I sometimes go through phases where I wander down the seemingly never-ending rabbit hole known as YouTube. I recently came across a video by pastry chef extraordinaire, Claire Saffitz. She was whipping up a batch of her Malted “Forever” Brownies. I clicked on the thumbnail purely for its entertainment value, and no intention of attempting them myself. As I listened to her expound on the process of developing this recipe, I considered how long it’d been since I tried my hand at brownies.
I’d long abandoned my pursuit of the perfect brownie, because my dear friend, Smalls’ brownies are a magnum opus, and far superior to any brownies I’ve ever made.
Brownies are a simple delight; an opportunity for chocolate to stand on its own and display its depth of flavor. They are at their best with a perfectly crackled top layer just above the dense, chewy confection with flecks of salt. Of all the raw doughs and batters deemed forbidden for consumption, brownie batter surpasses them all. There’s just something about that thickness of the batter with the grit of the granulated sugar amidst a spoonful of chocolate. Darn near irresistible!
After watching Claire, and engaging my inner dialogue, I decided I should take a crack at her recipe in case Smalls is too tied up to answer my distress call for brownies.
Oh, and the brownies were pretty amazing! Make sure to chill them for an hour after they cool it’s key.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The temperature drops, grass growth slows down, and there’s “pumpkin spice” out the wazoo! The leaves change colors; at least they do in commercials. This is Florida, after all. You can catch wafts of cinnamon brooms while walking through the store, even through your mask! Who buys cinnamon brooms?
I welcome the fall season with a warm embrace. As I begin my Saturday morning breakfast brainstorm, apples and spices come to mind. After extensive denial of the sun rising, I finally open my eyes, take in the light, and run a mental inventory check from the comfort of my blanket. I turn over and look at my phone for the time, and I know there’s no more time to piddle. I throw off the cover. It must be done with a degree of sternness to shake my slowly waking mind from slumber to alertness. I make my way to the fridge and survey the shelves, taking note of what is available. Then I head over to the pantry to do the same, circle back around the refrigerator for good measure and then I begin to gather in preparation for my creation.
This Saturday wasn’t unlike most, but it was the first one of this fall season and I could not let the day pass without a culinary acknowledgement of its arrival.
As I made the batter for the coffee cake, my mother made the streusel to add in the middle. After whipping up the batter, I decided to butter the pan and sprinkle brown sugar and pecans in the bottom to create a candy like coating on the cake.
The cakes popped out of the pans beautifully with a deep brown and glistening sugars atop. My trash cake (made from leftover batter and streusel), came out dangerously amazing. Trash cake is what I call the little snack cake I make of the leftover batter and streusel. I tossed it in a cast iron skillet, added a couple tablespoons of butter on top of the pecan streusel topping and it baked perfectly. It was rich and nearly addictive. I should never make it in a large batch lest I make this health and fitness journey a harder challenge than it need be.
Nevertheless, the breakfast was a hit with the clan and fully welcomed the feeling of the season.
I can’t wait to see what else is in store. Do you have any plans or recipes you are looking forward to this season? Apple festivals, pumpkin patch or apple cider donuts perhaps?
1 stick butter softened
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg, ginger and clove
¾ cup dairy Free Sour Cream
2 tablespoons water
2 medium apples, grated
In a large bowl mix well the butter, sugar, vanilla and egg.
In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove.
In a small bowl mic together the sour cream and water. Add half of the sour cream to the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients and mix making sure not to overmix. Mix in the remaining sour cream into the batter. Fold in the grated apples.
toasted pecans, chopped
Unfortunately, I didn’t record exact measurements, but I mixed and tweaked until I got a soft crumb forms.
Preheat your oven to 350. Butter the mini Bundt pan, sprinkle brown sugar and toasted pecans inside the pan. Fill each pan about 1/3 of the way with the batter, add the filling and then fill the bundts with the natter the rest of the way.
Have you ever had a list of things you intended to try or do? No, I’m not talking about a bucket list. I mean reasonable and attainable tasks that don’t require exorbitant amounts of time or money. You know. That herb garden you said you wanted to grow, or trying that jam you were gifted for the holidays. Perhaps it’s a recipe that requires everything you already keep on hand anyway?
For me, it’s the famous, flourless, chocolate cake. I’ve marveled at its wonder on Pinterest and cooking shows, all while thinking, “I’ll try that one day” Well, that day has come, and it is done. I took it up a notch by adding cardamom and a chai ganache. They give it more depth of flavor. Be warned: this cake is rich! You could go for a “weaker” chocolate (i.e. 70 %+) to achieve a more moderate chocolate flavor, but I think you can handle this just fine.
8 oz. 60% cacao chocolate, roughly chopped
½ c of butter
¾ C. coconut sugar
½ tsp cardamom
¼ tsp salt
3 eggs, separated
½ Tbsp vanilla
8 oz semisweet chocolate
4 tbsp butter
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Cardamom
¼ tsp Salt
Preheat oven to 375 Fahrenheit. Line an 8” round baking pan with parchment paper.
In a medium saucepan, combine the roughly chopped chocolate and butter. Heat on medium-low until chocolate is completely melted. Remove pan from heat then add coconut sugar, cardamom and salt to the chocolate-butter mixture. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
In a separate bowl, beat your egg whites until soft peaks form. Set aside.
Add egg yolks to the cooled chocolate mixture in the saucepan along with the vanilla. Fold in the egg whites and pour the mixture into prepared baking pan.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cake is set.
While the cake is baking, prepare the ganache. Combine the chocolate and butter in a saucepan and heat until just melted. Open a tea bag and pour the contents into chocolate mixture along with the cinnamon, cardamom, and salt. The measurements for the spices in the ganache recipe are my preference and recommendation, but feel free to adjust them to your preference.
Once cake is out of the oven, allow to sit for about 30 minutes, then pour over the ganache over. Allow the cake and ganache to cool completely.
I am about to expose a little about myself, but it’s the truth. Cookies are my go-to for many reasons, but I’ll narrow it down to three:
One bowl preparation
High volume with minimal cooling time, which means I get to eat them sooner.
It might sound overly voracious, but I don’t care! Cookies are a true gift, and I give gift cookies often.
I was feeling fancy when I made these, so I added the flaky salt. The humble cookie is so underestimated. A cookie can be cakey, chewy, or crunchy. It can be a simple, frosted sugar cookie, or whatever else you can think of.
Can you imagine a world without cookies?! Would you even want to? Not this self-proclaimed cookie connoisseur.
I am frugal; NOT cheap. However every blue moon, less frequently really, I succumb to a splurgey weakness. I was inspired by Claire Saffitz’s Bon Appetit show, Gourmet Makes. She challenged herself to upgrade the classic Kit Kat candy bar and to make this happen, she ordered a waffle cone maker. This inspired me to attempt my own “gourmet make” of Little Debbie’s Nutty Buddy. They came out pretty good, but they were labor intensive.
Alas, my waffle cone maker sat in its box, collecting dust. I decided it was high time I use that waste of space and money and so began thinking of possible recipes for it. I couldn’t tell you how Stroopwafels came to mind, but they did, and I had no idea where to start. I researched, found a recipe and tweaked the filling. They were delicious.
In a bowl, combine the flour, butter, sugar, yeast, milk and egg. Knead together until you have a smooth, consistent dough. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl and loosely cover it with plastic wrap. Set it in a warm place to for 40 minutes (doesn’t rise much but that little lift helps later on).
Heat the cane syrup, honey, sugar, salt and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a bubble. When the mixture thickens slightly and the sugar is melted, remove it from the heat.
Heat up waffle cone maker. Knead dough and shape into balls about 2 tbsp. each in size. Place the dough in the center of the cone maker and push down slightly until golden brown. Quickly remove the waffle from the maker. Have your cookie cutter ready and a knife to slice in half.
Side Note: I wasted nearly half of my dough trying to slice the hot waffles as they came out of the maker. I found it much more manageable when I used 2” and 3” biscuit cutters and followed up with the knife. It’s a little difficult because the waffles are hot, but still manageable.
Repeat with each dough ball.
Put a ½ or 1 tablespoon of filling, depending on the size of the cut out and sandwich the waffle sides.
I’ve discovered that impromptu baking is less risky with almond flour. *SHOCK* Seriously, though. I figured out that the key here is bake time. I don’t need to worry about rise, because I know it won’t. Being aware of proper bake time nearly guarantees you will not fail; kind of like those classes based on attendance and discussion posts.
Give this a try and let me know if it flops. If I were a betting woman, I would put money on it. I won’t, but I probably should, because this really is foolproof. It’s also delicious and reasonably nutritious.
Let me know how it turns out for you.
1 ¼ c almond flour
6 tbsp butter grated, cold
¼ c sweetened almond milk
½ tbsp of coconut sugar
1 lb. of Red Anjou Pears, slices
1 tbsp Honey
2 tsp Tapioca Flour
2 tsp water
1 Lemon, zested and juiced
Egg wash (egg yolk+water)
In a bowl combine almond flour, coconut sugar, almond milk, egg. Fold the grated butter in last. Roll dough into a ball, place in a freezer bag and refrigerate.
Chill dough for 30 minutes.
While the dough chills wash and slice up your pears. You can peel them, but I decided to keep the peel on. It adds fiber and depth of color.
In a small bowl mix the honey, water and tapioca flour. Pour the pear slices into the mixture, then add cinnamon, nutmeg and kosher salt to taste. Add the zest and juice of 1 lemon.
Preheat oven to 400 F
Take the dough out the refrigerator and place onto an almond floured surface (be liberal). Roll dough out to about a 10 inch circle and ½ inch thickness.
Place the pear slices in the middle of the crust, leaving about 2 ½ inches around the edge, then fold the crust in towards the center. Folds and slight overlapping are acceptable. It creates a rustic presentation.
Brush the crust with egg wash (yolk and 2 tsp water). Be generous or your crust will be pasty and no one wants that, generally speaking. Generously sprinkle coconut sugar onto egg washed dough.
Place in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool, slice and eat.
Disclaimer: I make no claims that this is healthy or going to cure the common cold because of its health properties. Truthfully, I have no idea if you benefit much from this, I’ve just developed a taste for almond flour.
Note: Cakes are my least favorite baking activity. Occasionally, I find them to be a welcomed challenge. Unless it’s a chocolate cake or a request for something that stirs my creative nature, it’ll probably be a no from me. Bear this in mind as I go through the events of this delivery. You’ll have a greater understanding of the level of frustration I experienced.
I’m running out of my kitchen with a spatula, extra frosting and no time left to get this cake to the woodland fantasy themed shower with a pedestal awaiting its arrival. My sister is behind the wheel as I sit in the passenger seat and the cake is lowered into my lap. My job: to ensure a safe transport. BUMP! I check on the cake. It’s fading fast, and we’ve only backed out of the driveway! Sis is taking every turn as carefully as she can, as I fight my conflicting desires at every turn; to tell her to press the gas one second and slow down the next, even more than she already has. We make it to a straight and at this point we’re both fading, me and my once beautiful semi-naked cake. The third layer is sliding to the left and frosting is spreading on the inside of the box. Regrets race through my mind; the biggest one being that I didn’t add enough powdered sugar to the frosting to ensure stability. I was so worried about the sugar overpowering the flavors! Crazy talk, I know…now!
Making the turn into the neighborhood, we’re nearly free and clear. Or so I thought. Numerous unavoidable speed bumps lay in our wake. With each one, the cake is going down and I am losing my calm. I feel a tear drop now as I fight to keep this cake straight and against more tears fighting to pour out. I don’t need a sloppy cake AND puffy red eyes. We finally get to the house and the cake has slid around so much the frosting has come off in various spots. It’s an embarrassment.
My mother texts, “Hey, can you do a naked cake?”. My initial thought, “Who are you volunteering me to make a cake for this time?” I respond, “I’ve never done one, but it shouldn’t be too difficult”. And it really shouldn’t be. It’s a partially frosted caked. The client and I discuss the details of the order and it’s settled. I will make a 10” 4-layer apple spice cake with browned butter cream cheese frosting. It’s a darn near perfect flavor profile for a woodland themed shower in autumn.
A week beforehand, I make a mini 6” version of the cake. She’s a beauty and I am feeling confident. I watch a few more video tutorials to identify my frosting technique to ensure the picture-perfect cake.
The day before the shower I get up early to bake the layers and it’s good that I do because 2 of the layers baked completely different than the other 2 layers due to different baking pans. This is not a big issue. I have plenty of time to bake two more layers and I do so, successfully.
I whip up the frosting and it’s spot on! I’ve spent the entire day in the kitchen and decide to assemble the cake tomorrow, the day of the shower.
I leave church a little early to give myself plenty of time to assemble the cake before the time of delivery. I get home and start assembling but there’s an issue: my layers are sliding. I made the frosting primarily with flavor in mind, not the fact that this cake would have to sit outside of the refrigerator for a couple of hours. I continue adding layers. Putting the cake in the freezer is helping, but the moment it sits out too long it slides again. I decide to add dowels and it’s working while it’s completely still, but this cake had to withstand a car ride. And now, we are back where we started: on one of the most memorable rides of my life. It was only a 15-minute ride, but it was a race for this cake’s life.
We finally arrive at the baby shower and it’s time to jump into action. My sisters and mom, also in attendance, helped me bring the cake and tools into the kitchen. With no time to waste, I must revive it. The cake is central to the table display…great. After much pushing, adjusting, frosting, napkins, warm water and refrigeration the cake is restored. Between the assistance of my family and the encouragement of the client, both the cake and I recovered.
Once the final decorations were added and it was set up, I could almost say I was proud of it, while simultaneously praying that the house would stay cool. I wasn’t sure how long it could take sitting out. I placed it on the pedestal that awaited its arrival and left feeling “meh” about it all.
This will, no doubt, go down in Flour and Parchment history. I look forward to any more lessons I have to learn on this journey, but hopefully none as emotionally torturous as this one.
3 cups peeled and finely chopped apples (about 1 1/2 lb.)
1 cup pecans, optional
½ cup room temp, softened salted butter
12 oz. cream cheese
3 cups powdered sugar
1.5 tsp of vanilla
Preheat oven to 350° F
Stir together 3 cups flour plus next 7 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in eggs and next 3 ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in apples and pecans (optional).
Scoop a cup at a time into greased and parchment lined 2 9” baking pan to ensure even layers.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until thoroughly baked.
Allow to cool to room temperature completely.
While cooling, make the frosting.
Take the butter and place in a saucepan on medium heat and stir as until completely melted. You will see the fat of the butter begin to brown, I let it brown until I smell a deep, nutty aroma, similar to caramel and then take off the heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Transport to a glass dish and refrigerate until solid.
Add paddle attachment to stand mixer and whip the browned butter until soft and toss in the softened cream cheese and beat until well blended and “fluffy”.
Add vanilla and add powdered a ½ cup at a time until frosting has reached desired consistency or flavor (whichever matters more 😉)
Place first layer down and add about 1 cup of frosting use spatula to spread then add the second layer and frost all over the top and sides.
I love chocolate as much as the next person, assuming that person isn’t one of those weirdos that despises chocolate. I digress. Lately, I have been in the mood for fruity desserts. I found some Bartlett pears in the forgotten corners of the fridge, grabbed some Granny Smiths and ran with them, unsure of where they would lead me. After minimal consideration, a cobbler was the plan for me.
Apple Pear Cobbler
2 lbs. Granny Smith Apple, diced
2 Bartlett Pears, diced
¼ c peach preserve
2 bags of chamomile tea
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp allspice
¼ tsp clove
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
¼ c all-purpose flour
2 ½ c almond flour
¾ c arrowroot starch
¼ c cold butter, cubed
3 tbsp honey
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ c chopped pecans
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling
Bear in mind: Despite the almond flour and arrowroot starch, this is not a paleo/gluten free/special diet dessert.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine all the filling ingredients in a large bowl. Allow filling to sit covered while you make the crust.
Start with combining the almond flour and arrowroot starch. Add butter and cut in with forks until it resembles a crumble. Add honey, eggs, salt and baking soda until combined. Fold in the chopped pecans.
Note: Making the crust can all be done in the food processor. Just add all of the ingredients and pulse until it resembles a dough. I, however, am far too lazy to dig out, assemble and clean the processor so I did it by hand.
Spoon about 2 ½ tablespoons of filling into each ramekin and top with the crust. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Place all of the ramekins on a cookie sheet (I did this to minimize the chance of a mess in the oven).
Note: I made this recipe to serve 7 so your measurements per dish may vary.
Put pan on the middle rack and allow to bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden.
Allow to cool for about 10 minutes and top with ice cream.