Parmesan-Thyme Focaccia

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I can probably bake cupcakes in my sleep but the thought of baking bread gives me nightmares. After three failed attempts I had almost given up on breads. But like with anything worth having, persistence pays. So does common sense!

Lessons learnt so far- start with simple, basic recipes. Pay attention to technique and the most important one, have patience! Baking bread is so much more rewarding than baking a cake (did I just say that?!) I truly enjoy the process. If you have not done this before, I urge you to give it a shot. It is so worth it!

 

Focaccia is a great place to start. It’s simple and superbly flavorful. You can play around with your choice of herbs and spices. It is a very versatile bread too – you can make sandwiches or just dip it into your favorite soup for a very comforting meal.

You can also bake it in any shape you like. I divided my dough in half after the first rise. Rolled out half into a rectangle to be baked on a sheet tray and sectioned the other half and baked it in my cast iron wedge pan

Yield – One 9 x 14 inch rectangle

Ingredients

  • Warm water (between 110 and 115 F) – 1 and 1/3 cup
  • Honey – 2 tsp
  • Active dry yeast – 1 package (0.25 ounces)
  • All purpose flour – 3 and 1/2 cup + extra as needed
  • Extra virgin olive oil – 1/4 cup plus more for drizzling on the bread
  • Grated parmesan – 1/3 cup
  • Sea salt – 2 tsp
  • Fresh thyme – 6 sprigs (you can use dry too)

Method

  • Take warm water in a bowl. It is advisable to measure the temperature with a thermometer. The optimum temperature for yeast is 110 to 115 F. Add honey to water and stir to dissolve. Sprinkle yeast on top and mix briefly. Set this aside for about 5 minutes till the yeast blooms and the water turns foamy
  •  Use a stand mixer or hand mixer with the dough hook attachment, run it on low speed and gradually add the flour, olive oil, salt and parmesan to the water and yeast mixture. Once it’s all added in run the mixer on medium speed for about 5 minutes
  • If after 5 to 7 minutes, the dough doesn’t pull away from the sides and gather around the dough hooks, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time till it comes together. The dough should not be too sticky
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and gently bring it together into a ball
  • Grease a large bowl and dump the dough ball into it. Now flip the dough ball in the bowl so that the entire ball now has a coating of oil

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  • Cover with a clean kitchen towel or greased cling film and leave it in a warm place to rise. This takes about an hour and the dough will almost double in size
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gently roll it out into a rough rectangle till it is between 1/4 to 1/2 an inch thick. Place it on a greased baking tray, cover with a greased cling film and let it rise again for 15 to 20 minutes

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  • Preheat oven to 400 F or 204 degree Celsius
  • After the dough has risen, poke deep holes all over it with your finger. Drizzle olive oil generously over the entire surface of the dough. Sprinkle thyme and sea salt over the entire dough

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  • Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes. The focaccia will be slightly golden and will easily slide around on the tray when done
  • Slice and serve with more olive oil

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Recipe adapted from Gimme Some Oven

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Baked Churros

That’s right! Baked, not fried.

I’ve been wanting to make a baked version of these insanely addictive treats for quite some time now. My mom absolutely loves them and I so wanted to bake her a batch while she was here, visiting us. But every time we went out to eat she would skip the entree and order a plate of churros for herself. I did not want to double up on those calories so I kept delegating this recipe to the bottom of my baking to-do list.

Then I found the perfect motivation. I made a batch of Smitten Kitchen’s Hot Fudge Sauce. This stuff is indeed the bomb. I want to put it over everything! And what goes better with chocolate sauce than churros?

I mean, just check this out!

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It’s easy to make – half an hour from beginning to end – and it’s something you can easily whip up for company. Best part is, no special equipment needed. Just a saucepan, spatula and some elbow grease!

Let’s get started

Yield – 24 Churros each 4 inches long

Ingredients

  • All purpose flour – 1 and 1/3 cup
  • Large eggs – 3 (at room temperature)
  • Unsalted butter – 1/2 cup (If using salted butter leave out salt from the dry ingredients)
  • Light brown sugar – 1 tbsp
  • Granulated sugar – 2 tbsp
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp
  • Water – 1 cup
  • Vanilla extract -1 tsp
  • Granulated sugar with 1 tsp of nutmeg or cinnamon for dusting finished churros – 1/3 cup

Method

  • Preheat oven to 400 F or 205 degree Celsius
  • Add butter, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, salt (if using) and water to a medium sized saucepan and place it on medium heat. Stir occasionally till the sugars and butter melt completely
  • Let the liquid come to a boil and then take it off the heat
  • Add in the vanilla extract and flour to the hot liquid and stir vigorously till a smooth dough is formed and it begins to gather around the spatula
  • Make a well in the center of the dough and and the first egg. Stir vigorously again till the egg is completely incorporated. It takes a couple of minutes. You will see the dough getting smoother and shinier after the egg is mixed in
  • Mix the other two eggs one at a time stirring thoroughly after each addition. Here’s a visual guide. The image on the right was taken after the three eggs were added

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  • Fill the dough into a piping bag fitted with a wide open star tip and pipe the dough in straight lines on a parchment lined sheet tray. I piped them about 3.5 to 4 inches long

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  • Spray or lightly brush the piped dough with oil. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes
  • When done the churros will be crisp and golden brown on the outside and will slide around easily on the tray
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes
  • Take granulated sugar and nutmeg (or cinnamon) in a wide bowl and mix. Toss warm churros in the sugar till they are lightly coated. Serve!

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Notes – These churros are best eaten fresh, right out of the oven. You can dip them in any sauce of your choice – melted chocolate, salted caramel, fudge – all work great! If you want to make these churros in advance, cool them and store in an airtight container. Just before serving, warm them in a preheated oven at 350 F or 180 degree Celsius for 5 minutes and then toss them in the sugar – nutmeg mixture 

Recipe adapted from Cookie Dough and Oven Mitt

Fig Loaf

When your toddler refuses to get within 10 feet of anything that even remotely resembles a berry or dried fruit, you grumble a bit, blame it on her daddy’s genes and then, if you’re like me, you get baking. I find loaf cakes are excellent for camouflaging all kinds of those ‘too healthy to eat’ ingredients that your toddler and/or husband actively avoid. That’s how this Fig Loaf came to be.

It’s extremely easy to make. It goes excellently well with tea or coffee and it makes a great breakfast too! I like it lightly toasted with some chocolate spread and sprinkles on top. Now tell me that didn’t entice you!

This recipe requires you to make a fig puree or ‘jam’. You then add this puree to the batter which gives the loaf cake its pure fig-ey taste. It is a simple process that takes about 10 minutes start to finish.

If you want to forget about the loaf cake and just settle down with a bowl of this and a spoon, that’s okay too. I won’t mind.

UPDATE! I tried baking this recipe with Aquafaba, which is basically water in which chickpeas have been cooked, with fantastic results. Just substitute the egg in this recipe with 3 tbsp of aquafaba and follow the recipe as is. It turns out perfect as you can see from these mini loaves

Ingredients

  • All purpose flour – 1 and 1/2 cups
  • Baking soda – 1 and 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp
  • Egg – 1 large
  • Oil – 1/3 cup (Any neutral oil will do. No olive oil)
  • Granulated sugar – 3/4 cup (Can increase to 1 cup for more sweetness)
  • Buttermilk – 1/4 cup
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips – 1/3 cup
  • Chopped dried figs – 1 heaping cup
  • Brown sugar – 1 tbsp
  • Lemon juice – 1 tsp
  • Water – 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla essence – 1 tsp

