Sometimes a girl has a sweet tooth. And by sometimes, I mean all the time. But for obvious reasons such a girl
can’t shouldn’t spend her days devouring samples of quickbreads, ganache, pie dough, and cake. She shouldn’t, right? Well, most times she does.
She doesn’t know how to feel about it yet. Happy? Guilty? Proud? Sick to her stomach? Sometimes she overdoes the consumption, so yes…all of the above and in that order.
Anyways, in order to satisfy the sweet cravings and not feel like a complete mess afterwards, she decided to create a simple, healthy, and delicious recipe based off a treat her sister-in-law Louise made and offered her one day. Ever since she tried those cashew balls that her sister-in-law made, she wasn’t able to rest her mind and let it go. She simply had to recreate that flavor! She reinterpreted what some of the ingredients were, or what she thought they were.
So this is the recipe the girl wrote.
Oh, and I’m the girl.
- 1 cup unsalted roasted cashews
- ¾ cup dates, pitted and roughly chopped
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- Combine all ingredients except for the unsweetened shredded coconut in a food processor. Pulse until ingredients are well mixed and mixture is ground to paste.
- Scoop or pinch paste into small pieces. Roll paste into balls and roll each ball in shredded coconut to cover each one completely.
Oh wait. That’s not entirely true. I have to let you know about these “biscotti delights”, as my aunt calls them.
They are true delights indeed, as they encompass complex flavors of orange, pistachio, almond, dried cranberries, and dark chocolate. The bright and intense spectrum of colors—green, orange, deep red, and dark brown—will doubtlessly make your heart sing and your taste buds crave several bites.
So don’t hold back. Dip, lightly soak, and enjoy. Enjoy every single bite of these biscotti delights.
- 4 oz (1/2 cup) butter
- 6 oz (about ¾ cup) sugar
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 10 oz (about 2 ¼ cups) flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup slivered almonds, chopped
- ½ cup pistachios, chopped
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
- about 14 oz (3 cups) of tempered dark chocolate–optional
- 1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line a large sheet tray with parchment paper.
- 2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside for later use.
- 3. Cream butter, sugar, and orange zest with a paddle attachment in a standing mixer for about 4-5 minutes.
- 4. Add in the eggs one at a time along with vanilla and almond extracts. Scrape sides of bowl down.
- 5. Turn the mixer on low speed and pour in the dry ingredients slowly. Mix just until the dough comes together.
- 6. Add slivered almonds, pistachios, and dried cranberries. Continue to mix on low until all ingredients are well incorporated.
- 7. Flour a work surface and dump the dough out of the bowl right onto the floured surface. Divide biscotti dough in half and roll the dough into two cylinders, each being about 9” (length) x 2.5” (width). Pick up cylinders carefully and place them onto sheet tray. Press cylinders down to flatten them out a bit until each cylinder is about 1.5” high.
- 8. Bake for about 25-35 minutes or until golden brown and rotating sheet tray midway baking time. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
- 9. Slice the cooled loaves with a serrated knife on the bias into slices that are about ½” thick.
- 10. Place cut slices back onto sheet tray and bake for an additional 7-10 minutes on each side, until slices are lightly golden on top and bottom. Remove sheet tray from oven and cool completely.
- 11. Dip half of each biscotti into tempered dark chocolate if desired. Allow chocolate to fully set.
Two words for you: Fried Baklava. I’ll let the pictures say the rest.
But really, this recipe is simple to execute and super gratifying to taste. It’s magnificently light and crispy on the outside while being decadently rich on the inside. The blend of honey, cinnamon, dates, and nut flavors will keep you coming back for more. More good news? Once the baklava are assembled, you are bound to enjoy them in a matter of seconds, as this baklava is…fried.
On another note, today is February 3, 2013. For me it’s just another regular Sunday, but for a multitude of other people, today is the Super Bowl, an event that in my opinion holds just as much power as a holiday.
Over the years, I have never watched the Super Bowl. I know nothing about the sport of football. Like really….. nothing. Oh wait, I guess I do know that people tend to enjoy chips and salsa, chili, various types of dips, an assortment of precut veggies, and of course….lots and lots of booze. And then there’s the other stuff. This year for example, Beyoncé will perform during half time. And those commercials…aren’t they good? See? I know a thing or two.
