I’ve written and rewritten this sentence 13 times. How do I compete with this?
Aren’t they cute? And tiny. And little. I have an affinity towards small things. Simon Birch is my favorite movie. And the only movie I can quote every line. “Ah, it’s a horse!” Simon says in a squeaky voice after coming into contact with a large dog. I feel that way sometimes too, Simon. Five. Zero. That’s all the length I’ve got. We short people have to stick together. And that’s why I like mini tarts. They’re just my size. Read more
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!
12 ounces (2 c.) good quality semisweet chocolate chips
1 c. crushed walnuts
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.
Add sugars to the butter. Using a mixer, mix until just combined. Do not over beat.
Add vanilla and eggs, and mix until just combined. Again, do not over beat.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Dough will look crumbly. You are right on track.
Stir in chocolate and crushed walnuts.
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.
Preheat oven to 375°. Meanwhile, place cookies in the fridge.
Bake for 18 minutes or until slightly browned around edges. Cookies will still be doughy in the middle.
Allow to cool completely before eating. They taste so much better with a rest. The doughy center will stiffen up.
• 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!)
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.
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.
In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of sugar.
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.
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.
Once mixture is cold, make ice cream according to your machine's instructions...
Three years ago today, we said I do. Three years! I guess we’re not newlyweds anymore. And I’m not so sad about that. I love that I know my husband 3 years better than I did when we got married. I love that I love my husband 3 years more than I did when we got married. The path hasn’t always been straight or easy, but it has been rewarding. So thankful to share this journey with Kevin, my sweet graduate school husband. To many decades more!
Speaking of sweet, I made a cake. A mini anniversary cake. I think I’ve started a new tradition in our marriage.
Isn’t it cute? Anything tiny is somehow cute. At it’s widest, it’s 3.5 inches—perfect for 2 people. It tastes like a wedding cake too. You know the wedding cake taste—fruity, decadent, and rich. So I took a risk and crafted a new recipe with hints of orange and almond (based off this one). Luckily the risk paid off—it’s my new favorite cake. Happy Anniversary to us!
Anniversary Cake Almond + orange cake, inspired by Cake Love
makes one 9-inch pan
1/2 c.+ 2 tbsp. unbleached AP flour
2 tbsp. potato starch (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
3 tbsp. finely ground almonds
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. half and half
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. orange zest
1 tbsp. orange juice, freshly squeezed
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 c. + 2 tbsp. extra-fine granulated sugar (I food process my regular sugar)
2 large eggs
1. Preheat oven to 350º. Set rack in the middle of the oven.
2. Set out ingredients and equipment. Sift flour. Finely pulse almonds to a flour like consistency. Measure dry ingredients into separate mixing bowl. Add flour and almonds and whisk together. Measure liquid ingredients into a separate bowl and set aside. Place butter and sugar in bowl of standing mixer. Crack eggs into a separate bowl and set aside.
3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on the lowest speed for 3-5 minutes. (This will feel odd, but keep it on low.)
4. With the mixer still on the lowest speed, add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
5. Add the dry ingredient mixture alternately with the liquid mixture in 3 to 5 additions each, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Move swiftly through the step to avoid overworking the batter. Don’t wait for the dry or liquid mixtures to be fully incorporated before adding the next. This step should take a total of about 60 seconds.
6. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl all the way down. Don’t miss the clumps of ingredients hiding on the bottom. Mix on medium speed for 15 to 20 seconds to develop the batter’s structure.
7. Prepare the 9-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Do not spray the sides of the pan. (This helps to keep your cake from doming in the middle as it bakes. The cake is able to crawl up the side as it bakes and maintain an even shape.)
8. Place batter in pan. Bake for 28 minutes.
9. Once the top of the cake doesn’t jiggle in the center, test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the middle of the cake. The center should be an even blonde color and the edges should be just beginning to pull away from the pan. When the skewer shows a touch of crumbs or comes out clean, the cake is done.
10. Cool cake for 20 minutes before removing from the pan. Use a small off-set spatula to loosen the cake from the rim of the pan. Carefully invert and remove parchment paper. Allow to cool completely before assembling.
