Going Dutch

My dad spent a lot of time at Piedmont Hospital in the 80s. He had a kidney transplant in 1988 and between that and the visits before and after the transplant with his doctor’s office being at the hospital, I knew that place like the back of my hand. Across the street was an Original Pancake House. We used to stop in almost every time we went and I always got the same thing: a Dutch Baby and a side of strawberries and cream. I have some incredibly fond memories of those days and times with my dad and a German pancake is comfort food for me. That restaurant is now a CVS. There are other locations scattered about but now I just make them at home.

I use Alton Brown’s Recipe because it’s the best  I have found (duh, it’s Alton Brown) but I have just (not to toot my own horn but I’m totally tooting my own horn) improved upon it.

How, you ask? Well, that’s easy. Chocolate. Chocolate makes everything better. And anyone who knows me knows that I’m a cocoa snob, so don’t go making this with Hershey’s, ok? That’s an order. Get thy browser over to King Arthur Flour and order thee a bag of Bensdorp Dutch-Process Cocoa before you start this recipe. Go on, I’ll wait.

Ok, so this is adapted from Alton’s recipe. He lives just a few miles from me so we’re on a first name basis. Well, we would be if he knew who I was (drop me an email, Alton and let’s go to the range and then have a beer!). He gets credit for the base recipe but making it better with chocolate is ALL ME! I mean, look at this, it’s beautiful. And it tastes phenomenal. The smell of the chocolate wafting through the air…mmmmmmmm. Because I added the strawberries and powdered sugar before taking the photo, the pancake had time to fall a bit. These babies don’t stay puffed up for long!


Better Than Alton’s Chocolate Dutch Baby Pancake

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup plus 2 T  all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Bensdorp cocoa (even if you don’t use the full-fat Bensdorp, at least don’t use the cheap stuff!)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 T milk (whole or 2% is fine)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar and cut strawberries, for serving (optional)
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Put 1 tablespoon of the butter in a 10-inch cast iron pan and heat the pan in the oven for 10 minutes, until it reaches cooking temp. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and set aside to cool slightly. Mix together the flour, cocoa, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, milk, vanilla extract and melted butter, and blend together. Pour the mixture into a blender and blend on high until smooth and frothy, 30 to 45 seconds. Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and immediately pour the batter into the center. Bake for 19-23 minutes, do not open the oven while baking. The Dutch baby will puff up in the center and the edges will be dark and crispy. Serve warm topped with strawberries and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Nutella & Brie Panini

Who doesn’t love Nutella? If you answered, “Me,” then I don’t trust you. There’s got to be something wrong with anyone who doesn’t love Nutella.

The best Nutella I ever had was in Italy. My husband and I were in Venice and stayed at this gorgeous bed and breakfast called Locanda Orseolo right by San Marco. I ordered the Nutella crepes for breakfast each morning because, well, NUTELLA! But the Nutella was different there than it is here in the states. It was a little thinner and creamier and a tiny bit better. Those crepes were incredible and I still think about them, eight years later. I love everything Nutella.

There’s a new panini place where I live, Pressed Panini Bar, and they have this Nutella and brie panini. I tried it awhile back and it was pretty delicious. Brie is great paired with some sweetness and the savory and sweet combination is wonderful. I recently decided to try my hand at my own Nutella and brie panini. It turned out perfect.

Nutella and brie on ciabatta bread.

Nutella and brie on ciabatta bread.













Nutella & Brie Panini

Brie Cheese
Ciabatta Bread
Fleur de Sel (or regular sea salt)

Slice ciabatta bread and spread Nutella on one side. Do not load it down too much, remember it’s going to melt and thin. Avoid spreading all the way into the bread corners. Sprinkle a little fleur de sel or regular seat salt on Nutella and then top with a slice of brie (either remove or retain the rind, as you prefer). Top with the top slice of bread and put it on the panini press until desired toastiness.

Pineapple Souffle

My mom lives a couple of hours north and when we go to visit, we often time it so that my brother and his family are up there too. We always have such a great time together. We spend most of the time in the kitchen. I  usually hate a crowded kitchen and prefer being in there by myself doing my thing but I don’t mind it up there. My brother usually is in charge of the meat and my sister-in-law and myself are doing side dishes and desserts.

A while back, during one of our visits, my sister-in-law starts pulling out canned pineapple, bread, sugar, eggs…I asked her what she was making and she told me it was pineapple souffle. I had never heard of it but supposedly it’s a southern thing. Whatever. I’m not really that “southern,” so I miss the boat on a lot of “southern” things.

Anyway, she commenced making this pineapple souffle and once we sat down to eat, I quickly discovered that it was DELICIOUS! I make it regularly now. I love it with pork and it works as either a side dish or a dessert.

Pineapple Souffle

Pineapple Souffle








1 stick of butter (because that’s how all good southern dishes begin)

1 cup sugar

6 eggs

1/4 cup milk

6 slices of white bread (possibly a little more, depending on the size/thickness)

1 20oz can pineapple chunks, drained

1/2 T cinnamon

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray an 8″x8″ (or similar size) baking/casserole dish. Heat butter in microwave until it’s mostly melted. Cream with sugar in large mixing bowl. Add eggs one at a time, making sure that butter and sugar mixture aren’t warm enough to cook the eggs. Mix in milk. Tear bread into bite size chunks and fold into mixture. Add pineapple and fold it in as well. Add cinnamon and mix thoroughly, making sure all bread is soaked and pineapple is evenly mixed in. mixture should be loose but not soupy. If soupy, add another piece of chunked bread. Pour into baking dish.

Sprinkle brown sugar evenly on top. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Mile High Chocolate Meringue Pie

Have a mentioned I’m bad about writing my recipes down? Oh, that’s right, that’s one reason I started this blog, That and because I’m one opinionated beeyotch.

I am so bad about just throwing stuff in a pot and seeing what happens. Which is strange because in my baking, I’m meticulous. We’ll blame it on the multiple personalities in my head.

I took special care to  pay attention to my process this time. That was a good thing because this pie turned out FABULOUS! So, without further ado, I present…













Mile High Chocolate Meringue Pie

1/2 cup GOOD cocoa – don’t use that Hershey’s crap! I used full-fat Bensdorp

1 cup sugar

1 Teaspoon espresso powder (optional but it deepens the flavor)

pinch of salt

1 cup hot water

2 cups heavy cream (there’s no such thing as diet chocolate pie, sorry)

1 Tablespoon vanilla

3 Tablespoons cornstarch, combined with a little water to form a slurry

Combine sugar, cocoa, espresso powder and salt in saucepan. Break up any lumps and combine thoroughly. Add hot water and stir over medium heat until consistency is smooth. Add cream and continue to cook over medium heat. Bring to a boil, add vanilla and cornstarch slurry. Stir continuously over medium-low heat until a thick pudding consistency is reached. Remove from heat. Fill a pre-baked pie shell with filling. Top with meringue (recipe below), making sure to form a seal all around the pie, and bake at 450 for about 5 minutes – watch closely – you just want to brown the meringue as desired. Allow pie to thoroughly cool and chill in fridge to set.


4 egg whites

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Mix egg whites with cream of tartar using whisk attachment until foamy and gradually add sugar. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form.

You can omit the cream of tartar, but it serves as a great stabilizer and gives it a better texture, in my opinion.


Nothing Compares 2 U

I’ve been away for a while. First, my 5+ year old iMac crapped out on me. Turned out to be an inexpensive repair but I went ahead and sprung for a new 27″ anyway. It’s huge. I’ve also been out of town, so I’m just now getting a chance to update the blog again. There is much going on in the world of me and firearms and I know I owe you all a follow up on my previous post but for today, you get cupcakes. We all like cupcakes, so I’m sure you won’t mind.

