Sunday, November 19, 2017

Caramel apple cheesecake

Is your refrigerator overflowing with apples? If so, this caramel apple cheesecake will hit the spot! With a caramel layer on the top and the bottom, this showstopper dessert is a great fall dessert!
I went apple picking twice in 4 days. Am I crazy? Well, I went with my family to the apple orchard so that I could take some nice photos of Addie for our annual holiday card. It's quite beautiful there - the orchard is on top of a mountain so we get gorgeous views all around. Then 3 days later, we went to the same orchard for a work fun event.

The first time to the orchard, we only got a few apples since I knew that I would be returning in a few days. The orchard only had a few apple varieties remaining, including Stayman, Pink Lady and Fuji. I am a Fuji girl through and through, so we went straight for those. While we were there, we also had some fresh apple cider donuts and apple cider slushies. It was a great apple-filled day.
I returned to the orchard with my work team and again went straight to the Fuji apples. I picked a few more this time and pondered what to do with my loot. My husband asked for apple strudel, but I had cheesecake on my mind. And thus, this cheesecake.


The caramel layer on the bottom hardened a bit after baking, so it was difficult to chew (Addie said her teeth hurt while eating the bottom crust). The texture of the cheese filling contained more air pockets than your typical cheesecake, but the flavors were amazing. My husband declared this a winner with two thumbs up despite those nit-picky things.

So if you're looking for a cheesecake recipe this fall or just have some extra apples in your refrigerator, consider this caramel apple cheesecake. It's a beautiful and tasty treat to share with friends and family.

Caramel apple cheesecake
Crust
  • 1 and 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 8 whole graham crackers)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Caramel
  • 1 (14 ounce) package caramels
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
Filling
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
Apple mixture
  • 1 and 1/2 cups apples, peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
Directions
Make the crust: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard springform pan with two layers of foil (I recommend doing it in an X pattern so one layer goes horizontally across the bottom and the other layer goes perpendicular to the other piece. Fold any extra foil onto itself.).

In a small bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon, sugar and butter together until it resembles wet sand. Press this on the bottom and sides of your prepared springform pan. Bake in your preheated oven for 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

Make the caramel filling: While the crust is baking, prepare the caramel. Melt the unwrapped caramels and evaporated milk in a medium sized saucepan. Pour about 2/3 of the caramel over the baked crust.

Prep the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and flour together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low and add in the eggs one at a time until just incorporated. Turn the mixer off.

Prepare the apples: Toss the apples with the cinnamon and flour together in a medium bowl. Transfer this to the bowl with the cream cheese mixture. Mix until just incorporated.

Pour the apple cream cheese mixture into the springform pan on top of the caramel layer. Bake in your preheated oven for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and pour on the remaining caramel. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the cheesecake is no longer jiggly. Allow the cheesecake to cool completely. Store in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

Cheesecake should be stored, covered, in the refrigerator and will last for several days.

Yield: About 10-12 servings

Source: Barely adapted from Taste of Home


Friday, November 17, 2017

Skating Fridays

Testing


It's been almost 4 years since my last figure skating test. The last one I took was in January 2014 when I passed my Gold Freestyle test through USFSA. Testing just hasn't been a priority for me. While I've occasionally worked on the Intermediate Moves In the Field elements, I haven't seriously worked on them.

I'm excited/nervous to say that I am testing at the end of this month. Not for Moves or Freestyle, but for Pairs. My pairs partner and I decided to take a risk and test our Adult Bronze Pairs test. We have everything going against us - no coach (he moved away), no choreographer (our friend started helping out but had to drop out due to other commitments), and no program. But we are attempting this anyway, despite all the headwinds.

So it's officially time to cram.

My partner offered to choreograph our program so we're working our way through that. We are self-coached right now and hope that our elements are good enough to pass this test.

If we don't pass, then hopefully we'll get a lot of feedback from the judges so we can work on those weaker elements.

Keep your fingers crossed for us! I don't know who will be at the test session but hope that someone can video it for us (and then I can share with you all).

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Pumpkin spice chocolate chip hummus dip

Pumpkin spice chocolate chip hummus is the perfect dip for the fall. Using pumpkin spice cookie butter as the star ingredient, this dip will become the hit at your next party!

