Pumpkin Sourdough Bread

pumpkin-sourdough-bread-the-rowdy-bakerTangy sourdough combines with rich pumpkin puree to flavor this bread to perfection. The fragrant loaves are a reminder that there’s a chill in the air and comfort food is beckoning…a harbinger of the coming holidays.

A turkey and cranberry sauce sandwich on sourdough pumpkin bread? French toast with pure maple syrup? Crackly, chewy rolls with soft interiors? Yes, PLEASE!

Sourdough starter is always hanging out in my refrigerator…unless I’ve killed it. Sourdough and houseplants are at risk in my household. I either smother them with attention or forget about them until it’s too late to rectify the situation.

Which is why I keep dried sourdough in my freezer; it’s a backup plan that has come in very handy.

If you don’t have sourdough starter, there are several options:

    • Start your own. I had a tough time with this in the past, but the method I used this time was easier than I expected. Maybe I just got lucky and caught the right yeast, but it was pretty painless.
    • Beg some off of a friend. I’ve done this too, but if I kill the starter I feel really guilty (sorry, Laurie!) so I tend to muddle through by myself.
    • Send away for some that is a strain from the 1800s…absolutely free. You just need to send a self-addressed stamped envelope (and I encourage a small donation). I love the idea of having starter with a pedigree! Go here for more information: Carl’s Friends.

For more information about creating your own sourdough starter, drying and freezing it, and instructions for feeding it—plus a few fun recipes—click on this link to a Yummy Northwest column I wrote: From Starter to Finish.

At least once a week I remove some of my starter (replacing it with flour and water, of course) and mix up a “sponge” – a batter that sits all night and is ready for action the next morning. I use 1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast in the sponge, but if you’re a purist you can skip the yeast entirely. Just be aware that you will be at the whim of your dough; it will rise when it damn well pleases! I get a little insurance by using that tiny bit of added yeast.

Since you won’t know exactly how long your bread will take to rise, I strongly recommend starting your sponge the night before and mixing your dough the next day.

Sourdough sponge - it's ALIVE!

Sourdough sponge – it’s ALIVE!

It’s usually just a matter of adding some water, salt, and flour to get a lovely, crusty loaf of dough – but for this recipe I also added 15-ounces of canned pumpkin puree. (Be careful, don’t use the kind that’s premixed for pies. Grab the solid-pack pumpkin.) I also added a little less water and a little more flour to offset the moisture in the pumpkin.

Note: For a milder flavor, decrease the pumpkin to 1 cup and increase the warm water to 1 cup in the bread recipe.

Pumpkin Sourdough Bread
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Makes two loaves
Ingredients
  • SPONGE:
  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 2½ cups unbleached flour
  • 1½ cups water, room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast (optional)
  • ****
  • BREAD
  • The bubbly sponge
  • 15 ounces canned pumpkin
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 1½ tablespoons salt
  • 6 - 6½ cups bread flour
Instructions
  1. Night before: Create the sponge by combining all of the sponge ingredients and beating well with a wooden spoon. Cover and allow the sponge to sit at room temperature overnight.
  2. Bread: in a large bowl (a stand mixer and dough hook is recommended) combine the bubbly sponge, pumpkin, water, salt, and 6 cups of bread flour. Knead by machine for 5 minutes, or by hand on floured surface for 7-8 minutes. Dough should come cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and be just slightly tacky. If dough is too soft, add additional flour a little at a time.
  3. Cover bowl and allow dough to rise until doubled. If you used a little yeast in the sponge, this will take between 1 - 2 hours. If you skipped the yeast, it could take much longer. Be patient and let the bread do its thing. The longer it takes to rise, the more flavorful the bread will be.
  4. When dough has doubled, punch it down on a lightly floured surface and shape it into loaves. Place in lightly greased loaf pans or form into balls and place on baking sheets with a little cornmeal sprinkled on them. Cover with a towel and allow dough to rise until doubled. With a sharp knife or razor, cut several shallow diagonal slashes in the loaves (or an "X" on round loaves).
  5. Heat oven to 425 F. For the crispiest crust, place a pan of water on the bottom of the rack while the oven is heating. Be very careful when you open the door - there will be lots of steam. Alternatively, you can use a spray bottle to spray the loaves and the inside of the oven when you put the pans in to bake.
  6. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until loaves are rich golden brown. For a shiny crust, brush hot loaves with butter. Cool on racks.

 

Ready to punch down and shape into loaves

Ready to punch down and shape into loaves

Make those loaves whatever shape you want!

Make those loaves whatever shape you want! Let ’em rise, and bake. For crispy, crackly crusts, use steam!

pumpkin-sourdough-bread-from-the-rowdy-baker

I’m a sourdough fiend. Can’t resist a piece (or two) of toasted sourdough with a little peanut butter.toast-with-pb

Once you have an active starter, making sourdough bread is a cinch! My goal is to make as little mess as possible, so I mix my sponge right in the mixer bowl, then just dump the remaining ingredients in the next day. I don’t turn it out into a greased bowl to rise – just cover the mixing bowl. It seriously takes 15 minutes of effort to make a couple of loaves. You just have to time it for when you’ll be hanging around the house.

My guess is, with the scent of sourdough wafting through the air, everyone will be hanging around the house. Get the butter ready!

Lorinda

 

 

 

 

Spicy Spider Bites

spicy-spider-bites-from-the-rowdy-bakerThese spicy molasses cookies are slightly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, just like a spider! Bwa ha ha.  I try to put aside my hatred of spiders when I decorate and eat these delightful, flavorful cookies, because at Halloween it’s kind of fun to enjoy the food, yet be grossed out at the presentation—sort of a “love to hate it” situation.

The dough is very soft and must be chilled before rolling and baking, so planning ahead is a good idea. If you wrap it well, you can actually make this dough several days ahead…if you’re the efficient, organized type. (I salute you!)

I made several batches of these a few years ago for a holiday bazaar, and they sold like crazy. It’s a horrible picture, but you can see how huge they were.spider-cookiesBut…not everyone wants a whole handful of cookie, so I improvised and made these cute little two-inch bites for this post.spicy-spider-bites-from-the-rowdy-baker

The dough is very quick to make; just leave yourself plenty of time to chill it properly. It also helps to roll it out between two sheets of lightly floured parchment. And even though I really don’t like using shortening, it’s important in this recipe. All butter will make the cookies spread more, and you don’t want that!