Method

First we make Fig Puree

  • In a small saucepan combine figs, brown sugar, lemon juice and vanilla essence and cook over medium low heat. Once the sugar has melted add the water to the figs and cook them down, stirring occasionally. Make sure the figs don’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn
  • Once the figs turn mushy and begin to break down, take the pan off the heat and allow to cool. Puree the fig mixture, using very little water if necessary, to form a chunky ‘jam’. Set aside

Now onto the bread

  • Preheat oven to 350 F or 180 degree Celsius
  • Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside
  • In another bowl whip the egg using a hand blender till it turns frothy
  • Add the sugar to the egg and whip till the mixture becomes very pale and fluffy. This takes 2 to 3 minutes
  • Now add the oil and the fig puree to the egg-sugar mixture and whip till it is thoroughly combined
  • Next add half the flour mixture and whip briefly to combine
  • Add in all the buttermilk and whip again
  • Add the remaining half of the dry ingredients and whip till it is all incorporated
  • Using a spatula gently mix in the chocolate chips and make sure there are no streaks of flour in the batter
  • Pour the batter into a greased and floured loaf pan till it is 2/3 full
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes. At the 30 minute mark, check on the loaf cake. If the top is too dark, tent the loaf pan with foil and continue to bake till it is done. This ensures that the top doesn’t burn while the cake bakes
  • The loaf cake is done when a tester inserted into it comes out clean or with very few crumbs attached.
  • Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes on a cooling rack
  • Gently invert the pan onto the cooling and let the cake slide out and then allow it to cool completely

NOTES – I used a 7.5×3.5×2.5 inches loaf pan and had a bit of batter left over that made 3 small cupcakes. Every oven is different. Keep an eye on your loaf cake after the 30 minute mark to make sure it doesn’t over bake. Store the loaf cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Then store it in the fridge.

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This recipe is based on the Fresh Fig Bread recipe over at thespruce.com

Biscotti has always been popular. With me. I found it puzzling then, that I had not bothered to dedicate even a single post to the perfect coffee companion. The situation had to be remedied.

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I intend to bake a batch every few weeks in the name of recipe testing and if I’m able to hold on to them long enough to take a few pictures, I intend to blog about them too!

I was so excited with the way this batch turned out that I immediately invited a couple of friends over for a session of coffee and taste testing. Huge success!

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When, after downing a couple of biscottis each, they showed no signs of slowing down I grew alarmed. I had to snatch the tray out of their hands and escort them to the door. HA! That saved the day and this blog post.

It’s super simple. Just cream butter and sugar together, add the eggs and whip until fluffy.

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Add the dry ingredients and the chocolate chips and mix just until combined. Shape into a log and bake.

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 Cool and then slice the log.

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Bake again till done. Don’t let the double baking scare you. It’s easier than it looks.

Make it but don’t invite any friends over. At least not the first time.

Ingredients

  • Salted butter at room temperature – 6 tbsp (If using unsalted butter add 3/4 tsp salt to the dry ingredients)
  • Granulated sugar – 3/4 cup
  • Large eggs – 2
  • Vanilla extract – 1/4 tsp
  • Instant coffee powder or strong brewed coffee – 1 tsp
  • All purpose flour – 1 and 1/4 cup
  • Almond flour – 3/4 cup
  • Cocoa powder – 1/2 cup
  • Baking soda – 1 tsp
  • Semi sweet chocolate chips – 3/4 cup

Yield – 20 cookies

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350 F or 175 degree Celsius
  • Cream butter and sugar together with a mixer until light and fluffy
  • Add the eggs in one at a time and whip well after each addition
  • Mix the instant coffee powder with a teaspoon of water and add it to the sugar-butter-egg mixture along with the vanilla. Whip briefly to combine
  • In a separate bowl add the all purpose flour, almond flour, cocoa powder and baking soda and combine with a fork or whisk
  • Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in three batches mixing well after each addition
  • Fold in the chocolate chips using a spatula
  • Line a cookie tray with parchment paper or foil or a silpat mat. Dump the dough onto the tray and shape it into a log approximately 12×4 inches
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes. The log will develop cracks on top and should be firm to the touch
  • Cool the log on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes
  • Carefully slice the log at an angle into 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick slices. You’ll get approximately 20 slices. It is okay if the insides are still a little soft
  • Transfer the slices back to the cookie sheet carefully. Place them cut side down in rows and bake in the oven for 5 to 6 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake again for another 5 minutes until the slices are firm
  • Transfer them onto a cooling rack to cool completely before storing them in an airtight container

