desserts & sweets

vanilla & chocolate ganache cupcakes

NOTE: I have moved! My site is now http://inthiskitchen.com . There is a slight name change due to the fact that I couldn’t get my old website name – in this kitchen is the new site which has this cupcake recipe and more. Go there and enjoy!

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healthy whole wheat blueberry muffins

NOTE: I have moved! My site is now http://inthiskitchen.com . There is a slight name change due to the fact that I couldn’t get my old website name – in this kitchen is the new site which has this blueberry muffin recipe and more. Go there and enjoy!

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red wine chocolate cake

After spending the past month laboring over studying for the GRE exam, and finally taking it yesterday, all I wanted to do today was relax. When free time abounds, I usually get the bug to start baking or cooking again.

I have a weakness for extremely simple recipes, standard things that have one special outstanding ingredient. This definitely qualifies – I’ve had chocolate cake a thousand times, but never one with red wine in it. I’ve had it in my “recipes” bookmarks for over a year now, and finally got around to slapping it together today. It comes together *really* fast and easily. The red wine gives it a delicious heady taste without tasting like alcohol at all.

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This is awesome with some fresh raspberries on the side, and would likely work great as cupcakes as well, with a ganache frosting, fresh whipped cream, or confectioner’s sugar.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake
From 17 and Baking
Makes a 9×5″ loaf

1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (6 7/8 ounces) firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
3/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (2 5/8 ounces) Dutch cocoa powder*
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

*If you can only find Natural-process cocoa, leave out the baking powder and use 1/2 tsp baking soda.

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Butter and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan.

Beat the butter on medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugars and cream until lightened and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg until well combined, then mix in the wine, yogurt, and vanilla. The batter might look curdled, but don’t worry. Sift in the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir with a spoon until there are no streaks of flour left, scraping down the sides of the bowl and being careful not to over mix.

Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and bake 60-70 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool the loaf in the pan on a rack for 10-15 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and turn it out.

banana bread (and banana muffins)

banana bread

Banana bread reminds me of my mom. She’s not a huge baking enthusiast, but when I was little she would bake a loaf of banana bread and wrap it up in tin foil, and I’d open it to find super-moist, delicious, dense banana bread. It’s really more like banana cake.

Here I made a loaf of banana bread and used the rest of the batter to make muffins, some with chocolate chips. I didn’t have sour cream so I subbed plain yogurt. Probably not quite as fatty and tasty, but it certainly does the trick.

banana bread

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
from Use Real Butter

1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups smashed, very ripe bananas
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Mix in the bananas. Combine dry ingredients and mix into batter alternately with the sour cream. Add nuts and chips. Mix well. Pour into two greased loaf pans (8×4 inch), or one bundt pan, or 12 bundtlettes (or anything you want, really) and bake for 45 minutes or until top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean from the center. (Not wet and gloppy, but moist crumbs are okay). For muffins, more like 20-30 minutes.

blueberry crumb bars

Blueberry Crumb Bars

I bought a huge carton of blueberries at the beginning of this week, and by Friday I was beginning to worry they’d go bad if I didn’t finish them soon. It was time to put them into something. I’d never made anything except blueberry muffins, so I ventured to the internet to find a recipe for blueberry… something.

Smitten Kitchen had the recipe I wanted – blueberry crumb bars. They were very, very easy to make and don’t even require your butter to be room temperature, so they can be made on the fly. (Now that the school semester has started, I *definitely* don’t have time to be baking anything, but I always do anyway.) I was worried my dough was too floury and would just end up tasting like floured blueberries, but once it was baked it looked great and is so tasty.

Blueberry Crumb Bars

Blueberry Crumb Bars

Blueberry Crumb Bars
from Smitten Kitchen

1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch pan.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

3. In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown.  Cool completely before cutting into squares.

snickerdoodles

snickerdoodles

I had been wanting to make snickerdoodles for so long – and the only reason I hadn’t was… because I didn’t feel like buying cream of tartar. I don’t know of anything else that would require cream of tartar (although I know there are things out there do require it) and I couldn’t bring myself to buy it just to make cookies.

But of course, if for nothing but the sake of experimentation, I finally just broke down and bought the stuff. And voila, snickerdoodles could be made. Now I just need to figure out what other recipes have cream of tartar, or make truckloads of these cookies…

snickerdoodles

This recipe is called “soft snickerdoodles,” and they were very soft on the first day out of the oven, but turned completely hard and crunchy the next day. Fine with me, though; they still tasted good!

Snickerdoodles

from Brown Eyed Baker

Yield: About 4 dozen

2¾ cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a baking mat and put in refrigerator to chill.

2. Whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

3. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

4. Gradually stir in the flour mixture, beating on low speed just until the flour is blended.

5. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.

6. In the meantime, mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

7. Scoop 1-inch balls of dough and roll in the cinnamon and sugar mixture to coat.

8. Place on chilled cookie sheet about 2 inches apart and bake for 10 minutes.

9. Chill the dough and cookie sheets between batches.

10. Let cookies set on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack. Store cookies in an airtight container.

lemon pull-apart bread

I first found this bread as just a pretty picture on Tumblr. A reallllly pretty picture.  There was no source for the photo (like most things on Tumblr), no recipe, nothing but a photo, and I felt like I absolutely needed to know how to make it because it looked like the most delicious bread in existence.

So I saved the image and then uploaded it to Google’s Reverse Image Lookup, and luckily found the website it had originally come from- a beautiful blog called Clockwork Lemon. The recipe was there! And when I finally got time I made the bread.

lemon pull apart bread

It involved making a dough, letting it rise, cutting it into a bunch of layers, rubbing orange-lemon-sugar zest mix on them, letting it rise again, and finally baking it.

lemon pull apart bread

It really was exactly what I dreamed it would be, lemony, sweet, really soft with a crunchy top, and the layers pulled apart easily. The recipe includes a frosting for this bread but I knew it wouldn’t need it and I was right. It is way good enough on its own.

lemon pull apart bread

It takes a little time to make this but it’s really not hard at all, and so delicious. The butter does drip out of the pan when the bread expands upward, and this made my smoke detector go off about a million times, so I put a pan in the oven underneath the bread pan.

lemon pull apart bread

Pull Apart Lemon Coffee Cake (Bread)

from Clockwork Lemon & 17 and Baking

Sweet Yeast Dough
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (You might not use all of this)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup whole milk
2 ounces unsalted butter
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) water
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Lemon Sugar Filling
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Zest of three lemons
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted

Tangy Cream Cheese Icing (I did not use this)
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Make the dough:

1. In the microwave heat the butter and the milk together until the butter melts. Set aside to cool slightly. While it is cooling Mix two cups of the flour with the yeast and the sugar in the bowl of a mixer. Then add the water to the milk mixture and stir in the vanilla extract

2. Pour the milk mixture over the flour mixer and stir until combined. Turn the mixer on low speed and add the eggs one at a time, mixing each egg until it is combined. Add another 1/2 of the flour and the salt and mix till combined.

3. Sprinkle the dough with 2 tbsp of flour and knead it with the dough hook for 3 minutes. The dough will be sticky but should become soft and smooth from the kneading. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size.

Make Ahead Tip: If you want to make the dough the night before you bake it just gently deflate the dough after its first rise, place back in the bowl and cover it with plastic. Stick it in the fridge overnight (it will continue to rise, but at a much slower rate. Plus you get added flavor in the bread from the benefit of a slow, cold rise) The next day take the dough out and bring it to room temperature before proceeding with the next steps. I like to cover my dough with a damp piece of paper towel and stick it in my oven at the lowest temperature until it is room temp.

4. Mix the sugar, lemon zest, and orange zest. It will draw out the citrus oils and make the sugar sandy and fragrant.

5. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan or spray it will baking spray

6. Forming the loaf: Deflate the dough with your hand. Flour a work surface and roll the dough into a 20″ by 12″ rectangle. This part is a lot easier with a ruler on hand! Use a pastry brush to thickly coat the dough with the melted butter

7. Use a pizza cutter, pastry cutter, or a sharp knife to cut the dough crosswise in five strips, each about 12″ by 4″ (it might not be this exact size, but try to make the five strips be equal sizes). Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons of the lemon sugar over the first buttered rectangle and gently press the sugar in. Top it with a second rectangle, sprinkling that one with 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon sugar as well. Continue to top with rectangles and sprinkle, so you have a stack of five 12″ by 4″ rectangles, all buttered and topped with lemon sugar.

8. Slice this new stack crosswise, through all five layers, into 6 equal rectangles (each should be 4″ by 2″.) Carefully transfer these strips of dough into the loaf pan, cut edges up, side by side. it might be a little roomy, but the bread will rise and expand after baking. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until puffy and almost doubled in size, 30 to 50 minutes.

9.Bake the loaf for 20 minutes and then check to make sure that top isn’t browning too quickly. If it is, just cover the top of the loaf with tinfoil and continue baking. My loaf took a little over 40 minutes to bake completely. When done, transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes.

10. Meanwhile, make the cream cheese icing. Beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon until smooth, then add the milk and lemon juice. Stir until creamy and smooth. Spread over the warm bread (you might want to put some plastic wrap or parchment paper under the bread to catch the drips)

11. Eat!