Tag Archives: nuts

Dried Fruit and Seed Crackers

These crackers could be healthy. I mean, they are  if you eat just a few. The problem is that they are just epically good and nearly impossible to stop eating!

The recipe (from Honeycomb) is a long list of good-for-you things like dried fruit, seeds and nuts. Also, it’s lightening quick to put together (though a bit time consuming to freeze and bake twice). I especially like the freezing stage of the process. After baking, you freeze it and then once solid, slice and bake. So brilliant; I would totally make a few loaves at once, freeze them and then slice off only what I need.

I’ve made this a few times and each time I throw in a different combination of fruit and nuts, i.e., whatever I have in my cupboard. This time I went with dried banana chips (homemade from here), raisins, almonds, flax and sesame seeds. Previously, I’ve used coconut flakes, walnuts, cranberries and sesame. Oh, and I never put in the rosemary. I think it would taste nice, but I keep forgetting to pick it up from the store. Next time, I guess!

Just a few tips:

-No buttermilk? Make your own. 1 cup milk plus 4 1/2 tsp lemon juice will give you a little over 1 cup. The full recipe calls for 2.

-Freezing into a completely frozen loaf is hard. Let it thaw ca. 5 minutes. Just don’t leave it out too long–it won’t slice well if it’s too soft.

-Bake time depends on how thin you slice. Mine are always on the thin side, so I usually bake 10-12 minutes on each side.

Here’s the link to the recipe. Enjoy!

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Walnut Raisin Bread

Wow, this bread is seriously good! When I showed it to my friend LazyEaterSF, she was like, “It looks like real bread.” It does, doesn’t it?

I found the recipe on Bakies blog and I believe the original is from British Larder. It’s a great recipe, though  I encountered some difficulties with the amounts, probably due to conversion to cups. Maybe my Recipe Converter app is off. Anyway, this always seems to happen when trying to convert measurements. The dry to liquid ingredients wasn’t right, so I ended up adding about 1 cup more water than was specified. Also, my dough took a lot more time to proof than was stated in the original. This is probably because I don’t have instant yeast and only have active dry at home. In any case, I let the dough proof overnight and then divided it into two and let it rise another 2 or so hours until doubled in size.

I did make a few ingredient changes: used all white flour instead of half wheat, but only because I didn’t have any wheat on hand. I also replaced half the original amount of walnuts with raisins.

*All changes – converted amounts and added ingredients are reflected in the recipe below.

One thing, no, two things I love about this recipe are 1) the poolish or starter or whatever you call it was fast acting  (not overnight) and 2) I could dump all the ingredients into my Kitchen Aid, including nuts and raisin, and leave everything to mix on its own. Super easy.

Apart from measurement conversion issues, the bread is everything I hoped it would be and more! So gorgeously golden and crisp on the outside and light, soft and airy on the inside. I love the additions of the raisins. They give such a nice sweetness to the bread.

Oh, yes, I am definitely making this again.

Enjoy!

Walnut Raisin Bread (converted and adapted from a recipe found on Bakies)

Makes 2 round loaves

INGREDIENTS

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp table salt

3/4 tsp active dry yeast

2 Tbsp honey

2 1/2 cups warm water, divided

1/2 cup walnut halves

1/2 cup raisins

 

1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp water

3/4 cup cold water

METHOD

  1. Place yeast, 1/2 cup flour and honey in a small mixing bowl and add 1/2 cup of the warm water, mix well, cover and leave to prove for 30 minutes in a warm spot or until the mixture starts to bubble. (Mine took about an hour.)
  2. In the bowl of a mixer add the remaining flour, bubbling yeast mixture, walnuts, raisins, salt and the remaining warm water together. Attach the dough hook and mix the bread dough on slow speed for 10 minutes.
  3. Grease a large mixing bowl. Once the dough is ready turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape the bread dough into a smooth ball. Place the smooth bread dough into the greased mixing bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Leave to proof until the dough has risen to double in size. (I left it overnight.)
  4. Dust two baking sheets or pie pans with flour, set aside.
  5. Gently turn the bread dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide the dough into two even halves.
  6. Roll each half into an evenly shaped smooth ball, place each ball onto your already floured trays or pie pans, cover gently with plastic wrap and leave to proof for the second time until nearly double in size.
  7. In the oven, move one of the racks to the very bottom and place an empty baking sheet on top. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  8. Once the dough has risen, brush the risen bread carefully with the egg wash and use a knife to make small cuts at the top of the risen bread. (I just cut a simple “x”.)
  9. Place the baking sheets or pie pans in the preheated oven and pour 3/4 cup of cold water directly into the pan at the bottom of the oven and shut the door quickly. The water will give a burst of steam that will help the loaves to puff and form a golden crust.
  10. After about 10-12 minutes, place a sheet of foil over the bread.
  11. Continue baking the loaves for 35-40 minutes, give the bread a tap at the bottom and if it sounds hollow it means the bread is done. Place the bread onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.

Coconut Pumpkin Pie with an Almond Crust

I better get a move on with all these recipes. Christmas is almost here and I’m still trying to catch upon everything from Thanksgiving! So I’ll keep this post short and sweet.

What: Coconut Pumpkin Pie with an Almond Crust

Where: From 101 Cookbooks

Why it’s special: The filling is made with coconut milk and the edge is lined with roasted almond paste. (The paste SHOULD have been a spread for the crust, but I forgot and only remembered last minute to use it.)

Coconut Pumpkin Pie (recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks and Butter)

INGREDIENTS

Crust (Makes enough for 2)

3 cups plain flour
1/2 cup super fine sugar
1 1/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
2 egg yolks
4 tbsp cold water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Filling

2 cups hazelnuts (divided) , toasted (I used almonds.)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spic
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon arrowroot (or cornstarch)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 extra large eggs PLUS one for glaze, lightly beaten
1 cup coconut milk

METHOD

For the crust

  1. Put the flour, sugar and butter into a food processor or stand mixer. Mix on a low speed until mixture resembles very coarse breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the egg yolks, cold water and vanilla, and process until a dough forms.
  3. Form two disc from the  dough and wrap each separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

For the nut paste

  1. Puree 1 1/2 cups of the toasted hazelnuts in a food processor until they turn into a hazelnut paste, past the ‘crumble’ stage. Set aside.
  2. Chop the remaining 1/2 cup of hazelnuts and set aside separately, these will be sprinkled on top after the pie is baked. (I forgot this entire part and only as an afterthought did I use the paste to line the edge of the pie. Spread on the crust would have been better.)

For the filling

  1. To make the pumpkin pie filling, whisk together the brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice blend, salt and arrowroot. Stir in the pumpkin puree, and vanilla. Now stir in the eggs and coconut milk until just combined. Set aside.

Assembly

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. When you are ready to make your pie, remove one of the discs of pastry from the fridge. (The other you can save for your next pie.)
  2. On a lightly floured surface, or between two sheets of baking paper, roll out the dough until it is big enough to line your pie dish.
  3. Lightly flour the dough and gently roll it up onto your rolling pin. Then unroll it into your pie dish, easing it in and pressing it into any edges. Trim the excess pastry, leaving a 2cm (1 inch) overhang.
  4. Before filling the pie crust, crumble the hazelnut paste on top of the pie dough into the pie plate, quickly and gently press it into a thin layer across the bottom creating a layer of hazelnuts that will sit between the dough and the filling. Using the last egg gently brush the decorative edges of the pie dough. Use a fork to prick the pie dough a few times to prevent air bubbles.
  5. Fill the pie crust with the filling and bake for about 50 minutes – the center of the pie should just barely jiggle when you move the pie – the edges should be set.
  6. Let the pie cool a bit, this makes slicing less messy. Serve straight or with a dollop of bourbon-spiked, sweetened whipped cream or creme fraiche and a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts.

Someone's excited for pie!


Liwi’s Believe in God Brownies

I was in Phoenix visiting my best friend Leah. (Oh! Already 2 months ago!) Our fairy tale began when we were 11 years old, believe it or not. We were both in the middle school band–she played trumpet and I played the clarinet. Maaaany years later, she is still my heart, my Liwi.

Anyway, my weekend desert getaway with Liwi was full of coffee, crosswords, swimming and general bopping around. I even convinced her to bake her  famous “Believe in God” Brownies for me. With a name like that one, you just know these are no ordinary brownies. The recipe calls for 1 cup butter, 4 cups chocolate, 1 cup cream, so you’ll definitely want to save making them for only very special occasions.

White and dark chocolate brownie smothered with creamy, rich ganache and topped with toasted nuts. I’m speechless.

So here is the recipe–from Liwi to me and now me to you.

