Berry Buttermilk Muffins

These berry muffins came out beautifully and I couldn’t ask for a better way to use up the left over berries from my fruit tart.  They were very tender and moist.  The crunch from the turbinado sugar also adds a wonderful texture contrast to this  billowy soft muffin.

The next time you find yourself with extra berries around the house, try this recipe.  You’ll love them for breakfast in the morning!

 

 

Buttermilk Berry Muffins

adapted from the Joyofcooking.com

 

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated white sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Zest of one orange

1 large egg, lightly beaten

3/4 cup buttermilk

2/3 cup safflower or canola oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups fresh raspberries and blackberries

1/4 cup turbinado raw cane sugar

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Position rack in center of oven. Butter or spray with a non stick cooking spray 12 – 2 3/4 x 1 1/2 inch muffin cups or use paper liner. Set aside.

In a large measuring cup or bowl whisk together the egg, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla extract.

In another large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange zest. Gently fold in the berries. With a rubber spatula fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir only until the ingredients are combined. Do not over mix the batter or tough muffins will result.

Fill each muffin cup almost full of batter, using two spoons or an ice cream scoop.  Generously sprinkle raw sugar over the top of each muffin.

Place in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for about 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Makes 12-15 regular sized muffins or 6 jumbo muffins.

Note: If using frozen berries you may have to bake the muffins a little longer than the stated time. Also, if making jumbo sized muffins, again, you may have to bake the muffins a little longer.

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Chocolate Mousse Pie

This pie was so fun and easy to make.

Why so fun?  Well, I got to beat the heck out of the graham crackers in a zip top bag.  I guess you could just put them in a food processor and push a button.  But, what’s the fun in pushing a button?

Then I got to pipe whipped cream.  I love piping those pretty little scallops!

You can see that I left the crust a little bit thick.  This is by design.  Since the chocolate mousse is so rich, I really like a thicker crust to balance it out.  The contrast of smooth to crunch is just fun in your mouth.  And of course the creamy whipped cream doesn’t hurt either!

Give it a whirl and tell me what you think.

 

Chocolate Mousse Pie


Graham cracker pie crust:

1 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs

1/3 cup white sugar

6 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 cup powdered sugar

1-1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 cups heavy cream

Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, melted butter or margarine, and cinnamon until well blended . Press mixture into an 8 or 9 inch pie plate. Bake at 375 degrees F for 7 minutes. Cool.

In large bowl, combine cream cheese and cocoa. Beat well until smooth and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. In medium bowl, beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form; fold into chocolate cream cheese mixture.

Pour into cooled pie crust. Cover and chill until firm, 4-5 hours.  Decorate with whipped cream if desired.

Always Use Your Leftovers

This dessert might look to you like a huge red velvet whoopie pie, but it’s actually the leftovers from a red velvet cake I made.

I’ve mentioned several times now that I am Chinese and was raised with very strong convictions about the wasting of food.  In our house, it just didn’t happen.  The only thing that was allowed to be thrown out from our dinner table were bones and fish skulls, with all the meat eaten off of course.

I take this same discipline of frugality to my baking.

 

 

This is the cake from my red velvet cake to-go post.

 

 

These are the tops that were lopped off of the cakes.

I love my cake layer cutter (on the left).  Cuts the cakes nice and evenly.

 

 

With a bit of leftover cream cheese frosting, I was able to make a dessert for my family that night.

This also served as a great distraction, because my kids were salivating over the cake I made and of course couldn’t have because it was for a friend’s birthday.  This leftover creation kept them at bay long enough for me to slip the cake out of the room undetected.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I mention in my About page that I am a staff advisor for a college student club.  Well, I was asked by my students to make some items for a bake sale to raise money for a homeless ministry that some students started.  The first thing I thought to make was these oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

Why?

Because we all know how unhealthily college students eat, right?  I figured, if I could get some oats and fiber into these students, this would be the way to do it!

Sorry, it’s the mom in me.  I can’t help it!  I did add chocolate chips in there to make it go down easier.

I heard they were a hit, so I guess it worked.  Mission accomplished!

 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


1 cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups light brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large bowl beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs and vanilla in a mixer until well blended. In a medium bowl add flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon then mix with a whisk to combine. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture, stirring until just combined.

Fold in rolled oats and chocolate chips. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons about 2 inches apart onto a cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 2 minutes and remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 3 dozen cookies with a #30 scoop.

Chocolate Dipped Fortune Cookies

I think a great way to jazz up anything is to dip it in chocolate!

If you are not the baking type, this would be a great solution to an easy Valentine’s gift.  This would be great for teachers, co-workers, or your sweetie (of course)!

