Why the Face?!

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If you’re staring at the screen like what-the-fuck-is-she-kidding-me-right-now, I get it.

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I feel your eyes burning into me across the vastness of the interwebs.  So stop.
Don’t look at me like that. I know, ok, I know.

I gave you candy canes in January, pears and apples in March, and now, this.
St. Patrick’s day was just a few weeks ago, and here I am giving you GREEN meringues.
It’s not even April Fools Day, so this really isn’t funny.
No, I’m doing this seriously.

SOorrRRyyyYYy. not sorry.

My blog, my rules, bitchez.  You should be used to it by now.

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These meringues were meant to top a mint-chocolate cake (coming soon), but looked ugly as hell.
They were too pretty to not photograph, though, so I decided to make two mint/green posts, as a nice big fuck you to all my wonderful, beloved readers.
Just kidding!!!  I love you.  But I am still smushing green into your faces post-St.-Paddy’s-Day, so I obviously don’t love you that much.
I’m sorry.  I am a bad blogger.

The meringues are flavored with peppermint, and are perfectly crisp and crackling on the outside, with the interior still marshmallowy and soft.
The mint makes them a little cooling, and dangerously snackable.
The green makes them extra pretty, and extra unseasonable.
Just what I was going for!

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Peppermint Meringues
makes 10 large meringues

ingredients:
3 (90 grams) egg whites
3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar
pinch salt
1 drop peppermint extract
green food coloring, if desired

directions:
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment paper, and ready a piping bag with a plain tip.
Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and begin to whip.
When a foam starts to form, slowly stream in the sugar, one tablespoon at a time.
Add in the salt and peppermint extract when the meringue is reaching stiff peaks.
Beat until meringue is stiff and glossy and shiny.
To make your meringues striped, take a paintbrush dipped in green food coloring and carefully draw lines on the inside of your pastry bag.
Carefully fill the pastry bag with meringue, being careful not to smudge the food coloring too much.
Pipe meringues as desired, then bake for 2 to 3 hours, rotating periodically. (This seems like a ridiculous range of baking times, but humidity and size of meringues can really wreak havoc. To check if meringues are cooked, carefully try to lift one of the cookies off the baking sheet; if it lifts off cleanly and not sticky at all, the meringues are done.  If it is syrupy or soft, leave them in.)
Turn the oven off and crack the door; allow meringues to cool completely within the oven.

So Question

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Much wonder.
Such searches.
Wow.

“my olive oil bottle had some slimy things”
Eeew.

“is little debbie oatmeal cream pies good for chakras”
Probably not?

“lets make marscarpone ourselves for once”
Yes, let’s.  God.

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“dumb jokes”
“dysfunctional family funny”
“dumb shit jokes”
I think you’re in the right place, my friend.

“homogeneous motor for milk and mango juice”
“gothic baking dishes”
“fairy hand cream mango butter switzerland”
“brass triangle fruit ripener”
“picture of willy wonka marshmallow pillow”
“ready to bake cheese marscapone croissants wholesale”
“kids throwing cookie dough on ceiling”
“plate with some fruits two toothbrush one small pot drawing in pencil”
“lime green fat baby boots with white fluffy stitching on the toe”
What?  No.  How did you manage to end up here?

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“comfy belly pumpkin roll”
“christina tosi maple”
“nigella frangelico tiramisu grams”
“michael laiskonis silpat”
“dorie greenspan is too soft and crumbly cheesecake”
Nope nope nope not me.  Wrong person.

“why is my mississippi mud pie still runny in the middle”
“2c heavy cream 4 tsp matcha 3/4 c sugar 6 egg yolk 1 c milk where is it books”
“how to bake cake in a 5 burner gas cooktop candy”
“660grams of chocolate buttons = cups?”
“should a pumpkin roll cake be wet still when you take it out of the oven”
“why do my meringue cookies always end up with a syrup like crust on the bottom???”
“can u use buttercream piping for a dummy cake or will it rot? cake central”
“creme brulee didn’t set congeal can i freeze it”
“3cups cocoa powder 4sticks butter layer cake”
“why gateau cake didn’t rise”
“do they have pumpkin butter in sweden”
“why does creaming butter and sugar in more than one direction, get curds”
“260 grams flour and sugar and butter cake making how many eggs i use”
“i like to make it my own pomelo powder tall me how”
“i am looking for a recipe that used nutter butter cookies and butter as a crust, and then you melt marshmallows then make a layer of candy using cornsyrup and peanut butter chips”
I wish I could tell you the answers to all these existential questions, but…

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“best ice cream scoopers activated by body heat”
“brown butter cookie nutella fill kitchen dink w/ 2″ of cold water”
“waterproof nut pie crust”
“she made a graham with childish decorated toppings”
“pressure ulcers cooker de leche condensed milk”
“glitter sprinkle french macaron vanipla”
“whot. can. you yes. hef. coleur perpar”
“no egg no milk no butter cookiesh ki,o.lpo.ol”
“cheese lava guna kracker magic”
“like golden ray butter”
“drama psheat”
“pepar fool ke banana”
What?!?

“la peche fraiche”
“lapechefraiche”
“lapechce fraiche”
“la pache frasche”
“la pilche frache”
“peche freche”
“lapechefraige”
“la peche peach”
“rachel sally pastry blogs”
“rachel sally blog”
“ithaca rachel sally”
Lol hai.  Welcome.

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You guys search such silly things and manage to end up here, at my doorstep.
I can only begin to understand my readership through searches like “cheese lava guna kracker magic.”
Conclusion: you guys are weird.  And poor typists.  And are therefore in good company.

These cookies are delicious, fat, bakery-sized peanut butter sandwiches, filled with fluffy marshmallow and rolled in honey roasted peanuts, in honor of whoever searched
“i am looking for a recipe that used nutter butter cookies and butter as a crust, and then you melt marshmallows then make a layer of candy using cornsyrup and peanut butter chips”
Sadly, this is the best I can do for you.  I hope you enjoy them, mystery googler.
(I have a feeling they’re more delicious than this suspect nutter butter-corn syrup pie…)

The cookie base has edges that are crispy and crunchy, like a nutter butter, but a thick, soft center.  Perfect for sandwiching, and not too brittle or crumbly, like most PB cookies.
A cookie with bite.
Even better, they can be frozen for later!  Only use what you need, and stick the rest in the freezer for emergencies.
The marshmallowy filling is a billowy Italian meringue, whipped to sticky perfection.
Annnnnd this cookie sandwich is then rolled in
salted honey roasted peanuts.

These are like fluffernutters, only made with cookies.
Fluffernutter cookies.  Do I need to say more?

Perhaps just this: make these, you weirdos.  Ok.  That is all.

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Fluffernutter Cookies
makes 6 very large cookie sandwiches, or 12 cookies
cookie portion adapted from Miette

ingredients:
for the cookies:
113 grams (8 tablespoons) butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
100 grams (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
70 grams (1/3 cup packed) brown sugar
1 egg
160 grams (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
180 grams (1 2/3 cups) flour

for the Italian meringue:
1 egg white
50 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
pinch of salt
15 grams (1 tablespoon) water

to assemble:
about 3/4 cup honey roasted peanuts, chopped
pinch or two kosher salt

directions:
Make the cookies: beat butter on high speed until softened, about 2 minutes.
Add in the salt and sugars and beat for 3 minutes, scraping the bowl halfway through.
Add the egg and beat for 3 more minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add the peanut butter; beat for 1 more minute.
Scrape the bowl and add in the flour and baking soda all at once.
Mix on low speed until homogeneous.
Scoop out generous (1/3 cup) portions, then roll into smooth balls.
Press a cross-hatch pattern onto the cookies with a fork (or gently press them with a meat tenderizer) to flatten them slightly.
Place on a baking sheet and freeze for at least 15 minutes, and up to a month, wrapped very tightly in plastic and aluminum foil.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Bake cookies for 12 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through.
Allow to cool completely, then assemble the sandwiches.
Make the Italian meringue: place egg white in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk.
Place the salt, sugar, and water in a small sauce pot.
Begin to whip your egg white while heating the syrup on medium heat.
When your syrup reaches 200 degrees F, the egg white should be all foam; at 240, it should be at soft peaks.
Carefully pour the hot syrup into the egg white; beat the meringue until cooled to body temperature, about 5 minutes.
Spread onto one cookie and sandwich with another.
Mix the honey roasted peanuts with the extra salt, then roll the edges of each cookie in the mixture.
Enjoy with milk!

Janvier

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“There are many things we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up.”

-Oscar Wilde

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January is a fragile month.
The new year is only just hatching, stretching its wings, ruffling its feathers, blinking awake.
The sun is slowly becoming stronger, the days longer.

It is the month of resolutions, ever so delicate, easily crushed in their nascence.

We are all only dipping our toes in the cold, cold new waters.
Not a one of us knows what the year will bring—a terrifying and invigorating prospect.

How has it come to pass that the end of this first month of 2014 is nigh?
January has flown by in a blur, spinning me around in a whirled frenzy of snow and wind.
I shiver to think of what this year holds—whether it is borne from excitement or dread, I cannot say.
It could also be the ungodly cold here in Chicago.  I don’t know.

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January is a month of citrus.
Though, I must admit, you cannot tell as much from my archives.

January 2013: puff pastry tutorial, coconut mochi, s’mores cake, conversation heart cookies, nutella-raspberry-brown butter crumb bars, maple-bacon and Vietnamese coffee doughnuts, gâteau des rois.  Only one had citrus…
January 2014: Peppermint-chocolate cookies, PB cupcakes, pear-cranberry-ginger crisps, earl grey cupcakes.  Ahem.  Still none.

This pavlova is my answer, my remedy, then, to the absent citrus in what I have just declared to be a month of citrus.
Specifically, lemon.
January is a lemon month.

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Lemon.  Perky, bright, sunny.
Lemon.  Tart, balancing, acidic.
Lemon lemon lemon, I’d choose over chocolate any day.  (Freak.)

The first time I met a meyer lemon was 2006.
I received the January issue of Martha Stewart Living.
As I tore through it, my 11 year old self soaking in every hit of inspiration, I fell upon this cake.
I wanted to cry.  I wanted to make this cake so incredibly badly, but knew it was out of my reach.

This cake prominently featuring these mysterious meyer lemons was all I wanted.  And I couldn’t have it.
I begged my parents to let me make it.
They said, “um… no. We don’t need a 3 foot high, 3 tier meyer lemon cake.  Stop reading Martha Stewart, you little weirdo.

Everything was so beautiful and yellow and happy and lemony.
It was torture.
And what the hell was a meyer lemon, anyway?

Can you tell what a strange, disturbed child I was?  A Martha Stewart addict from a young age.
It explains so much, don’t it?

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In a month where stagnation is banished, where the wheels are turning and the world is changing, lemon is ideal.
It’s fresh and lively, something which I appreciate when the fresh produce situation is somewhat abysmal.
Lemon never fails to awaken the palette.
It’s a clean flavor, and after all the heavy desserts of December, we can all use a flavor boost.

Pavlova.  Also perfectly suited for January, with its light airiness and minimal sweetness.
Good for resolution breaking, but not resolution destroying, ja feel?

It’s probably my favorite dessert.  Which is a big, big deal.
I wrote a sonnet inspired by rhubarb, which was featured in my first pavlova. (I have no words for the white balance in those photos.  Please accept my apologies.)
I had pavlova for my 18th birthday cake, a simple one-layer affair, covered in coconut/mascarpone fluff, passionfruit sauce, and tumbling raspberries.

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And now, here we are.
This pavlova focuses on tartness, allowing the meyer lemons to shine.

A supremely light meringue base, crispy and crackling on the exterior, pillowy marshmallow on the inside, is
layered with barely sweetened Greek yogurt,
thick and luscious meyer lemon curd,
fresh bites of strawberries and raspberries, and
finished with a sprinkle of earthy, grounding thyme and
tart, chewy candied meyer lemons.

My pavlova cracked, pretty badly.  I ain’t stressed about it.
See, I thought it would be genius to layer the yogurt and curd onto the layers before stacking them.
What anybody with a shred of common sense would quickly see is that the meringue was too delicate and fragile to stand up to the thick sauces and promptly crrrrrraacked.  *shit shit shit*
Oops.  It’s okay.  Pavlovas crack and crumble; it’s part of their personality, their patina.
Get over it.

