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Cupcakes and Pupcakes! June 27, 2007

Posted by Sarah in Desserts.
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Way back in September, my husband and I bought our first home together. It was a newly built home so we had a lot of landscaping to do (and we still do). We have always wanted a dog so, in February, we adopted a wonderful European Golden Retriever named Staccato. He had been returned to his breeder due to family issues and we were allowed to adopt him from the breeder. We could not ask for a better dog. We did not have a fence at the time, but planned to build one in the spring when the ground was not frozen. We were finally able to get it constructed this June. In celebration, we decided to have a dog party.

Dog party 1

(Staccato is the big, white, pretty boy on the left)

Staccato (he was bred by a music teacher) has a lot of dog friends that he plays with regularly, so we invited them all over (with their humans, of course) for a party. At the height of the party, we had nine dogs playing in the yard, all their respective people and a baby. Fun was had by all and the dogs behaved quite nicely.

We served hot dogs, puppy chow and other “potluck” foods. I also made these cupcakes with a funny little mound of chocolate frosting on top. I will leave you to draw your own conclusions about what it was supposed to look like!


The dogs got some treats from Three Dog Bakery and some “pupcakes” that my mom made. They are muffin-y cupcakes with apples, whole wheat flour and other dog friendly items. They are frosted with cream cheese. If my mom gets me the recipe, I will post it here. The dogs loved them, although I was told that they were a little bland for the human palate (they are completely edible). I didn’t get a chance to have one since I was eating my tasty chocolate ones!

Yummy Dog Treats


I know that most people know this, but DO NOT give these chocolate cupcakes to your dog! Chocolate is poisonous to dogs. In small dogs, just a little can kill them so make sure you keep these away from your dogs. They are, of course, perfectly delicious for humans!

Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting


Recipes from the Joy of Cooking

Joy of Cooking recommends having all the ingredients for the cake at room temperature (68-72 degrees). I forgot about this, so I gently warmed my buttermilk in the microwave, softened the butter in the microwave, and put my eggs in warm water for 10 minutes. Then, it was all at room temperature!

They also suggest the variation of using half white sugar and half brown sugar. I did not do this, but would be interested in knowing what it was like. I thought it would be good to add some espresso powder or instant coffee to the buttermilk/vanilla mixture to add a little more depth and color to the cupcakes.

This cake was perfectly delicious without frosting. So, if you are feeling lazy, calorie conscious (although I wouldn’t recommend eating cake if you are), or don’t have the ingredients for frosting, feel free to simply dust with powdered sugar and eat it.

Devil’s Food Cupcakes


1 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened (nonalkalized) cocoa

1/2 cup buttermilk or yogurt

In a separate bowl, sift together:

2 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

In another bowl combine:

1/2 cup buttermilk or yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a mixer bowl, beat until creamy (30 sec):

8 tablespoons unsalted butter

Gradually add 1 cup sugar and beat on high speed until lightened in color and texture, 3 – 5 minutes.

Beat in 2 eggs, 1 at a time.

Beat in the cocoa mixture. Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the buttermilk mixture in 2 parts, beating on low speed or stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth and scraping the sides of the bowl.

Scoop into cupcake pan with liners (I always spray mine lightly with cooking spray so they don’t stick). This makes between 12-18 cupcakes, depending on the size of pan you use. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean and they spring back when touched, about 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan about 5-10 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Frost when completely cool.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Use cold cream cheese and room temperature butter.

In a mixer bowl, beat until blended:

8 ounces cold cream cheese

5 tablespoons unsalted butter (they claim this is optional. I used it and it was awesome)

2 teaspoons vanilla

Add one-third at a time and beat just until smooth and the desired consistency:

2 – 2 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar

If the frosting is too stiff, beat for a few seconds longer. This keeps for 1 week refrigerated and 3 months frozen.


Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake March 17, 2007

Posted by Sarah in Desserts.

I was pretty excited to see that Peabody was hosting the Donna Day Cheesecake event because I was just looking for something to take to a potluck. My best friend tore her ACL in Taekwondo and had to have surgery to repair it this week. Her kind roommate decided to throw a potluck for her once she got out of the hospital and I really wanted to bring something special. For my very first Donna Day submission, I give you Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake.


This cheesecake is extremely rich. If you decide to have some, cut a small slice. Trust me, it will be enough! It is very creamy and smooth. I topped it with some broken chocolate drizzle.

This recipe comes from Eating Well magazine’s cookbook. I haven’t made many things out of it, but I wanted a lighter cheesecake, and I wanted to see how Eating Well dessert recipes were. The recipe called for 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese and 1% cottage cheese. I had never made a cheesecake with cottage cheese before and was happy to see that it worked out pretty well. I felt that I could have cut back on some of the coffee in the filling. I used Ghirardelli cocoa powder and some good dark chocolate so the chocolate flavor didn’t need that much enhancement. I think if I had cut back on the coffee, it would have been less rich… but maybe that was Eating Well’s plan… make it so rich that you can only eat a little bit! It worked for me! It was delicious.


