Flourless Almond Butter Apple Muffins {GF}

Super moist healthy muffins made with oat flour and applesauce!

almond butter apple muffins

It finally feels like real winter here in West Virginia. In November we had a cold snap and there was a week with snow flurries and 20 degree weather, then it warmed up. December hovered in the 30s and mid-20s. So did January. But now, February almost through and winter is in full force. All my cute clothes are hibernating as I can’t leave the house in anything but jeans (over leggings) and Sorel boots, and of course my giant winter coat.

We’ve had several days where it never got above 10 (in Fahrenheit, that is) and nights are often below 0. That’s not even factoring in windchill. And in the past week, it’s snowed so much with periods of white out conditions.

I know, it’s not just West Virginia. The majority of the country is facing cold, wintry weather, and there are probably plenty of places that are colder. But still.

Luckily, my job is pretty flexible and not 9-5 (though it will be soon), so on days when it’s been really cold I’ve been able to work from home or only work a half day. The office is in an old industrial building and thus the heating is awful.

Luckily, again, this means I have more time to spend in the kitchen. When it’s cold and snowy, all I want to do is bake and drink hot chocolate. At least, until I get cabin fever. Then I go outside for a bit, and come home to make more warm beverages.

Flourless Almond Butter Apple Muffins

adapted from Chelsea’s Messy Apron

makes about 10 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 T brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup + 1 T oat flour (or 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats, finely ground)*
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats*
  • 1 T flaxseed meal (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped apple
  • 1/3 cup raisins or 3-4 T chopped pecans (optional)

*Make sure your oats are gluten-free if you need these to be gluten-free!

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease muffin tins–the original recipe warns against using cupcake papers, but I have not tried this and cannot attest to what would happen if you did that.

In a large bowl, combine applesauce, almond butter, maple syrup, vanilla extract, brown sugar and egg. Beat in oat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in old-fashioned oats, flaxseed, chopped apple, and nuts/raisins (if using).

Bake 16-18 minutes. Let cool slightly before removing from tins and serving.

King Cake

king cake01

 

I’ve never been one for Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday/Carneval celebrations. They haven’t been a part of the local culture anywhere I’ve lived except for Austria (you can read a little about that here), so this was the first King Cake I ever ate as well as the first one I ever made. If you, like me, have never had or made one, here’s what to expect: it’s a pretty basic yeast cake filled with a mixture of sweet cream cheese, pecans, cinnamon, and lemon zest. Tradition calls for a toy baby representing Jesus to be hidden inside, but that got overlooked in my cake.

king cake02

 

No matter. With or without a plastic baby Jesus (or bean, or other substitute), this cake will surely be a crowd-pleaser. The cream cheese filling is slightly tangy to balance the rich, sweet buttermilk glaze. The cake itself, a broiche-like dough, has a nice tender crumb. The flavors meld together perfectly.

king cake03

 

So while the rest of the blogosphere becomes inundated with red and pink things for Valentine’s Day (Happy Valentine’s Day), how about giving this cake a try instead?

King Cake

slightly adapted from Saveur

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
  • 2 T light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

For the filling

  • 12 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon

For the frosting

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • splash vanilla extract
  • sanding sugar or sprinkles, to decorate

Instructions

For the dough: In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine yeast, water, and a pinch of sugar and allow the yeast to activate and become foamy, 5-10 minutes. Add sugars, milk, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk and beat until combined. Add flour and salt and mix. Using the dough hook attachment, knead on high for four minutes.  Add the butter and continue kneading for another six minutes until fully incorporated. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and form a ball. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2-2 hours.

For the filling: Cream together cream cheese, brown sugar, pecans, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, and lemon zest.

Make the cake: Punch down the dough and turn out onto a clean, floured surface. Roll the dough into a large circle about 1/4″ thick. Poke a hole in the center and gently stretch and widen the hole. Halfway between the edge of the dough and the edge of the hole, place dollops of the filling. Starting with the outside edge, roll the dough over the filling to form a ring. The seam should be hidden. Cover and let sit for one hour.

