Sunday, September 27, 2009


Followers of The Pioneer Woman (or, as she's known to some of us, PDub) know that she's launched a new recipe website called The Tasty Kitchen. It seems like a great idea - home cooks who are internet savvy sharing their recipes. So clearly this calls for an experiment.

I had half a loaf of french bread left over from dinner, and it got a bit stale. What better to do with stale bread than to make a bread pudding? Yum! Now when I was 15 the words "bread pudding" would have filled me with pure terror, but who knew?! My mom was right. Now that I'm OLD, I like all kinds of foods I never thought I would. Except for beets. Mom's still wrong about that.

I went to The Tasty Kitchen and searched for bread pudding recipes. There were a couple to choose from, but when it came down to it I went for the chocolate (surprise!) instead of the raisins (no surprise!). This recipe has a rating of 4.07 mitts. Notice, however, that the reviews that are posted are from people who haven't actually prepared the recipe. Honestly, that blows. How can a rating system work when people flaunt the commonly accepted guidelines in such a cavalier manner, I ask you?!


It turned out okay. Nothing crazy good, but not bad. Definitely 3 stars, not no 4.07 mitts. My kids liked it, but they'll eat just about anything with a chocolate chip in it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Probably the Best Cupcakes I've ever made.

And believe me, I've made an obscene amount of cupcakes in my lifetime. These, however... a masterpiece. I don't know if I can top them.

They are Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache. And before you squish your nose all on me at the thought of "Banana" I'm about to school you. If you think you don't like banana, then I urge you, please try these cupcakes. The banana in them merely acts as a sweet, hint of flavor that 1. enhances the chocolate and espresso, 2. Makes these cupcakes so moist and dense you would think they sopped up something tasty, and 3. doesn't really overly taste like banana, more like a underlying note of sweetness... almost like a honey flavor. The come out the most beautiful golden brown... like a chocolate chip cookie. And the ganache totally sends it over the edge.

For you normal people that enjoy a nice slice of fresh baked banana bread, these cupcakes will take that flavor payoff and RAISE you about a hundred. I mean. Seriously. Look at the inside... there's hunks of banana in these squishy pockets and those funky black flecks that show up when you bake banana (what are those anyway, like banana seeds?) Lest we forget to mention the chocolate. The CHOCOLATE that sets everything off perfectly. Ahhhh... I can't say enough.The Recipe:

4 medium sized ripe bananas, mashed but not all the way (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar packed
1/2 cup melted butter (unsalted)
1/4 cup milk
1 egg

Stir all of these together with your best wooden spoon... NO MIXER, please.

Then, the dry stuff:
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 tsp. instant espresso (I used just over)
1 tsp. salt (I used just under.)
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (don't use Milk Chocolate ones. Trust me.)

Make a well in the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ones. Again, please no mixer. You want this to be soft and mooshy. Not all beaten up and bruised.

This makes about 12 cupcakes, bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let them cool for a few minutes in the pan and then move them to a rack.

When they have cooled, make the ganache: ( I made this recipe doubled, and ended up with tons of ganache leftover, so I'm giving you the half recipe. If you want to make the whole thing and have ganache for something else, knock yourself out and double the recipe.)

1/2 cup cream
4-5 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips

Heat the cream juuuuuust to a boil, stirring gently the whole time to avoid that nasty dairy skin thing. Pour the cream over the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and stir until smooth. Even whisk, maybe. Then dip the top of each precious cupcake in the ganache and let dry on a cooling rack to catch any drips.

It's actually a super easy and quick recipe. Easily, 5 Stars... no doubt. The recipe I read called for a peanut butter frosting, but I think that it wouldn't be right to add another flavor in there... I will have to try it to be sure. I'm glad I went with my instincts on this one.

Recipe for the cake courtesy of The Noshery and the Ganache Recipe is one I remembered from something I made of Martha Stewart's, but I don't have a link. But thanks, Martha.

Happy Cupcake eating! Make these for your sweetie and I'm sure you'll get a little PG-13 action at the very least.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Makes me want to get out a bowl.

I needed a quick little something to add to a wedding shower gift. I think this fits the bill! You can find directions and recipe here.