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Ultimate Fudge Brownies (pt 1)

I want to introduce you to my ultimate fudge brownie recipe…

Soon. (Don’t hate me! I can explain.)

Tonight I’ve done it with a twist.

I’m always experimenting with ways to simplify life without robbing myself of the rich rewards of a worthwhile labor. It’s not that brownies are labor intensive by any standard, but when you’ve got many little ones who pull your attention in multiple directions, it is best to plan ahead in order to keep your domestic crown perfectly in place no matter when or how you are needed.

Tomorrow is the night I will actually need to bake the brownies, because my daughter wants to bring them to school on Thursday morning; but I wanted to get the mess out of the way so we had little to worry about tomorrow. Because of that, I’m experimenting tonight: dry brownie mix two ways…

Dry mix #1 has an exciting (to me) ingredient in it: powdered butter. Now, don’t turn your nose up at it just yet. Let’s look at the benefits. For starters, if you buy a box brownie mix at the grocery store, it will ask for crap oil which, in my opinion, has no place in a GOOD brownie. (Just don’t lower yourself to that standard, I beg you.) Second, this has enabled me to create a nearly fool proof solution to the lofty goal of buttery, chocolatey brownie instant gratification. Just add eggs, water, and mix. Similar to the box crap on grocery store shelves, no? (No! Better!)

Yes, this is entirely the reason for making the dry mix two ways tonight. Tomorrow night I want to do a side-by-side comparison and decide for myself if this is as good as the product claims. If it is, which is what I hope, then can you imagine how many batches of delicious brownie mix I will be making?! Ahem… purely for simplifying my life as needed, of course. No midnight episodes of chocoholic instant gratification here! (Hah. Believe what you want. I confess, you’re most likely half right.)

So… that leads me to Dry Mix #2. It will contain the regular amount of melted butter as usual. I have no doubt that these will be as decadent and sinful as usual. It’s a wonder I haven’t gone down the dry mix road before now, isn’t it? I cannot wait to report back to you how it goes. Who knows what other avenues it will enable us to explore in the near future?

Stay tuned for an update in the coming days.

Breads · Brunch

The 12 Days of Christmas Bake Along, Day 6: Nuns Puffs

Want to feel like a bad*** in your kitchen?  Do you sometimes have visitors who will be coming for tea in less than an hour and you didnt have time to prepare something?  Wish you could whip up something special at the drop of a hat?

Memorize this:  “Half a cup, one cup, three-quarters cup, four.”

“1/2c, 1c, 3/4c, 4.”  (Say it again about 5 more times in your head.  It’s SO worth committing to memory.)

It’s that simple.  What is it, you may ask?  Pâte à choux!  You know, the fabulous balls of buttery pastry which are used for croquembouche (cream puff towers) and éclairs.  (Pâte= paste/pastry, Choux= cabbages/rosettes.  This is why you will always see the batter piped into small rosettes before baking for cream puffs.)  However, I am not going to make either of those with it today.  Éclairs and cream puffs usually use pâte à choux as a vehicle for fancy fillings.  Today I am going to let it shine on its own.

20171218_1143131992266626.jpgAs Nuns Puffs have gained popularity recently, even taking on different shapes, stories of origin, and even cooking methods, this is the original way I learned, and by far the simplest method to cook them.

All you need in addition to the ingredients is a heavy pan (I use a ceramic coated cast iron pot), a high quality wooden spoon, a muffin tin, and your muscles.  Now, you already know the sequence.  Lets add ingredients to it.

1/2c butter

1c milk

3/4c flour

4 large eggs

This makes one dozen puffs.  I always have to double it for my family (which is what I have done in the pictures, but not in the written recipe).  Oh, and before I forget, I want to share with you something wonderful: this recipe works wonderfully with 1:1GF flours.

Liberally grease (or butter) one 12 cup muffin tin.  Preheat your oven to 375.

Melt butter until it is lightly golden browned and starts to smell nutty.  Add milk and bring to a simmer.  I like to just barely scald it.

20171218_105220875735176.jpg(I adore the look of those foamy bubbles on the edges of the milk as it begins to scald.)

Turn down the heat to its lowest setting.  Dump in the flour and stir vigorously until it forms a semi-tight ball.

20171218_1056371934934236.jpg Just about there!  Now, let it rest for 5 minutes.

Then add your eggs, one at a time.  Mix it thoroughly until fully incorporated before adding each additional egg.  (Sorry!  I got distracted by my newborn and forgot to take a picture of what it looks like after all the eggs are incorporated.)  Now spoon equal amounts into your muffin tins and bake for 25-30 minutes, until theyre golden brown and pull away from the edges of your tin.

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I like to serve them with raw honey and a light dusting of ground cinnamon.  For less than 15 minutes of prep time, this is a pleasing presentation for your family on Christmas morning, or any time at all.  Happy baking!

