DDD #69 – Vegan 4-Layer Pumpkin – Cheesecake – Chocolate – Pecan Pie

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Click the image below to watch the video.


You can easily eliminate any of the layers without any great loss to the overall deliciousness of this pie – so – give it a try – why don’t you!

 

Please note – this pie needs AT LEAST 6 hours in the fridge (overnight being ideal) before you cut it so making it the day before is best.

INGREDIENTS

Vegan Buttery Pie Crust

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup VERY COLD vegan butter

4-6 TBS VERY COLD water

Chocolate Layer

1/4 cup vegan heavy cream (see heavy cream replacement idea below)

1 cup vegan dark chocolate chips

Cheesecake Layer
8 oz vegan cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 vegan egg (see my egg replacer note below)

Pumpkin Pie Layer
1 2/3 cups unsweetened fresh or canned pumpkin puree
1 cup vegan heavy cream (see heavy cream replacement idea below)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 vegan eggs (See my egg replacer note below)

Pecan Pie Layer
1 cup mix of whole and coarsely chopped pecans
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup light or dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 vegan eggs (See my egg replacer note below)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted vegan butter

Egg Replacer

I pureed 14 ounces of silken tofu & used 1/4 cup of it for each “egg” in the recipe.  You can do this or use your favorite egg replacer.

Heavy Cream Replacer

I used 1 can of full fat coconut milk blended with one can coconut creme.  You can do this or use your own favorite heavy cream.

 

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl or food processor, mix the flour & salt.  Slice the butter up & work it into the flour.  I did this in my food processor by pulsing it until it was all crumbly. Little chunks of butter in the dough are okay.  Add the water a tablespoon at a time until the dough just comes together.  Don’t add so much that it gets sticky or gooey. Wrap in plastic wrap & chill in the fridge while you prepare the pie filling layers.

PECAN – Combine the eggs (see replacer idea above), sugars, melted butter, corn syrup, vanilla extract and salt in a bowl.  Stir in pecans.  Set aside.

CHEESECAKE – In a medium bowl or food processor, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in 1/4 cup sugar, then add vanilla and 1 “egg.” Beat mixture until smooth.  Set aside.

PUMPKIN – In a large bowl or food processor, combine pumpkin puree, heavy cream (replacer idea above), the 2 “eggs,” vanilla extract, sugar, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and salt. Mix thoroughly until uniform.

CHOCOLATE – Melt the chocolate & “heavy cream” in a pan.  Set aside.

 

Roll the dough out on a heavily floured surface.  Flour the top of the crust if it begins to stick to your rolling pin.  Roll it out a few inches larger than your DEEP pie dish. Carefully fold the crust in half twice so it looks like a pie wedge.  Put it in your pie dish & unfold.  Trim the edges if you like & crimp the rim with your fingers.

When oven temperature is at 400 F, line the pie crust with a large sheet of lightly oiled/buttered aluminum foil, buttered side down, covering the edge of the crust so that it doesn’t get too brown. Fill the lined crust with pie weights, dried beans, or raw rice. Bake the pie crust for 10 minutes. Remove the weights and foil. Prick the bottom of the crust well with a fork and bake the crust for another 7 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn golden, but the crust is not fully baked. Cool the pie crust on a wire rack.  Turn oven up to 425 degrees.

 

When the crust is ready, pour the chocolate layer in & freeze for 20 minutes.

Next, pour the cream cheese mixture on top of the chilled chocolate layer, spread evenly, then freeze for about 15 -20 minutes.

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When the oven is 425 degrees, remove the pie shell with cream cheese from the freezer and pour the pumpkin mixture on top of it.  Cover the crust edges with foil & bake the pie for 10 minutes.  Lower heat to 350 & bake another 25-35 minutes or until the pumpkin is beginning to set but is still soft in the center.

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Remove pie from oven and carefully spoon the pecan layer over the pumpkin layer.

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Keeping the edges covered in foil, bake another 60-75 minutes or until the pecan layer is bubbling & set at the edges.  The center can still be soft.

Let it cool & then refrigerate for AT LEAST 6 hours – overnight being ideal.

 

 

 

DDD #29 – Vegan Black Bean Brownies with Peanut Butter Swirl

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Black bean brownies?  Am I to believe my eyes?  Yes & yes!  These babies are amazing & nobody would ever guess that they are flourless & made of canned beans.  Rich & delicious & packed with protein – even the fussiest kids will chow these babies down.

