Trouble With Toast

Recipe: Marinated Grilled Apples with Mint

July 7, 2011
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This dessert was absolutely fabulous, and a great end to our vegetarian grilling adventure.  I used my new juicer and some really delicious fresh oranges, and I think it made all the difference (so shy away from the ol’ Tropicana if you can).  We served this with some vanilla frozen yogurt, and it was heavenly!

  • 2/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 Granny Smith apples, cored and each cut crosswise into 4 (1/2-inch) slices
  • Cooking spray

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add apple slices; seal and marinate in refrigerator 1 to 2 hours, turning bag occasionally.

Prepare grill.

Remove apple from bag, reserving marinade. Place apple slices on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side, turning and basting frequently with reserved marinade. Arrange apple slices on a platter; drizzle with any remaining marinade.


Recipe: Bourbon-Caramel Truffles

February 10, 2011
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Okay, I know I am terribly behind in terms of Top Chef – last week’s Italian-themed episode didn’t really leave me with a whole lot to talk about (I just thought it was a lackluster elimination challenge, and don’t even get me STARTED on that ridiculous quickfire), and I couldn’t keep the ol’ eyelids open long enough to watch last night’s episode.  I’ll get right on that.

In the meantime, how about a recipe fit for Valentine’s Day?  Yes, I think V-Day is stupid (you should tell your loved ones how you feel about them as much as possible, not just on some arbitrary day in the lamest month imaginable), but I’ve had this truffle recipe sitting in the hopper since Christmas, so what better time to bust it out than when the store shelves are already filled with candies and chocolates galore?

Truffle-making is supposed to be pretty easy, so I thought I’d up the ante by using a Cooking Light recipe.  Nothing tends to screw up a good thing like making it healthier, right?  In any case, they WERE pretty easy to make, but I certainly didn’t get them 100% right on the first try.  The flavor was great (I used high-quality chocolate, which I’m sure made a difference), and the texture was fine (they weren’t gritty or grainy, despite the lack of tons of full-fat dairy), but they got REALLY hard while in the fridge.  Like, hard to the point where I couldn’t scoop or shape them.  So, I wound up with a bunch of oddly-shaped little brown things – my husband, the guinea pig, said that they tasted good but that they looked disturbingly like what our dog deposits in the grass every day (thus, no photo).  Not the high praise I was hoping for.

I’m going to try them again, this time chilling them for about half the time.  If anyone tries this in the near future, let me know how it goes.

  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2  tablespoons  evaporated whole milk
  • 1  tablespoon  golden cane syrup (such as Lyle’s Golden Syrup)
  • Dash of salt
  • 1  tablespoon  bourbon
  • 1/2  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 3.5  ounces  bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1.75  ounces  milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2  tablespoons  unsweetened cocoa

Combine brown sugar, milk, cane syrup, and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Stir in bourbon and vanilla extract. Add chocolates; let stand 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Pour into a shallow dish; cover and chill 4 hours. Heat a tablespoon measure with hot water; pat dry. Scoop chocolate mixture with spoon; dip in cocoa. Roll into balls. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe: Blueberry-Peach Cobbler

September 7, 2010
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With the rest of the lovely Georgia peaches from Whole Foods, I made this fabulous, summery dessert (with a recipe found in Cooking Light).  This cobbler is different from many others I’ve tried, as the topping is more cake-like.  I guess it’s somewhere between a crumble/crisp topping and a biscuit topping?  Who knows – whatever it was, it was tasty.

The biggest hassle in terms of this dish is the peeling of the peaches.  When I thought about peeling five pounds of the fruit with a paring knife, I almost gave up on the idea entirely.  However, a quick internet search instructed me to quickly blanch and shock the peaches in order to remove the skins more easily.  Voila!  It worked beautifully.

One more note: definitely make the effort to find and use turbinado sugar.  It really makes a difference in the topping!  This cobbler isn’t exactly health food, but it’s a trimmed-down version of a classic that will definitely help you get your daily servings of delicious summer fruit.  Let me know what you think!

