Blueberry Cake Doughnuts

Blueberry Cake Doughnuts

These are my favorite doughnuts ever! I've had an emotional attachment to them since I was living and working in Washington, D.C. I was super poor and there was a bakery stall in Eastern Market right on my way to work that would sell me two-day-olds for 50 cents, and I'd eat them while riding my bike to work. Oh, the salad days. I've tried to sneak this doughnut onto the menu of every restaurant I've ever worked at. —Duff


Makes 2 dozen regular doughnuts or 48 mini doughnuts.


Ingredients:


Doughnuts

  • Nonstick cooking spray

  • 1/3 stick butter, softened

  • 1 cup sugar

  • Pinch of kosher salt

  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

  • 1 cup cake flour

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 tsp. baking soda

  • 2 tsp. baking powder

  • 2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk

  • 1 pint (2 cups) frozen blueberries, thawed

  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • Basic Sugar Glaze (recipe below)

Basic Sugar Glaze

  • 3 cups powdered sugar

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • Pinch of kosher salt

  • 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract

Special Equipment

  • Doughnut pans (regular or mini)

  • Piping bag

  • Stand mixer

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and spray the doughnut pans liberally with cooking spray.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla until light and fluffy.

  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, and baking powder.

  4. Add the eggs and yolk to the mixer and cream until blended.

  5. In 4-6 stages, alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk, mixing on medium-low the whole time and constantly scraping down the sides. Once the additions are done, turn the mixer to its lowest setting and gently add the blueberries, mixing just until evenly incorporated and the batter is a nice shade of blue. 

  6. Fill a large piping bag with the batter and fill each well in the pans about two-thirds full.

  7. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the dough springs back when poked for regular doughnuts, or 8 to 10 minutes for mini doughnuts.

  8. When cool, dip the doughnuts into the glaze and shake off the excess. Place them on a wire rack so the glaze soaks in and gets a little crunchy on the outside.

  9. Basic Sugar Glaze: in a big bowl combine all the ingredients and whisk together. Adjust the consistency by adding either milk (to thin) or powdered sugar (to thicken). 

Funnel Cake!

Funnel Cake!

I remember eating my first funnel cake at Disneyland when I was super young. Whenever I make funnel cakes, I try to keep that first one in mind, and make them extra awesome, because hey, this could be someone else’s first funnel cake! Make life easy for yourself and prep four or five disposable plastic piping bags with batter. Funnel cakes can be very messy to make, and this will totally help. - Duff


Makes 8 funnel cakes


Ingredients:

  • 1 quart vegetable oil

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour 

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 3 extra-large eggs

  • 2 cups milk or cream

  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Special Equipment:

  • Deep-fry thermometer

  • 4-5 disposable plastic piping bags


Method:

  1. Add the oil to a deep pot and heat it over medium-high heat until it registers 375° F on a deep-fry thermometer. Set up a work surface with 4 or 5 plastic piping bags, scissors, tongs, parchment paper, and a wire rack with parchment paper underneath.

  2. In a big bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and granulated sugar. Add the eggs and milk and whisk well. Get all the lumps out!

  3. Fill all the piping bags with batter straight into the hot oil in a swirly, crazy pattern. Toss the piping bag. When one side is golden brown, about 75 seconds, carefully flip the funnel cake with tongs and fry the other side, another 75 seconds. Fry the rest of the batter.

  4. Drain the funnel cakes on the wire rack. While they’re still warm and shiny, dust them with powdered sugar using a wire-mesh strainer. Serve immediately!


Confetti Cake

Confetti Cake

Confetti cake is the bomb. You can use it for any occasion and it’s guaranteed to put a smile on someone’s face. Use any frosting you’d like; it doesn’t hurt to experiment with flavors and colors! - Duff


Makes one 2-layer, 9-inch round cake

  • 1 c. Canola Oil (215 g)

  • 1.5 c. Granulated Sugar (300 g)

  • 3 Medium Eggs (171 g)

  • 2.5 tsp. Vanilla Extract (11 g)

  • 3 c. AP Flour (450 g)

  • 1 tbsp. Baking Powder (12 g)

  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda (6 g)

  • 1 tsp. Kosher Salt (6 g)

  • 1 c. Buttermilk, room temperature (240 g)

  • 1/2 c. Rainbow Sprinkles

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F and butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

  2. Measure out the buttermilk in a liquid measuring cup and set aside.

  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, set aside.

  4. In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a bowl using a spatula and your muscles, mix the sugar and oil until combined thoroughly. 

  5. Add the eggs one by one (make sure each one is fully mixed into the sugar and oil before adding the next).

  6. Scrape the bowl down (get below that paddle attachment on your standing mixers!) and add the vanilla extract.

  7. While slowly mixing the liquids, alternate between adding the flour mixture and room temperature buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour. Make sure to scrape the bowl after the final addition of flour to make sure everything is incorporated into the batter.

