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Jul 31, 2014
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Baked: Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Cherry-Lavender Compote

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014



As regular Baked readers know, I recently espoused my love not only for a lovely cherry-lavender hand pie recipe, but also for the excess filling the recipe leaves behind. That sweet, floral substance inspired me to create a classy dessert for a dinner party. I opted for this sinfully dark, but not-too-rich chocolate cake.

This recipe is largely a classic chocolate cake except buttermilk is replaced with red wine. The result doesn’t necessarily taste boozy. Instead, it’s a dense, richly flavorful chocolate cake, perfect for pairing with fresh whipped cream and compote. Any red wine, regardless of price point or type, produces unique flavor. I’ve used a cabernet sauvignon as well as a Malbec; even the Trader Joe’s “Two-buck Chuck” tasted great in this cake. And the best part of this recipe: You already have an open bottle of the perfect dessert wine pairing. Enjoy and happy baking!


Red Wine Chocolate Cake
Adapted from a recipe by Smitten Kitchen
Makes 1 9-inch cake

6 Tbsp. room temperature butter
¾ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
¾ cup red wine
¾ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. flour
½ cup high quality cocoa powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
Pinch kosher salt
¼ cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
2 cups heavy cream
Cherry-Lavender Compote (Recipe follows.)

• Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 9-inch cake or pie pan with nonstick spray.
• In a large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar 5 minutes, until combined. Add the egg, yolk, red wine and vanilla separately, beating well between each addition. Use a spatula to gently fold in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt until combined.
• Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool before turning it out of the pan and dust with powdered sugar.
• Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, beat the heavy cream and ¼ cup powdered sugar together with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Serve with the Red Wine Chocolate Cake, along with the Cherry-Lavender Compote.

Cherry-Lavender Compote

1½ lbs. cherries, pitted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
Juice of one-quarter a lemon
½ tsp. lavender extract
A pinch plus 1½ tsp. table salt, divided
1/3 cup granulated sugar

• Coarsely chop the cherries and toss in a large bowl with the lavender extract, cornstarch, lemon juice, a pinch of salt and 1/3 cup granulated sugar. Adjust the sugar to taste.

Baked: Cherry Lavender Hand Pies

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014



I used to dislike pie so much that when anyone offered me a slice, my reaction was a perfunctory “No, thanks.” However, this is increasingly difficult the more I play with fruit and dough. Case in point: When I saw fresh cherries at the supermarket, I knew exactly how I wanted to use them. Floral, fragrant lavender perfectly cuts the sweetness of dark, luscious cherries, and there’s no better package for this combination than pie.

Instead of a cumbersome traditional pie, I opted for the more portable hand pie. This also provided greater crust-to-filling ratio (Rejoice, crust lovers!), but the best part is all the leftover filling. Place it in a saucepot over medium heat let it boil and bubble until it became thick and jam-like. Then spoon it over chocolate cake, smear it on pancakes or just close your eyes and inhale that heavenly scent. These portable bites smell just as good as they taste. Enjoy and happy baking!

Cherry Lavender Hand Pies
Adapted from The Martha Stewart Handbook
Makes about 24 3-inch pies

1½ lbs. cherries, pitted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
Juice of one-quarter of a lemon
½ tsp. lavender extract
A pinch plus 1½ tsp. table salt, divided
1/3 cup plus 1½ Tbsp. granulated sugar, plus more to taste, divided
½ tsp. lemon zest (optional)
3¾ cups flour
1½ cups plus ½ Tbsp. unsalted chilled butter, very cold and cubed
¾ to 1 cup cold buttermilk
1 large egg, beaten
Coarse sugar for sprinkling

• Coarsely chop the cherries and toss in a large bowl with the lavender extract, cornstarch, lemon juice, a pinch of salt and 1/3 cup granulated sugar. Adjust the sugar to taste and set aside.
• In a large bowl, rub the lemon zest into the sugar, then add the flour and the 1½ remaining teaspoon of salt and mix well. Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your hands or a pastry cutter until it is in small, pea-sized pieces.
• Pour in the buttermilk 1 tablespoon at a time, using your hands to work the dough until it just comes together in a ball. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
• Place the chilled dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper and roll it out ¼-inch thick. Use a 3-by-3-inch square cookie cutter or a sharp knife to slice 24 dough squares, rerolling as necessary (Chill the dough again if it gets too soft.).
• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
• Arrange 12 dough squares about 1-inch apart on the baking sheets. Brush the edges of each square with the beaten egg.
• Place a heaping teaspoon of cherry filling in the center of the squares, then insert a small cube of the remaining ½ tablespoon of butter into the center of each scoop of filling.
• Cover each pie with the remaining dough squares and use your fingers or a fork to seal the edges. Poke a few holes in the top of each pie with a fork. Brush the tops with the remaining beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
• Bake 15 minutes, until puffed and golden on top and browner at the edges. Transfer to racks and let cool to room temperature before serving.

