Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Healthy fudge brownies

Do you make New Year's resolutions? I personally don't. I honestly don't find them very helpful and have never made one (at least none that I remember). I like having personal goals, but I don't classify them as resolutions.

Whether or not you make resolutions, my bet is that most resolution-makers hope to eat healthier in 2013. We should all be aware of what food we put into our bodies and aim to eat more natural foods and avoid processed ingredients. Right?

Catherine at Pursuing Domestic Goddess-ness is this month's What's Baking host and asked us to bake something that was healthy. She challenged us to identify a favorite baked good and health-ify it (is that even a word?).

Since I am a sucker for brownies, I chose them as my focus for this month's challenge. Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that I follow another blog called Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her original creations are vegan, so they are much healthier than your normal, run-of-the-mill desserts. Her recipe for fudge brownies immediately caught my eye so I knew I had to make these.

Although the flavors in these brownies were spot-on (I could not taste or feel the texture of the tofu or applesauce), they never set up properly. My brownies did not solidify as much I wanted, so they were more like a thick, fudgy brownie batter. The tops and sides did bake up nicely, but the middles were a bit underdone.  I even baked my brownies for 23 minutes and stored them in the refrigerator to firm up. If I make these again, I will add a bit more flour to help firm up these bars. I did find that they resembled "real" brownies the longer I kept them uncovered in the fridge. Regardless, the brownies still tasted chocolately and gooey, and I didn't feel too bad licking up the batter on my knife.

(The photo above was of some brownies that had been sitting, uncovered, for about 5 days in the refrigerator.)

Healthy fudge brownies
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 TBSP soft tofu
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 3 TBSP vegetable or coconut oil (I used canola oil)
  • 2 TBSP milk of choice (I used soy milk)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Chocolate chips (optional - I used dark chocolate chips)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients (cocoa powder through salt), and mix  well.

In a blender, combine wet ingredients (sugar through vanilla) and blend until smooth.

Add the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour the mixture into a 4×6 oiled pan (or double the recipe and use an 8×8). Bake in the preheated oven for 12-18 minutes.

Let the brownies cool for at least an hour before digging in.

Yield: 8 brownies

Source: Chocolate-Covered Katie


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Champagne cupcakes with lemon champagne buttercream

I don't know about you, but we had a pretty uneventful New Year's. My dear husband was sick with the flu, despite getting his flu shot late last year. I had hopes that he would be better by the time New Year's rolled around, but this particular flu virus was bad. Needless to say, we went to bed early and didn't get to partake in any New Year's festivities.

The bottle of champagne that I had bought went unopened until my husband made a full recovery. He and I don't normally drink a lot of bubbly, so I decided to use up the rest of the champagne for some cupcakes instead.  I didn't want too much extra champagne floating around the house, so I wanted to add some to the buttercream as well. Since I couldn't find a champagne frosting recipe that appealed to me, I went out on a whim and created my own.

I was a bit skeptical about the cupcake base since my batter looked lumpy. I don't think I did a good job folding in the egg whites, but the cupcakes were successful. They weren't too dense and still had an airiness to them, and the champagne flavor in the cake batter was very subtle. The buttercream was actually my favorite part of the cupcake. The lemon zest and juice nicely complemented the fruitiness in the champagne and made me want to lick the rest of the buttercream that remained in the bowl. OK, so maybe I did, but who's telling?

My husband formally declared these as his favorite cupcakes--ever. This is a big deal because he's normally a fan of chocolate or peanut butter. I've still got a few cups of champagne left and may just enjoy it with a cupcake and some extra buttercream.

Champagne cupcakes
  • 6 egg whites
  • 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup champagne
Lemon champagne frosting
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 TBSP champagne
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form (about 5 minutes). Transfer the egg whites to a large bowl and set aside.

Wash the stand mixer bowl and clean thoroughly. Then add the butter and sugar into the stand mixer bowl and cream thoroughly until very light and fluffy.  If you used a hand mixer to beat the egg whites, simply find another large bowl to cream the butter and sugar.

In a separate large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Alternately add the dry mixture with the champagne.  Gently fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into batter. Once it is incorporated, fold in remaining egg whites.

Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

For the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until it is smooth and creamy.

Slowly add the powdered sugar until it is fully incorporated and the frosting appears smooth.

Add in the lemon zest and lemon juice and mix well. Finally, add in the champagne and beat until well mixed and to the consistency you desire to frost the cupcakes. If the frosting is too runny, add more powdered sugar, about a 1/4 cup at a time.

Once the cupcakes are cooled, frost the tops with the lemon champagne buttercream. Cupcakes should be stored in an airtight container and will keep for about 2-3 days.

Yield: About 20-22 cupcakes

Source: Cupcakes from The Curvy Carrot; Frosting is an Eva Bakes original


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Chocolate chip cookies

I first heard about The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook through my good friend Kim at Just Baked. This cookbook is written by a lovely married couple out of Savannah, Georgia, and the book is filled with traditional Southern-style desserts.

I added this cookbook to my holiday wish list and was thrilled that my sister-in-law bought it for me. The travel during the holidays (and a lingering cold/sinus virus) left me a bit groggy, so I opted to bake something simple once I returned home. I thought that chocolate chip cookies would do the trick.

While I am still on the hunt for my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe, this one comes pretty close. Other varieties that I've baked tasted good the day-of but got hard or stale the next day. Some started out puffy and deflated like a balloon during cooling. But these did not. The outsides of the cookies were slightly crispy and the insides were chewy and soft. The addition of sea salt flakes on the tops gave a nice contrast to the sweet cookie interiors.

Thanks, Kim, for introducing me to this cookbook, and thank you Andrea for this gift. I can't wait to try the authors' additional recipes.

Chocolate chip cookies
  • 2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1-1/4 tsp fine sea salt (I used Maldon sea salt flakes)
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks
  • Fleur de sel for sprinkling (I used Maldon sea salt flakes)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper (I used my imitation Silpat).

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a large mixing bowl with a handheld mixer), cream the butter, white and brown sugars and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add both eggs and mix for no longer than a minute - the eggs will not be fully incorporated. Turn the mixer speed down to low and add the dry ingredients in three increments. Mix until just combined.  Add the chocolate chunks in while the mixer on low. Mix until chocolate chunks are just incorporated.

Using a cookie scoop or two spoons, drop the batter onto the prepared cookie sheets and be sure to leave at least 2 inches between each scoop (they will spread). Lightly sprinkle sea salt on the top of each cookie ball and gently press down to make sure the salt doesn't fall off.

Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for about 15-18 minutes (mine baked for 15). Make sure to rotate the pans halfway through baking (I was lazy and skipped this step). The cookies will be golden brown around the edges. Take the cookies out of the oven and let them rest on a wire rack. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature. They can also be frozen as well!

Yield: The cookbook says this yields 2 dozen cookies, but I used a medium cookie scoop and got 3 dozen.

Source: The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook, by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day, page 172

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Homemade pizza dough

Yeast is an ingredient that induces fear into many beginning bakers and at-home cooks. I was one of them. I wanted to make cinnamon rolls but kept procrastinating and making excuses until I decided to overcome my fear. I successfully made two different overnight cinnamon roll recipes (my first attempt; and my second attempt - which was much better). My mom's large scallion pancake recipe also used yeast, and I have to admit that the ingredient wasn't quite as scary as people made it sound.

Many of my online cooking friends have successfully made their own pizza dough, and I figured it was time to join the bandwagon. There's nothing better than a freshly made pizza, and how cool would it be to make an entire one from scratch?

I found this recipe on Annie's Eats and the dough was surprisingly easy to make. I followed the instructions to a T and froze half of the dough for later use. For our pizza, I made a barbecue chicken pizza with sliced grilled chicken, Sweet Baby Ray's bbq sauce and shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese. I baked mine in a 400 degree (Fahrenheit) oven on my pizza stone for 10 minutes and it was perfect. 

My husband was impressed with the dough and said that it tasted even better than the ones we used to buy at the farmer's market. Whoo hoo! Maybe homemade bread will be next on my list, but we'll see about that...

Homemade pizza dough
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 2¼ tsp. instant yeast
  • 4 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1½ tsp. salt
  • 1¼ cup water, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup.  Sprinkle the yeast over the top.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the bread flour and salt, mixing briefly to blend.  Measure the room temperature water into the measuring cup with the yeast-water mixture.  With the mixer on low speed, pour in the yeast-water mixture as well as the olive oil.  Mix until a cohesive dough is formed.  Switch to the dough hook.  Knead on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 1½-2 hours. 

