Monday, January 30, 2017

Peanut Butter Banana Pupcakes (grain-free, cakes for dogs)

This weekend our boxer-shepherd mix, Doyle, turned 2. He has had some food sensitivities so I went looking for a recipe that would be easier, and landed on this one because it uses coconut flour. (I can't tell you how many times I saw a recipe that said "If your dog has a wheat allergy, use whole wheat!" Um NO that is still wheat!) Doyle and Winnie both liked these but I found it better if I broke them up into pieces before giving them to the dogs.

Peanut Butter Banana Pupcakes
(as seen on Mother Nature Network)

Yield: 12 cupcakes (Jenny's note: I made a half batch so ended up with 6)

For the cupcakes, followed by frosting ingredients that start with cream cheese
  • 1 cup unsalted, unsweetened peanut butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup unsalted, unsweetened peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
Cooking directions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin, or two 6-cup muffin tins, or line with paper muffin cups.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the peanut butter, eggs, bananas, and cottage cheese. Stir until well-combined. Add in the coconut flour and baking soda and stir until combined.
  4. Fill each muffin cup to about 3/4 full with the batter.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown on top. While these are baking, begin making the frosting.
  6. In a small bowl combine the cream cheese, peanut butter and oil, and use a fork or a hand-mixer to cream together until smooth.
  7. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to harden up again while the cupcakes finish baking.
  8. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
  9. Ice the cooled cupcakes with the frosting mixture and serve!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Armenian Nazook

Back in 2012, when I was still baking along with the Daring Bakers challenges, I made an Armenian Nutmeg cake. The other option for that month was the nazook, an Armenian filled pastry. When my book club read Skylark Farm by Antonia Arslan, about the Armenian genocide, I intended to bake nazook for that gathering. But then I was somehow out of flour, and it snowed, and, yeah, that didn't happen.

But nazook remained in my head! And so eventually, I made it. The recipe comes from that month's host's aunt Aida, who you can see baking nazook on YouTube. I actually came across that recipe when searching for anything Armenian, before I made the connection back to the Daring Bakers original post!

I made the recipe as described, except I made a few filling variations. I used the butter-sugar-flour-vanilla filling in all of them, but 1/4 I made with that plus diced dried apricots, and half the dough I mixed finely chopped hazelnuts with the filling.

My dough was pretty dry... I think I should have followed my instincts and pulled it when it seemed to come together and not machine knead it the entire ten minutes. When will I learn? But these are still pretty decent despite an overworked dough, because the ratio of filling to dough is high. This is not a difficult recipe at all, and I can imagine many more filling variations!


Yields 40 pieces
Video instructions by Jason's aunt Aida
Illustrated directions at the Daring Bakers website

Pastry dough
  • 3 cups (720 ml) (420 gm/15 oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
  • 2½ teaspoons (12½ ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) (1 packet) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) sour cream
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) (240 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) softened butter (room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) (210 gm) (7½ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) (340 gm/12 oz) sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1½ sticks) (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) softened butter (room temperature)
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1-2 egg yolks (for the wash; alternatively, some yogurt, egg whites, or a whole egg)
Make the Pastry Dough
1. Place the sifted flour into a large bowl.
2. Add the dry yeast, and mix it in.
3. Add the sour cream, and the softened butter.
4. Use your hands, or a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, to work it into a dough.
5. If using a standing mixer, switch to a dough hook. If making manually, continue to knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl or your hands. If it remains very sticky, add some flour, a little at a time.
6. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 3-5 hours, or overnight if you like.

Make the filling
7. Mix the flour, sugar, and the softened butter in a medium bowl.
8. Add the vanilla extract.
9. Mix the filling until it looks like clumpy, damp sand. It should not take long. Set aside.

Make the nazook
10. Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F/175°C/gas mark 4.
11. Cut the refrigerated dough into quarters.
12. Form one of the quarters into a ball. Dust your working surface with a little flour.
13. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle or oval. The dough should be thin, but not
14. Spread 1/4 of the filling mixture across the rolled-out dough in an even layer. Try to spread the filling as close as possible to the edges on the short sides, but keep some of pastry dough uncovered (1 inch/2.5 cm) along the long edges.
15. From one of the long sides, start slowly rolling the dough across. Be careful to make sure the filling stays evenly distributed. Roll all the way across until you have a long, thin loaf.
16. Pat down the loaf with your palm and fingers so that it flattens out a bit (just a bit).
17. Apply your egg yolk wash with a pastry brush.
18. Use your crinkle cutter (or knife) to cut the loaf into 10 equally-sized pieces. Put onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
19. Place in a preheated moderate oven for about 30 minutes, until the tops are a rich, golden brown.
20. Allow to cool and enjoy!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Double Chocolate Almond Flour Brownies (gluten-free, grain-free)

This is a modified version of the recipe on the back of the gigantic bag of almond flour that I bought at Costco. It specifies 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup granulated sugar, semisweet chocolate, and walnuts. I also used Stevia-sweetened chocolate chips. With a few more changes these could easily be made paleo-friendly as well, but we like our butter and chocolate chips.

