Category Archives: Dessert

Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

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I know cupcakes are a bit passé, but I don’t much care. These cupcakes had to happen. And they need to happen over and over. And now they need to happen in your kitchen. And then in your mouth.

I’m going to get straight to the point today. I can’t even handle how good these cupcakes are. R described them as possibly the best thing I have ever made (although didn’t he say that about the jalapeno beer corn bread? Maybe he is just easy to please… or wants to keep me happy so I keep baking…) and N suggested that they might be the best cupcake he has ever had. I tend to agree with both of them. I don’t have much nutritional insight to offer here… since, well… these are cupcakes. They are obviously vegan, and I used olive oil and applesauce in them… and that is about as nutritionally sound as they get. Except that the salted caramel frosting is actually made with anything but. The salted caramel sauce in it used the date caramel you saw in my baked oatmeal. I. Can’t. Get. Enough. I don’t even like frosting (I almost always wipe it off of my cupcakes), and I found myself dipping into the bowl with a spoon. It’s that good.

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Here’s the skinny/fat/whatever: high quality chocolate riding the silky olive oil express straight to your mouth. You can’t necessarily taste the olive oil, but I know its in there, and it makes me happy. They are super chocolaty and every bit as light. For something as decedent as these, you almost feel lighter after eating them. I bestowed a batch on my roommates this weekend, I bestowed another batch on my lab this morning, and another batch will be presented at book club tonight (for those of you that read this before book club tonight, get pumped). Now it’s your turn to spread the love!

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Double Chocolate Olive Oil Cupcakes w/ Salted Caramel Frosting

Inspired by In Jennie’s Kitchen

Materials:

  • 3 oz Bittersweet Chocolate, roughly chopped (I used Scharffen Berger 62% cacao semisweet)
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 3/4 cup Hot coffee
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon All Purpose Flour
  • 2/3 cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 6 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons Cider Vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • One batch of salted caramel frosting (see below)

Methods:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line cupcake tin with 12 paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, pour the hot coffee over the chocolate and cocoa powder and mix until melted and smooth (if all of the chocolate doesn’t melt, pop it in the microwave for about 30 seconds).
  3. In another bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda and whisk to combine.
  4. In a third bowl, combine the olive oil, apple sauce, cider vinegar, and vanilla and whisk to combine.
  5. Add half of the flour mixture and half of the liquids to the chocolate and mix for about 1 minute (the color should lighten slightly as the vinegar reacts with the baking soda).
  6. Add the remaining flour and liquids and mix for an additional 2 minutes.
  7. Fill prepared cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 18-20 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, remove from oven. Leave in the pan to cool for 5 minutes before turning out to cool completely on a wire rack.
  8. One the cupcakes have completely cooled, swirl the salted caramel frosting (I used a wilton 35 closed star tip) on as you see fit.
    • It is also acceptable to pipe frosting directly into mouth here.
  9. Optional: drizzle on some melted chocolate and sprinkle on some flakey sea salt.
  10. Enjoy!

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Salted Caramel Frosting

Materials:

For the Caramel Sauce

  • 10 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the Frosting

  • 1/4 cup nonhydrogenated vegan margarine
  • 1/4 cup nonhydrogenated vegan shortening
  • 1-2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 cup salted caramel sauce

Methods:

To Make the Caramel Sauce

  1. Place pitted dates in food processor and blend until they form a big ball.
  2. Add the milk, vanilla, and salt and process until smooth and creamy.

To Make the Frosting

  1. Bring the margarine and shortening to room temperature.
  2. Beat the margarine and shortening together in a stand up or hand mixer on high until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Reduce speed to low and slowly start adding in the sugar until desired consistency is reached (another 2 minutes).
    • It may take on the look of coarse sand when you first add the sugar, but keep beating and it will turn into fluffy frosting.
  4. Add the caramel sauce, more or less depending on more caramely you want it, and beat for an additional 2 minutes.

