Friday Favorites: 2020

Friday Favorites: 2020Happy New Year! This post is coming at you from the recent past—December 29th—so I hope no new terrible things have happened between then and this posting. 2020 was such a weird year. It started off okay, but quickly devolved to…well, whatever this is. I, for one, am hoping for hope in 2021.

As a preface to this list, I wrote three paragraphs about the events of last year (staying at home, flour shortage, bread, people learning to bake, blah blah blah) and then deleted them because, you know, you were there. It was a year where nearly everything changed, but at least one thing remained the same: I was here, baking in Brooklyn. Here are some of my personal favorite recipes from 2020.Friday Favorites: 2020
Mini Layer Cakes

There weren’t many layer cakes on here in 2020, but the ones that made the cut were teensy—just enough for 4-6 servings. Perfect for a pandemic, right?!Friday Favorites: 2020
Pecan Sandies

Buttery shortbread is difficult to beat for ease and pure deliciousness, but adding in a hefty dose of toasted pecans (and nostalgia) never hurt anything.Friday Favorites: 2020
Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}

I got a little homesick around my birthday this year, so I made a Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}, which happens to be a Fort Worth favorite. You won’t find chocolate sponge or cherries in this recipe, but if you are into light-as-air almond dacquoise, whipped cream, dark chocolate and the best kind of chocolate sprinkles (hagelslag), you are in for a treat. Did I mention it’s naturally gluten-free?Friday Favorites: 2020
“I Got Yolks” Chocolate Chip Cookies

Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta} requires a whole lot of egg whites, which means you’ll have a whole lot of leftover yolks…which means you should make some “I Got Yolks” Chocolate Chip Cookies. To put it plainly, they’re simply the best chewy chocolate chip cookies to ever come out of my kitchen.Friday Favorites: 2020
Crispy, Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yes, this was a year with two chocolate chip cookie recipes. These crispy, crunchy ones were a long time coming, and were they ever worth the wait!Friday Favorites: 2020
Funfetti Cookie Cupcakes

Rainbow sprinkles and cookie cake are two of my favorite things. Put them together and make them mini? How can I resist?!Friday Favorites: 2020
Buttermilk Pancakes

Perfect fluffy pancakes eluded me for years, but not anymore! These are really good and really easy. Oh, and those golden tops? They’re easier to achieve than I ever thought possible.Friday Favorites: 2020
Chocolate Quinoa Cake {Gluten-Free}

One of my biggest accomplishments this year was staying sober through…everything. While I normally don’t celebrate my sobriety date on here, it seemed important to publicly acknowledge it during a time of so much struggle. When I hit seven years in April, I celebrated at home with this Chocolate Quinoa Cake. It’s made with an easy blender batter, is naturally gluten-free, and absolutely delicious with a blanket of chocolate buttercream.Friday Favorites: 2020
Homemade Chocolate Shell

Making my own ice cream toppings is one of my favorite warm weather pastimes. This two ingredient Homemade Chocolate Shell has appeared on this blog many times over the years, but 2020 was when it finally got its moment to shine.Friday Favorites: 2020
Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}

I brought in 2020 eating Almond Boterkoek on my friend, David’s couch. Eight weeks later (to the day!), I figured out the recipe for myself. It’s a simple cake, perfect for any occasion, including saying goodbye to our weirdest year on record.Friday Favorites: 2020
Brown Butter Nutella Swirl Muffins

Brown Butter. Nutella Swirl. Muffins.

Need I say more?Friday Favorites: 2020
Meyer Lemon Sweet Rolls

Imagine biting into pure sunshine, but with butter and icing. That’s what these are like.Friday Favorites: 2020
Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies

These sweet, tart, teeny-tiny cookies are filled with a homemade ruby red grapefruit curd. So, so good. I cannot say this more explicitly: you must make these. Must.Friday Favorites: 2020
Oatmeal Puff Pancake {Gluten-Free Dutch Baby}

Puff Pancakes are my favorite weekend breakfast of all time, and making them whole grain and gluten-free? Well, that makes them even better.Friday Favorites: 2020
Oatmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Crisp on the outside, soft on the inside waffles made without flour or animal products? You better believe it!Friday Favorites: 2020
Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Speaking of making things vegan and gluten-free, finally making a Gingerbread Cake for my friend, VJ, was a great way to end the year. It’s dark, perfectly-spiced, and slightly sticky. It might just be the only Gingerbread Cake recipe you’ll ever need.Friday Favorites: 2020
Pumpkin Spice Spread & Pumpkin Pie S’mores

If you’ve been here a while, you know I love to sing the praises of sweetened condensed milk—that stuff can do anything, including make a spreadable pumpkin pie filling for everything from toast to s’mores.Friday Favorites: 2020
Cream Biscuit Pecan Sticky Buns

Back when the pandemic began and shelves were empty, I threw my plans out the window and baked and blogged exclusively from what I already had on hand. These Cream Biscuit Sticky Buns were one of the results—a mash-up of two of my favorite things.Friday Favorites: 2020
Maple Sugar Cookies

These little sugar cookies have huge maple flavor. Made with brown butter, brown sugar and a double dose of pure maple syrup, they’re impossible to resist.Friday Favorites: 2020
Cocoa Brownies

I’d be remiss if I forgot to mention that this blog turned five years old in 2020! It was a highlight of my year, as was celebrating with the Cocoa Brownies from my first post. They’re easy, fudgy and so, so good.

Have you made any of these recipes? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Friday Favorites: 2020

Most Popular Recipes of 2020

Another year has come and (almost) gone, and I think we can all agree that it was a doozy! Many of us spent more time at home than ever, and that means that a lot of people (and I mean a lot) discovered the pleasure of baking. Or at the very least, they baked something, and sometimes that something was one of my recipes. *pandemic hair flip*

In that vein, this is the annual top ten most popular recipes from E2 Bakes. Many of these recipes have appeared on past lists, and I’m sure some of these will make the cut next year. Please note that, for the first time, none of the recipes on this year’s list were actually published this year. 2020 just happens to be when they hit their stride. The internet works in mysterious ways.Most Popular Recipes of 2020
10) Polenta Breakfast Bake {Gluten-Free}

Everybody loves a special breakfast, and for me, this Polenta Breakfast Bake is about as special as it gets. This is a gluten-free spin on my mom’s go-to Christmas brunch offering. Cheesy, filling and endlessly adaptable—take my recipe and make it vegetarian, use it as a base for leftover odds & ends, or eat it for breakfast for dinner! Take my recipe and make it yours.Most Popular Recipes of 2020
9) Churros {Accidentally Vegan}

Who doesn’t love churros?! These crisp and delicious Spanish-style doughnuts are easier to make than you might imagine. Mix up a quick dough in a warm pan, then pipe it into hot oil and toss the results with cinnamon-sugar. So good! And accidentally vegan!!! Make 2021 the year you make your own churros—trust me.Most Popular Recipes of 2020
8) Maple Layer Cake

I haven’t made many layer cakes in 2020–without parties, there wasn’t much point—but this Maple Layer Cake is one of my favorites. Surprisingly simple with huge maple flavor, it’s no surprise that this recipe made this list again.Most Popular Recipes of 2020
7) Toasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Many of my most popular recipes are vegan or gluten-free, despite the fact that I am neither. These Toasted Oat Graham Crackers? They’re both! And incredibly delicious stacked with toasted marshmallows and chocolate. Mmhmm.Most Popular Recipes of 2020
6) Banana Snickerdoodles

Banana bread may have had its moment in 2020, but I think Banana Snickerdoodles should have theirs’ in 2021. Soft, chewy and egg-free, a batch of these will make exceptional use of your brown bananas.Most Popular Recipes of 2020
5) Coconut Custard Pie

Coconut Cream Pie is great and all, but have you tried Coconut Custard Pie? Because you should. There’s a reason it’s on this list: because rich coconut custard baked into a pie crust is about as good as dessert gets.Most Popular Recipes of 2020
4) Maple Thumbprints

