Twinkie Cake

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Growing up, our kitchen cabinets never had less than two boxes of Little Debbie snack cakes. Both my father and I would take them in our lunches every day. So while I am well versed in Swiss Cake Rolls and Oatmeal Creme Pies and Zebra Cakes, I am less educated in the ways of the Twinkie.

I mean, I was always aware of the Twinkie– other kids brought them to school and I’m sure I tasted them here and there. I just was always more of a chocolate fan, especially when that chocolate had a hard glaze that gave a satisfying little snap when you bit through it.

As an adult, though, I’ve learned to embrace vanilla. It’s such a pure and clean taste. So when I saw Shauna Sever’s new book “Pure Vanilla: Irresistible Recipes and Essential Techniques, I knew I had to get moving on the recipes.

For the first test, I tackled the Twinkie Cake. It’s a fairly simple yellow bundt cake recipe that baked up easily and beautifully. Once baked, I got to get super handsy with the cake, cutting holes into it using the cone method, and then sticking my fingers into each hole to create a tunnel running through the center of the cake. Continue reading

Milk and Cookie Shooter

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By now, even my 87-year-old grandmother has heard of the Cronut, the croissant-dougnut hybrid brought to life by New York City baker Dominque Ansel. Well, a month or so ago, he was at it again, creating a Chocolate Chip Cookie Milk Shot, a shot glass made of chocolate chip cookie dough and filled with vanilla-infused milk. The idea is to sip the milk and eat the cookie bit by bit, as one might eat a taco salad or soup in a bread bowl.

The minute he heard about it, my husband wanted me to make it. Sometimes I get the impression he doesn’t realize how hard certain things are to create. Has he not seen the numerous Cookie Bowl Fails that litter the Internet? Cookie dough doesn’t necessarily want to hold a particular shape– it likes to spread and puff and do all sorts of other things that are great if you want a cookie form, but not so good if you want, say, a shot glass form.

Luckily, myriad food bloggers have taken it upon themselves to duplicate this sweet treat and the talented baker over at Wanna Come With? came up with a fantastic recipe and tutorial, which I used to create the confection in the above photo.

I didn’t tweak Wanna Come With?’s recipe at all, so I urge you to follow it if you want to create these yourself. I do recommend that whatever vessel you choose to use as a mold (Rum Baba molds worked very, very well for me), pick up at least four of them. I bought two and it took me FIVE HOURS to make 14 of these suckers. Save yourself some time and buy four.

The verdict from my husband? Well, to quote him directly, “Well, I don’t need to go get a real one because I can’t imagine it tastes any better than yours.”

Winter cocktails for the never-ending winter

It’s been one heck of a winter, huh? Spring has officially sprung (though I personally think March is still firmly winter), and parts of the country are still seeing snow showers and downright chilly temperatures. And nothing is better on a cold night than a roaring fireplace, a warm Corgi on your lap and a tasty, tasty cocktail.

Well, I have two out of the three at least. Sadly my new apartment did not come with a fireplace. New apartment, you ask? Why, yes! In January, an apartment in the neighborhood we have been scoping out for at least a year dropped out of the clear blue sky and fell on our heads. We weren’t planning to move until next year at the earliest, but it was an offer we couldn’t refuse. So now we call Cobble Hill home and I’ve got a whole new kitchen to navigate. Fun fact: the oven door does not fully open because it hits the refrigerator. So far this hasn’t been a problem. There also wasn’t room in the new kitchen for my much loved baker’s rack that stored nearly everything in our old place, so we had to get creative. And where do New Yorkers go when they want to get creative?

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i had determined that I wanted some sort of bar in the new place. I was tired of hiding all our liquor in a cabinet and besides, cabinet space was at a premium in the new joint. So we braved the crowds in Red Hook and picked up this little number.

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The top shelf of the dresser holds our stemless wine glasses, beer sampler glasses, beer coozies, coasters, a lemon juicer and various other bar-related items. But the bottom two drawers… oh, those drawers hold all my baking accoutrements. I am amazed at how much stuff that dresser holds. It’s been a godsend in the new apartment.

But on to the liquor! Continue reading

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread Recipe

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Don’t let anyone try to tell you that pumpkin season ends at Thanksgiving. They’re fools. It’s still technically fall for like, 10 more days, and fall is prime pumpkin season. To celebrate this fact, here is a recipe for Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread, a perfect way to use up all that leftover canned pumpkin puree you bought back in October. It’s a delicious, moist bread full of chocolate chunks that’s just as good to eat for breakfast as it is for dessert.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Makes two 9×5 loaves

The Ingredients

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 TSP salt
2 TSP baking soda
1 TSP baking powder
1 TSP ground cinnamon
1 TSP ground nutmeg
1 TSP ground ginger
1 TSP ground cloves
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
4 eggs
15 ounces canned pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
2/3 cup water
2 cups chocolate chip (I prefer Ghiradelli’s 60% cacao chips)

The Process:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9×5 loaf pans.

Whisk together the first eight ingredients in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and the oil. Add the eggs and whisk to combine. Add the pumpkin and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture and the water in alternating steps, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, whisking to combine. Add the chocolate chips and stir to combine.

Divide the batter between the two loaf pans and place them on a rack set in the middle position of your oven. Bake until a cake tester or chopstick inserted in the middle of the loaves comes out clean (or just with chocolate smeared on it but no bread). Now here’s the only tricky part. Baking times vary wildly on this recipe, so I would start checking the bread at 45 minutes, but be prepared for it to take longer. The loaf pictured above took a full 70 minutes to cook thoroughly in my oven.

Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove it from the pan (careful, it’ll be hot!) and place it on a rack to finish cooling completely. Slice and enjoy! It’s especially good with a little cream cheese smeared on top, but great just on its own. Wrap any left overs in plastic wrap and they’ll hold at room temperature for a few days.

The New York Times Pie Issue

Stars in Your Eyes Whiskey Apple Pie

Lovers of pie, The New York Times has got you covered. Check out today’s Dining & Wine section for a variety of articles about pie, including 20 summer pie recipes, a pie debate and an amazing graphic to teach you how to build a better apple pie.

This month’s Largehearted Lit

You love books, right? And of course you love baked goods. If you’re in the area, stop by Greenpoint, Brooklyn’s Word bookstore this Tuesday, March 26th for the latest in the Largehearted Lit series.

This month’s event will feature Michelle Orange and Teddy Wayne and will also feature Pink Lemonade and Chocolate Stout cupcakes by yours truly!

For more information, click here.