Desserts with Fruit Fancy Pantsy Frozen Desserts Grown Up People Desserts No-Bake Recipes Strange and Yummy

May Contain Whiskey. Can I See Some ID?

There’s whiskey in this post, not in me. Okay, there’s whiskey in me too, but to be fair, I’m Indian. Johnnie Walker runs through my veins. It’s science. Doctors are mystified.

My friend and compadre, Mr. J. Walker.

So if we were to put today’s post to a soundtrack, this would probably be the first song on the playlist. I am, and have been for quite some time, enamored with this immensely talented bluegrass band. And even though the lead singer of the Punch Brothers thwacked me in the knee with his bleedin’ mandolin case, I am inviting you all to blast this fun tune whilst making and enjoying the following frozen concoction.

Yes, yes, I am continuing the frozen treat theme. I did warn you all ahead of time in my last post. Since that entry, though, New York City has endured a record-breaking heat wave that would make these popsicles seem, to me, to be a necessity. The whole world is a giant pizza oven right now, it is too sticky to enjoy a proper happy hour, and I need peaches in my life. Enter Peaches and Cream Whiskey Poptails. Exit problem.

So, obviously I needed company for these popsicles. After all, who eats poptails alone (I do!)? Share the wealth, I say. I crashed the twins’ bachelor pad and we went to work. Now, I know the original recipe calls for bourbon, but bourbon’s quite pricey, and since we would only be using a small amount of the liquor (alcohol doesn’t freeze well in large amounts), Jeff and I made the executive decision to purchase a travel-size bottle of scotch whiskey. Actually, we purchased three and now each of the boys has a special souvenir from our adventure.

Here’s what we used:

Peaches and Cream Whiskey Poptails

1 cup of canned crushed peaches (in syrup), drained

2 cups of nonfat plain yogurt

1 tablespoon of honey

1/4 cup of whiskey (just about the contents of one 50 ml bottle, so if you’re taking a trip soon be extra nice to your flight attendant and perhaps you’ll score a free one for this project)

You’re also going to need some mini paper cups and popsicle sticks for this. We purchased Dixie Dinosaur cups because…well, why not? They’re DINOSAURS! Really, though, you won’t want to make these in traditional popsicle molds because they’ll be huge and extra potent. The miniature portion provided by the tiny cup molds will be more than enough to keep you happy without turning you into a sloppy, inebriated mess. Trust.

To start, mash the peaches in a medium-sized bowl until fully crushed. Mix in the yogurt, honey and whiskey. Divide the mixture evenly among the cups. You should end up with about ten. Throw these into the freezer for about an hour, then take them out, stick a popsicle stick in each one, and send them right back in to freeze completely, about 3 to 4 hours. When they’re done, peel off the paper cups and enjoy!

(For my homies who couldn't be here)

Now, there’s an added bonus to making these pops: the cost. Altogether, we spent about 6 bucks to make ten pops. That includes the Dixie cups and cookie sticks (We couldn’t find popsicle sticks. But why are cookie sticks easier to find than popsicle sticks? And what are cookie sticks?).  That’s 60 cents a pop! $2.00 a person! And that’s me showing off my math skills, by the way. Anyway, these were powerful little suckers (haha…suckers…because they’re popsicles…haha), and also pretty refreshing. I highly recommend them for a lazy day of [responsible] imbibing.

Before I leave you all to bask in the glory of a super cheap, very delicious homemade happy hour, I have good news to share: I’ll be officiating two weddings this Saturday, July 30th as part of the Pop Up Chapel! The Pop Up Chapel is celebrating marriage equality by marrying 24 same-sex couples at Merchant’s Gate in Central Park for free. Fantastic, right? I’m excited and honored to be participating in it, and hope some of you can join the festivities to watch and cheer on the lovely couples.

So, why’d I decide to do it? Well, my first answer to that question, no matter what it’s in reference to, is always “why not?” The general answer is, “Dude, we all pay the same taxes. Come on, now. It’s a no-brainer.” The more specific answer is that my very best friend is gay and it used to confound me that she didn’t have the same rights that I did. I’m fortunate enough to have a best friend whom I’ve known for most of my life and who’s seen Super Duper Sad Shibow more times than I’d care to admit. She’s stuck by me anyway. (She’s also seen Very Adventurous Shibow, since we have an annual Risk/Death Wish Day that I’ll get into in a future post). If anyone deserves even the option of this institution, it is her. I won’t go into that much more detail about this, and I’m not even sure she knows that that’s why I’m doing this, but yeah…there it is. Well, this entry got heavy pretty quickly, huh? Maybe the soundtrack to this part of the post should be the tiniest violin in the world.

Chocolate Cheer Fancy Pantsy

Spring is in the Air. And I Don’t Care.

So, the sun is out, birds are chirping, my eyes, nose and lips are swollen (I look like Indian Shrek). All signs point to spring. Yay?

Nay. Nay? Yes, nay. I am sad. You know how you lose something really special to you, and then you get a chance to get it back, and all of the signals and people and stars and things are pointing directly at you getting this thing back, and you start to feel optimistic due to your new-found good fortune…and then it just disappears? That’s what’s just happened to me, so I am sad.  And maybe you think you know what I’m talking about. But I could be talking about a necklace. Or a sandwich. I get really attached to sandwiches sometimes.

I’ve been slowing down a bit on the blog, which is semi-intentional. I’ve been out and about quite a bit lately, trying to distract myself from…myself. In fact, just the other night I attended an exhibition at The Met called Guitar Heroes, about the history of the stringed instrument. Yes, that was me trying to prove I am fancy and cultured. Glen Hansard happened to be there as well, and he happened to be performing at the Temple of Dendur, and I happened to be directly in front of the stage and completely transfixed. There also happened to be free wine and beer at the reception. This was all coincidence. I am so fancy and cultured.

Fancy meeting you here, Glen.

To be honest, that show cheered me up enough to woman up and get writing again. It also helps that the following baked good was made with the assistance of my beautiful, wonderful, hilarious, awesome cousin Rhea (hi Rhea!). She is an incredibly accomplished baker, and would probably own me in a bake-off, which is why I have chosen to make her an ally instead of an opponent. She really is all of those very good things, though. Here’s proof:

Rhea and I. (We really love our chocolate)

See? She puts up with my silliness. Sometimes she even joins in! Since we both obviously love all things rich in chocolate, we settled on a flourless chocolate cake. I’d just like to mention that while she and I were slaving away on this, her brother and my sister were on their iPhones or iButts or whatever playing some Scrabble-like game. Anyway, this was super easy to make. Here’s what you’ll need, according to Martha Stewart, Sad Shibow and Rhea:

Flourless Chocolate Cake

6 tablespoons of butter, softened

8 ounces of semisweet chocolate, chopped, or 8 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips if you’re lazy (I kind of am)

6 large eggs, separated

1/2 cup of granulated white sugar

Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting, because we’re fancy

Grease a 9-inch springform pan and preheat your oven to 275°F. In a large bowl, combine the chocolate and butter, and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each nuke. When fully melted, whisk in yolks.

Looks appetizing, no?

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks begin to form. Add in the sugar gradually until the whites look shiny and stiff. Add the whites a little at a time to the chocolate mixture, then stir it all together until fully combined. Be careful not to over-mix, as the cake won’t be as light and airy if you’ve beaten it down to nothing. That’s just cruel, dude.

Rhea felt like this post needed photographic proof of me smiling and having fun. That happens sometimes.

Pour the batter into your greased pan. Before you do that though, make sure the springform pan actually does come apart fairly easily when it’s unlocked. I’m just saying this almost became a cakeless flourless cake because of how irritated I was. Anyway, bake it for 45 to 50 minutes, until the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and looks set in the middle. Cool the cake on a rack away from the oven, then once the pan is completely cooled, remove the sides of the pan. Sprinkle on some confectioner’s sugar, cut yourself a slice, and geez, just be happy.

Thanks for playing photographer, Rhea!
Chocolate Cheer Fancy Pantsy

Let Me Eat Cake. Just Not Fruit Cake.

I’m going to let you all in on a tiny secret: I care about the Royal Wedding about as much as I care whether or not it’s acceptable to have hazelnut gelato for lunch. This means I do not care at all.

I am a terrible person, and this is awesome.

Ok, Kate looked gorgeous, the dress was fabuloso, blahblahboringblah. I’m a hater, I know. Really, though, nothing about this wedding intrigued me until I heard their official wedding cake would be a fruit cake. A fruit cake! Did my parents choose this? Worst. Nightmare.

Just as I was about to doze off and hopefully not wake up until the Saturday after the nuptials, I heard that Prince William also requested a chocolate biscuit cake be served, probably because he would have gagged if all he had to eat was fruit cake. Did I mention their cake was a fruit cake? Anyway, my ears perked up when I heard the groom’s request. Oh Wills. I had a feeling we were homies.

I knew not what a chocolate biscuit cake was, but I [correctly] assumed there would be no candied cherries (gag!) at play in this one. I also [correctly] figured it wouldn’t be too difficult to find a recipe for this cake, since, you know, no one cares about anything but Will, Kate and zzzzz…. sorry. I’m sure this cake will pair perfectly with the haterade I’m drinking. Also, for all you hippies who don’t believe in modern-day appliances, like ovens, this is a no-bake recipe. Score! Oh, you will need a fridge, though. Sorry hippies.

I used Darren McGrady’s recipe, which is said to be the exact recipe used for the groom’s cake, and found it here (first recipe). You’ll need:

8 ounces of tea biscuits or cookies (I used Kedem tea biscuits, which can be found in the “specialty/international foods” aisle of your grocery store, and are usually less than $1 a pack. Holla!)

1/2 stick of butter

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

12 ounces of dark chocolate (I used a bag of Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate chips)

1 beaten egg

1 ounce of white chocolate, optional

Grease an 8-inch round pan or 9 x 5 inch jelly roll pan. In a small bowl, cream together butter and sugar until it is fluffy and yellow. In a separate, larger bowl, melt 4 ounces of your dark chocolate. If you’ve got a double-boiler, use it. If you do not, you are me. If you are me, add half a tablespoon of butter into your chocolate bowl, and melt at 15-second increments until relatively smooth. The chocolate will still be a bit tough to stir, but fear not. Once the butter/sugar mixture is added, your bowl will look much shinier and prettier. Go ahead and mix these together, then add in your beaten egg.

The recipe says to have your broken tea biscuits ready. I am a rebel, and I also do not like having to clean extra dishes, so I suggest breaking the biscuits over your chocolate mixture. I found that my mixture was a bit biscuit-heavy after one packet, but you can go crazy and add as many of these as you please. Stir it all together until all biscuits have been covered in gooey chocolate.

Pour into your greased pan, making sure to evenly spread it throughout, and chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours.

Once chilled, run a knife along the edges of the pan and invert the cake onto a serving dish. Oh, who am I to tell you where to put your cakes? Invert it onto the floor if you feel like it. Anyway, in the meantime, melt the remaining 8 ounces of chocolate and pour it over the cake, making sure to evenly spread it over the top and sides. Let the icing cool at room temperature. You can also melt a bit of white chocolate on top if you are feeling extra fancy. I am obviously not.

Messy finished product. The Prince would be proud. (No he wouldn't.)

So, the verdict? I mean, it’s cookies, butter, sugar and chocolate all mashed together into a pan. It’s going to be good. I would suggest doubling the recipe if you want something that resembles more of a cake and less of a pancake. This thing is crazy flat, but still pretty fab. Oh, also, it isn’t fruit cake.

Simply smashing.
Classic Favorites Fancy Pantsy

Put on Your Fancy Pants! It’s Classy Twinkie Time

I am not a fan of Twinkies anymore. I can’t really explain why, but it might have something to do with the Twinkie defense. Ahhh! Twinkies! Murder! Ahh! Or, it might have something to do with the fact that the cream filling always made me lightheaded. Yes, I said always. My childhood motto was “I’ll try anything fifteen times, even if it makes me sick the first time.” I think I hate tap dancing for the same reason.

This is me in my Twinkie-loving days. How I managed to stand still long enough to point out my name is a mystery.

My cousin Darren suggested that I make “fancy Twinkies” for the blog. Well,  what’s fancier than red velvet? Probably lots of things, but red velvet cake rules! So, today, it’s all about Red Velvet Twinkies with Cream Cheese Filling.

So, I’m not sure if Red Velvet Twinkies exist. Basically, I combined a red velvet recipe I found with a Youtube video I found for how to make Twinkie molds. I’m a genius! Actually, I’m a person with a lot of time on my hands! Hooray for Sundays! And exclamation points! !!!

