Monday, May 25, 2009

Not Chocolate but Pure Summer: Blueberry Coffee Cake

I have been making this recipe for years, and while it's not at all chocolate, blueberries scream summer and scream July 4th, so I thought it would be a good time to share the recipe.

I make this coffee cake every year for Memorial Day, July 4th, and for most breakfast meetings/brunches. It's quite sweet and I have altered the recipe a little bit. Feel free to tweak it to make it more healthy too!! Yikes, Paula!

It's a little curious that it's apparently both a Paula Deen recipe and a Pillsbury Bake-off winner? Hmmm. In any case, enjoy! It's even better for dessert with vanilla ice cream. :)

Blueberry Coffee Cake
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 (12-oz.) can buttermilk biscuits (or as close to 12 oz. as you can find)
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, melted (I usually use only 1/4 c. and melt just a little more if needed)
1 c. quick-cooking rolled oats
1 1/2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries (frozen works perfectly well)
1/2 c. sugar (or to taste; it's to sweeten the blueberries)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Grease a 9-inch square baking dish with the butter wrapper or cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon and mix well with a fork. Separate biscuit dough into 10 (or however many come in the roll) biscuits. Cut each biscuit into quarters, and lightly dip each piece in melted butter and coat with brown sugar mixture. Arrange in a single layer, covering the entire bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the oats.

Combine blueberries and sugar in a separate bowl and toss to coat. Spoon over oats and biscuits and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup oats. Drizzle remaining melted butter on top (I find this unnecessary, by the way). Bake for 20-30 minutes or until cake is golden brown and center is done. (It always takes me way more than 20 minutes; use a spatula to gently lift up a corner edge of the cake to see if it's still gooey or if it has cooked through.) Serve warm.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


How I made it this long without knowing about bakerella is totally beyond me, but what a talented blogger. And just in time too. My friend over at ieatDC graduated from law school recently, and I knew that making her these graduation caps with her school's colors on the tassels would totally make her day! (Without hesitation, she put the whole huge thing in her mouth at once.) :)

These are pretty easy to put together, with some patience and the right supplies. Colors are customizable. :)

Graduation Caps
Miniature peanut butter cups, chilled in the freezer
Godiva squares*
Airheads Extremes Rainbow Berry Sweetly Sour Belts, cut into strips by color**
Lollipop sticks (the Wilton brand is available at Michaels or Party City)
Small handful of chocolate chips, melted (this is your "glue")
Rainbow chip sprinkles (mine are from a Williams-Sonoma ice cream topping kit; other small candies will do as well)

*Apparently found at World Market, for a price; after feeling up all the chocolate bars at Wegmans, I bought a Wegmans brand bar of chocolate that had squares approximately proportionate for the square part of the cap—but the Wegmans logo is on top, unfortunately. They were also thicker than the Godiva squares, but I was not making one more stop with chocolate already in the car trying to melt!

**I'm going to save you the trouble and let you know you can only find these at 7-Eleven in this area... not Wegmans, Safeway, CVS, Giant, Walmart, Target... not that I'd know or anything... ;)

(Bakerella gives great instructions and step-by-step pictures if you want to see it there. I just give a basic overview.) Place peanut butter cups in the freezer until firm. Remove from freezer and carefully remove the wrappers. (Otherwise, too much chocolate gets stuck on the wrapper when unwrapped at room temperature.) Let come to room temperature once unwrapped (so that you can stick the lollipop stick in each without it cracking).

Melt a few chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave. Dip the tip of each lollipop stick into the melted chocolate and carefully insert into the wider part of each peanut butter cup (when the pb cups have come to room temp, otherwise, they'll crack). Don't pierce through to the other side!

Now, moving your attention to the squares, take a small dollop of your melted chocolate on a toothpick and "paint" a small blob in the center of each square as well as a "tail" for the tassel to adhere to. Adhere a rainbow chip in the middle of each square and a strip of sour belt to form the tassel. You'll have to cut the tassels down a little bit so they hang over the edge of each cap at the right length to look like a graduation cap.

When the caps have dried, use more melted chocolate to adhere them to the top of each grad cap. Stick into a styrofoam block to dry, or, the ghetto inkpadchocolate method, which is a shotglass. Hey, it's graduation, right? ;) The styrofoam will keep the caps more upright though. Oh well; you get the point! I was in a hurry as always!

Congrats, A!

Peabody's Chocolate Pecan Triangles

For Mother's Day this year, M and I hosted our moms for a tea. Unlike with most guests, our moms fortunately share our chocolate obsession—we didn't have to worry about providing less decadent options like we sometimes do with other dinner guests. ;) Also, we didn't even bother with anything savory... my kind of tea party!

Lately I have been following the blog Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. I really like her material because unlike some of my other favorite dessert blogs, Peabody makes things that, while totally creative and one of a kind, are still easy enough for a moderately experienced baker to handle, without being too over the top. Warning, her pictures will totally make you drool.

I had been eyeing her Chocolate Pecan Diamonds for a long time, and this seemed the perfect opportunity to take the plunge. Not only did the moms LOVE them, so did the dads (they got goodie bags)—and so did I. This recipe totally won me over. It's like super rich and chewy fudge on top of a crunchy, buttery crust. Makes me happy. Thanks, Peabody!

Please click the link above for her original recipe, but I did make a few changes and would like to make a few notes.

1. "Pecan dough" and "pecan filling" section: To toast the pecans, scatter them on an ungreased cookie sheet in a single layer and cook them in a preheated 325 degree oven for 10 or so minutes, tossing them a few times during cooking. This really releases the flavors and aroma of the nuts, but if this is just an extra step for you, you don't *have* to do it. But I do agree that it adds a lot of flavor and texture.

2. "Pecan filling" section: I used 2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips rather than milk chocolate chips, but that's also because I buy semisweet chips in bulk at Costco. ;)

3. "Pecan filling" section: I used 10 oz. of milk chocolate chips rather than a milk chocolate bar that I chopped—mostly to save time and not have to clean another cutting board/knife. ;)

4. "To make the filling" section: When she says to "Remove the pan from oven, and use a spatula to smooth the chocolate. I choose to make a marbled effect since the chocolates were different shades of brown."—this was a disaster for me. When I tried to marble it, the milk chocolate chips would pull up the already baked chocolate beneath it and there was no way it would end prettily. Next time, I'll leave visible chips on top.

5. Finally, I couldn't follow the instructions to make diamonds. M had to rip the ruler out of my hands because the moms were arriving in less than five minutes. So, triangles it is!!

I really hope you try this recipe. It's really a great one. I filed it under favorites and everything. :)

Cinco de Mayo: Chocolatey Empanadas

I decided to make chicken empanadas for Cinco de Mayo dinner this year, and with the leftover dough, my mind naturally drifted toward chocolate.

Using this dough and instructions as a base, I added different combinations of fillings. Chocolate chips with cinnamon, Nutella, peanut butter and chocolate chips—the possibilities are endless!

Although a cornmeal dough was a little strong for delicate fillings, it was still yummy and really pretty too.

And, to make sure each had a nicely browned exterior, I used the leftover egg whites to make an egg wash and brushed it over the top of each and finished with a generous sprinkling of sugar or cinnamon sugar.

Well, and chocolate syrup too, of course. :)

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