Recipes so good it oughta' be a sin!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Sugar Donut Muffins

IMG_3851 I was looking around for something to bake this afternoon while Michael was teaching his music students. Cakes came to mind but, honestly, I wasn’t up to doing a cake today. The past week or so with back pain has left me still feeling drained. (Note: diagnosis is several compressed disks.)
I thought about Beignets but would have to wait for the dough to rise and chill before I could do it. I could also tell by the time I did that the mood would have passed and I’d just want to lie down and rest. So, what to do?
A few days ago I ran across a recipe thanks to Stumbleupon for a donut inspired muffin. It seemed pretty easy and quick so thought I’d try it out.
The end result was very good. It has a very light taste and texture and when combined with a sugared topping takes similar to a cake donut. The perfect treat on a cool day.
I can see this base recipe lending itself to some other experimentation and maybe even combining it with a sugar glaze like on Krispy-Kreme donuts.
The only real tweaks I made to this recipe was utilizing 1/2 cup of Almond milk with 1/4 cup of cream instead of the milk called for in the recipe. I also added cinnamon to the sugar mixture for the topping because, well… I love cinnamon sugar!
I think you’ll enjoy this one. It’s easy and quick so makes a great compliment to morning or evening coffee.
Sugar Donut Muffins
Recipe from Nicole at
Baking Bites
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking power
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk (low fat is fine)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 Tblsp. Cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a muffin tin with cooking spray or vegetable oil.
In a large bowl, beat together sugar and egg until light in color.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Pour into egg mixture and stir to combine. Pour in vegetable oil, milk and vanilla extract.
Divide batter evenly into muffin cups or tins, filling each about 3/4 full.
Bake for 15-18 minutes for standard-sized muffins or 11-12 minutes for mini-muffins, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. (Note: I used my jumbo muffin tins and found I had enough batter for about 5 total.)
While muffins are baking, melt butter and pour remaining sugar into a small bowl.
When muffins are done, lightly brush the top of each with some melted butter, remove from the pan and roll in sugar. Cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Corn Muffins

IMG_3839 Since I haven’t made any cornbread lately, I decided this afternoon to do some corn muffins using a recipe from Colonial Williamsburg. These are excellent muffins with just a bit of sweetness.

Of course, I measured out all the ingredients and sifted my dry ingredients in the mixing bowl. When I reached for the eggs there were none to be found. Undoubtedly, Michael had used the last but hadn’t replaced them. So, there I was with a mixing bowl of ingredients all ready to go. Luckily, he stopped by the store on the way home from work for some other things and got some eggs too. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like baking again until later. (Note: back pain is one of the worst and most annoying pains I’ve ever had!)

Finally, about 9:00 I decided to get up from my comfy chair and get the muffins ready to go. This recipe is included in the Recipes from the Raleigh Tavern Bakery cookbook published by Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. Of course, it also includes an original 18th Century version of the “Indian Slapjack” as well. I'll also include it since I think you’ll get a chuckle out of the quantities and how its was prepared:

Indian Slapjacks

One quart of milk, one pint of Indian Meal , 4 eggs, 4 spoons of flour, little salt beat together, baked on griddles or fry in a dry pan, or baked in a pan that has been rubbed with a little suet, lard, or butter.

Now, here’s a more modern version (BTW: Notice that sugar is missing in that original. That is important considering that it is a form of cornbread and true Southern cornbread is still made without sugar.)

Indian Corn Muffins
(Recipes from the Raleigh Tavern Bakery)

1 cup cornmeal (recipe calls for white but I use yellow)
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Salt
3 tsp. Baking Powder
2 tbls. Sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk (may substitute buttermilk)
3 tbls. butter, melted


Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Grease muffin tins. Sift cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar together. Combine eggs, milk, and butter and add to dry ingredients. Mix until just blended. Be sure not to over mix. Spoon into muffin tins to the top of each cup. Bake for 20 minutes or until done.

Corn Muffins on Foodista

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Chocolate Marble Cheesecake

IMG_3832 As promised, I decided to try my hand at the Chocolate Marble Cheesecake featured on the Food Network site. The recipe submitter there is Gale Gand and the end result tastes great. It’s creamy and slightly tart thanks to the sour cream.