Believe in God Brownies (recipe courtesy of Leah)

INGREDIENTS

Brownies

1 cup butter

4 squares unsweetened chocolate

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup white chocolate chips

Ganache

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 cups premium chocolate chips

1 to 1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted pecans

METHOD

For the brownies:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 9 by 13 inch baking pan by greasing with butter or spraying with a cooking spray (such as Pam).
  2. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Over low heat add unsweetened chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted.
  3. Remove from heat, mix in sugar (in saucepan). Add eggs and vanilla, stir until incorporated.
  4. Add flour, baking powder, and salt and stir just until combined (be careful not to overwork). Gently stir in white chocolate.
  5. Spread mixture in prepared pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes just until brownies begin to pull away from the sides. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

For the ganache-nut topping:

  1. Over low heat in a medium saucepan, bring heavy cream to just to boiling. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips. Let sit for a few moments in order to melt chocolate. Stir until all chocolate is melted and smooth. Let mixture cool and thicken slightly, stirring occasionally for about 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Spread chocolate ganache over completely cooled brownies.
  3. Press chopped, toasted pecans into the ganache. Let ganache harden and then cut into squares and then into triangles.

Hefeschnecken (Sweet Rolls with Hazelnut-Raisin Filling)

Alright, one recipe for you. (Blogging after being away for such a long time is hard!) Sugary, sticky, pull apart rolls filled with ground hazelnut, grated apple and raisins! In German they’re called “Hefeschnecken” which literally means “yeast snails”. Ick, I prefer my English title. 😀

By the way, the recipe I used is from my favorite Swiss cookbook, Tiptopf. I think it’s the one all the kids use when they learn to cook at school. It’s the best!

Enjoy!

Hefeschnecken (recipe from Tiptopf)

INGREDIENTS

Sweet Dough

300 g flour

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbsp sugar

60 g (2 tbsp) butter, at room temp.

20 g fresh (2 1/4 tsp active dry) yeast

100 ml milk

1 egg

Filling

3 tbsp apricot jam (I used plum)

150 g ground hazelnuts

3 tbsp sugar

1 apple, grated (with peel is fine)

1/2 cup raisins

zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon

4-6 tbsp milk or cream, at room temp.

Glaze

5 tbsp confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp – 1 tbsp water

METHOD

For the dough:

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add the butter, mixing lightly with your fingers until mixture is crumbly.
  2. Stir together yeast and milk. Allow to sit and “activate” for ca. 5 minutes. Then, whisk in the egg.
  3. Make a well in the flour mixture, pour in the wet ingredients and mix, gradually bringing the dry into the wet. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Then cover, put in a warm place and allow it to rest until doubled in size.
For the nut filling:
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together ground nuts, sugar, raisins, grated apple, lemon zest and juice and milk or cream. Note: the filling should be moist, but not runny.
For assembly:
  1. Roll the dough out into a rectangle, 3 mm thick.
  2. Spread the apricot jam over the surface of the dough, followed by the nut filling. Then distribute the raisins evenly over the top.
  3. From one end of the dough, start rolling. Once rolled, hold the outermost dough layer in place and slice into 5 cm thick disks.
  4. Lay the disks cut side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the bottom half of a cold oven. Turn on the heat to 220 C and bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and quickly prepare the glaze.
For the Glaze
  1. When the rolls are about ready to come out of the oven, mix together the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and water until combined.
  2. With a pastry brush, spread evenly over the hot rolls.


Oatmeal Raisin Cookies with Coconut and Walnuts

I avoided oatmeal cookies and all things oatmeal related for many years. Not exactly sure why. Actually, I remember watching a cartoon version of Oliver Twist or some other orphan rags-to-riches story (where all the characters are played by cats). There’s that famous scene in the mess hall in which Oliver asks, “Please, sir, can I have some more”—some more totally gross gruel that plops and slaps onto the plate and then jiggles when it lands. I think from that time, I associated oatmeal and oatmeal cookies, cream of wheat and any kind of breakfast cereal with sad, little Oliver and the grody glop he had to eat.

Some time last year, I decided to get over this fear of breakfast cereal. It’s good stuff. Let’s face it, though, hot oatmeal isn’t pretty—it just looks gross, bubbling and slopping around in the pot—but it’s love food. From your mom, to your kids, to your loved ones and to yourself. Because it’s so good for you. But I’m digressing. I didn’t make oatmeal; I made oatmeal cookies. They’re not exactly good for you (so much sugar and butter), but they are mighty fine and tasty.