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Once I was done photographing the cake, I realized how futile it would be to try to keep it on the cake pedestal.
It was already slip sliding around, as I didn’t secure it to the stand with a daub of lemon curd, as I should have.
Things were cracking, falling, toppling.
So, I plopped it into a bowl, shoved the leftover fruits on top, and called it a day.

The secret?  It tastes just as good smashed up, packed into a bowl, smashed to bits and spooned straight into your mouth as it does dressed up, stacked, and eaten from a proper plate.

And thank goodness for that.

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Meyer Lemon, Berry, Thyme, and Yogurt Pavlova
meringue base from Donna Hay
lemon curd adapted from Use Real Butter
ingredients:
for the meringue base:
4 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons white vinegar

for the lemon curd:
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
4 egg yolks, beaten
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup meyer lemon juice
zest of 2 meyer lemons

for the candied lemons:
2 meyer lemons, sliced very thinly
2 cups sugar
2 cups water

to assemble:
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 pint strawberries, 1/2 hulled and sliced, 1/2 whole
1 cup raspberries
Fresh thyme

directions:
Make the meringue base:
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
Trace 2 6-inch circles (you could do 8- or 9-inch, but it won’t be as tall.) with pencil, then turn the paper over.
Begin to whip egg whites with a stand mixer.
When soft peaks are just starting to form, stream in the sugar very slowly, one tablespoon at a time, until the meringue has reached very stiff peaks.
Gently fold in the vinegar and cornstarch.
Spread the meringue out around the traced circles.
Bake for an hour and a half, then turn off the oven and allow the pavlova to cool completely inside the oven.

Make the lemon curd:
Place water and sugar in a large pot.
Bring to a boil, then whisk in cornstarch.
Bring to a boil; mixture will be very thick and gloppy.
While whisking egg yolks, take a spoonful of the cornstarch mixture and quickly combine; continue to add, by the spoonful, until about 1/3 of the hot cornstarch mixture has been added.
Whisk the egg yolk mixture back into the corn starch mixture, and return to very low heat.
Whisk in the butter, then, off the heat, carefully whisk in the lemon juice and zest.
If any lumps are present, blitz the curd in a blender until smooth.

Make the candied lemons:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare an ice bath.
Place the very thinly sliced lemons in the boiling water and cook for 20 seconds.
Remove to the ice bath and allow to cool completely.
Meanwhile, add 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water to the pot and bring to a simmer, until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the lemon slices and allow to simmer for 45 minutes, until softened and no longer bitter.

Assemble the pavlova:
Whisk the yogurt and confectioner’s sugar together.
Spread a thin layer over the first pavlova layer, then spread half of the lemon curd onto the yogurt.
Top with the sliced strawberries and a sprinkling of thyme.
Add the second meringue disk, and top with the remaining yogurt and lemon curd.
Arrange the fruit on top of the lemon curd, and sprinkle more thyme leaves over.
Serve with a spoon, in bowls.

Slump, Grunt, Buckle

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Snorfle, sniffle, slurp.

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Can we take a moment to appreciate the ridiculous names bestowed upon cobblers, crisps, and the like?

Betty, buckle, cobbler, crisp, crumble, grunt, pandowdy, slump, zonker(????).

whaaaaaaaaa why why why why

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Despite their stupid names, these kind of desserts are delicious, and what’s more, crazy easy and fast.
Perfect when you need a quick fix of warm, cozy dessert. (Which, in my case, is 24/7.)

Chop up seasonal, fresh fruit (it can even be a little underripe.  We don’t judge here.) and toss it with some sugar, salt and flour/cornstarch.
No need to measure, just go with your heart by taste.
Top it off with buttery cookie crumbs (I wish my whole life were topped with buttery cookie crumbs) and bake it.
SO EASY GUYS WHY AREN’T WE ALL DOING IT?!

