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Archive for the ‘Dessert First’ Category

Go Crazy with Psycho Donuts

In by Deanne, Dessert First, Foodies on the Town, Foodies Take-Out/Bring-It-Home on March 26 at 11:58 pm

Do you go insane for donuts, candy, and all things sweet? If you do, then you should be put in a straight-jacket and tossed straight into Psycho Donuts, a donut shop with an insane asylum theme. The entire Psycho Donuts store is decorated with a freakish sensibility, from the twisted, Tim Burton-esque pictures adorning its white walls to its employees dressed in white nurses’ and doctors’ uniforms. There is even a booth with white, padded walls and a box of assorted masks for you to take memorable pictures in like a patient. Of course, one wonders how politically-correct this all is, but the atmosphere is reassuringly colorful and light-hearted.

As for the donuts themselves, it is as if the milquetoast Krispy Kremes we have come to know and love have been manhandled and pumped up with a Frankenstein treatment (in a good way). This means that Psycho Donuts pulls out all the stops when it comes to combining sugary, fried treats with bombastic creativity:

The Kooky Monster: crushed Oreos and white frosting

Feng Shui: green tea frosting with dark chocolate chips!

Key Lime Pie: tastes like the name. A donut with a bit of a sour zing to it.

Crunch Hunch: packed with chunks of Crunch bar!

Manic Malt: crushed malt balls

And my personal favorite…

'Smores: crushed graham crackers on top of marshmallow on top of chocolate icing!

And these are just about the tamest donuts available. If you want to see the zaniest creations (which include the “Headbanger”–a donut that leaks red jelly when you bite into it), log onto to check them all out!

Psycho Donuts is located 2006 S. Winchester Blvd, Campbell, CA 95008.


Karyotype Birthday Brownies

In by Katherine, Dessert First on March 22 at 11:03 pm

My sister, who you may recall was the mastermind behind a certain very famous birthday cake, made these equally nerdy birthday brownies for her friend:

karyotype chromosome birthday brownies cake

My favorite piece is chromosome 23.  I’m just going to go ahead and place an order for one of these at my future baby shower.  Forget those lame diaper cakes; pregnant ladies need chocolate.

Lemon Meringue Pie

In by Katherine, Dessert First on March 20 at 3:55 pm

My dad’s favorite pie is lemon meringue, hands down.  When he was a strapping teenager, he’d mow neighborhood lawns all morning until he earned enough to buy a whole pie, which he would sometimes polish off the same day.

lemon meringue pie

Thankfully his days of beast mode pie-eating are over, because I got to have a slice of the lemon meringue I helped my mom bake last night.

Meringues are essentially egg whites and sugar, whipped until light and airy.  I added vanilla extract to mine for flavor; my mom is far more pro than I and uses thin shreds from whole vanilla beans.  They can be used as a pie topping, made into cookies, or folded into other desserts for added lightness.  For example, THE MACARONS I WILL BE ATTEMPTING TO MAKE THIS BREAK NOM NOM:

macarons lemon

Many meringue recipes call for cream of tartar; it’s not strictly necessary, though it does help to stabilize the meringue, and according to Martha Stewart “mimics the chemical reaction that occurs when egg whites are whisked in a copper bowl” by the really hardcore meringue chefs out there.

Mauviel Copper Beating Bowl williams sonoma

Though they have a reputation for being finicky, a few tricks will ensure a successful meringue. Martha has a plethora of tips for guaranteeing a successful meringue, including preventing beading and weeping of moisture, shrinking, and overbaking.  I’d like to add that to prevent your meringue from shrinking to the center of the pie as it cools, you should:

(a) apply the meringue while the lemon filling is still hot;

(b) seal it all the way to the edge of the crust around the circumference of the pie;

(c) do this sealing in several layers so that if one fails, the others back it up; and

(d) cool your pie as slowly as possible in multiple steps by first turning off the oven, then opening the door to let heat escape, then letting it cool on the counter, then putting it in the refrigerator covered by a protective bubble of foil.

Next time, I think I’ll try taking the pie out of the oven earlier and completing the browning of the meringue with a creme brulee torch.

using a creme brulee torch to brown meringue

My mom baked the crust for our pie because, again, she’s pro.  The recipes for the filling and meringue are from our well-loved 1981 copy of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, an essential part of any kitchen.

Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book

Lemon Meringue Pie

1 1/2 c sugar

3 T cornstarch

3 T all-purpose flour

1 1/2 c water

3 eggs

2 T butter

1/3 c lemon juice

1 baked pastry crust

Meringue for pie* [which you should make after you add the hot filling to the pastry crust]

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch flour, and a dash of salt.  Gradually stir in water.  Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly.  Reduce heat; cook and stir 2 minutes more.  Remove from heat.  Separate egg yolks from whites; set whites aside for meringue.  Beat egg yolks slightly.  Stir about 1 cup of the hot mixture into the beaten yolks.  Return mixture to saucepan; bring to a gentle boil.  Cook and stir 2 minutes more.  Remove from heat.  Stir in butter or margarine.  Gradually stir in lemon juice, mixing well.  Pour hot filling into pastry shell.  Spread meringue over hot filling; seal to edge.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until meringue is golden.  Cool on a wire rack.  Cover; chill to store.  Makes 8 servings.

