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Sep 23, 2014
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Baked: Fudgy Peanut Butter-Pretzel Brownies

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014



I love a good brownie, and I love trying new recipes for them. They’re simple to whip up and satisfy a chocolate craving in less than an hour. I was initially drawn a David Lebovitz recipe because it doesn’t call for flour. That’s great news for the gluten-averse crowd, but for me, it meant a fudgier, more chocolaty crumb. I was not disappointed.

But I couldn’t let it rest there. One of my favorite cookies at Whisk, where I help out from time to time, is a peanut butter-pretzel cookie. The salty, sweet, crunchy combination is perfect, so I took played with those same ingredients, except now the pretzels and peanut butter snuggle together in a fudgy chocolate bed. You’ll definitely need a glass of milk for this one.

A few tips: Be sure to beat the batter at least 2 minutes, until it is glossy and pulls away from the bowl for a cracking top and the perfect brownie texture. A hand mixer on medium speed is ideal.

Also, for the fudgiest brownies, under-bake them. No more than 25 minutes in an 8-by-8-inch pan is best. Remember, they are still cooking when you take them out of the oven, so let them rest for 45 minutes to finish. Enjoy and happy baking!


Fudgy Peanut Butter-Pretzel Brownies
Adapted from a David Lebovitz recipe
Makes 1 8-by-8-inch pan

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
¾ cup sugar
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped or in chips
2 room-temperature eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup coarsely crushed pretzels*
¼ tsp. flaky sea salt

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line an 8-by-8-inch cake pan with parchment paper (Do not skip the parchment paper; these brownies will stick to the pan without it.).
• In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Remove from heat and add the sugar and chocolate, stirring to coat the chocolate in butter. Let sit 1 minute, then stir until chocolate is completely melted and the sugar is dissolved.
• Use a hand mixer on medium speed to beat in the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla, cocoa powder and cornstarch about 2 minutes, until the batter is smooth and shiny.
• Fold in the peanut butter chips and the crushed pretzels, then pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the flaky sea salt.
• Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 45 minutes before slicing and serving.

*Substitute gluten-free pretzels or omit them entirely to make this dessert gluten-free.

Baked: 8 boozy desserts to accompany your Guide to Drinking

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Our annual Guide to Drinking graces the flip side of our September issue, and we’re talking about everything from old-school bourbon to the cider renaissance to St. Louis’ ambitious super sommeliers. But our favorite spirits and brews don’t always have to be sipped from a glass; they also make fantastic additions to our favorite desserts. Here, 8 great recipes for boozy baking with bourbon, tequila, rum and even beer.




1. Niche chef-owner Gerard Craft put a Southern twist on a classic tiramisu for us a few years ago with a generous soak in bourbon.

2. Our first of two bread pudding recipes drizzles sweet, fruit-studded brioche with a sticky maple-whiskey sauce.




3. Already pining for Harvest’s brioche bread pudding? Cheer up; we’ve got that sweet, boozy cake recipe right here.

4. Bourbon + bacon + brownies = brilliance




5. Tart pomegranate notes mingle with lime, mint and rum in this happy mojito-inspired cupcake.

6. Fair warning: This marjolaine is not for the faint of heart. But the effort you put into this dessert – from the delicate sponge cake to the sweet rum syrup – is well worth the effort.




7. Not much of a baker? Let your ice cream maker do the world with a creamy chocolate and maple-stout beer concoction.

8. Take advantage of the last few blackberries of the season (and that brand-new bottle of tequila) and make a deliciously drunk sorbet.


- tiramisu photo by Carmen Troesser; cupcake photo by Jonathan S. Pollack; ice cream photo by Laura Miller

Baked: Rustic Tomato Pie

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014


There are tons of sweet pie fillings out there, but what about savory? That flaky buttery crust goes perfectly with your entree, too, especially using seasonal tomatoes. I used fresh mini heirloom tomatoes for this rustic pie (or galette if you want to make rustic sound fancy), and the result is a savory delight. There’s corn for crunch, softened onions for another flavor dimension, and two kinds of cheese. It was messy, delicious and quickly gobbled up. I already know I’m making at least once more before tomato season is over. Enjoy and happy baking!
Rustic Tomato Pie
Adapted from a recipe from Smitten Kitchen
2 to 4 servings

