Blueberry-Vanilla Bean Muffins

IMG_3098Once upon a time, I baked a beautiful batch of Blueberry-Vanilla Bean Muffins. I used my favorite blue flowery muffin liners, selected the prettiest muffins (not without a touch of mother-like guilt for the rest of the still-beautiful-in-their-own-way rejects), and coerced my favorite photographer into capturing them on camera. My favorite photographer and I happen to share a home, birthday, and set of parents, which makes picture-taking quite convenient. We have a great system, Sam and I: I bake delicious treats, Sam takes pictures of them, and then he is paid in baked goods. Pretty much a win-win situation.

So, these muffins began just like any other recipe for my blog. Bake, cool, photograph. But then trouble happened. A few days after taking the pictures I started a new blog post, typed up the muffin recipe, and asked Sam for the SD card with the blueberry muffin pictures on it.

“What muffins?” That was the first clue that something was not right. “Ohhh, those muffins. That was a while ago, wasn’t it?” Well yes, I supposed it was. He looked. And looked. And looked. To no avail. Finally we admitted defeat….the beautiful blueberry muffin photos were no more. :’(

It turned out that Sam had taken pictures for a wedding the day after photographing the muffins, and somehow his camera card had cleared itself and stored the wedding photos over the muffin ones. Too bad, so sad. But seriously. I went along with a different post (luckily I was ahead of the game and had a different treat ready to go) but I didn’t forget about the muffins.

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I knew that I must share them with you. So unfortunately, I had got to make them again. Guess it wasn’t so bad after all, since I ended up with another batch of fabulous muffins! Plus it gave me a chance to make a few little adjustments. The first time around, I found myself out of vanilla extract halfway through the recipe. Usually whenever this happens I cry a little inside since I’m a firm believer that vanilla is always ALWAYS necessary, but this time I remembered the trillion-dollar Madagascar vanilla beans hidden away in my pantry. I had been planning on using them for an extra-special recipe, but then I thought about it and decided that life is too short to let the vanilla beans hide away in a cupboard waiting for the perfect occasion. Every occasion is perfect; every recipe is special! (Please excuse the cheesiness.) In short, I used those vanilla beans and I used them good!

Back to the muffin adjustments…even though the second time I made them I had plenty of vanilla extract, I kept remembering how wonderful the first batch was with the vanilla bean seeds. There’s something so alluring about those little black flecks mixed into thick batter, and they add such incredible flavor. I still had half a bean left over from the original muffins so I scraped it clean and added those seeds right into the mixture! For the second batch I also reserved 1/2 a cup of blueberries to sprinkle on top right before baking so that they weren’t covered up with batter. I like to really see those dark juicy berries on top of the muffins, you know? Makes them more eye-catching.

All in all, I guess it wasn’t so bad to have all the first pictures erased. These muffins are totally worth making again and again. They’re some of the best darn blueberry muffins I’ve ever had…perfectly soft, sweet, moist, vanilla-y (if that’s even a word), and of course bursting with fresh blueberries. Now that I think of it, Sam’s word is the only evidence I have for the mysterious wipe-out of those first pictures…could it be that he was willing to tell a little white lie if it meant getting to eat more blueberry muffins? Perhaps we’ll never know.

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Blueberry-Vanilla Bean Muffins

Makes 15-16 standard-size muffins

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbs + 1 tsp baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, at room temperature (place in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes to bring to room temp if you’re short on time)

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil

Seeds from half of a vanilla bean (or substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)

1 & 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not thaw)

Extra sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease or line 15-16 cups in a muffin tin and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until smooth. Whisk in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla beans (or vanilla) into the egg mixture until well-combined.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir gently, just until no flour streaks remain. Be careful not to over-mix! Batter will be thick and slightly lumpy. Fold in the blueberries, reserving 1/2 cup.

Evenly spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling almost to the top (again, you will have 15-16 muffins). Top with remaining blueberries and sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired. Bake for 5 minutes, then decrease the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 13-15 minutes. When the tops bounce back lightly when touched and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, take the muffins out of the oven.

Let the muffins cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then carefully remove to a cooling rack. Enjoy immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

(Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Frozen Chocolate Banana Bites

IMG_2533“Did you MAKE these?!” my father asked with his mouth full, turning the the half-eaten object in his hand from side to side with an expression of glee.

“Um, yes.” I replied.

“What is IN them?”

“Dad, they’re banana slices dipped in chocolate. And frozen. That’s it.”

“Really?!”

“Really.”

“You could sell these at [name of expensive restaurant in our town] for lots and lots of money. Seriously, serve them up on a fancy platter and no one would ever know the difference.”

