Tagged: baking

Whole-Wheat Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels

Whole-Wheat Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels
Snacking is serious business at our house. If you look in the pantry at any given time, you will usually find at least two different kinds of pretzels. From rods to twists to nuggets, my son and I are obsessed with pretzels. When we get home after school/work, our pre-dinner snacking involves pretzels and slices of cheddar. I have to be careful not to fill up on too much, or I won’t have room for the actual meal.

I am no stranger to baking soft pretzels from scratch. Classic salt is my topping of choice, but this time I tried a new recipe—cinnamon sugar whole-wheat pretzels. They weren’t overly sweet, so they were more appropriate for breakfast or an afternoon treat rather than full-on dessert. They are best eaten warm from the oven right after they have been dusted in a shower of cinnamon and granulated sugar.
Whole-Wheat Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels
Whole-Wheat Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels
Adapted from Baked Elements by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito

Makes 10 pretzels

For pretzel dough
1 packet dry active yeast
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon honey
1 cup warm water
1-1/2 cups bread flour
1-1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 ounce (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, cool but not cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons canola oil
Non-stick cooking spray
1/3 cup baking soda

For cinnamon sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the yeast, honey and water. Let stand until foamy, about 8-10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the bread flour, whole-wheat flour and salt. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the mixture until it has the consistency of coarse sand. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and beat on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium, and beat until the dough is smooth and elastic. Remove the dough from the bowl and pour in the canola oil. Place the dough back in the bowl and coat it in oil. Cover and let the dough rise until it doubles in volume, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Grease 2 sheet pans with non-stick cooking spray.

Cut the dough into 10 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 18 inches long, and then twist into a pretzel shape. Place the pretzels on the prepared sheet pans.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Carefully add the baking soda. The water will bubble and foam. Boil each pretzel, 1 minute per side. Remove with a spatula and place on the sheet pans.

Bake the pretzels, one pan at a time, until they are deep golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.

For the cinnamon sugar, combine the sugar, cinnamon and salt in a shallow bowl. Brush the warm pretzels with melted butter and generously sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. The pretzels are best served the day they are baked.

Peanut Butter Brownies

Peanut Butter Brownies
Pi Day (3/14) was earlier this week, but I didn’t get around to baking a pie this year. Fortunately, I am lucky to spend my workdays with the most thoughtful, fun and festive colleagues. Two of them surprised the entire office with an assortment of pies—key lime, apple and s’more, to name a few. It was such a treat to have a little bite of this and that. I made sure to try everything.

A peanut butter pie stole my heart with its silky filling and berry jam top, but I couldn’t help dreaming of chocolate instead of fruit. That magical combination will always be my number 1. I baked a batch of peanut butter brownies that were so good I couldn’t stop myself from devouring a square while making dinner. Don’t worry, my child did not witness me indulging in dessert before the meal.
Peanut Butter Brownies
Peanut Butter Brownies

Adapted from Food & Wine December 2007 and Martha Stewart Living February 2004

Makes 16 brownies

For brownie batter
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed, plus more for pan
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

For peanut butter swirl
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly butter a foil-lined 9-inch square baking pan.

For the brownie batter, melt the butter and chocolate in a large saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add the cocoa powder, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract thoroughly mixing after each addition. Gently fold in the flour.

For the peanut butter swirl, stir together the butter, confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, salt and vanilla extract in a small bowl.

Spread one-third of the chocolate batter in the bottom of  the prepared baking pan. Spoon tablespoon-sized dollops of the peanut mixture about 1 inch apart in the pan. Spoon the remaining brownie batter around the peanut butter. Gently drag a butter knife through the batter both lengthwise and crosswise to make swirls. Tap the bottom of the pan on a counter to smooth out the batter into an even layer.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a bit of batter.  Cool and cut into 16 squares.

Store in an airtight container.

Bittersweet Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake

Bittersweet Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake
Ever since I dusted off my mini bundt pan for Valentine’s Day baking, I’ve been on a bundt kick. I even donated the fleur de lis decorated pan I had for over 10 years, so I could replace it with a more streamlined geometric design that’s more in line with my current style. Of course there was nothing wrong with the old pan, but I treated myself using a gift card to one of my favorite cooking stores.

To break in my new pan I baked this bittersweet chocolate stout bundt cake. The original recipe called for coffee, but I swapped it out for a micro-brewed milk stout since St. Patrick’s Day is coming up. I made an irresistibly rich ganache to top it off. It was so wonderfully thick that I ended up using an offset spatula to help push it into the deep ripples circling the cake. Each bite was pure bliss.
Bittersweet Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake
Bittersweet Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Serves 10-12

Non-stick cooking spray
1 cup stout beer
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
2/3 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10-12 cup bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the beer, butter and cocoa powder. Once the butter has melted, stir the mixture together and remove from the heat. Let stand for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour. Stir the chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vanilla, eggs and yogurt. Fold into the chocolate batter. Transfer to the prepared pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes before turning the pan over onto a cooling rack. Wait another 5 minutes before removing the pan.

Cool the cake completely before making the icing. Place the chopped chocolate into a small bowl. Heat the heavy cream over medium heat until it is bubbling around the edges. Pour the cream over the chocolate. Let stand for a minute before gently whisking until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Spoon the icing over the top of the cake.

Store in an airtight container.

Whole-Wheat Cranberry Orange Pistachio Muffins

Whole-Wheat Cranberry Orange Pistachio Muffins
I am feeling the March blues in the kitchen, or maybe I should call it cook’s block. The streak of unusually warm weather has been kind of a tease. I’ve hung up my puffy coat in favor of my light jacket, but everything outside is still brown. All the lush greens of spring veggies have not sprung, so I’m at a bit of a loss about what to make.

Lately I’ve been more inspired to bake. Feeling the need to take a break from dessert, I baked these whole-wheat cranberry orange pistachio muffins. With fall and winter flavors, these muffins were perfectly timed for the current state of seasonal limbo. The brightness of the citrus added just enough zip to keep me going until spring.
Whole-Wheat Cranberry Orange Pistachio Muffins
Whole-Wheat Cranberry Orange Pistachio Muffins

Adapted from Cooking Light March 2017

Makes 12 muffins

1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup oat bran
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 medium ripe banana mashed (about 1/2 cup)
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped unsalted pistachios

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, oat bran, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter until it turns golden, gently swirling the pan, about 90 seconds. In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, yogurt, brown sugar, vanilla extract, banana, egg, orange zest and orange juice. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients followed by the cranberries and pistachios.

Bake for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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