Friday, February 24, 2012

Dessert: Chocolate Pudding Pie

This pie is a chocolate pudding with a meringue top. It's very rich and very yummy. This is actually two recipes: the chocolate pie and the meringue topping. If you need meringue for another recipe, this is a good one to try. It was my first time making a meringue and it came out great, if I do say so myself.
Chocolate Pudding Pie


1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 oz. Bittersweet chocolate
1 c. sugar
3 Tbsp. Cornstarch
3 Tbsp. Baking cocoa
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
1/2 c milk
3 egg yolks, beaten
1tsp. Vanilla extract
1 baked (9”) pie shell

Foolproof Meringue* (see recipe)


  1. Melt butter and chocolate in a heavy saucepan. 
  2. Mix sugar, cornstarch and cocoa in a small bowl. Add to the melted butter and blend well. Measure the 2 cups total of milk (evaporated+homogenized) and stir into chocolate mixture. Stir a small amount of the mixture into the beaten egg yolks; stir egg yolks into mixture. Add vanilla. 
  3. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Pour into the pie shell. 
  4. Spread Foolproof Meringue over the filling, sealing to the edge. 
  5. Bake at 450º for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. 
  6. Chill, covered in the refrigerator.

Foolproof Meringue


6 Tbsp. Sugar
1 Tbsp. Cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1/2 Tbsp. Vanilla extract
3 egg whites
salt to taste


  1. Combine sugar, cornstarch and water in a small saucepan. 
  2. Cook for 5 minutes or until clear and thickened, stirring constantly. Cool slightly. 
  3. Add vanilla. Beat egg whites and salt in a mixing bowl until soft peaks form. Add syrup gradually, beating constantly until stiff peaks form.

Other details:

  • Serves 8 (but rich enough that could serve 16 no problem) 
  • Nutrition is for 8 servings

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dessert: Baker's One Bowl Brownies

I've been making these brownies for years. There are a few tips to making these brownies that make them be so good! These are always popular for sharing at kids schools (no nuts) or bringing to a potluck. I almost always double this recipe (from what is listed) and make it in a lined roasting pan usually used for turkeys.


4 squares unsweetened baking chocolate
3/4 cup butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
2 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted or powdered sugar (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Microwave unsweetened chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on high 2 min or until butter is melted.  Stir until chocolate is completely melted.  Stir in sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla; mix well.  Add flour and pecans; stir until well blended.  
  3. Spread into greased foil-lined 13x9” baking dish.  Bake at 350o for 30 to 35 min or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs.  Do not overbake.  Cool in pan.  
  4. Lift out of pan onto cutting board.
  5. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate in the microwave and drizzle over the brownies or sift powdered sugar over the brownies.
  6. Cut into desired squares.
Other Details:

  • Prep: 15 min  
  • Bake: 35 min
  • Serves 24.  
  • 165 Cal/ brownie (no nuts/no melted chocolate)
  • Tip: Line any dish you use with foil and use no stick spray to grease the foil. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Dessert: Red Velvet Cake

My husband and I made this cake for a friend's birthday one year. We worked together to make it. There are 3 parts to this recipe: the cake, the cream cheese frosting, and the ganache to seal the cake before frosting it.

Red Velvet Cake (a.k.a. Waldorf Astoria Cake)

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)
2 oz. red food coloring
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans or three 8-inch round cake pans.
  2. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. In a small bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa powder to form a thin paste without lumps; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa paste, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.
  4. Make sure you have cake pans buttered, floured, and nearby. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. Yes, it will fizz! Add it to the cake batter and stir well to combine. Working quickly, divide batter evenly between the cake pans and place them in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check early, cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. To remove the cakes from the pan, place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, then gently lift the pan. Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.
  6. (Seal with ganache - recipe below) 
  7. Frost with buttercream or cream cheese icing (recipe below).

Other details:

  • *Sift cake flour once before measuring, then sift again with the other dry ingredients per recipe instructions. Wear an apron and be careful with the red food coloring. As you’re mixing the cake batter, use a spatula to scrape down the bowl frequently throughout the entire process.

Ganache (to seal Red Velvet Cake or just because what doesn't go with ganache?)

8 ounces (227 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter
1 tablespoons cognac or brandy (optional)


  1. Ganache: Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized heatproof bowl. Set aside. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. (Can also heat the cream and butter in the microwave.) Bring just to a boil. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand, without stirring, for a few minutes. Stir gently (as you do not want to incorporate air into the ganache) with a spoon or whisk until smooth.
  2. If desired, add the liqueur.
  3. Makes enough ganache to cover one - 9 inch (23 cm) cake or torte.
  4. To Cover a Torte or Cake: If the cake you are covering needs to be refrigerated, first chill the cake. (This will ensure that the ganache will not lose its shine when the cake is stored in the refrigerator.)
  5. First, brush any loose crumbs from the cake. Using a cake spatula or knife, cover the sides and top of the cake with a thin layer of ganache. (This is called a crumb coat and seals in any cake crumbs so that your cake will have a smooth finish.) Refrigerate the cake for about 5 minutes or until the crumb coat has set. Then place the cake on a wire rack, and put the wire rack on top of a large baking sheet (to catch any excess ganache that drips from cake.) Then pour the ganache into the center of the cake. Working quickly, spread the ganache with a large metal spatula or knife, using big strokes to push the ganache over the sides of the cake. (This will create an even coating of ganache.) If there are any bare spots on the sides of the cake, cover with ganache. Let the ganache set before covering and storing the cake.
  6. Leftover ganache can be strained to remove any crumbs. 
  7. It can be used to make chocolate truffles. Cover and refrigerate the ganache until firm (several hours or overnight).Roll into small balls and then roll in cocoa powder, confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar or chopped nuts. You can use your hands to form the truffles, a melon baller or small spoon. Truffles can be refrigerated for a couple of weeks or else frozen for a couple of months.

Cream Cheese Frosting for Red Velvet Cake

16 oz. cream cheese (2 packages), softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
pinch of salt


  1. With an electric mixer, blend together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Turn mixer to low speed and blend in powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Turn mixer on high and beat until light and fluffy. 
  2. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. If refrigerated, the frosting will need to be brought to room temperature before using (after frosting softens up, beat with mixer until smooth).
Other details:
  • If you prefer a sweeter and/or stiffer frosting, more powdered sugar can be added (up to four cups). But remember, the more sugar you add, the less you’ll be able to taste the tangy cream cheese!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Scotch Oat Cake with Broiled Brown Sugar Topping

This recipe came from Jenni Muir's A Cook's Guide to Grains. This cake was a bit more bread-like, but still sweet dessert-y. The topping is really what makes it a dessert.


1 cup apple juice
1/2 cup Scotch oats or steel-cut oats or bulgur
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup brown sugar or raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts


  1. In a small saucepan, bring the apple juice to a boil, then add the oats or bulgur. Return to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and let cool, uncovered. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Oil a 9-inch springform pan at least 3 inches deep or a 9-inch square baking dish.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, brown sugar, and salt. In a medium bowl, stir the buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and oat mixture. Mix into the dry ingredients, stirring until well mixed. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  3. While the cake bakes, make the topping. In a small bowl, mix the melted butter, vanilla, brown sugar, salt, and walnuts. When the cake is done, place it on a cooling rack. Turn the oven to broil, and put a rack 4 to 5 inches from the heat. Drop spoonfuls of the brown sugar topping over the cake, spreading it gently and leaving 1/2 inch bare around the edges. Broil with the door open, watching closely, for less than a minute. When the topping is bubbling and melted, take it out to cool. Serve warm, after the topping has set.

Other details:

  • Serves 8