Sunday, April 17, 2011

chocolate pecan caramel pralines

So, I had some leftover heavy cream in my fridge that needed to be used before my trip to Connecticut tomorrow. I'm not a big candy maker, but I had all the ingredients for this salted caramel on hand, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

Not the best idea I've ever had.

I couldn't get the sugar to dissolve on medium-low heat, so after twenty minutes or so I just cranked up my stovetop to medium-high and prayed for the best. This resulted in some hybrid of caramel and praline, which wasn't what I set out to make...but hey, isn't that what trying new things is all about?

chocolate pecan caramel pralines
adapted from food52
makes about 32 candies
per candy:  88 cal, 4.4g fat, 13g carb, 0g fiber, 0.3g protein, 3+ weight watchers

1 1/2 c sugar
1/4 c honey
1/4 c water
1/3 c heavy cream
6 tbsp salted butter
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz chocolate chips or chunks of your choice
32 pecan halves, toasted

Line a small baking pan with parchment paper or foil (I used an 11 x 7" pan).

Combine sugar, honey, and water in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves or you get tired of stirring (like I did)!

Increase heat to medium high and let mixture simmer until it turns a light golden brown color, 10-15 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in cream and butter. The mixture will boil pretty profusely, but don't worry--it's supposed to! Stir in the vanilla.

Pour the caramel into the pan and sprinkle chocolate chips/chunks over it. Swirl with a knife.

Let mixture cool until it is semi-solid, and press pecans into it. Let cool completely.

Remove from pan and take off the foil or parchment paper, then cut into squares.

Monday, April 4, 2011

pb & m&m cookies

Easter m&ms!
Is there a better combination than chocolate and peanut butter? If there is I haven't discovered it yet.

So, I'm kicking off my blog as well as National Baking Week with an old stand-by, peanut butter cookies studded with m&ms. This recipe is adapted from America's Test Kitchen's light peanut butter cookies, but since I didn't have Cap'n Crunch on hand I improvised a bit. Originally I substituted whole wheat pastry flour for half the all-purpose flour, but it didn't really work with the m&ms.  I would use all AP; it only costs you a fraction of a gram of fiber per serving.

pb & m&m cookies
adapted from America's Test Kitchen
makes about 30 cookies
per cookie:  105 cal, 3.8g fat, 16.2g carb, 0.5g fiber, 2.2g protein, 3+ weight watchers

1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c peanut butter
1 1/4 c packed light brown sugar
2 large egg whites
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
1/2 c m&ms (I used plain, but I think peanut butter would be amazing!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Combine butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar, and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add egg whites and extract and beat until combined.

Add flour mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated.

Add m&ms and mix with a spoon until evenly distributed.

Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are golden brown and look slightly crumbly.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Time to bring it.

I love bread. I love butter. I love yogurt and granola, salad and pizza, bacon and eggs and toast (yes, I know toast is bread). 

Put simply, I love food.

But most of all, I love making food--for myself, for friends, coworkers, strangers. Food makes people happy, and cooking makes me happy. So, despite the barrage of culinary-themed blogs out there, I'm going to give this a shot and write about what I love. If nothing else, I hope it helps me remember what I've made, what's delicious, what's not-so-delicious, and what deserves a second try.

I'll probably focus mostly on baking, because it's what I do best and what I like eating the most. My waistline can only handle so much butter and sugar, though, so I'll attempt to make the most healthful versions of food that I can without sacrificing flavor or texture. Because let's be honest, the only thing better than eating is eating something you can feel good about!

I hope you enjoy what I bring to the table.