Gingerbread: a second fling.

June 10, 2011 § 1 Comment

Dark Brown Sugar is not in the best mood. Molasses has ignored her for almost three months. They had a fling back in March, but maybe he just lost interest? Was she too easy? Like, it turned out great, and the result was truly magnificent…so why hadn’t they talked for so long? That’s it, Brown Sugar says to herself. She turns around and looks at Molasses, who’s facing the opposite direction at the other end of the shelf. Oh well. Here’s to being assertive.

BS: Hey, Mollass! It’s been a long time, huh?

Molasses slowly rotates himself to face her.

M: What? Oh, hi. Errm….yeah, I guess it has. How, uh, are you?
BS: Oh, you know, just chillin’ n’ killin’.
M: That’s cool…

Silence.

BS: Ok, look. I don’t get it. That gingerbread we made a few months ago was great. I don’t understand what happened. Did I do something wrong? Why’ve you been ignoring me?
M: …
BS: Hello?! Get out of my face forever or express yourself now. RUDE.
M: Um…look, Sugie, I um…I…I don’t know how to…uh…I… I went with your sister! Light Brown Sugar. I mean, she made me. It was her fault. I…really…I had no choice…
BS: …
M: I’m sorry. What we had was great. I didn’t mean to ruin it.
BS: [shouting hysterically] Well, you can take your cloyingly sweet, cheating self and stick -

Suddenly, the cabinet doors swing open and the daylight streams in. Two hands reach in (FoodGirl’s) and simultaneously scoop up Molasses and Brown Sugar. The two ex-lovers look at each other while still in mid-air.

BS: You totally don’t deserve this, but I guess I’ll have to give you another chance.
M: I promise I won’t ever-
BS: Just shut up.
M: I promise I’ll make it up to you. I’ll make it good.

And oh, was it good.

3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1 cup blackstrap molasses
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1  teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot water
1/4 cup dark brown sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Butter and lightly flour a cupcake or muffin pan.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Stir in egg, followed by molasses.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, soda, spices, and salt. Mix until all ingredients are evenly distributed throughout.
  4. Add dry to wet ingredients, mixing well. Add hot water and continue to mix until batter is consistent.
  5. Pour batter into muffin tins and sprinkle tops with brown sugar.
  6. Bake for about twenty minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Test that they’re done by sticking a knife into muffin center. Knife should come out almost clean.

adapted from an old-fashioned gingerbread loaf recipe at allrecipes.

Black Bottom Coconut Bars and the Art of Baking the Gift

June 10, 2011 § 1 Comment

When I don’t know what to give, I bake. Be it a distant friend’s birthday fiesta or a dinner party or whatnot, concocting something delicious seems a more personal present than the usual bottle of wine. Does he/she seem like a chocolate chugger? A vanilla villain? A peanut butter lover? Once I find out, I stir, pour, and mix away until the doing’s done and then wrap it in wax paper, then cellophane, then tissue paper, and tie ‘er up with a funky ribbon. So much sweeter than a boring bottle o’ tipsy. And always creates magic.

These BBC bars are so gooey. The textures of the crispy topping, creamy center, and crunchy nutty bottom are such a magnificent combo. I’m graduating college in less than a week (eek!) and made these for an intimate goodbye dinner among friends. Baked them the morning of, tied each bar up in red wrapping paper and blue ribbon, and gave them out at the end. Thanks, BBC bars. You were loved.

Choco-Crust
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter + more for greasing pan
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Coconut Filling
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 package sweetened shredded coconut (7 ounces)

  1. Preheat oven to 375º. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving a slight overhang; butter bottom and sides of foil.
  2. Heat butter on stove top or in microwave. In a bowl, combine melted butter, sugar, and salt. Whisk. While stirring, add egg, cocoa, and flour. Continue to mix until smooth. Spread evenly in prepared pan.
  3. Bake about 12 minutes, or until just set.
  4. While bottom cools, prepare filling: in a clean bowl, combine eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Mix. Gently fold in flour, followed by coconut (BUT set aside 1/2 cup for later).
  5. Drop globs of coconut topping onto crust and, with moistened fingers or a wet spoon, smooth until evenly distributed.
  6. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup coconut and bake in oven for 25 minutes, or until knife comes out almost completely clean.
  7. Cool in pan before lifting out and cutting into squares.

adapted from always amazing Martha.

Ginger Snappies

May 27, 2011 § 2 Comments

Aaaaaaand we’re back! Less than three weeks until my college graduation. And WHAT a long time it’s been since the magic of baking has occurred in this apartment. I’m in the midst of writing final essays, doing last film projects, wrapping up boxes and friendships and whatnot. But this morning, that white crinkled paper bag of all-purpose flour called to me from the cabinet as I reached for my daily handful of almonds from the adjacent one. “Boo to you, FoodGirl, for forgetting me!” he shouted, crouching down in helpless rage and glaring with his bleached eyes through the darkness, past the sugar, the baking soda, the chocolate chips. I sighed. “Forgive me. Let’s start over. Let’s just pretend this whole situation never even happened, ok?” I reached in, the palm of my hand grasping his thick, full sides, and set him down on the counter top. He straightened up, uncrinkling a bit. “Harumph. Well. That’s better. What should we bake?”

[Note that these cookies are indeed quite crunchy (snappy?), so get ready for a crunch-o-liscious foodgasm. Those who prefer their cookies soft, run far away!]

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, cut up
1/4 cup well-packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup light molasses (aka treacle!)

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, ginger, powder, and salt. Stir.
  2. In a small saucepan, on low heat, melt butter, molasses, and brown sugar together, stirring occasionally until smooth.
  3. Pour hot mixture into bowl and mix dry and wet until dough forms.
  4. Press dough into a large disk and refrigerate in plastic wrap for one hour.
  5. After an hour, preheat oven to 350º F and prepare two parchment papered cookie sheets.
  6. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface into about 1/4 inch thick and use cookie cutters to cut out cookie shapes. Repeat until dough is used up.
  7. Bake until just firm and golden brown, about 12 minutes. Allow to cool.

adapted from The Golden Book of Cookies.

My New Fave Chocolate

May 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

I have a new favorite chocolate. 70% Sirius, Pure Icelandic. It’s so smooth but so rich, so subtle but so sweet. I seem to be eating at least a bar a week (and that’s not including my other dark chocolates). It’s too good.

Sold at Whole Foods. Go get some!

Chocolate love,
FoodGirl

Creamy Dreamy Coconut Cupcakes

May 7, 2011 § 2 Comments

You know when you’ve just finished something amazing, and you get that wonderful feeling that begins in your soul and infiltrates every part of your body? That beaming pride, that feeling of accomplishment that swells your pumping heart, as you gaze at your finished product (or, in this case, consume it) and are astounded that it is INDEED a product of your own two hands? Well, fellow food friend, it has just happened to me with these toothsome treats.

The cake-base of the cupcake is so moist, so delicate, and most divinely complimentary to the viscous, buttery coconut cream that lives within and above it. To top it off? A refreshing dollop of cool, freshly whipped cream. Sprinkle some coconut shavings for the finishing touch, and shaBANG. We’ve got ourselves a prize winner [gobbled up in extreme velocity by those I made them for].

Oh, coconut, how delicious you are.

[Makes about 15 cupcakes.]

Cupcakes:
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 can (about 6 ounces) coconut milk (NOT light! Get the one with as much fat as possible!)

Coconut Cream:
1/2 cup coconut cream (not coconut milk!)
1 cup toasted coconut flakes (bake in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 5-7 minutes)
1 tablespoon sugar

Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Line your cupcake tins with colorful cupcake liners!
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and continue to mix.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, flaked coconut, and baking powder. In small batches, stirring in between, add flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Do the same for the coconut milk.
  4. Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely (at least 40 minutes).
  5. While cupcakes are cooling, mix coconut cream with toasted coconut. Make sure your cream is at room temperature or cold (just not warm or it’ll slide off your cupcake!).
  6. Slightly core cupcakes (only take out a little of center!) and fill hole with coconut cream, and smooth a 1/2 inch of cream over top of cupcake.
  7. Pipe or spread the whipped cream over coconut cream. Sprinkle with extra toasted coconut flakes. Gobble up!

Adapted from the delisioso Pastry Affair.

PB+J Bars

May 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

The peanut butter + jelly sandwich is, for most, an integral part of the childhood experience. Maybe it was a staple in your lunch box: sitting around a white table in the cafeteria with your friends, the sun shining through those big glass windows as you’d unhinge your Spice Girls or Power Rangers lunch tin and take out the juicebox, the apple, the saran-wrapped PB+J your mum packed for you that morning…

Or maybe it was your favorite afternoon snack.  The worksheet- and algebra-laden day behind you, you’d happily pull open the fridge door, the white light from within beaming down upon the shiny jelly jar on the top shelf. Grab the jelly, the bread, the Skippy (or, for the health freaks, the organic unprocessed stuff).  Watch that shiny silver knife magically cut through, slowly sinking down, down, down into the depths of the PB jar and come out deliciously thick, the nutty aroma wafting into your nostrils. Slather it on, press it down, watch the contents ooze out from within the bread and onto the plate (countertop?). Two hands, ready before your mouth, and go: Let your teeth descend – down, down, down – past the fluffy bread, the cool and refreshing jelly, the sticky creamy PB…

I can only imagine. I never had PB+J sandwiches as a child. In fact, I didn’t eat a lot of those ‘classic’ things. No soda, no candy, no real sugar (yes honey! yes maple syrup! NO refined sugar!), and peanut butter was a big no-no. Did you know PB is a legume – not a nut – and really difficult to digest? No matter. I eat it now (duh), but my mamà and pappa gave me almond butter instead (have you tried raw almond butter yet? OmghellosogoodgobuysomeNOW).

So, my initiation into the World of Peanut Butter is, alas, a recent one. But I’m catching up. Here, a more involved take on the classic PB+J.

This is the ultimate heart-stopper (in every sense of the term). Better to underbake than overbake. Happy mixing.

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
18 oz creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
18 oz strawberry jam (or your fave)
1 1/2 cups salted peanuts

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F.  Butter a 9×13-inch cake pan (or line with buttered parchment paper).
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fully incorporated.  Add vanilla, eggs, peanut butter, and 1/2 cup peanuts and mix until all ingredients are combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Slowly add this dry mix to contents of wet. Beat!
  4. Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan, making sure it’s distributed evenly. Spread jam evenly over dough.  Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over jam.   Sprinkle with the remaining peanuts.  Bake about 40 minutes, or until top is golden brown.  Let cool and cut into squares.

inspired by Joanne’s original recipe!

Chewy Brown Sugar Nuthins

May 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

Sure, just take your stress out on the butter, why don’t you. Don’t use an electric mixer. Just use that elbow grease and let it all out. There you go. Keep mixing.

So much to do; so little time. But woah. Waaaaait a second. Let’s not forget: there’s ALWAYS time for baking love. Six ingredients successfully mixed together and in the oven in six minutes? WHAT a fix. A simple, chewy, delish fix.

1/4 cup butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Butter (or canola oil) an 8 inch square baking tin.
  2. Cream melted butter and sugar. Add egg and stir.
  3. Mix flour and baking powder in a separate bowl and add to butter-sugar mixture.
  4. Add vanilla and mix well until smooth.
  5. Pour into your prepared tin and bake for about 20 minutes, or until just set.
  6. Cool and dig in!

Thanks, Paula!

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