Thursday, April 4, 2024

Blackout Chocolate Eclipse Cookies


This is a sponsored post by Danish Creamery, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible! 

Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably already know about the total solar eclipse on April 8. Indianapolis is lucky enough to be in the path of totality, and it's considered one of the best places to view the eclipse. City leaders expect upwards of 100,000 people in the downtown area, and there are dozens of viewing parties planned across central Indiana. You all know I love a theme, so I thought it was only appropriate to make eclipse-themed cookies.

Regular chocolate cookies simply would not do. I needed black cookies to mimic the total blackout. Thankfully, I achieved that with black cocoa powder. 

Let's talk about cocoa powders. There are 3 main types of cocoa powder: Natural cocoa powder, Dutch-process cocoa powder, and black cocoa powder. We make all cocoa powder from bits of hulled and roasted cacao beans called nibs, and they're all unsweetened in powder form. 

Natural cocoa powder retains the natural acidity of the cacao beans. It has a light color and tastes mild. It's the classic chocolate flavor you think of and the type of cocoa powder used in your grandma's favorite recipes.

Dutch-process cocoa is natural cocoa treated with an alkalizing solution, usually potassium carbonate. The solution neutralizes the acidity, resulting in deeper, smoother chocolate flavor.

Black cocoa powder is even more intensely treated with an alkaline solution, resulting in the deepest black color. Black cocoa powder is the reason Oreos have an intense chocolate flavor but they're black, not brown.

Technically, yes, they are interchangeable, but because natural cocoa powder is acidic and the other two aren't, it will affect the chemical leaver if one is present in the recipe. ALSO, it's important to think about what flavor-profile you're trying to achieve before you choose your cocoa powder.

When I use black cocoa powder in a recipe, I typically use a 1:1 ratio of black cocoa powder and Dutch-process cocoa powder.


Okay, now let's move on to talking about the rest of the recipe. These chocolate cookies are shortbread cookies. Traditional shortbread cookies have very few ingredients: sugar, butter, flour. Because of that, you want to use the best ingredients available. That is why I always use European butter in my shortbread cookies. 

European butter is significantly richer in flavor because of its higher butterfat percentage. I use Danish Creamery Unsalted European Style Butter. American butter is 80% butterfat. Most European butter sold in the United States contains 82% butterfat. But the butterfat content of Danish Creamery European Style Butter is 85%. It may not seem like a big deal, but those few percentage points make a big difference when you taste it.

As far as which sugar to use in shortbread cookies, I prefer powdered sugar. Powdered sugar contains cornstarch, which helps contribute to thicker/softer cookies. Cookies made with granulated sugar are more crisp.

One more thing I want to point out—the directions as written are for "slice and bake" cookies, which means I formed the dough into a log, rolled it up, and then sliced it after refrigeration. But if you prefer cleaner, smoother edges, you can roll out the dough and use a 2-inch circle cookie cutter instead.

If you want to decorate the cookies so it looks like the sun is peeking out from behind the moon, dip one edge of the cookie in melted white chocolate and decorate with yellow sprinkles. Additionally, you can sandwich two of the cookies with frosting, like an Oreo. I made a mocha buttercream for my cookies, and I included that recipe below.

Blackout Chocolate Eclipse Cookies

Yield: Makes about 32, 2-inch diameter cookies

Time: About 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup (210 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons (18 grams) black cocoa powder
  • 3 Tablespoons (18 grams) dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (227 grams) Danish Creamery European Unsalted Butter
  • 1 cup (113 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: white chocolate, yellow sugar sprinkles, buttercream filling

Directions

  1. Stir together flour, both cocoa powders, and salt in bowl. Set aside.
  2. Cream butter and powdered sugar on low speed until combined. Scrape bowl with spatula. Mix on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla extract.
  3. Scrape down bowl and add flour mixture. Blend on low speed until dough comes together.
  4. Lay out piece of plastic wrap and dump dough into center. Use hands to compress and roll dough into 2-inch diameter log.
  5. Wrap and chill at least 30 minutes.
  6. Remove dough from refrigerator. 
  7. Adjust oven rack to center position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheet with silicone mat or parchment paper.
  8. Cut dough into 1/3-inch thick slices and place on baking sheet.
  9. Bake for 12 minutes, rotating pan at 6-minute mark.
  10. Allow to cool on pan for about 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack.
  11. Once cooled, if desired, dip edge of cookie in to melted white chocolate and cover with yellow sprinkles to resemble sun peeking out from behind moon during eclipse.
  12. Another option: Turn over half the cookies and spread layer of frosting on bottoms. Top with remaining cookies to make sandwiches.


Mocha Buttercream

Yield: Makes about 2 cups

Time: About 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (227 grams) Challenge Unsalted Butter
  • 1 teaspoon Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 2 cups (226 grams) powdered sugar 
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

  1. Cream butter, cocoa powder, and espresso powder in mixing bowl on low speed until smooth.
  2. Add powdered sugar and mix on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract, and salt, and beat until combined.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Lemon Ricotta-Stuffed French Toast Casserole with Strawberry Basil Compote

I love a big Easter dinner with lamb and asparagus and potatoes and rolls. But my husband has to go to work at 11 a.m. on Easter, so instead, I will be hosting an Easter brunch. And I have French toast on my mind. But not just any French toast—I’m thinking about Lemon Ricotta-Stuffed French Toast Casserole with Strawberry Basil Compote.

There are two routes you can take with brunch—you can eat a healthy well-balanced meal or you can eat a carb and sugar heavy meal that makes you want to crash and take a nap. This recipe is somewhere in between the two, which is just the way I like it. I was very careful with limiting the amount of added sugar in this recipe. French toast gets a reputation for being overly sweet, but it doesn’t have to be. The savoriness of the ricotta cuts down on the sweetness as does the basil flavor in the compote. Also, I used a sourdough French baguette because the earthy tanginess of the sourdough complements the rich filling so well.


You don't want to use fresh bread for this recipe. It will end up mushy. Either dry the bread out in the oven beforehand or use bread that's a few days old. I recommend prepping everything  at least one day and up to two days in advance so the bread has plenty of time to soak up the liquid. Plus, it will make your life a lot easier if all you have to do in the morning is put this in the oven.

For the compote, you can use fresh or frozen strawberries. You'll just have to cook it longer if going the frozen route. I infused the strawberry compote with basil because the savoriness of the herb works well with the ricotta, and basil is a great pairing with lemon and strawberries. Of course, you could make a compote with another type of berry or skip it completely, but I think it really completes the dish!

Lemon Ricotta-Stuffed French Toast Casserole with Strawberry Basil Compote

Yield: Makes about 6 servings

Time: About 1 hour

Ingredients

For the compote

  • 20 basil leaves
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen strawberries, stems removed
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

For the filling

  • 16 ounces whole milk ricotta
  • 1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the egg mixture

  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 demi French baguettes (or 1 1/2 regular baguettes)

Directions

For the compote

  1. Tie basil leaves in piece of cheesecloth.
  2. Combine all ingredients in saucepan over medium-low heat. 
  3. Bring to simmer and continue simmering for about 10 minutes, occasionally mashing fruit.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Remove bag of basil.
  5. Store in refrigerator up to 1 week.

For the filling

  1. Mix together all ingredients. Set aside.

For the egg mixture

  1. Mix together eggs, milk, vanilla, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Prepare 8-inch x 10-inch (or similar size) baking dish with nonstick spray.
  3. Cut each baguette into 1-inch slices, cutting to, but not through, bottom.
  4. Spoon filling between baguette slices and place baguettes side-by-side in baking dish.
  5. Pour egg mixture over baguettes.
  6. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days in advance. I like to periodically drain the egg mixture into a bowl and pour it back over the top. 
  7. Remove baking dish from refrigerator and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Drain off any egg mixture that hasn't been soaked up by the bread.
  8. Bake uncovered for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until French toast is golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. If needed, cover with foil and bake another 5 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and serve with strawberry basil compote and more ricotta and lemon zest if desired.




Thursday, March 21, 2024

Lemon Lavender Easter Egg Truffles

 

Lemon Lavender Easter Egg Truffles consist of a lemon lavender cake and buttercream mixture that is coated in white chocolate. They're very similar to cake pops but 100 times easier. Cake pops are actually a tricky to make. They're a pain to roll and dip, and they can easily crack and fall apart if you aren't careful. 

I use a silicone egg mold (this is the exact one I have) to form the cake mixture into an egg shape, and I also use the mold to evenly coat the truffles in white chocolate. The back of the truffles aren't coated in chocolate, but I don't think that takes away from their appearance or taste. 

