Well. Apparently another month has already evaporated right before my eyes. I am hoping that November is a bit kinder with my schedule, but frankly I think I’m just slightly delusional to think that is gonna happen. I have had about a billion and one (ok, at least 20 for reals) posts that I wanted to post in the past month and yet though I have pictures and recipes jotted on various scraps somewhere, I cannot seem to get my act together. So, I know I completely stink and still haven’t posted that recipe for those Levain Double Chocolate Chip Cookies I teased you with… last month. Seriously, I stink. I only hope you can forgive me and know that I have actually just been trying to track down my dang notes!! In fact, to that end, I have spent the last week dejunking and sorting through the various piles, boxes and bags of notes, recipes, ideas and notebooks I have running around my kitchen. Organization is obviously NOT my strong suit. Nonetheless, I have made progress and tracked down and organized my notes, not just for the chocolate cookies, but for many other recipes I’ve put together over the past few months and couldn’t seem to keep track of. I’m determined to get caught up and get posting!
To that end, at least I still haven’t failed on a Secret Recipe Club post (about the only thing I haven’t!) and am now (yep, at the last minute) happy to bring you my review of my SRC blog assignment for the month. Incidentally, I also wanted to give a quick shout-out to our groups’ new hostess, Jane Bonacci of The Heritage Cook! Amanda is still playing along as part of the group, but is working hard behind the scenes to grow and improve the SRC site. Thanks ladies!
This month I received the beautiful blog, All Day I Dream About Food, belonging to the also lovely Carolyn. She is a SAHM (like me!) of 3 (also like me!) who loves to cook, bake and eat (ding ding ding – like me again!). Unlike me however, Carolyn was diagnosed last year with pre-diabetes and cooks many absolutely amazing looking low-carb and gluten-free recipes. I am still just barely figuring out how to adapt recipes for various dietary reasons around our house, and am always so impressed with those bakers and home cooks who are killin’ it in that department. Carolyn definitely qualifies for that description!
I have to tell you, when I received yet another blog that had a specific dietary focus, I wasn’t actually phased at all. Especially this time. I couldn’t have been more thrilled! Why you may ask? Because I never really know where to begin looking for blogs that cover other types of dietary concerns that I’m not as familiar with, and fate decided last month that my nephew (a fellow food lover) was to find out that he has Type 1 Diabetes. Needless to say, the past several weeks have been an adjustment for him and my SIL. Actually, in reality they are very healthy eaters and didn’t have that much of a change to make, but it is definitely a change to have to track things so carefully and learn all about how this would affect their lives. I was thrilled to be able to tell my SIL that I knew about a fabulous blog with many great recipes that would help them with this. Seriously, the timing couldn’t have been better! In fact, I was also excited to see that Carolyn recently participated in a new cookbook project that is called Low Carbing Among Friends, and will be a great resource for them.
Carolyn also has many recipes that are ‘regular’ and since I didn’t have some of the specialty ingredients some of her other baking calls for I decided to adapt a couple of those recipes.
The first one I decided to make was a version of Carolyn’s Triple Chocolate Granola Bars, which looked perfect as is, but I decided to go for a really dark chocolate flavor and substitute the honey in the recipe with molasses (I really love chocolate and molasses together, but if you aren’t a big molasses fan I would suggest just sticking with the honey or going for a combination). The only other change I made was to frost them with a white chocolate peanut butter layer instead of the pretty swirls of white chocolate Carolyn used, and to sprinkle a few extra mini chocolate chips over the top. Luckily for me, my boys love a good dark chocolate flavor too, so they have loved these granola bars, and I felt pretty darn good about them as a treat/snack for my kiddos! They are chocolatey, just a little chewy and packed with flavor. We will definitely make these again!
Incidentally, the thing you should understand about the fact that I love feeding my boys fattening food is that we are STILL working with the nutrition clinic for all 3 kiddos trying to get their growth on track. Literally, to try and just get ANY calories into my grazing/non-eaters I’ve been pretty much given carte blanche with their diets to just try to fatten them up. Hi, my name is Holly, and I live in Oppositeville. It drives me nuts! Anyway, I digress.
The other recipe I decided to adapt was one that she posted for Easter. These little buns are basically a yeast raised dough that includes a bit of baking soda for a little extra oomph. The dough itself is cut into little balls, dipped in butter, rolled in cinnamon and sugar and then fit into muffin cups for baking. I decided to adapt these for Fall and turned them into Pumpkin Bubble Buns. I have to tell you, we went nuts over these (and we aren’t even huge pumpkin fans!). The pumpkin flavor was noticeable, but still fairly subtle. The buns themselves were tender, and laced with cinnamon, sugar and a little nutmeg and allspice in the dough for a spiced flavor. I was originally going to drizzle a little bit of a simple glaze over these or at least some maple syrup or something, but honestly, they didn’t need anything else. We absolutely devoured these and my boys have already been bugging me to make them again!
