For as long as I’ve had my own kitchen, I’ve been making scratch brownies out of the 1971 BETTY CROCKER COOKBOOK. People say things like this, “That’s the best brownie I’ve ever eaten in my whole life.” And you know why? It’s not because I’m the best brownie baker or Betty’s the top of the recipe developers, it’s because most folks are used to boxed mix brownies made with cocoa instead of luscious whole bars of melted chocolate. You know, brownies are nothing but fudge on steroids. Think of them as fudge with flour… and eggs… … and sometimes a little leavening. But unless you make scratch brownies, you don’t know that.Continue reading
Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese-Coconut Frosting or Riding on the City of New Orleans
“Yes, by Saint Anne; and ginger shall be hot i’ the mouth, too.”
Shakespeare, TWELFTH-NIGHT, Act II, Scene 3
It was a great day for city of New Orleans and a better day for the Saints. As a good chunk of my family lives in that area (my dad was born nearby), I have some pretty good smiles myself this morning thinking of how he’d feel if he could hear yesterday’s Super Bowl score. Naturally, while the game was definitely great, the food was, to me, a little more important (ha) than the game… Well, it’s true.
Mike (next-door–great big tv) said he’d do some pulled pork (Remember all of those Yahoo! trending searches where “pork recipes” was near the top?–Mike was there.) and so I said I’d do a great dip with veggies and something for dessert. Yes, and then when I got home from church, I had to do something about all of that. Super Bowl. Cold, icy, snowing up here on the mesa in the Springs. Visibility low. Pretty gray. Good game coming.. (Don’t ask me, really, I usually read the NYT and eat.)
I knew we needed to be ready early because we were walking (carefully, carefully) down to June and John’s for a pre-game glass of wine first. Oh, famous last words, I had plenty of time. Why is it then that, as if often the case, I barely have time to brush my teeth before we either leave or friends arrive? When I had “plenty of time.”
The dip was no problem; I had been drooling over Melissa Clark’s Greek Goddess dip from the Wednesday NYT food section. She notes “serve immediately,” so I left off making that as it was full of fresh herbs and appeared to come together in the food process fairly quickly. (It did.) There wasn’t anyone who didn’t eat and eat that dip. (I did add a tish salt, a few drops of Tabasco and skipped the mayonnaise..this for future cooks.) I also made my own pita strips, not chips, by slicing up whole wheat pita bread, spraying them with Pam and then sprinkling on either black pepper and sesame seeds or black pepper and paprika. (Bake 350 F, about 12 minutes, turning strips over once, half-way through baking.) Both were yummy. That wouldn’t take long, would it? Still, chopping up the veg for a big tray WOULD be time-consuming; I left Dave to it. He even got down a great big platter and washed it. I married the right guy. You knew that.
But, the dessert. What was I to make? I flipped through my own mind’s recipe file and came up with homey trays of cookies or brownies (Super Bowl fare ain’t creme brulee.) or big, house-sniffing pies. I fanned through the indexes of Ina Garten’s books for fun and wondered about ice cream, as I had heavy cream. Chocolate and espresso was sounding good. But I had made gingerbread with a little whipped cream for Friday night’s dessert (and part of Saturday morning’s breakfast) after making
Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya from the lovely blog makingsundaysauce.com. That gingerbread kept calling me back. I wanted it again, but I wanted it differently. Weird, I have a sweet tooth typically only tuned to the chocolate station. What was this about? Oh…it was cupcakes calling.
What about cupcakes? What about cream cheese frosting, as in carrot cake? And what about some coconut? Coconut cupcakes call people. They just do. If they like coconut, that is. So I’d make some with and some without. (No problem after all; everyone liked coconut.) Make ’em, bake ’em and take ’em today. * You’ll have a rock band playing in your mouth after you eat these. Here’s how I did it:
Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Coconut Frosting
makes 20 cupcakes
1 3/4 c boiling water
1/3 c brown sugar
1 3/4 c molasses
2 eggs, well beaten
12 T unsalted butter, melted (1 1/2 sticks)
3 3/4 c all-purpose, unbleached flour
2T ground ginger
2 t cinnamon (I like Vietnamese)
3/4 t ground cloves
1 t finely fresh ground black pepper
2 t baking powder
1 t salt
Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)
2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour muffin pans (makes about 20). If you want to line the cups with paper wrappers, you can. I think they take the moisture out of the cupcake or muffin and make the cake steam in a way I don’t like. I like the hot metal on the batter for a firm, crispy crust. Try it once.
Beat well together the liquid ingredients in a medium bowl or 8 cup measuring cup. In large mixing bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. Add liquids and stir until barely combined. Using a large pammed ice cream scoop, scoop the batter into the prepared pans, filling each cup no more than 3/4 full. Bake about 15 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let set a few minutes before turning out onto cooling racks. Cool completely before icing. After icing, dip tops, using a rolling motion, into a shallow bowl filled with the coconut. Store in tupperware or on a tray carefully covered with foil (stick toothpicks in a few cupcakes to keep foil from sticking.) Serve immediately or refrigerate.
*This recipe developed from reading two recipes and creating the cupcake recipe with my own additions/changes. 1.THE FANNY FARMER BAKING BOOK Marion Cunningham, p 325, “Soft Gingerbread” and 2.THE SPLENDID TABLE’S HOW TO EAT SUPPER by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift, p 310 “Dark and Moist Gingerbread.”
Cream Cheese Frosting
from Grace Herson, chef extraordinaire, Woodlawn Plantation, Mt. Vernon, Virginia–Grace gave me this recipe in 1985 in a cookbook she and others wrote for me..
4T unsalted butter, softened
8 oz package cream cheese (low-fat), softened
3-4 c powdered sugar (start with 3 c)
Place butter and creamed cheese in mixing bowl, and using electric mixer, beat together for 2 minutes. Stop mixer, add 3 cups powdered sugar, starting the beater slowly, combine and then and beat well. Add vanilla and beat again 2 minutes. Add more powdered sugar to desired thickness. Use frosting immediately and refrigerate leftovers.
AND, OF COURSE, NEWS FROM THE 2-DOG KITCHEN: