Saturday, March 8, 2014

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars


They're chocolate.  They're peanut butter.  They're pretzels.

They're salty.  They're sweet.  They're crunchy.

They're No-Bake.  They're easy.  They're....perfect.



My Gramma turns 88 today and I made these as the dessert for my birthday lunch for her.  To sit there, sharing stories and enjoying seconds and thirds with her, you realize that you're never too old to have chocolate, peanut butter and pretzels in your dessert.


Cheers to you Gramma, and to the joys of sharing every simple & sweet morsel in life with those you love.





No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

Ingredients
Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups creamy or crunchy peanut butter, divided
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, divided
4 cups (roughly ½-inch pieces), broken small pretzel twists or sticks, divided
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

Directions
LINE 13 x 9-inch baking pan with foil leaving an overhang on two sides. Lightly spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.

BEAT 1 1/4 cups peanut butter and butter in large mixer bowl until creamy. Gradually beat in 1 cuppowdered sugar. Stir in remaining 1 cup powdered sugar, 3 cups pretzel pieces and 1/2 cup morsels. Press evenly into prepared baking pan. Smooth top with spatula.

MICROWAVE remaining 1 1/2 cups morsels and 3/4 cup peanut butter in medium, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on MEDIUM-HIGH (70%) power for 45 seconds; STIR. If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted. Spread chocolate layer evenly over powdered sugar mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining pretzel pieces, pressing down lightly. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or until firm. Lift from pan; peel off foil. Cut into 60 pieces. Store in covered container in refrigerator.
Or...put them in the freezer when you're done.  You wont be sorry.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Kentucky Bourbon Cake with Blueberry Bourbon Basil Glaze



What's better than drinking delicious Bourbon?  Baking with it.  And drinking it.  At the same time.

Let's get Frisky with Whiskey.

This recipe was inspired by a conversation my friend and I were having about the glories of the great state of Oregon. Vineyards, forest, ocean, crater lakes, beer, all the hipster material you could ask for.  What's not to love?
We started an in-depth discussion about doughnuts (that's normal) and in particular the creative flavors of Blue Star Donuts in downtown Portland.  He mentioned their iconic doughnut that is enrobed in a Blueberry Bourbon Basil glaze and I'm pretty sure I stopped listening all together. The mere imagining of tasting all of these flavors together took over my mind.  I decided right there that I must create a version of this earth-shattering flavor vortex.

How could I up the ante?  Well why not put the glaze on top of a whole cake instead of a doughnut.  And why not bake it in a tube pan so it looks like an enormous doughnut anyway (zing!).  And if there's Bourbon in the glaze, there's no reason why it shouldn't be in the cake too.  It's fairness like this that should be more prevalent in this world.

It's not that I doubted Blue Star, but you really don't know the magic of how these flavors meld together until you taste it yourself.  Sweet and tart blueberry, herbal-lemon-slight anise basil, the spicy vanilla Bourbon.  And then there's the cake!  Oh, the cake.  The buttery vanilla and Bourbon pillow upon which the glaze happily rests.
There's one Blue Star reviewer online who states: "Blueberry Basil Bourbon - sounds weird, TASTE LIKE RAINBOWS"

I concur, my friend. I concur.

So celebrate Rainbows and America and crack open a bottle of Kentucky Bourbon.  It makes measuring flour and butter that much more fun.
And, in the end, you can have your cake and drink it too.


Kentucky Bourbon Cake with Blueberry Bourbon Basil Glaze

Ingredients:

Cake:
3 cups (12 ounces) sifted cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. fine sea salt
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
1/2 cup (3 3/4 ounces) firmly packed brown sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup bourbon
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

Glaze:
1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
2-3 tablespoons bourbon
3 cups sifted powdered sugar

Directions:
Grease a 10-cup metal tube or bundt pan. Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350°F.

To make the cake, sift together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt in a bowl, then whisk the mixture by hand to ensure that the ingredients are well mixed.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. As you make the batter, stop the mixer frequently and scrape the paddle and the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Blend in the eggs one at a time and add the vanilla. Combine the bourbon and buttermilk in a small bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk-bourbon mixture in two parts, beginning and ending with the flour. After each addition, mix until just barely blended and stop and scrape the bowl. Stop the mixer before the last of the flour has been incorporated and complete the blending by hand with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the cake is golden and springs back when touched, 40 to 45 minutes.  Let the cake cool completely and remove from the pan.

To make the glaze start by pulsing the blueberries, basil and 2 tablespoons bourbon in a food processor or blender until smooth.  

In a large bowl, measure out the powdered sugar and gradually stir in the blueberry mixture a few spoonfuls at a time until your desired consistency is reached (I used it all).  Taste and add the last tablespoon of bourbon if desired.  Drizzle over cooled cake.

