Tag Archives: smitten kitchen

Raspberry Breakfast Bars

Seasoned to Taste - Raspberry Breakfast Bars

I suppose you could say it’s *trying* to be spring. Trees are budding, pollen is falling, the daffodils are already past their prime, yet winter continues to noodle us with bouts of snow and freezing temps. Enough, already!

It’s not that I’m in any hurry to bring on the humidity, mosquitoes and dripping heat – it’s just that my bun in the oven is getting too big for any and all winter coats to effectively cover and I need to transition to my maxi skirts and wrap dresses STAT. Temperatures are expected into the 70s next week – here’s hoping!

This will be a season of major changes, but my wish is to continue to cook and blog as much as I can, to keep up on all the tasty memories. If you haven’t yet, be sure to follow me on Instagram (@asowa) for more live feeding.

Breakfast bars are a great way to believe you are eating healthy, but really they are just sugary, chewy, delicious pastries you may or may  not eat in the morning.

The combination of raspberries and oat crumble will remind you of all your favorite fruit pies: thick, bubbling syrup and toasted toppings. I baked these and ate them for a straight week, often multiples times per day. The corner pieces are my favorites because they are the most crunchy. Don’t be afraid to bake longer than it calls for if you like more solid crusts – the raspberries can make the crust soft in the middle.

One last piece of advise – keep the crust layer thick to again prevent a soggy bottom – mine was a little spare in patches, but it didn’t affect the flavor or my enjoyment of them.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen (and her trip to North Carolina!).

Seasoned to Taste - Raspberry Breakfast Bars

Raspberry Breakfast Bars

Ingredients:

For the crust and crumb:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the raspberry filling:

  • 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound raspberries, fresh or frozen (I used frozen – try other fruits, too! Peach, blackberry, blueberry…)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Make the crust and crumb: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up the two short sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends for easy bar-removal. Butter the parchment or spray with cooking spray.

Put the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until combined. Add the butter and pulse until loose crumbs form.

Reserve 1 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside.  Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and use your hands to push the crust into an even layer at the bottom of the pan (note, you want it thick and packed hard). The crust should touch the sides of the pan. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes (or longer, if necessary). Transfer to a wire rack and let the crust cool. Keep the oven on while you make the raspberry filling.

Make the raspberry filling: In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and flour together. Add the raspberries, lemon juice and butter and toss gently until the raspberries are evenly coated.

Assemble and bake the bars: Spread the raspberry filling evenly on top of the cooled crust. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly on top of the filling.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan every 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown, firmed and the filling starts to bubble around the edges.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then cut into squares and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two days – I found that the fridge kept them nice and firm and they lasted longer.

Seasoned to Taste - Raspberry Breakfast Bars

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

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Roasted Pear and Chocolate Chunk Scones

And just like that, Thanksgiving is here. The bad news is that I can’t seem to hold on to the days that slip further and further into early sunsets; the good news is that I am in full nesting mode, which means lots more baking projects and – of course –  Christmas music! Christmas and early Pearl Jam/STP, randomly. I just need to find the right Pandora station that combines both. Purchasing the yearly no-commercials deal was the best thing I’ve done this year.

I’ve posted before about how much I love the combination of pears and dark chocolate. And when you fold this love into a scone, you get the moist chunks of pear with the crunchy richness of chocolate all in a buttery cakey thing.

Scones are fun because they require little work as far as breakfast pastries go. Just mix everything, pat it into a disk and cut out the pieces. Bake, nibble, smile.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen…I sometimes find problems with her recipes, just like in my own, so I changed a few things here and there. The big thing was making smaller scones so the recipe went further (than just 6 scones).

Roasted Pear and Chocolate Chunk Scones

Ingredients:

  • 3 firm pears (about 1 pound – I used Bartlett)
  • 1 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar plus 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated or coarse for sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt plus additional for egg wash
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup (3 ounces or 85 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or chips)
  • 2 large eggs, 1 for dough, 1 for glaze

Heat oven to 375°F. Peel and core pears. Cut into 1-inch chunks. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange pear chunks on parchment and roast until they feel dry to the touch and look a little browned in spots, 20-30 minutes. Slide parchment paper with pear chunks onto a cooling rack (or into fridge) and cool to lukewarm. Leave oven on. Line baking sheet with another piece of parchment.

