Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It's my 6th Blogiversary!


It's my 6th Blogiversary and I've had a lot of fun making so many different recipes! I wasn't too organized this summer so I don't have a special recipe to share today, but I wanted to thank my readers over the years. I'm already planning my fall and Christmas baking and I can't wait for the seasons to change and the prime time for baking to begin.

~Nicole



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Banbury Cakes



I recently joined a new baking group called What’s Baking. Every other month a host selects a theme and we all select a recipe that fits the theme. This month, the host is Ali from Sparks from the Kitchen and the theme she chose was to bake something celebrating our heritage. I’m pretty much American through and through and I don’t really identify with a heritage beyond that, so this was tricky. My husband is British, so I chose to bake something from his heritage.

I asked my husband what I should bake and he sent me a couple of recipes that he recommended. I looked at the Banbury cakes and thought that they looked great. I talked to him some more and he said that Banbury is a village in Northamptonshire that is closest to where he grew up: Brackley. What a perfect choice then!

These are little puff pastry cakes filled with a spiced currant filling. I don’t always have the best luck with puff pastry, because I try to rush the thawing process. I took my time and I was ok this time. I had all the ingredients on hand except candied orange peel. I used orange marmalade instead and it worked out great! The picture on the BBC website wasn’t very good and I honestly didn’t know what these were supposed to look like. My husband came home the day I made these and he said they looked perfect, which was such a relief! These are flaky little pastries with a lovely sweet/spicy filling. These were such a success and I had a lot of fun making this recipe.

Banbury Cakes
1 package puff pastry (17.3 ounces)
3-1/2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon honey
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
3.5 ounces currants
2 ounces candied orange peel or marmalade
1 egg white, beaten
1 tablespoon clear sanding sugar

Thaw the puff pastry at room temperature for 30-60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, honey, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Add the currants and the orange peel and mix well.

On a lightly floured surface roll out the pastry to 1/8” thick (the thickness of a £1 coin). Cut out 4” circles; I was able to get 4 circles from each sheet of puff pastry. Divide the filling between the circles.

Bring up the edges of the pastry to enclose the filling and crimp the edges of the pastry together to look like little purses. Turn the pastries over, with the folds underneath. Roll or pat each pastry out gently to an oval shape, taking care not to expose the filling. Place the pastries on the prepared baking sheet, making sure the folded side is down. Brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or, if served cool, with butter.



Friday, August 22, 2014

Red Velvet Oreo Fudge Bars



I know I made chocolaty bar cookies last week, but I came across this recipe and I knew this was the next one to make! I had some sweetened condensed milk left over in the refrigerator and this used just the right amount. I don’t often make cookies that use a cake mix as the base, but every once in a while it’s a nice convenience. Plus, I would have to buy Oreos and Oreos are one cookie that you just can’t replicate at home. (Yes, I know there are recipes out there, but they aren’t the same!)

The only struggle with making these is that you have to be careful that the red coloring in the dough doesn’t stain anything in your kitchen. The dough is sticky, but there is plenty of it so it isn’t too hard to press in the pan. I rushed drizzling the milk/fudge topping over the bars and as a result one edge of the bar got too wet. Even after baking, that edge of the bar was very gooey. Just be careful with that! The red velvet looks great, but it doesn’t taste all that different than chocolate brownies topped with Oreos. I liked these and I enjoyed the convenience of making these bars.

Red Velvet Oreo Fudge Bars

1 Red Velvet cake mix
½ cup butter, room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
18 Oreo cookies, broken in chunks
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 dark chocolate hot fudge topping
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixer bowl, combine the cake mix, butter, egg, and vanilla until a soft dough forms. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the Oreo pieces on top of the dough.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk and hot fudge until it is completely mixed. Evenly drizzle the milk/fudge mixture over the dough. Sprinkle the mini chips over the bars.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until set. Allow the bars to cool completely before cutting into bars.

Lift the bars from the pan and peel away the foil. Cut into bars.

Recipe from Inside BruCrew Life

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Baking Powder Biscuits



I’ve made biscuits a couple of times with Tuesdays with Dorie and I can’t say that they are the best success for me. I have to say that this was also the case with this round of Tuesdays with Dorie. These are the most basic biscuit: flour, sugar, shortening, baking powder, milk. Really simple. They don’t take any time to put together. You can find the recipe for these biscuits with a web search, and you can also check out the links from the other Tuesdays with Dorie bloggers on the TWD site.

These took maybe 25 minutes to make these from start to finish. You mix them by hand, literally, and a fork so not too many dishes to wash. I always take the utmost care to not over work the dough, to be gentle when cutting in the fat and I always end up with flat biscuits. I’m not sure what I could do differently! They taste fine but they just don’t look that great.

I’ve read tons of tips of what would make my biscuits rise, but nothing seems to make a difference. I think if I used a straight sided cutter it could help, but my 2-inch cutter has crimped sides. I don’t know. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I will probably never have the knack of making wonderful biscuits. At least I don’t live in the south!

Recipe from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan, pages 211-212

Friday, August 15, 2014

Triple Chocolate Chip Bars



I don’t think I have made something so decadently chocolate in a while. In the summer, I tend to gravitate towards lighter things, and quite a while goes by without bringing out the chocolate. This bar cookie certainly breaks that pattern, as they contain three types of chocolate chips. I thought about using a different mix of chips other than dark, semisweet and white, but then I would have used milk or some other overly sweet type of chips. I knew with this much chocolate and sweetened condensed milk, that these bars would be sweet enough as is.

This recipe is a variation from a Hershey cookbook, and I meant to look up the original recipe as I am pretty sure I have the book at home. I think the main difference here is that you put some of the crumb mixture in the filling, giving it a little more body. This is a great idea as a cookie with a pure fudge center may be tasty, but doesn’t travel very well. My bars held up with no problem at all. They also cut beautifully.

These bars have a great chocolate flavor, and they weren’t quite as sweet as I feared they might be. One Christmas when I was growing up, we made a couple of bar cookies that contained sweetened condensed milk, and they were super sweet, so I always worry when I use it. These are certainly sweet, but have a nice depth of flavor from the dark chocolate.

Triple Chocolate Chip Bars
1-3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large food processor add the flour, cocoa, sugar, butter and egg. Pulse until the mixture resembles crumbs, about 1-2 minutes. Reserve 3/4 cup of the crumbs for the filling and press the remaining crumbs into the bottom of your prepared pan.

 Bake for 10 minutes.

While the cookie crust is baking, melt the dark chocolate chips in the microwave. Add the sweetened condensed milk and the reserved crumbs to the melted chocolate and stir/whisk to combine. 

Once the crust has come out of the oven, pour the chocolate/milk mixture over the partially baked crust. Spread the mixture with a spatula to ensure that it is even. Sprinkle the semisweet and white chocolate chips over the filling. 

Bake for an additional 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

Remove the bars from the pan and peel away the foil. Cut into bars.