Chocolate Part 2

March 25, 2010


I love chocolate.  Well, I actually love any dessert.  As far as desserts go, chocolate could be worse for you.  It’s healthy antioxidants, along with dark chocolate’s low sugar content, make it reasonable!  Cocoa powder is fat-free and packs a punch of flavor; it’s downright healthy!  Clearly I’m in the same school of thought as my friend M-; her health food is creme brulee.  How?  Well, there’s protein from the eggs and calcium from the cream!

However, these chocolate muffins are (relatively) healthy.  I was walking through the hallways of my school when an intense craving for a chocolate-chocolate muffin hit me.  Our school sells Sara Lee muffins which are huge, oily, and about 500 calories each.  Dunkin Donuts sells delicious ‘muffins,’ but in reality those baked goods are more like cake.  Instead, I pulled out flour, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips as soon as I got home and got to work.  A little tweaking resulted in a healthier muffin that was still chocolaty and indulgent.  What’s more, they have my brother’s stamp of approval, which is no small matter, I assure you.

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Hearty Oats

September 20, 2009

We have 3 giant tubs of oats in our cupboards right now.  Not that I mind.  I love having a surplus of ingredients, or something that needs to be used up.  Blackened bananas never worry me in the slightest; they simply mean I’ve got a great excuse to make banana bread.  The words, “We need to use up those peaches” are simply wonderful to hear!  Peach bread pudding here I come (wait for the recipe, it’ll be here soon!).  Anyways, having too many oats is not an issue, but rather, a terrific reason to make some granola and cookies.

Bananacookies

These banana cookies were good.  They have absolutely no added sugar, so for once, my dad can’t comment that they’re too sweet!  And yet, they still taste good.  Not fudge-brownie-with-oreo-buttercream-frosting kind of good, but more like I-just-worked-out-and-want-a-wholesome-snack kind of good.  I got my recipe from The Cutting Edge of Ordinary, and didn’t change much, except for adding raisins to a couple.  I’d make these again; they’re a tasty snack.

granolabowl

However, this granola exceeded tasty.  It was so good I had to cover it with a towel so I would stop snitching some every time I walked by the bowl.  We ate the entire batch in two days.  Actually, I should probably make another batch in the near future.  The recipe is courtesy of Cooking Light, and I didn’t change anything except for slightly reducing the sugar.  If you need an excuse to make this, go hiking, or for a bike ride, or bird-watching, or participate in some other sort of crunchy granola (um, pun very intended) activity.  Then you’ll need an energy boost right?  And where better to get that energy from than this granola?  Make it.

Morning Raspberry Muffins

August 26, 2009

uncookedmuffin

Along with baking, I really like to make breakfast.  However, once school starts, Sunday mornings are the only time I can ever do that, and usually even that doesn’t work because I’m too busy catching up on sleep!  So, in the last days before school starts, I’m trying to fit in my breakfast making. =]

We had 1 pint of raspberries from our farm share, and I knew if I wanted to make anything with them, it had better be made fast!  In my house, any fruit left out on the counter is gone in a couple of hours unless specifically claimed.  Actually the worst is grapes.  A whole bunch of grapes can be eaten in an hour.  My mom takes to hiding them in her room if she wants to save some…

Anyways, I wanted to use the raspberries, and what sounds better for a summery breakfast than raspberry lemon muffins?  These were delicious.  Because they weren’t sickeningly sweet, they were perfect for breakfast, and light enough to have two or three!  The only thing I would change would be to add more lemon if you really love a citrusy flavor.  They’re also relatively healthy, so you can start the day off well.  I strongly recommend trying these muffins.

cookedmuffin

Raspberry Lemon Muffins

adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup strawberry fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 heaping tablespoons raspberry jam (homemade by my dad!)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup egg-beaters
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries

For garnish:

  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 10 raspberries
  • powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a 12 cup muffin tin, or line with paper liners.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the yogurt, oil, jam, lemon juice, egg-substitute, and lemon extract. In a separate large bowl, stir together the flours, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until just blended. Batter will be thick.  Gently stir in the raspberries. Spoon batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups.
  3. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Cool muffins in the tin on a wire rack.
  4. Top muffins with powdered sugar and lemon zest, and garnish with raspberries.

Makes 12 muffins

Grandma’s Biscotti

August 16, 2009

biscotticlose

Every once in a while, my mom buys Nonni’s biscotti from BJ’s.  Any self-respecting baker will frown at what I’m about to say, but I love them.  I know they’re uber-processed and all, but they’re just so delicious.  The perfect cookie, that is too crunchy to eat without a cup of tea, but perfectly soft when dunked. I’ve been searching for a recipe that tastes like Nonni’s for a while now.

I have a pretty dependable one for almond biscotti from Allrecipes that I make a lot, but I was looking to use up some pumpkin, so I googled pumpkin biscotti instead.  Plus, I’ve been promising to send my grandma baked goods for a while, and not only does she love biscotti, but she also loves pumpkin.  She’ll eat it plain out of the can!

Package to be sent to Gram!

All ready to be sent to Gram!