Double Chocolate Almond Flour Brownies

4 oz bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick or 8 tbsp) butter, unsalted
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups almond flour
2/3 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (we used hazelnuts)

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate and butter. Stir in sugar and vanilla and take off heat and cool (5-10 minutes is fine.) Beat in each egg, then stir in the almond flour, chocolate chips, and nuts. Spread into a parchment paper lined 8x8 pan. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Hot Chocolate Marathon

I initially started out with the grand idea (not necessarily a new idea) to have 12 Days of Hot Chocolate in December. That turned out to be a crazy amount of sweetness so we went for every other day instead. Sometimes I post pictures to post with books I'm reading, so many of these are not solo hot chocolate pictures.

You can see the other recipes I was considering over on Pinterest, as well as some of the hot chocolate additions that are fun like Polar Bear marshmallows and frozen whipped cream shapes. One hot chocolate I really meant to make but never got around to is gingerbread hot chocolate, but once Christmas is over it just does not feel like gingerbread season anymore (says the baker who posted a gingerbread scone recipe in January.)

Icelandic Hot Chocolate

Considering my cold weather island obsession, it is not surprising that I would start with a self-declared recipe for Icelandic hot chocolate. The blogger had been to Iceland and discovered that they added a little bit of salt, and the recipe I'll link to is her interpretation of what she consumed gallons of while in that country. For our tastes, I added quite a bit more sugar and chocolate, so what is pictured (with chocolate sprinkles) is not exactly the recipe. It was our first night of hot chocolate, and we were hoping for richness.
Recipe: Icelandic Hot Chocolate

Orange Cardamom Hot Chocolate
This was hands-down our favorite hot chocolate. It was a surprising lead for multiple reasons - neither my husband nor I are big fans of white chocolate, and the green cardamom held potential to taste more like chai. Instead, this was sweet but not too sweet, fresh because of the orange, nuanced with the cardamom, and I ended up sad I only made a half batch, just enough to taste.

The recipe comes from a chart I randomly found in Pinterest that doesn't seem to link anywhere externally, although surely it originates from somewhere. I will copy the ingredients here so you can try it. Most of these hot chocolates, I just whisk together over medium-low heat until they are steamy but not boiling.

4 oz. white chocolate
2 cups milk
3-4 green cardamom pods, crushed
1 2-inch strip orange zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

The recipe actually instructs you to put the chocolate in a bowl, heat the other ingredients and strain into the hot chocolate, stirring until it is melted and smooth.

"Local" Hot Chocolate

Not so much a recipe as a bunch of local food producers' products - Happy Cow Creamery whole milk (delicious), Xocolatl Peppermint Drinking Chocolate, and Malvi Mallow Peppermint Marshmallow. Drink Local!

London Fog Hot Chocolate
I was reading a book set in London, and had been intrigued by this recipe, so I made this during one of the days I had off by myself. It seemed possibly too strange to be good, but I really liked it. If you don't know, a London Fog is an Earl Grey tea latte, often with vanilla flavoring too for some sweetness. I go through phases where I make tea lattes for myself, probably starting soon!  This was the richest of the recipes I made. First you steep earl grey in a mixture of milk and cream; I used my own Reading Envy tea blend because it has earl grey but also some black tea. Then you mix in some bittersweet chocolate. There is maple syrup in there too, although I didn't make the maple whipped cream that goes on top in the recipe. This is a great one for a blustery day or night and I will likely make it again.
Recipe: London Fog Hot Chocolate

Monday, January 02, 2017

Gingerbread Scones

We have a tradition in my household that we have "afternoon tea" as our primary meal on Christmas. It consists of any number of snacky type foods, sweets, savories, and usually a scone. This year I was looking at gingerbread scone recipes when my husband asked if we could have a gingerbread scone. Great minds! This was a good recipe, smelled delicious, just make sure not to overbake (I did a bit.)


Gingerbread Scones
(as seen on Serious Eats) 

For Scones:
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 large egg, separated, divided
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 5 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar (or sugar in the raw)
Optional Icing:
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 375°F. Line baking sheet with parchment. Whisk flour, brown sugar, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and cloves in a large bowl to combine.
  2. Using pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture is fine and no pieces of butter remain. Add egg yolk, molasses, and milk to the bowl and then stir to form a thick dough (use hands if necessary to squeeze into a dough).
  3. Transfer dough to work surface and knead slightly to finish combining all of the ingredients. Roll into a 6-inch disc. Cut into 8 wedges and place on pan, spacing about 2 inches apart. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
  4. Bake until set, 17 to 19 minutes. Let cool on pan 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely before drizzling with icing.
  5. To make icing: Stir sugar with milk until smooth. If too runny to hold it's shape when drizzled, add a small amount of sugar to thicken. Using a pastry bag fitted with a small tip, or a spoon, drizzle icing over cooled scones. Let set in a cool dry space, about 30 minutes.