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Friday
Dec032010

Microwave Peanut Brittle

Microwave what?!?!

Peanut Brittle.

We know, we know. Peanut Brittle is something your grandparents eat at Bridge tournaments and get stuck in their dentures.

Ew.

But, actually, NOT ew. Yum. Yes, YUM! Like salty sweet sticky chewy CRUNCHY yum. Those oldies are onto something.

This brittle is impossibly easy (did you hear us say 'microwave') and so totally addictively tasty that we dare you to give it away at the holidays.

The good news is that if you happen to just, oh, eat the entire pan without even realizing it, it takes about 5 minutes to make a whole new batch.

Microwave, people. Microwave. 

Microwave Peanut Brittle 

Print Recipe

1 ½ cups unsalted peanuts
1 cup sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
¼ teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda 

Butter a large baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

In microwave-proof bowl (we used glass), combine peanuts, sugar, corn syrup and salt, then microwave for about 4-5 minutes, until the mixture is bubbling very vigorously. You can stir midway through cooking if you like. 

Stir in butter and vanilla and put the mixture back in the microwave until it turns light gold color, about 2-3 minutes more. Remove and add baking soda to mixture and stir (the mixture will foam up quite a bit).

Quickly pour onto the buttered baking sheet. Tilt baking sheet from side to side to spread brittle as thinly as possible, then let stand until cold and hard – about 2 hours. Break up and enjoy!

Note: This nutty number can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month. You can also substitute peanuts for any other kind of nut like almonds, cashews or walnuts.

Tuesday
Nov302010

Rocky Road Fudge

Ok cupcakes, get ready.  Hold onto your hats.  Fasten your seat-belts.  Buckle up buttercups.  Shoot, those are all the “get ready” catch phrases we know…anyway!  We’re going to go ahead and assume you’re ready.  Ready for what you ask?  For Christmas, muffins!

Wait, we’re not ready either.  Actually we are like at the other end of ready.  One blue-eyed is currently moving from one Boston house to another with nary an ornament or wreath in sight and the other is trying to determine how much garland she can strew about one rather small living space without going overboard (FYI, she’s totally going to go overboard).

And gifts?!  Well we did have a rather successful shopping excursion last week and bought some glorious new shoes for ourselves.  Oh but you mean gifts for others.  Yeah, um, no.

You totally don’t have to be ready ready.  But you have to be pre-ready.  Ready for all the December deliciousness we will be making and baking while we countdown to Christmas.

And lucky ducks, if like us, you haven’t started the shopping for gifts part (unfortunately green patent heels for yourself don’t count hmmph) don’t fret.  All month long we will be posting recipes that can be gifts themselves. 

That’s right! A month of posts dedicated to goodies to give and treats that travel.  So whether you’re heading to a holiday soiree or looking to gift some homemade treats, we’ve got you covered.

And since we know time is precious around the holidays (all that eggnog drinking takes up a LOT of time) we’re keeping it simple to start.  Like really simple.  Ridiculously simple actually.  And ridiculously good.  Chocolate, peanuts…um sweetened condensed milk!?!


You’re welcome.  Now don’t eat the whole pan.  Er and if you maybe already did that (we were hungry!), make some more.  You have 5 minutes right?  Right.  Now make some more and give it away.

See, this gifting thing isn’t so hard.

Rocky Road Fudge

Print Recipe

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
1 cup salted peanuts

In a glass bowl, combine the chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk and butter.  Microwave mixture in intervals, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted.

Add marshmallows and peanuts and mix to combine.  Pour fudge mixture into a greased 8 x 8 baking dish.  Refrigerate until firm, about an hour.

Store fudge in fridge until ready to serve.

Thursday
Nov252010

Pecan Pie Bars

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, Cupcakes! We hope you are all enjoying bountiful feasts of food and plenty of dessert, like Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie and Cookies and Gingerbread and Cheesecake and Pecan Pie...

Well, actually. We have a small issue with Pecan Pie. More specifically, we have 4 issues with Pecan Pie. 

First and foremost, it is WAY too sweet. Like, even for us, Blue-Eyed Bakers, who really like sweet things.

Secondly, there is no chocolate. There is no chocolate in any traditional Thanksgiving dessert which we see as kind of a major problem. Who invented a series of holiday desserts and didn't include chocolate? We'd like to have some words with that guy. Or gal. Either way. It's wrong. Chocolate should be required.

And thirdly, you can't really justify having more than one slice, unlike say cookies and brownies. 

Like, if you take two slices of pie, people are all "that girl took two pieces of pie."

Not us, of course, we don't judge. Rather we would cheer you on and prolly give you a blue ribbon and it would make us feel better because we can never stop at just one piece of pie and um, hi, the more the merrier, right? It's Thanksgiving after all. Eating a lot is sort of in the rules.

But, other people, they might not be so nice.

Finally, pie doesn't travel well.

As a random example, if you were driving to New York for Thanksgiving and you wanted to snack on some pie...you know, to make sure it tastes good. You wouldn't want to serve bad pie! Obviously, you have to TRY some first. Duh.

But trying to eat a piece of pie while driving would be like trying to blow-dry your hair while showering.  It's messy and potentially explosive.

But, we have found a way around all of these issues.

YOU ARE WELCOME.

Now you can enjoy multiple pieces of not-sweet pie dipped in chocolate and you can do so while driving (or walking, sleeping, running, playing Wii and drinking wine).

Something to be thankful for, no?

PS - All our fun packaging is from Garnish. We heart pretty packaging. In fact, December, here we come...

Pecan Pie Bars
Makes 24 bars

Print Recipe

For the Shortbread Crust:
1 1/2 sticks cold, unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed, light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Pie Filling:
2 heaping cups of whole pecans
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup packed, light brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Dipping (optional):
8 ounces good quality dark chocolate
1/2 teaspoon vegetable or canola oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan with parchment paper or foil leaving some excess hanging over the ends.

To make the crust, cut the butter into a 1/2-inch dice. Then, in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process all the ingredients for the crust together (including the diced butter) until the mixture begins to form tiny lumps and appears downey, about 30-45 seconds. Tip this mixture into the prepared pan and using your hands or a big spatula, evenly press the shortbread crust into the bottom of the pan. Bake in the middle of the oven until golden, about 18-20 minutes. While the shortbread crust is baking, prepare the filling.

To make the filling, roughly chop the pecans. It's ok to have some whole pecans and some pecan pieces. Set aside. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, brown sugar, honey, cream and salt. Bring to a simmer and allow to bubble, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and pecans. Pour the pecan filling into the hot shortbread crust and spread as evenly as possible. Bake in the middle of the oven until bubbling evenly all over, about 12-15 minutes.

Cool completely, lift out of the baking pan using the overhanging parchment or foil and cut into bars. At this point, you can just start eating the bars, they are very tasty plain.

However, since we wanted to add chocolate, we dipped the cut and cooled bars in melted chocolate. We had some Dark Chocolate Orange on hand so we used that. 

To do this, first, prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. To melt the chocolate, put 6 ounces of the chocolate and the oil together in a glass container that is taller than it is deep (this will make it easier to dip the bars) and heat in the microwave in 30-second increments stirring after each round. It took us about 1 minute and 15 seconds. When the chocolate is just melted, add the remaining 2 ounces of chocolate and stir until completely smooth and glossy. Dip the bars into the chocolate allowing the excess to drip off. Place on the prepared baking sheet to cool and firm up. 

These bars will keep, covered, for 5 days at room temperature.

Tuesday
Nov232010

Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread

Ok ok we admit it, we're kind of missing the whole Thanksgiving menu planning thing.  Deciding on the sides, the pies, the pre-appetizer appetizers.  Oh sigh, we might have wee missing out complex. 

Wait, what's that?  Is that our last year memory?  Helloooo?  Is that 6 people in a 487 degree galley kitchen trying to determine how to cook 3 sides, a turkey, bread and 4 pies in one rather tiny oven??  Oh yes, yes it is.

Aaaaaand we're right back on board with an Indian Thanksgiving!

But just because we're celebrating with masala and mango chutney, doesn't mean we don't need dessert.  Hi, we're Katy & Abby, we live for desserts.  Just a little fyi.

But can we be honest cupcakes?  Um, we're sort of ready for that next teeny tiny holiday to get here.  We know we know!  Two days before turkey time and we're already antsy for peppermint, candy canes and reindeer.

Guess that whole not making a turkey thing makes it easier to look down the road and starting dreaming of all the December deliciousness we'll be baking up.

So we'll compromise.  A Thanksgiving-appropriate treat that lets us get started on Christmas cooking too.  You know, because we're just assuming that most of you will not be following our lead and doing Thanksgiving take out style.

Correct us if we're wrong.

So being the compromisers that we are, we made you gingerbread.  You should make you gingerbread too.  No really, it's delicious.  And it's ginger-y.  And it comes from this little place you might have heard of called Gramercy Tavern.  No big whoop.

Wrong.  Big whoop.  Huge whoop.  Like WHOOP.

And it's totally great for Thanksgiving.  You can make it ahead (one oven/galley kitchen kids, listen up) and it tastes delicious with ice cream.  And with candied ginger.  Ooh and with caramel sauce.  And just a teeny bit of salt. 

Or you can do what that big whoop Gramercy Tavern does and serve it straight up with freshly whipped cream.

Regardless, it's perfect after turkey and trimmings.  And also after chicken korma.  See, we all win.

Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread
Adapted From The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern

Print Recipe

1 cup Guinness Stout
1 cup dark molasses
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter bundt pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Bring beer and molasses to a boil in a saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk in baking soda (it will foam like crazy, keep whisking), then cool to room temperature.

Sift together flour, baking powder and spices in a large bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend eggs and sugars until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in oil, then molasses & beer mixture.

With mixer on low, add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Pour batter into bundt pan and bang pan sharply on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs adhering, about 50 minutes.

Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

Store covered for up to 3 days at room temperature

Friday
Nov192010

Almond Orange Cranberry Bark

We prolly shouldn't admit this, but this year's Blue-Eyed Thanksgiving will be taking place in New York City and will involve not turkey and stuffing, but rather Chicken Korma and Naan bread.

That's right. We're having an Indian Thanksgiving. 

Yes, we just said that.

We know, we know. It's a little out-of-the-ordinary. But it actually makes a lot of sense. What else would you expect British ex-pats to eat on a patriotic American holiday?

You were thinking Indian food, right? Totally!

Plus, if we're honest, of all foods (other than pizza and cheeseburgers) we're most thankful for Indian food, so it's kind of perfect. Who really likes turkey anyway? Not these bakers.

What we are obviously not willing to give up on this day of thanks is dessert. Duh.

But, we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves. You kiddies will just have to sit patiently until next week to see what the Blue-Eyed family will be tasting after their Tikka Masala.

For now, we're making delicious and EASY Almond Orange Cranberry Bark to take as a thank you gift to our fabulous Indian Thanksgiving hostess with the most-est. 

It is the day to give thanks after all.

Almond Orange Cranberry Bark

Print Recipe

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (we like Valrhona), finely chopped
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 cup almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup candied orange peel, minced
1/2 cup dried cranberries 
12 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped

Place a piece of paper on a large baking sheet. Cover the surface of the baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using the microwave tempering method, melt the semi-sweet chocolate and oil in a glass bowl in the microwave. Microwave the chocolate for 30 seconds at a time, stirring with a rubber spatula in between, until the chocolate is just melted. Quickly add in the bittersweet chocolate and stir until smooth and glossy. 

Using the rubber spatula, spread the chocolate onto the baking sheet in the shape of the piece of paper underneath. Sprinkle half of each of the almonds, candied orange peel and cranberries onto the chocolate. Allow to cool completely. You can place it in the fridge if you would like.

Next, melt 8 ounces of the white chocolate in the microwave using the same method as before. When the white chocolate is just melted, add in the remaining 4 ounces of white chocolate and stir until completely melted. 

Pour the white chocolate over the cooled dark chocolate and evenly spread to cover the entire surface. The white chocolate cools and hardens faster than the darker chocolate so work quickly to sprinkle the remaining almonds, orange peel and cranberries over the white chocolate. 

Allow to cool further and when solid, using a knife, cut into large pieces and enjoy!