Thursday, April 28, 2011

crack pie.

I've had a baker's crush on Christina Tosi of Momofuku's Milk Bar for a while. Although I have not had the opportunity to try any of her desserts, I've heard + read a lot about them. Using inspiration found in reusable pantry items she creates desserts that are clever + uniquely different from the mainstream world of sweets. She makes cookies with corn + chips, cereal milk ice cream, deconstructed cakes and crack pie. Yes, crack pie.

Tosi has supplied Bon Appetit magazine with a variation of her famed creation known as crack pie + after I purchased a jumbo sized bag of dry milk powder (one of Tosi's favorite ingredients) I was ready make one of my own. It's buttery, gooey + loaded with sugar. Essentially it's a the best pecan pie ever, on an oatmeal cookie crust, without pecans.

It's sickly sweet, but truly addictive. I made this pie last night, went to take pictures of it this morning + found that half of it had already been eaten. I was the last one awake and up by 8 am and at some point during the night this crack pie had taken a hold of some of my roommates. Consider yourself warned.

Crack Pie

from Christina Tosi via Bon Appetit

Oat Cookie Crust

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar (for dusting)

Oat Cookie Crust:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine 6 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Add egg; beat until pale and fluffy. Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Turn oat mixture out silpat lined baking sheet; press out evenly onto pan. Bake until light golden on top, 17 to 18 minutes. Transfer baking pan to rack and cool cookie completely.
  • Using hands, crumble oat cookie into large bowl; add 3 tablespoons butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar. Rub in with fingertips until mixture is moist enough to stick together. Transfer cookie crust mixture to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Using fingers, press mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie dish. Place pie dish with crust on rimmed baking sheet.


  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Whisk both sugars, milk powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add melted butter and whisk until blended. Add cream, then egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Pour filling into crust. Bake pie 30 minutes (filling may begin to bubble). Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Continue to bake pie until filling is brown in spots and set around edges but center still moves slightly when pie dish is gently shaken, about 20 minutes longer. Cool pie 2 hours in pie dish on rack. Chill uncovered overnight. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; keep chilled.
  • Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Cut pie into wedges and serve cold.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Baking for Japan

"Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world" - Howard Zinn

Just a few short weeks ago the world watched as Japan was struck first by an earthquake, then a terrifying tsunami and are now left sorting through the wreckage with a looming nuclear crisis. Feeling a need to help in some way I did some research to see what I could do. I found information about a Bakesale for Japan that was to be held on April 2nd with all proceeds going to Peace Winds Japan. Organized by a local San Francisco pastry chef; bakers, both professional and amateur were asked to donate delicious and thoughtfully made goods.

The restaurant where I work generously offered to sponsor donations for the bakesale, so on Friday morning the pastry chef + I got to work making delicious maple cupcakes with bourbon buttercream topped with gingersnap crumbs and bags of caramel corn to donate.

It was a great event, many businesses participated including famous bakeries like Tartine and Citizen Cake and tons of home-bakers took time to create some beautiful products.

It was a great reminder that no act of kindness is too small. Enjoy a few photos from the event and a recipe for Maple cupcakes.

Our cupcakes have the cookie crumbles on them.
photo credit here.
Maple Cupcakes

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat until combined. With the mixer still on medium speed, add the flour mixture in two parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour. Bake 18-20 minutes, rotating half way through.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Buttermilk Donuts

I don't think I can use the old "woops a month has passed" again because it's actually been about 2 months of neglect here on CC. Believe me I have been baking, but it's been quite the busy start to 2011. I marked my 6 month anniversary in San Francisco, graduated from pastry school, drank wine in Napa with visiting family, drove to Los Angeles + back up the coast, took a quick vacation to Mexico with my Aunt + cousin, went oyster shucking, made a micro-blog for my resume + started a job as a pastry assistant at a new restaurant. whewwww, tough life, I know...

So back to the goods. These buttermilk donuts were made around 12 am on a Friday night. A recipe that requires no yeast, no resting time + lots of oil for frying - what could be a more perfect snack for that midnight hunger pain?

This is a great project to take on with helpers. I made these with 2 roommates. After making the dough + cutting the shapes one roommate was in charge of frying the donuts, once they came out of the hot oil I glazed them + set them on the cooling rack. My other roommate was responsible for taking the freshly glazed donuts off the rack + moving them onto a plate to give us more room to work. However, about halfway through our production line we found that no donuts were making it on the final plate as our roommate was instead eating each completed donut. Needless to say, we had an intervention.

Buttermilk Donuts
adapted from the Baked Explorations

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly browned and cooled
Vegetable oil for frying

For the Chocolate Dip
4 ounces good quality dark chocolate (60-70%), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Sprinkles to decorate (optional)

For the Vanilla Glaze
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Sprinkles to decorate (optional)

For the Cinnamon Sugar
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon

Make the doughnuts
Line one baking sheet with parchment paper and another baking sheet with two layers of paper towels.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour,sugar,baking soda,baking powder, salt,nutmeg, and cinnamon.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, and sour cream until combined. Add the melted,cooled butter and whisk again.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the liquid ingredients into the well. With a rubber spatula, slowly fold the flour into the liquid center until the mixture forms a sticky dough.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface lightly dusted with flour. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and pat it out until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Use two round cutters ( 3 1/4" and 1 1/2" for large doughnuts; 2 1/2" and 1 " for smaller doughnuts). Dip the large cutter in flour and press out the rounds. Dip the smaller cutter in the flour and cut out the center of each dough round. Arrange both doughnuts and doughnut holes on the parchment-lined baking sheet, pat the dough scraps back together, and use them to make as many more doughnuts and doughnut holes as possible. Chill the dough while you heat the oil.

Pour enough oil into a deep skillet to make a layer approximately 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches deep. Slowly heat the oil over medium -high heat until it is 365 to 370 degrees F.

While you are waiting for the oil to reach temperature, make the assorted toppings.

Make the Chocolate Glaze
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium wide-mouthed bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream until it is just about to boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and wait 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Whisk in the butter. Keep the mixture warm.

Make the Vanilla Glaze
In a medium wide-mouthed bowl, whisk together the sugar, the milk, and the vanilla paste.

Make the Cinnamon Sugar
In a medium wide-mouthed bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon.

To Fry the Doughnuts
Once the oil reaches temperature, gently lift the large doughnuts off the baking sheet and place them in the hot oil. Do not crowd the skillet-make no more than 3 doughnuts at a time. Once they have browned on one side (this takes 2-3 minutes), turn them over with tongs or a slotted spoon and continue to cook for another minute or just until browned (they can overcook or burn rather quickly). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the doughnuts to the paper towel lined baking sheet and continue to fry the rest of the dough until finished. The doughnut holes will cook faster and can be made in two or three batches after the doughnuts are done.

Assemble the Doughnuts
Once you have finished frying, work quickly to dip the doughnuts in the chocolate or vanilla glaze, or the cinnamon sugar. If you like, decorate the chocolate or vanilla doughnuts with sprinkles. Serve immediately.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Caramel Apple-Pecan Pie (Yes, we're still baking)

So, I'm sure a lot of you thought we had dropped off the face of the earth, or at least the Interwebs. Truthfully, we've all been really busy lately, but we shouldn't have neglected baking and blogging for so long. Krissy just graduated from pastry school, Katie's busy with her new job, and I just want to go on a diet.

I picked this pie because Ben's mom bought me a beautiful Emile Henri pie plate for Christmas, and I was dying to use it. And everyone loves an apple pie; I just wanted to make mine with a little flair. This one is definitely a crowd-pleaser, especially if you're looking for a way to spice up your apple pie.

Caramel Apple-Pecan Pie
Adapted from "Pie"

Single pie crust recipe of your choice
10 caramels, each cut into 4 pieces

7 cups peeled, cored, and sliced Golden Delicious apples
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

Pecan Crumb Topping
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

Caramel and Garnish
3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tbsp water
30 caramels
Large handful of pecan halves or pieces
1/2 chopped pecans

Prepare the single pie crust according to the recipe of your choice. Refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.

On a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll the pastry into a 13-inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert the pastry over a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan, center, and peel off the paper. Tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, and sculpt the edge into an upstanding ridge. Scatter the caramel pieces in the pie shell and place in the freezer while you make the filling. Preheat the over to 400 degrees.

Combine the apples, brown sugar and lemon juice in a large bowl. Mix well, then set aside for 5 to 10 minutes to juice. Mix the granulated sugar and cornstarch together in a small bowl. Stir the mixture into the fruit along with the cinnamon and vanilla. Scrape the filling into the chilled pie shell, smoothing the fruit with your hands leaving as little space as possible. (If the fruit mounds over the crust, that's ok because it will bake down). Put the pie on the center oven rack and back for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the crumb topping by combining the flour, pecans, granulated sugar and salt in a food processor. Pulse several times, copping the nuts coarsely. Scatter the butter over the dry mixture and pulse the machine again until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl and rub the mixture between your fingers to make damp, gravelly crumbs. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Remove the pie from the oven and reduce the temperature to 375 degrees. Carefully dump the crumbs in the center of the pie, spreading them evenly over the surface with your hands. Push them down lightly in the apples. Return the pie to oven, placing it so that the part that faced the back of the oven now faces forward. Slide a large aluminum foil-lined sheet onto the rack below to catch any drips (seriously, don't skip this step). Bake until the juices bubble thickly around the edges, 30-40 minutes (mine went for a little longer). If necessary, cover the pie with loosely tented foil for the last 15 minutes to keep the top from getting too dark.

Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for about 1 hour. While the pie is still warm - approaching the 1 hour mark - prepare the caramel. Combine the butter, water and caramels in the top of a double boiler (I don't have one of these so I just use a glass mixing bowl - works like a charm). Melt the caramels over, not in, barely simmering water. This may take 10 minutes or more. To facilitate the melting, press down on them as they start to soften and melt. When melted, whisk the mixture until is smooth, then drizzle the caramel over the entire surface of the pie. Immediately press the pecan halves into the caramel in a random fashion, then sprinkle the chopped pecans over the top as well. Let cool for another hour before serving.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

a new year + brown butter shortbread

Happy 2011! The holidays flew by as they usually do; after many parties, pastries, presents + some painfully cold weather I made my way back to San Francisco. The new year has me excited for changes that are soon to come + hopeful with plans for a successful + happy future.

I would like to take a moment to remind everyone not to cut sweets out of your life for a stupid New Year's resolution; chocolate, butter + sugar make people happy.

Enjoy these delicious + easy brown butter shortbread, another victory for brown butter.

Diet starts Monday.
Brown Butter Shortbread
adapted from Lottie + Doof

12 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp flaked sea salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
sanding sugar for sprinkling

lightly grease 9 1/2 inch fluted tart pan.
In small sauce pan brown butter over medium heat. Be sure butter reaches dark color, should smell nutty. Be careful not to burn butter as milk solids separate from the fat.

In a medium bowl combine brown butter with brown sugar, vanilla + salt. Add the flour + mix until incorporated. Spread dough evenly into prepared tart pan. Allow dough to stand for 2 hours minimum, preferably overnight.

Bake at 300 degrees F for about 40 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool 10 minutes. Remove shortbread from pan, sprinkle with sanding sugar + cut into triangles. Place triangles on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Back for 8-10 minutes to lightly toast, be sure they are not becoming too brown, these are easily over-baked. Cool before eating.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mini Reindeer Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes specifically for my coworker's son Mason and his class. Mason is four-years-old, so I wanted to make something fun, but not too sugary (I can't even imagine a class full of children on a chocolate high). Of course, all of the reindeers are Rudolph, because he's the most famous reindeer of all.

Mini Reindeer Cupcakes
24 mini vanilla cupcakes
Chocolate buttercream frosting
8 ounces milk chocolate
24 Red Hots (or cinnamon dots)

Make at least 24 mini vanilla cupcakes and a batch of chocolate buttercream frosting, using your favorite recipes. Cool the cupcakes and frost.

Spread parchment paper over a cookie sheet. Melt 8 ounces of milk chocolate and pour into a piping bag with a skinny tip (#2), or pour into a plastic ziploc bag and cut a small hole in one of the bottom corners of the bag. Pipe two chocolate dots for eyes onto each cupcake. Then, pipe the chocolate into pairs of antler shapes, but be sure to make extra because these guys are fragile! Put the baking sheet in the refrigerator or freezer to let the chocolate set. Once set, arrange the antlers on each cupcake. Then finish Rudolph by placing a cinnamon dot on each cupcake for a nose.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

peppermint white chocolate cupcakes

I reallllly don't like Starbucks. The coffee always tastes burnt + I do not appreciate the high cost for an espresso beverage. However, I do have a soft spot for one Starbucks product.... the peppermint white chocolate mocha complete with a gloriously red holiday cup. This decadent beverage warms my heart + is the perfect holiday treat. Although this drink sets you back about 400+ calories, its nice to indulge once in a while.

Inspired by my favorite holiday beverage I made some chocolate cupcakes with peppermint white chocolate frosting this past weekend for a friend's birthday; mini chocolate cakes swirled with white chocolate-pepperminty buttercream + topped with a candy garnish, they were a delight.


White Chocolate Peppermint Frosting

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
12 ounce white chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
1-2 cup confectioners' sugar *
1 tsp peppermint extract

In a large bowl beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Beat in the melted white chocolate. Add confectioners' sugar in stages + peppermint extract. Whip until light and fluffy.

* Add confectioners' sugar until reaches sweetness + consistency desired. May be more or less.

Peppermint Candy Garnish
Evenly space the circular red peppermint candy on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 300 degrees F for about 10-15 minutes. If left in the oven too long candy will turn yellow. After removing from the oven use a pizza cutter to make even (or uneven) cuts through the melted candy. Once hardened, the candy will break apart easily using the cuts as a guide.