Brown Butter Honey Ice Cream in Milk Toast Bowls

Japenese Milk Bread Bowl with Brown Butter Ice Cream
This recipe is insane.  What’s more insane than each component is the sum of its parts.  Matt saw a recipe for Japanese Brick Toast a few weeks ago and I had seen a similar recipe on Pinterest that looked downright heavenly.  He said in Japan they put ice cream with buttery toasted sweet bread as a dessert (…which is doubtful – I’ve seen Japanese people.  They don’t look like they eat ice cream in bread bowls).  Why has no one thought of doing a bread bowl for ICE CREAM?!  It’s genius.  The bread soaks up the melted ice cream and you’re left with this spongy cake-like texture when you get to eating the bread part.  This dessert demands to be shared.  Because if you don’t share it, you’ll feel like a dadgum glutton.  I mean, LOOK at that thing!

For the ice cream, we look no further than Jenni’s Splendid Ice Creams.  I posted about her Brown Butter Almond Brittle ice cream last year.  I’m a broken record when it comes to browned butter.  I can’t help it.  We began making ice cream out of her book about four years ago and haven’t even wasted our time with a different method.  She’s perfected the texture of homemade ice cream, in my opinion.  So for this recipe, I used her browned butter ice cream base and added honey and vanilla bean paste.  It was perfect in our little ice cream bowl.  The bread deserves a post of its own and don’t you worry – we’ll blog about it, soon.  Matt loves it too much and loved the process too much to only make it once.  He can’t wait to try it, again.  For now, enjoy a truly amazing bowl of browned butter ice cream:

Milk Toast with Brown Butter Ice Cream, Bananas and Honey

Browned Butter and Honey Ice Cream

for the base:
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1.5 oz (3 tbs) softened cream cheese
1/8 tsp fine sea salt (I use kosher)
3/4 lb unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbs light corn syrup
1 tbs vanilla bean paste

Raw honey to fold into the ice cream

 

Mix about 2 tbs of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.  Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a large bowl until smooth.  Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a 4 quart saucepan.  Bring to a boil and let bubble until the foam starts to subside and the butter is a rich dark brown (not black!).  Remove from the heat and let stand until the butter solids settle to the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes.

Pour the clear butter oil into a storage container (once it solidifies you can use it as you normally would for cooking so it’s not a waste!) As you get closer to the butter solids in the bottom of the pan, use a teaspoon to remove as much liquid butter as you can.  You should have about 1 tablespoon of brown butter solids and a little bit of melted fat in the bottom of the pan (it’s impossible to remove all the fat).

Add the remaining milk, cream, sugar, vanilla bean paste and corn syrup to the butter solids, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat and boil for 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry (you’ll need to stir it up again as it will settle and solidify some).  Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula or whisk, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat.

Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth.  Pour the mixture into a 1 gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath.  Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister of your ice cream maker and spin until thick and creamy.  Pack the ice cream into a storage container, folding in drizzles of raw honey as you go.  Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface of the ice cream (this is important to avoid freezer burn and maintain a good consistency) and seal with an airtight lid.  Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

Layer ice cream with sliced bananas and serve in boring porcelain bowls, or sweet bread bowls.  It’s up to you.  🙂  (recipe for bread bowls coming soon!)

 

Triple Layer Coconut Cake

Thomas Keller's Coconut Cake
Amazingly dense, rich, saturated with coconut flavor with a light, fluffy, creamy frosting that only compliments and doesn’t overpower the rich, dense and super-moist cake.  Yes, of course, this was the best coconut cake we’ve ever had.  And why, is that? Because it’s Thomas Keller’s recipe, and as anyone who has ever heard of or seen one of his cookbooks will know, everything he touches is gold.  This recipe, however, is not found in any of his cookbooks, but was featured in an article on Saveur magazine online.  It was a recipe that took him back to his childhood, to having a cake very similar to this in a small town diner.  We had this recipe bookmarked for months and finally gave it a go.  While you can tell from the pictures that my layering techniques leave something to be desired, the flavors were amazing.  Spot on.  I even took it to a picnic in 80 degree weather and it held up (barely).  This cake needs to be chilled the adequate time recommended, for sure.  Even with my missteps and imperfect execution, it was one of the best cakes I’ve had in years.