Whisk flour, baking powder, 1/4 cup sugar and salt together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Toss in cooled pear chunks, bits of butter, heavy cream and 1 egg (Note: Next time I will cut in the butter first, after the dry ingredients, as the chunks don’t incorporate evenly when added with the pear. Once you work in the butter, add the pear and everything else). With the paddle attachment, mix the dough on low speed until it just comes together. Don’t overmix. Add the chocolate chunks and mix for 5 seconds more. It will look lumpy and messy.

On a very well floured counter, pat out dough into a 6-inch round. Cut into wedges (6-8) and transfer to baking sheet at least two inches apart. Whisk remaining egg in a small dish with 1 teaspoon of water and a pinch of salt. Brush each scone with egg wash and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar.

Bake scones until firm and golden, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.

Perfect with your morning coffee. Store in air-tight container at room temperature. They’ll taste good for 3 days or so.

Enjoy, friends!

Leek and Blue Cheese Toasts

The tender leek. Scrub it clean, toss it into a hot pan with melted butter and olive oil, season with a little salt, pepper and nutmeg, then sizzle it with a dash of white wine and cover. Twenty or so minutes later, you have a soft, sweet vegetable that just wants you to love it.

I simply love the simple leek. And here we have a new way for me to love it. Adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe: bruschetta topped with softened leeks and smoky blue cheese – a wonderful appetizer that doubles as an entree with a simple salad.

I added wine and nutmeg to this dish and can’t wait to try it with goat cheese.

Leek and Blue Cheese Toasts

Ingredients:

  • 3 big leeks, sliced into half moons and rinsed well
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for brushing toasts
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 c. dry white wine
  • Pinch of fresh nutmeg
  • 6 medium slices of sourdough bread or baguette
  • 2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • Few drops of lemon juice (1/4 lemon)

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium. Once hot, add butter and olive oil and add the leek slices. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, a few grinds of black pepper and nutmeg. Add wine, then reduce heat to low, cover with a lid and cook until tender, about 20-30 min. Preheat broiler.

While leeks cook, brush bread slices with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Run under broiler until lightly toasted (next time, I’ll toast both sides). Divide leeks among toasts. Sprinkle with cheese, then run under broiler again until the cheese has just started to melt. Add a few drops of lemon juice.

Serve immediately.

My god, this is good. The leeks are buttery and have just the tiniest bit of onion flavor; the perfect base for blue cheese crumbles.

Biting down, you first are hit by the blue cheese, then the leeks mellow everything out and the bread is just crunchy enough to hold everything together. Lovely.

I really will be making these for every appetizer-and-wine party I attend in the future.
Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Monkey Bread with Browned Butter and Cream Cheese Glaze

Monkey bread is like a bunch of little cinnamon rolls held together by a caramelized sugar coating. Individual balls of yeast dough are dipped in browned butter, then rolled in cinnamon and brown sugar and dropped into a beautiful Bundt pan. That’s right, I’m on Bundt pans again.

I chose a Smitten Kitchen monkey bread recipe and used my beautiful copper Bundt pan for it.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Cooks Illustrated…

Monkey Bread with Browned Butter and Cream-Cheese Glaze

Ingredients:

Dough
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, divided (2 tablespoons softened, 2 tablespoons melted)
1 cup milk, warm (around 110 degrees) – to me this is HOT!
1/3 cup water, warm (also around 110 degrees)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 package or 2 1/4 teaspoons rapid rise, instant or bread machine yeast
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
2 teaspoons table salt

Brown Sugar Coating
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick or 4 ounces), melted

Cream Cheese Glaze
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus extra if needed
2 tablespoons milk, plus extra if needed
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Get oven and pan ready: Adjust oven rack to medium-low position and heat oven to 200°F. When oven reaches 200, turn it off. Butter Bundt pan with 2 tablespoons softened butter. Set aside.

Make dough: In large measuring cup, mix together milk, water, melted butter, sugar, and yeast. Let sit until foaming, about 10 min.

Mix flour and salt in standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Turn machine to low and slowly add milk mixture. After dough comes together, increase speed to medium and mix until dough is shiny and smooth, 6 to 7 minutes. Turn dough onto lightly floured counter and knead briefly to form smooth, round ball.

