Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Maple Walnut Banana Muffins with a Coffee Glaze





Up until a couple of weeks ago, bananas had been my daughter’s favorite fruit. She would have one first thing every morning and several times a day on most days.  Then unexpectedly, she stopped asking for them all the time and I suddenly had a bunch of very ripe bananas.  I had several ideas rolling around in my noggin and I was trying to figure out what to bake when a friend of mine made a suggestion that inspired this particular recipe.  Since I didn’t want to wait the hour that it takes to bake banana bread, I decided to make muffins.  The maple and banana flavors meld together quite nicely like banana pancakes with the syrup baked right in. The walnuts add a nice textural contrast and the coffee flavored glaze just tops it all off. These muffins barely lasted 24 hrs our house.

Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3 bananas very ripe bananas, mashed*
2/3 cup real maple syrup
1/3 cup plain olive oil (do not use extra virgin)
2 tbsp rice milk
1tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted


·      Preheat the oven to 350° F.
·      Place cupcake liners in a muffin pan and very lightly spray with dairy free cooking spray (I use Pam Olive Oil spray).
·      In a medium bowl, combine and whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
·      Combine the next 5 ingredients (bananas-eggs) in a mixing bowl. Mix until combined.
·      Add the dry ingredients and mix until the dry ingredients are no longer visible.
·      Gently stir in the walnuts.
·      Fill each 3/4 full (I usually fill them a little more than that).
·      Bake 15-20 or until golden brown on top.
·      Cool 5-10 min on a wire rack. Remove from pan. While still warm, drizzle with glaze and cool completely on a wire rack. (If you can wait that long. I never can.).

*If you don’t have very ripe bananas or not all of them are very ripe, squeeze and squish them while they are still in the peel. It makes them much more easy to mash.


Coffee Glaze

1 cup 10X powdered sugar sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp coffee extract
2-3 tbsp rice milk

·      Mix until smooth and drizzly.
·      Drizzle over slightly warm muffins.
·      Enjoy!


NOTE: If you want to make this as banana bread:

·      Pour batter into a greased 8x4x2 in loaf pan (or what ever loaf pan you have, just watch the baking time).
·      Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
·      Cook on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. While still warm, drizzle with glaze and cool completely on a wire rack.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mini Hazelnut Torte Cupcakes





Decision made! Coffee and Raspberry Mini Hazelnut Torte Cupcakes won.

 Have you ever looked at a hazelnut? I mean really looked. The paper like husk surrounding the nut makes the nut looks like it was carved from wood. It’s actually quite beautiful.  There are so many amazing treats that you can create with this beautiful little nut. I had bought a whole bunch of them to try and make hazelnut macarons, but it’s been so darn humid here that I keep putting it off. Instead, I decided to make mini hazelnut torte cupcakes, half with coffee frosting and half with raspberry frosting. The original torte was a bit dry unless it was made with walnuts (and that’s a torte for another day), so I tweaked the recipe for hazelnuts. These little creations are ridiculously delicious.

Hazelnut Torte Cupcakes
 
4 eggs
¾ cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 ½ cups toasted hazelnuts
1 ½ tbsp. hazelnut oil
5 tbsp rice milk
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp orange zest


·      Preheat oven to 350° F.
·      Place mini cupcake liners in 2 mini cupcake pans (or do 2 separate batches).
·      Very lightly spray the pan with liners with cooking spray (I use an olive oil one). Be careful or the liners will go flying everywhere.
·      Place eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a food processor. Process until smooth (approximately 1-2 minutes).
·      Add hazelnut oil and rice milk. Mix for another minute.
·      In a small bowl, combine and mix flour, baking powder, and orange zest.
·      Add flour mixture into the processor with the hazelnuts.
·      Mix until combined.
·      Spoon 1½ tablespoons of batter in each liner.
·      Smooth out the tops of the batter.
·      Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
·      Cool for 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan and then finish cooling on the wire rack.
·      Frost ½ the cupcakes with the coffee frosting and the other half with raspberry. (Or you can do all one flavor frosting.)



Vanilla Frosting

3 sticks of Fleischmann’s unsalted margarine sticks (or any other dairy free margarine)
6 cups 10X powder sugar (+ 2-3 cups extra for thickening), sifted
3 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt


·      With a mixer, beat the margarine, vanilla, and salt until light and fluffy.
·      Add the 1 pound bag of powder sugar 1 cup at a time or you’ll have a huge mess.
·      Once everything is mixed, divide the frosting in half.



Coffee Frosting

1½ tbsp. coffee flavored liqueur*
3 tsp coffee extract
½ -1 cup powdered sugar

·      Mix the liqueur and coffee extract with the vanilla frosting.
·      Add the powder sugar ½ cup at a time until the frosting is thick and slightly stiff (so that it will hold it’s shape should you choose to pipe it on the cupcakes)

*The liqueur is optional. If you choose to omit the liqueur, add 1-2 tsp of coffee extract to taste.

**To frost all the cupcakes with coffee frosting, double these ingredients and add to the vanilla frosting.

 
Raspberry Frosting

½ pint fresh raspberries, rinsed and drained
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp lemon juice
2 tsp cornstarch





·      Place all the ingredients in a small pot. Over medium high heat, bring to a boil while stirring constantly.
·      Reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently until the raspberries have cooked down and lost their shape and the mixture is thickened.
·      In a fine sieve, strain the mixture to remove the seeds
·      Add the raspberry mixture to the vanilla frosting.
·      Add extra powdered sugar ½ cup at a time until the frosting is thick and slightly stiff (so it will hold it’s shape should you chose to pipe it onto the cupcakes).


