Tag Archives: easy

Chocolate Chip Hazelenut Biscotti

Biscotti, how I love thee!

Ok, I know, I’ve been out of commission for what, six weeks now? I have lots of good reasons, and probably a few that aren’t so great. First, I’m taking a couple of online writing classes, which is the biggest reason I’m not blogging since I’m busy writing for a grade. Second, everything that can break seems to have broken, including my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer (insert tears here).  That will be a separate post.

In the meantime…I’m making bread by hand and making other doughs with my hand mixer (also a Kitchen Aid…). Biscotti was perfect for the hand mixer, other than me being annoyed at having to stand there holding it. Yeah, I know, I’ve gotten lazy with my big, (sort of) powerful stand mixer. I have to actually pay close attention now! Can you imagine? Hmph.

This is an easy recipe and is actually the same as the Cinnamon Hazelnut Biscotti, but I took out the cinnamon and added espresso and hazelnuts. I originally had espresso in the title but that was bordering on obnoxiously long. And you could really use this recipe as a base for whatever you wanted. And for me, biscotti really hits the spot first thing in the morning when you are sitting down for coffee after a good workout or yard work. It’s a great way to start your day.

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Biscotti

adapted from Bon Appetit Desserts

  • 3 cups unbleached AP Flour
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I prefer sea salt)
  • 2 tsp espresso powder (optional, but adds a nice touch)
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and husked*
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, somewhere in between room temperature and cold.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

*To husk the hazelnuts: spread in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake in oven at 350F for about 10 minutes until very fragrant. Cover with a towel. Cool slightly and then rub together.   The skins will come off fairly easily.  Don’t fret if you don’t get all the skins. A little won’t hurt.

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare two baking sheets with either silpat or parchment. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

2. Chop hazelnuts in food processor until slightly chunky. How chunky depends on your preference.

3. Place butter, sugar, vanilla, and zest in stand mixer and mix until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl after each addition. Add flour mixture. When flour is almost completely mixed, fold in the chopped hazelnuts and chocolate chips.

4. Divide the dough in half and place on prepared sheet pans. Flatten dough into an even rectangle. If you want to cut them diagnol, keep it narrow and long. If you want to cut just straight, make it wider. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden on the edges. Remove from oven (but keep oven on),  let cool slightly and carefully move to a cutting board. Slice slightly on the diagonal. Return pieces to the sheet pan. Bake about 10 minutes. Flip pieces, bake 10 minutes more, or until desired crispiness. Careful that they don’t burn, but also make sure they are golden enough to be crunchy. Make coffee, and enjoy!

 

 

 

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Mini King Cakes

Today is Mardi Gras. A splurge day before you must behave until Easter. Or something like that.

Mardi Gras has a rich history, particularly in New Orleans. I have been to New Orleans, pre-Katrina, but I was there during the off season and it was still crazy. Did you know that Mardi Gras originated in Mobile, AL? I’d always assumed New Orleans!

I’d never had a King Cake before, but essentially it is brioche (the “cake”) and gold, green, and purple sprinkles. Williams-Sonoma did a fun blog post on King Cakes describing the sugars as “…purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.” Those are some seriously loaded sugars.  Newer versions of King Cake include various fillings, such as cream cheese and praline. And in true Alabama fashion, their version of the King Cake is deep fried. I would expect nothing less.

I’m sure you’ve heard of hiding a prize inside the King Cake. In past years it would be jewels (the wealthy), beans (the poor), almonds, and in most recent years…a plastic baby. The plastic baby really creeps me out for some reason. I mean, it’s a piece of plastic in your cake! I just find that odd, so I omitted that part. Forgive me. But the main point of the prize is that whoever gets the prize is in charge of bringing the King Cake next year. I don’t mind making them again. They were easy and very tasty.

I found my recipe from King Arthur Flour but you could really use any brioche recipe, add some lemon and nutmeg, glaze it, sprinkle some sugars and voila! King Cakes! This brioche recipe is a little bit “cak-i-er” and less “bread-i-er” than other brioche and it was fast and easy to make. Less than four hours including bake and rising time! Can’t beat that.

