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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Chocolate Part 1

March 25, 2010

I’ve been really bad about posting entries lately.  Daring Bakers has been the only thing forcing me to post, and I’m not even doing that this month!  There just wasn’t time; I can’t do anything extensive during the week and all the weekends in March just filled up.  I think it’s time for me to accept that my blog will never be a Smitten Kitchen, Closet Cooking, or 17 and Baking, and that’s okay.  I need to use this blog as a way to document my recipes and experiments for myself, and if that helps anyone else out or inspires them, then that’s great!

I’m thinking that perhaps next year I’ll be a bit more consistent.  I’ll have graduated and be completely free from english essays.  In fact, this blog may be a good incentive to continue writing!  We’ll see if I even have time (or materials, or money!) to bake and cook.  I’ll be away from home, without a mixer, food processor, or even baking pans.  It will definitely be an adventure.

So, clearly, I have to fit in all the baking I can until then!  (Even if it means putting off my calculus homework for a night…)

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All Things Fall

November 11, 2009

vibrantcolor

As fall comes around, I start to get really excited about the apples and pumpkin just waiting to be baked.  I dream of pumpkin pies, apple crisps, and other classic desserts.  I also start school, which makes it very difficult to transform any of these dreams into reality.  I went apple picking a total of zero times this fall, and didn’t even have time to carve a pumpkin.

swirl2 swirl1

However, I have diligently squeezed in time to make a few fall-themed goodies.  I am a pumpkin lover (we have about 4 giant cans in our pantry right now), so I will add pumpkin to everything!  My first experiment was chocolate pumpkin cream cheese swirl muffins.  Whew, that’s a mouthful.  I actually made these low-fat, and was not one-hundred percent happy with the texture.  They were a tiny bit dry.  I think adding more pumpkin (or more fat, if you want to) would easily solve this.  The taste, on the other hand, was delicious, and they looked so pretty!

pumpkinbutter

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Puff

September 29, 2009

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puffpastrystrawberry

It’s hard to find time to bake when school is in session.  Or to do anything else for that matter.  I have a couple of blog entries that I want to put up, and I haven’t gotten to any of them.  Actually, right now I should be tackling the mountain of homework I have.  Shhh, don’t tell…

Anyways, I carved out an entire Sunday to tackle my first Daring Baker’s challenge: puff pastry vols-au-vent.  The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

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Chocolate Pretzel Cookies

September 2, 2009

chocolatepretzelspread2

My family was going to our friends’ house for dinner, so I got the task of making dessert.  My favorite task!  I love having an occasion to bake, because that means what I make is much more likely to be eaten.  When you’re in a house full of healthy eaters and you decide to make cookies on a Wednesday night, they unfortunately go to waste.  However, nobody had any problem eating these.  We all loved them.  They tasted delicious and looked beautiful!

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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