Baked: Naughty Vicar Shortbread

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014



The London Tea Room makes a signature black currant-vanilla tea called The Naughty Vicar, which has light floral notes and a lovely aroma. When I made small cups for my visiting family, I had no idea the monsters I’d create. They now consume this tea several times a day, and I’m frequently asked to buy it by the pound. I have no idea how they run through it so quickly.

I wanted to do something different with the tea to take advantage of its unique, popular flavor. The London Team Room occasionally uses it in a shortbread, but it hasn’t been in the rotation recently, so I decided to make my own. I ground the leaves and tossed them directly into the shortbread. It’s an easy recipe, and it produces the butteriest, melt-in-your-mouth texture. If you like Danish butter cookies, you will love these. They’re ideal with – you guessed it – a cup of tea or coffee. They’re also addictive, so beware! Enjoy and happy baking.

Naughty Vicar Shortbread
Makes about 20 cookies

2 heaped Tbsp. loose-leaf Naughty Vicar tea
½ cup powdered sugar
1½ sticks (6 oz.) room temperature butter
2 egg yolks
2 scant cups flour

• In the bowl of a food processor, add the tea and powdered sugar and pulse until the tea is finely ground.
• Add the tea and sugar to a large mixing bowl with the butter and egg yolks and combine with a spatula. Add the flour and mix until incorporated and a dough forms. Shape the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 1 hour until well chilled.
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• Remove the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface about ½-inch thick. Use a small cookie cutter to punch out the cookies and place on a baking sheet. Roll the dough again and continue cutting cookies until all the dough is used.
• Bake 15 minutes, until golden around the edges and a little golden on top. Let cool completely before eating.


Baked: Black Forest Trifle

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014



Despite its German roots, Black Forest cake is one of the most popular cakes in India. I grew up with it, despite not having much affinity for pairing cherries and chocolate. But when my fiance and I recently traveled to India on his first trip there, I was excited for him to try it. It’s available at nearly every bakery in India, and we tried it in many different cities during our travels. Of course, he loved it.

In a traditional Black Forest cake, several super soft, spongy chocolate layers sandwich whipped cream and chopped cherries, and it’s always coated in chocolate shavings. I wanted to make my own variation, and since I was running out of time for a dinner party, I quickly assembled these cakes in cups, trifle-style. These are simple, but the combination is divine if you like fruit and chocolate combos. I had several friends go for seconds, which every home cook knows is the best compliment. Enjoy and happy baking!

Black Forest Trifle
Adapted from a recipe on Novice Housewife
10 to 12 servings

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 large eggs
1 to 1¼ cup granulated sugar, divided
¾ cup cake flour, sifted
3 cups heavy cream
1½ cups powdered sugar
3 cups fresh dark cherries, pitted
¼ cup Kirsch, brandy or rum
Shaved chocolate or chocolate sprinkles, to garnish

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch pie or cake pan.
• In a saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate with ½ cup water, stirring with a rubber spatula until it achieves a pudding-like consistency, about 5 minutes. Set aside and let cool completely.
• In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and ½ cup granulated sugar on high until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gently fold in the cake flour, and then fold in the chocolate mixture until there are no streaks.
• Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. (Avoid opening the oven door too often during backing, as the cake can sink). Loosen and invert the cake onto a rack and let cool completely.
• Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream and powdered sugar on high until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes.
• In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the cherries, ½ cup granulated sugar and ¼ cup water together and let simmer about 5 minutes, until the cherries are soft and the sugar dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the Kirsch, brandy or rum. Add more sugar or alcohol to taste. Let cool completely.
• To assemble: Cut the cake into small, bite-sized pieces. Place a few pieces of cake into the bottom of a clear glass or mason jars. Spoon some cherry compote on top, letting the juices soak into the cake. Add a layer of whipped cream, then repeat the layers, finishing with chocolate sprinkles or shaved chocolate.

Baked: Gluten-free Cornbread

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014



Despite my Southern roots, I’ve never made cornbread before, though I’ve enjoyed plenty of it. But after trying the sinfully indulgent, bacon fat-fried cornbread soaked in honey at Taste, I decided the time had come to make my own version of this Southern staple.

This version of cornbread is more cake-like, perfect for soaking up a puddle of honey. It’s a great treat on its own, but it would also be a wonderful addition to a savory breakfast of eggs and bacon. You could even thin it out a bit and try using the batter for pancakes. Since I used almond and oat flours instead of all-purpose, this recipe is gluten-free. Enjoy and happy baking!

Gluten-free Cornbread
Makes 1 9-inch round

4 Tbsp. (2 oz.) butter
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup ginger ale or club soda
3 eggs
½ cup plus 6 Tbsp. almond flour
½ cup oat flour
¼ cup yellow or white cornmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
1/3 cup honey, plus more for dipping
2 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch pie or cake pan.
• In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and let cool 5 to 10 minutes. When the melted butter is just warm to the touch, whisk in the milk, ginger ale and eggs until well combined. Set aside.
• In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, oat flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
• Whisk the honey and coconut oil into the butter mixture, then pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined, then let the batter sit 5 minutes to thicken.
• Pour the batter into the pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and the top springs back when lightly touched.
• Let cool for 10 minutes and then slice and serve with honey, if desired.



Baked: Oat Flour Cookies

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014



Today, I’m sharing a recent discovery: oat flour. It’s essentially finely ground oats that can be partially swapped with all-purpose flour in some recipes. While I haven’t tried grinding it myself yet, I did experiment with a small bag from King Arthur Flour. The result is a denser texture, similar to whole-wheat flour, although I found I much prefer oats.

These cookies are thick with a chewy middle and slight crisp edge. For a salty-sweet crunch, I added some chopped pretzels and chopped milk chocolate to the first batch and sprinkled the tops with sea salt. The second time, I opted for honey-roasted peanuts and swapped half the butter for peanut butter. I couldn’t decide which one was better, but my friends all voted for pretzel version. Make whatever kind you which, using whatever you have in your pantry. It’s a great, healthier alternative to regular chocolate chip cookies. Enjoy and happy baking!

Oat Flour Cookies
Adapted from a King Arthur Flour recipe
Makes a dozen cookies

¾ cup oat flour (or finely ground oats)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 stick (½ cup) butter
¾ cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup chopped pretzels
½ cup chopped milk chocolate
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
• In a small bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
• In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer about 5 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Then beat in the egg and vanilla extract.
• Use a spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet until well incorporated. Then stir in the chopped pretzels and chocolate.
• Drop large tablespoons of dough onto the baking sheets and sprinkle each cookie with sea salt. Bake 12 to 15 minutes until lightly golden brown. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Baked: Raspberry Hazelnut Muffins

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014


Martha Stewart makes a delicious pistachio muffin. They are buttery, scrumptious and perfect for a special occasion. But what about a muffin I can eat for a quick, on-the-go breakfast? I don’t want to add a stick of butter to something I’m going to eat every day. So for this muffin, I made a few substitutions.

First, I swapped out half the butter for coconut oil, which made them unbelievably moist. I also used ground hazelnuts, though almonds or pistachios would do very well. The best part is they whip up so quickly. The boyfriend and I ate one (OK, maybe two) daily until they were gone. Enjoy and happy baking!

Raspberry Hazelnut Muffins
Adapted from a recipe in “Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes”
Makes 12

1 cup finely ground hazelnuts
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. (2 oz.) room-temperature butter
4 Tbsp. (2 oz) coconut oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup flour
6 to 12 oz. fresh raspberries
¼ cup coarse sugar, for sprinkling

• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin.
• In a food processor, pulse the ground hazelnuts with the granulated sugar and salt. Set aside.
• In another large bowl, beat together the butter, coconut oil, vanilla extract and eggs. Add the hazelnut mixture and beat well. Then gently fold in the flour with a spatula until just incorporated.
• Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Drop 1 to 2 raspberries on top of each muffin and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
• Bake approximately 25 minutes and let cool before serving.

Baked: Caramel Croissant Bread Pudding

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014



This bread pudding will not be taken lightly. Stale croissants are smothered in caramel sauce blended with bourbon and infused with lapsang souchong, a variety of black tea available at The London Tea Room. It’s topped (twice) with chopped pecans and milk chocolate chips, then drizzled with maple syrup. The tea adds a smoky complexity to the caramel that’s almost akin to bacon (something I’ve considered adding next time – and there will be a next time). This bread pudding is not overly sweet, so serve it with maple syrup if you prefer it sweeter.

The whole thing is easily put together and can even be made the night before a great brunch. I can’t wait to make this again, this time served warm with some vanilla ice cream. Enjoy and happy baking!

