Chocolate Krantz Cake


I was turned onto this bread about a year ago when I read this post.  The gorgeous photos alone were enough to intrigue me and the description sounded lovely.  I actually endeavored to make this yeasted cake last Christmas, but in the mix of too much going on, I didn’t have the time to devote and it was abandoned.  Then, my lovely mother in law gave me a copy of Jerusalem (I may have hinted strongly).  Oh what a book it has been.  I have been cooking out of it for the past 2 years and still don’t think I have scratched the surface.  If you enjoy cooking and trying new flavors, please give it a whirl.  It is the best.

Onto this cake (bread). I didn’t grow up eating Chocolate Babka, but this is what that is.  Think, giant cinnamon roll in loaf form with chocolate instead of cinnamon.  To make this into french toast would really take it over the top.  The instructions on the post that I linked above are perfect, so go there and follow along. It’s more time consuming than difficult, and a lot of the time is resting time.

One note, this doesn’t travel super well.  It’s a pretty delicate bread, so I would keep it local for savoring.  This is a perfect bread to make for special people in your life for Christmas or any other holiday.

Summer Party Eats

Summer Party Eats

Summer Party Eats

Even though it is already October and I’m supposed to be Basic B*&^%ing it up with #PSLforLife, I’m still thinking about summer eats.  This Tucson “cold spell” with a high of 90 degrees isn’t exactly parka weather.

I was in a weird cooking rut all summer.  I realized part of the reason for the rut was that I was relying on too many tried and true recipes and it was making me bored.  Part of my creative outlet in the kitchen is trying new techniques, ingredients, and recipes.  It helps when I get some wins.  I’m all about less effort and maximum impact but on the other hand, happy to put in the work to yield an excellent result.  Long story short, I have tried some of the things on my long “to make” list and it was worth it, I’m much more excited about getting into the kitchen.  Also, making my husband fire up the grill more regularly definitely takes some pressure off me.

A few weeks ago, we had some lovely friends over and I wanted to make a cocktail.  I had suspicions that my friend may be pregnant, so I was sure to have it in alcohol free components.  Using this tequila watermelon cocktail recipe as a guide, I made a watermelon juice (easy- cut up watermelon, run in the food processor, strain), added lime juice, and simple syrup on the side.  WITH TEQUILA, Of course!!!  We had this salsa on the side, which I make a lot.  It is so easy, inexpensive, and more delicious than most store options.  To start off, we had the pioneer woman’s 7 layer dip.  There are tons of variations on this, and I don’t include black olives because yuck (in this context).

I was feeling wild, so I made chocolate cake.  This is my favorite chocolate bundt.  It has all my requirements for a yummy homemade cake: buttermilk, oil (butter dries it out), and cocoa powder.  It’s remarkably easy for being quite a show stopper of a dessert.  We had other things, but I’m not sure how I feel about the meat dish.  It was ok, not the best.

Happy Valentine’s Day Profiteroles


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Happy Valentine’s Day!  It’s a strange holiday, with the forced love and all.  Because I have a work history in food service, you will never find me in a restaurant on Valentine’s Day.  Bless those people who deal with the masses.  We prefer to spend it at home in the lap of luxury, haha!  If you do the same, you may not already have a meal planned for the evening.  If I may suggest something, profiteroles are where it’s at.  You can make them ahead of time, serve them with store-bought ice cream (or whipped cream!!) and chocolate sauce, and who’s the hero now?

These particular profiteroles from Anne Burrell from the Food Network are taken over the top with a bit of cinnamon.   It seemed so easy that I thought I was doing something wrong.  The chocolate sauce is worth whipping together as well.  It comes together easily, while the pastries are in the oven and you won’t be able to resist taking a taste (or three) while you wait.  Use a high quality chocolate and you will be above and beyond what you can find in a restaurant.  Plus, you will be in your pajamas! What could be better?   Happy Valentine’s!


