Category Archives: Desserts

Today is the Day

To have your cake and eat it too.

Especially if it’s chocolate.

Enjoy.

And oh right, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Yes, that is a potato. It’s from the farm on our campus. 😀

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Filed under Chocolate, Desserts

Chocolate Brownie + Apple Crisp = ?

Math does not come naturally to me.

How did I get through calculus?

I memorized my way out of it…the different question types…and predicted which ones would be on the exams.

Not natural at all.

Unlike the equation above, the answer of which is…brownie crisp!

If you make peach crisp in August, apple crisp in November, then naturally you would make brownie crisp in February.

It makes a lot of sense, doesn’t  it?

The honey in the oatmeal topping cuts through the chocolatey-ness like a ray of warmth and I think you would enjoy the textural contrast between the tender/gooey brownie and the crisp/crunchy topping also.

My only regret?

I didn’t have vanilla ice cream. 😦

Brownie Crisp
makes a 9×9 square pan

for the topping:
1 c. oats
1/3 c. flour
1/4 c. butter, melted
3 Tbsp. honey
pinch salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

for the brownie:
1/2 c. butter
2/3 c. chocolate chips or 4 oz. semisweet chocolate
1 c. sugar
1 large egg
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. dried instant coffee powder
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 c. flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. To prepare the topping, combine everything and mix until beginning to clump together. Set aside.(sidenote: I think this mixture would be great baked on its own and eaten as granola)
3. To prepare the brownie, melt butter and chocolate together in a double broiler or a bowl over a pot of simmering water.
4. Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Beat until smooth.
5. Add the cocoa powder, flour, and salt. Stir until blended.
6. Pour the brownie mixture into a greased 9 inch square pan. Sprinkle the oatmeal mixture on top.
7. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown.

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Tang Yuan 汤圆 (Glutinous Rice Balls)

These are a Chinese dessert typically served during 元宵, or Lantern Festival. It’s a bit like nuo mi ci (糯米糍), or the other glutinous rice balls in that it is also made with glutinous rice flour. It’s actually a lot alike nuo mi ci, just smalled and served in a sugary soup. They even share some of the same fillings, such as red bean, black sesame, peanut, etc.

Making these small glutinous rice balls are easier, in my opinion, since the ingredients are just rice flour, water, and red bean paste. The red bean paste can be store-bought, or homemade. I love homemade red bean paste. It isn’t as sweet and still has some whole beans in it. Most store-bought paste is almost sickeningly sweet and has an off taste and textureless. If you have time, just boil a pot of red beans until tender, add sugar to taste and a tiny amount of oil, and mash together.

Tang Yuan 汤圆 (Glutinous Rice Balls)
makes about 15 3cm balls

250 grams glutinous rice flour (usually half the 500 gram package sold in Asian food stores)
about 3/4 c. hot water, more or less as needed
red bean paste or other filling

  1. Mix the water into the rice flour, a little at a time, until you have a pretty soft dough that holds together.
  2. Knead a few times and let rest for about 15 minutes.
  3. Pinch off small balls a little smaller than 1 inch in diameter.
  4. Flatten in your palm and drop a small dollop of red bean paste into the middle. Pinch the edges closed and roll between your palms until round. Use a little water if the dough is hardening too fast.
  5. Bring a pot of water to boil. Drop the rice balls into the water and boil until they float.
  6. Add a little sugar to the broth, if desired, and serve with a little of the broth.

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Zucchini-Pecan Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (Magazine Mondays)

I discovered Cream Puffs in Venice a long long time ago and have always loved the blog. Ivonne at Cream puff hosts Magazine Mondays, where she posts recipes from magazines tackled by bloggers. I love the idea.

That being said, tomorrow is my dad’s birthday, so while I was flipping through the August edition of Bon Appetit I came across this recipe. The article said that this cake is inspired by the classic carrot cake, but of course, with a different vegetable. And I thought, if you can have zucchini bread, why not cake?

Then I thought, this would be a great cake to make for dad since I’ve always considered spice cakes to be more “grown-up,” which I guess is true, since most kids I’ve met don’t go “whooooop, spice cake!” So I made it last night and brought it to today’s barbeque with some family friends.

The cake is not big or elaborate. It’s very humble but boasts a myriad of spices as well as toasted pecans. The tiny strips of zucchini are seen, but not tasted. It’s funny, the cake is light in texture but somehow gives off the feel of a lot of weight. Maybe it’s the ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. It’s an intoxicating combination.

I found that I needed a bit more icing sugar to make the frosting a stiff enough consistency to spread. This is very similar to a carrot cake and will definitely attract carrot cake lovers. Maybe this works for number 10 on my wish list?

I was just saying how kids aren’t wild for spice cakes, curiously though, the few youngsters at the gathering today seemed to like this cake. It’s sturdy enough for them to hold by hand so no fussy fork and plate needed. Spread the frosting thin and this makes a wonderful snack cake.

Zucchini-Pecan Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
makes one 9-in. cake

Cake:
1 ½ c. all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. coarse kosher salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¾ c. olive oil, not extra virgin
1 c. brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
8 oz. zucchini, grated
3/4 c. toasted pecans, chopped

Frosting:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 Tbsp. butter, room temperature
¾ c. powdered sugar
½ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. cinnamon

To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease/flour a 9 inch cake pan.
  2. Mix well the oil, eggs, vanilla, and brown sugar in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the spices, flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the oil mixture, stir to combine. Blend in the zucchini and pecans, do not over mix. (Note: I didn’t squeeze the moisture out of the zucchini because I figured the cake would benefit from the moisture.)
  5. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes. (Mine was done at 30, so check early!)
  6. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before unmolding. Let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting:

  1. Cream together the butter and cream cheese.
  2. Sift in the powdered sugar and blend. (I used about 1/2 c. more)
  3. Add the cinnamon and vanilla, mix well.
  4. Spread over the top of the cooled cake.