I guess you could say that I am officially on the dessert hummus train...albeit a bit late. I recently shared the brownie batter hummus with you, and now I am back with a pumpkin spice version.

Addie was getting upset one morning when my husband was getting ready to go to the gym. She was getting ready to let out a huge wail when I asked her if she wanted to make some hummus with me. When I asked her what kind, she said that she wanted cookie dough. I knew that the traditional cookie dough hummus recipes usually called for peanut butter or other nut butters, but I'm not a peanut butter person. I had Nutella and pumpkin spice cookie butter in the pantry, and because I'd already used Nutella in the brownie batter hummus, I went for the pumpkin spice cookie butter for this batch.

The hummus was ready in about 60 seconds, and we could have spiced it up a little more with additional pumpkin spices. But, I liked this just the way it was. I threw in some mini chocolate chips so it would taste like a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie. Addie and I snarfed a small bowl down before my husband got home. And then we ate some later with some apples as an afternoon snack.

This is a fantastic dip that you can bring to a party. Like the other dessert hummus, I bet that nobody will guess that this dip is made of garbanzo beans. Let's keep that our little secret.

Pumpkin spice chocolate chip hummus dip
  • 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin spice cookie butter
  • 1-2 Tablespoons rolled oats
  • pinch of salt
  • mini chocolate chips, optional
Directions
In a food processor or a high speed blender, mix all of the ingredients together except for the chocolate chips. Pulse until everything is smooth - feel free to add a splash of milk if you want your dip a little bit creamier. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Store your dip, covered, in the refrigerator. It will keep for several days.

Yield: About 10-16 servings

Source: An Eva Bakes original

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Healthy brownie batter hummus dip

Craving brownies but want to eat something healthier? This brownie batter flavored dip is secretly healthy - it's made out of garbanzo beans! Serve with your favorite fruit or graham crackers!

My family and I were watching Shark Tank the other day when one of the entrepreneurs walked on and tried to get the sharks to partner with her hummus company. This wasn't just any hummus though - it was a dessert hummus. She had lots of different fun flavors like brownie batter and cookie dough.

This woman sold her hummus for something like $6 or $7 a container, which I thought was really high. Although I wanted to try her hummus, I thought it would be more fun (and a lot cheaper) to make my own.

The next time we went to the grocery store, we bought some canned garbanzo beans and Addie and I made this hummus together. I used Nutella as a mix-in since it seemed to pair well with the hummus and and cocoa powder. If you're not into Nutella (I can't believe I'm saying that), then you can definitely use your favorite nut or non-nut spread.

We ate our brownie batter hummus with graham crackers, pretzels and apples. This has been such a huge hit at our house that it was gone in about a day. It definitely tasted like brownie batter, and I threw in some mini chocolate chips for good measure.
I know that dessert hummus recipes have already made their rounds on the internet, but I'm a slow adapter so here I am... a few years late to the party. And speaking of parties, this brownie batter dip would definitely be the hit at a party. I bet nobody would ever guess it's made of chickpeas unless you told them!

Healthy brownie batter hummus dip
  • 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons chocolate hazelnut spread (I used Nutella)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons (or more) water
  • Mini chocolate chips, optional
Directions
In a food processor, blend all of the ingredients together except for the water. Once everything comes together, slowly drizzle in the water until you achieve your desired consistency. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Serve with fruit, graham crackers or eat it straight with a spoon. Store dip in the refrigerator. It will keep for several days.

Yield: About 12-16 servings

Source: Slightly adapted from Allrecipes

Friday, November 10, 2017

Skating Fridays

If at First You Fail, Try Again


I can't even begin to tell you all how much I fall on the ice. Some days I fall only once or twice. Other days I fall probably 10-20 times. It's all a part of the learning process in skating, and unfortunately, those falls hurt. Bad.

I was attempting a death drop spin during practice one day and took an unexpected fall. As I was joking with some of my skating friends, I was really putting the 'death' in the death drop on this. Thankfully, it did not hurt as much as I had anticipated:


Fortunately, I was able to follow up this spin the next day with a more successful attempt. Although my back leg is still pretty bent on the spin entry (before the snap), it has improved a lot. I am maintaining speed throughout and not coming to a complete stop, so it is definitely making some progress.