Spicy Spider Bites
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Makes about 8 dozen small (2-inch) cookies. You can make them larger or just lightly frost the rest when you get tired of making spiders!
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter, slightly softened
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 5½ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup molasses
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • *****
  • Royal Icing - use your favorite recipe OR try mine:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder (I use Wiltons brand, available in the cake decorating section)
  • ¼ cup water
  • ******
  • Dark icing, melted chocolate, dark brown coated candy...whatever you want to use for the spider.
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl (a stand mixer is helpful) beat together the butter, shortening, brown sugar, and white sugar until well combined.
  2. Add eggs and beat until incorporated.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, salt, and baking powder.
  4. In a small bowl combine the molasses and sour cream. Whisk in the baking soda. It will foam up and lighten in color.
  5. At low speed, add ⅓ of the flour mixture to the butter mixture. When most of the flour is mixed in, add ⅓ of the molasses mixture. Repeat twice, scraping the sides of the bowl often. Do not overbeat!
  6. Chill dough for at least 2 hours. Overnight is better.
  7. Heat oven to 375.
  8. Roll out ¼ of the dough at a time, leaving the rest in the refrigerator. Dough should be about ¼-inch thick. Cut into circles and place on parchment covered baking sheet, 1 inch apart.
  9. Bake small circles for 8-9 minutes, larger circles for 9-10 minutes. Touch the top of one cookie gently. If your finger leaves a mark, give them another minute. For crispy cookies, add an extra minute or two.
  10. Cool on a rack.
  11. To make royal icing: Combine powdered sugar, meringue powder, and water. Beat with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes, until thick and fluffy.
  12. Using a pastry bag and small tip (or a heavy zipper bag with the tip cut off) pipe spider webbing onto cool cookies: make a straight line from top to bottom, then side to side. Then two more lines diagonally, like cutting a pie into 8 pieces. Pipe near the outer edge of the cookie, swooping from one line to the next. Do it again closer to the center. That's it!
  13. Hint: You can also coat the entire cookie in a thin layer of icing, let it dry, and then draw the web on with a food color pen like Wilton's FoodWriter.
  14. You can make the spider out of dark chocolate frosting (this is one of those times I'd encourage buying a can of frosting for simplicity), ganache, or by piping melted chocolate for the legs and head, and using a dark brown M&M for the body.

Beat butter and sugar, then add eggs. Mixture should be light and fluffy.

Beat butter and sugar, then add eggs. Mixture should be light and fluffy.

In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients

In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients

In a small bowl, whisk baking soda into molasses and sour cream.

In a small bowl, whisk baking soda into molasses and sour cream. It foams!

Alternate molasses and dry ingredients. Dry first, then wet. Repeat twice.

Alternate molasses and dry ingredients. Dry first, then wet. Repeat twice.

Cover dough and chill thoroughly.

Cover dough and chill thoroughly.

Cut circles and bake on parchment. Size is up to you!

Cut circles and bake on parchment. Size is up to you!

There are two decorating options I like:

draw-web-on-white-icing-with-food-color-pen

Wait for the icing to dry (see the center? I didn’t wait long enough) and draw the web onto cookie with a food marker. OR pipe it with black icing or melted chocolate.

or pipe royal icing webs on plain cookies.

or pipe royal icing webs on plain cookies. I think the spiders show up a little better this way.

To make the spiders, simply pipe on legs and a small head, using black icing or melted chocolate (I stir a tiny bit of corn syrup into the warm chocolate, just until it thickens a little) and top it with a dark brown M&M. You can find lots of different spider shapes on Google.

I had intended to go all out with these—make brown recluse and black widow spiders—but it creeped me out so badly I just couldn’t do it. If you are tougher than I am, go for it. Making these cookies was bad enough for this arachnophobe!spicy-spider-bite

This recipe makes a whopping 8 dozen small (2-inch) cookies. If you get tired of drawing webs and making spiders, you can always make them larger OR just lightly ice some of them with the crispy royal icing.

Happy Halloween!

Lorinda

Crispy Cornucopia Cookies

crispy-cornucopia-cookiesThese crisp vanilla cornucopias are filled with dark chocolate and sweet little fruits and vegetables—as delightful to look at as they are to eat!

If you don’t have cream horn molds, you’ll want to pick some up at your local kitchen store, or buy a dozen online for less than $10.00. You won’t be sorry!

You can fill these babies however you please. Marzipan fruits, little chocolate leaves…go where your imagination takes you! For those of you who are sissies reluctant to create your own little decorations, I’ll give you options ranging from “easy-peasy” to “seriously???” so you can pick your method. You know which one I prefer, of course…but then, I can’t resist playing with my food.

This is a basic sugar cookie recipe with just a little brown sugar to add color, and an extra egg white to add to the crisp factor. Think of the cornucopia as “sugar cone meets fortune cookie” and you will know what to expect. The chocolate coating just puts this cookie over the top!

Honestly? I loved the crunchy cookie and chocolate without any decorations at all. You’ll have a few that don’t come out pretty, so I’m sure you’ll be able to munch on one or two. Or three.

I’ll give you the cookie recipe and instructions first, then tell you how I made the decorations.

