Posts Tagged 'walnuts'

Sticky Tahini Date Cookies

DSC_0597_2_2

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.

DSC_0594_2_2

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.

DSC_0608_2_2

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?

DSC_0598_2_2

Walnut Chocolate Chip Spelt Cookies

cimg2745-1

I finally did it.

I jumped on the Dreena Burton bandwagon! And let me just say how happy I am to be here. The woman is a genius I tell you.

It’s not like I was avoiding Dreena and her recipes. She’s ALL over the blog world, and I’ve done my fair share of oohing and ahhing over her creations. But I’m careful with my pennies and always felt I should make more use of the cookbooks I have before purchasing new ones. I guess that belief slipped my mind when I saw eat, drink + be vegan at the bookstore the other day. I knew I had to have it. So into my collection it went!

The first ed+bv recipe I set my sights on was for the infamous Super-Charge Me! Cookies. OMG – they were like little balls of nutritious crack. I would have loved to share them with you all, but since Dreena hadn’t posted the recipe on her site, no dice! So to celebrate my newfound Dreena love, I found another one of her cookie recipes that was on the internet to modify and write about.

cimg2733-1

Oh, and wouldn’t you know, Dreena posted the Super-Charge Me! Cookie recipe this week? Go figure!  Or go make them.  You won’t regret it.

Anyway…

Here’s the recipe I followed to make Walnut Chocolate Chip Spelt Cookies:

1 cup spelt flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup Sucanat

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup grain sweetened chocolate chips

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350*F. In a large bowl, mix together spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda, Sucanat and salt. In a separate bowl, stir together maple syrup, molasses, vanilla extract and canola oil until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts. Place spoonfuls of batter on cookie sheets and bake for 10-11 minutes. Makes 12 cookies.

cimg2747-1

These cookies were YUM! After tasting my Maple Almond Butter Cookies and these, I am convinced that maple syrup = cookie perfection. It really adds a depth of flavor and keeps cookies wonderfully moist and gooey. Seriously, that stuff’s not just for pancakes.

The only thing I’d change about this recipe next time around is leaving the molasses out. I’m not buying that 1/4 teaspoon is making a huge difference when spread throughout 12 cookies. I mean, really, that’s 1/48 teaspoon in 1 cookie. You know? Other than that, A+.

What’s your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe?

cimg2743-1

Walnut Molasses Whole Wheat Bread

cimg2700-1
Friends, I am EXCITED.
There was a new development in the Sweet + Natural kitchen last weekend that makes me so happy!  I’m pleased, I’m proud, I’m itching to get back in there and do it again.
What on earth could bring such delight to my baking life?
I made my first loaf of homemade bread!
Wheeeee! Yep, we’re talking yeast, we’re talking kneading, we’re talking rising.  And whole grains of course.  I got in there with my electric hand mixer’s special hook and went at the dough until it was shiny and smooth.  I waited patiently for hours until it doubled in size.  I shaped the loaf.  And I relished in the wheaty goodness that emerged from my oven.  I am now legit, no?
This was such a fun accomplishment for me.  Bread from scratch has been on my list-of-things-to-bake forever, but I’ve always made excuses to avoid making anything with yeast.  It takes so long!  What if something messed it up?  Would my hours of effort be fruitless? I guess I just never had the patience – or extra time! – to devote a chunk of my day to an attempt.  Well, I found myself with that extra time one afternoon and figured it was as good a chance as any to give it a go.
With this recipe and my King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book (courtesy of Dan’s sister – thanks Kate!) by my side, I was ready to go.
cimg2695-1
Here’s the recipe I followed to make Walnut Molasses Whole Wheat Bread:
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 tablespoons molasses
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and mix until moistened and combined. Cover dough, let rest for 20 minutes then knead until fairly smooth (I did this in the bowl with the dough hook of my electric hand mixer for about 15 minutes). Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 to 2 hours, or until puffy and nearly doubled in bulk.  Gently deflate the dough, shape into a log and place in an 8  x 4-inch bread pan sprayed with cooking spray. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow dough to rise for about 1 hour, until it’s crowned about 1 inch over the rim of the pan.  Bake in a preheated 350*F oven for 45 minutes, tenting loaf lightly with aluminum foil for the final 20 minutes of baking.
cimg2696-1
It looks like real bread!  And tastes like it too!
Let me tell you, I was thrilled to look in the oven halfway through baking and see a monstrously tall crust growing from the pan.  It’s working! And I was even more thrilled when I cut into the loaf to reveal it’s crumby insides.  It’s dense, but soft.  Subtly sweet.  And has a slight crunch when you get a walnut bite.  It may not the prettiest looking thing – I like to think of it as “rustic” – but it’s mine all mine.
Have you ever baked bread from scratch?  How’d it go for you?

cimg2692-1

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

Carrot Cake + Yogurt Glaze

cimg0929-1

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.

cimg0927

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! 

cimg0918-1

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?  

cimg0943-1

Cinnamon Walnut Brownies

img_04643

There’s something I think I should state up front.  If I’m going to be blogging about baking and sweets and deliciousness, it’s best to just get it out in the open now.

I love chocolate.

I mean, I. LOVE. chocolate.  I’m notorious for it.  So much so that when planning my birthday dinner last year, my boyfriend immediately rejected a restaurant if it didn’t list a chocolate dessert on the menu.  So much so that my mom once bought me a page-a-day calendar featuring photos of chocolate, facts about chocolate, quotes about chocolate.  So much so that I kept every one of those calendar pages I tore off.  Hey, you never know when I might need to remember that the largest slab of fudge was made in Canada and weighed 5050 pounds.  Or when I might want to make a giant collage o’ chocolate photos.  They could come in handy.

It is only fitting then that my first blog baked good be made of chocolate.  And what chocolate treat is better than a brownie!  If you couldn’t guess from the image in my header, brownies and I have a secret love affair.  Mmmmm.  And so I bring to you, Cinnamon Walnut Brownies.

img_0486-15

I used this as my inspiration but made a number of adjustments based on what I had on hand and where I wanted to take the recipe.  Namely, adding cinnamon to the mix and thus giving the brownies their namesake.  Here’s how mine ended up:

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup agave nectar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Spray an 8 x 8-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.  In one bowl, mix whole wheat pastry flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, whisk together agave nectar, oil and vanilla.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  Fold in walnuts.  Spread into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes.

Believe it or not, this was my first attempt at healthifying – it’s in the a dictionary – a brownie recipe.  Brownies are sacred in my book – I like them dense and fudgy and insanely rich and don’t even try to give me anything less and say it’s a brownie.  So I guess I was a bit intimidated at the prospect of replicating that perfection with more wholesome ingredients.  My Cinnamon Walnut Brownies aren’t quite there yet, but they definitely have potential.  Next time around, I’ll try baking them for 15 minutes or maybe lowering the oven temperature to 325*F to make them as gooey as brownie-ly – ok, that one’s not in the dictionary – possible.  And I’ll for sure double the cinnamon and halve the vanilla to up the spice factor and let the cinnamon shine.  That flavor was a bit too subtle for what I was going for.

There you have it!  My first Sweet + Natural treat.  Do you have a favorite healthy brownie recipe? If so, do share!  But don’t forget my criteria…

img_0473-11


Contact

ashley.sweetandnatural@gmail.com

Follow me on Twitter!


Quantcast