Category Archives: Dessert

Better Than the Super Bowl Peanut Butter Torte

So, the Super Bowl happened a week or so ago. I can’t really remember because other than the blackout, that was about the most boring Super Bowl ever. Though, I guess I should complain because the new Beyonce photo-oops came out of it…and there was the Puppy Bowl with hedgehog cheerleaders. Did you read that? HEDGEHOG CHEERLEADERS! It was beyond adorable. Anyway, we went to a party for the “game”. I was told to bring cornbread and something that combined peanut butter and chocolate. I love these friends, cause they asked for the two types of food I love beyond all else. I guess I should start with the most impressive of the things I brought…Peanut Butter Torte.

Words cannot describe this joy, only guttural grunts of pleasure.

Words cannot describe this joy, only guttural grunts of pleasure.

This recipe was adapted from Annie’s Eats, more like almost directly from Annie’s Eats. I did not even change the directions; she just writes them so clearly! This woman is awesome and I suggest you give her site a visit; it is well worth it. The torte was awesome, obviously! It has a lovely creamy texture with a surprising crunch of peanuts and chocolate in it. I think the only thing I changed from the original recipe was that I used honey-roasted peanuts instead of salted peanuts. I have a big sweet tooth. The torte got rave reviews and was enjoyed by all!

Aaron took this one!!!

Aaron took this one!!!

Peanut Butter Torte
Adapted from Annie’s Eats


For the crust:
32 Oreo cookies, finely processed into crumbs
5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt

For the crunch:
½ cup honey-roasted peanuts, finely chopped
½ cup mini chocolate chips
2 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. espresso powder
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
Dash of ground nutmeg

For the filling:
2 cups heavy cream
1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1½ cups creamy peanut butter (not natural)
2 tbsp. whole milk
¼ cup honey-roasted peanuts, finely chopped

For the topping:
½ cup heavy cream
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup  honey-roasted peanuts, finely chopped


1. To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and place it on a baking sheet. Combine the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in a small bowl. Toss with a fork to moisten all of the crumbs. Press into a thin layer covering the bottom and sides of the springform pan. Freeze the crust for 10 minutes. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before filling.

2. To make the crunch, in another small bowl combine ½ cup of the chopped peanuts, mini chocolate chips, sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss with a fork to mix and set aside.

3. To prepare the filling, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in ¼ cup of confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Scrape the cream into a separate bowl and refrigerate until needed.

4. Wipe out (do not wash) the mixer bowl, replace the whisk with the paddle attachment, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, whole milk, and ¼ cup of the chopped peanuts until well combined.

5. Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about 1/4 of the whipped cream just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream. Scrape the mousse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.

6. To finish the torte, put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan. Bring the ½ cup of cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and, working with a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and smooth.

7. Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, at least 20 minutes. When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the springform pan. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Amaze everyone!

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Posted by on February 11, 2013 in Cake, Chocolate, Dessert, Peanut Butter


My Take on Take Five Bars

Not much could taste better than the combination of peanut butter, caramel, pretzels and chocolate. The Take Five Bar is literally the most perfect candy bar; it has everything that is wonderful and glorious in the world. So, I decided to translate the Take Five Bar into a cupcake. I know it has been done before, but I decided to make my own without looking at any other recipes. I would have loved to make these all for myself, but that is incredibly dangerous. I had been sitting on this for a few weeks when finally a couple friends of ours threw a house warming party! I finally had an excuse! Take Five Cupcakes Hooooooooooooo!



These turned out pretty well. I started with a Devil’s Food cupcake. Once they were baked and cooled I injected a salted caramel filling. I frosted them with a peanut butter cream cheese frosting upon which I then sprinkled crushed pretzels and then drizzled caramel over that. I think the only issue was that the pretzel bits soaked up moisture from the frosting and ended up tasting a bit stale. Next time I make these I might sprinkle the top with chocolate covered pretzels to avoid this same issue. Either way, these little buggers were ridiculously decadent and ridiculously tasty.

Take Five Cupcakes
A Cara Original

Devil’s Food Cupcakes
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes about 32 cupcakes

¾ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
¾  cup hot water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ¼  teaspoons coarse salt
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
2 ¼  cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 oz 60 or 70% cacao chocolate –I usually use Ghirardelli
1 ½  cup sour cream, room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cocoa and hot water until smooth.

2. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

3. Melt butter with sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat, and pour into a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat until mixture is cooled, 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla, then cocoa mixture, and beat until combined.

4. Melt the 4 oz of chocolate in a double boiler (place a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water) or in microwave – I prefer double boiler method because it reduces the chance of burning the chocolate

5. Add flour mixture in two batches of the butter-sugar-cocoa mixture, alternating with the sour cream, and beating until just combined after each.

6. Add in melted chocolate and stir until combined.

7. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

8. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 15 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.

Salted Caramel
From Brown Eyed Baker
Makes about 2 cups

2 cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon fleur de sel (or any other flaky sea salt)

1. Add the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a large, heavy saucepan. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking it as it begins to melt. You’ll see that the sugar will begin to form clumps, but that’s okay. Just keep whisking and as it continues to cook, they will melt back down. Stop whisking once all of the sugar has melted, and swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks.

2. Continue cooking until the sugar has reached a deep amber color. It should look almost a reddish-brown, and have a slight toasted aroma. This is the point where caramel can go from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds, so keep a close eye. If you are using an instant-read thermometer, cook the sugar until it reaches 350 degrees F.

3. As soon as the caramel reaches 350 degrees, add the butter all at once. Be careful, as the caramel will bubble up when the butter is added. Whisk the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted.

4. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour the cream into the caramel. Again, be careful because the mixture will once again bubble up ferociously. Whisk until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have a smooth sauce. If you find you have large clumps in the sauce, put back over low heat and whisk vigorously. Add the fleur de sel and whisk to incorporate.

5. Pour through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl.

6. Set the sauce aside to cool for 10 to 15 minutes and then pour into your favorite glass jar and let cool to room temperature. You can refrigerate the sauce for up to 2 weeks. You’ll want to warm the sauce up before using.

7. Once cool, put a long filling tip into a pastry bag, filly pastry bag with caramel and then inject each cooled cupcake with the caramel. Stop filling the cupcake when you see the top bulge out. Reserve left over caramel sauce for drizzling on top of the frosted cupcakes.

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Martha Stewart

18 ounces cream cheese
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ teaspoon salt
3 cup creamy peanut butter (not natural)
1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups heavy cream
2 cups (or so) crushed chocolate covered pretzels

1. Beat cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar with a mixer on medium speed. Add salt, then peanut butter, then vanilla.

2. Whisk cream until soft peaks form, and then fold into peanut butter mixture.

3. If using a stand mixer, put on the whisk attachment and whisk the frosting until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

4. Frost the cupcakes as you desire. Sprinkle crushed pretzels on top and then drizzle with remaining caramel sauce.

These cupcakes may cause an instant coronary or possibly a diabetic coma, but they are worth it.

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Posted by on December 13, 2012 in Cupcakes, Dessert


Pumpkin “Sage Student” (at least I hope) Cupcakes with Brown Sugar-Cream Cheese Frosting

I am writing this blog post as my students take their final exam. Literally, I am watching them all with their heads down, pens furiously writing and brows perpetually furrowed. This class has had a rough semester so I thought I would ease the pain for their final exam by making them cupcakes. I figured a cupcake with sage in it would give them wisdom…get it? Har har! Honestly, though I have found baking makes students far more receptive to both the teacher and to knowledge. It lightens the situation, earns the teacher some goodwill and perhaps, just perhaps they will learn more. I truly believe teachers, especially at the collegiate level, need to do it more often (class size permitting). I have had students tell me I am a legend among their friends because I brought the class some leftovers from my Compass Improv catering. They were doing me the favor by eating the leftovers and yet I somehow became the good teacher! But in the end, students just give me a wonderful excuse to bake.

Trio of Cupcakes

Look at those lovely vanilla bean seeds nestled in the frosting. Yum!


