Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Have I really not posted since New Year’s? Oh dear.

Banana

There are a few people in my life who are allergic to bananas. That is weird as hell to me. Like, you do realize we share a common ancestor with chimps and apes, right? You’re a primate. Bananas are supposed to be your friends! Though I guess if they cause chemical burns, then maybe not so much.

However, most of the people I know that are allergic to banana a) love bananas b) are not allergic to bananas that have been cooked. I guess there is some enzyme that in neutralized in the cooking/heating process that makes them okay to eat for (most) people allergic to them. I’m definitely not saying GO BANANAS (heh) since I’m sure you know your allergy better than I do, but hey, this might work out okay. You see, I really love banana bread. I have a deep, passionate love of it. There’s just something about how warm it is, how well it keeps, and just really how homey it feels. Aww yiss, banana bread.

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This bread has received a lot of positive reviews! It’s not too sweet, but can still be a tasty dessert. It’s a good breakfast snack, both as regular ol’ bread and also as banana-chocolate-chip-french-toast (if you DO want to make it too sweet). It’s versatile and not-awful for you. It ships well too! I mailed a whole loaf to Alabama and it made it there intact. I am pro-bread. Yes. You don’t even need a mixer! 😀

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Ingredients

3 ripe to overripe bananas
1/3 cup melted coconut oil (I didn’t notice much of a difference between unrefined or refined)
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg (OR: 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce for a vegan option)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, or a plastic gallon bag, or your preferred method, mash bananas until no/few lumps remain (you may prefer chunks of banana in your bread – I don’t know your life). Mix in coconut oil until well integrated. Add egg, vanilla, and sugar and mix to combine. Sprinkle baking soda and salt over batter. Add flour and combine, then fold in chocolate chips.

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Spray a 4×8 inch loaf pan with cooking spray/grease it in your preferred method, and pour in batter. Bake for one hour. Let cool before removing from pan. It would probably be best to wrap leftovers with saran wrap or tin foil.

Recipe notes: If you want to use 4 bananas instead of three, it is much chewier and even more moist, especially when combined with 1/3 cup applesauce instead of an egg. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with this recipe.

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Champagne Cupcakes with Strawberry Champagne Buttercream

That title is too long.

But it’s a New Year! Woo, 2014! Suck it, 2013! What better way to celebrate than a little bubbly?

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I learned things at the store, like the difference between Brut and Champagne. Apparently something can label itself champagne if and only if it is brewed with a specific type of grapes from this specific region in France. What I’m saying is that no matter how late in the year it is, you can learn something new.

Does your family do anything specific for New Year’s meals? Isaac and I went to Augusta today and we had collards, stewed tomatoes, black-eyed peas, and some unidentified cut of pork that was… okay? Traditional southern meal. My brother and I hated it growing up, but hey, it’s tradition! Gotta have some luck, love, and money for the New Year, I guess.

Speaking of traditions/end of the year things, did you guys get anything cool for Christmas? I did!

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I got this really awesome cutting board. My friend Gordon’s mom gave it to me (as well as an awesome cook book with lots of recipes I will have to try out). 😀

Anyway – cupcakes. That’s what you’re here for, right? I like the flavor of these, but I’m not sure they will be my final batch. They’re somewhat sticky and probably always going to sink in the middle – can’t really get air bubbles out of champagne (unless we reduce it). If you *are* concerned about the aesthetic of your cupcake, maybe you could reduce it down. Let me know what your results are if you do try that.

But, otherwise, carry on. Icing is there to cover up the ugliness, after all!

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Champagne Cupcake
makes 12 cupcakes!

1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup milk (vegan option: almond, soy, coconut milk)
1/3 cup champagne/brut/bubbly thing
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For Buttercream:
1 cup champagne
1 stick unsalted butter, softed
3ish cups confectioners’ sugar
2-3 tablespoons pureed strawberries
6 strawberries, stems removed and cut in half

Preheat oven to 35o F! Line muffin tin with liners – I used shiny aluminum foil ones because I think New Year’s is the best time to have obnoxious shiny things in your face. See: GOLD EYESHADOW AND MATCHING GOLD SHOES. Yes.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

If desired, bring 1.5 cups champagne to a boil and reduce it until 1/3 cup champagne remains.

