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Sunday
Oct192014

Better than Canadian Bacon: Breakfast Nanaimo Bars Recipe

Let's play a game. I'm going to list a few ingredients, and you guess what meal I'm making.

Here goes: 

  • Oatmeal
  • Granola
  • Maple syrup
  • Butter
  • Coconut

Do you think I'm talking about breakfast? Good, because that means I have sufficiently breakfast-ified these Nanaimo bars, and therefore, they are officially OK for A.M. eating. Why would I want to do such a thing? 

I have a lot of trouble understanding why doughnuts, scones, and danish are OK for breakfast, yet cookies and cake are not.

My logic is this: if you are what you eat, why not start out the day by eating (and being) amazing? These breakfast-friendly Nanaimo bars are the perfect way to start your day right, and an ideal indulgent holiday breakfast treat. They've got enough of the classic makings to be recognizable as the famed Canadian treat, but enough breakfast stylings, such as oats in the crust (which is baked, not simply mixed and no-baked; it is loosely based on the crust used in King Arthur Flour's "President's Day Cherry Squares" recipe) and a tasty crunchy granola on top, that they become an exciting and new thing.

Nanaimo bars for breakfast? Believe it.

I'm especially excited to share these as a recipe featuring King Arthur Flour (whole wheat no less--another point for these being health food!). Ever since my awesome Bake For Good experience with the esteemed flour-maker, I've maintained a good relationship with them, and when they recently asked if I'd come up with a breakfast recipe using their flour, I was more than happy to do so!

Oh, and I should tell you, these bars freeze beautifully. You can freeze up to 2 months; let them come to room temperature before serving. 

Breakfast Nanaimo bars

Makes up to 36 tiny bars, or 9 massive breakfast bars

For the crust

  • 1 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar

For the middle layer

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons Birds Custard powder
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

For the top layer

  • 4 ounces chocolate, coarsely chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the granola garnish

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup nuts
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Procedure

  1. Start by making the crust. Grease a 9x9-inch square baking pan; add a strip of parchment with the ends poking up two sides of the pan so you have "handles" to make removal easy later. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, flour, coconut, nuts, and salt. 
  2. In a saucepan, melt the butter with the cocoa and brown sugar. Once melted, stir into the dry mixture. Mix everything until combined, and press into your prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 13-15 minutes, or until it has a dull finish on top. Remove from oven and let cool completely. You can hasten the process by putting the slightly cooled pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  4. Make the filling. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix all of the filling ingredients on low speed until fluffy--3 to 5 minutes. Gently spread on top of the bottom layer. Take pains to smooth this layer as much as possible (I like to use the end of a metal spatula to smooth it) as the topping will only lay as smooth as this layer. 
  5. Place the pan in the refrigerator and let cool for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. This will make the filling firm enough for the next layer to be put on top without ripping or damaging it in any way.
  6. Meantime, make the granola garnish. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl, and scatter on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes; remove from the oven and stir right on the sheet. Return to the oven and bake for 15 more minutes, or until toasty and firm. Let cool completely, and break up by hand into small pieces.
  7. Ready to put it all together? OK. Now, we'll make the topping. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter until, well, melted. Spread on top of the middle layer, working quickly because it will set rapidly as it is applied to the cool surface, and too much working of the hot mixture can tear up the delicate middle layer. 
  8. Scatter the broken-up granola on top while the chocolate layer is still slightly wet on top to ensure it adheres. Score the bars (this is imporant!) before the chocolate has fully set as it will make life so much easier when you want to serve these sweet treats. Place in the fridge and let them set for 20 minutes.
  9. Although typically I would suggest continued storage of these in the fridge, I find that they're actually quite nicer when left at room temperature. It's up to you, but I found that the topping got kind of hard when left in the fridge. If you do prefer to store in the fridge, let them come to room temperature before serving. Likewise, these bars can be made ahead and frozen for up to 2 months. Once again, let 'em come to room temp before serving.

What's your favorite sweet to eat in the morning?