Turkey Talk

Let’s talk turkey.  On a greater scale, let’s talk logistics for the big day. While I have never hosted Thanksgiving (please don’t crucify me), I have made a Thanksgiving dinner for the two of us on other days because we love Thanksgiving and want the leftovers.  I also want to be prepared for the day that I do host Thanksgiving!

We tend to get the frozen turkey from the grocery store (because we buy so much that we get a free one) and the thawing definitely comes into play.  Also, I only use the Alton Brown turkey recipe.  It is the BEST!  It uses a brine which adds even more time to the lead time on Mr. Turkey.  So I work backwards.

What time do you want to eat Thanksgiving?  Count 5 hours backwards from that as a general time to put that turkey in the oven.  Count 16 more hours for the brine.  Then count 24 hours for every 4 pounds to thaw that sucker in the fridge. The USDA gives this nice guideline:

  • 4 to 12 pounds ……  1 to 3 days
  • 12 to 16 pounds …… 3 to 4 days
  • 16 to 20 pounds …… 4 to 5 days
  • 20 to 24 pounds …… 5 to 6 days

From my experience, it takes FOREVER to thaw.  But it is so important that you allow this to happen so you don’t have the dreaded cooked on the outside, frozen on the inside turkey situation.

I would highly recommend watching Alton’s videos since it is a method I have used numerous times with fantastic results: tender, flavorful turkey!!

More controversially, Mr. Brown has some strong opinions on stuffing inside the bird.  I grew up on stuffing inside the bird and it does taste amazing.  However, it results in a dry bird.  In order to get that stuffing to a safe temperature, you overcook that bird.  I tested it.  It’s true.  Now, it is all about priorities.  Do you care about stuffing in the bird or the bird itself?  I am a turkey person.  You decide for yourself!!

Tomorrow, I will regale you with a list of fabulous Thanksgiving recipes that I love.

July Martha Stewart Cupcake Calendar Challenge: Lemon Meringue Cupcake

Lemon is my second favorite flavor. To chocolate, that is (obvi).  Well maybe coconut is second.  So it is up for debate.  Right-o.  Well,  regardless, I had been eyeing this cupcake for some time.  Who can overlook the stunning billowy meringue peaks?  Not I.  Always one with a taste for drama, after all, I am a Leo.

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I made the lemon curd and the cakes the day before serving.  I had no trouble with either, however the curd always takes me longer than any directions say, probably because I am worried about burning it.  The day of serving the little cakes, I whipped up the frosting, what a joy a 7 minute frosting is!  So satisfyingly voluminous!  I was a bit worried because old Martha said to serve the cakes immediately, however I was waiting a few hours.  This was no issue, they maintained their integrity.  My only gripe about this recipe is that due to there being 3 components, it is sugar overload for the eater.  I think they would be super adorable in mini form. I would think they would be lovely at a wedding or baby shower.

In other news, we are going to the beach in a few weeks with some friends and are responsible for 2 meals.  Any suggestions for easy crowd favorites?  I was thinking bbq chicken but would love to know your thoughts, dear reader!

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
by Martha Stewart

Lemon Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons (about 1 1/2 tablespoons), plus 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
Lemon Curd
7 Minute Frosting

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in zest and vanilla. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk and lemon juice, and beating until just combined after each.

3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
4. To finish, spread 1 tablespoon lemon curd onto middle of each cupcake. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large open-star tip (Ateco #828 or Wilton #8B) with frosting. Pipe frosting onto each cupcake, swirling tip slightly and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Hold a small kitchen torch 3 to 4 inches from surface of frosting, and wave it back and forth until frosting is lightly browned all over. Serve immediately.

Lemon Curd
4 large egg yolks
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1/2 cup sugar
1/16 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

1. Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan; whisk to combine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (be sure to scrape the sides of the pan), until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, 8 to 10 minutes, and registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
2. Remove saucepan from heat. Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

7 Minute Frosting
3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 large egg whites, room temperature

1. Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230 degrees.
2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beating to combine.
3. As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230 degrees, remove from heat. With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes. Use immediately.