Go forth!  Be bold!  Make this cake!  We changed nothing – this is just one of those “I made it, so can you” kind of posts,  so I’ll simply copy the recipe for you, here!  Happy Weekend!

Keller's Coconut Cake

Triple Layer Coconut Cake

FOR THE CAKE:
Unsalted butter, for greasing
2 cups flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1½ cups sugar
eggs, separated
1¼ cup mayonnaise
¾ cup coconut milk
½ cup, plus 1 tbsp. buttermilk
2 tsp. coconut extract
2 tsp. vanilla extract

FOR THE MERINGUE:
6 egg whites
1⅔ cups sugar
3 cups sweetened shredded coconut

INSTRUCTIONS

Make the cake: Heat oven to 325°. Grease three 9″ cake pans with butter and line with parchment paper; set aside. Whisk flour, desiccated coconut, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside. Place sugar and egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment; mix until fluffy. Add mayonnaise, coconut milk, buttermilk, coconut and vanilla extracts; mix until combined. With the motor running, slowly add dry ingredients until batter forms; transfer batter to a bowl and set aside. Clean stand mixer bowl and add egg whites; replace paddle with whisk attachment. Whip whites until soft peaks form; fold into cake batter. Divide batter between prepared pans, smoothing tops with a rubber spatula; drop pans lightly on a counter to expel large air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cakes cool for 20 minutes in pans; invert onto wire racks and let cool.Make the meringue: Using an electric hand mixer, beat egg whites in a bowl until medium-stiff peaks form, 5–7 minutes; set aside. Bring sugar and ¼ cup water to a boil in a 2-qt. sauce pan fitted with a candy thermometer; cook, without stirring, until temperature reaches 250°, 4–5 minutes. With the mixer on low, slowly drizzle hot syrup into egg whites until combined. Increase speed to high; beat until meringue forms stiff peaks, about 3 minutes more.

Assemble the cake: Place one cake layer on a cake stand and spread 3 cups meringue over cake; sprinkle with ¼ cup coconut. Repeat with second layer. Place remaining layer on top; cover top and sides with remaining meringue and cover outside of cake with remaining coconut, pressing lightly to adhere. Chill cake 30 minutes to firm meringue; serve chilled or at room temperature.

copied from Saveur 
Coconut Cake

Baking Challenge: Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread
I love a good challenge.  And Joy the Baker gave everyone a wonderful one!  She teamed up with King Arthur Flour (our favorite flour to use and the one Matt uses for all his bread) to create a baking challenge using four different flours from King Arthur’s extensive selection.  Go here to see the contest rules for yourself and be sure and watch the video – it’s so inspirational!  She makes everything look so easy 🙂

Matt chose two and I chose two – a true Family Meal collaboration!  He went first with the Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread.  It really didn’t seem that difficult for him and the recipe seems pretty forgiving.  I think no matter what your dough looks like when you put it in the pan raw, it’s going to bake up beautifully.  We brought this to our church class this morning and it tasted like one huge cinnamon roll filled with fruit.  In fact, I think if I were to redo this recipe, I would make them into berry cinnamon rolls with an orange icing.  Okay…that sounds awesome.  You heard it here first, folks.  That’s gonna happen.

Go take this challenge and have fun!  Post your pics on Instagram with the hashtag, “#bakingbootcamp”  and enjoy the process!

Triple Berry Bread Uncooked Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Click here for the very helpful recipe with photo tutorials!

 

Baked Double Chocolate Doughnuts

Chocolate Donuts
King Arthur Flour announced on their Facebook page that today is National Doughnut Day.  I was set up to post about a healthy snack today, but I was derailed by their incredible photos of this dark chocolate baked doughnut. I really hate frying things – not for any noble health reasons, but because I fright easily from splattering lava hot grease.  So these baked donuts were calling my name!  In the debate of cake vs raised doughnuts, I’m a cake gal.  I love the dense texture with the slightly crispy outside.  These baked doughnuts come mighty close to mimicking a fried cake doughnut and they were so easy to make!  I had fun with the different icings, too.  In the lineup were:

Espresso Double Chocolate Donuts
Espresso Glazed!  I don’t ever think I could pass up the coffee/chocolate combination if I tried, so I had to do this one.  My favorite, though, was…

Chocolate Chunk Donuts with Peanut Butter Frosting
Peanut Butter Frosted!  Thick, creamy peanut buttery frosting on a double chocolate doughnut?  Well, if you insist.  And then, my wildcard was inspired by Olivia the Pig’s favorite ice cream flavor, cherry chocolate chunk (my little girl watches one single episode all. the. time.) So I made cherry almond!  Because me and almond go way back…

Cherry Almond Chocolate Chunk Donuts
This was a super fun derailment and I hope you all enjoy some crave-worthy doughnut photos!  And try this super easy baked doughnut recipe!  I’ll add my frosting variations below!

