Nature’s Eats: Butterscotch and Almond Cheesecake Bars #NaturesEats #Tryazon

 

 

Lets Begin………….

Butterscotch and Almond Cheesecake Bars

  • Dry Ingredients:
    1 cup of Oats (Instant/Quick cooked)
    1 cup of White Whole Wheat Flour
    1 cup of Blanched Almond Flour by Nature’s Eats
    1/2 cup of All Purpose Flour
    1/4 tsp of Salt
    1/2 tsp of Baking Soda
    1/2 tsp of Baking Powder

 

  • Wet Ingredients:
    7 ounces melted Unsalted Butter (melted)
    1 1/4 cup of Butterscotch Chips
    3/4 cup of Brown Sugar
    1 Large Egg

 

  • Filling:
    16 ounces of Cream Cheese (softened)
    1/8 tsp of Almond Extract
    1/2 tsp of Vanilla Extract
    1/4 cup of White Sugar
    1/8 cup of All Purpose Flour
    1 Large Egg

Drizzle (optional): 1/4 cup of Extra Dark Chocolate melted. Takes about 15 seconds and I use the stove top and I add heat, take the pan off to stir, add pan back and then again stir until just melted. It is my way to avoid burning the chocolate.

You begin by using 3 bowls to mix the above ingredients. You start with the first bowl and incorporate all the flours, baking powder and soda, plus the salt. Set aside. The second bowl, you mix the melted butter, butterscotch chips and the brown sugar. You have the option to melt everything together over a stove top or you can easily microwave the ingredients by using 20 second intervals and mixing in between. The chips may not completely melt (1/4 left intact) and that is perfectly fine. Wait for the wet ingredients to cool off a bit before incorporating the egg. Set aside. The third bowl is for the filling. You incorporate the softened cream cheese with the rest of the ingredients and make sure to whisk until smooth.

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  • Assembly-

Start the oven and I baked the bars at 350 degrees in convection mode. I sprayed a glass pan with nonstick spray and I used a rectangular dish that measures 11 x 7 inches and you can easily use a larger dish for less thicker bars.

You add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix until everything is well incorporated. 3/4 of the mixed bar batter goes on the bottom to create an even layer. I use a spatula to smooth it out and press it down a touch. Next comes the filling. You simply spread out the filling to create an even layer. The top layer is the 1/4 amount of the bar batter that remains. I crumble that on top because I do not want to smash or disrupt the middle cream cheese layer. By now the oven usually has reached temperature and in go the bars until baked. This takes between 28 to 35 minutes. Worried the top is over browning? Just add foil on top until the bars are fully baked and I use a toothpick to make sure the bar batter would not stick. You may get a smear of cream cheese but realize you don’t want to over bake the bars. Allow the bars to cool and then you can put them in the fridge. I gave them 4 hours to fully cool and you can even leave them in overnight. Drizzle time!! I cut the bars and find they cut flawlessly when cooled all the way. I tend to cut the bars in different sizes so guests can pick the size they desire. I then melt chocolate and I melted about 1/4 of a cup of Extra Dark Chocolate (Bittersweet). I like the more stronger notes against the sweeter ones the butterscotch tends to give. You can drizzle whatever you want from caramel, white chocolate or semi-sweet. Drizzling on cold cut bars allows the chocolate to harden quick too. I returned the bars to the fridge (uncovered) and within 20 minutes it was set. I then covered the bars in plastic and put them back in the fridge until serving.

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Options: You can add to the filling anything from nuts to dry cranberries, apricots, blueberries to fit any season/occasion. A fruit medley can even be added to give it that full autumn feel. Even though pumpkin everything is hitting the store shelves, we are set for a heat wave in Southern California. This was a pre-Fall treat that is not fully embracing the season because the weather has not gotten the memo! Let’s say I am easing into Autumn and hopefully the weather will too.

Enjoy!

Connect with Nature’s Eats at:

 

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Nature’s Eats and Tryazon. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.
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BetterBody Foods: PB Fit, Peanut Butter Powder and PB Chocolate Powder #Review Panettone Pound Cake #Tryazon

I have looked at powdered peanut butter but never actually purchased it. I sort of walked around it and wondered how it was when it reconstituted, how it baked when used in recipes, to even how it was when sprinkled over my morning breakfasts.  I even imagined mixing the powder with peanut butter, creating a grilled PB Nutty &J sandwich that would make everyone stand in lines to get their fix.  The BetterBody Foods PB fit is a brand that I saw was preferred mostly and touted as being the “must try” when it came to venturing into Peanut Butter powders.

Powdered Peanut Butter is not just one of those products that is made just so you can see if you can be done! It has it’s applications because I myself sometimes wish I could up the “peanut flavor” without having to add more nuts or even the butter itself. Formulations have doomed me when I cooked recipes or was experimenting and added too much peanut butter that created an unpleasant texture. From too much oil to even producing bake goods that baked up more like a crunchy paste than a bread or a cookie dough. Thankfully, our dog saves us when my PB creations have failed.

The BetterBody Foods PB fit is also a different product all together than what comes out of a jar and no butter knife required. You can easily add flavor and not sacrifice texture. You also have health benefits that come in to play that I had overlooked. The BetterBody Foods company powder offers:

  • A Gluten Free Peanut Butter Powder
  • Lower in Fats, which depending on the variety you buy that can be from 75% to 85% lower
  • 1/3 less calories per serving compared to standard peanut butter
  • Good source of protein and also fiber
  • The Peanut Butter powder is also natural with no artificial ingredients, dyes, or preservatives.
  • Simply Peanuts, Salt and Sugar made from non-GMO ingredients

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Okay, this Peanut Butter is a different nut all together in my book. It’s a cleaner and a more intense tasting peanut, so I opted to make a recipe and using the PB Fit powder because of the lower fat content but not lowered peanut tasting! With the holidays approaching, almond cakes and pound cakes are some of my favorite baked goods. They just go with anything from the seasonal fruits and berries, to just plain with a dollop of whipped cream or a warm sauce. I figured since I was being adventurous, why not make an Panettone Pound Cake and use a combination of products that are nut based.

