Thursday, September 25, 2008

Banana-Date Scones

I've made a lot of healthy muffins in the last year and I think I'm finally getting a bit sick of them. So I went for this healthier scone recipe. At first I wasn't sure whether I liked them, and what I thought of the copious amount of dates but then I grew to really really love them. I don't know how to describe their texture (and how does one describe the texture difference between a muffin - a real muffin not a cupcake muffin - and a scone? I know there's a difference I just can't seem to get the words out.) They had a nice "bite" to them is all I can think to say. They weren't dry but also weren't cakey and soft. In any case, they were delicious and I will be making them again and again. Though next time not with dates as I do not enjoy chopping very sticky dates (yes I could add oil to the knife but I don't want to use extra oil though I guess it wouldn't be that much). So next time I'll use raisins and I'm sure it will be yummy.

I want to find a really healthy scone recipe with no fat but I don't have a lot of experience with scones. Maybe I can use yogurt as a fat replacer? I'm not sure which ingredients are absolutely necessary so they don't become a crumbly mess. With muffins I usually replace the oil/butter with applesauce but I'm not so sure that would work with scones.

Other healthy baked goods:
Applesauce-Oat Bran Muffins
Chocolate Walnut Banana Bread
Mini Pear Loaves
Pumpkin Pecan Raisin Muffins

Banana-Date Scones
Adapted from Veganomicon

My changes were to use all whole wheat flour, a bit less salt, soy milk instead of rice milk and honey instead of brown rice syrup since I didn't have any (so use brown rice syrup for a vegan version). Next time I'll use raisins instead of dates.

8 ounces dates
1 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 cup mashed, very ripe banana
2 tbsp ground flaxseeds
1/3 cup soy milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey
2 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350F and prepare two baking sheets (with Silpats, parchment paper, or oil).

Finely chop the dates, place in a small bowl, and sprinkle with 1 tbsp flour. Toss the dates to thoroughly coat with the flour, breaking apart any clumps. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flaxseeds and milk. Whisk in the mashed banana, canola oil and honey. In a separate bowl, sift together the whole wheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir into the banana mixture until the ingredients are just moistened; the dough will be thick yet sticky. Fold in the chopped dates and walnuts.

Use a 1/2 cup measuring cup or cookie scoop and scoop generous half-cupfuls of dough onto a baking sheet, leaving about 3 inches of space between the scones. Gently pat down the tops of the scones. Bake for 32 to 34 minutes until browned and firm. Transfer from the baking sheets to a cooling rack to completely cooling.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Chocolate Pudding

In an effort to make this picture more exciting, I included my lovely cat gargoyle.

Usually I try to have a balance of things in my blog - unhealthy delicious baked goods, healthy baked goods, meals and the occasional dip or something. But recently all I seem to be posting about is baked goods! Not because I eat cookies and pudding for dinner but because my dinners haven't been that exciting and worth posting about. But no one can deny the excitement of baked goods, right?

Actually I'm not a huge pudding fan but my boyfriend is so I made this for him and he quite loved it. I've also made Dorie's chocolate pots de creme, and I think I prefer those. I'm not sure why I prefer it though - maybe because it's more custard like or something. I think there's a fine line between pots de creme and pudding. But both are delicious. And though this chocolate pudding recipe was very smooth and chocolatey, I will look for another recipe that's less of a pain to make and doesn't involve a food processor. Though I guess I could just make this recipe and omit the food processor.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Intense Chocolate Fudge Cookies
Coconut Cream Pie
Raspberry and White Chocolate Pie
Chocolate Cookie Bark

Chocolate Pudding
Adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours

2 1/4 cups whole milk
6 tbsp sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped, melted and still warm
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla

Have six ramekins or pudding cups, each holding 4 to 6 ounces (1/2 to 3/4 cup) at hand.

Bring 2 cups of the milk and 3 tablespoons of sugar to a boil in a medium pot.

While the milk is heating, put the cocoa, cornstarch and salt into a food processor and whir to blend. Dump it into a bowl. Put the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, the egg and egg yolks into the processor and blend for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the remaining 1/4 cup milk and pulse just to mix, then add the dry ingredients and pulse a few times to blend.

With the machine running, very slowly pour in the hot milk mixture. Process for a few seconds, then put everything back into the saucepan. Whisk without stopping over medium heat - making sure to get the edges of the pan - until the pudding thickens and a couple of bubbles burble up to the surface and pop (about 2 minutes but it might be shorter - take it off when it starts to seem thick). Lower the heat if necessary to prevent boiling.

Scrape the pudding back into the processor (if there's a scorched spot, avoid it as you scrape) and pulse a couple of times. Add the chocolate, butter and vanilla and pulse until everything is blended.

Pour the pudding into the ramekins. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sunny Jungle Bars

I'm in my third week of classes now. Last week we were learning about salmon and had to gut and can them. Thankfully I didn't have to do the gutting. Now that I'm back in school I'm recalling the great lack of time for food blogging. I do love being part of the food blog world but if I only have a bit of free time I'd rather spend it baking (as I'm sure most/all of you would, well for some of you it's cooking). But hopefully I will still be around often enough and won't miss out on too many yummy things on people's blogs. I found some amazing looking easy cinnamon bun bread on Baking Bites this morning - must make that soon.

Alright onto the food! As with many other things, I've wanted to make granola bars for a long time. And I've also wanted the Nurture cookbook for a long time. These granola bars are more effort than others I'm sure, as they involve making a fruit pulp that you spread in the middle of two granola layers. But they are delicious, if a bit soft and crumbly. Mind you I reduced the oil so maybe that's why. I've been keeping them in the freezer and just eating them directly from there. This recipe can be played with a lot, using different combinations of fruit, nuts, seeds, nut butters and natural sweeteners. I wonder what it would be like if I just mixed it all together instead of making a separate fruit pulp layer hmm.

Other healthy snacks:
Mini Pear Loaves
Pomegranate Smoothie
Applesauce-Oat Bran Muffins
Chocolate Walnut Banana Bread

Sunny Jungle Bars
Adapted from Recipes to Nurture

1 cup pitted dates, finely chopped
1 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp apple juice
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup flaxseed, ground
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F and line a 9x9 (or 8x8) baking pan.

Place the dates, apricots and apple juice in a saucepan and bring a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Uncover and mix well with a spoon to form a pulp.

Meanwhile, in a food processor combine walnuts and pumpkin seeds. Pulse into a "meal" (very finely chopped) but not so far it becomes a butter. Add rolled oats, sunflower seeds, ground flax seeds and sea salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Add this mixture to the oat mixture and stir to combine. Press half the oat mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread the fruit pulp evenly over top, then finish with the remaining oat mixture. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25 minutes.

Allow to cool in the tin on a rack before slicing into squares.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Quintuple Chocolate Brownies

I've been wanting to make these brownies for quite some time and was definitely happy with how they turned out. Some people thought they were pretty sweet, especially with the white chocolate glaze/ganache on top. As for me, maybe I've been eating too many baked goods because they tasted just right! These brownies are, as Dorie says, more fudgy than cakey. To me they were kind of like a cookies and cream brownie due to the white chocolate on top. For those of you that don't like white chocolate (blasphemy!) you could omit the glaze or do a dark chocolate glaze instead. Actually that sounds really good - I should try a dark chocolate glaze next time.

Even though I left Tuesdays with Dorie, I still want to make every recipe in Dorie's Baking cookbook. Whenever I want to bake, it's the first book I'm drawn to. I tell myself that I should try recipes from other cookbooks but it's so hard to resist all the gorgeous looking and delicious sounding recipes in her book! So I've been giving in a lot recently.

