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The Buckeye State Ice Cream

March 19, 2015

There are few things I enjoy as much as ice cream. If it were acceptable, I would eat ice cream for every meal… I would have severe health issues after a while, but dammit, I would be happy for the first few weeks!

 

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After purchasing a European KitchenAid for 3x the price of my American one, I was STOKED to learn they used the same attachments so I didn’t have to spend even more money on replacement parts. Unfortunately, this was not the case, which I quickly learned last year when making my first batch of ice cream… Long story short, what should have been a 30-minute machine-churning process turned into  60-minute hand-churning mess. I felt justified to eat the entire batch of ice cream, which was nice, but I never got around to make any other flavors last year, which was heartbreaking.

 

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Fortunately, Tony is a wise man and he knows that in order to keep me happy, I need ice cream… I knew he was a keeper when he would always save the last bite of ice cream for me– THAT is true love. Anyway, last week he surprised me with the European KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment and it is safe to say that this is the best gift ever. The gift that keeps on giving! I was so excited that I stayed up the next three nights until the wee morning hours revising and adding to my “Ice Cream Flavors” list.

 

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Normally, I reserve ice cream making season for summer; it’s a food policy of mine, like never ordering chicken or pasta at a restaurant (with the exception of dining out in Italy), never ordering Pumpkin Spice Lattes until they’re served in seasonal cups, or never posting photos of unmanicured hands holding food. But since I have an excessively long list of potential ice cream flavor combinations (that I didn’t even get to touch last year!), I figured I should take advantage of the head-start… This situation might get sticky.

 

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I started this year’s ice cream season with The Buckeye State from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. The pairing of The Buckeye State and Salty Caramel is my all-time favorite Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream combinations, it is the perfect combination of sweet and salty. When I first got her cookbook, I attempted to make Salty Caramel and ended up burning the caramel… damn dry-burn technique… so for the sake of creating new flavors I made The Buckeye State ice cream and it is absolute perfection.

Although, I wouldn’t consider myself a Buckeye State fan, those people are actually insane, I will always support the winning combination of peanut butter and chocolate. I personally looooove this flavor because it’s a subtle peanut butter flavor with a touch of honey and flecks of dark chocolate.

 

The Buckeye State Ice Cream from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home:

2 cups whole milk

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch

1½ ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened

½ cup unsalted natural peanut butter

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

1¼ cups heavy cream

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 tablespoons honey

4 ounces chocolate (50% to 70% cocoa), chopped

  1. To make the ice cream, mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese, peanut butter, and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
  2. Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, corn syrup, and honey in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes precisely. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
  3. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  4. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
  5. Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and begin to spin the ice cream. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Remove from the heat and let cool until tepid but still fluid.
  6. When the ice cream is thick and creamy and almost finished, drizzle the melted chocolate slowly through the opening in the top of the ice cream, machine and allow to solidify and break up in the ice cream for about 2 minutes.
  7. Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment paper directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least four hours.

Irish Car Bomb Brownie Sundaes

March 16, 2015

St. Patrick’s Day is always a huge deal in Chicago. After months of frigid temperatures and polar vortexes, people emerge from hibernation and seem to forget they live in Chiberia for the day. There’s a parade, they dye the river green, there are open bars everywhere, and everyone dresses in costume, or at least in green, and generally just gets sloppy in the streets of Chicago by 12 in the afternoon… It’s a beautiful disaster.

If you’re lucky, you’ll make it back to the Celtic Knot in Evanston for Snakebites (one part cider, one part lager, and topped with a touch of blackcurrant), beer-battered chicken fingers, and chips with a homemade Guinness BBQ sauce and creamy blue cheese-ranch dipping sauce… I won’t judge if you mix the two together.

 

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My last St. Patrick’s Day was a relatively tame one as we had just moved to Italy the month before and we didn’t really have friends that we felt comfortable being jack-asses with at that point… But this year, I plan on pulling out all the big stops for our St. Patrick’s Day celebration… Starting with day drinking at one of Florence’s greatest/only Irish pub, The Lion’s Fountain, and then ending the night with Irish Car Bomb Brownie Sundaes at home…. As much as I would love to eat a bunch of beer-battered chicken fingers after a day of drinking, I thought attempting to make them drunkenly didn’t seem like the wisest idea. Too much spitting oil. Dessert it is!

