Old Fashioned Gingerbread with Egg Nog Icing

Old Fashioned Gingerbread with Egg Nog IcingSo I know the holidays are over, but come on, there is still plenty of time for gingerbread. This year I started a new Christmas morning tradition with my parents by baking my favorite gingerbread recipe. Not overly crunchy decorated cookies, not a house, but a warm, spicy, moist, real old fashioned gingerbread. This is a recipe I love to make at the very beginning of a party. As it bakes it fills your house with the most incredible aroma – warm, inviting, unmistakable. It wafts down the hallways and turns heads. My favorite thing is when people enter my hallway in my building and immediately ask (in reference to the aroma), “is that you?” Oh yes, that is me. As long as you’re talking about the gingerbread and not the poorly ventilated trash chute…

This recipe that I speak so highly about is actually not my own, but one I came upon some years ago on a quest for really good gingerbread. Amongst all the recipes I found, it was one from Emeril Lagasse that I decided to try and I certainly picked a winner. What makes it special is the use of Guiness – a whole cup. What more needs to be said? I also love that it calls for Turbinado Sugar (aka raw sugar – the big brown crystals). The combination gives it such a warm and earthy depth. I promise you’ll love it.

Now you’ll notice that Emeril gives instructions for a spiced creme anglaise to serve with the bread. The starving artist says eff that – isn’t it enough that I’m baking a cake? Truth be told, it *does* need something to put on top of it as the cake itself is not that sweet (another reason it’s so fantastic). I came up with a very easy and festive alternative: egg nog icing. Need I say more?

Gingerbread Recipe

Egg Nog Icing:

1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup Egg Nog
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch grated nutmeg
2 tsp Brandy (optional)

Mix all the ingredients together. Done. I like the icing to be a little loose for this recipe – if you want it thicker, reduce the amount of egg no.

A Solution for Your Extra Candy

Surely you have a ton of leftover candy bars lying around your house that you’re dying to get rid of if only to retain your self respect. Solution: candy bar pie!! Enjoy!

Halloween Decadence

HAPPY HALLOWEEN everyone!

As we all don our costumes and run to scare children, get plastered, and make out with costumed strangers in alley ways, many of us are going to be looking for candy to shove in our faces to invoke nostalgia (and also absorb the booze). I’m aware that it’s customary to have candy on Halloween and for those who live in houses in residential areas it is imperative to make the Halloween dreams come true for all those little goblins and ghouls. But let’s be serious, I’m the starving artist. I live in an apartment building in the middle of Hollywood. There are no trick-or-treaters. No one cares. And I’m waiting to get my candy fix until after Halloween… when it is all half price. Ha ;)

But, one does need a sweet fix on Halloween.  How does the starving artist get it? Why, I just use what’s laying around my apartment from all the mayhem of the previous Halloween weekend. There was a big bag of pretzels sitting on my table and decided they should probably be covered in chocolate. So, in a microwave safe bowl I placed two large scoops of almond butter, one big handful of chocolate chips, and a squirt of honey. Put it in the microwave at 30-second intervals until it melts completely and smoothly when stirred. Spread about two handfuls of pretzels onto a quarter sheet pan, pour the chocolate mixture over the pretzels and toss to coat. I then finish it off with about 1/2 cup of finely chopped pecans. I’m not gonna lie, I like to keep it dirty and just dive in when it’s still warm and gooey from the pan. It isn’t pretty, but damn is it good. If you want something a bit more classy, you can stash it in the fridge until it solidifies a bit… but it won’t nearly be as fun.

 

Famous Apple Crisp

I’m not one to get homesick. Just ask my mother. After school and boy scout trips when I was younger (yes, I was a boy scout, Eagle in fact), kids would run to their parents in dramatic reunions after having been apart for a week. I would get off the bus, walk unfazed past all the absurdly dramatic homecomings, find my parents, and say  “hey”. Thereafter I would launch into tales of my time away and lament that it had to end so quickly. Heh. They were good sports. In my adulthood I am much the same, making a home for myself wherever I live. But, after residing in SoCal for three years I’ve realized that there is in fact one thing that makes me nostalgic: fall. As my fellow New Englanders begin to feel the first bites of cold as they pick apples, sip warm cider, and roast pumpkin seeds, I continue to sweat my ass off in relentless 100-degree desert. Now that makes me homesick.

Last week Los Angeles finally got a break. We got a good four days of temperatures in the 60s. We even had rain — no, not just rain, but a THUNDERSTORM that streaked cragged bolts of lightning across the darkened sky. I was so excited I tweeted and facebooked about it. Most of my friends and family from the east coast were confused as to why I would post about such a thing. Believe me when I tell you that rain is a rarity here. And thunderstorms? Forget it.

In the midst of this brief taste of fall weather, I jumped at the opportunity to bring the New England to Cali via a delicious dessert. What else would you expect from the Starving Artist? In my opinion there is nothing that evokes fall more perfectly than an Apple Crisp. And friends, let me tell you, I make the best effin apple crisp – and I don’t say that lightly. Friends wait for this one all year long. If you can attest, please leave some comment love below. On Friday I made the first one of the season for a group of composer friends at my friend Joe’s house in Venice. This is the same Joe who smokes his own ribs. Yummy. I’m happy to report that after the crisp was served to the 10 people at the party, 10 completely empty bowls came back into the kitchen. As a cook, there is nothing more rewarding than empty plates.

If you’d like to bring some warm fall goodness to your family and friends, give this recipe a shot. You will not be disappointed. What’s my secret? There’s two: maple syrup and pecans. Oh yeah. My favorite apples to use for this are Macintosh, but they don’t really have them (at least not affordably) on the west coast, so instead I use Granny Smith. So. Good. Also, if you’re a big apple dessert person, I highly recommend the device pictured to the right. What is it, you ask? Why, it’s an apple peeler corer slicer! Peels, cores, and slices all in one motion. When I first saw this at my friend Susan’s house in Vermont I all but lost my sh*t. And, perhaps even more mind-blowing, it can be yours for less than $20 on Amazon, just click here. So worth it.

But the best part about making this dessert is the smell. It fills my apartment and drifts down the hallways of my building. As I walk my friends to my apartment door they get a whif and say “oh my god is that YOU?” Oh yes. It’s me.

Just make me one promise – you will ALWAYS serve this warm with vanilla ice cream. Promise? Good.

More fall favorites coming your way soon!

Recipe —> Famous Apple Crisp

Candy Bar Pie

In my second video recipe I show you how to make a delicious (and wickedly sinful) treat that your friends will freak for but will take you no time at all to prepare. Candy Bar Pie is a phenomenally versatile recipe that I hocked from my roommate. Her grandmother would always make it with Cadbury chocolate bars, which is decadent and amazing, but I take it a step further and say you can use any candy bars you like. Whatever you use. the same tasty rich results will follow. Mmmm.

Now, even though in the video I tell you to freeze the pie for 4 hours, you can easily get away with only 1, but I will say that the longer it freezes, the easier it is to cut and eat. Also, you’ll hear me comment on some “leftover bits” when I scoop the mixture into the pie crust. Sometimes when the hot chocolate hits the cold Cool Whip, it will seize up and harden before it gets a chance to blend – that’s ok. You’ll find it gives the pie wonderful texture. And come on, it’s a pie made of candy bars – what else do you want?

Promise me one thing: you will make this pie only when you know for SURE you’re feeding a crowd with it. It’s scary how fast you can mow through half a pie all by yourself… not that I would know…

Candy Bar Pie (Recipe PDF)