Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Chocolate Zone

Some days I need chocolate. Yes, I said, need. Not want, not desire, but need. For those of you who can relate to this problem I have found an easy solution. A 90 second cake. Yep, one and a half minutes in the microwave and you , too, can be in the chocolate zone.

The chocolate zone is what happens when all of your senses are engaged: you smell the rich aroma of chocolate and sugar as you watch through the window as it rises to meet you, you hear the timer buzz, you plunge into the moist , fragrant goodness and savor the feel of it under your spoon, finally you inhale deeply after your tingling taste buds have been satiated with the first bite of sweet chocolate cake.

Oh, did I mention that you don't have to share? This is just enough for one.

You can thank my grandmother for sending this recipe on to me, she is always on the hunt for fabulous new things! I played with the recipe a little and made my version healthier...I couldn't resist, sorry! You can make this in a coffee mug or a small bowl; I opted for the bowl because it seemed easier to mix the ingredients in it. I inverted it onto a plate to take pictures, but you can enjoy it straight out of the microwave. Because, really, what is better than warm cake?

90 Second Chocolate Cake

2 Tablespoons AP (or whole wheat flour)
2 Tablespoons Sugar (or Splenda)
2 Tablespoons Baking Cocoa
1 Egg White
1 Tablespoon Milk (2 TBLSP if using whole wheat flour)
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
Dash of Vanilla
Dash of Salt
1 Tablespoon Chocolate Chips

Combine the flour, sugar, salt and cocoa in a bowl or mug.

Mix in the egg white, milk, oil and vanilla until completely combined.

Sprinkle the chocolate chips onto the top and cover slightly with batter, try not to push them down to the bottom.

Pop it into the microwave on high for 90 seconds, or until you can smell it and it is firm when touched in the center. It should not take more than 2 minutes.

Aaah, chocolate cake! Enjoy ASAP!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My first Daring Bakers Challenge

Ok... so, I was really excited to join the Daring Bakers, who will hence forth be called the DBers, it is a group of folks on the web that enjoy new and challenging baking endeavors. I found the group by randomly flipping through other blogs, like my own, about their love of, and adventures with, food. I looked over many of the old challenges and contacted with site administrator about joining. Most of the past challenges I had viewed were sweets and covered all sorts of things that people often shy away from because they think the task is too complicated for them.

When I received the September challenge, my very first one, I was disappointed. I love to bake sweets, but generally don't take as much enjoyment in baked goods of the savory persuasion. I put off this challenge until the very last minute... I wouldn't want to make too good of an impression with my new friends...ha!

I am a day late in posting, and I have n really fabulous excuse. My husband and I went out to see a movie yesterday after noon and didn't get back home until late into the evening. We were spontaneous, which we never are, and decided on a whim to head off to the Greek Festival. It was fun and the food was really great; but it detained me from posting...many apologies.

I will try to be more excited next month, but this recipe still isn't my favorite and I would have rather been baking cookies. My first batch burned and the second batch, possibly because I was nervous from the first mis-hap, took f-o-r-e-v-e-r! I rubbed the dough with white truffle oil, only a tiny bit, and sprinkled it with fresh cracked pepper and Maldon salt. They tasted fine, but nothing to write home about. I also made them with whole wheat flour, which is not what the original recipe calls for. As for rolling them out I rolled the dough out directly onto my sil-pat baking mat that goes onto a baking sheet. It worked so perfectly and so easily, if you are apt to give this a go i highly recommend rolling them out this way.

We also had to make a dip to go with them and being from Texas I decided just to make a ranch dip, but I spiced it up with cilantro and jalepeno...yummy!

This challenge was vegan or gluten free....my crackers were vegan, but my dip was gluten free...is that legal? Oh, well too late now. Here it is...my fist DBers challenge:

Makes 1 sheet pan of Lavash crackers

* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour
* 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
* 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup
* 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
* Truffle oil, cracked black pepper, and kosher salt for toppings

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-Bre … ong-Enough for a discription of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of the spices on the dough.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap off shards and serve.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Gingerbread Woman

I am so eager for the holiday season to begin. I love having family around and holidays always ensure the delivery of my loved ones into the chairs around my dining table. I decided to try a new recipe or two to give at Christmas this year and here is the fist of the winners for your enjoyment.

This spicy bread has a bit of a bite that hangs on from the ginger but is lightly sweet and has a nice deep flavor from the molasses. The addition of the stout gives the bread just a touch of bitterness that, from here on in, I will find missing in other gingerbread recipes.

This is a dark bread, if you tend to shy away from the intense flavor molasses this is not the cake for you, but for those of you, like me, who enjoy that depth of flavor this cake will compliment your upcoming season perfectly. It is hearty and will gift, oh, so nicely when the time comes!


1 cup Guinness Stout
½ cup dark molasses
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
3 large eggs
1 cup evaporated cane sugar
1 cup Splenda
3/4 cup vegetable oil
½ cup buttermilk
¼ cup oats

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Generously butter bundt pan and dust with flour; knock out any excess flour.

Mix stout and molasses and whisk in baking soda.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl whisk together eggs and sugars then whisk in oil, buttermilk and molasses mixture; add to flour mixture and whisk until just combined. Fold in oats.

Pour batter into bundt pan (I used multiple mini bundts) and tap pan on counter to eliminate air bubbles.

Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs adhering, about 50 minutes (15-20 minutes for mini bundts).

Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

Confectioners Sugar Glaze

2 Cups Confectioners Sugar

1 Teaspoon vanilla

5-6 Tablespoons Milk

Combine all ingredients until smooth.

MMMM....I love gingerbread!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Carrot Cake

I apologize to those of you who check out my blog regularly, I have not been on top of my game these last few weeks. Time seems to be rushing past me; where it is going I have no idea.

As you can tell from my blog, I love to bake. I consider myself quite good at it and generally don't shy away from a challenge. I do, however, have a baking nemesis. I seem to be at constant odds with, are you ready...here it comes... carrot cake. It's a shocker, I know. It is a simple cake with reliable ingredients that does not require any special equipment, or delicate processes. Why carrot cake and I cannot make amends remains a mystery. This problem is terribly unfortunate because this happens to be my husband's favorite cake.

So, I had to give it a go, just one more time.

It just so happens that I have been collecting carrot cake recipes, because it is my husband's favorite, and stuffing them into the back of my recipe book; I have been doing this so long that I had amassed quite the collection, as I discovered recently. I believe that I have been collecting them to find the most basic one, so that the margin of error on my part could be reduced as much as possible.

You'll be thrilled to hear that I have found a winner. I don't know where it came from, if I got it from you let me know and I'll give credit where it is due. This cake is had wonderful flavor, I got a thumbs up from two carrot cake connoisseurs. The texture and crumb were what you would hope for from a cake filled with carrots and the moisture was all a cake maker could ever hope for...moist and delicious!

It is simple and even I did not mess it up!

Carrot Cake

1 1/2 cups evaporated cane sugar
1 tsp molasses
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs
1/4 cup orange juice (fresh is better)
1/2 tsp orange extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups shredded carrot (2-3 large carrots)

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Lightly grease and flour your baking pan.

In a large bowl, beat together sugar, molasses and eggs until smooth.

Beat in applesauce, orange juice, orange extract, vanilla extract, spices and salt.

When combined, sift in the flour and baking soda and gently stir it into the batter until no streaks remain.

Fold in shredded carrot, then scrape into prepared pan.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool before icing.

Cream Cheese Icing

8 oz. Cream Cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 lb. Powdered Sugar

Cream together the cream cheese and butter.

Mix in the lemon juice and salt until combined.

Slowly incorporate the powdered sugar and beat until fluffy and spreadable.

Depending on your location and humidity level you may need to add a teaspoon or two of water to full incorporate the sugar; don't add the extra liquid unless completely necessary.

Frost away!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Omnivore’s Hundred

I’m late to get around to this; the Omnivore’s Hundred has been making its way around blog world and I have been meaning to see to it myself. Time is always getting away from me. The hundred-item list is featured here and it looks like I still have a bit of a way to go, how about you?

Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.

1. Bold all the items you’ve eaten.

2. Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

3. Optional extra: Post a comment at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk and/or feedingmaybelle.blogspot.com, linking to your results.

The Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison

2. Nettle tea

3. Huevos rancheros

4. Steak tartare

5. Crocodile

6. Black pudding

7. Cheese fondue

8. Carp

9. Borscht

10. Baba ghanoush

11. Calamari

12. Pho

13. PB&J sandwich

14. Aloo gobi

15. Hot dog from a street cart

16. Epoisses

17. Black truffle

18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes

19. Steamed pork buns

20. Pistachio ice cream

21. Heirloom tomatoes

22. Fresh wild berries

23. Foie gras

24. Rice and beans

25. Brawn, or head cheese

26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper

27. Dulce de leche

28. Oysters

29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda – Any thoughts on where I could try this? Soon?

31. Wasabi peas- Wasabi peanuts are better, in my opinion.

32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi

34. Sauerkraut

35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar- Cognac, yes; fat cigar, yes...together, soon!

37. Clotted cream tea

38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O

39. Gumbo

40. Oxtail

41. Curried goat

42. Whole insects – Not in a really big hurry on this one…

43. Phaal

44. Goat’s milk

45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more- Not a big fan of whisky, so I wont be springing for this one, but I’ll take a sip if I’m not buying.

46. Fugu

47. Chicken tikka masala

48. Eel

49. Krispy Kreme original doughnut – YUCK! What a waste of sugar!

50. Sea urchin

51. Prickly pear

52. Umeboshi

53. Abalone

54. Paneer

55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal

56. Spaetzle- Soon I hope!

57. Dirty gin martini

58. Beer above 8% ABV

59. Poutine

60. Carob chips

61. S’mores

62. Sweetbreads – always wanted to, when the opportunity presents itself I will

63. Kaolin

64. Currywurst

65. Durian- When I see one I will!

66. Frogs’ legs

67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake- How about all of the above?

68. Haggis

69. Fried plantain

70. Chitterlings, or andouillette

71. Gazpacho

72. Caviar and blini

73. Louche absinthe- YUCK!

74. Gjetost, or brunost . .. looking for it now…

75. Roadkill. . .how embarrassing!

76. Baijiu

77. Hostess Fruit Pie

78. Snail

79. Lapsang souchong

80. Bellini

81. Tom yum

82. Eggs Benedict

83. Pocky

84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant…when we win the lottery

85. Kobe beef

86. Hare

87. Goulash

88. Flowers

89. Horse- I'd have to be excessively, extremely starving.

90. Criollo chocolate – if Amazon gets them in stock I can check this one off.

91. Spam – mmmm!

92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa

94. Catfish

95. Mole poblano- Mole chicken yes; mole poblano, no

96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor- asap

98. Polenta

99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee

100. Snake- I didnt grow up in Bandera, TX for nothing!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

I really dont like Banana nut bread. The smell of it, while some people love it, makes me feel sick to my stomach. Why? Could be bad banana flavored meds when I was a kid or too many banana candies or I could just simply not like banana flavored things.

I dont put bananas in smoothies and anything short of an almost green banana turns my stomach. Why am I sharing this with you, you ask. Because I have found the very best banana bread recipe ever. It is so good even I, the hater of all things banana, love it!

I found the recipe in some magazine years ago and have tweeked it so much since then that I am certain the barely resembles the original, where ever it may have come from. I tried the recipe only because I had a friend who, somehow, came into ownership of three large boxes of ripe bananas and since one man can only eat so many bananas he decided to share.

This bread is moist and has the faint taste of banana, but somehow retains the flavor of fresh bananas, not overly ripe and extra sweet smelling ones. I added the chocolate chips because when I made the recipe the first time I discovered, mid recipe, that I had no walnuts. I never intended to like these, or even eat them. I had to try one, just on case they were awful...I wouldn't want to make anyone sick. I planned to give them away as fast as possible, but kept almost all of them for myself because they were so damned good.

I have gotten rave reviews from true banana bread lovers and from others, like myself, who normally abstain from all things banana. I promise you will not be disappointed and the extras freeze beautifully!

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons butter (you can use applesauce here to reduce fat)
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ground
  • 3 mashed, ripe bananas
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Chopped walnuts to top

Preheat oven to 350F; Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan or 4 mini loaf pans.

In a large bowl, sift together the flours, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and powder.

In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in buttermilk, eggs and mashed bananas until well blended.