Other delicious chocolate things:
Chocolate Fudge Souffle Bars
Chocolate Cinnamon Cake
Dulce de Leche Brownies
French Chocolate Brownies

Quintuple Chocolate Brownies
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours

My note: It's really important that you try and spread the batter as evenly as possible because it doesn't naturally smooth out during baking. Of course the brownies will still be delicious but you won't get as even of a distribution of white chocolate glaze on top. My slight modification was to use only 1/2 cup of walnuts.

For the Brownies
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons strong coffee
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces premium-quality milk chocolate, chopped into chips, or 1 cup store-bought milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts

For the Glaze
6 ounces premium-quality white chocolate, finely chopped, or 1 cup store-bought white chocolate chips
1/3 heavy cream

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil and place the pan on a baking sheet.

Sift together the flour, cocoa and salt.

To Make the Brownies: Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add, in the following order, the butter, the two chocolates and the coffee. Keeping the pan over low heat, warm just until the butter and the chocolates are melted– you don’t want the ingredients to separate, so keep an eye on the bowl. Stir gently, and when the mixture is smooth, set it aside for 5 minutes.

Using a whisk or a rubber spatula, beat the sugar into the chocolate mixture. Don’t beat too vigorously– you don’t want to add air to the batter– and don’t be concerned about any graininess. Next, stir the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla. You should have a smooth, glossy batter. If your not already using a rubber spatula, switch to one now and gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. Finally, stir in the milk chocolate chips and nuts. Scrape the batter into the pan.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until a think knife inserted into the center comes out streaked but not thickly coated. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the brownies rest undisturbed for at least 30 minutes. (You can wait longer if you’d like.)

Turn the brownies out onto a rack, peel away the foil and place it under another rack–it will be the drip catcher for the glaze. Invert the brownies onto the rack and let cool completely.

To Make the Glaze: Put the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a boil and pour it over the chocolate. Wait 30 seconds, then, using a rubber spatula, gently stir until the chocolate is melted.and the glaze is smooth.

Hold a long metal icing spatula in one hand the bowl of glaze in the other. Pour the glaze onto the center of the brownies and use the spatula to nudge it evenly over the surface. Don’t worry if it dribbles over the edges, you can trim the sides later (or not). Refrigerate the brownies for about 20 minutes to dry the glaze.

Cut into 16 squares, each roughly 2 1/4 inches on a side.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

About a month ago I moved and so I obviously didn't have much time to bake for a few weeks. Well I definitely made up for that near the end of August - I went on a bit of a baking frenzy, and this cinnamon raisin loaf was what started it off. I made a couple of healthy things, obviously this loaf, way too many cookies, delicious brownies, and a cake. I wish I could bake that often all the time, though it would be really hard to resist eating all the fresh baked goods! Anyway, so I found this loaf when I was flipping through Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook which I haven't baked anything from in a while.

I've now made this loaf two times but that's because the first time I made it, the top browned too quickly (and I forgot to let it rise one of the three times) and I didn't have any aluminum foil to tent it with. With that loaf, I scooped out the uncooked middle and baked that by itself so I was left with something resembling monkey bread and the shell of the cinnamon raisin bread. It was delicious though! But I had to make it again and see it turn out right. I might actually prefer the first time I made it becaused it seemed more gooey.

This bread is actually more like a cinnamon roll loaf (so you can imagine how much I loved it). The second time I made it it rose like crazy, especially when it was baking, so I would highly recommend putting a baking sheet underneath it otherwise you'll end up with a nice big pool of caramelized sugar stuck on the bottom of your oven. And you MUST resist cutting a slice until it is completely cool unless you want a big oozy pile of cinnamon sugar (which might sound good but it means the rest of the loaf will lose it). And looking at the pictures now I see that I need to work on rolling things tightly so I can get a more even swirl throughout the bread. At least I figure that's what I need to do to make it better?

