Gluten-Free Pecan Banana Drop Cookies

I tend to daydream about food, recipes, desserts, pretty much anything edible and how and when I can create and recreate them. On Friday I envisioned a “weekend in-kitchen creating session” that included pies, cakes,bacon jam, preserves, all kinds of things.  Then reality set in and I realized that I have a life, family and responsibilities, as well as the need to sleep as well as a limited food budget.  So I ended up only making one thing, these Gluten-Free Pecan Banana Drop Cookies.

It all started when one of my friends shared a recipe with me on a Facebook post when I posted about needing to bake something to use my ripe bananas.   I decided to modify the original recipe for a couple of reasons.  1.  I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand. And 2. I benefit from a low gluten, better yet, a gluten-free diet.  I have, in recent past, tried a Paleo diet and a Gluten Free diet with great success.  It is hard for me to stay true to either diet but my body definitely let’s me know when I have gone overboard with sugar and wheat and other things my body doesn’t really like but my taste buds adore.

This is my inspiration recipe:

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  THANKS GRET BARKER!!!!

I do plan to make the original recipe in the near future.  But for now I really like this gluten-free version I came up with.  I replaced the flour with a Gluten-free baking mix, substituted for the shortening, since I did not have any, and I added brown sugar.  Here is my version.  I hope you like it!!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 1/4 cup of a Gluten-Free Baking mix (I used Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix, pictured below)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans (I put my pecans in my Nutribullet so they were VERY finely ground.  My family tends to not care for things with nuts so with this one they don’t realize they are eating them)

Optional topping:

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

The cinnamon sugar on top before baking is optional only because I forgot to sprinkle on one batch and I think I actually like that batch the best.

Directions:

In your mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer:

  • Cream sugars and butter together until light and fluffy
  • add vanilla
  • add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each

In a separate bowl:

  • Combine baking mix, baking powder, salt, and baking soda
  • Add to creamed mixture
  • Stir in nuts
  • Chill dough for 30 minutes.
  • Drop spoonfuls 2 inches apart on to cookie sheet.  (I use Silpat non-stick baking mats.  If you don’t have that then either grease your cookie sheet or use parchment paper).
  • Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over cookies
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes

Since I knew I was not going to bake all of the cookie dough today I did not chill the dough in the bowl.  Instead I spread the dough out onto waxed paper in a shape of a log and wrapped it prior to chilling.  When I was ready to bake I simple slice the amount of cookies I wanted to bake then re-wrapped the dough.  I also double wrapped in plastic wrap to store a few days in the refrigerator or I can also pop it into the freezer for linger storage.

I believe the reason why I preferred the batch that I forgot the cinnamon sugar topping is because a gluten-free baking mix gives a slightly different texture than white flour.  The cinnamon sugar added to the slightly grainy texture that these kind of mixes can have.  But both versions came out delicious!

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Pumpkin Swirl Cupcakes w/Salted Caramel Pumpkin Buttercream…The Pumpkin Addiction Continues

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In my last post I mentioned how I have been turned onto pumpkin.  Yes, I am on the “Pumpkin Everything” bandwagon.  I have been having pumpkin in all sorts of things: pancakes, waffles, chocolate chip cookies, bread, beer and of coarse coffee.  Pumpkin season should never end!  It goes well with my obsession with the fall season.  My family probably thinks I am a little crazy with it, but that’s ok.

IMG_20141011_234725The cake I decorated with Fall colors on a whim one day.

20141019_144133The Little Boy Scarecrow I made with one of my children at a local Fall Festival this weekend.

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A couple of treats I made recently for a brunch.

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My current favorite beverage.

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This weekend I opened a can of pumpkin to use a little of it in my waffle experimentation.  Since I opened the can I had to use the rest of it, right?  Of course.  So I made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies as well as the item that is the topic of this post: Pumpkin Swirl Cupcakes with a Salted Caramel Pumpkin Buttercream, garnished with chocolate shavings and  caramel bits.

