Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Stout Cupcakes with Basil Buttercream

I like cake.  I really like cupcakes.
I like beer.  I really like dark beer.

I have been known to wash down cake with a beer, especially chocolate cake.  If you have not tried this before, grab a buddy (safety first), get the chocolatey- est cupcake you can find, choose your porter or stout brew of choice, and enjoy a life truth -   Beer + Cupcake = Bliss.

For my birthday last year a friend, who was in culinary school, made my birthday cake. She is a really good friend and I kind of knew that she would volunteer to make the cake.  Full disclosure - it was why I had the party. ;)  There were 10 of us and we all went out to dinner to a trendy Seattle restaurant.  She brought the cake to the restaurant for dessert - example of why we are friends.

The cake was a dark chocolate stout cake with ridiculously good ganache.  I have had ALOT of cake in my life and it was in the top three EVER!  I can still smell it.  The crumb of the cake was perfect, not too wet, not too dry.  It had just the right amount of sweetness,. You could taste the cocoa powder on your tougue and it had just a ting of a sour note. The ganache was smooth and shiny, rich and luscious! It was a hard cake to share.  I was concerned that after a big meal people would pass on a big slice of cake. We were full. As the best testament to its goodness everyone did a very respectable job on their cake slices and the only doggy bags that left the restaurant that night had dark chocolate stout cake in them.  It made the best breakfast I ever ate. 
Let me know what brew you washed your cupcake down with? 

Here is the recipe from epicurious. 

I paired it with basil buttercream inspired from the Vanilla Bean Blog. 

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (three sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces (about 70 degrees – butter should be  soft enough to mix well, but firm enough to give some structure to the buttercream)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Combine milk, heavy cream, and basil in a heavy bottomed saucepan.  Heat gently,  until just simmering, and remove from the heat. Let cool, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Remove basil leaves from cream, squeezing any ‘basil juice’ from the leaves into the cream.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk-cream-basil mixture and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool, 7-9 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, about another 1-2 minutes.
Add the vanilla and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it is the proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.

 Image result for chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icingImage result for chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icing


Theo Chocolate Brownies

I am about to change your life in two words - Theo Chocolate.  Already familiar?  Good for you!  Not familiar? Don't worry - all your dreams are about to come true.  I first discovered Theo Chocolate when I was living in Cincinnati and my local grocery store had a display of these beautifully wrapped chocolate bars with innovative flavor combinations.  I got hooked on the Coconut Curry Milk Chocolate bar and have never looked back. 

I met the founders Joe Whinney and Debra Music in 2007 when I was buying food for for a national retailer. I traveled to their lovely little factory in Seattle and fell head over heels in love with everything about them.  The way they think about chocolate comes from a deeply committed place to make life sweeter for all.  Theo was the first Bean to Bar, organic, fair trade chocolate company in North America.  They help the world by responsible agricultural practices and being on the ground ensuring that the farmers that they buy from are fairly compensated for the cacao they grow.  Oh and their chocolate is AMAZING!
Eat Theo Chocolate more and often - it is your duty to be a better citizen in world we live in. 
Consequently, one of the founders is one of my best friends.  Friendships grow stronger when there's a chocolate factory involved - trust me!
Anyway, go to Whole Foods and pick yourself up a few bars of this insanely good chocolate.  Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone - they are masterfully crafted bars and flavor combinations; there is no wrong answer.
This recipe is the factory's chocolate brownie recipe.  They are dark, and deep, and they will love you as much as you love them.   Brownies are very unconditional. 
Life changed!

3 Theo 70% Dark Chocolate bars (3oz. each)
¾ C granulated sugar
¼ C packed brown sugar
1 stick butter (8T)
3 eggs
½ C + 2T all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. vanilla extract, optional
Butter an 8 inch baking pan and line with parchment, leaving a small overhang to ease removal of the finished brownies.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Unwrap all three bars. 
Place this melting chocolate in a heatproof bowl along with the sugars and butter; set the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir occasionally until butter and chocolate are completely melted and the mixture is just hot to the touch. Cool slightly.
Meanwhile, take the remainder of the third bar and chop it up into small chunks. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk the salt and flour together very thoroughly to ensure there are no lumps. If your flour is lumpy, sift it after measuring. Set the flour and salt aside.
Remove the melted chocolate, sugar, and butter mixture from the heat and carefully dry the outside of the bowl with a towel. Crack the eggs and whisk them into the warm chocolate mixture one at a time until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the vanilla extract, if using. 
Pour immediately into the prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached but not wet with raw batter.
Cool completely before cutting, if you can wait that long!  


Your best Eggs Benedict!

Sunday morning.  Still under the covers, chilly outside but the sun is up and shining.  There is a faint smell of toast and butter with just a light effervescent trace of lemon in the air.  Coffee is brewed. Orange juice is squeezed.  I have had this dream.  I have had this dream often.  It starts with someone (not mentioning any names - Benjamin Bratt, if you are reading this drop me a note :)) in my kitchen making perfect Eggs Benedict.  Bless you Benjamin, bless you! 