I just unwrapped a bunch of fortune cookies, dipped them in some melted semi-sweet chocolate and sprinkled then with Valentine’s sprinkles.  Place them on parchment paper to dry and they’ll be ready in about 30 minutes.

You can get pretty creative with this idea.  You can use colored candy melts or use different colors or shapes of sprinkles.  The possibilities are endless.  This is also a fun one for kids to help you with.

Try them out this Valentine’s Day and I’m sure everyone will fall in love…………………………….with these cookies!

German Chocolate Cake

 

This German chocolate deliciousness was my husband’s request for his birthday cake this year.  After all, he is German!

Come to find out, this cake did not originate in Germany.  It is actually named after a man who developed a type of baking chocolate and they named it after the Englishman, Sam German.

The filling is a coconut-pecan caramel and really gives the cake it’s distinct flavor.  The pecans add a great crunchy texture and the coconut’s flavor is lovely.

I will warn you, this is quite a decadently sweet cake, but it was for a special occasion and a very special MAN!

I took the recipe from two different places.  The cake and frosting are from Hershey’s Kitchen and the filling is from allrecipes.com.

 

German Chocolate Cake

Cake

2 cups sugar

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

 

Filling

1 cup white sugar

1 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup butter

3 egg yolks, beaten

1 1/3 cups flaked coconut

1 cup chopped pecans

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Chocolate frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10 in. square baking pan.
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake about 25-30 minutes or until done.  Set aside to cool, then cut cake horizontally into two even layers.

To make the filling: In a saucepan combine 1 cup sugar, evaporated milk, 1/2 cup butter, and 3 egg yolks. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut, pecans and vanilla. Cool until thick enough to spread.

To make the frosting:  Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Spread filling between layers of cake and then frost the top.

Madeleine Cookies

I must thank my friend Ryan, who is the reason behind these madeleines.  Let me explain.

I do not like unitasking tools – a kitchen gadget that is only good for one purpose.  Some examples are an avocado knife, waffle iron and the madeleine pan.

So, why do I have a madeleine pan, you are asking?

It was a gift from a generous friend.  Ryan asked if I’ve ever made these cookies before and I hadn’t.  I told him of my dislike of unitaskers, so he agreed to buy me a pan if I would make madeleines for him.  I thought that was a great deal………and so did he!

My new motto is: “Will Cook for Kitchen Gadgets”

A quick note about the plate: I found it at an estate sale in my neighborhood marked for 25 cents.  The two ladies selling it were arguing about how the price was marked incorrectly and should have been more.  But, they gave it to me for the sticker price anyway.  I got home and Googled it and found out that this Spode China, named “Chinese Rose” was worth about $20!!  Gotta love a bargain!

So, here we have four large eggs.

Beat them until they have doubled in volume.

Next, add sugar and continue beating until you get this ribbon consistency.  The whole idea behind this is that you want to incorporate lots of air into the batter to make these cookies light and fluffy.

Zest one large lemon.  This is a meyer lemon from my backyard, but you can use a regular lemon.

Sift the flour into the batter and fold it in with your spatula, making sure not to stir.  Folding minimizes the air loss in the batter.

After I took this picture, I strained the butter through a paper towel, so that the butter solids stay out of the batter.

Here are these delectable cookies.

But, this is not the pretty side……..

THIS is!!!

I just love the golden brown color.  The shape is so unique too.  My first bite was heaven!  I could hear my teeth bite through the crunchy edges and next I tasted the butter.  As I started to chew, the subtle lemon flavor hit my tongue. The texture is also light and fluffy, the air trapped in the batter sure did its job.

These would be lovely to share with a friend over a cup o’ tea!!

Or, you can just shove them in your mouth while standing over the sink…………..what?!

Madeleines

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (6 ounces)
cooking spray
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
a pinch of salt
2/3 cups sugar
zest of one large lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

a bit of extra flour for dusting baking pan

Special equipment: A madeleine baking pan, regular or small

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the 1 1/2 sticks of butter in a small pot over medium heat until it’s brown and gives off a deliciously nutty aroma, roughly 20 minutes. Strain (using a paper towel over a mesh strainer) – you want to leave the solids behind. Cool the butter to room temperature. By doing the butter first you can complete the rest of the steps while it is cooling.

While the melted butter is cooling, to grease the madeleine molds – get in there and make sure you get in all the ridges. Dust with flour and invert the pan tapping out any excess flour, or you can skip this process if you have a nonstick pan.

