this is a viable option.

The secret to making these Smarmy Mug Cakes in cupcake form, is the baking cups. I love the crap out of these things. I always use them to make cupcakes because they are much cuter than the regular cupcake papers, and they don’t need muffin tins, just place them on a baking sheet and fill to half capacity. These were left over from Taters, Lets Have A Ball party and bought them from Sweet Lulu, but you can also buy plain white ones on Amazon. The trick is to only fill them half way.


Smarmy Mug Cake, Cupcake Edition

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

2 tbs butter

1 egg

1 tbs oil

1 tbs milk

1/4 cup sugar

pinch of salt

2 tbs cocoa powder (unsweetened)

2 tbs flour

1/8 tsp baking powder

Frosting:

1/2 cup (4oz) cream cheese

1/4 milk

1/3 cup powdered sugar (plus more if you want it sweeter)

2 tbs cocoa powder

(if you don’t like cream cheese frosting, heat 3 tbs milk or cream in the microwave until steamy, then pour over 1/3 cup chocolate chips, stir until melted. Pour the chocolate sauce over the cupcake. It will be messy, but delicious)

(Makes 3)

In a microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate chips and the butter. Microwave for 20 seconds, stir and repeat until melted.

In a separate bowl, add the egg, oil, milk, sugar and salt and beat with a fork until well combined. Add the melted chocolate and stir again. Sprinkle the cocoa powder, flour and baking powder over the egg mixture and stir again with the fork until well combined.

Distribute equally between three baking cups (standard cupcake papers will not work). I also added 4 chocolate chips to the very center of each cupcake to make a bit of a molten center. Microwave on high for 1 to 1.5 minutes. The "cooking" time will depend largely on the power of your microwave. Mine took 1 minute 15 seconds.

You want to let the cupcake cool a bit because right out of the microwave they are screaming hot. While they cool, make the frosting. Add the milk and the cream cheese to a bowl and beat on high until smooth and creamy. Then add the powdered sugar and the cocoa powder and beat until combined. Add the frosting to a zip lock bag and cut about 1/2 inch off the bottom corner. Pipe the frosting into the cupcake. Serve with a fork.

Eat immediately. Right away. I’m serious.

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Food Craft: Spring Flower Pot Mini Muffins

I like to play with my food. For some reason, it makes me less hungry.

When I got these little suckers from a vendor at work, I had no interest in eating them. But I did want to play with them. Maybe it’s a commentary on how much food we waste in America, or maybe it’s just because candy is pretty, Food Crafts are huge source of entertainment in my world. Although there are many cupcake toppers featured on websites across the land, I’m not a fan of inedible garnishes. Even if I don’t plan to eat it, it seems like you just didn’t try hard enough.

Sure you can print out a pretty flower decal from your home computer, or make a rose out of paper, or a fancy embelishment with ribbons and buttons, but if you can’t eat it what the heck is it doing on my plate?

No one glues plastic googly eyes to a pot roast. Or puts a wizzard hat on a chicken sandwich. Why are completely random acts of craftiness allowed on baked goods?

And paper flag banners on a cake? weird. Why not put a pile of mail on there, or decorative globe? What’s next, filling my plate with bedazzled paper mache vegetables?

Here is my entry for completely edible cupcake garnish, other than the stick, of course.

 

Spring Flower Pot Mini Muffins

Supplies:

12 chocolate mini muffins

12 small suckers (dum dum sized)

18 standard size marshmallows

3 microwave save bowls

1/4 cup white chocolate

1 pair scissors

1/2 cup chocolate chops

1/2 cup chocolate graham crackers (or chocolate Teddy Grahams)

Cut the marshmallows into four to five slices. There are going to be a few that just don’t look right, so cut more than you need. They will curl up a bit, but just push them flat.

There will most likely be one end that is a bit more rounded and one that is a bit pointier.

Cut off a very small amount of the pointed end, about 1/8 of an inch.

Place the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Heat in the microwave on high for 20 seconds, stir and repeat until melted. Don’t over heat or it will seize. Using a butter knife or a spoon, smear a small on the marshmallow petal where you just made the cut.

Press the chocolate side against the sucker, at the base, nearest the stick. 

Repeat for all pedals. You’ll want to put about 5 petals on each flower which will require a bit of overlapping of the pedals. 

Lay flat until the chocolate glue dries. 

Put the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high for 30 seconds, stir and repeat until melted. 