Double Chocolate Baked Doughnuts*
makes 12-14 doughnuts

2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of cayenne
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons vinegar, white or cider
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the wells of two standard doughnut pans. If you don’t have two pans, simply bake the batter in two batches. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, espresso powder, cinnamon, cayenne, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips. Set aside.  (I added those other flavors because I’m addicted to Mexican chocolate).  In a large measuring cup or medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and vinegar.

Add the wet ingredients, along with the vegetable oil, to the dry ingredients, stirring to blend; there’s no need to beat the batter, just make sure everything is well-combined.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s), filling them between 3/4 and full.
Bake the doughnuts for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.  Remove the doughnuts from the oven, and after 30 seconds or so, loosen their edges, turn the pan upside down over a rack, and gently let the doughnuts fall onto the rack.

*adapted from this recipe on King Arthur Flour

For the icings:

I filled three bowls with 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar each.  Then, I added 2-3 tablespoons of boiling water to each, whisking until smooth.

For the Peanut Butter Frosting:
To the sugar, I added 2 more tablespoons of boiling water and 2 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter.  I also added a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste because I have to add it to everything, and a pinch of salt.  Whisk until smooth.  If too thick, add more water.  If too thin, add more peanut butter.  You can’t lose.

For the Espresso Icing:
To the sugar, I added a teaspoon of espresso powder, a teaspoon of cocoa powder, a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste and whisked until smooth.  Thin out with more water if desired.

For the Cherry Almond Icing:
To the sugar, I added 2 tablespoons of boiling water to about 1/3 cup cherry preserves and whisked until smooth.  I added vanilla, a teaspoon of almond extract and a couple pinches of salt because it was just solid sweetness at first.

Let the doughnuts cool completely before dunking them halfway into the icing of your choice.  Enjoy!

 

Blueberry Granola and Cinnamon Vanilla Yogurt Parfaits

Blueberry Granola and Cinnamon Yogurt Parfaits Yogurt and Granola Parfaits
This is a very simple snack that you can make ahead of time and have it ready to pull out of the fridge at any time during the week!  I had some blueberries in the freezer that needed to be used and so I created a soft granola that could be good cut into bars, or crumbled up like I did here, to add to yogurt, cereal, ice cream, whatever!  I love these little jam jar parfaits – I used the small 4 oz. size for Olive and used the bigger 6 oz. size for us big kids.  Layered with plain, rich Greek yogurt that I mixed with some cinnamon and vanilla bean paste – these are ready for my fridge and ready for a week of snack time, pregnancy cravings or a quick breakfast!

Sweetening plain yogurt with cinnamon and vanilla bean paste (which is slightly sweet) adds enough sweetness without adding several teaspoons of honey or sugar, like we all feel compelled to do with plain yogurt.  You’re getting plenty of sugar from granola (never let anyone tell you granola is a diet food) and so there’s no need to add even more by buying a pre-sweetened yogurt (which can have over 20 grams of sugar in each serving!) This recipe makes a really large batch of granola that’ll last you a while and I hope you enjoy the smell of your entire house while you make it!

blueberry granola parfaits

Blueberry Granola Parfaits
makes about 3 cups of granola

2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup steel cut oats
1 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 TBS cinnamon
1 TBS vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup honey
1 stick melted butter
1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1/2 cup dried currants, raisins, whatever you like

In a large mixing bowl, combine the rolled oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda and cinnamon.  In a medium bowl, combine the steel cut oats and 1 cup boiling water and let them soak for 20 minutes.  Drain and add to the other oat mixture.  If you don’t want to do this, simply add 2 more cups of regular rolled oats.  I liked the steel cut chewiness, but I’ve done this recipe with all rolled oats before and it works fine either way!

