Posts Tagged 'non-hydrogenated shortening'

Peanut Butter + Jelly Bars

 

cimg2680-1

A good PB+J was hands-down my favorite childhood sandwich.  What’s not to love? Creamy, sticky peanut butter.  Sweet, fruity jam.  We were a Jif and white bread family.  And I always went for the grape jelly.  Unless there was a jar of my grandma’s homemade strawberry preserves in the fridge.  Smucker’s just can’t compete with that.

Throughout elementary school, the only sandwich I’d allow my mom to pack in my lunchbox was a PB+J.  By the time noon rolled around, it had inevitably gotten squished inside its Ziploc bag due to rough contact with a juice box or an apple.  Wonder Bread’s not really known for their sturdy slices after all. But I LOVED the squishing.  It turned my sandwich into a PB+J pancake – flavors mashed together, jelly oozing out the bread pores.  I loved it so much that I began to do some deliberate sandwich squishing.  When my packed sandwich wasn’t squished enough.  When I ate at home with no opportunity for naturally-occurring lunchbox squishing.  I thought I was genius.  Still think so.

My peanut butter and jelly taste has matured over the years.  Though I still partake in squishing from time to time, my current PB+J of choice is made with whole wheat bread, natural peanut butter and honey.  Much healthier and deliciously satisfying.  I’m still a huge fan.  So when Hayley suggested I make some PB+J bars, I was all over it.  She directed me to Ina Garten’s recipe, I made it Sweet + Natural and here you go…

cimg2687-1

My version of Peanut Butter + Jelly Bars:

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening

3/4 cup turbinado sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 cup natural peanut butter

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup 100% fruit strawberry jam

Preheat the oven to 350*F. Spray an 8 x 8-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.  In a large bowl, cream shortening and turbinado sugar for about 2 minutes.  Add vanilla extract, egg and peanut butter and blend until well-combined.  In a separate bowl, mix together whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and blend until just combined.  Spread 2/3 of dough into prepared pan.  Top with jam.  Drop globs of remaining dough evenly over jam.  Bake for about 45 minutes.  Makes 16 bars.

cimg2684-1

Why yes, that is gooey peanut butter and jelly goodness!

These bars rocked.  Perfectly peanut buttery and the jelly melted right into the cookie-ish layer.  No squishing necessary!  Be forewarned though…they may be made with natural and wholesome ingredients, but they are definitely a rich indulgence.  I’m already thinking about making a lighter version sometime in the near future…

Do you have a soft spot for PB+J? Have you ever made a peanut butter and jelly treat?

cimg2683-1

 

Black Bean Brownies

cimg2612-1

I promised you all a “fun – and very interesting – chocolate treat” on Valentine’s Day.  So it’s about time I deliver on that promise, don’t you think?!

I’ve been eyeing this recipe for nearly a year.  Every since I bought Baking With Agave Nectar and flipped through its pages “ooh-ing” and “ohh-ing” at all the yummiest sounding goodies.  There were a lot of those.  But one recipe in particular stood out for its novelty.  I was intrigued.  Being the curious cat that I am, I knew I had to give it a go. 

That’s how this Valentine’s Day became Black Bean Brownie Day.  Yep, you heard me.  Black bean.  Brownie.  Romantic, no?

cimg2604-1

Here’s the recipe.  Besides halving it and using non-hydrogenated shortening instead of butter, I followed everything to a tee.  I may be an experimenter, but baking with black beans was a totally new experience for me.  Figured it would be best to go with the creator’s vision for this one!

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening

1 cup cooked black beans

1/2 cup walnuts

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons instant coffee

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

3/4 cup agave nectar

Preheat the oven to 325*F.  Spray a 12×8-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside. Melt unsweetened chocolate and non-hydrogenated shortening in a bowl in the microwave for about 2 minutes on high. Stir with spoon to melt chocolate completely. Place black beans, 1/4 cup walnuts, vanilla extract and a couple spoonfuls of the melted chocolate mixture into a food processor and blend until smooth.  In a large bowl, mix together remaining 1/4 cup walnuts, remaining melted chocolate mixture, instant coffee and salt. Add bean/chocolate mixture to coffee/chocolate mixture and stir until well blended.  In a separate bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Add agave nectar and beat well. Add egg mixture to chocolate mixture, reserving about 1/4 cup, and mix well. Pour batter into prepared pan.  Beat remaining 1/4 cup egg mixture with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Drizzle over brownie batter. Use a wooden toothpick to pull egg mixture through batter, creating a marbled effect. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan before cutting into squares.

cimg2610-1

Fuuuuudgy!