In a food processor, process the graham crackers until nothing is left but crumbs. Transfer crumbs to a bowl. 

One at a time, take the mini muffin and submerge the top in the melted chocolate until completely coated. 

Before the chocolate cools and dries, roll the melted chocolate muffin top around in the graham cracker crumbs. 

Once all the chocolate has dried, plant your candy marshmallow flower in your little mini muffin pot. 

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Bruleed Blood Orange and Ricotta Mini Cheesecakes

That miniature cheesecake pan I have has begun to taunt me from my kitchen.

Reminding me that my previous reasons for not making cheesecake, namely my drive to avoid having an entire huge cheesecake in my fridge, is now void.

Small, adorable cheesecakes and the ability to "test" a recipe without having to deal with an entire HUGE cheesecake.

And I had an unsightly amount of homemade ricotta after deciding that I should not just make one batch, but I really needed to make two because it was so much better than anything I have ever bought in the grocery store.

All willpower was lost once I remembered the blood oranges I had.

And then I began to wonder how that delicious sour cream topping, that you are sometimes lucky enough to find on top of a cheesecake, would taste if you made it with ricotta.

Then I decided that it needed the crunch of a bruleed sugar crust on top.

I really just don’t know when to stop.


Bruleed Blood Orange and Ricotta Miniature Cheesecakes

I used the Chicago Metallics Miniature Cheesecake pan, and this recipe made 12. You can also use a standard muffin tin lined with cupcake papers, this recipe will make about 6. If you want to make a standard sized cheesecake in a spring-form pan, I would suggest that you triple the recipe. 

Crust:

4 standard sized graham crackers (about 3/4 cup crushed)

2 tbs brown sugar

3 tbs melted butter

Cheesecake:

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup ricotta

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tbs orange zest

1/4 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice

Topping:

1/3 cup ricotta

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla

Plus 2 tbs granulated sugar for the brulee crust

Preheat oven to 375.

In a food processor, add the graham crackers and brown sugar, process until nothing is left but crumbs. Add the butter and process until it resembles wet sand, adding more butter or graham crackers if necessary to achieve the right consistency. 

Place metal disks into place in the bottom of each slot. Spray with butter flavored cooking spray.

Place about 1 tbs of crust into the bottom each Cheesecake slot. Press very well into place until compacted. 

Place the cream cheese and ricotta in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high until well combined. Add 1/2 cup granulated sugar beat on high until creamed. Add the egg, orange juice, and zest and beat until well combined, scraping the bottom of the bowl to make sure all ingredients are well combined. 

Spoon the batter on top of the crust, filling the cheesecake slots until 3/4 of the way full. 

Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes or until the cheesecakes no longer giggle in the middle when the rack is shaken. This is not a situation where "a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean."

Allow to cool for 20 minutes before attempting to remove from pan. 

Once cool, press upward in the hole on the bottom of the pan. Disk should remove easily. 

Once the cheesecakes cool, they will sink in the center, this is normal.

In a small bowl, mix the ricotta, powdered sugar and vanilla until well combined. 

Top each cheesecake with enough ricotta mixture to fill to hole in the center until level.

Chill until ready to serve, at least on hour. 

Just prior to serving, sprinkle an even layer of granulated sugar over each cheesecake. 

Slowly pass a kitchen torch over the sugar until it melts into a liquid and becomes a golden brown. 

Be careful, sugar burns are super nasty and hurt like a mother. 

Seriously. 

Don’t brulee the sugar until just prior to serving, the sugar will start to turn to liquid after about an hour.

 

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Chocolate Peppermint Souffle Cake With Candy Cane Whipped Cream

You didn’t think that I could make this delicious whipped goodness and not come up with a fabulous cake to go with it, did you?

But, I have to admit that I’m not a fan of mint, because of what I will always referr to as The Moroccan Mint Experience. While travel through Middle Atlas a few years ago with my sister…we…we’ll it’s hard to explain. But as a result, I no longer like mint. 

Although my favorite part of the devolution of mint in my life, is Mohammed 

He lives in a cave in a mountain town called B’Halil.

He made me mint tea in his cave. And when someone as wonderful and welcoming as Mohammad takes time to welcome you into his cave and heat up water over an open flame and make you tea out of brown water and mint leaves YOU DRINK IT!!

And I am so grateful to him for the tea. Although he has nothing to do my my distaste for mint tea, he is my favorite memory of my journey towards no longer liking it. 

For some reason, however, Candy Canes are exempt for my I Hate Mint rule. Can’t really say why. 

Even if you hate mint, or if you love it so much you want to take a long soak in big bathtub full of Junior Mints, I hope you like this cake. I did. 

Chocolate Peppermint Soufflé Cake With Candy Cane Whipped Cream

1/2 tsp natural peppermint extract

1 cup unsalted butter

7oz high quality 60% chocolate

5 eggs, room temperature, separated

1/3 cup plus 3 tbs sugar

1 tbs all purpose flour

1 tsp kosher or sea salt

2 tbs cocoa powder

Serve with:

Candy Cane Whipped Cream 

Preheat oven to 350.

In a small pot, add the butter and peppermint extract, stir over medium heat until the butter has melted, don’t allow to boil. Remove from heat.

In the top of a double broiler (or a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water) add the chocolate and the peppermint butter. Stir over medium-low heat until the chocolate is melted and combined with the butter. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

 In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the egg yolks and 1/3 cup of sugar. Mix on high until well combined and light and frothy. Turn off the mixer, and add the flour, salt and the cocoa powder. Mix until just combined. Add the chocolate mixture and beat again until the chocolate is incorporated into the egg yolk mixture. 

In a separate bowl, add the egg whites and 1 tbs sugar. Beat with an electric mixer on high until soft peaks form. Add the remaining two tbs sugar and beat again until shiny and stiff peaks form. 

Remove bowl of the stand mixer that contains the chocolate batter. Put one third of the egg whites into the chocolate batter, and gently stir until barely combined. Add half the remaining egg whites and stir again. Add the remaining egg whites and stir until just combined. 

 Line the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan with a round of parchment paper. Spray the sides with butter flavored cooking spray.

Pour the batter into the spring form pan in one even layer.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until the top is dry and slightly cracked.

Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes, the top will deflate slightly.

 Remove from the spring form pan, allow to cool to room temperature.

Make the whipped cream.

Serve the cake topped with whipped cream.

Printable:Chocolate Peppermint Soufflé Cake

Printable: Candy Cane Whipped Cream

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Candy Cane Whipped Cream & The Importance of Fundamentals


Tater walked at 6 months. Bullshit, right? Actually, it’s true. Although you fully have the right to be skeptical because most babies are barley holding their heads up and don’t even have the concept of standing yet.

For those of you who haven’t been through the: "Watching your offspring launch themselves from one object to another, resulting in scary bruises and traumatic screams" phase of your life, here is what typical babies do:

5-6 months: Can probably roll over in both directions

6-7 months: Tries to get up on knees in crawling position

7-8 months: Makes first attempt at crawling

8-9 months: Starts to crawl, possible attempts at pulling self up on furniture

10-11 months: Pulls self up onto furniture, possibly takes steps while holding furniture

11-12 months: Takes first steps

12-14 months: Becomes a full times walker

Not so much in our house.

Tater literally tried to run before she ever crawled. Here is a video on You Tube of Tater taking steps at six months:

Tater Taking Steps At 6 Months

Just past her first Thanksgiving, not even 8 months old yet, she was walking around like she owned the joint. Watch this video of Tater Walking:

Tater Walking

(And please ignore my, "Talking to my infant" voice. Or better yet, turn the sound off. Yikes!)

THIS baby, whom I was still buying 3 month clothes for was walking all over the place in a way that made strangers gasp and pull out their video phones:

Was I proud? Of course. But I was also worried. Not to mention the fact that my 6 month old had denied me at least HALF of her baby-hood by deciding to become a toddler half a year early.

More than anything else, I have a little glimpse into the developing psyche of my tiny daughter. She is fiercely independent, motivated, headstrong, and completely refusing to learn things in a traditional fashion.

"Crawling? That won’t get me anywhere. I want to walk, so why don’t I just do that instead of wasting my time on the floor?"

Of course, I’m pretty sure I know where she gets that from, Mr. Fits and I were both "Non-Traditional" learners and in spite of the fact that we both score shockingly high on IQ tests, we struggled in school. A lot. Both of us spent our entire childhoods thinking we where stupid because our brains processed information differently and that tended to earn us lower marks on standardized tests.

I felt this way when I threw myself into photography. I wanted to be good at it from the beginning, so frustrated with myself for not being able to produce the images that I saw seasoned veterans shooting. Why didn’t I get it?! What was wrong with me?! I needed to understand the basics, let myself learn a little at a time, before I would be where I wanted to be. And, to be honest, I still get frustrated with myself for not being a better photographer, even though I have only had my DSLR for about 7 months.

