Chocolate Teff Brownies

My husband and I were invited to a cook-out recently. He knew the couple hosting the event; I didn’t know anyone. I volunteered to bring a dessert so that there would be something gluten-free available for my husband. A look through my pantry and through my favorite cookbook (as you likely know by now!), Nourishing Meals, and I settled on some Chocolate Chip Teff Brownies with an added dairy-free ganache. They were absolutely delicious and received rave reviews from the party goers.

Chocolate Teff Brownies

CHOCOLATE TEFF BROWNIES
(from Nourishing Meals by Alissa Segersten)
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Dry Ingredients
1 c. teff flour
1/4 c. tapioca flour
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt

Wet Ingredients
1/2 c. dates, pitted
1/4 c. ground flaxseeds
1 1/4 c. boiling water
1/2 c. coconut oil
1/2 c. coconut sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Mix-in
1/2 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 7 x 11 baking dish.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Set aside.

Place the dates and ground flaxseeds into a blender; pour the boiling water over them. Let sit for 10 minutes. Then add the rest of the wet ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and quickly whisk together. Add the chocolate chips and continue to whisk until thoroughly combined.

Pour better into pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

3 oz chocolate chips
1/4 c. coconut milk
2 Tbsp maple syrup

Place all ingredients into a small pan and heat over low. Stir continuously until melted and thickened, just about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes. Do not chill. Drizzle over brownies.

Or, if you would like a thick, creamy, spreadable frosting then let the ganache thicken at room temperature for about 3 hours.

Molasses Syrup

Our family LOVES pancakes and it’s my husband’s specialty! Last week I made some (mostly forgettable) banana nut pancakes and was searching for a quick syrup to make to serve with them. We try to make our own most of the time since I’m not crazy about all the additives in store bought syrup. We do use pure maple syrup (but sometimes at an alarming and therefore expensive rate), however, we usually top pancakes with yogurt, fruit syrups, and/or homemade syrups. So, while I can’t take credit for coming up with this yummy syrup recipe, I was very excited to find it! I doubled Simple Bites Recipe because if I’m going to the trouble I want some leftover for other meals.

In short, this was DELICIOUS! We love molasses cookies and the flavor was very reminiscent of the warm, spicy flavors of a fresh cookie. A few notes – 1) a little goes a long way, 2) this was amazing on hot cereal like oatmeal and cream of wheat, and 3) it stores well and would probably be quite good on vanilla ice cream or gingerbread.

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MOLASSES SYRUP
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1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. molasses
3/4 c. water
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tb. salted butter

In a small pot, whisk together sugar, molasses, water, and cinnamon over medium heat. Bring to a slow boil and continue stirring until ingredients are fully incorporated and syrup thickens. Remove from heat and whisk in butter. Cool slightly. Transfer to a pitcher for serving or a glass jar for storing.

Yields: 1 1/2 cups syrup

**Of note, Simple Bites has 4 other great-looking syrups in this post!

Grandma’s Molasses Crinkles

This is perhaps one of my favorite cookies ever. It brings back many memories of family gatherings and shared meals. While I mostly remember my aunt and my mom making them, the recipe originated with my grandma and so I always think of her. I searched through her recipe box and found it written in her hand with a tiny note that this is a good recipe. Love that.

These are the perfect texture, the perfect combination of spices, perfectly sweet but not too sweet, and perfectly formed with “crinkles” on top. They are delicious warm or cooled. Stephanie even had these as favors at her wedding. Yes, I think it’s fair to say these are a family tradition.

Molasses Crinkles would be a great addition to your Superbowl Party (along with many of other appetizer and snack recipes!) but they would also be good just about any other day. Perfection.

GRANDMA’S MOLASSES CRINKLES
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3/4 c. shortening (trust me on this one)
1/4 c. molasses
1 c. sugar
1 egg
2 1/4 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream shortening, molasses, sugar, and egg together until fully combined and creamy. Add flour, soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix until fully combined.

Scoop dough and roll into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until crinkled on top and lightly golden. Makes about 3 dozen.

