I’m back with a new recipe! I’ve barely been baking these last few months, and while I’m always coming up with recipes I want to share here, life has just been getting in the way. I’ve been blogging on and off for over 7 years now! At times I find myself posting weekly, while other times I take longer breaks. I started this journey to share my baking journey with family and friends without a plan of where I wanted it to take me. I still don’t have a clear idea, I do know that I love creating delicious dessert recipes to share and that is what I hope to focus on for a bit. I’ve been pretty unmotivated in the baking department lately, but sharing this (my thoughts and my recipe) feels really good. I hope you like this dairy free, easy, quick, delicious recipe for oatmeal raisin cookie sticks. It’s a great alternative for those who don’t love chocolate or simply need a break. Is that even a thing? These cookie sticks are sweet, crispy and chewy. Plus, they freeze great! The key to these or any recipe that calls for raisins, is to soak them in boiling water before mixing them into the dough. The hot water plumps the raisins right up and keeps them moist inside the cookie sticks. Just make sure to strain the water out of the raisins before using them.
I am always looking for good Passover dessert recipes. It’s seriously on my mind all year! I came up with this one last Passover and never got a chance to post it officially on my blog. I did share it on Instagram and emailed it over and over to anyone asking. But here is my official post with the easy to follow, no mixer needed, one bowl, dairy free, gluten free, brownie brittle recipe! I make so many batches of these before Passover because they are so easy to make and really really delicious. I’ve always wanted to try adding other topping on like nuts, marshmallows, coconut, sprinkles…but I have not had the chance. If you try adding anything other than chocolate chips, let me know how it goes! This recipe has actually replaced my recipe for flourless double chocolate nut cookies, a recipe I highly recommend for Passover-it’s really good too! But this brownie brittle is just so much easier to make. Plus it’s nut free, something people are always looking for in a dessert recipe because of allergies. Looking for my other popular Passover desserts? I’ll bet you have heard about my chocolate chip cookies, but have you tried my banana muffins? They are also amazing! I make mine in mini size, perfect for snacking. Enjoy!
Prepare a baking sheet by covering it in a piece of parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium sized bowl, mix everything aside from the chocolate chips.
Mix by hand or with a mixer on low until combined.
Pour the batter onto the prepared baking sheet and spread into a very thin layer. Spread the batter almost to the edges of the parchment paper, the batter does not spread very much.
Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the batter. Use more or less as desired.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until the batter is shiny and puffy and the edges begin to firm up.
Carefully remove from the oven and immediately cut the brittle into squares. Use a sharp knife and either lightly spray with cooking spray, or coat with oil using a paper towel dipped in oil.
Cut using an up and down motion, pressing the knife into the brittle and lifting back up. Try not to drag the knife through the brownie brittle. Clean the knife off as you go, the melted chips will start to stick and you won't get nice cuts.
Return the brittle to the oven for another 10-15 minutes until crispy.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Once cool, break into squares. The brittle should break evenly on the cuts you made earlier.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature. I don't recommend freezing the brittle because it softens once defrosted and doesn't stay crispy.
I’m so happy to be sharing something with you. I’ve never taken this much time away from my blog and I totally miss it! To ease my way back in, I’m sharing a really easy recipe. It’s not even a recipe, but more of just a really good idea for your Super Bowl party. If you like crunchy and sweet snacks, this is the chip for you! These baked pita chips are so good and so easy to make especially since you can make them in advance. I used store bought pitas but you can also use homemade if you like, but that makes this recipe ten times harder! I used white pitas but feel free to make them with whole wheat if that is your thing. The pitas I found at my local supermarket were super thin so these chips came out a bit darker in color than I would have liked and crispier than I wanted, but they are still so insanely good-I can’t stop eating them.
Start by slicing the pita in half lengthwise so you have 2 half moons.
Then open the pita pocket, gently separate the two halves and cut carefully.
I’m trying to show the pita cut in half and then in half again, but it was hard for me to capture! Basically, your pita should now be in a single layer.
Brush each side with oil of your choice. I used vegetable oil here.
Sprinkle both sides with cinnamon sugar. I mixed white sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
Slice in half.
Then in half again.
And in half one last time.
Spread chips in a single layer onto a parchment lined baking sheet (you may need more than one baking sheet) and bake in a 375 degree preheated oven until crispy. Mine took less than 8 minutes because my pitas were so thin, if your pita is thicker, it may take longer. Allow to cool and then store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Start by slicing the pita in half lengthwise so you have 2 half moons.
Then open the pita pocket, gently separate the two halves and cut carefully. Your pita should now be in a single layer.
Brush each side with oil of your choice. I used vegetable oil.
Sprinkle both sides with cinnamon sugar. I give you amounts of sugar and cinnamon here but it's really an approximation, feel free to use more or less.
Slice flat pita in half.
Then in half again.