Will Tater struggle to run before she can crawl in every area of her life?

Although the world is changing, and other learning styles are being foster, I still worry about her. Fundamentals are important. You have to learn the basics in order to have an anchor for the rest of the information.

Cooking is no exception. No one has ever just walked into a kitchen and made a perfect souffle without first learning how to cream butter and sugar, read a recipe, or sift flour.

Even if you have mastered some pretty complicated recipes, going back to the basics will only improve your cooking.

My favorite fundemental is whipped cream. Something our Grandmother made without a thought was replaced by a blue and white tub full of chemicals that we find in the freezer section. Whipped cream is easy to make and so impressive. Especially when you flavor it with candy canes.


Candy Cane Whipped Cream

4 standard size candy canes, unwrapped

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup powdered sugar

You will also need:

A piece of parchment paper, about 2 feet long

A mesh strainer

a large ziplock type bag

a candy cane pounder of some sort: rolling pin, frying pan, rubber mallet

Place your unwrapped candy canes in the zip lock bag. Place the zip lock bag on top of the parchment paper and smash the candy canes with your rolling pin until they have mostly turned to powder. 

Position your mesh strainer over your parchment paper. Pour the contents of your candy cane bag into the strainer.

Sift until the candy cane powder is on the paper and candy cane chunks are in the strainer. Save the chucks to add to your favorite cookie, chocolate cake or brownie recipe. 

form the paper into a funnel to pour the powder into a small cup. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer add your chilled heavy cream, powdered sugar and 2 tbs of the candy cane powder. You can add more powder for a more intense candy cane flavor or save the rest for another recipe. 

Whip on high until stiff peaks form. About 4 minutes. 


Printable: Candy Cane Whipped Cream

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Vanilla Bourbon Cranberry Sauce & 3 Ways to Use the Leftovers

Of all the Thanksgiving foods that I am asking you to make from scratch, and not out of a can, cranberry sauce is by far the fastest and easiest. It takes almost as much time to try and slop that phallic shaped, hideously ridges gelatinous mass onto a crystal serving dish as it does to throw a few ingredients in a pot and let it simmer. You have no excuse. Put down your reservations, and your can opener and give it a try. You can do it. I believe in you. 

As for those leftovers, that best part of that Black Friday, you have so many options. Cranberry sauce is the one thing that freezes super well, so you can put it in tupperware and save it for a week when you aren’t so double stuffed. Maybe there is a Christmas/Hanukkah party coming up and you signed up to bring the cupcakes? You are in luck. Freeze the leftover sauce, make the Cranberry Cream Cheese frosting below and you will have a cupcake hit on your hands. 

First, we’ll start with the recipe that gets us to these fine leftovers fit for transformations.

Vanilla Bourbon Cranberry Sauce

1/2 vanilla bean

4 cups of fresh cranberries

3/4 cup of water

2 tbs bourbon (good quality)

1 tsp real vanilla extract

1 cup of sugar


Slice the vanilla bean down the center the long way and scrape out the insides with the back of a knife. Place the vanilla scrapings, and the rest of the ingredients in a pot over medium/high heat. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until thickened. The longer you allow the sauce to cook, the thicker it will become.  

*all the alcohol burns off once heated, so this is safe to serve to minors. 

As I said before, cranberry sauce freezes well. You can save your leftovers for future use. 


Cranberry Cream Cheese Frosting

2 3/4 cups cream cheese (softened)

1 1/4 cups butter (softened)

1/2 cup cranberry sauce

3/4 cup powdered sugar

Cream cheese frosting is super, super easy to make and about a billion times better than that crap in a plastic can, as long as you follow the rules. Seriously, if you try to cheat this you will end up with a mixing bowl full of lumps that give your frosting the consistency of ground beef. The biggest rule: everything needs to be room temperature. Sounds wrong, but it’s true. Leave your butter and cream cheese on the counter for a few hours to let them soften. Here are a few acceptable shortcuts to get your ingredients to room temperature, since you may have patience issues, or lack of time issues, like I do.

1. If you are baking and the oven is on, place your sticks of butter and cream cheese (still wrapped) on top of the warm oven. That is, if you have an oven that gets warm. Turn them every 8-10 minutes to warm all sides. In about 30 minutes, they should be softened. 

