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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Flourless blueberry almond muffins (Kosher for Passover)

Passover is here!  While some people I know (whose names will not be mentioned, but they know who they are) lament over the lack of food options during Passover.  Some might even say they *whine* about it.  But I digress.  Bottom line is: food options are limited.  However, one can at least attempt to make lemons out of lemonade, as I have tried.


First off, in a #juliebakesgoessavory endeavor, I made almond crusted chicken fingers for dinner the other night (check it out on my instagram feed).  Then I saw a recipe for Kosher for Passover Almond-Bluberry Muffins, and thought that (a) they sounded delicious, (b) B would love them, and (c) I already had almond meal on hand from the chicken fingers!


I made a few adjustments given what I had at home (Turbinado sugar instead of demerara, sweetened (cinnamon) applesauce instead of unsweetened, and slivered almonds instead of sliced), but they turned out absolutely delicious.  Just a heads up -- I followed the directions and ended up filling the 12 muffin tins and still had enough leftover batter to make 4 more muffins!

And an added bonus?  They're totally gluten-free (or at least can be made that way).  I don't do much gluten-free baking, but between the almond meal and coconut flour I picked up recently, I'm sure I could get int it a little more...

Hope everyone has a wonderful Passover!

Flourless Almond-Blueberry Muffins
(Kosher for Passover, and can be made gluten-free!)
From Epicurious

Ingredients:

2.5 cups almond meal
1 tsp ground cinnamon
5 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 tsp kosher salt (crushed between your fingers as you add it)
1/2 pint (about 1 1/3 cups)
Sliced almonds (for sprinkling)
Demerara or raw sugar (for sprinkling)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners (keep a few extra liners around, in case you have extra batter).
Whisk almond meal and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
Set aside.

Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat egg yolks, granulated sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until pale and doubled in size, about 3 minutes.
Add almond meal mixture and apple sauce.
Stir just to combine.

In another bowl: use an electric mixer on high speed to beat the egg whites and salt (crushing it between your fingers as you add it to the egg whites) until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.
Add half of the egg white mixture to the almond meal mixture.
Fold to combine.
Then add remaining egg white mixture.
Fold to combine.
Gently fold in blueberries.

Divide the batter among muffin cups (I filled mine full and then had enough batter to make 4 more muffins).
Top with almonds and demerara sugar.

Bake muffins until tops are golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes (mine took 25 minutes).
Transfer to a wire rack.
Let cool in pan for at least 10 minutes before serving.

*They can be made 3 days ahead.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Bolognese sauce

I know, I know.  This is clearly not baked nor is it something sweet (most of the things on Julie Bakes are at least 1 if not both of those things), but seeing as I baked two things yesterday, and have another on the agenda for today, I needed to mix things up a little.  Plus, B and I have been bringing in a lot lately (busy schedules, little time to cook), and I wanted to make a home cooked meal for us.  So I had the day off today, I got my exercise in this morning, and B was at work all day, so I set out to make something tasty.


One of the things we tend to pick up is the fusilli Bolognese from a local restaurant -- at the recommendation of one of B's friends -- and it's delicious.  So I googled Bolognese recipes and the first one that came up was Marcella Hazan's recipe.  I've seen her recipes featured on a lot of the foodie sites that I look at, and so I went right with that one, because if people rave about her recipes...well, you get it.  Her tomato sauce (which I haven't made yet), it supposed to be amazing!

This recipe is time intensive, but in the best way possible.  Cooking down the milk before adding in the wine, and cooking that down as well, and finally adding the tomatoes makes the sauce rich and delicious.  The final cooking time -- a minimum of 3 hours! -- makes the sauce tasty and full of flavor.

In the future I'd probably adjust things a little (less wine, more tomatoes), but this sauce is a keeper!  It would probably be great for a dinner party, since the last 3 hours of cooking are mostly watching and don't involve a lot of hands-on time.

