Friday, November 9, 2012

Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies

Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies via my lovely friend Carolyn


1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter (I probably could have added a little more for a stronger peanut flavor)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 egg
1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Mix thoroughly shortening, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and egg. Blend in flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Cover and chill.
  2. Heat oven to 375°. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, coat with sugar and place 3 inches apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not hard.
*Note: don't press these down with a fork!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Zucchini Bread

If you've never tried zucchini bread, you may be skeptical. 

A vegetable? In a baked good?


Similar to carrots in carrot cake, when baked into a cinnamon-spicy batter, zucchini takes on a mildly sweet flavor and makes the bread incredibly moist. People often confuse this treat with banana bread (which sometimes works to entice your picky eaters!), and can hardly believe that a green veggie is the star ingredient.

Although nothing fancy, I have to say this recipe is one of my favorites. My grandma has been making zucchini bread for as long as I can remember. For me, this is comfort food. Soft and sweet with a hint of spice, I always crave it when I'm feeling a bit nostalgic and missing home.

This bread makes for an indulgent breakfast bite or yummy snack. I particularly like to cut a big slice cold out of the fridge, and smear a dab of butter across the top. It tastes wonderful plain, but you can also throw a few handfuls of chopped pecans, walnuts, or chocolate chips into the batter before baking.

If you try this, I promise is will quickly become one of your well-worn recipes!

Zucchini Bread via my Grandma Mary
Makes 2 medium sized loaf pans, or 3 small disposable loaf pans


3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt (scant)
3 eggs
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 1/2 cups grated, peeled, medium sized zucchini (leave half of the peel on)
Optional: 1 1/2 cups or so chocolate chips or nuts

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease the pans.
  2. Sift together: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Beat in: eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla, cinnamon, and zucchini. The batter will be stiff until you add the zucchini, and then it will start to loosen up.
  4. Optional: stir chocolate chips or nuts (or both!) into the batter
  5. Bake in greased loaf pans for 50-60 minutes. The zucchini bread will be done when the top looks dry and a skewer can be inserted into the loaf and come out clean.
  6. Let cool in the pan 10 minutes then remove and let cool

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Black-Bottom Pecan Praline Bars

A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of taking the train to my roommate's family home in the suburbs. I took advantage of my first weekend away from Manhattan to spend some major time baking. After the first six weeks of being thrown into a new job in a new city, it felt wonderful to get a break back to the familiar - spending time in the kitchen, taking the chance to flip through my favorite magazines, and seeing some green again!

Reading through bittersweet, a cookbook by Alice Medrich that I received for Christmas last year, it was certainly tricky to pick a single recipe out of the collection of exquisite chocolate treats.

Between the choices of cookies, cakes, brownies, and ice creams, we eventually settled on these black-bottom pecan praline bars. The bottom half of the bars are made from half of your favorite brownie recipe, with the top half featuring a praline topping. The result is a a delicious combination of chewy, dense, chocolatey brownie; crunchy and savory pecans; and caramelized crust.

I brought these to my office after my weekend away, and they were a hit. If you want a new bar cookie recipe that feels slightly more special than your everyday brownie, you have to try this one! I would also highly recommend Alice's cookbook - it is beautifully composed and full of innovative recipes where chocolate is the star. Need I say more?

Black-Bottom Pecan Praline Bars via bittersweet by Alice Medrich
Makes 25 bars in one 9-inch square baking pan


Brownie Bottom Layer:
1/2 your favorite brownie batter recipe (without nuts).

I used the following (already halved):
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
5/8 cups sugar
3/8 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cold large egg
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Pecan Praline Topping:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped pecans (or walnuts)

  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
For brownie layer:
  1. Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a large saucepan over very low heat. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is hot enough that you want to remove your finger quickly after dipping it in to test - DO NOT OVERHEAT.  Remove from heat and transfer to bowl, setting aside briefly until mixture is only warm, not hot.
  2. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula.
  3. Spread the brownie batter in a thin even layer in the bottom of the lined pan. Set aside.
To make the praline topping:
  1. Mix the flour and baking soda together thoroughly and set aside.
  2. Combine the melted butter, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the egg yolk and vanilla, then the flour mixture, and finally the nuts. Drop spoonfuls all over the top of the brownie batter (they will spread and cover the brownies entirely during baking).
  3. Bake until the edges of the topping are well browned and cracked, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack.
  4. Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into squares.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hello, NYC!

Well, I've done it.

I've graduated college, spent a summer in San Francisco, and moved across the country to NYC to start a new life and career.

There have certainly been a lot of changes lately, and I hope it explains my absence after my last post in July. Luckily, now that I'm getting used to the East Coast hustle and bustle (and I've accumulated some baking supplies in my tiny kitchen!) I can get back to one of my favorite hobbies when I get some free time.

I have a number of posts in the works, so stay tuned for updates!

In the meantime, I would love any suggestions in the comments for markets, restaurants, and other places where I can eat, explore, & enjoy in my new city! Do you have any favorite hot spots or must-sees?

XO, Lindsay

Monday, September 24, 2012

{Mix + Match} Neapolitan Cupcakes

Here's a fun idea, inspired by the classic combo of vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate ice cream: neapolitan cupcakes.

I made these for a girls' weekend that took place over the summer, and they were a perfect, pretty, and playful way to add a feminine touch to the occasion. Using a couple of different cake and frosting flavors was an easy way to provide some variety in dessert choices.

{chocolate + chocolate}

{vanilla + vanilla}

{vanilla + strawberry} 

{vanilla + chocolate}

{chocolate + vanilla}

{chocolate + strawberry}

For this particular batch of cupcakes, I used box mix and made homemade frosting. I'm a big fan of box mixes for the base because they are nearly impossible to get wrong! Here are some simple recipes for your own mix and match cupcakes:

Although I loved the neapolitan combo, the options here are really endless (think banana + vanilla + peanut butter + chocolate; chocolate + raspberry + orange; or vanilla + oreo + chocolate chip). Just pick a couple of easy base flavors and some fun frostings, and you're on your way!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sweet and Salty Pretzel Tart with Chocolate Ganache and Peanut Butter Swirl

We all know by now that peanut butter and chocolate is one of the best flavor combos known to man. 

Confession: I have been known to throw chocolate chips and peanut butter in the microwave from time to time when I have an insatiable craving.

This tart - made with a sweet and salty pretzel crust, chocolate ganache filling, and a creamy peanut butter swirl - is absolutely sinful (and slightly more refined than the microwave method).

I didn't think it was possible to improve on a time-tested classic, but throw some salty pretzel pieces in the mix and you've got a real showstopper.

See those crunchy pretzel bits in the crust there? They provide a great texture contrast to the silky filling of this decadent tart.

And, because it is super simple and uses ingredients that you most likely have in the pantry already, there is absolutely no excuse not to indulge a little and treat yourself to a bite of this fantastic dessert.

Really, you must try this recipe as soon as possible. 

Like, now.

Or 5 minutes ago.

Do you have the oven pre-heating yet?

Pretzel Tart Crust with Chocolate Ganache Filling and Peanut Butter Swirl via Hot Polka Dot



1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cup crushed pretzels
1 1/2 cup flour
1 egg
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (I cheated and used chocolate chips)
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat together the butter, powdered sugar and half the crushed pretzels until creamy. Mix in the flour, egg and remaining pretzels making sure to leave some pretzel pieces intact for added crunch. Form the dough into a flattened ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill it for 1 hour or overnight. My dough was pretty dry, and I had to really mix with my hands to get it to hold together.

When you're ready to roll out the tart shell take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it sit for a few minutes to make the dough more workable. Butter a 12 inch round fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Sandwich the dough between 2 large sheets of wax paper and roll it out into a 15 inch circle. Once the sheet of dough is centered in the prepared tart pan press it into the corners of the pan and fold the excess dough back over the sides to create a nice strong double edge crust, making sure to keep the dough level with the edge of the pan. Pierce the dough a few times with a fork and freeze it for half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and position a rack in the center. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit it buttered side down tightly against the inside of the tart shell. Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake it for 20 – 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake it for another 10 minutes until the edges turn golden brown. Transfer the tart to a rack and let it cool completely before filling.

To make the ganache put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set it aside. In a small sauce pan combine the cream and butter and heat it on medium heat. When it comes to just a boil pour it over the chocolate, cover it and let it sit for 3 – 5 minutes. Whisk in the chocolate until it all melts and you're left with a smooth pudding like consistency. Pour it into the cooled tart shell and smooth it out with a spatula.

Melt the peanut butter slightly in the microwave until it's runny. Pour it over the chocolate ganache and drag a knife through it to create swirls. Chill it for 10 – 15 minutes to set the filling.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Bittersweet Chocolate Glazed Espresso Brownie Bites

Finally, something chocolate.

These bittersweet chocolate glazed brownies are made with espresso, and are so gooey and chocolatey that you only need one bite to satisfy your cravings. The best part is you can make the batter in one pan, making for minimal clean-up.

These little squares are incredibly fudgy and have a deep, rich flavor.

And because they're made with espresso, you can eat them for breakfast. Right?

I would definitely say these are a very sophisticated and "grown up" take on everyone's favorite brownie.

Bittersweet Chocolate Glazed Espresso Brownie Bites adapted from Huffington Post

2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons espresso powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cold large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350F with rack in middle. Line 9x13x2in baking pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on short sides, then butter foil.
  2. Melt butter and chocolate in a medium sauce pan over low-medium heat, stirring until smooth. Be careful not to overheat or burn the chocolate. Remove pan from stove, then stir in sugar, espresso powder, vanilla, and salt with a large spoon. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring until smooth and mixture leaves side of pan. Add flour and stir until just combined.
  3. Transfer batter to 9x13 baking pan and bake until a tester inserted into center comes out with some crumbs adhering, 20 to 25 minutes. (Do not overbake.) Cool in pan on a rack 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, combine all glaze ingredients in a saucepan and heat slowly, stirring, just until smooth. Remove from heat, then pour glaze over pan of warm brownies and spread evenly with a small offset spatula. Let stand at room temperature until glaze is set, about 3 hours. Remove brownies from pan using foil as an aid and cut into 1-inch bites with a thin blade knife, cleaning knife as necessary to maintain a clean edge. Garnish with espresso beans if desired.
Make ahead: Brownie layer can be made 3 days ahead (without glaze) and kept chilled in 1 piece wrapped well in foil. Bring to room temperature before glazing, about 2 hours. Glazed and cut brownie bites can be made 1 day ahead and kept, loosely covered, at room temperature.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Frosting

I had a request to make a birthday cake this week for a woman who loves lemons. 

This lemon cake recipe was an absolutely perfect choice. The cake was tender, moist, and tangy. And, drizzing lemon syrup over the cake before frosting ensured that it didn't dry out.

I was hesitant to use the accompanying whipped frosting after reading the reviews, so I settled for a simple lemon buttercream instead. The frosting was almost too sweet for my taste, but was still light enough to not be too overpowering.

Candied lemons make this treat really special. After simmering thinly sliced lemons in syrup for half an hour, they are entirely edible and packed with tart lemony flavor.

This bright, sunny cake is a delicious and light way to celebrate a summer birthday.

We served the cake with some espresso brownie bites. What a wonderful combo! 

Happy birthday Marilyn!

