Category Archives: baking

thank you frank bruni

i certainly hope everyone had a chance to glance over Frank Bruni’s coverage on Seattle’s fine cuisine in the Times a few weeks back. boy did he hit the nail on the head, talking up some of our best picks including a few of my favorites – Walrus and the Carpenter, Revel, Tavern Law and Staple & Fancy.

we are quite lucky here in Seattle to have such a variety of model restaurants to stomach. if you haven’t had a chance, it’s certainly worth a read.

next up: cake balls!


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tiramisu cheesecake

happy birthday [to me]! i celebrated yet another birthday last night and am rather embarrassed to admit i slaved away on my own birthday cake. honestly i’m not a big birthday fan, so why did i need to make myself a cake? we had already celebrated with friends on Saturday, indulging in italian pizzas and coconut cream pies.

but Nick thoughtfully prepared an earth-shattering dinner menu for Monday that we planned to consume until incapacitation, after which i would probably have been better off falling asleep. instead i topped it off with a slice of irresistible. so i felt it would only be appropriate to make my contributions to the meal via a celebratory dessert finale.

the menu? short rib bone marrow homemade ravioli sprinkled with garlic chips courtesy of the chef [seen below], followed by tiramisu cheesecake from ricotta and marscarpone courtesy of the apprentice.

i actually intended to make a traditional tiramisu, but it turns out lady fingers are far more difficult to find that one would think [high demand, mother’s day weekend?]… three markets later, i decided to go for a chocolate cookie crumb cheesecake with an espresso twist.

the end result was surprisingly so much better than tiramisu. it was moist and creamy, but not too heavy. since my cheesecake cracked [womp, womp] i covered the top with a plain marscarpone whipped cream frosting, filling in all of the crevices. i then added the chocolate marscarpone whipped cream rim and ground dark chocolate, the perfect amount of bittersweet.

i may just have to make this birthday cake business a tradition.

tiramisu cheesecake [espresso cheesecake]

16 oz cream cheese

4 oz marscarpone

1/2 c ricotta

1 c sugar

2 eggs

1 shot espresso

2 tbsp Bailey’s Irish cream or Kahlua

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 c chocolate graham crackers

3 tbsp butter

4 tbsp flour

pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

in your food processor, blend melted butter and lightly smashed graham crackers. pour mixture into the bottom of your 9″ springform pan and press into the bottom in an even layer. set aside. mix cream cheese, marscarpone, and ricotta on high until light and fluffy. add sugar slowly until combined. reduce blender speed and add eggs one at a time until just mixed. add espresso, vanilla, irish cream until combined. gently fold in flour slowly to avoid clumping. pour mixture through a food mill into the prepared pan. wrap pan with foil tightly and place into a water bath in the oven. bake for 60 minutes.

marscarpone frosting

1 c heavy whipping cream

8 oz marscarpone

1 c confectioners sugar

1/4 c cocoa powder [optional for chocolate frosting].

whip in your stand mixture until thoroughly combined. spread evenly over cooled cheesecake.

cover cheesecake with your choice of chocolate shavings, fine chocolate, cocoa powder, or chocolate covered espresso beans. allow to cool in the refrigerator for at least two hours prior to serving. enjoy!

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chocolate black raspberry cupcakes; champagne frosting

easter weekend and book club tonight. my first book club ever. i’ve never considered going in the past, because i figure if i don’t have time to read the book – why go? as if reading the book was a mandatory requirement of attendance or something. i’ve since been informed ‘book club’ is more a rendition of Sex In the City – a total excuse for a room full of ladies to drink wine and indulge in delicious treats while ranting and raving about everything under the sun. thus, my cupcakes and i will be there.

as much as i am craving chocolate peanut butter cake – i needed to make something a bit more ‘girly’. in lieu of Easter pastels, and managing to include my daily dose of chocolate, raspberry and champagne fit the bill.

why chocolate stout? well to be honest, the stout (such as Guinness) complements dark chocolate so well that the end result is simply a richer moister chocolate cupcake.

critic approved!

chocolate cupcake

1 c stout (such as Guinness)

1 stick unsalted butter

3/4 c pressed cocoa powder

1/2 c canola or grapeseed oil

1/3 c sour cream

1/3 c milk

2 eggs

2 c flour

2 c sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

chocolate raspberry ganache

6 oz dark chocolate (high quality)

1 c heavy cream

1/2 c seedless black raspberry preserve

raspberry whipped cream frosting (optional)

1 c heavy whip cream

1/3 c seedless black raspberry preserves

6 tbsp powdered sugar

champagne frosting

2 sticks unsalted butter

4 tbsp champagne

3 c powdered sugar

2 tbsp heavy cream

pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. line 24 muffin cups with your favorite cupcake liners.

melt butter in a sauce pan. add oil, cocoa powder, and stout. whisk until thoroughly combined. let cool.

sift flour, sugar, soda, and salt together. in a separate bowl, beat sour cream, milk and eggs. add stout sauce. slowly fold in flour mixture until just combined. pour batter into your cupcake liners, filling each 3/4 way to top. bake for 15-17 minutes, until the centers are clean on a toothpick. let cool.

while the cupcakes are baking, chop dark chocolate chunks and put in a heat proof bowl or double boiler. heat heavy cream for ganache in a sauce pan until just bubbling at the edges. pour over heavy cream over the chocolate chunks and stir until chocolate is melted (may need to heat over double broiler. add raspberry preserves until smooth.  allow to cool for a few minutes, but not too long that the chocolate begins to settle.

using an apple corer, gently remove the centers of the cupcakes. push the corer down until it feels like you are about 1/2 way to the bottom.  fill with ganache. allow to cool completely.

now, you do not need to make both frosting recipe’s, so take your pick.

raspberry whipped cream frosting:

whip on high heavy cream, preserves, and powdered sugar for 5 minutes or until peaks are forming. fill plastic sandwich bag or a piping bag. frost cupcakes in the design of your choice!

champagne frosting:

whip butter and heavy cream until light and fluffy. begin adding powdered sugar 1 tsbp at a time. whip on high until powdered sugar is fully incorporated. alternate between powdered sugar and champagne. using a piping bag to frost your cupcakes – enjoy!


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pots de creme

traditionally, pots de creme (pronounced ‘poh duh crem’) would be baked and served in individual ramekins. in lieu of attempting to simplify the prep, the ‘no bake’ version sounded like the way to go. since we’re skipping the baking, i’m piggy backing off of Ree Drummond’s fab idea to class these little treats up in martini glasses.

i have to say, we indulged in an incredibly delicious home cooked meal last night. My boyfriend treated us to duck ‘farrotto’ cooked with parmesan brodo – simply amazing, which was followed by rich pots de creme [and a long walk rest on the couch].

there was one glitch to the recipe. six individual pots de creme’s, two people… maybe next time i will half the recipe? nahh.

chocolate espresso pots de creme

12 oz mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (high quality chocolate is best)

5 eggs

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1/4 c heavy cream

8 oz Americano or hot coffee [keep heated until ready to incorporate]

pinch of salt

place chocolate chips in the blender. crack raw eggs over the chocolate chips. add vanilla and heavy cream. begin blending. slowly add hot coffee (which will melt the chocolate and help set the eggs), and continue blending for 1-2 minutes. The mixture will grow as the eggs expand. chocolate will be bubbly on top when you are done blending. pour mixture into the serving glasses of your choice. chill for 3 hours.

vanilla bean whipped cream

one vanilla bean

1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

5 tbsp powdered sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

slice open the bean pod lengthwise. remove beans from the vanilla bean pod with a spoon or a knife. add to heavy whipping cream and let stand (refrigerated overnight for best results). add powdered sugar and vanilla extract and whip until peaks begin to form. dollop a healthy spoonful atop each pots de creme just before serving.



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blueberry coffee cake

i had never cared much for traditional coffee cake. until, after a dozen trips to the local bakery [essential baking company] and Nick raving each time that their coffee cake was nothing but delicious, i finally gave it a second shot.

oh my. i shouldn’t have. it was so moist, melting away in my mouth. i’ve since been committed to depicting what they knew that i didn’t.

the final product? a crumb light, butter heavy perfect balance between cake and breakfast. something that doesn’t say ‘I am 50% crumb topping’, and holds shape when sliced into individual wedges.

a must try for anyone looking for that perfect easy breakfast. whether you’re making it for one to accompany you at the office M-F [me], or you’re making the family breakfast on Saturday morning, this cake stands a chance against local competition.

coffee cake

3/4 c unsalted butter

2 c sugar

1/2 c brown sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 c sour cream [or plain yogurt + 1 tsp baking soda]

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 1/2 c flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 c blueberries

streusel topping

1/4 c brown sugar

1/2 c flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

3 tbsp unsalted butter [cold]

beat butter & sugar until light and fluffy. add eggs and continue to beat with an electric mixer. once combined add vanilla, sour cream, and lemon juice. in a separate bowl sift flour, baking powder, and baking soda. combine flour mixture into egg mixture 1 cup at a time.

spread half of the mixture into a 9″ springform pan. sprinkle blueberries evenly over dough. add remaining mixture and spread evenly.

add all ingredients for streusel into a food processor and pulse 5-10 times until combined. sprinkle crumb topping evenly over dough and press gently into the mixture.

bake for 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees. test center with a toothpick. once the toothpick comes out clean, remove from oven and let stand on a wire rack in pan for 15 minutes.  remove springform, slice, and enjoy!


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chocolate peanut butter cupcakes

last night, my roommate returned home with a box of twelve Trophy cupcakes, strictly reserved for her trip to the east coast to visit her ‘friend’. ugh – how unfair. i needed to have one. unfortunately, making one measly cupcake isn’t very practical now, is it? certainly a hefty downside to all of this baking is the urge to consume it all [hefty, hefty downside…]. the excuse: life is short.

so i thought, ‘i should probably go for a quick jaunt’ with the fat mildly overweight pooch tonight [and feeling slightly guilty about the three cupcakes i’d managed to consume in a 24hr period]. preparing for a run is somehow a very chaotic event in my house. the ultimate wiggle-whine out of Jeti begins about 10 minutes before I’m even thinking about slipping my running shoes on, and thankfully ends as soon as the door opens.

the run started out solid – some Girl Talk on the iPod, good weather… until about a mile in when i realized my foot was damp. that’s weird, i didn’t think my feet were this sweaty. lucky me. they aren’t. Jeti apparently confused my leg with his beloved fire hydrant. well that was it, tonight’s run wasn’t meant to be – cupcakes or no cupcakes. 

chocolate paired with peanut butter is a staple in this house. you really cannot go wrong with this happily married couple. unless you plan to give it away [sin]. or perhaps if you’re allergic to peanuts [pity]. peanut butter brownies, peanut butter & chocolate ice cream, peanut butter & chocolate crepes… endless possibilities.

this is only the beginning.

chocolate ganache cupcakes; peanut butter frosting

cake batter

2 c flour

2 sticks butter

¾ c unsweetened cocoa powder

2 c sugar

1 ½ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

2 eggs

2/3 c sour cream

1 c milk

preheat oven to 350 degrees.

warm milk & butter on stove, stirring constantly [ do not boil ]. add cocoa powder and whisk until fully blended. turn off heat and set aside. sift flour, baking soda, and salt. in a separate bowl, beat eggs, sour cream and sugar together for 1 minute. slowly add flour mixture to egg mixture. lastly, once cooled, fold in chocolate mixture.

