Challah Sandwich Buns

I don’t really buy store-bought sandwich buns anymore.

In the first place, if you’re looking at the popular batch-bake hamburger buns from the popular name brands, you’ll notice that the bread itself is oftentimes soft, without much or any sturdiness to it. This may be fine for others, but I personally hate it when the moisture from my proteins seeps down into the bun and makes it soggy, making the whole thing not only hard to handle, but also less than pleasant to eat.

My preference for sandwiches are enriched bread doughs; the ones made with a sturdy, somewhat dense crumb that have a crusty exterior. They’re perfect for holding up to moisture and holding plenty of fixing. Plus, rather than just being the vessel for the filling, they can often be just as delicious all on their own.

A standard bread dough needs nothing more than flour, yeast, salt and water. Enriched bread doughs add things like eggs, butter and milk to ‘enrich’ the dough, often giving it more body, flavor and texture. Challah has become my go-to enriched bread to make. It has a relatively easy process in comparison to other enriched doughs, and the ingredients are often always on hand in my house. While it’s often shaped into loaves, as an enriched dough with a sturdy, somewhat dense crumb, I also figured that it would work well as a sandwich bun.

I’ve had the same go-to Challah recipe for several years now, so when it came time for me to put these together, I didn’t bother sampling out a new one. The only changes that I made to the recipe was in the actual shaping. I divided the dough up into individual sandwich buns, keeping things simple when it came to both the flavors and the appearance.

I have to say, these are everything I want in a sandwich bun. Challah has a sturdy, somewhat dense crumb structure to it that is perfect for absorbing moisture from sandwich proteins and condiments, but still holding together perfectly; even more so when you toast it, as is my standard practice. The egg wash on the top gives it that much more body. Plus, as a I said, it’s a pretty delicious bread in and of itself, so I find myself appreciating both the inside and the outside of the sandwich rather than just looking at the bread as the vessel for the filling.

Wear a mask. Socially distance. Get the vaccine when it’s your turn. Be kind.

Challah Sandwich Buns

Recipe Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Coarse salt, for sprinkling

Directions

In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over barely warm water. Sprinkle the tablespoon of white sugar over that. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until frothy.

Beat in honey, oil, 2 eggs, and salt. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating to kneading with hands as dough thickens. (You may not need all of it, this depends on location and time of year) Knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed.

Place dough inside a large and greased mixing bowl. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap, then a damp clean cloth and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in bulk.


Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured board or a pastry mat. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap and allow to sit for 5 minutes.

Roll/stretch out dough to a square that is about 1 1/2 inch thick. Use a cookie cutter, a glass cup or a small bowl with a sharpish edge that is about 3 inches wide in diameter to cut out circles of buns from the dough and place them on two sheet pans you’ve lined with parchment paper. Repeat until you’ve used it all up. (The scraps can be rerolled and/or shaped into extras)

Cover the buns with plastic wrap and a damp cloth and allow to rise until puffy and grown in size, about 30-45 minutes.


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).


Beat the remaining egg and brush a generous amount over each bun. Sprinkle the tops with coarse sea salt, if desired. Using a very sharp knife dipped in water, quickly make diagonal slashes into the tops of the buns, to make an X shape.


Bake for about 20-30 minutes. After the first ten minutes, Keep an eye out on the tops to make sure they aren’t browning too quickly; cover with a sheet of foil if so.

Challah is done at an inner temp of 195 degrees fahrenheit. Bread should have a nice hollow sound when thumped on the bottom. Cool the buns on a wire rack for at least one hour.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #375

Cappuccino M&M Cookie Bars

When it comes to candy, I really only still rock with chocolate. Snicker bars are the perfect candy bar. Peanut M&Ms also remain a favorite of mine.

About two years ago, I discovered a flavor of Peanut M&Ms called Coffee Nut. If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know that coffee and I are bound at the hip. I love to drink with it, and I’ve also loved finding ways to incorporate it into my cooking and baking.

