Tags: Butter Pecan, Candy, Chocolate, Christmas, corn flakes, feuilletine, white chocolate
This morning I swore I wasn’t going to put this post up because the photos turned out awful. These babies do not mesh well with artificial light. But then I thought ‘This candy is so darn good, why would I hold back over photos?”
These are normal thoughts if you have a food blog.. and completely justified since photos are the most important aspect of a food blog. You eat with your eyes. This is why I groan so much about not having natural light. One more time...everyone has natural light, whyyy not meeee? :/
Remember the filling for my Butter Pecan Thumbprint cookies? Well, of course you do, since it was my last post…from like 5 days ago.
Tags: Bad Boys, Christina Tosi, First Love, Malted Milk Powder, Momofuku Milk Bar, Munchies, NE Patriots, NY Giants, Pretzel Crunch, pretzels, Snack, snacks, Superbowl Sunday
First I just want to say that this post was almost set to go Wednesday, and then my computer crashed. It was fixed briefly, but then it crashed again. Thankfully I didn’t lose anything, but I went through two days of no computer hell! You know how it is nowadays – can’t live without it, really can’t live without it. How did I ever live without the internet? I’d love to go back to those days to remember how. I can’t even remember the last time I fully read a newspaper. I think it was HS?
Having said all that, I have an awesome Super Bowl munchie to present to you. I’m a NY Giants fan, so naturally this is a very special Super Bowl Sunday for me aka a Super DUPER Bowl Sunday, one that deserves its own special and unique snack. It’s called pretzel crunch and it contains malted milk powder. How awesome is that? If you’ve never had a chocolate or vanilla malted milkshake, or a box of Whoppers or Malteasers, you may not know the flavor that is ‘malted’. Well, I’ve racked my brain trying to come up with a description, but I can’t. If anyone out there can, please do! However, once you do taste it, I can almost guarantee you’ll love it, since I don’t know many who don’t love it.
This amazing pretzel crunch was created by Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar fame, but I made a few subtle changes, one of them reducing the milk powder so I could double the malt powder, and the other, doubling the recipe, because you’re going to need a lot of it. In fact, I would triple it, quadruple it! It goes very, very fast.
Trust me when I say that this is not your average pretzel snack. The combination of sweet, salty and malty is a massive, out-of-hand rave on the palate. On football Sundays, I have to make at least 5 pans of it!
“Hey, got anymore of the pretzel crunch?” is the most popular question – asked at least 5 times during any particular game watching get together, be it baseball, football, basketball, rugby, curling.. Yes, curling might even be fun to watch when you have this malted pretzel crunch to munch on!
Now I’m going to shut up (shocking) and let you finish this post by photo. A picture is worth a thousand words in this case, a thousand words that I don’t have today. Enjoy your journey to one of the best pretzel snack you might ever have. Seriously.
Add sugars, milk powders, and salt to crushed pretzels, then combine.
Pour melted butter over everything, and toss until all pieces are coated.
Spread on a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and bake.
Pretzel crunch aka Snack Manna (or the less PC, Snack Crack) awaits you.
Let’s Go Giants!!
- 4 cups salted mini pretzels - about ½ of a 16-ounce bag
- ½ cup tightly packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons milk powder
- ⅓ cup malted milk powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 14 tablespoons butter (1 stick, plus 6 tablespoons), melted
- Preheat oven to 275 F.
- Pour the pretzels in a large bowl and crush them with your hands (I threw them in a ziplock bag and hammered them with a mallet - easier, in my opinion) to one-quarter of their original size. Add the milk powder, malt powder, sugar, and salt, toss to mix. Add the butter and toss to coat. As you toss, the butter will act as glue, binding the dry ingredients to the pretzels and creating small clusters. (I did not get small clusters, but once baked, it formed a sheet of pretzel crunch that I broke into pieces).
- Spread the clusters on a parchment- or silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes, until it looks toasted, smells buttery, and crunches gently when you bite into it.
- Cool the pretzel crunch completely before storing or using in a recipe. Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, the crunch will keep fresh for 1 week; in the fridge or freezer, it will keep for 1 month. (I think these would be fantastic in cookies with chocolate chunks OR drizzle melted chocolate over the top of the sheet of pretzel crunch, let set, then break into pieces - like you would toffee.
