Category Archives: Favorites

Roasted Banana Nut Bread with Browned Butter & Toffee Topping

I have come with a recipe that I think you’re going to really like! Unfortunately, it is not vegan–and unfortunately, I only have one picture…but what the heck, try it if you can! This one is my recipe, and it’s probably my favorite banana bread that I’ve ever had to this day. You can’t go wrong–there’s roasted bananas, browned butter, walnuts, and toffee bits all over the top. If I haven’t been so obsessed with vegan baking lately, I would be making this all the time. Discovering or creating a delicious vegan banana bread is the next thing on my to-bake list. Banana bread will always have a special place in my heart. I love it’s simplicity (this one really is more simple than it sounds too) and there’s nothing like taking a nicely browned banana bread loaf out of the oven and slicing it for the first time. It just makes the entire house smell cozy, if cozy was a smell. This banana bread is so moist and flavorful on the inside from the browned butter and roasted bananas, there’s really no point in ever making banana bread without roasting the bananas, regardless of whether it’s vegan or not–and if you’re going to use butter, there’s no point in not browning it. Makes a huge difference.

Roasted Banana Nut Bread with Browned Butter & Toffee Topping

Makes one 9×5 loaf

  • 4 medium bananas–3 roasted (see instructions below)
  • 4 tablespoons browned unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature and lightly beaten
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • Handful of toffee pieces (to sprinkle across the top)
  • 2-3 teaspoons granulated sugar (for sprinkling on top)

Instructions:

1. Place 3 whole medium bananas (in their skin) on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet and allow to roast in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. They will be very dark in color (mine were black because my bananas already had spots and were fully ripe). Take them out and allow to cool. I like to carefully peel some of the peels back and allow the heat to escape faster, but be careful doing this.

2. On medium heat, brown 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, swirling the pan several times for about 5 minutes until the butter has started to brown (the butter will look amber and you will see what looks like a red colored powder forming underneath the butter on the bottom of the pan). Take off of the heat and add the light brown sugar and salt (this will cool it down some).

3. Whisk together flour and baking soda in a medium bowl, and set aside.

4. With browned butter off the heat and cooling down, add the bananas and mash into mixture. It’s ok if there are lumps.

5. Add vanilla extract and the yogurt to the butter, sugar and bananas. Then add 2 lightly beaten room temperature eggs.

6. Add the wet mixture into the dry mixture, and mix to incorporate fully, but don’t mix past the point where it’s just combined.

7. Pour into a greased and floured 9×5 loaf pan, and cut up your fourth banana into very thin slices to spread on the sides of the top of the loaf. Doing this, you will want to slightly layer each banana on top of the other. This will make it look prettier once it’s done baking! Sprinkle a good handful of toffee bits on top, and then sprinkled the entire top with about a couple of teaspoons of granulated sugar.

8. Bake at 350 degrees on center rack for about 40-50 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean and top is browned.

9. Remove from oven and allow to cool in loaf pan for about 10-15 minutes before removing the loaf. If you try to remove it while it’s still very hot and just out of the oven, the bread might just fall apart. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.

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Filed under Bread, Breakfast, Favorites, Quick Bread

Our Favorite Coffee Crumb Cake

This coffee crumb cake is so good, it’s becoming a problem. Usually I get tired of eating the same thing every day. This has been (somehow) sitting around for almost three days now. One piece remains. I’ve been eating it for breakfast every day….and snack…and late night snack. Not only is that unusual for me, but the terrible thing is I could make another one right now and continue eating it every day. There are no eggs in this recipe. There is only 2 tablespoons of butter, and the only reason there’s butter is because I didn’t have any Earth Balance. I’ve been curious to try it, but A. I can’t find it in any store and Whole Foods is 30 minutes away, and B. I’m kind of broke. Since I didn’t want to use all butter (I would have, if I had Earth Balance, the way the recipe at VeganYumYum does), I tried making the crumb topping with only canola oil. The result was a not so good texture or flavor. Instead, I decided to use 2 tablespoons of butter to give it a nice flavor and texture, but the rest is canola oil. The crumbs are even better than before.

