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Rhubarb and Blueberry Jam

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It’s blueberry season again. I know that last year I went a little crazy and although I only posted once last year about my jam, I continued to make it all summer long. Similarly was my obsession was apple butter two years ago. I couldn’t get enough of the stuff .This year I’m going to be adding a bit of rhubarb to my jam, as well as a whole vanilla pod. This way I can get more of the creamy, vanilla flavor to balance the sugar necessary for the rhubarb to be sweet enough to be edible.

Rhubarb and Blueberry Jam (with balsamic vinegar and lemon)

  • 4 rhubarb stalks
  • 2 cups of blueberries (fresh is preferred, buy frozen works just as well, do not thaw when adding)
  • 2 1/2 cups of sugar (I used  1 1/2 cups of regular sugar, and 1 cup of vanilla sugar)
  • 1 vanilla pod (opened and seeds scraped out)
  • 1 pectin box (1.75 oz sure-jell containers)*
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 lemon

Place everything but pectin in a dutch oven and slowly heat on stove, over medium heat. After ten minutes of warming the fruit should be releasing the juices. Add in the pectin and stir.

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Let bubble away slowly, about thirty minutes, keeping an eye to make sure it doesn’t stick.

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Continue to cook till desired consistency is reached, about 1.5 hours.

Using a potato masher, attempt to pulverize the fruit that is now lovely, and soft. Using a whisk add in juice of one lemon with zest. The Whisk will allow the fruit to soften even further.

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To test that the jams doneness, place a plate in freezer for ten minutes. Take out and add a line of jam (about a teaspoon) to cold plate. Let sit for a few seconds, and move plate around to see if the jam has set. If it has, you’re all set for canning! If not, bubble away a little longer and retest (there is too much natural juice that needs to evaporate).

* The rhubarb gives off A LOT of juice, therefore the sugar is not enough to solidify it. The extra use of the pectin here will help with that.

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The Baking Frenzy

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Well the Christmas holiday is right around the corner, and I suppose you could say I’ve gone a bit mad with the baking. Christmas Eve will be celebrated at Boyfriend’s family home (his cousin’s) to be  exact. I usually bring dessert or some sort of after dinner treat, simply because it’s what I do. Growing up I was taught that the Hostess had to have something for herself, a bottle of wine, some nice cheese, a spa set, etc, and she shouldn’t ever have to worry about dessert.

Well, I have taken care of dessert, and then some!

First, I started off with  some chocolate crackle cookies with frosting and holiday sprinkles and some Ruby Thumbprint cookies, not to mention a new snickerdoodle recipe.

It’s a little difficult to imagine how many people these cookies alone will serve, however I have vanilla cake and chocolate guinness gingerbread ahead! I’m almost positive that I’ve started to crack. But in the most delicious way.

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Chocolate Christmas Cookies with Glaze

1 1/8 cups soft butter (2 1/4 sticks, 18 tbsp)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
Topping:
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
candy sprinkles or sanding sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F Line a cookie sheet with parchment or Silpat.

Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Sift 1/3 c cocoa powder into the mixture and beat well. Sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder, and add to mixture. (Optionally, combine everything in a food processor and mix until combined.).

Form 1 tbsp sized balls. Place on cookie sheet at least 2″ apart, pressing down into fat discs. (The dough will be very sticky; gloves may be a good idea.).

Bake 15 minutes. The tops will develop a cracked appearance. Cool 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack until completely cooled. (Placing a sheet of newspaper under the rack will help catch drips in the next step.).

For the topping, combine 2 tbsp cocoa powder with confectioner’s sugar, boiling water and vanilla in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat and whisk until smooth. Cool 10 minutes.

Drizzle 1 tbsp of glaze on each cookie, spreading lightly with the back of the spoon, then sprinkle with sprinkles or sanding sugar. Work with 6 cookies at a time so the glaze doesn’t dry out before applying the sprinkles.

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Saveur Snickerdoodles

3 cups flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
1 3⁄4 cups sugar
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Using a handheld mixer on medium speed, beat 1 1⁄2 cups sugar and the butter together in a medium bowl until pale and fluffy, 2 minutes.

Add 2 tsp. cinnamon and the vanilla; beat for 1 minute more. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add reserved dry ingredients; mix on low speed until just combined.

Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 375°.

Combine remaining sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Remove dough from refrigerator and, using a 1-tbsp. measure, spoon out 48 portions, rolling each portion into a 1″ ball as you go. Roll each ball in cinnamon–sugar mixture to coat.

Arrange dough balls 2″ apart on 2 parchment paper–lined baking sheets. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool.

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Guinness Gingerbread

1 1/4 sticks 10 (tablespoons) butter, plus some for greasing
1 cup golden syrup (such as Lyle’s)
1 cup (packed) plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 cups sour cream
2 eggs

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

Line your cake pan with aluminium foil and grease it, or grease your foil tray.

 Put the butter, syrup, dark brown sugar, stout, ginger, cinnamon and ground cloves into a pan and melt gently over a low heat.

Take off the heat and whisk in the flour and baking soda. You will need to be patient and whisk thoroughly to get rid of any lumps.

Whisk the sour cream and eggs together in a measuring jug and then beat into the gingerbread mixture, whisking again to get a smooth batter.

