Category Archives: Sweet

Breakfast / Brunch / Sweet

Bakery-Worthy Blueberry Muffins

November 18, 2016

img_0436I have been on a total blueberry kick lately. A friend brought some blueberries over a couple weeks ago when her daughter came over to play with Prim and I haven’t been able to get enough since. Never mind that it’s not exactly blueberry season and they certainly aren’t the cheapest item in the produce department right now — this pregnant belly doesn’t care. Just give me all the blueberries.

The recipe below is a slight adaption of the America’s Test Kitchen recipe for blueberry muffins, and I will tell you right now — it’s the only blueberry muffin recipe you’ll ever need. These muffins are straight-up bakery status. They are soft and moist on the inside and crispy and full on top — everything you could want out of a blueberry muffin.

If you need an impressive contribution to a breakfast or brunch spread, or simply something delicious to have with your afternoon coffee — these muffins are it. And I really wish these photographs did these muffins justice, but they don’t — they look amazing in person and taste even better.img_0434

Blueberry Muffins

makes 12 muffins

For the muffins:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup blueberries, rinsed and picked over
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

For the quick jam:

  • 1 cup blueberries, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 tsp sugar

For the topping:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • grated zest of one lemon (about 1 1/2 tsp)
  1. Stir together lemon zest and sugar for topping and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°.
  3. Make a quick blueberry jam by combining 1 cup of blueberries with 1 tsp sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir and smash the berries along the side of the pan until they have reduced by about half and become syrupy — about 4-5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  4. Whisk together eggs and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy. Whisk in oil and melted butter, followed by milk, yogurt and vanilla extract, then fold in blueberries with a spatula. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, then add dry ingredients to wet, stirring just to combine. (Do not over mix — batter should be slightly lumpy.)
  5. Spoon batter into 12 greased muffin cups, filling to the top. Add 1 tsp of the quick blueberry jam to the top of each muffin and use a skewer or knife to swirl it into the muffin. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with lemon sugar until well-covered.
  6. Bake 15-17 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes:

  • You will probably only need about half the of the sugar topping for these, so feel free to scale that down. Add more sugar to the top of the muffins that you think you should, though — it makes for a great crispy top!
  • These are really best the day that you make them, so I would suggest making them the day you plan on consuming them, to the extent possible. They will keep overnight wrapped in plastic or in an airtight container.

Drinks / Sweet

How to Make a Starbucks-Quality Mocha at Home

November 15, 2016

I know I’ve posted on here before about making mochas on your stovetop, but since I feel like I’ve really perfected the recipe I thought I’d post about it again. Those of you who know me may know that I have a long history with coffee. I was hired at Starbucks at the age of 16 and ended up working there for 6 years — through college. It was a great job and my love of coffee was solidified during those years. I still frequent the ‘bucks, but more often I can be found making coffee at home and experimenting with recreating my favorite recipes from my barista days.

This recipe works just as well for homemade hot chocolate if you omit the coffee. I’ve never been much of a fan of those powdered packets that you add hot water to, so be warned — this recipe is not that. (And I can definitely recommend topping off your mug with a big dollop of whipped cream — it makes life worth living.)

This recipe is perfect for one person, but it’s just as easy to double, triple or quadruple it — whatever your fancy. I will admit that an instant espresso machine (like the Nespresso) makes things a bit easier here, but you can certainly make do with a stovetop espresso pot or any other type of coffee contraption that you have on hand. If you’re using a standard coffee pot or french press, just make sure to double the coffee strength to make a more concentrated, espresso-like batch of coffee. (I recommend using 4 tbsp coffee per 6 oz of water to do this.)

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Homemade Mocha

serves one

  • 25 grams / 1 ounce / 2.5 tbsp dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • tiniest pinch of salt
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 1/8 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1.5 ounces (one shot) or more espresso or double-strength coffee
  1. Place chocolate, sugar, salt, and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk regularly until chocolate is dissolved and milk is heated through to desired temperature.
  2. Take milk mixture off the heat and add vanilla extract.
  3. Add desired amount of coffee/espresso and stir to combine in a large mug.

Notes:

  • I prefer to use semi-sweet chocolate in this, which has at least 35% cocoa content. The chocolate I get here in the Netherlands has a minimum of 45%, which seems to work perfectly. The higher the cocoa content, the more bitter/less sweet the mocha will be. I’ve used chocolate with up to 90% cocoa content in this recipe, and while I prefer the higher cocoa content for general chocolate snacking, I think the mid-range (35 – 60%) works best.
  • You can use any types of milk you prefer in this, but I generally use whole milk as I think it gives the best result.

