Welcome to our June GBBO! Now this dessert goes by two names: schichttorte (as introduced on the GBBO) and baumkuchen. The German cake was traditionally made on a spit over a fire, each layer being brushed on, baked, then another layer brushed on to bake on top of the previous one. The end result is a beautiful ringed pattern, reminiscent of the cross section of a tree. Over the years, a simpler version was invented where layers were brushed into a pan, then baked under a grill or broiler. The same intricate layers were created, but now horizontally stacked.
Reminiscent of applesauce cake, these uber-moist pear muffins with a touch of spice and a crunchy oat topping are a sweet breakfast treat—and a great way to use up those too bruised or over-ripe pears.
Ok, so I haven’t been able to get Iced Fingers out of my head since I saw them on the show years ago. They looked like hot dog buns filled with whipped cream and jam and topped with icing. And Paul Hollywood’s nostalgia is almost palpable as he tries each one and calls them a childhood favorite. Naturally I was intrigued. Somehow (how exactly though..?) all these years have passed without me actually trying them.
What was I waiting for?! You guys. These. Are. YUM. I almost can’t understand why they are so yummy. They really are just hot dog buns filled with whipped cream and jam and topped with icing. The bun is so soft and light and not very sweet; and the whipped cream is so fluffy and light and not very sweet; the jam is tart and sweet and the icing is pure sweet and it all comes together as a soft, light, sweet-but-not-too-sweet mesmerizing confection.
This cake is all simplicity and delight. It is one bowl, as easy as can be, and so delicious. It is moist without being squidgy and sweet without being cloying. The crunchy sugary almond topping is obsessively yum. Does it seem like I’m raving again? Yeah, definitely. We had it last night for dessert with whipped cream and strawberries and I just finished a piece for breakfast with my coffee and I can’t get over how perfect it is. Sometimes dessert should be a go-big and pull-out-all-the-stops kind of deal. Sometimes - this time - less is more.
I always have an egg white or two in the freezer. I love rich, custardy desserts that need yolks, and since egg whites freeze so well, I never think twice when a recipe calls for an extra yolk or few. I know I can stash away the whites and use them down the road.
I love these dinner rolls. They are easy, they are delightful. They are soft, they pull apart in almost-flaky layers as a good buttery dough should, and they are slightly sweet, which makes them reminiscent of Hawaiian rolls.
My favorite way to serve these is to slice them in half for pulled pork sliders (or post-Easter ham sandwiches!) but they are equally delicious on their own, with butter and jelly, or as a side dish to a roast.
For our April 2019 Great British Bake Off Challenge we thought we’d tackle something savory, since February and March brought you sweet treats.
I’ve never made a pasty (that’s pah-stee) before—let along a Cornish pasty—so I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Obviously I turned to Paul Hollywood’s recipe for my inspiration, and then browsed a few others to get a sense of possible variations in method and technique. (I had some issues with Paul Hollywood’s GBBO recipe as it appears on BBC.com, so I had to do some research to get clarity. I think the recipe you’ll find below resolves the issues; see the note at the end if you are curious!)
When we first started this blog, we decided we didn’t want to be unecessarily chatty in introducing our recipes. We agreed that for the most part, when we are looking at other blog recipes, we typically scroll down quickly to the recipe recipe, where it’s written out in recipe format, and pretty much ignore everything else. So for our blog, unless we have something we particularly feel like saying, we try to skip all that intro story telling and get right to the recipe.
I have a little gem of a cookbook called Beard on Bread, a collection of bread recipes put together by James Beard at a time when making bread at home was making an upswing in popularity. It’s utterly charming in its simplicity. Beard has a fantastically direct and unpretentious approach to bread. “If you can read and have an oven and a work space, there is no reason why you can’t make a decent loaf of bread,” he says.
I love breakfast, but 90% of the time I don’t eat it. On the weekends we’ll cook up a big breakfast...sausage, bacon, potatos, eggs, pancakes, waffles, crepes... But that’s when we have the time to make and enjoy it.
Most weekdays, breakfast is something you scarf down between cups of coffee, getting kids fed and dressed, washing your face, and preparing for the day.
We were having BBQ pulled pork the other night, and in my mind, BBQ requires cornbread. Problem is, my husband and kids don’t like cornbread (truuuust me, I know…) so if I ever make it I spend a week afterward trying to peddle leftovers to my kids until I end up eating it crumbled and warmed with butter and honey. It doesn’t sound like such a bad ending, but it’s just not worth it (much as I love crumbled up, warmed up, buttered and honeyed cornbread mash). Anyway, so I dreamed up these yeasted cornbread buns. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? I got my honey corn contrast to the salty BBQ and my husband and kids didn’t get … cornbread. Instead, they got these delicious, buttery, honey sweet cornmeal hamburger buns. They are tender and soft but sturdy enough to hold pulled pork (or later on I made them again for zucchini turkey burgers!). They are simply delightful. You know you’ve done something right when the kids ask for a second bun over the (very delicious) BBQ pulled pork.
This bread is pretty dreamy. The chocolate flavor is pretty intense, amped up by the addition of some espresso powder. The toasted coconut adds a wonderful texture. And despite the ample amount of banana in the bread, the crumb remains pretty tender and not at all squidgy. It’s good for dessert, snack, or … yes … breakfast.
It may seem like we have significantly upped the ante this month with our GBBO Challenge. But let me assure you, these are easier than you’d think. The dough comes together beautifully in a stand mixer and is a dream to work with — smooth, soft, and supple. There were several times during the process I was convinced I must be doing something wrong; it didn’t seem difficult enough to produce the insane goodness I’ve had at a pastry shop.
Let me say right now I am no sourdough expert. I don’t bake up perfect loaves. But, I do bake on a regular basis, and the method and recipe I’ve developed produces a reliably tasty loaf. I make bread work with my schedule. I’m pretty hesitant to plan my day around my bread.
Scientists basically agree on five “tastes”: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and savory (or umami). These are the sensations registered by our tastebuds. We can distinguish these aspects of a food even if we plug our nose, or have a bad cold.
What we can’t register when our nose is plugged is “aroma,” a sensation perceived by the nose. People say they can’t taste anything when they have a cold, but really what they mean is that the food has no flavor, because flavor depends on aroma.
These are some super light and tasty pancakes. The amount of baking powder makes the batter almost spongy by the time you get it onto the griddle. They remind me of the pancakes you get at a pancake house - they’re so light that they just soak up alllllllll the syrup. It does have a faint metallic taste if you eat it plain but you can’t detect it under any toppings. The batter came together so quickly and easily, they were ready in 10 minutes, and they made perfect amount for my kids’ breakfast. I imagine I would turn to these on a weekday morning for a quick treat. I won’t say they’re better than my own go-to Cook’s Illustrated Buttermilk pancakes or our Dad’s pancakes because they’re just not. But they’re light, easy, yummy and kid-friendly and that checks a lot of boxes!
This is, hands down, my family’s favorite bread. It is so soft and flavorful, a wonderful enriched bread but not too rich. It makes incredible sandwiches and even more incredible French toast. Even just toasted with butter is a treat. And it is easy! The dough comes together quickly, it’s great to work with, and bakes up beautifully. It also just looks really impressive. Try a batch and wow your friends or family ... or just eat it all yourself, slice by slice.
Ok we’re really excited about this: a monthly baking challenge based off of Great British Bake Off bakes. Basically the three of us have all watched all the GBBO episodes (some of them more than once … or twice …) and we’re always saying to ourselves and each other how much we want to try this or bake that. So then we figured, why not channel that into a blog feature? Our idea is basically to introduce the challenge on the first Sunday of the month. One of us will find a recipe, try it, write it up, and review it. Ideally the other two of us will try it as well - either as written or with adaptations/variations - and write up a little add-on at the end of the post. And then we invite you, readers, to try it as well and comment on your success! And if you do try it, please post it to Instagram and tag us or use our hashtag #beaneaththecrustGBBOchallenge! It will be so fun to see all your bakes! And we promise not to go all Paul Hollywood on any attempt. :)
I love these cookies so much. They’re giant, and chewy, and full of all the spices of the holiday season - but not too spicy, lots of molasses flavor, and accented by a sweet sugar coating that causes delightful crusty crinkles all over. I actually can’t imagine making these at any other time of year (I think I actually have a mental restriction on the idea) which makes them that much more special. Molasses cookies come but once a year!
These cookies are a refreshing change from the typical Christmas cookie assortment. They have a great texture - crumbly and studded with oats and chopped almonds, but not at all clumsy or chunky. The not-too-sweet, buttery cookie base is a perfect backdrop to the cranberry white chocolate pairing.
Spritz are a Christmas cookie standard. Although deliciously simple, they can also be a bit…well, simple. They easily take the back seat to other, more indulgent, treats.
That’s why I’m so excited about these jazzed-up Christmas spritz. That simple butter cookie is piped into attractive rosette swirls, baked to a light golden crunch, smeared underside with creamy sweet dulce de leche, and then sandwiched to form a show-stopping treat.
Our 7th Cookie in our 12 Day line up is chocolate drizzled, caramel coated nuts & popcorn aka crunch munch (yes, we’re coining the name). Wait, that’s not a cookie?! I guess we are fudging things a little. :) But, maybe after giving this a try, you’ll forgive us.
