Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cranberry & Eggnog Bread

I am sitting here on this dreary blustery morning drinking coffee, listening to the wind chimes clang and watching Elvis shiver (why he won't wear his sweater I don't's so dang cute!).  It has just dawned on me that winter has arrived and the Holiday Season is certainly upon us.  We've already had our Thanksgiving Feast at work....and finished off the leftovers!  My neighbors have their Christmas lights up and I realize I have a ton of baking requests to prepare for.  All this and Thanksgiving isn't even here yet?!  Time is just whizzing by. 
I am loving all the goodies being offered in the grocery stores this time of year.  Apple cider and caramel apples, eggnog and fresh cranberries.  I've been indulging in each, trust me.  Did you know that eggnog makes an awesome coffee creamer?  YUM!
So, I'm making use of those fresh cranberries with this moist, tasty holiday cranberry eggnog bread.  Don't be afraid of eggnog.   These days it's really just dairy with nutmeg and vanilla.....and sometimes a little rum :) 
YIELD:  one loaf
1C sugar
1 box instant vanilla pudding (3.4 oz)
1/2C butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp rum extract
1 1/2C eggnog
2 1/4C  flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
1C chopped fresh cranberries
EGGNOG GLAZE (optional)
1/2C confectioner's sugar
2 TBL eggnog
1.  Grease a loaf pan and line with parchment paper. I like to leave an overhang of paper to help remove the loaf after it bakes.
2.  Cream the sugar, pudding mix and butter together.
3.  Add eggs, vanilla extract and rum extract.
4.  Add eggnog.
5.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.  Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture until just combined.  Be sure not to over mix as it will make the bread tough.
6.  Fold in the cranberries.
7.  Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake at 350 for 60-70 minutes.
8.  Let the loaf cool 20 minutes or so before unmolding then move to a wire rack to continue to cool. A little trick----when the loaf is still just a bit warm to the touch wrap it up in tin foil.  This will "steam" the bread and make the outside soft.  This trick works great for banana bread, too.
9.  Optional Glaze:  whisk eggnog and confectioner's sugar together and pour over bread.  Honestly, this bread is so incredibly moist you really don't need the glaze.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cow Pie Cookies

Hi Ho Hi Ho back to work I go.  Yep, after a lovely long week of vacation fun with The Bellman, I have returned to a full inbox and a stack of partially handled requests. It was a fantastic week filled with all of our favorite things --eating, shopping and exploring. A week didn't seem to be enough (does it ever??) and we are already planning our next adventure.

Let's talk about these Cow Pie Cookies.  These really are just chocolate, chocolate chippers and are affectionately known around the office as cow pies.  They taste much better than they look, trust me!

Fudgy and dense with crispy edges and a chewy center.  The chocolate lovers loooove them.  As a self confessed dough eater I have to admit to eating more than my share right from the bowl, too. One of my favs!  The key is to mix up the chocolate. Some semi sweet and some 60% chocolate works for me.  

I made a second batch of dough today just to play around with flavors.  I'm calling this creation Black Forest cookies. I substituted 1C semi sweet chips, 1C white chocolate chips and 1C dried cherries for the 3 cups of chocolate chips.  Very tasty!  The Bellman gave them two thumbs up :)


2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp baking soda
2 sticks butter, softened
1C sugar
1C brown sugar
2 eggs
1TBL vanilla
1/2C cocoa powder (unsweetened)
3C chocolate chips (I like to mix it up and usually use 2C semi-sweet and 1C 60% Ghirardelli chocolate chips)
1.  In a medium bowl combine flour, salt and baking soda.
2.  In mixing bowl cream together butter and both sugars.  Add eggs one at a time. 
3.  Add in vanilla and cocoa powder. 
4.  Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
5.  Fold in chocolate chips.
6.  Bake at 375 for 11 minutes.
7.  Let cool on baking rack for 2 minutes before moving to cooling rack.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Brown Butter Glaze

Does anyone else celebrate Sweetest Day?  I don't remember when this holiday started and honestly I just did a little Wikipedia search for more info:  

Sweetest Day is a holiday celebrated primarily in the Great Lakes region on the third Saturday in October. It is described as an "occasion which offers all of us an opportunity to remember the sick, aged and orphaned, but also friends, relatives and associates whose helpfulness and kindness we have enjoyed."   

Okay, nice sentiment, right?!  Of course The Bellman, ever the romantic, looooves this kind of thing!  He was certainly thinking ahead this year and what a lovely surprise it was when he presented me with this beautiful bundt pan.  Sweet!  I gave him a card and an apple, meh.

I've been playing around with pumpkin and browned butter glazes.  Even though I hated covering up the beautiful design of this bundt I thought it did indeed need a drizzle of something. 

Yield = one bundt cake

2C sugar
4 eggs
1C canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
2C flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
15 oz pumpkin (one can)

1.  Beat the sugar and eggs until well blended.  Add the oil and vanilla.

2.  In medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.

3.  Add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir to combine.

4.  Add pumpkin and mix well.

5.  Pour into greased and floured bundt pan.

6.  Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes.

7.  Let the cake cool 10 minutes before removing from bundt pan.

Yield = 1C

1/4C butter
1 1/4 C powdered sugar
3 TBL milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp vanilla paste

1.  In a medium bowl add the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk.

2.  Brown the butter and add to the powdered sugar mixture. Whisk together until well blended.  Add more milk if needed to reach a pourable consistency.

I followed the same rules to brown the butter here as I did with the brown butter snickerdoodles from a couple of weeks ago.  It's pretty simple, trust me.

Place the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  The butter will foam and sputter and that is okay.  Just keep whisking through this process.  After a few minutes the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the pan.  Continue to whisk and remove the butter from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown.  You'll know it is ready when it starts to smell nutty.  Kind of like those yummy cinnamon almonds sold at the mall. Be careful because it can go from zero to dark thirty in a flash. 

3.  Spoon the warm glaze over the cooled cake.


*adapted from "Like The Bowl Good".