peppermint meringues

11.16.2019

I've skipped right over Thanksgiving and into Christmas.

While I normally am eager to make the switch, I feel more aggressive than normal. My excuse for decorating in November used to be that I was taking advantage of having Veteran's Day off from work.  However this year, I'm just plain aggressive. I had my outdoor decor all set up a week for about a week before I turned on the lights.

In the spirit of being extremely ready for the Christmas season, I also took care of my Christmas Cookie Swap. My friend Becca of The Salted Cookie runs a swap each year. Last year I made these matcha cookies. They were good but not really amazing. I am terrible at melting chocolate... and then the subsequent dipping of cookies into the chocolate felt clumsy. 

I can't remember where I saw this initial recipe but the person talked about how irresistible these little meringues were - and they were right. They are just sweet enough and just peppermint-y enough and just the right size... you can't resist popping a couple of these into your mouth. I challenged myself to use a piping bag for this and it was quite messy in my kitchen. I'd absolutely like to get better at piping since it would be a nice addition to my cake and macaron skills. 
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, peppermint, and salt with a mixer on medium until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time beating on high. Beat well after each addition. Beat until stiff peaks form.
  3. Place a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip inside a large cup and fold excess over top of the cup. This will help hold the pastry bag in place making it easier to paint the stripes and fill with meringue. If desired, using a small paintbrush paint small stripes up the sides of the pastry bag. Carefully spoon the meringue into the bag. Pipe 1" diameter cookies onto prepared baking sheet about 1" apart.
  4. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until meringues appear dry and firm when lightly touched. Remove and cool on a wire rack.
Shopping List
3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Red food coloring (the gel kind works best)

ricotta banana bread

11.14.2019

Ricotta is often on the list of things I fail to finish in my fridge. A recipe will call for a half cup and then it'll just sit there slowly expiring with my good intentions. But - if I'm going to make budget decisions and buy generic cereal... I should also be mindful of my wasted $1.50 on the remaining ricotta.

Coincidentally, my mom dropped off some surprise bananas a few weeks ago. While my siblings will eat bananas as a snack, I only eat them baked. Brief flashback to the banana cakes from earlier this summer: banana cinnamon cake, cinnamon banana muffins, and banana hazelnut cake. Thankfully, ricotta can be used in a banana bread. Ricotta will give it a very moist result.... unfortunately I slightly overcooked this so some of the moisture wasn't there. But, I would definitely do this again.


  1. Preheat your oven to 350"F
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together the olive oil or melted butter and sugars together until creamy.
  3. Add the vanilla extract, ricotta cheese and heavy cream and whisk until everything is incorporated. Whisk in the eggs until you have a smooth mixture. Add the bananas and walnuts and gently toss to coat.
  4. In another large bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt. Make a well in the middle and pour the wet mixture inside.
  5. Using a spatula gently fold all the ingredients together.
  6. Grease a loaf pan with a dab of butter or oil and pour in the mixture.
  7. Sprinkle a few walnuts on top for garnish.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wooden cutting boar and allow to cool on a cooling rack.

Shopping list
1/2 c melted coconut oil
1/2 c white granulated sugar
1/3 c brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c whole milk ricotta cheese
1 tbsp heavy cream
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 c walnuts -roughly chopped + a few for garnish
2 bananas

green tomato walnut cinnamon bread

11.06.2019

 
I've been holding on to tomato growing season as long as I possibly could. I really pushed the limits this year.... but I also believe that I really utilized my tomatoes as best as I ever have. I have processed and canned a whole lot of sauce. It has been living in stacks on my kitchen counter since mid-September so time to divide up the winnings and store for Winter.

I worked pretty hard to ripen the most tomatoes possible but still ended up with many green ones. There are some fairly traditional recipes for green tomatoes: fried green tomatoes and relish. I didn't not have it in me to do any more canning so I turned to a 3rd option.... this green tomato bread. I think you can put it in the zucchini bread bucket if you are looking to classify it. 

Frankly it would be hard for this bread to be disappointing. It has all the components for success: butter, sugar, and cinnamon. The tomatoes are finely diced enough that they don't affect the consistency of the bread the way bananas sometimes do (which by the way I have a couple sitting on my counter waiting for me to tackle). To make this bread a little different, I added in walnuts and raisins. I used just what I had on hand but I would probably opt for golden raisins next time since I feel like they are sweeter.

This was so easy to make that I might pull a few more tomatoes off the vines before the next cold snap comes through... maybe there is another batch of green tomato bread in me before I put up my Christmas trees.

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. 
  2. Grease and flour two 9x5-inch loaf pans.
  3. Blend butter and sugar until smooth in a stand mixer. Add in eggs one at a time and blend until smooth.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine tomatoes, walnuts, vanilla extract, and salt together in a large bowl until well blended. 
  5. Mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder together in a separate bowl; stir into egg mixture until just blended. 
  6. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pans.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the middle of each loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before transferring loaves to wire racks to cool completely.
Shopping List
2 cups finely diced green tomatoes
2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

pumpkin brown butter mac and cheese

11.05.2019

Here is another dish to sneak some veggies into your diet... also who doesn't love mac and cheese? I was hosting a small gathering for Halloween. Halloween is a big holiday in my neighborhood. Houses don't go crazy with decorations but there are endless amounts of kids running around. I buy my candy in bulk from Amazon and simultaneously pray that they come and eat it all ... and also that I don't run out.

I fell in love with this recipe from Food52 because it optimizes for crunchiness. We are a family that would fight to the death over the corner pieces from a Stouffers mac and cheese. There were some comments that it could be cheesier - and I get that. So if that is you, just amp up the cheese but honestly I loved it! You get a bit of a crunch on the bottom of the pan and on the top. The pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas) were a hit as well. My mom commented on them several times.

