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EPIC…uh, WIN!

20 Jul

EPIC FAIL.

Pronunciation: \ˈe-pik ˈfāl\

Function: noun

Date: 21st century

1 : Unsuccessfulness of massive and sometimes catastrophic proportions.  <As it turns out, the weapons of mass destruction never existed.  EPIC FAIL.>

2 : The focus of many demotivational posters.  <Octo-Mom: EPIC FAIL.>

3 : What I thought this recipe was going to be as I attempted to knead the dough flour.  <The fate of the soft pretzels grew increasingly bleak by the knead.  EPIC FAIL.>

The worst of it is, this recipe was intended to live up to my very blog title: The Knead for Speed.  And yet the dough was dryer than the Sahara Desert!  Shame on me for trying to modify a tried-and-true recipe with whole wheat flour.  Shame on me for dishonoring all that is an Auntie Anne’s pretzel. 

Or not?

Miraculously, adding water (somewhere between 2 and 4 Tablespoons) helped save this recipe.  I was still doubtful as I pitifully watched my ball of dough rise for an hour.  It did grow some – a fact which gave me the hope and strength to continue on in my dough-y journey.  Childhood echoed in my brain as I reminded myself to not judge a book by its cover.  Who knows, it could still turn out to be delicious, right? 

My skepticism was understandably great as I ripped off a piece to consume.  I was tentatively delighted at the moistness of the pretzel’s interior.  And as I popped it onto my tongue, bracing for the worst, each tastebud began to deliver an unexpected chemical message to my brain.  Is that…deliciousness I detect?  Deliciousness?! 

This recipe, my friends, turned out to be an EPIC WIN. 

For going from a seemingly EPIC FAIL to something wonderfully delectable and full of garlic flavor is, indeed, something deserving of the title EPIC. 

EPIC WIN Garlic Soft Pretzels*

Adapted from Sugar Laws

  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Stevia (or sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 Tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 cup hot water (as hot as your tap gets, or heat water over stove)
  • sea salt (optional)
  • cooking spray
  1. Dissolve yeast into water with a pinch of sugar, let stand 10 minutes.  The mixture should become creamy colored.  
  2. Mix the yeast mixture with flour, Stevia, salt, garlic powder, and canola oil.  Knead for 5 minutes.  As you knead, add 2 Tablespoons of water in small increments to the dough.  Add more water as needed. 
  3. Once the desired consistency is reached, let dough rise in a greased bowl for approximately 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and grease a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  5. Once dough has risen, pinch off a handful and roll it out into a long strand. Set aside. Repeat with the rest of the dough, about 5 times.
  6. Once all the strands are rolled out, pick up the first one and stretch it out again (the gluten will have relaxed and it should stretch further now). Twist strand into pretzel shape and place pretzel on greased baking sheet. Repeat with all remaining strands.
  7. Dissolve baking soda into hot water and stir until dissolved. Quickly dip each rolled pretzel into the mixture and return to the baking sheet. Sprinkle all the pretzels with sea salt if you’d like. Spray each pretzel quickly with cooking spray.  Bake for about 8 minutes, or until pretzels have browned slightly. 

*Note: So deliciously garlic-y, they’re good for keeping away vampires and the like – including but not limited to Edward Cullen.

Mini-ness

13 Jul

Why is mini-ness so gosh darn cute?  Miniature things seem have a lot more novelty than their regular-sized counterparts.  Take, for instance, a muffin.  Don’t get me wrong, the average muffin is pretty cool on its own.  But it pales in comparison to the same muffin batter baked in a mini muffin tin.  And muffins are just the beginning.

You’ve got mini me, mini skirts, mini M&Ms, mini marshmallows, mini chapstick, mini pens, mini cameras, min(n)i(e) mouse, mini flashlights, mini water bottles…you catch my drift.  I must say, though, that the best mini of all the minis in mini-land is mini chocolate chips.

