Forget Me Nots

I baked them overnight, when everyone had supposedly gone to bed. This is what I found in the morning…

These cookies are truly appropriately named. When I make these minty, crunchy on the outside, chewy on in the inside puffs of delicious minty goodness with mini chocolate chips inside, they are not forgotten. The kids find them and poof! gone.

Note in the caption above these aren’t quick to make. Depending on temperature, they take 1.5 to 5 hrs or more. The original recipe for these came from my grandma and she always left them in the oven overnight, at least 5 hours. You don’t actually leave the oven on overnight tho; you preheat it, put the cookies in, and turn it off.

If you’re a total chocoholic, you could take these and dip them in melted chocolate when they’re done, either using “melting chocolate” from the store, or by taking a package of chocolate chips and melting 3/4 of it with about 1 T shortening, then adding in the rest of the chocolate chips and stirring ’til melted.

Remember when beating the egg whites to beat them until stiff. The little tips shouldn’t curl over. If you watch The Great British Baking Show (or in the UK, The Great British Bake Off), you’ll see contestants hold their bowl of egg whites over their head to test if they’re stiff. Don’t overbeat them tho; they should remain glossy looking, not dry. Once you’re noticing they’re almost there, it’s probably only a minute or 2 more.

Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites from large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • dash salt
  • 3/4 c. (150 g) white, granulated, sugar (not confectioner’s)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (Make sure it’s gluten-free, corn-free, etc. See Note below.)
  • 1 tsp green creme de menthe or 1/4-1/2 tsp mint extract and a few drops of green food coloring
  • About 1/2-3/4 pkg Enjoy Life miniature chocolate chips, to taste

Note on vanilla extract: I make my own or use one by McCormick that no longer has corn syrup. To make my own, I heat 1 c. (about 235 g or ml) potato vodka and put it in a bottle, then add 8 split vanilla beans. You can use your choice of spirits; from what I understand, many work. After it’s cooled, I add another cup of potato vodka, cap it off, and wait. Shake lightly periodically, and leave it for a couple of months. So delicious…

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C); place oven rack in the middle. (See note below for getting these done more quickly.)
  2. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Prep ingredients, breaking egg whites into a mixing bowl and having everything else measured and at the ready.
  4. Beat egg whites a minute or so on medium speed, then add cream of tartar and a dash of salt. (If you have a KitchenAid mixer, use the wire whisk, speed 3 or 4 to start.)
  5. Continue beating egg whites until stiff. (Increase mixer speed to medium high, and then high. On the KitchenAid, it would be speed 6 for most of the time, ending on 8.)
  6. SLOWLY add sugar. Keeping my mixer at medium speed (4), I just tilt my bowl with sugar on the mixing bowl and keep it in a thin stream until empty; many put the sugar in 1 Tbsp at a time until they’ve added it all.
  7. Add vanilla and creme de menthe; mix briefly until incorporated.
  8. Fold in mini chocolate chips. (I use the wire whisk on the lowest speed on the mixer.)
  9. Dip out onto lined cookie sheet using a metal spoon (I just use a cereal spoon.) or you can get fancy and pipe it out into fun shapes.
  10. Place in the oven and turn the oven off.
  11. Leave 5+ hours without opening the oven door.
  12. Enjoy!

Note on speeding these up: You can use the lowest temperature of the oven and leave on for about 1.5 hrs. Watch carefully tho; you don’t want browned cookies (tho they’ll probably still get ate with joy :). I’ve even played around with leaving at 350 F a few minutes, then turning it down around 270 F (130 C) for 30 minutes, and then down all the way to try and speed them up more. They definitely do best with the 1.5 or 5 hr version tho. If you’ve planned them out, do the 5 hr; then they’re just fix them and forget them if you can ūüôā

All gone!

Gone, but not forgotten…

Practically Perfect Pumpkin Muffins

Omg. I made these today during a break between meetings and they were wonderful. Warm, soft, moist, fall-spicey, pumpkin pie in a muffin, and obviously I couldn’t decide which picture to post, so you see them with and without a streusel on top. Honestly, these don’t need a streusel, but you can do one if you’d like; otherwise, just sprinkle the top with a little sugar (like, very little, probably less than a teaspoon for a dozen muffins; the recipe makes 17-19 muffins).

