To Nutella Cookies

One’s consumption of Nutella is directly proportional to whether or not they are/or have studied abroad. It becomes many people’s replacement for the less than lacking availability of good peanut butter.  In the US you have the easy peanut butter cookie … Continue reading

To Chocolate Yogurt Bundt Cake

My second bundt in Turkey! Woot! Let me just say that the apartment smells like heaven. Who doesn’t like chocolate?!?!?! – don’t answer that. I am a chocoholic – honestly. If I get a chocolate craving it may take days for it to pass. I just cant kick it sometimes. This is the end of my chocolate craving – this baby just wanted to be made.

Instagram photo!

I knew I wanted to do something with chocolate and the massive yogurt container in the fridge inspired my second ingredient. Really – a huge container (2 kg +) is a staple in most if not all Turkish homes. Even better it is plain so perfect and much healthier to cook/bake with than its evil twin of sour cream (which I don’t think I could even buy here if I wanted to). May look next time I am in the store.

Anywho – this cake was super moist and definitely hit the spot. It was Harika (wonderful)! With a short ingredient list and short directions the hardest part about it is waiting for it to actually bake (and the most nerve-racking since the oven I have to work with has a personality of its own) and then cool off.

You can jazz it up any which way your little heart tummy desires – nuts, fruit, glaze, or just plain and simple powdered sugar – the route I took. I specifically chose the later because my mom makes a too die for chocolate bundt that she tops only with powdered sugar. Granted I should have just asked her for the recipe (wink wink madre), but a little thing called an 8 hr. time difference stood in my way. I should have been more on top of things and asked for it earlier – maalasef (oh well – unfortunately).

If you want to make your host family smile – or if you want to smile than just make this bundt cake – NOW!

Post a nice dinner with the host family we had a wonderful dessert session – ohhh how I love dessert sessions. In addition to the cake we had in season fruit – the wonderful cherries and then my little yellow/green friends – can’t remember what they are called – mission of the day. The host daughter had two slices so I think it is safe to say that the cake will be eaten in no time.

Another instagram – view from the top

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

2/3 cup dutch process cocoa

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda (1 european package of baking soda)

1/2 cup margarine, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt (Turkish yogurt)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (1 european package of vanilla sugar)

Directions:

Grease a bundt pan – be sure to get all of the crevices – I used olive oil

Sift 2 C flour and 2/3 C of cocoa together with the baking soda , set aside.

In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar.

Beat in the eggs.

Add the flour mixture alternately with the yogurt in two parts. Do not over mix. Stir in the vanilla.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in a 350 oven for 45-55 minutes, until a tester inserted comes out clean. (This is an approximate for temps since I am working with notches – but be sure to keep an eye on it)

Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a rack to cool completely

Dust with powdered sugar and serve – fruit makes it grand! Just saying.

My sister made this bundt for the 4th of July – I want it – I want it ALL!

Bundts are totally coming back into fashion – they are the hit thing these days ya know?!?!

Cheers to baking abroad and dessert sessions with host families

n

To S’mores Brownies

Today was 80 degrees! 80 DEGREES! That is pretty much unheard of in mid-March in Illinois. It truly feels like I go to school with 40,000+ because there are people everywhere. Nothing brings people out of winter hibernation like warm weather and sunshine. Add that with the week before spring break and you have the perfect equation for a stir frenzy.

Yesterday I was tired – mentally and physically fatigued. Today, I felt like a new being and was inspired to bake, but not that inspired – I relied on my stashed box of Ghirardelli Brownie Mix – call me a brownie snob – so be it.

Brownies are the one thing that I still have no shame in making from a box (and Ghirardelli knows what’s up). Put a cool topping on them and well you have magic baking up in your oven.

I took some to my friend b since she has to teach two classes tomorrow and take a mid-term so I felt she needed a social visit and a pick me up.

So there I was walking to her apartment with containers of brownies and a half gallon of soy milk – I definitely got a few crazy looks – but you can’t eat a brownie without a glass of milk.

The brownies were so good that my friend said “I’d date you” for personally delivered baked goods.

So impress…with minimal effort

Ingredients:

Box of Brownie Mix

1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

4 graham crackers, broken into small pieces

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat temperature according to the brownie mix.

Lightly grease a 9×9 pan and set aside.

Mix up the brownie mix according to the box and pour into your prepared pan.

Bake according to directions or until they pass the toothpick test.

Pull from oven and switch to broil.

Sprinkle the brownies with the marshmallows and then the graham crackers.

Put in the oven until the marshmallows start to puff up – for me it was about 3 and a half mins with me checking on them every 10-15 secs (I left them on the middle rack).

