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WhoopiePiePanS10

You pretty little darlings are coming home with me tonight.  I will use you to create deliciousness the world has never known before.  And it involves Nutella.

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Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

I was too busy eating these lava cakes on Valentine’s Day and forgot to blog them.  Chocolate lava cakes, while so luscious and rich, are deceptively simple.  The “lava” is really just uncooked batter, pooling in the center.  I could kick myself for not blogging these earlier because lava cakes are also a perfect date recipe — if you’re cooking a dinner at home, the batter can be made earlier in the day and spooned into a muffin pan.  At just eight minutes cooking time, you can pop these in the oven while clearing the dishes from dinner, and voila! amazing rich delicious hot chocolate cakes.  While lots of lava cake recipes generally suggest serving it with a raspberry sauce, I took a twist on that and decided to just stick a couple of whole raspberries in the center of each cake.  Feel free to omit if you just want the oozy chocolate.  I also added cognac to my batter to give it a warm kick — raspberries, chocolate and cognac are my idea of a perfect combination.  You can serve it with some fresh whipped cream, or even ice cream.  (Mr. Kitchen will put ice cream on just about anything.)
Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Cognac Raspberry Chocolate Lava Cakes

Adapted from a Paula Deen Recipe
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 stick) butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 large eggs
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Cognac
1/2 cup raspberries, rinsed (optional)
Butter a medium sized muffin pan and preheat the oven to 425°.
In a double boiler, melt the butter and add chocolate.  (For a makeshift double boiler, put a heatproof bowl in a simmering pot of water — it’s better to have the bowl touching the water than the bowl touching the sides of the pot.) As the chocolate begins to melt, remove the bowl from the water.  Continue mixing the chocolate and butter until perfectly smooth and fully incorporated.  Add the cognac and vanilla and mix together.  In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs and egg yolks, and then add the sugar.  Mix into the chocolate.  Stir in the flour until smooth.
If you’re using the raspberries, spoon a tablespoon of the batter into each muffin space in the pan (assuming 12).  Put two whole raspberries into each muffin space, taking care to keep the raspberries in the center.  Spoon remaining mixture into each space.  Bake for 8-10 minutes on the center rack of the oven.  Cakes are done when the sides are set and the top is no longer runny.  Top with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar, fresh whipped cream, ice cream or nothing at all!
Chocolate

OMG Chocolate

Isolating yolks for the cognac raspberry chocolate lava cakes

Isolating yolks for the Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Mixing in the flour for the Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Mixing in the flour for the Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Pouring the batter for the Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Pouring the batter for the Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

Cognac Chocolate Raspberry Lava Cakes

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Super Brownies for the Super Bowl

It’s been a busy couple of months around the Kitchen, with the holidays and wedding planning taking up much of our time.  This past week was my birthday, and Mr. Kitchen got me an awesome present — a gift certificate for a workshop with DessertTruck here in NYC, where I will be learning to make macaroons!

Since it’s Super Bowl Sunday, I wanted to pass along a new recipe for these fantastic brownies — with three types of chocolate (baker’s unsweetened, dark, and semi-sweet) and a generous heaping of peanut butter, they’re not too sweet but incredibly rich.

They don’t take long to make, so if you’re planning to head to a party for this evening’s 6:30 kick off, you’ve still got time!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownies

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Adapted from a Martha Stewart Recipe

The Batter 

1 stick butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for buttering baking pan

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate (Baker’s provides 1 oz squares, if you’re using a bar, chop the chocolate into chunks)

1 ounce dark chocolate

4 ounces semisweet chocolate morsels,  plus an extra 2 ounces for chocolate chunks in the brownies

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Peanut Butter Mixture

1/2 stick of butter (melted)

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

3/4 cup smooth peanut butter

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.

Put butter in a double-boiler (set a heatproof over a pan of simmering water).  Stir until melted and add chocolate (unsweetened, dark and 4 ounces of the semi sweet morsels), mixing until the chocolate is fully melted and incorporated into the butter. Let cool slightly.

Whisk granulated sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs, and whisk until mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder and add flour mixture to chocolate mixture.  Stir until well incorporated (about 3-4 minutes).   Stir in the remaining chocolate morsels.

To make the peanut butter swirl mixture, stir together butter, confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth.  I’ve found that melting the butter in a double boiler, adding the sugar and then the peanut butter and whisking together works well.  Just be sure to let the butter cool slightly before adding everything else. 

When pouring the batter and peanut butter filling, you’ll have to work quickly.  Pour one-half the batter into the buttered pan and spread it evenly with a rubber spatula. Drop heaps of peanut butter filling (about 2 tablespoons each) on the batter, spacing about 1 inch apart. This should amount to about half the peanut butter filling.  Pour the remaining batter on top, and gently spread to fill pan. Drop heaps of remaining peanut butter filling on top. Gently swirl peanut butter filling into batter with a butter knife, running the knife lengthwise and crosswise, with the tip of the knife hitting the bottom of the pan.

Bake about 45-50 minutes in center rack of oven, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into brownies comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, about 45 minutes. Let cool in pan, slice and remove and let cool completely on a rack.  

A trick for cutting brownies:  Use a plastic knife! I don’t know why, but it stops the brownies from crumbling/cracking/falling apart while cutting.

Melting the chocolate for triple chocolate peanut butter brownies

Melting the chocolate for triple chocolate peanut butter brownies

Mixing the batter for triple chocolate peanut butter brownies

Mixing the batter for triple chocolate peanut butter brownies

Mixing the peanut butter for triple chocolate peanut butter brownies

Mixing the peanut butter for triple chocolate peanut butter brownies

Mixing in the peanut butter for triple chocolate peanut butter brownies

Mixing in the peanut butter for triple chocolate peanut butter brownies

Pre-bake triple chocolate peanut butter brownies

Pre-bake triple chocolate peanut butter brownies

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Pumpkin Delicious

With Thanksgiving coming up, I have been all about the pumpkins.   Completely versatile, pumpkins can go savory or sweet and can be used in ravioli, risotto, pies, cakes, lattes — the list goes on and on.   Last year, for a “Pre-Thanksgiving” dinner with friends, I made a bourbon pumpkin cheesecake that was actually really easy and a fantastic addition to the fabulous spread of desserts we had.   I may make it again this year, perhaps with a salted caramel twist.  (I’ll admit, I’m easy prey for some of the food trends, but salted caramel is really just awesome.)  For our recent winery trip, I thought we might want sweet treats to go with the Empanadas so I made Spiced Pumpkin Doughnuts with a Maple Icing Glaze.  The confectioner sugar-based icing is the perfect complement to a well spiced pumpkin dough.  I’d never made doughnuts before and was pleasantly surprised by how easy they were to make.  The one tricky part was making sure that the shortening remained the right temperature.  Too hot and you burn the doughnuts — too cool and they become soggy and oily.  If you don’t have one, it’s best to invest in a candy/oil thermometer before trying to make the doughnuts.

Mr. Kitchen was my sous-chef on this one — we had a great time trying to make sure neither of us got third degree burns from splattering oil.   As Mr. Kitchen found out — it’s best to gently place the dough in the oil — dropping it in = nasty blisters.  There were the obligatory Dunkin Donuts “Time to make the donuts” references and lots of expletives as I grew impatient and tried rolling out the dough before it had totally chilled.  Don’t try that — it’s an exercise in futility.  Of course we just had to try the doughnuts out — you know, to make sure they were edible.  (I think we probably “tasted” half a dozen each.)  If this keeps up I’ll never fit in my wedding dress.

 

Pumpkin spice doughnuts with maple icing

Pumpkin spice doughnuts with maple icing

Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts With Maple Icing

Doughnuts  (Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)

*This recipe makes over 20 small doughnuts (if you’re re-rolling out the doughnut holes)

2 tablespoons butter (softened)

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup pure pumpkin (canned is fine)

1/3 cup buttermilk

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

Shortening for deep frying  (I think I probably used nearly half a container — you will want your shortening/oil to be at least an inch deep)

You will need a candy/oil thermometer for this for best results.

Maple Icing

2 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

4 tablespoons milk

1/4 teaspoon maple extract

The Doughnuts: In  a large bowl, beat butter with mixer on medium for about 1 minute.  Add the sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.  Beat until combined.  Beat in pumpkin, buttermilk, egg and egg yolk, and vanilla until combined.  Using a wooden spoon or a spatula, stir in flour until well combined.  Cover and chill for about 2-3 hours.  After the dough has chilled, roll it out to about 1/8″ thickness (if you want thicker, bigger doughnuts, roll out the dough to 1/4″ thickness).  Cut with a floured doughnut cutter.  Definitely dip the cutter in flour in between cuts.  Re-roll out the dough as necessary (or reserve the centers for doughnut holes).

Keep a slotted spoon handy.  Clip the thermometer to the side of a deep pan and add shortening and heat until the temperature reaches 365-370º.  Very very carefully place the dough into the hot shortening.  With the slotted spoon, turn over the doughnuts after about 45 seconds to 1 minute and cook for another 45 seconds or so.  With the slotted spoon, remove the doughnuts and let drain on paper towels.  Repeat with remaining doughnuts.

The Icing: As the doughnuts cool, prepare the icing by beating together the confectioner’s sugar, milk and maple extract.  Drizzle over the doughnuts.  Best served warm or at room temperature.