In developing this recipe, I took inspiration from a recipe for Scrumptious Blueberry Muffins on the back of a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour (light blue bag). The problem? I’m not really into blueberries. So I switched out the blueberries, modified quantity of pumpkin, added spices, and accidentally melted my (dairy-free) butter (oops :). The streusel is adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours. For spices, I referred to Nick Malgieri’s How to Bake from 1995, an excellent cookbook, and one of my first baking cookbooks. When I had modified a pumpkin muffin recipe from there for gluten-free, it was very good, but it was a bit dense. I saw the blueberry one on the 1-to-1 Baking Flour bag and the amount of sugar caught my eye because that was very different from the other recipe. The other ingredients were a bit different as well, but not as much as the sugar. I thought, hmmm, and well, voila.

I’m so happy I didn’t start over when I accidentally melted the butter. Normally you want to cream *softened*, not melted, butter and sugar to incorporate air and build volume so I was worried these were going to be flat as a pancake, but they weren’t! I’ve made the recipe multiple times now and had success with all.

A note on measures. If you’re weighing, don’t worry about being a few grams off with something like flour or pumpkin. My scales measure by 5 g, not by 1 or 2, and a teaspoon or 2 different isn’t going to make that big a difference. If you want to use cup measures, that’ll work, too. Just remember to loosen up the flour before scooping or spoon it in and level it off; don’t pack it down. You’ll get more consistent results with scales tho ūüôā

With pumpkin, I’ve made these with 1 c (240 g) and 1-1/4 c (300 g) of pumpkin. Both work well, but I prefer the results with more pumpkin. The texture and fluffiness of the batter and resulting muffin, as well as the flavor, is better.

This is right after I popped them in the oven. I realized I forgot to take a picture so broke a cardinal rule of temperature maintenance and opened the door ūüôā

Ingredients

  • 2 c (300 g) Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour (blue bag)
  • 2 tsp baking powder (for homemade corn-free, gf substitute see note below)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 c (1 stick, 1/4 lb, 115 g) dairy-free butter, melted and cooled (I use soy-free Earth Balance sticks.)
  • 1-1/4 c (250 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 lg eggs
  • 1/2 c (120 g) buttermilk (I use 1 tsp apple cider vinegar + unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1-1/4 c (300 g) canned pumpkin (*not* pumpkin pie mix)
  • streusel or 1.5 tsp sugar (see below for streusel info)

A note on baking powder – It’s been so long since I bought it at the store, I’m not sure if there are corn-free versions available now or not. I make mine and it’s very easy, just 1/2 tsp cream of tartar, 1/4 tsp baking soda, and 1/4 tsp tapioca starch (or potato starch or arrowroot) is equal to 1 tsp baking powder. The starch isn’t even technically needed; it’s just there to make the equivalent of 1 tsp baking powder in recipes and to keep it from clumping if you make it in larger quantities. I make it in 1/4 c. batches so I have it on hand – 2 Tbsp cream of tartar; 1 Tbsp baking soda; 1 Tbsp starch

Streusel: If you’d like to top your muffins with a streusel, mix 1/4 c. flour, 1/4 c. light brown sugar, and cut in a couple tablespoons of non-dairy butter. (Cut in the butter; don’t blend ’til smooth.)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Line muffin cups with foil liners; I used 18 liners, using 1 12-muffin pan and half of another 12-muffin pan.
  3. If you haven’t already, melt a stick of dairy-free butter in a small bowl in the microwave and let cool to room temperature while you prep the rest.
  4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.
  5. Put butter in mixer bowl and add sugar. Mix a couple of minutes ’til fluffier (I used the flat beater.), scraping down with a rubber spatula a couple of times.
  6. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  7. Add pumpkin, mix well.
  8. Add buttermilk and flour 1/2 at a time, alternatively, mixing after each addition and ending with flour.
  9. Spoon batter into muffin cups.
  10. Sprinkle with sugar or streusel.
  11. Bake 20 min. Muffins should be golden brown and tops should bounce back back if you push down lightly with your finger.
  12. Enjoy!