The recipe I ended up going with is one from Smitten Kitchen, which I found on The Nerd’s Wife’s website (cute name). It’s half of the original, I believe, which is perfect because one dozen regular sized cookies is plenty. I followed the instructions exactly, except I did everything by hand (being stand mixer-less) and added giant coconut flakes and walnut pieces to the mix. I’ve listed both as optional, but would highly suggest putting them in! More texture, more flavor, you know? Also, I baked for 10 minutes. The cookies were still a bit goopy in the middle, but that’s how they should be. As they cool on the silicon mat, they firm up, at which point you can move them to a rack to cool. My friend Natalie and I couldn’t wait; as soon as they were firm enough, we gobbled them up (one each—we’re not gluttons 😛 )

Anyway, try them. The cookies are soft and chewy and stay that way for a few days.

Enjoy!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies with Coconut and Walnuts (adapted from Smitten Kitchen via The Nerd’s Wife)

printable recipe

Makes one dozen standard-sized cookies.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 oz) butter, softened

2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 large egg, at room temp.

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/4 cups rolled oats

3/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup large coconut flakes (optional)

1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped or broken up with hands (optional)

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the sugars, butter, egg and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, soda, cinnamon and salt.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix well.
  5. Add the oats, raisins, coconut flakes and walnuts; stir together well.
  6. Drop by the tablespoon on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. They should be about two inches apart. (I made two batches of 6 each.)
  7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the edges have just started to turn brown. (They’ll be quite soft and the centers still gooey when they come out, but don’t worry; they should be.)
  8. Let them cool for a bit to firm up before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Torta della Nonna (Italian Grandmother’s Ricotta Tart)

This is bad, and I mean real bad. Because it is too good—too good for New Year resolutions, too good to for a nondescript name like “Grandma’s Pie” and seriously too good to resist.

My 2011 began with such promise. After proclaiming it The Year of the rabbit Me, I made goals like “no more yogurt and cereal for dinner”, “cut back on sugar” and “say ‘yes’ to people and activities that make me happy and ‘no’ to those that don’t.  I am proud to say that breakfast for dinner is no longer a part of my daily life; I also started learning Japanese taiko drumming (this city is seriously the best; you can do/find everything here), I’m joining a choir again, I’m volunteering more in the arts, and I even left the city last weekend to visit a friend. Yes, I crossed to the other side of the bay (very Sex & The City girls go to the Hamptons—too funny since I’m not sure East Bay really counts as a weekend retreat.) Anyway, that’s all good stuff. But sugar. Sugar, sugar, sugar. No gold star for me there.

I knew what I was doing when I made the ricotta cheese; it was for this tart. Very bad. I also knew what I was doing when the next evening I decided to make oatmeal raisin cookies with coconut and walnuts. Again, very bad. (Recipe to follow shortly, of course). I’ve resolved to be better. Starting this week. After my cookie post I have a healthy oven-braised chicken recipe to share.

Now to the tart. It’s another recipe from someone’s grandma, so you know it’s been tried and tested by an Italian grandma somewhere. The pastry recipe I got from Mario Batali via the Food Network, though I’m not sure it’s really from his Nonna. And the filling recipe I took from Cook Almost Anything, and apparently, it’s from her mother. Regardless of origin, both are fantastic.

I went with Mario’s pastry recipe as it required way less fat (as in 3 tbsp each butter and olive oil vs almost 1 cup butter). It was simple to put together and when finished reminded me of pasta dough. As for the filling, I particularly liked the addition of semolina and lemon zest. I added raisins to the mix and the additional handful almonds for topping, but otherwise left the recipe alone. Assembly and baking are pretty standard. The tart will rise a bit while in the oven, especially in my case since my dough was still a bit raw after 35 minutes and I had to bake for an additional 10. One thing worth noting about the dough is that it is not supposed to be too golden, so don’t keep the pie in for too long waiting for the right color because you’ll just over-bake it and end up with a dry custard. In hindsight, I probably should have baked for only an extra 5 minutes as I think my custard would have been a smidgen creamier. Oh well, next time. Overall, though, I’m happy with my efforts! And by the way. I baked it Thursday, and it was gone Sunday night. (And yes, I did share 😛 )

Enjoy!