First a cake and now the thumbprints- y’all sure do love maple syrup! And to state the obvious, so do I.Most Popular Recipes of 2020
3) Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Grain-Free}

This five ingredient Chocolate Macaroon Tart was a hit from the moment I hit “publish.” It’s super simple to make, completely grain-free, and while I originally made it for an Easter dessert, it’s perfect for any occasion including New Year’s Eve.Most Popular Recipes of 2020
2) Silky Smooth Sweet Potato Pie

Silky Smooth Sweet Potato Pie was my most popular recipe of 2019 and is the second most popular of both 2018 and 2020. It’s a classic with a textural twist, and so, so delicious.Most Popular Recipes of 2020
1) French Apple Cake

This simple cake was far-and-away my most popular recipe this year, and for good reason. It’s easy to make, requires ingredients you probably already have, and is the perfect finish to any meal. Pandemic or no, this basically my favorite kind of recipe.

Have you made any of these recipes? What was your favorite E2 Bakes recipe this year? Let me know in the comments or on social media!Most Popular Recipes of 2020

Chocolate-Covered Pecans

Chocolate-Covered PecansChristmas in a pandemic is so strange. I mean, I’ve spent Christmas away from my immediate family before, but it’s always been with (ex-)boyfriends or friends. But this year, traveling and gathering don’t seem like great plans and I am deeply single, so Christmas alone it is.Chocolate-Covered PecansI’ve already had my pre-Christmas anticipatory-loneliness gloom and doom, and have now moved on to determining what will make this Christmas feel like…Christmas. Like, when I FaceTime my family, I’m going to wear my Christmas pajamas that match my sisters. And I’m going to take a walk. Maybe watch Love Actually for the 374th time. Perhaps make a pot roast. And I’m going to eat chocolate-covered pecans by the handful. It’s the Davenport way.Chocolate-Covered PecansChocolate-Covered Pecans have a long history in my family. My dad has been sending them as Christmas gifts for as long as I can remember, and though nearly every box was for someone else, he always had one delivered to the house just for us to share. And by share, I mean he would hide/hoard them to himself until Christmas Day when he’d finally reveal the half-eaten tin.

Over the years, this has come back to bite him in the ass. The general “rule” is that whoever intercepts the box first hides it and clues everyone in *except* my dad, just for a little light payback. This may seem like a lot of hubbub, but we really love messing with each other,* and also Chocolate-Covered Pecans. What’s not to love about naturally-caramelly toasted pecans coated in a snappy-then-melty layer of chocolate?

*Is every family as weird as mine?Chocolate-Covered PecansSince my sisters and I all moved away, we’ve each been added to my dad’s chocolate-covered pecan Christmas list. It’s something I look forward to every year—my tin showing up a week or two before I fly home for the holiday break. Except, of course, that I’m not flying home this year. And for a brief moment, thanks to the notorious difficulties with shipping right now, I thought that my dad might have decided not to send chocolate-covered pecans in 2020.Chocolate-Covered PecansChocolate-Covered PecansThankfully that is not the case and my tin arrived on December 16th, but in that moment where I thought this tradition might be another casualty of 2020, I took the time to create my own recipe for Chocolate-Covered Pecans. I certainly wasn’t going to go without them. No way.Chocolate-Covered PecansMy Chocolate-Covered Pecans are the tiniest spin on my Salted Marzipan Truffles recipe. Truly, the only difference is that I’m using toasted pecans instead of marzipan. I left the salt on for beauty and salty chocolate reasons, but you can skip it if you like. Whatever makes your little holiday heart flutter. Whatever makes this recipe feel like home.Chocolate-Covered PecansMerry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Whatever you do or don’t celebrate, I hope you find a way to enjoy the end of this challenging year. I’m taking Friday off for Christmas, but will be back next week with year-end round ups. Stay cozy, everyone.Chocolate-Covered Pecans

Chocolate-Covered Pecans
makes about 1 cup

1 cup raw pecan halves
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon light corn syrup or golden syrup
coarse or flaky finishing salt (optional)

Special Equipment:
microwave-safe bowl (or double boiler)
parchment paper
small sheet pan or other pan (must fit in freezer)

Preheat oven to 300F. Place pecan halves on a dry rimmed baking sheet and bake for 5-8 minutes, until fragrant and toasted. Let cool completely.

