A Southern Grace: June 2011

June 27, 2011

pickerboodles, knickerpoodles, flickertoodles


Snickerdoodles is a really random and fun name for a cookie, am I right? I love it--I think it embodies the whole plain-sugar-cookie-smothered-in-cinnamon-sugar thing.

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June 20, 2011

the joy of the almond


We've talked about candy bars before, and I've proclaimed that I enjoy a Mounds bar more than an Almond Joy, regardless of the fact that it's been ridiculously named. Mounds? Couldn't they do better than that? Why not Heaps or Piles or Clumps?

Alas, there's no turning back now, and I guess that in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really matter. I just wish they had consulted me--I have a knack for naming things.

The good news is that a flavor combination can have a silly name and still be amazingly delicious. That's how I feel about chocolate and coconut, and almonds are a nice bonus. These little cupcakes are coconut-flavored and get topped with an almond-infused chocolate buttercream. To finalize things, the garnish on top consists of coconut and sliced almonds, both toasted.

Unhinge jaw, insert tasty treat.

Clumps Cupcakes (with a little Almond Happiness)
(inspired by Martha)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed sweetened shredded coconut
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg whites
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

8 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 cups powdered sugar
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
6 tablespoons milk, plus more, if needed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sweetened coconut flakes, toasted
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

To make the cupcakes, first preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk dry ingredients (including coconut) in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix remaining wet ingredients in a bowl. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in three additions, alternating with wet ingredients and ending with dry, scraping the sides of bowl occasionally. Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks.

To make the frosting, put the chocolate in the top pan of a double boiler set over but not touching simmering water in the bottom pan. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Let cool to room temperature. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the powdered sugar, butter, milk, extracts, and salt and beat on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes, then reduce the speed to low. Add the chocolate and beat until combined, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute more.
If the frosting is dry, add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it is creamy but still holds peaks. This makes about 4 1/2 cups, which is more than enough to frost 21 cupcakes. Deal with the rest as you see fit.

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June 12, 2011

a new word for your everyday vocabulary


I'd like to change things up today and divert your attention to Natalie's exceptional blog, Perry's Plate. She asked me to do a guest post, and I rarely turn down an invitation for attention like that. If you have any interest in a butyraceous cheesecake, take a peek.

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June 5, 2011

goodness gracious, great balls of fire


For me, the epitome of the marvelous spicy-sweet combination is probably pepper jelly. Homemade is obviously best, but a close second is the batch I recently sampled from The East India Company.

The aspect of it that most stood out to me was the subtle hint of ginger--it was unexpected, and it was decidedly welcome. There's a definite kick from the peppers, too--it doesn't mess around! The flame is properly balanced by the sweetness, however, making for an exciting and satisfying eating experience.

There are many fitting places to make use of a tasty and unusual condiment like this pepper (or, as those Brits call it, chilli) jelly. It's thrilling in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it livens up a baked brie appetizer, and it makes a nice component of a meatball sauce. I might even be tempted to put the spicy jelly on some pancakes, literally making them hot cakes. (That reminds me of a one-liner I recently saw: Signs that things aren't going so well: You can't even sell hotcakes. Ha.) My favorite way to partake of it, however, is slathered atop a buttery biscuit. Eat it. Can't beat it.

I encourage all of you to check out The East India Company--they have a huge range of products, from tea to chocolates to chutney. Hey, if you have to deal with pounds, the money type is better than the weight type, right?

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