Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

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There are only a few recipe sources that I always trust. 1) My mom, 2) Cook’s Illustrated, and finally Ina Garten.

When I was first learning to really cook, I was cooking dinners with friends once a week, and our meals typically featured Ina’s recipes. And they never turned out bad. As the years went on, I started cooking and realized that her recipes have a higher success rate than just the typical recipe you see.

I have enjoyed watching her new shows recently and am planning to check out her new cookbook as soon as I can get it from the library (#poorgradstudent). This treat can hold me over until then with her transformation of the classic PBJ to a dessert. PBJ has been my go to lunch at work for the past few months- would I loose any professional standing at work by eating these bars for lunch instead?

 

PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY BARS
Slightly Adapted from Ina Garten

INGREDIENTS

1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 ounces peanut butter
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4-1 cup jelly
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line an 8 x 8 baking dish with aluminum foil and grease it.

Cream together butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar.  Beat in egg, vanilla, and peanut butter until just combined.  Stir in flour, salt, and baking powder until just combined.

Press approximately 2/3 of the peanut butter dough in the bottom of the baking dish.  Spread jelly evenly over top.  Dollop the remaining peanut butter dough on top.  Sprinkle peanuts on top.  Bake for 25-32 minutes, until done.  Cool completely and cut into bars.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Popcorn

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I am loving my first fall in the midwest. I have been cooking a lot more soups and cold-weather dishes when the temps are cooling off (and then heating up, and then cooling off again).

October is a snack and sweet month with Halloween, and this popcorn is a great sweet snack. You pop your own popcorn, and coat one half in a jelly sauce and the other in a PB or any other nut butter sauce. It’s a nice sweet snack with good crunch. Perfect for eating while watching a movie while ti’s cold outside.

PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY POPCORN
Barely Adapted from Something Swanky

INGREDIENTS

6 cups popped popcorn
1 cup white chocolate chips, divided
2 tablespoons jelly
2 tablespoons peanut butter
Salt

DIRECTIONS

Divide popped popcorn into two separate bowls (3 cups in each bowl).

Using the microwave or a double broiler, melt 1/2 cup white chocolate. When chocolate is almost melted completely, stir in jelly and a pinch of salt. Pour on top of one bowl of popcorn and stir to mix. Spread popcorn into a single layer on a baking sheet and let sit until hardened, about 20 minutes.

Using the microwave or a double broiler, melt the remaining 1/2 cup of white chocolate. When chocolate is almost melted completely, stir in peanut butter and a pinch of salt. Pour on top of the remaining bowl of popcorn and stir to mix. Spread popcorn in a single layer on a baking sheet and let sit until hardened, about 20 minutes.

Break popcorn into pieces and mix together.

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

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Happy Pi(e) Day!

Any holiday that mandates a celebration with lots of food, especially dessert, is an a-okay holiday in my books.  Thankfully most holidays here center, or at least feature, lots and lots of food.  And while celebrating math is not something I support quite as much, I’ll celebrate Pi Day if it means I get to eat some more dessert.

While Boston Cream Pie isn’t technically a pie, it has the word “pie” in the title, it’s a dessert, and it’s delicious- so I say it works for Pi day.  And what’s even better is putting Boston Cream Pie in individual-sized adorable cupcake form.  Make sure to have some type of pie today to celebrate!

BOSTON CREAM PIE CUPCAKES
Slightly Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

INGREDIENTS

For the Pastry Cream:
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 2 pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Cupcakes:
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter, room temperature & in 12 pieces
3 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup milk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Icing:
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

For the Pastry Cream:

Place cream in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, beat egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Whisk in cornstarch until pale yellow and thick.

Slowly whisk the heavy cream into the egg mixture to temper. Return to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the pastry cream thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla. Pour into a bowl, wrap tightly with plastic wrap (to prevent a skin from forming) and chill for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

For the Cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12 cup cupcake pan with cupcake liners.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Using a stand mixrer or hand mixer, beat butter into flour mixture one piece at a time. Beat until mixture forms moist crumbs, 1-3 minutes. Beat in eggs. Beat in milk and vanilla. Increase speed and mix until smooth, light, and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

Pour batter into cupcake tins, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.

Use a pairing knife to cut a whole in each muffin, removing excess cake. Fill each cupcake with pastry cream and place cupcake top back on top.

For the Chocolate Frosting:

In a saucepan combine butter, cocoa powder, salt, and milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter in melted. Whisk in powdered sugar. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let sit for approximately 10 minutes. Pour frosting on top of cupcakes. Let set for at least 30 minutes.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Soda Cracker Torte

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Soda crackers are the food you turn too when you are too nauseated to eat food but know you need to eat something.

Starting out a food blog post talking about nausea- tell me, is your mouth watering yet?

Well, soda crackers can be so much more than a snack of desperation when you are feeling sick.

