Martha Stewart Texas Sheet Cake

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Martha Stewart Texas Sheet Cake
Martha Stewart Texas Sheet Cake

Texas Sheet Cake is one of my favorite treats to make. It comes together SO FAST. You can get it done in a jiffy and it's always a winner with friends and family.

This recipe is from Martha Stewart's book "Martha's American Food: A Celebration of Our Nation's Most Treasured Dishes, from Coast to Coast". The recipe is available online with Los Angeles Magazine.

I've made a few Texas Sheet Cakes in the past. Pioneer Woman has a great one. It is thinner because you use a half-sheet pan, but you can get it done start-to-finish in less than an hour. I make her recipe often. I've also made the Better Homes & Garden version.

Martha Stewart Texas Sheet Cake
Texas Sheet Cake comes together quickly because you boil the butter, water and cocoa together for the batter, and then boil the icing or frosting while the cake is baking in the oven. Instead of waiting for the cake to cool like most other frostings, with Texas Sheet Cake, you pour the frosting on a WARM cake. Easy peasy, no?

Martha Stewart Texas Sheet Cake
I found the cake really yummy. I like baking it in a 9 x 13 pan (compared to the larger half-sheet pan) so you can make it a bit taller - more like a sheet cake instead of brownies. The baking time was very different than the recipe (recipe: 12-14 minutes, me: 21 minutes). Also, I prefer the Pioneer Woman's icing. Martha's recipe has heavy cream in the frosting - while yummy, sometimes I don't have cream in the house.

Recipe from: Martha's American Food: A Celebration of Our Nation's Most Treasured Dishes, from Coast to Coast

Texas Sheet Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's)
1 cup water
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Boiled Chocolate Icing (see below)
1 ¼ cups coarsely chopped toasted pecans (I omitted the nuts)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low; whisk in cocoa, then the water. Raise heat and bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. Pour over flour mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Stir in eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla.
3. Pour batter into prepared pan and tap firmly on counter to release air bubbles. Bake until sides pull away from edges of pan and a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, 12 to 14 minutes (Mine took 21 minutes to bake). Transfer pan to a wire rack and pour icing over cake while still warm. (Sprinkle nuts on top, if using). Let cool before slicing into squares and serving.

Boiled Chocolate Icing

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar (I suggest sifting the powdered sugar)

Bring butter, cocoa, and cream to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla and confectioners’ sugar. Use while still warm. Pour over warm cake.

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Maple Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Maple Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Maple Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Did I tell you about my friend Helen and her three awesome daughters Alison, Emily and Rosie? They are, without exaggeration, totally cool and rad. I've known them since the Northridge earthquake when Helen and I started working together. Yes, I date things by natural disasters. Rosie and I are in a cake decorating class right now. I've been posting photos to my instagram account (@foodlibrarian) and will post about it after the class ends.

Alison's friend Erika gave the family this recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies...with the secret ingredient of maple syrup!

Maple Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Although maple syrup is an all-year yummy ingredient, I think of it as a "fall" food. Thus, welcome fall.

Maple Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
The recipe is delicious, but if you want to cut the brown sugar a bit, go for it. They are plenty sweet.

Maple Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Erika says she adapted it from a Martha Stewart recipe
1 1/2 cups (210 g) flour
1 t cinnamon
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup (200 g) light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup pure maple syrup, grade A
1 egg, room temp
2 t vanilla
3 cups old fashioned oatmeal (not instant)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven in 325 degrees.

1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
2. Cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy with a paddle attachment in a stand mixer. Scrap down side of bowl.
3. Add the maple sugar and mix until blended.
4. Add egg and vanilla until blended.
5. On slow speed, add flour mixture. Mix until just blended.
6. Add the oatmeal and chocolate chips. Mix until just blended. Finish with a spatula, but don't overmix.
7. Scoop onto parchment paper covered baking tray. I used a smallish cookie scoop and got 57 cookies.
8. Bake for about 15 minutes (depends on your oven), turning halfway through until edges are golden brown.
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Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins
Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins

It's fall. What? It was close to 90 degrees in the Southland today.

But I am sad that it's getting dark and we can't "play in the streets" like kids anymore. With my new work schedule, I'm running at dusk and end the jog in the dark. I bought these reflective ankle bands to illuminate myself...I'm thinking of making a set of snap-on ones for the dog too. Would that just be too embarrassing for her?! Anyway, please don't hit me if you are driving around Los Angeles. :)

Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins
When I think fall, I think oranges. Oranges and chocolate. And that brings me to these muffins.

The base recipe is from the Art & Soul of Baking cookbook by the fine folks at Sur la Table. Originally, you use lemon zest (with no chocolate), but I wanted to add chips and think orange goes really well with chocolate. I made the nectarine upside-down muffins using the same base recipe.

Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins
This is really easy to pull together because you melt the butter with the orange zest (the kitchen smells GREAT!). You can throw these together before a morning meeting or before a leisurely Sunday brunch.

Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins
I toss a few reserved mini chocolate chips on top of the muffin before baking, and tossed a little sanding sugar on top. I think everything is better with sanding sugar!

