Banana Cookies

We’ve been on a bit of a banana kick lately, I guess. This recipe was inspired by this one, but we changed it up by using half brown sugar and half white sugar. That concept came from our pal Andrea, whose chocolate chip cookies were the perfect mix between soft and squishy and dense and crunchy.

Anyhoo, here we go:

  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 cup of mashed bananas (about 3 large bananas)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 2 cups of flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground mace or nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1 cup of pecans (walnuts and chocolate chips are fine alternatives)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the butter and sugar and brown together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

  2. In a bowl, mix the mashed bananas and baking soda. Let sit for 2 minutes. The baking soda will react with the acid in the bananas which in turn will give the cookies their lift and rise.

  3. Mix the banana mixture into the butter mixture. Mix together the flour, salt, and spices and sift into the butter and banana mixture and mix until just combined.

  4. Fold into the batter the pecans or chocolate chips if using. Drop in dollops onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Let cool on wire racks.

Makes about 30 cookies.

Actually for us, it made exactly 3 dozen. Not sure how that happened; our recipes generally yield fewer cookies/muffins/whatevers than promised. But these are good — really good. I think I like them even better than banana bread or banana muffins due to the ease of distribution (I’m taking a few to work tomorrow and publicizing this here and now ensures that they’ll survive the night) and greatly reduced risk of loss due to crumbs from slicing or peeling (i.e., muffin liners).

Banana Bread

Cliff likes to show off his mad baking skillz to his coworkers from time to time. The hardest part about this was waiting for the bananas to ripen.

2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c butter
3/4 c brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/3 c bananas, mashed (about 4)
1/2 c walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine first three ingredients and set aside. Cream butter and brown sugar together. Stir in egg, vanilla and bananas. Add banana mixture to dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in nuts. Pour batter into 9×5 loaf pan and bake for 60-65 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Mint Chocolate Brownies — just one could be fatal

Super Bowl Week: Mint Chocolate Brownies – Slashfood

Well, we missed Super Bowl Week, but it’s not like I even knew who was playing or where (“I’ll take the…uh…Rangers by…uh…a wicket!”).  Fortunately, Sarah held onto this recipe and we had everything in the house necessary for this recipe except the semi-sweet chocolate bars.  We picked up some Sarotti high-cocoa content (76%!) from Edeka on Saturday and that appears to have done the trick.  Our don’t look nearly as nifty as Martha’s (linked to above), but the flavor is amazing.  I don’t see any risk of these becoming habit-forming because of their sheer potency.

mint brownies

Note: those gooey spots in the middle aren’t raw pockets of batter — that’s the layer of melted peppermint patties providing the minty goodness.

Mint Chocolate Brownies

8 tablespoons (1 stick, 100 g) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
8 ounces (226 g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (we used 76% cocoa Sarotti)
1 cup (210 g) sugar (we used a tiny bit less)
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup (69 g) all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/4 cup (40 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
25 small (1 1/2 inch) peppermint patties1

Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all sides; butter foil. Set aside.

Place chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of gently simmering water. Stir occasionally just until melted, 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Whisk in sugar and salt until smooth; whisk in eggs. Gently whisk in flour and cocoa powder just until smooth (do not overmix).

Spread 1/3 of batter in prepared pan. Arrange peppermint patties on batter in a single layer, leaving a narrow border on all sides. Top with remaining batter, and smooth surface. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 45 to 55 minutes.

Cool completely in pan. Use foil to lift from pan; peel off foil and discard. Cut into 16 squares (4 rows by 4 rows).

  1. known here as “Pfefferminztaler” — or 1 1/2 Ritter Sport Pfefferminz bricks works nicely here, too. []

Applesauce Cake

I have a copy of the Fannie Farmer cookbook, which I loathe. I’ve never found anything worth making in it, until now. I was craving a cake and I wanted this dumb book to pay for itself, so I resolved to try something out of the cakes section. That’s where the real magic has been hiding all along! This would go beautifully with a burnt sugar or cream cheese frosting.

276 g (2 c) flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
113 g (1/4 lb) butter, softened
315 g (1 1/2 c) sugar
300 g (1 c) applesauce
2 eggs
1/2 c raisins
1/2 c chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift together first 6 ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. Cream butter, adding sugar gradually until well mixed. Add applesauce and blend. Mix in eggs, one at a time until well blended. Add dry ingredients gradually, until just mixed, then gently stir in raisins and nuts. Pour batter into greased and floured 9×13 or two 8-in. rounds. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes

I found this here online after listening to a very cool podcast. The frosting is wonderful, but it doesn’t harden. Yields 20-24 cupcakes.

3 T Dutch-process cocoa powder (3 Esslöffel)
1/4 c hot water (50 ml)
1 1/4 c flour (173 g)
1/2 tsp baking powder (1/2 Teelöffel)
1/2 tsp baking soda (1/2 TL Natron)
1/4 tsp salt (1/4 TL)
4 oranges, zested
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 c granulated sugar (158 g)
1/2 c buttermilk, at room temperature (100 ml)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (1/2 TL)
1/4 c butter, melted and cooled to room temperature (55 g)

Frosting
4 oz bittersweet baking chocolate (113 g; Am besten wäre normale Schokolade mit hohem Kakaoinhalt – mindestens 72%.)
2/3 c butter, at room temperature (146 g)
1 1/3 c confectioners’ sugar (190 g)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners. In a small bowl, stir the cocoa powder into the hot water until it dissolves; set aside. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a bowl. Grate the zest from the orange into the bowl. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar until well combined. Whisk in the buttermilk and vanilla, then the dissolved cocoa. Whisk in the melted butter, then the dry ingredients.

3. Using a tablespoon, divide the batter among the muffin cups filling each about half full. Bake until the cupcakes are puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean 15-20 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Remove the cupcakes from the pan.

4. To make the frosting, melt the chocolate and let cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, using a stand mixer, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar with the paddle on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate until combined. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch star tip with the frosting and pipe a spiral on top of each cupcake.

Orange Spice Cookies

We found this recipe over at recipezaar, but it didn’t appear to be complete, so we had to make parts of it up alone. Turned out great! These are nice for people with egg allergies, since there is not a single egg in these cookies. Of course, there are plenty of wheat and almonds, so watch out for those.

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup almonds, finely chopped
3 tablespoons orange zest, grated
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons orange juice
sliced almonds

1. Preheat oven to 350°F Beat shortening and butter at medium speed until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well.

2. Add chopped almonds and orange zest, beating well.

3. Sift the dry ingredients together and then combine thoroughly with the other mixture.

4. Roll dough into 1-inch balls; place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until lightly browned on the bottom. Cool slightly on baking sheet; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

5. Combine confectioners’ sugar, marmalade and orange juice; stir well. Spread on cookies and garnish with sliced almonds.

Bread Pudding

In an effort to explain the difference between the meanings of ‘pudding’ in American and British English, Cliff and I took a trip to wikipedia, where we learned more about pudding than I ever thought possible. And there, nestled among the (surprisingly diverse) lists of puddings, was bread pudding. So I searched out a recipe — and it turned out fabulous!

3 cups milk, scalded and cooled
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup brandy or water
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
8-10 slices dry bread, cut into bite-sized chunks
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325°F. Scald (heat to just before boiling) milk and set aside to cool – milk must not be hot when used. Cover raisins with brandy or water and set aside.

Combine brown sugar, cinnamon and allspice in a large mixing bowl. Add bread chunks and pour melted butter over bread. Stir bread and brown sugar mixture until bread chunks are well coated (the butter helps the sugar stick to the bread). Place half of the bread chunks in a greased 9×13. Drain the raisins and sprinkle them over the bread in the pan. Add other half of bread mixture to pan.

Combine egg, salt and vanilla in a bowl and beat for one minute. Gradually beat cooled milk into egg mixture. Pour egg mixture over bread chunks and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Sprinkle any brown sugar that didn’t adhere to bread over the top and bake for 50-55 minutes.

Apple Crisp

We’re big apple crisp fans – because pies scare me (as does anything with dough). I got this recipe from a cookbook that Rose gave us for our anniversary. After a couple of adjustments to the original, I think our version is ready to go public.

8 Granny Smith apple, cored, chopped and peeled
1 tsp salt
1 T cinnamon
3/4 c water

Topping
1 c (138 g) flour
3/4 c (158 g) sugar
1 T cinnamon
1/3 c (73 g) butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Place apple pieces in 9×13 pan. Sprinkle salt, cinnamon and water over the apples. Cut together all ingredients for topping until crumbly. Sprinkle topping evenly over apples. Bake for 1 hour.

Peach Cobbler

This is really good and really fast. The only thing you might not already have on hand is the fruit. Get some good, rich vanilla ice cream, and you’re home free.

6-8 large, ripe peaches, peeled (optional) and sliced
1 c brown sugar
1 c white sugar
4-5 T butter at room temperature
1 large egg
milk
1 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C)

Put peaches into buttered 9×13. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over peaches. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and white sugar. Place egg in a measuring cup, then add enough milk to bring to 1 cup. Add egg, milk and rest of ingredients to mixing bowl and mix until well-blended. Pour mixture over peaches.

Bake for 1 hour.

Killer Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

4 eggs
1 1/4 cups (300ml) vegetable oil
2 cups (420g) white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (276g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups (720ml) grated carrots
1 cup (240ml) chopped pecans
1/2 cup (105g) butter, softened
8 ounces (227g) cream cheese, softened
4 cups (600g or less) confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch rounds or a 9×13 inch pan.

  2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Fold in pecans. Pour into prepared pan.

  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

  4. In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Stir in chopped pecans. Frost the cooled cake.

Frosting variation:
Cliff isn’t a huge fan of frostings. The amount of powdered sugar it takes to make a buttercream that will have that dry-to-the-touch, crisp-outside-creamy-inside texture makes him a little ill. And every time I made this frosting, I had way too much of it, as I always make it in a 9×13. Here’s a less sugar-intensive frosting. It will be harder to transport, as the frosting remains somewhat flowier. But I think the flavor makes up for the extra mess. And I skip the nuts, due to laziness.

85 g butter, softened
175 g cream cheese, softened
2 t vanilla extract
250-300 g powdered sugar

Blend all ingredients on medium until combined, then whip on high until completely smooth. Frost cooled cake immediately.