I decided to follow the recipe to a T instead of doing an adaptation which is what I’d normally do because (gasp!) I’ve never done a cheesecake before. In fact, it was only a couple years ago that I actually began to eat cheesecake. It had never particularly looked or sounded appealing to me. Then on a lark I tried a piece in a restaurant (it happened to be a marble cheesecake) and really liked it.

So, for the Wondertwins Horror Fest on Saturday I decide to make this Chocolate Marble Cheesecake. I only had one problem with it and that was it cracked a bit on one side. I think the oven temperature called for in the recipe might be a little high. I think dropping that temperature to 375° might work a bit better, so keep that in mind as I’m reproducing the recipe verbatim.

For a topping (and to slightly disguise the cracked area) I used a chocolate whipped cream. Made with a bit of unsweetened cocoa powder, heavy whipping cream, and powdered sugar.

While the aesthetics of my first cheesecake try were less than spectacular the taste was a hit! In fact, we only had two slices left!

So, here we go, my very first cheesecake!

For the crust:

4 ounces chocolate cookie crumbs (I chose Oreos)
2 tablespoons melted butter

For the filling:

2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 yolks
5 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sour cream, plus 1/4 cup
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled


Preheat oven to 450°F. Grease a 10-inch spring form pan.


If needed, use a rolling pin with the cookie crumbs in a sealable plastic bag to crush them. Blend the cookie crumbs with the melted butter, press it into the bottom of the pan, and chill.

In a mixer with a whisk attachment, place the softened cream cheese and whip it. Add the sugar and continue to mix until blended. Add the flour and salt and blend. Add the yolks and eggs gradually, scraping in between then add the vanilla. Add 3/4 cup of the sour cream and mix in. Take off 2 cups of the mixture and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 1/4 cup sour cream with the cooled melted chocolate then whisk it into the reserved 2 cups of filling. Pour a layer of the vanilla filling into the bottom of the pan about 1-inch thick. By large spoonfuls, alternate the 2 fillings to fill the spring form pan. Using the flat face of an icing spatula, swirl the 2 batters slightly to marbleize it.

Bake at 450°F for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 250°F and bake for 1 more hour. Then, turn the oven off and let it cool in the oven 1 hour. The cake will still shimmy, but it is done, it will set up as it chills. Refrigerate the cake overnight. Remove from the spring form pan, slice with a hot, dry knife, and serve.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Recipe Roundup #1

sugarpies_roundup Coming up on Friday will be a Chocolate Marble Cheesecake I’m making for the “Wondertwins Horror Fest” on Saturday. The WHF is an annual horror movie marathon that Sandy and I started last year the week before Halloween. We love horror movies and get together for an entire day of classic horror on DVD. This year we’ll be having a couple other friends over for the day so it will be loads of fun!

In the meantime, let’s do a little link love and look at some recipes that I’ve run across recently that I think are fabulous.

Over at Annie’s Eats, I came across a Reese’s Cup Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake that took my breath away! Not only is this thing gorgeous but it sounds absolutely beyond belief. I can’t wait to try this cake in the future. This one features a peanut butter icing (I’m weak in the knees right there) as well as mini Reese’s Cups for decoration. Yum!

Want to impress your friends and family? Try this beautiful Chocolate and Caramel Tart from Lottie + Doof. Completely sinful with a chocolate dough bottom, a caramel filling made with crème frâiche and a chocolate ganache topping. Beautiful presentation and you must visit this link for the photos of this dessert alone!

I’ve never been one to bake breads. Somehow the process of kneading dough, beating it down, and hoping it doesn’t end up like a brick was just too daunting. However, I have made Sally Lunn Bread, which is more like a cake than a bread. In a similar vein over at Sleeping Kitten-Dancing Dog is Theresa’s “Doughs Brioche” which is a similarly light and sweeter bread. This looks fairly easy to do and is a beautiful end product. BTW: Did you know that it is thought Marie Antoinette never said “Let them eat cake!” when told the people had no bread, but really said “Let them eat Brioche!”

It’s been a touch cooler here in the desert the past couple days and being from “back East” that puts me in mind of fairs and fair food. Over at Cooking with Annie, Annie brings us a recipe for homemade Funnel Cakes. If you’ve never had Funnel Cakes you are either a terrible snob or have been criminally deprived of sinful junk food! Funnel Cakes are fried dough poured out in thin streams to create a latticework treat. They can be topped with powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, apples, strawberries or just about anything. Easy, fun, and delicious!

Punitions… that’s French for punishments. I can’t imagine such delightful little cookies would be punishment though! The basic recipe for these gorgeous little French cookies is very similar to a shortbread, but the end result (being French) is not only pretty but delicate. I can imagine these with a touch of lemon or orange. Over at Smitten Kitchen, there is a lovely recipe for Punitions and a suggestion to try them as a sandwich cookie with a filling. Trés bon!

Let’s end the roundup with some lovely Caramel Truffles from Flagrante Delicía. The recipe is really quite simple and they are beautiful. I can certainly see making tins of these for Christmas presents this year!

Eat well, laugh often and love joyfully! Bon appétit!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dark Chocolate Coconut Cookies

IMG_3822 Obviously I overbought when I got coconut a couple weeks ago. I’d envisioned coconut macaroons and coconut cake. The macaroons didn’t get done but the coconut cake did. Still, I have way too much coconut in the pantry.

This afternoon I was trying to think of something to use up the coconut. I also had some premium 90% cocoa dark chocolate that I knew we weren’t just going to snack on. So, I decided to try combining my coconut with my chocolate.

What resulted is a Dark Chocolate Chip Coconut cookie. If you’ve ever had the coconut cookies that are in the snack aisle at the grocery store you have an idea of the base taste of these. Then I added the dark chocolate that I’d broken into chips and voila! A tasty cookie treat!

These are delightfully chewy with a rich coconut flavor. The dark chocolate provides a surprising bite of bitter chocolate flavor that nicely compliments the sweet coconut taste. If you aren’t a fan of dark chocolate you might try some bittersweet baker’s chocolate or even milk chocolate chips.

I considered drizzling these with melted dark chocolate for a better presentation but was afraid it might be too chocolaty. If you use a less powerful chocolate a drizzle would be a great visual presentation as well as tasty.

So, here we go: Dark Chocolate Coconut Cookies


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
4 oz. Dark Chocolate (75% to 90% cocoa)


Preheat oven to 350°F. If using bar chocolate, crush into chips by breaking with hands then placing in bad and crushing with a mallet. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in separate bowl.  In a medium mixing bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar together. Beat in the egg and vanilla until fluffy. Gradually blend in the flour mixture, then mix in the coconut. Fold in the crushed dark chocolate chips. Drop dough by tablespoons (or about 1 1/2 inch balls) onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Allow room for cookies to spread (about 2 to 3 inches). Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden in color. Cool on wire racks.

Coconut-Oatmeal Cookies on Foodista

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Honey Pecan Chicken

IMG_3819 No, this isn’t a dessert or sweet. But, I thought I’d share this great entree anyway. I was casting around the kitchen last night trying to think of something a little different to do with Michael’s usual chicken. I had a bunch of pecans in the pantry because I’d planned to do Russian Tea Cakes but hadn’t gotten around to them. So, I began to think about doing a pecan encrusted chicken breast.

I looked around for some ideas for recipes and finally cobbled together based on one I found at I toyed with a bit to add my own spin. Hope you enjoy it!


2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup ground pecans
handful of crushed tortilla chips
1 large egg
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground tellicherry pepper (or black pepper)


Marinate chicken in salt water in refrigerator for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from refrigerator and pat dry.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grind pecans and tortilla chips into a meal. Beat cream with honey, then add beaten egg, salt and fresh ground pepper. Put egg wash in one shallow bowl, and pecan/tortilla meal in another. Dip each chicken breast in the egg wash, then into the pecan meal and pat the meal into the breast to form a crust. Place the breasts in a shallow baking pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray, and bake for 35 minutes at 375F, or until the breasts are done.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chocolate Marble Cake


This has been a busy few days! On Saturday, Tucson held its annual Pride celebration in Reid Park. Of course, I worked the Marriage Equality USA booth for the event. It was a long and tiring day but we had loads of fun and got to share information on the fight for equal marriage and civil rights with hundreds of people. I also had a chance to spend the afternoon with some of the folks from the movie and TV series “Sordid Lives.” Del Shores and Rosemary and Newell Alexander were our guests at the MEUSA booth.

