Thursday, 19 January 2017

Crunchy Chocolate Almond Cranberry Batons

These cookies are just amazing! They are crisp, crunchy, not too sweet because of the dark chocolate, and just are a great accompaniment to a cup of coffee! Although the dough is difficult to work with, and slightly messy, the taste makes it all worthwhile. According to an on line calculator for nutrition, each cookie has 6 grams of sugar and 16 grams of carbohydrate. This is not to be taken as scientific but I guess the numbers are close enough. Before baking, the rolled "Sausages" or "Cigars" look pretty unappetizing (yes, they look like exactly what you are thinking, but after baking, the take on a Biscotti like appearance).

1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 cup rolled oats
¾ cup Scottish oatmeal
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup white sugar
4 tablespoons water
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup almond butter
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened dark chocolate chunks (1/2 will be melted in the sugar syrup, and ½ chopped and mixed with the cranberries)
1.      Mix the brown sugar, butter, and water in a small saucepan. Boil to a thin syrup stage (approximately 212 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer). Put ½ of the chocolate chunks in the syrup, allow to melt, mixing well. Allow to cool to room temperature
2.      In a small bowl, whisk together flour, oatmeal, sesame seeds, oats, salt, baking soda, and allspice. In a large bowl, beat white sugar, cooled sugar syrup/chocolate mixture, and almond butter until well combined. Beat in eggs, and vanilla. Add the cranberries, and chopped chocolate, almonds, stirring to combine. Fold in the dry ingredients all at once. The dough will be very stiff, and difficult to work with.
3.      Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
4.      Use your hands (lightly oiled or floured to make handling the dough easier) to roll balls of the dough into cigar or sausage shaped “batons”4”long by ½-3/4” wide (see photo, and yes, they look like "turds")
. Bake 15-20 minutes on lined baking sheet, until lightly browned and firm to the touch. Cool for 20 minutes, the cookies will harden as they cool. 

5.      Lower oven temperature to 275 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven, turn cookies over and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Walnut Date Crispbread Pudding

I like bread pudding but not necessarily all the calories and richness that goes along with a "traditional" bread pudding made with white bread. I also like a sticky toffee pudding but again, have to stay away from the sugary sweetness associated with that delicacy. This is a compromise to provide me with the fiber, sticky toffee pudding taste, and all rolled into a bread pudding. I opted to use Scandinavian type Crispbread because it has a lot of fiber, and probably less carbohydrates than ordinary bread (I cut the pudding into 18 squares, and according to one of the online calculators (not to be taken as scientific), each square had 18 grams CHO, and 10 grams sugar. I like the taste of Wasa brand Multigrain but I'm sure any other brand would work just the same. The most important step in this recipe is allowing the crispbread to soak in the custard mixture, in the fridge,until the bread "rehydrates", and becomes soft and spongy. Only then will you put it in the oven.
The recipe is a very flexible one, and the dried fruit, nuts, and spices can be varied to match your taste e.g instead of dates/walnuts, you can use cranberries/almonds/nutmeg/cinnamon/coriander. The type of Crispbread may also be altered, using either a dark or light variety. The pudding may be topped with yogurt or your favorite sauce (toffee, chocolate, butterscotch, whiskey, brandy, rum,etc).
About 15 pieces of WASA Multigrain Crispbread (use less if you want more "custard" than "Bread"

2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup dates, chopped or sliced
½ cup chopped walnuts
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups half and half
1/2 cup white sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
 ½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1.       Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

2.       Bring the brown sugar and water to a boil then gently simmer to the stage of simple syrup (about 200 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer. Thin with a little water if it gets too thick on cooling) Allow to cool to room temperature
3.       Lay the crispbread slices in 2 layers to cover the 8x8 area (if you prefer bread pudding with more custard than bread, just use 1 layer).
Melt the butter, then drizzle over crispbread slices.
4.       Sprinkle dates and nuts as evenly as possible over the crispbread. Cover with a final layer of crispbread.
5.       In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, milk, sugar, allspice, cardamom, and vanilla. Beat thoroughly. Pour egg mixture over bread. Lightly push bread down with a fork.
Place in fridge but occasionally (every ½ hour or so) keep using the fork to force the bread under the surface of the liquid. Allow to sit in fridge until bread has become soft and spongy, and almost completely soaked up the milk/egg mixture.
6.       Place in a hot water bath and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool on a rack before cutting into squares and serving.