Blueberry Pancake Cupcakes

With my crazy work schedule and abnormal hours, I occasionally get random food cravings, like pickles, guacamole, and blueberry pancakes (not all at once). One night when a blueberry pancake craving struck, I had the brilliant idea of turning it into a cupcake. After googling “blueberry pancake cupcakes”, it turns out I’m not the first person to have this brilliant idea. Regardless, I decided to make my own version. Many recipes I found use an actual pancake batter for the cupcake. Instead, I took a recipe I had for a vanilla cupcake and reduced the sugar and increased the baking powder in an attempt to get a fluffier cupcake. The frosting is a maple buttercream using both maple syrup (the real kind) and maple extract. The result was a slightly sweeter replica of a blueberry pancake in a portable form. It was the perfect snack/dessert/breakfast when my 4 AM craving hit on hour 20 in the busy emergency room!

Blueberry cupcakes
(Makes 24 cupcakes)

2 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 cup of sugar
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream (can also substitute greek yogurt)
3 cups of blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 cupcakes pans with 24 cupcake liners.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in bowl and set aside

In mixer with a whip attachment, beat eggs and sugar on medium speed until thickened and lightened to a cream color, about 2 minutes scraping bowl as needed. On low speed mix in oil and vanilla until blended. Mix in sour cream. Gradually add in flour mixture until incorporated and batter is smooth. Mix in blueberries. Spoon into prepared cups and bake 18-23 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let the pan cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove from pan. Cool completely before frosting.

Maple Frosting

1 lb butter (4 sticks) at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1/2 tsp maple extract

In a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment, cream the butter until fluffy for 1-2 minutes. Gradually add the powdered sugar on low and mix until incorporated. Pour in the maple syrup and 1/2 tsp maple extract and mix until smooth. Turn up mixer to high and beat for 1-2 minutes until fluffy.

Spread or pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Enjoy!

Chilled Spanish White Gazpacho

With my second year of residency coming to a close, and the beginning of my third year rapidly approaching at a heart arrhythmia inducing pace, I have not had much time to delve into the world of Flour, Too (see my last post on the book signing I attended with Joanne Chang).   However, as I was trying to think of a light and easy dinner to make last week, I recalled seeing this recipe and adding it to my mental list of “Things I want to cook/bake soon”.

My love of gazpacho began in Sevilla, Spain when I was studying abroad for a semester my junior year of college.  Gazpacho orginated in the South of Spain (possibly via Arab or Roman influences) and is traditionally thought of as a cold, tomato-based, vegetable soup.  My host mom made a delecious gazpacho and even gave me some cooking lessons on how to make it  (although my attempts to replicate it at home have been slightly dissapointing).

This white gazpacho from Flour, Too is a modern, sweeter take on the classic.   Grapes and cucumbers make up the flavor base in place of tomatoes and instead of the stale bread of the traditional recipe, this soup uses blanched almonds.   The result is a refreshing summer soup that can be whipped up in minutes!  I did add my own touch with a garnish of crispy shallots (from Barefoot Contessa).  While optional, I highly recommend these for a great flavor and texture contrast to the sweet soup.  Buen Provecho!

Chilled Spanish White Gazpacho (from Flour, Too by Joanne Chang)
serves 4-6

2 lb seedless green grapes, stemmed
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
2 garlic cloves
6 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
3 tbsp good-quality sherry vinegar
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 English cucumbers, peeled and cut crosswise into 1-to 2- inch pieces
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1-2 tbsp for finishing
crispy shallots (optional)

Working in batches, combine the grapes, almonds, garlic, cilantro, vinegar, lime juice, and salt in the blender or food processor and pulse until the almonds and garlic are chopped but not too finely.  Add the cucumbers and pulse again until the cucumbers are blended.  Do not overblend, you want the soup to have some texture.  Using a spatula or a wooden spoon, stir in the olive oil.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to chill the soup and allow the flavors to blend.  (Taste and add more salt as needed.)  Ladle into bowls and drizzle each with about 1 tsp olive oil before serving.  You may also garnish with crispy shallots if desired.  The soup will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

“Flour, Too” Book Signing

Anyone who knows me or has read my blog, can probably guess that I have a minor obsession with Joanne Chang and Flour bakery.  Most of the recipes I have featured here have some component from Joanne Chang’s delicious confections.  So when I heard that she was releasing a new cookbook, Flour, Too I immediately pre-ordered a copy on amazon.  And when my blogging friend, Dafna (of Stellina Sweets) told me she’d be visiting Boston and would be attending a book signing by Joanne Chang tonight (at Kitchenwares on Newbury Street), I immediately changed my call schedule so I could join her!

While this cookbook does contain some pastry and dessert items from the bakery, it also features many of the favorite savory items like the sandwiches, soups and dinner specials.  The book signing started out with a short (but sweet- pun intended!) talk by Joanne Chang about how she got into the business, the growth of Flour, and the development of her two cookbooks (and plans for two more!).  And of course, she brought some sinful treats for us to try and savor (brown sugar-oat cherry muffins).  She then answered some questions from the audience and next the book signing began.  Not only is she smart (she has a degree in applied mathematics from Harvard) and talented, but she is super nice and personable!  I can’t wait to delve into the new cookbook- a world of cinnamon cream brioche, roasted lamb sandwiches, scallion pancakes, Boston cream pie, and Kouign-Amann awaits me!

Crack Pie

Crack pie? Yes! Crack pie! With a name like that, how can it not be good?  And don’t worry…there isn’t actually any crack or illegal drugs involved in its creation…

For my second foray into the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook, I decided to try their signature pie.  I had to see what all the fuss was about!  This pie was created by Christina Tosi, last minute, on a whim as she was trying to make dessert for “Staff Meal” at WD50.  What she thought was sure to be a flop, was ravished by all her fellow chefs that night and became an instant favorite.  (This is in stark contrast to our “9 o’clock meal” that we are served at the hospital- free hospital cafeteria leftovers that always seem to include instant mashed potatoes and some sort of mystery meat.)

One of the great things about this pie is that most of its components can be made ahead of time (which is great for busy surgery residents!).  The other great thing about this recipe: it makes 2 pies!  Because what is better than 1 crack pie? 2 crack pies obviously!  This pie does require some “specialty” items such as corn powder (ground freeze dried corn) and milk powder (sold in regular grocery stores- look for it in the baby formula isle), but they are worth it.

I will confess that I was a little worried about my pie during the baking process.  Actually, I was a lot worried!  The directions say to bake for 5 minutes after lowering the oven temperature to 325 and if still too “jiggly”, to bake for an additional 5 minutes.  After these additional 5 minutes…and another 5 minutes…and another 3 minutes I felt my pie was still too “jiggly” but was getting quite brown on top so I took it out of the oven.  It actually firmed up quite nicely once it started to cool which then caused me to worry that I had left it in too long and overbaked it, the cardinal sin of baking!  So I crossed my fingers as I brought it in to work the next day for a colleague’s birthday.  But fear not!  The pie had the perfect combination of a rich, gooey, salty-sweet butterscotch-like filling paired with a crunchy, oat cookie crust…and, man, was it addicting!  I snuck up to the surgical floor in between all of my cases to steal a piece.  By the end of the day, the pie was long gone and my belly was a little too full on cracktastic, sugary goodness.  Luckily, I have another pie waiting for me in the freezer :).

Click below for the recipe.

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Cornflake, Chocolate Chip, and Marshmallow Cookies

I have never really been a huge fan of cereal.  As a child, my go to breakfasts were pop tarts (only the s’mores variety), muffins, and donuts (can you tell I have a sweet tooth?).  This has changed as I’ve grown older, (hopefully) more mature, and more cognizant of the nutrition choices I make.  I still scoff at most cereals but I do enjoy a nice bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats. Regardless, you can imagine my skepticism when I first came across these cookies with….gasp…cornflakes!  A fellow food blogger, Dafna of Stellina Sweets, had highly recommended the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook in a recent post.  I  have heard of Milk Bar but have never been fortunate enough to go and after investigating the cookbook further, I deemed it a worthy culinary investment.  With ingredients like corn powder (from freeze dried corn that you can buy here), milk powder, glucose, and yes, cornflakes, I decided to push myself in new sweet directions.

To make these cookies, you first make a corn flake crunch by mixing crushed cornflakes, sugar, milk powder and butter and then lightly baking the clusters.  Next, you make a cookie dough which involves a long and thorough butter creaming process in a stand mixer.  Finally, you add the cornflake crunch, mini chocolate chips and mini marshmallows.  The recipe below is amended slightly to reflect some of the tips shared with me by Dafna:

1) I used 2 cups of cornflake crunch instead of the recommended 3 cups
2) The original recipe makes larger cookies and bakes them for 18 minutes in a 375 degree oven.  I prefer smaller cookies (more to share!) and baked them at 350 degrees for 11 minutes per Dafna’s recommendations.

The results were scrumptious!  Cornflakes in a cookie…genius!  Next Momofuku Milk Bar recipe to tackle will be the famous Crack Pie.  Look for the post next week.  For the cornflake cookie recipe, click below.

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