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February 28, 2013

Recipe for sugar-free applesauce muffins with raisins and pecans

Sugar-free applesauce muffins, great for breakfast or dessert.

Lucky for me, I like my sweets on the not-too-sweet side, and that's a perfect description of these sugar-free applesauce muffins made with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. The muffins had to have raisins, because I love raisins. And they had to be sugar-free. And they had to be sturdy enough to hold a birthday candle for my friend Charlotte, because I made these muffins for her. Considering all of those "had to" items, they tasted pretty terrific, especially just out of the oven slathered with unsalted butter. No-sugar-added applesauce makes a great substitute for sugar, and it helps keep baked goods moist, too. I used a muffin top pan, because I only like tops, but you can make regular muffins if you like the bottoms. Muffins usually don't keep very well, so make these for a party or a brunch, and eat them the day you make them.

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January 17, 2013

Recipe for brownie cupcakes

Rich and gooey brownie cupcakes, for children of all ages.

Three ways I know I am not a natural born baker: (1) I hate to measure; (2) It never occurs to me that my pantry always has all of the ingredients needed for basic cookies, cakes and muffins; and (3) If what I'm baking doesn't contain chocolate, I just don't see the point in making it. Over the holidays, while cleaning out my pantry, I discovered three (!) tins of Hershey's cocoa powder. It was a sign, and these brownie cupcakes, made from a recipe on the Hershey's web site -- with a bowl and spoon, and no mixer to clean -- were the result. The cupcakes are slightly gooey inside, as good brownies should be, and they were rich enough without frosting, though you certainly could frost them, and add sprinkles and nuts and M&Ms and anything else. I had a bit of royal icing on hand, and used that for a simple swirl. We stored leftovers in an air-tight container for two days, which was the limit of how long we could hold out before finishing every last bite.

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November 29, 2012

Whole wheat walnut cocoa brownies recipe

Whole wheat walnut cocoa brownies: no mixer necessary.

After a week of turkey leftovers and repurposed vegetables, I needed a brownie, one that would be quick and easy and offer near-instant gratification. You know I'm a bake-o-phobe, so when it comes to baking, I don't mess around. I start with a proven recipe, and tweak here or there, changing the flour, adding or subtracting nuts or fruits or spice. When it comes to chocolate, I don't mess around, either. I know what I like, and what I like is good old Hershey's cocoa, sold in the baking aisle of every supermarket in America. This recipe came together in minutes, without hauling out the big stand mixer, and rewarded me with the rich, deeply chocolate satisfaction I craved. The original recipe claims you can store the brownies for two or three days. In my house, they disappeared overnight.

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November 6, 2012

Vanilla extract (Recipe: chocolate chip ice cream cookies)

First published in October 2006, this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos, links, and a few tweaks to the recipe. Try this variation with dark chocolate chips, for a deeply satisfying chocolate cookie treat. (Where's the ice cream? It's in the dough.)

Chocolate chip ice cream cookies, with the ice cream in the dough.

Chocolate and vanilla, the culinary Romeo and Juliet: grown in different areas of the world, stored in different parts of the pantry, but they find a way to be together in the end.

All the great chocolate desserts — ice cream, brownies, cakes and cookies — depend on vanilla to enhance the chocolate flavor. The Aztecs may have discovered this synergy, but the first people to spread the word were Spanish conquistadors, who got hooked on a chocolate drink flavored with vanilla at the court of Moctezuma, and sent vanilla pods back to Spain.

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About The Perfect Pantry®

  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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