Pizza Dough

pizza

I live in a small town. We do however, have two, yes count ’em, TWO pizza joints. Sorry to anyone reading this who may be a fan of those local eateries. But I am not. Don’t get me wrong. They’re ok in a pinch, but for pizza snobs like myself, they just aren’t worth the dough ($ee what I did there?) Sorry, it’s mid week crazy hitting me hard tonight.

I like a thin Italian style pizza, with a sweetish sauce, topped with a variety of quality cheeses and a crisp, well-done crust that has a slight crunch, but you can still fold it in half, the only way to eat a slice of pizza. It can be hard to get a good pie like that in a home oven, as they can’t get as hot as a wood burning pizzeria oven. Unless you are lucky enough to have a special pizza oven taking up half of your garage. But you can still get a great homemade pizza with a few good tips and of course, a great dough, even without said special gigantic pizza oven.

I am admittedly, not a great planner. More times than not, I have not taken out anything for dinner. When that’s the case, I usually want something pretty quick and easy. Now, I know I can dial up one of those pizza places and have dinner delivered to my door in half an hour. But I can’t, in good conscience, do that when I have this quick, delicious, foolproof dough recipe in my arsenal.

Before I go any further, this dough has instantly become my favorite recipe. I use it every week at least once and sometimes again on the weekends when the kids have friends over. I did give it a little tweak, but it’s basically the same. So let me give mad props to Mel at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe for sharing this recipe. She’s my new girl crush (blush). Click on over for a visit, but plan on spending some time. She rocks.

This dough comes together super quick and only needs ten minutes or so to rest. It makes two medium size pizzas, which can feed quite a few people, especially if you throw together a nice salad to go with it.

Here are a couple of tips for a great pizza every time.

  • Don’t work the dough too much. I throw a bit of flour (AP or semolina) on the counter and use a rolling pin to roll it into a flat circle. Making sure you pin it every once in a while so it isn’t sticking. Use more flour if necessary if it starts to stick. Transfer your dough to your cooking surface (pan, stone, screen) and make any adjustments if needed. No need to toss it in the air like the pros do.
  • Use a pizza screen. I have a stone that I have used for 15 years. It is beautifully seasoned and makes a great crust. But after many trials, I really think the screen is better. The crust is crispier and it is easier to use because it doesn’t have to be pre-heated in the oven. Sometimes that hot stone can be troublesome. I have the scars to prove it! The dough also sticks to it better. I don’t know about you, but fighting with dough that keeps bouncing back can be maddening.
  • Use quality ingredients. That’s a no-brainer. Freshly grated cheese (some bagged, shredded cheese contains cornstarch which can make it melt funny), rich sauce and fresh meats, vegetables and herbs. I don’t think pizza needs too many toppings. Just use amazing ingredients. There’s nothing like a pizza topped with a deep red summer tomato sauce or slices, fresh buffalo mozzarella, fragrant basil from the garden and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Simple and delicious.
  • Let it cool a bit before transferring it to a cutting surface. If you move it when it’s still hot, the crust will lose a bit of its crunch. Be patient.

I hope you find these tips helpful and make you want to skip the takeout and give homemade pizza a try.

Thanks again Mel for this recipe!

Quick and Easy Foolproof Pizza Dough

  • 1 cup warm water (105-1110F)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 -3 cups flour (see note)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 475-500F
  2. In a large bowl or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the water, sugar, oil, yeast and salt. Add the flour gradually until a soft dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Flour amounts can vary, so go by the feel of the dough versus the cup measurement. The dough should be soft and smooth and not leave your fingers sticky, but also not stiff either.
  3. Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead another minute.
  4. Cut in half and let the dough rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Roll onto a lightly floured surface and shape the dough into pizza(s), place on your screen or stone, spread with sauce and toppings, and bake for approximately 8-10 minutes until golden and bubbly.

Buon Appetito!

 

 

 

Black Bean Brownies

DSC_0238

I am a chocoholic.

There, I said it!

I would skip dinner and head straight to dessert if that were socially acceptable.

I am trying to make better eating choices for me and the family. Let’s be honest, they really don’t have much of a choice. Ssshhh, don’t tell them that.

But back to my dessert dilemma. I love sweets. I love chocolate. I love cupcakes. I love cookies.

You get the picture.

I came across this recipe from The Farm at Eastman’s Corner (more on that place later). It is a simple, cooking for kids book and since Nina shares my adoration of baked goods and chocolate, we decided to give this recipe a try.

I’ve seen many recipes that swap out ingredients for something healthier, but the thought of black beans in a dessert just never really made me want to run out and try it.

But in an attempt to nourish our body and feed the chocolate beast, we gave it a shot.

I am so glad we did. It was easy and really unbelievably delicious. We actually licked the bowl. Just being real.

You can not taste even a smidgen of bean and the texture, although not like a true brownie, was dense and fudgy and super rich and chocolaty.

Now if I’m being truly honest. These aren’t the brownies I would bring to a party for oohs and aaahs (although loaded with beans, you never know what kind of noises you’ll get from the crowd) but for a healthier option to stave off a chocolate attack, I am totally a fan. The fact that Nina actually wanted to pack them in her lunch is saying something.

Warmer weather is coming. And that means swimsuits and shorts people. But chocolate is just part of life. You can have it all!

Give these a try. You will be amazed.

Black Bean Brownies

2 c. canned black beans, rinsed and drained
3 eggs
2 1/4 Tbls coconut oil
1/3 c cocoa powder
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 c chocolate chips (I used mini, they’re so cute!)

Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease an 8×8″ baking dish

Puree beans in a food processor until smooth

Add all remaining ingredients, except for chocolate chips and blend until smooth.

Pour batter into baking dish and sprinkle with chocolate chips.

Bake at 350F for 40 minutes or until firm in the center.

Let cool and enjoy!

store wrapped in the refrigerator

One Pan Sausage Pepper & Onion Pasta

pront

I dig quick, easy recipes. No surprise there.

It’s also no surprise that I came home from work and had no idea what to make for dinner because I forgot to take some sort of meat out of the freezer. I do that a lot. Sometimes I just can’t think that far ahead. Besides, I’m a fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl. That’s how I roll.

So there I was, standing in the kitchen with a dull look on my face, staring into an open refrigerator wondering what to feed the fam.

I didn’t feel like Googling anything. Besides, there was no time for that. Time to whip something up and hope for the best.

I grabbed some sweet and hot sausages from the freezer. I always seem to have a bunch of packages of those hanging around for just such an occasion. A sweet red pepper and an onion always goes great with sausages, and I had those on hand too.

I had bought some Barilla Rotini Pronto pasta awhile ago, so I thought I’d give it a shot. “One pan. No boil. No drain”. Yes please.

This dish came together in 20 minutes. For realz people. TWENTY minutes! A little chopping. A bit of boiling and some stirring and in no time I had a creamy, cheesy, flavorful pasta dish on the table. We enjoyed it thoroughly and I’ll be stocking up on Barilla Pronto for my frequent absentminded occasions.

Did you forget you have to feed your family dinner tonight?

Rather sit on the couch and catch up Married at First Sight instead of slaving in the kitchen? Maybe that’s just me.

Are you just hungry and tired and can’t bear to listen to “When’s dinner going to be ready Mom?” for one more second?

Then this is a meal for you. Quick, easy and delicious.

Nuff said.

One Pot Sausage, Pepper & Onion Pasta

8 sausage links (I used 4 sweet & 4 hot, but use whatever you want), sliced into 1″ pieces
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 yellow or sweet onion, coarsely chopped
3/4 c. white wine
1 Tbls. olive oil
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
1 box Barilla Pronto Rotini pasta
3 c. water
1/2 c. light cream (or 1/2 & 1/2 or heavy cream)
1/4 c. finely chopped fresh basil
2 Tbls. butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  1. In a deep, 12-inch skillet slightly brown sausage and add peppers and onions and saute for 2-3 minutes over medium high heat.
  2. Add white wine and cook down for a minute or two.
  3. Add the entire box of pasta, olive oil and 3 cups water (ingredients won’t be completely covered with water, don’t worry). Turn heat to high and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often to make sure the pasta is mixed in well.
  4. Add cream, Parmesan cheese, butter and basil and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes until sauce thickens. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a side salad and enjoy!

 

Crack Pie

crackpie

Happy Pi Day!

I love love love Pi Day! Well, I love pie, so it goes without saying that a day dedicated to pie is going to be a favorite of mine.

Honestly though, I don’t make a lot of pies, except for at the holidays. So Pi day gave me an excuse to make this pie. I have heard all about it. It has kind of a cult following. Supposedly it’s like nothing you’ve ever tasted. The texture and flavor is inexplicable.

It is an incredibly rich, sweet, dense, gooey pie with a hint of salt in the oat cookie crust. It really is hard to describe. I can say that I’m pretty sure my cholesterol went up a few points.  For realz!

Crack Pie is the brainchild of Christina Tosi of Momofuko Milk Bar in NYC. She is the queen of outrageous desserts. She’s like a mad scientist. Her creations are so unique and inventive.  I have total girly food crush on her. And don’t even get me started with my crush on David Chang.

This pie has a quite a few steps, as you make your own cookies for the crust. It’s kinda worth it though. The crust is super yummy.

I followed the recipe at Bon Appetit. It was different than the one posted on the Milk Bar website, which had corn powder as an ingredient. I have no idea what that is, to tell you the truth. It put me off a bit. So I went with the recipe at Bon Appetit. However, I used the technique on the Milk Bar site. Christina is very specific about how and why she does things.

Since I’ve never had the real thing, I can’t tell you what the difference is, but I can tell you this pie is rich.  A teeny tiny piece is more than enough to satisfy, yet as the name states, you can’t help but want more.

If you are looking for a truly distinctive dessert, this pie is truly that. Give it a try, but don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

Ingredients

SERVINGS: 10 to 12

Oat Cookie Crust

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt

Filling

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar (for dusting)

Directions

Oat Cookie Crust

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper; coat with nonstick spray. Combine 6 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Add egg; beat until pale and fluffy. Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Turn oat mixture out onto prepared baking pan; press out evenly, don’t worry it won’t spread all the way to the edges of pan. Bake until light golden on top, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer baking pan to rack and cool cookie completely.
  • put the oat cookie, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse it on and off until the cookie is broken down into a wet sand. (if you don’t have a food processor, you can crumble the oat cookie diligently with your hands.)
  • transfer the crumbs to a bowl, add the butter, and knead the butter and ground cookie mixture until moist enough to form into a ball. if it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 1 to 1½ tablespoons butter and knead it in.
  • Transfer cookie crust mixture to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Using fingers, press mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie dish. Place pie dish with crust on rimmed baking sheet.

Filling

  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. In a bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, mix both sugars, milk powder, and salt on low until mixed. Add melted butter and paddle until dry ingredients are moist, about 2-3 minutes. Add the heavy cream and vanilla and continue mixing on low for 2 to 3 minutes until any white streaks from the cream have completely disappeared into the mixture. scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  • Add the egg yolks, paddling them into the mixture just to combine; be careful not to aerate the mixture, but be certain the mixture is glossy and well blended.
  • Bake for 15 minutes only. the pies should be golden brown on top but will still be jiggly.
  • Open the oven door and reduce the oven temperature to 325°f. depending on your oven, it may take 5 minutes or longer for the oven to cool to the new temperature. Keep the pies in the oven during this process. When the temp reaches 325°f, close the door and bake the pies for 5 minutes longer. The pies will still be jiggly in the very center but not around the outer edges. If the filling is still too jiggly, leave the pies in the oven for an additional 5 minutes or so.
  • Gently take the pan out of the oven and transfer to a rack to cool to room temperature. Freeze your pies for at least 3 hours, or overnight, to condense the filling for a dense final product.
  • If not serving the pies right away, wrap well in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.

  • Transfer the pie from the freezer to the refrigerator to defrost a minimum of 1 hour before you’re ready to serve.
  • Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Cut pie into wedges and serve cold.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Basic Photography

Photography.

The whole concept of my camera baffles me. I’ve read and re-read how to books on F-stops and ISOs. Depth of field and aperture. I still don’t get it. I decided it was time to take an actual photography class. With a real photographer. A professional who could explain it in simple terms that even I could understand. Someone I could ask questions and who could critique my work and guide me into taking better pics. I would even welcome a slap on the back of the head every once in awhile when I give a wrong answer after reviewing it for the hundredth time.

Well, it worked. And, I didn’t even need a slap. Sweet!

I took a class at Theia Studios, a local studio. If you are from the area and have an interest in photography or photo editing in Photoshop or Lightroom, I highly recommend checking them out. The owners are fantastic and hands-on and my instructor Jeremy Greer was just amazing. He was fun and friendly and really inspired us to step outside our comfort zone and let our inner artist shine. Not to mention  the fact that he is an incredibly talented photographer. I feel my skills have improved greatly over the past six weeks. I will absolutely be taking the Basic II class with Jeremy in April, and can’t wait.

Last night was our last class. We spent the evening walking around the city of Haverhill, Massachusetts. Tripods in hand, we walked around looking at shadows and light, storefronts and bars and restaurants. I have walked on those same sidewalks and looked in those stores more times than I can count, but looking through a camera somehow put things in a different perspective.

Here are a few of the shots I was able to capture last night. They are straight out of my camera. No editing. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them.

DSC_0336 DSC_0339 DSC_0340 DSC_0341 DSC_0343 DSC_0363 DSC_0366 DSC_0368 DSC_0371 DSC_0373 DSC_0374 DSC_0387 DSC_0389 DSC_0392

 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

 

peanut butter chocolate chip bars

This past weekend my husband and I took a little road trip with the kids to visit family in Connecticut. Even though the visit had been scheduled for months, I completely daffed out didn’t bake the cookies I was planning on bringing with us. I remembered this right before going to bed on Friday night. Not very convenient, but at least I could set my alarm and get up earlier than normal to get it done.

I hate showing up empty-handed.

So the alarm went off. I hit the snooze. Once. Twice. Ok, three times.

Yep, no time to bake cookies now.

I had bought a couple bags of Nestle Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter filled Delightfulls and since I  had no time for searching for some mind-blowing recipe, I followed the recipe on the bag, which is just Toll House cookies with these special chips, they’re not fooling anyone. Still my fave though.

I also didn’t have time to stand around scooping cookies. I still needed to get myself ready to go, even family couldn’t forgive the level of bed-head I had going on. I only had an hour until we had to hit the road. So I had to MOVE!

Cue the bar.

I whipped these babies up super quick, took a shower while they were baking, put on my makeup and did my hair while they cooled a bit then put them in my little insulated carrier for the trip.

And we were off!

Too bad I left the carrier on the counter.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups (9-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® DelightFulls™ Peanut Butter Filled Morsels
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts*

NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® DelightFulls™ Peanut Butter Filled Morsels

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray or lightly butter the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9×13 baking dish. Use a piece of parchment on the bottom of the dish, butter again and lightly flour.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts.Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen.

*If omitting nuts, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour.

 

 

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

pbjbars

Is there any other food that sparks childhood memories more than a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich? I think not. Honestly, I still love having a PB&J for lunch with an ice cold glass of milk. Nothing hits the spot quite like it for me.

As soon as I came across this recipe, I knew I had to try it. This bar has a thick, dense, almost shortbread-like crust, layered with a thick coating of sweet, strawberry jam and topped with a peanut butter and salted peanut crumble. You want to cut these into fairly small portions, as this is super decadent and definitely calls for that glass of milk..

And lest we forget, my idle ways, it’s a bar, So it’s E-Z! Bars are pretty darn cool like that. They’re like a lazy man’s cookie. Can’t beat that!

If you’re a kid at heart and still love a good PB&J and have better things to do with your time than scooping out a boat-load of cookies, then this bar is for you!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups strawberry jam, or other flavor
  • 2/3 cup salted peanuts, roughly chopped

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan with butter, and line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the parchment, and coat inside of pan with flour; set aside. Place butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. On medium speed, add eggs, vanilla and peanut butter; beat until combined, about 2 minutes.

  2. Whisk together salt, baking powder, and flour. Add to bowl of mixer on low speed; combine.  Transfer two-thirds of mixture to prepared pan; spread evenly with offset spatula. Using offset spatula, spread jam on top of peanut-butter mixture. Dollop remaining third of peanut-butter mixture on top of jam. Sprinkle with peanuts.

  3. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool; cut into about thirty-six 1 1/2-by-2-inch pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

Enjoy!

Recipe from Martha Stewart

 

Cookie of the Week-White Chocolate Raspberry Macadamia Cookies

raspberry cookie collage

Why do children feel the need to make noise simply for the sake of making noise? Remember the “Most Annoying Sound in the World” from the movie Dumb and Dumber? How about the scene in Family Guy where little Stewie tries to  get his mother’s attention until she finally screams “WHAT!” only for him to just say hi?

That is my life right now.

On repeat.

Andrew is talking to his friend on the phone, making God-awful noises just for fun. Of course he definitely has earbuds stuck in his head, so he is practically screaming. I ask him how his friend’s can handle listening to him, then realize the kid on the other end of the phone is most likely doing the exact same thing, and his mother is probably getting ready to wring his neck. Sorta like I am right now.

Oh, and did you know Nina can say her sixes (multiplication tables)?

I do. She just told me. Twice. Really fast.

And she would like a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert. No wait! A cookie. Nope. It’s gonna be ice cream.

I wonder why I can never finish a thought. Any ideas? Anyone?

Time lapse a few hours and it’s finally quiet.

Back to my original thought.  These delicious cookies.

I had picked up these raspberry filled white chocolate morsels from Nestle and couldn’t wait to put them in a cookie. This recipe went along with them and came out perfect. Crispy edges and a chewy center with lots of salty macadamias offset by the sweetness of white chocolate and hint of raspberry.

I made these send in the mail to a friend. They didn’t quite get there.

Don’t worry, I picked up another bag. Someone’s gonna get a tasty little package in the mail. Of course, you can make these at home and you won’t have to wait for the mail.

White Chocolate Raspberry Macadamia Nut Cookies

NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® DelightFulls® White Morsels with Raspberry Flavored Filling

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto parchment lined baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

*If omitting nuts, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour.

Enjoy!

Original Nestle recipe here

German Chocolate Cupcakes

 

german chocolate cupcake

I haven’t been very present lately, but there’s a good reason. I have been working behind the scenes trying to create a new look for the site, establishing a format, taking a photography course, researching, organizing and cooking.  Of course, while I’ve been doing that I’ve forgotten the most important part of blogging.

Uh duh, blogging.

Yep, posting actual content. Kinda important.

Even though the site is still under construction, I need to keep posting and one day you’ll pop over here and it will be all new and shiny and pretty and we’ll all smile and do a happy dance.

Until then…

So, one of the girls at the office was having a birthday and she had mentioned that German Chocolate cake was her absolute favorite.

I personally, had never had it before. Something about everything being brown turned me off I guess. Cakes are supposed to be pretty and colorful. Not brown and sticky and chunky.

Well, I took it as a challenge and since Ina is awesome at everything and has never let me down in the past, I chose her recipe as my initial venture into the world of German Chocolate.

Um, yeh. Brown, gooey, sticky, chunky, deeply chocolately and decadent DEE-LICIOUS!  I’m a fan.

The true test was the birthday girl, since it’s her fave, she really knows the good from the bad when it comes to this cake.

“This is the best frosting I have ever had!” and “Oh my God!” (said with mouth full and cheeks packed) really said it all.

German Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients

12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
²/³ cup granulated sugar
²/³ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
½ cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 tablespoons freshly brewed coffee
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Coconut Frosting (recipe follows)

For the Coconut Frosting
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1¼ cups light brown sugar, lightly packed
4 extra-large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon pure almond extract
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup blanched sliced almonds, toasted
1 cup chopped pecans
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with 14 or 15 paper liners.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs one at a time, add the vanilla and mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee.
  4. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. With the mixer on low, add the buttermilk and flour mixtures alternately in thirds, beginning with the buttermilk and ending with the flour. Be careful not to overmix! Fold the batter a few times with a rubber spatula to make sure it’s mixed.
  6. Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners. (I use a 2-inch ice cream scoop.) Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the Coconut Frosting

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.Whisk in the evaporated milk, brown sugar, and egg yolks and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 15 minutes, until slightly thickened. If the mixture looks a bit curdled, beat it vigorously with a whisk. Take off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, almond extract, coconut, almonds, pecans, and salt. Allow to cool for about an hour. Frost the cupcakes with a knife or small metal spatula. This makes a lot of frosting, so pile it high!

Enjoy!

Recipe as written from The Barefoot Contessa

 

Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Walnut Cookies

banana cookies

At the behest of my daughter, last week I bought a beautiful, bright yellow bunch of bananas. With the promise of eating all of them because she wanted to be healthy.

It goes without saying that this week I have a bunch of old, brown, mushy bananas.

But the bag of Doritos is gone. Just sayin.

I hate tossing bananas. But I didn’t really feel like banana bread. Nor did I want a smoothie. I really wanted a cookie. Ok, I wanted several cookies. These babies called to me from the pages of my Cookies book. They are soft and cakey and not too sweet. The addition of the oats and nuts transform them into hearty little snacks similar to banana nut oatmeal. I usually use crunchy turbinado sugar on top of my banana bread, but I thought I’d switch it up a bit and sprinkle the cookie tops with coarse sea salt. Just a little.

That was the cherry on top! Or salt on top. Whatever. It gave them a little sumpin sumpin that took these right to the top of my fave list. I have been instructed never to make them again. They were that good.

Got rotten nanas?

Make. These. Cookies.

You’ll never want to make banana bread again.

Banana Chocolate Chip Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 large)
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped into 1/4-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (about 2 ounces), toasted
  • Coarse sea salt for sprinkling, optional (but really, you must)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together flours, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl; set aside. Put butter and sugars into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add egg and vanilla; mix until combined. Mix in banana. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in oats, chocolate chunks, and walnuts.

  2. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, space about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle a little coarse sea salt on tops. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown and just set, 12 to 13 minutes. Let cool slightly on sheets and transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers up to 3 days.

**Note…I had several bananas so I doubled this recipe and good thing because I may or may not have eaten a few of them.

Recipe from Martha Stewart