Brownies! (w/ apples, bananas, zucchini)

“Healthy” Brownies… can it be done?  Ehh, not really, because this still has a cup and a half of sugar in it, but it’s all relative, right?  I mean, if I eat a medium-healthy thing instead of some ultra-unhealthy crazy confectionery from a store, then I’m still doing better health-wise; that has to count for something, right?

Anyway, this is a recipe for a “very moist, low-fat chocolate brownie alternative” … so I’m a bit suspicious, to be honest, but the ingredients sound like it’s worth a shot.  I already like zucchini as a vegetable, so I doubt I’m going to notice the flavor, and having applesauce and bananas contribute some of the sweetness is good, while still having enough sugar that I won’t mentally dismiss it as ‘health food pretending to be tasty food’ – so we’ll see what happens. 🙂

  • 1/2 c. applesauce
  • 2 small-medium bananas, mashed
  • 1.5 c. sugar (1 + 1/2 c.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda (1 + 1/2 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 c. finely shredded zucchini
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. nut pieces (walnut is recommended, but I’ll probably substitute pecans)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Grease and flour a 9×13″ baking pan.

In large bowl, combine applesauce, mashed bananas, and sugar.

Add vanilla and cocoa; mix well.

Add baking soda and salt; mix well.

Add zucchini; mix well.

Add flour and walnuts; mix well.

Spread evenly into prepared pan.

Bake 25 minutes, or until brownies spring back when gently touched.

Source:  http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=474935  Normally, I recommend going to the source website for pictures and stuff, but not this website; it’s full of pop-ups and it re-loads unexpectedly (and the re-loading of the page re-triggers the pop-ups) and there’s only one picture, so really, I can’t think of any reason to encourage you to check out that site. :/

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Pumpkin Chai Donut Holes

This recipe could be made into actual donuts, but I don’t have the requisite pan for that, so I’m going to take the easy path and use my mini-muffin pan, and just CALL them donut holes!  Hah, I don’t know why I feel sinister/tricky about this ‘deception’ that I’m freely admitting to. 😛

Chai Spice Blend (this makes more than needed for the donut recipe, so try using it with other things too!  If you like it, multiply the recipe and keep it in a mason jar – they are the BEST!  I’ve completely stopped buying plastic containers, and store everything in mason jars now.  Seriously, everything, not just when doing actual canning; I use them to store craft supplies, dry food, everything that comes in a plastic bag that isn’t resealable, my homemade broth I make on the back burner on my cooking days, EVERYTHING.     …sorry about the tangent)

  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp cardamom
  • 2 tsp cloves (or allspice)
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper

Donut Batter (or ‘donut hole’ batter, but that sounds weird AND takes longer to type, so forget it)

  • 3 c. flour
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder (2 + 1/2 tsp)
  • 0.25 tsp baking soda (1/4 tsp)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 0.5 tsp nutmeg (1/2 tsp)
  • 0.25 tsp allspice (1/4 tsp)
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 1.25 c. pumpkin purée (1 + 1/4 c.)
  • 10 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 c. light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs (or 3 medium)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Grease your donut / mini muffin pans.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and allspice.

In a medium bowl, combine milk and pumpkin purée.

In electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs individually, scraping down the sides between each.

In increments, alternately add the dry mixture and the pumpkin mixture to the electric mixer until everything is homogeneous.  Batter will be thick.

Fill your pans appropriately.  (According to the lady who made both kinds, a mini ice cream scoop is good for the mini-muffin tins; for donuts, put the batter into a baggie and cut off the tip, like a makeshift icing-piping bag, and pipe the batter into the donut pan.)

Bake 13-16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

The icing/sugar/glaze/frosting/whatever:

  • 6 tsp Chai Spice
  • 0.75 c. sugar (3/4 c.)
  • melted butter (about 1 stick)

Remove donuts from oven and allow to cool 10-15 minutes.

During this time, melt about 1/2 c. butter.  Be sure to use a bowl big enough for dipping!

In a different bowl, also big enough for dipping, whisk together 3/4 c. sugar and 6 tsp Chai Spice.

Remove slightly-cooled donuts from pan, dip in melted butter, and toss in sugar-spice mixture until coated.

