October 27, 2013

Snickers Scones

My husband loves Snickers. I used to be more of a Milky Way girl, but my taste buds have expanded greatly as I've aged. (Kit Kats are still disgusting, though.) When I saw this scone recipe on Bake at 350, it was bookmarked since I knew it would earn me brownie points with my husband.

These are impressive scones in my humble opinion. They are sweet, but the dough itself isn't overly sweet. My favorite part of these scones was how nicely the scones themselves rose into fluffy mounds of deliciousness. This would be an excellent base recipe for other scone additions.

Snickers Scones
3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick butter, frozen
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped Snickers, frozen
4 oz. milk chocolate chips
3 fun-size Snickers, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 450°F, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or Silipat. Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  

Grate the frozen butter on the large holes of a box grater.  Stir into the flour until well coated.  

Whisk together the egg, buttermilk and vanilla.  Pour into the flour/butter mixture, and stir until just combined.  Fold in the chopped Snickers.

Scoop the dough out onto a floured surface, and pat into an 8-inch circle.  Use a floured bench scraper to cut into 8 wedges.

Place the wedges at least 1/2-inch apart on a baking sheet.  If any Snickers are poking out of the dough, push them back in to avoid the caramel oozing and burning while baking.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until golden.  Remove from the baking sheet, and place on a wire rack to cool. While the scones are cooling, make the topping.  Melt the chopped chocolate on medium power in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds or so.  Use a spoon to drizzle over the scones.  Sprinkle on the chopped Snickers. Makes 8 scones.

Let cool 10 minutes on a wire cooling rack prior to eating to avoid scorching your mouth.

October 25, 2013

Chocolate Tasty Balls

I made the original version of these and fell in love. I'm not the least bit offended my husband currently won't touch them because of the cinnamon (although he loved them originally). When I saw a chocolate version from How Sweet It Is, I knew I had to make them. I finally scrounged up chocolate-covered sunflower seeds to make these bad boys. I left out the cinnamon from the original recipe because I'm a nice wife.

These are fantastic. I might have eaten at least 1/4 of a batch already since I made them last night. Good thing I made a double batch.

Chocolate Tasty Balls
1 cup  rolled oats
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup sliced almonds, chopped
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
1 1/2 Tbsp. dark cocoa powder
A pinch of salt
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. mini chocolate chips
2 Tbsp. chocolate covered sunflower seeds
Ground peanuts or almonds mixed with a few pinches of cocoa powder, to roll the balls in

Combine oats, almonds, flaxseed, cocoa, chia seeds, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl and stir.

Melt peanut butter, and allow it to cool slightly, and then stir in honey and vanilla extract until it's combined. Once peanut butter has cooled a bit, pour it over the oat mixture, and mix well with a spoon. Then bring together with your hands. Once mixture is sticking together, fold in chocolate chips and sunflower seeds.

Roll dough into golf-ball sized (or slightly smaller) balls, and then roll in ground peanuts or ground almonds tossed with cocoa powder. These are best stored in the fridge. Makes about 12 to 15 granola bites.

Everything Crackers

Last month I made this Everything Hummus, and this month I made its counterpart from How Sweet It Is. These are flavorful crackers, but they do look a bit odd decked out with all the toppings. I followed the recipe fairly closely, but my crackers ended up being quite thick and taking much longer to bake. If you want thinner crackers that bake faster, split the dough into two before rolling to bake on two separate cookie sheets.

They're decent but probably not a repeat for me. 

Everything Crackers
1 cup wheat flour
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. cold butter
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
2 Tbsp. minced onion
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a food processor, pulse flours, salt and sugar until combined. Add in cold butter, and pulse until mixture is combined into course crumbs. Stream in milk while pulsing the processor until the dough forms.

Form dough into a ball with your hands, and chill in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic for about 30 minutes.

Flour surface and a rolling pin, and roll out chilled dough until it is very thin. Gently lift dough and place it on a baking sheet (or roll directly onto a Silipat for easy transfer).

Beat egg in a small bowl, and brush onto dough. Sprinkle with seasonings, and then lightly press to make sure they adhere.

Bake for 5 minutes, rotate pan, and bake for 5 minute more. Check crackers, and bake in 3-minute intervals until crisp and golden brown. Makes

Cake Batter Cashew Butter

I'd never eaten cashew butter, but that didn't deter me from making this Edible Perspective recipe. I'm glad I bought two bags of cashews for the project since I will definitely be making another batch. This tastes like cake batter, not completely, but enough to make it feel indulgent when you're licking the spoon. If you've never tried cashew butter, this is a great place to start.

Cake Batter Cashew Butter
2 cups raw cashews
1/4 tsp. fine grain sea salt
1/2 Tbsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1Tbsp. raw sugar
2 Tbsp. nonpareils (the sprinkles that are shaped like tiny balls)

Preheat your oven to 250°F. Roast cashews on a pan for about 30 minutes, turning once or twice, until lightly golden brown. Let cool about 5 minutes, and pour into your food processor.

