The Buttery Blog

Everything's better with butter.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Butterpants! October 12, 2009

Filed under: Desserts — butteryblog @ 8:20 pm
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I love birthdays.  I often start planning my own months in advance.  I know this is inappropriate. My inner birthday whore fights with my inner etiquette geek every year. Of course, my poor husband is not such a birthday freak, but every year I badger him into some sort of party or gathering by promising him that I will cook him whatever he likes.   I tell myself that deep down he likes it.

This year, the request was Southern food (specifically, chicken and dumplings) and Rock Band.  Since it is my belief that your birthday is your own personal holiday, in the Butterpants house, what you want is what you get.

I generally avoid cooking meat whenever possible.  The last time I tried, it resulted in a minor emotional breakdown so this time around, Mr. B took care of the shredding and prepping of the chicken and I took care of the rest.

Of course, birthdays require cake. Last year, Mr. B requested a box cake.  I’m not going to lie, I was offended at the request.  But…. what you want is what you get.  Well, a box cake he got.  Too bad it looked like this:

A five year old monkey made this.

A five year old monkey made this.

I swear I did not do it on purpose.

This year, I insisted on homemade.  Since Mr. B is a huge peanut butter/chocolate fan, I settled on the recipe from Sky High for the Sour Cream Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze.  Holy mother of G-d.

Both recipes are excellent.  Mr. B found the chicken and dumplings a little on the salty side, so if you’re not a salt person, err on the side of caution.  The cake is hardcore.  Superrich, but absolutely incredible.  This cake is going to be my chocolate cake base from now on.

Old-Fashioned Chicken and Dumplings

From Scott Peacock via Martha Stewart.

Note: This is more of a soup than the thicker stewy texture (think Cracker Barrel) that Mr. B was hoping for.  I thickened it a bit with flour.  That didn’t really get to where he wanted it, but he was satisfied with it in the end and said it tasted even better the next day.

Chicken and Dumplins

Chicken and Dumplins


Serves 6

1 large chicken (4 to 4 1/2 pounds), cut into quarter

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

8 cups Scott’s Chicken Stock (I confess, I used canned because I was lazy and crunched for time)

1 medium onion, halved lengthwise

2 ribs celery, preferably inner ribs with leaves attached

1 large egg

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch slices (I did not use these, Mr. B would have flipped)

2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1/4 cup heavy cream


Generously season chicken with salt. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.

In a large Dutch oven, combine chicken stock, 4 cups water, onion, celery, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat Add the leg portions and the backbone of the chicken to the Dutch oven. Place the breasts, skin side down, on top of the legs. Reduce heat to just below a simmer. Cover partially, and cook, making sure the stock mixture does not come to a simmer, until breasts are cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove breasts, and set aside. Continue cooking legs until very tender and meat begins to pull away from the bone, 30 to 40 minutes more. Remove chicken and vegetables, reserving liquid. Discard vegetables and set chicken aside until cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together egg, oil, 3 tablespoons cold water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir in flour until well combined. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

When chicken has cooled, remove skin and discard. Remove meat from bones and tear into 1 1/2- to 2-inch pieces; set aside.

Turn dough out onto a generously floured work surface. Roll out dough until it is about 1/16-inch thick. Cut dough into 1 1/2-by-2 1/2-inch rectangles. Bring reserved stock mixture to a boil over high heat, and season with salt. Add dough rectangles to boiling liquid, shaking pot as necessary, but not stirring. Cook until, dough is cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Add reserved chicken and reduce to a simmer. Add sliced egg, butter, and heavy cream; season with pepper. Continue cooking 2 to 3 minutes more; season with salt and pepper.

Remove from heat and cover; let stand 10 to 15 minutes before serving in shallow bowl.

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
From Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes via Smitten Kitchen.

Makes an 8-inch triple-layer cake; serves 12 to 16

The Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.

3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely.

4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.

5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving. Decorate the top with chopped peanut brittle. (I didn’t do this.)

The Frosting

Makes about 5 cups

10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (note from the book: commercial hydrogenated peanut butter works best because the oil doesn’t separate out)

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

The Glaze
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

8 ounces seimsweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half

In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.

So much cake.

So much cake.

Serve with Jeremiah Weed Sweet Tea Vodka.

Be excellent to each other,
Ms. Butterpants


L’Shana Tova Tikatevu! September 18, 2009

Filed under: Baked Goods/Pastries — butteryblog @ 9:37 pm
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Tonight begins the Jewish New Year!  Happy 5770!

When I was growing up, Rosh Hashanah meant a day off school and a trip to Mobile to my Mama Molly’s house.   Mama Molly was my great-grandmother on my maternal grandfather’s side.  She had the most fabulous house!  And every year, she had a huge family party complete with passed hors d’oeuvres, bartenders, and catering.  When we arrived, I always ran straight for the kitchen to ask the catering ladies to save me some kreplach, a specialty of my other great-grandmother, which always went quickly.  Cheese straws and shrimp were also a staple.  Yes, shrimp.  I have no excuse for the shrimp.

She passed away many years ago and although my great uncle continued the parties, I haven’t been to one since I graduated from college.  As I’ve moved further and further away from the family, it gets harder and more expensive to travel.  Mr. Butterpants and I have to choose carefully so Christmas/Chanukah is often the winner.

I miss those parties.

I’ve been wanting to celebrate in my own way here in Los Angeles.  I’m joining friends for services tomorrow and my friend, Buffy (in the process of converting!) is hosting a break-the-fast next week on Yom Kippur.

I wanted to go a little more traditional than shrimp and it’s traditional to eat apples and honey on Rosh Hashanah to usher in a sweet and prosperous year. So I figure this honey cake works, right?

Majestic and Moist Honey Cake
Adapted from Marcy Goldman’s Treasure of Jewish Holiday Baking

via Smitten Kitchen

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder (I used a tsp.)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup warm coffee or strong tea (I used a Pomegranate/Raspberry Tea)
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup rye or whiskey (I used brandy)
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds (optional- I didn’t use these)

I also added 1 small diced Gala apple into the flour mixture.

Fits in three loaf pans, two 9-inch square or round cake pans, one 9 or 10 inch tube or bundt cake pan, or one 9 by 13 inch sheet cake. I made mine in two full-size loaf pans plus two miniature ones.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease pan(s) with non-stick cooking spray. For tube or angel food pans, line the bottom with lightly greased parchment paper, cut to fit.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Make a well in the center, and add oil, honey, white sugar, brown sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee or tea, orange juice and rye or whiskey, if using. (If you measure your oil before the honey, it will be easier to get all of the honey out.)

Using a strong wire whisk or in an electric mixer on slow speed, stir together well to make a thick, well-blended batter, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom.

Pour batter into prepared pan(s). Sprinkle top of cake(s) evenly with almonds, if using. Place cake pan(s) on two baking sheets, stacked together (this will ensure the cakes bake properly with the bottom baking faster than the cake interior and top).

Bake until cake tests done, that is, it springs back when you gently touch the cake center. For angel and tube cake pans, this will take 60 to 75 minutes, loaf cakes, about 45 to 55 minutes. For sheet style cakes, baking time is 40 to 45 minutes.

Let cake stand fifteen minutes before removing from pan.

This cake is a perfect fall cake, whether you’re Jewish or not. This would be a lovely Thanksgiving Day/Christmas morning breakfast cake. It tastes like a slightly sweeter spice cake and it’s astoundingly moist.

Deb mentioned she had a problem with sinking. After reading her comments, I decided to use 1 tsp each of baking powder and baking soda and managed to avoid it. Of course, I didn’t wait long enough for one of them to cool in the pan and it fell apart a little. But who cares? It still tastes awesome.

Whether or not you celebrate Rosh Hashanah, I hope you try this cake. It’s a yummy way to welcome fall.

L’shana tova tikatevu! Shabbat Shalom!
Be excellent to each other,
Ms. Butterpants




Happy Birthday To Me July 6, 2009

Filed under: Baked Goods/Pastries,Desserts — butteryblog @ 12:15 am
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If I could marry this cake I would!

If I could marry this cake I would!

My birthday was a few weeks ago. As much as I enjoy cooking and baking, I didn’t want to make my own birthday cake. I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted a cannoli cream cake. And it had to come from Manducatis Rustica.

After consuming the best cake on the planet for three days here is what I have to say: 1) If you are looking for a great place to eat in Queens, go to Manducatis Rustica. You won’t be disappointed! 2) If you ever have a birthday, order a cake from this place. My cake was indescribably good. My guess is that any cake you would get there would be as good. But the cannoli cream cake, now that says Happy Birthday to me!
– Mother Butter