Ramblings on “Allergy Free” Baking and Gluten-Free “All Purpose” Flour

Update:

I was rereading this post from 7 years ago (!) and realized that very little has changed regarding gluten-free (gf) flours.¬† This is definitely worth a read imho if you’d like to learn about gf flours.¬† In some ways, so many things have changed.¬† There are many more gf products in the store than there was then and people are more aware of food issues than before.¬† If you’re doing your own baking tho, the flours to choose from are largely the same and all-purpose is still not truly for all purposes.¬† I still use brown rice flour, white rice flour, sweet rice flour, quinoa, sorghum, tapioca starch, potato starch, arrowroot, almond flour [tortillas! and chocolate chip cookies (NY Times gigantic, amazing cookies https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1020871-gluten-free-chocolate-chip-cookies%5D, and occasionally millet.¬† For mixes, I use Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour (light blue bag) and Bob’s Red Mill All-purpose Baking Flour (reddish-brown/green/yellow bag).¬† Occasionally I use Pamela’s, but I don’t buy Bella at all any more.¬† I do make graham crackers, but I don’t use Teff.

The original post from Nov, 2014:

Those trying to address food allergies/intolerances in the kitchen see a couple of things frequently that I think everyone should be aware of the associated caveats that go with them — “Allergy Free” recipes and “Gluten-Free All Purpose” flour or baking mix.

“Allergy-Free”

There is no such thing as being allergy-free for everyone. ¬†My oldest son is gluten-free and corn-free. ¬†His is also mostly soy-free, dairy-free, and beef-free, with small exceptions for these last three. ¬†His fish has to be wild, not farmed (they’re fed corn and soy and he can tell it by the increase in pain). ¬†His chicken _can’t_ be organic (same issue as farmed fish) and he does ok with rice flour and can even have rice in small amounts now. ¬†He couldn’t have it for a while, nor eggs and bananas. ¬†Yet even with all of this, I would end up making stuff that other people couldn’t have (my son _can_ have nuts!).

Many recipe books assume corn is ok because they’ve addressed the big 8 allergies. ¬†Nope. ¬†Even Enjoy Life has corn in a few things. Just everyone, please be aware of what you’re putting in the food you make and what’s in the food you eat.

“All-Purpose” flour/baking mix

Gluten-free flours fall into about 4 categories — nut flours, bean flours, starches [white rice flour (fyi, I never use white rice flour, just brown) and corn, tapioca, potato, arrowroot and any other ‘starch’ flour I’m forgetting], and other flours (some call whole grain, but that’s a bit misleading).

I wish there were truly an all-purpose flour out there. ¬†Even in wheat flour, all-purpose is ok, but not truly all-purpose. ¬†Hence the reason I used to have all-purpose flour, pastry flour, bread flour, white whole wheat flour, etc. ¬†Now? ¬†I have brown rice flour, quinoa flour, sorghum flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose flour, Bella’s all-purpose baking mix, and Pamela’s baking and pancake mix (she also makes a ton of other mixes by the way, including those for many baked goods!). ¬†Apparently, I’ll need to add Teff to my inventory if I want to start making graham-like crackers. ¬†There are other blends for sale such as Hodgson’s Mill, Better Batter, and Cup 4 Cup. ¬†I’ve heard great things about c4c, but their original blend has ingredients my son can’t have (corn, dairy) and the other is a “whole-grain” style that I wouldn’t get as much use out of. ¬†Hodgson Mill had amaranth flour, not my favorite (liquorice aftertaste… ūüė¶ ).

What you really want to consider is what you would like to use the flour for and does the “all-purpose” mix fit your needs. ¬†Some of it is a matter of taste and you will probably have to do some trial and error. ¬†If you don’t like bean flours, you won’t want to use Bob’s Red Mill’s all-purpose flour probably. ¬†But may I urge you to give it a try??? ¬†I use this for apple fritters (incredible) and chocolate chip cookies. ¬†I’ve also used it for pizza crust, tho I prefer using a mix that I put together instead. ¬†All-purpose flours with bean flour will give you a earthier taste. ¬†I started to say heavy, but the fritters are most definitely light and yummy. ¬†I’ll post those eventually.