Er, you might recognize that candle as the same one that perched on top of my brother’s soccer birthday cake. That’s because it is. We forgot to get candles, so candle Eight got reused. But we didn’t end up lighting it anyway because it was so windy today. Hey, my dad can always dream of becoming younger right?

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Filed under Cakes, Desserts, Snacks

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Take Two

I promised you that I would make cookies again before the summer is up. Here they are.

This recipe I pulled out of The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. The experts swear by melted butter to keep the cookies chewy. I whole-heartedly agree since I’ve been using it for years, both in CCC’s and my blondies. One thing to note is to make sure the butter is sufficiently cooled before creaming with the sugar or else the sugar melts, which effects the spread. Speaking of melted butter, I want to try using browned butter to make chocolate chip cookies one day. I imagine that would amp up the caramel taste even more.

The Test Kitchen says to add a bit of extra fat to the cookies to ensure tenderness, which I also agreed to. They did this in the form of an extra egg yolk. They also used a substantial proportion of brown sugar to white sugar because brown sugar is hygroscopic and will keep moisture locked in. I reduced the white sugar by half than what was called for in the recipe. The cookies were plenty sweet.

I also chilled the dough for about 6 hours before baking. Shaping the dough into balls poroduced more evenly spread cookies. Oh, and pecans. I added toasted, chopped pecans. They added such a marvelous flavour and picked up the vanilla notes in the cookies. I reduced the vanilla by half a teaspoon and added a bit more baking soda. This overleavens the recipe, thus preventing puffy cookies, encourages wrinkling, and enhances browning because the dough will be basic in nature.

I put eight balls of dough in my mini muffin tin and then baked up like little tarts, wonderfully chewy. Below is the original recipe with my notes.

America’s Test Kitchen Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
makes about 32 cookies

2 c. plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda (I added 1/4 ts. more)
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 c. packed light brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar (I used 1/4 c.)
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract (I used 1 1/2 tsp.)
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips
(3/4 c. toasted, chopped pecans, optional)

  1. Cream the melted, cooled butter and the sugars until blended.
  2. Mix in the egg and egg yolk and vanilla.
  3. Blend in by hand the flour, baking soda, salt, chocolate chips, and pecans.
  4. Chill 6 hours or overnight, or even longer if you’d like, or proceed directly.
  5. Roll into balls and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees (preheated oven) for 10 minutes or until slightly browned around the edges.
  7. Do not overbake, let the cookies cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before removing.
  8. Keep in an airtight container at room temp, to preserve all the lovely chewiness.

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Birthday Cake

My brother had originally wanted a cake shaped like a giant Oreo cookie, but of course he changed his mind. He loves soccer so he asked for a soccer ball cake. So I altered the original plan, went with the same cake, the Emergency Chocolate Cake. I used a cream cheese frosting, and layered mini Oreo cookies in between the layers.

The cake itself was bake d in a large metal bowl, filled with one and a half times the cake recipe. It took quite a bit of time to bake, because of the deepness of the cake, but it it turned out level enough and did not stick to the bowl.

I split it into three layers, spread frosting and sandwiched it with mini Oreo cookies. Then I frosted the outside and drew in the pattern.

The frosting is great! It’s not overly sweet and is very smooth. It would be perfect for a carrot cake. It paired well with chocolate here too. The whipped topping lightened the texture just a touch and made the frosting extra creamy.

Cream Cheese Frosting
makes enough to frost a 2-layer cake

1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, at room temperature
3-4 cups sifted powdered sugar, as much as is needed
1 1/2 c. frozen whipped topping, defrosted
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, optional

  1. Beat the butter and cream cheese together until well blended and creamy.
  2. Beat in the sugar one cup at a time, until the frosting is thick and spreadable, adding sugar as needed.
  3. Beat in the vanilla if using.
  4. Fold in the whipped topping.
  5. Frost and refrigerate, but it does stand well enough at room temperature for at least an hour with no ill effects.

We brought the cake to church and shared it with his friends. Franklin loved his cake! Happy Birthday!

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Baking with Carolyn

I had my chocolate fix today. It should last at least a week. My sister, Carolyn, made a large batch of large brownie cookies with me. Usually I don’t break out the box mixes, but it’s much easier for Carolyn to begin to learn about baking if we work with a mix.

And it was good.

When you prepare a brownie mix the normal and place humongous scoops of it on a cookie sheet and bake it at 350 degrees you end up with ginormous black forest dark cookies. These disks have wonderfully chewy edges that remind one of candy and meltingly tender centres. Oh yeah, they also pack an impossible chocolate punch. Even the most die-hard chocoholics will need milk with these cookies.

I am no die-hard anything, except maybe for kouign aman, so by the time I had my third bite I was quite deliriously reaching for milk. Then I had a tenth bite, a fifteenth bite, and so on.

If you love chewy brownies, these kick the chewiness up ten notches. Next time you make brownies, make them into cookies instead. You will not regret it.

P.S. Carolyn makes a great little helper!

P.P.S. She helped me whip up a batch of cinnamon buns too, so guess what we are having for breakfast tomorrow? 😉

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