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In another bowl, combine milk, champagne, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Mix until relatively smooth. Fill cupcake liners until about 2/3 of the way full. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool!

For the icing:

Bring 1 cup of champagne to a boil and reduce until 2-3 tablespoons remain. Also, let cool. Set aside.

Cream butter with electric mixer until fluffy. Add 1 tbsp reduced champagne, 1 tbsp pureed strawberries, and 1/3 of the confectioners sugar and beat until smooth. Continue alternating with ingredients. Icing should be a very light pink and probably uniform in color. Spread/pipe onto cooled cupcakes and top with half a strawberry.

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Happy New Year!

Eggnog Scones

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This is my third scone recipe, but definitely not my last. I have a dark chocolate peppermint scone recipe that will come to you soon, I swear. Also, it’s really hard to find a scone recipe with a chocolate base, so that was my first baked recipe that I didn’t follow measurements and just threw things into a bowl. Anyway, this is not that recipe.

But this is a recipe that is still delightfully holiday-ey and warm and cozy. Eggnog scones! Yes! I totally went there!

If you’re an eggnog purist/snob, then this recipe may not be for you because it uses *gasp* a purchased eggnog! You could potentially make your own homemade eggnog and replace it with the store eggnog, but I can’t guarantee your results. If it doesn’t work out, you still have eggnog and that’s never a bad thing. I’ve never actually had ‘real’ eggnog, so I don’t know how similar Southern Comfort’s eggnog is to it. The good news about this recipe is that if you’re not really an eggnog person, then you can still try this. It’s got a spiced flavor (think clove, vanilla, nutmeg), so it’s not overwhelmingly noggy. Nog nog nog nog. Semantic satiation.

Also, more good news! I finally got a charger for my camera battery so I am no longer taking pictures with my (shattered) iPhone. Hooray!

So yes. Eggnog scones. Next week (hopefully), dark chocolate peppermint scones. Until then, enjoy your HOLIDAZE.

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Eggnog Scones
makes six scones

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup Southern Comfort brand eggnog (really, it’s the best. Accept it.)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 packet turbinado sugar
dash of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugars, most of the nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well. Cut in butter until well combined and crumbly. Ideally, it will resemble a coarse meal.

In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolk and the eggnog until well integrated. Combine the eggnog mixture and the flour mixture. The dough will be slightly sticky.

Pour dough onto a floured surface and knead about 10-15 times. Roll out until about an inch to an inch and half in thickness. Brush dough with eggnog, top with turbinado sugar as well as dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg. Take a floured knife and cut into six triangles.

Put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper about two inches apart. Bake at 425F for 13-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Pairs well with coffee!

I think these scones make an ideal breakfast scone. If you want to make them more dessert-y, then you could add chocolate chips or possibly pieces of fruit if you want to make them an eggnog x fruitcake abomination. I think they’re pleasant as they are!

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Orange Chocolate Scones

Ugh, I have been on an obnoxious scone kick. There will definitely be more scone recipes in the upcoming months (including, but definitely not limited to Raspberry Lemon and Dark Chocolate Peppermint). I’ve probably made these specific scones about four or five times since I first made them two weeks ago. They are my FAVORITE. They’re also kind of Christmassy? It’s like eating a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, but in pastry form that is also totally acceptable to eat for breakfast.

I’ve also learned that plain yogurt is an acceptable substitute for buttermilk – you can replace it one for one in recipes! This is great news, because I a) never have buttermilk in my house because I’m not my grandmother b) rarely even have whole milk in my house to mix with vinegar. I also don’t generally have the right type of vinegar on hand. So, really, finding out that something I almost always have in my house works just as well (if not better) is AWESOME.