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Frozen Friday: Cherry Chocolate Chip

Even though the Bay Area weather is trying desperately to convince us otherwise… it is, in fact, summer and definitely ice cream season… so it is ice cream that I bring you, as promised. Since it is Friday, and I am feeling a little less eloquent that usual (does she think she is normally eloquent? I would give it high school English capability at best)… I am going to give you my assorted thoughts on ice cream and the like in bulleted form.

– I want to master the basics of ice cream before getting too crazy. I had some charming chocolate, I did the banana business… but I still need to master a solid fruit ice cream (solid as in quality, not solid as opposed to liquid fruit… umm i’m not sure liquid fruit exists...)

– Reckless R has gone and left me for a week. It has been horrible. He is never allowed to leave again. On the bright side, he left 14 bags of cherries in the fridge to rot. Thanks R. I had it in my head all week that I was going to use these cherries to make cherry ice cream. Unfortunately, by the time I got to them… many of them were covered in a lovely white fuzz. I sort of went through and picked out the ones that were still ok. Normally, this isn’t something I do… because even though I can’t see it, I know that the seemingly fine cherries have mold spores on them. Yuck. But I did it, because I was dead set on cherry ice cream, and I tend to do the things that I become fixated on. It was happening.

– I made these amazing cookies earlier this week. I didn’t even get to photograph them because they went that fast. But I will absolutely be making them again. They were amazing. Anyways, I had chocolate chips left over from the cookies, so the cherry ice cream just became cherry chocolate chip. This is a decision I was pleased with.

– I left work at 4 yesterday, and I was eating this ice cream by 5. In that hour, activities included (but are not limited to): cursing R for leaving so many rotten cherries, making this ice cream in its entirety, feeling bad about cursing R, cursing my drier for not drying the pants I wanted to wear last night, accepting it and just wearing wet clothes out last night, and photographing this ice cream.

– With ice cream making being so easy and quick, i’m not sure I will ever go out for ice cream again (blasphemy)! I can have homemade ice cream that is quicker than standing in line at Ici.

– This ice cream was so delicious. It was creamy and fruity and decadent. Cherry chocolate chip, i’ll have some right now.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Material:
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup pitted and chopped cherries
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
Methods:
  1. Combine all ingredients except the chocolate chips in a blender and blend until fully blended and it takes on a nice and solid purple color.
  2. Mix in chocolate chips.
  3. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacture’s instructions (mine churned for 15 minutes).
  4. Transfer to freezer for roughly 30 min to an hour to finish firming up.
  5. Enjoy!
    • Despite the fact that you may live in SF and are currently wearing a sweater.

Frozen Friday: Roasted Banana with Peanut Butter Swirl Ice Cream

Hello and the happiest of Fridays to you! I have had an interesting week filled with highs and lows, and I am still trying to make heads or tails of some of it. But at this moment, none of that matters because I am here to share ice cream with you. And I could think of no better way to end my week (unless, of course, I could convince you to come to my house to share delicious vegan ice cream on my balcony overlooking SF… just saying).

My list of ice creams to try for the summer is growing, and I am learning a bunch about ice cream making with every batch I make. For now I am sticking to simple and obvious[ly delicious] flavor combinations… but I look forward to playing with fun flavors and textures. An upcoming flavor that I am particularly excited about is going to be a spicy marg[arita] ice cream. Ya, that is happening.

Now, since I am starting with classic flavor combinations, the only logical next step from chocolate-coconut was banana-peanut butter. Oh, but how about I roast the bananas first and then use freshly ground peanut butter from Berkeley Bowl. Oh, no she didn’t! Or in the words of Ridiculous R, “who did that?!”

Seriously though, this ice cream was the bomb.com. And I would even go so far as to say it is good for you. And I am not talking “good for you as far as ice cream goes” (huge pet peeve of mine when people eat low fat ice cream and say things like “look, I am being somewhat healthy!”)… I am talking about this is a great afternoon pick me up snack type good for you. The only ingredients are coconut milk, banana, and peanut butter. In fact, I totally plan on having a bowl of this when I get home from work. And it is going to be awesome. So please, go make this ice cream, and then share it with as many friends as possible :-).

