Superhero muffins

January 5, 2022 at 8:03 pm (breakfast, Monthly menu plan, Muffins and quick breads, Website / blog) ()

I still don’t have a non-dessert muffin recipe I love. I really want something I can freeze and pull out for a quick breakfast on busy mornings. Someone in one of my online parenting groups recommended some “superhero muffins” from a cookbook for runners, and I thought they looked worth a try. I’ve now tried the originals superhero muffin recipe, the chocolate banana superhero muffins, and the vegan red velvet (beet chocolate) muffins. I liked all of them and would make all of them again. There are over 20 more variations to try. Maybe I should buy the cookbook!

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No-bake sesame chocolate squares

September 30, 2021 at 9:48 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Brownies and bars, Granola & energy bars, Website / blog)

In one of my parenting groups someone was raving about these no-bake chocolate sesame squares from the book Sugarproof. I love sesame in desserts, and I love chocolate, so I had to try them.

The recipe is pretty simple, you just dump 8 oz of pitted dates in a food processor along with 3/4 cup sesame seeds, 1/3 cup tahini, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, 2 Tbs. water, and a pinch of salt. You pulse it all until the mixture starts to pull away from the sides of the food processor and collect towards the center. My mixture didn’t pull away, even after quite a while. I had to add quite a bit more water to get it to congeal into a solid mass. But other than that the bars came out well. They remind me a lot of Lara bars, just sesame flavored. I’ve tried to make “halvah balls” before without so much success. These had a better texture, if less halvah-esque.

I gave one bar to Alma in her school snack and she told me it was very good. I’m going to freeze the rest and bring them out occasionally when we are in the mood for something sweet and chocolatey.

Also, one more note. A full 8oz of dates is a lot! I guess if you don’t use refined sweeteners you need a lot of dates to make it taste sweet like a dessert.

Update Jan 18, 2022: We finally finished the whole batch of frozen bars. Although Alma said they were very good on her first try, she never liked them after that. Oh well. I still really like them, especially when they have been sitting out for a while. Cold from the freezer they aren’t as gooey and chocolatey. I will definitely make these again for myself!

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Delicate, delicious, gluten-free, low-sugar muffins

September 19, 2021 at 10:45 pm (breakfast, B_(2.5 stars, like), Muffins and quick breads, Other) ()

This is the second recipe I’ve tried from “Whole Food Cooking Every Day: Transform the way you eat with 250 vegetarian recipes free of gluten, dairy, and refined sugar” by Amy Chaplin. I’m always looking for muffin recipes that don’t just feel like (a) more wheat in our lives, and (b) dessert in disguise. Chaplin has three base muffin recipes in her book—a vegan gluten-free recipe, a gluten-free recipe with eggs, and a grain-free recipe. Then she has a bunch of flavor variations that you can combine with any of the base recipes. I made the gluten-free recipe with eggs as my base, and tried two different flavor combinations: spiced seeded winter squash muffins and zucchini, lemon, and walnut muffins. Read the rest of this entry »

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Double chocolate peanut butter cookies

December 25, 2020 at 11:25 pm (Cookies, Derek's faves, Website / blog)

Over our winter break this year we decided to bake cookies. We decided that each of us would get to pick out which kind of cookies we wanted to make. Derek chose almond crescent cookies, and Alma chose double chocolate peanut butter cookies. We’ve made a vegan version in the past, but Derek wasn’t so excited about them, so he picked this Food 52 recipe to try instead.

The recipe is pretty easy, as it has you melt the butter and the peanut butter together in a pan, making it easy to incorporate the peanut butter into the batter. Other than that step it’s basically a one-bowl recipe.

It calls for black cocoa powder, but I couldn’t find it so I just used our regular dutched cocoa powder. The amount of sugar seemed quite high, presumably to compensate for the bitterness of the black cocoa powder. I cut it down a bit by not filling the 1/2 cup measuring cup with sugar all the way, but I didn’t measure that carefully. Maybe I used 80% of the sugar? When I went to add the chocolate chips, 8 ounces seemed like a huge amount. I still import my chocolate chips from the U.S., and I didn’t want to use up so many, so I cut it down slightly to 6 ounces.

The recipe says to use a 1.5 ounce scoop, and I used my large scoop, which is labeled 2.5 Tbs. I think. The technique is slightly odd. After you bake the cookies you are supposed to drop the pan onto the counter a few times to flatten them. But I guess it worked because the cookies came out well. Alma flattened her batch before putting them in the oven and they were dryer and not as good.

