Sunday, January 23, 2011

oatmeal cranberry chocolate spice cookies

When we were in Dubai at Christmas, I made a point of buying a few things at the grocery store that I knew I would never find here in Uganda - one such thing was dried cranberries! I was waiting for the perfect opportunity to use them in something good. This was the lucky recipe. I switched it up a bit by replacing the chocolate chips with Toblerone chunks, thanks to a gift brought to us recently, and the result was perfect! They would also be good with semi-sweet chocolate chips or even without the chocolate at all. (But why anyone would deliberately omit chocolate, I do not know.) I thought it was kinda weird that the recipe calls for shortening and no butter, but it worked and they taste really good.

The recipe makes quite a lot of dough, so I baked half of it and put the other half in the freezer! Because I'm clever that way.

Oatmeal Cranberry Chocolate Spice Cookies
*adapted from i am baker

3/4 C. shortening
3/4 C. brown sugar
3/4 C. white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 C. oats
1 1/2 C. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. all-spice
1 1/2 C. dried cranberries
1 C. chocolate chips (or chunks!)

Cream shortening and sugars. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

In separate bowl, mix oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and all-spice. Beat into wet mixture.

Stir in cranberries and chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.


Friday, January 21, 2011

chocolate ice-cream

We can't buy good ice-cream in Uganda, and even if we wanted to buy the stuff that's not so great, it would be melted by the time we brought it home in the hot car. That's why this latest discovery is super exciting - homemade ice-cream!! Made without an ice-cream maker! In fact, made without cream! I am now obsessed with the thought of the millions of flavours of ice-cream I could experiment with, and I'm kicking myself for not having tried it earlier. And seriously, even if you live in a country where Ben & Jerry's is available within walking distance, you should try this - it's that good!

A few days ago I made vanilla ice-cream with fresh vanilla beans (big success, seriously...I'll post that recipe another time), and yesterday I made chocolate. Mmmm, is all I can say. Mmmm.

Here's the recipe!

Chocolate Ice-Cream
*adapted from David Lebovitz

2 C. milk (I used whole milk)
1/2 C. sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
4 oz. (115 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (I figured out that this is about 7 Tbsp.'s of chocolate chips)*
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

*This was really really chocolaty, which I love, but if you prefer a more subtle chocolate taste you might want to try 5 or 6 Tbsp.'s of chocolate instead of 7. Maybe less cocoa powder too. As for me I will stick to the full on chocolaty awesomeness.

In medium saucepan, warm half the milk with the sugar, salt and cocoa powder. Bring to a full boil and whisk for 30 seconds.

Reduce heat to low and stir in the chocolate until just melted. Remove from heat.

Stir in vanilla and the other half of the milk.

Pour into a shallow glass baking dish (if you're not using an ice-cream maker). Let cool for a while on the counter.

Place dish in the freezer, keeping it flat. After 30 minutes, stir and scrape any frozen pieces away from the edge of the pan. Repeat every 30 minutes until the whole thing is frozen and looks! This part took a few hours for me but it probably depends how cold your freezer is.

Transfer ice-cream to a sealed container and store in the freezer! Then sneak to the freezer throughout the day to sneak small bites. And large bites.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

there's nothing like homemade bread!

I found this recipe for white bread in the February 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living, and I just keep making it over and over! It makes 2 loaves, so usually I put one in the freezer and eat the other one fresh. I love that is has honey instead of sugar...but mostly I just love that it tastes (and smells) so good! The recipe also works great for buns.

Classic White Bread
*from Martha Stewart Living, Feb. 2010

1 Tbsp. plus 1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
2 1/4 C. warm water (not too hot or it will kill the yeast)
3 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. honey
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
7 C. flour
2 Tbsp. coarse salt

1. Sprinkle yeast over 1/2 C. water. Add 2 teaspoons honey, and whisk until yeast dissolves. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add melted butter and remaining 1 3/4 C. water and 3 tablespoons honey. Whisk flour with salt, and add 3 cups to the yeast. Mix until smooth. Add remaining 4 cups flour, one cup at a time, mixing until dough forms a sticky ball.

2. Knead dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, but still slightly tacky (about 5 minutes). Shape into ball. Transfer to a large greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.

3. Let stand in a warm place until dough doubles in volume, about 1 hour. Butter 2 loaf pans. Punch down down and divide in half.

4. Shape dough into 2 loaves and place in pans. Drape with plastic and let rise again, 45 min-1 hour.

5. Bake at 400 for about 45 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. Transfer to wire racks and let cool slightly before turning out loaves.

