October 28, 2008

No Tricks Please

Dear Neighborhood Kids,
I regret to inform you that I will be unable to provide treats for you this Halloween. Perhaps your parents have explained to you the state of our economy at the present time. While all of you little ghosts and goblins are off going door to door this Friday night I will be at work, and as I will be losing my job in just 3 weeks it is imperative that I do so. Please accept these Chocolate Nutella Cupcakes in lieu of Halloween candy. And please refrain from egging my house.
Happy Halloween,
Cinemon Girl

There was a lot of talk (and a lot of math) on the P&Q about the dryness issue of these cupcakes. I added 1 tsp of espresso to the batter, under baked them by about 4 minutes, and then piped in some nutella.

They were not overly most but they were dense and soft and I loved the glaze on top. I was on a tight schedule and had to forgo my grand decorating plans and stuck to a variety of Halloween sprinkles I had laying around.

Have a great Halloween everybody!

October 23, 2008

Waste Not

I should be sleeping. I don't have to be at work until 12pm and won't be getting home before midnight, but I'm up. And it's all Libby's fault- Libby's pumpkin that is. The bag of leftover pumpkin puree from last weeks' Pumpkin Muffins has been calling my name every time I walk by the fridge. I had no choice but to shut it up with a batch of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies. So much for being well rested. At least when I get tired later on I can eat them to stay awake. Thanks Libby.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies
Adapted from Cara's Cravings
4 tbsp melted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup flour
1/2 cup semisweet mini chips
Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8X8 pan. Beat butter and sugar together until well blended, then slowly beat in he egg, vanilla, salt and spices. Slowly add the flour until incorporated. With a spatula, fold in the chocolate chips. Bake for 25-27 minutes. If using an aluminum pan, bake on a preheated cookie sheet to make sure they will be done all the way through.

October 21, 2008

Fall Is For Pumpkins

Autumn has finally arrived, in its mild fashion, in Southern California. This weekend brought blue skies, a crispness to the air, tons on leaves littering my back yard. It was the perfect time to make this week's TWD, Pumpkin Muffins. I am a big pumpkin fan so I was really looking forward to making these. I decided to forgo the nuts and raisins and instead topped the muffins with the crumple topping from Dorie's recipe for Allspice Crumb Muffins.

The grocery store was strangely out of buttermilk, so I substituted light sour cream. I had enough batter left over to make mini muffins mixed with mini semisweet chocolate chips.

It's time for crisp fall afternoons.
It's time for flannel pajamas.
It's time for pumpkin muffins.

October 20, 2008

Rocking Our Crocks, Stewgate Results

I arrived at work with seconds to spare, Thai Coconut Soup intact. I ran upstairs to our Post Department on the 2nd Floor to drop off my entry, following the scent of our crock meals which thickened the air. Even actors auditioning on the first floor could smell something culinary was happening in the building. I left my crock on low and headed down to stage.

3 Hours later judging commenced and my fellow crockers and I anxiously awaited the results.Well, I didn't win, or place for that matter. But I received positive comments from a few people and there weren't any leftovers to take home. Ultimately, I was happy with results. As a matter of fact, I had enough ingredients left over for a 2nd batch...so I'm making some right now! Who knew crock was so addictive!

At The Crock of Dawn...Stewgate Begins

5:30am: The sky is still dark, and I am dragging myself out of bed- a typical Monday morning. Except, I don't have to be at work for 3 hours. I have to crock... Crock pot that is because today is Stewgate, my work's first annual Crock Pot Cook-Off. I have never crocked before and was extremely apprehensive. Not being a fan of stews and pot roasts, I never felt the need for a crock pot and truly found myself at a loss when it came to choosing a suitable recipe. Bowing out of the competition was not an option, they even bought crock pots for those of us without them! After days of research to find a dish that didn't look to me like it had already been eaten (hey, I'm being honest) I finally settled on a Thai Coconut Soup from A Year of CrockPotting. A spicy broth based soup of vegetable stock, coconut milk, lime, siracha, and ginger, this seemed like a recipe I could pull off without poisoning anyone and was something I would actually eat.

7:30am- Soup simmering on low, time to get ready for work. I'll be unplugging the crock for the short drive (man I hope it survives the trip)and then setting it up on my desk to finish cooking before the competition begins...Wish me luck!

October 14, 2008

Coffee Mate

Four years ago I began my first timid forays into the kitchen. I was working on a show that was wayyy into holiday gift giving and I realized the only way I could participate without blowing my bank account was to find a homemade gift that everyone could enjoy. A friend and co-worker, who was already an accomplished baker, suggested we make biscotti. We spent a full 12 hours destroying my kitchen making batches of almond, chocolate chip, and this crazy braided peppermint biscotti and putting them in little holiday bags. People at work loved it and it was such a hit I made them again and again all winter long for my friends and family. Making biscotti was truly my first baking success story. I love my tried and true recipe and was a little nervous to try a new recipe but hey, this is the new, adventurous in the kitchen me! I can change things up, throw caution to the wind, use cornmeal in my biscotti?!
Hooray for embracing change because I loved this recipe. The biscotti was crunchy but not too dry, with a delicate crumbly texture. I made the original almond recipe, modified slightly by using just 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.
Then I mixed sliced almonds into half of the batter, and cranberries and bittersweet chocolate chips in the the other. I did revert back to my old standby recipe on the second bake- reducing the oven temp to 325 and laying them on cut side up for 7 minutes on each side. I later melted some leftover chips and drizzled the chocolate over the cranberry/chip biscotti.

I have grand plans for this recipe this holiday season: pumpkin spice, hazelnut with nutella glaze, white chocolate cherry macaadamia...oh the possibilities! I'm gonna need a lot of those holiday bags!

October 5, 2008

Caramel Temptation

Tragically, having started a (gasp!) diet last Monday, I was more than apprehensive when it came to this week's Tuesday's With Dorie challenge, Caramel Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake. Would I be able to control myself with a recipe that is essentially the love child of a cake and a snickers bar? Overcompensating for my inability to indulge, I went a little overboard by making a mini cake exactly like the original recipe, and cupcakes with salted caramel frosting.

They look pretty good right?

Well....I've got to admit I found the cake a little dry. I usually underbake recipes because I prefer a fudgier texture but this cake went from jiggly and underdone to dry and overdone so quickly! I need to try this recipe again to figure out where I went wrong because it should have been fabulous. Even the cupcakes were dry and hardened to a rock-like consistency the second day. The best part of this experience was making the caramel. It took a long time to reach the right amber hue (it was dangerously close to burning when I took it off the heat) but it smelled and tasted terrific. I used half to make the Caramel Peanut Topping and used the rest to make Salted Caramel Frosting similar to the recipe found here.

This frosting is too die for! If it it weren't the the "D" word, I would have eaten straight out the bowl. Well, I did sneak a few spoonfuls- a girl's gotta have a little fun!