Last week I was invited to try out a Treat Cupcake Bar cupcake party with the Boston Brunchers. I was pleasantly surprised. I am not the biggest fan of the “Cupcake trend” that’s been pseudo-taking over recently. And Treat is not the most convenient of places to get to, but the party – was FUN. I loved being able to go and play with frostings and candies and fondant (note: I LOATHE fondant) with out having to make all of those ingredients myself. The party was very streamlined from decorating cupcake boxes, to decorating aprons, to decorating cupcakes everything lead into itself in a very smooth way. I thought Treat’s cupcakes were fine in flavor and texture but the experience was SO MUCH FUN. I would totally set this up as a kid’s party, with mini cupcakes though – the ones we left with were HUGE (and there were six of them!). You can learn more about Treat parties here.
This cupcake party was provided free of charge by Treat Cupcake Bar in exchange for this post. All opinions here are my own. I did receive six cupcakes but gave one to my cabbie on the way home, as a thanks.
I have a confession: I love rice krispy treats. I love them in an unabashed I will gorge myself silly on them if they are in the house kind of way. I love them in a “these are made with breakfast cereal so they totally count for breakfast” kind of way.
I’ve been making these little snacks for at least three years, every six months or so I get a hankering and cook up a batch. It takes ten minutes at the most and you get to have a super classy and delicious dessert/snack/breakfast at the end. I made these ones with my sister and she took all the pictures for me, I also made her some salted caramel sauce that same night so we got creative with the drizzling.
Now go grab the ingredients and make these. They’ll cost you less than $3 and they disappear within twenty four hours. I promise.
9 cups of rice cereal (generic Rice Krispies are totally fine)
1 bag of marshmallows (I use Jet-Puffed Mini Marchmallows becasue they melt better)
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 a vanilla bean (optional but it really does make it better)
1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
Lightly grease a 9×13 pan with butter, just to coat. Measure out the rice krispies into a large bowl.
Add the butter and the caviar from the vanilla bean (all those seeds inside when you split it) to a medium pot. Melt the butter over medium heat and keep a close eye on it. The butter will go from browned to burnt in about two seconds. Wanna Be a Country Cleaver has a great How To for browned butter over on her blog if you want some pictures and a step-by-step tutorial.
Add the marshmallows to the browned butter and stir to combine and melt. This will be a bit sticky and not all of the butter will blend with the marshmallows, that’s ok.
Pour the butter/marshmallow/vanilla bean mix over the cereal and stir quickly. The sugars in the marshmallows cool fairly quickly so being well prepared and stirring fast is key here.
Press the rice krispy treat mixture into your greased pan. I frequently use a piece of parchment to smooth out the top of my treats without getting my hands messy.
Sprinkle your coarse salt on top of the treats. The salt can be added to the cereal if you prefer but I always find that it falls to the bottom of the mixture when that happens.
Enjoy with a drizzle of caramel you made for your big sister, because she asked for it and you just couldn’t say no.
Right before Christmas my dear friend Jess celebrated her birthday and I refused to let it pass unacknowledged. So I took the day off, brought her out to a nice seafood dinner and never called her again, brought her out to brunch at the Deluxe Town Diner, shopping for treats, and finally home where I gave her my favorite cookbooks and told her to pick a treat. She chose an adult thumbprint cookie from Baking by Dorie Greenspan. It looked easy enough but then I realized I didn’t quite have the ingredients it called for but had a few other things that would work as substitutes and made it work. What came out were perfectly bite sized cookies with a lovely yielding texture and bright non-winter tropical flavors of coconut, mango, and passionfruit. Dorie Greenspan’s recipe called for hazelnuts, but I didn’t have any so I swapped in a combination of finely ground pepitas, pecans, and coconut – hers were also raspberry jam filled but Jess wanted something tropical and as all I had that could be considered tropical was coconut milk we went to the store and ended up getting this in Medley of Fruits. It made perfect curd (thanks Ina Garten!) and was just right in our thumbprints. There’s something truly indulgent about making cookies on a whim because it’s a friends birthday and it just feels right. These were a perfect birthday treat for Jess and I sent her home with most of the leftovers, knowing full well that I wasn’t going to finish them and she would be MUCH better served by having them at her home. My point? Go make these cookies for yourself, right now. It’s cold and snowy outside and, honestly, all you want is a little bite of the tropics to make you at least fantasize about warmer weather and longer days, AMIRITE? Tropical Thumbprint Cookies
The cookies are adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. The curd is straight from this recipe by Ina Garten but I substituted finely shredded unsweetened coconut (about 3 Tbs) for the lemon zest and fruit juice for the lemon juice (1/2 cup).
