Best Ever Irish Stout Chocolate Cupcakes

Photo by Richard Swearinger

Photo by Richard Swearinger

 

St. Patrick would be proud. It’s easy to dive face first into these chocolate cupcakes flavored up with Irish stout. You only need 1/2 cup or so to make this Double Chocolate Stout Cupcake recipe. We like to use chocolate stout, but any old stout will do. (You know what to do with the remaining stout, right? Slàinte!)

Double Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chocolate stout

1/2 cup butter (unsalted, please. If you’re using salted butter, ditch the salt, above)

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3 ounces dark unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped, or semisweet dark chocolate chips

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 slightly beaten eggs

Dark Chocolate Frosting (next page)

Coarse sea salt

12 bite-size pretzels

1. Preheat the oven to 350* F. Line muffin pan with 12 paper liners. Set aside. Stir together flour, soda, and salt. Set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring stout, butter, and cocoa just to simmer; stirring frequently. Add dark chocolate, stirring until melted. Remove from heat. Add brown sugar, stirring until smooth. Whisk in eggs until combined. Add flour mixture, beating until smooth.

3. Fill cupcake liners about ¾ full. Bake for about 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (Or just tap the top of the cupcake with your finger.  It should bounce back.) Cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes, then carefully remove cupcakes from muffin pan and cool completely on rack.

4. Pipe or frost with Dark Chocolate Frosting (below). Sprinkle coarse salt over each cupcake. Top with a pretzel. (Or skip the salt and crush the pretzels and sprinkle on top.

Dark Chocolate Frosting

Makes enough to cover 12 cupcakes

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (or 4 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped)

3 cups sifted powdered sugar

¼ cup milk (add a splash of Irish cream, if you’d like to be more decadent)

1. In a small saucepan, heat the butter and chocolate over very low heat until butter and chocolate are melted, stirring constantly.

2. In a bowl, stir together powdered sugar and milk. Add melted butter and chocolate. Beat by hand until smooth. Cool to room temperature. Frosting will thicken as it cools. Stir in additional milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, if frosting is too thick.



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Crazy good fudgy brownies

One pot uber-fudgie brownies. No mixer required.

 

It’s a brownie baking kinda night. I typically double (in a 15 x10 inch pan or 13×9) or  triple the recipe and put them in a half-sheet pan (18×13) because these brownies are meant to be given away. They’re loaded with walnuts and well, chocolate. Don’t like nuts? Leave ’em out.

But, remember, walnuts are high in good-for-you fats that provide protection against a host of health problems. And dark chocolate, including bittersweet, has heart-healthy antioxidants and has been found to lower blood pressure. Never mind the butter and sugar. Surely the nuts and chocolate cancel out the butter-sugar concerns. I like to think these brownies are a health food.

 

Double batch of walnut-loaded fudge brownies baked in a jelly roll pan.

Walnut-Studded Dark Chocolate Brownies

1/2 cup butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), coarsely chopped (bittersweet chips work, too)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup milk chocolate or semisweet chocolate pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8x8x2-inch or 9x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine butter and bittersweet chocolate. Cook and stir over medium heat until butter and chocolate are melted. Remove from heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir granulated sugar and brown sugar into chocolate mixture until smooth. Add eggs, beating with spoon until well combined.

3. In a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Stir flour mixture into the chocolate mixture just until combined. Stir in nuts and milk chocolate pieces (batter will be thick). Spread in prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until top is set but still soft. (A toothpick inserted in center will come out slightly gooey.) Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes 16 brownies.

Tip: The secret to fudgy brownies is to make sure you don’t overcook them. For easy clean up,  line the baking pan with foil or baking

parchment, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. Butter the foil. When brownies are baked and cooled, lift out the foil along with the slab of brownies. Remove foil and cut brownies.



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Easy Cranberry Cake Pie

cranberry cake

 

If you have a stash of fresh (or frozen) cranberries, here’s what you do. Pour a couple of cups of cranberries into the bottom of a buttered pie tin (or 9-inch round cake pan), sprinkle with sugar, add walnuts if you like and whip up a buttery cake batter to pour on top. Bake. Cool. Share.

I can’t take credit for this recipe. It’s got history. And it’s everywhere. I made so many for Christmas gifts one year that I memorized the recipe. It’s that easy.

There’s a version called Nantucket Cranberry Pie in an old cookbook called “More Home Cooking” by the late Laurie Colwin (many credit her for the recipe). The King Arthur Flour site calls it Nantucket Cranberry Cake. Ina Garten does a variation with apples and brown sugar and sour cream and calls it Easy Cranberry and Apple Cake.