Just as a reminder for me (and other ideas for you) here are a few more recipes I can’t wait to try from Carolyn’s blog:
Homemade White Chocolate Peanut Butter – can’t WAIT to make this! My boys would go bonkers over it! Especially now that we have that recipe from last month’s SRC!
Caramelitas – these sound like the cookie/bar of my dreams – chocolate, caramel, oats, pecans – all in one place – yes please!
Homemade Chocolate Chips – yep, you read that right, she figured out how to make her own chocolate chips (not just chopped chocolate either)
Coconut Cocoa Nib Breakfast Bars – I love cocoa nibs and there is something so tempting about the idea of eating these for breakfast!
Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Pancakes – ’nuff said. Tis the season, and she includes two versions of the recipe
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies – these ones are low carb and gluten free and I will hopefully be making them soon for my nephew
Dark Chocolate Granola Bars with White Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze
Adapted from All Day I Dream About Food
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup blackstrap molasses or honey
2 tbsp water
2 cups old-fashioned oats (gluten free, if possible)
1/2 cup flax seed meal
3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350F.
Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the ends for easy removal and cleanup. Grease parchment paper.
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter, brown sugar, cocoa powder and molasses (or honey) and water together. Stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture is smooth. Let cool to room temperature but still melted (or your chocolate chips will melt when you stir them in).
In a large bowl, stir together the oats, flax seed meal, chocolate chips and salt. Add butter mixture to oat mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Spread mixture evenly in pan and press down firmly. Use the flat-bottom of a measuring cup if you have one, or if you left enough overhang from your parchment you can fold it over and use your hands to press down with the parchment and get a nice flat, even layer.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until set (mine took about 22 minutes and they were bubbly around the edges, but you could tell everything had melded together and baked into a bar). Let the bars cool in pan for 20 minutes before spreading them with the glaze.
White Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze
3 oz white chocolate or 1/3 cup white chocolate chips
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 tablespoon butter
milk, if needed, to get a spreadable consistency
2 tablespoons mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, for sprinkling
Melt white chocolate and butter together in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water (don’t let bottom of bowl touch water). Stir until smooth and chocolate is mostly melted. Remove the mixture from the heat before it is completely melted so you don’t burn and separate the white chocolate. Stir to finish melting. Add the peanut butter, powdered sugar and a little milk if needed to get a smooth, slightly thick, but spreadable consistency. Spread the glaze evenly over the granola bars in the pan, pressing it into the cracks of the bars. Sprinkle the mini chips over the bars before the glaze has set. Allow the bars to cool completely before using the parchment sling to remove them to a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut into bars or squares.
Makes about 18 bars, cut as shown.
Pumpkin Spice Bubble Buns
1 tablespoon instant yeast
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 3/4 cups flour, plus more for kneading
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
In the bowl of stand mixer, stir together the yeast brown sugar, flour, salt, baking soda, nutmeg and allspice. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, melted butter, sour cream, egg and vanilla. Using the paddle attachment, add to the flour mixture and beat to combine well. Switch to the kneading hook (or knead by hand), adding as little extra flour as possible to make a very soft, smooth dough. Set aside in a buttered bowl to rise till doubled in size, about 45 minutes depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
Meanwhile, in a shallow dish combine the brown sugar, sugar and cinnamon and mix well. Set aside. Place the melted butter for the coating in a shallow bowl as well.
Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin pan, and then flour the cups and tap out excess flour, or line with cupcake liners (but still grease them – the cinnamon/sugar coating gets sticky when it melts!)
Punch down dough to deflate. Form into a long cylinder and then divide into 12 equal portions. Divide each portion into 6 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball. (NOTE: I actually made my dough balls smaller and ended up with about 8 per cup, but the process is the same and would have taken less time with fewer pieces).
For each bun, coat six balls with melted butter and then roll them in cinnamon sugar. Arrange five balls in the bottom of a prepared muffin cup. Using your fingertip, make a small well in the center and press in the sixth ball, or just fit all six pieces into the cups as tightly and close together as you can.
Repeat with remaining dough and muffin cups. Cover buns loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until puffy and have doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350F. Bake buns until golden, 20-22 minutes. Let cool in pan 5 to 10 minutes and then tilt pan and gentle tap on a work surface to release buns. If needed, use a knife to help release them. Don’t let them cool completely in the pan because they will stick, but are much easier to remove from the pan while a little warm, and tasted best when just slightly warm, but were also great at room temperature.
Makes 12 buns.