Oatmeal Chocolate Chunkies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunkies 17 I made these to serve a double purpose: to provide cookies for the shindig last week (which was my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary), and also for the birthday of one of my coworkers – so I froze the dough for the birthday (which is tomorrow, yay!) and made the rest up for the party. I made these traditional oatmeal chocolate cookies with a little bit of a twist – the addition of some chipotle spice. It’s not excessive, but feel free to omit the spice if you wish. Oatmeal Chocolate Chunkies 16

Start by creaming together 1 cup butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar until it’s all lovely and fluffy.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunkies 1 Beat in 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Oatmeal Chocolate Chunkies 2

Now whisk together 2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and then — DRAMATIC PAUSE — 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunkies 3 Oatmeal Chocolate Chunkies 4

Then mix in about 1 cup oats. If you want them more oaty and nubbly, then add in 2 cups total – that’s up to you. The more oats you add the more structure the cookie will have. I was looking for flat and crispy so I only put in the one.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunkies 10 Chop up as well a large amount of chocolate. This worked out to about 2 cups chopped Belgian chocolate. Mmmm … Oatmeal Chocolate Chunkies 8

Now chuck the dough in the fridge for a little bit to chill so it’s easier to manipulate. Preheat your oven to 350°F and line some baking sheets with parchment. Plop rolled teaspoons of the dough onto your baking sheet and spread them out as they will flatten and expand while baking. I put them too close in these pictures so act accordingly.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunkies 12 Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until the centres are set. Let the cookies cool on the rack for about five minutes before putting them on a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy! Oatmeal Chocolate Chunkies 14

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Better Than the Box Brownies

Better Box Brownies 12

I know.  There are a plethora of brownie recipes on this website.  But until I find the perfect one, the search continues.  I found this one when both the Pie and I had meetings on the same day (which meant we had to change out of our pyjamas and actually go to work).  The Pie’s boss (and his family) had been complaining for a while that there had been no baked goods delivered, and my boss was doing the same.  So I whipped up a double batch of these in the hopes that they would shut up for a while be pleased.  These are more adult brownies, as they’re not as sweet as some recipes that use melted chocolate.

Start by preheating your oven to 325°F and line a 8″ x 8″ baking pan with parchment paper such that you end up with two handles out the sides.

Better Box Brownies 1

Find a heat-proof bowl and dump in 10 tablespoons butter (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons), 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder.

Better Box Brownies 2

Set the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water and let the butter melt until the whole thing is a gooey, grainy mess.

Better Box Brownies 3

Remove from the heat and allow it to cool so it’s just warm to the touch.  Add in, one at a time, 2 cold eggs (if the mixture was hot you’d cook the eggs and that would be bad).

Better Box Brownies 4

Add in as well 1 teaspoon vanilla and beat the whole thing for a little bit until it’s nice and smooth.

Better Box Brownies 5

Now you’ll want to stir in 1/2 cup all purpose flour.  Stir that in really well, until it’s totally combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Better Box Brownies 6

Continue to beat the batter until it’s smooth and glossy again.  This is very thick batter for brownies, so don’t be shocked if it takes you a bit of effort.

Better Box Brownies 7

Now, if you want, you can tip in 2/3 cup nuts of your choice.  The recipe calls for chopped walnuts, but I find them too bitter so I used pecans.

Better Box Brownies 8

Pour the batter into your parchment-ed pan.

Better Box Brownies 9

You’ll have to put some effort into smoothing it into the corners.

Better Box Brownies 10

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the centre is completely set, and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Some people making this recipe had to cook it for an additional ten minutes but mine was done after twenty (I’m using a convection oven).  Let it cool completely on a wire rack before lifting out and cutting into small pieces. I don’t have any pictures of the cut up brownies for you because I forgot and by the time I remembered they’d already been eaten.  Sorry!

Better Box Brownies 11

Pineapple Orange Buckle

Pineapple Buckle 24

Y’know, I have no idea what a “buckle” is, other than the metal object one uses to attach things with straps.  But it appears to be some kind of American dessert-like object resembling a tall clafoutis, so I’m going to roll with it.  I got this recipe from Martha Stewart.  She used mangoes, but lacking those (and unwilling to pay the $3 each price tag on them, thanks Newfoundland), I used some oranges that had seen better days and I didn’t want to waste them.

Pineapple Buckle 1

Preheat your oven to 350°F and grab yourself a 2-quart baking dish.  I’m not sure, having never made this before, if the dish should be wide and shallow or narrow and deep (like this one), but I worked with what I had.  Use some butter to grease the sides and bottom of the dish.  There are definite benefits to butter that comes in sticks for this.

Pineapple Buckle 7

Peel and core a small pineapple and cut it into smallish chunks.  I did this a few days ago and discovered that despite the aroma coming from the whole fruit, the flavour was rather disappointing — hence this dessert.  I did the same thing with 4 small navel oranges that were nearing the end of their days.  I cut off the peel with a knife and also cut out the pith from the centre, then cut the orange into eighths.

