Orange you glad I made it?

So, more oranges. This time, not because they tempted me while carelessly arranged on the greengrocer's aisles, but rather because a family friend dumped a sackful on my mother's table and she wasn't sure what to do with them.

Well, where there's a fruit, there's a recipe.

Actually, all I did was modify my Grapefruit Yogurt Cake recipe to make it an Orange Mini-Cake with Chocolate Drizzle recipe.

How? Simple, substitute orange zest for grapefruit zest. Use orange extract instead of vanilla, but instead of 1/2 teaspoon, use only 1/4 teaspoon. I also baked the cakes in a mini-muffin pan for 30 mins, as opposed to a loaf pan for 50 mins. Came out fine.

As for the syrup, it is the following:

1 cup of fresh orange juice
2 tbsp of sugar
1 tsp of orange blossom water (optional)

Mix together all ingredients, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer until the mixture is slightly syrupy. Cool before use.

To assemble, just place the mini-cakes in a shallow baking dish and brush on the cooled syrup until all the syrup is gone. Let the cakes stand for about 30 mins to absorb the remaining syrup and completely cool.

As for the chocolate drizzle, well whatever you like to use is fine, but a good simple recipe is simply melting 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips in your microwave and mix until smooth. I like to add a little vegetable oil to make it glossy and not coagulate too quickly.

I used three oranges in this recipe - nine more to go!


Mother's Day!

So, today is Mother's Day and I decided that I would rouse myself early and make my mother brunch instead of going nuts about booking a reservation at a restaurant.

Like with most brunches, I like to combine sweet and savory dishes because it's not technically breakfast (sweet) or lunch (savory), so why not have both together? My menu was:

Scrambled Eggs with Sun dried Tomatoes
Chicken Sausage
Cherry Tomato and Feta Salad (with walnuts)
Marble Pound Cake with two sauces on the side (chocolate sauce and strawberry sauce)
Crudites with a Greek Yogurt dip
French Toast Pudding
Blood Orange Spritzer (non-alcoholic)
Vegetable Juice (with herbs and spices)

Pretty nice spread, right? Well since this is a baking blog, I must tell you that of course I baked something. But it wasn't the Pound Cake - that I bought from the store and jazzed it up with the sauces. I made the French Toast Pudding because I wanted to make French Toast, but didn't want to deal with all the battering and frying. This was an easy way to get all that French Toast goodness without a lot of work.

I found the recipe on Epicurious.com, but I modified it as follows:


12 (1-inch-thick) baguette slices (cut on a long diagonal)
3 tablespoons fresh espresso
3 cups whole milk
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
dash of Cinnamon
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 cup of dried cherries
Cinnamon for dusting

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle and generously butter a 13- by 9-inch shallow baking dish or pan (3-quart; preferably glass or ceramic).

Arrange bread in 1 layer in baking dish and sprinkle the dried cherries evenly over the bread. Whisk together espresso, milk, eggs, vanilla, dash of cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth.

Pour custard over bread, then turn slices over several times so they soak up as much custard as possible. Sprinkle top with remaining 1 tablespoons sugar.

Bake until puffed and set, 25 minutes. Cool in dish on a rack 10 minutes, then dust with cinnamon.

This was the perfect accompaniment for the brunch and it was really quick and easy to make - it looked fabulous in the dish and it tasted like a good piece of French Toast. Allowing it to cool for that last 10 minutes allows the remaining custard to set properly, so you don't get a pudding but a really nice piece of "French Toast."

And my momma loved it, so there's all the endorsement you need to go and make a batch for your next brunch!


Choc Choc Chocolate!

I was discussing tattoos and addiction with a friend earlier and we were arguing about the nature of addictions. At one point, I mentioned that by her definition, I should be a chocolate addict. And then I realized, hey you know? I probably am!

I crave it when it's not around. I try to deny myself it, only to find that the next time I have a piece it's that much better. So why deny the addiction?

In the spirit of addiction, I decided to pull out an old recipe that I saved from my internet browsing for a chocolate cookie recipe.

I ended up wanting to make it even chocolaty-er (not a word, but you know what I mean) and modified it to the following:

Fudgey Chocolate Cookies


1/2 cup margarine (salted is fine)

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup white granulated sugar

1 extra-large egg

1 1/2 tsp of strong coffee

1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp cocoa powder (I used Nestle here, but you can be fancier)

1 tsp teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt*

1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the margarine and sugars until light and fluffy . Add the egg and coffee and beat until incorporated. Add the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt* and mix until well incorporated. The mixture should have the consistency of a thick frosting. Fold in chocolate chips until fully incorporated.

Using two teaspoons, measure out spoonfuls of the batter onto the lined baking sheets.

Bake for approximately 14 minutes or until the the cookies are still soft in the center but are firm around the edges. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes before removing the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 2 dozen pieces of chocolaty goodness!

*Only add salt if you're not using salted margarine. You can also use butter, but it'll be a different cookie.


More Orange!

Yes. I admit. I am in love with all things orange in baked goods. I am at this moment dreaming of an orange custard, kissed with Grand Marnier in little Angel Foods Cake cups. With a drizzle of chocolate. Dark Chocolate.


But since it was the evening, and I wasn't too keen on whipping egg whites till "just so" - I decided to hop on Epicurious and see what I could find with Orange + Cookie + Chocolate. There's something about the brightness of citrus and the dark, sultry flavor of semi-sweet chocolate that works in such a wonderful way.

So armed with my zester, chocolate chips and this recipe - I decided to make me some Orange Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Chips.

I decided to use the zest of an entire small orange for this recipe, because I find that I like the intense flavor of orange in cookies, and the 3/4 tsp recommended by the recipe didn't seem to cut it.

I also used some of my secret ingredient in the recipe. I can't tell you what it is, because it's a secret. But then, what's the point of me posting the recipe and telling you that I modified it without telling you what the mods were, right? It's like souping up a car for a friend and not giving them the specs afterwards. Not a good idea.

So my secret ingredient is *drum roll* - Moroccan Orange Blossom water. My brother brought back a liter of it from when he was last in Marrakesh and I've been using drips and drops of it in a lot of my citrus-based baked goodies. Just a half-a-teaspoon in this recipe, but it adds so much to the cookie.

And they are so easy to make! Just two bowls, some elbow grease and literally 30 mins and voila - some tasty cookies. And you don't need the fancy flower water to make the cookie any better than it already is - I just like to be fancy sometimes.