10/31/16

Spooktacular Halloween Cut-out Cookies


Halloween is usually a night to dress up and get trashed on a extra weird night out. Or, as it was this year, Halloween falls on a Monday and it becomes a night of baking cookies and watching Hocus Pocus.

Either one sounds good to me. 


If you're like me, then you did not prepare for this bake. So you don't have fancy Halloween sprinkles or adorable pumpkin-flavors at hand.  You do, however, have some cute cut-outs from a 100+ cookie cutter bin you bought on Amazon on a whim one time (it just made more financial sense!). So this is one you whip up with basic ingredients, in between passing out candy to Trick-or-Treaters.

Relax, heat up some cider, and decorate the fudge out these cookies.


Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup water

Preparation


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the sugar into the butter with a spatula until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.
  3. Mix the flour combination into the butter mixture. Stir until incorporated, and pat together into a large dough ball. Wrap in plastic and place in the freezer to chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, clean up yo' kitchen and get a smooth, floured surface ready. Roll that dough out, and cut into neat shapes. Place on a nongreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes
  5. To make the icing, mix the 1/2 the confectioner sugar with 1-2 tablespoon water until completely smooth and a little tacky. Place in a plastic piping bag or ziplock and snip the tiniest bit off the corner (as small as you can).
  6. Do the same with the rest of the confectioners sugar and the cocoa. Stir until completely combined and place into a piping bag or ziplock.
  7. Decorate to your hearts content!


Boo! Happy Halloween!


 Happy baking!

Flourless Chocolate Cookies : Stranger Things


Happy Halloween! This year I've seen some amazing costumes inspired by the Netflix show Stranger Things. If you haven't seen it, it's the bomb.com. A nod to all things Stephen King, it's the perfect balance of heartfelt, creepy, and fun.



I promise, these just look like they're from the Upside Down. Hidden in that bowl of slime is a terrific dark chocolate cookie recipe. It's flourless and gluten-free! 



While the batter looks sinister, the cookies are nothing but a treat! I can't get over how yummy and chocolatey these cookies are. The key is to get dark chocolate cocoa, and to cook them low and slow. 


Poor Barb.


Cookie time!

Ingredients

3 cups confectioners sugar
3/4 cup dark chocoalte cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 large egg whites

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven 325 F. Sift the confections sugar and cocoa powder in a large bowl. Stir in the salt and chocolate pieces.
  2. Mix in the eggs whites, stir until just incorporated.
  3. Drop the dough on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, until dry and cracked. Rotate the sheets half way through.
  4. Enjoy!




Happy Halloween! And happy baking!

10/28/16

Pumpkin Spice Waffles


Ready for the weekend? I am! This has been such a crazy October. I can't believe Halloween is right around the corner.

I know, I know, pumpkin is literally seeping out of everything right now. Coffee, candles, soup, soap, Peeps. Nothing is safe. If one more article tells me to make a pumpkin keg, I'm going to lose my mind. But guys, these are home made, and drizzled with caramel sauce. So even if pumpkin ain't yo thang, or if you're so sick of it, these are still freaking delicious and not too pumpkin-y. 


This season I had a lot of friends and family visit who have food allergies. So it was a great opportunity to experiment with dairy-free and gluten-free recipes! I got this waffle recipe from the Minimalist Baker, who in my humble opinion is a dream boat and a genius. Because I am not nearly as savvy, these are not full-on vegan, but they are dairy free and delicious. That being said, my homemade caramel sauce is not, but there are really great caramel sauces on the market that are. 


Despite its name, pumpkin spice has no pumpkin in it. I dunno what I was thinking when I was a kid, maybe that it had powdered pumpkin essence? But if you don't have pumpkin spice at hand, you can mix cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger together. Bam! You're own hand-crafted pumpkin spice. 


Ingredients

1 egg
1/4 pumpkin puree
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice OR:
   1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
   1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
   1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup almond milk
1/3 cup coffee
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup pecan halves
Caramel Sauce, for topping or maple syrup


Preparation

  1. If you need to keep your waffles warm for a while, also preheat the oven to 250 F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the egg, puree, brown sugar, oil, baking powder, and all the spices together. Stir in the almond milk and coffee.
  3. Lastly, gently mix in the flour. Make sure not to over stir! You want to use the muffin method here, leaving the mixture alone once the flour has just been wetted. Let it rest for 20 minutes. Turn on your waffle maker to preheat. 
  4. Generously spray the waffle iron with cooking spray, and pour 1/4 cup mixture into the center. Press and allow to cook following your irons instructions.
  5.  If warming in the oven, place the waffles on a tin or cookie sheet and cover with a slightly damp towel. 
  6. Toast the pecans in a sauce pan, tossing gently over medium heat until just browning and aromatic.
  7. Serve drizzled with caramel sauce or syrup, sprinkled with pecans! Don't forget a big mug of coffee or tea!

Happy baking!

10/15/16

Salted Caramel Sauce


This is a recipe for a really basic caramel sauce, that goes great on just about anything. I've used it on cakes, pies, and drizzled over waffles. You can never go wrong with a good caramel sauce in your arsenal.

Caramel is sugar, melted and boiled. That's it. I didn't really understand it's simplicity until I started trying to make it more frequently, in its various forms. Buttercreams, sauces, candies, honeycombs, fillings, or spun into thin webs. 

Caramel sauce is just caramel with the addition of cream and butter, to make it soft and runny.


Ingredients

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 stick butter, cubed
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preparation

Before making the caramel sauce, it's good to get all of the ingredients out and ready before hand.  

Place the sugar and water in a sauce pan and cook on medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves and begins to bubble. Do not stir, but swirl occasionally.
The sugar will begin to change color rapidly, make sure you are watching! Don't do other stuff. Just focus on this sugary facial.
When the mixture has turned a golden brown, add all the butter at once. Whisk very quickly, until the butter is completely incorporated.
The mixture will foam and froth, but will eventually return to smooth consistency after 10-20 seconds.
Once the mixture has settled, add the cream, and again whisk very quickly until completely incorporated.
Once the cream is incorporated, leave on the heat for another 2-3 minutes, to thicken the sauce.

Take off the heat, and add salt. Allow the caramel to cool briefly, before pouring into a heat-proof bowl. 

Happy baking!

10/12/16

Dark Chocolate Buttercream


Hello people!

Here's a lovely buttercream recipe featured on the Chocolate Caramel Popcorn Cake. This is a particularly thick icing because it uses melted dark chocolate and is cocoa powder-free. You can make it with a mixer or by hand! Make sure the chocolate is completely cooled before mixing in the butter.


Ingredients

1 cup dark chocolate morsels
1 cup butter (2 sticks) softened to room temperature
2-3 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon cream

Preparation


  1. Melt the chocolate morsels, and wait until completely cooled.
  2. Beat together the chocolate and butter until completely incorporated. Sift in the icing sugar in small increments, and beat until thick and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla and cream.
  3. Spread on a cake and enjoy!
Happy baking!

10/11/16

Honey Apple Babka


This is a creation that was half request, half secret bucket-list-wish-fulfillment. My friend Mollie suggested I make something with apple and honey flavors in honor of Rosh Hashanna, the first day of the Jewish new year. Unfortunately, life caught up to me real quick last week, and I missed it and all the apple/honey goodness. But Yom Kippur begins tonight, and what better way to break fast than with a soft, yeasted bread brimming with apples and cinnamon?

While in New York, I'd seen (and eaten) way too many babkas when I worked at a popular Jewish bakery. So I was already familiar with the traditional sweet loaf. I was curious on how to make it, but had never dared try it. Until now!


This recipe is a variation of The Kitchn's Sticky Caramel-Pecan Babka, which looks utterly delicious. For my babka, I changed the fillings and third-ed the recipe (third-d? trecimated?) for a single loaf serving. Smaller recipes are a little less intimidating, I find. However this yeasted bread takes time to make, so it might be worth it to make multiple at a time. If you'd like to do so, revert back to the original, and triple the apple filling ingredients.