  • 5  pounds  peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced
  • 2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 1  cup  granulated sugar, divided
  • 3/8  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 6.75  ounces  (about 1 1/2 cups) plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1  teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1/2  cup  butter, softened
  • 2  large eggs
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 3/4  cup  buttermilk
  • 2  cups  fresh blueberries
  • 2  tablespoons  turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 375°.

Place peaches in a large bowl. Drizzle with juice; toss. Add 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons flour to peach mixture; toss to combine. Arrange peach mixture evenly in a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Weigh or lightly spoon 6.75 ounces flour (about 1 1/2 cups) into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 6.75 ounces flour, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and baking powder in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Place the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar and butter in a medium bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla extract. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating just until combined. Stir in blueberries.

Spread batter evenly over peach mixture; sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Place baking dish on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 375° for 1 hour or until topping is golden and filling is bubbly.

Recipe: Pumpkin Cupcakes

October 28, 2009

Greetings from Salt Lake City!  I’m over here in Utah, trying to stay warm in the snow (yes, snow…ugh).  So, there will be no Top Chef recap till much later in the week, and posting will continue to be light.  In the meantime, though, since it is almost time for Halloween, here’s a tasty and easy recipe for a very nice fall treat.  The recipe came from Real Simple magazine, and the cupcakes were a hit both at the Eat on $30 wrap party AND my office luncheon.  Enjoy!

  • 1 18.5-ounce box yellow cake mix (plus the ingredients called for in the package directions)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 2 8-ounce bars cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 24 pieces candy corn

Heat oven to 350° F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. Prepare the cake mix as directed but with the following change: Add the pumpkin pie spice and substitute the can of pumpkin puree for the water called for in the package directions.

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Spread on the cupcakes and top each with a piece of candy corn.

Pumpkin cupcakes

Recipe: Strawberry Tiramisu

August 11, 2009

It is somewhat timely that one of my favorite people and bloggers, the lovely Lemmonex, is quitting drinking for a month.  I, too, am swearing off alcohol until my wedding (which is on September 5, woot!), largely because my fiance is in fitness bootcamp again, and that involves lots of booze-free, exercise-filled, low-fat fun.

While I don’t think that swearing off the sauce means that I have to keep all spirits out of the kitchen, I think it’s probably a good thing that I made this dessert BEFORE the detox (both for blood-alcohol AND calorie reasons).  There is a LOT of Cointreau in here, but don’t let the measurements deter you–this was an extremely successful dessert, and it got better and better as the flavors meshed and mellowed.

As you can see, this is a recipe that doesn’t involve any cooking.  If you can fold ingredients, you can make this dish.  Another bonus is that you can (and, in fact, should) make this a day in advance.  While not as rich-tasting as the classic chocolate-and-coffee flavored tiramisu, the strawberry version is still plenty sweet and definitely decadent.  And, even if you are somewhat sloppy with the construction of the layers (which I definitely was, and I blame the fumes from the liquor), the end product will still look super impressive.

  • 1 1/4 cups strawberry preserves
  • 1/3 cup plus 4 tablespoons Cointreau or other orange liqueur
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 pound mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups chilled whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 52 (about) crisp ladyfingers
  • 1 1/2 pounds strawberries, divided

Whisk preserves, 1/3 cup Cointreau, and orange juice in 2-cup measuring cup. Place mascarpone cheese and 2 tablespoons Cointreau in large bowl; fold just to blend. Using electric mixer, beat cream, sugar, vanilla, and remaining 2 tablespoons Cointreau in another large bowl to soft peaks. Stir 1/4 of whipped cream mixture into mascarpone mixture to lighten. Fold in remaining whipped cream.

Hull and slice half of strawberries. Spread 1/2 cup preserve mixture over bottom of 3-quart oblong serving dish or a 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Arrange enough ladyfingers over strawberry mixture to cover bottom of dish. Spoon 3/4 cup preserve mixture over ladyfingers, then spread 2 1/2 cups mascarpone mixture over. Arrange 2 cups sliced strawberries over mascarpone mixture. Repeat layering with remaining lady fingers, preserve mixture, and mascarpone mixture. Cover with plastic and chill at least 8 hours or overnight.