“Haha.”

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All jokes aside, these frozen chocolate banana bites have serious show-stopping potential, despite their short list of ingredients and the minimal effort involved in making them. All I did was melt together some dark chocolate chips with a little peanut butter (because in my world, where there is chocolate, peanut butter must follow), dunk banana slices in the mixture, and sprinkle a little shredded coconut over the tops. Then I froze them. Thirty minutes later I had a Tupperware full of delicious chocolatey treats that my family couldn’t believe I had created all by myself. Of course in reality it was probably the easiest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life, practically kinda sorta.IMG_2540

These really are some of the easiest treats I’ve ever made, but they taste so fantastic! According to my (questionably hyperbolic) father, they just might be “the best” things I’ve ever made. The frozen banana tastes remarkably similar to vanilla ice cream, tucked inside a shell of dark chocolate with just a hint of peanut butter. The coconut sprinkled on top was the icing on the cake for our family, but if you aren’t a coconut fan (oh, the horror!) just leave it off. Although you probably didn’t need me to tell you that, you intelligent people you.

So basically, in a matter of 15 minutes you can be popping these babies in the freezer. No sink full of dirty dishes, no oven heating up your house, no excessive amount of time suddenly robbed from your day. And you get a ton of frozen chocolate banana bites out of it. You’re welcome!IMG_2556

Frozen Chocolate Banana Bites

2 bananas, sliced into 1/2-inch disks

1 cup chocolate chips

1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter*

Shredded coconut, for sprinkling

Directions:

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper or aluminum foil. Set aside.

Place the chocolate chips and peanut butter in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water (or use a double boiler if you have one). Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Working quickly, use a fork to dip each banana slice in the melted chocolate and coat it entirely, then transfer to the prepared cookie sheet. When all the banana slices are covered in chocolate, sprinkle with shredded coconut if desired.

Put the cookie sheet in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, or until the chocolate has hardened, and then transfer the banana bites to an airtight container. Enjoy these straight out of the freezer!

*If needed, you can omit the peanut butter and melt a teaspoon of butter or coconut oil along with the chocolate instead.

 

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

IMG_2440I’m sitting here in shorts and a tank top, the thermometer reads 78.4 degrees, and I have an awesome tan line on my neck/shoulder from wearing a side ponytail all day while out in the sun (<—fail). So basically, for all us Pacific Northwest wussies, it’s a sweltering summer day. Sorry if you happen to live in Phoenix or something and would give up an arm and a leg to have a 78.4-degree day right about now, but up here in the land of clouds and drizzle we consider this a hot day indeed. Or at least I do. But I still love it!

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Even though I really do enjoy the warmer weather, it certainly doesn’t make me too excited to turn on the oven for a baking project in the middle of the day. Instead I turn toward no-bake desserts like these awesome little energy bites. The good news about these treats is that they aren’t full of fat and sugar to weigh you down. They’re made with a super short list of fresh, healthy ingredients and are gluten-free, vegan, and contain only natural sugars. (If you’re making them gluten-free, be sure to use gf oats!) You do need a food processor for these, but if you don’t have one don’t worry. Just try these other wonderful energy balls instead!IMG_2451

My family went nuts over these cookie-dough-like bites. They’re perfect as an after-dinner treat or as a little snack to pick you up from an afternoon slump. You could even grab a few for breakfast! I love how in a matter of minutes I can be eating these delicious, nutritious little balls in a house that hasn’t turned into a sauna from a 350-degree oven. It’s almost like eating chunks of oatmeal-chocolate-peanut butter cookie dough, but the ingredients are actually good for you…summer eating at its finest!IMG_2444

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

Makes about 24 small bites

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup quick-cook oats

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup dates (about 12 dates, or 86 grams)

2 tablespoons water*

Shredded coconut, mini chocolate chips, or extra cocoa powder for rolling (optional)

Directions:

In a food processor, combine all ingredients except for the water. Process until the mixture clumps together. Add in the water and pulse until incorporated. Pinch off pieces of the mixture and form into small balls (I ended up with about 2 dozen). Roll in shredded coconut, chocolate chips, or cocoa powder if desired. Store the bites in the refrigerator.

*To make the bites a little sweeter, substitute 1 tablespoon agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup for 1 tablespoon of the water

(Recipe adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie)

S’mores Blondies

IMG_2114The 4th of July always seems to signify that summer is really here, although this year I feel like it’s been summer for ages! Coming home from school so early (my last day of classes was May 12th!) kind of messed up my internal calendar, and it’s hard to believe that the season officially started less than two weeks ago. I’ve always loved summer’s ability to make me lose track of what day of the week it is, but this year I’m seriously off…I actually looked up from a magazine the other day and asked my dad, in all seriousness, what year it was. I was convinced that it was 2013, but the article I had just finished reading was dated June 20, 2014. For a minute there I was a little worried that I had either gone temporarily crazy or was reading an article from the future. Apparently it was the former, which is a good thing…I think. We won’t even talk about the time at the end of freshman year when I was throwing out all my old biology papers and saw that I had dated them 2006 (as opposed to 2009) for the entire month of October. Should I be worried? Nah. Maybe….

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Regardless, I love summer. I love the giant produce tent outside the grocery store piled high with flats of local berries and live basil; I love sitting on pieces of driftwood around smokey beach fires; I love the salty smell of sunscreen mixed with seaweed and I love how there always seems to be a thin layer of sand at the bottom of my favorite tote bag, no matter how many times I dump it out.

And, of course, I love s’mores. I still remember my very first s’more, which was assembled right in my very own backyard fire pit back in 2000. It took me a while to figure out what my enlighteners (friends of my parents) were trying to give me…some more? Some more what? No, I’ve never heard of a “some more.” Yes, I am aware that my parents have sheltered me from some of the best things in life, including a wide variety of “too violent” Disney movies and the brightly colored Trix yogurt I recently tried at a friend’s house. (Oh my poor, deprived childhood!) But once I was handed a melty creation of graham cracker, Hershey bar, and toasted marshmallow, my innocence was ruined. It didn’t matter what this thing was called. All I knew is that it was sticky, crumbly, utterly messy and utterly delicious. And that I wanted some more.

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Although there’s nothing quite like a fresh, gooey s’more eaten over a campfire, these bars are pretty darn amazing. They manage to skirt around the messiness factor, yet retain the iconic combination of graham cracker, marshmallow, and milk chocolate. A thick, chewy blondie base is loaded with graham cracker crumbs and sandwiched around a layer of creamy marshmallow fluff and chocolate chips. The resulting bars are packed with the flavor of a s’more, yet in the form of a delicious blondie-s’more hybrid. Bring them along to your next summer gathering for a fun s’more alternative, or just bake up a batch to eat anytime, anywhere. Chances are that if you love s’mores, you’ll go crazy over these!

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S’mores Blondies

Makes 24 bars

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 & 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 7-oz jar marshmallow creme or fluff

2 cups milk chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on the two shorter sides. Lightly grease the foil and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs and vanilla, scraping down the sides as needed.

Stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until combined. Evenly press half the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Drop the marshmallow creme by spoonfuls onto the dough and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Drop the remaining cookie dough onto the surface in clumps, then flatten them slightly. Don’t worry about smoothing the dough over the entire surface; there should be some open areas where the chocolate chips and marshmallow are exposed.

Bake the bars for 30-35 minutes, or until golden-brown. Let them cool in the pan completely, then lift them out by the foil and slice into squares. Enjoy!

(Recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soft and Chewy M&M Cookies

IMG_1370I once read an article that smell is the most powerful sense when it comes to triggering memories. While this surprised me initially, as I thought about it it seemed to be somewhat true. Even though sights and sounds appear to dominate our everyday experiences, smell sure does have a strong connection to memories. I’m sure I’m not the only one who breathes in the scent of fresh pumpkin and is taken back to early days of trick-or-treating, or who takes a whiff of salty, seaweed-y ocean air and remembers long summer afternoons spent at the beach.

Taking it one step further, specific foods always bring to mind certain places for me. Cinnamon rolls, for instance, always remind me of the bakery around the corner from my grandparents’ house. Rainier cherries take me back to the tiny general store near one of the campgrounds I frequented as a child, and tomato-cheddar bagels will always be reminiscent of Bagelopolis, a long-gone favorite breakfast joint. M&M cookies go hand-in-hand with Subway in my tangled repertoire of memories.IMG_1368

Whenever I went to Subway as a child I always ordered the exact same sandwich: Italian bread with yellow mustard and extra American cheese. No meat, no veggies. Just mustard and extra cheese, emphasis on the extra. Two tiny triangles of that delicious plastic-y white stuff just wouldn’t cut it. I used to get so frustrated at answering the same questions over and over: “I’m sorry, what kind of meat?” “No meat?” “Are you sure?” “No veggies at all?” “That’s it?” No meat. That is correct. Yes, I’m sure. No, no veggies. YES, that’s IT. Since eating at Subway was a special occasion anyway, my parents just went along with it, standing patiently as their children’s sandwiches of choice were wrapped up: mustard and (extra) cheese for their little girl and tuna (no cheese, no veggies, no sauce, JUST TUNA) for their little boy.

