I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Blackberry Sage Skillet Cake

Blackberry Sage Skillet Cake

Fruit and herbs are a wonderful combination. I’ve made Peaches Poached in Basil, a Blueberry Basil Compote, even a Strawberry Mint Vinaigrette. Blackberries and sage a re a lovely pairing, the berries are sweet and the sage woodsy, but together they sing. Sage isn’t generally associated with sweet recipe, but it should be for the lovely herbaceous tone it adds.

I’ve added sage to blackberry jam for years – its one of my standard summer recipes, but I hadn’t really considered using sage in baking. I’ve been experimenting with various herbs in baking recently, and when I decided to use some fresh farmers market berries in this classic upside down cake recipe, I wanted to give sage a chance. It creates this elusive note of herbal freshness under the dark, sweet juiciness of the berries. The cake is tender and moist enough to soak in some of the juices, but not terribly sweet so the berries really shine. A bright note of lemon zest helps bring the whole together.

This cake is lovely on its own for dessert, though I could easily see it at breakfast. A dollop of whipped cream – perhaps infused with sage – or a big scoop of rich vanilla bean ice cream wouldn’t go amiss. And don’t these simple skillet cakes make an impressive presentation?

Blackberry Sage Skillet Cake
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 10 Tablespoons butter at room temperature
  2. 1 nice bunch of fresh sage, 5 -6 leaves and 2 Tablespoons finely chopped
  3. 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  4. ¾ cups granulated sugar
  5. 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  9. 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  10. ½ teaspoon salt
  11. ½ cup buttermilk
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Melt 4 Tablespoons of butter in a 10–inch oven safe skillet over medium heat. Drop in 5 – 6 sage leaves to infuse the butter. When the butter is melted and fragrant from the sage, remove the sage leaves, squeezing them against the side of the skillet to remove as much butter as possible. Stir in the dark brown sugar and cook briefly, just until smooth and melted. Do not let it burn. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 Tablespoon chopped sage. Spread the sugar mixture evenly over the skillet, then sprinkle the blackberries in an even layer over the sugar.
  3. Beat the remaining 6 Tablespoons of butter with the ¾ cup granulated sugar in the bowl of a mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in 1 Tablespoon of chopped sage, the lemon zest and vanilla until combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, blending thoroughly before adding the next egg, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the flour, baking powder and salt in two additions, alternating with the buttermilk, scraping the sides of the bowl.
  4. Scrape the batter over the top of the berries and smooth the top. Bake the cake for 30 minutes, rotating the skillet half way through the cooking time, until the top is a lovely golden brown a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
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Peanut Butter and Jelly Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

I never tire of peanut butter and jelly. I have a peanut butter sandwich (no jelly, whole wheat bread, natural peanut butter) for lunch most days. The jelly is a special treat, particularly when I have some homemade strawberry preserves on hand. It still makes me feel like a kid, though no one cuts my crusts off for me anymore. Baking the classic childhood flavors up into a sweet treat is a fun way to expand on the pairing – kids and adults will love it. And what could be more American for a summer picnic or party?

The classic 9 by 13 cake is a great party take-along. It serves a lot of people, and sweet cake like this can even be served in smaller portions to stretch it out. This cake keeps well, so make it a day ahead and keep it covered on the counter. It even gets a little moister! It is rich, but you could absolutely serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting
Serves 16
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Ingredients
  1. For the Cake
  2. ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks butter)
  3. 1 cup water
  4. ½ cup creamy peanut butter (not natural)
  5. 2 cups light brown sugar
  6. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  7. ½ teaspoon baking soda
  8. ¼ teaspoon salt
  9. ½ cup buttermilk
  10. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  11. 2 eggs
  12. ½ cup jam, jelly or preserves (I like strawberry)
  13. For the Frosting
  14. ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  15. 1/3 cup buttermilk
  16. ½ cup creamy peanut butter (not natural)
  17. 4 ¼ cups (1 pound box) confectioners sugar
Instructions
  1. For the Cake
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 9 by 13 baking dish thoroughly with cooking spray.
  3. Put the butter, water and peanut butter in a large, about 4 – 5 quart, pot and place over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until everything is smooth and incorporated. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the brown sugar until incorporated. Add the flour, baking soda and salt and stir until smooth. Stir in the buttermilk and vanilla. Let the batter cool for a few minutes. Break the eggs into the measuring cup you used for the buttermilk and lightly beat. Add to the batter and beat until smooth and thoroughly combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
  4. Dollop the jam by evenly spaced tablespoons over the batter, then use a thin knife blade or a skewer to swirl the jelly through the batter. It doesn’t need to be perfect or pretty, just try and get the jelly throughout the cake. Bake the cake for 25 – 30 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
For the frosting
  1. Rinse out and dry the pot you used for the cake batter.
  2. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, bring the butter, buttermilk, peanut butter and vanilla to a boil over medium high heat, stirring until smooth and incorporated. Remove the pan from the heat and quickly beat in the confectioners sugar, by hand or with an electric mixer, until smooth. Pour the warm frosting over the warm cake and carefully spread it over the top.
  3. Leave the cake to cool, then cut into squares and serve.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/
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Blueberry, Coconut and Lime Bake

Blueberry, Coconut and Lime Bake

I’ll admit, blueberries and coconut are not a combination I would have thought up. Then I had a blueberry and coconut popsicle at a Mexican paleta shop and the idea sort of took off. I’ve been thinking of interesting and complex ways to make the most out of the combo, dreaming up ideas for cakes and bars and pies to create recipes for. In the meantime, I rather accidently converted an old recipe to the new ingredient and it worked out so well, I thought I better share it.

My first pass at this used lemon, and it was delicious. But when I was making it again to photograph and test, it occurred to me that lime added to the slightly tropical feel of the coconut, and, well, I happened to have some limes on the counter. This dessert is so simple with so much reward. Use those last berries from your farmers market haul and the rest of the ingredients are probably already hanging around. The coconut adds a wonderful, slightly chewy texture with a little zip from the limes and a nice burst of juicy berries.

Blueberry, Coconut and Lime Bake
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 ½ sticks butter
  2. ½ cup plus 1 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  3. 1 egg
  4. 3 Tablespoons sour cream
  5. ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  6. ½ cup all-purpose flour
  7. ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  8. ½ teaspoon salt
  9. juice and zest of one lime
  10. 1 pint blueberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 1 quart baking dish.
  2. Beat the butter and ½ cup sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in the egg until combined, then the sour cream until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Stir in the lime zest until it is evenly distributed. Beat in the coconut, flour, baking powder and salt until the batter is thoroughly combined and smooth.
  3. Sprinkle most of the blueberries over the bottom of the prepared dish, reserving a small handful for the top. Squeeze the lime juice over the top of the blueberries. Spoon the batter over the berries and spread out to evenly cover. I find a slightly damp hand the best tool for this. Press the remaining berries over the top of the batter, then sprinkle over the remaining 1 Tablespoon of sugar.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes until the top is golden brown and firm.
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Strawberry Ricotta Cake

Strawberry Ricotta Cake

It has taken me awhile to realize that ricotta cheese is an incredibly versatile ingredient. For most of my life, I only ever encountered it in lasagna. But years of cooking and research has shown me that it is good for so much more. Now when I say this, I mean good, whole milk ricotta that is rich and creamy and moist, not the skim variety that can get a bit dry and leaden in that lasagna filling. You’ll find it at better grocery stores. I occasionally make my own ricotta, which is an incredibly easy project (search a recipe online) with great rewards. That I tried with fresh sliced strawberries drizzled with honey and realized what a great combination it makes.

So I turned the idea into a very simple cake, lightly sweetened with honey so the berries really shine. This recipe is not complex or difficult, but it is one of those dishes that makes me feel like a really sophisticated cook. For a little added sweetness and color, slice some strawberries, sprinkle them with sugar and let them sit while the cake bakes and cools. They’ll produce a lovely syrup that is delicious drizzled over the sliced cake.

