Saturday, August 9, 2014

Fresh Peach Cobbler with a Biscuit Crust

"The summer night is like a perfection of thought. "

- Wallace Stevens

This is the best cobbler I've ever made. Sometimes I make cobblers and don't blog about them because I'm not in love with them. As a matter of fact, I just threw out the remains of the last one as I put this one in the fridge, this one is already gone, (from being eaten) damn, it's good.

Fresh raspberries from my very own raspberry bushes

I have an affinity for fresh fruit baked with a crust. Crisps, pies, cobblers, I love it all. This cobbler combines the warm, jammy fruit, with a sweet, crumbly, buttery, biscuit like crust. It's the tastiest crust I've ever tried on a cobbler. I'm absolutely smitten with it.

peaches and a few nectarines

Tis the season for fruit desserts. Fresh Summer fruit just might be my favorite thing about the season. As I write this, we have ripe raspberries and blackberries on bushes, and peaches, pears and apples hanging from trees
My fruit after mixing it up with the sugar and flour - I baked this in a 2 1/2 quart Pyrex Cinderella bowl and it was the perfect size

Just before adding the butter to the flour mixture to make the topping - It only calls for a stick and a tablespoon of butter, I didn't use all of the butter in the photo.

After adding the butter cut into pieces

So, clearly, I need a cobbler recipe that I love in my back pocket.

After mixing that butter up into the flour mixture - I used the pastry blender in the photo and then switched to using my hands after I got it cut up good using the pastry blender.

After adding the boiling water - you just need to mix it a few times till it comes together, don't mix it up too much

When we first moved here 7 years ago, we planted a lot of fruit trees. I'm telling you, it feels like it's taken an eternity for them to bear fruit!

Ready for the oven
But I'm super happy they have!  


Right out of the oven - It smells like heaven

I added raspberries to this cobbler, that is why the color is pink. Just because I had them available. (And not to mention that the slightly tart raspberries are the perfect compliment to sweet peaches.) So I have a peach melba cobbler here.

My raspberry bushes

Our Peach Tree

More of my raspberry bushes, I just love them. Thanks Suzanne!

You can use any fruit you'd like. Peaches only, nectarines, plums, berries, cherries, or a combination of a few. Either way, I think you and your family with adore this simple mouthwatering Summer treat!

I hope you're having a fun and relaxing Summer!

Here are a few more summer fruit recipes I love -

Any Fruit Crisp

Double Crust Peach Pie made with Fresh Peaches - This one has a delicious, very flaky, all butter crust.

This vintage Pyrex Sandalwood Cinderella Bowl is available at my Etsy shop, Coco's Kitchen. Where I sell vintage kitchen items and vintage cookbooks. You'll find vintage pots and pans, vintage Pyrex, vintage cake carriers, and lots more!

Did you know? These vintage milk glass Pyrex bowls were made completely different than current day Pyrex. It's the current Pyrex bowls that have had problems with exploding. I've never heard of these vintage opal Pyrex having any problems when baking in the oven. So they not only look prettier, but they are much more solid and well made.

Check out this great collection of Pyrex!

Never miss a post! Follow The Alchemist on Facebook! Or Pinterest

Vintage Embroidered Tablecloth, Mid Century Knowles bowls, and the vintage silverplated spoons, are available at my Etsy shop, House of Lucien.

Fresh Peach Cobbler with a Biscuit Crust

As I mentioned, you can use any stone fruit or berries, or a combination. One peach equals about 1 cup of fruit, or 167 g. so use 6 cups total of fruit.

Ingredients for Cobbler

About 5 large peaches, chopped in large bite size pieces

About 1 cup (167 g.) fresh raspberries

1/2 - 2/3 cup (100 - 165 g.) sugar - if you use raspberries the larger amount of sugar is better, due to the tartness
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice - If you use raspberries I think it's optional - If you use only peaches that are sweet, I think the lemon juice is a good idea

3 Tablespoons Flour

Ingredients for Topping

1 cup (150 g.) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (100 g.) sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 Tablespoons) cold butter, cut into small pieces

1/4 cup (59 ml.) boiling water

Coarse sugar for topping - optional but recommended


Preheat oven to 400 Degrees Fahrenheit, 200 Degrees Celsius, or Gas Mark 6. Start a pot of boiling water.

In a large bowl, with your clean hands, toss together the fruit, sugar, lemon juice (if using) and the flour.

Make the topping. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar,  baking powder, and salt. Add the chopped cold butter and mix together using a pastry blender or 2 knives. I start using my hands after I get it started. Mix it until it's a coarse meal. Add the boiling water and stir until it just comes together. It will come together easily after you add the boiling water.

Drop the topping like biscuits on top of the fruit. Sprinkle the biscuits with coarse sugar.

Bake for 35-40 minutes. Until the top is nice and golden brown. Check the center to make sure the biscuits are cooked through. If they aren't, bake until they are done. If needed, you can place a cookie sheet over the cobbler, so the top won't brown anymore but it will cook the center.

I hope you love this recipe as much as I do! Happy Baking!


Friday, June 27, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

"The great lesson is that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one's daily life, in one's neighbors, friends and family, in one's backyard."    

  - Abraham Maslow     


I love peanut butter. I just love it. Haagen Dazs Chocolate peanut butter ice cream is my go to binge food around a certain time of the month (and their Sea Salt Caramel Gelato, but I digress). So these cupcakes really do it for me. It's hard for me to have these in the house without wanting to eat them all in one sitting. I've been making these for a while now, and they're always a big hit. I can't believe I haven't shared these with you sooner!

Here is my peanut butter cream cheese filling 

I start with my Best Moist Chocolate Cupcake Recipe. These really are the best chocolate cupcakes ever, sorry, they just are. They're light and super moist at the same time. The flavor and the texture is spot on. Then I fill those delicious little morsels with a cream cheese peanut butter filling. A fluffy peanut butter buttercream tops these babies off.

Here are my Best Moist Chocolate Cupcakes, these are the most awesome chocolate cupcakes I've ever had.

So you don't just get a little hint of peanut butter flavor, you get a giant peanut butter blast in your mouth!

This is the tip I used for filling the cupcakes. I used a round tip large enough for the filling to come out of. You can also use a filling tip, you can see a photo of one of those in my Raspberry Filled and Frosted Cupcakes post.

The cream cheese in the filling adds a little tang like cream cheese does. Which pairs perfectly with the creamy and fluffy peanut butter buttercream. All paired up with the yummy chocolatey goodness of the cupcakes.

Here are my cupcakes after being filled

My peanut butter buttercream, nice and fluffy ready to frost my cupcakes

Here's a funny little story. I made these for a client, I had a large cake box filled with them. The lid was closed and I opened the box and, whoosh! A big hit of peanut butter smell took over the air around us. It was wonderful. Peanut butter has a distinct, intoxicating and delicious, very strong smell.

Here is the tip I used, a large star tip, Wilton's 1 M.

If you are in a hurry and don't have time to fill cupcakes, the peanut butter buttercream is really easy to throw together. You can just frost the cupcakes with the buttercream and you will still have something special.
To frost cupcakes start on the outside, going in a circle
The peanut butter buttercream isn't too sweet, like a lot of standard buttercreams. It gets body from not just the powdered sugar, the peanut butter gives it body as well, so you don't need as much powdered sugar to provide that stiffness. If this is important to you, make sure your peanut butter doesn't have sugar in it.

Then as you go around, sort of build up the frosting on top of the first layer, finishing by bringing the frosting into the middle. If you don't like the way it looks, just take a knife and scrape it off, or lift it off, (making sure not to get any crumbs in the frosting,) put it back into the bowl and try again until you like the way it looks.  Practice really does make perfect.

If you have a peanut butter lover in your life you'll need to make these for them. You will seriously blow their little minds!

Like peanut butter but want to use another cupcake? Both the filling and the frosting, or just one of them, would be great with:

The Best Moist and Fluffy White Cupcakes

If you like the banana and peanut butter combination, you could try the frosting with my

Moist Banana Cupcakes

Or the frosting would be great on these dark chocolate little gems

Mini Dark Chocolate Cupcake Bites

Here are my little darlings, Coco and Lucien. They have been enjoying the warm weather and playing outside a lot lately. They especially love chasing birds, squirrels and bunnies. They just chase them. If they actually get close to catching them they just bark at them. Maybe they just think they're playing a fun game with their fury little friends. However, I'm sure the birds, squirrels and bunnies don't feel the same way.

If you didn't already know, I have a second Etsy shop! Coco's Kitchen is where I sell vintage cookbooks and vintage kitchen items. You'll find vintage Le Creuset, vintage Pyrex, vintage Descoware, lots of vintage cookbooks and more!  I add new items all the time, and I would love it if you checked it out, and favorited my shop, and even spread the word, if that's your kind of thing. Thank you so much!

Of course, House of Lucien is my shop where I sell vintage china, vintage glass, collectibles and more, for setting a beautiful table or just adding beauty to your home.

Never miss a post! Follow The Alchemist on Facebook! Or Pinterest

The vintage pink and blue tablecloth, antique Bavaria small plates with pink roses, Hammersley China Cake Stand, vintage silverplated cake server, and the Wexford 2 Tiered Tidbit Stand are available at my Etsy shop, House of Lucien.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

This recipe makes about 25 cupcakes


25 of my Best Moist Chocolate Cupcakes  - Cooled. (that recipe makes over 30 of them so you might have a few more cupcakes than filling or frosting depending on how much frosting you use, etc.)

OR 25 of your favorite chocolate cupcakes

Peanut Butter Filling Ingredients

1/2 cup or 1 stick butter (114 grams), room temperature

1 1/2 cups (354 ml.) smooth peanut butter - I used Adams natural peanut butter that has no added sugar, if you use a peanut butter that has added sugar you might want to use a little less powdered sugar

1 - 8 oz. (226 grams) package cream cheese at cool room temperature

1 3/4 cups (225 g.) powdered sugar

2 tablespoons of milk

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Peanut Butter Buttercream Ingredients

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) (339 g.) butter - room temperature

2 cups creamy peanut butter - I used Adams natural peanut butter that has no added sugar, if you use peanut butter that has sugar in it your frosting will be sweeter. Or use less powdered sugar, but you'll need to use enough to get the frosting to be a good spreading consistency.

3 Tablespoons milk or as needed

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

4 cups (500 g.) powdered sugar

Grated chocolate for topping, optional


Start by making the filling. Beat together the cream cheese and the butter until thoroughly mixed, in a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer. Add the peanut butter and mix again until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and the vanilla.  Mix until well combined. Now check the consistency. If you want the filling a little thinner, add milk a tablespoon at a time to get the consistency that you want.

Set the filling aside, and start the frosting. If you only have one bowl for your stand mixer, then clean it now to make the frosting.

Make the frosting. In the bowl of the stand mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer add the room temperature butter and mix it together until it's broken down and fluffy. Add the peanut butter and mix again until completely mixed and incorporated. Add about half of the powdered sugar and the vanilla and mix again. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and a few tablespoons of milk and mix again until fluffy. Now check the consistency. If it's too tightly held together and not fluffy, add a little more milk and mix again. I probably added maybe 6 tablespoons of milk total to get it really light and fluffy.

Fill the cupcakes -

Spoon this mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a filling tip, (a large long tip used for filling cupcakes) or a round tip big enough to push the filling through . You can see photos of a filling tip in this post, Raspberry Filled and Frosted Cupcakes.
Fill the cupcakes with the filling by pushing the tip 3/4 of the way down the cupcake, squeeze, then slowly lift up to fill the entire inside of the cupcake. I recommend using a test cupcake. Fill one, then cut it open to see if you filled it entirely. If you don't fill it with enough filling, the cupcake could just absorb the filling and not come across as a filled cupcake. Once you do a few and get a hang of it, it will go easy from there. Fill them up good, but don't overfill them. If you overfill them, they burst, or crack open.

Frost the cupcakes. As shown above, I used a large star tip, Wilton's 1M tip. 

Top cupcakes with grated chocolate, if desired. To grate some chocolate, just take a piece of chocolate, (I used a little  Ghirardelli square, because that's what I had laying around.)  Use the small holes of a box grater, or use a Microplane and grate the chocolate onto it. Make sure your chocolate is cool or cold, it needs to be hard and solid, and not melty.

Serve them immediately or within a few hours. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. These are best eaten at room temperature, so if taking them from the fridge, let them sit on the counter for 30 minutes or so before serving.

I hope you love these as much as I do! Happy Baking!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Very Best Carrot Cake Cupcakes Recipe

“It isn't what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”

― Dale Carnegie,   How to Win Friends and Influence People

I am very happy to share this recipe with you. I've been looking for a carrot cake cupcake recipe that I really like for a while now, and the search is finally over!

Whenever I have to use freshly ground nutmeg I grate it onto a piece of paper. That way it's easy to fold up the paper and pour it into my measuring spoon.

If you're going to do something, do it right. This is a sentiment my husband lives by. I admire this about him. He really takes the time to do things right. He's very handy and he does a lot of building around here. He rarely rushes through a job just to get it done. He's all about the details and the craftsmanship. He gives it his best. While I was making these cupcakes I was contemplating this.

Love is in the details. I mean this isn't something I do all the time in every area of my life, I am famous for having a tidy house and dirty closets. I mean who's got time to make sure the closets are clean too?  But I do pay attention to details when baking.

Take the time to soak the raisins

One of the details in this recipe is soaking the raisins. Soaking them makes them nice and plump and juicy. You could even soak them in something fun like bourbon! I soaked them in hot water, but that doesn't mean you have to.

And peel the carrots, it does make a difference.

Another detail in this recipe is peeling the carrots. Taking the time to peel carrots in almost any recipe that includes them is always a good idea in my mind. Carrots are a root vegetable which sits in dirt. Sometimes an unpeeled carrot tastes a little like the ground to me, so I always peel them to uncover their true flavor.

I grate the majority of the carrots (about 3/4 of them) on the small holes of the grater.

I grated these carrots mostly on fine holes of a grater, but I did grate some on a large grate. Just to have a little difference in texture here and there.

