Ultimate Blueberry Muffins With Lemon Sugar Crunch

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I guess it’s lemon season? Good thing because I’ve been getting sick often these days and nothing soothes a sore throat than a piping hot cup of water with a squeeze of lemon. Not only does lemon seem to work miracles on one who’s sick, but it makes amazing baked goods, such as this blueberry muffin recipe I came across from Cook’s Illustrated. What stood out about this recipe was that the actual ingredient of lemon wasn’t included in the batter, but was a part of a sugar crumb sprinkled on top of the muffin at the last second before baking.

These muffins have the perfect amount of sweetness from the blueberry “syrup” and remind me of a summer day from the brightness of the lemon. These are AMAZING right out of the oven while the sugar crunch is still warm and crispy. I’ve thrown all other blueberry muffins into the very back of the archives (sorry, blueberry muffins).

Seriously, look at that crunchy topping.

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Ultimate Blueberry Muffins With Lemon Sugar Crunch
Yield: 12 muffins

Sugar Crunch:

1/3 C. granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest or zest from 1 lemon

Blueberry syrup:
1 tsp. sugar
1 C. fresh blueberries

Muffins:
2 1/2 C. all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/8 C. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 C. canola oil
1 C. buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 C. fresh blueberries

1. For the sugar crunch, combine sugar and lemon zest and mix to combine. Set aside and let sit so that the sugar absorbs the lemon flavor.

2. For the blueberry syrup, combine sugar and blueberries in a small pot and heat over medium heat. Stir frequently. As the blueberries heat up, they’ll start to plump up. Start smashing the blueberries to create a syrup. Turn the heat on low and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the mixture reduces to about 1/4 cup. Turn the heat off and set aside.

To make the muffins:

3. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a muffin pan with muffin liners.
4. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Mix to combine and set aside.
5. In another large bowl, beat sugar and eggs together until the mixture turns pale yellow – about 3 minutes.
6. To the sugar and egg mixture, stir in melted butter and oil. Next, add the buttermilk and vanilla extract. Mix to combine.
7. Now, add the wet mixture into the bowl with the dry mixture and mix until just combined. DO NOT OVER MIX.
8. Fold in blueberries with a rubber spatula.
9. Divide the muffin batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups.
10. For each cup, spoon about a teaspoon of the blueberry syrup onto the top and use a toothpick to swirl the syrup in with the muffin batter.
11. Next, evenly divide the lemon sugar mixture onto the top of the muffins.
12. Bake in the oven for 16-19 minutes, turning the pan 180 degrees once.
13. Poke a clean toothpick into the middle of a muffin. When the toothpick comes out clean, the muffins are fully baked.
14. Remove the muffins from the oven and set on a cooling rack to cool. Wait about 5 minutes before removing the muffins from the tin.
15. ENJOY!

Honey Matcha Caramels

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Hope everyone enjoyed your holiday weekend and spent quality time with your loved ones! The holidays came and went so quick! I don’t know about you, but I’m trying to keep the “holiday feels” for as long as possible. One way is to keep the kitchen table stocked with candies and other sweets. I’ve recently found my candy thermometer and it’s time to actually put use to it. Do you also have a drawer full of kitchen gadgets that have gotten lost and forgotten?

I’ve made brittles and toffee in the past and wanted to try making caramels. Having Christmas being this past weekend, it was the perfect opportunity to practice on making batches of different caramels without having hundreds of pieces to eat on my own. Out of the different recipes I’ve tried, this one was my favorite so I’d like to share the recipe with you!

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These caramels have a really nice texture and the slightly bitter/earthy flavor from the matcha really balances out the sweetness from the sugar. I highly recommend making these if you’re a fan of soft chewy caramels and what I really like about this recipe is that one batch doesn’t make a ridiculous amount. Again, I used matcha from MotionMatcha and honestly, I think the flavor from MotionMatcha really made the flavor of these caramels better! Often times with other brands, I have to use extra matcha just to really taste the flavor, but the flavors from MotionMatcha is quite concentrated.

Before starting, make sure to have everything prepared as caramels are VERY quick to make and you don’t want the sugar. Also, make sure to keep your eyes on the thermometer. If the temperature goes too high, you’ll end up with brittle or crunchy sugar versus a soft luscious caramel.

 

Honey Matcha Caramels
Adapted from Snixy Kicthen

3/4 C. sugar
2 tsp. matcha powder
5/6 heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. honey
1 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1. Prepare a 8″x4″ pan by lining the inside with parchment paper. I ended up using a Pyrex container.

2. In a small bowl, combine matcha powder and about 1/4 C. heavy whipping cream. Using a whisk or a fork, mix the matcha powder and heaving whipping cream until there are no more lumps of matcha powder. Add this into a small pot and add the rest of the heavy whipping cream to the pot. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until small bubbles form on the sides of the pot. Make sure the cream mixture doesn’t burn. Set aside

3. In another small pot, add the sugar and honey and heat over medium high heat and stir continuously until the sugar and honey completely melt.

