Monday, June 28, 2010

Since You've Been Gone: Semi-Fail Brownies

 Brownie tops, courtesy of that infernal fake non-stick hussy of a pan.

Dear Readers,

As most of you know, the Resident Taste Tester has been out of town (to correct my previous post, he is approximately 4100km away), and he has taken the camera (well, I put it in his hands so he could send neat pictures of far away places). But! I am not to be disheartened from posting.

Now, these grainy, even more poorly lit than usual, and completely lacking in composition photos are only being shared with you because I like you. I like you in the way that I would go shopping with M back home and be shy about a sort of fugly (is anything only sort of fugly?) swimsuit but come out of the fitting room to show her anyway. Yes, I like you oven-peeping folk that much.

So anyway, I made brownies a couple days ago. I adapted this brownie recipe from I wanted to spice them up a bit and tried to create a brownie-molasses-cookie hybrid. I thought the mini muffin pan might do well. Not learning my lesson from last time (that this non-stick claim was a crock of poop), I pried the brownies from it and then promptly threw it away. This left me with a pile of brownie rubble rather than neat little two-bite dreams. And then I compulsively ate them to hide my baking shame and to ease a little watching-movies-by-myself loneliness.

Adapted from

Yields 18 two-bite brownies (made with itsy bitsy muffin tins)

 1 T  unsalted butter, melted
1/2 C  sugar
1  egg
1 T  molasses
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 T  cocoa
1/4 C  flour
1/8 tsp  salt
1/8 tsp  double-acting baking powder
1/4 tsp  cinnamon
1/4 tsp  ginger
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (177C).
  2. Grease and flour whatever pan you're going to bake in.
  3. Whisk together the butter, sugar, egg, molasses, and vanilla.
  4. Add the cocoa, flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and ginger and beat until homogeneous.
  5. Fill pan (2/3 full for muffin tins) and bake 15-20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out dry with just a few crumbs clinging to it.
  6. Cool 1-2 minutes in the pan before slicing/removing.
  7. Enjoy!
 Brownie Reflections
Non-stick. Mhmm.

I think if I did this again, I would double the molasses, ginger, and cinnamon and cut the sugar in half. I would also just plop the runny batter on a greased and floured tray to make cookies. The brilliant thing about these brownies were the tops that had runneth over the tins. They came away with an easy twist (leaving the rest of the brownie to be scraped out, ugh), slightly crispy on the outside, brownie soft on the inside.

I am glad to have that lie-of-a-non-stick-pan out of my life. No matter how carefully you greased and floured the thing beforehand, it would coax unsuspecting baked goodies to become one with its matte metal surface. As with all useless and frustrating things in life, you eventually tire of them and they end up in the trash (I'm all for reduce, reuse, recycle, but man that thing was evil).

Look forward to a few more fugly bikini style photo sharing posts.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Dear Readers,

The Resident Taste Tester is out of town doing exciting and scholarly things far away from the oven, which means my go-to person for taste/texture opinions is gone, as well as the technologies to post fabulous pictures.

The will to bake is there, I promise. Unfortunately, the ability to capture photos with ease is about 3600km away.

What I'm trying to say is the site may go into torpor until after Independence Day. That doesn't necessarily mean there won't be updates over the next two weeks, it just means posts will be rolling out slower and with less photos.

Let me make it up to you; post recipe trial suggestions in the comment section and I'll pick a few (or maybe all of them considering my small but mighty readership) to test out.

Thanks for reading folks!


Monday, June 14, 2010

Winner! Molten Chocolate Cake with Kahlua

Molten chocolate cake with Kahlua, the warm center flowing out and mingling with pooling vanilla ice cream.

I am quite happy with the results of my last attempt at molten chocolate cake. Previously, my cake was less molten and more fudge-like, resulting in a lack of chocolate lava flow when struck with a spoon. This time, however, the chocolate spilled and bellies ached with the feverish joy of gluttony.

I changed two very simple things from last time:

  1. I added liquor.
  2. I watched it like a hawk (like I should have the first time around).
Molten Chocolate Cake with Kahlua
Adapted from

