The last couple of days out here in the Prairies have been hotter than H-E-Double Hockeysticks. Now a lot of people I know are basking in the heat, loving that it’s been +40, in stead of -40 like it will be in a few short months. Me on the other hand? No. I am not built for this weather, especially since I’ve been working in the bake-shop section of the kitchens at work. It’s been so hot that I start sweating just using the Hobart and mixing whipped cream. That’s a bad sign. A deliciously bad sign.
So what do you “bake” when it’s already baking outside?
The “Oh My God These Are So Good Why Can’t I Stop Eating These?” Cookies.
Yeah, these things are seriously that good. And deceptively easy.
Chocolate Haystacks – yields roughly 2 dozen tablespoon sized cookies
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups rolled oats
2 cups shredded or flaked coconut
Melt and mix the butter, sugar, cocoa, salt and milk.
Remove from heat and stir in everything else.
Drop by teaspoon, or tablespoon, or handful (whatever…this is one place where size doesn’t matter) onto parchment lined baking sheets.
Let air-dry and set. Don’t refrigerate! It’ll cause them to be all melty and gross when you take them out of the fridge. Just leave them alone for a while. Sneak one while it’s still warm and gooey though, because that’s just delicious.
So, I won’t be so silly as to call these little babies paleo…there’s more than enough sugar in that icing to make sure that the words “paleo” and “healthy” don’t even begin to cross my lips when I talk about these. But they’re cupcakes, they’re not supposedto be good for you!
What these are is grain free, and easy. Super easy. I promised my wife that I’d make her cupcakes, but found myself with absolutely no interest in braving the wintery weather to scour the shelves of the hippy food store for xanathan gum, and sorghum flour…and any of the other weird ingredients that are often found in gluten free baking. Why can’t there be a simple gluten free recipe out there? One that doesn’t call for ingredients I’m pretty sure I used in highschool chemistry class? A recipe that’s quick to make, and basic – so I can add whatever flavours I want?
And then I realized that standing in front of the kitchen windows with a whisk in my hand, talking to myself, was scaring the neighbours…and I came up with Mama G’s Lazy Ass Cupcake Recipe.
The icing recipe that follows is super easy as well, and VERY sweet. It goes nicely with the cupcakes because they aren’t terribly sweet. But, if you don’t have a sweet tooth, I’d recommend making a honey or maple-syrup based buttercream instead. Actually…that sounds good…stay tuned for that recipe shortly!
Almond Flour Mini Cupcakes
1½ cups almond flour
1¼ teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
½ cup full-fat coconut milk (go for the stuff in the can, not in the box. The stuff in the box is basically coconut drink. Bleh. You can also go with cream, or milk, or even 50/50 almond milk and cream. Just don’t use anything thinner, or without some fatty goodness in it)
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons raw honey
2 eggs, room temperature
If you’ve got really chunky almond meal, and not almond flour, it helps to pulse that in a food processor for a few spins before you get started. Technically there’s no difference between almond flour and almond meal, but the finer consistency makes a big difference. While you’re debating whether your almond meal is fine enough, go ahead and turn the over to 350.
In a large bowl blend together almond flour, baking soda and salt.
In another bowl (this one doesn’t have to be large, but it may feel inadequate next to the dry ingredients bowl. Bowls are sensitive creatures.) whisk together the coconut milk, melted coconut oil, vanilla, honey and eggs.
With a spatula, blend the wet and dry ingredients together.
Spoon evenly into lined mini-cupcake tins, makes roughly 24!
Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until edges turn a lovely golden brown. Remember, we’re working with almonds here…so as soon as they turn golden, or you can smell their heavenly aroma PULL THEM OUT OF THE OVEN. These suckers go from perfect to burnt as fast as a redhead at the beach.
So Easy It’s Ridiculous(ly Sweet) Icing
This, is the lazy man (or woman’s) frosting…and therefore one of my favourites.
100g butter (room temperature)
200g icing sugar
1-2 tsp flavoured extract
Smoosh together all of the above. Add food colouring if you so desire, and either spread it on your completely cooled little cupcakes, or get fancy and pipe it on with a piping bag.
So, those who know me really well know the ridiculousness of me posting a banana recipe.
I hate bananas.
That’s not even an understatement. I absolutely hate bananas. If I’m in a room the size of a basketball court and someone at the other end of the room opens and proceeds to eat a banana my gag reflex kicks into overdrive. My stomach starts to twist and I turn green. Usually I leave the room. For the longest time they were a banned substance in my household, and if my partner had a banana they had better damn well brush their teeth before they even think about kissing me.
So obviously, me wanting to make banana bread makes no sense to anyone who knows me.
A couple of months ago I started working at a smoothie place. And as most people know, bananas are a key ingredient in most smoothie recipes. They smooth out the texture, they help make them nice and thick, and they actually help bring out the flavour of other ingredients.
Smoothies were my “gateway drug” into the world of bananas. It started with a sip or two, just so I knew what the smoothies were supposed to taste like – so I could get the flavour right when I made them myself. And then I leaped into putting them into my own smoothies at work. And then I brought bananas home one day. Next thing I knew I had a full case of over-ripe bananas sitting on my kitchen floor and I was Googling banana bread recipes.
What’s happened to me? How could I let things get this far?!
Over a dozen loaves of banana bread, and about 6 dozen muffins later, I think I’ve perfected Banana Bread Muffins.
For those of you who aren’t baking for an army; this recipe easily cuts down by thirds. Bonus: You can also freeze these little guys, or bake as loaves (adjust temp to 300, bake for about 1 hour. Makes 4 loves)
9 over-ripe bananas, mashed (about 3 cups)
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 – 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 – 3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 – 2 cups chocolate chips
1 – 2 cups chopped walnuts
Smoosh up your bananas in a large bowl. I recommend removing the peel first, because otherwise they make for a very fibrous and unpleasant texture once baked. (Sorry, I’ll try and reduce the smart-assery)
Stir in eggs and sugar until well combined. Add in butter, oil and vanilla.
In a separate bowl blend flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon.
Quickly mix dry ingredients into wet. Do not overmix! Basically once it doesn’t look dry anymore STOP! Otherwise your muffins will suck, and you’ll blame me…and then we can’t be friends anymore.
Add your add-ins with a few quick strokes. (heh…) The amount is not an exact science, so use as much or as little as you want. I go whole-hog and do both walnuts and chocolate chips, ’cause I’m awesome like that.
Plop by the spoonful into lined muffin tins. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Let cool for about 10 minutes in the muffin tins, and then pop out onto wire racks to finish cooling.