I choose a lemon lavender flavor combination for the truffles—one of my favorites, and it's perfect for spring. There are a few ways to incorporate lavender flavoring in baked goods. My favorite way to infuse cakes and buttercream with lavender flavor is to steep dried lavender buds in the milk and cream that are necessary for the recipe. I think this tastes the most natural, and you don't run the risk of overdoing the lavender flavor, which can happen with lavender extract. There are two types of dried lavender buds you can buy: English and French. English lavender is for eating; French is for fragrance. So make sure you use English lavender. Steep the lavender buds in the dairy for at least 30 minutes. I personally like a stronger lavender flavor, so I steep mine for several hours and sometimes overnight.

If I was baking a layered cake, I would not use a cake mix. I usually don't like the texture, and I don't think it requires that much more effort to bake from scratch. But in this case, we're crumbling the cake into crumbs, so the texture doesn't matter. That's why I used a cake mix. I used a combination of lemon zest and lemon extract for the lemon flavor. Use less extract if you prefer less lemon flavor. As this recipe stands, I don't think the lemon flavor is super strong.

Here are some potential questions that may arise as you make this recipe:

Q: What is the best cake to frosting ratio?

A: I prefer a 2:1 cake to frosting ratio by weight

Q: What chocolate is best?

A: You could certainly spend a lot of money and use a high-quality chocolate like Ghirardelli, but I prefer to use melting wafers. They are specifically designed for melting and coating.

Q: How do I color chocolate?

A: You CANNOT use liquid to color chocolate. You must use either oil or gel-based color or powder. Liquid will cause the chocolate to seize.

Q:  Can I flavor chocolate?

A: Yes, but you CANNOT use liquid extracts to flavor chocolate. You must use either oil-based flavorings or powder. Liquid will cause the chocolate to seize.

Lemon Lavender Easter Egg Truffles

Yield: Makes about 16 servings depending on size of mold

Time: About 2 hours

Ingredients

For the lavender cream

  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Tablespoon dried culinary lavender

For the lavender milk

  • 1 cup milk + 3 Tablespoons
  • 3 Tablespoons dried culinary lavender

For the lemon lavender buttercream frosting

  • 1/2 cup Challenge unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons lavender cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the truffles

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Challenge unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup lavender milk
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • About 12 - 18 ounces white chocolate candy melts 

Directions

For the lavender cream

  1. Add cream to small saucepan over low heat. Once cream starts to simmer, remove from heat and stir in lavender.
  2. Cover and steep for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
  3. Strain through fine-mesh sieve set over bowl. Discard lavender. 
  4. Set aside.
For the lavender milk

  1. Add milk to small saucepan over low heat. Once milk starts to simmer, remove from heat and stir in lavender.
  2. Cover and steep for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
  3. Strain through fine-mesh sieve set over bowl. Discard lavender. 
  4. Set aside.

For the lemon lavender buttercream

  1. Cream softened butter on medium speed for about 3 minutes. 
  2. Slowly add powdered sugar in several additions. Scrape bowl after each addition.
  3. Add lavender cream, lemon extract, and salt and mix thoroughly. If frosting is too thin, add more powdered sugar. If it's too thick, add more cream (1 teaspoon). If frosting is too sweet, add more salt (1/4 teaspoon). Set aside.

For the truffles

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line bottoms of two 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray. Set aside,
  3. Mix cake mix with eggs, butter, lavender milk. lemon zest, and lemon extract.
  4. Divide batter between cake pans. 
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and top bounces back when pressed lightly. Allow to cool for about 25 minutes on wire rack before removing from cake pan.
  6. Once cake cools, crumble cake in bowl. Add frosting and mix thoroughly.
  7. Measure about 1 Tablespoon of cake mixture and press into each egg-shaped cavities in mold.
  8. Place mold in freezer for about 10 minutes.
  9. Remove mold from freezer and remove solid cake mixture from cavities.
  10. Thoroughly clean mold.
  11. Heat candy melts in separate bowl. Start with 1 minute and stir. Continue to heat in 15-second intervals until it's smooth. Color candy melts with oil-based coloring or powder if desired.
  12. Add about 1 Tablespoon of candy melts to each egg cavity in mold.
  13. Press solid cake mixture back into egg cavities (on top of candy melts). Candy melts should come up sides of cake mixture.
  14. Place molds in refrigerator for about 15 minutes or until candy melts solidify.
  15. Remove truffles from mold. Decorate if desired and serve.
  16. Place leftovers in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Lemon Cookie Butter Pie

 

This is a sponsored post by Challenge Butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible! 

