Black Bottom Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Pie

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Miss Fats calling it: pie is a breakfast item.

She’s being completely serious.  No eye rolling or outrage.  Pie belongs in the early morning hours.  Fruit pie?  Custard pie?  Cream pie?  Aren’t these all qualifiers associated with breakfast, anyway?  Is a flakey crust and tender fruit filling all that different from your standard danish?  (Well yes.  Miss Fats upholds they are different objects.  However conceptually they are closer than one thinks with regard to food genre.)  But can’t we replace those boring fruit parfaits with a silky banana cream?

The reality is that sweet breakfast treats are almost always glorified dessert items, hiding beneath a whole wheat flour or bran addition.  (Or even just parading its sweet self for all to see.  Miss Fats is talking to you, french toast.)  Miss Fats doesn’t understand why the donut should sit comfortably in the breakfast genre, while pie remains in evening hours.  If anything the deep-fried dough item, perfectly crafted to send you to bed, should be flip-flopped with a bright and tangy slice of fruit pie in early hours.

Why should all the round sliced food objects be confined to the second half one’s day? (Pizza?  Also breakfast.)  Their perfect portability and triangular shape make for an ideal nutrient delivery system during the hours when your brain is still waking up and struggling to organize yourself in the morning rush.  Sure, it’s not the healthiest of breakfasts, but if you’re going to reach for a sweet morning treat, pie at least holds the promise of breakfast flavors.  Plus a pie is almost always waiting for you.  No need to mess with flour or a pesky waffle maker first thing in the morning: a big slice of pie is just sitting there on the counter, waiting to be consumed.  Throw a big dollop of greek yogurt on that apple pie and you’ve basically got a power breakfast.

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Look: Miss Fats realizes she probably hasn’t convinced you of breakfast pie yet.  But she’s sure this recipe makes a strong enough case for itself.  Black Bottom Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Pie combines the chewy oatiness of a granola with the flavors of banana bread.  Welcome to layers of flakey pie crust, silky chocolate, gooey banana custard and toasty oatmeal top; a veritable stratum of flavors and textures.  This pie manages to straddle the line between granola bar and pecan pie: teetering deliciously between breakfast and dessert.  Perhaps it’s actually meant to be consumed at the end of a late night around 3 am: right between the two.  Miss Fats can get on board with that.

This pie started as Four and Twenty Blackbird’s Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie.  Blackbird’s “poor-man’s pecan pie,” received rave reviews from a group of Miss Fats’ dear friends.  The crazy-simple recipe made for the perfect game night pie on a Sunday night: no fuss, just good clean fun.  However, always looking to innovate, Miss Fats’ friend I, suggested a banana cream hybrid.  They all agreed the pie had an air of breakfast and would happily begin any day with a big slice and cup of coffee.  But I was interested in producing the ultimate breakfast pie object.  The custard center seemed to be begging to mate with a banana cream friend, so I tasked Miss Fats with the challenge of melding the two.

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Through some simple substitutions and modifications, Miss Fats created a breakfast dessert monster.  She also simplified the whole thing by throwing all the ingredients into a blender and allowing the machine to do all the work for her.  Reducing the sugar and adding bananas makes for a pie that holds all the power of a pie, banana bread, and granola bars. Topped with chocolate. The custard center is the real revelation here.  Miss Fats upped the salt (as she does)  to highlight the creamy, caramel-y flavor fruit to produce a homey richness akin to a beautifully simple slice of moist banana bread.  Pie crust creates a tender base, followed by a bit of bitter chocolate (again, perfectly salted), then comes the smooth banana custard-y center, topped off with a chewy layer of toasted oats.   The ultimate geological formation: the perfect stratification of discrete breakfast treats that come together in pure mouth harmony.  Morning bliss.

Black Bottom Banana Oatmeal Pie:
adapted from Four and Twenty Blackbird’s Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie

1 9-inch single pie crust (Miss Fats prefers this one from Smitten Kitchen)
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
3 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream divided
2 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup corn syrup
5 tbs melted butter
4 eggs
2 tbs cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ginger

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Par bake the crust, rolling out the dough, lining a 9 inch pie pan and crimping the sides.  Puncture the bottom to allow air to escape and line the crust with a piece of parchment or foil. Weigh down the center with beans or fancy pie weights, if you have them.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove weights and foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the bottom of the crust looks dry.  Set aside to cool. (Can easily be done in advance.)

2. Toast the oats by spreading them evenly on a lined sheet pan and baking for 10-12 minutes.  Toss every few minutes.  Set aside to cool.  Reduce oven to 325 degrees.

