Archive for September, 2014

Pipe Dream #294: To Surpass Intention – Fudgy Almond Joy Zucchini Brownies


Intention: To make “Almond Joy Zucchini Brownies”

Result: Made “Fudgy Molten Lava Almond Joy Zucchini Brownie Mudslide”



What should have been an underbaked fail recipe due to 1) underbaking impatience and 2) much extra moisture from the zucchini, was transformed into a great success by manipulating the recipe title and throwing in a bunch of funner words. It convinced my co-workers, at least.

Other scenarios where this strategy applies:

  • When you’re trying to argue a weak point and you just talk louder and use bigger words to win the debate (Success rate: Low)
  • When you need to flesh out a paper and you add in a bunch of BS fluff to hit a word count limit (Success rate: High)
  • When you’re in some super awkward social situation and you just keep talking because you want to stay cool (Success rate: Low)

Disclaimer: I do not endorse these strategies. They just happen to folks sometimes.


I would just make these with the intention of eating them out of the pan with a couple spoons (a far better intention than mine). Slicing the pan into neat squares is clearly not its destiny.

Intentionally yours,


Vegan Zucchini Brownies

Adapted from The Live-In Kitchen

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup canola oil

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups finely shredded zucchini,  squeezed of excess moisture

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

8 almond joy fun-size candies, broken up or chopped into large chunks

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Coat a 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray.

Whisk the sugar, oil, and flour in a large bowl until the mixture resembles wet sand.  Add cocoa, zucchini, vanilla, salt, and baking soda. Mix until well combined.

Pour most of the batter into the prepared pan, then sprinkle with Almond Joy pieces, dolloping a few bits of extra batter on top. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Don’t underbake.

Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares and serve.

Favorite Shots: Prolongation of Summer

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Raspberry ice cubes peeping out of the top of a creamy iced coffee. IT HAPPENED. YES.


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Pipe Dream #293: To Trash It Up – Malibu Bay Breeze with Hot Salt

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My sister turned 21, so instead of a cake on this relatively special birthday, I made her a drink.

She had requested either Kinky (I reached for it at the liquor store, but my hand snapped back reflexively when it got close to the bottle) or Malibu, a liquor which I figure is trashed up enough that I didn’t need to mess with it too much. So I picked up some ‘natural’ high-qual pineapple coconut juice (a nod to her health-conscious self) and rimmed the glasses with coarse spicy salt (a nod to her love of P.F. Chang’s Spicy Chicken).

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Make no mistake, my sister is not trashy. She is a a beautiful jewel-gem-caretaker who occasionally expresses her style with ultra-heels and Malibu.

And also, the drink was pretty good. Especially the hot salt part. It might have been boring without that. Also, please notice that wooden spoon that doubles as a drum stick.


Malibu Bay Breeze with Hot Salt

An LH Original

Makes a couple large pitchers-ful

32 ounces Knudsen Natural Pineapple Coconut Juice (or other pineapple coconut juice)

16 ounces Malibu Rum

Coarse, spicy salt

Pour Malibu and juice into pitchers over ice. Stir to combine. Dip tops of glasses into rum, then spicy salt. Pour and serve. Optional: light a sparkler.

Pipe Dream #292: To Take My Chances – Zucchini Spice Cake with Fancy Cream Cheese Frosting

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If you invite me to brunch, you can ask me to bring a delicious cake, and I will most certainly oblige. But I may also bring last night’s mascara and a few lame stories and poisonous berries with which to envenom you. So you can take your chances, I guess.
On the bittersweet nightshade: the  noxious berries might kill you (if their juice seeps into the cake), but who gives? They are pretty. Live a little. Eat your vegetables and fruits. And the best cream cheese frosting I have ever made will revive you.
But before we get to that part, let us start with the essentials. The zucchini spice cake layers. The recipe freaked me out a little because it was vegan, and I had to use a flax egg. I was worried the cake wouldn’t be light and fluffy. Turns out I was right. It wasn’t fluffy. But I didn’t even care, because it was moist and dense and made me forget that fluffy cakes are, like, a goal of many bakers.
To keep things fancy, you can torte the two layers (split each in half), so you end up with four, giving you pretty much a 1:1 frosting ratio (the only ratio worth my time).
This frosting though…easily one of the most involved frostings I’ve ever tried. You’ll need a candy thermometer, so if you don’t have one, git yerself to the store, because this one is for the books. I had to psyche myself up to it for months before I had the time or willpower to attempt it.
It’s a French buttercream, like this one, so it is extremely smooth and rich. And get this: it’s flavored with cream cheese. I was reading the recipe, and my mind was being blown apart by this revolutionary way to approach cream cheese frosting. Some guy named Robicelli made it up, and I am having massive respect.
Do you even know how hard it is to blow my mind about anything in baking? Years of food blogging and blog-stalking have created a bored and cynical Lauren. I am no longer impressed by anything. I’ve seen it all. You can’t wow me. (But I will still happily eat any delicious thing you bake bc I’m sure it tastes the most amazing bc I didn’t make it. Trust.)
And so I made it, and it totally lived up to the hype. You can also make it. You can.
Took too many pics of the styled cake. I went for a “rustic” look. Code for lazy. Code for easy. Code for pretty.
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Brunching so hard,
Rustic Zucchini Cake with Fancy Cream Cheese Frosting
Cake adapted from Fragrant Vanilla Cake
Frosting recipe (halved) by Robicelli’s: A Love Story, with Cupcakes found at Serious Eats
3/4 cup minus 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
3/4 cup minus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
about 2 cups grated zucchini, squeezed of excess moisture
1/4 cup neutral oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and position rack in center of oven. Line two six-inch-diameter cake pans with parchment paper and coat with nonstick spray. (I skipped the parchment and used Baker’s Joy nonstick spray.)
Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk in the  oil, sugar, milk, vanilla extract and zucchini together in small bowl to blend well, then whisk into the flour mixture until well blended. Transfer cake batter to prepared pan and bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes. Let cool about ten minutes, then remove the layers to a wire rack to cool completely. Place in the fridge or freezer to chill until very cold to make slicing easier. When chilled, slice cakes horizontally in half so that you have 4 layers. Frost with cream cheese frosting as desired.
You can find the rather involved frosting recipe over at Serious Eats. Totally worth it.

I Got It Right: Whiskey-Glazed Peach Crumble Sundaes

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So I made these whiskey glazed peaches with the most perfect Colorado end-of-summer peaches.



And then I bought whiskey pecan and sea salt caramel praline ice cream with which to pair them. Because legit, who even has the patience to make ice cream? Pas moi.


And I crumbled the leftovers from these hazelnut, almond shortbreads on top. (Because the nutty, salty cookies were cut out after the dough was already baked, I found myself with lots of leftover nutty, salty crumbles…just like the topping of a fruit crisp, but saltier, therefore, perfect for the sweet peaches and ice cream, and now I can’t stop with this sentence because I’m trying so hard with words to explain to you how perfect this dessert was and is and is to come, something that should only be explained with spoons.)


So I had frozen the crumbles and waited until they could fulfill their inspired destiny as a gourmet, deconstructed fruit crisp + booze eaten by friends who throw together drinks like blackberry bourbon iced tea + extra bourbon.

Sweet + salty = classic

Stone fruit + berries = classic

Crumble + fruit = classic

Peach + almond = classic

Whiskey + pecans = classic

I could go on, but I’m overwhelming myself (and likely you) with flavors right now.

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Who is to come,


Whiskey-Glazed Peach Crumble Sundaes

An LH Original

Place peaches in a baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Brown four tablespoons butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisking until it smells nutty but is not burnt. Whisk in a pinch of salt, 1/4 cup packed brown sugar and 1/4 cup whiskey, letting it bubble together so the sugar dissolves a bit.

Pour the sauce over the peaches. Bake for about 30 minutes, flipping the peaches once or twice until they are soft. Remove the baking dish from the oven, let cool for a few minutes, then transfer the peaches to a plate. Spoon the leftover sauce from the baking dish over the tops of the peaches and let them cool further so the glaze firms up a bit.

When ready to serve, scoop ice cream into bowls and top with peaches, cookie crumbles and flaked almonds.

Pipe Dream #291: To Use The Whole Wheat – Pumpkin Muffins with Whiskey Glaze

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Today is the official end of summer. It’s the middle of September already; get with it, guys. But unfortunately, the middle of August was the end of summer for me.

How do I know? Because in the middle of August I bought a 30-ounce can of pumpkin, and it wasn’t on sale and then baked six things with it without realizing it wasn’t time for fall yet which is the only time for pumpkin baked goods. First bite of that muffin and my entire body and mind said, “Sweater weather.” Deal sealt.

pump muffins 2

Like I said, this was the 30-ounce can, and pumpkin goes a long way. You’ll be seeing pumpkin posts for a while, and there are ones I’m not even posting about, like those classic pumpkin bars you see at MN potlucks that I threw together at 11 PM because I was desperate to use up the last of the can. Eh, maybe I will show you it, if I come up with something creative for the frosting/presentation. Hopefully I’ve got the pumpkin out of my system so I can do cooler fall recipes with sweet potato (marshmallow frosting on the real) and persimmons.

pump muffins 4

One cool thing, at least for me (I can’t exactly know exactly what will seem cool to you I guess I will just have to be myself), was that I bought whole wheat flour. Specialty flours (e.g. spelt, aramanth, oat, rye, etc.) are all the rage these days, but I haven’t really jumped on the train for a few reasons:

  1. I haven’t bought into their healthfulness. Are they really as nutritious as people make them seem? Or rather, is all-purpose flour (total baking staple) really as unhealthful as people make it seem? Everything in moderation?
  2. I’m subtly trying to take a stand against veganism. Not really, but a little. I don’t mind if food is vegan or not. That is, I’m just going to eat the food, and if it happens to be vegan sometimes because whaddya know, I’m eating a handful of raw nuts, that is ok. Anyway, I feel like special flours are a roundabout way of buying into the various health food movements of late.
  3. Specialty flours are a little more expensive than regular flour. Gourmet = price bump. I have not researched this in detail.
  4. Specialty flours are less useful/less tasty than regular flour. We call it all-purpose for a reason. Don’t want to get stuck with five pounds of some ground up wheat germ that makes whatever it touches also taste like wheat germ.
  5. It helps me cull through all the food on the Internet. If I’m scroll-scroll-scrolling through blogs all evening bookmarking food porn looking through a bunch of recipes that look yummy, I can usually eliminate a few off the “To Make” list by looking at the ingredients. Oh, don’t have oil of oregano? No problem, there are twenty other things I would like to make right now with foodstuffs that already exist in my pantry.

The thing is, I see so many cool recipes that include specialty flours, and sometimes I’m sad to pass them by. Plus, what if the whole health thing has some merit? So I bought whole wheat flour. I’m considering swapping it into some other recipes by halves to see if I can taste the difference.

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I was pleasantly surprised that these muffins did not taste like wheat germ! Really! C’est vrai! They just tasted like your everyday pumpkin lusciousness of muffin, friend of coffee shops everywhere. I was a still little skittish, this being my first foray into wheat flour, so I topped them with a thick whiskey glaze.

Nervousness was not the only reason I topped these with a thick whiskey glaze.

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Also, cinnamon butter. Come on.

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Give whole wheat flour a try–it may not disappoint.



Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins with Whiskey Glaze

Adapted from

2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1/2 cup salted caramel Greek yogurt (full fat)
1 (15oz) can pure pumpkin puree
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

For topping:
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For glaze:
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup powdered sugar + whiskey/milk to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners and spray with nonstick spray.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and yogurt. Add the pumpkin puree and the oil, whisking to combine.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.

To prepare topping, mix sugar with cinnamon. Spoon batter into muffin tin, filling each cup almost to top. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake 20 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in one of the muffins comes out clean. Cool in pan a few minutes, then on a wire rack.

For the glaze, beat together 3 tablespoons softened butter with 3/4 cup – 1 cup powdered sugar in a small bowl. Add maybe six tablespoons of liquid taste (4 whiskey, 2 milk?) stirring together gently until combined. Add more/less liquid or powdered sugar to get the consistency with which you are pleased.


Favorite Shots: Petunias, such a “common” flower.


As my Grandma tells it, with a tinge of snobbery. So are these daisy things. But any flower looks good in a sun flare.


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