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Recipe adapted from the chocolate biscotti recipe at Chocolate Chocolate and More

This one is for you and only you. No sharing necessary. In fact it is best eaten in solitude, at the end of a long day, when you want to reward yourself for being the awesome superhero that you are.


Wait till the kids are sound asleep.  Tackle all your chores for the night. You really want this to be the absolute last thing you do before you hit the bed. Then spend just 20 minutes putting this together. It’s totally worth it. I have made it a gazillion times already and it never gets old!

As easy as 1-2-3. Tossed chopped apple in a butter sugar mixture.


Make the crumb topping.


Top apples and bake!


Soft, gooey apples in a sweet caramel sauce topped off with a buttery crumble. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you’re in dessert heaven. It’s a magical combination of comfort food and guilty pleasure.


If you must share, this recipe can be easily doubled.

Ingredients

  • Apple chopped into small pieces – 1/4 cup
  • Salted butter – 1/2 tbsp
  • All purpose flour – 1 tsp
  • Milk – 2 tsp
  • Vanilla extract – 1/2 tsp
  • Light brown sugar – 1 tbsp

For the crumb topping

  • All purpose flour – 2 tsp
  • Oats – 1 tbsp
  • Light brown sugar – 1 tbsp
  • Baking powder – a pinch (approx 1/8 tsp)
  • Cold salted butter – 1/2 tbsp

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 375 F or 190 degree C
  • First the topping – Mix all the dry topping ingredients in a small bowl and add the butter. Using a fork or your fingers gently mix the butter into the dry ingredients. It should all be evenly combined but you should still be able to see bits of butter. Refrigerate this mixture while you get the apples ready. This will make sure the butter in the crumble mix doesn’t melt
  • Chop apple into bite sized pieces and set aside. I like to peel the apple first
  • Melt butter in the microwave in a small ramekin or oven safe cup. This is what I have and I love them!
  • Add all purpose flour, milk, vanilla and sugar and mix until smooth. This turns into a delicious caramel sauce
  • Add the apples to this mixture and toss to combine
  • Top with the crumble mixture
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes
  • The apple crisp is done when the crumble topping is nice and golden and you can see the sauce gently bubbling near the surface
  • Allow it to cool for about 5 minutes. Top with ice-cream and dig in!


My toddler is a cookie addict. If she could have her way she’d have cookies for breakfast every single day. Now, I could get behind that sentiment too but I’m sure I’m just one chocolate chip cookie away from busting out of my new pair of jeans. Sigh!

I’ve been looking high and low for a low cal cookie recipe that also tastes delicious. I wanted a light cookie but just didn’t want it to taste like it was diet friendly – you get me?


This cookie fits that job description perfectly! It’s light, delicate, sweet, crisp on the outside and soft and chewy inside. Gluten free. No butter. No oil. In other words – a dream come true!

Bonus – it’s unbelievably easy to make.

Just mix almond flour, sugar and zest in a bowl


Whip egg white and vanilla extract mixture to soft peaks


Fold egg white into flour mixture and scoop onto a cookie sheet. See those little orange flecks? Beautiful flavor!


Although these cookies are fantastic by themselves, something about their pointy ends made me want to dip them in dark chocolate. Yeah! That was a good move!

The cookies were gone in under 24 hours  You’ll definitely want to double this recipe.

Ingredients

  • Blanched Almond Flour – 1 cup
  • Granulated sugar – 3 tbsp
  • Orange zest – 1/4 tsp approx (zest of a small orange)
  • Large egg white – 1
  • Vanilla extract – 1/2 tsp
  • White distilled vinegar – 1/2 tsp
  • Chocolate chips – 1/3 cup (optional)
  • Unsalted butter – 1/2 tbsp (optional)

Yield – 18 small cookies

Method

  • Preheat oven to 325 F or 162 degree Celsius
  • In a mixing bowl combine almond flour, granulated sugar and orange zest and set aside
  • Take vinegar in a separate (clean!) bowl and with a paper towel wipe down the entire bowl with the vinegar. This makes sure your egg whites whip up well
  • Add the egg white to this bowl along with the vanilla extract and whip with a whisk or hand blender till you get soft peaks
  • Add this egg white mixture to the almond flour mixture and combine gently with a spatula. It will look crumbly initially but it will come together
  • Scoop a teaspoon of the dough and using a second teaspoon form a quenelle shaped cookie by going back and forth between the two spoons. I was not too successful, as you can see. You can just form small balls of the dough and flatten them slightly on the cookie sheet
  • Space the cookies about an inch apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake in a preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes
  • The cookies will not spread. The cookies are done when they turn golden brown around the edges
  • Allow them to cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes and  then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely
  • Optional glaze – Melt the chocolate chips and butter over a double boiler or in the microvave. Stir until smooth. Dip each cookie into the chocolate and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet till the chocolate sets


These cookies are of course, best eaten fresh but you can store them at room temperature in an airtight container for a few days. Anything longer than 3 days, I would recommend storing them in the refrigerator as they tend to get soft.

Recipe adapted from Almond Cookies over at Taste Love and Nourish

 

 

 

 

 

 


There’s no story to tell here this time. No fancy bursts of inspiration. No dreaming up of recipes. No late night baking experiments to talk about. The chain of events in this case was pretty straightforward.

Want doughnuts – Bake doughnuts – Eat doughnuts


Preferably in multiples of 2

Fortunately this batch makes just 9 doughnuts so I narrowly managed to avoid doughnut induced coma when I made these a couple of weeks ago. 

Has it really been that long? Nearly doughnut making time again, yikes!

I have a pretty good chocolate doughnut recipe – can’t believe I haven’t blogged about it yet. But my experiments with a vanilla version have been less than satisfactory. So I picked up a recipe online that made the most sense to me and went with it. So Good!!


Try it once and you’ll find yourself making this over and over again. I do think this makes a great base recipe. Substitute sprinkles with something else and it should work great!

Yield – 9 doughnuts

Special equipment – 6 cavity doughnut pan

Ingredients

Doughnuts

  • All purpose flour – 1 cup
  • Granulated sugar – 1/3 cup
  • Baking powder – 1 tsp
  • Baking soda – 1/4 tsp
  • Nutmeg powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Milk – 1/4 cup  (I used 2%)
  • Yogurt – 1/4 cup
  • Egg – 1 large
  • Butter – 2 tbsp melted and cooled
  • Vanilla extract – 1 1/2 tsp
  • Rainbow sprinkles – 3 tbsp

Glaze

  • Icing sugar – 2 cups
  • Milk – 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla extract – 1 tsp

