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Entries in Baked Goods (86)


Chocolate Toffee Shortbread Bars

Chocolate toffee shortbread

One of the many recipes that led up to my removal from the kitchen last week were these shortbread bars, which I found on a fellow Buffalo blog, Christine's Cuisine. During the last full week of school, a few of us ladies had a special lunch for our friend Joanne, who is retiring in one week! We ordered subs and a few people brought different types of salads as side dishes. Of course, no special lunch would be complete without a dessert, which is where this recipe came in. Sure, there was 2 sticks of butter in the shortbread base, but they were delicious! As they say, everything in moderation…right?! 

For the Shortbread:
1 1/2 cups Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
2 sticks Butter (never said these were healthy!)
1/2 cup Brown Sugar, packed
1/4 Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
5 tablespoons Mini Chocolate Chips

For the Topping:
6 ounces Bittersweet or Semisweet Chocolate Chips
1 1/2 cups Toffee Bits or Chopped Toffee Bars 

Combine the flour, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl; stir to blend and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar, and brown sugar, and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Blend in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Stir in the mini chocolate chips until evenly distributed. Line a 9x13" baking dish with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking dish and press into an even layer, covering the bottom of the pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes, or until the shortbread is bubbling. Remove the pan from the oven.  Sprinkle the 6 ounces of chocolate chips evenly over the top of the shortbread base. Cover the pan with foil and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Remove the foil and, using an offset spatula, spread the melted chocolate evenly over the crust in a thin layer. Immediately sprinkle the toffee bits over the melted chocolate and press down lightly to adhere. Let the bars cool to room temperature, and when the topping is set, remove from the pan, transfer to a cutting board, and slice into bars. 


Double Chocolate Muffins {Vegan}

Vegan chocolate muffins

By no means do I follow a vegan lifestyle. However, for some reason, when I see that word "vegan"  in the title of a recipe, I convince myself that it means "healthy."  So, when I saw this recipe posted over at Prevention RD, I knew I had to give it a try. When I get a "healthy" double dose of chocolate in the morning, I know it's going to be a good day! This is the second vegan muffin recipe that I have tried, and I'm starting to think that from now on, I'll only make vegan muffins. The texture and flavor of these muffins were spectacular! I made them early in the week and they lasted throughout the whole week, which made what could have been an ordinary week extraordinary!

1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt 
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 1/2 cup Unsweetened Applesauce
1/2 cup Canola Oil
1 tablespoon Vanilla
2 ounces Dark Chocolate (72% cocao), chopped

Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar in a large bowl and whisk until blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the applesauce, canola oil, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in the chopped chocolate. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and fill each tin nearly full. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins come out clean. Makes about 14 muffins.  


Double Coconut Muffins {Vegan}

Coconut muffins

I've never cooked with coconut oil. I've been wanting to give it a try, but I couldn't justify spending almost $10 for a jar when I didn't have anything specific to use it in. Then, Bridget posted these Smitten Kitchen muffins on her blog, The Way The Cookie Crumbles. I saw the recipe and moments later, found myself pulling my car out of the driveway, driving to the grocery store! To this day, I've only used the 8 tablespoons that this recipe calls for, but you know what? I have absolutely no regrets! I just look at that as a reason to make these muffins again…then again and again. They are a bit more dense than most other muffins that I've had, but they are very delicious! If you like coconut, you will not be disappointed with this recipe!

8 tablespoons Virgin Coconut Oil
3/4 cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Greek Yogurt, room temperature
1/3 cup Sugar
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla

In a small saucepan, warm the coconut oil just until it melts; do not heat it until it is hot. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, 1/2 cup shredded coconut, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, coconut oil, yogurt, and vanilla. Add the coconut oil mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Divide the batter among 10 muffin cups that have been lined with paper liners or sprayed with nonstick spray. Top each muffin with about 1 teaspoon of the remaining shredded coconut. Bake at 375 degrees until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes.  Transfer the muffins to a cooling rack; cool for 5 minutes, then remove them from the pan. 


French Macarons with Nutella Buttercream 


During the summer of 2008, Joel and I took a European vacation which brought us to Paris. We met up with a friend while we were there and as we were walking down Champs-Elysées, she said we couldn't leave without stopping in to Ladurée for a treat. I remember seeing little sandwich cookies in a case with a line of at least 4 people deep waiting to get their hands on them. I had no idea what the big deal was about them. We left without even getting close enough to see the flavors that they were selling. Needless to say, until I had a blog, I had no idea what French Macarons were. However, they have been popping up all over the internet recently, and I've become a bit curious. A few weeks ago, Joel and I went up to Toronto for the day and while we were there, we discovered a cute little macaron boutique and decided to see what the fuss was all about. I immediately had a case of sticker shock when I saw the price--$2.50 for a cookie the size of a half-dollar?! Since I felt odd charging 1 single cookie, we bought a sampler pack of 6 different flavors, gave them a try, and was immediately surprised by how delicious they were! So, when I was assigned to Carrie's Sweet Life for the Secret Recipe Club style recipe swap this week, I knew right away that I was going to try this recipe for French Macarons, which she got from Martha Stewart. When I started the recipe, I was a bit annoyed with the sifting and piping. I was able to get enough for 12 regular sized sandwiches and 4 mini ones out of the batter. It seemed like an awful lot of work for such a small amount of cookies. However, when I took the pan out of the oven and discovered that my macarons had "feet", I was beyond excited and couldn't wait to give them a try. I whipped up a nutella buttercream instead of the Swiss meringue buttercream that Carrie made, and piped them onto the cookies. I made Joel try one first, and he told me they were perfect. He was right! I am impressed that they turned out as good as they did for my first time making them. I would love to try them again with different flavor combinations. Thanks, Carrie, for finally giving me a reason to give this recipe a try!

