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Posts Tagged ‘Vanilla Bean Paste’

After the holidays, I take stock of what ingredients are left over from all the baking. Then I try to make recipes that will use up those items. I try! That normally means that instead of going to the store everyday, I go every other day!

Ok, so maybe that needs to be a resolution for this year- to use up what is in my pantry (it’s almost over-flowing), before buying more baking stuff. Hmm, I’m not holding my breath!

Well, one thing that I did use, were pecans. After making nut balls and pecan tassies, I still had quite a few left. So I decided to make some pecan nut butter. Nut butter and apple slices (peeled- sorry, I don’t like the skin) are a snack that I enjoy. And making your own nut butter is easy and can be customized so many different ways. I went pretty basic with mine and just added cinnamon and a little vanilla bean paste. Note: if you are interested in making different flavors of nut butters, I highly recommend Ashley’s blog, Edible Perspective. She has a nice list of nut butter recipes.

Cinnamon Pecan Nut Butter/ Bake, Run, Live

One Year Ago: Hot Chocolate Cookies with Marshmallow Bits

Cinnamon Pecan Nut Butter

10 oz. pecan pieces, toasted
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

To toast the pecans, preheat oven to 300 degrees. On a baking sheet, evenly spread the pecans. Toast in a preheated oven for 5-7 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, place the toasted pecans in a food processor. Process until the pecans are smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides a few times before you reach the desired texture. Add in the cinnamon, vanilla bean paste, and sea salt and process for another minute. Scrape the pecan butter into a jar or plastic container and enjoy!

Note: I usually eat mine fast enough that I don’t bother to refrigerate it. However, if I still have the same batch after a weeks time, then I will move it to the refrigerator. Also, while I am giving you exact measurements of how I made this nut butter, feel free to play around with it (different spices, different nuts)! Some nuts (like cashews) need a little help in becoming smooth, so I add a little oil (melted coconut oil is my first choice, but vegetable oil will also work). The pecans for this recipe, became smooth quickly and without adding any oil.

Cinnamon Pecan Nut Butter/ Bake, Run, Live

I’m linked at: Create With Joy, Addicted to Recipes

Made with love, not calories!

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Day 4 of the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies!

I’m not a big fan of sugar cookies.

I’m sorry- they just taste a little blah in comparison to any cookie that has chocolate in it!

However, that doesn’t stop me from searching for a sugar cookie recipe that maybe I will like! I found one that I am really happy with! I like the flavor, and I like the texture. Though I think they would be better with a little chocolate or Nutella hidden in the middle!

Just kidding! These are really good just the way they are!

Vanilla Sugar Cookies
Recipe by Baking Illustrated

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/3 cups vanilla sugar, divided (regular sugar will work just fine)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour, sifted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put 1/3 cup sugar in a small bowl, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, 1 cup sugar, and brown sugar. Add in the egg and vanilla bean paste and mix well. Stir in the baking powder and salt. Add in the flour and stir until well combined.

Using a medium-sized ice cream scoop, scoop the dough then roll in the sugar that you set aside. Place the ball on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. (Note: the dough is sticky, so I used food-safe gloves. However, by using an ice cream scoop, you eliminate a good amount of handling the dough- no need to roll it into a ball before rolling it in sugar!) Bake in a preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden brown. Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, move the cookies onto cooling racks and let cool completely. Enjoy!

Made with love, not calories!

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A blog that I read, Willow Bird Baking, is having 5 weeks of baking challenges!

Sadly, I missed last weeks challenge (challenge #1), but I am hoping to be able to complete the last 4.

This weeks challenge was to use the dough in Julie’s Raspberry Almond Braid. We were allowed to use whatever fillings and topping we wanted.

After making the dough, I started poking around through my pantry and refrigerator to see what I could use as a filling. Yup- I really planned ahead on this one!! In the front of my pantry was a jar of Nutella. Mmmm, chocolate! (and for anyone who just read that in a Homer Simpson voice- thank you!)

This was a really easy dough to make and to assemble. It goes together quickly and bakes quickly too! I plan on making these again, but making individual sized ones.

Nutella Breakfast Braid
Dough recipe lightly adapted from Willow Bird Baking via Luna Cafe

2 cups flour, sifted
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup Nutella

Vanilla Bean Icing:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add in the butter and cream cheese. Let the mixer run until everything is incorporated and the mixture resembles small pebbles. Still on low speed, add in the milk and vanilla bean paste. The dough should come together rather quickly.

Flour a flat work surface and turn out the dough from the stand mixer. Lightly knead the dough a few times. Don’t overwork it! Roll the dough out into an 8 x 12 inch rectangle, then transfer the dough onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Spread the Nutella down the center of the dough (see picture below). Cut diagonal slices down both sides, being careful not to cut into the center portion on the dough where the Nutella is. Fold the strips over the center portion, beginning on one side with one strip, then going to the other side, all the way down. Bake in a preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, or until the top is a light golden brown.

