Salted Chocolate Granola

Chocolate Granola 1

When I get a new cookbook, I usually have a recipe I make the very next day because I just can’t wait to find out what it is. Well, my husband surprised me with a new cookbook in the mail while he was out of town recently (he knows my language of love), and this is the recipe I hopped to the very next minute I could. It comes from Valerie Gordon’s Sweet, with just one revision. She finely chops 8 oz. of bittersweet chocolate and sprinkles it on top of the granola when it’s hot out of the oven, stirs the granola after the chocolate melts, and then lets it cool before serving. She also serves this as a dessert (on top of ice cream or pudding). Well, I wanted this to be breakfast, so I omitted the extra chocolate, and it has been breakfast (and even lunch) nearly every day since I made it. I think it tastes like a very much improved version of Cocoa Puffs (that’s my high-brow opinion). And it’s very easy to not want anything to do with boxed cereals when you have this tucked in your cupboard. Yields about 12 cups.

Chocolate Granola Bowl
Salted Chocolate Granola

  • 4 cups wholemeal rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced raw almonds
  • 1 cup raw hazelnuts, halved
  • ¼ cup cacao nibs
  • 1/3 cup  cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 t. vanilla bean paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fleur de sel or fine sea salt (I found some smoked chocolate salt that I used. Wow!)
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 F / 120 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon liner and set aside. [I did 350 degrees and only baked it for 40ish minutes.]
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the rolled oats, almonds, hazelnuts, cacao nibs, and fleur de sel or fine sea salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, brown sugar, honey, oil and vanilla.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir well with a rubber spatula until combined and evenly moistened.
  5. Spread the granola in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes, until crisp and the nuts are turning golden.
  6. Remove the granola from the oven and move the baking sheets to a cool area and allow the granola to cool. It can be stored in an airtight container for up to three weeks.

Chocolate Granola Spoon

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Pear + Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pear and Carrot Cake

I think I’ve mentioned how in love I am with Sarah Randell’s Family Baking book. I’m nearly bowled over by every recipe–they are all simple, full of good and interesting ingredients, and perfect for every night desserts or treats. This recipe was a perfect use for all the random items in my fridge box the other night, so I made it and loved it. The pears felt so unusual to me, but they were the perfect touch. Can’t wait to include it in many fall evenings to come.

Pear + Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 1/2 c. (200 g) all-purpose flour
3/4 c. (100 g) spelt flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. bicarbonate of soda
1 T. ground cinnamon
2 pinches of ground cloves
4 large eggs
1 1/2 c. (275 g) light brown or muscovado sugar
1 c. (250 ml) virgin coconut oil or rapeseed oil
1 c. (150 g) grated carrots
2/3 c. 100 g grated zucchini (courgettes)
2 pears, cored and chopped
1 c. (150 g) walnut or pecan pieces
2/3 c. (100 g) sultanas

For the cream cheese frosting
5 T. (75 g) very soft unsalted butter
6 1/2 oz. (200 g) cream cheese, chilled
1/2 c. (100 g) authentic thick Greek yogurt, chilled
1 1/4 c. (175 g) powdered sugar, sifted
1 T. poppy seeds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180˚C, 160 fan˚C, Gas 4).

Sift the flours, baking powder and baking soda into the bowl of an electric mixer (or use a large mixing bowl and an electric whisk). Tip any spelt left in the sieve into the bowl too. Add the cinnamon, cloves, eggs, sugar and oil. Mix together.

In another bowl, mix the carrots, courgettes, pears, nuts and sultanas. Using a large metal spoon, fold these ingredients into the cake mixture, making sure everything is thoroughly combined.

Divide the mixture between two 8 in. (20-cm) round cake tins that are buttered and base-lined with baking parchment. Spread the mixture out evenly with a spatula. Bake in the preheated oven for 40–45 minutes [28-30 minutes worked better for me], or until risen, golden and set in the centre. Let cool in the tins.

To make the poppy seed frosting, whisk together the butter and cream cheese, add the yogurt and icing sugar and whisk again – an electric whisk makes quick work of this. Stir in the poppy seeds, then refrigerate until needed.

Tip the cold cakes out of the tins and peel off the base papers. Place one cake on a board or serving plate, bottom-side uppermost. Spread half the frosting over it. Put the other cake on top, top-side uppermost, and spread the remaining frosting over the top.

Apple Cinnamon Bites

Cinnamon Apple Bites

A picked up a small baking book a couple of months ago that has become my favorite little book this year. The baker, Sarah Randell, has so many interesting, easy, and terrific recipes. I especially love that so many of her recipes include fruit or nuts: I’m also not baking much without one of those two things lately! The book is entitled Family Baking, and I will be posting many more of its delightful ideas. This recipe is terrific, but the original gets the name wrong, I think, so I’ve changed it (my kids all entered their ideas, we all selected Peter’s. Hazel was happy with Peter’s title, but wanted to make sure I added “Yummy” to the title. So, definitely know it’s yummy). I also have changed this recipe from the original in that I pureed the fruit mixture–I knew I would have more eaters that way.

