Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes

I found this here online after listening to a very cool podcast. The frosting is wonderful, but it doesn’t harden. Yields 20-24 cupcakes.

3 T Dutch-process cocoa powder (3 Esslöffel)
1/4 c hot water (50 ml)
1 1/4 c flour (173 g)
1/2 tsp baking powder (1/2 Teelöffel)
1/2 tsp baking soda (1/2 TL Natron)
1/4 tsp salt (1/4 TL)
4 oranges, zested
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 c granulated sugar (158 g)
1/2 c buttermilk, at room temperature (100 ml)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (1/2 TL)
1/4 c butter, melted and cooled to room temperature (55 g)

4 oz bittersweet baking chocolate (113 g; Am besten wäre normale Schokolade mit hohem Kakaoinhalt – mindestens 72%.)
2/3 c butter, at room temperature (146 g)
1 1/3 c confectioners’ sugar (190 g)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners. In a small bowl, stir the cocoa powder into the hot water until it dissolves; set aside. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a bowl. Grate the zest from the orange into the bowl. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar until well combined. Whisk in the buttermilk and vanilla, then the dissolved cocoa. Whisk in the melted butter, then the dry ingredients.

3. Using a tablespoon, divide the batter among the muffin cups filling each about half full. Bake until the cupcakes are puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean 15-20 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Remove the cupcakes from the pan.

4. To make the frosting, melt the chocolate and let cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, using a stand mixer, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar with the paddle on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate until combined. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch star tip with the frosting and pipe a spiral on top of each cupcake.

Orange Spice Cookies

We found this recipe over at recipezaar, but it didn’t appear to be complete, so we had to make parts of it up alone. Turned out great! These are nice for people with egg allergies, since there is not a single egg in these cookies. Of course, there are plenty of wheat and almonds, so watch out for those.

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup almonds, finely chopped
3 tablespoons orange zest, grated
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons orange juice
sliced almonds

1. Preheat oven to 350°F Beat shortening and butter at medium speed until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well.

2. Add chopped almonds and orange zest, beating well.

3. Sift the dry ingredients together and then combine thoroughly with the other mixture.

4. Roll dough into 1-inch balls; place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until lightly browned on the bottom. Cool slightly on baking sheet; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

5. Combine confectioners’ sugar, marmalade and orange juice; stir well. Spread on cookies and garnish with sliced almonds.

Bread Pudding

In an effort to explain the difference between the meanings of ‘pudding’ in American and British English, Cliff and I took a trip to wikipedia, where we learned more about pudding than I ever thought possible. And there, nestled among the (surprisingly diverse) lists of puddings, was bread pudding. So I searched out a recipe — and it turned out fabulous!

3 cups milk, scalded and cooled
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup brandy or water
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
8-10 slices dry bread, cut into bite-sized chunks
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325°F. Scald (heat to just before boiling) milk and set aside to cool – milk must not be hot when used. Cover raisins with brandy or water and set aside.

Combine brown sugar, cinnamon and allspice in a large mixing bowl. Add bread chunks and pour melted butter over bread. Stir bread and brown sugar mixture until bread chunks are well coated (the butter helps the sugar stick to the bread). Place half of the bread chunks in a greased 9×13. Drain the raisins and sprinkle them over the bread in the pan. Add other half of bread mixture to pan.

Combine egg, salt and vanilla in a bowl and beat for one minute. Gradually beat cooled milk into egg mixture. Pour egg mixture over bread chunks and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Sprinkle any brown sugar that didn’t adhere to bread over the top and bake for 50-55 minutes.

Apple Crisp

We’re big apple crisp fans – because pies scare me (as does anything with dough). I got this recipe from a cookbook that Rose gave us for our anniversary. After a couple of adjustments to the original, I think our version is ready to go public.

8 Granny Smith apple, cored, chopped and peeled
1 tsp salt
1 T cinnamon
3/4 c water

1 c (138 g) flour
3/4 c (158 g) sugar
1 T cinnamon
1/3 c (73 g) butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Place apple pieces in 9×13 pan. Sprinkle salt, cinnamon and water over the apples. Cut together all ingredients for topping until crumbly. Sprinkle topping evenly over apples. Bake for 1 hour.

Chocolate Cake

Sometimes, you just need chocolate cake. The German and American concepts of ‘cake’ differ pretty radically – to the extent that getting unsweetened baking chocolate in a store is nigh on impossible. I made a few adjustments, but if you have access to goods available in American grocery stores, you can follow the instructions exactly. I’ll detail my adjustments below. The ingredients in parentheses are metric for our European friends.

2 c flour (275 g)
2 c granulated sugar (420 g minus 8 EL)
1/4 tsp (Teelöffel) salt
4 oz unsweetened cacao chips (110 g)
1 c water (250 ml)
1/2 c butter (110 g)
1 c sour cream, at room temperature (200 g)
1 tsp (Teelöffel) vanilla extract
1 1/2 (Teelöffel) tsp baking soda (Natriumbikarbonat)
2 beaten eggs

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
2 c confectioners’ sugar (300 g minus 8 EL)
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 (Teelöffel) tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c milk (85 ml)
4 oz unsweetened chocolate (110 g)
1/3 c melted butter (75 ml)

Grease or line two 9-inch cake pans or one 9 x 13-inch pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In mixer, combine flour, sugar and salt. Melt chocolate with butter and water (it will look gross). Add melted chocolate mixture to flour mixture and mix lightly. Add sour cream, vanilla extract, baking soda and eggs and mix well for 2 minutes. Batter will be thin!

Pour batter into pans and bake until wooden pick inserted in middle comes out clean. Bake for 30 minutes. If using round pans, cool on rack 10 minutes and unmold cake to cake rack to cool completely before frosting.

To make frosting: In mixer, combine confectioners’ sugar, salt, vanilla extract and milk. Melt the unsweetened chocolate and add to confectioners’ sugar mixture. Slowly add melted butter and beat to spreading consistency. Frosting will be thin at first, but will stiffen upon standing as the melted ingredients cool. Ice cake using about 1/2 cup of icing between layers.

My Adjustments

I had to use semisweet baking chocolate instead of the unsweetened for which the recipe calls. It was mostly a language barrier – the package said ‘zartbitter,’ so I misinterpreted. I decided to check it by taking a nibble before I dove headlong into the baking process and thank goodness I did! I gnawed off what tasted like chocolate chips and my heart sank. Luckily, a Google search for ‘ingredient substitutions’ turned up several nice sites that showed me how to compensate. The conversion I used was to remove 2 T of sugar for every 1 2/3 oz of sweet baking chocolate used. For the cake, I ended up removing 7 T of granulated sugar.

For the frosting, I was leery of taking out sugar since it was powdered and I didn’t want to mess up the texture. I’ve had enough experience screwing up frostings. This time, we adjusted by putting 1 T of unsweetened cocoa in with the dry ingredients. This didn’t work quite as well as the adjustment with the cake did, but the frosting is edible.

Peach Cobbler

This is really good and really fast. The only thing you might not already have on hand is the fruit. Get some good, rich vanilla ice cream, and you’re home free.

6-8 large, ripe peaches, peeled (optional) and sliced
1 c brown sugar
1 c white sugar
4-5 T butter at room temperature
1 large egg
1 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C)

Put peaches into buttered 9×13. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over peaches. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and white sugar. Place egg in a measuring cup, then add enough milk to bring to 1 cup. Add egg, milk and rest of ingredients to mixing bowl and mix until well-blended. Pour mixture over peaches.

Bake for 1 hour.

Killer Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

4 eggs
1 1/4 cups (300ml) vegetable oil
2 cups (420g) white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (276g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups (720ml) grated carrots
1 cup (240ml) chopped pecans
1/2 cup (105g) butter, softened
8 ounces (227g) cream cheese, softened
4 cups (600g or less) confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch rounds or a 9×13 inch pan.

  2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Fold in pecans. Pour into prepared pan.

  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

  4. In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Stir in chopped pecans. Frost the cooled cake.

Frosting variation:
Cliff isn’t a huge fan of frostings. The amount of powdered sugar it takes to make a buttercream that will have that dry-to-the-touch, crisp-outside-creamy-inside texture makes him a little ill. And every time I made this frosting, I had way too much of it, as I always make it in a 9×13. Here’s a less sugar-intensive frosting. It will be harder to transport, as the frosting remains somewhat flowier. But I think the flavor makes up for the extra mess. And I skip the nuts, due to laziness.

85 g butter, softened
175 g cream cheese, softened
2 t vanilla extract
250-300 g powdered sugar

Blend all ingredients on medium until combined, then whip on high until completely smooth. Frost cooled cake immediately.

Butter Cake with Fruit Sauce

We adapted this recipe from Honey’s Butter Cake and Fast Blueberry Sauce at This’ll work well with all kinds of fruity sauces. We like blueberry and strawberry, but have also tried making the blueberry sauce with raspberries, which was nice (but a little seedy).

2 1/2 cups (345 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (5 ml)
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt
1 cup (219 g) butter, softened
2 cups (420 g) white sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 cup (we use 200 g) sour cream

Blueberry Sauce:
1 1/2 cups blueberries
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Strawberry Sauce:
1 pt. fresh strawberries, hulled
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch cardamom powder

1. Preheat oven to 325°F (165°C). Grease and flour a 9 inch Bundt pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition, then stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream; beat well.
3. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Blueberry Sauce:
To prepare the sauce, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix 1 1/2cups blueberries, honey and 1/4 cup orange juice. Bring to a boil. Mix remaining orange juice and cornstarch in a small bowl, and stir into the blueberry mixture. Stir constantly until thickened.

Strawberry Sauce:
Combine all ingredients in a 2 quart casserole; cover with wax paper. Stirring midway through cooking, microwave on high 4-6 minutes, or until the mixture boils and the berries begin to fall apart.

Pour the mixture into bowl of a food processor or blender, or force the berries through a sieve to puree. Chill until serving time.

Cinnamon Fluff Cake

Hope you like cinnamon — this calls for 3 Tbsp.!

Mix together thoroughly…
1/2 Cup soft shortening
2/3 Cup sugar
2 eggs
Sift together…
11/2 Cups sifted flour
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Stir in alternately with…
1 Cup sour milk

Pour into greased and floured 9″ sq. pan. Rub together 1/2 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp. butter, and 1 Tbsp. cinnamon, and sprinkle over batter. Bake. Serve with cinnamon-flavored whipped cream or Lemon Sauce. Temperature: 325°F (slow mod. oven) Time: Bake 40 to 45 min. Amount: 9 servings