To make the icing, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla bean paste. Pour over the warm breakfast braid, cut and serve. Enjoy!

Made with love, not calories!

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I went back to the basics with this weeks Ice Cream Sunday recipe. Rich vanilla ice cream mixed with homemade chocolate chips!

That’s right, I made my own chocolate chips- and they Are Great (you are supposed to say that in a Tony the Tiger voice- though I guess I should have typed it GRRREAT) Ok, long week, lack of sleep- sorry))!

Anyways, getting back to the homemade chocolate chips. They are so easy to make. Melt some good quality chocolate, add a little bit of oil. Spread it out, freeze it, break it, put it in ice cream! Adding the oil lowers the melting point of the chocolate, so when you eat the ice cream, the chips melt quickly on your tongue!

Vanilla Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Chocolate Chip recipe from Sweet Cream & Sugar Cones

Ice cream:
2 cups half and half
2 cups heavy cream
7 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups vanilla sugar (regular sugar works fine)
1 /2 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

Chocolate Chips:
4 oz. bar of 60% dark chocolate (I used Ghirardelli)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

To make the ice cream base:
In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk together the heavy cream and half and half. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring continuously.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar, until the mixture is well combined and smooth.

Once the cream mixture comes to a simmer, pour 1/3 of it into the egg yolk mixture and whisk quickly to combine. Repeat this step 2 more times, until all the cream has been incorporated into the egg yolk mixture. Pour this combined mixture back into the saucepan. Over medium-low heat, stirring slowly and continuously, let the mixture come up to 175 degrees (using a candy thermometer). Once the ice cream base has come up to temperature, remove from the heat and strain through a sieve into a heat-safe bowl. Let cool to room temperature and stir in the vanilla bean paste. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

To make the chocolate chips:
Melt the chocolate according to your favorite method (I like the microwave). Once the chocolate is melted, add in the oil and stir well. Spread this mixture thinly and evenly over a cookie sheet that has been lined with silpat or parchment paper. Freeze until hardened (about 20 minutes). Remove from freezer and working quickly, peel up the chocolate and break into small pieces. Return the chips to the freezer until you are ready to add them to the ice cream.

After 4 hours, process the ice cream according to your ice cream machine manufacturers instructions. Once the ice cream is ready, scoop (or pour- the ice cream should be a thick milkshake consistency) into a freezer-safe container, stirring in the chocolate chips. Cover and freeze for 4 hours. Serve and enjoy!

Made with love, not calories!

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One last patriotic recipe!

Baker’s Royale was the first blog that I had ever seen a Zebra cake (here and here). I thought they were really interesting and I added it to my baking to-do list.

Well, with the 4th of July quickly approaching, I thought making a red, white, and blue zebra cake would be an eye-catching dessert! It is a little bit of work, layering the batter, but I was pleased with the results.

Photo courtesy of Nick

Red, White, and Blue Zebra Cake
Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour
Prep time: 40 minutes     Bake time: 40+ 60 minutes

2 cups (4 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups vanilla sugar
9 large eggs, separated
4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
Red and Blue food gel coloring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 10-cup bundt pan* by greasing and flouring. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the egg yolks, one at a time, and incorporate well. Set aside.

In a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until they become stiff peaks. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and vanilla bean paste. Set aside (there seems to be a pattern here!).

Going back to the butter/sugar mixture, stir in 1/3 of the milk mixture, followed by 1/3 of the flour mixture. Repeat this 2 more times (ending with the last of the flour mixture). Stir in 1/3 of the egg whites (this will help lighten the dough), then fold in the remaining egg whites. Note: don’t fold the egg whites in completely- there can still be some streaks, as you are going to be stirring the batter a little more once you add in the food coloring.

Put 2 cups of batter in a small bowl and add a few drops of red gel food coloring. Stir to combine. Repeat this step, however, using the blue gel food coloring in the 2nd bowl. Go back to the main batter bowl and make sure the egg whites are fully incorporated.

In order to make the zebra pattern, I used 3 ice cream scoops. 2 medium scoops (1 for red, 1 for blue) and a large scoop (for the main batter- white). Start with a scoop of red batter, followed by a scoop of white. A scoop of blue batter comes next, followed by another scoop of white. Now it’s back to red and we repeat this pattern. Note: the reason for doing red/white/blue/white, is to try to keep the blue and red batters from mixing and forming purple once it bakes! After every 4 scoops, gently shake the bundt pan in order to get the batter to spread out. Repeat this until you have used up all the batter, or until your bundt pan is 3/4 of the way full*. Bake in a preheated oven for 40-60 minutes, depending on how full your bundt pan is. Once a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, remove the cake from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, invert the cake onto a platter and let cool completely. Enjoy!

*Note: I did not want to over-fill my bundt pan, so I had left-over batter. I ended up using both a bundt pan and a loaf pan. Both ended up baking for 40 minutes for me. If you put all your batter in the bundt pan, your baking time will be longer than 40 minutes.

Bundt pan

Loaf pan

Photo courtesy of Nick

Made with love, not calories!

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You might be wondering why I am posting a Red, White, and Blue recipe? It’s after Memorial Day, but the Fourth of July is still a month away!

We have another holiday that sits in between…Flag Day! June 14th is Flag Day!

I had some egg whites left over from the ice cream I made the other day, so I decided to make meringue cookies. With a twist! Ha! Get it?!!

These are vanilla bean flavored meringue cookies. I wanted to make cherry flavored, but I found out (the hard way) that you can’t add flavored oils to meringue. It turned it into a runny mess. Note: I should have known this would happen, as most cookbooks that talk about tips for meringue, tell you that your mixing bowl has to be clean and free of oils or grease. So, my bad!

Anyways! These are a fun way to use up extra egg whites, and you can color these however you want! As for a different flavor, well, stick to extracts :)

Red, White, and Blue Meringue Cookies
Makes: 2 1/2- 3 dozen, depending on size
Prep time: 15 minutes     Bake time: 3 hours

3 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
Red and Blue gel food coloring (I use AmeriColor gels)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper- set aside.

In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk together the egg whites and the cream of tartar. Turn the mixer to high speed and let the egg whites come to soft peaks (when you stop the mixer and lift the whisk attachment, the peak falls over). Turn the mixer to medium-low speed and slowly add in the sugar. Once the sugar has been added, add in the vanilla bean paste, then turn the mixer back to high and whisk until the egg whites form stiff peaks (the peak stays straight up when the whisk attachment has been lifted).

To pipe the cookies, use a disposable piping bag (with or without a coupler and decorating tip). In order to get the stripes of color, take a paintbrush dipped in one of the gel food colors and stripe the side (inside) of the bag. Wash your brush out with water, then repeat on the other side of the bag with the next color (see picture below).  Fill the bag with the meringue and pipe out the cookies onto your prepared cookie sheet. Note: I did not use a coupler and tip- I just cut off the end of the pastry bag and made swirls with the meringue. Bake for 3 hours or until the cookies sound hollow when you tap them. Cool completely and store in an air-tight container. Enjoy!

Made with love, not calories!

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Strawberries are here!!!!!

Do you know what that means?

Lots of strawberry recipes are going to be coming your way!

I love strawberries, but this year I seem to be obsessed with them! Maybe it’s because so many food blogs have already been posting their strawberry recipes (like starting 3 weeks ago)- and I’m jealous!

Well, now it’s my turn!

1st up, we are going to be roasting some strawberries! I read this on How Sweet Eats, and I wanted to try it. Yum! Roasting the strawberries gives them a deeper flavor.

In order to capture the true taste of the roasted strawberries, I decided to keep the dessert simple (and with the rest of the roasted strawberries, I am going to play!!). A classic napoleon. Baked puff pastry layered with a vanilla bean pastry cream and roasted strawberries. Simple and elegant.

Roasted Strawberry Napoleons
Makes 6 servings
Pastry cream recipe lightly adapted from All Recipes

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (I used Pepperidge Farm)

1/2 pint strawberries
2 tablespoons sugar

2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 egg
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

1. Make the pastry cream:
In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk together the milk and 1/4 cup sugar. Place over medium heat and let come to a boil.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, egg, cornstarch, and 1/3 cup sugar. Whisk until everything is well combined and smooth. After the milk has come to a boil, remove from the heat and pour 1/3 of the mixture into the egg/cornstarch mixture. Whisk quickly to combine. Repeat this 2 more times, making sure to whisk continuously. Once all the milk has been added to the egg mixture, pour this new mixture back into the saucepan. Place back on the heat and whisk constantly. After a few minutes, the mixture will begin to thicken up. After the mixture has thickened, remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla bean paste. Pour into a heat-safe container, cover the surface with plastic wrap (this will prevent the pastry cream from forming a skin), and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

2. Roast the strawberries:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Clean the strawberries (if needed) and remove the stems. If your strawberries are big, cut in half or quarters and place in a small mixing bowl. Mine were small (size of a quarter), so I left them whole. Add in 2 tablespoons of sugar and mix well. Pour the strawberries out onto a cookie sheet/jellyroll pan/baking pan (anything that has sides and is big enough that the strawberries are in one layer). Roast for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

3. Bake the puff pastry:
Leaving the oven on at 400 degrees, unfold your puff pastry and lightly roll a rolling pin over it. Cut it into 6 even pieces (I followed the 3 folds/seams, then cut each one in half, width-wise). Place the puff pastry onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet- leaving 2 inches between each one. Bake according to the package directions (mine said 15 minutes). Remove from the oven and let cool.