Crispy Cornucopia Cookies
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Makes 3½ - 4 dozen cookies. Dough must be chilled for at least 2 hours before rolling.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup butter (softened)
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2⅔ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • Decorations, if desired: fruit shaped candy or fruit snacks, chocolate leaves, M&Ms, marzipan fruit, fruit and leaves made from candy clay, leaves made from fruit roll-ups or rolled candy corn.
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl (a stand mixer is very helpful - this is a stiff dough!) combine brown sugar, white sugar, and butter. Beat well until creamy.
  2. Add egg and egg white, vanilla, and milk. Beat well.
  3. Gradually add flour, baking powder, and salt. Mixture will look dry and crumbly, but will eventually come together into a stiff dough. If it doesnt, add a little milk or water, 1 teaspoon at a time.
  4. Cover dough and chill for at least 2 hours - overnight is fine.
  5. Create a template by cutting a piece of cardstock (or the middle of a paper plate) to fit exactly around a cream corn mold, leaving at least 1 inch of the large end of the mold uncovered. This helps to remove the mold after baking, and keeps the cookies from being too large. My template was approximately 3-1/2" by 3-1/2".
  6. VERY lightly coat the molds with butter. You shouldn't be able to see the butter!
  7. Heat oven to 350F. Cover baking sheets with parchment.
  8. Remove about ¼ of the dough from the refrigerator at a time. Roll out on generously floured surface to approximately ⅛-inch thickness.
  9. Using template, cut out shapes. With fork tines, press vertical and then horizontal lines to resemble basket weave.
  10. Lift each piece of dough with a flat spatula and lay over the mold with the mold seam to the back. There should be a small gap at the seam. Gently ease the dough together over the seam. Don't overlap, and make sure the dough is snug on the mold to avoid sagging as the cornucopias bake.
  11. Bake for 11-12 minutes, until golden brown. Remove pan from oven and move to cooling rack until cookies are cool enough to handle. Holding a cookie in one hand, gently squeeze the metal mold to loosen, and firmly pull cookie off of mold. Allow cookie to cool before filling with chocolate.
  12. Repeat with remaining dough. When finished, melt the chocolate: in the microwave, at 15 second increments, stirring each time, or in a small pan on the stove using the lowest heat, stirring often. With either method, heat JUST until most of the chunks are melted. Remove from heat and stir until completely smooth.
  13. Lightly coat the inside of each cone with chocolate. I found it easiest to do by dipping a (clean!) finger in the warm chocolate, but you can use a paintbrush or pastry bag. Keep the coating fairly light so it doesn't seep through the cookie shell. Dip the opening in chocolate and place on waxed paper.
  14. Chocolate will remain soft for quite a while, so this is a good time to add any decorations you are using.

Make a template. Use card stock or the center of a paper plate. Leave an inch uncovered at the big end, and a small gap at the seam.

Make a template. Use card stock or the center of a paper plate. Leave an inch uncovered at the big end, and a small gap at the seam.

roll-out-on-generously-floured-surface

Roll out small portion of chilled dough on generously floured surface.

Cut out shape by cutting around template with sharp knife. Press fork tines in one direction...

Cut out shape by cutting around template with sharp knife. Press fork tines in one direction…

and then the other direction, creating a basket weave design.

and then the other direction, creating a basket weave design.

Lay dough over mold, leaving gap on the underside by the metal seam.

Lay dough over mold, leaving gap on the underside by the metal seam.

Then, gently ease it together. Dough should fit snugly on the mold. If it's loose, it will sag as it bakes.

Then, gently ease it together. Dough should fit snugly on the mold. If it’s loose, it will sag as it bakes.

Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven! I like to stretch and curl the tips a bit.

Lightly coat the inside of the cones with melted chocolate, then dip the outer opening.

Lightly coat the inside of the cones with melted chocolate, then dip the outer opening. If your decorations are ready, place them while the chocolate is still soft, so they’ll stick well.

Note here: I’ll admit, after using a teaspoon to pour chocolate in each cone and trying to swirl it around, I found that the easiest way was to just use my finger. Dip it in the chocolate and then swirl it in the cone. Hey…that finger was CLEAN! You can use a glove if you’d like, or maybe try a paintbrush or even a pastry bag.

TO MAKE THE FALL DECORATIONS:

sugar-cookie-cornucopias

This was before I decided to dip the opening in the chocolate too. Either way works!

I really like the flavor of candy clay (or molding chocolate) for the little fruits and vegetables. It doesn’t clash with the flavor of the cookie the way taffy, fruit leather, or hard candy does.But if time is of the essence, take the easy route and use store bought goodies; they’ll look cute either way.

Here is a link with instructions for making it out of candy melts: Wiltons Candy Clay.  I made a batch of clay using white candy melts, immediately split it up into small bowls and added food coloring before putting the pieces in sandwich bags to set until firm.

The corn in the picture above was made with yellow candy clay, wrapped with very thin green clay. The pumpkin was made with orange clay. The stem was a little piece of brown candy corn. Cocoa nibs look great too, if you have them. Bananas, grapes, oranges, apples…all from clay, molded individually. The grapes were kind of fun. Park yourself in front of the TV with purple candy clay, and start rolling tiny balls. Lots and lots of tiny purple (or green!) balls. Clump a group of them together, pressing just until they hold together.grapes

Some other options come already shaped, like hard candy fruits (Runts), fruit shaped fruit-snacks, marzipan, or fondant. You can also shape your own without the fuss of making the candy clay by using sturdy taffy (like Starburst) which molds very well. Red sixlets with little leaves on top would be perfect for apples.

Here are visuals of the various options.l-to-r-is-hardest-to-easiest

 

A comparison of different mediums - fruit rolls, candy corn (Harvest mix) and candy clay.

A comparison of different mediums – fruit rolls, candy corn (Harvest mix) and candy clay.

When making leaves, use:

  • fruit rolls for vibrant color and simplicity
  • thinly rolled candy corn for rich fall color. Relatively easy.
  • Candy clay. You create the colors – these are more subdued, but thin and realistic. And definitely more effort because you have to mix the clay ahead of time.

You could also use marzipan or fondant, or you could pipe leaves using melted chocolate or candy melts. I don’t recommend gum paste – you want these to be tasty!

Small leaf cutters are wonderful. I used one that came in a kit for gum paste. I used a small x-acto blade to cut out maple and oak leaves. You’ll notice there are a lot less of those! I didn’t think about this option until after I was finished and ready to post the recipe, but if you have small chocolate molds, you could MOLD the leaves instead of cutting them. They won’t be as thin, but the shape would be right and it would be very easy.

A WORD OF ADVICE:

Since this was fussy work, and pretty time-consuming, I’d recommend spreading your efforts over a couple of days so you don’t burn out. Make the little fruits, vegetables, and leaves one day (store them covered, at room temperature) and the cookies the next day. Maybe you can find some little helpers to help fashion some of the decorations.crispy-cornucopia-cookies-the-rowdy-baker

I’d love to see what you come up with. If you make these, post a picture on my Facebook page so I can enjoy your creativity!