Pull from oven, sprinkle with the chocolate chips and let cool for a good half hour – the longer you let them cool the easier they will be to cut (and the more melty the chocolate will get).

The result sticky deliciousness that your friends will love you for.

Another thing that is great for impressing with minimal effort – instagram!

Cheers

n

To Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

It’s March meaning green, rainbow-y Irish things are just gonna start flooding the internet. Including tons of recipes with the water of Ireland – aka Guinness

Perfectly drafted at the Guinness Factory

Such a festive time that I love because it gives me an excuse to bake. Now yesterday was Unofficial on my college campus which is always the first Friday in March to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day since the Official holiday always falls during spring break. Yesterday the campus scene was tons of people clad in green specially made Unofficial shirts with lots of decorative accessories like Leprechaun hats and green beads. It’s pretty much a monochromatic type of day, with the sole emphasis on green. Complete with the bars serving green beer and a bagpipe player providing us some great traditional tunes – what a treat.

So have some Irish cheer and wow people with these cupcakes that will have them speaking in Irish accents…maybe (:

I do know that I loathed Guinness until I went to the Guinness factory in Dublin and my world was changed –

 

The dark hue of the beer turned me off before, but after being sleep deprived from a 10 day back-packing trip through the lands of the cool accents (England, Scotland, Ireland), finishing my free Guinness in the Gravity Bar at the end of my factory tour felt like the greatest achievement in the world

and then that was quickly replaced with racing across Dublin (quite tipsy mind you) to Trinity College in hopes of seeing the Great Book of Celts and getting in for FREE because it was about to close! I call that success and my backpacking partner agrees whole-heartedly, we still double over with laughter when remembering our Irish shenanigans.

But you came here for a cupcake recipe, my bad. Start Delicious-ness NOW!

Recipe taken from Brown Eyed Baker, one of my favorite baking blogs

Ingredients:

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Prep Time: 40 minutes | Bake Time: 17 minutes

Cupcakes:
1 cup Guinness stout (I used Draught and it worked great)
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoons salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream (I replaced with a Very Vanilla Yoplait Yogurt)

Whiskey Ganache:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Irish whiskey

Baileys Frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream

(I went light on the frosting – halved what the recipe called for – next time I think I would do 1 1/2 cups butter, 4-4 1/2 cups powdered sugar and 4-5 Tbsp. Bailey’s – because I think the full recipe would be too much frosting)

1. To Make the Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring the Guinness and butter to a simmer in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl to combine. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until combined. Add the Guinness-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and beat briefly. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until completely combined. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners. Bake until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on a rack.

3. To Make the Whiskey Ganache Filling: Finely chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then, using a rubber spatula, stir it from the center outward until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined. Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped

note: (mine didn’t thicken up much until I put it in the cupcakes)

4. To Fill the Cupcakes: Using a 1-inch round cookie cutter (or the bottom of a large decorating tip, or an apple corer), cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes, going about two-thirds of the way down. Transfer the ganache to a piping back with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

5. To Make the Baileys Frosting: Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar until all of it is incorporated. Add the Baileys, increase the speed to medium-high and whip for another 2 to 3 minutes, until it is light and fluffy.

6. Using your favorite decorating tip, or an offset spatula, frost the cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Store the cupcakes in an airtight container.

These were splendid and a definite crowd pleaser – and they stayed moist (most important part about a cupcake)

Did I mention that I made these in the wee hours of the morning (1am and I am tots an 11pm bedtime get up at 6/7am kinda gal) I think I will only resort to late night baking when necessary – don’t want my roomies hating me for banging pots and pans around!

Cheers to a delightful March

n

To Samoas Bars

Who needs Girl Scouts when you can take the skills you learned as little brownie and daisy and put them to good use by making your own Girl Scout-ish treats?

This are quite delicious and are pretty easy to throw together – the toasting of the coconut makes your kitchen smile because the smell is sooooo good.

I adapted the recipe a tad from The Crepes of Wrath but overall its the same thing

Ingredients:

Cookie Base
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and/or line a 9×13-inch baking pan.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter, until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the flour and salt until the mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. The dough does not need to come together. Pour the crumbly dough into preared pan and press into an even layer, using your hands.
3. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before topping.

Topping
2 1/2 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened; I used unsweetened)
12-oz good-quality chewy caramels
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
10 – 12oz. dark or semisweet chocolate

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F while the cookie base cools. Spread the coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet and toast for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until the coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
2. Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with the milk and salt. Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a greased spatula.
3. Put dollops of the topping all over the shortbread base. Using the greased spatula (this is important so everything spreads smoothly), spread the topping into an even layer. Let topping set until cooled.
4. When cooled, cut into 30 or so bars with a large knife or a pizza cutter (I used a pizza cutter and it worked really well once I got the hang of it).
5. Once the bars are cut, melt 1 cup of the chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. Dip the base of each bar into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment or wax paper. Melt more chocolate, little by little, if needed. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt the rest) into a piping bag or a Ziploc bag with a tiny corner snipped off and the drizzle bars with chocolate to finish.
6. Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container. I recommend keeping them in the fridge.

