Sunday, March 31, 2013

daring bakers: hidden veggies

Using veggies in sweet applications is something I've done before, but only with the very obvious carrot, pumpkin, zucchini and rhubarb (if it counts as a vegetable).

Ruth from Makey-Cakey was our March 2013 Daring Bakers’ challenge host. She encouraged us all to get experimental in the kitchen and sneak some hidden veggies into our baking, with surprising and delicious results!

So I quickly went to the kitchen and grabbed a sweet potato I had been meaning to roast, and microwaved it to make muffins with pecans and flavored with maple syrup.

Maple Sweet Potato Muffins
recipe slightly adapted from : Ontario Sweet Potato

1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
Dash salt
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
¾ cup salad oil
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup chopped toasted pecans

1. In large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add eggs, oil and maple syrup; blend well. Stir in pecans and currants.

2. Spoon evenly into greased muffin cups, filling each ¾ full. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes or until muffins spring back when lightly touched. Remove muffins from pan and serve warm. Makes 1 ½ dozen muffins.

I thought they were really good, especially the top of the muffins where I had sprinkled some maple sugar! They were pretty greasy though, so I would add some applesauce next time so I can reduce the amount of oil.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

maple bacon marshmallows

I was brainstorming maple recipes this week for someone else when I came across this picture. Marshmallows had been on my to-do list for a while but they got bumped to the top of it when I saw the maple bacon combo. This time of year, you just can't escape maple everything, so might as well embrace it.

I love bacon and maple syrup together. I love maple syrup even more when there is bacon involved. So these totally made sense to me.

These taste exactly how you'd think. Strong maple flavor, and salty bacon. In a pillowy soft marshmallow. I love salty sweets, so this was a huge hit for me. Not sure we like the textural contrast between the marshmallow and the bacon. You just don't expect chewy bits in your candy. Didn't stop me from eating way more of these than I should.

Maple Bacon Marhmallows
recipe source: Marshmallow Madness by Shauna Sever via Epicurious

4 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1/2 cup cold water

2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup Grade A dark or Grade B maple syrup
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) finely chopped candied bacon*
1/2 cup 3 parts powdered sugar to 2 parts cornstarch, plus more for dusting

Lightly coat an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Whisk together the gelatin and cold water in a small bowl. Let it soften for 5 minutes.

Stir together the sugar, maple syrup, corn syrup, water, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring it to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, until it hits 240°F. Be prepared to lower the heat as needed—this syrup likes to bubble up. Microwave the gelatin on high until completely melted, about 30 seconds. Pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Set the mixer to low and keep it running.

When the syrup reaches 240°F, slowly pour it into the mixer bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. Increase to medium-high and beat for 3 more minutes. Add the cinnamon, increase to the highest speed, and beat for 1 minute more. Quickly fold in the bacon bits. Pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan. Sift coating over top. Let it set for 6 hours in a cool, dry place. Use a knife to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan. Invert the slab onto a work surface. Cut it into pieces and dust them with more coating.

*To make candied bacon, lay 6 or 7 bacon slices on a wire rack set over a sheet pan lined with foil. Combine 1/4 cup light brown sugar with 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Rub over both sides of bacon. Bake at 350°F until deeply caramelized, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool before chopping into bits.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

honey banana poppy seed bread

C'est inĂ©vitable. When I buy bananas just because, they stay on the counter and get too soft to eat out of hand and of course, at that point, I'm too lazy to bake with them. And when I buy bananas *specifically* for baking, they disappear right before my eyes.

I still managed to make this week's Baked Sunday Mornings recipe for Honey Banana Poppy Seed Bread by going back to the store for more bananas. And just in case, I also bought a packet of poppy seeds, then discovered I had an opened one with barely a tablespoon out of it at home. It's not an ingredient I use very often, in fact, the only time I can recall eating poppy seeds is on an everything bagel. But I enjoyed the slight crunch they imparted to this banana bread.

I wasn't feeling all that great when I made this recipe, so I might have forgotten an ingredient, but this banana bread seemed off to me. The batter seemed thin. My usual recipe rises way more than this one did. And looks more rustic. Once I cut into the loaf, I was surprised to see how dark it was inside. I made sure to bake it completely, but I don't think I over-baked it.

I really enjoy banana bread, but unfortunately, not this recipe. It just tasted too... toasty to me. But the rest of the fam seemed to like it, so posting it anyway. For the recipe, click on through to the Baked Sunday Mornings Blog and see how the other bakers enjoyed this one!