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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dark Chocolate Granola

If it isn't obvious yet (see these posts: 1 2 3), let me just tell you that I am a complete and utter granola fiend. At any and all times I have about 4 boxes of store-bought, and two types of homemade granola on hand. A little excessive, no? I can't help it. Any time I spot a new flavor, I simple *have* to try it!

This particular granola is positively scrumptious and comes from La Tartine Gourmande (so you know it's good!). Not only is it healthy, but it makes it completely acceptable for you to eat chocolate for breakfast, and really, how can there be anything wrong with that?

I love the contrasting textures at play here. You get the nutty almonds and pumpkin seeds, the light puffed rice and millet, and the ultra crunchy oats. While this granola is wonderful served in some cold milk or on top of yogurt, my favorite way to enjoy it is by the handful :).

Dark Chocolate Granola
recipe from here

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup millet puffs
  • 1/2 cup rice puffs
  • 1/2 cup hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (80g) dark chocolate chunks
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a small pot, combine the water, honey, sugar, butter, salt, and vanilla. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients except for the chocolate. Stir the warm liquid into the dry ingredients.
  4. Pour the mixture onto the lined baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes. Cool completely.
  5. Stir in the chocolate and store in an airtight container.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Vanilla Bean Marshmallows

So, apparently I have a thing for vanilla lately (please see: vanilla bean ice cream and vanilla bean macaroons)? I don't know what the deal-io is with that but all I can say is that I super love cooking/baking with whole vanilla beans :).

I think that homemade marshmallows are possibly one of the tastiest culinary novelties. No one expects you to actually make your very own, and I'm fairly certain that when most people think of marshmallows they just think of the jet-puffed cylinders in the clear plastic on the baking aisle. Let me just tell you right now, you have not truly enjoyed a s'more if you have been using marshmallows of the store-bought variety. S'mores with homemade marshmallows are on a whole different level (side note: I was about to write "whole nother level," which is something I often say but never thought about. What the heck is a "nother"? Is it short for another? In that case is it "whole another level"? How completely peculiar!!).

While these marshmallows are positively scrumptious in their un-s'more-ified state (and far better than any store-bought mallow), they are shockingly good when toasted and smashed between two graham crackers. The chocolate component in my s'mores is homemade chocolate ganache. I tried two different methods: 1) I just poured it on the melted mallow and smashed it all between two graham crackers, 2) I dipped half of the graham cracker in the ganache and let it dry. Why the latter version may appear neater, nothing beats a deliciously gooey marshmallow and chocolate mess :P!


Vanilla Bean Marshmallows
recipe slightly adapted from here

  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • nonstick spray
  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup ice cold water, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups (298g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  1. Combine the confectioners' sugar in corn starch in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Spray a 9'' X 13" pan with nonstick spray. Pour in the sugar/cornstarch mixture and tip the pan to coat all sides. Reserve the excess in a small bowl.
  3. Place the gelatin in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add in 1/2 cup of the water and let stand.
  4. In a small saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover, and cook for 3-4 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Do not stir the mixture! Simply swirl the saucepan to distribute. Uncover after the sugar has dissolved and place a candy thermometer into the saucepan. Continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees (F), 7-8 minutes. Immediately remove from heat.
  5. Turn the mixture on low and slowly and carefully pour the hot sugar syrup into the gelatin. Once it is all added, increase the speed to high and whip until the mixture is lukewarm and very thick, about 12-15 minutes. Add in the vanilla bean seeds and vanilla extract in the last couple of minutes of mixing.
  6. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula to spread. Dust the top with enough of the reserved sugar/cornstarch mixture to lightly cover the top. Reserve the remainder. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours.
  7. Turn the marshmallows onto a cutting board and cut into desired shapes with either a knife or cookie cutter. Dust all of the sides with the sugar/cornstarch mixture. Store in tupperware.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream


Sorry I've been MIA for a bit but I was struggling through finals! I am SO happy to be done and to be on Spring Break. This past quarter was by far the most stressful out of the entirety of my education. At times I didn't think I was going to make it, but I pulled through!

I have been craving ice cream and ice-cream related treats (i.e. milkshakes) practically nonstop for the past week. I completely attribute it to my body attempting to de-stress in the best way it knows how--filling it with delicious delights!

There is nothing out-of-the-ordinary about this recipe. After all, it's just vanilla ice cream. But, it is the creamiest, dreamiest vanilla ice cream that I have ever tried. And besides, in the scope of things, vanilla ice cream is quite possibly the most important and necessary dessert component. What goes better with a warm apple pie, a chocolatey brownie, homemade caramel, or a berry crumble quite like a scoop of vanilla? Nothing, that's what!

This ice cream is actually a custard because it calls for egg yolks which make it unimaginably smooth and luxurious. It is also quite rich in the most delicious way. This recipe comes from David Lebovitz who is the absolute master of ice cream!


Here's a tip for what to do with your empty vanilla bean pods: toss them in your granulated sugar. It will infuse your sugar with a vanilla flavor that will amp up the flavor in all of your baked goods! As you can see I have about a dozen beans sticking out of and buried within mine:

Dried Vanilla Beans in Sugar

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
recipe from here

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the milk, salt and sugar and bring to a simmer. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into the mixture and toss in the empty pod. Cover and remove from heat. Allow the mixture to infuse for an hour.
  2. Set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart bowl inside of a larger bowl that is filled with ice water. Set a mesh strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour in the cream.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Rewarm the milk mixture and remove the vanilla bean. Temper the yolks by whisking small amounts of the warm milk mixture into the yolks. Add the warmed yolks into the saucepan.
  4. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, being sure to scrape the bottom and sides until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. When you run your finger down the back of the spoon, the trail left by your finger should stay put.
  5. Strain the custard into the small bowl in your ice bath. Stir in the vanilla extract and stir over the ice until cool and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  6. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to your manufacturer's instructions.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Vanilla Bean Macaroons (Vegan)


Coconut is one of my very favorite foods, and I am entirely boggled as to how some people so detest it. Not only is it delicious, but it is rich in fiber and healthy fats!

I am a huge fan of macaroons, and when I saw these over at Oh She Glows, I was immediately drawn to them. While I knew I would like them since I absolutely LOVE all things coconut, I did not expect them to completely blow me away as they have done.

These macaroons are AMAZING! They are dense and chewy and absolutely addictive. The outside is perfectly crisp, and even after cooling, the inside is gooey and rich. The whole vanilla bean really pumps up the flavor and raises them above any macaroons you have tasted before. As Mikey bit into one, I heard an "Oh WOW!" Seconds later he was grabbing another :). 
Also, these babies are completely vegan and relatively healthy when eaten in moderation- something that is almost entirely impossible ;).


Vanilla Bean Macaroons
recipe slightly adapted from here
makes 20-24 macaroons

  • 2 2/3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut (to make the coconut butter OR 1 cup store-bought coconut butter)
  • 2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut (I used reduced fat here and regular in the coconut butter)
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line baking sheets with a silicone mat or parchment paper; set aside.
  2. To make the coconut butter: Add the 2 2/3 cups shredded coconut to the bowl of a food processor and process for 8-12 minutes until creamy, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
  3. Combine all of the ingredients (including coconut butter) in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat to combine.
  4. Scoop 1-2 tablespoon-sized mounds onto the baking sheet (they won't spread so you can place them fairly close to one another).
  5. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden. Let cool on baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a plate or rack to cool further.
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