Coat large bowl with nonstick cooking spray or a tablespoon of neutral oil. Place dough in bowl and coat surface of dough with more cooking spray or oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in warm oven until dough doubles in size, 50 to 60 minutes.

Make brown sugar coating: Melt butter in small saucepan over medium, until browned and nutty-smelling, about 7-10 min. Place melted butter in one bowl. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a second one.

Form the bread: Flip dough out onto floured surface and gently pat into an 8-inch square. Using a bench scraper or knife, cut dough into 64 pieces (8 strips cut into 8 pieces each).

Roll each piece of dough into ball. Working one at a time, use fork to dip balls in melted butter, allowing excess butter to drip back into bowl. Roll in brown sugar mixture, then layer balls in Bundt pan, staggering seams where dough balls meet as you build layers.

Cover Bundt pan tightly with plastic wrap and place in turned-off oven until dough balls are puffy and have risen 1 to 2 inches from top of pan, 50 to 70 minutes.

Bake bread: Remove pan from oven and heat oven to 350°F. Unwrap pan and bake until top is deep brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes (no longer, or you’ll have trouble getting it out) then turn out on platter and allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

Make glaze: Beat cream cheese with powdered sugar until smooth and light. Add milk and vanilla. Adjust with more powdered sugar or milk to get desired consistency.

Drizzle the glaze over warm monkey bread, letting it run over top and sides of bread. Serve warm.

This is best served warm, so if having leftovers, heat in microwave for 10-15 seconds. Finger-lickin’ good.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Insane Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Ganache Cake

The actual name of this cake is sour-cream chocolate cake with peanut-butter cream cheese frosting and chocolate peanut butter glaze. It is a cake so sinfully decadent that it would make Nigella Lawson’s head explode. To give the cake its “just desserts,” I enrolled it in a chocolate-cake challenge against my gourmet chef-friend Tonya.

I found the recipe on Smitten Kitchen a few years ago, and was encouraged when my friend Ellie made it and said it nearly killed a party she took it to. It took a bit of work, as most layer cakes are wont to do, but it’s worth it. Here’s why: three layers of dark and moist sour-cream chocolate cake covered in a cream-cheese and peanut butter frosting, then slathered with the most ridiculous amount of thick peanut butter chocolate ganache. I just drooled writing that.

The cake has an interesting addition of vinegar – I still haven’t figured out what that does, but I think I like it. All together, it tastes like a wonderful Reece’s candy – but way better. The ganache is like a truffle layer over the creamy frosting. As Tonya pointed out, the cake isn’t TOO chocolatey, so it doesn’t compete with the peanut butter frosting and ganache. Here’s the recipe, if you dare:

Insane Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache Cake

Ingredients for cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans (I used 9-inch and it was fine). Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and baking soda into a large bowl. Whisk in salt to combine. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans. I did this all by hand, but feel free to use an electric mixer.

3. Bake for 30 min., or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. When cool, cover in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 30 min, which will make them much easier to frost. (Make the frosting recipe below while you wait)

4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate (I put squares of parchment paper under it, to keep my new cake plate clean – remove before serving). Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.

Once frosted, chill the cake for another 30 minutes, which will help the ganache drip all over it (and make the ganache recipe below while you wait!).

5. To decorate with the ganache, pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving.

Ingredients for Frosting:

  • 10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup smooth peanut butter – I used Skippy’s

1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Ingredients for ganache:

  • 8 ounces seimsweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half (admission: I didn’t have this, so used milk. My bad!)

1. In a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and shiny.

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm. Because I didn’t have the half-and-half, mine was too viscous, but it still tastes wonderful and set up nicely.

Isn’t that pretty? Tonya brought what she called a chocolate “Black-Out Cake” because during the war, people would make it whenever there was a blackout. It is a rich and moist cake with chocolate pudding between the layers, and a crumbled layer of cake all over the top. Brilliant!

Our judges declared a draw because the cakes were so different. Mine was called “most unique” and “most American,” while Tonya’s was “best classic cake” and “most European.” And then they all fell into sugar comas.

Seriously, this much sugar and chocolate gave me a headache like I’d been drinking a 20-oz quadruple espresso drink.

And here are the chefs!

Until the next foodie fight, enjoy, friends! xoxo