Im not one for secrets. Especially where chocolate is involved.
I always have a few tricks up my sleeve and I can never keep them secrets for long. Brown sugar baked bacon is one secret. Sweet, salty, crisp, and perfect. Adding that bacon to biscuits, completely over the top good! Brown butter in everything, most especially chocolate chip cookies…. another secret I just couldn’t keep to myself.
Today another secret comes out. We’re talking about the most perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. Soft, glossy, light and spreadable… and the secret ingredients are Rich Chocolate Ovaltine and heavy cream! Malted chocolate milk powder and cream to add extra body, and a light whipped texture to our frosting. It’s unexpected and perfect!
I hope there is cake (and waaaay too much buttercream) in your future.
Here’s what you’ll need:
• Three sticks (1 1/2 cups or 12 ounces) softened, unsalted butter. I think it’s best to leave the butter out overnight to softened to room temperature through and through. Softening butter in the microwave makes the butter more melty than soft and can break our perfect buttercream,
• Unsweetened cocoa powder, and lots of it.
• Salt, to balance the mountain of powdered sugar.
• A mountain of powdered sugar.
• Milk for moisture and softness.
• Rich Chocolate Ovaltine, the chocolate malted milk powder adds a creamy softness to this buttercream and makes it extra rich, glossy, and luscious.
• Heavy cream because, always.
• Extra credit: pure vanilla extract.
Whipping together perfect buttercream frosting isn’t hard, but there are a few tricks to make things go smoothly.
First, room temperature butter is creamed together with unsweetened cocoa powder and salt. No sugar just yet. Incorporating the butter and cocoa powder will ensure that the butter is soft and pliable and the chocolate is evenly distributed throughout the frosting. The mixture will be thick. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl once or twice during mixing.
Next, add the powdered sugar all at once. Just go for it. Mix on low and slowly drizzle in milk and vanilla extract. Get the mixture incorporated, but no need to whip the frosting on high just yet. We’ll get to that soon. The frosting should be relatively smooth and glossy (and it’s only going to get better!).
In a small bowl, stir together Ovaltine and heavy cream.
The mixture will thicken a bit as it sits.
With the mixer on medium, add half of the Ovaltine and cream mixture. Increase the speed and add a bit more. The buttercream will lighten slightly in color as it comes together.
Stop the mixer and scrape along the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure that it’s all mixing evenly. You may not need the entire Ovaltine mixture, but just add enough to create a glossy, smooth, completely spreadable frosting. I find that beating the buttercream on medium for about 1 minute makes a lovely frosting. Try not to overheat the buttercream as that might break the butter.
This buttercream is whipped and soft. Perfect for frosting cakes. It’s so soft and creamy it won’t rip the cakes or cause you undue stress. Plenty of frosting for a three layer cake or a sheet cake with frosting to spare. Any leftover frosting can be stored in the freezer for a cake or chocolate emergency.
This buttercream is also supreme eaten directly from the bowl with a spoon.
The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 2/3 cup Rich Chocolate Ovaltine powder
- Cream together butter, cocoa powder and salt. Butter mixture will be very thick. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add powdered sugar. Turn mixer on low and mix in powdered sugar while adding milk and vanilla extract. As the sugar incorporates, raise the speed of the mixer to beat the frosting. Beat until smooth, about 1 minute.
- In a 2 cup measuring glass, stir together heavy cream and Ovaltine. Turn mixer speed to medium and pour half of the cream mixture into frosting in a slow, steady stream. Stop the mister scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add remaining cream mixture or until you’ve reached your desired consistency. Beat until soft and creamy, about 1 minute.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Bring to room temperature before frosting cakes and cupcakes.
Hello friends and happy Sunday! Should we talk about the fact that it’s already May or does that make you hive-y? Me too. The days run away. They really do. Let’s do out very best to breathe deep and take in every bit.
I’m at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee this weekend. I’m not sure there is any place more lovely and pleasant and I’ll tell you more about my adventures next week. Suffice it to say, I’m eating everything, I’ve ridden a horse, gazed at mountains, and have yet to eat a single blackberry. Working on it. File under: weekend goals.
I hope your day is extra caffeinated and all sorts of lazy.
The Internet, this week, distilled:
• We need to talk about Baltimore, about Freddie Gray, about what’s happening with our nation’s policing. I think the best person to do that with is David Simon. David Simon on Baltimore’s Anguish.
• Images from Nepal. In our prayers.
• Caution: Appearing happy on social media can be used against you in a court of law.
• David Letterman on 33 Years in Late Night Television. A legend. He just can’t go. We won’t know what to do with ourselves. Really.
• The best and worst fonts to use on your resume. We’re leering at you, comic sans.
• The anonymous sharing app Secret is shutting down but another anonymous app called Whisper is doing better than ever. So… yes, apparently we still all want to sneak secrets to one another over social media, or at least some of us do. The rest of us are still trying to figure out if we need to Snap Chat and why Pinterest is just all cat photos.
• Oh… should we talk about the fact that Millennials Don’t Trust Anyone? Like… no one, except maybe every other person they follow on Instagram.
• Dr. Oz is kinda going through it right now. Oprah broke up with him a little.
• As we head into summer months: The Story of the Bikini aka How Fun It Is To Be In Public In Your Underwear… it’s not.
• I LOVE these Hawaiian Floral Vans.
• Currently reading and absolutely loving: This Is The Story of a Happy Marriage.
Have the happiest day! Tomorrow we’re talking about Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. Get your spoons ready now.
I have to find clever ways to NOT buy a bag of potato chips at the grocery store. By ‘clever’ I mean I just don’t go down the chip aisle. It’s my danger zone. I know that if I do, I’ll likely eat potato chips for lunch and dinner that day, and repeat that same process for probably three days straight.
I like salt and crunch. I really like potato chips. More than most. More than many.
I have to find creative ways to satiate my salt-tooth (like a sweet-tooth but different), and that means making my own gobble-able snack.
These salty tamari and maple roasted almonds are all the spicy, salt, sweet, and crunch I need. They’re not potato chips but… well, not even close but dang good, healthy and satisfying.
Did I mention that I really like potato chips? Just checking…
Simple things to start. Raw almonds, tamari which is a gluten-free soy sauce, pure maple syrup (the good stuff is preferred), and a good squeeze of sriracha pepper sauce for spice.
Salt and pepper, too. Always with those.
The tamari, maple, sriracha, and a dash of salt and pepper are stirred together in a small bowl. I also added a splash of olive oil because a little extra good fat never hurt anyone (probably not true, but still).
The almonds are roasted in the oven dry… just the almonds and the pan. This will help ensure that they’re crunchy and full of intense almond flavor when they come out of the oven the second time. Building layers of flavor like it’s our job.
Warm roasted almonds are stirred and covered in the sweet and spicy tamari sauce.
Double roasted, extra salty from tamari and sea salt, and extra spicy from sriracha and black pepper. Sweet, too… because I like a little sweet with my salt.
All of these flavorful nuts to cool before eating for maximum crunch and minimum mouth burns. These are things I learned the hard way.
Maple Tamari Roasted Almonds
- 1 pound raw almonds
- 3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sriracha sauce
- sea salt to taste
- fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Linea rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the almonds in an even layer across the sheet.
- Roast almonds for 12 to 15 minutes, or until browned and fragrant.
- While the almonds roast, in a small bowl whisk together tamari, maple syrup, olive oil, and sriracha.
- Remove the toasted almonds from the oven and pour the tamari mixture over the warm almonds. Toss until all of the almonds are lightly coated in tamari. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper and return to the oven to roast for another 12 to 15 minutes, tossing once during baking.
- Remove from the oven, sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper and allow to cool before serving.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
I have good news for us, friends! Two things. One: it’s Sunday. Two: life is not boring. Life is big and beautiful and staggering and hard and long and short and thank goodness for Sunday.
I hope this day finds you settled and just a little bit lazy. I’m off to Jazz Fest here in New Orleans. If you need me I’ll be in the Gospel Tent with a daiquiri.
Happy day to you.
I took some of the Internet and gathered it for you here:
• Wonderful people are made, not born. This is so great: The Moral Bucket List
• This is staggering. “In New York, almost 120,000 black men between the ages of 25 and 54 are missing from everyday life. In Chicago, 45,000 are, and more than 30,000 are missing in Philadelphia.” Read. 1.5 Missing Black Men
• Robert Durst and another cold case. Seriously?
• Is the first date too early for couples therapy? Answer: no.
• Belle Gibson lied about having brain cancer. Generally and universally speaking, totally not cool. But here’s why we’re part of the problem, too.
• A brief look inside the bizarre and sadistic Presidential Fitness Test. I remember being reeeaaallly proud that I passed this test with flying colors.
• How to design a roller coaster that will make you beg for mercy. I’d call uncle about 8 seconds in and that picture you captured of me in my moment of supreme terror… well that wasn’t very nice of you at all.
• I’m going on the I’m-Running-For-President Diet. Oh wait… NO I’M NOT. I confused myself with Jeb Bush which I’ll never ever do again.
• Give this a listen: Julia Turshen on The Design Observer.
• 2015’s list of the 150 Best Bars in America. Just in case.
• Inside the largest Buddhist settlement in the world. There is big beauty in the world.
• Provisions by Food52 has some really beautifully crafted kitchen and life items. I love this Blue Tart Plate and these perfect Biscuit Cutters.
Have the most wonderful Sunday!
It’s Summer Pie Practice Season. Isn’t that what you call Spring?
Beautiful strawberries are starting to hit the markets, and they’re a bit early for super sweetness, but not too early to start experimenting with pies and practicing our lattice technique!
I hope this coming weekend finds you in the kitchen baking away. Maybe throw some blueberries in this pie, or a handful of raspberries. It’s the perfect time to get our Summer frame of mind right. Also, doesn’t everyone want a pie in their house come Sunday night?
These strawberries are big, beautiful, and not quite sweet enough for pie. Not to worry… nothing a little brown sugar can’t fix right up.
For more in pie adventures, see: Gluten-Free Strawberry Ginger Pie or Peach and Blueberry Pie… though it’s a little soon for peaches. I suppose we just need to be more patient before we get all Summer-pie-happy.
Here’s the good news: strawberry pie is super simple to make. Sliced strawberries, sugars, cornstarch for thickening, a hint of ground ginger for balance, and lemon to bring out all the flavors!
Pie crust… well you know how I feel about pie crust. Make it! You’re a baking champion.
Just in case: Five Tips For The Best All-Butter Pie Crust From Scratch
All in the bowl. No time to be shy!
Toss the strawberries, sugars, and cornstarch until all of the cornstarch has absorbed and disappeared.
And it’s time to roll out the chilled dough! You’ll need a good amount of flour, some courage, and a great big rolling pin.
This beautiful wooden rolling pin is from Food52. It’s simple and sturdy and really just perfect.
Lattice work. 1-inch strips to weave across the top of the pie. It’s like pie magic. No biggie.
See all those butter chunks!? That’s no accident. That’s going to create the most flavorful and flakey crust!
How to make a lattice pie crust. Step one: hold your breath. Step two: cross your fingers. Step three: close your eyes tightly. Step four: hope for the best.
That’s how I bake. You too?
Before baking the pie is brushed lightly with egg wash and sprinkled generously with sugar.
Put the pie on a pan.
Do NOT put the pie on any pan. Just… definitely put the pie on a rimmed baking sheet. That’ll catch all of the drips.
Because this pie is for-real juicy. All over the place juicy. Delicious and perfect… and juicy.
After it’s baked and golden brown, I let the pie rest for a few hours at room temperature before slicing into it. The juices need to settle down, decide where they want to be, and thicken.
If you’re wondering what a slice looks like… well, a delicious mess, that’s what. This pie is packed full of lightly spiced strawberries, juicy beyond compare, and a very nice entrance to the warm days ahead.
Strawberry Lattice Pie
- 2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup cold buttermilk
- 5-6 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- large pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 large egg, beaten and granulated sugar for topping the unbaked pie
- To make the crust, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add cold, cubed butter and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture. Quickly break the butter down into the flour mixture. Some butter pieces will be the size of oat flakes; some will be the size of peas. Create a well in the mixture and pour in the cold buttermilk. Use a fork to bring the dough together. Try to moisten all of the flour bits. On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture. It will be moist and shaggy. That’s perfect. Divide the dough in two and gently knead into two disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator will help rechill the butter and distribute the moisture.
- To make the filling, in a medium bowl toss together strawberries, sugars, cornstarch, salt, lemon juice and ground ginger. Toss until all of the cornstarch has disappeared into the strawberries and let rest for 10 minutes. The strawberries will begin to produce juice.
- To assemble the pie, on a well-floured surface, roll the bottom crust 1/8″ thick and about 12″ in diameter. Transfer it to a pie pan. Trim the edge almost even with the edge of the pan.
- Spoon filling into piecrust.
- Roll out the top crust in the same manner. Use a pizza slicer to slice the dough into 1-inch wide strips and weave the crust strips on top of the pie. Use this guide to help you: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-a-lattice-pie-crust-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-191672
- To finish, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Brush the egg wash over pie crust, then sprinkle with sugar.
- Place pie on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake the pie for 30 minutes more, or until the crust is golden and the cherry filling is bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before serving.
It’s starting to look like I moved to New Orleans as an excuse to deep fry my California vegetables, make melty cheese dip, live off Red Beans and Rice, and plate after plate of fresh beignets. That’s to say nothing of the sazeracs and oysters.
Truth is, I moved to New Orleans for the suffocating humidity alone.
Not true at all. No one has ever ever done that.
We’ve entered into the 12 most beautiful days of the year here in New Orleans. After living here for one year, I’m talking like I know…
These are the 12 days when it’s perfectly warm with pleasantly bearable humidity, long pink sunsets, and almost cool evenings. It’s the perfection before the wrath of summer. It’s… well, it’s what California is like ALL THE TIME.
Let’s not talk about it anymore… let’s just fry these avocados.
Can I tell you a secret about free avocados?
If you’re in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans or Brooklyn you can place an order with the awesome people of Good Eggs and receive a free bag of avocados! Seems like the very best idea.
Photographs by the lovely Gabrielle Geiselman with styling (aka throwing food around) by me. Gabrielle is my friend, neighbor, and fellow avocado fiend.
Ripe avocados are sliced in half.
Pit them too. Do you know the trick? Here’s the best way to pit an avocado. It involves a big knife and a bit of gumption.
Lime, to keep avocados bright green and extra tasty.
Here’s what we’ll need to coat and batter the sliced avocados.
Eggs beaten with a bit of water for glue. Flour, combined with chili, spice, and salt. Panko breadcrumbs for an extra crisp fried coating. I mean… if we’re going to fry things they need to be crispy crunchy.
I lightly coat the avocado slices in seasoned flour, moisten them with a bit of egg wash, and then go in for the panko coating.
Nothing too heavy, but every bit of the avocado should be covered in either flour or panko. Take it easy… just fries!
A little flour here. A little panko there.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a ton of oil to fry. I used about 1-inch of oil in a medium, heavy-bottom pan. A candy/fry thermometer is key. We need to keep an eye on the temperature of the oil so that the fries to cook to slowly or quickly.
Good and golden brown!
To finish the fries: fresh lime spritzes, Maldon sea salt is lovely, and an extra sprinkling of chili powder. If you have beer on hand, even better. If you feel compelled to make an easy melty queso dip…. I mean… YES!
Avocado Fries with Queso Cheese Dip
- 2 medium ripe avocados
- juice of 1 lime
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- generous pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 1/4 cups panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- salt, lemon, cayenne pepper for sprinkling
- 3 cups extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 (4 ounce) can diced milk green chiles, juice reserved
- Halve, peel and slice the avocados into long spears, it’s okay if they vary in size. Place the avocados on a platter and drizzle with lime juice.
- In a small bowl beat eggs and together water. Set aside.
- In a separate small bowl whisk flour and salt, chili powder, and cayenne.
- In a medium bowl, measure out panko crumbs, salt and pepper. Combine.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, you can set your breaded slices right on the sheet
- Dip the avocado slices lightly in the flour mixture, in the egg mixture, and finally panko crumbs.
- Clip a fry thermometer onto a medium heavy bottomed saucepan and heat oil to 375 degrees F. Using tongs, lower 6-8 avocado slices into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown. Remove from oil and place on lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with a bit of salt.
- Bring the oil back up to 375 degrees before frying the next batch. Continue frying until all avocado slices are golden brown.
- Sprinkle all of the fried avocado with a dash of cayenne pepper and fresh lemon juice. Serve immediately with queso dip.
- To make the dip, place cheeses in a medium bowl, sprinkle with cornstarch, and toss to coat. Transfer cheese mixture to a medium saucepan over low heat and add milk.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is smooth and melted, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Stir chiles with reserved juices until well combined. Serve warm with avocado fries.