Pineapple Buckle 3

Toss those into a container and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons brown sugar.  Toss them to coat in the sugar and leave them aside for now.

Pineapple Buckle 4

In a small bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and a pinch of salt.  Set that aside for the nonce.

Pineapple Buckle 6

In the bowl of a mixer, beat together 1/2 cup unsalted butter (equivalent to 1 stick) and 1/2 cup granulated sugar.

Keep going until it’s super fluffy.

Pineapple Buckle 8

Add in 2 eggs, one at a time, beating in between additions until fully incorporated. Then drop in 1 teaspoon vanilla.  As you can see, I did not measure this.  And I don’t care.

Pineapple Buckle 9

Slowly add in your flour and mix all together.

Pineapple Buckle 10

Pineapple Buckle 11

Dump all but about 1 cup of your fruit into the batter and fold it all around until it’s fully mixed. Pour the fruit and batter into your dish and add the remaining fruit on top.

Pineapple Buckle 12

Pineapple Buckle 13

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until fluffy and golden brown on top.  I was so annoyed with the fact that my Bookmark Brownies weren’t cutting properly that I may have forgotten to set the timer for this and ended up winging it.

Pineapple Buckle 15

Scoop some out and serve warm with a bit of whipped cream.  TASTY!

Pineapple Buckle 22

The best part about this was heating up a scoop of this the next day for breakfast and topping it with my favourite yogurt. I highly recommend that.

The Un-Cola

The Un-Cola

I saw this recipe on Freshly Pressed this past summer and was inspired by Krista and Jess to make this recipe from the New York Times (thanks ladies!).

My brother Ando has always been a fan of carbonated beverages.  Specifically the cola variety.  The more caffeine the better (he used to be a bit of a night owl).  Sodas aren’t that great for the teeth, of course,  as they contain a lot of sugar.  The colas especially so.  Ando’s tip for strong dentition: drink sodas only in conjunction with food, and use a straw.  When I saw this recipe, I thought he’d like it.  It’s made of all natural ingredients and contains significantly less sugar than your average can of Coke (which has 39g of sugar in it, the same as 10 sugar cubes).

The Un-Cola

These sorts of natural syrups are a sign that we are trying to return to simpler times, and the creators of this recipe, Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain, are doing just that (so you can go visit them Ando and tell me how the recipes compare — it’s just over the bridge after all).

So this is his DIY Christmas gift from his little sister (SURPRISE!), which, together with all the other presents for the Manhattan Crew, I am trying to get completed and mailed out before the end of the month — how’s that for organization?

The recipe itself is pretty straightforward, but does require a certain attention to detail.  I also had to do some serious sleuthing around St. John’s to find all the appropriate ingredients, though if that means puttering around Food for Thought and Fat Nanny’s for an hour or two then I really don’t mind.

The Un-Cola

You’ll need to grate the zest from 2 medium oranges, 1 large lime, and 1 large lemon.  I doubled my batch so that the Pie and I would have some to try, and then made up an extra set of dry ingredients so that Ando can cook himself up a refill.  Each batch makes about 3 cups syrup.

The Un-Cola

So I grated a lot of citrus.  I’m going to save it and make a fabulous beverage soon.

The Un-Cola

For the extra dry ingredients, I used a zester, which gets the peel without the bitter pith.

The Un-Cola

Then I heated my oven to 150°F and spread the peel on a baking sheet to dry.

The Un-Cola

It probably cooked for about an hour while I was doing all that other stuff.

The Un-Cola

Take some whole nutmeg and a fine rasp and grate yourself about 1/8 teaspoon of that stuff.  Mmm, smells so good.

The Un-Cola

Crush one section of one star anise pod with a spoon.

The Un-Cola

Cut a vanilla pod so you have a 1 1/2″ section (that’s almost 4cm for you metric folk).  Use a knife to split that section in half lengthwise.

The Un-Cola

You’ll also need 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon dried lavender flowers, 2 teaspoons minced ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon citric acid.  You can get citric acid at stores that sell canning supplies, or try specialty or health food stores.

In a heavy pot over medium heat, bring all those ingredients to a simmer in 2 cups water.  Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.

The Un-Cola

In a large bowl, mix together 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar.

The Un-Cola

Plop a colander or strainer on top of that and line it with a double layer of cheesecloth.

The Un-Cola

Pour the contents of the hot pot over the cheesecloth and gather the ends of the cloth together so that all the solids are in a nice little package.  Use a spoon to squeeze out all the liquid from the package against the side of the pot.

The Un-Cola

Stir the syrup occasionally until the sugar dissolves, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a container and keep it in the refrigerator.