Pumpkin Swirl Cupcakes with a Salted Caramel Pumpkin Buttercream

These came  out really tasty!  The flavors mesh wonderfully!

Pumpkin Swirl Cupcake:

For this cupcake you can use any vanilla, white or yellow cake mix or recipe.  Before spooning batter into cupcake tins you will take a portion of the batter and had the pumpkin flavors.  Feel free to use your own recipe or box mix or give my recipe a try:

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 3 TBS baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup 100% pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • dash of ginger

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt. Whisk thoroughly.  In the bowl for your stand mixer cream the butter then add the sugar and mix until light and fluffy.  Add 1 egg at a time then add vanilla.  Add a third of the flour mixture, then a third of the milk.  Continue until all combined.  Once last amount of flour and milk are add only mix until just combined.  Try not to overmix or you run the risk of having a dry cake.

Next, scoop out about a cup or so of the batter into a separate bowl.  To this add the pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger stir to combine.

Now, fill your cupcake tins with cupcake liners and fill about 1/3 with the vanilla batter.  Next spoon a dollop of the pumpkin batter into each one.  With a toothpick or butter knife, swirl the pumpkin batter in to give the desired effect.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 12-18 minutes depending on your oven.  They are done when an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Let them cool completely before frosting.

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Buttercream

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp spoons of brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp  water
  • 5 Tbsp of softened butter, divided
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp 100% pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • dash of ginger
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar) (more or less, depending on desired consistency)
  • course salt, chocolate shavings and caramel bits for garnish (optional)

Combine brown sugar and water in a sauce pan over medium heat.  While stirring constantly, bring to a rolling boil.  Remove from heat and stir in 1 Tbsp of butter and 1/4 tsp of salt.  Set aside to cool.

In a stand mixer cream the remaining butter and the pumpkin.  Add cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.  Add the cooled caramel.  Next, slowly add the powdered sugar.

Using a pastry bag or just a butter knife, frost the cupcakes and add desired garnish.

I hope you like them!!!Pumpkin Swirl Cupcakes with a Salted Caramel Pumpkin Buttercream 20140927_103940-1

Pumpkin Spice Latte WAFFLES!

I Love Fall!.  I love the colors of the changing leaves, the crispness in the air and Fall decor.  And even though I love this time of year, in previous seasons I never really caught on to the “pumpkin hype”…until the beginning of this Fall season.  I finally tasted a Pumpkin Spice Latte and I instantly fell in love.

Where has pumpkin been all of my life????

Heck, my family nickname  is Punkin so one would think I would have tasted pumpkin on a regular basis.  Nope.  I prefer sweet potato pie and have always been a fan of other Fall flavors such as apple cider, caramel etc.  But now I am pumpkin addict.  So of course that addiction translates into cooking and baking.  This post is about Pumpkin Spice Latte Waffles.  Yes, you read that correctly, WAFFLES.

I originally came across my inspiration recipe while trying to decide what I wanted to serve at a recent brunch I hosted for friends.  The recipe that I found is a healthy vegan recipe that looks A-Ma-Zing. I plan to try it one day.  This particular day I did not have the required ingredients on hand.  The recipe can be found here:

Minimalist Baker’s Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte Waffles

I came up with two versions of this waffle based on the ingredients I did have on hand at the time.  One is a shortcut version using Bisquick (R) Baking Mix.  The other is a modified version of a waffle recipe I make occasionally from scratch.  I think they both came out delicious, although the Bisquick version’s texture was a bit lighter and fluffier.  So grab your waffle iron, whip up a batch and enjoy!

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Pumpkin Spice Latte Waffles (Using Bisquick Baking Mix)

  • 2 Cups Bisquick(R) Baking Mix
  • 1/2 cup strong coffee
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 TBS vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup canned 100% pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
    • (When I did not have pumpkin pie spice I used this as a substitute: 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp clove, 1/8 tsp ginger.  It worked really well.)