4. To assemble:
Slice each puff pastry in half, making a top and bottom. Place the bottom piece on a serving plate and top with some of the pastry cream. Spoon on some roasted strawberries (and juice), then top with the puff pastry top. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or dust some powdered sugar on the top. Enjoy!

Puff pastry bottom, topped with pastry cream

Made with love, not calories!

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Remember Friday’s recipe for Armenian Nutmeg Cake? Well, this recipe was the 2nd recipe option for the Daring Bakers’ challenge. We were given 2 recipes, but only required to make and post one of them.

Well, I was intrigued by both recipes, so I made them both!

The Daring Bakers’ April 2012 challenge, hosted by Jason at Daily Candor, were two Armenian standards: nazook and nutmeg cake. Nazook is a layered yeasted dough pastry with a sweet filling, and nutmeg cake is a fragrant, nutty coffee-style cake.

According to the information Jason gave us, vanilla scented nazook is the most common, so that is the filling I made. To help bring out the vanilla flavor, I used vanilla bean paste and vanilla sugar (but pure vanilla extract and regular sugar will work just as well!).

Nazook
Makes: 40 pieces
Prep time: 4 hours (1 hour active, 3 hours resting)     Bake time: 30 minutes

Pastry Dough:
3 cups flour, sifted
1 packet active dry yeast
1 cup sour cream
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

Filling:
1 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups vanilla sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

Egg wash:
1 egg, lightly beaten

Make the pastry dough:
In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, combine the flour and dry yeast. stir to combine. Add in the sour cream and butter and mix on low speed until it is well combined. Switch to the dough hook attachment and continue mixing until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl (you may need to add a little more flour). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours (I left mine overnight).

Make the filling:
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, vanilla sugar, butter, and the vanilla bean paste. Using a fork or a pastry cutter, combine until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Set aside.

To make the nazook:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut into 4 even pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll one of the pieces into a ball, then roll out into a large oval or rectangle. Roll the dough until it is thin, but not transparent (it doesn’t have to be an exact size). Spread 1/4 of the filling on top of the dough, making sure to leave 1/4 inch around the edges. Starting from one of the long sides, begin rolling the dough- making sure the filling stays evenly distributed. Once the dough has been rolled, place it seem side down and flatten it slightly with the palm of your hand. Brush the top of the pastry with the egg wash, then with a sharp knife (or pizza cutter) slice the roll into 10 even pieces. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, leaving about an inch between each pastry.

Repeat with the remaining 3 sections of dough. Bake for 30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Enjoy!

Note: This is a subtle vanilla-flavored pastry. Feel free to add spices or finely chopped nuts to the filling!

Made with love, not calories!

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WHOOPIE!!!

As in hooray! Come on people, behave yourselves!

We celebrated Nick’s birthday the other day, and I asked him what I could bake for him. “You know what I like” was his response.
Now on one hand, this makes things easy. I can choose basically whatever I want to make. On the other hand, this makes things more difficult. There are so many things I could make! I was given no direction (like- “I’d really like a cheesecake”, or “brownies would be great”).

Sigh.

One thing I know he REALLY likes, is cream cheese frosting. So I decided whatever I made, I had to incorporate that. Spice cake and carrot cake both work well with cream cheese frosting, so I decided to make something similar. Apple Spice Whoopie Pies. A slightly spicy batter with grated apples mixed in. I used cake flour instead of all-purpose flour, in order to achieve a more cake-like texture. I also added vanilla bean paste to the frosting for a little more added flavor. The whoopie pies are a delightful combination of flavors, and they were an enjoyable dessert for Nick’s birthday!

Apple Spice Whoopie Pies (with a cream cheese filling)
Makes: 12 whoopie pies
Prep time: 20 minutes     Bake time: 12-13 minutes

1 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup molasses
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup shredded apple, packed
3 cups cake flour
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, molasses, and brown sugar. Cream these items together. Add in eggs and stir to combine. Add in the baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Stir in the grated apple (Note: I used 2 small apples and peeled them before shredding with a box grater. If you don’t have a grater, chop up the apples into very small pieces). Stir in the cake flour until just combined.
Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop dough onto a parchment-paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for 12-13 minutes. Don’t under-bake!
Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, move to cooling racks and let cool completely.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add in the vanilla bean paste (you can substitute vanilla extract), then slowly add in the powdered sugar. Beat the mixture until smooth.

Once the whoopies/cake-cookies/cookie-cakes :) are completely cooled, spoon the cream cheese filling onto the bottoms of 12, then top with the remaining 12. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Dough- hmmm, not the prettiest picture!

Cream cheese frosting!

Question(s) of the day: What’s your favorite flavor of whoopie pie? What’s your favorite birthday dessert?

Made with love, not calories!

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