Monday, 9 January 2012

Chocolate Banana Muffins

In case you can't tell, I like Banana Muffins. I'm not a huge fan of bananas on their own, but I do enjoy Banana Bread and Banana Muffins. This latest recipe was adapted from Crystal at Money Saving Mom.

Chocolate Banana Muffins - makes 22-24 regular muffins

3 1/2 cups (17.5 oz) soft whole wheat flour (aka whole wheat pastry flour)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 cups turbinado (raw) sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
4 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 cups bananas, mashed well
1 T. vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In the Bosch (with the cookie paddles), mix together the banana, eggs, butter, applesauce, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and the chocolate chips. Mix on low speed just until combined.

Using a large, spring-loaded ice cream scoop (filled and leveled), portion batter into muffin tins that are lined with cupcake papers. Bake at 350° for 23-25 minutes.

These freeze very well.

**Today, I accidentally forgot the applesauce, but they turned out okay anyways because I had added and extra half-cup of banana because it was available. However, it only made 22 muffins. Also, you can totally use brown sugar instead of the raw sugar, but I am liking turbinado sugar more and more because they are really large crystals, so you end up using less, and because they don't fully dissolve in your batter, they give everything a nice crunch.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Another Awesome Free eBook

Crystal from Money Saving Mom is doing another awesome free eBook giveaway for those that blog, tweet, or post on facebook about her new book!  I'm excited to read it, as I have read Crystal's blog for a couple of years. You can order it off of Amazon, or you can get it from the library. I know the Maricopa Library District has several copies on order because I am one of the patrons on the waiting list for it. I would love to get my own copy, but when you are trying to save money, the library is a great resource!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Amazing Fruit Dip

My friend, Jenny, brought us dinner after I had Elle, and while the whole thing was delicious, this was our favorite part. When she told me how easy it was, I was amazed. It is especially good with apples, pineapple, and strawberries.

Amazing Fruit Dip

1 (8oz) package Cream Cheese
1 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 to Full bag English Toffee Bits

Mix together cream cheese and brown sugar until creamy and well combined. (A hand mixer makes this a lot easier than using just a whisk.) Stir in the toffee bits. That's it - very easy, and very good!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Amazing and Super Easy Chocolate Mousse...and Truffles!

(Maybe I'll actually get pictures this weekend if Elle cooperates...)

My sister emailed me a link containing a recipe for chocolate mousse that is only chocolate, water, and sugar. I couldn't believe it would actually work, since mixing melted chocolate and water is a major no-no because it causes the chocolate to seize. Well, not only did it work amazingly well, but it even worked while I was trying to juggle a crying baby who had woken up right as I was starting to melt everything, a 6-year-old who really, really wanted to help stir things, and a husband who walked in from a church meeting only to grab his stuff and run out the door because he had just gotten a call-out for work. (Anne isn't feeling well so she slept through all of this.) So not only is it a great recipe, but it's mom-friendly, too.

I called my sister, and she came by to sample it. As we were reveling in its very, very rich goodness, inspiration struck. Because I was trying to manage so many things, I had let the bowl of mousse sit in the ice bath for a few minutes after it reached the perfect consistency. This cause it to get more stiff, and we realized that if we turned the stiff mouse into truffles, it would be even better. Well, I happened to have a truffle-size cookie scoop, and some pretty pricey Peter's Milk Chocolate (the same milk chocolate used by See's Candy Co.). A few minutes later, our hunch was confirmed, and glorious truffles were born. We did learn two things from our quick experiment tonight: 1) freeze the inner (mousse) balls before trying to dip them or they will melt, and 2) put them on a waxed paper lined cookie sheet to set because they stick to a regular plate.

So here is the recipe, and a link to the YouTube video about it.

Recipe by Herve This & Heston Blumenthal
  • 9.35 ounces (265 grams) bittersweet (%70 cocoa solids) chocolate, chopped (I used Trader Joe's Belgian Bittersweet, and it was great!)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) water
  • 4 tbsp sugar, optional (unless you love really strong dark chocolate flavor, definitely add the sugar)
  1. Place a large mixing bowl on top of another slightly smaller one, filled with ice and cold water (the bottom of the large bowl should touch the ice). Set aside.*
  2. Put chocolate and water (also sugar if you’re using) in a medium-sized pan and melt the chocolate over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  3. Pour the melted chocolate into the mixing bowl sitting on top of ice and water, and start whisking with a wire whisk (or an electrical hand-held mixer) until thick**. Watch the texture as you whip and make sure not to over-whip as it will make the mousse grainy. If the mousse becomes grainy (which is possible at your first try), transfer it back into the pan, reheat until half of it is melted, pour it back to the mixing bowl and whisk again briefly.
  4. Divide into four serving cups and serve immediately.***
*About half-way through whipping, I realize that my chocolate wasn't cooling very fast, so I quickly dumped the ice water into a larger bowl, and then nestled the bowl of chocolate down into it. This worked great, and I will definitely do it again.
**I wouldn't even bother trying to whisk the mousse unless you want your arm to feel like it's going to fall off. Just go straight for the hand mixer on low speed. Beware, though, that it splatters, especially at the beginning. I started with the whisk but quickly realized that I would never get anywhere, especially while trying to keep Elle happy.
***To make truffles, let the bowl of mousse sit in the ice bath for about 5 minutes after you finish whipping, or refrigerate for about 10 minutes, until it becomes stiffer and easy to scoop. Be sure to freeze the scooped mousse completely before trying to dip in the melted milk chocolate.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Happy Birthday Anne and the Best-Tasting Princess Cake Ever!

Strawberry Cake 

3/4 cup pureed strawberries
1/4 cup milk
6 egg whites
1 Tbsp. vanilla
*whisk together, and let sit until room temperature, about 30 minutes. Whisk again before adding to dry ingredients*

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cup white sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
12 Tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350°, and prepare cake pans. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add butter, and mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the liquid ingredients, and beat until smooth. Divide batter evenly between pans, and smooth tops. Bake 25-30 minutes, then check for doneness. Do not underbake, or the centers will collapse. Do not jiggle pans as you are checking them, or centers will collapse. (I learned this one the hard way!) Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans to wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Strawberry Buttercream

1 pound (2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup strawberry puree
1 Tbsp. vanilla (clear works great, so your frosting doesn't turn brownish)
Powdered Sugar, enough to make it the desired consistency (approx. 1 4-pound bag from Sam's Club)

Beat everything together, adding more sugar as needed to achieve your desired consistency.

To pipe ruffles, use a #104 petal tip, with the skinny side towards you. Go back and forth, gradually working upward.

Helpful tips:
Swiss Meringue is stupid! I have tried twice to make it, and I can never even get the stiff peaks to form. Instead I made a simple strawberry buttercream that was amazing! The only thing is that it gets soft fast, so about 1/3 of the way through the ruffling, the cake and pastry bag of frosting both need to go back into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes (maybe only 20 minutes for the pastry bag...) so that the ruffles won't collapse. Do the same thing 2/3 of the way through.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Banana Cake Muffins - Third Time's a Charm

I am really pleased with the end results. I finally have something I don't feel (too) guilty about eating for breakfast. Anne really likes these, too. They freeze amazingly well. Just defrost for a few seconds in the microwave, and enjoy! (I put them on their side for about 10 seconds, and then turn them onto their other side for another 10 seconds. That way the top doesn't stick to the paper towel.) 

Banana Cake Muffins - for the third, and (most likely) final, time 

1 C. Unsalted Butter, softened* 
1 1/2 C. Turbinado Sugar 
4 Eggs** 
2 tsp. Vanilla 
3 1/2 C. Soft Whole Wheat Flour (aka Whole Wheat Pastry Flour) 
1 Tbsp. Baking Powder 
1 tsp. Baking Soda 
1 tsp. Sea Salt 
1 tsp. Ginger 
1 C. Buttermilk 
5 large Bananas, pureed or very well mashed (approx 2 1/2 - 3 cups) 
1 bag Cinnamon Chips, chopped*** 

Line two regular size muffin tins with cupcake papers. Grease a mini loaf pan as well for any left over batter. 

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs, mixing after each addition. Add dry ingredients, and pour buttermilk over the top. Mix until well combined. Mash the bananas and add them, mixing well. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out nearly clean with only a few little crumbs attached 

Alternately, this can be made into 5 mini loaves. Bake for 45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out nearly clean with only a few little crumbs attached. 

*I am contemplating replacing half the butter with a 1/2 cup of applesauce to increase the nutrition value, but I haven't done it yet. I may or may not try it, because I really like these just they way they are. If you try it, let me know how it turns out. 

**I found Omega-3 fortified eggs marked down at Fry's, and used those. 

***Albertson's is the only grocery store that I have found that carries Cinnamon Chips. They are right next to the regular chocolate chips. I would highly recommend chopping them into smaller pieces, otherwise they sink to the bottom of each muffin. If you find Mini Cinnamon Chips, they would probably work better, but I am not willing to pay the exorbitant amount to special order them. 

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Applesauce - in the Crockpot

After getting free, organic apples on two separate occasions over the last two weeks, I decided to make applesauce. 

Applesauce in the Crockpot

Brown Sugar
Water - just a little bit

Peel and core apples. Fill the Crockpot half way, and add some brown sugar and cinnamon. Finish adding apples until the Crockpot is nearly full, and add a little more cinnamon and brown sugar depending on your tastes. Toss everything together as much as you can (easier said than done), and add just a little bit of water to get things started. Cook on LOW for 5-6 hours. Puree the apples in either the blender of food processor. You can can the applesauce, but I just froze it after refrigerating it to get cold because we go through it really fast, and it wasn't worth the effort of canning for only 4 quarts.