Snow Day Pancakes

12 Jan

Waking up late on a snow day is an awesome feeling, and can only be topped by waking up late and making Chocolate French Silk Pancakes.  There is nothing I would change about this recipe- it isn’t too sweet, and the whole wheat makes me feel good about myself.  I sprinkled some pieces of ginger onto my pancakes, and my brother added chocolate chips, but I can see walnuts, cherries, and coconut all working well with the cocoa.  These pancakes are really light and fluffy, but filling.  Basically, just make them.

Clean- the- fridge Pumpkin Muffins

9 Jan

Usually, when I get in the mood for baking, it’s because I saw a really cool recipe.  This time, I saw an expiration date.  My buttermilk and pumpkin, both barely touched, were about to expire.  So, I pulled up a pumpkin muffin recipe that looked great and adapted it to make it a little bit healthier.  Nothing special, but these muffins look and smell and taste beautiful.  keep in mind that they’re not that swwet, though; they’re muffins, not cupcakes!  Enjoy!

Clean- the- fridge Pumpkin Muffins (adapted from  here)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-grain pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

3 tablespoons molasses

1/4 cup applesauce

2 large eggs

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup buttermilk

Turbinado sugar or crystallized ginger for the muffin tops (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a muffin tin with muffin liners or baking spray. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.

 In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, molasses, applesauce and 1 egg until combined. Add the other egg and whisk well. Whisk in the pumpkin and vanilla. Whisk in the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Whisk just until combined.

 Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and, if desired, sprinkle turbinado sugar or pieces of ginger. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 20- 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of one of the muffins comes out clean.  Cool, remove, and enjoy!

Apple of my Eye

3 Jan

I made muffins yesterday as mournful farewell gesture. Not a farewell to arms but a farewell to vacation. Let us have a moment of silence.

So yesterday I went to the kitchen with a mission! My mission was to eat any sweet treat available! Unfortunately due to certain healthy new years resolutions there was nothing at all sweet unless I was going to eat the bag of sugar! I thought about it for am minute but in the end decided against it keeping in mind the many ramifications that would probably be coming my way if  I did. There were however many fruits to choose from and lots of flour so I cracked open the Betty Crocker cookbook and got to work!

These Apple Muffins are so simple and quick a caveman could make them!  This is all you need.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 large egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup chopped apple (I used a Red delicious)

Simple as that!

Now there were a lot of directions after that but who has time to read all that fine print? So here’s what I did!

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Put whole apple in food processor and run until the apple has been chopped into pea sized bits

3. Chuck apple and other ingredients into a mixing bowl of your choice

3. Mix everything with a wooden spoon (seriously I recommend mixing with a wooden spoon because I’ve mixed it with a machine and it didn’t turn out well and I mixed it with a whisk and it didn’t turn out well)

4.  When all of the flour has seemingly dissolved and the batter is somewhat bumpy start pouring it into the muffin cups!

5. Put muffin pan and bake for 25- 30 mins or until the muffins are golden brown!

The result will be scrumptious muffins that will probably disappear quickly especially if you have other family members who like to sneak down for a midnight snack (but I’m just speaking hypothetically…shifty eyes…..)  If you run into any problems when making these here’s what probably happened.

Problem                             Cause

Didn’t rise                         Too much mixing or maybe you didn’t put in baking powder

Tough                                 Too much mixing or you didn’t put in enough fat

Tunnels                              Too much mixing

Compact                            Too much flour or too little baking powder

Wow I feel like the number one cause of problems here is too much mixing!

Ok hope you enjoy the New Year!  I’m going to go enjoy these muffins!

-LoveLace

Ring in the New Year with Chocolate Truffles!

1 Jan

I’m really sorry to do this to you. Truly, I am.

However–some things need to be said. Some recipes just HAVE to be shared. The love must be spread.

Okay, I’m just going to shut up now and let the chocolate speak for itself…

 

Chocolate Truffles

(adapted from my idol, Pioneer Woman!)