Click the image below for the video & please subscribe to my channel.

Vegan Black Bean Brownies with Peanut Butter Swirl

INGREDIENTS

1 (15 oz) can black beans – drained & rinsed

2 vegan eggs (use your favorite egg replacer)

3 TBS coconut oil

1/2 cup cocoa powder

2 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup agave nectar

1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips plus extra for topping

1/8 – 1/4 cup peanut butter

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, blend all the ingredients except the chocolate chips & peanut butter.

Mix in 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.

Grease an 8×8 baking pan.  Spread the mix in there.  Drop some peanut butter on top and – with a skewer or the tip of a knife – swirl the peanut butter.  Top with some extra chips & then bake for 20-30 minutes or until the top is dry & the edges are separated from the pan.  Allow to cool for about 30 minutes before cutting them.  Refrigerating them will facilitate cutting them up.

Serve & wow the villagers!

 

Chocolate Chip and Fresh Cranberry Bread

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

First order of business – it’s ON!

The Christmas special!

Buy a signed and LETTERED (hence – limited to 26 copies) copy of my book FROM THE LINK BELOW, and get copy of the short on DVD & 3 signed bookplates so you can give three people signed copies as gifts. The cost will be $25 which will include DOMESTIC shipping.

First come – first serve. When the 26 are gone – that is it. Buy ASAP if you want to be sure to get the templates for your gift giving this season!

http://www.bathingandthesinglegirlbook.com/store/p6/Christmas_LIMITED_Special%21.html

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OK, kids – post number two of my four part sweet bread recipes.  These are easy as I don’t get all into whipping butter with sugar & making shit harder than it has to be.  Just stick it all in a bowl, mix it up & bake it.  This one is a crowd-pleaser!  Gorgeous & full of melted chocolate bits.  Mmmmmm!

Chocolate Chip and Fresh Cranberry Bread

INGREDIENTS

2 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)

6 TBS butter – melted

1 cup fresh cranberries

1 cup chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 & grease a loaf pan.

Mix the ingredients up in a large bowl.  Pour into the greased loaf pan.

Bake for about an hour or until it is golden on top & a wooden skewer or toothpick comes out clean when you insert it.

Eat it before anyone sees it.  Pretend it never happened.

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Chocolate, Cheesecake, Pumpkin & Pecan Layered Pie with a Shortening-free Pie Crust

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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(Photo of the slice of pie above is from Parsley, Sage & Sweet)

I am not much of a baker.  I almost never eat sweets & I live alone so – making a pie or a cake just means 1) I get fatter and 2) lots of whatever I made gets thrown away.  The exceptions to this rule are birthdays & holidays.

Last Christmas, I made a Chocolate Cinnamon Cannoli Tart but if you click that link there you will find out how that tart met a violent & untimely end.

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This year, I worked all day on this barely tweaked adaptation of Parsley, Sage & Sweet‘s multi-layered pie & was petrified it would meet a similar fate or that I would drop it getting out of the car or tripping on steps.  I am happy to report that the pie made it all the way to the dessert table but before that happened – this happened:

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That is to say, we ate a LOT of food & consumed even more wine so that, by the time we were cutting into the pie, I was holding one eye closed to keep from seeing two of them.  Two pies, that is.  I was pie-eyed when it was pie time and, thus, took exactly zero photos of the pie once it got sliced up.  So, I have no lush portraits of the interior of this baby but I can tell you – it was delicious.

I can also tell you it took a long time to make but that was due to a number of factors.  1) I made the crust from scratch.  You need not do that.  You could use a ready made crust.  2) I roasted my Halloween pumpkin & made the pumpkin pie layer with fresh pumpkin puree.  This is a very easy step to skip.  Just use some unsweetened, canned pumpkin.  Easier still, use canned pumpkin pie mix.  3) each layer needs to chill, even freeze, before the next layer can be added or it will all blend together.  It will all get blended in your mouth when you eat it so taste is not the concern.  But, if the layers blend, it won’t look like what Parsley, Sage & Sweet achieved up there.

You can easily eliminate any of the layers without any great loss to the overall deliciousness of this pie – so – give it a try – why don’t you!

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Shortening-free Pie Crust

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup VERY COLD butter

4-6 TBS VERY COLD water

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, mix the flour & salt.  Slice the butter up & work it into the flour.  I did this in my food processor by pulsing it until it was all crumbly.  Little chunks of butter in the dough are okay.  Add the water a tablespoon at a time until the dough just comes together.  Don’t add so much that it gets sticky or gooey.  Wrap in plastic wrap & chill while you prepare the pie layers.

When you are ready to assemble the pie, roll the dough out on a heavily floured surface.  Flour the top of the crust if it begins to stick to your rolling pin.  Roll it out a few inches larger than your DEEP pie dish.  Carefully fold the crust in half twice so it looks like a pie wedge.  Put it in your pie dish & unfold.  Trim the edges if you like & crimp the rim with your fingers.  Put this in the freezer & heat your oven to 400 degrees.  From Parsley, Sage & Sweets:

When oven temperature is at 400 F, remove the pie shell from the freezer and line the pie crust with a large sheet of lightly buttered aluminum foil, buttered side down, covering the edge of the crust so that it doesn’t get too brown. Fill the lined crust with pie weights, dried beans, or raw rice. Bake the pie crust for 15 minutes. Remove the weights and foil. Prick the bottom of the crust well with a fork and bake the crust for another 7 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn golden, but the crust is not fully baked. Cool the pie crust on a wire rack while you make the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

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Chocolate, Cheesecake, Pumpkin & Pecan Layered Pie

Chocolate Layer

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1/4 cup heavy cream

Cheesecake Layer
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg

Pumpkin Pie Layer
1 2/3 cups unsweetened fresh or canned pumpkin puree (If using fresh – simply cut up & seed a pumpkin.  Roast at 350 for about 45 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender to a fork.  Puree with just as much water as you need to get it blended smooth.)
1 cup heavy cream (you can use evaporated milk, if you prefer)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Pecan Pie Topping
1 cup mix of whole and coarsely chopped pecans
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup light or dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter

DIRECTIONS

Prepare the crust or use a pre-made one.  My crust was a tad under-cooked – as you see in these photos but it cooked up fine when all was said & done.

If making fresh pumpkin puree – follow directions HERE.  Set aside.

Melt the chocolate & heavy cream in a double boiler (or a smaller pan set in a larger pan with boiling water in it).  When blended & smooth – pour this into the par baked pie crust.  Put this in the freezer for about 20 minutes.

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in 1/4 cup sugar, then add vanilla and 1 egg. Beat mixture until smooth.

Next, pour the cream cheese mixture on top of the chilled chocolate layer, spread evenly, then freeze for about 15 -20 minutes.

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In the mean time, in a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, heavy cream, the 2 lightly beaten eggs, vanilla extract, sugar, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and salt. Mix thoroughly until uniform.

Remove the pie shell with cream cheese from the freezer and pour the pumpkin mixture on top of it. Freeze for 15 to 20 minutes.

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Combine the eggs, sugars, melted butter, corn syrup, vanilla extract and salt in a bowl.  Stir in pecans.  Remove pie from freezer and carefully spoon the pecan layer over the pumpkin layer.

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Place pie on the middle rack of your preheated oven.  Cover edges of crust with aluminum foil or a pie crust shield if browning too quickly, but you will eventually have to cover it  to prevent excess browning some time toward the end.  Keep checking every 20 minutes.

Bake in 350 degree F oven for about 60 to 75 minutes.  It really depends on your oven.  The the pecan pie topping should be dark and bubbling a bit.

And – once you’ve done all this work – be sure to get some good photographs of the results before succumbing to your alcoholic desires!  You will want to remember this baby!

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Spicy Chili Chocolate Cake & Fine Dining in Montecito, California

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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OK – I will apologize up front for the lame photos of the chili chocolate cake.  I hope the photos of my Montecito trip make up for it a tiny bit.

This chili chocolate cake is just stupid easy & really dense – like a flourless cake – despite the fact that it is flour-based.  I stole the recipe from Bake-aholic.com (their version & photo below)

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and just used my Fireball frosting from the Fireball Whiskey Cupcakes I made the same day I made this cake.

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My cake seemed far more dense than their appears but it was rather yummy.