Yes that is my reflection in the spoon. And yes I am wearing an argyle sweater with lululemon yoga pants.
Roasted Banana and Peanut Butter Ice Cream
 
Materials:
  • 1 can coconut milk (full fat)
  • 2 bananas, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter

Methods:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. Toss banana slices with olive oil and maple syrup.
  3. Roast banana slices in oven for 30 minutes, stirring once half way through.
  4. Place bananas (and the syrup in the baking dish) with coconut milk in blender and blend thoroughly.
    • Taste at this point in time, if you want it a little sweeter than add a little bit of your sweetener of choice.
  5. Allow mixture to cool in refrigerator.
  6. Place mixture in ice cream maker and churn for 15 minutes.
  7. Add peanut butter to the ice cream maker and churn for additional 5 minutes.
  8. Transfer to freezer and allow to set up in freezer for about an hour.
  9. Enjoy!

Frozen Friday: Chocolate Coconut Graham Cracker

Have I told you lately how awesome my roommates are? If not, they are seriously awesome.

They are so strong. And handsome.

There, now you know.

One more awesome thing about the East Bay is our wonderful ice cream shops, specifically Ici and Tara’s. They are constantly thinking up wonderful combinations and putting things in ice cream that no one else would dare to. That being said, i’m not sure why inventive ice cream hasn’t taken off elsewhere… it’s so good! I have enjoyed flavors from avocado-lime, to sweet potato, to green chili and they have all been nothing short of amazing.

Which brings me back to my wonderful roommates. I have been talking lately about how fun it would be to make our own ice cream, and how I was thinking of buying an ice cream maker. WELL, they listened (must be a first for the male population)… and got me the most perfect ice cream maker for my birthday!!! They are the best. Period. End of story. So what if they now expect me to make them ice cream all the freaking time… that is ok, I do it with a smile because I love them so.

So without further ado, I bring to you… Frozen Fridays! I will post a fun new ice cream recipe every Friday. I think it would be really fun if I could get some feedback on this… so if you have any quirky ice cream ideas, please comment with them!

We are going to kick off this series with some chocolate-coconut-graham cracker ice cream that was
seriously the bomb diggity. This ice cream was birthed via a texting conversation that went something like this:

me: Also, gonna make chocolate ice cream tonight
me: Game time decision: just put graham crackers in my cart for the ice cream
me: It’s happening. Some coconut flakes may end up in it as well…
R: Omg. Best roommate ever!

I would describe to you the scene that took place when R and I first brought those chilled spoons to our mouths… but i’m not sure that is appropriate for the internets. Oh, I haven’t mentioned this yet… but all of my ice cream will be 100% vegan and coconut milk based. And wow, this last batch was so unbelievably decadent… I really have no idea why anyone would want to make this laden with dairy and refined sugar. I used high quality cacao power and creamy coconut milk. And it was amazing, simply put.

Chocolate-Coconut-Graham Cracker Iced Cream

Materials:

  • 1 14 oz can coconut milk (full fat)
  • 1/3 cup cacao power (I used the good stuff)
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup crushed graham crackers

Methods:

  1. Combine the coconut milk, cacao power, and maple syrup in a blender and blend until mixed thoroughly.
  2. Freeze according to ice cream maker’s instructions.
    • Mine calls for pouring the mixture into the already churning frozen barrel and churning for 20 minutes, when it will take on a soft serve consistency.
    • 15 minutes into freezing, add in the coconut flakes and the graham crackers.
  3. Let set in freezer for an additional hour or two to firm up.
  4. Enjoy!
    • Pleasurable noises are impossible to avoid, so just enjoy completely and let it happen.

Man food

Warm weather has been filling the spring air lately, and BBQs are filling my calendar. I was searching for something to bring to a department BBQ, when I stumbled across jalapeño beer cornbread. Could there be anything more perfect for a BeerBBQ?

I’m going to be upfront with you, I cheated a little bit. Trader Joe’s was conveniently on my errand route Sunday morning, so I stopped in there hoping to get the ingredients for the cornbread.  I should have known that TJ’s wouldn’t have cornmeal, though. I grabbed the jalapeños, I grabbed some honey… and then I wandered aimlessly, whilst mustering the energy to add another stop on my way home to get cornmeal and thinking, “well this is inconvenient.”

Then I passed the boxed mixes section. I mean, it wouldn’t hurt to at least look at the box of cornbread mix, right? Ok, so the ingredients listed are basically flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and sugar… so it isn’t so much a box mix as someone just already mixed my dry ingredients together for me. How nice of them?!

So there you have it. I doctored up a Trader Joe’s cornbread mix to make this cornbread.

MOVING ON. What makes this cornbread truly amazing is the doctoring up… the beer and the jalapeños, to be more specific. Seriously, this manly hunk of bread basically left the toilet seat up and then sat on my couch farting. The beer adds a super interesting flavor, while the jalapeños give it a really nice kick that sort of lingers on your lips. Another huge perk? Check out that ingredient list: just about 5 ingredients (most of which I know you have or can easily have), uses a store-bought mix, and has jalapeños in it… you can totally handle that!

Not convinced yet? When I slathered a piece with honey and handed it to rejoicing R, he seriously just stood there smiling at me for a good 5 minutes, sort of dumbfounded by the epiphany that was occurring in his mouth at that moment. He then spent literally the rest of the day talking about this cornbread. Well, at least when he wasn’t suggesting we sneak cinnabons into a movie we were going to see that night… and telling me how he used to pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to bring to parties in college.

Anyways, bring this to your next social gathering, and I promise everyone will love you for it!

But aren’t I your honey?!
Jalapeño Beer Cornbread
Inspired by Cosmo Cookie 

Materials:
  • 1 box cornbread mix (Trader Joe’s, preferably)
  • 1 flax egg
  • 1/2 cup beer (I used Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye, my current favorite)
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and finely diced
  • honey (optional, but recommended)
Methods:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8×8 square pan.
  2. Mix together the egg, beer, soy milk, oil, and jalapeños.
  3. Add the cornbread mix and stir just until moistened.
  4. Pour into pan and place in the oven for about 40 minutes.
  5. Drizzle with honey and enjoy!

Warm New England Love

I’m not going to lie, the California weather definitely factored into my decision to move out here. I didn’t miss the snow this past winter one bit (although Boston temperatures this past winter rivaled the Bay Area). That being said, I am, and always will be, a New England girl at heart. And you know what? Nothing beats a warm New England spring day.

Rockport, MA: Weather? Warm and sunny. Transportation? Motorcycle. Company? The best :-).

I have been a bit quiet on here this past week (my apologies), and it is because I was off enjoying some of that warm (dare I say hot) New England weather! I took a long weekend and made the trip home for my niece’s 6th birthday and Mother’s day. I had the absolute loveliest of weekends! It was 80 and sunny all weekend, I spent one of the days with my niece, got to celebrate Mother’s day with my wonderful mama and family, played scrabble with my dad, and went for a glorious motorcycle ride with the boy. I ate plenty of delicious food, from cupcakes to my mom’s famous grilled vegetables to tofu dogs in Rockport, and got plenty of loving from my kitties.

Here is my trip home in pictures:

My kitties 🙂
My niece (and a little bit of mama) 🙂
My nephew (and a little bit of dad and brother) 🙂

OK! Onto the food!

My parents miss having their personal chef at home, so I like to cook for them when i’m home. For dinner on Monday, I made mushroom bourguinon, a spring salad, and then I made the following lemon-strawberry muffins (because my dad loves lemon desserts).

This was all a super long intro for what is ultimately a post about muffins. Sorry.

A little disclaimer: while these muffins were gorgeous, fun to make, and pretty tasty… there was something a little bit off about them. I may have slightly under baked them (the tops were starting to brown, but then the inside was still a little mushy). But I can’t tell if they were, in fact, under baked, or if it was the fresh strawberries and lemon curd inside that made it seem that way. Either way, the flavor was absolutely delicious, but it was a bit doughy and kind of stuck to your teeth. And I don’t like when things stick to my teeth. Also, there is avocado in the recipe, which I was intrigued by, and it worked… but it turned the muffins green. Anyways, I would be interested in trying these muffins again with some changes… because the idea and flavor is definitely a winner (of the chicken dinner variety).

