Gooey bittersweet brownies

January 7, 2016 at 9:14 pm (Alice Medrich, Brownies and bars, B_, Uncategorized)

I already have an Alice Medrich cocoa-only brownie recipe I like a lot, but this one was featured on the Food52 Genius Recipes page, and has been getting rave reviews for its ultra gooey, ultra chocolatey qualities.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Chia pumpkin pudding

November 6, 2015 at 11:13 pm (Alma's faves, Dessert, Pudding, unrated, Website / blog) ()

When we visited my Mom in June, she made a simple chia pudding with almond milk, which I really liked. It’s also vegan and raw. I liked it so much that when I got home I bought some chia seeds. But then of course I never got around to using them. When my mom came to visit in August, she discovered the unopened package, and made homemade almond milk and then used it to make me some more of her chia pudding. It was delicious. But making the almond milk was a pain, because my almonds didn’t peel easily. So for a second batch she tried making a version with hemp milk instead of almond milk. It was also good, but the hemp milk adds a pretty sharp grassy note. Alma ate both versions, but seemed to prefer the one with almond milk. Once my mom left I didn’t have the energy to make almond milk, so I bought some at the store and made another batch of chia almond milk pudding. Alma really liked it.  So I tried to find some more recipes using chia seeds, and I came across this recipe for pumpkin pie chia pudding. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chocolate teff banana bread

December 15, 2014 at 11:58 pm (Dessert, Muffins and quick breads, unrated, Website / blog)

I was looking for a recipe to use up some teff flour, and I came across this recipe for chocolate, teff, banana bread on the Cannelle Et Vanille blog. I vaguely recall making a different chocolate, teff, banana bread earlier this year (this recipe from the gluten-free-girl blog) and not being so excited about it. I’m not usually a fan of chocolate in banana bread—I normally prefer adding nuts and spices, as I find that adding chocolate or chocolate chips overpowers the pure banana-bread-y-ness.  With this recipe, however, I absolutely loved the final product. I’m not sure what made the key difference (maybe it’s just the pregnancy talking?), but I adored this cake. It’s very sweet and very moist and very banana-y, with a tender crumb that is neither overly delicate nor overly gooey. Read the rest of this entry »

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Healthier zucchini bread

August 2, 2014 at 4:47 pm (Muffins and quick breads, Summer recipes, unrated, Website / blog)

A friend gave me a ton of zucchini from her garden, and I had to figure out what to do with it. I’d never made zucchini bread before, but I was in the mood for something sweet, so I found two recipes online for reasonably healthy-looking zucchini bread. One is for a “regular” zucchini bread, just modified a bit to be lower calorie. The second is for a chocolate zucchini bread. Read the rest of this entry »

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What I’ve been cooking lately

June 21, 2014 at 7:02 pm (breakfast, Muffins and quick breads, soup)

What have I been cooking lately? Not much. I just haven’t been in the mood. Derek has been cooking some old standbys like whore’s pasta and chilaquiles and sesame noodles, and I’ve been making a lot of really simple dishes like stir-fries or roasted veggies or big pots of beans. But I have tried two new recipes, which I’ll blog about here, briefly.

Naomi Pomeroy’s Celery Velouté With Spring Herb Salsa Verde. It’s rare that a vegetarian recipe wins a challenge on Top Chef, so I was excited to try this recipe for a creamy celery soup. Without the salsa verde, the soup was not that exciting. I generally like celery, but the soup smelled a little too strongly of cooked celery for me to really love it. It was better with the salsa verde, which added some acid and non-celery flavors. Still, overall I wasn’t so impressed. It was basically a celery vichyssoise (i.e., using celery instead of potatoes). But Derek liked it a lot more than me. I had a few bowls over a couple of meals, but he single-handedly finished off most of the pot.

Gluten-free pumpkin chocolate-chip muffins. I don’t eat gluten-free, but I bought some coconut flour and was looking for recipes to try it out with. I chose this one because the photos looked very good and the comments were generally pretty positive. I doubled the recipe to make 12 muffins. Some of the comments said the muffins were greasy so I cut down on the oil by about a tablespoon and used an extra tablespoon of pumpkin puree. I reduced the maple syrup to 1/4 cup and halved the amount of chocolate chips, because some reviewers complained that the muffins were too sweet. When the muffins first came out of the oven the texture was very odd, but by the next day they had improved. They were definitely sweet with plenty of chocolate chips (despite the halving), but not very pumpkin-y or spice-y. The outside of the muffin was a bit greasy. Derek didn’t like them at all, so I ended up giving some to a friend and eating the rest by myself. They weren’t bad, but I don’t think I’ll make this exact recipe again. Maybe next time I’ll try a recipe that calls for both coconut flour and almond flour.