Unless you have the actual Twinkie pan from Hostess (yeah, it’s a thing)–which sort of seems useless to me because I’m not obsessed with cylindrical-shaped baked goods– that video will be of use to you. It wasn’t as annoying to make the molds as I thought it would be. All’s you need is a spice bottle, lots of foil and a couple of hands, preferably hands with fingers.

Fold a large piece of foil in half, then in half again, until you’re left with a square that you’ll be able to wrap around your chosen spice bottle. Tuck the sides in until you have what looks like an aluminum canoe:

This recipe left me with a very lucky 13 Twinkies, and I used one 9 x 13″ pan and one 8 x 8″ pan.

By far the messiest and most trying part of this whole experiment was making the red velvet batter and pouring it into each individual mold. My kitchen and Mets (Let’s go Mets!) t-shirt are now splattered with red splotches. Oh man…Twinkie defense… red splotches… ahhh!

Here’s the recipe for the red velvet cake:

1 1/3 cups of all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons of cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon of baking powder

3/4 teaspoon of baking soda

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/2 cup of softened butter

3/4 cup of sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup of buttermilk*

1 tablespoon of red food coloring

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon of vinegar

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

*Ok, many of us do not have buttermilk at our disposal. I usually do, but it’s sort of tough to find. Or, it’s at least easier to find milk, which is something most of have or can run out and purchase fairly quickly. If you don’t have buttermilk, measure out half a cup of milk and add in 1 1/2 teaspoons of vinegar. Let it sit for about five minutes and you’re set.

You’re going to need three bowls for this. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, which should be pretty large and larger than the other two bowls you’re using if possible, whisk together butter and sugar. If you’ve got an electric mixer, it’ll make this step easier. Add in eggs, one at a time. In your third bowl, combine your buttermilk, vanilla, vinegar and food coloring.

Your three players. Yes, my flour bowl is the largest, I know. Do as I say, not as I do, kids.

Here’s where things get interesting, and really red if you’re one big mess like I am. Pour about a third of the flour mixture into your butter/egg/sugar bowl and mix until just combined. Next, add your food coloring mixture into the same bowl. Alternate, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, until everything is fully mixed. And this is why you should have your butter/sugar stuff in the largest bowl. I did not do this, and this is why my kitchen now looks like a crime scene.

Your batter. By this point you should be bright-red. If you're not, then, um, I'm just a mess of a person, man.

Coat your molds with a non-stick spray, then get pouring. Add about an inch of batter to each mold. It won’t look like a lot, but these will expand and puff out in the oven. Pop them in for 17-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Basically, what I’m saying is the toothpick should be the only non-red thing in your kitchen at this point, unless the toothpick was red to begin with, which is sort of weird, no?

In the meantime, let’s get crazy and make our own filling. Now, cream cheese frosting is probably the easiest, and definitely the yummiest, to make from scratch. It takes about five minutes and four ingredients. Five! And four! Numbers are awesome.

Here’s what you need:

1 8-oz. package or tub of cream cheese (I used reduced-fat because it’s all my local grocery had and this came out perfectly)

1/4 cup of softened butter

1 cup of confectioner’s sugar

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

In a small bowl (yes, you’ll be washing bowls until next week, but it’s worth it, I promise), cream together your cream cheese and butter, using a mixer if you have one. Add in the vanilla, then pour in sugar in increments, whippin’ it good every few additions. Once it’s fully incorporated, taste the goodness and pat yourself on the back for making frosting. You are a champ.

Back to the red velvet goods. Once cooled, start peeling off the foil and admire.

They kind of look like Hot Pockets, right?

Time to get filling! There are a few ways to do this. If you are a nerd like I am, you have an icing decorator. Mine looks like this:

It’s super convenient and kind of fun to use, especially if you were into Nerf when you were younger. To get filling, use the tip of the decorator to insert three small holes into the back of each Twinkie. Slowly and carefully fill in each hole with enough of your cream cheese that the Twinkie starts to expand just a bit. If you’re without an icing decorator, use a chopstick or similarly-shaped object to create these little cavities. Then, fill a resealable plastic bag with your frosting, cut off a tiny tip of one corner of the bag, and get in there.

Success! Take that, Hostess!
Your filled and flavorful finished treat.

And yes, one of my Twinkies did explode. And yes, it was awesome.