Sunday, May 24, 2009

Banana Cupcake with Fleur de Sel Caramel Ganache

Oh my god if that is not decadent I don't know what is.

I am finally getting back to the recipes from by Birthday Bash.

The Banana Cupcake Recipe is an adaptation of a cake recipe by,   Abigail Johnson Dodge, from "The Weekend Baker". 

Banana Cupcakes

2 2/3 c flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t baking soda
8 oz butter, at room temp.
1 3/4 granulated sugar
3 very very ripe bananas
2 t vanilla
4 large eggs
1/2 cup butter milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
prepare muffin tin with approx. 24  liners
In a medium bowl whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda, until blended.
in a mixing bowl, beat butter  on medium until smooth. And sugar. Beat until well combined. Add bananas and vanilla. Beat until well combined. Add eggs 2 at a time. Beat until well blended. 
At this point the mixture will look a little curdles, but after flour mixture is added it will come together.
Add 1/2 the flout mixture on low speed until blended.  Add the butter milk until just blended, The add remaining flour until just blended.  
Using an ice cream scoop, fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake about 20 minute. Until tops are golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.
Cool about 10 minutes. Then remove from pan and cool completely on cooling rack.

Whipped Fleur de Sel Caramel Ganache

1 pound dark chocolate, chopped 
1 cup sugar 
2 tablespoons light corn syrup 
1 ½ cups heavy cream 
1 pound (4 sticks) butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces, softened but still cool  

Combine 1/4 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan; stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the mixture reaches 350° on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.  

In another small saucepan add cream and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside. When the caramel mixture has reached 350°, remove from heat and allow to rest for 1 minute. Add the hot cream to the caramel; stir to combine. Let cool 5 minutes. Place chocolate in a mixing  bowl  and pour caramel sauce over chocolate.  Let sit 1 minute before stirring  until chocolate is melted.  

Attach bowl to electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low until the bowl feels cool to the touch. Add butter and increase speed to medium-high until mixture is well combined, thickened, and slightly whipped, about 2 minutes.

  Ready to use now.

The  flavor of the combination is simply amazing.  Enjoy.
I'll be back tomorrow with the next recipe.

Wheat Free Chocolate Cake

OK, I just have to break in one more time, with another version of The delicious Deep Dark Chocolate Cake.   My friend Roberta, has a gluten allergy.   As such, she has adapted many a recipe for wheat free deliciousness.

After my last post Roberta,  sent me a note about her wheat free version.

Replace the 1 3/4 flour with 1 1/2 of white rice flour plus 1/4 cup of coconut flour.
(both are by Bob's Red Mill.)  
1/4 cup extra milk is also needed.

The rest of the recipe remains the same.

Now, typically when I make gluten free products,  I also add 1/2 teaspoon of  xanthan gum to the dry ingredients. (Available at Whole Foods.)  This helps with the structure.  The cake will not rise as tall as the cake with gluten. Roberta has since told me that when she uses coconut flour she does NOT add xanthum gum.  

Roberta likes to frost her cake with white icing and press shredded coconut on to it.

Excellent even for gluten eaters.  Thanks Roberta!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

delicious Twist On Chocolate Cake

Well, I know I was suppose to finish blogging about the cupcake recipes, but I have to break in with a variation on the Chocolate Cake I posted last.

Yesterday was my son's Birthday.  His choice of Birthday Cake this year?  The Deep Dark Chocolate Cake, but he requested that I add cinnamon and curry to the batter.

I thought Hmmm.  Then I thought, the only thing better that being a foodie is raising one. 

So I did.  It was fantastic.  The cake was consumed 5 minutes after "Happy Birthday" was sung. 

I had also added small amounts of mace and allspice.  Then remainder of the recipe is the same.

Curry and Cinnamon Chocolate Cake 
to the dry ingredients add:

1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon  ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon  ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground mace

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Most Incredible Birthday Party!

Today I reach a significant "age".  It is a number I certainly do not feel.  Last Saturday night my husband threw me an unbelievable birthday bash.  It included 95 or so truly great friends and family. My friends "The Laughing Boys"; Kevin, Alex and Rob played like the Ramones, Clash,  Kinks, Dead Kennedy's all rolled in to one punk rock'n,  foot stomp'n , marvelous band ('till the cops showed up...).  My brothers in law, from Blue Ribbon BBQ in Newton and Arlington MA,   shipped in 5 boxes of outrageously delicious BBQ.  And I, in lieu  of a birthday cake,  made over 150 cupcakes, in 4 different flavors. Chocolate with Ganache icing, Lemon Ginger Coconut with a powdered Sugar Sprinkle, Banana with a Fleur de Sel Caramel Ganache, Butter Cake with Vanilla Bean Frosting.  I most regrettably, have no photos, with the flurry of getting the party together, I FORGOT!  If my friends took any I will certainly add later.

The Chocolate Cupcakes are simply an old Hershey recipe. I have styled this a few times for various Cookbooks over the years.  Tried and True. Check out their website,

Deep Dark Chocolate Cake
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa 
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

 Heat oven to 350°F. You'll need about 2 dozen cupcake cups.

 Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of electric mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into  cups about 1/2 full to 2/3 full. Bake fore about 20-25 minutes checking for doneness.


1 cup heavy cream

1 lb good quality semi or bittersweet chocolate

Heat cream in a medium saucepan to just before the boiling point.