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Buckwheat pumpkin muffins

April 13, 2014 at 9:38 am (breakfast, B_, Dessert, Muffins and quick breads)

This was the second recipe from The Splendid Grain that I chose to use up my buckwheat flour. In her recipe head notes Rebecca Woods says that the recipe is reminiscent of carrot cake, only better. That sounded so good that I willingly sacrificed my very last butternut squash of the season. Read the rest of this entry »

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Homemade lara bars

February 26, 2014 at 10:09 am (Dessert, Other, unrated, Website / blog)

So far I’ve been doing pretty well on my elimination diet, except for my one “cheat” with a bit of oatmeal. Also, I forgot that lemon is citrus and I ate it several times. It’s so hard to cut out lemon that I’ve decided to leave it in. Could anyone really be allergic to lemons? I haven’t actually noticed any improvements in my allergies yet, but it’s only been a week and a half, so maybe it just takes more time.

The hardest part for me so far has been the nightly desire for a sweet snack of some sort. I said I was going to try to cut out added sugars as much as possible, and instead I’ve been eating Lara-type dried fruit and nut bars as a post-dinner dessert. They’re very tasty but a little bit too big for a dessert before bed. Also, they’re quite expensive (about 2 euros each). So I decided to try making my own. There are a million recipes online and I picked two to try: gingerbread bars and coconut cranberry bars. Read the rest of this entry »

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Adult chocolate cookies

November 6, 2012 at 8:28 pm (A, Alice Medrich, Cookies, Derek's faves, Necessarily nonvegan)

This recipe from Alice Medrich’s Cookies and Brownies is actually titled “Robert’s Chocolate Cookies,” but I call them adult chocolate cookies because they’re supposed to be  chocolate cookies for the “sophisticated palate.”   Medrich describes these cookies as “only slightly sweet, but rich and gooey, and laced with the chunks of the finest unsweetened chocolate in the world.”  Robert Steinberg created the recipe for his company, Scharffenberger, and thus they call for Scharffenberger unsweetened chocolate.  Medrich says if you can’t find it then use bittersweet chocolate of another brand, as most brands of unsweetened chocolate are too harsh and bitter to enjoy as chunks.   I first made these cookies in 2006, when I checked Cookies and Brownies out from the Pittsburgh library.  I adored them, but didn’t make them again until now.  Right before I moved to Germany, I toured the Scharffenberger factory in Berkeley, and bought a number of bars of their chocolate.  The Berkeley factory is now sadly defunct.  Hershey bought out the company, and closed down the factory, and consolidated Scharffen Berger production in Illinois with some of their other “gourmet” chocolate brands.  I haven’t tried the chocolate since the buy-out.  But I still had an (expired) bar of Berkeley-produced Scharffenberger  unsweetened chocolate in the pantry, and I decided it was finally time to try these cookies again.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Vegan flourless brownies

October 25, 2012 at 8:27 pm (Brownies and bars, Dessert, My brain, unrated)

I’ve had about a third of a big block of date paste from the Turkish grocery store sitting in my pantry for a while ago.  I bought it to make Lara bars, but only attempted it once.  I decided to try to use the rest of the date paste to make some sort of raw fruit and nut bars, but I ended up adding lots of cocoa powder so they ended up a bit more like raw brownies. Read the rest of this entry »

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Apple cranberry crisp

October 16, 2012 at 7:34 pm (B plus, breakfast, Crisps and cobblers, Derek's faves, Dessert, Fall recipes, Winter recipes)

I saw the first cranberries of the year in the store this week, and decided to make an apple cranberry crisp to celebrate.  I based my recipe on the apple crisp recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, but modified it a bit. Read the rest of this entry »

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Homemade ice cream

August 26, 2012 at 4:38 pm (101 cookbooks, Dessert, Ice cream & toppings, unrated)

I bought Derek an ice cream machine for his birthday, and we’ve experimented with it a little bit this spring and summer.

The first flavor we made was a Philadelphia-style vanilla.  The recipe is from The Perfect Scoop, by David Leibowitz. The flavor was good (very clean–milk and vanilla), but the texture was initially a bit soft and wet.  It firmed up after 24 hours in the fridge.