Italian Meringue Buttercream with a hint of orange recipe from Cake Love by Warren Brown; makes 2-2 1/2 cups
* a candy thermometer is necessary for this recipe
1. Set out ingredients and equipment. Separate the egg whites into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (for the 1/2 egg white, crack into separate bowl and only add half of the white). Measure 1/2 cup sugar and the water into a 1-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Gently stir to combine. Measure the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar into a separate bowl. Cut the butter into tablespoon sized pieces and set aside.
2. To make the sugar syrup, place the candy thermomometer in the sauce pan and heat the mixture over medium-high heat. Partially cover with lid to capture the evaporating water—this helps to moisten the sides of the saucepan to prevent sugar crystals from forming.
3. With the mixer on high speed, begin whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks. When the peaks are stiff, you have a meringue.
4. Keep the mixture running and pour the 2 tablespoons of sugar into the meringue.
5. Raise the heat under the sugar syrup to bring the syrup to 245° if it’s not there already. When it has reached 245°, remove the thermometer and slowly pour the syrup into the meringue, with the mixer running. (It helps to hold the pan just above the height of the mixer. Pour confidently trying to hit the meringue and not the side of the bowl.)
6. After 1 to 2 minutes, reduce the speed of the mixture to medium for 3-4 minutes or until meringue is cooled. Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase the mixer speed to high for 1 to 2 minutes or until the butter is fully incorporated. Add orange oil. Mix one final time.
Assemble the Cake 1. Using biscuit cutters, cut two 3.5″ circles and two 2.5″ circles.
2. Assemble the tiers separately. Fill bottom layer of each tier with buttercream. Apply a crumb coat to each tier. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Ice bottom tier and top tier separately. To achieve the rustic look, pull a butter knife around the circumference of the cake. Start from bottom and work up.
4. Using a flexible spatula, carefully place the top tier of cake on to bottom tier. Clean up any knicks in the move. The italian meringue buttercream repairs easily.
5. Store cake in refrigerator, covered. Serve at room temperature.
*For in-depth cake assembly instructions, click here.
We celebrated my husband’s birthday last weekend. We’re now closer to 30 than 20. Kind of weird. In normal fashion, I asked him what kind of cake he wanted. Without hesitation, he said Lemon Raspberry Cake.
I was so excited he knew what he wanted, I made the cake without hesitation hoping he wouldn’t change his mind. As I was putting the final touches on the cake, I realized something. The cake was pink. Pale pink. I had just made my husband a pale pink birthday cake. I never considered that raspberry icing would produce a pink cake. Happy birthday little girl husband!
Luckily, he ate it in all it’s pale pink glory. I guess I could have done raspberry on the inside and lemon on the outside. The scarecrow said it best—If I only had a brain.
Speaking of lemon, this graced the inside of the cake.
Between all four layers.
Mini Lemon Raspberry Cake Yellow Butter Cake + Lemon Curd + Raspberry Italian Meringue Buttercream
Yellow Butter Cake
I halved the Yellow Butter Cake recipe from a couple posts back. Bake in a square pan. Follow recipe as directed. Check cake at 20 minutes. Allow to cool. Cut cake into fourths to achieve mini square cake as pictured.
Lemon Curd recipe from Cake Love by Warren Brown; yields 2 cups
1 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
4 large eggs
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled
1. Squeeze lemon juice making sure to strain out seeds. Measure sugar and cornstarch into a heavy bottomed saucepan. (I use my Le Creuset for this.) Crack eggs and yolks into a separate bowl and set aside.
2. Whisk lemon juice into sugar mixture, followed by the eggs and yolks.
3. Whisk in cold butter one tablespoon at a time.
4. Set saucepan over medium heat and bring to simmer, whisking continuously.
5. When you begin to see lava bubbles—large, slowly forming bubbles that burp steam—reduce the heat to the lowest setting and whisk briskly for 1 minute to pasteurize the lemon curd. (Lava bubbles usually appear 10 minutes in.)