If you haven’t had a chance to see “Sordid Lives” rent it today. It’s a hilarious look at a fictional white trash family in Texas. The Alexanders and Del are some the nicest people you’d ever want to meet and Del kept us in stitches all afternoon with his stories and quips.

3996437595_124bcbea14 Of course, that left me with little time for blogging or baking this weekend as I spent the day on Sunday recovering and resting! In fact, I’d almost forgot that Sunday was National Coming Out Day. On this day each year people are encouraged to come out to family and friends and have conversations about what it means to be a LGBT American and the challenges we face because of religious and social bigotry. So, in case you were wondering: Yes, I am gay. If you’d like to read more about the challenges we face as couples, please take a look at the article on me and Michael that appeared in the Tucson Weekly last week. As luck would have it, late on National Coming Out Day I came across the perfect cupcake… a rainbow lemon drop cupcake! It’s a gorgeous treat and certainly one that I’ll be making next year for both Pride and NCOD!

Finally, yesterday afternoon, I roused myself from my lethargy and decided to do a bit of baking. I wanted something a little different so I decided to adapt an absolutely delicious Kentucky Butter Cake recipe by Annie at Half Hour Meals. Since I still had some milk chocolate chips I thought I’d try adapting it as a Chocolate Marble Cake.

The results were mixed. The cake is delicious. In fact, Michael declared it the best cake I’ve ever done. However, it did not rise as fully as I’d hoped. There could be a couple reasons for that. The chocolate might have been a bit heavy and instead of folding it into the batter I might have done better to whisk it giving it more air. I also stopped in the midst of assembling the batter to answer a phone call from my pharmacy and could well have mismeasured the soda or baking powder. However, despite all that, the more dense texture actually seemed to make the cake better!

IMG_3816 I considered using a ganache or chocolate frosting, but in the end decided against it. I’m glad I did as it really needed nothing extra. The chocolate and vanilla flavors balance wonderfully and a frosting would have overpowered the interplay of tastes. If you want to use some sort of icing, I’d suggest simply drizzling with some caramel or a very lightly flavored vanilla glaze. Honestly, though, it isn’t necessary.

This is a wonderful cake with coffee for brunch or breakfast or for a dessert. I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know how it turns out for you.


1 cup butter
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup Milk Chocolate Chips


Cream butter gradually adding sugar. Blend in eggs, one at a time. Combine flour, salt, baking powder and soda. Combine buttermilk with vanilla. Add milk and flour mixtures alternately to creamed mixture, ending with dry mixture. Mix well. Separate batter placing 1/3 into separate bowl. Melt 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips in microwave or over double broiler. Allow to cool slightly and fold into 1/3 of batter.  Grease a 10-inch tube or Bundt pan. Place a layer of plain batter in pan then add the chocolate batter and top with remainder of plain batter. Bake at 325° for 60 to 65 minutes. Allow to cool just slightly in pan then turn onto wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mango-Orange Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Coconut Rum Ganache

OK, there's got to be a better name for this, but I wanted to be fancy and make sure I kept that "ganache" in there!

Ganache, doesn't that sound decadent? Mama would have rolled her eyes expecting some complicated French thing with all sorts of arcane directions. "Too fancy!" I can hear her say.

Actually, ganache is very simple. It's just chocolate and cream and perhaps a bit of flavoring (in my case a bit of coconut rum). Super simple to make but it will impress people who aren't privy to our little baking secrets.

So, here's the Mango-Orange Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Coconut Rum Ganache. Or, maybe MOCMICH CRUG? I don't know. Leave some suggestions in the comments!


2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup Simply Mango Orange Juice (or 1/2 cup OJ & 1/2 cup mango juice)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 large eggs


Preheat oven to 350° F. Mix together dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Add shortening, juice, and vanilla and beat for about 1 minute on medium speed. Add eggs and beat for another minute. Scrape down bowl and beat on high speed for 1 1/2 minutes until blended nicely and batter is smooth. (This batter is fairly wet and makes very moist cupcakes.)

