Sunday, October 27, 2013

Post-Halloweekend Baking: Gluten Free Apple Cranberry Bars

Dear Baking World,

Ahhh Halloweekend. The blessed time of the year when every single person above the age of eighteen converges on Madison and parties. Not parties. Rages. And then I'm the weirdo who sits on a stool at the party in my Jedi costume and wonders when I get to leave and watch a movie.

That's besides the point. After a long successful weekend with my friends, I decided to whip up some gluten free bars for my little sister to get her week started off right. (She complained that she's tired of eating oatmeal all the time). So here are some bars I made for her. They're a recipe from work that I sneak bits of during work. They're delicious. And yummy. Probably not nutritious, although they're called "Power bars." Yeah right. More like power to your love handle bars. They're delicious but eat them for dessert, not a post work out snack.


Cranberry Apple Oatmeal Bars
(gluten free!)

2 ¾ cups instant oatmeal
1 ¼ cups frozen apple slices 
1/3 cup dried cranberries 
1.5 sticks butter 
½ cup brown sugar 
1/4 tsp. salt
dash of lemon rind
1 Tbsp. corn syrup (heaping) 
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the oats and the apples. In a sauce pan, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar, salt, lemon rind, corn syrup and vanilla. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly.

Remove from heat. Stir liquid into the oat/apple mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Cut into bars while they are still warm.

Friday, October 25, 2013

In Paradise (Bakery)

Dear Baking World,

This post is going to start off sad. My parents put our thirteen-year-old maltese dog down on Tuesday. His name was Frankie and he was a devil but he also was such a sweetheart. I am really going to miss him, but I know that he's up somewhere romping through his favorite patch of grass. That's why this post references Paradise, but there's another reason too.

Paradise bakery is one of my favorite places in the world. Call it nostalgia or call it mountain air, but there's a Paradise Bakery in Colorado where we ski in the winter. We go every day after a hard day of skiing and chomp down on freshly baked cookies. Their sugar cookies are something spectacular. They're big, thick, soft and fluffy. The outside is deliciously crunchy and the inside is warm and soft. It's the best thing ever and indescribable unless you've had one.

According to the blogs I found this recipe on, this is the actual cookie recipe and of course I needed to verify this wild claim. Since we haven't made it out to Colorado for a few years, I need my Paradise fix. So I whipped up these cookies (made a bigger mess than my usual big mess). Because shortening can be relatively flavorless, I substituted a tiny amount of shortening for butter. The shortening, cake flour and powdered sugar are what give it the fluff, so I didn't want to lose that but I wanted a little butter flavor.

 They were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. Even as a sugar cookie by themselves they were delicious.

So give this recipe a whirl. Sugar cookies are one of those things that comes in all breeds and colors and sizes and textures and there isn't one "perfect" sugar cookie (see perfect vanilla cupcake fiasco.) I think a good sugar cookie is a good sugar cookie, and what breed of sugar cookie I want depends on what mood I'm in. I'm not sure how to classify these. They're not chewy, but they're soft. They're not crunchy, but they have a pleasant crunch when you bite them.

P.S. I have an admission to make. I may or may not have added too much extra flour. However, they turned out great but the dough was a bit dry. I refrigerated them overnight. They still tasted delicious, but follow the recipe everyone! (That's why they look really cracked, even though the cookies should be cracked a little bit.)

Paradise Sugar Cookies

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 3/4 cups shortening
1/4 cup butter
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1 large egg
4 1/3 cups cake flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Sugar for decorating

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together sugars, shortening and butter. Mix on low for 30 seconds then scrape sides of bowl with a spatula. Increase speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes.

Slowly add the vanilla and beaten egg.

In a separate bowl, combine the cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Slowly add to the wet ingredients. Mix on slow until just blended. Do not over mix. Scoop into the ball size that you desire, then press with palm. Bake for 10-14 minutes or until the edges are just turning golden brown. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

I am haunted by pumpkin + Pumpkin Almond Butter Bars

Dear Baking World,

Last weekend I got pumpkin pie ice cream with my boyfriend after we had eaten pumpkin spice cookies for lunch, oh and we had a pumpkin pie shake for dinner that weekend as well.

Needless to say I am tired of pumpkin and I am tired of half cans of pumpkin in my fridge. If I eat/see/smell one more pumpkin thing, I will promptly explode.

That being said, I have a half can of pumpkin in my fridge and a large jar of almond butter waiting to be used up. Oh and a gluten free little sister who wants desserts. So it's time to get creative, and this is what I got.

These were oddly delicious. They're gluten free, so the first bite was weird because Brynn and I expected a bar, but they were very eggy. (Four eggs will do that.) After one bar, we both looked at each other and said, "THESE ARE REALLY GOOD!" and kept eating them. They're super good warm and extra good with the glaze.

Throw everything into one bowl (this was when I did only a half batch and whipped up another quick batch and added it to the pan.)

Gluten Free Almond Butter Pumpkin Bars
(with maple glaze)

1 cup creamy almond butter 
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. cinnamon
dash of cloves
dash of ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon sea salt (if your almond butter is salted, don't add salt)
1 tsp baking soda

For the glaze/frosting

1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. very soft, if you want melted, butter
dash of vanilla
2 tbsp. maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 by 13 pan. (If you do a 9 x 9 only do a half batch.)

Combine all ingredients until a medium bowl and mix until a thick batter is formed. Drop desired cookie size onto cookie sheet and press with a wet fork to flatten.