Here's how it goes.
  1. Heat oven to 475°F. Grease a 11x17-inch sheet pan with rimmed edges.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook for only 4 to 5 minutes, so they’re quite al dente—just soft enough that if you taste one, there's no audible crunch. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water and drain the pot of pasta.
  3. In the same pot you used for the noodles, brown 6 tablespoons of butter: Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, until it foams. The foam will recede, and the butter will be golden-tan. (If your pot is dark, you’ll know it’s ready when it starts to give off a deeply appealing rich, nutty scent.) Turn the heat down to low.
  4. Add the noodles back to the pot and immediately toss so your butter doesn’t stay on the bottom and burn. Drizzle in a few tablespoons of the hot reserved cooking water. Add the salt, pepper, three-quarters of the cheddar (about 12 ounces), Pecorino, and milk, and stir until you have a homogenous, creamy sauce. Mix in the pumpkin puree, adding a little more reserved water if needed to thin slightly. Turn off the heat.
  5. Transfer to the sheet pan, and sprinkle the remaining 4 ounces of cheddar, the panko, and the pumpkin seeds over the top. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the panko is nice and toasted, and some of the cheesy noodles sticking out around the edges are tinged with amber spots.
Shopping List
2 teaspoons salt, plus more for pasta water
1 pound cavatappi (or other twisty pasta shape with lots of nooks for cheese to nestle into)
6 tablespoons butter, plus more to grease the pan
1/2 teaspoon white pepper (you can substitute black or rainbow if you prefer)
1 pound sharp cheddar, grated
4 ounces Pecorino Romano, grated
1 cup whole milk
1 can pumpkin puree (15 oz)
1 1/4 cups plain panko
1/2 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), raw

veggie baked ziti

10.24.2019

I am 100% over eating caprese salads with burrata. I go real hard on them in July and August... so when tomato season really kicks into gear I'm just tired. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of buying more burrata at Trader Joe's one day. I was feeling ambitious and also like "I still have so many tomatoes in my garden" guilty. 

Thankfully, I scrolled past this baked ziti recipe on Instagram one day and was saved. It would be a home for so many things from the garden: tomatoes, basil, and peppers. Plus, it would be a very different use for burrata. 

If you are ever looking to sneak vegetables into a dish, this one is for you. I barely even noticed the carrots and mushrooms when I was eating. That being said, it was not as creamy as I would like. I might recommend adding like 30% more if you make it. But also it was totally fine! I just had a slightly more sinful and gooey image in my mind when I was chopping away.

Also, if you aren't into burrata... no big deal. I ate some of my leftovers last night sans burrata and it was just fine. The burrata adds a wonderful creamy-ness to this dish that just about anyone can get behind.
  1. In a medium saucepan, set over medium heat, add the olive oil. Add the carrot, red bell pepper and diced mushrooms. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. 
  2. Add in the minced garlic, marinara sauce, salt and crushed red pepper and 1/4 cup of water. Bring the sauce to a simmer and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the sauce has thickened, about 7 to 8 minutes. When the sauce has thickened, add the mozzarella and ricotta and mix it until combined.
  3. Meanwhile... cook the ziti and cook until al dente. Drain and add to the pot with the sauce and mix until the ziti is thoroughly coated in sauce.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Add the ziti to a 8x8 baking dish. Top with a small sprinkling of mozzarella. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. At the 20 minute mark, remove it from the oven. Add the burrata to the top of the dish. Think like half a ball for each person.
  6. Place it back in the oven to bake for 3 minutes longer, just until warm. Garnish with a bit of crushed red pepper and basil.
Shopping List
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small carrot, peeled and diced
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
3 cremini or button mushrooms, stems removed and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes , plus more for garnish
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella, plus more for topping
1/3 cup ricotta
1 ball of burrata
1/2 pound ziti
Basil leaves, for garnish

harvest loaf with maple butter

10.15.2019

Technically this is a pumpkin loaf... but I don't want to call it that.

I'm not a huge pumpkin flavor person. I've never been one for a pumpkin spice latte. Pumpkin pie? No thanks. I do get on board with other seasonal flavors. Gingerbread, peppermint, etc. It feels like there are others but I can't think of them right now.

I came across this recipe on Twitter and it won me over. I think because it was not screaming "I'm a pumpkin loaf". The most amazing part of it was that I only needed two things to make the whole recipe happen. The end result is incredibly delicious. The ginger cuts the traditional pumpkin flavor into an unexpected harvest flavor. Does that make sense? Maybe not. You'll just have to make the loaf and see.

I was feeling particularly ambitious on this occasion so I decided to make my own butter as well. While that might sound aggressive, homemade butter is very easy. It only requires patience, a stand mixer and heavy cream. Here is a link to the recipe that I have used. I flavored this batch with maple syrup and sea salt.

Key tip? Do not skip the pumpkin seeds and sugar on the top. It gives a lovely little crunch.
  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Lightly coat a 9x5" loaf pan (or two smaller pans) with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment, leaving a generous overhang on both long sides.
  2. Whisk flour, cinnamon, kosher salt, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and cloves in a medium bowl.
  3. Whisk eggs, pumpkin purée, ginger, and 1½ cups sugar in a large bowl. Stream in oil, whisking constantly until mixture is homogeneous. Gently fold half of dry ingredients into egg mixture until no dry spots remain. Repeat with remaining dry ingredients.
  4. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Scatter pumpkin seeds over batter. Sprinkle seeds with remaining 1 Tbsp. sugar. 
  5. Bake bread, rotating pan once halfway through, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 80–90 minutes for larger pan or 50-65 minutes for two smaller pans.
  6. Let cool slightly, then run a knife or small offset spatula around pan to help loosen bread. Using overhang, transfer bread to a wire rack and let cool.
Shopping List
loaf
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
⅛ tsp. ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 15-oz. can pumpkin purée
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp finely grated ginger (from about one 3" piece fresh ginger)
1½ cups plus 1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds

butter1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup maple syrup
sea salt

turkish-style beef and eggplant stew

This weekend I very intentionally flipped through several of my recipe books to find a new recipe to make. After a couple books, I found things that I would want to make some day but not right now. While I don't have a million cookbooks, I certainly have enough that it would be great to find some inspiration from them in the kitchen as opposed to just for decor.
I ended up finding this recipe in a fall edition of Real Simple magazine. It was not lying when it said 20 minute prep time. I barely did any work here. In fact I did more work taking pictures of the meal cooking over 6 hours than I had done preparing it.