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate (or semisweet if you prefer a slightly less dark chocolate)
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 can (14 Oz) Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • a splash vanilla or peppermint extract (be sparing with the peppermint–that stuff is strong!)
  • 7 ounces good quality milk chocolate
  • sea salt
  • plenty of crushed candy canes

Instructions–Short Easy Version

Heat dark chocolates and condensed milk in a double boiler over medium low heat until chocolate is melted. Stir—mixture will have a slight marshmallow texture. Stir in vanilla or peppermint extract.

Remove from heat, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours. (Can be longer.)

Once chilled, roll into balls, then roll in melted milk chocolate coating. Either leave them plain, sprinkle with sea salt, or roll them in a bowl of crushed candy canes.

Instructions–Long, Drawn-Out, Eye-Candy version

Start off with the greatest ingredient list known to man.

Ghiradelli….Ghiradelli…..Ghiradelli…..ahhhhhh……

It’s..it’s SO BEAUTIFUL! *sniff*

And hey, while we’re at it, why not invite my dear friend Scharffen Berger to the party?

Ah, yes.

(Why a goat? Just wondering…)

MUCH better now.

I love chopping chocolate so much. It’s a problem.

Do we need a recap of this? This is 3/4 of the package of bittersweet chocolate chips, the whole bittersweet bar, and the 2 ounces of unsweetened chocolate (chopped). If you don’t want such a dark chocolate mixture, I’m sure you could use the same amount of different intensity chocolate.

But not me. I’m a chocolate purist.

We’re going to boil ourselves up some water in a medium size pan and set up our double boiler! Over the top of this goes the chocolate in an appropriately-sized glass bowl…

And it should start to melt in pretty short order. *sigh of longing*

Now, in goes the whole can of sweetened condensed milk.

(I don’t understand it either. I don’t ask questions, because sweetened condensed milk makes many things very delicious.)

Mix gently to combine, using a folding motion. It’s actually sort of pretty!

(Is that chocolate dripping down the lens of the camera in the upper left-hand corner? God, I hope so…)

Keep mixing, till the texture gets kinda funky. It’s all good, that’s what its supposed to do!

Now would be when you would add the vanilla or peppermint extract, if you wanted all one type. But me? I’m stubborn and I like lots of flavors.

So I split it up into two and did both.

Now: into the fridge they go. Or, if your fridge is as crowded as mine with delicious leftovers…..

Outside! It’s cold out there too, you know!

 

…and now, we wait. We admire our trash.

The only thing better than multiple wrappers full of Ghiradelli chocolate is multiple wrappers that USED to be full of Ghiradelli chocolate.

But WAIT! What is that on the back of the chocolate chip bag?

Oh, my. I never saw that.

…anyway! Fast forward one dinner outing to Chevy’s later, and the chocolate comes back inside and is painstakingly formed into balls.

Look at those beauties! (And perched on my absolute favorite thing in the world, a silicone baking mat–in festive green!)

We want to coat them, right? Right. So we get a new bowl and pull out the pot of boiling water again. Into the bowl goes A LITTLE MORE THAN HALF of the milk chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli again), and the remaining 1/4 of the bittersweet chips whose friends you used in the filling. (I used this mix to get a slightly darker than milk coating because I’m not such a fan of milk chocolate….but I suppose you could do whatever you want. I just want to impose my will on you.)

Over the heat till melted. Now comes the slightly tricky part: we want to temper the chocolate so that we get the ultimate coating. (Tempering means that we heat the chocolate to a specific temperature–105° if you must know–and then quickly cool it down to 90° in order to get the chocolate crystals in the right configuration. Once hardened, tempered chocolate will be shiny and have a nice snap when broken….

…like this.) So in order to temper our chocolate, what we want to do is wait just until the chocolate is melted, and then remove it from the heat and quickly add the remaining chocolate chips. Then, you stir, and as the new chocolate melts, it brings the temperature of the overall mixture down to the happy 90° temp. (If you have a candy thermometer, that’s helpful, because you can make sure that the chocolate reaches the 105° and then 90°, but it’s not necessary.)

Ready to coat!

Throw the balls into the milk chocolate and use a fork to get them completely coated.

If for some insane reason you think that the coating is too thick, roll the balls around on the upper inside edges of the bowl. The chocolate will stick to the bowl and leave the truffle alone. Use a toothpick to help you drop the truffles onto your silicone baking mat.

