Monday, August 30, 2010

Mixer Bliss

The strangest thing happened today -- As I was walking through the living room, I noticed that there was a big cardboard box out on our fenced patio. How did it get there? Did our lack of doorbell scare off the delivery guy? Did Brownie magically make a cardboard box appear? (She does find some random stuff to play with out on that patio...) But wait! When what to my wondering eyes should appear! Does it say Kitchenaid? Does it?

It did. So I very carefully opened the box and peeped inside to see if it could be true.

Chocolate Cupcakes

Last Thursday was my darling friend, President Susan's, birthday. I sent her a ridiculous one-liner email, "Do you like chocolate?" And this is what resulted. Happy day.

So instead of doing what normal people do, which is call before you randomly show up at someone's house, I just loaded up the cupcakes and drove over to where I thought her house was. Don't worry that I'd never been there before. Or that when I got there they had a security gate. Seriously, who wouldn't let you through a security gate if you had cupcakes? Note to all would-be criminals: begin baking.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cookie Cookie Cookie Starts with "C"

So here I was at home minding my own business when the desire to eat homemade chocolate chip cookies hit me like a mack truck.

I think this has something to do with wanting to be home again, eating the good stuff my mom would make. I had spent part of the day thinking about how awesome it would be to come home from school and have warm cookies on the table....
(Don't worry that I'm not in school any more, I'm just imaginative.)

The favorite red bowl, the essential Azteca vanilla (seriously), and the dough, whipped up with the hand mixer.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Shout Out to My Mom, Part II

Comfort food. Usually conjures up images of mashed potatoes, shepherd's pie, stroganoff... ya know. But I've found that the brownies my mom makes (and has made for years) have that same comforting appeal. So much so, that I've made them twice this month and have only managed to snap a couple of pictures of them in various states of half-eaten-ness.

Homemade Brownies with Frosting. These will kick your chocolate sweet tooth in the butt. If a sweet tooth has a butt. I'm furrowing my brow. This metaphor is all wrong.

But the brownies are so right.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Shout Out to My Mom, Part I

Last week my cute mom came out for a little visit and we did all things delicious during her stay, including a trip to the local farmer's market, where we couldn't resist picking up a small flat of strawberries. And they smelled so good. I mean, if smell-0-vision had ever made it past the dream phase, I would be permanently tuned in to fresh strawberry -- they smelled that good.

And since we had more strawberries than we could hope to eat in a lifetime, my mom showed me how to make strawberry freezer jam. I'm converted. It was really easy and it's SO GOOD.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Beach Vacation Cupcakes

Here's the latest in cupcakery around the house: The Beach Vacation Cupcake. Yeah, that Teddy Graham is wearing a pink frosting bikini. I know.

PS. Sorry my pictures are a little settings are off, I guess, because pics look fine in the viewfinder screen, but turn out like this after all the goods are eaten and no more pictures can be taken.

Here's another take of the finished product, complete with Teddy Graham in green board shorts.

And a couple of the process, because you want to see the gigantic mess I made.

For the record, I have approximately no idea where this idea came from.

Friday, August 13, 2010

At the Risk of Going Overboard

Here's what happens when you make a whole pan of brownies and there are only two people in the house to eat them. (We're new around these parts and don't know a ton of people who are ready to be taste-testers yet.) We turn the brownies and the extra dulce de leche into some pretty amazing ice cream.

This post also serves as a shout-out to my Uncle and Aunt NordShop who gave us an awesome Cuisinart ice cream maker for our wedding. It's their fault Lito and I are getting fat.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chocolate plus Dulce de Leche

I fell in love with dulce de leche last year in Chile. Lito and I spent about two months zipping around South America like we owned the place. On one fantastic occasion, our darling friend Chacha introduced us to crepes with dulce de leche, which she called pancake (pronounced pan-que-que, or something like that).

So when another amazing foodie friend forwarded me the recipe for David Lebovitz's dulce de leche brownie, how could I resist? How?

Especially when it turned out that making dulce de leche was seriously easy.
Here's what you need:

*1 can of sweetened condensed milk
*kosher salt or coarsely ground salt if you have a fancy grinder

Here's what you do:

*Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a glass pie plate, or another shallow baking dish that can fit inside another baking dish.
*Put the pie plate in the other baking dish (I used a jelly roll pan), and fill it with warm water, so your pie plate is a little island of sweet joy in the center.
*Sprinkle the milk with a little salt. I probably used 1/4 t, max. I think this is where the pros say "salt to taste," then cover the pie plate with aluminum foil.
*Bake at 425 degrees for 75 to 90 minutes. Check on it a couple times to add more water if you need to.
*Once the sweetened condensed milk has turned goldeny brown, let it cool completely and then whisk it up. Eat it on a spoon, on toast, on ice cream (more on this later) and definitely swirl it in your brownies.

Something about this swirling makes me think alternately of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, ala, swimming in chocolate, and/or tree bark. Really delicious tree bark. And when you've got one really sweet thing that's brown and tan, well, then another sweet thing isn't really out of the question. Our new little pup bore enough of a resemblance, so we named her Brownie.

One more of the chocolate, just because
These brownies, as Lebovitz himself says, are truly better the next day. They're ridiculously rich and totally worth it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

French Toast Cupcakes with Bacon

Several months ago, Lito and I saw something on the Food Network about a freshly made doughnut dipped in bacon crumbles -- people were raving about the amazing combo of the two amazing breakfast foods. You can see where this is going. The title of the post already gave it away. I did a little internet research and found an incredible recipe from

I stayed pretty true to the recipe listed, including the instructions to cream the butter for 10 minutes, despite the fact that I'm working with a pink hand mixer rather than a stand mixer.

Adding the dry ingredients looks cuter when you do it with heart-shaped measuring cups.

Secret tip: (well, maybe it's not a secret, but I thought it was a good idea anyway) Use an ice cream scooper to dole out the batter into even portions. The cake here is "French Toast" flavored -- a white cake warmed up with nutmeg and cinnamon.

Cooled. Frosted with maple frosting. (I added Mapleine flavoring to a regular butter cream recipe.)
And topped with delicious, crunchy bacon. They were a revelation. The sweetness of the maple frosting, plus the crunch of bacon was amazing. The cake had a fantastic flavor, but was a little on the dry side. Careful not to overcook.