Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sea Salt and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

You will have to excuse me if I'm a little obsessed with Coconut Oil. Seriously, to me it's like butter you can store in your cupboard. For the most part it stays nice and solid, even at room temperature. Of course, when the heat index hits over 95 degrees, it does turn to liquid...but that's ok. It still works. I have used it for both cooking and baking by simply subbing it for butter and it has worked well. Apparently, it even has heath benefits...just ask the Dr. Oz show: The Surprising Benefits of Coconut Oil

It's not a surprise that Trader Joe's has a good deal on Organic Coconut Oil. I happen to prefer a little of the coconut taste, so this brand is perfect.

I had to wonder, though, if Coconut Oil would make a good cookie? Then a couple of months ago, I tried it in my Fish 'N Chips Cookies (you really have to try these...not as gross as they sound), and the results were spectacular!

I'm a big fan of putting "stuff" in my cookies...."kitchen sink" cookies, if you will. My daughter, on the other hand, is a purest. No nuts, no pretzels, no coconut flakes. I still irritate her (mothers learn to do this in mother school) by asking each time I make cookies if I should put some walnuts in the batter (the answer is always no..or so the eye roll tells me). Sigh. So, instead I revved up the taste with some sea salt and dark chocolate. Result? Perfection. No nuts needed.

Sea Salt and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
1¾ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ cup coconut oil
1 ½ cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup dark chocolate chips
½ cup chopped dark chocolate (I used a dark chocolate candy bar)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F; line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

Place the coconut oil and the brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.

Add the flour mixture into the sugar mixture, stirring until well blended. Fold in the chocolate chips and the chopped chocolate.

Use a cookie scoop to drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Chill for a few minutes (this will avoid spreading) Bake for 9-11 minutes or until the cookies are just golden. Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.

Penzey's is another essential place for me...I have a bag of sea salt just for baking.

I found the consistency of the dough to be a little tacky. Chilling the dough makes it hard..the coconut oil hardens quickly--so chill after you scoop.

As you can see there is some spread, but not too much.

I like to add additional chopped can see the extra little chocolate chunks next to the chocolate chips.

Chewy, with crisp edges. These cookies are great warm from the oven ---melt-y dark chocolate and a little taste of sea salt....chocolate chip heaven!

How do you use Coconut Oil?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Vanilla Glazed Triple Chocolate Zucchini Bread

This month the Blogger Improv Challenge features two of my favorite ingredients: Chocolate and Vanilla! Improv, if you are not in the know, is a foodie challenge hosted by Kristen of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. Each month Kristen selects two ingredients for us to work some magic with.

Chocolate and Vanilla may be two of my favorite ingredients, but that doesn't mean it was easy to come up with a good idea for this challenge. Let's face it--adding a dash of vanilla extract isn't exactly creative. So, I took a quick inventory of what I had and went from there....

This part was easy...I have Costco sized vanilla in my cupboard....

This coconut milk had Vanilla written all over it...I had to use some...

White Chocolate Chips just plain look vanilla-y...and I'll need some Dark Chocolate, too.

Honestly, I didn't come up with an idea until yesterday, when I saw a post on Facebook from King Arthur Flour---a beautiful picture of Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread. As luck would have it, someone at work brought in a rather large yellow zucchini that was now resting in my refrigerator. Don't you love it when worlds collide? I had vanilla stuff, I had chocolate stuff, I had zucchini, and had a recipe from King Arthur Flour...

Vanilla Glazed Triple Chocolate Zucchini Bread (adapted from King Arthur Flour)
Printable Recipe

2 large eggs
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
1/3 cup cocoa
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini, gently pressed
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate candy bar
1/2 cup white chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate candy bar
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tablespoon butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons vanilla flavored coconut milk (or regular milk)

Preheat the oven to 350°F; lightly grease an 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, honey, oil, sugar, and vanilla until smooth
Add the salt, baking soda, baking powder, instant coffee, cocoa, and flour, mixing until well combined.
Stir in the zucchini, chocolate chips and white chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the bread for 65 to 75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the bread from the oven, and let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes before turning it out of the pan onto a rack. Cool completely. Drizzle with glaze.

