Bread

Bread, Chocolate, Dessert

CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT SHORTBREAD

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We went out last night to pick up a tree. The kids were bundled and the packing blanket was in the back to protect the roof. This is the first year both of the kids are super jazzed about the holidays. Curran (4.5) is excited for new toys and allllll the colorful, tacky decor. I am told every day that the white lights we have on the house are NOT festive AT ALL. Cleo is excited about whatever Curran is excited about lately, so anytime we see lights (trees, wreaths, fake reindeer, whatever) squealing ensues. It was cute at first, and now it’s just… loud. But truly, I love it. The first few years of parenting are so much work, with few of those personal connections where you actually get to see your children as a people. The more I get to know them, the more I like them. Even the complicated, emotional parts. Anyway, their excitement is infectious, and their Scrouge McWhite-Christmas-Light-Preferring mother is even considering putting rainbow lights up somewhere… like inside their room ;)

Anyway, the tree. I had this romantic idea about the tradition of picking out a tree and how we would pick up dinner after and decorate it, fireside, with classic Christmas tunes. As it turns out, it was not the romantic vision I anticipated in my head. There was a time this would have wildly disappointed me, but kids have lowered my expectations for the better. We ended up at Costco which I love for many reasons, but rustic tree buying experiences is not one of them. I mean you can’t even see the trees, they are all wrapped in twine in bins and you just take a wild guess. Curran seems to be recovering from a minor concussion so complains and whines frequently, and I get that he doesn’t feel well, but, again, with the Cleo doing everything he does. Our dinner was underwhelming and by the time we got home, people needed to go straight to bed. They both screamed at the reality of needing to take a warm shower (how dare me!), and tucked away they went. There was no decorating, no songs, no fire.

I am not disappointed, this is life. When I think back about getting a tree and decorating it with my family, it was not some Norman Rockwell scene every time. Traditions and memories in their imperfect state are just as nostalgic for me as the ones where everything went ‘right.’ Fighting over whose year it was to put the angel on top, holding the twine down through the windows of the mini van to make sure the tree didn’t fly off, how all the limbs starting breaking off the clay wisemen in the manger scene and no one bothered to glue them back on, or the year a votive candle lit a garland on fire. I would maybe argue that the messy parts, the imperfect parts, are actually more interesting. I don’t think I even remember the moments that went as planned, if there were any. So Mr. Frankie, the bare, unlit, lopsided tree, is sitting in the living room, reminding me that all I want for this month is just to soak in the holidays and stay flexible. Mayyyyybe we’ll even put rainbow lights on him this weekend.

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CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT SHORTBREAD

Makes 18

Recipe adapted from Real Simple

I made these a touch sweeter than the written recipe because well, it’s a holiday cookie. You could sprinkle crushed peppermint candies on top while the chocolate drizzle is still soft and that should act as glue for the candies. If you have tried Dorie Greenspan’s World Peace Cookies , they are basically shortbread with a bit of baking soda to help them rise a bit. I’ve tried it here, but don’t think it changes them wildly, so it depends how dense or light you prefer your cookie. Add 1/2 tsp. if you want to try. These are snappy day one, and start to become more tender as they sit. Taste great either way, texture changes, just a fyi.

Ingredients

1/2 cup/1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. natural cane sugar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup all-purpose flour

3.5 oz. bar of dark chocolate
1/4 tsp. peppermint extract

flaky salt, for garnish, optional

Instructions

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment or with an electric mixer, beat the butter and both sugars until fluffy. Add the salt, vanilla, peppermint and beat those in to combine. Add the cocoa, flour and beat until just combined, do not over mix. Roll the dough into a log about 2” across (this is kind of hard, just do your best), wrap it in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour, or overnight. Alternatively, you can roll it out and use cookie cutters to make shapes.

Preheat the oven to 325’ and line a baking sheet with parchment (maybe two, or work in batches). Slice the cookie log into 1/2” coins and arrange them on your baking sheet. They won’t spread much, but give them an inch between for safety. Bake for 10-12 minutes until just dry on the edges. They will look raw in the center but that’s ok! Pull them, and let them cool.

While they cool, melt the chocolate either in the microwave or in a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. Drizzle it on top of the cookies, sprinkle flaky salt or peppermint candies, if using, and let the chocolate set.
Enjoy! Cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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Bread, Breakfast, Gluten Free, Feeding Babies, Snack, Summer

GLUTEN FREE ZUCCHINI MUFFINS

gluten free zucchini muffins

Loves! I posted about this zucchini loaf/muffins I've been working on over on Instagram and you were like hungry little wolves insisting that I post the recipe asap. So, here we are, a few weeks later, which is as asap as it'll get around here. 

Because most of the cooking I do is simple assembly and layering basics rather than advanced skills and technique, the dishes I write for work *usually* turn out by the second time I test them. I can often run this success rate with baking by just tinkering with other recipes and changing the flavor profile. However, I have made about 8-10 rounds of zucchini carrot muffins, all edible, but certainly not eligible to post on the internet with my name on them. I tried to make them maple sweetened (too much moisture), all almond flour (too heavy, also wet),  I squeezed the moisture out of the veg and still, resembling a frittata more so than a muffin, and so on. I mentioned in this peanut butter oatmeal entry a couple weeks ago that my kids are all about baked goods, so I will not rest until I can pack vegetables in them!

I'm not going to say what we have here is perfect but I am happy with where they are and I need the tweaking to just be done. I have a painter friend who says sometimes she just needs to call the piece finished. Lacquer it, take a picture, and move on, even when she knows she *could* keep working on it, because she can end up ruining it instead. I listen to podcasts of entrepreneurs who suggest to put things out there; let people see them and use them and respond, instead of keeping your project quiet, hoping you get closer to perfect. So, if you do make these, tell me what you did or what you would change. I love chatting about food in this space with ya'll, so if you have tips, share them with others in the comments.  

gluten free zucchini muffins - shredded zucchini

GLUTEN FREE ZUCCHINI MUFFINS

Makes 10

I have used super fine brown rice flour in a baking before and many of you noted that it is a bit tricky to stock. I buy it here, but there are alternatives. If you do not need these gluten free, simply use unbleached all purpose flour in its place. I would still suggest using the almond flour or meal in combination, as it keeps the muffins more tender. These are on the low end of the sweet scale, if you want them more of a treat, add a few more tablespoons of sugar. 

The timing is written for 10 muffins, and I find their delicate nature is best in that format. You can bake the batter in a greased loaf for closer to 45 minutes, sticking a toothpick in the center to make sure it isn't too wet.
This muffin tin is my favorite forever and ever.

Ingredients

2 eggs
1/3 cup avocado or coconut oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt

3/4 cup almond flour
3/4 cup superfine rice flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 cup grated zucchini, about 1 medium/large
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chunks

turbinado sugar, to finish, optional

Instructions

Start by grating the zucchini (I do a blend of small holes and large holes on a box grater because I can't decide). Preheat the oven to 360' and grease a muffin tin. 

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, vanilla, vinegar and buttermilk or yogurt, until well combined. Add the almond flour, rice flour, baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon, sugar and stir until combined. Add the zucchini and chocolate and fold it in.

Fill the muffin tins about 2/3 full (they don't rise much) and sprinkle turbinado sugar on top, if using. Bake on the middle rack for 18-20 minutes, or until golden around the edge and a little tap on the center bounces back at you. 

Remove to cool completely. Keep covered at room temperature for 2 days, or in the fridge any longer than that.

A split and toasted muffin is the best muffin, but straight out of the hand is delicious too. 

gluten free zucchini muffin
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Bread, Breakfast, Gluten Free, Snack, Summer

STONE FRUIT + YOGURT MUFFINS

Diced Stonefruit . Muffins with Stonefruit and Yogurt . Sprouted Kitchen

I've been on a muffin kick this week, which is a byproduct of me buying too much produce. My eager zucchini purchase ended up in these muffins (also in her book), which are AMAZING, teetering towards dessert but with the perfect amount of moisture from the zucchini that melts away into all that delicious chocolate. I halved the recipe to get a dozen muffins and couldn't believe there were two full cups of zucchini in there. Then there are all the peaches, nectarines and plums; my favorite summer fruits, right behind ruby red strawberries. They smell so delicious and carry nostalgia for me of summers on the beach with my family, but I am the only one in our family who will eat a ripe one over the sink or chopped up in a green salad. What is not to like?!?! I question Cleo as she meticulously picks every trace of fruit from these muffins. Alas, a lot of extra stone fruit in the kitchen. These are not nearly as sweet as cake, but have a lovely almond essence and jammy fruit bits that feel like the perfect summer treat. I love them split and toasted the following day, though they are great straight out of the hand too. 

It's supposed to be nearly 100' here this weekend, so the muffin marathon will come to a swift hault. I'll leave the recipe for these right here in the meantime. 

Batter . Muffins with Stonefruit and Yogurt . Sprouted Kitchen
Toppings . Muffins with Stonefruit and Yogurt . Sprouted Kitchen
Fresh out of the oven . Muffins with Stonefruit and Yogurt . Sprouted Kitchen

Muffins with Stone Fruits + Yogurt

Makes 10

I made these gluten free, but you could swap in whatever flour you use regularly. Swap in unbleached all purpose for the same yield of the almond, brown rice and flax, or an equal measure of gluten-free all purpose if that is what you stock. If you prefer them dairy free, sub in a coconut or almond based yogurt. 
I love them split and toasted the following day, but they are great just straight out of the hand too. 

Ingredients

2/3 cups whole, plain yogurt
1/4 cup avocado oil (or other neutral oil)
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. almond extract

1 cup superfine brown rice flour
1/2 cup almond meal (blanched of unblanched are fine)
1 Tbsp. flaxmeal
1/2 cup light brown sugar (muscavado sugar or coconut sugar)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 heaping cup diced stonefruit (any combo of peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries), plus more for topping

turbinado (raw) sugar, for topping

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350'. Grease 10 holes of a standard muffin tin.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the yogurt, oil, eggs and almond extract together well. Add the rice flour, almond meal, flaxmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon and fold everything until fully combined. I like to let it sit for a couple minutes to hydrate, not sure if this matters. Fold in the fruit.
Fill the tins about 2/3 full. Put a couple extra pieces of fruit on top of the muffins and then sprinkle a bit of turbinado sugar on top. Bake on the middle rack for 18-20 minutes. Remove to cool completely. 

Warm Muffin . Muffins with Stonefruit and Yogurt . Sprouted Kitchen
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