Chocolate · Cookies · Dessert · Healthy · Winter · Winter Treats

My childhood memories become my adult addiction

Only 4 days left to the Olympics and I am starting to get concerned about how I will spend my time moving forward. For two weeks every two years I completely shut my life down and do nothing but watch athlete after athlete do the impossible. There is a great commercial that references every time the Olympics happen you, the normal folk like you and I, get inspired by these athletes to go out there and do the impossible. I am the number one culprit of this. For two weeks every two years I go to work, rush immediately home and wait until the Olympics are on and then I watch them until well past my bedtime.

This year I am at least doing something with that inspiration and have started pushing myself workout wise AND focusing on my eating. Anya on the daily burn always says “its not just about working out, diet is also important.” Well she says something like that and I have finally said ok, fine, you are right, maybe the pound of gummy bears I eat almost every day, although made with fruit juice so technically a fruit, may not be helping in my progress to lose weight.

I don’t believe in Diets and I don’t believe in denying yourself. I have an addictive personality. No I am not an addict, but I am someone that struggles to say no in a lot of ways whether it be more one more cocktail, one more piece of pizza, one more beige colored cardigan sweater because this one has pockets and the three I already own don’t! Its taken me until just this year to realize that I truly struggle to do things in moderation and also tell myself no, in many ways in my life.

In November I tempted the Whole30 Diet. I made it about 23 days ( probably more like 20 because I think I cheated a couple of times). The problem with this is I was telling myself a COMPLETE NO to things. This doesn’t work for me, it might for others, but not for me. I did it but I did not do it well or enjoy myself. Instead, I am focusing on moderation and not denying myself what I want.

I have set a few rules for myself:

  • Desserts or sweets only on the weekend
  • If i am going to go out to eat or drinking, I need to make sure I workout in the morning
  • Workout, especially when you don’t want to. If you are at home and just watching TV, you have to do a light weight and ab workout.
  • No more drinking at home, only when out (if I have to pay for it, I am less likely to consume as much #poorlife)
  • Cook for the week every weekend
  • BAKE! and then Bake again!

Maybe calling these rules is a bit harsh, I think perhaps they are life mantras, or mantras at least for the moment. Focusing on these mantras or rules should hopefully open my eyes to not how little of something I am doing, but how much of it I was doing prior to now. For me, this is where change can actually happen and become a life change rather than a quick fix.

This weekend I got real crazy and started a new puzzle and spent about 6 hours on Sunday working on it.
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When I was a kid I spent summer nights with my mom and sister working on puzzles. We would go to the local multi-purpose store, this was before Target and Walmart existed and buy a new puzzle every few weeks or so. I think we bought every Charles Wysocki puzzle that was every manufacturer in the 90’s and only Charles Wysocki puzzles. Why? Honestly, I have no idea but they are the only puzzles I like to do. There is also a solid chances these were the only puzzles the store sold and thats why we always bought them. Either way, I fell in love with them.

I have fond memories of sitting on our screened in porch at night, with tons of candles and a table lamp, basically in the dark working on our puzzles and listening to the crickets chirping in the summer night. I can’t pinpoint when this all basically stopped. Likely when I started playing soccer in my teen years, which quickly became my life obsession.

A few months ago the store we used to buy our puzzles from, a local family owned business finally closed its doors. It was really sad. It was just a store, but its one of those things in my childhood that holds a lot of memories. My mom and I were reminiscing and I brought up all the puzzles we used to get from there. Two days later, I got a package when I cam home from work. Now, every time I come home and there is a package in the doorway of my building I always look at it. You know, just to double check if its for me, not that I bought anything and not that I am expecting anything, but you never know when someone might just randomly send you something right? Never happen to you either? Well it finally did for me! It was literally so thrilling to actually see a random, spontaneous package waiting for me. I may have squealed a little. Turns out, while we had been chatting my Mom was on Amazon and mailed me a Charles Wyscoki puzzle.

This was about 4 months ago. I blame my father for what happened next. My Dad insisted on buying me Amazon Prime at Christmas. Dad loves Prime he also LOVES Alexa. He asks her to tell him jokes and the weather. He now has her in the living room and the kitchen where she plays music for him while he eats. He wanted me to have an Alexa even though I asked him what would I do with an Alexa? I have a two room apartment so small that it feels cramped when there is more than just myself in it. He just so happened to have an extra Echo to give me and in order to have an Alexa… I had to have Prime.

What comes with Prime?
-Two day free shipping.