*Meringue for Pie

3 egg whites

1/2 t vanilla

1/4 t cream of tartar (optional)

6 T sugar

In a small mixer bowl, beat the egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar [BUT NOT THE SUGAR] at medium speed of an electric mixer about 1 minute or until soft peaks form.  Gradually add the sugar, about 1 T at a time, beating at high speed of electric mixer about 4 minutes more or until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks and sugar is dissolved.  Immediately spread meringue over pie, carefully sealing to edge of pastry to prevent shrinkage.  Bake as directed in individual pie recipe.


In by Amy, Cooking for N00bs, Dessert First, This is Why John's Fat. on December 12 at 12:39 am

Cooking time: 35 minutes | Originally enjoyed on: 12/9/2009

A couple of days ago, Katherine and I took a study break from Dead Week to make dozens and dozens of cookies. We used a recipe from Katherine’s mom, who allegedly got it from an Australian family. After, we delivered them to friends, teachers, and neighbors.

Dip shortbread into melted semi-sweet chocolate for an extra-tasty treat.

I’ve never made shortbread, but this recipe was easy and tasty enough, mostly due to copious amounts of BUTTER.

Ingredients (yields 36 cookies):

  • 1 lb plain flour, or about 2 3/4 cup
  • 1 lb butter (4 sticks)
  • 1/2 lb corn starch, or about 1 3/4 cup
  • 1/2 lb icing sugar, or about 1 3/4 cup

You can also vary the amount of ingredients; Katherine’s mom has baked with less butter with successful results.

Mix dry ingredients (flour and corn starch). In a separate bowl, mix together butter and sugar until crumbly. Combine mixtures.

Roll dough into balls and press onto a lined cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Tip: place a pan with some water on a rack underneath the cookie sheet, to prevent burning the bottoms of the cookie.

Afterward, we dipped the cookies into melted chocolate and put them out on the balcony in the freezing cold to let everything set in. You can also roll the cookies in nuts or sprinkles. Make sure you let the cookies cool first, or they might break when you’re decorating them.

Another tip: use a double boiler so the chocolate won’t burn. You can use an actual double boiler, or an improvised one out of two stacked pots–just make sure the top pot with the chocolate doesn’t touch the water; the chocolate should melt by steam alone. Due to a temporary shortage of pots, I used this “fancy contraption”:

Improvised double boiler: one rice cooker, another smaller rice pot, and a netted strainer.

Enjoy! Beware: this cookie crumbles VERY easily — eat in a safe area!

Nadia’s Carrot Cake Cookies

In by Katherine, Dessert First, Uncategorized on December 7 at 9:52 pm

Check out our new Press section above for a roundup of sites featuring our Periodic Table Cupcakes, including Wired, Serious Eats, and the Huffington Post’s blog.  If you’re new to Foodie Friday, welcome!

These delectable desserts put a spin on a classic favorite — carrot cake cookies with cream cheese icing glaze.

There’s something about cinnamon and brown sugar that is just perfect for wintertime.  These carrot cake cookies, developed by Nadia, get their fluffiness from baking soda, and are studded with nuts and raisins.  The zigzag icing glaze drizzled on top makes these a treat for the eyes as well as the mouth.

Nadia has graciously shared her recipe:

1 1/8 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 2 tbs packed brown sugar
1/3 cup plus 2 tbs granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c grated carrot (approximately 2 large carrots)
1 c walnuts, chopped
1/2 c raisins

1. Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
2. Beat together butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla in a bowl with a mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy.
3. Mix in carrots, nuts, and raisins. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
4. Chill dough for at least 1 hour.
5. Drop cookies by tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets. Bake at 375 for 12-16 minutes until cookies are lightly browned.
6. Cool completely on wire racks.
7. Make cream cheese glaze: Beat 2 oz cream cheese and 1 tbsp unsalted butter until combined. Add 1 c sifted powdered sugar and beat until incorporated. Add 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp milk. Beat until smooth. Add more milk if necessary to thin.
8. Spoon glaze into a Ziplock bag and snip off a small hole in the corner. Pipe over cooled cookies and let set. Makes about 2 dozen bit- sized cookies.

Watchmen Cupcakes

In by Katherine, Dessert First on November 29 at 2:23 am

We here at Foodie Friday have been excitedly tracking our 15 minutes of fame on Reddit tonight.  It’s awesome to see everyone’s appreciative comments of the periodic table cupcakes (and speculation about me being a bored housewife).

