Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Happy Halloween!!! I know everyone's probably pretty pumpkin'd out already, but I just had to feature a pumpkin recipe today. These whoopie pies are a twist on the classic chocolate version. The mellow pumpkin flavor of the cookie pairs perfectly with the icing which is studded spices to be interesting without being overpowering.

The recipe comes from King Arthur Flour's Cookie Companion. It makes soft, moist, cake-like cookies which are then sandwiched around a tangy-sweet cream cheese filling. The cookies are so good you almost don't need the filling, thus enabling you to save a few calories! ... Or rendering them more acceptable to serve for breakfast.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
24 - 2" sandwich cookies | adapted from KAF's Cookie Companion

1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (15 oz.) canned pumpkin puree
2 1/4 cups flour

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons soft butter
2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup diced crystallized ginger, optional

1. Cookies: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease/line two baking sheets. Beat together the butter, oil, sugar, molasses, cake enhancer, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.

2. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, then beat in the eggs one at a time, until fluffy. Stir in the pumpkin. Add the flour in two additions, mixing well after each addition.

3. Use a mini-muffin scoop to deposit the thick batter onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2" around each mound. Bake until the cookies feel firm; a slight indentation will remain when you gently press them in the middle, about 14-16 minutes. Remove from the oven, cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then move to a rack to cool completely.

4. Filling: Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy. Beat in the sugar in two additions. Add the vanilla and beat for 2 to 3 minutes, until very fluffy. Stir in the crystallized ginger.

5. Assemble: Sandwich two cookies around 1 tablespoon of filling.

Friday, October 29, 2010

FFWD: Marie-Hélène's Apple Muffins

This week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe is for an apple cake. I decided to go with apple muffins instead, since we are a muffin-loving household. I don't think this recipe was supposed to be made into muffin form. The batter was packed with apples which made it a little too moist and delicate so I had to tweak the batter as I went to make it sturdy enough for the muffin tins.

Although they don't have a high-domed top, they rose nicely and baked up with a flat-ish, wide, slightly crispy top, just the way I like them. I used a little whole wheat flour and crushed up cereal (from the bottom of the box) but you could hardly notice it. I like throwing in a handful of All Bran cereal to most of the muffins I make - for a little added more fibre. Overall, they were pretty good, but next time I will stick to the cake version.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin Pecan Braid

This pretty braid gets a head-start from the use of Pillsbury Crescents. It's one of those recipes where the end product is more impressive than the effort required to produce it. The crescents have a fragrant pumpkin filling and tender pecans. We enjoyed it both fresh from the oven as well as for breakfast the next morning. Once cooled, they are easy to transport hold their shape nicely when sliced.

If you had the time and the inclination you could make your own dough from scratch or try this Copycat recipe for Pillsbury Crescents.

On the topic of Clone or Almost Famous recipes, I want to remind you lovely bloggers about my cook-along club which started last month: The Copycat Club. It features clones of famous favorites in a monthly round-up. I will be doing the next one on the 7th of November, so please send me any blog posts - old or new - to be included. I will post a pic of your creation with a link to your blog in the round-up post. Click Here to view October 2010's round-up. There were some great recipes posted! I also just got my copy of More of America's Most Wanted Recipes and I'm excited to try some of the P.F. Chang dishes and the Cheesecake Factory pastas!

Pumpkin Pecan Braid

3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg, separated
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 can (8 oz) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

1/2cup powdered sugar
2-3 teaspoons milk
1 tablespoon chopped pecans

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. Mix pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and egg yolk. Stir in 1/2 cup pecans.

2. If using crescent rolls: Unroll dough onto cookie sheet; firmly press edges and perforations to seal. Press to form 13x7-inch rectangle. If using dough sheet: Unroll dough onto cookie sheet. Press to form 13x7-inch rectangle. Spread filling in 3 1/2-inch-wide strip lengthwise down center of dough rectangle to within 1 inch of ends.