Apple Cinnamon Bites

1 1/2 c. soft, pitted dates, chopped
2 tart apples, peeled, cored and chopped into cubes
zest of 1 orange or lemon
freshly squeezed juice of 2 oranges
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom or cloves  
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
sticky oat layer:
2/3 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. self-rising flour*
3 T unsalted butter, softened
3 T corn syrup
1 large egg yolk
*replace self-rising flour with 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt
Place the chopped dates, apples, zest, juice and spices in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once everything has come to a simmering point, reduce the heat to low and gently cook the fruit for 8-10 minutes, covered, until the apple has softened. Leave to cool. If needed, mash the fruit with a potato masher until only a few small chunks are left or puree in a food processor.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper.
To make the sticky oat layer, put all the ingredients in  an electric mixer and beat to combine. Spread half of this mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan and press down firmly to make an even layer. Spoon the cooled date mixture on top of the oat base and top with the remaining oat mixture (I did this in drops, but you could also precariously spread the oat mixture more evenly).
Bake for 30-35 minutes until top is evenly brown. Let cool completely before cutting into bars. Yield: 16 smallish bars/bites.

Rosemary Glazed Nuts

Rosemary Glazed Nuts

So, I always want  to have friends over because I love my friends and want to have them over, but sometimes it’s also a great excuse to spend the week reading through my favorite cookbooks, getting all sorts of fantasy menus planned. When the real day comes, though, everything gets simplified, and I’m happy just to have the main dishes covered, but the one thing I always try to have at hand is a bowl of addicting nuts.  These rosemary nuts, in particular, only get made when we have company coming, because my husband and I should not be the only people eating them. They are just too terrific, even though they would be lovely to have around all the time. This recipe comes from Ina Garten’s How Easy Is That? — a book that really encourages us all to simplify the dinner party and do it more often. Totally on board with that.

Rosemary Glazed Nuts

Vegetable oil
3 c. whole roasted unsalted cashews (14 ounces)
2 c. whole walnut halves (7 ounces)
2 c. whole pecan halves (7 ounces)
½ c. whole almonds (3 ounces) (I always do more almonds and less cashews)
1/3 c. pure maple syrup
¼ c. light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 T. freshly squeezed orange juice
2 t. ground chipotle powder (I reduce and/or sometimes leave out for the kids’ sake)
4 T. minced fresh rosemary leaves, divided
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Brush a sheet pan generously with vegetable oil. Combine the cashews, walnuts, pecans, almonds, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, the maple syrup, brown sugar, orange juice, and chipotle powder on the sheet pan. Toss to coat the nuts evenly. Add 2 tablespoons of the rosemary and 2 teaspoons of salt and toss again.

Spread the nuts in one layer. Roast the nuts for 25 minutes, stirring twice with a large metal spatula, until the nuts are glazed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with 2 more teaspoons of salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons of rosemary.

Toss well and set aside at room temperature, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking as they cool. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm or cool completely and store in airtight containers at room temperature.

Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

I always pay attention when King Arthur Flour announces their recipe of the year. It’s always a winner–they are an admirable bunch of bakers! This easy cookie recipe is delicious and simple, and the perfect after-school or dinner snack. The little bit of oats helps give the cookies some yummy texture, and I’m also happy to report that chilling it doesn’t improve the shape that much, so if you’re like me and hate chilling dough because you want the cookies fast, you can just pop them in the oven without feeling bad.

Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

1 c. (16 T.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. light brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 T. vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. kosher salt or 3/4 t. regular table salt
3 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper, or lightly grease with non-stick vegetable oil spray.

Beat together the butter and sugars until smooth. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla one at a time, beating well after each.

Whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and add to the butter mixture in the bowl. Mix until everything is thoroughly incorporated. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and mix briefly, then stir in the chocolate chips.

Decide what size cookies you want to make. A muffin scoop (1/4 cup) will make 20 large, palm-sized cookies. A tablespoon cookie scoop (4 teaspoons) will make 50 medium (2 3/4″ to 3″) cookies; and a teaspoon cookie scoop (2 teaspoons) will make 100 small (2 1/2″) cookies.

Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 1/2″ to 2″ between cookies, and bake the cookies for 12 to 17 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown, with slightly darker edges. Their middles may still look a tiny bit shiny; that’s OK, they’ll continue to bake as they cool on the pan. Remove the cookies from the oven, and as soon as they’re set enough to handle, transfer them to racks to cool.

Yield: 20 to 100 cookies, depending on size.

