Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Extra Rich and Buttery Toffee Biscotti

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

One last cookie recipe - just in time for Christmas. 

Question: What happens when you accidentally double the amount of butter in a biscotti recipe?
Answer:  Delicious, rich, buttery biscotti

It was an honest mistake.  A happy accident.  The recipe said 3/4 of a stick of butter and I saw 3/4 of a cup.  It only dawned on me halfway through baking, which is when I started writing this.  I took a look at last year's recipe and thought - only a 1/3 cup butter in this one, that's funny. Whoops.

Similar to last year, I divided the dough in half and made two varieties:  Toffee and Dark Chocolate & Cranberry.

Toffee Biscotti

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup toffee bits

To make half Dark Chocolate & Cranberry
Divide dough in half, then add 1/3 cup toffee bits to one half of the dough, and 1/3 cup each dark chocolate chips and cranberries to the other half.  Follow rest of recipe as below.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Combine flour with baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
Cream butter with sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, 1 at a time.
Stir in flour mixture until combined. Stir in dark chocolate chips and cranberries.

Gather dough together in a large ball and divide in half. Shape each half into a 2-in.-wide and 3/4-in.-high log. Place logs 3 in. apart on parchment paper lined cookie sheet as they will spread.

Bake in centre of oven for 20 minutes, then flip pans (bottom rack moves to top rack and vice versa). Bake for an additional 15 minutes until tops are nearly firm but golden.  Remove from oven and let stand until loaves are cool enough to touch, about 10 min. Cut each diagonally into 1/2-in. slices and lay each cookie on its side. Continue baking until very firm and golden brown, about 20 more minutes.  Store in an airtight container up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 month.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Brown Sugar Cookie Cut-outs

If there is one cookie recipe that I make every year, without exception, it is these brown sugar cookies.  Our family calls them 'brown sugar cookie cut-outs' - not as inspiring as 'Spectacular Sugar Crusted Christmas Stars', but honest and straightforward.  These treats don't need a fancy name - they are simple and fun and easy to make and decorate.  A kid pleaser (inner child, too).  You can get as crazy as you want with the decorating - I usually stick to sprinkling colourful sugar on top before baking.

Normally, there is a variety of shapes - from trees and sleighs, to snowflakes and bells.  This year I chose stars, as I received a nice set of different shaped stars as a gift.   Look how pretty they are!  Too pretty to eat.  These stacked stars would make a nice centrepiece for a cookie tray.

Brown Sugar Cookie Cut-outs
a family recipe, origin unknown

1 cup all purpose flour, sifted, plus another 1 cup set aside
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Blend 1 cup of the flour with baking powder and salt.

Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and continue to beat until well blended.

Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture, then add enough of the remaining one cup flour to make dough stiff enough to roll,

Work together with your hands and form a large ball of dough, or two smaller balls of dough.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Roll dough out to about 1/8 inch on a well floured surface.  Use cookie cutters or (biscuit cutters) to cut into shapes and transport to a cookie sheet.  Sprinkle liberally with coloured sugar and bake at 375 for 7-8 minutes.  Let cool on cookie sheet for 3-4 minutes before setting on wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Dark Chocolate & Pistachio Cookies

It's that time of year 
When the world falls in love 
Every song you hear seems to say
"Merry Christmas - May your new year dreams come true"

My new year dreams have dark chocolate, pistachio and sea salt in them - how about yours?

Dark Chocolate & Pistachio Cookies
slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
1 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
coarse sea salt for topping (optional)

Cream butter and both sugars until pale and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and mix thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.  Add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix well. Mix in pistachios and chocolate chips.

Spoon dough (1 to 2 tbsp depending on how big you like your cookies) onto greased or parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 16-18 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Mulled Wine Crumble Squares

If you are looking for something a little different to add to the traditional shortbread, sugar cookie, and brownie tray this holiday, try these little squares out.  I was intrigued as soon as I saw the title, and added it to my baking list immediately.

The cranberries add a nice little tang - and the sugar in the crumble and crust balance the tartness nicely.  In all honesty, if you are not a fan of cranberries, these may not be your first choice. However, if you are like me, and enjoy the fresh tang of grapefruit, cranberries or lime - I guarantee these won't disappoint.

Mulled Wine Crumble Squares
adapted from Butter me up, Brooklyn!

For the crumble:
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened and cut into pieces

For the filling:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp orange juice
1/2 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups whole cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
pinch of salt
1 tbsp sugar, as needed

Start making the filling first.  In a medium sized saucepan, bring cranberries, orange juice, red wine, sugar and spices to a simmer.  Leave the lid on for 8 minutes, stirring every once in a while, and then remove lid and continue to simmer for another 8-10 minutes.  Cranberries are tart - so take a little taste - stir in an additional 1 tbsp of white sugar as needed.   Let cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

While you are waiting for the filling to cool, make the crumble.  Combine flour, oats, sugars, cinnamon, and baking powder in a medium-large bowl.  Work the butter in until crumbs the size of flakes and peas form.

Press 2/3 of the oat mixture firmly into a 8x8 pan lined with parchment paper.   Once the filling has cooled, spoon over top and distribute evenly.  Scatter the remaining oat mixture over top, and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Let cool completely before removing from pan.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Sweet & Spicy Pecans

Last Christmas, our friend Lindsay brought these over as a little hostess gift, and my husband raved about them.  Lindsay graciously provided the recipe and I safely tucked it away until the festive season rolled around once again.  After one thing or another, we finally got around to crafting these little fellas last night.

These are so easy and fast to make - and an equally simple and fast clean-up.  Guests show up unexpectedly? Home-made snack in 20 minutes.  Creating a cheese tray?  Perfect addition.  I think these are being added to our annual holiday must-make list. The only problem? Ensuring they last until the guests arrive.

Sweet & Spicy Pecans

3 cups plain, unsalted pecans
4 1/2 tsp maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp salt 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and lightly brush with oil.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  If you prefer more sweet than spicy, reduce the cayenne pepper to 1/4 tsp and increase the sugar by 1 tsp.
Spread pecans in single layer on baking sheet.

Bake in for 8-9 minutes, and flip the pecans.  Return to oven and bake for an additional 9 minutes.

Immediately upon removing from the oven, use a spatula to lift pecans from sheet.  This will prevent them from sticking to the foil.  Let cool on baking sheet.  Store in a tightly sealed container.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Confetti Cupcakes

I get it. I finally get it. All this time, I have been baking cakes with all-purpose flour when I really should have been using cake & pastry flour.  I always looked at it askance in the grocery store, like, why bother? Cakes taste great with all-purpose, what difference could it make? Well, as you may have guessed it, it does make a difference.  I am won over.  Looks like I have to go find another flour canister for my counter top.

An avid reader of How Sweet Eats, I purchased Jessica's cookbook in September.  This is the second recipe I have tried (the first was the brown butter banana bread).  I wanted to make cupcakes for a bake sale, and I wanted to try something new.  Jessica doesn't devote a lot of space in her cookbook to baking, so I figured, if it made it into her cookbook, it must be at least half-way decent.  Well, yum YUM yum - these are possibly the best cupcakes I have ever made (best muffins are these ones).

I doubled the recipe, didn't bother with the egg whites and reduced the sugar a tad.  Enjoy!

Confetti Cupcakes
slightly adapted from Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant

3 cups cake and pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups white sugar
3 eggs
4 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
2 tbsp vanilla
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sprinkles

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
In a separate large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, add the eggs one at at time, beating in between, Add oil and vanilla and mix until well combined.
Add half the flour to the butter mixture, then half the milk and stir.  Add the remaining flour and milk and continue to stir until thoroughly mixed.

Spoon batter into cupcake liners until 2/3 full and bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until cake tester inserted in middle cupcake comes out clean.  Makes 24 cupcakes.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Swedish Chocolate Cake

I read quite a few baking blogs.  There are some amazing bakers and bloggers out there - with incredible creativity and talent - but most of the time I just enjoy browsing and maybe one in 100 recipes I will actually bookmark for later. This represents the one percent.

This was my first experience with Swedish chocolate cake - and I am hooked.  It's like a really really big brownie with a soft, gooey centre.  This cake is best served warm, but it won't be turned down once it cools. Trust me. When we were down to the last decadent piece, my husband begged me to make another.  He was dreading the come down. I think I will have keep this tucked away in my recipe arsenal for a special occasion.

Swedish Chocolate Cake
slightly adapted from Top With Cinnamon by Izy Hossack by way of The Vanilla Bean Blog

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons salted butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup, minus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour, sifted
3 eggs
2 tbsp icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350. Line, grease, and flour a deep 6-inch cake pan.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients until completely combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan, and bake 30-35 minutes.  Be brave and just trust me on this.  Bakers are trained to know when our cakes are ready - through hard-won experience - but ignore your instincts this time. If the edges of the cake are hard, but the middle is soft - she's done.  We want this cake to come out now.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack, dust with icing sugar and serve warm.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Apple Cinnamon Buttermilk Waffles

I love waffles, pancakes, and french toast - which really shouldn't surprise anyone that knows me.   I love them for breakfast, for brunch, and even for dinner.  I loved them so much as a kid, that I even chose pancakes for my birthday dinner one year, much to my grandfather's dismay.  My grandfather and I shared a birthday, and he used to drop by our house for dinner.  According to my mom he ate them with a smile although he was a meat and potatoes kind of man.  I have no doubt these pancakes were chased by chocolate cake for dessert.

I recently purchased a waffle-iron - after years of wishing I had one, but never actually pulling the trigger.  I had my eye on a Belgian waffle-maker with removable plates (important).  One day the one I had my eye on went on sale and I just bought it before I could stop myself.

So we have been eating waffles quite a bit lately, trying out different recipes.  This is the best one so far, inspired by the grated apple in this cake.  I have an idea of adding whipped apple butter for an even more decadent or special occasion - but for a lazy Sunday morning, these are perfect.

Apple Cinnamon Buttermilk Waffles

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup grapeseed, canola or vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 Granny Smith apple, grated

Apple Cinnamon Topping
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/4 cup water, plus 1 - 2 tbsp as needed
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Begin by peeling, coring, and chopping two Granny Smith apples.  In a saucepan over medium low heat, add the apple pieces along with the water, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Let the apples soften without letting all the water evaporate, about 5 minutes.  Add more water as needed.  Turn down the heat to low and let simmer until the waffles are ready.

While the apples are cooking, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar in a medium sized bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.  Set aside.

Preheat waffle maker to desired temperature.  While waffle maker is heating, peel, core, and grate the remaining apple.  Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture, and stir in the grated apple.  Be careful not to over-stir the batter.

Once the waffle iron is ready, dollop the batter in and cook according to the instructions.
Serve waffles immediately, with a generous serving of the apple cinnamon topping and syrup.

This recipe makes enough for two very hungry people, or 4 people as a breakfast side.  My waffle iron made 8 waffles (2 sets of 4) leaving a little batter left-over.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Maple Apple Upside Down Cake

Let's slow down.  Let's relax and live in the moment, and not think too far ahead.  It's November, and it's fall.  Breathe. Reflect. Red, orange, yellow and brown.  Fallen leaves and fallen soldiers.  It's time to remember.  Let's not get too carried away with all things red and green and sparkly - not yet.

Maple Apple Upside Down Cake is comforting.  It's simple.  It's just what we need right now.

This cake reminds me of my trip to Amsterdam - it's a combination of a Dutch Apple Pancake (left - look at the pretty blue and white tabletop - so Dutch!) and their famous Apfelkuchen (right), which I thoroughly enjoyed at the Rijksmuseum cafe.

Maple Apple Upside Down Cake
slightly adapted from Joy the Baker - Homemade Decadence

Maple Apple Topping
2 Granny smith apples, peeled and sliced into wedges
1/2 cup Canadian maple syrup
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter
2 eggs
1/4 cup Canadian maple syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated

Prepare the apple bottom (which ends up being the topping) first. In a greased 9x2 cake pan, arrange the apple wedges, fanned out in a circle.  Using a small saucepan, heat up butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg until the butter melts.  Pour about half of the mixture over top of the apples in the cake pan.  Set aside the other half.

In a separate saucepan, melt the 3/4 cup of butter and let cool.

While the butter is cooling, grate the apple. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium sized bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, maple syrup, brown sugar and grated apple.  Once the butter has cooled, add the butter.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Using a large spoon, dollop the cake batter on top of the apples in the cake pan. Careful not to move the apples out of their fan pattern.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate.  Drizzle the remaining maple sauce over top and serve.  We enjoyed this cake the next day but I imagine that it is terrific served warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you are feeling decadent.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Double Chocolate Baked Doughnuts

I have a great love of sprinkle doughnuts.  It is the one choice that is easiest in my life. Other folks might hum and haw, simply agonizing over the choice (or, is that just me?).  Not me.  I will pick the one with the most colourful sprinkles on it, every time.

I finally got the courage up to try making doughnuts again - homemade doughnuts are my nemesis. I am not talking about heating up a large pan of oil courage - I am not there yet. Maybe someday, with a fireproof suit and a fire extinguisher on hand. No - these are just the baked variety.  Now. my past troubles could be the fault of the recipes I was using - but much more likely to be user error.  So, this is my latest attempt.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.  My only issue is that they were a little crumbly - which could have contributed to (or resulted in) bits sticking to the pan.   I haven't had that problem before. Trust me, the pan was super greased.  But, at the end of the day, they taste pretty darn good. They taste exactly like...chocolate cupcakes in doughnut shape.  So why not just make cupcakes? Because, doughnuts. Doughnuts are like blondes - they are just so much more fun.

Happy Hallowee'en!

Double Chocolate Baked Doughnuts

1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup milk (or 1/3 cup half and half and a bit of water)
1 large egg
1/4 cup or 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted until just browned
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Chocolate Glaze
1 cup icing sugar
2 tbsp cocoa
pinch of salt
3 to 4 tbsp whole milk or half and half
1 tsp vanilla
Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat until it just begins to brown.  Remove from heat.  Sift flour into a medium sized bowl.  Add in cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  Stir.  Add in brown sugar and mix well.  Try to break down any lumps of brown sugar that form.  (Why does that always happen when mixing flour and brown sugar? Maybe it's just me.)  In a separate bowl whisk egg and milk (or cream or any combination of the two).  Add vanilla and slightly cooled butter.  Whisk until well combined.  Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until thoroughly mixed. 
Gently spoon into a well greased doughnut pan - only fill 2/3 of the doughnut cavity (or you will get muffins with weird bottoms) and bake for 11-12 minutes at 325 degrees.  Leave doughnuts to cool in pan on a wire rack for at least 5 minutes before turning out to finish cooling on the rack. 
For the glaze, start with 1 cup of icing sugar, the cocoa, vanilla, and 1 tbsp milk or cream.  Alternately add in more 1 tbsp of milk and 1-2 tbsp of icing sugar until you reach the right consistency.  If you tilt the bowl, it should be able to start moving gently downwards, but not too quickly. Wait until the doughnuts are fully cooled, dip doughnuts one at a time in the glaze and turning a 1/4 turn before removing and placing back on the wire rack.  Once all doughnuts are glazed, shake sprinkles over top before the glaze hardens. 

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Celebration Cookies

This past Monday marked my Gran's 93rd birthday. My Gran and I had a special relationship throughout my childhood and well into my mid-twenties - I was her only grand-daughter, and I was spoiled. Pretty dresses and jewelry, lunches out, and special sleepover weekends away from my brothers.  She would tell anyone and everyone that I was her grand-daughter.  We used to exchange letters - mine handwritten and hers neatly typed up as her handwriting was illegible (particularly to a ten year old).  When I stayed overnight, to help me sleep she would make me a mug of hot milk sweetened with honey.  My gran is now in a long-term care facility, and suffers from dementia.  She is blind, and has good days and not so good days.  I choose to remember her as she was in her prime.

Happy Birthday Gran - these cookies are vibrant and colourful, and always ready for a celebration, just like you.

I chose these super fun looking cookies as the first recipe to try from Joy's fabulous new book: Homemade Decadence.  I have bookmarked no less than a dozen recipes so far - the cakes, the cookies, the pies...oh my!  But back to these cookies - I have a bit of a thing for sprinkles, so it was just a matter of time.    

Celebration Cookies
slightly adapted from Homemade Decadence and here 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and mix thoroughly. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a spatula. Add 1/4 cup of the sprinkles.
Pour the remaining sprinkles in a bowl.  Roll approximately 2 tbsp of dough into a ball, dip in the sprinkles and place on a plate. Repeat. Makes approximately 16-20 cookies, depending on how big you make each ball. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes or until edges just start turning brown. I recommend checking your first batch at 10 minutes just in case.  Larger cookies will take a bit longer.
Let cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Rainy Date Night Brownies

Rain, rain, rain.  This recipe is for those evenings when it's not just raining.  It's not even pouring.  When it is absolutely bucketing down.  Buckets of blowing-sideways-drenching rain in fits and bursts.

Those nights make perfect date nights.   The kind of night to stay in, wrap up in a blanket and eat comfort food while watching episode after episode of The West Wing kind of night.  I mean who wants or dares to go out on a night like that?  A darling husband, that's who.  A man who will brave the storm to pick up some cocoa when simply nothing else will do but warm brownies topped with vanilla ice cream.  And these brownies are worth it.  I guarantee it.

Rainy Date Night Brownies
from 5 degrees of prep

This recipe makes just enough for two.

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour, sifted
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Lightly grease two mini cake pans (mine are heart shaped).  I think an oversized muffin tin would work just as well, but be sure not to overfill the cups.

Combine all ingredients in medium bowl. Mix well.

Pour into cake pans.

Bake 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick or fork inserted into the brownies comes out clean.

Serve immediately with vanilla ice cream!

Note:  I have also made these with half the amount of butter and reduced the sugar by a third, and it turned out just as good, just not quite as rich.  This is a good option, especially if you are topping the brownies with ice cream.  

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Muffins

It never fails.  Each year I sadly watch the days of September wind down toward the departure of summer, but every year it doesn't take long for me to remember how much I love the autumn. Fall is like an old friend you haven't seen for a while - comforting and warm - bring on the socks, scarves, blankets, and cups of tea.  It's nice to get cozy.

Every year I seem to discover a new pumpkin recipe to add to my list of fall favourites - two years ago it was this pumpkin bundt cake with cinnamon glaze, last year it was these pumpkin gingersnap cookies - and the winner so far this year is this muffin recipe.

 Lightly spiced, they remind me of a muffin version of the pumpkin gingersnap cookies.  You can see the black dots of the ground cloves!  Semi-sweet chocolate and spiced pumpkin are a match made in heaven.  I tried to (though only somewhat successfully) capture the orange hue in the photos.  These muffins are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea or coffee on a chilly autumn day.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Muffins
slightly adapted from Flourishing Foodie

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp oil
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Makes 10-12 muffins

In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, baking powder,baking soda, spices and both sugars.
In a medium bowl combine the egg, oil, and pumpkin puree.

Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture and combine. Add the chocolate chips, stir to combine, and spoon into muffin tin. The oil will keep the muffins from sticking to the pan, so no greasing or paper cups required.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Best served warm.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Beer Brownies

I love baking with beer.  They are one of the best ingredients to add to any chocolate cake or brownie recipe.  Plus, you only use half a can, so you get to drink the rest while it's baking! These just might be the best brownies I have ever made.

 A light crust, fudgey, and firm. Not dry or cakey - this is everything a good brownie should be.  And say no to frosting - a superior brownie just doesn't need it. I am always suspicious of frosted brownies - they probably came from a box.  (Having said that, I have never been known to turn one down).

These were the recipe of choice for a Saturday night get together with friends to eat, drink, and watch bad movies.  Yes, watch bad movies on purpose.  Beer + beer brownies + Flash Gordon = awesome.

Beer Brownies
slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup stout beer
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, and salt.

Melt 1/2 cup chocolate chips and butter in a small pan over low heat.  Remove from heat and stir in the stout.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and both sugars.  Add the chocolate mixture and stir.  Add the chocolate/egg/sugar mixture to the flour/cocoa mixture and stir until all of the ingredients are well combined.  Fold in the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

Pour into a greased 9x13 inch pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Let cool before slicing (if you can).

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Brown Butter Peach Coffee Cake with Streusel

This happy accident was the result of a bucket of overripe peaches on the brink of going bad.  What to do with them all?  Crisp?  Pie?  I like to combine peaches with other fruits for crisps and pies... well, really just blueberries.  I can't recall ever using any other kind of fruit. Blueberries and peaches, in case you couldn't tell by this mini crisp , this pie, or this big crisp, is one of my favourite combos. But, I digress.  What am I to do with all these peaches in my fridge?

This is adapted from a peach muffin recipe.  I did make these muffins last summer, but I wasn't totally blown away by them so it never made it onto the blog.  I wanted to use at least 3 peaches up, so I made a cake.   And, I was blown away.  So here it is, absolutely delicious, and worth a spot on here.

Brown Butter Peach Coffee Cake with Streusel
makes 1 loaf
adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook

7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 peaches, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease one loaf pan or line with parchment.
1. Brown the butter. Remove from heat, pour into a small bowl, and let cool to room temperature.
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
3. Mix together eggs, milk, and vanilla in a medium sized bowl. Gradually mix in the browned butter
4. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, and gently fold in the diced peaches. Pour into loaf pan.
5. To make the streusel topping, combine the butter, flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl and use your fingers to break it down into small flakes and pea-sized bits. Sprinkle over the top of the cake.
6. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Mini Blueberry Peach Crisps

I have a confession to make.  My husband and I ate an entire family size peach crisp recently in two days.  Now that is pure gluttony.  We kept coming back for just one more spoonful, and then one more, until it was at that point (and I know that you know what I mean) where we just figured, what the hey, let's just finish the dang thing.

Here is the solution - mini blueberry peach crisps!  Just enough for two small servings.  When you get to the bottom of that ramekin, that's it, that's all.  Pure satisfaction - no guilt.

On a side note - today marks two years that I have been blogging : )

Mini Blueberry Peach Crisps

1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oats
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 peach
1/3 cup blueberries

Combine the oats, flour, sugar and butter in a small bowl.  Using your fingers, incorporate the butter into the oats, flour, and sugar until it resembles small flakes.  Set aside.
Peel and dice a peach. Divide the peach and the blueberries evenly between two ramekins. Spoon the topping over the fruit and bake at 375 for about 20 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes, and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Blueberry Scones

These were supposed to be raspberry scones.  But, locally grown raspberries were not to be found on the days preceding this attempt, and I just can't buy fruit from the US in August, of all months of the year. It should be outlawed.  So, I missed the boat when it comes to locally grown raspberries, but blueberries were an excellent substitution, and no less enjoyable (I am not ashamed to admit that I inhaled three of these in one day).

These are deliciously soft and fluffy and not dry and crumbly like so many homemade scones.  These are not tea biscuits.  A scone has three essential ingredients - cream, sugar, and butter.  The original recipe calls for heavy cream and 1 tbsp of orange zest.  I used half and half and omitted the orange zest and I think they turned out perfectly. 

Blueberry Scones
slightly adapted from Ina Garten's recipe and Le Petit Brioche

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup cold cream
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
extra cream for brushing the tops
raw sugar for sprinkling the tops

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and mix together using a pastry cutter or your hands until butter is blended in small flakes or pea sized chunks.  Combine the egg and cream and slowly add to the flour and butter mixture.  Continue mixing until just blended. Its ok if there are butter bits - you want to keep those.  It's important that the mixture remain as cold as possible. Add the blueberries to the dough gently - some will smush, that's ok.

After sprinkling flour on your rolling surface, start kneading the dough into a ball.  Roll the dough out until is it about 3/4 inch thick.  You can shape it however you like - round like me, or properly square like professionals.  Cut into quarters once, and then once more - to make 8 triangles.

Brush the tops with cream and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are nicely browned.