28 January 2012

Adventures in Baking, and Laundry

Today I was really tired for some unknown reason (possibly related to kendo practice last night and running with the dog this morning) but didn't want to take another nap so I spent the afternoon doing laundry (which I forgot to put a dryer sheet in – yay static!) and conducting some baking experiments.
I ended up with three things, all of which are edible and, to some extent, delicious.
-Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies
-Gluten Free, GAPS-Friendly, Cranberry Walnut Cookies
-Pumpkin Cake with Walnuts and Chocolate Chips

Here are the recipes I used (more or less). Be warned, I'm not always a big measurer (I tend to just eyeball some things) so ingredients marked with an asterisk represent an estimated amount.

Wow, my scientist is showing. Quick, on to the recipes before I start trying to calculate the percent error or generate a probability distribution!

Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies
This recipe (minus the walnuts) came directly from the back of the Aldi brownie mix box so everything is pretty exact.
            1 box brownie mix
            ⅔ cup vegetable oil
            ¼ cup water
            2 eggs
Make the brownie mix with that stuff and then add
            ½ bag chopped walnuts (4-6 oz*)
Separately, cream together
            6 oz cream cheese, softened
            5 tblsp butter, softened
            ⅓ cup sugar
Then add
            2 eggs
            ¾ tsp vanilla (I actually used a capful which is probably closer to ½ tsp)
And then add
            2 tblsp flour
To put it all together, pour half-ish of the brownie mix with nuts into a greased 13x9 pan. Pour the cream cheese mixture on top of that, don’t worry about making it even. Finally, pile the rest of the brownie mix on top and run a knife (or fork in my case) through it to make the swirly patterns. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes.

These were a huge hit. Even my roommate, who “doesn’t like cream cheese,” really liked these brownies. I’m pretty sure they’re already over half gone and I just made them.

Cranberry Walnut Cookies
            ¼ cup coconut oil*
            2 tblsp honey*
Cream these together
            1 cup walnuts*
Pulse the walnuts in the food processor so you get small pieces (some will end up finely chopped/flour-like, this is good and helps the cookie stick together)
            ⅛ cup dried or fresh cranberries*
Mix everything together making sure to coat the nuts and berries evenly. Press the mixture into a mini muffin pan. Bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and bubbling. It can also be made as a pan but will need to be baked for about 20-25 minutes and then sliced with a pizza cutter. I haven’t tried them as a drop cookie but it should work if you use a significant amount of nut flour to get them to hold their shape better. I have also used this as a topping for gluten free, GAPS-friendly pumpkin upside down cake. 

This recipe, and I used the word loosely, is great because you can just add more nuts or more honey/coconut oil mix as needed (hence my lack of accurate measurements…). It can also work with other nuts or different berries (or raisins) if you’re not a fan of these. Or it could be just nuts if you hate all berries. I don’t think it would work as all berries though; unless you used dried ones and pulsed them in the food processor to make berry-flour…

Anyway, on to the last recipe.

Pumpkin Cake
            ½ cup melted butter
            ½ cup sugar
            ½ cup brown sugar
Cream these together, then add 
            1 egg
            1 capful vanilla extract (1/2 tsp*)
Next mix in
            1 can pumpkin
            ⅓ cup plain yoghurt*
Then add the dry ingredients after mixing or sifting them together
            1.5 cups flour
            1 tsp baking soda
            ½ tsp salt*
            ½ tsp nutmeg*
            1 tsp cinnamon*
            ½ tsp powdered ginger*
Finally, stir in half a bag each of chopped walnuts and chocolate chips (it might work better with the mini ones).
This made 2 half-filled loaf pans, which were then baked at 350F for 45 minutes.

Ultimately I was a little disappointed with this experiment because it was too chocolaty. I never thought I would say such a thing but there you have it. There was too much chocolate (which is why I think mini chocolate chips might be a better choice). If you want some more accurate measurements for the spices, you can look at the pumpkin pie recipe on the side of the can. Also, if you’re a person who can stomach raisins I can imagine that some golden raisins would be nice in here. Next time, I will make this without the chocolate chips and do a cream cheese glaze instead.

After sampling all these baked goods, I don’t think the train was a very good place to write this post.  ~_~  (hopefully that looks like an ill face and not a contented face because I definitely feel like vomit, not warm and fuzzy)

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