In short, I highly recommend this for people who are busy or just want to be surprised by a tasty meal on their counter 6-8 hours later. I will say it has certain "intensity" or "heat" to it that might not be super suitable to kids? I'm not sure what kids eat. I'm not a person that loves hot flavoring but you could just cut back on the crushed red pepper.

Bonus for this meal? The eggplant came from my garden and the peppers came from my Dad's. I love when a meal that isn't a caprese salad can be made from our gardens. The eggplant variety is called "patio baby eggplant" which is why they are so tiny. I love them for that - perfect for recipes and sharing with friends and neighbors.
  1. Combine vinegar, tomato paste, cumin, Aleppo, salt, black pepper, and ¾ cup water in cooker. 
  2. Add beef, eggplants, bell peppers, and onion; stir to combine. 
  3. Cover and cook until meat is very tender, 6 to 7 hours on low or 4 ½ to 5 hours on high. 
  4. Serve stew over couscous, garnished with oregano.
Shopping List
⅓ cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1½ teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-in. pieces
3 small Italian eggplants (1¾ lb.), sliced into ½-in. rounds
3 medium-size red bell peppers (1½ lb.), seeded and sliced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
Cooked couscous and fresh oregano leaves, for serving

amazing chocolate chip cookies

10.09.2019

Does actually sifting flour make a difference in cookies? Maybe. 

All I know is these cookies are delicious. They are beyond simple. Just a chocolate chip cookie. I refuse to compare the recipe to another one because I need to believe the recipe is a little bit of magic.

In full disclosure, this recipe is from The Gilded Hotel in Newport. I stayed there earlier in the Fall for a birthday weekend. The place was super cute but they also served chocolate chip cookies nearly on command. There were cookies at 4pm when we were getting ready for dinner.... and again at 1:30 AM when we got home for the night.

Did I eat a chocolate chip cookie in bed? No. I ate two.

When we were checking out the next morning, I casually asked if they ever gave out the recipe. Without even a second thought, they gave it up. I love when people share like that. Why keep all the good stuff for yourself? I'm still busy telling everyone how amazing the all the food was at this hotel.

One night this week I finally got around to making these cookies for myself. I made the whole batch but only baked 6 cookies - thankfully. Were they the same as The Gilded? No. Not quite. I think they use more dough per cookie... and as a result they have a little more volume. But I did eat all the cookies I made in 1 day. And if we are being honest, I've eaten a little bit of the dough several times.
Here's how it goes.
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with parchment 
  2. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt 
  3. In mixer, combine butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Beat until combined. Add egg and vanilla. Add in dry ingredients bit by bit, mixing until combined. Add in chocolate chips. 
  4. Drop cookies onto baking sheet using a cookie scoop or ice cream scoop. Bake cookies until golden brown, 12-14 minutes. Top with sea salt. 
Shopping List
1 ¼ c flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ c butter, room temp
½ c packed brown sugar
6 tbsp sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 c semisweet chocolate chips
Sea Salt 

butterfly party

10.06.2019

This year I have inadvertently - and wonderfully - become a home to so many butterflies. It is wonderful. I am sure that I say this somewhat regularly... but I have not gotten so much joy and relaxation from something unintended recently. 

I planted these Mexican sunflowers in my garden that have grown to be maybe 8 feet tall. They are quite high. They are also a magnet for the monarch butterflies in the last month or so. One day I was out in the garden and there were so many that I could not keep count. When I tried to take a picture of it I saw more than I hadn't noticed in real life. 

Watching the butterflies provides an incredible sense of peace. In the mornings when I'm sitting on my front porch, I have seen them fly around the corner of the house and head to the garden. It's as though they are commuting to work the same way the cars are driving by. Standing in the garden they bounce from flower to flower doing their thing. I never understood the draw of a "butterfly bush" but now I do. I could sit and watch them all day long. 

The only challenge will be how to plant for them next year. I need more sunflowers than Mexican sunflowers but don't want to lose my butterfly population. Might have to get creative about my garden layout. A perfect problem to try and solve during a snowstorm in January.
 
 

best quiche ever

10.01.2019

A couple weeks back I had the best quiche ever. It made me realize how lazy and terrible my quiches had been to date. I just would mix eggs and milk and call it a day. BUT, this new quiche was so perfect. I legit could not stop talking about it at the brunch.

I came home with the motivation to drastically improve my quiche. I knew right away that the answer would not be low calorie. I was adding way too much egg and needed to swap that with some heavy cream. I did some quick googling and came upon a recipe literally titled "Best Quiche Recipe". My suspicions were true.... more heavy cream and whole milk.

This recipe did help me realize two things. One? I'm not sure where my pie plate is. Two? I forgot that I threw out my pastry brush last Spring.

What did I learn this time?

  • Springform pan // Wonderful swap. I love how deep it makes the quiche and the overall structure. It does however essentially double the cooking time.
  • I never use pie weights // Not once in my life have I par baked a pie crust to the specifications in a recipe. I've lived to tell the tale but I do wonder how much better my crusts would be if I did this.
  • Custard // This is crucial. I am not sure what the difference is between "eggs + milk" and "custard" but there is absolutely a difference. So follow the recipe and you'll get a wonderfully creamy custard that does not taste "eggy".
  • Egg white seal // This seems real important. I feel like it helped to maintain the structure of the quiche and prevent leaks from happening.
  • Store-bought crust // Sometimes I like to make my own crust and then sometimes it is just easier to buy it. This isn't the worst thing in the world, it is just the easiest.