I always chose Ruffles cheddar & sour cream chips to go with my sandwich, and if my brother and I were lucky we each got to pick out a giant cookie from the tempting glass case next to the cash register. For years, my cookie of choice was always M&M. Who could resist those bright dots of color? Certainly not me! Those soft, chewy, M&M-studded cookies were always the perfect ending to my special lunch (or, if my parents weren’t paying attention, the perfect beginning!) muahaha.IMG_1365

I haven’t had a cookie from Subway in years (nowadays I’m one of those boring whole wheat-turkey-every-veggie-you’ve-got-hold-the-cheese people), but making these homemade M&M cookies brought me back to Subway visits long ago, back when I still got a toy thrown into the bag and extra cheese on my white bread with mustard. If I do say so myself, these cookies are even better than the Subway version. They’re much less dry, and stay amazingly soft for several days due to the pudding mix hidden in the batter. They also have the same great chewy texture as their Subway counterparts, especially around the edges. And of course, they’re packed full of M&Ms–the best part!

These fun (and delicious!) M&M cookies will make you feel like a little kid again, whether you’ve gotten them from Subway or not. (I’ve been told that M&M cookies can, in fact, be found in other places ;).) Enjoy!

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Soft and Chewy M&M Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3.4 oz package instant vanilla pudding mix

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups M&Ms (about 1 medium-sized bag)

Directions:

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix in the vanilla.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, mixing just until incorporated. Stir in 1 & 1/2 cups of M&Ms, reserving the last 1/2 cup. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes to prevent spreading.

When ready to bake, remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicon mat. Scoop the cookie dough into balls (mine were about 1.5 tablespoons each) and place onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 10-14 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies, or until the edges are slightly golden and the tops are set. Keeping them on the under-done side will ensure soft and chewy cookies.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

(Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

Sweet Cherry Galette with Almond Streusel

IMG_0679What you see here is our Father’s Day dessert from the other week. My dad has always been a “pie guy,” and cherry pie just might be his favorite dessert in all the world. It is not an unusual occurrence for us all to be sitting around the living room after dinner when my dad moans out that he “neeeds pie.” Since nine times out of ten he’s the one who jumps up and out the door the minute anyone mentions a needed grocery item, oil change, package mailed, etc., we all try to satisfy his pie cravings now and then.

Of course, a sudden “neeeed” for pie doesn’t leave a lot of any time for homemade pie, so we often have to resort to Marie Callender or those horrid plastic-containered grocery store pies found in the bakery section. Since I’m the only one in my family who bakes, my year away from home resulted in far too many of those pre-packaged pies making their way into our refrigerator. Like many bakers, it pierces my heart to see someone eat a slice of that scary-bright-red cherry “pie” with glee and complete ignorance of what they’re missing. Not that people shouldn’t be satisfied with anything other than homemade, but….they’re just different species, store-bought pie and pie from scratch. Not only is the list of ingredients on the back of those packages far too long and scary-sounding for my liking, but the taste of real buttery crust and fresh fruit just can’t compare. No offense if you happen to love pre-made pies (I’ve certainly eaten my fair share), but my heart will always belong to homemade.IMG_0702

Anyway, it saddened me to think that that my poor father had forgotten what real pie tastes like. So for Father’s Day, there was no doubt in my mind that homemade cherry pie (or in this case, galette) would be gracing our table.

This cherry galette is made with sweet, fresh bing cherries rather than jarred or frozen sour cherries, so it has a rather different taste than “regular” cherry pie. I wouldn’t say it’s better or worse; it’s like comparing apples and oranges. While sour cherry pies have that distinct tart flavor and a syrupy filling, this sweet cherry galette is more mild and fresh-tasting. I love both, but I’m partial to fresh, sweet cherries in the spring and summer, so I bought a bag of beautiful bing cherries and got to work. Naturally, as I was in the middle of pitting the cherries (using a hard plastic straw as a makeshift cherry-pitter) I looked down and realized I was wearing a white shirt. I swear, every.single.time I pit cherries I happen to be wearing white. It’s ridiculous, I tell you!

The crust of this galette is tender and flaky, and the secret addition of cornmeal adds a little somethin’-somethin’ to the texture and the flavor. However, in my mind the real star of the show is the cherries, which are combined with minimal ingredients to really let their flavor shine through. I topped the galette with a generous sprinkle of almond streusel, and the almond flavor marries perfectly with the cherry. Each bite of buttery crust, juicy cherries, and crumbly topping will leave you wanting another…and another. I added a scoop of vanilla bean gelato to each piece as well, which only made it more swoon-worthy. The entire galette was eaten up in less than 48 hours (by 4 people, I might add–and I only had a sliver)!

