Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Almond Olive Oil Rosemary Muffins

It has been a while. This is partly because I've been busy and partly because I'm very attached to a few old favorites. But with temperatures dropping and my heat not working, my oven has been on constantly. I finally figured I may as well put something in it and try something new.

I tweaked a walnut cake recipe I found on EatingWell, and the muffins came out delicious. (I also halved the recipe for my batch, but I'm posting a full recipe). They are light, fragrant, moist, and not overly sweet.

3/4 cup almond meal
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup olive oil
4 teaspoons very finely chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs at room temperature
2 egg whites at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar

Preheat oven to 350º.
Combine almond meal, flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and walnuts.
Combine buttermilk, oil, rosemary, and vanilla in a glass measuring cup.
Place eggs, egg whites and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed for 5 minutes. The mixture should be thickened and pale.
With a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients and buttermilk mixture into the egg mixture, making 3 additions of the dry and 2 additions of liquid.
Bake in mini muffin tin for about 13 minutes or until top spring back. (If making a cake, 35-40 minutes).

Friday, July 22, 2011

Earl Grey Cupcakes with Lavender Frosting

The one and only time I have gone to Bi-Rite Creamery was a day (the day) when there was no line. I took advantage and tasted as much as I could. They suggested I try the Earl Grey with the Lavender flavors because they complement each other well. I have been meaning to recreate the combination in a bite-sized baking form for quite some time now. This is my attempt. I'm not entirely satisfied (I think the flavors could be stronger), but they came out interesting. Tasters (Britt, Ryan, Meghan, Tina, Reid) all seemed pretty stoked on them, but I think there is room for improvement. (Side note: look at the adorable tiered serving plates Rael got me for my birthday!)

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup milk (I used 1 %, but next time I'll use whole milk)
6 Earl Grey tea bags

1/3 cup milk (again, I used 1% but should use whole)
1/2 teaspoon dried lavender
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
3 cups confectioners' sugar
food coloring (I gradually added I think 4 drops of red and 4 drops of blue)

Preheat oven to 350º F.
Heat milk in small saucepan until barely simmering. Put 4 tea bags in milk to steep and set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
Combine flour, 2 remaining tea bags and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well.
Remove 4 tea bags from milk. Measure out 1/2 cup and stir into batter until smooth. Discard remaining milk.
Spoon batter into the muffin papers 2/3 full.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Cupcakes are done when they spring back to the touch.
Let cool completely.
For frosting, bring milk and lavender just to a boil in a small saucepan.
Remove from heat, and let steep 10 minutes.
Strain, and discard almost all of lavender.
Cream butter until smooth.
Beat in sugar and 1/4 cup milk.
Add food coloring until desired shade. Frost immediately.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Blueberry Maple Coffee Cake Muffins

Sports Basement likes to celebrate, and the most recent occasion was the departure of two employees going to grad school. Almost the entire store went to a bar, so I had to represent. The recipe is adapted from one on 101cookbooks. I brought two dozen of these bad boys (in egg cartons of course), and they were gone pretty quickly. I might have to double the recipe next time. Quote of the evening: "If I'm not sleeping, working, or partying, I'm baking."

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 tablespoons rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
scant 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup maple syrup, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup blueberries

1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut 1/4-inch cubes
1/3 cup turbinado sugar
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350º.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a separate large bowl beat the butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Drizzle in the maple syrup and beat until well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple times along the way.
Beat in the egg and vanilla extract, scraping the sides again.
Add half of the flour, stir just a bit, now add a splash of the buttermilk, stir again just a bit. Add the rest of the flour and stir a bit, and now the rest of the buttermilk. Stir until everything barely comes together and then very gently fold in one cup of the blueberries.
Spoon batter into mini muffin papers or buttered loaf pan.
To make the streusel topping, mix the flour, butter, sugar, and pecans until the topping is beyond sandy/crumbly and a little moist.
Crumble over the cake batter. Barely pat in place with your fingertips.
Bake 18-20 minutes, depending on size of muffins. If baking a whole loaf, baking time will be more like 30-40 minutes.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Firecracker Cornbread (Welcome Home, Bree!)

Breana Connor is one of my best friends, even though we rarely see each other. We first met at a program down in Valencia, CA the summer after my freshman year of high school. She was a dancer, I was a composer, we were roommates and fast friends. After the program ended, she returned to the East Bay and I to the City. Then she went off to school in New York, me to Boston, then she transferred to AUP. I visited her before my semester in Ghana and we galavanted around Paris for ten days. And now, she has graduated and moved back to San Francisco. She followed my baking and told me she likes cornbread, so this is my attempt at a welcome home/congratulations on graduating gift. I can't wait to see what adventures lie ahead for us!

