Chocolate Covered Cherry Trifle


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This recipe wasn’t originally meant to be a trifle.  I experimented with an idea for a recipe, and it didn’t turn out the way I planned.  But I turned my frown upside down by re-working the idea into a delicious dessert.

I started out with my favorite King Arthur Cake Pan Cake recipe. I made some mistakes and some changes to this recipe, which might have changed the end result.  I added their cake enhancer to the batter.  I am not sure if this contributed to making the cake really soft or not.  The cake enhancer is supposed to make moister cakes that stay fresh longer.  I also cut the sugar by five tablespoons in this recipe and over poured the amount of oil. All of these changes might have contributed to the change in structure.

I originally wanted to make this a poke cake.  This might also have contributed to the softness of the cake, which prevented me from serving the squares I cut in one piece. Either way, it’s still a delicious, rich and decadent cake.

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And two for tea…review of The Republic of Tea


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I posted a review the other day of The True Tea club, and how I was not really impressed with them.  I ordered a sampler of teas from The Republic of Tea, and so far, I am liking them much better.

Sampler packs are a great way to not only discover new tea, but to be sure that you like something without buying an entire box, only to discover you hate it.  I decided to get their 12 count tea bag gift sampler.  They have other sampler packs available also, so you can tailor them to your taste.

The samples came in a cute little box.  No excelsior!  The tea bags are round with no tags or staples and are easy to use.

I have tried a couple of the flavors I ordered, and so far, I really like them.  I should have looked up the ingredients list before ordering, as one of the teas contained barley malt and chicory root (I know, shame on me!).  The other teas I received checked out okay as far as dietary ingredients I need to avoid.

So far I have sampled:

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and

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Both have really nice flavors.  The banana chocolate is especially interesting and really tastes like bananas.  It is made with Rooibos tea.  The caramel vanilla has a pleasant vanilla taste and is made with black tea.  It is hard for me to find herbal teas locally that I can drink and that I like.  This is a great way to find new herbal and also decaffeinated teas.

If you are looking for a way to sample a nice variety of tea with no commitment, then the Republic of Tea is the way to go!

 

#TBT Retro recipe: Death by chocolate peanut butter brownies


 

 

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I originally posted this in August of 2015.  I have since come a very long way in gluten and dairy free baking.  I also now have to substitute sun butter for the peanut butter.

In previous blog posts, I have shared my failures and triumphs in baking. Just a couple of weeks ago I came across a recipe on the Betty Crocker website. The recipe is for gluten-free peanut butter chocolate brownies. Having eaten and loved Betty Crocker brownies the previous week I decided to try these out.

The recipe is a little time involved, but the outcome is totally worth it. I can honestly say I have never come across such a delicious dessert since I became gluten-free almost a year ago.

I did make some modifications to the recipe for dairy free. For the chocolate ganache, I used Earth balance spread and enjoy life semi-sweet chocolate chips. I have to say that enjoy life chocolate chips are absolutely amazing. You would never know that they are dairy free.

There are a few products out there that really go the extra mile to make you think that you are eating the real thing. I have mentioned some of these before in previous blog posts. The Earth balance spread truly tastes to me almost like butter. Dairy is for me the hardest thing I have had to give up. Especially when dining out and everything is slathered in butter and cheese. But that is an entirely different subject.

Here is the recipe from the Betty Crocker website:

Betty Crocker peanut butter truffle brownies
There are a couple of things you need to be aware of. When you are making the peanut butter filling make sure you sift the confectioner’s sugar. I learned this the hard way making a chocolate glaze for a cake and noticed the lumps once I poured the glaze over the cake. They are very hard lumps so be careful. I do not have a cake sifter so I used a very small sieve.  I had to sift a whole cup of confectioners’ sugar, but I lost patience rather quickly and dumped the rest into the bowl.  Fortunately, it came out OK.

Also, when making the peanut butter filling be sure to add the milk. I couldn’t figure out why the peanut butter filling wasn’t coming together. I had read the recipe but somehow missed the teaspoon of milk. I actually added a bit at a time till the filling came together smoothly. It is also important to let the brownies cool for about an hour before spreading the peanut butter filling over top or it will melt.  In fact, once I spread the filling I set the pan in the refrigerator to let it set. I also lined the pan with foil, but the brownies stuck to it. This might be because I stuck the whole pan in the refrigerator. Gluten-free baked goods get hard in the refrigerator, but because of hot weather, I did not want to leave them out. In future, I probably will remove the brownies from the pan and leave them out.

I made the ganache right in my glass measuring cup. I have had the same two Pyrex measuring cups for years. This way I was able to pour the ganache right over the brownies. Follow the directions and let the ganache cool for about 10 minutes. Also be careful not to over microwave the chocolate. Keep checking and stirring the chocolate with a whisk until smooth. The enjoy life chocolate melts just like the real thing and I can guarantee you will be licking the spatula!