Tags: apples, Challah, Hanukkah, Maggie Glazer, Salted Caramel, Sesame Seeds, Sourdough Challah, Sourdough Starter
Remember how I told you I was going to introduce ‘him’ to all of you once my knee was better and I could start standing to knead some really amazing sourdough breads?
Well, that day never came, because I was a bad mama. Once my knee healed and I was out and about on two legs, no cane, I kind of forgot about him in the back of the refrigerator. When I remembered, it was probably three months since his last feeding. I tried to revive him, but there was mold, and the small amounts I took out, minus the mold, and fed, – eagerly awaiting his bubbles of life, had already been given last rites. It just wasn’t going to happen – it didn’t smell the way it wass supposed to, it was rank. The smell was clearly sourdough starter rigor mortis. I bid Herbie a sad adieu as I poured his thick liquid soul into the trash can.
Of course I later found out that he could have been saved by taking a tablespoon of him from the very center (his *sniff* heart), and giving him mad defibrillation with flour, sugar and water. Just one tablespoon, and Herbie would still be here.
Batter like sourdough starter aka Herbie II
Oh, well..no use crying over trashed sourdough starter. He gave me the best breads of his wild yeasted life. Besides, I could reincarnate him someday. That day has come, and may I introduce you to Herbie II? About 1 month ago, I just decided to do it, once again using Nancy Silverton’s grape starter method. There was no way any commercial yeast will ever step granule or cake in any sourdough starter I make. Capturing wild yeast from everything around us, the air, atmosphere, our kitchens, etc…is the most amazing thing to watch develop – like gestating a baby, although not as wonderous and exciting of course, because this baby is not one you can cuddle and love and well, be human with – just one you can watch grow stronger and stronger, giving you the most complex, wonderful tasting breads, all with a lovely crumb and crust.
Firm sourdough starter
My weird intuition struck again…
Our Daring Bakers Host for December 2011 was Jessica of My Recipe Project and she showed us how fun it is to create sourdough bread in our own kitchens! She provided us with sourdough recipes from Bread Matters by Andrew Whitley as well as delicious recipes to use our sourdough bread in from Tonia George’s Things on Toast and Canteen: Great British Food!
So, I had already started gestating Herbie II, and one week later, it’s announced as the Daring Bakers challenge. Although I loved that the challenge recipe for starter was all about capturing wild yeast, I’d already fermented enough grapes to capture Herbie’s wild yeast. There was no sense in making another one. I’m not a multi-startet type baker – one is enough, and from that one, I can make all kinds of starters for a variety of breads, and whatever is leftover from those, is given away or used to the last drop. You will never see half-filled jars all over my kitchen or in my fridge labeled rye starter, oat starter, potato starter etc. I think it’s cool that people do that, but if I could kill one starter with neglect, could you imagine the massacre of one plus?
I needed to bake a bunch of challah braids for Hanukkah. I wanted to try Maggie Glazer’s recipe for sourdough challah for a long time, so I figured this would be a great time to do it. I had already planned on filling one of the challahs with a homemade salted caramel with apples, which I haven’t been able to get out of my mind for months now, so why not sourdough and salted caramel apples? Tangy, sweet, salty – God, YES.
Maggie Glazer’s dough calls for a firm starter to produce another firm starter for the challah. Fortunately, Maggie has directions on how to convert a batter like starter into a firm starter. I needed to take a tablespoon of Herbie and mix it with some water (I only use bottled) and bread flour until I had a dough that could be kneaded. I surveyed Herbie’s young, unused, not yet powerful, baby bubbles and hoped for the best. The next morning, as you can see in the above ‘firm starter’ photo, I had a risen mass of thick, bubbly, ‘cracked window’, dough. Success! Looks like the original Herbie’s super strength had been passed on to his younger replacement. I proceeded on with the recipe,letting one more starter go to town – ending up with a lovely, silky dough. It smelled wonderful too, like most wild yeast doughs.
I had to stop sniffing from above and let it rise..
While the dough was doing it’s thing, I made the salted caramel, chopped up some apples, added some spice, then stirred the apples into the hot caramel. I think I will always keep a jar of this on hand. I’m in love..I desperately wanted to start eating it right out of the jar I put it in for not only storage, but for the photo above.
If you don’t want to make sourdough challah, traditional challah, or any doughy vessel to place some of these glorious salted caramel apples in, I beg you to just make the salted caramel apples. I’ve already had it over ice cream and well, straight out of the jar, but no double dipping, honest! It’s..it’s…just amazing..I can’t even put it into words.
SO, like my Unique Twist on Challah back in ’09. in which I made a 6-strand braid challah, each strand filled with chocolate raisins and cinnamon sugar, I set out to reproduce something similar with the salted caramel apple filling. This time I was only doing a 4-strand braid because I wanted thick ribbons and pockets of the caramel. This is where I made my first mistake. This filling is wet…a small amount should be used for each strand to prevent any seepage and trouble braiding. I used 1/4 cup full for each strand. Bad idea, I couldn’t roll the sealed strands to the 16 to 18-inches in length I wanted it to be for braiding, and the braiding was difficult, heavy, and there were several tears in between. I ended up with a very sloppy, lopsided, wide braid. Normally, this wouldn’t bother me, but I was presenting it to guests.
Dark circles under the eyes? Concealer. Lopsided, fat, lumpy challah braid? Sesame seeds.
Next time I will be using only 2 tablespoons of the filling per strand..IF it’s for guests. If not, who cares about lopsided, lumpy braids? It was delicious, and thanks to the wonderful ‘new’ Herbie, it rose like Mary Poppin’s umbrella with a turbo engine in each spoke – not to mention the beautiful oven spring, and just look at that crumb! I love how the gooey part of the salted caramel melts into it’s bready pocket, while the spiced apples kind of hang out, dropping into your hand occasionally when you tear off pieces.
You love challah french toast? Wait until you try salted caramel apple challah french toast (hopefully, a photo coming soon – if the few slices left are not eaten before this can happen). The sourdough has kept this bread silky soft and moist for 2 days now!
If you get a chance, please check out my fellow Daring Baker’s sourdough starters and creations by clicking on the links to their blogs HERE. For the challenge sourdough starter recipe, and some great breads to make with it, click HERE.
I’m also submitting it to Bread Baking Day #45, hosted by Cindy of Cindystar.
The GIVEAWAY winner of the six jars of Bonne Maman preserves and the $25.00 gift certificate to use at OhNuts.com is Katrina of Baking with Boys, who was #38! Congrats Katrina! Will send you an email to get your info ASAP.
My recipe for salted caramel apples will be posted soon. I’ve been a bit lazy when it comes to typing it out LOL
Maggie Glazer’s Sourdough Challah Recipe (you can use any challah recipe you like, it doesn’t have to be sourdough)
Salted Caramel Apple Filling
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
3 medium apples, peeled, cored and cubed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
!/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon flour
Squeeze of lemon juice
1. In a bowl, Combine the chopped apples with the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, lemon juice and flour. Set aside.
2. Pour the water around and over the sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves (I prefer this over the brushing the sugar off the sides with a wet pastry brush).
3. When the sugar dissolves, turn to high heat, and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a medium brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Watch it carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt very quickly. Stand back to avoid splattering, and gradually add the cream and the butter – it will bubble vigorously. Simmer and stir with a wooden spoon until the sauce is smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Stir in the sea salt.
4. Take pot off heat, let sit about 3 minutes, then stir in the chopped, spiced apples while caramel is still very hot. Let cool to room temperature. If not using immediately, refrigerate in an airtight jar or container.
5. You will not use all of the salted caramel apples for the challah or challahs (if making two), so enjoy it over ice cream, pound cake – use as a cake filling etc. The ideas are endless!
1, Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. I used a scale for this. Take one piece (covering the other three pieces with plastic wrap) and roll into a flat, oblong 12-inch disk. Spoon two tablespoons of the salted caramel apple filling down the length of the disk, as shown in photos above.
