Archive for April, 2014

Pipe Dream #48, Revisited: To Do More RAKs – White Chocolate Bread Pudding

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So, welcome to this week, when I finally catch you up on things I baked at Christmastime. Consider it a late gift from me. Or a really early gift. Or just a random gift, which is never a bad thing. Remember RAKs from middle school? Random Acts of Kindness?

Nice idea, usually lame execution in middle school. “Sure, I’ll sharpen your pencil for you. RAK for the day, CHECK.”

Now that I’m an adult, I can do more with the whole idea. Like go big on this bread pudding. I mean, I’m not sending you to an all-inclusive in Fiji this Wednesday, but it’s better than carrying your trapper keeper, amirite?

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I have many bread puddings in the archives. This one is standout because of the sauce. The white chocolate sauce. Get in it.

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Daintily dolloping,


White Chocolate Bread Pudding

Adapted from Serious Eats

For the bread pudding:
9 ounces crusty, day-old French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup (about 2 1/3 ounces) granulated sugar
6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
4 large yolks
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the sauce:
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped

Grease an 8-inch square pan with non-stick spray and set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F. Put the bread cubes in the greased pan.

In medium saucepan whisk milk, cream, and sugar to combine. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until scalding. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until melted and smooth. Let sit to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

In large bowl, whisk egg yolks and egg to combine. Slowly whisk in warm milk mixture to combine. Whisk in vanilla.

Pour mixture over the bread cubes into prepared pan, pressing down with hands until all the bread cubes are soaked to the max. Bake until just set, about 25 minutes. Let cool about 15 minutes before serving.

To make the sauce, heat the cream in a small saucepan until it is just simmering. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until melted and smooth. Garnish the bread pudding with the sauce and pomegranate arils or other fruit.

Brunch in L.A. is a Thing, Apparently

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So I know brunch is brunch is brunch, right? Everyone loves this marvelous mash-up meal. Sleep in, brunch your way into the afternoon, then consider  a nap. Take it, friends. Take the nap. It’s Sunday, Sabbath-day.

Not to mention the fact that the food is everything anyone ever cared about combined into one meal. Mimosas at any hour + every amazing sweet breakfast pastry + a salad if you feel like it. My three main food groups.

But in L.A., I feel like people really love brunch. Like, it is a regular, glamorous thing that people do. Maybe more so than in the Midwest. I try and do brunch as often as possible on my own terms, like this recent one which included a pannekoeken/dutch baby. (I had been waiting to try one forever. They really are a cinch to make, and they look so impressive, all puffed up like a pastry peacock.)

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But omword did I really enjoy a few restaurant brunches while on vaca. Including:


Ranunculus and San Pellegrino (because this is L.A.) and a prosciutto and Gruyère croissant.


And even this bread pudding. I know. Just stop.


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And once even crepes, my true love.

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But always coffee.

Brunching blissfully,



Pipe Dream #262: To Keep My Options Open? – Flourless PB Banana Maple Muffins

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Statement of the hour: One great thing about being gluten-free is that you don’t have to be chocolate-free.

Can I get a holler on that?

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I’m not gluten-free, but I have friends that are, and I would feel significantly worse for them if chocolate contained gluten. This recipe contains it AND peanut butter AND muffins, which are two other items that needn’t cause coeliacs regret.

These muffins are a wonder. While not the most traditionally fluffy of muffins, they are extremely moist and flavorful. I was pleasantly surprised–even if I hadn’t underbaked them, I know they wouldn’t have been dry. Plus, I can’t think of anything easier than grinding a few ingredients in a blender to taste (you can play with the sweetener, flavorings, salt, etc.).

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The maple flavoring is optional, as are the chocolate chips. But let’s be honest, when are the chocolate chips ever optional?

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Fabulous food styling by Carica. Endless obsession with chocolate chips on my table by Lauren.


Flourless PB Banana Maple Muffins

Adapted from Averie Cooks

1 medium ripe banana, peeled
1 large egg
heaping 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I used half vanilla and half maple extract)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch salt
heaping 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray mini muffin tins with non-stick spray, dust with flour, then tap out the excess.
Combine all ingredients except the chocolate chips in a blend and blend until smooth, about 1 minute.Spray a tablespoon measure with non-stick spray and use it to fill each tin about 3/4 full.
Bake for 8 to 9 minutes, or until the tops are set, domed and springy when pressed. The muffin tops will sink as they cool. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to cool on a wire rack.

Pipe Dream #261: To Be Seasonally Attractive – S’mores Skillet Pie

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I get more use out of this skillet than a lumberjack gets out of an ax.