Bake the cake at 350°F for thirty minutes, until golden brown.

To frost: Let the cake cool completely. Whisk together powdered sugar, buttermilk, and vanilla. Pour or spread over the cake, and decorate with sanding sugar or sprinkles.

(My friend who is from The South where Mardi Gras is more of a thing would like to add the following instructions for hiding a baby inside the cake: BABY. Strategically place the baby where only your favorite person will be expected to seek it. Alternatively–the preferred method–hide multiple babies and cause chaos!)

Cranberry Pecan Scones

Perfect for breakfast or brunch, these scones are packed with dried cranberries and pecans.

cran pecan scones01

As the blogosphere becomes inundated with Game Day foods, I present to you: breakfast. Sports and I do not really get along–I’ve given many of them a try, but there are usually other things I’d rather be doing with my time.

The only reason I knew that the Superbowl was coming up was because of all the food bloggers.

Which brings me back to breakfast. Or brunch. Fantastic meals, right?

If you need something new for your breakfast or brunch table, how some scones?

These Cranberry Pecan Scones are on the heartier side. They’re big, not like some dainty high tea scone, and studded with cranberries and pecans. True to the quick bread name, they can be whipped up in just a few minutes. Just whisk together your dry ingredients, cut in the butter, and some liquid and your mix-ins, knead and shape, then into the oven they go.

(That may have sounded like a lot of steps, but trust me, it’s not.)

Cranberry Pecan Scones

makes 8 scones

adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 T sugar, plus 1 T sugar for sprinkling (I experimented date sugar, but granulated or demerara will do)
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 T butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 2/3 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Work in butter with your fingertips, a fork, or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse corn meal. Stir in milk until just moistened. Add in cranberries and pecans.

On a clean, lightly floured surface knead the dough briefly. Pat into a circle or rectangle about 1″ thick, then cut into eight wedges or squares. Sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar.

Bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Somewhere between a cake and a quick bread, this decadent loaf perfectly marries chocolate and bananas!

choc banana bread01

Reader, I want to apologize for posting my Saturday posts on Sundays. But lately, my Saturdays (and my Mondays through Fridays) seem to be disappearing. The daylight hours–the times I might try to photograph the things I cook–especially seem to be disappearing quickly.

Take yesterday, for example. I spent most of the day working on a project with some fellow AmeriCorps members, and by the time I was finished the sun was close to setting. Not that it makes a huge difference, as my town is notorious for gray skies and rain. And due to poor planning, I had nothing ready to share with you in advance.

However, after the sun set I did get to do some baking. A whole lot. Maybe too much. There may have been a chocolate overload, something I did not know was possible. Some friends came over to finally have a baking and Jane Austen movie night as we had discussed many, many months ago. It turned into a chocolate-fest and board games instead, which is just as acceptable. We made brownie sundaes, Oreo balls, and this banana bread.

This Double Chocolate Banana Bread is rich and almost like a chocolate cake, but the banana flavor still comes through. Plus, it’s studded with chocolate chips and features a hint of cinnamon. And is a great companion to the game Bananagrams, which is maybe the best game ever.

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 3 medium-large bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used half regular and half Black Onyx by Savory Spice Shop)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan.

Mix together bananas, melted butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sift in baking soda, salt, cinnamon, flour, and cocoa powder and stir to combine. Add in chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared pan and bake 55 to 65 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in the pan 10 to 15 minutes before removing to serve or cool completely on a wire rack.

Posted to Sweet & Savoury Sundays!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Revel Bars

Chocolate and peanut butter are at it again – this time in oatmeal bar cookie form!

choc pb bars02a

We’ve been over this before: chocolate and peanut butter win. Always. In whatever form. Peanut butter cookie dough brownies, peanut butter eggs a la Reese’s, oatmeal cookies with peanut butter and chocolate…and today they are at it again.

I don’t know exactly what a “revel bar” is, but if these bar cookies are true revel bars, then revel bars are fantastic and the world needs more of them. I do know that “revel bars” are an accurate name for these, because you will certainly take great pleasure or delight in eating them.