2. Cover filling with both sides of dough, pimching to seal and making sure none of the filling gets into your seal..it won’t seal if that happens. Gently roll and taper the ends, to about 16 to 18-inches in length. Cover and repeat with remaining three pieces of dough. Once you have all 4 filled strands, pinch them together at the top and braid using this 4-strand weaving method. In a bowl or cup, beat one egg until uniform – this will be your egg wash.
3. Place loaf on a parchment lined pan and brush with egg wash (I don’t use all of the white in the egg. I let some spill out into a cup so my egg wash is more yolk than white – this gives it that nice burnished look)). Brush loaf all over and let rise until doubled in size – about an hour. Preheat oven to 350 F.
4. Once risen, brush again with remaining egg wash, getting into all the crevices that opened during the rise. Sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds, or nothing at all – your choice. Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 35-45 minutes. Let cool a few minutes, then carefully lift off of pan, and place on a wire rack to cool fully.
Tags: baking, Cheesecake, Chocolate, chocolate ganache, Muffins, Pumpkin, Pumpkin Cheese Muffins, streusel, Toffee, Toffee Streusel
Do not let these awful, messy photos deter you. These muffins are one of the best things you will ever wrap your mouth around.
..once again I come armed with pumpkin, cheesecake and a squeeze bottle of chocolate ganache, which is a combination you’ve seen on my blog twice in the past month, from pie to these muffins. Not to mention pumpkin nutella snickerdoodle bars, pumpkin povitica, and pumpkin gnocchi. Five pumpkin recipes in a little over a month.
Pumpkin, Sage and Sweet?
Wellll…I told you I wasn’t done with pumpkin. Actually, I made these back in October, but was going to make them again because I made a small mistake which led to an aesthetic issue with me. This is the life of a food blogger, if it ain’t pretty, you hem and haw, and sometimes make it again, even if it’s absolutely perfect in the palate department and the last thing you need is another batch of whatever you made hanging around for you to consume.
People eat with their eyes when they look at food blogs, so it’s up to the food blogger to put out as pretty and mouth-watering a photo as he/she can get.
In my case, that’s not an easy task. The cheaper artificial lighting is not kind to the details that make one’s mouth water. BUT, I do my best..and I do have that small, patch of dim sunlight I just found, As I mentioned above, these photos were shot weeks ago, before my mediocre ‘light patch’ discovery – which needs a lot of futzing with before I decide that either A) The small amount of light is not worth the blur since I can’t fit a tripod in that area, and it needs a tripod even more than my artificial lighting! or B) I start to experience physical pain from twisting my body into unnatural positions just to get the shot in this small nook.
Having said all that, my mistake, which I will get to in a moment, led to messy muffin tops, except for one.
I finally decided not to make a new batch and post as is. I just couldn’t have another few of these tempting me, all in the name of perfectly beautiful muffins for my blog.
I cobbled these muffins together using a recipe for Jumbo Pumpkin Pecan Streusel muffins from Taste of Home that I like – minus the pecans in the muffin batter, but doubled the streusel and added chopped chocolate covered toffee to it. I used some homemade toffee in the freezer, from this recipe, but you can use chopped Skor or Heath bars if you like.
We all love muffin tops. It’s the stumps that get the raw end of the deal. If there’s nothing in the stumps (chocolate chips, nuts..fillings), they’re usually kind of boring..and I’m sure there’s been times your stumps have ended up in the trash. The big, fluffy muffin tops are always the star, and usually pretty filling..so the stumps are a 50/50 deal. Eat or chuck – unless you can wrangle up a ‘Cleaner’.
Here’s the part I really love. I filled my stumps, but not only filled them, REALLY filled them. You don’t just get that usual one bite circle of filling in these – every bite of the stump contains creamy cheesecake. There’s one full-proof, fantastic way to do this, that doesn’t involve a spoon, which leads to a messy batter ‘plop and splatter’, and not that much filling once baked. OR – you don’t bake them first, then cut a gaping hole in the bottom, basically emptying out the stump, piping in a cooked or eggless cheesecake whip, and plugging with the jagged, crumbly part you cut out. Annoying.
Kind of looks like bacon streusel, doesn’t it? Although I think that’s an idea waiting to happen, it’s the chocolate toffee melted on the streusel crumb.
This is what you do, and I got this brilliant idea from Chef Dennis from A Culinary Journey via his exquisite Black and White Muffins. You fill a pastry bag with the infamous 1 bar of cream cheese ‘cheesecake recipe’ of no known or definitive origin. Next, you fill your jumbo muffin cups half way with the pumpkin batter and then, stick that cheesecake batter filled pastry bag with a plain tip, or ziplock bag with an end snipped off, smack dab in the middle of the pumpkin muffin batter and squeeeeeze…
…squeeeeze until that pumpkin batter rises in the muffin well until it’s about 2/3 to 3/4’s full.
Here’s where I messed up, but didn’t really mess up because it’s a question of…
To dome or not to dome?
Do you see that little white circle of cheesecake in the middle of the pumpkin batter in the demo photos? If you do not cover it with more pumpkin batter, the toffee streusel will sink into it, as you see in most of my photos. BUT, this is not a bad thing. What you lose aesthetically as far as a big, fat, fluffy, streusel topped domes go, you make up for with extra gooey melted toffee streusel in part of the cheesecake filling.
On the flip side, you cover up that little hole with pumpkin batter, and the streusel topping remains on top, along with a beautiful dome, like you see in the first photo with the black background.
I did not cover the cheesecake batter circles on 7 out of 8 of my muffins. The last one I did because there was only enough cheesecake batter to rise it to a little less than 2/3’s full – so I scraped out every last bit of pumpkin batter, and filled it the rest of the way.
SO, your choice, big, beautiful ‘impress your guests/recipients’ domed jumbo muffins with a crumbly, crunchy toffee streusel, or a flatter topped muffin with melted, gooey streusel inside-out. You can’t lose either way..unless it’s a beauty contest.
Muffins and Tiaras.
If you find gooey, muddled, flat top muffins ‘too ugly’ to present to guests or for gifting, just drizzle melted chocolate on top of them. I think that hikes the beauty quotient up quite a bit. Melted, chocolate drizzle is one of the most beautiful things in the world.
Hmm..but then the same can be done to hotty dome queen and it’ll look even more gorgeous. Who said the life of a muffin was fair?
Finally, I think my giant, rough and tumble looking muffins would have a mad crush on these beauties. So delicate and tea party with white gloves, ready – the antithesis of my scruffy, muscled blue-collar workers with calloused hands. The Muffin Notebook.
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup fresh, roasted or canned pumpkin puree *
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- ¼ cup sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- ⅔ cup packed brown sugar
- ⅓ cup finely chopped pecans
- ⅔ cup finely chopped chocolate covered toffee
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cold butter, cubed
- In a large bowl, combine the first seven muffin batter ingredients.
- In another bowl, combine the eggs, pumpkin, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened - do not over stir it or you'll get tough muffins. Just a few folds until no flour remains. Set aside while you make the filling and streusel.
- Combine the cream cheese, sugar, egg, salt and vanilla beat until smooth. Do not over beat. Spoon the cream cheese filling into a pastry bag with a medium plain tip or a zip-lock bag with one end snipped off. Set Aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, pecans, chopped toffee and flour; cut in butter until crumbly. Place in fridge, covered, until ready to use.
- Grease the top of the jumbo muffin tins lightly, making sure the area around each muffin well is greased. These babies rise a lot and spread a bit. If you don't use jumbo muffin liners, grease each well too.
- Fill the 8 to 10 greased or paper-lined jumbo muffin cups half way with pumpkin batter. Place cheesecake batter filled pastry bag in the middle of each half filled muffin well, and squeeze in the filling until the batter rises and fills the lined muffin wells ⅔ to ¾ths full. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to release air bubbles, which I forgot to do, hence some of the holes in my cheesecake filling.
- Cover white circles of cheesecake on top with any extra pumpkin batter, or just scoop from the sides or underneath. If you don't care about a big, muffin dome, skip this step.
- Dump large handfuls of toffee streusel over muffin batter. Make sure to keep it contained in the muffin well -mounding it like little mountains. Any that spills onto muffin pan, wipe off or brush into one of the wells. Ignore my raw streusel photos...I wiped all that extra crumb off ;D
- Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes (about 15-18 minutes for standard sized muffins) or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.