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Dessert

mint is everywhere lately, it seems. from kitchens to cakes, mixed drinks to nailpolish. here are some of my current minty cravings. 

a summer spent lounging in inner tubes. preferably in chic pigtails like this lil lady. Image

this is more evergreen than mint – but don’t you want to be here, listening to the water pass you by, feeling teeny tiny fish tickle your feet? take me here.

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mint chocolate chip ice cream is on my list of must-makes for this summer. last summer, i conquered coffee. this year, i’m mastering mint. 

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i’m not sure what this is, or how you make it, but i want some. talk about minty fresh. 

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is there anything better than mint and chocolate together? no. i think not. 

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a classier, updated version of essie’s turks and caicos. slightly turquoise, slightly mint, totally chic. get on my nails, scotch. 

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as my few loyal followers (hi, family and a couple friends) may recall, last week i posted a recipe for best ever brownies, which, i have to remind you, are totally delicious. as you also may remember, i stated in that post that these brownies were perfect for mix ins, like s’mores, for example.

well, now i’ve gone and mixed in graham crackers and mini marshmallows, and the results are spectacular. the marshmallows give the brownies an ooey gooey quality that can’t be beat, and the graham crackers somehow melted into just a tiny bit of crunch – but not too much crunch, so you’re not biting into a bit of brownie and scraping your gum. since in new york we don’t exactly have campfires on the regular, i’ll be putting this brownie recipe into regular rotation. next up, i’m thinking i’ll attempt s’more ice cream sandwiches…can ya dig it? YUM. 

anywho, if you want to make these, consult the best ever brownies recipe, and then throw in 1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers and 1 1/2 cup mini marshmallows.

try and resist the urge to eat the entire pan as soon as they come out of the oven. i tried and all i got was a burnt tongue and singed fingers.

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a few weeks before i started my blog, my friend alissa emailed me a recipe for grapefruit bread – to which i immediately responded something along the lines of, “i hate grapefruit with a passion but i’ll happily make it for you!” fast forward a month or so, when i sent out an email to my friends and family notifying them that i’d started the blog, asking them to request their favorite recipes/anything they’d like to see on sarah’s sweets. alissa, of course, wanted to see her grapefruit bread.

well, liss, here it is. and you know what? it’s damn delicious. yes, i still hate grapefruit. i think it’s the bastard child of the orange – pretty but way too sour. i don’t really like oranges either, mind you, but grapefruits…those i really can’t stand. i’m not a huge fan of those folks who eat a half grapefruit for breakfast, either. as if that sort of thing could sustain a person any longer than 20 minutes. so this recipe is not to say i’m on team grapefruit, because i’m not. i remain firmly on team cantaloupe, thank you very much. but that being said, i’ll admit – this bread (or cake, really, because there’s enough sugar in it to be called cake, i’m only calling it bread because it’s in bread form) is DELISH. as in, i may or may not have brought it to a rooftop party on sunday and eaten multiple slices myself. i also may or may not have eaten another slice for breakfast the next morning. 

it’s perfectly moist – like a really good cupcake, and the zest in the batter gives it a sweet, citrusy flavor that can’t be beat. it’s perfect for summer brunches, would be delectable dipped in a cup of tea, and would also make a great gift, if you’re into gifting baked goods (which i am). it’s best if eaten within the first day, but it’ll last a few if you wrap it tightly. but judging by how fast mine went, it probably won’t last long. the best baked goods never do.

i used this recipe. i added a bit of extra vanilla (always do when i’m baking) and used my (enormous) grapefruit for both the zest and the juice. ain’t nothin’ like the real thing, babyyyy…

note: this recipe looks longer and more complicated than it really is. don’t be alarmed. it’s easy!

The Recipe

For the cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grapefruit zest
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract*

For the syrup:

1 cup grapefruit juice
2/3 cup granulated sugar

For the glaze: 
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon grapefruit juice

*i used 2 teaspoons

to make, preheat your oven to 350. line a bread pan with parchment paper and trim the edges so you have about 1″ of overflow on all sides. if your paper doesn’t want to stay, throw something heavy in there to hold it in place. i used a soup can.

mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium size bowl. set aside. in the bowl of your stand mixer (or just a large bowl if you don’t have a stand mixer), mix the zest and sugar together with your fingers, until the sugar is fragrant. it’ll smell delicious. i dare you not to shove some in your mouth at this time. Image

next, beat the eggs, one at a time, into the sugar/zest mixture. beat on medium speed for about three minutes, until the mixture has thickened. add the next three ingredients in this order, with the mixer on as you go: milk, oil, and vanilla. 

turn the mixer down to low, and add the dry ingredients. beat until just combined. pour batter into your bread pan (remove the soup can first). spray a butter knife with nonstick spray and run it down the middle of the batter. this helps to create that even cracked line down the middle of the bread, ie, it makes you look like a real pro.

bake for 30 minutes, then rotate your pan and bake another 30 – or however long it takes (mine took about 40 minutes). you’ll know it’s done when you insert a toothpick in and it comes out with tiny grapefruit-y crumbs on it. 

while your bread is baking, make the syrup. combine the sugar and the grapefruit juice in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. stir to dissolve the sugar, then simmer another minute. remove from heat. 

when your bread is done, take it out and sit the pan on a cooling rack. immediately, take your toothpick (or a fork) and poke tiny little holes in the top of the bread. brush the bread with your syrup – it’ll soak in through the little holes you just made. don’t be surprised if you can’t use all the syrup; i couldn’t. but brush that baby up good. trust it’ll make for a better bread. 

let the bread cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then remove it (parchment paper and all) from the pan and put it on the cooling rack. then, let the bread and the cooling rack get to know one another for a while. once the bread is at room temperature, whisk the confectioner’s sugar and the grapefruit juice together to make the glaze, and drizzle that bad boy. glaze is what makes this bread a cake, i think. or maybe it’s shit ton of sugar you put in the batter. whatever. it looks like a bread so i call it a bread. tomato, tomahto, bread, cake. 

et voila! you’ve got yourself a citrusy cakebread that’s perfect for BBQs, brunches and more. thank you, alissa, and thank you, grapefruit. you’re alright, i guess. 

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as much as i love cookie dough – straight to the face, homemade, eaten sitting on my couch in my oversized flannel PJ pants while watching house hunters – sometimes, a girl just wants a brownie. an ooey gooey mess of chocolate that leaves a trail of crumbs in its wake. i’ve tackled red velvet brownies, but last night, i just wanted to plain old CHOCOLATE. so i turned to my ice cream guru david lebovitz, who, surprise surprise, has some pretty other fantastic recipes too. like these brownies, which are quite possibly the easiest thing in the world to make. you’ll have to trust me when i tell you these are THE BEST. THE BEST EVER. as in, you can cover me with these brownies when you bury me (or at the very least, leave a few in my coffin for me to eat during my eternal slumber). i added some extra chocolate chips to mine, but i get the sense that you can add just about anything to these and they’d still be delicious. which makes me think that next up, i’m going to make s’more brownies. think of it…chocolate…crushed graham crackers…MARSHMALLOWS…i’m salivating just thinking about it.

so, without further adieu, best ever brownies.

The Recipe

Makes about 9-12 brownies, depending on how big/little you slice ’em.

6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces

8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (i just used about 3/4 of a bag of semi sweet chips from trader joe’s)

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla (i added 2…whoopsies, a bit liberal with the pouring)

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1/4 cup all purpose flour (yes, that’s it)

1 cup walnuts, or whatever else you want to mix in (you can skip this step all together if you’d like)

to make, preheat your oven to 350. line a 9 x 9 baking pan with tinfoil or parchment paper.

melt the butter in a saucepan* over medium to low heat. once butter is melted, mix in the chocolate. stir until melted and smooth. resist the temptation to stick your fingers in it/slather your body with it. it should resemble willy wonka’s chocolate river.

*if you have a stand mixer, use a small pan – you’ll do your mixing in the kitchenaid. if you don’t have a stand mixer, use a large saucepan  – you’ll do all your mixing in it.

remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the sugar and the vanilla. transfer the mixture to your stand mixer and beat in the eggs, one at a time. if you don’t have a stand mixer, keep everything in one place – but still beat the eggs in one at a time. once evenly combined, add the flour. beat vigorously for 60 seconds. count it out. twirl your hair. practice your vocabulary. call your BFF and leave a lengthy voicemail. whatever you do, make sure you beat for the full minute. at the onset, the batter will appear grainy, but once you’ve beat it (just beat it…BEATTT ITTTT…BEAT ITTT…sing it, MJ!), it will be smooth and creamy and delicious. now you can stick your fingers in. just one little taste. you deserve it. it’s been a long day.

if you’re adding mix-ins, add them now and mix just enough to fold them in. pour the batter into the pan and use a spatula to ensure it’s spread out fairly evenly. bake in the middle of your oven for about 30 minutes. mine ended up taking around 40 to be done; ovens vary. check with a toothpick to ensure that the brownies are done before you take them out for good.

let cool fully. as in, don’t try to cut yourself a bite after twenty minutes. the brownies need to set. once they’ve cooled down, you can cut them up and distribute them to friends and loved ones and the homeless guy outside the post office if you feel so inclined.

ps: david lebovitz, you’re a good among men.

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what’s better than chocolate?

NOTHING. that’s right, folks. there’s little in life i believe to be better than chocolate. well, maybe cats. cats, and cookies – is it a coincidence that all these things start with the letter “c”? i think not. 

so, back to the chocolate. you know what’s good? a really well-made snickerdoodle. you know what’s even better than a really well-made snickerdoodle? a CHOCOLATE snickerdoodle. oh yes, my friends, a choc.o.late. snickerdoodle. break it down and think about it. think about all that cinnamon sugary goodness mixing with the amazing invention that is chocolate. i’m one of those people who thinks most things are made better by the addition of chocolate. peanut butter? way better when it’s with chocolate. mint? HELLO, peppermint patties! junior mints! those babies would be nothing without my dear friend chocolate. and while we’re on the subject, i’ll go right ahead and say it: when my dear aunt flo comes to visit, get outta my way, especially if “in my way” means “standing in front of the chocolate at the grocery store.” i think most women would agree, when it’s that time of the month (and when we’re sad/angry/happy/frustrated/cranky/tired/emotional), we need to find us some chocolate, and fast.

it was in one of these sad/happy/emotional states that i decided that snickerdoodles, an old standby in the spiced cookie category, could use a little, well, spicing up. and what better way to improve upon something already delicious than by adding chocolate? so add chocolate i did! and i am proud to say the results were pretty darn spectacular. these cookies still taste like traditional snickerdoodles, but they also, miraculously, taste like chocolate. these are so good, they’ve got me thinking i need to make me some mexican chocolate (cinnamon, almonds and vanilla) sometime soon. but we’ll save that for another day.

The Recipe (adapted from The All American Cookie Book’s recipe for “Best Ever Snickerdoodles”)

2 3/4 cups all purpose white flour

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

3 tbsp cocoa powder (i get mine at trader joe’s)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened (note: this means you can stick them in the mic – but only for about 15 seconds!)

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 1/2 tbsp light corn syrup

2 large eggs

2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For topping

1/4 cup sugar, combined with 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

preheat oven to 375. grease several baking sheets or line them with silicone baking mats. 

in a large bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder and nutmeg; set aside. in another large bowl (preferably a stand mixer), beat together the butter, sugar, and corn syrup until well blended and fluffy, about two minutes. add the eggs and vanilla and beat until well blended and smooth. turn the mixer to low/off and add half the flour mixture. increase speed and beat until the flour mixture is evenly incorporated. turn back down to low, add the remaining flour mixture, and beat again until incorporated.

let the dough stand for 5-10 minutes to firm up slightly. in the meantime, mix up your cinnamon sugar topping in a small bowl. 

when your dough is ready to go, roll portions into soft 1 1/2 inch balls. roll each ball in the cinnamon sugar mixture until fully covered. place on baking sheets, spacing evenly about 2-3 inches apart. bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, in the upper third of the oven for 8-11 minutes (mine took about 10). transfer the sheet to a wire rack and let stand until the cookies firm up slightly, 1-2 minutes. then, transfer the cookies to wire cooling racks. if you keep them on the hot baking sheets, they’ll continue to cook. let stand until completely cooled. now, eat, drool, and proceed to eat again.

store in an airtight container for up to 10 days or freeze for up to 2 months. 

