Monday, March 24, 2008

Peach Spelt Muffins

Free Image Hosting at <a href= I am starting to love baking with healthy ingredients. At first it was very hard to find recipes that used spelt as the flour and honey as the sweetener but as I started searching the internet, I realized there are a lot of bakers out there trying to reformat the processed ingredient recipes.

This is one of those finds. The original recipe calls for brown sugar but I bought some delicious buckwheat honey (which I highly recommend) and wanted to use it as the sweetener. So I dropped the brown sugar and adjusted the flour accordingly. I also sprinkled the tops of the muffins with Sucanat - unrefined cane sugar - which I just discovered last year thanks to my mom. It has a molasses taste and the crunch of sprinkles. This worked as the perfect topping for the muffins.

The recipe below has the adjustments for honey or brown sugar - and I also think whole wheat flour would work in this recipe equally as well. I also used almond milk instead of soy milk but either will work.

These were extremely flavorful and moist which sometimes is hard to find in a healthy muffin. Definitely give these a try.

Peach Spelt Muffins
Makes 16
2 Cups spelt or whole wheat flour (add 1/3c. extra flour if using honey)
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar or honey
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Cup Soymilk
1 Tbs Lemon Juice
1/3 Cup canola oil
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2/3 Cup Peaches, chopped (fresh or canned)
Extra Brown Sugar or Sucanat for sprinkling on top

Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Whisk wet ingredients in a seperate small bowl. Fold gently into dry ingredients.
Fold in peaches.
Fill paper muffin cups 2/3's full and sprinkle with brown sugar or Sucanat.
Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

How To Use Up A Jar of Nutella

Free Image Hosting at I made Nutella cupcakes last week and managed to use up half the jar, which is a big frustration for me. Half a jar of Nutella is a big temptation. After all, Nutella was not a baking ingredient in my house when I first brought it home. It was spread on toast and I absolutely loved it. So to use up the jar, I had to find a new recipe, and quick.

There is a Nutella cookie recipe on this blog already but that wasn't what I was looking for. Instead I had the idea to replace peanut butter with Nutella in a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookie recipe I have in my files. This would hopefully make a soft and chewy cookie.

Turns out the Nutella easily replaced the peanut butter in texture but not in flavor. I always thought Nutella had a very strong cocoa taste but in cookies it all but disappears. That is not to say these cookies weren't good. Quite the contrary, I had many compliments. They were sweet and chewy but more in a soft shortbread sort of way. The real flavor was a buttery white chocolate taste with a cocoa background but they were delicious.

I don't have any comments on these cookies really. I used white chocolate chips but I think semi-sweet would work just as well. I also think pecans would have been a good addition but, like I have mentioned before, Josh doesn't like nuts in cookies so I omitted them.

Try these in place of normal chocolate chip cookies or if you have a half jar of Nutella looking to be used up.

Nutella White Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups Nutella
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 2/3 cups flour
1 package white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking sheets. Cream butter, sugars, Nutella, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda & salt.
Add eggs one at a time.
Stir in the flour and chips.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until set.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Nutella Swirl Cupcakes - Third Times A Charm

Some recipes must be wrestled with before they are any good to serve the public. Normally, I suggest doing this in the privacy of your own home but I had to use other people as guinea pigs for the first two disasters.

Let me preface this by saying that Nutella cupcakes are common in the blogging world and there are many variations floating around. The concept, in theory, should be easy. A vanilla cake batter swirled with Nutella to form a fudgy ribbon once the cupcakes are baked. Ok so onto the flawed attempts...

Disaster #1: I used a recipe found on the net and ended up with a greasy, bomb like poundcake cupcake with a soggy Nutella ribbon. Seriously rich and not good.

Disaster #2: I decided to use a vanilla cake mix (yes, I know - puritans do not be mad) and I used a name brand. Problem is, cake mixes are extremely light and fluffy and so the Nutella fell to the bottom of the cupcake like a rock and then burned onto the bottom of the muffin papers.

So I turned to my beloved Betty Crocker cookbook for the perfect yellow cake that would hold the Nutella into place. Sure enough, the cake that I picked was the right one - finally! - and the Nutella made these delicious fudgy ribbons in a cake that held together beautifully. Josh's office loved them and I am definitely going to make them again.