Happy fall,

Lorinda

 

 

 

Raised Gingerbread Loaf

raised-gingerbread-loaf-from-the-rowdy-bakerThis is definitely not your Grandma’s gingerbread! It’s a tender, rich yeast bread with the fragrance and flavor of spicy gingerbread…just not as sweet. (Don’t expect cake.)

And oh, my, does it toast well! When I took my first bite of a toasted slice, I immediately thought of cinnamon raisin bread, with a delectable hint of Boston brown bread. I love them both, so I was very pleased with the outcome.raised-gingerbread-loaf-toasted-the-rowdy-baker

I sure hope you like raisins, because they really make this bread special. Since the dough isn’t overly sweet, those little sugary bits of raisins add interest to the finished loaf. You could successfully substitute any chopped, dried fruit though, for a similar effect.

Can you imagine the French toast it made? C’est délicieux!gingerbread-french-toast

The recipe makes two loaves of bread, or you can make one loaf and turn the other half of the dough into Gingerbread Sticks! Half of the dough will make 20 long sticks or 40 short ones. You may want to go for the short variety for two reasons: They are fairly soft (especially the next day), so the short ones are sturdier. And, if you offer my Orange Cream Cheese Dip with the long sticks, you’re going to get the dreaded double-dipping!

gingerbreadsticks-from-the-rowdy-baker

So. Warm slices slathered in butter, toast (my personal favorite), French toast, or Gingerbreadsticks. Pretty versatile! I don’t think it would be your go-to bread for a ham and cheese sandwich, but still…lots of good reasons to make a batch.

Raised Gingerbread Loaf
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Makes two loaves or one loaf and 20 long (or 40 short) Gingerbreadsticks.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk (I use whole milk)
  • ⅔ cup molasses
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (more to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ⅓ cup warm water
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 6+ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup raisins
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, scald the milk. (Heat just until it gets bubbly all around the edge.) Remove from heat and whisk in the molasses, butter, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and brown sugar.
  2. Once butter is completely melted, stir in the buttermilk. Allow mixture to cool until lukewarm.
  3. In a small bowl combine ½ teaspoon sugar and warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top and allow the mixture to sit until bubbly - about 5 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl (a stand mixer is best) combine the lukewarm molasses mixture and yeast mixture. Add eggs and combine.
  5. Using a dough hook (or sturdy wooden spoon if beating by hand) stir in 6 cups of the flour and beat for 3 minutes. Dough will be very sticky. Add raisins. Slowly add flour as necessary, a couple of tablespoons at a time, just until dough comes cleanly from the sides of the bowl. Knead by machine or by hand for 2 additional minutes.
  6. Dough will be sticky; it will be more manageable after it has risen. Dump dough into well greased bowl, tossing to cover surface. Cover with a towel and allow dough to rise until double. THIS WILL TAKE LONGER THAN USUAL, because the dough is so sweet and rich. It can take up to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.
  7. Punch dough down. Divide into two pieces. Shape into loaves and place in well greased (or spray the pans with Baker's Joy) loaf pans. Cover with towel and let rise again until almost doubled.
  8. Heat oven to 375 F. When preheated, cut a shallow slice along the top of each loaf and bake for approximately 40 minutes. Remove from oven, brush the top of each loaf with butter for a pretty shine, and turn out onto a cooling rack.
  9. To make Gingerbreadsticks, roll ½ of the dough out to approximately 12-inches by 18-inches. Cut into 20 long strips. If you'd like shorter sticks (they're easier to handle) cut down the middle for 40 short strips. Place on parchment or slightly greased baking sheet. Allow to rise for at least 1 hour. They won't double in size, but should be light and puffy. Brush with an egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon water, and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for about 12-14 minutes.

Combine yeast and molasses mixtures, then add eggs.

Combine yeast and molasses mixtures, then add eggs.

Add flour. Not too much - this should be a sticky dough!

Add flour. Not too much – this should be a sticky dough!

It's a little sticky. Grease your bowl and your hands and toss the dough to coat it completely. Let it rise.

It’s a little sticky. Grease your bowl and your hands and toss the dough to coat it completely. Let it rise.

Form loaves.

Form loaves, let them rise (it can take up to 2 hours for a sweet dough like this) and bake.

Swipe a little butter on the hot bread for a pretty shine.

Swipe a little butter on the hot bread for a pretty shine.

Or make Gingerbreadsticks.

Or make Gingerbreadsticks.

Brush with a little egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar before baking.

Brush with a little egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar before baking.

I like to dip the Gingerbreadsticks in whipped cream, but for a little more flavor, make this easy Orange Cream Cheese Dip:  Beat together 8 ounces of cream cheese, 1/4 cup heavy cream, and 2 tablespoons concentrated orange juice. When smooth and creamy, gradually add 1 cup powdered sugar. Dip away!

Wait until you smell this dough baking! Mmmmmm.

Lorinda

 

Easy Cheesy Olive Bread

Easy Cheesy Olive BreadMy love for olives has evolved over the years. When I was young, black olives were served for holidays or with company meals. Mom knew enough to have several cans chilling in the fridge, because each of us girls needed ten…one for each finger, of course.

Green olives, and their little red pimientos, were gross. Something my folks had on a toothpick (along with a slimy little onion) in their martinis. Eeeeuw.

Many, many years passed before I discovered Kalamata olives and fell madly in love. Then, at a book club meeting (I believe wine was involved, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have tried them) I ate an embarrassing number of giant green olives, stuffed with garlic and jalapeños. Oh.My.

Today I put all of these olives, along with some sharp cheddar cheese, into a rustic, round, crispy loaf of bread. The dough is simple and basic; there are just a few extra steps to take to add the cheese and olives. It was super easy, and better than I had dared to hope. This will be a serious staple around here from now on!olives!

