By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the Wild Blueberry Association of North America and I am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.
As each New Year rolls around, I always have the best of intentions to eat healthy, get fit, and lose a bit (or a lot) of excess weight that has crept up on me. In my case, this is often accompanied by some sort of overly regimented eating plan that is unrealistic for the long haul. I diligently follow said eating plan for about a week (maybe two) and then move on to focus on an enlightened eating plan that is more about eating super healthy foods, feeling great, and limiting processed goodies. I am in that place right now, and it perfectly aligned with this fun smoothie contest that highlights one of my favorite ingredients, frozen Wild Blueberries.
I seriously always have frozen wild blueberries on hand (I usually buy Wyman’s brand at Wegmans, but have also gotten Trader Joe’s brand). I actually had two bags stashed in my freezer already. Why do I love these tiny superfoods? Let me count the ways!
I love these in smoothies, but also in baked goods. Because they are tiny, you can add them frozen into your pancakes. Muffins, waffles, etc…and they will cook quickly, but not turn your batter purple.
They have a more intense blueberry flavor than fresh berries. They taste amazing!
They have double the antioxidants of fresh berries.
They are good all year round and keep in the freezer for a very long time, with no compromise of quality.
They are small, so they blend very easily into smoothies, rather than larger chunks of frozen fruit. No need for ice!
Frozen Wild Blueberries
Not to toot my own horn, but I came up with the best smoothie EVER with these gorgeous berries! Plus it has protein, antioxidants, and probiotics. I think that because it is currently sleeting her in VA, my mind went on a much needed tropical vacation with this recipe… The taste is exotic, but easy for even children to love. I am in love with this smoothie! Here’s how to make one for yourself:
First, steep 2 hibiscus flavored herbal tea bags in 3/4 cup very hot water. The mixture will be very concentrated. Remove teabags and let cool. This step can be done ahead of time or you can add an ice cube to chill the mixture quickly.
Next, add 1-1/2 cups wild frozen blueberries to blender. Chop up one fresh mango and add it to the blender, being careful to remove the skin and pit. You could also use frozen mango in this recipe. Throw in one small container of your favorite Greek yogurt. I recommend coconut flavored yogurt, but vanilla, plain, or blueberry would also be great! Pour in your hibiscus tea concentrate, 1/2 cup of coconut milk (or your favorite milk), the zest of 1 lime plus 1 teaspoon lime juice, and blend on High until very smooth. If you like things a little sweeter, you can add a teaspoon or 2 of honey. Totally optional though- The Blueberries and mango are already sweet! Enjoy with a parasol and pretend you are on the beach….
Wild Blueberry Hibiscus Breeze Smoothie
2 herbal Hibiscus teabags
3/4 cup hot water
1-1/2 cups frozen Wild Blueberries
1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) mango chunks
1 container (4-6 ounces, depending on brand) coconut Greek yogurt
1/2 cup coconut milk
zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1-2 teaspoons honey, optional
Pour 3/4 cup boiling water into a heatproof measuring cup. Steep 2 teabags in the hot water for 3-4 minutes. Let cool completely or add an ice cube to cool quickly. Set aside.
In a large blender, combine frozen Wild Blueberries, mango, yogurt, coconut milk, Hibiscus tea, lime zest and juice, and honey (if desired). Blend on high until very smooth. Pour into 2 large glasses and enjoy immediately.
It is 2am, and I just woke up in a cold sweat thinking of crepes. It has been 2 months since I prepared these crepe-tastic visions at the World Food Championships, but they linger on my mind like a bittersweet relationship. No other dessert has ever gotten under my skin (literally and figuratively), haunting me and yet filling my heart, mind, and waistline.
You see, I worked tirelessly for 2 months testing and re-testing every aspect of these crepes. Making and eating a batch of crepes for lunch regularly, until I could barely stand it. Our assignment, if you will, was to make Orange Dessert Crepes in the first round of competition. I knew that my crepes would be up against 40-50 other teams, and I had to do something creative and beautiful and delicious to stand out. It had to be weatherproof (as we worked outdoors) and had no idea what the weather would bring. I considered temperature, wait time before serving, size of one perfect bite, ease of eating, highlighting orange as the main ingredient…scrutinizing every possible aspect of this one dessert until it was failsafe. Since the competition was at the beach, I even added a nod to the ocean with Hokusai’s “The Wave” chopsticks. It is my manifesto in Crepe form.
