Thursday, 23 October 2014

Celebration Cookies

This past Monday marked my Gran's 93rd birthday. My Gran and I had a special relationship throughout my childhood and well into my mid-twenties - I was her only grand-daughter, and I was spoiled. Pretty dresses and jewelry, lunches out, and special sleepover weekends away from my brothers.  She would tell anyone and everyone that I was her grand-daughter.  We used to exchange letters - mine handwritten and hers neatly typed up as her handwriting was illegible (particularly to a ten year old).  When I stayed overnight, to help me sleep she would make me a mug of hot milk sweetened with honey.  My gran is now in a long-term care facility, and suffers from dementia.  She is blind, and has good days and not so good days.  I choose to remember her as she was in her prime.

Happy Birthday Gran - these cookies are vibrant and colourful, and always ready for a celebration, just like you.

I chose these super fun looking cookies as the first recipe to try from Joy's fabulous new book: Homemade Decadence.  I have bookmarked no less than a dozen recipes so far - the cakes, the cookies, the pies...oh my!  But back to these cookies - I have a bit of a thing for sprinkles, so it was just a matter of time.    

Celebration Cookies
slightly adapted from Homemade Decadence and here 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and mix thoroughly. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a spatula. Add 1/4 cup of the sprinkles.
Pour the remaining sprinkles in a bowl.  Roll approximately 2 tbsp of dough into a ball, dip in the sprinkles and place on a plate. Repeat. Makes approximately 16-20 cookies, depending on how big you make each ball. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes or until edges just start turning brown. I recommend checking your first batch at 10 minutes just in case.  Larger cookies will take a bit longer.
Let cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Rainy Date Night Brownies

Rain, rain, rain.  This recipe is for those evenings when it's not just raining.  It's not even pouring.  When it is absolutely bucketing down.  Buckets of blowing-sideways-drenching rain in fits and bursts.

Those nights make perfect date nights.   The kind of night to stay in, wrap up in a blanket and eat comfort food while watching episode after episode of The West Wing kind of night.  I mean who wants or dares to go out on a night like that?  A darling husband, that's who.  A man who will brave the storm to pick up some cocoa when simply nothing else will do but warm brownies topped with vanilla ice cream.  And these brownies are worth it.  I guarantee it.

Rainy Date Night Brownies
from 5 degrees of prep

This recipe makes just enough for two.

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour, sifted
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Lightly grease two mini cake pans (mine are heart shaped).  I think an oversized muffin tin would work just as well, but be sure not to overfill the cups.

Combine all ingredients in medium bowl. Mix well.

Pour into cake pans.

Bake 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick or fork inserted into the brownies comes out clean.

Serve immediately with vanilla ice cream!

Note:  I have also made these with half the amount of butter and reduced the sugar by a third, and it turned out just as good, just not quite as rich.  This is a good option, especially if you are topping the brownies with ice cream.  

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Muffins

It never fails.  Each year I sadly watch the days of September wind down toward the departure of summer, but every year it doesn't take long for me to remember how much I love the autumn. Fall is like an old friend you haven't seen for a while - comforting and warm - bring on the socks, scarves, blankets, and cups of tea.  It's nice to get cozy.

Every year I seem to discover a new pumpkin recipe to add to my list of fall favourites - two years ago it was this pumpkin bundt cake with cinnamon glaze, last year it was these pumpkin gingersnap cookies - and the winner so far this year is this muffin recipe.

 Lightly spiced, they remind me of a muffin version of the pumpkin gingersnap cookies.  You can see the black dots of the ground cloves!  Semi-sweet chocolate and spiced pumpkin are a match made in heaven.  I tried to (though only somewhat successfully) capture the orange hue in the photos.  These muffins are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea or coffee on a chilly autumn day.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Muffins
slightly adapted from Flourishing Foodie

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp oil
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Makes 10-12 muffins

In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, baking powder,baking soda, spices and both sugars.
In a medium bowl combine the egg, oil, and pumpkin puree.

Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture and combine. Add the chocolate chips, stir to combine, and spoon into muffin tin. The oil will keep the muffins from sticking to the pan, so no greasing or paper cups required.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Best served warm.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Beer Brownies

I love baking with beer.  They are one of the best ingredients to add to any chocolate cake or brownie recipe.  Plus, you only use half a can, so you get to drink the rest while it's baking! These just might be the best brownies I have ever made.

 A light crust, fudgey, and firm. Not dry or cakey - this is everything a good brownie should be.  And say no to frosting - a superior brownie just doesn't need it. I am always suspicious of frosted brownies - they probably came from a box.  (Having said that, I have never been known to turn one down).

