Sunday, November 16, 2008

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

In an attempt not to gain my traditional holiday pounds, I'm opting for one dessert per week from now until January 1. Of course, that means the dessert I pick each week has to be good. So, this week, I saw Ina Garten make these decadent chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting and knew I had a winner. These cupcake bake up beautifully and are delicious. I almost hated to cover the tops, but once I made the peanut butter frosting, I not only covered the tops, but I also put a generous dose of frosting inside the cupcake too. That's when I ran out of frosting and had to do the second half of the cupcakes with chocolate ganache for frosting. All had peanut butter inside. Let's just say that I got my fill for sweets that day. Here is a link to that recipe on Food Network:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Almost-No-Knead Bread

I love perusing food blogs and encountered one that extolled the virtues of a recipe for bread requiring no kneading. I personally don't mind kneading dough and waiting for it to rise several times but I thought I'd give it a try. After all, it does do all the work itself, right? A few days after downloading the recipe, I received an updated version from Cook's Illustrated. Theirs looked just as easy and I had all the ingredients so I set to work.

Flour, salt, instant yeast, water, beer, and vinegar. All I had to do was stir it together, let it sit for 8 to 18 hours, knead it for a few seconds, let it rise for two hours and pop it in the oven. The most important part is what you cook it in. A cast iron dutch oven that's been preheated in the oven for 30 minutes with the lid on at 500 degrees. Very important! Because the dough rises on top of a parchment sheet, it's pretty easy to lift and plop into the hot pan. Put the lid on, reduce the oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake for 30 minutes. Take the lid off and bake for another 20 minutes.

Out comes a hot, crusty, golden loaf of bread that is irresistable! It is perfect with butter or maybe dipped in some olive oil. The only drawback to this recipe is that the bread's texture doesn't withstand time. It really is best eaten the day it is made. But then that's never a problem in our house.