Beware! I made this sweet Valentine’s treat for my daughter one Saturday morning and she even ate the leftovers for the rest of the week. You know what my daughter never eats? Leftovers. OF ANYTHING. And now she asks me for it all the time. And, I’m like, ‘Um, no. That dish took me hours to create. Eat your cereal.’
Parents, you’ve been warned.
Chocolate Raspberry Pancakes with Chocolate Ganache
For the pancakes: 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour 1/3 cup *regular* cocoa powder 6 Tbsp granulated sugar 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 3/4 tsp salt 1/4 tsp baking soda 2 large eggs 3 Tbsp melted unsalted butter 3/4 cups whole milk
For the ganache: 1/2 cup whole milk 5 oz semi-sweet, finely chopped chocolate 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
To plate: 1/4 cup fresh raspberries Powdered Sugar
For the pancakes:
In a large bowl, sift together the flower, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. (What is sifting?)
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, melted butter, and the milk.
Once you have both the dry and wet ingredients prepped, mix the liquid ingredients in and stir the batter until it is moistened and lumpy.
*If you want to make a shape, you will need a cookie cutter in that shape. Since I made this for Valentine’s Day I went with a large heart-shaped cookie cutter.
Heat your non-stick or Cast Iron Skillet to medium heat.
Grease the pan with a liberal amount of butter.
*Place your cookie cutter onto the skillet and pour the batter in. The batter is very thick and will form a dense cake. You will need to go medium heat and babysit it as this much thicker cake batter will take about 4-5 minutes to cook. Poke it occasionally to test if the batter is cooked through. When you are getting fairly clean pokes with the fork, gently slide the spatula underneath and flip the whole thing over, cookie cutter included, to keep the shape. Cook for another 2 or 3 minutes. You don’t want to burn it. The end result should poke clean, but be a decadent, gooey end result when you actually dig in.
When finished, transfer to a plate to let it cool.
For the granache:
In a small sauce pan, heat the 1/2 cup of milk, the 5 ounces of Finely chopped, semi-sweet chocolate, and 1 tsp of vanilla. Whisk over lower heat until the sauce is smooth.
For the plating:
Place the pancake on the plate and pour the chocolate sauce over the cake. If you want to get creative, you can drizzle the sauce on the plate as well.
Arrange the raspberries on the plate next to the pancake.
Sprinkle powdered sugar over the whole dish and serve.
We’ve all been there. The kid is looking at us with wide, glowing eyes and asking us if Santa exists and will he grant them their precious wishes. I’m still trying to encourage my cynical child to believe he does exist, so I have to bring my A-game. Well, if I had to stuff myself down a chimney (which I don’t have) and leave over priced toys for a kid I don’t even know … would I want to be sober for it? Certainly not.
Enter The Nog. I’m not talking about the nasty stuff they sell in cartons at the grocery store that should not even be allowed to be labeled Egg Nog. There really out to be a law, that stuff is such a travesty. I am talking about the real deal. I prefer to make the Puerto Rican varietal that uses Spiced Rum called Coquito. And since I was going with the very merry nogmas theme for that jolly old fatty, I went with Egg Nog Snickerdoodles as well.
Santa’s Merry Nogmas Table
Let’s start with The Nog
A word of warning about The Nog. This is NOT a cheap dish to make. I never spend less than 100 bucks, but it is so. worth. it.Instead of polluting the ingredient list with a bunch of *Don’t be cheap alerts, I am just going to apply it to the whole list. Go organic on the dairy products,get free range eggs, get the top shelf booze, and get the highest quality French vanilla ice cream. They all affect the flavor. Egg Nog is a magical experience and you’ll only have it once a year.
2 Cups Sugar
1 Quart Heavy Cream
2 Quarts Whole Milk
1 Liter of Brandy (British), Bourbon (American), or Spiced Rum (Puerto Rican.)
1 Quart French Vanilla Ice Cream, softened.
Pinch of Salt
Ground Nutmeg (for garnish.)
In one 5 quart mixing bowl and 1 1.5 quart mixing bowl seperate the eggs. I have tried many methods and the fastest way to do it is to crack each egg and use the shells to dash back and forth until the whites separate from the yolk. The yolk goes into the 5 quart bowl and the whites go into the 1.5 quart bowl. If you want to see how this method works, you can check out this video: https://youtu.be/t-OwbEy-Vxk
Once you have finished separating the yolks and the whites, add the sugar to the yolks. You will need to beat the yolks briskly with a wire whisk for 3 minutes. They should be thick and lemon-colored.
Next, you will fold in the dairy. Add the milk and cream. Keep whisking.
Now, this ingredient is really important. It’s what will have you muttering to yourself like Cap’n Jack Sparrow … “but, why is the rum gone?” Pour in the rum!!
And after that it’s time to fold in the french vanilla ice cream.
By now your arms should be pretty tired and you’ll be wondering why you read my blog or why you bothered engaging on this particular project. But don’t worry, you’re almost done.