These were the recipe of choice for a Saturday night get together with friends to eat, drink, and watch bad movies.  Yes, watch bad movies on purpose.  Beer + beer brownies + Flash Gordon = awesome.

Beer Brownies
slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup stout beer
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, and salt.

Melt 1/2 cup chocolate chips and butter in a small pan over low heat.  Remove from heat and stir in the stout.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and both sugars.  Add the chocolate mixture and stir.  Add the chocolate/egg/sugar mixture to the flour/cocoa mixture and stir until all of the ingredients are well combined.  Fold in the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

Pour into a greased 9x13 inch pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Let cool before slicing (if you can).

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Brown Butter Peach Coffee Cake with Streusel

This happy accident was the result of a bucket of overripe peaches on the brink of going bad.  What to do with them all?  Crisp?  Pie?  I like to combine peaches with other fruits for crisps and pies... well, really just blueberries.  I can't recall ever using any other kind of fruit. Blueberries and peaches, in case you couldn't tell by this mini crisp , this pie, or this big crisp, is one of my favourite combos. But, I digress.  What am I to do with all these peaches in my fridge?

This is adapted from a peach muffin recipe.  I did make these muffins last summer, but I wasn't totally blown away by them so it never made it onto the blog.  I wanted to use at least 3 peaches up, so I made a cake.   And, I was blown away.  So here it is, absolutely delicious, and worth a spot on here.

Brown Butter Peach Coffee Cake with Streusel
makes 1 loaf
adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook

7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 peaches, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease one loaf pan or line with parchment.
1. Brown the butter. Remove from heat, pour into a small bowl, and let cool to room temperature.
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
3. Mix together eggs, milk, and vanilla in a medium sized bowl. Gradually mix in the browned butter
4. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, and gently fold in the diced peaches. Pour into loaf pan.
5. To make the streusel topping, combine the butter, flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl and use your fingers to break it down into small flakes and pea-sized bits. Sprinkle over the top of the cake.
6. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Mini Blueberry Peach Crisps

I have a confession to make.  My husband and I ate an entire family size peach crisp recently in two days.  Now that is pure gluttony.  We kept coming back for just one more spoonful, and then one more, until it was at that point (and I know that you know what I mean) where we just figured, what the hey, let's just finish the dang thing.

Here is the solution - mini blueberry peach crisps!  Just enough for two small servings.  When you get to the bottom of that ramekin, that's it, that's all.  Pure satisfaction - no guilt.

On a side note - today marks two years that I have been blogging : )

Mini Blueberry Peach Crisps

1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oats
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 peach
1/3 cup blueberries

Combine the oats, flour, sugar and butter in a small bowl.  Using your fingers, incorporate the butter into the oats, flour, and sugar until it resembles small flakes.  Set aside.
Peel and dice a peach. Divide the peach and the blueberries evenly between two ramekins. Spoon the topping over the fruit and bake at 375 for about 20 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes, and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Blueberry Scones

These were supposed to be raspberry scones.  But, locally grown raspberries were not to be found on the days preceding this attempt, and I just can't buy fruit from the US in August, of all months of the year. It should be outlawed.  So, I missed the boat when it comes to locally grown raspberries, but blueberries were an excellent substitution, and no less enjoyable (I am not ashamed to admit that I inhaled three of these in one day).

These are deliciously soft and fluffy and not dry and crumbly like so many homemade scones.  These are not tea biscuits.  A scone has three essential ingredients - cream, sugar, and butter.  The original recipe calls for heavy cream and 1 tbsp of orange zest.  I used half and half and omitted the orange zest and I think they turned out perfectly. 

Blueberry Scones
slightly adapted from Ina Garten's recipe and Le Petit Brioche

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup cold cream
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
extra cream for brushing the tops
raw sugar for sprinkling the tops

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and mix together using a pastry cutter or your hands until butter is blended in small flakes or pea sized chunks.  Combine the egg and cream and slowly add to the flour and butter mixture.  Continue mixing until just blended. Its ok if there are butter bits - you want to keep those.  It's important that the mixture remain as cold as possible. Add the blueberries to the dough gently - some will smush, that's ok.

After sprinkling flour on your rolling surface, start kneading the dough into a ball.  Roll the dough out until is it about 3/4 inch thick.  You can shape it however you like - round like me, or properly square like professionals.  Cut into quarters once, and then once more - to make 8 triangles.

Brush the tops with cream and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are nicely browned.