browned butter apple skillet cake with dark chocolate chunks

all that is left after our night of feasting out of the pan...

all that is left after our night of feasting out of the pan...

it's my favorite time of year-- that delicious month or so when it is crisp and chilly, almost cold in the morning. bundles of sweaters, holding on to a big mug of tea while still holding out on turning on the heat. this slightly salty browned butter (how many of my recipes start with that phrase? and is that a problem?) skillet cake with apples and big ole chunks of dark chocolate is the perfect treat for this moment.

i want so much more of this in my mouth

i want so much more of this in my mouth

i made this cake the other night when j was away late for a parents' meeting at school. the house got cozy warm and filled with the smell of butter and apples and when he got home, we ate it straight out of the pan in bed.

i didn't have any leavening agent in the house, so this cake doesn't have any. it was perfect as such-- somewhere between a chewy cookie bar and a cake. true autumn perfection.

recipe
1 stick butter, melted and browned on the stove top (until it smells nutty and delicious and the milk solids sort of separate out on the top)
1 c sugar
1 T cinnamon
2 eggs
1 t vanilla                                                                                                                                              
1.5 cup flour
1 t salt (i used big Maldon salt flakes)
1 big apple, cut into hunky chunks (i used a ginger gold variety from a local farm)
1 cup dark chocolate chunks (fair trade, duh)
melt the butter. once browned & cooled, stir in sugar. then stir in vanilla and eggs. stir in flour, cinnamon, and salt. drop in the chunks of apple & chocolate, mix.

bake at 350 ish (we are just using a tiny awesome electric stove from the 50s that says "low to high" and you just guess...) and bake until it smells good. maybe 20-25 minutes? take it out when the center still looks soft and let it cool. it's actually a lot better cooled down and firmed up. underbaked is always better.

TA DA. you will the bake this cake on repeat every night for the next month.

ice cream brownie birthday cake

the messier the ice cream smoosh, the tastier.

the messier the ice cream smoosh, the tastier.

july is the month of birthdays in our family. two of my besties and i are days apart, then jacob, one papa, one mama in each family... the list goes on and on. when making so many cakes in such a short time (baruch hashem// gracias a dios) you have to get creative and change it up a bit. it's a good problem to have.

i made this bad boy a few days ago for jacob's 34th. (!) the man makes 34 look damn good. in fact, we went out last night and were quizzed (literally. as in "what town do you live in? what is the address?") about our i.d.s. i guess it should be flattering, but i mean, come on. we were in our new town's "athletic club," a tiny old abandoned veterinary building with pool tables and like four people playing the juke box. would we really try to sneak in to such an establishment if we were under 21? really??

[completely unrelated: because of all the birthday commotion i have been reading a ton of rob brezney's horoscope action. if you don't know him, get to know him immediately. if you don't read horoscopes, that's cool. neither do i. read him anyway. ]

this brownie recipe is my go-to. jacob discovered it one summer when he was out of bittersweet chocolate to melt but desperately needed brownies. i was traveling with a singing group at the time, and he wrote me a detailed description of how these brownies taste like perfect frosting and are the world's best creation. the subject line of the email was "the most important ingredient is a shit ton of love."

five years later, i feel so lucky to still be with such a love (and chocolate) ball of a man.

the best part of these brownies is the fact that the batter tastes exactly like frosting.

the best part of these brownies is the fact that the batter tastes exactly like frosting.

recipe

2 sticks butter
4 oz cream cheese
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
pinch salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 cup chocolate chips

gobs and gobs (maybe 2 pint containers) of the best ice cream you can lay your hands on. (we used some local creameries salted caramel & maple walnut.)

preheat oven to 350. beat butter & cream cheese together until smooth. add in eggs. beat until supa dupa fluffy. add in vanilla, add salt. (adding flavorings to the fats carries it through the whole brownie.)

next, add your dry ingredients all together to the batter. beat just until mixed in. (note: there is no leavener in this recipe intentionally. it makes it extra gooey chewy and not cakey at all.)

drop in the chocolate chips. beat until distributed. bake for 20-25  minutes or so in a big pan, until just set. (it's a good idea to spend your wait time snuggling or smooching while brownies are baking.)

take the brownies out while still a bit doughy. let them cool completely. then take your ice cream out of the freezer and let it soften. plop it all over the brownies and smooth it out. it's the lazy man's ice cream cake!

 

browned butter salty triple chocolate chip cookies (or, it takes a family to make a dessert)

tonight jacob, his mama carol and i made cookies. afterwards, they decided to dictate to me the recipe. what follows is a verbatim recounting of how to make these bad biddies.

things of note: 1) yes, this was taken on my phone late at night. 2) yes, those are grease patches on the wood beneath the cookies. 3) yes, that was the fourth of a series of cookies i ate while taking this one phone shot.

things of note: 1) yes, this was taken on my phone late at night. 2) yes, those are grease patches on the wood beneath the cookies. 3) yes, that was the fourth of a series of cookies i ate while taking this one phone shot.

(also, when you are moving back home to your husband's hometown-- indeed, to his backyard-- and are currently sleeping on his twin bed from high school, staring up at posters for animaniacs, jurassic park, and ranger rick centerfold wolves, you probably should have a belly full of ooey, gooey, decadent cookies. eat two of these salty mamas right away and call me in the morning.)

browned butter salty triple chocolate chip cookies (as set forth by jacob)

first, start when you are a little tired after an enormous feast dinner with family.
then, go to your tried and true first recipe you ever learned (from the back of the chocolate chip cookie bag.) and over the last twenty years you have modified and improved this recipe, bringing forth the perfect cookie.

get 2 sticks of butter. brown those bad boys on the stove-- great tutorial of how to do that here.

carol: i use unsalted butter.
jacob: i use salted. and i also add salt. deal with it.

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup (heaping) brown sugar
(the brown sugar should be a packed half cup, but i am too lazy to pack these days so i just do a heaping half cup)

once the butter is good and browned (carol: a looooong while.) (jacob: make sure you stir so it doesn't burn.) then you pour the butter over the sugar and mix. (this melts all lumps in the sugar- added bonus.)

because the butter was so hot, it is now too hot to add eggs. let it all cool until you can touch the bottom of the bowl with your bare hand.

then, add 2 teaspoons to a full 1 tablespoon (jacob says more is always more), and then stir in 2 eggs. if you can, get those eggs at village farm in freedom, maine. these are the best eggs in the world. if you include these eggs in your batter, it is considered a health food. if not, so be it. if you cannot obtain the eggs from village farm, do your best.

get one teaspoon of baking soda. (the stuff in the box. arm and hammer. not the other stuff in the cylinder.) mix that with 1 teaspoon of salt (if it's unsalted butter) or scant salt (if salted butter) and add that in to 2 1/3 cup flour (almost 2 and 1/2 cup flour.)

stir together these dry ingredients. then, mix the flour stuff in with the butter, sugar, vanilla. add in chocolate chips.

(carol: we started out with two full cups, half dark and milk chocolate, half white. by the time we added the chips in, we had lost half a cup.)
(jacob: was it julia child who said to start with a cup of wine, and reduce by drinking the cup of wine by half?)

then, make BIG cookie dough balls. bigger than a ping pong ball. maybe golf ball sized. put them on a greased pan. then press down on them to make them flatter. (jacob: a trick i taught my wife. grace: i taught him everything he knows.)

don't forget to eat as much dough as possible.

then, bake at 350 degrees for about ten minutes. pull them out the INSTANT before they change color on the edges.

then, spend a lot of time photographing them (or not, as the case may be) and talking about how good you are at making cookies. make sure there are plenty of people around to appreciate your good hard work.

 

 

 

 

 

salty caramel popovers with chocolate mousse filling

sometimes you need a challenge. when plain old cookies or brownies aren't cutting it for your celebratory needs, turn to these caramel-dipped, chocolate ganache- filled, cheddar cheese- spiked (!) popovers. they are a hint salty, richly sweet, and filled with creamy delicious chocolate mousse.

these little flavor blobs will rock your socks off

these little flavor blobs will rock your socks off

right now i feel like i imagine athletes in season feel-- the more that the sport demands, the more they do outside of the season as well. (aight my sports knowledge is now exhausted.) the more i have going on, generally, the more i feel like taking on. i'm sure i will be spent soon, ready to curl up for several days in bed and do nothing but read and dream up farm plans and eat large amounts of ice cream from the tub, but for now i am cruising. which was why during the week we were moving out of our house, i was training my replacement at work, planning a conference for the following weekend, and hosting my family who came to visit, i knew it was time to try out this recipe that felt way above my normal intrepid-ness level.

whip it real good

whip it real good

just fill em up halfway

just fill em up halfway

perfect golden circle

perfect golden circle

there is a jewish story about this dude honi the circle maker. (this relates-- bear with me.) this person comes to ask for advice and says, 'my house feels incredibly full! i have no room! i have far too many children, and now my parents and grandparents have come to live! how can i make more space?' honi says, 'first, bring in the donkey.' [dude is all upset & puzzled.] then he comes back to complain to honi that it feels even worse. then honi says, 'bring in the cow, the chickens, the goats.' this goes on until the house contains every dog and sheep in the town. finally, honi says, 'now take out the animals! problem solved!' 

i dip you dip we dip

i dip you dip we dip

get it???!?

the point is, make these incredibly delicious, moist, mousse- filled, slightly salty, caramel squishy plops immediately, regardless of scheduling conflicts.

this post makes me embarrassed by its sheer decadence

this post makes me embarrassed by its sheer decadence

recipe i found in a bon appetit lying around the office. i think it was contributed by this hip man duo. om nom nom. they are so, so good-- the texture alone will make you plotz.

flourless chocolate ganache cupcakes

i have a story for you today. about cake.

gold wrappers make everything extra fancy.

gold wrappers make everything extra fancy.

when jacob and i got hitched a year ago, we didn't have one wedding cake, we had about twenty. dear friends rolled in a week early, rolled up their sleeves, dove headfirst into the industrial mixers we had (for the school we worked and lived at-- man, i miss those big beauties), and helped bake, frost, and decorate the elaborate confections that i had been fantasizing about for months.

i spent countless hours daydreaming out all detailed flavor combinations, sketching up fancy fillings and shocking pink piles of frosting. s'mores cakes with graham cracker fluff filled my thoughts as i taught my students just war theory (sorry, students. i love you. i have more complex feelings towards you, just war theory.) vanilla raspberry meringue whips kept me up at night. i kept pestering jacob about what kinds of cakes he was going to make. his answer was simple: "mousse. mousse and ganache. that's all anyone wants."

this is pretty much it, ingredient-wise. see? almost paleo!

this is pretty much it, ingredient-wise. see? almost paleo!

he poked around the internet for recipe imitations of the best thing i've ever put in my mouth: tartine's fantastic chocolate souffle cake, and got to it. he made this cake in huge sheet pans-- the densest, chocolatiest, most decadent, perfect dessert imaginable. and just like that, he put all my months of cake-creations to shame. there was nothing to do but stand over the pan and eat this directly out, with a spoon. i ate bowl after bowls of creamy cake/mousse/ganache perfection.

three in one, one in three. something like that.

three in one, one in three. something like that.

last week was a friend's 33rd birthday--(what a decidedly lucky number!) she was feeling exhausted by the pulse of the spring season, trying to get plants in the ground, sheep shorn, and children fed, and when i asked her what kind of treat she wanted, she answered "the richest most chocolatey thing possible." i knew immediately what to do.

fold the good stuff in gentle-like.

fold the good stuff in gentle-like.

i made jacob's fool proof cake recipe in cupcake form and it was just as delish. it has no flour, so it's gluten free, and practically paleo, right? boom. health food.

i swapped duck eggs instead of chicken, because her son has an allergy to chicken eggs. since the duck eggs are bigger, i used one less egg than the recipe calls for. other than that, these bad boys baked up perfectly and i was instantly transported back to our wedding.

this looks like  karen 's amazing marbled paper to me

this looks like karen's amazing marbled paper to me

if you've got the best, why mess with anything else? (this clearly also applies to my feelings about jacs. though really, i'm talking about cake here. you can assume i'm always just literally talking about cake.)

these little sunken divets are perfect for filling. you could try pb frosting or jam or coconut cream as well...

these little sunken divets are perfect for filling. you could try pb frosting or jam or coconut cream as well...

the next day i filled in a few more of these cupcakes with  cream, salty peanut butter, and powdered sugar whipped together, to create a homemade reese's vibe. those munchkins didn't last long either.

fill them up, let them set, eat them all.

fill them up, let them set, eat them all.

jacs got the recipe from the blog afternoons in tablespoons. recipe here. so, so perfect and delicious. make them, eat them, love them.

ta da!! be 33 and fabulous for a whole year!!

ta da!! be 33 and fabulous for a whole year!!

salty salty chocolate toffee love cakes

sometimes you need to celebrate something huge and homey all at the same time. like when your baby brother is suddenly grown, and graduating high school, and going off to new york for film school in a mere matter of months. (!) some days you need to mark an occasion with a special treat, but are too deeply exhausted from crying as your amazing bean sprout of a brother gave a heartfelt speech to leave your own home where you and he can snuggle on the sofa all night. enter: salty chocolate toffee love cakes, the perfect mix of down home ease and classy style.

heartcakes.JPG

we make a lot of cake in my house. at least once a week we bake one, often with multiple layers, frost that bad boy, and dive in. we have ample data comparison points, and everyone, everyone declared this the best cake of. all. time. basically, we made our best chocolate sour cream layers from the rosie's bakery cookbook. then we made a salty caramel frosting, into which we whipped cream cheese for added delight. finally we sprinkled toffee bits on top.  we cut slices and toasted our little wonder bean, marveling at how fast eighteen years have gone by, and how sweet it is to be together to lick frosting off knives and day dream about all the oscars he will win.

this cake will not let you down. anything you are celebrating, do it with this mama. enjoy.

toffeeheartcake.jpeg

recipe:

chocolate sour cream cake layers from rosie's

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 c ap flour
3/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 cup stong hot coffee
1/2 cup sour cream (or yogurt, which we used)
1/2 c veg oil
2 eggs

1. preheat to 345. grease two 8 or 9 inch cake pans (heart shaped preferable, obviously).
2. melt chocolate in double boiler. cool.
3. stir together dry ingredients: sugar, flour, baking soda, salt. set aside.
4. in another bowl, add liquids: coffee, sour cream, veg oil.
4. add liquids to dry ingredients, mix together. stop and scrape down a lot.
6. add in eggs. then, slowly add in chocolate.
7. pour into pans, bake around 35 minutes.
8. cool, then frost. then sprinkle with toffee. then eat until you have to hold your belly and complain. then go hug your baby brother and watch bad old bond movies all night.

salty caramel cream cheese frosting

1 stick butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cream cheese
1 t vanilla
1 t salt

melt butter on the stovetop with brown sugar. stir and gradually bring to a boil. let roll for a couple of minutes until all sugars are melted down. pour into a mixer, and beat at medium speed. drop in  cream cheese and beat together. add in salt and vanilla. beat until thick.

spread over cake thickly. sprinkle toffee chunks on top (maybe 1/2 cup? but really as much as you can handle.)

repeat as necessary.