Maybe one day it will be good enough to include in a program.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Mocha chip marshmallow fudge brownies

Fudgy and decadent brownies are taken to the next level with a melted mocha chip marshmallow infused into the batter!

If you asked me what my favorite brownie recipe on the blog was, I'd have to say these salted fudge brownies. What makes them so special? Well, they are made in one bowl, and they have that awesome sweet and salty thing going for them.

I decided to jazz things up a bit and add some instant espresso powder to the brownie base, cut back on the salt and add a molten marshmallow surprise in the middle. Because who doesn't like dessert surprises, right?

I used a package of mocha chip marshmallows from my friends at Smashmallow for the gooey interior. In order to maximize what I had, I split the marshmallows in half so I could ensure that each brownie would have some melted Smashmallows in the centers.
After baking, my brownies puffed up quite a bit on top because the marshmallows poofed up and expanded. The marshmallows were completely melted into the brownies but you could definitely taste the mocha and the espresso powder. If you're worried about having a poofy brownie, just cover it up with a sprinkle of powdered sugar like I did.
I shared these brownies with some moms at Addie's dance studio. They all loved the brownies and enjoyed the melted marshmallow in the middle.  Some asked for the recipe, so here you go.

Mocha chip marshmallow fudge brownies
  • 1 and 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 package Smashmallow mocha chip marshmallows
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Generously grease or line an 8x8 inch or 9x9 inch square baking pan and set aside.. As an alternative, you can line the pan with aluminum foil and generously butter or grease the foil.

In a large saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate. Stir occasionally until the mixture is uniform.

Turn off the stove and remove the saucepan from the heat. Whisk in the cocoa powder until it is fully incorporated. Do the same with the sugars, eggs, vanilla, flour, salt and espresso powder. Be sure to add in each ingredient individually and fully mix them in before adding the next one.

Transfer half of the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. Break each marshmallow in half and place it on top of the batter (I'd recommend using about 8 marshmallows so you have 16 marshmallow halves). Add the remaining batter on top, making sure to cover the marshmallows.  

Bake the brownies in the center rack of your oven for about 35 minutes, or until the edges are done but the center is still slightly gooey. If you insert a toothpick into the center, it should come up with a little bit of the brownie batter.

Yield: About 16 brownies
 
Source: An Eva Bakes original, and adapted from these salted fudge brownies

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sticky toffee pudding and a giveaway

Joanne Chang's winning sticky toffee pudding is naturally sweetened with dates and pure maple syrup. This is one sweet treat you'll want to eat all week long! Plus, a maple syrup giveaway from my friends at Hidden Springs Maple!

This fall, I had the privilege of meeting some fantastic people from Hidden Springs Maple. Their maple syrup is all natural, and all locally produced. There are no additives of any kind used during the harvesting of the maple sap or during the boiling of the maple syrup. Hidden Springs maple syrup is hand-packed for freshness and exceptional flavor. As an added bonus, all of their maple syrup is also certified Kosher.

I received a sample of the Dark Robust maple syrup (they have two other varieties - Golden Delicate, and Amber Rich) and decided to bake with it. What did I decide upon? Why, this lovely sticky toffee pudding!

Ever since watching the Throwdown with Bobby Flay sticky toffee pudding episode on television, I've been intrigued and wanted to try Joanne Chang's winning recipe. I found it in the cookbook that I received from a friend one year for my birthday (thanks, E).

I was thankful that I had my handy food processor for this cake because it would have been near impossible to chop up the dates by hand. If you don't own a food processor, you can absolutely use a high-speed blender instead (note that the cheaper blenders usually have a hard time breaking down the dates so attempt at your own risk).

As expected, the best part about this cake was the maple sauce. Man, I could have just gone to town with a spoon and called it a day. It was so smooth and creamy, and the natural maple flavors shone brightly.