Slice remaining strawberries. Arrange over tiramasù and serve.

Strawberry tiramisu wholeStrawberry tiramisu slice

Chocolate Guinness Cake, aka EPIC FAIL

April 1, 2009

Here at TWT, we try our darndest to post only the most delicious, satisfying, and failsafe recipes.  However, even a food blogger can come across a dud.  But THIS food blogger, ladies and gentlemen, is really committed to her craft.  I tried this POS of a recipe not once, but twice–all for your amusement and education.  And because I’m stubborn.  And because my fiance really wanted cake.

I saw this recipe in the Washington Post (but it originally came from Nigella Lawson) and was intrigued–I like cake, but I’m not a gifted baker, so my creations often come out less than stellar.  But this version had beer in it!  And it was a one-pot wonder!  And it had beer in it!  And it was supposed to be moist and delicious!  And did I mention it had beer in it???

On my first attempt, I followed the instructions to the letter and poured the copious amounts of batter into a 9″ round pan.  It came milimeters from the rim, and I said to my hunny, “Honey, it’s going to spew out onto the floor of the oven and burn!”  Guess what it did?  Yeah.  At least my kitchen stunk like burnt beer.

On my second attempt, I poured the batter into a 9 by 13 rectangular sheet pan, and everything seemed to be going according to plan.  My kitchen smelled sweeter and more like a dessert I might actually like to eat.  Nothing was spewing or burning.  The recipe specifically said to wait till the cake was cold to remove it from the pan, so I did.  Lo and behold, the damn thing stuck to the pan anyway (note: I did not have parchment paper, so that could explain some of the sticking, but I really greased the pan well, so it shouldn’t have been as bad as it was).  No matter, I’m used to ugly baked goods by now.  I dove into a piece of the cake, waiting for the beery revelation.

I made it through one bite and one bite only before I threw the piece into the trash.  It was dry as a fart and tasted like burnt freakin’ beer.  The cream cheese icing was tasty, but it didn’t cover up the flavor of failure and self-doubt.  Fiance confirmed that he was just not that into the cake.  When beer can’t save a dish, you know it’s time to move on.  Perhaps to just drinking beer on its own instead of trying to incorporate it into desserts.

Here’s the recipe, in case you are morbidly curious or want to test your mettle by trying it out yourselves.  If you do the latter, please let me know how it turns out.  Clearly, I won’t be adding it to my “signature dessert” list anytime soon.


  • 1 cup Guinness stout (not the whole can)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (I substituted Earth Balance shortening seamlessly), sliced
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (superfine, if possible)
  • ¾ cup sour cream (I substituted plain yogurt without a hitch)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking soda


  • 8 ounce cream cheese
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line bottom with parchment paper.

Pour Guinness into a large saucepan, add butter and heat until melted. Whisk in cocoa powder and sugar. In a small bowl, beat sour cream with eggs and vanilla and then pour into brown, buttery, beery mixture and finally whisk in flour and baking soda.

Pour cake batter into greased and lined pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Leave to cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack.  When cake is cold, gently peel off parchment paper and transfer to a platter or cake stand.

Place cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in a mixing bowl, and whip with an electric beater, until smooth.  Add cream and beat again until you have a spreadable consistency.  Ice top of cake, starting at middle and fanning out.

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Recipe: Grapefruit Cake with Grapefruit Cream Cheese Frosting

March 25, 2009

One morning during Lexa’s visit, we were all sitting around the TV (hungover from burgers and microbrews) making fun of Paula Deen.  The mocking was in love, I believe, but nothing was off limits–her exaggerated southern accent, her undying love of butter, her inability to make anything even remotely healthy, and her fuax-genteel sign-off tagline.  Suddenly, all of the jokes at Paula’s expense stopped, as she told us she was going to make a beautiful grapefruit cake.  We were intrigued and silenced.

The recipe didn’t look too difficult, so we headed out to get ingredients at the only place you CAN get ingredients when you have an out-of-towner in tow: the Dekalb Farmers Market.  Actually, the official name for this magical place is “Your Dekalb Farmers Market” (YDFM), just to give it a more friendly community feel.  If you’re from DC, don’t think it’s a farmer’s market in the same way that Dupont or Eastern Market are farmers markets.  YDFM is more like a warehouse of culinary goodies from across the globe.  They don’t allow cameras inside, but if you were to see photos, you’d probably have the same adorable wide-eyed expression as Lexa.

We made our way through the little snack shop (shock, we were hungry) for a quick homemade veggie samosa and some steamed broccoli.  We walked through the extensive dairy and meat selections.  We stopped at the seafood counter to procure giant shrimp, and we both lamented that we needed to buy a whole fish and learn how to take it apart.  We saw countless spices, pastas, legumes, flours (I swear, they have 15 different kinds), and baked goods.  The real kicker is the produce section, where they have every weirdo recipe ingredient that you never thought you could find, plus the “normal” stuff, at ridiculously low prices.  The market is pretty overwhelming in size and scope, and it was crowded on the Sunday we visited, so we only did one brief pass.  However, if you’re in Atlanta and you have some time, YDFM is definitely an interesting sight to explore.

With the grapefruits I purchased at YDFM, I made Paula’s cake.  It actually turned out very well, though it benefited (in flavor and texture) from sitting for a day before eating.  I tempted fate by making a meringue-based cake on a humid, rainy day, and it didn’t bit me in the ass TOO much, but I can’t help but wonder if it would have turned out even better had it been dry outside.  The cake itself is citrusy and slightly sweet, and I think it would have been delicious on its own as a pound cake, maybe just dusted with a little powdered sugar.  My only issue with the icing was that it wasn’t quite thick enough for my liking, but it had a wonderful tangy flavor.  Make sure you have a large serrated knife before cutting the cake in half for layering, or you’ll end up with a crumbly mess.  I don’t have any special cake decorating tools (I just used my knife and a stationary cake stand), and this still ended up as the prettiest dessert I’ve ever created.  Not sure what that says about me, but enjoy!

  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons bakingpowder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon grapefruit zest
  • 3 tablespoons grapefruit juice
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 eggs whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven at 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch cake pan with nonstick oil.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center for dry ingredients. Add water, oil, zest, grapefruit juice and egg yolks. Beat until smooth. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar separately until whites are stiff but not dry. Gradually fold egg whites into flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just blended. Do not stir the mixture.

Pour batter into prepared cake pan.

Bake for 25 minutes or until cake springs back when gently touched with a finger. Invert pan on cake rack to cool. Run spatula around edge of cake. Carefully remove from pan. With a serrated knife, gently cut layer in half.

  • 2 (6-ounce) packages cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoons grapefruit juice
  • 1 teaspoon grapefruit zest
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • Grapefruit sections, drained

Let cream cheese soften to room temperature. Beat cheese until fluffy. Add grapefruit juice and zest. Gradually blend in sugar. Mix until well blended. Crush several grapefruit sections to measure 2 teaspoons.

Blend into frosting. Spread frosting on bottom half of cake. Top with several grapefruit sections. Cover with second layer of cake. Frost top and sides. Garnish with remaining grapefruit sections.


Recipe: Honeyed Yogurt and Blueberry Tart with Ginger Crust

February 20, 2009

While I am not a gifted baker, I do have a couple of easy, go-to desserts that are signatures for me.  For example, my homemade key lime pie gets rave reviews, but it involves only a handful of ingredients and minimal time in the oven.  Unfortunately, such a simple dessert ends up boring me a little, as there is no challenge and no butterflies about what guests will think when they taste it for the first time.

The picture for this dessert in Food and Wine magazine really caught my eye, thanks to the lovely fluted crust and the bright, plump blueberries.  Thankfully, after some “meh” recipe experiences, this one totally delivered.  The crust is simple and tasty (it would have been simpler if I had a working food processor, but it still worked out), and the no-bake filling is tangy and just sweet enough.  The visual is also pretty impressive, making this a perfect way to thrill your guests without spending all day in the kitchen.