The cornbread is moist and spicy and delicious. Would be great as a side dish to any number of things, especially chili of course. (Recipe from 101cookbooks)

3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 cups corn

Preheat oven to 350º.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter, stir in the red pepper flakes, and pour into a 9-inch pie tin or casserole dish. Place in the hot oven.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt.
In a separate bowl whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and corn.
Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir until just combined.
Now very carefully remove the hot pan with butter from the oven. Fill it with the cornbread batter, pushing the batter out to the sides if needed.
Bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until the edges are golden and the center is just set.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Double Chocolate Cardamom Meringue Cookies

I can confidently say I think these are my favorite cookies I have ever made. The texture is like a meringue and the cardamom spice is surprising and wonderful. Also, they are super easy to make.

2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

3 egg whites
scant tablespoon vanilla
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 320º.
Sift together sugars, cocoa powder, salt.
Stir in egg whites and vanilla.
Stir in cardamom and chocolate chips.
Spoon batter onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets, allowing plenty of room for them to expand.
Bake until they puff up, about 11-15 minutes.
Let cool briefly, then eat while still warm and gooey for maximum pleasure.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Peaches and Cream Cupcakes

I asked for suggestions for my next flavor, and ended up doing what I wanted anyway: peaches and cream. I used a recipe for a passionfruit curd cake from 101 cookbooks as a starter for the batter, then added the fresh fruit and preserves. The white chocolate was my attempt at "cream". They are super moist and really tasty, plus the peach preserves and white chocolate on top make them quite pretty.

3 ripe peaches
1/2 cup peach preserves
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chunks

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

1 1/2 sticks organic unsalted butter

1/4 cup +1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Skin and cut up peaches into small chunks. Cover with 1/4 cup sugar, mix, let sit.

Combine your dry ingredients: Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a small/medium-sized bowl and set aside.

Combine your wet ingredients: In a separate medium-sized bowl beat the butter with the whisk attachment for about three solid minutes. You want the butter to be smooth and creamy before you add any of the rest of the ingredients. Now add the remaining sugar and beat some more - another three minutes minimum. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl once or twice during the process so you end up with a nice, even, creamy butter/ sugar blend.

Add the eggs one at a time: After you add each egg, mix until the egg is fully incorporated and the batter is smooth and creamy - scrape down the sides of the bowl now and then along the way. If you don't beat well enough at this stage you'll end up with little butter/sugar flecks throughout your batter in the end. After the eggs are well incorporated stir in the vanilla extract.

Combine wet and dry ingredients: Dump the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl and gently fold in the flour. You don't want to over mix the batter at this point, so continue to fold the flour in until the last of the flour just barely disappears.

Add peaches and almost all of the peach preserves. Chop white chocolate chunks into smaller pieces, then add to batter.

Fill each mini cupcake paper about half way, then top with a bit of peach preserves and a couple white chocolate pieces.

Bake for 30 minutes or until muffins bounce back a bit when you push the top with your finger.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lavender Almond Cookies

These were a bit of an experiment. I wanted to make more of a shortbread cookie, but these were doughy and delicious anyways. I made them for my cookies and beer party, and they flew off the table.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 confectioners sugar
1 egg

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground almonds, plus handful of chopped toasted almonds
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dried lavender
splash milk

Preheat oven to 350º.
Beat butter and sugars until fluffy.
Add egg, then vanilla.
Add flour, almonds, salt, lavender.
Mix, adding splash of milk if too dry.

Drop spoonfulls, then bake on parchment paper 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies

Happy Mother's Day! Here is what I made for my wonderful mother and brother.

The recipe is a variation on one from 101cookbooks. She put only the melted chocolate in the middle of the cookies, but when I made a batch like that they tasted a little dry and a little too plain. I knew that they had more potential, and thought nutella and chopped hazelnuts would be a big improvement. I'm thinking of doing a caramel sandwich cookie next time, maybe even with chopped up heath bar in the middle too.

2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
scant 1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons milk

chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350º.
In medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, beat butter until fluffy and creamy. Add sugar and mix some more, scraping sides of bowl along the way.
Mix in egg yolks and vanilla extract, scraping sides again if needed.
Being careful not to over-mix, stir in flour mixture by hand. If the dough is on the dry side stir in the milk as well.
Turn the dough out onto the counter-top, knead it once or twice (just so it comes together) and form one large ball.
Cut the dough into four quarters, then shape each piece into a ball. Flatten each of the four balls into 1/2-inch thick pancakes, and wrap each piece individually in plastic.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least a half an hour.

Roll out the dough thin as can be on a lightly floured surface (or on parchment paper) - wafer thin, about 1/8 inch, and stamp out using a cookie cutter.
Arrange cookies 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets.
Bake for about seven minutes on a parchment-lined baking sheet or until the cookie edges are golden brown.
Remove from oven and cool completely on a rack.

Melt the chocolate (in a double boiler or a bowl placed over a bit of simmering water).
Toast and finely chop hazelnuts.
Mix nutella, hazelnuts, and chocolate.
Spread mixture onto the flat side of one cookie. Top with another cookie - matching flat side to flat side. Repeat with the remaining cookies, setting them aside to let the chocolate set.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Passover-->macaroons. Double recipe was overkill, so I have plenty leftover and more mixture in the refrigerator to bake later. Similarly to biscotti, everyone was pleased with the difference a fresh macaroon makes. They are unusual to find. Most are large, dense, and dry. These were not.

14 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix coconut, milk and vanilla.
Beat egg whites and salt with whisk attachment until medium firm peaks.
Fold into coconut mixture.
Shape into small mounds with a spoons or ice cream scoop, or use mini muffin papers (I did both).
Bake about 20 minutes until tops are starting to turn golden brown.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Savory Breakfast Muffins

I have made many batches of these. I love playing with savory instead of sweet, and I love the protein punch that these pack for starting off the day. I grab one of these on my way out the door and I have an instant healthy meal. The base allows for endless variations of flavors, and I plan to keep experimenting. They don't have the cake-y consistency of a normal muffin, so expect something more like a quiche or a souffle.

1 cup cottage cheese
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup almonds, ground into flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs lightly beaten
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt

variation 1:
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (in oil)
1/4 cup basil, finely chopped

variation 2:
artichoke hearts
feta cheese

variation 3:
diced sauteed potatoes
pine nuts

variation 4:
sauteed chopped asparagus
pine nuts

Preheat oven to 400.
Combine everything but 1/4 cup parmesan to sprinkle on top.
Bake 30-35 minutes until set, risen, and golden brown.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Zucchini Walnut Mini Muffins with Lemon Poppy Seed Frosting

This zucchini bread recipe is one of my all-time favorites from 101cookbooks. I had been making cookies which are easy to ration out and give away, but bread is harder to serve. The mini muffins are the perfect variation, with the addition of the lemon frosting as a cherry on top. This recipe makes 2 loaves of bread or 48 mini muffins. I plan on expanding on my mini muffin/cupcake success and coming up with some new ones to try. I would eagerly accept suggestions for flavors.

These have been a total hit. I brought them out in an egg carton to meet friends at a bar. I ended up giving some away as tips for bartenders and freebies for strangers. I brought some to Sports Basement and some to my kiddo's house. And of course family and other friends have made a considerable dent. The mini aspect makes me more generous, which I love.

1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup poppy seeds
zest of 2 lemons

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups grated zucchini (about 3 medium), skins on (squeeze out some moisture and fluff again before using)

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

4 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350.
In small bowl, combine walnuts, poppy seeds, lemon zest.
In large bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Add sugars and beat again.
Add vanilla and eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping down sides of the bowl.
Add zucchini.
In separate bowl, sift together whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in 2 batches, stirring in between.
By hand, fold in walnut, poppy seed, and lemon zest mixture. Save a bit of this mixture to add to the frosting.
If making loaves of zucchini bread, bake for about 40-45 minutes. If making mini muffins, bake for about 17-20 minutes.

For frosting, beat cream cheese, butter, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla, then add remaining poppy seed mixture. Smooth onto muffins once cooled.

Coconut Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

This recipe is from the cookbook Rael bought me for my 21st birthday. It is called Cooking Up A Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from the Times-Picayune of New Orleans. I have made them four times now, and each time they are wonderful. Folks paid a dollar a piece for them at the most recent MAPP and the Sports Basement crew has had two batches (one that I baked in the toaster oven in the break room). Another bonus treat: I made sandwiches out of these (fresh from the oven and still warm) with a coconut almond fudge gelato. They were to die for.

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 275.
Spread coconut on baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, stirring once or twice, until toasted a delicate brown.
Let cool. Crush in a food processor or put coconut in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.
Set aside.

Preheat oven to 325.
Mix flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl.
In large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy, then add egg and vanilla. Beat again until fluffy.
Stir in flour mixture by hand, then stir in oats, coconut, and pecans.
Form dough into balls 1 inch in diameter and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie with a piece of parchment paper and the bottom of a glass.
Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly browned.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hazelnut Biscotti

I recently took the CSET exam, and one of the essay prompts was about how wise people find joy in the simple things in life. I wrote about cooking. I described the entire process: browsing through cookbooks and food blogs, shopping for groceries and imagining the possibilities, actually making the food, and then tasting and sharing my creation. Cooking (particularly baking) has been many things to me, and recently I have come to appreciate its therapeutic value. No matter what else is going on in my head or in my life, I can let it all go and focus on the ingredients in front of me and the empty canvas that is the oven.

I will start this blog with my biscotti. Secret: biscotti just means twice-baked cookie, which is exactly what they are. But people are much more impressed with biscotti, probably because they are rarely fresh and often overly crunchy. Mine are not.

3/4 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 350.
Toast hazelnuts on baking sheet for about 15 minutes, then wrap in a dish towel and let sit for about 8 minutes. Rub towel over hazelnuts to peel off skins (they are bitter). Chop peeled hazelnuts.
In medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mix into egg mixture. Stir in hazelnuts.
Shape dough into two equal logs, approximately 12 inches long. Place logs on baking sheet and flatten out to about 1/2 inch thickness.
Bake for about 30 minutes until edges are golden and center is firm. Remove from oven to cool.
Use serrated knife to slice loaves diagonally into 1/2 inch slices.
Return slices to baking sheet, one cut-side down.
Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, turning over once.
Let cool, then drizzle with melted chocolate if desired.