But y’all, let me tell you: Coffee Nut M&Ms are unparalleled when it comes to coffee flavored anything, let alone coffee flavored candy. They are SOOOOO good.

And apparently I’m not the only one that feels that way, because whether I’m on the West or East coast, Coffee Nut M&Ms are always a hot commodity in grocery stores. It’s a toss up whether or not they have any in stock, and if they do, I always buy 2-3 bags just to stock up in case there aren’t any later. While they’re perfectly delicious on they’re own, the baker in me is always thinking about a way to repurpose my favorite ingredients into a recipe, and this was no exception.

Cookie bars are an easy and pretty foolproof way of baking cookies when you don’t have the time or energy to let the dough chill or roll out individual portions. They taste the same, they just have a tendency to be a bit more chewy and fudgy in texture–which I prefer with my cookies anyway.

When it came to these, I adapted a chocolate chip cookie bar recipe and made some modifications; first, I obviously swapped out the chocolate chips for the Coffee Peanut M&Ms, and then I added some instant espresso powder to the dough. After they were finished, I topped them off with a cappuccino flavored glaze.

If you’re a coffee lover, these are a must try.

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Cappuccino M&M Bars

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

Ingredients

For Cookie Bars

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed (light or dark, doesn’t matter)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 Cup Coffee Nut Peanut M&Ms

For Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons hot cappuccino
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with foil or parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides; coat the foil or parchment paper with cooking spray.

Beat the 2 sticks softened butter, 1 cup each granulated and light brown sugar and espresso powder with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy.

Add the 3 eggs, one at a time and the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low. Add 3 cups flour and 3/4 teaspoon each baking soda and salt; beat until combined. Stir in the M&Ms.

 Spread the cookie dough in the prepared pan or press in using damp or oiled fingers. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

Allow to cool completely. To make the glaze, combine all of the ingredients together in a small bowl until it has reached desired consistency. Use a fork to drizzle over the cooled bars.  Allow glaze to set, then cut into squares.

Fiesta Friday #373, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats & Greens.

Salt & Vinegar Roasted Potatoes

I have a mild curiosity as to two things:

First, who it was who decided that salt and vinegar would be a good flavor combination to try on potatoes? Second: was the initial recipe idea for actual potatoes, or just potato chips?

It’s probably the former, but my first exposure to the recipe (probably like most of you) was through the latter. When I was a a kid, I thought that anything with vinegar was disgusting; I just couldn’t get passed the smell. As an adult, my tastebuds have done a complete 180; now Salt & Vinegar potato chips are my favorite flavor.

I don’t know, there’s just something about the contrast between the salty and the sharp sour flavors that I’ve grown to love. I’m curious as to how well the flavor combination translates into more food than just potato chips, which is probably what made me so interested to try today’s recipe in the first place.

Roasted potatoes are somewhat of a fail-proof recipe in the first place; so long as they’re properly seasoned, in my mind you really can’t go wrong. But in this case, it’s the seasoning that makes these potatoes exceptional. Apart from the combination of salt and apple cider vinegar, the addition of parsley and oregano gives them an added layer of fresh/herby flavor that really works. I wouldn’t change a thing about these.

Wear a mask. Social distance. When it’s your turn, get the vaccine. Be kind.

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Salt & Vinegar Roasted Potatoes

Recipe Adapted from RealSimple.com

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, divided
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of favorite seasoning blend (I use Trader’s Joe’s 21 Seasoning Saute)
  • 2 pounds fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
  • ½ cup fresh curly parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • Flaky sea salt, for serving

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place potatoes in a plastic, resealable gallon size bag.

Whisk 3 tablespoons each vinegar and oil in a large bowl until well combined. Season with kosher salt, seasoning blend, and several grinds of pepper.

Pour the dressing over the potatoes, seal the bag and toss to coat.

Arrange potatoes, cut sides down, in an even layer on a baking sheet rimmed with foil and sprayed with cooking spray

Bake until golden on bottoms and tender when pierced with a fork, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.

Toss potatoes with remaining 1 tablespoon each vinegar and oil on baking sheet. Fold in parsley and oregano just before serving. Top with flaky sea salt.