I used Betty Crocker brownie mix as indicated. I was going to use Pamela’s but it has ingredients I cannot tolerate. You can use your favorite gluten-free brownie mix. Just bake according to package directions. You can, of course, make this non gluten and dairy free.

If you are a chocolate or Reece’s peanut butter cup lover you will love these brownies. Happy baking!

OMG! Chocolate Bacon Brownies


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Yes, you read that right.  The best of both worlds.  Chocolate and bacon.  You might have heard of chocolate covered bacon or candied bacon, but not bacon brownies.  I hadn’t either until I came across this recipe at King Arthur.

I have to give a word of caution here.  These brownies are NOT healthy.  They are high in salt, sugar and saturated fat.  If you have any health issues with salt or cholesterol, please be advised.  

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s proceed to the recipe.

Bacon

8 oz bacon
brown sugar to coat (if you want to “candy” the bacon)

Brownies

2/3 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup Cup for Cup flour (such as King Arthur)
1 tablespoon espresso powder, optional; for enhanced chocolate flavor
3 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil*
2 tablespoons water
*Or a combination of vegetable oil and bacon fat

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8″ square or 9″ round pan.
Spread the bacon in a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet, and sprinkle it heavily with brown sugar, to coat. You do not have to use the brown sugar

Bake the bacon for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it’s crisp but not totally browned. Remove it from the oven, and place it on a plate or parchment to cool. Don’t place it on paper towels; it’ll stick. When the bacon is cool, crumble or chop it coarsely.

To make the brownies: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugars, salt, flour, and espresso powder.

Add the eggs, oil, and water, mixing just until smooth. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, smoothing the top.

Sprinkle the candied bacon atop the brownies.

Bake the brownies for about 35 minutes (in the 8″ square pan), or 25 to 30 minutes (in the 9″ round pan). When done, a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean, or with a few damp crumbs clinging to it.
Remove the brownies from the oven, and serve warm. Or cool to room temperature and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes:

  • I did not candy the bacon.  This recipe has 2 cups of sugar in it already.  I think candying the bacon would be too much, but it’s completely up to you.
  • I made the bacon ahead and let it cool down.
  • I poured the bacon grease into a glass measuring cup, then made up the difference with grapeseed oil.  You do not have to use the bacon grease.
  • Making the bacon in the oven is a greasy mess-I would use a frying pan here if you are not candying the bacon
  • This batter is very dense.  It will take muscle to stir it.  I did not use my stand mixer but you might want to save your arm!
  • I mixed the oil, eggs, and water in a glass measuring cup, then poured that into the dry ingredients.
  • I added 1/2 tsp vanilla as I left out the espresso powder ( I can’t drink coffee).  This enhances the chocolate flavor
  • I used an 8″ square pan.  Brownies were done at 25 minutes.  Your oven may vary.

These brownies are decadent, rich, salty and very sweet.  The bacon and chocolate combo totally works.

These brownies will wow.  I guarantee it!  Please post your results if you try this recipe.

Death by chocolate banana bread


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Picture courtesy of delish.com

 

Between dealing with this upcoming trip to Hawaii (and watching for price drops on suites) and my back issues (herniated discs), I have been neglectful on writing blog posts. My apologies.  But I think this post on this decadent banana bread will more than make up for it.

A weekly abundance of bananas in our house has caused me to find recipes that will use them up in more and more creative and delicious ways.

I was going to make banana muffins but looking over recipes yesterday I decided on the death by chocolate banana bread.  I have to admit, my sweet tooth isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.  Ah well, it is what it is.

You can find the original recipe here.

Ingredients:

1/2 c. butter, melted, plus more for buttering pan
1 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring pan
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
3 super-ripe bananas, mashed

Tips:

I used the same amount of grapeseed oil, and did not flour the pan.  Really, this seems old fashioned and unnecessary to me, but if you insist, you can.  I used grape seed oil cooking spray to grease the pan. 

I used King Arthur measure for measure flour-really, this stuff is amazing!

I used regular old table salt

I made my own dairy free buttermilk by combining 1/4 cup of coconut milk with a scant teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

I used Enjoy life dairy free chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter and flour a 9-x-5″ loaf pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
In another large bowl, combine sugar, butter, buttermilk, vanilla, egg and egg yolk until smooth.

Pour wet ingredients over dry and stir until combined, then fold in chocolate chips and mashed bananas.
Transfer batter to prepared baking dish and bake until deeply golden and a toothpick comes out clean, about 60 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

Tips:

I found that not incorporating the bananas into the wet ingredients made the mixture very dry.  Once I added the bananas, it was fine, but they are not as incorporated into the bread. 

I mixed this by hand-it would have been easier in a KitchenAid mixer.  But it worked ok. 

I did bake this 60 minutes, but checked it at 55.  Your oven may vary.

I’m not sure how you would tell “golden brown” with a chocolate bread????  Bread is done when tester comes out clean and it is pulling away from the sides of the pan.  Another good test of doneness is the “smell test”.   If your baked good fills your house with a lovely scent, it’s almost done. 

