• erin

    Dumplings with my family
    A recent graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, I found myself with no money, no kitchen equipment, and an exceptionally huge appetite. Ideas, improvisations, and yummy meal solutions were discovered in the kitchen of my very first apartment.
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Mudslide Cookies

Sometimes I forget about the goodies available at the CIA. But when Shelly’s parents came to visit this weekend, I was reminded about one of the best treats to be found in those hallowed halls. The CIA has long been known for their Mudslide Cookie – a super chocolatey, oooey gooey cookie that people love, love, love. So when there was only one cookie left at the cafe, I promised them I could whip up some more at home.

It could be that it’s slightly crisp on the outside, and soft on the inside. It could be the crunchy nuts and melted chocolate chunks. It could be that it has 10 times as much chocolate as it has flour. Yea…that’s probably it.


Chocolate Cupcakes with PB Cup Center and Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting

I firmly believe there are two kinds of baked goods. There are the delicately prepared, elegant, perfectly perfect desserts that make everyone go “oooh” and “ahhh” and “HOW did you make that?”. Sort of like my four layer lemon domestic partnership cake. Snazzy, if I do say so myself.

But there are also those desserts that maybe didn’t turn out quite how you planned. But it doesn’t matter because they look like exactly the kind of thing you want to sink your teeth into. It doesn’t matter that the frosting is a little lop-sided, because it’s ooey, gooey, and (in this case) covered with Reese’s peanut butter cups!

For my friend Rob’s birthday, I wanted to make a cake that celebrated his favorite candy: Reese’s. The result were these: devilishy moist chocolate cupcakes (each with a Reese’s cup in the center) topped with a whipped milk chocolate peanut butter frosting that was awesomely accurate to the taste of a Reese’s. At first, I was a little disheartened when I looked at the finished product. Then I tasted one, and completely forgot any worries.

Banana Walnut Chocolate Cookies

Matt has recently started working at a small bed and breakfast. It’s a good deal – he works three or four days a week in exchange for free rent in one of the inn’s rooms. It’s a good fit – Mr. Hospitality can continue doing what he loves outside of the fancy Escoffier dining room. And it’s a good fit for me too, as when Matt’s on duty he’s responsible for making a fresh baked item each day as well as breakfast for the guests.

We took over this weekend for our trial run – the owner was on vacation with his family and the current student doing the gig was going out of town for a wedding. She left me a few very ripe bananas, suggesting I make banana bread. I love banana bread – but I’m never interested in people’s suggestions. Instead, I choose this banana cookie recipe, which utilizes all of the favorite banana bread ingredients but results in a delicious and entirely portable finished product that bakes in 15 minutes instead of up to an hour as a loaf would. The guests gobbled them up in no time.

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Super Quick Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

These cookies are an apartment dream – needs no mixer, is made in 15 minutes, and has less than 10 ingredients. Just mix up the ingredients, scoop onto a cookie sheet, and bake. The only difficult step is letting them cool long enough – they crumble easily while still warm.

Triple Chocolate Cookies (Gluten Free)

My little cousin recently turned 15. I wanted to make her a birthday treat, but she has an allergy to wheat. So I turned to the best book I know on the subject (by the best expert I know): Gluten Free Baking by Chef Coppedge (one of my former teachers at the CIA). His book is amazing, namely due to his four special alternative flour blends that perfectly replicate all types of flours that are normally made with wheat. This recipe uses rice and almond flours, as well as three kinds of chocolate that will keep all chocolate lovers from noticing that it’s made with anything other than plain jane ingredients. And it makes an awesome gift for any chocolate lover – gluten free or not!

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love oats. A friend of mine used to tease me about this because of my constant attempt to incorporate them into dessert menus at work and school. I would make oat cakes, oat cookies, oat bars, and so on and so on. There’s something wonderful about oats: so familiar and comforting, rustic but easy to work with. You can make oats go with anything: fruits, nuts, or chocolate. It is a wonderful ingredient that I come back to over and over again.

So when I asked my friend Susie what her favorite cookie was and she said oatmeal chocolate chip I was elated. I’m not sure if she knew of my love affair with oats, but nevertheless it was lovely to be reunited with the box I inevitably keep in my pantry. And since I’m not a fan of raisins in my cookies, I leapt with joy into my kitchen to make these: deliciously moist, tender oatmeal cookies dotted with melty chocolate chips.

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Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Caramel Frosting

When company is on it’s way, I love to bake. Normally, I busy myself with savory treats, because neither Matt or I have much of a sweet tooth. That, and we would probably eat it all if it laid around the house too long. So when I had a group of friends heading up this weekend, I figured it was time to whip out the spatulas, pastry bags, and, of course, chocolate.

That was the only request from my guests. When I asked what I should make, the answer was just: “Something with chocolate!” So I brought out an old favorite recipe. These cupcakes are thick, moist, and chewy like a good brownie. Spotted with chocolate chunks, they have a double chocolate edge. The frosting is a whipped ganache infused with the flavor of carmel – it is light and airy while still packed with amazing chocolate flavor. It’s a really unique frosting recipe that is simple to make and can really transform any cake!

If this isn’t enough chocolate, I don’t know what is!

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