Archive for November, 2009

I got to spend Thanksgiving afternoon with my sister helping her bake a recipe she found in Bon Appetit. The recipe taunted “Cupcakes for Thanksgiving? Why not?”. It made complete sense to us so we decided to give it a whirl.

I was pretty nervous making these (honestly, I think I watched more than I contributed). The biggest concern I had was the caramel. I’ve never worked with it and have been intimidated by a process that I perceived to be extremely difficult . I was pleasantly suprised to discover that it’s not that bad – just keep a close eye. The caramel we made could not have been any better. Rich, dark and creamy, off set by the slight tang of salt and butter. It’s a winner.

Brown Sugar-Pecan Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting
From Bon Appetit – Makes 12


Nonstick vegetable oil spray

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup cake flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped toasted pecans

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

2 large egg yolks

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans


Put rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Spray 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray; line with muffin cups.

Whisk both flours, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt in medium bowl. Stir in chopped pecans. Beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add brown sugar; beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating to blend between additions. Beat in sour cream and vanilla. Add dry ingredients; beat on low speed just to blend. Divide batter among muffin cups.

Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 23 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool. DO AHEAD Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover; store at room temperature.


Stir sugar and 1/4 cup water in medium saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high; boil until syrup turns deep amber, swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush, 6 to 7 minutes.

Remove from heat; add cream (mixture will bubble up). Stir over low heat until caramel bits dissolve. Whisk egg yolks in medium bowl. Very gradually whisk hot caramel into yolks. Cool to room temperature.

Using electric mixer, beat butter and salt in large bowl until smooth. Beat in caramel. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Let stand at room temperature until thick enough to spread, about 1 hour.

Spread frosting over cupcakes. Place pecans on plate. Roll edges of cupcakes in nuts. DO AHEAD Can be made 8 hours ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.


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The difference in texture between the ice cream and the crumbling graham cracker creates a fantastic contrast, and the caramel and spiced whipped cream only make things that much better. I’m really proud of how these turned out. Probably one of my favorite creations to date. Plus I got super lucky on how the photo turned out.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Follow this recipe for the pumpkin ice cream. When the recipe calls to whisk the pumpkin mixture into the custard at the end of the recipe, ADD  approximately one cup of half & half after you cook the custard at the end of the recipe .  You want the consistency to resemble thick pudding. The original recipe produces a custard that has the consistency of wet sand – I discovered this the first batch I made and it wasnt pleasant. Half & half does the trick just fine.  Also, I used Captain Morgan’s instead of bourbon for the liquor. I’m sure bourbon would be delicious too.

Graham Cracker Crust

1 1/2 cups crumbled graham crackers (about 20 sqaures)

1/4 cup white sugar

1/3 cup melted butter

Combine all ingredients. Line a cupcake pan with liners. Put a heaping tablespoon of mixture into the bottom of a cupcake liner. Press the mixture down firmly into the bottom of the liner, it should be about 1/4″ thick. Bake at 350° for 7 minutes. Let cool.  The goal is to have little discs that you can scoop the ice cream on to when you peel off the cupcake liner.

Spiked Whip Cream

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoons white sugar

2 tablespoons Capt. Morgan’s Spiced Rum or bourbon

Whip the cream on high with an electric mixer until soft peaks form then slowly add the rum and sugar while  beating  until hard peaks form. Set aside.

Place a dollop of ice cream on a graham cracker crust. Drizzle with caramel, add a tablespoon of whipped cream, then sprinkle with a little bit of cinnamon or nutmeg. Serve immediately.

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Eggs Benedict with the Italian Influence

This is my interpretation of eggs benedict with a little twist of Italy thrown in. Is it eggs benedict if it doesn’t have hollandaise sauce? I’m not entirely sure. I’m otherwise at a loss at what to name this. Moving on – egg yolk, tomatoes, basil and balsamic seems to go perfectly together. It’s light, delicious and the flavor contrast is immense. This has become one of my favorite little breakfasts to date and I thought I’d share it with the world. Also, generous thanks to my anonymous hand model.

Serves 4 

1 cup balsamic vinegar

1 Tbs. sugar

8 english muffin halves

6 Roma tomatoes

3 Tbs. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

Salt and pepper

10 big leaves of basil

8 eggs 

Preheat oven to 400°. 

In a small saucepan, bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil. Add sugar once boiling and stir until dissolved. Reduce heat and gently boil the balsamic vinegar until it is a ¼ of its original volume. Remove from heat and cool in a separate container. Be forewarned that reducing vinegar results in a potent odor that will overwhelm your kitchen and likely your house. Your roommates will hate you for it. But when they taste it they will forgive you, I promise. This reduction has a syrupy consistency and can be used on a lot of dishes. Salads, pizzas, beef, etc. But try it on vanilla ice cream with strawberries and angel food cake. Trust me on that. If you cover and chill it in the fridge, the reduction can be used for months. 

While the balsamic is reducing, slice the tomatoes into 1/3″ thick rounds. TomatoesMince the garlic and spread evenly over the tomatoes. Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in the oven. Tomatoes with garlicThe tomatoes will be done when tender and starting to give the appearance of wrinkling/wilting. 

Julienne your basil into small strips. To do this easily, place four or five basil leaves on top of each other at a time and roll tightly, like a cigar. Rolling BasilCut through the basil into 1/8” pieces- you now have perfectly julienned basil strips. Cutting BasilSet aside. 

Start toasting your English muffins while you prepare your eggs as desired. You can poach them or fry them. Typically, I fry them because it’s less work and less mess.  

Place several slices of tomatoes on top of each toasted English muffin half. Place an egg on top of the tomato slices, and then top some pieces of basil as you see fit. Generously drizzle the balsamic reduction over everything. 



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