Tag Archives: Dessert

Brown Butter Blueberry Plum Cake


I won’t bore you with the mundane details of my personal life (of which most of you are probably privy to anyway) but I am in between jobs at the moment. Literally just the moment, but I’m smack in the middle of three days of unemployed bliss. Until I start my new job on Thursday, I’m trying to be slightly more productive than watching television and packing the occasional box for my apartment move in 2 1/2 weeks. Did I mention BIG things are happening in my life?

So today I decided to take a break from TV and napping to bake this gorgeous cake I found on Figs, Bay and Wine. The afternoon seemed like the perfect time to take advantage of the natural light that makes my photos their prettiest.

On the menu:
Blueberry plum cake
Adapted from the wild bramble cake on Figs, Bay and Wine

4 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon (I realized mid-recipe that I forgot the lemon, so I substituted 1 tsp lemon extract)
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (feel free to substitute raspberries, blackberries, etc here)
2 small plums, skin on, pitted and sliced to 1/4 inch thick

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan. Shake out any excess flour.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter is completely melted and starts to froth. WATCH THE BUTTER CLOSELY. Once the small white particles start to turn a light brown and the mixture smells nutty, turn off the heat and remove the pan from the stove. Let the butter cool for at least 15 minutes before you continue with the next step in the recipe. I used this time to prep the fruit!

Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, blend together eggs and sugar with an electric mixer for around 3 minutes or until the mixture is thickened a bit and light colored. Add brown butter, olive oil, milk, vanilla, and zest until completely blended.

Fold liquid mixture into flour mixture JUST until moistened and combined. Do not overmix. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes.

Fold in blueberries. Pour into springform pan, spread with a spatula so the batter fills the pan, and top with slices of plum. You may have to press down a bit on the plum slices so they’re not just chillin’ on top of the batter.

Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean and the top of the cake is browned. Let cool in the springform pan for 10 minutes. Remove the springform and let cool completely.

*Note: I know this is a “cake” and it has “sugar” in it, but how lovely would this be served at a brunch with some freshly whipped cream served alongside baked eggs? Lovely indeed, I think.

2 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Recipes

Search for the Best Brownies


In the past few years I’ve developed a real disdain for anything pre-packaged and sold in the store that I can cook or bake at home. If anyone tells you a story about me yelling out “LITTLE DEBBIE!” in a demonic voice in the grocery store as if Twinkies were my lifeblood… well… that’s a lie.

YOU CAN’T MAKE A TWINKIE AT HOME PEOPLE IT’S HARD.

Ahem.

As I was saying, if I can make it from scratch, I try. Cakes, mayonnaise, salad dressing, pie crust, tomato sauce. But some things just don’t taste the same as store bought. Like brownies. Few things taste as ooey-gooey delicious as brownies from the box. “You had brownie mix?!” the BF exclaimed Sunday night. “No… I made these from scratch.” Crestfallen. “Oh.”

But it’s true. They are not the same. And it is my eternal challenge to find a homemade brownie that tastes the same (or dare I say, better?) than a boxed brownie. The below recipe is as close as I’ve ever gotten. While not quite Duncan Hines, these babies are gooooo-ood, and they disappeared into happy bellies in a matter of minutes.

On the menu:
Lauren’s Almost-from-a-box-but-not-quite brownies

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together vegetable oil, white sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix well until incorporated. Pour batter into greased 8 x 8 baking dish.

Bake for 20 – 27 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting.

2 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Recipes

Prune

I have a lot of opinions. If you know me in real life, this is not news to you. Some opinions are totally founded, others… not so much. I’ll admit it either way. One opinion that I think is completely justified is the aversion to trendy restaurants. If the chef is incredible, the food the best you’ve ever tasted, the ambience outstanding, then great. I want to eat there. If the food is mediocre but no one is willing to say it because the backer is a Vanity Fair editor and Jerry Seinfeld dines with Brooke Shields at this place on the regular… I just can’t buy it.

Enter Prune. Anthony Bourdain endorsed. Frequented by celebrities. And wholly worth the money.

photo c/o Foodie in Denial

Prune 54 East 1st St, New York, NY. Prune is a teeny, tiny American restaurant with an open kitchen, bright lights, and zero pretension. The menu is small but hearty, the wine list extensive, and each bite worthy of a “wow.” Reservations must be made at least a couple days in advance for weekend spots but it is so very worth it.

On the menu:
Roasted marrow bones with parsley salad and sea salt
Pork braised in octopus broth with clams, kale, and beans
Lamb blade chop with potatoes skordalia and dandelion greens
Cornmeal poundcake with poached pears, whipped ricotta, and rosemary syrup
Candied pumpkin with sugared “hay” with greek yogurt and honey

Verdict: Oh mama. This is one of those meals where in two weeks I’ll probably forget what I had for my main course because the starters and desserts were so incredibly out of this world. I had a slight apprehension when my dining partner suggested the bone marrow. It literally showed up on the table looking like the picture above, and all I could think of was, “My dog chewed on bones like that.” But friends… oh, friends. You dig out the roasted marrow with a little spoon and spread it on oiled toast, top it with the crunchy greens, sprinkle a little sea salt on top and inhale. If you can get past the consistency of the marrow, you will LOVE this dish.

The other standout of the meal was the dessert. After a full bottle of wine, I was feeling just adventurous enough to order something called “hay.” I am so very glad that I did. Little cubes of candied pumpkin are nestled in shredded wheat, with a dollop of greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey. I wanted to lick the plate. It was just that good.