  8. With a spatula, mix in the rainbow sprinkles. Make sure not to over mix the batter at this point as you don’t want too much air incorporated into the batter AND you don’t want the sprinkle colors to bleed too much (unless you want a weird brownish/funfetti cake, but you do you).

  9. Divide the batter between the two cake pans, scraping all the batter from the bowl with a rubber spatula or cake scraper (if you wanna be a pro, weigh out the batter and then divide it evenly between the two pans). 

  10. Bake the 9-inch cakes for about 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

  11. Let cool for 15 minutes in the pans and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. (Note: this is a VERY important step, do NOT try to frost your cake if it’s still warm, ‘cause you’re gonna melt the frosting and it’s just gonna be a mess).

  12. Frost with whatever frosting your heart desires and enjoy! (Make sure to send/ tag me in photos of your wonderful creations, y’all!)

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Red. Velvet. Cake. This is a recipe to have in your arsenal for all year round, but if you’re trying to be all sweet and stuff, you can make it for your s.o. or partner in crime for V-Day. You can do it as a layered cake or cupcakes, but make sure to top them off with some cream cheese frosting, ‘cause nothing goes better together than those two. - Duff


Makes one 2-layer, 9-inch round cake, or 24 regular sized cupcakes

Ingredients:
Red Velvet Cake

  • 2 Eggs

  • 1 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar (300 g)

  • 1 1/2 cups Vegetable Oil (325 g)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons White Vinegar (8 g)

  • 2 1/4 cups AP Flour (340 g)

  • 5 tablespoons Cornstarch (40 g)

  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda (40 g)

  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder (2 g)

  • 2 tablespoons Unsweetened Natural Cocoa Powder (15 g)

  • 1 teaspoon Salt (6 g)

  • 1 cup Buttermilk (room temperature) (240 g)

  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract (25 g)

  • 2 tablespoons Red Food Coloring (30 g)

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese, room temperature

  • 1 cup softened Butter (225 g)

  • 4 cups Powdered Sugar, sifted (500 g)

  • 1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract (10 g)

  • 1 teaspoon Salt (6 g)

Method (Cake):

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

  2. Measure out the buttermilk in a liquid measuring cup and mix in the red food coloring and vanilla extract.

  3. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt.

  4. In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a bowl using a spatula and your muscles, cream the eggs, sugar, oil, and vinegar until combined thoroughly. 

  5. While slowly mixing the sugary-eggy mixture, alternate between adding the flour mixture and room temperature buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. 

  6. Divide the batter between the two cake pans (or scoop into paper-lined cupcake pans), scraping all the batter from the bowl with a rubber spatula. 

  7. Bake the 9-inch cakes for about 30-35 minutes (cupcakes 12-15 minutes), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

  8. Let cool for 15 minutes in the pans and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. (Note: this is a VERY important step, do NOT try to frost your cake if it’s still warm, ‘cause you’re gonna melt the frosting and it’s just gonna be a mess).

  9. Frost with the cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)…


Method (Cream Cheese Frosting)

  1. Cream the cream cheese and butter together until nice and fluffy (make sure there aren’t any chunks of cream cheese left). 

  2. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time and slowly mix after each addition (so you don’t get covered in it).

  3. Mix in the salt and vanilla extract.

  4. If the frosting is too soft, you can refrigerate it for 30 minutes or so before doing a crumb coat on your cake! Enjoy!

Warm Bread Pudding with Homemade Fudge Sauce

Warm Bread Pudding with Homemade Fudge Sauce

Ask and you shall receive! Here’s the recipe for my warm bread pudding with fudge sauce that I made for the LA Food Bank Benefit a couple of weeks ago. It’s spicy, custardy, and everything you’d want while it’s still chilly out! - Duff

Bread Pudding Ingredients

Makes 14-4 ounce (½ cup) servings

  • 1 pound of stale brioche or challah (sliced into ¾ inch cubes)

  • 118 grams butter

  • 1 ½ cups cream

  • 1 ½ cups milk

  • 140 grams light brown sugar

  • 70 grams granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons nutmeg

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons cloves

Fudge Sauce Ingredients

Note: you can serve this warm, or make it the day ahead and serve it cooled!

Makes 2 cups

  • 225 grams granulated sugar

  • ¾ cup milk

  • 217 grams butter

  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

  • Pinch of salt

  • 94 grams cocoa powder

Method for Bread Pudding:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

  2. Slice brioche or challah into ¾ inch slices (if you don’t have a stale loaf, slice the cubes a day before you plan on making the pudding and leave out on the counter).

  3. Butter 14-4 ounce ramekins and set on a sheet tray. Fill each ramekin with the cubed bread until just below the brim. Set aside.

  4. Combine the butter, cream, and milk in a pot and place over low to medium heat. Let the butter melt completely, then take the pot off the heat.

  5. As the butter melts into the cream mixture, combine the light brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, eggs, salt, and spices into a large heatproof bowl. Whisk the ingredients together until the eggs are completely combined.

  6. Temper the sugary egg mixture with the warmed butter mixture: using a ladle or metal measuring cup, slowly whisk in the warmed butter mixture into the sugary egg mixture. Go slowly at first until the bowl feels warm on the outside, then finish adding the warmed butter mixture. Whisk until all of the ingredients are combined.

  7. Using a ladle or liquid measuring cup, pour the pudding mixture over the ramekins, filling each until just below the brim. Make sure to continue to whisk the pudding mixture as you’re pouring them into the ramekins as the spices will settle to the bottom!

  8. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the bread pudding is just set: the bread on top should be slightly crispy and browned.

  9. Take out of the oven and let cool slightly. You can leave them in the individual ramekins, or take a butter knife (or offset spatula) and go around the edges of the pudding, then release into a bowl. Serve with a big ol’ scoop of vanilla ice cream (or any other flavor you’d like) and drizzle the fudge sauce on top!

Method for Fudge Sauce:

  1. In a large pot, combine the granulated sugar, milk, butter, vanilla extract, and salt, place mixture over low to medium heat. Let the butter melt completely and take off the burner.

  2. In a bowl, sift the cocoa powder, making sure there are no large chunks.

  3. Once butter has melted, add the sifted cocoa powder to the pot. Using an immersion blender, or a whisk, combine the ingredients until you see no cocoa powder globs.

  4. Serve warm and drizzle on top of your bread puddings, or make a day ahead!


Chocolate Cream Pie with Oreo Crust & Marshmallow Meringue

Chocolate Cream Pie with Oreo Crust & Marshmallow Meringue

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been in the mood for some chocolate AND pie lately. This Chocolate Cream Pie totally satisfies both of those cravings and is super easy to whip up when you want to treat yourself or to MAYBE share with your loved ones. If you want to make it S’moresy, substitute the Oreo crust with a graham cracker crust! - Duff

Makes one 9-inch pie

Crust:

  • 24 Oreo Cookies

  • ½ stick (¼ cup) butter, melted

Filling:

  • 2 ½ cups whole milk

  • 3 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 1 cup sugar

  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 4 extra-large egg yolks, lightly beaten

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Marshmallow Meringue:

  • 4 cups mini marshmallows

  • 1 tablespoon milk

  • 2 extra-large egg whites

  • 3 tablespoons sugar

  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Optional: S’moresy Substitute -- use in place of Oreo Crust

Graham Cracker Crust:

  • 24 graham crackers

  • ¾ stick (6 tablespoons) butter, melted

  1. To make the crust: In a food processor, finely grind the cookies. Mix in the melted butter and press the crumbs evenly onto the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pan.

  2. To make the filling: In the top of a double boiler, heat 2 cups of the milk until it is scalded (almost but not quite boiling). Add the chocolate and stir until it’s completely melted. Set aside.

  3. In a big bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Whisk in the remaining ½ cup milk.

  4. Stir the flour mixture into the hot chocolate mixture and return it to the double boiler. Return the double boiler to the heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is very thick, 8 to 10 minutes. Whisk in the egg yolks and cook for another 2 minutes, whisking constantly.

  5. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally.

  6. Unless you plan to use a blowtorch to color the meringue, preheat the oven to 425°F.

  7. For the meringue: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the marshmallows and milk until the marshmallows are almost completely melted. Remove from the heat and fold until the mixture is smooth and fluffy.

  8. With a hand or stand mixer, beat the eggs whites until foamy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until the mixture is stiff, then beat in the vanilla and salt.

  9. Gently fold the marshmallow mixture into the egg white mixture.

  10. Pour the cooled pie filling into the crust and smooth the top evenly. Spread the meringue topping over the filling and bake for just 2 to 3 minutes to brown the meringue, or use a blowtorch.

  11. Let the pie cool completely, then chill it for 30 minutes before serving.

  12. Enjoy your glorious creation!

Vegan & Gluten-Free Fruit & Almond Shortbread Bars

Vegan & Gluten-Free Fruit & Almond Shortbread Bars

Who is still feeling stuffed from the holiday last week? These are unbelievably delicious and ALL VEGAN & GLUTEN FREE, guys. They’re great for dialing down on those sweets, but still good for when you’re looking for a little something. You can totally experiment with different preserves, I like blackberry or blueberry, or if you’re feeling super adventurous, try whipping up some homemade preserves! - Duff

Makes 16 bars

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) vegan butter or margarine

  • ½ cup sugar

  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract

  • ½ tsp. almond extract

  • 1 cup almond flour

  • ½ cup white rice flour

  • ½ cup potato starch

  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt

  • 1 cup fruit preserves

  • Sliced almonds, for topping

    Options: To make in a non-GF/ vegan version, use regular butter and substitute equal amounts all-purpose flour for the rice flour and potato starch.

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and grease an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan.

  2. With a hand or stand mixer, beat the vegan butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and almond extracts.

  3. In a medium bowl, mix the flours, starch, and salt.

  4. Add the dry ingredients to the “butter” mixture and mix until just incorporated.

  5. Press two-thirds of the dough into the pan and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the crust is pale light brown. Remove it from the oven.

  6. When the pan has cooled enough to handle, spread the preserves evenly over the crust.

  7. Break the remaining dough into little tiny pieces and drop them evenly over the jam. Top with the almonds.

  8. Bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is a nice golden brown.

  9. Cut into bars and serve immediately, while still warm, or store them in the refrigerator.

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles aren’t just for the holidays. These cookies are good all year long, and in the heat of summer can remind us that winter is coming, so stop complaining and enjoy the sun while it lasts. That said, these cinnamon cookies treat you right after a snow day of sledding and pond hockey. - Duff

Makes 2 dozen cookies

  • ¾ cup sugar

  • 1 stick (½ cup) butter

  • 1 extra-large egg

  • 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar

  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt

  • Cinnamon sugar: ¼ cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and line a baking sheet or sheets with parchment paper.

  2. With a stand or hand mixer, cream the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well.

  3. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.

  4. Add the dry mixture to the butter mixture and mix until a well-incorporated dough forms.

  5. Use your clean hands to roll the dough into 1- to 2-inch balls. Roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar to coat them thoroughly.

  6. Place on the prepared baking sheet(s) and lightly press the tops down so that the cookies bake a little bit thinner.

  7. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until lightly golden. Let cool on a wire rack.

Pumpkin Spice Jack-in-a-Jar

Pumpkin Spice Jack-in-a-Jar

I love that you can take an ordinary jar and bring it to life! A fun thing to do is to combine different orange-colored candies inside the jars with the cake and buttercream to create different flavors and textures. - Duff

  • 1⅔ cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 tsp. baking soda

  • ¾ tsp. kosher salt

  • 1¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger

  • ⅛ tsp. ground cloves

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin

  • ½ cup vegetable oil

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar

  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

  • ⅓ cup whole buttermilk, at room temperature

  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract

  • ⅔ cups semisweet chocolate chips

  • 3 cups buttercream frosting

  • 10 (8-oz.) wide-mouth jars with lids

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9-inch square pan, and line with parchment paper; grease parchment. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and spices in a large bowl; set aside.

  2. Whisk together pumpkin, oil and sugars in a separate bowl. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; whisk until combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan.

  3. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan 15 minutes; transfer to a wire rack, and cool completely. Cut into 1-inch cubes.

  4. Spoon or pipe ¼-inch frosting in bottom of each jar. Top each with 4 cake cubes, lightly pressing together. Repeat layers until jar is filled ½-inch below rim, finishing with frosting. Seal jars. Draw jack-o’-lantern faces on jars with permanent marker (or cut and paste black construction-paper shapes). Store in fridge up to 1 week.

Buckeyes

Buckeyes

It doesn’t get more American than a buckeye. From Ohio, the Buckeye State, these little gems are meant to look like the nuts that grow on trees in Ohio and across the Midwest. Forgive me, but I use coating chocolate for this recipe, as I don’t think anyone wants to temper chocolate when making such a piece of Americana. Coating chocolate is chocolate that has had the cocoa butter replaced with palm oil so it doesn’t bloom. It’s much easier to work with, especially in a home kitchen. This recipe is super easy and super delicious. Make plenty, because they go fast! —Duff

Makes about 100 buckeyes

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened

  • 1½ cups crunchy peanut butter*

  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup

  • 5 cups powdered sugar

  • Big ol’ pinch of kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 2 pounds dark coating chocolate

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, peanut butter, corn syrup, powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla until smooth. Don’t beat too much air into the mixture. Refrigerate the bowl for 20 minutes.

  2. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Scoop out 1-inch balls of dough, use your clean hands to quickly roll them into smooth balls, and place them on the sheet.

  3. Stick a toothpick in each ball and set the baking sheet in the fridge.

  4. Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a glass or metal bowl set over simmering water.

  5. Holding it by the toothpick, set a ball into the chocolate, coating most but not all of it. You have to leave the buckeye poking out!

  6. Shake off any extra chocolate into the bowl and place the buckeye back on the baking sheet. Repeat to coat the rest of the balls, then return the sheet to the fridge.

  7. Keep the buckeyes cold and store them in a sealed container. You can stack them, but keep wax paper between the layers.

* It’s traditional to use creamy peanut butter; I just prefer chunky. They’re your Buckeyes—you make ’em how you want! But what do I know, I’m from Baltimore! ;)

The Brownie

The Brownie

This is not a brownie recipe. This is THE brownie recipe. Brownies can come in so many different flavors that it’s hard to choose a favorite. Sometimes you want a salted caramel swirl in there, sometimes you want the brownie to be frosted, other times peanut butter chips are absolutely necessary, and other times you just want a warm chocolate brownie. What people do often have a preference about, however, is the texture of their favorite brownie. There are those in the “fudgy” brownie camp, who prefer that ooey-gooey center and a super-bold, rich chocolate flavor. Then there are the “cakey” brownie people. Us Goldmans like ours uncut, all brownie, no nuts.

Makes one 8-inch or 9-inch square pan

  • 1½ sticks (¾ cup) butter

  • 9 ounces bittersweet baking chocolate, chopped

  • 1½ cups granulated sugar

  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons lightly packed brown sugar

  • 3 extra-large eggs plus 2 egg yolks

  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and grease an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan. Lining it with parchment paper is helpful as well.

  2. In a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over a small saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter and bittersweet chocolate together, stirring often to avoid scorching. Set it aside off the heat.

  3. In a big bowl, whisk together the sugars, eggs, and egg yolks. Whisk in the salt and vanilla. Add the melted butter and chocolate to the egg mixture and whisk just to combine.

  4. Gradually stir in the flour and mix until everything is combined and smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips.

  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle displays as much goo on it as you want to see in the middle of those brownies!

  6. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 45 minutes. Brownies need time to set, and if you try to cut them “while they are too warm, they will fall apart and ruin your day. Slice them at room temp or colder, and if you want them warm, just put them in a hot oven for minute or two.

  7. Serve the brownies with ice cream, duh!

Texas Chili

Texas Chili

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ounces dried, whole New Mexico (California), guajillo, or pasilla chiles, or a combination (6 to 8 chiles)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin seed

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Kosher salt

  • 5 tablespoons lard, vegetable oil, or rendered beef suet

  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck, well trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (to yield 2 pounds after trimming)

  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion

  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 cups beef stock , or canned low-sodium beef broth, plus more as needed

  • 2 tablespoons masa harina (corn tortilla flour)

  • 1 tablespoon firmly packed dark brown sugar, plus more as needed

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar, plus more as needed

  • Sour cream

  • Lime wedges

PREPARATION

  1. Place the chiles in a straight-sided large skillet over medium-low heat and gently toast the chiles until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Don’t let them burn or they’ll turn bitter. Place the chiles in a bowl and cover them with very hot water and soak until soft, 15 to 45 minutes, turning once or twice.

  2. Drain the chiles; split them and remove stems and seeds (a brief rinse helps remove seeds, but don’t wash away the flesh). Place the chiles in the bowl of a blender and add the cumin, black pepper, 1 tablespoon salt and 1/4 cup water. Purée the mixture, adding more water as needed (and occasionally scraping down the sides of the blender jar), until a smooth, slightly fluid paste forms (you want to eliminate all but the tiniest bits of skin.) Set the chile paste aside.

  3. Return skillet to medium-high heat and melt 2 tablespoons of the lard. When it begins to smoke, swirl skillet to coat and add half of the beef. Lightly brown on at least two sides, about 3 minutes per side, reducing the heat if the meat threatens to burn. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with 2 more tablespoons of lard and the remaining beef. Reserve.

  4. Let the skillet cool slightly, and place it over medium-low heat. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of lard in the skillet; add the onion and garlic and cook gently for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock plus 2 cups of water and gradually whisk in the masa harina to avoid lumps. Stir in the reserved chile paste, scraping the bottom of the skillet with a spatula to loosen any browned bits. Add the reserved beef (and any juices in the bowl) and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain the barest possible simmer (just a few bubbles breaking the surface) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender but still somewhat firm and 1 1/2 to 2 cups of thickened but still liquid sauce surrounds the cubes of meat, about 2 hours.

  5. Stir in the brown sugar and vinegar thoroughly and add more salt to taste; gently simmer 10 minutes more. At this point, it may look like there is excess sauce. Turn off the heat and let the chili stand for at least 30 minutes, during which time the meat will absorb about half of the remaining sauce in the skillet, leaving the meat bathed in a thick, somewhat fluid sauce. Stir in additional broth or water if the mixture seems too dry. If the mixture seems a bit loose and wet, allow it to simmer a bit more (sometimes we like to partially crush the cubes of beef with the back of a spoon to let them absorb more sauce). Adjust the balance of flavors with a bit of additional salt, sugar, or vinegar, if you like.

  6. Reheat gently and serve in individual bowls with a dollop of sour cream on top and a lime wedge on the side.

Chocolate Babka

Chocolate Babka

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 1 1/4-ounce packet active dry yeast

  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature

  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus a pinch

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

  • Pinch of kosher salt

  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the topping:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour'

  • 3 tablespoons sugar

  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

  • Pinch of kosher salt

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

For finishing:

  • Cooking spray

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 3/4 cup water

Directions

  1. Make the dough: Sprinkle the yeast over the milk in a liquid measuring cup; add a pinch of sugar and set aside until bubbly, about 7 minutes. Combine the flour, the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, the eggs, yeast mixture, salt, vanilla, nutmeg and lemon zest in a large bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead until soft and smooth, about 5 minutes. Knead in the butter in three additions, dusting the dough with flour if it's too sticky. Transfer the dough to a large bowl; cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down the dough, re-cover with plastic wrap and let rise in the fridge overnight.

  2. Make the filling: Heat the sugar, heavy cream and salt in a saucepan until scalding. Pour over the bittersweet chocolate chips, butter and vanilla in a bowl. Whisk until smooth and shiny. Let cool to room temperature.

  3. Make the topping: Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a separate bowl; work in the butter with your fingers until the mixture is sandy and chunky. Stir in the mini chocolate chips; set the topping aside.

  4. Form the loaves: Cut the dough in half with a bench scraper or chef's knife. Using a rolling pin, roll each half into a 12-by-16-inch rectangle. Using an offset spatula, spread the filling on both dough rectangles, all the way to the edges. Starting from a long side, tightly roll each rectangle into a log. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate 15 minutes. Unwrap the logs; cut each in half lengthwise with a bench scraper or chef's knife. Twist the halves together a few times, starting from the middle. Coat two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans with cooking spray and line with parchment, then spray the parchment. Place a dough twist snugly in each pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 1/2 hours.

  5. Finish and bake the babka: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush each loaf with butter and sprinkle with the topping. Bake until browned, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, make some simple syrup: Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan; simmer, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Let cool. Pull the loaves out of the oven and immediately poke a bunch of holes in each with a wooden skewer. Pour 1 1/4 cups simple syrup evenly over the loaves.

  6. Let sit 10 minutes, then remove the babka from the pans, remove the parchment and let cool completely on a rack.

Lemon Chess Pie

Lemon Chess Pie

A true Southern and Colonial staple pie, chess pie is traditionally a somewhat gelatinous filling made unique by the addition of cornmeal. This lemony version is nice and tart and decidedly refreshing. Serve at room temperature with a cup of coffee or a cold glass of milk. My friend Rodney Henry from Dangerously Delicious Pies introduced me to chess pie. That man is the pie master. —Duff

Makes one 9-inch pie

  • ½ recipe Pie Dough (see below)
  • 1 stick (½ cup) butter
  • 2 extra-large eggs plus 6 egg yolks
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
  • 1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
  2. Roll out the pie dough on a floured surface into a 14-inch round that’s ¼ inch thick. Carefully drape the dough over the rolling pin and lay it gently into a 9-inch pie pan, making sure that the pan is completely lined with the dough. Trim and crimp the edge.
  3. Lay a circle of parchment paper and some pie weights or dry beans on the bottom of the crust. Blind bake the crust for 5 minutes, remove the weights, and bake for 4 more minutes, until the crust is a matte blond color. Set aside.
  4. To brown the butter, slowly simmer it in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the solids have separated and lightly browned, taking care not to burn it. Remove it from the heat but make sure it stays melted.
  5. In a large bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and salt, then whisk in (one at a time) the sugars, vanilla, cornmeal, flour, buttermilk, browned butter, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
  6. Pour the mixture into the crust and cover the edges of the crust with foil.
  7. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, until the pie looks mostly set, just slightly jiggly in the very center.
  8. Let it cool completely, then chill it in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Let the pie return to room temperature before slicing and serving.

PIE DOUGH
This here is my pie dough recipe that I’ve been using for almost twenty years. It’s super-basic, super-adaptable, and helps me make awesome pie! You can goof around with it and add flavor and spice and stuff, but the ratios are good, I promise. Also, there’s vinegar in this dough, which keeps the gluten from forming and helps make your dough flaky and tender. If you don’t have vinegar, just squeeze a lemon into the water. If the pie calls for a top and bottom crust, double this recipe. —Duff


Makes enough for one 9-inch single pie crust

  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Big pinch of sugar
  • 1 to 1½ sticks (½ to ¾ cup) cold butter, cubed (1 stick will make prettier pie crust, 1½ will make butterier, more delicious pies)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (nothing distinct like balsamic, but rice wine or distilled white are totally cool) or lemon juice
  1. In a big bowl, combine the flour, salt, and sugar and make a claw with your hand to mix it up real good. Toss in the cold butter cubes and massage them into the flour mixture so you get nice big chunks.
  2. Combine the vinegar with ½ cup cold water (this is called acidulating, which just means adding acid to something . . . usually water). Stir the acidulated water into the flour mixture and gently work the dough until a ball is formed.
  3. Wrap the dough in plastic, squeeze out the air, and chill it in the fridge for at least 1 hour. This also freezes awesome for up to a year.

Brown-Butter Blondies

Brown-Butter Blondies

This recipe is the jam. I have to say that all other blondies pale in comparison. We use it for our blondies at all of my bakeries. Also, learning to brown butter is an amazing tool to have in your culinary arsenal. You'll find it elevates a ton of dishes. —Duff

Makes one 9 x 13-inch pan

  • 3 sticks (1½ cups) butter
  • 3 cups lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  1. First, brown the butter. Place it in a medium saucepan over low heat to cook. Check it after about 10 minutes; it should be a medium-brown color, not too light, not too burned. Once it reaches that color, take it off the heat and let it cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and grease a 9 x 13-inch pan.
  3. In a the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cooled brown butter and brown sugar until creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix, scraping the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix, scraping the sides of the bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until combined.
  4. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake the blondies for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few crumbs stuck to it. (I like these blondies gooey, so I go with a little less time). Let cool completely on a wire rack, then cut them and wrap them individually in plastic wrap so the sides don’t dry out. Store in the freezer or at room temperature.

Options: Add up to ¾ cup of your own ingredients, like pecans, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, or chopped dried cherries and white chocolate chips. Anything goes.

Coconut Meringue Cake

Coconut Meringue Cake

My grandmother lived in Wichita, Kansas, and she could no doubt cook, but she couldn’t bake to save her life. Which is weird, because she was a silversmith and a photographer and had limitless patience. My great-grandmother could bake, my mom can bake, and I’m no slouch, but Nana’s specialty was smokies (small, smoked breakfast sausages popular in the Midwest), and she’d make them in a cast-iron skillet every time we visited her. But one thing she could bake—and did almost every time we’d visit—was this coconut meringue cake. — Duff

Makes one 2-layer, 9-inch round cake

CAKE

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 stick (½ cup) plus 2⅔ tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • ½ teaspoon coconut extract (optional but recommended)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 extra-large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup whole milk

ICING AND GARNISH

  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 extra-large egg whites
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 ounces mini marshmallows
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1¼ cups sweetened shredded coconut
  1. To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350˚F and grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl.
  3. With a hand mixer in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, coconut extract, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks and beat thoroughly.
  4. Add half the dry mixture, then the milk, then the rest of the dry mixture to the butter mixture, beating well and scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  5. In a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites with a whisk until stiff. Gently fold them into the cake batter.
  6. Divide the batter between the pans, scraping all the batter from the bowl with a rubber spatula. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool completely in the pans. Lower the oven “temperature to 325˚F.
  7. To make the icing and garnish: Combine the sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar, salt, marshmallows, remaining ½ cup coconut, and ⅓ cup water in the top of a double boiler. Over simmering water, whisk constantly for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the icing will hold a peak. Remove from the heat, add the orange zest, and whisk until the icing is cooled and thick enough to spread.
  8. Frost with the icing and press the coconut all over the cake.

Pretzels

Pretzels

This recipe is one of my favorites. I love pretzels, and this really embodies the magic of baking for me. It shows that you can make something that you might have thought came from some mysterious place. These pretzels are buttery and delicious, and easy enough for the kids to make, too. Now, real industrial pretzels are dipped in lye for that chewy outside, and it really does make a difference, but do you want to be messing around with lye? I didn’t think so. Remember Fight Club? This recipe uses a much safer solution of baking soda. Let’s just stick with safe, buttery, and awesome. —Duff

Makes 12 to 16 big fat pretzels

FOR THE DOUGH

  • 1 (¼-ounce) envelope active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ stick (¼ cup) butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Olive oil

FOR THE FINISHING

  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 1 stick (½ cup) butter, melted
  • Cooking spray
  • Ramekin of pretzel salt
  1. To make the dough: In a big bowl, mix the yeast, sugar, and 1⅓ cups warm water and let it sit until the yeast blooms, about 7 minutes. Add the butter, salt, egg yolks, and flours and knead the dough until smooth, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Grease the bowl and the dough with a bit of olive oil, set the dough in the bowl, and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Let it rise on top of the fridge or any warm, dry place for 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled in size.
  3. To finish the pretzels: In a saucepan, mix the baking soda and 4 cups warm water until it is milky and then bring to a simmer over low heat.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425˚F, cover four or five baking sheets with parchment paper, and spray them with cooking spray.
  5. Punch down the dough and cut it into 12 to 16 pieces. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Roll out each piece to about 2 feet long and shape into a pretzel (figure it out, I’m not explaining this in words). Dip each pretzel into the simmering baking soda liquid for 30 seconds, flipping once. Remove from the liquid, shake off any excess, and place the pretzel on a prepared baking sheet* using a spider or two wooden spoons. Plan on getting three pretzels per sheet. Lightly flour the pretzels, cover them loosely in plastic wrap, and let them rise for 20 minutes. Gently brush them with melted butter, and use cooking spray to grease any little corners you can’t reach with butter. Sprinkle on the pretzel salt.**
  6. Bake the pretzels until they’re brown. About 8 minutes should do it. Let cool for a few minutes and serve with coarse German mustard.

* This is the same dough I use for pretzel rolls and buns, so if you want to make a roll instead of a pretzel, you’re good. Just finish them as directed and bake at 400˚F for 12 to 15 minutes.

** Salt is awesome on these, but top them with herbs, garlic, cheese, seeds, or anything else you want. Do I smell cinnamon-sugar?

 

Purple Potato Salad

Purple Potato Salad

Fourth of July! America's birthday! Honestly, the 4th is one of my favorite celebrations year-round. The celebration of freedom, our amazing troops,  trying not to blow off a finger with fireworks, and my personal favorite: THE FOOD. This is my go-to dish when someone asks me to bring something. It's a real crowd pleaser. More than enough to pay your ticket to all the ribs and steaks your host is no-doubt preparing for your arrival. 😉 - Duff

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds purple-skinned fingerling potatoes, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 head garlic, halved crosswise
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1/3 cup horseradish, drained
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 4 half-sour dill or sweet pickles, diced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions

Combine the potatoes, garlic, red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1 tablespoon salt in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender but not mushy, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the onion and cook until almost tender, about 1 more minute. Drain, discarding the garlic. Let the potatoes cool.

Whisk the remaining 4 tablespoons vinegar, the sugar and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Mix in the mayonnaise, sour cream and horseradish. Add the celery and pickles, then gently fold in the potatoes and chopped herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

 

Focaccia

Focaccia

Focaccia is a delicious Italian bread that, when done right, is amazing. But unfortunately it’s rarely done right. Focaccia should be thick, with big holes in it. It should be chewy and salty, not mealy. I’ve made thousands of pounds of focaccia as a bread baker in Napa Valley and for Todd English and beyond, and this focaccia will be the best you ever tasted, promise. —Duff

Makes one 11 x 17-inch pan

DOUGH

  • 2 (¼-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • Fine cornmeal for dusting

TOPPINGS

  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup sliced red onion
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  1. To make the dough: In a big bowl, mix the yeast, sugar, and 2 cups warm water and let it sit until it bubbles, about 7 minutes. Add the oil, flours, and salt and mix until sticky and wet. This is a wet dough.
  2. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface (get all the dough out or you’ll have to wash the bowl) and knead by hand for 10 minutes, until smooth and soft but still wet and sticky. Oil the bowl well and place the dough back in the bowl. Cover tightly and let it rise for about 1 hour in a warm spot, like on top of the fridge, or until doubled in size.
  3. Pour a light coating of olive oil onto a half sheet pan or 11 x 17-inch cake pan—you want about  inch of oil on the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle on the cornmeal, as much or as little as you want.
  4. Punch the dough down and turn it out into your pan. Push the dough around so it’s roughly even across the whole pan. Oil the top and let the dough rise for another 30 minutes, or until doubled in size (or the size of my big grape head).
  5. To make the toppings: In a blender, puree the basil with the olive oil.
  6. Preheat the oven to 425˚F.
  7. Don’t punch the dough down, but make a claw with your fingers and poke deep holes all over the dough, going all the way to the bottom. Arrange the onion slices on top, pour on the basil oil, and let the oil settle into the finger holes. Sprinkle the Parmesan and salt all over the dough.
  8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the bread has a good, dark color to it (it could be up to 45 minutes, depending on the thickness and the mood of the bread). Focaccia should be pretty dark, not blond like you see at chain restaurants. Pull the bread out and let it cool. The oil on the bottom of the pan will have boiled and basically deep-fried the bottom, so it should be well browned and crispy when you take it out of the pan. Let cool completely and enjoy at room temp or warmed up in the oven.

Options: You can top the focaccia with anything you like—olives, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, scallions, bacon bits, whatever. Focaccia is the granddaddy of pizza, remember that. Also, remember that different veggies cook for different times, so don’t put garlic on at the beginning—let the bread bake most of the way through and then add it. Garlic is delicious, but burn it and it becomes disgusting. Same thing with anchovies.

Cornbread

Cornbread

My first fine-dining job was working for Chef Cindy Wolf in Baltimore. She took a chance on me when I really didn’t know how to cook, like, at all. She made me bake the cornbread for the restaurant, and it taught me that no matter what you’re doing, do it the best you can. She’ll tell you that I made the best damn cornbread in the state. This is my adaptation of Chef Cindy Wolf’s recipe, but to be honest, every time I open the oven, I’m doing something that Cindy taught me how to do.

Bake these as soon as they’re mixed, because the acid in the buttermilk will set off the baking soda and you want to get the most lift out of your leavening agent. And make your mouth happy and serve with homemade honey butter—roughly a 2:1 ratio of butter to honey, whipped until soft and awesome. —Duff


Makes one 9 x 13-inch pan or 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Big pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 extra-large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375˚F and grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or cake pan, or a 12-cup muffin tin.

  2. In a big bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and buttermilk to a uniform color.

  4. Quickly but gently fold the liquid mixture into the dry mixture. It should be a loose batter, not a dough. If not, add some more buttermilk or even some cream, but just a tad; these ratios are right.

  5. Pour the batter into the pan or divide it among muffin cups and bake for about 22 minutes (15 to 18 minutes for muffins), or until the top is golden and a toothpick comes out somewhat clean. Let cool for 7 minutes, then turn them out upside-down so they develop a nice thin crust on the baked edge.