Linking up to Fiesta Friday #372, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Banana Bread Biscuits

Are y’all starting to notice a pattern? I am.

I think it’s safe to say we’ve now reached the point where Cooking is My Sport is a biscuit-making blog; a biscuit making blog with other recipes thrown in to eat alongside biscuits.

I have no explanation for my actions. All I can say is that before I learned how to bake, biscuits were always something I wanted to learn how to do, and do well. I was in awe of people who baked biscuits from scratch. I just had so many questions.

How does the dough come together? What makes biscuits different from yeast bread? What’s the best shape; round, square, or something else? How do they rise? How do you ensure they turn out light and flakey on the inside?

Heck, maybe there are some of you out there who have the same kind of questions. I’ve gotten good at making biscuits only because of lots and lots of practice, and trial and error. I made up my mind to learn how to make them and make them well, and I didn’t stop until I did. And even, clearly, I have no intention of stopping making/experimenting with them. I’ll be a biscuit baker probably until the day I pass on to glory.

Thinking through all those questions and the various results I’ve made/posted over the years makes me think the blog may be due for a post that’s strictly about the technique of making biscuits I’ve learned through all my trial and error. I’ll think some more about it and get back to y’all later.

In the meantime, today’s newest experiment.

I was very curious going into this one. Although I’ve made banana scones once before, I’d never heard of banana flavored biscuits. Plus, I hadn’t really perfected my technique for biscuits/scones when I first made the banana flavored ones, so I was interested to see how different I would find the experience now that I’m on the other side of a lot of new learning.

I really like these, y’all. The flavor really is just like banana bread…except it’s in the texture of a biscuit. I think they’re versatile enough to work for breakfast, or for a dessert, depending on how you want to eat them. However, the sweetness is very subtle here, it’s the banana that really shines through. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Wear a mask. Social distance. Get the vaccine when it’s your turn. Be kind.

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Banana Bread Biscuits

Recipe Adapted from Taste of the South

Ingredients

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2½ cups cake flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2½ tablespoons baking powder
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1½ cups cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk, chilled
  • ½ cup mashed banana (about 1 medium banana)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup salted butter, melted

Directions

In a large bowl combine the flour, spices salt, baking powder, sugar, sage and the seasoning mix. Stir together with a fork.

Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. Stir with a fork.

In a small bowl, whisk together cold buttermilk, mashed banana, and vanilla.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring until a shaggy dough forms. Use a large fork and a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add the additional buttermilk, just until it forms a shaggy dough.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or a clean smooth countertop with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the biscuits to be tough.)

Use a bench scraper or a large sharp knife to divide the dough in half. Roughly shape each half into a square. Stack one of the halves on top of the other and use a rolling pin to roll it together into one mass. Repeat this process 4-5 more times before patting it into one final rectangle. (This is a process of layering so that the biscuits will bake flaky).

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unwrap the biscuit dough out onto it. Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Use a biscuit cutter, or a knife to cut the dough into rounds or squares about 2″ each. You can recut the leftover dough into new biscuits, just try not to handle it too much.

Remove the cut biscuits to the baking sheet you’ve lined with parchment paper, placing them rather close to each other (it will help them rise higher). Place the tray into the freezer about 15 minutes.

Spray the tops with cooking spray. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, covering them with foil if they brown too quickly.

Brush finished biscuits with melted butter; serve warm.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #371, co-hosted this week by Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons.

 

Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies really should be a separate ‘genre’ of baking all on their own.

I know that they’re a classic and with classics people tend to search for that One and Only Holy Grail of a recipe, but in my experience I’ve found that there are so many ways to make a perfect one.

My mom always used to tell me that in both cooking and baking, getting ‘good’ was a matter of getting comfortable with a base recipe and/or technique, then once I grew comfortable with it, experimenting with other flavors and seeing what worked and what didn’t. It’s advice that’s never steered me wrong in the kitchen.

The older I get, the more that I notice that my taste buds tend to prefer a counterbalance to the sweetness with either salt or bitter flavors. Salt and sweet is a combination that I’m growing increasingly interested in using in baking, and today’s recipe was eye-opening in showing me just how well it could work.

A chocolate chip cookie with pecans is already a winner so far as I’m concerned, but this recipe takes things a step further. First, butterscotch, butternut or butter-rum flavor is added to the dough, which I would best describe as a rich browned butter extract that pairs VERY well with chocolate. If you can’t find it in stores, it’s definitely available on Amazon. And if you can’t find it at all, that’s fine too. The cookies will still come out amazing because of the second element.

After the dough is made, chilled and portioned out into balls, it then gets rolled in a mixture of sugar and salt. As it bakes, that sugar and salt creates a sort of crackly, salty-sweet crust on the outside of the cookie.

And y’all: that crust is where the magic happens.

In the first place, it creates amazing texture to contrast with the fudgy, chewy interior of the cookie itself. And second, the flavor of the salt in that sugar crust is INSANE. Taken together with the sweetness of the sugar, the nuttiness of the pecans, and the slight bitterness of the chocolate, it literally hit every note.

I tried these on a whim and I can honestly say they’re my new favorite way to make chocolate chip cookies, and are definitely in my top three of cookies I’ve ever made. They’re well worth trying out.

Wear a mask. Social distance. Get the vaccine when it’s your turn. Be kind.

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Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups pecan halves
  • 2/3 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2/3 cup  granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons  butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon butterscotch, vanilla-butternut, or butter-rum flavor, optional
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/3 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, mixed with 1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, for topping* (The amount of salt depends upon how much of a salty-sweet combination you prefer. I went for the full 1 teaspoon, and it was perfect, to ME.)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

Place the pecans in a single layer in a pan, and toast until they’ve darkened a bit and smell toasty, about 8 to 9 minutes. Set them aside to cool, then chop coarsely.

In a large bowl, combine the sugars, butter, shortening, salt, espresso powder, baking soda, and extracts, beating until smooth and creamy.

Beat in the egg, again beating until smooth. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure everything is thoroughly combined.

Mix in the flour, then the chips and toasted nuts.

If you’re going to refrigerate the dough, cover the bowl, and refrigerate for about 4 to 5 hours; or overnight. Cookie dough refrigerated for 4 to 5 hours will spread moderately; chilled overnight, it will spread much less.

Mix the 1/3 cup sugar and salt for the coating, and put it in a bowl. Use a spoon (or a tablespoon cookie scoop) to scoop 1 1/2″ balls of dough into the sugar/salt mixture, rolling to coat. Then transfer to the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2″ between them on all sides; they’ll spread quite a bit. Or use a teaspoon cookie scoop to scoop 1 1/4″ balls of dough.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes — 10 minutes for smaller cookies made from unrefrigerated dough, 12 for larger cookies whose dough has been refrigerated (and something in between for other iterations of size and refrigeration). Their edges will be chestnut brown and their tops a lighter golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool on the pan until they’ve set enough to move without breaking. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #370.

Cornmeal Sage Biscuits

Yes. It’s true. One month into 2021, and I’m sharing yet ANOTHER biscuit recipe.

We’ve established a long time ago that they’re somewhat of an obsession of mine, but this time there’s a whole separate ‘excuse’ for why they’re making another appearance.

These biscuits make up one half of another ‘meal’ recipe that I’ll be posting next week. But I thought that rather than dump them both at the same time, I’d break them apart and just like a sit down meal in a restaurant, make the carbs the appetizer before serving the ‘meat’ next week.

If you’ve ever taken a look at the Recipe Index on the blog, you’d probably be able to tell that I have a mild fixation with yellow cornmeal. I like it both for its flavor and the texture it gives to baked goods. I think it was around two years ago when I first experimented with it in biscuit dough.

Cornmeal gives the biscuit a coarser texture, but I’ve learned since then how to counterbalance the potential heaviness in the dough with the addition of sour cream, which does positively SINFUL things to the texture of just about any baked good you add it to.

I knew going into making these that I wanted to boost the typically neutral flavor of biscuits, and give them a savory flavor. For that reason I seasoned the dough with sage and what’s become my favorite spice mix, the Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Saute. I use it in just about everything I cook. But if you don’t have it on hand, that’s fine. Just use another seasoning blend you’re partial to like any of the many ones from McCormick, Mrs. Dash, or Weber’s.

I was extremely pleased with how these turned out. They rose beautifully even with the cornmeal, and the flavor is FANTASTIC. They paired beautifully with the ‘second component’ of the dish I made for our dinner that I’ll be sharing next week. So stay tuned 😉

Wear a mask. Social distance. Stay safe. Be kind.

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Cornmeal Sage Biscuits

Recipe Loosely Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 5 cups cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground sage
  • 1 tablespoon of your favorite savory spice mix (I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, (1 1/2 sticks) frozen
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2-2 cups buttermilk, plus more if necessary

Directions

For Biscuits

In a large bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder, sugar, sage and the seasoning mix. Stir together with a fork.

 Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. Stir with a fork.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the sour cream. Use a fork to ‘cut’ it into the dry ingredients until it forms thick clumps. Make another hole in the middle of the dry ingredients, and pour the buttermilk. Use a large fork and a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add the additional buttermilk, just until it forms a shaggy dough.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or a clean smooth countertop with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the biscuits to be tough.)

Use a bench scraper or a large sharp knife to divide the dough in half. Roughly shape each half into a square. Stack one of the halves on top of the other and use a rolling pin to roll it together into one mass. Repeat this process 4-5 more times before patting it into one final rectangle. (This is a process of layering so that the biscuits will bake flaky).

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unwrap the biscuit dough out onto it. Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Use a biscuit cutter, or a knife to cut the dough into rounds about 2″ each. You can recut the leftover dough into new biscuits, just try not to handle it too much.

Remove the cut biscuits to the baking sheet you’ve lined with parchment paper, placing them rather close to each other (it will help them rise higher). Place the tray into the freezer about 15 minutes.

Spray the tops with cooking spray. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, covering them with foil if they brown too quickly.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #365, co-hosted this week by Eff @ Food Daydreaming.

 

Coffee Blondies

I have a love-hate relationship with coffee. And by love-hate I mean, I love drinking the stuff, but I also hate that I’m semi-addicted to it.

I go through these periods (I’ve gone as long as a few years at a time) where I can completely kick the habit and not even miss it. But then, out of nowhere the craving for it will settle in and suddenly I’ve got to have it and I fall off the wagon and go back to my dependency on it like nothing ever happened. It’s odd.

I’m regrettably back in my dependency stage at the moment. Every night before bed I ensure that I place the grounds and the water in my coffee maker and set the timer to make sure it’s ready for me in the morning. First thing in the morning after I wake up and brush my teeth, I go into the kitchen, pour out two in two mugs, then put them both in the fridge to chill for about an hour. I add a coffee ice cube to the mug (yes, I keep coffee ice cubes in my freezer) a little bit of milk, then a splash of vanilla syrup, and bam. That’s how I take it. Every day.

There’s usually at least a little bit of coffee left in the pot at the end of the day, and I try not to end up throwing it out–especially if it’s good coffee. As I said, my most common use for the ‘leftover’ coffee is to freeze it into ice cubes. The other is to try and bake something with it.

Coffee is an ingredient that can really enhance the flavor of chocolate, which is why sometimes you’ll see it included in brownie or chocolate cake recipes. But for coffee fanatics like me, sometimes you want a dessert that makes it the central flavor. I’ve experimented with coffee in desserts before on the blog, including this pound cake (one of the best cakes I’ve ever tasted for what it’s worth), as well as with cookies and scones. Today, I’m trying something new.

I’m in a phase where I really want texture from my desserts. I like chewy richness, like the kind you can only get in a pie, or brownies, or thick cookies…or blondies.

The blondie itself is like a really rich, chewy cookie. Take a look at that shiny, crackly crust, would you? The nuts add another textural element to that chewiness. Best of all, because it’s a blondie and not a brownie, the coffee flavor stands out on its own. These are everything that my tastebuds want. They come together in minutes and bake in less than an hour, so it’s also a pretty fool-proof recipe too. Even if you don’t like coffee, I think you’d still like these.

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Coffee Blondies

Recipe Adapted from Canadian Living

Ingredients

1½ cups (213 g) all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks; 170 g) unsalted butter, cold
1½ cups (297 g) packed brown sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons strong coffee, room temperature
1 egg
1½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract
¾ cup (86 g) pecan halves, toasted and chopped
¾ cup (128 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch baking pan and line it with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder with a fork and set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, brown sugar, and salt. Remove from the heat and stir in the coffee until well combined. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Add the egg and vanilla and whisk until combined. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Add the pecans and chocolate chips and stir gently.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake 18 to 24 minutes, until the blondies are set on the edges and the top is golden brown and just beginning to form cracks. A wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the blondies should come out with just a couple of crumbs.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Use the parchment sling to gently lift the blondies from the pan. Cut them into squares.

Linking to Fiesta Friday #364, hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Petra @ Food Eat Love.

Secret Ingredient Rice Krispie Treats

So, I feel like on a list of the easiest things to cook/bake, rice krispie treats are right up there with spaghetti, scrambled eggs, and grilled cheese sandwiches. They all feature pretty basic ingredients, come together within minutes and are all (I think) pretty hard to mess up.

Even back when I was an abysmal cook, I knew how to put together rice krispie treats. No matter what anybody says, the pre-made packaged ones don’t taste as good as the ones made from scratch. They just don’t.

There’s nothing wrong with pre-packaged rice krispie treats, but I’m partial to making my own from scratch because if I can control the amount of marshmallow in the mix, then I can control the ‘gooey-ness’ factor. Packaged ones don’t really have it.

You want to know what ones do? These.

I’m always interested in finding ways to improve on classics, and today’s recipe is another one of those ways. If you’re a fan of scratch made rice krispie treats and you want to up their gooey-ness factor, this is for you. It doesn’t require a whole lot of extra steps or ingredients. There’s just one extra step and one extra addition to the usual suspects of ingredients, actually:

Browning the butter, and a can of sweetened condensed milk.

That’s right folks. Browning your butter and adding sweetened condensed milk to your treats mix will alter everything you ever thought you knew about how to make or eat rice krispie treats. You are not prepared for how incredible this is. I wasn’t. The rich, gooeyness it adds to them is everything you want in a treat. It adds a real ‘bakery’ taste and flavor to them that almost makes no sense, because rice krispie treats aren’t baked at all. I don’t understand it, and I really don’t need to. I’m just glad to have discovered it, and you will be too once you try this out for yourself.

Wear a mask. Social Distance. Stay safe. Be kind.

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Secret Ingredient Rice Krispie Treats

Recipe Courtesy of The Kitchn

Ingredients

  • 6 cups toasted rice crisp cereal, such as Rice Krispies
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (10-ounce) package mini marshmallows (about 4 cups)

Directions

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the cereal and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan or pot over low heat, gently stirring with a rubber spatula so all the butter melts evenly. When the butter is bubbling, add 1/3 to 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk* and stir to combine.

Bring the sweetened condensed milk to a boil (this will happen really quickly) and cook for about a minute until it is fragrant. Once the butter begins to foam, watch carefully, as it will quickly begin to brown and emit a nutty aroma. When browned, turn off the heat. Stir in the salt and vanilla.

Working quickly, add half the marshmallows and stir until thoroughly melted. Add the remaining marshmallows and stir until melted. The residual heat from the butter should be enough to melt them off the heat, but you can return the pot to low heat for a few seconds if the marshmallows aren’t melting easily. Keep a close eye on the butter, however — you don’t want it to continue to brown to the point of burning.

Add the toasted cereal and gently fold it in until the cereal is completely coated with the marshmallow mixture.

Transfer the mixture to an 8 x8 inch baking pan that you’ve sprayed with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. Using the rubber spatula, lightly and gently press into an even layer.

Let the treats stand at room temperature until set and completely cool, about 1 hour.

Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.

*This all depends on how gooey you want the treats to be. I went for the full 1/2 cup.

Linking up to Fiesta Friday #362, co-hosted this week by Petra @ Food Eat Love.

Sweet Potato Biscuits & Cranberry Butter

Happy New Year everyone.

If you’re reading this, it means that you’ve made it 2021. Give yourself a pat on the back. Let out the breath that it feels like we’ve all been holding for I don’t know how long.

What a year. What a time to be alive.

2020 was a rough year for most of us. We may have survived it, but I’m sure we all know of others who did not, and those who are still struggling going into 2021. I’m not one for making New Years resolutions, but I am on board for maintaining a positive perspective even in the midst of negativity, and trying to spread positivity where I can.

If your 2020 was particularly difficult, I’m very sorry. You have all of my best wishes and hopes for a better and brighter 2021 where things begin to turn around. Please know that trouble doesn’t last always. This too shall pass. You’ll make it.

After spending a lot of time and effort getting pretty good at baking them, biscuits have become my happy place. I thought a happy place recipe was, a great recipe to kick off the new year with on the blog, so here we are.

I mean: don’t these make you feel at least a little happy just looking at them?

Sweet potato biscuits have been on my radar for a while to try out. I always had hesitation about it because most of the recipes I’ve seen others put out, the biscuits seemed to come out flat and hockey-puck like to me. The potato just seemed to be weighing everything down and one of my biggest biscuits pet peeves are biscuits that don’t rise.

But that was all before I developed my personal technique of biscuit-making that to date has never failed to give me the results that I want. As it turns out, it still doesn’t even when adding mashed sweet potato to the mix.

Sweet potatoes are a heavy ingredient, but what I found they do most for biscuit dough is take the place of the majority of the liquid. You won’t need to add as much buttermilk because the sweet potatoes themselves are moist and give the dough the moisture it needs to hold together, as well as the finished biscuits the moisture they need to not be too tough and dry.

These taste perfectly fine on their own, but I decided to give them an accompaniment using some spare cranberries I still had leftover from the 12 Days of Christmas sitting in my fridge. It comes together in minutes, and the sweet tartness pairs pretty well with the savory flavor of the biscuits.

Here’s to sweet potato biscuits, cranberry butter, and 2021. May one be just as wonderful as the other, and vice versa.

Wear a mask. Social distance. Be kind.

Sweet Potato Biscuits & Cranberry Butter

Recipe Adapted from Allrecipes.com and Let’s Dish 

Ingredients

For Biscuits

  • 2 large, orange fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more for potato water
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark, doesn’t matter)
  • 1/2 cup-3/4 cup buttermilk*
  • 6 1/2 cups self rising flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen

For Cranberry Butter

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of one medium orange

 

Directions

For Biscuits:

Cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise. Cut each in half again lengthwise, then in half cross-wise. Cut each piece in half to make evenly sized chunks. Transfer into pot; cover with water and add a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer on high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and cook until potatoes are tender, about 17 minutes. Drain thoroughly; return to pot and mash potatoes. You will need 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes. Cool thoroughly.

Transfer cooled mashed potatoes to a medium size mixing bowl and add brown sugar, stirring to combine. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Stir together with a fork.

Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. Stir together with a fork to coat with flour after each addition of about 1/3 to 1/2 stick. This will prevent butter from clumping. Mixture should look like floury pieces of butter.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add sweet potato mixture. Toss with a fork until evenly distributed, but don’t overmix.

Drizzle in the buttermilk. The amount you add here is going to vary according to the time of year and your location. You may need to use all of it, you may not. Start with 1/2 cup and stir the dough together with the fork, just until it begins to come together in large clumps. Add more flour if you need to, just enough to make it hold together.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or a clean smooth countertop with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the biscuits to be tough.)