Press down the dough to deflate it.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface.  Divide the dough into two equal pieces.  Form each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball.  (If freezing the dough, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze at this point.)  Cover with a damp cloth.  Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no longer than 30 minutes.

To bake, preheat the oven and pizza stone to 500˚ F for at least 30 minutes (I preheated my oven to 400 and left my pizza stone in there; I took the stone out as soon as the oven was done preheating).  Transfer the dough to your shaping surface, lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Shape the dough with lightly floured hands.  Brush the outer edge lightly with olive oil (I did not do this).  Top as desired.  Bake until the crust is golden brown, and cheese is bubbling, 8-12 minutes (my pizza baked at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes).

Yield: Two pizza crusts (each can be rolled out to about a 12-inch diameter)

Source: Annie's Eats; originally adapted from Baking Illustrated


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lemon angel food cake

You know I've got a ton of egg whites in the fridge when you see a recipe here for angel food cake. One of my readers, Hang, sent me a link to these beautiful Garden Party Cupcakes that used up 10 egg whites. I loved this idea of this but didn't have a need to make individual cupcakes at the moment. So I did the next best thing and made an angel food cake instead.

Angel food cake is one of my husband's favorite desserts. He likes the fact that it's light and airy and doesn't seem too sweet. I opted to add a bit of lemon flavor for a variation on the classic angel food cake. He absolutely loved this, and our entire cake was gone pretty quickly.

Lemon angel food cake
  • 2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1-1/3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1-1/2 cups egg whites, at room temperature (10 to 12 eggs)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1-2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (can also use lemon zest, lemon oil or lemon extract; if using extract, you may only need 1 teaspoon)
  • Glaze, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of sugar with the flour. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high until the eggs make medium-firm peaks, about 1 minute.

Slow the mixer down to medium speed and add the remaining 1-1/2 cups of sugar by slowly sprinkling it over the beaten egg whites. Beat for a few minutes until the egg whites look thick and shiny. Then add in the vanilla and lemon juice and continue to beat until very thick, about 1 more minute. Pour about 1/4 of the flour mixture over the egg whites and gently fold it into the mixture with a rubber spatula. Continue adding the flour a little bit at a time until all the flour is  incorporated. Remember, the fewer strokes you use to fold the flour, the better!

Pour the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan, smooth the top, and bake it for 35 to 40 minutes, until it springs back to the touch. Remove the cake from the oven and invert the pan on a cooling rack until cool. If desired, drizzle the top with glaze (you can use powdered sugar mixed with a bit of water/milk or lemon juice). We like to top with a scoop or two of ice cream!

Yield: 10-12 servings

Source: Inspired by Hang but slightly adapted from Ina Garten, via Food Network


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Overnight cinnamon rolls - take two

While I was proud of myself for finally making overnight cinnamon rolls for my family on Thanksgiving, I wasn't particularly happy with the recipe I tried.  I followed the instructions to a T and the rolls were too brown and dry for my liking. The flavors were good, but I wasn't that impressed.

I figured that I needed to try another recipe to overcome the disappointment from my initial cinnamon roll experience. I searched high and low and found this one on Wednesday Baking that seemed easy and didn't require me to buy buttermilk (which I did not have).  I made these on New Year's Eve and put them in the refrigerator so we could enjoy them for breakfast on New Year's Day.

These overnight cinnamon rolls were exactly what I had been looking for.  They were soft and chewy, gooey, and had the perfect balance of cinnamon and sugar. I was scared of over baking this batch so I underbaked them a bit to make sure they didn't burn or get dried out. I even made the cream cheese icing on top for an even sweeter breakfast treat.

Addison ate an entire roll (plus a banana), and both my husband and I ate more than our fair share. These reheat well in the microwave too, in case you're pressed for time in the mornings.

For the dough

  • 1 ¼ cups milk
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 TBSP active dry yeast (one packet)
  • 3.5 to 4 cups flour, separated
For the filling
  • ¼ cup softened butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
For the frosting

  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 ½ cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 ½ tsps milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
For the dough and filling: Heat milk, butter, salt, and sugar to 120 degrees F (I zapped this in a microwave for about a minute until the liquid was warm but not hot or scalding). Add 2 cups of the flour and the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Add the warm milk mixture and egg and beat on low to medium speed for about 3 minutes. Slowly add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft and pliable dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for about 3-5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a large bowl. Cover and let rest for at least 20 minutes.