Uh, so yeah. This recipe calls for plain Greek yogurt. Of which I pretty much have a bucket. If you’re really industrious, you can even make your own Greek yogurt, but that takes at least a day of prep time. 🙂

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Orange Chocolate Sconesmakes 6 scones

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 egg yolk (save the egg white)
1/4 heaping cup of plain Greek yogurt (closer to 3/8 of a cup?)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (or as many as you need)
1 packet turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 425F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange zest. Mix well. Cut in butter until well combined and crumbly. You may have to get your hands dirty, but a pastry blender will make your life easier.

In a small bowl (or the measuring cup, no judgment), beat the egg yolk and the yogurt until well integrated. Add to flour mixture and combine until a soft dough forms. It won’t be a sticky dough. Fold in chocolate chips.

Roll out onto a flour surface until about an inch to an inch and half in thickness. Take a floured knife and cut into six triangles. Put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper about two inches apart. Brush with remaining egg white and top with turbinado sugar. Bake at 425F for 13-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Try not to burn your mouth on the deliciousness.

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Whole Foods Flourless Cookies

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I’ve been meaning to make these for awhile – since we discovered them at Whole Foods this past summer, they’ve been Isaac’s favorite cookie. So, clearly, the best time to make them was when he decided to leave town Saturday night!

I was so-so on them, but having made them at home, I can see why he appreciates them. They’re more brownie-like than cookie-like, but infinitely easier to carry around in your bag or hands than a brownie. They have a crisp outside and a super chewy inside. They’re also a lot more chocolate-y than you might anticipate. I decided to tone down on the chocolate a little bit by swapping white chocolate chips for milk or dark chocolate chips.

ImageI will say that you can’t reuse your parchment paper for this recipe – the cookies are not particularly inclined to come off the sheets easily and will definitely leave residue behind. A few will probably break and I guess you’ll have to eat them. How sad! 😦

Thanks to Ross for hanging out in my kitchen while I made cookies this past weekend!

Flourless Chocolate Cookies
I made about 18 cookies, could possibly get 24? 

3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
4 egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 °F and line your baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine dry ingredients: powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt. Make sure it’s blended well. Fold in your chocolate chips. Add egg whites and vanilla. You could choose to beat with an electric mixture, but then you run the risk of over beating it/stiffening the batter, and I didn’t have any problem mixing it with a fork.

Using a small cookie scoop or a tablespoon, drop batter onto parchment paper. BATTER WILL BE RUNNY so you may want to be more conservative with the number of cookies on your sheet. I usually put no more than 8 cookies per sheet, but you may feel more comfortable with six.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies are glassy and cracked. DO NOT REMOVE IMMEDIATELY FROM PAN – allow them to cool for five to eight minutes, as otherwise you will break the cookies. Yes, these stick to parchment paper. Using a careful hand and a spatula, manipulate the cookies to come off the parchment paper. Hooray cookies!

Delicious suggestion: Swap vanilla extract for peppermint, add mint chocolate chips. Insta-Christmas cookies!

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APPLE PURGE: Boozy Bundt Cake!

“Kelley, did you use magic elves to make this cake?”

“What? Magic apples? I guess I used magic apples if you consider hard apple cider magic apples.”

I apparently can’t hear worth a damn. However, that does not invalidate the wonderfulness that is this cake. I’ve had two people since this morning ask me to mail this cake to them. IT ALSO HAS BOOZE IN IT. I ORIGINALLY MADE THIS CAKE ON TUESDAY AND THIS CAKE CAN TURN YOUR TUESDAYS INTO BOOZEDAYS WITH THIS CAKE. Also, were you aware at how many Tuesday puns there are? Bluesdays. Snoozedays. Shoesdays! I may take advantage of this knowledge in the future. Actually, I know I will. >:)

Regardless, this is a good, warm, happy cake to share with your friends and coworkers. 😀

Boozy Bundt Cake

3 cups flour
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves

3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup apple sauce
3/4 cup hard apple cider
1/4 cup brandy
1 tbs vanilla
3 chopped, cored, peeled apples

Glaze

3/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
hard cider

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix eggs, apple sauce, cider, brandy, and vanilla in a mixing bowl.
3. Combine dry ingredients.
4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Fold in apples.
5. Pour batter into a greased Bundt pan – bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
6. For the glaze, combine vanilla, sugars, and cinnamon. Add cider until your reach the desired consistency. Pour glaze over cake once it has cooled and refrigerate covered.