 
Here's how it goes.
  1. Pan Prep // Unroll your pre-made crust. Use your fingers to press and even out the crust into the pan. Ensure the bottom corners are tightly pressed against the pan. Stick in the freezer for at least 15 minutes or up to 2 days.
  2. Par-bake the crust // Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line the frozen crust with a square of parchment, fill with dried beans (or another pie weight), then set on a sheet pan. Bake on the lower rack for about 40 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the crust is starting to brown along the edges and the bottom no longer looks raw and doughy. 
  3. While the crust is baking, use a fork to whisk the egg white with a pinch of salt until it’s very loose. When the crust is done, remove the parchment and beans and prick the bottom and sides of the crust a few times with a fork. Brush the inside of the crust with the salted egg white, then return to the oven to bake for another minute to set.
  4. Remove the par-baked crust from the oven to cool, then lower the oven to 325°F and turn your attention to the custard.
  5. Make the custard: Combine the cream, milk, and flour in a bowl. Whisk until smooth. Add the eggs, egg yolk, salt, and pepper, and whisk until smooth.
  6. Fill the quiche: Sprinkle half of the cheese evenly over the bottom of the crust. Sprinkle the mix-ins on top, spreading them out as much as possible. Make sure that you can see the cheese and crust below - the custard filling needs to be able to get through. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Slowly and evenly pour in the custard, taking it as high to the brim as possible. 
  7. Bake the quiche for 55 to 65 minutes, or until it no longer shimmies when shook. (If the crust starts to brown too much mid-bake, you can carefully tent it with foil.) Let cool until warm before serving.
Shopping List
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 1 1/4 cups mix-ins
1 cup grated cheese

summer salad

9.25.2019

Good news. You can make healthy food even better with two small tricks. One? Cut the vegetables into adorable shapes like half moons. Two? Make this super easy dressing and pour it all on.

Last weekend I stayed at The Gilded in Newport. The food was so amazing that since checking out I have asked for two of their recipes... and they have actually emailed them to me. At some point in the near future I will absolutely be making their chocolate chip cookies, but until then I make a version of their incredible tomato salad. 

Their tomato salad was a bit different than mine. I refused to go to more than one grocery store (TJ's doesn't have fava beans) and needed to amp it up a bit to be more filling. The real reason this salad is amazing is the dressing. It is so light and flavorful without being too much of anything. You don't feel like you are eating a bowl of cilantro. I can see myself making a dressing like this for many years to come. 

Changes I made:
- Swapped fava beans for chick peas. This was "fine" because I had the chick peas on hand, but the salad really needs something light, and crisp. Fava beans would be perfect but the chick peas meant I didn't go to another store.
- Added chicken sausage. I will put chicken sausage in just about anything. I love it. This boosted the salad to be just a touch more filling.
- No onion. Pretty much just because I was too hungry and forgot. I would do this next time if I remembered, but it was still pretty great without it.

What makes this salad so amazing? It's the combination of the herby, light dressing with the yogurt on the bottom of the dish. I was doing everything I could to scoop up that goodness and be a member of the clean plate club. Do not skip the yogurt.

Here's how it goes.
  1. Combine all the dressing ingredients. Blend together using a food processor / immersion blender / whatever you want. It is worth doing this mechanically because it really changes the texture of the dressing.
  2. Chop and prep the rest of your salad ingredients. Mix well to coat with the dressing. Let rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  3. Right before serving, spread a dollop of yogurt in the bottom of each dish. Lightly salt the yogurt and then top with the dressed salad
Shopping List
dressing
Approx 3 tbsp roughly chopped mint (12 g)
Approx 3 tbsp roughly chopped cilantro (12 g)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
5 tbsp lemon juice
1/3  cup olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
¾ tsp coarsely ground black pepper

salad

1 cup garden tomatoes, halved
4-5 radishes, halved & thinly sliced (half moons)
1/2 cup limas/favas
3 mini cucumbers, peeled and chopped into cubes or half moons
1 spring onion, thinly sliced

For the love of old windows... and old friends

9.22.2019

I was in Newport for the weekend - which was lovely. 

It was such a special occasion celebrating one of my oldest friends. Although 11 years might actually not be that long, we have certainly done a whole lot of living in those 11 years. Learned a whole lot of lessons. Mostly good ones, which is nice.

The weekend was spent mostly outdoors which is my favorite place to spend time. So few pictures were taken that it is challenging to write a post about it - but I've found myself recently passing on past posts to others... and given that, any post is a good post. 

Slept At: Gilded Hotel
This place was aggressively quirky and cute with a super loud design decor. I tend to skew more towards traditional, New England looks but this was very bold - and wonderful. But the best part might be the hospitality. There was a great tea selection (I'm an old woman at heart) and peaceful little courtyard with a fountain. The homerun of it all was really the homemade chocolate chip cookies that magically showed up at the right time - even 1 am when we got home from the events. 

The next morning there was this thing called "small plate breakfast" which could be annoying - but was actually really wonderful. I've already emailed the hotel for the tomato salad recipe. It was delicious. Turns out if you put tasty food in very small plates people will love it. Even the super small diced watermelon.


Socialized At: New York Yacht Club, Harbour Court
The event was at the NYYC. From any of my research and all the signs, I know that phones are not permitted anywhere and cameras are not cool either. There is apparently a small loophole if you go outside and down the very steep hill. So that is what we did. 

I love a good house with history, plus a giant flagpole and sweeping views didn't hurt either. The passed appetizers were delightful. I absolutely consumed more than my fair share of deviled eggs and roasted golden beets. Would also like the recipe for those beets. 


Night Activities: Everywhere
One of the planning people wrote up a treasure map of sorts to keep everyone on track after the cocktail party. I honestly have no idea where we went all night mostly. All I know is that it was not too far, but far enough for my tender little feet in heels. They are highly accustomed to sneakers and Birkenstocks... not 3 inch heels on cobblestone streets. My how life has changed.
  1. Perro Salado --> adorable patio area with even cuter lights. absolutely must go here.
  2. The Fastnet --> Good amount of space plus there is darts... and the majority of the walls can be written on in chalk. Sounds fun right?
  3. Buskers --> Standard Irish pub
  4. Benjamins --> there are a lot of stairs to get to the great stuff - but there is this upper deck area that is wonderful. Go all the way to the tippy top. 

Morning Stuff: Assorted
I'm an early bird so I got in a lovely walk of the Newport streets before the actual brunch and the hotel brunch. Yes, I ate twice. The old houses are great in Newport but it is really the amazing older windows that I'm in love with. You simply cannot buy them like this anymore. 

The actual brunch was delicious. If I spent the entire last evening telling everyone about the roasted beets, I spent the morning talking about the kale and bacon quiche. It is by far the best quiche I have ever had. I have a renewed interest in figuring this out for my home life.  I do think the secret might be a lot of heavy cream. That's okay.
 

eggplant parm

9.19.2019

Woah. I had no idea that these little bitty eggplants could be so delicious. I think I have always turned away from eggplant parmesan because of the eggplant. In hindsight that is truly ridiculous because nothing can be terrible when you cover it in cheese.

When I was planning my garden this year, I really wanted to include a patio baby eggplant. The patio baby produces plants that are much smaller than traditional plants. They are ideal for growing on patios (obviously) and for people who don't need a ton of large produce (single people). I did try to grow this same variety last year but it was largely unproductive.

The plant has been bursting with little eggplants for much of the summer but I didn't get around to really using them until this week. Until now I've been forcing them on people who come for tomatoes. You want some fresh tomatoes? Take an eggplant as a bonus item.

Making eggplant parm doesn't take a lifetime but it does have more steps than I'd otherwise subscribe to on a weeknight. You have to prepare each eggplant slice, fry it, and then bake the whole thing. It's just one step too many for me but I'm glad I made it happen. This was delicious. There are probably a million eggplant parm recipes out there but this is the one I started with. Like all of my recipes, I never really follow the instructions to a T.

A few notes:
Eggplant slices // Really stick with 1/2 inch slices. Anything less than this and I think they are too floppy and won't hold the breadcrumbs that well.
Double Dip // I double breaded the eggplant slices. It was worth it. In other words, egg --> breadcrumbs --> egg --> breadcrumbs --> fry it up.
Eggplant size // Since I was using a smaller variety of eggplant, I think mine also retained less moisture. As a result, I didn't need the full hour to pull moisture out (see below for more context). I do think this step is a game changer. I can't imagine making eggplant parm and it being soggy. No thanks.
Pasta // I served this over some linguine with more tomato sauce but you can do many other things. I might eat some of the leftovers in a sandwich or perhaps over some pesto pasta. Seems a bit wild, but I feel like it would be good.

Some bonus points for this recipe? Nearly all of the ingredients came from my garden or my neighbor's. I grew the eggplant and basil. The tomato sauce was made from my tomatoes over the prior weekend. It is literally just tomatoes, no onion, garlic, etc. So pure tomato goodness. The eggs for the breading came from my Aunt's chickens next door. Only ingredients that were bought? Breadcrumbs and cheese. So incredibly satisfying - and delicious.
  1. Salt both sides of your eggplant slices and place them in a large colander in the sink. Let the liquid drain for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Brush off the excess salt when you are done so they aren't too salty!
  2. In 2 shallow dishes, add breadcrumbs to one and whisk eggs and milk in the other. Dip both sides of eggplant slice into milk/egg mixture then cover with breadcrumbs, shaking off the excess. Repeat. Place on large baking sheet and repeat until all eggplant slices have been coated.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  4. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil into the skillet. Once the skillet is hot, add eggplant slices at a time to the skillet and cook on both sides until golden brown, remove and set back on baking sheet. Repeat until you've pan-fried them all.
  5. In a large casserole dish, add 1 cup of tomato sauce to the bottom of the casserole dish. Add a layer of eggplant slices, then sprinkle cheese. Repeat sauce, slices, cheese layers until you don't have any left. For the very top be more generous with the shredded mozzarella and sprinkle on some bonus parmesan cheese. 
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and slightly crisp on top. If needed, you can pop it under the broiler to get cheese crispy.
  7. Serve hot and top with torn basil.
Shopping List
1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/2" thick slices
2 tbsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
4 tbsp vegetable oil, for lightly pan-frying
3 cups tomato sauce
2 cups mozzarella shredded
1 cup parmesan cheese
Handful of fresh basil leaves chopped

garden update

8.22.2019

I am not sure why, but I have simply not been compelled to write a garden update this year. It's real lunacy given how much I depend on them when I'm garden planning each winter.

Honestly, I think I've been waiting for some real bad weather or frankly a reason to sit in front of my computer for an hour... but neither has happened. That being said, if you want to know about the storage box options for my office shelves... I've got you covered. I researched the heck out of that.

The garden this year has been successful, more so than I anticipated... and as a result I'm consistently behind in my pruning and harvesting. I am also a real big fan of several of the new varieties that I planted this year.

  • Blush - first to ripen! Incredibly productive plant. Like I have so many ripe tomatoes and no idea what to do with them. If they were red, I would just make a whole bunch of sauce.... But yellow sauce? I'm not sure about that.
  • Tomatoberry - 2nd to ripen! Holy heck is this also thriving... in spite of all the care I do not give it. This plant is in the back row of my garden so I never make it all the way there for pruning before having to start over the next week. Love the shape of this babe.
  • Chocolate Pear - 3rd to ripen! Very cute... and also productive. 
  • 4th of July - always a favorite! The fruit size is perfect. This will always be in my garden.
  • Red Currant - This plant is going bonkers. I had no idea how well it was going to do. It always seemed so tiny and weak... but sweet lord, I have so many teeny tiny tomatoes. They are really cute. I would highly recommend this plant each year cause its fun.... Just try harder to control it :-)
  • Black Truffle - I'm eagerly awaiting this one to ripen. The fruits just started to turn in the last couple days... so I'm getting close. It is always my favorite tomato plant. So much flavor and not the rough look of a traditional heirloom.
  • Tangerine Mama - These babes are big. Like, real sizeable fruits. I picked one a couple weeks ago for a lady dinner that I had. In hindsight, it wasn't quite ripe... because now they have this incredibly rich looking orange yellow color. It worked in the salad but wasn't the "best" for a caprese salad.
  • Big Rainbow - This was a real mixed bag last year. I think I only got ONE tomato... and this year is shaping up to be a minor improvement over that. I've got a big one that is ready to be harvested so maybe I'll get one more after that. It's such a shame because this is such a GORGEOUS sliced tomato. It is one of the most beautiful ever.