3. With scissors or sharp knife, make cuts 1 inch apart on long sides of dough rectangle just to edge of filling. Fold strips at an angle across filling, overlapping ends and alternating from side to side. Beat egg white in small bowl until foamy; brush over dough.

4. Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until deep golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet. Combine powdered sugar and milk in a small bowl to drizzling consistency. Drizzle over the braid and sprinkle with chopped pecans before serving.

DB: Mini Cake Donuts

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

I have been meaning to make donuts for a long time but kept putting off because it involved deep frying. But I have since overcome my fear of hot oil and have come to embrace its yummy goodness.

I used a cake donut recipe from Canadian Living magazine. I would have preferred to try a yeasted donut but didn't plan well enough ahead of time. These came together as easily as pancake batter, however, they required a 1 hour rest in the fridge. I am THRILLED with how they turned out. Super cute, 1 1/2" donuts or as the recipe directs, donut holes. I used my fingers to shape them.

My dad preferred them without the sugar, opting to have them dunked in his tea like a biscuit. Overall, a success! I will definitely be trying a yeasted version in the future and perhaps experimenting with a Krispy Kreme Copycat recipe.

Cake Donuts
from Canadian Living

3 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 cup light cream (10% M.F.)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
Canola oil or safflower oil or vegetable oil, for deep-frying,

Cinnamon Sugar for coating

In bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. In small bowl, whisk 10% and whipping creams and vanilla. Set aside.

In large bowl, beat eggs with sugar until pale; gradually beat in cream mixture. Stir in flour mixture to make soft sticky dough. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Spray a mini (1 tbsp) ice-cream scoop or 1 tbsp measure with nonstick spray. In deep fryer or deep saucepan, heat 2 inches oil until deep-fryer thermometer reads 350 degrees F. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls into oil, 6 at a time; deep-fry, turning once, until golden and puffed, 3 to 4 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Transfer to rack; let cool slightly then toss in cinnamon sugar to coat.

Monday, October 25, 2010

TWD: All-American Baby Apple Pies

This recipe was chosen by Emily of Sandmuffin, p. 300-302.

SOOO cute! This recipe was the perfect pick this week. My son has been asking for "fruit pie" for the past few days, so he was thrilled when I said that I would make him an apple pie that was just his size. "I ate the WHOLE PIE mommy!".

I made them extra special for him, with a mountain of whipped cream and caramel sauce. Hmm... I hope that doesn't make me a bad mom for giving him so much sugar! Tee hee.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Raspberry Lemon Buttermilk Scones

This recipe comes from Tyler's Ultimate, via theFood Network. They are flaky and beautifully flecked with lemon zest which plays well with the juicy, tart-sweet raspberries on your palate. I used frozen raspberries with great results. The buttermilk adds a second layer of flavor and tenderness. I find that you can almost never go wrong using buttermilk. :)

As I am typing this, I just realized that it feels funny to be writing a post about lemons and raspberries when when everyone else is writing about pumpkins and apples, but that's the beauty of frozen fruit. You get to enjoy it all year long!

Raspberry Lemon Buttermilk Scones
Makes 8 | adapted from Tyler Florence

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsps sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
3/4 cup buttermilk

Lemon Icing:
2 tbsp lemon juice
Powdered Sugar as needed to achieve desired consistency

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a food processor bowl add flour, sugar, zest, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add cold butter cubes and pulse until you have the texture of coarse bread crumbs. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, then add 3/4 cup of buttermilk and stir to combine. As it comes together add berries and fold dough to incorporate berries but not break them up too much.

2. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto a parchment lined sheet pan. Bake until golden brown, and nice and puffy, about 17 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack.