It’s time to add a pinch of salt to the egg whites, bust out the hand mixer and whip them until they form soft peaks. This should take about 5 minutes. I have tried to do this by hand so many times. Don’t bother. I have only gotten the soft peaks with a hand mixer. I find it best just to accept one’s inadequacies and let the robot take over the world. If you don’t know what soft peaks are, here’s a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch/wMTxkDzBqSU
Now that you have your soft peaks, it is time to fold them in to the 5 quart bowl with the rest of the mixture. Folding is yet another technique that may be new to you. So check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skWSIFfIMqc
After you have finished all that, cover the mixture and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes before serving.
The customary garnish is ground nutmeg. Just give each cup a sprinkle, and, well, Bob’s your uncle.
And now, the Egg Nog Snickerdoodles
I created a hybrid recipe that was essentially a cheat, but, after laboring over the Nog itself and my requisite peanut butter cookies (I mean, how would you even know it was the holidays if you didn’t have peanut butter cookies?) I ended up going with a route that made heavy use of convenience ingredients. The result was still quite yummy, so the peanut gallery told me.
1 Pouch (17.5 oz) sugar cookie mix
Butter and eggs called for on cookie mix pouch
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp rum extract (but, why is the rum gone!)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup store bought egg nog
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Microwave the butter in a small bowl for about 30-45 seconds to soften.
In a large bowl, combine the sugar cookie mix, the egg nog, 1/2 of the nutmeg, the rum extract, and the softened butter. Stir until a soft dough forms.
Combine the cinnamon and sugar in a separate small bowl to make your mixture to roll the cookies in.
Once the dough is done, roll the cookies into 1 1/4 inch balls and roll each cookie in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
place on a greased cookie sheet. You will have to do them in batches, but keep the cookies about 2 inches apart.
Bake each batch for 7-9 minutes, until the edges are set.
Immediately transfer the cookies on to a counter or a cooling rack and let the cookies cool for 20 minutes. This is an important part of the baking process.
Wash, rinse, repeat!
So there you have it, Santa Clause’s Very Merry Nogmas table of goodies and salvation from sobriety on his longest and hardest night of the year.
Cinnamon buns really piss me off. You see, I am extremely intolerant of sugar. I can never remember if its hypo or hyperglycemia. I just know that two Cosmopolitans had enough sugar in them to knock me out cold sitting in rock hard seats in the nose bleed section outside at a White Zombie/Ozzie Osborne concert on a blustery November night. Oh yeah, that happened.
So you can imagine how much I have to avoid sugar. An interesting problem, since I love to bake. I can enjoy the wonderful smells at least, and the smiles my cookies and cakes give to others. Not so with the smell of freshly baked cinnamon buns. I always break down and eat a half of one. Then I sink into black oblivion, the gooey evidence of my trespass clutched in my sticky hand. If you want to join me there, friends, just follow the cinnamon and cream cheese frosted road…
Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese Frosting
Ingredients (Serves 6, assuming you have self-control.)
2 oz Cream Cheese
3 oz Butter
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
8 oz Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/3 cup Light Brown Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
Place butter in a small bowl and microwave for 30-60 seconds, or place in a small pot and melt over low flame. Once its mostly melted, set aside. It will be fully melted by the time you need it.
Add self-rising flour to a medium mixing bowl along with 2 Tbsp of melted butter. Add in the yogurt, 1/4 cup of powdered sugar, and 1 Tbsp of water.
Mix with clean hands until you have a shaggy dough.
On a flat work surface, like a large wooden cutting board or marble counter top, sprinkle liberally with bench flour. Coat your hands liberally, too. Add some more flour to a bowl and keep it handy. You’ll need it.
Turn out the dough onto your work surface and knead into a smooth and slightly sticky ball. You may need to sprinkle the dough with flour or coat your hands a few times during this process. Let the dough rest (being kneaded is hard work, after all) for 5 minutes while you make the cinnamon mixture.
In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, remaining butter, cinnamon, and salt.
Using a rolling pin coated in flour, roll out your dough into an 8 X 11 oval. Cover almost the entire surface with the mixture. I leave a very thin edge all the way around.
Starting on the short side, roll your dough into a cylinder. Cut into 6 equal slices.
In a round baking pan or cast iron skillet, coat with a little oil or non-stick spray, and then assemble your slices into a tight ring with one slice in the center and the rest surrounding. They need to be snuggly pressed together to ensure the rolls don’t fall open during baking and the dough puffs upwards.
Bake the rolls at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes. The tops should be lightly brown when done.
While the buns are baking, stir together the cream cheese, remaining powdered sugar, and 1 Tbsp of water. Stir the mixture until smooth.
Once the buns are done, I like to spread the frosting while they are still pretty warm so you get the drippy and gooey effect. If you like your frosting firm, let the buns cool first before you spread.
Do those gorgeous pallets of raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries that are in just about every stall at the farmers market during the summer entice you as much as they do me? They are so pretty! I just get all dizzy with fantasies of mixed berry tarts and sundaes and pies, oh my! But tarts and pies take forever, and lets face it, we’ll probably be too drunk from our sippy-sippy while we cook to finish anything that delicate and time consuming. Am I right? Well, that’s why the good lord invented compotes. Great on sundaes, waffles, pancakes, sponge and pound cakes, or as a side to dip your butter cookies in, the reasons to make a compote are endless. And it’s ok if you are drunk by the time you pour it over pancakes at 10 am. No judgement!