Cheers to baking with libations.  ...Libaking?

I wont quit my day job.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Brown Butter Blueberry Cornmeal Banana Bread



Say the recipe name five times fast. I dare you.

Sure, it could just say ‘Banana Bread’…but, can you imagine leaving any one of the other ingredients out of the recipe name? It’s like Banana Bread, but on crack. But somehow Crack Banana Bread just didn’t have the right ring to it. Somehow.

Instead of regular old butter, we brown the butter in a saucepan first to become nutty and delicious and just downright seductive.
Dear Brown Butter: Is it acceptable to dab you on my wrists and neck like perfume?

Instead of just flour, we kick up the flavor and the texture by adding an earthy crunch of cornmeal.
Dear Cornmeal: I have a crush on you. You make me want to eat fresh tortillas every day.

Instead of only sweet ripe banana, we add juicy summer Maine blueberries to the fruit roster. Because they’re in the freezer and are practically crying out to be used and brighten the spirits of a heavy winter chill.
Dear Maine Blueberries: You win. Forever.

But I digress to from my love letters to food ingredients. Let’s get down to it.

By now you are armed with not one, not two, but three rockin blueberry bread recipes that are fit to please any guest and at any time of year. That’s badass. And this recipe is unabashedly the badass-est (woah). 
All of the elements come together in a sweet-enough, banana, blueberry, crunchy, moist-but-not-too-moist, perfect crumb bite. Having a whole 9x13 pan of it is nothing short of dangerous. And by dangerous I mean awesome.

Think Batman – dangerously awesome.

Batman Brown Butter Blueberry Cornmeal Banana Bread…?


We win. Forever.




Also, Note to Self:  This is the risk of taking a food photo shoot on a very snowy balcony railing.

Note to Self #2:  The consequence of said risk = out-of-the-oven banana bread dusted with freshly fallen Maine powder.  An amazing unexpected reward.



Brown Butter Blueberry Cornmeal Banana Bread


Adapted from Joy the Baker


Ingredients:

7 ounces unsalted butter, melted and browned to just over 1/2 cup of butter
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup corn meal
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup plain yogurt (any fat content) or buttermilk
1 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 3-4 medium bananas)
Heaping 1 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen


Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9×13 inch pan and set aside. (You could also consider doing two bread loaf pans)

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Butter will begin to foam and crackle as it melts. When the crackling subsides, the butter will begin to brown. Swirl the pan as the butter cooks. When the butter browns and begins to smell nutty, remove the pan from the flame and transfer the butter to a small bowl. Taking the butter out of the hot saucepan will stop the butter from overcooking and burning. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla extract, and yogurt or buttermilk. Whisk in the mashed bananas. When butter has cooled, whisk in the browned butter.

Add the wet ingredients, all at once to the dry ingredients. Fold together, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to reveal any hidden pockets of flour. Fold in the blueberries. Fold together ingredients, but try not to over stir.

Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the pan for 15 minutes.

Bread will last 4 days, well wrapped at room temperature. It also freezes well.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Blueberry Gingerbread Cake


It's 2014.

...what?

Wait a minute, I feel like we're having deja vu.  I feel like we were just having the same conversation about how crazy it was that it was Labor Day.  And talking about a recipe that has blueberries baked into a delicious bread batter.  And swooning over how delicious Maine blueberries are. 

Yup.  That's exactly what's happening.  Again.  And I'm into it. 

Only now I look outside and all I see is a magical winter wonderland instead of a late summer sun-glistening lake.  And those blueberries, they're the same.  Except they've taken a long winters nap in our freezer, patiently waiting to awaken on a cold day like today and make everyone feel warm and summery and nostalgic.  

This recipe puts a summery bright burst on a winter holiday favorite: gingerbread.  The deep sweet of molasses with a ginger spice is perked up just enough by the bright freshness of the blueberry.  And oh, the amazing summer flavor is still there.  It's there and it's awesome.  You close your eyes and get lost in the time warp.... and in the end you don't care what time of year it is.  All you taste is delicious. 

Because what do you do when it's -11 degrees outside?  You bake, and you bake with what you have.  And if that means pulling out part of your summer harvest from the freezer, all the better.

Also, consider this Winter Blueberry recipe as Recipe 1 of 2 - with another coming your way tomorrow.  It's even more awesome...so get excited.

And in the meantime, get bakin'.



Blueberry Gingerbread Cake

Adapted from Martha Stewart and Smitten Kitchen

8 tablespoons (1 stick, 4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, plus more for pan
1 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting finished cake
Lightly sweetened whipped cream, essential for serving

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Butter and flour parchment and sides of cake pan, or spray both with a nonstick baking spray.

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan (or large one, if you’d like to make the cake entirely in there) and add baking soda — it will foam up! this is fun! Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir in butter until melted. Whisk in dark brown sugar, molasses and fresh ginger, if using. Mixture is usually just lukewarm by now, but if it still feels quite hot to the touch, set it aside to 10 to 15 minutes to cool further before using.

Place flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt and baking powder in a fine-mesh strainer or sifter so that you can sift them over the wet ones in a minute.

Transfer molasses mixture to a large mixing bowl if your saucepan isn’t large enough to make the batter in. Whisk in eggs until just combined. Sift dry ingredients over wet, then stir the wet and dry ingredients together until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan; bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer cake to a wire rack and let cool completely. Once fully cool, cut around cake to make sure no parts are sticking to the side and invert cake out onto a rack, then onto a serving plate. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and cut into squares. Please, promise you’ll serve this with lightly sweetened, softly whipped cream. They’re made for each other.

Do ahead: Whipped cream needs to be stored in the fridge, of course. Cake keeps at room temperature for up to a week in an airtight container. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Coconut Blueberry Bliss Cake



It’s Labor Day. 
 
…what?

How is it that the Memorial Day to Labor Day stretch goes by quicker every year? It’s a fascinating phenomenon we all seem to experience and have trouble accepting. It’s May, then September, and we don’t really know if those J months ever exist. This year I decided to use this feeling as a welcomed opportunity to find a way to embody it, to savor it; to somehow tangibly represent this time of year we all cherish so much. And doing so through a baked good seemed very appropriate.

In terms of summer, you cannot get more summery than hand-picked Maine blueberries. This is fact. And they must be picked from Blueberry Hill Farm in Acton, Maine. On a hot summer afternoon. After a morning woods run. And a swim in Great East Lake. But pre afternoon boat ride…and pre happy hour. With cold Sam Summers. Or Kahlua iced coffees. These are more facts. Are you writing this down? Stick with me here.

For fall, spices like cinnamon and nutmeg enter their prime time to shine come September. Apples start their harvests and have a direct destiny for pie pans and applesauce jars. Cinnamon and nutmeg will be at the ready on every kitchen counter post-harvest, ready to spice and make everything nice. Trust me on that one.

The beauty here is that we can find a middle ground for this seasonal divide; a culinary creation to bridge the gap of summer and fall. And it just so happens that this particular bridge combines all of the seasons’ best traits into one moist, sweet, brown sugar, cinnamony (new word), bursting-with-blueberry-goodness coffee cake. And the coconut? Well, why the heck not? I say. When one is able to give life an exotic, tropical twist – such as adding a crunchy coconut topping to your coffee cake - you say yes. This is another life fact. Jot that down.

Bottom line: make this cake for a special occasion or as a simple way to make your or someone else’s morning cup of coffee even better. It will please everyone’s palate and, most importantly, give us a helpful hand in saying so-long to a wonderful summer and welcome to a fall full of promise and even more flavor. Sounds like bliss to me.


Coconut Blueberry Bliss Cake


Streusel Topping:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted, plus more for coating
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for coating.
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Yogurt Cake:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk plain yogurt (or sour cream) at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 healthy cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

For the Streusel:

Heat the oven to 350F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a 9x13 inch pan with butter and flour or spray with Pam and set aside.

Combine the streusel ingredients in a small bowl and mix until well incorporated and clumped. Refrigerated until read to use.

For the Cake:

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl until aerated and lumps are broken up; set aside.

Put the brown sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat over medium speed until light in color and airy. Add the yogurt (or sour cream) and mix well. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until evenly combined. Remove the bowl from the mixture and stir in the flour mixture until just moistened through.  Gently fold in the blueberries.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle the streusel over the top and press in to adhere. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and just a few crumbs remain, about 
55 minutes.



Adapted from Shutterbean

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Summer Strawberry and Pecan Sandy Crumble



Freshly picked summer strawberries.  From Maine.  In the sunshine.
Does life get much better?

Well...perhaps if you put them in a baking dish...with some sugar, flour, butter and pecans....and bake it.  And then put ice cream on top.  Yup, life just went to another level.

Enjoy this recipe, and learn more about the story here on WTF!

Summer Strawberry and Pecan Sandy Crumble

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

This crumble is a mash-up between a standard strawberry crumble and pecan sandies cookies. You’ll get the best pecan flavor here by toasting your nuts as deeply as you can get away with; keeping a close eye on them and not just relying on a set time will be the best way to pull this off. As is my preference, this is not a very sweet dessert; the topping is moderately sweet and the fruit base is still pretty tart with only 1/2 cup sugar for 4 pounds of fruit. Use 3/4 cup if you like a more traditional sweet-tart crumble and double it if you like sweet pies. If serving this with vanilla ice cream, as we did, however, the tartness that comes from 1/2 cup sugar will play off the sweet vanilla dreamily.