Line a small sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place chopped dark chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir with a fork. Add coconut oil. Continue to microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Stir in corn syrup.

To dip, drop one pecan half into the melted chocolate. Use a fork to coat pecan in chocolate. Drain briefly by scraping the tines of the fork on the edge of the bowl. Use the fork to gently lay the pecan on the prepared pan. Immediately top with a pinch of finishing salt, if desired. Continue this process until all pecans are coated and salted.

Place baking sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes, until chocolate has solidified. Serve.

Pecans will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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Sparkling Shortbread

Sparkling ShortbreadHappy Christmas week! Happy Solstice! Happy almost the end of 2020!Sparkling ShortbreadI’m coming at you on this winter Monday to give you one last cookie recipe before Christmas. Don’t worry, it’s super easy—just a slice & bake shortbread that’s been rolled in sparkling sugar so it looks *fancy.* And it is. But it’s also stupendously easy. I don’t know about you, but when it’s four days before Christmas, I only have time for things that are stupendously easy.Sparkling ShortbreadThis dough is super rich and buttery, and comes together in 15 minutes. Once mixed, divide it in two and shape each half into a log. Don’t worry about perfect round shaping—you can fix flaws after an hour-long chill. It’s much easier to form smooth shapes when the dough isn’t so pliable.Sparkling ShortbreadSparkling Shortbread Next up, coat your shortbread in sparkling sugar! Working with one log at a time, give your shortbread a few rolls to even out any odd shaping. Then, roll them in a few tablespoons of festive sparkling sugar (this is the Mistletoe Blend from NY Cake Supply). I find it easiest to coat the shortbread by using my hands and a sheet of plastic wrap. Just do your best with this and don’t worry about perfection—these will all be a little different and they will all be gorgeous.

Don’t have sparkling sugar? Use sprinkles. I recommend using jimmies (the cylindrical kind) instead of non-pareils (the little balls), as those will bleed their colors.Sparkling ShortbreadAfter coating, the shortbread will need another hour chill. I know—I know!—two chills are too many, but they are easily the most annoying part of this recipe. One upside, however, is that this means you can make the Sparkling Shortbread dough days in advance and then slice & bake when you have time.Sparkling ShortbreadSparkling ShortbreadWhen it’s time to bake, slice the dough in 1/4-inch rounds and bake for 20 minutes at 300F, so they’re fully done but not brown. Despite not containing any leaveners, these cookies will puff and spread (but not too much).Sparkling ShortbreadOnce the shortbread are baked and cooled…well, that’s it! Time to eat. Sparkling Shortbread are crisp and buttery with a little extra crunch and zazz from their sugared edges. Truly, they’re so simple and stunning that I don’t know why you’d bother to make any other cookies this close to Christmas. Keep a few for yourself, drop a few off with a friend and leave a few for Santa. Everybody needs a little sparkle right now.Sparkling ShortbreadThere’s only one more E2 Bakes recipe left this year, and it’s coming up Wednesday! Any guesses???Sparkling Shortbread

Sparkling Shortbread
makes about 3 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

For coating:
6-8 tablespoons (about 3 ounces) coarse sparkling/decorative sugar

Place softened butter in a medium-large mixing bowl and use an electric mixer to beat it until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Add dark brown and confectioners sugars and mix until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and salt. With the mixer on low, beat in flour. Dough will be crumbly looking, but should hold together very well when pinched.

Divide dough in two parts. Form each into a 9-inch log and wrap in plastic. Don’t worry if they aren’t perfectly round. Chill for 1 hour.

