Friday, September 30, 2011

Lemon Coconut Cupcakes

About two weeks ago Nikki, my oldest girl, decided she wanted to learn how to cook. She really didn't like it when I was sick, because there was no unlimited supply of baked goodies. I just love the way a child's mind sometimes works.... But despite that it made me very proud when she announced she wanted to learn to cook. It isn't always easy to cook with kids, but from time to time I give it a try.

I asked her what she wanted to make and as she looooves lemons she wanted to make lemon cupcakes. Okay, no problem there. That is simple enough. But then she said she wanted lemon coconut cupcakes. And now I was facing a problem. I had never made lemon coconut cupcakes. I didn't even know if it was a known combination. I really didn't want to disappoint her so we searched for a recipe. Obviously we found one, because otherwise I wouldn't be writing about it.

We had a lot of fun. I let her do all the work (except putting the cupcakes in the oven and taking them out again). And she did a fantastic job. Of course the project took about three times as long to finish but that didn't bother me one bit. She had fun and hopefully she will continue having fun in the kitchen. I hope she will come to love it as much as I do!

The batter for these cupcakes is a little strange because of the coconut milk, but the end result is great. You can taste both the coconut and the lemon, but they are both not overwhelming.


Lemon Coconut Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes


For the cupcakes:
1 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup butter
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup shredded coconut

For the frosting:
1 stick butter
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 3/4 - 2 cups confectioners' sugar


Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F). Line a muffin tray with paper cups.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Add the coconut and set aside.

In a small bowl zest the lemon.

Add the sugar and rub with your fingers so the sugar and zest are well mixed. Set aside.

Beat the butter in a large bowl until creamy.

Add the sugar and beat for 2 minutes.

Add the egg and beat for 3 minutes.

In four additions add the coconut milk and flour mixture until everything is mixed well.

Divide the batter into the paper cups. Bake for 18-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the cupcakes completely cool on a rack before frosting.

For the frosting cream the butter in a large bowl of a stand mixer.

Slowly add the confectioners' sugar (the amount depending on how sweet you want it).

Add the lemon juice to taste. Beat on high speed until fluffy and smooth.

Frost the cupcakes by simply spreading it on top or by piping it.

Top of with a little extra shredded coconut.

Source: adapted from Good Life Eats

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Devil's Food Cake with Chocolate-Orange Buttercream

For my mother's birthday I had planned to bake this cake, unfortunately I wasn't feeling good enough, so I had to let it go. But by that time the cake had managed to wriggle into my head and under my skin. I couldn't let go of it. I had so looked forward to making it. So I asked my self: Why not just make it? I mean... do you really need a special occasion to make a cake? Well, it is usually better to have a good reason, because otherwise I'd be baking cakes like this all the time and I'm pretty sure my hips would not agree with that.

But because I had been looking forward to this cake for a while I decided to just bake it and let the pounds fall where they may.... And I have to tell you... I'm glad I did. This is one good cake. Moist, fluffy, flavorful and chocolatey. Just the way I like it! And the frosting... oh my god that frosting is sooooooooo good. I had a hard time trying to restrain myself and not just eat the whole bowl up! That really would have added a lot of pounds!

Though the flavor of the frosting is quite orangy it isn't overwhelming and you can still taste the cake. It really is a great combination!

The recipe called for two 9-inch cake pans, which I didn't have. I used two 8-inch spring pans and had to add quite bit more baking time, but I actually think it turned out better. It made for a beautiful high layered cake which looks very impressive but is really not that hard to put together.

So if you have a special occasion coming up (or not) or just want to score points with a chocolate-lover, this cake will do the trick!


Devil's Food Cake with Chocolate-Orange Buttercream


For the cake:
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 1/2 stick butter, room temperature
4 large eggs

For the frosting:
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
7 tablespoons water (or more)
3 sticks butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar
zest of 1 orange
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt


Preheat the oven to 170˚C (325˚F).

Butter and flour the sides two 8-inch spring pans. Cover the bottom with parchment paper.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler until smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool to barely lukewarm.

Over a medium bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

In a small bowl whisk together the milk and yogurt.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment beat together the sugar and butter until smooth.

Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time.

Mix in the melted chocolate until smooth.

Mix in the dry ingredients alternately with the milk mixture, in 3 additions each.

Divide the batter between the two pans.

Bake the cakes for 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (If you're using 9-inch pans, bake for 30 minutes.)

Let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto racks. Remove the parchment paper from the bottom and let the cakes cool completely.

To make the frosting, melt the chocolate in a double boiler until smooth. Let cool to barely lukewarm, but still pourable.

In a small saucepan mix together the cocoa powder and water. Stir over medium-low heat until smooth and thick but still pourable. If necessary add more water by teaspoonsful. Let cool.

Beat together the butter, 1/3 cup of confectioners' sugar and the orange zest.

Add the melted chocolate, vanilla and salt and beat again until smooth.

Beat in the cocoa mixture.

Gradually add the remaining 1 2/3 cups of confectioners' sugar and beat until the frosting is smooth.

Cover the sides of your platter with 4 strips of parchment paper.

Place 1 layer of the cake on top of the platter and spread a thick layer of frosting on top of the cake.

Carefully place the second cake on top.

Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake, making swirls as you go.

Remove the strips of parchment paper and serve the cake at room temperature.

Source: slightly adapted from Bon Appetit

Monday, September 26, 2011

Soft Garlic Knots

In my last post I mentioned I caught a cold. While writing that post I was positive it was over.... It was not. The day after that post it came back with a vengeance. These last two weeks I have been completely floored by a very nasty sinus infection. It took a while for the antibiotics to kick in, but fortunately they did.

I'm still not feeling up to par, but I've been so bored I just had to do something...anything.... and so I ended up with something that looks complicated but was actually extremely simple to whip up. Soft Garlic Knots.These are great with a big bowl of soup or a nice stew, which is what I'm currently craving at the start of fall!

The dough is a bit sticky, but it helps to have a free hand with flour when tying these up. Don't be scared, it was really easy to make the knots.


Soft Garlic Knots

Yield: 10 rolls


For the dough:
3 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup milk
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm water

For the glaze:
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning


In a standmixer with the paddle attachment combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt.

Add the olive oil, milk and water and mix until the ingredients form a dough.

Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for about 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. It will be a little sticky, but shouldn't be too sticky. If necessary add one tablespoon of flour a time and knead for a short time.

Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for 1 hour until the dough has doubled in bulk.

Divide the dough in 10 pieces. Roll each piece into a 10-inch long roll and tie the dough in a knot.

Take the end lying underneath the knot and tuck it in the center on top. Take the other end and tuck it in the center on the bottom.

Transfer the rolls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Cover the rolls with a clean kitchen towel let rise for 45 minutes.

Make the glaze by chopping the garlic very finely or putting it through a garlic press.

Mix the garlic with the melted butter and the seasoning.

Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F).

Brush the glaze on the rolls. Bake until slightly browned, about 15-18 minutes.

Serve warm.

Source: Annie's Eats

Monday, September 12, 2011

Snickery Squares

Fall has only just started and already I have caught my first cold of the season. Great. So these past few days have mostly been spent resting. Luckily I'm already starting to feel much better. The fever is gone and I can breath much easier!

When I'm feeling sick I love eating some comfort food and comfort food for me is not chicken soup, but something with chocolate! I found a nice recipe that didn't require me to do too much work and which filled all my needs! You can easily cut this recipe into three parts, making it seem as if you barely have to do anything at all! I just love that in a recipe!


Snickery Squares

Yield: 16 squares


For the crust:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, cold, in small pieces
1 large egg yolk

For the filling:
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 cup salted peanuts
3/4 - 1 cup dulce de leche

For the topping:
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 stick butter, room temperature, in 8 pieces


Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F). Butter an 8-inch square pan and put it on a baking sheet.

Start with making the crust. In a food processor combine the flour, sugar, confectioners' sugar and salt. Add the pieces of butter and pulse until it resembles coarse meal.

Pour the egg yolk over the ingredients and pulse until the dough forms clumps and curds. Stop before the dough comes together in a ball.

Turn the dough into the buttered pan and gently press it evenly across the bottom of the pan.

With a fork prick the dough all over.

Slide the pan with the sheet into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until it takes on just a little color around the edges.

Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool to room temperature before filling.

To make the filling line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Put the sugar and water in a thick-bottomed saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.

Keep the heat fairly high and continue to cook until it just starts to color.

Add the peanuts and, with a long spoon, immediately start stirring to coat the peanuts.

The peanuts will turn white. Keep stirring until the sugar turns back into caramel and the nuts are coated with a nice deep amber caramel.

Remove the pan from the heat and spread the nuts out onto the prepared baking sheet. Let cool to room temperature.

When the nuts are cool enough break them into pieces, making the nuts as loose as possible.

Stir 3/4 of the peanuts into the dulce de leche and spread this mixture over the crust.

Chop the rest of the peanuts finely.

To make the topping melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.

Remove the chocolate from the heat and gently stir in the butter, until the butter is completely blended into the chocolate.

Pour the chocolate over the dulce de leche. Smooth the top and sprinkle the finely chopped peanuts over it.

Put the pan into a refrigerator for 20 minutes. If you'd like to serve them cool, keep them refrigerated for at least 3 hours.

