Where did it go? Bourbon Pecan Mini Skillet Brownie

This delicious little dessert was supposed to be for two. Fudgy, chocolatey, with a nutty crunch and a hint of caramely bourbon. Maybe it wasn’t enough!

We had just finished dinner – bowls brimming with homemade clam chowder served with a hunk of toasted garlic sourdough on the side. The forecast was for snow, but instead Chignik’s famously howling winds were slamming our house with torrents of icy rain blown sideways. Soup alone was not enough in the face of such weather.

We had a stash of chocolate squares to nibble for dessert, but even those didn’t sound satisfying. Something quick and freshly baked might do the trick, I thought. Armed with a six-inch cast iron skillet, a few tablespoons of this and a dollop that, 25 minutes later all that was left was the two bites you see above. Well, that’s not true. We paused for a photographic intermission and then devoured the last two bites. Now that was satisfying!

Bourbon Pecan Mini Skillet Brownie for Two

Ingredients

  • 5 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 6 ½ tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ tbsp Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • pinch salt
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil, we use canola
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp bourbon
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped coarse

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease 6” cast iron skillet.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt.
  3. Add in oil, egg, and bourbon.
  4. Stir until well mixed.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Fold in pecans.
  7. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes. Center should look done. Cook a little longer for a more well-done brownie. We like ours nice and fudgy, so 20 minutes was perfect.
  9. Let cool for 10 minutes and then dig in!

 

Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti

chocolate pistachio biscotti n

Crunchy chocolate biscotti speckled with delightfully tasty green pistachios. Where’s my latte?

I am a huge fan of the soft cookie with the slightly crunchy exterior. You know, that perfect chocolate chip cookie with an almost melty interior and an exterior that holds it perfectly together? This biscotti recipe is worth momentarily turning away from my favorite cookie texture. One thing I like about this biscotti recipe is the expected crispy biscotti-like texture without the hard crunch. You can have this biscotti with tea and still hear your conversation. Then there’s the flavor. There is the bang of chocolately cocoa followed by zips of salty toasted pistachios. Yum! The intent with the smaller batch is that we would have a few cookies around to enjoy at the end of the day with tea. The reality is… I’ve already made a second batch.

Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup dutch processed cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup shelled, roasted and salted pistachios

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the sugar and the egg until light and creamy.
  4. Add melted butter to egg mixture. Whisk.
  5. Add flour mixture to egg mixture. Stir until until stiff dough forms.
  6. Shape into a flattened log, about 2 inches wide.
  7. Cut the log in half so you can sprinkle the pistachios in the middle, like a sandwich. Put the log back together and smooth out the cut with your hands. This will ensure each biscotti has an even amount of nuts.
  8. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes. Cookie should be slightly firm. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
  9. Using a serrated knife, cut log into pieces about 1 inch thick. Place each cookie on the cut side. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F (145 degrees C). Bake cut cookies for an additional 8 minutes.
  10. Flip cookies over and continue to bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Can You Really Make These From Scratch? Honey-Cinnamon Graham Crackers

I’ll bet even your grandmother didn’t bake like this…

I found a cheesecake recipe I wanted to experiment with, and, off course, I needed a graham cracker crust. Since we hadn’t sent up any graham crackers, my choices were to buy some at our local store, order them through Amazon.com, or forget the whole idea. Prices at the Native Store are too high, so I ruled that out, and with only five weeks remaining till we head south, it seemed late to be ordering food. The next obvious step was to give up. Ha! That’s not me! I searched around and found a couple of recipes for graham crackers from scratch. Fantastic! My crackers came out looking a little rough around the edges, but they tasted perfect. Actually, in our opinion, they taste better than store-bought. These homemade beauties have a crisp cracker crunch and a sweet honey-cinnamon taste. Now, I’ll tackle the cheesecake recipe.

Honey Graham Crackers

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp and 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Optional cinnamon sugar topping – 3 tsp granulated sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Mix together whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. Blend butter, sugar, honey and corn syrup until well mixed and fluffy. Add vanilla and mix.
  3. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Stir in milk. You should have a nice ball of dough at the end of this step.
  4. Cover dough and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Roll the dough out on a well-floured surface. It is easiest to do this working with only a quarter section of the dough at a time. Roll until the dough is about 1/8″ thick. Cut the dough into rectangles using a knife. Place rectangles on ungreased cookie sheets. Prick decorative holes with toothpick. If desired, sprinkle cinnamon and sugar topping on crackers.
  7. Bake for 13 minutes. Finished crackers will be browned and will become more crisp as they cool. Cool on wire racks.