Caramel Croissant Bread Pudding
4 to 6 Servings
Adapted from a recipe by Nigella Lawson

2 large day-old croissants
¾ cup milk
½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. heavy cream
¼ cup lapsang souchong tea
¾ cup sugar
Squeeze of lemon juice
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp. bourbon (or vanilla extract)
Handful milk chocolate chips, divided
Handful toasted pecans, chopped, divided
Maple syrup or ice cream, to finish

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• Tear the croissants into large chunks and place in a 9-inch pie pan or 8-inch square pan. Set aside.
• Bring the milk and cream to a simmer in a saucepan over medium to medium-high heat until it almost reaches a boil. Stir in the tea, reduce heat to low and steep 5 minutes. Cover, remove from heat and steep another 10 minutes. Use a fine mesh sieve to strain the tea-infused milk into a bowl and set aside. Discard the tea leaves.
• Swirl the sugar, lemon juice and 3 tablespoons water in a saucepan to help dissolve the sugar. Caramelize the mixture over medium to high heat until it turns a deep amber color, about 3 to 5 minutes.
• Remove the pan from the heat and add the tea-infused milk, whisking quickly to ensure the caramel doesn’t harden. (If it gets too thick, warm over low heat and stir until melted.) Set aside to cool slightly.
• In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and bourbon. Then whisk the eggs into the warm caramel (Be sure the caramel is warm, not hot, or the eggs will cook.). Immediately pour the mixture over the croissants and let soak 10 minutes.
• Sprinkle with half the chocolate chips and pecans. Bake 20 minutes until bread pudding is set. Top with remaining chocolate chips and pecans. Serve warm with maple syrup or vanilla ice cream.

Baked: Goat Cheese Sugar Cookies

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014



Cream cheese is often used in sugar cookie recipes to soften and add tang to these sometimes overly sweet cookies. Well as it turns out, goat cheese adds an even greater flavor complexity. A splash of bourbon elevates these from a childhood treat to a classy adult snack. Both flavors are subtle – you probably couldn’t pick them out without knowing the ingredients – but they contribute an acidic, almost savory note.

Although sugar cookies tend to be a holiday treat, these are suitable any time. Feel free to play; skip the sprinkles or toss in some lemon zest. Enjoy and happy baking!

Goat Cheese Sugar Cookies
Adapted from a recipe at Food.com
Makes 3 dozen cookies

2¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1¼ cups sugar
1/3 cup (3 oz.) soft goat cheese, room temperature
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup canola oil
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. bourbon (or milk if you prefer)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Nonpareil sprinkles or sanding sugar to decorate (optional)

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
• Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
• In another large bowl, whisk the sugar, goat cheese and melted butter until the mixture forms a smooth paste (A few remaining lumps are OK.). Then add the canola oil, the egg, bourbon and vanilla extract and stir until smooth. Fold in the flour mixture until it is well incorporated and no dry ingredients remain. The dough will be soft, but it should still be easy to handle. If not, refrigerate 15 to 20 minutes.
• Pour the sprinkles into a small bowl, if using. Scoop the dough out 1 tablespoon at a time and gently roll it into a small ball. Roll the ball in the sprinkles, if desired, then arrange them on a prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches of space between each cookie.
• Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until the cookies are just set and slightly cracked.
• Cool on the baking sheet 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.



Baked: Coconut Chocolate Chip Scones

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014



These scones are definitely for the coconut lover. While I am not one usually one of those people, my boyfriend is, and he’ll often skip breakfast if I don’t insist he eat something. It doesn’t take much convincing to get him to try these.

The scones have a pleasant, soft-yet-crumbly texture thanks to the mixture of grated coconut and coconut milk. (Grated coconut offers a more subtle texture than coconut flakes, but feel free to swap them.) The end result is delicate and light with rich chocolate undertones and crunchy sugar on top. They’re a snap to put together and the unbaked triangles are great to freeze, then pop in the oven for a quick breakfast.

Enjoy and happy baking!

Coconut Chocolate Chip Scones
Adapted from a recipe at Pastry Affair
8 Servings

1½ cup flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
1/3 cup coconut oil (solid state, not liquid)
1 cup unsweetened grated coconut
¾ cup coconut milk
1 tsp. coconut extract
3 oz. chopped chocolate or chocolate chips
2 Tbsp. Turbinado coarse sugar

• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
• In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. Use a pastry blender or your fingers to cut in the solid coconut oil until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
• Stir in the grated coconut, coconut milk, coconut extract and chocolate until the mixture comes together.
• Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form into a disk roughly 1-inch thick. Cut the dough into 8 wedges (like a pie) and place the triangles on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the tops with the coarse sugar.
• Bake 16 to 18 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown. Allow the scones to come to room temperature before serving.

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