For the glaze, combine the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir until smooth. Drizzle over bread.

The glaze is totally optional, but it sure does look nice.

So fudgy and good!

Now check out what everyone else is making with Chocolate and Vanilla!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Lime and Coconut Blueberry Muffins

Do you ever watch Chopped? It's the show on Food Network where the contestants are given baskets with three mystery (and often odd) ingredients with which they must conjure up appetizers, entrees, or desserts within impossible time limits. It's fun to watch and I'm often amazed at the interesting dishes the contestants come up with in such a short time. It has occurred to me, however, the reason we're so attracted to this show is its similarity to our own experiences in the kitchen. Doesn't nearly every home cook have times where they must prepare a dish with whatever they have on hand and in a limited amount of time? If you're like me, it's an almost daily occurrence.

To give you an example, the other day I was faced with a pint of blueberries that had to be dealt with. I had procrastinated for the better part of a week and they had to be used up before they got wrinkly and gross...I hate to waste food. Now, it was early morning and I had to get ready for work...what to make quick? Muffins! 

A quick survey of the fridge and cupboard told me that I had the basics...flour, sugar, vanilla...there was a lime and some lime yogurt...oh yes...coconut, some coconut milk, and if I wasn't mistaken...coconut oil! I had a theme!

Luckily, I had some coconutty items from my recent trip to Trader Joe's. I could have easily subbed butter for the coconut oil, sour cream for the yogurt, and lemon for the lime....

Over the years, I've come to love these kitchen adventures. In fact, it has translated into a couple of hobbies, one being this blog and the other? Cooking contests! Yep, it all started with my obsession with getting into the Pillsbury Bake-Off. It was a lofty goal and it took me many years, but I did it! Holy cow was that an exciting much so that I was concocting new recipes in my head on the plane ride home. While I didn't win a prize that time, I came home with a plethora of foodie friendships that I can't begin to put a price tag on.

To be honest, the friendships that I formed from that one experience began several months before I actually participated in the event. How? Because I became a member of Cooking Contest Central as soon as I had my entries in to Pillsbury, even before I found out that I was a finalist. 

I had been a member of CCC several years earlier, so I knew what it was all about and I wanted to be sure that I had all of the up-to-date information on the Pillsbury Bake-Off that year. What I didn't count on was all of the support from so many people, many of whom had already gone to the Bake-Off. Not only was I able to connect with people that had the same interest, I had access to all of the latest cooking/baking contests, and I had the ears of actual contest winners. I didn't expect to be swept up into so many different contests, but the best part was when I did find out that I was a finalist at the Pillsbury Bake-Off, I got to share that excitement with about 30 others who were also chosen! 

To share the contesting fun, Kristina over at CCC is allowing me give you a chance to win a 1 year membership to CCC! Simply enter through the Rafflecopter widget at the bottom of the can "like" The Dutch Baker's Daughter and Cooking Contest Central on Facebook for a couple of entries or, if you don't have a Facebook account, just leave a comment telling me whether you prefer to enter cooking contests or baking contests. :) Easy.

Bloggers--you won't feel left out of CCC---there are special contests just for bloggers and you could gain a whole new audience!

And now for the muffins---they turned out to be so good!! 

Lime and Coconut Blueberry Muffins

3/4 cup sugar, divided
2 teaspoons freshly grated lime peel, divided
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1 pint fresh blueberries
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 (5-6 oz) container lime flavored Greek yogurt
6 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.; line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.

2. In a small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon lime peel; set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, coconut, and remaining lime peel and sugar. Stir in the blueberries and set aside.

4. Add the milk, the egg and the yogurt to a large, microwave safe measuring cup. Use a fork to blend the mixture. Microwave for about 30 seconds, or just until the mixture is at room temperature; stir in the coconut oil and the vanilla. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and gently stir with a rubber spatula until just blended.

5. Spoon the batter into the lined muffin cups. Sprinkle the sugar/lime mixture over the tops of the muffins. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Remove the muffins from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

Happy Contesting! :)
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