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350 F or 175 degree Celsius. Grease and flour your doughnut pan
  • Add all the dry ingredients, including the sugar, to a bowl and whisk to combine
  • In a separate bowl whisk milk, yogurt and the egg together till fully combined. I used a handheld mixer but a whisk will work just as well
  • Add the melted and cooled butter along with vanilla to this mixture and whisk thoroughly until combined and smooth
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Using a rubber spatula mix together gently until just combined. Do not over mix
  • Fold the sprinkles into the batter at the very last minute to avoid the colors bleeding
  • Using a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle pipe the batter into the moulds until they’re 3/4 full. You can use a ziplock bag with the end snipped off. You can even spoon it into the moulds carefully. However, I find the piping bag to be the fastest and most efficient way to go about it
  • Bake for 8 to 10 minutes till the tops are set and the edges start to turn golden brown. Make sure to check at the 8 minute mark. The difference between a soft doughnut and a hockey puck is just 30 seconds! You can insert a toothpick to check if it’s done. It should come out clean
  • Allow the doughnuts to cool in the pan for a couple of minutes then tip them out onto a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely
  • Glaze: Add all the ingredients to a small saucepan and warm over medium-low heat, whisking continuously until it is combined and smooth
  • Remove from heat
  • Dunk cooled doughnuts in the warm glaze. Swirl each doughnut around a bit to make sure it gets an even coat of glaze and return to the cooling rack set over a tray to catch all the spills. Once the glaze has set a bit dunk them in again. Yes, two layers of glaze. Makes all the difference!
  • Top with additional sprinkles


These doughnuts are best eaten fresh. You can store them in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of days. But you should refrigerate or freeze them if you intend to keep them longer. Though I can’t imagine why you’d want to do that  😉

 Recipe adapted from the wonderful blog: Sally’s Baking Addiction

The Best Oatmeal-Choc Chip Cookies Everrr!

So I sat down to (finally) begin my carrot cake blog post. You know the little adorable mini-loaves I posted on Instagram almost a month ago? I was so smitten that I promised on multiple social media platforms to post a recipe as soon as I could put the loaf down to take a breath. I mean, I meant well and truly wanted to share the recipe with the whole wide world (not that the world was missing a carrot cake recipe but one more definitely doesn’t hurt right?) I told all my friends about it and bragged and bragged…..

Yeah….about that. I had a complete and total brain-fart *sigh*

I couldn’t locate the original recipe. I looked and up and down my browser history and finally found something that was vaguely familiar but then I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember the tweaks that I had made. So I gave up the quest and turned instead to the mother of all comfort foods – COOKIES!


Now this is more of a review, or a tribute if you will, to the original recipe. I went completely out of character and followed the recipe without changing a thing! Okay confession – I did pulse the oats a little bit, just a tiny little bit to make it more toddler friendly but that’s it!

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Perfect distribution of chocolate chips!
It’s like this. When a recipe like has 90K re-pins on Pinterest you just don’t argue with it. You stop whatever it is that you’re doing or plan to do, prop your iPad up on its stand and follow every word of the recipe to a ‘t’ to whip up an insanely awesome batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

The only painful part of this recipe is the chilling time the dough needs. I always overcome this difficulty by making a batch at night, shoving it in the fridge and promptly going to bed. Waiting is much easier when you’re sleeping AND you get to eat cookies for breakfast!!

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Ready for some? Here goes

Ingredients

  • Old-fashioned rolled oats – 1 and 1/2 cups
  • All purpose flour – 3/4 cup
  • Baking soda -1/2 tsp
  • Mini semi-sweet chocolate chips – 1/2 cup You can up this to 1 cup for more chocolaty goodness!
  • Salted butter – 1/2 cup or 1 stick You can use unsalted butter. Just add a pinch of salt to the dry ingredients if you do
  • Light brown sugar – 1/2 cup packed
  • Granulated sugar – 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla extract – 1 tbsp
  • Large egg – 1

Yield – About 24 to 30 depending on size

Method

  • Pulse oats in a food processor briefly just until the large grains have been broken down a bit. Be careful not to grind it to a flour. You want the cookies to have enough texture
  • Combine oats with the flour and baking soda in a bowl and whisk to mix
  • In another bowl beat the egg, sugars and vanilla extract with an electric mixture until it turns light and fluffy and increases in volume. This takes about 5 minutes. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl in between
  • Add the dry ingredients and beat briefly just until combined
  • Add the chocolate chips and beat on low speed for about half a minute. I used half a cup of mini chocolate chips because that’s all I had. I’m sure 1 whole cup of chips will be even more divine!
  • Using a tablespoon measure, measure out the cookie dough and roll it into a ball in your hands. Flatten it slightly and place it on a greased tray or cookie sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Cover the cookies with a clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. I left a batch in for 6 days and they were just fine
  • When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit or  176 degree Celsius
  • Place chilled cookies about 2 inches apart (they do spread) and bake for 12 minutes until they begin to brown at the edges. You can bake them for a few minutes more if you want firmer cookies
  • Remove them from the oven and let them cool. They’ll firm up further after cooling.
  • Store in an airtight container or freeze