Old-Fashioned Pumpkin Doughnuts

For Christmas, I received Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts: Secrets and Recipes for the Home Baker by Mark & Michael Klebeck with Jess Thomson – I think it might have been a not-so-subtle hint from my brother-in-law that doughnuts would be a good next step in the culinary world. I took the hint and excitedly obliged!

This book is awesome! It contains history, tips, recipes, and more for the famous doughnuts made by Seattle bakery Top Pot.  My kids were more than a little excited to see a doughnut book in the mix of my Christmas books and my three-year-old immediately started picking recipes for me to make.

The pictures are beautiful and inspiring and the recipes are detailed and specific. It is thorough and even includes gluten-free doughnut recipes. The book also provides many glazes and icings so you can mix and match your doughnut and topping. Really I just can’t get enough of this book and it’s not helping my healthier eating January. So…I’m going to also give you a yummy reason to break those resolutions for just one day…or two…at a time (ha!).

If you like to cook and bake and enjoy trying new techniques, this book is definitely for you – go pick up a copy! It’s SO fun! I made the Pumpkin Old-Fashioned Doughnuts and the Sour Cream Old-Fashioned Doughnuts – they were both excellent and I can’t wait to try another flavor. Today, I will share one recipe from this great book and you go buy the book and get the rest – you won’t regret it and you will definitely want to make all of the different kinds! Oh and don’t foget to drop off one of your delicious doughnuts for me to try!

Seriously, these are SO GOOD! My family (parents, sister & bil, husband, kids, etc) LOVED them! I’m totally a sucker for pumpkin so these were the first ones I made and honestly, they exceeded my already high expectations. I followed the instructions exactly since I’ve never made doughnuts and they turned out picture-perfect.


PUMPKIN OLD-FASHIONED DOUGHNUTS

Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts: Secrets and Recipes for the Home Baker
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3 c. cake/soft-wheat flour, plus more for rolling and cutting
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. iodized salt
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 c. sugar
2 Tb. shortening/vegetable lard, trans-fat-free preferred
2 large egg yolks
2/3 c. sour cream
1/2 c. canned pumpkin Canola oil, for frying

Pumpkin Glaze:

4 1/2 c./1 lb confectioners’/icing sugar, sifted
2 tsp. light corn/golden syrup
1/2 tsp. iodized salt
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 c. canned pumpkin
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. hot water

Serves 3 to 4

To make the doughnut dough: Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and pumpkin pie spice together into a medium bowl, and set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the sugar and shortening/vegetable lard for 1 minute on low speed, until sandy. Add the egg yolks, then mix for 1 more minute on medium speed, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if necessary, until the mixture is light colored and thick.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in three separate additions, alternating with the sour cream and pumpkin, mixing until just combined on low speed and scraping the sides of the bowl each time. The dough will be sticky, like wet cookie/biscuit dough.

Transfer the dough to a clean bowl and refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap/cling film, for 45 minutes (or up to 24 hours).

Meanwhile, make the pumpkin glaze: Place the confectioners’/icing sugar, corn/golden syrup, salt, pumpkin pie spice, pumpkin, and vanilla in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the machine on medium speed, add the water in a slow, steady stream, and blend until all of the sugar has been incorporated, scraping the bowl a few times if necessary. Set aside.

Using a candy thermometer to measure the temperature, heat oil (at least 2 in deep) in a deep fryer, large pot, or high-sided frying pan to 325°F. Roll out the chilled dough on a generously floured counter or cutting board to 1/2 in thick, or about 8 inches in diameter, flouring the top of the dough and the rolling pin as necessary to prevent sticking. Cut into as many doughnuts and holes as possible, dipping the cutter into flour before each cut. Fold and gently reroll the dough to make extra holes (working with floured hands makes the dough less sticky), and cut again.

Shake any excess flour off the doughnuts before carefully adding them to the hot oil a few at a time, taking care not to crowd them. Once the doughnuts float, fry for 15 seconds, then gently flip them. Fry for 75 to 90 seconds, until golden brown and cracked, then flip and fry the first side again for 60 to 75 seconds, until golden. Transfer to a rack set over paper towels/absorbent paper.

While the doughnuts are still quite hot, dip the side with the deepest cracks on each into the warm Pumpkin Glaze. Let dry on cooling racks, glazed side up, for about 15 minutes.

My notes:

* This dough was not as sticky as I expected and was easy to work with – I did use regular all-purpose flour (sifted) but that isn’t as light as cake flour so that may have contributed to the less stickiness.
* Keeping the oil at a consistent heat (between 325-350) was sometimes challenging and I accidentally added a couple of donuts too early which made them take longer or cook too fast and made the end product not quite as good but nobody complained and there were none left!
* I kept the glaze warm (which makes glazing easier) on my warming burner on the stove (low-medium).
* These were best the first day but still quite excellent the next day.
* I was not compensated in any way for this review except for getting to share and enjoy delicious, homemade doughnuts.

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles

Have you been on pinterest? It’s this amazing site that is really like an online scrapbook of ideas. It makes you feel completely inadequate and empowered all at the same time. There are so many categories like cool crafts, awesome looking recipes, fashion ideas, and even fitness plans. Anyway this is actually not a commercial for pinterest but it is where I found this recipe. They were called Chubby Hubby Truffles (after some rather well known ice cream) or Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles.

These are quick, very easy, and they look really nice. They are a wonderful combination of salt and sweet and the creamy peanut butter is a nice texture with the crunch of the pretzels. In full disclosure – I was not thrilled with how big I accidentally made them. These are really good!

Peanut Butter-Pretzel Truffles
adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Makes About 18-24 truffles

1½ c. pretzel pieces
½ c. creamy peanut butter (I used Skippy)
1 Tb. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 Tb. light brown sugar
3 Tb. powdered sugar
1 1/2 c.  milk or semisweet chocolate chips
1 Tb. vegetable shortening

Put the pretzel pieces into a resealable plastic bag and crush into very small bits – I used my food processor.

In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter, butter, brown sugar and salt. Stir until all of the ingredients are completely blended and smooth. Add the pretzel bits to the peanut butter mixture and mix thoroughly. Add the powdered sugar and mix until completely combined.

Line a small baking sheet or plate with wax paper. Using a small cookie scoop, or about 2 teaspoons worth of peanut butter mixture, gently roll  into a ball (I put a little butter on my hand to reduce sticking and had to wash my hands after every 5 or so). Place the ball on the wax paper-lined cookie sheet and repeat with the remaining peanut butter mixture. Place the baking sheet into the refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes.

When ready to dip the truffles, microwave the chocolate chips and vegetable shortening together in a small bowl at 50% power in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until completely melted and smooth.

Dip each peanut butter-pretzel ball into the melted chocolate and use a fork or spoon to roll it around, ensuring that it is completely coated with chocolate. Let any extra chocolate drip off and place back on the wax paper-lined sheet. Repeat with all of the peanut butter-pretzel balls.

Return the baking sheet to the refrigerator and again chill for at least 30 minutes. Garnish with a drizzle of melted peanut butter (melt the peanut butter for 30 seconds in the microwave and use a fork to drizzle) and crushed pretzels, if desired. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Mocha Coconut Fudge

When How Sweet It Is posted this recipe, I knew immediately that I would be trying it. I mean really, with her willingness to interrupt our busy plans with this recipe, how could I refuse? 🙂 The flavor combination was an instant win in my book – kind of an extra rich and sweet twist on a yummy frappucino I enjoy occasionally – ahem.

This recipe was super quick, super decadent, and totally yum. I think we may have a new fudge recipe to add to our annual favorites – peanut butter, chocolate, and butter pecan. We may like fudge – the vote is still out – you can send me more recipes to, you know…make sure!

Let me tell you a little secret about this recipe…I made it in the microwave. You can certainly use the double boiler as the recipe recommends but I noticed that she mentioned the microwave as an option and I was sold. You see, I was up to my eyeballs in cookie baking when I threw this recipe in to the mix between shuffling cookies into the oven. So, yes, it was easy. 🙂 You can go here for her original awesome recipe. I’m going to post my microwave version in case you are lazy like me.

