Browsing articles tagged with " Baked Goods"

Almond Butter Dark Chocolate Cookies

Almond Butter Dark Chocolate Cookies  Rainy days are made for baking cookies… and eating cookies. Or to be exact, eating three cookies in a row plucked straight from the still hot baking tray. What…no, I would never do that! I always wait patiently for the cookies to cool before stuffing them in my mouth. Ha! Yeah right, I mean does anyone wait? Seriously, the person who can resist devouring cookies still warm from the oven is clearly a better person than me. There’s just something about the thrill of burning my fingertips on gooey melted chocolate and the roof of my mouth on piping hot dough that I simply can’t resist. Come on, what’s a few burned fingers when what you get in exchange is mouthful of amazing almond butter cookie mixed with a generous bite of dark chocolate? Clearly the reward far outweighs the sacrifice.Almond Butter Dark Chocolate CookiesThese cookies did a fine job of brightening up what was otherwise a dreary rainy day. They also gave me an excuse to try out a new kind of sugar I recently discovered. It’s called Coconut Sugar and is made from the sap which drips from coconut flower blossoms! Pretty cool huh? This is a traditional sweetener that’s been used for years in southeast Asia. The process for making the sugar sounds similar to how we make maple syrup. A little cut is made in the blossom from which the sap flows out and is collected in bamboo containers. The sap is then heated over a long period of time during which the moisture evaporates until a thick paste forms. Sometimes you can find coconut sugar sold in this paste-like form, but it seems that the most common type has been cooked even further until it becomes a granulated sugar.This is the type I bought. It looks kind of like a cross between turbinado and brown sugar. Coconut sugar tastes pretty similar to plain white cane sugar except that is has a hint of caramel flavor reminiscent of brown sugar. I think you could successfully use it as a substitute for either white or light brown sugar. There’s several reasons why coconut sugar is all the rage these days. First, because it’s minimally processed (especially the brands labeled organic) and contains no additives or bleaching products. Second, it has trace amounts of minerals like zinc and iron. And third, it boasts a low glycemic index which is a safer alternative for those with diabetes because it doesn’t cause such a rapid spike in blood sugar. Of course, like every product that claims to be a “healthier” sweetener there are questions popping up about the true nature of this sugar and just how low the glycemic index really is. It’s my opinion that all sugars should be used sparingly regardless of what the GI number is, but what really draws me to coconut sugar is the fact that it hasn’t been processed to death or treated with bleach and other nasty things that I would rather not put in my body. For that same reason my favorite sweeteners lately have been honey and maple syrup. The problem is that it can sometimes be hard to use these liquid sweeteners in recipes that call for dry sugar. In these cases coconut sugar seems like a great alternative.

Speaking of maple syrup…I couldn’t resist including just a little. I suspected that the maple flavor would be the perfect compliment to the almond butter and the teaspoon of cinnamon that I added. Guess what? I was right.
This was my first time making almond butter cookies. Well, actually my second time because the first batch, while tasty, came out with a texture more like cake than a cookie. The solution was more butter-like twice as much butter. I had this theory in my head that since I was including almond butter I could use less regular butter. Not true. Almond butter does not act the same as butter made from a dairy product, at least not in these cookies. The almond butter has a very mild flavor- in fact, I couldn’t detect any almond flavor in these cookies at all. There is a slight nutty taste that is sooo good along with the cinnamon and maple flavors. This amazing combo makes these cookies pretty irresistible in my book. I also added lots of chocolate chips…because I could.
These are lumpy looking cookies that don’t spread much as you bake them. I smashed the first batch down with a fork like you would with traditional peanut butter cookies, but for this batch I decided to leave them as is in all their lumpy glory. If you want a thinner cookie go ahead and give them the fork treatment but be sure to reduce the baking time by a few minutes. Yum!
Almond Butter Dark Chocolate Cookies

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Honey Sweetened Meyer Lemon Tarts

Meyer Lemon Tarts
I wish I had a scratch and sniff computer…actually I wish you had a scratch and sniff computer. That way you could be as enchanted by the floral aroma of these wonderful little Meyer lemons as I am. These lemons are so fragrant that even before I zested the peels, sliced them open and squeezed out the juice a honey tinged, fresh lemon scent was wafting around my kitchen. I first used Meyer lemons about a month ago when I made Carrot Muffins with Meyer Lemon Glaze. They were good…in fact they were eat two in a row good. The moist carrot muffins studded with lemon zest and drizzled with a thin honey lemon glaze were perfect for my first experiment with these special, slightly sweet lemons. This time though when I brought home a bag filled with the egg yolk colored little cuties I knew I wanted to make something that really let the lemon flavor shine. I wanted a bust of pure lemon flavor in every bite. I wanted to make a recipe that used LOTS of lemon juice…
and lots of lemon zest. So naturally I turned to lemon curd. Curd is all over the Internet these days (could someone please  come up with a better name for it than curd) – lemon curd, blood orange curd, grapefruit curd, key lime curd- you name the citrus and someone has made a curd out of it.
For a long time lemon meringue pie was one of my favorite desserts which means that I’ve made quite a bit of lemon curd in my life time. Never with Meyer lemons though. And never with honey! I spotted this recipe over on the Cookie + Kate blog where she made both a blood orange and a Meyer lemon curd sweetened with honey instead of white sugar. Since I loved the honey and lemon glaze that I made for  my carrot muffins I was eager to try it. It was totally the right choice. The honey adds just a touch of sweet to the floral-scented Meyer lemons and the result is a slightly sweet yet wonderfully tangy smooth curd. The other tip that I picked up from Kate was how to make lemon curd with no straining and no risk of cooked egg bites tarnishing the final product. Basically the idea is to cream the butter and honey like you would if making a cake, then incorporate the eggs and juice before cooking. It worked really well and will defiantly be the method I turn to from now on when making any kind of curd.
For the tart crust I decided on a sweet buttery shortbread type with lots of ground almonds. I love the nutty flavor that the almonds lend to the dough and they also provide a bit of crispy texture that compliments the silky smooth curd perfectly. 
I made mini tarts and blind baked them filled with pie weights. If you don’t have pie weights you can use dried beans but be sure not to skip this step altogether. If you try to bake the tart crust without weights the dough will bubble up in the middle leaving no room for the delicious lemon curd. Believe me, I’m telling you this from experience.
Here they are fresh out of the oven. Almost good enough to eat even with out the lemon curd.
And here they are filled with sweet and tangy lemon curd and topped with fresh whipped cream.Meyer Lemon Tarts

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Poppy Seed Everything Rolls

Poppy Seed Everything Rolls
Last week I experienced a sort of bread mania. It all started with our trip to Trader Joe’s and a loaf of their incredible Multi-Grain Seed Bread. I buy this bread every time I go to Trader Joe’s- which unfortunately is not very often because the closest one to where I live is 150 miles away! Come on Trader Joe’s, get with it. Us country folks like good food too. I’m not saying that we don’t have some wonderful local bakeries around here, because we do. Lots of them in fact, but none that make this particular bread. Loaded with poppy seeds and topped with a mixture of various seeds like sunflower and flax, this bread is flavorful, crunchy and very addictive. We consumed the entire loaf in oh, about 2 days and even then I couldn’t stop thinking about the poppy seed laced dough with the crispy topping (maybe it’s good we don’t have a TJs close by). Then a thought popped in my head…I’ll make my own. But I will make it whole wheat instead of multi-grain, and I will form the dough into rolls, and I will tie the rolls into a knot shape, and I will sprinkle them with a crunchy super flavorful everything bagel topping, and I will eat them all!. Yes, this is really how my mind works. I progressed from whole wheat to knot shapes to a salty garlic tinged topping all in one delicious burst of inspiration. Poppy Seed Everything Rolls
The result? A hearty, chewy roll flecked with tiny poppy seeds and topped with a satisfying crunchy and super flavorful mix of garlic, onion, salt and more seeds.  Not a replica of the coveted Trader Joe’s bread, but a pretty satisfying stand in. Now if I could just figure out how to make a version of their Veggie and Flax Seed Tortilla Chips…Poppy Seed Everything Rolls

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