Strawberry Ricotta Cake
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. butter for greasing the pan
  2. 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  3. 4 eggs
  4. 1 ½ cups whole milk ricotta
  5. ¼ cup honey
  6. zest of 1 lemon
  7. seeds scraped from ½ of a vanilla bean
  8. ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  9. 5 -6 strawberries, sliced
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly coat an 8-inch springform pan with butter. Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of butter in the pan and shake and rotate it until the sugar evenly coats the sides and the bottom of the pan. Tap any excess sugar out of the pan.
  2. Separate the eggs. Beat the whites in a small bowl until they hold stiff peaks. Put the yolks into a large bowl with the ricotta, honey, lemon zest and vanilla seeds. Beat until smooth and creamy. Beat in the flour until the batter is completely combined.
  3. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter a third at a time, making sure each addition is combined before adding the next. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Artfully arrange the sliced strawberries over the top of the batter, then sprinkle the remaining 1 Tablespoon of sugar evenly over the top of the cake.
  4. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes until the cake is firm and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan.
  5. Remove the sides of the pan and slice. If you’d like, you can serve with some sliced strawberries sprinkled with sugar.
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Hummingbird Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Filling and Pineapple Cream Cheese Glaze

I love a traditional Southern cake, but my ability to successfully make beautiful layered creations is limited at best. So I am always looking for ways to reimagine the classic layer cakes in Bundt, loaf or sheet form. I can’t make a tall caramel cake or a lusciously frosted red velvet, so I developed cheats that offer all the deliciousness without the wonky, lopsided, collapsing layers I usually end up with.

One of my favorite Southern cakes is the Hummingbird, moist with pineapple and banana and lightly spiced. I’ve converted this cake to a Bundt version, I’d say reconstructing rather than deconstructing the classic. Instead of the layers of billowing cream cheese frosting on a the traditional cake, I fulfill the cream cheese requirement with a cream cheese and pecan filling and cover the cake with a pineapple-boosted glaze. I love the added sweetness of diced sweetened dried pineapple sprinkled on top, plus it makes the finished product pretty.

Hummingbird Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Filling and Pineapple Cream Cheese Glaze
Serves 10
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Ingredients
  1. For the Filling
  2. 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  3. ½ cup granulated sugar
  4. 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  5. 1 egg
  6. ½ teaspoon vanilla
  7. ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  8. ½ cup chopped pecans
  9. For the Cake
  10. 3 bananas
  11. 4 eggs
  12. 1 cup canola oil
  13. 2 cups granulated sugar
  14. 1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
  15. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  16. 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  17. 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  18. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  19. ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  20. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  21. ½ cup chopped pecans
  22. For the Glaze
  23. 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  24. 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  25. 3 – 4 Tablespoons pineapple juice
  26. dried sweetened pineapple pieces
  27. chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 12 cup Bundt pan thoroughly with baking spray such as Baker’s Joy.
  2. For the filling
  3. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, flour, egg, vanilla and cinnamon together in the small bowl of a stand mixer until smooth. Add the pecans and beat until thoroughly combined. Set the filling aside while you make the batter.
  4. For the Batter
  5. Thinly slice the bananas and add to the large bowl of stand mixer and add the eggs. Turn the mixer on medium low and add the oil and sugar and beat until smooth. Add the pineapple and vanilla and keep beating until the mixture is smooth. Add the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg and beat until the batter is smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  6. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly. Using a large spoon, dollop the cream cheese filling in a ring in the center of the batter. Try your best to keep it in the center of the batter. Cover the filling evenly with the remaining batter. Bake the cake for 50 minutes to an hour, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cover the top of the cake loosely with foil if it starts to brown too much. Cool the cake completely in the pan set on a wire rack, then turn it out onto the rack. Place a piece of waxed paper or foil under the rack to catch drips when you glaze the cake.
For the Glaze
  1. Beat the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in the small bowl of a mixer until smooth. Drizzle in the pineapple juice, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until you have a thick, spoonable glaze. Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake, pushing some of it drip down the sides. Garnish the top with the dried pineapple and chopped pecans.
Notes
  1. My stand mixer came with two bowls. I use the small bowl to make the filling, rinse and dry it and use it to make the glaze. I use the larger bowl to make the batter. If you don’t have two bowls, make the filling in the bowl, then scrape it into another bowl, clean the mixer bowl and proceed.
  2. If you don’t want to buy a big bottle of pineapple juice, look in the Latin section of the grocery for individual cans of pineapple nectar. Use the remainder to make a sweet tea punch, a great accompaniment to a slice of Hummingbird!
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/
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Strawberry Almond Morning Cake