Incorporating the flour into the pumpkin mixture

Incorporating the flour into the pumpkin mixture

Rolling out and cutting the spiced pumpkin doughnuts

Rolling out and cutting the spiced pumpkin doughnuts

Frying the pumpkin spice doughnuts

Frying the pumpkin spice doughnuts

Pumpkin spice doughnuts with maple icing

Pumpkin spice doughnuts with maple icing

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Well that didn’t go as planned…

I know that I’m a bit late for the Labor Day BBQ recipes, but I was a little traumatized after my attempt to make peanut butter and jelly cupcakes, only to have them turn out like golden and slightly burned hockey pucks.

I have a baking disaster every once in a while and I guess I was due for one.   I painstakingly put these little babies together, carefully piping some jelly into the batter, topping that with more batter.

Peanut butter and jelly cupcake batter

Peanut butter and jelly cupcake batter, pre-topping

I was worried that the oils from the peanut butter might bake quickly, so I took them out a minute before the low-end on the baking range, but to no avail.  Hockey pucks.  Mr. Kitchen said they were still pretty tasty.  That’s why we’re getting married.  Cause he’s got no problem eating my reject cupcakes.  He accepts my occasional baking screw-ups.  This pairs nicely with my usual ability to ignore the fact that his clothes never seem to make it into the hamper.*

Peanut butter and jelly cupcakes

Sad peanut butter and jelly cupcakes

I think maybe I’ve figured out how to amend the recipe to fix the peanut butter oil problem, but it will take more testing and patience than I’ve got time for right now.  Instead, I’m giving you my absolutely no-fail Oh-My-God amazing butterscotch chocolate chunk recipe.

Super yummy and man-o-man is this perfect with a glass of milk.  Speaking of milk, did I mention that Mr. Kitchen’s family used to own a dairy farm? I’m trying to concoct a death-by-dairy recipe in honor of our recent trip to Michigan.  If you’ve got suggestions, let me know.  In the mean-time…. Butterscotch Chocolate Chunks!

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

*Adapted very heavily from Nick Manglieri’s Modern Baker

(Makes about 12 large cookies)

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

10 tbsp softened butter (salted) (about 1 1/4 sticks)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg

12 oz chocolate chunks (I tend to over-chunk my cookies, but I love em this way) — Note you can mix dark chocolate, bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate

2 cookie sheets (I like to line mine with foil, but parchment is also an option)

Preheat oven to 350º

Stir flour and baking powder together in a bowl and set aside.  In a separate bowl, combine softened butter, brown sugar, sugar, and vanilla and beat with mixer until just mixed.  Then beat in egg.  Be careful not to over-beat this mixture, which will result in flat cookies.  With a large spatula, stir the flour into the wet mixture.  Add chocolate chunks and gently combine.  Drop heaping spoonfuls of dough on to cookie sheets lined with foil or parchment.  Gently press cookies down.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cookies have risen a bit and are golden.

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Gently mixed dough for Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Giant cookies!

Baked Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Baked Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

*Sometimes I go ape-shit over this.  Once it’s out of my system, I bake him cookies.

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The Everything Good Cookie — Love at First Bite

Mr. Kitchen and I may be hazy about the first meal I ever made for him, but we’re definitely in agreement on the first thing I baked for him:  Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies.  I made these shortly after Mr. Kitchen and I first started dating.   These beautiful drop cookies are also known in our household as The Everything Good Cookie because they are a mixture of everything heavenly on Earth — peanut butter, steel cut oats, chunks of semi-sweet chocolate and sometimes, when I’m feeling frisky — walnuts or pecans.  Mr. Kitchen swore he heard the Seraphim after eating just one bite.  I knew I had him then.   I don’t bake them all that often — their yummy potency can be overwhelming (for the waistline) but when Mr. Kitchen has done something super awesome, I break out the recipe.   (Oh who am I kidding — I bake these when I’m PMSing too.)  I can’t remember where I saw the basis for this recipe, which I’m sure was a peanut butter cookie, but I just kept adding things until the dough literally couldn’t take anymore ingredients without totally falling apart.

I also think these are the perfect fall cookie and, maybe it’s a result of the super hot summer we’ve had in New York this year, but I’ve been craving the fall like nobody else.  I’ve taken to cooking those stick-to-your ribs type casseroles too in the irrational hopes that it will bring a change in the season.  (More on those next time.)  This is what happens to me in August in New York.  I go a little batty.  August also makes me want to buy school supplies, even though I’ve been out of school for nearly a decade.  Go figure.