I grate the remaining carrots on larger holes. Just so you have a little pop of extra carrot here and there. It is best to use mostly the fine grate, since you do want the carrots to blend into the cake well.

These cupcakes are jammed packed with carrots. In fact I was concerned that it was going to be too many carrots, but all of those carrots work here. I think it works in the way that potatoes work in baked goods. My Moist Chocolate Farmhouse Cake has potatoes in it. And those potatoes take the place of extra flour and keep the baked goods light as well as adding moisture.

After adding the carrots - there is a lot of carrots in this recipe, but not to worry, the texture is amazing.

The flavor of these cupcakes is spot on, with a nice touch of spice. And the texture is just phenomenal. They are light and moist at the same time. With a bit of crunch added from the nuts and a little chew from the raisins.

My finished batter

I frosted these with a brown sugar cream cheese frosting. It's the first time I've made this frosting, and holy cow. Where have you been all of my life, frosting?  This stuff is incredible, with the warm tones of brown sugar, boosted with a bit of molasses in the tangy cream cheese is a perfect match for these cupcakes. I think I'm going to be using this frosting a lot in the future. How about some Moist Banana Cupcakes with brown sugar cream cheese frosting? Or how does this sound, Moist Apple Cupcakes with brown sugar cream cheese frosting? I know! Right!

Ready for the oven
Just thinking about doing things right and giving things my best has made me want to do it in more areas of my life. I mean if I'm taking the time to do something, I might as well be "all in!" You know? Watch out closets, I'm coming for you, and I'm armed with "my best."
The sky when the sun was going down
If you didn't already hear, I've started a second Etsy shop! Coco's Kitchen is where I sell vintage cookbooks and vintage kitchen items. I'm adding new items all the time, and I would love it if you checked it out, and favorited my shop, and even spread the word, if that's your kind of thing. Thank you!

Never miss a post! Follow The Alchemist on Facebook! Or Pinterest

The Very Best Carrot Cake Cupcakes Recipe

This recipe makes about 28 standard sized cupcakes


1 1/2 cups (223 g.) all purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg

1 cup (about 2 1/2 oz. or 71 g.) chopped walnuts - or pecans work well too - if you have nut allergies, go ahead and omit

1/2 cup (64 g. or about 2 1/4 oz.) raisins

1 1/2 cups (315 g.) granulated sugar

3/4 cup (177 ml.) vegetable oil

1/2 cup (118 ml.) sour cream or yogurt - it's best to use a yogurt that has some fat in it, try not to use a nonfat yogurt

2 tsp. vanilla extract

3 eggs

3/4 lb. about 3 cups loosely packed carrots, shredded


shredded carrots  - optional


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, 180 degrees Celsius, Gas Mark 4.

Soak the raisins by pouring hot water over them. Let them sit for about 10 minutes, until they are swollen. Drain them right before using.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the first 8 ingredients, the flour to the nuts, set aside.

In a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, mix the sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs on medium high for 3 minutes. The mixture will be nice and homogenized and creamy looking.  Add the sour cream (or yogurt) shredded carrots and the soaked raisins (drained) and mix well to combine. Add the dry ingredients and mix for just about 1 minute on low, just enough to incorporate it all.

Divide the batter among cupcake lined muffin tins using an ice cream scoop (or a spoon works too)  filling to about 2/3rds to 3/4 of the way full.

Bake for about 19-22 minutes in the preheated oven. Mine took exactly 21 minutes. Make the frosting while your cupcakes are baking.

Let cupcakes cool before frosting.

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

This makes enough frosting to generously pipe frosting onto 28 cupcakes. If you are spreading it on instead of piping, you'll probably have leftover frosting.

What? Cornstarch in frosting? The reason it is there is to give the frosting a little more body instead of adding more powdered sugar and making it even sweeter. Powdered sugar is just sugar with cornstarch added to it. So I've just added a little more.

The molasses is to bump up the flavor of the brown sugar. Brown sugar is just sugar with molasses added to it, so I'm just boosting that flavor up a little more. If you don't have molasses available where you live, just go ahead and leave it out. It doesn't need to be replaced with anything.


2 sticks (1 cup) (226 g.) butter - room temperature

2 - 8 oz. (227 grams) packages cream cheese

5 cups (625 g.) powdered sugar

3 Tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup (108 g.) brown sugar packed

2 Tablespoons vanilla extract

1-2 Tablespoons molasses

pinch of salt


Whisk the cornstarch into the powdered sugar, set aside. Beat together the cream cheese and the room temperature butter. Add everything else and beat well for about 2 minutes in a stand mixer. Pipe or spread the frosting onto cooled cupcakes.

The frosting does keep well in the fridge for a few days. Just bring to cool room temperature and beat before using. It also freezes well for a few months if you wrap it well in an airtight container. Again, just bring to room temperature first, then beat again before using.