Add to the oat mixture the vanilla bean paste (can sub regular vanilla extract), melted butter and honey and stir well to combine everything.  Gently fold in the blueberries, currants and pecans (or any trifecta you desire).  Spread mixture out on a greased, rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Take it out and let it cool and then break it all up and spread it out on the sheet again and let it bake at 250 for about 30 more minutes until it’s all golden brown.  If you want to make granola bars, increase your first bake time to 30 minutes and let it cool completely before cutting into bars.  While it’s cooling and still hot, I’d spread some white chocolate chips over the top and let them melt and then spread them all over for a topping for your granola bars, if you’re gonna swing that way.

Cinnamon Yogurt

1 cup Greek yogurt, plain
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together and whip up until fully blended.  Layer in cute little jars with the granola and top with fresh berries for the snack pictured here!  Garnishing with mint adds a wonderful flavor addition and brightens everything up.

*this can easily be made gluten-free by substituting the flour for coconut flour and insuring that your oats are gluten free.  Check the box – a lot of brands are, nowadays!

Cinnamon Yogurt and Blueberry Granola Parfaits

The Best Peach Cobbler: Food is Healing

Peach Cobbler over Vanilla Ice Cream
I grew up in Eastern New Mexico.  Which is basically West Texas.  Which is basically the South.  Basically.  And in the South, when someone is ailing, grieving, winging it as a single parent for a week with a house full of kids, or whatever – we bring food.  The more comforting the dish, the better.

Enter: homemade peach cobbler.  The BEST peach cobbler you’ll likely ever have.

My Aunt Mary could have been my grandmother.  The oldest in a family of eight children, Aunt Mary has acted like our grandmother as far back as I can remember.  She picked me up from school, she made a few dresses for me, she always gave away the best homemade treats at Halloween and she stood in place of my own ailing grandmother when I got married.  Did the same for both my brothers’ weddings, too.  Aunt Mary also brings food.  I would guess it is her first thought when she hears of someone’s suffering.

A few years ago my dad’s 20 year-old carpentry business and production shop burned to the ground in one night.  I remember us all sitting around the dining room table a couple days later, feeling numb and really not knowing what to say or do next.  It was as if a close family member had passed away.  Aunt Mary walked in holding this still-warm peach cobbler and a pint of vanilla ice cream.  We made a bowl and after the first bite,  I felt a little bit of weight released from my shoulders as my heart sank into those amazing flavors.  It was the food-equivalent of a hug.  It could have been the emotions of the day or the fact that we all love Aunt Mary so much, but I think it was the best peach cobbler, or any cobbler, I’d ever had in my life.

When my grandpa passed away a couple weeks ago, we were sitting around the house the afternoon after his funeral and Aunt Mary called.  She said, “I was just sitting here and realized that I NEVER brought over any food!”  I smiled and said quietly to myself, “please let it be peach-” at the same time she said, “I JUST made a peach cobbler. Can I drop by?”

And the same comfort washed over us, again.  This time my uncle had the first taste and in his quiet demeanor, he just nodded and said, “That IS the best cobbler I’ve ever had.”  And he’s a farmer.  He knows his cobbler.  I sat Aunt Mary down before she could leave and told her that this time, she HAD to tell me the recipe.  So, from memory she just told me how she did it.  I love recipes like that.  She even apologized and blushed a little when she told me how much sugar. 🙂

So I want to give this comforting recipe to you.  So you can give it to someone else.  Food, sometimes, is so much more than nourishment, calories, ingredients, fast or fancy restaurants.  It can be those words you don’t know how to say or that comfort you wish you could provide but  just don’t know how.

Classic Peach Cobbler

Peach Cobbler

serves 8-10

1 stick unsalted butter
2 – 28 oz cans of sliced peaches (don’t drain.  And the ounces may vary.  Aunt Mary just said, “Not the soup-can size – the bigger one! So I guessed.)
3 cups sugar (I know.  You might eat this once a year.  It’s okay.)
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt (she told me 1/8 tsp salt, but kosher is bigger so I always double the amount if I’m using it)
1/2 cup milk

Preheat your oven to 400F.  In a 9×13 pan, melt the stick of butter in the oven.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the peaches with their syrup, two cups of sugar and let it start bubbling.  Meanwhile, mix flour and the remaining cup of sugar, baking powder and salt together in a bowl and then add the milk.

Pour the batter on top of the melted butter.  Then pour the peach mixture over the batter.  Bake about 40 minutes until the batter is a rich brown.  I’d really advise letting this cool down considerably before eating.  You’ll think there’s waaaaaay too much syrup, but it thickens upon cooling and you have this glorious syrup to pour over your ice cream. Worth it.

Peach Cobbler

Strawberry Shortcake

shortcake001
Happy Monday to you all!  In my head, we are having a glorious spring filled with the smell of honeysuckle and gentle breezes warming things to a moderate 70 degrees.  The reality is that we are in a dust bowl with winds around 50mph and gusts reaching into the 70mph zone.  Temps in the 90s already with occasional days of 30 dropped here and there to keep us nice and crazy.  I kind of forget why I’ve lived here so long.  Are the sunsets really THAT great?!

So the perfect spring in my head has lovely desserts enjoyed on front porch swings.  I can think of no prettier dessert than a strawberry shortcake.  I’m a bit picky when it comes to this dessert.  At the grocery store, they like to group items together so you’ll immediately think of a particular dish and buy every ingredient.  So, since strawberries are officially in season, you’ll see strawberries and angel food cakes set out next to each other in the produce section.

No.

Strawberry shortcake does not involve angel food cake.  Shortcake, shortbread – the “short” refers to the strands of gluten in the dough, making the final product dense and crumbly like a scone.  There’s not a lot to hold this bread together.  If you had long strands of gluten, it would make the bread chewy like bagels, pizza dough, etc.  So there’s your short lesson on shortbread.
shortcake006
For my ultimate strawberry shortcake, I took my mother’s biscuit recipe and replaced the buttermilk with heavy cream and added vanilla and a tablespoon of sugar.  I also used lard instead of shortening and I absolutely think it turned out to be the BEST base for the BEST strawberry shortcake I’ve ever had.  Matt, who really would never prefer a fruity dessert over say, a chocolate one, commented a FEW times on how good it was (he is not generous with his exclamations).  My dad, who got to share this dessert with us and who IS generous with exclamations, was reduced to a silent appreciation while he ate.  It will change your very nature, it’s so good.

I’m generous with dramatic statements.

So try it out – I’ll give you the quick recipe for every component but the shortcake was the star.  Take advantage of strawberry season and those glorious, $2 huge containers while you can.  And if they are beginning to look like they’re going to go bad, chop them up, drizzle some sugar and lemon juice on them and in a day you’ll have the perfect strawberry concoction to use for this recipe!
shortcake008
The Best Strawberry Shortcake

For the shortcake:

2 cups flour
1 TBS baking powder
1 TBS sugar
1/2 TBS salt
1/2 cup lard or shortening
1 cup heavy cream
1 TBS vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients and then cut the lard in with a fork or with your hands until it resembles coarse, crumbly sand.  Mix in the cream and vanilla until the dough holds together when pressed between two fingers.  If it’s still pretty crumbly, even after kneading it in the bowl a couple times, add a splash or two more.  By not weighing the flour, you may end up with more or less flour than I did.  I should have weighed it.  Apologies.
On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough a few times, form into a ball and roll out into about a 1/2″ disk and cut out rounds with a biscuit cutter.  Place on a greased cookie sheet and brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter.  Sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

To assemble: Cut a cake in half, pour plenty of strawberry/strawberry juice on top so it soaks into the cake.  Top with a generous dollop of strawberry whipped cream and drizzle more strawberry juice on top and serve.  Recipes for those other components below:

shortcake004
For the strawberry whipped cream:

1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons of strawberry juice (from your macerated strawberries)
1 or 2 strawberries from the same concoction

In a large cup with an immersion blender or in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the heavy cream, strawberries and juice and blend until thick and creamy.

shortcake003
For the strawberries:

1 lb strawberries, sliced thin
1/4 cup sugar
2 TBS lemon juice

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and let the strawberries sit at room temp for a couple hours or in the fridge over night.  Stir once – the strawberries will release juices and form a glorious syrup with the sugar and lemon juice.

 

 

 

 

Palmiers for Palm Sunday

almond palmiers
Matt suggested I make Palmier cookies for Palm Sunday to take into our church class this morning.  I love word play and an excuse to make a cookie and I hadn’t tried making them before, so I figured I’d give it a shot!  Turns out – it’s the easiest cookie to make, looks refined and tastes amazing with a cup of coffee!  I’m a big fan of keeping a box or two of puff pastry in my freezer for various recipes, and now I have a new go-to cookie to make on the fly if someone is stopping by for coffee or just because!

Palmier

Palmiers
makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies

1 box frozen puff pastry – sheets separated and thawed
1 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract

Spread a half cup of the sugar out on a clean surface evenly and lay both sheets of puff pastry out on top of the sugar.  With a rolling pin, roll the sheets a bit flatter in each direction until about an 1/8th of an inch thick. In a bowl with the remaining sugar, add the almond extract and stir with a fork until blended and the sugar resembles wet sand.  Spread the almond sugar over the surface of the puff pastry sheets.  From each end, start rolling up the pastry as you would a cinnamon roll.  It’s like rolling up a scroll!  When both sides almost meet in the middle, lay one side on top of the other, like shutting a book.  Press down slightly and lay on it’s side, cutting 1/4″ slices and placing the cookies on parchment lined baking sheets.
photo 1
(bad pic, but you get the visual)

It’s important to line your baking sheets with something because the sugar needs to caramelize to make these cookies what they are and you may have a hard time getting them off the sheets unless they are lined.

Bake cookies in a 450 degree oven for 6 minutes.  After 6 minutes, flip one and if it’s golden on the under side, flip them all and bake for another 5-6 minutes.  If they aren’t browned, yet, leave them in the oven for another 2-3 minutes.  You’re aiming for a good, golden caramelization on each side and each oven bakes different, so you may need to rotate your pans during the baking process.

Let the cookies cool completely before serving.  Have fun with the filling.  You could add lemon zest, orange zest, jam, vanilla – whatever you want to the sugar on the inside of the cookies.  Have fun with it!

Palmiers
riding in the car on the way to church this morning 🙂

The Ultimate Dark Chocolate Brownies

The Ultimate Brownie
Just look at them.  Super dense.  Fudgy.  Chewy.  Crisp around the very edges and topped with a square of caramel chocolate so it oozes out when it’s cut.  Simply put: the best brownies you will ever eat.

The Bread Man made these a few years ago when we decided to host a Brownie Battle and invite about 20 of our friends to all bring brownies to taste test and enter into the competition for the Golden Whisk.  Yes, there was a golden whisk trophy.  We are serious about our food battles.  Matt baked these brownies and topped his with dark chocolate toffee bars, which is his favorite combination.  They tied up with another contender for Best Traditional Brownie out of about 20 pans of brownies!  When I went to make them last week, I bought Ghiradelli bars – the individually wrapped ones.  And I bought sea salt caramel (as seen pictured) and sea salt soiree with almonds to place on top of the batter.  Check it out, sinking down into the glossy batter…
Ultimate Brownies
This recipe is super simple and I nearly have it memorized.  We’ve adapted it from a stunning UK recipe and put it in slightly easier steps and terms for everyone.  I hope you make these soon.  If for nothing else than to cry with happiness.  It’ll happen.  And be creative with the type of chocolate bars you put on top!  There’s so many to choose from!  I thought if I were in the mood, a dark chocolate mint bar on top would be good.  Or dark chocolate and strawberry!  The fun thing about going with the individually wrapped bars is that it’s instant perfect portioning for cutting!  Have fun and let me know how you like them!

The Ultimate Dark Chocolate Brownie

The Ultimate Dark Chocolate Brownies
makes about 16 depending on how to slice it 😉

8 oz unsalted butter
8 oz dark chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli 60%)
10 oz superfine sugar (I used Baker’s Sugar)
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
pinch of salt
5 oz cake flour
Your favorite chocolate bars for topping (I used these two kinds)

Preheat your oven to 400F.

In a double boiler (or a medium saucepan over low heat filled a couple inches up with water with a big heatproof glass bowl setting on top) melt the butter and chocolate together and stir with a rubber spatula until completely incorporated.  Gently stream in the sugar and whisk constantly until fully incorporated and smooth.  Whisk in the vanilla.  In a separate bowl, crack your eggs and lightly whip them up with a pinch of salt.  Take the bowl off the double boiler (if you haven’t already) and whisk in the eggs until smooth and then add the flour in two batches, stirring well to smooth out as many lumps as possible.

Line a 9×13″ pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Pour the brownie batter in the pan and smooth out the surface.  Dot the entire surface with chocolate bars and bake for 20 minutes.  It’s not going to look done, but take that sucker OUT and let it cool COMPLETELY before cutting.  Restrain yourself.  Plan ahead.  Gently lift the foil out of the pan and place the sheet of brownies on a cutting board and cut into squares.  Enjoy your life more than you ever have before. You’re welcome.

Double Dark Chocolate Brownies

 

Homemade Sweet, White Sandwich Bread

Two Loaves of Sweet, White Sandwich Bread Sandwich Bread
This is home.  To smell this bread baking is to realize that everything is going to be alright. One of the blessings of being married to The Bread Man is that he bakes stuff like this.  He started baking this bread a few months ago. The recipe makes two loaves at a time and we can blaze through both in a week.  Perhaps we shouldn’t and in a better world, I’d give a loaf away.  But it makes the perfect toast in the morning, the perfect grilled cheese sandwich at lunch, the perfect cinnamon toast for a snack in the afternoon and the perfect toast with jam for dessert after dinner.  No, we don’t do all those things in one day.  I’m just telling you that you will NEVER tire of this bread.  It stays fresh for so long AND, unlike most homemade breads, this stuff doesn’t get mold for more than a week – on the counter!  It’s perfect.  Sweet, smooth, silky inner texture and a perfectly crisp crust when toasted – not too thick, not too thin.  Your kids won’t even tear off the crust.

Homemade Sandwich Bread
You can see my lack of restraint that in the thirty seconds it took me to cut the slice to put the slices in the toaster, I bit the corner of that cinnamon/sugar slice.  I could NOT help it.  You’ll see why.  This bread is what’s good about being a kid, again.  This bread sings of wholesome goodness and peace and harmony.

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I may be going too far.  Just try it out. And start it the night before you want it because I don’t want you to get all fussy when you see that it has to rise in your fridge for 8 hours.  Suck it up – it’s worth it.

Sandwich Loaf

Homemade Sandwich Bread*
makes two, 8″ loaves

9 grams (1 tbs) instant yeast
425 grams (1 3/4 cups, plus 2 tbs) lukewarm whole milk
794 grams (6 1/4 cups) unbleached bread flour
14 grams (2 tsp) salt
78 grams (5 1/2 tbs) sugar
85 grams (6 tbs) vegetable oil or melted, unsalted butter
1 egg (50 grams)

Do Ahead:

Whisk the yeast into the lukewarm milk until dissolved.  Set aside for 1 to 5 minutes.  Combine the flour, salt, sugar, oil, and egg in a mixing bowl, then pour in the milk mixture.  If using a mixer, use the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest speed for 2 minutes.  If mixing by hand (go you) use a large spoon and stir for about 2 minutes.  The dough should be coarse and slightly sticky.

Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed for 4 to 5 minutes, or knead by hand on a lightly floured work surface for 4 to 5 minutes, until the dough is soft, supple, and tacky but not sticky.

Whichever mixing method you use, knead the dough by hand for 1 minute, then form it into a ball. Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight or for up to 4 days. (You can bake the dough in batches over different days if you want and portion the dough into two or more oiled bowls at this stage.)

On Baking Day:

Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 2 1/2 hours before you plan to bake and divide it in half; each piece should weigh about 25 ounces (709 g) which is perfect for 4 1/2 x 8 inch loaf pans.  For a 5 x 9 inch pan, use 28 to 32 ounces of dough.  Shape into sandwich loaves (read method below), then place them in greased loaf pans to rise. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover the pans loosely with plastic wrap or a towel; then let the dough rise at room temperature for about 2 1/2 hours or longer, until it domes about 1 inch above the rims of the pans.

About 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350F.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate the pans and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes.  The bread is done when the top is a rich, golden brown, the sides are firm and the loaf sounds hollow if tapped on the bottom and the internal temperature is at least 185F in the center.

Remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.  I DID exercise restraint, here.  If you cut into them too early, you’ll have gummy bread.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

* from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day – we love him

 

Shaping the Sandwich Loaves for baking:

To shape a sandwich loaf, flatten the dough into a 5 by 8 inch rectangle.  Working from the 5 inch side of the dough, roll up the length of the dough (like a fat cinnamon roll).  Pinch the final seam closed using your fingertips or the back edge of your hand.  Gently rock the loaf to even it out.  Don’t taper the ends; keep the top surface of the loaf even.  Place the loaf in a greased pan, seam side down, cover, and proof.