6. Pour directly into bowl, and cover with plastic wrap pressed to surface to keep a skin from forming.
7. Immediately refrigerate for at least 3 hours before using. Note: I halved the recipe for the mini cake.
Raspberry Italian Meringue Buttercream
I halved the Italian Meringue Buttercream recipe from a couple posts back and added raspberries. Make recipe as directed. If you are making a full recipe, you’ll need 1/2 c. raspberries. If you are making a half recipe, you’ll need 1/4 c. raspberries. Puree raspberries in food processor. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the puree into a bowl to remove seeds. Add puree to buttercream and whip until combined.
Ice the Cake For a quick tutorial, click here. Serve cake at room temperature.
Can I let you in on a little secret? I wanted to show you a slice of the cake, but I wasn’t serving the cake until later that evening. So, I cut the cake. Took some pics. And put the cake back together. The Italian Meringue Buttercream is very forgiving like that.
I make one brownie recipe. It’s from the Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. It’s so good, I haven’t felt the need to try any other recipes out there. These brownies make an appearance in the annual Christmas in a Bowl. They are fudge-y as opposed to cake-y. They are dark chocolate as opposed to milk chocolate. They are salty as opposed to sweet. Ha! Just kidding. However, they do have a hint of kosher salt that makes them taste all the more sweeter. (Did you know that adding salt not only compliments but brings out the sweetness? It’s my favorite ingredient in baking.)
Go ahead. Give it a try. It may end your brownie search. Did I mention, they are super easy to make? One bowl? Quick clean-up. Are you convinced now?
c. (8 oz.) coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
tsp. pure vanilla extract
tsp. kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper by using 2 sheets of parchment paper, setting them perpendicular to one another in the pan. Set aside.
Add butter and chocolate in a double boiler set over a saucepan with simmering water. The water shouldn't touch the base of the double boiler. Whisk frequently until chocolate and butter are melted, about 7 minutes. Remove bowl from heat, and whisk in sugar until combined and cooled. Then whisk in eggs one at a time until incorporated. Whisk in vanilla. Gently fold in flour and salt with a spatula until just combined.
Pour batter into the prepared pan, and smooth top with the spatula. Bake until center is firm, about 40 to 45 minutes. These will be fudgey!
Using parchment, lift brownies out of pan and onto a wire rack to cool completely, at least 1 hour. Once cooled, store covered in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
• Let the brownies cool for well over an hour—I'd recommend 3 hours. They are really hard to cut right out of the oven because they are so gooey. Be patient. You will be rewarded.
• You may have to rinse your knife clean midway through cutting. This will make cutting the other half easier. The yummy brownie goo on the knife can make cutting difficult.
• Looking for more chocolate? Add 1/4 c. semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips into batter. Don't melt.
• Use the best you can find or afford.
• Wondering why they are so gooey? There is no leavener in this recipe, i.e. baking powder or baking soda. That's the difference between a cake-y brownie and a fudge-y brownie.
Oh nuts! I’ve been keeping a secret from you. A good kind of secret. Not the bad kind. Who am I kidding? I’m no good at keeping secrets. I’ve already spilled the beans. Can you guess what it is?
Drum roll please…Oh! Nuts. That’s my secret! Or should I say, my secret weapon. I’ve been dying to try a couple new recipes that call for almond flour, and they were nice enough to send me some. I’ve made my own almond flour before, but let me tell you, it’s tedious. Blanch almonds. Peel off skins (this takes forever!). Blend up finely. Who knew you could buy almond flour? This stuff is a time life saver! And it makes some darn good tarts.
Mini Almond Tarts with a Strawberry on Top yields 12 3-inch brioche molds
Almond Tart Dough recipe from Martha Stewart
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1/2 large egg, beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon almond flour
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugar until well combined. Add egg and mix, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
2. In a medium bowl, combine both flours. With the mixer on low speed, add flours all at once; mix until well combined.
3. Turn dough out onto work surface and form into two disks. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
4. Once dough is ready, preheat oven to 350°.
5. Place dough on a floured work surface, sprinkle dough with flour, and roll out to 1/4-inch thick. (You may have to wait until dough comes closer to room temp in order to roll out.) Cut out 12 circles using a 3 1/4-inch round cutter, re-rolling dough if necessary. Place each circle in a mini 3″ brioche mold, gently pressing down on the bottom and sides. Place filled molds on a baking sheet; transfer to a freezer for 20 minutes.