I'm super excited that Hidden Springs has a few things to share with Eva Bakes readers. First of all, they are sponsoring a giveaway where one of you will receive a quart of the Hidden Springs Dark Robust maple syrup! Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, Hidden Springs is offering all Eva Bakes readers a 10% coupon for your first purchase on their website. Simply enter EVABAKES2017 as the coupon code and voila! This coupon code expires 12/31/2017 so hurry!

Enjoy!

Sticky toffee pudding
  • 12-16 pitted and chopped Medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/4 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons Hidden Springs Maple syrup (or any Grade B maple syrup - please do not use the imitation stuff!)
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs
Maple sauce

  • 1/4 cup (80 grams) Hidden Springs Maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) heavy cream, room temperature or warmed

Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line a 10" round cake pan and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, soak the dates, hot water, and baking soda for about 15 minutes.

In a food processor or a high-speed blender, mix together the dates and hot water mixture until a smooth paste forms. Add in the flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla and maple syrup and mix until well blended. Add in the butter and eggs until smooth.

Transfer the batter into your prepared baking pan and bake in your preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until it springs back after you gently press on it.

While the cake s baking, prepare the sauce. Mix the maple syrup and butter together until well blended. Slowly drizzle in the warmed heavy cream until smooth. Do not use cold cream or else it will cause the melted butter to curdle!

Pour about 1/3 of the sauce on top of the cake after it comes out of the oven. Once the cake is cool, slice and serve with a generous amount of maple sauce.

Cake should be stored, covered, at room temperature and will keep for several days. Store the sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Warm up the sauce before serving with the cake.

Disclaimer: Hidden Springs Maple gave me a sample of their maple syrup and are sponsoring the giveaway. All thoughts and opinions are 100% mine.

Yield: One 10" cake; about 8-12 servings

Source: Baking With Less Sugar by Joanne Chang, pages 135-137

Friday, November 3, 2017

Skating Fridays

Coachless


Don't be alarmed - I am still with a coach for freestyle. But, my pairs partner and I are out of luck.

I shared with you all over the summer that I was experimenting with pairs just for fun, and we had a pairs coach who had moved to our rink. We only met with the coach once every 2 weeks, and my partner lived about an hour away so we weren't able to practice together very often.

We had set an audacious goal of trying to test Bronze Pairs by the end of the year. The pairs coach helped us with some of the basic elements but did not cover some of the required ones that are listed on the test.

Not too long ago, the coach moved away without any warning. I don't know the exact circumstances of the situation but only know that he is no longer teaching at my rink. And no other coaches at our rink or at a neighboring rink have any qualified pairs coaches.

My partner and I still have the desire to try and pass this test. We've already come so far, so it's not an option to just abandon ship at this point. We've relegated to watching dance teams and studied YouTube videos for instruction. You can say that we're pretty much self-coached right now.

So... onward we go. There are still a few elements giving us difficulty but hopefully we'll get those sorted out soon so that we can put together a test program and get this in front of the judges.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Soft and chewy chocolate cookies with melted marshmallows

Soft and chewy chocolate cookies topped with gooey melted marshmallows! Mix things up with your favorite flavored marshmallows. Don't forget the chocolate drizzle on top! 

Fall is finally here. I'm happy because it's my favorite season of the year. Not only are the mosquitoes finally starting to go away (in fact, I just got bit in mid-October!!!), but the leaves are slowly starting to turn bright red and orange.

There's definitely a little bit of a chill in the air, and as a result, the skating rink has been more than frigid. I needed something to warm up my soul and my feet and decided to bake some soft and chewy chocolate cookies. But not just any chocolate cookies. Ones with melted flavored marshmallows! I was missing my summer strawberries so I featured strawberries & cream Smashmallows in these. I threw in a few mocha chip Smashmallows too... just because.

And of course, I had to put a chocolate drizzle on top. If you have to ask why, then I am afraid you and I can no longer be friends. Kidding...maybe.

These cookies. Oh my goodness. The cookies themselves were soft and chewy with the perfect texture. Then you add on a melted flavored marshmallow and WHOAH. The extra bit of melted chocolate on the top was just... extra. Talk about a perfect cookie.