For a take on Prune’s fabulous “hay” dessert, take a cup of greek yogurt, crunch up some shredded wheat cereal into the cup, and add a drizzle of honey. I don’t know if this dish is commonplace somewhere in the world, but if not… I’m patenting it right now. Hey breakfast.

Leave a comment

Filed under New York Restaurants

Homemade but still kind of not

I have a confession to make: I’m a little bit of a food snob when it comes to certain things (no Prego EVER, Bisquick? Uh uh, Aunt Jemima go home), and a total lazy butt when it comes to others (Ortega fajita seasoning YUM, Twinkies and Twix? ok!, Stouffer’s vegetable lasagna helloooo lover). So when a friend from work sent me a recipe that involved Pillsbury crescent roll dough, I scoffed for .2 seconds and then I drooled a little.

Oh, come on, we all drool.

I made this ridiculously quick and easy cheesecake pie for The BF and his roommates (who got mad at me because they apparently have this weird hangup about not eating junk food every day) and in a matter of hours half the pan was gone. Success.

On the menu:
Sopapilla Cheesecake Pie

2 (8 oz.)  packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 (8 oz.) cans refrigerated crescent rolls
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
2 Tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Beat together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth.

Unroll the cans of crescent roll dough, and use a rolling pin to shape each piece into 9 x 13 inch rectangles. Press one piece into the bottom of the baking dish. Evenly spread the cream cheese mixture into the baking dish, then cover with the remaining piece of crescent roll dough. Blend together the cinnamon and butter. Dot the mixture over the top of the cheesecake.

Bake in the preheated oven until the crescent dough has puffed and turned golden brown, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle with honey. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into 12 squares.

3 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Recipes

Creamy Dreamy Cuppa Love

A few days ago I left my apartment en route to The Boyfriend’s and the Christmas mood struck me mid trip. I stopped at a deli for hot chocolate, and when I arrived at the apartment, BF’s roommate said, “What kind is it?!” And when I answered Swiss Miss he made a face. “Oh. I thought you’d be drinking something fancy.” I was embarrassed.

So to maintain my reputation, here is my own recipe for hot chocolate, which I promise I do actually make for myself. All the time. And if you should ever stop my apartment and find an empty Swiss Miss packet on the counter next to a Twinkie wrapper… well, those aren’t mine.

On the menu:
Homemade hot chocolate
Serves 2 (in big mugs, which is how it should be)

Disclaimer: this hot chocolate is not for everyone. It is VERY cocoa-y because I use a little less sugar than most recipes call for. But I like it that way. So… there.

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups milk
1/4 cup heavy cream

Pour the milk and cream in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let the milk simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cocoa, sugar, and salt. Mix well. Add the vanilla and stir again. Bring the mixture up to a boil and let cook at the high temperature for around 5 minutes (careful not to let it overflow… or you might have to clean up a big, fat, chocolatey mess on your stovetop. Not that that has ever happened to me…). Reduce to a simmer and let cook for another 5 minutes.

At this point you can taste it to make sure it’s not too sweet (or bitter) and add sugar/cocoa/milk as you please. This is also the important time where you add a small truckload of marshmallows. And then you drink. And then you’re instantly happy. Like magic.

6 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Recipes

As American As…

Although this post is not timely, seeing as it is after Thanksgiving and not very many people make apple pie for Christmas (in our family it’s cookies all the way), I do hope you’ll look at it, file it away it your mental recipe box, and pull it out when you feel the urge to bake something hearty and patriotic, because this recipe is IT. This is some goooood eats.

On the menu:
Caramel crusted apple pie
Adapted from this recipe at AllRecipes.com

1/2 this recipe for crust (the full recipe makes enough crust for 2 whole pies)
6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/8″ thick slices
1/2 cup butter
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In preparation, roll out your crusts. The bottom crust goes in the pie pan. The top crust should be rolled out in preparation with decorative shapes cut out (I used a sharp knife to cut out hearts, but you can use any shape you have; or do a lattice crust if you prefer).

After your crusts are prepared and ready to go, melt butter in a saucepan and add flour to make a paste. Add water and sugars, and stir until melted. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Place apple slices in a large bowl. First toss with cinnamon. Next, pour 1/4 cup sugar/butter mixture over apples and toss until all the slices are relatively coated. Place crust in the bottom of your pie pan. Fill crust with apples, mounded slightly [don’t worry if you think you have a TON of apples; they really cook down].

Pour* the remainder of the sugar/butter mixture over the top crust, slowly and carefully so it doesn’t spill. Bake 15 minutes at 425. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for around 35 – 45 minutes or until the edges of your crust are nicely browned.

*Note: you may have to reheat the mixture a bit at this point, as it will thicken up VERY quickly.

6 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Recipes

Hey Punkin!

Even though the temperatures in New York feel more like June than October, I can not help but crave everything pumpkin. I suddenly remembered a point last year when I went to the grocery store to get a can of pumpkin and they were sold out. I would not let that happen again. Thankfully, they were fully stocked and I am now the proud owner of six cans of pure, delicious pumpkin. Don’t judge.

On the menu:
Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies
Adapted from this recipe at AllRecipes.com

1 cup pure canned pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp milk
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, and egg. In a separate bowl, soft together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Dissolve the baking soda in the milk. Add to the flour mixture. Add flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture until completely blended. Add vanilla and chocolate chips.

Drop cookies by spoonful onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, or until the edges are brown*. Let cool for at least ten minutes, or until you literally can not take it anymore. Pour a glass of milk. Eat your cares away.

*Note: these cookies are like little pillows of heaven, soft and cakey and essentially perfection. They will still be soft when you pull them out of the oven. Also, they do not spread so you can put them close together on the tray.

6 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Recipes