Desserts

Orange-Chocolate Chip Muffins

by Shawnda on January 29, 2014

in Breakfast,Chocolate,Muffins and Scones

Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins

Let’s cut right to it and talk about my favorite part about these muffins. (Believe it or not, it’s not the chocolate.)

It was the way my hands smelled all day after mixing the orange zest and sugar together.

Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins

It was the way the baking muffins made my house smell bright and citrusy.

It was the smack-you-in-the-face whiff of orange each time I lifted the cake dome to snag another muffin.

Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins

And after all the talk about how fabulous those muffins smell… they taste pretty amazing, too. There’s plenty of orange flavor throughout this big, fluffy muffin.

I mean, really – if there’s one place that a big muffin top belongs, it’s on an actual muffin.

Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins

And I’ll give you one guess as to what her favorite part of the muffins were.

Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins

She’s only here for the chocolate chips.

Orange-Chocolate Chip Muffins

Tender orange-scented muffins studded with dark chocolate chips.

Ingredients

  • 18 muffin liners
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
  • Zest from 2 small oranges
  • 10 Tbsp unsalted butter, cubed and softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream (I use fat-free Greek yogurt)
  • 12 oz dark or semisweet chocolate chips (I used Special Dark)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt in medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Using your fingers or the back of a spoon, work the sugar and orange zest together for 1-2 minutes until very fragrant.
  4. Cream butter and orange sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition followed by the vanilla.
  6. Beat in half of dry ingredients, followed by a third of the yogurt.
  7. Add remaining dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the yogurt, until incorporated.
  8. Add chocolate chips to the mixer, mixing for just a few more seconds to distribute evenly (the batter will be very, very thick).
  9. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray or line with paper liners.
  10. Divide the batter evenly among cups, using a large cookie scoop (my scoop is ~2.25 inches across).
  11. Bake for 8 minutes and then decrease oven temperature to 375 and bake for ~10-12 more minutes until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
  12. Let cool 5 minutes in the pan before removing and cooling completely.
  13. Will keep ~4 days in a covered cake plate, can be frozen.

Notes

Yields: 18 muffins

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated Basic Muffin Recipe

Estimated time: 45 minutes

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Chewy Butter Pecan Cookies

Cookies and craft beer. That’s what Landry leaves out for Santa. The jolly old elf’s tastes sure have changed over the years!

Cookies & Beer for Santa

30 years ago, his choice of treat while making the brief stop at our house was always a glass of milk and a slice of chocolate pie. I remember asking my dad why we didn’t leave cookies out like everyone else did.

“He eats cookies all night, Shiner. By the time he makes it to Texas, he’ll be hankerin’ for somethin’ different.”

Chewy Butter Pecan Cookies

(Yep, my dad still says “hankerin.” And yep, I had a nickname that would end up the name of a popular beer. Go look up foreshadowing if you need to and then giggle.)

You can be sure, though, if something had prevented Santa from visiting our house, a fear we 4 kids secretly had… and all secretly had pre-pinned fault on my troublemaker sister Kristen, that chocolate pie would have never gone to waste.

Because coincidentally [wink wink], it was also my dad’s very favorite pie.

Chewy Butter Pecan Cookies

We were pie people. So on Christmas Eve, before and after we visited my MeMaw & PaPa’s house to open gifts, we baked pies. And when we woke up before dawn on Christmas morning, there was always a single bite of chocolate pie left on the plate – fueling our belief in Santa that much longer.

Because no way in hell would my dad had ever left a perfectly good bite of chocolate pie behind. (I can just see that heavy-whispered argument go down between my mom and dad, as much tradition in our house as the slice of pie itself, no doubt: Don’t eat it all! Why not? Because! Because why? Because it needs to look like Santa ate it! BUT IT’S CHOCOLATE PIE!!!)

Chewy Butter Pecan Cookies

The Santa of today prefers cookies and a glass of Texas beer on his brief stop in Katy, Texas. So cookies he will get. Chewy cookies studded with butterscotch chips, pecans roasted in browned butter, and a sprinkle of salt over top.

As for the beer, Santa will get a tall frosty mug (unless he decides to bring me those fancy beer glasses I’ve been wanting) of our homebrew Cousin Eddie’s Christmas Ale – it’s a strong ale flavored with oak, bourbon and vanilla bean. Although, at a whopping 9% ABV, he’ll probably have to settle for a flight glass unless he wants to stick around a while :)

Merry Christmas Eve!

Chewy Butter Pecan Cookies

Thick and chewy cookies studded with pecans roasted in browned butter and butterscotch chips.

Ingredients

  • For the pecans
  • 6 oz pecan halves, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • Salt
  • For the cookies
  • 2 cups + 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus an extra pinch for sprinkling
  • 12 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 12 oz pkg of butterscotch chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Over medium heat, brown the butter in a small sauce pan, scraping the bottom occasionally to prevent the milk solids from sticking and burning.
  3. When the mixture has turned a nice amber color, turn off the heat and stir in the pecans until complete coated.
  4. Spread on a baking sheet in an even layer and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt.
  5. Roast for 7-10 minutes, until browned and fragrant.
  6. Let cool and set aside.
  7. Lower oven temp to 325. Line two baking sheets (I move the pecans to a bowl and wipe down the "pecan pan") with parchment or a silicon mat.
  8. Place butter and sugars in a mixer bowl, mix on medium high until well-combined, 2-3 minutes.
  9. Mix in egg, yolk, and vanilla.
  10. Add dry ingredients and mix on low just until combined. Add butterscotch chips and peanuts until distributed.
  11. Chill dough 15-20 minutes. Scoop 1/4-cup dough balls onto a lined baking sheet.
  12. Bake 12-16 minutes, until the edges brown and the center is still soft.
  13. Sprinkle the warm cookies with a pinch of salt and then let cool on the baking sheet. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Notes

Yields: ~18 large cookies

Cookie dough base adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Estimated time: 50 minutes

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Bourbon Caramel Apple Slab Pie

Butter + Apples + Bourbon + Heavy cream = the best 10 pound apple pie you’ll ever sink you teeth into.

At dessert or breakfast.

Bourbon Caramel Apple Slab Pie

It’s a mash-up of 1) The Pastry Queen’s Southern Comfort Apple Pie, the very best apple pie I’ve ever eaten and 2) Tara’s Slab Apple Pie, the most beautiful apple pie I’ve ever seen. And I’ve made it 3 times in the last 3 weeks. 3. Times. That’s 30 lbs of apple pie!

Did you click the link to look at Tara’s version? No? I’ll wait. Because sweet flaky, buttery baby Jesus.

Bourbon Caramel Apple Slab Pie

The homemade pie crust is incredibly buttery and flaky and the apples inside are lightly coated with a cinnamony (it’s a word) bourbon caramel sauce. If you’re doing the math at home, that’s 5 sticks of butter.

And it’s so totally worth every single bite.

Bourbon Caramel Apple Slab Pie

Bourbon Caramel Apple Slab Pie

Sweet apples are served family-style in a bourbon-caramel sauce, underneath a buttery, flaky homemade pie crust.

Ingredients

  • For the crust
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 sticks (1 lb) of cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1-1 1/4 cup very cold water
  • For the filling
  • 6 lbs apples, peeled and sliced thin (I used a combo of Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, and Braeburn)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp water

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt,
  2. Add the cubed butter (I cut the sticks into quarters lengthwise and then make 10-12 cuts for small cubes) to the bowl, toss to coat, and then cut the butter into the flour until the butter cubes are about the size of small peas. You can use a pastry cutter or two knives. I use my fingers - it's a workout!
  3. Add 1 cup of the cold water and stir with a spoon at first, and then use your hands to fold the dough a few times to create one large ball - add the additional water if necessary to bring it all together.
  4. Divide the dough into two pieces - I weighed the ball and pulled 2/3 off for the bottom crust, leaving the remaining 1/3 for the top crust.
  5. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375.
  7. To make the filling, melt the butter over medium heat in a large pot (you'll be adding the apples to the pot - I use my big "pasta pot").
  8. Stir in the sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
  9. Let the mixture come to a slow steady boil and cook for ~10 minutes.
  10. Add the whiskey and cook for another ~10 minutes.
  11. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and heavy cream.
  12. While the mixture is cooking, line a 11x17 jelly roll pan with parchment (or just butter it).
  13. Flour your work surface and roll the bottom crust to a rectangle larger a few inches larger than then pan.
  14. Transfer it to the pan, making sure it is big enough to hang over the edges, and then put it back into the fridge.
  15. Roll out the top crust to about the same size of the pan.
  16. Put the apples in the still warm caramel sauce, stirring until all of the apples are coated.
  17. Pour the apples into the prepared pan, spreading out into an even layer.
  18. Top with the other crust, fold the excess crust over the top crust, and then crimp the edges.
  19. Take a knife and cut several small venting slits over the top of the pie and brush with the egg wash.
  20. Bake in the top of the oven (with a large pan or foil on the shelf below - you will get spatters and drips) for ~45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
  21. Take out, let stand for ~15 minutes, and then enjoy with an optional (just do it) scoop of Salted Caramel Gelato on top.

Notes

Yields: ~18 servings

Adapted from The Pastry Queen and Smells Like Home

Estimated time: 2 hours

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Gingerbread Caramel Popcorn

by Shawnda on December 16, 2013

in Appetizers,Candy,Christmas,DIY

Gingerbread Caramel Corn

I am all cookied out. Every single cookie that I brought home from last weekend’s exchange is gone. I didn’t eat them all, because that would be a terrible idea, but I had my share. And now I can’t even bring myself to edit the photos for the butterscotch cookie post that’s hanging out in my drafts folder.

I’m so over cookies that I’m actually looking forward to a spinach salad for lunch.

Gingerbread Caramel Corn

What I am not over, besides that salad, is caramel popcorn. But not just any caramel corn. Caramel corn spiked with a generous dose of gingerbread spices.

It’s Christmas in a bowl… you know, if you’d ever put Christmas into a bowl and then try to ruin it by sitting on the couch to hate-watch a Homeland mini-marathon. But at least while the frustratingly empty minutes tick by, your house smells like gingerbread and you have handful after handful of spicy, crunchy gingerbread caramel corn to keep you company.

Gingerbread Caramel Corn

Caramel popcorn gets a holiday makeover with a generous dose of gingerbread spices.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups popped popcorn (the yield from 1/3 rounded cup of kernels)
  • Cooking spray or parchment paper
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar*
  • 3 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Scrapings from 1 vanilla bean (can substitute 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste)
  • 2-3 tsp gingerbread spice (purchased or homemade)
  • * I don't buy brown sugar so I substitute with 1 tsp molasses + 1/3 cup granulated sugar.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300.
  2. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray or line it with parchment. Have a rubber spatula handy.
  3. Pop the popcorn and transfer it to a large bowl.
  4. Heat the butter, sugar, molasses, corn syrup, and salt in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.
  5. Once the mixture comes to a boil, add 2 tsp gingerbread spice and cook another 5 minutes.
  6. Let a little of the mixture cool on a spoon and then taste - not gingerbread-y enough? Add another tsp of spices.
  7. Remove from heat and add the vanilla.
  8. Stir and immediately pour over the popcorn.
  9. Use a rubber spatula to stir until the popcorn is nicely coated and then transfer to the baking sheet, spreading out to an even layer.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
  11. Let cool ~15 minutes before eating.
  12. Store leftovers in a ziptop bag on the counter... if you have leftovers.

Notes

Yields: 6 1-cup servings

Adapted from Bourbon Caramel Popcorn

Estimated time: 45 minutes

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