Peanut Butter Kahlua Clouds

17 Dec

So this past weekend I competed in a cookie contest. What’s better than cookies and competition?! Milwaukee had its first Cookie Takedown, and it was a blast! About 20 of us home cooks entered, and brought 250+ of our best cookie to the table. Sadly, I did not win, but the whole process was a fun one!

Peanut Butter Kahlua Clouds | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Mmmmmmelty Kahlua truffles

I’m not much for recipe testing, but entering this contest, I knew I had to put my best morsel forward. So, my friend Shana came over and we test two different cookie recipes, marked down notes of any changes, compared them analytically (read: ate lots of cookies and commented on them), and finally chose the one I’d enter: peanut butter cookies rolled in colored sugar, topped with a homemade Kahlua espresso truffle. But that’s not much of a name, so our creative sides came up with: Peanut Butter Kahlua Clouds.

Peanut Butter Kahlua Clouds | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Making one batch of cookies is nothing compared to making 4 or 5 batches of the same cookie. The kitchen turns into a factory and the countertop is your assembly line. Stacks of cooling racks donned the table, and smells of peanut butter wafted throughout the house. It sure was work, but fun and edible work! Employing the changes noted from the recipe testing session, I successfully made 250 “clouds” and let Milwaukee eat them up (ok, there are a few leftover which are slowly being deployed to my friends and family.

Peanut Butter Kahlua Clouds | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Our presentation at the contest.

 

Whether you need to make a ton of cookies, or just one batch, give this one a try! It does require some work – you’re not just squishing Hershey Kisses on these cookies, but the homemade truffles are SO WORTH IT. Seriously. Besides, you’ll most likely end up with leftover truffles…perfect for nomming on, or throwing into your next batch of brownies! Get baking, friends!

Peanut Butter Kahlua Clouds, adapted from The Kitchn

Makes about 4.5 dozen cookies

For the Kahlua Truffles:

  • 1/2 C heavy whipping cream
  • 10 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp Kahlua liquer
  • 1 tsp espresso powder, finely ground

For the Peanut Butter Clouds:

  • 1 stick (1/2 C) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 C creamy peanut butter (not the natural stuff!)
  • 1/3 C brown sugar
  • 1/3 C granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1.5 C all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • colored sugars for coating

Begin by making the Kahlua truffles. Fill the bottom pot of a double boiler halfway full with water. Place the top pot over it and bring water to a rolling simmer. In the top pot, mix the chocolate chips with the Kahlua and espresso powder. In a small pot, heat heavy cream until bubbles just begin forming

In a small pot, heat heavy cream until bubbles just begin forming – this won’t take long at all. Pour the warm cream over the chocolate chips. Stir well with a spoon and keep stirring until all the chocolate is melted and all ingredients are incorporated. Remove from the double boiler and let sit to cool. I found that it works best if you let the truffle mixture sit in the fridge for 10 minutes or so, to speed up the cooling process – just don’t forget it’s in there! Or you’ll have to simply reheat over the double boiler.

Once the chocolate is thick enough to hold it’s shape, start making the truffles. Line a small baking pan with parchment paper. Spoon chocolate into a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Squirt out truffles to form small mounds like a Hershey’s Kiss. Continue this process until all chocolate is used. Place the pan in the freezer to get them as hard as possible.

Tip: if you don’t have enough baking sheets, you can use a glass baking dish, round cake tins, even a piece of sturdy cardboard! A flat surface covered in parchment is all you need.

Now, for the cookies! Or rather, the “clouds.” Preheat your oven to 345 (yes, that’s very precise). Line 2 large baking sheets with Silpat mats or parchment paper.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together the butter and peanut butter until creamy. Add in the sugars and continue to beat together. Now add in the egg, vanilla and milk. Beat until light and fluffy.

While things are beating, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Pour half the flour mixture into the peanut butter mixture and mix on low until combined. Add the rest of the flour and mix until it’s all incorporated.

Pour about 1/4 C of colored sugar into a small bowl, for coating.

Using the large side of a melon baller (yeah, don’t use a cookie scoop for these – the size of a melon baller turns out perfectly when baked!), scoop cookie dough and form into a sphere with your hands. Roll in sugar, but leave one side sugarfree – place that side down on the cookie sheet and continue until the sheet is full. Be sure to leave about an inch or two between cookie balls.

Once the sheet is full, place in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for exactly 9 minutes at 345 degrees, turning the sheet around halfway through. While that’s baking, work on the next sheet of cookie balls!

When the cookies are done, remove from oven and immediately squish the frozen truffles on top, pressing down slightly. Let the “clouds” cool on the sheet for 5-10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack only once they are cool enough to pick up – any sooner, and they’ll fall apart in your hands…and you’d have to eat those!

Repeat this process until all the cookie dough is used up.

Store cookies in your favorite cookie tins or snowman shaped cookie jars. Eat and be merry :)

Peanut Butter Kahlua Clouds | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Me and Shana, my official taste tester & cookie buddy, ready to hand out cookies!

What recipe would you have used in a cookie contest? I’m always looking for the next best recipe!

