February 12, 2011 § 8 Comments
Our freezer is full. Not just a little bit full, not just completely full, but is finally at that point where no matter how hard you push, and no matter how logically you reorganize, there is simply no physical space for that one last thing to fit. I’m not a huge freezer girl, but this is starting to cramp my style.
Part of the problem is that I seem to enjoy filling the freezer with awkwardly shaped objects and then leaving them there for several months. Last time I tried to shove one tiny tupperware into the freezer, a whole bunch of stuff fell out (bouncing wildly across the kitchen floor), and behind all of the clutter were those bananas I forgot about! And that is why we have no freezer space. So I had to use the bananas immediately.
I was looking for a recipe that would give me fluffy, cakelike cupcakes, and I completely missed the mark. These cupcakes are dense, moist and banana bread-y. Luckily that’s pretty delicious too. The cupcakes were cute and tasty, but the best variation was when I microwaved the ganache and poured the warm chocolate all over the extra little cake I made with leftover batter. If you don’t need to transport your dessert, definitely do it this way – just unwrap the cupcakes first to avoid accidentally eating the paper in your haste to devour the chocolate. Not that I would ever do that.
Banana Bread Cupcakes with Ganache – adapted from Martha Stewart
If you can serve this warm, you should seriously consider remelting the ganache and pouring it on top – it’s crazy good.
Yield: 12-14 cupcakes
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 ripe bananas)
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 oz good-quality milk chocolate
2 oz dark chocolate
2.5 oz heavy cream, gently warmed
2.5 tablespoons butter, warm room temperature
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture. In well, mix together butter, mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla. Stir to incorporate flour mixture (do not overmix). Dividing evenly, spoon batter into muffin cups.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely on a wire rack.
For ganache, gently melt chocolate in microwave or on top of double boiler. Add cream and stir until smooth. Let sit until no longer warm, about 15 minutes. Gently whisk in butter, without stirring too vigorously so as to avoid forming air bubbles. Use immediately or wait for it to thicken over the next hour, depending on the consistency you want to work with.
November 7, 2010 § 23 Comments
It seems like every baker has that one perfect recipe for chocolate chip cookies, that they’re so confident in that they need never try another. I’m not generally capable of doing that, since I have a neurotic need to test a bazillion recipes – what if the next one is better? The world could end without me tasting the best possible cookie! When it comes to brownies, however, I have my winner. I guess that someone as serious about chocolate as I am would have to have identified its most perfect vehicle.
This recipe hits all my brownie requirements: dense and fudgy, but not because the batter is underbaked and gooey. They’re intensely chocolatey, so although I don’t actually expect other people to throw away money on fancy chocolate, it should be at least decent quality. The recipe also insists that you let them sit overnight before cutting into them. This is indeed tasty, but honestly who has the willpower? I promise they’re still incredible the day you bake them and absolve you of any guilt over premature brownie-eating.
So here are my favourite brownies: not compared against all other possible recipes, because once I found them, I made them exactly again and again. I’m not saying I’ll never try another recipe, but I haven’t yet.
Supernatural Brownies – adapted from Chocolate: From Simple Cookies to Extravagant Showstoppers
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, plus more for buttering pan
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I use around 65-70%)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, such as muscovado
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flour
Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking pan and line with buttered parchment paper or foil. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Gently melt butter and chocolate together in microwave, or on top of double boiler. Cool slightly. In a large bowl or mixer, whisk eggs. Whisk in salt, sugars and vanilla.
Whisk in melted chocolate mixture. Fold in flour just until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until shiny and beginning to crack on top. Cool in pan on rack. If you can stand the wait, cover the cooled brownies tightly with foil and store at room temperature overnight before cutting.
August 8, 2010 § 4 Comments
I’ve been away from this little blog for so long! And although I’m not sure anyone else out there has noticed, I’ve missed it. First I was away in San Antonio, eating gargantuan plates heaped with cheese and sour cream and salsa, and oh my things there are a bit more spicy than I’m used to. Then I was away at my dad’s cottage, in near isolation from the outside world. That was lovely. And once I recovered from the Texas food coma (this took several days) I was ready to bake again! But baking in a cottage environment is no easy task, although of course I unwisely attempted it.
The main problem is that the kitchen isn’t stocked for baking, because I use it one week a year, and even I am not quite crazy enough to buy a set of cake pans and spices for that amount of time (I almost cracked and bought a muffin tin, but restrained myself in time!). Instead I had to look around and make do with what we had, which luckily for me, was incredible, tiny wild blueberries, which were some of the prettiest fruit I’ve seen. They were so fresh and flavourful it seemed like a waste to bake with them – who would appreciate their delicacy once they were mushy inside a muffin? Instead I made the simplest dessert ever: chocolate covered blueberries. They’re ugly but delicious, the chocolate crackles and the blueberries burst and together they’re a perfect combination. They were so popular with the family that my ever-mature father took to calling it ‘blueberry poop’ in the hopes of dissuading the rest of us from eating them. Sadly for him, this brilliant tactic did not work.
Chocolate Blueberry Clusters
If you’re going to be serious about this, you should temper the chocolate, but that would defeat the whole simplicity point and I really couldn’t be bothered. Instead, just store them in the fridge.
1/2 cup wild blueberries
80 grams good-quality dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70%)
Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Melt chocolate very gently in the microwave. Stir in blueberries. With a spoon, scoop out clusters of blueberries onto prepared sheet. Refrigerate until set. Transfer to airtight container and store in refrigerator (unless you tempered the chocolate). Keeps for 2-3 days, but probably no more since the fruit is fresh.
March 10, 2010 § 3 Comments
My roommates and I finally decided to man up and clean out the fridge. It has gone from overflowing with unidentified substances, to neatly organized and mildly OCD. We actually have our own shelves now! My roommates’ shelves have sensible items like produce and condiments, whereas mine is pretty much restricted to things containing the word ‘cream’ (heavy cream, sour cream, cream cheese….). My shelf clearly wins.
Having cream cheese on hand is especially important if you like to whip up birthday treats for people at the last second. Although deliciousness is always my main priority, portability is also an issue. These cupcakes are perfect: a moist, chocolatey cupcake is stuffed with a rich cream cheese filling, studded with dark chocolate chunks. No frosting needed! They can be stacked, toppled, and they still arrive in pretty decent shape. Also, they’re very very yummy, and always well received. An extra cupcake went to my roommate, who reported: “The texture is perfectly fluffy and omg there are chocolate-y bits in there! However, one major issue with this cupcake is that there’s only one of it here, or was.” Luckily the recipe makes twelve, so you can avoid this problem for approximately one day.
Black-Bottom Cupcakes – from The Great Book of Chocolate
Yield: 12 cupcakes
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used bittersweet chips)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 5 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup water
- 1/3 cup unflavored vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the filling: Beat together the cream cheese, granulated sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in the chopped chocolate pieces. Set aside.
Make the cupcakes:
Preheat to 350°F. Butter a 12-cup muffin tin, or line the tin with paper muffin cups.
In a medium bowl sift together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients, stirring until just smooth. Stir any longer and you will over mix the batter and end up with less-than-tender cupcakes.
Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Spoon a few tablespoons of the filling into the center of each cupcake, dividing the filling evenly. This will fill the cups almost completely, which is fine. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown and the cupcakes feel springy when gently pressed. These moist treats will keep well unrefrigerated for 2 to 3 days if stored in an airtight container.