Friday, March 29, 2013

Espresso Brownie Cookies

There are moments during baking when you are sneaking tastes of the batter that you just know the finished product is going to be amazing. These were as amazing raw as they were baked.  I can't help but lick the spatula when I'm baking anything with chocolate. To my friends who actually got to have some of these, I didn't double-dip...or did I?

Espresso Brownie Cookies
Adapted from Just A Taste

3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
3 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt


Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a double boiler (a small pan set within a larger pan of simmering water), combine the dark chocolate, 1 cup of chocolate chips and butter, stirring until melted. Remove the smaller pan containing the chocolate from the double boiler and set it aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs, sugar and instant coffee granules on high speed until very thick and mixture forms a ribbon when whisk is lifted, about 3 minutes.
Slowly add the chocolate mixture to the bowl, whisking just until combined.
Turn off the stand mixer. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl and stir just until combined. Stir in the remaining 1 cup of chocolate chips.
Portion heaping tablespoons of batter about 2 inches apart on a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are cracked and puffed on top. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to cool for 1 minute on the baking sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Candied Pecan Biscotti

It's no secret that I love sweets. I have to have a little something sugary after every meal or it just doesn't feel complete. Breakfast is no exception and these biscotti are just perfect with a cup of coffee after some eggs. The spicy kick from the cayenne is a really nice addition and since you'll have some pecans leftover from this recipe, I dare you not to indulge in them by the handful. Yum!

Candied Pecan Biscotti
by Joy the Baker

makes about 2 dozen biscotti
2 cups flour
3/4  teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
For Pecans:
1 large egg white
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 cups raw pecan halves
Start by making the pecans.  Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk egg white until the whites have foamed into small white bubbles. Add sugar, spices, and salt.  Whisk until thick and opaque. Add pecans and toss to coat. Once thoroughly coated, spoon pecans onto prepared baking sheet. Leave any extra coating in the bowl.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until nuts are fragrant and toasted golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before chopping and incorporating into biscotti batter.
To make the Biscotti:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and arrange two baking racks in the upper portion of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fit with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the down and beat in the egg followed by the egg yolk.  Beat in the vanilla extract.
Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter all at once. With the mixer or just with a spatula, bring all of the ingredients together until a somewhat stiff dough is formed. Fold in 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans.
Divide the dough in two on the two making sheets. Shape each half of dough into a 9-inch long and 1 1/2-inch wide log. Bake the two sheets on two different racks in the oven for 20 minutes.  Rotate the cookie sheets for even baking and bake for 20-25 more minutes until golden and firm to the touch.
Remove from the oven but keep the oven on.  Let biscotti cool until able to handle.  Using a serrated knife, cut logs into 1/2-inch wide diagonal slices.  Place biscotti cut side down on baking sheet and sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar.  Bake again until pale golden, about 10-15 minutes.
Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cranberry Orange Muffins

I try to always have muffins in the house. They are the perfect quick breakfast when my little one won't let me make anything. Plus I can eat it with one hand. Anybody else have a baby who demands your full attention in the morning? I must be holding her, singing, smiling, cuddling etc. or my ears will be ringing with cries of frustration. Thankfully, she takes a nap pretty soon after her first meal.

I found this recipe on Pinterest. I made a few changes since I didn't have all the ingredients and they turned out really yummy.

Cranberry - Orange Muffins  Homemade by Holman
Recipe adapted from The Pastry Queen cookbook

3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup sour cream (I used low fat vanilla yogurt)
2 eggs
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange (I used to oranges. I like lots of orangey flavor)
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon (omitted the cinnamon)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 cup fresh/frozen cranberries, roughly chopped (I used dried cranberries)
Demerara sugar (about a tsp per muffin)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray muffin tins with baking spray or line with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine milk, orange juice, sour cream, eggs, and butter and whisk until well combined.  In another mixing bowl, add sugar and orange zest.  Use your fingers to rub orange zest into the sugar until distributed and fragrant.  Add in flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.  Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir just until incorporated.  Fold in the cranberries.

Spoon batter into prepared pans (I use an ice cream scoop to make it easier) and fill each muffin cup about 2/3 of the way full.  Sprinkle about one teaspoon of demerara sugar over the top of each muffin.  Bake about 20 - 25 minutes until the tops are golden brown and spring back lightly to the touch.  Cool in pans about 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.   

I can't decide whether I want to share too much info about my daughter but I had to post at least one pic to give you a peek...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Learning to love greens

I'm not a fan of green veggies. Not at all. In fact there are a few, spinach I'm talking to you, that actually make me gag. As a nursing mom, I know how important a balanced diet is, so I'm trying to love them. I find if I mix them into dishes and mask the flavor I have an easier time convincing myself that it tastes good; or convincing myself there isn't actually any green lurking in my food.
Smoothies are a lifesaver for me. I can toss all kinds of yucky veggies in the blender and so long as there is fruit, I'm good. I like frozen strawberries, kale, bananas, a little honey, yogurt and some orange juice.
What do you put in your smoothie?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Szechuan Chicken with Noodles

I must admit, I'm intimidated by my wok. It cooks everything so fast and at such a high heat that I'm always seconds from burning everything. But I suck it up and use it anyway, especially now since quick meals are a mom's best friend.
Szechuan Chicken with Noodles is another successful dish I found on Pinterest. The chicken crisps up nicely and it includes pine nuts (which we all know from my last post that I love). I didn't use whole wheat noodles since my husband swears they don't taste good. I can't tell the difference, can you?
Do you have a wok? Any great woky recipes?