Others that I have no report on right now:
Pink Berkeley
Mr. Stripey
Tasmanian Chocolate

Ok, the rest of the veggie garden updates:

  • Snap peas. I fought the good fight with the bunnies earlier in the season. After fencing off most of the garden, the peas came back to life. I only got a couple weeks out of them.
  • Eggplant. This is incredibly productive... but I can't seem to give it away. Nobody wants baby eggplants.
  • Green Egg Squash. So far so good. I think covering the entire garden in weed fabric has helped to keep the pests at bay. Squash will keep for several months so I'm slowly building a stash that I can eat in November. Win.
  • Delicata Squash. This was a late add to the garden from my aunt. Several blossoms but no squash yet. 
  • Peppers. They were majorly struggling when I had them planted in the garden. I think in late June / early July I moved them into pots and moved the delicata squash into the garden. They aren't as productive as my dad's peppers but they are doing better.
  • Kale. Solid so far. I've had a few bugs on them so some leaves have been eaten up by that. I should be better about freezing this for the winter. 
Next steps? I'm going to try and can some sauce in the next couple days and perhaps freeze some kale. I also have a lot of eggplant and it would be great to find a home for some of that. Maybe I need to make my first ever batch of eggplant parm? Maybe.

blueberry walnut mini pie

8.11.2019

This is the story of a last minute dessert. A dessert with the best of intentions that went from idea .... to failure... to success. Dare I say, an even better success than it would have been it everything had worked out.

I invited my friend Ann over on Saturday for dinner. I lured her over with the promise of fresh buratta and garden tomatoes. Since that did not feel like enough of a meal, I wanted to "whip up" a dessert real quick. Although I have a healthy stash of ice cream sandwiches in the freezer, I kind of wanted to show Ann a good time. Not a "do you want mint chip or funfetti frozen yogurt ice cream bar?" time.

I've made galettes several times before and they've been incredibly easy. The first time I made one, I also made my own ice cream. The most "complicated" part is making a pie dough but if that stresses you out, you can just buy a pre-made crust. But when I was grabbing some last minute prosciutto at the store, I didn't think it was necessary to grab an emergency pie crust. Silly me.

So what happened? I think the dough just didn't get enough time to set in the fridge. As soon as I started to roll it out it was too soft and started to break apart. I quickly pivoted and grabbed my ramekins and made mini pies. They came out so great. 

A few things:
  • This dough is next level delicious. The combination of cinnamon and walnuts with blueberries is amazing.
  • Make sure you top the crust with ample sugar. This isn't the place to cut back in life. You are already eating pie.
  • You are nuts if you serve this without ice cream or whip cream. It is borderline required. I grabbed some cool whip to keep life easy. 
Here's how it goes.
Dough
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Toast walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until fragrant and slightly darkened, 10–15 minutes; let cool. Pulse nuts in a food processor until the consistency of coarse meal. 
  2. Add flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon and pulse just to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces remaining.
  3. With the food processor running, drizzle up to 4 Tbsp. ice water and mix, adding another tablespoonful of water if needed, just until mixture comes together. 
  4. Gently pat dough into a 6"-diameter disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour.
  5. NOTE: Dough can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled, or freeze up to 1 month.
Filling and Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Toss blueberries, cornstarch, lemon juice, and ¼ cup sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Roll out dough on a lightly floured to just about a 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick.
  3. Depending on your interest in precision, you can either cut a circle of dough for your ramekin or just piece it together with your hands. Either way, grease your ramekins and then fill the bottom of your ramekins with dough. 
  4. Cook ramekins in the oven for about 15 minutes until the dough begins to puff up a bit. 
  5. Fill each ramekin with the blueberry mixture and then top with more of the dough. 
  6. Brush dough with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
  7. Bake until crust is dark golden brown and filling is bubbling, 40–50 minutes. Let cool before serving.
  8. NOTE: Mini pies can be baked 1 day ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.
Shopping List
Dough
½ cup walnuts
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup (1 stick) chilled butter, cut into pieces

Filling12 ounces blueberries (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
All-purpose flour (for surface)
2 tablespoons milk, half-and-half, or heavy cream

matcha coconut macarons

7.31.2019

Did I paint my nails just for this picture? Yes. Did I paint just the left hand? Also yes. How long did it take for me to paint the right hand? 48 hours. I've been this way for years. It either takes me an hour to do my nails... or days. Or I never finish and I just start over again with fresh polish.

But back to the macarons. I bought matcha back in December for these cookie swap cookies. It's a really unique flavor profile. If someone tells you they don't like matcha, I feel like they are being picky. Matcha absolutely has *some flavor* but its also like *no flavor* at the same time. I came across a recipe for mango coconut macaron ... which sounded great. But I didn't have any mango and it felt like a lot of work. I did have matcha and the flavors matched up well. Like I said, matcha isn't that strong of a flavor in general. Or I have low bar matcha. That could also be true.

A few notes about this recipe / attempt:
- I don't think it is advisable to attempt macarons in a heat wave. The humidity and dew point were off the charts. I feel like that is why I didn't get a good rise out of the macaron shells. I did however get some great feet. I remembered to whack the cookie sheet against the counter.
- I feel like I've had a tendency to undercook the shells a little bit compared to prior macaron trials. I need to be more patient and less worried about a tiny bit of browning on the shells. 
- The other possibility? I got tired when I was making the batter. I might not have smoothed it out well enough.... but honestly the batter did look great when I piped it onto the pans.
 
