Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Since I will be a "guest" when I go home to Boston, I am not required to cook! I am officially on vacation! ha. But I think I will be required to produce at least one dessert. So for this, I think I shall make my Cranberry Walnut Upside-down Cake.

I made it once last week. It looks festive and fancy, but it's actually really simple to make.

Cranberry Walnut Upside Downer

1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon (and a dash of pumpkin spice)
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup minus 2 TBSP sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans…I used walnuts
2 cups cranberries-fresh or frozen(if frozen, do not thaw)I used fresh
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 whole milk
1/3 cup red currant jelly, for glazing the cake(I used raspberry jelly and it tasted good)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 8X2 inch round cake pan.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

Melt 6 TBSP of the butter in a small saucepan. Sprinkle in 6 TBSP of the sugar and cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil. Pour this evenly over the bottom of the cake pan, then scatter over the nuts and top with the cranberries, smoothing the layer and pressing it down gently with your fingertips. Set aside.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the remaining stick of butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and continue to beat until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Pour in the vanilla.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half of the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Mix in the milk, then the rest of the dry ingredients. Spoon the batter over the cranberries and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the cake is golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove it from the oven and run a blunt knife between the sides of the pan and the cake. Carefully turn the cake out onto a serving platter. If any of the berries stick to the pan-as they might-just scrape them off with a table knife and return them to the cake.

Warm the jelly in the microwave and gently brush over the cake.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Something new, something old

Something new:

Peanut butter filled chocolate cookies

1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup dutch cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 large egg
1/2 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda in a medium bowl.
Beat butter, sugars and peanut butter until well combined. Add egg, milk and vanilla. Beat well. Gently mix in the flour mixture about 1/3 at a time until incorpora
ted. Form the chocolate dough into balls.

Peanut Butter Filling
1/4 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 Tbs granulated sugar
Combine confectioners' sugar and peanut butter in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth.

Flatten each chocolate ball on the palm of your hand. Top it with a small round spoon of peanut butter. Carefully fold the dough sides over the peanut butter and pinch to seal. Roll into a ball and flatten on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake cookies in preheated 350 degree oven for about 8 minutes, until the surface begins to crack slightly. Allow 2-3 minutes before gently removing them to cool completely on a wire rack.

Something old:

Good ol' Snickerdoodles (Mrs. Sigg's Snickerdoodles)

The poofier cookies on the right were baked on a darker baking sheet. The flatter ones were done on a lighter-colored sheet.

(makes about 30 cookies. )

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar (* I didn't have any on hand, so I just omitted it. Cookies turned out fine.)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. Cream together butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, the eggs and the vanilla. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.
  3. Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Wet paint

Maki rolls on blue abstract. Acrylic paint on paper.

A freshly baked cupcake straight from my easel

I'm giving the old oven a break. After it burned a batch of muffins, it's in time out. (I am also out of flour.) So instead of baking, I just sketched this cupcake from a photograph. Looks like it'd taste pretty good, no?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Biscotti Toscani

A little snack to get me through the day tomorrow....
(Ignore the runty looking slices in the middle of the photo. Those were the butts of the biscotti logs.)

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I omitted these and subbed in Crasins)
  • 1/2 cup toasted almond pieces (X'ed out too)
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a large baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, vanilla, almond extract, and zest. Combine flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. Stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Mix in almonds. Divide dough into two pieces. Form into long flat loaves about 1/2 inch tall and 12 inches long. Place the loaves 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until a light golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
  4. With a serrated knife, cut diagonally into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Lay the slices flat on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, turning over once. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  5. Place chocolate chips into a small, microwave-safe bowl. Melt chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 20 to 30 seconds until smooth. Use a spatula to spread chocolate onto one side of each cookie. Let stand at room temperature until set. Store biscotti at room temperature in an airtight container.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

An excuse to make cupcakes (and crack)

5 lbs.
That's the result of dating my boyfriend for 5 months now. Good food, bottles of wine, and a partner in crime who will indulge in ice cream and sweets with you daily will do that to you. That's 1 lb. per month. At the rate I'm going, I might need a new wardrobe every few months!

Therefore, I'm in detox. Two weeks of no drinking or eating baked goods.

But I have an itch to bake. It's quite a predicament...I want to bake gooey, chocolately, buttery cookies, tender-crumbed cupcakes and rich creamy pies, but what's the point? I can't enjoy these devilish treats since I'm in detox.

When my friend Wendy invited me to her block party, my ears perked up. Party = party food. Party food includes sweet treats. Sweet treats = baked goods.... Idea! Pawn off food to others. This gives me an excuse to bake those cupcakes I've always wanted to try!

I made Billy's vanilla, vanilla cupcakes from They are terrific! The cupcakes have a perfectly domed top and the texture is both light and rich at the same time. (And the raw batter is the best I've ever licked!)

I definitely recommend using Billy's buttercream frosting recipe with them too. It's a fluffy frosting that's not overly stiff. My butter was a bit too soft and my kitchen was warm, so my frosting was lacking a bit of its stiffness, but once I popped it into the fridge for a bit, it was A-ok. I used a 1 1/2 Tbs. cookie scoop to plop on a dollop of frosting on each cupcake and used a offset spatula to swirl the frosting around.

And just for good measure, I made some Crack Rock too. (Aka. The toffee bark in the top photo.)

Here's the recipe:

1 sleeve of saltine crackers
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups of chocolate chips
couple handfuls of chopped walnuts (or nut of your choice)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  1. Arrange saltine crackers on an edged cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the butter and brown sugar to a boil. Boil for 5 min or so
  3. Pour sugar mixture over the saltines.
  4. Bake for 5 min, remove from oven.
  5. Sprinkle on the choc. chips and let sit until chocolate melts.
  6. Spread chocolate evenly over toffee layer. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.