Chocolate Marshmallow Ghost Cake

Posted by on Oct 31, 2014 in Desserts | One Comment



A Bootiful cake from Some Kitchen Stories



BOO!

Chocolate Marshmallow Ghost Cake

Source: Martha Stewart | Makes: Three 6″ layers | Print Recipe

Ingredients

For the cake

3/4 Cup (1 and 1/2 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
2/3 Cup of unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted, plus more for pans
1 and 1/2 Teaspoons of baking powder
1 Teaspoon of salt
1 and 1/4 Cups of sugar
4 Large eggs
2 Teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
1 Cup of whole milk

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

16 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature
1 Cup of confectioners’ sugar

Marshmallow Ghosts

Miniature marshmallows
Regular marshmallows
Chocolate sprinkles

Directions

Make the cake:

1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Butter three 6-inch round cake pans. Dust with cocoa powder, and tap out excess; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, mix butter and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

4. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until combined after each addition. Mix in vanilla.

5. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk. Mix until just combined.

6. Divide batter evenly among pans (about 2 cups batter per pan).

7. Bake until a cake tester inserted into centers comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool in pans.

Make the frosting:

Put cream cheese and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Use immediately.

Make a Marshmallow Ghost

Twist top of one miniature marshmallow into a point by rolling it between your thumb and index finger. Trim all 3 marshmallows, and stick together. Twist top 2 slightly to shape.

With a toothpick, poke holes, and insert sprinkle eyes.

Assemble:

To frost the ghost cake, cover each of two layers with two-thirds cup Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting, and stack the layers; spread remaining frosting over top and sides of assembled cake.

Add marshmallow ghosts. Take picture of your accomplishment. Eat.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies & Origins

Posted by on Oct 24, 2014 in Desserts | One Comment



pumpkin_whoopiepies



Did you know that Nicole and I are in a feud? It’s cool, I don’t think she knows it either (we’re in a feud, Nicole!) We were cool when I moved to Maine because she still lived in Chicago but now that I live in Maine and she’s in Pennsylvania, it is on. 



pumpkin_whoopiepies2



It’s “on” because whoopie pies. (If this were a movie… say, the Leo version of Romeo + Juliet, this would be the part where you see scenes of riots in the streets and mayhem on the flickering screen of a small boxed television). Maine and Pennsylvania are different enough to be perfectly ambivalent about each other’s existence… except for this. Because the states cannot agree on who invented the whoopie pie. (And apparently New Hampshire’s trying to be all, “We invented it too!” but no founder of this blog lives in NH and thus, we’re going to ignore them completely.)

In 2011, the Maine State Legislature considered naming the whoopie pie the official state pie. The proposal received bipartisan support. 

I really hope nothing else of importance needed to be debated in the state legislature that day. Because cookies.

Regardless of where you stand on this VITALLY IMPORTANT ISSUE, Nicole and I have declared a truce about the true ownership of the whoopie pie. Mostly because we both have ovens and we can both make them ourselves, wherever we happen to live. And isn’t that what really matters? If the delight of shared foods can’t bring about world peace, how can we expect anything else do the job?

So, here we are. A simple, classic recipe for Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, a soft cookie sandwich with a sweet cream cheese filling, from the both of us, from PA and ME, to you.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Source: Real Simple | Makes: 10 Whoopie Pies | Print Recipe

Ingredients

Cookies

1 and 1/2 Cups of all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1 and 1/2 Teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice (make your own!)
1/2 Teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 Teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 Teaspoon of kosher salt
1 Cup of pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 Cup of granulated sugar
1/2 Cup of packed light brown sugar
1/2 Cup of canola oil
1 Large egg
1 Teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

Filling

4 Ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 and 1/2 Cups of confectioners’ sugar
1/2 Teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

Directions

Make the cookies

1. Prep: Heat oven to 350° F with the racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, brown and white sugars, oil, egg, and vanilla until combined. Mix in the flour mixture until just moistened (do not overmix).

4. Drop mounds of the dough (about 2 tablespoons each) onto the baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart.

5. Bake until golden and firm to the touch, 12 to 14 minutes.

6. Let cool for 5 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the filling

7. With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

Assemble the Whoopie Pies

8. Spread a heaping tablespoon of filling on the flat side of half the cookies. Top with the remaining cookies. If soft, chill for 20 to 25 minutes.

Storage suggestion: Keep the whoopie pies refrigerated, between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container, for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving, if desired.

 

Nutella Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Posted by on Oct 11, 2014 in Desserts | One Comment



nutellacookies1



Callie was not bothered by the fact that she had been born on Halloween. At least, until Halloween came and then she was very much bothered by it.

When she was very small, it wasn’t a problem at all. Her parents made quite a fuss over her birthday and banished the spooky, scary decorations to the basement. She was surrounded by grandparents and aunts, uncles, doting cousins who begrudgingly left their costumes in the car. There was cake and balloons and the only spider webs present were the ones her parents couldn’t reach with the feather duster while preparing for the party.

And then, slowly, Halloween crept in. A cousin defiantly appeared in Callie’s birthday pictures dressed as Spiderman, his arms crossed over his chest. The birthday party got pushed earlier and earlier every year, to make more time for trick-or-treating. Finally, the kiss of death- candy in little bags as the favor with a black spider clinging to the handle. Callie shook her head with disgust but could do nothing, lest she seem ungrateful. 

As a young girl, she was resentful of the holiday’s intrusion on her birthday plans. As an adult woman, she shrugged and cast her birthday aside as most do. Some years, she was grateful that Halloween obscured it altogether. 

It was her husband TJ who cured the Halloween birthday. For years, he stood back and watched as Callie struggled with how to handle the day. Finally, one birthday, when she complained on the couch during the umpteenth commercial that starred the sexy nurses dancing around with werewolves in front of one of those pop-up Halloween stores, TJ made his play. “Get your coat.” He ignored her protests and ushered her out the door. 

It was late and they joined a group of kids on the sidewalk who were making the rounds. “What are we doing?” Callie asked. She folded her arms over her chest and wished she’d thought to put on a bra or at least her nicer sweatpants. TJ whirled her around and pointed to a house down the road. “Knock on the door and demand some candy for your birthday.” 

Callie stared at him. “Are you insane?”

TJ gave her a look, the one he reserved for closing deals and proposing marriage after the fourth date. He folded his own arms over his chest and planted his feet. “Indulge me.”

Callie rolled her eyes. “This is nuts.” And she started to turn around and head back inside when she saw a group of nine-year-olds joyfully pocket their candy from the house across the street. She saw herself at nine, sitting at home with a birthday crown on her head, watching the kids walk by in their costumes, and grown woman Callie, lawyer Callie, responsible recycler Callie, marched up to the house those kids had just left and knocked soundly on the door. 



nutellacookies2



Does it make me sound endearing to admit how much I love my birthday? I mean, it’s mostly food related. But I remember when I was a kid and used to have my birthday party at Jumper’s Jungle Family Fun Center. (Does that help me not sound like a five-year-old diva?)

The Year of 32 (as it will be known) was a big growing year for me. When you get to be a certain age, young things, you don’t grow in height anymore but you do grow in other ways (some years, not so much. What up, 25?!) This year for me was the year that I calmly looked myself in the mirror, smiled and said, “Welp, this is as good as it’s gonna get.” And actually meant it.  Food and I, despite our many bumps, are finally at peace.

On every day except my friggin’ birthday. Because BIRTHDAY.

Birthday means pasta, a giant bowl of it. And a cream sauce. And pancetta. And bread. And garlic bread. And wine. And brownies, two kinds (one of them gluten-free! Do I have good friends or what?). And a magical coconut cupcake with a candle in it. And peanut butter and Nutella, by the spoon. And then in cookie form. Because we can do this, we have the technology. BECAUSE BIRTHDAY.



nutellacookies3



Nutella Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Adapted from Averie Cooks | Yields: 15 small cookies | Total Time Needed: 3 Hours | Print Recipe

Ingredients

1 Large egg
3/4 Cup of Nutella
1/4 Cup of creamy peanut butter (recommended: Skippy or Jif)
1/2 Cup of dark brown sugar, packed (light may be substituted)
1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract
1/2 Cup of all-purpose flour
1 Teaspoon of baking soda
pinch of salt
5 to 6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (70% cacao or higher)

Directions

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine egg, Nutella, peanut butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and beat on high power to cream ingredients, about 5 minutes (scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary). Note from Averie Cooks: The dough will go from very granular, gritty, and loose to smooth, oily, and well-formed in a large mound. If your dough has not come together or is at all gritty, continue to mix until it smooths out.

2. In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to mixer and incorporate. Another note from Averie: Dough will not look like normal cookie dough and will be tiny balls and flakes that seem almost feathery in the bowl. This is okay. Add the chocolate chunks and beat momentarily to incorporate.

3. Using a medium cookie scoop (about 2 tablespoons) or your hands, scoop out 15 mounds of dough and place them on a large plate. Using your hands, gently squeeze and compact each mound so that it’s tightly packed together. Dough will be both crumbly and oily, but when squeezed, it should stay together. Cover plate with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours, up to 5 days, before baking.

4. Ready to bake! Preheat oven to 350F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment, or spray with cooking spray; set aside.

5. Space dough 2 inches apart (8 per tray) and bake for 9 to 10 minutes, or until top have just set, even if slightly underbaked in the center. Don’t overbake. Cookies will firm up as they cool, and baking too long will result in cookies that set up too crisp and hard (The cookies shown in the photos were baked for 9 minutes, with trays rotated at the 5-minute mark, and have chewy edges with pillowy, soft centers).

5. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes before removing and transferring to a rack to finish cooling. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Alternatively, unbaked cookie dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, so consider baking only as many cookies as desired and save the remaining dough to be baked in the future when desired.

(Did you miss us? We missed us too. Yay Nicole’s move is done! Yay to having a kitchen again, almost! YAY!)

Plum Cobbler

Posted by on Sep 2, 2014 in Desserts | 3 Comments



Plum Crumble



When Chrissy heard the plan, she balked. Her mother was not surprised. 

They stood at opposite sides of the kitchen island, at a standstill. Marguerite sipped her coffee and was calm. Chrissy gripped her phone and was not. “I don’t want to go to that.”

She studied her daughter and did what all mothers do- she pretended like she was not talking to her four-year-old, precocious angel fluff with her pig-tails and wide, blue eyes and was, in fact, addressing her fifteen-year-old angel fluff, in all her glory. Her skinny jeans, her carefully chosen slouchy, long-sleeved shirt, her thrift store scarf wrapped around her neck, slouchy hat, smudged eyeliner and her unpolished nails wrapped tightly around her phone. Chrissy’s three last requests to her parents were to be referred to by her given name, Christine; for leave to take a knitting class downtown on Thursday afternoons; for a pair of headphones that were so large and so expensive that Marguerite had been afraid to even handle them at the store when the bored saleskid led her to them. “Why not?” 

She had thought this would be a no-brainer. The family would go up to the roof at three in the morning that night, a school night no less, and watch the Borealis Spectralis, which appeared every four years in the sky over New York. But Chrissy recoiled.

“Everyone is doing that,” she said pointedly. “Everyone. It’s been in the news for weeks, everybody’s talking about it, everybody’s going up there. It’s lame and I’m not going.”



Plum Crumble from Some Kitchen Stories



Marguerite had not gotten the headphones. She had said yes to the knitting lessons. She called her daughter Christine to her daughter’s face and called her Chrissy everywhere else. On this, she was unmoveable. “I’m waking you up at 2:55,” she told her daughter and she sounded calm but her angel fluff’s expression made her grip the edge of the kitchen island. “I’ll carry you over my shoulder if I have to. Have a great day.” 

They didn’t speak for the rest of it. Chrissy fumed and typed furiously on her phone. She stared at the walls of the living room, refusing to do her sulking in private. And, at 2:55am, she appeared, fully dressed, in the hallway as Marguerite, Jim and their younger daughter Brianna were preparing to depart. 

She said nothing to her mother as they headed out of their apartment and joined the small crowd of neighbors who all shuffled up, yawns among them, to the stairwell and headed up, a fire drill in reverse. She said nothing to them as they claimed their space in the corner of the roof, which Marguerite had claimed herself earlier that day with chairs and potted plants and even a little rope to block it off. “Can you do that?” Jim asked, impressed, and Marguerite murmured back, “It’s amazing the respect people have for rope.”

They settled into their chairs and, for a second, she thought her daughter was asleep in hers with her head tilted back, her phone clutched in her hands. Brianna yawned, already dozing, and moved from her chair to Marguerite’s side, nestled in beside her, forgetting to be nine and too big for such things. Marguerite held on to her with both arms. And then it started, and everyone looked up. 

The lights danced across the sky, all colors. For one night, the lights in the sky were brighter than the lights of New York. The neighbors fell silent across the roof. Marguerite’s family looked up too, absolutely all of them, silenced by the sky. 



Plum Crumble from Some Kitchen Stories



Here’s to the waning days of summer.

Here’s to long weekends.

Here’s to purple fruit with crumbly crusts.

Here’s to you too.



Plum Crumble from Some Kitchen Stories



Plum Cobbler

Source: Bon Appetit| Makes: 10 servings | Print Recipe

Ingredients

For the Filling

3 Pounds of peaches, nectarines or plums, each cut into 6 wedges (we used plums)
1/2 Cup of granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1/4 Teaspoon of kosher salt
1 Tablespoon of kirsch (clear cherry brandy) or other fruit brandy (optional)

Topping and Assembly

1/2 Cup of all-purpose flour
1/4 Teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 Teaspoon of kosher salt
1/2 Cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, room temperature
3 and 1/2 ounces of almond paste
1/2 Cup of granulated sugar
3 Large eggs, room temperature
1/2 Cup of sliced almonds
Powdered sugar and vanilla ice cream (for serving)

Directions

1. In a large bowl, toss together the fruit with granulated sugar, flour, salt and kirsch (if using). Transfer to a 13 x 9″ baking dish and set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt.

4. In the bowl of a stand or electric mixer, beat butter, almond paste and granulated sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend after each. Mix in dry ingredients.

5. Drop dollops of batter over fruit (batter will even out during baking). Sprinkle with almonds. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until topping is golden brown and fruit juices are thick and bubbling. 50-60 minutes.

6. Let cobbler sit at least 20 minutes before serving. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with ice cream.

 

Atlantic Beach Pie

Posted by on Aug 19, 2014 in Desserts | 2 Comments



Atlantic Beach Pie



“This is absolutely delicious.” The interviewer covered her mouth with a laugh and put down the fork to pick her pen. She waved it over the pie like a wand. “I’m going to ask the most obvious question that you could ask someone of your caliber,” the interviewer said. She poised the pen over the paper. “How did you get so good at making pie?”

The baker glanced around her little shop and for a brief moment, marveled herself at its hectic pace and the long line of customers. The framed articles and reviews had started to climb up from the clear front counter to the walls. The air smelled like gingerbread and burnt sugar. She gave a little laugh. “I burned a lot of pies.”

The interviewer frowned. “Burned?”

“Oh yeah.” The baker grinned. She adjusted the little knot that tied her hair back and caught a glimpse of the lines of scars along her wrists and hands. “See that?” She pointed them out, all of them. “Dozens and dozens. I burned them all.” 

“Really?”

“Sure.” The baker shrugged. “You gotta make your way through all the burned ones first.”



Atlantic Beach Pie



We are back.

Many changes are afoot here for myself and Nicole over the last few weeks. Some are big, outward, obvious, great. Some are small, internal, seismic shifts.  I can speak openly about my own so that’s what I’ll do.



Atlantic Beach Pie



Before I left for vacation, I went to the doctor. I’d been having trouble with stomach for months and it was time to finally face the music that something was definitely Not Right. The doctor ran some tests and agreed- something definitely was Not Right. It’s all totally manageable (with a change to my diet as opposed to medication, which was a relief) and I’m completely and wholly fine most of the time, something I’m grateful for as I know many, many other people aren’t as fortunate. But still. When you love food and new things and want to continue a life that’s full of both, and everything, and anything, hearing that there have to be limits (or you will suffer) is… difficult. It’s an adjustment. It’s a tiny, baby heartbreak. I am still coming to terms with it.



Atlantic Beach Pie



Part of the reason why I was drawn to cooking and baking in the first place was because I am one of those creatures that love, and relish, control. And part of the uncompromising truth of getting older is recognizing that you have less control than you realize. And, actually, cooking/baking (of all things) helps you accept this realization- a place where you try the exercise the most control (the kitchen) teaches you again and again and again that you have less control than you realize.

You could do everything absolutely perfectly and still the dough will not rise. You could do everything absolutely as written and still, it tastes flat and uninspired. You could everything right and use your instincts and those tricks you learned and still, the end result has to go into the garbage. You accept these little lost battles with a shrug and you roll up your sleeves, you put out the fires and you go back to work.  These moments should be discouraging but they’re actually not, in a weird way. They happen all the time. They happen so much and so often, dispersed between many, many, many more victories, that the loss loses its sting. It’s not you; things just didn’t work out this time. Move on.

Roll up your sleeves and bake another pie.



Atlantic Beach Pie



Bill Smith’s Atlantic Beach Pie

Source: Bill Smith by way of Food52 | Makes: 1 delicious pie | Print Recipe

Ingredients
1 and 1/2 Sleeves of saltine crackers (about 6 ounces or 60 crackers)
1/2 Cup of softened unsalted butter
3 Tablespoons of sugar
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
4 Egg yolks
1/2 Cup of lemon or lime juice or a mix of the two
Fresh whipped cream, for garnish
Coarse sea salt

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.2. Crush the crackers finely, but not too finely (use a food processor or in a plastic bag with a rolling pin or use your fists and some spare rage). Add the sugar to the crumbs, then knead in the butter until the crumbs hold together like dough. Press into an 8-inch pie pan.
3. Chill for 15 minutes, then bake for 18 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
4. While the crust is cooling (it doesn’t need to be cold), beat the egg yolks into the milk, then beat in the citrus juice. Food52 notes that it is important to completely combine these
ingredients. Pour into the shell and bake for 16 minutes until the filling has set. The pie needs to be completely cold to be sliced.
Serve with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Donut Sundae

Posted by on Jul 14, 2014 in Desserts | No Comments



Donut Sundae



“You’re the keeper of time for the queen,” said Alice, making conversation. She straightened in her chair. Her spoon was still in her hand, still plunged into the bowl of sticky, sweet ice cream. She longed to take a bite but knew it would be impolite before Rabbit had even served himself. She lifted her chin and tried to remind herself that she was a grown up lady, who didn’t care about such things as a rapidly melting ice cream treat.

“No no no,” replied Rabbit. Behind his round glasses, his blue eyes grew wide. “I do not keep time for the Queen! No one can keep time, Alice. It is its own beast with a heart all its own. It has legs and will run if you try to catch it. No no no.” To Alice’s dismay, he put down the serving spoon and both of his white, furry paws went to clutch the watch in his vest pocket. “I cannot keep time from marching on for the Queen. No no no. Every day, the sun flies overhead and take the hours with it. And there are so many things planned, you see, and sometimes time says, ‘No no no, not today. That will not happen today, no no no. It will have to be tomorrow.’ And sometimes it does happen tomorrow but more often than not, it does not. And time just keeps on with its march and we are all helpless behind it, Alice, even the Queen herself.” And there, she was quite relieved, he took a pause to catch his breath and his whole white rabbit body trembled.

“I only meant,” she said in the brief silence that his pause allowed, “that you tell the Queen what time it is.”

“Oh!” Rabbit’s paws dropped from the watch. He took a hankerchief from his pocket and wiped his furry brow. “Yes yes yes. That’s what I do for the Queen, yes. I tell her the time.” He looked quite relieved. 

Alice picked up her spoon and resolved to eat her ice cream whether Rabbit did or not.



Donut Sundae



I don’t want to alarm you but it’s already the middle of July. I know.

My parents were visiting Maine this weekend and on Saturday morning, my mother and I went to get breakfast and we talked about summer. To be specific, we talked about how much I, and my sister Melissa, dislike summer as a season (This is the weather version of hearing someone doesn’t like chocolate or cake but it’s true.) and how we can’t wait until fall. I told my mother that, beyond my Cons list for summer which is all typical complainy stuff not worth mentioning, what I struggle with the most is the untold pressure behind “enjoying summer.” Especially in Maine where the season is short. Did you go outside? Are you enjoying it? Did you do anything fun this weekend? How fun was it? What are you doing next? There’s a pitched excitement, an intensity, where the undercurrent is “Enjoy it while you can!” and sometimes, it’s all just too much for me. It can be hard to remember to slow down and take it all in. It can overwhelm. Overwhelm + heat is not my favorite place to be.

That intensity, that over-the-top, everything has to be Extreme Everything Everything, is probably what led me to attempt this ice cream sundae for my brother’s birthday this past weekend. Nicole used a donut for hers, mine has buttermilk biscuits which I opted to make from scratch (that shouldn’t be taken as a brag but more as a cry for help), honeyed buttermilk ice cream, whiskey caramel sauce, whipped cream and nuts (gravel for Nicole and she made the better call, frankly). A donut sundae. A biscuit sundae.

Whatever you want to call it, it’s a decadent monstrosity that’s perfect for an intensely [happy] summer.



Donut Sundae



Donut Heaven Sundae

Source: Adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts | Makes: As many as you need | Print Recipe

From Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts 

1 quart of Honeyed Buttermilk Ice Cream (or your favorite store-bought ice cream)
Bauer House Biscuits (or your favorite decadent donut, as shown)
Salted Whiskey Caramel Sauce
Salty Graham Gravel
Whipped Cream

Preparations

1. Ready a bowl.

2. Add donut.

3. Add scoops of slightly softened ice cream.

4. Spoon over caramel sauce.

5. Add a dollop of whipped cream.

6. Sprinkle gravel (I used sliced, toasted almonds on mine) over top.

 

Grapefruit Sorbet

Posted by on Jun 27, 2014 in Desserts | 2 Comments



Grapefruit Sorbet



“I don’t have time for this!” Marnie barked as she tripped over the dog. “Sorry! I’m sorry, Marmalade! Jezzie, come get your dog!” With one hand trying to insert her favorite earring and the other trying to put her high heel on her foot, Marnie bounced at the door and accomplished neither. With a grunt, she gave up on the heel.

Around her, children ran from one room to the other, their backpacks flying. “That’s mine!” “Mom!” “Where’s my lunch?” They yelled to each other from every room in the house and someone had let Tiger’s pet bird out and it swooped overhead like a metronome. Marnie checked the watch on her wrist and swore. “We’re LATE. Let’s go! Drop whatever you’re doing and move it, move it, move it.”

She used her no-nonsense voice and the kids snapped against it like rubberbands and flung themselves toward the door. She had thought it a good idea at the time, the transition from school to camp, but the mornings were not easier on those long, summer days, as she had envisioned. The only difference was that by the time Marnie got to the office, she was dripping with sweat.



Grapefruit Sorbet from Some Kitchen Stories



Out the door they went, all five of her children. Jezzie first with her hands still tying her braids (her mother’s daughter, to the core), Tiger who was calm and tidy but who cast a nervous eye up at the ceiling, worried about her bird as it swooped near the ceiling fan, Louie with his trombone out, marching in the world’s shortest and most frantic parade, True and Porter who had lately developed a game of walking through doors side-by-side so they could get stuck and someone could push them out the door. Today it was Marnie who gave them the nudge and they went flying, all arms and legs, and the other kids laughed. “Stop laughing! Move!” Marnie pointed to the sidewalk where Mrs. Andowitz was idling at the curb with her minivan to take them to camp, her own children quiet in the car and as silent and hollow-eyed as ghostly cherubs.

“Bye, Mom!” They all yelled at her as they clamored into the van like wild monkeys and Marnie waved good-bye, battleworn and weary even though the day had just begun. She waited until the van had disappeared down the street and then she dropped the charade of digging through her purse for her keys. She smiled and ducked back into the house.

Five minutes later, her husband’s car appeared. It stopped in front of the house and Ed opened the door. “Did they buy it?”

“Yup.” In one swift movement, Marnie had removed her heels. “You get the beach chairs and I’ll get the food?”

“Deal.” He was already taking off his tie and headed for the garage. “Hot today.”

“Perfect today.” Marnie walked in the other direction and slipped out of her blouse to reveal the bathing suit underneath. They would need sunscreen, she thought, and the pile of books by the bed. Magazines for Ed. Smuggled bottles of beer. That sorbet she’d been saving in the freezer- she’d replace the container with her cell phone and leave that on ice for a change.

She clapped her hands and whistled and the bird swooped down and around her and into her cage.



Grapefruit Sorbet from Some Kitchen Stories



Appropriate story when you’ve taken a summer Friday off of work and it’s a spectacular day in Maine- don’t you think?

Welp, gotta go. I have ice cream and sorbet to make and friends (and a delicious baby) on their way here. Have a good weekend, kittens.



Grapefruit Sorbet from Some Kitchen Stories



Grapefruit Sorbet

Source: How Sweet Eats | Serves 4-6 | Print Recipe

Ingredients

5 and 1/2 Cups of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (about 6 large grapefruits)
1 and 1/2 Cups of granulated sugar

Directions

1. Juice the grapefruits.

2. Combine 1 cup of grapefruit juice and all of the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until the sugar  dissolves, cooking for about 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and pour in a large bowl, mixing it with the remaining grapefruit juice.

3. Refrigerate for 25 minutes, or until chilled.

4. Once chilled, pour mixture into ice cream maker and churn according to directions. (You can also use the KitchenAid attachment and churn for 25 minutes.)

5. After churning, pour into a container (or loaf pan) and freeze for 6-8 hours until frozen.

 

Coffee Stout Float

Posted by on Jun 12, 2014 in Desserts, Drinks | 5 Comments



Vanilla Stout Float



She unfurled the letter and read. I hope this note finds you well. No. More than that. I hope it finds you sitting in a room, in a chair, with the light falling softly around you. I hope there is stillness there, in that room, within the circle of that light. I hope you look up from the paper and your eyes linger over the dust in the air, the way it sparkles. I hope it is quiet and I hope you are glad that it’s quiet. I hope your heart is still and calm and you wonder where you end and the light begins.

I hope that for you. I hope that even if none of it is true, if the world around you is crashing and loud and full of bodies and sounds and wants and needs that are not your own, that you are surrounded by cymbals and jackhammers, that there is still a piece of you residing in that room, in that chair, surrounded by that light. I hope you feel it, all of it and nothing. 



Vanilla Stout Float



We’re back! Kind of. I’m back, Nicole is still on the road. I dove headfirst back into my life and holy shit, I could use a cold glass of ice cream that’s sinking into beer. Can’t you?

Our friend Jack at The Hop Review helped us pick out the stout for this coffee stout float. We used Vanilla Java Porter by Atwater. Other good options for this, says Jack, are Coffee Bender by Surly Brewing Company or Edmund Fitzgerald by Great Lakes.



Vanilla Stout Float from Some Kitchen Stories



Coffee Stout Float

Source: Brooklyn Brew Shop | Makes: 1 Float

Ingredients

1/2 Cup of stout beer (see recommendations above)
1 Cup of your favorite vanilla ice cream
Chocolate syrup, optional

Directions

[If you add chocolate syrup] drizzle as much as you’d like into a chilled pint glass.

Pour your beer into the glass; Leave about 1/2 inch of room at the top.

Scoop ice cream into the glass, and keep an eye on the foam. Drizzle more chocolate syrup on top if preferred, and serve.

Smitten’s Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars

Posted by on Jun 6, 2014 in Breakfast, Brunch, Desserts | 2 Comments



Smitten's Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars



Laurel smoothed out the front of her long, white wedding dress and stared at her reflection in the glass. A bride, she thought. Who would’ve thought?

Not her. Not now. There was a time, maybe, when she thought about it. When she was twenty. Twenty-two, twenty-eight. Thirty, thirty-one, thirty-two, thirty-three and so on. At forty, she stopped thinking about it. She blew out the candles and let the thoughts go.

She remembered doing it. It was a conscious choice at the time. Time to stop letting your mind wander about the flowers that would grace the aisle, she thought. Time to stop wondering where that aisle would be, on a beach in Maui, in a chapel in the country, the court house downtown. Time to stop wondering if your mother would still be alive to see you at the end of that aisle. She would not. She knew that now. Laurel met her own eyes in the mirror, her mother’s eyes, and felt oddly comforted. What a strange day.

She was not alone as she dressed. She had thought she would be. But Oscar’s daughters had asked her if she needed help and she said yes. So there they stood, in a triangle. Laurel at the mirror, in her dress, her hair freshly done and swept back from her face. Willow stood behind her, at her right, fixing her bouquet. She was twenty, Willow, and fanciful about weddings. She thought Oscar and Laurel’s story was romantic. She wanted to like Laurel, had wanted it from the beginning and so she did. Willow was sweet. Ellen was not. 

Ellen stood to her left, her arms crossed across her chest. Ellen had not wanted to like Laurel, had not wanted to like her from the beginning and so she did not. Although after their time together, Laurel suspected that there was little Ellen liked at all. She regarded her surroundings with her lips pursed, as if the air tasted like lemons. Sour, Laurel thought, as Willow ran a brush through her hair. Sweet and sour. Both of them hers, after today. What a strange day. 



Smitten's Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars



And we’re off!

Nicole’s heading to the East Coast and I am heading further north to Prince Edward Island this weekend. These bars, Smitten’s Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars, are Nicole’s treat for the road. They were my dessert during a long and stressful week. Hers had more strawberries than rhubarb, mine had blueberries instead of strawberries. Either way, they’re delicious (albeit a little too delicate to be eaten on the run. Mine were anyway.), wherever you happen to be heading. Happy weekend!



Smitten's Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars



Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars

Source: Smitten Kitchen | Makes 16 small bars, 8 large bars | Print Recipe

Ingredients

1 Cup (80 grams) of rolled oats
3/4 Cup (95 grams) plus up to extra 2 Tablespoons (15 grams) of all-purpose flour
1/2 Cup (95 grams) of light brown sugar
Heaped 1/4 Teaspoon of table salt
6 Tablespoons (85 grams) of unsalted butter, melted
1 Teaspoon cornstarch (optional but helps firm filling)
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) of lemon juice
1 Tablespoon (15 grams) of granulated sugar, divided
1 Cup (125 grams) of small, diced rhubarb (from 1 and 1/2 medium stalks)
1 Cup (155 grams) of small, diced strawberries

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Prep 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl (I found it difficult to mix it in the dish with the parchment paper), place oats, 3/4 cup of flour, brown sugar and salt and mix. Pour melted butter over and stir until clumps form. (If clumps look soft or damp, add remaining 2 tablespoons of flour). Tumble 1/2 of the crumb mixture into bottom of the baking dish and press down evenly to form crust.

3. Spread half the fruit over the crust. Sprinkle it evenly with cornstarch then lemon juice and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar. Spread remaining fruit over this and top with second 1/2 tablespoon of sugar. (Again, I did this in a small bowl. I don’t mind washing the bowls.) Scatter reserved crumbs over fruit and bake bars for 30 to 40 minutes (firmer fruits will take longer) until fruit is bubbly and crisp is golden and smells toasty.

4. Let cool in the fridge or somewhere cold where they become crisp once chilled (less so at room temperature). Cut into squares.

 

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Egg Rolls

Posted by on May 23, 2014 in Desserts | 2 Comments



Fried Cookie Dough Egg Rolls



“Why do you tie your car key to your shoelace?”

“Because I don’t want to hold my car key when I’m running! What if I drop it?”

… “You know that the running pants you’re wearing right now have a little pocket in the back for your key, right?”

“No. No, I did not.”



Fried Cookie Dough Egg Rolls



“Jeez, it’s cold in here.”

“I know, sorry. It’ll take just a minute for the car to warm up.”

Click. 

“Wait, what button did you just hit?”

“You know that you have seat warmers in this car, right?”

“No. No, I did not.”



Fried Cookie Dough Egg Rolls



“I’LL TAKE IT.”

“Um, wait. Wait. We just got here. Did you ask how much the rent is? Does it have heat? Does it have a BATHROOM? Did you ask anything?”

“No. No, I did not.”

That clueless person in the above vignettes is me. All three of those stories are true. [And I did take that apartment and it did have a bathroom, thankfully. It just didn’t, you know, have any closets or storage areas. But it was still a great deal!] Reading back over them, I’m somewhat amazed I can manage to make it to the office every day, let alone survive intact for thirty-two years.

I don’t know what it is- I have a blind spot for things that others just don’t seem to have. It’s a combination of dreamy flightyness (the kind that has Anne Shirley drifting off shore in a canoe with no oars), optimism (I fall in love with the positives of every apartment I walk into and refuse to see anything else. God help us when I buy a house.) and… I don’t know. Something undefined- a shrugging indifference for details.

Luckily, as the above stories will attest, I’m surrounded by people who DO notice things. Thanks to my friends, I find my way. And they only laugh at me about it for, like, an hour or two. At most. I think mostly they laugh at my wild delight when I discover something I’ve actually OWNED this whole time and didn’t realize; like finding an old Christmas present you never gave someone and now you get to keep it because it’s July. That’s what my life is like.

And now my brother is here! My brother is here! He moved to Maine! Someone to FEED, you guys! A skinny guy who was ALSO raised by my mother and, thus, also appreciates food more than air itself. Someone who will eat the whole platter of Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Egg Rolls.

How lucky is that? How wonderful is that? Another person to help me find the things that I didn’t know I already had.



Fried Cookie Dough Egg Rolls



Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Egg Rolls

Source: MelanieMakes.com | Makes: 30 egg rolls | Print Recipe

Note: This recipe involves frying!

Ingredients

3/4 Cup of brown sugar
1 Cup of peanut butter
1/2 Cup of butter
1/2 Cup of sugar
1 Teaspoon of vanilla
2 Tablespoons of water
1 and 1/2 Cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 Teaspoon of table salt
3 and 1/4 Cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
30 Egg roll wrappers
2 Quarts of vegetable oil
3/4 Cup of whipping cream
Powdered sugar

Directions

1. In the bowl of a standing or electric mixer, cream together the brown sugar, peanut butter, butter and sugar for about two minutes.

2. Add vanilla and water and mix until well combined.

3. In a small bowl, mix flour and salt.

4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in 1 and 1/4 cups of chocolate chips.

5. Add one scoop of cookie dough to each wonton wrapper and roll as shown above.

6. Place wontons on a baking sheet and freeze for at least 30 minutes.

7. In a large saucepan, preheat vegetable oil to 350 degrees.

8. Fry wontons in small batches until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes.

9. Remove from oil and drain on a plate lined with paper towels.

10. Make chocolate ganache dipping sauce: combine 2 cups of chocolate chips with whipping cream in small bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Stir to combine.

11. Sprinkle wontons with powdered sugar and serve with dipping sauce.

 

Chai Spiced Carrot Cupcakes

Posted by on May 8, 2014 in Desserts | No Comments



Chai Spiced Carrot Cupcakes from Some Kitchen Stories 1



“You’re the best ar-ound, nothing’s ever gonna keep ya down,” the boy sang. He was tall and lanky for his age, which was thirteen, and carried a tray of cupcakes which he offered up to anyone in the hallway who caught his eye. Evie ducked behind her locker door and tried to look busy as he got closer and closer. 

Most of the eighth graders at Maritime Middle rolled their eyes or avoided him as he passed. Cole Reyes was new and undeniably weird. He was friendly and smiled easily at everyone, chatted with the teachers, and spoke confidently in class. He wore an army green jacket over his clothes every day that he told Tammy Wineset he’d got from the Salvation Army; Tammy had been disappointed. A natural liar, and the most popular girl in the eighth grade, she’d told half the class that it must’ve belonged to his dead soldier dad. To make matters worse, Cole dismissed her out of hand when the conversation went south in the cafeteria- not something Tammy Wineset was accustomed to dealing with. She narrowed her eyes and he was deemed unfit for her group.  

Cupcakes. Why cupcakes? Evie was prone to being embarrassed for just about everyone and everything and Cole Reyes with his random tray of cupcakes and whistling was too much for her. But when she shut the locker door, there he was.

“Cupcake?”

Evie swallowed hard and looked around. If it was anyone else, she would’ve ignored them and taken her flushed face, and the books she clutched to her chest, down the hall to her next class. But he had stopped right in her path. And the cupcakes smelled so good. And she had missed lunch. Cole Reyes caught her hesitation and smiled at her. “Thanks,” she said and she took one. It felt like everyone in the hall had frozen and stared at them. “Why are you handing out cupcakes?”

“To meet pretty girls.” Cole winked at her and went on his way.  



Chai Spiced Carrot Cupcakes from Some Kitchen Stories 2



 

…..

The receptionist Danah must’ve known how frazzled she was that day because she offered a sympathetic smile. “Gregory’s on Line 2 for you.”

“Again?”

“Again.”

Evie let out a loud, exasperated sigh and it was so deep that both she and Danah laughed. “Shit,” she said and she ran a hand over her frazzled hair, pressed a cool hand to the cheek of her flushed face. “It’s only Tuesday. Tuesday!”

“I know. Oh!” Danah clapped her hands. “Before you get on the phone, just wanted to say… there’s a surprise at the front desk for you.” Danah bopped excitedly from foot to foot. “That is all. Gregory’s waiting. It looks delicious! That’s the only hint I’m giving you!” Danah danced away as Evie tossed her pen cap after her.

A surprise. What could that be about, she wondered, and she put it out of her mind, for the time being, and picked up the phone. “This is Eve Reyes.”