For the Cookies
1 3/4 cup Finely Ground Nuts (I used 1 cup of ground pepitas and pecans and 3/4 cup of finely shredded unsweetened coconut)
1 3/4 cup AP Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1 cup Unsalted Butter, softened
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Almond Extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Whisk the nuts, coconut, and flour together
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter and sugar together for 3-4 minutes on medium, until light and fluffy. Add the extracts and beat to blend them in, another minute.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour/nut combination. Mix the dough just until the flour is incorporated, about 2 minutes.
working in scant tablespoons create dough balls in your hands. Once the dough is shaped using your thumb (or the rounded handle of a utensil) press dimples into the cookies.
Bake the cookies for 15-18 mins, they will be a little bit browned and crispy, don’t worry about under baking these though as the lack of eggs makes the dough fine to eat on it’s own. Also, I enjoyed the tenderness the cookies had when they were a hair underdone.
Allow the cookies to cool completely after removing them from the oven.
Fill the dimples in the cookies with your homemade curd, or jam, or whatever thick, treacly thing you want to put there – but the curd went a LONG way.
Enjoy, with a cup of tea and a friend on her birthday.
I pretty much always have apples or pears in my kitchen, they come in my Boston Organics box almost weekly so there tend to be three or four kicking around at all times. But here’s the slightly annoying thing – I don’t eat much fruit, I’ll grab a piece occasionally, I even went through a fit of eating oranges for days this summer, but in general if I want a snack I will reach for a slice of cheese or a yogurt before i grab fresh fruit. I think part of it is that I just don’t like that first bite. I find it terribly unpleasant to bite into an apple or pear if it is the least bit chilled – I know this makes me an anomaly in the world of fresh fruit eating, but I’m an odd duck that way. So eating fresh apples or pears means a cutting board or at least a bowl and a paring knife. Because, in case you didn’t know, fruit is MESSY guys, juicy and sticky it gets everywhere unless you have a bowl to catch the juice in. But I digress.
So really, you must be wondering why I spend my hard earned money on fresh fruit if I’m not even eating it – I love to bake with it. I love the way really ripe fruit will soften and pool in a jammy bite in a cake or muffin. I am entranced by any apple-spice cake combination. And a baked good with apples or pears in it is ALWAYS a crowd pleaser, for whatever reason. SO I finally figured I would share this recipe with you all. This is a recipe I’ve been using since I first picked up Flour over a year ago – I make it once a month or so (seriously, I’m obsessed with this cake) sometimes I add berries or whatever fruit I have lying around. I tweak it, I mostly follow the recipe, I coddle it. It makes my apartment smell like heaven. And, mostly, it makes a great accompaniment to coffee at breakfast or for that mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
If you like my facebook page you will see this cake as my header there. That picture has been there for a while and I’ve had at least three readers ask for that recipe, this is it. The difference between this cake and that one – I overcooked this one a smidge, but it’s still delicious. I also think this cake would be improved by a little drizzle of your favorite caramel sauce, because, decadent. I really do love the pear here though, it’s sweeter and cooks down a little softer than the apples so you get a little internal texture variation, which I love. If I were making this for only myself I would kick up the ginger a bit more as well, give it a little more zip, but BF isn’t the biggest ginger fan so I try not to overpower all my baking with it.
Apple-Pear Snacking Cake
This recipe is adapted from Joanne Chang’s Flour Cookbook. I’ve had this cake in the bakery and homemade – and it’s perfect in both places. I am looking forward to Flour, Too so much I may offer to beta test a few recipes for Ms. Chang, that way I don’t have to wait! Ha!
1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger (I think some finely minced crystallized ginger would be good here too)
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
4 cups of fruit (at least 3 cups should be apples/pears the other cup can be berries or whatever you’ve got on hand)- peeled, seeded and chopped
Butter and flour a 10″ round or square cake pan, I use an 8″x11″ rectangle and it works perfectly. Preheat the oven to 350.