I hope by now you all are familiar with cookie butter. It’s a bunch of cookies blended until it’s spreadable, so, obviously, it’s delicious. It has a deep caramel flavor with a hint of gingerbread.

I was inspired by the classic peanut butter pie to make a cookie butter pie, swapping the peanut butter for cookie butter, of course. I wanted to pair the filling with a lemon crust because I thought the citrus would brighten and complement the caramel notes of the cookie butter and make it better suited for spring. 

The pie is made with a crumb crust. A crumb crust is a crust made out of anything that makes crumbs: pretzels, crackers, cookies, etc. This particular crumb crust is made out of lemon sandwich cookies. Generally, a crumb crust is made with just two ingredients: crumbs and butter, which hold the crust together. The amount of butter necessary to hold the crust together will depend on what type of crumbs you use and how dry the crumbs are. The mixture should resemble wet sand. 


I use Challenge Salted Butter in my crumb crust recipe. Using high-quality butter, like Challenge, has a big impact on the crust flavor.

If you want a totally no-bake pie, you do not need to bake the crust. But if you like a crispy crust, you’ll want to bake it. I included instructions for baking the crust.

Let's talk about the filling—stop mixing it when you reach medium peaks. Here is the difference between soft, medium, and stiff peaks: soft peaks flop over immediately when you left up the beaters; medium peaks hold their shape, but the tips curl over; stiff peaks stand straight up.

I like to top the pie with whipped cream. The problem with serving a pie with whipped cream is that whipped cream quickly weeps and deflates. Fortunately, there are two ingredients you can add to whipped cream to help stabilize it: gelatin or instant vanilla pudding mix. I included the instant vanilla pudding mix in the whipped cream recipe below in case you want to try it!

Lemon Cookie Butter Pie

Time: About 30 minutes to prep, 30 minutes to chill

Yield: Around 8 pieces

Ingredients

For the crust

For the filling

  • 1 1/2 cups (360 grams) cookie butter
  • 6 ounces (170 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (180 milliliters) heavy whipping cream

For the topping

  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tablespoons (15 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1 Tablespoon (15 grams) instant vanilla pudding mix, for stabilization

Directions

For the crust

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place cookies in food processor and pule to fine crumbs.
  3. Add melted butter and pulse until mixture is combined and crumbs stick together when pressed.
  4. Press crumbs into bottom and up sides of 9-inch pie plate.
  5. Bake crust for about 10 minutes or until it appears set and edges slightly darken.
  6. Set aside to cool completely.

For the filling

  1. Combine cookie butter and cream cheese in stand mixer bowl fitted with whisk attachment. Mix on medium speed until combined and smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl.
  2. Add confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract, and salt and mix on medium speed another two minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl.
  3. Return mixer to medium speed. Gradually add heavy cream to bowl in steady stream. Continue to mix until filling holds soft peaks.
  4. Spread filling into pie crust and place in refrigerator. Allow to set for at least 30 minutes.

For the topping

  1. Combine heavy whipping cream, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract, and optional instant vanilla pudding mix in stand mixer bowl fitted with whisk attachment. Whip cream to stiff peaks.
  2. Spread or pipe whipped cream on top of chilled pie and serve.
  3. Store leftover pie in refrigerator for up to 5 days or in freezer for several weeks.



Thursday, March 7, 2024

Herby Spring Vegetable Tart

I've never met a puff pastry appetizer I didn't like, and this dish is no exception! I wanted to celebrate the return of spring produce with this beautiful tart. I placed the vegetables on a thick layer of a tangy goat cheese and ricotta mixture. It's packed with herbs and lemon zest, which make it taste really fresh. The most important part of this recipe is blanching the vegetables to ensure the colors are as vibrant as possible! I explain more about blanching in my Q&A section below!


What puff pastry should I use?

I only use all-butter puff pastry. So I always stock up when the Trader Joe’s puff pastry is in season. The next best option is a brand called Dufour Pastry, Unfortunately, it’s a bit pricy—around $10 for 14 ounces. Another option is to make it yourself.

What is in the filling?