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All done! Now rejoice at the thought of having a jar full of these beauties on your counter 🙂

Adapted from http://www.averiecooks.com – http://www.averiecooks.com/2014/11/the-best-oatmeal-chocolate-chip-cookies.html

Banana Bread with style!

Who doesn’t make banana bread, right? It’s almost the only thing that pops into your head when you spot over ripe bananas. But the thing is, it can get pretty boring pretty quickly. Frankly, I get bored just making it sometimes.

So when my toddler, who usually inhales anything with even a hint of sweetness about it, walked right past a slice of warm chocolate chip banana bread last week, I knew it was time to give this menu staple a makeover!

Loaf 1

Simply Recipes has a fantastic banana bread recipe that I use as a base for all my experiments. Turns out great every time! For this round, I replaced most of the APF with whole wheat flour and added pureed berries to the batter. Total yum!

Loaf 2

How good does that look! Here’s how it’s done

Ingredients

  • Whole wheat flour – 1 cup
  • All purpose flour – 1/2 cup
  • Baking soda – 1 tsp
  • Bananas – 2
  • Melted butter – 1/3 cup
  • Granulated sugar – 1/2 cup
  • Egg – 1
  • Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
  • Milk – 2 tbsp
  • Blueberries – 1/4 cup
  • Blackberries – 6
  • Maple syrup – 1 tbsp

Note 1: I used salted butter. If using unsalted butter add 1/2 tsp of salt to the dry ingredients.

Note 2: You could any combination of berries you like. I used what I had in my freezer. This recipe makes more than you need. Store the leftover puree in the fridge. You could even use a berry jam instead of making your own. 

Method

  • Make the berry puree first: Add the berries, maple syrup and a tsp of water to a small saucepan and cook it on medium low heat, stirring regularly, till the berries soften and disintegrate. Add another tsp of water if you see the berries beginning to stick to the bottom of the pan. Once cooked down, cool the berries and puree them in a blender. Set aside.

Berry puree

  • Preheat oven to 350 F or 180 degree Celsius. Grease and flour a loaf pan. I used an 8×4 inch pan
  • In a big mixing bowl, mash the bananas with a fork till they become smooth and creamy. You should get approximately 3/4 cup of puree
  • Add the baking soda and salt (if using) and whisk briefly
  • Add the egg, sugar and vanilla extract and whisk to combine
  • Add both the flours and whisk till there are no dry streaks. Do not over mix
  • Add about half of the batter to the loaf pan. Add two or three tsps of the berry puree at multiple spots on the batter and swirl with a toothpick. Make sure not to swirl too much or the berry streaks will disappear
  • Add the remaining batter to the pan and top with a few more tsps of berry puree and swirl with a toothpick

Loaf pre-bke

  • Bake in a preheated oven for 55 minutes.
  • Check the loaf about halfway through and turn the pan around to ensure even baking
  • At the 40 minute mark, once you see the top of the loaf has browned, cover the top with foil and continue to bake till done. This prevents the top from burning and helps it retain that lovely golden brown color
  • At the 55 minute minute mark insert a toothpick or cake tester into the loaf to check. It should come out clean with maybe a few moist crumbs attached. The sides of the loaf should begin to pull away from the pan
  • Cool the banana bread in the pan on a cooling rack for about half an hour
  • Carefully remove the loaf from the pan and place it back on the rack to cool completely
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days.