Add the chopped chocolate and stir briefly.  Let sit for 5 minutes. then stir completely.

Let cool to room temp.  Ice the cupcake tops.

The Lemon Ginger Coconut Cupcakes area an adaptation of the Lemon Ginger Pound Cake in Cake Love, by Warren Brown.  A fabulous Cake Cookbook if you have not seen it yet.

Lemon Ginger Coconut Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350.

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour sifted

1 1/2 tablespoons starch- potato or corn

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 salt

1 cup coconut  milk

1/4 cup heavy cream

the juice of 2 lemons

1 teaspoon each gin, rum, triple sec

2 teaspoons vanilla

12 oz. unsalted butter

1 3/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup powdered sugar

3 oz. crystallized ginger, chopped fine

3 tablespoons lemon zest

1/2 flakes coconut

4 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk

In a bowl, whisk together  flour,  starch, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl whisk the liquids together to combine.

Cream together butter and sugars in a mixing bowl on the lowest speed. using the paddle attachment.

Add the ginger lemon zest and coconut. Mix to blend.

Add eggs one at a time.  Fully incorporate and scrape down sides of bowl between each.

Add the flour mixture and the liquids alternately in 5 additions beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

No need to wait until each is fully incorporated before adding the next.  

Scrape down side and bottom.  Mix again for 20 seconds.

Using a 2 ounce ice cream scoop fill approximately 32 cup cake liners.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes. Checking at 15.

Well.  It's by birthday and I have already spent too much of it bogging, so I will include the remaining recipes tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sugar Crunch Cake

As I am organizing recipes for the Family cookbook, my siblings and I are testing all of the recipes. My grandmother sometimes had 2 or 3 versions of a recipe on file.

Yesterday I began my testing with a coffee cake; The Sugar Crunch Cake.

The original recipe calls for "Spry". No doubt a depression era cake. I substituted butter with great results. The only part of the recipe I was not complete happy with is the sugar topping. Because the recipe is rather incomplete in its directions, I sprinkled the sugar topping on before placing it in the oven. It resulted in a light crunchy topping, but I wonder if the results would be even better if the topping were added during the last 3 or 4 minutes of baking. Just enough time to allow the sugar to caramelize. If anyone tries it before I have the chance let me know the results.

Sugar Crunch Cake

 350 degree oven preheated.

1 9" pan - prepared

1 3/4 c flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

3/4 cups milk

Sugar Crunch Topping

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tabelspoons butter

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Stir together into a crumbly mixture. Set aside.


Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter. Beat together in a separate bowl, combine eggs, milk, vanilla. Add 1/2 the liquid to the dry mix. Beat to incorporate. Add the remaining liquid. Beat until smooth. Pour batter into pan. Top with sugar mixture. Bake about 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mmm. Vanilla Syrup

The other day I spent a good part of the afternoon cleaning the pantry.  I like to periodically take inventory of what exactly we have collected over the past several months.  Typically there is some type of flour we use so infrequently, its gone stale. Or the beans the I know I purchased on a vacation 4 years ago.  Out of there. Clean shelves. Organized and tidy.

One thing I found was a vanilla bean.  Pretty dry. But, I just couldn't throw it in the compost. Instead I broke it into pieces and soaked in a saucepan with a cup of hot water.  After about an hour it was pliable.  I added a cup of sugar and heated it on medium low, until the temperature reached 180 on a candy thermometer. Let it cool and bottle it.

I now have some delicious vanilla syrup.  It can be used in cocktails or coffees, to brush over a nice pound cake. to drizzle over strawberries, to poach fruit.  The options are endless.

Friday, May 1, 2009

it's about time!

Well,  the thumb is getting better.  It's time to get back t0 blogging.

When I last wrote, I had just taken a cooking class with Gaetano Di Benedetto.  It was a past sauce class.  I don't have any concrete recipes. We basically took notes as he cooked. It's more how I cook a lot of time, some of this, a little that.

He starts with a very basic tomato sauce which then becomes the mother to many other sauces.
Sweat a 1/2 cup each of diced carrots, onions and celery.  Add  3 large cans San Marzano tomatoes. Break them up with a spoon.  Add 2 bay leaves. Simmer about a hour.   Remove bay leaves. You can keep this sauce to make other sauces.  It last 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator. Or Saute 4-5 cloves sliced garlic until golden.  Add to sauce.  Season to taste with you favorite herbs and salt and pepper.

 I used the mother sauce to make another sauce. A beef sauce.  I took an 8 oz chunk of chuck roast, generously salt and peppered it  and seared it on all sides in a dutch oven. I had heated  a tablespoon of olive oil in the pan.  Once the meat had a nice deep color I added about 1/2 cup red wine to deglaze the pan.  I added about two cups of the mother tomato sauce. 

Place  it in a 300 degree oven for about and hour. Check to see that the meet is tender enough to shred.  If not it needs more time in the oven. Remove  the meat to a cutting board. Use 2 forks  to shred the meat.  Return to the sauce.  Place on medium burner and heat mixture, adding 1 cup frozen peas.  If the sauce seem too thick,  add some warm stock.  (Or use the hot pasta water to thin the sauce.  Adjust seasonings. Add 1/2 cup heavy cream. Stir thoroughly.  Add 1/2 cup parmesean cheese. Stir thoroughly.

Toss with hot pasta. This as needed, until pasta is nicely coated.