Sunday
Oct192014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Chai-Glazed Cinnamon Waffles

Note: the Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Check out my coverage of the 45th and 46th Bake-Off, and follow the recipes posted so far by clicking the bakeoff tag below.

I'm super excited about this entry from Mimi Chang from Middletown, New Jersey. First and foremost, because who doesn't like waffles? I even have a waffle wallet--not kidding.

Second, Mimi is from my neck of the woods in New Jersey! Good luck at the Bake-Off!

Chai-Glazed Cinnamon Waffles

  • Prep Time: 30 Min
  • Total Time: 30 Min
  • Makes: 5 waffles

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter extract
  • 2 bananas, sliced
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tea bags chai tea
  • 1 can Pillsbury Grands! refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing (5 rolls)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. In small bowl; mix walnuts, 1/4 teaspoon of the butter extract and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Spread in ungreased 15x10x1-inch pan. Bake 6 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until light brown. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, toss banana slices and remaining 1/4 teaspoon butter extract. Place in single layer on cookie sheet. Bake about 20 minutes or until softened.
  3. Meanwhile, in small microwavable bowl, microwave whipping cream uncovered on High 40 to 50 seconds or until steaming. Add tea bags to whipping cream. Let steep 5 minutes. Squeeze tea bags into cream; discard tea bags.
  4. Meanwhile, heat waffle maker. (Waffle makers without a nonstick coating may need to be sprayed with nonstick spray before cinnamon roll is added.)
  5. Separate dough into 5 rolls; reserve icing. Place 1 roll in center of each waffle section. Close lid of waffle maker. Bake 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Repeat with remaining rolls.
  6. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix chai whipping cream, powdered sugar, reserved icing and 2 tablespoons water until smooth. To serve, top waffles with bananas and walnut mixture. Drizzle with chai icing.
Saturday
Oct182014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Chocolate-in-the-Middle Biscotti

Note: the Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Check out my coverage of the 45th and 46th Bake-Off, and follow the recipes posted so far by clicking the bakeoff tag below.

Marcia Jacobovitz of Cedar Grove, New Jersey knows what most biscotti is missing: chocolate filling! I think this is a perfect way to keep naturally dry biscotti interesting and a little moist, don't you?

Good luck at the Bake-Off!

Chocolate-in-the-middle Biscotti

  • Prep Time: 25 Min
  • Total Time: 1 Hr 25 Min
  • Makes: 15 biscotti

Ingredients

  • 1 container Pillsbury Gluten Free refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup Jif Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick cookie sheet). Line large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Measure 1/3 cup cookie dough; set aside.
  2. In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips uncovered on High 40 to 50 seconds, stirring once, until chips can be stirred smooth; set aside.
  3. In large bowl, break up remaining cookie dough. Add peanut butter. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed 30 to 60 seconds or until well blended. On cookie sheet, shape dough into 14x2-inch rectangle. Make a 1 inch wide by 1/2 inch deep indentation lengthwise down center of rectangle.
  4. In same large bowl, beat reserved 1/3 cup cookie dough, the cinnamon and melted chocolate chips on medium speed 30 to 60 seconds or until well blended, adding water 1/4 teaspoon at a time, if necessary, to create a dough. Roll dough into 14-inch long rope. Place rope in indentation down center of cookie dough rectangle. Bring sides of dough up around chocolate rope; pinch edges to seal. Place diagonally, seam side down, on cookie sheet. Flatten to 3 inches wide.
  5. Bake 20 to 24 minutes or until golden brown and center is firm to the touch. Slide parchment and biscotti rectangle from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool 15 minutes; remove from parchment, and place on cutting board. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using sharp knife, cut rectangle into 1-inch diagonal slices. Place on cookie sheet 1 inch apart.
  6. Bake 10 to 13 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix powdered sugar and 2 to 3 teaspoons water until thin enough to drizzle. Place in resealable food-storage plastic bag. Cut off tiny corner of bag; squeeze bag to drizzle icing over cooled biscotti. Store covered.
Saturday
Oct182014

How to Draw Characters in Conversation

More sweet art tips for you, my dears! I wrote a great (if you ask me) article about how to add conversation to your illustrations. Read the full article here!

Saturday
Oct182014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Banana-Chocolate Chip Streusel Muffins

Note: the Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Check out my coverage of the 45th and 46th Bake-Off, and follow the recipes posted so far by clicking the bakeoff tag below.

These are the type of muffins that make me happy: the kind that include chocolate chip cookie dough. You heard me. This recipe by Kim Van Dunk of Caldwell, New Jersey is a Bake-Off finalist I can really appreciate!

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Oct182014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Ginger-Macadamia Breakfast Rolls


 You know what's great? Biting into a morning breakfast roll and finding a sweet, creamy filling. Yes, yes, yes!

This sweet treat is courtesy of Linda Sellner of Hooksett, New Hampshire. Good luck at the Bake-Off!

Ginger-Macadamia Breakfast Rolls

  • Prep Time: 15 Min
  • Total Time: 45 Min
  • Makes: 8 rolls

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons grated gingerroot
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened (from 8-oz package)
  • 1 can Pillsbury refrigerated reduced fat crescent dinner rolls or crescent dinner rolls (8 rolls)

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. In medium bowl, mix macadamia nuts, brown sugar, gingerroot and vanilla until blended.
  2. In small bowl, place 4 teaspoons of the macadamia nut mixture; set aside. Add cream cheese to remaining macadamia nut mixture; mix until well blended.
  3. Separate dough into 8 triangles. Spoon about 1 heaping tablespoon cream cheese mixture onto shortest side of each triangle. Roll up, starting at shortest side and rolling to opposite point. Place point side down, about 2 inches apart, on ungreased cookie sheet; tuck ends under. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon reserved macadamia nut mixture evenly over top of each crescent.
  4. Bake 14 to 17 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to cooling rack. Cool 10 minutes. Serve warm.

CakeSpy Note: The Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off as well as the 46th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited the 47th one early by sharing all of the sweet recipes in the running. Follow them by clicking the bakeoff tag below to see the recipes posted so far.

Saturday
Oct182014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie “Ice Cream” Sandwiches


Look at this: a sweet treat that is also officially dude food!

Darryl Pozzanghera of Rochester, New York came up with this clever recipe, which includes cookies sandwiched with an easy ice cream-esque dairy filling. It's noted in the headnote that "Gluten-free frosty treats are ready and waiting. A sweet stash in your freezer creates instant smiles and cool satisfaction." I'm definitely ready!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie “Ice Cream” Sandwiches

  • Prep Time: 30 Min
  • Total Time: 2 Hr 20 Min
  • Makes: 8 sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons Sweetened Condensed Milk (from 14-oz can)
  • 1/2 teaspoon double strength vanilla extract (Watkins)
  • 1 cup crushed gluten-free chocolate-covered crispy peanut-buttery candy, about 2 bars (2.1 oz each)
  • 1 container Pillsbury™ Gluten Free refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 1/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheet with Reynolds® Parchment Paper; place in freezer. Place large bowl in freezer.
  2. Cut 8 (12x5-inch) strips aluminum Foil. Fold each piece lengthwise in half; fold lengthwise in half again to make 12x1 1/4-inch strip. Slide 1 end of each strip into fold on opposite end to make 3-inch ring.
  3. Remove bowl from freezer; add whipping cream, condensed milk and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer on high speed about 6 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add 1/2 cup of the crushed candy; gently stir until combined.
  4. Remove parchment-lined cookie sheet from freezer. Arrange foil rings 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Spoon about 1/2 cup candy cream mixture into each ring; spread evenly. Cover with plastic wrap; freeze about 1 hour or until firm.
  5. Meanwhile, place remaining crushed candy in shallow bowl; set aside.
  6. In medium bowl, break up cookie dough. Add peanut butter; mix with wooden spoon or knead with hands until well blended. Shape dough into 16 (1 1/2-inch) balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet; flatten to 2 1/4 inch round with bottom of drinking glass. Bake 8 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 20 minutes.
  7. Remove cookie sheet from freezer. Remove foil ring from each frozen candy cream round. For each sandwich, place 1 candy cream round onto bottom of 1 cookie. Top with second cookie, bottom side down; press together slightly. Gently roll edge of each sandwich in remaining crushed candy. Wrap each sandwich in plastic wrap. Freeze about 1 hour or until firm. Store in freezer.

About this post: Note: the Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Check out my coverage of the 45th and 46th Bake-Off events, and follow the recipes posted so far by clicking the bakeoff tag below.

Friday
Oct172014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Candy corn upside-down cakeHow to get your food blog noticed. (Foodcandy)

Homemade Velveeta. Not kidding. (Foodista)

Here's what you do with your homemade Velveeta: make fudge. Really. (CakeSpy archives)

DIY Cashew-coconut creamer (Have Cake, Will Travel)

Help my friend Gluten-Free Girl bring her all-purpose gluten-free flour to market! (Kickstarter)

Frankenstein Monkey Bread. It makes me happy. (Pillsbury)

Learn how to illustrate like a pro (ME!) with this free e-guide! (Craftsy)

Seriously. Homemade Snowballs. (WannaBGourmet)

Cute: "Wicked dessert puffs" with store-bought puff pastry (Pepperidge Farms)

Cake, and loss of a loved one. A beautiful essay and recipe. (Shauna Sever)

New favorite website! (Bite Me More)

Stuffed pumpkin cupcakes. I'm so into this. (Epicuricloud)

Candy corn rice krispie treats. These just make me happy. (Baking Bites)

Dessert wines for an all-dessert dinner. (!!!!) (Jameson Fink)

Pumpkin wheat dinner rolls (I know they're not sweet per se, but imagine using 'em for French Toast?). (Heather's French Press)

Chocolate cake with instant fudge frosting. Instant! (Crumbs & Cookies)

Book of the week: McCall's Cooking School: Step-by-Step Directions for Mistake-Proof Recipes. If you love retro cookbooks like I do, this one is worth your investment.

Friday
Oct172014

Illustrated Guide With Unicorns: How to Make a Rainbow Cake

Friday
Oct172014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Lemon-Poppy Seed Pull-Apart Bread

CakeSpy Note: The Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off as well as the 46th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited the 47th one early by sharing all of the sweet recipes in the running. I will focus on sweets! You can follow them by clicking the bakeoff tag below to see the recipes posted so far.

I'm sorry, but there's a town called Mound, Minnesota? If I ever went there I'd only eat Mounds candy bars, I can promise you that.

Luckily, Cathy Wiechert of Mound, Minnesota has moved beyond the candy bar to this tasty lemon-poppyseed pull-apart bread, which is her entry in this year's Bake-Off. Good luck, Cathy!

Lemon-Poppy Seed Pull-Apart Bread

  • Prep Time: 20 Min
  • Total Time: 1 Hr 25 Min
  • Makes: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon poppyseeds
  • 1 large lemon (1 tablespoon grated peel and 1 to 2 tablespoons juice)
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons butter, softened
  • 1 can Pillsbury Grands! Flaky Layers refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (8 biscuits)
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Spray 9x5-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Line pan with parchment paper, allowing paper to hang 2 inches over long sides of pan.
  2. In small bowl, mix granulated sugar, poppy seed and lemon peel. In small microwavable bowl, microwave 3 tablespoons butter uncovered on High 20 to 25 seconds or until melted. Separate dough into 8 biscuits.
  3. Separate each biscuit into 2 layers. Brush both sides of each biscuit layer with melted butter, then dip into poppy seed mixture. Starting at one short end of pan, place biscuit layers on their edges, just touching each other, until pan is loosely filled. Sprinkle any remaining poppy seed mixture between biscuits.
  4. Bake 30 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. To prevent excess browning, loosely cover with foil, if necessary. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack, using parchment paper as handles. Cool 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in small bowl, beat remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons butter, the cream cheese, powdered sugar and lemon juice with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and drizzling consistency. Drizzle glaze over pull-apart bread. Serve warm.
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