I use a combination of ricotta cheese and goat cheese. I really like the tanginess of the goat cheese. And then I added chives and mint. I like adding mint because I think it makes things taste really fresh, which is what we want for a springtime snack. Also, lemon zest really brightens things up.

What vegetables should I use in the tart?

I am using asparagus, peas, and radishes. These vegetables all come into season in March! You could also add arugula, which is an early spring green.

Why is it important to eat seasonally?

Seasonal produce not only tastes better, but it’s better for the environment. When we eat seasonally, we’re able to eat produce at its peak. Also, it takes less resources to transport the food, and we support out local economy.

How and why do I need to blanch the vegetables?

Blanch raw vegetables by adding them to boiling water for just about 30 seconds and then plunging them in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. The goal is NOT to cook the vegetables. Blanching tempers the bitterness that sometimes comes with raw veggies and significantly boosts color.

Herby Spring Vegetable Tart

Yield: 6 servings

Time: About 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet puff pastry dough, thawed, about 8 ounces
  • Egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 Tablespoon water)
  • 8 ounces whole ricotta cheese
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons chives, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons mint, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces (about 1/2 bunch) thin asparagus, ends snapped, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) peas
  • 1 ounce (about 2) radishes, thinly sliced on mandoline
  • Optional: 1 1/2 ounces (about 4 pieces) prosciutto, torn into large pieces

Directions

  1. Place oven rack in center position. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Unroll puff pastry onto baking sheet. Score (not cut) 1/2-inch border around edges. Prick inner rectangle (not edges) with fork. Brush border with egg wash.
  3. Place into oven for about 12-15 minutes or until surface is golden brown and edges are puffed up. Set aside to cool.
  4. Bring pot of water to boil. Prepare bowl of ice water. Place next to pot.
  5. Add asparagus and peas to boiling water and boil 30 seconds. Drain vegetables and place in ice bath. Let soak until cool. Remove vegetables, dry, and set aside.
  6. Combine ricotta, goat cheese, chives, mint, lemon zest, garlic, salt, and pepper in food processor. Process until smooth.
  7. Spread cheese mixture over puff pastry. Top with asparagus, peas, radishes, and prosciutto and serve.



Friday, February 23, 2024

Healthier sugar-free banana bread


Everyone loves banana bread, but the most annoying part is waiting for your bananas to ripen. Fortunately, there are a few tricks. The first is the brown paper bag trick. The ethylene from the fruit will circulate and speed up the natural ripening process for the bananas. Naturally ripened bananas are the best bananas to use, and there’s no such thing as too black or brown when it comes to using bananas for bread. Unfortunately, this option still takes several days. 

The next best option is to use previously ripened bananas that you’ve frozen. You can freeze ripe bananas for up to 6 months. When you’re ready to use them, let them thaw on the counter for several hours. They’ll emit a brown liquid, but I recommend discarding the liquid because it may mess up the liquid levels in your recipe. The problem with this is it requires you to have previously ripened bananas. 

So let’s say you went to the store today and bought bananas and you want to use those for banana bread. I have one last trick—you can bake the bananas. Baking the bananas at a low temperature with help to break down the starches and concentrate the sugars. They won’t be as sweet as naturally ripened bananas, but they’ll work in a pinch. 

Random fact: Did you know there are over 1,000 varieties of bananas? But the only banana we see at stores is Cavendish because they’re easy to transport. But that wasn't always the case! The Gros Michel banana was the banana of choice until the 1950s when a fungal disease called Panama disease wiped them out. Guess what—that same disease is now attacking the Cavendish bananas, and there’s no way to stop it. So when it spreads, that will be the end of the banana as we know it. Scientists are working on a variety of solutions.


Healthier sugar-free banana bread

Yield: 1 loaf

Time: About 90 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (170 grams) whole-wheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups (400 grams) mashed overripe bananas
  • 1 cup (226 grams) plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) coconut oil, melted
  • 2 large (100 grams) eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 grams) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • Optional: 3/4 cup (85 grams) chopped, toasted walnuts or pecans
  • Optional: 2 Tablespoons (30 milliliters) maple syrup

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease metal 9 inch x 5 inch loaf pan and set aside.
  2. Mix flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Mix mashed bananas, yogurt, coconut oil, eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract in large bowl.
  4. Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients just until no flour pockets remain. Don't overmix. Fold in nuts if using.
  5. Pour batter into baking pan. It will be thick! Bake 55 - 60 minutes. Bread is done when top springs back and internal temperature registers around 200 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for about 1 hour before removal.
  7. Store bread at room temperature for up to 2 days, in refrigerator for up to 1 week, or in freezer for up to 3 months.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Tamarind caramel cookies


This is a sponsored post by Challenge Butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible! 

