Blueberry Muffins

I am not a usual fan of self-rising flour. I mean you can make self-rising flour out of all-purpose flour is you want to – not too difficult. But I went ahead and made the “investment” for this recipe. I always keep frozen organic blue berries in the freezer and thought this just might work really well. We will see how I modify this recipe – in my head some lemon zest should be involved, but since is the first time I have made this recipe, I will be true to it.  Or try to. And then at some point in the future, maybe, modify it.

D&D_18702 3/4 cups King Arthur unbleached self-rising flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
Sanding sugar

Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare the muffin pan by lining them with papers, then spraying the papers with non-stick baking spray; this helps release the muffins from the papers. Whisk together the flour and sugar over a piece of waxed paper.

In a bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients, stirring until the flour is moistened; it will be a bit lumpy. Quickly and gently stir in the blueberries. Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full; sprinkle muffins with sanding sugar.

Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they’re golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the oven, and allow them to cool for 3 to 5 minutes in the pan. Remove them from the pan and serve warm or at room temperature. Wrap airtight and store at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

29 May 2017 – These were easy to make, but somehow they were on the dry side. Need to investigate because I like a recipe where I have everything on hand, but I wonder what I need to do for a more moist muffin.

Source: King Arthur Flour

I really need to read reviews before I make a recipe – lots of people substituted melted butter for the oil. I will certainly do that next time. I will say though, the berries, at least did not all sink to the bottom and that was a blessing.

The Boy really liked these and that is enough for me.

 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies 

The Boy asked for these and I always try to make things that make him happy. So I made these for Easter. It is a peanut butter cookie that I had never tried, but instead of peanut butter chips, I used semi-sweet chocolate chips because that is what the Boy requested.

It is an odd thing. I love peanut butter – peanut butter and apple jelly sandwiches, peanut butter toast, peanut butter in my oatmeal – with raisins if possible – but I am not a huge peanut butter cookie fan. I think it is because so many of them have a dry, sandy texture. I also do not like peanut butter mixed with chocolate. As I have said over and over, I am not a chocolate person and there are only a couple of things I like mixed with my chocolate – caramel, toffee, or nuts – or some combination of the three. No peanut butter, no coconut, certainly not orange, oh dear lord, please no mint, blech. I know, I am seriously fussy – about just about everything.

Anyway, back to peanut butter – this is a recipe I’ve had for years and have never tried so this gave me the perfect opportunity to do so. This is … wait for it … a Gwyneth Paltrow recipe that I have modified, but I will qualify that by saying it is a recipe from her maternal grandmother that her grandfather loved. Family recipes are the vast majority of the time a very good thing. So I tried this – it’s easy to put together with things that I had on hand which to me is a huge bonus. If you compare it to the original, I did make a few changes (I only use light brown sugar for instance) and swapped out the peanut butter chips for semi-sweet chocolate chips, per the Boy’s request.D&D_1841

I have learned over the years that if you taste the raw dough you will get a good sense of what the cookie will taste like and I thought this worked out well. I also made a test cookie with no chocolate chips just to try it as a straight up peanut butter cookie. It worked well. That said, it is a soft cookie, so it is best to let it cool completely before moving it about too much.

Hood approved of, and ate half of, the plain peanut butter cookie – think there might be some dog treats with this in the future.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour*
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
8 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter **
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Sanding sugar for the top (optional)

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift together dry ingredients over a piece of waxed paper. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar. Mix in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture a little at a time. Stir in chocolate chips.

Using a cookie scoop (disher), place cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheet. Sprinkle with sanding sugar if your going for that thing (nice crunch). Bake about 10 minutes rotating pans half way through baking. Let rest on baking pan for at least 4 minutes then move to cooking rack to cool completely

* I always use unbleached, just a habit.

** I am a Jif PB person.

Source:  Modified from Epicurious

Lemon Bars – again

Yep! One more time, but this time I will take some to the office too. Share the love as it were –   or as my office says I’m just trying to make them fat – not really. But I made these for a friend for her birthday which is tomorrow. She will be 21.