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APPLE PURGE: Apple Gruyere Scones

Ugh, I am so frustrated with these. I’ve made them twice, neither time I’ve been particularly satisfied with them, but they’re also not bad. They’re just not perfect. The first time, the smell was wonderful, they were beautiful, but the taste wasn’t alllllll the way where I wanted it to be. Too subtle – I wanted BOLD. These were not it.

So I tried again. Had a thicker grate so there was a denser amount of cheese. Lessened the sugar content. Spiced the apples. The dough was a little bolder and I had high expectations. I might have even been satisfied with them, had I not under cooked the scones due to all the things I was doing last night (cooking dinner, preparing for YouTube show, etc)… so, this recipe is a maybe. I can’t promise you’ll love it.

I also can’t promise pretty photos. The recipe only makes six scones at a time, and the pretty batch was eaten when it was too dark to take nice pictures. So, you have the ugly ones to deal with. Maybe I’ll brave this recipe again and be pleasantly surprised at how they come out.

Hmpf.

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Apple Gruyere Scones
makes 6 (adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Apple Cheddar Scones)

2 firm tart apples
dash of cloves, ground allspice
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt plus additional for egg wash
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup shredded gruyere, plus more for topping scones.
1/4 cup heavy cream (though I used whole milk)
2 large eggs

Position a rack at the center of oven and preheat oven to 375 °F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Peel and core apples, cut them into sixteen slivers, then cut those in half. Toss with a dash of cloves and wee bit of ground allspice. The picture above has what my apples looked like – no more than a teaspoon of cloves was used, but I don’t know specifically. Spread the apples in a single layer on the baking sheet and baked at 375 °F for 20 minutes. After taking them out of the oven, let them cool completely. This won’t take too long, but you can throw them in the freezer for two-three minutes to speed them up.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, along with cooled apple chunks, cheese, cream and one egg. If you don’t have a paddle attachment, just using a hand mixer with two beaters worked fine for me Sprinkle flour mixture over the top and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together. Do not overmix. The dough will probably be stickier than you anticipate.

Use a piece of parchment paper to line your countertop and sprinkle generously with flour. Pour your scone dough on the flour and sprinkle on top with more flour. Roll it out into a 6 inch circle, about an inch and a half in thickness. Flour a knife and cut into six scones, then transfer to baking sheet (also lined with parchment paper) leaving two inches of space between them.

Beat the egg and a pinch of salt together and brush over each scone. Then top each scone with a little shredded gruyere. BAKE UNTIL THEY ARE DONE AND NOT BEFORE THEN. The original recipe says for 30 minutes at 375 °F, but I would say at least 35-40 minutes (but keep an eye on them). They will smell wonderful and hopefully be what you want them to be.

Sigh.

Sigh.

BEGIN THE APPLE PURGE: Apple Bread

This past Sunday, Isaac and I went apple picking in upstate South Carolina with his dad. I’d never been apple picking before, but I love picking strawberries and other fruit that aren’t blackberries (hiss! brambles!). However, now I have a literal bushel full of apples that I have no real idea what to do with… so I’m going to be posting a lot of apple recipes over the next few weeks, I suppose?

