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Friday
Mar012013

Dark Chocolate Cashew Larabars

Alright.  It's here.  We're doing this.  This is happening.  No turning back now.  

We said we were making March healthy dessert month here on Blue-Eyed Bakers so....you know....here goes nothing.

(For the love what have we gotten ourselves into??! Panic panic panic.)

So let's define healthy shall we?  Wait no, scratch that, let's define OUR version of healthy.  We're pretty simplistic when we're talking good for us foods actually, we just try to stick to unprocessed foods and less sugar.  

Don't get us wrong, we'd be lying if we said that we don't think Fat Free Cool Whip is like nectar of the gods.  Buuuuut, when we're trying (trying oh so hard) to be healthy, we avoid the deliciously processed stuff.

Soooo, in the spirit of health (yay) and simple foods (yay) we're kicking off with these homemade versions of one of our favorite store bought snacks.  And bonus bonus bonus cookies, there are THREE ingredients!  We mean, who said healthy had to be hard?!  

And yes, we know, dark chocolate is one of the ingredients, but again, this is our version of healthy, we said less sugar, not no sugar AND studies show dark chocolate has numerous health benefits, so we're going with it.  But these bars are fabulous without the chocolate also, so if you're like super duper going for it healthy, then leave it out.  (And also, we're impressed).

Ok whew - so we made it through day 1!  Go us!

We've armed ourselves (and hopefully you lovely things) with lots of healthy & delicious bars to snack on while we contemplate our next move in the name of overall health.

Gym?  Jog?  Yoga on demand in the living room?  Hmm...maybe just one more bar...

Dark Chocolate Cashew Larabars
Makes 8 bars

Print Recipe 

8 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) Medjool dates, pitted
100 grams (about 2/3 cups) raw cashews
2 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon water 

In a food processor, combine dates, cashews & chocolate and pulse until the mixture is combined and very finely chopped - about 2 minutes.  If the mixture has not come together on its own, slowly add in the water - only as much as needed to get the mixture to bind together just a little.

Empty the processor bowl & press mixture out onto a piece of wax paper. Cover with another piece of wax paper and roll out to desired thickness. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours (or freeze for 30 minutes). Once chilled, cut bars and wrap individually.

Tuesday
Feb192013

Honey Banana Poppy Seed Bread with Vanilla Cream Cheese Spread

And so it begins, cupcakes.

The endless months with nary a random holiday (thanks, President's Day, btw) in sight to break up the rainy/snowy/cold/windy/blustery weather. The days blend together into a blur of dark clothes and dirty boots. UUUUGGGGHHH!!

Well, it's time to get happy, muffins. Mother Nature may be having a bad few months, but that's not to say we all have to suffer? What brightens a mood more than baking? And snacking? And watching "Pitch Perfect" for the 8,641st time?

And, what sounds happier than Honey Banana Poppy Seed bread? Ok. Maybe Lemon Sunshine Bread but we didn't have any lemons (ew, must go outside, no) and we're not even sure that particular quick bread exists (but, clearly it should, we call dibs).

This lovely loaf is not too sweet and feels sort of healthy with the poppy crunch. Read: this is perfectly appropriate to eat for breakfast because it obviously has lots of fiber in it. We think. Maybe. Hmmm, don't quote us on that. Just quote us on the eat-for-breakfast bit. 

Of course, in typical, Blue-Eyed fashion we also made some Vanilla Cream Cheese spread (aka frosting) to jazz this up, but it isn't totally necessary. We just like baked goods to have accessories. 

On a separate note, we've recently had some requests for healthier desserts. Yikes.

Um, so this will be tough, but we are going to make every attempt to make the month of March "Health(ier) Dessert Month." No promises since we just got done making cream cheese spread for banana bread, but we are going to give it a shot. 

Stay tuned.

 

Honey Banana Poppy Seed Bread with Vanilla Cream Cheese Spread
Serves 8-10
Adapted from Baked: Elements 

Print Recipe

For the Bread:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large, ripe bananas mashed (at least 1 cup)
1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons poppy seeds 

For the Cream Cheese Spread:
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup confectioner's (powdered) sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9-x-5" loaf pan and dust with flour, knocking out the excess. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together the bananas, oil, milk, honey and eggs until well combined. Then, slowly add the dry to the banana mixture ingredients, folding together gently until just combined. Lightly stir in the poppy seeds. 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven for 60-75 minutes until golden brown on top and a cake tester come out with a few moist crumbs.  Let the loaf cool for 15 minutes, then run a sharp knife along the sides to loosen the bread and turn out onto a wire rack to cool further. 