Let’s Begin….

  • 7 ounces of Almond Paste (grated)
  • 2 sticks of Unsalted Butter (softened)
  • 3/4 cups of White Sugar
  • 4 Eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 drop of Lemon
  • 2 drops of Almond Extract
  • 1 tablespoon of Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 4 tablespoons of PB Fit Powder (you can use plain or even the chocolate variety.  You can also divide the batch to make a marble cake by using both varieties)
  • 1 cup of Cake Flour
  • 1 cup of All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup of Hazelnut Flour (ground hazelnuts)
  • Zest of one Orange (any variety you desire)
  • 1/2 cup of Milk (room temperature)
  • Optional 1/2 a cup to a cup of nuts like Pistachios to even mini chocolate chips.  You can even add candied fruits, dry fruits (imagine figs) and crystallized ginger in lower amounts.  You can also add slivered almonds on top when 1/4 baked through, and then make sure to cover (with foil) to avoid burning when they have toasted.

Set oven to warm at 325 degrees

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I start by grating 7 ounces of Almond Paste and added it to the butter and white sugar. Blend until creamy.  Add eggs to the butter mixture and blend again until smooth and combined.

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In a separate bowl, add zest of the orange to your dry ingredients (flours, Salt, PB Fit Powder, and Baking Soda) whisk, and set aside.

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Add extracts.  You then grab your dry ingredients bowl and in shifts add some of the dry ingredients and then some of the milk until all ingredients are combined.  Do not over mix, as this produces a dry cake.  You can then fold in the optional ingredients if desired.

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I use a large pound cake pan, but you can even use a cake pan and make two layers with the cake batter.  No rules here because I can imagine making a custard/pudding that would be divine with this cake.  You bake the cake for 60 minutes and if it starts to brown too much on top, cover with foil.  At the 1 hour mark, raise the temperature to 350 degrees and bake until done.  Cool for 5 minutes and then flip the cake on to a wire rack to cool an additional 1 to 2 hours before slicing.

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This cake is like a Panettone in flavor but with a heavier texture to resemble a pound cake, which has a crumb that can withstand more than the airiness you get from a Panettone batter.  You bake it slow to allow the flavors to build, the butter to brown, and to yield a moist pound cake.  Enjoy!

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Verdict:

So, it’s a product with the name PB fit and I made cake (I know)!  Well, I’m a girl that thinks even fit focused products can create magic with what is seen as naughty.  They talk about clean eating, well I think that applies to baking too.  Alienating a product because it carries the word “fit” would just be silly and the BetterBody food company is about making products better for the consumer, and I always say when you use top quality ingredients, you can never go wrong and this cake proves it!  It’s a little of naughty and nice to go with the holiday season.  The holidays are about experiencing flavors from pumpkin to dark chocolates, and peanut butter is no longer seen as just the “poor man’s nut”.  Many companies make exceptional peanut butters that are even considered gourmet creations.  BetterBody Foods, allows the consumer to take a known product that is just not like any peanut butter I ever tasted.  There is that cleaner taste that is more intense and closer to the nut’s true flavor because of the simple process they use that equates to just less processing in the first place!  I can make the powder into a butter by adding water, so don’t think your sandwiches are in jeopardy.  I can’t wait to make a peanut butter cookie because this is the product I have been waiting for!  On Halloween, I added the PB Fit Chocolate powder to crispy rice (cereal) treats and they were different and gone before the evening was over.  It was one of those moments where I was about to add peanut butter and thought I already add mini chocolate chips to the top of the treats when they are cooling, so why not add the powder to the marshmallow and butter mix.  It took just 4 tablespoons to create a flavor that made my treats vanish, and any cook and baker loves that!

Connect with BetterBody Foods and get your PB Fit fix at:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from PB Fit and Tryazon.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Dick Taylor Craft Handmade Chocolate and French Silk Pie Review and Recipe #DickTaylorChocolate

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Every once in a while, you run into a product that is a game changer. Someone who ups the bar so high that you don’t know who or if it can ever be topped. I really try to reserve some labels for a truly superlative product. Dick Taylor’s Craft Chocolate hits every metric for me to call it “The Very Best”. Nothing I’ve ever had before can even come close. It’s in a league all it’s own. I’ll go over why below, and even add a recipe that, should you have the willpower to not devour the chocolate immediately, will be dynamite.

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Chocolate in the United States has been done a great disservice. What was once an American icon, Hershey’s, can be held partly accountable for the woeful state of chocolate confections in this country. Because if you’ve only had Hershey’s, you’ve not had chocolate. Craftsmen like Dustin Taylor and Adam Dick are looking to right a terrible wrong with their small-batch craft Dick Taylor chocolates. With a hands-on approach that takes up to a month or more, it starts with selecting only the finest fair-trade raw cacao, all the way up to the pouring of this molten magic into it’s molds. You’ve not lived until you’ve treated yourself to a piece of Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate. The vintage machinery used belie the dedication and skill inherent to this labor of love, because one would think to make the best chocolate, you’d need the latest and greatest in automation and innovation. The craftspeople at Dick Taylor chocolates scoff at the notion, and impart a love and devotion to being the best that I could only strive for. Heart will take you far, it seems.

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The list of ingredients for the 72% Madagascar, Sambirano is so simple it’s almost as if they left out a step on purpose to keep anyone else from finding the secret to a truly superior chocolate. Ready?

Organic cacao and organic cane sugar.

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That’s it. No emulsifiers, no fillers, no chemicals, no artificial gunk, no waxes. The flavor envelopes your mouth immediately, with no harsh bitterness, no oily or overly creamy mouth feel, no grit. Impossibly smooth from first bite to final swallow, you almost never want the experience to end. There’s nothing else like it. It was almost transcendent. Our bars of Green & Blacks now sit in the pantry, lonely and wanting. The Guittard Dark baking chips that were my baking cabinet queens have been kicked to the curb. I’m fully and completely in love with Dick Taylor’s Craft lovelies. I mean, they even look exquisite. We were so fortunate that the weather was in our favor when the box arrived, as I’ve have been inconsolable to have had this chocolate adulterated by the heat. There’s 5 different types of “dark” chocolate with cacao percentages from 72% up to 76%, as well as 4 specialty flavors (Fleur de Sel?! You had me at “chocolate”, you devil!), drinking chocolate, and even a Father’s Day Gift Collection! Should I gift one to hubby despite not being a father? Hmm… At any rate, there’s truly something for everybody there!

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Located to our north in Eureka, CA, we have a standing invitation to tour their facility should we ever find ourselves in the neighborhood. I don’t know if I’d trust my self (or hubby) to not grab everything we could carry and run cackling like madmen out the doors at first opportunity, probably to the tune of “I’ve got a golden ticket”. There’s thankfully an authorized retailer just a short ways away, but I’m not sure if my diet thinks this is a good thing. We finished the first bar in 5 minutes after the first nibbles, and we just don’t do that in this house. Chances are, there’s someone to sell you a bar locally. And if not, they do sell direct from the website, shipped to your door.

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Not since the mythical Willy Wonka has there been something so magical available to eat. Nothing you’ve had comes close. Be forewarned, after you’ve had Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate, nothing will ever come close again. You’ll be spoiled for all time, chasing a chocolate dragon until your end of days. Do it anyways. It’s sooooo worth it.

Connect with Dick Taylor Craft Chocolates at:

 

 

Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate French Silk Pie:

With Summer here and the weather finally warming up for us, I wanted to bring back a classic but a goodie.  A good pudding always allows you taste the honest chocolate notes.  With Dick Taylor’s Madagascar, Sambirano 72%, I found it to be like the perfect espresso without the bitterness.  A good chocolate will not add oils or large amount of sugars, so neither shall I.  My Husband has always loved this pie but disliked what time has done to it.  It went from a way to showcase a fine chocolate bar and having a cold pie on a hot day, which hits you perfectly like a car ride (of course top down) with a chocolate shake in hand.  We now get ready-made puddings out of a box and the custard pudding below is good and rich enough to eat by the spoonful!  Say goodbye to eating desserts out of the box and treat you and yours with real pudding made like other, with Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate.  If I could only find a way to transfer the design of their bars onto this pie…….life would be perfect.  I swear they should sell stamps of their bar’s imprint and of course paired with chocolate scented ink 🙂 Enjoy!

Lets Begin……

Filling (Custard Pudding)-

  • 1/3 cup of Sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of Whole Milk (at room temperature)
  • 1/8 cup of Corn Starch
  • 1/8 teaspoon of Kosher Salt
  • 2 Egg Yolks (at room temperature)
  • 5 1/4 ounces of Dick Taylor’s Dark Chocolate of your choice
  • 1/8 cup of Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 of teaspoon of Cocoa Powder (reserved as you sprinkle it on the crust before adding the filling)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of Vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of Butter (salted and used KerryGold)
  • 1 Pre-baked Pie Crust (search my recipes if you need one or you can use whatever recipe you desire)

You Start by pre-baking a pie crust.  The crust has to be fully cooked and cooled before you begin making the pudding for the pie.  Below is my crust, and I use a butter and shortening recipe.  I won’t judge if you even get a ready made pie crust, just as long as you make the pudding and you can just skip the crust and serve the pudding in cups with a graham cracker to dunk with!

Now, comes puddin’ time!  You first start by combining the dry ingredients.  This is the corn starch, sugar and salt.  I combine them in a bowl, whisk and then they go into the pot you wish to make your pudding in.  I use a non-stick for that added no stick insurance they have.  Next, combine the milk and the 2 egg yolks.  I use the same measuring cup I use for the milk and just whisk and set aside.  You then measure out your chocolate (break up bars **sniffle**), and you need 5 1/4 ounces.  If you go over, it produces a thicker product but trust me this is pudding that is as thick as it is and rich.  Add the 1/8 cup of Cocoa Powder to the same bowl you have your chocolate in.  If you opted to make this a pie, add the 1/2 teaspoon and dust the bottom of your pie crust with it.

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Now comes the cooking process.  Combine the milk and egg mixture to the sugar, salt and corn starch mix.  Combine with a whisk and turn the stove’s burner on low.  Keep mixing, whisking (get those edges too!) and continue whisking.  You can set the burner to a low-medium setting if you are a heavy whisker at this point and the mixture will begin to show small air bubbles around the 3 minute mark.  You will feel some heat on you knuckles from the steam but keep at it.  After all, we’re burning calories here!  As you whisk, you will feel at the 5 minute mark (if not sooner), the mixture getting thicker and thicker and when it truly bubbles, just before it boils, off the heat it comes.  Turn off the burner and add the chocolate to your custard, along with the Vanilla.  You got pudding!