What can you order on two day free shipping?
-Every new 1000 piece Charles Wysocki Amazon sells, thats what!
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This might go back to the whole addictive personality thing. Also, if you have an Alexa, ask her if she knows the Muffin Man?

Puzzling… I think that’s an actual word… has been really stimulating for me. It gives me something to do on my days off and something that I can easily start and stop if I need too. Its also great to do while you are impatiently waiting for things to cook! This weekend I came across a recipe I made a few times last year for a friend who is GF. I thought I would whip up a batch of these PB and Nutella Crinkle Cookies because I was craving something a little sweet and they are fast and super easy to make. What makes it for me is the chopped, toasted hazelnuts on top.
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There are a lot of things you can do with hazelnuts, but like Almonds, if you do not toast them prior to eating them or baking with them,they will taste very raw and almost flour like.

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Baked · Breakfast · Cake · Chocolate · Dessert · Donut · Snacks · Valentine's Day · Winter Treats

I never met a donut I didn’t like, until today!

The Donut.

It’s a staple in American culture, it’s an excuse to eat cake for breakfast and it’s flavor and topping options are endless. One thing for me should be a firm constant when it comes to the donut.Donuts should always be fried. Whether it’s a cake donut or my personal favorite, a yeasted donut, they should always be fried: NOT BAKED!

Donut pans are something I only recently started using. About a year ago I was teaching a donut class and had my first baked donut encounter. If I can remember correctly we were making a Nutella filled yeasted donut, an apple cider donut and for some god awful reason the third donut, a lemon poppyseed with a delightful lemon glaze, as a baked donut. In a pan. A donut pan to be specific.

The donut pans themselves are cute. I have seen three basic sizes for the pans- regular size (the size of a donut from the supermarket or dunkin, not a fancy giant donut) a medium one and a small one. The small donut is a little bigger than a silver dollar.

I have several issues with baking donuts in pans, but the main two I will talk about are as follows:

1. The texture
2. The look

Texture:
Donuts are typically made from a dough. It’s rolled out and shapes are cut out with a cookie cutter. It’s dense, almost heavy and when fried gets a soft but firm interior texture and a firm, sometimes crunchy, outer texture. They are easy to pick up and handle, especially when dipping in ganache or glaze.

Baked donuts are made from a batter that is thin and handled easiest when piped into the donut molds. The texture is soft, almost crumbly and the exterior is thin and delicate. Baked donuts are literally cake, shaped into the image of a donut.

The Look:
Donut pans CAN produce very round, symmetrical pretty looking donuts. The issue I constantly have when I make these is figuring out the perfect amount of batter to add to each mold.
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You can see from both images the different amounts of batter I added to each row of donuts. Lookig at the second picture, the first row is what we are looking for shape wise. I filled the molds about 1/3 of the way full.

The middle row is a little overfilled and the donuts looks bloated. They basically look the way i feel after eating a burrito. These were filled about 1/2 the way full.

The last row are overfilled and the middle hole has been engulfed with batter. These molds were filled almost to the top of the pan.

Personally I think donut pans should be used to make anything except what I would call a donut. Since my first time using them in class, I have dabbled here and there in trying out different recipes. Each recipe I have made has come out fine, if I was aiming to make round shaped disks of cake. They just aren’t donuts and not what I want when I want a donut.

The latest recipe I made comes from King Arthur and was pretty good! I omitted the chocolate chips in the batter and used vegetable oil instead of melted butter. I also made a traditional ganache for the top:

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Chocolate ganache
8oz dark bittersweet chocolate
5.5oz heavy cream

Heat the heavy cream and chocolate over a double boiler until the chocolate is melted. Let cool down for 2-3 minutes before using.

Bars and Brownies · Chocolate · Dessert · Valentine's Day

Day 4-of Swoon worthy V-day desserts has me updating a classic

As a kid I never liked blondies. I always thought of them as the brownies sad, ugly cousin. It wasn’t until I worked in a kitchen and was forced to make blondies that I learned to appreciate them and eventually, fall in love them. There is something so mind-blowing simple and delicious about the combination of melted butter, brown sugar and chocolate chips.

Blondies are also a great vessel for a variety of ingredients like chocolate, nuts and dried fruits. Me? I like the classic combination of semi-sweet chocolate chips and walnuts but you can do whatever you like.

Around Christmas my mom gave me a jar of Cookie Butter she bought from Nuts.com. Mom tends to see things, think they look interesting and then randomly buy them for me. As you can imagine, I usually make out quite nicely when this happens.