One Cup of Mayo, and Hold the Preservatives!

Whip up this tasty, fast, easy mayonnaise recipe once, and you may never go back to store-bought.

The first time I realized that mayonnaise could be made at home I was reading Chapter I, De Gustibus (regarding taste) in Craig Claiborne’s New York Times Cookbook. His recipe called for an egg yolk, salt, freshly ground pepper, Dijon mustard, vinegar or lemon juice, one cup of peanut oil and a whisk. I tried it and to my amazement, it worked! The chemistry in forming this emulsion is visually fascinating. But what a lot of effort. I was happy enough with my jar of Hellmann’s. It would be 27 years before I’d have another go at the homemade version.

In fact it was Barbra who encouraged me to revisit mayonnaise. Taking up her challenge, I made a cup of it, this time in a blender. Better than getting mayonnaise elbow with a whisk, but still… the old-school blender I used was a bother to clean. So the next time we needed mayonnaise, we went to Point Hope’s Native Store. $$$ for a six-ounce jar.

That was when we decided, finally, to invest in a good immersion blender – aka a stick blender. And now, I doubt we’ll ever buy a jar of mayonnaise again. The recipe below is quick, easy to clean up after, and results in a tasty, preservative-free, all-natural mayonnaise ready to be spread on a turkey sandwich, to serve as a base for anchovy-mayonnaise salad dressing, or to blend into deviled eggs.

1 cup Homemade Mayonnaise

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg, as fresh as possible
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp white vinegar (we like rice vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • healthy pinch or two (1/8 teaspoon) salt
  • dash of white pepper or freshly ground black pepper, or both
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil (or other vegetable oil)

Directions:

You will need a stick blender and a fairly narrow container such as a small canning jar, one just wide enough so that the stick blender fits.

  1. Place egg in a narrow jar or other container.
  2. Add lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper.
  3. Add olive oil.
  4. Push stick blender to the bottom of the container. Blend on high speed. (This depends on the blender. Ours gets the job done at a lower setting.) Within seconds, mayonnaise will start to form. As soon as you see this, gradually raise the blender to create more mayonnaise. Mix through top to bottom one more time thoroughly. The entire mixing process will take about 10 seconds.

This mayonnaise will keep in your refrigerator for about two weeks. The extra virgin olive oil and the Dijon give it a distinctive taste. For mayonnaise more like commercial brands, use canola or peanut oil and half the Dijon or a milder mustard.

Chocolate Almond Spread (or Homemade Bush-Alaska Nutella)

Creamy-smooth chocolate almond spread ready for toast, dolloping inside crêpes, or drizzling on pancakes or waffles. 

Being hundreds of miles from roads or specialty stores and becoming more curious about how foods we take for granted are actually created drives me to experiment. Today’s challenge? Nutella.

In high school, a German friend introduced me to this chocolate-hazelnut spread that looks a little like peanut butter. But sister, it’s not peanut butter! Nutella is sweet, creamy, and chocolately and is great spread on fruits and breads and a whole lot of other things, or scooped out of the jar and eaten off the spoon!

I found a recipe, but of course I modified it to fit the items in my pantry. Substituting almonds for hazelnuts, and armed with my new stick blender (with nut chopping attachment), I set to work. As I processed the nuts from a grain to coarse  flour and finally into a butter, I was amazed. It really worked! Mixed with chocolate, the result tasted like an almond version of Nutella. Fabulous! (Incidentally, the earliest versions of Nutella, created in Italy, used either almonds or hazelnuts.)

Now I’m ready to make those macarons I keep seeing. Or maybe I can convince Jack to make chocolate-almond crêpes for breakfast!