Lemon Cake and Candied Lemons Recipe via Martha Stewart
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeded

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-by-2-inch cake pans, tapping out excess flour. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time. Beat in 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined.
  3. Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake until cakes pull away from sides of pans, 32 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pans and invert cakes onto a wire rack.
  4. While cakes are baking, bring remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a saucepan. Add lemon slices and simmer 25 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer lemon slices to a waxed-paper-lined plate. Stir remaining 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice into syrup.
  5. Using a toothpick, poke holes in warm cakes on rack. Brush with lemon syrup. Let cool completely. Prepare frosting, substituting 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice for vanilla extract. Frost cooled cakes and top with candied lemon slices.
Lemon Frosting Recipe via Food & Wine
1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg yolk (optional, I did not use)
1 pound confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream (I only had milk, but I would suggest sticking with the cream)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  1. In a standing mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the butter and egg yolk at medium-high speed until creamy. Beat in the sugar at low speed. Beat in the cream, vanilla and salt, then beat at medium-high speed until fluffy, 3 minutes longer. Beat in the lemon zest and juice.
  2. Spread 1 cup of frosting over a cake layer and top with the second layer; frost the top and sides. Let stand 1 hour; serve.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Apricot and Blueberry Tart

Last week, I made lemon & blueberry muffins that were a big hit at my dad's office. I still had tons of blueberries left over, so when I stumbled upon this apricot and blueberry tart recipe on Huffington Post the other day, I was excited to try out another tasty combo.

Stone fruits are in season right now, so I had no problem finding gorgeous and reasonably priced apricots at the Ferry Building Farmers' Market.

This tart has a little bit of everything with a not-too-sweet crispy almond crust and silky vanilla pastry cream, but the delicious fruit is the real star of the recipe.

Although this recipe is a little more involved, both the tart shell and the pastry cream could be made ahead of time, so all you would need to do is assemble and bake. Perfect for summer entertaining.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Simple Salad {Caprese}

We all know avocado makes everything taste better.
Fresh ingredients make for an unbeatable summer staple.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lemon Sugar Crusted Blueberry Muffins

My family is big on blueberries. We nearly always have some waiting to be added to cereal or greek yogurt for breakfast, but I knew that I wanted to use them for something a little different. When I saw this recipe for blueberry muffins on carnal dish, one of my favorite blogs, I knew we had a winner.

The brightness of the lemon zest in this recipe brings out the sweet juices of the blueberries, and the crunchy topping adds a perfect texture contrast to the soft muffin. These muffins are a delightful complement to your morning latte!

Miette {Ferry Building Marketplace}

We've had a string of sunny days here in San Francisco, so I took the opportunity to get outside and explore. I made my way down to the ferry building (they have a farmers' market Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays), and strolled around looking at all of the fresh goods and fun local stores.

I stopped by one of my favorites, Miette Patisserie.

The little french pastry shop is absolutely adorable with its pretty pastel colors and petit sweets.

Traditional macarons are always a crisp light treat.

I have yet to taste one, but I've been dying to try their cakes. Especially the Strawberry Tomboy, which is only available during strawberry season.

These chocolate wafers (known to be a favorite of Cupcakes and Cashmere) made their way home with me. Although simple, they have a deep chocolatey flavor that almost has a hint of caramel.

Miette also has a cookbook called Miette: Recipes from San Francisco's Most Charming Pastry Shop. Pretty appropriate, no? I think I might have to check this one out (hint hint to my friends my birthday is coming up :) )!

If you're in the area, I would definitely suggest stopping by this sweet shop!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

BLT {plus}

A BLT may seem like your everyday conventional sandwich, but use the freshest ingredients and add a rich avocado and fried egg, and you've got a simple updated alternative to a traditional favorite.

Crusty sourdough bread + Thomas Keller's choice in bacon + farmers' market tomato, lettuce, avocado and fried egg...

This simple sandwich is a savory combination of flavors and textures, with the creamy avocado, crispy bacon, and sweet tomato. And, I'll always go for anything with a runny yolk. Does it get any better than that?

If you're on the search for San Francisco's Best BLT, check out the Chowhound suggestions!