So here’s my two cents on these brownies…

They’ve definitely got the chocolate-y fudge factor going on – a brownie requirement in my book.  And you can’t beat the stellar ingredient list.  You’d never guess beans are a key player!   And no flour?!  No way!

But there are a couple things I’d change next time around.  I wouldn’t do the whole egg and agave swirl.  I can only imagine this is for looks and the marbled visual effect faded away after a day. So just adding all the egg and agave into the batter at once seems fine with me.  I’d cut out some instant coffee because that flavor stood out too much for me.  I’m not a coffee fan, remember?  And I’d un-halve the recipe, but use the same size pan.  I say the thicker the better!

Overall though, cool recipe.  Good times.

What’s the most unusual ingredient you’ve used in a baked good?

cimg2606-2

Non-Hydrogenated Butter Substitute + Shortening

gourmet-butter-1In attempting to make my baked goods as wholesome and nutritious as possible, I do what I can to avoid butter. It’s not that butter isn’t all natural, but it does have quite a bit of saturated fat and cholesterol – and every little bit counts when trying to healthify a sweet treat! So instead, I try to look for or create recipes that use vegetable oil – much lower in saturated fat and no cholesterol – for the fat.  This usually works great.

But sometimes a solid fat is better for what you’re making.  In baking, solid fats – like butter – can do things liquid fats – like oil – can’t.  They hold air bubbles when beaten and set back up again after being heated and getting melty in an oven.  These properties affect the texture of your baked goods and are the reason most experts don’t recommended substituting a liquid fat for a solid fat and vice versa.

So when only a solid fat will do, I go for a non-hydrogenated butter substitute or shortening.  They’re lower in saturated fat than butter and are completely free of cholesterol.  Awesome.  But “non-hydrogenated” is the really special part. Most butter substitutes or shortenings are made with partially hydrogenated oil, which is just code for trans fat.   “Non-hydrogenated” means these guys have zero trans fat.  Whoo hoo!

I’ve had great results with Earth Balance products.  They make vegan buttery sticks and natural shortening sticks.  Both are made from a blend of soybean, palm, canola and olive oils – the buttery sticks just have additional flavorings to make them taste…buttery!  Spectrum also makes a non-hydrogenated shortening from palm oil.  That one comes in a tub.

Do you have a favorite butter substitute?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Thumbprints

cimg2474-1

I heart chocolate.

I heart peanut butter.

I know, I know, we all know this by now.

Lucky for me, my favorite holiday treat combines these two loves – Peanut Butter Blossoms.  You know the ones.  The crumbly, peanut buttery cookie with the sweet sugar coating and slightly melted chocolate kiss pressed right into the top.  YUM.  They’re on my Grandma’s cookie platter every holiday season and are always the ones I grab the second I walk in her door Christmas day. After giving her a big hug of course!

Fun fact – Peanut Butter Blossoms were the Pillsbury Bake-Off winner in 1957.  Hoo hoo!

cimg2503-1

Here’s my adapted recipe:

1/4 cup non-hydrogenated shortening

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

1/3 cup turbinado sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon skim milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup white whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup grain sweetened chocolate chips

2 tablespoons natural peanut butter

Preheat the oven to 375*F.  In a large bowl, beat together shortening and 1/2 cup peanut butter until well blended.  Add turbinado sugar and beat until fluffy.  Beat in egg, milk and vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl, mix together white whole wheat flour, baking soda and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and blend until combined. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on cookie sheet.  Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each dough ball.  Bake for about 8 minutes.  Note: You may need to press the indent in again when the cookies come out of the oven.  Mine stubbornly popped up a bit in there!  While the cookies are cooling, melt together chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons peanut butter.  Fill cookie indents with melty goodness.  Makes 20 cookies.

cimg2480-1

They’re so cute!  Like little buttons.

These cookies are so soft!  And the chocolate-peanut butter filling is sort of truffly in texture once it cools.  It wasn’t all that peanut buttery though.  I think next time I’ll up the peanut butter to chip ratio or just melt the chocolate chips themselves to make the filling.

Do you have a favorite memory of Peanut Butter Blossom cookies?  

cimg2491-1


Contact

ashley.sweetandnatural@gmail.com

Follow me on Twitter!


Quantcast

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 122 other followers