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Among the beginnings of the apple purge is apple bread. I love, love, LOVE banana bread. Isaac is not the biggest fan of bananas – he’s actually allergic to them, but that is only to uncooked bananas, so I could probably get away with making banana bread if I really wanted to. However, this is… just wonderful. I made it last night while simultaneously roasting a chicken and also making applesauce. It’s amazing I didn’t set the house on fire (although I’ve left chicken stock to cook all day while I’m at work, so we’ll see how things look when I get home). Anyway, the batter is delicious and opening the oven when it’s done is like pure heaven (if I believed in that sort of thing) – just warm, cozy, and perfect.

I took one loaf to work today to share. One coworker said it tasted ‘just like fall’ and if that isn’t a ringing endorsement of how wonderful this bread is, I don’t know what would be. MAKE IT NOW.

This recipe actually makes two loaves from the bread pan I used, so you can have one for home and one for work. Or both for you. Either way.

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 cups white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg & cloves
2 balls of whole allspice ground up, or a little more than a dash of ground allspice
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

2 eggs
1/2 cup UNSWEETENED applesauce*
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 cups chopped, peeled apples (tart ones work best)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Topping:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp walnuts/almonds/pecans/your preferred nut?
1/3 cup cold butter

Preheat over to 350 F.

In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Make sure ingredients are well integrated. Inhale the delicious spiciness. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, oil, applesauce, and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients gradually, just until all nicely mixed in. Then fold in the apples!

For the topping, combine flour, brown sugar, and nut of choice. Cut cold butter (mash it with a fork!) until crumbly.

Spray two bread loaf pans with non-stick baking spray, then line with baking paper (at least that’s what I did – I was able to just lift the loaf out of the pan)! Pour in the batter evenly between the two pans. Sprinkle topping evenly over batter.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until you can stick a fork in it and have it come out clean. The topping will hard as it cools, leaving a nice sugary crunch on top.

*As I said, I was making applesauce last night, and it would be super easy to make some spiced applesauce for this recipe. If you choose to do so, lessen the spices from the dry ingredients and instead, spice to taste once everything is mixed in. If I’m feeling ambitious, I will post the recipe for spiced applesauce tomorrow. 🙂

Hello beautiful.

Hello beautiful.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake

That’s a lot of adjectives isn’t it?

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Well, that’s okay. It’s still unbelievably good. These Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies from How Sweet Eats are one my favorite things to eat in the fall. They’re so chewy on the inside but still have a wonderful crisp edge. They make the house smell warm and like the leaves are finally turning colors and like the humidity has finally waned here in South Carolina (it hasn’t). I saw How Sweet Eats’ no-bake cheesecake AS WELL AS some pumpkin flavored cream cheese at Trader Joe’s (!!!) and knew I had to combine them both. It has a long name, but it’s really simple to make!

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake (adapted from How Sweet Eats’ No Bake Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake)
serves 4 nicely, 6 conservatively

Ingredients: 

12 pumpkin chocolate chip cookies
6 ounces Trader Joe’s Pumpkin cream cheese, softened
4 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
1/2 tsp cloves (optional)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional)
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

Directions:

In a mixing bowl, mix the mascarpone and cream cheese.  Beat until well mixed and creamy. Sneak a taste, if you want. While the beaters are still going, pour in the sweetened condensed milk with the cloves. The cloves are definitely optional, but I mix them in anything that has pumpkin spice. Taste – if needed/you like an extra vanilla kick, add in vanilla extract and mix well.

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Take a gallon size plastic bag and put in the cookies. Beat those cookies up with your hand so you have cookie crumbs with some cookie pieces. Take 1/3 a cup of the cookie crumbs and add to cheesecake mixture, mixing them in.

If you have jars, then those would probably be best, but I used wine glasses and put two tablespoons of cookie crumbs to the bottom of each glass, then layered the cheesecake mixture on top, and then finished with extra cookie crumbs. Jessica recommends refrigerating these for 2-4 hours, but I didn’t have that much time and they were in the fridge for *at maximum* an hour before they were devoured. If you want, you can whip up some whip cream to top the cheesecake with, but I thought it turned out really great without it. 🙂

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