 

Earl Grey Tea Cookies

8 Dec

Welcome to Cookie Week on the blog! Every recipe this week will be some kind of scrumptious cookie, perfect for the holiday season!

This first one is particularly special because I made them for a charity bake sale in town. AND they’re an homage to the great Jean-Luc Picard. He was smart enough to drink Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. So why not put that tea straight into a cookie? This is really a basic sugar cookie with the addition of loose leaf tea. A day or two after they’re baked, the Bergamot flavor really comes through and pairs wonderfully with a hot cup of the very same.
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They’re also nice for the holidays because you can add colored sugar on the edges! I made these red and green for the bake sale, but you could use any color you like, or even normal white sugar for a more neutral look. Enjoy these cookies! Your friends will surely like them too :)

Earl Grey Tea Cookies, adapted from C’est la Vegan

Makes 2 dozen cookies

  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 5 bags (2 tbsp) Earl Grey tea
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 C AP flour
  • 3/4 C butter, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • colored sugar for the edges, optional

Combine sugars, salt and tea in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse so that the tea is pulverized and mixed in with the sugar. Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl and add the flour, stir to combine.

Mix in the butter, vanilla and milk. You want a dough that will stick together.

Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a 6″ log. If desired, roll the log in colored sugar (spread sugar on a flat plate and roll the dough in it – don’t worry about the ends being sugared).

Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Now, preheat the oven to 375. Line two cookie sheets with Silpat mat or parchment paper.

Slice the dough logs into 12 pieces each – they’ll be about 1/3″ thick. Place onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake at 375 for 10 minutes, flipping around and switching racks halfway through.

Remove from oven and let sit on the baking sheets for 10 minutes before transferring to cooling racks.
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Whole Wheat Protein Waffles

5 Dec

All my life I’ve loved pancakes. My dad makes a mean, and huge, pancake, which he always let us dress up with chocolate chips & chopped nuts. I’ve made many a vegan banana oat pancake in my time since moving out. I’ve even attempted zucchini & brie pancakes! But I’ve always neglected pancake’s sibling: the waffle.

I’m accustomed to the frozen variety that comes from the grocery store – a minute in the toaster and it’s good to go. But somehow still tastes like cardboard, despite the amount of sugar and chemicals that goes into them. When I learned that my boyfriend actually prefers waffles to pancakes, I knew I had to at least give them a shot. Nearly 26 years old and I had never ever made a waffle that didn’t come from the freezer section. Until now.

I knew my parents had a waffle iron somewhere, so with their loan of the TOASTMASTER, I got to cooking!

Whole Wheat Protein Waffles | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

These waffles are simple, healthy, delicious, and have just the right amount of sweetness to them. Protein powder and whole wheat flour really do make these healthy, and keep you full like a real breakfast should. Only a bit of olive oil and no added sugars make these good for the waistline as well. And the texture is just superb! Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Fill those little squares however you see fit :) I happened to have leftover cranberry sauce, homemade by my Oma, which went perfectly on top of these waffles.

Whole Wheat Protein Waffles | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Whole Wheat Protein Waffles, adapted from Healthy Delicious

Serves 4

  • 1/2 C whole wheat flour
  • 1 single-serve packet of vanilla protein powder (or one scoop’s worth)
  • 1/4 C cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp nondairy powdered milk
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 C nondairy or skim milk
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 egg, separated

Turn on your waffle iron to its highest setting – mine goes to 450 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Mix in the milk, olive oil and egg yolk.

In a small bowl, beat the egg white – either with a fork, or with a hand mixer – until light and fluffy. Fold this into the batter.

Spray the hot waffle iron with PAM. Scoop 2/3 C of batter into the middle of the iron, let it spread out, and close. Cook for 2 minutes and use a fork to remove to a plate. Repeat with the rest of the batter.

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Serve hot with your choice of toppings: maple syrup, coconut butter, fresh fruit, applesauce, peanut butter, whipped cream…whatever suits your breakfast-time fancy!

Leftovers? Cover them in foil and keep in the fridge. Heat in a clean frying pan for 30 seconds on each side. Boom!

Chickpea and Vegetable Curry with Wild Rice

4 Dec

Thanks to Hulu.com, I’ve been watching a LOT of Gordon Ramsay shows. I discovered his show, “The F Word,” from 9 years ago and I have been binge watching like crazy! Beyond that, I’m addicted to “MasterChef Junior” AND “Hell’s Kitchen”….yeah, I love watching cooking shows.

One thing I’ve noticed is that British people really love their curries. Red, yellow, or green, hot & spicy or mild & savory, it’s apparently a big deal over there. Whereas in the US, it’s very much a thing confined to Indian restaurants, which are few and far between. But I know how good a tasty curry can be, especially on a cold winter night. So with the inspiration of Chef Ramsay and the help of the internet, I came up with this healthy, flavorful and vegan curry dish, served with a hearty wild rice. Don’t feel confined by the vegetables I used – you can adjust this to your tastes and use carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, snap peas, cauliflower, green peas, anything! It’s hard to screw this up, and you don’t even need a special curry paste, so get cooking!
Chickpea and Vegetable Curry with Wild Rice | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Chickpea & Vegetable Curry with Wild Rice, adapted from Minimalist Baker

Serves 4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (or 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes)
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 C veggie stock
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • sea salt & fresh black pepper
  • 1 C wild brown/black rice
  • 2.5 C water

Begin by cooking your rice. Use a rice cooker for hands-off cooking, or follow package directions to cook in a pot on the stove.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium. Cook onion, garlic, ginger, chickpeas, and bell pepper for about 5 minutes. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and stir frequently.