Marcella Hazan's Bolognese Sauce
Found on the NY Times website

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp vegetable oil (I used olive oil, since we didn't have vegetable oil)
3 Tbsp butter, plus 1 Tbsp for tossing the pasta
1/2 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup chopped carrot
3/4 pound ground beef chuck (or you can use 1 part pork (1/4 pound) to 2 parts beef (1/2 pound)).  I used generic ground beef'
Salt
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill (we don't have a pepper mill -- something to register for, perhaps?! -- so I used regular ground pepper)
1 cup whole milk
Whole nutmeg (I used already ground nutmeg, which B and I don't particularly love, so I used about 1/16 tsp)
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups canned imported Italia plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds pasta
Freshly grated parmigiana-reggiano cheese, at the table

Directions:

Put the oil, butter, and chopped onion in the pot.
Turn the heat on to medium.
Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent.
Add the celery and carrot.
Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat them well.

Add the ground beef, a large pinch of salt, and a few grindings of pepper.
Crumble the meat with a fork.
Stir well and cook until the beef has lots it's raw, red color.

Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely.
Add a tiny grating -- about 1/8 tsp (I used half of that) -- of nutmeg.
Stir.

Add the wine.
Let it simmer until it has evaporated.
I added a pinch of salt and some pepper here to taste.
Add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all the ingredients well.
When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through the surface.

Cook, uncovered, for 3 hour or more, stirring from time to time.
While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to see that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat.
To keep it from sticking, add 1/2 cup of water whenever necessary (I added 1/4 cup water after about 40 minutes).
At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce.
Taste and correct for salt.

Toss the sauce with the cooked, drained pasta, adding the tablespoon of butter.
Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese on the side.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Unicorn bars

Sometimes a recipe just calls to me, and I feel compelled to make it, even if I don't have a reason/event to make it for. I saw these "unicorn bars" a while ago and wanted to make them.  Time got away from me, and the other day I received a shipment of sprinkles (gorgeous, stunning sprinkles that I ordered from the amazing sweetapolita!) and realized they'd look stunning on these bars!


So I set out to make them.  I realized that my new sprinkles (given their varying sizes, textures, and make-up (some have sixlets (chocolate-filled candies) in them) probably wouldn't mix into the bars well, so I used rainbow sprinkles for the bars themselves, and topped them with the fancy sprinkles.  (And I had fun playing around with my macro lens for my iPhone and took these close-ups of the sprinkles!)


Basically, they're a glorified funfetti cookie base covered in vanilla buttercream (in fun colors!!) and then topped generously with beautiful sprinkles (I used a combination of 4 different kinds of sprinkles -- some regular rainbow sprinkles and 3 different pretty sprinkles mixes that I had bought [in even amounts, because I'm OCD], minus the few sixlets that I picked out and ate while I was making the icing.....but shhhh, no one else needs to know that!). 


These really are gorgeous bars, and super tasty, too!  I made sure to package up a bunch for B to bring to work this weekend, and some others for drinks I have dinner plans with for tomorrow evening.

Unicorn Bars
from Cookies & Cups

Ingredients:

For the bars:

1 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 tsp kosher salt (I recommend crushing it between your fingers as you add it)
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sprinkles

For the frosting:

1 cup butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp milk
Blue food coloring
Pink/red food coloring (I ended up using some pink and then a drop of purple to get a richer purple)
Sprinkles for garnish

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Line a 9 x 13" pan with foil, and coat the foil with nonstick spray
Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar.
Add in the vanilla, eggs, and salt.
Whisk until smooth.
Using a rubber spatula, stir in the flour until just combined.
Finally, stir in the sprinkles.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the edges are set. 
The bars might seem underdone, but allow them to cool completely.

Make the frosting.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter for 1-2 minutes until it's smooth.
Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the powdered sugar.
Next, add in 2 tablespoons of milk.
Mix on medium speed until it's creamy, scraping the sides as necessary.
If the frosting is too stiff, add in 1 more tablespoon of milk until the desired consistency is reached.
Finally, add in 1-2 drops of blue food coloring.
Mix until a pale blue color is reached and evenly mixed.
Remove half of the frosting and place in a piping bag.  I chose not to use a piping tip on it, but you can use any tip that you'd like.
To the remaining frosting in the bowl, add 1-2 drops of pink/red food coloring or purple (if you have) and mix again until a pale purple/lavender color is reached and evenly mixed.
Add purple frosting to another piping bag.