fill 24 cupcake liners ¾ of the way full. bake for 15-17 minutes.

ganache filling

¾ c heavy whipping cream

2 tbsp unsalted butter

8 ounces of chocolate

melt 2 tbsp butter in a sauce pan. add 3/4 c heavy whipping cream until warm. add 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate. warm and stir until ganache is smooth and creamy. remove from heat and allow to cool.

remove cupcakes from the oven. allow to cool for one minute. transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack and let sit for 15 minutes. once cooled, remove the centers of the cupcake using an insert, or if you have an apple corer, i find that very handy! try to remove 3/4 of the way through the cupcake. taste centers for deliciousness.

fill centers of cupcakes with ganache.

peanut butter frosting

1 c peanut butter

10 tbsp unsalted butter

2 c confectioners sugar

1 tsp vanilla

3-4 tbsp of milk [as needed]

whip peanut butter and butter together. add vanilla. add confectioners sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. alternate between sugar and milk as needed to keep the frosting moist. beat for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy. once ganache has set, frost cupcakes as you please! i used a pastry tip to make little blossoms. refrigerate cupcakes for up to 2 days. enjoy!

warning: dangerously delicious.

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cocoa banana loaf

for all of you chocolate banana gurus, this is breakfast on sunday morning with a cup of tea and a good book. or indulge in this dessert topped with a banana frozen custard to accompany your post-dinner movie before returning to the office in approximately 9 hours. yes, this is it.

what this is not is the dessert Fido has in mind for sunday morning [or sunday night]. well maybe they think it is, but… warning: it’s not.

baking with cocoa powder takes me right back to the moment i found kona [head fully enclosed between the two zippers of my gym bag] chowing down on a plastic Tupperware full of fresh made double chocolate brownies. the moment that had me running to the computer to find out how many ounces of theobromine a dog can consume before poisoned at fatal levels (which by the way is 0.02 ounces per/pound of body weight, or ½ ounce of bakers chocolate for my little heat slut). 5 minutes later, we were out the door to the only open emergency vet in the city.

of course she was A.O.K. –  after a stomach pump and a hefty unexpected vet bill. let’s be honest, i couldn’t t dare make those double chocolate brownies again… but i will share the recipe at the end of this post.

chocolate banana bread

2 ½ c flour

1tsp baking powder

1 ¼ tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

4 tbsp butter

¼ cup of natural unsweetened cocoa powder

1 c sugar

¼ c brown sugar

½ sour cream or plain yogurt

3 eggs

1 tbsp of milk

1 cup of chocolate chips

2-3 bananas

preheat oven to 325˚. sift flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cocoa powder together. in a separate bowl beat butter, eggs, and sugar. add sour cream, yogurt, and milk. using your paddle mixer, combined flour mixture with the egg mixture slowly.

once just blended, add mashed bananas and chocolate chips. transfer to a well greased bread pan. bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick confirms the bread is thoroughly cooked. remove from oven, cool in bread pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. slide a knife down the sides of the bread pan to loosen. gently turn the bread pan over to release the loaf from the pan. Serve slices warm with butter or ice cream.

deadly double chocolate brownies

1 c butter

4 oz bittersweet chocolate

1 3/4 c sugar

4 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 c flour

1/4 c cocoa powder

2/3 c chopped nuts (optional)

preheat oven at 350˚. prepare a 9×12 pan, greasing thoroughly. in a medium bowl, beat sugar & eggs with an electric mixer for several minutes, until whipped thoroughly (recommend 4mins). while your eggs are beating, melt butter & chocolate over low heat on the stove. remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. returning to your eggs, add vanilla. fold in chocolate once cooled. add flour, cocoa and walnuts until just blended and spread the batter into your prepared pan.

bake for 25 minutes. test with toothpick. allow brownies to cool thoroughly before cutting.

enjoy & keep away from animals!

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