Aside from the delicious cinnamon sugar swirl in the loaf, the bread itself is just perfect. It's a dense slightly chewy loaf (similar to brioche but with less butter). So what's better - cinnamon rolls or this cinnamon loaf? Well as delicious as this loaf is, cinnamon rolls have to win. But really, what can beat cinnamon rolls?? On the plus side, with this loaf you can get that cinnamon roll vibe with a lot less effort. I know I'll be making this again. I think it'd be the perfect thing for a big family breakfast or lazy weekend brunch.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Candied Maple Walnut Pancake Loaf
Pumpkin Loaf
Pecan Honey Sticky Buns
bill's Coconut Bread

Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

Whenever I see someone post a recipe and it says "modified/adapted from" I always am curious to see the original recipe so from now on I'm going to mention what I changed. In this recipe I added the cinnamon directly to the dough with the flour, rather than kneading it in with the raisins. And I didn't use an extra egg to brush the top of the dough or the inside of the dough before sprinkling with the filling. I also halved the recipe (and have written it out as such) but of course just double what I wrote to make 2 loaves.

Makes one 9x5 inch loaf.

For the dough:
1 1/8 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup warm milk (about 110F)
1 lb 1 oz (about 3 1/4 cups) all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces, plus more for pan
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon

For the filling:
3/4 cups sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp water

Make the dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk; whisk to combine. Add the flour, butter, sugar, cinnamon, egg and salt. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed until all the ingredients are well combined, about 3 minutes. Raise the speed to medium-low, and continue to mix until the dough is uniformly smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes more.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat out dough into a 9 inch round, about 1 1/4 inches thick. Sprinkle with raisins and knead unitl they are just incorporated. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with a tea towel; let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Return the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and pat into a round. Fold in the following manner: Fold the bottom third of the dough up, the top third down, and the right and left sides over, tapping hte dough after each fold to release excess flour, and pressing down to seal. Return the dough to the bowl, seam side down, and let rise again until doubled in bulk, about 40 minutes.

Make the filling: Combine sugar and cinnamon with water in a small bowl. Return the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out to a 12 by 10 inch rectangle and sprinkle with the filling.

Generously butter a 9x5 inch loaf pan; set aside. With a short end of the rectangle facing you, fold in both long sides of the dough, about 1 inch. Then roll the dough toward you, gently pressing as you go to form a tight log. Gently roll the log back and forth to seal the seam. Place the loaf in a prepared pan, seam side down. Cover pan loosely with a tea towel, and let rest in a warm place until dough rises just above the rim of the pan, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425F.

Transfer pan to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until loaf is golden brown, about 45 minutes. (If the tops begin to brown too qucikly, tent with aluminum foil.) Turn out the bread onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. The bread can be kept at room temperature up to 4 days, in a tightly sealed container.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Carrot Cake Oatmeal

I have always hated oatmeal. Hot mushy stuff? Gross. But for some reason when I saw it on Veggie Delights who adapted it from La Belle Vegan who (yes this is coming to an end) adapted it from Kath Eats, I was intrigued. So one night for dinner this is what I made. Have I changed my mind about oatmeal? Maybe slightly, since it was quite filling and is of course healthy. But for me the first few bites were exciting, and then it went back to that hot mushy stuff. Nevertheless, it's a really fun oatmeal recipe that I'm sure many other people would love.

Other healthy breakfasts:
Mini Pear Loaves
No Fail Granola
Applesauce Oat Bran Muffins
Banana Bran Muffins

Carrot Cake Oatmeal
Adapted from Kath Eats

Serves 1

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup of grated carrot (I think this might've been 1 carrot?)
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tbsp nonfat plain yogurt
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tbsp chopped pecans
1 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut

Combine the rolled oats, soy milk, water, carrots and salt in a saucepan. Turn heat to medium and stir occasionally until mixture comes almost to a boil and most of the liquid is absorbed, which takes about 5-7 minutes. When oats are done, stir in vanilla and brown sugar.

While oats are cooking make "icing" by blending 2 tbsp of non-fat plain yogurt with 1 tsp maple syrup. Toast pecans in the toaster oven for a few minuteS (watch carefully).

Pour oats into a bowl and top with coconut, pecans and icing.