Chai Spiced Carrot Cupcakes from Some Kitchen Stories 3



I have to run because I have to leave work to go pick up my BROTHER. Who moved to MAINE. YESTERDAY. WHAT.

I leave you with chai-scented carrot cupcakes with whipped cream cheese frosting. Because you’re delicious. And life is weird. And full of fun, crazy surprises.



Chai Spiced Carrot Cupcakes from Some Kitchen Stories 4



Chai Spiced Carrot Cupcakes

Source: Amrita Rawat | Makes: 24 Cupcakes |Print Recipe

Cupcake-Base Ingredients

1 and 1/2 Cups (337 grams) of canola oil
1 and 1/2 Cups (287 grams) of granulated sugar
1/2 Cup (100 grams) of packed brown sugar
4 Large eggs
1 LB (6-7) carrots, grated or peeled
2 and 1/2 Cups (248 grams) of all-purpose flour
1 and 1/4 Teaspoon (4.5 grams) of baking powder
1 Teaspoon (4 grams) of baking soda
1 and 1/4 Teaspoons (3 grams) of cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon (1.2 grams) of ground nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon (0.5 grams) of ground cloves
1/4 Teaspoon (0.5 grams) of ground cardamom
1/2 Teaspoon (1 gram) of salt

Frosting Ingredients

1/2 Cup (122 grams) of heavy whipping cream
8 Ounces of cream cheese
2/3 Cup (134 grams) of brown sugar
1 Teaspoon (5 grams) of vanilla extract

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare muffin tray with liners.

2. Mix together the oil, sugar, and eggs in a bowl. Mix the dry ingredients (through salt) in a separate bowl. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients and combine.

3. Add “extras” (nuts, raisins, whatever) to your batter.

4. Scoop batter into muffin liners and bake for 20 minutes (or inserted implement comes out clean or just a few crumbs).

5. While the cupcakes bake, prepare the frosting: whip the cream in a clean bowl until stiff peaks form.

6. In a separate bowl, whip the cream temperature (I zap the cream cheese in the microwave if it’s cold. Just about 5-10 seconds.), sugar and extract together until well-blended.

7. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until well-combined.

8. Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes.

Dulce de Leche Brownies

Posted by on Apr 18, 2014 in Desserts | 10 Comments



Dulce de Leche Brownies



It was late when the door opened. The bright thing had gone away hours before and the house was dark. Only the glow sticks on the shelf gave off any light. 

Hammer opened his one eye at the sound of the jingling. He already laid on the floor with the door in view and knew as soon as the footsteps approached that it was Blonde One and Dark Haired One. Though the loud rolling and scraping noise that came with them was disturbing. He decided to sound the alarm. 

Buckley (who was terrible at night watch because he was not rescued but purchased and thus thought that all people were fairy beings who carried bacon in their pockets) came flying around the corner when Hammer sounded the alarm and joined in the serenade. When Blonde One and Dark Haired One shuffled in, grunting and saying the curse words, Buckley decided it was an invitation to leap into Dark Haired One’s arms. The cursing was louder now. Something fell.

Oh, they had been gone for so long! Ages and ages and ages! Even Hammer could not contain himself and circled them many, many times. They were covered in strange smells and the loud rolling, scraping thing was actually the Dreaded Box that they sometimes removed from the closet- the Dreaded Box made them disappear and made the gray haired lady appear instead (she only gave them hard biscuits, never chicken). Hammer growled at the Dreaded Box and considered lifting his leg on it to show his displeasure. But then Blonde One put a hand on his head and he forgot all that. 



Dulce de Leche Brownies



The four of them moved slowly, one giant mass, into the kitchen. Dark Haired One stumbled in first. “Food,” he mumbled. Hammer stood by his side and they looked into the Cold Box together. For the first time, Hammer realized that Dark Haired One had a peculiar item on his head- a brown hat with a strap under the chin. His skin was darkened, almost red. He had blackness around one eye. “Babe?”

“Brownies!” Blonde One had the same brown hat under her chin. She yawned and scratched Buckley behind the ears (he immediately dropped onto his back, swinging his legs, because he lacked dignity). She held something up to Dark Haired One and he grabbed it from her hand. “God bless Gerta,” he said. 

Hammer watched them attack the treats with joy and happiness. The curse words stopped. Silence filled the dark kitchen as they munched and scratched the dogs’ heads.  

The special treats must have chicken in them, Hammer thought. Was only explanation.



Dulce de Leche Brownies



Let’s play a fun game where you pretend like you’re reading this and not completely consumed with the photos of these brownies.

I mean, I get it. I am that dorky friend at the pool sitting beside her best guy friend when the hot lifeguard emerges from the water, complete with slow motion and that “boom chicka-chick-a” music from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  (Lifeguard = dulce de leche brownies). I don’t know how we ended up in a Taylor Swift song but who cares, you’re not even reading this. I can say anything right now. Poop. Monkey butt.

Because brownies. BROWNIES.



Dulce de Leche Brownies



Dulce de Leche Brownies

Source: foodswoon.com | Makes: One 8”x8” pan | Print Recipe

Ingredients

10 Tablespoons (1 and 1/4 sticks) of unsalted butter
1 and 1/4 Cups of sugar
3/4 Cups plus 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 Teaspoon of salt
1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 Cold, large eggs
1/2 Cup of all-purpose flour
1 and 1/4 Cups of dulce de leche*
Coarse sea salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325°F.

2. Spray an 8×8-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the butter, sugar, cocoa and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place the bowl on top of a pot of simmering water. Stir until the butter melts and the mixture turns into a paste.

4. Remove the bowl from the pot and allow to cool for five minutes.

5. Stir in the vanilla.

6. Add the eggs one at time, stirring vigorously after each addition.

7. Stir in the flour, then beat the mixture with a wooden spoon for 40 strokes.

8. Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan. In spoonfuls, drop half of the dulce de leche on top of the batter. Run a knife lightly through the batter and dulce de leche in a swirling motion. Pour the rest of the batter on top, followed by spoonfuls of the remaining dulce de leche. Lighly run the knife through the batter again in a swirling motion. Sprinkle the top of the brownies with coarse sea salt.

9. Bake for 50-60 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

10. Let cool on a rack. It’s easiest to cut the brownies and remove them from the pan when they have completely cooled.

* You can find cans of dulce de leche near the sweetened condensed milk in the supermarket. If you would like to make your own, here are two recipes: David Lebovitz’ recipe or Smitten Kitchen’s recipe. If you go the homemade route, make sure the dulce de leche has cooled before adding to the brownie batter.

 

Chocolate Mascarpone Cupcakes

Posted by on Feb 28, 2014 in Desserts | 3 Comments



Chocolate Mascarpone Cupcakes from Some Kitchen Stories



The sign on the tree pointed to the left of the path of packed snow. She stared at the sign, confused. Cabin that way. Path that way. Which way to go? 

She started to walk up the path and the dog bounded up the snow beside her, his leash straining from the weight of the little sled, weighed down by their bags. She stopped. What if, despite all logical evidence that this was clearly a path and the sign pointed toward the trees (and untouched snow that came up to her knees), she went the wrong way?

She was already nervous about the weekend. A log cabin in the woods, all by herself. No electricity, no running water. Two days in the woods to write and to stare at the mountains and listen to her dog snore by the fire. It had sounded like a good idea when she booked the place, two months ago. She had not thought about how she would keep a fire going for two days in a woodstove or that she did not know how to light a hurricane lantern or just how much snow would surround them. Or how she would get the 1/4 mile from the parked car to the place. She stared at the sign; it clearly pointed away from the path, into the trees. She did not want to make a mistake.

She made a mistake.



