Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

By Nicole

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I love a good banana bread, and banana muffins are right up there on my list of great everyday baked goods, as well. A good banana muffin should have all the flavor of banana bread, but with the bonus of being even easier to make, since it requires a shortened baking time. I don’t always add mix-ins to my banana breads, however I often throw a generous handful of berries, nuts or even chocolate chips into my banana muffins to mix things up. These Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins are easy to make and absolutely delicious. They’re the kind of simple muffin recipe that should become a staple of your weekend baking – especially if you have any banana and chocolate lovers in your house!

The muffins are soft and moist, with a fluffy crumb that is the perfect for holding up plenty of chocolate chips. They have a great banana flavor and a nice balance of brown sugar and spice, without being too sweet. I didn’t skimp on the chocolate chips in these muffins, so you’re going to get some in every single bite. To make sure that I always have a good distribution, I like to use a combination of regular chocolate chips and mini chocolate chips in muffins like these. I used 1 cup of chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips. You’ll still get a generous dose of chocolate if you opt for only full size chips, but I like the speckled look and subtle chocolate flavor that the mini chips bring in.

The batter for these is fairly thick, and you can fill the muffin cups all the way up to the top. This, along with a relatively high baking temperature, will give you nicely domed muffins with golden brown muffin tops. These muffins keep very well after baking because they are so moist, so you can store them in an airtight container and enjoy them for several days after baking. They freeze well, too. The muffins are excellent plain because the chocolate chips give them a little extra richness, but they are also tasty when smeared with a little bit of salted butter or cream cheese.

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
2 large ripe bananas, mashed (approx 1 cup)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugars, egg, mashed bananas, vegetable oil and vanilla extract until very smooth. Stir in half of the flour mixture, followed by the buttermilk. Stir in remaining flour mixture, mixing just until no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups, filling muffin cups to the top.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs attached.
Turn muffins out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 12.

Source: Baking Bites


PostHeaderIcon What is a Baked Alaska?

By Nicole

 Baked Alaska

A Baked Alaska is a dessert with a long – and delicious – history. It is made by topping a piece of sponge cake with a generous scoop or slab of ice cream, then covering the whole thing in a thick layer of meringue and baking it. The meringue insulates the ice cream while the dessert is browning and you end up with a delicious mixture of flavors and textures, the most surprising of which is the ice cream center that doesn’t melt while it is in the oven! Many chefs are credited with the invention of the dessert, and there were many hot-and-cold dessert pairings served as ice cream became widely available, but the name “Baked Alaska” was coined at Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City in 1876 to honor the recently acquired American territory of Alaska.

Baked Alaska is not a difficult dessert to make at home, since it has only three components: cake, ice cream and meringue. You can easily put your own spin on the original recipe by using brownies or pound cake, instead of a plain sponge cake, and you can even use store-bought cake instead of homemade. The ice cream flavors can be mixed and matched to suit your tastes, too. The only element of this dessert that you can’t change is the meringue. You need to make a classic meringue with eggs and sugar to finish the dessert off properly, since the air pockets created by whipping the egg whites are what insulate the ice cream while the dessert is browning. It’s a fantastic dessert to impress a crowd with, and since the base can be prepared well in advance and frozen, it is a great make-ahead dessert when you want to serve something special without being pressed for time.

Source: Baking Bites


PostHeaderIcon Chef’n Cakewalk Cake Decorating Kit

By Nicole

Chef'n Cakewalk Cake Decorating Kit

You need some basic tools when you are decorating cakes. While you can get by with nothing more than an offset spatula if you need to, it makes your job a lot easier and give you a lot more decorating options if you have some pastry tips, piping bags and a turntable. The pastry tips and bags allow you not only to add finishing touches to a cake, but they can help you get that first layer of icing on neatly and efficiently. A turntable allows you to access all sides of the cake smoothly and evenly, so your ombre cakes will have an even gradient to them.

These tools can be a bit difficult to keep track of – especially the pastry tips, which are small and tend to get lost in drawers with other kitchen utensils – but there are quite a few boxes and toolkits out there that will help keep you organized. Few toolkits are as well put together as the Chef’n Cakewalk Cake Decorating Kit. The cakewalk set includes 12 small tips, 2 medium tips, 2 large tips, flower nail, small coupler and two pastry bags, which is a great starter set of baking accessories for most cake decorating projects. All of this is packed inside of a rotating turntable with a nonslip base that you can decorate your cakes on. To use the turntable, simply set a platter or cake board on top of the table, place your cake on top and decorate to your heart’s content. This means that your cake decorating supplies will take up half the room, since they’re stored inside of the turntable, and that everything will stay packed neatly together in between baking projects.