Easy Cheesy Olive Bread
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Author:
Makes one round loaf. You may want to double this recipe - seriously!
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups very warm water
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 3½ - 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup grated cheese (I used sharp Cheddar. Italian cheeses would be good, too.)
  • 1 cup chopped olives, pressed firmly in paper towels to remove excess moisture
  • Cornmeal
Instructions
  1. Prepare baking sheet by sprinkling the center lightly with cornmeal.
  2. In a small bowl, combine ½ cup of the warm water with sugar. Sprinkle in the yeast and allow the mixture to sit until bubbly - about 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl (a stand mixer with a dough hook, if you have it) combine the remaining warm water, yeast mixture, olive oil, garlic salt, and 3 cups of the bread flour. Mix together for 1 minute.
  4. Slowly add as much of the remaining flour as needed for the dough to come cleanly away from the sides of the bowl. Knead by machine for 5 minutes, or by hand for 8 minutes.
  5. Coat a large bowl with olive oil. Form the dough into a rough ball, turn several times in the bowl to coat the surface, cover and let rise until doubled - about 1 hour.
  6. Move to a lightly floured surface. Flatten dough and roll out to a rectangle approximately 14-inches by 9-inches, with the long side facing you. It should only take a few swipes with the rolling pin.
  7. Place half of the grated cheese in the center third of the rectangle. Cover with half of the olive mixture. Fold the right side of the dough over the cheese and olives.
  8. Place the remaining cheese and olives over the top (the left third of the dough will still be bare). Fold the left side over to cover the cheese and olives. Pinch all around to seal.
  9. Gently roll again - not quite as large, about 12-inches by 7-inches with the long side facing you. Again fold the right side over the center third, and then the left side over the right side. Pinch edges and form into a ball by gently bringing dough up to meet in the middle, pinching to close. Turn the dough over so the pinched center is on the bottom.
  10. Place dough on prepared baking sheet and let rise until almost doubled - about 40 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, place a baking pan in the bottom of the oven and add several cups of water. Preheat oven to 450, giving the oven plenty of time to develop some steam before the bread has risen.
  12. Cut an "X" in the top of the loaf with a razor or sharp knife, and carefully (that steam will be HOT!) open oven and quickly place bread on center rack. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until it's deep golden brown.
  13. Cool on a baking rack.

 

Bubbly yeast = happy dough!

Bubbly yeast = happy dough!

Mix everything together (well...except fot the cheese and olives!)

Mix everything together (well…except fot the cheese and olives!)

Dough in oiled bowl, ready to rise.

Dough in oiled bowl, ready to rise.

Doubled.

Doubled.

Put cheese and olives in the center third of the dough.

Put cheese and olives in the center third of the dough.

Fold the right side over the center.

Fold the right side over the center.

Add remaining cheese and olives and fold left side over the mixture. Pinch to seal.

Add remaining cheese and olives and fold left side over the mixture. Pinch to seal.

Roll, fold in thirds the other direction.

Roll, fold in thirds the other direction.

Pull sides up to the top and pinch to seal. Flip over onto baking sheet.

Pull sides up to the top and pinch to seal. Flip over onto baking sheet.

While the bread rises, place shallow pan in oven and add water. Steam helps create a lovely crust!

While the bread rises, place shallow pan in oven and add water. Steam helps create a lovely crust!

Cut an "X" in the top with a straight razor or very sharp knife, and bake!

Once risen, cut an “X” in the top with a straight razor or very sharp knife, and bake!

Easy Cheesy Olive Bread - The Rowdy Baker!

 

I’ll bet this dough would make wonderful soft breadsticks, dipped in a little marinara sauce. Or maybe even pizza dough! Guess I’d better go buy another big jar of those green olives.

Ciao!

Lorinda

Pitsate (Italian cookies)

Pitsate - the rowdy bakerAlthough I enjoy creating my own recipes, old family favorites are hard to beat. Unless you’re a member of a huge family corporation, “secret” recipes have a tendency to get leaked (or blogged), especially after a few glasses of wine. This may be one of those special recipes!

I plead the fifth, and so do any (ahem) co-conspirators.

I took a peek at Google, curious to see if a similar recipe had already made it onto the Internet, and was shocked to see there was only ONE recipe for Pitsate that I could find. That one included a powdered chocolate drink mix, so I’d have to say it’s not quite as old and traditional as this version.

Pitsate cookies are hard to describe. They’re similar to biscotti, but not quite as crunchy. Filled with toasted almonds and chocolate, delicately spiced, and rolled on powdered sugar (which gives them just a hint of crusty sweet glaze), these cookies are absolutely perfect for dunking in a cup of coffee.Pitsate from The Rowdy Baker

The traditional diamond shape can be a little challenging. I like to roll the dough out and use a giant pizza cutter (a long knife will do) to cut diagonal lines which make perfect diamonds.

Of course, this also creates triangles, but they can be overlapped slightly and smooshed together to make diamonds. Honestly? I have no problem eating triangles.

Diamonds are your best friend! Resulting triangles? Meh.

Diamonds are your best friend! Resulting trianges? Meh.

Alternatively, you can take balls of dough about as big as a large egg (these are big cookies!), flatten it, and trim it into shape. If you do this, keep all the scraps in one place and knead them back together for a few more cookies. Or you can roll the dough into a square log and slice the cookies, though the chunks of almonds and chocolate can make that option pretty interesting.

Did I mention these are big? They’re for dunking, not a tea party! Mine are about 5 inches from top to bottom, and 2 1/2 inches from side to side. If you’re a nibbler, not a dunker, feel free to BREAK ITALIAN TRADITION and make them smaller.

I use very, very strong coffee in these cookies. I combine 1 cup of water with 1/2 cup freshly ground coffee and bring it to a simmer in a small pan, then remove from the heat and let it sit until cool. After pouring it through a fine sieve, there should be about 1/2 cup of rich coffee.

This java will put hair on your chest!

This java will put hair on your chest!

Pitsate
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Author:
Makes about 36 large cookies.
Ingredients
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2¼ cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • zest from 1 medium lemon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 10 ounces chopped, toasted almonds (make sure you toast them for best flavor!)
  • 8 ounces chopped dark chocolate (use chips if you prefer)
  • ½ cup very, very strong coffee - cooled
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400 F.
  2. Cover two baking sheets with parchment, or use silpats.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, cloves, and baking soda.
  4. Add lemon zest, vanilla, and eggs.
  5. Slowly add coffee and stir until combined.
  6. Stir in the almonds and chocolate chips.
  7. Sprinkle work surface generously with powdered sugar. Drop dough onto sugar and press into a disk. Turn over to coat both sides lightly, and roll approximately ⅓-inch thick.
  8. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut diamond shapes.
  9. Place on prepared pans approximately 1 inch apart, and bake for 12-13 minutes.
  10. Cool thoroughly on baking rack.
Combine dry ingredients

Combine dry ingredients

Hey, someone has to test the chocolate and make sure it's fresh, right?