In general, I didn’t love the texture of these cookies. They had a slight stick-to-your-teeth quality. And they were definitely too sweet for me. Next time I’d try cutting the sugar further, maybe 2/3 of the original amount, and leaving the chocolate chips at 3/4 of the original amount.

Derek said they were absolutely great (probably because they are quite salty), and Alma said they were good not great.

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One bowl, flourless peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

October 1, 2020 at 6:28 pm (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Cookies, Website / blog)

Alma’s preschool was closed today, and she asked if we could make peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. We had made some a few months ago, but I forgot to write down what recipe we used. I think it was this one from the Ambitious Kitchen blog, but I’m not sure. But we tried it today and this time I’m going to blog it before I forget whether we liked it!

Ingredients
  • 240g / 1 cup natural creamy peanut butter (just peanuts + salt)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar + 1/2 Tbs. molasses (original recipe called for 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large eggs (German large eggs, about 50g each without the shell, original recipe called for 2 large eggs)
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (original recipe called for 2/3 cup)
  • Flakey sea salt for sprinkling on top
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes and remove when edges barely begin to turn a golden brown. The cookies may look a little underdone, but they will continue to cook once you remove them from the oven.
  3. Cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Sprinkle each cookie with flakey sea salt.

My notes:

The original recipe has you use two bowls, but I just made it in one.

A few of the cookies in the corners ended up too brown, despite me rotating the pan halfway through the cooking time. And I think I cooked the cookies a tad too long. I cooked them for 9 minutes I think, opening the oven halfway to rotate them. The original recipe said 9 to 12 minutes, but my cookies were a bit smaller, and I think 8 minutes would have been sufficient, especially since I forgot and left the fan on in the oven.

The original recipe calls for more sugar and chocolate chips, but the author commented that she has used 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup chocolate chips and they turned out great. So I decided to try that.

The cookies are good, but definitely not as sweet or rich-tasting as typical American peanut butter cookies. Alma seemed happy. I don’t love the texture the rolled oats add. Maybe next time I will grind up the oats? And I wish the cookies were slightly moister, but maybe that’s just because I cooked them too long. Derek said that the cookies weren’t rich enough for his taste. He thought they needed butter. But I think he didn’t add any salt to his, and he prefers his cookies salty. Next time I think I will add the salt to the cookies before they go in the oven.

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Zucchini flaxseed muffins

September 8, 2020 at 10:06 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Monthly menu plan, Muffins and quick breads, Website / blog)

Although these muffins are called zucchini flaxseed muffins I think they are more flaxseed, walnut, oat muffins with a touch of zucchini and carrot. The muffins are pretty tasty and filling, and make a reasonable quick breakfast. I keep them in the freezer for mornings when we’re in a big rush.

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Best ever chocolate pudding

April 29, 2020 at 10:28 pm (Dessert, Pudding, unrated, Website / blog)

Way back in 2013 my friend Nev sent me this chocolate pudding recipe from A Cup of Jo and indeed it was great. I think I made it twice then promptly forgot about it. But then this week a Smitten Kitchen ad for Best Chocolate Pudding popped up on Facebook and made me want to try it.

So Alma and I made it together last week. She said it was not quite as good as the chocolate pudding they serve at preschool. I thought it was much, much too sweet. And oddly, even though I used 85% chocolate my pudding was quite light in color, nothing like the dark brown color on the photos on the website. Strange. In any case, I wasn’t very impressed and next time I want to make pudding I’m going to return to the Cup of Jo recipe. Here’s the difference in ingredients, in case you’re curious. Basically the SK recipe doubles the cornstarch and omits the egg, uses more sugar and less salt, and twice the amount of chocolate (but no cocoa powder).

A Cup of Jo Recipe Smitten Kitchen Recipe
3 cups (710 ml) whole milk 3 cups (710 ml) whole milk
1/3 cup (75 grams) granulated sugar 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch 1/4 cup (30 grams) cornstarch
2 large egg yolks
1/4 tsp. salt 1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
3 oz. (85 grams) dark or semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped 6 ounces (170 grams) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. vanilla extract 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract

 

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Peanut butter oat chocolate chip cookies

December 25, 2019 at 9:27 pm (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Cookies, Website / blog)

When my Mom was visiting this summer she made these vegan cookies with Alma. I thought they were pretty tasty. We had her take them out of the oven when they were still soft, and they had a nice soft peanut butter consistency. Yum. We put the leftovers in the freezer and enjoyed them for about a month after my Mom went back home.