2. Microwave. The problem with this is that you really don’t want anything melted, and since cream cheese is almost always wrapped in foil, this just works for butter. Put your wrapped butter on a microwave safe plate and microwave on high for 8 seconds. Turn one quarter turn and then repeat. do this until it is softened, but not melted. 

3. Cut everything into cubes and leave at room temp for about 30 minutes, should do the trick, unless your house is freezing cold. 

Put your softened cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high for about 3 minutes. This will allow it to blend with the butter better and prevent any clumps. Add the softened butter and beat on high until well combined. Add the cranberry sauce and mix again until well combined. Turn off the mixer and add the powdered sugar. I don’t like my frosting super sweet, but if you do, add more powdered sugar. Mix on low speed until the powdered sugar is mixed into the cream cheese mixture. 

Cranberry Walnut Muffins

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup sour cream

1 cup cranberry sauce

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup walnuts, chopped

Makes 12

Preheat oven to 400.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, then the vanilla; mix well between each addition. While the mixer is on low, add the sour cream and then the cranberry sauce, mixing until well combined. In a separate bowl, Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. With the mixer still on a low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the cranberry mixture. Mix until just combined, don’t over beat. Stir in the walnuts. Add cupcake papers to a muffin tins.  Fill each paper until about 2/3 full.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched.

Allow to cool. 

Cranberry Pancake Syrup


1 cup cranberry sauce

1/4 cup maple syrup

Put both in a bowl, stir well, heat in the microwave for 20 seconds. Serve over pancakes.

 

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Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

If you read my How To Make Stuffed Cupcakes post, these pictures probably look familiar to you. I had so many people ask for that recipe (OK, one. One person asked, but still…) that I decided to post my recipe for Boston Cream Pie cupcakes.

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

For the Cupcake:

2 cups of flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 stick of butter

1/2 cups of sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tbs vanilla extract

4 egg whites

3/4 cup of whole milk

1/4 cup of oil

For the Filling:

 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs, plus one extra yolk

2 tbs flour

2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Ganache Frosting:

2 cups dark chocolate chunks

1 cup cream

1 tsp espresso powder

Preheat oven to 350.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter (softened!) and sugar and cream until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk until well combined. In another bowl, add the milk and oil.

A bit at a time, add the egg whites to the butter and beat on high until well combined and fluffy. With mixer on medium, add the flour mixture and the milk mixture, alternating between the two until everything is just combined (don’t over beat).

Add the batter to the cupcake papers until about 2/3 filled.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched.

Allow to cool.

While those are baking, make the pastry cream. You’re gonna love this stuff. I hope that this is what you will make from now on to fill your cakes with, instead of frosting. SO delicious, and pretty easy to make.

In a sauce pan over medium heat, bring the cream to a slight simmer, removing from heat when bubbles start to form around the edges. You don’t want to boil you cream, just heat it.

In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs and yolk, and flour until well combined and slightly frothy.

While continuing to whisk the egg mixture, add the cream about 1 tbs at a time. This is called tempering and basically, it’s a way to avoid turning your pastry cream into scrambled eggs. Once your have added about half the cream a tbs at a time, pour the rest in slowly and whisk until well combined.

Return the pastry cream to the stove and stir over medium/high heat until it comes to a rapid simmer. Continue to whisk until thickened, between 5 and 10 minutes. The cream should leave a track when you drag the whisk through it.

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. This needs to cool before putting into a piping bag. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it to the surface of the cream. This will avoid that gross skin that used to grow on top of the homemade pudding your grandma used to make when it sat in the fridge too long.

You may, or may not remember my How To Make Stuffed Cupcakes post, but you use the same method of filling as I used for those.

Take a small paring knife and remove a chunk of the center of the cupcake. Make sure you leave an ample amount of the wall and sides of the cupcake intact or the filling will run all over the place.

Once the cream has cooled, spoon into a piping bag. Pipe the pastry cream into the middle of the cupcakes.

Next, make the ganache. Ganache is really easy to make, and a fantastic alternative to frosting. This can also be used as a fabulous cake filling.

Put the chocolate in a heat safe bowl, sprinkle with espresso powder. You can omit the espresso powder, but the coffee flavor doesn’t come through with such a small amount. Coffee brightens the flavor of chocolate, that’s why so many chocolate cake recipes call for it. Heat the cream (microwave or stove, either is fine) until hot and steamy but NOT boiling. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir.

For a while, you are gonna stir and stir, and it will just look like chunky chocolate milk.

Don’t worry, it’ll all work out. Just keep stirring until it’s smooth and creamy.