Hey, someone has to test the chocolate and make sure it’s fresh, right?

Add lemon, vanilla, eggs, and coffee…yada yada yada. (In other words, I neglected to take a picture of this.)

Mix together the dough, almonds, and chocolate.

Mix together the dough, almonds, and chocolate. Roll, cut, and bake!

Now that is one sweet pitsate!

Now that is one sweet pitsate!

Pitsate

So…I can trust you guys, right? You didn’t get this recipe from me! What happens on The Rowdy Baker stays on The Rowdy Baker, my friends.

Shhhhhhhh.

Lorinda

Hearty Hamburger Buns

Hearty Hamburger Buns - The Rowdy BakerHomemade hamburger buns are easy to make, and taste so much better than store bought! Three types of flour are combined in this recipe to create a hearty dough that is substantial and flavorful, with a tender, consistently even crumb.

The Man’s birthday was today, and he chose hamburgers for his birthday dinner. I was willing to cook just about anything, but…he chose hamburgers! Since I’m trying to sneak whole wheat into our diet, I added enough to give the buns some character without turning them into hockey pucks. He said it was the best hamburger I’d ever made – so we were both happy with the results!Hearty Hamburger Buns from The Rowdy Baker

Of course, these buns aren’t just for hamburgers. Personally, I’m all about using them for peanut butter and banana sandwiches!  They’d be great for Sloppy Joes too, because they’re dense enough to keep from getting soggy.

This recipe makes sixteen average buns, or twelve large ones. They’re best fresh, so keep out the quantity you think you’ll eat in a couple of days and freeze the rest for later.

You really want this dough to be soft and slightly sticky so the buns aren’t too dry. There are lots of variables with bread: the brand of flour you use, your measuring technique, even the weather. So if it is really sticky, add a little more flour. You should be able to poke at the dough without having to wash your finger, but if you lift the dough with unfloured hands, it will definitely stick to them!

Hearty Hamburger Buns
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Author:
Makes 16 average buns or 12 large buns
Ingredients
  • 2 cups very warm water
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 packages active-dry yeast
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 3½ cups bread flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ¼ cup softened butter
  • sesame seeds or grated cheese if desired for topping
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl (preferably using a stand mixer) combine the warm water and sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the water and allow it to sit 5-10 minutes, or until it looks bubbly.
  2. Add honey and egg, mixing until well combined.
  3. With mixer on low, using a dough hook, add the bread flour and mix well. Add the wheat flour, cake flour, and salt, mixing until all flour is incorporated.
  4. Mix in the softened butter.
  5. Knead by machine for 5 minutes, (or 7-8 minutes by hand on a well floured board). THIS DOUGH WILL BE VERY SOFT AND SLIGHTLY STICKY. If it is very sticky, add a little more bread flour.
  6. Move dough to a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled - about 1 hour.
  7. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and cut into two equal pieces. Roll each piece into a log and cut each log into 8 pieces (or 6 pieces for jumbo buns).
  8. Form each piece into a ball and place on slightly greased baking sheets, no more than 6 pieces per sheet. Let the balls sit for 10 minutes, then press each one down firmly with the lightly greased bottom of a heavy pan. Let the buns rest and rise slightly in a warm place for 10 minutes, then lightly brush the top of each bun with water or milk. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, cheese, or both!
  9. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  10. Bake one sheet of buns at a time for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops are rich golden brown. Cool on a baking rack.

Once the yeast is softened and bubbly, add honey and egg.

Once the yeast is softened and bubbly, add honey and egg.

Then the flour and salt

Then the flour and salt

Add butter (okay...I forgot a pic of that) and knead. It will look pretty sticky, like this.

Add butter last (okay…I forgot a pic of that) and knead. It will look pretty sticky, like this.

Place dough in greased bowl. It won't be a pretty round ball, but that's okay.

Place dough in greased bowl. It won’t be a pretty round ball, but that’s okay.

Dough has doubled.

Dough has doubled.

Roll into two logs and cut into 16 pieces - or 12 if you want big 'uns.

Divide into 16 pieces – or 12 if you want big ‘uns.

Smash them flat with a heavy pan.

Smash them flat with a heavy pan.

Brush the tops with milk or water. (Milk will make a softer crust.)

Brush the tops with milk or water. (Milk will make a softer crust.)

Sprinkle with sesame seeds

Sprinkle with sesame seeds…

...or cheese.

…or cheese.

Bake until rich golden brown.

Bake until rich golden brown.

Not hard at all, huh? Like any rolls that come out of my oven, a couple of these babies were immediately hijacked, spread with butter, and inhaled. Who needs a burger?

Lorinda

Bear Farts! (Huckleberry Doughnut Drops)

Bear Farts - The Rowdy BakerBy now I should know better than to ask my husband to help me find a name for a new recipe; his sense of humor never evolved past fourth grade. But I have to admit, his suggestion made me laugh, and if you’ve ever wandered through the woods looking for huckleberries, you have probably seen lots of proof that bears found them first, and ate a ton of them!

To continue the bear theme with these delightful little cake doughnut drops, I made mine with honey instead of sugar. Buttermilk and a little fresh lemon are added for a touch of tang, but the huckleberries are really the star of the show.

Use fresh or frozen wild huckleberries, or small blueberries if you must. Expect to have a few escapees, as some will leap to their destruction in the hot oil. That’s a little distressing, since I know exactly how long and hard I have to pick to get a cup of berries, but the end result is worth the sacrifice. (Hint: Scoop those stray berries out of the oil between batches of Bear Farts. You don’t want them to cook into little black chunks that will stick to your lovely creations.)huckleberries aug 7 2016

These are very easy to make. Messing with the hot oil is the only time-consuming part of the recipe, but I’m just not crazy about baked doughnuts, so…I indulge in the real thing once in a while.

Oil is expensive. I use peanut oil (about $13.00 a gallon), and if I’m using my big stock pot it takes almost a gallon to get the oil deep enough. That’s a pricey batch of doughnuts! But you can use a smaller pan and just cook fewer doughnut drops at a time. You can also filter the used oil (cooled down, of course) through cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer and keep it in the refrigerator until you need it again.

Keep an eye on your thermometer and try to keep the oil at 350 F. If it gets hotter, the drops will get brown before the inside is done – not a good thing. Use a slotted spoon or spider to remove the doughnut drops, and layer them between paper towels to remove excess oil.

Remember, these aren’t light and airy like yeast doughnuts. They’re moist and dense, like…well…cake. Cake doughnuts are really best when they’re eaten fresh; they lose a little of their appeal by the next day. Eat ’em up!

Bear Farts! (Huckleberry Doughnut Drops)
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Author:
Makes about 48 doughnut drops. This can vary, depending on the size of your scoop.
Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 tablespoons oil (I use peanut oil)
  • ¾ cup honey
  • zest and juice from one medium lemon
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup huckleberries, divided (If using frozen berries, keep frozen until needed.)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • oil for frying (peanut or canola work well)
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, oil, honey, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Beat until frothy.
  2. In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large pan or a deep fat fryer, add at least 2 inches of oil and a candy thermometer. Heat to 350 degrees.
  4. While oil is heating, gently stir ⅔ cup of berries into the dry ingredients. Add the liquid ingredients and stir JUST until combined.
  5. Once oil is the proper temperature, use a small cookie scoop (or two spoons - one to push the dough off the other) to drop small amounts of dough - about a rounded teaspoon full - into hot oil. They won't be perfectly round; shapes will vary wildly!
  6. BE VERY CAREFUL! Wear oven mitts and watch the temperature of your oil constantly. Try to keep it between 350 and (at the most) 375 F.
  7. Use a slotted spoon or spider to roll the doughnut drops over. When they are a rich brown, remove and layer between paper towels to drain.
  8. Place remaining ⅓ cup of huckleberries in a small pan on low heat with 1 teaspoon water. Cook, stirring (and mashing) occasionally, until berries are soft and have released their juice. Strain the juice into a small cup. Reserve the mashed berries for another use, like a smoothie or ice cream topping.
  9. Place powdered sugar in a small bowl and add huckleberry juice while stirring, until it creates a thin glaze. Roll warm doughnut drops in glaze and place on waxed paper or a cooling rack to dry.

 

Beat the liquid ingredients until frothy.

Beat the liquid ingredients until frothy.

Add berries to dry ingredients, then add liquids. Don't over-mix!

Add berries to dry ingredients, then add liquids. Don’t over-mix!

Use a scoop and drop it like it's hot!

Use a scoop and drop it like it’s hot!

Keep the temperature steady and let them get nice and brown on the outside.

Keep the temperature steady and let them get nice and brown on the outside.

 

Betcha can't eat just one!

Betcha can’t eat just one!

Bear Farts from The Rowdy Baker

Summer is waning, but I think I have a few more recipes in me before we all embrace the pumpkin and pecan frenzy. Peaches and plums, then pears and apples…lots of fun seasonal foods are still calling to me, and I’ll share!

Lorinda

No-Bake S’mores Cheesecake

No bake s'mores cheesecake - The Rowdy BakerWith grandchildren here for their summer visit, all thoughts have turned to s’mores. Cheesecake was our plan for their mom’s birthday, so you can guess what flavor we chose!

We made a large cheesecake with a graham cracker crust, a layer of chocolate cheesecake, a layer of chocolate ganache, and a layer of marshmallow cheesecake…and then decorated around the top with whipped cream and ganache rosettes.

I totally stole this photo collage from my daughter. Thank you, Brenna!

I totally stole this photo collage from my daughter. Thank you, Brenna!

 

When I say “we”, I really mean it. The girls are getting old enough to not only help, but practically take over. It’s gotten past the grit my teeth and try not to meddle stage; now I feel more like a conductor with a very talented and capable orchestra. Oh, and the beautiful blue nails in the picture? Those are 12-year old Sophie’s, not mine! (They’d be a little impractical for me in the garden.)

My daughter loved the dessert, and so did we. I especially liked the fluffy marshmallow layer, and would probably double that part of the recipe next time. There was enough room to fit it into the pan, and it deserved equal billing with the chocolate layer in my opinion.

Hints:

  • I used a 10-inch springform pan. Use a 9-inch pan, if you prefer. There’s room for all of the layers, but your decorations will just be on top instead of nestled into the crumb sides.
  • If you love marshmallows, you could add another handful to the melted marshmallow mixture before combining with the cream cheese.
No-Bake S'mores Cheesecake
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Author:
3 layers of goodness - chocolate cheesecake, ganache, and marshmallow cheesecake - make this a luscious (yet not too rich or heavy) dessert that will easily serve 10-12.
Ingredients
  • CRUST:
  • 2 cups finely-ground graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE:
  • 1½ cups chocolate chips
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups non-dairy whipped topping
  • GANACHE:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 10 ounces good quality dark chocolate
  • MARSHMALLOW CHEESECAKE:
  • 6 ounces mini-marshmallows
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream, divided
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 cup non-dairy whipped topping
Instructions
  1. CRUST - baked or no-baked options given.
  2. Baked (my favorite method): Heat oven to 325 F. Lightly spray 10-inch springform pan with an oil/flour spray like Baker's Joy. Place pan on baking sheet.
  3. Combine 2 cups graham cracker crumbs, ½ cup melted butter, and ¼ cup brown sugar. Press very firmly into pan, using fingers or straight sided measuring cup. Bake for 10 minutes. Move to rack to cool.
  4. No-bake crust: Prepare crust as described, but instead of baking, place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour before adding filling.
  5. CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE LAYER:
  6. Melt chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 15 seconds until completely melted, or in small pan over lowest heat possible, stirring often. Set aside to cool slightly.
  7. In a large bowl, combine 12 ounces cream cheese, ½ cup sugar, and ¼ cup softened butter. Beat well.
  8. Add ¼ cup cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon vanilla, and beat until combined.
  9. Gradually add melted chocolate, beating until incorporated.
  10. Gently fold in 2 cups whipped topping. Spread evenly over prepared crust. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  11. While the cheesecake is chilling, prepare the ganache.
  12. GANACHE:
  13. Chop the 10 ounces of dark chocolate finely and place in a small bowl.
  14. In a small pan, heat 1 cup cream until it bubbles around the edges...almost to a boil. Remove from heat.
  15. Pour half of the hot cream over the chocolate and allow it to sit without stirring for a few minutes - this will begin melting the chocolate..Stir gently.
  16. Re-heat the remaining cream and pour over chocolate mixture. Allow to sit a few minutes more, then stir gently until smooth.
  17. Pour half of the ganache over the chocolate layer in the pan and return the cheesecake to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Put a piece of plastic wrap over the remaining ganache and set aside, stirring occasionally.
  18. MARSHMALLOW CHEESECAKE LAYER:
  19. In a small pan on low heat, stir together 6 ounces of marshmallows and ⅓ cup cream, Remove from heat before the marshmallows are completely melted, to leave little bites of marshmallows in the cheesecake. (If you prefer a smooth layer, stir until completely melted.) Allow to cool slightly.
  20. In medium bowl, beat together 8 ounces cream cheese, ¼ cup powdered sugar, and 1 tablespoon cream. Add the marshmallow mixture and stir until combined.
  21. Fold in 1 cup of whipped topping and spread the mixture over the ganache layer in the pan.
  22. Chill for several hours - overnight is even better! At any point during this chilling time, you can decorate your cheesecake:
  23. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip and pipe simple rosettes on a parchment lined baking sheet. Freeze for at least 1 hour.
  24. Decorate cheesecake with whipped cream, ganache rosettes, graham crackers, or cracker crumbs.
  25. Remove the springform pan ring and serve!
Press the crust into the pan very firmly.