  • 10 whole graham crackers, broken into pieces
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 cups Greek-style nonfat yogurt, drained overnight
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries (9 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a tart pan with a removable bottom with cooking spray. In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers with the crystallized ginger, sugar and salt until finely ground. Add the butter and egg white and pulse until the crumbs are evenly coated. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned. Let the crust cool completely.

In a medium bowl, mix the drained yogurt with the honey. Spread the yogurt in the crust and arrange the blueberries over the surface of the yogurt. Cut the tart in slices and serve.


Recipe: Honey Vanilla Pound Cake

January 9, 2009

I don’t do too many shameless plugs on this site.  Okay, let me rephrase: I don’t do too many non-food-related shameless plugs on this site.  Happy now?  Sheesh.

Anyway, my plug is for Borders (yes, the bookstore).  Not only is their loyalty rewards program FREE (unlike another large bookstore chain I might mention), but they send me super duper coupons every month or so.  For example, right before Christmas, I got a coupon for 40% off any book in the store.  I knew I would be buying a nice hardback cookbook, since they’re the most expensive books I buy, and they never seem to go on sale.  Damn celebrity chefs and their royalties.

Long story short (too late, I know), I used my 40% off coupon at Borders to buy Ina Garten’s new cookbook, “Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics.”  I even bought a copy for my mom, because I was so impressed with the helpful tips and the yummy-looking yet relatively easy recipes.  The only question that remained was which recipe I’d tackle first.

I settled on this pound cake because a) I had all of the ingredients, and b) I had recently eaten the last piece of the Bailey’s bundt cake.  Not only was this cake simple to prepare, but it made my kitchen smell divine.  This is a great breakfast treat, but it also works well as a dessert.  So thank you, Ina and Borders, for keeping my sweet tooth satisfied.

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter at cool room temperature
    1 1/4 cups sugar
    4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
    2 tablespoons mild honey
    2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
    1 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a standard loaf pan.

Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until light. Meanwhile, put the eggs, honey, vanilla, and lemon zest in a glass measuring cup (but do NOT mix). With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the egg mixture, one egg at a time, scraping down the bowl and allowing each egg to become incorporated before adding the next egg.

Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. With the mixer on low speed, add it very slowly to the butter and egg mixture until just combined. Finish mixing the batter with a rubber spatula and pour it into the prepared pan. Smooth the top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes, turn out on a baking rack, and cool completely.

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Irish Creme Pound Cake

January 7, 2009
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Breakfast is definitely my favorite meal.  Eggs, bacon, biscuits, sausage, hash browns–I am a fan of pretty much all of the savory A.M. treats.  And while I usually tend toward the salty end of the breakfast spectrum, I do occasionally crave something sweet in the morning.

Enter this great coffee cake recipe, complete with breakfast booze!  Don’t worry, the amount of Bailey’s is just enough to taste it without worrying about breathing on your boss.  This is a fairly straightforward recipe to follow, but do make sure you fully soften the butter and cream cheese–it will definitely affect the texture of the finished product.  If you’re not a sweet breakfast person, this cake also makes a wonderful dessert–try it heated with just a bit of vanilla frozen yogurt.  Yum!

  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate minichips
  • 1 teaspoon cake flour
  • 2 3/4 cups cake flour (about 11 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 10 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1  cup granulated sugar
  • 1  cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3  large eggs
  • 3/4 cup Irish cream liqueur
  • Baking spray with flour
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • Preheat oven to 325.

    Combine chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon flour in a small bowl; toss.

    Lightly spoon 2 3/4 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

    Place cream cheese and butter in a bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed to blend. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time; beat well after each addition. Beat on high speed 1 minute. With mixer on low, add flour mixture and liqueur alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat well after each addition. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour batter into a 12-cup Bundt pan coated with baking spray. Bake at 325 for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Sift powdered sugar over cake.

    * Sorry for the lack of a photograph.  My wonderful digital camera met its end this weekend, when I clumsily dropped it while taking a picture of my adorable dog.  I know, I’m pathetic.  Sue me.

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