Pumpkin Spice Scones

pumpkin-scones2

My longtime blog readers (hi Mum and Dad!) will know that pumpkin is the official flavor of October in our house, meaning that I’ll find some way to add the squash of the gods to most – if not all – of my recipes this month. While I got a bit of a late start on my baking this fall (seriously, where has October gone?!), I’m still determined to squeeze at least a couple of pumpkin treats into the mix before turning yet another page on the calendar.

First on the agenda: Pumpkin Spice Scones.

Given that its probably destined for legend status in our family, this recipe deserves a bit of a backstory. My mum – a great lover of scones – has been searching for the perfect pumpkin scone for years (possibly decades). Perfection is, of course, entirely subjective, and she gets that, but she actually had only one relatively simple requirement: she wanted her pumpkin scone to taste like pumpkin. Easy, right? Not so much. Every place she tried – from Starbucks to Trader Joe’s, and every trendy-but-not-nailing-it bakery in between – kept serving up orange-hued scones containing pumpkin pie spice but NO PUMPKIN TASTE. She even tried recipes recommended by family and friends – including those that, thank goodness, contained actual pumpkin – but something was missing. She was getting discouraged, and starting to lose hope (at least about scones). So when my parents came to visit late last month, I was determined to crack the case for my mum and send her home with the best pumpkin scone recipe of.all.time.

I scoured the Internet, as I so often do, for help in this endeavor. Recipes for scones “just like Starbucks!” popped up left and right (no thank you!), and it took me a while to weed through recipes that made no such claim yet still used the same ingredients. I finally stumbled across the winner – and what a winner it was! – from Once Upon a Chef. Mum, meet pumpkin scone perfection!

We’re convinced that a few things about this recipe really make the pumpkin taste stand out, including the use of dark brown sugar (instead of white) and the addition of molasses. Both impart a stronger flavor, which helped these rise (no pun intended) to a different level. We also loved the no holds barred approach to the spices, particularly the cloves. These were, hands down, the best scones we’d ever baked.

Just when we thought they couldn’t get better, along came the glaze. We couldn’t decide between a simple sugar glaze – made using confectioner’s sugar and cream – and a spiced pumpkin version, so … we made both. That’s right – the best scones ever, dipped in two A-M-A-Z-I-N-G glazes (recipes courtesy of Inspired Taste). They were gone in a matter of hours, and I’ve been craving them ever since. The Month of Pumpkin, off to a truly delicious start. Enjoy in moderation!

 

{Better than Starbucks!} PUMPKIN SPICE SCONES

Yields: 12 scones

For the scones:

  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin 
  • 1 large fresh egg
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter

For the sugar glaze:

  • 1 cup (125 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons half and half or cream

For the spiced glaze:

  • 1 cup (125 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin puree
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons half and half or cream
  1.  Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup pumpkin, egg, heavy cream, molasses and vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, combine the flour, dark brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Process for 20 seconds to combine be (sure no lumps of brown sugar remain).
  4. Cut the cold butter into 1/2-inch chunks. Add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal — it should look unevenly crumbly with some pea-size chunks of butter within. Add the pumpkin mixture and pulse just until the mixture comes together. The dough will be very sticky, and you should still be able to see some pea-size clumps of butter.
  5. Lightly flour a clean countertop or work surface. Dump the sticky scone dough onto the floured surface and dust the top lightly with more flour. Using your hands, gently knead the dough until it comes together into a smooth ball. Divide the dough in half. Dust your work surface with flour again and form each half into a 5-inch circle, about 3/4-inch thick. Using a sharp knife dusted with flour, slice each circle into 6 even wedges (cut each circle in half, then cut each half into thirds). If the dough starts to stick to the knife, dust the knife with more flour. Place the wedges on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake the scones for 12-15 minutes. To see if they are done, peek at the bottoms; they should be slightly browned but not burnt. Let the scones cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Meanwhile, make the glaze(s).
    1. For the sugar glaze, add the confectioner’s sugar to a medium bowl, then add one tablespoon of half and half. Stir, then judge the consistency (the glaze should slowly drizzle from the spoon). If it’s too thick, add a little more half and half (a little goes a long way). If it’s too thin, add a little more confectioner’s sugar. Dip each cooled scone directly into the glaze, then place glaze-side up onto the cooling rack.
    2. For the spiced glaze, combine the confectioner’s sugar, pumpkin puree and spices. Add one tablespoon of half and half, stir, and check consistency (adjust in the same way as you would the sugar glaze). Use a spoon to drizzle a zigzag pattern across each scone. Wait 15 minutes or until the glaze has set, then enjoy!

 

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Chai Spice Snickerdoodles

chai-spice-snickerdoodles

I start each and every morning with an ice cold chai latte – and would like to end each and every evening with a freshly baked snickerdoodle – so the marriage of these two favorites sounded absolutely heavenly when I stumbled across this intriguing recipe on Taste of Home last month. The reality far exceeded even my expectations; the addition of ginger and green cardamom – two mainstays of traditional masala chai – took the beloved cookie of my childhood to a whole new level of awesome. These are fan-freaking-tastic slightly warm, so there’s no reason to hold off diving in until they’re completely cool. Enjoy in moderation!

 

CHAI SPICE SNICKERDOODLES

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 large fresh eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  1.  In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and allspice. Remove 1/2 cup sugar mixture to a shallow bowl; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and remaining sugar mixture until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Cover dough and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C. Shape chilled dough into 1 1/2-inch balls; roll in reserved sugar mixture. Place 2 in. apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets and bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

Honey Mustard Chicken, Bacon + Avocado Salad

hcba-salad-copy

I can’t believe I’ve reached the last few weeks of summer and posted only posted TWO recipes to this blog. Bad food blogger, bad!

Perhaps I should give myself a bit of lee-way; it’s been a busy and at times difficult summer. Between a stressful job, a house full of much-loved guests, and a spouse with multiple broken bones from a sports injury, there hasn’t been much time to sit down and breathe, let alone focus on blogging (or much of anything else). Only after quitting my job, bidding fond farewell to our wonderful guests, and putting my hubs on the road to recovery has life finally slowed down to an easier pace. Halle-freaking-lujah!

Of course, I’m one of those people that – despite wanting a break for months – has to fill their first waking moment of free time with activity. In this case, I was only 10 minutes into relaxing on the couch with some Investigation Discovery (it’saddictiveAF) before deciding to have a casual peek at my recipe collection. Casual peek quickly transformed into detailed research, which then morphed into a cooking and baking agenda for the next four months (and a shopping list as long as a novel). And so went my rest time; I was on my way to the market before the murder had even been solved. It was nice knowing you, R & R!

All credit for this beautiful salad recipe goes to Cafe Delites, one of my favorite blogs of all time. The garlicky honey mustard dressing is the BOMB.COM – I’m not a mustard fan by any means, yet I devoured this salad in under 5 minutes! It also makes an unbelievably delicious marinade for the chicken – my husband already requested that I make this again soon. It’s a definite keeper – enjoy!

 

HONEY MUSTARD CHICKEN, BACON + AVOCADO SALAD

Yields: 4 servings

For the marinade/dressing:

  • ⅓ cup clear honey
  • 3 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 2 tbsp smooth + mild Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp finely minced garlic
  • Salt, to season
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For the salad:

  • ¼ cup diced bacon, trimmed of rind and fat
  • 4 cups Romaine lettuce leaves, washed
  • 1 cup sliced grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large avocado, pitted and sliced
  • ¼ cup corn kernels

 

  1. Whisk marinade / dressing ingredients (through salt) together to combine. Pour half into a shallow dish, submerge chicken and marinade for  1 1/2 to 2 hours. Refrigerate the reserved marinade to use as a dressing.
  2. Heat one teaspoon of olive oil in a nonstick pan (or grill pan or skillet) over medium high heat. Once very hot, add chicken and cook, undisturbed, for 3-5 minutes, or until nicely browned on one side. Turn chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 5 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken is cooked through. Remove to a cutting board and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing.  (Grill in batches to prevent excess water being released. Dispose of used marinade.)
  3. Wipe pan over with paper towel; drizzle with another teaspoon of oil and fry the bacon until crispy.
  4. Slice chicken into strips and prepare salad with leaves, tomatoes, avocado slices, corn and chicken.
  5. Whisk 2 tablespoons of water into the remaining dressing and drizzle over the salad. Sprinkle the bacon over the top and season with salt and freshly cracked pepper, if desired.

Peanut Butter Pie with Chocolate Cookie Crust

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie FINAL

We’ve been experiencing uncomfortably high temperatures (and insanely high humidity) for the last several weeks in central Europe, meaning I’ve had no desire whatsoever to turn on my oven and get baking. That doesn’t mean, of course, that my notorious appetite for all things chocolate diminished in the slightest. Far from it! I was into my collection of no-bake dessert recipes within minutes of temps topping 90 degrees last week.

This pie has a very special place in my heart, as it’s been my dad’s favorite for as long as I can remember. In fact, I can scarcely remember a birthday or Father’s Day celebration in my childhood in which it didn’t make a welcome appearance. The filling is rich and creamy, cradled in a delicate chocolate cookie crust and topped with drizzled chocolate sauce and grated dark chocolate. I took it a step further (maybe too far?) on this occasion with the addition of chopped miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. A word of warning: this pie is not for the faint of heart … or dieters … or diabetics … but is definitely worth a try if you’ve got a peanut butter lover in your midst!

Note: If you’d like to craft a lower-fat version of this pie, use 1/3-fat cream cheese, reduced or low-fat sweetened condensed milk, reduced fat peanut butter and fat-free Cool Whip. I’ve made both versions and the flavor variations are minimal.

Enjoy!

 

PEANUT BUTTER PIE WITH CHOCOLATE COOKIE CRUST

Yield | 8 to 10 servings

 

  • 1 1/3 cup chocolate cookie crumbs (approximately 30 crushed cookies)
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 1 tbsp finely granulated sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly whipped cream
  • 1 to 2 tsp chocolate syrup, to serve
  • 1 ounce grated dark chocolate, to serve

 

  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together cookie crumbs, melted chocolate and sugar. Press firmly and evenly into a 9-inch pie plate. Chill crust for 30 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter, blending for 1 minute. On low speed, add lemon juice and vanilla extract, blending until just combined.
  3. Remove bowl from electric mixer and gentle fold in freshly whipped cream. Pour pie filling into the chilled chocolate cookie crust and refrigerate for 4 hours or until set. To serve, drizzle with chocolate syrup and sprinkle with grated dark chocolate, if desired.

 

Habanero Turkey Chili with Honey Buttermilk Cornbread

 

Habanero Turkey Chili

It’s been a long, lonnnng time since I’ve posted to this blog, but I’m happy to be back with new recipes (the result of lots of summer cooking and baking!) this week. Hopefully this post kick starts my lazy blogging bum into gear, and I’ll be back with more recipes in the weeks and months to come!

This spicy homemade chili has been a family favorite for years. Adapted from the recipe for Boilermaker Tailgate Chili on AllRecipes.com, it’s also been my go-to meal for the happy occasions this summer that we’ve welcomed family and friends to our home in southern Germany. Despite the rather intimidating number of ingredients listed, this chili couldn’t be easier to prepare for a large group of weary, jet-lagged world travelers desperately in need of a protein boost. And if the protein doesn’t wake them up, the flavor surely will – this chili is spicy with a capital S. I personally like to take my spice level to the brink of hospitalization, but feel free to tinker with the amount of chili powder added if pepper-induced sobbing just isn’t your jam. (I recommend 2 tablespoons instead of 1/4 cup for those with less heat tolerance.)

And finally, let’s talk about cornbread. I LOVE cornbread. I’ve tried every conceivable type of cornbread known to man or woman, and this recipe is HANDS DOWN the best. It has the rare combination of perfect flavor (not too sweet, not too bland) and perfect consistency (not too cake-like, not too dry). I can’t imagine a better accompaniment to this spicy chili. Enjoy!

 

HABANERO TURKEY CHILI WITH HONEY BUTTERMILK CORNBREAD

Yield | 12 servings

For the chili:

  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage
  • 4 (15 ounce) cans chili beans in sauce
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 habanero peppers, seeded + minced
  • 4 cubes beef (or chicken) bouillon
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2-1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, to serve

For the cornbread:

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 fresh eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt

 

To make the chili:

  1. Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Crumble the ground turkey and sausage into the hot pan, and cook until evenly browned. Drain off excess grease.
  2.  Pour in the chili beans, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Add the onion, habanero peppers, bouillon, and beer. Season with chili powder and remaining ingredients (through sugar). Stir to blend, then cover and simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. After 2 hours, taste, and adjust salt, pepper, and chili powder if necessary. The longer the chili simmers, the better it will taste. Remove from heat and serve, topped with shredded cheddar cheese (or refrigerate and serve the next day).

To make the cornbread:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.
  2. Melt butter and honey in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Brookies

Brookies1

I celebrated my 33rd birthday late last week, and spent my special day on an amazing holiday in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a stunningly beautiful ski resort on the German border with Austria. I managed to cram all my favorite activities into the day: hiking, playing in the snow, exploring historic sites, and enjoying my hubby’s company. I also discovered what will be, for the rest of my days, a delicious birthday cake substitute: the Brookie.

For those that don’t know, my first name is Brooke – which makes the discovery of the Brookie such a fun one for me. A genius combination of two long-time favorites, Brookies pair the flavor and crackly surface of a brownie with with the soft, chewy texture of a cookie. And oh my goodness, are they fantastic! Fantastic enough to give up birthday cake, which was frankly unfathomable only a week ago. Give these a try for the chocolate lovers in your life, and enjoy 🙂

Brookies2

 

BROOKIES

Yields | 25 cookies

Inspiration | AllRecipes.com

  • 2/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large fresh eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips

 

  1. Beat vegetable shortening and sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in one egg until completely incorporated. Beat in second egg along with vanilla extract and water. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Stir flour mixture into creamed mixture at low speed until just blended, then fold in chocolate chips. Cover and chill dough for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius).
  3. Drop spoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake in preheated oven until cookies are set, 7 to 9 minutes. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet; transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Ricotta Gnocchi with Toasted Walnut-Gorgonzola Sauce

Ricotta Gnocchi

Have you ever discovered a really delicious dish at a restaurant, savored every last bite, and then spent the next few hours/days/weeks/months thinking about it, craving it, and wishing you knew how to make it just as good (if not better!) at home?

Have you ever caved in, dragged a loved one to breakfast/lunch/dinner, and gone back to said restaurant for justonemorebite, only to find out those fools have sold to new management and your beloved dish is no longer on the menu? Well, I’ve gotta tell you – it hurts. It hurts bad.

This is that dish.

I stumbled across it on a date with my husband in San Diego’s Little Italy several years ago, and have never really been able to get it out of my head. How did they make those gnocchi so soft, so delicate? How did they manage to make their sauce so rich and creamy, yet so light? What culinary trickery was this, and how oh how could I be trained in their ways?

Then it was gone. All gone. I was left with a profound feeling of loss that is difficult to articulate. It turns out that was just hunger, but man I was disappointed. I began scouring the Internet for gnocchi recipes, and was instantly intimidated. You want me to do what with a potato?! It wasn’t until I stumbled across this version made with ricotta and flour that I got up the nerve to get my gnocchi on.

I don’t know what I was so afraid of! This brilliant recipe is both delicious and actually really easy, if you’re not afraid to get your hands a little dirty (or doughy, to be exact!). Paired with toasted walnuts and a simple, dreamy Gorgonzola sauce, this gnocchi is a perfect, incredibly tasty copy of that dish in San Diego. Phew!

What are some of your favorite restaurant dishes that you’d love to recreate at home?

 

RICOTTA GNOCCHI WITH TOASTED WALNUT-GORGONZOLA SAUCE

Yields | 4 to 6 servings

Inspiration | Framed Cooks and Ina Garten

 

For the gnocchi:

  • 16 ounces whole milk ricotta
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 large fresh egg
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese

For the sauce:

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 to 4 ounces crumbly Gorgonzola cheese (not creamy or dolce)
  • 6 tbsp freshly grated Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh Italian parsley, to serve

 

To make the gnocchi:

  1. Place ricotta, flour, salt, egg and Parmagiano cheese in a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir well, until a wet dough forms.
  2. Turn dough onto a well-floured work surface and knead until it feels pliable and smooth (approximately 2 to 3 minutes).
  3. Divide dough into six equal portions. Roll each portion into a long rope the approximate width of your index finger, stretching as you roll (it’s okay if the ropes rip, as you’ll be cutting them into small pieces in the next step).
  4. Cut ropes into 1-inch pieces. Using a fork turned upside down, gently press the tines into each piece (this will later help the sauce cling to the gnocchi).
  5. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat.

[You’re not finished with the gnocchi yet, but this is a good time to turn to the sauce for a moment!]

To make the sauce:

  1. If not yet toasted, place the walnuts in a preheated 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 3 minutes (if walnuts are already toasted, skip this step). Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the walnuts and saute for two minutes. Add the cream, Gorgonzola, 3 tablespoons Parmagiano cheese, salt and pepper, stirring well to combine. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for approximately 4 to 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

[Now, back to the gnocchi!]

To serve:

  1. While the sauce is thickening, carefully drop gnocchi into the boiling water. They will immediately sink to the bottom, but within 2 minutes will start floating to the water’s surface. At this point, your gnocchi is DONE – immediately remove from the boiling water with a slotted spoon, transfer to the simmering sauce, and toss to coat.
  2. Remove from heat, sprinkle with chopped parsley and remaining 3 tablespoons Parmagiano cheese, and serve immediately.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies1

It seems like forever (almost a year ago? really?!) since I featured a cookie recipe on this blog, which boggles the mind because 1) this is *supposed* to be a baking blog, and 2) I bake and eat cookies all.the.time.

