Monday, September 2, 2013

Coconut Blueberry Bliss Cake

It’s Labor Day. 

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)

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.


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.