3. Make Icing: Add powdered sugar to the lemon juice, a little at a time, to achieve the desired consistency. If it gets too thick then add a little milk or water to thin it out. You can make the icing thinner for drizzling or thicker for spreading, whichever you like.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Overnight Belgian Waffles

This tried and true recipe, originally from Marion Cunningham, has David Lebovitz's stamp of approval here. They are easier than pancakes and you can prep the night before to wake up to worry-free waffles that are crispy and golden outside, and moist and soft inside.

Belgian waffles use a yeast-leavened batter which makes them lighter, thicker, and crispier. The waffle irons also make bigger, deeper pockets. American waffles are made from a batter leavened with baking powder and are usually served topped with butter and syrups. They are generally denser and thinner than the Belgian waffle.

I freeze leftover waffles. Then on weekday mornings I nuke them for 20-30 seconds, pop them in the toaster and serve em up. They're almost as good as fresh and definitly better than Eggo.

Raised Overnight Waffles
Fannie Farmer Cookbook

1/2 cup warm water
1 package dried yeast
2 cups warm milk
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Use a large mixing bowl. The batter will rise to double its original volume. Put the water in the mixing bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let stand to dissolve for 5 minutes. Add the milk, butter, salt, sugar, and flour to the yeast mixture and beat until smooth and blended (I do this by hand). Cover tightly and let stand overnight in the fridge.

Take it out 1 hour before you plan to use it. Just before cooking the waffles, beat in the eggs and add the baking soda and stir until well mixed. The batter will be thin. Pour into a very hot waffle iron (amount of batter will vary based on your iron). Bake until golden and crisp. This batter will keep for a few days in the refrigerator.

TWD: Caramel Pumpkin Tart

This week's recipe was chosen by Janell of Mortensen Family Memoirs on pages 322-323.

It features a sweet, caramel twist on your standard pumpkin pie.
Dorie said to go dark with the caramel. I think I went a little TOO dark! There ended up being some blackened bits that I didn't scrape into the final product. I was afraid that the whole thing would taste like burnt sugar, but my fears were soon alleviated when I tried the first forkful.

I'm still trying to accustom myself to the texture of pumpkin pie. I love pumpkin spice-flavored treats like pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin loaf, I just don't like the custardy texture of pumpkin PIE. I opted to make 2 thin 8" tarts instead of 1 deep 9" pie. The ratio of sweet, buttery crust to rich, complex pumpkin filling was just right for me.

Bonus: My kitchen smelled soooo good. It trumped any pumpkin pie Yankee Candle I've ever smelled :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

FFWD: Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

This soup reminded me a lot of the "Pho Ga" at the Vietnamese restaurant in our neighborhood. Our family loves Pho. We love it so much that we usually just order the noodles and soup, no meat. In the non-meat version, tthey usually add broccoli florets and carrots to the broth and cook until crisp tender. I'm not sure if that's authentic Vietnamese, but I love how the veggies soak up all the yummy soup flavors and yet retain their crispness and brightness. I meant to add some to this soup but alas, I forgot at the last minute. I did however intentionally leave out the spicy stuff because I'm a wimp. This tasted excellent with a few squirts of Hoisin sauce and some extra soy sauce.

The recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspan's new book: Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. Once you have this book, be sure to join in the cookalong at French Fridays with Dorie.

Also please check out my new group - The Copycat Club - and send me links to your copycat posts for a monthly round-up. The first round-up was on October 7th HERE. We're going to make restaurant faves in our own kitchens and share our adventures and successes. Contact me at or leave me a comment on the Copycat Club page to grab the badge and be added to the blogroll.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Caramel Apple Dip

This smooth, creamy caramel cream cheese dip has all the season's nostalgic flavor of caramel apples without the work. The cream cheese offsets the sugary sweetness of the caramel and addts a nice tang to the dip.

This is a good way to get your kids to eat more fruit. My 3 1/2 year old son ate 2 whole apples in one sitting because of this dip. I had to take it away from him so I would have some left for me! You can use it for dipping apples, spreading on crackers... or just eating by the spoonful (oops, did I just write that?)