Pumpkin Spice Latte Waffles (Without Pre-made Mix)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or substitute detailed above)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup 100% pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup strong coffee
  • 1/8 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

For either recipe first mix your dry ingredients, then add wet ingredients.  Heat your waffle iron and use according to  the manufacturer’s specifications.  Be sure to use a non-stick spray.

Grab a cup of joe  and your morning paper and sit back, relax and enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Waffles

Keeping with my pumpkin obsession, be on the look out for my next post for Pumpkin Swirl Cupcakes with a Salted Caramel Pumpkin Buttercream 🙂

Beckoning Spring With Baked Goods

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As I was headed to the store today for more butter I stepped outside to thick, puffy SNOWFLAKES!  This has been a long, draining winter and I am so ready for Spring to really be here.  We have had a few teaser days but then snow keeps coming back.  At least it felt like Spring inside my house this weekend.  I had colorful flowers on the table and I made this cake with handmade flower, butterfly and bumblebee decorations.  This is the first time I added this type of detail to a cake and it was so fun to make.  I was making cupcakes too so I made many, many flowers, bees and butterflies.  I still have to practice lots of techniques but I can see where I am improving.  Practice makes perfect.

To make this cake I tried several new things.  First: this is a surprise inside cake.  There are two flavors: White Cake and Lemon Cake.  Using my Cake Pop Maker  I made cake balls with the lemon cake batter that was tinted yellow and sat them in the freezer while I made the white cake batter.

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I intended to make a small personal cake for my boss’s birthday but I wanted to make sure there was enough space for the yellow cake balls inside so I chose 6 inch by 3 inch cake pans for this project.  In each pan I spread a layer of the white cake batter, then placed 4 cake balls and covered them with more white cake batter.  Since I knew I was decorating and giving this cake away I knew I wouldn’t be able to see the results of the inside of the final cake so I baked one extra that I could cut.  Luckily there was just one that was a little messed up coming out of the pan so that’s the one I cut.  Below is a cutaway of that cake.  The final cake is two layers so, hopefully (fingers crossed), you will see two layers of yellow circles throughout the cake and it will look really cute and better than this one.

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I also used both flavors with the cupcakes., putting a layer of each. For the frosting I made a lightly-lemoned buttercream.  There is a hint of lemon without it being overpowering.    The decorations were made using a pre-made colored fondant.

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My youngest son does not care for lemon flavored cake so I let him make a few cupcakes with the white cake batter.  He chose green icing with sprinkles and decorated them himself. 🙂

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With this winter weather I have been doing a lot of baking and a lot of gobbling but no running, and boy is my body feeling the effects.  I have to balance out all of these baked goods!  Come one SPRING!  I rarely run in cold. Haha.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream and Fondant Raspberry Toppers

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With a request for cupcakes I had the opportunity  try out my branding vision for my future business. Red is my absolute favorite color and I have always adored red and white polka dots.  I have red and white polka dot sandals that I can’t wait to wear again when the weather gets warm.  I even have red and white polka dot unmentionables….anyway, I digress.  Since I love this pattern I figured why not incorporate it into my vision.

I am also embracing my childhood nickname.  As a teenager I started to reject the name and tried to insist that everyone call me by my real name.  My family just laughed at me and continued to call me Punkin. I believe there are still some family members who don’t know my real name.   As an adult I actually embrace the nickname.  Family nicknames come from a place of love and it is an honor to be given one.  How can I reject that?  I am my mommy’s Punkin and will always be 🙂  So with the embrace of my nickname comes Punkin’s Pies, Cookies & Cakes!  Short and sweet 🙂

The cupcake request that gave me the opportunity to try out my label and packaging is for Chocolate Cupcakes.  I chose a Raspberry Buttercream and I made Fondant Raspberry toppers.  If you have been following my blog then you may remember a previous post I did that included a raspberry buttercream filling.  That particular buttercream did not come out as expected in texture, although it tasted very good.  Today’s buttercream (different recipe) is much better!  The only thing I will change next time will be to use less food coloring.  I often forget that when I use the gel food colorings the color tends to deepen as it sits.  The pink came out a bit to deep/bright for my liking.  (even more bright than the pictures in this post) It looked very artificial.  The raspberry in the buttercream only gave it a slight but dull pink hue.  With the intention of brightening it up I added pink food color.  Next time I will use less.

