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I haven’t made the cinnamon pull apart bread yet. Somehow, I managed to not be distracted by my kitchen this weekend (I had delicious chilaquiles here instead!). Here I am on a rainy Tuesday, trying to formulate a research question while making butterscotch brownies. This recipe came from my mother, who has been inspiring me with her gardening and kitchen skills for three decades already. Enjoy!

Butterscotch Brownies 

*This recipe is intended for an 8 x 8 pan. I  a) don’t have one and b) am greedy with these brownies so I’ve doubled it for double the deliciousness. Its up to you….

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Measure and set aside:
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
In a saucepan:
Melt 1/4 cup butter

Mmmm melting butter.

While your butter is melting, whisk 1 egg and 1 tsp of vanilla in a separate bowl.

Egg + Vanilla

Stir 1 cup of brown sugar into melted butter until dissolved. Allow to cool slightly, then mix into egg + vanilla mixture. Combine thoroughly with dry ingredients.

Press walnuts into brownie mixture…

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until done through. Be careful not to burn or overcook them – you want these butterscotch brownies to be chewy.

I have a lot of studying to do today. As a result, I’ve made these cookies, scrubbed the floors and the cupboards, done two loads of laundry and all the dishes, and am about to paint a closet, weed in the backyard and go out on a boat. Before I continue with my epic sunday of procrastination, I need to share this recipe; mostly as a service to myself given that its already ALL. OVER. THE. INTERNET.

This recipe came from the New York Times in 2008 and has been bouncing around since. I read about them last week on Emily’s blog, and Emily heard about them from Kate, who had them when she stayed at her friend Shirley’s house and remembered them years later. I didn’t really need to make cookies today. I made some cookies last week, but I had some cake flour lying around and needed to see for myself what all the fuss was about. These cookies are worth all that fuss.

You will need the following ingredients plus some patience – the dough has to be refrigerated for at least 24 hours for maximum success:

  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour (*I didn’t have bread flour and used all purpose and think these came out amazing anyway)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate chips (at least 60% cacao)
  • Sea salt

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Add chocolate chips.

3. Wrap well with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Set aside.

4. Scoop balls of dough roughly the size of a golf ball onto baking sheet (in the original recipe 3 1/2 ounce mounds are called for, others have success with an ice cream  scoop. I just made larger-than-usual balls of dough about the size of a golfball. The trick is to not make small cookies – thats how you get the chewy center and crispy edges).

5. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, about 15 minutes. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Enjoy!

There is an adorable cafe in my neighborhood with the most amazing brown butter blondies. A perfect Saturday involves coffee in bed with my sweet, a yoga class finished with a Mary Oliver poem during our final savasana, and a long meandering walk to Volunteer Park Cafe with a dear friend. As the ritual goes, we sit outside (sunshine permitting), sipping iced coffee, splitting an entree, and topping it off with a brown butter blondie, and a chocolate chip/oatmeal/cherry cookie. Divine. Last Saturday I was really craving a blondie, and totally out of luck. They were absent from the pastry case! Determined to re-create them at home, I searched the internet for a recipe that might just produce the amazing results I was hoping for, and settled on a recipe from Blue Ridge Baker.

blondies

  • 1/2 cup butter, browned
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/8 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and lightly flour an 8×8 pan. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the brown butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack. Enjoy!

Lying in bed Sunday morning, I nursed my too-many-whiskey-gingers induced hangover with three pints of water, a french press of stumptown and an hour long phone call with mi mejor amiga in New York. She was telling me about her Saturday night, which involved friends, beer, and a karaoke birthday party complete with the most delicious banana cupcakes she had ever had in her life. Banana cupcakes? Of course! Why have I never attempted these at home?!

I did a little sneaking around the internet and found this recipe on Martha Stewart dot com. Honey cinnamon icing does sound interesting, but I think vanilla buttercream sounds a little bit better with banana cake. I’m curious to see if banana cupcakes are no different from banana bread? Perhaps a little lighter and sweeter? As soon as the bananas on my counter turn from canary yellow to soft and spotted, I’ll give it a go and report back!

the recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 ripe bananas)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Make a well in center of flour mixture. In well, mix together butter, mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla. Stir to incorporate flour mixture taking care not to overmix. Spoon batter into muffin cups.
  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely on a wire rack. Frost generously.

Picture 15Vegan? Gluten free? This book will change your life. If your name happens to be Erin, as mine is, you will be totally stoked because this vegan and gluten free baking genius is also named Erin. I feel like its a good baker omen or something.

I first tested out the book over at my parents house a couple of months ago. My mother and I occasionally like to pull a quick vegan switch on my dad to see if he notices. Its an interesting experiment – try it out on a loved one sometime. We made him the carrot cake cupcakes which are ammmmmmazing. He loved them of course – thinking they were filled with eggs, butter and delicious gluten. I’ve been trying trying to cut out wheat and dairy for allergen reasons for awhile now, and flour substitutes have been tough, often giving a gritty residue to textures that have no business being gritty. Babycakes had me at the first bite.

I promptly *borrowed* the book from my mother so I might try out the vegan, gluten free cornbread. Last fall I tried my own substitutions on a favorite cornbread recipe and failed miserably – producing a rubbery, polenta-like substance. There was nothing bread-like about it. Since I’ve declared this month Wheat Free October, I tested out the Babycakes cornbread this weekend. It was so delicious, I burnt my mouth sneaking a slice (or three) before it had cooled. This cornbread has a lovely crumb people! My only qualm is that I find it a little sweet — so I may try to experiment a little to see what sort of savory cornbread I end up with!

My dear friend M is visiting from New York this week, and in honor of her visit, I’ve made her vegan chocolate cupcakes with (her favorite) lavender icing.

Now, I’ve had cupcakes with lavender icing, but I’ve never actually set out to make my very own before. I searched the web and found a couple of recipes, but nothing truly inspirational. It seemed to be more about the color than the flavor, and I prefer to skip the food coloring.

I decided to experiment.

Dried lavender in hand, I removed the buds and added them to a saucepan with 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar. I brought this mixture to a boil, and allowed it to simmer for about 20 minutes. Ta-da! Lavender simple syrup!

On to the cake.

I’ve tested some pretty excellent vegan cake recipes in my day, my favorite thus far being one which uses both coconut milk and coconut oil.

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the wet ingredients. Mix the dry. Mix the wet into the dry. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a fork comes out clean!

Now that my lavender simple syrup has sufficiently cooled, I’m ready to make the frosting. Since I’m not really vegan, and neither is M, I’m going to use real butter and make a version of my mom’s amazing buttercream. If you are vegan, you can easily substitute margarine.

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 box powdered sugar
  • lavender simple syrup

At a low speed, mix butter and powdered sugar. Slowly add lavender simple syrup until your frosting reaches the desired consistency. The lavender came across stronger than I had anticipated, so I added a squeeze of lemon to brighten the flavors. Frost cupcakes with love, and enjoy!