There are a few variations of this recipe but you can tweak it to make it sweeter or more tangy depending on the ratio of caramel to cream cheese you put in.
Tip: You can dress it up for parties by sprinkling the top with chopped walnuts and drizzling it with some caramel sauce.

Why you must make this:
1) It's foolproof, versatile and EASY
2) It's yummy even with fat free/low fat cream cheese
3) It keeps well refrigerated - good for pot lucks and for make ahead snacks

Caramel Apple Dip I
16 individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped
1/4 cup water
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, or in the microwave, melt caramels with water, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
Cream together cream cheese and sugar. Fold in caramel mixture. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Caramel Apple Dip II
1/4 cup sugar (optional)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

Combine all ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Caramel Apple Dip III
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 - 3/4 cup bottled caramel sundae sauce

Combine all ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

TWD: Fold-Over Tortes

The recipe was chosen by Cakelaw, an Aussie lawyer and baker. Her blog will have today's recipe in it. I couldn't decide on one filling so I did 2 smaller versions:

1) apple apricot
2) pear cranberry

I also rolled the crust out on s bed of sugar for added sweetness. The rich, smooth custard smell was intoxicating. I nibbled at the bits of custard that seeped out of the spring form pan and baked onto the cookie sheet beneath it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Two-Bite Blondies

Hmm... It's gotta be a good day because today is 10-10-10 :)

These little gems are a buttery, blonde version of the popular "two bite brownies" sold in every North American supermarket (or at Costco in huge plastic tubs - lol). These baby blondies are dense, rich and filled with the mellow sweetness of brown sugar studded with melty chocolate chips. These are downright sinful.

They are also a great way to use up the crumbs at the bottom of your bag of chips. The potato chip crumbs are not distinguishable in the finished product, however, they add a hint of saltiness and "je ne sais quoi" to the texture. The recipe doesn't call for salt because of the salt from the chips. Potato flakes are often added to breads and doughs to improve their texture (says Cook's Illustrated). Just so you don't think I'm crazy, Emeril Lagasse also has a Potato Chip Cookie recipe on the Food Network. So throw your skepticism out the window and give these a try! Just make sure you use a thinner chip rather than the thick, rippled Kettle Chips.

I'm submitting this to Brenda's Canadian Kitchen for Cookbook Sundays.

Two-Bite Blondies
Makes 24 | adapted from Marcy Goldman

1 cup butter, melted
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda mixed with 1 tbsp hot water
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup crushed plain potato chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 24 cup mini muffin pan with nonstick spray.
2. With paddle attachment on mixer, cream utter and sugars together until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and the baking soda mixture. Once combined, add the flour and salt and stir in the chocolate chips and potato chips.
3. Pack the batter into the mini muffin cups but do not over-fill. Bake 15-17 minutes or until golden brown on top and set. Cool completely on wire racks then freeze for 45-60 minutes in the pan (to make for easier removal). Remove frozen tartlets from the pan and store in an airtight container so they stay soft and chewy.

Friday, October 8, 2010

FFWD: Gérard's Mustard Tart

This is my first French Fridays (FF) post! We are starting in on Dorie Greenspan's new book - Around My French Table (AMFT).

I'm especially excited because Dorie selected the October 2010 recipes herself! It's so cool to have the author interacting with our blogalong group. To be honest, I would have never bought this book if not for this group.
1) I prefer baking over cooking
2) I'm not a huge fan of French food

But I *AM* a huge fan of Dorie's, so here I am. Challenging myself and widening my palate's horizons. This tart was a nice ease-into the group. It was something I'm used to; Something a lot like a quiche. I used 1/2 the amount of mustard called for in the recipe because I served it to my 3 year old and didn't want to overwhelm his tastebuds. It was fragrant and delicious in its balance of smooth, eggy filling and al dente crunch of the carrots and leeks.

