Posts tagged spice
Posts tagged spice
These are strange and tasty little muffins. An adult sort of taste, but we’ll test that theory in the morning when Nathaniel wakes up. My original plan was to make something for the kids to eat while I’m away over the next few days, but I think I’ll have to whip something else together in the morning that’s a little more kid-friendly.
The recipe suggested using almond milk and apple cider vinegar to create buttermilk, but since I already had more than enough buttermilk on hand, I skipped that step and went right to the dry ingredients.
I whisked whole wheat white flour together with baking soda, baking powder, salt, cornstarch, and the spices: cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. I used a little less cardamom and a little more cinnamon than suggested, maybe an eight of the teaspoon (less than more) of each.
The next step was to beat together turbinado sugar — an unusual choice as I normally use turbinado for sprinkling on top of things — and applesauce, but I decided to use yogurt (low fat vanilla) instead of applesauce. They mixed together nicely.
Then it was time for the star attraction in this recipe, the vanilla bean. I picked up some really nice plump ones a couple of weekends ago. I’ve reached a new point as a baker when a recipe calls for vanilla bean and I don’t have to go out to get one.
I like that it looks as if the plate has a mustache. I should have added little eyes and a mouth.
I sliced the bean open and scraped out the insides.
I was supposed to beat that into the sugar/yogurt mixture, but it was challenging. I felt like it was still clumping. So I threw in an extra quarter teaspoon of vanilla extract, and whipped it all together as best as I could. You can still see the brown speckle of the bean, though.
Now it was time to put everything together. The directions were specific about this: add the flour mixture, then add the buttermilk, then finish off with the flour mixture. I may have alternated a little more than that in the heat of the mixing moment.
I tasted it. Good stuff. The spices were strong but so was the vanilla and the sugar. I admit, I tasted it more than once. Good sign.
I spooned it into muffin cups, distributing as evenly as I could. There wasn’t enough batter to fill them all that high, and the photos in the recipe indicated that I shouldn’t expect these muffins to puff up at all. Flat tops would prevail.
I baked for about 23 minutes, I think. I originally set the timer for 18 but had to keep things going a while longer. They came out very flat indeed, but smelled lovely.
This should give you a sense of just how flat they were.
Flat! About as flat as a muffin can be.
I let them sit in the pan for another ten minutes, then moved them to a wire rack.
After a while, I ate one. (Not that much of a while.) I had a very hard time getting the paper off, but by morning, they stuck no more. And the flavor? Wonderful. A complex, layered flavor, the chai and vanilla. The chai is what lingers on your tongue afterwards, but the vanilla brings sweetness and smoothness to it. For the Weight Watchers crowd, each muffin is only 3P+.
Nathaniel just grabbed one out of the photo I was setting up (after asking nicely), took a bite, and pronounced it delicious.
CHAI SPICED VANILLA BEAN MUFFINS RECIPE (original)
My version of Chai Spiced Vanilla Bean Muffins (adapted from Ari’s Menu)
1 1/3 cups whole wheat white flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 - 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
1 vanilla bean
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
Heat oven to 375. You’ll reduce the temperature later. Line or grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch, salt, and all of the spices. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the yogurt and sugar and beat well. Scrape out the inside of the vanilla bean and beat in as well as you can, along with the vanilla extract.
Stir in half the flour mixture, then the buttermilk, and then the last of the flour, mixing only enough to incorporate. Pour into muffin cups.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 and bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Leave them in the tins for another 10 minutes, then move to a wire rack. They will be flat on top, but delicious.
There were so many alluring aspects to this recipe that I just had to give it a try. I’d been to yoga, Juliet & I had already gotten haircuts, the rain was steady, and all signs pointed to cookies. We already love snickerdoodles around here (except for that first time I tried to make some a few years ago, when something went terribly wrong with the flavor and they had a disturbing aftertaste), and the idea of adding chai spices was intriguing. Then I saw they contained apple butter instead of regular, and my preferred flour (whole wheat white), and my mind was made up, despite the Meyer lemons and blood oranges in the fridge awaiting their moment in the spotlight. Chai. Spiced. Snickerdoodles. It was like a siren song.
I hereby present the ingredients.
Maple syrup? Apple butter? Cardamon? What? After swapping cane sugar in for white, the only other substitution I made was regular milk for almond milk, since I’m not vegan. (I know some delightful vegans, but I personally would starve to death if I didn’t eat meat, fish, eggs, or dairy.)
Dry ingredients were first. Whole wheat white flour, baking soda, a dash of salt, and cinnamon. I was supposed to use half a teaspoon, but I heaped it a little.
I whisked that together, then got a second bowl out for the liquid ingredients. Apple butter was first, then sugar (not liquid, actually), maple syrup, and milk.
I mixed that well, then added the vanilla and mixed again.
It all melded together nicely, the sugar dissolved, the syrup relaxed. I poured in the dry ingredients.
And then there was batter.
I was almost ready for the next phase, but I needed to create the coating. In one of my favorite glass bowls, I whisked together cane sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and cardamom. I also spilled some cinnamon onto the counter. A little.
Then things got interesting. Perplexingly (at first), the directions said to “lightly spray hands with nonstick spray” as if that were a perfectly normal instruction. I may not have been at this for long, but I have never, ever been told to use spray on my own hands before.
I did it anyway.
Turned out it was absolutely necessary. The dough was sticky, but with the spray on my hands, I was able to roll it into one-inch balls and coat it with the sugar & spice mixture without much difficulty. I had to wash up and re-spray about halfway through each tray, It felt a little odd every time I reapplied the spray to my hands, but I went with it.
I baked them for about 12 minutes, I kept looking for brown around the edges but didn’t really find it, so I used my instincts and just did what felt right.
I let them cool on the tray for five minutes, then moved them to a wire rack.
These cookies fascinate me. They’re sort of like candy-cookies. They’re crisp, almost chewy-crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, sweet with just enough spice to be interesting but not too much to overpower. The kids like them too. Nathaniel was trying to guess what the spices were; he got ginger but wasn’t familiar with cardamom, so I filled in the blanks for him and now he knows a new spice. I got 40 out of the batch, by the way.
You know what’s also amazing about these? They are only ONE P+ on Weight Watchers. ONE. One!
CHAI SPICED SNICKERDOODLES RECIPE (original)
My version of Chai Spiced Snickerdoodles (adapted from Ari’s Menu)
2 cups whole wheat white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
dash of salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup apple butter
scant 3/4 cup cane sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons 1% milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
for the coating:
1/4 cup cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
Heat oven to 350 degrees, and grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
In a large bowl, beat the apple butter, sugar, maple syrup and milk until well mixed. Add the vanilla, and mix.
Add the dry ingredients to the liquid and mix until well combined.
Whisk (or use a fork to combine) the spices together for the coating in a wide, shallow bowl.
Lightly spray your hands with cooking spray, then roll the dough by hand into one-inch balls. Roll in the sugar mixture to coat thoroughly, then move to a baking sheet. Place the cookies far enough apart that they can spread a little.
Bake for 10-12 minutes (mine took 12) and then let them sit on the tray for an additional five minutes before moving to a wire rack.
Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treats for Jana’s birthday
Recipes like this are reason number twenty million for why I love the internet. I told Jana to pick a birthday treat, and she went to my Pinterest board and picked Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treats. So I read the comments under the recipe, and a lot of people were complaining that the squares fell apart because of the moisture created by the pumpkin. And then one person posted that she came up with a solution to get the moisture out of the pumpkin. I followed her link. I followed her advice. I will now follow her blog. And maybe follow her around.
First things first, I addressed the pumpkin issue.
I pressed the moisture out of the pumpkin. (Dave thinks this picture makes it look like a diaper. Ew!) I also tried squeezing it out, still holding it in the paper towel. It was gross but satisfying.
And, as described, I ended up with a piece of pumpkin you could hold in your hand. It was like a piece of play-doh.
Then I measured out as much of the other ingredients as I could. Rice Krispie squares are simple, but they’re all about timing, and melting. I measured out 6 cups of Rice Krispies.
(Yeah, there’s a ton of crap on the counter. It was a very hectic evening.)
I also measured out all the spices (except the vanilla): cinnamon (I used a ginormously heaping teaspoon), ginger (generous half teaspoon), cloves, salt, and then I threw in a little pumpkin pie spice as well.
Then I started the process of turning all of this into Jana’s birthday present. I melted the butter, and added the piece of pumpkin.
Now let’s talk about marshmallows. The recipe required one ten-ounce bag of mini marshmallows. I went to the grocery store to get them and the marshmallow shelf was full of Halloween candy. I inquired about marshmallow availability: what I saw was what they had. And what did they have? S’mores marshmallows. Flat square ones. In 8-ounce bags.
Eek! I bought the only two bags they had, effectively ruining the plans of anyone else in my neighborhood who might want to make Rice Krispie treats. Then I guestimated the additional two ounces from the second bag, and added them to the pan.
Once they were almost done melting, I added the vanilla and spices.
When it had all come together, I removed it from the heat, and let it cool just a little.
And then it was time to add the Rice Krispies.
After some concentrated stirring and pan-scraping, I ended up here:
And then here:
Then I used Paula Deen’s wonderful tip about how to flatten sticky items or graham cracker crusts: I sprayed the bottom of a measuring up with cooking spray and used that to push everything down.
Look at how good that is! Thanks to the tip about the pumpkin, everything turned out beautifully. This morning I cut off a little for the kids, and they BOTH loved it. Juliet even asked to bring some to school for snack. It’s got all the sweetness of a Rice Krispie square with this wonderful pumpkin spice flavor seeping through as you bite it and lingering after you’ve finished your bite. Lovely!
So hooray for the internet, full of mysterious new recipe ideas, people’s experiences making them, and experiments to improve them. Happy birthday Jana!
Apple Cider Spice Bread
Here’s another one I’ve been looking at for a while. I don’t like baked apples in things, but I do love apple cider and apple-pie-type spices, so how could I resist a recipe for Apple Cider Spice Bread? The only thing keeping me back was the full stick of butter required, so I cut that in half and used yogurt and got lovely results.
We went apple picking yesterday, and while we were there I picked up some fresh apple cider and some apple butter. Perfect timing.
It’s not very attractive while it’s glopping into the bowl, but it’s not there for esthetics. I added it to 2 eggs, half a cup of packed brown sugar. molasses, yogurt, and apple cider.
The last thing to go in was the melted butter. The recipe called for half a cup, so I halved that and used 1/8 of a cup of vanilla yogurt for the rest. I tried to space those two ingredients out as much as possible because hot butter and cold yogurt = disgusting lumpy scary something.
Fortunately, the butter had had a chance to cool, so it didn’t really curdle or do anything to scare me away from it. I whisked that all together, set it aside, and pulled together the dry ingredients in another bowl. This included whole wheat white flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. As always, I increased the spices, putting in 2 heaping teaspoons of cinnamon, one teaspoon of ginger, a little more than a quarter teaspoon of cardamom, and almost half a teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg. Next time I’ll throw in the apple pie spice too!
I whisked that together, then added it incrementally to the other bowl, stirring (but not overmixing) as I went.
I poured that into a loaf pan, and put it into the oven, already heated to 350 degrees.
Now the directions said to bake it for an hour, but the picture in the recipe showed the batter in a glass pan, and I thought that might have something to do with the cooking time. There’s some formula for switching types of pans and adjusting temperatures and cooking times, but I just set my timer for 30 minutes, no calculations involved. While it was baking, Juliet and I hung out. I read her new library books to her while she ate some barbecued Pop Chips.
At thirty minutes, the timer went off, and the bread was done. I let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes, and then removed it. Actually, that’s sort of a lie. I set the timer for fifteen minutes, then hopped in the car and went to Target to buy some socks, and Dave took it out of the pan when it was time. Then I came home and photographed it.
Texture is perfect. A lovely, soft crumb, just ideal. Flavor is there, but could have definitely benefited from more spices. Tomorrow it may be more flavorful, as often happens with pumpkin-based breads, so I’ll update then. I like the flavor, it’s warm and comforting, but I think I can do even more with it just by adding apple pie spice and/or increasing everything else. It’s still a lovely creation.