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Here is their recipe for

Chili & Chocolate Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk (you know I never plan ahead…1 T of vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup…add milk to the 1 cup mark.  let sit 5 minutes to curdle)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup hot hot water

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray a 13″x9″ baking pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt, sugar, soda, cinnamon and cayenne (start with 1/4 tsp cayenne…you can adjust when the batter is all combined). Add in oil, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Stir gently. Add hot water. Pour into pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Frosting:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4-6 T milk

Beat butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar gradually, add vanilla and cinnamon. Add milk and beat until you attain your desired consistency (I generally start with 4 T [1/4 cup] then add 1 T at a time).  Frost cooled cake. (This frosting is also delicious on graham crackers.)

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This weekend marked my second anniversary with the badass, Miles Miller.  I had an available dog sitter so we took the opportunity & escaped for a night to Montecito.  Montecito is the wealthy town just south of Santa Barbara.  I used to go there all the time & have a few favorite spots but I hadn’t been in over a decade – so – returning to those old favorite haunts had a distinct element of risk.  Not every restaurant can maintain its quality for twenty years.  Since I chose the destinations – all the responsibility was on my shoulders and I was a bit nervous.  But one place I was fairly certain would have maintained its allure is the Four Seasons Biltmore up there on the beach.  Unable to afford to actually stay there – I decided we could certainly afford to lunch there – so that was our first stop.

We sauntered into the hotel around noon & went to their restaurant there – Bella Vista.

“Are you joining us for brunch?”

I looked at Miles who shrugged and then answered, “I don’t see why not.”

But I could see why not.  I am not a brunch fan & I am especially not a brunch buffet fan.  Omelette bars & tables of pastries are of no interest to me – not to mention that most buffets are excessively littered with meat options.  Not only am I not a meat eater but, recently, I decided to stop eating seafood (because of the radiation they are finding in it from Fukishima – read HERE).  WTF else is there on a buffet for me?

But, we committed & I decided to make the best of it.  The bottomless champagne promised to take the edge off whatever disappointment lay ahead for me.  And look how pretty the joynt is.

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I tried to console myself with the thought that a high end buffet would, at least, have lots of options that would please my nearly purely carnivorous boyfriend.  I sipped champagne.  I looked around.  I thought, “This does not suck.”  Because it didn’t – no matter what I ended up eating.  And look at how cute Miles is!

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Then I wandered into the buffet room.  It was truly a wonderland of options.  The Biltmore does not fuck around & this buffet proved to be the finest I had ever seen.  Sure, there was bacon & sausage & homemade hash & rare lamb chops & prime rib & steak salad & chicken salad and, really, every meat option you can imagine and there was a wall lined with every variety of sweet thing on Earth.  There was the requisite omelette bar & the bagels & lox & all the other things you might expect.  Initially, I loaded a pile of mashed potatoes on my plate, still determined to go vegetarian – until I lifted the lid on the shrimp & grits.  Oh fuck.  I adore grits & radiation cancer or not – I was going to have some of that shrimpy goodness.  As I spooned a bit on my plate – I spied huge hunks of lobster in the grits, too.  It was about then that I apparently went into some kind of seafood-frenzy black-out.  Photos of my first plate reveal these selections:

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Mashed potatoes, seafood grits, CAVIAR (I could live on caviar) with all the traditional accoutrements, two oysters & a shrimp.

My return to the buffet resulted in this selection:

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That, if you cannot tell, is a small selection of sushi, a tiny piece of smoked salmon, oysters, a shrimp & a SCANDALOUS portion of caviar that, as you might observe, I tried to obscure beneath the little bowl of soy sauce & wasabi.  There are eight blini there so that gives you some idea of the greed I exhibited.  I could have just stood there at the buffet & smeared it all over my face as I scraped the entire quantity offered into my mouth with a cupped palm – whilst growling at anybody unwise enough to approach me.  But that seemed rather classless so I just took about an entire ounce of the black gold and the desired extras (egg & creme fraiche etc) and rejoined Miles at our table & grunted, “This does NOT SUCK” repeatedly as I swilled the free-flowing champagne & licked caviar from my fingers.

Sometimes I’m not safe in public.  God bless Miles for loving me.

Properly sated – we braced for the bill.  Miles guessed the cost would be high & guessed $50 each.  I feared it would be closer to $125 each.  Or more.  After all – there was BOTTOMLESS CAVIAR & the champagne was not sweet & gross and it, too, was bottomless.  I think Miles threw up in his mouth a bit when the bill turned out to be just under $200 with tip but I knew we had dodged a bullet.  And I still had caviar running down my chin like a goatee – so I was good with it all.

So – I dragged him across the street to the beach.  Here is a peek at that loveliness.

