Hello Dolly! Squares
I’ve been making these squares since high school, long before I ever knew these layered bars are typically called Hello Dolly’s.
My good friend Jon celebrated his birthday this weekend, and he loves coconut. While I was mildly concerned they would be underwhelming compared to the epic coconut macaroon-stuffed brownie cupcakes with chocolate ganache which I made for him last year, he said he’d actually been craving Hello Dolly’s recently. Perfect!
It’s amazing how something so simple - graham cracker crumbs, coconut, chocolate chips, walnuts, and condensed milk - can always be an unequivocal hit. That condensed milk is deadly addictive!
Super Cinnamon Swirl Cake (vegan)
I liked the cinnamon cupcakes I made last weekend so much that I decided to repurpose the recipe (x 1.5) as a cake to bring to work for Valentine’s Day.
I was still pursuing the perfect cinnamon-heart flavour, so this time, I added ~1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper to the icing for a bit of an extra kick. Even before 10am, a few coworkers already went for seconds. I think this means the cake was a hit!
Super Cinnamon Cupcakes (Vegan)
For my friends’ latest potluck on Sunday, preceding Valentine’s Day, I had the simple idea of a dessert that tasted like cinnamon hearts, without actually using cinnamon hearts.
I wanted to make them vegan, so I used this Post-Punk Kitchen recipe as a starting point, omitting the vanilla bean but adding a teaspoon of cinnamon. I then borrowed the “cinnamon swirl” technique from this (non-vegan) cupcake recipe. Finally, I made a “buttercream” icing with a half-stick of Earth Balance margarine, 2 tsp of cinnamon, 3 cups of sifted icing sugar, 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract, and 2-3 tsp of almond milk.
Of course, I was in a rush to ice the cupcakes before heading out to dinner, but no one really minded the sloppy icing.
Though I’m sure they were adequately cinnamon-flavoured, I think they could’ve even been morecinnamon-y, for a really extra-intense flavour. I might experiment with cinnamon extract in future.
Listening Notes: Arcade Fire’s Reflektor. As I baked, I sang “super cinnamon” to the tune of “Supersymmetry,” in honour of these cupcakes, because, well, I’m ridiculous.
Cornbread with chili
I was craving some easy & warm comfort food tonight, so I made a big pot of chili, with some cornbread.
I used this Martha Stewart cornbread recipe (with a bit of honey, because I like a slightly sweet cornbread). It didn’t offer the light, fluffy texture I sought, so I probably won’t use it again.
However, Smitten Kitchen’s chili recipe was wonderful. I’d never tried cocoa powder in chili, though I guess it’s a bit like mole. Cocoa in chili from now on!
Spent Grain Pear-Apple Crisp with Salted Caramel Sauce
Maybe it’s winter hibernation, maybe it’s my efforts to be a “better introvert” (more solo downtime, etc.), but Sundays have become a big cooking and baking day for me lately.
I didn’t plan for today to be an epic day in the kitchen, though I did plan to make spent grain bread with leftover grain from yesterday’s brewing session.
Once I’d gotten that dough started, it was a slippery slope to spent grain banana blueberry muffins and spent grain granola bars. Plus, I made a yummy dinner of ginger miso eggplant noodles (strong recommend for this recipe!).
Good thing that a) I had a good run today, b) some of the food is for sharing, and c) some of the rest will go in the freezer for delayed enjoyment. But still… this was a lot of food!
Somehow, this pear-apple crisp (inspired by, but not really following this recipe) was both the simplest and most delicious. This dessert had a wonderful balance of textures and flavours. The partially dried grain adds some crunch, and to compensate for sugar in the salted caramel sauce, I made sure that crisp itself isn’t too sweet. I can’t wait to enjoy it again (perhaps without the caramel sauce) for breakfast tomorrow!
Listening notes: LCD Soundsystem’s Shut Up and Play The Hits
Spent Grain Bread
As mentioned in earlier posts today, I had a whole lot of spent grain left over from brewing yesterday.
I’ve made spent grain bread a couple of times, but haven’t settled on the perfect recipe. As for today - well, I can’t quite seem to find the browser tab containing the recipe I used among the dozen or so tabs I had open earlier. But they were all largely similar, and I remember more or less what my bread contains:
- 2.5 tsp yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp oil
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole-wheat flour
- 2 tsp salt (which I almost forgot, and then had to knead in. Oops.)
- 2 cups spent grain
Pretty standard bread procedures - proofed the yeast, mixed everything together with the dough hook on my stand mixer, let rise in a covered bowl for ~1.5 hrs, shaped it & let rise again… etc. I love the quasi-imprecision of bread rises - it’s nearly always a directive of “…or until the bread doubles in size.” I baked this for 20 min at 425, then 8 min at 350. While it looked pretty dark on the outside, it was still very moist inside.
This is the best of the spent grain breads I’ve made so far!
Spent Grain Granola Bars
The granola I made a couple of weeks ago was so good, but I kept snacking on it outside of breakfast time. I figured I’d make a more portable version, in the form of granola bars.
I didn’t use a recipe, just mixed up everything in a bowl, and put it in a pan for ~25 min at 350. Here’s what’s in them:
- Spent grain - about 2 or 3 cups (since I didn’t have any oatmeal like I’d planned to include!)
- Crunchy peanut butter
- Cranberries (dried)
- Whole wheat flour (~ 1/3 cup)
- Coconut oil
- 2 bananas
I’m freezing most of these for now - I think they’ll be a great snack to defrost and bring with me as a snack. Pretty tasty, considering the ad hoc nature of how I made them.
Listening notes: The Replacements’ Tim
Spent Grain Banana Blueberry Muffins
The name of the game today is “How many ways can I bake with spent grain in one day?” Yesterday was again a brewing (and bottling!) day, and I saved a few pounds of leftover grain from the stout my friend and I made.
I’ve currently got bread dough rising, and some “granola bars” in the oven, but these muffins were first out of the gate (by which I mean into my tummy) as breakfast.
I used this spent grain banana bread recipe, more or less. I added frozen blueberries and a bit of whole wheat flour; I may have overcompensated for the moisture of the grain and the banana, as they’re not as moist as they could be. I think they’d benefit from a third banana. All the same, they’re a pretty hearty & tasty breakfast muffin!
*Note: I used wet grains, but following a recommendation I saw on another blog, I put them in the food processor to grind them up a bit.
Listening notes: The Unicorns’ Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone
Salted Caramel Brownies
My coworkers will soon find out that they’re getting salted caramel brownies. The combination of brownie batter and caramel sauce was so sweet that they might also be getting diabetes.
For all that I keep telling my colleagues how much I like to bake, they haven’t had much opportunity to experience the results first hand. Really hoping this recipe goes over well. :)
Sweet/salty combinations are completely irresistible, and I continue to foist my preference on others at regular intervals. So far, there haven’t really been any complaints.
No-Knead Bread with maple-bourbon pulled pork
My Dad was the inspiration for this loaf of bread. When he was in his twenties, he used to bake bread to bring to friends’ homes for dinner - everyone was always delighted to receive a still-warm loaf. He’s recently resumed breadmaking, and was telling about the no-knead recipes he has been using - a technique I’d never tried.
The recipe I used required shockingly little yeast - only half a teaspoon, compared to the usual ~2.5 teaspoons - and I initially doubted whether it would rise. A day of the dough sitting in a bowl, then a few more hours to rise after being shaped, proved me wrong. The final result was excellent - a hearty crust, but soft and textured inside.
Sunday has really become my big weekly cooking day, whether or not I have company. I paired the bread with maple bourbon pulled pork for dinner. I upped the quantity of maple syrup, and augmented the bourbon with some Sortilege. In spite of this, it wasn’t a very strong maple or bourbon flavour, though it was tasty and sweet, and very delicious as a sandwich!