After that we tried a strawberry rhubarb sorbet, also from Leibowitz.  Unfortunately, once frozen it tasted mostly of strawberry and very little of rhubarb.  I’d like to try just plain rhubarb next time.  Perhaps I can replicated the really really excellent rhubarb ice cream Katrina and I had in Paris.

My third attempt was to use up some very ripe bananas and cream.  I tried to make a no-sugar ice cream using bananas, frozen cherries, cream, and coconut nibs, inspired by this raw vegan chocolate cherry ice cream recipe.   Unfortunately, I didn’t follow a recipe and the texture ended up extremely icy.  (Maybe the cherries added too much water?  Maybe adding cream was a bad idea).

Next we tried the sprouted kitchen fresh mint frozen yogurt from 101cookbooks, except without any chocolate chips.  The recipe calls for 1 cup of fresh mint, which is a pretty vague measurement.  I used a pretty packed cup of fresh mint.  The original recipe calls for brown rice syrup, which I didn’t have.  Instead I followed Heidi’s suggestion of substituting maple syrup.  The only Greek-style yogurt I could find here was a cream-based yogurt.  I thought that Greek yogurt was supposed to be higher in protein than normal yogurt, but this one was not.  It was just very high in fat (as you’d expect since it’s made from cream not milk).  The frozen yogurt gets mixed reviews in the comments section of Heidi’s blog.  Some people report off flavors and an icy texture, while other people say it’s perfect.  I thought it came out great.  The mixture was definitely thicker than the typical ice mixture, but it froze up well with a nice creamy texture.  I loved the combination of the herbal mintiness from the fresh mint leaves and the strong peppermint flavor from the mint extract.  And the tang from the yogurt was perfect.  I didn’t even miss the chocolate, but Derek did.   He’s not such a fan of sour frozen yogurts, but I loved it.  I’ll definitely make it again.  Next time I might try a sweetener that’s cheaper than maple syrup.

Today we’re trying the Leibowitz recipe for ginger ice cream.  It’s our first attempt to make a custard-based ice cream  Stay tuned!

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Vegan banana bread with peanut butter frosting

November 21, 2011 at 2:02 pm (Cook's Illustrated, Dessert, Fall recipes, Mom’s recipes, Muffins and quick breads, My brain, unrated, Winter recipes)

I used to make banana bread all the time in Pittsburgh, but for some reason I stopped making it once I moved to Germany.  But yesterday I had five over-ripe bananas gracing my windowsill, and so I decided to resurrect my old recipe.  We were having guests for dinner, however, and Derek thought that plain banana bread was a little homely to serve for dessert, so he decided to dress the bread up a little with a peanut butter icing.  Banana and peanut butter is a ubiquitous combination, but somehow I’ve never had banana bread with a peanut butter icing.  But a quick internet search reveals quite a few recipes for banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting, so clearly others have trod this path before us.  I even found one recipe for banana bread that calls for mini Reese’s peanut butter cups in the batter.  Wow.  Our banana bread wasn’t quite that decadent, but the peanut butter / banana bread combination was definitely a winner.

My recipe makes a basic banana bread with deep banana flavor, a moist, crumbly interior, and a golden, crisp top. Use older, more darkly speckled bananas because they are sweeter, more moist, and give more banana flavor than less ripe bananas.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Indian rice pudding

August 23, 2011 at 9:39 pm (B_minus, Dessert, Indian, Mexican & S. American, Pudding)

I was making an Indian dinner for company, and Derek decided that he needed to make rice pudding for dessert.  He used this recipe from Alton Brown. The recipe has received excellent reviews.  I’ve never had a rice pudding I’ve loved, so I had pretty low expectations.  But I enjoyed it.  The raisins and pistachios were tasty, and I liked the freshly ground cardamom.  (I’d probably add even more if we ever make rice pudding again.)  That said, given all the wonderful desserts in the world, I don’t think this one is worth the calories. Derek had higher expectations than me, and ended up a bit disappointed.  He thought there was too much rice and in general just too much “stuff.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Cherry clafoutis

July 30, 2011 at 7:24 pm (B_, Dessert, French, Necessarily nonvegan, Pies and custards)