Special Occasions

12 Days of Christmas Bake Along, Day 3: Party Cheeseball

We are going to switch gears to a savory note today.  It just wouldnt be the holidays without this essential holiday staple. My aunt gave a variation of this recipe to my mother decades ago.  I think she received it from a friend before that.  My family has enjoyed this cheeseball during the holiday season every single year of my life, or pretty close to it.

I’ve tweaked the family recipe to my own family’s liking.  With notes of green onion, lemon juice, garlic, and more, you’ll find it has a wonderful balance between tangy and salty, smoothness and crunch.  I can’t imagine a Christmas or a New Years Eve without this gorgeous cheeseball in the party spread.  Serve it with a classic Ritz Crackers or Wheat Thins and you wont be disappointed.

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All of these measurements are for 2 good sized cheeseballs: one for Christmas and one for New Years Eve, although it is doubtful that the second one will last that long.  (We always end up making multiple batches of this throughout the month of December.  It makes wonderful gifts, too!)

Easy Party Cheeseball

2 8oz. boxes of full fat cream cheese

1 large bunch of scallions (green onions)

4-6 ounces corned beef sandwich slices (such as Buddig)

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2-3 tablespoons lemon juice

1-2 teaspoons minced garlic

1-2 cups toasted pecan pieces

Toast the pecan pieces and lightly chop, then set aside to cool.  Take the corned beef and slice into small confetti pieces.  In the warm pan, quickly warm the minced garlic and corned beef.  Put room temperature cream cheese into a medium mixing bowl.  Wash the scallions and remove the roots.  Slice them lengthwise first, and then finely slice into little pieces.  Use at least 2 thirds of the scallions so that you get some of the delicious green into it.  Toss it on top of the cream cheese.  (Don’t discard the rest of the scallion tops! Put them into a baggie into your fridge for tomorrow’s wonderful recipe.)  Add the corned beef and garlic, mayonnaise, and lemon juice.

20171214_2156421545247555.jpgHere comes my favorite part– with super clean hands, get in there and squish it all together  for.a couple minutes until it is evenly combined.  Taste it and see if it needs anymore lemon juice or garlic powder.  Once it is to your liking, form it into two balls and roll them in the toasted chopped pecan pieces (or leave plain if you don’t care for nuts).  Grab a kitchen buddy and have them help you wrap these in plastic wrap.  Chill in the fridge overnight so that the flavors intensify.
Be sure to come back here and tell me how you like this recipe. And tune in tomorrow for the next installment of the 12 Days of Christmas Bake Along.

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Baking · Cookies · Special Occasions

The 12 Days of Christmas Baking, Day 1: Shortbread Snowballs

First, I owe a shout out to all of my faithful friends and family who constantly stick with me and have shown support to me all these years.  This new chapter is dedicated to you.  I love you.

I’m just barely getting this blog back up and running after a 3-4 year hiatus.  It was rough getting through cancer treatment/recovery and resuming a normal life, but I think I am there (“normal,” hah!) and stronger than I have been in years.  I would like to believe that my thyroid and I once had a happy, non-toxic relationship when I was much younger.  I do miss it and life without the constant medical appointments or meds, but who cares when it is such a blessing just to be alive?  I’m counting my blessings, and they are plentiful.  That being said, I have plenty to be grateful for, and what better way than showcasing some of my favorite things to do in my favorite season of the year?

I give you The 12 Days of Christmas Bake Along

Many years ago, a friend of mine brought something similar to these to my sister’s cookie exchange.  I loved them so much that I sought out a similar recipe, tweaked it just a smidge, and a family favorite was born.  My husband gives these as gifts at work, and I now bring them to my own cookie exchanges whenever I have the opportunity.  I hope you get a chance to enjoy them as much as I do.  They’re so easy to make, I’ll give you the recipe.  😉

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for Day 2 of my 12 Days of Christmas Bake Along.  Post pics of your own Sublime Shortbread Snowballs on the Modern Domestic Goddess community page.

Day 1: Sublime Shortbread Snowballs (Skill level: Easy)

Ingredients

1 cup salted butter, room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar (plus more for rolling later)

2 cups all purpose flour

1.5 teaspoons almond extract

1 cup miniature chocolate chips

1 cup blanched, slivered almonds

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Cream together butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, and almond extract with an electric mixer. Gradually add flour, and mix until the dough comes together like chunky sand. Using a wooden spoon, fold in mini chocolate chips and slivered almonds.  Scoop cookie dough into 1 tablespoon sized portions. Squeeze/roll together in hand to make round balls. Space two inches apart on tray. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until bottoms are just slightly browned. Prepare a large bowl or platter with a generous layer of powdered sugar.

Remove cookies from heat and place directly in powdered sugar. Roll until evenly coated. Allow to cool and roll once more in powdered sugar.

Yields approximately 2 dozen cookies.

For a printable version, click here.