Line a small sheet pan or a surface with a sheet of plastic wrap and place 3-4 tablespoons of sparkling sugar on top. Unwrap one log of dough. Give it a few light rolls to form more of a round log shape. Place dough on top of sugar and use your hands and the plastic wrap to coat the log in sparkling sugar. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 3 days. Repeat this process with remaining log of dough and remaining sparkling sugar.

Place oven racks in central positions. Preheat oven to 300F. Line 2 rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper.

Unwrap one log of dough and place on a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice log into 1/4-inch rounds. Place at least 2 inches apart on prepared pans.

Bake cookies for 20-22 minutes, or until no longer shiny but not brown at all. Let cool on the pans for 10 minutes. Use a thin spatula (not your fingers!) to remove cookies to cooling racks to cool completely.

Serve. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.Sparkling ShortbreadSparkling ShortbreadSparkling ShortbreadSparkling Shortbread

Chocolate Salted Caramel Thumbprints

Chocolate Salted Caramel ThumbprintsWe’re getting close to the end of this year’s posts (two more recipes to go!), but I just couldn’t let 2020 end without making sure you knew about these Chocolate Salted Caramel Thumbprints.Chocolate Salted Caramel ThumbprintsLet me say that again: Chocolate. Salted. Caramel. Thumbprints.

That’s right—chocolate sugar cookies filled with soft, chewy caramel and finished with a chocolate drizzle and crunchy salt. Does a more perfect cookie exist? I think not. Sure, there are a few steps and a chill involved, but none of it is complicated, and you will be rewarded with salty, gooey, chocolaty cookies at the end. The best!Chocolate Salted Caramel ThumbprintsWhile Christmas and New Year’s Eve (and literally everything else) are different this year, these cookies should be a part of your holiday, however it looks. Are you gathering with a tiny group to do a gift exchange? Share some cookies with people you love. Are you spending the holiday by your lonesome, like me? Have a cookie (or four) while you watch Home Alone while you’re home alone. Are you skipping it all and hoping next year is better? Well, Chocolate Salted Caramel Thumbprints are good for that too.Chocolate Salted Caramel ThumbprintsChristmas is only a week away! To accommodate the holiday, I’m changing up next week’s posting schedule from the usual Wednesday/Friday to Monday/Wednesday. Since we’re getting down to the wire, look out for two easy as can be, festive as everything recipes. Oh, and let me know what you’re baking! I love seeing all your holiday (E2) bakes over on Instagram.

Have a wonderful weekend!Chocolate Salted Caramel Thumbprints

Chocolate Salted Caramel Thumbprints
makes about 3 dozen

Chocolate Cookie Dough:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process)
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Salted Caramel Centers:
5 ounces soft caramel candies (I use Kraft)
3 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

For finishing:
2 ounces chopped dark chocolate
coarse or flaky finishing salt

Special Equipment:
1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon

Make chocolate cookie dough. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in granulated and light brown sugars, followed by the egg and vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients in 3 installments, combining completely after each. Use your hands to knead dough into a mass, then divide it in two. Cover each half with plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Remove dough from the refrigerator. Scoop dough by the tablespoon and roll each int a ball. Place dough balls at least 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Use the back of a very small spoon (like a 1/2 teaspoon) to slowly press a well into each dough ball. They may crack a bit—just smooth them with your fingers. If dough gets too warm and sticky, freeze for 10 minutes.

Bake cookies 12-13 minutes. Cookies are done when puffed and no longer wet-looking. When you remove the cookies from the oven, gently press the back of the small spoon into the centers again; they will crack a bit. Let cookies cool on the pans for 10 minutes before carefully removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling and baking process with all remaining dough, letting the cookie sheets come back to room temperature between batches.

Make the caramel. Combine caramels, heavy cream and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool about 5 minutes.

Spoon 1/2 teaspoon caramel into the center of each cooled cookie. Let set 10 minutes.

Finish the cookies. Place chopped dark chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Use a fork to drizzle it over the cookies. Finish with coarse or flaky salt. To harden chocolate quickly, place the cookies in the freezer for about 15 minutes.

Serve cookies. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. For best storage, place layers of wax paper between cookies.

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