This just in: converting a recipe back from being vegan and gluten free is difficult sometimes. However, the resulting bread that I got out of this? Amazing, and definitely going into the regular rotation once persimmons are back in season. (If you want the original gluten free and vegan version, it’s linked below.)

Persimmon Spice Bread

Ingredients

Bread

  • 2.5 c flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1 t nutmeg
  • 1 t ground cloves
  • .5 c milk
  • .5 c vegetable oil
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1.5 c persimmon puree (you should be able to get this from about 4 large ripe persimmons)
  • 1 persimmon, sliced thin (I used about half of one)

Vanilla Glaze

  • .5 c powdered sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract

Take your persimmons, skin them, and puree the fruit in the blender. Save half of one, and slice it into small slices. (If your persimmons are ripe enough, this will not be an issue. For Hachiyas, you want them super ripe, borderline soft. For Fuyus, you want them firm.)  Preheat your oven to 350. 

In a bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients, followed by the persimmon puree, then the milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla, until you have a coherent dough. Transfer the dough to your loaf pan, top with the persimmon slices from earlier, and bake for an hour at 350. 

While the bread bakes, whisk together your powdered sugar and vanilla to make the glaze. Once the bread has been removed from the oven, let cool for at least fifteen minutes before drizzling the glaze on top.

What time is it? Catch up time!!

I’ve been cooking a fair bit at the new place, and I honestly just haven’t had time to post stuff lately. This is me attempting to play catchup for a good… three months or so. Whoops. 

I made these cookies back in December for the office cookie exchange. I wanted to try something simple, new, and unique. These sriracha candy canes fit the bill nicely. 😛 

Sriracha Candy Canes
Makes appx 12 cookies

Ingredients

  • 3 c flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2 sticks (1 c) unsalted butter
  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 T sriracha
  • red food dye

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in one bowl, and in another bowl, cream together the butter and powdered sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla to the butter and powdered sugar, and then slowly stir in the dry ingredients and mix until you’ve got a nice combined dough.

At this point, split the dough into two pieces.  Wrap one half in plastic wrap, and put it into the fridge to chill.  Add the sriracha and red food dye to the other, and mix until you have an even red dough. Wrap and chill this one as well until you’re ready to make your cookies (one hour minimum). 

Take your doughs out from the fridge, and preheat to 350 degrees once you’re ready to use them. Take small balls off of the sriracha and plain doughs, and roll them into thin, several inch long ropes. Then, place the ropes next to each other, and then twist together (see picture 3), curving the top down to look like a candy cane. Repeat until you run out of dough. 

Bake your candy canes for 12 minutes, and enjoy!

So, now that I’m finally settled in the apartment where I am for realsies living now that I am down in Chicago, I figure it’s time to break in the kitchen. And let me tell you, it’s an amazing kitchen. Big fridge, gas range and oven and microwave, undermounted sink, lots of cabinets, a pantry, it’s everything I’ve wanted in a kitchen, ever. 

It’s been a damn long week, and these were already on the docket for me to make in the near future. But last night, I decided to move it up because it’s been a REAL shitty week at work, and I wanted something nice for me and the boyfriend to wake up to. This recipe is going to need some tweaking for the future (imagine this with brown butter!), but for a first try, this was a real good thing to have for breakfast while cuddling and playing Borderlands 2. 

Lemon Sticky Buns with Lemon Glaze
Makes appx 10 – 12 buns, depending on how you cut them

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 package active dry yeast (appx 2.5 t)
  • .75 c milk, warmed
  • .5 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • .25 c white sugar
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 4.5 c flour
  • .5 t salt
  • .25 t nutmeg

Sticky Lemon Filling

  • 1 c sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 T (half stick) unsalted butter, very softened, but not fully melted
  • .25 t ground ginger
  • 1/8 t nutmeg
  • .25 c fresh lemon juice

Glaze

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • .25 c fresh lemon juice
  • 1 c powdered sugar

Take your milk and microwave it for about 45 seconds, so that it’s warm, but not scalding hot. Mix it together with the packet of yeast, and let stand for a few minutes, until it’s nice and foamy. Then, in a large bowl, mix together your softened butter, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and 1 c of the flour, until you have a nice, sticky dough base. Then, add the salt and nutmeg, and slowly, the rest of the flour, until you have a good sized sticky dough ball.

Then, take your dough ball, lightly flour the surface you’ll be working on, and knead the dough for five minutes, until you have smooth, stretchy ball of dough. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover with a towel, and let sit for about an hour, until the dough doubles in size. 

While the dough rises, make your lemon filling! For this, be sure that your butter is very, very soft, but not to the point of melting; my butter was partway melting, which is probably why my filling didn’t quite turn out perfectly, I think. Anyways, start out by rubbing the lemon zest and sugar together, until well combined. Then, slowly mix the butter in, until the mixture is thick and creamy. Then, add your nutmeg and ginger in, followed, slowly, by the lemon juice. The lemon juice will thin out the mixture, but it should still be creamy. (As you can see in pic 4, this didn’t happen for me, but it still worked.) Toss the filling in the fridge, and be sure it chills for at least a half hour; ideally, you work on the filling immediately after you start the dough rising, and let it chill for that full time. 

After your dough has doubled, take it and use a rolling pin to roll it out to roughly a 10 x 15 rectangle on a lightly floured surface (see pic 5). Take your lemon filling, and spread it evenly over the dough. Start rolling from the top long edge of the dough, and work your way down, rolling it as tight as possible and pulling the dough taut to keep the filling in. If your filling is too thin, it’ll leak out the ends, like mine did (see pic 6). Then, take a pan (I used a round cake pan), and cut your roll into twelve even pieces (I only got ten out of mine), and put your rolls into them, nestling them together (see pic 7). If you end up having the mixture leak out the ends, just brush it over the tops of the buns. 

At this point, if you’re me, you cover the pan with a towel, and throw it in the fridge over night. The next morning (or right away, if you decide to make it all at once), let the buns rise for at least an hour, until they’re puffy and doubled in size (see pic 8). While the buns finish rising, preheat your oven to 350. Then, put the buns in the oven for 35 minutes, until they’re golden brown (see pic 9), and a toothpick inserted into the doughy parts comes out clean. 

While the buns bake and cool, combine the lemon juice and cream cheese until light and fluffy, and then slowly whisk in the powdered sugar, until you have a nice smooth glaze.

Once the buns have cooled a bit, but are still warm, spread the glaze over the buns, cut into them, and enjoy the glorious lemon goodness!

If you’re looking for an awesome dessert, this is it.  This babka is fantastic and rich, and as Deb points out, even if you think it looks not that pretty, that syrup makes everything look fantastic.  And plus, it gives you two loaves – one to share with friends, because you’re nice like that, and one to keep and eat for you.  Or maybe use for things like french toast.

(Better) Chocolate Babka
Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients

Dough

  • 4.5 c flour
  • .5 c sugar
  • 1 packet instant yeast (2 t)
  • (zest of lemon or orange; didn’t add this this time)
  • 3 large eggs
  • .75 t sea salt
  • 2/3 c unsalted butter (just take 2 1/3 sections of a stick of butter)
  • (optional oil to grease)

Filling

  • 4 oz dark chocolate (equivalent to one baking bar)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • .5 c powdered sugar
  • 1/3 c special dark cocoa powder
  • cinnamon to taste

Syrup

  • 1/3 c water
  • 6 T sugar

Combine all your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, yeast, zest) in a bowl, and mix together with your eggs and water until the dough comes together.  If you have a stand mixer to do this, great!  If not, you’re gonna be using a plastic spoon.  It might be a bit dry – if it doesn’t quite come together, don’t be scared to use some extra water.  Add in your salt and butter, and mix together until the dough is completely smooth (see picture 3).  This took about ten minutes of working the dough with my hands to have it come together perfectly – the dough should start pulling away from the sides of the bowl once it’s ready.  

Coat a bowl with oil, transfer the dough to the bowl, cover, and put in a fridge overnight (or half a day if you’re doing it same day).  The dough won’t quite double, but it will grow by at least half.

When you’re ready to assemble the babka, take your dough, let it warm up slightly, and split it in half and then roll one half out into a 12 by 10 rectangle.  After rolling out the dough, make your filling.  Melt your butter and dark chocolate over medium high heat (put your butter in first, and break the bar down into small chunks), and then stir in the cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and cinnamon until you have a nice paste, and remove from heat.  Take half the filling, scoop it out onto the rolled out dough, and use a rubber spatula to spread it out all over the dough, leaving a half inch border, like so:

image

To assemble the loaves, brush the furthest end from you with water (in this case the right end) and then roll into a long tight cigar, like so:

image

Seal the water dampened end onto the dough.  Cut off a half inch off each end of the log and then slice each loaf in half length wise, so that it looks like picture 6.  Lay them so that they’re laying long ways with the cut sides laying up, and pinch the two top ends together.  Lift one side over the other to form a nice twist so that the cut sides face up and fan out, making a nice S shape (see picture 7).  Repeat this with your other dough, and feel free to make a small little baby babka like I did with the dough ends.  Transfer into greased loaf pans (or a rectangular cake pan in my case), cover with a damp hand/tea towel, and let rise for an hour and a half.  Preaheat your oven to 375.

Once the hour and a half is up, put the loaves in the middle of the oven and bake for 30 minutes.  You’ll know it’s done when you’re able to stick a fork or skewer into the middle of a loaf with no restistance (instead of it feeling rubbery/bouncy).

While the babka bakes, make your syrup by simmering together your water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.  As soon as the babka is ready, take it out of the oven, drizzle the sugar syrup over the two loaves, and enjoy the fantastic.  The final pic is how your babka will look after you drizzle the syrup on it.  This was what was left of the babka less than twenty minutes later:

image

It’s good shit.