Pour this into your cake/foil pan, and bake for about 45 minutes; when it’s ready it will be “gleamingly” risen at the center, and coming away from the pan at the sides.

Let the gingerbread cool before cutting into slices or squares.

(I garnished my gingerbread after slicing, with some powdered sugar and pine trees with deer)

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Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies with Glitter (Adapted from Curry and Comfort)

1 box yellow cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
almond meal as needed (about 2-3oz)
Strawberry jelly as needed ( or any jam/ jelly you prefer… strawberry, raspberry, grape, etc…)
Edible glitter (if you have any)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix everything except the glitter and almond meal,  in a large bowl, making sure it’s all well incorporated. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and roll again in the almond meal. I used a bowl to roll the dough in to make it easier to get the sides coated. The dough is very sticky, so this step isn’t necessary but a nice touch.

Using your thumb or index finger, indent a hole in the middle of the cookie, making sure not to go too low. Fill with your choice of jam/jelly.

Bake for 13-15 minutes. Let cool completely (about 15 minutes) before topping with glitter.

Hazelnut Biscotti

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As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m a bit obsessed with biscotti. They’re a pretty great cookie, really. Nothing more lovelier, even on a 100 degree So. Cal. summer day than some hot tea (or coffee) and biscotti to chew on. Since my first biscotti was so successful, I’ve decided to go ahead and make another one.

I’m sure I’ll be making my own biscotti for years to come.

This recipe was easier when I omitted servicing the nuts. Simply because I don’t mind a bit of roughage which the skins provide, and I enjoyed that slight bitter edge it gave the biscotti, contrasting nicely between the sweetness of my teas. Overall, two thumbs up!

 

Taken from Homemade and Wholesome’s TWD post

  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons baking soda
  • 2/3 cup unblanched (raw) hazelnuts

*I skipped this step, my nuts weren’t skinned, and were totally fine.

  • 1  2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico, or brandy
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F.

Preparing the Nuts– To skin the hazelnuts, bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan, add the baking soda and the nuts, and boil for 3-5 minutes, until the water turns black. To test if the skins have loosened sufficiently, drop a nut into a bowl of cold water and rub lightly against the skin- if the skin just slides off, the nuts are ready to go. Turn the nuts into a colander and run cold water over them. Slip off the skins, toss the nuts onto a towel, pat dry, and transfer to a jelly-roll pan.

Place the pan in the oven and toast the nuts, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until evenly browned. The best way to test for total toastiness is to bite into a nut- it should be brown to the center. Remove the nuts from the oven and cool. Lower the oven temperature to 300F.

When the nuts are cool enough to handle, coarsely chop them and set them aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and reserve until needed.

Making the Dough– Put the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and whisk just to blend. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, liqueur, vanilla and sugar. Add the dry ingredients to the liquid and stir with a wooden spoon to mix. Add the nuts and continue to mix, just until well incorporated. (Since the dough is stiff, sticky, and hard to stir, you might find it easier just to reach in and mix it with your hands.)

Flour your hands and lift half of the dough onto one side of the parchment-lined baking sheet. Pat and squeeze the dough into a chubby log 12 to 13 inches long. Don’t worry about being neat or smoothing the dough- it will even out as much as it needs to in the oven. Repeat with the other half of the dough, leaving about 3 inches between the logs.

I decided to only use one log simply because I was lazy and I like biscotti that’s wide and thin.

First Baking– Bake the logs for exactly 35 minutes. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes. At this point, the logs can remain on the pan overnight, if that’s more convenient for you.

Second Baking– Using a serrated knife, cut the logs into 1/2 inch thick slices, cutting straight across or diagonally. (You can make the biscotti thinner or thicker, as you wish, and adjust the baking time accordingly.) Lay the biscotti on their sides on a cooling rack- you may need to use a second rack- the place the cooling rack in the 300F oven, directly on an oven rack. (Baking the biscotti like this allows the oven’s heat to circulate around the cookies, so there’s no need to turn them over.) The cookies may need to bake for as long as 15 minutes, but it’s a good idea to start checking them after about 10 minutes. When the biscotti are golden brown, dry and crisp, remove the cooling racks from the oven. Let the cookies cool to room temperature before packing them for storage.

French Breakfast Puffs

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So it has been a while since I’ve been in a baking mood. Not just because it’s been very hot, but also because the last two weeks were stressful with bills and financial matters. I’m happy to say though, that all that’s taken care of, and I woke this morning with my usual urge to bake.

 

I didn’t come up with these on my own, but I must say that the recipe is so easy, I just took one look and the ingredients were in my mind. Takes a total of 35 minutes or so for the whole process, and I’m eating yummy breakfast puffs.

Recipe:

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup melted butter

1/2 teaspoon of almond extract

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

cinnamon (optional) 1/4 teaspoon

 

3 tablespoons butter, meltedc

cinnamon

sugar

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine flour,  sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl combine vanilla, almond extract, egg, milk and melted butter.
Add egg mixture to flour mixture and mix just until blended.
Lightly grease muffin cups or line with muffin papers. Fill 2/3 full with batter. Bake 20-25 minutes.
In the meantime, melt butter. In a separate bowl combine sugar and cinnamon. Allow muffins to cool for at least 10 minutes. Roll muffin tops in butter, then sugar.
Adapted from Fresh.