Category Archives: baking

My Valentine post

Sweet and nutty honey muffins

 

I am not sappy (except when it comes to my kid). I am a no nonsense, logical, practical person (when it comes to everyone else). My own mind and heart, that’s another story for another day.  So the best I could do to come up with a Valentine recipe was something sweet with a sweet word in the title. Nothing with sprinkles, chocolate, pink or red hearts.   Nothing against any of that stuff, because I love it, and go crazy for it at Target.  But this is a brunch muffin, a “hey I really like you so why don’t you have a muffin and watch bad tv with me” treat.  Or a “hey you are a great friend, have a muffin that is a bit sweet but super awesome” muffin.  Try it, see what you think, and don’t save the sweet love stuff just for the holiday, because we all like to hear it all year round.

 

1 cup all purpose flour

½ tsp cinnamon

pinch of ground cloves and nutmeg

12 T room temp unsalted butter

2 T honey (I used organic, any type will do)

Zest of 2 oranges

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 ¼ cups chopped fine walnuts (or pecans)

 

Topping

3 T minced walnuts (I used my food processor)

½ tsp cinnamon

3 T honey

Juice of 2 oranges

  

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Line 12 muffin tins with muffin/cupcake liners

 

Sift flour, spices into a bowl

Beat butter and sugar in the mixer until fluffy, add honey and orange zest (use less if you don’t like a lot of citrus flavor)

Add eggs, one at a time beating well after each one

Fold in flour mixture, stir in chopped nuts and spoon into liners

 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean

 

Make topping by mixing minced walnuts and cinnamon.  Heat honey and orange juice on stove under low heat until combined, about five minutes

 

Let muffins cool for about 20 minutes, then using a fork poke a hole into each one, adding a drizzle of the honey orange mixture.  Sprinkle walnut mixture on top, serving immediately or at room temp, kept up to four days

 

 

sweet nutty muffins

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Cranberry almond granola

 

In my head I am one of those people who gets up early and makes a great breakfast, even before work.  Sadly the reality is I am not.  I grab a granola bar or a bagel and eat it at work.  In the 45 minutes or so before anyone gets there, that quiet calm before the storm.  As I was eating a granola bar, I thought how easy this is to make, have it as a bar or just as a handy snack.  So I made cranberry almond, because that is what I had in the house. Quick, easy, not too bad for you, and really great on the go.  So until I am a cool person who gets up early and makes an awesome breakfast, a baggie of this will do

 

 

Cranberry almond granola

1 stick unsalted butter

2 T light corn syrup

½ cup brown sugar

2 ¾ cups rolled oats

¾ cup sliced almonds (can use hazelnuts or any nut that can be easily sliced)

1 cup dried cranberries

6 T all purpose flour

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a greased 9×9 pan with parchment or foil (bottom only)

Heat butter, corn syrup, and brown sugar on stove over low heat until combined

Mix oats, almonds, cranberries and flour into a bowl, adding butter mixture, stirring until combined

Place in greased pan, smooth top and bake for 25 minutes or until firm/golden brown

 

Let cool to room temp and cut into squares or crumble for over yogurt, or as a handheld snack 

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Chocolate sandwich cookies with milk chocolate filling

 

This week has been whoa.  A lot of weird things have happened, and being my birthday week, I tried to put it all in perspective.  Life can sucker punch you sometimes, and you just have to keep going, even when it’s hard and hurts.

 

What doesn’t hurt is having a good cookie around.  These cookies are amazing, the cookie itself isn’t too sweet, but definitely full of chocolate flavor.  The inside, now that is what I call a little piece of happiness.  Milk chocolate that is smooth, sweet, and just comforting enough to make the car repair bill sting a little less. 

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Cookie dough

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt    

2 sticks softened unsalted butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

raw sugar for dusting

 

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.

Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then add yolk and vanilla. At low speed, mix in flour mixture just until a dough forms. Divide dough in half and form each piece into a 6-inch square, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, about 2 hours

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

 

Roll dough out, using a biscuit cutter cut into circles and lay on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Sprinkle some raw sugar on top of each cookie and bake for 15-20 minutes or until no longer shiny.  Let cool for 30 minutes or until room temperature

 

 

Milk chocolate filling

 

2/3 cup heavy cream

8 oz cooled/melted milk chocolate

4 T softened unsalted butter

 

Heat cream in a pan until simmering

Take cream off heat and let cool

Add cream to milk chocolate stirring until incorporated

Add butter and mix until smooth

Let stand until firm, about 15 minutes

 

Using a piping bag and tip (I used star tip) pipe filling onto one cookie and add another on top.  Can keep at room temperature for up to a week. 

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Gran’s cowboy coffee cake

Things I have learned over the years:

1. snakes come in many different forms, shapes, and sizes

2. you can’t always forgive something no matter how much you want to

3. your heart can be pretty dumb

4. funny is sexy

5. my gran’s coffee cake rocks

I am not sure why this is called cowboy coffee cake, maybe some hot men in Wranglers made this over a campfire while waiting to rustle some cows.  When I asked Gran, she started talking about Henry (the cat) so it’s a mystery.  But it’s bomb and so simple.  She makes them as muffins usually, but I did it as a loaf and it was just as yummy warm with some butter on it.  With the busy season in full swing, this would be great to make for brunch or last minute uninvited guests. 

Gran’s cowboy coffee cake

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/3 cup cold unsalted butter cut into pieces

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk (regular milk is fine)

1 beaten lg egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Spray small loaf pan and line bottom with parchment paper, or line muffin tin with liners (makes 6 muffins)

Mix flour, sugar, salt, and butter until crumbly, reserve 1/4 cup for topping

Add baking powder, baking soda, and spices to remaining flour mixture, mix well

Add milk and egg, mix until combined (batter will be a bit thick)

Pour into muffin tins or loaf pan. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture

Bake for 18-20 minutes for muffins, 30-35 minutes for loaf pan or until a tester comes out clean

Let cool for 15 minutes and serve, or let cool to room temperature and keep covered tightly for up to four days. Warm and serve with a small pat of butter for extra awesomeness

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Devil’s food cake and cocoa fudge icing

Apron’s optional for this cake, but it’s old school and delicious. It’s the kind you take to work to celebrate a birthday, or make for a party at a neighbor’s house. It will not only impress, it will be gone quickly.  Don’t let the amount of ingredients intimidate you, it’s an easy recipe and worth making homemade.*

Devil’s food cake

3 cups cake flour

3 T cocoa powder 

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda 

1 cup melted shortening

2 1/4 cups sugar 

1 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla

6 oz milk (3/4 cup)

5 eggs lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 345 degrees

grease and line two 9 inch cake pans

Combine flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder/soda and shortening and beat in mixer for three minutes on low speed

Add half the milk and vanilla, mix on low for 5 minutes, stopping each minute to scrape down the sides

Add milk and eggs, mixing well for another 5 minutes on low

Pour into cake pans and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.

Let cool to room temp before frosting

 

Cocoa fudge frosting 

4 cups sifted powdered sugar

1/2 cup sifted cocoa powder

1/8 tsp salt

2-3 T corn syrup

2 T melted butter

1/4 cup melted shortening

1/2 cup plus 1 T hot water (140 degrees)

1 tsp vanilla

Blend sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and corn syrup, beat until smooth (add more corn syrup if necessary)

Add melted shortening, melted butter, hot water and vanilla until mixed well and fluffy.  Increase mixing speed if necessary, add more water if too thick, more powdered sugar if too runny

Frost cake and enjoy

Notes-add a layer of whipped cream between cakes for added flavor (homemade just add a pint of heavy cream, a cup of powdered sugar and 2 tsp of vanilla extract, whipped until medium peak)

*if you don’t have time to make a homemade cake, use a cake mix! There is no shame in that game. Just make your own frosting, your guests/friends/family will thank you

I added crushed peppermint to the top for holiday flair.  Can add coconut, sprinkles, fruit, whatever sounds good. 

And with the leftover cake, I made little trifles.  Because I am cool like that 

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Cranberry muffins

Breakfast. I am not a huge fan, but I know it’s important. But brunch, I can get behind brunch.  And bacon, always up for some bacon. This is why I go to kickboxing, not so much for the workout, so I can eat bacon. But I digress-these cranberry muffins, they rock. My secret is orange zest, gives them just the faintest of kicks, to get you going for a long day, a slow lazy day, or any day.  

 

Cranberry muffins 

1 cup whole milk

2 lightly beaten eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract or paste (more on the paste in another post!) 

3 1/3 cups all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 T baking powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

half stick unsalted butter cold and cut into small pieces

1 cup frozen or dried cranberries (can also use blueberries if you want)

1 T orange zest

2 T melted butter

1 T raw sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Line muffin tin with papers

In a small bowl, combine milk, eggs, and vanilla. Set aside

In a mixer with paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt for 1 minute on low speed

Slowly add butter chunks and turn to medium speed until mixture looks like coarse crumbs

Remove 1/2 cup of mixture for streusel

Fold in fruit and orange zest, add milk mixture and mix until just combined

Fill each muffin tin about 3/4 way full of batter

Add melted butter to remaining flour mixture and mix with a fork until combined

Sprinkle on top of muffins.  Add a small pinch of raw sugar on top of mixture for a crunchier top 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until center comes out clean

Cool and serve

Can be saved at room temperature for three days

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Roasted pecan pie bars

After a holiday, we always seem to have leftover something.  This time it was two bags of pecans, some mashed potatoes, and rolls. So I ate two and baked with one, making roasted pecan pie bars. Always roast nuts when baking, it brings out the flavor, and really enhances anything you use them in.  These bars are quick to make, and will go fast.  Make them for an upcoming holiday function, or give them as a gift to a friend or neighbor.  Roasted pecan pie bars-because you can.

 

Roasted pecan pie bars

Crust:

12 T unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks) cold

1 1/2 cups flour

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 T cold water

Filling:

2 1/2 cups chopped roasted pecans (350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, then cool and chop)

Stick of room temp unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup light corn syrup 

1/4 cup flour

Keep oven at 350 degrees after roasting pecans

Line a 9×9 square baking pan with foil or parchment, spray with cooking spray or butter

With a paddle attachment, add all ingredients for crust until it resembles small crumbs, then add 2 T cold water until dough comes together (should be fairly quickly)

Press into bottom of baking dish, bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool for ten minutes before filling

 

While crust is baking, mix butter, brown sugar, and salt until fluffy, 5-7 minutes.  Add flour and corn syrup.  Once mixed add pecans until just combined.  Spread into baked crust (will be thick, use a spatula to spread evenly) and bake for 35 minutes, or until bubbly and brown.  

Allow bars to cool and cut.

Can be kept at room temperature for up to four days. Wrap tightly with foil. 

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