Category Archives: Sweet

Bourbon Syrup & Candied Bacon

Sadly, one of my long time taste testers has taking advantage of a wonderful job offer and is leaving the sultry humidity of Florida in favor of North Carolina. Since he was one of my first testers and without a doubt one of my most appreciative, I did what any baker would do. I offered to make him any farewell cupcakes he wanted. The prompt response was “anything with peanut butter or booze”, and me being me, I said “let’s do both!”

Once I made that decision, I took to Pinterest for some fresh inspiration. I already have a kick-ass chocolate cake and peanut butter frosting recipe so I wanted to find something that would elevate the two. Within fifteen minutes, I found “Manly Cupcakes” by The Baker in the Rye and had the perfect accompaniment to my peanut butter and chocolate profile, bourbon and bacon. With a few minor tweaks, I was in business and ready to go.

Ingredients for the Maple Candied Bacon

  • 4 slices of Bacon
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • dash nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degreed Fahrenheit.
  2. Place a silicone baking mat or foil on a cookie sheet and top with a baking rack.
  3. Pour maple syrup in one bowl and in another bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper.
  4. Dip the bacon in the syrup so it is fully coated. Then rub the brown sugar mixture into the bacon until it is completely coated in the sugar. Do this for all 4 pieces of bacon. Place each piece on baking rack, making sure it isn’t touching the mat underneath.
  5. Then, bake for 20-25 minutes until it is dark brown in color. *If it is undercooked, it will not candy and become a hard salty treat.

Ingredients for the Bourbon Syrup

  • 1 cup Bourbon
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar

Directions:

  1. In a small pan, bring bourbon to a rolling boil.
  2. Turn to low and add in maple syrup, butter, and dark brown sugar.
  3. Then cook uncovered for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens up and reduces to about 1/3 cup. Let cool before using toppings.

Notes:

  • Even before I stopped drinking, I wasn’t a huge fan of bourbon, so I knew this was something I’d need a little help with. My first helper was the cashier at the liquor store. We talked about what I needed and what I needed it for and he showed me a few different options that would work best for what I had in mind. He also helped me find the best sized bottle since I wouldn’t be drinking the left overs. Andy stepped up for the tasting portion of this adventure since, to me, the syrup tasted only like sweet bourbon. We did several tastings during the process, and he helped me determine when the alcohol had burned off and when the subtle maple and molasses had fully blended. Did I like it when I was done? Nope. Did everyone else? Yep.
  • I’ve tried to make candied bacon once before and hadn’t really had good luck with it, but I wanted to give it another shot. This recipe was pretty different from the first one, and it is hands down my winner. You do have to keep a close eye on your bacon since the difference between candy and charcoal is maybe a minute / minute and a half, but if you pull it off I guarantee it’ll be a crowd pleaser.

 

My recipes are adaptation of this recipe found on The Baker in the Rye.


Pecan Banana Bread with Brown Butter Glaze & Toasted Pecans

I’m on a roll, you guys! I woke up the other day and thought “I want to up my banana bread game,” and a few short hours later, I had this recipe. Now I will admit that this isn’t a “from nothing” origin: I used several different reliable recipes and shuffled, edited, and altered them until I had exactly what I wanted. This bread is dense, rich, nutty, and completely delicious. I can’t wait to make it the next time we have house guests!

Ingredients:

Banana Bread

  • 3-4 ripe bananas
  • 5 1/2 tbsps brown butter
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Glaze

  • 2 1/2 brown butter
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp cream

Topping

  • 1/3 cup chopped almonds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease one standard loaf pan.
  2. Heat the butter over medium high heat until it turns a toasty hazelnut brown. Once the desired color is reached remove from heat immediately.
  3. Mash the bananas in a bowl, then beat in the sugar, brown butter, eggs, pecans and vanilla extract.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda.
  5. Combine the two mixtures, stirring until just incorporated.
  6. Transfer batter to the prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool for 25 minute and then turn out of pan.
  8. Toast the pecans to put on the top of the glaze in the oven for 6-8 minutes.
  9. While the bread is cooling, brown the butter for the glaze.
  10. Whisk together all the glaze ingredients until smooth and then drizzle over the cooled loaf. Top with the toasted pecans.
  11. Enjoy!!!

Notes:

  • I actually don’t have anything I would change about this. I think my only comment would be that it is a little dangerous. With the exception of the two small slices I cut for tasting and photography purposes, Andy ate the rest of the loaf within 6 hours of it being made. I’m just glad it wasn’t me.

Chocolate Lavender Cake with Blackberry Filling & Lavender Frosting

Well guys, I’ve done it. I written the first cake recipe of my 31 before 32 birthday challenge. It was a little labor intensive, mostly because I started with only a vague idea of what I wanted my finished product to look like, but I think things turned out pretty well. Plus, it was pretty delicious if I do say so myself. The recipe looks long, I know, but that is also because I included how I assembled and decorated the cake. You don’t have to take it as far as I did; this cake would still delicious without the fussy presentation. Here we go.

Ingredients:

Cake

Blackberry Filling

  • 4 pints of blackberries (minus 10 pretty ones*)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Lavender Frosting

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter
  • 6-8 cups of powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp powdered lavender*
  • pinch of salt
  • 2-3 drops of food coloring (optional)

Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions

  1. Either the night or several hours before you bake your cake, combine the ganache ingredients in a microwave dish and cook at 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated into the cream. Set aside uncovered for at least 3 hours to cool.
  2. Prepare the cake mix according to the directions on the box and fold in the chopped lavender after the batter is combined. Split the batter evenly between 3 9″ pans and bake as directed.
  3. While the cakes are baking, combine the filling ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until the mixture has thickened sufficiently (A). Allow to cool to room temp before using.
    1. Put a plate in the freezer for about fifteen minutes before taking it out to test a spoonful of hot filling. Take the filling off the heat while testing. Push your finger through the filling on the plate – you’re looking for it to wrinkle and not flood back in to fill the gap.
  4. While the filling and the cake cool, beat softened butter (using a hand or stand mixer) adding the powdered sugar a 1/4 cup at a time until the frosting reaches the right consistency.
  5. Add in the food coloring and powdered lavender and beat for an additional two minutes.

 

Assembly

  1. Carefully, using a serrated knife or leveler, cut the domed top off of each of the cake layers producing three flat even(ish) layers.
  2. Fill piping bag (or ziplock bag) with 1/3 of your frosting.
  3. Starting with the bottom layer make a frosting ring around the bottom and middle layers of your cake.
  4. Split the black berry filling between the two layers carefully spreading across the cake to the frosting ringed edge.
  5. Stack the middle layer onto the bottom layer and the gently top with the top layer.
  6. Using the rest of the frosting in your piping bag (and a little from the bowl if you need) quickly cover the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting (crumb coat) and then place into a refrigerator to set for 25 minutes.
  7. Next, cover the cake in a more generous layer of the frosting, making sure to have a slightly thicker coating on the very top of the cake. Place in the refrigerator for an additional 25 minutes.
  8. Next spoon the cooled ganache over the top of the cake, creating drips down the side.
  9. Garnish the top of the cake with the remaining butter cream and the reserved blackberries. I also elected to use tiny chocolate candies.

Notes:

  • I wanted to try my hand at the “naked” frosting look for this cake, so most of the frosting was on the top and the top half of the side. This way there was still the frosting flavor, but the look was sill achieved because the more frosted bits were covered by the ganache.
  • Andy took the cake to work with him the day after I made it, and it didn’t even make it to lunch time. Which to me is a pretty good indication that the flavors were all balanced. That being said, despite my fondness for lavender, I didn’t want to over do it so that particular flavor could absolutely be turned up if you are baking for an audience with the same fondness. Be careful though; too much and you end up with a soapy taste.


London Fog Sugar Cookies

Still feeling pleased with my recent baking win, I  wanted to try my hand at a similar recipe, these London Fog Sugar Cookies. The cookie part was pretty much the same, and I am a sucker for anything with Earl Grey tea and fresh vanilla. Since we’re currently in what will most likely be our last cold snap of the season, I couldn’t think of a better time to whip up something that pairs great with a hot mug of something.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup confectioner’s (icing) sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean pod, split and seeds removed
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon Earl Grey tea leaves (I just cut open one teabag and measured from there)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons decorating sugar (for rolling, optional)

Directions

  1. In a small bowl or dish, combine the granulated sugar, icing sugar and vanilla bean seeds. Using your hands, rub the seeds into the sugar to evenly distribute them throughout.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter with the vanilla sugar mixture. Add egg and vanilla and mix until blended well.
  3. Add the flour, tea leaves, baking powder and salt and mix to combine into a soft dough.
  4. On a clean work surface, roll the dough into a log. Roll log in decorating sugar (if using). Wrap log tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to 24 hours until ready to bake.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and lightly grease a baking sheet. Slice chilled dough into ¼-inch thick slices. Bake until the edges are light brown and the middles set, about 6-8 minutes. Be aware that the bottoms will brown long before the sides or tops do, so don’t over bake!
  6. Cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Will keep covered at room temperature for 1-2 days.

Notes:

  • Since the Thyme Cookies were so surprisingly wonderful, I had really high hopes for this recipe. Before I get all nit-picky, I want to say this was a solidly good recipe; the problem was that I wasn’t wanting merely “good” I wanted “fantastic”.
  • The biggest issue I had with this recipe was flavor. Not that these had a bad flavor, they were just a little bland. The vanilla was very subtle and the earl grey, well if I hadn’t made them myself, I wouldn’t have known it was in there. They were perfectly fine with an accompanying strong cup of tea. All in all, if I decide to make these again, I am going to have to dial the flavors way up.


Chocolate Chai

This recipe came to me courtesy of one of my west coast friends Verhanika. She is entrepreneur, mother, blogger (Issues & Tissues), and all around bad-ass boss bitch. We met freshman year of college and have been friends ever since. In some of our recent phone conversations, she’d mentioned making herself a Chocolate Chai to enjoy while were on the phone or to wind down in the evenings. Finally I broke down and asked for the recipe because it sounded amazing, and it was.

Ingredients:

Directions:

1. In a small sauce pan over medium heat combine chips and cover with milk.  2. As the chips start melting add your chai mix.  3. Whisk ingredients together until chocolate is fully melted and integrated into the liquid. 4. Carefully, pour into a tall mug, or two smaller mugs, and enjoy!

Notes:

  • The ambiguity on the milk measurement is to allow for people who’d prefer a smaller quantity of beverage or for a more concentrated flavor. Personally, I go for the 1 1/2 cup 😉
  • If you can’t get your hands on the chai mix, you can steep 2 chai tea bags in the hot milk and then finish with a tbsp or two of sugar to add additional sweetness.
  • This beverage is already pretty amazing on its own, but if you want to take completely over the top, you can garnish the final product with a dollop of whipped cream and dusting of cinnamon.