Pipe or spread the frosting on top of the bars.
The original blogger piped rich swirls of frosting on the bars before cutting them  I was afraid that it would get too messy, so I cut them and then piped a little dallop of either the blue or purple frosting on top.

Garnish with more sprinkles, if desiredDefinitely, definitely liberally apply sprinkles!

Note: If you pipe the frosting on the uncut bars, with glorious swirls as the original blogger did, you will need to double the amount of frosting.  If you pipe it as I did, half the frosting recipe should be enough, but I'd make a full batch of frosting depending on how big you cut the bars (mine were quite small, about 1 x 1").

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Bouchon Bakery chocolate chip and chunk cookies

The past few weeks have been a bit hectic in our apartment.  In summary: 2 people with the flu, one medication adverse effect, four pots of chicken soup, gallons of Gatorade, and a delicious cookie from a bakery.  


See, I had to run some errands and while doing so, in an attempt to kill time before a meeting, went into Bouchon Bakery in Rockefeller Center.  There I bought a chocolate chip cookie that was mind-blowingly amazing.  So amazing, in fact, that when I went back two days later to pick up something I had dropped off on my last trip there, I picked up one for B.


The first day I had that cookie, I googled the recipe when I got to work. I found a few versions online.  I thought I was so smart!  Until I got home and remembered that I actually had the Bouchon Bakery cookbook...and the recipe was in it!


So at the tail end (I hope!!) of the week plus of illness, I set out to make these cookies. It was kinda my way of telling the germs that I was celebrating their demise, intimidating them into leaving our home for good!  Good riddance, germs!  And welcome, delicious cookies!!

The recipe for these cookies said it made 6 giant cookies.  I ended up making 3 giant cookies, and in realizing just how giant they were, made the next two batches smaller.  I sent them to work with B, and they were met with lots of "oohs" and "aaahs" -- the same exact response that we gave them here in the apartment!

Bouchon Bakery Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookies
From the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups + 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 3/4 tsp unsulfured blackstrap molasses
1/2 cup + 1 tsp granulated sugar
2/3 cup 3/8" chocolate 70-72% chocolate
Scant 1/2 cup chocolate chips
5.9 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 Tbsp + 2 1/2 tsp eggs

Directions:

Place flour in a medium bowl.
Sift in the baking soda.
Add the salt (I recommend crushing it between your fingers when you add it).
Whisk together.

Place the dark brown sugar in a bowl.
Add the molasses and granulated sugar.
Mix well, breaking up any lumps.
The mixture will not be smooth.

Place the chocolate chunks in a strainer and tap the side to remove any powdered chocolate (it would cloud the cookies).
Mix with the chocolate chips.

Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Turn to medium-low speed and cream the butter, warming the bowl if needed, until it is the consistence of mayonnaise and holds a peak when the paddle is lifted.
Add the molasses mixture.
Mix for 3-4 minutes, until fluffy.
Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Add the eggs and mix on low speed for 15-30 seconds, until just combined.
Scrape the bowl again.
The mixture may look broken, but that's fine.

Add the dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing on low speed for 15-30 seconds after each, or until just combined.
Scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate any dry ingredients that have settled there.
Add the chocolates and pulse on low speed about 10 times to combine.

Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
Preheat the oven to 325F.
Line two sheet pans with silpats or parchment paper.

Using an ice cream scoop (recommended: 2 1/2 inch ice cream scoop), divide the dough into 6 equal portions (150 grams each).  I made some large ones and then made the rest of the dough into smaller ones (see pictures above).
Roll each into a ball between the palms of your hands (you can shape the dough in advance).

The cookies are very large; only bake 3 per sheet.
Stagger the cookies on the pan.
Allow the dough to warm up to room temperature before baking.

Bake until golden brown, 14-16 minutes in a convection oven, 18-20 minutes in a standard oven.
Reverse the positions of then pans halfway through baking.
Set the pans on a cooling rack and cool for 5-10 minutes, then transfer cookies to a rack to cool completely.
The cookies are best the day they are baked, but can be stored in a covered container for up to 3 days.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Peanut butter cup cupcakes

Don't get your hopes up too high, these cupcakes were made to taste like a peanut butter cup, but they don't actually have a peanut butter cup in them (just in case you were still thinking about those killer Ferraro Rocher cupcakes I made recently).


