Sunday, September 29, 2013

Root Beer Bundt Cake

The idea of living in Oklahoma probably doesn't fill most of you with profound joy or longing. And I can understand. It's not the kind of place that most people dream of experiencing. We don't have particularly notable landscapes, architecture, culture, or events. What we do have is extreme temperatures and extreme weather. In fact, tornadoes are probably enough to turn most people off. Forever.
But I have lived the vast majority of my life here, and there is definitely happiness and contentment to be had. The people are kind and resilient, the sunsets are breathtaking, and the tornadoes aren't usually too bad (if that's any consolation). And, at the risk of sounding glib, one thing I love about Oklahoma is Pops.
Not only is Pops marked by the tallest soda bottle IN THE WORLD, but the convenience store and restaurant inside also has HUNDREDS of sodas in every flavor you've imagined, from all over the country, from all over the world. And it's right on historic Route 66, so bonus.

I love going to Pops and gambling on whether the random sodas I choose will be delicious or gross, mediocre or memorable. And they have many, many different root beers to aid me on my quest to find the best possible root beer. I've had lots of delicious root beers (some of my favorites are Iron Horse and Pop Shoppe), as well as some total bloopers (like their signature Round Barn root beer--why haven't they figured out that their house brew tastes like a paper bag?)

So I consider myself somewhat of an expert on root beers, and I was quite excited for this Root Beer Bundt Cake, though I wasn't really sure what to expect. I chose a favorite, high quality root beer in hopes that it would add to the cake.

In the end, none of us could really taste the root beer, with or without knowing it was in the ingredients. But it was still a moist, deliciously decadent chocolate cake. You definitely need the ice cream to go with it, since there's something synergistic about the combination. So, whether or not you're a root beer aficionado, I think you should try this cake. Mm...I kind of wish I had some more right now.

Root Beer Bundt Cake (printable recipe)
Recipe courtesy of Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Copied with permission.
For the cake

  • 2 c root beer (do not use diet)
  • 1 c dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs

  • For the root beer fudge frosting
    • 2 oz. dark chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
    • 1/2 c unsalted butter
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/4 c root beer
    • 2/3 c dark unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 2 1/2 c powdered sugar
    • Cooking Directions

    • Preheat the over to 325 degrees. Generously spray the inside of a 10-inch bundt pan with nonstick spray.
    • In a small saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder, and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool.
    • In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together.
    • In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until just beaten, then whisk them into the cooled cocoa mixture until combined. Gently fold the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture. The batter will be slightly lumpy--do not overbeat.
    • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, until the cake tests done. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Gently loosen the sides of the cake from the pan and turn int out onto the rack.
    • To make the frosting, put all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until the frosting is shiny and smooth.
    • Use a spatula to spread the fudge frosting over the crown of the bundt in a thick layer. Let it set before serving, with vanilla ice cream, of course.

    Sunday, September 1, 2013

    Mocha Fudgesicles

    Your lives probably haven't been inculcated with The Simpsons like mine has. I'm not just talking about watching the show (the golden years anyway), though that is a part of it. I'm talking about Simpsons quotes flying all over the place whenever your family gets together, about playing Simpsons Themed games and reading Simpsons themed books. About marking the mood/tenor/hilarity/tragedy of a situation with the quote perfectly befitting the occasion. Does that seem insane to you?

    Then you might not have fun eating dinner with my family.

    Once, in college, my friend's sister's boyfriend's roommate had heard of my epic Simpsons knowledge (yeah, it was pretty renowned) and challenged me to a trivia contest. Guess who won?

    I trounced him. It wasn't even close. I was almost embarrassed for him.


    So it stands to reason that any mention of fudgesicles is accompanied by a Simpsons reference. In fact, I can't think about fudgesicles without quoting this line, from Millhouse to Bart:

    "You said there'd be fudgicles, Bart. Where's the fudgicles?"

    "First of all, it's 'fudge-Sicle.'" 