For this recipe I wanted some sort of Fall/Winter flavor without too much work. I have made these Pumpkin Sage cupcakes (and even a cake) before and they have always turned out flavorful and moist. They aren’t too sweet and even have a nice earthy flavor to them because of the sage. The typical recipe calls for fresh sage, which I normally always get but there seems to be a run on fresh sage in the grocery store – perhaps people are reattempting their failed sage-stuffing recipes from Thanksgiving in time for Christmas? So, this time I replaced the fresh sage with whole dried sage leaves and there seemed to be no difference in flavor or texture. DO NOT USE POWDER SAGE! In the end you get about 20 cupcakes. As for the frosting I tinkered a little bit by adding vanilla bean paste and some heavy whipping cream to lighten up the traditionally heavy base of a cream cheese frosting. I would recommend this for all cream cheese frostings to be honest. Makes things a bit more airy.

Anyway, here is another picture and the recipe. It is wonderful. Go try it

So pretty!

So pretty!

Pumpkin Sage Cupcakes with Brown Sugar-Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted fro Martha Stewart

Ingredients for Cupcakes
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
¼ cup fresh (or whole dried) sage leaves cut into chiffonade
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 can pumpkin puree
1 cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs

Directions for Cupcakes
1. Preheat oven to 325° and line a standard cupcake tin with wrappers.
2. In a saucepan over medium-low heat melt the butter. Once the butter has melted add the sage and cook until the butter turns golden brown. Take off the heat and allow to cool.
3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves into a bowl.
4. In a very large bowl combine the pumpkin pure, brown sugar and white sugar. Whisk until combined and then add the butter sage mixture. Whisk until incorporated. Beat in eggs one at a time.
5. Slowly whisk flour mixture into pumpkin mixture until just combined.
6. Evenly distribute batter among the cupcake tins.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a tester comes out clean
8. Make the Frosting

Ingredients for Brown Sugar-Cream Cheese Frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
16 oz cream cheese and room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Direction for Brown Sugar-Cream Cheese Frosting
1. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, cream cheese and brown sugar until smooth.
2. Add in vanilla bean paste and beat until distributed.
3. Beat in heavy whipping cream and continue to beat until the frosting become a bit more fluffy and airy…yes I know this is rather subjects.
4. Frost your cooled cupcakes as desired!

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Posted by on December 6, 2012 in Cupcakes, Dessert, Frosting


A Patriotic Lemon Meringue Pie

The weekend before Thanksgiving I threw/catered a party for a friend who wanted a surprise party for his husband. My friend gave me free reign over the menu with only two requests: it must be football/New England Patriots themed and there must be a lemon meringue pie. I went with football game day themed food. I had this whole wonderful menu laid out and executed. It consisted of pepperoni pizza pretzel bites, cheddar-bacon potato skins, buffalo chicken cups, smoked sausage with an apple-leek slaw and spicy dipping sauce, cheddar ale dip, 7-layer dip, Devil’s Food cupcakes with peanut butter cream cheese frosting and, or course, a lemon meringue pie. It was all delicious and wondering, but somehow I managed to only take a picture of the lemon meringue pie. Yes, I know, I am a terrible person and I am mad at my constant inability to photograph what I cook. So, lemon meringue pie is what you get this week, even though it is incredibly unseasonable.

The master piece!

The week and a half before the party I was recovering from a horrendous sinus infection. While I stayed in bed watching episode after episode of Grey's Anatomy, I hand made Patriots decorations

The week and a half before the party I was recovering from a horrendous sinus infection. While I stayed in bed watching episode after episode of Grey’s Anatomy, I hand made Patriots decorations

This is basically Martha Stewart’s recipe; however, I found that the piecrust recipe wasn’t enough, the lemon curd recipe wasn’t enough and even the meringue recipe wasn’t enough to fill a pie dish. I just decided everything needed to be doubled. Well to be honest, I forgot to double the crust recipe so that was too thin. I will not make that mistake again, and you get to learn from my foolishness. Anyway, the flavor of this pie is AMAZING! The birthday boy has said it is the best lemon meringue pie he has ever had, even better than anything he got back in Boston when he lived there. So, make it, make it now, and pretend it is actually summer and winter is not coming.

The fancy banner I made, and hey look, there are those cupcakes I mentioned!

The fancy banner I made, and hey look, there are those cupcakes I mentioned!

Another clearly necessary angle.

Another clearly necessary angle.

Lemon Meringue Pie
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Pie Crust
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling dough
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon sugar
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 tablespoons ice water, plus 4 more, if needed – I needed it

1. Add flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl and mix with a fork.
2. Add the butter (cut up in pieces) to the flour mixture and blend with a pastry knife until you have crumbs no larger than a pea. You can also blend this in a food processor, but I like doing it by hand.
3. Add 4 tablespoons of water and mix together with a fork and then your hands until the dough comes together in a nice ball. You may have to add up to 4 tablespoons more for though dough to come together.
4. On a lightly floured surface roll dough out into a ¾ inch thick circle.
5. Carefully place rolled out dough in a 9 or 9 ½ inch pie dish gently pressing it into the dish. Trim off excess dough and make a nice crimp along the edge.
6. Chill in the fridge for about an hour.
7. Preheat oven to 350.
8. Take piecrust out of fridge, lay a sheet of parchment paper on top of it and place either pie weights or lots of dried beans on that. This is to weight the crust down while cooking to keep it from puffing up in the oven.
9. Bake for 45 minutes, remove parchment and pie weights or beans and then allow to cool completely.

Lemon Curd
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 1/3 cups fresh lemon juice
16 large egg yolks (reserve egg whites for the meringue!)
½ teaspoon coarse salt
2 cups water
½ cup cornstarch
2 ½ sticks unsalted butter (20 tablespoons), cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1. In a large saucepan, off heat, whisk together sugar, zest, and egg yolks; whisk in lemon juice and salt.
2. Whisk together 1 cup cold water and 1/4 cup cornstarch add to lemon mixture along with butter and place pan over medium-high. Cook, whisking constantly, until butter has melted, mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, and small bubbles form around the edge of pan, about 5 minutes (do not boil).
3. Remove pan from heat while continuing to whisk. Pour curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a glass bowl.
4. Pour immediately into cooled piecrust
5. Put in pie or cake carrier and place in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.

The Meringue Part
16 egg whites – leftover from making your curd!
1 1/3 cups sugar
½ teaspoon coarse salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl or in the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine egg whites, sugar and salt.
3. Using an electric hand or stand mixer, beat on medium-high until stiff peaks form.
4. Pile meringue on pie, making sure it touches the crust all around.
5. Bake until meringue begins to brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

Just look at those peaks!

Just look at those peaks!

And…VOILA…you are done. And if I do say so myself, my pie is prettier than the one on Martha’s website!

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Posted by on November 27, 2012 in Dessert, Pies


Compass Cooking Part I: Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Orange-Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

Recently, I successfully pulled off my first large guest event. I have a hard timing bringing myself to call it a catering job because that sounds like it is my job, like I am a professional and like I knew what I was doing the whole time. Nothing could be further from the truth. When it was all said and done I provided food for about 200 people over 4 nights at several different venues for the Compass Improv Festival performers. It went more smoothly than I could have ever expected. Amazingly, I was not stressed while doing this and the cooking and baking all went off without a hitch. The only tragedy was breaking one of my small vintage Pyrex bowls. No worries, it has already been replaced!

Aaron and I behind the spread at the first night. The turkey pepperoni pizza pinwheels were probably the biggest hit. I stood there and watched one performer eat 3 in quick succession.

When asked if I would be willing to volunteer my time to make food for the performers during this Festival, I didn’t hesitate to say yes! I of course did not bother to think about all the time and effort it would take to pull this off in my small kitchen all by myself. Why would I ever think of that before agreeing? I had about a month to plan it all out, but to be honest I had no idea it would work until it did. I decided on a fairly simple menu that could be easily replicated each night during this four night Festival. I didn’t know the dietary preferences of any of the performers ahead of time, so I had to make it an accessible spread. I went with turkey pepperoni pizza pinwheels, basil pesto pinwheels, homemade Chex mix, caramelized onion dip with fresh veggies and crackers, buttermilk-vanilla bean mini-cupcakes with dark chocolate frosting and Devil’s food mini-cupcakes with orange-vanilla bean buttercream frosting. I will not go into detail about the calculation of ingredients and timing of cooking, though do feel free to ask if you are curious. However, I will show you a few fun pictures leading up to the cooking

I had to borrow 3 Kitchen Aid Mixers from 3 very generous friends to get the pinwheel dough and mini-cupcakes done in a timely fashion.