4. Clip the candy thermometer to the side of the pot so that the bottom of the thermometer is completely submerged in the sugar. Heat the sugar honey mixture until the temperature reaches 302 F without stirring at all.

5. Now add the butter and kosher salt and slowly stir in the warm whipping cream. WARNING: The sugar will sizzle as you add the whipping cream so be careful. As the cream is added, the sugar mixture temperature will lower.

6. Continuously stir the mixture until the temperature reaches 248 F. Immediately pour the hot caramel into your prepared pan. Don’t scrape the excess caramel from the sides of the pan otherwise you’ll get hard bits of sugar in your caramels.

7. Let the caramels cool for at least five hours before cutting into it.

8. When the caramels are completely cooled, cut caramels into small pieces with a sharp heavy knife and wrap each piece in a piece of parchment or wax paper.

Matcha and Chocolate Shortbreads Dipped in Dark Chocolate

Tis the season for baking cookies! Not that you’re ever not supposed to bake cookies…

Shortbreads are one of my favorite types of cookies. My hands seem to have a mind of their own when a bin of shortbread cookies are in front of me and within a blink of an eye, half of the container is gone. They’re just so flakey and full of flavor. C’mon, who doesn’t like butter?!

I’ve recently partnered with Motionmatcha for this post and recipe. Motionmatcha is an online store that sells matcha in ready to go packages that can be mixed with water for a quick drink and an instant pick-me-up. In the afternoons, I’ve stopped drinking coffee because drinking coffee after 1:00PM either keeps me up at night or makes me crash like no tomorrow. Instead, I’ve replaced that afternoon cup of coffee with a glass of matcha and I haven’t experienced crashing since. For those who know me well, you know I’m a matcha fanatic and will consume anything matcha at any and every change I get so I definitely had to make something when I received a package of matcha in the mail. Not only have I started drinking Motionmatcha almost daily, I’ve come up with ways to bake with them. Stay tuned for more recipes to come, but for now, enjoy these shortbreads! And if you’d like to try some Motionmatcha products, you can get 15% off here!

Matcha/Chocolate Shortbreads
About 3 dozen cookies

2 C. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. matcha
1 Tbsp. dark cocoa (black cocoa if you have it)
1 C. butter (2 sticks), separated, softened at room temperature
1/2 C. confectioners sugar
2 C. bittersweet chocolate

1. Sift flour and salt into a large bowl then set aside.
2. In a standing mixer, cream butter and confectioners sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Add the flour and salt mixture into the creamed butter and beat until just incorporated.
4. Split the dough in half and move one half of the dough into another bowl.
5. To the dough left in the standing mixer, add the matcha and beat until just combined. Remove from the stand mixer and set aside.
6. Now, place the remaining half of the dough and place into the stand mixer. Add the dark cocoa and beat until just combined. Remove from the stand mixer and set aside.
7. On a slightly floured surface, roll each kind of dough into a log, about an inch and a half in diameter. Wrap in seran wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F and place parchment paper or a silpat on a baking sheet.

8. When the dough has hardened a bit, remove from the seran wrap and slice the dough into 1/4 inch discs and place onto the baking sheet. These cookies don’t spread very much, so not much room needs to be left inbetween each other.
9. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until you see the bottom edges just about to turn golden.
10. Let the cookies sit for about two minutes before placing them onto a cooling rack.
11. When your cookies have fully cooled, melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments in a small bowl. Mix the chocolate with a spatula after every 30 seconds. When the chocolate is completely melted, dip the cookies halfway into the chocolate, one at a time. Place each dipped cookie onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat and let the chocolate harden. The chocolate shouldn’t stick to the parchment paper/silpat when removing the cookie.

Farm To Fork SF

I was invited to attend an event with Farm To Fork this weekend showcasing sustainable beef and carbon ranching. There was also a short film on sustainable agriculture and how cows are raised, which really educated me on where our local high quality beef comes from. In addition to that, there was excellent live music and drinks to accompany the unbelievably delicious beef we had. Let me just show you what we ate!

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Chef Chris Kiyuna from The Perennial: Beef tartare on a slice of grilled persimmon.

This little bite surprised me! Upon first glance, I thought this was beef tartare on top of a cracker, but to my surprise, the “cracker” was a slice of grilled persimmon. The persimmon had a slight crispness to it and had a slightly sweet flavor which went perfectly with the beef tartare. And I thought I hated persimmons! Isn’t it pretty?

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Chef Tu David Phu – Feastly/Independent: TomKat Ranch sirloin tartare with chanterelle mushrooms, seeds, shaved daikon, and dill all on a piece of grilled rice paper.

This was probably my favorite dish of night! The beef and mushroom was so flavorful, but light, and the texture of the rice paper just tied everything together. The rice paper was rice paper wrap used to make Vietnamese spring rolls, but instead of wetting it with water, it was torched. Adding heat to the rice paper makes it kind of fluff up giving it the texture of a shrimp chip. Genius!

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Chef Tu David Phu: Coastal Hill farm egg with smoked cream, maple, amaretto, sage, and salt

I ended the night with one of these delightful eggs and it was the perfect dessert. I was expecting this to be savory, but it was slightly sweet and had a pleasant creaminess from the cream. Very rich, but not overpowering.

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Chef Wes Rowe from WesBurger ‘N’ More – Stemple Creek Ranch specialty brisket burger

Am I allowed to cuss on here? F*ck. This was probably one of the best burgers I’ve had in a while! It was a burger simply dressed with caramelized onions, mustard, and sliced pickles. That’s it. This burger really proves that good quality beef doesn’t need all the fancy condiments to taste good.

Overall, this event was a good experience of fun and educational and I recommend anyone to come and support any of the Farm To Fork events!

Pumpkin Praline Cake

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Where has the time gone? I can’t believe it’s already the last quarter of the year. As much as I look forward to Fall every year, I never realize October is here until I go grocery shopping at Trader Joes and see EVERYTHING pumpkin. Of course I can never go home without a pumpkin product. This time around, I decided on picking up a can of pumpkin puree to actually get a start on some Fall baking.

One weekend, I had the urge to bake something and didn’t want to make the typical pumpkin cupcakes I bake every year. I remembered seeing a praline cake somewhere online – something I’ve never seen before. I searched the web far and wide and found the recipe. Guys, I made this recipe and I’m never turning back. It’s SO easy to make, it doesn’t create a lot of dirty dishes, it’s extremely moist, AND it can be made into so many other forms! Pumpkin layer cake, pumpkin bars, pumpkin cake parfait.. ugh, the list goes on. The thing I probably like the most is that no special kitchen equipment is needed to make the frosting or the cake. I ended up making this cake at my boyfriend’s house – A man who doesn’t do ANY baking whatsoever with no baking tools in sight.

I’ve made this cake 3 times in the last month and it’s been a hit with everyone I’ve given it to. Instead of using only walnuts, I used a honey roasted mixture of nuts and instead of purchasing all of the different spices, I bought pumpkin spice. Also, before pouring the frosting over the cake, I took a serrated knife and leveled the top of the cake off so that some parts of the cake wouldn’t have more frosting than other parts. I then took some of the cake that was cut off from the top and crumbled it over the frosting along with the chopped nuts. Make sure you work quickly with the frosting. Sue wasn’t kidding about the frosting setting quickly! Make sure you have your cake already cooled and your spreading utensil in hand before making the frosting.

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The recipe below is how I made the cake, but the original recipe can be foundhere

Make this!

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Pumpkin Praline Cake
Servings: 12-16

Cake
1 15 oz canned pumpkin
1 C. sugar
1 C. canola or vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 1/2 tsp. of pumpkin spice
1/2 tsp. salt
2 C all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda

Frosting
1/2 C. half and half
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 C. packed brown sugar
2 C powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 C. roasted mixed nuts of your choice, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment paper or butter and flour the pan.

2. In a large bowl, mix canned pumpkin, sugar, oil, and eggs until combined.

3. Add the pumpkin spice and salt and mix.

4. Now add the flour and baking soda and fold the mixture until everything is just mixed together.

5. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared baking pan and use a spatula to evenly spread the cake mixture before putting into the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes and test with a toothpick. When after poking a toothpick into the cake comes out clean, it’s ready!

6. Set aside for at least an hour to cool.

7. Chop up the nuts and set aside.

8. When the cake has cooled, put half and half, butter, and brown sugar into a medium sized pot. Heat until melted and starting to boil over medium heat. Let the mixture slow boil for about a minute then take the pot off of the heat.

9. Add in the sifted powdered sugar and stir with a whisk until completely combined.

10. Immediately pour the frosting over the cooled cake.

11. Quickly sprinkle the the chopped nuts over the frosting before the frosting has time to settle and harden.

Stuffed Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

The holidays are quickly approaching and I’ve already started searching for new cookie recipes since my mom and I bake enough cookies to feed the entire city during the holidays. As of lately, I’ve been obsessed with spreads, such as Nutella and peanut butter. I’m not sure why as I’ve never shown much interest in the past. I came across a cookie recipe made with browned butter and nutella. Both together?! I thought I was dreaming and had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t. Ever since I made the cupcakes using browned butter, I’ve been obsessed with it and was so happy to see a cookie recipe using it. Having a nutella stuffing made it even better!

