Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake

This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is for Browned Butter and Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake. That’s really a long title for what is a fairly simple cake. I had looked at making this cake a couple of weeks ago, when I realized that it requires ingredients that I already had on hand. I ended up making it over the weekend (how appropriate!) and I took it to work to help celebrate January birthdays at work. You can check out how the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers fared with this week’s recipe by visiting the Tuesdays with Dorie site

This cake is a simple butter cake, where you brown the butter before adding to the batter. I’ve browned butter a couple of times and it’s true, it is just a matter of seconds between browned butter and burnt butter. I learned the hard way before, so now I am very careful when browning butter. I did use a vanilla bean since I had one on hand. Somehow scraping the seeds out of a vanilla bean looks a lot easier on tv than it is in real life. 

This cake baked up very nicely, although it was just a touch under baked in the very center. It looked lovely. You almost got to see a picture of the lovely cake in the pan, because I just couldn’t get the cake out of the pan! I had buttered and floured the pan, but I guess not enough because it was thoroughly stuck to the bottom. I ended up cutting the cake in half, removing half of the cake and then I was able to get half of the cake out of the pan cleaning. Not a total loss. The flavors in this cake aren't extravagant, but I really like the cake. Next time, I will line the cake pan with parchment.

Recipe from Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan, page 6

Friday, January 23, 2015

Oatmeal Pistachio Cranberry Cookies

I wasn’t sure what type of cookies to make this week. After all the excitement of December we’re back to the regular routine and I just wasn’t sure what sounded good. I asked my husband to pick a few cookies that sounded good to him. He found a couple of winter-themed cookies and these were the ones that sounded best to me. I love the combination of cranberries and pistachios. Maybe you think of them as a Christmas combination, but I like the combination all year around.

When I first read this recipe, I didn’t see the flour listed in the ingredients. I thought that they would be quite strange with no flour, but then in the end they do have ¾ cup of flour. I think cookies just need the flour to give them some structure! This recipe is very classic, but has the perfect combination of flavors.

Oatmeal Pistachio Cranberry Cookies
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup shelled pistachios, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; set aside. In a large mixer bowl, add the butter brown sugar, and sugar. Beat on medium until light. Add the vanilla and egg and stir until combined. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour/oat mixture. Stir in the cranberries and pistachios with a spatula.

Scoop the dough onto the cookies sheets using a 1 tablespoon scoop. Bake for 14-16 minutes, until lightly browned. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for at least 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Make and Takes

Friday, January 16, 2015

Cinnamon Caramel Swirl Bars

For Christmas, I got a couple of specialty baking ingredients from different people. I need to figure out what I am going to bake with those new treasures. My friend gave me some caramel bits, which I absolutely adore! I wanted to make something with those right away. I found that I had recently pinned this recipe for caramel swirl bars. It called for regular square caramels, but I knew the caramel bits would work just fine.

This recipe doesn’t make a lot of dough, and I wasn’t sure that there would be enough dough to spread a layer in the bottom of the pan! It took a lot of care to spread the dough thin enough to cover the base of the pan, but I did it. I had to use a thin metal spatula to make that happen. With the foil lined pan, if you try to spread it with a regular spatula it doesn’t work at all. Other than that, these bars were pretty easy to put together. They cut beautifully as well and have a great caramel flavor.

Cinnamon Caramel Swirl Bars
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
14 caramels, unwrapped or caramel bits
1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and. In a large mixer bowl, beat the brown sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla on medium until smooth. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture. Stir just until the flour disappears into the batter. Stir in the chopped pecans.

Reserve about one cup of the dough for the topping. Spread the remaining dough evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes, until the base it set.

Remove the bars from the oven and cool slightly while making the caramel swirl. Place the caramels and milk in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for about 3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until smooth. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Pour the caramel over the base, spreading within ½” of the edge. Top with spoonfuls of the remaining dough. Swirl with a knife. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until set.

Allow to cool on a wire rack. Lift the foil from the pan; peel away the foil. Cut into bars.

Recipe from McCormick