Kim (my sous chef) practiced timing, mastering Triple Sec Caviar using molecular gastronomy, squeezing droplets of thickened booze with a syringe, like a magical surgeon bartender. We only had an hour, and Grace (my other sous chef and niece) was simultaneously making the dessert for our second round. We were in a small area, but we had practiced, fine-tuned our movements. We were a well oiled machine. It was beautiful. I am so proud of what we made, like really, really proud. Of course, we ran into a couple of small glitches, as one does in competition, but we mostly overcame and served what I still consider a stunning representation of my vision.
Maybe I was too egotistical going in. Maybe I overthought this one, as I have a tendency to do. It has always paid off for me in the past. This may sound incredibly silly to those of you that have been to the WFC before, but I went into the awards ceremony fully expecting to be in the top ten that night after competition. They called name after name, and when some of my incredibly talented friends were called in number 9, 7, then 2nd place….I held my breath. They called number 1, and it wasn’t me. I went through the stages of denial, disbelief, anger, shock…all in a mater of seconds. I know this isn’t life and death…I do have some sense of perspective, but this was my art. I created a conceptual dish that I believed in, and I thought it tasted great as well. Maybe Alabama wasn’t ready for Matcha, or dessert Caviar….but this is what I am still wrestling with. I put my best out there, and it was crushed by other crepes that frankly were not as creative or interesting to eat as mine. Maybe they kicked my butt on flavor. I can accept that. All I can do is dust myself off and try again next year.
Thank you to Rodelle Vanilla for believing in me and my vision. I am still proud of this recipe, and I will always think of it as the one that got away. It is complicated and involves some unusual ingredients, so I don’t expect anyone to actually make it, but I am just going to leave it here as my sonnet ode to orange crepes.
Orange Matcha Poppyseed Crepe Sushi with Triple Sec Caviar
For the crepes:
1 cup whole milk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon Rodelle vanilla extract
1-1/2 tablespoons Rishi Sweet Matcha powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tablespoon orange zest, finely grated
3 tablespoons unsalted Challenge butter, melted
1 scant tablespoon poppyseed
For the macerated strawberries and kiwi filling:
16 ounces strawberries, cut into planks
1/4 cup fresh orange juice or blood orange juice
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon Rodelle vanilla
1/3 cup Triple sec
3 kiwis, cut into planks
For the sweet ginger:
I large knot of ginger, sliced paper thin (fast on mandolin)
1/4 cup blood orange juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Triple sec
For the Triple sec Caviar:
1/2 cup Triple sec
1/4 teaspoon sodium alginate
1 teaspoon calcium chloride
Orange food coloring, 2 drops
For the orange butter sauce:
1/2 cup tangerine and blood orange juice
2 tablespoons sugar
Remaining thickened Triple sec from above
3 tablespoons unsalted Challenge butter
1/2 teaspoon Rodelle vanilla
Zest and juice all oranges- 1-1 1/2 cups total. Place zest in small bowl, and juice in measuring cup. Slice ginger paper thin on small mandolin. Cut strawberries and kiwi into rectangular planks.
Combine all crepe ingredients except for Poppyseed in blender. Blend for 20-30 seconds until smooth. Transfer to separate bowl. Stir in poppyseeds. Heat crepe pan and non-stick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan lightly with non-stock spray. Ladle approximately 1/3-1/2 cup batter into pan, swirling and tilting until coated evenly. Let cook until edges just begin to brown. Flip and cook on other side for 20-30 seconds. Repeat for at least 6 crepes. Set aside crepes to cool.
To macerate strawberries, place all maceration ingredients in bowl (except for kiwi) and stir to combine, set aside.
To make the sweet ginger, place all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook on medium low for 10-15 minutes. Remove ginger from pan, dry on paper towels. Reserve a small amount of the liquid to place in sauce later while reducing (approximately 2-3 tablespoons).
