Tag Archives: baking

cinnamon apple macawhoopsie pie

apple macarons

So the time had finally come for me to make my own macarons, which Joseph was reminding me on a regular basis.  He had seen a recipe for cinnamon apple macarons on Dessert for Breakfast that look absolutely amazing.  I kept pleading with him, saying that we should probably start with something a little much more basic.  When he finally relented and said, “Yeah, you’re right, we should probably start with something easier” I was suddenly determined that I would not start small.  No, I was going to make the cinnamon apple macarons if it killed me.  And it nearly did.

Ok, that’s a complete exaggeration.  But if you’ve never tried to make macarons, or talked with anyone who has, or read anything about them, you may not know that they are difficult to make because of the very temperamental meringue cookies that make the sandwich.  This particular macaron has many elements, and well, it just didn’t work.  At all.  It completely flopped.  I didn’t get the macaron “foot” (the little bottom that each of the cookies is supposed to have), they were dense instead of airy, and each top was completely covered in little cracks. Continue reading


maple cookies

Ok, so I may have totally failed my sister’s Apple Day, but we definitely did a nice feature of maple between the maple-mustard pork and the maple cookies.  Yup, we used a lot of maple syrup for that meal and it was oh, so good.  I already told you how good the pork was, but the cookies….  Buttery and sugary and most important, one of the best flavors on earth: maple!  What’s not to love? The only downside to these cookies is that recipe calls for a whole cup of maple syrup, but luckily, we had a bunch of maple syrup on hand (emphasis on had).

Continue reading

Healthy Carrot Zucchini Muffins

carrot zucchini muffin

Remember that carrot cake I made last week?  And how much I enjoyed shoving carrots down the shoot of the food processor?  Well, I went overboard on both the purchase of carrots and the shredding of carrots.  The carrots I didn’t shred were perfect for the Chicken in Escabeche of Caramelized Onions, Carrots, and Jalapeños.  But I needed something to use up the nearly two extra cups of shredded carrots that I ended up with.  I saw a recipe somewhere for carrot zucchini muffins and decided that was the perfect way to at least use some of them up.  I finally got around to getting some zucchini last night, but then I couldn’t find the recipe.  I searched through my cookbooks, but finally gave up and went to my friend, the interwebs.  I found a healthy (you know, as healthy as they can be when they have a cup and a half of sugar…) recipe that was reviewed well and I had all the ingredients, so I went with it.

Let me just say that this is not a dessert muffin.  I know there are plenty of people that generally don’t eat muffins for dessert, but I think many muffins, especially right out of the oven, make a wonderful dessert.  These muffins are fine for breakfast or a snack.  But they are NOT a dessert muffin.  So when your husband has just made you a delicious dinner and then wants some dessert, don’t tell him to hold off on dessert because you are going to make these muffins because everyone involved will be disappointed.  No, it’s probably better that he go for the Ben & Jerry’s fro yo in the freezer.

I still have another 3/4 cup or so of shredded carrots, so let me know if you have any great ideas!

Carrot Zucchini Muffins
Adapted from Nicole’s Winter Carrot Zucchini Bread

Makes 12

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
6 egg whites*
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup grated unpeeled zucchini
1 cup grated carrot
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)**

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease muffin tin.
  2. Sift together all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a large bowl until well blended.
  3. Beat egg whites with a mixer until light and frothy. Stir in applesauce, brown sugar, zucchini, carrots, and vanilla until well combined. Mix in the raisins and pecans, if using. Add the flour mixture, stirring just until blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20-25  minutes or so. Pop the muffins out and let cool on a wire rack.

* I didn’t feel like wasting 6 egg yolks and didn’t have time to make ice cream or a custard and I was lazy and didn’t feel like doing the whole beating and folding with the egg whites, so I just used 3 eggs.  It mike work with just 2 eggs.  And it would certainly be healthier with all egg whites, but oh well.

** I didn’t use em. And I’ll hide it in the footnote that you can also add raisins if you want.  If I were ever going to put raisins in a muffin, this is probably the muffin I would do it in.

Quick and Easy Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

banana chocolate chip muffins

My husband knows me pretty well. The other day I was going to bake a carrot cake for a coworker’s birthday and I also wanted to bake something for a picnic and Shakespeare in the park the next night. At first Joseph thought this was a great idea and then he got this look in his eye — one could call it panic — and insisted I should only make the cake. I guess you can say that my nearest and dearest all know how much I love to bake, but also what a ridiculous mess I become when I get stressed in the kitchen. That night we went to the gym, made dinner, and went to the grocery before I could get started, not to mention the fact that it was HOT and we have no AC in the kitchen. So I decided to nix the Cooks Illustrated brownies I’d been thinking about making and just make some simple banana muffins with chocolate chips for the picnic in addition to the cake. Joseph still looked concerned, but I assured him that I could practically make these muffins blindfolded as long as I had some super ripe bananas (which we did).

I’ve tried many, many banana bread recipes and this is my favorite so far. I still need to try the Cook’s Illustrated recipe, but it looks so complex and part of what I love about this recipe is how quick and easy it is. The nuts are optional, but I think it really adds to the depth of flavor as well as the texture. I like to break the pieces up fairly small so that there’s just enough subtle crunch to keep things interesting. Since these were going to be dessert-like, I also added chocolate chips. I would normally use smaller chips, but I had the Ghirardelli bittersweet chips on hand which are kind of on the big side. C’est la vie, I didn’t think anyone was going to complain about big chunks of chocolate in their muffins. Lo and behold, they were a hit and we came home empty-handed which is a very good thing because after that carrot cake, the last thing I needed was muffins in the house!

Banana Muffins
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts

Sigh. I feel that I should add that you can also add raisins, but you already know how I feel about raisins and if you ask me, you’d be ruining the muffins.

Makes 12 muffins

1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
3 large ripe bananas (about 3 cups mashed)*
2 cups flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 t pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)**
1/2 cup chopped almonds, walnuts, or pecans (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tin or use paper liners.
  2. Beat oil, sugar, eggs, and mashed bananas until well blended in large bowl. You can do this in a mixer, but save yourself the mess and just do it by hand.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Fold into the wet ingredients being careful not to overmix. Add the vanilla and chocolate chips and nuts if using.
  4. Spoon into prepared tin and bake 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the tin and cool on a rack.

* We actually had a big bunch of these little tiny bananas we got at Whole Foods (Joseph was hoping they were the same as some bananas he used to get back in the Philippines, but no) and I had no idea if it would be enough. It ended up only being 2 cups, but everything worked out just fine. Just make sure that the banana is really, really ripe (i.e. black). It will yield much better flavor, not to mention it will be easier to mash.

** I never bother measuring the chocolate chips and just add until it looks like the right ratio. It is quite likely that it is usually more than half a cup 🙂

the carrots make it healthy, thank you very much

frosted carrot cake

Everyone always seem to think of carrot cake as being healthy.  It’s the nice little illusion those carrots give.  Veggies in your dessert!  Can you even call it a dessert?  No, better off calling it a side!  If only.  This is one of the more unhealthy cakes that I make (why hello, 2 cups of sugar and 4 eggs and we haven’t even gotten to the frosting!).  I try to lighten it up by replacing some of the oil with apple sauce, but really, I think it’s in vain.  Oh well.  It does still have carrots in it so, think of all the beta carotene you’re getting. Huzzah!

carrot cake

I haven’t made this cake in a few years, partially because the last time I made it, I made such a mess.  It took forever to grate all the carrots and I somehow managed to get bits of carrot all over the kitchen.  This time I was so excited to get out the food processor.  Let the machine do it!!  I was less excited when I thought of all the little pieces I’d have to wash (I love my food processor, but I hate washing it!), but decided it was still worth it.  I loved it.  Shove the carrot down the shoot and out come perfect grated carrots on the other end!  Marvelous.  On to the fun stuff.

cream cheese frosting

So, I know many people don’t think that it doesn’t really qualify as a carrot cake unless you put raisins in it.  I personally happen to hate raisins in most things (cinnamon raisin bagels and oatmeal cookies being the main exceptions, and even then, I’m not a huge fan) so I never put raisins in my carrot cake.  The coworker who I made this cake for is even more opposed to raisins in carrot cake than I am, so luckily I had no dilemma there.

Despite not exactly being the veggie side dish you wish it were, it’s a pretty delicious, moist cake and there’s only one person in the world that I know that doesn’t love cream cheese frosting (in fact, she hates it, but that’s just further proof that my sister is just wrong ;)).  The cake was devoured at work, but I did manage to save a small piece for Joseph who had helped me maintain my sanity the night before by measuring ingredients and helping with dishes.

carrot cake slice

Carrot Cake
Adapted from Tammy Elliot on Allrecipes.com

If you are in the Pro Raisins Camp, add a cup of raisins.  Either camp can also choose to add a cup of pecans if desired. Add them at the end when you add the carrots.

I made it in a 9×13 pan to make it nice and easy, not to mention more portable and easier to cut into many smaller pieces for lots of people.  If you want to make a layer cake, just use a conversion chart.

4 eggs
3/4 cup oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 t vanilla
2 cups flour
2 t baking soda
2 t baking powder
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 t salt
2 t cinnamon*
1/2 t nutmeg
3 cups grated carrots (4-5 carrots)

1/2 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 t vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 9×13 inch pan.
  2. Beat together eggs, oil, applesauce, white and brown sugar, and vanilla in large bowl.
  3. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg in a medium bowl.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture making sure to not overmix.  Add the carrots and pour into the prepared pan.
  5. Cook for 40-50 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.**
  6. To make the frosting – In a medium bowl, beat softened cream cheese, butter, confectioners sugar, and vanilla until smooth and creamy.  I tried to do this by hand (always trying to reduce dishes to wash!) but gave up and grabbed my hand blender which made it so much easier. Spread over completely cooled cake.

* I’m a big fan of baking spices and always add a bit extra cinnamon whatever the recipe
** Always check early!  My oven runs hot and was done after 36 minutes.  Dried out cakes make me so sad!