3. Heat 1/4 cup of the heavy cream in the microwave for about 2 minutes or until scalded.  Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and throw in a big pinch of salt. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.  Whisk the chocolate and cream until smooth.  Pour into the bottom of the pie crust and spread evenly.  Allow to cool in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

4.  In a blender, throw in all the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.   Stir in the oats with a spoon.  Pour into the prepared pie crust.

5. Bake the pie for 1 hour, rotating once approximately 30 minutes into baking.  The pie is done when the edged have browned a bit and the center is set.  The center should be completely set but have a little give: imagine gently poking a fluffy cake.  Allow to cool fully: about 2-3 hours, or leave that guy sitting out over night to chow down on in the morning.

Miss Fats highly recommends consuming a big slice of this pie with a fresh cup of coffee.  She’s pretty sure a big dollop of full fat yogurt (or whipped cream.  She doesn’t judge early hour whipped cream consumption) would send this over the edge.  Waking up to a slice of this pie just might make you a morning person.  Watch out.

donuts and drinks party

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Miss Fats’ dreams came true last week.  You know how sometimes all of the forces of the universe converge at fix all problems ever?  This happened last week, and it will forever go down in history as the day of infinite donut luck.  (Now when she says “all her problems were fixed,” Miss Fats really means that a big ‘ol fried dough band aid was slapped across her life and the universe called it a day. Donuts can’t write papers, but they can definitely delay them.)  Anyway, one (miraculously) sunny morning, following one of the greatest classic raised donuts of her life (that shit was warm, but more on that in a future post), she received a text from J inquiring whether she’d “won donut party.”  Naturally, given the donut party that had just happened in her mouth, she went on an on about that classic raised.  To which J responded to check twitter.  Logging on she found a cryptic tweet-back to a response she had totally forgotten she’d posted.  Late the night before she’d suggested a party option for Glazed and Infused twitter contest to win a “donut party for 20-30 people.”  Pitching and “end of the year party,” Miss Fats forgot her lame idea and went to bed.  So naturally, this was a huge surprise come morning.  She’ll save you the boring details of correspondence, but within thirty minutes she’d secured her winnings and was well on her way to dreaming up the ideal donut bash.

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Miss Fats was now sitting on top of a sugary evening for 20-30 guests up at Glazed & Infused Lincoln Park location.  They generously offered the entire shop on a Friday or Saturday night from 9 pm ’till 2 am, and donuts for all of my guests.  Now luckily Miss Fats has a little party-planning position in her department and access to funds as a result.  She and her partner had been struggling to nail down an end of the year gathering given Chicago’s weather schizophrenia.  And here was the answer, delivered fried and delicious by Glazed & Infused.  This meant that Miss Fats had a significant chunk of change to supply drinks with the donuts, and turn the evening into a real party (“real” party according to society at large.  Miss Fats considers almost any occasion where fried dough is consumed to be a party.)  Now the trickiest part of this party was really getting enough stressed grad students out of Hyde Park and all the way up north during finals.  Miss Fats was real worried she wasn’t going to be able to make it happen.  However she seriously underestimated her department and friends love of fried dough and drinks.  By the end of the RSVP period she was sitting on a guest list of 60 + people.  Glazed & Infused was incredibly kind to welcome everyone and offer donuts for all.  Life was good. Miss Fats was looking at a trunk full of alcohol, a donut supply for 60 excited guests, and a whole shop to themselves into the early morning hours.

IMG_3674Glazed & Infused Lincoln Park shop turned out to be a nice, intimate space for the gathering.  The long, two-roomed space had plenty of tables and even a nice bar to display the wide variety of drink options (see above).  Abraham (the greatest donut store manager of all time), let them have full control of the sound system to pair some tunes with the treats.  All in all, this was literally the easiest party Miss Fats has thrown all year.  Glazed & Infused laid out an incredible spread of donuts throughout the space.  Baking sheets were piled with a variety of their insanely indulgent treats and Miss Fats was delighted to see tray after tray of fried dough keep coming out.  They had everything from a classic vanilla bean raised to Glazed & Infused famous bacon maple bars and a range of crazy goodness in between.  Miss Fats seriously had trouble containing herself while those donuts were laid out; and naturally, as soon as they appeared to be finished, she and J tore into those suckers.  Instant sticky fingers and happy faces.  This was preceded by an insane tasting session, as they ran around trying all the different types and shoving their favorites into their purses (bad form: yes.  But she knew it was worth waking up to an old fashioned glazed the next morning.)

