Sugar and Spice Nuts

You know how sometimes you’re thinking all “Hey! I want to make [insert incredible recipe you saw on Pinterest/Facebook/Favorite Food Blog], because it looks amazingly scrumptious and I’ve been wanting it since I laid eyes on it”.  But your cabinets are all “Ha, no! That bag of [mystery ingredient here] got swallowed into the abyss of Dark Cabinet Land, so. no.”  I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve gone to the cabinet and an essential, yet missing, ingredient has gone rouge somehow.

Good news! These spicy + sweet nuts can be made regardless of the ingredient stealing cabinet monster.  These crunchy morsels only take a few ingredients, and simple (minimal!) preparation.

Bad news, they are really easy to just nibble on and before you know it, whoops!  Half the pan is gone.  Just like the Halloween candy that you were supposed to save for the trick-or-treaters, buuuut who would notice if you didn’t turn the porch light on and ate the good candy anyway?

This recipe can be modified and flipped up so many ways that it’s just crazy.  The nuts/sugar mixture has an almost brittle-like texture, but not quite as hard, while also acting like a nut bark at the same time.  This means this recipe is completely versatile according to what you have on hand.   Throw in some salty pretzels, M and Ms, popcorn, anything that won’t melt under the heat of the baking would be a perfect addition.  

Let’s mix it up, let it bake and go eat Halloween candy on the couch, are you with me?

Sugar and Spice Nuts

3 cups mixed nuts, any kind you have (I used peanuts, walnuts, and almonds)

1 flax egg (or 1 egg white)

1 tbs. orange juice

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 tbs. grated orange peel

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp. ginger

  • Combine nuts and spices in large bowl, set aside.
  • Whisk together egg (flax or egg white),  orange juice, orange peel, and sugar in separate bowl.
  • Mix egg and sugar mixture in well with nut mixture.  Spread in rimmed cookie sheet or 15×10 pan.
  • Bake at 275 for 50 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. The mixture may not be crispy at this point, but once it has been removed from oven and cooled the mixture will harden.
  • Cool and store in airtight container for up to a week.

Homemade Oreos

Did you notice? It’s that time of year…

That time of year where it’s almost Halloween so you start thinking about all the candy you’re going to eat (that you might buy for the non-existent trick or treaters because ohwhat I forgot to turn the porch light on!), then you turn to thinking about all the crazy good indulgent  recipes that will be consumed on Thanksgiving, and before you know it BAM it’s Christmas and you’ve been on a sugar/carb/butter high since mid-October. Because  we all know the months of October through December are “freebies”, right?!

Let’s just get that butter/sugar thing started now, just to get a head start.  Besides, these are possibly a bit healthier (er, I know, no form of Oreos are falling in the bottom half of the food pyramid) than the store bought kind and are completely customizeable.   If you are inpatient, like me, you can stick the cookies into the freezer to cool them down faster.  If the cookies are iced too soon after they are taken out of the oven, the frosting will melt and become a big puddle of butter and sugar.

I used a shot glass to cut out my cookies after being rolled into a sheet, rather than cut them from the log as the recipe suggests.  It’s really up to what kind of mood you’re in and how big you want your cookies to be.

Color the filling! Cut the dough into shapes! Eat the frosting while standing over the sink! (Leftovers are free game) Make mini cookies! Make them into cat faces!  The possibilities of this silky frosting and chocolaty cookie combo are endless…

Just like the array of holiday goodies that are going to start rolling out soon. Welcome to holiday season, bust out your sweatpants and get ready for an epic holiday food-induced nap!

Homemade Oreos

adpated from Bakerella

Cookies
1 cup  unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled (I used Earth balance)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted and slightly cooled
1 egg (I used egg replacer)
1 1/2 cups  unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Filling
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (again, Earth Balance)
1 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
Pinch of kosher salt
Food color, optional

In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar until well combined. Whisk in the vanilla and chocolate. Whisk in the egg until combined.

In another bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, salt and soda until combined. Stir flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. Mix with your hands if it helps to combine the two. Let the dough sit for an hour to firm up.

This is where you can decide if you want to cut the dough into traditional circles or roll the dough out and cut it into the shape of your preference.  I took small chunks of dough and rolled until about 1/4 inch thick and cut out my circles, but the traditional directions are as follows.

Traditional: Transfer the dough to a sheet of wax paper. Shape into a log about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Place log along the edge of wax paper and roll. Shape as you roll to maintain a smooth cylinder. Twist ends of paper to secure and help keep the shape compact. Refrigerate at least two hours or until firm. If log settles and flattens on one side, rotate every 15 minutes or so to maintain a round shape.

Heat oven to 325 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut dough in quarter inch thick slices and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until cookies are firm to the touch. Just watch them because it’s hard to tell by looks if they are done since they are so dark to begin with. These baked in batches well, so bake a few to test if you have time. And if your cookies are smaller, adjust the baking time.

Cool cookies and prepare the filling. In a mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add milk and salt and continue beating until smooth again. Place about a tablespoon of filling on the bottom of one cookie and sandwich with a second.

Stuffed Peanut Butter Cups

Sometimes, you just need a big chunk of chocolate stuffed with peanut butter with a dash of crunch.  It was Monday yesterday, so we deserve these, right? RIGHT!

 

I think we should celebrate getting through a Monday, let’s make these extra delicious peanut butter cups to keep a head of steam through the week.

 

Ritz crackers bring the salty/crunchy factor. Vegan chocolate chips bring the..chocolate (no explaining to be done there). Peanut butter brings some texture to the party.

 

Everything gets melted, dropped into muffin cups and frozen, easy peasy! (spell check is telling me ‘peasy’ isn’t a word, so wrong!)

 

The layer line up is chocolate, cracker, peanut butter, and more chocolate.  Obviously you know at this point that the worst part is waiting for these to freeze!  Trust me, if you try to take them out too soon you end up with a half melted peanut butter cup and are faced with ‘do I just inhale it or re-freeze it??’.

 

I ate it to save it from melting (duh), it had to be done.

But really, don’t do what I did with these cups of sweet goodness.  I completely overfilled each cup, globbing the peanut butter on like nobody’s business and ending up with a peanut buttery mess because the cups were too full. But! The good news is that these still tasted like creamy Reese’s cup stuffed with a crunchy center, so it is a winner without a doubt.  The sweet chocolate with the crunch of the Ritz cracker and salty factor of the peanut butter is a dynamite  combo.

I didn’t have paper muffin liners on hand, but I’m sure it would make the removal of these much, much easier.  The faster/easier you can get these cups out of the pan, the better.  Go celebrate another start of the week, it’s almost Wednesday!

Stuffed Peanut Butter Cups

Makes 4

adapted from Averie Cooks

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted (I used vegan )

4 Ritz Crackers

6 teaspoons peanut butter

Place four paper muffin liners inside a muffin tin .

Melt the chocolate chips in a  bowl and spoon 1 tbs. of melted chocolate into the bottom of each muffin liner.

Place liners into the freezer for 5 minutes until the chocolate sets up.  While the chocolate is setting, spread each of the four crackers with peanut butter, using about 1 ½ teaspoons of peanut butter for each cracker.

Remove the muffin liners from the freezer and  place one peanut butter-covered cracker in each cup.  Cover the top of each cup with the remaining chocolate.

Freeze or refrigerate the cups until chocolate has set up before unwrapping.

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hello there!  Guess what? I made you cookies.  Because it’s Friday.  Because Friday=almost weekend.  AND because you’re awesome and deserve to have a cookie embedded with 3 kinds of chocolate. Ready? Let’s do this thing!

(p.s. I just broke so many grammar rules, starting sentences with because and And, but I hope these cookies will help you forgive me)

We gather the cookie essentials, we mix, we add in this gorgeous chocolate last.  You heard me, 3 kinds of chocolate! Let’s get down with underrated white chocolate, mysterious dark chocolate, and the old semi sweet chocolate standby.

The best thing about these particular cookies is the actual dough to chip ratio.  It’s about 40 percent dough and 60 percent chips, making for a “BAM there are lots of chocolate chips up in here” kind of cookie instead of a “um, where is the chocolate?” kind of cookie.

Word of advice: when mixing up the dough, add the chocolate chips last and only mix until incorporated.  If you get mix crazy the chips will break up and won’t give you the wonderful dough to chip texture, we want that!

These cookies are not only chip-tastic (What? Not a word? now it is!) but they also have less butter than a normal chocolate chip cookie.  Mashed banana replaces some of the butter, and the sugar is reduced to account for the sweetness added by the banana.  If you aren’t a huge banana fan, no worries.  These only have the fainest hint of banana flavor, if any at all, the chocolate covers it up nicely.  Make sure to use very ripe bananas to ensure that they will be soft enough to incorporate into the batter.

So many good things are happening in these little morsels of goodness.

Have another, it’s almost the weekend, and there’s fruit in them, so they’re healthy..right?

Btw, they are vegan!

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

adapted from the Baking cookbook by Williams Sonoma

makes 24 cookies

1/2 c. whole wheat four

3/4 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 c. butter (I used Earth Balance)

1/4 c. very ripe, finely mashed banana

1/2 c. packed brown sugar

3 tbs. granulated sugar

1 egg (or replace with Ener-G egg replacer,which I used)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

3/4 c. white chocolate chips

3/4 c. dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat liner.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl, set aside.

Make sure banana is completely mashed and all chunks are smoothed out. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter, banana, brown sugar, and granulated sugar.  Beat on medium until thoroughly combined and banana is incorporated.   Make sure no large banana pieces are left.

Add egg (or egg substitute) and vanilla and beat on low speed until incorporated. Slowly add the dry ingredients on low until combined.  Mix in all chocolate chips until just incorporated into batter.

Form or drop dough into heaping tablespoon sized balls and place on prepared baking sheet, spacing cookies 2 inches apart.  This is important because if the cookies are too close, they won’t bake properly!

Bake cookies until browned on edges and tops feel firm to the touch, 10-13 minutes.  Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely