Coffee Cake Muffins with Crunchy Almond Topping

A couple weekends ago Mr. Surly made a comment on how coffee cake sounded good. On weekends he likes sweets that compliment his coffee. I haven’t had coffee cake in years, so I set out to make some. I knew I wanted them in cupcake form for perfect individual portions. I went onto Tasty Kitchen to view some recipes. I finally settled on this recipe as a base; of course I had to make my own tweaks.

I wanted to make a crunchy nut topping. I figured a few oxalates from the almonds wouldn’t hurt me. I would rather have used walnuts instead of almonds, but I didn’t have any. Without the nut topping these would have been a good low oxalate treat.

I messed up the recipe a bit, you were supposed to reserve some of the filling and use it as the topping. But my medicated brain missed that step–ooops. It didn’t matter though, I made my own topping and got a few extra cupcakes from the batter.

These were delightful. A perfect accompaniment to Mr.Surly’s coffee and my cappuccino. These did not last long. I think they only lasted 2 days. Which is good, since I have a list of other sweets I want to make.

Coffee Cake Muffins with Crunchy Almond Topping
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makes about 9 muffins

for the cupcakes:
1 ¼ c flour
¼ c + 2 Tbl sugar
½ c brown sugar
~½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
¼ c + 2 Tbl applesauce (or oil)
½ c buttermilk
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp apple cider vinegar (or white)
½ tsp vanilla

for the crunchy nut topping:
1.5 oz whole almonds (~ 1/3 c)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbl flaxseed oil (or melted butter)
2 Tbl brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F

make the muffins:
Sift together flour, both sugars, spices and salt in mixing bowl. Add applesauce, buttermilk and baking soda. Whisk or mix well. Add baking powder, vinegar, and vanilla. Mix well.

make the topping
Finely chop or pulse in food processor a few times. Add other ingredients and stir.

Fill greased or papered muffing wells almost to the top. Sprinkle topping over muffin batter. Let it sit on top, not sink in.

Bake 20 minutes or until inserted pick comes out clean.

Cool on wire rack.

Source: halved and adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

I was excited to make these rolls. It’s originally from Alton Brown and I like his simple, minimal-effort, yummy recipes. I have been planning on making them since November. I originally wanted to serve them for breakfast on Thanksgiving, but with all the other cooking I was doing these got pushed aside. The recipe has been sitting on the kitchen counte ever since, just calling out to be made. Finally, I made them. All I have to say is Wow! These are beyond incredible. So much better than Cinnabon, because they aren’t as sugary and they don’t give you an instant cavity.

It’s nice to be able to control the amount of sweetness. I added walnuts for additional fat, omega 3s, and slight crunch. Mr. Surly approved as well. We also liked that they weren’t too sugary-sweet and you could put as much (or as little) icing on as desired. I will definitely be making these again. It wasn’t a lot of work, just be sure to plan ahead to give the rolls time to rise overnight.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
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Yield: ~12 cinnamon rolls

for the dough:
4 large egg yolks, room temp
1 large whole egg, room temp
1/4 cup sugar
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temp
20 oz flour (~4 cups), plus additional for dusting
1 pkg (2¼ tsp) instant dry yeast
1 ¼ tsp kosher salt
Vegetable oil or cooking spray

for the filling:
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/4 Tbsp ground cinnamon
pinch salt
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
(generous) ¼ c finely chopped walnuts

for the icing*:
2-3 Tbsp milk
1 cup powdered sugar
~ ½ tsp lemon juice (opt)

make the dough:
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, and buttermilk. Add ~2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; whisk until moistened and combined. Add all but ¾ cup of the remaining flour and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Check the consistency of the dough, add more flour if necessary; the dough should be soft and moist but not sticky. Knead/stir until the dough clears the side of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand ~30 seconds. Lightly oil a large bowl with cooking spray. Transfer the dough to the bowl, lightly spray the top of the dough with olive oil cooking spray, cover and let double in volume, 2 to 2 ½ hours.

make the filling:
Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Set aside until ready to use.

to assemble:
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently shape the dough into a rectangle with the long side nearest you. Roll into an 18×12 inch rectangle. Brush the dough with a bit of melted butter, leaving a ¾ inch border along the top edge. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, leaving a ¾-inch border along the top edge; gently press the filling into the dough. Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the seam to seal and roll the cylinder seam side down. Very gently squeeze the cylinder to create even thickness. Using a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 1 ½ -inch rolls. (I only sliced 6 rolls, and froze the rest of the dough). Arrange rolls cut side down in a buttered/greased baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight or up to 16 hours.

to bake:
Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place in an oven that is turned off. Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full of boiling water and set on the rack below the rolls. Close the oven door, allow the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy; ~30 minutes. Remove the rolls and the shallow pan of water from the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown (or til the internal temperature reaches 190F) ~25-30 minutes.

While the rolls are cooling slightly, make the icing* by whisking ingredients until smooth. Spread over the rolls and serve immediately.

*note: since I only baked about half the rolls, I just added ½ c powdered sugar with 3 ½ tsp milk and ½ tsp fresh lemon juice.

Source: slightly adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride, originally from Food Network

Macadamia Fudge

I love chocolate but I’m not a big fan of fudge. I think it’s because I feel like eating fudge is a waste of calories; I’d rather just eat a square of dark chocolate.

I don’t have a go-to fudge recipe since I don’t eat it so I started looking around for recipes. I admit I was nervous, especially after all the trouble I had last week with the mint recipe. Most of the simple and easy recipes called for a jar of marshmallow fluff or mini marshmallows. I detest marshmallows and marshmallow fluff; way too sweet and sugary for my taste. I found it difficult to find an easy fudge recipe that did not include this stuff. I learned in my recipe research that fudge gets its smooth consistency from careful temperature monitoring. For people who don’t want to fiddle around with a candy thermometer to maintain the perfect fudge cooking temperature, marshmallow fluff is the secret to smoothness. So what about people, like me, who don’t want to deal with a candy thermometer nor add a jar of marshmallow fluff?

There had to be a recipe out there for me so I kept searching for a fudge that sounded appealing. I finally settled on this marshmallow fluff-free recipe. It turned out to be pretty good, a bit on the sweet side, but still good. Using evaporated milk instead of sweetened condensed milk might cut down on the sweetness factor. I ended up making a full batch and froze some. Though, at the rate that Mr. Surly is eating them up, the frozen ones might not last much longer.

Tonight I head north to the city of Brotherly Love for the next week and a half to be with family for Christmas. I envision myself snuggled up on the couch, watching movies while being attended to by worried, loving family members. It will be wonderful to be coddled and made much of. Though I’m not looking forward to cold temps and snow.

Macadamia Fudge
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yield: ~2 lbs

18 oz semisweet chocolate (~3 c chocolate chips)
1 can (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
pinch salt
5 oz (~1 c) chopped macadamia nuts
1 ½ tsp vanilla
butter, for greasing the dish

Line an 8×8 inch square pan with foil. Grease the foil with butter, set aside.

Melt the chocolate, milk, and pinch salt, either on the stove over low heat, or in the microwave in 30 sec intervals. I combined them in a 4 qt glass measuring cup and melted in the microwave.

Once chocolate is melted, stir in the vanilla and nuts. Pour into prepared pan and chill until firm (~2 hrs).

Lift foil out of pan; peel away from fudge. Cut into bite-sized squares. Store in airtight container.

Source: Taste of Home’s Best Loved Cookies and Candies 2010

Cranberry Apple Walnut Crunch

I know I have talked about how my doctor has requested me to eat lots of sugary, fatty dessert and how I have done my best to follow this. But eating cakes, tartlettes, ice cream, etc gets old pretty fast when you’re eating them every day. Plus, I have to prepare and bake all these treats. Thank goodness it’s now Halloween season. I loaded up on candy and have been snacking on that all throughout the day. I bought one of those fun, plastic jack-o-lantern trick or treat holders, and I keep it on the table beside the couch so it’s near me and I can reach over and eat some candy whenever I want. But this post isn’t about candy, nor my snacking on it; it’s about me finally getting in the kitchen and baking something.

Our weather temperatures are starting to drop to a comfortable mid-70 degrees, so it’s actually starting to feel like fall (at least in the mornings and evenings). Trying to get into the spirit of the season, I thought I’d make some kind of fall-ish dessert. I love cranberries and decided to make some kind of dessert using them. I didn’t really follow a recipe, I just looked at some recipes I had for fruit crisps, cobblers, and crumbles and kind of combined some of them to make this. It turned out so tasty. I wish I would’ve have made some whipped cream or bought some ice cream for topping, that would have made it even better.

Cranberry Apple Walnut Crunch
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10 oz bag cranberries (I used frozen)
2 apples, cored and diced (I used Gala)
~2 Tbsp orange juice (I just added a couple splashes)
1-2 tsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 c rolled oats (I used an oat multi-grain cereal)
¼ c brown sugar
¼ c sugar
1/3 c whole wheat flour (all purpose is fine, too)
~¼ tsp cinnamon
a bit of freshly grated nutmeg
6 Tbsp butter, cut up and chilled
~¼ c chopped walnuts
1 Tbl ground flaxseed meal (opt)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter an 8×8 (or similar) baking dish.

In medium bowl combine cranberries, apples, orange juice, sugar and cornstarch; toss to combine. Spread fruit mixture evenly in baking dish.

In a separate bowl, combine oats, both sugars, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. With pastry blender (or two knives) cut butter pieces into dry ingredients until pea-sized clumps form. Stir in walnuts. Add ground flaxseed if using. Sprinkle mixture evenly over fruit.

Place baking dish in oven and bake for 45 minutes or until apples have cooked down and begun to caramelize. Topping should be golden brown and liquid bubbling around the edges.

Remove from oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Store leftovers in airtight container.

Peach Blueberry Crumbles

This week I had peaches to use up along with some blueberries. I love Cook’s Illustrated berry crumbles, but I thought I’d try a new recipe. A quick search on Food Network produced this highly rated Ina Garten recipe. The recipes are pretty similar, a few minor differences, one being more sugar in Ina’s topping.

I have a soft skin peeler that I used to peel my peaches. It has a serrated blade that does an excellent job peeling fruit with soft skins, like peaches and tomatoes. I think it would be fine, if you don’t want to peel the peach, to just dice up the peaches. I also have this multi grain cereal that I added to the topping to get some whole grains.

Peach Blueberry Crumbles
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Makes 4-6 crumbles (depending on size of ramekins)

For the filling:
1 lb fresh peaches (3-4), peeled (if desired), pitted, and diced
4 oz (~3/4 c) blueberries
Zest of 1 small lemon
1 Tbl lemon juice
¼ c granulated sugar
2 tsp cornstarch

For the topping:
1/3 c multi grain hot cereal (or oats)
¼ c sugar
2 Tbl brown sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
Fresh grated nutmeg, pinch or two
Pinch kosher salt
4 Tbl butter

Preheat oven to 375F.

Combine filling ingredients and set aside, allowing to sit at least 5 minutes. Spoon into ramekins, placed on parchment lined rimmed baking sheet.

Add the cereal, sugars, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter til plenty of pea sized crumbles. Top ramekins with mixture. Bake until bubbling and tops are golden about 25-30 minutes. Cool at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Source: adapted from Ina Garten via food network

Berry Crumble

I really haven’t done much cooking recently because I have been too sick to eat, let alone cook. I have wanted to post this crumble recipe for awhile, but haven’t because I can’t get a good picture. So here is a half-hearted post with a ho-hum photo. Once I’m better I’ll replace this version with a better post and picture. These are so good; I wish the picture did them justice.

I’m so glad spring is here and the weather is warming up. I love fresh berries and will be making these crumbles a lot. The topping makes too much, and I usually store the remainder in the fridge in an airtight container and make 2 more crumbles the next night. Or, sometimes, I’ll reduce the amounts in the topping to cover just the two crumbles. I left the original proportions in the recipe below.

I had trouble finding 12 oz ramekins. I have some Emile Henry ramekins (I think they are technically called soufflé dishes) that were only 10 oz. After much searching, I finally found 12 oz ramekins at Williams-Sonoma. They are Apilco #3. I had to ask a sales associate for the 12 oz size and he found some in the back for me. I could not find them on the website, but if you go in to the store they should have them in the tableware section with the other Apilco porcelain. Again, I think it may be called a 12 oz soufflé dish. Just look for the #3 on the bottom. Of course you could just divide it among smaller ramekins and have smaller portions if you don’t want to buy new ramekins.

The lemon/lime zest is optional, but it really brightens up the flavor. In the future I may experiment with an orange. I top with either ice cream or freshly made whipped cream. Delicious.

Berry Crumble
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¼ c (1¾ oz) granulated sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
Pinch salt
2 c (10 oz) fresh berries* (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, or a mix)
1 lemon or lime, zested
1 tsp juice from lemon or lime
½ c (2½ oz) flour
1/3 c old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant/quick)
¼ c packed (1¾ oz) light brown sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
4 Tbsp (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and chilled

Preheat oven to 375F. Put berries in a medium bowl. Combine sugar, cornstarch, pinch of salt, and zest and juice and add to the berries. Gently toss to coat berries. Divide evenly between two 12 oz ramekins (or in a 8½ x 5½ inch baking dish).

Mix flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Add butter and using your fingers or a pastry cutter, blend the butter into the dry ingredients until you get dime-sized clumps. Pinch together any powdery parts and sprinkle over berries.

Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 375F until filling is bubbling around edges and crumble topping is a deep golden brown, about 30 minutes. Rotate sheet half way through baking.

Cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Top with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.

*Note: Cooks Illustrated editors recommends not using frozen berries because they give off too much liquid and therefore will make the crumbles soggy. However, I have used frozen berries and had it turn out fine. I just completely thaw the berries in a strainer before adding the sugar and cornstarch. And if it seems too mushy, I add a bit more cornstarch to absorb the excess liquid.

Source: slightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Cooking for Two 2009