Strawberry Almond Morning Cake

The strawberries are here! The strawberries are here! I anticipate strawberry season all year. I know you can buy strawberries every day now, but there is nothing like a fresh, seasonal, locally grown berry. So I wait. I may use some frozen berries during the out-of season-months, but I rarely buy the berries in the produce section. The farmers markets here start before strawberry season (the middle of April) starts, but things get exciting once the strawberries arrive. All this waiting makes the berries even sweeter, and as they fade, I look forward to the next berry harvest – blueberries and raspberries.

All this means I make the most of strawberry season while its here. I call this morning cake, because it makes a wonderful breakfast or brunch treat, not too sweet, but hearty and fresh with the burst of juicy berries. It has a lovely grainy, nutty texture from the almond meal that sets this apart from a typical coffee cake. The drizzle of creamy almond glaze ups the sweetness (you can certainly leave it off) and adds an extra hit of almond flavor. I am not, of course, saying this couldn’t be served as dessert with a scoop of ice cream or a pillow of whipped cream.

Strawberry Almond Morning Cake
Serves 9
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Ingredients
  1. For the Cake
  2. 1 pound strawberries
  3. ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) butter, softened
  4. 1 cup granulated sugar
  5. 2 eggs
  6. ½ teaspoon vanilla
  7. ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  8. 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  9. 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  10. ¾ teaspoon salt
  11. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  12. 1 3/4 cup ground almond meal
  13. ¼ cup heavy cream
  14. For the Drizzle
  15. 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  16. 4 – 5 Tablespoons heavy cream
  17. 1 teaspoon almond extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Hull the strawberries and reserve 5 or 6 pretty ones to top the cake. Dice the remaining berries into small pieces.
  3. Beat the butter and the sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl and making sure the first is incorporated before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla and almond extract.
  4. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg together in a small bowl, then beat into the batter on low speed, scraping the bowl as needed. When the flour is fully incorporated, beat in the almond meal and cream just until combined.
  5. Spread half the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan. The batter will be thick, and I find it easiest to use lightly wet, clean hands to press it in an even layer. Sprinkle the diced berries over the batter in an even layer, pressing them lightly into the batter. Dollop the remaining batter over the top and use wet hands to press it in evenly over the top of the berries. Do your best to cover everything, but if a few little berries are poking out, it’s okay. Decorate the top of the batter with some strawberry halves if you’d like.
  6. Bake the cake for 45 – 55 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and the top is firm and golden. Cool the cake completely.
For the Glaze
  1. Whisk the confectioner’s sugar cream and extract together in a small bowl until smooth and drizzle-able. Use a spoon to artistically drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake and leave to set.
  2. Slice into squares and serve.
Notes
  1. I like this cake even better the next day.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/
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Old Fashioned Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

Old Fashioned Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

I’ll admit, with all the travel to share Pimento Cheese The Cookbook I did in the fall, I got a little behind on recipe planning. So I’ve had a bit of a scramble to get myself organized, get things tested and photographed and out on the blog. When I started thinking about Valentine’s Day, I racked my brain to come up with something decadent, romantic, creative and over the top. But the ideas just weren’t coming. So I stepped back and said to myself, just think of something really chocolatey. And this was the first recipe that came to mind. The starting point for this is written on piece of lined notebook paper, in a much younger version of my handwriting. I must of copied it out of a cookbook or from somebody, maybe when I was a teenager. I know it was a staple of my repertoire for awhile, but I was surprised that my mind brought it out when I needed to think of chocolate. I mean, that’s going back aways! I’ve updated the recipe a bit, streamlining it and making the frosting a touch easier to work with, but this is just plain, old fashioned good.