It’s cherry season here in Germany, and wow are they good.  I don’t know if this year is unusual, but almost all the cherries I’ve bought have been big, juicy, and extremely flavorful.  Martha Rose Shulman recently did a whole set of recipes featuring the cherry, including a recipe for a cherry soup (which I’d like to try), one for a cherry smoothie (which I blogged about on my smoothies post), and one for a cherry clafouti made with yogurt and no butter or cream.  Many years ago in Pittsburgh Derek and I used to make a cherry clafoutis recipe, which was also from the New York Times (posted below).  For reasons best left unexplained, he had dubbed it “floor cake”.  But we decided to try neither of these recipes.  Instead we ended up making Julia Child’s recipe for cherry clafoutis. Read the rest of this entry »

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Silken chocolate tofu pie

July 17, 2011 at 3:33 pm (B_, Derek's faves, Dessert, Mom’s recipes, Pies and custards, Pudding, Silken tofu, Tofu)

One of the desserts I remember best form childhood is silken chocolate tofu pie.  I know, it doesn’t sound that great, but it was creamy and rich and chocolately and sweet…  I loved it.  My mom used to bake it in a graham cracker crust which made it even better.   But I also loved it uncooked right out of the food processor.  When I lived in the co-op I used to make the pudding with lemon juice or grapefruit juice for a little extra bite.  I liked the stark contrast between the sweet pudding and the sour juice.  Other co-op denizens didn’t like the combination of citrus and chocolate and soy as much as I did.  I didn’t mind though, because that way there was more for me.  I tried making the pudding for Derek long ago, but he was disturbed by the strong underlying soy flavor, so I stopped making it.  But last month I had a few boxes of silken tofu lying around that needed to get used up, and so I decided to try making tofu chocolate pudding again. Read the rest of this entry »

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My favorite chocolate chip cookies

March 6, 2011 at 7:54 pm (Cookies, Dessert, unrated, Website / blog)

I have a picture in my head of the perfect chocolate cookie.  It’s got to be soft, but substantial.  I don’t want to hear any  crunch when I bite into it, and I don’t want the cookies to stick to my teeth.  I don’t want my cookie to be to dry, but neither do I like a greasy cookie.  And the sweetness level is important.  There needs to be a nice balance of sweet, salty, and buttery.  All other things being equal, I prefer a cookie with some height to a cookie that is totally flat.  I haven’t yet found a recipe that makes my perfect chocolate chip cookie, but I’m working on it.  I’ll document our experiments below. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dark, spicy gingerbread

December 26, 2010 at 3:28 pm (A minus, Cake, Cook's Illustrated, Dessert, Fall recipes, Winter recipes)

I’ve been making this gingerbread recipe for years, but somehow I never got around to blogging about it.  But I made it last night to take to a holiday party, and someone explicitly asked me for the recipe.  It seemed a good time to finally add it to the blog.  I haven’t tried many different gingerbread recipes, so I can’t argue that this one is best.  But it makes a dark, moist, deeply flavored, very gingery cake. The recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated, but note that it’s no longer on their website.  They just published a new gingerbread recipe, which is totally different than this one.  It calls for stout, oil instead of butter, and omits the crystallized ginger, the buttermilk, and most of the spices.  The new recipe doesn’t even acknowledge the existence of the old one, and  the old one no longer seems to be available on their website. Read the rest of this entry »

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Light cranberry orange muffins

December 26, 2010 at 2:19 pm (breakfast, B_minus, Cook's Illustrated, Dessert, Muffins and quick breads, Necessarily nonvegan)

I have a recipe for pumpkin cranberry bread that I just adore.  I wanted to try making it into muffins, but I couldn’t find any more fresh cranberries.  So instead I found this recipe in Cook’s Illustrated’s The Best Light Recipe.  The basic recipe is for blueberry muffins, and then they offer variations for bran muffins, corn muffins, raspberry almond muffins, and cranberry orange muffins (which call for dried not fresh cranberries).  Alex and I made the cranberry orange muffins for breakfast last Sunday, along with these two ginger muffins. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hungarian sour cherry soup

July 25, 2010 at 12:06 pm (breakfast, B_, Dessert, From a friend, Fruit, Jewish, soup, Summer recipes)

When I was in Israel last summer my friend made her Hungarian grandmother’s cold fruit soup.  It was definitely quite different than any soup I’ve ever made.  The soup was refreshing, with a nice balance of sweet and sour, but with some heft from the yogurt and eggs.  I wanted to make it this summer and so I emailed her and asked her for the recipe.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Artisanal balsamic vinegar… not

