Breakfast Brownies

Breakfast Brownies 12

When Atlas posted this recipe to my Facebook newsfeed and suggested I make it for the next time we went over for dinner, I knew it wasn’t really a suggestion.  I didn’t have some of the ingredients on hand (because as we all know I’m a huge fan of butter, eggs, and refined sugar, and that’s not likely to change any time soon), so I did make some substitutions.  If you’d like to go for the original version, just check it out at Eat Drink Love.

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Start by preheating your oven to 350°F and spray a 8″ x 8″ baking dish.  Line the dish with parchment paper so that you have two little handles sticking out.

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Grind up about 2 tablespoons flax in your coffee grinder (wipe it out before and after of course, or use a separate one). Flax is amazing for you, but it will do you no good if you don’t grind it up first.

Breakfast Brownies 1

Add the flax to a bowl with 3/4 cup oats, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 cup cocoa.

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Give that a good stir.

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Find a lovely ripe banana and smush it up with a fork.

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Add that to the oat mixture, along with 1/4 cup coconut oil, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup honey, and 1/2 cup milk.

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Stir that around and then slop it into your prepared pan.

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I forgot I was supposed to stir these in and so I sprinkled 1/4 cup chocolate chips on top.  Very decorative.

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Bake for 17-20 minutes, until the centre is solid and tests clean with a toothpick.  Set on a wire rack to cool completely.

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After cutting the brownies into little pieces, store them in the fridge.

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To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of this recipe.  I don’t like baking with coconut oil as I find it too heavy and greasy, and so that’s all I could taste, but everyone else seemed to like them just fine.

Boozy Cookie Croutons

Biscotti 30

… Otherwise known as BISCOTTI.  If you WANT to call it that. Cait likes to make biscotti every year and this year she dragged me over to make it for her help her out and learn a few things. We doubled our recipe but we were making a billion, so I’ll give you the single recipe here, which produces one heckuva lotta biscotti.

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Start with your dry ingredients.  In a small bowl, whisk together 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder.  We were also making a gluten-free version for Cait’s sister Jul so we did the same recipe again with the Robin Hood ready to go gluten-free flour.

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In a larger bowl, cream together 1/2 cup room temperature butter and 3/4 cup granulated sugar.

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Add to that 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and mix until well combined.  If you had an electric mixer this would be an easier task, but I only had my trusty wooden spoon.

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Finely grate the zest of 2 oranges (eat the oranges because you need vitamin C this time of year) and plop that into the mix, together with 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur.

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Slowly add your flour mix into your wet mix, then add in about a cup of your nut of choice and some chocolate chips (again, probably about a cup — we just dumped the package in).

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At this point stirring becomes next to impossible, so I made Cait take over and she kneaded the dough into submission.

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The gluten-free version was even tougher and she had to wrestle it to the floor in order to get some leverage.  We ended up adding a whole lotta extra booze to the GF version just to moisten it.  Whoops.

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Form your dough into a happy ball and chuck it in the fridge to chill out for about 20 minutes.  While this is going on you can preheat your oven to 350°F and line some baking sheets with parchment paper.

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When the dough is chilled, separate it into several little tubes.

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Roll the tubes out into long rectangles about 3/4″ thick and 4″ wide.  Our GF ones were a little thicker.

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Place as many rectangles as you can fit on your baking trays (don’t worry, they’re not going to expand too much) and chuck them in the oven for 30 minutes to bake.

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When they’re ready, set them out to cool for 5-10 minutes.  Turn your oven down to 300°F.

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Using a sharp bread knife and a downwards cut, slice your biscotti into 1″ wide pieces.

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The GF ones began their structural crumble at this point.

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Tip your biscotti pieces until they’re cut-side-up and bake them for a further 30 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature before storing or serving.

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The gluten-free ones, made with the Robin Hood gluten-free flour, did not turn out as well.  To boost cohesion, we ended up dumping a huge amount of Grand Marnier into the mix.  I think in retrospect, I would have used an extra egg, and I would have made my own flour mix.  I think in this one I would have employed a bit of coconut flour, which I like for its relative stickiness, as well as some xanthan gum for its gluey properties.

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We packed them up in festive baggies!

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Double Chocolate Cranberry-Orange Cookies

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I had no idea that when I came up with this recipe the result would taste almost exactly like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange.  If that’s a thing that you like, then you will like these, guaranteed.

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Preheat your oven to 375°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Take an orange and zest it.

Double Chocolate Cran-Orange Cookies 2

Enjoy that fragrance.

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Eat the orange.  It’s good for you.

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In a small bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup all purpose flour, 1/3 cup cocoa, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

Double Chocolate Cran-Orange Cookies 1

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and 1/2 cup brown sugar, until fluffy and pale (like a vampire corgi?).

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Beat in 1 egg and the orange zest.

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The reason you see two yolks is because I doubled the recipe for my own wicked reasons. I’m not trying to hoodwink you.

Slowly add in the flour/cocoa mixture. Beat on low, or you will end up with flour and cocoa up your nose. Guaranteed.

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Dump in 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup dried sweetened cranberries and stir to combine.

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Drop the cookies from a tablespoon onto your baking sheets (or freeze them in balls for later, which I also did).

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Bake for 8 minutes, rotating halfway through, until just set in the centre.  Allow them to sit on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.  And then of course you will need to eat them.

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Double Chocolate Cran-Orange Cookies 14

S’mores, in a cookie – FAILED

Failed S'mores 9

Wow.  This could have gone much better.

I was trying to make a summery treat as a last hurrah for my Sweet Treats Club at work and I thought, what’s more summery than some nice chewy s’mores?  I mean really.  There’s nothing.  Except maybe beer.  But that would be inappropriate for work I think.  At least before noon.

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And I saw a bunch of recipes on the internet that incorporated elements of s’moreishness in their makeup but nothing that really screamed, holy smokes, this is the cookie version of my favourite campfire treat.  I mean there were cookies with graham cookies embedded in them, with mini marshmallows in the matrix … all sorts of stuff.  But the essence of a s’more — to ME — is a graham cookie on either side of a piece of chocolate and a hot roasted marshmallow.  Right?   So I figured, why not make a chocolate chip cookie, but with enough graham incorporated into it so it would be LIKE a graham cookie (but with chocolate), and then have that form a protective shell around a large gooey internal marshmallow.

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What went wrong?  Well, everything.  I guess there’s a reason I didn’t see anything like this in my searching.  The cookie dough recipe I chose was all wrong, for one thing.  I picked the recipe on the back of the chocolate chip package (my first mistake) because I’d packed my Joy of Cooking (my second mistake).  I replaced half the flour with graham crumbs and I probably shouldn’t have done that, and I used butter when I probably should have used shortening.  And before you say it, yes, I chilled the crap out of that dough.  Like it spent more time in the fridge than out of it.

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So what happened?  This.  They just melted.  At first you could see the marshmallows holding out as the cookie melted into a sad puddle all around them, but then they, too, succumbed, turning into little white puddles of goo.  It was very depressing.

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So we thought, okay, if the cookie dough is going to go liquid, why don’t we put it in a muffin tin, and have the marshmallow perch on top?  Right.  Well, the marshmallow came out nice and toasted, which was fine, but the cookie, not so much.  Once I pulled them out of the pan it was a huge rotten mess.

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So there you have it, folks.  For those of you who weren’t around during my floor pizza days (and for those of you who were), I still make a lotta mistakes in the kitchen.  And will continue to do so.  Mostly because I am really bad at following rules.  But that’s what makes it fun, right?

Failed S'mores 14

Chocolate Chip Muffins

I love this tree.  It blooms like this every June and we both love looking at it from our dining room when we eat breakfast.  Anyone know what it is?

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For this breakfast in particular the Pie had a hankering for chocolate chip muffins, so this is actually his post (he both baked AND took the pictures), and he got the recipe from the ever-glorious Kitchn.

Preheat your oven to 375°F and either spray a muffin tin with cooking spray or line it with 8-10 paper liners.  You won’t get a full dozen out of this recipe.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup granulated sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in 2 eggs, one at a time, and beat those until they’re fully incorporated.

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In another bowl, sift together 2 cups all-purpose flour and 2 teaspoons baking powder.

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Mixing slowly, add half the flour to the butter mixture.  Then add in 1/4 cup milk, and the rest of the flour.  Mix until just combined — over-mixed muffins are flat muffins.

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Stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips.

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Pour the batter into the spaces provided, filling almost all the way to the top.  Fill any empty spaces with water to ensure even baking.

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Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes, until you jab the middle one with a toothpick and it comes out clean.  Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes in the pan before pulling them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

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And this was my morning meal, prepared by my loving husband.  Breakfast of champions.

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Them’s Fightin’ Cookies

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

This is a recipe for gluten-free almond chocolate chip cookies.  I found it in Thursday’s issue of The Ottawa Citizen, where it was referenced to the California Almond Board.  Can we get more complicated?  Surely.  These cookies are also touted as a great energy snack after a workout (a cookie?  Really?).  Whatever they are, they’re gluten-free, egg-free, refined sugar-free, and, if you use carob instead of chocolate, then they are also dairy-free and vegan.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

So I figured I’d bake up a batch and try them out on my collection of captive guinea pigs — in this particular case, the Pie’s fighting game community, which meets every Sunday.  I’m sure that the last thing they need is more energy, but whatever.  They are good at ensuring the Pie and I are not left alone with too many cookies to eat by ourselves.

Preheat your oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups almond flour (I did half coconut flour and half almond meal, because that’s what I had and I figured that the recipe actually meant almond flour, which is a finer grind, and not almond meal) with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

In a smaller bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup grapeseed oil (regular canola or sunflower oil will do as well), 1/2 cup agave nectar (available at any health food store and many grocery stores — it’s basically sweet cactus sap, and they also make tequila out of it), and 1 tablespoon vanilla.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

I’ve finally busted open the home-made vanilla that Ando and Teedz gave me a couple Christmases ago.  It’s excellent, and I can just keep refilling the bottle to get more and more vanilla.  Fantastic!

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

I’m not sure if I had to do this, but I whisked the ingredients thoroughly together until they formed a lovely smooth and thick emulsion.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and make sure they’re thoroughly combined before folding in 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips and 1/2 cup sliced almonds.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

I didn’t have any sliced almonds so I just used some raw almonds, which I then toasted and crushed myself.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

Using a tablespoon, drop the dough onto the parchment sheets and press down on the dough to flatten it a bit.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

Well, that’s what the recipe said.  I had a hard time keeping mine together so I found if I used my hands and mashed them hard into little patties then I had better luck.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

Bake those puppies for 7-10 minutes, until golden, before removing from the oven.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 20 minutes before you try to peel them off.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

This recipe had potential, but it fell far short for me.  The cookies turned out a little burnt on the bottom despite me only cooking them for 7 minutes, and they were so very, very dry.  If I were to make these again (and I might), I would nix the oil and substitute in about 1/4 cup butter, salted (which means leaving out the salt in the recipe) and then 1 large egg instead.  If you still want to pursue the vegan route you could also substitute in some apple sauce.  In fact, I might add in some anyway, in addition to the butter and egg.  There simply was no glue holding this baby together.

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Chip

My new favourite Gluten-Free Pecan Brownies

Gluten-Free Pecan Brownies

I don’t know what it is about chocolate, but it just lends itself so well to gluten-free cooking. This recipe I pulled from the most recent issue of EDF and I think it’s the best brownie recipe I’ve found in a long while (Frugal, I know you think you’ve made enough, but this one is worth a try!).

Gluten-Free Pecan Brownies

I made a triple batch for a friend’s bake sale, so ignore the massive quantities in my photos.  If you follow the recipe below you’ll end up with a single pan of ooey-gooey nutty brownies.

Gluten-Free Pecan Brownies

Preheat your oven to 350°F and butter a baking dish (remember that the smaller the dish, the thicker your brownies will be).  Lay some parchment paper in there as well, to make it easy for you to remove the brownies when they’re done.

Gluten-Free Pecan Brownies

In a small bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup cornstarch1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon fine salt.

Gluten-Free Pecan Brownies

In a larger, metal bowl, chop 12 oz chocolate (I used a mix of milk and dark).  You can use chocolate chips and melt the whole thing in the microwave if you want, but I’m picky.  Add in 6 tablespoons butter and melt until smooth and glossy.  Remove from the heat.

Gluten-Free Pecan Brownies

Add 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla to the chocolate mixture and then 3 eggs, added one at a time.

Gluten-Free Pecan Brownies

Add in your cocoa mixture and stir it as vigorously as you can until the mixture takes on a sort of cohesiveness that has it following the spoon around the bowl as you go.

Gluten-Free Pecan Brownies

Then you can stir in 1 cup chopped pecans if you like.  I prefer pecans to the more bitter walnuts, but you could also add almonds or hazelnuts or even white chocolate chips — whatever floats your boat.

Gluten-Free Pecan Brownies

Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top.  Bake for about 35 minutes, or until set and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out with only a few moist crumbs.  Put the pan on a wire rack to cool completely.

Gluten-Free Pecan Brownies

When it’s all cool, you can cut it up and eat it.

Gluten-Free Pecan Brownies

It was extremely difficult to cut all these brownies, which filled the house with the scent of butter and chocolate, and then wrap them all in little baggies and seal them in a box to be eaten by other people.  Ah well, it’s all for a good cause, right?  I just may have to make them again very soon.

Gluten-Free Pecan Brownies

Espresso Cookies

Miss Awesome and P-with-an-E served these to us with tea after one of those long Sunday lunches that you don’t think about leaving until it’s nearly dark and you have to figure out how you’re going to eat dinner.

Yes, I know, we’ve done the whole espresso deal with our espresso brownies, but who says you can’t make a cookie out of everything?  I had to modify the recipe a bit as it involved using a pre-mixed chocolate chip cookie dough as a base, but I think the result is quite good.  And I will pass on Miss Awesome’s warning: DO NOT EAT AT BEDTIME!

Preheat your oven to 375°F and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together in a medium-sized bowl:

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons instant espresso powder

1 tablespoon ground coffee

What I like about mixing dark powders with light powders is that I can easily see how well I’ve mixed the coffee in, so the logic is that if the coffee is well blended then so is the stuff I can’t see, like the baking soda.  Of course, if you shoot it in macro, you can see EVERYTHING.

In a large bowl, cream together

1/2 cup butter, softened (That divot is because I stuck my finger in it to check if it was soft.  It was.)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Crack in and blend well

1 large egg

Stir into that

1/4 cup Kahlua

Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture and blend well.

Add in

3/4 cup chopped pecans

1 cup chocolate chips

And because we need a chocolate chip extreme closeup:

Use a tablespoon to plop your dough onto the baking sheet.  Space them out as best you can because they will spread quite a bit.

Bake the cookies for 9-12 minutes and leave them on the pan for another five minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.Then you can eat them.  Or just look at them.  Or whatever.

Fudgy Rocky Road Squares

Ooey, gooey, crispy and crunchy, these easy-peasy squares came out of Martha Stewart’s Every Day Food magazine, to which I am an ardent subscriber.

They don’t require a whole lot of baking, and if you’re feeling super lazy you could get away with not baking at all, so that’s always a bonus.  All you need are five ingredients: graham crackers (whole), almonds, marshmallow fluff, chocolate chips, and condensed milk.  Simple.Preheat your oven to 375°F.

Line the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with graham crackers.  Break them if you have to in order to get them to fit.  Bake them until the crackers are lightly toasted and fragrant, probably about 8 minutes.

While that’s going on, coarsely chop up 1 1/2 cups almonds.  Sprinkle the almonds evenly over the toasted graham while it’s still warm.

Dollop on about 1 cup marshmallow fluff in large spoonfuls.  Allow it to soften and spread by itself.

In a double boiler or heatproof bowl set over simmering water, combine 1 12oz bag chocolate chips and 1 14oz can condensed milk. I’m pretty sure you need to use chocolate chips here instead of baking chocolate simply because of the unique physical properties of chocolate chips. 

Cook, stirring once in a while, until the chocolate is all melted and everything is smooth.

Work quickly, before the chocolate has a chance to thicken, and pour it over the marshmallow fluff.

Use a thin-bladed knife to swirl the marshmallow and the chocolate together. 

Refrigerate until set, about an hour, then cut into squares and serve. 

Keep them wrapped up tight in the refrigerator when you’re not chowing down.

Gooey Bars

This recipe comes from my favourite book, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking.  In this particular book, the authors call their bar the Baked Bar, after their establishment in New York, but my cousin’s wife told me that her grandmother used to make her what she called Hello Dolly Bars.  I call them Gooey Bars, because that’s what they truly are.  Many of the wedding guests described them as “life-altering experiences”, but I’ll leave you to determine that for yourself.

The ingredients are simple, but the crust is a little fussy, so the recipe from start to finish takes quite a while.

Preheat your oven to 300°F.

Line a 9 x 13″ pan with aluminum foil and butter it.  The foil makes it much easier to remove everything from the pan after you’ve baked it.

Put a piece of parchment on a baking sheet and spread 2 cups shredded coconut across it.  Bake for 5 or so minutes until the coconut begins to turn golden brown.  Toss the coconut and bake for another 3 minutes or so.

Toss the coconut in a bowl with 2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs.

Melt 1 cup butter and pour it in.

Mix it all up with your hands or a fork, and then use your hands to press the crust mixture into the pan.  Smooth the surface and level it.

Refrigerate the crust for 15 minutes, then bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let the crust cool completely.

Now for the rest.

Raise the oven temperature to 325°F.

Spread 1 1/3 cups pecans over a sheet pan and toast them for a little while until brown.

Spread those over the bottom of the cooled crust and add 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips as well.

Coarsely chop up about 9 oz white baking chocolate (that’s 9 squares).

Spread those on top, as well as 3/4 cup butterscotch chips.

The fun part here is when you pour two cans of sweetened condensed milk over top the whole thing.  Just drizzle that on there.

Shake the pan gently to evenly distribute the milk.  Of course, if you have really thick milk you might want to use a spatula to spread it out.

Bake the whole thing for 30-40 minutes, making sure to rotate the pan every ten minutes.  When it’s all brown and bubbly it’s all done.  Transfer it to a wire rack and let it cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.

Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and keep them in the fridge for up to four days.