I have zero emotional connection to this sport, so instead of watching the Ravens and the 49ers fight over the Super Bowl trophy, I am keeping myself busy by reviewing this recipe I wrote a few days ago and bringing it to you. I hope you enjoy this as much as you may or may not enjoy the Super Bowl!
Yield: About 24 pieces. Serve immediately.
Ingredients for Baklava Filling:
3/4 C dates, roughly chopped
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons honey
small pinch of salt
Recipe for Baklava Filling:
1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until mixture is finely grounded and comes together to form a paste. Set aside for later use.
Ingredients for Honey Cinnamon Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Recipe for Honey Cinnamon Cream:
1. Combine heavy cream, honey, and cinnamon in bowl. Whisk until cream thickens and stiff peaks form. Refrigerate and set aside for later use.
Ingredients for Fried Baklava:
vegetable oil for deep frying
honey cinnamon cream
walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
Recipe for Fried Baklava:
1. Stack three sheets of phyllo dough over a cutting board. Make 2″ marks along the bottom edge of stack. Cut vertically along each mark to create 2″ strips.
2. Lightly apply eggwash along the strip of phyllo dough with a pastry brush.
3. Scoop about 1 teaspoon of baklava filling. Form the filling into a ball with your hands and form the ball into a cylinder.
4. Place the cylinder at the bottom of each strip of phyllo dough.
5. Roll phyllo dough over the filling and keep rolling until the dough has gone around the filling and it reaches the end of the strip. Cut across the phyllo dough to separate the roll. Place roll on a dish with seam side down. Repeat steps 1-5 until all of the filling has been used.
6. Heat up vegetable oil in a small sauce pan over low-medium heat and fry until golden brown. This happens fairly quickly, about 8-10 seconds.
7. Place fried baklava over a napkin to soak up excess oil.
8. Meanwhile, place honey cinnamon cream in a piping bag that has a #3 plain tip. Pipe spirals of cream on a serving plate. Place baklava over cream. Finish with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of finely chopped toasted walnuts.Read More
I love FaceTime. Thank you Steve Jobs for making your Apple/Mac products so…just so damn good.
Because of FaceTime I get to see my 6-month-old niece who lives in Austin chew her sock and smile at my feeble attempt to make her giggle. Hearing her giggle is the best sound in this world by the way.
Because of FaceTime I get to see Mark when he’s away on tour with his band Periphery. “So where in Europe are you today again? Oh, Prague, of course. How beautiful. I wish I was there too.”
And because of FaceTime I get to see my wonderful mother who lives in Spain. I always tell her that I love her and that I can’t wait to see her. And then she’ll say, “I know. I can’t wait to hold you, but isn’t it great that we can at least see each other so often through FaceTime?” Yes, it is mom.
Yesterday I was in the middle of making this recipe when mom called me on FaceTime. I pretended I had everything under control, but I still had to get my mise en place in order so that everything was ready to be added to the toffee when it reached the correct temperature.
However, I knew I didn’t have the situation completely under control: the sugar was already cooking and the butter still had to be cubed, the pecans still needed to be chopped, the baking soda and vanilla had to be measured out, the candy thermometer had to be placed on the side of the pot, a few recipe adjustments had to be marked down on my recipe book before they evaporated from my memory, etc. But when mom calls, everything can wait.
“What are you doing? You seem busy…” she stated (in Spanish, of course) as she heard the clanking of pans and sheet trays and saw how I turned my back on her a few times to check what was going on in the stove. I told her that I was in the middle of making toffee. “I can call back later or we can just talk tomorrow…”
“No! It’s okay. I can multitask…I swear!”
I told her a few things about my day. She told me a few things about hers. And through it all, I managed to show her how to finish the recipe. “Oh shit! Hold on mom! The sugar has reached 305 F and I have to add a few things to it before I pour it….”
“Really, we can talk at another time if you want to. You seem like you have a lot going on…Mmmmmmm…that looks delicious,” she stated as I poured the toffee over the chocolate and graham crackers.
And just like that, I got to feel extremely close to my mom. I always, always do, no matter how physically apart we are. But that moment was pretty special and magical. I never thought I would be able to share a such a spontaneous moment that involved doing something I love with all my heart (cooking/baking) with a person I love with all my heart while being thousands of miles away. I guess I’m just extremely thankful for it. That’s it.