To make the Caviar, combine triple sec and food coloring with sodium alginate with an immersion blender for 20-30 seconds until well combined. Set aside. Prepare water bath with calcium chloride, and separate bath with bottled water. Place a small strainer in the sodium bath. Using a syringe loaded with Triple sec mixture, make droplets in the calcium bath. Let sit for 15-30 seconds, remove to water bath. Save 1/2 Triple sec mixture for the sauce. Repeat making Caviar in batches. After draining strawberries from maceration liquid, place water washed Caviar in maceration liquid to take on a bit of the strawberry flavor.
To make sauce, in medium saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce orange juices, reserved ginger liquid, and sugar until thickened. Add thickened Cointreau left over from the Caviar. Add butter, Cointreau, and vanilla, whisking constantly until thickened. Remove to bowl to chill. Place chilled mixture in squeeze bottle.
In a mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer, beat mascarpone until creamy and smooth. Add all other mascarpone cream ingredients, except for Matcha. Beat until smooth and thick. Place remaining cream in refrigerator until ready to assemble.
Remove 1/4 cup of cream mixture and mix with Matcha powder. Place Matcha cream in ziplock bag and set aside. Snip corner.
To plate, spread each crepe with thin layer of mascarpone cream, top with macerated (drained) strawberries and kiwi in a line down one side of the crepe. Roll up as tightly as possible. Cut off ends of crepe, discard, then cut remaining crepe roll into 4 slices of sushi. Squeeze sauce on the bottom of each plate in a zigzag. Place sushi rolls on top of sauce, garnish with Caviar on top of each piece, and ginger and Matcha cream on side. Serve with chopsticks.
A lot of exciting things have been going on for me lately. I have been so busy developing secret recipes and doing some public speaking that I haven’t blogged for a while, and I do apologize, but I am about to share what I have been working on with you. I was lucky enough to qualify for The World Food Championships in Orange Beach, Alabama in the Dessert category. The World Food Championships is the largest cooking competition around, and their mission is to bring Food Sport front and center in a multi-round, multi-category live cook off. Each category narrows down to a top 10, then ultimately the #1 chef, and then the top competitors from each category compete to find an ultimate champion who wins $100,000. It is intense! Thank you so much to my sous chefs Grace and Kim, and to my sister-in-law Sherylyn for managing our time and doing Live Facebook videos for us. You guys rocked, and I couldn’t have done it without you all.
The fabulous company, Rodelle Vanilla, was kind enough to sponsor me! I can’t thank them enough for their support! They sent me a bunch of amazing products, t shirts, and a beautiful display as well for the WFC. I would love to share the wealth, so to speak, and give away some of these Rodelle products for you to try. Please go to Rodelle Vanilla on Facebook or Rodelle Vanilla on Instagram and/or Rodelle Vanilla on Twitter and Like or follow their pages for an entry into my drawing for free Rodelle goodies. I will be giving away a combination of extracts, Baking Cocoa, vanilla beans, and/or vanilla bean paste to at least 3 lucky followers. You will get 1 entry per page you “like” or follow. Just let me know how many entries you qualified for in either the comments here, or on my Facebook page hereLauren Katz. If you have never tried Rodelle, I urge you to order some of their products, because they really are top notch and make a big difference in your baked goods. Best of luck to everyone!
Now, on to my desserts! The recipe I am going to share first is near and dear to my heart. It was my “signature” dessert in the competition, but it is a twist on something I make every Thanksgiving for my family. Because my son is highly allergic to nuts, we needed an alternative to pecan pie. A few of my friends had mentioned that they had recipes for a “Faux Pecan Pie” (we affectionately call it “Faux-can Pie” in my house) using pretzels instead of the pecans. Well, the first time I made it, I was blown away. I actually liked it more than pecan pie, which is saying a lot, because pecans are my favorite. The recipe for that pie is at the bottom of this post, and is more beginner-friendly than my WFC tarts. I also want to mention that I really enjoyed working with Challenge Butter for all of my WFC recipes, as they were a sponsor of the dessert category. This is some great butter to work with, and will be my brand from now on! It is high quality, super creamy, and free of additives.
