Banana Bread (Improved!)

I’ve published a Banana Bread recipe before that I used for years.  However, recently one of my favorite YouTube chefs, Gemma of Bigger Bolder Baking, posted her favorite recipe for banana bread that she claimed was amazing and fail-proof. It was quite different from my usual recipe so I decided to give it a try.

I will admit, this recipe was really delicious! It is much lighter and fluffier, which Gemma claims is from the secret ingredient: rolled oats. While it is a banana bread, one of the main flavors is cinnamon and I find your bananas have to be really ripe in order to still have a strong banana flavor. (Otherwise, cinnamon is the main flavor) I usually wait until my bananas are almost completely dark brown.

Now I’ve fully switched to this recipe as my go-to! I think it’s a little less healthy than my original recipe but the flavor and texture makes up for it.

I’ve posted the recipe below for convenience. However, follow the link to her recipe if you need conversions to other units!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats (preferably quick-cooking)
  • 1/4 cup flavorless oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 medium bananas, very ripe and mashed

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare a loaf pan with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, sugar and oats.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the oil, eggs, milk, vanilla extract and mashed bananas.
  5. Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients. Mix by hand until just combined. Do not over mix!
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
  7. Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
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Frangipane Tart

My husband and I watched a lot of the Great British Bake-off when it was put on Netflix and it inspired me to try out some of the recipes! One dessert that looked really delicious was the frangipane tart, which is a French tart with almond filling (called frangipane) that typically includes pieces of fruit. The best part is that you can choose whatever fruit you like or whatever is seasonal without modifying the base recipe. The finished dessert also looks gorgeous!

The tart was actually easier than I expected but there are many different steps and took a long time to make overall. I chose to put blackberries in my tart, but any sort of berry or sliced stone fruit (like peaches or apricots) would work really well.

I followed this recipe from Food 52, since it had a lot of great pictures to guide me. I pasted the recipe below for convenience. The recipe also explains how to make several small tarts but I made one big tart.

 

Ingredients (Crust)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 9 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp cold water

Instructions (Crust)

  1. In a food processor, add flour, sugar and salt. Pulse to combine.
  2. Add butter and pulse until butter is the size of small peas.
  3. Add yolk and pulse until evenly distributed.
  4. Add cold water and pulse until the dough starts to form.
  5. Lightly butter your tart pan. Gently press dough into the pan, making sure to evenly coat the bottom and sides. (You may have some leftover; use this to patch cracks in the crust later)
  6. Freeze the tart shell for 30 minutes.
  7. Preheat your oven too 375 degrees F.
  8. Bake the tart shell until lightly golden brown. This took about 10-12 minutes for me. If the shell puffs up while baking, just use a spatula to gently push it down.
  9. Cool the shell while you prepare the filling.

Ingredients (Filling)

  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, soft
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup ground almonds (blanched or unblanched)
  • 1 egg, plus 1 egg white
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Your choice of fruit
  • Confectioner’s sugar, to finish

Instructions (Filling)

  1. In a food processor, add butter and sugar. Pulse until smooth.
  2. Add almonds and pulse until well combined.
  3. Add flour and cornstarch and pulse.
  4. Add egg and egg white and pulse.
  5. Add vanilla extract and salt. Pulse until just combined.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Spread the frangipane filling into the cool tart shell so it comes up just below the edge. (You may have leftover)
  8. Arrange your fruit how you like on top of the filling. (Make it pretty!)
  9. Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake until crust and frangipane are golden, about 45-50 minutes.
  10. Cool on a wire rack.
  11. Dust with confectioner’s sugar right before serving.

 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

The fall and winter really awaken my desire to bake! I think chocolate and peanut butter are an excellent combination in desserts and usually a big crowd pleaser. I tend to make peanut butter-chocolate kiss cookies the most but wanted to try something new. These were great because you get nice big chunks of chocolate in addition to your peanut butter taste.

My one piece of advice is that your dough consistency may turn out differently depending on the type of peanut butter you use. My dough was a little oily, probably because I used a natural peanut butter that usually separates from its oils. If you used something like Skippy, it may turn out better.

This recipe is from Home Cooking Adventure and I’ve pasted below for convenience.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 7 oz semi-sweet chocolate, cut into chunks

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda.
  3. In a separate large bowl, add peanut butter, butter, sugar and dark brown sugar. Mix well with an electric mixer until creamy.
  4. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract.
  5. Slowly add in dry ingredients, in increments, to the wet mixture. Mix until just combined.
  6. Stir in chocolate chunks.
  7. Using a cookie scoop, drop cookie dough on a baking sheet, spaced 1 inch apart.
  8. Using the bottom of a glass dipped in the sugar, press down each cookie to flatten it slightly.
  9. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes, until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Orange Cranberry Cookies

I’m a big fan of the orange and cranberry flavor combination and these cookies capture it perfectly! With the glaze, they almost remind me of scones, especially since they are soft. I found this recipe on My Baking Addition and it was pretty easy to put together. (Except chopping cranberries took longer than I thought …) A perfect recipe for the upcoming holiday season, too. (Thanksgiving cookies?)

I’ve posted the recipe below for convenience but the actual blog post has a lot of great pictures and tips too.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • orange zest, from one large orange
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp + 3 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups whole cranberries, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
  2. In a separate large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer on medium-high for 2-3 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, light brown sugar and orange zest. Use fingers to mix well.
  4. Add sugar mixture to the butter and mix for another 2-3 minutes.
  5. Beat in egg, vanilla extract and 2 tbsp of orange juice. Mix until combined.
  6. Add dry ingredients slowly, in increments, and mix well after each addition.
  7. Carefully fold in the cranberries.
  8. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  9. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  10. Using a medium cookie scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets 2 inches apart.
  11. Bake 12-14 minutes. Allow to cool on sheets for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
  12. When completely cool, make glaze by mixing 3 tbsp orange juice and confectioners sugar. Add more sugar to make it more thick, if needed.
  13. Drizzle the glaze over the cookies. Allow it to stand until set.

Strawberry Cardamom Linzer Cookies

I haven’t been cooking much lately (unfortunately) but I did volunteer to provide desserts for this year’s Easter festivities. I decided to make my tried and true Banana Bread, as well as linzer cookies, which are not only super delicious but also look very cute.

I came across this recipe from the people over at Home Cooking Adventure (which is also one of my favorite YouTube channels):

The recipe includes the cookie and the jam, and also added a new spice to my rack: cardamom!

In general, the cookies turned out really good and everyone said they looked adorable. My one problem was that I couldn’t get the jam to thicken up as much as the video, so my cookies weren’t as solid as I hoped. I put them in the refrigerate to harden a bit, especially right before transporting. I’ll have to work on that part.

I pasted the recipe below for convenience but you should watch the video for a more detailed version! You can prepare the jam a day or two in advance, or while you’re making the cookies. The recipe makes about 30 cookies total.

Jam Ingredients

  • 14 oz strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Jam Instructions

  1. In a small sauce pan, add all the ingredients. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  2. Simmer for about 25-30 minutes, until the mixture is thick.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

Cookie Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup ground almonds, toasted or plain
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Cookie Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom.
  2. In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar until creamy.
  3. Add eggs and beat until smooth.
  4. Beat in vanilla extract.
  5. Add the flour mixture and ground almonds, stirring to combine.
  6. Divide the dough into two pieces. Wrap in plastic wrap and press into small disks.
  7. Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line your baking sheet with parchment paper.
  9. On a well-floured surface, roll the dough to 1/8 inch thickness.
  10. Cut out the cookie “bottoms” and place on a baking sheet. Re-roll the dough scraps to make more cookies.
  11. Bake for 10 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned around the edges. Remove from the oven to cool for 2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  12. Repeat the same steps to make the cookie “tops”.
  13. Invert the cookie “bottoms” and add a small scoop of jam to each one.
  14. Dust the cookie “tops” with powdered sugar and put on top of each bottom to make a sandwich.
  15. Let stand for several hours before serving.

Vanilla Cupcakes

Usually I make some sort of dessert for Thanksgiving at my mother’s house. Last year, I made Turtle Cookies (which were super tasty) but this year I wanted to make something a little more decorative.

I came across this awesome video of Turkey Cupcakes from Kawaii Sweet World and decided to try them:

I won’t go into detail about the decorating part, but what I liked about her video was how nice her cupcake recipe was! It made the most perfect cupcakes, especially for decorating, with nice round tops. They did lean a little on the sweet side, but you could probably adjust the sugar if you want. Her video also comes with a frosting recipe, so click through if you want that too.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar.
  3. Mix in one egg at a time.
  4. Add vanilla extract and stir to combine.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder.
  6. Add half the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and combine.
  7. Add the milk and combine.
  8. Finish adding the dry ingredients and combine.
  9. Divide the batter between 12 cupcake liners.
  10. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Also, my own turkeys turned out pretty cute too!

IMG_20151120_231938

Brownie Cookies

I wanted an easy but delicious cookie recipe to bring to Easter. These Brownie Cookies from Pioneer Woman seemed perfect and I’m glad to say they were a hit. (Most of her recipes are!) Just like their name suggests, these are kind of a cross between a cookie and a brownie and will have that familiar brownie taste. My one mistake is that I made my cookies a little too big and some of them melded together into Franken-cookies when baking. (Didn’t affect the taste, though!) You could also do this recipe without a mixer, but I imagine it’d be really hard. I used a hand mixer and my arm was sore afterward!

I pasted the recipe and instructions below for convenience. If you follow the link to the recipe, there are lots of helpful and nice pictures too.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz baking chocolate, unsweetened or bitterwseet
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Powdered sugar (for dusting)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt the baking chocolate according to package instructions. Stir and let it cool.
  3. Using your mixer, mix the sugar and butter together until well combined.
  4. With your mixer on low, add cooled chocolate and combine.
  5. Mix in the eggs one at a time, combining in between.
  6. Add vanilla extract and mix.
  7. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.
  8. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients one scoop at a time, mixing in between.
  9. Mix well until all is combined.
  10. Scoop cookies onto a baking sheet, about 1 tbsp per cookie.
  11. Bake for about 11 minutes, until done.
  12. Remove from oven and let them cool on the sheet for about 2 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
  13. Dust each cookie with powdered sugar on top.