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    Entries in colours (with a u) (15)

    Tuesday
    Mar122013

    Honey Muffin

    Taneasha has been telling me lately that I don't make enough chocolate stuff.

    So I made honey-blueberry muffins.

    Apparently I'm feeling a little contrary today. Today. Ha.

    Honey Muffins with Berries

    2 cups flour
    1-1/2 tsp baking powder
    1-1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 tsp cardamom
    1/2 cup sugar
    2 eggs
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1/3 cup honey
    1/3 cup orange juice
    1/3 cup plain yogurt (greek style if you have it)
    1/3 cup vegetable oil (peanut works)

    2/3 c berries
    1 tbsp honey
    1 tbsp orange juice

     

    Preheat oven to 400°F and line your muffin cups.

    Realize there was no honey in your ingredients pic. Honey muffins and no honey...

    In a big bowl, combine all the dry stuff: flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cardamom, sugar. Yes, sugar. I know it usually goes into the wet stuff, or the butter so it will dissolve first, but, as I said, I’m feeling contrary today.

    I’m a little concerned about this recipe because my yogurt is a wee bit thicker than your typical yogurt.

    Seriously, you could spread this stuff on a bagel and eat it like cream cheese.

    The yogurt, honey, and orange juice can be piled into one cup, measure by displacement.

    In another bowl, mix all the wet stuff: yogurt, honey, juice, eggs, oil, vanilla.

    Before you mix the wet and dry, make sure your berries are thawed. Even looking at the volume in the second bowl, I was still worried about the liquid content.

    So, I added a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of juice to a pan with them, and just melted everything. You don’t want them warm, just melted.

    And dammit, no matter how hard I tried I couldn't get a shot of the orange juice being poured into the pan.

    Stir the wet stuff into the dry until it’s just barely mixed. Hm, doesn’t look too dry. This could pass for muffins. But, I’ve got the berries all melted, so in they go.

    Again, stir until just mixed. Berries do weird stuff when you mix and bake them. If you stir them too much, they’ll actually turn green. I can't decide if these are green or purple... There's a reason I wear a lot of black.

     

    I had enough for 13 muffins.

    The 13th muffin.

    I'm still having a bit of trouble with my oven. This time, I erred on the side of too hot - probably at least 425. The muffins were golden on top after only 8 minutes, but still gooey inside. By 15 minutes, they looked like this.

    Muffin 13, despite the heat, still lost it's peak in the middle.

    I think I need new baking powder.

    But heat was definitely a factor in these.

    They are tasty though. Very caramelly in flavour as well as colour. And the honey really comes through. I think next time, I'll omit the sugar and add a bit more honey. They're really quite sweet. More blueberries too. Or maybe none?

    At least they're not green anymore?

     

    Tuesday
    Feb192013

    Three layers of square

    These are some seriously exotic treats.

    From that far away land called Canada.

    Nanaimo is a small city (city, lol) on the south part of Vancouver Island. As a place, it's a bit of a crap hole. It's got a cute little downtown harbour, and backs onto a large temperate forest, but it's also got pulp mills. You do not want to ever wake up to that smell. A musician friend of mine from Nanaimo would always play a cover of "Dirty Old Town" by the Pogues while he was on the road because it reminded him of home.

    Really, the only claim to fame of this odd little place is a dessert created by a woman who lived there. And it's become such a part of the food culture of Canada that these are ever present at holiday dinners. Every xmas spread has at least one plate of these. Thanksgiving too. Easter, even.

    And everyone has their own special little variation. This is mine. It's the best one. Is too.

    Nanaimo Bars

     

    Layer 1

    • 1/2 c butter
    • 1/4 c sugar
    • 1/3 c cocoa
    • 1 egg
    • 2 c graham cracker crumbs
    • 1-1/2 c unsweetened coconut (I prefer shredded for the texture)
    • 1 tsp vanilla

    Layer 2

    • 1/4 c butter (unsalted, has to be)
    • 2-1/2 tbsp Bird's custard powder (more on that later)
    • 3 tbsp cream
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 2 c icing sugar

    Layer 3

    • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate
    • 1 tbsp butter

    Yes, it's a lot of stuff, and a lot of layers, but each one has to spend time chilling in the fridge, so you can do them piecemeal, adding the next layer whenever you get a few minutes to spend on them. I suspect that's why they're such a holiday thing.

    The base:

    Melt the butter in a medium sized pot. Mix the sugar and cocoa together.

    You don't have to do that; you could dump them in individually, but I find that the sugar crystals help to break up the clumps in the cocoa.

    Whisk these together, and then break the egg into a small bowl, and whisk it. With the pot over low heat, whisk as you slowly pour the beaten egg into the cocoa mixture. Whisk, whisk, whisk.

    You don't want to cook the egg, just get it to set, like in a custard. Keep whisking for a few minutes until it thickens. Beautiful, glossy, dark, chocolately stuff.

    Once it looks like that, take it off the heat and dump in the crumbs, the coconut, and the vanilla. You'll need a spoon to stir this part. You'll also be able to find any chunks of graham cracker that didn't get busted up in the food processor.

    It will be crumbly, but it will stick together in large clumps.

    Press it into a 9x9 pan, buttered and lined with an overhang of parchment (you'll need that to help get them out). You want this part evenly distributed and well packed. Hands are the only way to do it.

    Now, cover the pan and put it in the fridge.

    Find something else to do for an hour.

    Yes, an hour.

    I'm sure you can find some means of entertaining yourself. I mean, it's not like you have to set a timer or anything, just make sure that it's firm before you spread on the next layer.

    The filling:

    It has to be unsalted butter (no salt, seriously) that is room temperature soft. Whip it up in a bowl for a few minutes.

    Then add the cream, the vanilla, and the custard powder.

    If you don't know what custard powder is, you will need to learn. I've seen recipes that say you can substitute vanilla pudding powder here, but you can't. No. You will have to go find some Bird's. It's in every grocery store I've ever been to in Canada, but if you can't find it in yours, you may have to look for an English import store. It is a UK thing, limey as limes, and it makes the tastiest non-Newtonian fluid around.

    It also gives the middle it's characteristic soft buttery colour.

    Add the 2 cups of icing sugar about 1/3 of a cup at a time, beating it well after every addition.

    Recipe Guy's house has power tools!

    At the end you want something firm enough to hold its shape, but soft enough to spread around.

    All your base are covered in frosting.

    And then back in the fridge it goes.

    Seriously, you could take a week to make this and it wouldn't know the difference.

    Once the middle is firm, usually only half an hour later, start the topping.

    The chocolate:

    Get a small pot of water up to a simmer and put the chocolate and butter into a small bowl. Bowl, meet pot. You, stir.

    mmmm... chocolate.

    Pour it onto the creamy filling and spread it around.

    Fridge!

    But only for about 15 minutes. For this one, you should set a timer. You want the chocolate set enough that you can cut it, but not hard enough that it will break when you try. My way of telling: you can touch it gently and not leave a fingerprint, but press on it and make one.

    With a very thin sharp knife, cut it into squares. Wipe off the knife after each cut.

    Yes, I just cut the contents of a 9x9 pan into 30 pieces. These things are rich and when they're small you can eat more of them.

    Let them firm up completely before you try prying them out of the pan. The parchment helps.

    Artfully arranged on a platter, or left in the pan with a fork for self-service, these things will disappear fast and everyone will complain that you're trying to kill them with rich delicious sweetness. Yes, the filling of these is basically half an inch of thick buttercream icing, but no one held you down and forced 7 of them into your mouth.

    What's your favourite layered dessert?