But it is nice to make things that make people happy. And that is what I try to do.

When I used this recipe for the first time I was expecting the same kind of big failure that I have had before with this idea  – many times. But these were an amazingly pleasant surprise. dd_1599

Sometimes you just have to keep trying to see what will happen. In this case, this recipe is just golden. I do not think I will ever try another one for this favorite lemon bar cookie of mine. The crust and curd ratio is damn near perfect.

Right now I am trying (not very hard) to talk myself out of ordering lots of Meyer Lemons on-line since my little (Charlie Brown Christmas Tree version) of a Meyer Lemon did nothing for me this year. I think I have to pot it up*, but I am so not sure what time of year to do that because now it is blooming – and it smells like orange blossoms – because the Meyer is a cross between a lemon and an orange – it is just heavenly. There never seems to be a good time to pot it up and I will NOT plant this in the ground. It has spent 10 years with me and while not very promising, usually I get a couple Meyer lemons or maybe three. I always want it to be with me. Sounds strange, but when you invest yourself in something – well, there it is.  I may be reduced to ordering from California since our Palafox Market seems bereft of Meyer Lemons. Sad since it has been not such a terrible “winter” (and I use that word very loosely) for us so far.
We already have pollen on the vehicles and azaleas are blooming. This is not going to make an easy spring for us, um, at. all.

* That means putting it in a different (larger) pot. You weirdos.

So here, again, are lemon bars.

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1 – 2 tsp ice water

5 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs lemon zest
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and line with parchment with an overhang on the long sides. Or all the sides really.

In the bowl of a food processor, mix all purpose flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water as needed to bring dough together. Press dough into prepared pan, pressing firmly against the inside edges. Bake crust for 20 – 25 minutes until lightly golden. Set pan on wire rack to cool slightly. Reduce oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until well combined and paler in color. Stir in zest, lemon juice, 1/4 cup flour and a pinch of salt. Carefully pour topping over warm crust. Bake 15 – 20 minutes, or until set.

Set the pan on a rack to cool completely. Remove squares using parchment. Cut into bars. Dust with 3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar. Or more if you want. I use way more confectioners’ sugar than that. Just me.

 

 

Walnut Tartlets 

I bought these small tartlet pans  – they are kind of like tart pans with removable sides, but just smaller.  They have been sitting around for a couple of months, but I finally decided to do something with them. So I took a tart recipe and made do with it. I also changed the nuts from pecans to walnuts, but the idea remains the same. Mostly.

dd_1641

Dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbs unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
1 Tbs ice water

Filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
2 cups chopped walnuts

*^* special equipment: 4 – 4″ tartlet pans with removable sides.

In the bowl of a food processor, mix flour, sugar, and salt. Add the cubed butter and pulse until mixture is pea sized. Add ice water a teaspoon at a time and pulse until dough comes together into a ball. Turn dough onto a surface and form into a ball. Flatten into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Divide dough into 4 pieces. Press dough into bottom of tart pans and working up the side, making sure the pan is covered, but not too thick. Place a piece of foil on each pan, pressing into dough to hold its shape. Place the pans in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove pans from the freezer and remove foil. Place a piece of foil on a baking sheet and add tartlet pans. Prick bottom of tart dough with a fork and bake 15 – 20 minutes or until dough is lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. Lower oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together butter, brown sugar, egg, and salt until well combined. Divide filling among the 4 tartlets.

Place tartlets on foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes until lightly browned and a little puffy. Remove from oven and let cool to the touch. Remove outer ring of tartlet pans. Let cool completely before cutting.

No-Roll Butter Pie Crust 

Not sure about how this recipe is going to work. I have my fingers crossed.

1/3 cup unsalted butter
4 Tbs water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Melt butter in the microwave [or brown the butter in a sauce pan].  Let cool slightly. Add  water.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in butter & water mixture. Mix together but do not over mix. If the dough seems dry, add a little extra water, but do that judicially.

Dump dough into a 9-inch glass pie plate and press until an even layer over bottom and sides of the plate.

Dough can be pre-baked at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 30 minutes, for a no bake filling.

Or in my case refrigerate for 30 minutes and fill with America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe for Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie.


I have found that having experience in clay, which I have in spades, makes making pastry a lot easier. It really is, pretty much, the same thing. You just have to get a feel for it and trust your hands but not necessarily your eyes.  And the more often you do it, making pastry dough, the easier it gets.

Source: Baking Bites

Well, for all the finger crossing this crust just did not work. And I am not entirely sure why. This is going to bother me for a while, but I will get to the bottom of it. I think David Lebowitz and version of a French press in pie crust that I will give a shot next time. It is all just science after all. Or something like it. Or maybe it just simply is baking and trying new things that sometime work and sometimes do not.

 Lemon White Chocolate Chip Cookies 

I never thought this recipe made any sense. I love lemons, I know that is astonishing to everyone that reads this. But I am not a huge fan of white chocolate, or any chocolate –  for that matter …. but these cookies really work in an amazing way. It makes stupid sense. And science is involved. Cool.

We can all thank Shirley Corriher* for this recipe. And we won’t even go into her biscuits – they are heaven. I guess why they are called “Touch of Grace” biscuits. They are pretty much amazing. Another amazing recipe that kind of makes not too much sense, but is sublime. dd_1648

1 cup unsalted butter, cut in 2 Tbs pieces, room temperature 
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp light corn syrup – science
1/2 tsp lemon extract
zest of one lemon
2 large egg yolks – science, you’ll see
2 cups all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1 cup white chocolate chips

In a stand mixer, cream butter, sugar, salt, corn syrup, lemon extract, and lemon zest until light and creamy. Add yolks, one at a time, beat until blended in thoroughly.

On low speed, add flour, scraping the sides and bottom of bowl. Stir in white chocolate chips. Divide dough and roll into log about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cover baking sheet with parchment. Slice cookies into 3/8 inch slices and arrange 1 inch apart on the sheet. Bake until edges just beginning to brown, about 13 minutes. Cool on pan 2 minutes, then remove to cooling rack.

*Shirley Corriher is a scientist after all. Really, a biochemist from Vanderbilt. Holy hell. That is pretty much amazing. I first saw her on AB’s show – Good Eats  – that great Southern lady with the short grey hair and all the answers and so many science facts that it kind of scared me a bit.

But then I realized she had written two cook books. Cookwise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking, and also Bakewise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking. But I fell in love with this recipe long before I knew of her cookbooks.

The Boy loves the recipe and asks me to make it on a regular basis and I completely understand. While you might think it is odd, as I first did, it comes together in, sigh, and amazing way. And who does not love a slice and bake cookie? They are pretty much my favorite kind of cookie. Yep.

Sour Cream Pecan Sandies 

How do you write about a recipe that you followed to the letter that totally did not work? Sorry to say, this is one of those. And I know, given scientific method, I should do this again, but I will not throw good pecans after bad. Will not do it.

I will tell you what I said to a friend yesterday, “these would be communion wafers except that I put raw sugar on top.” And still they tasted like nothing. So sad. It might be that I have tried my total best pecan sandies recipe recently, and then another recipe that looked pretty good, it really was, but no where near as good as the original from Food & Wine.

There is an ease and simplicity that somehow defies logic for the Food & Wine Pecan Sandies recipe that I cannot praise enough. And to top if off this sour cream pecan sandie involves the step of rolling out the dough and using cookie cutters. Blech.

There are no pictures because there do not to need to be any. Harsh, but true.

1/2 pecan pieces
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 Tbs (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla

Grind pecans in the food processor. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt over a piece of waxed paper. Whisk in pecans.

Cream together butter and shortening in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg, sour cream, and vanilla and mix until combined. Add in flour mixture and mix until just combined.

Divide dough in half and shape into disks, wrap in cling film. Chill dough for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment. Roll dough to 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Turn dough a quarter turn, using flour as needed until 1/8 inch. Dough is sticky, but use a light hand with the flour. Cut dough with your favorite cookie cutters. Place on parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 7 – 9 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for a couple of minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.


I normally attribute the source but will refrain this time. Just make these pecan sandies instead.