Mocha Hazelnut Orange Brownies

One of the favorite cookies on a plate always seems to be brownies. While I have several recipes, I’m sharing one that is usually popular. For me, the combination of chocolate, orange, and hazel nut is hard to resist.

Mocha Hazelnut Orange Brownies

Eight ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup butter (two sticks)
5 eggs
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
2 tablespoons coffee crystals
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Melt chocolate and butter in microwave. Stir in coffee crystals. Cool slightly. In another bowl, beat all, sugar and vanilla on high speed for five to eight minutes. Blend in melted chocolate mixture on low speed. All flour, beating just to blend. Stir in nuts.

Spread mixture in greased 13 x 9-inch jelly roll pan or in two 8 x 8-inch cake pans. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 25 to 35 minutes. Do not over bake.

Frosting

½ cup butter (one stick)
1 pound powdered sugar
3 heaping tablespoons Nutella spread.
Juice of one orange
Grated rind of one orange

Beat the butter and Nutella with an electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar until well incorporated. Add grated orange rind and enough juice to make the frosting spreadable but not runny.

When the brownies are completely cooled in the pan, generously frost. To make them easier to cut, refrigerate until frosting is set.

Busy Baking Day!

One of my darling offspring has a birthday, today! Besides a choice of what she would like for dinner, I also spent the morning making her a birthday cake. The choice this year was a lemon cake with lemon filling. The task also gave me a chance to try out some cake decorating tools I got over four years ago and have never had time to try out.

Although I was thrilled to have the fun of decorating a cake, once I stood back to admire, the ‘flaws’ showed up all too clearly. I’m thinking eating cake by the light of the birthday candles might be called for this evening!

Beer Batter Bread

This is always a fun bread to make especially since it is simple and you can oversee the children in the mixing but keep track of the beer! Actually, a priest gave me this recipe.

Beer Batter Bread

1 12-ounce can of your favorite beer
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 cups self-rising flour

butter

preheat oven to 350 degrees. Vegetable oil spray a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. (You can put this batter into muffin tins, too.) Mix all the ingredients together and put into your prepared pan. Bake for approximately one hour depending on your oven. Every 15 minutes, butter the top of the bread with bits of butter.

Let cool in pan a bit before removing. Great to pull out of the oven about ten minutes before dinner and serve warm with soup or stew.

Refrigerator Cookies – An Easy Recipe

Refrigerator cookies are a favorite of mine. You can make a batch of cookies and put them in the refrigerator for later use. The time comes that you need a sweet snack, you preheat your oven, slice some cookie dough into rounds and bake. You can have your kitchen smelling amazing within minutes and thoroughly impressing your family.

This is a favorite recipe of mine. Often I will double the recipe to have some emergency dessert/snacks at the ready!

Slightly Citrus Sugar Cookies

2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons of finely grated orange zest

Cream the butter until soft and fluffy. Beat in the sugar until well incorporated then add the eggs and vanilla, beating until smooth.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, salt, and zest together in a separate bowl. Now, add it to the butter mixture until well-mixed but don’t over beat it!

On a sheet of waxed paper, form your dough into a long log about two or three inches in diameter. Wrap it into the waxed paper and refrigerate for four hours to overnight.

Now you have two choices. You can cut slices of cookie rounds for baking or you can roll out your dough and use cookie cutters!

Anyway, put your cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes. Let rest on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing them to a cooling rack. You will have approximately four dozen cookies.

For a fancier cookies, you can brush the tops of your cookies with slightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with finely chopped nuts, colored sugar, or other cookie decorations before baking. A simple icing would be good, too. Extra fancy? Cut and bake cookies into rounds and make sandwich cookies filling them with jam, melted chocolate, or peanut butter.

Making Biscuits in a Hurry

Okay, everything takes some time but this is a pretty quick recipe to get into the oven. Just make sure you read the recipe a couple of times, line up your ingredients so you don’t have to go scurrying around the kitchen and . . . Bake!

Hurry Up Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chilled butter
1 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare a parchment lined baking sheet.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Dice up the cold butter and using your hands, mix it in with the dry ingredients. You don’t want to warm up the butter so rather quickly rub the butter into the dry mix between your fingers until there are rough crumbs of it in the flour. Add the milk gradually and using a fork gently mix until it forms a soft dough.

Flour a surface and roll out the dough to about 1/2-inch thick. Don’t have a biscuit cutter? No problem! Just use a glass to cut out rounds of biscuits and place on your prepared baking sheet. You can brush the tops lightly with melted butter before putting them into your preheated oven. Bake for approximately 8-12 minutes or until golden brown.

This recipe makes about a dozen biscuits (depends on how big you cut them!) The recipe doubles nicely.

Ideas:

Add a quarter cup of granulated sugar to the dry mixture for a sweeter biscuit. It would even work for the base of strawberry shortcake.

Roll the biscuits a bit thinner than directed, put a bit of jam in the center of one and another thin biscuit on top sealing well. A great surprise to your family for a special breakfast.

Brush the tops with melted butter and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar.

You could even cut a middle hole in your biscuits and deep fry them for donuts. Toss them in cinnamon and sugar while warm. Adding an extra quarter cup of sugar to the dough will make it sweeter but I like the taste of the biscuit with the sweet coming from the coating.

Quick Change Brownies!

My daughter made a batch of brownies for work this week. She went according to directions and went to an expert (not!), my husband! to get an opinion on whether they were adequately baked. At one in the morning, she was cutting her brownies and discovered she needed another expert but what to do now. I found her sad note on the counter in the morning along with two containers of semi-baked brownie goo. Since she had doubled the batch and used eight eggs, a pound of butter and all of my baking chocolate, I figured there had to be a remedy.

Since I had nothing to lose at this point, I put all the ‘goo’ into the mixing bowl, added a couple more eggs and a bit of baking powder and blended it until smooth and could hold it’s shape. I dropped balls of dough onto the parchment paper and flattened them down a bit with some Valentine’s Day sprinkles. They rose nicely, had a thin crust and a cake-like interior and retained that intense chocolate taste. Ended up with enough for my husband to take to work, my daughter’s party at work as well as a plate of perimeter brownies in the original form.

Flour Tortillas . . . With No Flour

We were blessed in that when we discovered my husband had gluten intolerance, we got in when things were really beginning to advance is recipes and ingredients for the gluten-free diet. Although I have tried a variety of gluten-free ‘flours’ over the year, including mixing my own, I always come back to BetterBatter for most of my baking needs. Besides providing a good product, they have a huge lineup of recipes on their sales site and the ‘flour’ adapts to many recipes.

Pulled pork was on the menu the other night. I had vegetables but needed something to replace the usual bread buns we used to like so checked for a BetterBatter recipe for flour tortillas. From the picture, you can see I was successful. My daughter doesn’t have a problem with gluten but prefers the gluten-free tortillas to the regular ones which is why I always remember to make a double batch!

Anyone working with having to go gluten-free or just curious, here is their link:

http://betterbatter.org/