Cheers to deliciousness anytime of the year and satisfying those cravings even when its not Girl Scout season.

n


To Vegan Samoas

It’s Girl Scout Cookie Time and while I am just like every other American out there, I love a good girl scout cookie – Samoas being my all time favorite. But how is it that so much bad can be packed into something so little??? Geeze I mean they definitely are on the “don’t eat that” list. So when I came across a vegan recipe for samoas (and don’t go calling them caramel delites) I knew I had to try them out.

Result: Pretty good – maybe too much of a molasses flavor for me – but good nonetheless. Next time maybe add some caramel sauce or something in substitute of the molasses (half it or something) But at the very least they are quick and simple, leaving you with a small batch of cookies (12 – one perfect cookie sheet) that don’t make you feel guilty about life.

Wouldn’t these be great mixed in with soy vanilla ice-cream – mmmhhmmm sounds like heaven. maybe next time…who am I kidding, definitely next time.

Ingredients: taken from Pursuit of Hippieness

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

3 tbsp water

1 tbsp vanilla

1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax soaked in 3 tbsp water)

½ cup course oat flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

2 tbsp + 1 tbsp molasses, divided

3 tbsp almond milk

a couple tbsp coconut

a couple tbsp semi-sweet chocolate

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Put the coconut and water in a food processor and grind until combined, with course flakes still intact. Add the vanilla and flax egg, and process until combined. In a separate bowl, sift together the oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the wet ingredients and mix until combined.

In a small saucepan over low heat, heat the 3 tbsp molasses gently until it begins to bubble. Let simmer for about 5 minutes, or until it really foams up completely, stirring frequently with a spatula to keep from sticking to the sides of the pan and burning. Remove from heat. Stir in almond milk rapidly until completely combined and continue stirring as it cools and thickens slightly.

Whisk the molasses mixture into the rest of the batter until completely combined. Add one more tbsp of molasses, and stir until combined.

Line a baking pan with parchment paper and drop the batter by rounded tbsp onto it (should make about 8 cookies).  Sprinkle a bit of extra coconut on each cookie and press on slightly. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until browned at the edges and firm to touch. Remove from heat and let cool for a couple of minutes before transferring the cookies carefully to a wire cooling rack over a sheet of waxed paper.

Put a couple tbsp semi-sweet chocolate (chips work fine) into a Ziploc bag and heat at 5 second increments until completely melted. Cut the corner off the bag and drizzle the chocolate over the cookies. Let harden and enjoy!

Cheers

n

To No Bake Energy Bites

This week one of the girls in my program sent me an email explaining the recipe experiment. The recipe experiment is a concept that was born so that people could share recipes with one another. Instead of just exchanging recipes with those you know, it is a way to exchange recipes with people that you don’t know. Somehow the system works so that I send a recipe to the friend of my friend, and then friends of my friends send recipes back to me. Hmmm – don’t think I was clear about it, but the point is, I received the recipe featured here and it looked great. Then this morning when gchatting with a friend, she too sent me this recipe so I officially decided that two people in one week sending me the same recipe means that I am suppose to make it – so I did.

Now I was low on coconut so decided to make a quarter of the recipe, but the full recipe is listed below (definitely doing a full batch next time)

These should be renamed bites of heaven…seriously.

Ingredients: (20-25 bites) Original Recipe

1 cup (dry) oatmeal (I used old-fashioned oats)

1 cup toasted coconut flakes

1/2 cup chocolate chips (vegan chocolate for vegan version)

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup ground flaxseed

1/3 cup honey

1 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed.  Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.  Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you would like. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Cheers

n

To Chocolate Blueberry Drops

Chocolate – good.

Fruit – good.

Chocolate + Fruit = Now you are talking my language.

I wanted something sweet, simple, chocolatey and would incorporate blueberries. Nothing is more simple than this:

Ingredients: 12 drops

1 1/2 cup chocolate (I used a combination of dark, milk and semi-sweet since I had odds and ends to use up)

1 cup blueberries

Directions:

Melt chocolate on stove top, once smooth and glistening, remove from heat and stir in the blueberries until they  are covered with chocolate.

Using a spoon scoop onto a baking sheet or slip mat. Cool in refrigerate until the chocolate has hardened.

Wait impatiently patiently for the fridge to do its thing.

Enjoy your fruit and have some chocolate too

Cheers

n