Miz Chef

Food Is Sexy—Therefore, I Cook


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Apple Corn Muffins

You know me—always picking up some odd thing or another in the plethora of ethnic markets throughout New York City.IMG_2510

This time, it was canned apples in sugar syrup from my favorite Indian market in Jackson Heights, Queens. Normally, I don’t buy canned fruit, much less anything in sugar syrup. But it just caught my attention on the shelf and I was curious about what they tasted like and what their appeal was. So, I bought a can.

Okay, now I know that it states right there on the can that they’re packed in sugar syrup. But I was not prepared for the cloying sweetness that almost put me into a diabetic coma. Yowza.

So, this is what I did. I drained the apples from the syrup and threw together a quick cornbread mix and made muffins. I found that the cornbread balanced out some of that sweetness. Keep the syrup for another recipe (for example, poke holes in a cake and pour the syrup over the top, or strain it and use it for a cocktail).IMG_2512

Here’s my recipe. It’s really easy and quick and a great way to use those canned apples that everyone has lying around. I mean, don’t you have them in your pantry?

Do not add sugar to the cornbread mix—it will make the muffins over-the-top sweet. Let me know what you think. Enjoy!IMG_2522

Apple Corn Muffins

1 cup fine cornmeal
¼ cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
pinch salt ¼ cup milk
1 egg
1 container apples in syrup, drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 6-cup muffin tin.

In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk together.

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Add milk and egg and whisk in. Fold in apples just until all apples incorporated.

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Divide batter into cups of muffin tin.

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Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes; turn out onto wire rack.

Makes 6 muffins.IMG_2523

 

 

 


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Chocolate Cake with Avocado Mousse

This week, I wanted to offer my recipe for Chocolate Cake with Avocado Mousse. It received raves when I made it and I’m finally getting around to posting it.

The first ingredients is a chocolate sheet cake. You can certainly make it from scratch, but if you’re pressed for time, you can go and buy one from the store.

Rich chocolate cake paired with a zesty avocado mousse makes a luscious sweet-tart flavor combo. The white chocolate chips give it a gratifying chewy element without competing with the cake. Besides, with antioxidants in chocolate and omega-3 fatty acids in avocado, who can argue that this is a decadent dessert with health benefits? And it’s vegan!

Chocolate Cake with Avocado Mousse

1 chocolate sheet cake (9×13”)
2 Haas avocados
1/4 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon citrus zest (orange, lemon, lime or a combo)
1 teaspoon maple crystals
1/3 cup white chocolate chips

1. Trim off about 1 inch from each end of the cake. Split the cake in half, lift off the top half, and set aside.

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2. Combine avocados, lime juice, vanilla, honey, citrus zest, and maple crystals in a food processor and process until completely smooth. (Stop the machine and push down the mixture with a rubber spatula, if necessary.)

3. Spread the avocado mixture evenly over the bottom half of the cake. Sprinkle the chips evenly over the avocado. Replace the top half of the cake.

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4. Cut into 12 squares, or use a 2 1/2-inch ring mold to cut out circles. Serve as is or sprinkle powdered sugar over the top.

Makes 12.

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Chestnut-Chocolate-Bourbon Brownies

chestnut chocolate bourbon brownies

If you’re still looking for something to bring to the family meal for the holidays, try this one. It’s Chestnut-Chocolate-Bourbon Brownies. What gives them a seasonal touch is the chestnut spread, which is flavored with vanilla and sugar, so additional sugar is unnecessary.IMG_1840

These are the perfect party treat. Chestnut is a classic holiday ingredient, and who doesn’t love brownies? As for the bourbon…well, let’s just say it makes the holidays go down easier.

You can find the chestnut spread at gourmet shops (I found mine at Dean & Deluca in Manhattan).

For those of you who celebrate, I hope that you have a wonderful, joyous Christmas, or a bountiful, happy Kwanzaa.

Chestnut-Chocolate-Bourbon Brownies

Makes 16 servings

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate or 1 cup bittersweet chips
1 can chestnut spread
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8-inch square baking pan and line it with parchment.

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Melt chocolate in a double boiler or an aluminum bowl set over a pot of simmering water.

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In a medium bowl, combine the chestnut spread and butter. Stir to break up butter. Stir in egg, then bourbon and melted chocolate. Add flour and baking powder and stir just until blended.