I am a sucker for any recipe that involves meringue in a unique way.  I just cannot say no to whipped, sugary egg whites.  But I love this salty combo by adding in crushed saltines and nuts into meringue.  This is my kind of dessert.   Tastes like what I imagine heaven to be like- sweet pounds of puffy meringue that is crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.

SODA CRACKER TORTE
Barely Adapted from Eat, Live, Run

INGREDIENTS

20-25 saltine crackers, crushed
3 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup chopped nuts
Whipped cream and cherries, for serving

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 inch by 8 inch baking dish.

Beat egg whites and salt until frothy. Increase mixer speed and gradually pour in granulated sugar. Continue to beat until egg whites are glossy and and firm. Fold in saltine crackers and nuts. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool completely. Serve with whipped cream and cherries

Sweet and Salty Frito Snack Mix

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Oh my.

This sweet and salty frito snack mix makes me happy.  It is what it says: sweet, salty, and delicious.

You know what else makes me happy? Weekends.  Pancakes.  A good book that I can’t put down.  TV opening credits.

Let’s spend some time on that last one.  Yes, today we are going to have a conversation about television show opening credits.  Now, for me, a good set of opening credits can set a good tone for a TV show.  It makes marathoning a show so much more enjoyable.  However, I recently learned that not everyone values good opening credits.  One of my favorite opening credits is from Sons of Anarchy.  When I went home over winter break my parents were watching the show on Netflix as well, but it turns out when they watch the show on Netflix they always fast forwarded through the credits.

I watched in horror each episode as they fast forwarded past the tattoo song credits, and I found myself extrememely disappointed.  I need to hear the opening credits to get in the mood for the show (instead I had to watch in solitude afterward on my computer).  The good life is being able to watch great opening credits.

Other shows with great opening credits:  Dexter,  most HBO shows (my favorites being True Blood, Big Love, and Game of Thrones), all 90s shows like Charmed and Dawson’s Creek (I DON’T WANNA WAIT).  Oh my god there are so many good TV show credits that I could go on forever.  So instead let’s leave with this fantastic snack mix: basically a caramel coated mix of salty crunchy goodness with M&Ms on top.

Make sure to eat this snack mix while watching TV openings for maximum enjoyment.  Now we better go before I start a rant about how Dawson’s Creek on Netflix does NOT have the original song for the opening credits.  Show ruined.

SWEET AND SALTY FRITO SNACK MIX
Barely Adapted from Recipe Girl

INGREDIENTS

3-4 cups fritos (about 10 ounces)
2 cups rice chex cereal
2 cups pretzels
1 1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup candy (m&ms, mini peanut butter cups, heath pieces, etc.)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a roasting pan mix fritos, chex cereal, pretzels, and pecans.

In a small saucepan combine butter, light corn syrup, and light brown sugar over medium heat. Stir together until brown sugar and butter have melted. Bring to a hard boil and let boil for 4 minutes without stirring. Stir in salt. Pour over snack mix, stirring to evenly coat. Bake for 8 minutes, remove from oven and stir mix. Bake again for 8 minutes. Let cool completely.

Once cooled, break into pieces and stir in candy.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

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Last time I gave you a pink treat for Valentine’s Day, and now it’s time for a chocolate one.

A chocolate hazelnut dessert! Nutella lovers, get your forks ready.

But before we dive into this cake, let’s take a moment to talk about winter weather.  So I grew up in Houston, Texas, and I spent my childhood years wishing and hoping for some white powdery snow.  My birthday candles, those rope necklaces, and fallen eyelashes were all dedicated to my hopes for some snow.  One Christmas we got almost a 1/2 inch of snow, and it was pure magic.  It promptly melted the next morning, but it was a Christmas miracle.  I was convinced as a child that I must move north to get more snow in my life.

Childhood self: you are a fool.  Snow is not always so great.  First, it’s cold.  Second, it’s not good for an anxious person to drive in (I almost went head first into a telephone pole in our parking lot last week).  Third, people in academic buildings never keep the heat at the right temperature.  Fourth, although you still have to be at work, people stop showing up to stuff which leaves you even more bitter that you had to be there.

Yeah, so snow and I are not on the outs.  I might not be so bitter if I didn’t have to walk 15 minutes to get to work each morning.  God forbid graduate students who work for the university have access to sensible parking.

Before I go on another rant, let’s talk about this cake.  This cake can brighten anyone’s snowy, cold day.  This cake is rich but light tasting.  The Nutella frosting is made with light whipped cream and taste divine- I would each just a bowl of this if I could.  The roasted, salted hazelnuts on top add such a great crunch to the combo as well as a pretty way to hide the fact that you are a subpar cake decorator, and there is hidden chopped chocolate on the inside layer   In my version of this recipe I used one of my favorite chocolate cake bases- one that I find actually turns out most and doesn’t taste dry or overbaked.

Let them eat cake!