Bake 35 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Leftovers In My Cupboard Pumpkin Gluten Free Granola Bars

Dear Baking World,

Friday I ventured into another world, one where baker's deflate and so do breads. It's the world of gluten free. My younger sister recently decided to go gluten free because she's had stomach problems since forever and classic Brita, I've been researching recipes to make for her. (She feels a ton better by the way, so I'm expecting to post many more gluten free recipes on my blog.)

Friday's gluten free experiment involved pumpkin, surprise surprise/tis the season. Oats are gluten free except they are frequently cross contaminated with wheat products during production, so you  have to buy oats that say "gluten free oats" which is what I did.

My roommates and my sister and I went to Woodman's on Friday for the first time and needless to say none of us have seen anything so beautiful. There were three mini aisles of bread. Bread! I had so many fiber bread options I spent twenty years trying to decide which loaf to buy. I think I just ended up grabbing a loaf and praying I didn't just buy a bag of sawdust. Anyways, they also had an aisle full of gluten free products, which is where my sister and I got lost for hours. This is where I found my old fashioned gluten free Bob's Red Mill oats. We also got some cake mixes, an all purpose flour mix and some Cheetos. (Cheetos are gluten free, as are Tostitos blue corn chips.)

We spent about fifteen minutes trying to figure out the self checkout line, but I think both of us fulfilled a life long dream of bagging our own groceries. What is it with kids and bagging groceries? I swear it's a career that I've wanted to have since forever.

Brynn requested something pumpkin and so here is the bar I made called "Leftovers In My Cupboard Pumpkin Gluten Free Granola Bars" because I threw in my leftover coconut and anything else I could find in my cupboard. She loved them. I wrapped them individually so she can grab one from her fridge no matter where she goes. And they're a lot cheaper than buying gluten free granola bars, which go for $5 a box. These babies only cost at 15 cents a piece to make. Bargain Brita!

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Old Fashioned Oats


Om nom

Leftovers In My Cupboard Pumpkin Gluten Free Granola Bars

2 3/4 cups old fashioned gluten free oats (I crushed them up a bit with my hands)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
dash of salt
dash of cinnamon
dash of cloves
dash of ginger
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. maple syrup (optional)
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips/chunks
1/4 cup craisins
1/4 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 11 pan.

In a bowl, crush the oats with hands. It will shrink down to 2 1/2 cups which is perfect. Then whisk in the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, vanilla, applesauce, brown sugar, olive oil and maple syrup. Whisk for 1-2 minutes or until slightly creamy.

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix until just incorporated. Then carefully stir in the craisins, chocolate chips and craisins. Sprinkle a little brown sugar and chocolate chips over the top.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the sides pull a little away from the side of the pan. Don't bake them over 25 minutes.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Cranberry Maple Blondies + Cranberry Cupcake Bars

Dear Baking World,

I work at the bakery in the Union South. The other day I made cranberry walnut bars with cream cheese frosting and since then the only thing on my mind is cranberry. It's driving me nuts. (That's funny because there's walnuts in the bars...)

I digress. Cranberries are (thankfully) a fall food and therefore an excuse to make lots of cranberry things. A quick tangent after my first tangent: cranberries are one of the few major fruits native to North America, which makes them even more festive as we approach Thanksgiving. On top of that Wisconsin is the number one cranberry producer in the nation, which makes the appropriateness of overdoing it on cranberries even more appropriate.  

I stopped by Madison's only grocery store in the middle of campus where they have a monopoly on grocery items and apparently cranberries as well, which cost almost $5 a bag. The only cranberries available were organic so not only was I throwing money around like it was nobody's business but I was simultaneously bettering the world. 

Ah cranberries. It was all worth it when these two recipes came to fruition. I decided to forgo any nuts involved in these two recipes, simply because nuts are also expensive and I wanted cranberries, not nuts. 

Another fall thing I can't get off my mind: maple. I love maple syrup. Pour me a shot of maple syrup and it will go down the hatch like there's no tomorrow. And what kind of combo would cranberries and maple syrup be?! It would be cosmic, that's for sure. 

The first recipe is an adapated recipe where I substituted pecans for cranberries. The second recipe is the Union South cranberry nut bar recipe, except I omitted the nuts and baked them in a cupcake pan. I also put on frosting (which they do) but mine was maple buttercream (nom.)

All I can say is, if you're hankering something sweet these desserts will fulfill that desire and then some. They're so sweet but so delicious. The blondies were delicious when warm. I honestly couldn't even handle how delicious they were. The bars in cupcake form were also delicious. I was a little disappointed at how overpowering the heath was, but when you got a bite of cranberry, it was pure joy. Oh my goodness. Enjoy.

Cranberry Heath Cupcake Bars with Buttercream Frosting

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 1/4 cups cranberries, frozen

1/2 cup heath

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
dash of milk
maple syrup to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with liners.

Beat eggs in a medium mixing bowl until thick. Gradually add sugar, beating until thoroughly blended. Stir in flour and melted butter, blend well. Add cranberries and heath, mixing gently until just combined. Place an equal amount of batter in each liner.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. 

Frosting: cream butter. Add in powdered sugar until to desired thickness. Add dash of milk, or until to desired thickness. 

Maple Cranberry Blondies

2 cups flour
3/4 cup cranberries (frozen)
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
8 tbsp. melted butter
1/2 cup grade B maple syrup (I used what I had, which was grade A)
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup milk (recipe calls for heavy cream but I put in almond milk and it tasted fine.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9x13 pan.

In a large bowl, mix flour, cranberries, brown sugar, salt and baking soda. In another bowl, mix the melted butter, maple syrup, eggs and vanilla. Add wet and dry ingredients together. Mixture should be like brownie batter. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes.

While the blondies are baking, make the topping. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in maple syrup and light brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat and allow to boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Place on blondies when they're still warm.