Friday, May 25, 2012

Meyer Lemon Bundt Cake

This cake is unbelievably moist and crazy good. 
 The secret ingredient is Greek yogurt, and the star fruit is the Meyer Lemon.
I only make this cake when I can get my hands on Meyer Lemons.  I get my Meyer Lemons from one of my managers at the bookstore, whose last name happens to be Myers.  I'll leave work with an enormous bag of these guys, and my coworkers will ask, "What are those?"
"Meyer lemons from Susan."
"So...they're Myer lemons? "  And then they'll give me a look.
"Yes, they are, but they're not named after Susan and her family."  And then they tune me out and keep working.  There's no time for lemon talk in a busy bookstore.

What is a Meyer Lemon?

A Meyer Lemon is not like any old lemon.  It's believed to be a cross between a typical lemon and a mandarin orange.  Their rinds even have a bit of an orange tint.  They're not as acidic as your average lemon, so they shouldn't be substituted for lemons in really sweet lemon desserts, like Lemon Bars.  Learned that lesson.
They're perfect in a dessert like this, and I think you'll agree.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees!

Put some beautiful plain Greek yogurt in a large mixing bowl.

Dump in some sugar...

Crack in the eggs...

Add the zest of a large Meyer Lemon or two small Meyer lemons, and vanilla extract.  

Whisk it all together and it looks like this!  At this point I added in the salt and the baking powder because I'm a rule breaker. 

Dump in the flour...

Whisk in the flour.  At this point you might taste the batter and think, "Something is missing, but I don't know what it is."
It's butter.  Butter is missing.  It's always butter.

A stick of melted butter will do the trick!

Pour the melted butter into the batter...

Fold the melted butter into the batter...and the batter is done!

Get out your trusty Bundt pan.  

This is my beautiful Heritage Bundt pan.  I am obsessed with it.  The little pointy edges of the mold make crusty, dry little corners on the finished cake, but it's so pretty I'm willing to overlook it.  What does that say about me?

Grease/flour your bundt pan and bake it for about 40 minutes.  My oven runs hot (I know, I know, but I'm going to keep telling you), so you might want to put it in for another 5 to 10 minutes.  


You're going to make a simple syrup of sugar and Meyer lemon juice to pour over the cake while it's still warm.  

Combine equal parts lemon juice and sugar, and melt it over medium/medium-low heat until the sugar has completely melted and it turns into a syrup.

This syrup is what makes the cake.  It gives it a tart, sweet, deliciously Lemony edge.  Enough adjectives? 

Now for the glaze...

Dump the powdered sugar in a small mixing bowl and squeeze in a couple of tablespoons of Lemon juice.

Stir it up and it forms a glaze!  I don't have a picture of me squeezing the lemon juice into the powdered sugar...
because I HATE squeezing lemons for lemon juice.  It kills me.  The seeds get everywhere and land in the glaze...
Honestly, it's just easier if you don't see me like that.  You don't want to.

Take your cake out of the bundt pan once the pan has cooled.

Put it on a metal rack over either a paper towel or a sheet pan.

Pour the syrup you made over the cake and let it soak.  Not all of it will absorb, but that's okay.  My Ninja Blender is in the background.  Sigh. It's perfect.

Now pour the glaze onto the cake! Be happy!

Isn't that beautiful?

Cut yourself a massive slice and feel accomplished for making an incredibly moist, delicious Meyer Lemon Bundt Cake!

This is lekker and perfect for summer.

Enjoy, guys!


The Recipe:

1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
zest of 2 Meyer Lemons
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1 stick melted butter

for the syrup:
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar

for the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine Yogurt, sugar, eggs, zest and vanilla extract until creamy.  Then add the salt, baking powder and flour until combined.
Melt one stick of butter, pour it into the batter and fold in with a rubber spatula.  
Grease a bundt pan and pour the batter in.  Bake for 40-50 minutes, depending on the heat of your oven.

While the cake is baking, heat sugar and lemon over medium-low heat until the sugar has dissolved completely and it forms a syrup.  Set aside.

Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small mixing bowl and combine to form a glaze.  Set aside.

Remove the cake from your bundt pan once the pan has cooled.  
While the cake is warm, put it on a metal rack over a paper towel or a sheet pan and pour the simple syrup over the cake and let it absorb.
Once absorbed, pour the glaze over the cake.  It's done!  Cut a gigantic slice and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Sad Cafe

This is the first post I've done that doesn't have a recipe, but I think it's time for me to branch out.
That said, I'm working on a whole new crop of recipes for the next month or two, and I'm really excited about them.

So, today I went to Sweet Tomatoes with my good friend, Katie.  I thought, "Oh, this'll be wonderful.  I'll get a nice big salad and then have a small bowl of mac and cheese.  Good, this is so good.  I'll be reasonable and healthy and fit."

I got a big leafy salad with vinegar and some shredded carrot...pretty healthy, right?  Here's my salad:

Oh and I had scallions!  That really was delicious.
Katie got stuff from the salad bar, too.  There's a bit of a photo progression going from me taking a photo of my salad to me taking a photo of hers.

Here's the first:

Is that Katie hiding her salad in the background? But...why is she hiding her salad?

Here's her salad:

Her salad consisted of:
Shredded Carrot
Pasta salad
Parmesan Croutons
Shredded Cheese
Wonton Strips
Sunflower Seeds

It has been this way since we were about 14 or 15, and I love it.  It's still the same nearly 5 years later.  I really, really love it.  
Because I was so full from my leafy, healthy salad I ate: two bowls of Mac and Cheese, 4 pieces of sourdough bread, 5 little pieces of focaccia pizza bread, and a piece of molten lava cake (which was so fresh it literally felt like lava when it went down my throat).  So I am the rational one. 

Salads and food coma aside, Katie told me about her excellent idea to start up a cafe called "The Sad Cafe."  You'd basically go there to commiserate and feel sad, but ultimately it would make you feel better about life because everyone would be sad with you.  It would be in rainy Seattle.  I would have a quarter sleeve tattoo, a nose ring, and purple in my hair.  I would do all the baking and Katie would run the business.  We would serve the customers Sadwiches (sandwiches), Cries (fries), and Frownies (brownies).  

"Can I have the Caprese Sadwich, Cries, and one of those Frownies, please?"

A wonderful day.  I hope your day was wonderful, too.  

I'll be posting a bunch of new recipes soon, but in the mean time, I suggest you go to a good restaurant with a close friend, talk for hours, and remember why you were friends with him or her in the first place.  

Oh and I found out that I say "cup measure" instead of
"measuring cup."  Thank you, Dad for passing that on.  Also, thank you Oma for passing that on to him. 

But cup measure sounds normal to me! 


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I feel like this picture speaks for itself.

But I'm going to write more anyway.

My Aunt Jodie has always made the best chocolate chip cookies in the world.  They're gigantic, doughy, and crumbly...and God's gift to the world.    
I asked my mom if she thought Aunt Jodie would ever give me the recipe, and she said no.  So I went about my life for years thinking that Aunt Jodie would never give me the recipe.  I kept thinking about all of the extra sugar and butter she put into the recipe, all of the secret methods she employed to make those cookies so magical.
But then one day, I took my life into my own hands and something miraculous happened.

Me: "Aunt Jodie, would you ever maybe consider giving me your chocolate cookie recipe? I promise I won't tell anyone about it.  I swear."
Aunt Jodie: "Yeah, sure.  There's nothing to it, really.  I just do a variation of the Toll House recipe."
Me: "Oh."

I've changed the baking temperature, the time it takes to bake them...and I've added chocolate chunks.  Chocolate chunks are essential to these cookies, in my opinion.  I never make these cookies without them.  I mean, you can do whatever you want, but chunks are the best.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  

Put some softened butter in a large mixing bowl.  Yes, I microwave my butter to soften it.  Everything will be okay, I promise.

Dump in the granulated sugar and the light brown sugar.  It's really important that you use light brown sugar instead of dark brown sugar. 
I accidentally made these with dark brown sugar once.
They're not even the same cookies.  It blows my mind.

Cream the butter and sugars together until fluffy.

Whisk in the eggs...

One at a time...

Until it looks like diz.

Now you add the salt, baking soda, and vanilla.

  Now you're going to add in a the flour a leetle bit at a time.  This recipe calls for a lot of flour, so feel free to enlist a big strong guy to help you incorporate that last bit of the stuff.

I did not take a picture of the next step because it's the magic little addition that makes these cookies unique.  Actually, I didn't think you'd see much in a picture, but still, it's a magical little step.
After you add the first two cups of flour you add a tablespoon/spoonful of water to the dough.  I'm not sure exactly what it does, but Aunt Jodie does it, so I'm doing it.
If she told me to jump off a cliff, would I do it?

The dough should be pretty thick.

The spoon will stick straight up in the dough.  I was having fun with perspective.

These are chocolate chunks.  They are magical and I love them.  If you absolutely have to you can use semisweet chocolate chips, but why would you?
These are beautiful and pure and everything I want in life.  You want them in your life, too.  

Dump in the glorious chocolate chunks...

Use some elbow grease and really get those chunks combined.  You want a good amount of chocolate in every cookie.  I cannot even express to you the depth of my sadness at the thought of a cookie with too few chocolate chunks. 

These cookies are going to be huge.  That's part of what makes them so delicious.  This batch will make about 19 cookies.  Lately, I've been making 17 cookies out of a dough that should make about 52.  But if you're going to eat a chocolate chunk cookie, you might as well eat a chocolate chunk cookie, you know?  So just really make them large; you'll be happy you did.  
Flatten the dough out a little bit, too.

My oven runs pretty warm (I'm a broken record), and I put these in for about 15 minutes so they get nice and golden brown.
You want them to look like this:

Oh, baby.  Look at that hand.  


I'm just going to take one of these.

They're the best right out of the oven.  They're great all the time, but they're at their absolute best right out of the oven.  
These kill me...I love them so much.
These will ruin you because other cookies will never taste as good as these.  
Everyone will dub you the chocolate chip/chunk cookie Queen/King.  
Thank you, Aunt Jodie for giving me the recipe for your lekker chocolate chip cookies.

Make sure you use the chocolate chunks, though. 


Here's the recipe:

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

2 sticks butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup LIGHT brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Almost 3 cups of flour.  Not very scientific, but that's what I was told.  Go just under 3 cups of flour.  
1 tbsp water
1 bag (2 cups) of semisweet chocolate chunks/chips. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put two sticks of softened butter in a large mixing bowl.  Add in the sugars and cream until fluffy.  
Whisk the eggs in one at a time.  Then add the vanilla, salt and baking soda.  
Now add the flour in small increments.  *After you add the first two cups of flour, add in a tablespoon/spoonful of water.  
Once all of the flour has been incorporated add in the chocolate chunks.  Incorporate well.
Grease a cookie sheet and place huge piece of flattened cookie dough onto the sheet (about 9 per cookie sheet).  Bake for about 15 minutes, until nice and golden brown.
Try not to eat five at one time.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Best Brownies in the World

These brownies are abnormally delicious. 

But I'll admit that for a very long time I believed that homemade brownies were pretty disappointing--there was too much butter or the chocolate flavor wasn't what I expected.  Plus, they just weren't as fudgy and as wonderful as, say, those triple-chocolate chunk brownies you buy at the store.  From a mix.  You know what I'm talking about.

I swore to myself that if I made homemade brownies that they would have both cocoa powder and your basic semisweet chocolate.  They would be just as good as the boxed kind.  But let me tell you--these are better than the boxed kind.  Much better than the boxed kind.