July 24, 2010 at 7:29 pm (Cook's Illustrated, Dessert, Ice cream & toppings, Italian, Sauce/dressing, Summer recipes, unrated)

We had friends over for dinner the other night, and Derek wanted to make a summery dessert.  He decided on panna cotta. He considered making green tea or earl grey panna cotta, but in the end he decided that he shouldn’t mess around on his first attempt, and made plain vanilla panna cotta.  He thought it sounded a bit boring though, and so he decided to top the panna cotta with fresh strawberries and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.  I only had cheap supermarket balsamic vinegar though, and so we decided to reduce it to make it sweeter, less harsh, and more syrupy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Raw fig and almond bars

July 11, 2010 at 11:10 pm (breakfast, Dessert, Granola & energy bars, unrated, Website / blog)

I felt like baking today, but it was way too hot to turn on the oven. (By 6pm it was about 93 degrees in my apartment.)  In particular, I wanted to use up two small bags of figs and some cocoa nibs.  The once-black figs had become a snowy white–they were covered with a fine, bloomy, powdery layer.  I used to think it was mold but then one day I got brave and tasted it.  If the white stuff is mold it’s a mold that’s a dead ringer for powdered sugar.  I looked around online and eventually found a recipe for raw fig and cherry bars, which (based on the photo) I assume are supposed to be similar in texture and taste to a Lara bar.   I like Lara bars a lot, so I decided to try the recipe, substituting ingredients for the ones I didn’t have.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Decadent brownies

June 20, 2010 at 10:32 pm (A minus, Alice Medrich, Brownies and bars, Cook's Illustrated, Derek's faves, Dessert, Necessarily nonvegan)

This recipe happens to come from Alice Medrich’s low fat cookbook (Chocolate and the Art of Lowfat Desserts).  But to my taste it makes the perfect brownie: intense chocolate flavor and a little gooey in the middle but with a perfectly textured brownie top. Read the rest of this entry »

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Roasted rhubarb with vanilla and white wine

June 20, 2010 at 9:44 pm (breakfast, B_, Dessert, Fruit, Spring recipes, Website / blog)

I’m always looking for new recipe for rhubarb, and I came across this recipe for roasted rhubarb on the blog Orangette.  Actually, I’m not sure why she calls it roasted because the rhubarb is cooked in white wine and seems to stew more than roast.   Whatever you call it, the recipe is dead simple.  You just slice the rhubarb into long pieces, add the white wine,  some sugar and a vanilla bean, and bake for about 30 minutes. Read the rest of this entry »

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Oatmeal cookies with steel cut oats, coconut, and raisins

March 25, 2010 at 3:30 pm (B_minus, Cookies, Dessert, Website / blog)

I was trying to use up a container of very fine ground steel cut oats before Passover.  I thought it would be interesting to try to use the steel cut oats to make oatmeal cookies, but I couldn’t find many such recipes.  There are a few out there that call for a small portion of steel cut oats that are cooked before adding them to the cookie batter.  I was looking for a recipe that used a larger quantity of uncooked oats.  In the end I used a combination of these two recipes from the Anson Mills website:  oatmeal coconut cookies and oatmeal raisin cookies.  I didn’t have a full cup of coconut (and mine was unsweetened), so I added some raisins to compensate.

The cookies came out huge. They actually looked just like the cookies in the picture.  The texture was very light and fluffy, and the taste was oaty but not very sweet.  Derek said that they tasted more like scones than cookies.  Maybe, but the recipe called for way more sugar than a typical scone recipe.

I served these cookies to guests at our poker game.  I thought they tasted too healthy and no one would eat them, but all but two got eaten up.  I sent the last two home with a guest who had really enjoyed them.  Then the next day Derek asked where the cookies were.  I told him I’d given the last two away since he didn’t seem to like them, and he about-faced and claimed that he did indeed like them and was not at all pleased that I’d given the last cookies away!

Still, I don’t think I’d make these cookies again.  They were okay but they’re not healthy enough to be real food, and if I’m gonna eat a cookie it might as well be a marvelous one.