I shared these with some skating friends and several of them ate more than one. I was tempted to as well but refrained this time. I have to say that these are definitely one of my all-time favorite cookies to date. I can't wait to make them again!


Soft and chewy chocolate cookies with melted marshmallows
  • 1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Oatly chocolate milk (can substitute with milk of your choice)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Smashmallow marshmallows (I used a package of strawberries & cream and a few mocha chip ones; you can substitute with jumbo marshmallows that are cut in half)
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 standard cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

Add in the egg, milk and vanilla extract. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix until everything just comes together.

Using a cookie scoop (or two spoons), spoon moundfuls of dough onto your prepared baking sheets. The cookie dough balls should be slightly smaller than a golf ball.  Make sure you leave at least 2 inches in between each cookie dough ball.

Bake in your preheated oven for 4 minutes. Then rotate and flip the pans (so that the pan that was on the lower rack is now on the top; also make sure you rotate the pans from forwards to backwards). Bake for another 4 minutes.

Remove the pans from the oven and gently press a Smashmallow on top of each cookie. Return to the oven to bake for another 2 minutes.

Remove from the oven. If the marshmallows haven't fully melted, gently press down on them so the insides start to ooze out.

If desired, you can drizzle the tops with melted chocolate, sprinkles, chocolate curls or whatever makes you happy.

Allow the cookies to cool before serving. They should be stored in an airtight container and will keep for several days.

Yield: About 22 cookies

Source: Barely adapted from Taste of Home

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Double chocolate mint cookies

Soft and chewy double chocolate mint cookies are perfect for chocolate and mint lovers! These cookies use mint chocolate chips as the add-in for a fresh minty taste!

Remember these amazing fresh mint chocolate chip cookies? Well, this is a variation on those, and much easier to make (no steeping of butter here). No siree - these used good old mint flavored chocolate chips, which I was happy to find at my local grocery store. And since I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic, I wanted my cookies to be super chocolatey... hence the cocoa powder for a chocolate cookie base. Yesssssss.

This recipe is one of the easier cookie recipes that I've baked recently. They didn't require any refrigeration, dough rolling or anything crazy like that. Just a simple creaming of butter and sugar, whisking of dry ingredients, and then combining the two together. I had cookies ready in less than 30 minutes from start to finish.

The key to these cookies is not to over bake them. They may appear to be slightly underdone when you take them out of the oven, and that is OK. The cookies will start to firm up as they cool so you get soft and fudgy cookies. If you like your cookies a little crunchier, then go ahead and bake for a little longer. But I am definitely in the soft and chewy cookie camp.

Now if you want these extra minty, you can swap out the vanilla extract for peppermint extract. You can also toss in some white chocolate chips or even semi-sweet chocolate chips for some triple baking chip action here. Sky's the limit!

Double chocolate mint cookies
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 2/3 cups (about one 10-ounce package) mint flavored chocolate chips
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or line with silicone mats and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.

Turn the mixer down to low and slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix until everything just comes together.

Turn the mixer off and fold in the chocolate chips using a wooden spoon or a rubber/silicone spatula.

Drop spoonfuls of dough (about golf-ball sized; I used my medium cookie scoop to help with this) onto your prepared baking sheets. Make sure to leave at least 2 inches in between each cookie since they will spread.

Bake in your preheated oven for 4 minutes. Then rotate the pans top to bottom and front to back. Bake for another 4-5 minutes.

The cookies may appear to be gooey in the middle, but that is OK. Do not over bake the cookies or they will turn out hard. The cookies will firm up while cooling.

Cookies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and will keep for several days. They can also be frozen and thawed. Unless you're at my house. In that case, there is no chance we'd have any leftovers to freeze.

Yield: About 20 cookies

Source: Hershey's

Friday, October 27, 2017

Skating Fridays

Sparky Skates


Last week, I had the distinct pleasure of borrowing our department mascot from work. This furry little creature is a marmoset named Sparky. Each month, a new team gets to keep Sparky and take him on adventures. For my day, I obviously wanted to take him to the rink.

I got lots of weird looks from skaters and coaches when I put Sparky on the boards. People were wondering what I was doing with him so I had to explain that it was like a "Flat Stanley" assignment.

Sparky started off with a camel spin and did fairly well. He had a difficult time holding on so I moved on to jumps. We did a simple loop jump together and then graduated to an Axel. What was really interesting was that Sparky was a great training aid for me, as I had to hold him tight during the rotation so my arms wouldn't fly open. Perhaps I'm onto something here...

Anyway, here is a short video with Sparky's skating adventures!



Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Chocolate mint brownies

Soft, fluffy brownies are taken to the next level with mint baking chips and a beautiful glaze. Chocolate mint lovers will adore these! 
I don't know about you, but I just can't get enough of chocolate mint desserts. From ice cream to candy bars to these brownies. I had half a bag of chocolate mint chips and wanted to find a good use for them, so I baked these beauties.

These brownies were much cakier than I anticipated and got pretty crumbly after a few days. Don't get me wrong - they are still a fantastic brownie and one I'd recommend but if you are a fudgy brownie type of person, then you're better off making these, omitting the flaky sea salt and adding in mint extract and the mint chips.
With all that said, my friends loved these brownies. My family did too. Now that I think of it, I think that these brownies would be an awesome mix-in for a batch of ice cream. Hmm... :)

Chocolate mint brownies
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and divided
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (10 ounce) package of mint chocolate baking chips (if you cannot find these, feel free to substitute with regular chocolate chips and add 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract to your batter)
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line a 9"x13" baking pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and baking soda.

Add in half (1/3 cup) of the melted butter and mix until well blended. Add in the boiling water and mix until everything is smooth and uniform.

Add in the sugar and eggs and mix until well blended. Fold in the flour, peppermint extract, vanilla, and salt until no dry streaks remain and the batter is lump-free. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Bake in your preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before serving. If desired, you can top your brownies with a simple glaze by mixing about a cup of powdered sugar with 1-2 Tablespoons of milk and food coloring.

Brownies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: About 24 brownies (or more, depending upon how large you cut your slices)

Source: Barely adapted from Hershey's

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sprouted wheat vanilla chai bars

With the arrival of fall, that means it's time for chai flavors! Enjoy these sprouted wheat vanilla chai bars with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or your favorite hot beverage!

Although I have been baking for many years, I haven't been around or really heard of sprouted wheat. According to my friends at Google, sprouted wheat flour is a finely ground, powdery, whole grain plant food made by intentionally sprouting the excellent quality whole grains and then milling them. The flour made from these grains provides more protein, vitamins and minerals. So apparently it is an even more nutrient-rich flour that is typically used in breads.

I was gifted a package of sprouted wheat by a friend and finally got around to baking with it. Since the weather was getting chillier, I was craving some hot chai. I bought a cup at a coffee shop and happily sipped on it during a cold morning. That evening, I was inspired to make some chai-flavored dessert. And thus, these bars were born.

These vanilla chai bars resemble a blondie, only with chai spices and the sprouted wheat flour. Then they are sprinkled with a crunchy chai sugar for a fun, contrasting topping. If you want, you can also drizzle on some melted white chocolate.
Everyone that received these chai bars loved them. They are very similar to the texture of classic blondies, and the flavor definitely was of chai. The extra sprinkling of the chai sugar was a fun touch. Next time I may drizzle on some white chocolate for an additional flavor and for decoration. 

Hope you all enjoy these!


Sprouted wheat vanilla chai bars
Bars
  • 2 cups sprouted wheat flour (can substitute with all-purpose or even whole wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons chai spice (if you don't have this, use 1 and 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, 1/4 teaspoon finely ground white pepper, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon orange zest)
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Topping
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 teaspoon chai spice (or 3/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 3/8 teaspoon ground ginger)
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
Directions
Make the bars: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line a 9"x13" baking pan and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Set aside.

In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and mix until most of the brown sugar has melted. The mixture should become smooth and glossy. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool down for about 5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Finally, fold in the dry ingredients and mix until no dry streaks remain. The batter will be thick.

Transfer the batter to your prepared baking pan and make sure to spread it evenly. Bake in your preheated oven for 17-21 minutes for chewier bars or 23-27 minutes for cakier bars. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out with a few crumbs. The tops of the bars will rise and fall. Allow the bars to cool for at least 15 minutes before adding the topping.

