Tuesdays With Dorie: Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes


I love chocolate. I really love chocolate. Chocolate candy, chocolate frosting, chocolate sorbet, chocolate pudding, hot chocolate. But oddly, I’m less fond of chocolate cake (and chocolate ice cream). Go figure. So when I looked at this week’s Tuesdays With Dorie recipe I figured I’d love the ganache, but the cake would be kind of eh.

Now, Friday was a bit tense around here. Errands took insanely long, and there was this chicken to be disjointed. (See Friday’s post if you care.) So I kind of rushed the cupcakes into the oven, and as part of that ill-conceived rushing I failed to read the entire recipe before starting. So everything was mixed exactly right, including the dry ingredients (which you never want to do until right before the cake goes into the oven, of course), when I discovered I needed 2 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled.


So there was a bit of a delay, and the chocolate (when it went in) was perhaps not quite as cooled as the term “cooled” might imply.

I don’t know if that actually affected anything, although #1 Son issued all sorts of dire warnings about melted butter and screwed-up texture.

So I baked the cupcakes and cooled them, and when they were cool I stuck a cake decorator into the top and gave each one a shot of Marshmallow Fluff. (The recipe suggests doing that from the bottom, but then I’d have to have taken them out of the cupcakes papers, and I didn’t wanna.) The ganache (the yummy, yummy ganache) covered the Fluff completely, and so it came as a lovely surprise when the family bit in. We had some Edy’s cherry chocolate chip ice cream alongside, which was the perfect complement.

The verdicts?

Husband: Structurally, they were just gorgeous. That ganache on top was lustrous. I don’t think the Fluff added much to the taste, but it was a great throwback to cream-filled Tastykakes. The cupcake itself was really good.
#1 Son: They were good. The Fluff was kind of a nonentity, but it was fun. The flavor was good, but a little blunt, not a whole lot of depth or subtlety. It was good with the cherry ice cream.
#2 Son: The ganache was really good, very melt-in-your-mouth. The cupcake was good. It was delightfully cakey, and the Marshmallow Fluff was a pleasant surprise.


I thought the cake was dry — I never really like cake. It’s just an icing delivery system. The Fluff moistened it up quite a bit. And the ganache, as previously mentioned, was yummy.

The cupcakes looked pretty, and if I ever for some reason needed chocolate cupcakes, I’d certainly consider using these.

f you want to see what all the other TWD bloggers did with this recipe, check out the blogroll. And if you want to try them yourself (use the Fluff, or maybe some pastry cream or even jelly!), Clara will have the recipe here. (It’s not too late to make them for Halloween!)


Our Madeleines

The first cookbook I bought as a semi-adult was The Mystic Seaport Cookbook by Lillian Langseth-Christensen. It’s out of print now, but Amazon has 27 used copies. (Husband, then Boyfriend, and I bought it on our first road trip together, to Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. I guess it says something about us that that’s where we chose for our first road trip.)

I haven’t used it much over the years, although at least twice a year I make its Chocolate Silk Pie, which is, without exaggeration or hyperbole, the best pie in the world. But one thing I used to make fairly frequently and haven’t for many years is  the Chicken Pie with Cheese Crust. Husband and I both remember it fondly, although #1 Son doesn’t remember it at all, which tells you how long it’s been since I’ve made it. So when I decided to make it this week, I was worried: Would it live up to our memories, or were we going to be disappointed and lose yet another piece of our youth?

I won’t keep you in suspense: It was every bit as good as we remembered: chunks of chicken and potatoes immersed in an amazing gravy. It’s the apotheosis of comfort food. (And it’s even better cold. #1 Son just came in and hugged me in gratitude because he had a bite now that it’s been sitting for a couple of hours.)

I had a farmers market chicken in the freezer, so I defrosted that overnight, dreading the job of disjointing it for the pot. And then this morning at Trader Joe’s, I noticed whole kosher chickens, already helpfully disjointed and wrapped in cellophane. I’ll remember for the next time.

The morning got away from me yet again, and we wound up not getting home from all the errands till 2. #1 Son generously offered to stay home from his teen group meeting in the city to help me, and I happily took him up on it. (Somewhat to his chagrin, I think, but he was great about it.) So I handed him the chicken and a few knives and told him to go at it, and go at it he did. The learning curve was steep, but in the end I had a bunch of chicken pieces in my four-quart pot.

And then began the four-hour process of making this stew. I will type up the recipe tomorrow, but I wanted to get this published before a whole week went by again (as it did before I published last week’s Friday entry, which despite its date was actually published about 10 minutes ago.

I had forgotten how long and labor-intensive this is. I suppose it’s like giving birth — if women remembered what it was like, every child would be an only child. I’m going to make notes in the book this time, so we won’t wind up eating at 7:30 next time.