Make the cream cheese spread while the loaf is cooling by mixing all the ingredients in a medium bowl until well combined and smooth. 

The loaf will keep covered at room temperature and the spread should be covered and kept in the fridge.

Monday
Feb112013

Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Cream & A Winner

Alright bon bons let's get real.

Valentine's Day is in T minus 3 so no time to dither. 

We're talking about boy bait.  You know, man candy.  If they don't love you they will and if they love you they will WORSHIP you.

Why?

Uhhhh perfectly rich brownies topped with salted peanut butter cream that's why.

But hold up - we don't discriminate.  These brownies are equally as enticing to gals.  Or kittens.  Or dogs.

WAIT - no, NOT dogs.  Dogs can't have chocolate.  So just kittens.  Or like, we don't know, a hamster.  (Sidebar: Do people still have hamsters? Are we the only ones they kinda freak out?  Bueller?)

Although, if we're laying all our cards on the table here, we know from personal experience that dogs actually can have chocolate and be just fine.  So one time, Eleanor Rigby - the canine representative on the Blue-Eyed Bakers team and official blog mascot - ate a pound of foil wrapped milk chocolate Santas (yes, foil and all) and was just fine.  Thank you Petco emergency vet.

Oh and then this other time, when she was vacationing in New York with Abby, she ate 3 king size Hershey bars (and a CD case, but that's not really relevant), and again, juuuuust fine.  Thank you 15th Street animal hospital.

But hey, we're not pet experts (um, CLEARLY), so you know, maybe just stick to people.  Chances are pretty high that there won't be any of these brownies left for the dog anyway.  Warning - they lasted approximately 284 minutes at casa Blue-Eyed. 

So if you're hoping to bait anyone this Valentine's day, we'd suggest making a second batch.

**AND!!  For some even better news (we know we know, chocolate and peanut butter again, what more could you ask for??!) - we have a giveaway winner!  Thank you all so very much for entering but come on down ATHENA R!  Athena - please send your contact info and mailing address to info@blueeyedbakers.com and we'll get your fab pressie in the mail!

Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Cream
Makes 1 8x8 square pan, about 16 brownies
Adapted from Epicurious

Print Recipe

For brownies:
10 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cold eggs
1/2 cup flour

For Peanut Butter Cream:
6 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
Fleur de sel

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 F.

Line the bottom and sides of an 8x8 square baking pan with parchment paper leaving an overhang on all sides, and set aside.

Mix the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium microwave safe bowl and heat in 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth.  Allow to cool slightly.

Once the mixture has cooled slightly, you want warm, not hot (about 5 minutes), stir in the vanilla.  Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating the first egg fully before adding the second egg.  When the batter looks thick and shiny, stir in the flour and until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula.  Spread batter evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes  Let cool completely on a rack.

While brownies are cooling, make peanut butter cream.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, blend the butter, peanut butter and vanilla until well combined, then slowly add in the powdered sugar until completely incorporated.  Frost cooled brownies with peanut butter cream and sprinkle with fleur de sel.

Lift up the ends of the parchment and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares

Tuesday
Feb052013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Cake & A Giveaway

So apparently we like peanut and chocolate? Are you surprised?

For the same reason we like to listen to songs on repeat (we definitely listened to "Charm Attack" by Leona Naess on repeat in the car from Lexington, Virginia to Washington D.C. and *maybe* got a speeding ticket because we were rocking out for the 534th time and had no idea we had hit 90 mph in the 240), it seems that when we get a taste hankering for peanut butter and chocolate, we need to indulge it until it's dead. Not that we could ever put an end to our chocolate peanut butter obsession ("Charm Attack" is still one of the greatest songs EVER), but we could give it a shot this month?

And, what a fitting month it has been, no, cookies? To culminate this great flavor profile with a Valentine's Day Giveaway? Perfect. Because, really, nothing says 'I love you' quite like peanut butter and chocolate. As for this cake? This is our way of saying we love our fabulous readers.

Also, the giveaway. Pressies also say we love you and it is about time we gave you a pressie! So, rules to enter, leave a comment on this post and/or like us on Facebook and/or re-tweet our fascinating Twitter feed and you will be entered to win these fabulous red Le Creuset Bakers from our personal fav, Sur La Table. You will have until 11:59 EST on February 10th to enter and we will announce a winner in Monday's post. Just an FYI too, muffins, if you leave a comment please include an email address so we can contact you if you win. We totes hate spam and don't do ads (duh) so trust us that your email is completely private! Also, unfortunately, we can only ship domestically at this point so, to our incredible international readers, we will figure something out for next time. We love you just as much!