If you don’t have gold, green, and purple sugars, make your own. Just add a little food coloring to your sugar. Easy. I had gel food colors so I put a dab on a toothpick, spritzed with water, and added to the sugar. It doesn’t take much at all.

Mini King Cakes

Yield: 10 to 12 mini King Cakes

Time: about 4 hours, including baking and rising

Difficulty: Easy

One Year Ago: Chocolate Souffle

Recipe from King Arthur Flour

Dough

  • 1/2 cup (8 TB) butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm milk
  • 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, white reserved
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dry milk
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 3 1/2 cups AP Flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast

Icing

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla or lemon extract (I used Fiori di Sicilia, but careful – a little goes a long way)
  • 1 TB + ½ to 1 tsp milk, enough to make a thick but pourable glaze

Topping

  • yellow, purple, and green sparkling sugars

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients for dough into mixer. Mix with dough hook for 5 minutes on speed 1 until dough comes together. Increase to speed 3 until dough forms a smooth ball. You may need to sprinkle more flour into the dough. I had to add about an extra 1/2 cup because the dough was just too soft. It should be soft and slightly sticky, but still have some shape. If it is just a sloppy mess, you will have a hard time with it. Sprinkle one teaspoon at a time and let mix completely before adding more. This step may take 15 minutes total.

2. Let dough rise, covered, for about one hour in a warm place, like your oven with the light on (but oven turned off!). See before and after rising:

3. Scale into 12 equal pieces (I did 10 since I only have 10 brioche pans). Shape into rolls. This will be very easy to do since the dough is easy to work with. Place into greased muffin tins or brioche pans.

4. Let rise for another hour (but not in your oven this time) covered loosely with a towel. While the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 350F.

5. After rising, combine the reserved egg with  about a tablespoon of water, mix thoroughly, and brush on the cakes. Bake the cakes for 35 to 45 minutes, tenting if they brown too fast. Check the temperature about the 30 minute mark. It should read at least 180F  when they are ready.

6. To make the glaze, just combine all the glaze ingredients together, adding more milk if needed. After the cakes have cooled, dip in the glaze and sprinkle with sugars. Eat!

Check out more bread recipes at Wild Yeast.

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Love and Whoopie….Pies

Red velvet whoopie pies with a raspberry marshmallow center. Does that say Valentine’s Day or what? I finally decided to jump on the Valentine’s Day band wagon and make something with red velvet.  It is one of my favorite cakes, after all, and I’ve had red velvet on my To Bake list for, oh, a year maybe?

And at this point I am retyping my entire post, minus the paragraph above, since WordPress was so kind to crash and not register my last save! Don’t you just hate it when technology doesn’t do exactly what you want it to do?

There, just saved. Still good.

I think I said something along the lines of every day is special, no need to just use Valentine’s Day as an excuse, and yada yada yada. Maybe I was being too mushy and WordPress decided to intervene? Well, hmph.

And just saved again. Still good.

These are really tasty “cookies” with an identity crisis (I mean, they are essentially small cakes, with pie in the name, and we consider them cookies?). Chocolatey, cakey, and yummy. What more could you ask for in a cookie? Oh, that they are easy? Done. (Save).

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies modified from Epicurious

Yield: about 2 dozen

Time: about 1 hour, including bake time

Difficulty: Easy

One Year Ago: Granola Bars

Cookie (Cake)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup  unsweetened (natural) cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 (1-ounce) bottle red food coloring (2 tablespoons) OR 1 tsp gel food coloring dissolved in 2 TB water
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Sift your cocoa powder, then whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
2. Beat butter, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until combined well and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in egg, scrape the bowl, and then the vinegar.
3. Reduce speed to low and alternately mix in flour and buttermilk in batches, beginning and ending with the flour until combined.
4. Add the red food coloring and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined.
5. Spoon 1 tablespoon mounds of batter 2-inches apart on lined baking sheets.
6. Bake, switching positions of baking sheets halfway through baking, until rounds are puffed and set (check with a toothpick), 8 to 10 minutes.
7.  Spread about 1 tablespoon of icing (two choices below) on flat-side of half the rounds; top with remaining rounds, flat side down, to form whoopie pies.