Fold the banana mixture and chocolate chips into flour mixture; stir just to moisten.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan, or scoop into muffin tins. Top with chopped walnuts.

Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes for bread or 18-22 minutes for muffins or mini loaves, just until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean.

Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sugar Cookies

Baking inspiration comes from everywhere and today my inspiration comes from a truely pleasurable read from Joan Medlicott, a book called, The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love. It is the story of three ladies who meet in a retirement/boarding house that none of them belong in; they have all ended up there by some twist of fate and choose to venture out to a new home, together, in Covington, North Carolina.

It is a story of growth, healing and love for themselves, their families and their new lives. There is a whole series of books about these ladies: Grace, Amelia and Hannah; you can bet I am reading the whole series as you read...thank you Grandma for sending these ladies into my life!

The cookies today are from Grace, the nurturer of the three. She makes these cookies throughout the book and by the end it was all I could do to finish the last page before springing up to try my hand at these cookies.

I loved them!

Grace's Sugar Cookies

2/3 cup Butter
¾ Cup Evaporated Cane Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Egg
4 Teaspoons Milk (I used buttermilk)
2 Cups AP flour, sifted
1 ½ Teaspoons Baking Powder
¼ Teaspoon Salt

Pre-Heat oven to 375F.

Thoroughly cream the butter, sugar and vanilla.

Add the eggs and milk; beat until light and fluffy.

Sift together the dry ingredients and blend into the creamed mixture.

Divide the dough in half and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll to 1/8 - ¼ inch thickness and cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters.

Bake on an un-greased cookie sheet for 5-7 minutes; allow cookies to cool slightly before removing from the pan.

I topped them with royal icing:

Wilton Royal Icing

3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
1 pound (4 cups) Confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons warm water

Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer). Recipe makes 3 cups.

Keep all utensils completely grease-free for proper icing consistency.

Allow to dry on cookies over night before handling.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Red Velvet Cream Cheese Loaf

Every occasion where it is appropriate to bring a gift of food is not necessarily an iced cake kind of situation. I created this bread to fill in on those occasions. It is a comforting bread that has a heady texture and a light bite. Not too sweet this bread works nicely at adult affairs as well as kids friendly ones.

As is true with all red velvet, the red food coloring is not necessary, it just makes it more fun!

Red Velvet Loaves

2 Cups All Purpose Flour (1 cup)**
1 Cup Evaporated Sugar Cane (1/2 cup)
1 TBLSP Molasses (1 ½ tsp)
4 TBLSP Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (2 TBLSP)
2 Tsp Baking Soda (1 tsp)
¼ Tsp Salt (1/8 tsp)
1 ½ Cups Buttermilk (3/4 cup buttermilk)
½ Cup Butter (1/4 cup)
4 Eggs (2 eggs)
1 TBLSP Apple Cider Vinegar (1 ½ tsp)
1 Tsp Vanilla (½ tsp)
1 oz Red Food Coloring

**1/2 recipe in parentheses


1 Package Cream Cheese
¼ Cup Evaporated Sugar Cane
1/8 Tsp salt
½ Tsp Lemon juice
1 Egg
2 TBLSP All purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream together the cream cheese, sugar, salt and lemon juice. Mix in one egg until smooth. Whisk in the flour until smoothly combined and place in pastry piping bag; promptly refrigerate to firm up the mixture. This can, and ought to, be done ahead of time.

In a separate bowl cream together the butter, sugar, molasses and salt until smooth. Add eggs and then vanilla, mixing until smoothly combined. Mix in the butter milk and vinegar.

Sift together the cocoa powder, flour and baking soda.

Add dry mixture to the wet, stirring until completely combined.

Grease and cocoa a full size bread pan. Spoon or scoop slightly more than ½ of the batter into the pan.

Pipe 3 thick cords of the chilled cream cheese mixture onto the center of the batter in the pan.

Spoon the remaining ½ of the batter around and on top of the cream cheese, making certain to cover it completely.

Place in 350F oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool on a rack in pan. Do not remove it early, it will lose shape. Allow to cool completely.

You can drizzle the top with a cream and powdered sugar glaze, or just slice and eat. It is delicious and has a lovely texture.