Archives for posts with tag: baking

Fresh from the oven. They're delicious piping hot, too...

I have been living away from “home” now for four Christmases-worth. Happily, each year I have managed to spend the holiday season with good friends, enjoyed many wonderful meals and parties, and witnessed others’ traditions. There’s no place like home for the Holidays in many things, though… and for me, a big part of what makes up “home” (besides the loved ones surrounding me, of course) are certain treats that I enjoyed pretty much every year of my life thus far.

I have mentioned Mom’s Peanut Butter Balls here, before, and how I changed the recipe to be a little more healthy. Another recipe that I gleaned off Mom via telephone this year was Scuffles.

Scuffles are, for my family, one of the highlights of Christmastime. Despite the fact that they are made with common ingredients (I am on a tight budget at the moment, yet I have all the ingredients on hand…) and take very little effort, for us they are a Christmastime-Only tradition. Perhaps this is due to their fattening-aspects. Hmm. Well, in any event, it turns out that many of Scuffles’ ingredients can be altered to be a touch more “healthy”.

Mom’s Traditional Scuffles

-Combine 1 package yeast + 1/4 Cup lukewarm water. Let stand a few minutes.

-Mix: 3 Cups flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 3 Tbsp sugar, 1 Cup butter.

-Add: 1/2 Cup milk, 2 eggs, and the yeast mixture.

-Knead ’til soft. Leave, covered, overnight in fridge.

-Divide into four parts. Roll each part out on a layer of about 1/4 Cup sugar and cinnamon.

-Cut into approx. 1.5″ wide wedges (triangles) and roll up from wide end.

-Bake 15 minutes in 350F oven.

The dough can be frozen, the scuffles can be frozen, all sorts of things can be done to prevent you from eating the entire batch right away. I recommend having friends around when you make them, so that you cannot eat them all yourself.

UPDATING THE RECIPE:

Now, Mom’s recipe calls for some pretty traditional baking ingredients. I have changed this recipe a couple of times, with good results. My tentative changes have been:

-Brown sugar in place of “Sugar”: This caused a marvelous caramelization.

-More cinnamon in place of sugar on the outside: This was good, too. I love cinnamon, more than I love sugar.

-Half Kamut Flour instead of all Regular Unbleached Flour: I didn’t notice any difference, it was still really wonderful in both texture and taste.

-Using organic sugar, infused with cinnamon and vanilla (see previous recipe, thanks Tammy!) on the outside when rolling out dough: Wonderful, and even more delicious than ever.

Indeed, I thankfully have a packet of yeast, some flour and butter, a bit of sugar, two eggs and plentiful amounts of cinnamon. I know what’s for breakfast tomorrow…

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

New Year's Eve fireworks in Paris

Happy New Year!

Choco-Almo-Date Balls (Or Choco-Almond Balls, CABs, their nick-name), are wonderful. Delicious, easy and fast to make, and somewhat healthy too! Over the holiday season I kept a bowl of the gooey-mix in the fridge, as well as a small saucepan of the melted chocolate ready-to-go. I made some last night, so that my New Year’s Eve guests could enjoy the last of them. Any leftover chocolate drizzle? Well, someone is bringing a mystery dessert, so we’ll see if melted chocolate would work with it, I’ve also got some whipped cream… perhaps a New Year’s Sundae on Sunday is in order on the second day of the new year.

You might recall that I’d originally taken my mother’s old Family Favorite recipe and tinkered with it. Yes, I hate to say it, but these are better. Next year my family will receive some in the mail in advance of Christmas. Fortunately, they are always open to trying new foods, and will eat them even though my little CABs break with tradition.

My goal for next year’s “baking” is to have a second fridge-based, non-perishable item that I can make up a little bit here and there whenever needed/wanted. Freezer log-cookies, that’s an idea. I like doing something simple like “melting chocolate and dipping things in it”, though. Does anyone have more ideas? The Lazy Gourmet. Isn’t that a brand-name already…

Natasha Henderson in Montreal, not Paris.

Holly berries and new spring leaves

holly berries

One of the best gifts to give at this time of the year is home-made goodies.  Here is a recipe that I adapted from Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson (2008).  This one does not require baking and easy to make.

Rocky Road that tastes like Christmas

175g unsalted butter
400g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
3 tablespoons agave syrup
200g amaretti biscotti (the crisp ones), place in a freezer bag and slightly crushed into crumbs and lumps
125g mini marshmallows
150g cherry flavoured cranberries
150g brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans or almonds (crush them slightly in the freezer bag with a rolling pin)
2 teaspoons icing sugar, to dust (optional)
(1)Heat the butter, chocolate and agave syrup in a saucepan over a low heat.
(2)Add to the melted chocolate mixture: amaretti crumbles, marshmallows, cranberries and nuts.  Fold in well to coat everything.
(3) Pour the mixture into a 13 x 9″baking tin lined with parchment and smooth the top with a spatula.
Refrigerate for about two hours or overnight.
(4) To serve, cut into 40 squares and dust with icing sugar for a little festive fun.

(Store for up to one month in a festive tin in the freezer or a cool location.)

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

Besides the crunched-up almonds and vanilla, these are the ingredients.

A few days ago I shared the story about my favorite Christmas recipe: Mom’s Peanut Butter Balls. I had expressed a hope that I would be able to improve the healthiness of this treat, while maintaining the deliciousness of it. I think that somehow, through luck or divine intervention or possibly even ingenuinity, I managed to actually improve the recipe. Please don’t tell my Mom I said that.

So, if you look at the recipe for Peanut Butter Balls, you will see that icing sugar is called for. No. Not using that. I replaced it, on the advice of my Herbalist-Friend Tammy, with dates! They were available at the local cool grocery/convenience-ish store. One could use figs in the same way. I replaced the peanut butter with almond butter, and almonds in place of peanuts. I used good quality nice chocolate. I think my Mom’s already onto THAT one.

Mashing it up with a fork...

So, to be all precise, I used the amount of almond butter that I had left in the fridge. That’s about one cup. Then I chopped up the delicious “meat” of five dates, mixed that in with a dash of vanilla and a handfull of crumpled-up bits of almonds. I formed them into little balls, refrigerated overnight. The next day I took three (perhaps one too many) Lindt 70% Cacao chocolate bars and melted them. There is leftover chocolate (I threw the pan in the fridge) so I am compelled to make more of these. Darn… Coat the little tiny balls in the chocolate, let sit in the fridge overnight.

Delicious and somewhat nutritious too!

Roll the balls in the chocolate... mmm...

I presented them at an event (after taste-testing them a few times, of course) and everyone who tried them LOVED them. No one over-ate, and they just savoured the high-quality and richly flavoured little treats. So good. My new Christmas tradition…

Natasha Henderson, in Montreal

Important Update: See Comments below…

by Natasha Henderson. Recipe thanks to her Mom.

When I was growing up, there was an infamous recipe (well, there were actually several) that my Mom would make for Christmas. This is one of my personal favorites, a classic combination of peanut butter and chocolate. A reward for not eating them all while they’re being processed is to lick clean the chocolate-pan. Yummy!

care package...

I love this recipe, however, I would like to try some changes the next time I make it. I’d change the icing sugar to a small amount of stevia, or try some natural cane icing sugar. I would most certainly change the sweet chocolate into dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. I already use a natural peanut butter (ingredients: peanuts!) rather than a sugary, fructose-laden, hydrogenated-oily one. I might even throw a dash of salt into the mix to contrast with the sweetness or tartness of the chocolate.

Mom’s Peanut Butter Balls

1 Cup Peanut Butter

1 Cup Icing Sugar

1 Teaspoon vanilla

3/4 Cup Chopped Peanuts

Combine all above ingredients, then shape into balls of about 3/4″. Chill in a pan, on waxed paper, overnight.

When they’ve chilled thoroughly, melt enough sweet chocolate to cover them (about three squares) and dip. At this point you have an option to roll them in crushed nuts, toasted coconut, or graham crumbs. (My family has tried all these over the years and always go back to the plain chocolate…) Place on waxed paper pan, and chill in the refrigerator again ’til the chocolate hardens. Can be frozen (but probably won’t be!) Enjoy!

Natasha will make a “classic version” of this recipe, and will also try out the healthier options. She will taste-test them both, and report back here…

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