Seasonal Berry Compote
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp water
2 cups mixed spring or summer berries
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (which is approx. 1/2 medium lemon)
1 pinch salt
3 tbsp butter
In a small sauce pan, bring water and sugar to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and add in the remaining ingredients, except the butter.
Return to a boil and stir a few times. 45 seconds boiling, tops.
Turn off the heat and add in butter. Stir until fully melted and combined.
Using a potato masher, crush berries until you have a nice lumpy sauce. Don’t over crush, just make sure all berries are broken down.
Now that you have your delicious compote, what you pour it on is up to you! It’s lovely served warm on ice cream, pancakes, waffles, etc, but you can also store in a jar in your fridge for a week or so and add to milk shakes and smoothies. It can also work well as a jam on toast and scones, or you can get a little freaky and make a squishy ice cream and compote cookie sandwich with Nilla wafers. Heck if you need to get fancy, make cream puffs, also known as profiterole, and fill them up. We’ll all be impressed.
Ah, carrot cake… Is there anything better? All you people with your red velvet and cheesecake obsessions need to take this dollar I’m holding down to the corner and buy yourself a clue. But then, if you make a cake you have this behemoth darkening your fridge. The solution? Well, it’s me so I think the solution is always found in a cupcake pan.
For the cupcakes….
2/3 cup grapeseed oil
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
For the not-too-sweet frosting ….
4 ounces cream cheese
4 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Wash and skin the carrots. Grab a cheese grater and put on a good audio book while you grate the carrots. If you have one of them fancy food processors, you can use that and save time. I like to save to save space, thus the audio book.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Once the carrots are grated, combine them in a small bowl with the oil.
In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Make sure you don’t add the eggs.
Now, with the dry ingredients mixed, fold in the carrot-oil mixture and take care not to mix it much. You want the batter folded, not mixed.
Beat the eggs separately and then fold those in, too. Stir the eggs into the batter just a little, 10-15 swipes of your spatula.
Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners and then, using an ice cream scoop, divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
Bake for 13 minutes or so. They should be spongy on top and a golden-brown color.
Once baked, allow the muffins to cool.
Mix your frosting ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and beat at medium speed with a hand-mixer, until light and smooth.
Note: If you cream cheese is a sticky mess in your mixing blades, turn the speed up and rove around the edges of the bowl. The speed will free the mixture from your blades and get it nice and smooth.
Using a rubber spatula, transfer the frosting into a plastic sandwich bag and snip off one edge. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes and lightly dust with nutmeg.
Hand off the mixing blades to your clean up crew, as available.
Serve at room temperature, or you can refrigerate them for a few minutes if you want the frosting to be a little firm.
Be prepared to make these often, as they are seriously delicious. I don’t have a big sweet tooth, and thus I modified the original recipe I found at Pinch of Yum to be a more balanced and mildly sweet cupcake. I finally had a proper dessert that kept me coming back for more. If you do like really sweet stuff, just up the powdered sugar in the frosting to 2 cups and call your dentist.
So I got all ambitious and bought LOADS of cream cheese a couple weeks ago thinking I’d attempt a cheesecake. And it sits there. And it sits there. And it sits there. I’m getting desperate. I need to use this stuff but I just don’t have time to make a cheesecake. Gak! After endless searching I stumble on this adorable little confection. It’s got sugar and spice and its handheld (a theme with me) and …. cream cheese! Yes. The process was still a bit time consuming, but man are these little suckers GOOD. I have had a hard time staying away from them they are so freaking good, and I don’t have a sweet tooth. No doubt they will tickle yours!
1/2 pkg (4 oz) light cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 pkg refrigerated pie crusts
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 inch round biscuit cutter, or small juice glass
Set the cream cheese out to begin softening.
Sprinkle flour on your board or cutting surface. Roll out crusts and cut out as many 2 inch rounds as you can. I had to combine and re-roll a few times. You should get about 24 rounds. Pop them in the fridge to keep cool.
Once the rounds are done and the cheese has softened, combine the filling ingredients and blend with a hand blender until smooth and soft. Use a rubber spatula to transfer to a sandwich baggie. Set aside.
Pre-heat oven to 350.
Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and lay out 12 crust rounds.
Snip the end off your filling baggie and pipe a small amount of filling onto each round.
Top the filling with the remaining 12 crust rounds. Using a fork, press along the edges of each pie to seal the crust layers together.
Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes.
In the meantime,
combine sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl. Set aside.
melt your butter in a bowl. Set aside.
When ready, let the pies cool just slightly.
Coat the tops of your pies.
Either dunk and cover your pies in the sugar mixture, or sprinkle over the tops. It just depends on how sweet you want them to be.
Depending on when you serve them, they go great with fresh berries and a vanilla latte. Or you can just guilty pluck one out of the fridge every time you go in the kitchen. I hear tell the calories don’t count if no one sees you eat it.