Rating: B-

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Pineapple upside down cake

February 24, 2010 at 11:47 pm (Cake, Derek's faves, Dessert, Mom’s recipes)

When I was a kid my mom used to make pineapple upside down cake quite frequently.  It was one of my brother’s favorite desserts, and he often asked for it for his birthday.  My mom made the cake in her cast iron pan, which fit exactly 6 pineapple rings around the circumference.  It was perfect, since we had 6 people in my family.  There was also one ring of pineapple in the center of the skillet–that ring always went to the birthday boy (or girl).  This recipe makes a short, fluffy cake with a hint of pineapple flavor.  But the cake is really just a carrier for  the real highlight–the caramelized pineapple rings and ooey-gooey butter/brown sugar mixture.  My mom made a vegan version of pineapple upside down cake, but below I’ve written up the non-vegan version.  Use your favorite egg and butter replacements to make it vegan. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sticky toffee pudding

February 6, 2010 at 11:46 pm (Dessert, Epicurious, Necessarily nonvegan, Pudding, unrated)

Derek has been raving about sticky toffee pudding for a little over a year now.  I finally got to try it when we went to Scotland last September.  I tried a number of different restaurant versions, and although I don’t know exactly what it’s supposed to taste like most of them seemed to miss the mark a little.  Derek wanted to try to make it at home, and I said fine–next time we have company.  Well, a few weeks ago, right before leaving for Spain, we ended up with 5 guests over for dinner.  The menu was mostly Italian (salad with roasted winter veggies and walnuts, white bean soup with fennel and rosemary, and cacio e pepe pasta).   But our dessert was Scottish.

Derek looked around online to try to find a recipe for the kind of moist sticky toffee pudding that he prefers, and ended up selecting a sticky date toffee pudding recipe that had excellent reviews on epicurious.com.  I printed out the recipe, but unfortunately didn’t read the reviews myself.  If I had, I would have been more prepared for what followed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nikki’s no-sugar, no-flour cookies

December 31, 2009 at 1:54 am (101 cookbooks, Cookies, Dessert, Grains, unrated)

I accidentally left my freezer open last night and everything in it defrosted.  I’m taking it as a higher power’s way of telling me it’s time to do some New Year’s cleaning.  I decided to start with a ziploc bag full of now uber-soggy bananas.  I was going to make banana bread when I came across the recipe for Nikki’s healthy cookies on the 101 cookbooks blog.  I’ve made vegan cookies with banana before (from the Rancho la Puerta cookbook I think) and they were terrible–fluffy and too-banana-y and not really anything like a cookie.  But the comments on Nikki’s recipe were almost universally positive, so I decided to give it a try. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cornmeal cookies

December 27, 2009 at 10:53 pm (Alice Medrich, B_minus, Cookies, Dessert, Necessarily nonvegan)

Derek wanted to make almond crescent cookies, but we didn’t have enough almonds, or his mom’s recipe.  We decided to try these delicate cornmeal cookies instead.  The recipe is from Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts by Alice Medrich.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Hot candied walnuts

December 13, 2009 at 7:44 pm (B plus, Derek's faves, Dessert, Ice cream & toppings, Other)

Many years ago Katrina and Dan shared some of these nuts with us.  Derek immediately fell in love.  The recipe is originally from the book party nuts! by Sally Sampson.  We’ll probably be trying out some more of her recipes shortly. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rhubarb compote

June 1, 2009 at 4:09 am (breakfast, Dessert, F, Fruit, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes)

We had a friend staying with us a while back who was raving about a very simple rhubarb dessert:  stew the rhubarb with a little sugar and water until it falls apart.  To serve, add to a small bowl and pour cold cream around it.  I liked the flavor combination of the sour rhubarb and sweet cream, but the texture was quite odd.  The rhubarb was kind of stringy and a little gelatinous.  Derek, ever couth, dubbed it “rhubarb snot.”  After that, I had trouble finishing the rest of my dish.

In Peter Berley’s cookbook Fresh Food Fast there is a recipe for rhubarb compote with maple syrup and crystallized ginger.  He says to simmer the rhubarb for 5 to 7 minutes until the rhubarb is tender, but not falling apart.  Since he says the rhubarb shouldn’t fall apart, I figured it was safe.  Derek tried to stop me, arguing that the texture was going to be just like the previous attempt, but I wanted to give it a try.  After five minutes, however, my rhubarb had again reached the “snot” stage.  What am I doing wrong?

Berley’s recipe calls for chunks of crystallized ginger.  The recipe doesn’t say so explicitly, but I thought the chunks were supposed to dissolve into the compote.  In 5 minutes, however, they had only softened.  The toothsome chunks seemed odd in the soft rhubarb stew.  Berley says to serve the compote with creme fraiche or sour cream.  I served mine with creme fraiche, and thought it was tasty, better even than the cream.  I’m not sure I could tast the maple syrup though, and unless I bit into a ginger cube I didn’t really taste the ginger.

