ANNOUNCING: Change is part of life, and apparently, it's part of blogging, too. As of September 5, 2013, I'm merging The Virtual Goody Plate with Disco Mom Takes on the World and whatever else may henceforth spill from my fingertips (and kitchen), into one great new blog. I hope you'll join me there in exclaiming, "THIS IS AWESOMELAND."

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dessert Club - Lit Night

Because February is my birthday month, I get to pick the theme.  I've been wanting to do this one for awhile: a literature night.  Kinda book club-y.  Everyone chose a literary work (no cookbooks!) and brought a dessert mentioned in, or inspired by, their book.  It totally rocked. 

Now take a minute to think.  If you were going to a dessert lit night, what would you make?  What book inspires food for you?  My very first thought went to "Babette's Feast", which is a short story, and a French/Danish film.  But then I thought of a book I'd read more recently; an idea formed, and I couldn't move off of it.  A DC friend emailed me today; she is reading Night Circus, which I loved, and reminded me of all the fun foods that would inspire - d'oh, it would have been perfect!  It's OK, I have a feeling Lit Night is going to happen again. 

Here's what everyone made:

Heaven & Hell Cake
 Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

Mrs. Barry's Toothsome Raspberry Tarts
Browned Butter Raspberry Tart
 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Orange Marmalade Cake
 At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon

Apple Tart with Raspberry Jam
 The Hobbit by J.R. Tolkein

Blackberry Mudslide Parfaits
 Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
We had two winners this time:

Alice's "Eat Me" Custard Cake
Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll

 Lemon Pie
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
 As you can see, and unfortunately for you, imagine, it was a spectacular Dessert night.  You might be wondering what some of those have to do with their books.  Others, you might be well aware.  I'm going to post some of these separately so you can find out...and of course, get the recipes.  Stay tuned for Dessert Club next month - the theme is cheese!!!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Coffee Cake

A few months ago, my kindergartener came home exclaiming, "Mom!  My teacher made the most awesome snack for us today.  It was sooo good, you wouldn't believe it!"  OK, I'll bite.  "What was it?"

"It was called coffee cake.  But it didn't even have coffee in it.  People just eat it with coffee sometimes."

"Your teacher made you coffee cake?"  I had to admit, I was impressed.  And jealous.  I'd never made a good coffee cake, despite best efforts.  Something always went wrong.  And here, someone whose baking skills I was unable to critically evaluate (although I really like her), had introduced my daughter to this classic breakfast confection before I had.  It just didn't sit well.

"We can make coffee cake at home, you know."  It was my poker face.  I didn't actually know if we could, since I never had.  I started to realize how hard this might be.  "We can?!  Let's do it, let's do it!"

So we went home, and that weekend I made one sorry excuse for a coffee cake.  We all ate an obligatory piece, and tossed the rest.  It was dry on the edges, and kinda brown throughout, rather than high golden cake with a dark cinnamon ripple and crumbly sugar topping.  So I gave up for awhile.

Until I saw a picture in a cookbook of the perfect coffee cake, exactly how I would want mine to look.  I read the author's notes, and she said it was her rendition of her favorite cake from King Arthur Flour.  KAF!  Why hadn't I thought of that?!  Of course they will have a good one; their test kitchen actually tests recipes!  So I skipped this dubious variation and went straight to the source.

And this is what I got.

Tender, moist, vanilla yellow cake (I used my precious vanilla bean paste because I wanted it to be just really perfect.)  Cinnamon ripple, with a touch of cocoa (you barely taste it.)  Crunchy, crumbly cinnamon sugar topping (which has nothing wrong, but I may experiment with in future - nuts, oats, other spices, etc.  Now that the foundation is sure, embellishment comes next.)

Coffee cake perfection.  And yes, my little Ginger likes it, too.

Coffee Cake (print recipe)
Makes one 9x13 or two 9" round pans

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 T ground cinnamon
6 T unsalted butter, melted


1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 T ground cinnamon
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (I used plain Greek)
1 1/4 cups milk (any; I used 2%)
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan, or two 9" round cake pans.

2.  Make the topping by whisking together the sugar, salt, flour, and cinnamon. Add the melted butter, stirring till well combined. Set the topping aside.

3.  Make the filling by mixing together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Note that the cocoa powder is used strictly for color, not flavor; leave it out if you like. Set it aside.

4.  To make the cake: In a large bowl, beat together the butter, salt, sugars, baking powder, and vanilla until well combined and smooth.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream or yogurt and milk till well combined. You don't need to whisk out all the lumps.  Add the flour to the butter mixture alternately with the milk/sour cream mixture, beating gently to combine.

5.  Pour/spread half the batter (a scant 3 cups or 28 ounces) into the prepared pan(s), spreading all the way to the edges. If you're using two 9" round pans, spread 1 1/3 cups (14 ounces) batter in each pan.  Sprinkle the filling evenly atop the batter.  Spread the remaining batter atop the filling (this is most easily done with a rubber spatula dipped in water.) Use a table knife to gently swirl the filling into the batter, as though you were making a marble cake. Don't combine filling and batter thoroughly; just swirl the filling through the batter. Sprinkle the topping over the batter in the pan.

6.  Bake the cake until it's a dark golden brown around the edges; medium-golden with no light patches showing on top, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes for the 9" x 13" pan, 50 to 55 minutes for the 9" round pans. When pressed gently in the middle, the cake should spring back.  Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 20 minutes before cutting and serving. Serve cake right from the pan.

Recipe from King Arthur Flour

Monday, February 18, 2013

Cocoa Dutch Baby

I've been thinking.  Maybe Pancake Week should go on forever.  And ever and ever.  I know my family wouldn't mind. 

Seriously, this is probably the last one.  We've had a really great week this year.  I made this Cocoa Dutch Baby for my family Valentine's morning, served with strawberries and whipped cream; orange juice, and turkey sausage on the side. 

I prepped the dry ingredients the night before, just to hurry things along in the morning, but it was seriously fast and easy to whip up in the food processor.  Pour it in the pan, pop it in the oven.  The longest part is waiting for the oven to preheat (mine is a slowpoke!)
Rave reviews all around.

Cocoa Dutch Baby (print recipe)
Serves 4 to 6
3/4 cup whole milk
3 large eggs
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 T unsalted butter
3 T confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a blender, combine milk, eggs, flour, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla, and granulated sugar. Blend until foamy, 1 minute. In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet*, melt butter over medium. Pour batter into skillet and immediately transfer to oven. Bake until puffed and set, 20 minutes. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve immediately.

*If you don't have a 10-inch cast iron skillet, you can also use a 9-inch round cake pan.
Recipe from Everyday Food

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Banana Oatmeal Pancakes with (American) Clotted Cream

Are we having a good Pancake Week?  I am.  My friend Sheri had us over for breakfast the other day, and served us these pancakes of her own invention - a melding of her family's secret pancake recipe, and her favorite banana oatmeal cookies.  And the proverbial cherry on top?  Her homemade faux clotted cream.

Real clotted cream is a sinfully awesome British product - a thick cream made by indirectly heating full-cream cow's milk using steam or a water bath and then leaving it in shallow pans to cool slowly. During this time, the cream content rises to the surface and forms 'clots' or 'clouts'.  I likey.  So does Sheri and her family.  So she figured out how to best imitate it using stuff we have in America.  It's pretty awesome on these pancakes.  And pretty much everything else in the whole world.  Add jam as necessary.

Or in my case, I just drizzled on some leftover eggnog syrup.  Divine.
Banana Oatmeal Pancakes (print recipe)

1 1/2 cup milk
1 cup quick cooking oats
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
1 or 2 very ripe bananas
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1.  Combine milk and oats in a bowl and set aside to soak. 

2.  Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, set aside. Cream together sugar and oil. Add egg yolks and bananas (one at a time) until well blended. Add baking soda, baking powder,  cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and salt, and mix until incorporated. Slowly add milk and oats then flour and mix until just combined with no large lumps. Gently fold in egg whites.

3.  Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium-low heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until large bubbles appear and then pop. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.
"Clotted Cream"
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup whipping cream
2 T confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Recipes from Sheri Wadman

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Lemon Curd and Fresh Raspberries

Heaven!  Simply heaven!  Shanna's family unanimously voted these as their very favorites, of all the pancakes she tried.  What could be better than light, fluffy, and oh-so-lemony pancakes?  Unless you also drizzle with lemon curd, that's the only way they could be better

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes (print recipe)

Makes 4 to 6 pancakes

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Butter, for griddle
1 (11-ounce) jar prepared lemon curd
Fresh raspberries, for garnish
Confectioners' sugar, for garnish

1.  Preheat a nonstick griddle.

2.  Combine flour, baking powder, nutmeg, salt, and sugar in a small bowl. Whisk together the cheese, eggs, milk, lemon juice and zest in a large bowl. Whisk the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until just combined. Brush the hot griddle with butter. For each pancake, pour approximately 1/4 cup measure of the batter on the griddle and cook on both sides until light golden brown. Repeat until no batter remains.

3.  Empty the contents of the lemon curd into a small saucepan and warm over low heat. Alternatively, remove the lid and place in a microwave oven on 50 percent power for 2 minutes, stopping after 1 minute to stir the curd. Drizzle a few tablespoons of the curd over the pancakes, top with fresh raspberries, and sprinkle with confectioners' s sugar.

Recipe from Bobby Flay and tested by Shanna Stratton

Friday, February 15, 2013

Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes with Marshmallow Honey Butter

 You're dying, right?  I know!  These pankies are pretty outrageously good.  And I'm picky about raisins.  But in these, they shine...without outshining. 

If you've paid any attention to my sources, you might be saying, wow, she's really cooking a lot from Joy the Baker.  It's true, I'm in love with her cookbook, and we're still having a good honeymoon.  But this week especially, because her first chapter is called pancakes pancakes pancakes...and lesser breakfast items.  How could that not show heavily during Pancake Week?

Then there's the butter.  Dessert Club member Sheri made some killer Marshmallow Honey Butter to fill her winning Russian Rose Bread, and I just had to try it.  What better palate than pancakes?

Also.  My 6-year-old has really terrible allergies in the spring.  Someone told me if you eat local honey it helps reduce allergic reactions to pollen, so I bought some at the market where we got our Halloween pumpkins.  Couldn't hurt, I figured.  Turns out, she doesn't even like honey.  But we've been having a good time using it up anyway, and if she happens to ingest any, well, we'll take any help we can get.  She did like this honey butter, at least. 
 Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes (print recipe)

Makes about 3 dozen small pancakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
2 T packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Big pinch freshly ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1 T pure maple syrup
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled plus more for the griddle
1/3 cup golden raisins

1.  Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200 degrees F.  This will help keep the cooked pancakes warm while you finish the entire batch.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.  Set aside.

3.  In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, maple syrup, and melted butter.  Add the buttermilk mixture, all at once, to the flour mixture and fold together with a spatula until all of the flour is incorporated.  Fold in the raisins.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

4.  Heat griddle over medium heat and add a touch of butter to melt.  Spoon or pour batter onto the hot griddle.  Heat until the bottom is browned and the top is bubbly.  Flip and cook through, about 2 minutes on each side.  Place on a heatproof plate in the oven to rest until ready to serve. 

Recipe from Joy the Baker by Joy Wilson

 Marshmallow Honey Butter
Makes 1 cup

1/2 cup butter (I used salted), softened
1/4 c honey
1/4 c marshmallow fluff

In an electric mixer on medium speed, whip ingredients until fluffy and well-combined.  Serve with pancakes or pretty much anything in the world. 

Recipe from Dessert Club member Sheri Wadman

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Black Forest Pancakes

Here's a nice one for Valentine's Day (Happy, by the way.)  Chocolate, cherries, and plenty of whipped cream; you can hardly go wrong. 

Black Forest Pancakes (print recipe)

Makes 2 servings

1 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 egg
2 T butter, melted
2 cups cherries, pitted and halved
2 T sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 T sugar

1.  Mix the flour, cocoa powder, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  Mix the milk, egg, and butter in another large bowl.  Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. 

2.  Heat a pan over medium heat and melt a touch of butter in it.  Pour 1/4 cup of the mixture into the pan and cook until the surface starts to bubble and the bottom is golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Flip the pancake and cook the other side until the bottom is golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Repeat for the remaining batter.

3.  Meanwhile, simmer the cherries, 2 T sugar, cornstarch, and water over medium heat until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.  Whip the cream and 2 T sugar until soft peaks form.  Stack the pancakes, layering with cherry sauce and whipped cream.  Garnish with fresh cherries and/or chocolate shavings.

Recipe from Closet Cooking (love that guy) and tested by Shanna Stratton

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bacon Black Pepper Waffles

 As far as I'm concerned, waffles are honorary pancakes.  I do not judge these breakfast sisters by their shape; I embrace their likenesses, while respecting their differences.  The main thing is that they are hot, comforting...and freakin' good with maple syrup. 
 And if there happens to be bacon and black pepper in them, all the better.  And all the more embracing that will be taking place.  My kids only thought these were so-so, but keep in mind they are accustomed to toaster waffles with artificial "blueberry" bits in them; I have no one to blame but myself.  I, however, lo-o-o-o-o-ved these waffles; I froze the leftovers and ate them for breakfast all week, savoring every sweet-salty-smoky-spicy-buttery bite.  Can't wait to make them again.

Bacon Black Pepper Waffles (print recipe)
Makes 16 waffles
10 slices bacon
2 1/2 tsp fresh, coarsely cracked black pepper, divided
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 large eggs
2/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups buttermilk

1.  To make the bacon: position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil and arrange bacon slices in a single layer across the sheet.  Sprinkle generously with 2 tsp black pepper.  Place in the oven to bake until bacon is brown and crispy, 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and place bacon slices on a plate lined with paper towels.  Once cool enough to handle, chop bacon into bite-size chunks and set aside while you prepare the waffle batter.  

2.  Set your waffle iron on a level, clean surface and turn on to preheat.

3.  To make waffles: in a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and brown sugar.  In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, vanilla, and buttermilk.  Add the buttermilk mixture, all at once, to the flour mixture.  Stir until just incorporated.  Fold in the bacon.  Try not to overmix the batter.  If a few lumps remain, that's OK.  Cook according to your waffle iron instructions.  Serve with warm maple syrup - heaven!

Variation: If you don't eat bacon, or just want to try it a different way, subtract the bacon and black pepper and add 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg and 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon to the batter!

Recipe from Joy the Baker by Joy Wilson

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Eggnog Pancakes with Eggnong Syrup

I asked my Dessert Club colleagues if anyone would like to help me try, and write up, recipes for Pancake Week.  I got a range of responses - some silent, some saying they have no good pancake recipes, and some saying, "Heck, yeah, sounds like fun!"  My friend Shanna in particular really embraced the challenge of Pancake Week, gathering and testing numerous recipes on her family of seven, and I think we've all come out winners because of it.

She said these eggnog pancakes and eggnog syrup really taste deliciously like eggnog, amazingly so.  But, she said, in the future, she would probably have the pancakes with a maple or buttermilk syrup, and serve the eggnog syrup over plain pancakes.  Together, they were too much.  But each with a simpler partner, perfection.

Eggnog Pancakes (print recipe)

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 T sugar
1 cup eggnog
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup oil or melted butter
1/4 cup milk, optional

1.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  In another small bowl, mix eggnog, egg, and oil.  Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir just until blended.  (At this point, you may need to add the milk, depending on how thick or runny you want your pancakes to be.  I like mine thinner.) 

2.  Preheat griddle to medium high and grease with oil or butter.  Pour approximately 1/4 cup batter on hot griddle for each pancake.  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until bubbles begin to form and edges are set.  Flip and cook for 1 to 2 minutes on other side, until golden and center is no longer runny.

Eggnog Syrup
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup eggnog
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
2 T corn syrup
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
Whipped topping, optional

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, eggnog, milk, butter, corn syrup, and baking soda.  Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Pour warm syrup over hot pancakes and top with whipped topping.

Recipe from High Heels and Grills, tested by Shanna Stratton

And as a BONUS, hello, I am giving you Shanna's own recipe for homemade eggnog, in case you want to make these during the other eleven months, when eggnog is harder to come by.  This eggnog is amazing and delicious and makes the whole fridge smell like heaven!

Shanna's Homemade Eggnog
Makes a ton

6 eggs
3/4 cup cream or evaporated milk
1 small pkg instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup sugar
8 cups milk
1 tsp rum extract
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Beat eggs for 5 minutes (I use an immersion blender).  Add cream and pudding.  Mix well.  Add sugar, 4 cups milk, vanilla, rum flavoring and nutmeg.  Mix for 3 minutes.  Add remaining 4 cups milk.  Mix another 3-5 minutes.  Best if made a day ahead!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Blueberry Orange and Almond Pancakes with Orange Maple Glaze

 Hello there and welcome to pancake week.  Let's start off with a twist on a classic: who doesn't love blueberry pancakes (besides my 6-year-old)?  Orange zest, orange juice, orange-maple glaze, and a smidge of almond take these just a teensy bit over the top.  All in a good way.
 Blueberry Orange and Almond Pancakes (print recipe)
Makes 12 to 16 small pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 T granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tsp orange zest
Scant 1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh blueberries
3 to 4 T butter, for griddle

1.  Place rack in the upper third of oven and preheat oven to 200 degrees.  The oven will keep the pancakes warm as you cook them in batches.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a small bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, orange juice, zest, and almond extract.  Whisk the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture until just combined.  Fold in the blueberries.  Let batter rest for 5 minutes while the griddle heats.

3.  Over medium heat, melt 1 T of the butter in a cast-iron skillet or griddle.  Spoon 2 T batter into the hot pan and cool until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.  Place pancakes on ovenproof plate and store in the oven to keep warm while you cook the rest of the batter, adding butter to the pan as needed.

Orange Maple Glaze

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 T fresh orange juice
1 T pure maple syrup

Whisk together powdered sugar, orange juice, and maple syrup.  Serve alongside warm pancakes. 
Recipe from Joy the Baker by Joy Wilson

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Pancake Week is Baaaaaack!

Ladies and gentlemen, (OK, honestly, pretty much mostly just ladies), for the first time in almost two years, the VGP's Pancake Week is BACK!

Tuesday is National Pancake Day.  IHOP is giving stacks away for free.  The whole world is indulging on Mardi Gras.  And so are we!

Every day this week you will find another *new* pancake recipe, never before posted on this blog, and some of them will blow your mind!  See you tomorrow (and all week) for some breakfast stacks to make you smile!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies

 Speaking of man food (were we? yes), here is the smoky, crunchy, salty, sweet snack they've all been waiting for (and some of us girls, too.)  I just about died when I saw these in Joy's book - so awesome and up my alley!  I've got to remember to make these for the school bake sale next fall - they're like breakfast, lunch, and dessert in a sugar-coated cookie package.  Absolutely perfect.

Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies (print recipe)
Makes about 2 dozen

8 slices bacon
1 cup all-natural peanut butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp molasses
1 large egg
1 tsp baking soda
Generous pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup coarsely chopped roasted, salted peanuts

1.  Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and place bacon slices in a single layer.  Bake bacon until cooked through and crisp, 12 to 15 minutes.  Remove from oven (keep oven on), let cool slightly, then transfer to paper towels to cool completely.  When cool enough to handle, coarsely chop the bacon and set aside.

2.  Line a clean cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

3.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the peanut butter, 1 cup of the sugar, and the molasses until thoroughly combined, about 3 minutes.  Add the egg, baking soda, and nutmeg, and mix on medium speed for another 2 minutes.

4.  Remove the paddle attachment and the bowl and use a wooden spoon to fold in the bacon and peanuts.  Roll the dough into large walnut-sized balls and roll in the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar.  Place on lined cookie sheet, and use a fork to make that distinctive peanut butter cookie crisscross pattern.  If the cookie dough begins to stick to the fork, dip it in sugar before pressing into cookie.  Dough will be a little crumbly, just press together with your fingers as necessary.

5.  Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned.  Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Cookies will be crumbly and delicious!  Cookies will last up to 5 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Recipe from Joy the Baker by Joy Wilson

1 year ago:  Cinnamon Roll Pancakes
2 years ago:  Cinnamon Swirl Bread with Sweet Cinnamon Butter
3 years ago:  Strawberry Flip Cookies 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Orange Ricotta Muffins (Two Ways)

Here's a word I don't use too often, because it's goofy and pathetically lacking in sophistication, but in this case, remarkably appropriate: Nummers.

Last week, on Monday morning, we were rudely awoken at 5 a.m. by an automated mass text: school was cancelled.  What?!  I jumped out of bed and looked outside to see if it had unexpectedly snowed.  Nope, looked normal.  We scanned the weather apps, and apparently there was freezing rain and ice.  So we settled back in for another hour or two of sleep.  

I always crave snow days, but I guess an ice day is almost as good.  No snow to play in, but we still get to lay back, eat leisurely, stay in PJ's, play, read, draw, and relax.  It was a great day to make these muffins my friend had just told me about.
The original recipe, from Two Peas & Their Pod, uses regular chocolate chips.  I doubled the recipe, and on my friend's recommendation, put blueberries in half, and mini chips in the other.  Both were totally nummers.  My kids preferred the blueberry; I probably preferred the chocolate, because I am genetically inclined to do so.    
My favorite part of making these, is Step 2, when you rub the orange zest and sugar together with your fingers.  Not only is it sensory therapy - like running beach sand through your hands, but sand that smells like bright, fresh, sweet orange - but it also provides the best finger-licking possible in the entire world of baking.

Orange Ricotta Muffins (Two Ways) (print recipe)
Makes 12 muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh blueberries -OR- chocolate chips (I prefer mini)

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, add the sugar and orange zest. Rub the orange zest and sugar together with your fingers.

3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar and orange zest mixture together until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add the ricotta cheese and beat until smooth. Beat in the egg, orange juice, and vanilla extract.

4. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just blended, still with a streak or two of flour. Gently fold in the blueberries or chocolate chips.  Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, divide the batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups.

5. Bake muffins for about 18-22 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown. Let muffins cool completely.

6. While the muffins are cooking, make the glaze. In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, orange zest, and orange juice. Drizzle glaze over muffins. Let the muffins sit until glaze hardens.
Recipe adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

1 year ago:  Red Hot Cinnamon Bread
2 years ago:  Dessert Club - Breads & Spreads
3 years ago:  Blackout Cake
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