Chocolate Almond Spread 

Yield: about 8 ounces (1 cup)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole raw almonds
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • up to 1/4 cup vegetable or nut oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Skin almonds by pouring boiling water over them in a bowl and letting them sit for 2 minutes. Drain off hot water and replace with cold water. Almond skins should pop off when you squeeze the individual almonds. I’ve read rubbing the almonds in a clean towel at this point will also remove skins, but that didn’t work for me.
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F. Place almonds in a single layer on a shallow baking pan. Toast for 10 minutes. Stir the nuts halfway through baking to ensure an even color.
  3. Process nuts in a food processor, or use a stick blender. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary until the nuts have liquefied, about 5 minutes. First, you will get coarsely chopped nuts, then a fine meal. After a little while, the nuts will form a ball around the blade, and it will seem like you have a solid mass. Keep processing. The heat and friction will extract the natural oils from the nuts, and you will get almond butter!
  4. When the nuts have liquified, add the sugar, cocoa and vanilla. Slowly drizzle in enough oil to make a spreadable consistency. Since the mixture is warm, it will be more fluid now than at room temperature.
  5. Transfer the spread to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator for up to  1 to 2 months. For best results, stir the chocolate-almond spread before using.

Adapted from http://www.sugoodsweets.com/blog/2005/12/nutella/

Apple Cinnamon Walnut Bread

Walnut, cinnamon, and freshly grated Fuji apples make peanut butter sandwiches something to look forward to.

I love variety in my meals. I love sampling new foods and new food combinations. So it might seem paradoxical that I could happily eat a peanut butter sandwich every day for lunch. Jack… not so much. After a few consecutive days of peanut butter sandwiches, he diplomatically asks if we could change up the lunch menu. This year, I vowed to make lunches more interesting. Chili on rice, calzones, stew on baked potatoes, and salmon sandwiches have satisfied Jack’s need for variety. And so, with time ticking away toward the end of another year in the bush, I looked in the cupboard at the last third of our 80-ounce jar of Adam’s peanut butter. An idea! What if I made peanut butter sandwiches on fruit bread? Let me tell you how well this went over… When I asked Jack if he wanted salmon pizza or a peanut butter sandwich for lunch tomorrow, he chose a peanut butter sandwich! I’m not planning on going back to peanut butter every day, but we are both happy it is still in the rotation.

Apple Cinnamon Walnut Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon (we love cinnamon)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 grated Fuji apple (a little more than a cup)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped coarse

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. In another mixing bowl, combine sugar and applesauce. Mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
  3. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just moistened.
  4. Stir in grated apple.
  5. Stir in walnuts.
  6. Pour into a greased bread pan (8 in. x 4 in. x 2 in.)
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 55 – 65 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

We enjoy fruit breads and use the above recipe as a base. It’s easy to substitute different types of fruit and spices. Pear bread with ginger and banana bread with cinnamon and nutmeg are two other favorite fruit breads that make excellent peanut butter sandwiches or breakfast toast.

Marvelous Marbled Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

Fudge-like brownie batter swirled with chocolate chip cheesecake make this decadent dessert irresistible. 
As we go through our annual shopping list, I have to wonder why I thought I needed twenty pounds of chocolate chips! It is a challenge to shop for a whole year in one fell swoop. In most regards, we were really accurate, but I must have been suffering from a chocolate craving while we were in Costco! I did make it through about five pounds so far. With 15 pounds remaining and big chocolate lovers around, I am inspired to keep baking wickedly chocolate confections.
Marvelous Marbled Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies
Ingredients
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, separated
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 8-inch square baking pan or baking dish.
  2. Combine cream cheese with 1/4 cup sugar, 1 egg, and vanilla in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Stir 1 cup chocolate chips into the cream cheese mixture. Set aside.
  3. Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a simmer. Set a heatproof mixing bowl over the water. In the mixing bowl, combine butter with the remaining 1 cup of chocolate chips; stir until just melted and blended together.
  4. Mix in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 2 eggs in a bowl. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir flour mixture into sugar and egg mixture. Mix in chocolate-butter mixture into flour mixture so that it is evenly blended.
  5. Pour half of the batter into the prepared baking pan. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the chocolate layer. Top with remaining chocolate mixture (this doesn’t need to completely cover the cream cheese layer). Using a knife, swirl the top chocolate layer into the cream cheese to make a marble pattern by cutting the blade through the mixtures in a swirling pattern.
  6. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes, or until top is cracked and edges pull away from sides of the pan. Cool thoroughly. Cut into 12 to 16 squares. Store in refrigerator or freeze.
We tried the brownies cooled on the counter and chilled in the refrigerator. We preferred them chilled in the refrigerator.

Recipe adapted from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chunky-cheesecake-brownies/Detail.aspx.