Which reminds me, I’m kind of sad that winter is over. I mean, not really, given the polar vortexes and whatnot. (I wish they were called ‘polar vorti’ in plural like octopus/octopi.) But kind of, because people are more attractive in the winter. All the girls get more fair, and all the boys bulk up like 10 pounds because of their puffy jackets. Maybe this thought is just an overly optimistic mind trying to get the best of winter, but what does it really matter anymore?

Winter is over, which means it is practically summer, which means s’mores. So here you are.

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Crush, mix, layer, bake, snarf. Because, I’m sorry, but look at the toasted marshmallows.

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Here’s to all you seasonally attractive folks.


S’mores Skillet Pie

Adapted slightly from Tasty Kitchen

1 stick (8 tablespoons) softened butter
½ cups white sugar
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
7 ounces marshmallow creme
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup marshmallows
¼ cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F, and spray a 9″ cast iron skillet or pie pan with baking spray.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until combined, then add the egg and vanilla, beating until combined. Stir in the flour, graham cracker crumbs and baking powder.

Divide the dough in half. Press half the dough in the bottom and up the sides of the prepared skillet. Evenly spread the Marshmallow Creme over the bottom crust. Sprinkle 1 1/4 cups of the chocolate chips over the creme, then place one cup of the marshmallows on top.

Using the remaining crust, pat sections of dough on top of and around all the marshmallows. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Remove skillet from oven and set it on a wire rack. Cool completely before cutting.

Favorite Shots: A Bluebird I Saw

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Birthday morning bluebird.


Pipe Dream #260: To Have A Generous Hand – One-Hour Cinnamon Rolls

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Just figured I’d stick this shot up front. Scroll down for the recipe if you’re still living.

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This is one of the most gratifying cinnamon rolls I’ve ever come across. A lot of “quick” cinnamon rolls made with instant yeast are only called quick because they require one rise instead of two. It’s still a good two hours after the craving hits that you’ll find a roll in hand.

These little balls of joy require no rise time, relying instead on instant yeast and buttermilk for fluff. Unlike biscuit cinnamon rolls, which contain no yeast and are very fast, these rolls are more traditional and pull apart like a normal cinnamon roll. While they aren’t quite the same as the ultimate cinnamon rolls, it is the best deal I’ve found for the time required.

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I also have a liberal hand with the cream cheese frosting, for which I do not apologize. The rolls come together so quickly that I just kept making more and more frosting. Let’s call it a “generous” hand. That sounds nicer.



One-Hour Cinnamon Rolls

Adapted from Averie Cooks

For the dough:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour + extra flour if needed
1 cup buttermilk, warmed to manufacturer’s directions
2 1/4 teaspoons instant dry yeast (one 1/4-ounce packet)
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste

For the filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

For the icing:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
about 2 cups powdered sugar
about 2 to 3 tablespoons cream, half-and-half, or milk (eggnog, maple syrup, orange juice, Baileys, or Kahlua may be substituted if desired)

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 9-inch pie dish (holds about 9 large rolls).

Warm buttermilk according to the yeast manufacturer’s recommendations on the packaging. Based brand of yeast used, buttermilk temperature will vary. Mine took about 45 seconds in a glass measuring cup in the microwave before I took the temp. Err on the cool side.

Combine all dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and knead for about seven minutes, or until dough is soft, smooth, and has come together in a firm mass. If hand-kneading, you may need to knead a few minutes longer.Note – Dough should be smooth, not overly sticky, and fairly easy to handle. If your dough is very wet, moist, sticky, or gloppy, add flour in 1 tablespoon increments until it comes together easily.

Turn dough out onto a counter dusted lightly with flour. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 9 x 14 inches. Use a 9×13 pan and just eyeball it so the dough is a little longer than the pan.

To make the filling, spread butter in an even layer over the surface of the dough, leaving about 1/4-inch margins around edges; set aside. In a small bowl, add sugars, cinnamon, and stir to combine. Evenly sprinkle mixture over the buttered dough. I found that the original recipe had a little too much filling; I’ve adjusted the recipe above. Starting with the 14-inch side, roll dough up into a tight log.

Slice the roll carefully with a serrated knife making nine large rolls and place them into the prepared pie pan. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through and set. Watch rolls closely so you don’t burn them as the dough is white-ish and doesn’t brown very well. While rolls bake, make the frosting.

Combine all frosting ingredients in a medium mixing bowl, and beat with an electric mixer or by hand until smooth and combined. Based on desired frosting consistency, you may need to play with the sugar and cream ratios slightly. Frost as desired.

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