Enjoy the smell and taste of fresh, homemade bread! Delicious!

Friday, December 31, 2010

candied almonds

Candied Almonds

1 C. sugar
1 C. almonds
2 tsp. cinnamon
coarse sea salt

Place sugar, almonds and cinnamon in a pan over medium heat.

Using a metal spoon (not a wooden spoon, otherwise the caramel will stick!) stir constantly until sugar starts to melt.

Keep stirring...and stirring...and stirring...until the sugar has completely melted into a smooth, sticky caramel and nuts are coated.

Spread nuts over a non-stick surface (wax paper does not count as non-stick...learned that the hard way) and sprinkle with sea salt.

Let cool and then enjoy! (Not the other way around, trust me, you'll burn your mouth. Also learned that the hard way.) This also works great with pecans, which you can then toss into a salad or use as a topping for ice cream!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

brownie bites with peppermint frosting

More Christmas baking! This recipe makes about 2 dozen, but you will probably want to double it...they are chewy, chocolatey, and Christmasy. They can be made without the peppermint flavouring if you're a plain chocolate kind of person.

Brownie Bites
*adapted from Holiday Cheer magazine

3/4 C. sugar
3 Tbsp. melted butter
2 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg white
2/3 C. flour
1/2 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt

Combine sugar, butter, honey, vanilla and egg white. Mix well.

Sift in remaining ingredients to form a sticky dough.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Press to flatten slightly.

Bake at 350 for about 7-8 minutes or until tops of brownies have cracked slightly. Let cool.

Peppermint Frosting

1 C. icing sugar
1 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
2 oz. white chocolate, melted and cooled
candies for topping (optional)

Mix icing sugar, milk and butter until well combined.

Stir in peppermint and melted white chocolate.

Swirl 1 tsp. of frosting on top of cooled brownies. Top with candies...

or leave white!

Monday, November 15, 2010

espresso shortbread

Christmas baking has officially begun in my house! Last week I made molasses cookie dough and put it in the I made espresso shortbread dough which I also put in the freezer but just HAD to make one small batch to see how they taste. Verdict: they taste good. Really, really good. Especially if you like coffee.

I made a change to the original recipe. The original recipe (which calls these cookies 'Piped Coffee Kisses') says to pipe the dough into "Hershey's kiss" shaped drops on a cookie sheet - I tried this but found that the dough was too thick to pass through the icing tip. So instead, I rolled the dough into a log, chilled it, and then sliced it into rounds before baking. They probably don't look as pretty as the kiss shaped drops, but let's face way is faster and easier! And most importantly, they still taste the same.

Espresso Shortbread
*adapted from Canadian Living

1 C. butter, softened
2/3 C. icing sugar
2 tsp. instant espresso powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 C. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
coffee beans for garnish

Cream butter and icing sugar.

In a small bowl, dissolve espresso powder with vanilla. Add to butter mixture and beat well.

Stir in flour and salt. Mix into a soft dough.

Shape dough into a log and refrigerate until slightly firm, 30-60 minutes.

Slice log into thin rounds and place on a greased cookie sheet. Top each cookie with one whole coffee bean. Bake at 350 until golden. Do not over bake!


Friday, November 5, 2010

peanut butter cookies

Why stray from the theme of peanut butter once you're on a roll? These are flourless peanut butter cookies...meaning if you're like me and you ran out of flour and forgot to buy some when you were just at the grocery store, you can make these! In fact, they're worth making even if you do have flour in your kitchen.

Sometimes peanut butter cookies are rolled in sugar before they're baked. These aren't, so I like to tell myself they're healthy. Except I guess the addition of chocolate on top of the cookie cancels out the fact that they're not rolled in sugar.

But they taste good so that's all that counts! Plus, they only took literally 5 minutes to make and 10 minutes to bake. Can't go wrong there!

Peanut Butter Cookies
*adapted from Joy the Baker

1 C. natural peanut butter
1/2 C. sugar
1/2 C. brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. baking soda
chocolate chips or chunks for topping (optional)

Mix the peanut butter with the sugars until well blended. Add the egg and baking soda.

Form into small balls and press in criss-cross pattern with a fork on a greased cookie sheet. (I used to hate the criss-cross pattern. Now I am embracing it.) Add chocolate chips or chunks to the top of each cookie. (I put 3 chocolate chips on each and then realized, after taking them out of the oven, that it looks like eyes and a nose. Or a bowling ball.)

Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Then, eat.