So what goes into the perfect Eggs Benedict?  Well Hollandaise for one.  It is actually THE thing that makes it Eggs Benedict.  Darcy, who works in our office - fabulous, 6'1', 25, and gorgeous, makes Hollandaise with her dad and swears his sauce is perfection itself. Toast. Toast is subjective and deeply personal.  Traditionally, it is an English Muffin but I won't be mad at a fluffy buttermilk biscuit as a vessel of Benedict love.  A poached egg.  I will come back to this because I was severely poach egg challenged and then I discovered a magic pouch*.  I like smoked salmon and capers on my Eggs Benedict but we are kind of at the best part now - it's your perfect Eggs Benedict, what do you want on yours?
*Back to poached egg magic - a few years ago we partnered with a lovely couple from England who had demystified poaching eggs.  The product is Perfect Poach.  Basically, you crack an egg in this little paper pouch, place it gently boiling water for 4-6 minutes, and Viola - poached egg perfection!  I am a newer poached egg devotee but a poached egg makes everthing I eat a little more sophisticated.  Please see our great video on this meal changer!
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Dwayne's perfect Hollandaise
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My favorite recipe for Eggs Benedict - including how to poach an egg and make the EASIEST creamy hollandaise sauce.
Today in National Peanut Butter Lover's Day.  I am sure you have had it on your calendar for months and are now busying yourself with decorations and traditional NPBLD fare but just in case it slipped your mind, I have you covered.

Peanuts are a strange looking legume.  Think about it, someone found this weird looking dimply thing in the ground and thought "Gee, I definitely want to eat that!"  Thank goodness the gatherers that came before us were hungry all the time or our food choices would be greatly reduced.  The real genius came from the Aztecs who ground roasted peanuts into a paste.  This is a new fact for me but this I know - those Aztecs had it going on; first chocolate and now peanut butter!  I am definitely descended from the Aztecs!  

I recently discovered these oatmeal sandwich cookies with creamy peanut butter filling from Joy the Baker.  I was looking for a soft sandwich cookie and stumbled across these scrumptious little morsels.  I like oatmeal cookies.  I LOVE these oatmeal cookies.  They are soft and cinnamony and then they have this fluffy, not-to-sweet, little bit salty, peanut butter loveliness in the middle - oh my, I am having a moment.

Happy National Peanut Butter Lover's Day to you and yours!

What's you favorite peanut butter recipe?


Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies with Creamy Peanut Butter Filling by Joy the Baker
makes about 2 dozen small sandwich cookies

Print this Recipe!
For the Cookies:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups uncooked old-fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped pecans
For the Filling:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk
Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Beat the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Beat until creamy, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add egg and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute.  Add the vanilla extract and beat until blended.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture slowly beating on low speed until just incorporated.  Stir in the pecans last.
The cookies will be small, so portion about 1 heaping teaspoon of cookie dough into your hand.  Roll into a ball and place on the prepared cookie sheet.  Keep cookies about 1 1/2-inch apart on the baking sheet.  If the cookie dough begins to stick to your hands as you’re making dough balls, rinse your hands and portion the dough with just slightly damp hands.
Bake for 10 to 13 minutes or until they’ve reached your desired doneness.  I like mine a little underdone and cook them for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
To prepare the filling, place butter, peanut butter, and powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium speed, drizzling in vanilla extract.  Scrape down the bowl as necessary.  Add milk one tablespoon at a time until you’ve reached your desired consistency.  The filling should be easily spreadable.
When cookies are completely cool, flip over and spread half of the cookie bottoms with peanut butter filling.  Top with a similar size cookie.  Wrap individually and store in the refrigerator.  Cookies are best served slightly chilled.  Cookies last, wrapped in the fridge, for about 5 days.  



Friday, February 20, 2015

Welcome to Tovolove

This is a big day for Tovolo.  Today we launch into a new adventure with you - we are blogging!  This blog is going to be about who we are, our new products, our favorite products, where we are going, what we are eating, but most of all it will be about YOU!  Think of this as an extension of the relationship WE already have.

 We are your favorite spatula.



We made your parties a hoot!


We hang around in your favorite whiskey slowly melting away your stress. 


See, we already enjoy being in your kitchen and helping through the everyday task of feeding yourself and those you love.  This blog is our way of returning the favor and inviting you into our lives.  We are like you; we work hard, we play hard, we cook with a purpose, and have figured out how to make it more enjoyable.

We want to hear from you!  We look forward to hearing what your favorite Tovolo tool is, how you use it, what you are making for dinner, and how we can continue to have a place in your tool crock or drawer.  We welcome your ideas and your feedback.

Tovolo is a really casual office in Seattle made up of fun, smart, young (and young-at-heart) people who love what they do and love the people they get to hang out with all day long.  It sounds cliché but it is true - we are a tight little group.  We have cocktail hours (some lasting more than an hour - don't judge those Sphere molds don't test themselves!) and cook lunch together in our kitchen.  We have breakfast potlucks and play in a competitive miniature golf league.

Being a collaborative team is essential for the Tovolo brand.  Ideas come from everyone and they all count.  The Pancake Pen was from the brain of one of the founder's daughter when she was 8.  The King Cube was born from an idea one of our designers had about how to chill his Scotch without diluting it.  Ideas come from everyone.  What's your idea?