Press the crust into the pan very firmly.

Spread the chocolate cheesecake layer evenly.

Spread the chocolate cheesecake layer evenly.

Between the chocolate layer and this lovely marshmallow layer was a layer of ganache...but we forgot to take a photo.

Between the chocolate layer and this lovely marshmallow layer was a layer of ganache…but we forgot to take a photo.

Sophie, piping out pretty ganache decorations.

Sophie, piping out pretty ganache decorations.

Sigh. My family has left, slowly working their way back to California. Things are quiet here – and I think I’m through with all things s’mores. At least until next summer!

Lorinda

 

 

 

Triple Chocolate S’mores Brownies

Triple Chocolate S'mores Brownies - The Rowdy BakerDeep, dark fudge brownies with a crumbly graham crust and chewy marshmallow topping are a dream come true for s’mores fans. They’re great for a crowd, because once the brownies have cooled down, the marshmallow turns from gooey to chewy, and won’t stick to a cover, so you can transport them easily to a picnic, potluck, or party.

I didn’t allow myself to Google s’mores brownies until I was writing this blog; sometimes it’s discouraging to see how many people have had the same exact idea!  And yes…this has been done and done and done. Sigh. But…it hasn’t been done by me before, and the idea of a brownie with a graham cracker crust really called to me. Guess I’m just jumping on the bandwagon with this one!

They’re easy to make and are hand stirred in one pot, so even I didn’t manage to make much of a mess – which was a very important criterion right now, since my kitchen is torn apart (getting a much-needed update) and I needed something to take to book club.

Trust me, when you’re washing dishes bent over the bathtub, you weigh the importance of using each bowl and utensil!Triple Chocolate S'mores Brownies from The Rowdy Baker

Makes 24 large brownies. You may notice that these probably won’t be on the “approved” list of most diets. Suck it up – they’re worth every calorie!

Triple Chocolate S'mores Brownies
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Author:
Makes 24 large, thick brownies.
Ingredients
  • GRAHAM CRUST:
  • 1¼ cups finely crushed graham crackers (9 double crackers) ...more for decorating if desired
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • BROWNIES:
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter (or 2¼ sticks)
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • ½ cup special dark unsweetened cocoa
  • 1½ cups mini chocolate chips (divided)
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups mini marshmallows
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan and line with parchment. (The grease will hold the parchment in place.) Spray parchment with a flour/oil baking spray like Baker's Joy.
  2. Combine graham cracker crumbs with ¼ cup melted butter and brown sugar. Press evenly into prepared pan.
  3. In a large pot, melt the butter. Remove from heat and add the sugar. Stir until well combined.
  4. In a small bowl or measuring cup, beat the eggs and vanilla until frothy. Add to pot and stir well.
  5. Add both kinds of cocoa, ½ cup of mini chocolate chips, flour, soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir JUST until combined. (A few streaks of flour showing is fine.)
  6. Drop spoonfuls of dough evenly over crust and smooth gently with an offset spatula, being careful not to disturb the crust. Spread close to edges of the pan.
  7. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the brownies comes out clean.
  8. Remove from oven and place on rack. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of mini chocolate chips. Let the pan sit undisturbed for 5 minutes (chips will be melted - you don't need to spread them) and then top with a single layer of mini marshmallows.
  9. Broil just until the marshmallows are golden brown. DON'T walk away - this goes fast, and you don't want black marshmallows! (They're pretty tasty at a campfire, but not so much on a baked treat.)
  10. Sprinkle with additional crushed graham crackers if desired, and allow brownies to cool in the pan on a rack for at least 30 minutes. Lift out by the parchment and cut into squares. Hint: the longer you wait, the easier they are to cut. If they're sticky and gooey, run a very sharp knife in butter before cutting each row.

Combine sugar and melted butter in large pot.

Combine sugar and melted butter in large pot.

Beat eggs and vanilla together. Stir into mixture.

Beat eggs and vanilla together. Stir into mixture.

Add everything else except for the marshmallows!

Add everything else except for the marshmallows!

Drop globs of batter over crust.

Drop globs of batter over crust.

Spread evenly. (An offset spatula is your friend.)

Spread evenly. (An offset spatula is your friend.)

Pull the brownies from the oven and scatter mini chocolate chips over the top.

Pull the brownies from the oven and scatter mini chocolate chips over the top.

When chocolate is melted, add a layer of marshmallows.

When chocolate is melted, add a layer of marshmallows.

Broil just until golden. Holy crap, it happens fast. Do NOT take your eyes off of the oven!!! Add crushed crackers if you'd like.

Broil just until golden. Holy crap, it happens fast. Do NOT take your eyes off of the oven!!! Add crushed crackers if you’d like.

Once cooled, slide a very sharp knife through butter and cut into squares. The longer you wait, the easier they are to cut. Of course, mine were VERY gooey because I’m all about instant gratification.

Happy summer!

Lorinda