6. Transfer baking sheet to oven and bake tart shells until just golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer tart shells, in their molds, to a wire rack to cool completely.
Almond Pastry Cream recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen 2 c. half and half
1/2 c. sugar
Pinch of salt
5 egg yolks
3 tbsp. cornstarch
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces and chilled
1 tsp. almond extract
1.Bring half and half, 6 tablespoons of the sugar, and salt to a simmer in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar until smooth. Once half and half begins to simmer, slowly whisk one cup of the simmering half and half into the egg yolk mixture to temper, stirring constantly. Once combined, slowly whisk mixture back into the simmering sauce pan. Turn heat down to medium, and whisk constantly for about 30 seconds. Lava like bubbles will begin to burst on surface.
3. Remove pan from heat, and stir in chilled butter and almond extract. Transfer to bowl, and place plastic wrap directly on surface. Refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.
4. After pastry cream is chilled, pipe or scoop into prepared almond tarts.
5. Prepare strawberries by chopping off end with stem. Set strawberry up on flat side, and make thin slices almost cutting to bottom. Squeeze strawberry in center to fan out and set in pastry cream.
6. Cover and refrigerate. Serve chilled.
TIPS • Tart dough and pastry cream can be made up to 2 days in advance.
• Tart shells can be cooked one day in advance. Cover and leave at room temperature.
• Assemble tarts day of serving, no earlier.
Can you tell I’m a little obsessed with almonds right now? Last post—almond sugar cookies. Next post—it’s a secret (I guess I’m full of secrets these days, good ones though). But I can tell you, almond flour will be present.
I’ve been a big lazy bum this weekend. Reason being—Broomball.
We played Broomball Friday night, and it did me in for the whole weekend. After all the years of playing competitive soccer, I don’t think my body has ever hurt this bad. Maybe I’m getting old. In hindsight, I should have come armed with knee pads, elbow pads, and a helmet. Speaking of helmets, I took a nasty spill about 10 minutes into playing, hitting my head on the ice. A goose egg bump ensued. Being the competitive kamikaze athlete that I am, if you can even still call me an athlete, I kept playing. But, oh, I payed for it the rest of the weekend.
You’re probably thinking—”Does she want some cheese, with that whine?” I’ll pass on the cheese, but I’ll take a cookie instead. And that’s exactly what I did yesterday. I soothed my soul with a healthy chocolate chip cookie. I wasn’t about to try making a new recipe to blog about with my head being a little more foggy than normal. There’s no telling how it would have turned out. So I stuck with what I knew—an oldie but a favorite.
This little gem of a cookie will delight your palette. It’s tiny. Cute. With hints of maple. Filled with dark chocolate. And hidden with healthy morsels of whole wheat flour, oats, walnuts, and honey. Even college students, known for their fast food pizza eating habits, love these cookies.
In a sauce pan, melt butter and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, Whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in bowl.
In food processor or high-powered blender, finely grind oats, and add to flour mixture. Then finely grind walnuts. add to flour mixture.
Into cooled butter mixture, whisk in sugar, honey, egg, and vanilla extract until sugar is dissolved and all ingredients are well combined.
Pour butter mixture into flour mixture, and mix until just combined. (Dough will be somewhat dry.)
Mix in chocolate chips.
Scoop cookies with a spring release scoop or roll in ball by hand. Chocolate chips will have a nasty tendency to drop out of the cookies. Give them a little nudge to stay inside. Roll cookies in turbinado and cinnamon mixture and place on silpat or parchment paper lined pan. Do not flatten.
Bake for about 10 minutes. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes.
You can also freeze these cookies before baking. Do everything up to step 9. Instead of placing the cookies in the cookies in the oven, place them in the freezer on the cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes. This process is called flash freezing. Once they are frozen or hard, you can put them in a freezer proof bag and store up to 2 months in freezer. When you are ready for a cookie or two, set the cookie(s) out on your pan while preheating the oven. Bake for the same amount of time. You may have to add 2 minutes or so. With this method, you can have a freshly baked cookie instead of eating a week old cookie.
Go ahead and treat yourself to a cookie. A healthy(ish) one at that!