Now, like I said — this recipe — the force is strong with this one.  Use sparingly, unless you want yourself a stalker.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes 12 fairly large cookies

3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats (steel cut oats)

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 stick salted butter (softened)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 tbsp vanilla

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1 large egg

Approx 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks (the amount really depends on how much you like chocolate)

* Optional — 3/8 cup nuts (walnuts work well)

In a food processor (or a blender), pulse 1/2 cup oats.  In a large bowl, mix together whole oats, ground oats, flour, baking powder and baking soda.  In another bowl, beat together butter and sugar until creamy, then add vanilla and peanut butter.  Mix well.  Add egg and beat well.  Add in flour mixture and beat well.  Add in chocolate chunks and nuts (if adding) and gently mix together.  Chill cookie dough at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 325º  Drop large spoonfuls (think the size of a medium meatball) of cookie mix onto foiled cookie sheet (ungreased is fine) and gently press down on cookies to flatten slightly.  Cookies should be placed 1.5-2″ apart if possible.  Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  **I’ve found that these cookies are best when just the bottom is golden brown.

These are amazing fresh out of the oven with a scoopful of vanilla ice cream on top.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

The peanut butter mixture gooeyness

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

The dough -- try to resist eating this raw!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Drop the dough, flatten slightly

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Cooking Into His Heart

As the size of my butt can attest, I love food.  Some of my fondest memories of when I first began dating Mr. Kitchen, my almost-husband, involve cooking for him.  He swears the first thing I made for him was Empanadas, but I think it was sausage and peppers.  In either case, I do remember he always asked for seconds.   He still does.  I think I did, in some way, cook my way into his heart.   He says that my cooking showed him I cared for him — that I wanted to take care of him.  I think that’s likely true for a lot of people, but let’s face it — the cliche “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” exists for a reason.  I know lots of women who agonize over cooking for their would-be boyfriend for the first-time.  They want to bring their A-game, to somehow make their guy all weak-kneed in their domestic goddess presence.  For any of you who might be searching for that perfect, but not terribly hard “wow” recipe, I present “You’re Gonna Remember Me Berry Brown Bettys.”

Berry Brown Bettys, Strawberry Blueberry Challah Bread Brown Bettys

Strawberry Blueberry Challah Bread Brown Bettys

This recipe is great for two reasons: you can prep much of this beforehand; and it’s super fast to make.  I can’t imagine any man who would turn this down, when served warm with fresh whipped cream.  It’s got a magical mixture of Challah bread, berries, butter, sugar…. really could anything be better?  Plus, that leftover Challah? Well I’ve got another recipe for you in case the date goes really well and he’s there for breakfast.

You’re Gonna Remember Me Brown Bettys  (AKA Strawberry Blueberry Challah Bread Brown Bettys)

Adapted from Gourmet and Smitten Kitchen

Makes six individual desserts

Challah Loaf

3/4 stick salted butter

1/8 cup light brown sugar

4 tbsp All-purpose flour

1/2 cup Japanese bread crumbs (Panko)

1/2 cup blueberries, rinsed

1 cup strawberries, rinsed, stemmed and sliced

1 teaspoon lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Whipped cream (this can be refrigerated for a couple of hours beforehand if you’re making it fresh)

A muffin tin  (preferably holding six muffins, but 12 will do)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat until golden.  Remove from heat.  Use a brush to coat the muffin tin.  (Note: If you’re using a 12-muffin tin, only coat six of the spaces unless you are doubling this recipe.)  Slice six pieces off Challah loaf and gently cut crusts off.  Roll the bread with a rolling pin until flattened.  Brush both sides of the bread with butter and gently press slices into muffin tin (one slice in each space).  Stir together brown sugar, flour and Panko.  If using zest, incorporate into dry ingredients, otherwise, incorporate lemon juice into strawberries and blueberries.  Add remaining butter to mixture.  Toss ingredients gently to coat berries in flour/Panko/sugar mixture.  Spoon heaping spoonfuls into muffin tin, pressing down gently to pack mixture in.

Note:  If you are using a 12 muffin tin and are only making six Brown Bettys, be sure to fill the empty spaces about halfway full with water.  This will prevent scorching in the pan and burning your Bettys!

Cover the pan with foil and bake for 15 minutes, then remove foil and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until strawberries are tender.  (Some of the blueberries may burst — don’t worry, they taste better that way!)  Let stand for 5-7 minutes and top with whipped cream.  These are best when served warm.

Challah Bread Rolled Out

Rolled out Challah bread

Challah Bread Pressed in Muffin Tin for Brown Bettys

Pressing the Challah bread into the muffin tin

Baked Strawberry Blueberry Challah Bread Brown Bettys

Baked Strawberry Blueberry Challah Bread Brown Bettys

Finished Challah Bread Strawberry Blueberry Brown Bettys

Finished Challah Bread Strawberry Blueberry Brown Bettys

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