Tag Archives: Dessert

The Late Night Chocolate Cake

The chocolate cake / It ain’t pretty but it sure tasted good.

Here’s a nice story for you. Last Saturday night, The BF and I had ourselves a nice little date night. One might think that a twenty-COUGH-year old and a thirty-COUGH-year old wouldn’t have to plan Saturday nights out, but when your nice squishy couch and a cheap bottle of wine and Mad Men reruns and old sweatpants are calling your name, you really have to push yourself to leave the house. But leave the house we did. We sat at a bar, we had some drinks, we laughed, we spent money neither of us has… but all the while I was distracted. Seriously distracted.

By cake.

I wanted some cake. Guys, when a cake craving takes over my body, I can’t help it. It’s all I think about. It’s all I can talk about. “Should I get some cake?” I said out loud, eying a perfectly frosted white cake on the counter of the bar. But something told me I didn’t want that cake. How old was it? Was it pure white cake in the middle? Would it cost $10 a slice? Would I be disappointed that I wasted the calories (and, more importantly, the craving) on something mediocre?

I turned away. I finished my drink. We went home.

And then I baked my own cake.

Who cares if it was 2AM and I was out of butter? I found a simple recipe for one bowl quick chocolate cake, I whipped that sucker up, cooled it over the AC unit, dumped the still-warm cakes on a plate, poured a cocoa-powder-powdered-sugar-water glaze over the top of the heap, and set it in front of The BF… with two forks. We turned on Mad Men reruns, I changed into old sweats, and it was heaven. Why we ever leave the house, I’ll never know.

On the menu:
One-Bowl Chocolate Cake
Serves 2 (just kidding… serves 12)

Cake:
2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk*
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 9-inch round baking pans.

In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and mix with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Split the batter between the 2 pans and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Chocolate glaze:
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk (you might need more depending on the consistency of the glaze that you like)

Mix together all ingredients in a bowl. Pour over the cake. Eat like it’s going out of style.

*In the interest of full disclosure… I ran out of milk. I mixed together half a cup of heavy cream and half a cup of water and called it milk. Blame the three G&T’s I had before I baked this.

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Carrot Pineapple Cake with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

When trying to come up with a dessert for last weekend’s dinner, I kept thinking that by the time the meat was gone I hoped everyone would be full. But I also wanted to cap off the evening with something really special… and frankly, kids, I don’t know how to not do comfort food. So while my guests may or may not have dozed off in their chairs after the meal was over (is there a greater compliment?) and their pants may have been a little tight, I think this cake was the right decision.

On the menu:
Pineapple carrot cake with whipped cream cheese frosting

Cake:
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs. room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 salt
1 pound carrots, grated
3/4 cup fresh pineapple, diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 8-inch round cake pans.

Beat together sugar, oil, and eggs until the mixture is a light yellow color. Beat in the vanilla. In another bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until incorporated. Fold in the carrots and the pineapple and mix well. Divide the batter up equally into the 2 pans. Bake for 55 – 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack.

Frosting:
1 8-oz. package of cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp corn starch
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Place a metal bowl and beaters from an electric mixer into the freezer for 30 minutes. In the pre-frozen bowl with pre-frozen beaters, beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form.

In a separate bowl, beat together cream cheese, sugar, corn starch, salt, and vanilla extract. Fold in the whipped cream.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Lauren E. here wishing you a very happy Valentine’s Day! The photo below is from my super romantic pre-Valentine’s Day dinner with The BF on Friday night at Tournesol. We like to celebrate early to avoid the ridiculously overpriced (and often disappointing) pre-fixe meals that plague every restaurant in New York on actual V Day. Need a last minute gift for your sweetheart? I suggest whipping up a quick batch of these (dye the batter pink if it suits you!) or these (with pink frosting!), or if you’re feeling particularly outgoing there is always Engagement Chicken.

Just kidding… don’t make that.

Beignets (like donuts) with yogurt, blueberries, strawberry sauce, and crispy honey sugar on top

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Chocolate Therapy


Ever have one of those days? You know what I mean. THOSE days. When anyone who crosses your path is gonna get an earful whether they asked for it or not? That was Saturday. I blame the phases of the moon.

In any case, here’s a recipe for one of those days. This recipe is surprisingly healthy, compared to store bought muffins. If you’re craving something sweet, these definitely fit the bill without completely desecrating your diet.

On the menu:
Chocolate muffins
Makes 24 muffins

2 2/3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream (I used reduced fat)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)
1 apple, shredded
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In a different bowl, beat together the eggs, sour cream, water, milk, apple, and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients just until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.

Line each cup of the muffin tin with a paper liner. Fill each cup 2/3 of the way full with batter. Bake 20 – 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let sit in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

*Note: this recipe originally had vegetable oil instead of an apple, but I find most recipes use oil to make cakes moist. Apples will do the same thing with none of the fat! You can also use 1/2 cup apple sauce. The only downside to this substitution is that the cake might stick to the liner… but that’s what your teeth are for.

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Pucker Up


I have a confession to make: every once in awhile, I totally flub a recipe. I muck it up. Ruined from start to finish. Saturday night as I was tending to The (sickly) BF, I got the urge to bake cookies. “Chocolate chip?!” he asked eagerly. “No chocolate chips,” I told him. “That’s okay, I like the batter even without the chips! The vanilla, the brown sugar…” And that gave me an idea. Brown sugar cookies. I searched for a recipe, found an easy one, and went to work. The problem? Frozen butter. ‘No matter!’ thought I. ‘I will nuke it!’ Wrong. Oh, so wrong. What I got was a melty bowl of the most delicious smelling batter you’ve ever smelt. Yes. Smelt. But when I went to bake them, what did I get? Crispy, crunchy, flat, greasy disks that had the consistency of peanut brittle with burnt edges. Do you have any idea how disappointing it is to have your whole apartment smelling of delicious buttery brown sugar and nothing to show for it? Nothing in your belly to satisfy that tantalizing scent? Okay, so we ate some of those greasy, sugary disks anyway. WE PRACTICALLY HAD TO.

Which brings me to the next piece of the story. Lemon cookies. I’ve had this recipe chilling in my “recipes” folder in Gmail for some time, and figured I would follow the recipe to the T, let the butter soften, measure each ingredient accurately, and give the recipe the respect it deserved. And what happened? Imagine that. Incredible cookies.

On the menu:
Lemon Crinkle Cookies
Makes around 3 dozen cookies
Adapted from WhipperBerry.com

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter and granulated sugar together until blended. Add egg, vanilla, lemon juice, and zest and blend until totally combined. Add salt, baking soda, and flour and mix with a spoon until combined.

Put powdered sugar in a shallow bowl. Scoop up batter by heaping teaspoons, roll into a ball, and roll in powdered sugar until lightly coated. Place on baking sheet 1 1/2 inches apart and bake for 12 – 14 minutes, or until the bottom edges are brown and the tops look matte (not shiny). Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rake to cool completely.

Note: Because I am always interested in whether or not a cookie comes out chewy or crispy, these are the chewiest of the chewy! Soft in the center, crisp at the edges. In other words, perfection.

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Sweet Pumpkin Dip and Vanilla Wafers

Happy Monday! Oh, who are we kidding, Monday sucks. Bake these tonight and tomorrow will be a little bit sweeter.

On the menu:
Sweet pumpkin dip
Makes 5 cups, 32 servings [aka a LOT of dip!]

8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 15-oz. can of solid packed pumpkin
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp all spice

In a medium bowl, blend cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar until smooth. Gradually mix in the pumpkin. Stir in the spices until smooth and blended. Chill until serving.

Vanilla Wafers
Adapted from this recipe at Ezra Poundcake
Makes about 65 cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 large egg yolks
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350. Blend sugar, salt and butter together until smooth with an electric mixer. Add egg yolks and vanilla and blend until smooth. Add flour. Divide dough into 4 portions and roll each into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log in saran wrap and chill in the refrigerator at least an hour.

Once chilled, slice each roll into slices 1/4 inch thick. Place slices on cookie sheet [NOTE: these don’t spread so you can place them pretty close together]. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown. Let cool and then dip them into your delicious pumpkin dip.

Note: These cookies are not your traditional in-the-box vanilla wafers. They are definitely a cookie, and they’re sweeter than the boxed kind. However, the dip plus the cookie is not overly sweet so don’t worry about a sugar overload. Not that I ever do anyway.

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Do You Know…

Exhibit A

Does anyone know what I’m talking about when I say “fried dough”? Around these parts, people respond, “You mean funnel cake?” No. I don’t mean funnel cake. If I MEANT funnel cake I would have SAID funnel cake.

…I don’t have many friends.

In any case, I mean fried dough. Literally a slab of dough, fried, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. I have walked street fairs and ballparks in search of this summer treat with no such luck. Is this a Rochester thing, like white hots and Wegmans? Does it exist in New York City? Can anybody help me?!

Seriously, if you know of an establishment in New York City that sells fried dough, lay it on me. I’ll send you a nice little thank you in the mail if you do.

Note: ironically, my favorite Christmas cookies are Struffoli, tiny balls of fried dough, drenched in honey. My favorite breakfast treat is a donut, fried dough shaped in a ring and sprinkled with sugar. Maybe I have a sickness… 

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