Category Archives: Desserts

Apple Cinnamon Caramel Cookies (and a studio photography class!)

Photos of apples

I know they are very similar, but which photo do you guys like more? I cannot make up my mind! (Seriously, leave a comment below. I want to add one of them to my portfolio, and cannot decide which one I like more!)

I LOVE working with natural light, especially when it comes to food photography. L-O-V-E. Working with it comes naturally to me, and I love the challenge of adjusting to the weather outside. (Or maybe it has something to do with being cooped up  in a dark control room 40 hours a week… This gal needs her vitamin D!)

But the days are getting short (*SOB*) and I want more photographic flexibility. I’ve played around with studio lights before, used speedlights for portrait photography, but wanted to learn more about lighting glass, reflective objects, and anything involving more studio based commercial photography. So I signed up for a 10-week workshop at New England School of Photography.

The classes in which we photographed reflective objects and food couldn’t have come at a better time because I felt overwhelmed by the amount of apples in my kitchen. (I’m totally experimenting with light and backgrounds in these classes, so the styling between the images above and below are intentional – I’m not going for storytelling! 🙂 )

Apples are easy to transport to class, as are cookies. And I wanted to try using some cinnamon goat milk caramel from Fat Toad Farm in a cake or cookie recipe, so this became a great opportunity to experiment in making another gluten-free cookie. They came out pretty well! The cookies kind of have the texture of a very light and airy cake.

AppleCookies-066

Apple Cinnamon Caramel Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Gluten-Free Cookies
Cuisine: Dessert
Serves: 16-18 cookies
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup quinoa flour
  • ¼ cup millet flour
  • ¼ cup brown rice flour
  • ½ cup quinoa flakes
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅔ packed cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Fat Toad Farm cinnamon goat milk caramel
  • 1 large cortland apple
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the flours, quinoa flakes, baking soda, and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and pale in color.
  4. Stir in the egg, then add the vanilla and flour mixture.
  5. Mix until incorporated.
  6. Fold in the caramel and apples.
  7. Drop heaping tablespoons of batter onto the baking sheets. They will spread while baking, so leave plenty of space between them. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges start to darken. Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.

Mama’s banana bread, with a twist!

The cool, rainy, dreary weather created an irresistible urge to play in the kitchen… As I went through my cookbooks, I found a little book my mother put together a few years ago, containing several of my grandmother’s favorite dessert recipes. Her banana bread was always delicious, and I luckily had a few overripe bananas on hand.

I also have a variety of flours I’ve been wanting to experiment with. I stocked up on almond, millet, quinoa, and other types of gluten-free flours awhile ago for a few different cookbook recipes. So instead of using the all-purpose flour the recipe called for, I created my own flour combination. Regular wheat flour (all-purpose flour) is made by grinding roots and grains together, and each gluten-free flour is a particular kind of grain, starch, bean, or nut. They taste best when a few are combined together.

I chose quinoa, millet, and buckwheat flours for a few simple reasons. I never tried quinoa or buckwheat flours, and I had just a little bit of millet leftover. I also wanted to use millet flour because it’s slightly sweet and adds a crumbly texture to baked goods. Quinoa flour was an easy choice because I’ve seen several recipes for cakes and cupcakes that use it, and I read that buckwheat flour pairs great with chocolate. (Have to love anything that pairs well with chocolate!)

Back to Mama’s recipe. The first ingredient – 1/2 cup of shortening. That was quickly replaced with a 1/2 stick of unsalted butter. The 2 cups of all-purpose flour was replaced with 2/3 cups of each gluten-free flour. Chocolate isn’t in her original recipe, but I had a bag of semi-sweet chips on hand, so why not add that too?

Gluten-Free Banana Bread

The first attempt was pretty decent. The loaf could have stayed in the oven for another 10 minutes – it took a lot longer to bake than what Mama’s recipe instructed. It also came out really sweet, and a bit dense for my liking. So I tried again. I cut down the sugar from 1 1/2 cups to 1 cup, and traded in the semi-sweet chocolate chips for dark chocolate. I also made sure the butter was at room temperature before mixing it in with the sugar, and mixed it for a lot longer than what I did the first time around. (It took about 6-7 minutes for the sugar and butter to cream together.)

The result was much better the second time around. While banana bread isn’t meant to be light and spongy, it came out less dense than the first loaf. Cutting down the sugar and changing the chocolate was another good call. This is a rich bread – not a super sweet cake. That, and dark chocolate rules. Enjoy the weekend!

Gluten-Free Banana Bread

Mama's (Gluten-Free!) Banana Bread
Author: 
Recipe type: Gluten-Free
Cuisine: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
The prep time is approximate.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup sour milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ⅔ cup quinoa flour
  • ⅔ cup millet flour
  • ⅔ cup buckwheat flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 mashed ripe bananas
  • 1 11.5 package of extra dark chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. To make sour milk, add 1 teaspoon of vinegar to the ¼ cup of milk.
  3. Prepare the flour mixture - in a bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients until well combined.
  4. In a separate large mixing bowl, mix together the butter and sugar.
  5. Beat in the eggs, then add the sour milk and vanilla. Mix until everything is combined.
  6. Continuing to mix the wet ingredients, gradually add the dry.
  7. Once the dry ingredients are fully mixed in, add the bananas.
  8. Pour in the chocolate chips and fold into the batter.
  9. Line a 5" x 9" loaf pan with parchment paper, and pour the mixture in.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour 30 minutes.