Chocolate Mascarpone Cupcakes from Some Kitchen Stories



They trudged into the snow and it was only a few trees in that she knew this could not be right. Her legs sank into the snow and the dog sank into the snow and the sled careened after him. When she started to panic, cold, snow filling her boots, weariness setting in from the sheer effort of walking, the dog started to panic. He slunk into the snow beside her legs and for a second, they leaned against a tree and stared back up the hill where the car was. 

Stupid, she thought. But there was no time to berate herself; she had to get out of the snow. She untied his leash from the sled and hefted the rope herself; the dog was tired and she had gotten him into this so she would be the one to pull it back up the hill. 

Up she trudged into the snow. She tried to find her own footsteps but her boots were heavy and each step felt like a hundred steps. The dog waited until she had stepped and then followed, the weight of his body pressing against the back of her legs. One step, another. She hefted and heaved and sweated under her big coat, already exhausted. Step. Step. So much snow. The sled became stuck between two thin tree trunks and she stared at it and pulled and wondered how she could be so stupid, to move off the path. 

They made it up, finally, to the car. Woman and dog let out relieved breaths. Her legs and feet felt like lead, sweat cooled on her neck. She stared up at the sign and its misleading arrow but there was only herself to blame. The dog moved toward the car, his tail wagging, adventure over, time to go home. She rubbed his head with her soaked mitten and clipped the rope back to his leash. She nudged him toward the path and he went. He was tired still so she grabbed the rope and together they pulled the sled to the cabin, the rest of the way. 



Chocolate Mascarpone Cupcakes from Some Kitchen Stories



A true story.



Chocolate Mascarpone Cupcakes from Some Kitchen Stories



SKS: The Chocolate Collection

Chocolate Mug of Sadness |  No Bake Happiness Pops | Molten Chocolate Cake | Snickers Peanut Butter Brownie Ice Cream Cake | Take 5 Bars Homemade Peppermint Patties | Homemade Peanut Butter Cups The All-Time Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe | Cookie In a Skillet Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies | Thin Mint Whoopie PiesWhite Chocolate Peppermint M&M Cookies | Hot Cocoa Cookies S’More Pizza | Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes | Hamburger Cupcakes | Cookies ‘n Creme Owl Cupcakes Brownie Batter Cupcakes Chocolate Ganache | Upside Down Fudge Almond Tart | Mad Easy Chocolate Pecan Pie | The Twix Tart Brownie Pudding |  Whiskey Truffles | Apricot White Chocolate Biscotti | Coffee Chocolate Milkshake | Chocolate Dipped Potato Chips | Double Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Mascarpone Cupcakes

Source: yourcupofcake.com | Makes 24 cupcakes | Print Recipe

Ingredients

1 Box of Devil’s Food Cake mix
3 Eggs
1/2 Cup of oil
1 Cup of buttermilk
1/2 Cup of sour cream
2 Teaspoons of vanilla extract

Mascarpone Filling:

8 Ounces of mascarpone
1/2 Cup of powdered sugar
1/2 Teaspoon of vanilla extract

Chocolate Buttercream:

1/2 Cup of butter, softened
8 Ounces of cream cheese, softened
2/3 Cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 and 1/2 Teaspoons of vanilla extract
3-4 Cup of powdered sugar
Sprinkles for decoration

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line pan with cupcake liners.

2. Sift cake mix into a small bowl and set aside.

3. Combine all other cake ingredients in a separate bowl, until smooth.

4. Stir in cake mix.

5. Fill cupcake liners to 3/4 full and bake for 17-22 minutes or until your cake tester comes out clean.

6. Make the filling: in a small bowl, combine all filling ingredients until smooth.

7. Make the buttercream: Beat butter with cream cheese for two full minutes. Add cocoa powder and vanilla extract and beat again until combined. Slowly add the powdered sugar until you reach the consistency you like. (If it’s too thick, add a bit of milk.)

8. Assemble: Use a knife to cut a small “cone” out of the top of each cooled cupcake. Discard the cone (into your mouth, how did that happen?) and generously fill each with mascarpone filling. Pipe frosting over each filled cupcake and top with sprinkles.

 

Double Chocolate Brownies

Posted by on Feb 20, 2014 in Desserts | 5 Comments



Double Chocolate Brownies from Some Kitchen Stories



When she saw the note on the windshield, she thought the worst. “Someone’s hit the car,” she said aloud even though she was by herself, on the sidewalk, outside her office. She looked around quickly to see if anyone had heard her. Embarrassing.

She plucked the note from the glass and pressed her index finger and thumb to the bridge of her nose, a move her mother did when she was on the verge of tears. Last year, she’d been in a hurry and had parked outside her local coffee shop to run back out and find a note on the glass, one that chided her for selfishly taking up two parking spaces instead of one. It had haunted her all day. She thought of it now and felt the low burn of shame at the stranger’s words, remembered clearly the feminine scrawl and exclamation points.

 With a deep breath, she unfolded the note and read, “Hi! I work in the same building as you. I’ve been working late on a project lately and I noticed that you’ve been working late a lot too the last few weeks. The other day, we got into the parking lot at the same time and you just rested your head against the steering wheel. I think maybe you’ve been feeling the same way I’ve been feeling. 

So, I made two pans of brownies last night. One I’m keeping for myself at my desk because I need them. The other is for you! It’s with that super cute guy who’s been working the security desk all week, Simon is his name. (Simon + Brownies = Win!) Tell him you’re there to pick up a package from Rosemarie.  Hope you like them.”

“PS. I know this sounds crazy. I’m not crazy, I swear. 

PPS. Things will get better. They always do.” 



Double Chocolate Brownies from Some Kitchen Stories



Brownie break! 

I made these a few weeks ago (see note below. Ugh.) and they are tremendous. I cannot eat them at the moment because, well, I’m calorie-counting.

It’s not to lose weight per-se. I mean, if that happens great but really it’s because it’s crunch time at work and with my other projects and when I get overwhelmed, I tend to nosh uncontrollably. I eat what’s available, I hunt for more food, and what’s worse, I tell myself that I earned it. (I can get a double cheeseburger AND french fries AND a milk shake YOU DON’T OWN ME.) and one meal spins into another and another.

I know I’m not the only one who does this. I also know that I can control myself with a little planning and staying aware of it.

Here’s the thing, really. Sometimes, I really, really, really just… don’t want to think about food. I mean, I love food and taste and cooking and all that but all the wavering and the deciding and the guilt and the no-guilt-but-now-I-feel-deprived and guilt and just a little guilt now and back and forth and back and forth and pulling at the waistband of my jeans and wondering, wondering, wondering. I just decided to take the guess-work out of the equation for a few weeks. A planned week of meals, carefully measured out and portioned properly and counted. A little less thinking, same amount of eating.

And these double chocolate brownies, these “taste like they came from a box mix but BETTER brownies” at the end of all of it. (And maybe this cheesecake too, I mean- man can only withstand so much.)



Double Chocolate Brownies from Some Kitchen Stories



SKS: The Chocolate Collection

Chocolate Mug of Sadness |  No Bake Happiness Pops | Molten Chocolate Cake | Snickers Peanut Butter Brownie Ice Cream Cake | Take 5 Bars Homemade Peppermint Patties | Homemade Peanut Butter Cups The All-Time Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe | Cookie In a Skillet Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies | Thin Mint Whoopie PiesWhite Chocolate Peppermint M&M Cookies | Hot Cocoa Cookies S’More Pizza | Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes | Hamburger Cupcakes | Cookies ‘n Creme Owl Cupcakes Brownie Batter Cupcakes Chocolate Ganache | Upside Down Fudge Almond Tart | Mad Easy Chocolate Pecan Pie | The Twix Tart Brownie Pudding |  Whiskey Truffles | Apricot White Chocolate Biscotti | Coffee Chocolate Milkshake | Chocolate Dipped Potato Chips

Double Chocolate Brownies

Source: Pastry Affair | Makes: 1 9×9″ pan | Print Recipe

*Kristin at Pastry Affair always needs to keep blogging, always. I hate to break it to her but she can never quit. Her recipes are fantastic and every single one I’ve attempted has turned out perfectly (unless my distraction/stupidity intervened).

Ingredients

4 Tablespoons (56 grams) of butter
4 Ounces (110 grams) of dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 Large eggs
3/4 Cup (150 grams) of brown sugar, packed
3 Tablespoons of granulated sugar
1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 Cup (125 grams) of all-purpose flour
1/2 Teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 Teaspoon of salt
1/2 Cup (85 grams) of dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a 9×9-inch pan.

2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and chopped chocolate over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat.

3. Stir in the eggs (carefully, not to scramble the eggs), sugars, and vanilla extract.

4. Fold in the flour, baking powder and salt.

5. Allow the batter to cool to room temperature; add the chocolate chips.

6. Pour into prepared pan and put in oven for 25-30 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when you insert a toothpick or a knife and it emerges mostly clean with a few crumbs. Cool before slicing.

 

Heart Pies

Posted by on Feb 13, 2014 in Desserts | One Comment



Heart Pies from Some Kitchen Stories



“Careful… careful.” 

Ebenezer scowled at his mentor. “I can’t concentrate when you’re in my ear.” 

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” Louisa sighed. They had been sitting at The Overlook for hours and Ebenezer had yet to make his first match. Louisa sighed again, more loudly when her young charge lifted a hand and swung, his gesture far too sweeping. “No, no, no. Stop! You’re going to send her back to Costa Rica!”

Now, he was the one who sighed. He rocked back on his ethereal heels and the cloud reached up to greet him. “This is impossible.”

“Don’t be absurd,” Louisa chided. He was the youngest charge she had ever taught, selected for his promise, but he expected everything to come so easily. Millenials, she thought. “Here, I’ll do one. Pay attention.” She lifted her hands and made her movements more deliberate and graceful, exaggerated for effect, to select a young man she had eyed for weeks. And what perfect timing, she thought as she peered in on him. He was on the computer, playing one of his video games. 

“Why him?” Ebenezer asked with some disdain and Louisa bit her tongue. The young charges only ever wanted to match the young, beautiful people with each other. It was far too easy and not nearly as rewarding.

Ebenezer asked again and she snapped back, “He’s an exquisitely kind person. Now, shut it and pay attention.” 



Heart Pies from Some Kitchen Stories



Ebenezer, to his credit, clammed up and watched her with interest and she used her hands to guide the scene. She kept one hand on him firmly and, with the other hand, went seeking for his counterpart. 

It took longer than either of them would like but this young man was a tricky case and Louisa was determined to do it correctly. She could’ve done what the other mentors did in these instances, she thought, and zip off to Los Angeles and select two cat-eyed actors who happened to be on the same set; but it was all flash, just for show. She wanted her charges to do work that mattered, that lasted.

Finally, finally, Louisa found the counterpart. “There,” she said with satisfaction and Ebenezer gawked at her choice. “She’s in China!” he exclaimed. “Thousands of miles away!”

“She’s perfect.” Her years and experience told her she was right. When she rested her hands on each of them, she felt a pleasant hum in her wrists. She smiled. The shy English teacher in Hong Kong and the secretly gregarious gamer in Washington DC. “And besides… that’s why we invented the Internet.”



Heart Pies from Some Kitchen Stories



How fitting that these little heart-shaped pies should come with a dusting of powdered sugar. It’s snowing as I write this (when isn’t it snowing?) It’s dinner time. Nigella Lawson is talking somewhere in my apartment, like some kind of good British fairy, there to dispense guidance or a cheeky wink if I need it. When I finish writing, I have more work to do, for a few hours yet, but I strangely don’t feel tired or bothered by the thought.

I’ve known that these next few weeks were going to be heady with work and stress and things due and now that “the weeks” are here, I feel prepared. I’ve been playing a little game lately- something that makes me feel a little goofy and New Agey but whatever, it makes me feel better and it works. Pollyanna was on to something with The Glad Game. I’ve been playing The Gratitude Game (god, SO NEW AGEY) where you basically start slowly listing the things you’re grateful for.

Here’s what’s funny about the game- no matter where or how slowly you start, you can play it for hours. Gratitude, I discovered on Monday, riding on the LIRR into Manhattan for a meeting, my nerves jumbling, splits like atoms. Touch one thing to be grateful for and you can uncover fifteen other things to be grateful for, some of them as minute and trifling as being grateful for being on a warm train on a brutally cold day and then looking out the window and spotting an old man on a bench, his jacket unzipped, his hands uncovered and raw in the cold and making a wish that he’d zip up his jacket and then whoosh, a rush of joy as he does zip his coat against the cold, as if he can hear you, as if your feelings have wings.

It’s a silent game, it’s yours, and the benefits are endless. Nobody has to know how silly it makes you feel at first. If you’re struggling right now, I think you should try it.

It’s February so the unsolicited life advice is free, along with the recipes. 😉



Heart Pies from Some Kitchen Stories



We were not supposed to make these cute little heart pies. We were supposed to make something more complicated (more charming yes but more complicated) but found ourselves struggling with the ingredients list. Nicole (as snowed-in and bowled-over as I feel) went with these simple loves instead. They use store-bought ingredients, yes, but that just means… you can make them today, no stress, no worries. A simple, breathlessly easy gesture of love for Valentine’s Day; doesn’t that sound just… right?

(Nigella just instructed me to leave some chocolate batter in the bowl, for eating later. I absolutely love her. I don’t care what anyone says about her, ever, ever. Always leave some chocolate batter in the bowl, for yourself, for later. That and some gratitude. Life’s not so bad.)



Heart Pies from Some Kitchen Stories



SKS: The Chocolate Collection

Chocolate Mug of Sadness |  No Bake Happiness Pops | Molten Chocolate Cake | Snickers Peanut Butter Brownie Ice Cream Cake | Take 5 Bars Homemade Peppermint Patties | Homemade Peanut Butter Cups The All-Time Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe | Cookie In a Skillet Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies | Thin Mint Whoopie PiesWhite Chocolate Peppermint M&M Cookies | Hot Cocoa Cookies S’More Pizza | Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes | Hamburger Cupcakes | Cookies ‘n Creme Owl Cupcakes Brownie Batter Cupcakes Chocolate Ganache | Upside Down Fudge Almond Tart | Mad Easy Chocolate Pecan Pie | The Twix Tart Brownie Pudding |  Whiskey Truffles | Apricot White Chocolate Biscotti | Coffee Chocolate Milkshake | Chocolate Dipped Potato Chips

*It’s true, these are filled with jam not chocolate despite our promises for a chocolate-filled month. But why not chocolate? Make them with Nutella and then please invite me over so I can eat one. Okay, thanks, glad we agree.

Heart Pies

Makes: 10-12 Pies (depends on your cookie cutter) | Print Recipe

Ingredients

Store-bought pie crust
Your favorite jam, jelly or curd
Powdered sugar for sprinkling
1 Egg (for egg wash)

Directions

1. Roll out pie crust to 1/4 inch thickness.

2. Cut with cookie cutter of your choice.  (Hearts are festive for Valentine’s Day, don’t you think?)

3. Spread jam in the center of half the pies, leaving some room around the border.

4. Combine blank halves with jam halves and use a fork around the border to seal.

5. Whisk egg lightly and brush over tops of the pies.

6. Prick top lightly with a fork.

7. Bake in oven (follow pie crust instructions).

8. Once the heart pies are cool, dust with powdered sugar.

 

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