Oh yeah, and I’m also very thankful for these delicious crunchy nutty choco toffee treats!
(Note: This recipe, along with all the other recipes in this web site, is in weight ounces, not fluid ounces. You will need a scale for it).
12 graham crackers (or 24 if they’re cut down the perforated line–as long as the dimensions of the rectangle you build is about 7.5″ x 9″).
3/4 C dark chocolate chips
4 oz (1/2 cup) sugar
1 oz (2 tablespoons) water
2 teaspoons honey
4 oz (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon baking soda, about a small pinch
1 1/2 cup pecans
*Yield: Anywhere from 12-24 pieces, depending on how you cut/break up the toffee. Cover toffee in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.*
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick silicon baking mat (ie: silpat).
2. Place graham crackers on parchment paper or on silpat in rows and of 4 x 3 to end up with the dimensions of 9″ x 7.5″
3. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over graham crackers and bake for about 10 minutes, until chocolate softens and becomes spreadable.
4. Remove cookie sheet from oven and gently spread the melted chocolate chips over graham crackers with an offset spatula, trying your best to not knock the graham crackers out of place. The melted chocolate should cover entire surface of graham crackers. Refrigerate so that chocolate cools down and firms up.
5. Meanwhile, toast pecans at 325 F until they become toasted all throughout. Allow pecans to cool. Roughly chop pecans and set them aside for later use.
6. Cook sugar and water over medium heat and add honey when sugar and water mixture looses its murky appearance and it becomes clear, after about a minute or so.
7. Add butter and continue cooking until it reaches a temperature of 300 F–305 F (hard crack stage).
8. Remove from heat and add vanilla, baking soda, and toasted pecans. Stir and pour mixture over the prepared chocolate and graham crackers. Spread toffee gently over chocolate/graham crackers so that it reaches every edge and corner of the rectangle. Allow toffee to completely cool before cutting/breaking it up in pieces. Sprinkle sea salt over toffee. Enjoy!Read More
Yes, the cool and crisp fall air is slowly (but steadily) taking over the troposphere. And thank God it is, because for those of us who don’t do well in the heat, whether it’s dry heat or humid heat (or the deadly combination of both I’ve faced this year), gladly welcome this refreshing change with much gratitude.
BUT I still refuse to do it.
I will not let summer go without making what has been a summer classic during those dry hot summer days in southern Spain. My argument? Summer officially grants the go-ahead to fall on September 23rd…so it’s still summer, even if that recognizable autumn breeze that swings the leaves back and forth is gently settling in.
So there’s still time to make these banana treats and make them be categorized and classified as a “summer sweet” as opposed to a “fall sweet”. I’m a bit OCD, so I do partake in the categorizing and classification of items from time to time. Such things matter. I wish they didn’t at times.
Anyways, my mom, aunt, and myself tend to have a tiny and nutritious snack after we do our exercise routine in the pool and these frozen bananas pop up in the menu often enough for merienda time as well during the summers. Yes, I’m blessed and fortunate enough that I get the opportunity to go back home at least once a year. Although on a low mood day, visiting Spain once or twice/year doesn’t seem nearly quite often enough.
This summer has been very hectic in comparison to others and therefore I haven’t kept up the routine of making these. BANANA FAIL. Here is my attempt though of mitigating that feel of defeat: A whole blog dedicated to two recipes in which the main ingredient is bananas: one that many people know of; another one that I invented and will introduce. And you can classify them however you like. Or if your mind doesn’t work that way…then I consider you to be lucky.
So let’s go back to the topic.
What to do with them when they’re on their ripe stage aside from the obvious? Yes, banana bread is a favorite of mine as well and I have no problem indulging in a generous piece of that nutty and sweet bread, but I wanted to offer you other “banana ideas”. You may already be very familiar with one of them. The first idea is what I will call a banana fritter and it’s a recipe I generated and came up with as I stared at the fruit basket that sits upon my kitchen counter and asked myself: Hmmmm…what to do with these beauties? The recipe and procedure began to unfold in my mind and the banana fritter was born.The second idea…well, is not really my idea at all. It’s a borrowed idea, as many ideas are when it comes to baking, cooking, and many things in this world. I already mentioned it and it’s a frozen chocolate banana. The first time I tasted a frozen chocolate banana was in Disney World and I pretty much fell in love with it.
(*Note: I will not present the recipe for the frozen chocolate banana in the scientific method that I have used for the previous recipes of sweet-lab, as it’s not an invention I created. The banana fritter recipe was, so I will use the “scientific method” to present that recipe).
Research Question: How bananas will you go when you try the banana fritter?
Hypothesis: You will go BANANAS bc…..
– the smooth and sweet banana filling will make a nice contrast with the crunchy texture of the chopped walnuts and the crispy fritter batter that is used to coat the banana mixture. Smoothness + Crunchy + Crispy = interesting textures for your palate.
– honey + cinnamon + banana = extreme goodness for your taste buds.
– the walnuts will become a bit toasted when frying the banana fritters, and they will exude more of the natural oils, making the nutty flavor more intense.
– 3 ripe bananas
– 8 oz chopped walnuts (1 cup)
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Materials/Ingredients for frying batter:
– 8 oz flour (1 cup)
– 8 oz liquid (I used soy milk bc I always have it around)
– 4 oz egg (1 large egg)
– 1 teaspoon of baking powder
– 1 teaspoon of sugar
– pinch of salt
– vegetable oil for frying (just enough to cover the banana balls)
Materials/Ingredients for toppings: honey and ground cinnamon “to the eye and taste”.
1. Mash bananas in a bowl with a fork until bananas are broken down.
5. Blend all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt). Mix the wet ingredients (milk and eggs) in a separate bowl and then pour over the dry ingredients. Whisk and mix thoroughly.
6. Meanwhile, start warming up your oil in a small pan. One easy way of detecting if you’re oil is ready is by dropping a tiny drop of batter into the oil. If the drop quickly rises to the surface then you are ready to start frying.
7. Take banana balls out of freezer and dip about 3-4 of them into the frying batter and cover them with the batter completely. Spoon out the banana balls out of batter and gently drop into the frying oil. I used a large spoon for that. Fry for about 2 minutes on each side, until they’re uniformly golden. Don’t try to fry too many balls at once because an overload in the frying pan can drop the temperature of the oil and mess up the frying process. If this happens, the bananas will become soggy and the wanted crispiness won’t occur successfully.
8. Place over a napkin to soak up the excess oil.
9. Serve them and drizzle a bit of honey over them along with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. Enjoy!
– The smooth and sweet banana filling successfully contrasts the crunchy texture of the walnuts and crispy batter.
– The banana filling isn’t overpoweringly sweet, since extra sugar wasn’t added to the banana filling. Adding extra sugar to ripe bananas isn’t necessary for this recipe. The ripe bananas along with the honey that was drizzled at the end was enough to contribute to the gentle and satisfying sweetness.
– One of my banana fritters didn’t fry properly and thus became soggy. That’s what I get for rushing at the end and wanting to fry a little too many of them at once.
– Important to note: Have you realized that the ratio for the frying batter is almost identical to the quick cake ratio that was used for the chocolate-coffee vanilla-ice cream sandwich and the blueberry-lemon cupcakes? Let me remind you that the ratio for a quick cake is 2:2:1:1 (flour:liquid:egg:fat). The ratio for a frying batter is almost the same, minus the fat. So frying batter ratio = 2 (flour): 2 (liquid): 1 (egg). Yay! Now you know another common ratio that you can use for multiple recipes. I used it for these banana fritters. What other fritters can you think of? Sweet fritters. Savory fritters. Can’t wait to explore more fritter recipes.
FROZEN CHOCOLATE BANANA:
2 ripe but firm bananas
6 ounces dark or semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts, peanuts, pecans, or granola (or a combination of all!)
2. Place them on a baking sheet that is covered with parchment paper or cut small pieces of plastic wrapping paper and wrap them around each banana piece. Freeze for at least 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile finely chop the nut mixture.
4. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a microwavable bowl or measuring cup. Melt the chocolate with the oil in the microwave (check it every 30 seconds) until smooth. You can also prepare a double-boiler and place bowl over a half-full pan of simmering water for about 2 minutes. Be sure that the bowl and the water aren’t in contact with each other. Stir until smooth.
You can serve or freeze in an airtight container for up to a week, although I’m sure they won’t be around for that long 😉