Author Archives: Liz {E2 Bakes Brooklyn}

About Liz {E2 Bakes Brooklyn}

I'm a blogger, freelance baker, and recipe developer in South Brooklyn.

15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese

15 Minute Stovetop Mac & CheeseWhen I first moved to New York and was in grad school, I spent a lot of time on student film sets. It didn’t take long for me to get bored with that situation because it turns out that I find the repetitive hurry-up-and-wait of being on set to be utterly dull. I like screenwriting and production design, but with the way the course (and life) worked, I couldn’t be in charge of those things on every shoot.15 Minute Stovetop Mac & CheeseUnfortunately though, I’m not gifted with much else in that realm. I’m not confident enough to direct. I like to act, but was/am too timid to pursue it in any real way. My hearing is terrible, so sound is out. My arms aren’t strong enough to hold the boom mic for very long. Editing is just a “no.” The list of disqualifications goes on and on, save for one notable exception: I can cook. And so it was that the majority of my production course credits came from being craft services, a.k.a. the on-set caterer.15 Minute Stovetop Mac & CheeseNow, being “crafty” for a student film isn’t the same as what you see when you spot film shoots on the streets of New York. Not even close. I didn’t have a truck or a crew; there was no oven or microwave. I was limited to what I could make in my Upper West Side apartment and transport in a cooler and what I could prepare on-set on a single electric burner. Oh, and it had to be cheap. Options were extremely limited—there were a lot of prepared salads and sandwiches—but my 15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese was always a crowd pleaser.15 Minute Stovetop Mac & CheeseI mean, what’s not to love? This macaroni & cheese has all the cheesy flavor and creamy texture you want, but is less than half the work of most traditional recipes. Where those often require a pot, a pan, a roux, making a mornay sauce, and probably an oven, this recipe requires almost none of that…but it still delivers big-time.15 Minute Stovetop Mac & CheeseIt also requires just six ingredients (seven, if you want to garnish with parsley) and two of them are salt and pepper. Whaaaaat. Since 15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese is a from-scratch recipe, it will cost a few dollars more than the stuff in the blue box, but it’s also infinitely tastier. I’ll take real melted cheese over reconstituted powdered cheese any day. It’s not even a contest.15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese15 Minute Stovetop Mac & CheeseThis recipe really does comes together in fifteen minutes, so it’s ideal for busy weeknights or filling a craving or feeding a bunch of student filmmakers on the fly.

  • Set a pot of water to boil.
  • Grate the cheddar and cut the cream cheese into pieces.
  • Boil and strain the macaroni. Return it to the pot.
  • Stir in the cheeses, a touch of dijon mustard, and salt & pepper. Loosen the sauce up with a little pasta water if you like.

That’s literally it. The entire recipe. Boom. Done. Finito.15 Minute Stovetop Mac & CheeseRight now, you’re just one pot, four steps, six ingredients, and fifteen minutes away from diving fork-first into a bowl of creamy, cheesy magic. What are you waiting for?!15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese

15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese
makes 6-8 servings

16 ounces (1 pound or 4 cups) dry elbow macaroni noodles
12 ounces freshly grated cheese of choice (I like extra sharp cheddar)
6 ounces (3/4 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon prepared dijon mustard
1/2-1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1/4-1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
parsley, to garnish (optional)

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Season well with salt. Prepare elbow macaroni according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the starchy cooking liquid.

Return cooked macaroni to the pot. Fold in grated cheese. Add cream cheese, stirring until melted. Add splashes of reserved starchy pasta cooking liquid until desired consistency is reached. Stir in dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning. Garnish with parsley, if desired, and serve.

Mac & Cheese is best fresh, but leftovers may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese

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Marble Bundt Cake

Marble Bundt CakeOh, hello.Marble Bundt CakeAre you also distracted by the undeniable beauty of this Marble Bundt Cake?Marble Bundt CakeWait til you find out how delicious it is.Marble Bundt CakeAnd how incredibly easy it is to make.Marble Bundt CakeMarble Bundt CakeOne batter, two bowls, ten minutes to mix 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻 Marble Bundt CakeMarble Bundt CakeMarble Bundt CakeMarble Bundt CakeA little over an hour in the oven…Marble Bundt CakeMarble Bundt Cakeand a thick blanket of ganache later…Marble Bundt CakeMarble Bundt Cakeyou have a Marble Bundt Cake that will put any coffee shop fare to shame. Shame, I tell you.Marble Bundt CakeBetween the dense, buttery crumb…Marble Bundt Cakeand chocolate marbling that actually tastes like chocolate…Marble Bundt Cakeit doesn’t get much better than this.Marble Bundt Cake

Marble Bundt Cake
makes one 10-12 cup capacity bundt cake

Cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 16 pieces
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk (preferably whole), room temperature
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Ganache:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 325F. Heavily grease a bundt pan with softened butter (or shortening) and dust with flour. Set aside.