If I had to rationalize their omission, I’d say it’s because this blog – at least lately – primarily features my culinary experiments, rather than those tried and true recipes I’ve relied on for years. I have so many treasured cookie recipes passed down from my mother and grandmother that I’m often on cookie auto-pilot; in other words, I rarely branch out and try new recipes. Well, shame on me! There are literally thousands of incredible cookie recipes – this one included! – that I’ve overlooked in my haze of childhood cookie nostalgia. I take heart in the fact my Grandma Bonnie would have LOVED these Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies – she was a sucker for anything with coconut and chocolate – and forgiven my wandering taste buds. These cookies are soft and chewy, over-sized (which is the best cookie size, amirite?), and not overly coconut-y. They’re best enjoyed 10-15 minutes out of the oven – when they’re still a wee bit warm and gooey on the inside – but can be zapped for a few seconds in the microwave for a similar effect.

Enjoy in moderation!

 

COCONUT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Yields | 24 cookies

Inspiration | Taste of Home

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup finely granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large fresh eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 2/3 cups flaked coconut
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup milk chocolate chips

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit (175° Celsius).
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the coconut and chocolate chips. Shape two tablespoonfuls of dough into a ball and place 3 inches apart on a baking sheet; repeat with remaining dough.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 12-14 minutes, or until lightly browned (13 minutes was the sweet spot for my oven). Remove to wire racks to cool.

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Black Bottom Cupcakes

It occurred to me earlier this week that, as of late, this baking blog has been seriously lacking in one very important thing: BAKING. I could blame this on my recent love affair with soup (seriouslyhomemadesoupisthebestthingeverrrr), but the fact is I was just plain sugared out after the holidays. I don’t know about you, but I consumed so much cake, candy, and gluhwein in December (okay, and November) that I could hear my teeth screaming for mercy. With the face of my stern and ruthless Persian dentist in mind, I reluctantly placed a moratorium on baked goods.

If you’re a regular visitor to this blog, you probably know that’s when I re-discovered soup. We only ate soup on the rarest of occasions in California, because frankly, it’s way too blasted hot there. Much to my delight, however, German winters are ideal for soup making and eating, and I fell in love experimenting with all the recipes I’d collected – but never tried – over the years in San Diego. We enjoyed everything from Broccoli Cheddar to Zuppa Toscana, from Cream of Wild Mushroom to Cheesy Potato Bacon. We ate soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and probably – no joke – a few times for dessert. We lost ourselves in those heady days of cream and broth and bacon. In the meantime, my oven sat neglected, patiently waiting for me to get back to the business of baking.

Oh sweet oven, you know me so well. Late last week, I started getting that all-too-familiar hankering for chocolate. It started off subtle, but by the weekend I was pawing through my recipes looking for something to satisfy my sweet tooth. When I stumbled across these cupcakes – one of my childhood favorites – I knew I was back in the baking game. And thank goodness – I wasn’t keen on starting a Soup Goddess blog!

Black Bottom Cupcakes instantly remind me of my lovely aunt Rebecca, who frequently brought these to family picnics, potlucks and camping trips when I was growing up in the Pacific Northwest. I hadn’t had one in years, but was immediately transported back to the blissfully happy days of my youth as soon as these emerged from the oven. They are a delicious combination of decadent chocolate cake and rich, lightly sweetened cheesecake, studded with semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips. They’re an especially attractive dessert for those that love cake but hate the occasionally cloying sweetness of frosting. Enjoy in moderation!

Black Bottom Cupcakes1

 

BLACK BOTTOM CUPCAKES

Yields | 14-16 cupcakes

Inspiration | my aunt Rebecca

  • 1 1/3 cup finely granulated sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup high-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup freshly brewed coffee, cooled
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature (do not microwave!)
  • 1 large fresh egg
  • 6 ounces dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. Place 1 cup finely granulated sugar, cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking soda in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add coffee and oil and mix on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Add vinegar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, then blend on medium speed for an additional 30 seconds.
  3. Fill each paper liner half full with chocolate batter. Set aside.
  4. Clean and wipe dry the mixing bowl. On medium speed, blend cream cheese, 1/3 cup finely granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and egg until smooth and creamy. (Note: DO NOT OVER MIX. Blend just until lumps disappear, no more than 30 seconds.) Add chopped chocolate pieces and stir to incorporate. Top chocolate batter with one heaping teaspoonful of cream cheese mixture.
  5. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes in preheated oven. Remove from muffin tins immediately and cool thoroughly on a wire rack. The insides will be gooey if eaten within the first hour, but will set thereafter. If you prefer the gooey texture, microwave for 10 to 15 seconds before eating.