If your all-purpose flour has starches (especially potato starch) and milk powders, it will be a lighter mix, good for something like banana bread and cookies. ¬†Watch to see if there is salt or xanthum gum already in the mix. If there is, you don’t want to add more! ¬†It will either turn out gummy or taste like salt. ¬†Not good.

All-purpose “whole-grain” mixes probably won’t have starches and will lead to denser products; think whole wheat bread.

Another alternative is to simply make your own mix. ¬†It could be as simple as 1/2 brown rice flour, 1/2 tapioca starch, or much more complex. ¬†In general, I would start with 1/2 starches and 1/2 other “whole grain” kinds (by weight if possible). ¬†There was a huge movement looking at ratios where some were concluding 40% starches and 60% other, but that really depends on your elevation, humidity, and taste. ¬†Start with 50/50 and go from there. ¬†If it’s too gummy, try less starches next time. ¬†If it’s too heavy, try more!

Eventually you may want to add nut flours, including coconut, but bear in mind coconut flour absorbs huge amounts of liquid.

Personally, I make my own mix sometimes and use a store-bought one other times, depending largely on how fast I need it. ¬†I do like Bella’s for an excellent pie crust tho.

New Beginnings

Hi all! Well, I made my first gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, corn-free (almost) chocolate chip cookie from scratch yesterday! And the miraculous thing??? It was actually good!! Many thanks to Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom for the recipe which I only slightly modified. She used baking powder, which has cornstarch, so I used 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1/4 tsp cream of tartar instead of a tsp of baking powder. I also used crisco buttery stick because it was the closest I could find to a corn-free, butter flavored baking stick to use. Even then it’s possible that the “flavoring” has corn, but it worked for my son so I’m ok with it for a first try. It was a 4 on a scale of 1-10 on his stomach. My goal is all 1s and 2s, but since he was ok with a 4, well, so was I ūüôā

My son’s head and stomach pains are still there, but much reduced, since he started his elimination diet. We’re trying to add some foods back in, with mixed success. it’s going to be a long road, but I’m very hopeful.

I’m going to start baking again. It’s like learning to bake all over again. So far I’ve learned I need xanthum gum or something similar to help replace the gluten that is not in the flours I’m using. Based on these cookies, I’m guessing that rice flour is about as close as I’m going to get to all-purpose flour. Sorghum is used to give a sweeter (nuttier?) taste to bake goods, and tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch) is great for tenderizing. There’s more, but I’ll save that for later.

Around the World-wise, I expect these meals to resume in a month or so, when I’ve done a little more research and when finances are on a better footing (I’m job interviewing!).

Hope everyone is well and I’ll see you here again soon. I’ll post pics of the choc chip cookies when I get pics up.

Take care!

A Solar Oven and and Learning to Bake

 

Hi all,

So this is my oldest son with his solar oven homework.

Take a pizza box and glue foil along the bottom and sides.  Lay black construction paper in the bottom.  Cut a top flap that is an inch smaller than the top of the pizza box.  Glue foil to the top flap. Tape plastic wrap over the opening with masking tape.  Be sure to tape all four edges.

Remember how a pizza box closes? ¬†The front flap you see actually opens for food to slide in and out of the oven. ¬†Tape a short piece of string to the top (about 12″) so that you can tape the other end of the string to a table or whatever the oven is sitting on so that you can hold the flap open at an angle while the food cooks.

Ok. ¬†So, do you see the s’mores in the box? ¬†They should have been topped with another graham cracker and wrapped with foil before putting in the oven according to his teacher, but this actually worked fine. ¬†You do need to leave them out most of the day tho.

The other thing about the s’mores in the box? ¬†My son can’t actually have those, not the marshmallow, the chocolate, nor the graham cracker. ¬†He also can’t have gluten, corn, oats, or many other things right now because he’s on what’s called an elimination diet. ¬†You remove all potential food allergens or irritants to allow the gut to reset and be happy. ¬†For six months now, his head and stomach have been in constant pain. ¬†Yes, even in the picture; he’s learned to hide it. ¬†No 10 yo should have to do that. ¬†(btw, his hair is long ’cause he grows it for locks of love. ¬†That and he likes long hair :).