Okaaaaaay, so I use bourbon in a lot of my desserts. Yes, I brought a bourbon walnut pie to an Octoberfest party and yes I accented my chocolate chess pie with a boozy bourbon whipped cream. My favorite bread pudding is bourbon raisin with a bourbon butter sauce that could make you tipsy. I love bourbon! Just gotta own it.
Christmas has become our Italian holiday (where Easter we go full out Polish). And if there is something I’ve learned from living among Italians, they love their cookies. At any family gathering from weddings to funerals, there are platters upon platters of homemade cookies.
Okay, so not cookies. But the fourth in our line-up for The Twelve Days of Cookies is a family staple during the Christmas season, so I couldn’t resist sneaking it in. Besides, these candy cane brownies wouldn’t be out of place at a cookie-exchange party, in a tin gifted to friends, or gracing your holiday dessert spread.
I don’t really like eating candy canes myself. I mean, maybe one per year. After that, their charm kind of wears off. And yet, you basically have to deck out your Christmas tree with candy canes…So, what to do with the excess? Crush them up, and sprinkle them over a deep cocoa brownie topped with a fluff of pink peppermint buttercream!
For one thing, they require very little preparation or fuss. I made them in the amount of time my 5-month-old was happy to sit in her bouncer. Magic.
They’re also gluten free. I know, that’s not always the best advertisement for baked goods, but it’s undeniably handy to have a couple GF recipes in your collection, like if you have a GF friend or relative … or if you set out to make cookies but you have no flour (yes, real life story, don’t ask, it has been a long week and it’s only Tuesday). But these cookies are so delicious that you would never even guess it. Magic.
And they are cookies, but they taste like brownies. Fudgy, chewy, chocolatey brownies. But no flour or butter needed! Like I said, magic.
I might add that found this recipe in Food52’s Genius Desserts cookbook. Magical AND genius.
Whenever an occasion arrives and cookies are called for, these cookies come to mind. So it didn’t take long for me to volunteer them for Day 2 of our 12 days of cookies this year. They are unbelievably easy and flexible and taste SO GOOD. Seriously, there is something spectacular about the texture of these cookies — crumbly, shortbready yet with a bit of chew and ample patches of melt-in-your-mouth chocolate.
…on the 1st Day of Christmas, my true love brought to me
A lofthouse-style sugar cookie!
This holiday season, we are so excited to be bringing you 12-days worth of sweet treats that will make for great gifting, sharing, leaving out for Santa, or gobbling up yourself as you wait for the coffee to brew on Christmas morning!
Day 1 of The Twelve Days of Cookies starts off with these delightful Lofthouse-style cookies. A blending of batters that meets somewhere between cookie and cake, these soft, buttery vanilla rounds bake up with a little dome reminiscent of a muffin top. Topped with a fluff of buttercream frosting and a shake of festive sprinkles, these cookies are irresistible to adults and children alike.
Putting a meringue layer in my cakes is quite possible the best thing I’ve ever thought to do in the kitchen. It adds such a delightfully light and airy crunch and sweetness. I’m hard pressed to think of a cake it wouldn’t work with (except maybe maybe a stodgy gingerbread or carrot cake), but it went especially well with this cake. Peppermint flavored meringue with chopped chocolate folded into it and baked till crisp and melt-in-your-mouth is like a holiday party in your mouth on its own, but layer it with red velvet cake, cream cheese frosting, a delicate minty whipped cream and crushed candy cane and you’re just hitting all the spots.
When the fresh cranberries first hit the shelves I couldn’t resist buying a massive bag at Costco. But besides plans for fresh cranberry-orange relish for the Thanksgiving table, and cranberry orange muffins of course, I didn’t have many more fresh cranberry recipes up my sleeve... and yet there were still pounds of cranberries in the fridge.
friend of mine and I put on a fancy Friendsgiving feast for some of our close friends - “fancy” because we tried to pick out-of-the-ordinary dishes and flavor combinations and then plated and served all the courses. There were 14 adults so it was a bit of work! But thankfully most of the work was upfront and we were able to prep and cook everything and have it ready to go. So it wasn’t actually stressful or rushed at all - it was fun and even a bit of a rush!
I was happy to use this as an occasion to get a pie post up on the blog so I took charge of the soup and dessert course. We were going for a loosely inspired Southern-themed menu and since I knew chess pie is classic Southern but I also really wanted something chocolate, I settled on chocolate chess pie. As a further nod to the south I decided to accent it with a bourbon whipped cream and a salty caramel pecan crunch. And a little dollop of a smooth ganache just to make it that much more chocolatey.