Yields 2 ramekins

2 ounces (2 squares)  Baker's dark bittersweet chocolate
3 T + 1 tsp (50g)  unsalted butter
1/2 C  powdered sugar
2 T + 2 tsp  cake flour
1  egg
1  egg yolk
1 ounce (approximately) of Kahlua, Frangelico, or Baileys
butter or shortening for greasing
flour or cocoa powder for dusting
  1. Preheat the oven to 425F (220C).
  2. Grease and flour two ramekins and set aside.
  3. Combine the chocolate and butter in a bowl and microwave until the butter is melted.
  4. Whisk butter and chocolate together until completely molten.
  5. Add the sugar and flour and whisk well.
  6. Add the egg, yolk, and about an ounce of liquor (more or less to get a nice semi-flowing batter texture) and whisk until completely mixed.
  7. Divide the batter between the ramekins, set on a small baking pan, and bake 5-10 minutes (start watching it like a hawk after 4 minutes, until a skin has formed that doesn't jiggle when you shake the tray).
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool for 1-2 minutes.
  9. Slide a knife between the cakes and the ramekins to loosen the cakes before overturning onto plates.
  10. Serve warm with ice cream for best results.
  11. Enjoy!
Molten Chocolate Cake with Kahlua Reflections

Molten chocolate cake with the top layer removed, revealing warm chocolate innards.

The Kahlua doesn't particularly jump out at you, but the alcohol is more of a sensation than a flavor when you take your first few bites. I think it's a nice solution to the problem of batter being too thick to begin with (I admit the eggs are on the small side) and it gives the cake a bit of a kick. If you are living alcohol-free, you can always substitute it with vanilla (which can get expensive) or milk.

Be sure to plate your ice cream just before serving, otherwise your cake will end up swimming in it. It's a warm chocolate cake next to ice cream, not rocket science.

I advise you to share one cake between two people, particularly after a good meal. These molten bites of heaven are filling, especially if you like to heap on the ice cream like me.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Underwhelming Undercooked Blueberry Muffins

Sigh. It was raining and I wanted to have some nice blueberry muffins before heading out. Unfortunately I had to settle for undercooked, un-muffin-topped muffins that just irritate me (and make me feel full, but that's nearly the only plus).

I altered the summer berry recipe at and I have a feeling that substituting yogurt for milk might have been my error, causing the baking powder to react and die before heading to the oven. Plus, the baking time just wasn't enough as listed or even with five extra minutes. Otherwise, this could have been nice!

Blueberry Muffins
Adapted from

Yields 9-10 small-medium muffins

2 T  unsalted butter
1/4 C  brown sugar, packed
1 T  muscovado sugar
3/4 C  european (or Greek) yogurt*
1/4 C  water*
1  egg
1/4 C  all-purpose flour
1/2 C  whole wheat flour
1/3 C  oats
1 T  baking powder
1/2 tsp  cinnamon
1/4 tsp  nutmeg
pinch of salt
2/3-3/4 C  blueberries, fresh or frozen

*Your muffins will probably come out better if you just use 1 C  milk like in the original recipe, just sayin'

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F (200C).
  2. Brown the butter in a small pot over medium-low heat.
  3. Remove pot from heat and add the sugars, whisking into a thick paste.
  4. Add the yogurt and water (or milk, advisably) and whisk smooth.
  5. Add the egg and whisk until thoroughly mixed and set aside.
  6. In a medium bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and whisk lightly to combine.
  7. Pour the wet mix over the dry mix and fold until nearly mixed.
  8. Add the blueberries and fold in until just combined.
  9. Divide between 9-10 paper-lined or greased cupcake tins.
  10. Bake 25-35 minutes.
  11. Cool 5-10 minutes in the tins and then remove to a cooling rack.
  12. Enjoy (hopefully)!
Blueberry Muffin Reflections

I'm pretty sure the yogurt and baking powder reacted in a terrible way, making the muffins lack their characteristic muffin top. They were entirely flat. So, perhaps just stick with the milk, and save yourself some tears wasted muffin ingredients.

Flavor wise, these are decent. Nothing to write home about, but I rarely meet blueberry muffins that are. On the positive side, these are pretty fiber rich, so happy digestion!

The muffins remaining after my initial attempt to eat my shame mercifully made their way into the garbage before any photos could be taken. Don't worry folks, you'll have plenty of pretty things to look at soon, including some updated molten chocolate cake (see nearly molten cake) and fabulous Smitten Kitchen adapted pizza.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Cowboy Cookies

Cowboy cookies, stacked half a dozen high.

During my university days back in the U.S., my friends and I would occasionally wander down to the Rosewood Cafe for a bit of warmed brie with fruit and a sliced baguette. One day, we came down and for some reason they couldn't fit us in, so we turned around with a sigh and began to walk toward the door when, "Would you like a cookie?" We instantly brightened. Is that even really a question? Rhetorical or not, we said yes with warmed hearts and child-like glee.

"Alright, let's see... Cowboy or cowgirl cookies?"

The dough, just before mixing in the coconut, pecans, and chocolate chips.

Not really knowing what the person behind the counter was getting at, we asked, "What's the difference?" Then it was pointed out that in the middle of these oatmeal chocolate chip cookies sat a pecan. Nuts, apparently, make a cowboy cookie. Ahem. We chose cowboy over cowgirl and merrily nibbled away at the cookies, forgetting almost entirely about the brie (and about gender issues mixed into the oven, but that's a different story).

Tablespoon sized drops of cookie dough.

That was many moons ago and surprisingly, I hadn't made cowboy cookies until a friend's birthday theme (cowboys v. indians, happy 30th!) inspired me to bake a batch. I decided to go with the cowboy cookie recipe at

Cowboy Cookies
Adapted from

Yields about 3 dozen cookies, from what I can remember, heh

1/2 C  butter flavored shortening
1/2 C (96g)  sugar
1/2 C (101g)  brown sugar
1  egg
1/2 tsp  vanilla
1 C (99g)  all purpose flour
1/2 tsp  baking soda
1/4 tsp  salt
1/4 tsp  baking powder
1 C (80g)  oats
1/2 C (60g)  pecans
3 oz. (85g)  chocolate chips
1/4 C (15-20g)  dessicated unsweetened coconut

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (177C).
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and sugars.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well.
  4. Stir in the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder until just mixed.
  5. Stir in the oats, pecans, chocolate chips, and coconut until just mixed.
  6. Scoop the dough using a tablespoon and drop onto silicone mat lined baking sheets, approximately two inches apart, and flatten slightly.
  7. Bake 12-15 minutes (14 for me) until cookies start to brown.
  8. Remove to cooling racks.
  9. Enjoy!
Cowboy Cookie Reflections

You don't really taste the coconut, so for people looking for more coconut flavor, increase the amount to your liking, perhaps use sweetened coconut and reduce the sugar in the recipe. I think it mostly adds to the texture and structure of the cookie at the amount given.

It's best to slightly flatten the dough balls before cooking because they spread slightly; given all the chunky yummy things you mixed in, not flattening them a little leads to a less even distribution of the chocolate and nuts, as well as less round cookies. They're nothing wrong with less than circular cookies (in my kitchen, they're the ones that get eaten first), they taste just lovely, but if you're a little neurotic and compulsively eat the less than photo quality ones fresh out of the oven, then a little flattening couldn't hurt.

I used a mix of dark chocolate and semisweet chocolate chips, mostly because I was nearly out of both. Given the choice between using just one, I would say semisweet would work better in this cookie; I like my cookies reasonably sweet and all dark chocolate might not be sweet enough.

These make a nicely crispy cookie and are excellent with a tall glass of milk.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Chef Jacket?!

For any of you paying really close attention, I changed my profile picture. I've started helping out a friend with her desserts when I'm free. In this picture, I was trying my hand at being a food stylist. I hope I can assist her more regularly, but let's see where this goes.

In any case, it feels pretty good to wear a chef jacket.

Photo credit: Foo Yong Koon

Molten Chocolate Cake, Nearly

Nearly molten chocolate cake. Extremely tasty with a fudge-like center.

The thought of a warm piece of chocolate cake supplying its own chocolate sauce makes me feel a bit dreamy, especially when said cake is served with vanilla ice cream.

You'd think it would be a bit of a toughie, right? Absolutely wrong. Molten chocolate cake is quick and easy, the only tricky part is getting the timing down. This is not something you pour over for hours, transferring this melted thing from the stove, whisking a bit in this bowl here then mixing it back in on the stove, letting it chill, adding these three things and whipping, blah blah blah...  Okay, maybe there is a little bit of that, but it really doesn't take much time. The thing that took the longest for me was preheating the oven and, of course, waiting a couple minutes so I wouldn't burn my tongue.

Molten Chocolate Cake
Adapted from

Yields 2 ramekins

2 ounces (2 squares)  Baker's dark bittersweet chocolate
3 T + 1 tsp (50g)  unsalted butter
1/2 C  powdered sugar
2 T + 2 tsp  cake flour
1  egg
1  egg yolk
butter or shortening for greasing
flour or cocoa powder for dusting

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F (220C).
  2. Grease and dust each ramekin with flour or cocoa powder (grease it well, this is important!).
  3. Heat the butter and chocolate on medium in the microwave until melted. Whisk together.
  4. Add the sugar and flour and mix well.
  5. Add the egg and yolk and mix well.
  6. Divide the mixture between two ramekins and bake about 8 minutes, or until the tops look just set.
  7. Remove from the oven and let sit for a minute or two.
  8. Run a knife around the edges and carefully invert onto dishes.
  9. Garnish with powdered sugar and enjoy (possibly with a big heaping pile of vanilla ice cream).
  10. Keep enjoying! It's really good!
Molten Chocolate Cake Reflections

Molten chocolate cake before being attacked by spoons and vanilla ice cream.

