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With three kick-ass recipes under my belt, I am finding myself more and more adventurous when it come to the recipes in Sweet & Vicious. In the interest of dipping my toe a teeny bit further into the pool, I decided to try my hand at Maniac Fire Bread, which, with its combination of rich chocolate and spicy serrano chile, sounded like it would be awful or amazing. Oh, and of course, you can’t forget the accompanying Raspberry Smoked Sea Salt Butter.
- This recipe is surprisingly easy; the only difficulty I had was the handling of the chile. You see, something about the oils in any chile pepper irritates my hands and causes them to swell. Unusual, but something to take in to consideration every time a recipe requires that particular addition. Fortunately, Andy was gallant enough to taking on the task of mincing so my temperamental skin was spared.
- Flavor-wise, I was worried that the chile would be too much for what is a fairly simple bread, but it wasn’t an issue. The richness and the sweetness of all that chocolate and cocoa powder kept the spice from being anything more than the occasional sensation of heat on the back of your pallet. That was a pleasant departure from the cloying sweetness of some of the classic quick bread recipes.
- I’ve already had two people ask me for a copy of this recipe. I find that truly impressive. Not only did they like it, they liked enough to want to make it for themselves even before knowing whether the recipe is complex or not. High praise indeed.
Feeling buoyed by my recent success, I decided to continue on my Sweet & Vicious baking streak. This time I selected a recipe that actually allowed for a lot of variance, but still maintained the sass that I am coming to expect from this book. First, I decided on the cobbler quickbread and, after checking my fridge, refined it to the blackberry iteration of the recipe. Then of course, I went all the way by adding the recommended flavor elevator of blackberry lemon thyme butter to pair with the finished product. Here’s how it went:
- This recipe made me so happy! Reading it and mentally running through the steps, it seemed… well… a bit extra, but every little thing blends perfectly into something so delightful that you don’t mind the effort. Just go for it; you won’t regret it.
- While the base recipe is solid, it is the bells and whistles that really take this over the top. First the spiced topping, that pinch of cayenne brings the most subtle hint of heat which in turn brings out the sweetness in the berries. The compound butter adds an extra level of richness, and the lemon zest paired with the mashed fruit keeps that slight tart that makes this more than just another sweet quickbread.
- I am having so much fun with this book; the more recipes I try, the more I want to make.
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
- Preheat oven to 400 degreed Fahrenheit.
- Place a silicone baking mat or foil on a cookie sheet and top with a baking rack.
- Pour maple syrup in one bowl and in another bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper.
- 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.
- 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
- In a small pan, bring bourbon to a rolling boil.
- Turn to low and add in maple syrup, butter, and dark brown sugar.
- 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.
- 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.