Poppyseed Plum Muffins

Plum Poppyseed Muffin
So, this sudden increase of muffin recipes on my blog is due to the alarming realization I had the other day when I searched for muffin recipes on my blog, and I realized I only had a handful here. This is so strange, because I make muffins all the time. Like, once or twice a week. Where have I been putting all these recipes? I’m not sure, but I’m going back and cataloguing them all, so that in the future when I search for my favorite muffins, they will all be here.

This is a recipe I worked long and hard at getting right for high altitude. I loved the idea of a plum muffin, but the original recipe (from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook), had great flavor and a disastrous texture. In fact, the muffins just blew across the top of the pan, as only muffins baked at high altitude do. So, I worked long and hard to get it right. Feel free, of course, to look up and use the original recipe, as this recipe is quite a bit changed. But if you do seek out the original, I still highly recommend 1/4 c. more sugar and some almond extract. It really makes them, well, a favorite here.

Poppyseed Plum Muffins

6 T. (3 ounces or 85 grams) unsalted butter, melted (and browned, if you have inclination)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 c. (50 grams) granulated sugar
3/4 c. (180 grams) rich, full-fat plain yogurt or sour cream
1/2 c. (60 grams) whole-wheat flour
1 1/4 c. (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1 3/4 t. baking powder (2 t. if not at high altitude)
1/4 t. table salt
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 t. almond extract
2 T. (20 grams) poppy seeds
2 c. pitted and diced plums, from about 3/4 pound (340 grams) Italian prune plums (though any plum variety will do)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Butter twelve muffin cups or line with cupcake liners.

Whisk the egg with the sugar in the bottom of a large bowl. Stir in the melted butter, then the sour cream (yogurt), and almond extract. In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and poppy seeds, and then stir them into the sour cream mixture until it is just combined and still a bit lumpy. Fold in the plums.

Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the tops are golden and a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Rest muffins in the pan on a cooling rack for 2 minutes, then remove them from the tin to cool them completely.

Pick-Your-Own Handmade Potato Chips

Handmade Potato Chips
I was reading through a sweet little recipe book on making common snacks and grocery items from scratch when I found a recipe for potato chips. Now, why this has never occurred to me before, I have no idea, but it shot off in my brain as the perfect use for the mounds of potatoes in my home. So, the good news is that after last week, there is no longer a mound of potatoes in my home. The bad news is that although handmade potato chips taste WAY better and are WAY more cost effective than store-bought ones, the nutritional value is probably just about the same. So, probably not everyday food. But, you can reuse the oil for multiple fryings, which makes the purchase of peanut oil pay off, and if you’re wondering if the 2 gallon-size of peanut oil that Costco sells is worth it, it is. Absolutely.

Handmade Potato Chips

4-5 medium-sized Russet or Yukon Gold Potatoes
8-10 c. peanut oil (vegetable oil will work, too, I just prefer peanut)

For seasoning you might consider:
salt & pepper, or
ranch seasoning powder (try Penzey’s!), or
barbecue rub powder, or
cheddar cheese powder (used for popcorn seasoning) or
chopped rosemary and salt

Special Equipment:
a large pot, a mandolin (or slicer on a box greater or sharp knife), an instant-read thermometer, a slotted metal spoon or spider skimmer

Heat the oil in a large kettle or pasta pot over medium-high to high heat (I put it on 8.5/10 on my electric stove).

Fill a large bowl with cold water. Using a mandolin, a slicer on a box grater (the single blade), or a knife, slice the potatoes as thin as you can get them. Immediately place them in the cold water as you continue to slice the remaining potatoes (this will prevent them from turning brown and remove a little extra starch from the surface).

Cover a baking sheet with paper towels. Once the potatoes have soaked for 10 minutes or so, drain them and spread them on the sheet to dry. Blot the extra water with a few extra towels to get the potatoes as dry as possible (this will prevent sputtering as they hit the oil).

Prepare another baking sheet with fresh paper towels. When the oil reaches 375 to 400 degrees (test with the instant read thermometer), throw about 1 c. of sliced potatoes into the oil (I usually place them in with a spider skimmer, about arm’s length away, because I don’t want any more oil burns on my hands. Yes, I have a few). Fry, stirring with a metal spoon to make them curved and crinkled (which is beautiful), until the inside of the chips are a nice golden brown. Remove with a metal slotted spoon or spider skimmer and place on prepared sheet. Wait for the oil to return to 375, and continue to fry in batches.

Season the hot potato chips with a shake of salt and pepper, a dusting of ranch or barbecue powder, or freshly cut rosemary, and eat immediately or save for an excursion to the woods. Enjoy.

Whoopie! School’s Out!

Whoopie PIe with Salted Dulce
This was the recipe that caught my eye the most as I flipped through the cookbook, Home Baked Comfort, and I thought, yes, of every recipe, I will make this one right this minute. And I did. And honestly, a whoopie pie can be a little dangerous at high altitude, because sometimes the cookie will spread too much and flatten, but this recipe performed beautifully. (Okay, it can also be dangerous when trying to lower sugar intake, but, well, that’s the kind-of danger I like.) I also took this cookie with me to my nephew’s all-cookie birthday party (how is that not the perfect party idea?). The filling didn’t do great in the hot weather, but I kind-of enjoyed watching them slowly slip and slide. Maybe not the perfect 90-degree-weather-outside-party cookie, but definitely the perfect cookie to welcome in summer! Wouldn’t be so bad at any other time of the year, either.

Salty Dulce de Leche Whoopie Pie

For the cookies:
6 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 t. pure vanilla extract
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. natural cocoa powder (like Hershey’s)
1/2 t. baking soda (reduce slightly for high altitude, like a little shake less, or 1/4 t. less if doubling)
1/4 t. salt

For the filling:
4 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 c. confectioners’ sugar
2 T. heavy cream
1/4 to 1/2 t. kosher salt
1/3 c. dulce de leche (you can find this at Latin American Grocers or Trader Joe’s)

To make the cookies, in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until combined. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until blended. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into the bowl and beat just until blended. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough until firm, about 2 hours.

Space 2 racks evenly in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

With dampened hands, shape tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls [I used a tablespoon cookie scoop]. Place them firmly on the prepared pans, spacing them slightly apart and squishing them a little. You should have about 20 balls. Bake until the cookies are puffed and slightly firm, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the pans about halfway through. Let the cookies cool on the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

While the cookies are cooling, make the filling: In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until lightened. Stir in the cream and salt, to taste, on low speed, then stir in the dulce de leche until the filling is smooth.

Spread the flat side of half the cookies with a big dollop of the filling. Top each with a second cookie, placing the flat side on the filling. (You’ll probably have a bit more filling than you need, but if you’re like us, you’ll find a good use for it and will sneak spoonfuls here and there.) Refrigerate until the filling is set, at least 1 hour. Whoopie! Makes 10 whoopie pies.

Two Summery, Kid-Friendly Drinks

Brazilian Lemonade
With warm weather, it makes a little more sense to have an after-school drink rather than an after school snack, and these two were big hits this last week! These drinks were also the result of buying a huge bag of limes and lemons from Costco, and feeling like I shouldn’t make them all into curd 🙂

Strawberry Lime Slushie

3 c. frozen strawberries
2 c. club soda
3 limes, juiced

Blend these three together. The club soda gives a little kick, but you could replace it for water or milk or lime soda, if desired. If you want even more lime flavor, zest the limes before juicing them.

Brazilian Lemonade or Limeade
pictured above

4 c. ice
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 whole lemon (or lime), cut into quarters (omit if you don’t like pulp, or just use the zest)
1 1/4 c.  fresh lemon or lime juice (or substitute with Real Lemon or concentrate)
1/4-1/2 c. sugar
4-5 c. water

The bigger the blender, the easier!

Unfortunately, I had to blend this drink in 3 batches:
Batch 1: sweetened condensed milk, 2 c. ice, 1/2 c. lemon juice, 2 c. water

Batch 2: another 1/2 c. lemon juice, 2 c. ice, 2 c. water

Batch 3: whole lemon, 1/4-1/2 c. sugar, 1/2 c. water

Blend together in a large pitcher. If not using immediately, make sure to stir before serving.

Easy Energy Bar

Date Granola BarI’m loving all the energy bars I’m trying. Well, honestly, there are a lot of awful ones, but this one is simple and delicious, though admittedly not as kid-friendly (which just means my kids don’t devour them all in one afternoon. Maybe this is a good thing). I’ve found that these keep for a week, and are great for little snacks or even little meals, if needed. I’m trying to make something healthy and yummy like this every Monday, so that I have a supply when we’re on the run. So here’s something to consider for this week! I’ve changed this recipe from a recipe that’s on the blog citronlimette.

Seed & Nut Energy Bars

  • 1 c. walnuts
  • 1 c. almonds
  • 1 c. pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
  • 6 dates
  • ½ t. sea salt
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 T. unsweetened finely shredded coconut (like Bob’s Red Mill) or coconut flour
  • ½ c. agave
  • ½ c. cocoa nibs (don’t substitute chocolate chips. Just leave out if you don’t have)
  • 1 c. currants or chopped cherries
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8″ x 8″ pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
Pulse walnuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the dates and pulse the mixture few times, leaving some texture.Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl; add the other ingredients, and mix until combined. Spread mixture into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes.

Cut into squares and serve. Bars will keep in an airtight container, in the fridge, for a week.