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by Heather Harris Brady

With this post I finally feel like we are heading into my favorite time of the year – baking season! Since I did a whole Thanksgiving dinner last year I wanted to give you some more options this year. Often when you’re visiting you want to take something along, and nearly as often there are pre-existing dietary issues you might or might not know in advance. This cake is great choice for those times. It’s gluten-free, but so moist and delicious it would be welcome anywhere. Thanks to the olive oil and yogurt, it’s also healthier than many other recipes from the pumpkin/carrot-cake style repertoire.

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For this recipe I used a blend from a Michigan mill, Westwind, but feel free to substitute your own favorite GF flour blend. The cake itself is not very sweet, which a lot of people prefer. However, if you have a real sweet tooth in the house you can add a homey vanilla frosting like I did.

Pumpkin Gingerbread, 16 2″ squares

  • 2-1/2 c. gluten-free flour blend
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. cardamom
  • 2/3 c. agave nectar
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 T. freshly ground gingerroot
  • 2/3 c. nonfat plain yogurt
  • One 12 oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 c. hot water

Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and preheat the oven to 325.

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Add the next six ingredients and stir well.

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Fold in the pumpkin and the hot water.

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Spread the batter into a 8″ square pan and bake about 30 minutes, until the center is firm.

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Cool completely and frost if you like. (See recipe below.)

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The cake keeps well and is actually better the next day after the flavors have had a chance to blend.

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Store any leftovers at room temperature lightly covered.

Optional vanilla frosting:

Combine 4 T. soft butter, 3 c. powdered sugar and 1 t. vanilla in a mixing bowl. Add 1 T. heavy cream. Beat for three minutes. If it’s too thick, drizzle in a little more cream, one teaspoon at a time and beating all the while, until you reach your desired consistency.
One year ago: Pumpkin Ice Cream

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by Heather Harris Brady

There’s a place in my town that makes scones with apricot and ginger, and while I like the flavor combo much of the time the scones I buy end up being too dry for my taste. In my view scones should be tender and buttery even before you start to load them up.

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Here I’m using fresh crystallized ginger, a chopped sea salt-almond-dark chocolate bar and a cardamom-oatmeal powder to round out the cream and butter.

Ginger-Dark Chocolate Scones, Makes about eight large or 16 small (3″)

  • 2-1/2 c. regular flour
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 4 T. butter
  • 3 green cardamom pods or 1 t. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 c. thick-cut rolled oatmeal
  • 1/2 c. diced crystallized ginger
  • 4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1/3 c. milk

Combine the first three ingredients in a mixing bowl and preheat the oven to 375.

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Cut in the butter to coarse crumbs.

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Grind the cardamom pods in your spice grinder, when you have a coarse grind add the oatmeal and grind to a powder.

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If you’re using ground cardamom just grind the oatmeal (you could use a food processor if you don’t have a spice grinder).

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Stir the cream and the milk into the flour mixture. Turn it out onto a floured work surface and knead it quickly four turns.

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Quickly knead in the oatmeal, ginger and chocolate.

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Pat the dough into a circle about 1/2″ thick. You can do one large circle, for large scones or two smaller circles.

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Cut it into eight wedges and put them on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

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Bake about 20 minutes, until puffed and lightly browned.

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Serve warm.

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Store any leftover scones at room temperature lightly covered.

One year ago: Apple Butter Bundt Cake with Browned Butter Glaze

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by Heather Harris Brady

Okay, so during the previous post we went over making steamed buns – today we’ll get to the filling. I used ground pork so I could get more of a patty but you could use ground chicken, ground beef or a slice of extra firm tofu – whatever suits your fancy.

If you follow this recipe you’ll have about half of your steamed rolls left over. They freeze well, so you can have a batch on hand – this filling goes together in about 15 minutes so if you have a batch in the freezer it will make a quick meal to get on the table. Otherwise, if you’re having a larger gathering, just double the quantities below.

Asian Sliders, Makes enough filling for about 10 sliders

  • One pound of ground meat (or extra firm tofu slices)
  • 1 c. baby carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 a red pepper, cut in strips
  • 1/2 c. sliced onion
  • 1 small head of baby bok choy, sliced with leaves set aside
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 1 T. minced ginger
  • 2 T. peanut butter
  • 3 T. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 t. red chili paste (or to taste)
  • 10 steamed buns (previous post)

Heat a saucepan over medium high and a tablespoon of olive, peanut or sesame oil. Saute the carrots until they are crisp-tender.