Why, you may be pondering, do mini chocolate chips, which aren’t much smaller than normal-sized ones, take the cake?  It’s something that the English vocabulary isn’t equipped to describe.  When those little studs of chocolate melt into a baked good, it’s like a little burst of sweetness that’s neither underwhelming nor overpowering.  It’s just.  Right.

So a word to the wise: use mini chocolate chips in this recipe!  Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Whole Wheat Mini Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Adapted from Eating Well

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 ounces (1/4 cup) reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Stevia
  • 1/4 cup Egg Beaters
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degree F and grease an 8 x 8 baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Mix together flours, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.  Set aside.
  3. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat.  Continue stirring over low heat until you notice it developing a tinge of brown.  Pour into a mixing bowl.
  4. With electric mixer, beat together melted butter, cream cheese, brown sugar, and Stevia on low speed until smooth.  Add Egg Beaters and vanilla and continue beating until they’re mixed in well.
  5. Manually stir in dry ingredients just until combined.
  6. Pour batter into greased baking dish and smooth with a spatula.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until done.
  8. Remove from oven and allow it to cool.  Cut into 9 bars.

Did I mention to use mini chocolate chips in this recipe?  Use mini chocolate chips in this recipe!

Messy Eats

12 Jul

Throughout our first years of life, most of us are messy eaters.  Take yours truly, for example:

Green birthday cake frosting really does make for great puckering-picture-material, doesn’t it?

But once we develop greater hand-eye coordination, and learn how to use a spoon, fork, and knife without flipping the bowl of Spaghettios over our heads, eating becomes a much less difficult task.  And yet there’s an exception to every rule.

There will always be foods that are messy for even the most hygienic gourmand, like sloppy joes (unless they somehow became un-sloppy, in which case their name would have to be changed).  There really isn’t a clean way to eat them.  But just because something’s difficult to eat doesn’t make it inedible!  One simply must find an alternative consumption strategy, such as attacking it from the side.  Which is how you might need to approach these…

Glazed Cinnamon Sugar Banana Roll-Ups 

  • 2 10-inch whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 medium ripe banana, mashed
  • 2 teaspoons Stevia (or sugar)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to taste
  • Pam butter cooking spray
  • 5 toothpicks
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and grease a baking sheet.
  2. In a small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon together.  In another bowl, thoroughly mash banana.  Add mashed banana to cinnamon sugar and mix well.
  3. Lay out tortillas on flat surface, with one slightly overlapping the other.  It should look similar to a venn diagram.
  4. Spread banana mixture evenly across tortillas.  Spray some butter cooking spray on top of banana mixture.
  5. Carefully roll up tortillas, starting at the tortilla whose end is partially overlapped by the other.  This part will be messy!
  6. Place 5 toothpicks at even distance intervals across roll-up.  Carefully cut between toothpicks to make 5 roll-ups.
  7. Place roll-ups on greased baking sheet and bake for about 7 minutes.

Glaze

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon (1-1/2 teaspoons) milk
  • Ziploc bag
  1. Mix powdered sugar and milk.
  2. Pour glaze into Ziploc bag.
  3. Cut small tip from bag and glaze roll-ups.

Mmmmmm, messiness.

Imperfection is Beauty

9 Jul

What’s petite, round, and has no arms or legs?

You guessed it: Mini Fibrous Apple Crisps!

The “fibrous” part of the title says it all – each of these babies has around 5 grams of fiber.  Not too shabby for apple crisp, eh?

 I can read your mind; you’re wondering what the catch is.  Anything fibrous with a dessert-y name must certainly be too good to be true.

And that is where you’re…well, mostly wrong, but the slightest wee bit right.  There is a grain of truth to that statement.  The Fiber One “crust” on the bottom turned out to be more of a “grainy sand-like crumble.”  But, when these apple crisps are served atop vanilla yogurt in a parfait, or garnished with ice cream, it hardly matters.

 

Behind all beauty is an imperfection, no?  (Rhetorical question here.  You’re not supposed to come up with any counterexamples.)