When the pain is gone, or between 4 and 6 weeks if it doesn’t go away, we will start adding back in, one by one, all of the foods we’ve dropped so that we can determine which ones are problems. ¬†We did find out yesterday that there is a possibility they missed Crohns in the small bowel, but we’re also fairly sure he has food intolerances. ¬†Gluten is one (he was off for three weeks and then back on and was worse when he was back on; we went through this twice so it’s fairly clear. ¬†lactose is also a problem currently). ¬†There may be others, but right now all food irritates him so we’ve got to get his gut cleared up if possible.

Why am I telling you all of this? ¬†For one thing, it’s ’cause I know some of you have been kind enough to follow this blog or check in now and then to see what’s new and there hasn’t been anything. ¬†For another thing, I may well need to learn to bake again, without who knows what. Gluten, corn [think about it; it’s in everything (vanilla – corn based alcohol; confec sugar – corn starch; baking powder – corn starch (tho you can make your own w/o); even xanthum gum, used in a lot of gluten-free cooking, can be derived from corn)] , etc.

We will eventually get back to our around the world dinners and I’ll eventually bake again, but I won’t be posting to the blog regularly for a while. ¬†We may well end up eating a whole lot healthier after this and actually like it! ūüôā ¬†We shall see. ¬†But change, we must. ¬†My baby needs to be pain-free if at all possible.

Thank you for stopping in and be sure to subscribe so you’ll get new posts when I do start back up. ¬†I still have to post Burkina Faso and Cambodia! ¬†ūüôā

Around the World in Food – Australia, part 1

We’ve recently started a new tradition in our house. ¬†Every Sunday we’re going to make a dinner from a different country around the world. ¬†Notice I said _we’re_ going to make this. ¬†It’s a family effort and we are having a blast with this! ¬†Cooking, learning new things about a country, debating the country we’re going to do the following week, etc. ¬†Great fun ūüôā

So the first week was Australia. ¬†Our meal consisted of wonderfully flavored meat pies, mashed potatoes, a delicious kiwi-banana-papaya fruit salad, and Anzac biscuits (cookies). ¬†Notice what’s missing? ¬†No vegetables! ¬†Don’t know if they have a salad every night or what, but we all enjoyed it. ¬†This is how we all were after dinner…

Let’s start with the dessert, shall we? ¬†After all, that is the best part of dinner, no? ūüôā

Anzac biscuits have long been associated with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC)¬†established in World War I. ¬†According to Wikipedia, there are claims that these cookies were sent by wives to soldiers abroad because the ingredients do not spoil easily and they kept well during transport. ¬†The spoilage part doesn’t make sense tho ’cause even if they had eggs in them (they don’t), the cookies were cooked. ¬†How would they spoil? ¬†What does make sense is that they would travel well. ¬†These are a sturdy, crunchy cookie, but oh so good ūüôā

So let’s get to these, shall we?

Unfortunately I wasn’t thinking so don’t have pictures of these in process. ¬†The only difficult part of these is that the dough looks like crumbles when you’re done mixing it. ¬†I found the best part was to grab handfuls, squish them into balls, and put them on my parchment-lined baking sheet. ¬†They baked up just fine.

ANZAC BISCUITS (cookies)

(adapted from Aussie-Info.com)

Ingredients:

1 c. (90 g) rolled oats (I used quick oats; I’m sure old-fashioned would be fine as well.)

3/4 c. (54 g) shredded coconut

1 c. (120 g) all-purpose flour

1 c. (200 g) white sugar

1 stick (4 oz, 114 g) butter

2 T (30 ml, 41 g) light corn syrup

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 T (15 ml or g) hot water

Directions:

1.  These bake much longer than most cookies do, but at a lower temperature, so preheat your oven to 300 F (150 C).

2. ¬†Line your cookie sheets with parchment. ¬†(Lightly grease your cookie sheet if you don’t have a liner or parchment. ¬†Note that parchment is wonderful — non-stick and easy cleanup! ¬†I use Reynold’s or Wilton brands and just wipe mine off and stick it in the freezer for future use, reusing most sheets 4 or 5 times each.)