The Un-Cola

In order for this to last the trip over the sea and land and a river to Manhattan (from one island to another) I decided to can it.  You can see my tips on canning with a stove top canner here.

The Un-Cola

To drink, pour 1 part syrup over ice and mix with 4 parts seltzer or soda water.  It tastes FANTASTIC.  Not like a commercial soda, but one where you can taste all the flavours that went into it.  AMAZING.

The Un-Cola

And here is the little container with the dried peel and all the other dried ingredients (minus the sugar) that Ando will need to make his own batch.

The Un-Cola

O Canada: Baked Beans with Toutons

Baked Beans with Toutons

My house currently smells like awesome.  All the windows are steamed up.  It’s great.

Baked beans, I think you’d agree, are a traditional staple all down the eastern seaboard of North America.  Add a splash of Québec maple syrup to the sweet, dark sauce and serve it with a side of Newfoundland toutons (“TAOW-tuns”), however, and you’ve got yourself a Canadian dish.  It all takes quite a bit of time (you have to start by soaking your beans overnight), but it’s worth it to have your house smell this good.

For the Baked Beans:

I cobbled together this bean recipe from three others, which I’ve listed at the bottom of this post.  I think baked beans are conceptually pretty fluid, so feel free to experiment on your own.

Baked Beans with Toutons

This recipe also involves some interesting food items that are not usual additions to my refrigerator contents: fatback pork and salt pork.  If you can’t find fatback pork or pre-cut scruncheons, you can also deep-fry the toutons in vegetable oil.  Here in St. John’s, salt meat, which you can buy in 4L buckets, has its own section in the grocery store, right next to the bologna section.  That’s right, bologna section.  As in, there are several different kinds and cuts of bologna available to the residents of this lovely city.  Luckily I found smaller amounts of fatback pork and salt pork riblets, and was able to get away with just a scant pound of each, rather than having to find a use for a whole bucket of meat.  You could probably use a salty ham (Virginia-style) in place of the salt pork if you can’t find it.  And of course if you want a vegetarian version of the baked beans, leave out the pork altogether.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Start with about 4 cups dried white navy beans.  Rinse them and plop them in a bowl.  Cover them with several inches of water and leave them overnight to soak.  You may need to add more water as it gets absorbed.

Baked Beans with Toutons

The next day, drain and rinse the beans and plop them in a very large pot with three times their volume of water to cover (so take the bowl the beans were in and fill that sucker three times with water and you should be good).

Baked Beans with Toutons

Plop in 1lb salt pork.  Usually this comes on the bone.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the beans and pork simmer for 40-50 minutes, until they’re all tender and stuff.  Scoop out 1 1/2 cups bean cooking water and then drain the rest.

While the beans are simmering, finely chop up 1 large onion.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Plop the onion in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon dry mustard (Keen’s or Colman’s are the traditional versions around here), 2 teaspoons chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.  Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and fragrant.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Pour into that 4-156mL cans of tomato paste (that’s about 2 1/3 cups), 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, 3/4 cup fancy molasses, and 1/2 cup pure maple syrup.  Give that a good stir and bring it to a boil.  Reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes.  It will bubble like the Thing from the Black Lagoon and get absolutely everywhere, so make sure to cover it.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Pour in the reserved bean cooking water and mix well.  You can purée it in a food processor at this point if you wish, but I didn’t bother.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Preheat your oven to 300°F.  You could do this earlier but it really doesn’t take long, so there’s no point in having your oven on for such an extended period of time.

Strip the salt pork from its bones and tear it into small pieces before tossing it back in with your drained beans.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Mix the beans and the sauce together.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Pour the mixture into a large casserole dish.  Cover and bake for 2-3 hours, then uncover and bake until sauce is thick and the beans are coated, about another hour.  Serve hot with toutons, or allow to cool and freeze for later.

Baked Beans with Toutons

For the Toutons:

I pulled the recipe for these weird little Newfoundland doughnuts/dumplings/biscuits from this site.  Most of the other recipes I found ended up being exact copies of this one, so I figured it was legit.  Toutons are essentially fried white bread dumplings.  Most of the time they are served doused with butter and maple syrup.  This sounds like a good idea to me.  You can buy pre-made touton dough at the gas station down the block from our house.  During the summer festival here they have touton-throwing contests.  These bready balls are evidently important to Newfoundland culture.

Start by dissolving 1 tablespoon sugar in 1/2 cup warm water.  Add in 1 tablespoon traditional yeast.  Allow that to stand for 10 minutes, then stir it in until it’s all dissolved.

Baked Beans with Toutons

In a saucepan, scald 1 cup low-fat milk (the recipe called for 2% but we use 1% so I figured that would only save us from an earlier death).  Add in 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening and stir until it’s all melted.