So let’s start with the Fondant Toppers!  This is when the kid in me comes out.  It is like playing with playdoh!

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You can create these, or other toppers with fondant, gum paste, or any other edible modeling dough.   If you make your own fondant or purchase white then you can use gel food colors to achieve different colors or you can take the easy route and use pre-colored products like I did this time.

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These are easy to make.  First, working in small batches, roll out your red dough.  Cut into strips and then cut each strip into small, uniform pieces. (I am not good and making them uniform lol).

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Take another piece a bit larger than the others and roll it into a ball.  Then take the smaller balls and start building your berry.  The first row of balls you attach will represent the top of the berry.  So you are building your berry upside down.  Depending on what kind of dough you are using you may want to have a little water handy.  The dough I used attached better if the pieces were slightly wet.

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After building the berry you can decide if you want to leave as is, or attach leaves.  I liked the added color of the leaves.  For this I rolled out the green dough and, using a small star-shaped cookie cutter I cut out stars.  (the star shape that came with my Linzer cookie cutter set was the perfect size).  After you cut the start shape next cut the star in half and separate each point of the star. ( I forgot to take a picture of this step and how I attached the leaves).

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Next, attach each star point to the top of the raspberry using a little water, if necessary.  Using fondant modeling tools or just a toothpick, press the leaf pieces in the middle of the top of the raspberry and , make imprint in it to make it look like a leaf.  Then bend them down a bit to make them look like they are simply laying on top.

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Chocolate Cupcake Recipe:

1 3/4 cup Flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

 1 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup oil

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup of strong coffee

Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a lager mixer bowl.  In a separate bowl mix the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla.  Next add them to the flour mixture and beat for about 3 minutes.  Finally add the coffee and stir well.  This batter will be thin and liquidy compared to other cake batters, this normal!

Fill your cupcake liners with about 1/2 cup of batter and bake at 375 degrees for about 15-18 minutes. Remove from cupcake pan and let cool on wire rack.  Cool completely before frosting.

Raspberry Buttercream:

1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter (softened)

4 ounces of cream cheese (room temperature)

3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

3 tablespoons of raspberry jam (I used an all natural fruit spread with no corn syrup or unnecessary ingredients,  I used heaping spoonfuls :-))

1 tsp of vanilla ( probably used more, I tend to just liberally pour vanilla, I like it a lot)

1 tablespoon of milk

Pink food coloring if desired

Cream together butter and cream cheese.  Next add 1 cup of powdered sugar and one tablespoon of jam, the vanilla and also.  Blend well and add another cup of powdered sugar and another tablespoon of jam.  Repeat.  And voila! Raspberry Buttercream.  If you are not a fan of cream cheese then you can use 2 sticks of butter and eliminate the cream cheese.  Personally I like the cream cheese version better.  The tartness of the cream cheese lessens the intensity of the sweetness.

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Donuts and Coffee…In One Bite!

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I absolutely love the combination of donuts and coffee.  I don’t know why they taste so good together but they were made for each other!  So today I tried making donuts for the first time.  Now I am picky about donuts.  I am not really a fan of cake-like donuts.  My favorite is Krispy Kreme’s glazed donut.  The light fluffy texture and the thin layer of glaze is splendid.  So when I decided I wanted to make donuts I wanted one as close to this texture as possible. But I also wanted to add my own twist so I decided to top some with a coffee flavored glaze! YUM!  This recipe makes A LOT of donuts so you can always cut it down.

If you give these a try come back and leave a comment to let me know how they turned out!

Glazed Donuts: Adapted from http://www.instructables.com/id/Krispy-Kreme-Donut-Doughnut-Recipe/

3 (1/4 ounce)  packages yeast  – I used “Quick Rise”
1/2 cup warm water  (105-115F )
2 1/4 cups  milk, scalded, then cooled
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup  shortening
7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
canola oil for frying

Plain Glaze
1/2 cup  butter
3 cups  powdered sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
6 -9 tablespoons  milk (The recipe indicated evaporated milk but at the last minute I realized I did not have any so I just used whole milk)

Coffee Flavored Glaze

For this I used the recipe above but replaced the milk with a strong coffee.  I probably used more than 9 tablespoons though.  But you can adjust the consistency by adjusting the amount of liquid vs. powdered sugar.

What to do:

Add yeast to the warm water and let it rest.

In the meantime scald the milk, either on the stove or in the microwave and let it cool (scalding the milk helps the yeast rise).

Combine the yeast, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, shortening and 3 cups  flour.

Beat on low for 30 seconds, scraping bowl.

Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.

Carefully stir in remaining flour until smooth.

Cover and let rise until double, 30-60 minutes, depending on the yeast you used.  I went about 50 minutes and my dough was ready to come out of my bowl. (I love the chemical reaction of yeast.  I get giddy when my dough rises.  weird, I know).

Next, turn dough onto floured surface; roll around lightly to coat with flour.

Gently roll dough 1/2-inch thick with floured rolling pin. (I did not pay attention to how thick I was supposed to roll.  I rolled it out too thin and my donuts weren’t as fluffy and big as I had hoped, but still good).

Cut with floured cutter of your choosing.  Separate donuts and holes, as they take different frying times.

Cover and let rise until double, another 30-40 minutes.

donuts

While you wait you can make the glaze.

Melt the butter and stir in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.

Add milk (or  coffee) until desired consistency is reached.

After the second rising time is complete you are ready to fry these babies up!

Heat your oil to 350F .  A thermometer makes this part fool-proof, and you can monitor the heat to make sure it stays in this prime frying range. After my oil reached 350 I stopped paying attention and I overcooked some because my oil got really hot, about 420F

Carefully place the donuts in the oil.  Cook on each side for about one minute.(unless you let your oil get too hot then you may only need about 30 seconds each side).  Use chopsticks  or the handle of a wooden spoon to flip the donuts and remove them from the oil.

Place donuts on a rack or paper towels to drain.

Now you are ready to dip them in the glaze.  You can choose to glaze just one side or all around.  Place them on a rack to set.  My plain glaze was too thick at first.  Still tasty but not the thin layer reminiscent of Krispy Kreme.  So I thinned it out with a little more liquid to get the consistency I wanted.

If you give these a try come back and leave a comment to let me know how they turned out!

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Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies

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One of my son’s favorite snacks is Oatmeal Creme Pies so I decided to try to make a homemade version of these and they turned out pretty good.  There are several different versions of this easily found online.  The one that may most closely match the store-bought kind uses margarine and Marshmallow Fluff, two things I never buy.  I prefer real butter for every thing and I have just never bought the fluff stuff before.  Nothing against it.  I just haven’t tried it yet.  So I opted for a recipe that uses real butter and ingredients for the cream that I normally have on hand for things like butter cream frosting.  I got this recipe from one of my favorites on Facebook.  Her website is Bake or Break and she has wonderful recipes and posts!

http://www.bakeorbreak.com/2012/03/oatmeal-cream-pies/

I used her exact recipe so I am not going to re-post.  I just wanted to share the results with you all.  Click on the link and visit her site to check out the recipe.  The only thing I would have done differently would be to follow her directions and use tablespoonfuls of cookie dough when placing them on the baking sheet.  I used my cookie scooper which is larger, therefore making larger, thicker cookies.  I think they would have turned out better smaller.  But they taste is great, and my son agrees!