Add the tomatoes, curry powder, turmeric, chili powder and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook another 2 minutes. Now add the coconut milk and the veggie stock. Mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer 20 minutes, uncovered.

Add a bit more salt and pepper to taste and stir in the chopped green onions. Cook another 3-5 minutes until desired consistency is reached. If your rice isn’t quite done, let the curry sit on low heat until it’s finished.

Chickpea and Vegetable Curry with Wild Rice | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Scoop cooked rice into bowls and spoon the curry on top. If you like it spicy, garnish with more red pepper flakes, and enjoy!

Healthy Apple Dump Cake

22 Nov

This month’s Recipe Redux theme is “food memories” for which we are grateful. Most of my best (and some worst) memories have food associated with them. Homemade lasagna, garlic bread, salad and cake were served every single birthday to a party of my family. I was always grateful to spend my special day with the people who loved me so much, enjoying a meal made specifically for the occasion. But I’m not making lasagna for you today. Today is a different memory, which I’ve made healthy. I hope you enjoy it!

Since kindergarten, I have an active Girl Scout. Yep – I sold cookies to the neighbors, earned badges and patches, did a ton of crafts, and even earned the Girl Scout Gold Award in my senior year of high school. As an adult, I volunteer my time at Girl Scout activities, and led a girls at day camp for years. More importantly, I’m grateful for all that Girl Scouts has done for me – being a member and now volunteer, I’ve gained many important life skills, professional abilities, lifelong friends and even some forms of cooking!

In fact, day camp is where I learned many unconventional cooking techniques: making s’mores in a foil-lined box, cooking mini cakes in orange peels, making lasagna in a dutch oven surrounded by hot coals, stirring up “bug juice” for us to drink, and even baking dump cake over a fire!

Healthy Apple Dump Cake | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

In its simplest form, dump cake is just that: a few sweet ingredients dumped into a pot and baked. Boom, done. A perfect solution for when you’re out camping and craving something warm & sweet. Unfortunately, it’s also very unhealthy. Traditionally made with boxed cake mix, canned pie filling and a stick of butter, there are all sorts of chemicals, fat and sugars involved.

A homemade whole wheat cake mix ensures no added chemicals or preservatives, while increasing the healthy side at the same time. Stovetop pie filling will taste fresh, instead of “tinny,” and you can easily adjust the sweetness level. And replacing the stick of butter with just few tablespoons of coconut oil is an obvious health boost – less fat overall, and only good fats used!

So let’s leave the traditional dump cake for actual camping, and whip up this healthier version at home. Your family will thank you.

Healthy Apple Dump Cake 

Serves 10-12

Apple Filling, adapted from Inside BruCrew Life 

  • 7-8 apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 C cornstarch
  • 1/2 C organic brown sugar
  • 1/2 C maple syrup (or honey if not strictly vegan)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 C water

Whole Wheat Cake Mix, adapted from Your Cup of Cake

  • 2 1/2 C whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 C organic cane sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C powdered milk (non-dairy of choice)

To Assemble:

  • 4 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 C walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)

Let’s start with the apple filling. The cooking portion is pretty easy, but it takes some time to come together. First, peel and chop your apples. This took me about 20 minutes for all 8 apples. Keep them in a bowl with the lemon juice as you progress.

In a large pot, mix together the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir in the syrup and water. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Stir in the apples and bring back up to a boil. Cover with a lid, reduce heat to medium-low and let cook for 13 minutes.

Healthy Apple Dump Cake | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Remove from the stove, take off the lid, and let the apple filling cool completely, about two hours. The sauce will thicken in this time.

Healthy Apple Dump Cake | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

As for the cake mix, combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl, whisking together to avoid clumping. Confession: I used powdered dairy milk in this mix, but any non-dairy variety will work just as well!

Now to put it all together! Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×13″ baking dish with olive oil spray or melted coconut oil.

Dump cooled apple filling into the pan. Sprinkle the whole wheat cake mix evenly on top to cover completely. Drizzle melted coconut oil all over the top of the cake mix. Sprinkle chopped nuts all over as well, if using.

Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes, uncovered. Place a large baking sheet on the rack below the cake, to catch any bubbled-over apple gooeyness. Let cool 10-15 minutes before serving and devouring.

Not the most aesthetic cake, but it tastes SO good!

Not the most aesthetic cake, but it tastes SO good!

Serve hot with ice cream, whipped cream, or as-is! This also tastes amazing as cold leftovers the next day. Simply store any remaining dump cake in the fridge, covered with foil.

(Please note that this is a closed link-up for Recipe ReDux posts only. Any links added to this collection for non-ReDux posts will be deleted.) 

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