I got my chocolate for these at the super-ritzy grocery store near my house.  They're the kind of store where the bag boy says, "Is paper okay?" ...I know how expensive it is, but honestly, I love going there so I can walk through their fancy cheese aisle.  They aren't quite Whole Foods or Trader Joe's--but my God they have a huge selection of cheese.  It's embarrassing how much I like it.  
They also happen to be the only store in my area that sells chocolate chunks.  Those I absolutely need for my Chocolate Chunk cookies, which are sinful.  I will be sharing those with you soon, you lucky people.

So, please preheat your oven to 325.  The low temperature really makes these. But I have a feeling my oven runs hot (maybe you've heard me lament about this before), so if they need to be in for longer, it's all good.

Break the semisweet chocolate into big chunks and throw it in a bowl with some cubed butter.  

I don't have a double-boiler and I really don't think I'd use it if I did--I microwave my chocolate and butter, and it turns out just fine.     A double boiler is this contraption that has a glass bowl/pot over simmering water--they're used because it's a far more gentle process than microwaving the chocolate and it won't scorch the it.  But then again, it's not like I put the chocolate in the microwave for 5 minutes.  That would be stupid.  So pop it in the microwave for about 30 seconds at 50%.  
And if the chocolate hasn't melted go ahead and put it in for another 15 seconds.  However, even if the chocolate doesn't look melted enough, just stir it around and I can almost guarantee you it'll be plenty smooth in about 5 seconds.

Dump the ridiculous amount of sugar into the chocolate/butter mixture...

Crack in the eggs and whisk them into the chocolate/sugar mixture.

It kind of looks like a batter now!

Add the cocoa, vanilla, and a tiny pinch of salt.

The lighting is much better in this picture, I approve.  So, while you admire the light that's coming through the window, dump in the flour.  

And once you combine all the flour, you'll have a nice, sturdy brownie batter.  It'll be thicker than the kind from the box.

Add in the chocolate chunks.  I used half of a huge 7 oz Hershey's chocolate bar, and it was the best thing in the world.  You can use whatever kind of chocolate you want.  Or you could leave it out, but I don't know why you would.  It's more delicious this way.

Pour it into the pan and then spread it around so it's smooth on top.

Now, guys, here comes the best part about these brownies. I want you to be ready.  

You're going to sprinkle a little bit of Kosher salt onto these bad boys (or you can use coarse sea salt).  The crunchy, salty topping is ridiculously delicious.  You just have to trust me, even if you think it's weird.  It's just so, so good.  Just a little will do, no need to go crazy.

You're going to bake them for about 40 minutes at 325.  The low temperature creates that crinkly brownie crust on the top.  Mine were perfect when I put a toothpick in the center and only a little bit of batter was on the toothpick.  They're best when slightly underdone.

And behold! Little tester marks in the center of the brownies!
No, but really, these are so perfect.  Just look at how much they look like the boxed mix!  I'm too impressed with myself, but I just hated homemade brownies so much that these are a revelation.

Cut yourself a nice big piece and behold its beauty. Look at it from this angle!

And look at it at this angle!  I want one of these so, so badly.  They were full of sin and decadence and happiness.  And chocolate.
You will be so impressed with yourself when you make these.  
Such lekker brownies.  


Here's the recipe:

1 stick of butter
4oz Semisweet chocolate
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 c flour
3.4-7 oz of Milk chocolate chunks (I used Hershey's chocolate bars), depending on how much chocolate you want in your brownies
Kosher Salt/Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 325.

Cut the butter and semisweet chocolate into chunks and microwave them in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds on 50% heat.  If it doesn't look melted enough put it in for another 15 seconds.  If it still doesn't look melted enough, just stir it and it will melt just fine.
Transfer the chocolate/butter mixture into a larger bowl and dump in the sugar.  Combine.
Add in the eggs one at a time.  Then add in the cocoa, pinch of salt, and vanilla.
Dump in the flour and combine.  Cut the milk chocolate bar into chunks and fold it into the batter.
Grease a small baking pan and spread the brownie batter into the pan.  Sprinkle with coarse salt.  
Bake at 425 for 40 minutes.  They're done when you stick a toothpick in the center and only a small amount of batter remains on the toothpick.  They're best a little underdone.
Cut a huge piece and enjoy it!