Posts Tagged 'nutmeg'

Pumpkin Brownies

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I found myself with a whole lot of of pumpkin to use up the other day – remains from the giant-sized can I was forced to buy when my grocery store ran out of cans for normal-sized people.  What else is a girl to do but purchase enough squash for a small army when pumpkin pancakes are on the mind?  I promised myself I’d bake something with the leftovers.  And so here I am!

There’s obviously LOADS you can do with pumpkin, but I wanted to get creative.  Actually, what I really wanted was a brownie.  But I couldn’t forgo the pumpkin mountain in my fridge to fulfill my chocolate-y desires.  How utterly wasteful that would be.

Then it hit me. Pumpkin. Brownies. Half fudgy brownie.  Half dense, pumpkin-y delight.  I was so very excited about my highly original, super fun, and simply ingenious idea. Then I found out Martha Stewart had already done it.   Of course she had.

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Not to be outdone by the diva homemaker, I set out to put my own twist on the pumpkin brownie idea.  And twist it I did!  Along with performing my standard Sweet + Natural adaptations to Martha’s recipe – whole wheat pastry flour for all-purpose, Sucanat for sugar, etc. – I made a bunch of other changes to ensure I got exactly what I was looking for.  Added some extra spice to the pumpkin…used a bigger pan…but most importantly, eliminated the baking powder.  Martha’s brownie pics look too much like cake, right?  Now, I have nothing against cake.  Unless it’s trying to pose for a brownie.  In that case, believe you me, I will not be fooled.  I want fudge, not fluff.  No baking powder = lower rise = density-dense flavor-packed yumminess.  Yes.

Here’s my take on Pumpkin Brownies:

Base mixture:

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cup Sucanat

4 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Chocolate mixture:

6 ounces grain sweetened chocolate chips

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Pumpkin mixture:

1 1/4 cup pumpkin

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon ginger

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Spray an 11×7-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.  For the base mixture, mix together whole wheat pastry flour and salt in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix together Sucanat, eggs and vanilla until well-combined.  Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until blended.  Divide this mixture into two bowls.  For chocolate mixture, melt chocolate chips and oil in a bowl.  Stir into one half of the base mixture.  (Note: If batter feels dry, just steal some base mixture from the remaining half and add it in.  I found the chocolate batter to be drier than the pumpkin batter, so this is totally cool to do.  The pumpkin batter is very generous and will not hold it against you.)  For pumpkin mixture, combine pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger in a bowl.  Stir into other half of base mixture.  Spread chocolate batter evenly into prepared pan.  Top with pumpkin batter.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Makes 24 brownies.

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Success!  The no baking soda idea did the trick in making these Pumpkin Brownies brownies and not cakey, chocolate-and-pumpkin flavored squares.  They were indeed the fudgy, dense, pumpkin-y delights I set out to achieve.  They also just so happen to be orange and black – quite fitting for the upcoming Halloween holiday, wouldn’t you say?

What’s the most interesting brownie you’ve ever eaten?

P.S. After mentioning it in my last post, I’ve had a request to share my European vacation with you all. Now I know such a trip is totally unrelated to Sweet + Natural baking, but I’m highly tempted to oblige – mostly because I love reliving it! Would you guys be interested?

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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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Blueberry Coconut Oaties

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I’m a HUGE fan of oats.

I eat them for breakfast nearly every morning.  To me, a big bowl of oats is a blank palate, a warm and fluffy vehicle for yummy mix-ins.  Cinnamon’s always there.  Mashed banana and peanut butter are definitely favorites.  Berries, pumpkin, walnuts – all super tasty.  Mmm…what’s not to love about oats?

And what’s not to love about oatmeal cookies?!  The good ol’ standard version is chock full of raisins.  But I look at oatmeal cookies the same way I look at my big bowl of oats.  Just waiting to live up to their true potential.  The kind of potential that can only be fulfilled by those scrumptious additions.

These Blueberry Coconut Oaties were inspired by my daily oats.  Dried blueberries and coconut were the mix-ins of choice this time around, but feel free to put your own little twist on them.  You can do whatever you like!

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Here’s my recipe, adapted from this recipe:

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup Sucanat

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 cups oats

3/4 cup dried blueberries*

3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

* I used dried blueberries sweetened with fruit juice.

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  In a large bowl, mix together canola oil, Sucanat, egg and vanilla extract until well blended.  In a separate bowl, mix together whole wheat pastry flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and oats.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until blended. Stir in blueberries and coconut. Note: Dough will be sticky, so it may be easier to work with if you refrigerate it for 30 minutes or so. Roll heaping tablespoons into balls, flatten to about 1/3 of an inch and place on cookie sheet.  Bake for 6-8 minutes.  Makes 18 cookies.

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Blueberry wrinkles!

These cookies were deliciously oaty!  There’s chewiness from the oats.  There’s juiciness from the blueberries.  And when coconut joins the party, it definitely ups the fun factor.  Throw in some spicy cinnamon and nutmeg and you’ve got yourself a wonderfully wholesome treat.

What’s your favorite oatmeal cookie mix-in?

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Carrot Cake + Yogurt Glaze

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I love visiting my family in St. Louis for lots of reasons…I get to see mom, dad, brother and sister – and dog and cat!  The lazy suburbs are a nice break from the constant go-go-go of New York City.  I get to spread myself out over an entire house rather than a teeny apartment. And I get to bake for a whole group of people instead of just myself!

This last point, my friends, is a very important one.  You see, it’s just me and my roommate at home in NY.   And since she’s not a big fan of sweets – I know, what?! – and I probably shouldn’t eat ALL of what I make by myself, I’ve got to spread the wealth of my oven around to Dan and my friends to make sure every last goody is eaten while it’s still deliciously fresh.  This is where the practical girl in me takes over.  I tend to shy away from baking things that aren’t easily dividable and transportable – it’s always cookies and muffins instead of cakes and pies.  Baking for the family in St. Louis, these little details are non-issues.  Freedom!

So…you can imagine my excitement when I asked my sister what she wanted for our Christmas Eve dessert and she replied without hesitation – carrot cake!  A CAKE!  Hooray!  Apparently she has recently discovered a special fondness towards carrot cake and her college winter break would not be complete without it.  Fine by me!  But I wanted to do a little something different, of course, so I topped the cake with a yogurt glaze instead of the traditional cream cheese frosting.  And to make sure the cake really soaked up that glaze, I poked holes all over it and let the yogurty sweetness ooze in.  I also did a bit of lightening up by using applesauce instead of oil and egg whites instead of some whole eggs.

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Here’s my Yogurt Glazed Carrot Cake recipe, adapted from Baking With Agave Nectar‘s carrot cake:

Cake:

3 cups grated carrots

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

3/4 cup agave nectar

2 eggs

2 egg whites

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

Yogurt Glaze:

1 1/2 cups plain nonfat Greek yogurt

1/2 cup agave nectar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Line two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together carrots, coconut, agave nectar, eggs, egg whites, applesauce and vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl, mix together whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until well blended.  Pour batter into prepared cake pans.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Let cool in pans. 

While cakes are cooling, prepare yogurt glaze by mixing together Greek yogurt, agave nectar, vanilla extract and salt.  Once cakes cool, poke holes in them using a fork and remove from pans.  Drizzle half of yogurt glaze over cake #1 and sprinkle with half of the walnuts.  Place cake #2 on top of cake #1.  Drizzle remaining glaze over cake and sprinkle with remaining walnuts.  Note: You may want to do this over a wire cooling rack with something underneath to catch the dripping glaze.  Makes for easier clean up! 

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The tip of a cake slice is the best part!

The cake got the approval of the fam!  It was perfectly spiced and super moist, especially where the yogurt glaze seeped into the poked holes.  And that glaze complemented the cake wonderfully.  It was nice and light but still flavorful – I actually thought it tasted a lot like cream cheese!

Are you a carrot cake fan?  What’s your favorite baked good with a vegetable star?  

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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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