3.  Mix oats, flour, sugar, and coconut together in a large bowl.  Set aside.

4.  Place butter and corn syrup in a small saucepan and melt over medium heat.

5.  Mix hot water and baking soda together in a small bowl and pour into the butter/syrup mixture.

6.  Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients and stir together.

7.  You will notice that the mixture is crumbly.  This is ok!  Grab bunches together with your hands, form balls, and place on your prepared cookie sheets a few inches apart from each other.

8.  Bake for 20 minutes.

9.  Remove from oven and cool on racks.  The cookies should be a golden brown color.

10.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Mousse

So, according to my better half, it is National Chocolate Mousse Day. ¬†Well, I couldn’t pass that up. ¬†So, in honour of National Chocolate Mousse Day, I present to you today, not one, but two recipes for it. ¬†Grab the lactaid tablets if you need them ’cause we’re talking lots of cream…

Mise en place. ¬†Pick your poison — semi sweet chocolate (chips work fine as does a bar) or cocoa (Penzey’s natural is my fav). ¬†You’ll also need heavy whipping cream, vanilla, and sugar if you’re using cocoa. ¬†If you’re gluten-free, please be sure to read your labels for your vanilla and chocolate to be sure they’re gluten-free.

These are both super quick recipes and very easy.  The one with the cocoa powder is what I use when I make triple chocolate torte (recipe coming eventually! :)), but frankly they both taste very similar.

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE (using chocolate chips or a chocolate bar):

(adapted from Luscious Chocolate Desserts by Lori Longbotham)

Ingredients:

(fyi, for liquids similar to water in weight, ml and grams are about the same.)

8 oz (227 g) semi-sweet chocolate (both chips and bar work. ¬†I used Ghiradelli chips ’cause they were cheaper)

2 c. (473 ml, 473 g) heavy whipping cream, *divided*

1-1/2 tsp (7.5 ml) vanilla extract

pinch salt , optional

Directions:

1. Bring 1/2 c. (118 ml) heavy whipping cream to a boil in a small saucepan.

2. Remove pan from heat and stir in chocolate, vanilla, and salt (optional) until the chocolate is melted. ¬†Let cool to room temperature. ¬†(If you’re in a rush, transfer it to a glass bowl for quicker cooling; it will be room temp within a few minutes.)

3. Pour remaining cream into a mixing bowl and mix on med-high (I put the wire whip attachment on my stand mixer and set the speed to 6.) until it’s starting to thicken up and you can see trails from the mixer in the cream. ¬†You do _not_ want the cream to form peaks at this point.

4. ¬†Turn the mixer to low and gradually add the room temp chocolate mixture. ¬†You can either drizzle it in while it’s mixing or add it in a few batches. ¬†Once this is mixed in, you’re done!

Pretty easy, no? ūüôā

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE (using cocoa and sugar):

(adapted from Hershey’s Best Cakes)

Ingredients:

(fyi, for liquids similar to water in weight, ml and grams are about the same.)

2/3 c. (135 g) sugar

1/3 c. (27 g) cocoa (natural, not dutched)

1-1/2 c. (355 ml, 355 g) heavy whipping cream

1-1/2 tsp (7.5 ml) vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Combine sugar and cocoa in mixing bowl.

2. Add cream and vanilla.

3. Whisk together briefly to start it and then mix on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until stiff.

How’s that for easy?! ¬†ūüôā

Let me know if you have any questions and enjoy your mousse!

Eat Dirt Dessert

Here’s another no-bake recipe; sorry, but life is just not always what we expect, no? ¬†I’ll get back to baking soon, but right now I’m at a time where I need less time/fuss recipes. ¬†So my youngest munchkin turned 6! ¬†I can’t believe it; my boys are just growing way too fast. ¬†Being super strapped for time, I suggested this for his dessert and he loved it. ¬†I adapted it from a recipe that was given to me twenty years ago (gulp :)). ¬†It’s wonderfully creamy with a hit of chocolate and is pretty fast to put together (I think I took 30 minutes start to finish.).