Put the eggs with the salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Whip on high speed until thick – you are looking for the eggs to roughly double or triple in volume – approximately 3 minutes. Continuing to mix on high speed, slowly add the sugar in a steady stream. Whip for 2 minutes or until mixture is thick and ribbony. Now with a spatula, fold in the lemon zest and vanilla (just until mixed).

Sift the flour on top of the egg batter, and gently fold in. Now fold in the butter mixture, only stirring enough to bring everything together.

Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each mold 2/3 full.

Bake the madeleines for 12 – 14 minutes (7-10 minutes for smaller cookies), or until the edges of the madeleines are golden brown. Remove from oven and unmold immediately. Cool on racks and dust with powdered sugar.

Makes 2 -3 dozen regular madeleines.

Red Velvet Cake to-go

This is the story about a birthday cake…..

at an outdoor campsite…..

late at night…..

under a glaring flashlight…..

perched precariously on top of a cooler.

This is how a lovely red velvet cake lived the last few minutes of its life!

As you can tell from the photo, I wasn’t too worried about the resolution and composition of this shot.  It was pretty much…..”Take the picture so we can eat it already!”

The only disappointing thing about this cake is that I did not do it justice in the photo.  I can’t complain about any other part of it.  I made it for some friends’ birthdays which we celebrated on a camping trip last year and it was divine!  It was a fun juxtaposition to enjoy a regal-looking cake on a tent-camping trip.

 

 

Here’s my lovely red batter.  I love watching this color transformation.

 

 

One layer baked and leveled.

 

 

Can’t have red velvet without the cream cheese frosting, right?

 

 

The first layer meets its other half.

 

 

In the isolation booth and ready for the reveal at the campsite.

If you think that the cake is too difficult to make, you might find my red velvet cupcake version a bit easier.

 

Red Velvet Cake

From Bakerella.com

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 oz. red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8 inch cake pans.

Lightly stir eggs in a medium bowl with a wire whisk. Add remaining liquid ingredients and stir together with whisk until blended. Set aside.

Place all the dry ingredients in your mixing bowl and stir together really good with another wire whisk.

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on medium-high for about a minute or until completely combined.

Pour into cake pans and then drop the pans on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  After about ten minutes, remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups confectioners’ sugar

Sift sugar and set aside.

Beat cream cheese and butter on high until creamy. Add vanilla.

Then, add the sugar in batches. Scrape down the sides in between each addition.

And frost away.

 

Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp

If I had an old-fashioned American grandmother, I imagine this apple crisp is something she would make for a comforting dessert.

But, since I don’t I had to make this myself!

This crisp is so easy to throw together.  It hits the right spot if you are craving something warm, gooey and crunchy all at the same time.  It would be even better with some vanilla ice cream on top!

The granny smith’s tartness and firm texture lends itself well to this dessert.  It really holds up to the one hour baking time.  The apples maintain a firm bite, which I was happy about.  The sweet and  crisp topping is also a great complement to the apples.

 

 

Start with peeling 8 granny smith apples.

 

 

I love my apple slicer.  It really makes this process a whole lot faster.

Look!  I’ve made my apple into a flower………so pretty, and edible!

 

 

Add in the citrus zest and spices.

 

 

Mix it all up and let the flavors get comfortable with each other.

I’m not sure why I did not take a picture of the topping on the apples, but I imagine it could be because I was too eager to get this in the oven.  After all, it has to bake for an hour.

Desserts like this make me want to plant an apple tree in my backyard.  That’s how good it is!!

 

 

Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp

Adapted from Ina Garten

 

5 pounds granny smith apples (about 8 apples)

Grated zest of 1 orange

Grated zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

 

For the topping:

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup oatmeal

1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9×13 by 2-inch baking dish.

Peel, core, and cut the apples into large wedges then cut each wedge in half. Combine the apples with the zests, juices, sugar, and spices. Pour into the dish.

To make the topping, combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and cold butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of peas. Scatter evenly over the apples.

Place the crisp on a sheet pan and bake for 1 hour until the top is brown and the apples are bubbly. Serve warm.

Carrot Torte

I made this carrot torte for my mother’s birthday.  And if you remember my story about my mother and the first carrot cake I made for her, you’ll know this is the only cake she asks me to make for her………EVER.

It’s really the same recipe, just a different presentation.

 

Since I couldn’t wrap this up for her, the next best thing was to put it under glass.

Everything just seems fancier under a glass dome, don’t you agree?

Cookies are just cookies, but under glass they look like special cookies.  I imagine that’s why they put pheasant under glass?!  I’m not sure about that, but it sounds fancier than just plain ol’ pheasant.

 

 

Here’s the chunk we ate out of it.  I know it may look a little dense, but really it’s quite light and fluffy, really!