Make the cake. Combine flour, baking powder, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, salt, butter, eggs, vanilla, and milk in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to mix on low for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes. Batter will be thick. Set aside.

Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30 second increments in the microwave, stirring in between, until melted. This may also be done in a double boiler.

Transfer 1 1/2 cups of batter into the bowl with the melted chocolate. Use a fork and/or silicone spatula to combine the two.

Transfer remaining batter to prepared pan and smooth the top with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Dollop chocolate batter over the top and use a thin knife or skewer to lightly marble it in. Bake 65-75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in several places comes out clean.

Let cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a thin, flexible knife around all exposed edges. Invert cake onto a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Make ganache. Place chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it is steaming and bubbles are forming at the edge.

Pour warm cream over chopped chocolate. Do not stir. Cover bowl with a lid or aluminum foil for 5 minutes. Remove lid/foil. Starting in the center of the bowl and stirring your way toward the edge, use a fork to stir until chocolate and cream are combined and smooth.

Place cake (still on the rack) over a rimmed baking sheet.

Spoon/pour ganache over the top. Let set for 15-20 minutes before removing to a serving plate, slicing and serving.

Leftover cake will keep covered at room temperature for two days or in the refrigerator for up to five.
Marble Bundt CakeMarble Bundt Cake

Sriracha Cracker Jack

Sriracha Cracker JackI frequently joke that the Texas Rangers baseball team is partially responsible for my birth. It’s funny because it’s true.Sriracha Cracker JackYou see, my parents’ first date was to a Texas Rangers baseball game in May of 1981. When they entered the ballpark, my mom told my dad that she needed a program. He bought her one, assuming that she wanted a souvenir, but he realized he was wrong when she pulled out a pencil and began properly scoring the game on the grid in the middle. My dad had never met a woman who knew how to do that. Now, three daughters later, he knows four.Sriracha Cracker JackMy parents were married just under two years after that first game and have had season tickets for the Texas Rangers ever since. It will come as no surprise that they raised children who love baseball, too. All of us cheer for the Rangers with great enthusiasm, even when they are terrible, which has been a lot. Sriracha Cracker JackBut. But! Tomorrow is Opening Day at Globe Life Park—the last at that ballpark—so we all have hope that the next 162 games will take our team somewhere great. The stats are not exactly in our favor, but it’s hard *not* to have hope on the day before the season starts. I will likely be singing a different tune when the playoffs begin at the end of September, but until then, I’m going to root-root-root for my home team. If they don’t win, it’s a shame 🎶 Sriracha Cracker Jack I won’t ask you to buy me peanuts and Cracker Jack though, because Cracker Jack already has peanuts in it—why would I want more?—and because I’ve started making this Sriracha Cracker Jack, which is the perfect accompaniment for watching Texas Rangers games from the comfort of my Brooklyn bedroom.Sriracha Cracker JackThis stuff is so good, y’all. It’s the classic Cracker Jack combination of crispy popcorn and crunchy peanuts, but with a good dose of sriracha added to the traditional molasses caramel coating!Sriracha Cracker JackSriracha Cracker JackSriracha Cracker JackSriracha Cracker JackI used my Salty Maple Caramel Corn recipe as a jumping-off point for this recipe, swapping the maple for honey and a touch of molasses, reducing the sweetener overall, and adding 1/4 cup of salty, spicy, garlicky sriracha to the mix. Yesssss.Sriracha Cracker JackSriracha Cracker JackSriracha Cracker JackSriracha Cracker JackThe caramel comes together in five minutes before being tossed with freshly-popped popcorn and salted peanuts and baked at a low temperature for an hour. Once the Sriracha Cracker Jack has cooled, the coating will be glossy and glass-like—this makes for super satisfying munching.Sriracha Cracker JackSriracha Cracker Jack is crispy, crunchy, sweet, spicy, and a little savory—the best of all snack food worlds. It’s perfect for watching baseball, of course, but I think it’d be a great snack for parties and road trips, too.Sriracha Cracker JackReally, anytime you choose to whip up a batch, it’s guaranteed to be a home run ⚾️ Sriracha Cracker Jack

Sriracha Cracker Jack
makes 12 cups

1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil
3/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
1 1/2 cups roasted salted peanuts
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup mild honey
1 tablespoon molasses (not blackstrap)
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, sliced into 8 pieces
3 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sriracha hot chili sauce

Pour oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add 4-5 popcorn kernels. Heat over medium heat until kernels begin to pop. Add remaining kernels and cover with lid, leaving it a little bit ajar. Jostle constantly while popcorn pops, until pops are 2-3 seconds apart. Do not burn.