These cookies are soft with a crisp edge, will satisfy the craving of a chocolate lover with a sweet tooth, and tastes great with a glass of milk or hot coffee. They’re easy to make and if you have kids, get your kids involved! Have them roll the dough into balls after putting the stuffing into the cookie dough. I’m sure they’ll have a good time and maybe this can be a cookie that starts an annual cookie baking session like my mom and I have. What I like most about this cookie is not only does it taste great and gooey right out of the oven, but they stay soft and buttery for a few days instead of turning into a rock!

 

 

I found the original recipe here and just played up on the chocolates. Let me tell you guys… this cookie worth the greasy hands!

Instead of using a mixture of different chocolates, I used some nutella chocolate chunks I had made a few days before and also dumped in some swirled chocolate chips I had on hand. Either way, any kind of chocolate chips or chunks would go great with this cookie dough. Also, instead of stuffing all of my cookies with Nutella, I stuffed some with some dark chocolate peanut butter spread I had bought a few weeks back. You can also stuff them with biscoff or cookie butter. OOoooo, wouldn’t that be wonderful?! That’s like… a cookie stuffed with a cookie!

Stuffed Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Chookies
2-1/4 C. all-purpose flour
1-1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1-1/4 C. packed dark brown sugar
1/4 C. granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. plain greek yogurt
1-3/4 C. of any type of chocolate chips
1 C. of a chocolatey spread
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

In a small pot, melt the butter and continue to heat over medium-low heat for about ten minutes. Stir frequently so the butter doesn’t burn. Foam will appear on the surface, but it’s okay, just stir for a bit. When the butter starts to brown and gives off a nutty smell, take the pot off of the heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, add the butter, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

In a mixer or large bowl, mix the butter and both sugars until smooth. Add the egg and eggyolk one at a time, mixing thoroughly inbetween. Add the vanilla extract and greek yogurt and mix until just combined. Next, add the flour mixture in two increments. Mix until just combined-do not overmix. Fold in your chocolate chips.

Put the dough into the refrigerator for at least two hours.

When your dough is nice and firm, it’s ready for play time!

Preheat your oven to 350 F
Take a heaping tablespoon of dough into your hand and flatten it into a flat circle. Add a scant teaspoon of nutella (or whatever spread you’re using), and place it into the middle of the circle. Fold the edges up, making sure to cover the nutella and roll it into a ball.

Place on a prepared cookie sheet (I just placed parchment paper on my cookie pan), and slightly flatten the ball. Place about 2 inches apart. Bake 9-11 minutes. Mine were perfect at 10 minutes.

Enjoy with a glass of milk or some strong coffee. MMM MMM GOOD!

Crisp & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Although I’ve had urges to bake lately, I haven’t had the most time in the world. A few of my friends have been bugging me about the next time they’re going to get some sort of sweets from me. Well…. since I’ve been itching to bake something, but haven’t had much time to do so, cookies it was gonna be!! Thin, buttery, crispy edged chocolate chip cookes to be exact! Cookies are so convenient to make and don’t make a sink full of dirty dishes. Just make the batter, prescoop then into little balls, and stick them in the refrigerator/freezer. When you feel like eating a cookie or have a last minute potluck to go to, take the dough out and you have goods in a matter of minutes!!

I wanted to try a new chocolate chip cookie recipe since I’m still on the hunt for the PERFECT CCC! This one comes close. I’d like the cookie to be slightly thicker and a little chewier, but the taste is definately there. I baked a couple cookies on an old metal cookie sheet with parchment paper and some more on the same pan on a silpat. The cookies baked on the silpat came out slightly chewier so if you prefer a really crispy cookie, I recommend baking on parchment paper. Also, these cookies didn’t stay chewy for very long. By the end of the day, they had become quite crispy.

I figured I’d try a Martha Stewart recipe cause you know… when it comes to cookies, she is the wo-MAN! There’s another Martha Stewart CCC recipe floating around. I’ll try those next time (not saying these weren’t nearly perfect already).

P.S. Make sure you lay these cookies FAR apart from each other. They spread like crazy. Here’s how I made them!

Crisp and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
From: Martha Steward
Makes about 20 cookies

2 3/4 C. flour
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 C. unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 C. packed brown sugar
3/4 C. sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. chocolate chip cookies (I used 2 cups of nestle chocolate chunks)

Sift flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda into a medium bowl.

Cream softened butter with sugars on high speed until light and fluffy. Next, beat in eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla. Add the sifted dry ingredients into the butter mixture and beat on low speed. When the mixture is combined, add the chocolate chips and mix with a wooden spoon or continue beating on a very low speed.

Place the dough into a bowl and cover. Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 F and line a cookie sheet. Place about 2 Tbsp. of cookie dough (in a ball-like shape) 3 inches apart of each other and bake for about 15 minutes.