Now that I've got my feet wet I'm looking forward to the other recipes this book has to offer. The beautiful food photos alone are worth the $25 in my opinion.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Copycat Club: October 2010

Welcome to the debut post of The Copycat Club - a cooking/baking blogalong started by me. I hope you will choose to join in the fun! Click here for more details.

Grab my badge and join in the fun!

Here's the plan: Once a month I will post a round-up of the "Copycat" or "Clone" or "Almost-Famous" recipes. All you need to do is grab the button above reference the Copycat Club or my blog in your post and email me the link to be included in the round up posted on the 7th of every month. My email is

I love the variety of recipes everyone chose. Here's who joined me this month:

Brenda of Brenda's Canadian Kitchen made Chi-Chi's Chimichangas

Danielle of Adventures of a Blonde Baker made Lofthouse Sugar Cookies

Kitchen Flavors made Taj Hotels Mustard Prawns

Jennifer of Jennifer's Treasured Recipes made Little Debbie's Oatmeal Creme Pies

Brenda of Brenda's Canadian Kitchen also made Luby's Butternut Brownie Pie

Danielle of Adventures of a Blonde Baker made Dairy Queen's Pumpkin Pie Blizzards

Debbi Does Dinner made Panera Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich with Pesto Hummus

Chaya of Comfy Cook made Neiman Marcus Cookies

Lastly, I made Domino's Cinna Stix

I also made Milestones Restaurant Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Thank you everyone for helping me kick off this club with success! Love ya :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Domino's CinnaStix Copycat

This is a really easy recipe, especially if you have pre-made pizza dough on hand. Domino's Cinna Stix are just like savory breadsticks except instead of the garlic/cheese on top and a side of pizza sauce, they are sprinkled with a a cinnamon-sugar mixture and a side of sweet, vanilla icing for dipping. Me being a sucker for anything cinnamon, I think these are delicious.

When you're making your own pizza, make a little extra dough and try some of your own home made CinnaStix for literally, pennies! Check out and join in the monthly Copycat Club (see link in my header).

Domino's Cinnastix
Makes 8 sticks

1 package prepared pizza crust (or your favorite dough recipe)
1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Icing for dipping
1 lb powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Roll out pizza dough into a large rectangle.
3. Brush melted margarine liberally over the dough. Slice the dough into either long sticks, or cut dough in half, and then slice into smaller sticks. Place on an lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until done.
4. In a small bowl combine sugar, and cinnamon, mix well. Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture liberally over the hot breadsticks straight out of the oven.
5. While the sticks are cooking mix together the powdered sugar, milk, melted butter, and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Serve on the side for dipping.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

TWD: Apple Butter Bundt Cake

This week I did something a little different. It's still along the same TWD theme, but the apple bundt cake is not from our bakealong book. However, it is still a delicious apple Bundt cake recipe by our beloved Dorie, just from a different book. For the actual TWD recipe this week, Lynne of Honey Muffin chose Double Apple Bundt Cake on pages 184 and 185.

I was at the library a few days ago with my son when I saw this older book by Dorie Greenspan called Sweet Times: Simple Desserts for Every Occasion, published 1991. Being a devoted Dorie fan, I just had to borrow it. While Zach played with Thomas the Train I thumbed through the book, making mental bookmarks. It's a small book with a lot of classic recipes such as Bran Muffins and Cream Scones. It also has some recipes which are reprinted in her newer and more well known book, Baking: From My Home to Yours. It was an interesting book to skim but not to buy, especially if you already own "Baking".

Dorie says this cake is even better after it has had a chance to rest for a day and for the flavors to develop. This moist, tender cake had a lovely, complex mix of flavors. I used my easy, home made Honey Spiced Apple Butter for this cake, but I'm sure applesauce with some extra cinnamon would also work. If you like apple butter, also check out these Apple Butter Cookies from Anna Olson of the Food Network Canada- they are wonderfully spiced, moist and remind me of muffin tops!