Place dough on a floured surface and roll to a large rectangle, about 17×10 inches. Using a brush, spatula or angled spatula, gently spread the ¼ cup softened butter over the dough.

Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together (lumps are ok) and sprinkle evenly over the dough. Starting from a long end, tightly roll up the dough like a jelly roll. Cut evenly into slices about 3/4 of an inch thick, and place cut side down into greased pans. I got about 16 rolls and put them into two 9x11 glass pans. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, remove the lids and let the pans come to room temperature or until the rolls are soft. It should take about 30-40 minutes. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned.

For the frosting: Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat all of the frosting ingredients together. Once the rolls are done baking, spread the frosting over the top.

Yield: About 16-24 rolls, depending how big you slice them

Source: Wednesday Baking


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Triple chocolate cupcakes

Chocoholics, unite! If you are a fan of chocolate, then this cupcake is for you. This super chocolately cupcake is a chocolate lover's dream. It starts off with a wonderful devil's chocolate base and is filled with a luscious chocolate ganache. It is finally topped off with a chocolate sour cream frosting. The overall cupcake is not too sweet since the ingredients call for dark or bittersweet chocolate.

The original recipe below yields close to 32 cupcakes, so if you aren't looking to bring these to a bake sale or a large function, I'd recommend halving the recipe. I halved every component and got 17 cupcakes with no leftover ganache or frosting. Ok, ok, I gave Addison about 3 spoonfuls of frosting, so maybe there was a little bit left over...

I gave these to some friends, and the cupcakes received rave reviews. My husband even gave them an A+, which isn't something he does very often.

Enjoy these perfectly chocolately cupcakes!

Cupcake ingredients
  • ¾ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup hot water
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1¼ tsp. coarse salt
  • 1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2¼ cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
Chocolate ganache ingredients
  • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 4 TBSP unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
Chocolate frosting ingredients
  • 14 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 9 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 9 TBSP. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 6 TBSP unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 TBSP sour cream
For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line your cupcake pans with cupcake liners. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water until smooth and set aside.  In a separate medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter and the sugar.  Stir occasionally to combine until the butter is melted.  Turn off the heat, remove the butter mixture from the stove and transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat the butter and sugar mixture on medium-low speed for about 4-5 minutes until the mixture is cooled.  Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition.  Add in the vanilla and cocoa mixture and mix until well incorporated.  Turn the mixer to low and alternately add the dry ingredients and sour cream in two batches, starting with the dry ingredients. Beat just until combined.

Distribute the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake liners and fill them about ¾ of the way full.  Bake for 9-10 minutes and rotate the pans. Then bake for another 9-10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the ganache: Put the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.  In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil.  Once the cream boils, immediately remove it from the heat and pour over the chopped chocolate.  Let it stand for about 1 minute.  With a whisk or spatula, gently stir the chocolate and cream together.  After the ganache becomes smooth and silky looking, whisk in the butter 1 piece at a time until fully incorporated.  Transfer the bowl to the freezer or refrigerator to chill.  Whisk the mixture every 5-10 minutes in order to help it cool evenly.  Once the mixture is slightly thickened and no longer runny, you can use the ganache to fill the cupcakes.

To assemble the cupcakes: Using a small paring knife, cut a cone out of the center of each cupcake.  You can either remove these extra cake bits completely (and save them for a snack) or throw them out. Alternately, you can cut off the pointed end of the cone and keep the "caps" to cover the ganache filling. Using a spoon, drop the ganache into the center of each cupcake and cover the hole with the cap.
To make the frosting: Melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water (I heated mine up in the microwave in 30 second increments).  Let it cool until the chocolate is barely warm to the touch.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  Slowly add in the powdered sugar, cocoa powder and salt.  Add in the melted but cooled chocolate and the sour cream.  Keep beating until the mixture is smooth and free from lumps.

Yield: I halved the recipe and got 17 cupcakes. I also halved the ganache and frosting and had just enough to fill and top the 17 cupcakes. No leftovers!

Source: Annie's Eats; cupcakes originally from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes and ganache from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My blog makeover

In case you haven't noticed, my blog got a much-needed makeover recently. It was a perfect way to start the new year.

I'm still making a few minor tweaks here and there, but the overall look and feel is pretty much set. I hope you all like it as much as I do!

A huge thanks to Lynsey at ShinyMagic for helping me revamp the site. She has been wonderful to work with and has been so incredibly patient. If you're looking for a blog designer or need some graphics work done, I highly recommend Lynsey.

Off to find a new recipe to try!


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Allspice crumb muffins

One of Addison's former daycare classmates recently became a big brother. I offered to bring the newly expanded family some food so they could have one less thing to stress about. I know that most people in my situation bring new parents some comforting foods like baked pastas, enchiladas, soups and other freezer-friendly dinner items. I remembered my days of being a new parent and was grateful for these dinner items, but what I needed and wanted at the time was something for breakfast.

While I did make some dinner items for the family (chicken lo mein and stovetop mac and cheese), I wanted to make sure that our friends had something to eat in the mornings. We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so I couldn't let the new parents go hungry in the mornings. I made them a batch of cereal bars and then decided to whip up some muffins as well. I turned to my trusty Dorie Greenspan book and went on baking.

These allspice crumb muffins were awesome! The muffins were not too sweet and had a nice undertone of allspice (it was not overpowering). The crumb topping was my husband's favorite part. He noted that the muffins slightly dried out overnight, but that's partially my fault because I had left our batch sitting on the counter overnight. I should have put them in an airtight container but forgot.

Congratulations to the new parents, and I hope that you and your family enjoy these muffins and the other goodies we made!

Crumb topping

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 5 TBSP cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
Allspice muffins
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup whole milk (I used 2% since that is what I had)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease or spray a regular-sized muffin pan or line with 12 cupcake liners. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

For the crumb topping, mix the flour, brown sugar, and allspice in a small bowl. Add the chunks of cold butter and mix with your hands by pinching the mixture between your fingers. Keep pinching until you have uneven, pea-sized crumbs. Place in the refrigerator (the crumb topping can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator).

For the muffins, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, allspice, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add in the brown sugar, and stir until no lumps remain. In a separate large bowl, mix together the melted butter, eggs, milk and vanilla extract until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. With a whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. The batter will be lumpy.

Evenly distribute the batter into the muffin cups. Sprinkle the crumb topping over each muffin, then use your fingertips to gently press the crumbs into the batter.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin. Cool completely. Muffins can be stored, in an airtight container, at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Yield: About 12 muffins

Source: Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Baked apple cider donuts

Happy New Year, everyone!  For my first post of 2013, I wanted to write about an ingredient that might still be in your fridge - apple cider.  It tastes good warm or cold and is even better with some mulling spices infused in it. It was only recently that I discovered apple cider donuts. We went apple picking for a work outing, and one of my coworkers told me that the orchard's apple cider donuts were to die for.

Well, she didn't have to tell me twice. I immediately bought a half dozen of them so I could eat some and share some with my family (I may or may not have eaten 5 of them on my own). Not surprisingly, my coworker was right - those donuts were unbelievable. They were coated with a cinnamon sugar topping, and the donuts themselves were perfectly baked with a bit of crunch and a light and fluffy interior. Excuse me while I wipe the drool off my face.

I knew it was time to try my hand at homemade apple cider donuts. I didn't have any buttermilk on hand and wanted to make a baked version to cut down on the calories and fat. I found these on Sugar Crafter and was happy to have freshly baked donuts in about 30 minutes.

I opted to leave off the salted caramel glaze, but if you'd like to add some to yours, head over to Sugar Crafter for the full recipe. These would be great with a regular powdered sugar glaze, a maple powdered sugar glaze or a cinnamon sugar topping.

Baked apple cider donuts
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1-1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom (I did not add)
  • 3 TBSP butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Prepare your donut pan by adding cooking spray to each of the wells.

Boil the apple cider down in a small saucepan until it reduces down to 1/4 cup. Set aside and let cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom.

In the bowl of an electric mixer (or a large bowl using a hand mixer), cream together the butter and sugars. Add the olive oil, reduced apple cider, and egg. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients alternately with the milk, ending with the flour (dry) mixture.

Spoon the batter into the prepared donut pan and bake for 9-10 minutes or until golden.

Remove the donuts from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack before glazing. If you want to add a cinnamon sugar topping, you can brush the donuts with melted butter and dip into some cinnamon sugar.

Yield: Sugar Crafter says the recipe makes 6 donuts, but I actually got 11!

Source: Sugar Crafter

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

Wishing you a sweet and happy new year!


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