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT CAKE
Adapted from Eat, Drink, & Be Merry via Tasty Kitchen

DIRECTIONS

For the Cake:
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
10 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup Frangelico
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
4 eggs, separate
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 & 1 tablespoon cup all purpose flour

8 ounces Marscarpone cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup Nutella

To Assemble the Cake:
1 1/2 cup Nutella
1 cup chopped chocolate
Roasted, salted hazelnuts

DIRECTIONS

For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line a 9 inch springform pan. Line pan with parchment paper and grease.

In a double broiler, melt chocolate and butter. Remove from stove and stir in Frangelica. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, separate eggs into two separate bowls (4 yolks in one bowl, 4 egg whites in another bowl). Divide sugar in half. Pour half of the sugar in with the egg yolks and whisk together. Whisk egg yolk mixture into chocolate mixture. Stir in salt, cinnamon and flour.

With a hand mixer, beat egg whites until foamy. Continue to beat, adding remaining sugar in a slow, steady stream. Beat until stiff but dry peaks do not form. Fold in 1/3 of the meringue mixture into the chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining meringue

*For my chocolate, I used a combination of semisweet and milk chocolate since sometimes semi-sweet chocolate is not sweet enough for me. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 60-75 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. Cool on a wire wrack for 20 minutes. Remove sides of springform pan and let cool.

For the Nutella Cream:

In a large bowl whip the marscarpone, powdered sugar, vanilla, and heavy whipping cream together until peaks form. Fold in Nutella.

To Assemble the Cake:

Cut the cake into two equal layers. Place Nutella in the bowl and melt in the microwave until spreadable, about 30 seconds. Spread on the bottom cake layer. Place in the freezer for about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle chopped chocolate on top. Spread a layer of Nutella cream on top. Place the top cake layer on top. Frost the cake with the remaining Nutella cream. Sprinkle hazelnuts on top.

Goat Cheese and Cherry Galettes

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It’s that divisive time of year again: Valentine’s Day.  Valentine’s Day is both full of love and hate from different people.  Commercialized, romantic, overpriced, etc., etc.

There will be no huge happenings at the Cinnamon Freud household for the holiday next Friday.  Perhaps I will renew my match.com membership, perhaps I will catch up on all my Real Housewives, perhaps I will booze it up to celebrate that at least it’s the weekend.  I’ll leave the lovebirds to their thing.

I am a neutral Valentine.  I don’t feel a huge need to grab the first living, breathing, testosterone filled human being, nor do I feel a burning hatred for those who have a significant other nor do I go on rampages about the commercialization of the evils of Hallmark.  I am just happy to eat seasonal candy (as I am for every holiday) and to have an excuse to bake.

So this cherry galette with goat cheese represents that divisive-ness of Valentine’s Day.  The cherry filling is sweet and juicy.  And the goat cheese is tart and salty.  Love and bitterness.

And it’s pink!

GOAT CHEESE AND CHERRY GALETTES
Slightly Adapted from Culinary Concotions by Peabody

INGREDIENTS

1 pie crust
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups cherries (I used drained morello cherries)
6 ounces goat cheese
1 egg white

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Grease a baking sheet.

Divide pie crust into 2 pieces.  Roll out into circles, about 1/4 inch thick.  Chill until ready to use.

In a bowl, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Stir in lemon juice and cherries.  Mix in approximately 4 ounces of the goat cheese.  Divide filling between the two galettes, leaving a 1/2-1 inch border.  Top with remaining goat cheese.  Fold pie crust around filling.  Brush the pie crust with egg whites.  Bake for 22-27 minutes, until golden brown.

Makes 2 galettes.  Serves 2.

Brie en Croute: Improv Challenge

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Brie.

Let me count the ways in which I love thee.

I love you with fruit, on a cheese patter, on bread.

Some days my love for you can go to my head.

But you are a tempting, secret holding devil

Wrapping you with puff pastry and spreading on jelly takes you to another level.

Bow. Curtsy. Applause, applause.

I thought I liked brie before, but now that I have eaten it warm and wrapped in puff pastry, my love has reached new heights.  When I saw the challenge for this month’s Improv Challenge, so I took some wonderful brie, wrapped it in puff pastry, baked it, smeared with sweet and spicy pepper jelly, and went to town.

And then I ate it all for lunch.  And it was a good day.  A very good day.

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BRIE EN CROUTE
Barely Adapted from from Cook’s Illustrated

INGREDIENTS

8 ounce wheel of Brie
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 egg white
1/2 cup sweet pepper jelly
Crackers, for serving

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Roll puff pastry sheet into a 12 inch square. Place brie in the middle and wrap around the puff pastry, making even pleats and leaving an opening on the top of the brie. Place wrapped brie in freezer for 20 minutes.

Remove brie from freezer and brush the puff pastry with egg whites. Place brie on baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Spread jelly on top of brie and let cool for 10-20 minutes (if you can wait that long). Serve with crackers.

Thanks to Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker for hosting the challenge!  Make sure to check out what everyone else made this month.