So for the competition, I decided to turn the Faux-can pie into individual tarts, substitute a shortbread crust, and “Southern it up” a bit with Bourbon, Chocolate, and a salted Bourbon caramel. We added a lot of salt to balance the sweet, and a special whipped cream made with the addition of sour cream, brown sugar, Bourbon, and vanilla bean paste to give a slight sour twang to the recipe. You definitely don’t have to make all of the components. Just the tarts are fabulous with some vanilla ice cream. Just the caramel sauce is fabulous as an ice cream topping as well. The whipped cream is great on pretty much anything from pumpkin pie to apple cake. Really this is a recipe with a lot of components, but none of the pieces are difficult to make.
So, here is the recipe for approximately 7-8 tartlets. My sous chef, Grace, recommends making them in disposable muffin tins, so that you can pop them out afterwards easily. We used egg custard tart tins for the competition which are less than a dollar each at Bed Bath and Beyond. I will also include the original pie recipe below, so that you can make this for Thanksgiving with either a homemade pie crust or a store bought crust!
Black Bottom Bourbon Pretzel Shortbread Tarts with Salted Caramel and Sour Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream
makes 6-8 muffin sized individual tarts
These individual tarts are sweet, salty, creamy with just a hint of sour, and perfectly balanced with a rich Bourbon and brown sugar filling. A buttery shortbread crust envelops a hint of chocolate as well as a crunchy pretzel topping that adds the perfect salty note. This all sits atop a homemade Bourbon caramel sauce and is studded with a brown sugar sour cream and vanilla bean whipped cream.
For the shortbread crust:
1/2 cup unsalted Challenge butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Bakers joy non-stick spray
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar (granulated)
6 tablespoons unsalted Challenge butter, melted
1/3 cup corn syrup (light)
2 tablespoons Bourbon
1 teaspoon Rodelle vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Chocolate chips (6-8 per tart)
Brown sugar sour cream vanilla bean whipped cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 pack whipped cream stabilizer (optional, but used for potential competition heat)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon Bourbon
1 teaspoon Rodelle vanilla bean paste or Rodelle vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Salted Bourbon caramel:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup heavy cream (go with 1/2 cup cream if you want this to be a liquid caramel sauce and have time for it to cool completely)
2 tablespoons Bourbon
1 teaspoon fine kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon Rodelle pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark Chocolate melts (ghirardelli)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray tart tins with Baker’s Joy non-stick spray, if desired.
For the crust: Place all ingredients in a stand mixer or a large food processor and pulse or mix until the dough comes together into a ball. Remove from processor and pat into tart tins, trying to shape a thin layer up the sides of the tin. Place tins on silicone-lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, let sit for 1 minute and press with pastry tamper or back of a spoon to reform tart shells, as they will puff and settle slightly. They will only be partially baked at this point. Place 6-8 chocolate chips in the bottom of each tart. Set tart shells aside until ready to fill.
While tarts shells are baking, make filling. Combine all filling ingredients (except for chocolate chips) in large bowl, whisking until smooth. Pour into tart shells, leaving a slight bit of room at the top of each tart for pretzel topping.
In a small bowl, combine pretzel topping ingredients, tossing well to coat. Place a small amount of topping on each tart. Bake for 24-26 minutes (still at 350 degrees) or until just set in center and golden brown at edges. Let cool. Place in freezer to cool faster, if necessary.
Make the caramel sauce: Heat sugar and water in a small saucepan until sugar begins to bubble and caramelize. Do not stir caramel while it bubbles. You can swirl the pan gently, if necessary. Remove from heat just when sugar turns dark amber. Add butter immediately, whisking constantly. Add cream, whisk well. Add Bourbon, salt, and vanilla. Pour into bowl and chill. Pour into piping bag, if desired.
Make the sour cream whipped cream: In a stand mixer with the wire whip attachment, whip cream and stabilizer until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, brown sugar, Bourbon, and vanilla bean paste. Whip sour cream mixture in with whipped cream. Place mixture in a large star tipped piping bag. Chill until ready to use.
To make garnish: melt chocolate in microwave safe bowl in 30 second intervals. Pour melted chocolate into piping bag with writing tip. Snip tip and pipe chocolate in daisy shapes onto wax paper. Place in fridge to harden.
To plate: drizzle caramel decoratively on plate. Place 1 tart on end of drizzle, top center of tart with more caramel, 1 large dollop of cream on top, and dots of whipped cream on the drizzle as well. Garnish with the chocolate daisy and serve.
Now, if that recipe is a bit daunting, this one is so simple, anyone can’t make it:
Lauren’s Thanksgiving Faux Pecan Pie
1 prepared deep dish pie crust or homemade dough for single deep dish pie crust, unbaked
For the Filling:
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted Challenge Butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 teaspoons Rodelle pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons Bourbon
1/3 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet Chocolate chips
For the Pretzel topping:
1-1/2 cups crushed thin twist or wheel shaped pretzels (I like to still have bigger bits of pretzels in there!)
3 tablespoons unsalted Challenge Butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I use the convection setting on my oven with great results.
Press pie crust into deep dish pie dish (I love Pyrex for the see-through and sturdy aspect of it). Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all filling ingredients except for the chocolate chips. Whisk well until smooth. Sprinkle chocolate chips onto the unbaked pie crust and evenly arrange across the bottom. Pour pie filling over top until about 1/4 inch from the top of the crust.
In a small bowl or bag, combine the Pretzel topping ingredients and toss them together well to coat. Sprinkle mixture on top of pie filling evenly. Bake for 45-55 minutes, covering with foil if top browns faster than the bottom. Pie is done when crust is golden brown and center is set but still has some give to it when pressed.
Let cool completely. Can be done up to 2 days ahead and stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Enjoy, and don’t forget to check out Rodelle Vanilla and “Like” or follow to enter my product giveaway!
Rosh Hashanah is coming soon, and luckily it is a bit late this year. I always appreciate the years that I don’t have to pull my kids out of school on the 1st or 2nd day of the school year. So, since I have a bit of free time on my hands (ha!), here is a little recipe that I created as a mash-up of my 2 favorite recipes from The Great Holiday Baking Show last year- my Rugelach and my Salted Bourbon Raisin Caramel Apple Pie. I will be teaching a group of women this recipe in Massachussetts next week and can’t wait to share this one!
Many people are intimidated by making rugelach from scratch, and it really needn’t be daunting. I like making this simple, quick dough in the food processor. It really only takes a minute to throw together. First, add your flour, powdered sugar, and salt to the processor and pulse to combine. Then add cubed cold butter and cream cheese to the mixture. Process and pulse until a coarse consistency dough forms, and starts to pull away from the edges of the bowl (3rd photo). Divide dough into 2 balls. Roll out each dough ball into a thin, 9 inch circle. I like to do this between 2 well floured pieces of wax paper or parchment. Stash discs in the fridge for at least 15-20 minutes, but even overnight is fine.
Now, the filling: You can definitely make your own caramel, like I did on the show. This Bourbon caramel was Mary Berry’s favorite thing I made (I think). She kept coming back between shots and grabbing a spoonful of it!
So, the alternative to making caramel is buying a good quality salted caramel from a jar. That is what I did today. Smuckers makes a nice, affordable one.
In a small food processor, combine nuts (optional), caramel, and apple butter. Add a tablespoon of bourbon. Process well until smooth and spreadable. You will see fine bits of nuts, and that is okay. Spread 1/2 filling in a very thin layer with an offset spatula, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge. Repeat with other dough disc and the rest of the filling.
Now, I like to divide this into 12 wedges. You could do 16, if you would rather have smaller cookies, or 8 if you want to have large ones. Here is how I cut my rugelach, using a pizza wheel.
Then, I roll each wedge up as if it were a crescent roll. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown at edges.
Now you have some options. You could just sprinkle these with powdered sugar and call it a day. Or you could make a caramel drizzle. Here’s how you do it:
Combine powdered sugar, a bit of your caramel (homemade or store bought), some salt, and thin it with milk or cream until it is a thick drizzling consistency. If too thin, add more sugar. If too thick, add more cream. Easy peasy! Now, transfer the mixture to a ziptop bag, snip the very edge of cone corner, and drizzle over the cooled rugelach.
Voila! At this point, you could sprinkle with a little sea salt (very sparingly) or even sprinkle a bit more chopped nuts. Really, whatever you want works. Enjoy!