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This is the best crisp I have ever tasted. Ever.
I’ve made it a few times, in a few different forms.
The first time, about 3 years ago (is 2011 really 3 years ago?! Have mercy.), I baked it in a big heavy dish, and served it with vanilla ice cream.  I was blown away.
In fact, I was so impressed that I then made it into a crumble pie (think dutch apple pie).  The pie was good, but, can I be honest, people?  It was more work.  And the best part was the filling and topping anyways.  So I do not advocate the pie version.  It’s fussier and not worth it.  Keep it simple, stooopid.
And now, I’ve made it into tiny little individual crisps, so you don’t have to think twice about eating four.

For once in my life, I’m not exaggerating.  Seriously. Best crisp I have EVER. HAD.
Sweet and juicy from the pears, tart and punchy from the cranberries, and spicy and rich from the buttery gingersnaps.  
I’ll never look at plain pear crisps the same way.  There’s no going back once you try this combo.
Read: try this combination.  For your own sake.

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Okay, time for an explanation about these mini crisps/crumbles/whatever you want to call them.

Other than being delicious, they are dead simple.

I didn’t use a recipe.  Here’s what I did:

peel, core, and dice a couple d’anjou pears
toss ’em with lemon juice, a couple tablespoons of sugar and flour, and some fresh cranberries
throw a bunch of gingersnaps into my food processor and grind them into crumbs
add a hefty pinch of pepper, ginger, brown sugar, and salt
melt some butter and pour it in until the crumbs get clumpy
dump the fruit into serving vessels, top with a shit ton of gingersnap crumb stuff
bake until bubbling and burbling
eat
eat
eat.

If you want more solidified measurements and directions, check out Deb’s (AWESOME) recipe.  Seriously thankyouthankyou Deb for leading me to this delicious flavor combination.  Heaven.

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‘Murka

 
 
Bottom line, I love America, I do.
With all these recent events, I am even gladder to live in this country.
We are on our way to a happier and more equal state, with more love and more satisfaction.
I’m glad to be part of the ride.
Happy birthday America.  Keep up the good work.
 
 
Let’s celebrate with barbecues (if this blasted rain will stop…), fireworks, and red-white-and-blue foods.
Let’s celebrate with these patriotic shortcakes.
Crunchy, sugar-spangled biscuits filled with blueberries and strawberries and pourable cream cheese.
They’re not too sweet, but devastatingly summery.
 
Catch y’all on the other side. 
 
 
Patriotic Shortcakes
for the biscuits:
adapted from Dot’s Diner, via Bon Appétit via Smitten Kitchen
ingredients:
2 1/4 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 scant teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
9 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
3/4 cup buttermilk, cold
half and half or cream, for brushing
1/4 cup turbinado sugar, optional, for sprinkling
directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Stir the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda together in a bowl.
Cut in the cubed butter, either with a pastry cutter or with two knives or with your fingers, which is how I do it.
Flatten each of the cubes and rub them so that they are flat and pea-sized.
Pour in the buttermilk and bring the whole batter together with a few kneading motions- your hands will be very dirty, but that’s good for you.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pat into a rectangle 1/2 inch thick.  
Make a letter fold, by folding it into thirds, and pat the resulting rectangle out to 1/2 inch thickness as well.
Repeat the letter fold twice more.
Pat out the dough and cut circles out of it, being careful not to mangle the edges.
Place on a baking sheet and brush with half-and-half.
Sprinkle liberally with turbinado sugar.
Bake for 12-15 minutes.
Split and fill!
for the berries:
ingredients:
1 cup of sliced strawberries (slice, then measure)
2/3 cup blueberries
1+ tablespoon of sugar
directions:
Gently stir the strawberries and blueberries together with the sugar and set aside, preferably in a fridge, to macerate for at least 20 minutes.
Adjust the amount of sugar depending on the sweetness of your berries.
for the cream cheese filling:
4 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
directions:
In a food processor or with an immersion blender, mix until pourable. 
Add more cream if need be, but be sure to fully mix the sauce before adding more.

Seedy

Calvin and Hobbes is the best comic strip ever written.  I say that with utter conviction.  
I have read every single strip multiple times and I still get a kick out of them.
As kids, my brothers and I would fight over our Calvin and Hobbes collection to read during breakfast.  The pages of all the books are accordingly sticky and stained with milk and Lucky Charms crumbs.
The losers of the fights would have to read Foxtrot.
What a life.
 