Remove pot from heat and pour popcorn into a bowl. Measure popcorn to ensure there are 12 cups. Set aside excess or pop more, as needed to meet the 12-cup requirement for this recipe. Add peanuts to popcorn.

Preheat oven to 250F. Heavily grease two rimmed sheet pans, your largest mixing bowl, and 2 silicone spatulas with oil or non-stick spray. Put popped popcorn in the bowl. Set aside.

Without stirring or jostling, combine sugar, honey, molasses, salt, butter and water in a 4-quart pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Let boil 5 minutes. Do not stir. Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda; mixture will bubble up. Stir in sriracha.

Pour sriracha caramel over popcorn and use greased spatulas to toss together. Do not touch any coated pieces that fly out of the bowl—the molten sugar will burn you. Wait til they cool a bit before picking them up.

Divide coated popcorn/peanuts among sheet pans. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Line a sheet pan or a surface with parchment. Pour baked Cracker Jack on top. Let cool to room temperature. Break up clumps. Serve.

Leftover Sriracha Cracker Jack will keep in a ziptop bag for a couple of weeks.Sriracha Cracker JackSriracha Cracker Jack

Coconut Cluster Brownies

Coconut Cluster BrowniesWhen I moved in with my roommate, I thought it would be a short-term deal. We were friendly, but didn’t know each other particularly well, and I honestly didn’t think we’d get along in close quarters—the original plan was that I’d live here for six months or so while I recovered from the end of a relationship.Coconut Cluster BrowniesFlash forward three years and I’m still here, living with the same guy. Turns out that an obsessive baker who mostly wears pajamas and a neat freak can, in fact, live in peace. And make each other laugh really hard.Coconut Cluster BrowniesBefore I get to the point and why this is relevant to Coconut Cluster Brownies, I have to say that this is not some sort of romantic announcement. Hahahahahaha absolutely not.Coconut Cluster BrowniesBut let me confuse you further by telling you that he got me a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day. It wasn’t a romantic gesture. We get each other things all the time—I sometimes make Super Sprinkle Sugar Cookies just because I know he likes them and I regularly find new jars of peanut butter on my baking bench because he sees them on sale and knows I’ll put them to use. In the case of the Valentine’s candy, we both happen to have a thing for cheap drugstore chocolate. High brow, we are not.Coconut Cluster BrowniesThe small Whitman’s Sampler that I received only had a few pieces in it, and I immediately determined the order in which I would eat them, one at a time, over the next few days. The caramel went first, followed by the buttercream and the ganache. The last one, the candy that I was the least excited about, was the Coconut Cluster. It was shaped like a peanut butter cup, but instead of being a filling enrobed in chocolate, it was a block of milk chocolate speckled with bits of coconut. As I went to eat it so I could toss the heart-shaped box, I didn’t expect much, but then I popped it into my mouth and suddenly became obsessed with putting this rich, simple chocolate-coconut combination on a brownie. And so, a month later, I did.Coconut Cluster BrowniesCoconut Cluster BrowniesCoconut Cluster BrowniesThese Coconut Cluster Brownies are nothing more than my favorite Cocoa Brownies topped with a layer of milk chocolate coconut candy. The brownie layer is rich and chewy with a touch of salt, while the candy layer is chocolaty, coconutty and slightly soft from the addition of a few tablespoons of butter. They’re great at room temperature, but if you chill the brownies, the candy gets a little on the snappy side. This is heaven for a texture freak like me.Coconut Cluster BrowniesIf you love chocolate, coconut, and brownies like I do, you will want to hoard all of these for yourself…Coconut Cluster Brownies…but maybe set one or two or four aside for your friend who puts up with your late night baking and knows you well enough to know how you feel about sale-priced peanut butter and cheap chocolate. That’s a good sort of person to have around.Coconut Cluster Brownies

Coconut Cluster Brownies
brownie recipe adapted from Alice Medrich
makes about 16 brownies

Cocoa Brownies:
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (natural or dutch process)
2 large eggs, cold
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Topping:
6 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 325F. Butter the inside of an 8- or 9-inch square pan. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on all sides, and butter again. Set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan or the microwave. Stir butter, sugars, and cocoa together in a large mixing bowl. Let mixture cool for a couple of minutes. Add the eggs one-by-one, mixing until they are completely incorporated. Stir in vanilla extract. Fold in flour and salt just until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Tap the full pan on the counter a couple of times to release any air bubbles. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with only a few moist crumbs. Let the brownies cool completely in the pan on a rack.