Process until the butter is smooth, scraping down the bowl a few times. It should be smooth within 8 to 12 minutes. Once it is smooth, add salt, vanilla, almond extract and sugar. Process again until smooth, about 2 to 4 minutes.

Let nut butter chill until it is room temperature before stirring in nonpareils. Store in refrigerator for longer storage, although it spreads best at room temperature. Makes slightly more than a half pint.

Vanilla-Almond Sugar Cookies

If you want to be inspired to decorate amazing cookies, Bake at 350 is a must read. She has a fantastic sugar cookie recipe (see below) that holds its shape wonderfully and makes me swear a bit less than other sugar cookie recipes I've tried. I had no interest in being inspired to decorate amazing cookies, but I stumbled across this blog and learned the basics of decorating with royal icing in my second cake decorating class.

As if I really needed another hobby with a toddler and a newborn ...

And then I stumbled across The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle and her insanely cute little pumpkin pies.

I really didn't need another hobby. But I think I found one.

I only wish I actually loved eating or making sugar cookies or decorating them with an infant strapped to my chest. I'm not sure quite why I did this, but I think it has something to do with how friggen' adorable they are.

Vanilla-Almond Sugar Cookies
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup sugar
2 sticks butter, cold and cut into chunks
1 egg
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine the flour and baking powder, and set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts, and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture, and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.

The dough will be crumbly, so knead it together with your hands as you scoop it out of the bowl for rolling.

Roll on a floured surface to about 1/4" to 3/8" thick, and cut into shapes. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Freeze for about 5 minutes or chill in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes, and then bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the edges are golden. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies, depending upon the size cutter used.

October 22, 2013

Blackout Brownie Batter Cupcakes

I had bookmarked a couple brownie batter cupcakes, but this one from Cookies and Cups won due to its plethora of chocolate (and the fact it didn't use a boxed mix). These cupcakes are pure chocolate decadence. They rate as a top 10 cupcake for me, although I still couldn't tell you that complete list.

My only complaint on these cupcakes is the cupcake itself was slightly crushed under the weight of the brownie batter, frosting, brownies and chocolate drizzle. What a complaint!

Blackout Brownie Batter Cupcakes
Ganache Frosting
12 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
Brownie Batter Filling
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup dry brownie mix
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
Brownie pieces
Chocolate chips
3/4 cup milk chocolate, melted

Prepare the ganache first, by heating the cream until it almost boils. Pour over chocolate into a heat-safe bowl. Let it sit 3 to 4 minutes, and then stir until it's completely melted and smooth. Chill for at least 2 hours until the ganache is solid.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Put all cupcake ingredients into stand mixer, and beat for 3 minutes. Fill cupcake liners half full, and bake for 20 minutes until the centers spring back. Allow to cool completely.

To prepare the brownie batter filling, beat butter and brownie mix together until combined and smooth. Slowly add in powdered sugar, and beat until combined. Finally beat in cream until incorporated.

Hollow out the cupcakes, and fill them with the brownie batter filling.

Place chilled chocolate ganache into bowl of stand mixer, and beat until fluffy and smooth. Frost the cupcakes. Garnish cupcakes with brownie pieces, chocolate chips and drizzle with melted chocolate.

Makes 15 incredible cupcakes.

October 15, 2013

"Perfect Pizza Dough"

I didn't name this recipe from The Bread Baker's Bible. I probably wouldn't go so far as to call it perfect, but this makes a delicious crust. It's more effort than many versions, but it freezes well if you make a larger batch.

Perfect Pizza Dough
4 oz. flour
1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2.75 oz. water, room temperature
4 tsp. olive oil

Whisk together flour, yeast and sugar. Then whisk in salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the water. Gradually stir until a dough begins to form.

Pour the olive oil in a 2-cup measuring cup. With oiled fingers, place the dough in the cup, and turn to coat with oil. Cover tightly. If you plan to bake it soon, let it sit at room temperature until doubled, about 1 hour. If you plan to use later, refrigerate after 30 minutes to let flavors develop. Remove from refrigerator one hour before baking.

Preheat the oven to 475°F one hour before baking. With oiled fingers, use oil from measuring cup to oil the pizza pan. Gently shape the dough into a round. Let it rest 15 minutes, covered. Gently stretch into a 10-inch circle, leaving the outer edge thicker. If dough doesn't stretch, cover and let it rest a few more minutes.

Bake on a hot pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven for 5 minutes. Add toppings, and bake an additional 5 minutes. (Check after 2 minutes. If bottom of crust is golden, move to a higher rack.)

Makes 2 servings.

Melted Ice Cream Cupcakes

When I saw these at Confessions of a Cookbook Queen, they immediately topped my baking wish list. And when I went back to my old office, they were quite the hit.

I don't really have a recipe for these since I used a compilation of past recipes:
  • Sour Cream Chocolate Cupcakes for the base
  • Peanut Butter High Hat frosting
  • Random cupcake crumbles from the freezer mixed with peanut butter and frosting for the cake ball ice cream scoops
  • Chocolate and peanut butter melted together for the coating and melted ice cream
Lesson learned, though, with these adorable cupcakes: The sugar cones do not hold up well ... meaning they lose their crunch within 24 hours.

Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte

My indulgence at Starbucks is a chai latte. And that happens maybe a handful of times a year. I thoroughly enjoy chai lattes, but I'm just not a Starbucks person. I just consider myself lucky to get through a mug of tea at home without reheating it multiple times. (That's a rare occurrence with my two little men.) So when I found this recipe for a pumpkin version on Foodie with Family, I added the ingredients to my grocery list. (We were out of milk and didn't have pumpkin ... it's not a complicated recipe.)

This is excellent and makes an everyday morning with two sick little men much better. And for something to make my morning better after being up 4 or 5 times with my littlest one, that's a smile in a cup.

Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte
Pumpkin Spice Base
1 cup real pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 pinch of salt
2 Tbsp. Pumpkin Spice Base
1 cup milk
1 chai tea bag
whipped cream
fresh nutmeg 

Make the pumpkin spice base by combing all the ingredients together until it is evenly coloured and darkened. Scrape it into a clean container with a tight fitting lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
When the latte desire strikes, pour about 4 oz. boiling water over the chai tea bag. Let it steep while you prepare the pumpkin milk. 
Stir the Pumpkin Spice Base and the milk together in a microwave-safe 2-cup container or a saucepan until smooth. If microwaving, heat on high until steamy and frothy. If heating in a saucepan, heat over medium high heat until steaming hot. 

Pour the hot milk into the tea. Serve as is or top with a thick cap of whipped cream and a few scrapings of nutmeg. Just make sure you stir it occasionally unless you desire a thicker slurp of pumpkin as your last sip.

Canadian Bacon

Yes, you read that correctly. I have ventured into the world of curing my own meat. I could blame my husband for getting the smoker attachment to our new grill this summer, but there's no need for blame.

Curing meats requires pink salt, which I ordered online from Amazon. Aside from that, it requires a bit of time and a smoker.

This Canadian bacon from Bake the Bread & Buy the Butter turned out wonderfully. It's slightly smokier than traditional store bought, and it packs so much more flavor. Next up, bacon, just as soon as I find me some pork belly.

Canadian Bacon
1 gallon water
1 1/2 cups kosher salt
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup pink salt
1 Tbsp. vanilla
4-lb. pork loin

Combine the first four ingredients together in a large pot, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature. Stir in the vanilla, and chill overnight in the refrigerator.

The next day, place the pork in the cold brine. Weight it down, so it remains submerged. Let it chill out in the refrigerator two days. (See the time aspect?)

Remove the pork from the brine, rinse well and pat dry. Place on a rack in the refrigerator to air-dry for 24 hours

An hour before you plan to smoke the pork, take it out of the refrigerator to bring to room temperature. Following smoking instructions, smoke until the pork registers 150°F. You can fry the bacon immediately or keep in the refrigerator for one week. For longer preservation, wrap tightly and freeze. Makes about 3 3/4 lbs. of Canadian bacon.

Brown Sugar Banana Bread

This recipe is proof that sometimes you see what you want to see. I had a few ripe bananas and remembered flagging a banana bread recipe somewhere, so I decided to try the new recipe instead of my favorite. I found the flagged recipe on Cookies & Cups and thought it was a brown butter glaze the bread. Therefore, I browned my butter before making the bread to enhance the brown butter flavor. When I made the glaze, the recipe didn't call to brown the butter, so I was a bit confused.

Lo and behold, when I went to put the recipe up here and actually read the whole title: Brown Sugar Banana Bread with Brown Sugar Glaze.  Hmm. That'll teach me to reach. Still a good banana bread with a delicious glaze.

Brown Sugar Banana Bread
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 cups mashed banana (about 3 medium bananas)
1/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
6 Tbsp. butter, melted (or browned if you prefer)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 Tbsp. honey
2 1/2 Tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 5 loaf pan with with cooking spray liberally, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In another bowl, mix together mashed banana, sour cream, eggs, melted (or browned) butter and vanilla. Fold dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake for 45 to 50 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

Allow bread to cool in pan for 10 minutes. Run knife around the edges of pan to release any parts that might be sticking, and then remove from pan, transferring to a wire rack to cool.

In small pan, combine all glaze ingredients over medium until mixture reaches a full boil. Boil for 2 minutes, and then remove from heat. Let mixture cool for 5 to 10 minutes, and then pour over banana bread. Glaze will set up, and then you can slice the bread. Makes 1 loaf.