Posts Tagged 'turbinado sugar'

Peanut Butter + Jelly Bars

 

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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…

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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.

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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?

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Thumbprints

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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!

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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.

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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?  

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Turbinado Sugar

sugar-1Agave nectar, maple syrup, honey – really great unrefined sweeteners to use in baking.  All definitely favorites of mine.  But sometimes a liquid sweetener just isn’t the best way to go.  It’s times like these I turn to turbinado sugar.

Turbinado sugar is an unrefined sugar made from sugar cane extract.  To produce it, freshly cut sugar cane is crushed to squeeze out its juice.  The juice is then evaporated and spun in a centrifuge, or turbine – hence the name – where the characteristic large crystals are born.  This process keeps the sugar cane together from start to finish, so in the end, many of vitamins and minerals and natural molasses flavor it contains stay put.

Turbinado sugar is sometimes compared to brown sugar because of its light bronze color and rich coating of sweet molasses.  Like brown sugar, it also tends to hold more moisture – which means moister baked goods for you!  But whereas turbinado sugar’s golden hue and molasses layer are naturally occurring, brown sugar’s are…man-made!  Brown sugar is actually just refined white sugar that has color and flavor added back to it.  Sneaky.

Sugar in the Raw is a widely known brand of turbinado sugar and Wholesome Sweeteners makes one too.  When baking with turbinado sugar, I just substitute it for equal parts refined white or brown sugar.  You can sometimes tell the difference, but in a good way!

Have you ever baked with turbinado sugar?

Crystallized Ginger Cookies

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Christmas tiiiime is heeeeeere.

A little Charlie Brown Christmas anyone?  I totally grew up on that movie.  My parents still have the VHS – yup, you heard me, VHS – in their film collection.  And my mom gets super excited when it’s on TV each year.  It’s like network television’s sign that Christmas has arrived.  And we all know that network television is the calendar of the modern age.

Anyway, I LOVE Christmas and was really excited to start getting some Christmas baking business up on the blog.  Since Andrea over at bella eats [and runs] chose ginger as this week’s BSI, what better way to welcome the holiday cheer than to spice up a traditional Christmas ginger cookie!  I adapted this recipe and doubled the ginger fun by adding crystallized ginger to the mix.  And there you have it!  Crystallized Ginger Cookies.

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Here’s the recipe:

1/2 cup turbinado sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons skim milk

2 tablespoons molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 cup crystallized ginger, chopped*

* I used crystallized ginger that was made with raw unrefined sugar.

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  In a large bowl, cream together sugar and oil.  Add skim milk, molasses and vanilla and blend.  In a separate bowl, mix together whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.  Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and blend.  Stir in crystallized ginger.  Dough will be sticky, so you can refrigerate for 15 minutes or so to make it easier to work with.  Roll heaping tablespoons into balls, flatten to about 1/3 of an inch and place on cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Let stand two minutes and remove to cool.  Makes 14 cookies.

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These cookies are super soft and super SPICY.  The crystallized ginger really gives them an extra kick!  If you’re a ginger fan, you’d love them.  I do think next time I’ll throw an egg into the batter though – I’d like a little more crispy action around the edges!

Do you have a fun ginger cookie recipe?

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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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Espresso Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Mmmmm…the aroma, the flavor of coffee.  Cozy warmth on a cold morning.  The end of a long and delicious meal.  The perfect pairing for a freshly baked doughnut, still hot from the oven.

Ok…I have a confession to make.  I actually don’t drink coffee.  I’m one of those people who love the smell, but not the taste – it’s too bitter for me.  But I’m always intrigued by the coffee-chocolate combo and wanted to give it a whirl in cookie form.

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Before baking my Espresso Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies, I found a recipe that looked like a reliable base.  To make it Sweet + Natural, I subbed whole wheat pastry flour for all-purpose and turbinado sugar for white and brown.  To make it Espresso Almond, I added some ground coffee and chopped almonds to the mix.  Oh, and because I don’t drink coffee, I don’t have it tucked away in my pantry and didn’t want to buy a whole container if it wasn’t going to be used.  So I snuck some home from the office.  Shhhhh.

Here’s how the recipe ended up:

2/3 cup turbinado sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 tablespoon ground coffee

2/3 cup grain sweetened chocolate chips

1/3 cup chopped almonds

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  In a large bowl, cream together sugar and oil.  Beat in egg.  Add vanilla and blend.  Add dry ingredients in order, mixing after each.  Dough will be sticky, so refrigerate for 30 minutes or so to make it easier to work with.  Roll heaping tablespoons into balls, flatten to 1/3 of an inch, and place on cookie sheet.  Bake for about 8 minutes.  Let stand two minutes and remove to cool.  Makes 16 cookies.

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See the little coffee specks!  How cute.  The dough was totally brown before going into the oven, so I thought the cookies would be too.  But they morphed in there and came out cookie colored and flecked.  Magical.

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These Espresso Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies are really yummy!  Even as a non-coffee lover, I really enjoyed the depth of flavor the ground coffee brought to the table.  It seemed to make the chocolate taste even richer.  And they were perfectly soft on the inside with a slightly crispy edge – just the way I like my cookies! – and stayed that way for days.  The only thing I may change up in the future is trying a more finely ground unrefined sugar.  Turbinado is what I had on hand, but since its sugar crystals are larger than regular sugar crystals, they added a bit of texture to the cookies.  Not bad at all, but I’m curious how it would turn out with another type.  Any suggestions?

What’s your favorite flavor to make mingle with coffee?

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