Adapted from the Easy Morning Muffins in the Art & Soul of Baking, page 148 (find it in your library via WorldCat)

2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (4 3/4 ounces) sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
3/4 stick (3 ounces) butter
Zest of one orange
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs, room temp
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup mini chocolate chips (pull out a few tablespoons to sprinkle on top)
Sanding sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Butter a 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper cupcake liners.
3. Place the orange zest in a saucepan with the stick of butter. Melt the butter. (Melting the butter with the orange zest will bring out the orange flavor. Pour butter and orange into small bowl.
4. Add buttermilk and let sit for a few minutes to cool off.
5. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla.
6. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda,  salt, most of the chocolate chips).
7. Make a well in the dry ingredients. Pour the butter/egg mixture into the dry ingredients and quickly fold together. Don't overmix. Don't worry if you have a few small lumps.
8. Using an ice cream scoop, dish batter into muffin tins. Sprinkle with a few chocolate chips and sanding sugar.
9. Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown.
10. Let cool for 5-10 minutes and then carefully turn over the muffin tin onto a sheet tray.

Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins
Be sure to check out this book - it's filled with some great recipes and very good instructions.

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Fine Cooking's Classic Buttermilk Cornmeal

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fine Cooking Buttermilk Cornbread
Classic Buttermilk Cornbread

I love cooking in my cast iron pan. It feels rustic and it's perfect for upside down cakes. Making cornbread brings images of cowboys cooking on the open range.

Fine Cooking Buttermilk Cornbread
I added some corn to the cornmeal to make it corny. Hee hee. This isn't "cake" with some cornmeal (like the Marie Callender's type), this is cornbread. It would be great as a base for stuffing.

I made this a few months ago and am finally posting it. I kinda lost my blogging and baking mojo during the summer. I had plans this weekend to bake...and then something happened on Friday morning. I was washing dishes and I'm crazy about grease (no grease down the drain!). As I was wiping a metal base with a paper towel, I sliced my thumb. OUCH. A trip to urgent care gave me stitches, antibiotics, and a few restaurant recommendations (my urgent care doc was a totally foodie and she passed along some of her favorites...along with stitches!) I added some medicinal sorbet to the mix when I picked up the antibiotics at Target pharmacy.

Washing dishes. Sharp edge. Thumb. Urgent care. Good morning?  Four stitches on my thumb (ouch!), antibiotics, and medicinal lemon sorbet.
Ouch! Stitches in the thumb!

Classic Buttermilk Cornmeal 
From Fine Cooking 107, pp. 37, November 19, 2010

9 oz. (1-3/4 cups) medium-grind stone-ground yellow cornmeal, divided.
2-1/4 oz. (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. table salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/2 oz. (3 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into a few pieces

Heat a cast-iron skillet (9 or 10-inch) in the middle of a 425 oven. More info about other types on the original recipe.

In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup water to a boil over high heat. In a large bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the cornmeal and the boiling water. Stir to blend—the mixture should become a thick mush.

In a medium bowl, whisk the remaining 1-1/4 cups cornmeal with the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda to blend.

Add the buttermilk, sour cream, and eggs to the cornmeal mush and whisk to blend.

When the oven and pan are fully heated (after about 20 minutes), add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until just blended. Do not overmix.

Remove the hot pan from the oven and add the butter pieces, tilting the pan to swirl the butter around until it’s melted and the pan is well coated. (The butter may brown; that’s fine.) Immediately pour the melted butter over the mixed batter and stir to combine—a half-dozen strokes with a wooden spoon should be plenty. Scrape into the hot pan.

Bake until the cornbread pulls away from the sides of the pan and is golden on top, 18 to 20 minutes. Immediately turn the bread out onto a rack. Cool for 5 minutes. Serve hot.
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Trader Joe's Cinnamon Sugar Grinder (& a little giveaway)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Trader Joe's Cinnamon Sugar Grinder
Trader Joe's Cinnamon Sugar Grinder

Have you picked this up at Trader Joe's yet? I love it! I have the black pepper and sea salt grinders...but this one is the best! :)

With school back in session, who wouldn't like some cinnamon sugar toast?  

Trader Joe's Cinnamon Sugar Grinder
The grinder is full of sugar and cinnamon chunks that you can grind into your own topping. I've used it on toast, but it would be great on baked apples, warm fruit, or as a easy topping when you bake muffins.

Trader Joe's Cinnamon Sugar Grinder
Don't have a Trader Joe's near you? Well, let me pause for a moment to feel sooooo bad for you! I have a friend who lived in Colorado for some time and finally moved back to California, yelling the whole drive back, "I'm going to live near Trader Joe's again!!"

If you live in the United States and don't live near a Trader Joe's, you can enter my quick little giveaway for your own Cinnamon Sugar Grinder. I'll send out a grinder to three randomly chosen entries. Be sure to leave your email address or twitter handle.
Giveaway ends Thursday night, 9/13/2012 at midnight PDT. Good luck!Giveaway closed. Congrats to winners: #34 niftyfoodie, #7 grace, and #46 sharonjo.

FCC Disclosure: I don't work for Trader Joe's - just love this product. I will be purchasing the grinders and paying for postage to winners with my own moola. Just one of those spreading the love things.
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