And if you’re having anything with gravy, there must be biscuits. I have discovered Heather’s Buttermilk Biscuits, the Only Right Way, and she’s not kidding. If you’re going to make biscuits, make these. Light, fluffy, perfect.


Dessert was once again Dorie. Tune in Tuesday for details!

baking Dorie

Tuesdays With Dorie: Pumpkin Muffins

For years I made pumpkin muffins from a recipe I cut out of the Philadelphia Inquirer — cut out, with a pair of scissors, and then kept track of on a little piece of newsprint. It’s so archaic. But somewhere along the line I lost my recipe; no more Andrew’s Pumpkin Muffins. They were excellent, by far the best pumpkin muffins I had ever had in my life.

This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe gave me a chance to replace my beloved recipe. And Dorie’s came close to Andrew’s (whoever he may have been) — or, at least, close to my no-doubt-nostalgia-enhanced memory of Andrew’s. We had them for breakfast rather than dessert, so I made them with King Arthur’s white whole-wheat flour. It’s great flour — we really can’t tell the difference in most baked goods — and I feel less guilty about serving it for breakfast.

And then, of course, I had to do something about those raisins. Over the objections of #1 Son (who has developed something of a raisin obsession lately), I used chocolate chips instead. (Breakfast? Who said anything about breakfast?)

So, without any further ado, here are my pumpkin muffins with chocolate chips and pecans:


Family review:

Husband: They were good all-around muffins — not transcendent, but quite tasty. The chocolate chips were a plus.

#1 Son: They were good, very good. There wasn’t a whole lot of pumpkin flavor, just enough to let you know you were eating pumpkin muffins but not enough to really make an impact. Texture was good, chocolate was good. Yay.

#2 Son: Um nom nom nom nom. (Translation: He liked them.)

I will definitely make these again. (Maybe with more chocolate chips. A cup? Two cups? The sky’s the limit!)

If you’d like to try them, Kelly over at Sounding My Barbaric Gulp! has the recipe. Really, go now. Try them. You won’t be sorry.

And if you’d like to see what other bloggers did with and to them (many no doubt much more creative than my chocolate-for-fruit substitution), check out the blogroll at Tuesdays With Dorie.

bread food Friday dinner meat recipes

Bicultural Friday Dinner

I had some lamb cubes in the freezer — grass-fed, organic, local lamb, straight from the farmers market. What to do with lamb cubes? Around here, there’s really only one answer. Irish stew:


I started with the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated‘s The New Best Recipe, #1 Son’s bible. We gave it to him after his bar mitzvah in 1995, and almost four years later it’s still his go-to cookbook for just about everything. (He made a cheesecake yesterday to take to a gathering of teenage homeschoolers today; he used it for a class on the science of cooking.) But the CI recipe called for shoulder chops, and I, of course, had the aforementioned cubes. So I played around with the proportions, but the technique is basically theirs.

Irish Stew (adapted from The New Best Recipe)

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound lamb cubes, cut into whatever size you like
2 medium onions, chopped into whatever size you like
a little less than 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
2 cups of water, divided
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon salt
3 medium potatoes (the book recommends Yukon Golds, but you can also use reds)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Sprinkle the lamb cubes with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and brown half the lamb on all sides. Remove to a bowl. Add another tablespoon of oil and brown the other half of the lamb on all sides. Remove to the bowl. Turn the heat down to medium-low, add the last tablespoon of oil, and cook the onions till they’re softened, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir till the onions are coated evenly. Add one cup of water and stir, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the thyme and the salt. Gradually add the other cup of water and continue to stir until the stew begins to simmer. Put the meat back in and bring the stew back to a simmer. Put the stew in a Dutch oven or covered baking dish and bake for one hour. Remove from the oven, add the potatoes to the top of the stew, re-cover, and bake for another hour or so, until the meat is tender. Stir the potatoes into the stew, let it stand for a few minutes (it’s really, really hot), and enjoy.

And if you’re having Irish stew, you must also have Irish soda bread. Again I turned to The New Best Recipe, and again it didn’t let me down.


Irish Soda Bread (adapted from The New Best Recipe)

3 cups (15 ounces) lower-protein (read, not King Arthur) all-purpose flour
1 cup (4 ounces) plain cake flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons cream of tartar
1½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus 1 tablespoon melted butter for the crust
1½ cups buttermilk

Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and preheat the over to 400 degrees. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Work the butter into the dry ingredients (with a fork or your fingers) till the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the buttermilk and stir with a fork just till the dough begins to come together. Turn it out onto a floured work surface and knead just till the dough is cohesive enough that you can form it into a loaf. The less you mess with it, the better. Pat the dough into a round about 6 inches across and 2 inches high; place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. I used a round stoneware pan. Use a serrated knife to cut a cross shape in the top of the dough; each cut should be 5 inches long and ¾ of an inch deep. Bake till the loaf is golden brown and skewer inserted into the center comes out clean (or the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees), about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter. Cool to room temperature before cutting.

