Archived entries for baked

Blondies have more fun: Malted milk butterscotch blondies.

For all my dilettantish tendencies (see also: adventures in swordfighting/roller derby/gilding/laser etching/etc), I am in many ways a creature of habit. I am exceedingly fond of my ruts. Nowhere is this more evident than in my eating habits. You may not have realized this, but I am a seriously repetitive eater. It’s part of the reason I started blogging about recipes–coming up with new and fabulous things for y’all leaves me no choice but to branch out. If left to my own devices, I’d probably spend the rest of my life living on miso salmon, roasted brussels sprouts, and this totally wicked quinoa salad I put together last week (but that’s a different post)–delicious, but dull. It’s not that I’m not interested in new foods; I just take a weird comfort in eating the same thing.

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Which brings me to Sunday. Lady A and I had made a date for hanging out, baby snuggling, and baking. As I pondered what to make, my mind of course glided along the old standbys: black forest cookies, citrus pound cake…all the things I know and love. I came close to suggesting we make one of these, when a tiny voice in the back of my head called me out: “Wuss! Weenie,” it said. “What, are you afraid to try something different? Afraid to try something craaaaaaazy?

Well, much like Marty McFly, I don’t cotton well to being taunted. And so, in a fit of defiance (against my own brain, yes, I know), I decided to take a different tactic. After a brief consultation with my holy bible of baking, I decided to walk on the wild side of the street: I decided to make blondies. BUT NOT JUST ANY BLONDIES: malted milk butterscotch blondies.

Yeeeeeaaaahhh.

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And you know what? It was an adventure. The batter did not do what I expected it to (it was super thick–the spoon actually stood up in it. After I’d turned it out into the pan); it didn’t smell the way I’d anticipated; it looked different than I thought it might when it finished. But: the finished product was spectacular. I-could-barely-keep-my-hands-out-of-the-pan-spectacular (notable mainly because my sweet tooth is not a particularly demanding mistress). Rich and malty and butterscotchy, these things are a hit of sugary adrenaline straight to the brain.

It was a small step outside my comfort zone that really paid off. I recommend that you also take a small step outside yours–you may find yourself with a new favorite! So branch out. Try something new. Grab your best girlfriend and the cutest baby you know, and go to town.

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Just out of the ordinary: Aztec Chocolate Cupcakes.

If you’re on this site, you are probably of the same mind as I am, but I’m going to just go ahead and say it out loud: I love the Internet. It’s the ultimate playground for a misanthrope with an esoteric shopping list such as myself. Seriously. It’s where I get my news, my entertainment, my lessons in cookery, my clothing, everything. It’s also where I stumble across such useful articles as this.

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Fascinating!

I mean, before reading that, I had no idea that my intent was malicious when I brought in delicious baked goods to share with my colleagues. I thought I was just sharing something that I’d wanted to make; thank goodness I have the Daily Mail to tell me that secretly, what I want to do is distend the army of gorgeous women that I work with (and, in the interest of full disclosure, I work with some ridiculously beautiful women)! I feel so much more informed right now. So much more aware of who I am as a human. So full of evil glee. *ahem*

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Now that I have revealed my innermost evil to you all, let’s talk about the delights that have formed the most recent weapon in my campaign to infect my colleagues with delicious treats: Aztec Chocolate Cupcakes! Essentially, it’s the gourmet Hostess cupcake of my dreams: chocolate cupcake with cinnamon and chili, topped with a luscious cinnamon-chocolate glaze. It’s a flavor combination I’d been contemplating for some time, enamored as I am with Mexican hot chocolate and all things cinnamon, and this seemed like the perfect vehicle. I was not wrong. The cinnamon and chili took what was originally just a perfect chocolate cupcake, and made it something warm and magical; the cinnamon-infused glaze gave it an unctuous richness.

Now, if chocolate and chili is not your jam, I’d still like to ask you to check out this recipe–omit the spices, and you’ve got what I consider to be a perfect chocolate cupcake base, an ideal canvas for your chocolate flights of fancy. It’s moist, has a lovely, light crumb, and takes to experimenting with enthusiasm. I personally plan to try at least a few more riffs on it in the near future, though I’m not yet sure what form or flavor profile that will take.

I’ll probably end up asking The Internet.

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RoboJesusSpaceBaby Cake (or, The. Best. Coconut. Cake. Evar.)

There’s a longstanding joke about my alma mater that goes a little something like this: A Sarah Lawrence girl will do anything–except math. And it’s funny because it’s true (for the most part); with the exception of the ladies enrolled in the school’s mighty genetics department, we were not a bunch known for our mathematical prowess.  I want you to keep this fact in mind as you read this post.

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About this time last year, my lovely friend A and I got together for a baking date, which resulted in the creation of the famous and wonderful RoboJesusSpaceBabyCake. (Which, for the uninitiated, was a coconut cake so named because of the AWESOME box we made for it.). It was tremendous! And delicious! And amazing! Everything you’d ever want in a coconut cake!

And so of course I promptly lost the recipe.

[insert sounds of wailing, gnashing of teeth]

Fast forward to last week, wherein I found myself craving a slice of RoboJesusSpaceBabyCake. Craving it SO FIERCELY, in fact, that I spent at least two hours combing the internet, from whence the original recipe came, trying to locate it. After much hunting, I found it! And there was much rejoicing!

…until I decided to take it from a double layer cake to a triple layer cake. By increasing the recipe by 1/3. Instead of, you know. Just increasing it by half. Which would have the logical way to approach this.

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This is what happens when you let me start baking at midnight. Math. Lots and lots of unnecessary math. And after spending some time scrabbling fraction-based equations in my cooking notes, I can tell you this with authority: 1/3 is a RIDICULOUS multiplier to use in the kitchen. Most measuring spoons are not made to dole out 7/12ths of a teaspoon.

Fortunately, the cake was just as awesome as I’d remembered: dense, rich, delicious, not too sweet (well, until you slathered it with cream cheese frosting), and an excellent excuse to throw an impromptu party for some of my best and brightest. And any equation that adds up that nicely is okay by me.

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And now, without further ado:

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Falling in love: Lemon-ginger-white-chocolate scones

Here’s another page for you from my personal book of paradox: for all my grousing about loathing the cold, I love the fall. I mean, I LOVE the fall. I love the way it smells (like leaves and mulch and bonfire); I love the autumn holidays (I look forward to Halloween and Thanksgiving ALL YEAR. This should surprise none of you); I even love the fact that I can no longer leave the house without a jacket or scarf.

Lemon-ginger-white chocolate scones

Autumn! That wonderful time when you can finally turn on the oven without wincing! That magic moment when your cravings start to turn from watermelon to wassail! The perfect season for a closet baker, like me! And what better way to usher in this most glorious of seasons than with something spicy, delicious, and not-too-sweet? Something like…scones?

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Yes, my friends. Scones. My great challenge. You see, I love scones. I love them, but I am so flippin’ persnickety that it’s sometimes hard for me to enjoy them. I cannot abide them if they are: too sweet, too crumbly, not crumbly enough, too bland, too dry, too…you get the picture. As such, it’s long been a mission of mine to create the perfect scone, one that is sweet (but not too sweet), slightly crumbly (but not too much), and full of personality. It’s been a long pursuit, a seemingly endless quest.

Until now. Oh you see, dear readers, I think I’ve done it. And it’s DELICIOUS. Spicy, sweet, and structurally sound, these scones are the ultimate breakfast pastry–everybody loves them (including: people who don’t like lemon, people who dislike ginger, people who don’t trust white chocolate, my new colleagues whom I desperately wished to impress), and nobody ever needs to know how easy it really is.

Really and truly. Give them a try. You will not regret it (unless you burn the living hell out of your hand, as I did, but I’m trusting you not to be so stupid).

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Secrets and victories: Tangy Barbecue Baked Beans

I think I’ve done it. I’ve figured out the purpose of pomegranate molasses, at least within the context of my life. It’s amazing, and so simple. It’s a secret weapon, the kicker in–

Wait. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let us begin the story properly.

Barbecue baked beans

Once upon a summer, you may recall that I had the good fortune to spend a sunny saturday in Central Park with a small phalanx of fellow food bloggers. You may also recall that our spread was, unsurprisingly, entirely awesome. Of particular note (to me, anyway) was a tray of baked beans–piquant, tangy, smoky, baked beans. Beans that have haunted me ever since, because the man responsible would rather not divulge his secret recipe! Which, you know. I understand. But it has not stopped me from trying to crack the code myself!

And so, I researched, I tested, I poked and prodded and finally –FINALLY–came up with a recipe that is, if not the twin to the mysterious beans of the potluck, a reasonable substitute (not facsimile, but substitute). Tangy! Smoky! Sweet! It’s like barbecue in a bowl! And the secret ingredient?

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