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By then, guests had started to arrive and the evening had started.  Miss Fats watched group after group of people arrive and their eyes burst out of their faces as they saw the sugar smorgasbord.  Most people got super excited and dove straight into the selection, emerging seconds later with sticky faces and hands.  It was like a delightful return to a childhood sugar rush over and over again.  Only you got to top it off with a cool refreshing adult beverage afterwards.  Guests meandered around the room cutting off bites from every flavor, trying their best to select a favorite.  Given the pace at which people seemed to dig into the spread, Miss Fats was a little worried they’d run out.  She underestimated the crashing powers of the sugar rush and actual number of donuts out there.  That initial gorging moment seemed to create a premature end to the donut-consuming portion of the night.

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Alright, alright enough of the people, let’s get to the donuts.  Miss Fats tried them all (you know: for “research” purposes).  The flavor list included: old fashioned, chocolate old fashioned, vanilla bean glazed, chocolate glazed, bacon maple, coffee glazed, lemon blueberry glazed, pistachio passionfruit, apple fritters, banana cream cheese, and blueberry goat cheese. That’s right. Take a moment to marvel in that list.

In the end, Miss Fats’ favorites included the chocolate and traditional old fashioned, vanilla bean glazed, and the lemon blueberry.  Clearly Glazed & Infused does the classics well.  The old fashionds were both incredibly flavorful, moist, cakey donuts that were not too sweet, but still a sugary delight: ideal coffee pairing donut.  The vanilla bean glazed was the big surprise of the night.  She almost never goes for a simple raised donut at a gourmet shop, but boy was Glazed & Infused a beautiful surprise.  The massive glazed donut was light, airy and perfectly moist.  Total cloud donut.  Finally, the lemon blueberry was a summery, tart mouth party of fun flavors.  They were such a nice treat following the gallon of classic donut glaze that was filling up her gullet.  Refresh your pallet with one of these dude on your next donut binge.  Now Miss Fats can’t go finishing this post without a shout out to the bacon maple glazed.  This has become a staple at most gourmet donut shops, but she has to say that Glazed & Infused serves this up right.  It’s hard to get the right balance between the fatty, salty bacon and the super sweet maple, but these long johns hit that symphony of salt and sweet that Miss Fats is always looking for.  Despite the fact that the bacon just kind of sits in the middle, every bite strikes the balance and never leaves you just eating center meat portion and doing away with the scraps.

photo (16)Despite the fact that the combo of alcohol and excessive sugar caused most of her guests to sugar crash (sugar party hard) before the clock struck midnight, Miss Fats has to say this might be the most successful party she’s ever thrown.  An essentially endless supply of donuts and the company of all her friends created a fantasy sugar evening that will go down in friend dough history.  The insanity of her twitter prize still shocks Miss Fats, and she hopes all her guests enjoyed themselves and had the proper sweet hang over the next morning.  Miss Fats would like to extend a HUGE THANKS to Glazed & Infused for all their hard work, crazy delicious treats, and awesome space.  It was a great party success (people need to marvel just in the fact that Miss Fats got 40+ students to show up), and she could not be more pleased with her undeserved winnings. She hopes everyone now be inspired to see donuts as the new ultimate party food and go throw an excessive sugar bash themselves.   You’re guaranteed to have nothing but infinite donut smiles:

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THANK YOU, GLAZED & INFUSED!

Note: This post is not officially sponsored by Glazed & Infused.  But hey, they did give Miss Fats a free party.

Other Note: Sorry for the lameness of these black & white images.  Miss Fats was too busy eating to properly document this miraculous event.

Pastry Walkabout Part I

Miss Fats fears saying this out loud, but Spring may have finally arrived in Chicago.  Sure, she shouldn’t complain: winter was pretty damn mild, at least snow-wise.  But Miss Fats seems to have found herself with a small dose of SAD (confusing considering the fact that she spent most of her life in the greyest city on the planet) and needs some sunshine asap.  Well the last couple of days have BEEN ABOVE FREEZING AND SUNNY (say what?), which basically means spring is here in full force.  So she’s puttin’ away that parka and busting out the standard wool coat (hello, friend, I haven’t seen you in three months).  What spring means is Miss Fats can emerge from the toasty confines of her apartment and hit the streets of Chicago and continue to learn this city hard.

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Miss Fats’ favorite way to get to know a city is by walking the hell out of it.  She will literally just wander for hours: looking at buildings (fantasy apartment search), pop in and out of shops, and learn the streets.  But where to begin?  Rather than randomly selecting a place in the city, Miss Fats tends to orient these derives (pretentious grad student French nonsense) in search of a sweet treat.  Typically she’ll select a bakery, shop or restaurant that sounds tasty and head out into the unknown.  Where the wander takes her from there, no one will know/like there is such a thing as “unknown” with bestfriendiphone.

So, in celebration of Spring’s kickoff, Miss Fats will be sharing a couple of neighborhood/treat pairings to encourage all you winter hermits out there to emerge into the daylight, if only to grab a delicious cookie and quickly retreat back into your hole.

Lakeview (East): 

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Lakeview (right around Diversey), is a frequent wander spot for Miss Fats.  This is probably because critical elements of her livelihood exist here: Aveda Institute (for those cheap haircuts), Korean Tacos (more on those later), Trader Joes, and most importantly, Molly’s Cupcakes (2536 N Clark). Miss Fats’ first trip to this neighborhood happened about a year ago thanks to a groupon for a “new” cupcake shop in town.  Little did she know what she was in for.  This is Miss Fats’ go-to cupcake shop in the city.  It’s damn expensive, but they know how to make a decadent cupcake MIss Fats-style.  Her favorites include the Ron Bennington (peanut butter filled genius) and the Butterscotch (no words). They tend to abide by Miss Fat’s cupcake formula: gotta have a great cake base, tasty filling, and the right amount of frosting.  Miss Fats has now sampled more cupcakes from here than she’d like to admit, but she personally favors Molly’s more decadent cupcakes.  The fruit and pie-themed ones are solid, but the chocolate or sugar explosions are out of this world.

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So now you’re full of cupcake goodness, wandering around the shops and have purchased too many nuts and fancy things that come in little plastic containers from Trader Joes.  You’re debating whether or not to hit the zoo while you’re up here (I mean hey, why not? It’s free.)  While you’re deciding, Miss Fats recommends a stroll down Clark to Orange (2413 N Clark) for a weird, but refreshing sweet treat: Frushi.

Each day Orange serves up two frushi (fruit sushi) options: a maki (roll) and sushi.  Miss Fats tends to be a spoiled, annoying sushi snob, so you may be asking why she’s recommending this.  Because frankly, it’s not sushi.  It’s a deconstructed/reconstructed tasty rice pudding dessert.  The frushi Miss Fats had featured a little bed of thick coconut rice pudding topped with a mandarin orange slice, and the roll had some mango flavored rice action with a little grape on top.  Nonsense? Yes. Delicious and fun? Also yes.  Miss Fats encourages all of you to get out there and remember whimsy.  She knows it’s hard.  But winter is over, people.

Lakeview (West):

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Miss Fats hasn’t made her first journey to this neighborhood a couple of days ago.  She’s not sure why this particular stretch of the city had yet to be hit, but boy had she been missing out.  Dinkels (3329 N Lincoln), people.  How could she have missed this?  Dinkels is the classic bakery that has everything from candies, to bright frosted buttercream sheet cakes and house made pastries.  Naturally, Miss Fats opted for their doughnuts.  These are no gourmet, bougie, $3 doughnuts: they’re just the classics served up without all the fuss.  For $1 you can get just about any flavor and Miss Fats ended up taking bakery boy’s rec: classic old fashioned.

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This was a SOLID doughnut.  The perfect dipper for your morning cup of coffee.  Crispy outside, tender inside and completely unassuming.  Miss Fats is glad Dinkels is so far away because it could be mighty easy to just pick one of these up with a cup of coffee everyday.

West Lakeview is perhaps less scenic than some of the other north neighborhoods, but this particular stretch has a number of great “Old Chicago” buildings and businesses.  It took basically all of Miss Fats’ self-control to not spend the entire day hopping from one diner to the next.  Those diner milkshakes were seriously calling her name, especially with a little sun shining on her back, but somehow Miss Fats managed to resist. (/will probably be back next weekend…)

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If you wander down Lincoln (with that Dinkels donut in hand), you’ll eventually hit Diversey and you should probably hang a right and head over to Fritz Pastry (1408 W Diversey).  Miss Fats had sampled one of their chocolate chip pretzel cookies at Wormhole Coffee a couple of weeks ago and was intrigued by this mysterious bakery that clearly understands the beauty of the chocolate pretzel combo.  After a little googling she learned of their doughnuts and it was a no-brainer. Had to happen.  Unfortunately Miss Fats lives very far from here and was not able to get herself that far north in time for a doughnut.  All sold out. Oh well.  The cute little shop had some tasty cookies left for her, so she selected a chocolate peanut butter oatmeal.  This was a damn good cookie.  Better than the pretzel (shocking, I know).  It was surprisingly crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.  And, of course, excellent salt balance.  Miss Fats could have used a little more peanut butter flavor (naturally), but overall this was a lovely cookie/sunshine experience.

Lincoln Park/ De Paul:

IMG_2426So Miss Fats would probably never live in Lincoln Park (hah! not like she could ever afford it), but it makes for a pretty walk and is kind of the ideal spot to pick out your future fantasy home.  She’s a big fan of wandering down Lincoln Park’s many quiet side streets that boast fancy townhouses kept safe by little pristine gates (fear me, Lincoln Park!).

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She knows this neighborhood has a TON of bougie bakeries and food shops, but the reason why Miss Fats continually returns is for Sweet Mandy B’s (1208 W Webster).  Yeah, yeah.  I’m sure you are all sick of hearing about this glorious bakery.  It’s been featured on tv shows, magazines and is continually raved about.  Which is usually something to be weary of, but for once the bakery is worth all the hype.  Miss Fats loves Sweet Many B’s because it fails to ascribe to all the fads.  This is a classic bakery that is only concerned with making delightful and damn good-tasting treats everyday.  You’re not going to find a tomato cupcake here; only chocolate covered marshmallows topped with sprinkles.  It’s hard to resist buying everything here, but Miss Fats favorite is the  Toffee “Cabinet Pudding,” which is basically bread pudding made with leftover cake.  THAT’S RIGHT.  So it’s Sweet Mandy B’s insane caramel sauce that hooked Miss Fats from the get-go.  The perfectly salty, sweet, buttery sauce is pure heaven.  And the cabinet pudding features chunks of moist chocolate cake drenched in this sauce.  It’s literally one of the most incredible desserts Miss Fats has ever put in her mouth.  It’s not always around, so if you see it: get on it.  Order it immediately and ask them to warm it up.  Then sink into it’s moist, gooey indulgent center.  Miss Fats dreams about the bottom of this dessert: where all the caramel has pooled and created a soft layer of soaked cake and salty-sweetness.

Miss Fats’ ultimate afternoon in Lincoln Park includes a long wander through the neighborhood so she works up a serious appetite for that pudding.  She takes that pudding to go and strolls down to the movie theater a couple of blocks away, parks herself in front of a screen, and dives into that dessert.  Most of the time when the lights come up, Miss Fats finds herself covered in caramel sauce: like she cares.  Did you see that pudding? She got to eat that.

So Miss Fats has officially over-excited herself.  She needs to take a break and think some more about that cabinet cake.  But she’ll be back with part two of this post that features an array of traditional treats and weird dessert options.  Go out and explore in the meantime.

Also, these are just Miss Fats’ favorites, but as you’ve now read, she’s always in for a new adventure.  Has she missed any critical shops in these neighborhoods? What are your favorites?

No MORE: Brown Butter Pear Cupcake with Goat Cheese Frosting

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Miss Fats is dedicated to sampling cupcakes across the city in search of her favorite shops and baking inspiration.  And naturally she does her research.  This has taken her to some hits and misses, but there’s been one shop haunting her for the last eighteen months now: More.  This super fancy Gold Coast shop has been featured on numerous lists and television specials, boasting “creative” and “boundary-pushing” cupcakes.  (ensue eye roll)   Part of Miss Fats’ hesitation stems from her belief that its a damn cupcake and there’s a certain degree of homemade simplicity involved in any truly successful dessert.  Not to mention flavor and texture should come way before any decorative nonsense.  Ok. Done with rant.  Anyway, Miss Fats finally sucked it up and decided to try out these infamously strange cupcakes.

IMG_2202Their tiny little shop featured a wall of stark plexi fancy time.  She wasn’t entirely sure she was getting “food.”  However she pushed on, and inquired about popular flavors and recommendations.  She ended up with one of their salted caramel cupcakes (more on that later) and a goat cheese walnut pear.

IMG_2209(Miss Fats apologizes for the poor photography.  This cupcake was consumed in a bar nearby.)

Now Miss Fats has had goat cheese involved in her cupcakes before (not to mention crazy delicious goat cheese cheesecake), so she thought this cupcake would be a safe median between their disgusting-sounding tomato cupcake and the more traditional flavors.  However she was so so wrong. This was one of the most confusing and unpleasant cupcake experiences of Miss Fats’ life (and she has had a lot of cupcakes).  The dry dry mass of cake was flavored with dried thyme, which brought out an overly savory flavor in the goat cheese frosting.  The frosting itself was oily, and super goaty, which would have been fine if the cake had been sweeter and less crazy savory.  Miss Fats felt like she was eating some weird goat cheese spread that had syrup poured over top and was left to sit out and dry up for a couple of days.  Don’t even get her started on the filling.  She’s not even sure what happened.  The pathetic little patch of pear foam/watery jelly (?) had absolutely no pear flavor and was just lost in the mess of herb and cheese.  More’s cupcake has quickly risen to the top of most disappointing cake experiences of Miss Fats’ life.  She had about two bites, sampled the separate components, and threw her four dollar cupcake away.

But Miss Fats is not into a purely negative cupcake experience.  She believes joy can always emerge from cake.  She considered More’s flavor-texture failure to be a challenge: could Miss Fats do better?  Hell yes she could.  So she’s bringing her version to you all; welcome to the Brown Butter Pear Cupcake with Goat Cheese Frosting.

IMG_0241These little dudes feature a simple brown butter cake stuffed with a gooey pear filling and topped with a balanced goat and cream cheese frosting.  They are entirely sweet. No savory here, people.  Not to mention they’re damn easy.  The only slightly tricky step is browning the butter, but other than that, the cake can be made with one bowl.  The filling can easily be switched out for any fruit in season, or even any jam or compote you have on hand (Miss Fats would totally recommend  a scoop of Bon Maman pear compote or apple butter.)

IMG_0246For those of you who might think goat cheese frosting is gross, you are wrong.  Well you might not be wrong, but Miss Fats recommends trying out this recipe before you write it off.  Her frosting features a mix of goat and cream cheese, which allows for the tanginess of the goat to come through, but doesn’t totally over-power the other components.  The frosting recipe can (and should) be used to top some of your other cakes as well.  Who doesn’t want a carrot cake with a little goat action?

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Brown Butter and Pear Cupcakes with Goat Cheese Frosting:
makes approximately 18 cupcakes

cake: adapted from browned butter cake
3/4 cup butter
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt

filling:
1 bartlett pear, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
2 tbs butter
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
pinch of salt

frosting:
1 8 oz package of cream cheese (softened)
5 oz of goat cheese
1/2 cup butter (softened)
4 cups powdered sugar (depends on how sweet you like it)
1 tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla
juice of half a lemon
pinch of salt

1. make the cake: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  To brown the butter, heat pan over medium heat and add your butter.  Stir continuously as the butter begins to foam up.  Continue stirring as the butter begins to take on a rich brown color and creates an insanely good nutty smell.  Once it’s reached a dark golden tone, remove from heat so as not to burn.  Beat sugar and eggs until slightly thickened (about two minutes).  Once the butter has cooled slightly, add it and the milk, and vanilla and beat until just combined.  Mix in all the dry ingredients until just combined.  Fill a lined or greased cupcake pan with approximately 3/4 of the batter.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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2. make the filling: heat the butter over medium in a saucepan or skillet.  melt the brown sugar and flour in the butter.  Add the spices and salt.  Toss in your pears, and allow to cook for about a minute.  Adjust spices and sugar depending on how sweet your fruit is and your preferred flavor.

IMG_02713. make the frosting: beat cream cheese, goat cheese and butter on high speed until completely combined and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Beat in vanilla, lemon juice and salt.  Carefully sift in powdered sugar in stages, beat, starting on low and moving to high.  After about three cups of sugar, taste and decide whether or not you’d like to add the remaining sugar.  Finally, beat in the milk.

4. assemble the cupcakes: using a small spoon, remove the center of the cupcakes.  Fill with a heaping tablespoon of the filling.  Top everything off with the goat cheese frosting.  To keep it pretty, Miss Fats recommends filling a ziplock bag with the frosting and cutting the tip off to create a little ad hoc pastry bag.  Swirl it on top and finish off with a little slice of pear.

IMG_0276Miss Fats hopes you all enjoy these cupcakes as much as she did.  This is a bit of a working recipe, so she’s not completely satisfied with her current filling.  It might just be the pears she got, but Miss Fats thinks they need a bit more intensely pear flavor.  Her current filling more closely resembles the flavors of good old fashioned apple pie.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but next time she’ll probably cook those down into a tasty jam-like filling.  Any you readers out there have a suggestion for some super pear flavor?

Brunching at Nightwood + Sunday Sundaes at George’s

Team Miss Fats hasn’t spent much time in Pilsen, so they were excited to venture into this neighborhood to get their brunch on. (Though they fully recognize this brunch is a NOT a representation of Pilsen’s excellent Mexican restaurants.  THEY WILL BE BACK FOR MEXICAN BREAKFAST. DO NOT WORRY.)  Nightwood has been at the top of their lists for a while, but is way far out of their price range.  But per Miss Fats’ style, brunch is always an option.

And what could make Miss Fats more excited?  Surprises.  Nightwood does not have a set menu and changes their options every week, so they only had a vague idea of what they were in for.  Look at the super cute hand written menus:

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Miss Fats thought listing just “fried skin” (what animal? who cares.) as an ingredient was pretty dope.  Game on, Nightwood.

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Bacon butterscotch donut

J: Having had an extremely unpleasant experience with the Maple Bacon Manhattan at The Southern, Miss Fats avoids bacon in places where bacon shouldn’t go. Actually, Miss Fats generally never eats bacon, and doesn’t understand why it’s such a thing. (Go ahead, lose all respect for Miss Fats as a person right now. Go ahead!!! She’s used to it.) This wasn’t half bad though. Except when her “better half” dropped the last bite on the floor. Doof.

M: Miss Fats is just going to say it: this is the best donut in Chicago.  (Maybe even one of the best things in the city.) Hands down.  Fuck. No words. SALT. SWEET. CRISPY. SOFT.  Miss Fats isn’t even sure how to go about describing this incredible treat.  It was literally the most heavenly contrast between the soft, fluffy cake center and crisp tender outside that was smothered in butterscotch glaze.  Don’t even get her started on the crispy bacon goodness. BEST.  This is the stuff of dreams.  Which turned into a nightmare when she dropped the last bite:

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THE SADDEST PICTURE YOU WILL EVER SEE.

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Chocolate cherry cashew donut

J: This was a pretty great donut. There wasn’t really a detectable cherry flavor, it was more like the very very distant memory of a chocolate-covered cherry. Both of the donuts came with three tiny donut babies. Free baby donuts! Miss Fats really likes when food comes with extra food, like how when you order a Bloody Mary you get a free surprise snack. Sometimes it’s celery, sometimes it’s cheese-stuffed olives, you never know! Sometimes you order a donut and you get donut babies! The only bad part about the choco donut is when Miss Fats dropped one of the cinnamon-sugar babies on the floor. Doof. (see above if you want to cry again.)

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M: Again: donut bliss. Miss Fats is such a huge fan of donuts she’s not sure this is even a fair subject to discuss.  And what’s basically the only thing Miss Fats loves more than fried dough? CHOCOLATE.  So obviously she was all over this shit.  Usually chocolate donuts are a little too sweet with their glaze, but this shit was filled with the tastiest, perfectly salted ganache.  She agrees with the other Miss Fats, however.  No cherry.  She wishes they had just omitted the flavor from the description or thrown a heaping spoonful of tart cherry preserves right on top.

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Hello! I am cherry sales-kitten and I can help!

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Wood-grilled Butcher + Larder Polish sausage, sauerkraut, neon relish, peppers & onions, runny egg

M: This was Nightwood’s cracked out version of a polish sausage complete with Chicago’s token neon green relish.  Miss Fats seriously struggled to get this monster into her mouth, but once she did, she was all about it.  The sausage was so tasty: perfectly tender and full of porky flavor that wasn’t over powered by spices (sausage often has too much fennel seed for Miss Fats).  Obviously this paired well with the sauerkraut and runny egg: two ingredients that cannot fail.

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Pure joy.

J: What M actually said about this dish was, “I’M INTO YOU,” while pointing at it with her fork. Miss Fats forgot the sausage came with all that sauerkrauty gloop. Not a huge fan. It overwhelmed all the other flavors. Stupid bossy sauerkraut. But look at that eggsplosion! Best!

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Bagel sandwich – Rushing Water’s smoked trout cream cheese, slaw, bacon, an over-easy egg and tots

M: This was a very tasty bagel sandwich.  The crispy bagel (Miss Fats needs to eat more bagels) and crunchy bacon were paired with mustardy sauciness and (always appreciated) runny egg.  Despite fully enjoying this dish, Miss Fats is disappointed to report the lack of smoked trout flavor.  She is ALWAYS excited about the prospect of smoked trout (there may not be a better smoked fish) and could not wait to get her salty-fishy cream cheese on.  However the shmear fell short: little-to-no fish flavor.  Still a damn good sandwich, but she was all excited about that trout! Guess Miss Fats’ fish luck ran out.

J: The fish luck didn’t run out! We just transferred some of it for ultra convenient parking spaces and ice cream luck. The bagel sammy was better than the sausage, but Miss Fats had to remove some of the bacon, because you just shouldn’t do surf n turf n egg like this. TOO MANY ANIMALS. It was too much!!! Miss Fats got spoiled with the ginorm serving of smoked fish they received at Jam, so the cream cheese did seem lackluster in comparison. None of this really matters though, because have a look at these breakfast potatoes….

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tater tots

M: Ok these tater tots deserve a post all in their own.  Miss Fats could probably spend a full twenty minutes describing these to you.  Supposedly tater tots are a “food trend” now, but team Miss Fats has been munching on these suckers since birth.  Well maybe not these gourmet tots.  Nightwood’s tater tots were perfectly soft and tender inside and crazy crunchy deliciousness on the outside.  BALANCE. (Insert nonsense food talk about texture.)   This shit celebrated that potato.  Though Miss Fats will continue to order tater tots whenever she enters a bar, she will always remember just how good a tot can be.  And then probably run home and make a rez for brunch at Nightwood.

J: New plan is to contact chefs from Nightwood, Little Goat, and Jam, and have them make a mashed potato out of the Jam potatoes, then apply a Nightwood crispy filter and tempura fry them like Little Goat. It would be the best. The. Best. Ever. These were so so so so so ridiculously crispy. Each entree came with three of these golf-ball sized tater gems, but Miss Fats would have happily eaten a pile of these on their own, maybe with some different dipping sauces. #dreams
Oh yeah, and the fine staff at Nightwood kept our coffee cups FULL. So they get 10/10 coffee points from Miss Fats. Which is important. Coffee points are better than brownie points.

after-brunch

Miss Fats wanted to take a nap after this, but instead WAS AWESOME AND WENT ON MORE ADVENTURES.

Cut to Andersonville.  (Don’t ask why we made this jump.  Just know that some serious appetite was created in the process. Aka sitting in traffic listening to Top 40 and wishing we were at the Chinese New Year parade.)

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George’s – A new instant favorite for Miss Fats! George’s offers more options and amazing flavors than anywhere else around, with super cute chalkboard drawings & vintage photos with funny captions. And a photo of a raccoon eating ice cream with a bear or something. Yes please.

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How Miss Fats felt after they conquered George’s.

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coconut, birthday cake, horchata ice cream

J: This was a greedy combination of three flavors. Miss Fats could not decide between these three, pistachio nut, “Kitty Kitty Bang Bang” (a cheesecake ice cream with raspberry ripple, Oreo and chocolate chunks), and a raspberry soy ice cream that looked pretty darn yums. Unfortch, George’s doesn’t offer a size option for “Insane Gluttonous Food Bloggers Who Think They Can Justify Eating ALL The Ice Cream Because They’re Going To Write About It Later,” so Miss Fats had to choose.
The coconut would have been great on its own, as would the horchata, they were both subtle, rich, and got lost in the birthday cake wonderfulness. Miss Fats is a big fan of super tacky ‘party cake’ flavored ice cream, this was just like, THAT, but made out of REAL food ingredients. And had windex-blue swirlies in it! George’s horchata flavor was maybe a little bit too subtle for us, the cinnamon rice-milk gelato at Cafe Spiaggia really hit a better balance with their spices. Overall, Miss Fats found everything they tried at George’s to be better than Baume & Brix’s Fish Cream. SHOCKING!

IMG_20051 scoop Heaps of Love: oreos, pecans, caramel, chocolate ripple, cookie dough in vanilla ice cream; 1 scoop Yippie Skippie: peanut butter cups, caramel ripple, and more crack Miss Fats cannot remember; topped with hot fudge and peanut butter

M: Miss Fats fears she may have just given you a sugar attack just by listing those ingredients.  This was literally the most indulgent chocolate-cookie-peanut butter-caramel crazy time that Miss Fats has ever had.  It was someone gave her free reign and asked her to list all her favorite sweet treats and shoved them into a sundae.  She’d like to think that her six year old self dreamed this one up, but let’s get real: this is pure adult Miss Fats.  Not even child Miss Fats would have even gone this far.  And boy was that good.  While picking flavors Miss Fats was faced with her usual crisis: top with hot fudge or peanut butter??  She asked the kind woman at George’s which to do, and she made the reasonable rec to go with fudge… and THEN TOPPED IT WITH BOTH.  WIN. It was like every spoon full was a new treat: Miss Fats spent most bites exclaiming what new discovery she’d made.  This sundae is purely for chocoholic professionals.  Beware of choco-salty-sweet flavor explosion.

Hey, it also turns out it was the one month anniversary of Miss Fats! Four weeks ago Miss Fats was enjoying/taking unprofessional photos of some sundaes on a Sunday… and Sunday Sundaes was born. Miss Fats didn’t realize this till they were deep in the middle of today’s ice cream divertissement and had a bit of deja vu. Yay Team Miss Fats!!!

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cat art from the Andersonville Galleria, where there were no treats. but that’s a story for a different day…