Cranberry Brown Butter Shortbread Bars

The cranberries are in! There isn’t a whole lot of cranberry love here in Germany, so when they showed up at the green-grocers, I came home and started strategizing. The brown butter creates an extra step, but the different flavor is very worth it. I made Cliff brown the butter (because hot popping grease freaks me out) and he did a fantastic job. I found this recipe here, and have changed very little (used a little less sugar with the berries), but I broke down the instructions into a more readable format. Don’t let the lengthy instructions put you off – it’s a lot easier to execute than to explain.

1 c + 5 T (263 g) butter
1 c (210 g) sugar, divided into 3/4 and 1/4 c
3/4 t salt
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/4 t almond extract (didn’t have any, so we used amaretto)
3 c + 3 T (404 g) flour
1 lb (500 g) cranberries, picked over and rinsed
3/4 c (158 g) sugar
1/3 c orange juice

  1. Prepare brown butter. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Once it’s completely melted, turn heat up to medium and stir constantly until milk solids separate out (it will foam, just keep stirring). Butter will smell very nutty and turn golden brown. Pour into a heatproof bowl, set aside and allow to cool, stirring occasionally.

  2. Line a 9×13 pan with foil or parchment. In a large mixing bowl, combine cooled butter, 3/4 c sugar and salt, stirring until well mixed. Add yolks and almond extract, stirring until smooth. Next, add the flour. The original recipe says to use a spoon or rubber spatula, but I incorporated it with a pastry blender. Worked for me. The dough will be quite stiff and dense, just go with it. Transfer about 2 c of the dough to the lined 9×13 and press it until it knits together. It will still be kind of bumpy, but that’s cool. Put the pan of dough into the fridge for about 40 minutes. Add the remaining 1/4 c of sugar to the rest of the dough and work it in with the pastry blender until it’s crumbly.

  3. Prepare cranberry jam. In a deep saucepan over high heat, bring cranberries, sugar and orange juice to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and stir constantly until cranberries have popped and jam achieves chunky, thick consistency. Set aside and allow to cool a little.

  4. Heat oven to 325° F/163° C. Remove dough from fridge and prick all over with fork. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and turn heat up to 350° F/175° F. Spread cranberry jam evenly over hot shortbread, then sprinkle remaining dough crumbles over the top. Return shortbread to oven and bake for at least 25 minutes or until streusel is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool on trivet for at least 1 hour.

Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake

It’s the berry time of year, and while at the local farmers’ market on Saturday, I couldn’t resist a big carton of tiny little wild blueberries at a stand manned by two little old ladies, offering only blueberries and raspberries (they were near the west entrance, across from the egg ladies, in case you need to score from them next Saturday).

I transcribed this recipe from an allrecipes.com video on a recipe page for blueberry sour cream coffee cake1. I like the streusel topping so much I plan to use it on future cakes, too.


Equipment

  • Preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C
  • Grease and flour a 9×13 inch (23×33 cm) baking pan or 9″ Bundt pan

Ingredients

Batter

  • 2/3 cup (146 g) softened butter
  • 1 1/2 cups (315 g) sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (200 g) sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 5/8 cups (224 g) flour + 2 Tbsp flour (for blueberry flotation)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries

Topping

  • 1/2 cup (105 g) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (just eyeball it) chopped pecans
  • optional powdered sugar for dusting the final product

Method

  1. Beat butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in 2 eggs one at a time. Gently stir in 1 cup sour cream and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

  2. In a separate bowl combine

    • 1 5/8 cups of flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp salt
  3. Combine with butter mixture, just until blended. Toss 1 1/2 cups blueberries with 2 Tbsp flour to keep them from sinking in the batter2, and gently fold into the batter. Put half the batter into your greased and floured pan.

  4. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar to a bowl, along with 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Stir together, sprinkle half over the batter. Spread the rest of the batter into the pan, and top with the rest of the pecan/sugar mixture. Swirl the batter/topping layers around with a chopstick for a nice artsy touch.

  5. Bake about 55 minutes, or until it passes the toothpick test. Ours needed an extra 10 minutes, but it’s really hard to tell with all those blueberries at the bottom moistening your toothpick. Cool completely in the pan, and optionally top with powdered sugar just before serving.

  1. which, oddly, doesn’t seem like exactly the same recipe depicted in the video []
  2. this proved completely ineffective, but I guess I don’t care. []

Ginger Cookies

I saw @LivWrites and @Rachel_Munich tossing ideas around about ginger cookies, including this recipe from allrecipes.com: Big Soft Ginger Cookies

I thought to myself, “Self! You have everything you need to make those!”

But I looked more closely at the recipe and decided, mostly out of laziness and efficiency, to swap in ingredients of my own choosing: some coconut oil and butter instead of margarine What follows are the ingredients I used — the steps are the same as the original.

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups (311 g) whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
110 g coconut oil
50 g butter
1 cup (210 g) white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup (about 100 ml) molasses
2 tablespoons white sugar for rolling

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized balls*, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

They don’t look so great, but the flavor is very good. As usual, I tried to get too many cookies onto one sheet and I totally forgot that step about letting them cool before trying to move them. I like the subtle addition my coconut oil substitution lends.

These will be good eating as an ice cream topping. Next time, I think I’ll try oomphing up the ginger flavor another notch with either even more ground ginger or perhaps some freshly minced ginger root in the dough. Not to mention sticking closely to the sizing guide and making four or more trays worth instead of just two.

*Really, tend toward smaller if you can help it. Walnut-sized must mean “half the edible nut part inside of a walnut shell,” and not the greeny fleshy ball thing containing the shell containing the edible nut parts that falls from the tree. Too literal, I know.

Blueberry Ice Cream

Blueberry Ice CreamIt’s farmers’ market season in Regensburg. One of the things I look forward to every year are the tiny little “Forest Blueberries” — Waldheidelbeeren — we can (sometimes) find at the Donaumarkt. They make for a nice sauce, perhaps to use with a lovely brunchy plate of crêpes.

But this oppressive heat (now that it’s finally here!) calls for something more seasonally appropriate to be done with these berries. Continue reading Blueberry Ice Cream

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is pumpkin pie. Moving to Germany and having to make the puree ourselves (really, it’s not that hard) has raised my appreciation for that pie. It’s strongly connected with the season…but wouldn’t it be nice to have a slice in July? Continue reading Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream