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I'm a runner with a baking habit.  I'm constantly on the lookout for awesome desserts, freezer friendly recipes to pack in the lunchbox, and quick dinner ideas.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Eggnog Fudge

Drumroll please...it's time to unveil a seasonal treat.

It's no secret that I love eggnog.  As a child, I knew that the Christmas season meant Santa, presents, and eggnog.  I remember pouring it out of the carton into glasses and grinding a dusting of nutmeg over the top.

My lifetime observations about eggnog:
  • It is the most delicious, incredible treat.
  • The calorie count is irrelevant under the 80/20 rule.  The one carton of eggnog that I consume during the month of December is a tiny fraction of the 20% of my food intake that brings 80% of my food pleasure.
  • Homemade eggnog is overrated.  The stuff in the carton is plenty good, and pasteurized too.
  • Adding alcohol to eggnog is overrated.  As much as I love booze, eggnog is so good it doesn't need any enhancement apart from nutmeg.
  • Freshly ground nutmeg is overrated, but highly nostalgic.  My parents bought whole nutmegs and had a dedicated nutmeg grinder.  I own a nutmeg grater and have a lifetime supply of nutmegs, yet at some point I switched over to ground nutmeg from a can.  Life is still good.
  • Nothing will ever beat a plain glass of eggnog, but there is much joy in adding eggnog to treats.  Eggnog cookies, eggnog cheesecake, and most of all, eggnog fudge FTW.

Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¾ cup eggnog
  • 10½ ounces white chocolate
  • nutmeg
  • 7 oz marshmallow fluff
  • 1 teaspoon rum extract

Line an 8"x8" pan with parchment paper.

Combine the butter, sugar, and eggnog over medium heat.

Stir occasionally until the butter is melted.

Stir constantly until it comes to a boil.

Get out your thermometer.  234°F is the magic number.  What do you do if you don't have a fancy digital thermometer?  Well, since this is the first year I've owned one, I can tell you from previous experience that letting it boil for about 8 minutes while stirring constantly will get you there.

Now you need to work fast.  Take the pot off the heat and add the white chocolate.

Whisk until smooth.

Now add the fluff and stir fast to get it all in.

Just a word of warning, fluff is a messy business.

Now you can return to a calmer mood and add the rum extract.

And a little sprinkle of nutmeg.

Pour the fudge into the pan.  Refrigerate for a few hours.

When the fudge is fully hardened (I usually let it sit overnight), remove the paper.

Cut it up into squares.

And enjoy your treat.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Muffins

Today I bring you a tale of two loaf pans and the accidental discovery of our new favorite snack.  A few years ago when I was on a mission to find the world's best banana bread I was cooking both at my own house and the house of my beloved.  We both owned loaf pans.

The pan on the left is mine, and the one on the right is his.  As you can imagine, every time I baked at his house, there was always extra batter.  I figured out the solution pretty quickly, just throw the extra batter in some muffin tins.  But he didn't own any, so throwing out the surplus batter became a reluctant but necessary way of life.

And then two things happened.  The two loaf pans and my muffin tins moved in together.  Someone near and dear to my heart requested banana bread with chocolate chips.  One weekend we had both supply and demand for banana bread, so I set out to make two loaves.  I used my big pan to make a non-chocolate chip loaf, and then made a chocolate chip loaf in the small pan and cooked up the extra batter in the muffin tins.  Much to my surprise, everyone went crazy for the muffins.  (Maybe it was a numbers thing: two whole loaves vs just six muffins).  I couldn't help but notice the convenience: tiny muffins bake in just 20 minutes vs one hour plus for a loaf.  And they are an awfully convenient thing to have around the house for a snack.

Yield: 24 muffins
(Recipe from the Food Network)
  • 3 ½ overripe bananas
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 ⅔ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

The first step on the road to glory is an ugly one. I've mentioned before that I stockpile ripe bananas in the freezer.  When the baking urge strikes, take them out and let them defrost a bit.

Extract the bananas.

Blend the bananas, eggs, sugar, sour cream, vanilla, and oil until combined.  Now it just so happens that the last time I made these, we were out of sour cream, so I made them without.  I couldn't tell the difference.

Whisk in the flour mixture gradually until just combined. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Add the chocolate chips and whisk again to disperse.

Line 24 muffin tins with liners.

 Spoon in the batter.

Bake for 20 minutes, until they pass the toothpick test.

And get your snack on.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Oreo Cupcakes

My special someone and I are in charge of dessert for family dinners and we've gotten into a comfortable routine.  In the morning, I mix up a batch of cookie dough and set it aside in the fridge to chill out for the day.  When it's time to leave, I grab the dough and cookie sheets to take with us.  When we all sit down to dinner, I slide the dough in the oven and by the time dinner is done, fresh baked cookies await.

It's a good system, but no one can live by chocolate chip cookies alone.  Once in a while, I like to mix things up, and when I came across a recipe of Oreo cupcakes, I knew it was time to branch out.

The only thing was that the frosting recipe that I picked called for cake mix, which I don't do.  I found a from scratch Oreo cake batter recipe.  I had already decided that I would half it to make 12 cupcakes, but the half batch made 18 cupcakes.  Since I had extra cupcakes, I made the full batch of frosting.  Now you know that I prefer a 1:1 ratio of cupcake to frosting, but I know a few folks I know who like lighter frosting, so I'll usually go light for a few cakes just to be on the safe side.  But just a word to the wise, there was no leftover frosting and I really had to hold back on the last few cupcakes. 

But even with the mystery math of batter for 12 cupcakes=18 cupcakes plus frosting for 24 cupcakes=barely enough for 18 cupcakes, this recipe was still a winner.

Yield: 18 cupcakes
(Cupcake recipe from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life, frosting recipe from cupcakediaries)
  • Cupcakes
    • 6 tablespoons butter
    • ½ cup brown sugar
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 4 oz chocolate chips, melted
    • 1 ½ large eggs or 1 jumbo egg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 cup flour
    • ½ teaspoon baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon baking soda
    • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
    • 5 crushed Oreo cookies
  •  Frosting
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
    • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar 
    • 7oz marshmallow fluff
    • ½ tsp almond or vanilla extract
    • 6 crushed Oreo cookies 
 Begin by crushing the Oreos in two batches, one batch for the cupcake batter and one for the frosting.  Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Cream the butter and sugars together for a few minutes.

Add in the eggs, vanilla, and chocolate.  I halved the original recipe, so I had to deal with the quantity of 1 ½ large eggs.  This is simple, an egg contains 3 tablespoons of liquid, so just add one egg and 1 ½ tablespoons of the 2nd egg.  Or, if you happen to have jumbo sized eggs around, as I did, just use one of those.

Mix everything together until combined.

Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk in two batches.

Finally, mix in the Oreo crumbs.

Scoop the batter into cupcake liners.  The cupcakes will rise considerably, so be careful not to fill past half full.

Bake for 20 minutes until they pass the toothpick test.  Let them cool while you make frosting.

Cream the butter and powdered sugar together.

Mix in the almond extract and marshmallow fluff.

And finally add in the Oreos.

Frost the cupcakes.

I gave some of the cupcakes a lot of frosting with the swirly roses, some a moderate amount of frosting, and a few with a thin layer of frosting.

And they were good.