Today I'm talking about the 2024 flavor of the year: tamarind! This is according to McCormick & Company, the top-selling maker of seasonings and spices. McCormick deploys a team of chefs and food technologists around the world to seek out the top trending flavor. 

Now tamarind certainly isn’t a new flavor—it’s been around for thousands of years in Southeast Asia, Indian, and Mexico. But it was named the flavor of the year because it’s popping up more and more on menus across the world. It’s used in savory and sweet recipes, and it’s even used in drink recipes.


Tamarind is a type of tree that grows well in coastal areas. It commonly grows throughout Africa, Mexico, Asia and India, but it could also grow in South Florida. The tree produces pods with edible fruit. Once you remove the outer shell, the fruit is sweet, tart, and chewy with a texture similar to dates.

You can buy tamarind in four different form: pods, pulp, paste, and concentrate. I don't recommend buying pods. I couldn't even find them. The pods have a tough brown shell that you peel away to reveal the fruit, which is brown, looks similar to dates, and contains seeds. Tamarind pulp is the flesh from inside the pod without the seeds. In order to use the pulp, you must first soak it in hot water, squeeze it, and then discard the fibers. Tamarind paste is a pre-mixed solution of the pulp with a liquid. It's ready for cooking. It looks like a thick paste. Tamarind concentrate is a runny, dark liquid, and it is about 2 to 3 times stronger in taste than the paste.                                                                                                                   


I love tamarind in pad thai and in sweet chutneys for dipping samosas in, but I wanted to show off its versatility by using it in a dessert. I thought it's sweet-sour profile would offset the richness of caramel and pair really well with brown sugar cookies. I like to make my caramel using the dry method. What that means is I cook the sugar without water in a saucepan. The sugar slowly melts and turns into caramel. Then I finish it with heavy cream, butter, sea salt, and in this case, tamarind paste. I use Challenge Unsalted Butter in my caramel and cookie recipe. Using high-quality butter, like Challenge, has a big impact on the richness and flavor of the caramel and cookies.

I finished off the cookies with crushed, roasted peanuts and sea salt. I really like the texture it adds!


Tamarind Caramel Cookies

Yield: Makes about 20 cookies

Time: About 90 minutes

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 3/4 cup (170 grams) Challenge Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (160 grams) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (240 grams) all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Optional garnishes: Additional sea salt, 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

For the tamarind caramel

  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons Challenge Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 grams) tamarind paste (or 1 Tablespoon tamarind concentrate)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

For the cookies

  1. Cream butter and both sugars on medium speed until mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add egg and vanilla and mix on low until combined.
  3. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to mixer and mix on low speed until flour is just combined.
  4. Cover dough and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.

For the tamarind caramel

  1. While dough is chilling, make caramel. Add sugar to light-colored, large saucepan. Spread sugar in even layer, place over low-medium heat and allow sugar to melt.
  2. Meanwhile, place heavy cream, butter, tamarind, and salt in small pot on stove over low heat. The mixture should never boil.
  3. Bottom layer of sugar will start to melt first (may take upwards of 10 minutes to see anything happening). Use heatproof spatula to move sugar around until all the sugar has melted and caramelized. 
  4. Cook caramel until it turns a medium amber color.
  5. Remove skillet from heat and slowly pour in heavy cream mixture while whisking. Continue to whisk while caramel bubbles.
  6. Pour caramel into bowl to cook and set aside.

Back to cookies

  1. When ready to bake cookies, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  2. Scoop dough into 1 1/2 Tablespoon-sized portions. Roll into balls and place on baking sheets. 
  3. Grab small piece of parchment paper, place it on bottom of flat-bottomed drinking glass, and press cookies flat.
  4. Place cookie sheets in oven and bake for 9-10 minutes, or until edges are gold brown, rotating halfway through baking time. Let cookies cool.
  5. Spoon teaspoon of caramel onto center of each cookie and smooth top. If caramel is too hard, heat in microwave for 15-second intervals until caramel is pourable.
  6. Sprinkle sea salt and peanuts on top of caramel.
  7. Allow caramel to set for about 15 minutes before serving.


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