I’m not really a big fan of soda bread, but Husband loves it, so I make it several times a year. This is the best recipe I’ve tried — I actually liked the bread. If you like soda bread, you’ll love it.

And for a change, dessert wasn’t a Dorie recipe. (This week it’s pumpkin muffins, and we’re having them for breakfast tomorrow!) #2 Son goes to a secular Jewish Sunday school (and #1 Son works there), where they learn all about the history and culture and traditions of Judaism. And apparently one of those traditions is celebrating the harvest festival of Sukkot by building model sukkahs out of graham crackers, pretzels, and frosting. When they did this at Sunday school they used that nasty frosting in a tub. But I don’t roll that way. So …

This afternoon I bought graham crackers, spice wafers, three different pretzel shapes, a couple of different kinds of candy corn, mini M&Ms, big marhsmallows, mini-marshmallows, and probably some other stuff I’ve forgotten. Then I made vanilla buttercream icing, chocolate buttercream icing, and royal icing (for architectural purposes). After dinner, the boys went at it.

#1 Son went with a traditional sukkah, complete with autumn leaves scattered on the ground:


#2 Son, the someday architect, went for something a bit more modern (and a bit less stable):



Tuesdays With Dorie: Lenox Almond Biscotti


This week’s Tuesdays With Dorie recipe was Lenox Almond Biscotti, and we liked them a lot. They were softer than the biscotti I’m used to, the kind you have to dunk into coffee or risk breaking your teeth. There’s cornmeal in them, which gives them an interesting texture, and lots of almond extract. I was actually worried about using so much, because most recipes call for just a quarter or half teaspoon, but it worked, and it worked well.

I had some bananas quickly heading toward rot, so I made David Lebovitz‘s Roasted Banana Ice Cream (from Perfect Scoop; if you make ice cream at home, you must acquire this book) to go with the biscotti. We also had some caramel sauce left over from last week’s TWD adventure.


I did not write this post on Saturday, as I usually do (we spent the day in Manhattan! it was fun!), so I don’t have a full family interview this time. (Two are still asleep; one’s getting ready to go to work.) I’ll try to fill in their opinions later,

I did ask #1 Son for his pithy quote last night:

#1 Son: Good almond flavor, chewy texture. Not at all like the biscotti you get in coffee shops, which are as hard as rocks.


Husband: They were a little uneven in terms of their texture, but very tasty. They were brittle on the ends and little toothier in the middle. I prefer them that way, actually. And they were really delicious.

#2 Son: I liked how they were slightly chewy and the almond flavor. They were very good with the ice cream.

So these are a keeper. If you want to try them yourself, head on over to Canela and Comino, where Gretchen has the recipe and quite a few delicious-looking variations. And check out what all the other TWD bloggers did with these at Tuesdays With Dorie. You’ll see all kinds of creative changes to this recipe, I predict.

baking Dorie

Tuesdays With Dorie: Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake


This week’s TWD recipe was Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake. Husband’s birthday was last Thursday, and so this was a perfect ending to our Friday dinner.

I was on my own for this one, and I didn’t start till mid-afternoon. The cake came together pretty quickly, which was nice, and it was out of the oven an hour after I started.

The topping came a couple of hours later, just before dinner, and it too was fairly simple. I’ve had issues with caramel before, but this came together nice, exactly as described in the book.

And when I brought it to the table, it was beautiful. Mouthwateringly beautiful.

Unfortunately, it just didn’t live up to the promise of its name and beauty. It was fine, but not brilliant. It reminded me of a restaurant dessert, one of those that sound incredible when you read the description on the menu but are ultimately disappointing.

From the name, I thought the cake would be more of a giant brownie, but it was actually a cake, and the caramel was a bit bland.

We had vanilla ice cream with it; I think that’s absolutely necessary. It balanced the sweetness and richness of the chocolate and caramel.

Family reviews:

Husband: It was more cakey than I thought it would be, not as chocolatey. It worked as a whole package, when the ice cream was added in.

#1 Son: Not a lot of depth of flavor, and the texture was disappointing. But the caramel and the peanuts were good.

#2 Son: The cake was not the texture of either brownie or cake, kind of in between. Still really good — I like the bittersweet chocolate. The peanuts were good — they added that little bit of salt — and the caramel was awesome. Great with vanilla ice cream!

The next day, two of us liked it more (richer flavor), and two of us liked it less (drier cake).

This recipe was chosen by Tammy over at Wee Treats by Tammy. She’ll have the recipe over there if you want to try it for yourself, or you could go buy Dorie’s book, Baking: From My Home to Yours. And if you want to see what tons of other bloggers thought of it, check out the blogroll at Tuesdays With Dorie.