Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Marathon of a Different Sort

Whew! I am totally exhausted. I can't decide if it's the time change or because I just chowed down on Fox Bros. BBQ and chocolate birthday cake. Probably a combination of both! In honor of the NYC Marathon being cancelled I've been on a baking and eating marathon of epic proportions. You start with the (no joke) 15 pounds of Halloween candy that the kids hauled in last Wednesday, add in my birthday on Oct. 31st, spice it up with us bringing the snack to the Baby's last soccer game, and top it off with Mom's birthday today. Folks, I will be rolling to the table on Christmas morning. I haven't even mentioned my recent discovery of Nutella, the yummiest substance to come out of the British Isles since, well, since ever.

Sometimes you find some treasurers in Google Images. Look at that little guy going to town on the Nutella. And you, know, Arizona Iced Tea is a pretty bold choice for a drink pairing with a Nutella sandwich. Personally, I would have gone with a Riesling, but that's just me.

Because I like to share the joy that is baked goods, I've got two recipes for you all today. Also, I think that if we all go on holiday eating binges, we'll all be bigger, but relatively speaking, we'll all look the same. Right? Yes, I believe that the logic portion of the LSAT may have been my weakest.

For the Baby's last soccer game, she insisted that we bring the snack and because I was completely insane from my week of Halloween, class parties, teacher birthdays, and my birthday I agreed. The Baby further insisted that the snack had to be my pumpkin muffins, and she would accept no substitutes. So, here we go:

Pumpkin Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 15oz. can of solid-pack pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp pumpkin-pie spice
1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Put ove rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put liners in muffin cups or spray muffin pan with cooking spray.

Whisk together flour and baking powder in a small bowl.

Whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs, pumpkin-pie spice, 1 1/4 cups sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until smooth, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined.

Stir together cinnamon and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small bowl.

Divide batter among muffin cups (each should be about 3/4 full), the sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake until puffed and golden brown and a wooden toothpick or skewer inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. 25-30 minutes for full-sized muffins, 18-20 minutes for mini-muffins. This recipe makes approximately 42 mini-muffins. 

I asked the K why the food in my pictures look so unappetizing and he said that in magazines the food isn't real. The actual food doesn't look good in pictures, so they doctor up the food so that it looks delicious, but in actuality it's all fake. Somehow that made me feel a little better. Anyhoo, the pumpkin muffins were mostly a hit with the 3 year-old soccer players, and the Baby had a lot of fun playing. Go Lions!

My second baking adventure of the weekend was chocolate birthday cake with mocha icing for Mom's birthday. Here's picture of the finished product:

Looks like a gigantic chocolate donut, doesn't it. I'm going to lay it all on the table here, if you don't want to see the word "shortening" go back to work/answering emails/stalking people on Facebook/ignoring your children. That ingredient is used in both the cake and the icing of this dessert. So, you've been warned.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup shortening 
1 1/5 tsp vanilla
2 extra large eggs

In a large bowl, place the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Beat with a mixer on the lowest peed until completely  blended. Add the buttermilk, shortening, and vanilla; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the 2 eggs all at once, band blend in for about 30 seconds on low speed; then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour the batter into a buttered tube pan, and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until done.

Sylvia's Creamy Mocha Frosting

Beat in large mixing bowl:
1/2 egg (I know, just do your best - I'm halving the recipe)
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 stick butter, softened
dash of salt
The result should look like very creamy mayonnaise.

2 squares melted unsweetened chocolate, slightly cooled
Continue beating until all one color.

Have ready:
about 1/2 cup of very hot, strong coffee
Add to frosting mixture:
1 lb confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla
about 1/8 cup coffee, or more if needed for spreadability

Beat on low speed until all blended; if additional liquid is needed, add more coffee. Now beat on medium speed for 10 minutes or until frosting has a creamy, spreading consistency. Add more confectioners' sugar or coffee as required. 

If you are concerned about using raw eggs, this frosting can be made without, but it isn't quite as good.

The cake and the icing/frosting recipes are from this book: 

which you can purchase new on Amazon for (wait for it) $278.84. Alternatively, I will copy the entire book for you if you ask nicely and reimburse me for my expenses. Everything I've ever made from the cookbook has been incredibly delicious. The author is a woman who sold baked goods out of her house in Maine. She ended up with a brisk mail-order business, with customers including Julie Andrews and John Williams, conductor of the Boston Pops. Sister and I always had Sylvia's cakes for our birthdays. 

Now, if you want to read an account of the real NYC Marathon that wasn't this year, hop on over to my friend Erica's blog. Erica is a college friend who is, among other things, an amazing runner. She was planning to run the NY Marathon today, but instead had some adventures in the City which are recapped in her blog. Tomorrow she heads to South Africa for a big anniversary trip. 

Have a great week everyone!  


  1. You've outdone yourself again! Since you are the baking queen and a veteran room parent: I know pumpkin pie spice has nutmeg in it. Is nutmeg a no, no ingredient for those with nut allergies?

    1. Nutmeg is fine. My mom eats it and she's allergic to all tree nuts and doesn't eat peanuts just to be sure. Are you making them for someone's class?