Ok I can’t lie. I was conflicted about sharing this recipe with you. It was tasty, yes. Would I make it again? Not sure. (To be fair, this is the second time I’ve made it - I won a pie contest with this tart last year…!) The crust wasn’t my favorite. It was yummy, but … well … I would prefer a pie crust. But I really wanted to give you guys a gluten free option. The custard was a little too rich for me, too. But my husband LOVED it. If you know me, you know that I’m a hopeless, helpless second guesser. I don’t make decisions easily and I question myself after almost every move. So when it didn’t turn out as awesome delicious perfect as I imagined it would, I basically crumpled into a despairing heap. And I decided I wouldn’t blog about it, because I didn’t think it was amazing and I wouldn’t make it again.
But after a few hours - and my husband’s very positive reviews - I started to rethink my approach. It wasn’t a disaster. It wasn’t a disappointment. It wasn’t gross. It tasted good and had a great creamy texture with a nutty crust. The fact that it wasn’t my favorite didn’t seem a reason not to post it. I’ll note what I would change, but otherwise, here it is!
Easy as pie. Who in the world came up with that?! I’m not sure. But I feel they must never have made one. In my baking experience at least, I have never, ever said: “Oh, this ol’ pie? I just whipped it up right before dinner.” No way. How would my crust have been chilled? How could my pie have set? IT ISN’T POSSIBLE! Cake on the other hand….
I find shaping bread so much fun. Fresh baked bread is always a crowd pleaser, but with just a teeny bit more time & effort, it becomes an absolute showstopper. This Fall, I dreamed up a harvest themed board with pumpkin and leaf shaped breads.
Cornbread is close to my heart. I have so many memories of going to Boston Market, hashing out an absurd amount of cornbread for myself. I’m sure I wished I was allowed to eat a whole meal of it (but then, also a meal of mashed potatoes too….). And while I haven’t been in a Boston Market for years, cornbread has remained a great love. And for me, when I say cornbread I mean soft, moist, and sweet (i.e. Northern style) cornbread.
You notice I don’t say “best” or “magic” or “the only recipe you need” blueberry muffins. Because these aren’t. In fact, there are so many blueberry muffin recipes out there, I was debating even to post these. But, they come from a much beloved family cookbook that has pages falling out and is missing its back cover. And, these are good. Really good.
I was actually given this recipe by my roommate in college (too many years ago to admit). We were headed to a cookout and needed to bring dessert. She promised me it was delicious, a family favorite. She didn't lie. It was devoured at that party to rave reviews. I kept the recipe and soon it was my family's favorite cake ever. It was made for every holiday and special occasion and requested for two separate wedding cakes. It has basically become a family legend.
My sister-in-law, fresh from a World Market shopping trip, placed a packet of dried rose petals in my hands and declared they were ripe for some Sarah confection.
That night, I went home and began my brainstorm: rose, pistachio, marzipan. Yum. Cream, ganache, praline. Yum. Strawberry rose pavlova -- rhubarb and rose -- coconut cream and rose pudding.
The first fruits of this brainstorm you'll find in the recipe for Pistachio Rose Shortbread Cookies below. Waaaaaay below. You're going to have a scroll through all my thoughts on "food consciousness" before you get to the crumbly buttery tea cookies pictured above.
I've got another installment of Project Vintage Recipes for you: Oatmeal Cake. I chose this recipe because it sounds like the kind of cake that can be unashamedly eaten for breakfast. Or at the very least it sounds like a perfect snacking cake that mommy can eat for breakfast and kids can eat for snack. (I've got to be honest, I save most of my cake for breakfast. It's just so good with a morning cup of coffee.)
About two years ago, on a long family update email chain, Dad simply shared his pancake, crepe, and waffle recipes. That was it. No latest news from him and mom and the younger kids, no stories or anecdotes, just the recipes with a one-liner introduction: "I wanted to share with everyone my recipes for crepes, pancakes, and waffles." While this may seem odd, Sarah aptly replied: "Wow! Thanks, Dad. I feel like you just doled out our inheritance."
Oatmeal is such a great breakfast. It's filling, nutritious, and super cheap. But, lots of kids don't really like oatmeal. Lots of adults don't really like oatmeal. And yeah, when oatmeal isn't prepared well it tastes like flavorless goopy mush. You can manage some pretty tasty stovetop oatmeal, but baked oatmeal, well, it tastes like an oatmeal cookie, and I can't imagine many kids or adults complaining about that.
Is there anything prettier than a display of assorted scones on various tiered trays? With a floral tablecloth, delicate china tea cups, and silver spoons? the sun angling through a window lined with soft muslin curtains, illuminating the faces of friends?
I grew up with New York bagels as my standard. Whenever my grandparents visited from Long Island, they would stop on their way out and pick up a couple dozen bagels to bring to us. Unfortunately, store bagels and even most bagel chains don't measure up. What to do except make my own?
This recipe is incredibly straight forward and yields some pretty delicious, chewy, soft bagels with very little work in the morning and only a little the evening before. I've tried a bunch of different bagel recipes and this one wins all around in my family.
Usually I just make my popcorn salty, but every now and then I want it to be more like a dessert. Like a chocolate dessert. I love kettle corn, so I thought, could I just add some cocoa powder? I tried, it worked, and this became a snack/dessert that satisfies me on so many counts. It's got the sweet/salty combo, it's crunchy, and it's chocolatey. It kind of reminds me of the chocolate rice cakes I used to eat when I was a kid.
Let me share a bread recipe with you. It is incredibly simple but so delicious. It's the perfect recipe to use to introduce new bakers to bread because it's so straightforward, unfussy, and reliable. It produces a loaf of bread like those soft, light-as-air baguettes that you see at grocery supermarkets, but it's BETTER because it's fresh and homemade. And it takes just 2 hours start to finish!
A moist chocolate cupcake, filled with a crunchy chewy mixture of dulce de leche, toasted coconut, and pecans, topped off with a pile of rich and thick chocolate buttercream.
Why reversed? A classic German Chocolate Cake uses a coconut pecan frosting. These cupcakes rock the nutty duo on the inside (which is, I may add, an aesthetic win). The flavor profile is jacked up a notch by toasting the coconut and pecans, subbing out the evaporated milk mixture for dulce de leche, skipping over the traditional cake recipe, which uses sweet German chocolate, in favor of a deliciously deep and moist cocoa cake, and sweetening the deal with pretty swirls of chocolate frosting.
I dreamed this cake up one day while driving. I had Cristina Tosi's approach to cake on my mind (Sarah was trying out her classic birthday cake -- I hope she'll share her thoughts soon!). What\ piqued my interest was the textural contrast Tosi goes for with the cake crumbs. It sounded really, really tasty. I began thinking where you could go with that. "Oooh! Shortbread crumbs!" It didn't take long for a giant twix cake to sound tremendously delicious.
The very day that I finished this post on my at-the-time favorite brownie recipe, Noah broke the news to me: they weren't his favorite.
You simply can't imagine the depths of frustration into which his statement threw me. The quest for the best brownie recipe--one that we both agreed on--has been a bit of a preoccupation for me. After finishing that post back in October, I thought I could finally rest easy. But now I see that a part of me knew I would never find peace on this topic. Why else did I decide to include the word "current" bracketed off in the blog post title? (As in, "Sarahs [current] favorite brownie recipe.") At the very moment that I was gushing over how this recipe was "my perfect, everyday, brownie satisfaction," my subconscious was hard at work undermining my complacency.
As promised, here is a sweet sourdough bread recipe: coconut, chocolate chips, and coffee all come together for a yummy treat. Special enough to make me smile when we have some for breakfast, but not too sweet to make you feel like you're making an excuse to eat dessert (I'm not the only one, right?).
Boy, have a got a cake for your memorial day weekend!
Picture moist but light, not-too-sweet layers of vanilla cake kissed with coconut essence, sandwiched around a delightfully red strawberry jam and artfully smeared (a la royal wedding) with a fluffy blue ombre vanilla buttercream. It's summer appropriate, perfectly festive, and a tad more updated than your typical cookout fare (hello, red berry flag cake!). It's got a low-key blue and white vibe with a surprise dash of red inside.
I was all geared up to share a sourdough bread recipe I've been working on, with a regular yeast variation. It's coconut chocolate coffee sourdough. Yes, it's amazing. But, when I sliced my loaf open to snap a picture this afternoon, I realized I forgot to add the chocolate chips! Mom brain, big time. So, that recipe will be postponed. (I promise to post it soon!)
In the meantime, here is a recipe I knew I'd share at some point. It's a family recipe, coming from Mom Barrows' side of the family. We always refer to it as "Nonna's Bread." It's a soft, sandwich bread that we almost always have in the bread box. We often make large batches of 9-12 loaves, then freeze them for the convenience of pulling them out later. (Confession: that large of a batch will generally last about a week. We're bread lovers.)
Once, a long, long time ago, I embarked on a project called Vintage Recipes. Remember? You probably don't, and that's OK because it sure looks like I didn't either. But I'm finally getting a start! I'm looking forward to finding some unexpected winners.
What's my idea for this project? First step, to interpret and flesh out the recipes. Some of them are very bare bones with obscure ingredients and directions. I figure I'll follow the recipe with only minimal, if any, adjustments; then, if it seems to hold promise, I'll gradually fine tune it into a recipe I'll save forever.
Up first: Blitz Kuchen. Lightning cake. Sounds like my kind of thing. From just a glance at the ingredients I knew not to expect anything wild and crazy, but simple and basic often produce classic, winning results (like my favorite scone and sugar cookie recipes).
I'm trying to think of another more intelligent way to explain it.
Let me put it this way: I made two loaves one afternoon. They were gone by the morning. Let me try again: I brought a loaf to a girls night. The four of us easily ate 3/4 of it in two hours. I may or may not have finished it off when I got home. Here's another scenario: I pulled a fresh loaf out of the oven, a friend stopped by, chat chat chat, 30 minutes later she says good-bye, and half a loaf is gone.
I recently purchased a seasonal bread cookbook and quickly spotted a bourbon dinner roll suggested for Kentucky Derby weekend. I loved the concept and soon tried it out. Sadly, the recipe didn't do it for me. They buns weren't soft and buttery enough, and the bourbon flavor came through just faintly, even with 1/2 cup in the dough!
In Texas there is a prickly little bush found along paths, in parks, and in fields that yields a tart little berry called a dewberry. The dewberry is a lot like a blackberry in look and taste, and they grow here and there in careless abundance. There's something pretty addicting about wild berry picking. Not only is it satisfying to work for your food - and not having to pay for it like at pick your own farms - but you're constantly spotting "just one more little patch" with a goldmine of plump, juicy berries. Dewberries don't come entirely free, though - they come at the cost of a couple dozen pricker scratches up and down the hands and arm. You could theoretically avoid getting scratched if you are very careful but if you just haaaaaaave to get those fat ones nestled deep in the bush, your arm is going to pay.
A few days ago a friend of mine invited us over to her farm to berry pick. My kids were total champs and we came out with about three pints of berries after just an hour. And that's not counting all the berries consumed along the way. I told you, it's addicting. Fresh berries! Free! So what to do with an abundance of berries? I went back an forth for a while but decided I wanted a cake that was just loaded with berries - like, buckling under their weight. :)
This is hands down favorite blondie recipe. It comes from Cook's Illustrated, which is rarely a bad thing. It also has an almost absurd amount of vanilla extract. But, the experts at CI say that it makes all the difference. The result is hard to argue with, so I'll take their word for it.
Not gonna lie, I'm not a huge fan of the rice teething crackers that fill the baby aisles these days. They're sort of flavorless, insubstantial wafers that break down into a soggy mess and, once hardened, are impossible to clean up. Years ago, I remember seeing zwieback toast packaged and marketed as teething biscuits, but after looking around, it seems that both brands I recall have discontinued the product. Bummer! But then again, perhaps not. In my online quest, I discovered many recipes for making zwieback from scratch at home. I decided to give it a try.
For Easter this year, I fell in love with the idea of doing a Robin-egg-themed dessert...something that was a beautiful speckled blue. In the course of my pre-holiday shopping, I came across these turquoise Wilton candy melts (you can find similar ones here) and I was sold on the idea: I was going to make Robin Egg cake bites! Perfect for an Easter brunch (next year!) or any Spring-themed spread, these moist chocolate cake balls are shaped into ovals, dipped in blue melting chocolate, and speckled all over.
For the past three years, my younger sister-in-law and I have been trying to make the bulk of the Easter basket candy ourselves. We have a lot of fun doing it, and the candy is all the more special. Here are the recipes we've used, if you'd like to give it a shot too!
We grew up getting our babka from a local Polish Deli. It wasn't until later on that we began making it ourselves. We love a good chocolate babka, but this sweet cheese babka, with swirls of rich cream cheese filling and piles of crumble on top, will always take first place.
I really don’t bake cookies that often but today I wanted peanut butter, pretzels, dates, and chocolate (hello pregnant!) and couldn’t think of a better platform for that combination than a warm gooey cookie. Blitzed up oats to chocolate chip cookies gives them a delightful chew, dates add a wonderful sweet contrast to the salty peanut butter and pretzels, but you can just do all chocolate chips.
If you can stop yourself from eating all the dough you’re going to love these sweet, salty, chewy cookies.
There's no way around it: these brownies are ridiculously indulgent. Moist, super dense, super chocolate brownies, baked with a Guinness Stout reduction that gives them an earthy dark depth, brushed with Bailey's cream, you know, to lighten things up, and then topped with more Bailey's in a brown butter icing party. And no, that isn't a typo in the title. I meant "brownie fudge" not "fudge brownie," because these rest solidly somewhere between fudge and brownie...and probably more fudge than brownie!
With St. Patrick's day coming up, I wanted to try out some new Irish soda bread recipes. My standby has been Simply Recipes', but a couple new ones caught my eye. Why not bake a few and compare? So that's what I did.
The coconut topping gets caramelized during baking and creates a sweet, buttery, chewy topping. The browned butter adds depth of flavor and the cake is moist and tender. It's like the dressed up sister of banana bread. Plus, it passes for dessert and is still totally acceptable for breakfast.
As promised, here is the second installment of using up leftover eggs! This time, we tackle the yolks. Although, if you're like me, you'll be making at least one of these recipes even if you don't have any "leftover" yolks. Just jump over here once you have those extra whites!
The three of us often have been in the position of making a recipe that uses only part of an egg. We've been in both situations: either having way too many egg whites to deal with or an abundance of yolks. Here are some recipes most of which we've used and recommend -- just in case you find yourself in a similar predicament!
This is my favorite aspect of making cakes: coming up with all the elements. I love looking at cake recipes in cookbooks and on blogs, but I usually end up picking and choosing from a number of different sources for my own vision or what have you. This hazelnut cake is really fantastic, which you'd expect from Cook's Country. Ganache and meringue are pretty standard recipes. The frosting, though ... I could go on and on about this frosting. It's my go-to. I find it to have the lightness of a Swiss meringue buttercream but without the fussiness of the egg whites. The cooked flour method dates way back so, really, it's a tried and true recipe.
Few things surpass a buttery, perfectly flaky, multi-layered biscuit. They are well worth the effort of thorough prepping -- freezing small-sized pieces of butter (perhaps even the flour as well), ensuring the liquid ingredients are sufficiently chilled, meticulously avoiding overworking the dough, using a razor sharp cutter, and only rolling the dough out once.
So, for a few months there this was my favorite brownie recipe. But over the weekend I revisited my old favorite brownie recipe and, well, it's back to being my favorite. Because it is truly amazing. I don't know what I was thinking.
Actually, I do know what I was thinking. That other recipe is so quick to make, and comes out more like a standard brownie box mix. No-fuss, simple plain-old brownie goodness. Something you wouldn't feel bad about scooping ice cream on top. Or layering in an ice cream cake.
THIS Peppermint Fudge Brownie, on the other hand, stands alone. With a deep cocoa flavor, fudge-like consistency, peppermint filling and laden with chocolate chips, it would border on obscene to serve it with anything else.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, this roll recipe is worth sharing. I first discovered this recipe last fall and loved its yeasted crumb and pumpkin flavor which is distinct, but not overwhelming. Even better, the bread can be either sweet (buttered with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar is absolutely scrumptious) or savory (left plain, it makes a fitting accompaniment to any dinner).
These baked brie bites hold their shape, the melty gooey brie is neatly contained within, and the exposed jelly adds a welcome pop of color. Bonus: they do away with the need for crackers or apple slices as conveyers!
As I mentioned in my last post, we recently took a family vacation up north to New Hampshire. The White Mountains specifically were my family's vacationing destination growing up. We went there every summer we could. A couple years, we did winter vacations instead. Philip and I went by ourselves in October when expecting Edith, right at the start of gorgeous autumn foliage. But going in November was quite a different experience.
Hamburgers are supposed to be an easy, no-fuss meal so why complicate things, right? Wrong. These hamburger buns replace the waste-of-space which is most supermarket buns with a soft, tender, delicious bread, elevating the hamburger from meat sandwiched between two flavorless dry sponges into something more complete and, frankly, worth eating.
We finally had our first frost in Maryland just a couple weeks ago. Fall has been pretty delayed. For our gardening business, it was pretty great! But, for the love of cooler weather and all the joys that entails, it was a touch sad.
This is the recipe you turn to when you have brown mushy bananas that you need to use up. This is the recipe you turn to when you're craving a moist, delicious banana bread with great flavor. This is the recipe you turn to when you only want to have to wash ONE bowl. You've probably caught on to this by now, but in my opinion sometimes basic is best. No frills, no whistles, just flavor and texture.
This is a recipe I discovered in a food magazine in high school, and I've been making it every fall ever since. The cake batter is so easy to mix up (no mixing aid required). It uses one full can of pumpkin puree (no leftovers to deal with). The pumpkin flavor is not overpowering, adding a subtle earthiness and a delicious moistness to the cake. The cranberries add a bit of zing, and the Brown Butter Frosting takes this treat to the next level.
Biscotti is just an excuse to have cookies for breakfast, and I am 100% okay with that. This recipe for biscotti has no pretenses to anything other than a sweet, crunchy bite. Heck! It even has chocolate drizzled on top. But they are also loaded with almonds and cranberries, which makes them both satisfying and nutritious. They are just tender enough to be eaten on their own without breaking any teeth, but they hold up extremely well--and perhaps are improved--when dipped in coffee, which brings them into the breakfast realm, which, like I said, is fine by me.
It's autumn (in some places, at least) and that means one thing: pumpkin everything. It's a little annoying, isn't it? But then again, pumpkin is delicious in every baked good form so I can't complain too much...
Like Maria mentioned, we all have our favorite variations of the Joy of Cooking's Sugar Drop Cookies with Oil. The original recipe is perfect, so I don't typically mess with it. At the most, I might add some vanilla bean powder to the sugar that the cookies are rolled in, giving them a pretty vanilla-flecked exterior. But sometimes for a party I think it's fun to have a whole spread of the same cookie in different variations. Since these are so simple to mix up, and quick to bake, you can churn out a bunch of different variations within an hour.
I just received a set of Russian piping tips in the mail and I am so excited to try them out! Since it's Fall, I'm thinking of a Chrysanthemum covered cake...stay tuned!
Thinking about cake decorating got me reminiscing about some of my favorite cakes of the past. I've never taken any cake baking or decorating classes, unless you count Google & YouTube. It is simply a hobby (some might say obsession). I like to think about cake flavor combinations, and I like to think about new ways to decorate cakes, and I like to look up different techniques, and I scroll through Pinterest for extra inspiration. Whenever I see an opportunity to bake a cake for some occasion, I pounce on it. It's selfish, really. My mind is overflowing with cake ideas and I want to try them out.
These little peanut butter bombs require three ingredients. I'm serious! Just peanut butter, sugar, and egg. They pack a powerful peanut butter punch, so when I'm struck with a peanut butter craving, these are what I want.
Because they are so simple to mix up, and they bake in roughly 10 minutes, they are the perfect dessert to whip out when a gluten-free guest shows up unexpectedly at your home. Rather than apologize that you have nothing to serve, just sneak away to the kitchen for a quick break. Come out fifteen minutes later with a tray of these treats.
These are not only my favorite scones but quite possibly one of my favorite foods. It is an absurdly easy recipe from Joy of Cooking which I have used a million times to produce delicious scones in just 20 minutes. These aren't like the overly sweet cake-like scones that you find at Starbucks or the crumbly dry British scones that need to be slathered with butter and jam. They're in between, simple and perfect, moist enough to eat on their own but not dense or squidgy. Just sweet enough to be called a breakfast treat but not so sweet as to confuse it with a dessert.
My husband brews beer using the all-grain method, which means that he produces massive quantities of spent grains after each batch. It seems like such a waste to just toss them - even if they are, well, spent - so I thought I'd incorporate them into my bread.
My husband's great-grandfather Giovanni was an avid and skilled gardener. He often comes up in family conversations, especially how he had twenty bee hives, how he would check on his bees every ten days without fail, how huge his honey extractor was, and how he would ever have on hand a little bear jar of honey to gift. One legacy of him remains in the fig trees in our backyard. They were branches from his very own fig trees that my in-laws replanted and cultivated until they became full-grown trees of their own.
Baking from scratch is a way of life for me. In my home, it's not unusual for there to be half a cake in the fridge, a bag of muffins in the freezer, a pan of brownies on the counter, and a loaf of bread in the oven for dinner.
I don't make cookies very often. These cookies reminded me why. I just can't keep my hands off the dough! I pick a little here and then a little there and I've probably eaten the equivalent of two or three by the time they're baked. These cookies get it right from every side: the perfect combo of sweet and salty with the deep, warm flavor of brown butter, not to mention a little substance from the oats, crunch from the nuts, and, well, chocolate.
I've lived in Southwest Florida for eight years now, and not once have I made it down to the Keys. We had plans to make a family trip there over the summer, but things happened (like, I had a baby).
Much of Southwest Florida is filled with constructions built in the last few decades. So whenever I stumble upon anything in Florida that dates earlier than this century--anything that has the merest wisp of historicity about it--I am eager to soak it in. One of the places I have my heart set on visiting is Ernest Hemmingway's home. Sure, he may have been a less-than-admirable and deeply flawed character, but his prose defined a new style in American literature and his stories, though often troubling, are filled with an aching beauty, a longing for something beyond. Also, his home is worth visiting in itself, having been built in 1851 by marine architect and wrecker Asa Tift out of limestone he excavated directly from the site.
We've all been there before: rice was on the menu for dinner and you simply made too much.
I don't know why, but rice is one of those things I find nearly impossible to estimate right. Sometimes it forms a main component of a meal (think rice & beans) and we find ourselves scraping the pot clean. Other times, it's the flavorless and forgotten side. It ends up packed in a container and stowed away in the fridge, waiting for the day it's discovered again and promptly tossed in the bin. Because, let's face it, microwaved rice really stinks.