Next time I might add a little orange peel and cinnamon to the batter. I might even add a simple icing drizzle on top. (You know: confectioners sugar plus milk).

For Christmas gifts I bake them in foil pie plates and add a note that says they freeze easily (in case the recipient wants to save them for New Year’s eve!

They’re great served at brunch. Or as dessert with a bourbon-laced whipped cream. Or whenever the spirit moves you.

Easy Cranberry Cake Pie

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Put 2 cups cranberries and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts in a buttered 10-inch pie plate. Top with 1/2 cup sugar.
2. Combine 2 eggs; 3/4 cup butter, melted; 1 cup sugar; 1 cup flour1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread evenly over cranberry mixture. Bake  for 35-40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.


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Pumpkin Cinnamon-Cardamom Bars Reprise

Autumn in Milwaukee

In case you missed this post from a few years back. These are the most amazing pumpkin bars, if I do say so myself.

It’s Fall, Y’all!

Went out for a contemplative walk, but kept getting distracted by nature. First the trees with their distracting oranges and reds and yellows against the sky-blue sky. And the slightly deeper blue of Lake Michigan in the background. And the crunch, crunch, kick, crunch, flutter of the leaves underfoot. And the sunshine which made the day look like it should feel warmer, but instead simply verified what the trees know: Fall is here.

And so it’s time for Pumpkin Cinnamon-Cardamom Bars.

Baking them results in aromatherapy of the highest order. Happiness guaranteed.

And yes, I know that they are more cakey than bar-like, but they’re called bars anyway.

I’ve been baking these for-almost-ever. And tweaking them a bit over the years. The original recipe included 1 cup of oil, so I experimented with half oil, half applesauce. It works, but makes the texture a little gummy. So I tried this version with 1/4 cup applesauce. Thumbs up. (You can skip the applesauce and use 1 cup of oil, if there’s no applesauce in the house.)

The spices are subject to your whim or your pantry. I’ve been loving cardamom lately so I added some. Sometimes I include a dash of cloves and/or ginger. But always, always cinnamon.

The frosting is barely sweet, the way I like it. Oh, and I almost always add pecans. But you’ll notice there are none in the photo. That’s because I was entertaining someone with nut allergies. They were still good (but even better with pecans!)

Pumpkin Bars Minus the Pecans

Pumpkin-Cinnamon-Cardamom Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Read More >>



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Dad’s New Potato Hash (sort of)

While he was cooking, my father was an intense maestro, focusing on getting dinner on the table every night after work. “Outta MY kitchen,” he’d say, waving a spatula or a ladle or a chef’s knife at those who dared to offer help or peer over his shoulder as he was peeling and chopping and sautéing.

A heavenly dish for Dad.

The kitchen was his domain. Our garden was his market. The milkman (yup, I’m THAT old) supplied milk, butter, cottage cheese and the meat locker supplied a side o’ beef for the double-wide chest freezer in the garage. We kids acted as his crew when it came to planting and harvesting and cleaning and preserving the strawberries, raspberries, peas, sweet peppers, cucumbers, green beans, tomatoes, corn and potatoes.

But help in the kitchen fixing meals? Nope. Dad would have none of it. Well, except for the salad that the kids took turns making every night. For the most part, Dad brought home the bacon and cooked it up every afternoon after work. (Mom was the baker in the family.)

And Dad loved cooking. A couple of times a week he would say, “This meal is better than you could get in any restaurant.” Leftovers? “These would be good for breakfast with an egg cracked over it.” Or, “I can turn this into hash tomorrow morning.”

And so, in honor of my dad for Father’s Day, I created a nouveau hash this morning. I used baby new potatoes, something that would appall my dad. He always told us to leave the baby potatoes on the ground when we stooped to pluck them from the ground. “Throw those things away. They’re too small,” he’d say.

What were you thinking, Dad?

New Potato Hash with Mushrooms and an Egg on Top

No recipe here. It’s a make-it-up-as-you-go kinda dish.

1. Cook baby potatoes until just tender. (I simmered them in salted water, altho I sometimes roast or even microwave ’em.) In the meantime, sautee thinly sliced leeks and garlic scapes in olive oil. (or use chopped onion and a clove of chopped garlic. Add sliced shiitake mushrooms and baby ‘bellas. Cook and stir until mushrooms are tender.

2. Drain potatoes, cut the bigger babies in half. Toss ’em in the skillet with the mushroom concoction. Add a tablespoon or two of butter or additional olive oil, if needed. Sprinkle with a good seasoning. Maybe salt and pepper. I use Gray Sea Salt w/ Five Pepper Blend from ile de Re France. Add some chopped fresh rosemary (or whatever herb you have handy). Toss and stir for about 5 minutes to combine flavors.

3. Cook an over-easy egg (or two or three depending on who’s invited for breakfast). Put potato hash on plate(s). Top with the cooked egg(s). Add fork(s).

 

 


2 Responses to “Dad’s New Potato Hash (sort of)”

  1. Cathy says:

    Nice job, Jeanne!

  2. Jeanne says:

    Thanks Tony! Eating good food is a legacy I am doing my best to uphold, which is why I’m sweating with Jillian Michaels whenever I can!


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Soft and Spicy Ginger Cookies

It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas.

Am doing my civic duty this weekend and dedicating batches of baking to the Milwaukee police precinct in my neighborhood. Still paying back the officers who tended to the emotional havoc I experienced after being held up by a gun-wielding youth a few years ago.

The Milwaukee Police Dept. has been getting a lot of bad press lately. But they have a tough job. And they’ve always been kind to me.

Anyway, I’ve been making these for years. I got my first taste of them while an editor at Better Homes and Gardens. Then again after I became editor at Taste of Home magazine when we sent batches of these to soldiers (slightly different recipe). They pack well and hold their flavor for a looong time. Ginger, cinnamon, cloves. Oh, yeah.

I can’t take credit for this version. It may have originated from BH&G; or come from a Taste of Home reader…and it’s all over Pinterest, so who knows? I always tweak recipes, so maybe it’s mine now!

I sometimes use my 1/4-cup size ice scream scoop and make GIANT ginger cookies. If you want to go that route, increase the baking time by 2 or 3 minutes. And you will only get a couple dozen big ol’ cookies out of the batch, rather than about 5 dozen cookies.

 

Soft and Spicy Ginger Cookies

Makes 63 cookies (1 tablespoon dough/cookie)

4 1/2 cups flour
4 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups shortening
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup mild-flavored molasses
3/4 cup sparkling (or course) sugar or sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Stir together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat shortening for about 30 seconds. Add the 2 cups sugar and beat until combined. Beat in eggs and molasses. Add flour mixture and beat until combined. Shape dough into balls (I made these exactly 1 tablespoon per ball), and roll them in the remaining sugar. Place about 1 1/2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 9 minutes. Tops will be slightly puffed and soft. Don’t over bake. Cool for 1 -2 minutes before removing from cookie sheet to rack.


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Shortcut Dark Chocolate Almost Toffee

You may have fallen in love with these already. But if you need a really fast homemade gift, this is it.

Saltine crackers, blanketed in melty butter and brown sugar, plus a heavy-handed scattering of chocolate chips and almonds. Done.

I’ve been making this for years from a recipe that was handed to me scribbled on a piece of notepaper. I’ve tweaked it a bit to include dark chocolate and sliced almonds. (But you’ll probably find something similar all over the Web.)
It’s one of my go-to last-minute treats for entertaining…You can have a batch ready for nibbling in 15 to 20 minutes.
Crunch. Munch. Moan (in an ecstatic way).
Dark Chocolate and Almond Toffee Crisps
 
40 saltine crackers (1 sleeve)
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips and/or chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a jelly roll pan (10x15x1) or rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper (or foil). Line the crackers in a single layer on the parchment paper in pan.
2. In a saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils. Let it bubble for 3 minutes, without stirring. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Immediately pour mixture over crackers. Bake for 5 minutes.
3. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over top; let stand for 5 minutes, then spread melted chips evenly over all. Top with sliced almonds. Cool completely, then cut or break toffee into pieces.


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Happy Heart Valentine’s Day Cookies

I concocted this Valentine’s Day cookie recipe as my heart shattered—when my mother died four years ago in early February—and I called them Broken Heart Lemon Sugar Cookies. But now, they bring back happy memories. And so I’ve changed the title to Happy Heart Lemon Sugar Cookies. It’s amazing how the simple act of baking can transport you—no matter how much time passes—to a cozy place of love and family and happy times. Baking is my meditation. It’s my hammock on the beach even when the ground is blanketed in snow.

These cookies are simple to make and just in time for Valentine’s day. They taste so much better when you share them.

And you’ll make me kinda happy if you like Heartbreak Recovery Kitchen on Facebook.

 

 

Happy Heart Lemon Sugar Cookies

About 3 dozen 2- to 3-inch cookies

broken heart cookies 2

Beat until creamy:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons powdered sugar (it adds a light texture)

1 to 2 tsp. lemon peel (I use a Microplane to remove the lemon peel in fine shreds)

1/4 tsp. salt

Add and beat until combined:

1 egg

1  tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. baking powder

Add and beat on low (or stir with a wooden spoon) until combined:

2 1/2 cups flour

Divide dough into thirds, flatten into disks, and wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Using 1 part of dough at a time, roll dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Use a 2- to 3-inch cutter to cut out cookies. Place on cookie sheet about 1-inch apart.

Repeat with remaining dough. Pat dough scraps together and roll and cut.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges get a hint of brown. Do not over bake. Remove to a cooling rack. When cool, frost with Lemon Glaze. Add little red hearts or pink and red sprinkles, if desired.

Lemon Glaze: Whisk together 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, 2 to 3 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1 tsp. lemon peel, and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract.



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Extremely Easy Old-Fashioned Stew

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” ― Laurie Colwin

old fashioned beef stew

STEW: Before

I’m all about the ease of finding recipes online, but you can’t beat good old-fashioned recipes from dog-eared cards written by hand or those found in favorite old cookbooks.

I’ve been nose-to-the grindstone busy with projects at work and at home for the past three months. This weekend was my first catch-up time slot in what seemed like forever.

First on the agenda. Spring cleaning. Yeah. I know. It’s fall. My timing is somewhat off.

Next up: Invite friends over for dinner. I have missed being social. Chitchat around the office water cooler doesn’t count. I like to entertain. Sometimes I love to fuss. But I’d rather keep things casual and entertain more often than fuss and be so exhausted I don’t want to think about inviting anyone over again for several months.

Hence tonight’s meal. Friends. Conversation. Laughs. Old fashioned stew. (Apple pie for dessert.) I dug up the stew recipe from Laurie Colwin’s book: Home Cooking. It’s in the oven now.

Toss chunks of chuck roast (2 1/2 pounds or so) in flour-pepper-paprika. Brown in olive oil. Add layers of thick carrot slices (I used 5 big carrots), a couple of chopped potatoes (1-inch pieces), wedges of onion (I used 3 gigantic onions) and minced garlic (I put in 6 cloves because I’m a garlic lover). Add 2 cups (or a bottle) of red wine, a small can of tomato puree and a few tablespoons of tomato paste. Toss in a spring of rosemary and thyme and a bay leaf. Oh. Salt and more pepper, too. Bring it to bubbling on the stovetop, then put the lid on and stick it in the oven for 3 hours. Uncover for the last 15-20 minutes.

Laurie’s recipe suggests serving it over noodles. I like to serve mine over mashed sweet potatoes. Or nothing. It’s that good.

Want the more-detailed recipe? Go find Laurie Colwin’s book. Or come on over for dinner.

 



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Change-Your-Fortune Cookies

fortune cookies

Kinda proud of these nice-and-spicy cookies. Look good. Taste fantastic. But homemade always does, doesn’t it? Just in time for Chinese New Year. Write your own fortune for the future. Then take action to make it come true. Or just make the cookies and eat them.  (Yes, you may have seen this recipe, from our cookbook Heartbreak Recovery Kitchen on Leite’s Culinaria.)

Change-Your-Fortune Cookies

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for baking sheets
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Dash ground cloves
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped bittersweet, dark, or semisweet chocolate
  • Chopped peanuts, sprinkles, minced candied ginger, or other little sweet or spicy things

1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Line 2 baking sheets with a silicone nonstick baking mat or parchment paper. If using parchment, lightly coat the paper with nonstick cooking spray or butter. Have a couple of muffin tins at the ready.
2. Write fortunes on long strips of sturdy paper. (The paper can be fancy or plain, it matters little. Best stick with strips that are 3 1/2 to 4 inches long and no more than 1/2 inch or so wide.)
3. Stir together the butter, ginger, vanilla, cinnamon, and cloves.
4. Beat egg whites and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to low, add about half of the flour, and beat just until combined. Switch to a spatula and fold in the butter mixture. Add the remaining flour and beat  until combined.
5. Drop 1 tablespoon of the batter onto baking sheet and use the back of a spoon to spread the batter evenly and very thinly into a 3 1/2-inch circle. Repeat to make 3 or 4 cookies on each baking sheet.
6. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until the fortune cookies begin to brown around the edges. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 30 seconds. Then, working quickly, transfer the cookies from the baking sheet and place them on a clean dish towel. Place a fortune just above the center of each cookie and fold the cookie in half, pinching the top of the curved portion to seal. Gently bend the ends of the fortune cookie together to form a fortune cookie shape. (Fold the cookie over a chopstick to help form the bend in the center.) Place each cookie in the muffin tin, to help it retain its shape while it cools. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Hurry!)
7. Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl or measuring cup. Dip half of each fortune cookie in the melted chocolate. If desired, sprinkle with chopped peanuts or candied sprinkles.



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