Torta della Nonna

printable recipe

INGREDIENTS

Pastry (adapted from Mario Batali recipe via Food Network)

2 cups all purpose flour

1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

3 tbsp sweet butter plus 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, melted together

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Filling (adapted from Cook Almost Anything)

1 1/4 cup whole milk

scant 1/2 cup semolina

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1 1/4 cups whole milk ricotta cheese

2 large eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup raisins, optional

handful almond flakes, optional

confectioner’s sugar, optional

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

For the pastry

  1. To make the pastry, make a well in the flour, and place egg, yolks, sugar, butter and olive oil mixture in the center and proceed as you would with fresh pasta, i.e. bring flour in bit by bit until the liquid in the well is thick enough to bring together with your hand. Knead until the dough is smooth, then allow to rest 10 minutes.

For the Filling

  1. Heat the milk in a saucepan until just warm – rain in the semolina, stirring as you do to stop any lumps forming. Add the lemon zest and continue to stir until the mixture thickens and comes away from the side of the pan. Take it off the heat to cool.
  2. Push the ricotta through a fine sieve – this just helps to lighten the mixture. (Skipped this step…no fine sieve.) Place the sieved ricotta into a large bowl, add the eggs, sugar, lemon juice and cooled semolina mixture and using an electric mixer, beat until thoroughly mixed. If using, stir in the raisins now.
  3. Prepare the pastry case: Divide the dough into two—two-thirds for the base and one-third to form the top.
  4. On a well-floured surface, roll the larger piece out to line the base and sides of a loose-bottomed 20 cm/8 inch round pie pan. Make sure the pastry overhangs the lip to make joining the top easier.
  5. Pour the prepared filling into the case, smoothing it out to level the surface. It will rise when it cooks so don’t worry if it doesn’t reach the top of your pie case.
  6. Roll the smaller piece of pastry to form a circle a little larger than the pie pan.
  7. Brush the lip with a little milk before placing the pastry top – press down to make sure the dough sticks and then trim to size.
  8. Lightly brush the top with the milk, a sprinkle of sugar and, if using, a handful of almonds.
  9. Bake in a preheated 350 F for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry is golden and cooked through. (Mine needed 45 because after 35 the dough was still raw. To prevent burning, I covered the pie with a piece of foil with the center cut out.)
  10. Remove from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes in the pan before removing it to a wire rack. At this point, you could dust the top generously with confectioner’s sugar. (I chose not to.)


Zucchini Swirl Bread

It’s freezing outside and they say it’s going to S-N-O-W! I’m a city girl and a big scaredy pants in winter weather! So, with bad weather a-threatening outside and the kitchen so warm and inviting inside, I’m in the mood for baaaaking!

Zucchini bread—it surprises me every time. How can something so green and bitter become so moist and sweet? And how come it doesn’t taste anything like zucchini??? “I don’t know. It’s a mystery!” (Gold star to anyone who knows which film that’s from!) I used a recipe I found on CookWomanFood.com, and the only thing I changed was to add a cream cheese swirl—an excellent addition in my opinion.

Anyway, this was just delightful. No butter—love that (I might even replace the oil with applesauce next time); all my favorite warming spices—hooray for fall; and lots of lots of crunchy bits—I do adore those. 🙂 It’s irresistable; my mama couldn’t stop eating it!!

Enjoy!

Zucchini Swirl Bread (from CookWomanFood.com)

printable recipe

Makes 2 loaves

INGREDIENTS

3 cups flour

1 cup white sugar (I used raw cane)

1 cup brown sugar

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

2/3 cup vegetable oil

4 cups chopped zucchini

3 eggs

1 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds)

1 cup golden raisins (I used regular)

8 oz cream cheese at room temp, plus 1/4 cup sugar, or to taste

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Mix the flour, sugars, baking soda, ground cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.
  3. In a blender, mix together vegetable oil, zucchini and eggs until smooth.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until just combined. Add in raisins and nuts and again, stir in quickly.
  5. Mix together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Set aside.
  6. Fill each loaf pan to half full. Then, spread the cream cheese filling equally among the two pans. Pour the remaining batter into both pans. With a knife or end of a wooden spoon, gently draw a few swirls in the batter to marbleize it.
  7. Bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mocha Muffins

I made these little ones last week—sort of as a last hurrah for my role as housesitter and also because I was mad-craving peanut butter. I think I’d been dreaming about peanut butter for an entire week, but never found a recipe that sounded right. But then I found a good one for Peanut Butter Mocha Muffins on Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body (ha ha, cute). She made my little peanut butter dream come true 🙂

They’re fun to make and easy; crumbly and moist; adorable, chocolaty and whoa-so-peanut-buttery. I don’t taste any coffee flavor in there, but don’t actually miss it. (I also think it’s meant more to deepen the flavor of the chocolate anyhow.) They turned out perfect! I only wish the peanut butter blob on top didn’t look the way it does: it’s the BEST part, but kind of looks like baked brain 😛

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Mocha Muffins (recipe thanks to Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body)

Makes 12. (My muffin molds are smaller, so I ended up with 14.)

INGREDIENTS

2 cups all purpose flour

1 stick (4 oz) butter, room temperature

1/2 cup peanut butter, divided

3/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup cocoa powder (I was a little more generous on the amount)

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 cup brewed coffee, room temp

1/2 tsp salt

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl mix the butter, 1/4 cup peanut butter and sugar with a hand or stand mixer. Add the eggs, vanilla and room temperature coffee. In a separate bowl mix the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the dry mix to the wet mix. Stir only until incorporated. Add about 1/3 cup mix to each muffin tin, filling almost all the way to the top. Top with about 1 tsp of peanut butter.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a fork inserted comes out clean.
  4. Cool for about 5 minutes in the pan then finish cool on a wire wrack.


Cinnamon Raisin Rolls

Oh, man—what a day of distraction! And not because today just happens to be Halloween .I started the day so well, too: drove my sister to work at 7:30 AM (on a Sunday), went for a little jog around the university, showered and was ready to be productive by 9:30. But, somehow, in between writing cover letters and revising resumes, I decided my iTunes playlist needed updating and that my photos needed editing. Fast forward to 2 PM, and I was still futzing around with iTunes. Some people waste countless hours on Facebook; as for me, no longer a part of the FB Community (OMG, drama), all I am left to waste the hours away with are email and iTunes.

At least I baked. That should count for something.

Rolls again. But wait, these are actually pretty good! I did (instead of working) as I usually do when searching for a recipe: I went to Tastespotting and did a quick “bread” search. After a few minutes browsing and ogling all the gorgeous photos, I came across a recipe for Cinnamon Raisin Bread from A Chow Life. I stuck to the recipe, except, because I didn’t want to get my hands dirty, I let my bread machine do all the kneading. The directions described below, however, use the original hand-method. Another thing I changed is that I used almonds instead of walnuts and replaced 1 tbsp of butter with olive oil. (I didn’t want to cut into a second stick of butter.) Finally, as evidenced in the pictures, I made rolls, not a loaf.

I like this. The flavor is warm and spicy from all the butter and cinnamon. The color is also amazing—hello, gorgeous cinnamon speckles. And, the wonderful aroma of sugar and spice and everything nice that takes over the kitchen during baking is seriously in itself almost reason enough to make this.

Enjoy!

Cinnamon Raisin Rolls (slightly adapted from A Chow Life)

INGREDIENTS

1 pkg (or 2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water

1/4 tsp, plus 3 tbsp sugar

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (I used almonds)

5 tbsp butter, melted and cooled to room temp. (I used 4 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil)

1/2 cup water

1 cup raisins

METHOD

  1. Stir the yeast, warm water, and 1/4 tsp sugar together in a small bowl. Let the mixture stand in a warm location until the yeast starts foaming, 5-10 minutes.
  2. Combine the flours, remaining sugar, cinnamon, salt, and walnuts in a large bowl. Stir well. Stir the yeast mixture, butter, and 1/3 cup water into the flour mixture. Then stir in the raisins or work them in by hand. Let stand 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand until it is smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes.
  4. Lightly oil a large bowl and turn the dough in it to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl loosely with a kitchen town and let the dough rise in a warm location until it is doubled in bulk, 45 -60 minutes.
  5. Oil a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. Punch the dough down and shape it into a loaf. Press the loaf into the prepared pan and, again, cover it loosely with a kitchen towel. Let it rise in a warm place until it nearly fills the pan, 45-60 minutes. (Or, if making rolls, I cut and rolled the dough into 13 pieces, placed them on a floured baking sheet, covered and let proof also for about 1 hour.)
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the bread until the top is browned and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped with your finger, 35-40 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool on a rack. (In my case, before baking, I brushed the roll tops with water. Then, I baked for about 28 minutes.)

Look at those speckles! So pretty!