I made and decorated sugar cookies with my sweetie to give to our coworkers for Valentine’s Day. Most of them were teacher-nerdy and Easter-colored, and oddly Lisa Frank-esque. That’s not what I had planned for. But they tasted delicious and were much appreciated by the teachers at the schools we work at. As I was baking the cookies, I remembered I had these cute cookie cutters from World Market that allow cookies to hang off the side of your mug. I was inspired by these gingerbread houses awhile back, and these endearing “breakfast” treats, so I baked up a couple of my own cookies to be eaten with tea, or coffee, or whatever you like. Turns out you don’t need a fancy cookie cutter – you can make your own cookie shapes that perch on the edge of a mug! Whatever you like.
Stop the presses! I have very important news. Way more important than the Super Bowl, even if San Francisco just broke your heart. Actually, if San Francisco just broke your heart, as it did mine, then this news might cheer you up a little. I think I just found God.
What’s that you say? On a baking blog?
Yes. God, in the form of Smitten Kitchen’s Fig, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt Challah. I am a diehard challah fan, and this recipe just stepped it up a notch. Many notches, in fact. I made a double batch of the bread dough; I kept one loaf, just the plain challah bread recipe and braided it like a normal challah. It’s delicious and fluffy and beautiful:
For months I have been hearing about the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Everyone says it’s amazing, and while I didn’t doubt the caliber of the recipes, photographs, and book itself, I did doubt the necessity of my owning it. I check Deb’s blog religiously, have made numerous amazing recipes from it, and spent way too many hours oggling her mouthwatering creations. I knew the book would be great, but I thought, “I can just check the recipes online! I don’t need to spend money on another book that will just clutter my shelves…” Boy, was I wrong. My girlfriend got the cookbook from the public library and if it weren’t a library book, I’d have dog-eared nearly all the pages to remember to make all the recipes as soon as possible! Every pastry, salad, vegetable main dish, and dessert look insanely good. I love when cookbooks have pictures for each recipe – otherwise, how can I really trust the recipe will make what it says? In any case, I now know that I need to own the book. Especially after I baked this challah.
I made the second loaf according to the Smitten Kitchen directions and loaded it up with fig jam and orange rind and damn. It has everything you want in a challah loaf, plus sweet gooey citrus deliciousness oozing out everywhere. Dessert, breakfast pastry, bread, all in one. And imagine using this to make french toast! To die for. Proof that I really need to go out and buy this book:
If you’re wishing the 49ers had won, well, here’s a little bit of gold to hold you over till next year.
‘Tis the season for pumpkins and warm spices, even if it is beautiful, sunny, and hot outside here in Northern California. I know it is not so in the East Coast – my friends out there, please bundle up and find a nice cozy spot with a big blanket and a mug of hot cocoa or tea because it seems like this storm will be a big one! If you have all these tasty ingredients in your home, you should get right to baking this delicious treat, it will warm your soul and keep you happy through the storm. Happy soon-to-be Halloween!
The recipe is based on an old favorite banana bread recipe, which can be found here.
Makes 1 full-sized loaf or 2 small loaves
Preheat the oven to 350.
In one bowl or an electric mixer, combine:
1/2 stick (4-5 tablespoons) butter, softened
2 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
2/3 cup sugar
Use your electric mixer to mix the ingredients – If you are not using an electric mixer, use a potato masher, fork, or spoon to squish the banana and mix the ingredients together. It is alright for there to be small chunks of banana in the batter, but you want most of the banana to be reduced to mush.
In another bowl, combine:
1 1/3 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix until the ingredients are blended together.
If you like, stir in additional ingredients here, such as chopped walnuts or pecans, dried cherries or apricots, or chocolate chips. A handful (about a half a cup) is about right. I used only chocolate chips in my bread.
Pour the dough into greased baking pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Small loaves take around 30 minutes, a normal-sized loaf takes around 50 minutes.
Remove from the oven. This bread is great warm, but it is excellent cold too.
After they have cooled for 5 or 10 minutes the loaves can be removed from the pan to cool. Once they are cool they can be individually wrapped and frozen.
Using this recipe and this chocolate peanut butter, I have created a delicious treat! It took a couple tries, but this final batch is perfect! I think since it’s a muffin, it can be eaten any time. A perfect weekend breakfast (or anytime breakfast, because why not?), a great dessert, a tasty snack, a yummy addition to any potluck…anything you want it to be! That’s the best part of a chocolate muffin. Chocolate muffin, with chocolate chips mixed into the batter, with chocolate peanut butter baked on top. “Chocolate chocolate chocolate peanut butter muffin” could be a more accurate title.
I had to make a few adaptations to the recipe listed above. I kept the cupcake batter the same except I added more chocolate chips, and used a dairy-free milk. The first time I made this recipe, I made the peanut butter swirl the way it is listed in the original recipe (except used chocolate peanut butter instead of regular peanut butter). Because of the extra ingredients already in the chocolate peanut butter, it became a very thin mixture, and didn’t soak into the cupcake. It spread out, bubbled across the top of the pan, and burned. Terrible! Totally not fit for bringing to a potluck, or as a treat for coworkers, or anything…except some tastes of parts that could be pulled away from the burntness. Lots of tastes, actually.
I decided that the chocolate peanut butter could hold up on it’s own, and so skipped the extra ingredients the next time I baked them. I just plopped a teaspoon or so of chocolate peanut butter on top of the cupcake batter, and stuck them in the oven to bake. Voila! Delicious, perfect looking triple chocolate peanut butter muffins! Why didn’t I think of that the first time?
Here’s my version of the recipe. Enjoy!
Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Muffins
Yield: about 20 muffins
For the muffins:
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1¼ cups almond milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
For the peanut butter swirl:
1/2 cup Chocolate Peanut Butter (like: Dark Chocolate Dreams from Peanut Butter & Co.)
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin tins with paper liners. To make the chocolate muffin batter, combine the butter and 1/3 cup of the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are melted and smooth. (Alternatively you can microwave in 20-30 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted and smooth.) Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk or mix briefly to combine. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the almond milk, vinegar, egg, and vanilla and whisk until combined. With the mixer on low speed, blend in the liquid mixture just until combined. Blend in the melted chocolate mixture. Stir in the remaining chocolate chips with a spatula. Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each no more than 2/3 full. (These muffins will rise a lot!)
Drop a small spoonful of the chocolate peanut butter on top of the chocolate muffin batter. Swirl together using a skewer or knife.
Bake 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.