Fall / Sweet

Perfect Pumpkin Bread

October 26, 2016

img_0009If you’re looking for the perfect fall recipe, look no further. Once I spotted this recipe on Smitten Kitchen’s site, I knew I had to make it. Nevermind that canned pumpkin basically doesn’t exist here in Amsterdam, which meant I had to make my own from scratch. And maybe after finally finding a pumpkin and roasting it, draining it, and pureeing it, I discovered that the pumpkin I bought didn’t make quite enough puree for the recipe. Of course. So KC kindly went back to the store and bought another pumpkin, which I then roasted, drained and pureed, yet again.

img_0013The good news is that this mishap means I have enough puree to make two loaves now, which is great since the first loaf is shaping up to be gone by the end of the day…  img_0017Loaf pans are also weirdly tough to track down here. (Well, bakeware in general seems not as readily available as it is in the US, but maybe I also just don’t know where to shop yet.) I finally found a pan at a large department store over the weekend, though it is a bit of a different shape than the loaf pans we have in the US — much longer and skinnier. img_0019Honestly, I can’t recommend this recipe enough. I mean, Smitten Kitchen recipes tend to be Ina-level successful, so I figured Deb wouldn’t steer me wrong here. But really, if you like pumpkin bread — this is the jam. It comes together quickly and makes the whole house smell like fall while it’s baking. What more could you want? img_0029You can find the recipe for the Pumpkin Bread here, and the recipe for homemade pumpkin puree below:

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Cut pumpkin in half and remove the stem. (Put your back into it — it’s tough!) Scoop out the seeds, then place pumpkin cut-side down on a baking sheet wrapped in foil.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes to an hour, until the skin and flesh are easily poked with a fork. (Cooking time will vary based on size and type of pumpkin.)
  4. Let cool, then scoop flesh into a fine mesh strainer and let sit over a bowl to drain some of the liquid.
  5. Once drained, blend the flesh in a food processor or in a bowl with a hand blender.
  6. Store in an airtight container in the fridge up to one week, or in the freezer up to three months.

*If you have a large/tough pumpkin, you can speed up the roasting process by cutting it into pieces prior to roasting. This does make scooping the cooked flesh out a little more tedious, so consider peeling the pumpkin first if you’re going to go this route.

Brunch / Fall / Sweet

Olive Oil Apple Snack Cake

October 18, 2016

img_9979After seeing this cake on another blog, an immediate craving for fall baked goods set in. Baking here in Amsterdam is tricky, as I don’t have a mixer or a lot of bakeware, plus the Dutch seem to lack a lot of common baking items in readily available places like the grocery store. Not to mention that brown sugar doesn’t exist here. Instead they have something called basterdsuiker, which is not the same thing (and I’m just gonna go ahead and hold my thoughts on the name).

This cake, luckily, uses really common ingredients, and even though the recipe calls for a 10″ cake pan, I thought my casserole dish would work fine for the size, which it did.

This cake is as perfect for breakfast as it is for a mid-afternoon snack, so if you have a brunch coming up — this might just be the perfect thing. It keeps well overnight covered in foil as well, so feel free to make it ahead — it’s fairly sturdy. It’s also pretty foolproof, so it’s a great one to get little hands involved in if you have some kiddos who want to join in the baking process.

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Olive Oil Apple Snack Cake

from Sunday Suppers via Wit & Delight

  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 medium apples
  • juice of one lemon
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and grease a 10″ cake pan, springform pan, or 12″ x 8″ casserole pan.
  2. Whisk together eggs and sugar, then stir in olive oil, milk and lemon zest until combined.
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt, then add dry ingredients to the wet, stirring just to combine (don’t overmix).
  4. Peel apples and slice thinly, then toss in lemon juice to keep them from browning.
  5. Pour batter into your prepared pan and top with sliced apples.
  6. Bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Tent with foil if top is browning too quickly (check it at about 30 minutes — you’ll likely need to add the foil then.) Let cool completely in the pan before serving. Cover with foil or plastic wrap to store.

Birthdays / DIY / Sweet

A Fancy $19 Cake

May 12, 2016

img_8352-1In case you couldn’t tell from yesterday’s post, I am pretty proud of the tiny smash cake that I made for P’s birthday.

I aspire to be one of those people who makes adorable confections with the perfectly piped icing and sweet, cakey layers. But… I hate cake. I love the idea of decorating a cake, but eating it? Ew. I’m just not into it.

So anyway, for Prim’s party I was totally torn about what to do for dessert. I knew we were going to have a pretty sizable crowd of people attending, so anything homemade would be a bit of an undertaking. I liked the idea of having a traditional birthday cake, but wasn’t feeling particularly motivated to tackle making it myself. I had toyed with the idea of a Costco cake, since those cakes are actually quite good (according to the people I know who like and eat cake) and are very affordable, but I was sort of turned off by the cake designs.

While I was hemming and hawing over what to do, it suddenly dawned on me — why didn’t I just order a plain Costco cake and decorate it myself? Genius!

img_8348-1So that’s what I did. I ordered a plain white cake from the Costco bakery, and did it up like so:

img_8350-1I had purchased that glittery “one” for P’s smash cake, but it ended up being too big for the tiny cake, so I repurposed it for the larger one and surrounded it with fresh peonies, gerbera daisies and babies breath.

I had searched high and low for those old-school sugar letters that every grocery store used to sell and apparently none of them carry them anymore! What happened to them? I was stressing over having to potentially hand-letter a happy birthday message when I came up with the perfect solution:

img_8294Trader Joe’s to the rescue! Thank god for those little cookies. They were the perfect size and totally fit with the theme of the cake. img_8349-1img_8351-1So that’s how I turned a $19 Costco cake into a treat fit for any party. I’d totally recommend this for any occasion. Honestly, the cake looked freaking wedding-worthy (I thought, anyway), and it was so fun to decorate.

I’ll definitely be repeating this craft for many birthdays and parties to come!

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