Nutella Swirl Cupcakes
24 cupcakes

2 1/4c. all purpose flour
1 1/2c. sugar
1/2c. butter, softened
1 1/4c. milk
3 1/2t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 t. vanilla
3 eggs
1/2c. Nutella

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin cups with papers or grease lightly.
Beat sugar and butter until creamy.
Beat in milk, vanilla and eggs.
Stir in flour, salt and baking powder.
Fill each muffin paper with 2T. batter, or about one third full. Top the batter with 1t. Nutella and then top with another 2T. batter or until the papers are two thirds full.
Using the point of a knife or a toothpick, gently swirl the Nutella through out the batter.
Bake for 20 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Monster Cookies for Gertrude

Do you remember those Dairy Queen commercials? The ones for the Monster Cookie blizzard? Two monsters are working in a cookie factory and the one make a really hideous cookie with green M&M's "for Gertrude". I loved the commercials but I loved the blizzard even more. The cookie dough was an oatmeal and peanutbutter batter with chunks of M&M's. Josh and I craved the stuff and I vowed to find the recipe.

After a bit of a hunt, the recipe has been perfected and my Christmas baking would not be complete without these cookies. In fact, of all the recipes I make, these cookies are requested the most of all. Just be prepared for half the batter to be eaten before the cookies are even ready for the oven. Josh eats the dough by tablespoonfuls.

I think it is the very subtle peanutbutter taste that makes the cookies. Don't expect a typical Jif Peanut Butter taste with these. They taste more like an old-fashioned oatmeal cookie with a hint of peanut butter. They make a huge batch, taste amazing and, the best part is, they stay soft for weeks - if you can get them to last that long!

I made them with Christmas M&M's over the holidays and today, to celebrate spring and the beautiful weather we are having, I made them with Easter M&M's. Nothing to add to this recipe other than the reminder not to overbake! 10 minutes is all they need.

Enjoy, enjoy. These are amazing.

Monster Cookies
Makes 3 dozen

2/3c. butter, softened
1/3c. peanut butter
1 1/3c. brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2t. vanilla
1t. baking powder
1t. baking soda
1c. flour
2 1/2c. oatmeal
1c. white chocolate chunks or chips
1 1/2c. M&M's

Beat butter, peanutbutter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until creamy and light.
Stir in flour, powder and soda. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Stir in the oatmeal and white chocolate.
Carefully, with the mixer on low, or by hand, fold in the M&M's.
Make tablespoon size balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 1o minutes at 350 degrees

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Its A Muffin... No, It's a Chocolate Bar

One of my favorite blogs is by Peabody. The photos are gorgeous and the recipes are fantastic, This recipe, which reminds me of my favorite candy bar is from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. I am not sure how many people have had an Almond Joy in Canada. They are rather hard to find. I have bought mine in the States and loved every one. It is a coconut macaroon base, topped with two almonds and bathed in chocolate. Moist and chewy and so delicious.

Peabody made the bread version, and then I made it into muffins because they are easier to dish out in Josh's office. Plus it makes each one a mini bundt cake which looks fantastic and keeps the moisture in. I really wish I had a picture but we hurried them off to the office before I could take one. Just look at Peabody's picture and you will get the idea.

I did not use the glaze or the chocolate drizzle because I didn't have a ton of time. I am not sure the muffins even need them as they are so moist on their own and packed with flavor. Josh's office loved them and I will definitely make them again.

Almond Joy Muffins
Makes 24

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
¾ cup canola oil
¼ cup melted unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp coconut extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sweetened coconut
½ cup almonds, chopped or slivered
1 cup chocolate chips

Combine the first 6 ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat ingredients on medium speed for 2 minutes.
In a separate bowl, sift and combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Starting with the flour mixture alternate flour, buttermilk, flour, buttermilk and flour…in that order. Mix until just combined.
Fold in coconut, chocolate chips and almonds.
Pour into muffin tins that have been greased and floured. Bake at 350F for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Remove from oven and place on rack to dry. While muffins are still warm, brush on Coconut Glaze. When muffins are completely cool, drizzle chocolate ganache over the tops.

