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Recipe: Cupcakes for Two

recipe 2 cupcakes brett bara

recipe 2 cupcakes brett bara

Trying to stick to your new year’s resolutions, but haven’t quite kicked your cupcake habit?

Author, blogger, crafter and designer Brett Bara shared the perfect solution to keep your sweet tooth in check: a small batch recipe that creates two – and only two – chocolate cupcakes, complete with homemade frosting. This idea is perfect for baking enthusiasts who live solo, as a mid-week dessert option for couples, or when you’re just craving something sweet after-hours.

Get the full recipe with step-by-step photo instructions on Brett’s blog, Manhattan Craft Room.

+ Recipe for Two Chocolate Cupcakes by Brett Bara


2011 Food Trend: Pie

Low-carb impossible breakfast pie by sheknows

Low-carb impossible breakfast pie by sheknows

I love cupcakes as much as the next girl, but I’m not alone in thinking they reached their (sweet, fluffy) peak last year. Pie sliced through its sweet competition to top countless lists of predicted food trends for 2011, including Serious Eats, Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine, and England’s The Independent.

No surprise there: its versatility straddles the sweet and savoury divide. There’s a pie style for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, plus it can be dished out in miniature form, a true qualifier of “it food” status.

Best of all, homemade pie almost always takes the cake compared to store-bought or restaurant-created versions, which is why I couldn’t resist rounding up a few must-try recipes.

Pie for Breakfast

A slice of leftover fruit-filled pie makes a surprisingly satisfying breakfast indulgence, but for a more traditional option pair eggs with other breakfast staples like bacon or sausage. Pair them with fruit or a smoothie for a balanced meal.

+ Low-Carb Impossible Breakfast Pie from She Knows
+ Mini Smoked-Salmon Quiches from Eat My Shots
+ Egg Pie from Kayotic Kitchen

Pie for Lunch

Pie is open for interpretation, but typically always includes an inventive filling in a flaky crust. Try these with a side salad or soup for a light lunch.

Pie recipes for lunch

Caramelized Pear and Gorgonzola Quiche from Closet Cooking
+ Tortilla and Black Bean Pie from Martha Stewart

Pie for Dinner

Pie for dinner will need to be include a substantial filling, incorporating meat, vegetables. Be sure to add a side or two to round-out your meal.

pie recipes for dinner

+ Classic Tourtière (Québec Pork Pie) from Simple Bites
+ Butternut Squash Quiche with Kale and Sausage from My Kitchen Addiction
+ Chicken Parmesan Pot Pie with Mushrooms from Modern Comfort Food

Pie for Dessert

The options for dessert pie are truly endless as almost anything tastes wonderful inside a slight salty pastry base. I looked for interesting twists on three classic pies: apple, lemon meringue and pumpkin.

dessert pie recipes

+ Mini Lemon Meringue Pies from Flaming Pot
+ Apple Caramel Cheesecake Pie from The Fig Tree
+ Deep Dish Pumpkin Pie with Walnut Crunch and Cranberries from The Meaning of Pie


Five Fall and Thanksgiving Baking Tools

Fall Forest Piecrust Cutters

Fall Forest Piecrust Cutters

If I had to my top two, it would be the Forest Piecrust Cutters and the Fall Icon Cakelet Pan. Both carries the right amount of festive vibe. If you wish to spend less, you could get a Wilton’s non-stick cookie pan to bake sweet fall treats.

thanksgiving and fall baking

What else besides baking?

parchment paper leaves for cheese and desserts

This is not a baking tool but the Parchment Paper Cheese Leaves could be used to decorate your dessert platters. It is the fastest way to bring fall to your table. Another option is to place one leave in the middle of your salad on which you will rest your a place card holder or a rolled napkin.

A food mill is a versatile cooking tool that you will use all year long. You can perfectly mash potatoes, prepare fruit sauces, or make your own baby food.

+ Fall Forest Piecrust Cutters $18 USD for 4 at Williams-Sonoma
+ Fall Icon Cakelet Pan $36 at Williams-Sonoma
+ Oxo Food Mill $42.53 at [affiliate link] – $50 at Williams-Sonoma
+ Fall Cookie Pan $7.95 at Crate & Barrel
+ Parchment Paper Cheese Leaves $10.95 at Sur La Table


Free Form Tarts and a Wow moment for La Tartine Gourmande

free form tart recipes :: pear and hazelnut tart :: onion tart

I never realized until I watched a French TV show that “free form tart” is a concept that does not exist in the French cuisine. Food blogger Pascale Weeks of C’est moi qui l’ai fait pointed out that fact in the episode. It is strange that never noticed it before. Although I have seen it many times, I never considered making a free form tart until now. I am planning to change that.

I learned that the key for a successful free form tart is to beautifully place the fruit pieces in a big circle and to gently fold the edges of the dough up. For a more sophisiticated look, pass a fluted pastry wheel on the dough before you fold it. As you can see, I became a fan of their rustic look and feel.

best fig tart by chez pim

It is not just for sweet tarts, you can go free form for savory tarts. Here are a few tasty free form tart recipes that you may want to bookmark:

You remember the TV show that inspired me to talk about free form tarts. It has a must-see segment where they followed Bea of La Tartine Gourmande as she worked on a food story. Her 8-minute segment starts at 2/3 of the show; so, unless you speak French, advance Envoyé Spécial – la suite until you hit 16 minutes. Bea wrote a wonderful post where she described, in English, the making of process of her TV segment. She was great on camera!