All you need are Oreo cookies, vanilla pudding mix, milk, butter, cream cheese, and confectioner’s sugar. ¬†I use lactose-free, fat-free milk ’cause that’s what I drink. ¬†I also use Neufchatel cream cheese, which is lower in fat yet still really good, but everything else is the non-low versions. ¬†Feel free to lighten up this recipe as you so desire with low sugar/fat or sugar free / fat free products.

EAT DIRT DESSERT 

Ingredients:

2 small packages (6.8 oz, 192 g all total) of instant vanilla pudding mix

4 cups (900 g) cold milk

1 stick (1/2 c., 113 g) butter

1/3 c. (45 g) confectioner’s sugar

1 package (8 oz, 227 g) Neufchatel cream cheese

1-1/2 containers (12 oz, 340 g all total) cool whip, thawed in the fridge

1-1/2 packages (24 oz, 680 g all total) Oreos (I use regular; use whichever you prefer.)

colored sprinkles

Directions:

1. Put pudding mix in a large bowl.  Mix in milk and set aside for a few minutes to firm up some.

2. Cream together butter and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl.  Use medium to medium-high speed and the flat beater if using a stand mixer.

3. Sift the confectioner’s sugar if lumpy and add to the butter/cream cheese mixture. ¬†Mix well.

4. Stir in prepared pudding and cool whip.

5. Place Oreo cookies about a dozen at a time in a ziploc bag and smash with a rolling pin or the back of a small, sturdy frying pan. ¬†An 8″ cast iron skillet makes quick work of this :)) ¬†Once turned to crumbs, place in a medium bowl and set aside. ¬† Don’t worry if they’re a bit lumpy. ¬†Continue until all cookies are crushed.

6. ¬†Layer the cookies and cream mixtures in a trifle dish, clean flower pot, clean dump truck (serve with a shovel :)), or other deep dish, starting and ending with the dirt. ¬†Sprinkle dirt layers with colorful sprinkles if so desired; I don’t, but it would be very colorful and kids would love it :)). ¬†If you have any leftover cream mixture, it freezes well so you can save it.

7.  I sprinkled the top with candy sprinkles, but you can add gummy worms or wrap the bottom of a plant in plastic wrap and stick it down in there to make it look like a potted plant.

Enjoy!

Cream Cheese Thumbprint Cookies

This recipe was given to me by my aunt in Michigan originally; she is an amazing cook.  I just modified it a bit to make a thumbprint cookie out of it.  There is a lot you can do with this cookie for one with so few ingredients Рfour!  Egg, cream cheese, butter, and cake mix.

To make the thumbprint cookie, I of course added one more ingredient, jam.

You could use sooo many different kinds of cake mix tho. ¬†I use Butter, but you could use Yellow, Devil’s Food, or whatever your favorite is. ¬†You may want to add an extra egg for Devil’s Food since cocoa tends to create a dryer product unless more moisture/fat is added. ¬†You could also omit the thumbprint and sprinkle with colored sugar. ¬†Red and/or green sprinkled cookies are especially pretty at Christmas ūüôā

A note on the brand of cake mix. ¬†I have been told for as long as I can remember that I should buy stock in Duncan Hines. ¬†They have received lots of free advertising from me over the years. ¬†When I buy a mix, that’s all I buy. ¬†Unless you have found a cake mix that is as consistently moist as Duncan Hines, if you use a different brand of cake mix for this recipe, I recommend adding an extra egg for moisture.

You just mix the ingredients together, refrigerate for an hour, drop them out onto parchment lined cookie sheets, and bake.  For thumbprints, I baked them for 7 minutes, pulled them out, used a round 1/2 teaspoon measure to make a nice dip in them, and put in about a 1/2 teaspoon of slightly warmed jam.

I then returned them to the oven for about 3 minutes and pulled them out.

For blue and gold cookies for cubscouts, I used a pureed homemade fresh blueberry pie filling for the thumbprint ūüôā

Ingredients:

1 extra large egg

1 butter-flavored cake mix (I prefer Duncan Hines by far)

1 package (8 oz, 114 g) cream cheese (Neufchatel ok; this has less fat than regular cream cheese.)