Source: Baking Bites


PostHeaderIcon Vanilla Bean Ricotta Cheesecake Souffles

By Nicole

Vanilla Bean Ricotta Cheesecake Souffles

Souffles are a fun dessert to make when you feel like baking something a little bit fancy, because many souffle recipes are not difficult to execute and they look very impressive when they’re done. One of my favorite souffle recipes is for my Yogurt Cheesecake Souffles, which capture the flavor of a cheesecake in a much lighter package. Cream cheese and yogurt aren’t the only ingredients used in cheesecake. Ricotta cheese is a versatile cheese that can add some lovely texture to a cheesecake – and it can also turn into another fantastic cheesecake souffle! These Vanilla Bean Ricotta Cheesecake Souffles are a great dessert, whether you’re looking an alternative to a traditional cheesecake or for a fantastic new souffle recipe to add to your repertoire.

The base of the souffle is very similar to a cheesecake batter, made with ricotta cheese, sugar, eggs, vanilla and a bit of flour. The main difference between this recipe and a traditional cheesecake is that the eggs are separated and the whites are folded in to the rest of the base. Ricotta cheesecakes are often flavored with lemon zest and cinnamon, but I opted to use vanilla beans to give the souffle a rich vanilla flavor. This recipe makes a small batch, so I only needed to use half of a vanilla bean to infuse the ricotta mixture with a lot of flavor and make sure that every bite had plenty of vanilla bean specks in it! The souffle is light and not too sweet, with a good vanilla and ricotta flavor to it. It is excellent on its own, and can be paired with fresh fruit or a fruit sauce to dress it up even more.

The souffles are fairly sturdy and they won’t fall if you open the oven door to check them for doneness, however they will fall somewhat after you take them out of the oven and they begin to cool down. Fortunately, these souffles are just as delicious when they have “fallen” as they are when they are puffed up. The fallen souffles have a denser, more cheesecake-like texture to them that is tasty at room temperature and when chilled. The souffles look like pretty little cakes when they fall, so if you turn them out of their ramekins, no one will ever know that they weren’t supposed to look that way in the first place! That being said, this recipe is very straightforward and you should have no problems with them turning out picture-perfect, even if this is your first souffle.

Vanilla Bean Ricotta Cheesecake Souffles

Vanilla Bean Ricotta Cheesecake Souffles
1 cup plain ricotta cheese
3 large egg yolks
3 large egg whites, room temperature
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 vanilla bean (or 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
1/3 cup sugar
butter and sugar, for ramekins

Preheat the oven to 400F.
Butter six 6-oz. ramekins.* Pour a small amount of sugar into each and roll the ramekins to coat (just like flouring a pan). Set on a baking sheet.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together ricotta cheese, egg yolks, flour, and salt.
Cut the vanilla bean in half with a paring knife and scrape out the seeds. Add to egg yolk mixture and stir to incorporate.
In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually stream in sugar and continue beating on medium-high speed until all sugar has been incorporated and egg whites have reached soft peaks.
Working in two or three batches, gently fold egg whites in to yolk mixture with a whisk or a spatula. Make sure all egg whites have been fully incorporated.
Divide mixture evenly into ramekins, using about 1/2 cup in each and leaving ramekins on the baking tray.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until evenly risen and lightly browned on top.
Serve immediately.

Makes 6.

*You can make four larger 8-oz servings by extending the baking time by about 5 minutes.