This makes a large crumble, ideal for a crowd of 12 to 15 (if served petitely). You can halve it and bake it in an 8×8, 9×9 or other 2-quart baking dish.

Pecan sandy topping
1 cup raw pecans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons coarse sugar, such as Turbinado or Sugar in the Raw; use granulated if you have neither
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or you can use bourbon; I’ll never tell)

Filling
3 1/2 to 4 pounds strawberries
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
A couple pinches of salt

Make topping: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the nuts out in one layer on a baking sheet and bake them, stirring occasionally, until they are well browned, 10 to 13 minutes (they will smell toasted and nutty but keep an eye on them towards the end so yours do not burn). Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool.

In a food processor, coarsely chop 1/4 cup of cooled pecans, then set them aside in a small dish. Put remaining pecans (3/4 cup) in food processor along with about one-quarter of your flour (you can eyeballs this) and grind the nuts until they’re as powdery as possible. Add the remaining flour, powdered sugar, coarse sugar, salt, baking powder and pulse the machine two or three times, just to combine. Transfer dry mixture a bowl and add melted butter and vanilla. Stir this together until small and large clumps form, then stir in coarsely chopped pecans. Refrigerate until needed.

Make filling: Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Hull your strawberries, then half or quarter them depending on their size. In the bottom of 3- to 4-quart (a 9×13, such as a deep lasagna pan, works here) works fine here) ovenproof baking dish, toss the strawberries with sugar, cornstarch, orange juice and salt.

Remove topping from refrigerator and cover fruit thickly and evenly with topping. Bake until crumble topping is golden brown in places and fruit is bubbling and begins to creep up over the topping a little, about 40 to 50 minutes. If your topping browns too much before this happens (this doesn’t happen in my oven, but just in case) you can cover the top with foil until it is done baking.

Let cool slightly before serving, ideally with vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bacon Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies


 Woah.  There are a lot of things going on here to absorb.  Let's list them:

1) I'm posting a recipe on OUAP.  It's been a while.  Too long, I say.  WithTwoForks has been at the forefront for a long time, and rightfully so, but it's time to give some love to Once Upon a Plate.  After all this is where it all began, you know.

2) I'm back, in the US, in my kitchen.  Reunited with all of my kitchen tools.  My knife, Spartacus, and I have been dicing onions and slicing carrots just because we can.  Dont even get me started on being with my food processor again.  It's like a family reunion, but I'm the only one talking, and the food is always delicious.

3) Can we talk about the title of this recipe alone?  There are a lot of words.  Loaded words.  Bacon. Peanut Butter.  Chocolate Chips. Cookies.  Individually, each word pings a certain part of your brain that makes it scream "Holy crap YES!"  But now, strung all together, in one cohesive title?  Describing one recipe in which they are all involved?  The world may explode.  "Exceeded Limit of Awesomeness" will read on the headlines.

But, before any armageddon, let's eat these cookies together.



It's not like I have to sell the ingredients in this cookie.  If you don't like bacon, peanut butter, chocolate chips, or cookies, I'm not sure if we should be friends anyway.  All together, these culinary mavens create a decadent sweet/salty/savory/crunch/chew symphony in your mouth that no one should shy away from.

And did I mention that the recipe is silly-easy and is in fact gluten free?  Not that that matters.  All cautions should be checked at the door anyway when taking on these cookies.

Ride that edge of should-this-be-breakfast-or-dessert.  Do not be afraid to eat bacon from a cookie vehicle.  Pour a glass of milk, strap on your seatbelt, and embrace the journey.


Now I'll leave you with the recipe and a nice shot of the Boston Skyline and the Bacon Cookies simultaneously admiring each other.



Bacon Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Note: I also sprinkled some chili powder and cracked black pepper onto my bacon strips to add some smokey/peppery sass to the cookies.  Next time I may try some cayenne/maple action.  The explorations are endless...
There's bacon in your cookies people! Go wild! The sky's the limit!

Adapted from Joy the Baker.

Ingredients 

1 cup all-natural chunky or smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
about 6 slices of bacon, cooked, cooled and diced
1/3 cup chocolate chips

In a skillet over medium high heat, fry up bacon until cooked through and let cool on paper towels until cool enough to dice. Dice up and set aside. (See Note above for additional flavor ideas)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a mixer combine peanut butter and sugars until well combined, about 2 minutes. Add egg and baking soda and mix for another 2 minutes. Fold in cooked bacon and chocolate chips.

Roll dough into large walnut sized balls and create a cris-cross pattern with a fork. If you’d like, roll the dough balls in granulated sugar before making the cris-cross pattern (I recommend the sugar roll). Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on a baking sheet for five minutes.  Consume with mind-blown friends.