New Year, New Cookies

I don’t usually bake cookies because (1) I always end up with a lot of them and (2) I am the only person in my household who will usually eat them, unless I make lemon, honey and chamomile cookies.

But I wanted to try something different, something involving caramel. Searching online I found mostly recipes that either took a huge chuck of caramel in each cookie or that involved Rolo or some other candy. Since what I had in mind was to have pieces of caramel spread through the cookies, similar to La Mère Poulard’s cookies, I figured it’d be easier just to come up with something instead of trying to find a recipe online.

The solution for how to use the caramel came up when shopping for a gift and I saw some French salted caramels for sale. They are delicious, but also rather expensive to be used in baking. At least knowing what to look for, I started searching all supermarkets and grocery stores close to me for something halfway through fancy French caramels and shitty dollar store candy. I ended up settling on English salted caramel fudge, which was good on its own, but would probably work better on the cookies.

With that out of the way, I just needed to come up with a recipe and hope it would work out. So I took to our kitchen bookshelves and adapted a couple of recipes to create my own based on Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio and Larousse des Desserts. And I have to say it worked out pretty well and I leave the recipe so you can decide it for yourself.

Salted Caramel and Pecan Cookies
Salted Caramel and Pecan cookies – perfect with a cup of coffee

Salted Caramel and Pecan cookies (makes about 30 cookies)

Ingredients

110g softened butter

180g brown sugar

100g salted caramel fudge, thinly chopped

90g pecans, thinly chopped

1 egg

225g all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius (340 Fahrenheit).
  2. Add the butter and sugar in a bowl and mix them using the paddle attachment.
  3. Once they mixed, add in the egg until it forms a homogenous dough.
  4. Add in the flour, baking powder and salt little by little until it’s well mixed.
  5. Put in the pieces of caramel and pecans. Once they are incorporated into the dough, make small balls and spread on a baking tray, flattening them. At this point, use a cookie cutter if you wish to give them a shape.
  6. Put the cookies in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes. Once done, put them on a cooling rack.
  7. Lick the paddle to avoid wasting sweet goodness (optional) while you wait them to cool down. Make yourself a nice cup of coffee and enjoy the cookies (dipping is allowed and recommended).
New Year, New Cookies

A Perfect Day for Bananabread*

*I chose this spelling for referencing reasons

I have been obsessed about cooking with bourbon lately: Caramelized onions with bourbon, bacon and bourbon beans… So when I bumped into this recipe for bourbon and chocolate bananabread, I knew I had to try it one day soon.

I’d never tried baking bananabread as I usually eat all the bananas before they are ripe enough for baking, plus I am the only one at home who is crazy about this North American delicacy. I was also afraid of not making it as good as the one I can get from a breakfast place close to my house.

But screw my fears and banana-hungry stomach! This was bananabread day! So – armed with the recipe, a bottle of booze and bananas on the verge of decaying – I marched into the kitchen after a whole week without baking anything thanks to the high temperature and 98% humidity level in Montreal last week.

I do believe that baking is a science and a much less merciful process than cooking, but I also do believe in feeling how the things are going and making adaptations in case something doesn’t seem right. Yes, I can easily screw up a loaf of bread by doing this, but I can also save it from disaster. All that to say that I made some changes to the original recipe, so I could make it more suitable to our taste.

Because we don’t like sweets that are too sweet and because ripe bananas are basically sugar in a creamy-yellow form, I started by cutting down on the quantity of sugar. At the same time, I used dark chocolate and while adding it to the dough, I adjusted the amount to what seemed enough for the loaf.

It’s not that I did not make any mistakes. When removing the bread from the pan, it broke in half, in a way that the top landed on the plate and the bottom stuck to the pan. With help, the bananabread was finally set in a plate where we could cut it and have a slice, or some, with a nice cup of coffee.

I also remembered that the breakfast place nearby serves their bananabread with a bit of sour cream with honey, so I decided to make my own version and had some whipped cream with maple and bourbon on the side. Both recipes right below the picture.

A slice of bananabread is cut on a plate. There is an amount of whipped cream on top of the slice. In the background there is a cup of coffee and a couple of bowls.
Bananabread with whipped cream and a cup of coffee is all we need for a nutritious breakfast

Bourbon Chocolate Chip Bananabread

Ingredients

260 g all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

100 g unsalted butter

100 g sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cup of mashed ripe bananas (2 bananas and a half in my case)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

4 teaspoons bourbon

130 g coarsely chopped dark chocolate

Directions

Heat oven to 350 F (175 C) and grease loaf pan.

In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt.

In the stand mixer bowl with paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.

Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix in the bananas, lemon juice and bourbon. Mix until well-combined.

Add the flour on low speed until it’s incorporated. Fold in the chocolate.
Pour the batter in the baking pan and spread evenly. Bake for 45-60 minutes (check if it’s baked inserting a toothpick in the loaf. When there is no batter on it, your bread is ready).

Remove from the oven and let it cool for 20 minutes before inverting onto wire rack. I dare you, I double-dare you not to it until it’s completely cool.

Bourbon maple whipped cream

Ingredients

50 ml whipping cream

1 teaspoon maple

1 teaspoon bourbon

Directions

Put all ingredients in a bowl. Whip it good until it reaches the desired consistency.

A Perfect Day for Bananabread*

Forget about the Eggs

I knew there was a holiday around, but yesterday my news feed confirmed that this was Easter weekend. More than that, it presented me with recipes of breads from around the world to celebrate Easter.

When I saw Paraguayan chipa among them, which I did not know was Paraguayan or Eastery, I remembered lazy afternoons in Brazil when I would get some freshly baked chipas at the supermarket and take them home to go with a nice a cup of coffee and cream cheese. There was no doubt Hot Cross Buns and Bread with Prosciutto and Olives would be left for another occasion. I made a few adaptations to the recipe, such as removing anise. The recipe comes right below the picture.