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Add the onion, red pepper and bok choy. Continue to saute until the pepper slices are crisp-tender.

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Set vegetables aside. Add the garlic and ginger to the pan.

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Followed by the ground meat.

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Stir in the spices and brown the meat thoroughly.

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When the meat is brown, wilt the bok choy leaves on the side.

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Make the sauce: Combine the peanut butter and chili paste in a small bowl.

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Stir in the soy sauce. At this point you can also add some fresh cilantro, lime juice, fish sauce, whatever.

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Split the buns and spread the sauce on the bottom of each one. Then top it with some of the meat.

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Add a large spoonful of veggies, ending with the bok choy leaves.

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Top it off and you’re ready to serve!

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One year ago: Soft Pumpkin Cookies

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by Heather Harris Brady

I’ve been toying with a steamed recipe for a while now, because I love the steamed pork buns from a local restaurant. The dough the restaurant uses is obviously very hydrated and cooks inside a packet of aluminum foil – so before I add those levels of complication I wanted to get a handle on a more basic dough.

As my basis I used a steamed bun recipe from How to Cook and Eat in Chinese, along with the powdered milk from David Chang’s recipe and then I added some rice flour because it seemed like a good idea. My rolls are more beige, if you want pure white you’ll have to order some specialty flour – just search for bao flour. You’ll need a large bamboo steamer for this recipe.

Steamed Buns, Makes about 24 3″ buns

  • 1-1/3 c. warm water
  • 1 pkg. quick rise yeast
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 2-1/2 c. flour (regular or bao flour)
  • 1 c. rice flour
  • 2 t. salt
  • 1/3 c. powdered milk
  • 3 T. olive oil

Stir the water, yeast and sugar together in a mixing bowl, add the oil, then stir in the flours, salt, and the powdered milk.

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Stir well.

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Set it aside to rise until doubled in bulk.

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Punch the dough down and knead it until it’s smooth (about five minutes).

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Divide the dough into golf-ball sized portions and shape into rolls, gathering the ends into the bottom. Let rise on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

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When they are doubled in bulk fire up the bamboo steamer.

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You can put a piece of cheesecloth on each layer of the steamer if you like. Make sure the water is boiling briskly underneath.

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Transfer the rolls to the steamer. I could do about six per layer, a dozen at a time.

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Don’t peek until about 12 minutes has passed. The rolls should be firm with a shiny top.

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Inside you should have lots of nice holes with a chewy exterior.

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Transfer to racks to cool completely. I’ll post part two of this recipe on Wednesday – a filling to turn these buns into Asian-style sliders!

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One year ago: Marbled Peanut Butter Pie

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by Heather Harris Brady

This cake holds many fond memories for me. My cousin’s birthday is five days before mine, so growing up we always had the family parties together. While I would play the field with carrot cake and german chocolate Bri would never vary from this chocolate sheet cake. It also nicely fits my rule that any cake recipe calling for boiling water is going to be good. Of course, any spiral-bound community cookbook worth its salt has a Texas/chocolate sheet cake recipe so I had to tinker and try to bring you something better.

I’ve cut back on some of the saturated fat while keeping the moist, rich chocolatey goodness that makes this cake such a sure hit for any kind of party. It’s also quick and super-easy so the next time someone subjects you to one of those nasty store cakes with the greasy frosting invite them over for a piece of this cake. It’ll help make the world a better place.

Chocolate Sheet Cake, Makes one large sheet cake (about 48 servings)

Cake:

1 stick butter
1/3 c. olive oil
1/3 c. applesauce
1 cup boiling water
4 T.(heaping) dark cocoa
2-1/2 c. flour
1 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/2 cup milk + ½ t. vinegar
2 eggs
1 t. baking soda
1 t. vanilla

Frosting:

1 stick of butter
¾ c. chocolate chips or 4 T. cocoa
4 T. milk
1 t. vanilla
3 c. powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 and start the cake batter. Melt the stick of butter in a saucepan.

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Stir in the cocoa, then the boiling water, olive oil and applesauce. Boil for half a minute and take it off the heat.

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Add boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Combine the flour, salt, and the sugars in a mixing bowl. Pour the hot chocolate sauce in and stir.