Cut into 16 squares.

Source: Slightly adapted from Baking, from my home to yours, by Dorie Greenspan

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Plum Torte

The season for stone fruits is almost over, but luckily there are still plenty of plums. I stumbled on some fantastic plums. They were juice and sweet, with just a hint of tartness. Just the way I like them. After eating a bunch I still had a lot leftover and I wanted to put them to good use. And so I set out to find a good recipe for something nice.

I found a recipe of Amanda Hesser's Purple Plum Torte. It sounded very easy and delicious so I set to work. And it turned out amazing. Yes, the plums sunk to the bottom, but that was supposed to happen this time! It looks like a very dense cake, but it isn't. It is light, slightly sweet and the plums are fruity and soft with still that slight tartness in them. Lovely.

I took the cake over to my parents-in-law and it was almost gone when I left. It didn't last long. Apparently this cake freezes very well, but I have yet to try that out. It is, however, extremely simple to make, so that alone is reason enough to give this recipe a try!


Plum Torte

Yield:  1 9-inch torte


1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
A large pinch of salt
1 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
1 stick of butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
10-12 plums, halved and pitted (enough to fit in the pan)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F).

In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a mixer beat together the sugar and butter until creamy and light in color.

Beat in the dry ingredients and then the eggs.

Scrape the batter into an ungreased 9-inch springform pan.

Cover the top of the batter with the plums, skin side up.

Sprinkle the top of the batter and plums with the remaining tablespoon of sugar, the lemonjuice and the cinnamon.

Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes, until the cake is golden.

Let the cake cool on a rack, then unmold.

Source: slightly adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook, Amanda Hesser

Friday, September 2, 2011

Raisin Cinnamon Swirl Bread

I have seen different versions of this bread circulate the internet and every time I came across one it made me mouthwater. It looks so good. So I finally decided to give it a try. I remembered I had a recipe in Baking, from my home to yours and since that book has yet to let me down I thought it a good recipe to start with. It is not a complicated recipe, but it is time-consuming, so I suggest making this on a lazy day. The reason it is time-consuming is of course the yeast-based dough. It needs to rise a couple of times.

But if you have a lazy day coming up, be sure to make this bread, because it is good. It is soft and sweet and absolutely delicious. It makes your home smell like a bakery. The minute it was cooled down enough we devoured about half of it.

Don't let the recipe scare you. If I can make this bread succesfully on the first try, anybody can!


Yield: 1 loaf


For the bread:
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast
1/4 cup + a pinch sugar
1 1/4 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
1/2 stick butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch grated nutmeg
3 3/4 to 4 cups flour

For the swirl:
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup raisins
3 tablespoons butter, softened to a spreadable consistency


Put the yeast in a small bowl, add the pinch of sugar and stir in 1/4 cup milk. Let rest for 3 minutes, then stir.

In a standmixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the remaining milk, the butter and the 1/4 cup of sugar and mix on low speed for two minutes.

Add the salt, egg, vanilla and nutmeg and mix again for one minute.

Add the yeast mixture and beat on medium-low speed for one minute.

Turn the mixer off and add 2 3/4 cup of the flour. Mix on low speed just until the flour is worked into the mixture. Switch to the dough hook. Don't worry. It's supposed to be sticky!

Add another cup of flour and mix on medium speed for a couple of minutes. If the dough does not come together and away from the sides of the bowl, add up to 1/4 cup of flour more, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Keep the mixer at medium and continue to knead the dough for 3 minutes, until it is smooth and has a buttery sheen. The dough will be very soft.

Butter a large bowl and put the dough into the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours.

Put the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, wrap it and put it into the freezer for 30 minutes.

Butter a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.

Make sure the raisins are nice and moist. If necessary you can put them in hot water for a few minutes. Drain them and dry them on paper towels.

Put the dough on a large lightly floured surface. Lightly flour the top of the dough. Roll the dough into a rectangle of about 12x18-inches.

Spread two tablespoons of the softened butter on the surface of the dough.

Sprinkle over the sugar-mixture and scatter the raisins.

Starting from the short side of the dough, roll the dough up. Make sure to roll snugly.

Fit the dough into the buttered pan, seam down. Tuck the ends under the loaf.

Cover the pan loosely with wax paper and set in a warm place. Let rise for 45 minutes until the dough comes just a little above the edge of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 190˚C (375˚F).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and brush the top of the loaf with it.

Put the loaf pan on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes cover the loaf loosely with foil and bake for another 25 minutes until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when the bottom of the pan is tapped.

Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes.

Unmold the loaf and let the loaf cool, right side up, to room temperature on the rack.


Source: slightly adapted from Baking, from my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan