It's the perfect cocktail party. It's a great spin around the bowl with all your favorite ingredients. It's the conversation you didn't even know you wanted to start. Welcome to the Land of Miss Mixer. Things are twinkling, and exciting, and delicious here.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

It's still a winner to me!

Miss Mixer is wandering out of the shadows for a moment to pass along a recipe.  What?  That seems crazy, you say?  We'll see about that.

Once upon a time I entered a recipe contest.  I did not win.  It was an "Adventure" themed contest.  I am not sure that my baking has ever been described as adventurous.  Rustic? Yes.  Delicious?  Definitely.  But there isn't a lot of crazy stuff for my KitchenAid to talk about with the other appliances, I suspect.  So, while there was no prize for me, I came away with this incredible recipe.  Hooray for me!  I have made it for Christmas with an eggnog buttercream.  I have made it for New Year's (twice)!  And, I have made it to just enjoy all-round deliciousness.  It is equally good with Guinness or espresso.  The recipe can be made into cupcakes or an 8-inch round cake, as it turns out.

6 oz. crushed chocolate graham cookies
1 packet Starbucks Via or other fine/gourmet coffee powder
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons Semisweet Chocolate Chips

1 cup flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick butter
1/4 cup (generous) Chocolate Chips/Chunks
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons high-quality vanilla extract
1/2 cup Guinness Stout beer OR 1/2 cup freshly brewed espresso

1 stick butter (room temperature)
3 oz. cream cheese (room temperature)
1.5-2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon buttermilk
½ cup (generous) Chocolate Chunks, melted

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Prepare 16-18 muffin cups with liners, OR prepare nonstick springform pan with butter, OR a buttered, lined 8-inch round pan
Prepare crust for bottom:
Using a food processor, or if crushing by hand a rolling pin and plastic bag, crumble cookies to crumb.  Place crumbs in a small bowl and add packet of Starbucks Via to crumbs and stir.  Melt butter and chocolate chunks together in the microwave.  Start with 30 seconds and stir.  If necessary, microwave another 20 seconds till the butter and chocolate are smooth.  Stir.  Drizzle ¾ of the warm chocolate over the coffee and cookie mixture and stir to combine.  Put enough of the crumb mixture in to just cover each the bottom of the cup, or bottom of pan.  Drizzle a drop of the remaining chocolate over each crust.  Put in the warm oven for 2-3 minutes, then remove pan to cool and set.
Increase oven heat to 350 degrees.
To prepare the cake:  In a large bowl mix flour, sugars, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together.  Make sure it is well combined.
In the microwave (or in a double-boiler, if you prefer) melt a stick of butter with a 1/4 cup of semisweet chunks.  Add butter/chocolate mixture, eggs, and vanilla to dry mixture.  Blend with electric mixer for about one minute, or until well-combined.
If using beer, warm the Guinness stout (or other stout beer, if you like).  If using espresso, brew two shots as you normally would.  Add warm (not hot) beer or espresso to batter in two portions.  After first addition, mix for 20-30 seconds.  It will bubble upon mixing.  Scrape sides, then add the remainder of the beer.  Mix for an additional 30 seconds or until smooth.
Pour batter over crust in each muffin cup or in springform or round pan.  Bake for 13-16 minutes for cupcakes (18-20 minutes for cake) depending on oven.  Cupcakes may have a small dome in the center.  Rotate pan front to back halfway through baking.
Mix butter and cream cheese in a medium-sized bowl with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.  Add powdered sugar, in a couple of additions at a time, to desired sweetness/consistency.   
Using an angled spatula, frost to a swirl on top.  Top with chocolate covered coffee beans, if desired.

Monday, July 4, 2011

I Hate to Get Up in the Morning

I recently received the following query and thought is was important enough to make sure Miss Mixer was heard from again.

Dear Miss Mixer,
I do not like getting up in the morning. I have small children who wake me and lots to do every day. How do I get up early and get going?
Sleepless in Seattle

Dear Sleepless,
There are lots of ways to approach this. Many people would tell you that you should make sure you are going to bed plenty early so that you can be the early birdie getting the proverbial worm. We all know that life doesn't always work that way. Might I suggest this handy system that seems to work for me.

A) Buy an espresso machine (pet peeve: please note, no "x" in espresso). I have a Starbucks' model from many years ago that rocks my world (kind of like this one). We call it "The Daymaker" at The Mixer House. Make sure you know how to use your machine. It will change your life.
B) Buy some espresso roast coffee ground properly for your machine or pods that work in your machine. Starbucks is my favorite, but Stumptown is making a fine showing these days. Do not accept crummy coffee.
C) In this order: Prime your machine, steam your milk (frothing first, then heating though to about 150 degrees), pull some shots (do not let your shots sit around for any amount of time). Finally, put your milk and espresso together.
D) Drink in deeply.
E) Seriously, you are now having a semi-spiritual coffee experience at home. You do not need to go to a coffee shop for an escape and pick-me-up. You have exorcised the exhaustion and you're ready to start the day.

It's not hard to start your day right.

-- More baking challenges and advice coming your way. I think.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ooooh! New Things!

A few weeks ago I bought something. It's just a little something and now I say to myself, "How did I ever live without this?" Ladies and gents, you need a silicone coated whisk. I have used it so many times since I bought it that I literally am not sure how I got anything done before.

Now, Miss Mixer shops in a variety of locations. Usually, I am shopping for a bargain. I suspect you already know this about me, no? Well, I often buy things at the store that hits you like a bullseye. Bargains galore there. But, sometimes you need to step it up. For those occasions there is nothing like the one and only, Crate and Barrel. Seriously, get yourself to C&B. Sure, it's not like they have magical elves inventing and building each and every item there. They aggregate all the best stuff from the best people. And, man are they some great aggregators. There's stuff you can't find anywhere else (melamine citrus reamer, anyone?!), and some you could get elsewhere (Bullseye!), but the shopping experience can't be beat no matter what you get. And what you need to get is a SILICONE WHISK.

I have used it to make brownies, jambalaya, creamy citrus pasta with spinach, chicken pot pie, cornbread, chicken piccata, Jacques Torres cookies, and, I think you get the idea. You can scrape down the sides of bowls, whisk in a hot, non-stick pan. It is amazing. And delicious.

Congratulations on your new whisk!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Let 'em roll...

How Miss Mixer loves a holiday! Tomorrow is Mardi Gras. Mama Mixer was always a big fan of Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday. In fact, Mama Mixer (that's my sainted mother), always loved any holiday where she got to feed people. And she was really, really good at it. I hope to spread a little holiday cheer and some good food any chance I get here in MixerLand.

In honor of the food fest the precedes Ash Wednesday, and the start of the season of Lent, I will be making jambalaya, cornbread muffins, and perhaps New Orleans cheesecake for dessert. And, while I can't have you all over for the goods, here's some suggestions for your own delightful event.

The very best Jambalaya recipe is the one in The Joy of Cooking. It is a true joy. Make your life easier by getting a rotisserie chicken instead of cooking as directed. You must add onion to the recipe. And probably a touch of garlic. Also, don't use boiling water if you have chicken broth on hand-- so much better. If you haven't heard, parsley is awesome. You'll be happy you have it in your house when you buy it for this recipe.

Next tip: Jiffy Cornbread mix rocks. Do not try to reinvent the wheel. The nice people at Jiffy figured it out and you should let them do any and all heavy lifting when given the chance. Make it as directed or add some chopped jalapenos or chiles for a kick. And be sure to not over bake it (perhaps this is just a general rule for life).

Last, but not least: Laissez les bon temps rouler!*

Miss Mixer

*Let the good times roll, y'all!

P.S. Miss Mixer is working on her first baking challenge: The famous Momofuku Crack Pie. It may require a great deal of tasting before I can begin to craft a recipe... It's hard work, but somebody's gotta do it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Every great relationship starts with one good conversation...

... and sometimes an inside joke.

Sometimes throwing the perfect party takes a little more tweaking along the way, right? Well, the first party at Miss Mixer's place is certainly on the way. I hear Patience is a Virtue, so perhaps building virtuosity is part of the mission here in the Mix.

In the meantime, as a gal keen on pop culture, I notice that these little webby worlds are riddled with catch phrases, and particularly abbreviations and initials: lol, rofl, lmao, ttfn... Well, friends always know each others' little jokes and phrases, so I thought I would start our own.

Let's start by being clear that this shall normally be a classy place, and this may not be the classiest phrase going. Hopefully our virtues shall get us through.

jpal: Just Peed A Little-- an appropriate response for when you see, read, or hear something that challenges the fortitude of your bladder. This is the kind of laughter that might make you tinkle. Also appropriate for when you get really exciting news and can, literally, hardly contain yourself. One does not actually have to urinate to use "jpal." In fact, let's hope everyone stays Depends-free in most/all cases (Note: *most* people aren't actually rolling on the floor when they rofl).

There, now you have it: Your own new, fancy slang to share at parties, use on the web, and maybe make you giggle. Mix it around out there and see if you like it. And, now we have our own inside joke! One day we might say, "Remember that time we tried to make 'jpal' work? Whoops." Or we might read the entry for it on Wikipedia together and share a collective guffaw. Or huzzah.

So, let's really get this party started! Is there a pop culture question you are dying to ask? How about advice you are seeking... perhaps Miss Mixer has a pearl of wisdom to share? Would you like to invite Miss Mixer to take a challenge in the kitchen, a baking adventure to take? Just write to The Miss at dear miss mixer at gmail dot com. Questions will be selected at Miss Mixer's discretion. And if your question is selected perhaps you will receive a good answer. Perhaps you will not. In any case, random drawings will occur amongst ALL inquisitors for a special bakery-fresh prize. Mmmmm.

Lots of love,
Miss Mixer