Sunday, December 26, 2010

Pumpkin Pie


Everyone knows that during Thanksgiving you usually stuff yourself beyond belief and then head back for seconds.  Next comes the couch followed by a deep nap and then you may even head back for round three!  I was determined to enjoy my meal this year, but not go overboard.  In order to do this I made sure there were enough healthier options that I would not feel as if I missed out on the real Thanksgiving goodies.


This recipe is a great way to make a slimmed down version of Pumpkin Pie.  I enjoyed my slice, tasting both the cinnamon from the crust and the creamy pumpkin custard.  I decided to enlist the help of a few Pumpkin Pie aficionados to give me their reviews as well.  They agreed that the pie was great, but the main difference between the slimmed down and regular versions was that the slimmed down was a bit more dry.  So now I have a job for next year...find a way to make this pie more moist!  


I know that this year's Thanksgiving has passed, but I bet some of you may have cans of pumpkin puree leftover and you're wondering what to do with them.  It's never a bad time to have pumpkin pie, so why don't you give this recipe a try!


Pumpkin Pie
taken from Weight Watchers
(5 PointsPlus per serving)

Ingredients

3 oz reduced-fat cinnamon graham crackers
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter, melted 
2 large egg white
1 large egg
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp table salt  
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1/4 cup(s) lite whipped topping

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Place the graham crackers and light brown sugar in a food processor; process into crumbs (or smash into crumbs in a sealed plastic food bag with a rolling pin).  Spoon the crumbs into a small bowl; add melted butter and combine with fingers into a coarse meal.  Distribute the crumbs evenly on the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9-inch pie plate.  Chill for 30 minutes before baking.  Bake until the crust starts to turn golden, about 8 to 10 minutes; remove from the oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until frothy; fold in the egg, dark brown sugar, salt, pumpkin pie spice, canned pumpkin and evaporated milk.  Beat the pumpkin mixture until smooth (it may seem very runny but that is okay) and pour into the pie shell.  Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 to 55 minutes.  Slice into 8 pieces, top each piece with 1/2 tablespoon of whipped topping and serve warm or at room temperature.  Yields 1 slice per serving. (5 PointsPlus per serving)





Monday, December 20, 2010

Beer Bread


Yes, you read that right- this is bread made with a bottle of beer!  I couldn't believe it when I found this recipe, so I knew right from the start I would have to see for myself.  And I am now a believer...it is possible to make bread without yeast, without having to let it rest and rise, and without kneading!


Besides not believing this recipe would work, my other first thought upon discovery was that my brother would love this.  I emailed him the recipe immediately and he was on board!  We planned to make it when I went home to Florida for Thanksgiving and what a great way to segway from Thanksgiving leftovers to regular baking.


Regardless of my skepticism, our bread turned out absolutely amazing!  We made two loaves, a wheat bread with Guinness beer and a white bread with rosemary made with a Blueberry Wheat Ale.  While the wheat loaf was just a bit more dense than the white loaf, they both had a hint of sweetness which went lovely with the coarse sea salt which we sprinkled on top.  I wasn't able to decide which loaf I liked better, but I think the combination of the Blueberry Wheat Ale and the rosemary gave the white loaf a more unique taste.  I will definitely make this recipe again and may experiment with new beers and additional seasonings.


Beer Bread
adapted from Baking Junkie

Ingredients for Blueberry Rosemary Beer Bread

3 cups self-rising flour*
⅓ cup sugar
1 tsp salt
12 ounces beer (I used Sea Dog Wild Blueberry Wheat Ale) 
2 tsp dried rosemary
Pinch of coarse sea salt
2 Tbsp melted butter

Ingredients for Guinness Wheat Beer Bread

3 cups self-rising whole wheat flour*
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
12-20 ounces beer (I used Guinness)
Pinch of coarse sea salt
2 Tbsp melted butter

Directions 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.  In a medium sized bowl combine the flour, sugar, and salt (if making the rosemary version add it during this step).  Add the beer and mix well.  It will get thick and sticky (if making the Guinness version, after you pour the first 12 oz. use your best judgment as to how much more you'll have to pour in order to have all of the dry ingredients mixed in).  Pour into the loaf pan and sprinkle the top with a pinch of sea salt.  Bake for 52 minutes.  Remove from the oven and brush with the melted butter.  Return to the oven and bake another 3-12 minutes or until lightly golden.