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hi, my name is sarah, and i am a chai-a-holic. i can’t start my day without a venti iced nonfat chai from my besties over at starbucks (they really are my besties, they know my name and my order. we’re friends, right?). i’m partial to starbucks’ tazo brand, but if pressed, i can also drink oregon chai and whatever brand they serve at the green bean (a wonderful breakfast place in my hometown of northampton, mass). 

as an individual who could and should be admitted to chai rehab should such a thing ever be created, you can imagine my happiness when i stumbled across this recipe for chai cupcakes. chai CUPCAKES. i mean, hello GAWH-JUS. come to mama. i made these babies yesterday, and to my delight, they taste pretty darn close to the real thing. i couldn’t stop myself from shoving my fingers into the frosting a few times before i actually frosted the cupcakes themselves – but i’m telling you, if you make these for yourself, you won’t be able to stop either. frosting delirium. 

the cupcakes themselves are pretty close to perfect as well – not overly sweet; they could almost masquerade as muffins if they didn’t have frosting on top. lightbulb moment…can i eat these for breakfast?

i didn’t change a thing from this recipe, so hop on over there to see it for yourself. 

note: my cupcakes are decidedly less fancy-pants than miss jenna’s. when it comes to frosting, i’m not a piper. i like to just swirl it on with the spatula and let it settle. but that’s why hers look way prettier than mine. 


when i was a wee little thing back in high school, my nickname was “mrs. fields” – after the infamous cookie shop found in every suburban mall around the country, and supposed maven of all things chocolate chip. i loved me a good bake sale, and my a capella group always needed to raise more moolah. i spent many a first period sitting outside the library in a little nook that was positively made for bake sales, touting my brownies and cookies and things.

chocolate chip cookies are one of the first recipes i learned to bake myself (though i also make a mean no-cook peanut butter ball), but it took me years to truly perfect the art. you see, folks, there is an art to chocolate chip cookie baking. too sweet means you can’t eat much of them. too salty means they don’t taste like cookies. too flat means a crunch that simply shouldn’t be associated with anything in the cookie family, and don’t even try to talk to me about anything that comes from the pre-made area in the supermarket.

here are a few things i’ve learned over the years, otherwise known as “follow these rules if you want a perfect cookie.”

* always add a little more vanilla than the recipe calls for. don’t think, just pour.

* don’t over-melt your butter! it took me years to figure this out. YEARS, people. i’d read “slightly softened” and stick that baby in the microwave and end up with flatter than flat cookies. i have had many a meltdown over cookies that came out flat. i don’t even want to talk about it. actually, yes i do. in these situations, i freak out and through out the entire batch. i don’t do pancake cookies. can’t handle it. they make my eyes water the way onions do. when it comes to butter, room temperature means leave it out for a little while to soften. as a general rule, don’t put butter in the microwave. when you do, you tend to over-melt it. leave it out and let it do its thing. if your butter goes into the dough 75% melted, it’ll melt the other 25% in the oven – which is what makes for pancake cookies.

* keep your chocolate chips in the freezer. this way, when you add them into the dough, they’re cool – so they won’t totally melt when the dough goes into the oven.

* invest in a stand mixer. once you go kitchen aid, you never go back. trust.

The Recipe (taken from The All-American Cookie Book)
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (two sticks) butter, slightly softened (remember what we learned about butter above)
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (note: i like to add 3)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (i use the bag from trader joe’s)
optional: 2 cups nuts (i hate nuts. no nuts for me. keepin’ it simple.)
preheat the oven to 375. grease your baking sheets, or lay silicone baking mats (lifesavers!) on your baking sheets instead and grease those lightly. 
in a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt. set aside. in a large bowl (or stand mixer), beat together butter, brown sugar and sugar until well-blended and fluffy. this may take a few minutes. once fluffy, add the eggs and vanilla. mix well. stir in the flour mixture, then add chocolate chips (and nuts if you’re one of those weirdos that likes that sort of thing). 
now, eat at least three spoonfuls of dough. consider putting aside a bit of dough for those bad days when you just need to stuff your face with something delicious. 
once you’re feeling sufficiently nauseous from the raw egg consumption, drop the dough onto your baking sheets about two inches apart. they should be about the size of a tablespoon. bake cookies, one sheet at a time, in the upper third of your oven for 8-11 minutes. take those babies out when they’re golden brown all over and slightly darker at the edges. Let cool on the sheets a few minutes, then transfer to wire racks. 
store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 1 month.