This past summer, I endeavored to reread all the Calvin and Hobbes books we have.

Hoo boy!  That was the greatest week.  They are endlessly enjoyable and hilarious… I mean, seriously.  Love!

So, I have this weird thing where whenever I think of the word “seedy,” I think of Calvin and Hobbes. I think it’s because when I was younger, I saw it in the comics and didn’t fully understand it.
My brain works in strange ways, people. 
 
 
Anyways, I decided to make a seedy pound cake, combining a few flavors that at first glance might not go together.
 
I love lemon-poppy seed baked goods.  The poppy seeds add that extra crunch and visual appeal; not much in the way of flavor, but whatevs.  They’re pretty.
 
I also love matcha.  It’s earthiness and subtle bitter and sweet notes always dance around my mouth, leaving me wanting more.  
 
Why not lemon and matcha?  The tart citrus plays off beautifully against the intense green tea.
 
I decided to really get the party started and added some sesame seeds to the matcha batter. Matcha-sesame seed mixed with lemon-poppy seed!  Sign me up.
(P.S. I also snuck some brown butter in.  Why?  Because I can, so hush.)
 
In hindsight, I wish I had swirled the loaves to create more of a marbled effect.  I got a layered effect because I didn’t do much mixing- I was a bit nervous to mix too much, but I ended up mixing barely at all.  Oh well.  C’est la vie.
 
I was sending these loaves off to my brothers, but I snuck a piece before I did.  
Buttery, sweet, and chock full of flavor, this is a pound cake to remember.  
Share it with your favorite tiger.
 

 

Lemon Poppy Seed and Matcha Sesame Seed Pound Cake
makes 2 loaf cakes, easily halved
adapted from Gale Gand
ingredients:
6 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 sticks butter, browned
2 cups sugar
8 eggs
big splash vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon zest
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoons buttermilk
3 to 5 tablespoons matcha powder (depending on strength of your matcha)
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour 2 six cup loaf pans.
Beat the eggs and sugar together until they form thick, light yellow ribbons.  
Stir in the butter and vanilla.  
Stir in the flour, corn starch, baking powder, and salt, but don’t fully mix.
Divide the mixture into two, and into one, add the lemon juice, zest, and poppy seeds.  Into the other, add the buttermilk, matcha powder, and sesame seeds.  
Beat each one (by hand, so you don’t overbeat) until homogeneous.
Pour half of the matcha batter into each prepared pan.
Top with half of the lemon batter.  Swirl with a skewer or fork as desired (if you don’t, your loaf will have a pattern similar to mine).
Bake until the center is raised and a toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs; 65 to 70 minutes.
To make an optional glaze, stir 1 cup of powdered sugar with 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to make a pourable glaze.  Once the cakes are out of the oven and mostly cool, poke a few small holes in the top and brush/pour the glaze all over the cakes. 

Honey Honey

 
You didn’t see my valentine; I sent it via pantomime…” 
-Fiona Apple
 
O! Be still my “beeting” heart! 
Have you hoarded enough chocolate for your valentine yet?
If he or she is anything like me, the answer is firmly no.
 
Here is the solution: a batch of (cheesily heart-shaped) deep, dark chocolate cakes.
Soft, tender, and yet perfectly chewy, these will melt hearts like butter in a hot pan.  
Melt, I tell you, melt.
 
These are a winning combination of simple and delicious.  
The chocolate shines through, highlighted with notes of salt and umami; the batter is mixed up in 1 bowl with 2 utensils; preparation is 15 minutes, tops, and, if baked in a little heart pan or in a mini muffin tin, is cooked through in just 20 minutes.
 
Beet-autiful! 
Picked up on the hint yet?  Am I obvious enough?
If you have, good for you.  Give yourself a nice pat on the back, and an extra little cake, while you’re at it.
 
These perfect chocolate cakes are made with beets!
Beets!
And honey and maple syrup!
And olive oil!
And whole-wheat flour!
Don’t be alarmed.  If you don’t like beets, I promise (pinky swear?) that you will love these cakes; the beets are undetectable.  
Beets are naturally very sweet (your sugar might actually come from beets, not sugar cane…), and carry a beautiful earthy note that is indescribable.
That very earthy note is what makes these cakes interesting; it’s a certain je-ne-sais-quoi that will leave your tastebuds humming with delight and wonder.
 
I personally love beets, so I grated mine slightly larger so I would occasionally get a little beet chunk in the cakes.  
 
My silver spoon has fed me good…” -Frank Ocean
These are too damn delicious to be as healthy as they are.  I made a light chocolate ganache to send them over the top.
 
Obviously, they’re health food.

 

Bears.  Beets.  Battlestar Galactica.
Chocolate Honey-Beet Cakes
adapted from Thyme, originally adapted from Green Market Baking Book
ingredients:
1 cup grated cooked beets (I used roasted beets; I needed about 2 medium sized beets)
4 tablespoons butter, browned
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
(big) splash vanilla extract
1/2 cup white-whole-wheat flour (you could use regular old AP here)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  
Whisk the olive oil, honey, butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and egg and egg yolk together until a thick emulsion forms.  
Dump the dry ingredients on top of the wet, with the baking soda added last, so it is on top.  
Mix until just combined, then fold in beets.  
Pour into prepared pan (I used this one, you could certainly use an 8 or 9 inch round tin or mini muffin tin), and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean (this cake is so moist that you want to be sure to cook it all the way through).
 
For the ganache that you see, I actually made a regular old ganache, but swapped low-fat milk for heavy cream to make it a bit lighter.  I also whisked in about 3 tablespoons of honey to keep it shiny and smooth.  It worked wonderfully!  
I then topped the still-warm ganache with Swedish pearl sugar.

De Rigueur

A good brownie recipe is like a good pair of heels or a slick black dress.  
 
 
Completely necessary and indispensable to have in your closet recipe box while seducing that hot boy
 
…Well that analogy fell through.  Brownies are an essential in my closet.  This is a no-judgment zone, okay?  So wipe that smirk off your face.
 
What I mean to say is that they’re classic.  And classic for a reason they are.  
 
And so easy!  They are one-pot wonders, I tell ya.
 
 
And so easily customized!  
 
You like cakey?  Bake them for 5 more minutes.  
 
You like fudgy?  Underbake them by 3 minutes.  
 
You want mix-ins?  Add whatever your little heart desires. 
 
This recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated.  It is foolproof.  I should know, because I’m a fool I’ve baked 4 batches of brownies (that’s 256 of these lil guys) in the last week for a school statistics project.
 
To answer your question, yes, I am always the annoying person who does projects only concerning things I already like.  So… baking projects.  Yeah.
Keep these in your arsenal; I guarantee they’ll come in handy some day.  
 
Nobody doesn’t love chocolate.
 
Classic Brownies
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
Makes an 8×8 pan
ingredients:
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons shortening 
8 tablespoons butter
9 tablespoons cocoa powder
8.75 ounces sugar (1 1/4 cups)
3 eggs
5 ounces flour (1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
dash chocolate extract, should you be into that sort of thing
up to 3/4 cup mix-ins (chocolate chips?  toasted nuts?  dried fruit?  crushed candy?)
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line an 8×8 pan with two sheets of aluminum foil, creating a sling.  Spray with cooking oil.  In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine butter, shortening, chocolate, and cocoa powder.  Stir with a wooden spoon until melted and smooth.  Stir in sugar, then increasing your speed, beat in the eggs.  (If you’re a wimp, you can do this part in a stand mixer, but you honestly don’t need to stir for very long, and that dirties another bowl.) Stir in the extracts, then the flour.  Mix only until homogeneous.  Stir in desired mix-ins.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 14-20 minutes, depending on how cakey/fudgy you like them.  Check often; a toothpick will come out of fudgy brownies with faint streaks of chocolate and a few crumbs; in-the-middle brownies will produce only moistened crumbs, no streaks; and cakey brownies will come out with very few crumbs.  For cakey brownies, watch carefully because there is a difference between cakey and light and overbaked and burnt.