Seriously, how pretty is this?! This would make aa really great gift! Oh and I forgot to mention – my mom thought this was wonderful.

Mocha Coconut Fudge
Adapted from How Sweet It Is
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12 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used 2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips)
12 oz. white baking chocolate, chopped (I used 2 c. white chocolate chips)
1 can (15oz) sweetened condensed milk (mine was 14 oz which was no problem), divided
1 1/2 Tb. espresso powder or instant coffee (I used the latter – two packets of an instant because that’s what I had)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. coconut extract
1 Tb. coconut oil, divided
1/2 c. flaked coconut, toasted (350 degrees for about 10 minutes but watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn!)

Line an 8×8 pan with buttered foil.

Add semisweet chocolate to microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and microwave for 30 more seconds. Add in half of the sweetened condensed milk (I eyeballed it), the coffee powder and 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 tsp.) of coconut oil. Return to microwave for 30 seconds. Remove and stir. Continue 30 second increments until fully melted and smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Spread evenly in the bottom of the pan. Mixture will be quitethick. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes (or less if your me and you want to hurry).

Add white chocolate to a micorwave safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds. Add in remaining condensed milk and coconut oil and return to microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave 30 more seconds if needed until mixture is completely melted. Add coconut extract and thoroughly combine. Remove fudge from freezer and add white chocolate on top, spreading evenly to coat. Top with toasted coconut, then chill in the refrigerator for 60-90 minutes.

When ready to cut, fill a large cup with hot water or run knife under the tap. Dip a sharp knife into the water, then blot on a towel. Use knife to cut fudge into your desired size of squares.

This is SO rich and SO good – I think you could easily cut this into 1 inch squares which would make for 64 pieces of fudge. 🙂 Enjoy and go thank How Sweet It Is for this deliciousness and check out her site! If you like chocolate, coffee, and coconut, you will LOVE this.

Balsamic Figs w/Yogurt Cream Cheese & Walnuts

Seriously, I have been missing out. I have always associated figs with those packaged fig cookies which were a treat as a child. My goodness people, if you have not eaten a fresh fig, get yourself to the store immediately and buy some. They are splendid. Maybe I’ve had them before but it seems I would remember…

These were a splurge at the farmer’s market. We wanted to try something new and the seller had samples. One taste and we were totally hooked. We debated how to prepare them and finally settled on this recipe. It was inspired by a recipe on Food Network, I believe. They were difficult to successfully photograph but they were not difficult to eat. This dessert is not super sweet but it is comforting and delicious. It would be a lovely treat during the hustle and bustle of the holidays!

BALSAMIC FIGS with YOGURT CREAM CHEESE & TOASTED WALNUTS
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8 figs, sliced in 1/2

Balsamic Reduction:
1/4 c. orange juice
1/8 c. balsamic vinegar
2 Tb. honey

Combine and boil for 5 minutes to reduce to a more syrupy consistency.

Heat broiler. Toss the figs in the balsamic reduction and then place cut side up on a pan and broil for 5-6 minutes until caramelized.

3 Tb. chopped Walnuts, toasted in butter

Yogurt Cream Cheese:
1/4 c. cream cheese
1/4 c. plain yogurts
1 Tb. honey

Beat until smooth.

To serve: place figs on plate and drizzle the remaining reduction from the pan, spoon the yogurt cream cheese over them and top with the walnuts.

Sweet Potato Maple Bacon Pie

Deliciouness abounds in this pie. I absolutely love the combination of sweet and salty. The candied bacon and maple cream kind of stole the show – as in, I could eat a whole bowl of just those two combined. 🙂 Seriously though, this pie was good! I served it to my parents and husband and they all proclaimed it delicious and they were all surprised at how much they LOVED the bacon.

Personally, I still like pumpkin pie better than sweet potato (it’s a texture thing) but I would totally make this again and serve it to guests and especially find more uses for that bacon. This is really an awesome twist on the traditional pumpkin pie. I’m already dreaming of the leftovers for breakfast. [Just a small note – the bacon looks dark in the picture but it was not burned I assure you!]

There are a few steps to this pie but it is not difficult and the steps do not need to be completed all at once.

SWEET POTATO MAPLE BACON PIE
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1 pie crust in a pie pan (you can make your own or buy a prepared one)
2 c. pureed sweet potato
2 eggs slightly beaten
1 c. evaporated milk
2 Tb. maple syrup
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine the sweet potato, milk, egg, and maple syrup in the blender. Add the spices. Pour into the crust. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes.  Then decrease oven to 350° and bake for 35-45 minutes until set.

CANDIED BACON
3 strips bacon, roughly chopped (mine was fairly thick)
1 tsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. brown sugar

Toss the bacon with brown sugar and maple syrup. Cook until crisp stirring and moving continually. It cooks fairly quickly and you need to keep an eye on it. Drain and cool completely.

MAPLE CREAM
1 c. whipped cream
2 Tb. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Just before serving, whip the cream for 1 minute. Add maple syrup and vanilla. Whip until stiff peaks form. Spread on top of pie. Top with candied bacon pieces.

Nantucket Cranberry Pie

Cranberries are in abundance this time of year and this dessert is a perfect way to capture the beauty and flavor of the cranberry. This is really more like an upside down cake, but for whatever reason, it’s called a pie. It’s super simple, so if you aren’t a lover of all things pie, you might just enjoy adding this sweet treat to your Thanksgiving Day dessert spread. I ate the entire pan myself, (granted, it was just a half a recipe, I didn’t eat it all in one day, and my husband apparently doesn’t like cranberries, but still…) and enjoyed every bite!

I found this recipe on The Pioneer Woman blog. But I did decrease the sugar from her recipe. I like my cranberries to retain a little bit of their tartness. If I make this again, I think I’ll add a bit of orange zest to the cranberries and maybe a squeeze or two of fresh orange juice. Or, you could do as I did here and add the orange zest to your whipped cream! Also, if you don’t care for the flavor of almond extract, you might try substituting vanilla extract.

I made this gluten-free by subbing in my gluten-free all-purpose blend and it worked out great.

NANTUCKET CRANBERRY PIE
(slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman)
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2 heaping cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 c. sugar
orange zest (opt.)
1 c. flour (or gluten-free flour blend)
3/4-1 c. sugar (depending on how tart/sweet you want it)
1 stick of butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp coarse sugar for sprinkling (opt.)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Liberally butter a cake or pie pan. Pour in the cranberries. Sprinkle with the chopped pecans, orange zest, and 1/2 c. sugar.

In a bowl, combine flour, 3/4-1 c. sugar, melted butter, eggs, almond extract, and salt. Stir gently to combine the ingredients.

Slowly pour the batter over the cranberries, making sure to cover the surface. Spread gently, if needed.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. If using coarse sugar, 5 minutes before removing from the oven, sprinkle the surface with 1 Tbsp of coarse sugar.

Serve with freshly whipped cream or ice cream.

Baker’s Delight: Cherry Chocolate Almond Oatmeal Cookies

Do they have a long enough name? 🙂 These are from the wonderful Bon Appetit Dessert Cookbook. I adapted them based on the ingredients I had but they were delicious! I’m going to go ahead an include the recipe as written in the book because I would totally make them exactly as written.

Cookies are one of my favorite desserts – they are perfect for picnics and pitch-ins, most of them freeze very well, and they are usually fairly easy to put together. They are also one of my favorite things to bake!

CHERRY-CHOCOLATE CHIP OATMEAL COOKIES
Bon Appetit Dessert Cookbook
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1 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. plus 2 Tb. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. (packed) dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 c. old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 c. dried tart cherries
1/2 c. slivered almonds, toasted

Position racks in center and top third of oven and preheat to 325°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift flour, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar in large bowl until well blended. Mix in egg and both extracts. Beat in flour mixture. Mix in oats, then chocolate chips, cherries and almonds.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake cookies 12 minutes. Switch and rotate baking sheets. Bake cookies until golden, about 6 minutes longer. Cool cookies on baking sheets (cookies will firm as they cool). (Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)