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So – we checked into the hotel – the Montecito Inn – and clicked on the fireplace.

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Ah, romance.  A bubble bath in the jacuzzi tub & a stint watching Crib’s Most Expensive Homes & it was time to get back to the eating & drinking.

A single cocktail next door at Lucky’s

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and it was time to go to one of my favorite restaurants anywhere – Pane e Vino.  The pressure was kind of off me by the time we got there because lunch had been such a success but I still sweated it out a bit until Miles declared his bolognese with spinach noodles to be delightful.  He hadn’t been as pleased with a similar dish the night before at LA’s Bottega Louie – so I really was worried.  My homemade pasta with mushrooms was insane.  Hard to photograph but not hard to shovel into my face.

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The ride back & forth, by the way, was provided by the AWESOME Uber service.  Uber is a car service that you summon with an app on your phone.  You simply provide a credit card to them when you sign up & all the fees & tips etc are handled that way.  No cash.  And the drivers (for UberX – the least expensive of their three car options) drive their own car.  Cheaper & easier than a taxi service & you can request a fare estimate before pulling the trigger & calling for an Uber pick up.  I recommend it VERY highly.  And here is a little discount for your first ride.

Use my Uber promo code, 4hmyy, and get $10 off your first Uber ride.

Before we went to bed, I received this pathetic image of my two sons – huddled in despair because of my absence.  They can really work up a pity party when they are motivated.  Silly kids.

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The next day before we headed home to reunited with the doggies – we stopped at Cava in Montecito.  It was a gorgeous day & we sat outside on the patio.  We nibbled on chips & salsa.

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Miles ordered a beer & fajitas.

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I got a huge portion of guacamole, a Bloody Mary & (back on the seafood wagon) – the chile relleno.

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All were delicious though the chile relleno, as you can see, was served as almost a soup.  I have never seen it served that way before but it was very tasty.

And that, as they say, was that.

Try both the Chili Chocolate cake & try Montecito when you can.  And save up for that GD brunch buffet.  You could not possibly regret it!

If Los Angeles is your destination – the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills has a great dining spot, too.  Culina!  Check out my CRAZY experience there – HERE.

Reese’s Brownie Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting & Salted Caramel and Brownie Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache, Raspberries & Cream

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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OK, kiddies, it was my friend Alyse’s birthday this week & I hosted a little dinner for her.  And I made CUPCAKES!  I seldom eat dessert foods myself – mainly because I prefer to get my sugar from a wine glass – so I have posted precious few dessert recipes.   But a birthday certainly called for a dessert item so I seized the opportunity.  Please know, I am not part of this whole cupcake craze but cupcakes really are a superior choice for birthdays (in my opinion) as they are a reasonable serving size & you can kinda mix up the flavors a bit more than one can with a cake.  And they travel easily.

For these guys, I had a huge, industrial-sized box of brownie mix:

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Then I went to store & bought everything I could think of that I might want to use for brownies including eggs & powdered sugar & cream cheese & pudding & jimmies & sprinkles & raspberries & marshmallows & marshmallow fluff & Reese’s Cups & two kinds of frosting etc etc.   Then I realized I was only feeding four people so there was no need to make 4372 cupcakes.  After some consideration, I elected to make the cupcakes from the brownie mix – and chose to top some with peanut butter frosting & drizzle caramel sauce on them & salt them.  Others – I filled with a marshmallow fluff center & a raspberry inside & atop the chocolate ganache frosting.   Unfortunately – the one cupcake I cut into for the photos had an anemic amount of cream – or maybe the cream was inserted off-center so it is hiding in the photo.

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But know – I sent the bulk of these cupcakes home with my friend Rose for her teenage sons & I saw a photo she took of one & the center was creamy, indeed.   Here is that photo:

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All I know is, I injected a bunch of cream in them & then they settled – leaving a gap in their volcano openings – so I rammed a raspberry inside each of them.  Indelicate but delicious!

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Reese’s Brownie Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting & Salted Caramel

INGREDIENTS

Brownie mix (be sure to have the eggs & oil you need as per the box)

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (I used full-sized)

Caramel sauce (from the ice cream aisle)

Course salt

Peanuts – for garnish

For the peanut butter frosting

1/2 cup peanut butter (I used chunky)

1/2 cup butter (or lard or shortening)

2 TBS milk

1 tsp vanilla

2-3 cups powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS

Make the brownie mix as per box.

For the frosting – blend all but the powdered sugar ( I did this in my food processor).  Then I added the sugar.  Start with 2 cups & test for sweetness.  Add more – if you think it should be sweeter.

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To assemble, I lined a cupcake pan with liners, put a tiny dollop of brownie batter to just cover the bottoms, put a Reese’s Cup in each & then topped with more brownie batter.  Bake them according to box instructions.  Then, frost them with the peanut butter frosting.  Drizzle the caramel on them, lightly salt them & top with a peanut.  Put them on the ground and roll around on them naked.

Or serve them to your friends.  Your call.

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Brownie Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache, Raspberries & Cream

INGREDIENTS

Brownie mix (be sure to have the eggs & oil you need as per the box)

Raspberries

7 ounce jar of marshmallow fluff

4 TBS butter

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp water

1/4 tsp salt

For the ganache

1 cup chocolate chips (dark chocolate is nicer but I used semi-sweet milk chocolate)

3/4 cup heavy cream

DIRECTIONS

Make the brownie mix as per box.  Bake them as directed.

To make the cream filling, dissolve the salt in 1 tsp hot water.  Blend the fluff, butter, powdered sugar, salted water, and vanilla.  I did this in my food processor.  I then put this in a Ziplock bag & cut a corner out.  I used this as a make-shift pastry bag.  A real pastry bag would be great, too.

When the brownies are done & cooled a bit, use a paring knife & create little cavities in their centers.

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Squeeze some cream filling into each.  Fill to the top & let rest a bit.  If the cream settles – either add more cream or shove a raspberry in there like the killer on Twin Peaks used to shove a tiny letter under the fingernail of his/her victims (remember that?).

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Over low heat, melt the chocolate chips.  A double boiler is best for this but I was lazy.  I melted them a bit & then just added the heavy cream & whisked it all together.

Dip the cupcakes into the ganache & then top with another raspberry.  Voila!

These are also good to roll around on nude but that can get awkward at a birthday party.  Maybe just stick them all on a tray & serve them the traditional way.

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Peppermint Bark ~ Almond Bark & Peppermint Brownies

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

Follow @celisemccarthy

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This hardly counts as a recipe but I am posting it anyway.  I made this stuff to bring as gifts to the various folks that hosted me over the holidays.  Among those I had the great pleasure to see this season was the always outrageously warm Mahoney family.  Mark Mahoney is a fellow Boston transplant and, quite possibly, the single coolest person on Earth.  The hospitality this entire family extends feels like a bear hug & I have been lucky enough to be embraced this way on several major holidays – including this Christmas eve.  Here is a peek into the kindness & cool Mark offers at his tattoo shop up on the Sunset Strip.

Anyway – to make the brownies – I just used a boxed Ghiradelli mix.  I then tried to top them with white chocolate (simply white chocolate chips melted down in a double boiler with a drop or two of peppermint extract added and maybe a tablespoon of oil).

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Unfortunately – I attempted this before the brownies had cooled sufficiently & the white chocolate sorta just ripped the tops off the brownies & made a bit of a mess.  This was exacerbated by the fact that I had deliberately under-cooked the brownies so that they’d be extra moist.  Some finagling got a decent portion of brownie topped with white chocolate & I then pressed peppermint candy (that I had crushed in a zip lock bag with my rolling pin) into the chocolate.  In the future – I recommend using a white frosting blended with a drop or two of peppermint.  The white chocolate was a hassle.

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As to the almond & peppermint bark – all I did was toast up some almonds in a dry pan & then crushed them a bit in a bag using my rolling pin.

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I melted chocolate chips (like 3 pounds!) in a double boiler with a little (a TBS?) of oil.

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I mixed some of the chocolate with the toasted almonds & used a spatula to spread it on a nonstick pizza pan & put it in the fridge until it set.  Then I simply lifted it from the pan & broke it up – or cut it – into chunks.

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For the peppermint bark – I set out some wax paper & then spread melted chocolate on it.

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I don’t like white chocolate so I pressed some crushed mints into a portion of the chocolate & let that set.  When this was cooled & set, I layered melted white chocolate (with peppermint extract) on the portion I had not put crushed candy on & then pressed crushed mints into that portion.  I let that cool completely & then either broke or cut it all up into pieces. That’s all there is to it.  You could add other nuts or marshmallows or whatever to your chocolate.  Easy peasy!

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