Slice 1

This loaf is not too sweet. A generous dollop of the berry puree slathered onto a slice of this banana bread just kicks it up a notch! You must try it!

Slice 2

If you do give this one a shot let me know how it turned out! Can’t wait to hear all about it 🙂

Strawberry Orange Muffins

This was kind of a no-brainer. I had my eyes on a strawberry muffin recipe that looked totally tweak worthy and I knew that I wanted to add orange to it. I had not tried the combination before but it felt right. 


 Two batches later, let me tell you…..it’s totally, deliciously, absolutely right! Try it out for yourself! The orange glaze is optional however. You can save it for when you feel like giving yourself a little treat. The muffin still tastes great without it.

My only concern with this recipe is – it’s not exactly ‘healthy’. You hear ‘muffin’ and think that this is a health-food version of a cupcake, something that you can wolf down in twos and threes and still be able to get on your weighing scale without an overwhelming feeling of dread. Well yeah, there’s no frosting so it is a wee bit better – but it still has a good quantity of butter and all purpose flour and sugar. So for my third batch, I want to try some substitutions and see how that goes. Hopefully it will be successful enough to earn its own blog post!

This is a very versatile recipe. It can be had for breakfast, as an afternoon tea time snack or for dessert. As an added bonus, this recipe is toddler certified. I got 11 cupcake sized muffins. It should give you about 6 regular sized muffins.

UPDATE: I used blood orange zest and juice for the second iteration and I think it’s even better! Aaannndddd……the muffins taste so much more strawberry-orangey the next day, believe it or not. WIN! 

  
Blood oranges give the glaze a beautiful pink hue! 

Adapted from Strawberry Muffins over at Garnish and Glaze

Ingredients

Muffins

  • All purpose flour – 1 and 1/2 cups
  • Baking powder – 1 and 1/4 tsp
  • Baking soda – 1/4 tsp
  • Salted butter – 5 tbsp at room temperature*
  • Granulated sugar – 1/2 cup
  • Egg – 1
  • Freshly squeezed juice of half a regular sized orange (You can use blood oranges. See update above)
  • Orange zest – 1 tsp
  • Yogurt – 1/4 cup
  • Milk – 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
  • Diced frozen strawberries – 3/4 cup You can use fresh strawberries too

*If using unsalted butter add about 1/4 tsp of salt to the dry ingredients 

Glaze – 1 cup icing sugar and juice of half an orange

Method

  • Preheat oven to 400F or 200 Degree Celsius. Line a muffin tray with liners and set aside
  • Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a bowl. Mix with a whisk until thoroughly combined
  • In another bowl, mix together orange juice, orange zest, vanilla extract, yogurt and milk and set it aside
  • In a large bowl, using a mixer, cream butter and sugar together until it turns pale and fluffy. This usually takes 3 to 5 minutes
  • Add the egg and mix again until thoroughly combined
  • Add half the flour mixture and mix on very low speed until just combined. It’s ok if there a few dry streaks. You do not want to over mix the batter
  • Add the wet ingredients and mix briefly. Then add the rest of the flour mixture and mix until combined
  • Using a spatula, gently fold in the strawberries
  • Using an ice cream scoop fill all the liners till about 3/4 full. You can also stud the top of these muffins with additional diced strawberries to make them look prettier
  • Bake in a preheated oven for about 12 to 15 minutes. Check for doneness at the 12 minute mark. The muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean with a few moist crumbs attached
  • Leave them in the pan for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool thoroughly
  • For the glaze – take the icing sugar in a bowl and add orange juice to it 1 tsp at a time. Stir after each addition. The glaze should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and drip off slowly
  • Dip a cooled muffin into the glaze. Rotate it gently to coat the entire surface and then twirl it to remove the excess. Place on a wire rack set over a tray to catch drips. Eat immediately or wait for the he glaze to harden

Enjoy!!