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After a moment of fat kid weakness where I pretty much ate half the jar of Cookie Butter, with a spoon, straight from the jar I started thinking of ways I could use it in baked goods. I have seen lots of recipes over the past couple of years that call for the use of Cookie Butter but recently came across one that incorporated it into a blondie.

YAAAASSSSSSS Blondies meet Cookie Butter. Cookie Butter meet Blondie 🙂

The Cookie Butter definitely adds extra moisture and sweetness to the batter so I adjusted my recipe by adding more flour and decreasing the brown sugar in the recipe. The result is a soft, gooey texture that is moist and packed with flavor.

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Enjoy!
-K

Cookie Butter Blondies

  • Servings: 9
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients


1/2 Cup Cookie Butter
1 Stick Unsalted Butter, Melted
1 1/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1 Egg plus 1 yolk
2 tsp Vanilla
2 1/2 Cups AP Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips
1/4 Cup Chopped Walnuts

Directions


1. Grease a 9×9 inch baking pan and cover the bottom with parchment. Its goo
2. In a mixing bowl combine the cookie butter, melted butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat on low until smooth.
3. Once mixture is smooth, continue to beat on medium until everything becomings fully incorporate, mixture becomes thick and fluffy (it should appear lighter in color as you aerate it).
4. Add the remaining flour, baking power and salt and mix on low just until all the flour gets incorporated.
5. Remove the mixing bowl and with a spatula, fold in the chopped walnuts and chocolate chips, scraping the sides and the bottom of the bowl as you go.
6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in a 350 oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the center is set.
7. Let cool before cutting!

Cake · Chocolate · Dessert · Valentine's Day

Day 3- The best flour-less chocolate cake you will ever make

If you say Flour-less or Gluten-Free to me, I am probably going to roll my eyes at you give a hard PASS.

This rich, dense, creamy, decadent flourless chocolate cake will change your mind forever when it comes to Gluten-Free baking. It is also my most coveted recipe I make.

Although I feel the term “cake” is perhaps not the best description, the cake is more like a baked ganache containing sugar and eggs. The key to this recipe is to use a high quality dark chocolate such as Valrhona.

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Flourless Chocolate Cake

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients


1 lb 8oz Chocolate
1 lb Butter
1 lb Granulated Sugar
2 Cups Pineapple Juice
8 Egg Yolks
1 Vanilla Bean or 1 TB Vanilla Extract

1. Grease a 9 or 10inch round cake pan with pan spray and cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of parchment paper.
2. In a small saucepan, bring he pineapple juice to a boil and reduce to down to 3/4 Cup.
3. In a large bowl, combine half the sugar and egg yolks and whisk together until thick and pale.
4. Over a double boiler, melt together the remaining sugar, butter and chocolate. Once melted, add the reduced pineapple juice and mix until combined.
5. Using a ladle and whisking the egg mixture continuously, ladle the hot melted chocolate into the egg mixture one ladle at a time. Once half the chocolate has been ladled in, pour the rest in and continue to stir until completely incorporated.
6. Add the batter to the prepared cake pan and place the cake pan in a larger pan with high walls. Add water to the base pan, just enough so it comes up about half way on the sides of round cake pan.
7. Bake at 325 for about 45 minutes to an hour. The cake will have a slight jiggle still in the center of it. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool, in the waterbath.
8. Carefully turn the cake over onto a cake stand or plate and garnish before serving.
Garnish Ideas:
Fresh Fruit: Raspberries, Blackberries, Pomegranate Seeds, Cheeries
Chocolate Ganache
Whipped Cream

 

-K

Candy · Chocolate · Dessert · Valentine's Day

Day 2- Swoon Worthy Oreo Truffles for Valentine’s Day

Two Words… Oreo Truffles.

Nothing could be easier than these three ingredient Oreo Truffles. I warn you, they are incredibly addictive.

Simply take 1 package of regular or mint flavored Oreos and place all the Oreos in a food processor. Pulse the cookies until finally ground. Remove about 2 tsp of crushed cookies and set it aside for garnish. Add 1 8oz package of plain cream cheese to the ground cookies and continue to pulse until the Oreos and the cream cheese are smooth (it should start to look like a thick paste).

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Scoop balls of dough on a parchment lined sheet pan and gently, with your hands, roll them into smooth balls. Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm them up. Once firm, dip the cookie dough into melted dark chocolate and set back onto the parchment to harden.

I like to sprinkle a little bit of the reserved crushed cookies on top of each truffle before the chocolate hardens.

Make a double batch and freeze them for later!

-K