How could you not? A layer of chocolate and peanut butter sandwiched between two layers of chewy, sweet peanut butter and oats. There is no way you can go wrong with that.

A short post today, I know, but I think you should go make these and let the cookies speak for themselves.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Revel Bars

from It Bakes Me Happy

Ingredients

For the peanut butter layers

  • 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats

For the chocolate layer

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 12 oz (1 bag) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 14 oz (1 can) sweetened condensed milk (I used fat free, mostly because it was on sale)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13 pan.

For the peanut butter layers: Cream together butter and 1/4 cup peanut butter in a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and oats. Add dry ingredients to peanut butter mixture and mix until completely incorporated. Press 2/3 of the mixture into the prepared pan so that it covers the entire bottom.

For the chocolate layer: In a medium saucepan, melt 1/2 cup peanut butter, chocolate chips, and sweetened condensed milk over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Assembly: Spread the chocolate mixture over the peanut butter/oat mixture in the pan. Crumble the remaining peanut butter/oat mixture over the chocolate layer.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until the top is light golden brown. Cool before slicing and serving.

Posted to Sweet and Savoury Sundays!

Simit {Turkish Sesame Bagels}

These ring-shaped Turkish breads are a little nutty, a little chewy, and just slightly sweet!

simit01

Well, Reader, this past week we got our first real snowfall of the season. It stuck to the ground, it piled, it drifted, it didn’t get above 15 degrees for a couple days. It was enough that I decided to work from home for a day and a half, especially since things haven’t yet picked up after the Christmas lull, which gave me the opportunity to do some baking (always a good thing).

While the wind blew outside and the snow fell, practically hiding my little hatchback car, I took a trip to Turkey via my kitchen. Or really, to Berlin, since most of my knowledge of Turkish street food comes from Berlin’s massive Turkish community–though I have been to Turkey as well, and can attest to the authenticity of this recipe. You can buy simit, a sesame seed-enctrusted Turkish bagel-like bread, from Turkish bakeries, on the street, or at markets all over cities in Germany and Austria with large Turkish populations, as well as (of course) all over Turkey. If I’m not mistaken, I first had simit from the Turkish market in Berlin back in 2011. That was before the blog, but you can read about my return trip to Berlin, and the Turkish market, in 2014 here.

But back to simit: they resemble bagels in shape and because they are both variations on a basic yeast dough, but there are some differences. Simit are not boiled, as bagels traditionally are, and they are always twisted.  The inside isn’t overly dense or chewy. The outside should be a deep golden brown, and thanks to a quick dip in molasses or syrup, is slightly sweet. All the simit I’ve seen are slightly larger and thinner than your average bagel, though that can naturally be changed to fit one’s own preferences when made at home. Mine were slightly larger than most I’ve seen sold commercially, but that’s because I halved the recipe and chose to only make four bagels instead of five. However, if you want to eat these like bagels, I think the slightly larger size is better–they definitely make for good sandwiches.

Simit

adapted from Ozlem’s Turkish Table and Delicious Istanbul

makes 10, or halve the recipe for 4-5

Ingredients

  • pinch granulated sugar
  • 3 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup + 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup pekmez (Turkish fruit molasses) or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup sesame seeds

Instructions

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugar, yeast, and 1/4 warm water. Let stand 5-10 minutes to allow the yeast to activate and become bubbly. Stir in flour and remaining 1 1/2 cups warm water and knead, by hand or with the dough hook attachment of your mixer, for about 7 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425ºF and line 1-2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a shallow dish (like a pie pan) combine the 1/4 cup water and pekmez or syrup. Place sesame seeds on a large plate.

Punch down the dough and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 10 evenly-sized pieces. Roll each piece into a long snake, fold in half making a loop, and twist. Tuck the ends into the loop to form a ring. You can check out this recipe for photos of how to shape simit. Dip into the syrup/water mixture to completely cover, then toss in the sesame seeds. Repeat with each piece of dough. Let sit 20 minutes.

Bake 15-20 minutes until deep golden brown and cooked through. Best eaten the same day.