Total time: 5 hours-3 days
Bake time: 45-55 minute
Yields: 1 loaf 

Ingredients

1/4 cup water
1 teaspoons yeast
1/4 cup whole milk
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups AP flour, plus extra for rolling
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2-3 apples
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
2 tablespoons honey, plus extra for serving

Preparation

Make the dough:
1. In a mixer bowl, combine the water and yeast. Let soak for 10 minutes, or until the yeast has completely dissolved.
2. Add the milk, egg, sugar, and vanilla, and whisk until completely combined.
3. Add the flour and carefully stir until combined. It should be a shaggy mess.

4. Beat for 5 minutes with the dough hook until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides.

5. Then carefully add the butter 1-tablespoon at a time (you may need to use your hands to fully incorporate it into the dough). Knead for another 5-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth, elastic, and springs back at your touch. 

6. Place in a large greased bowl. Cover and let it rest for 1 1/2 -2 hours. Then set it in the fridge for at least another hour-up to 3 days (it'll keep, woo!).

For the filling:
1. Slice the two apples (you can skin them if you like, but it's not necessary) into quarter-inch cubes.
2. Toss with brown sugar and cinnamon. Cook in a sauce pan over medium-high heat, until just softened, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Allow the apples to cool completely, before forming the loaf (to prevent the dough layers from melting together).

To form the loaf:
1. Grease an 8-inch x 4-inch loaf pan. 
2. Take the dough out of the fridge and place on a well-floured surface.
3. Roll out the dough into roughly a 10-inch x 12-inch rectangle, 1/4-inch thick.
 
4. Spread the apples evenly over the surface, making sure they reach the edges.
 
5. Than carefully roll the dough into a log, tucking in the apples into the folds as you roll. If any of the filling falls out, just gently stuff back into the sides.
6. Tuck in the ends and pinch to seal like a burrito.
 
7. Dip a sharp knife into water, then slice the loaf in half. Twist the separated halves around each other once, keeping the exposed-filling-side up.
8. Carefully transfer into the loaf pan. Let proof another 45 minutes, until puffed up. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
 
9. Before baking, beat the egg yolk well and brush over the loaf. Bake for 45-55 minutes. Cover the last 10 minutes to avoid burning. Let cool in the pan.
10. In a small frying pan, toast the slivered almonds over medium heat until just browned. Let cool.
11. When the loaf has cooled completely, remove from the tin. You can gently slide a knife around the sides, and then carefully wiggle it out into your palm. Or just leave it, it will still look good.
12. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with almonds. 

And finally, enjoy! Serve with extra honey and lots of butter. L'Shanah Tovah!


Happy baking!

10/9/16

Chocolate Caramel Popcorn Cake


Hold on to your hats guys. This cake is nuts. It's a delicious, caramel-salty combo. There are so many beautiful parts of this, I'm going to break them down one by one. First the cake. Usually I am lazy and make my cakes with all-purpose flour, but this one I took the time to use cake flour and buttermilk! And yeah, it was so worth it. I got the recipe from Joy the Baker's Homemade Decadence.



Ingredients


Chocolate Cake:
3 cups cake flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
11/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 cups buttermilk

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans.
  2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. 
  3. Beat the butter and sugars together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure they are incorporated before adding the next. Add the vanilla extract. 
  4. Reduce the speed to low or stir in half the flour mixture until completely incorporated. Slowly add the buttermilk, then add the rest of the flour mixture. 
  5. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared pans, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.
  6. Fill the layers with caramel buttercream and cover with chocolate buttercream. Drench the edges with caramel sauce and top with caramel popcorn.

Happy baking!

Featured Post

Honey Apple Babka

This is a creation that was half request, half secret bucket-list-wish-fulfillment. My friend Mollie suggested I make something with ap...