According to some research I did, Paraguayans will usually have this small bread “all day Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. By Friday it is usually so hard that it needs to be dipped in coffee or cocido (hot tea made with mate) to be edible.” (source, source 2 for more info on chipas). And indeed, they were super soft fresh out of the oven, but about 12 hours after being baked they were already a bit hard. Luckily (not for weight management) they were so good that not many lasted a second round of eating.

A table is set for two people. In each of the plates there lies two chipas.
Easter breakfast is ready!

Chipa

Ingredients

400 grams of tapioca starch (I don’t endorse brands, but this is too funny for the 12-year-old in me to let it pass – mildly NSFW, depending on where you work)

150 grams of cornmeal

400 grams of cheese (I used cheddar)

4 eggs

1/2 tablespoon of baking powder

1/2 cup of milk

100 grams of butter

Directions

1. Mix the tapioca starch, cornmeal, baking powder and butter. Add milk, cheese and eggs and mix until well integrated.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 400 Fahrenheit (200 Celsius). Shape the dough into small balls or donuts. Place them on parchment paper on a baking tray and bake for 12-15 minutes. Eat while hot!

One chipa is resting on a small plate with a cup of coffee in front of it. A cat is sitting across, resting his head on the table and staring at the chipa.
“All your foods are belong to me.” Even cats want to eat delicious chipas.
Forget about the Eggs

Cheese and onion loaf

This week a colleague is leaving the company and because we like to eat, a potluck was organized for today. I could’ve cooked something, but then I would feel a bit bad posting it here if it didn’t involve an oven.

I figured a simple bread would be unbearably simple. Muffins would be a bit weird for lunch. Then I opted for a cheese and onion loaf adapted straight from my favourite bread book. To avoid any trouble at home, I also baked one to keep, which is the one photographed for the purposes of this post. This loaf is now almost over, about 24 hours after it was first sliced.

The main difference between loaves was the cheese. While for the personal loaf took a nice chunk of raw milk Gruyère, to take to work I went for a milder cheddar aged 18 months. Also, I decided to leave scotch out of the onions in the communal loaf.

A loaf of bread is resting on a cutting board
The loaf waiting to be sliced.

Cheese and onion loaf

Ingredients

450 grams of flour
175 grams of cheese (meltable, strong, like aged cheddar or Gruyère – preferably anything made with raw milk)
Caramelised onions (recipe on previous post)
Melted butter
20 grams of fresh yeast
Powered mustard
Salt and pepper
150 ml of warm water
150 ml of warm milk

Directions

1. In a bowl, add the flour, 130 grams of cheese, caramelised onion, mustard, salt and pepper. Make a well in the middle.

2. Dissolve yeast in water.

3. Add water with yeast and milk to flour mix. Integrate all ingredients and knead for about 10-15 minutes. Cover with a towel and leave it to rest for 1 hour or until it doubles in size.

4. Divide it into 20 equal pieces and make them into small balls. Put it in the bread pan in two rows of five balls each. Use a brush to spread butter on top of them. Put the remaining balls on top of the ones already aligned. Spread butter on them, cover and leave it to rest for 45 minutes.

5. Pre-heat the oven to 190° Celsius (374° Fahrenheit). Grate the remaining cheese on top of the loaf. Bake it for 40 minutes.

6. Eat it by itself or with anything you want on top.

A loaf is resting on an improvised cooling rack with two slices cut out of it
And ready to be eaten
Cheese and onion loaf

If I knew that you were coming I’d bake a cake

Today while shopping for food we felt like having something sweet. After analysing the options in the stores we went to, it was decided we would bake a chocolate cake. While my girlfriend prepared lunch, I went crazy on Pinterest looking for recipes when she remembered a recipe she used to make when she was a kid and that is written down on a notebook in our kitchen.

A yellowed page with a handwritten recipe for chocolate cake in red ink. The text of the recipe is in Portuguese.
The handwritten recipe for chocolate cake

The recipe was invented by an aunt of hers and followed step by step, as it was my first time baking a cake. The original measures were divided by three, as we didn’t want to end up with a lot of cake to eat. I have also added a little less sugar than indicated, as it’s a matter of taste. I would try replacing it with maple one day, though. Since the amounts of ingredients were cut, instead of using a cake pan, I chose a muffin tray, which was possible to fill out and have some leftovers to be licked from the spoon/mixer attachment.

There is a dish with two small cakes on it. In the background, we can see a mug in the same pattern as the dish, as well as a small ceramic milk jug
Two small cakes ready to be eaten with some coffee

Aunt’s chocolate cake

Ingredients
Reminder: this is the full recipe. For 6 small cakes (not sure I should call them muffins or cupcakes), I used one third of the ingredients.
3 eggs
3 cups of flour
3 cups of sugar
1 cup of cocoa powder
100 grams of butter
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 cup of coffee
1 cup of milk

Directions
1. Whip the egg whites until they’re firm. Save it for later.
2. In the mixer bowl, put the sugar, cocoa powder, coffee, butter and yolks. Mix well and let it rest for a bit.
3. Add the flour and milk, and mix again. Once all is integrated, let it rest.
4. Add the whipped egg whites and baking powder. Mix it well.
5. Put the dough in a cake pan or muffin trays and bake at 305 Fahrenheit (about 175 Celsius) until the middle is cooked (use a knife or the pointy object of your choice to check as the time will vary according to the size – for one muffin tray, it took about 30 minutes to be ready).
6. Serve, post a picture to Facebook and link to this page. “Eat it” – Weird Al Yankovic.

If I knew that you were coming I’d bake a cake