*If you do not have self-rising flour you can use the substitutions below.  For every one cup of regular flour, add in:

1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt


Fresh, warm bread with a nice pad of butter = delicious!


Monday, December 13, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cherry Biscotti


When I think of biscotti I am reminded of the large tubs of Nonni's Biscotti from Costco that my grandmother always had at her house while I was growing up.  My grandmother still replenishes her jar every so often, but these days I try to stay away from the processed biscotti and indulge on the real deal, something I've made on my own.


While I normally would have been drawn to a pure chocolate or hazelnut or almond biscotti, I thought it would be interesting to try this recipe combining chocolate and cherries.  Can you really go wrong with this combination??  I don't think so!  The chocolate and the cherry tasted very nice together and because of the little amount of sugar the biscotti were not overly sweet.  This allowed for the chocolate and the cherry to really shine and provide the flavor for each bite.  I had a bit of trouble cutting exactly 24 slices, but eventually made it work.


Chocolate Chip-Cherry Biscotti
taken from Weight Watchers
3 PointsPlus per serving
 
Ingredients

2 cups purpose flour    
1 tsp baking powder    
1/8 tsp table salt    
1 Tbsp canola oil    
2/3 cup sugar      
1 large egg, beaten      
2 large egg whites, beaten    
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips    
1/2 cup dried cherries    
1 Tbsp flour, for rolling out dough   

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray or parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.  In another large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the oil, sugar, egg and egg whites until well-combined. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, a little at a time, beating with each addition (the dough will be stiff); fold in the chocolate chips and the cherries.

Working on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 13- X 1 1/2-inch log and place on the center of the prepared baking sheet; bake for 25 minutes.   Reduce the heat to 350°F and remove the baking sheet from the oven. Cool the dough long enough to cut into 24 diagonal slices.  Lay the slices on their sides on the same baking sheet; return to the oven.  Bake for 10 minutes; flip and bake until lightly browned, about 5 to 10 minutes more. (24 servings, yields 1 cookie per serving) 


You can store the biscotti in an air tight container for up to 10 days.  I also froze some of the leftovers and have been defrosting them as needed!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chocolate Toffee Shortbread


I was recently home in Florida for a wonderful extended weekend.  Anytime I come home nowadays my mother asks me what we are going to bake.  Ever since the Daring Bakers' doughnuts challenge I have been searching for another recipe to try, so I figured this would be a good opportunity.  I did not have enough time to find what I was looking for, so my mother and sister-in-law pulled out a cookbook of 1000 Chocolate Baking & Dessert Recipes.  


We flipped through the pages waiting for something to jump out at us and finally happened upon a recipe for Chocolate Chip Shortbread.  My sister-in-law had never made shortbread and she LOVES chocolate, so we figured this recipe would be great.  We discovered toffee bits in the chocolate cabinet, so we decided to add those in as well.


As I was mixing the dough I thought the mixture may have been a bit too buttery and contemplated adding in more flour, but in the end the proportions were correct and I am glad we did not add the extra flour.  We did however make one mistake- we cut the shortbread too soon after removing it from the oven.  It was a bit crumbly, so we placed it in the fridge for a bit and then cut another piece.  The shortbread was just perfect!  The chocolate and toffee tasted great together and worked well with the buttery taste of the shortbread.  


Chocolate Toffee Shortbread
adapted from 1000 Chocolate Baking & Dessert Recipes

Ingredients

4 oz. butter, diced, plus extra for greasing
3/4 cup flour
3/8 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1/4-1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 -1/2 cup toffee bits

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease a 9-inch loose-bottom fluted tart pan.  Sift the flour and cornstarch into a large bowl.  Stir in the sugar, then add the butter, and rub it in until the mixture starts to bind together.  If you're mixture seems overly buttery do not worry, this is normal.

Turn the mixture into the prepared tart pan and press evenly over the bottom.  Prick the surface with a fork.  Sprinkle with the chocolate chips and toffee bits and press lightly into the surface.

Bake in the oven for about 35-40 minutes, or until cooked but not browned.  Mark into 8 portions with a sharp knife.  Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.


Look at that chocolate and toffee!