These biscotti are really good (yeah, we snitched a few before sending them off to Gram).  I wish I had chocolate chips in the house to drizzle over them, but other than that, I have no regrets!  (Can you believe we had no chocolate chips?!  That’s a sad, sad thing…)  I finally figured out how to make biscotti as crunchy as I like them.  If you like a soft chewy cookie, just bake them for the time specified in the recipe.  But if you like them rock-hard, like my Grandma and I, turn off the oven after the specified cooking time and leave them in there as it cools and as you wash dishes.  This will dehydrate the cookies.  Just check them occasionally until they are as hard as you want them to be.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Walnut Biscotti

Adapted from CookingInanApron

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or combine 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp cloves)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (you could try any other type of nut as well)
Directions: Preheat oven to 350*F.  Preheat toaster oven to 350*F. Toast nuts in preheated toaster oven.  Stir occasionally and toast until browned.  In my oven this took 10-15 minutes, but it will probably vary.  You can also brown nuts in a saucepan with a little butter, or you can just throw them in untoasted.  Remove from toaster and let cool.
Combine flours, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl; stir well. In another bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs, and maple syrup, stirring well with a wire whisk.  Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. (Mixture will be very crumbly; it will gradually become moist after a lot of stirring.)
Knead or gently stir cooled nuts into dough. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and divide into 2 portions. Lightly flour hands and shape each portion into a 2 x 10″ long log. Place logs 3″ apart on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes; cool logs 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 F.
After cooling, cut logs diagonally into 1/2″ thick pieces. I find this easiest to do with a serrated knife. The interior of each biscotto will probably still be just a little moist (while the exterior should be hard and crunchy). Place the biscotti with a cut side facing up on a half sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pan and flip all the biscotti over so the other cut side is now facing up. Bake for another 8 minutes. Set all the pieces on a wire rack to cool making sure that none of the biscotti are touching each other. If the biscotti are placed too close together, they could get a little soft or soggy as they cool.  Alternatively, turn off oven and leave biscotti in the oven to get them extra-crunchy.
Once the biscotti have fully cooled, you can eat them right away (I don’t think I even waited for them to cool!) or dip or drizzle them with semi-sweet, dark, or white chocolate.  About 1/4 pound of chocolate is recommended for dipping a whole batch. The biscotti tastes best during the first few days, but will keep for up to a month in a sealed air-tight container.  During a humid summer, store in the fridge.
Makes 30-40
biscottitower

Very Organic Peaches

August 8, 2009

mmm

Out in our front yard we have two peach trees.  One is old and slowly falling apart.  Actually, last year a bear ripped off one of its branches!  The other one is a tiny little thing, but this year it’s really been impressive.  We’ve gotten a bunch of peaches from it. They’re not perfect, since we don’t spray the trees with anything.  After picking, all the little ants have to get washed off, and then I have to scour out which ones are ripe enough to use.  The green ones get to ripen on our counter for a few more days. Without pesticides these homegrown peaches aren’t beautiful or extremely photogenic, but they still taste delicious, and are ideal for baking (which, after all, is the most important thing, right?).

I found this recipe on passionateaboutbaking.com.  It seemed a perfect use of our peaches, and I also threw in a few of the wild blueberries from our yard.  Another great thing about this recipe is its low fat content.  The only added fat is what’s used to grease the pan.  Since my family eats more of what I make if it’s on the slightly healthier side, this is a plus!  If I’m going to make something like triple chocolate brownies I have to make sure my friends are willing to help me devour them.

I unfortunately didn’t have any candied ginger, so I subbed in freshly ground ginger.  This gave it a kick of spiciness that was delicious, but strong!  I would love to try the recipe with candied ginger sometime as well.  The dish itself is difficult to place. It’s not a cobbler, although it’s close to one.  The edges are cake-like, while the middle is juicy and fruity.  My makeshift name for it, since I baked it in a pie plate, is cobblerpie, but if you can come up with something better, I’m not offended!

I would recommend this recipe for anybody looking for a light summery dessert to use up their fruit.  Even my brother, who’s a picky eater, had two helpings.  Although we were running low on ice cream, I bet vanilla bean ice cream would only make this better!  This dish was also extremely quick and easy to make.  I’m sure it could also be adapted for any season; Apples instead of peaches, with some cinnamon added into the cake batter would make a delicious fall dish.


overview

Ginger Peach Blueberry Cobblerpie
Adapted from passionateaboutbaking.
Ingredients:
2-3 cups of peaches, halved, pits removed
1/4 cup blueberries
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp shredded or finely chopped fresh ginger
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk, plus 1 tablespoon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Garnish:
Whipped cream
Slivered almonds (optional)

Directions:

Generously grease a 10½-inch diameter ceramic pie plate with a 5-6 cup capacity, or 6-8 small shallow individual tart pans.  Any pan with a similar capacity will also work.

Halve the peaches, pit, & roughly chop for small tart pans, or quarter (bigger pieces for 1 large dish.) Put these in a big bowl with the blueberries, brown sugar, ginger, vanilla extract and lime juice. Gently combine the peaches with the other ingredients. Reserve.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, the 1/2 cup white sugar, and the baking powder. With a wooden spoon or whisk, beat in the milk & vanilla and almond extracts to produce a smooth batter. Don’t over beat. However, the batter should not have too many lumps either. Pour the batter into the center of the buttered dish. It will spread out on its own.

Place a spoonful of peaches, and some of their remaining liquid evenly over the batter, leaving a 1/4–inch open border of batter around the outside edges. For a single large gratin dish, place all the fruit on top of the batter, & leave a 3/4″ border. (this will allow the batter to rise dramatically at the edges).

Place on rack in upper third of preheated oven.  Set an edged baking sheet on the rack below to catch any overflow.

Bake for 40-45 minutes (a little less for smaller cakes), or until the sides are fully puffed, the center is slightly puffed, and the top is golden brown.

Remove from the oven to a wire rack to cook for 15 minutes before cutting / serving. To serve, sprinkle with almond slices and cut into wedges for 1 large pie, or as is for smaller cakes.  Top with whipped cream (or ice cream – yum!).

Serves 4-6