I’ve made Cook’s Illustrated’s New York Style Coffee Crumb Cake more times than I care to count, with the exception that I used sour cream like the recipe over at Smitten Kitchen. My boyfriend Manuel always said to me,”It can be better.” That obviously frustrated me, and after x amount of times of making it and tweaking the recipe slightly every time, I finally decided to look up a vegan crumb cake and found this recipe. You can imagine how much Manuel thought I was wasting my time making this. If you can’t please a man with a recipe with butter, is it possible to please him with a version without? Apparently, it is. This may be a rare case. The short prepping from him before I put it in the oven went the same as it always does when he doesn’t think something will come out good, but tries to be consoling about it. Me: “It’s going to taste good, don’t worry.” Manuel: “Alriight babe, good luck! Just don’t be upset if it doesn’t come out the way you want it to.” Me:*ticked off look on my face*. Thankfully, this one won him over. The original recipe wasn’t rocket science and it wasn’t even difficult to make–but after making this version, which is beyond super easy, I’m kind of like,”Whyy didn’t I know about this recipe before?!” Plus, it’s cheaper to make. It’s healthier. And….more delicious? (that wasn’t a question, just bewilderment)

Deep down, I knew that Cook’s Illustrated’s version wasn’t perfect. The cake was never anything super special on it’s own, and the crumbs were always a little bit too crunchy for me. So one thing I changed was the amount of flour in the crumb topping. It was way too much, even when I used cake flour it never produced the crumbs I wanted. I didn’t want mush on top, but I wanted something that had the big chunks of crumbs but then melted in my mouth with sugary-cinnamon-y-ness. I think I got that part down in this recipe, and I didn’t even use cake flour.

I am so happy that I found this wonderful recipe on VeganYumYum. I changed a few things here and there, but this is officially my go-to coffee crumb cake recipe. It’s not even what I consider,”A recipe for health conscious eaters”. It’s just yummy. The cake is moist, fluffy, and my favorite thing about this crumb cake is that is gets better every day. Manuel tried it, and immediately said,”This is the best one yet.” “I TOLD you” was my response, even though I too had my doubts. I was just happy to be right this time.

Me = a happy girl.

Our Favorite Coffee Crumb Cake (“Almost vegan”) – adapted from VeganYumYum

Serves 9 (8×8″ square pan)

Crumb Topping

  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter (you can use Earth Balance Margarine if you want)
  • 5 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Cake

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 Cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 Cup canola oil
  • 1/3 Cup coconut milk+ 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Powdered Sugar, for dusting

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Line an 8×8 square pan with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Or, if you don’t have aluminum foil, spray the insides of the pan well with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Mix the melted, warm unsalted butter (or Earth Balance Margarine), canola oil, dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add the flour and blend thoroughly to combine. Let sit for about 10 minutes, while making the cake batter.

3. Mix cornstarch with water in a small separate bowl until thoroughly mixed, let sit.

4. Mix coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla in another small separate bowl.

5. Whisk the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder until fully combined in a mixing bowl. Add the coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla mixture. Then add the cornstarch and water mixture. Mix everything together until fully combined and smooth, but don’t overmix past that point.

6. Pour batter into prepared greased pan. Break off large chunks of the crumb topping mixture (they don’t have to be exact same sized, just good sized pieces) and lightly sprinkle them evenly over the batter. (I like to take a big piece in my hand, and just rub it with my fingers and let the pieces break off over the top of the batter into random sized crumbs, instead of spending a lot of time rolling out pieces of crumbs).

7. Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes or until crumbs are lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean. Original recipe says up to 50 minutes, but mine was done within 35.

8. Allow to cool (unlike me) completely before eating. Or not. 🙂 Don’t forget to sprinkle with powdered sugar, makes it prettier.

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Filed under Cake, crumb cake, Favorites

Happy Easter! Carrot Coconut Layer Cake

My dad loves carrot cake. Particularly (mostly) this one. The cake is super moist and flavorful, and the cream cheese frosting makes it divine. I remembered that since it’s Easter (doh), I should probably contribute a recipe to the blog in celebration. Pastel colors? I has none. I know, I’m like the only person with a baking blog in this country without any pastel colors for Easter. Then I found these pictures lingering on my computer…and it suddenly clicked. I thought,”Easter…bunny…carrots…carrot cake!” I cheated though. I totally forgot to buy carrots at the grocery store, so that I could make this for tomorrow. (Ok, that’s a lie–it didn’t even occur to me to make this.) Therefore, I am providing these pictures from a couple of months ago…before I got a tad but better at taking pictures. I never wanted to do this, but I’m going to make an exception because this recipe cannot wait for my trip to the grocery store. I shall share it with you NOW! Trust me, it’s delicious. I might just have to hop to the store tomorrow as fast as I can tomorrow so that I can make this for my family again.