Prepare and add the topping: Mix the chai spice and sugar together in a small bowl. Brush the melted butter on top of the cooled bars. Sprinkle the top with the chai and sugar mixture, tilting the pan to evenly distribute everything.

Bars should be covered and stored in an airtight container. They are best served the following day so the flavors can meld and develop. Slice and serve. Bars should continue to be kept in an airtight container and will keep for several days at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Yield: About 24 bars

Source: King Arthur Flour

Friday, October 20, 2017

Skating Fridays

Revamped Freestyle Program


Here is the video from my re-choreographed freestyle program. Despite my two mistakes on the axels, it felt like a strong skate.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Chai cupcakes with chai buttercream

Beautiful, spiced-filled chai cupcakes that happen to be made with oat milk! 
Plus a giveaway from Oatly below!

I recently shared with you all that I haven't been drinking regular milk for many years. Instead, my husband and I have been drinking soy milk. I was excited to have met some nice folks from Oatly several weeks ago and fell in love with their chocolate oat milk. What exactly is oat milk, you ask? Well, it is a "milk" that is made from oats and water. This Swedish company operates out of the southern region of Sweden and is sells their products in over 20 countries, including the USA.
The oat milk is nice and smooth, a bit creamy and just downright delicious. Oatly sent me containers of their Barista edition and chocolate flavors to try. I already knew that I liked the chocolate one and was excited to try the Barista variety. This non-dairy milk is supposed to be pretty amazing in coffees (hence the name Barista) and in teas. I don't drink either, so I couldn't test it out in that capacity.

What I did instead was to bake with it. This is Eva Bakes after all, and I chose to create a chai cupcake to feed my chai cravings and use Oatly as my milk. I used Oatly in both the cupcake and in the frosting and can say that it bakes up really well. I couldn't taste it in the finished cupcake at all, and nobody in my family knew any different either. I loved these spicy chai cupcakes because the cupcakes were infused with chai spices and held up nicely with that thick layer of chai buttercream. It was hard to not eat more than one cupcake!

This is a wonderful, vegan milk that you can use for just about anything. From cereal to coffee, cupcakes to frosting and everything in between, this oat milk is my new favorite non-dairy milk. If you can't find it near you, you can always order some online. Or, you can keep reading to see how you can score some Oatly for free!

My friends at Oatly would like to give an Eva Bakes reader an Oatly variety pack. You'll get a container of the Oatly Oatmilk, a Barista Edition Oatly and one of the Chocolate variety. The Barista edition is perfect for coffees and teas, and the chocolate is wonderful to drink on its own (because we're all kids at heart, right)?

Enter via the link below - please be patient, as sometimes the widget may be slow to load. Good luck to all!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Chai cupcakes with chai buttercream
Cupcakes
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup Oatly oat milk (can substitute with milk of choice)
Buttercream
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 to 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 Tablespoons Oatly oat milk (can substitute with milk of choice)
Topping
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners and set aside.

Bake the cupcakes: In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream the butter on medium speed until it is smooth. Add the sugar and continue beating until it is light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Add the oil and vanilla and mix well.

Turn the mixer to low and add about half of the dry ingredients. Add in about half of the milk and continue to alternate with the dry ingredients. Your batter should be fairly thick.

Evenly distribute the batter into your prepared cupcake liners, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake in your preheated oven for 18-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

Make the buttercream: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream the butter on medium speed until smooth. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the powdered sugar until well mixed. Add in the ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice and salt. Mix until well incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix well. Slowly drizzle in the milk until you achieve a piping consistency (you can play around with this - add more milk if you like your frosting on the softer side; add more powdered sugar if you like it thicker).

Once the cupcakes have cooled, spread or pipe frosting on top of them.

Make the topping: Combine the raw sugar, cinnamon and cardamom together in a small bowl. Sprinkle this on top of the frosting.

Cupcakes should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and will keep for a few days.

Disclaimer: Oatly provided me with samples of their products. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Source: Barely adapted from How Sweet Eats

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