……………………………………………………. Baking our mark

Recipe Flash: Frozen Banana Bites June 21, 2012

It’s day number two of nearly 100 degree weather in Philly.  I think this is the worst thing in the world.

Even the flowers don’t like it.

And, with the clarity of a corporate blackberry camera and the photojournalism skills of a writer, I give you a heat tour of my walk from work to home in Philly.

Everyone’s using the fountain as a pool

But no one’s in the park, which is usually overflowing with small children

Which means that no one wants to cook. Or eat anything other than ice for that matter.

The home-made solution to this predicament?

Frozen banana bites

Frozen Banana Bites (idea stolen from BA)

Basically, melt some chocolate with a little bit of oil. (Ratio:  1 cup chocolate to 1 Tbs. vegetable oil)

Dunk in a slice of banana and coat it. Fish it out with a fork and let some of the excess fall off.

Then, roll it around in something that goes well with chocolate and banana (i.e., coconut, oreos, peanuts, skor bits, etc. ).

Put the completed slices onto some parchment paper, then pop them in the freezer for a few hours. (Put them in a sealed container after you’ve frozen them if you intend to store them in the freezer for any length of time.)

…you’ll need more than two…

They taste like summer, but are lovely and cold. Can’t think of anything better for dinner tonight.


S’more Pops August 20, 2011

Tiny desserts? Covered in chocolate? On a stick? Done and done.

Saw these ideas for s’mores pops on another blog, but had to do them myself so I could use MINI marshmallows. (The chocolate-to-marshmallow ratio is just right here.)

S’mores Pops

Mini marshmallows
Melted chocolate
Graham cracker crumbs
and (per my sister’s insight)
Melted peanut butter

Throw some mini-marshmallows on little toothpicks, then dip in melted chocolate. (To make them super delicious, dip half in chocolate, half in peanut butter.) Then, roll in the crushed graham cracker crumbs. To let them dry, put them in a cooling rack so the chocolate dries.


“Belgian” Brownies August 14, 2011

Filed under: Dessert — Michelle Jackson @ 4:26 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

These little brownies are not for the faint of heart. The recipe is inspired by Le Pain Quotidien’s “Belgian” brownies (little chocolate muffins with crispy tops and creamy insides) which I’ve had the recent privilege of [repeatedly] eating at work. They appear to have absolutely nothing to do with Belgium (somewhat in the vein of Irish Potatoes). Like most fatty American inventions though, they are pretty amazing for special occasions. Or for when you have an extra pound of butter lying around.

My good friend Tina was having her last day at the museum a few weeks ago (hey, you guys if you’re reading!), so it was a perfect opportunity to try a new recipe, and use 10 eggs in one go. Yes, you read that correctly.  (Doubled from a recipe found here.)  The Wednesday Chef luckily has a picture to illustrate in the link– these little guys disappeared way before I could get a good shot.

Makes 4-5 dozen cupcake-sized brownies. 

24 oz bittersweet dark chocolate (Ghirardelli chocolate chips worked well with the double boiler)

5 sticks of butter, cut into small pieces

10 eggs, beaten lightly with a fork

2 2/3 cups brown sugar

4-5 tablespoons pastry flour

2 teaspoons salt

Melt the chocolate and butter in a large double boiler until combined. (I finagled a big one using two large stew pots for doubling the recipe. If you’re being a normal person though, a sauce pan configuration would also work.) Transfer chocolate mixture to a large bowl and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325, and then start sifting the flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl.  Stir this into the chocolate/butter. Crack all the eggs into a separate large bowl, whisk lightly, pour into the chocolate mixture, and stir until combined. I did this by hand, but using a mixer would probably be smarter, faster and easier. (By hand is an excellent work out though!) Once the eggs are combined with the chocolate, let the batter rest for 30 minutes; it will eventually start to look like thick chocolate syrup.  Spoon 1/4 cup’s worth of the batter into lined muffin tins and bake for 35 minutes. The brownies will puff up as they bake, and then cave in a little bit as they cool– this is good! The crackly surface is apparently due to the volume of egg whites, and while it doesn’t look super attractive, it tastes AMAZING. I’m not usually an all-caps type of person, so really. These are good. Eat warm or cool, but best when shared with friends.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Trifle June 29, 2011

Trifles are the best things ever. I’m not kidding here. If you invite me over and ask me to bring dessert for a crowd, it’s pretty likely I’ll bring a trifle. Who doesn’t love homemade whipped cream or pudding or whatever else rich and delicious goes into a trifle? And if the answer to that question is “everyone at this party doesn’t love it,” then I get to bring the whole thing home and pig out myself. So, I like making trifle.

Anyhow, I decided to try out a new one (partly because the chocolate cupcakes I made just would not come out of the pan and fell into a crumbly mess the night I made them…).

It is delicious. Seriously. It also reminds me of the Peanut Butter Thing, my favorite dessert [in Massachusetts]. It’s the stuff food dreams are made of.

When I fed it to a room of people who had just said they were stuffed, they all finished what I shoved at them. [Ok, the other reason I love trifles and parfaits right now is because I get to use the awesome tasting dishes I got; everyone can eat a tasting dish-worth of dessert.]

The best part of this recipe is the peanut butter whipped cream. If you don’t love trifle, just make that.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Trifle

Start with half a batch of chocolate cake, using whatever recipe you like. Crumble it up, and use half for the bottom layer of your trifle, or spread about half amongst the smaller dishes you’re using.

Top with a layer of chocolate pudding, again using whatever you like. Make this layer thick enough to trap the chocolate cake crumbs, but not so thick that it doesn’t leave enough space for the peanut butter whipped cream.

Then add a layer of peanut butter whipped cream, and repeat the chocolate cake and chocolate pudding layers again. If you feel fancy, pipe some of the whipped cream on top and garnish with mint.

Peanut Butter Whipped Cream

1.5 cups whipping cream
2 Tbs. confectioners sugar
1/4 cup smooth ground peanut butter

In a large bowl, whip 1 cup cream and 2 Tbs. sugar.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the peanut butter and remaining 1/2 cup cream until well blended and peanut butter is really soft. Then, gently fold in the reserved whipped cream, just until blended.

Try not to eat it all at once. Save some for the recipe. Your guests will thank you.


Dark Chocolate Chip Cupcakes + Blackberry Compote Buttercream February 28, 2011

Filed under: Dessert,Vegan — Michelle Jackson @ 10:23 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

These are my favorite. Period.  I tried a similar recipe from Love & Olive Oil about a year ago. (I remember because I was trying to wrap up the writing of my undergrad thesis and made a bowl of the blackberry frosting as a present to myself. Yes.) The cupcake recipe is culled from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (mentioned in my last post), and it’s really a great go-to recipe for a platform vanilla cupcake. I added shaved dark chocolate to jazz things up a bit, but you could feasibly add anything you want – almonds, orange zest, dried cranberries, cinnamon, etc. Likewise you can pair the cakes with any type of frosting or glaze depending on your taste. I wanted beautiful pink-purple sugary goodness tonight, so that’s what we’re doing.

For the Cupcakes:

1 cup soy milk (or almond milk)

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 1/4 cups flour

2 tablespoons corn starch (I used 2 tablespoons of soy flour as a substitute)

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup margarine, softened –or–  1/3 cup canola oil (I used the oil)

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

1/2 bar dark chocolate (or baking chocolate), chopped or grated

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with paper (or silicon) liners. In a small bowl whisk the soy milk and vinegar together and set aside to curdle. This sounds gross, but it’s really just a substitute for buttermilk.  Mix the flour, cornstarch (soy flour), baking powder, baking soda, salt in a medium bowl.

If using margarine: In a separate large bowl, use a handheld mixer at medium speed to cream the margarine and sugar for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy. (Don’t beat past 2 minutes.) Beat in the vanilla and other extract, if using, then alternate beating in the soy milk mixture and dry ingredients, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl a few times. Note: I’ve found that you don’t really need to use a mixer for this if you use a little elbow grease.

If using canola oil: beat together the soy milk mixture, oil, sugar, and extracts in a large bowl. Mix in the flour mixture and blend until there are no large lumps. (Little ones are ok.) Add in chopped chocolate. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 way full using a 1/4 measuring cup, and bake for 20-22 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting. Makes a dozen.

For the buttercream:

About 4 or 5 fresh (or thawed) blackberries, washed and patted dry

1 teaspoon honey

1 /2 cup margarine

2-3 cups confectioner’s sugar

Heat the berries and honey in the microwave for about 45 seconds (or over low heat on the stove until you get kind of a syrupy sauce). While the compote is cooling off, blend the margarine with the sugar until you start to get the desired frosting consistency (too thick, add a little bit of soy milk; too watery, add more sugar).  In the midst of this, when you have the bulk of the sugar and margarine blended, add the berry compote  and mix until well-blended. This will give you a gorgeous pink lilac color for the frosting… feel free to sample before decorating the cakes!


Shaved Chocolate & Ginger Cookies February 19, 2011

Filed under: Dessert — Michelle Jackson @ 9:46 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I’ve made this recipe twice now, and both times the cookies have been pretty delicious, so I’m hoping it will make a nice contribution to a party happening this evening.  The recipe is an adaptation of the macadamia ginger crunch drops in Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. This is a great little dessert recipe book, and I highly recommend its predecessor, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World as well.  They both make vegan baking tons, tons more palatable.  Anyway, macadamia nuts are freaking expensive so I went for my favorite substitute, i.e., chocolate. The only other changes were a lack of a coconut extract (you could add this in if you have it on hand, I just didn’t), and I added the extra ginger and cinnamon.

Shaved Chocolate & Ginger Cookies

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2/3 cup canola oil

2/3 sugar

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/3 cup nondairy milk (I used almond milk)

1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 oz (about 1/2 cup, but this can be according to taste) candied ginger, finely chopped

1 bar baking chocolate or dark chocolate, finely chopped or shaved (use a vegetable peeler or grater if you want finer pieces)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (Isa/Terry say parchment paper, but I found that it doesn’t really matter in this case).  Mix the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.  In a larger bowl beat together oil, sugars, nondairy milk, flaxseeds, and vanilla.  Fold in the flour mixture and mix until moistened. (Don’t over mix, please!)  Just before the mixture is completely combined fold in the chocolate and candied ginger.

Drop by the tablespoonful onto cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches in between.  Bake for 14 minutes until the edges start to brown.  Remove from oven and let cool on wire racks. (If you have them. I don’t, so I just left them on the sheet, then transferred to a plate.) Store in a tightly covered container and enjoy the spicy-sweetness!

Note: My dark chocolate had some milk in it, so this recipe is not vegan… but it totally can be with a change to nondairy chocolate chips/baking chocolate.


Chocolate Ganache Peppermint Cupcakes February 10, 2011

Filed under: Dessert — krandle @ 10:06 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Last time I made these cupcakes was for a large house party. The night after these were devoured by the visiting horde, a friend said he’d gained 5 pounds of cupcake weight. I actually might believe him.

The point is: people love these cupcakes…and they’re not too shy about eating more than one. I attribute their addictive qualities to the fact that there are several textures – the spongey cake, the rich ganache, the light whipped cream, and the crunchy crushed peppermint on top. Also, who doesn’t like chocolate and mint? (Other than my weird little sister.)

I made these for V day because my roommate mentioned how awesome they were in a manner that suggested they might be appreciated, and her long distance bf is visiting this weekend–so it won’t just be she and I who eat all the cupcakes. Sounds like love to me.

Chocolate Ganache Peppermint Cupcakes

For the cake:
Box of cake mix (and the eggs and oil to make them)*
-Bake a bunch of cupcakes and let them cool [If you have not switched to silicone baking cups, get on that. They’ll make your life easier. And you never have to buy those paper muffin liners at the store any more.]

For the ganache
1/2 cup chocolate–either already in chip form, or broken into small, meltable pieces
1/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
-Melt the chocolate and cream, preferably in a double boiler
-Spread on top of each cupcake

For the peppermint whipped cream
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
(Less than) 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp peppermint extract
-Whip cream using an electric mixer, until cream has about doubled in size

Crushed candy canes or peppermints for garnish [Yes, it says garnish, but the peppermint pieces are crucial to the overall taste and appeal of the cupcakes.]

*Note: there is a place for homemade cake. Cupcakes that you’re smothering in delicious toppings isn’t one of them. Give yourself an extra hour or two of your day back, and just make them out of the box for situations like this. I’ll write about delicious homemade cake later.