Posts Tagged 'honey'

Sticky Tahini Date Cookies

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So glad you guys are having fun with my European vacation posts!  I love reminiscing on good times, so am happy to share.  However, before I turn into a travel guide, I thought I’d break it up a bit by going back to my roots and giving you a new treat to bake!

I’ve been eating a lot of hummus of late.  I eat it at home.  I eat it at work.  I eat it down the street from my apartment at a restaurant called – yep – Hummus Place – which is excellent and cheap for any fellow New Yorkers out there!  Hummus with carrots.  Hummus with chips.  Did you know that hummus, avocado and tomato sandwiches are the best things ever?  No?  Well, now you do.

With all the hummus eating going on, I thought I’d try to make my own.  All I needed to add to my pantry was a jar of tahini.  Bought that, made the hummus, ate the hummus, ’twas tasty.

Then I had a nearly full jar of tahini to finish.

You may have noticed by now that any leftover ingredients in my apartment are destined to be featured in a baked good – ahem…Pumpkin BrowniesBanana Coconut Bars…ahem.  So obviously I was off to make tahini cookies.  Isn’t that what you would do?  Since I was recently drooling over giant Barcelona dates, it was only fitting that I toss juicy Medjools into the mix as well.

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Here’s my recipe for Sticky Tahini Date Cookies, adapted from this recipe:

1/2 cup tahini

1/2 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped Medjool dates

1 1/2 cups oats, coarsely processed

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Grease cookie sheets – don’t forget these are sticky cookies!  In a large bowl, combine tahini, honey, vanilla extract and Medjool dates until smooth.  In a separate bowl, mix together oats, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and walnuts.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until well-blended.  Drop spoonfuls of batter onto prepared cookie sheets.  Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on the cookie sheets for a couple minutes before removing to cool completely.  Makes 15 cookies.

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Off topic, but look out the window – isn’t my block cute?

These. are. so. GOOD!  Like surprisingly delicious!  You can definitely taste the sesame seed flavor, and it’s totally enhanced by the cinnamon and vanilla.  I’m already imagining all the things you could add to these cookies – other dried fruits or nuts, flax seed, more spices.  And they’re so nutritious!  Make them now!

Have you ever used tahini when baking something sweet?

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Lemon Honey Corn Muffins

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Summer, summer, summer.  It’s finally here!  I don’t know about your town, but summer in New York took its sweet time to arrive.  It was unusually chilly for far too long and I heard somewhere that it’s rained 75% of the days in June.  Acting out on a little Seattle envy, my dear NY?   

Good news is that it seems warmer days are now upon us.  Hooray!  In an attempt to celebrate the recent summertime glow enveloping the city, I decided to bake a sunny treat.  And to me, sunny means lemon! 

Now I’ll be up front with you here.  I’m not the biggest lemon fan.  Yeah, a nice lemon bar is alright every once in a while, but I’m not really a refreshing treat kind of girl.  I much prefer rich, deep flavors to light, airy ones in my sweets.  So I didn’t go the super sweet route with this recipe.  Instead, I concocted something slightly sweet – a lemon-infused cornbread type of thing.

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Here’s my recipe for Lemon Honey Corn Muffins:

1/4 cup honey

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 (6 ounce) container plain nonfat yogurt

1 egg

1 lemon, juiced and zested

1 cup brown rice flour

1 cup stone ground cornmeal

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 375*F.  Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together honey, applesauce, yogurt, egg, lemon juice and lemon zest until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix brown rice flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Stir the dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just blended. Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes.  Makes 12 muffins.

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These were an interesting twist on traditional cornbread!  I’ve clearly taken a liking to creating recipes like that – as can be seen here and here.  The lemon makes the muffins taste quite fresh and the honey adds just the right amount of sweetness.  Perfect for summer!

What’s your favorite lemon baked goodie?

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Honey Yogurt Cheesecake Bars with Cinnamon Graham Cracker Crusts

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Any cheesecake fans out there? I love the stuff and it always reminds me of two things…

Thing #1 is my mom’s no-bake cheesecake – light and fluffy and so easy to make.  It was a go-to dessert in my house growing up.  My family would top their slices with cherry pie filling, but I always thought – and still do think – that that is SO not the way to go.  No putting fruit on my desserts, no sir.  I’ll take the cheesy goodness all by itself.

Thing #2 is The Cheesecake Factory.  Obvious, yes.  Impersonal, hardly!  I used to LOVE going to Cheesecake.  Hello Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough! My adoration for all things cocoa and PB indeed started at an early age.  Every time we went to TCF, I made sure to save room in my belly to fit a whole slice.  Then I’d roll myself out of the restaurant in a sugary, cheesy, sweet bliss.  Ahh…those were the days.

Anyway, Kristina from Stonyfield Farm recently contacted me to see if I’d like some coupons for free Oikos.  She had spotted me using Greek yogurt back when I made Yogurt Glazed Carrot Cake and thought I might be interested.  Umm…yes please!  I promised to come up with a fun recipe to spotlight my Oikos and – BAM! – cheesecake bars popped right into my mind.  Actually, cheesecake popped in there first, but I don’t have the right pan for that.  So bars it was!

Since Greek yogurt was to play a key role in these cheesecake bars, I let it be my inspiration as well.  I asked myself, what kind of cheesecake bars should I make? Well, I replied – does anyone else have conversations with themselves? what do I like to put in Greek yogurt? Ooh ooh!  I like honey and cinnamon and vanilla… And that’s pretty much how it happened.  Before I knew it, I had created Honey Yogurt Cheesecake Bars with Cinnamon Graham Cracker Crusts.

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Here’s the recipe:

Crust:

1 cup whole wheat graham cracker crumbs*

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cheesecake:

16 ounces Neufchatel cheese

1/2 cup honey

1 egg

1 egg white

1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* I used MI-DEL Honey Grahams to make my crumbs – 100% whole wheat and sweetened with only honey and molasses.

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Spray an 8 x 8-inch pan with cooking spray.  To make the crust, combine graham cracker crumbs, canola oil, honey and cinnamon until well-moistened.  Press mixture into prepared pan and bake for about 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.  To make the cheesecake, beat together Neufchatel cheese and honey until well blended.  Add egg and beat well.  Add egg white and beat well.  Add Greek yogurt and vanilla extract and beat well.  Pour mixture on top of graham cracker crust.  Bake for 40-45 minutes.  Let cool and refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving.  Makes 16 bars.

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These cheesecake bars were uber cheesy and creamy and subtly sweet.  I enjoyed my bites with a bit of honey drizzled on top – just like in the pics!  Next time I might even add extra honey to the batter.  Yum!

Have you ever baked with Greek yogurt? How do you like to use it?

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Honey

624785_29980377You know sugar never ever was so sweet…

Honey was the first unrefined sweetener I ever used in baking.  I still consider it my favorite to this day.  And it’s not because of the nostalgia factor.  It’s because honey is awesome.

Honey is a liquid sweetener produced naturally by honey bees and derived from the nectar of flowers.  The human hunt for honey began at least 10,000 years ago.  We know so because there’s a Mesolithic rock painting on a cave in Valencia, Spain that shows two hunters collecting honey and honeycomb from a wild nest.  Honey went on for centuries to be regarded as sacred because of its sweetness and rarity.  I know I still bow down to the honey gods.  You?

The honey-making process begins when bees – 20,000-40,000 of them per hive! – collect sugary flower nectar in their mouths.  They may travel up to 55,000 miles and visit more than two million flowers to gather enough nectar for just one pound of honey.  I wish I had that kind of endurance!  This nectar then mixes with special enzymes in the bees’ saliva and – voila! – it’s transformed into honey. Back in the hive, bees deposit the honey into wax cells that line the walls – the honeycomb – and flutter their wings to evaporate excess nectar water and make the honey sticky sweet.  Oh, and the honeycomb?  They make that too.  Ever hear the phrase “busy as a bee”?!  When all is said and done, the honey is removed from the hive by a beekeeper.  And to market it goes!

There are 300 unique kinds of honey in the United States.  Wowza.  They range in color from white to amber to red to brown to black.  In general, the lighter colors have a mild flavor and the darker colors are more robust. Polyfloral honey – aka wildflower honey – is made from the nectar of many types of flowers.  Monofloral honeys – like clover, orange blossom, tupelo – are made from the nectar of one type of flower.  They have the most distinctive color and flavor. The honey you find in your regular old grocery store – the one in that cute little bear jar – is a blended honey, which means it’s a mixture of two or more different kinds.  You can read up on some different honeys here

If you don’t think honey is cool by now, I should also tell you that it contains a wide array of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Hello antioxidants!

In baking, I substitute about 3/4 cup honey for 1 cup sugar.  Honey is sweeter, so you can use less!  I also reduce the other liquid in the recipe and add a bit extra baking soda.  “Experts” are very precise and say to reduce liquid by 1/4 cup and add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for each cup honey.  But I just go with whatever seems to be a nice, rounded amount for the recipe I’m using.  They also say to reduce the oven temperature by 25*F to prevent over-browning, but I only do this if I’m feelin’ it.  So reckless, I know.

Fun tip – Coat your measuring cup with non-stick cooking spray before adding the honey.  It’ll be way easier to get out!

What’s your favorite way to use honey in baking?

Peanut Butter Apple Muffins: Take II

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Ladies and gentlemen…we have a winner!

Remember my Peanut Butter Apple Muffins from last week?  They did not live up to my expectations, so I wasn’t totally pleased.  They needed more peanut butter tastiness.  They needed more sweetness.  But I saw potential in their little muffin crumbs.  I knew they wanted me to be proud of them.  They just needed some help getting there.  And I was determined to provide that help. 

After a baking brainstorm and reading all of your suggestions – thank you! – I formed a plan of attack.  I’d use honey instead of Sucanat.  And I’d swiiiiirl the peanut butter into the batter once it was already in the tins.  To keep the flavor alive! 

Ready, set, GO!

Well, when it came down to it, I made a game-time decision that I believe took these muffins to the right place.  Instead of swirling the PB, I just plopped a glob right into the middle of each muffin.  You gotta go with what you’re feeling, you know?  And I was feeling the glob.  Kristie suggested this and she was right on.

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So here you go peeps.  The new and improved Peanut Butter Apple Muffins:

1/2 cup honey

2 egg whites

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups chopped apples

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

Preheat the oven to 325*F.  Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together honey, egg whites, unsweetened applesauce and vanilla extract until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix white whole wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just blended. Stir in chopped apples.  Pour half of the batter into 10 muffin wells from the prepared pan.   Place a glob of peanut butter in the middle of each.  Top with remaining batter.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Makes 10 muffins.

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See the creamy line of peanut butter running through the muffin?  THAT’S what I’m talking about!

These muffins are what I was going for the first time around.  Chunky apples, cinnamon spices, subtle sweetness.  And enough PB to make them stick to the roof of your mouth.  I am now pleased.

Have you ever re-worked a recipe to make it better?

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Crumbly Peanut Butter Oat Bars

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I let you all in on my deep love for chocolate right from the get go, so it’s only fair that I now share my second, though by no means less significant, obsession.

Peanut butter.

Ohh…peanut butter.  I eat it everyday.  At least twice a day.  I smear it on apples, bananas and celery.  I drizzle it over yogurt and my morning bowl of oats.  I spread it on slices of toasty bread and freshly made pancakes.  I eat it straight up from the jar.  You may think I’d tire of the nutty treat, but no.  You may ask, why don’t I give other nut butters a chance?  Switch it up a bit!  Oh, believe you me, I’ve tried branching out – almond butter, cashew butter, etc.  But nothing beats the original PB.  I heart you PB.

Clearly, it was only a matter of time before peanut butter made an appearance on this blog.  It was just waiting for the right inspiration.  And then that inspiration came.  And so I made Crumbly Peanut Butter Oat Bars.

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I love the combination of peanut butter and oats, so I was really excited about making these bars.  Here’s the recipe:

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

1/3 cup honey

2/3 cup oats

2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup turbinado sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons skim milk

Preheat the oven to 325*F. Spray an 8 x 8-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a bowl, stir together peanut butter and honey.  In a separate bowl, mix together oats, whole wheat pastry flour, turbinado sugar, salt and baking powder.  Drizzle canola oil and milk over oat mixture.  Mix with a fork until evenly moistened and crumbly.  Set aside 1/2 cup for topping and press the remaining oat mixture into the prepared pan.  Spread peanut butter mixture over the top – I microwaved it first to make this easier.  Sprinkle reserved oat mixture over peanut butter mixture.  Bake for about 25 minutes.

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OMG.  Peanut butter goodness!  The top of the bars are perfectly crumbly and the peanut butter middle is deliciously sweet and gooey and oozing with rich peanut butter flavor.  SO.  GOOD.

Since there are oats in there, I can eat these for breakfast, right?  Right?

Do you have a favorite peanut butter baked treat?

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Spiced Pumpkin Honey Muffins

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The second November hits, I’m counting down to Thanksgiving. Literally – I have a T-giving countdown calendar on my Google homepage. It has a very festive orange and yellow and green leaf motif. And right now, it’s telling me there are 21 days, 1 hour, 53 minutes, and 48…47…46… seconds til the big day. I love Google homepage. And countdown calendars.

In my mind, Thanksgiving marks the official kick-off to the holiday season – my favorite time of year. It evokes thoughts of fallen leaves crunching beneath my shoes, comfy scarves, spending time with family and big dinners with all the fixin’s. I’m smiling just thinking about it!

To get myself in the spirit this year, I set out my honeycomb turkey decoration. Because that’s classy. And then I baked some pumpkin muffins!

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These Spiced Pumpkin Honey Muffins are one of my favorite things to bake and one of my family and friends’ favorite things to eat! I adapted this recipe, and now they’re whole grain and practically fat free. Major swaps include using white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, applesauce instead of oil and egg whites instead of whole eggs. And I upped the spices, because I’m a spicy gal.

The best change though is replacing the white sugar with honey. Not only does honey keep this a whole-foods-only muffin, but it adds a depth of flavor and keeps the muffins extra, extra moist – even without any oil. And guess what I recently learned? Honey bees pollinate pumpkins! Pumpkin farmers actually keep honey bee hives nearby to make sure they’re always around to help their crop grow. So obviously, pumpkin and honey are a match made in the pumpkin patch.

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Here’s my recipe:

1/2 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree

3 egg whites

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 cup honey

1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 350*F. Spray muffin pans with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, egg whites, applesauce and honey until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix white whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

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I just ate that one. It was even yummier than I remember.

What’s your favorite thing to make to feel all Thanksgiving-y inside?

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