Marshmallow Icing from Smitten Kitchen

This is the one I used. No refrigeration needed. Made a lot, so you could cut the recipe in half.

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract OR chambord
  • pinch of salt

Combine icing ingredients in a metal or glass bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and beat with a handheld electric mixer at high speed until frosting is thick and fluffy, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and continue to beat until slightly cooled. Add food coloring if desired. Use frosting the day it is made. It will still be good the next day, just won’t be as fluffy.

Cream Cheese Icing from Epicurious

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Beat together cream cheese, butter, lemon juice, vanilla, salt, and sugar until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes.

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Day 11 of Baker’s Dozen: Sugared Cranberries

Only a few more days till Christmas! I hope you are all enjoying the season and aren’t getting too frazzled by last minute shopping and baking. If you are, this is the easiest holiday treat yet! Takes about 10 minutes hands on time. Can’t beat that right?

This is the first year I’ve seen sugared cranberries, but I can tell you that I will be making them every year now! They are so pretty and really tasty. Tangy and sweet with a burst in your mouth.

From my research I found the original recipe came from Cooking Light, but you can adjust this recipe to your liking and it is very easy to make more or less. Just follow the 1:1:1 ratio and add whatever additional spices you have! I made two cups, so I used 2 cups water, 2 cups sugar, and 2 cups cranberries. I also added a cinnamon stick and a vanilla bean for extra spice. But you can omit the extras or add different extras. Totally up to you! I love recipes like this.

These will make great holiday gifts and/or a great addition to your holiday spread with very effort. Enjoy!

Sugared Cranberries

Adapted from Cooking Light

Yield: 2 cups

Difficulty: Very easy!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries or frozen, thawed
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • 1 vanilla bean (optional)
  • 1/3 cup additional sugar for coating

Directions

1. In a sauce pan dissolve the water and sugar to make a simple syrup over medium low heat. Add spices if using. Let syrup cool.

2. Rinse cranberries and place in bowl. Once syrup is cool (if it is too warm the cranberries may burst) pour over cranberries. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

3. The next day, strain the cranberries. You can reserve the simple syrup for another use, like using in coffee or tea. (Or putting on a sponge cake!). Place a tablespoon of sugar at a time in a bowl and a few cranberries. Toss to coat and place on sheet pan to dry. Repeat the process until all cranberries are coated. You can sprinkle more sugar over the cranberries if it looks like they need more. Let dry a couple of hours and then store in an airtight container.

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Day 6 of Baker’s Dozen: Candy Cane Bark.

Candy cane bark is everywhere these days, but, amazingly, I just had it for the first time last year. And of course, I love it. I love chocolate and I love candy canes. And this treat just screams “Happy Holidays!” don’t you think?

I know I’ve posted a lot of stuff that I’ve said is easy, and I promise all are, but this is one of the easier ones amongst the easy treats. You don’t even really need a recipe. Just melt some chocolate, add peppermint, add crushed candy canes and you are done! See, easy!

I accidentally made mine thinner than I had planned. Got a little carried away spreading out the chocolate. But, turns out, I like it better that way! It’s more delicate and more pleasant to eat than a thick chunk. I planned it that way…right…

This makes a pretty small amount, but is easy to double. Adjust the candy cane and peppermint extract to your liking.

 

Candy Cane Bark

Adapted loosely from King Arthur Flour

Yield: A couple of cups, depending on how thin your chocolate is

Difficulty: Easy!

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces chocolate, semi-sweet or dark (not chips)
  • 4 ounces white chocolate (not chips, preferably)
  • 2 to 3 candy canes, broken into pieces
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

1. Chop both chocolates separately. Bring a pan of water to a simmer. Set up a double boiler: set a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Make sure the bowl does not touch the water. Line a half sheet pan with parchment or silpat and set aside.

2. Melt the semi-sweet or dark chocolate first. Spread onto sheet pan making chocolate as thin or thick as you desire. Set into refrigerator for about 5 minutes to help set. Don’t leave the chocolate in the refrigerator or it will make your chocolate spotty.