Source: Baking Bites


PostHeaderIcon Bites from other Blogs

By Nicole

Bites from other Blogs

  • Sweet corn is a wonderful ingredient to use during the summer, when it is fresh and in-season. There are many savory ways to prepare corn, but it can also be used in sweet preparations – after all, sweet is in the name! Hungry Rabbit baked up a Blueberry Corn Cake with Sweet Corn Frosting that perfectly illustrates how versatile corn can be. The main cake layers are made with fresh sweet corn that is pureed and reduced to intensify its flavor, along with cornmeal to give the cake a little extra texture. These layers are stacked together with a blueberry cake layer, made in much the same way, and held together with a blueberry filling. The cake is finished with a sweet corn white chocolate frosting and garnished, of course, with blueberries and corn kernels.
  • Plentytude‘s Frozen Honey Cheesecake Bars offer a way to enjoy a rich, creamy cheesecake on a hot afternoon when you need something to cool you down, as well as to fill you up. The cheesecake bars are made with a graham cracker crust and a very simply honey-sweetened cream cheese topping. The honey contrasts well with the slight tang of the cream cheese, and a hint of lemon juice makes all the flavors pop. The bars can also be eaten at room temperature, but the frozen version is a treat well-worth trying at least once!
  • Caramel-topped upside down cakes are always a good way to enjoy fruit and cake. The Beeroness made a perfect-for-fall upside down cake Caramel Apple Brown Ale Cake that is a great alternative to apple pie. The cake starts with a creamy ale-infused caramel sauce and sliced, fresh apples. It is topped with a spiced cake made with cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and brown ale, which gives it a rich and surprisingly complex flavor that blends beautifully with the caramel. Serve slices while they are still warm from the oven, topped with ice cream or whipped cream!
  • Fresh peach cobbler is a wonderful dessert, but it is comfort food that you want to curl up with, not necessarily serve to company. One way to dress up cobbler is to bake it in individual dishes, rather than one large casserole dish. These Mini Peach Cobblers that FashionEdible baked are the perfect way to dress up some comfort food for a party. The cobblers have a brown sugar and peach filling that is spiked with triple sec, and they are topped with a tender buttermilk biscuit layer. If you’re not entertaining, these single-serving desserts can still be curled up with on the couch, just like the full size dessert!
  • If you’re looking for a more casual apple dessert, Taste of Lizzy T‘s Apple Butterscotch Snack Cake is a cake that you can enjoy in the middle of the afternoon or after dinner. The cinnamon-spiced cake is loaded with walnuts, fresh apples and butterscotch chips. The nuts add crunch, while the apples add a juicy-tart flavor. The butterscotch chips, while they can be overly sweet in some recipes, blend in with all the other flavors in this cake perfectly, adding a balanced brown sugar sweetness to each bite. With its short ingredient list, this is the kind of cake that is easy to make, in addition to being delicious, and it just might become a fall staple in your kitchen.

Source: Baking Bites


PostHeaderIcon How to Substitute for Self Rising Flour

By Nicole

Scooping flour

Self rising flour is an ingredient that appears in many recipes for cakes and biscuits. It is a premixed blend of baking powder, salt and flour that is handy to have in the kitchen because it allows you to bake without having to make too many separate measurements. As a recipe writer, it can also allow you to streamline recipes by bundling all those components in one single item on the ingredient list! Jokes aside, self rising flours do have other advantages. Self rising flours are known for being easy to use, but they are primarily known for producing light, fluffy baked goods. This is because many brands of self rising flour have a lower protein content than all purpose flour. This means that they contain less gluten and will yield a more tender finished product. While the protein content can vary from flour to flour, self rising flour is more similar to cake flour (approx 8% protein) than to all purpose flour (approx 11% protein) much of the time.

If you only have one type of flour in your pantry, it is probably all purpose flour and it is entirely possible to make a great self rising flour substitute with it. If you happen to have cake flour, you can make a stand in for self rising flour that will produce a slightly more tender result.

With all purpose flour: Combine 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt. Substitute for 1 cup of self-rising flour.

With all purpose and cake flour: Combine 1/2 cup all purpose flour, 1/2 cup cake flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt. Substitute for 1 cup of self-rising flour.

These recipes can be scaled to make small batch recipes using up to three cups of flour. If you need a huge quantity of self rising flour – if you are baking a batch recipe of biscuits for a 100+ person picnic, or something – you are likely to be better off just picking up a bag (or three) of regular self rising flour at your local retailer to save yourself some trouble!

Source: Baking Bites


PostHeaderIcon Ice Cream Parlor Mixing Set

By Nicole

Ice Cream Parlor Mixing Set

There are two types of ice cream shops. At one, you can get a couple of scoops in the bowl or cone of your choice. In the other, ice cream scoopers knead your ice cream on a marble slab, incorporating fruits, candies and other mix-ins, to create a custom ice cream flavor before transferring it to your bowl or cone. You really can’t go wrong with any ice cream, but the customization and the show offered by the latter type of ice cream shop is what keeps fans coming back time after time. Their secret is an ice-cold marble slab, where they can work the ice cream without it melting. You can recreate this technique at home using this Parlor Ice Cream Mixing Set. The set includes a marble slab, three bowls for mix-ins, two mixing spades and a neat bamboo tray to keep everything together.