1 cup chocolate wafer crumbs (about 20 wafers)

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon instant coffee granules dissolved in 2 teaspoons hot water


24 oz. 1% cottage cheese

12 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese (1 1/2 cups) cut into pieces

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 large egg

2 large egg whites

2 tablespoons instant coffee dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water (I think you could get away with just 1 tablespoon)

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 325. Put a kettle of water on to heat for the water bath. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Wrap the outside bottom of the pan with a double thickness of foil.

Blend crumbs, sugar, oil and coffee in a small bowl with a fork or your fingers. Press into bottom of the pan.

Puree cottage cheese in food processor until very smooth, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides. Add cream cheese and blend. Pour into a large bowl. Whisk in brown and white sugars, cocoa and cornstarch. Add egg, egg whites, coffee, vanilla, salt and chocolate and blend well. Pour into crust-lined pan.

Place cheesecake in a roasting pan and pour in enough boiling water to come 1/2 inch up the side of the springform pan.

Bake the cheesecake until the edges are set but the center still jiggles, about 50 minutes – 1 hour. Turn off oven. Spray a knife with cooking spray and run it around the edge of the cake (I did not do the knife part and it worked out okay…) Let stand in the oven, with door ajar, for 1 hour. Transfer from the water bath to a wire rack; remove foil. Let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Refrigerate, uncovered, until chilled.

Before serving, garnish as you like (whipped cream, chocolate covered coffee beans, chocolate drizzle…).

Makes 16 servings

228 calories, 8 g fat, 27 mg cholesterol, 33 g carbohydrate, 10 g protein, 2 g fiber, 310 mg sodium

Sugar High Friday #27: Dark Chocolate Creme Brulee January 22, 2007

Posted by Sarah in Desserts.

dark choc creme brulee 1

This weekend my husband and our guy friends left town to gather at another friend’s house for their quarterly “Guy’s Weekend.” That meant that the females of our group gathered at my house for a “Girl’s Weekend.” And it just isn’t a great “Girl’s Weekend” without a rich chocolate dessert. So, I decided to make a dark chocolate creme brulee.

On Thursday, I went to Hy-vee and shopped for my chocolate. Since it didn’t call for pounds of chocolate (like when I made truffles) I wanted to buy something a little more expensive. I love Green and Black’s (and I probably should have bought that…) but for some reason I saw the Lindt Excellence 70% cocoa Dark Chocolate Bars on sale and went for those instead. I had never had it before and decided to try something new. It actually was pretty good, I don’t really have complaints about the chocolate … just read on…

the dark chocolate

There is a restaurant in town that my girlfriends and I love (the guys hate it calling it pretentious and overpriced with minuscule portions) called The Cafe. They offer a lot of organic and locally grown food and have amazing desserts. Awhile back we had a dark chocolate creme brulee that was fantastic. I was trying to imitate it with this recipe, but … I’m sad to say … I failed horribly.

I looked on-line and found several recipes. I thought the one shown above sounded pretty good, so I decided to go with it. It had a full 12 oz. of chocolate to 10 yolks and 3 cups of cream (plus other ingredients). So, on Friday night I set to work. I heated the cream, added flavorings, tempered the eggs before adding them to the cream; and all seemed well when they were put in the fridge to chill.

This was my first attempt ever at a creme brulee and I didn’t realize how finicky they are. This is not to say that I am not a fault here; I really should have read a little more about creme brulee before trying to make it. Maybe I should have followed the recipe more exactly, too. But, I over-baked them and I think I should have used less chocolate (hard to imagine, I know). They turned out more like a thick ganache than a light, creamy dark chocolate custard with a crisp sugar top.

dark choc creme brulee 3

This isn’t to say that what I made wasn’t tasty. It just wasn’t creme brulee. And, it was extremely rich so you couldn’t have more than a few spoonfuls at a time. Thankfully, my creme brulee failure did not dampen our girlie weekend. We shopped, ate chips and candy, watched movies, talked and played the Friends Scene-It game.

Don’t worry, this is not the end of my dark chocolate creme brulee making. I will get it right and I’m sure it will be amazing when I do. Maybe that’s what we’ll have next Girl’s Weekend…

Slashfood’s Nut Day: Chocolate-Pecan Pie Bars November 18, 2006

Posted by Sarah in Desserts.
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As a kid, I never really liked pecan pie. When I became a teenage and started working as a dietary aide in a nursing home we had pecan pie too. But I still hated it because it always seemed to stick to the pie plates. They were so awful to clean. Once you have to clean 10-12 stuck on pecan pie plates, it makes you not want to eat pecan pie.


It wasn’t until later in life that I decided to give pecan pie another try. Now, I love it (as long as it isn’t too sweet). So, I decided to combine my new-found love for pecan pie with my old love of chocolate. I have had chocolate-pecan pie bars before and sometimes they can be too sweet for my tastes. So, I decided to take The New Best Recipe’s pecan pie bar recipe and tweak it a little bit. It turned out great. These bars are not too sweet and even have a slight salty-caramel-y kick. When I took them into work the next day, I put them in the lounge and they were gone within the hour. Of course, as I have said before, teachers will eat anything, but these were really good! I used bittersweet chocolate in these bars but I think semisweet would work well in them too. Enjoy!


