Monday, March 16, 2015

Guinness Cupcakes with Toasted Beer Marshmallow Meringue


Hello, hello! It's Monday so I think we should have a cupcake (maybe two) - or at least plan to enjoy one of these tomorrow on St. Patrick's Day. I love a chocolaty bite after Irish stew, and these are rich indeed! They are heavily infused with malty flavor thanks to a dose of Guinness Draught.


I will find any excuse possible to use my chef's torch. It's one of my favorite kitchen gadgets. It's ideal for toasting the beer-flavored marshmallow meringue on these cupcakes, but if you don't have a chef's torch they'll toast up mighty fine under the oven broiler.



The cupcakes can be poured into paper liners if you prefer (and if you're looking for one less pan to clean). If you plan to use a kitchen torch to toast the frosting, remove the liners first because they'll easily catch fire.


My favorite part of this confection is the toasted beer marshmallow meringue topping. The appearance against the dark chocolate cupcake reminds me of the beer foam on a freshly poured pint. Its flavor is nuanced with a Guinness Draught reduction, giving the sweet marshmallow notes of malt, coffee and caramel.

May the road rise up to meet you, friends!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Mast Brothers Chocolate Chip Cookies


The ubiquitous chocolate chip cookie may seem less than poetic to write about, but after eating one of these, I'm ready to pen a stanza or two. The "chips" in these cookies are hand-chopped from dark chocolate bars. When added to the batter, all of those assorted shards, chips and chunks create swirling ribbons and pockets of chocolate throughout the baked cookie. This is one of the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever tasted.


The recipe comes from the Mast Brotherscookbook. For those unfamiliar, they are makers and purveyors of fine chocolate. I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but I was sold on their chocolate before I sampled it. First of all, the chocolate bars are wrapped in gorgeous heavyweight Italian papers with print motifs worthy of covering the walls of 111 Archer Avenue. I've taken to using them as bookmarks for the cookbook. Secondly, the bristly faces and serious gazes of the brothers Mast remind me of my husband. How easily I am gentled by sentimentality.

Luckily my sentiments were not at the expense of good taste. Never have I enjoyed chocolate so profoundly dark and sharp. A chocolate fruity and floral; untamed and yet refined. If you have the opportunity to try this chocolate, take it. I think you'll find my description to be accurate.


Since this recipe requires a whopping 15 ounces of chopped dark chocolate, I used 10 ounces of block dark chocolate that I already had on hand. I mixed this chocolate into the cookie dough. The remaining 5 ounces came from two bars of Mast Brothers chocolate: Stumptown Coffee and Sea Salt. I chopped these bars and sprinkled them over the cookies mid-bake. The unsung hero of this confection is the cookie batter. It is the yin to the snappy dark chocolate's yang. It puffs slightly in the oven and then sinks down to create a slight pillow.

That's pretty much chocolate chip cookie perfection, if you ask me.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Rainbow Spiral Cookies



Hello March! No other month mixes me up like this one does. The roller-coaster temperature fluctuations guarantee I'll be inappropriately dressed wherever I go, and my circadian rhythm gets totally out of sync (thanks Daylight Savings Time). But there are reasons to revel in this time of year. The first day of Spring is fast approaching, and St. Paddy's Day will arrive on the 17th with much merry-making and rainbow-inspired treats.


Remember these cookies I made a long time ago? They seem to be everywhere now! It's been a delight to see them ripple throughout the food blogosphere and beyond. I decided it was time to give them a rainbow makeover, just in time for Saint Patrick's Day.


These cookies are absolutely eye-popping (and a little psychedelic-looking, too!). They have the benefit of slice-and-bake convenience, so I'm making a few batches to store in my freezer. I plan to gift them to friends and family in goodie bags along with a few gold-wrapped chocolate coins.

I hope you enjoy these cheerful cookies as much as I have! They are buttery beyond words, so use the best quality butter you can find. I'd even look to those Irish specialty butters for superior flavor and extra St. Paddy's Day flair.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Waffled Cheesecake


They say necessity is the mother of invention, but in this case it was impatience and laziness. I wanted cheesecake but didn't want to wait an hour for it to bake in a water bath. And I certainly didn't want to wait another 2 hours for it to chill. There were a few no-bake options that I'd considered for a quick result, but even that wasn't fast enough. There were simply too many barriers between me and delicious cheesecake.


I'm not sure how I arrived at this decision, but I found myself pouring cheesecake batter onto the hot irons of my Belgian waffle maker. It didn't work at first. The recipe was all wrong. The cheesecake stuck to the irons and in the end it was heaped into a delicious mess onto a plate (we ate it of course, because warm cheesecake is irresistible). The formula needed some adjustments to "waffle" correctly. I searched online for help - because surely someone else had tried this - but no! By now the idea for waffled cheesecake had turned into an all-out obsession.

With just a few tweaks - success! I've eaten a lot of waffles in my day, but nothing beats warm waffled cheesecake hot off the press. Nothing. I even made you a little video to show you how easy it is.

(Email subscribers click here for the video.)


The recipe I developed makes exactly four Belgian waffles (in the video I'm only making a half-batch). This will generously serve four people. When the waffle is warm, the cheesecake is puffy and light, but after it is chilled it becomes more dense - just like regular cheesecake!


Stack a few waffle quarters together and you've basically got yourself a slice of cheesecake. All cheesecake accoutrement are welcome to this waffle party: salted caramel sauce and powdered sugar (pictured), strawberries, whipped cream, lemon curd, chocolate syrup - you name it!

My waffle maker is not fancy. This recipe was tested in a standard household Belgian-style waffle maker (this cheapo version,to be precise). I haven't tried this recipe in a regular waffle iron, but I feel sure it would work. Belgian waffle makers require more batter per waffle, so using a regular waffle maker would require less batter and yield a greater number of waffles.

Two important notes before you commence the waffling:
  • First, the small addition of flour to the batter was soft winter wheat all-purpose flour (I like White Lily). This addition held the cheesecake together well enough without compromising the cheesecake texture. If you can't find soft winter wheat flour, then use cake flour in its place.
  • Second, some waffle irons are prone to over heat the longer they're in use. My last waffle over-browned a bit, so if yours is prone to do this check it a minute or two before the indicator light goes off (or the buzzer times, or whatever your particular model does to indicate your waffle is done). 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Salted Greek Honey Nut Pie


Last week an ice storm hit our little corner of the world with great force. We lost our electricity and much of our heat source, and without a safe way to leave the house, well - we were cold. I spent most of last week being mad at myself because the cold made me feel tired and cranky and kind of like a weakling. I tried to work despite the frigid environment (I had baked a cake the day before, and my camera batteries were charged), but would eventually find my way back to huddling with two pups in a wool blanket.

As soon as power was restored I turned on the oven. I needed comfort food and to use some of the things in my freezer that were quickly thawing. One of those was a box of Filo dough.


I have strong feelings for pie, and I have even stronger affections for Baklava (see here and here). Put the two together, and I'm a goner. Completely. This pie is absolutely bursting with nutty goodness. It's a hearty stick-to-your-ribs kind of dessert, yet it retains lightness thanks to gossamer layers of Filo. It's a short-cut to Baklava, but with a warm cinnamon note. I wasn't sure I could finish a whole piece by myself, but I did (!) and it certainly revived my wilting energies.


One ingredient you mustn't underestimate or leave out in this recipe is salt (fine grain sea salt, if possible).  I know. I can get preachy about salt in desserts at times, but here it accentuates the pecans, pistachios and black walnuts like nothing else can. It's transformative!


Before I close, I'd like to share some news that had me jumping up and down on my tippy-toes! Out of thousands of entries, Better Homes and Gardens has chosen this site as one of their Top 10 Baking Blogs. (Side note: I'm pretty sure when my Mom reads this she's going to die of happiness. She's a BHG reader from way back!). There's another round of voting for "Reader Favorite", and you can vote for your favorites by clicking the icon below. I was thrilled to find myself in the company of so many baking bloggers that I love and admire. Warm and fuzzies all around (take that ice storm!).


http://www.bhg.com/blogs/bhg-blogger-awards/?ordersrc=rdbhg1108249


Related Posts with Thumbnails