 

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My original plan was to make Guinness Brownies for our little soiree, but on one particularly uneventful day, I thought of including the unopened bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream I had hanging around, which led to my next ingenious idea of using Jameson Irish Whiskey somehow for a very festive Irish Car Bomb dessert. My final product was an Irish Car Bomb Brownie Sundae complete with Guinness Brownies, Bailey’s Irish Cream Hot Fudge Sauce, and Jameson Irish Whiskey Caramel Sauce.

 

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I typically steer clear of Guinness beer or any beer darker than a pale ale for that matter… and whiskey of all types (Fireball has a special place in hell). However, it is St. Patrick’s Day and I’m willing to make an exception for brownie sundaes. The beer makes the brownies exceptionally light, rich, and fudgy while the Irish Cream Hot Fudge Sauce and Irish Whiskey Caramel give a creamy, thick, and boozy enhancement to a perfectly delicious brownie sundae.

 

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Bottoms Up!

Irish Car Bomb Brownies Sundaes recipe by The Bite-Sized Baker:

Guinness Brownies:

1 ¼ cup all purpose flour

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

½ cup of butter, room temperature

½ cup Guinness Beer

4 eggs, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar, packed

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

Bailey’s Irish Cream Hot Fudge Sauce recipe by Half-Baked Harvest:

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup Bailey’s Irish Cream

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped and divided

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Jameson Irish Whiskey Caramel Sauce:

½ cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 tablespoons water

¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

¼ cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ cup Jameson Irish Whiskey

  1. To make the brownies, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9×13” pan with parchment paper. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Set aside. In a double boiler, melt 6 ounces of chocolate and stir until smooth. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, add beer, and stir to combine. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip butter and sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and beat until incorporated. Alternate between adding the dry ingredients and cooled chocolate on low speed until just combined. Be careful to not overmix! Fold in the chocolate chips. Spread the batter into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack and cut into squares.
  2. To make the hot fudge sauce, stir together cocoa powder, brown sugar, Bailey’s Irish Cream, salt and half of the chocolate (3 ounces). Place in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until chocolate is melted. Cook mixture at a low boil, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, add remaining chocolate, butter and vanilla and stir until smooth. Any leftover sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container, then reheat over low heat, stirring frequently.
  3. To make the caramel sauce, stir sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until deep amber color forms, 5–6 minutes. Remove from heat and gradually add heavy cream (mixture will bubble vigorously). Whisk over medium heat until smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and salt and stir to combine. Stir in whiskey until sauce is smooth. Set aside. Any leftover sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container, then reheat over low heat, stirring frequently.
  4. To assemble, place brownies in individual bowls, divide ice cream, and drizzle hot fudge sauce and caramel sauce evenly among bowls.

 

 

Krantz Cake

March 12, 2015

Truthfully, I only wanted to bake Krantz Cake because I fell in love with the photos when I first picked up a copy of Jerusalem: A Cookbook. In reality, yeasted breads make me a nervous wreck.

 

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I read the words yeast, knead, rise, and roll and I shy away. When you mess up yeasted bread, your mistakes are apparent immediately. There’s no way of hiding the fact that you didn’t let your dough rise completely, roll your dough out evenly, or let your bread bake completely leaving you with a stretchy/gummy interior. I don’t like my mistakes glaring at me… I like to hide my mistakes and pretend they don’t exist.

 

But rather than pretending my mistakes don’t exist, as healthy as that may be, I decided to learn from my failures and attempt to bake a yeasted cake last week— Krantz Cake, to be exact. This is my Mount Everest.

 

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I’ve loved every recipe I’ve ever made from this cookbook and Krantz Cake is no exception. It’s a tender, subtly sweet, brioche-like bread filled with smooth dark chocolate and nuts for a delightful crunch in every bite. It is a slightly messy and complicated process and requires your attention, patience, and time…

 

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The entire prep takes two days, but a lot of that is waiting for the dough to rise and then a bit of rolling, trimming, and twisting. I also took photos of every single step so that elongated the process, but I found using a picture tutorial extremely helpful! All those phrases about logs, cigar rolling, plaiting, braiding, etc. can get confusing so I wanted to include that in my post, as well!

 

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Even if your twisting skills aren’t on point, the cakes will still turn out stunning and immensely satisfying. Luckily, you can never go too wrong with a cake saturated in a generous amount of simple syrup and filled with layers of chocolate and nuts.

 

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I followed the recipe exactly and I absolutely loved the finished product (Note: I could not stop eating). But I do, however, have a few notes for the next time I make this… First, I absolutely hate flouring my kitchen counters, it always leaves a huge mess and I like to avoid cleaning whenever possible. I rolled my dough out on a floured half-sheet baking pan (18 by 13 inches), which I found very convenient (without all the rulers) when rolling the dough out 15 by 11 inches. The dough rolls out very nicely so you don’t have any issues with the dough sticking to the pan and it’s also a lot easier to clean than your entire kitchen counter.

 

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Second, it is a lot easier to spread your filling and cut your dough in half when your chocolate is smooth and thoroughly melted. Depending on how quickly you work, your chocolate mixture may have hardened by the time you begin rolling your second cake, so quickly reheat your chocolate using the double boiler method so you don’t burn/overcook the chocolate!

 

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Third, this might just be a personal issue because my oven is inconsistent, but I found my cakes to brown very quickly in the oven. They didn’t overcook, but they didn’t have that light golden brown crust I was hoping for. In order to avoid this, just check on your bread periodically and if you find it browning too quickly, tent it with aluminum foil (I was simultaneously making diner when I made these so I wasn’t as vigilant as I should have been).

 

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Last but not least, if you can, try to wait to eat them until the next day when the syrup has fully saturated the cake. It is absolutely divine and completely worth the wait. Happy Baking! Conquer the yeast!

 

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Krantz Cake recipe from Jerusalem: A Cookbook:

Dough:

4 cups / 530 grams all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

½ cup / 100 grams superfine sugar

2 teaspoons fast-rising active dry yeast

Grated zest of 1 small lemon

3 extra-large free-range eggs

½ cup / 120 millilitres water

Rounded ¼ teaspoon salt

2/3 cup / 150 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into ¾-inch / 2 centimeter cubes

Sunflower oil, for greasing

Chocolate Filling:

Scant ½ cup / 50 grams confectioners’ sugar

1/3 cup / 30 grams best-quality cocoa powder

4 ounces / 130 grams good-quality dark chocolate, melted

½ cup / 120 grams unsalted butter, melted

1 cup / 100 grams pecans, coarsely chopped (I used pistachios!)

2 tablespoons superfine sugar

Sugar Syrup:

2/3 cup / 160 millilitres water

1 ¼ cups / 260 grams superfine sugar

  1. To make the dough, place the flour, sugar, yeast, and lemon zest in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix on low speed for 1 minute. Add the eggs and water and mix on low speed for a few seconds, then increase the speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes, until the dough comes together. Add the salt and then start adding the butter, a few cubes at a time, mixing until it is incorporated into the dough. Continue mixing for about 10 minutes on medium speed, until the dough is completely smooth, elastic, and shiny. During the mixing, you will need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times and throw a small amount of flour onto the sides so that all of the dough leaves them.
  2. Place the dough in a large bowl brushed with sunflower oil, cover with plastic wrap, and leave in the fridge for at least half a day, preferably overnight.
  3. Grease two 2 ¼-pound / 1 kilograms loaf pans (9 by 4 inches / 23 by 10 centimeters) with some sunflower oil and line the bottom of each pan with a piece of waxed paper. Divide the dough in half and keep one-half covered in the fridge.
  4. To make the filling, mix together the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate, and butter. You will get a spreadable paste. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle measuring 15 by 11 inches (38 by 28 centimeters). Trim the sides to make them even, and then position the dough so that a long side is closest to you. Use an offset spatula to spread half the chocolate mixture over the rectangle, leaving a ¾-inch / 2 centimeter border all around. Sprinkle half the pecans on top of the chocolate, and then sprinkle over half the superfine sugar.
  5. Brush a little bit of water along the long end farthest away from you. Use both hands to roll up the rectangle like a roulade, starting from the long side that is closest to you and ending at the other long end. Press to seal the dampened end onto the roulade and then use both hands to even out the roll into a perfect thick cigar. Rest the cigar on its seam.
  6. Trim about ¾-inch / 2 centimeters off both ends of the roulade with a serrated knife. Now use the knife to gently cut the roll into half lengthwise, starting at the top and finishing at the seam. You are essentially dividing the log into two long even halves, with the layers of dough and filling visible along the length of both halves. With the cut sides facing up, gently press together one end of each half, and then lift the right half over the left half. Repeat this process, but this time lift the left half over the right, to create a simple, two-pronged plait. Gently squeeze together the other ends so that you are left with the two halves, intertwined, showing the filling on top. Carefully lift the cake into a loaf pan. Cover the pan with a wet tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 to 1½ hours. The cake will rise by 10 to 20 percent. Repeat the whole process to make the second cake.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375°F / 190°C, making sure you allow plenty of time for it to heat fully before the cakes have finished rising. Remove the tea towels, place the cakes on the middle rack of the oven, and bake for about 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. While the cakes are in the oven, make the syrup.
  8. To make the syrup, Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan, place over medium heat, and bring to a boil. As soon as the sugar dissolves, remove from the heat and leave to cool down. As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, brush all of the syrup over them. It is important to use up all the syrup. Leave the cakes until they are just warm, then remove them from the pans and let cool completely before serving.

Salted Browned Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies

March 9, 2015

I follow two different types of people on Instagram. The first type of people only post photos of food, restaurants, and coffee art… I actually don’t even know what these people look like because all they do is post photos of food that I want to stuff my face into immediately. The other type of people are really fit and only talk about working out OR they are super slender fashionistas… Either way, fit or skinny, they make me not want to eat for a few days.

 

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As you can imagine, whenever I browse my Instagram feed I am conflicted as to whether I should eat a dozen cookies or run a dozen miles… I don’t think I need to go into detail over which option I typically choose.

 

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A few weeks ago (when I was still pretending to follow my New Year’s resolutions) I was browsing my Instagram feed and one of my favorite bloggers, Tutti Dolci, posted a mouth-watering photo of Salted Browned Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies. I took a screenshot and looked at it obsessively for the next few weeks, waiting for the perfect moment to try out her recipe.

 

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After baking those outrageous Quadruple Chocolate Soft Fudgy Pudding Cookies last week, I was left with half a package of Valrhona white chocolate and I knew I had to make these Salted Browned Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies. I’ve made White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies before, but I’ve never thought of using browned butter for extra nuttiness and flavor, adding cornstarch for texture, and sprinkling with sea salt to balance out the sweetness of white chocolate. These might be the best cookies I’ve ever made.

 

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I’m never making another White Chocolate Macadamia Cookie recipe again after discovering this… They are salty, sweet, soft, tender, chewy, caramelized and full of toasted, buttery macadamia nuts and creamy white chocolate. This is perfection.

 

Salted Browned Butter White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies from Tutti Dolci:

Cookies:

1 2/3 cups flour

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

¾ cup light brown sugar

1 large egg

2 tablespoons dark rum

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)

½ cup macadamia nuts, toasted and chopped

3 ounces white chocolate, chopped

Topping

1 ounce white chocolate, chopped

Flaky salt

  1. To brown butter, place butter in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until butter foams, then browns (be careful not to burn), 5–8 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
  2. To make the cookies, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the butter and sugar for 1 minute at medium speed, until light and creamy. Add the egg, rum, and vanilla bean paste until combined.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture on low speed until incorporated. Fold in macadamia nuts and white chocolate. Cover dough and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper. Form 1½-inch balls of dough and place two inches apart on prepared baking sheets; flatten mounds slightly.
  6. Top cookies with remaining white chocolate, pressing to adhere. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake, rotating pans halfway through, for 9 minutes, until edges are set. Cool for 4 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Lemon Bars

March 5, 2015

February is probably my least favorite month. The holidays are long over and “holiday weight gain” isn’t a viable excuse anymore and all I’m left with is short days, cold winds, and winter jackets. Thank goodness it’s a short month.

 

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By the time March comes around all I can think about is the changing of seasons. The sun rises a little earlier, the weather warms up just enough so I don’t need to wear my heaviest of winter coats, and the vendors start selling fruit other than apples, pears, and citrus fruits… It’s still winter, but at least I have the promise of spring.

 

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Regardless of the season, there is always an abundance of lemons in Italy, but for me, they are the perfect transitional fruit from winter to spring. They’re bright, sunny, and cheerful and remind me of lemonade stands, tea parties, and picnic blankets… all things I hope to do come spring… In anticipation of spring, sundresses, fresh blooms, and a change of seasonal produce, I made Lemon Bars.

 

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Lemon Bars are a simple and classic dessert with a shortbread crust and a smooth, sweet, and tart filling. Some recipes use condensed milk or cream cheese to make a less tart and creamy filling, but I personally love the traditional sour and lip-puckering filling, which is why I love this recipe! If you love the tanginess and tartness of lemons, then this is definitely your go-to Lemon Bar recipe. This filling is TART and will surely wake up your taste buds. If you are serving these to a crowd, be sure to cut your Lemon Bars into small bite-sized triangles and dust it with powdered sugar to cut the tartness since some people might find the tartness and lemon taste overwhelming… Weaklings.

 

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Spring may not be here until March 20th, but at least you can brighten your day with these Lemon Bars until then! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to change into sweats and watch Gossip Girl all day since I refuse to go outside until the sun shines again.

Lemon Bars recipe by Ina Garten:

For the crust:

½ pound unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup granulated sugar

2 cups flour

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:

6 extra-large eggs at room temperature

3 cups granulated sugar

2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup flour

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. To make the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into prepared baking sheet, building up a ½-inch edge on all sides. Chill for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
  4. To make the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.
  5. Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Brown Butter Banana Bread with Brown Sugar Crumble

March 3, 2015

I don’t mess around with Banana Bread recipes. I’ve already coined my mom’s recipe as “The BEST Banana Bread” so there really is no reason to tinker with it…. unless I can’t find sour cream.

 

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As much as it kills me, I had to substitute Greek yogurt for the sour cream and the results were… noteworthy. Like, my friends devoured it within seconds and Tony, who hates bananas and attempts to only eat dessert on the weekends, was eating this for breakfast at 8AM on a Monday.

 

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I’m a stubborn loyal person so my mom’s recipe still remains “The BEST Banana Bread,” but this version… this version was pretty amazing, especially for something that replaces sour cream with a healthy ingredient. However, I didn’t want anyone to think I was trying to post a healthy dessert so I added a healthy serving of Brown Sugar Crumble on top. It’s not optional. This crumble kind of makes the bread. 

 

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If you’re looking to eat healthy, then you probably shouldn’t be eating dessert in the first place, but this bread– full of bananas and protein-packed Greek yogurt is surely a decent runner-up and a lot more fun than no dessert at all ;).

 

Brown Butter Banana Bread by The Bite-Sized Baker:

Banana Bread:

1 cup sugar

6 tablespoons butter, room temperature

2 eggs, room temperature

4 ounces full-fat Greek yogurt, room temperature

4 ounces milk, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ cups ripe bananas, mashed (3-4 bananas)

1 ½ cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

Brown Sugar Crumble:

¼ cup brown sugar, packed

¼ cup flour

2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

  1. To brown butter, place butter (8 tablespoons) in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until butter foams, then browns (be careful not to burn), 5–8 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
  2. To make the brown sugar crumble, combine brown sugar, flour, and 2 tablespoons of the browned butter in a small bowl using your fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs and set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare one loaf pan.
  4. To make banana bread, in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Add baking soda, Greek yogurt, milk, and vanilla and blend well.
  5. In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients, alternating with the mashed bananas.
  6. Pour into prepared loaf pan, sprinkle crumble generously over, and bake until top is brown and a toothpick comes out clean, 45-55 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.

Quadruple Chocolate Soft Fudgy Pudding Cookies

February 27, 2015

I talk about Amsterdam a lot on this blog— I realize that. But it just so happens to be one of my favorite cities in the world, right behind Florence, Italy and San Jose, California, because really, who doesn’t love their hometown?

 

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Amsterdam offers so much more than the notorious red light district, “coffee houses”, and tall, blonde, blue-eyed people riding bicycles… The first time I visited Amsterdam I was completely blown away by the beauty of it all! Every shop, café, bakery, bar, apartment, house, hotel, etc. we walked past was carefully thought out and styled to perfection. Every spot looked straight out of magazine and it was truly a hipster’s paradise. You can spend hours simply walking up and down the canals admiring it all… or riding bicycles if you’re feeling extra courageous. Note: Biking in Amsterdam is not for the faint of heart and is most definitely not a leisurely pastime for people!

Prior to visiting Amsterdam, I had heard they weren’t known for their food, but as with any new city I visit, I was diligent about researching the food and restaurants ahead of time. And I can honestly say we’ve never had a bad meal in Amsterdam. Granted, we go to a lot of the same restaurants when we visit, but we’ve also tested our share of places from De Kas, Café de Klos, Kinnaree, Winkel 43, Blauw, Tempo Doeloe, Rakang, Toos and Roos, Lot Sixty One Coffee Roasters, Pancakes!, Los Pilones… and a lot of small cafés we hopped into for breakfast or lunch that I never caught the name of. But my absolute favorite place of all to visit in Amsterdam is easily Van Stapele Koekmakerij.

 

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This place rivals Santa’s Workshop. It’s just a small hole in the wall and as you enter you’re greeted to the smell of freshly baked cookies coming straight out of the oven, every 20 minutes, to be exact. My favorite part about this little bakery, besides the two little helpers rolling cookie dough and tying bows, is they only serve ONE kind of cookie– a warm chocolate cookie with a molten white chocolate center. It is simply perfection… Tied up in a little blue bow and sealed with a gold sticker.

 

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I have wanted to recreate these cookies at home for quite some time, but I was waiting on something special. Specifically, a $100 order of Valrhona chocolate from Amazon—only the very best baking chocolate for the very best cookies!

After trying three other chocolate cookie recipes, I wasn’t completely satisfied with the chocolate profile… Do you ever find that even though you just dumped a bunch of cocoa powder in a recipe, it still doesn’t end up actually tasting like chocolate? I finally found one chocolate cookie recipe that paralleled the greatness that is Van Stapele Koekmakerij and was worthy of Valrhona chocolate… Averie Cooks’ Quadruple Chocolate Soft Fudgy Pudding Cookies. This is hands down one of my favorite cookie recipes to date… and I’m not even crazy about chocolate cookies.

 

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Now, I am almost 100% certain that Van Stapele does not use “chocolate pudding mix” in their original recipe, nor do they use additional chunks of chocolate, but I don’t care because these cookies are soft, chewy, full of chocolate, and completely worthy of the $50 of Valrhona chocolate I mixed into them (slight exaggeration). Although the original recipe doesn’t require you to use Vahlrona chocolate, it seems like the only logical decision is to use the very best chocolate you can find when baking a recipe with a name like Quadruple Chocolate Soft Fudgy Pudding Cookies!

 

Quadruple Chocolate Soft Fudgy Pudding Cookies recipe slightly adapted from Averie Cooks: 

¾ cup unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup light brown sugar, packed

¼ cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 packet instant chocolate pudding mix, about 3.7 to 3.9 ounces (not sugar-free and not ‘cook & serve’)

¼ cup Valrhona 100% pure cocoa powder (I recommend using Valrhona, whenever possible, but it is not necessary to make these cookies!)

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

1¼ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup Valrhona Chocolate Caraibe 66% Feves, chopped

½ cup Valrhona Chocolate Ivoire 35% Feves, chopped

32 discs Valrhona Chocolate Ivoire 35% Feves, reserve for stuffing the cookies (You may have to use more or less depending on the size of your cookie, but I used two discs per cookie)

  1. To make the cookies, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the butter and sugars for 1 minute, until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and eggs one at a time and beat on medium-high speed until well combined.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the pudding mix, cocoa powder, flour, salt, and baking soda. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture on low speed until just combined. Add the chopped chocolate and beat on low speed until just combined.
  4. Scoop the dough in ~¼ cup-measurements, about 16 equal-sized mounds. Flatten the mound slightly, place two discs of white chocolate in the middle, and then bring the edges up and over the chocolate and seal. The chocolate should be completely covered. Place mounds onto the prepared baking sheets and leave about 2″ between the cookies. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 5 days. Do not bake with unchilled dough because cookies will bake thinner, flatter, and be more prone to spreading.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until edges and tops are just set. Do not overbake! Cookies will firm as they cool. Allow cookies to rest on the baking sheet for at least 5-10 minutes before serving them.

Yields 16 large cookies

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