First of all, check out these ingredients:

My lovely mama acted as my hand model 🙂
How could they not be delicious?

Lemon-Filled Strawberry Muffins

Materials:
For the lemon curd

  • 3/8 cup non-dairy milk of choice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 3/4 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

For the muffins

  • 1 scant cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 avocado, pitted
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpous flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
Methods:
To prepare the lemon curd

  1. Combine all of the ingredients except the lemon zest in a small pot over medium heat.
  2. Stir constantly until the the mixture begins to thicken, maybe 3-5 minutes. 
    • Be careful not to burn!
  3. Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest.
  4. Allow to cool to room temperature for about 5 minutes, and then cover and refrigerate while you prepare the muffins.

To prepare the muffins

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line muffin pan with paper liners or spray with cooking spray.
  3. Puree the avocado, milk, and water together and then stir in the vanilla.
  4. Mix together the flour, sugar, and baking powder.
  5. Gently mix the wet ingredients into the dry.
  6. Fold in the strawberries and lemon zest.
  7. To assemble the muffins, fill the muffins tins as follows:
    • 1 scoop of muffin batter
    • 1 dollop of lemon curd
    • 1 scoop of muffin batter
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  9. Enjoy!

Grandma’s pancakes

It doesn’t get much better than Sunday brunch. It is the one meal of the week that never has to be rushed. You can push aside your brunch plates and play Words with Friends/Enemies across the table from each other, or leave the clean up for later after you play some video games. You can sit in a comfortable silence with your loved one over your emptied plates while reading a book, pausing only to discuss interesting points you have just learned. Put all that stuff on a balcony overlooking SF?  It is one of my favorite things in the world.

When I was little, my dad would always sit in bed on Sunday mornings and play cards (solitaire). With real cards (the feel of which i’m sure many of you have long forgotten). My task was to bring him his coffee in bed. The walk from the kitchen, up the stairs, to my parent’s bedroom seemed like the longest walk ever. It would take me 5 minutes to walk up the stairs alone, to ensure no spillage. When I got a little older, I graduated to Grandma’s pancakes. This recipe that I share with you today is probably the first thing I ever learned to make. My mom would often make Grandma’s pancakes (which are basically crepes) on Sunday mornings, which her mom used to make for her when she was little, and I was eager to learn this traditional recipe. Over time, my mom taught me the feel of the batter and the turn of the pan, so that I could then take over the roll of Sunday morning Grandpa’s pancake maker. A roll I took great pride in filling.

These pancakes can be rolled up with a fruit filling…
Or enjoyed with jam inside…
Or just drizzled with syrup (the fake stuff, of course)…
This is a tradition that I have been sharing with loved ones ever since. It is one of those things that I just know how to make. I have no idea what the recipe is, I just pour the proper ingredients into a mixing bowl until is has the right feel. But this morning I measured everything as I threw it in, so that I can share this recipe with you. So that you can then make this for your kids, who will then make it for their kids.
Grandma’s Pancakes
From grandma, to my mom, to me
(One small confession before I share with you is that I veganized it, because the original recipe isn’t vegan. BUT, I am happy to share that it really doesn’t change them.) 
 
Materials:
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed (1 egg replacement)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 scant cup flour
Methods:
  1. Mix the ground flax seed with the water and set aside for a few minutes until it gels up a bit.
  2. Whisk together the milk with the flax “egg.”
  3. Add the oil, vanilla, and salt and whisk to combine.
  4. Slowly whisk in the flour, a little bit at a time, until it takes on a slightly thickened batter consistency.
  5. Heat up a small lightly greased skillet over medium heat.
  6. Pour in a bit of batter, and while pouring, pick up and swirl the pan until you have just coated the whole bottom of the pan.
  7. Cook over medium heat for 1 minute.
  8. Carefully flip (with a spatula) and cook on the other side for about 20 seconds.
  9. Transfer pancake to aluminum foil while you cook the rest.
  10. Roll up with jam, fruit, syrup… whatever strikes your fancy, really.
  11. Enjoy!