The marble slabs at those big ice cream stores are chilled from the inside, but this small slab can be chilled in the freezer. You will need to put it in the freezer a few hours before you need to use it, however it doesn’t take up much space (since it is flat) and will maintain the chill long enough to make many batches of mix-in ice creams. You might not need to put on a show for yourself every time you want a serving of ice cream, but this set is a huge hit with kids and it is also a lot of fun at parties, where you might want to add a little something extra to dessert. Start with either homemade vanilla ice cream or storebought, and get creative with your toppings!

Source: Baking Bites


PostHeaderIcon Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Cake

By Nicole

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Cake

A great birthday cake should be just as memorable as the occasion that you’re serving it on. After all, a birthday cake only gets served once a year – you need to make it count! Cupcakes and layer cakes are popular choices for celebrations, but I happen to be partial to ice cream cakes. Ice cream cakes are a rare treat that are easy to make at home and are definitely worthy of becoming a birthday cake. This Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Cake is definitely worthy of a special occasion.

The cake has a fantastic combination of flavors and textures to it, from the creamy ganache covering the exterior of the cake to the crisp waffle cookies at the center. It is elegant and, while it does have several components, it is actually quite easy to assemble! The cake starts out with a chocolate sponge cake. The sponge cake isn’t as rich as some chocolate cake recipes, but it is very flexible, which makes it a perfect choice for a cake like this one, which requires a bit of sculpting! The cake is cut into several rectangles so that it can line the bottom and sides of a loaf pan. Once the cake slices are in place, the center is filled with mint chocolate chip ice cream and a layer of Bahlsen Waffeletten cookies, which are chocolate-dipped rolled cookies made from very thin Belgin waffle wafers. The cookies add a great look and texture to each slice of the cake, and add a hint of waffle cone flavor to the ice cream filling. One last slice of cake is placed over the top of the ice cream filling to hold everything firmly in place.

Bahlsen Waffeletten Cookies

This is, by far, better than any of the birthday ice cream cakes that I ever had has a child, even though I had quite a few mint chocolate chip ice cream cakes in my day. The combination of rich ganache, fluffy cake, creamy ice cream and crispy cookies is just about heaven!

The ganache glaze will start to set up as soon as you pour it onto the frozen cake. I glaze the cake on a cooling rack so that excess ganache (you can save it for a treat later!) will run off the sides and not pool around the cake. You can store the cake in the freezer once it is glazed, if you want to prepare it in advance, but otherwise you can simply transfer the freshly-glazed cake directly to your serving platter. Garnish the cake with extra Waffeletten cookies or top it with candles, if you decide to bake this up for a birthday celebration of your own!

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Terrine

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Cake

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup water

Filling and Topping
12 Bahlsen Waffeletten cookies
approx 6 cups mint chocolate chip ice cream
4 oz heavy cream
4 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 oz milk chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a 10×15-inch roll pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, beat together egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar until sugar is dissolved and mixture has doubled in volume. Stir in one third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the water and the vanilla extract. Stir in another third of the flour mixture, followed by the rest of the water and the remaining flour mix.
In another large bowl, beat egg whites until they are very foamy. With the mixer on high, gradually blend in remaining 1/2 cup sugar, beating until the egg whites hold soft peaks. Fold egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
Pour cake batter into prepared pan and spread into an even layer.
Bake for 11-15 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and turn the cake out onto a cooling rack. Peel back parchment paper and allow cake to cool completely.

Line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap.
Cut pieces of the chocolate cake to fit the bottom, sides and the top of the pan. If you find that you need to mix and match sizes, the best pieces to fudge the shape are the edges.
Place the bottom and size pieces into place. Fill the cake cavity half way up with ice cream and spread into an even layer. Place three rows of four Waffeletten cookies each into the ice cream, then fill the pan almost to the top with the remaining ice cream. Place the top piece of cake into place, wrap the pan firmly in plastic wrap and freeze until solid, at least 6 hours.
When cake is frozen and you are ready to serve, prepare the ganache glaze.
In a small saucepan, bring cream to a simmer.
In a medium bowl, combine dark and milk chocolate. Pour simmering cream over the chocolate and stir gently with a spatula until the chocolate melts. If necessary, reheat mixture in 10-15 second intervals in the microwave if the chocolate does not melt completely. Allow ganache to cool and thicken slightly, about 10-15 minutes.
Pour ganache over the cake, using an offset spatula to spread it into an even layer on the top and sides. Ganache will set in 1-3 minutes. Place cake onto cake plate and serve immediately, using a sharp knife to cut slices.
Leftovers can be stored in the freezer.