For the Macarons:
1 cup Confectioners' Sugar
3/4 cup Almond Flour
2 large Egg Whites, at room temperature
Pinch of Cream of Tartar
1/4 cup Superfine Sugar (I made my own by buzzing regular sugar around in a food processor)

Pulse the confectioners' sugar and almond flour in a food processor until combined. Sift the mixture through a sieve 2 times. Preheat at the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium heat until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low and add the superfine sugar. Increase the speed to high and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Sift the flour mixture over the egg whites and fold until mixture is smooth and shiny. Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip. and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet, dragging the pastry tip to the side of the rounds rather than forming peaks. Tap the bottom of each sheet on the work surface to release any trapped air. Let the piped batter stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating half way through, until the macarons are crisp and firm, about 10 minutes. After each batch, increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees for 5 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees. Let the macarons cool on sheets for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. If the macarons stick, spray water under the parchment on the hot sheet--the steam will help release the macarons. Sandwich 2 same-size macarons with 1 teaspoon of filling. Serve immediately, or stack between layers of parchment paper, wrap in plastic, and freeze for up to 3 months. 

For the Nutella Buttercream Filling (from Tracey's Culinary Adventures):
6 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, softened
1/4 cup Nutella
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 tablespoon Milk
1/2 cup Confectioners' Sugar, sifted

In a medium sized bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and nutella until combined. Add the vanilla, milk, and confectioners sugar and beat on low speed until the powdered sugar is just about incorporated. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the frosting is smooth.  


English Muffins

English muffins

I was home on spring break two weeks ago and I got bored! I know, what's wrong with me, right? Home for an entire week with nothing to do, and I was bored? What can I say, I'm a creature of habit who thrives on routine, so when my routine is thrown off for even a few days, I don't know what to do with myself. I did a few things that needed to be done, like go to the DMV to renew my license, get my oil changed, and grocery shop during the day when the store wasn't super crowded. I also had lunch with my mom and grandparents, and met Joel at work for lunch one day, and got to see his office and the people he works with, which was fun. But all of those things only took up so much time, so with the remaining time, I decided to tackle an item on my list of things that I've been wanting to make: English Muffins! I googled a recipe and decided to go with this one from Budget Bytes. Since this dough needs to rise 3 times, each for 45 minutes, I figured why not do it while I was home and bored with nothing but time on my hands. The recipe was very easy, and even though it took quite a while, the majority of time was hands-off. My muffins ended up being slightly smaller than the typical size, and I didn't end up with the nooks and crannies that store bought English muffins have, but the flavor was spot-on! They were delicious in the morning holding an egg and cheese breakfast sandwich, and also toasted with butter and jam. I'm glad I finally decided to tackle these, and now that I have tried them, I definitely plan to make them again.

1 teaspoon Active Dry Yeast
1 tablespoon Sugar
1/2 cup Warm Water 
1/2 cup Milk
2 tablespoons Butter
3 cups Flour, divided
3/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 cup Cornmeal
Non-stick Spray

In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water. Stir to dissolve the sugar and yeast. Let sit about 5 minutes, or until foamy on top. While the yeast mixture is resting, combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt in a large bowl. Stir well to evenly distribute the salt. In a second small bowl, combine the milk and butter and microwave it for 30 seconds, stir, then microwave for another 30 seconds. Continue stirring until the butter melts into the warm milk. Pour the yeast mixture and the butter mixture into the flour. Stir until it has combined into a pasty mix. Adding 1/4 cup at a time, stir in more flour until the dough forms a soft, slightly sticky ball that pulls away from the bowl. Sprinkle a little bit of flour onto a clean countertop and coat your hands in flour. Dump the ball of dough out of the bowl and knead it for about 5 minutes. Add as little flour as possible to the countertop while kneading--adding too much flour will yield tough muffins. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a bowl that has been coated in non-stick spray. Lightly spray the top of the dough and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Punch down the dough and shape it into another ball. Cover the dough ball and let it rise a second time, another 45 minutes to 1 hour. Punch the dough down again and turn it out onto a well floured countertop. Using a rolling pin, lightly roll the dough until it is about 3/4 of an inch thick. Using a cookie cutter, biscuit cutter, or a large round glass, cut the dough into circles. When you can't cut out any more circles, gently ball up the remaining dough, roll it again, and cut some more. Place the cut dough circles onto a sheet pan that has been liberally covered in cornmeal; sprinkle more cornmeal on top of the muffins. Cover loosely with a damp bowl and let rise, once more, until double in size, about 45 minutes. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Spray the pan with non-stick spray. Carefully transfer the fluffy, risen muffins into the hot skillet with a spatula. Cook the muffins, in batches, in the skillet until they are golden brown and crispy on each side, about 5-7 minutes per side. Make sure to keep the heat on low so that the outside browns slowly, allowing the inside to "band". Let the muffins cool on a wire rack before attempting to slice them open. 

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