+ top left photo: Tarte rustique aux poires et noisettes, sans moule by Pascale Weeks of C’est moi qui l’ai fait!


Blood Orange Caramels with Toasted Almonds and Sea Salt | Candy Recipe

blood orange caramels recipe on matt bites

blood orange caramels recipe on matt bites

I cannot believe that I never visited Matt Bites before. It is an exceptionally awesome blog produced by food photographer Matt Armendariz, who is located in Los Angeles. Matt offered a lot of behind the scenes stories on his blog. He also shares tips on food and food photography.

If you like to bake your own candy, you will want to add this to your repertoire. We have to thank one of his food stylist friends, Cindie, for this recipe. She brought the Blood Orange Caramels with Toasted Almonds and Sea Salt at a shooting. I must quote how Matt, who does not have a sweet tooth, described the taste:

Oh my god, these caramels. Soft and chewy, the initial stickiness gives way to buttery and tart citrus flavors before ending with tiny salty fireworks once the crystals have had time to dissolve on your tongue. The whole shebang ends with a crunch of the toasted nuts, and before long you realize these caramels have sent you over the edge with very distinct flavors all working together harmoniously.

I was sold when I saw the pictures. Now, I am craving for some. If you bake those, make sure to use Parchment paper. You are never supposed to put wax paper on the oven since it could burn. But it is even more important when you are making caramels. People who used wax paper for baking reported that the caramel sticked too much, which was caused by the fact that the wax melted on the oven. Leave the wax paper to wrap the caramels, once they have cooled down.

+ photos and recipe: Matt Bites


Ms. Humble’s Game Controller Cookies

game controller cookies by ms humble

game controller cookies by ms humble

In light of the popularity of Super Mario’s cupcakes, I see that many of you play video games at home. This is why I think you will enjoy the Wii remote and the PS3 and Xbox controller cookies made by Ms. Humble of Not So Humble Pie.

She cut and shaped the cookies by hand. This is not for beginners. Knowledge of sugar cookie and icing is a must to realize those cookies. You need to plan ahead since the flooding takes several hours to dry.

+ photos: Not So Humble Pie


Baked Exhibition during Dutch Design Week

baked exhibit during dutch design week

baked exhibit during dutch design week

This is baking as an art form. During the Dutch Design Week in October 2009, one exhibit was an homage to cooking and baking. Baked was inspired by a Sicilian folk event in Salemi, where a flour based material is used to create architectural decorations.

baked exhibit during dutch design week

One element that I like is how the belts allow to customize the vessels with food decoration. The containers and vessels made from ingredients such as flour, coffee, cocoa and spinach, mixed together with salt, shellac and spices to make the objects durable.

+ photos: formafantasma


Baking Your Own Chocolate Bouchons

chocolate bouchons for the holiday

You can never go wrong if you serve a chocolate dessert. These chocolate bouchons is basically a dense chocolate cake. Their shapes make them special. Because of their festive elegant look, serving Chocolate Bouchons is ideal for a Christmas or New Year party. The bouchons are best eaten the day they are baked but since the recipe is simple to make, it is not a problem.

The key is to get 3-ounce timbale molds (also known as aspic or baba molds). The LA times published a recipe adapted from the cookbook Bouchon by Thomas Keller. Fell free to try your favorite dense chocolate cake recipe. Just remember that Thomas Keller’s chocolate bouchons have a texture somewhere between dense cake and denser brownies.

+ Paderno World Cuisine Aluminum Dariole/Baba Molds 3-ounces $29.90 USD for set of 10
+ photo: Mel Melcon for LA Times


Last-Minute Recipes for Halloween

halloween pumpkin soup and spooky spider deviled eggs

In case you are looking for more inspirations on what to serve at your Halloween party.

+ This Pumpkin Soup in a small pumpkin bowl is elegant. You could recycle the idea for Thanksgiving. Via Noob Cook.

+ Devilled egss are back in vogue. The Spooky spider eggs are a cute adaptation of the classic. The decoration is super fun. Via Sunset magazine

home cooked halloween treats seen on sunset magazine

+ Start making the Cinnamon Pumpkin Seed Brittle at least 70 minutes before serving as you need to allow a cooling period. Via Sunset magazine

+ Plan an hour to make 30 Cheddar Witch’s Fingers. Except for one person, everyone who tried the recipes said it was a success. Via Sunset magazine

Even if you don’t host a party, you could serve any of these recipes to your family tomorrow for Halloween. They would thank you for that special attention.


Tarantula Cookies

tarantula cookies by recipe girl

In response to my post on Spider sweets for Halloween, Recipe Girl showed me her cute Tarantula cookies. Have a look. She mentioned that while this isn’t a quick and easy recipe, the tarantula cookies were a lot of fun to do with the kids. They turned out cute and delicious.

+ photo: Recipe Girl