Serves 8-10.

Disclosure: This post is not being sponsored by Bahlsen, however the recipe is being submitted to Bahlsen’s “Let the Good Times Roll” birthday cake contest.

Source: Baking Bites


PostHeaderIcon Paleo Ice Cream

By Nicole

Paleo Ice Cream

Cavemen – except for the Flintstones – didn’t eat ice cream, but ice cream is a treat that most of us enjoy in the summer, even modern cavemen and cavewomen who follow the paleo diet. Paleo Ice Cream: 75 Recipes for Rich and Creamy Homemade Scoops and Treats is a cookbook full of paleo-oriented recipes for delicious homemade treats that will let you stock your very modern freezer with goodies that will get you through a hot weekend. The book definitely doesn’t deliver recipes that cavemen would have eaten, but since it sticks to the guidelines of “paleo” eating very loosely, it is actually a good source of mostly dairy free, naturally sweetened ice cream recipes that are flavorful and easy to make.

The book is divided into several chapters based on flavors, from classic ice cream staples to adventurous flavors, such as olive oil ice cream and black peppercorn ice cream. There are chapters dedicated to sorbets, frozen custards and vegan ice creams, and you’ll even find recipes for homemade toppings and ice cream cones towards the end of the book that will let you serve your ice cream in style. The book begins with an introduction to the methodology behind the recipes. The author discusses techniques and ingredients, and is very upfront about the types of substitutions that you can make in these recipes to ensure that they conform to your dietary restrictions – caveman-oriented, or otherwise. Most of the recipes use coconut milk and almond milk as a base, though there are a handful that use bananas and cashew butter as a base, as well.

The recipes are clearly written and easy to follow, and while you will get the best results from using an ice cream maker, it is also possible to make these without one. The author provides many suggestions for mix-ins and substitutions, as well as including useful tips for storing your ice cream and keeping it from getting too icy in the freezer.

Source: Baking Bites


PostHeaderIcon Buttermilk Maple French Toast

By Nicole

Buttermilk Maple French Toast

French toast batter has two main components: eggs and milk. You can use either regular milk or non-dairy milk, depending on what you have in your refrigerator. In all the years I have been making french toast, it never occurred to me to make it with buttermilk instead of regular milk, but it is actually an excellent choice for french toast. Buttermilk has a slightly thicker consistency than regular milk, yielding a slightly creamier custard mixture, and a soft tang that gives the french toast a little extra complexity. After tasting my Buttermilk Maple French Toast you will probably be hooked, too.

The base for this french toast is eggs, buttermilk, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Some french toast batters don’t use sweeteners, but since buttermilk is so tangy, it is nice to have a little extra sweetness in the mix to balance things out. You only need a small amount of maple syrup, since you’re going to pour more over your french toast when you go to serve it. I use a white bread or a rich, eggy bread, such as challah or brioche, for making french toast because these types of bread really absorb the flavors in the custard base. You’re going to taste buttermilk, maple and vanilla in every bite of your breakfast.

This is a relatively small batch recipe that is good for serving just two or three people using sandwich-type bread. If you are using very thick-cut bread, you may find that you need to double the recipe to account for the amount of custard that is going to be absorbed by each slice. Cook your french toast in a lightly greased or nonstick pan until it is golden on both sides. The bread should spring back when gently pressed, as that is an indicator that your toast is cooked all the way through and will not be soggy in the center.

Buttermilk Maple French Toast

Buttermilk Maple French Toast
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 slices white bread or brioche

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, maple syrup and vanilla extract. When well-combined, pour into a large, shallow dish.
Preheat a nonstick or lightly greased griddle over medium heat.
Preheat a griddle or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Dip the bread, one piece at a time, into the buttermilk mixture. Allow each side to soak thoroughly, poking the slice with a fork to saturate it. Transfer to hot pan with a spatula. Cook until golden, about 3-5 minutes, then flip and cook until golden on the second side, 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately, and repeat with remaining slices of bread.
Recipe can be doubled to serve more.

Serves 2-3

Source: Baking Bites


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