Use a bench scraper or a large sharp knife to divide the dough in half. Roughly shape each half into a square. Stack one of the halves on top of the other and use a rolling pin to roll it together into one mass. Repeat this process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle. (This is a process of layering so that the biscuits will bake flaky).

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unwrap the biscuit dough out onto it. Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Use a square cookie cutter, or a knife to cut the remaining dough into squares, about 2″ each.

Remove the cut biscuits to the baking sheet you’ve lined with parchment paper, placing them rather close to each other (it will help them rise higher). Freeze until cold, about 15 minutes.

Bake until golden brown, 18 to 23 minutes. You may need to cover them with foil to keep from browning too fast. When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the way through; the edge shouldn’t look wet or unbaked.

For Butter: 

Use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, powdered sugar, honey, cinnamon, vanilla extract and orange zest together until fluffy. Add the cranberries.

Store in the refrigerator, but it’s best to bring it to room temperature to serve.

Linking this post to Fiesta Friday #361.

Gingerbread Blondies

Only seven days left until Christmas! Is everyone excited? It’s 50/50 for me. On one hand, I absolutely love the holiday season, but on the other hand it’s the season that I love more than the actual holiDAY itself. Christmas itself is bittersweet for me because once it comes, the holiday season is almost over.

But on the flip side, there’s still six more days until it’s over, so let’s just celebrate that with some more recipes in the five days that we have left of the 12 Days of Christmas, shall we? In all the years I’ve been doing the series, there are always certain categories of recipes that I try to make sure make an appearance, just for variety’s sake. I always try to do a savory recipe option. I always try to do a yeast bread recipe. I always try to do a snack. Then, I always try to a recipe that fits squarely into my “You Can’t Mess This Up, No Seriously You Can’t” category.

The “You Can’t Mess This Up, No Seriously You Can’t” category is for people who don’t like to cook or bake, or those who think that they can’t. I say “think” because I’m of hte opinion that if you can read, measure and follow a set of instructions, you can cook SOMETHING. Doesn’t have to be complicated. Doesn’t even have to be that delicious. But if you can read, count and do what you’re told, there’s something out there that you can cook and bake.

  Today I’m pleased to be able to share my “You Can’t Screw this Up” recipe of the 12 Days of Christmas: gingerbread blondies. While they’re the furthest thing from complicated that you can get, don’t let their simplicity fool you: they come together in minutes, and are absolutely delicious.

The base of the blondie itself is rich with warm, sugary, winter spices. It tastes like a dense and rather chewy cake. I modified the original recipe and decided to try and cut through the sweetness of the molasses and brown sugar by adding fresh cranberries to the batter. The cranberries burst as they bake creating lovely pockets of juicy, tart flavor.

I wasn’t kidding when I said you can’t screw these up. I’m also not kidding when I say they’re absolutely delicious.  The only way they could possibly be improved is with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Then they’re beyond perfection; they’re holiday nirvana.

Day 1: Orange Cranberry Buns

Day 2: Sausage Bread Pudding & Cranberry Sauce

Day 3: Sugar & Spice Crackers

Day 4: Cranberry Cookie Tart

Day 5: Spicy Gingerbread Sticks

Day 6: Reindeer Munch

Day 7: Jell-O Butter Cookies

Day 8: Gingerbread Blondies

Gingerbread Blondies

Recipe Adapted from Betty Crocker

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries

Directions

Line an 8-9 inch square baking dish wish parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray. Set aside and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a small bowl, combine the four, spices, and salt. Stir together with a fork, then set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter or margarine, brown sugar, molasses, vanilla and egg. Stir together with a fork or a wire whisk unto; thoroughly combined.

Add the flour mixture in 2 increments, stirring just until the streaks disappear. Fold in the cranberries.

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared baking pan.

Bake for 26-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted halfway between edge and center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Cool completely in pan on cooling rack, about 1 hour before cutting into squares.

Linking this up to Fiesta Friday #359, cohosted this week by Jhuls@The Not So Creative Cook.