I cooled the bread ten minutes, then inverted it onto a wire rack to cool.  I cut the bread in half so it would cool faster.

If you want to keep this bread or any other cake moist-cut in half and then take slices from the cut part, and push the remaining cake or bread together-this will keep air out.  I usually preslice my banana bread but I wrapped the two halves individually in plastic wrap and then stored in a zip lock bag. 

As we all know, the proof is in the tasting.  Texture is great-using the King Arthur flour is key here-I am amazed by this stuff.  This is rich and decadent-it stands up to its name!

Please comment your questions, or experience with this recipe.

Gluten free chocolate pan cake that actually tastes like cake



A couple of weeks ago, I posted that I was going to try to bake with King Arthur measure for measure flour.  Well, today I took the plunge- I made their chocolate pan cake with this flour substitute.

I have to admit I was skeptical-I have seen many cup for cup flour substitutes, and have read rave reviews on them but I tend to take them with a grain of, er salt.  Th quest for a gluten free cake that actually looks and tastes like cake is one worthy of Don Quixote himself.   Let’s face it- most gluten free baked goods leave a lot to be desired.  But when I commented on a Facebook post by King Arthur that I wished they posted mor gluten free recipes, they recommended their measure for measure flour.  So I though, what have I got to lose?

The cake recipe is a very simple one:

1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or Organic All-Purpose Flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa or natural cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vinegar, cider or white
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup cold water

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8″ square or 9″ round pan that’s at least 2″ deep. If you don’t have a 2″-deep pan in either of those sizes, use a 9″ square pan.

Traditional method: Measure all the dry ingredients into the prepared pan. Blend the ingredients together thoroughly with a fork or whisk and scoop out three holes, or indentations. Pour the vanilla into the first hole, the vinegar into the second, and the vegetable oil into the third. Take the cup of water and pour it directly over everything in the pan. Stir all the ingredients together with your fork until well blended.

Updated method: Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk the vanilla, vinegar, vegetable oil, and water in a separate bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients, stirring until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs clinging to it.

Serve the cake right from the pan; warm from the oven, it’s wonderful with a big glass of milk.

Or, once cool, frost the cake with this simple chocolate frosting: Heat 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips with 1/2 cup half & half until the chips melt. Stir until smooth, and pour/spread over the cake. For a non-dairy icing, substitute 1/3 cup cold brewed coffee (or water) for the half & half.

I used the updated method in a 9 inch square pan.  I left out the espresso powder.  I baked the cake for 30 minutes.

I had to skip the icing part- I did order Enjoy life chocolate chips but alas, thy have not arrived yet.

Th verdict-the cake is moist with a good crumb-in other words, it looks and tastes like cake!   I think I have found a really good substitute flour.  King Arthur is one of the best baking sites online,  in my opinion.  They also have a hotline you can call with any baking questions.  I have found their staff to be very knowledgable.

I will be trying other recipes with this flour.  You cannot use it for yeast breads however.  It’s best to use a dedicated gluten free mix for those.

If any of you  do decide to try out this or any other recipe using the measure for measure flour, please comment on your experience.

Update:

The cake held up well in the fridge overnight with just a short warm up in the microwave.

Ooey gooey gluten free brownies


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Sometimes you just want a brownie.   You just have to satisfy that chocolate craving.  I found a delicious, easy, gluten free brownie recipe I would like to share with you.

Here is the original recipe.

Ingredients:
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips, optional
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

I used grapeseed oil and left out the coffee ( I can’t tolerate it).  I used dairy free chocolate chips, and no walnuts (I’m allergic)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325°F.
2. Grease 9×13-inch baking pan.
3. Beat oil and sugars in large bowl until well combined.
4. Whisk in eggs until fully incorporated.
5. Mix vanilla and instant coffee in separate small bowl until coffee granules are fully dissolved.
6. Add vanilla and coffee mixture to large bowl and beat for about two minutes.
7. Stir together cocoa powder and salt in a separate bowl.
8. Add dry ingredients to batter and mix until smooth.
9. Fold in walnuts and chocolate chips.
10. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes. To check if brownies are done, insert toothpick into center of pan. If toothpick comes out clean, brownies are ready to eat!
11. Let brownies cool completely before you cut them.

I did not use my Kitchen Aid mixer for this.  I mixed the batter up in a bowl.  If I did this again, I would add the wet ingredients to the cocoa powder to avoid a cloud of chocolate puffing into the air- I would probably use the mixer.   I had a hard time incorporating the cocoa powder.  It acts just like flour in this recipe.  I just mixed the vanilla with the eggs since I didn’t use coffee.

I used an 8X8 baking pan lined with parchment.  I did not grease the parchment-it’s not necessary as it is already non-stick.

These brownies are very fudge like.  I baked these for about 35 minutes as the pan was smaller than the one called for and the batter was thicker.  I let them cool almost till completely cooled off, then cut them.  I put them into the fridge for storage.  I heated the brownie for about six seconds in the microwave just to warm it up a bit.

These are delicious.  I would definitely make these again.