APPLE CIDER SPICE BREAD RECIPE (original)
My version of Apple Cider Spice Bread (adapted from Sugar Crafter)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/8 cup low fat vanilla yogurt (plain would be fine too)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp molasses
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 cup apple butter
2 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 heaping tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cardamom plus a little more
1/2 tsp nutmeg
sprinkle of apple pie spice, if you have it
Heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, yogurt, eggs, brown sugar, molasses, apple cider, and apple butter.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.
Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing just until combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 30 minutes. If you have a glass loaf pan, it may take up to twice as long to bake, so start checking at 30 and keep an eye on it. When a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, you are done!
Let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove to a wire rack and let it cool completely.
Espresso Spice Pumpkin Muffins
Something’s just OFF with me today, so I am surprised these muffins turned out so well. Honestly, I was knocking things over the whole time I was making these, spilling things too, and I swear that every time I opened the fridge, things just leapt out at me. I dropped my iPhone three times today. Before I even left the house this morning, I was convinced I had my contact lenses in the wrong eyes (as in left in right and right in left, not someone else’s eyes), and with 2 minutes to go before I had to leave I was switching them, then realizing I was wrong, switching them back, and then discovering I’d smeared mascara all over my face.
It’s been THAT kind of a day.
It’s no wonder I thought I was pushing my luck to bake tonight, but these urges cannot always be stifled. Nor should they, I suppose.
I had some pumpkin to use up, and just to continue the day’s “off”-ness, I ended up having to open a new can anyway, and now that one’s in the fridge waiting for yet another recipe. Oops.
Oh yeah, and I took a picture of the ingredients for this one and had to re-do it three times because I kept leaving something out. By the time I got everything in, a bottle of barbecue sauce poked its way into the picture, despite the fact that there is, I promise, no barbecue sauce used in this recipe whatsoever. But there it is, lurking suspiciously behind the eggs and the muffin tray.
I guess it just wanted to be part of the action. But to me, it was just another thing demonstrating that my attention to detail was slipping fast.
With uncharacteristic boldness, I dove in anyway, despite the odd direction the day had already taken. I got the dry ingredients (whole wheat white flour, baking powder, and salt) whisked up good, then set the bowl aside.
In another bowl, I added the brown sugar to the eggs.
In went the pumpkin and the vanilla.
Okay, now here’s where I started improvising.
The recipe said to melt 6 tablespoons of butter in the microwave and stir in the spices (espresso powder, cinnamon, fresh nutmeg, and cloves), but I wanted to replace half the butter with yogurt. The formula for that is to replace half the butter with half as much yogurt, so I melted three tablespoons of butter, and then because I knew I’d be adding the cold yogurt to it, I let it cool a little before adding everything in. In retrospect, I could have added the spices while it was still freshly hot; I’ll definitely do that next time. (And I also didn’t use the microwave, I just melted it on the stove.)
Once the butter had slightly cooled, I added the spices and stirred. Can you tell I was in a bit of a state? Normally I put things away as I go but tonight I felt as if I was barely keeping up and everything just stayed where I left it as I jumped on to the next step.
Anyway, the spices blended nicely into the melted butter.
For the yogurt, I finally had occasion to use my 1/2 tablespoon measuring spoon. I swear I have never ever seen that specific measurement in a recipe, ever, but I do have a spoon for it. I added 1 1/2 tablespoons of plain yogurt (low fat) and stirred, then put the whole mixture into the egg & sugar bowl.
The recipe got very specific after that. I added half the flour mixture, then put in the milk, then added the rest and stirred just until the last traces of flour disappeared.
Next I combined white sugar, espresso powder, pumpkin pie spice, and a little bit of cinnamon and sprinkled that generously over the muffins.
They looked pretty good when they came out of the oven, although they took much longer to bake than most of the other muffins I make. It was almost 25 minutes, I think. They sure looked tasty.
And surprise, they ARE tasty. Really flavorful. The espresso, spices, sugar and pumpkin all come together so well! I was nervous because the smell of the espresso was so strong while I was baking that I checked the recipe multiple times to make sure I hadn’t put in too much. Even Dave, who is innately drawn to the smell of coffee, thought something was burning. But it wasn’t. It was just getting more delicious.
I think by tomorrow morning the texture will be perfect, most baked goods with pumpkin are best the day after baking. But tonight? Already a lovely treat, and well worth the spills, clangs, and confusion…maybe they’re even redemptive.