Friday, March 29, 2013

Browned Butter Easter Bars

A bonus post for you, brought to you by the Easter bunny ;)

With some Easter candy at home that I was all too tempted to eat in one sitting, I thought I should do something with them so that didn't happen.  And I ended up with Browned Butter Easter Candy Bars.  I mean, adding browned butter to Easter candy and I won't want to touch it, right?

Brilliant, Shannon.

Browned Butter Easter Candy Bars
adapted from Cook's Illustrated
Yield: ~24

14T unsalted butter, sliced into even chunks
2c + 2T whole wheat pastry flour (AP or white whole wheat)
1/2t salt
1/2t baking soda
1c unpacked brown sugar (light or dark)
1/2c evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar)
1 lg egg
1 lg egg yolk
2t vanilla extract
2c chopped Easter candy (mine was a mix of mini eggs, chocolate covered peeps, lindt truffles, and creme eggs)
coarse sea salt, for the topping

Preheat the oven to 325deg.  Spray a 9x13" pan with nonstick spray and set aside.

Make the browned butter by heating a thick-bottomed pot or skillet over medium heat.  Add butter and swirl to the pan to ensure even cooking.  Whisk frequently as the butter begins to foam and then subsides.  As soon as you see browned bits beginning to form at the bottom of the pan, remove the pan from the heat and let cool.  It should smell deliciously nutty and start to drive you crazy.

Prepare your dry ingredients in a medium bowl; whisk together flour, salt and baking soda.

Once the browned butter has cooled to room temperature, add 3/4c to the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add brown and white sugars and beat until well combined.  Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract and mix until smooth.  With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Fold in the chopped candy.

Add the batter to your prepared pan and press into the pan evenly with a spatula.  Top with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt.  Bake for 25-30min, until the bars are slightly browned and edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into bars.  Store in an airtight container.

What's your favorite treat to bake up with holiday candy?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Roasted Date Salad

As soon as I saw this salad I knew I'd be making it.  Warm, roasted dates?  Yes, please :)  I adapted it just a bit, based on what I had in my refrigerator and couldn't have been more pleased.  This is definitely one to add to your repertoire!

Roasted Date Salad
adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon
yield:  4 side salads

6-7 Medjool dates, pitted and cut in half lengthwise
2T balsamic vinegar
1t extra virgin olive oil, divided
3oz proscuitto
4-6c arugula (could also use mixed greens)
2oz goat cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375deg.

In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Add dates and toss until dates are well coated.  Add to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for ~10min.  Set aside until they're cool to the touch.  Roughly chop the warm dates into smaller bite-size pieces.

Crisp up the proscuitto either in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat or in the oven along with the dates. Set crispy proscuitto on paper towels to cool.  Once cool to the touch, crumble the proscuitto.

Add greens to a large bowl and toss with 1-2T balsamic vinaigrette dressing (if you don't have some on hand, try this recipe).  Lightly season with salt and pepper, toss again and then divide greens between 4 plates.  Top with the chopped dates, crispy proscuitto bits and crumbled goat cheese.  Serve!

With my love of bacon-wrapped, goat-cheese stuffed dates, I'm surprised I hadn't tried warm dates on anything else!  Have you done anything fun with dates lately??

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dessert Sliders

When Marx Foods put out the call for bloggers looking to turn dinner into dessert I had to think twice-- this wasn't going to be easy!  But I can't say no to a challenge, so I considered it accepted :)

The goal:  take a sample of cocoa penne (provided by Marx Foods) and make an original dessert recipe that looks like a dinner.  My first thought was to cook up the pasta, top with with a fruity sauce that looked like marinara, and top it with a goat cheese cream.  But that seemed a little to straight-forward.

I decided to transform the pasta by grinding up the cocoa penne and using it as cocoa powder to make... a burger!  Easily dinner-fare :)  I dressed it up for the pictures with appropriate attire- a sesame seed bun, cheese, lettuce and ketchup.  Bon appetit!

Cheeseburger Sliders
Yield:  9 sliders

For the Cocoa Penne Burger:
6 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1/4c almond meal
1T melted coconut oil
2T ground + sifted cocoa penne
1t honey
pinch sea salt

For assembly:
your favorite macarons, sprinkled with sesame seeds (the bun)
White Chocolate Buttercream dyed orange (the cheese)
Shredded coconut dyed green (the lettuce)
Strawberry Jam (the ketchup)

To make the cocoa penne burgers, add all of the ingredients to a food processor and blend until well combined.  Divide into 9 portions and form them into "patty" shapes.  Refrigerate at least a few hours to firm up (will be good for a few days).

To assemble the sliders, add a burger to one macaron and top with a smear of buttercream, some coconut and some jam.  Top with another macaron shell to complete the burger.  Repeat with remaining burgers and serve!

What would you have made with the cocoa penne??

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Key Lime Pie

Just in time for Pi Day... I have pie!

Image Source

Inspired by a recent trip to Key West, I wanted to make a key-limed treat to share with my lab.  The natural choice was key lime pie, but I wanted to add some of my own twists to the classic.

Instead of a traditional graham craker crust, I used toasted coconut cookies that I found at Trader Joe's and added in some shredded coconut for good measure.  While delicious, the crust was a bit crumbly, so beware when you're serving slices!

I topped the pie with some white chocolate whipped cream... holy moly this was delicious.  I should've used more to decorate the pie, but I misplaced it in my mouth somewhere.

Key Lime Pie
adapted from Browned Eyed Baker

For the Crust:
1 1/4c toasted coconut cookie crumbs (graham cracker, ginger snaps, or even chocolate cookies would also work)
1/2c unsweetened coconut (mine was reduced-fat)
2T evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar)
6T unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling:
3t grated key lime zest
4 egg yolks
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk (fat-free if you like)
3/4c freh key lime juice

For the White Chocolate Whipped Cream:
2oz white chocolate, chopped
3oz heavy cream, chilled

Preheat the oven to 325.

Start by making the filling; add the lime zest and egg yolks to the bowl of a stand mixer.  Whip egg yolks until fluffy, 5-6min.  Gradually add the sweetened condensed milk and whip until thick, 3-4min.  Lower the speed and slowly add key lime juice, continuing to mix until incorporated.  Set aside while you prepare the crust.

If you don't have a stand mixer, you should do the following:  Add the lime zest and egg yolks to a medium bowl and whisk for 2min.  Whisk in sweetened condensed milk, then key lime juice.

To make the crust, stir together cookie crumbs, coconut and evaporated cane juice.  While stirring continuously with a fork, slowly drizzle the melted butter into the mixture.  The mixture should look let wet sand, and a little crumbly if using the same coconut cookies.  Transfer the crumbs to a 9" pie plate and evenly press the crumbs to form a crust.  Bake until fragrant and beginning to brown, 12-15min.  Cool on a wire rack until it reaches room temperature.

Once cool, pour the filling into the crust.  Bake 15-17min, until the center is set yet still wiggly when jiggled.  Cool completely on a wire rack.  Refrigerate until well-shilled, at least 3 hours.

Add the chopped white chocolate to a small bowl and set aside.  In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream over medium heat.  As the cream comes to a simmer, remove from heat and pour over the white chocolate.  Stir until smooth.  Refrigerate with the pie until completely chilled.

When white chocolate cream is cold and you're ready to serve the pie, whip the white chocolate cream.  Decoratively pipe on the pie or spread evenly over the filling.  Garnish with lime slices, if desired (I figured people wouldn't eat these so I left them out).  Serve!  Any leftovers can be covered in an airtight container (or covered in plastic wrap) and refrigerated for a few days.

Coconut and white chocolate were a natural fit, and I'd highly recommend you go make this to celebrate any day of the week!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Double Choc Muffins

Check out my guest post over at bran appetit today, I baked you a batch of double chocolate muffins!

There's a secret ingredient in there...  spent grain leftover from beer brewing ;)  Don't worry, you can substitute other flours if you don't brew!
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