I made this again for friends and one immediately asked for the recipe, because it was just like something here grandmother used to make, so I knew I’d hit on the right recipe for Valentine’s. Because showing someone you care isn’t just about fancy frippery and gimmicks, it’s about good old fashioned love and kindness, and this cake just shouts that out.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Buttermilk Cake
Serves 12
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For the Cake
  1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 2 cups granulated sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  4. ½ teaspoon salt
  5. 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  6. 1 cup water
  7. 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  8. ½ cup buttermilk
  9. 2 eggs
  10. 1 teaspoon vanilla
For the Frosting
  1. ¼ cup (half of a stick) of butter
  2. 4 Tablespoons buttermilk
  3. 3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  4. 2 ¼ cups powdered sugar
  5. ½ teaspoon vanilla
For the Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9 by 13 inch glass baking dish.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place the butter, water and cocoa powder in a pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. With the mixer running, pour the hot chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Add the buttermilk, then the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25- 30 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
For the frosting
  1. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, bring the butter, cocoa and buttermilk to a boil in a pan (you can use the same one used earlier). Remove the pan from the heat and beat in the powdered sugar until smooth.
  2. Pour the warm frosting over the still warm cake, tilting the pan to cover the cake evenly, and leave to cool.
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Eggnog Pound Cake

Eggnog Pound Cake

Pound cake is one of the best holiday desserts out there. It is easy to make, can be made ahead, is perfect for transport and imminently customizable. Pound cake really just uses the most basic techniques of baking, made easy using an electric mixer, and it’s a pretty forgiving process. A pound cake can easily be made a few days ahead and kept wrapped tightly on the counter. It can even be frozen (without a glaze or frosting). And if the cake dries out, toast the slices and serve with a drizzle of sauce. A pound cake is sturdy, so it can travel to a party or a road trip without fear of layers sliding apart. And the list of what you can do with a pound cake is endless. Serve it with ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate, caramel or fruit sauce. Berries, poached fruit, jam or a combination of any of the above.

Here, I up the holiday factor by adding in one of my favorite festive flavors, eggnog. The sweet, creamy flavor is incorporated both into the cake and with a rich frosting, all set off by spicy nutmeg. This cake can make a simple, homey treat or an impressive display. Put it on your favorite funny Santa plate or an elegant cake stand as a centerpiece for a dessert buffet.

Eggnog Pound Cake
Serves 12
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For the cake
  1. 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  2. 3 cups granulated sugar
  3. 6 eggs
  4. 3 cups flour
  5. ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  6. ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  7. ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  8. 1 cup prepared eggnog
For the frosting
  1. ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  2. ¼ cup eggnog, at room temperature
  3. ½ teaspoon vanilla
  4. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  5. 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
For the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Grease and flour a 12 cup bundt pan.
  2. Beat the butter in the bowl of a large stand mixer on medium until creamy. Slowly add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, a good 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Combine the flour, nutmeg, salt and baking soda and add the creamed mixture, alternating with the eggnog. Do this in three additions, ending with eggnog. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 -60 minutes until a tester inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Cover the top of the cake loosely with foil if it begins to brown to much. Cool the cake in the pan for about 10 minutes, then invert it on a wire rack to cool completely.
For the frosting
  1. Beat the butter, eggnog, vanilla and nutmeg together in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium until smooth and creamy. Add the confectioner’s sugar gradually and beat until combined and smooth. You want a thick but pourable icing, so adjust with extra eggnog or sugar as needed. Spoon the frosting over the completely cooled cake.
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Gingerbread Brownies with Buttermilk Glaze

Gingerbread Brownies with Buttermilk Glaze

My first introduction to “gingerbread” was the cute crisp gingerbread men cookies decorated with cinnamon candies and white icing we are all so familiar with. Few of those were homemade, and none ever did much for me. So I really never much thought of gingerbread as a favorite part of my holiday season. Those cookies sure are cute, but not much in the flavor department.

But then I discovered, deep, dark, cakey, traditional gingerbread and I was hooked. The warm spices of gingerbread are now a true holiday favorite for me. I love the way gingerbread smells, while the batter is being stirred up and as the gingerbread bakes. The combination of spices and the rich, deep molasses are immediately homey and comforting. These bars are a fun way to share the classically holiday flavors of gingerbread at any party or gathering. The sweet and tangy buttermilk glaze adds an extra layer of lovely.

Gingerbread Brownies with Buttermilk Glaze
Serves 16
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For the Brownies
  1. 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  4. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  5. ½ teaspoon baking powder
  6. ½ teaspoon salt
  7. ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  8. ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  9. ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  10. 2 large eggs
  11. 1/3 cup molasses
  12. ¼ cup butter, melted and cooled
For the Glaze
  1. 1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
  2. 3 Tablespoons buttermilk
  3. ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 8 by 8 inch brownie pan with non-stick foil or parchment.
  2. Mix the flour, brown sugar, baking powder salt and spices together in a large bowl. Use a fork to combine everything and break up any lumps of brown sugar.
  3. In another bowl, combine the eggs, molasses and melted butter until thoroughly combined. Add to the dry ingredients and stir together until everything is incorporated and there are no dry ingredients visible. The molasses is thick, so this will take a little effort.
  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and use lightly moistened fingers to press it out to the edges and smooth the top. Bake for 20 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs clinging to it.
  5. Cool the brownies in the pan.
For the Glaze
  1. While the bars are cooling, whisk together the glaze ingredients, making sure there are no lumps. Spread the glaze over the baked bars and leave to set, at least 15 minutes. Lift the brownies out of the pan using the foil or parchment. Cut into bars.
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Decadent Chocolate Bread Pudding (and variations)

Decandent Chocolate Bread Pudding

I’ve been making this bread pudding for years, when I really want to pull out the stops for a decadent, but homey, dessert. It’s another of those recipes written on card, transferred to a notebook, moved to a file folder – the victim of my many attempts to organize a lifetimes worth of shared and saved recipes. The chocolate custard soaks through the bread and the chocolate morsels add little surprises of molten chocolate. This is not a dessert for the faint of heart.

When I was making this again to test and photograph it, I was suddenly struck with great indecision. Should I make a peppermint version? Add a new sauce? I finally decided the most helpful thing to do would be to stick with the basics and share this template recipe, which is utterly delicious and perfect as it is. But I offer some seasonal variations and additional trimmings from the archives.

Decadent Chocolate Bread Pudding (and variations)
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound loaf challah bread or soft Italian bread
  2. 3 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
  3. 8 ounces semisweet chocolate
  4. 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  5. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  6. 5 large eggs
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  8. ½ cup whole milk
  9. 11.5 ounce bag milk chocolate morsels
Instructions
  1. Cut the bread into roughly 1-inch chunks and set aside.
  2. Break the chocolate into small pieces and drop it in a food processor. Heat 1 cup of the heavy cream in the microwave (about 45 seconds) or in a saucepan until just steaming. Do not boil or bubble. Process the chocolate for a few seconds to break it up, then pour over the warm cream and process until smooth. Leave to cool for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the sugar, the melted butter and the vanilla to the chocolate mixture and process until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, processing until smooth between each addition. Scrape the chocolate mixture into a capacious bowl –one that will fit the bread too. Stir in the remaining 2 cups cream and ½ cup milk and stir until smooth. Add the bread cubes and the chocolate morsels to the bowl and gently stir until the bread is well coated, the morsels are evenly distributed and everything is well combined. Scrape the mixture into a greased 9 by 13 inch baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, but up to six.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°. Take the baking dish out of the fridge for 10 – 15 minutes to get the chill off. Bake for 55 minutes to an hour, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Serve warm.
Notes
  1. You can serve this with ice cream, plain vanilla, salted caramel or peppermint or with whipped cream, or try it drizzled with Toffee Sauce or Bourbon Sauce.
  2. Give an autumn twist by adding 2 cups of dried cranberries, soaked in a little brandy to plump and ½ cup chopped walnuts, using just 1 cup of chocolate morsels.
  3. As the holidays approach, mix this up to make a Mint Chocolate Bread Pudding. Swap the vanilla for ½ teaspoon peppermint extract and use white chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate. Sprinkle the top with crushed peppermint candies before serving.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/
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