    So I bring you these fudgesicles, which have only been called fudgicles in my household. They are smooth and pudding-y, enjoyed by children and adults alike. The Mosher version of the recipe simply involves omitting the espresso powder. For the purposes of the blog, I made a regular batch and a Mosher batch. I know I didn't have to--who's going to call me on it?--but . . . confession: I am a Mormon who loves the smell/flavor/idea of coffee. How's that for flirting with the enemy, eh?

    But despite my dark little secret, I think I liked these better without the espresso powder. The coffee flavor seemed to overpower the cocoa, in my opinion. If I were to make them mocha again, I'll probably halve the espresso powder. 

    The base fudgicle, though--definitely worth repeating.

    Mocha Fudgesicles (printable recipe)

    Recipe courtesy of Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Copied with permission.

    • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
    • 1/2 c sugar
    • 2 Tbsp dark unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 Tbsp instant espresso powder*
    • 2 Tbsp flour
    • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
    • 1 large egg
    • 1/4 c heavy cream
    • 2 3/4 c whole milk
    Cooking Directions
    1. Put the butter in a large heatproof bowl and set aside.
    2. In a large saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, instant espresso powder, flour, and cornstarch. Add the egg and cream and whisk until combined.
    3. Place the saucepan over medium heat and slowly pour in the milk, whisking constantly. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. After the mixture boils, continue to cook, whisking, for another 2 minutes.
    4. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the butter. Whisk vigorously for 1 minute to cool slightly. Let the mixture cool for 15 minutes, whisk vigorously for 1 minute, then pour into ice pop molds. Freeze until hard, about 6 hours. Release the pops from the mold by quickly running hot water along the plastic surface of the mold (be sure not to let the water touch the pops), then pull the pops out of the mold.
    *Espresso powder can be omitted.

    Monday, August 12, 2013

    Banana Pecan Piloncillo Ice Cream

    Hey, remember me?

    Sorry for the long hiatus. I lost some steam on this project because some things in my personal life had the AUDACITY to take priority. The nerve.

    But I'm back, and I'm excited to get back to the yummies.

    In my nerdiness, I created a spreadsheet of all the recipes so I could track when I made what, to ensure that I make recipes from the different categories with a fairly even distribution. I also categorized which recipes would be good for which season/holiday. This is the first of my "summer" category, and I am woefully behind. I'm hoping there's enough summery Oklahoma weather left for me to whip them all out in time.

    Now, have you ever heard of piloncillo? I hadn't. It is an "unrefined Mexican cane sugar that gives this ice cream a slightly musky molasses flavor." Also, it is a really hard word to type: Pilncio. Pilloicniil. Pilonciil. Try it; you'll see.

    You can find piloncillo in Latin American markets. I found mine in an Asian market, actually. And I bet if your area has a sizable Latin population, you can probably even find it in the regular grocery store. I you can't, you can substitute dark brown sugar or muscovado sugar (whatever that is), but the cookbook authors discourage the substitution. It comes in a little cone:
    The ice cream wasn't quite what I expected, but it was very tasty. You'll notice that the recipe calls for a pretty small amount of cream, so it's not the creamiest ice cream, but it's cold, flavorful, and yummy, which is really all you need. 

    Banana Pecan Piloncillo Ice Cream (printable recipe)
    Recipe courtesy of Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Copied with permission.

    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 3/4 c firmly packed, grated piloncillo
    • 8 very ripe bananas, peeled, wrapped in aluminum foil, and frozen
    • 1/2 c heavy cream
    • 1/2 c finely chopped toasted pecans
    Cooking Directions
    1. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water and the cinnamon stick and simmer until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the piloncillo and stir until it is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
    2. Unwrap the frozen bananas, chop them coarsely, and set them aside.
    3. Remove the cinnamon stick from the syrup and pour the syrup into a blender. Add the cream and bananas and blend until smooth and mushy.
    4. Pour into an ice cream machine and freeze, following the manufacturer's directions. Add the pecans to the ice cream a few minutes before the cycle is finished, or consult the manufacturer's direction about additions. Since the mixture is partially frozen, it will not take long to freeze--about ten minutes.

