With Sweet Dreams and Even Sweeter Days

Monday, June 25, 2012

Blueberry Corn Bread

I've already made it clear that I'm a big snacker.

I've never done well with big meals and would prefer to have something small every few hours throughout the day than three big meals any day.

My snack cravings in life have always stemmed on the side of salty.

Pretzels, soft pretzels, chips, crackers over cookies or candy most days.

But when a snack can meet somewhere in the middle, and run the line of sweet and savory in good balance, that's when I know I've found something really great.

I've been dreaming of this blueberry corn bread since I saw the recipe floating around on the internet sometime last year.  And when fresh blueberries finally came into season again, I knew it was time to make it happen.

I baked mine up in miniature loaf pans because 1.) they're cute and 2.) it let me justify eating more than a few slices throughout the day (not that I wouldn't have found reason otherwise).  An 8x8 or 9x9 pan would do the trick equally as well.

Savory with a burst of sweet.  Perfect for any summertime snack.  Or meal if you're me.  Served warm with a big pat of butter.  Glorious.

I'm not sure if frozen blueberries would work if you'd like to try this out of season, but roll up your sleeves and try!  And be sure to let me know how it goes if you do.

But for now,

it honestly couldn't get any better.


Blueberry Corn Bread
Servings: 4 miniature loaf pans or 1 8x8 pan

- 2/3 cup flour
- 1 1/3 cup cornmeal
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease either an 8x8 square baking pan or 4 miniature loaf pans.
In a bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt; whisking lightly.
In another bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk and butter. Add to the dry ingredients and stir just until just combined. Gently stir in berries.  Pour into pan (or pans) and spread evenly with a spatula.  Dot with a few extra berries on top if desired.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out with very few crumbs attached.  Cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes.  Cut and serve warm, preferably with some butter. :)

Recipe adapted from: Sweet Pea's Kitchen

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Orange Cardamom Madeleines

Madeleine pans aren't the most universal or necessary baking tool one could have in their arsenal.

Therefore you won't be surprised to know that I actually own two.

How I rationalized to myself that having a regular madeleine pan as well as a nautical seashell madeleine pan was necessary to go on with my life is still a little beyond me.  It's possibly due to the fact that I'm a marketers dream and a nautical seashell madeleine pan just seemed so different and necessary at the time.

As long as I haven't cracked and bought the miniature pan yet, I figure I'm still safe.

It's true I don't whip these particular pans out as much as I do my standby-s such as baking sheets, silipat mats, and kitchen scales.  But sometimes a light and airy cookie, one that doesn't leave me feeling as though getting off the couch is far too big a feat for the afternoon, is just the thing I'm craving.

And for that, in my opinion, the madeleine cookie can't be beat.

One positive about madelines is that there are so many variations of them on the market.  Therefore if you do decide to invest in a pan, you'll have almost limitless options for flavor combinations to try.

This particular variation pairs a citrus orange punch with the subtle deep flavors of cardamom.

Never used cardamom before?

The best way I can describe it is as spicy, yet sweet, with a super distinct flavor that tends (at least in my mind) on the side of earthy.  I personally have loved cardamom since I tried it a few years ago in an apple cinnamon coffee cake.  It gave it a little something extra, a little uumph.

Cardamom is one of those spices that you won't necessarily use everyday, but is great to keep around if you find yourself in the kitchen once in awhile.

So if you find yourself with a craving for a cookie that screams summer, and maybe is a little bit different, look no farther.  More cake-y than dense, citrus-y, and fun.  And pretty.  

And if you do happen to run into me when I have a miniature madeleine pan in my cart, probably best to let it run its course.

What's meant to be will be.


Orange Cardamom Madeleines
Servings: 14-16 

For Batter:
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp honey (of any variation)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs

For Glaze:
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- finely grated zest of 1/2 orange
- 2 Tbsp fresh orange juice, strained

To make batter, melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat.  Take off heat and stir in honey and vanilla, allowing to cool at least 10 minutes.  Whisk together all dry ingredients flour to salt in a bowl.  In a separate bowl stir together sugar and eggs until well combined.  Fold flour mixture into egg mixture until no streaks remain.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Butter the molds of a madeleine pan, making sure to get into all the crevices. (I used baking spray and it worked just fine for me.)  