I rarely share my cupcake recipes. I have a small side business, Groove Cakes. Custom-order music-themed cupcakes. So, sharing my recipes wouldn’t behoove me. But, my latest creation is one I’ve been wanting to work on for quite a while and it contains liquor. In keeping with my music theme, I have named this cupcake the Sinead O’Connor. It’s an Irish car bomb cupcake. Guinness chocolate cake, dipped in a whiskey chocolate ganache and topped with Bailey’s buttercream. I tried one recently at Shenanigan’s in Dahlonega at the suggestion of a friend. It was ok. The cake was pretty good but the frosting needed lots of help and it had no whiskey ganache. I’m picky about my cupcakes.

I do not have a liquor license and I’m not big on incurring unnecessary liability so I won’t be selling these through Groove Cakes. I considered developing it with extracts and flavors but it’s just not the same and I am not going to put out a cupcake that tastes like crap. It’s really a shame I can’t offer these because they turned out awesome.  I love it when I get it right the very first time and don’t need to tweak the recipe. I based the cakes on a recipe for a Guinness chocolate cake with Guinness ganache that I have been making for years so I knew it wouldn’t disappoint.

Keep in mind while making this recipe that quality matters. If you use crap ingredients, you get crap cupcakes. No Hershey’s cocoa, ok? Promise?

Also keep in mind that the alcohol in these babies do not cook out, with the possible exception of the Guinness. The whiskey and the irish cream are fully leaded, so it’s an adult cupcake.


Sinead O’Connor Cupcakes (AKA Irish Car Bomb)


1 cup Guinness, not including the foam (you can spoon out the foam)
2 sticks unsalted, room temperature butter
3/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder (high quality, please!)
1 tsp espresso powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoons salt
2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 24 cupcake cups. You can actually get 28-29 from this recipe, but if you’re like me, you’ll end up eating that portion in raw batter.

Melt butter with Guinness in medium saucepan over medium heat. Once butter melts, add cocoa in 1/4  cup increments, whisking until combined and smooth. Add espresso powder. Set aside to cool.

Combine sour cream and eggs in stand mixer and combine until smooth and creamy. Combine sugar, flour, baking soda and salt in food processor (you can also sift it normally but I like the ease of the processor) and pulse until combined and no lumps remain.

Add cooled chocolate and Guinness mixture to egg and sour cream mixture. You want to make sure the mixture is cool or you’ll end up cooking your eggs prematurely unless you carefully temper them. Mix on low speed until all wet ingredients are combined. Gradually add in dry mixture on low speed until just combined. Do not overwork the batter or you’ll end up with overdeveloped gluten and your cake will be tough instead of light and airy.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 15-18 minutes. Start checking at 15 minutes. They are done with a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before topping with ganache, below.

Chocolate Whiskey Ganache:

6 oz 70% bittersweet chocolate, chopped (you can use chocolate chips but I’d prefer you use a really good quality)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons whiskey (Irish is preferred, such as Jameson’s, but you can get away with Maker’s Mark also. So long as it’s a good quality whiskey. I know, I really like the word “quality.”)

Combine chocolate and heavy cream in a microwavable glass bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring each time, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. If too thick, add a little more warm cream. Stir in butter until melted. Add whiskey and stir to combine. Hold cupcake upside down and swirl the top in the ganache, covering entire top of cake. Repeat with all cupcakes. Set aside while preparing buttercream.

*Side note – you can core the cakes and pipe the ganache into the cupcakes instead but you’ll need to double the recipe and personally, I think it would be a little overwhelming. I’m as big of a chocolate addict as ever existed, but I recommend just topping with the ganache.

Bailey’s Buttercream Frosting:

2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
4-5 cups powdered sugar
7 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream

With wire whip attachment, whip butter on medium, then high until fluffy. This will probably take 3-5 minutes. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, making sure to turn mixer to slow or off when adding to avoid a powdered sugar bomb in your face, then work up to high speed to whip each time, ensuring a light and airy frosting. Stop at 4 cups. Add in the Bailey’s and mix in. You can mix in the last cup if you want the icing a little stiffer or sweeter. Frost cakes with piping bag and your favorite tip.

Store in an airtight container. And enjoy responsibly. Or irresponsibly. Whatever works for you.