So when Alma and I decided to bake cookies today (a nice Christmas Day activity), I immediately thought of these cookies. Derek wanted to make almond crescent cookies, but those are so much work, and it was already 4pm. I wanted to do something quick and easy. So we decided to make a small batch of these cookies today and then make almond crescent cookies tomorrow when we have more time and energy.

Here is the recipe as my Mom wrote it down.

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F (177 C).

In a medium bowl mix well:

  • 1/2 cup (129g) peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup (3.79 oz) maple syrup
  • 2 Tbs. warm soymilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Then mix together the dry ingredients in a small bowl:

  • 3/4 cup (93.75g) flour
  • 3/4 cup (60.75g) rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 tsp. salt (I used 1/2 tsp.)
  • 1/3 cup (60g) chocolate chips

Add the dry ingredients to the large bowl with the wet ingredients and fold them together until just mixed.

Make small cookies on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes then enjoy.

My notes:

I checked our cookies at 11 minutes and they looked raw. Also, they hadn’t flattened at all. They were still almost perfect balls. Weird. We cooked them for another 2 minutes, but I think that was a mistake, as the cookies ended up quite dry. I think since they were quite small I should have taken them out at 11 minutes, and maybe also added a tad more liquid to the recipe, maybe 1 egg would be good?

Here’s a similar recipe (in terms of ingredients) that I might try next time, but it calls for more milk, an egg, peanuts, baking powder instead of soda, and less flour, less peanut butter, and less maple syrup: https://www.natalieshealth.com/peanut-butter-oatmeal-cookies/.

After searching around briefly on the internet, I think the source for this recipe is this Vegan Richa cookie recipe. It says on the website that it makes 12 cookies, but I think we made maybe 24? Maybe even more. We made quite small cookies. She says to use a 1.5 Tbs. cookie scoop and I think ours was maybe 3/4 of a Tbs. We did fit them all on one large cookie sheet. She also says to flatten the balls down before baking, which I didn’t do. Vegan Richa says to bake for 15 minutes, and 14 minutes for softer cookies. But I guess since my Mom was making smaller cookies she reduced the cooking time to 12-14 minutes.

Vegan Richa says to use a mix of white and whole wheat flour, but I used all white because that’s what my Mom’s version called for.

 

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Gooey bittersweet brownies

January 7, 2016 at 9:14 pm (Alice Medrich, Brownies and bars, B_minus (2 stars, okay), 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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Pumpkin chia pudding

November 6, 2015 at 11:13 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Dessert, Monthly menu plan, Pudding, Website / blog) ()

Alma really likes my Mom’s almond chia pudding, so I started looking for 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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Simple almond chia pudding

September 27, 2015 at 11:55 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Mom’s recipes, Monthly menu plan, Pudding) ()

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.

Almond chia pudding

Alma really likes plain almond chia pudding. I’m using a slight variant of my Mom’s recipe (with a bit more chia seeds). In a 2 cup glass jar mix together:

  • 1.5 cups almond milk
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 3/4 tsp. date syrup
  • 3/8 tsp. almond extract

Stir well so the chia seeds don’t clump up. Let sit for at least an hour, so the chia seeds have time to hydrate. Refrigerate if you’re not eating it immediately.

This is not really enough chia pudding for all of us to have for breakfast. If I serve this for breakfast (usually with berries), then Alma can eat at least 2/3 of it all by herself! I might also try making something else to go with it — gyro tempeh or scrambled tofu perhaps?

Still, I think next time I’m going to try using a larger jar and making a bit more:

  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 1 tsp. date syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract

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Chocolate teff banana bread

December 15, 2014 at 11:58 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Dessert, Muffins and quick breads, 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 (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Muffins and quick breads, Summer recipes, 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_minus (2 stars, okay), 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 (4 stars, love), 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.

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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 (3 stars, like a lot), 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 (C (1 star, edible), 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_minus (2 stars, okay), 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 (Alma's faves, B_minus (2 stars, okay), 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 (4 stars, love), 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, C (1 star, edible), 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_minus (2 stars, okay), 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 (4 stars, love), Alice Medrich, Alma's faves, Brownies and bars, Cook's Illustrated, Derek's faves, Dessert, Necessarily nonvegan, Yearly menu plan)

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_minus (2 stars, okay), 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 (C (1 star, edible), 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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