So you guys like nerdy cupcakes.  You want to see more nerdy cupcakes.  Okay.

Here are some that I made out of fondant for Watchmen.

Watchmen cupcakes

watchmen cupcakes nite owl rorschach dr. manhattan

watchmen cupcakes

Does lightning strike twice?  Regardless, thanks for all the periodic table love.

Periodic Table Cupcakes

In by Katherine, Dessert First on November 27 at 9:36 pm

Edit: Pictures of the Watchmen cupcakes are up for all you cupcake lovers over at Reddit.

I helped my little sister bake these periodic table cupcakes for her birthday party tomorrow.

A periodic table made entirely out of cupcakes.

She’s a chemistry nerd, so everything had to be exactly correct.  Astute chem majors will notice the color-coded icing for solids, liquids, and gases, as well as the empty cupcake liner for as-yet-undiscovered element ununseptium.

(Though when it came time for me to take a picture with the completed cupcakes, she mysteriously could not find her ultra-dorky safety goggles that I wanted to wear for it.)

By the time the flour from the day’s baking had settled, we had emptied 2 bags of powdered sugar, 1 bag of brown sugar, 1 bag of white sugar, 16 eggs, and and 17 sticks of butter.

Shoutouts to Ellie and Marissa for helping with the other metals, metalloids, and nonmetals, as well as to the best four elements on the table: Berkelium, Californium, Lawrencium, and Seaborgium.  Oh, what?  Stanfurdium?  What?  Oh, sorry, there isn’t one.  Boom.

Chemistry cupcakes in the shape of the periodic table.

Old School Pecan Pie

In by Deanne, Cooking for N00bs, Dessert First, The Classic Foodie on November 21 at 10:16 pm

Since Thanksgiving is coming up, it might be helpful to know an ol’ trick or two. This classic pecan pie recipe is from Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook, first published in 1980. Back in its hey day, this cookbook was a huge success and had a definite presence in all family households. So I thought it might be nice to dust off its cover, flip through the pages, and make an era come alive all over again!

Pecan pie fresh out of the oven, with moody urban background

Making pecan pie is surprisingly easy. For this recipe, I used ready-made, unbaked crust (yes, the actual recipe calls for making your own crust. . . but we all cut corners here and there). I whisked 3 eggs, mixed in 1 cup dark corn syrup, a little bit less than 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Whisk well. Then I prepared the nut/crust portion by creating 1 layer of pecan pie in any pattern you would like. Of course I had a little fun first:

A smiling, content pie.

A freaked out pie.

A pie with Cal insignia!!! Go Bears! (in honor of a proper trouncing of Stanford earlier today)

As fun as it is to make designs, you do want to pack as many pecans as you can into one layer, so that it comes out more like this:

Try to arrange the pecans in an aesthetically pleasing pattern

Next, carefully pour in the mixture as to not disturb the pecans’ pattern. Then pop it into the oven (heated 350 degrees) for about 1 hour. Take it out when you stick a knife in 1 inch from the edge and it comes out clean. Cool. Enjoy!


F*ck Stanfurd Cupcakes

In by Katherine, Dessert First on November 21 at 1:49 am

I baked these cupcakes tonight in honor of the Big Game tomorrow.

Fuck Stanfurd

I have to get up early tomorrow for the annual Ink Bowl flag football game between the Daily Cal and Stanford Daily staffs.  The Daily Cal has won the Exacto knife for seven or eight years running since 2003.  After that, I’ll be at the Big Splash (water polo) and then the Big Game.  Go bears!

Good Eats in Boston: Cannoli, Cupcakes and More

In by Amy, Dessert First, The Traveling Foodie on October 14 at 11:28 pm

I recently took a trip to the Boston/Cambridge area, and in addition to witnessing some beautiful scenes of New England foliage, I also made the rounds around the food circuit.

1. L.A. Burdick Chocolate Cafe

Most of my time was spent in eating in the Cambridge area, especially around Harvard Square. If you’re feeling like a hot drink and you’re near Harvard Square, head on over to L.A. Burdick on Brattle Street. It’s a small, narrow shop, with a glass display of delectable chocolates at the front. In the back, you can order an array of drinks. Anna took me here on a particularly blustery day.

Delicious rasberry tart from L.A. Burdick, served with a side of whipped cream.

Delicious raspberry tart from L.A. Burdick, served with a side of whipped cream.

I ordered a dark hot chocolate, and Anna got a chai. The flavor was wonderful–not too sweet. Even the chai wasn’t that bitter, even though Anna steeped it for a while. L.A. Burdick also scores extra points for cute atmosphere and tasty tarts, though its tables are a bit small for proper coffee shop studying/working. A great place for a snack or afternoon coffee/tea.

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