Dip your cupcakes in the warm ganache, swirl a bit.

You can also spread it on with a spoon or pipe it on with a piping bag.


How To: Make Vanilla Pastry Cream, and What To Do With It

I’m going to push you one step further with your cake baking. You know that yummy cream that is inside doughnuts, the center of cream puffs and even the filling for that fantastic bakery fresh cakes? That’s pastry cream. And it’s easy to make. Even if you aren’t quite ready to give up the box cake mix, take the leap in dressing it up, super fancy, to make all those cake calories totally worth it. Pastry cream brings your cake way past the next level on to the "Did you really make this? Really? It’s amazing" level that you may have doubted you would ever reach. But you will. I believe in you.

Stop filling your cakes with frosting. Frosting is for the outside of the cake. Pastry cream is delicious and you should put this on your cake bakin' TO DO list. It’s easy, you’ll thank me with a big slice of yummy cake.

Vanilla Pastry Cream

 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs, plus one extra yolk

2 tbs flour

2 tsp vanilla extract

Step One:

In a sauce pan over medium heat, bring the cream to a slight simmer, removing from heat when bubbles start to form around the edges. You don’t want to boil you cream, just heat it.

Step Two:

In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs and yolk, and flour until well combined and slightly frothy.

 

Step Three:

While continuing to whisk the egg mixture, add the cream about 1 tbs at a time. This is called tempering and basically, it’s a way to avoid turning your pastry cream into scrambled eggs. Once your have added about half the cream a tbs at a time, pour the rest in slowly and whisk until well combined.

Step Four:

Return the pastry cream to the stove and stir over medium heat until it comes to a low simmer. Continue to whisk until thickened, between 5 and 10 minutes. The cream should leave a track when you drag the whisk through it.

Step Five:

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. This needs to cool before putting into a piping bag, a cake or your mouth. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it to the surface of the cream. This will avoid that gross skin that used to grow on top of the homemade pudding your grandma used to make when it sat in the fridge too long.

For the raspberries, I put the pastry cream into a piping bag and piped them into the middle of raspberries. As if I needed another reason to eat raspberries. Or pastry cream.

This makes 2 cups, enough to fill between two layers. The cake I made last week was three layers of white cake so I doubled the recipe.

Chocolate Orange Creamsicle Cookies

I originally titled these: Chocolate Shortbread Cookies with Orange Cream and Chocolate Orange Ganache. Although that is much more descriptive, it was just too dang long. I wanted something to bring to the Los Angeles Food Bloggers Meeting, and this is how these things evolved in my brain:

I should try to make chocolate shortbread cookies, but I want to put something on top. I’ll make them like the Mini Lemon Meringue Tarts, but use orange. And Ganache instead of meringue. Orange ganache. Hope this works.

Chocolate Orange Creamsicle Cookies

For The Chocolate Shortbread:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

For The  Orange Cream:

2 tbs orange zest

5 egg yolks

1/2 cup white sugar

3/4 cup orange juice

5 tbs unsalted butter, cut into cubes

For The Orange Ganache:

1 cup dark chocolate chunks

2/3 cup heavy cream

2 tbs orange zest

1 tablespoon Cointreau or other orange-flavored liqueur

Preheat oven to 325.

Cream the butter and powdered sugar until well combined, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. In separate  bowl, whisk the cocoa and flour together until well combined. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture.

Put about 2 tbs of the dough into each well of a muffin tin (spray with butter flavored cooking spray before hand), forming the dough up onto the side to make a cup with a large well in the center.

Chill the dough in the muffin tin for at least an hour.

Bake at 325 for 15 minutes. Allow to cool

Make the orange cream. I love this, it’s based on my lemon curd recipe but the orange is awesome.

Add the orange zest, orange juice, sugar and yolks to a bowl and mix well. Add the orange mixture to a pan over medium/low heat along with the butter.

Whisk until thickened, about 8 minutes. Once the mini tart shells are cooled, spoon in the orange cream.

Place the chocolate and the orange zest in a heat safe bowl. In a separate bowl, heat the cream and the orange-flavored liqueur until hot and steam, but not boiling (microwave is fine but you can also heat on the stove) and pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Stir for about 3 minutes or until well combined. If you have never made ganache or chocolate sauce, you may get a bit concerned about half way through. It is completely normal for your sauce to look like chunky chocolate milk for the first few minutes, just keep stirring and it’ll all work out.

Allow the ganche to cool a bit, then add it to the top of the cookies.