Chocolate-Pecan Pie Bars


Adapted from a recipe from The New Best Recipe

Crust Ingredients

1 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces


4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup light corn syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 tablespoon bourbon (they also suggest trying dark rum)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 3/4 cups pecans, toasted, chopped coarse

4-6 oz. coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate (or you could use semisweet)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×9 square baking pan with foil making sure there is some overhang (so you can lift out the bars to cut them). Spray the foil with cooking spray.

Put the flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, and pecans in a blender or food processor. Process the mixture until it resembles coarse cornmeal, then add the butter and pulse until combined. Pat the mixture into the pan and bake the crust for 20 minutes, until golden.

While the crust is baking, mix up the filling. Whisk together everything but the eggs, pecans and chocolate. Add the egg and whisk until combined.

When the crust is done, pour the filling over the hot crust. Sprinkle the pecans and chocolate evenly over the top. Gently push the topping down into the filling. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool the bars in the pan on a wire rack or trivet for 1 hour. Lift the bars out of the pan and cut into bars.


Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies October 27, 2006

Posted by Sarah in Desserts.

As I’ve said before, The New Best Recipe is one of my favorite cookbooks … well, really I love Cook’s Magazine and many of the cookbooks they put out.  I decided to try their Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe for my husband on his birthday.  My husband really love cookies and bars, which is why I have been making so many of them lately.

These cookies are best baked  15-16 minutes , unless you like them crispier, then bake them 2 minutes longer (although I suppose it does depend on your oven, too).  They are chewy and slightly over-sized.  This recipe makes anywhere between 15-18 big cookies, depending on how big you like them.


2 cups + 2 Tablespoons (10 5/8 oz) unbleached flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled until just warm

1 cup packed (7 oz) light or dark brown sugar

1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) granulated sugar

1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 bag semisweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease 2-3 cookie sheets.

2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl.

3. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix both sugars and the butter.  Beat in the egg and extra yolk, and vanilla until combined.  Add the dry ingredients and beat on low until just combined.  Stir in the chips. Let the dough sit for 3-5 minutes to firm up a bit.
4.  Roll a scant 1/4 cup of dough into a ball.  Pull the ball apart, rotate the jagged sides to the top side of the cookie, and smoosh the two pieces back together.  Put on the sheet jagged side up.  This makes them look really pretty when they are done.  Space them 2-3 inches apart.

5. Bake until the cookies are light golden brown, the edges are starting to harden, and the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 – 18 minutes.  Halfway through the baking time, rotate the sheets front to back and top to bottom.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheets.  Remove them from the sheets with a wide metal spatula.


Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies October 1, 2006

Posted by Sarah in Desserts, Uncategorized.

On Wednesday, I made one of my very favorite cookies (Chocolate Chocolate Chip) from one of my very favorite cookbooks (The New Best Recipe).  I made the cookies for a martial arts friend of mine, but also for my husband.  And, since the recipe makes so many cookies, I took some to work the next day too.  These cookies are very rich.  They have a deep chocolate flavor (enhanced by a little bit of espresso powder or instant coffee) and are deliciously chewy.  I modified the recipe a bit due to not having certain ingredients and they turned out very well.  I would say this is the best batch of these cookies I have made yet.  A few tips:  Do not over-mix these cookies or they will get cakey.  Do not over-bake these cookies.  When you take them out, they will seem under-baked, however, they will firm up as they cool.     

extreme-close-up-1.jpg     cookies-1-1.jpg



2 cups flour

1/2 cup cocoa (preferably Dutch processed)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

16 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

An additional bag of chocolate chips (I usually use semi-sweet, although mini-semi-sweets were what I used in this recipe.  You could also use milk chocolate or white chocolate chips if you wanted)

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup white sugar


Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 1 minute.  Stir, heat for 30 seconds longer and stir again until smooth. 

Lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl, then sprinkle the espresso powder over to dissolve, set aside.

Beat the butter at medium speed for 5 seconds, until smooth and creamy.  Beat in the sugars until combined (45 sec), the mixture will look granular.  Reduce speed to low and gradually add the eggs until incorporated (45 sec).  Add the melted chocolate in a steady stream beating until combined (40 sec).  Scrape the sides and bottom with a rubber spatula.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix until almost combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Do NOT over-beat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for about 30 -45 minutes until the dough is firmer.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Scoop the dough onto baking sheets with a 1 3/4 inch ice cream scoop, spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart.

Bake until the edges of the cookies have just begun to set but the centers are still very soft, about 10 minutes.  Rotate the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking time.  Cool the cookies on the sheets about 10 minutes, then carefully remove the cookies to wire racks and cool to room temperature. 

Store in an air-tight container for 2-3 days, if they last that long… Enjoy!