Almost everyone loves the classic combination of peanut butter and chocolate, and I thought that making it into a cupcake would be delicious!  I even topped them with two different sizes of mini peanut butter cups, for the added oomph of peanut butter cup-iness!


These cupcakes really don't even need any more of an introduction.  I strongly recommend you try them.  Now.

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes
Cupcakes assembled by yours truly.
Cupcake recipe originally from here.
Icing from here.

For the cupcakes:

8 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 oz bittersweet/semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 cup sour cream

For the icing:

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream

Mini peanut butter cups, for topping

Directions:

Make the cupcakes.

Preheat the oven to 350F (325 if using a nonstick pan).
Line a standard muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Combine butter, chocolate, and cocoa in a medium heat proof bowl.
Set bowl over a saucepan containing barely simmering water, and heat mixture until butter and chocolate are melted.
Whisk until smooth and combined.
(You could do this in the microwave, but this time I actually used a double boiler!)
Set aside to cool until just warm to the touch.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a small bowl to combine.

Whisk eggs in another bowl.
Add sugar, vanilla, and salt until fully incorporated.
Add cooled chocolate mixture.
Whisk until combined.
Sift about 1/3 of the flour mixture over and whisk until batter is thick and fully incorporated.
Add sour cream and mix until incorporated.
Add remaining flour mixture and mix until combined.
Batter will be thick.

Bake until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes.

Cool cupcakes in pan on a wire rack until they are cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes.
Place cupcakes on a wire rack.
Cool to room temperature before icing, about 30 minutes.

In the meantime, make the frosting.

Cream together the butter, peanut butter, and Kosher salt with a mixer set to high, until light and fluffy.

Add powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating well between each addition.
Add heavy cream.
Once combined, taste for flavor.  Add more peanut butter as needed.

Continue to beat on high for an additional minute to incorporate air.

Place icing in a piping bag fitted with your favorite piping tip.
Pipe icing onto cupcakes, and top with mini peanut butter cups.

Ferraro Rocher cupcakes

I came up with two answers to the question "what do you do with a box of 48 Ferraro Rocher candies that your parents give you?"  Answer number one was to eat every last one of them (I'd share with B, but he isn't a fan of hazelnut), but I decided against that since I'd probably be sick to my stomach and I'm trying to not indulge too much.  Answer number two seemed to make some cupcakes with them (and eat a few along the way).  Option number two is what I went with.





I made my go-to dark chocolate cupcakes, but put a whole Ferraro Rocher candy in the center.  That sounds amazing enough on it's own, right?  But then I topped the baked cupcakes with a fluffy Nutella cloud frosting.  I could've stopped there.  I was planning on topping them with some chopped, toasted hazelnuts, but since I didn't have those on hand, I went with a mixture of toppings: I left some without anything more than the frosting, I topped some with chopped Ferraro Rocher candies, and I topped some with another whole candy!  I debated drizzling some Nutella on top, and think I might even do that before serving them (but for now the pictures are without it).

Here's the thing about these cupcakes.....they're the perfect balance of chocolatey and hazelnutty/nutella-y, without either flavor being too overpowering.  I'd venture to guess that even my non-hazelnut-loving fiancee would like these!

Dark Chocolate Ferraro Rocher Cupcakes with Nutella Cloud Frosting
Cupcakes are adapted by yours truly (based on these cupcakes), icing is from here (originally on the blog here)

I got 12 Ferraro Rocher filled cupcakes plus 5 regular cupcakes with this recipe.

For the cupcakes:

8 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 oz bittersweet/semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 cup sour cream

12 Ferraro Rocher candies, plus more for topping.  Additionally, you can fill more cupcakes and use additional candies

For the icing:

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened, but cool
1 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (4 ounces) premium bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
1/3 cup Nutella
1 Tbsp milk (I used cream, since that's what I had on hand)
pinch of salt

Directions:

Make the cupcakes.

Preheat the oven to 350F (325 if using a nonstick pan).
Line a standard muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Combine butter, chocolate, and cocoa in a medium heat proof bowl.
Set bowl over a saucepan containing barely simmering water, and heat mixture until butter and chocolate are melted.
Whisk until smooth and combined.
(You could do this in the microwave, but this time I actually used a double boiler!)
Set aside to cool until just warm to the touch.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a small bowl to combine.

Whisk eggs in another bowl.
Add sugar, vanilla, and salt until fully incorporated.
Add cooled chocolate mixture.
Whisk until combined.
Sift about 1/3 of the flour mixture over and whisk until batter is thick and fully incorporated.
Add sour cream, and mix until fully incorporatted.
Add remaining flour mixture and mix until combined.
Batter will be thick.

Fill 12 cupcake liners about half way full.
Place 1 unwrapped Ferraro Rocher into the center of each cupcake liner and push down.  
Don't worry if the candies aren't fully submerged, we'll get back to that in a second.
Repeat until each of the 12 cupcake liners have a candy in them.
If there are uncovered candies (all of mine were!), place a small spoonful of batter over each candy.
Don't worry if the candies are poking out, they'll get covered when they bake.

Bake until a skewer inserted into the side (remember, there's a candy in the center!) comes out clean, about 14-16 minutes.

Cool cupcakes in pan on a wire rack until they are cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes.
Place cupcakes on a wire rack.
Cool to room temperature before icing, about 30 minutes.

In the meantime, make the frosting.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the confectioners sugar and butter,
Beat on low for about 1 minute.

Add vanilla.
Beat on low until well combined.
Add the chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Add the Nutella, milk (or cream), and salt.
Beat on medium-high speed for another minute.

Put into a piping bag with the piping tip of your choice.
Frost cupcakes.

Top with chopped Ferraro Rocher candies, a whole candy, hopped toasted hazelnuts, a drizzle of Nutella, sprinkles, or leave them as they are :-)

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Red velvet cookies and cream muddy buddies

I was late to the muddy buddy party.  By decades.  Then the other day, while assembling goodies for my sister as part of a post-surgery recuperation package, I stumbled across cookies and cream muddy buddies. And I bought them. And proceeded to eat nearly a third of the bag on my subway ride home (and then toss the remainder of the bag in the nearest garbage can. Self control is clearly not my strong point.). Needless to say, I was hooked.


Lately the shelves have been stocked with fun and interesting flavored Oreos (case in point: cinnamon bun, red velvet, "filled cupcake"), and in my post-Valentine's day brain, I started thinking up muddy buddy flavors of my own.  Like red velvet cookies and cream!  Conveniently, I had purchased packages of all three new (techniically red velvet was available last year, seasonally) flavors, but had only cracked open the cinnamon bun ones to try (they're delicious, and I'm already working on a recipe for those!).  I had originally planned to dip the red velvet ones in white chocolate for Valentine's Day, but lost track of time, and so they were just sitting around.



These buddy buddies are delicious!  I loved the red velvet flavor mixed with the cream cheese flavor (from the filling) and the hint of vanilla from the coating.  Absolute perfection!  At least I won't have to worry too much about self control, since I will be shipping (most) of these off to work with B tomorrow!

Red Velvet Cookies & Cream Muddy Buddies
Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients:

6 cups chex cereal (I used corn)
12 oz white almond bark (I used white vanilla CandiQuik)
20 Red Velvet Oreos
1/2 cup powdered sugar (I ended up needing a little more)

Directions:

Put cereal in a large bowl.

Process the Oreos in a food processor until fine (my preferred method) or place in a sealed ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin.

Melt CandiQuik (or almond bark) in it's tray (or a microwave safe bowl) and microwave in 30 second increments.
Stir.
Continue microwaving and stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted.

Pour melted CandiQuik/almond bark over cereal.
Stir carefully to coat it.

Immediately add the ground Oreos.
Toss/Stir to coat.
Next, toss on the powdered sugar and mix until coated.

I placed mine on a wax paper lined baking sheet so that the CandiQuik could dry.
I felt mine needed a little more powdered sugar, to I added 1 Tbsp at a time until all of the muddy buddies were coated in powdered sugar.