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Then add the tablespoon of butter.  Now, you have a glistening and rich pudding.  Heaven!

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Now, pour the pudding into the pie shell or if making pudding cups, you can pour into a container to cool (uncovered).  Once cooled, you can then add a cover to not have a choco-smelling fridge, but then that’s not a bad thing either.

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You allow the pie (or pudding bowl) to cool on the counter for an hour and then into the fridge it goes (uncovered).  I let it cool about 3 hours to avoid that condensation you can get if you covered it.  After the 3 hour mark, I then cover the pie (or pudding bowl).  I allow the pie to cool over night and yes, it tortures my loved ones.  I figure they can salivate while it’s cooling and you really get the pie to settle and this is why that 1/2 teaspoon of Cocoa is added.  Any wetness gets absorbed and there is no sliding around from the filling when cut.  Now, topping time!

I have made several topping from whipped cream with mascarpone cheese to salted caramel.  This time I made edible fun-fetti.  It’s a sugar cookie batter but why use white sugar when you can add color!

Fun-Fetti/Confetti Cookie Crumb Topping:

  • 4 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter (cold)
  • 3/4 cup of All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon of Multi-Colored Sugar Crystals
  • A Dash of salt
  • A Sprinkling of Multi-Colored Sugar Crystals

Set Oven at 375 degrees and begin incorporating (cutting with fork or I use my hands) the butter and flour.  It’s cold and you want to create crumb with about pea sized crumbles.  Add a dash of salt (if wanted) and the 1 tablespoon of the sugar crystals.  Mix until incorporated and in it goes into the preheated oven for about 10 minutes.  When the 7 minute mark comes, add a sprinkle of the sugar if you want extra shimmer.  Then back it goes for the last 3 minutes of cooking.  You want the crumble set but not browned because it takes away from the appearance.

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Take out cooled Pie.

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Add whipped topping and Fun-fetti/Confetti topping and done………..well, you can do more and this is why I never decorate the entire pie!  You can also add red, white and blue sugar crystals for a 4th of July theme to the confetti crumble.

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You can opt for a Fleur de Sel Caramel topping with crushed Pistachios…….

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Or, you want it all!

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And, if you’re feeling nifty and want Fleur de Sel Topping with Maldon Salt Crystals (of course, Hubby fought me on not leaving the Fun-fetti out)……the possibilities are endless!

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Enjoy!

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

 

Ardenne Farm: Giveaway for Chocolate Cookie Gluten Free Baking Mix

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***GIVEAWAY ALERT***

Ardenne Farm’s is offering one of my wonderful readers one free Chocolate Cookie baking mix, just like the one I received. To enter, all you need to do is:

  • Follow the company on Facebook
  • Via Twitter and
  • And, leave me a comment on this posting (the review for the product).
    Almost as simple as baking these cookies!

I will announce the winner in March 7th, so you have a little over a week to enter. Good luck!  Ardenne Farm’s will be sending out the product to the winner.

Final Product as baked at home

Final Product as baked at home

I used a simple Vanilla Bean and then press and enjoy!

I used a simple Vanilla Bean and then press and enjoy!

Ardenne Farm: All Natural Chocolate Cookie Baking Mix Review #ArdenneFarm

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Even though I love to cook and bake, there are days I want to break down and just be able to drop contents in a bowl, stir, bake and eat! My biggest guilt comes from when I grab a box and start reading or glance at the list of ingredients. The stuff has so many chemicals that they might as well include a mad scientist inside to make the stuff for me. Most of my boxed mixes expire and when I throw them out, I make a mental note to never buy________ again. I think it’s my way of telling myself I know better.

My family and I are thankfully not gluten intolerant but I am always open in trying a product that is gluten free to add a change to our routine diet. I must admit that most gluten free products I have tried, well they are like imitators but of the worse kind. Think about an Elvis impersonator and then look at the real Elvis (in his good days) and maybe the outfit looks sort of the same but definitely not the wearer. When I saw Ardenne Farm was kindly offering an all natural baking mix and it said the magic word “chocolate”, I figured I would give it a try.

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The Chocolate Cookie Mix is Vegan friendly and like I mentioned Gluten Free, but the list is short when it comes to ingredients. I know what everything listed is and that is not something I see at the common market when it comes to baking aisle.

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Ingredient List: Cane Sugar, Gluten Free Flour Blend (White Rice Flour, Brown Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Tapioca Flour), Brown Sugar, Cocoa, Baking Soda, Non GMO Aluminum Free Baking Powder (Baking Soda, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Corn Starch, Monocalcium Phosphate), Salt, Xanthan Gum, Natural Vanilla.

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The directions are also simple and it’s not like some mixes where I need to bring so much to the cookie party that I end up realizing, I just bought a box of flour with a pretty picture on the front that is only possible if I add $5 more of ingredients to make it happen. You just need one stick of unsalted butter and three tablespoons of water. That is it and everything else is included.

Ardenne Farms’ has simple instructions to follow and the only factor that differs from my everyday made from scratch mixes, is the 5 minute setting time after you take the baked product out of the oven. I usually only do 1 to 2 minutes, but this is a rich chocolate product that needs to set and I’m thinking because it’s lacking the gluten glue 🙂 Other than that, no eggs to crack and you just open one bag, mix and bake.

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Appearance:

The box yields 20 cookies and I am use to cookies being so small that when mixes state this, I know I will be lucky to get 10 cookies, but you see the cookie spreads out more than other cookies, so do stick to a tablespoon per cookie drop, versus the 2 tablespoon-ish I did. I am making ice cream sandwiches, so I needed a larger size. I now call it ice cream sandwiches for two, so even my oopsie has a fix!

Retail Price Point: $4.79 on-line via Ardenne Farm’s website for a 16 ounce box

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Taste Test:

My Husband has been negative about gluten free baked products because they are all impostors (he says). He told me it’s like craving a pizza but you eat a bagel bite and of course still crave pizza. It never fills the craving, so he of course was not too positive about me even baking this. He kept saying, “just make real cookies”. I ignored him and went on baking. I did notice the mix has no chips of chocolate but when I opened the bag, you quickly are taken over by a sweet and cocoa rich cloud. I say a cloud because I was hunting for chocolate chips and forgot you let things settle before cutting open. The smell is very pleasant. I mixed as directed, baked, and waited 5 minutes for the cookie to set. I tasted it and thinking is this just something we will be throwing out and I was truly surprised at how good the cookie tasted. It’s a simple chocolate cookie but the dark rich chocolate flavor is there and so is the softness. You can see it’s flat but it has that desired slight crisp texture on the outside, but it’s very gooey on the inside. I gave him half and he groaned and took a bite. He stated it’s not bad and took a second bite of the cookie (the thing has maybe 1/4 bite left) and then said, “for gluten free stuff….this is not bad but I call it more like pizzelles are cookies but this is softer”. In this house, it’s a win because he would just stop eating it and walk away from the treat. He finished the 1/4 bite and walked off while I finished the ice cream cookie sandwiches. I loved the taste and it’s sweeter than I make my own dark chocolate cookies, but it really is one of the better gluten free products out there. I would pick-up this product and especially for making ice cream sandwiches and not caring if it had gluten or not. The batter lends itself beautifully for this application and I don’t feel bad baking from an Ardenne Farm box, because the ingredients are “family friendly” and I know the cookies will be eaten. 🙂

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***GIVEAWAY ALERT***

Ardenne Farm is offering one of my wonderful readers a free Chocolate Cookie mix, just like the one I received above.  I will be posting the giveaway within a few hours and all you need to enter is follow the company on Facebook, Twitter and leave me a comment on this posting.  Almost as simple as baking these cookies! 

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Connect with Ardenne Farm and they have cookies, cakes, and all the sweet stuff your heart desires at:

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Ardenne Farm.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

“MELT”ed Chocolate? Yes, Please!

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I’ve been able to try every single kind of Rich & Creamy Melt Organic spread they make (feel free to take a gander at my review from a while back), and I have yet to find one I dislike, even a little bit. From the Original, the Honey, and now, the Chocolate. Oh, the chocolate. How do I love thee?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Let’s start with, it’s chocolate.                                   Not that fake, weirdly sweet, waxy, sugary, nasty pseudo-chocolate that everyone seems to like to 3480use. No, I’m talking the real deal. To quote their website, it’s a: “velvety blend of rich organic cocoa”. Boy, howdy is it. It also adds wildflower honey to the mix, along with the Melt Organic to make a truly good and good for you spread. With just 1 gram of sugar per serving and being dairy free, vanillin free, and nut free,everyone can enjoy it. Each square of Chocolate MELT Organic is certified organic, non-GMO (Non-GMO Project Verified), kosher and made with Fair Trade Fair for Life certified virgin coconut oil and Rainforest Alliance certified palm fruit oil. Chocolate Melt is also soy free, gluten free, dairy free and trans fat free. Each serving of Chocolate Melt is a rich source of the ‘good fats‘ with an ideal balance of Omega-6 to Omega-3 ALA (that are optimally metabolized with virgin coconut oil), and has 425 mg of Omega-3 ALA (or 26% RDA) and Vitamin E (or 15% RDA). Now that’s a mouthful, and a darn good one, too.

The best part is, since it’s good food that’s good for you, you can truly enjoy it any time, breakfast to dessert. Want to enjoy it on some toast? Aces. Want it with some fruit? Pile it high and deep. Want to bake with it? You had to know I was going to go there, and oh…I went there. But that’s for another post. 😉 Icings, filling, just drizzled on a slice of warm panetone bread. It’s something I can’t recommend enough that you try immediately. They even have coupons to print right from the website. It’s like it’s meant to be!! You really should dip a finger into their butter 2.0, it’s something you’ll wonder how you did without.

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Connect with Melt Organic!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I received the above product(s) free of charge from MELT Organic. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

The Spice Lab: Fourth of July Blueberry & Pomegranate Sugar Lab Cookies #Baking #Recipe

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I wanted a cookie that could be used in several applications. This cookie has a muffin texture when you add the baking soda, which is great for drop style cookies to even making Cake Pops or fritters with. Omit the Baking Soda and you will get a crisper cookie texture, that can be eaten as-is or enjoyed with ice cream. I have even enjoyed the muffin style version with ice cream because it plays well as a blueberry and pomegranate shortcake. 🙂

Let’s Begin….

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Unsalted Butter (4 tablespoons)
  • 4 ounces of Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 cup of dried unsweetened Blueberries
  • 1/4 of warm water to soak blueberries in. Juice (i.e. Blueberry, Pomegranate or even a Tart Cherry) may also be used if not too sweet.
  • 1 tablespoon of Maple Syrup
  • 1 tablespoon of Sour Cream
  • 50 grams of Powdered Sugar
  • 50 grams of Rice Flour
  • 50 grams of All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 drops of Lemon Extract
  • 1 teaspoon of Baking Soda (use for a muffin/shortbread texture)
  • Pomegranate Sugar from the Spice Lab/Sugar Lab

 

Soak the blueberries in the 1/4 cup of warm water and add 1 tablespoon of Maple Syrup to the soak.

You then start by creaming the butter, cream cheese, sour cream, powdered sugar and the soaked berries with water and all. You want a nice smooth texture.

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You want to break the berries apart a bit so they release their flavor and color through out the dough.

Then add the flours and the lemon extract. Add the Baking soda if you desire a more cake like product.

1 to 2 hours for a stiff dough you can work with.

1 to 2 hours for a stiff dough you can work with.

 

Take dough out and allow for it to cool and stiffen up in the fridge. I always locate mine at the back of the fridge and it takes between 1 to 2 hours. You can also make it the evening before and allow it to cool overnight.

Once the dough has cooled and absorbed all the dry ingredients well, we have options!  

Start by heating your oven to 350 degrees.  My cookies depending on size took 12 to 15 minutes to bake.  They will feel soft and moist, but don’t be fooled because they will stiffen up nicely (careful over baking) after just 1 minute of resting on the pan.  Then remove and allow to cool.

  • You can cut the cookie outs by using shapes

I used stars of different shapes and sizes to go with a 4th of July look.

 

  • Drop Cookies

You can make drop cookies by making balls, rolling in sugar and just placing them on parchment paper and a baking sheet.  I stud each cookie with a defrosted blueberry for that little extra touch!

  • Cake Pops using a fried method for a crispy outside……sort of like a fritter!

You can make cake pops by frying the dough in Peanut oil.  I used a toothpick and then made a ball.  I put the dough in the freezer to set for 15 minutes and then took the pops out.  Gave them a final shaping and in they went into the oil.  Takes less than a minute at the size I created to cook and fry up.  Roll in the Pom sugar and you are set!

 

  • Last but not least, you can make Vintage Flags 

The options are endless and the flavor from the Pomegranate Sugar by the Sugar Lab is wonderful.  Not super sugar and you taste the fruit versus just sugar crystals.  They gave my baked goods a beautiful look but also taste wonderful.  Get creative this 4th of July! Enjoy!

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Get your Sugar and Spices Fix at:

  • The Spice Lab on-line– http://shop.thespicelab.com/index.php/peppers-spices/sugars/gourmet-sugar.html
  • Facebook– https://www.facebook.com/TheSpiceLabInc
  • Twitter– https://twitter.com/TheSpiceLab

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I received the above product free of charge from The Spice Lab.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

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Garlic Gold: Tri-Color Quinoa Grain Vegetable Medley Salad that can be Baked too #MeatlessMonday #recipe

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This recipe is a 2-in-1, where you can make a salad or go for a a little protein kick by adding an egg and baking. Bakes in less than 15 minutes!  A Great Spring dish and perfect for our latest California’s weather where it is hot in the day but cold at night.

Let’s begin….

1/4 cup of Tri-Color Quinoa (measure dry and pre-cook with water, with a little salt and pepper)
1/2 cup of Kale (roughly chopped)
1/3 of a cup of Broccoli
1/8 of a cup of Green Bell Pepper
1/2 a Zucchini
1 Slice of Red Onion
1 Slice of White Onion
1 tablespoon of Garlic Gold Red Wine Vinaigrette
1 teaspoon of Olive Oil (reserved for cooking phase)

Garlic Gold Nuggets to taste and you can also add a Goat Cheese crumble

Optional (if Baking)-
1 egg
Fat of your choice (butter, olive oil, coconut oil, ect.) to oil the dish
Honey Goat Cheese crumbled on top
Garlic Gold Nuggets and an Arugula toss (raw arugula with a drizzle of the Garlic Gold Red Wine Vinaigrette)

I start by cooking the Quinoa and it takes about 10 minutes. If any water is left, drain and just set aside in a bowl.

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I then start chopping all the vegetables and this is roughly done because I am aiming for bite size.

Heat up a skillet and add the 1 teaspoon of Olive Oil or any fat of your choice (or even none). Start sauteing the onions and bell pepper until you get a nice golden color but keep in mind you want crunch left.

I add the saute onions and bell peppers to the bowl with the Quinoa. Using the same pan, I saute the zucchini for a little over 1 minute because again I aiming for a par-cooked texture and I want the vegetable to get color but preserve some firmness.

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The zucchini gets added to the bowl. I then add the broccoli and kale and again saute for under a minute.

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The cooking intensifies the flavors and takes the bore out of eating your vegetables 🙂 Once everything is in the bowl, I add the Garlic Gold Red Wine Vinaigrette.

The Garlic Gold adds flavor and this is why we used little to no seasonings beforehand. Toss and then you can enjoy as-is, add the goat cheese and/or move on to baking.

If Baking-
Preheat oven to 400 degrees

I used an oven-safe au gratin dish that fits the above contents nicely and allows the egg to have room. It’s approximately 2-cups in size. I used a Coconut Oil and a Butter blend to oil my dish and prevent the egg from sticking.

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I then add the vegetables and Quinoa mix, make sure everything is evenly spread and leveled.

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I cracked 1 egg an it’s up to you if you wish to add a little milk when whisking. Once the egg is whisked, I then simply pour it over the vegetables and add the crumbled goat cheese.

I bake the dish for 15 minutes, with the first half covered (tented with foil so it does not come in contact with the cheese) and the other half uncovered. The vegetables remain with a nice crunch and full of flavor.

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I opted to top my bake with an Arugula toss (arugula and a little dash of the Garlic Gold vinaigrette) and a dash of the Garlic Gold Nuggets. This adds flavor and you get a nice warm and cold contrast.

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This dish can be made ahead and just add the egg and bake when you are ready. You can have the salad on top of romaine lettuce with a toasted pita on the side, but it’s filling, low in calories and fat but most importantly……Garlic Gold delicious! Enjoy!’

 

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You can also make this easy dish by getting your own Garlic Gold Products at:

On-line– http://garlicgold.com/

Visit Garlic Gold on Facebook– https://www.facebook.com/GarlicGold

Twitter– https://twitter.com/garlicgold

See the pretty Garlic Gold products and the other dishes you can create on Pinterest– http://www.pinterest.com/garlicgold/

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I received the above product free of charge from Garlic Gold.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

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The Sugar Lab: Key West Lime Strawberry Shortcakes, a all-in-one bowl #recipe

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I made an awesome Apple Cheesecake fusion pie on Sunday and then realized that it needed to cool, and then be placed in the fridge.  I was minus having any sweet tooth treats for after dinner! I needed something new to make but also not time consuming…..it’s Key Limes to the rescue!

Let’s Begin…..

  • 1 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup of Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon of Salt
  • Zest from 2 Key Limes
  • 3 tablespoons of Unsalted Butter (cold)
  • 1/2 cup of Buttermilk (you can just use milk too or an Almond/Coconut milk will do too)
  • 1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 2 teaspoons of Key Lime Juice
  • 1 tablespoon of Key West Lime Sugar from The Sugar Lab
  • 1 Key Lime thinly sliced (you will need about 5 very thin slices)

Makes about 5 shortcakes in 10 to 15 minutes time!

Set the oven to 400 degrees

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This one is super easy and can be made all in one bowl. You take all your dry ingredients, including the zest and combine them in the bowl.

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Then take the butter and I used a Pastry Cutter to combine the butter with the dry ingredients.  You are aiming for pea sized pieces when it comes to the cold butter.

Combine the Buttermilk, Vanilla Extract and Key Lime juice and then pour it into the bowl.  Using a spatula, just fold all the ingredients together but do not over stir.

 

Once everything is combined, I use an ice cream scooper and just scoop and evenly place the batter on parchment paper.

I then top each shortcake with a thin slice of Key Lime and shake the Key West Lime sugar on top, but also making sure the Key Lime slice gets a hefty amount, so it can get a candy effect 🙂

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Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, you will see the shortcakes brown a little.  Allow the shortcakes to cool about 15 to 20 minutes and then slice in half.

 

I served mine with fresh Strawberries and freshly whipped cream.  Enjoy!

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Get your Sugar and Spices Fix at:

  • The Spice Lab on-line– http://shop.thespicelab.com/index.php/peppers-spices/sugars/gourmet-sugar.html
  • Facebook– https://www.facebook.com/TheSpiceLabInc
  • Twitter– https://twitter.com/TheSpiceLab

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I received the above product free of charge from The Spice Lab.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

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Bob’s Red Mill: Crake! a Fusion Dessert made of a Cinnamon Roll and caKE all-in-one

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With all the fusion of desserts going on today, I thought I would enter into that playground and have a go at it.  I present to you what I call a Crake!  It’s actually pastry dough that I made using a blend of flours and a cake that engulfs each roll.  Being that Valentine’s Day is around the corner, we all need a hug and this moist buttermilk-based cake does just that to each roll.  So let’s get started creating and let me add, this has a sticky bun topping so I made sure to splurge!

We start by getting our starter going:

Starter-
3 ounces of Warm Water (105 to 110 degrees)
1 teaspoon of White Sugar
1/2 tablespoon of Yeast
1 ounce of Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Flour

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I have a proofing option with my oven that I set at 110 degrees.  No need to have one, so you can also place the starter to bloom in a dark warm corner in your kitchen.  I gently mix everything in a small bowl, but one with enough room for the rise. Then cover with plastic and give it about 15 minutes.

While that starter get’s….well started, I begin with the Sweet Dough Mix for the Rolls:

Dough-
3 ounces of Yogurt (or you can use 3 ounces of cream cheese, plus 1 tablespoon of milk)
2 ounces of Unsalted Butter (softened)
1 egg at room temperature
1 3/4 ounces of White Sugar
1 teaspoon of Salt
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
6 1/2 ounces of Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Flour
4 Ounces Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour

Between a 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of All Purpose Flour (separate from above measurements) will be needed while the dough kneads.

I cream the sugar and butter together with a mixer (stand or hand will do, use your whisk attachment).  I then add the Yogurt but in this case I went with the 3 ounces of cream cheese (with 1 tablespoon of milk).  Add the egg and vanilla.  I then add the starter and incorporate everything, being careful not to over mix.   In another bowl, I mix the salt and both flours with a whisk.  I add the mix to the wet ingredients, still with the whisk attachment on.  Things will look a little shaggy at this point; that’s okay. I then change over to the dough hook.  I find using a little butter on my dough hook makes it easier in preventing the dough from sticking to it.  I begin to knead and add All Purpose Flour as needed.  Sometimes I need a 1/4 cup and other times I need up to a 1/2 a cup, it all depends on the elasticity it builds.  I knead for about 10 minutes using the mixer.

After the dough is a nice texture, I place it in a buttered bowl and cover it with plastic. In it goes to the proofer for a hour to an hour and 20 minutes. You want the dough to grow almost double in size.

I then begin on the “sticky bun” topping that I call “The Glaze”:

Glaze-
4 tablespoons of Butter (salted)
3 tablespoons of Maple Syrup
1/2 a cup of Brown Sugar

I melt the above items down and I find my little “gravy” pan works great as it has a notch for pouring.  Stir frequently and don’t hurry it up by turning up the heat.  Use low heat until things melt and just begin to bubble.  You want no sugar crystals (grains), just a smooth glaze.

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While the glaze melts, I get 1/2 a cup of pecans and throw them on some parchment paper to toast.  This intensifies the flavor profile and also adds a nice texture to the glaze.  The glaze will actually almost create a butter nut toffee texture over the pecans, so it is really delicious and beautiful looking at the same time.  I use my toaster oven because my dough is proofing in my oven.  Just place them at 350 degrees and then watch them so they do not burn.  It may take 5 minutes or 10 to be done, so the time is never exact but keep an eye on them until the color changes (darkens slightly).

Nuts-
1/2 cup of toasted Pecans (or any nut of your choice)

I then get a glass pan that I will use to bake this entire concoction in.  I use a “lasagna” pan that is the size of 9 x 13 inches (3 quart).  This allows enough room for the rolls to rise and for the cake batter to fit.  I use cooking spray on the glass and then place parchment.  The spray allows my parchment paper to stick and stay put better so I don’t have to fuss with it.  I also find that it’s easier to first cut and shape the paper to your liking BEFORE spraying so you don’t then end up with baking spray on your hands too.  Yes, it has happened where I forget and then end up with slippery hands!

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Pour the glaze onto the paper and make sure to help it spread evenly.  Once it spreads out, add the Pecans.

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I get started in making the filling for the Rolls:
Roll Filling-
You can use the standard cinnamon roll filling of 1/2 tablespoons of melted Butter, 1 cup of Brown Sugar, 1/2 to 3/4 tablespoon of ground Cinnamon, with a dash of Nutmeg.
Roll Filling Variations-
With Strawberries being in season and I am going for a Valentine’s Day dessert, I picked Strawberries.  You can go with any berry you wish like Blackberries or even a mix.  I used 6 ounces of fresh Strawberries that I sliced up and because they were already sweet, I used less than a teaspoon of White Sugar and just tossed them.  Take note the glaze is sweet and you don’t want an overly sweet filing too but do sugar the fruit by taste.
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By now the dough has “poofed” to my liking and close enough to being double the size so I get it out of the proofer and just flip it on to a floured surface.  Have a 1/2 cup of flour ready if needed when it comes to rolling the dough out.  I roll the dough out to about 14 inches (length wise).  I then spread the filling and in this case the fruit, and then I begin to roll like I would any cinnamon roll.
You want 8 rolls in total and this is my method:
Cut the ends off and then cut the roll in half.
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You now have 2 small rolls and you will cut each on in half again.
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You now have 4 pieces and you then simply cut each piece in half and you end up with 8 (close enough) equally sized rolls.
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Place the rolls in the pan that has the glaze and in it goes back in the oven to proof for about 30 to 45 minutes.  You want expansion but not so much that you won’t have room for cake batter.
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While the rolls proof, off we go to make the cake batter.  Start making the batter when you are about 10 minutes away from the rolls finish proofing:
Buttermilk Cake Batter-
3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup of Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 cup of White Sugar
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
1/3 cup of Unsalted Butter
1 Egg (room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon of Maple Syrup
1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon
3/4 cup of Buttermilk
Cream the sugar and butter together.  While that incorporates nicely, get the 3/4 cup of buttermilk and add the egg, vanilla, maple syrup to it until well blended.  Then in a separate bowl blend the dry ingredients, the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Once the butter and sugar are nice and creamy, add 1/2 of the “wet” buttermilk mixture and 1/2 of the “dry” flour mixture to the mixing bowl.  Make sure to not over mix as this results in a tough textured cake.  Scrape the sides and bottom, then add the rest of the wet and dry ingredients.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
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Take the rolls out of the proofer and then add the cake batter to the areas around each roll.  Make sure to not get cake batter on the top of the rolls since you do not want a soggy roll.  A couple of drips is okay but do not spread the cake batter on top of the rolls.  I used all my cake batter because the point here is for the cake to rise to the height of the rolls.  You do not want when you flip these over to collapse.
By now my bossy oven has beeped at me that it is ready for the Crake to go in.  I then bake it between 30 to 40 minutes.  If you see it start to over brown, just place foil on top and make sure to not over bake.  Take it out when the cake is set and a toothpick comes out clean.  Mine was ready at 37 minutes.
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I allow the pan to cool for 8 to 10 minutes and carefully place a dish that accommodates the size of the pan you used over the Crake.  I use a glass cutting board so that I just dirty one thing and I can just slice when needed.  Use oven mitts to keep a nice grip and also in case it’s too hot.  Flip and this is where you will thank the parchment paper….just carefully peel and I use a small spatula in case a pecan here or there tries to escape.
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Viola, you made a Crake!
I then heated up dinner and allowed the Crake to cool.  It won’t get soggy on the bottom as the glaze stays on top.  After dinner I cut into it and served it with a whipped topping made of Heavy Cream, Mascarpone Cheese, and Powdered Sugar.  You just whip until you get nice stiff peaks but don’t over-whip as you will make butter.  To let my guest know the pastry had a Strawberry filling, I added a cut Fresh Strawberry on top and also a whole one to a dollop of whipped cream I placed on the plate.  This allows anyone to get more topping in case I went light on it.  Enjoy!
You can do this any way you desire.  What I mean is this is a dessert that is really two-in-one.  Want to just make the glaze and the cake, you can.  Stop at the glaze and the rolls….go for it.  I write my recipes as I go on a note pad and the above was created on my first try, so if I can do it, so can you…..so make it any way you want 🙂
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I received some of the above products free of charge from Bob’s Red Mill, an employee-owned company.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.
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