Thursday, April 28, 2011

Honey-Roasted Applesauce

As May approaches... and the end of Sugarpalooza! is on the horizon... and my priorities shift from personal overindulgence to nurturing my newly expanded family...

Our sugar consumption is evolving.

Less of the white stuff. More fruit. Like citrus, as its season wraps up. And berries and melons. (Soon. Hopefully. Please, God, have mercy on us and send us some seasonable weather.) And apples. In the form of sauce. Because my toddler still has only seven teeth and likes to stuff her face in a way that probably (but falsely!) suggests to strangers that we starve her. A bad, health-hazardous combo when raw apples are involved. (She could choke. I could have a heart attack for fear of said choking. It's a lose-lose.)

Applesauce isn't especially glamorous or novel, I realize. But this applesauce is something else. It's not like the kind you buy at the store when you're too lazy to make proper food for your child. It's not the super simple kind that you get alongside potato pancakes at IHOP (although it would go nicely with some potato pancakes).

No indeed. This stuff is lovely. It's roasted. It's honeyed. It's slightly spiced and tartened up a tad with lemon juice and zest. Yes. Lovely. And if you use a red- or pink-tinted type of apple and don't remove the peel, it's quite pretty as well.

great for toddlers too!

Applesauce. Not just for toddlers.

But toddlers sure like it. Especially when the serving spoon is within reach.

(This was especially tasty alongside some breakfast sausage links, FYI.)

applesauce sauce
applesauce start to finish

Honey-Roasted Applesauce
Adapted a lot from Vegan with a Vengeance
Yield: 2-3 cups

1.5-2 lbs apples (5-6 medium apples) (I used Purity apples that were v. Gala-like)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon mild flavored oil or melted butter (I use grapeseed oil)
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger)
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch of allspice or nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash apples, peel them if you are so inclined (I won't judge you), cut them into 1" pieces, and place them in a 9" square baking dish or something comparably sized. Sprinkle them with lemon juice.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the oil or butter, honey, and remaining ingredients. Drizzle mixture over apples and toss to coat.

Roast until the apples are pretty tender, 20-25 minutes, turning the pan around after about 12 minutes. Once they are done roasting, either mash the apples in a large bowl or pulse them a few times in a blender or food processor. (I carefully used an immersion blender and that allowed me to have the most control over the consistency. I like it mostly blended but with a few token chunks.) Can be served warm or chilled. (I prefer the latter. Especially with sausage.) Stores in refrigerator in an airtight container for 5-7 days.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

White Chocolate-Milk Crumb Oatmeal Cookies

So. I mentioned rather off-handedly a few days ago that I topped half of my recent batch of white chocolate brownies with a random little something called milk crumbs. I can take no credit for the development of milk crumbs, but was naturally, immediately intrigued when I first read about them in Bon App├ętit last fall. They are the "sweet, savory, creamy component" in many recipes by Christina Tosi, the mastermind pastry chef at Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC, creator of Crack Pie, Cinnamon Roll Pie (I know! It's on my list!), Brown Butter Custard Pie, Cereal Milk Panna Cotta with Caramelized Cornflake Crunch, and - of course - the infamous Compost Cookies from which my infamous OMG Cookies are adapted. (Oh and there's more. Google her. She's a national treasure.*)

The primary ingredient in the milk crumb recipe is powdered milk. We've had that as a pantry staple for about a year and a half now, first during our bread machine phase (we ditched that a few months ago since MC's handmade breads are a thousand times better), then during our Super Baby Food phase, and now because of the inspiration that is Christina Tosi. (Also, I continue to use it to thicken up homemade yogurt and as a nutritional booster in some of the weirder foods I make - stuff I don't post about here because it's more healthy than delicious or attractive.)

When I read that at Momofuku Milk Bar they use these crumbs in their compost cookies as well as other desserts, I just had to try them.

So I made them. And they are totally weird but I totally like them.