Apple Butter Bundt Cake
1 - 10" Bundt | Sweet Times by Dorie Greenspan

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup apple butter
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
2 apples, finely chopped or grated
1 cup walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan.
2. Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add eggs and continue to beat. Add apple butter and mix until combined.
3. In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in apples and walnuts. Transfer batter to prepared Bundt pan.
4. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. The flavors of this cake are even better the day afterwards.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Soy-Glazed (Tamari) Almonds

These have a great brittle-like, salty crunch. Unlike tamari almonds, these ones are glazed, not dusted, with flavoring. The recipe comes from a book called Party Nuts by Sally Sampson. It has 50 recipes for all different types of nuts, different spices, salty, sweet, you name it. There is something for everyone in this book. My favorites so far are the peppered candied walnuts, vanilla walnuts and shellacked balsamic pecans. Yum!

Nuts make great gifts. Package them up in a pretty cellophane bag tied with a bow and a cute little gift card and you're good to go! I will probably be doing this for Christmas gifts this year. Fast, beautiful, tasty and best of all: easily prepared ahead of time. Better yet, you could give a copy of this book (Only about $10 at Amazon) with a gift bag of nuts. Trust me, you'll have some happy recipients.

I am submitting this recipe to brenda's canadian kitchen for Cookbook Sundays :)

Soy-Glazed [Tamari] Almonds
Makes 2 cups | adapted from Party Nuts

2 cups raw almonds (original recipe calls for walnuts)
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp sugar

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment. Place all ingredients in a bowl and toss until nuts are well coated.
2. Transfer nuts to prepared sheet in a single layer. Bake, stirring occasionally, for 20-35 minutes, until nuts are toasted and the glazes has caramellized on the nuts. Be careful not to burn them.
3. Remove from oven and immediately loosen nuts with a spatula then set aside to cool before serving.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

We are officially in October! Canadian Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away and I'm getting excited about all the holiday baking that lies just around the corner, especially the holiday cooking magazines and special publications. I look forward to embracing the smells, tastes and comforts of the cooler, fall weather.

When I think of brownie recipes (or bar recipes in general) I usually prefer ones with shorter ingredients lists and uncomplicated instructions. The shorter, the sweeter. I usually flip or click away from brownie recipes that look too long and involved. However, these pretty swirled ones caught my attention and in reality the long ingredient list and seemingly directions aren't so long after all. It goes by pretty quickly and the batters swirl together beautifully to create a satisfyingly elegant, marbled look. The cheesecake topping holds its shape even when sliced, which gives these bars nice, clean edges and a neat presentation. A tastebud warning: Don't expect an overwhelming Peanut Butter flavor to these. The taste is more subtle and closer cheesecake than to peanut butter. I think they are a nice change the more commonly seen over the top peanut butter-packed desserts.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies
9" Square Pan | Bon Appétit, Jan. 2009

Brownie layer:
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cheesecake layer:
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1. For brownie layer: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Grease and line a 9" square pan.

2. Stir chocolate and butter in medium saucepan over low heat until smooth; cool 10 minutes. Using a mixer or a whisk, beat sugar, eggs, and vanilla in medium bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in chocolate mixture then beat in flour and salt. Spread batter in pan.

3. For cheesecake layer: Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, and vanilla in medium bowl until smooth. Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in cream, then flour. Spread the cheesecake batter over the brownie layer, reserving 1/3 cup of the batter.

4. Place chocolate in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on low power in 10-second intervals until chocolate begins to melt, then stir until smooth. Mix chocolate into reserved 1/3 cup cheesecake batter. Drop chocolate batter by heaping teaspoonfuls over the cheesecake layer. Using a thin knife, marble the chocolate and cheesecake layer together.

5. Bake brownies until edges are puffed and center is set, about 40-45 minutes. Cool brownies in pan on rack. Cover; chill fully - at least 1 hour. Serve cold.