Baked Beans with Toutons

To the hot milk, add 1/2 cup cold water, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Make sure the milk mixture is lukewarm and then add the yeast mixture and stir until well-blended.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Add in 2 cups all-purpose flour and stir until it’s all smooth.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Gradually add 3-4 more cups of flour until you have a moist dough that no longer sticks to the bowl.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Shape the dough into a ball and plop it in a greased bowl, turning the ball to grease the top.  Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and put it somewhere warm and draft-free for the dough to double in size, about an hour.

Baked Beans with Toutons

While you’re waiting, you can make your scruncheons (or scrunchins), which are fried pork back fat.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Mmmm.  Like bacon only without the actual pork.  So you take your backfat, about 1/4lb, and you cube it up as finely as you can.

Baked Beans with Toutons

This is harder than it looks.  Pig backs are tough.  Also see the surface of this particular chunk?  I’m convinced it was actual skin, because it was a pain to get through, and it fried up almost rock hard.  I suggest trimming that off if you can.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Set your raw scruncheons aside for a spell, until your dough is ready.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Punch down the dough and squeeze off pieces about 1/3 cup in size.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Flatten them to about 1/2″ thick, in a circular or triangular shape.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Fry your scruncheons until the solid pieces are golden brown and crisp.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Take them out and lay them on a paper towel.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Fry the toutons in the liquid pork fat until they are golden on both sides, a minute or so per side.

Baked Beans with Toutons

Add a dab of butter to the hot touton, sprinkle with crispy scruncheons, and douse with maple syrup.  Serve hot!

Baked Beans with Toutons

Now if you’ll excuse me I am going to go and have a heart attack somewhere.

Baked Beans with Toutons

More Baked Beans:

http://canadianwinter.ca/index.php?page=canadian_winter_molasses_baked_beans

http://www.canadianliving.com/food/maple_baked_beans.php

http://suppertonight.wordpress.com/2008/09/09/canadian-baked-beans/

Chocolate Caramel Cookies

For my last round of interviews with research participants, I decided to err on the side of sweetness.  And boy are these babies SWEET! 

They are adapted from Easy-Cookies.com and of course, I multiplied the recipe.  In fact, I made a quadruple batch.  Many cookies were had.

First, preheat your oven to 375°F.

In a large bowl, cream together 1 cup butter, softened, 1 cup granulated (white) sugar, and 1 cup brown sugar.

Add in 2 eggs

You know, the eggy kind of egg.

Plop in 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa and mix that stuff in good.

Then pour in 2 1/2 cups flour and mix thoroughly.  This stuff gave my industrial-strength beaters a run for their money.

Lastly, pour in 1 cup white chocolate chips.Take yer dough, then, about a tablespoon’s worth, and wrap it around a Rolo candy (I thought about trying this with Caramilk, too, and may still try it). 

I went through several bulk packages of Rolos so I’m not sure how many you will need.  Each roll has 10, if that helps.

Make sure to seal the dough all the way around or things could get messy in the oven.

Plop the dough balls on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake for about 7 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through, until set.  Allow to cool for about 5 minutes on the sheet before removing the cookies to a cooling rack.

EEEEEEAT!

Toffee Bundt Cake

I got tired of making cookies and squares for my research participants, so one weekend I pulled out this toffee cake, also from January’s Canadian Living magazine.

It’s moist and rich and sweet and satisfying, and for all that is pretty easy to concoct. It’s really good warm, but keeps up to three days.

So let’s begin, shall we?

Take yourself a 12oz/375g package of dried, pitted dates and plop them in a saucepan with 2 1/2 cups water

Bring the water to a boil and stir it around a bit, then let it cool.

Mash up the dates until smooth.  I found this was easiest in a food processor.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Grease a 10″ or 3L Bundt pan (you know, the one with the fluted sides and a hole in the middle).

In a large bowl, beat together 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar, 1/2 cup softened butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind until light and fluffy. 

One at a time, beat in 4 eggs, then add 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

In another bowl or measuring cup, whisk together 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 2 teaspoons baking soda.

Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture.

Stir in the dates as well. It’s funny how it’s the dates that give it that lovely toffee taste.

Scrape the batter into your greased Bundt pan.

Bake in the bottom third of your oven for about 55 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for about 15 minutes, then tip it out onto a plate.

While the cake is cooking and cooling, you can work on your toffee sauce.  Mine didn’t turn out toffee coloured, but still tasted fantastic. 

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 3/4 cup butter.  Whisk in 1 cup granulated sugar until dissolved, and cook, whisking the whole time, for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is caramel-coloured.  Whisk in 3/4 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons lemon juice (be careful to avert your face, as adding cream can make it explosive — I’m serious).

Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until thickened, about 3-5 minutes.  Whisk in 2 tablespoons brandy or cognac.

Pour about 3/4 cup of the toffee sauce over your cake and let it stand to absorb. 

When you are ready to serve, drizzle it with the reserved warm sauce, slice and serve.