    Tuesday, June 18, 2013

    Orange Almond Blueberry Muffins

    aaaaaaaaaaaaaand . . . giveaway results!

    I know you all have just been waiting and waiting with bated breath. Bated! Not only to find out if you won, but also to see the unveiling of the LDS modification name winner!

    There were four entrants into the giveaway (though I seriously debated including my sister since she only responded "they are both lame"), so I entered number one through four into, so I promise the results are random.

    And without further ado, the winner is . . .


    Hooray! As soon as the USPS can manage it, you will be the proud owner of this:

    You'll have to let me know how they are, and I'll post your review. You can be my ace correspondent!
    And if any of you are tempted to go out and get your own Baked Boxed Brookster Mix, here's a little tip:
    Williams-Sonoma (the only place these mixes are sold) also carries an official Brookster pan, but DON'T GO FOR IT! Two separate Williams-Sonoma employees independently advised me to make these brooksters in mini muffin pans (and adjusting the baking time accordingly) because they are so decadent and rich. The official Brookster pan will make these babies FOUR inches in diameter! That's huge! Way bigger than even a regular muffin pan, which is what the box tells you to use.
    Also, note that the cookie dough needs to be refrigerated for at least an hour before you bake it. Just so you know.

    I'm so excited for you, and I know you'll put these to good use (and know that eating them all on your own totally counts as "good use"). I hope they're delicious.

    And as for the LDS-adjusted recipes, the winner is . . .


    Not to be confused with mosher, one who moshes. Heehee. I thought that was hilarious. 

    I have to admit that, at first, I wasn't too enthusiastic about Mo-sher. I was a little worried about hijacking another religion's word.


    As I thought about it, I realized that it's not like I'm making fun of their beliefs. If anything, even though LDS/Mormon and Jewish dietary guidelines are completely different, I think there is some camaraderie in living and eating in a way that varies from the cultural norm. Maybe. I can't speak for them, obviously. Plus, "kosher" is sort of in the American vernacular anyway as a synonym for appropriate. Also, very few people read this blog*. So. Yeah. I think we're good.

    Stay tuned for more Mo-sher recipes coming your way!

    But first: Orange Almond Blueberry Muffins.
    These were a nice, fresh, morning muffin. I sort of felt like I'd like a little more sugar in them, but the people I shared them with thought they were just right, and I trust their opinions.
    And, in case you were wondering, yes, I was supposed to put the sliced almonds on top before baking them but forgot, so I stuck them on afterward. Shhhh. Don't tell anyone.

    Orange Almond Blueberry Muffins (printable recipe)

    Recipe courtesy of Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Copied with permission.
    • Grated zest of 1 orange
    • 1/2 c fresh orange juice
    • 1/2 c whole milk
    • 2 large egg whites
    • 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
    • 1/4 c sliced, blanched almonds, finely ground
    • 2 c flour
    • 3/4 c sugar
    • 1/4 c sliced almonds, toasted
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 3/4 c fresh blueberries
    • Handful of sliced almonds for decoration
    Cooking Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray or line a 12-cup muffin pan.
    2. In a medium bowl, combine the orange zest, orange juice, milk, egg whites, and butter. Whisk until combined.
    3. In another medium bowl, combine the ground almonds, flour, sugar, toasted sliced almonds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well  in the middle of the dry ingredients. pour the wet ingredients into the well, and stir until just combined. Fold in the blueberries.
    4. Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 full, and arrange 3 or 4 sliced almonds on top of the batter in a floral decoration. Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes, or until the edges are brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Move the muffin pan to a wire rack, and let cool for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the muffins from the pan and let them finish cooling on the rack.
    5. The muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

    *And I am immensely grateful to you for being part of my loyal fan base.