Archive for May, 2014

Pipe Dream #270: To Be a Heartbreaker – Black Bean Brownies

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There is nothing about these that is not to love.

1) They have hearts on them.

2) They are GF for all ya GF friends.

3) They are actually healthy, but taste treatful.

4) They are simple-blend and bake.

5) They give you amazing credibility in the miracle business. The main ingredient is black beans, ok? What is that even?

Ok, let’s revise. There are five things to love about these brownies. They aren’t the most ridiculous chocolate fudginess of brownie wonder you’ve ever experienced, but given the above list of pros, I would say you’re doing pretty well for yourself.

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Optional add-ins are endless. Stir in chocolate chips after the batter is blended or spread the finished product with peanut butter. I chose to top mine with white chocolate M&Ms, but warning, they kind of soaked up brownie moisture and looked awful the next day. All cracked and bleeding, like a broken heart.

Don’t do that to me.

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Black Bean Brownies

Adapted from Chocolate-Covered Katie

  • 1 1/2 cups black beans (1 15-oz can, drained and rinsed very well)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or honey
  • 2 tbsp sugar (or omit and increase maple syrup to 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (melted) or vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup chocolate chips + additional for topping

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips in a food processor or blender, and blend until completely smooth. Stir in the chips, then pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Add additional chocolate chips or M&Ms on top. Cook the black bean brownies 15-18 minutes, then let cool at least 10 minutes before cutting. Makes 9-12 brownies.

Pipe Dream #269: No More Vegan Hockey Pucks – Superfood Streusel Muffins

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So this spring I went on a muffin kick. I mean, like a serious, I-make-muffins-twice-a-week thing. I was off-loading muffins on my acquaintances like we were best friends. And after that, we were best friends.

Muffins are simpler to make than cupcakes, and sometimes even healthier. They freeze well, and they make a perfect on-the-go breakfast.

You may know these muffin truths already, but here is something you may not know: Some healthy muffins are hockey pucks of healthfulness that should never be labeled muffins. All the vegan muffin things that are muffins in name but Medjool dates in reality can be very misleading, and it took me a while to find a muffin recipe that is actually ultra-heathful, but still treat-like and fluffy.

This is the best healthy actual muffin recipe that came out of my search. It has a streusel topping, for heaven’s sake. They are filled with superfoods like oats and chia seeds and contain very little fat, unlike the clementine chia seed muffins that are the other best find of my muffin kick. Slightly less healthy, but omheavens fluffy like cupcakes.

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I actually got this recipe from a Panera email. What a random. I was pleasantly surprised.

O Panera! Thine cinnamon rolls are ever so average, but thine muffins makest me want to compose in verse.

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Raspberry Superfood Streusel Muffins

Adapted from a Panera recipe

  • ½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup yellow cornmeal
  • ¼ cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Heat the oven to 400°F. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

Grind the oats in a food processor until ground to the texture of coarse flour. Transfer them to a medium bowl and stir in 1 cup of flour, the cornmeal, flaxseed, baking powder, salt and 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Set aside.

Combine the walnuts, chia seeds, cinnamon, 1 tablespoon oil, and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of flour in a food processor or blender; grind with short pulses until coarsely chopped and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the egg, buttermilk, applesauce, and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add this to the flour mixture and stir until half-combined. Fold in the blueberries just until the batter is moistened (a few lumps will remain).

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups until each is two-thirds full. Sprinkle the nut mixture over top. Bake until the tops are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes.

Cool the muffins in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove them from the pan to cool completely on the rack. These freeze well.

A Pastry Delayed: Hans Bakery


I visited a sweet little neighborhood bakery for my birthday this year. It was closed for a number of years, but recently reopened to the delight of the neighborhood. It’s all pretty inside now, but they still carry their famed beehive cakes and the smaller version: the bee sting. You can read all about its grand re-opening here.



An apple fritter and a bee sting. All I can think about right now is Jay-Z lyrics. I have problems.


I was totally charmed by the vintage typeface, obviously.

Visit if you’re in the neighborhood–it’s a gem!


Pipe Dream #268: To Throw A 90s Rave – Grapefruit Coconut Cream Bars

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So many problems in this recipe, I don’t even know where to begin. Yes, yes. They look fine in the pics, but by the end of the party to which I removed them, they were a sad, sloppy mess.

Sidenote: The party I went to? It was a baked potato party. Like, everyone bring your own potato, and the hosts had a toppings bar. Isn’t that brilliant? I’m always on the lookout for good party ideas. Other thought that crossed my mind this year for a party: 90s rave. Mostly just the part where everyone looks like Gwen Stefani and dances crazily. Not the E part. Wouldn’t that be sweet? Anyway, you don’t have to come if you don’t want to.

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Yes, yes. I love grapefruit. I tried to incorporate it in the pastry cream middle layer. It was actually a delicious pastry cream, but it was too runny for these bars. I needed something that would slice a little better.

gfruit bars 2


The crust was ok. Many flavors. The flaked coconut echoed the coconut oil I used in the pastry cream. Very nutty.

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Second layer. I saved the leftover pastry cream and used it to top these babies, which was a much better use of it. French toast forever.

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I tried making an Italian meringue, but the sugar syrup was too cool when I beat it into the egg whites. Only about half of the syrup was incorporated, making for a meringue that had an odd texture and eggy flavor. I tried to mask it by chucking some coconut on the top. I figured, hey, it almost works for 7 layer bars, those awful sweet Midwestern bars that attempt to create textural interest by piling on coconut at the last second.

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Great idea, poor execution, and we live to see another day, friends.


Grapefruit Coconut Cream Bars

Loosely based on these lemon meringue pie bars

6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup graham cracker crumbs + handful of coconut flakes
½ cup all-purpose flour

pastry cream of choice (I used this base recipe from Joy of Baking, adding in grapefruit zest and stirring in a spoonful of coconut oil. I wouldn’t use straight up pastry cream though–it was too runny. Try the lemon filling from the above linked recipe instead.)

1¼ cups granulated sugar, divided
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons water
6 egg whites, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter an 8×8-inch square baking pan and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and mix to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the flour, graham cracker and coconut flakes, mixing until a dough forms. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and pat into an even layer. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack.

Spread the pastry cream over the cooled crust, then remove to the fridge while you make the meringue topping.

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, the water, and the corn syrup over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once boiling, do not stir, and heat to 240 degrees F.

Meanwhile, using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. If the sugar syrup has not yet reached 240 degrees, turn the mixer off and wait. Once the syrup reaches the correct temperature, turn the mixer speed to medium and add the syrup to the bowl in a slow, steady stream down the side of the bowl. Increase the speed to high and beat until thick, fluffy and cool, about 7 minutes.

Spread the meringue on top of the pastry cream, swirling to form peaks. If you have more coconut, sprinkle a bit on the top of the bars. Using the broil setting on your oven, toast the meringue to a golden brown color, watching carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn. Allow the meringue to cool, then slice into bars and serve.

Pipe Dream #267: To Go Two by Two – Hippo Linzers

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I don’t know why my mum has cookie cutters in the shape of mini elephants and hippos. All I know is, I had entertained ideas about making traditional walnut linzer cookies after the success of the linzer torte, but all my plans and plots went out the window when I saw this cookie-cutter cuteness.

No more scalloped circle boringness, I just want some animal crackers. But let’s be clear, these are far tastier than animal crackers and more sophisticated than those frosting-covered animal crackers.

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The dough is pretty much a cinch. It includes some nuts and a food processor. And to add to the tastyyy, I whipped up some blackberry cream cheese filling and made these into cookie sandwiches. Because two are better than one. Two by two, like Noah’s ark.

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Go in peace, go in pairs,


Blackberry Walnut Linzers

Dough adapted from Christmas Cookies by Lisa Zwirn via Baking in Pyjamas

100 grams (1 cup) toasted walnuts

150 grams (3/4 cup) white sugar

315 grams (2 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

175 grams (1 stick, 5 tablespoons) butter, cold and cubed

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the toasted walnuts in a food processor and blitz until finely ground. Add the sugar and pulse a few times until well-blended.

Add the flour, baking powder and the salt and pulse a few times until well blended. Add the cubed butter and pulse until its consistency is like breadcrumbs. Add the egg, egg yolk and the vanilla extract and pulse until the dough starts to come together.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and shape into two discs. Wrap each disc in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Remove one disc from the fridge and preheat your oven to 325 F. Line four baking trays with parchment paper and set to one side.

Lightly flour your work surface and roll dough to a 1/4 inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes, re-rolling out the scraps of dough until it’s gone. If the dough gets too warm, stick it in the fridge for a bit to firm up.

Bake for around 15-18 minutes or until the cookies begin to brown slightly. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the blackberry buttercream:

In a medium bowl, beat 2 ounces softened cream cheese by hand until smooth. Slowly beat in powdered sugar until the frosting reaches desired consistency for spreading, then stir in fresh blackberries (or defrosted or preserves) to taste. Fill cooled cookies, and sprinkle with powdered sugar to finish.

Favorite Shots: Same Sunsets

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Dramatic edits because obviously.


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santa monica sunset 2 low res

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