I made this teatime treat this past weekend and four different guests asked for the recipe. I’m happy to share it.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)
350 agrees F.
line a 9×13 baking pan with cooking parchment
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at aa time. Mix all of the dry ingredients together and add to butter mixture in parts, alternating with the sour cream and vanilla. Turn about half of the batter into the baking pan.
This Spring in Cape May there are so many things going on that the festivals overlap and you’ll be dizzy with the choices. Three Cape May organizations are presenting festivals – all running concurrently. The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts puts on Spring Festival with dozens of tours and events. Among my favorites (and my guest’s’ favorites) is the
CHOCOLATE LOVER’S FEAST
It’s a bountiful feast for chocolate lovers! Enjoy seven plated courses of delicious chocolate desserts at the Blue Rose Inn, 653 Washington St., and hear how each was created from the chef who prepared it. This is a limited event so reserve early.
If food is your interest, check out Chef Poon’s presentation. He is a hoot and often stays with us at Leith Hall bed and breakfast.
Saturday, May 19
Slicing & Dicing:
Watermelons and More
with Master Chef Joseph Poon
Chef Poon will be presenting his fun, informative, high energy food demonstrations at the Carriage House Cafe & Tearoom, including information on healthy eating and carving and sculpture demonstrations. Headquartered in Philadelphia, Chef Poon has appeared on the Food Network along with local and national television shows including the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the Ellen DeGeneres Show and PBS’ Christina Cooks.
For straight silliness, view the Edwardian naughtiness at Elaine’s
with The Salty Sirens as The Fleur de Fantaisie
Thursday, Friday & Saturday, May 17, 18 & 19: 8pm (cocktails at 6:30pm)
Elaine’s Cape May, 513 Lafayette St.
Enjoy a variety of entertainment when The Salty Sirens take on a French twist. Let yourself get swept away for a night of sensual delights and hysterical whimsy while we daydream of a Parisian enchanted forest at springtime. Flirt with nature in bloom… la nature en fleurs! You’ll have a fun-filled trip back in time to a period when entertainment was theatrical, sassy, and teased the imagination. Experience this modern take on classic burlesque, rooted in Victorian vaudeville. Food and beverages available for purchase.
Limited event; advance purchase recommended Purchase tickets online or at the Washington Street Mall Information Booth at Ocean Street
This recipe is for Jackie. I serve these little chocolate cakes for teatime, using two silicone baking pans that make small straight-sided cakes. It would work as well in cupcake pans, or in two nine-inch cake pans, or in a Bundt pan. I like to soak cakes in a little simple syrup (one third cup sugar and one third cup water, brought to a boil plus a little vanilla) but it isn’t necessary.
Chocolate Cakes for Tea
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
¾ cup Dutch process cocoa (I use Droste’s or Van Houten)
2 tsp. Baking powder
1 ½ tsp. Baking soda
½ tsp. Salt
1 tsp espresso powder or coffee extract
1 cup milk
½ cup canola oil
1 Tbs. Vanilla extract
1 cup water.
Mix all the dry ingredients together. Beat the eggs, milk, oil, vanilla extract together. Beat the flour mixture into the liquid mixture. Beat in the water. Pour into greased pans. (greased and floured if not using silicone pans).
Bake 30-35 minutes for 9” layers, or about 12 minutes for cupcakes or mini-cakes, about 40 minutes for a bundt pan. I test them before the estimated time. Cake will spring back when touched if it is done.
I top each little cake with chocolate icing made of 1/3 cup butter melted with 1 cup of bittersweet chocolate.
I think that it’s the Leith family motto – There’s No Such Thing As Too Much Chocolate. This year, it can be your motto too. The pastry chefs at one of Cape May’s finest restaurants, The Blue Rose, will prepare seven plated courses of chocolate desserts. Come visit us at Leith Hall bed and breakfast in Cape May and enjoy this special event, offered three times this Fall. The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts is offering this feast in cooperation with The Blue Rose
Cape May’s annual Spring Festival is next week – and this year there are lots of spectacular activities. There will be the Spring Festival Crafts and Collectibles show, as well as several tours like Cape May After Dark, Chocolate Tasting Tour, and Historic Haunts Combo Tour.
The Self-guided Winery and Brewery Tour and the Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery Tour, and the Winery Cellar Tour and Tasting may all sound like the same thing, but are really three very distinct experiences – at different wineries and with different presentations. You can link to the Mid-Atlantic Center’s website to get details and sign up for activities.
My favorite part of this year’s Spring Festival is an exhibit of paintings by Alice Steer Wilson, who was a great painter who lived in Cape May. Her watercolors were extraordinary and in the same league as Winslow Homer’s or John Singer Sargent’s.
This recipe is for Millie, She and her family had these cookies at teatime this past week. I make these chocolate chunk cookies or cookie bars all the time. Sometimes, I vary them by using just white chocolate, lemon extract, and perhaps some pignoli, or some pistachio nuts. The dough is endlessly versatile. If you add a few tablespoons of water to the dough, it will rise and be cakier. If you add butter and bake it a little darker, it will be crisper.
Ingredients: 2 1/’2 cups of all purpose flour 1 ¾ cups of sugar 1 Tablespoon baking powder ½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup 72% chocolate, chopped ½ cup 60% chocolate, chopped ½ cup white chocolate, chopped (I don’t really measure the chocolate. I use Trader Joe’s Pound Plus 72% bars, Ghirardelli 60% cholcolate chips, and Ghirardelli white melting wafers
Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix the molasses and orange extract into the melted butter. Add the melted butter mixture and the egg to the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula until you form an even dough. If the mixture is too crumbly, add a pat or two of soft butter.
Fold in chopped chocolates until just mixed. If you fold too much the chocolate will melt. (Not a tragedy)
Scoop (with a small scoop) onto parchment-lined cookie sheets and bake at 4oo F. for 9 minutes. Cool on sheets for 10 minutes then on cookie racks. You can also bake these by pressing the dough into a parchment-lined jelly roll pan (mine is the insulated kind), then sprinkling the chopped chocolate on top and baking the same way. Then cut into cookie bars after it has cooled for 10 minutes.
You can decorate these cookies with random squiggles of chocolate by melting some 74% chocolate, and a little butter. Squeeze this out of a ziplock bag with the corner snipped.
Just when you thought the Cape May season was winding down, the middle of September brings the Cape May Food and Wine Celebration. There will be spectacular dinners like the Farm to Table dinner presented by the Red Store in Cape May Point and a Bourbon Tasting Dinner at Alethea’s Restaurant in the Inn of Cape May on the beach in Cape May. The Chocolate Lovers Feast will be at The Blue Rose, one of Cape May’s newest and best restaurants. There will also be special dinners, tours, and grape picking at three of Cape Mays vineyards – Hawk Haven, Natali, and Cape May Winery.
Just imagine your stay in Cape May. The ocean will still be warm, the weather will still be ideal. There will be lectures and demonstrations, tastings from many Cape May restaurants at Convention Hall; winery, brewery, and bourbon events, samples and tastings, and feasting galore. You can go to the website of the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts for a more complete list; and you can call or email us to make reservations.
I’ve had a recipe for peppermint cookies on this blog before, but these are different from the earlier ones. Our guest, Dale, wrote and asked me to post the recipe for last week’s peppermint sandwich cookies. They look like Oreo’s on steroids, but taste much better.
I make them medium size, then make sandwich cookies with the quick peppermint butter-cream.
Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
1 ¼ cup (2 1/2 sticks) butter 2 cups sugar 2 eggs 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla paste 2 cups flour ¾ cup Dutch cocoa 1 teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon salt
Beat the butter and sugar together until they are fluffy. Beat in eggs and extracts. Mix the flour, cocoa, soda and salt together and beat the mixture into the butter mixture. Drop by tablespoons full onto parchment lined cookie sheets. I use a scoop to get exactly even size domes. Bake for 9 minutes at 350F. Cool on cookie sheets, then again on cookie racks.
For the peppermint cream.
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, creamed in an electric mixer
4 cups powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon peppermint extract
a few tablespoons of water
Cream the butter ’till light and fluffy. Beat in the extract and powdered sugar, one cup at a time. If the mixture doesn’t make frosting, beat in water, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is creamy and frosting consistency. You could add a tiny drop of red food coloring if you want the frosting to be pink. I seldom do.
When the cookies are thoroughly cold, put a dollop of frosting on one, then top with another and twist the sandwich to distribute the filling evenly. Keep cool ’till serving.
Spring festival is Cape May’s annual sigh of relief that Winter is over. This year we have a few new events that will get you in the spirit. First, if you’re a Downton Abbey fan, you can put your Easter bonnet on and have a Royal Tea at the Carriage House at the Physick Estate. There will be Royal Trivia to test your knowledge of all things regal. There’s a new tour called the Cape May Time Capsule, where characters from the nineteenth-century will guide you through there town.
And Chocolate too…
Saturday, May 3rd will feature the Chocolate Championship tour, where you can benefit from the cuthroat competition among Bed and Breakfast owners for the honor and the trophy. You get to sample the goodies and vote for the best in show. April 26th, there’s a Murder Mystery Dinner at Alethea’s Restaurant, with a new mystery “Revenge is Sweet” and a delicious dinner. Earlier the same day (April 26) there is a Private Homes Tour, showing houses not ususally open to the public. I love snooping in other people’s house and you will too.
April 26 through May 5 is Cape May’s Spring Festival. The grounds of the Physick Estate will be hopping with live music, good food, and a crafts and antique show. Spring Festival also includes The Chocolate Championship Contest – where you tour five inns, taste their chocolate specialties, and vote for the best. There are also Winery Cellar tours and tastings and Murder Mystery dinners and lunches, and a private homes tour of houses not usually open to the public.
Saturday, you can even start the day with Victorian dance lessons and end it with a Victorian Ball to show off your new moves.