These were the last of the cookie balls I made.  Still pretty damn good, but I don’t think the base recipe was quite as good as the pumpkin spice ones. Either way? More rum and chocolate is always a good thing. (I might need to make my own version of Jeni’s Rum Ball ice cream now. Because reasons. And science.  Let’s get ready to rum ball, etc etc etc.)

Rum Balls
Makes about 15 balls

Ingredients

  • 1 12 oz box vanilla wafers, crushed
  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 2 T cocoa powder
  • 2 T corn syrup
  • 2/3 c rum (I again used Bacardi Superior)
  • white sugar (for rolling)

Again, for the vanilla wafers, if you’ve got a food processor, lucky you. Otherwise, again, just take a rolling pin, a bag, and your wafers, and go to town. 

Combine your crushed wafers, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder, and then add the corn syrup, and after, very slowly, the rum, until you have a barely combined mix. You can do all of this with a food processor on pulse too, which, again, if you have it, bully for you. If you don’t, roll your sleeves up, take a rubber spatula, and go. 

Take small chunks of your dough, roll them into small balls, and then toss in white sugar to coat. Chilling here is noted as optional, but it does make the flavor even better, in my opinion. Again, serve chilled or at room temp, as you prefer.

This, right here? This is likely going to be my base cookie ball recipe going forward.  These are the perfect blend of cookie, booze, and softness, and they taste AMAZING. And again, it involves lots of bashing of rolling pins and cookies, and one of the perennial flavors of this time of year – pumpkin spice. I used Bacardi Superior rum in this, this would likely be even better with a dark rum like Kraken. 

Pumpkin Spice Rum Balls
Makes about 20 balls

Ingredients

  • 1 box vanilla wafers, crushed
  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • .5 t nutmeg
  • .5 t ground ginger
  • .5 t ground cloves
  • .25 c rum (I used Bacardi Superior, Sailor Jerry’s was recommended)
  • 2 T pumpkin puree
  • .25 c white sugar for rolling

For the vanilla wafers, again, if you have a food processor to do the work for you, fantastic. Otherwise, take a box of vanilla wafers, put them in a bag, and then beat the shit out of them with a rolling pin. Enjoy the stress relief. You will likely need it around this time of year.

Mix together the crushed vanilla wafers, powdered sugar, and spices. In a separate, smaller bowl mix together the rum and pumpkin puree. Combine in the larger bowl until the batter’s just barely combined, as in pic 4. Take small chunks of your dough, roll them into small balls, and place them on a plate to rest as you roll them all up.

Take the balls, toss them in sugar to coat, and then chill in the fridge for an hour minimum. You can eat them either chilled or at room temp; just try not to eat all of them at once.

I made these… significantly earlier than I would care to admit, but things have been busy enough around here with the holidays and such that I haven’t gotten to posting these just yet.

I made these alcoholic cookie balls for the bosses this year (with a few leftover for me), and they also kind of served as tryouts for a good base ball recipe. This was definitely one of the more interesting ones, but not the one I’ll be ultimately using.  Very good recipe, though. And around this time of year, I’m all for alcoholic cookie balls.

This recipe isn’t quite perfect, as I ended up having to do some guessing on whether or not I had the right chocolate (long story short there was chocolate in my pantry but I didn’t know what kind it was as it had been taken out of the packaging and scattered all over the pantry), or enough of it. These ended up being a bit more moist following the base recipe, and I ended up adding powdered sugar to compensate. Not sure how much the Kahlua came through on this, but still a no bake, relative stress relieving assembly process.

Kahlua Balls
Makes appx 20 balls

  • 3 c crushed graham cracker crumbs (comes out to about two and a half of the small packages of graham crackers you find in a box)
  • .75 c powdered sugar
  • .25 c dark cocoa powder
  • 1.5 c semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 3 T corn syrup
  • .33 c Kahlua
  • 3 T brewed coffee
  • .5 c white sugar, for rolling

First, crush your graham crackers. If you have a food processor, you can do it that way. Alternatively, do what I did – take a large bag, add a package at a time, and beat it with a rolling pin until you have relatively uniform, fine crumbs. Trust me, it’s a pretty fantastic feeling. To chop your chocolate, use a large knife (such as the one in picture two above), and use it on the squares to kind of shave the chocolate off the squares, to a fine enough point that it will blend in the batter well eventually. 

Take your chocolate, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and graham cracker crumbs, and whisk them together until you have a relatively uniform mix. Add in the vanilla, Kahlua, corn syrup, and coffee, and stir with a rubber spatula until the dough just barely comes together.  If it ends up too moist, add more powdered sugar to firm. 

Take chunks of dough and roll them into 1" balls. Put them on a separate plate to rest while you roll them all out. Once rolled, put them in the white sugar, toss to coat, and then place in a container. Put them in the fridge to chill – two to three days to develop the flavor is best.  And then, when you decide to eat them (and it will be sooner rather than later), bring them up to room temp, and enjoy!