Carrot Coconut Layer Cake
Makes 2 9 inch cakes (for a layer cake)

Cake Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I sifted mine first)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 cups peeled and grated carrots
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (I used sweetened)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients – adapted from ‘The Essential Baker

  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Butter the edges and bottom of two 9″ cake pans, and line the bottom of both with parchment paper.

2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl until well combined.

3. In a larger bowl, whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and vegetable oil until well combined and then, blend in eggs one at a time until fully mixed.

4. Slowly add in dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and beat until well combined. Mix in the grated carrots and shredded coconut until fully incorporated.

5. Pour batter evenly into the 9″ cake pans about 2/3 of the way full. Bake in oven for about 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cakes with be puffed up and browned on top.

6. Cool in pans for at least 15 minutes and then transfer over to cooling racks with a baking sheet underneath. Allow to fully cool and make the cream cheese frosting, by mixing the ingredients together until light and fluffy.

HAPPY EASTER!

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Filed under Cake, Easter, Favorites

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter

I have baked so many brownies in the past couple of months, so in my mind, I thought A. I should not bake brownies today and B. Nobody would be interested in reading about them. I forgot that I had never posted a recipe for brownies on this blog thus far, with the exception of one that still lingers in my ‘Drafts’ because it was the batch of brownies that made me sick of brownies for a good few weeks. Which is a tragedy altogether. These brownies exceed most brownies I have ever eaten. You are probably thinking,”And who are you exactly? I’ve never heard of you or your blog.” I won’t convince you as to why you should take my advice, because in the culinary world, I am nobody but someone who loves to eat. Since almost everybody loves to eat, I remain insignificant. My blog is new and has no readers (except you….if you’re actually there or I’m just talking to my imagination), so I really have no comeback for that one. Hmmm…yeah, I guess you’re just going to have to trust me on this one. Yeah, right. Like I’m the only one who knows about these brownies? Let’s say I am a tad over fashionably late on this one.

Plenty of people love these brownies and discovered them before me…including Craving Chronicles, Try Anything Once, Culinary Covers, In Good Taste, and even a Gluten Free version at Tasty Yummies..just to name a small handful that popped up on a Google search. I am just bringing this recipe to you, incase you miraculously (like me), missed it before.

My craving for brownies suddenly started coming back to me after I baked Cook’s Illustrated’s ‘Classic Brownies‘ for a party with a lot of family members who love to eat. I ate one before surrendering the rest to various family members, whom I will gladly share my brownies with any day. When I got back into the kitchen after a few days of being out of town, there was a voice inside saying,”Noo, don’t make snickerdoodles, make browniesss” and,”You don’t want to labor over cinnamon buns, make the damn brownies!” So I told myself if I was going to make brownies, they had to be different. I knew going back to the Classic Brownies would be the easiest thing to do, except that I had only 2 ounces left of my Baker’s unsweetened chocolate. Uh, I was actually out of almost every type of chocolate but cocoa powder. So not many choices for me.

I wanted something new and something unadulterated. No marshmallows, no cheesecake swirls, no peanut butter, no, no, and no. I just want chocolatey brownies. I did a search on Epicurious, and found this recipe for Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts. I left the walnuts out because I didn’t want anything in the brownies and I was also, sadly, out of walnuts too. (Can you say I need to go grocery shopping?) The recipe was super simple, and I loved that it had browned butter. Since I had tried it before for CI’s Chocolate Chip Cookies (yes, that’s how new I am to baking, I’ve only browned butter once before) I knew it would not only give it great flavor, but that it wasn’t as daunting a task as I originally thought. I keep the heat at medium (no higher), and continue to stir with a whisk. It starts bubbling and foaming, and then it develops what looks like chili powder underneath the melted butter. At the point where it has a nice light auburn/brown color, I take it off the heat.

I am convinced that browned butter in cookies and brownies is my new favorite flavor. Move over vanilla, move over creamed butter, move over expensive chocolate. THIS is the best part of the brownie, and somehow it made it so that one of my new favorite brownies only requires cocoa powder, which means since I plan to always have an adequate amount of that, there is no need to run to the grocery store for these. I would have never guessed.

The browned butter gave it a flavor that reminded me of chocolate covered toffee, and the fact that you can get that flavor by doing nothing but lightly browning butter, blew my mind. Why people don’t do this for every single brownie recipe is beyond my comprehension.

Since my sink not full of dishes seemed very appealing to me, and I wasn’t particularly eager to change that, this recipe was even better. I browned the butter in the pan (I almost said brownied the butter O.O), added the sugar, cocoa, salt, water, and vanilla. Let it cool almost completely, but left it warm, and then beat in the eggs and stirred in the flour. That simple. I transferred it to a glass bowl just so that I could take pictures in between, but this can technically be considered a “one pan” brownie recipe with exception of the pan you bake it in. Nonetheless, my sink is not overloaded, making sink and myself happy.

What you get from these brownies is a richer, deeper, more intense flavor than you get from most brownies. Not only on a chocolate level, but the flavor of the browned butter takes it onto a road similar to that which I believe people try to achieve with putting espresso powder in their chocolate cakes and brownies. I noticed the browned butter seemed to have a subtle caramel flavor with just the right amount of salt. The balance of sweet, salty, and chocolatey for me, makes a perfect dessert. Texture wise, they were decadent, moist (without being too oily) and had a nice chew to them.

All other brownies are going to have an extremely difficult time living up to these.

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter (and walnuts, optional)

Makes 16 brownies

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned into cup to measure, then leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, chilled
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 cup walnut pieces – optional

Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 325°F. Line 8 x 8 x 2-inch metal baking pan with foil, pressing foil firmly against pan sides and leaving 2-inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of pan, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons water, vanilla, and 1⁄4 teaspoon (generous) salt. Stir to blend. Let cool 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot). Add eggs to hot mixture 1 at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Beat vigorously 60 strokes. Stir in nuts (optional). Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 20 minutes (recipe says 25 mins but check earlier than that, around 20 mins, to see if they are done to avoid overcooking).

Cool in pan on rack. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Cut into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 4 brownies. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

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Filed under Brownies, Chocolate, Favorites

New York Style Coffee Crumb Cake

I have made this crumb cake 4 times in one week. Three of the times were with 8×8 square pans and the last time was with a 13×9. Two of them went to my parent’s house, and my parent’s didn’t get to try either of them because my siblings demolished it before it could be seen. The second time that happened, I had even left a huge note next to it saying,”For Dad: DO NOT EAT.” It was actually much more elaborate than that, but I won’t expose my paranoid antics. In the car the next night on the way to a party, with another crumb cake on my lap, I asked my dad if he tried the crumb cake.

No, I saw the note and lifted up the tin foil to see an empty plate.

My younger sister, sitting next to me, was smiling. She’s 17, but by looking at her you might guess 13. When I was 18 and walking her into elementary school, I was told to get to class. She has it the same way now. She’s also a kid at heart, innocent, and pure. Most of the time. Her smile turned into pursed lips and she explained,”I had some for breakfast.

What did you do with the rest?“, I asked, knowing that this is my little sister, who might be one of the pickiest eaters and neverrarely finishes anything she eats. (Incase she is reading: Love you T!)

I ate half of the other piece.”

What happened to the first piece? You never eat a whole piece of anything.

She just smiled at me again. I kept staring at her, with a very questioning look…waiting to hear her explanation.

I went downstairs and saw it there and ate it and I didn’t see the note until afterwards.

You ate the whole piece?

I wasn’t mad at her, and she knew that. I was just surprised. And before you think I’m mean, I left the rest of the crumb care there for her and my brother to eat. I had just reserved two pieces for my dad because everything disappears before he gets to try it. The note was on a piece of paper towel, and it had very clear instructions. I wrote a note to my mom on the bottom of it,”Don’t worry, I’m bringing another one to the party tomorrow night so you can try some too.” My dad decided to go at the last minute, so he too was able to finally try some.

Later in the night my sister said,”Don’t ever make that crumb cake again, the crumbs on top were so good. OH MY GOD, they’re like little balls of heavenly deliciousness. Err!” The “err” was an interesting addition, but I sensed what she was trying to say. It was frustratingly yummy? My sister will usually comment on the most delicious of food with,”It was good.” I’ve given her Nutella before, demanding she try it. She squinted while tasting it like a baby given a wedge of lemon, and said,”Eh….it’s ok.” So I knew this crumb cake was a hit..at least with her, my brother, boyfriend, and myself, up to that point.

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Filed under Cake, Favorites