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.