We would additionally like to recommend that you bake this cake for a special someone as a Valentine's gift to them and then their gift to you can be doing the dishes. Because, fair warning, while it is TOTALLY worth it, this cake requires about 28 bowls and 26 measuring cups, give or take. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Cake
Serves 12
Adapted from Elinor Klivans

Print Recipe

For the Cake:
1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened, Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
7-8 ounces peanut butter cups, divided 

For the Peanut Butter Mousse:
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (not old-fashioned)
3/4 cup confectioner's (powdered) sugar
1 cup cold, heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Ganache:
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
9-10 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter the bottom and sides of a 10" round cake pan, line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the parchment.

Melt the unsweetened chocolate in a double boiler over low heat, stirring constantly, until melted. Set aside. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. And the vanilla extract. On low speed, slowly add the melted and slightly cooled chocolate. Add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and only blending until just combined so as not to over-mix. Using a spatula, stir in half of the peanut butter cups (you can use large peanut butter cups too that have been chopped). Bake until the tops feel firm and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes. Cool on a wire rack until cool enough to touch and then invert the cake onto the wire rack to cool completely (use a knife around the edges to loosen the cake if necessary). 

Prepare the ganache next. In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and butter over low heat until hot but not boiling. Add the chocolate chips, let stand for 30 seconds and then stir to fully melt the chocolate and blend the cream. Stir in the vanilla extract and set aside to cool and thicken. 

To make the mousse, in the clean electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend together the cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth. Set aside. On low speed, slowly add the powdered sugar until incorporated. In another bowl, using an electric whisk, whip the heavy cream and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Add 1/3 of the whipped cream to the peanut butter mixture to lighten it and then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream using a rubber spatula, being careful not to over-mix and deflate the mousse. 

To assemble the cake, invert the cooled cake (top side up again) onto a serving plate. Leaving a 1" edge all the way around, use a small, sharp knife to cup out the center of the cake to create a cavity but do not go all the way to the bottom. You are basically scooping out the middle bit of the cake. Spread half the mouse into the cavity then break up some pieces of the remaining cake and mound over the mousse piling into the center of the cake. Spread the remaining mouse all over the cake and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Then, using a spatula, spread the thickened ganache (it should have a yogurt-like thickness) over the entire cake and sides. Top with the remaining peanut butter cups. 

Keeps covered in the fridge for up to 2 days. 

 

Monday
Jan282013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscotti

What can we say about biscotti that we haven't already covered?

Alright quick review for the newbies.  Look alive, this is gonna be fast.

Ok, so one and MOST IMPORTANTLY, biscotti are NOT cookies.  Because if they were cookies you couldn't eat them at breakfast perched so elegantly on the edge of your coffee cup.  

No, if they were cookies, you'd get weird looks.  Weird slash jealous looks.  Like that "who does that girl think she is eating a cookie for breakfast and why can't I have that kind of self confidence and chutzpah?" look.

But they're not cookies.  So don't worry.

Two!  Chocolate and peanut butter should be combined whenever possible, wherever possible.  

Ok so that one is less of a biscotti specific commentary and more of a fundamental life lesson, a mantra, a governing principle that guides us through life daily.

So wait, what more can we really say about an any time of day non-cookie that you can be openly consumed in public sans judgmental slash envious looks that also contains the all powerful and generally most important flavor profile combination ever created?

Um...er...make them.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscotti
Makes about 28 cookies
Adapted from Peanut Butter & Co

Print Recipe 

3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 eggs

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  Add the chocolate chips and set aside. 
   
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together the butter, peanut butter, sugar and vanilla.  Add the eggs, one at a time, until they are well incorporated. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until fully incorporated.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
While the dough is chilling preheat oven to 350 F.
   
Using your hands, shape chilled dough into 2 4 by 10 inch logs and place on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake until pale golden, 25-30 minutes.
   
Remove biscotti from the oven and transfer pan to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 300 F.
   
Once cool, use a very sharp serated knife to cut the logs into slices about 3/4 inch thick. Place the slices cut side down on the cookie sheet and bake, turning once, until crisp, an additional 7-9 minutes on each side.
     
These cookies will stay fresh for 3 to 4 months if kept in an airtight container.