My army of Kitchen Aid Mixers

These are just the ingredients to make the cupcakes. I kind of wish I had stacked in the onions for the dip, fillings for the pinwheels, and endless boxes of cereal for the Chex mix. Oh well, next time…

Soooooo much butter!!!!!

All of the baked mini-cupcakes lined up, waiting for frosting.

At the time, the lines of cupcakes seemed never ending.

The recipe I share with you today is one that you already half know. I used my Devil’s Food cupcake recipe. You can find it here. I will note, that one batch of this batter makes 24ish normal sized cupcakes and 96 mini cupcakes. I kind of thought it would only make 48 mini cupcakes – I was WAY off. This just meant I had lots of extras with which to delight my boyfriend and students. One final note on the cupcakes: reduce cook time to 10-12 minutes if using a mini cupcake pan.

Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Orange-Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

Orange-Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting
I came up with this frosting recipe by adding to my base buttercream. It tasted like a creamsicle! It was unreal and complimented the Devil’s Food to a “T”!
Adapted from Martha Stewart

6 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 pounds (5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon Vanilla Bean Paste
1-2 teaspoons Pure Orange Extract – adjust this to taste, I prefer a stronger orange flavor

1.  Place whites and sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers, I test it by putting a small drop of the mixture between my fingers. If it is still gritty, it needs to stay on the heat longer, if it is perfectly smooth then move on.
2. Remove from heat, and whisk on high speed until mixture is cool and stiff peaks form, about 6-10 minutes. It is very important that stiff peaks form otherwise your frosting will fall apart. If butter starts to clot, put over heat a little bit until it goes back into solution.
3. Beat in vanilla bean paste and pure orange extract.
4. If you like, add in food coloring at this time
5. Decorate the cupcakes with this frosting as you choose

Next time, I shall regale you with Pinwheel tales!


Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Cupcakes, Dessert, Frosting


CULINARY BLOWTORCH…and S’more Cupcakes

For my birthday Aaron got me something I have been wanting since February; something that is super awesome and also something that makes me feel super pretentious. He got me a culinary blowtorch. Why would I want such a rarely used kitchen utensil (at least rarely used in my kitchen)?  More importantly, why would Aaron be so willing to get it for me?

My de”light”ful new kitchen toy!

We had a massive Oscars party in February. I made a dish themed to match each of the best-nominated films. One of these were lemon meringue cupcakes. These cupcakes had a seven-minute frosting that needed to be lightly browned to get that meringue effect. At that time all I had were a couple of lighters to produce this browning effect. I was busy making 8 other dishes for this party, so Aaron got stuck taking the lighter to 42 lemon meringue cupcakes! Each cupcake took at least 2 minutes to properly brown. His hands ached for weeks. I think he was planning on getting me a culinary blowtorch from that moment on before I even mentioned it.

The infamous Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

So, the other night I decided to bust out that birthday blowtorch and use it for the first time! Woof! Does it ever make browning something SUPER easy. But this post is not solely about my blowtorch, only about 85% of it is. I made S’more Cupcakes! No clue why, but I have wanted to try one of the ba-jillion s’more recipes I have come across recently. I decided to go with one from Annie’s Eats. She always has lovely recipes and they are presented beautifully. She sells her food well! I followed her concept, but completely changed the cupcake part of the recipe. Her recipe called for oil based cupcakes and I try to steer away from that, so I swapped that portion out and used one I heavily adapted from Martha Stewart. But the general scheme is the same and is as follows: graham cracker crust bottom → sprinkled chocolate → chocolate cupcake → seven minute frosting (which is very marshmallowy) → browning the frosting for that fire toasted effect.

These little buggers are just delightful! They really do have a s’more flavor. They even leave toasted marshmallow carnage all over your face just like real s’mores! Might make a fun 4th of July dessert!

Finally, S’more Cupcakes. Sorry for the crappy picture.

S’more Cupcakes
Idea from Annie’s Eats
Cupcake Recipe heavily adapted from Martha Stewart.

Graham Cracker Crust
1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup sugar
5 1/3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Chocolate Cupcake
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3¼ cup + 2 tablespoons hot water
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoons coarse salt
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter (12 tablespoons)
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
4 oz 60% cocoa chocolate melted
¾ cup high quality chocolate syrup

Seven Minute Frosting
8 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
½ tsp. cream of tartar
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.

2. For Graham Cracker Crust: In a small mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter; mix well with a fork. Drop about 1 tablespoon of the graham cracker mixture in the bottom of each cupcake liner and press down to line the bottom. I used a small drinking glass to compact it down.

3. Sprinkle a small amount of the chopped chocolate on top of the graham cracker crusts. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, and maintain the oven temperature.

4. For Cake Batter: Whisk together cocoa and hot water until smooth. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

5. Melt butter with sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat, and pour into a mixing bowl.

6. With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat until mixture is cooled, 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla, then cocoa mixture, and beat until combined.

7. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, and beating until just combined after each.

8. Stir in melted chocolate and chocolate syrup.

9. Divide batter evenly in the graham cracker crust filled cupcake lines. Bake for 20 minutes.

10. Once cupcakes are cooled, begin the frosting.

11. For the Frosting: combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in the top of a double boiler. (Note: I just set my clean, dry mixer bowl over simmering water, to avoid dirtying two bowls.) Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it reaches 160° F with an instant-read thermometer. Or, if like me you do not have an instant-read thermometer put a dab of the mixture between your fingers. If the mixture is smooth (you do not feel any grains of sugar) you are ready to move on to the next step.

12. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk starting at low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form. Mix in the vanilla until combined.

13. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

14. Brown using…CULINARY BLOWTORCH!!!!!

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Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Chocolate, Cupcakes, Dessert, Frosting


Pear, Pistachio and Ginger Blondies

Hello, strangers! Well, I guess I am the stranger. I could give you a list of excuses for my absence, but that would be long, boring and tedious for us all; though if you are curious please feel free to ask. So, how about I just tell you this wonderful recipe with a unique blend of flavors – Pear, pistachio and ginger blondies from our friend Martha Stewart. These blondies are just lovely. The pear provides a subtle sweetness and the ginger a bit of tang and spice. The pistachios add their fun flavor as well as an expensive crunch (the cost of pistachios is a damn crime!).


The first thing to know about this recipe is that it contains dried pears, which are ridiculously hard to find. I was able to get some from Whole Foods, but that is not always a guarantee. I have made this recipe with dried apples before and though the flavor is different it is still good. Second, candied ginger also is not easy to find either. This blondie is not this blondie without the candied ginger. I have seen it available at both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s though sometimes seasonal. I have replaced the candied ginger with ginger candies (not the same thing) and it still gets the same ginger punch, but the texture of the candy is chewy and a little tough in the blondie. So, make the effort to find the right stuff or hold off making these until you can. Third, this recipe only makes a small amount, one 9in round cake pan or a 9x9in square pan. If making this for a party you may be tempted to double the recipe. You can do this but I would HIGHLY recommend baking two separate batches. I have doubled this recipe and baked it in a 9x13in pan and extended the cooking time until the center came out clean. It still tasted amazing, but the problem is that the edges will burn before the center of the blondie is cooked through. If you experiment with doubling the recipe, please let me know what bake temperature and time worked for you. Being able to double it without cooking two batches separately would be much more convenient.

I have made these blondies many times now, and they never cease to amaze and delight everyone who tastes them. So, please, make them and spread the joy!

Pear, Pistachio and Ginger Blondies
Adapted from Martha Stewart

9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped dried, reconstituted (see step #1) pears reconstituted
3/4 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup coarsely chopped candied ginger

1. Place the dried pears in a bowl and cover with water. Microwave the pears for 2 minutes. Let the pears sit in the bowl for at least 15 minutes. This softens up the pears – reconstituting them. They should have a soft, squishy almost spongy texture when they are ready. If you do not reconstitute them, the dried pears will suck the moisture out of the blondie giving you a dry desert like dessert.

2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan or a round cake pan. Line with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches to hang over sides. Butter parchment; set aside.

3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; mix until combined. Reduce speed to low; mix in flour mixture until combined. Mix in pears, pistachios, and candied ginger.

4. Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth top. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean. Check after 45 minutes but may take as long as 50 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack 15 minutes. Lift blondie out of pan; transfer to a wire rack. Let cool completely; cut into wedges.