Potato Cauliflower Soup

Head on over to my other blog to see a recipe for Potato Cauliflower Soup. It’s delicious and perfect for fall! http://desperateforhealing.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/soups-on/

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Why I’ve been gone…

Hello all,

I am currently in the midst of trying to get a handle on my allergies and overall health.  I have created a new blog documenting my journey through a hardcore elimination diet/detox at http://www.desperateforhealing.wordpress.com .  Feel free to follow me over there if you are interested.  I will still be posting recipes both here and over there (I have a stack of previously baked goods that I can put up here), but I don’t know how regular my posts will be.  I appreciate your support and hope that you stick around as I hope to return to my regular baking activities once I am doing better.  Thanks so much!

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The best chocolate chip cookies I have ever eaten

Brown Butter Toasted Coconut Espresso Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from Joy the Baker and Annie’s Eats)

Yep. These cookies are a mouthful in more ways than one.  I should just call them “Awesome Cookies” or “The last chocolate chip cookie you’ll ever need,” but it doesn’t matter what you call them as long as you make them.   I basically made Joy the Baker’s recipe which is originally slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen.  I added the espresso component from the recipe on Annie’s Eats.

There is a lot going on in this cookie, but each element is necessary and imparts a particular flavor that marries beautifully with all the others.  To begin, butter is browned until just past golden – do not walk away when it starts to brown as it can (and will) go from perfect to disaster in a matter of seconds.  Trust me, I’ve saved butter from burning on more than one occasion as I tend to multitask when I shouldn’t.  Brown butter is a key component in adding a toasty, caramel aroma and flavor to a baked good.  It. is. heavenly.

While the butter browns, coconut is toasting away in the oven and at this point, my stomach was growling.  When you toast coconut, it transforms from a sweet and chewy product to a mellow, crisp addition.  Admittedly, I did not measure the coconut.  I poured about 1/2-3/4 c. on a baking sheet and went with it.  Because my husband is not a fan of coconut, I crushed the toasted coconut to essentially make a toasted coconut flour.  Doing so ensured evenly distributed flavor without having any chewy bits.  I love coconut and also preferred the even texture in the baked cookie.

Next up – espresso.  Add espresso powder to the dry ingredients.  The slightly bitter notes of espresso tone down the sweetness of the cookie and really puts these cookies over the top.  The espresso lingers on your tongue long after you eat the cookie.  It’s just perfect.

 

As far as the chocolate is concerned, I adore the pairing of Hershey’s Special Dark chips with this cookie.  I’m sure semi-sweet would be great as well, but the more intense, less sweet notes of dark chocolate just fit with the caramel, toasted flavors.   Every bite made my taste buds dance.  I converted my husband to the dark side of coconut in this cookie alone, but I call that a success.  Sometimes the most successful recipes are the ones that not only beckon people to try something new, but help them to appreciate and enjoy it.

 

 

 

 

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Banana Bread Crêpe “Cake”

Banana Bread Crêpe Cake (via Smitten Kitchen)

Brunch.  The only word I uttered when I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen’s site.  I had to plan a brunch with my friends JUST so I could make this ridiculous concoction.  And was it ever worth it.   Lighter than air crêpes are stacked, separated only by a barely sweetened tart and tangy cream cheese & Greek yogurt mixture.  Then, the pièce de résistance: BUTTERSCOTCH.  Not just any old butterscotch, either.  Toasted walnut butterscotch.  I don’t have to tell you how amazing walnuts become when they are toasted, but when they are stirred into a simmering butterscotch, they take on a whole new persona.

Visually, this cake is a masterpiece, albeit a bit messy.  I used a larger pan than was necessary to make the crêpes, so there were less of them.  This would have been even taller otherwise!  The flavor is very delicate.  You don’t taste much of the banana as it mellows due to the cinnamon and nutmeg in the batter and even further once paired with the cream cheese filling.  The overall taste is, oddly enough, almost a pumpkin flavor.  This set my creative juices flowing and you can count on there being a pumpkin version of this very cake come Fall.  Think upscale pumpkin roll (and easier, let me tell you!).

Do not be intimidated by this.  Once you try crêpes, they get easier with each one.  They keep wonderfully in the fridge for a few days and can be frozen as well.  It is a showstopper, one that begs for company to help you eat it.  Not to mention that a potluck brunch with the girls is a fantastic way to start your Saturday.  I’m already anticipating planning another one this summer…

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Cinnamon Pecan Streusel Scones

Cinnamon Pecan Streusel Scones (via Daydreamer Desserts)

I don’t often make scones.  I have nothing against them, but there are only a few recipes that I have in my arsenal that I deem worthy to be made more than once.  This is one of those recipes.  Scones take a little more work, but a very light hand.  The ultimate biscuit, they are sweet, buttery, and should make an appearance every now and then.

The magic begins long before the baking of these beauties.  Pecans are toasted lightly in a pan while you prepare the other ingredients.  The scent alone is enough to start your stomach growling.  Throw in the cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg and your kitchen will  wrap you in warmth.  The texture of these scones is a perfect blend of moist, chewy, soft, and crunchy from the streusel topping.  Fresh nutmeg really stands out as a star ingredient when paired with cinnamon and pecans.  It is an all too often forgotten spice that can highlight so many things from sweet to savory (it is often paired with spinach and other dark greens).

I cut all the scones out, baked a few and put the others in the freezer to be baked as needed.  They are at their best fresh from the oven when the streusel is still bubbling and the pecans are at their most fragrant.   Grab a cup of coffee and curl up on the couch under a throw blanket and be prepared to forget about the world while you indulge.

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Carrot Cake Pancakes

Carrot Cake Pancakes (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

When I saw this recipe that took carrot cake and converted it into pancake form, I knew I had to make them for breakfast ASAP. Joy the Baker is the mastermind behind this recipe, though I stumbled across it on Smitten Kitchen’s site.

I stayed true to the batter aspect of the recipe, but changed the cream cheese topping.  I opted for a lightly sweetened with brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla cream cheese “butter” that I smeared on each pancake before stacking and drowning my little tower in real maple syrup.  This proved to be the best combination of sweet and tart and is a technique I can’t wait to try with my pumpkin pancakes.

I love carrot cake.  The more cinnamon-y, the better in my opinion.  These pancakes retained the essence of a good carrot cake, though are much lighter and more moist.  The cinnamon cream cheese MADE these.  It elevated this humble carrot cake to a whole new level of deliciousness.  There’s just something about the way carrots, cinnamon, and cream cheese play together that perfectly complements each other.  Carrots are sweet, yet earthy.  Cinnamon is spicy and sweet.  Cream cheese balances all the sweet with just the right amount of tang that leaves your taste buds dancing and begging for more.  What could be better than dessert masquerading as breakfast?

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Bite-Sized Soft Pretzels

Bite-Sized Soft Pretzels (via Bobby Flay)

With the start of the baseball season last month as well as the fact that it’s been awhile since I posted, I thought this would be an appropriate recipe to share…online…because in person, these little morsels don’t last long.

I have to say I am a HUGE fan of soft pretzels. You know the shop in the mall? Yeah, that’s lunch.  Creating them at home satisfies my near-constant craving for a good chewy pretzel and my alter-baker-ego gets to have some fun.

Bite-sized is my new favorite way to both make pretzels and eat them.  They are so much easier to deal with and are the perfect dipping size into tangy yellow mustard.  Perfectly chewy with that quintessential “pretzel” flavor (from the baking soda bath they get before baking), they beg to be eaten by the bowlful.

I attempted two full sized pretzels and while they turned out ok, they were clumsy and awkward.  Not to mention the fact that getting that twist right is NOT as easy as the pro’s make it look.   However, I persevered and I did prevail.  But in the future, I will stick with bite-sized.  And “cheap yellow mustard” as we like to call it, is not just necessary, but required.  Sometimes I swear the pretzel is nothing more than a vessel for the mustard.

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