Glorified Fudge

March 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

There is no brownie recipe greater than this one. HK has created the ultimate masterpiece. Take them out before the full 18 minutes for some delectably dense delights.

1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1 bar (3.5 ounces) semisweet baker’s chocolate
1/2 cup semisweet 60% chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. Melt butter and chocolate bar together over a low flame.
  3. Transfer to bowl and stir in sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, continuously stirring.
  4. Add flour in three parts. Stir to distribute ingredients evenly.
  5. Lightly mix in chocolate chips.
  6. Transfer to lined or butter-greased baking tin and bake in oven for 18-20 minutes, or until top is slighlty cracked.

Note: For GLORIFIED FUDGE, take out after 18 minutes. For true brownies (i.e. boring), leave in oven for extra 3 minutes.


Ultimate Carrot Cake.

March 31, 2011 § 1 Comment

It was 11:56pm on the evening of January 13th, and I’d be turning 22 in exactly 4 minutes. The apartment was empty. The heat was clicking through the old pipes inside the walls, and the Chicago wind was aggressively hammering against the window panes. Outside, it was so dark, so cold. And I was snuggled in my purple fuzzy blanket, loosely wrapped around my shoulders and tucked around my legs, sitting at my desk. The Christmas lights strung around my room blinked, reflecting upon the quivering window beside my desk. I sighed. I was warm. But I was alone. Alone. On my birthday? Where was everyone? Some friends I’ve got, I thought to myself as I attempted to concentrate on my Sociology reading. I sighed again and resumed.

Suddenly, my door burst open. And there it was. A rotundly glorious, cream cheese frosting-slathered, toasted pecan-adorned, freshly baked carrot cake. Held in the hands of my nearest and dearest. And then the singing commenced. I threw off the blanket, leaned forward, and with a deep inhale blew out the candles of my surprise 22nd birthday cake. Surprise!

And what a cake. Never before have I tasted a carrot cake so moist, so balanced in both taste and texture. Perhaps it tasted so good because of the deliciousness of the occasion, but methinks that the recipe just might do any occasion justice. Here, reader, is another example of food and friends, of soul and sustenance, going hand in hand to create the ultimate experience. Eat with your heart, and all is satisfied.

adapted from Bon Appetit’s 1994 “Triple-Layer Carrot Cake” recipe.


CAKE: 2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil, 4 large eggs, 2 cups all purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 3 cups finely grated peeled carrots (about 1 pound), 1/2 cup chopped pecans (about 1/2 ounce)

FROSTING: 4 cups powdered sugar, 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature, 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, 5 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the cake, preheat your oven to 325°F. Lightly grease three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line the bottom of your three pans  with parchment paper. Lightly grease waxed paper. Beat sugar and vegetable oil in bowl until combined. Add your eggs, beating well after each addition. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into sugar and oil mixture. Stir in carrots and chopped pecans. Divide batter equally among three prepared pans. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean and cakes begin to pull away from sides of pans, about 45 minutes. Cool in pans on racks (about 15-20 minutes). Turn out cakes onto racks and cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly in plastic and store at room temperature.) For the frosting, using electric mixer, beat all four ingredients in medium bowl until smooth and creamy.  Make double frosting if you love it as much as I do. Place first cake layer on platter. Spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Top with another cake layer. Spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Using icing spatula, spread remaining frosting in decorative swirls over sides and top of cake. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate.) Serve cake cold or at room temperature. Birthday candle recommended. Let’s just say I didn’t make much progress on my Sociology reading.

Holiday Spice Cookies

March 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Arena, who is married to a Nerd, has created a masterpiece. Isn’t it amazing that we can take the most basic and unsexy of ingredients (oatmeal? flour? not sexy.) and create such a seductive creation as this cookie? I think so.

2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
3 cups rolled oats

  1. Preheat your oven to 350º F.
  2. Combine flour, salt, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
  3. Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar until fully fluffed.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla, constantly stirring. Add flour mixture and stir. Add oats and continue to churn.
  5. Drop tablespoon-sized globs onto baking sheet, lightly flattening, and space about two inches apart.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350º, or until golden brown.

disco fruit.

March 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Disco fruit. Enough said.

But the apple only has one seed! Color correction perhaps should have been utilized, but very cool nonetheless.

Pumpkin Pancakes

March 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

HK and I have embarked on a baking journey. 11am. Friday morning. No class for the rest of the day. You know what that means? Two words: sugar. coma.

Part 1: foodtastically fluffy pumpkin pancakes.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg

  1. Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg and cloves in a medium bowl.
  2. Whisk together the milk, pumpkin, butter and egg in a separate bowl. Fold this mixture into the dry ingredients.
  3. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.
  4. Pour 1/4 cup batter for each pancake and cook approximately 3 minutes per side.

[inspired by and transformed from Jen’s amazing recipe]

Chocolate Swirl Gingerbread

March 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

I made this last Fall. It’s the ultimate autumn delight. Makes me want to wrap myself in a blanket next to the fireplace, a blazing fire emanating warmth, light, and that deliciously smokey fire flavor that smells of winter coziness. Let’s have a big cup of chai with that. And my cat, curled up beside me. And a good book. Yes, that’s how I want to eat this.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground clove (and cinnamon? if you want. I had cinnamon to everything.)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup molasses
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled

  1. Preheat oven to 325º F. Butter an 8-inch square pan. In a bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, ginger, baking powder, salt, pepper, and cloves.
  2. Melt the butter and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat, and pour into dry ingredients, constantly stirring. Add molasses and egg.
  3. Pour half the batter into prepared pan. With a spoon, drizzle 2 ounces of chocolate, melted, over the batter. Pour remaining batter on top, and drizzle the other 2 ounces melted chocolate to coat.
  4. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. (If you’re not sure if it’s done, better to take it out earlier than later! The more moist the better.)

inspired by and transformed from Martha’s original recipe. Oh, Martha. Your baking genius never fails.

Lusty Lemon Squares

March 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

The shutters were open and an old woman was standing on her balcony, a few buildings away. She was hanging her dripping laundry out to dry: shake, stretch, place, clip. It was only April, but Italy was having a warm spell. My chin was resting in my sweaty palms and I sat at our wooden table in the kitchen, motionless, unconsciously following her every move. The sun was at its peak, golden rays streaming through the windows and onto our red tiled floor. Today, my afternoon was free…and I knew that, despite the heat, some baking magic needed to occur as I’d promised some Italian amici a sweet American specialty. I had the basics: flour, sugar, eggs, butter. Last night’s dinner-festa had left only a bunch of cherry tomatoes and some lemons in our fridge. What was easy but scrumptious, refreshingly light but satisfying. Well, lemon squares, of course.
1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
6 ounces (12 tablespoons) cold unsalted, butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 large eggs
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

about 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

  1. To make the crust: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine flour and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on low speed until mixed. Add butter and continue to mix until butter is the size of small peas, about 30 seconds. The mixture will be very dry. Gently press mixture evenly onto the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
  2. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
  3. To make filling: In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and granulated sugar until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and then the flour. Pour filling on top of crust.
  4. Bake until lemon filling is set, about 40 minutes. Let cool to room temperature and then put in the refrigerator for 1 hour or keep at room temperature for 3 hours before cutting. Cut into squares measuring about 2 1/4 inches and dust the tops with confectioners’ sugar. NOTE: The squares may be made a day in advance, covered, and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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