Monthly Archives: May 2016

Another Graduation Weekend

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This weekend was all about family. Although sadly, there was a funeral, we also celebrated an amazing young man in our family, Steve Perkins. Truly blessed and thankful to be asked to be the mistress of ceremony at my cousin’s graduation luncheon! Congratulations and much love to Steve, who graduated Magna Cum Laude with a full ride scholarship to West Point.

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The Lobbyist

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I write to regain my bearings and reboot. It’s just not that serious our crazy life issues, right? I was a smoker when I wrote this poem. I guess The Lobbyist will be happy to know I gave up that bad habit! Poetry keeps me sane…

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The Lobbyist

This woman at an elevator
Was lobbying against my smoke
The ash cans didn’t count for starting up
But putting out the choking fumes
I forced upon her

Not goodwill, money or sex
Could be extorted from that soul
No secret smiles of afterglow
Or posture of secured future
Friendship brings no floor
To hear the lobbyist

Her ride up was too slow
Then, she stopped short of the number
Pushed too hard and caused a shaft
To break her lift
That swayed her against me
Against us all

Lemon Chocolate Pie

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Where most lemon pies are single crusted affairs, this pie is double crusted with a thick, sweet lemon filling that’s similar to the pudding-like innards of a Lemon Meringue. Once the pie is baked and cooled, its top is covered with what amounts to chocolate frosting.

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Ingredients

For the Filling
5 large egg yolks
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cups cornstarch
1/3 cups cold water
1 1/2 cups very hot water
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh juice from 6 to 8 lemons
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Crust
2 unbaked pie crusts (I used the Food Lab’s Easy Pie Crust)
1 egg white
For the Chocolate Topping
5 ounces 72% cacao chocolate
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon dark corn syrup

Directions

1.
Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 400°F. Whisk together egg yolks in a medium bowl and set aside. In a medium saucepan, mix together the sugar and cornstarch. Add cold water and stir to moisten. Then add hot water, while stirring, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Mixture will begin to turn translucent and thicken. When mixture begins to bubble lightly, remove from heat. Stir in melted butter. Add egg yolks while whisking constantly. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract whisking until thoroughly combined. Place in refrigerator to cool, about 15 minutes.

2.
Roll out crusts. For a 9-inch pan your bottom crust should be around 11 inches in diameter. Place bottom crust in pie pan or dish. Pour in cooled pie filling. Place rolled out top crust over filled pie. Seal and flute edges. Cut several slits in the top of the pie to vent then brush entire top crust with egg white and bake for 20 minutes. Turn oven down to 375°F and bake for an additional 15 to 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Remove pie from oven and cool completely.

3.
Combine chocolate and butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds and then stir, repeat, heating in 15 second increments until butter is just melted and smooth. Stir in corn syrup. Set mixture aside until it is only slightly warm to touch.

4.
Pour chocolate mixture over cooled pie and spread to completely cover the top of the pie. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Store covered.

Velvety Dark Chocolate Pudding With Candied Orange Peel

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I wouldn’t call myself a pudding connoisseur. My experience with pudding falls somewhere in between Jello and Magic Moments. I know what I like, chocolate before caramel then vanilla, this is to be true. This recipe for chocolate pudding is equal parts science and delicious. You start with a liquid consisting of milk, sugar, chocolate, cornstarch, and eggs, then science does its thing, like science does, and then you have pudding. Unbelievable! Alright, there’s a little more to it than science. A little magic as well. Enjoy!

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Ingredients

2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
2 tbsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tbsp corn starch
1/3 cup cream
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1 cup bitter sweet chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp butter, unsalted
1 tsp orange extract
candied orange peel

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Directions

1. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of milk, sugar, and salt to a simmer on low-medium heat.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the cocoa powder, corn starch, and cream. Whisk the corn powder slurry into the warm milk.

3. In a small bowl, beat the 2 egg yolks and the one egg. Slowly add a ladle of the warm milk to the eggs and whisk. You want to warm the eggs. Whisk the eggs into the milk mixture.

4. Bring the pudding to a boil until one or two bubbles start popping. Reduce the heat and continue whisking the pudding until it reaches the consistency of a creamy soup.

5. Once the pudding has reached the consistency of thick soup, remove it from the heat. Microwave the chocolate and butter until slightly melted. Whisk into the pudding, followed by the orange extract.

6. Pour the pudding through a fine strainer, if you prefer no lumps. I omitted this stage, because I am straight up lazy.

7. Pour the pudding into serving glasses or dishes. The pudding should be easy to pour and start to thicken if not stirred. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. If you don’t like the pudding skin, then make sure the piece of plastic wrap is touching the pudding. When you remove the plastic, you will also remove the pudding skin.

8. Garnish with candied orange peel.

Chocolate-Bourbon-Butterscotch Icebox Cake

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Elegant, showstopper desserts don’t come much easier than this. Each slice resembles fine pastry.