1/2 stick (2 oz, 57 g) butter

1/4 c. (80 g) raspberry jam, or whatever flavor you like

Directions:

1) Cream together cream cheese and butter using either a wooden spoon or the flat beater attachment on a stand mixer.

2) Add in cake mix and egg and continue mixing.  Once thoroughly mixed, cover with wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

3) Preheat oven to 350F (177C).  While preheating, drop cookies onto a parchment lined cookie sheet using either a cookie scoop or knife and spoon.

4) Bake for 7 minutes. ¬†Meanwhile, preheat jam either in pyrex cup in warm water or in a microwave. ¬†You just need to warm it enough to drop it by spoon into the cookies. ¬†Do not liquify it ūüôā

5) If making thumbprint cookies:  After 7 minutes, pull the cookies out.  They may have a few brown tips on the cookies here and there, but will not have much.  Use a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon to make a little dip in the middle of them.  Add in warmed jam.  I found it easier to use a 1/4 teaspoon measure to do this, having it nicely rounded so I was really putting in slightly under 1/2 of a teaspoon of jam into each cookie.

If _not_ making thumbprints, do not pull them out until they are done, after about 10 minutes.

6)  Put the cookies back in the oven for 3 minutes.

7) Pull the cookies out of the oven and cool on a rack. ¬†They’re bottoms should be a nice golden brown, but the tops will just have a few brown tips.

These are a very different cookie for some people since they’re yellow, but one bite of this soft, flavorful cookie and they’ll be won over ūüôā

Brigadeiros

I first saw these little gems on an America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) post. ¬†They were just so cute! ¬†Simple, too – just three ingredients + decorating candies (nonpareils)! ¬†¬†In all of the posts I found around the internet, none used vanilla, but they screamed vanilla to me, so mine have four ingredients + nonpareils ūüôā ¬† My little brigadeiros are not quite traditional, but they sure are good!

The other thing I noticed is that many of the recipes around the web had very little cocoa. ¬†2 tablespoons, 3 tablespoons. ¬†Ummm. ¬†I guess I’m a chocoholic ’cause that’s not much at all to me. ¬†Eight tablespoons, which is what ATK used did seem a bit much to me so I guess there are even chocolatier chocoholics out there. ¬†I put in 7. ¬†You could get away with 6, but I wouldn’t drop it much more or you may as well scoop the sweetened condensed milk right out of the can and into your mouth ūüôā

Something else widely noted was that The United States’ version of sweetened condensed milk isn’t as sweet as that found in Brazil. ¬†wow. ¬†I have a sweet tooth, but I cannot imagine using something even sweeter. ¬†If you’d like, using Nestle’s Quick chocolate drink mix was suggested in several recipes instead of cocoa to make up for the less sweet condensed milk we have. ¬†I did not do this as they are plenty sweet to me.

I also added more butter for a creamier candy, and used natural cocoa instead of Dutch processed, so in the end, I tweaked this quite a bit, but I think you’ll like it.

ok. ¬†enough background info. ¬†Grab a can of sweetened condensed milk, some cocoa powder (regular, natural cocoa, not Dutch processed), some butter, and your vanilla and let’s get to this!

Ingredients:

1 can ( 14 oz, 397 g) sweetened condensed milk (_not_ evaporated milk)

7 tablespoons (40 g) natural cocoa powder (Penzeys is wonderful!)

1/2 stick (2 oz, 57 g) butter

1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla

Directions:

1) Cut up the butter a bit and put it in a small saucepan on medium-low heat along with the condensed milk and cocoa powder.

2) Keep stirring until you think your arm’s going to fall off, occasionally swiping a rubber spatula down the middle to see if it leaves a path. ¬†Once it does, remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla. ¬†This will take about 15-20 minutes.

3) Pour the mixture into a buttered 8″ x 8″ (20 cm x 20 cm) glass dish and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

4) After 30 minutes, pull it out and scoop the mixture into little balls using either your fingers or a small spoon and your thump to scoop it off.

5) Roll into small balls and roll the balls into nonpareils.  You could include various colorful ones and chocolate shot, or a mixture thereof.

Enjoy!

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