Thursday, December 29, 2011

southern charm

I love southern cooking.  Or really, I love a dessert that doesn't hold back. I also love a dessert that someones mom and grandma used to make and that while there are a million different ways to make it- everyone has their way of doing so. The right way; how they remember it.

What I love about it, besides all the butter and bold flavors, is the process. While I grew up as far from the south as you can get, I understand the feeling of having something taste just so, perfect not only because of the ingredients and recipe, but because of the memory.  I feel this way about a lot of things I've made and shared- blondies, banana bread, peanut butter cookies- and don't even get me started on German Chocolate Cake....

So here is my first attempt at bread pudding.  Crispy, buttery bread, creamy sweet custard, and whiskey soaked raisins.

The jury is still out, but it made my house smell delicious and I think that's a start.  And hey, if you live in Seattle it is featured as a special at The Sexton  - so you can let me know how it stands up.

Bourbon Bread Pudding
Adapted from Cooks Country Cookbook 

1 baguette, torn into one inch pieces (around 9 cups)
1 cup whole milk
3 cups cream
8 egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup bourbon
1/4 dark molasses
1 1/2 packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated white sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 450 and spread torn bread pieces in a single layer on a parchment covered baking sheet. Bake until toasted, around 10 minutes rotating the sheet pan half way through cooking time. Remove bread, let cool and reduce oven heat to 300 degrees.

Add 1/2 cup bourbon and raisins to small sauce pan. Heat over medium high heat until bourbon begins to bubble. It should take around 2-3 minutes to get the raisins plump. Remove from head and strain out raisins, keeping bourbon and raisins in separate bowls.

In a large bowl combine milk, cream, egg yolks, vanilla, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk to combine.   Whisk in bourbon from plumping raisins and 1/4 cup warm dark molasses.
Mix in bread toasted bread and let sit until bread is soft- approximately 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the bread to absorb some of the custard.

Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking pan and pour half of the bread custard mix into the pan. Top with raisins and then add the remaining bread mix. Cover with tin foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile mix granulated sugar, cinnamon, and butter together in a small bowl until you have small pea size dollops of sugary butter.  After pudding bakes for 45 minutes, remove tin foil, top with butter crumble and make another 20 minutes with out tin foil.  Turn up oven temp to 400 and cook for 2 more minutes, or until the top bread is crispy and golden brown.

Let cook for 30 minutes. Serve with ice cream or on its own.  This dessert also goes well with cowboy boots, large antique silver spoons, and a tall glass of bourbon lemonade. Just saying...

Monday, December 26, 2011


Here's my secret:

I have this box, I keep hidden, with money I set aside from work. It's like a rainy day fund, but in my case it's a: plane ticket, kitchenaid, someday I'll get health insurance, blow torch fund.

It's not very big yet, but I've definitely cashed in and it wasn't to get healthcare...

Meet my new boyfriend. It may just be the happiest day of my life...

The best part about having my kitchenaid at home for the holidays is that interms of relationships go - he's pretty unflappable.  Also, it's nice to know no one is gonna judge you for eating a slice of


for breakfast while watching Charlie Brown.

Or for bringing your own hot coca mix, complete with mini marshmellows, to a coffee shop

The wheels in my head are already spinning of ways to ring in the new year with sweet treats and perfectly mixed confections.  What it comes down to though is my new Kitchenaid makes me smile-- and really, isn't that what Christmas is all about?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Boozy GingerSpice Cake

I couldn't think of a single other tittle for this post. It is what it is.

Boozy. Ginger. Spiced. Cake.

Happy Holidays everyone.

First I made an adaptation of ginger spice cake from 101 cookbooks recipe for Black Sticky Ginger Cake  While her's  looked amazing, I made some adaptations and came up with-

Ginger Spice Cake 
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour 
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 
1 1/2 baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon 
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 ground cloves 
3/4 cup black strap molasses 
1 cup dark brown sugar 
3/4 cup real honey 
3 eggs (at room temp) 
1 cup butter 
1/2 cup milk 

First you melt the butter with the sugars and mix. Set aside until just warm to the touch. Add in eggs and milk, stirring well between each egg. Finally stir in flour mixture.  I used mini bundt pans because I am obsessed and wanted individual cakes, but if just making for a group use a loaf pan or large bundt pan. This cake doesn't slide out very easily so be forewarned- it is easiest to eat sliced directly from the pan.

 Now for the booze...

I've taken a strong liking towards boozy desserts lately.  This ginger cake is no exception. When I first made the cakes I had no intention of making a glaze, but after fussing with them long enough to get them out of the bunt pans, they looked a little lacking.  So, I went for my fall back - bourbon, maple, lemon glaze.  It's super easy to make- just add a couple splashes of bourbon and a teaspoon of maple extract to your basic glaze of powdered sugar, brown sugar, and fresh squeezed lemon juice.

I topped mine off with powdered sugar and there you have it.  Bourbon-y, maple-y, molasses-y goodness.

I'm going to be handing these out with my other Christmas treats: Bourbon Corn Cookies and Salted Ginger Molasses Cookies. 

Merry Christmas everyone- I'll be wishing for snow....

Saturday, December 17, 2011

the simplest of things

no bakes.

I've been making these for so long I almost forgot about them.  In fact there are only a few things I feel confident I can make in my sleep - and even after all these years I can still remember the page number of the cookbook I used to first make these delights.

I started making them in high school, which carried into college where they remained my favorite thing about exam week, all nighters, and last minute papers. Sure, I messed with the recipe over the years - attempting to get the same effect with less ingredients,  perfecting the exact measure of liquid to sugar ratio, or experimenting with chocolate versus purely peanut butter cookies but in truth, these cookies are best enjoyed how I first remember them.

It's all about texture with no bakes.  The sugar and butter combine to make an almost velvety fudge like consistency and the oats add just the right about of texture.  Basically, they are like crack. But better.  It's been ages since I've made them, but I'm glad they're back.

No Bakes 
Adapted from Forum Feasts Cookbook and the St. Jay High School Cafeteria 

2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup butter
4 tablespoons cocoa powder (omit if  you want just peanut butter no bakes)
1/2 cup milk (I often use almond milk, which works the same)

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (no specific kind needed, just avoid any brand that is grainy. I prefer the no stir kind)
3 cups quick oats

Combine first 4 ingredients in a sauce pan, gradually brining up the heat until mixture comes to a rolling boil.  Let boil for at least 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in peanut butter until smooth. Add in oats and stir.

Drop cookies onto parchment lined baking sheet with a cookie scoop with around a 1/4 cup capacity. Let cool to set.

Eat. Eat. Eat.

Simply delicious and ridiculously sweet you may just get hooked. And if you are in the Seattle area and need a fix- stop by The Sexton on Ballard Ave, where they'll be on the menu!

Here's to a new, or old, standby. Cheers...

Friday, December 9, 2011

I've been missing it

New England.

And when I get a little homesick I like to bake. Specifically, I like to bake with my favorite ingredients- the one's that remind me most of home.

Corn, Maple Syrup, and Whiskey.  I guess I could have grown up in the south too, but I would have missed the snow.

Also, my sister is in town and if ever there was a reason to bake something with Vermont in mind, she would be the reason.  She is in town for a science conference and to buy her wedding dress. Both of which to me, are reasons to celebrate with some good old fashioned corn cookies.

I love corn cookies.  They are simple with a touch of sweetness and an innate saltiness that makes them the perfect cookie for snacking, or for tea.  While I've often had corn cookies with some sort of lemony sweet frosting, I decided to take my cookies north and whip up a brown sugar-maple-bourbon glaze.

Cornmeal Cookies
3/4 cup butter
34 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

Bourbon Maple Glaze 

1 1/2 powdered sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
Juice of one large lemon
2 slugs of bourbon (I used Jim Bean)
1 teaspoon maple extract

Whisk ingredients together until you have a light brown, thick, royal icing. Glaze partially cooled cookies.

Eat.  Remember, it's not 40 below and it's not snowing, and enjoy.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I've felt this way for years


I am gonna go out on a limb here, but I think these may just be the best go to dessert there ever was.  A hybrid cookie, brownie, pie.... yes please.

As a kid blondies were much more common in our house than say your typical chocolate brownie.  To me they represent the best of all worlds. The proverbial cake that you can eat too.

As great, and easy as they are, in all honesty I don't remember the last time I've had a blondie. It just may have been a decade, a dessert lapse I find truly tragic.  Don't worry, I fully intend on bringing them back.

I found this particular recipe in One Sweet Cookie by Tracey Zabar. I of course had to make my own adaptations to account both for nostalgia and newly acquired dessert aesthetic.  The biggest change I made was swapping Ms. Zabar's pecans for chopped walnuts.  As far as I am concerned this is a must. Required really. Blondies have walnuts and that's just the way it is. Sorry pecans, but they're just a better nut.

Secondly, instead of regular bittersweet chocolate chips I used a combination of semi-sweet chips and bittersweet bars.  Personally I like the combination of bitter and semi, as well as the texture difference between chips and chunks.

Finally, rather than use a typical square brownie pan I baked my blondies in a 9 inch deep circle pan.  Thus, accounting for my newest obsession with pies, tarts, and all things round and delicious.

So in honor of a mother who instilled in me a love for a far superior brownie, here you go...

Blondies or (cookie pie) 
Adapted from One Sweet Cookie 

1 3/4 chopped and toasted walnuts
2 cups golden brown sugar 
8 ounces butter
2 large eggs 
1 tablespoon Madagascar Vanilla extract 
2 cups All-Purpose Flour 
2 teaspoons baking powder 
1 teaspoon salt 
8 ounces chopped bitter sweet chocolate 
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 350.  Place parchment paper on cookie sheet, line with chopped walnuts and put in oven for 5-9 minutes or until toasted.  Melt butter in saucepan.  Measure brown sugar into bowl.  Pour melted butter on to sugar and beat. Add in eggs and vanilla. Beat again. Add in flour, salt, and baking powder, and mix again just until incorporated. Fold in walnuts and chocolate.  Spread evenly into a pan lined with parchment paper. Bake 45 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool.  Wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Cut into wedges.

Eat. Enjoy. But please refrain from mocking brownies too much after trying these.