In a double boiler (or in 30-second increments in the microwave), melt chocolate and butter together. Fold in coconut. Mixture will be thick and heavily textured. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to spread mixture over brownies. Score chocolate with a knife for easier slicing. Top with additional coconut, if desired. Chill full pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Use parchment overhang to remove brownies to a cutting board and slice along score-lines. Serve, or refrigerate in an airtight container, layering brownies with wax paper to prevent sticking. Brownies will keep well for 4-5 days.Coconut Cluster BrowniesCoconut Cluster Brownies

Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies

Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesThere is a small town between Austin, Texas, and my hometown of Fort Worth that is called Hamilton. From the passenger seat of my parents’ SUV, it looks like any other small Texas town—there’s nothing remarkable about it from that particular vantage point, except that it is home to my family’s favorite pit stop, Dutchman’s Hidden Valley Country Store.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesI should say that we have always called it The Flying Dutchman. I don’t know why—that’s just what we’ve always called it. I’d like to tell you that we will change our ways and call it Dutchman’s Hidden Valley from here on out, but we won’t so I won’t. A 35+ year family habit is not easily broken.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesMy dad began stopping at Dutchman’s Hidden Valley in the early 1980s on his way to visit my older sister down in Fredericksburg. He’d stretch his legs and grab a Bavarian ham sandwich before getting back on the road. When he met my mom, he introduced her to the store. Fast forward ten or so years, and she and my grandma began taking Eliot and me to Dutchman’s on our way to family reunions in Kerrville. And now, twenty years beyond that, my parents take the back route to visit my older sister again, this time in Austin. They say it’s because I-35 is a mess, which is true, but I think it’s actually so they can get a sandwich.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesI haven’t lived in Texas or driven the back roads in a very long time now, but a couple of Christmases ago I had the pleasure of riding with my mom from my sister’s home in Austin to my parents’ in Fort Worth. We were listening to Hamilton while zipping through Hamilton’s city limit (so meta!), when she suggested I call Dutchman’s and order some sandwiches. I did, and when we arrived we grabbed a couple of bags of chips and a Diet Coke to split, and in a snap decision, two old-fashioned peanut butter cookies. The sandwiches and chips and soda all tasted like they always have, but the peanut butter cookies were new to both of us and so much more than we had bargained for—not that we’ve ever been served anything less than perfection at Dutchman’s.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesCrispy, crunchy and not-too-sweet, with an almost-savory peanut butter flavor, my mom and I talked about them all the way home. Dutchman’s peanut butter cookies are probably the best I’ve ever had in my life, and I have thought of them frequently and fondly for the last 15 months. I’m still kicking myself for not grabbing another on the way out the door—I think they were 60 cents each.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesCrispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesCrispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesCrispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesNow, I am sure I will end up in Texas at some point this year, but I don’t know when, and I am highly unlikely to find myself passing through the sleepy metropolis of Hamilton. My trips are rarely more than a few days, so road trips to get Bavarian ham sandwiches and chips and my newfound-favorite peanut butter cookies are difficult to squeeze in.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesCrispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesThis is all a very long way of saying that I have done my best to recreate Dutchman’s peanut butter cookies in my New York kitchen. I’ve done a pretty good job, if I do say so myself 🙂 Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesThese Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies are crispy and crunchy (duh) and sort of sandy. They aren’t overly sweet—there’s barely 1/2 teaspoon of added sugar in each one—and while I believe Dutchman’s cookies’ savory edge may come from lard (rural Texas, y’all), mine comes from a smattering of roasted peanuts. If you want a sweeter cookie, you can swap all or part of the peanuts for chocolate chips, or leave the add-ins out entirely.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesHands-down, my favorite part of this recipe is that it doesn’t require a chill. The dough is sturdy and easy to roll from the get-go, so the time between the moment the peanut butter cookie craving strikes and when they are baked and ready is mercifully brief. Oh, and these cookies hold up well for at least ten days and develop deeper peanut butter flavor over time, so you can eat them frequently and think of them fondly and not have to worry about when you’ll have time to bake more, or when you can get to a roadside antique store & sandwich counter in Hamilton, Texas, to get your fix.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies

Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies
makes about 80 small cookies

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup creamy-style peanut butter (not natural-style)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped (optional)

For crosshatching:
granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment, set aside.

In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and peanut butter until fluffy. Add granulated and light brown sugars, and beat to combine. Mix in egg and vanilla. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in chopped peanuts.

Scoop dough by the 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons), roll into balls, and set 2-inches apart on prepared pans.

Make the crosshatch. Lightly grease the back of a fork and dip in sugar. Press fork into each dough ball, then turn the fork 90 degrees and press again. Re-sugar the fork between cookies.

Bake cookies for 10 minutes, rotating pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back at the 5 minute mark. Let cool on the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling, crosshatching, and baking with remaining dough, letting the pans return to room temperature between batches.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for at least a week.

Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesCrispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesCrispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies