Milky Way Chocolate Chip Blondies

For friends’ birthdays, I like to ask about their favorite flavors and surprise them with a special treat. Sometimes I try to fly under the radar and just pepper food questions into normal conversation so they don’t suspect what I’m up to. Other times…I’m way more obvious about it and literally ask people to send me their favorite flavors.

DSC07981That’s the kind of questioning that led to these awesome blondies. One of my friends said she really loved Milky Way candy bars–and I couldn’t resist finding a way to bake with them.

Lucky for me, Crazy for Crust had already thought about this. I used her recipe for Milky Way Chocolate Chip Blondies, but cut the caramel chips. I’m a huge fan of recipes that use a ton of flavors but for some reason, the caramel chips felt like too much going on.

These bake up beautifully, with a classic blondie top and a really nicely textured middle layer of caramel, chocolate and nougat. The Milky Way candy bars melt into a wonderful flavor combo and take these bars to the next level.

I never would have thought to bake with Milky Ways since I don’t really eat them–so thanks to the friend that inspired this!

Milky Way Chocolate Chip Blondies

Original recipe:  Crazy for Crust. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: ~30 bars

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~1 hour

Cook Time: ~25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups light brown sugar, packed firmly into your measuring cup
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 15 Fun Size Milky Way candy bars, chopped into pieces

Step by Step Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Line a 9×13 pan with foil and spray it with nonstick cooking spray
  3. Use the paddle attachment on your mixer cream your brown sugar and butter
  4. Add eggs and vanilla, then beat until combined
  5. Add baking powder, salt and flour. Mix until combined
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips and chopped Milky Way bars
  7. Press your dough into the prepared pan. The dough can get sticky, but you can spray your hands with cooking spray so the dough doesn’t stick as much while you’re trying to spread it
  8. Bake for about 22-25 minutes. Keep a close eye on these blondies–you don’t want to overcook them! The center will still jiggle a bit when the bars are done, but they’ll firm up as the bars cool
  9. Let the bars cool completely before slicing them into pieces

These keep for a few days in an airtight container, or you can freeze them to save the goodness for longer.

 

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Orange Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread

Before we get into the details of this recipe: go add six oranges to your shopping list. Do it right now, so you don’t forget–because you’ll want to make this bread, ASAP.

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And yes, you read that right. This recipe uses a whopping six oranges. You’re mostly using the zest, though you’ll throw a bit of juice into your glaze. Don’t worry about wasting the rest of the fruit–zested oranges last a couple days in the fridge, so you can just eat the rest later.

Ok: now onto the details. This bread makes any morning sunnier. It’s like a gooey, soft cinnamon roll, made ten times better by lots of orange zest. It’s definitely sweet and decadent–and the ultimate morning pick-me-up. I compared a few recipes for orange cinnamon rolls before picking this one, and noticed lots of bloggers talking about nostalgia for this flavor combo. I never had Pillsbury’s Sweet Orange Rolls as a kid…but if you did, this bread apparently tastes like that!

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Give yourself plenty of time for this one. You need to let the dough rise twice, and you’ll want the bread totally cool before icing it at the end. I promise it’s worth it! This was my first time making a pull apart bread, and I really liked how it turned out. It’s easier than doing rolls, and looks really cool once it’s finished.

This is the perfect recipe for Easter brunch, or your next brunch potluck…or you can be like me, and bring it to work next Monday. Whatever you do, trust me: people will thank you.

Orange Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread

Original recipe: How Sweet Eats. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: One 9×5 loaf

Suggested equipment: Mixer, with a dough hook and a beater attachment

Total Time: ~1 hour, 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30-35 minutes

Ingredients

Dough 

  • 2 cups and 3/4 cups flour, separated
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup milk (whole or 2% is fine)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated orange zest  (~2 oranges)

Filling 

  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp freshly grated orange zest  (~3 oranges)

Icing 

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tbsp orange zest (~1 orange)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Make your bread 

  1. Put the 2 cups of flour, sugar and yeast in your mixer bowl. Use the beater attachment, and stir until combined.
  2. Put your milk and butter in a small saucepan. Turn the heat to low, and heat just until the butter melts.
  3. Remove the pan from the stovetop, and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, stir in your water and vanilla.
  4. Attach a dough hook to your mixer bowl.
  5. Pour your butter mixture into the flour mixture. Mix until everything is just combined.
  6. Add your salt and eggs, one at a time. Beat well in between each addition.
  7. Add your orange zest, and beat the dough again. The dough should be pretty sticky at this point.
  8. Add your remaining 3/4 cup of flour in small increments, beating another 2-3 minutes. You’ll know you’re done when the dough comes together again. It should still be pretty sticky!
  9. Oil a bowl, and place your dough inside. Cover the bowl with a towel, then leave it to rise in a warm place. It should take about an hour to rise–check to make sure it’s poofed up before you move onto the next step.

Fill your bread 

  1. Once your dough has risen, prep your workstation for the next step. Flour a flat surface that’s large enough to roll out the bread.
  2. Punch your dough down, then turn it onto the floured surface.
  3. Roll the dough into a large rectangle. The original recipe said 12×20 inches, but mine stretched slightly smaller than that.
  4. Brush your dough with the melted butter.
  5. Cover that with sugar, cinnamon and orange zest. Try to spread the filling evenly.
  6. Cut your dough into 5 strips from top to bottom, lengthwise. Then, cut horizontally into 6 sets of squares (See pics below!)
  7. Stack your dough into six stacks.
  8. Brush a 9×5 loaf pan with melted butter. Put your dough stacks into the pan, then smush it together. Make sure to press the dough together well, so it sticks together while baking.
  9. Cover the pan with plastic wrap, and let it rise for another hour.

Bake your bread 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and set. I ended up tenting mine with foil near the end so I could keep cooking the insides without burning the top.
  3. Let the bread cool for 10 minutes before moving onto the glaze.

Add your icing 

Note: I only used half the icing. Adjust based on how much glaze you usually like! 

  1. Whisk all icing ingredients together until a glaze forms. It should be pretty smooth–if it seems thick, add more orange juice 1 tsp at a time. If it seems to thin, whisk in a few more tablespoons of sugar until you reach the right consistency.
  2. Drizzle glaze all over your bread. It’ll end up in some of the bread pockets…mmm.

This definitely is best served warm, but it tasted great after it cooled, too!

 

 

 

Cinnamon Cayenne Brownies with Cinnamon Buttercream

This might be the perfect spicy sweet treat. First you make rich, fudgy brownies, slightly spiked with a bit of cayenne. Then you add a smooth, cinnamon-tinged buttercream. The finished dessert is chocolatey, spicy and sweet all at once. It’s pretty incredible!

IMG_7222I’ve made other spicy chocolate recipes in the past, but think this one’s my new favorite. There’s a really great depth to the brownie recipe: it’s a satisfying, deep chocolate, and the spices bring out more flavor. The cinnamon buttercream adds yet another layer of flavor, and complements the brownies in a really unique way. I used a pretty thin layer of buttercream compared to the original recipe, and felt good about the frosting/brownie combo. You could also cut the frosting altogether if you’re short on time or watching your decadence–the brownies definitely stand on their own!

Several coworkers declared this recipe their favorite thing I’ve baked. I’ve brought quite a few things into the office over time so…that’s quite the declaration!

Cinnamon Cayenne Brownies with Cinnamon Buttercream

Original recipe: Garnish with Lemon. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: ~25 brownies

Suggested equipment: Mixer optional

Total Time: ~2 hours, including cooling time

Cook Time: 27-32 minutes

Ingredients

For your brownies

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

For your frosting

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 16 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp milk or heavy cream (I used milk, it’ll be a little thicker if you use cream)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon

Instructions

Make your brownies 

  1. Preheat your oven to 325F
  2. Whisk your flour, cinnamon and cayenne in a small bowl
  3. Place the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt in a large microwaveable bowl. Heat in 30 second increments, stirring after each increment. Repeat this process until the butter is fully melted, then put the mixture aside so it can cool a bit
  4. Stir your vanilla and eggs into the cocoa mixture. Your batter should be thick and shiny when you’re done
  5. Add the dry ingredients, and stir again until just mixed
  6. Beat the whole batter vigorously for about 30 seconds
  7. Line a 8×8 pan with parchment, leaving a little hanging over the edges so it’s easier to pull the brownies out later
  8. Pour your batter into the pan
  9. Bake for 27-32 minutes. Mine took the full 32. Stick a toothpick in the middle to check for doneness. Your toothpick should have just a few crumbs sticking to it when these are done
  10. Cool the brownies in the pan for 15 minutes, then lift them out to cool completely before frosting. You don’t want to frost hot brownies–the frosting will just melt all over the place!

Frost your brownies

  1. Put your powdered sugar and butter in a mixer bowl. Beat them for about 2-3 minutes, until it’s totally smooth
  2. Add salt, vanilla, milk or cream and cinnamon. Mix it altogether until the frosting is thick and smooth. Taste the frosting before declaring it done–sometimes I add a little more sugar or salt depending on how things are coming together!
  3. Frost your brownies, then cut them into squares. I found these a little harder to cut than some other brownie recipes, so definitely use a sharp knife!

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Olive Oil Chocolate Cake (Dairy-Free)

I’ve never been one to use the word “unfussy” to talk about food. And yet, here we are: let’s talk about this unfussy cake. It’s rich and delicious, but also really simple. It’s great on its own–but also easy to dress up with mix-ins, toppings or ice cream.

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I also love that this recipe is dairy-free, because I have several friends who avoid dairy. Olive oil gives the cake a great texture, and also brings out richness from the cocoa. The cake is light, airy and the perfect ending to a dinner with friends.

I opted to use regular flour in this, but the original recipe gives you substitutions if you want to make it gluten-free.

Olive Oil Chocolate Cake (Dairy-Free)

Original recipe: Nigella Lawson. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: One 9-inch cake

Suggested equipment: Mixer; food processor if you need to grind sugar

Total Time: 1.5 hours

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup olive oil, plus more to grease the pan
  • 6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 cup superfine sugar (You can find this at some stores, usually called superfine sugar, baker’s sugar or caster sugar. Alternatively, you can just use your food processor to grind up standard granulated sugar. I followed The Kitchn’s advice, and ground up 1 cup plus 2 tsp of sugar in the food processor for roughly 30 seconds.) 
  • 3 large eggs
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 325F
  2. Sift your cocoa into a bowl
  3. Whisk in your boiling water until it’s a smooth paste. It will still look a little runny
  4. Whisk in your vanilla, then let the mixture cool for a bit
  5. In a separate bowl, mix your flour, baking soda and salt
  6. Use your mixer to beat the sugar, olive oil and eggs. You should beat them for about 3 minutes until it’s a thickened, yellow-ish cream
  7. Turn the speed down on your mixer, and add in your cocoa with the mixer still running. Stop to scrape as needed
  8. Use a spatula to mix in the flour. When you’re ready to bake, your mix should look dark and liquidy
  9. Grease a 9 inch cake pan (or springform if you have it!) with oil and line it with parchment
  10. Bake 40-45 minutes, until the sides are set but the top still looks a little damp. Use a toothpick to check for doneness–it should be mostly clean with just a few crumbs
  11. Let the cake cool in its tin for 10 minutes
  12. Remove the cake from its pan
  13. Dust with powdered sugar right before serving

 

 

Recipe roundup: Valentine’s Day

I loved Valentine’s Day as a kid. It was an excuse to eat lots of candy, wear lots of pink and tell people nice things. What’s not to like?

I wish we did Valentine’s Day mailboxes at work, like we did as kids. Maybe I should make that happen next year. But in the meantime, I’m sitting here daydreaming about pink cupcakes and heart-shaped cookies and all the other lip-smacking Valentine’s Day desserts.

Here’s a roundup of the Valentine’s Day recipes I’m most excited about this year, plus some recipes from my blog that just might do the trick for your V-day needs.

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From Jo Cooks

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Scones: Start your day with a dash of red and a bit of sugar. These scones from Jo Cooks sure look scrumptious.

Olive Oil Cupcakes with Berry Buttercream: The base cupcake is an intriguing mix of almond, orange and olive oil. Top that with a mixed berry buttercream, and you have yourself a Valentine’s Day winner. These come from Molly Yeh, so you know they’re good!

Blackberry Lemon Cake: This cake from Natasha’s Kitchen gets its flavor from blackberry frosting and lemon simple syrup. It’s simple, sounds delicious and the blackberries make it a lovely shade of purply pink.

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From Bakers Royale

Watercolor Heart Cookies: I saw these gorgeous cookies from Bakers Royale in my Pinterest feed yesterday and can’t stop thinking about them!

Red Velvet Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting: I love frosted brownies, and this recipe from The Recipe Critic looks delightfully rich.

M&M Cookie Bars: A simple cookie bar recipe, jazzed up with seasonal pink and red M&Ms by No.2 Pencil.

Strawberry Thyme Cake: One last cake option for you, because I can never resist a bit of herbs with my dessert. This combo from The Cake Blog sounds delicious and looks great!

Conversation Heart Cookies: These cookies are so fun, especially because I Am A Food Blog strayed away from traditional V-day colors. As much as I love red and pink, it’s nice to have some other colors in the mix, too!

Recipes on this blog:

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Craving more ideas? Check out my Valentine’s Day Pinterest board.

The 2017 Baking Roundup

Every January I write an annual report. I look at what I did, where I went and what I wrote. It’s a nice way to remember the good from the year before, and helps me look at how little moments in time add up.

I carried this tradition over to Sugarsmith a couple of years ago–because baking deserves reflection, too. I keep a detailed list of everything I bake, so it’s pretty easy to figure out patterns from the entire year. Here’s a look at my 2017 in baking:

What I made

I baked 54 times last year, including 51 new recipes (94%). That’s lower than 2016 when I baked 68 times, but still higher than 2015, so I feel good about it!baking report

Flavors

I covered a nice mix of flavors in 2017. 54% of recipes contained chocolate, but chocolate wasn’t always the dominant flavor. When I took a closer look I found that fruity recipes led the pack, from Lemon Cookies to Lemon Cucumber Cake. I also made a lot of herb-y recipes, like Lavender Cookies and Strawberry Basil Cupcakes. I made way fewer pumpkin recipes than originally planned for the fall, but managed to get three in there! And clearly I didn’t make enough s’mores treats in 2017…though the one I DID make was pretty killer.

Who ate it?

I hosted 6 events in 2017, accounting for 20 recipes (58%). Another 14 recipes went to other people’s birthdays, housewarmings, etc. And the remaining 37% of my baked goods went with me to work. You’re welcome, coworkers!

What did people read?

I published 27 posts to Sugarsmith in 2017. I feel pretty good about that given that I split my time between blogs and also write for work. Of course, I have tons of unfinished drafts just waiting for me to finish them. I also don’t write about every single thing I bake. And I rarely post in chronological order. So even if you eat a lot of my treats…you can never really know what I’ll post next!

Top Posts on Sugarsmith for 2017

Clearly you guys like gooey butter cake and salty/sweet combos. Noted for 2018!

Favorites That Didn’t Crack the Top 5

Best *New* Things I ate in 2017

As always, thanks for reading–I’ll be back with new recipes soon!

 

Wassail Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Orange Glaze

I really hate wasting specialty ingredients. Whenever I buy something special for one recipe, I try to find other recipes that’ll use it up. Sometimes that’s easy: leftover rosemary goes into cookies, or leftover molasses becomes Gingerbread Waffles.

But sometimes…it’s a little trickier. Enter wassail. Wassail is a mulling spice blend that’s most commonly used for mulled cider, spiced wines and other wintry drinks. It makes drinks seem extra cozy and special in colder months, and it’s probably responsible for your favorite winter drink.

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Once you’re done making drinks, though, it’s not really clear how to use up the rest of your mulling spices. I spent a good amount of time looking for a recipe that used wassail as an ingredient. I literally only found this one recipe, for the cookies you see here today.  I didn’t know what to expect…but man, are these good cookies! Melanie of Melanie Makes definitely cracked the wassail baking situation. She figured out that wassail would be a great flavor complement to orange, chocolate and even Blue Moon beer. These cookies may sound complicated, but the final flavor profile is pretty incredible. The cookies have a slightly malted taste, generous bites of chocolate, and a fruity, fresh finish from the glaze.

So after you go caroling this year and sip up your cider…why not use leftover wassail for some cookies? I promise you’ll be glad you tried it. I left some cookies unglazed out of curiosity, but definitely recommend adding the glaze if you can snag some oranges. It adds a nice layer of flavor!

Wassail Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Orange Glaze

Original recipe: Melanie Makes. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: ~36 cookies

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~1.5 hours

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 12 oz Blue Moon beer
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp wassail (I used this blend from Rodelle but you can sub in another brand)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)

For the glaze 

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons orange juice

Instructions

Make your cookies

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375F
  2. Put your beer in a small saucepan, and turn it up to medium-high heat. Cook the beer until it’s reduced–you want 1/4 of a cup left. It might be sort of hard to tell the quantities, so you can always pour in more beer than the recipe calls for and just measure out 1/4 cup when it’s reduced a bit
  3. Use your mixer to cream the shortening, brown sugar and granulated sugar
  4. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until fluffy
  5. Pour in the beer, and mix until the ingredients are combined
  6. Add your wassail, flour, salt and baking soda. Mix to combine, but don’t overmix
  7. Stir in your chocolate
  8. Scoop balls of dough onto lined baking sheets
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes. They should start to firm up a bit, but still be a bit soft in the centers
  10.  Let the cookies cool on the sheets for a few minutes, then move them to a rack to finish cooling

Glaze your cookies 

  1. Once the cookies are totally cool, whip up your glaze!
  2. Whisk your powdered sugar and orange juice until they’re combined and smooth. The glaze will be white and a bit sticky looking when it’s ready
  3. Drizzle glaze over the cooled cookies. Let the glaze set before you package up or transport the cookies