Sift the flour, soda, salt, and spices into the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the sugar and butter. Combine at low-medium speed until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Add the eggs one at a time and mix until fully incorporated. Turn the mixer on high and beat the batter until it is light and fluffy, about a minute. I find the batter a bit thick here, but don’t worry too much about it.
Using a rubber spatula, fold the fruit into the batter gently, making sure there is a bit of batter on all the fruit. The batter will be quite stiff and look like it’s mostly fruit – it should, that’s a good thing. Add the batter to the prepared pan and even it out gently.
Bake for about 1 hour in the 10″ pan and check it at 45 mins in the 8″x11″ one. When it is done the cake with be a nice golden brown and will fell firm when pressed.
Cool the cake completely in the pan on a wire rack (or somewhere that air can get around the WHOLE thing).
Serve the cake with a dusting of powdered sugar or a drizzle of caramel sauce.
I find this is a cake best eaten slightly warmed, the fruit gets all jammy and fragrant and it’s much more like a warm hug.
Serve with coffee. As breakfast, to your favorite people.
I love green tea. I have loved green tea since I went to Japan in college and learned about it – history, origins, culture, it was enchanting to me. I tend to not cook with it often – it has a nice subtle flavor and alone it’s perfect but it can be overpowering in baked goods or as part of a meal (unless it’s the green tea braised short ribs at Myers and Chang, then eat one… or five, they’re divine). But, I digress, I finally got up the courage recently to commit to trying green tea as a flavor than as a lovely drink that keeps me going at my new job, I made cookies with it. I’d seen the cookies presented in many a blog post on Guchi’s Midnight Ramen, a very lovely and cool phenomenon that ran through Boston last winter/spring. They managed to end almost all of their pop-ups on a light sweet note with a green tea chocolate chip cookie. I thought these sounded lovely. I dreamt about them, I wondered how best to create something delicious and green tea flavored without thinnning it out. Then I remembered Matcha powder, bright green, flour fine, and perfect for adding to anything that requires flour.
See the things with these cookies was that they were not offensively green tea-y they were just nice with a slightly floral and light undertone. I used a chocolate bar with candied ginger in it, but you could use the Trader Joe’s Chocolate covered ginger pieces or just use regular dark chocolate chips and these would be just as good. I shared these cookies around, with my Chinese coworker, who was shocked I made green tea cookies, with my sister who took these gorgeous shots while I was baking, with BF (of course) and our house guest. Everyone fell for them. This is also my favorite regular chocolate chip cookie recipe, it comes from my time in baking class in high school when I was still learning what cooking and food meant to me. Also, it’s just the best.
Now go, get a decent quality matcha powder or you will be sad. Sidebar: The More You Know. It will be about $10 for a small can of the matcha powder (less than 4 oz) but it’s worth it. In Boston and it’s suburbs I tend to get mine at a Korean specialty store in Union Square called Reliable Market. You will also see lots of other cool things while you’re there.
Note: For a regular Chocolate-Chip Cookie just omit the matcha powder here and add your favorite chocolate chips. This recipe is from my Baking class cookbook that I got back in high school, it’s tattered and I love it to pieces.
1 cup butter, softened to room temp
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, light or dark is up to you, I only use dark but the light might be more delicate here
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs matcha powder
i cup chocolate chips
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 350.
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or by hand with a wooden spoon, cream the butter and sugars together until they are light and fluffy.
Add the eggs and vanilla to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix until fully combined.
In a medium sized bowl combine the flour, soda, salt, and matcha and whisk them together, it should smell of just a hint of matcha and be a lovely pale green color.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir to combine.
Add the chocolate chips and gently fold them in until they are just distributed in the dough.
Scoop the dough in 2 Tbs dallops on to parchment lined sheets. Bake for 12 mins, until they are lightly browned on the edges and the centers aren’t shiny and wet anymore.
Allow the cookies to cool slightly on the pan (about 3 minutes) before transferring them to a cooling rack.
Enjoy with a cup of tea, it will only enhance the flavor of the cookie in the right ways. Share.