Salted Caramel Apple Rugelach
For the dough:
1 cup flour, plus additional for dusting
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces cream cheese, cold
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
honey-bourbon caramel (optional, or buy salted caramel from a jar):
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons water
6 tablespoons butter, sliced
1/4 cup heavy cream
1-2 tablespoons bourbon
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
For filling (per 2 rounds):
1 tablespoon bourbon
1/2 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, finely ground
1/2 cup apple butter
1/4 cup of prepared caramel (from recipe above or jar)
For icing drizzle:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup caramel (from recipe above or jar)
1-2 tablespoons milk or cream to thin to desired consistency
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
To make the dough, combine flour, powdered sugar, and salt in a large food processor. Pulse to combine. Add cold butter and cream cheese to processor, and pulse until dough begins to form a ball and pull away from sides. Divide into 2 equal pieces. Sprinkle parchment paper and top of dough with approximately 1 tablespoon of flour each, to prevent sticking. Roll out both dough balls to 9 inch diameter circles. Leave on parchment and place in fridge until firm. Can be done ahead.
To make the caramel sauce, in a medium-sized saucepan, bring sugar, water, and honey to a simmer without stirring. Let mixture boil until it becomes caramel in color. Immediately turn off heat and whisk in butter, vigorously. Add cream, bourbon, and salt. Whisk well until smooth. Set aside in clean bowl. Can be done ahead and refrigerated. Prepared salted caramel sundae topping can also be used, if desired. Just add 1-2 tablespoons of bourbon if using jarred caramel.
To make the filling: Combine all filling ingredients, mixing in a small bowl with whisk or spoon or process in a small food processor. Divide, using half to spread on top of each dough round.
To assemble: Spread chilled dough with a thin layer of the filling, leaving a 1/4 inch border around the edge. Using a pizza wheel or knife, cut dough in quarters. Then, cut each quarter into thirds. Starting at the outer edge, roll each triangle into the center to form the rugelach. Place on parchment lined baking sheet at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden at edges. Let cool.
In a small bowl, whisk together the icing drizzle ingredients, adding milk until desired consistency is achieved. Place in a piping bag or plastic zippered bag and snip one corner with scissors. Drizzle in back and forth motion across cooled rugelach.
Let dry for 10-15 minutes to set icing.
Sometimes it is 9pm, the kids are in bed, the dishes are done, and one suddenly feels the intense urge to consume a decadent ooey-gooey PB and Banana and chocolate and marshmallow…cake. Stat. Okay, so maybe this is not true for everyone, but I am here to say that it happened to me last night. I borrowed the base recipe from this lovely blogger….http://backtoherroots.com/2011/07/09/sweet-saturday-one-minute-peanut-butter-cake/
But being me, I embellished a bit. You’re welcome. Cake in 30 seconds!
First, spray 2 ramekins, Pyrex dishes, or mugs with nonstick spray. Generously.
Then, mix together 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of soy nut butter (or peanut, or almond, or whatever-you-want butter)
Then, cut up about 1/4 of a banana. Note that I am too lazy to use a cutting board, so instead used the banana peel as a cutting board. I am not making this up….I really did.
Add the heaping tablespoon flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, pinch salt, bananas, and any type of chip you want (chocolate, butterscotch, or PB are recommended. Highly.)
Stir it up until everything is well mixed.
Divide between the two prepared ramekins. Microwave for 30 seconds. Mine looked like they were just about to overflow, but then miraculously didn’t. I am thinking about naming a holiday in honor of said miracle (It is what my people do).
Now, you have options. You could make a simple glaze, icing, stick a marshmallow on top and torch it, or just go with a healthy dollop of marshmallow fluff. Whatever floats your boat… Just run a knife around the edge of the ramekin, turn it upside down onto your plate. Top with your favorite thing and enjoy warm.
30 Second Chunky Monkey Cake
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark)
2 tablespoons Wowbutter (or peanut, almond, or any other faux or real nut butter!)