My middle wasn't quite molten. I had walked away and left them all alone for eight and a half minutes, which gave me a fudge-like center. WATCH THESE LIKE A HAWK. You know, for the best lava-flow-of-chocolate results.

I gave it a try with white chocolate, adding a splash of almond extract and a tablespoon of Greek yogurt, and boy did that sucker live up to the word molten. The almond extract was unnecessary and overpowered the white chocolate, so leave that out or use vanilla. I have yet to encounter a grocery store white chocolate that melts smoothly all on it's own, but it worked fine with butter.

This was done on the spur of the moment, another one of those, "Well gosh, it's kind of gloomy out. What can I whip up for a cheer up?" That's why there aren't many pictures and also why the light quality is terrible (thanks, night time). Maybe I'll give this another shot later this week and update with better pictures.

[UPDATE 15JUN2010]

I made it! I really did! It's pretty tastetastic and full of oozing chocolate wonder! Check it out here.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Dark German Rye Bread

Dark German rye bread with cocoa, molasses, and caraway seeds. A light rub of flour prior to baking and a couple minutes under the broiler just before removing adds a rustic touch to this loaf.

I am a big fan of retarding yeast doughs. I think it's wonderful to spend maybe ten minutes in the kitchen the night before, throw the dough in the fridge, and wake up the next day to begin punching things down and shaping. For all of you that are not fans of letting dough sit around forever, this could be the recipe for you. According to the dark German rye bread recipe at, this only takes about two hours, start to finish (10 minutes to pull it together, 20 minutes rest, punch down + shaping + rest for about 60 minutes, then into the oven for about 30 minutes).

The dough after an optional four hour retard in the fridge.

Being somewhat of a traditionalist, I threw the dough in the fridge for a four hour retard. I would have left it there overnight, but I had started it in the morning and wanted it with dinner. I think four hours is a reasonable compromise.

This dough holds imprints extremely well; feel free to play a bit when punching it down.

Dark German Rye Bread
Adapted from

Yields 1 loaf

3/4 C (74g)  bread flour
3/4 C (98g)  whole wheat flour
2 T  cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 1/4 tsp yeast
1/2 T  caraway seed
1/2 T  salt
2 1/2 T  molasses
1 T (15g)  unsalted butter
1/2 T  sugar
1 C  water
1 T  olive oil
1 3/4 C (160g)  rye flour
  1. Combine bread flour, whole wheat flour, cocoa, salt, and seeds in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat the molasses, butter, sugar, water, and oil until lukewarm (microwave or stove is fine).
  3. Add yeast to the warm liquid mix and stir well.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour the wet mix in, and mix on low for 30 seconds, then 3 minutes on high.
  5. Knead in the rye flour (about 8 minutes).
  6. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and rest 20 minutes OR retard 4 hours to overnight in the fridge (long retards develop flavor).
  7. Punch down the dough and shape into a loaf (I like a round, tubby looking loaf) and cut an X or # in the top with a sharp knife.
  8. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise 1 hour or until nearly doubled in size.
  9. Optional: Rub with a little flour to get a rustic looking loaf and/or sprinkle with a little water just prior to baking to get a crispier crust.
  10. Bake at 400F (205C) for 25-30 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  11. Optional: Place loaf on the top rack and bake 2 minutes longer to get a darker crust.
  12. Cool at least 20 minutes before slicing.
  13. Enjoy!
Dark German Rye Bread Reflections

Just 20 minutes out of the oven, with steam rising up during.

This bread is dense. And smells like chocolate when you bake it. Both of these things are not cause for alarm. The bread doesn't taste sweet or chocolatey. Plus a good, dense rye bread was what I was going for. You get a decent crust on it without any crazed water bottle spritzing in the first fifteen minutes of baking and the bread keeps pretty well. I think this would be excellent with peppered salami and seedy mustard.

The texture of this loaf is dense and soft with a thick, slightly crunchy crust.

I think this bread has a nice texture; a small crumb with a crust you have to saw a bit to get through. I'm fairly certain if you tied a rope around it and gave it a good swing, it would double as a medieval weapon. Just because you can physically assault someone with it doesn't mean it's not a good bread - it is! (And just because you can physically assault someone with it doesn't mean you should - you shouldn't go beyond a playful thud to the arm.) Please enjoy this bread responsibly, possibly with mustard, salted butter, and/or an array of cold cuts and cheeses.