1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
3 cups small fresh tomatoes
¼ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. dried thyme
¾ cup corn
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 Pie Crust (recipe follows)
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for sprinkling
¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
Handful fresh basil, chopped
1 egg, beaten

• In a large pan over medium heat, cook the onions with 1 tablespoon olive oil, stirring every so often until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
• Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, tomatoes, salt, pepper and thyme to the same pan over high heat. Cover and let cook, shaking the pan occasionally to roll the tomatoes around so they cook evenly. They will burst and pop in 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the lid, reduce the heat to medium, and add the corn and softened onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper and let cool to room temperature.
• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
• Roll 1 pie crust out on a lightly floured surface to a rough 12-inch round. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the crust with the Dijon mustard and mayonnaise. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese onto the crust.
• Sprinkle the tomato mixture with Parmesan cheese, then spoon the tomato mixture on top of the cheddar in the center of the circle, leaving a 2-inch border all the way around. Fold the edges up around the filling, pleating as needed. The center of the pie should remain open.
• Brush the crust with the egg and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until puffed and golden-brown. Remove and sprinkled with the basil. Let stand 5 minutes, then transfer onto a serving plate. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Pie Crust
Adapted from a recipe from SmittenKitchen.com
Makes 1 double- or 2 single-crust pies

2½ cups flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
2 sticks (8 oz.) butter, cubed and chilled
¾ cup ice cold water

• In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.
• Sprinkle the butter over the flour mixture. Use a pastry blender or your hands to mix together until the pieces of butter are the size of small peas.
• Drizzle half of the ice water over the mixture, and use a rubber spatula to gather the dough together. Add more ice water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together in a ball.
• Divide the dough in half and flatten into a thick disc. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap, and let chill for at least 1 hour. Dough will keep refrigerated up to 3 days; freeze to use later.

Baked: Mango Pie

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014



Here’s a twist on all those berry and stone fruit pie recipes from the August issue. How about a pie that’s best eaten cold and requires minimal baking? I present my mango pie, a recipe that has been in our family for years.

My mother originally designed this recipe to make three pies, allowing her to use the entire can of mango pulp and all the mascarpone. I’ve cut the ingredients down to make only one pie, and you can use the leftover puree in smoothies or drink it with yogurt as a mango lassi. Any leftover filling can be served as mango mousse and topped with graham cracker crumbs. However, I highly recommend making three pies; I’ve known quite a few people to eat half a pie in one sitting.

I love this mango pie with a classic graham cracker crust, but it tastes pretty scrumptious using vanilla wafers or even animal crackers. The mango filling is smooth and velvety, and the crust provides a satisfying crunch. This is one you’ll find hard to resist. Enjoy and happy baking!

Mango Pie
Makes 1 9-inch pie

5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing
10 graham crackers
6 Tbsp. sugar, divided
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1-oz. packet Knox unflavored gelatin
½ cup cold water
¼ cup hot water
1 cup Ratna Alphonso mango pulp*, plus more for drizzling
1/3 cup mascarpone or cream cheese
Fresh berries for garnish (optional)

• Place the rack in middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-inch pie pan.
• In the bowl of a food processor, plus the graham crackers until finely ground.
• In a large bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, the melted butter, 2 tablespoons sugar and the salt. Stir together until combined. Pour the mixture into the pie pan and press it onto the bottom and up the sides in an even layer.
• Bake until crisp, 12 to 15 minutes, then cool on a rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes.
• Meanwhile, whip the heavy cream in the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer on high until soft peaks form. Set aside.
•  In a small bowl, dissolve the gelatin in the cold water and let sit 2 minutes. Then add the hot water, whisking until combined and there are no lumps.
• In a blender or the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the mango pulp, mascarpone, the remaining 4 tablespoons sugar, whipped cream and the dissolved gelatin until well blended.
• Pour the mixture evenly into the baked crust and smooth the top with a spatula. Drizzle a bit of the remaining mango pulp over the top for garnish. Refrigerate at least 3 to 4 hours before serving as is or with fresh fruit.

*I prefer Ratna Alphonso mango pulp for this pie; it is available at Global Foods and Indian specialty stores.

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.

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