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Beat in the eggs, baking soda and vanilla. Then stir in the milk. Pour the batter into a lightly greased sheet/jelly roll pan.

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Bake about 20 minutes, or until the center springs back.

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While cake is baking, make the frosting. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the milk and chocolate chips.

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Whisk until smooth and remove it from the heat. Stir in the powdered sugar.

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Beat well, add in the vanilla for the last few strokes.

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While the cake is still slightly warm, pour the frosting over the top and spread it out.

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I made this for Halloween weekend so I scattered some Heath bits and sprinkles over it. Pecans are good too. The frosting will set up in about 10-20 minutes, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. The cake is ready to serve immediately. You can lightly cover it if you use my recipe, but be warned that other types of fudge frosting will get runny.

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It cuts nicely into neat squares.

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One year ago: Fall Dinner, Balsamic Glazed Vegetables

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by Heather Harris Brady

I used to make these when my children were small for fun things like picnics at the zoo, but I think you’ll find kids of all ages can acquire a taste for these. The body is really just a cake truffle (or a cake pop if that’s how you roll). Then they get ears from sliced almonds, eyes and a nose from mini chips and a licorice tail. I think they would be amazing if you’re looking for something different for a Cinderella or wizard-themed birthday party.

These would be a great beginner/kids in the kitchen recipe too, they’re easy and quick to make.

Chocolate Mice, Makes about one dozen 2″ long mice

  • 1 pkg. semi-sweet mini chips (you’ll have some leftover)
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2-1/4 c. crushed chocolate cookies or crumbled chocolate cake
  • 1/2 sleeve of chocolate graham crackers
  • 1/2 c. sliced almonds
  • 1 strand of peel-apart licorice, not yet peeled

Melt 1-1/3 c. of the chips over medium heat with the heavy cream.

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When the chocolate is melted and smooth remove it from the heat. Stir in the cookie crumbs and vanilla.

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Keep stirring until the crumbs absorb the chocolate and you get something that starts to look like chocolate play-doh.

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Put the chocolate mixture in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to thoroughly chill.

Process the grahams to a fine powder.

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And arrange the rest of your ingredients in easy reach of the work surface: graham crumbs, remaining chips, almonds, licorice.

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Get your chocolate mixture and pick up a spoonful, about a heaping tablespoon. Shape it into a little body.

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Then roll it in the graham crumbs.

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Add ears and a face like so:

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Wearing glittery Halloween nailpolish while you do so is optional. Also, you can use colored chips, confectionery eyes, or melted pink chocolate to do the faces if you want to get really fancy.

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In a few minutes you’ll be commander of your own mouse army! Don’t forget the tails.

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They’re cute boxed up too.

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I love this photo because it reminds me of my favorite picture book, Frederick.

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Frederick

Have a safe and fun Halloween everyone!
One year ago: Fall Dinner, Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

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by Heather Harris Brady

So you’re probably wondering why I don’t just call this tiramisu because it looks like tiramisu right? Indeed it does my friends, and it tastes very much like it as well. However, I named it something else because, quite frankly, this is a quick and dirty version. Dessert triage if you will, something you turn to when the guests are on their way and the dessert you made is now all over the floor. Or in my case, when a recipe you’re testing didn’t turn out!

Ideally this should chill for about two hours, but if you don’t have that kind of time you’ll see my notes below.

Quick Italian Trifle, Makes about eight 1″ slices

  • One sleeve of savoiardi biscuits
  • 1 c. semi-sweet mini chips
  • 1 cup of fresh, hot, strong coffee
  • 1/2 c. whipped cream cheese
  • 2-1/2 c. milk
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 pkg. unflavored gelatin, softened in 1/4 c. cold water
  • 1 T. sherry

First, make the filling. Put the milk into a shallow saucepan. Stir together the sugar and cornstarch, whisk them into the milk and put the pan on medium heat. Continue to whisk until thick, about five minutes. Whisk in the gelatin.

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Add some of the hot milk to the eggs, stir and whisk the egg mixture. Cook for another two minutes, then whisk in the sherry and the cream cheese.

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Set the pan into a larger pan of ice cubes and water to cool it down quickly while you get the next step done.

Line the bottom of a loaf pan with biscuits, breaking them as needed to cover most of the space. Spoon coffee over the biscuits, soaking them well (I used almost half a cup.). Then sprinkle them with chips.

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Pour half of the cream over the biscuits, then repeat for the next layer.

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You’ll end with a layer of cream, so crush the last two biscuits and sprinkle them over the top.

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Now slide the pan into the freezer. Take it out after an hour and put it in the refrigerator if you’re not yet ready to serve. To serve, dust your plates with cocoa powder, then slice down and through the dessert with a spatula. The first piece is always the hardest.

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There you have it! Store any leftovers in the fridge. You can cut out/back on the gelatin if you prefer a softer set. This might be a quick recipe but I’ve paid a lot more for a lot less-tasty restaurant tiramisu in my time.

One year ago: Saddle of Venison Cake

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by Heather Harris Brady

Raise your hand if you have Parisian fantasies. Okay, now leave them up if yours include Dorie Greenspan. C’mon, I know you’re out there. And it’s okay. You’re among friends. Hopefully my husband isn’t reading this because I know it isn’t the stuff of which romance novels are made, but I like to think of flying to Paris, where my new BFF Dorie meets me at the train with a hug and a slice of cake before we head out to shop for kitchenware and hit the farm market.

Then, back in her cozy kitchen we cook and debate recipe ideas. I would pull a treat out of my bag, one of her recipes I’ve made my own and she will say “browned butter, salted caramel, that’s genius of you” or something along those lines. Her FAB cookbook (Baking from my home to yours) encourages you to experiment with her recipes, plus I like to think she’s cool like that.

A bit of backstory: I’m completely addicted to these chocolate oatmeal bars sold by a shop downtown near my place of work. I can only go there once a week because I never walk out without one. And this where Dorie comes in. She has a recipe that looks much like theirs. Then, because I wanted to add my own twist, I brought the salted caramel. So as you can see, there’s a chewy oatmeal layer on the bottom, a layer of salted caramel, a layer of chocolate and more dollops of oatmeal on top. They are rich, so small squares are in order. My husband says he likes them better than the ones in town, so maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to take him to Paris with me after all ;)

Chocolate Oatmeal Caramel Bars, Makes about 36 2″ squares

For the oatmeal layer:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 c. light brown sugar
½ c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned oats

For the caramel layer:

1 c. granulated sugar

1/3 c. water

1 t. vinegar

1 t. coarse salt

2/3 c. heavy cream

4 T. soft butter

 

1/2 pkg. Kraft caramel bits (optional)

For the chocolate layer:
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
8 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped (the best quality you can find)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Make the caramel (there’s a step by step in the last recipe if you haven’t made it before) and set it aside to cool

Put the sticks of butter in a saucepan and heat them over medium to a light golden brown. Remove them from the heat and cool the butter completely. Then scrape the browned butter into a mixer bowl and cream it with the sugars, followed by the two eggs and vanilla.

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Beat in the remaining dry ingredients.

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Preheat the oven to 325 and lightly grease a 13×9 pan. Reserve 1-1/2 c. of the oatmeal mixture, press the rest into the bottom of the pan.

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Then spread the caramel over the oatmeal and sprinkle the caramel bits on top if you’re using them.

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Set aside while you make the chocolate topping. Heat the condensed milk and chocolate together over medium heat, stirring until smooth. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Pour the chocolate over the caramel layer.

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Then sprinkle it with chunks of the remaining oatmeal mixture.

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Bake about 30-35 minutes.

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You can eat these right away, if you want to try them when they’re extra gooey. But once they’ve set overnight the chocolate turns into a fudge and they cut into nicer slices.

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They’re amazing either way. They’ll keep up to a week covered at room temperature.

One year ago: Malakoff Torte

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by Heather Harris Brady

Sorry I missed my second post last week. Everyone was sick, even the dog.

If well-chilled this pretty cake slices neatly into three layers – a moist banana cake on the bottom with mini chips, a layer of salted caramel frosting and a thin layer of ganache on top to tie it all together. I like to bake it in a 13 x 9 pan but you could bake it in layers if you like, putting the caramel in the middle and the ganache on top instead.

Salted Caramel Banana Cake, Makes one 13″ x 9″ cake

For the cake:

  • 1 stick (1/2 c.) butter
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 c. mashed banana
  • 1 6 oz. container of yogurt (plain or vanilla)
  • 2-1/4 c. flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 c. semisweet mini-chips

For the caramel frosting:

  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1 t. vinegar
  • 1 t. coarse salt
  • 2/3 c. heavy cream
  • 4 T. soft butter
  • 2-1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1-2 T. heavy cream

For the ganache:

  • 1 c. dark or semisweet chips
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 t. vanilla

First, the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and the sugars.

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Add the eggs and vanilla. Beat until light.

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Mash the banana well with a fork.

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Add the banana and the dry ingredients. Beat well.

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Beat in the yogurt, then the chips.

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Spread the batter in a well-greased 13 x 9 pan.

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Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the center is firm to the touch.

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While the cake is baking make the salted caramel:

Combine the sugar, water and vinegar in a saucepan. Bring to a quick boil.

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As the syrup starts to turn a golden brown remove it from the heat.

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Quickly whisk in the cream. It will bubble and look like this:

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Stir in the salt and set the caramel aside to cool.

Beat the butter and powdered sugar together in a mixing bowl. Add the heavy cream and beat to a thick frosting. Then beat in half of your cooled caramel. (Save the other half of the caramel for drizzling over the top or on the serving plates.)

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Set the frosting aside and start the ganache:

Combine the cream and the chips in a saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until smooth. Stir in the butter and vanilla. Set it aside to cool.

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If your cake layer is now cool to the touch spread the caramel frosting over the top.

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Put it in the refrigerator until the frosting is set. Then spread the ganache on top.

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Add a sprinkle of sea salt so it’s extra pretty.

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If you don’t mind soft frosting you can store the cake on the counter. But it will slice cleaner if you keep it in the fridge.

One year ago: Chocolate Mint Cookies


 

 

 

 

 

 

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by Heather Harris Brady

Top off that cup of coffee or tea before you start this one, because it’s probably one of the longest single posts I’ve ever done. But if you haven’t worked with a brioche dough before I wanted to give you clear directions. I set out on this endeavor with the idea to make butterhorns, however, things took a turn. I was looking for something buttery but not pound-of-butter-for-30-pastries buttery.

This recipe makes a half-sheet pan of coffeecake, it also freezes well so you could bake it in two smaller pans if you like. It is also satisfying buttery yet lighter with only 1/4 lb. of butter. I based this recipe off Nick Malgieri’s brioche recipe in How to Bake. I’d highly recommend a large standing mixer with a dough hook too. But if you succeed in making this by hand you’ll be on your way to the arms of a goddess.

Brioche Coffeecake, Makes one half-sheet pan (About 24 generous servings)

  • 2 pkg. quick rise yeast
  • 1 c. warm water
  • 1-1/2 c. flour
  • Three eggs
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 2-3/4 c. flour
  • 1 stick of butter
  • Cinnamon sugar: 1 T. cinnamon + 3/4 c. sugar
  • Egg wash: Two eggs, beaten well in a bowl and set aside
  • One cup of 1-2-3-4 Streusel (see basics, above)
  • Simple Icing: 1 c. milk, 1 T. butter, 1 T. cream

First make a sponge by combining the first three ingredients.

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Set it aside for 30 minutes.

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Turn the sponge into your mixer bowl and add the sugar, flour and eggs. Put on the dough hook.

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Beat on medium until well mixed.

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Add the butter. The dough may separate at first but keep beating on medium.

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Keep going for at least five minutes. The finished dough should look like this:

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Set it aside until doubled in bulk. See all these lacy strands? They’re going to give us our light lacy texture.

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Punch the dough down on a well-floured countertop. I apologize for these photos. The sun comes into my kitchen at a funny angle this time of year.

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Roll it out into a large rectangle about 1/2″ thick.

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Paint it well with egg wash.

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Cover it the egg with the cinnamon sugar.

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Now fold the long sides in.

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Give the top another coat of egg wash.

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And fold it on top of itself like so:

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Time to preheat the oven to 375! Cut the roll into 1″ thick slices and lay them on a lightly greased baking sheet. They will slide around a little bit and get wonky because of the egg wash but that’s okay.

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Sprinkle the tops with streusel.

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Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the edges are a pretty brown.

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Let the coffeecake cool while you stir up the icing. When the top is no longer warm to the touch drizzle it well with icing.

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Cut into pieces, or pull it apart, and serve!

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Lightly cover any leftovers. Serve warm or at room temperature.

cinnamonbrioche

One year ago: Chocolate Almond Torte

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