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Transfer batter to baking pan. Bake 45 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out fairly clean. If top get dark before cake is done, cover with aluminum foil.

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Transfer pan to wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then lift cake out of pan using parchment and place on rack. Let cool completely. Cut into 2-inch squares.


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Persimmon Tea Cake

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It’s the season for persimmons! This is the time of year when persimmon lovers rejoice because persimmons are a sumptuous fruit, sweet and soft (or crunchy, depending on which you get).

Persimmons are a rather expensive fruit, so when I get my hands on some, I usually just eat them as fruit. However, recently a co-worker brought in a huge bag of persimmons from her own tree (how I wish I had one!). So, with that opportunity, I decided to try baking something with them.

So here now is my Persimmon Tea Cake. This is a dense but moist loaf that doesn’t IMG_1838need any embellishment. It’s great for an afternoon snack with a cup of coffee or tea.

Make sure that you use the larger Hachiya persimmons and not the smaller Fuyu. Fuyu are delicious to eat out of hand, but it remains somewhat hard and the pulp isn’t as soft and creamy when pureed. You can puree a bunch of persimmons and keep it tightly sealed in the freezer until you need it.

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Fully ripe persimmons

And while Fuyus can be eaten hard, Hachiyas most certainly cannot. Hachiyas are ready to be eaten when they are extremely soft and look like they’re on the verge of rotting. No, really. Hachiyas are astringent and if you eat them before they’re ready, I guarantee you that you will regret it and remember it as long as you live. Every drop of moisture in your mouth will dry up. I jokingly tell people that an unripe persimmon will dry up their whole head. Believe me, it will feel that way.

But once they’re soft and ready, their flavor and sweetness are sublime. Unfortunately, their flavor is also delicate and won’t come out strongly in cake. Rather, the cake will have an unusual, undefinable flavor, but absolutely pleasing. I’m working on a gluten-free version, so one of these days, I’ll post that recipe.

In the meantime, enjoy this one.

Persimmon Tea Cake

Makes 1 loaf.

¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup buttermilk
1 ½ tablespoons orange zest
1 tablespoon lemon zest
½ cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar, preferably organic
2 large eggs
1 cup persimmon pulp (from about 3 medium-large persimmons)

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan, or line it with parchment paper (I like to do both for easy removal).

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In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

Using an electric mixer or food processor, puree pulp until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and whisk in buttermilk and zests.

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With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Add one egg and beat it in, then add the other one and beat it in.

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Mix in the persimmon pulp. Add the flour mixture in a little at a time and mix just until blended.

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Transfer to loaf pan and bake 45 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from pan and let cool completely.

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Bourbon-Coconut-Pumpkin Cake

I love having leftover pumpkin in the refrigerator because it prompts me to bake something new with it, and that’s one of the best things about the holidays. I’m not much of a pumpkin pie fan, but I love other baked goodies made with pumpkin.IMG_1820

This started off as a basic pumpkin cake, but I veered off a little and added a couple of items that I thought really brought it up a notch (or two): bourbon and coconut. The flavor and texture made it a huge hit. My only regret is that I didn’t get a shot of the cake after I’d iced it. I hope you all like it.

Enjoy!

Bourbon-Coconut-Pumpkin Cake

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup organic sugar or coconut sugar
1 ½ cups pumpkin puree
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons bourbon or whiskey

Icing

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degree. Grease an 8-inch square or round cake pan (or line with parchment).

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt.

In a large bowl, whip butter and sugar until fluffy (the consistency should be sort of like wet sand). IMG_1812

Gently mix in the pumpkin, coconut, eggs, and bourbon.

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Fold in the flour mixture.

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Spoon into pan and smooth out the top.

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Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out fairly dry (a couple of crumbs is okay), about 1 hour.

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Move to a wire rack and let cook 5 minutes. Invert it onto the rack, then invert it again to be top-up. (If you used parchment paper, you can just lift it right out of the pan.) Let cook completely.

Make icing: Combine sugar and 1 tablespoon bourbon in a small bowl and stir until smooth. If too thick, add a little more bourbon; if too thick, add more sugar. Pour over top, spreading it out so that it falls over the sides. Sprinkle coconut over the top.

Makes 1 10-inch cake.

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