Coconut Glaze

1 cup sugar
½ cup water
1 TBSP unsalted butter
1 tsp coconut extract

Place ingredients into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Allow to boil for about a minute. Turn heat off but leave saucepan on burner. Glaze muffins as instructed above.

Chocolate Ganache
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
¾ cup heavy cream

Place chocolate into a bowl.
Place cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Once cream has boiled pour over chocolate. Let sit for 3 minutes.
Stir with whisk until smooth and glossy.

New Tasters, New Oatmeal Cookies

Free Image Hosting at <a href=So Josh has a new job - well not new anymore but new for me to talk about on the blog - and with it comes a whole new baking audience. I have sent Almond Joy muffins (which I forgot to get a picture of but I will post about eventually) and now I have sent Oatmeal Cookies. It's so fun to have people to bake for again, because my family can only eat so much. And I certainly don't want three dozen cookies sitting around the house.

I have never made this recipe before, but I really wanted to because oatmeal cookies are some of my favorite. They seem wholesome and are more substantial. I love the nuttiness that the oats bring and the way it mixes with creamy chocolate. This recipe has been floating around my files for awhile and I really love it except for one thing - the amount of oatmeal. Three cups was far too much and made the cookies stiff and a little dry if you forgot them in the oven for even a moment - which I did. So I will definitely make them again but the oatmeal should only be two cups.

I mixed milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips and raisins for sweet chewiness. Mix and match as you like, I know some people are raisin oatmeal puritans. There is also a teaspoon of cinnamon in the dough which added amazing subtle flavor and worked extremely well with the chocolate.

This recipe made a huge batch and was a big hit. I hope you enjoy...

Chewy Oatmeal Cookies
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. butter
1 c. dark brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. oatmeal
1 c. raisins (soak in boiling water for a couple of minutes & drain)
1c. chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
Cream wet ingredients for two minutes until light and fluffy.
Slowly add dry ingredients and combine.
Stir in oatmeal, raisins and chips.
Scoop by tablespoon and bake for 10 minutes on a greased sheet.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Some Spring In The Dead of Winter or Rhubarb Crumb Muffins

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usOne of my favorite stores is Planet Organic which has one of the largest frozen organic produce sections in my city. I always feel better buying frozen organic produce because I know that it is straight from the ground and into the bag - brown paper freezer bags even! Planet Organic keeps the frozen fruit very reasonably priced and I appreciate that because the chances of finding rhubarb in the dead of the arctic north winter is a big challenge and I assume that anyone who was smart enough to save some and freeze it will want to capitalize on their brilliance. Not so at this store. They even put it on sale in January and I stocked up. I figure by the time the strawberries come into their peak - and they are just starting to now - I will have rhubarb for Amanda's favorite Rhubarb Strawberry Crumb Pie.

In the meantime, I wanted to use up some of the copious amounts of rhubarb I bought at said sale, and muffins are the perfect way to do it. No one can resist a golden crumb topped muffin and that sour surprise of the rhubarb is a big hit in my family.

I found this recipe on Epicurious. They are by no means healthy, although I did split the white flour in half with whole wheat to continue my trend this year. I don't think the muffins were too dense or dry because of the rhubarb which moistened the middles. The one thing I will say is that the amount of crumb topping was way too much! In the recipe below I have printed the more accurate amounts that you will need.

We loved these muffins and I will continue to make them - hopefully with fresh rhubarb in the spring.

Rhubarb Crumb Muffins
Gourmet, April 2003

Ingredients for topping:

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 lb fresh rhubarb stalks, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar

Ingredients for cake batter:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (or 1/2c. whole wheat & 3/4c. white flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously butter muffin cups and top of pan.
Make streusel for topping by whisking together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture forms small clumps.
For the batter, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until blended, about 2 minutes.
Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.
Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and milk alternately in 2 batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until just combined.
Divide batter among muffin cups (each cup will be about half full).
Toss rhubarb with confectioners sugar and sprinkle batter with rhubarb, then crumble streusel evenly on top.
Bake in middle of oven until tops are golden and a tester inserted in center of a cake comes out clean, 22 to 25 minutes.