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Spoon batter into prepared pan, filling each mold halfway up.  If you have extra batter don't be tempted to overfill.  Keep for a second batch.

Tap pan on work surface to release any bubbles.  If any bubbles rise to the top of batter, break gently with a knife.  Bake until cookies are puffed and edges are lightly brown, approximately 7-9 minutes.  Transfer pan to wire rack, cool slightly.  Remove cookies and cool completely.

Continue until all batter has been used.

To make glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, orange zest, and juice until well combined and smooth.  Dip the tops of each cookie once (or twice - we know I went with twice) and set on wire rack to set.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart's Cookies

Friday, June 8, 2012

Cookie Dough Egg Rolls

I've made it no secret that over the past few years, food photography has become a hobby of mine.  I'm certainly not at my end goal with it, but looking back through my old posts and photos and seeing how far I've come is certainly something that gives me drive to keep going and improving.

There are most certainly times though, when being able to photograph food in a structured and controlled way just isn't an option.  Often times styling the food comes second to enjoying it as soon as possible with friends..... and truthfully the nice camera is nowhere to be found anyway.

It's in those situations that my iPhone becomes the back-up, and most recently Instagram has become a pretty prominent player too.

Usually these photos and food recipes don't make it onto the blog from the sheer facts that I don't take enough photos, I plan on re-making the recipe in my real kitchen at a later time, or I'm just too busy enjoying myself to snap a great shot to begin with.

Long before the blog ever got started, however, I would simply post a photo of what I made on Facebook with my iPhone and that was that.  That was the pre-maryquitecontrarybakes for a very long time.

And looking through some of the photos, sure they weren't great.... but they also weren't completely terrible.  It was about the fun of whipping something up and passing it out (still truthfully one of my favorite parts).

Also shout out to one of my most lovely friends, Jimmy, for being one of the people to give me the umph to start this in the first place and for having foresight that people might actually enjoy it.

Anyway, while going through some of my old food photos and reminiscing on a particularly mind blowing/waistline increasing recipe I made with my friends on one of those nights in a tiny apartment kitchen down near Temple University when my nice camera wasn't in tow, I knew it was time to break my own rule.

(I also knew that I couldn't justify re-making this when it was only me to eat them... but that's besides the point.)

My friends and I have a pretty intense relationship with cookie dough.  Even though I'm the first to admit that it's not my ultimate choice, it's become standard fare to send each other every single cookie dough recipe we stumble upon.

When I sent my friend Liz the link to cookie dough egg rolls, that was the breaking point.  The date was set, the invitations were sent out, it was happening.

A homemade egg-free cookie dough is wrapped in store bought egg-roll wrappers, resulting at least for us in varying shapes and sizes.

They're then flash fried, covered in caramel and hot fudge and served alongside of a big scoop of ice cream.

Our choice being cookie dough ice cream obviously.

These are absolutely to.die.for.  


Don't be afraid of the oil.  Once in awhile it's definitely acceptable.  And when with friends even more so.

Even though I'll keep the majority of my posts with regular photos, I won't deny it was a nice change to just relax, enjoy these with my friends, and shift the focus to keeping it simple and keeping it fun.

It is summer.


Cookie Dough Egg Rolls
Servings: 8-10

** As opposed to a printable this time around I will link you to the source that we found these on, Pennies on a Platter, because I didn't get to shoot a step-by-step of how to roll the egg rolls in the wrappers and didn't get a visual reference to the depth of oil for flash frying.  We found these both particularly helpful in adding to the ease of the recipe.

My added notes on the recipe would be

1.) No mixer is a necessary, a bowl and a spoon will suit you fine to mix this up.
2.)Less is more when filling the egg rolls.  These babies are rich and we had a consensus that we'd prefer to eat a few small ones than one large one, but test it out and see what works best for you.  
3.) Your oil is ready when a droplet of water sizzles in it.  A droplet is all that's needed.  
4.) Make sure to watch the temperature of your oil, too low the egg roll may get soggy, too hot they will get dark fast.  Just keep an eye on it and you should be ok.
5.) Please be careful, it is hot oil.
6.) The ice cream is a must, it cuts the richness immensely.
7.) The original recipe lists vanilla ice cream, for us it was cookie dough ice cream or bust.
8.) There is no way to attack these other than with your hands.  It will be messy.  It will be worth it.

Recipe adapted from: Pennies on a Platter

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Dulce de Leche Cupcakes

Apparently every year around this time I feel the need to put myself on a little hiatus for a week or two.  It's never planned, but somehow or another it always sneaks up on me and I find myself taking a step back, a deep breath, and just giving myself a chance to recharge.

This time last year after I returned home from a trip to London and Paris, and started two summer classes the next day, I took a week or so and stepped away from the blog, coming back with renewed vigor and ready to begin again.

This year after returning home from a trip to London and Dublin, starting one summer class (but to be fair one that is so much harder than both of last year's combined) and not feeling too hot from one of my flights, I knew another week of just taking a step away was just what I needed.

And here I am back again, refreshed and ready to spend my summer shoving baked goods under your noses without any end in sight.

The night before I left I decided to whip up some Dulce de Leche cupcakes on a whim.

And let me tell you, these were so good I was legitimately considering seeing if I could bring a few in my carry on.

A brown sugar cupcake, topped with a cream cheese dulce de leche icing, and drizzled with even more homemade dulce de leche on top.

Do I really have to strain and come up with adjectives here that won't do these justice?  Or can you just take a look above and also take my word for it.  Sometimes wonderful, fantastic, and fabulous just sound a little dry and dull.  And these are anything but dry and dull.

I snapped these shots as the sun was fading and they still look completely drool-worthy so that in itself should be a sign of how amazing they are.

I will probably hold back on the icing just a little bit the next time I whip them up, as it's pretty rich and goes a long way, but test around and see what the perfect amount is for you.

The important thing is that you make these.

And soon.

And I promise my hiatus for the year is over and you're stuck with me.



Dulce de Leche Cupcakes
Servings: 1 dozen

For the Cupcakes:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/8 cup cornstarch
- 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup buttermilk

For the Frosting:
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- slightly less than 1/2 cup dulce de leche
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1-2 cups powdered sugar (I erred on the side of 2)

More dulce de leche for drizzling

(If you can find store-bought dulce de leche feel free to use it in this recipe.  It can be found in the international aisle of many well stocked supermarkets.  I have made homemade with much success more than once.  A link to a great homemade recipe to start is right here.)

To make cupcakes:
Preheat to 350 degrees F.  Line a cupcake pan with liners. 

In a bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt  Whisk to combine.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars until fluffy and pale.  Approximately 3 minutes.  Add one egg and beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the remaining egg, beating until combined.  Beat in vanilla extract.

Add half of the flour mixture to the egg and butter mixture.  Beat on low speed and slowly drizzle in the buttermilk.  Beat until just incorporated.  Stop the mixer, scrape down the bowl and add the rest of the dry ingredients, beating on low until combined. Try not to over mix.

Fill each cupcake well 2/3 of the way full, tapping the pan to remove any air bubbles.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean.  

Cool in pan for approximately 10 minutes.  Let cool completely on wire racks before proceeding.

To make frosting:
Place cream cheese in the bowl of a clean electric stand mixer.  Beat on medium speed until soft.  Scrape down sides of the bowl and add the butter and dulce de leche.  Beat on medium speed until well combined.  Add the salt and powdered sugar.  Beat on medium speed until fluffy and lighter in color.  

Spoon frosting onto cupcakes or pipe with a piping bag.

Top with extra dulce de leche drizzled on top.

Recipe adapted from: Joy the Baker