Anywhoozlebees, it’s time to get our apple crisp on.

Mini Fibrous Apple Crisps

Yield: 6 crisps

“Crust”:

  • 2 Tablespoons light butter, melted
  • 1 cup Fiber One original cereal
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease 6 out of the 12 cups in a muffin pan.
  2. Place cereal in a blender or food processor and grind until it becomes a crumb-like consistency.  Put in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Melt butter over low heat in a saucepan.
  4. Pour melted butter over Fiber One crumbs and mix well.
  5. Distribute crumb mixture evenly into 6 greased muffin tins.  Press firmly onto the bottom of the tins with your fingers or some other utensil.
  6. Once finished, set muffin pan aside.

Apple crisp filling:

  • 1 large apple, peeled
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon light butter
  • 2 Tablespoons quick cooking oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Once apple is peeled, quarter it, halve these slices lengthwise, and then halve these slices lengthwise again.  Then cut them all in half so that you have about 1-inch long, thin, half-slices of apple.
  2. Distribute apple chunks evenly on top of the 6 cereal “crusts.” 
  3. Combine flour and brown sugar in a small separate bowl.  Cut in butter until mixture is in small chunks.
  4. Stir in oats and cinnamon.
  5. Distribute crumble evenly onto the apples. 
  6. Bake crisps for 35-40 minutes, or until apples are tender.
  7. Remove from oven and allow them to cool for a few minutes.  When ready to eat, carefully remove the desired number of crisps (some of the crust may not come out with the rest of the crisp) and serve with vanilla yogurt or ice cream!

Move over, Krispy Kreme

8 Jul

Original glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts are so 2009.  It’s time to update. 

Thus, the dawn of a new age has arrived.  The age of baked banana doughnuts.

Once I came to this realization, the future of the single overripe banana sitting on my counter suddenly seemed much brighter.  I’m all for brown speckled bananas, but there’s a point at which they’re simply too soft to eat by themselves.  At that point, my friends, is the point at which you must make these.

Baked Banana Doughnuts

Adapted from Oh She Glows

  • 1 ripe, mashed banana*
  • 1/4 c. Egg Beaters
  • 1/2 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3/8 cup (1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons) packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/8 cup (1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons) whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Grease baking sheet.
  2. Beat bananas, egg whites, oil, and brown sugar in large bowl. Add flours, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice. Mix until well blended.
  3. Scoop out 3 Tablespoons for each doughnut and place on baking sheet equally spread apart. Take a buttered knife to form doughnut holes in each doughnut’s center. Smooth edges of dough into a round doughnut as much as possible.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for about 7 minutes, or until done.

*Variation: The banana may be replaced by 4 oz. of packed pumpkin for baked pumpkin doughnuts.

Yield: 6-7 doughnuts.

(In case you’re wondering about the smaller-than-average yields of many of my recipes, read why at my updated About page.) 

Go bananas!

Keepin’ it Short and Sweet

7 Jul

If you have two X chromosomes, chances are you like chocolate.  If you have an X and a Y chromosome, it’s also likely you enjoy chocolate.  Which pretty much covers all of humanity. 

So if you’re human, you might like this.

Microwave Chocolate Chip Brownie For One

  • 1 Tablespoon whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoon sugar (or Stevia)
  • 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (or dark cocoa powder)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon chocolate chips
  • pinch of baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tablespoon applesauce
  • 1 Tablespoon chocolate milk (or soymilk)
  • 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar (optional)
  1. Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and about half of the 1/2 Tablespoon of chocolate chips in a microwave-safe mug or glass.
  2. Stir in applesauce, milk, and vanilla.
  3. Microwave on high for slightly more than 1 minute.
  4. Immediately after removing from microwave, sprinkle remaining half of chocolate chips on top of brownie.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar as well, if you’d like.

Is this making you hungry?

Fried + Chicken = Fricken?

4 Jul

Hello, everyone!  Having long been a foodie, I felt compelled to finally jump on the bandwagon with a blog.  *virtual handshake* 

So now that we’ve broken the ice with a formal introduction, I’ll elaborate a little.  I’m not only a foodie, but a competitive runner as well.  Foodie + Runner = Frunner?  Roodie?  Regardless of the label, I’m a hybrid between a cook and an athlete.  This meshing of interests isn’t surprising, however – nutrition and performance are certainly related and my goal is to optimize both.  

But enough about me.  You’ll get to know plenty about me in upcoming posts.  It’s time to see some food! 

Given that it’s Fourth of July, there’s no better time than the present to share these layered, red-white-and-blue cupcakes.  Red, white, and blue paste food colorings were used to turn cake batter into a myriad of Independence Day hues.  

The white cake batter was admittedly from a boxed mix – Pillsbury Moist Surpreme white cake – but shhhh.  Don’t ask, don’t tell.  And if you’re the type that enjoys complicating things in the name of homemade-ness, go right ahead.  My grandmother would whole-heartedly agree with you. 

Secondly, the frosting on top of the cupcake is Pillsbury’s Whipped Surpreme fluffy white frosting.  (I swear this isn’t a plug for Pillsbury.  Even though I find the ticklish Pillsbury doughboy awfully cute.)  Once again, you could always opt to make your own.  

The flower on top was created by piping red and blue decorator frosting (colors that were also achieved by mixing pure white decorator frosting with red and blue paste food colorings) with Wilton’s 104 decorating tip.  As what some may consider to be a “newbie” in the frosting decoration department, I used a Hershey’s kiss as a sturdy base for the rose. 

Behold: The Cupcake That’s Causing Our Nation’s Forefathers To Roll In Their Graves.  

Ain't she a beauty?

Fourth of July Cupcakes 

  • 3 eggs (or 4 egg whites)
  • 1 18.25-oz. package white cake mix
  • 1 cup water (or 1-1/4 cup if using egg whites)
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • blue paste food coloring
  • red paste food coloring
  • piping bag with decorating tip (or Ziploc bag)
  • whipped white frosting
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two 12-cup muffin pans with baking liners or grease with oil.  Prepare cake batter according to the box’s instructions.
  2. Divide cake batter as evenly as possible into three separate bowls.  In one bowl, add blue paste food coloring until it reaches the desired shade of blue.  In another bowl, add red paste food coloring until it reaches the desired shade of red.  Add nothing to the third bowl of white cake batter.
  3. Scoop spoonfuls of red, blue, and white cake batter into muffin tins.  Layer in whatever order you desire, filling each tin about 2/3 full.
  4. Place muffin tins in the preheated oven for about 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  5. Let the cupcakes cool for at least 15 minutes.  Once cooled, insert any decorating tip into piping bag and fill with whipped frosting.  Use piping bag (or a Ziploc bag with one corner cut off) to frost each cupcake.  If you’d like a swirled icing, Chica and Jo have great step-by-step instructions with pictures.

Frosting Roses 

  • decorator frosting (such as this)
  • blue paste food coloring
  • red paste food coloring
  • piping bag with Wilton 104 decorating tip
  • flower nail
  • Hershey kisses
  1. Divide frosting into two bowls.  Add red paste food coloring in one bowl until it reaches the desired shade of red.  Add blue paste food coloring in the other bowl until it reaches the desired shade of blue.
  2. Place decorator tip in piping bag and add red decorator frosting to the left half of the bag.  Then add blue decorator frosting to the right half of the bag.
  3. Follow the instructions from this YouTube video on how to make frosting roses.  You may want to do a few practice flowers beforehand.
  4. After completing each rose, put them, along with the wax paper they’re on, onto a small cutting board.  Once all of your roses are finished, place the cutting board in the freezer.  Once they’re solid, they can be removed from the wax paper and put on top of each frosted cupcake.