Tag Archives: chocolate

Chocolate-Pistachio Biscotti: Take 2

Remember over a year ago when I made the disastrous chocolate-pistachio biscotti via Martha Stewart? Well, after a long time of looking up some recipes, getting pistachios prepped, leaving said pistachios in a plastic baggy on the kitchen counter for probably far too long, and actually deciding on a recipe to use, I finally got around to making a better version!

I had mentioned that I had wanted to find a better recipe and make the biscotti again, but who would have a good recipe? Why, Dorie of course! I grabbed the copy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours from the kitchen bookshelf and found her recipe for a chocolate-almond biscotti. By simply substituting the pistachios instead of almonds, I reached the wonderful taste I was looking for when I originally thought up mixing chocolate and pistachios.

These biscotti are a little soft in the middle still, so if you like your biscotti really crunchy I suggest baking them for a bit longer during the second baking. The chopped up pistachios spread evenly throughout the cookies and are much easier to deal with than the whole ones I tried with the Martha recipe. The little bits of chocolate bring a hing of moist, tasty treats as you much along. Even the pinch of espresso powder brings out more of the chocolate flavor and make the biscotti smell slightly coffee-esque. Nom.  Eat them alone or with a cup of coffee or tea, (Although I wouldn’t recommend the pomegranate green tea pictured. I used it because it’s tea I like, so I would drink it after the photo shoot.) and enjoy!

Chocolate-Pistachio Biscotti

2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. instant espresso powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 stick (6 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pistachios
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

sugar for dusting

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until pale, about 2 minutes; the mixture may be crumbly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes; don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until a dough forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the chopped nuts and chocolate, then turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead in any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, roll the dough into 12-inch-long logs. Flatten both logs with the palm of your hand, so that they are 1/2 to 1 inch high, about 2 inches across and sort of rectangular, then carefully lift the logs onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle each log with a little sugar.

Bake the logs for about 25 minutes, or until they are just slightly firm. The logs will spread and crack – and that’s just fine. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, put it on a cooling rack and cool the logs for about 20 minutes. (Leave the oven on.)

Working with one log at a time, using a long serrated knife, cut each log into slices between 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Lay the slices on their sides – you’ll have an army of biscotti – and bake the cookies again, this time for just 10 minutes.

Transfer the biscotti to a rack to cool.

Recipe adapted from: Dorie Greenspan and Baking: From My Home to Yours

Chocolate-Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Ever find yourself with the last banana of the bunch that has just become over ripe? Well we did earlier this week. My family, my dad and brother in particular, really love us some bananas. There is usually a bunch that is just beginning to turn ripe in our fruit bowl next to a smaller bunch (usually just 2-4) that are nice and perfectly yellow. Which makes it so we always have a banana ready to be eaten and we never run out of bananas, because by the time both bunches are gone it’s time to go food shopping anyway.

There are times, like this past week, when our banana craze gets away from us and suddenly we find ourselves with over ripe bananas. The kind that are perfect for banana bread. If things get really out of hand, we have been known to freeze a few of these perfect baking bananas to use at a later time, but that wasn’t necessary this week. Instead, this week we only had one banana ready for the loaf pan.

This was a problem. When we make banana bread we use at least two bananas, not one. Which also means that when we freeze bananas we tend to freeze them in pairs, because we’ll just end up using two anyway, right?  Suddenly I found myself with a challenge: Bake something with this banana without having to thaw out any others.

I took to the internet looking for recipes (as I often do). Luckily I didn’t have to search too far before I found a great recipe for chocolate-banana cupcakes that used just one banana!

These cupcakes are wonderful: they are fairly light, very moist, and very chococlatey with just a hint of banana. The recipe didn’t make too many (my batch only made 11), but for a small family with some to give away, it happened to be the right amount. I decided to top these beauties with a peanut butter frosting, mostly because I liked the idea, but also because the frosting from the cupcake recipe I found used another banana. That would ruin the challenge, although I will have to try it some time soon. The frosting was soooooo good. One batch of frosting was more than I needed to cover all the cupcakes, so we had a bit left over to spread on other things, like apple slices.

The cupcakes were a hit with the whole banana loving family (well, except for brother as he’s on the other side of the country, but nevertheless) and were perfectly moist and delicious. I hope we have just one banana get nice and over ripe again soon so we can have some more cupcakes. Oh, did I mention they’re also vegan? Well, the cupcakes, not the frosting.

Notice the cute Snoopy and Woodstock cupcake liners? Thanks craft store!

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes

For the Cupcakes:

1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup ripe banana (about 1 banana)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

For the Frosting:
1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
1/4 cup ripe banana (about 1/2 banana)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 1/2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with paper liners.

In a small bowl, mash the banana with a fork. Whisk in the coconut milk, sugar, oil, and vanilla extract until incorporated. Mixture will still be a little lumpy because of the nature of the banana, but whisk out as many large lumps as you can. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and pour in banana mixture. Stir until just smooth (do not overmix).

Pour into liners, filling each with 3 tablespoons of batter (cups should be no more than 2/3 full). Bake 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

For the frosting:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk, plus more if needed

To prepare the frosting cream together the butter and peanut butter until well combined.  Add in the powdered sugar and half the milk and mix until smooth, fluffy and your desired piping consistency. (I actually used some milk and some heavy whipping cream to lighten it up a bit, plus it was in the fridge)

Cupcake Recipe adapted from: Love and Olive Oil
Frosting Recipe adapted from: evilshenanigans

 

Joyeux Anniversaire!

This past week happened to be the Birthday Week of dearest Smidget!

As part of her array of gifts, she was given a classic dessert for her birthday cake as made by Kiwi. Now, I’m not gonna give you the recipe for one simple reason: you should already have it.

Yell and scream all you want. Cry and kick, just please don’t hit the knees, but I’m sure if you go to your cookbook collection you will find that you have the necessary book to make this cake. And if you don’t, get it. Now.

Which classic culinary catalogue did this cake come from? Why, only one of the greatest cookbooks in the world! The one I was able to give to myself as a birthday present! The one that changed the way American women cooked! That’s right: Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck and Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking!

See? Ya have it, don’t cha?

The cake is Reine de Saba avec Glaçage au Chocola, or for those non-French speakers like me, Chocolate and Almond Cake with Chocolate Icing. I will admit, I used the recipe for the cake, but then made up my own Chocolate Buttercream because I wasn’t energized enough to make Julia’s version. Plus I was getting ready to go to the amazing Sullivan’s Steakhouse with my parents for birthday dinner. Best steak ever. 14 oz, dry aged, New York Strip. With a Roasted Red Pepper Truffle butter. I died.

But I had to come back to life for this:

In case you are thinking to yourself “Scruffs (cause, of course, you call yourself Scruffs), I daresay, I do believe I recognize that delectable delicacy” why then you’d be right! If you recall from that delightful movie Julie and Julia, at one point towards the end both of the ladies are making cakes. They show Julia frosting one and then go back to see what’s going on with Julie. Well, Julie brings out the cake to her husband, begins to slice it, and while she gets her cake server he takes his fork and just digs right in. They end up smearing it all over each other.

This is that cake.  Although that did not happen. Proof, you cry? Here. But if I don’t show up tomorrow morning, you’ll know why. Aka, Smidget will have killed me. And I don’t have a cake to come back to life for this time.

So there you have it. A great cake, for a great Smidget!

And it tasted pretty darn good too!

Also, among the other gifts Smidget got was a small canning pot. Ya know, to can things in. So that should be happening soon, which I believe will prompt this conversation in our house:

In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it…

Happy Easter!

Or for those of you, like  myself, who don’t celebrate Easter, Happy Weekend!

I may be a few days late, but there’s  a good reason for it. One of my staff members celebrated his birthday this Easter so in our staff meeting on Monday we celebrated with cupcakes! I had asked him prior what he preferred and all he said was “Chocolate”. I took that and ran, which not only made me out of breath, but also apparently brought confused looks to my staff member’s faces. Kidding, of course, they totally expected it.

I tried the same book again (what can I say, it’s time to start the search for the perfect recipes and ya gotta start somewhere) that I used for the Cookies and Cream Cupcakes. They had a simple recipe for chocolate cupcakes, which unfortunately burned on the bottom a bit. I think it may have resulted from a mixture of a long baking time (25-30 minutes? really?!) and a poorly functioning oven. However, the cupcakes were still the most moist ones I’ve made from scratch. I topped them off with a chocolate buttercream and little chocolate birds nests with Cadbury chocolate eggs.

I put out 16 for a 12 person staff and after an hour they were all gone, which I think bodes well! Try them out and tell me what you think!


Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream and Chocolate Bird’s Nests
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
11.5 oz chocolate chips (one bag) melted and cooled slightly

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 standard muffin cups with paper baking cups.
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add oil, milk, eggs and vanilla; beat with electric mixer at medium speed 2 minutes or until well blended. Stir in melted chocolate until well blended. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling three-fourths full.
3. Bake 25 to 30 minutes (I found I needed less than 22 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

For the frosting:
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
As much chocolate as you want, melted and cooled

1.  Combine cocoa and the boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved.
2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy.
3. Reduce speed to low.
4. Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
5. Beat in the cocoa mixture.
6. Let sit at room temperature while the cupcakes cool.
7. Pipe as desired onto cupcakes (I simply spread the frosting on the cupcakes so it worked with the topper).

For the Birds Nest Topper
1 11.5 oz bag of chocolate chips
1 5 oz can of chow mein noodles
1 bag of Cadbury’s Chocolate Mini Eggs

1. Melt chocolate, add chow mein noodles, stir until all noodles are covered in chocolate.
2. Form small birds nests with chocolate chow mein noodles on wax paper or silicone mats.
3. Top with Cadbury Chocolate Mini Eggs.
4. Put in cool place (even the freezer) to set.
5. Remove from wax paper or silicone mats and place on frosted cupcakes.

Cupcakes Adapted from: Favorite Brand Name’s 100 Best Cupcake Recipes; Frosting Adapted from: The Curvy Carrot; Birds Nests adapted from old Girl Scout activity

Also, as a side note, there is now a page on Facebook for From Tundra to Times Square! Like it to be notified about updates and other fun!

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Since I was out of the country for St. Patrick’s Day this year, celebrating was down to a minimum. From what I recall it consisted of a bottle of wine and some friends in our hotel room, instead of finding a place among the winding streets and canals of Venice. A few of my trip-mates did find an Irish Pub, and from what I heard it was a success for about one drink before they headed back to the hotel.

Over the summer I showed Smidget the recipe from Annie’s Eats for Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes and we knew they had to be made. Now, I’d like to think it was a bit of planning ahead, but really we just wanted to try them out.

These cupcakes are amazing, they are moist, rich, and full of great Guinness flavor with just a touch of sweetness from the Bailey’s ganache and frosting. We ended up having so many, and since it was mid-summer everyone was off on vacation, we had no one to share them with! We ended up putting most of them in a large Tupperware container, which also helped them keep their wonderful moisture. The best part, aside from eating them of course, was the smell that came from the container when I went in for a cupcake. Pure chocolatey-Guinness bliss. Just thinking about these cupcakes has me wanting to make them again, and it’s never too late to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, right? 😉

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Yield: 24 cupcakes
Ingredients:
For the Guinness chocolate cupcakes:
1 cup stout (Guinness)
16 tbsp. unsalted butter
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

For the Bailey’s ganache filling:
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. Bailey’s Irish cream

For the Bailey’s buttercream frosting:
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4-8 tbsp. Bailey’s Irish cream

Directions:
To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.  Combine the stout and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs and sour cream to blend.  Add the stout-butter mixture and beat just to combine.  Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed just until incorporated.  Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 to ¾ full.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes.  Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the ganache filling, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Heat the cream in a small saucepan until simmering, then pour it over the chocolate.  Let sit for one minute and then whisk until smooth.  If the chocolate is not completely melted, place the bowl over a double boiler or give it a very short burst in the microwave (15-20 seconds).  Add the butter and Bailey’s and stir until combined.

Set aside to let the ganache cool until it is thick enough to be piped.  (You can use the refrigerator to speed the cooling process, but be sure to stir every 10 minutes or so to ensure even cooling.)  Meanwhile, cut out a portion from the center of the cupcake using the cone method (a small paring knife works best for this).  Once the ganache has reached the correct consistency, transfer it to a piping bag fitted with a wide tip and pipe it into the cupcakes.

To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Gradually add the powdered sugar until it is all incorporated.  Mix in the Bailey’s until smooth.  Add more if necessary until the frosting has reached a good consistency for piping or spreading.  Frost the cupcakes as desired.

Adapted From Annie’s Eats.

Gaming Goodies…

This past week a good friend of mine decided what better way to ring in the new school year, and reduce some of the stress these first few weeks have caused, then by  getting together a bunch of friends and killing some zombies? Via Xbox of course.

So he got everything together and mentioned to me that on such and such a day, aka last Wednesday, our friends were going be coming over and playing some Left 4 Dead. My first thought? Zombie Cupcakes. And thus, these were born.

Now these aren’t your ordinary everyday cupcakes. Aside from the chocolate ones. Those are just chocolate with chocolate frosting. Plus some crumbled chocolate graham crackers on top and the fantastic cupcake toppers I found at Bake it Pretty.

But those yellow cakes with the green slime frosting? Guess what they are.

Mountain Dew Cupcakes.

That’s right, cupcakes made with Mountain Dew soda, perfect for any gamer. Plus thanks to Halloween being right around the corner, I was able to find these fantastic body part gummies which included a few brains.

Wanna know how to make them? Simple. Box mix of yellow cake (DON’T make the cake according to box directions, no eggs, no oil, no water, trust me on this, I tried, too much liquid) and a 12 oz can of Mountain Dew. Stir. Put in wrappers in cupcake pan. Bake until done (about 15-20 min).

The frosting was just as simple, although I followed the recipe I found just to be safe:

Mountain Dew Frosting:
2 sticks butter, softened
2/3 cup Mountain Dew
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lemon extract
7 cups powdered sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer, the combine softened butter, Mountain Dew, and extracts. Beat on medium low-speed until well blended. Add powdered sugar and beat on low-speed until combined. Increase speed to medium high and beat for about 2 minutes. If frosting is not thick enough, add powdered sugar until you reach desired consistency.

Using gel food coloring, color half the frosting yellow and half green. Place in a piping bag side by side and pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

* Taken/Adapted from Confessions of  a Cookbook Queen

The frosting I ended up having was A: Super sweet and B: a little less stiff because it was so sweet and in order to thicken it, it needs more sugar. But it’s perfect, looks a bit like slime!

They were a hit! I’ve told my friend many more zombie gaming parties need to happen so I can make even more fantastic zombie related desserts. But until then, time to drink the rest of the Mountain Dew that’s in my fridge, it should help me stay up and write those papers that are due.

Better biscotti or bust

As mentioned earlier, I recently attempted to make chocolate-pistachio biscotti. I have always been a fan of biscotti since my friends and I would go to our local hot-spot and sip coffee and munch biscotti during high school (remember Bell’s that I mentioned earlier?), and this summer I finally tried my hand at making it. So far everything has been a success. I posted about the lemon-anise biscotti, but forgot to snap pictures of and mention the cherry-hazelnut I also made. It got to the point where the biscotti was delicious, but need a little extra something. What does one do when the usual baked goods need a pick me up? Add chocolate of course.

I searched for a good (erm, actually a ‘quick and easy’ and with ingredients that I had around the house) recipe and finally found one for chocolate-pistachio biscotti. I read other blogs as people raved about the combination of salty nuts and sweet chocolate and couldn’t wait to start my own batch. So I grabbed the recipe and headed to the kitchen.

The dough came together quickly and easily enough, but something was off. It was extremely dry. While I toyed with the idea of adding more liquid to it, I finally settled on this idea: “Kiwi, it’s a Martha Stewart recipe. Let’s trust her this once and make these exactly to her instructions.”

And so I took the very dry dough, made the log to bake for the first go round and pressed all the escaped pistachios into the dough, and there were quite a few. Then baked according to instruction, about 20-25 minutes. Now, for those of you who have made biscotti before you probably know that when the biscotti are baked for the first time they need to be rather firm all the way through so that cutting them into the usual diagonal biscotti shape is easier and the cookies don’t crumble as you cut them. Well, these were way too soft after the first baking, and I knew it, but once again that voice inside my head said “Trust in Martha”. Why, oh, why did I listen?

Oh sure, they look harmless enough, and they do taste rather good, but they are so wrong on so many levels. Notice how insanely thick they are? Yeah, that’s cause they were too soft after the first baking so when I tried to cut them they fell apart. The only way to try to keep them intact? Make them massive. Notice the holes on top where the pistachios fell off because the little buggers didn’t want to stay on? Too many nuts, not enough dough. Then, after the second baking and the cleaning of the crumbly mess in my kitchen from cutting these, the suckers (oh wait, biscotti, not suckers…the…confused cookies?) still were not done in the middle enough. I mean, they were done, it’s not like they were raw, don’t get me wrong, but they were way too soft to be biscotti. So I told the voice in my head to shut up and baked them for longer. But to no real avail. Alas: dry, giant, falling apart, but tasty none-the-less, biscotti.

Smidget attempted to console me as I was rather enraged disappointed at these biscotti, and Martha, for turning out so poorly. She said the wise words of “I’ve tried at least one of her cookie recipes myself, and I found it wasn’t that good.” So all in all, I just have to say, Martha-please take another look at your cookie recipes and make sure everything is set the way it should be.

That being said, I won’t post the recipe until I can find (and or tweak and make my own) recipe that makes the most amazing chocolate-pistachio biscotti around. Although, I’m sure you could find the recipe pretty easily, it is, after all, Martha Stewart’s chocolate-pistachio biscotti. But what to do with the recipe? I’m actually thinking this may make a good tart crust dough. Ya know, chocolate cookie crust with a layer of pistachios and chocolate ganache?

What’s the worst recipe you’ve ever followed? Or, how have your Martha experiences been?