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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.
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!
- 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
- 2 1/2 brown butter
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp cream
- 1/3 cup chopped almonds
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease one standard loaf pan.
- Heat the butter over medium high heat until it turns a toasty hazelnut brown. Once the desired color is reached remove from heat immediately.
- Mash the bananas in a bowl, then beat in the sugar, brown butter, eggs, pecans and vanilla extract.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda.
- Combine the two mixtures, stirring until just incorporated.
- Transfer batter to the prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes.
- Allow to cool for 25 minute and then turn out of pan.
- Toast the pecans to put on the top of the glaze in the oven for 6-8 minutes.
- While the bread is cooling, brown the butter for the glaze.
- Whisk together all the glaze ingredients until smooth and then drizzle over the cooled loaf. Top with the toasted pecans.
- 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.
I love watching recipe videos; I can spend hours on sites like Tasty or Delish. I think about how I could rediscover my passion for cooking, become the next Martha Steward and make all the things. This ambition inevitably gets derailed somewhere between watching the video and getting up to go to the grocery store. Christmas day my brother in law and his girlfriend came down to stay with Andy and I for a few days, and we agreed that we’d all enjoy a bit of holiday baking. When the idea of cheesecake came up, I hit Pinterest and quickly located the Death by Chocolate recipe I had pinned and Facebooked a couple of weeks ago. After watching the video, they agreed to give it a shot, and spoiler, we kind of killed it 🙂
- 24 whole Oreo cookies
- 6 tbsp. melted butter
- Pinch kosher salt
- 4 (8-oz.) packages of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 c. granulated sugar
- 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1/4 c. cocoa powder
- 9 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped and melted
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 1/2 c. chocolate chips
- 3/4 c. heavy cream
- Chocolate shavings, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and position an oven rack in the middle of the oven.
- Make crust: In a large Ziploc bag or a food processor fitted with a metal blade, crush or blend Oreos until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a bowl and pour in melted butter. Add salt and stir until crumbs are completely coated and moist.
- Make cheesecake: In a large bowl using a hand mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment), beat cream cheese, sugars, cocoa powder and salt until smooth. Add eggs one a time, beating well between each addition. Fold in melted chocolate.
- Coat a 9″ springform pan with cooking spray and press Oreo mixture into pan and 1/3 of the way up the sides, packing tightly. Pour cheesecake filling over crust.
- Bake until cheesecake is only slightly jiggly in the center, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. (If you want to use a water bath to ensure cheesecake top does not crack, wrap the outside of the pan in aluminum foil and place in a baking dish. Place on oven rack and pour in enough boiling water to reach halfway up the pan. Follow baking instructions.) If using a water bath, remove pan from water and unwrap foil. Refrigerate cheesecake until totally chilled, at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
- Make ganache: Place chocolate chips in a medium, heatproof bowl and set aside. Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. When bubbles begin to break the surface around the edges of the pan, turn off the heat. Pour the hot cream over chocolate chips, whisking constantly until the sauce is smooth.
- Pour ganache on top of the cheesecake. Garnish with chocolate shavings. Return to the refrigerate for about 10 more minutes to let the ganache set.
- I neglected to really read the actual recipe until after we’d already started baking, but I was a little annoyed with the “refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to overnight” part. The video implies immediate cheesecake gratification, and we had to wait: so lame. Other than that, this is a really great recipe and I can’t think of a single thing I’d do differently. 9 out of 10 to be sure.
In pursuit of getting one step closer to crossing off #8 off of my 30 before 31, I pulled out a cookbook I received for Christmas from my brother-in-law and his girlfriend. It’s chock full of chocolaty perfection, and I was eager to make something Andy and I could quickly grab as a snack in between running errands and our household chores.
After perusing the book for a few minutes, I landed on this tea bread. It was pretty simple to whip up, and I thought with a couple of tweaks it would be pretty perfect for us.
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 4 eggs lightly beaten
- 8 oz semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup craisins
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- zest of one orange
- 2 cups self rising flour
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a loaf pan and line the bottom with baking parchment.
- Cream together butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each. If the mixture starts to curdle beat in 1-2 tablespoons of the four.
- Mix in the chocolate, the crasins, the pecans, the vanilla and the orange zest. Sift the flour and gently fold into the mixture.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan and create a small well down in the center with the back of a spoon.
- Place loaf pan in the preheated oven and bake for 50 minutes to an hour.
- Leave to cool in pan for 5 minutes then carefully turn our to finish cooling.
- Serve in thin slices.
- At first glance, it looks like I changed a lot of this recipe, and to a certain extent ,that is true. I replaced three of the ingredients because of Andy’s food allergies and my absolute disdain of raisins, but I tried to stay close to the original recipe by swapping them for items that wouldn’t alter the integrity. There was still chocolate, dehydrated fruit, and nuts, so I think it all came out pretty true in the end.
- I left my bread in the full hour, and it came out a little drier than I like, which isn’t a problem if you are actually serving this with tea, but I think next time I’ll cut 5-10 minutes off the cook time.
I have bought quite a few cookbooks over the last decade or so, but I hardly ever use them. I leaf through them every now and again and make mental notes of things I would like to make “soon”. Before you know it, the book is back on the shelf, and I’ve forgotten all about it. I made a pledge earlier this year to make a real effort to use these beautiful books for their intended purpose instead of using them as paperweights or coasters. On our recent trip to Disney, Andy bought me a copy of Baked Occasions, and I swore to myself that I would make at least one of the recipes before February was over. I’m cutting it a bit close, but I am proud to tell you that I have successfully made Very Vanilla cupcakes.
- As you can see from the photo, I decided to use this recipe for cupcakes instead of a layer cake (makes 30 cupcakes). The only problem is this recipe follows the low and slow methodology for baking that produces a nice level cake. Not what you want for cupcakes; you want them to be a little humped up in the center instead of flat across. I forgot to correct for this and had rows and rows of flat little cupcakes. Next time I’ll crank the baking temp to 350 and reduce the bake time to 20-25 minutes.
- This very vanilla frosting is my new favorite, non ganache frosting recipe. So much better than standard butter cream! It tastes a lot liked whipped cream, but you don’t have to worry about melting. While I am usually not much of a frosting girl, I caught myself absentmindedly sticking my finger is the bowl of left over frosting while I was cleaning up. I can’t wait to try this recipe out with some other flavor options.
- I have to admit I was a little intimidated by this recipe the first time I looked at it. The ingredient list is really long, there are so many different steps, and the idea of cooked frosting is still pretty new for me. Seeing it from the other side, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but it was a bit more labor intensive than I usually go for. I am a big fan of one bowl mixes. As far as the cake recipe goes, I would use it again, but probably only for a special occasion.
I am excited to try more things from this book. I think it’s going to force me to stretch a bit as a baker, which is never a bad thing.