 

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap – Cranberry Chocolate Biscotti

 The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012

I’m so excited to participate in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap this year! It’s a great cause because we’re raising money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. Each participating blogger made a donation to the charity, and our donations are being matched by OXO, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000! My friend Julie of The Little Kitchen and Lindsey of Love and Olive Oil put a lot of work into this, and I wanted to support them as well. I also like cookies. A lot. Can’t resist ’em. I mean, who doesn’t love a good cookie?! C’mon!

Gluten-free biscotti

I haven’t tried baking gluten-free cookies yet, so I figured this was a great opportunity to give it a try. Biscotti seemed like a good choice because it would ship well, and it’s a great holiday cookie to dunk in coffee, hot chocolate, or milk. And although it takes some time to bake, it’s a very simple recipe. This recipe is slightly adapted from one on elanaspantry.com – hers calls for pecans and I decided to leave them out. It’s just a personal preference.

gluten-free biscotti

 Thanks to OXO for the adorable “Be a Good Cookie” spatula! They’re being sold to raise money for pediatric cancer research, as part of their partnership with Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. If you’re interested in purchasing one, you can find it here.

And thanks to Heather from A Sweet Simple Life, Desiree at Unconventional Kitchen, and Lesley Palmer from Healthy Meals to You for the cookies they sent me! Happy holidays!

 

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap - Cranberry Chocolate Biscotti
Author: 
Recipe type: Cookie
Cuisine: Gluten-Free
Serves: 24 biscotti
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup agave nectar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups blanched almond flour
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine agave, eggs, and vanilla. Blend with a mixer until fluffy. (About 5 minutes.)
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together the almond flour, salt, and baking soda.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet, stir until combined, then stir in chocolate and cranberries.
  5. On a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, transfer the mixture and form a log about 12 inches long and 3 inches wide.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes
  7. Remove from oven and cool for 20 minutes
  8. Transfer the log to a cutting board and cut once lengthwise, then ½ inch slices widthwise.
  9. Place the biscotti back on the parchment lined cookie sheet, and bake for 15 minutes.
  10. Turn each slice over, and bake for another 15 minutes, until they are golden brown.
  11. Remove from oven and allow them to cool for about 20 minutes, until they turn crunchy

 

Chocolate Maple Zucchini Muffins

With an abundance of zucchini popping up in everyone’s garden, who isn’t wondering what the heck to do with them? Roast it, bake it, keep it healthy, or create a little treat that doesn’t leave you feeling guilty? (It’s a vegetable, therefore if it’s in a dessert, it’s good for you, right???)

Chocolate Maple Zucchini Muffins

I decided to freeze most of the zucchini from Jeff’s garden, but wanted to make something a little sweet with what remained. There are tons of zucchini bread and muffin recipes out there, and here’s another one to add into the mix! I’ve seen several different general dessert recipes which call for maple syrup instead of sugar, so I gave that a try. I also love chocolate, so figured a handful of chocolate chips wouldn’t hurt!

I’m usually not a big fan of muffins because they either tend to be overly dry or too sweet, but these are light with just a twinge of sweetness.

Chocolate Maple Zucchini Muffins

 

Chocolate Maple Zucchini Muffins
Recipe type: Snack
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Makes 12. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prep muffin pan with paper liners.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup flour (I used King Arthur's Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour.)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 packed cup shredded zucchini, patted dry
  • A handful of chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, sea salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
  2. Add the maple syrup, oil, and eggs. Beat together until the batter turns smooth.
  3. Add the zucchini and chocolate chips. Stir by hand until everything is combined. The batter will be slightly sticky.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cups, and bake for about 20-25 minutes. Insert a wooden toothpick into the center of a muffin to check for doneness. The toothpick should emerge clean.
  5. Cool the muffin pan on a wire rack for a few minutes, then transfer each muffin out of the pan and onto the wire rack to continue cooling.

 

Chocolate Mousse

After a whirlwind vacation to Los Angeles (more on that in an upcoming post) and a very busy week once I returned, I needed five minutes to just sit and do absolutely nothing for a few minutes. It’s a simple meditation – doing absolutely nothing usually involves sitting on my couch with a cup of coffee or a cold glass of water, enjoying it, then continuing on with the rest of my day. But yesterday I had a hankering for something a little more…something sweet, simple, and containing some amount of chocolate.

 

Chocolate Mouse

 

The only chocolate I had in my apartment was a box of pudding mix. It’s not exactly a challenging culinary project or creation, but it was delicious and fun to photograph!

 

Chocolate Mouse