Also.... with the amount of homemade piping bags I've conjured recently from ziplock bags... I might deserve to buy some real ones. This feels like it might be more work than its worth - but I feel like these hacky solutions are leading to hacky results. There is also the chance that I'm always going to be terrible at frosting cakes. That is highly likely. Like 95% likely. 
  1. Set your oven to 375 F
  2. Combine your almond flour and powdered sugar in a flour sifter and sift until you have a nice, pretty pile. 
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat your egg whites with an electric mixer until nice and foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar until they develop stiff, glossy peaks. I added my sugar in 1 tablespoon at a time. If you think your egg whites are stiff enough, they probably aren't. Keep going. One blog I read said you should be able to flip your bowl upside down ... I make enough of mess in the kitchen without doing this step, but you get the idea.
  4. Add coconut extract and mix gently. If the mixture gets a little less stiff, just toss that mixer on again for a jiffy.
  5. After the meringue is stiff and glossy, you essentially get to mix it all up again - but none of that "folding in the egg whites" business. This is straight mixing folks. Add about half of the flour/sugar mixture and stir with your spatula until mixed. Then, add the rest and stir again.
  6. This is now a "crucial" part in the macaron process.... you need to stir until the mixture is even and smooth. A smooth mixer makes for good meringues and that is what this is all about folks. What you do is spread the batter against the sides of the bowl, then flip it back into the middle, and repeat. And repeat. And repeat times 15 or so times. Just like the flour sifting process, I thought this would be all phony and silly and not worth it, I was wrong. You can see the difference in the batter. Add in food coloring until you get the shade of green you'd like.
  7. Fill your "pastry" bag with the batter and squeeze it out gently into small circles on your parchment lined baking sheet. Note: the batter will settle a bit so, don't worry too too much about having a "tip" in the middle of your circle. Just try and keep your circles in similar small sized circles - about 1.5-2 inches.
  8. After you have filled you pan with little circles, whack the sheet against the counter several times. According to the post I read, "This will set the pied or little pastry lip at the base of the cookie (an essential for an authentic macaron)." Now, set the tray aside for 30 minutes to dry. You'll know they are dry when you tap the surface of the circle and it does not stick to your finger.
  9. Place in the oven for about 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, turn the sheet so that the front-facing macarons are now towards the back of the oven for an even bake. If after 14 minutes, they are still super-soft, reduce heat to 325°, cover in aluminum foil and bake for 2 more minutes. Watch them carefully.
  10. When the macarons are done baking, take them out of the oven and let sit until cool. When they are cool, they'll pop right off the parchment but they won't before then.
  11. Fill a new pastry bag with the filling and create about 1/2 inch dot on one macaron cookie, then sandwich another on top. Be careful not to squeeze the filling out on the sides.
  12. That's it. Now eat them... and store them in the fridge.
Making the Filling
  1. In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, cream butter on high speed until light and smooth (about 5 minutes).
  2. Reduce the speed to low and add powdered sugar. Mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Add lime juice, zest, tequila and salt and mix on high speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes).
Shopping List
2/3 cup almond meal/flour
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar.
3 egg whites
5 tablespoons of white, granulated sugar
1 tablespoon matcha powder

Filling
1/2 cup softened butter
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp coconut extract

Other macaroon recipes I've tried: margaritaraspberry with coconut fillingstandard, and these award winning Christmas cookie variety.

blackberry lime cake

7.29.2019

I've had this cake on my list for most of the summer. And sweet lord, it is good. It also has like a whole lot more steps than I normally take on. But, the minute I tasted this frosting I knew it was all worth it. I have literally never tasted anything so light and airy in my life. Pure heaven.

Candidly, I made this cake for a casual family gathering. My birthday. I know it's not something normally accepted for a birthday girl to make her own cake - but it is what I wanted. And what the birthday girl wants, the birthday girl gets. So my parents don't get shamed for this, here is text message evidence of the initial decline when I asked to make the cake.
Here are a few things to know about this cake:
  • Blackberry Compote // you can use frozen berries. My grocery store didn't have fresh blackberries in-stock and we all lived after eating this cake. No big deal.
  • Lime Cake // the current flavor profile is subtle. My aunt didn't even take note of the lime flavoring. If you want more of a boost, add in maybe the zest of two limes instead of one.
  • Cake layers // The original recipe called for 3 eight inch round layers. I'm still really loving my 7 inch round pans. This resulted in a 4-layer cake versus 3-layers. Not that big of a deal. When the batter is completed mixed you end up with 6 cups before dividing it between the pans.
  • Weird layers // I'm not totally sure what happened but my first two layers that I cooked didn't have a great formation on the edges of the pan. For the last two, I had run out of parchment paper (doh!) and ended up just spraying and flouring the pan. They came out the best. But if you aren't using a spring form pan, you absolutely should have parchment paper. No questions.

Make the Blackberry Lime Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and lightly flour your round pans. Line with parchment paper circles.
  2. In a small bowl, combine milk and lime juice. Stir to combine and set aside for milk to curdle. 
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high using the paddle attachment. Beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  4. With the mixer on low, add eggs one at a time. Mix well after each egg.
  5. Add vanilla extract and mix to combine.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and lime zest. 
  7. Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Do not over mix. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl and the mixer blade.
  8. Divide batter evenly between the round pans.
  9. Bake for 25-27 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  10. Let cool in pans for 5 to 10 minutes, then remove to wire rack to finish cooling.
Make the Blackberry Reduction:
  1. Combine blackberries, sugar and lime juice in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Cook 10 to 15 minutes until the juices are bubbly and the berries are soft enough to smash with the back of a spoon.
  3. Press the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a clean bowl to remove the seeds. Use the back of your wooden spoon to really press as much pulp through as you can. Scrape the underside of the strainer to get all of the accumulated blackberry pulp. Discard seeds and return strained puree back to the pan.
  4. Cook on medium, stirring with a wooden spoon, until reduced to only a few tablespoons, about 10 minutes.
  5. Pour into a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to cool.
Make the Blackberry Buttercream:
  1. Place egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk until combined.
  2. Place bowl over a pan of simmering water to create a double-boiler. Whisking constantly, heat the egg mixture until it registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Carefully transfer the bowl onto the stand mixer.
  3. Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes until the bowl is no longer warm to the touch and the meringue is fluffy, glossy and holds a stiff peak.
  4. Switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, slowly add cubed butter and mix until incorporated.
  5. Whip on medium-high until silky and smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add blackberry reduction and whip again until incorporated. The buttercream may look like it’s broken at some point. Keep mixing until it is completely smooth.
Assemble the Cake:
  1. Place one layer of cake onto serving plate or cake stand and top with about one cup of blackberry frosting.
  2. Repeat with second cake layer, more frosting and then last layer of cake. Crumb coat and frost cake with remaining frosting.
Shopping List
Blackberry Lime Cake:3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons lime zest
¾ cup whole milk
¼ cup lime juice
8 ounces butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Blackberry Reduction:12 ounces blackberries (fresh or frozen)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice

Blackberry Buttercream:6 egg whites
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 ½ cups butter, softened
3 tablespoons blackberry reduction

red velvet spark cake

7.07.2019


Yes, I made up this cake name. Yes, it is perfect for any firework related holiday but really perfect for the 4th of July. Or perhaps a child's birthday? Either way, I have a lot of excess pop rocks and I'd like to find a new home for them preferably outside of my house.

The idea here is a simple sheet cake with a little bit of pizazz. The end result was a very tasty, fresh cake that took very little effort to pull together. I can imagine it being good for someone baking with kids. I was drawn to the original recipe because of the blue stripes... for which I got absolutely none of that. In the recipe's defense, I did cut back on the food coloring by about 50% but I'm not sure it would have made that big of a difference.

A few notes:
  • too much pudding // the initial recipe called for 3 boxes of instant pudding... which I dutifully made and used. It was a bit obscene. I had a pudding layer about an inch thick on top of the cake. After it had firmed up I scraped most of it off to leave just a thin layer of the white chocolate pudding on the top. In the ingredients below, I have cut it back to 2 boxes as a result.
  • whipped topping on the side // I would leave the whipped topping on the side for serving as opposed to frosting the whole cake in advance. This feels like a better approach especially if you anticipate leftovers.
  • I lined the whole pan with parchment paper. I had a vision of serving this cake on a plater and not in the original pan. The vision did not pan out :-). Just accept this cake for what it is. A nice and easy sheet cake. Just grease the pan, no parchment needed.
My pictures of this recipe are pretty much crap. I honestly didn't try that hard. I just wanted to eat that cake and not search for good angles. It is hard to find good angles on a sheet cake. Here's how it goes.
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare cake mix as directed on package, adding cocoa powder, red food color and vanilla. Pour batter into greased 13x9-inch baking dish.
  2. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan.
  3. Poke large holes all over cake using the end of a wooden spoon. 
  4. After holes are made, mix milk, and blue food color in large bowl. 
  5. Add pudding mix; stir just until mixture begins to thicken. Immediately pour pudding over cake, filling the holes.
Shopping List
1 package (2-layer size) white cake mix (plus ingredients needed to bake)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 bottle (1 ounce) red food coloring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups milk
30 drops Blue food coloring
2 packages (4-serving size each) white chocolate instant pudding mix
1 container (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 package Strawberry Pop Rocks® popping candy

chocolate mud cake

 
Have you ever eaten a good, fudgy brownie ... and been like why can't this be a whole cake? If so, this is the cake for you. It is like a cake make out of just the middle fudgy part of the brownie. Not the crust not the bottom, not the edges... just the fudgy middle part. It's pretty amazing.

I saw this recipe initially on the internet. The baker posted a video of her making the cake. It was captivatingly easy ... and I love that she kept calling her grandmother her "Nan". So those are the reasons I made this cake.

This is not the best logic, but I was also trying to make a "lighter" cake than the previous ones from the summer (banana cinnamon, banana hazelnut). This cake is an absolute winner. If you invite me to your house, there is a decent chance that I'll bring this with me.

A few things about this cake:

  • perfect for a "make your own" bar type event. I ate this cake with whip cream and berries.... and then again with just peanut butter... and also with nutella. It's a wonderful blank canvas.
  • I made this cake two ways. One in a 7 inch spring form pan and then the rest of the batter in a tart tin. The tart tin was almost the best. It was thin and incredibly fudgy through out. The traditional format was still good but took more than 2x as long too bake. 
  • Incredibly easy! I am terrible at melting chocolate but this cake was so easy to make. Literally anyone can do it.
  • The last step of the traditional recipe is to dust with cocoa powder. I actually didn't like this. Next time I would dust with powdered sugar.
If you are interested in the "tart" pan option, you need to watch the bake time pretty closely. I think mine was done at about 20-25 minutes. The 7 inch spring form pan was very close to an hour. It would be hard to tell you the ingredient amounts needed to just make the tart size since I just used my leftover batter, but if you were to cut the batter to 33% that might be about right. The batter does not rise very much at all so limited concern about spillover.


Here's how it goes.

  1. Preheat oven to 320ºF. Grease and line a springform cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Sift the flour, baking and cocoa powders into a large bowl and set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, chocolate chips, milk and vanilla extract. Stir on medium heat until melted and smooth. Allow to cool slightly.
  4. Add to the dry ingredients alongside your eggs and sugar, and whisk until you have a smooth batter.
  5. Pour into your prepared tin and bake for an hour or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Allow to cool completely in the tin.
  6. To serve, remove from the tin and dust with additional cocoa powder.

Shopping List
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa powder, plus extra to serve
1 cup unsalted butter
9 ounces dark chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
11/2 cups castor sugar
2 eggs
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