Rating: D (Unless I figure out the snot thing)

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Passover apple rhubarb crisp

April 12, 2009 at 11:07 am (Cook's Illustrated, Crisps and cobblers, Dessert, My brain, Spring recipes, unrated)

This recipe is based on a generic crisp recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. I adapted it to make it kosher for passover, and to use the beautiful spring rhubarb. Read the rest of this entry »

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Passover apple nut cake

April 12, 2009 at 9:41 am (B_, Cake, Dessert, From a friend, Jewish)

A friend made this Passover apple nut cake many years ago, and I remember it being huge and fluffy and delicious.  I asked her for the recipe, but never got around to making it.  Finally, almost ten years later, I came across the recipe scribbled on a piece of paper, and decided to give it a try for Passover. Read the rest of this entry »

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Toffikomen

March 23, 2009 at 4:36 pm (A minus, Dessert, Jewish, Other, Website / blog)

I’ve been trying out recipes for Passover this month, and came across Marcy Goldman’s “Trademark, Most Requested, Absolutely Magnificent Matzoh Caramel Crunch“.  Given the title, it was hard to resist.  It was pretty easy to make, and came out well, except that the caramel ended up quite shiny and hard–more like a toffee than a caramel.  Hence, Derek dubbed the dish “Toffikomen”, a play on toffee and afikomen. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chocolate Stout Cake

February 28, 2009 at 4:51 pm (Cake, Dessert, Necessarily nonvegan, unrated, Website / blog)

My friends Kathy and Spoons made this chocolate stout cake a number of years ago at one of Spoon’s ten-course birthday extravaganzas.  It was such a perfect chocolate cake that it stuck in my memory all this time, and finally, last weekend, not quite five years later, I finally tried to make it myself.

I actually, for inexplicable reasons, ended up make 1.67 recipes, and it took a surprisingly long time.  Nothing was hard, but beating the batter took lots of time (and arm strength!).  Even once the batter is ready, this cake takes quite a while.  It takes 45 minutes to cook, 20 minutes to cool before glazing, then after you add the glaze the cake has to sit probably another hour at least so that the glaze sets and hardens slightly.

For the chocolate, I used a mixture of two brands.  About 2/3 was from a bar of dark baking chocolate I bought at the local biofrischmarkt.  The other 1/3 was a bar of unsweetened Scharffenberger chocolate.  For the glaze, I used about half Scharffenberger and the other half a cheap milk chocolate baking bar that we got at Rewe, the local German supermarket.  I don’t know the German word for “dutch processed” so I’m not sure whether or not I used the right kind of cocoa.  I disobeyed the instructions and used blackstrap molasses, but it wasn’t a particularly bitter brand.

I served the cake at a party and it was a big hit.  One friend said “This is the best chocolate cake I’ve had in a long, long time.”  I thought that the cake was tasty, but it wasn’t quite as good as I remembered it.  It was slightly less moist than I would have liked, even thought I cooked it for the lesser amount of time.  My oven isn’t very precise, however, so maybe the temperature was too hot.  Besides being slightly too dry, the texture was excellent, and the flavor was pretty good, but I could barely detect the beer.  The batter tasted super sweet, but the cake tasted like a not too sweet chocolate cake.  Without the glaze, it actually would have been not quite sweet enough, most people said.  Nonetheless, if I make it again I’m going to try using all unsweetened chocolate for the bar chocolate in the cake.  The glaze in particular was excellent, although I thought that the recipe made slightly too much glaze.  Unlike in the fine cooking photo, my glaze covered every square inch of cake.  Next time I’m going to cut the glaze recipe to 4 ounces of chocolate and 1/2 cup of cream.  For the second cake, I was out of sharffenberger, so I used only the Rewe milk baking chocolate, and the glaze was sickly sweet.

When I was making the glaze, I was really tempted to add a tsp. of minced jalepenos, or a little stout, or some crystallized ginger, or black pepper…. something to jazz it up a bit.  I didn’t have the nerve to experiment on so many people, but next time I’m going to be more adventurous.  If anyone else has ideas for interesting ways to jazz up the glaze, post a comment.

This recipe makes a big cake.  I forgot to count but it probably serves at least 12 people.