* Double these ingredients if you prefer to make all raspberry cupcakes.





Thursday, July 19, 2012

Decisions

I need to bake, but can't seem to get motivated or decide what to make. Do I turn very ripe bananas into banana bread or banana walnut cupcakes with maple frosting. Or do I make a mini hazelnut torte cupcakes, half with espresso frosting and half with raspberry frosting. Do I throw all caution to the wind and make some sort of macaron. There is always the good ole standby: peanut butter cookies. Or do I get some laundry done and save the baking for another day. I guess you'll just have to wait and see. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Almond Strawberry Shortcake


Almonds and strawberries are delicious by themselves, but you combine the two and you get something downright delightful.  So, the other day after I bought 2 pounds of strawberries, I decided they would be perfect for strawberry shortcake.  Traditional strawberry shortcake is made with a sweet biscuit, but I have come to prefer pound cake or angel food cake.  I haven’t made angel food cake in a long time, but my almond pound cake recipe won out this time around.  Velvety, moist, and dense, this cake is a star on it’s own. When you add strawberries macerated in Grand Marnier, it explodes with 3 dimensional flavor. Top it off with my Whipped Dream (my whipped cream replacement) and you have a masterpiece.


Almond Pound Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
3 sticks Fleischmann’s unsalted margarine sticks
2 ½ cups sugar
5 eggs
2-3 tsp almond extract*
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup rice milk


·      Preheat oven to 300 °F
·      Lightly grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.
·      Combine and whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl.
·      Cream margarine with sugar until light and fluffy.
·      Add 1 egg at a time. Beat well after each addition.
·      Add almond and vanilla extracts.*
·      Mix the flour into the margarine mixture alternating with the milk (starting and ending with the milk.
Pour into the prepared pan.
·      Bake for 1-1.5 hrs.
·      Cool 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

* If you don't want a strong almond flavor, then add only 2 tsp of the almond extract.



Strawberries

2 pounds of strawberries hulled and cut into large pieces
¼ cup sugar (adjust to according to the sweetness of the strawberries and taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp Grand Marnier (according to taste and is optional.)
½ tsp lemon juice

·      Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl.
·      Stir to mix.
·      Set aside for 1-2 hours. (To speed up the maceration, place in the microwave for 30-60sec).


Dream Whip

1 cup sugar
  cup water
¼ tsp cream of tartar
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla

·      Wipe down your mixing bowl and beaters with lemon juice.
·      Place the egg whites and vanilla into a mixing bowl.
·      Combine sugar, water, and cream of tartar in a sauce pan.
·      Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar is dissolved.
·      Very, very slowly add the sugar mixture to the egg whites, beating constantly on high speed for about 5-7 minutes or until stiff peaks form.
·      Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

**Don’t make more than ½ a day before serving as it doesn’t last much longer than 2 days.


Prepare

·      Spoon some of the strawberries onto a slice of pound cake and a dollop of Dream Whip on top of it all.
·      Enjoy!





Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Maple Banana Walnut Cake


My daughter LOVES bananas. The first thing she does when she comes downstairs in the morning is ask for a banana. More often than not, she has more than one banana a day.  We typically have an abundance of bananas in the house.  Madeleine usually ends up eating them all, but we occasionally have a few that reach the very ripe stage.  I tend to make some sort of banana bread with them, but every once in a while I pull out this next recipe.  While bananas aren’t my favorite fruit, I love this cake.  Now, some of you may be tempted to use real maple syrup in the frosting, but it isn’t the same flavor or intensity as the imitation maple flavoring. It is quite strong and I can smell it almost every time I open my pantry.


Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. fine sea salt
½ cup Fleischmann’s unsalted margarine sticks (1 stick)
¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 mashed very ripe bananas (approx.. 1 ¼ cups)
½ cup rice milk (first add 1 ½ tsp. lemon juice and then fill up to the ½ cup mark)
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts

·      Preheat the oven to 350° F.
·      Grease (with the margarine) and flour 2 8 or 9-inch round cake pans.
·      In a medium mixing bowl, combine and whisk flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
·      In a large mixing bowl, beat margarine and both the brown and granulated sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy.
·      Add mashed bananas and mix.
·      Add 1 egg at a time, mixing thoroughly after each egg.
·      Combine the vanilla extract with the rice milk.
·      Add the flour mixture, alternating with the rice milk. Beginning and ending with the flour.
·      Gently stir the walnuts into the cake batter.
·      Divide the batter between the prepared pans.
·      Bake for 30-35 minutes
·      Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.

Frosting

1 ½ cups (3 sticks) Fleischmann’s unsalted margarine sticks
5-5 ½ cups powdered sugar (sifted)
3 tsp. vanilla extract

·      Sift the powdered sugar.
·      Place the margarine in a large mixing bowl. Begin mixing, adding a little powdered sugar at a time.
·      Add the vanilla extract.
·      Remove 1 cup of frosting and mix in 1 tsp. imitation maple flavor.

Assembling the cake:

·      Place the first layer on a large plate or cake stand.
Insert 3 strips of parchment or wax paper under the cake. This will help keep the plate clean while frosting.
·      Frost the first layer with the maple frosting.
·      Place the 2nd layer on top of the 1st layer.
·      Frost top and sides of the cake.
·      Remove the parchment paper (If you are coating the sides walnuts, then keep the parchment on the plate until finished).

Optional: Finely chop toasted walnuts (approx.. 1 ½ - 2 cups) and coat the sides of the cake

Another Option: Add 2-3 tsp. to the frosting (in addition to the vanilla) and frost the whole cake with maple frosting.