Thus far, I've used them in granola (by far my most interesting, innovative, and delicious use of them - will do again soon and will document and post about it), on top of aforementioned white chocolate brownies, and as a mix-in in the white chocolate oatmeal cookies featured below. It's not a coincidence that the milk crumbs were paired with white chocolate two out of three times. I mean, sure, I had to use up the several boxes of 31% cacao white chocolate I'd bought from TJ Maxx the day after I made the milk crumbs... but, more importantly, they go together quite nicely because white chocolate is so sweet and creamy and the milk crumbs are more salty-savory and creamy, and I love love love a well-constructed salty-sweet treat. Add creaminess and, well, I have not the words.

Which brings us to today's post.

Hello traditional Quaker Oatmeal Cookie. Allow me to introduce you to Milk Crumbs. And perhaps you've met White Chocolate before? I think you all could make some real magic together. Well, go on then.

before and after bakingcookie close up

That's what I'm talking about.

White Chocolate-Milk Crumb Oatmeal Cookies
Sort of adapted from the Quaker Rolled Oats box
Yield: about 2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (use only 1/4 teaspoon if you are using milk crumbs, plus some coarse salt to sprinkle tops)
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup white chocolate chips or coarsely chopped white chocolate bar (at least 30% cacao content)
1/2 cup milk crumbs (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, using a mixer or a wooden spoon, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg, and almond extract. In a separate bowl, whisk together the whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, then add the rolled oats, white chocolate, and milk crumbs, if using. Chill the dough for at least an hour, then scoop up tablespoon-sized mounds and place them on a baking sheet at least two inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven. Allow to cool and firm up on the baking sheets for another five minutes or so, then place on a rack to cool completely. Or just eat them not quite cool. The salty-sweet thing is even more mouthwatering when the white chocolate is still warm and gooey.

These stored well in an air-tight container in our kitchen for about three days. They would freeze well too once completely cooled. You could also scoop up mounds of uncooked dough, freeze them on a plate or baking sheet, and then throw them into a bag or container and store in the freezer for a couple months. Throw them in the oven frozen and bake them for 12-15 minutes rather than 10.

*I am so enthralled by anything and everything associated with this sugar-loving woman that I at one point had the Momofuku restaurant's cookbook on my Amazon wish list, having assumed (or wished anyway) that a whole section would be on their desserts. Imagine my dismay when there were none! Needless to say it has since been removed from my list. The good news is that she's supposed to be producing a cookbook of her own sometime in the foreseeable future.

In the meantime, some insight from a NYMag interview with Tosi:

What’s one ingredient you can’t live without?
Milk powder. We put it in a lot of the cookie recipes. I call it the MSG of baked goods. It adds this really interesting depth of flavor.

Indeed.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Coconut Tres Leches Cake

Today's Sugarpalooza! broadcast features a new player on thishereblog: Coconut Palm Sugar. If I were a better, more thorough food blogger, if I got paid to do the magic that I do in my kitchen and on this keyboard, or even if I'd gotten more than three hours of sleep in a row in the last four weeks, here is where I might share with you some insights on why coconut sugar is unique and worth trying. I might weigh in on the sustainability concerns regarding using coconut sugar in a climate as decidedly non-tropical as that of Minnesota. I might talk about glycemic indexes.

Unfortunately or fortunately for you - depending on whether you like to read all the mumbo jumbo before the goods or not - I have neither the time nor the energy nor the knowledge nor the moral answers to discuss any of those topics.

I merely have the following pearls:

1. Coconut sugar is interesting. Less sweet than sugar. Not especially coconuty, but unique and lovely nonetheless.

2. Coconut sugar, at least in coconut tres leches cake, can easily be replaced with another kind of sugar, as indicated in the recipe.

3. This cake is wonderful. It was made twice in my home in one month, once for my husband's birthday (the day before our baby was born!). That's meaningful, isn't it?

coconut cake collage
slice of coconut tres leches cake

If you make this and bring me a slice you can have your cake and Edith too. I'm just sayin. I've been a little too busy to make my own cakes lately. And it's Sugarpalooza! after all.

Coconut Tres Leches Cake
From yours truly (greatly adapted from Warm Bread and Honey Cake's Three-Milk Cake recipe)
Yield: 9 big slices or 12-16 smaller ones

For cake
3 eggs
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar (or regular sugar or light brown sugar)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

For milk mixture
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (or kefir or sour cream)
2/3 cup evaporated milk (or half & half)
1/2 cup coconut milk, shaken well

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8" square cake pan.

Beat together the eggs, coconut palm sugar (or other sugar), and vanilla until thick and pale (about 3-4 minutes). In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Add the milk and coconut and stir until just combined. Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake for about 25 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees after about 15 minutes. The cake will be done when it is dark golden brown.

About five minutes before the cake is done baking, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk and yogurt until the mixture is as smooth as you can get it manually. Add the evaporated milk and coconut milk.

Once the cake is finished baking, prick holes all over the cake with a large fork. Slowly, as evenly as possible, pour half the milk mixture over the warm cake. Wait about 30 seconds and then repeat with the remaining half of the milk mixture. (If it looks like the cake is drowning, that's okay. That's AWESOME, in fact. But if the liquid is going to overflow, just slow down, let it absorb into the cake a little longer, and then carry on with remaining milks.)

Allow the soaked cake to cool. Chill until ready to serve. Serve in squares cold or at room temperature, spooning up any milk that has pooled in the pan and drizzling it on top. This cake is better on day 2 than 1 and it just keeps getting better over time, as the milks get absorbed into the cake. It kept quite nicely in our refrigerator for about five days.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sugarpalooza! White Chocolate Brownies!

Hey guess what? I no longer have gestational diabetes. It went away with the enormous baby, placenta, and umbilical cord that I pushed out of my body two weeks ago. Yay for me! Yay for my kitchen!

I've been testing my glucose levels sporadically and they seem low and healthy. Nonetheless, the diagnosis changed my relationship with food (an already dynamic, at times volatile relationship), specifically with carbohydrates, even more specifically with sugar, and I'm grateful for all I learned about my body and how it processes food in the last few months. (It hates sugar. Most bodies do. Too bad sugar tastes so wonderful.) Anyway, I'm sort of on a crazy sugar binge right now, but intend to get more moderate or even a little strict about my carbohydrate (especially sugar) consumption in two weeks or so. Until then, it's sugarpalooza in the Cameron household and I plan on posting about all the sugary treats that we're devouring so that you can be part of the celebration too.

Welcome, baby! Now let's have some brownies!

These were actually brownies I made to bring to the hospital and spoil all the nurses who cared for me and my baby. But then I didn't go into labor and the brownies just kept staring at us, tempting us, testing our self-restraint - and they were accordingly devoured before we made it to the hospital. Some made an appearance at my husband's office though, and I'm told we're to expect comments from his lucky taste-testing colleagues.

white chocolate brownie collage
pan of brownies
melt in your mouth goodness

These are buttery, white-chocolatey heaven. On half the brownies, I sprinkled half a cup of milk crumbs that I'd had left over after making a batch for some other recipes. They were good but not essential. If you're interested in a salty-sweet crumbly topping, the recipe is at Epicurious. Alternatively, you could just sprinkle the whole pan of brownies with a half-teaspoon of coarse sea salt before baking them. These brownies were good with zero topping though.

Double White Chocolate Brownies
Yield: 30 brownies

1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
16 ounces white chocolate chips (or coarsely chopped white chocolate bars)
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1" cubes
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk crumbs or 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.

Put 11 ounces of white chocolate (if using chocolate chips, this is about 2 or 2.5 cups, depending on size) and all of the butter in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water (or use a double boiler). Stir occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature. Add 3 eggs to the white chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining 2 eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until just combined.

Sprinkle the flour and salt over the white chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the white chocolate mixture until just a bit of the flour is visible. Gently stir in the remaining white chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with milk crumbs or coarse sea salt, if using. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely before diving in. Cut into squares and serve.

Store at room temperature in an airtight container or wrap with plastic wrap for up to 7 days. They were good that long in our house anyway. (They'd freeze well too, once completely cooled, particularly if you don't use the milk crumbles.)