Mmmm….Chocolate Caramel Walnut Bars

Not surprisingly, I don’t have a lot of processed food in the house. I generally make things from scratch. And this week I was really craving something sweet and there was not a cookie or candy bar in sight.  Luckily, I keep a LOT of ingredients in the house. There are always chocolate chips, nuts and raw coconut flakes in the cupboard/refrigerator.

I didn’t have the time to make cookies, so these bars were born.

Dark Chocolate-Caramel-Walnut Bars

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp dash of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 8 oz 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chips
  • 1/2 cups walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 4 oz of caramel chips
  • shredded or flaked coconut (I use raw, unsweetened)

8×8 baking dish, bowl

Beat butter and sugar until well incorporated. Then add egg and beat until fluffy. Add baking soda, salt, vanilla and flour.

Lightly grease bottom of the baking dish. Add batter and spread evenly.

Bake at 350 degrees (F) for 15 minutes. Remove and add chopped walnuts, caramel chips and then chocolate chips on top.

Return to oven for 5 minutes. Remove and use an offset spatula to spread melted chips over the top of the bars. Sprinkle with coconut flakes.

Let cool completely before cutting into bars.


I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe – but there is a good reason for that – I’ve been doing recipe blogging for TEN (!!) years. I’ve just run out of ideas, LOL. I do use my blog as my own personal cookbook, so it will always exist.

But if you guys don’t mind reruns, I’m happy to post recipes again – just realize they are going to be from my “archives” and only the occasional fresh, new items. I do test out new ideas, I’ve just lost a lot of enthusiasm for documenting it.

Otherwise, here’s an open thread.








A Late Evening Snack: Mother’s Day Baking

I did some baking for the family’s Mother’s Day brunch. My brother specifically requested a key lime pie. I also made a Torta de Santiago. Torta de Santiago, sometimes Tarta de Santiago, is a regional dessert from Gailicia, Spain (torta is Galician, while tarta is Spanish) and was created in the Middle Ages for pilgrims. Which helps to explain its name: Saint James’ cake. It is an almond flour cake and there are several variations. Because I don’t eat refined carbohydrates in any significant quantities, I went with an almond flour cake recipe that is only sweetened with honey, not refined sugar. And yes, I know that honey is still a refined carbohydrate. I also know it doesn’t mess up my system the way refined sugar does. Torta de Santiago get lemon zest, but I decided to go with orange zest. And I didn’t add brandy or any of the other alcohol that can be found in some torta de Santiago recipes. The recipe I used can be found here. The only addition I made is the orange zest. It is very easy to make. One other note: torta de Santiago are traditionally finished with powder sugar that is applied over a stylized cross stencil. I went with fresh blueberries instead. Here’s another picture.

One other important note: the first time I made this cake I used a spring form pan. It came out with nice even sides and a nice even top. This time I just used a silicone cake pan and, as you can see, the sides are slightly rounded and the top is not even. I have learned my lesson.

On to the key lime pie!

The key lime pie is the same recipe that I posted here back in February 2016.

Key Lime Pie

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup granulated sugar

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick butter) melted

2 (14-ounce) cans condensed milk

1 cup key lime or regular lime juice*

2 whole eggs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter with your hands. Press the mixture firmly into a 9-inch pie pan, and bake until brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before filling.

Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

In a separate bowl, combine the condensed milk, lime juice, and eggs. Whisk until well blended and place the filling in the cooled pie shell. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes and allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Garnish with whipped cream, and slices of key lime or key lime peel.

I use the Nellie and Joe’s Key Lime Juice.

Open thread!








A Sunday Night Recipe: Tahini Walnut Rolls

I’m taking a hiatus from politics for a while. Here’s a recipe I played with this week. Love the people in my life who look forward to me experimenting with new recipes and are willing taste-testers.

I have a bunch of Food in Fiction recipes on the cooking blog, I love finding or recreating recipes in novels I’ve read. One of my very favorites was the Lane Cake from To Kill A Mockingbird.  So when I started writing, I wanted to include foods in my books that match recipes on my blog.

In my newest endeavor, I have included a little Turkish Cafe as a part of the local color and I wanted to try out a few pastry recipes to use in the book. This was one of the simpler (and not deep fried) that I decided to give a try.

This is not the definitive recipe – if you Google Tahini Rolls you’ll find dozens of variations. Everyone’s grandma must make her own version. This one seemed the easiest to replicate.

These are much different than I expected. Light, crisp, flaky and not too sweet, they go great with coffee.  I really liked them.  This recipe makes about 2 dozen:

Tahini Walnut Rolls

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 pkg instant dry yeast
  •  4 cups flour (480 g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup tahini paste
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbs roasted sesame
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds to sprinkle over buns

Warm milk, butter, oil and sugar to 90 degrees (F). Add packet of yeast and mix gently.

Mix together flour and salt and add, 1 cup at a time, to the milk mixture. Blend thoroughly and mix until it forms a soft ball. Knead gently for 2 minutes.

Remove to a lightly oiled bowl and let rise until doubled.

Meanwhile, mix tahini and sugar together until smooth. Chop walnuts.

Divide dough into two balls. Roll one of the balls out until very thin (but not thin enough to tear).

Spread ½ of the tahini mixture over the rolled dough. Sprinkle half the walnuts and 1 tbsp of sesame seeds over the dough. Roll up into a jelly roll.  Slice into one inch thick pieces. Lay flat onto a baking sheet. Gently flatten.

Repeat with second ball of dough.

Mix egg yolk with a bit of water and brush over rolls. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

===============================

Open thread.








A Late Evening Snack: Flourless, Sugarless Chocolate Cake!

My mother found a recipe for a chocolate cake made without flour or sugar in some magazine and brought it to me and asked me to make it. This was for two reasons. The first is she wanted to try it. The second is that she knows that my system does not react well to flour, sugar, or other refined carbohydrates. So today I  took out the emergency tiara, the matching apron and oven mitts, and the wand and conducted an experiment with a little long distance collaboration with TaMara. Specifically, I don’t have a large food processor. I just don’t have use for one. And the recipe, as you’ll see below, calls for mixing everything together in a large food processor. After a couple of emails back and forth, I went with her recommendation to just use my stand mixer with the whisk attachment.

Before I provide the recipe, this one has some interesting items in it. Specifically avocados. The cake batter gets three and the frosting gets two of them. Instead of cake flour or all purpose flour, it gets almond flour. And instead of sugar, this cake gets honey as the sweetener. I also added a bit of vanilla to the frosting even though the recipe doesn’t call for it, as well as adding an additional 1/4 cup of honey to the frosting as I thought it needed a bit more sweetness.

The cake is very rich. And it’s chocolateness is very rich. The texture is amazing, it is silky smooth. The flavor is a very deep chocolate with just a hint of sweetness. If you’re a dark chocolate fan, especially the dark chocolate that isn’t very sweet, then this cake is for you.

Here’s the recipe:

Cake

3 avocados mashed (this is 1 and 1/4 cups)
4 eggs
1 cup honey
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup almond flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Blend all ingredients in a food processor or standing mixer using the whisk attachment until smooth. Divide the batter into two 9 inch cooking spray coated cake pans for 20 to 25 minutes until done. Cool completely before frosting.

Frosting

2 fresh avocados mashed (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup honey (I used 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons coconut oil (I used grapeseed oil as I don’t have any coconut oil)

Blend all ingredients in a standing mixer using the whisk attachment until smooth. Chill at least 30 minutes before spreading on cake. Makes 6-8 serving.

When I assembled the cake I used a good quality orange marmalade in between the layers and to crumb coat the top of the cake. The next time I make this I think I’m going to make an amaretto* flavored whipped cream for between the layers and to crumb coat the top. I’ll garnish a slice of the cake with that same whipped cream.

Here’s some pictures.

(Ready to be crumb coated and frosted)

 

(Crumb coated in orange marmalade and ready for frosting)

(Crumb coated in orange marmalade and ready for frosting)

(Frosted and ready to serve)

Bon apetit!

We are off the strainer and through the cutting board…

Open thread!

* You can use the liqueur of your choice: amaretto, Bailey’s, kahluah, whatever you prefer. Or you could just flavor the whipped cream with almond extract. Or orange extract. Or lemon extract. All of those would pair very well with this cake.








Saturday Night Recipe Thread: Holiday Treats

From my recipe blog:

I was doing some recipe searching for a project I’ll post about later and sesame seeds were heavily featured. That put me in mind of Sesame Brittle. I thought it might be nice to have it to crumble over ice cream on the Sundae Bar on Christmas Eve.

Such a simple recipe. No candy thermometer needed. I always use oiled wax paper, but I’m wondering if oiled parchment would work better. The heat of candy on the wax paper melts it in places. Difficult to peel off.

Sesame Brittle

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • salt

saucepan, wax paper (or parchment) and baking sheet

In the saucepan over high heat, melt butter and sugar and stir to combine. Without stirring, cook until mixture becomes a light to medium caramel color, about 3-5 minutes, then add sesame seeds and stir in.

Pour mixture onto a well-oiled wax paper or well-oiled parchment paper covered baking sheet and spread into an even, thin layer, about 1/8 to 1 /4-inch thick, with a wooden spoon. The shape will be irregular but don’t worry, you are just going to break it into pieces after it cools anyway.

Immediately shake a bit of salt over top of mixture and lightly press into caramel using the spoon. I used less than a 1/4 tsp for the entire mixture and that was plenty, though your mileage may vary. Allow to set-up for about 10-15 minutes.

When brittle has hardened and cooled, break into pieces and enjoy. Store in an air-tight container. And then hide or it won’t make it to the party.


Top: Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies, Spritz Cookies, Russian Tea Cakes (Pecan Cookies)

We skipped the annual cookie baking party – but the recipes for the cookies pictured above and below are here.

Fruit-filled shortbread

BTW, for those who were waiting breathlessly on what movie we chose for this year’s party – the winner is: Speed. A feel-good Christmas tale of two star-crossed lovers racing to fix Santa’s sleigh before the big night and realizing, as Santa takes off with his eight tiny reindeer, they were meant to be and share a first kiss as the credits roll. (I may or may not have watched one too many Hallmark Holiday movies this week)

Open thread

(Has Betty Cracker done her annual drunken auntie cookie bakeoff?)