Line muffin pan with paper cups and spoon batter into each cup until about 3/4 full. Bake for 20-24 minutes or until toothpick or cake tester inserted in center comes out smooth.

Cool for 5 minutes in pan then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Milk Chocolate Coconut Rum Ganache

9 ounces Milk Chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbls. Coconut flavored rum
Toasted flaked coconut for garnish

Using a small saucepan, heat cream over medium heat until just boiling. Watch closely, as cream will boil over quickly and scorch!

Pour cream over milk chocolate chips in small bowl. Allow milk to begin to melt chocolate for a moment then whisk mixture until smooth. Stir in coconut rum.

Allow ganache to cool just slightly in bowl. Dip each of the cupcakes into the ganache covering the top of the cupcake but being careful not to dip the paper liner or sides into the chocolate ganache. Sprinkle top of cupcake with a bit of flaked toasted coconut. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Orange Ooze Cupcakes on Foodista

Saturday, October 3, 2009


I'd like to introduce a new guest blogger here at Sugar Pies. My dear friend and "wondertwin" Sandra Senecal has kindly agreed to post some of her favorite recipes from time to time. I'm sure you'll love her great recipes. To kick things off she's decided to post her recipe for Sopapillas.

Sopapillas are a fried dough Mexican dish that remind me of beignets. Unfortunately, it's hard to get real sopapillas in many Mexican restaurants back east as they prefer to use a flour tortilla with some honey and cinnamon-sugar spread on it. A REAL Sopapilla involves a light fluffy dough!

So, let's welcome Sandy!

Fresh ingredients are the key. I buy all new ones for this because here in Arizona baking powder, soda and flour really lose their "oomph" quickly.


4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons shortening
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 quarts oil for frying


1. In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt and shortening. Stir in water; mix until dough is smooth. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes.
2. Roll out on floured board until 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 3 inch squares. Heat oil in deep-fryer to 375° F (190° C). Fry until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.
3. When fresh and hot out of the fryer toss in a paper bag with granulated or powdered sugar.

Makes about 2 dozen.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Malibu® Rum Coconut Cake

A few years ago one of our nephews and his wife became frequent travelers to the Caribbean on cruises. In fact, they even got married while on a cruise. For Christmas one year they brought me and Michael wonderful rum cakes from Tortuga. One of them was a banana flavor and was scrumptious. I became hooked on Caribbean rum cakes.

A few weeks ago as I was sitting outside I thought about combining the rum cake with coconut instead of banana. Then my mind went immediately to my favorite rum, Malibu Coconut Rum!

For the past couple weeks I've been toying with the idea of a recipe for a Malibu® Coconut Rum Cake. Last night, all the stars were aligned and I was feeling a bit better (I've been having back trouble the past few days) so decided to make it.

The results were great. It's a lovely moist cake with a great coconut flavor both in the cake and the frosting. The rum and the addition of Sour Cream give it a little tartness and some orange extract adds an extra citrus note.

I think you'll enjoy this one. Consider it Summer's last gasp or a preview of a great holiday cake.


1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange extract
1/2 cup Malibu® Coconut Rum
1/4 cup sour cream
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream


Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla, beating until blended. Add orange extract, beating until blended. Gradually add rum and sour cream, beating until blended.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add alternately with whipping cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat batter until blended after each addition. Pour batter into a greased and floured 10-inch Bundt pan.

Bake at 350° for 55 to 60 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

Cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely on wire rack. Ice with Coconut Rum Icing.

Coconut Rum Icing


1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
4 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
1 tsp. Malibu® Rum
1/4 cup flaked coconut


Melt together butter and milk over low heat in small sauce pan. When melted stir in Rum and sugar. Whip with wire whisk until thick enough to pour over cake. If necessary add more sugar or hot water to adjust thickness of icing. Stir in flaked coconut.

Place cake on wire rack over cookie sheet (line with foil or wax paper to speed cleanup) and pour icing over cake. Use an offset spatula to smooth icing if necessary to cover cake. Sprinkle with a little flaked coconut for garnish.

Pineapple Coconut Rum Cake on Foodista

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