And in half one last time creating about 1" wedges.
Spread chips in a single layer onto a parchment lined baking sheet (you may need more than one baking sheet) and bake until crispy. Mine took less than 8 minutes because the pita was so thin, but it could take longer depending on the thickness of the bread.
Allow to cool and then store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
Cookie butter us always a good idea. I’ve added it to my rice crispy treats for the easiest no-bake dessert ever. For this dessert I use Biscoff cookie spread in the cake and crushed up cookies in the crumb topping. The cake has a perfectly thick dense texture and the topping is sweet and slightly crunchy. This recipe is dairy free and really easy to bake up. I mix mine in a stand mixer but you could use a hand mixer or even mix this by hand. You can even make the crumbs in the same bowl as the batter to keep the dishes to a minimum. The batter is very thick, but spreads really easily. I grease my pan using homemeade cake release; the cake slides right out of the pan every time. Here’s my super simple recipe:
I am not sure why it’s taken me this long to share this recipe with you. My Passover version is always so popular with my family and friends, and the recipe spikes on my blog every April. I always make this recipe into mini muffins, but you could bake them into regular sized muffins or even a banana bread loaf. I just love the mini muffin size because they are easy to snack. It’s just a bite or two, perfect for kids and they freeze so well. Overripe bananas work better in baking and I often have those lying around. If your bananas are getting kind of old but you aren’t ready to bake, just unpeel them and freeze in a zip top bag. When you are ready to bake, just pull them out of the freezer and let them defrost before mixing into the batter. Have way too many bananas? Try my other banana recipes: Peanut butter banana chocolate chip cookies Banana oatmeal muffin tops Strawberry banana ice pops Strawberry banana crumb cake
Here is my dairy-free, margarine-free recipe for chocolate chip banana muffins. The chocolate chips are optional, so if they aren’t your thing just leave them out. Enjoy!
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 regular muffin cups or 48 mini muffin cups with paper liners.
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat oil with the sugar and eggs until pale yellow in color.
Add the bananas and mix until broken down and mashed.
Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
Add the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix to combine.
Add in the chocolate chips and stir by hand so the chips don't break up.
Fill each muffin cup ¾ of the way and bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes until light brown and the tops springs back to the touch or a toothpick comes out clean (avoiding the chocolate chips, they will be melted).
A tip about cupcake liners. There are so many cute cupcake patterns out there and I’m often tempted to buy them. But beware, not all cupcake liners bake well. Unless the liners are “greaseproof”, they will bake up all oily and look kind of translucent. You will lose the design printed on them and they will look greasy. I buy large packages of white and brown cupcake liners so I always have them on hand. My favorite place to order from is Bakers Stock. They have a nice selection and are very well priced!
Here’s another attempt at me catching up on cakes I’ve never shared. I made this Paw Patrol cake almost 2 years ago. It was so big, I couldn’t even get good lighting for the whole cake. Instead of making all the characters, I bought some figurines and placed them around the finished cake. A few reasons I like doing this, the characters look official because they are! I can spend time working on the cake design instead of making so many characters. And the child gets to keep the toys after the cake is cut and served! I call that a win-win-win! This cake had me nervous because of the structure, but it traveled beautifully. The bottom tier was a tall 9 inch. I paneled the cake in blue fondant that I rolled out in an ombre pattern. That was more complicated than I wanted it to be, it took me some time to get it right. The smaller paw covered tiers were actually styrofoam. I did that for structural reasons. There was a pvc pipe going through the entire cake and sticking out to hold the topper. I wanted to make sure everything held together nicely. I honestly can’t remember how I made the topper but I do remember leaving it off until I reached the event space, and slipped it onto the top of the pipe once I got there. I’m sure some of it was styrofoam, some rice crispy treats and some cake, all covered in fondant. I love how this cake turned out, but it certainly gave me some challenges!
I’m obsessed with this dessert lately. It’s so easy and so good! This dessert is basically a chocolate chip cookie stick, but I added cocoa to the dough and used white chocolate chips in place of semi-sweet. These sticks are soft and chewy on the inside and crispy outside. Once you mix up the dairy free dough, divide in half and shape each half into a long strip and bake. After 5 minutes of cooling, slice the cookies into 12 pieces and allow to cool completely. I know I mention using a stand mixer, but these can also be made by hand. Just mix everything in a large bowl. There is nothing better than a quick and easy dessert to throw together at the last minute! These cookie sticks also freeze very well!
I may have fallen behind in sharing my custom cakes with you. Like really far behind! Here goes anyway! I designed this cake for my son’s 5th birthday party. At the time he was obsessed with Curious George. I have seen this image of George floating away with a huge bunch of balloons and thought it would be perfect for his cake! I made the bottom tier super tall so I would be able to fit George and his balloons. I made the top tier very short to balance out the cake. I covered both tiers with white fondant and then airbrushed in blue using a stencil to create the clouds. I was having trouble covering the large bottom tier and kind of messed up. I tried redoing the fondant once or twice and was getting frustrated! Instead of trying over and over, I figured the airbrushing would cover any major issues. I covered the bottom with cut out fondant clouds using this cutter in different sizes. I marbled some fondant for the balloons to give them a bit more texture. Curious George was made out of fondant. My son loved his cake! Happy 5th birthday!
I have been talking about my challah recipe for weeks and weeks. Maybe even years? But I wasn’t quite ready to share it until now. I have been tweaking it each time I baked it, and now I’m pretty sure it’s perfect! (See my edits-I’ve tweaked it a bit since originally posting). I’ll explain my process as well as tips and tricks I use to make my challah picture perfect.
Lets talk about yeast. I buy active dry yeast in bulk. I store it in an airtight container in the back of my fridge. It stays fresh for months that way. You can also store it in the freezer. Then when I’m making challah, cinnamon buns, vanilla rugelach, or anything else that calls for yeast, I’m ready to go. Here are some tips for using active dry yeast. When mixing your yeast with water and sugar, that is called proofing. When proofing your yeast, if your yeast mixture is not puffy or bubbly after 5-10 minutes it is probably dead. Please discard it; your bread will not rise. Your yeast could have been old, or your water could have been too hot or cold. The water temperature should be between 105 and 110 degrees F. If you don’t have a thermometer, run the water over your wrist. If it feels warm, it’s just above body temperature (98.6 degrees F) and should work perfectly to proof your yeast.
If you buy instant yeast, you can proof it first, but you can also just add it directly in with the flour; there is no need to proof it with water. Then continue the recipe as normal. If you buy rapid rise you should add it directly to your flour. You should then technically knead the dough and immediately shape the bread. Then allow to rise and bake. The rapid rise yeast is not meant to rise twice. I would stay away from it altogether just because it makes things more complicated and you may have different results.
I like to mix my dough until it just comes together, leaving out the salt. Then I allow the dough to rest for 10-30 minutes. This gives the flour some time to absorb the liquids in the dough. I find that if I mix it all right away, I need to add more and more flour to make the dough stop sticking. By allowing the flour to properly hydrate, the dough doesn’t usually need extra flour. I live in New York and this recipe works for me, but if you live in a higher elevation or very different climate, you may need to adjust your flour amounts, rising, or baking times and temps.
Once your dough is mixed and smooth, place it in an oiled bowl. Rub a thin coat of oil all over the dough. I like to lay a piece of plastic wrap directly over my dough. Then I add a second piece of plastic wrap over the entire bowl, completely sealing it. You can also just rest a clean kitchen towel over the bowl. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled. If it is a hot summer day, it may double in 45 minutes. If it is really cold in your kitchen, it could take up to 2 hours. If it’s a cold day, I like to turn my oven on very low, place my dough on top and sometimes even crack the oven open slightly. Or I will run my dishwasher and place the dough nearby so it benefits from the warmth. Just be careful not to overheat your rising dough. Do what works for you!
If you have mixed your dough but don’t have time to bake it, place it directly in the fridge. Do not allow it to rise first. The dough will rise in the fridge, it will just rise very slowly. You can even allow it to rise in the fridge overnight (currently my favorite method). Just make sure to bring the dough to room temperature before continuing. Your dough may smell extra yeasty or like alcohol. This is okay! Your dough just had extra time to ferment and let off extra alcohol gasses. Do not allow your dough to rise on the counter overnight, you have eggs in the dough which are perishable.
When I make this recipe, I divide my dough into 6 equal pieces, 6 equal challahs. Then I braid each challah and bake them in greased Magic Mill oval challah pans, size 8 (8″). If I want larger challahs, I divide my dough into 3 loaves and bake them in Magic Mill oval challah pans, size 10 (10″). If I doubled my recipe, (and it does double beautifully) I would bake 6 loaves in the size 10 challah pans. The pans that I use are technically non-stick, but I like to grease my pans with cake release or non-stick spray before placing my braided dough inside.
Once my challah loaves are braided, I brush them with egg wash and cover them loosely with a clean kitchen towel. Then I preheat my oven. Allow the bread to rise until doubled in size. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes, to 1 1/2 hours. You can test your dough by pressing your finger into the bread slightly. If your dough springs back, it’s not ready yet. If your indentation stays, your dough is ready for the oven. You can carefully brush with egg wash again and then bake.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the bread is evenly browned and the challah sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Baking time can vary depending on the size you shaped your bread. Oven temperature can also vary depending on the pans you use. The pans I use are dark in color so I bake my bread at 325 degrees. Allow to cool and enjoy!
Once my challah bread is baked, it freezes beautifully, just make sure to wrap it well in plastic wrap and a freezer bag.
(Edit 4/12/2018 The past few times I’ve made my challah I have adjusted some of my measurements. I increased my yeast from 2 packages to 3, so now I use 6 3/4 tsp. of active dry yeast. I increased the water from 2 cups to 2 1/4 cups; and I increased the oil from 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup. In my opinion the dough is even easier to work with and the bread comes out even richer. But if you have been happy with previous amounts, stick with those!)
In a medium sized bowl mix the warm water with the yeast and ½ cup of sugar. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to proof for 5-10 minutes.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the eggs, oil, sugar, and flour. Turn the mixer to low speed and pour in the yeast mixture. Mix for a minute or two until the dough just comes together. (It will look shaggy and messy). Turn the mixer off and allow the dough to rest for 10-30 minutes.
After 10-30 minutes, add the salt then turn the mixer back on and mix until the dough is smooth; about 10-15 minutes.
Once the dough is smooth, transfer to a large oiled bowl. The bowl should have enough room to allow the dough to double inside. Make sure the dough is completely covered in a thin coat of oil. Then cover and allow to rise. It needs to double in size. This can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours. Or allow to rise overnight in the fridge.
Once risen, divide the dough, braid, and egg wash. If the dough rose overnight in the fridge, allow to come to room temp before dividing and shaping. Once shaped, cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel.
Allow to double in size again. This can take 30 minutes to 1½ hours.
While the dough is rising for the second time, preheat your oven to 325-350 degrees F.
Once risen, carefully brush with more egg wash and bake until golden brown. Baking time varies depending on the size that you shaped your bread. Oven temp varies depending on the pans used to bake. A darker pan needs a lower oven temperature or the bread will get too dark before the bread is fully baked.
Naomi Nachman aka “The Aussie Gourmet” is out with her debut cookbook “Perfect for Pesach”. This cookbook is geared toward Passover cooking and baking, but according to Naomi, the recipes are so good, you’ll want to make them all year. 120 of the recipes are gluten free which makes this cookbook perfect for those with gluten dietary restrictions. When I asked Naomi why she chose to write this specific book she noted that she really wanted to break the mold of Passover cooking. It doesn’t have to be all meat and potatoes.
Not only does this cookbook contain 125 recipes, it is also a great Passover kitchen resource. It starts off with an entire page breaking down 6 cooking oils you may come across at the supermarket and why certain oils are chosen for certain recipes. Naomi includes a breakdown of her essential kitchen tools which is a perfect checklist for anyone cooking for Passover. She also includes tons of freezer tips because nobody wants to spend the entire holiday cooking in the kitchen.
The book is then broken up into classic categories: appetizers, dips ad salads, soups, fish, poultry, meat, dairy, sides, and desserts. Each recipe has a little note from Naomi, as well as a clear list of ingredients and a step by step method for preparing the dish. There are also cooks tips such as ingredient substitutions or different cooking methods that can be used. Many of the recipes also include ways to prep the recipe in advance. This sets you up for success in the kitchen. And although these recipes can be prepared as is for year round use, there is a page of non-Passover substitutions that can be used in place of Passover specific ingredients.
The best part of any cookbook, in my opinion, is the pictures. And this cookbook has a gorgeous full page color photo of every recipe. Miriam Pascal the Overtime Cook did all the photography for this book. She really knows how to make the food pop off the page.
So many of the recipes look amazing, but the recipes I really want to try first are southwestern chicken egg rolls, hush puppy potato knishes, quionoa “hummus”, charoset salad, goat cheese salad with raspberry vinaigrette, flanken butternut squash soup, meat and cabbage soup, pistachio crusted salmon, braised chicken with apples and sweet potatoes, citrus glazed duck breast, cranberry glazed turkey and spinach meatloaf, maple glazed rack of ribs, veal roast with mushroom sauce, pastrami meatballs, almond butter banana pancakes, cheesy hash browns, apple kugel muffins, blueberry cobbler, and fudgy chocolate bundt cake with coffee glaze. Lucky for us, with permission from Artscroll/Shaar Press/ March 2017 I am able to share Naomi Nachmans Passover recipe for fudgy chocolate bundt cake with coffee glaze!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a Bundt pan well; set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together almond flour, coca powder, potato starch, coffee, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, vanilla, and eggs. Add dry ingredients; stir to combine.
Pour batter into Bundt pan; bake 40-45 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely in the pan. Remove from pan; glaze with coffee glaze.
In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients to form a glaze. If the glaze is too thick to pour, add water, ½ teaspoon at a time, until desired texture is reached.
Pour glaze over cooled cake.
I was generously given a review copy of Perfect for Pesach by Naomi Nachman from Artscroll/Shaar Press/ March 2017 and they have agreed to give one away too! To win your very own copy of Perfect for Pesach by Naomi Nachman, head over to my Instagram @lilmisscakes to enter. US mailing address only.