3. Meanwhile, melt your white chocolate. Add peppermint extract to white chocolate. Once chocolate is mostly set, spread white chocolate over the chocolate. If it isn’t set yet, you may have swirls, but it looks pretty, I think.

4. Spread candy cane over white chocolate before it sets and gently press candy into chocolate.

5. Let set at room temperature until firm. It was rainy when I made this, so it took awhile to set up. Don’t be surprised if it has to sit overnight. Once set, break into pieces and enjoy!

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Day 5 of Bakers Dozen: Caramel Corn

I should not have made this caramel corn. Shouldn’t have done it. Why? Because I can’t stop eating it! It’s worse than the peanut brittle. Sweet, salty, and crunchy. I should also mention that popcorn is an addiction of mine.  I have an air popper that cooks my lunch for me often. Cause, you know, sometimes I just feel like an easy lunch. And popcorn is perfectly acceptable in my book. Then I had to go and add caramel to the mixture, which is probably making my dentist cringe.

This recipe is very easy. You don’t want to use microwave popcorn – the extra flavors might not work with the caramel. You do need a candy thermometer again, but you don’t have to babysit this caramel. Just cook it, toss with the popcorn and eat! Well, give it a second to cool off. Trust me on this one.

If you want to add nuts I’m sure it would work great. Maybe cut out a little of the popcorn for the nuts added. In Hawaii you can find caramel corn with macadamia nuts. So. Good. Personalize it and enjoy!

Caramel Corn

Recipe from Joy of Baking

Yield: 8 to 10 cups

Difficulty: Easy

Prep time: About 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (110 gr) popcorn kernels, or about 10 cups of popped corn, plain
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 gr) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (110 gr) packed dark brown sugar (I only had light and it worked fine)
  • 1/2 cup (120 gr) light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) water
  • 2 TB (28 gr) butter
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda

1. Preheat oven to the lowest setting it will go (mine goes to 170F). Lightly spray a large stainless steel bowl. Pop the corn into the bowl and place in oven to keep warm. Lightly spray two wooden spoons and set aside. Prepare a sheet pan with parchment or silpat and set aside.

2. Measure your salt and baking soda and set aside. In a medium heavy bottom saucepan, stir together the sugars, corn syrup, and water. Bring to a boil. Place a lid on pan for just a minute to reduce sugar crystals from forming. Uncover and clamp candy thermometer to pan.

3. Cook to 240F. Add the butter, stir only once, and then bring mixture to 300F. Remove from heat and quickly stir in the baking soda and salt. The mixture will foam up.

4. Quickly pour over popcorn and toss with your prepared spoons. Pour onto sheet pan and spread out. Let cool and break into pieces.

5. Store in an airtight container for up to 10 days. But it won’t last that long. Yum.

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Day 4 of Bakers Dozen: Sugarplums

We’ve all heard of sugarplums before, most likely from the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker (which everyone must see at least once, in my humble opinion).

But have you ever eaten a sugarplum? Do you even know what is in a sugarplum? I hadn’t, nor did I know what a sugarplum was. Turns out, my beloved Alton Brown had a traditional sugar plum recipe.

They are really easy, almost healthy, and unique. However, I didn’t like them all that much. I don’t like licorice. Anise seed tastes like licorice. I was hoping the anise would be subtle enough for me not to notice, but I did. Good news for licorice lovers though – you’ll love these! I think I’ll try again without the anise seed. I’m sure I’ll love them then.

Try something new this holiday!

Sugarplums

Adapted from Alton Brown

Yield: About 60

Difficult: Easy

Prep time: About 30 to 45  minutes (not sure why the recipe online says 13 hours…must be a typo)

  • 6 ounces slivered almonds, toasted
  • 4 ounces dried plums
  • 4 ounces dried apricots
  • 4 ounces dried figs
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon anise seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup coarse sugar

1. Place the dried fruit and nuts in a food processor and pulse until small but not combined fully.

2. Add the powdered sugar, spices, and honey. Pulse until moist and mixture comes together.

3. Scoop into small 1/4 ounce balls and roll in hand to compress. Then roll in sugar.

4. You are done! Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

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