2 tablespoons chocolate chips (substitute butterscotch, white chocolate, or peanut butter chips)
2 tablespoons marshmallow fluff (optional)
Coat bottom and sides of two (individual serving) ramekins or glass bowls with non-stick spray. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, brown sugar, and soy or nut butter until well combined. Whisk in flour, baking soda, and salt. Fold in chopped banana and chips. Divide evenly amongst ramekins. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Cake might look slightly underdone, but resist the urge to cook longer. There will be some carryover cooking time, and it will become dry if heated longer. Run a knife around edge of cake and invert onto serving plate. Top with marshmallow fluff, and enjoy warm with a cup of decaf before bed.
Tomorrow night, I get to be on the other side of a judging table, for a welcome change of pace. I’m so honored to have been chosen as a judge for this year’s Kelly’s Cookie Challenge charity bake-off…and I get to taste lots of amazing cookies- Kind of a dream come true.
Several teams of bakers will be there with their best cookie bakes, and three judges (that’s me! Well, one is me) will pick a winner. Proceeds from the event will be donated to the winning team’s charity of choice.
There are teams representing a number of charities this year including:
And many more! If you’re at the event, you’ll have the opportunity to join the “Long Shots” team, and make a mystery baked good for charity.
If any of you are in the Silver Spring, MD area, and have some time tomorrow night, stop by to support a great cause! Based on pictures from previous years events, it looks like it will be a great time! Hope to see you there. I will try to post photos of the cookies and teams very soon. I really love the idea of being a judge. Way less pressure, and lots of yummy desserts- This might be what I want to be when I grow up!
I have tried many “Roll Out” Sugar Cookie recipes for use with cookie cutters, and I am always surprised that many do not hold their shape or taste very good. This is my go-to recipe, and I actually found the basic recipe on the tag of a cookie cutter. Of course, being the weirdo I am that can’t just follow a recipe as written, I have changed it a tad. Plus, I have about a million ways to make them really special….Hello Tangerine-Chai Sugar Cookies from Cookie Week on The Great Holiday Baking Show! They really are my favorite thing to make from the show, and it all started with the easiest cut out Sugar Cookie recipe. They will hold a cookie cutter shape perfectly, are not too sweet and can stand up to some icing, and the dough is easy to roll and handle.
Lauren’s Sugar Cookie Dough
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon additional extract, any flavor-almond, lemon, orange, etc… (optional) and/or 1 tablespoon citrus zest or fresh herbs, finely grated or chopped (I love tangerine zest!)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour*
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 325 degrees convection. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy (1-2 minutes). Add egg and vanilla to mixer, beating on medium speed until just incorporated. At this point, if you are using any citrus zest, herbs or additional extracts, add them now and mix for a few seconds.
For the dry ingredients, there are two options:
For basic dough, just add the flour and salt, mixing until the dough just comes together.
*Or for a dry mix in, such as **Chai tea, Earl Grey tea, freeze dried fruit (I love this with freeze dried strawberries!), or dried herbs and spices, run the extra ingredient and the flour and salt in the food processor for a couple of minutes until very finely broken down. I do this step so that you don’t get bits of tea in your teeth. Then, add the blended dry mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined.
Chill dough for at least 2 hours. You can chill the dough faster in the freezer, if desired. Also, this step can be done up to 3 days in advance of baking. Take dough out of the refrigerator, let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Dust counter and dough liberally with flour, roll to just under 1/4 inch, and cut into desired shapes. Bake for 9-12 minutes or until edges just barely get a hint of color. Remove to cool on wire rack. Decorate with glaze, royal icing, or whatever your heart desires!
**To add tea, cut open 3 tea bags and blend in the food processor with the flour.
To add freeze dried fruit, add 1 cup to food processor, pulse, then add flour and blend for a minute until combined.
Flavor combinations I like:
Orange zest and fresh rosemary
Lemon zest and fresh thyme (leaves only, no stems)
Grapefruit zest and Earl Grey tea
Lemon zest and British Breakfast tea
Tangerine zest and Chai tea
Freeze dried strawberries and vanilla bean seeds
Fresh basil and freeze dried strawberries
espresso powder and vanilla bean
mint extract or fresh mint and cacao nibs
Orange zest and ground cloves
Fresh ginger and lime zest
Freeze dried blueberries and lavender (go light on the lavender!)
The sky is the limit. Let me know if you try any good combinations. The trick is not to add any ingredients that are soggy or inherently waterlogged.