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Ingredients

1/2 cup cornstarch
3 cups milk
4 large eggs
1/2 cup butter
2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup bourbon
64 chocolate wafers (about 1 1/2 [9-oz.] packages)
Sweetened Whipped Cream
Garnish: crushed chocolate wafers

Directions

1. Place cornstarch in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in milk and eggs.

2. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat, and stir in brown sugar. Cook, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes or until mixture bubbles and becomes shiny.

3. Gradually whisk cream into butter mixture. (Mixture will bubble and clump but will get smooth as it cooks.) Cook, whisking constantly, 4 to 5 minutes or until smooth.

4. Gradually whisk about one-fourth of hot butter mixture into egg mixture, 1/2 cup at a time. Gradually add egg mixture to remaining hot butter mixture, whisking constantly.

5. Increase heat to medium-high. Add vanilla and salt, and cook, whisking constantly, about 5 minutes or until mixture thickens and just begins to bubble. Remove from heat, and stir in bourbon. Place plastic wrap directly onto warm filling (to prevent a film from forming). Cool completely (about 2 hours).

6. Place 16 cookies in a single layer on bottom of a 9-inch square pan. Spread 1 1/2 cups pudding over cookies. Repeat layers 3 times, using remaining pudding on top layer. Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours. Just before serving, top with Sweetened Whipped Cream.

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes with Ganache Frosting

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These Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes are super moist, fluffy, and richly chocolatey. The velvety ganache frosting is perfect, while zucchini lends moisture and some veggie power!

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Ingredients

Cupcake Batter:
1 cups all purpose flour
1¼ cups granulated sugar
¼ cup + 2 TB unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp instant coffee granules (decaf is fine)
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp table salt
2 large eggs
½ cup + 2 TB canola oil
1½ cups finely grated zucchini, loosely packed
1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (mini’s are best, as they melt into the cake well)

Orange-Ganache Frosting:
4½ oz semi sweet chocolate morsels
½ cup heavy cream
2 tsp orange extract
Optional: shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened) for garnish

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Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F, with rack on lower middle position. Line or grease a standard muffin pan. Set aside.

2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, coffee granules, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine well.

3. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add oil, zucchini, and mini chocolate chips. Stir to combine well.

4. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold together the flour mixture with the egg mixture. Fold gently just until no more dry streaks of flour remain; do not overmix. Bake 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few tender crumbs attached (be sure to test in a cake-only spot; cracked spots tend to be misleading, since melted chocolate chips sit in those cracks.) Cool cupcakes completely.

5. Meanwhile, make the Ganache: In a heavy saucepan, add chocolate morsels and heavy cream. Constantly stir on low heat until smooth and melted. Add orange extract and stir until combined. Remove from heat and let cool enough for ganache to thicken to a frost-able consistency. Frost as desired and sprinkle with shredded coconut.

Boston Cream Cupcakes

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If you like Boston Cream Pie, you’ll flip over these yummy Boston Cream Cupcakes! Tender, moist, and filled with golden custard.

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Ingredients

For the Pastry Cream:
1⅓ cups heavy cream
3 egg yolks
⅓ cup granulated sugar
⅛ tsp salt
4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 2 pieces
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Cupcakes:
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 12 pieces
3 eggs
¾ cup whole milk
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Glaze:
¾ cup heavy cream
¼ cup light corn syrup
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

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Directions

1. Make the Pastry Cream: Heat the heavy cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the cornstarch and whisk until the mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 15 seconds.

2. When the cream reaches a full simmer, slowly whisk it into the yolk mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it’s a thick pudding consistency, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla extract until the butter is completely melted. Transfer the pastry cream to a small bowl and press plastic wrap directly on the surface. Refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

3. Make the Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt on medium-low speed. Add the butter and mix until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add the eggs, gently mixing until incorporated. Add the milk and vanilla extract; to avoid splatter, blend on low and then increase to medium, mixing until light and fluffy and no lumps remain, about 3 minutes, stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl halfway through. Batter will be almost a bit “foamy” to the touch.

4. Fill the muffin cups three-quarters full and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 19-20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. Make the Glaze: Combine the heavy cream, corn syrup, chocolate and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. Set the glaze aside to cool and thicken at room temperature at least 1 hour (I let mine sit longer to thicken to a frosting consistency. Chill in fridge a bit, if needed.)

6. Assemble the Cupcakes: Using a paring knife, cut into the center of the cupcake at a 45-degree angle about ⅛-inch from the edge and cut all the way around. Remove the cone and cut away all but the top ¼ inch, leaving a small disk of cake.

7. Fill the inside of each cupcake with room-temp pastry cream and top with the disk of cake. Spread the chocolate glaze over top of each cupcake, covering the top completely. Refrigerate the cupcakes until the glaze is set, about 10 minutes. Serve at room temp.

Sunday Reflections

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Happy Sunday and wishing you an amazing week!

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