I’m not sure if I should title this Cupcakes 101, Baking 101, or Melissa’s Baking Philosophy. I did a presentation on this a couple weeks ago and called it Cupcakes 101. So we’ll stick with that. Just know—this isn’t your ordinary cupcake talk. I apologize.

I mentioned doing a presentation. On food. First time ever. Yes, I was nervous. Nail biting nervous. I’m used to presenting logos, brochures, and ideas, but food…I love food. It’s got an extra soft spot in my heart and in my stomach. But I’m no expert. I’m self taught. I guess you could say Martha taught me everything I know via daytime television. That gives me some credibility. But it ends there. Most days, it’s just me, my kitchen, trial, and error. Read more

Last month I made this decadent chocolate chip cake. And topped it with a hand drawn sign. I had every intention of making it available to you, but in the flurry of serving and eating the cake, the sign disappeared. Probably selling for big bucks on e-Bay. Ha!

Ask and you shall receive. A reader asked for the sign this week so I decided to go digging around for my original template. Found—under a stack of unread Real Simple magazines. (Don’t worry, I will read these cover to cover.) So, I did a little scanning and editing and viola! A downloable PDF just for you! Read more

Basil Ice Cream | @thefauxmartha

So excited to finally share what I’ve been concocting this week! I’m guest posting over at Baking with Basil, so you’ll have to head on over there to get the full scoop, pun intended. But first—can I tell you that this ice cream tastes absolutely incredible despite what you may be thinking. And the lemon wafer cookie just puts it over the top. Basil. Who would of thought? Thankfully, Brooke had faith in me. She is one brave lady! While you’re there, stay awhile and check out all of her great recipes. Bon Appetit!

UPDATE: Basil Ice Cream recipe originally posted at Baking with Basil.

Basil Ice Cream
Serves: 1 1/2 quarts
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. half and half
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 1/2 c. basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 1 1/4 c. sugar
  • dash of sea salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. In a blender, puree milk and basil leaves.
  2. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, combine milk puree, half and half, heavy cream, 1 cup of sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine. Give it a little taste to make sure you have enough salt.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 1/4 cup of sugar.
  4. Over medium-high heat, heat milk mixture until sugar dissolves and begins to simmer. Slowly pour about one cup of the simmering milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to temper the eggs (a.k.a. cook the eggs without scrambling them). Add egg mixture to sauce pan, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Turn heat off. Add vanilla extract.
  5. Pour mixture in a large bowl. Cover and place in fridge to cool, about 3 hours. To speed up the cooling process, place bowl in an ice bath in the fridge, or place in the freezer sans ice bath.
  6. Once mixture is cold, make ice cream according to your machine’s instructions.
  7. Serve with a lemon wafer cookie (purchase at Whole Foods) and a sprig of basil if you wish.

Italian White Bean Hummus | @thefauxmartha

My absolute favorite restaurant serves italian white bean hummus with flatbread crisps as an appetizer. (Please promise me you’ll go here if you are ever in the Chicago area.) I could go just for the hummus and maybe a drink. But you know how that goes—if you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk.

Because I can’t abstain from the rest of the menu, I learned how to make white bean hummus at home. It’s pretty darn close, and it’s pretty darn good. Although I have yet to try making the flat bread crisps. Not sure if I can pull those off.

Can I tell you the best thing about this hummus? It brings good friends around a table. Put a couple plates of hummus out. Pita chips. Or grilled naan. A bottle of wine. And that’s a recipe for a good evening.

Italian White Bean Hummus | @thefauxmartha

Italian White Bean Hummus
Serves: serves 8-12
 
Ingredients
  • 2 15oz. cans of cannellini beans
  • 1/4 c. tahini paste (you can buy this at Whole Foods)
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil + more for serving
  • 1/4 c.-1/2 c. water
  • red pepper flakes
  • parmesan cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Rinse and drain beans.
  2. Place beans in a food processor or high powered blender. Add tahini, lemon juice, salt, cumin, and garlic.
  3. Turn the processor on and slowly pour in olive oil. Process until smooth and thick. Add warm water to thin if texture is too thick. Cover and refrigerate.
  4. To serve, place hummus on a plate. Drag the back of a spoon in a swirling pattern around top of hummus (not pictured). Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes. Accompany with pita chips, naan, or flat bread crisps.
Notes
Recipe adapted from Food Network.

I’ve departed from my normal flour, butter, and sugar gig this week. I hope you don’t mind.

Confession: I’m a mexican food junkie, and I eat way too much guacamole. But I wasn’t always this way. Sadly, my unrefined childhood taste buds didn’t crave guac until I was in college. I lost a good 20 years of consumption. However, I think I’ve made up for it in the last six years. Thank goodness for its health benefits.

Every time I make guac, I think of my mom. She first introduced me to it with a recipe called—Game Day Guacamole. I can still see it peeking out of her overly stuffed light blue checked recipe box. Excuse me while I reminisce. The fact that food has the ability to conjure up vivid memories makes me love it even more.

I wish I could say that I still use the Game Day recipe, but I don’t. Being the hard-headed person that I am, I had to come up with my own recipe. I blame it on the artist in me. I’m like a dog marking its territory. I have to put my stamp on everything. Knowing how I am now, I can only imagine what I was like as a child. My apologies Mom and Dad. But lucky for you, I have perfected my recipe. At least to my liking. So go ahead, and give it a try.

The best thing about this recipe—it’s not a science. Precision isn’t a must. Taste as you go. Follow your gut. And put your own stamp on it, or not.

Guacamole
recipe from yours truly  

5 ripe avocados, peeled
1/4 c. chopped grape tomatoes
2 tbsp. chopped red onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
3-6 jarred jalapeños, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
half of a lime, squeezed
sea salt

1. Add avocados to a large bowl and mash. Click here for a peeling how-to.
2. Mix in tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro, jalapeños, cumin, and lime juice.
3. Add Sriracha and sea salt to taste.
4. Taste. Add more where you see fit. It’s usually salt or cumin for me.
5. Press plastic wrap on surface of guacamole. This will keep oxygen from creeping in and turning things brown before you serve it.

I’m writing this post as fast a my warm swollen fingers can type. I’m not telling you anything new when I say it’s hot out. Horribly hot. And I hate abhor the heat. The only thing that can make it better—iced coffee.

So stop what you’re doing right now and start making this. It has to sit overnight. You’ll thank me later, I promise. Your mornings will be happier and cooler. Your forehead will perspire a bit less. And your freshly pressed (Huh? Not me.) shirt wont stick to your damp back. It’s a christmas miracle in July.

No brewing is involved. I’ll explain below.

Drip, drip, drip.

With a dash of cream.

All better.

Iced Coffee
recipe from Smitten Kitchen, makes about 6 drinks

1 c. coffee (medium-coarse grind)
4 1/2 c. water

1. Pour coffee and water into a bowl. Cover and let sit for 12 hours.
2. Pull out your coffee carafe and filter. Place filter in the opening of the carafe and pour coffee mixture. Once strained, you have your concentrate so to speak.
3. Fill glass with equal parts concentrate and water, plus ice cubs. Or if you’re like me, just add ice cubes to the concentrate. I like it blacker than black. Store leftover concentrate covered in fridge.
4. Celebrate the lack of perspiration over your morning cup of joe.
5. Finally, friends don’t let friends drink hot coffee in the summer. Spread the word!

Just warning you—I’m coming off a migraine while writing this post. Please attribute poor grammar, crazy talk, or confusing sentences to this.

Apple does it. They make revisions. My Mac is on version 10.6.6. So I’m gonna do it too. I’m revising my Not Your Mom’s Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. 2.0 here we go. It’s not that the last recipe was bad, but I thought it could use a little improving. I’m my own worst critic. You know how it goes.

The last recipe wasn’t sweet enough for me. But I fought and fought adding more sugar. 2 cups is kinda a lot. Eventually, I caved and gave it a try. 2 1/2 cups later, I’m not turning back. Sweeter is definitely better! And with that, my brain is spent. Sorry for the short post. The fog is just too thick. But not as thick as these delish 2.0 cookies!

Not your Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Serves: about 18 large cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 c. unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 12 ounces (2 c.) good quality semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c. crushed walnuts
Instructions
  1. Using a grater, grate chilled butter into a large bowl. Make sure to scrape out butter left on grater. If butter is too warm, stick it in the freezer for 5 minutes.
  2. Add sugars to the butter. Using a mixer, mix until just combined. Do not over beat.
  3. Add vanilla and eggs, and mix until just combined. Again, do not over beat.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  5. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Dough will look crumbly. You are right on track.
  6. Stir in chocolate and crushed walnuts.
  7. Take off your rings—you’re gonna need your hands for this. Gather dough into a large ball, as you would if you were making a snow ball. Place on pan lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Only bake 6 cookies at a time, trust me on this. When I baked 12 at a time, they seemed to flatten out a bit more.
  8. Preheat oven to 375°. Meanwhile, place cookies in the fridge.
  9. Bake for 18 minutes or until slightly browned around edges. Cookies will still be doughy in the middle.
  10. Allow to cool completely before eating. They taste so much better with a rest. The doughy center will stiffen up.
Notes
• You can make smaller versions of these cookies (or rather normal-sized cookies). It will yield double the amount. Bake 8 up at a time and reduce the cook time to 13-15 minutes.

• If you're a flour sifter, skip it for this recipe.

• Skipping the walnuts will yield a flatter cookie. Additional flour is needed. (I haven't tested it yet without. If you do, please let me know!)

For step by step images, click here. Recipe inspired by Vanilla Sugar.

The other day, I made this. And topped it off with this. The other night, graduate school husband had the guys over, and they ate every last drop of this. However, they didn’t believe this was homemade, so he had to pull out the ice cream maker to prove that this was the real deal.

Vanilla Ice Cream
Serves: 1 1/2 quarts
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. half and half
  • 1 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1 c. + 2 tbsp. pure cane sugar
  • dash of sea salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan (I use my Le Creuset), combine half and half, whole milk, heavy cream, 1 cup of sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine. Give it a little taste to make sure you have enough salt. Yes, salt.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of sugar.
  3. Over medium-high heat, heat milk mixture until sugar dissolves and begins to simmer. Slowly pour about one cup of the simmering milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to temper the eggs (a.k.a. cook the eggs without scrambling them). Add egg mixture to sauce pan, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Turn heat off. Add vanilla extract.
  4. Pour mixture in a large bowl over a fine mesh sieve to catch any egg clumps. Cover and place in fridge to cool, about 3 hours. To speed up the cooling process, place bowl in an ice bath in the fridge, or place in the freezer sans ice bath.
  5. Once mixture is cold, make ice cream according to your machine's instructions...

… and then eat some of this. It’s the real deal.

SIDE NOTE: Help The Fauxmartha Facebook Page get 200 likes and a giveaway is in order!