Before the chocolate hardens, take this opportunity to sprinkle the tops of some of the truffles with coarse sea salt.

…OR….instead of plopping the truffles straight onto the baking mat, you could drop them into a bowl of crushed candy cane…

…and then you could use your fork to toss them around and coat them completely, and then, like me, take a horrible picture of the coated truffle….

…and onto the festive green baking mat they go!

So pretty!

And you’re done! With that, you now have around 45 rich, fudgey truffles to do whatever you want with! Give them away…share them with your family…eat them all yourself…

And they have delicious sea salt, or crushed candy canes! How classy!

(The inside of my candy-cane ones was mint-flavored, which I thought was nice.)

And the sea salt ones were very interesting too. Altogether, making these was a great experience.

…even if my kitchen may have had the kitchen version of a hangover the next morning.

(Oh, and by the way, I was able to use some of the leftover milk chocolate for coating to make a pseudo-peppermint bark thingy.)

Happy New Years, everyone. Here’s to a year filled with laughter, good cheer, and–most importantly–abundant amounts of chocolate. 🙂

Breakfast.

30 Dec

Is it just me, or are mornings made a teensy eensy bit more tolerable by the fact that they often contain breakfast?

I don’t know about you, but for me, the only thing that gets my sleep-filled eyes to finally open is the thought that in approximately half an hour, I will be eating pancakes. Or eggs. Or oatmeal. Or a yogurt parfait. Or an english muffin. Or waffles. Or cereal. Or a bagel. Or scones. Or coffee cake. Or–the head honcho of all breakfast foods, the MUFFIN.

And, you know how it is, some mornings you get up feeling completely uncreative and you really couldn’t care less what you have for breakfast, and you end up just shoving a plain ol’ piece of toast or two down (preferably followed by a cup of coffee, which doesn’t often happen to me due to time constraints but I am in absolute heaven when it does) to keep you going until lunchtime rolls around. But some mornings, you feel inspired. You get up and think–the entire world of breakfast possibilities is open to me! I could have crepes this morning! I could make french toast! I could make a fruit salad! I could make donuts from scratch! I could fry myself up an omelet! Or maybe–maybe eggs benedict! (an example of a dish I hear about all the time, but have no idea what it actually is…) And then, if you are like me, you spend fifteen impatient minutes flipping through the one breakfast cookbook you own before deciding on some grand idea that (more often than not) gets shot down sometime within the creation process and you end up having the inescapable toast.

Thus it was the other morning. Both my mother AND I awoke annoyingly full of energy, and so we decided to branch out a bit and make something new! Something using the poor overripe bananas that were currently rotting on our counter. Something…chocolatey. Something like…oh, I don’t know…

Cocoa Banana Muffins!

And oh god were they good. : ) They had a distinct chocolate flavor without being super sweet (which, I hate to say, does actually start to grate on my nerves by the end of the holiday season. Sugar, sugar, sugar, and more sugar!) and were studded with yummy little chunks of banana. I’m a sucker for the chocolate/banana combo myself, so these were especially good. They turned out pretty moist (except the ones we overcooked…) and were impulsively snacked on for the remainder of the day.

My mom had this recipe stashed away in our recipe folder. It’s cutout magazine ad from probably more than a decade ago. (Just to let you know, according to it, the only appropriate oats to use are Quaker brand.)

Cocoa-Banana Muffins

adapted from a Quaker Oats ad

makes around 1 1/2 – 2 dozen muffins

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup oats (preferably quick-cooking)

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2)

1/2 cup milk

1/3 cup margarine, melted (I would imagine that butter would be fine too)

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

dash salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients; mix well. In a separate bowl, combine the mashed bananas, milk, margarine, beaten eggs, and vanilla; then pour over the dry ingredients. Mix to combine, but do not overmix–some lumps are fine. (The lumps taste like cocoa powder. You’ll live.) Line two muffin tins with cups (I like foil or silicone, but paper would work too) and fill the cups almost full. (If you are awesome like me and have cupcake tins shaped like Christmas trees, use those!) Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool, and then you can sprinkle them with powdered sugar if you want. (I didn’t feel the need.)

Pumpkin White Chocolate “Truffles”

29 Dec

As an avid reader of the fantastic HowSweetEats blog and an avid eater of delicious food, when I see a recipe like this one, I have to try it. 

I halved the recipe, and was very pleased when the truffles ended up looking fantastic and very elegant,as if they took an entire day to make.  However, they tasted much different than I expected, for many reasons.  A) My pumpkin bread that I used as a starting point was very moist, probably because our household, sadly, did not have an appropriate loaf pan.  (Also, because I was really hungry and couldn’t be bothered to keep the loaf in the oven for longer than necessessary.)  B) Because of this, I needed significantly less cream cheese to hold the “dough” together- instead of half of a bar (4 oz.), I used about 2.5 oz.  Finally, C) I ended up needing two bars of white chocolate, even though I halved the recipe.  Maybe this is because I’m an inexperienced dipper, but I felt like this was way too much.  Despite all of these complaints, I ended up with 20 beautiful, dense truffles (so dense and rich, in fact, that it was tough to finish even one) that would be great holiday gifts.

Cinnamon Rolls–Destined to Become a Tradition

28 Dec

Now that Christmas is over and gone, (*sniff*) we have some time to reflect on all the delicious goodies that the holidays brought to us…most notably for me, the discovery of homemade cinnamon rolls a la Pioneer Woman.

Because I’m such an unabashed flog addict (at the moment, I’m subscribed to, oh, 31 individual flogs on google reader…), I’ve been hearing a LOT of buzz about the food blog world about these cinnamon rolls. Especially so during the past few weeks, because with the coming of the holidays, the demand for cinnamon rolls–and sweet treats in general for that matter–has increased drastically. I must have seen references to this recipe five or six times before I had the good sense to go check it out myself.

What I discovered was a dangerous and powerful weapon.

As it turns out, cinnamon rolls are fairly easy and convenient to make at home. AND, when you make them at home, you actually have control over what goes into them, so you can not only skip Cinnabon’s step of dunking the rolls in atrocious amounts of butter (I mean, butter is delicious, but really? How far do you want to go with that?), but you can also be sure that your rolls don’t have things like azodicarbonamide and L-cysteine in them.(Yes, I googled that. Actual ingredients in a Cinnabon.) I won’t tell you the other nutritional information of a cinnabon roll because it will probably terrify you, but let me tell you, it is not pretty. On the other hand, my homemade cinnamon rolls actually were–dare I say it–not that bad for you. Shocking, I know! But it’s actually true. I modified the Pioneer Woman’s recipe in places to make them a little less artery clogging-ly delicious, and I really can’t imagine that there was that much of an impact on the taste. Most people who tried her rolls thought they were actually a little too greasy, so I cut way down on the butter and they were still very, very moist and actually benefited from a slightly more delicate, airy and sweet flavor! Win, if you ask me! I also slightly modified the rising procedure from the Pioneer Woman to Alton Brown’s (oh, do I love that man’s recipes) make ahead rising technique, partly for convenience and partly because I just wanted to see if it would work. With AB’s recipe, you can roll the buns the night before and keep them in the fridge so that nothing has to be done the next morning but let them rise and stick them in the oven. (can you say Christmas morning tradition?)

Although I did not make the Pioneer Woman’s icing myself, I imagine it would be very good. It has maple and coffee and vanilla and butter and seemed delicious. For my first batch, we had the glaze seperate, and we put it on after taking the rolls out of the pan, according to personal preference. I even tried a roll plain–still mind-blowingly delicious! Our glaze at first had just plain powdered sugar mixed with milk and a little maple syrup, but we thought it was a little lacking. I suggest that you use either maple extract or a lot of maple syrup for a strong maple flavor, or you add both syrup and coffee to the icing, or you just use coffee, or–here’s what I think would be good–replace most of the milk with orange juice and skip the syrup. I personally don’t like butter in my icing, but I also don’t like buttercream frosting, or cream cheese frosting, so that might just be my weirdness.

The bread that makes the roll part of these is *very* good, and I imagine that you could make it by itself as a roll, or as a filled roll, perhaps in a donut shape, as crescent rolls, or maybe even a slightly more savory than normal cookie. Or–do I dare suggest it?–perhaps a monkey-bread type application?….ohhhhhh my god I never said that…..

You know what? You’ve just simply got to try this recipe. You just have to. Go. Now. Try.

Cinnamon Rolls

adapted from The Pioneer Woman and Alton Brown

makes three pans of rolls, about 8 or 9 small/medium rolls per pan

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Milk (I used 1% because that’s what we had)
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 package Active Dry Yeast
  • 4 cups (Plus 1/2 Cup Extra, Separated) All-purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Tablespoon (heaping) Salt
  • 3 TB Butter
  • a little more than 1/2 cup Sugar
  • Generous Sprinkling Of Cinnamon (more than you might expect, be sure to have plenty stocked up)
  • 3 seven-inch round foil pans
  • Glaze (optional, see below)

Instructions:

Mix the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a pan. Scald the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point). Turn off heat and leave to cool 30-45 minutes or until the mixture reaches 110-115 degrees. Sprinkle in the package of Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for around 5 minutes, then add 4 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.

After rising for at least an hour, add 1/2 more cups of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture together. (At this point, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it – overnight or even a day or two, if necessary. Just keep your eye on it and if it starts to overflow out of the pan, just punch it down).

When ready to prepare rolls: Sprinkle rolling surface very generously with flour. (Don’t be afraid to! This is an IMPORTANT STEP. Trust me. I know.) Take the dough and form a rough rectangle. Then roll the dough thin, maintaining a general rectangular shape.

Melt the butter in the microwave and use a basting brush to spread a thin layer evenly over the dough, reaching all the way to the edges. (This layer can be as thin or thick as you like. I probably only used 1 1/2 TB of butter for the whole thing and they turned out great, but if you want to use a whole stick, go for it!)

Now sprinkle 1/2 cup of sugar over the butter followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon. If you want, you can use your hands in circular motions to really get an even coating and work the cinnamon sugar into the dough. I was bored, so I did, but Pioneer Woman didn’t. Then again, I don’t imagine that she’s the sort to be bored at any point in time–ever–so…

Now, starting at the opposite end, begin rolling the dough in a neat line toward you. Keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Next, pinch the seam of the roll to seal it, using water to get a nice tight seal if necessary. (no pictures of this because my hands were gross, sorry!)

Spread melted butter in three seven inch round foil cake or pie pan to grease them. Then begin cutting the rolls approximately ¾ to 1 inch thick, using either a knife or a piece of floss, and laying them in the buttered pans.

Cover the rolls tightly and put them in the fridge overnight. In the morning, take the rolls out and place them on the top rack of the oven while it is still turned off. Put a pan filled 2/3 way full of boiling water on the bottom rack, then shut the oven door and leave the rolls to rise for 20-30 minutes, or until they look slightly puffy.

Take the rolls and the boiling water out of the oven and preheat it to 400 degrees. When the oven reaches temperature, pop the rolls in and bake until light golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes. Despite the hypnotic aroma, it is important that you let them cook ALL THE WAY. If you start convulsing with desire for the warm, buttery, sugary, cinnamony goodness, I suggest you remove yourself from the area and get some fresh air. By the time you get back, they’ll probably be done.

For the frosting, pick one of the following, or free-form it yourself (as long as you start with powdered sugar and throw in some liquid, it’s gonna turn out.) Add more sugar or milk to achieve desired consistency–it should be thick but pourable.

TRADITIONAL MAPLE: 2 1/2- 3 cups of powdered sugar, 1/4 cup of milk, a dash of vanilla extract, and maybe 2 TB of maple syrup.

COFFEE MAPLE: 2 1/2- 3 cups of powdered sugar, 3/8 cup of brewed coffee, 2 TB of syrup, and 1 TB of milk.

ORANGE: 2 1/2- 3 cups of powdered sugar, 1/4 cup orange juice, and 2 TB of milk.

CREAM CHEESE: Take 4 oz (half a box) of cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, half a stick of unsalted butter (softened), and dash of vanilla, and use an electric mixer or whisk to combine. Whisk thoroughly, until smooth.

Either drizzle the glaze (and you don’t have to use all of it if you don’t want, but hey, why not?) over the rolls WHILE STILL WARM and then let it settle, or skip it and let people put it on their personal rolls themselves to whatever point they desire.

Yummmmmm…..