Update June 2011:  I made this cake to bring to a birthday party and for some reason the texture came out really strange.  The crumb was extremely fine.  Ahra said it reminded her of a cake made from rice flour.  I have no idea what caused the problem, but I didn’t care for it.  Maybe it was some difference between American and German ingredients?  Or maybe the cocoa I bought wasn’t the right kind?  (I had trouble finding a non-dutched cocoa powder and the one I ended up with said it was “lowfat.”  I thought all cocoa was lowfat (compared to chocolate), but maybe it was somehow even more lowfat than normal.

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Two Ginger Muffins

September 15, 2008 at 7:21 am (B plus, breakfast, Dessert, Isa C. Moskowitz, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe)

Although these muffins have a bit of bran in them, I wouldn’t classify them as bran muffins. Ginger is definitely the predominant flavor.  This recipe is based on a recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance (but it’s been un-veganified):

  • 1.5 cups white flour
  • 1 cup wheat bran (not packed)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 carrot, grated
  • 1 small apple, cored (but not peeled), diced finely
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Add aluminum muffin papers to a 12-muffin tin.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, bran, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, spices and salt.   Grate the carrot and chop the apple, and mix them in to the dry ingredients.  Make a well in the center of the ingredients and add the liquid ingredients.  Stir the liquid ingredients together, then gently mix the liquid and dry ingredients together.  Do not overmix.  Fold in the crystallized ginger.
  3. Fill the muffin tins and bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the tops are lightly browned.

Derek really liked these muffins, especially the crystallized ginger.  I thought the flavor was good but I would have liked a bit more bran/molasses flavor, and a slightly heavier muffin–something a bit closer to gingerbread perhaps. The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of raisins, soaked, and folded in at the end with the ginger, but I subbed in carrot and apple since I didn’t have any raisins.  Soy milk can be used instead of the buttermilk.  As written, each muffin has about 170 calories.

Next time I make this I’m going to try subbing in 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, and I’ll substitute brown sugar for the white sugar (since I haven’t found molasses yet–otherwise I would add 3 Tbs. molassess). I also might try replacing the baking powder with another 1.5 tsp. baking soda (since I’m using an acidic liquid).   If that works, I’d like to try using a full 1.5 cups wheat bran, to add body. I’m not sure exactly how much buttermilk would be needed to counteract the extra bran.  Maybe another 2 Tbs?  Or I might try using yogurt and an egg, maybe 1 egg and 1 3/4 to 2 cups lowfat yogurt?  Another change I’d like to try is adding in some fresh ginger for even more bite, and transforming these into three ginger muffins.

Update Dec 2010:  I made these again exactly as written above, and again Derek really liked them.

Update October 11, 2009: I made these again, changing the recipe up a bit.  I used some whole wheat flour, added more bran, and fresh ginger.  I increased the baking soda and decreased the powder.  They’re now three ginger muffins.

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup wheat bran (packed)
  • 1.5 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 carrot, grated (about 1 cup not packed)
  • 1 small apple, cored (but not peeled), diced finely (I left this out)
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Add aluminum muffin papers to a 12-muffin tin.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, bran, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, spices and salt.   Grate the carrot and chop the apple, and mix them in to the dry ingredients.  In a small bowl mix together the liquid ingredients and the fresh ginger.  Gently mix the liquid and dry ingredients together.  Do not over-mix.  Fold in the crystallized ginger.
  3. Fill the muffin tins and bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the tops are lightly browned. (Mine were done after 15 minutes, with the fan in my oven on!)

I liked these muffins.  They definitely taste like ginger.  The extra bran and the whole wheat flour give them a more substantial texture than the first batch–more muffiny, less cupcake-y.  Still, they weren’t dry at all.  I quite liked them.  I think they could have taken in even more grated carrot.  Derek, however, thought they had too much bran, and were too gritty.  He said the bran mutes the ginger flavor.  This recipe made 12 small muffins.  The muffins are 39% fat, 52% carbs, and 9% protein.  Rating: B+. Derek rating: B-.

Nutrition Facts
Ginger Bran Muffins ~ VwV
Serving Size: 1 muffin
Amount Per Serving
Calories 143
Total Fat 6.6g
Saturated Fat 1g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 1mg
Sodium 294mg
Carbohydrate 19.8g
Dietary Fiber 3g
Sugars 5.2g
Protein 3.4g
Vitamin A 31% Vitamin C 2%
Calcium    7% Iron 7%

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