If possible, let them cool for another 10 minutes before eating. 😀

Source: http://dailydishrecipes.com/pumpkin-chai-donuts/,
who sourced/adapted from
http://sweet-as-sugar-cookies.blogspot.com/2011/04/pumpkin-chai-donut-muffins.html,
who sourced/adapted from
http://sundaysweets.blogspot.com/2011/03/pumpkin-doughnut-muffins.html … oh, internet *sigh*

Cardamom-Almond Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I’m always a fan of moist, heavy pound cakes, and this combination of flavors sounds divine!  The original recipe calls for whole spices, which are always superior (well, superior for flavor, but not superior for your finances), but if you don’t have whole vanilla & cardamom pods, just substitute a splash of vanilla extract and some ground cardamom.  When I try this, I’ll measure how much cardamom I get from 3 pods, and update the recipe.

  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 c. (5 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 vanilla bean pod
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • thinly sliced almonds, to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350 F and generously coat a loaf pan with nonstick spray.  Line the bottom of the loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving a bit of overhang.  Coat the parchment paper with nonstick spray as well.

In medium bowl, sift together the flours, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.

In electric mixer, combine butter and cream cheese until blended.  Slowly beat in the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Crack open the cardamom pods and remove the black seeds.  Using a mortar and pestle, grind the cardamom.  Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean pod.  Add the vanilla seeds and ground cardamom to the butter & cream cheese mixture.  Mix until incorporated.

On medium-low speed, individually beat in each egg.  Scrape down sides of bowl, then incorporate the almond extract.

Turn mixer speed to low, then slowly add the dry mix, beating until just incorporated.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth the top.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Bake about 60-70 minutes, until top is golden brown, springs back when pressed, and toothpick in the center comes out clean.  If the almonds start to brown too early, you can tent the cake with foil until it’s fully cooked through.  If desired, serve with whipped cream, ice cream, and/or poached fruit.

Source: http://www.turntablekitchen.com/2013/10/cream-cheese-pound-cake-with-cardamom-vanilla-and-almonds/

Strawberry Shortcakes

These are THE SHIT, bro.  I cringe when I see those little “shortcake” things that are like the shallowest bowl ever to put your strawberries in… ugh.  Mine won’t act like a bowl, but it is about 9000% more delicious, without being too sweet.  This is the recipe I always make for friends who don’t like desserts that are “too sweet” or “too rich” – this is just right for everyone.

Approximately. 😛

  • 1.5 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 c. cold butter
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 c. dairy sour cream
  • 2 Tbs milk
  • 5 c. sliced strawberries
  • 3 Tbs sugar
  • (optional) whipped cream

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Lightly grease baking sheet; set aside.

Decide now if you want to use a pastry cutter (aka pastry blender, aka that thingy like a whisk had an affair with some brass knuckles) or an electric mixer, and subsequently whether you want to use a large mixing bowl or electric mixer bowl for the next step.

In the bowl you just decided to use, combine flour, 1/4 c. sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Incorporate butter in manner previously determined, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In small bowl, combine lightly beaten egg, sour cream, and milk.  Add to flour mixture; stir with fork until just moistened.

Drop dough into 8 large mounds on prepared baking sheet (you could make them smaller, I guess, but this way everyone gets one giant … scone blob thingy for themselves).  Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until edges become golden.  Transfer to wire rack and let cool.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine 4 c. strawberries and 3 Tbs sugar.  Using a potato masher, mash berries SLIGHTLY and set aside.

When ready to serve, halve shortcakes like you’re going to use it as a hamburger bun, and then put the strawberries inside like a raw, oozing hamburger of delicious sweetness.  Add whipped cream if you want to stretch this analogy to include “cheese” as “a sweeter and fluffier dairy product”.  Top with extra sliced strawberries if any remain.  Or don’t.  You’re the boss.

Rich Chocolate Cake

Another cake recipe that I want to try… there’s a lot of places here where I think I could shortcut, but I’m going to try it their way and then try it “my” (quicker and lazier) way and see if there’s really a noticeable difference.

  • 1 c. freshly brewed hot coffee
  • 1/2 c. Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 8 Tbs (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 & 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 & 1/4 c. flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 tsp kosher salt (optional)
  • 1/2 c. dulce de leche (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Prepare 10-inch round cake pan by greasing with cooking spray and lining the bottom with parchment paper.

In medium bowl, combine hot coffee and cocoa powder until fully dissolved.  Incorporate brown sugar, then add yogurt and vanilla.  Stir until completely homogenized.

In electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream together the butter and granulated sugar until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs and mix well, about 2 minutes.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.  With mixer on low speed, add 1/3 flour mixture and 1/2 coffee mixture.  Scrape down bowl of mixer, mix until homogenized.  Add another 1/3 flour mixture and remaining coffee mixture, mix, scrape down, remix.  Remove bowl from electric stand and fold in remaining flour mixture with rubber spatula.  Stir until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared cake pan, then bake 25 minutes.  Rotate pan; bake another 20 minutes, or until cake passes toothpick test.

Remove pan from oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes.  Turn cake out onto clean plate, remove parchment, and turn cake back over onto a wire cooling rack.  Allow cake to cool completely.

If desired, melt dulce de leche in microwave until just barely liquid, and drizzle on cake.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.

Note:  There is supposed to be hazelnut brittle on here too, but the recipe already looks quite rich, and I refuse to put anything on this site that lists pure corn syrup as an ingredient, so I’m omitting that whole section of the recipe.  If you think that what this cake really needs is more butter, corn syrup, sugar, and hazelnuts, then check out the source:

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/29/rich-chocolate-cake-with-_n_1310887.html

Rum Cake

I don’t generally like using box mixes as the base for a recipe, but this looks intriguing enough to try sometime.

Cake 

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 box vanilla pudding mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 c. Bacardi Gold or Captain Morgan
  • 1/2 c. water
  • crushed pecans (amount variable to personal preference)

Glaze

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. Bacardi Gold or Captain Morgan
  • 1 c. water

Preheat oven to 325 F.

In electric mixer, combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil, 1/2 c. rum, and 1/2 c. water.  Mix well.

Spread crushed pecans into bottom of cake pan (pan size not specified; will update).  Adjust pecan quantity as desired.

Pour cake batter over pecans.  Bake 55 minutes.

While cake is baking, place all 4 glaze ingredients in a medium pot on stove.  Heat on low, stirring occasionally, until it begins to bubble.  Do not allow sugar to caramelize; remove from heat once you see little bubbles start rising.

Once cake is done baking, pry sides away from pan with soft spatula.  Then pour cake glaze into sides of pan and over the top; allow to cool.  Serve directly from pan.

source: Redditor bradymueller

Apple Pumpkin Butter (Cups)

  • 6 apples, cored, peeled, and sliced
  • 1/2 c. pumpkin puree (one ingredient)
  • 1/2 c. coconut milk
  • 1/2 c. chopped pecans
  • 1 Tbs vanilla
  • 1/2 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves

Line bottom of crockpot with apples.

In mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, coconut milk, pecans, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  Mix well.

Pour pumpkin mixture over apples in crockpot.

Set on low and let cook for 6 hours (or cook on high for 3 hours).

If desired, use immersion blender to make a smooth butter, or just eat it as-is! 🙂

 

BONUS RECIPE:  Chocolate Pumpkin Butter Cups!!!

  • Chocolate
    • For lazy people, melt 1 c. chocolate chips in double-boiler
    • For homemade chocolate, whisk together following ingredients:
      • 3 Tbs cocoa powder
      • 1/4 c. virgin coconut oil
      • 1 Tbs sweetener of choice (honey, maple syrup, etc.)
      • 1 tsp vanilla extract
      • pinch of salt
  • Apple Pumpkin Butter (for filling)

Once chocolate is prepared (either whisked homemade or melted store-bought), line a muffin tray with muffin cup liner thingies.

Spoon chocolate in each muffin liner to fill the bottom.  Using a brush, paint chocolate around the sides and bottom to make a cavity to fill with pumpkin butter.

Place in refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes.

Using small spoonfuls, fill chilled chocolate cups with Apple Pumpkin Butter.

Using remaining melted chocolate, cover the filling so the chocolate touches the sides you “painted” earlier to completely encompass the filling.

Place back in refrigerator for 45-60 minutes until set.

After serving, if any remain, store in ziploc bag or airtight container in the fridge.

Source: 

http://civilizedcavemancooking.com/crockpot/apple-pumpkin-butter/

http://civilizedcavemancooking.com/grain-free-goodies/pumpkin-butter-cups/

This blog also has other fillings you can make, so go check it out!

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