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Being a fruit girl (as opposed to a crust girl), one of the reasons I love galettes is for their greater ratio of filling-to-crust, since a galette is basically an open-faced pie. Another reason I make them more often than pies is for their simplicity: they’re supposed to look rustic (read: messy), and you don’t have to worry about perfectly crimped edges or smooth tops. All you do is roll out a single crust, plop the fruit filling in the center, and fold up the extra crust toward the center. In this case, folds and creases are what you’re going for, which is a total dream-come-true for anyone who tends to avoid making finicky pie crust. Not that I have any personal experience with fears of pie crust, but you know…

Yet another beauty of galettes is their adaptability–you can substitute the cherries for virtually any fruit, and the streusel can be played with as well. You can use all butter instead of the almond paste, use a different type of nut, or leave out the almonds all together and sub in some oats. Still, I must say that we certainly loved this combination of cherries and almond streusel, and it made for one very happy father on his special day!

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Sweet Cherry Galette with Almond Streusel

For the crust:

1 & 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup yellow cornmeal

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup very cold butter, cut into small chunks

1/3 cup cold buttermilk*

For the fruit filling:

1.5 pounds (about 3.5 cups) fresh bing cherries, pitted and halved

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

For the streusel:

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon almond paste (you can substitute with butter)

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons sliced or slivered almonds

For assembling:

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon warm water

Extra sugar, for sprinkling

*You can make your own buttermilk by putting 1/4 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice into a 1/3 cup measure, and then filling the cup with regular milk. Let sit for 5 minutes or so, until the milk curdles, then proceed to use.

Directions:

For the crust, whisk together the flour, sugar, cornmeal, and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut in the cold butter until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Slowly pour in the buttermilk, tossing with a fork until the dough holds together. Then pat it into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 45 minutes.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Let the dough stand at room temperature for 5-10 minutes, then turn out onto a floured surface and roll it into a 14-inch round. Carefully transfer the crust onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon mat, then place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

While the oven is preheating and the crust is chilling, make the cherry filling. In a large bowl toss together the pitted cherries, sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, salt, vanilla, and almond extract. In a smaller bowl, use a fork (or your fingers) to combine the streusel ingredients until they clump together.

Remove the crust dough from the refrigerator and pile the cherries into the center, leaving a 1.5-2 inch border around the edges. Fold the excess dough toward the center, smoothing down the creases where the dough overlaps. Sprinkle the streusel over the top of the cherries. Brush the egg mixture onto the crust and sprinkle the crust with granulated sugar.

Bake the galette for 45-60 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly. Place the cookie sheet on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes, then slide the galette directly onto the rack to cool completely.

Slice and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.

(Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod and Kitchenette)

 

 

Flourless Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Banana Muffins

IMG_0388First of all…Happy 2nd Anniversary to Emma’s Baking Addiction! I can’t believe that two years ago I sat down and created a WordPress account with no idea what I was doing. Sometimes I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, but it’s been fun :)

These muffins were made with my mother in mind. My poor gluten-free, dairy-free mother, who has to watch as piles of cookies, ice cream, brownies and other taboo treats fill our kitchen, knowing she can’t have them. She never complains, not once, but I try to make sure that I create a fair share of gluten-free, dairy-free baked goods as well.

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The last mom-friendly treats I made were these awesome little energy balls, but they were eaten up in approximately 12 seconds, give or take a couple days. The problem with gluten-free treats is that they are also accessible and perfectly acceptable to the gluten-eaters in the house, and unless I clearly label treats as being “FOR MOM” (or hide them), they disappear way too quickly. Which is why, after the last three blog posts centered around cookies and ice cream, it was time to make these muffins.

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What these muffins do have: peanut butter, chocolate, & banana (one of the ULTIMATE flavor trios), heart-healthy flaxseed, and a handful of other healthy ingredients. What these muffins do not have: FLOUR, gluten, dairy, or more than two tablespoons of refined sugar. What these muffins require: a bowl, a spoon, a muffin tin, and some measuring cups. That’s it! They don’t require worrying about over-mixing (which can create tough muffins, but ONLY if there’s gluten involved) or dirtying up a million little bowls and spoons. Easy as cake muffins!

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The best part is that, despite their considerably healthy list of ingredients and their lack of flour, these muffins are not lacking in flavor or texture! They have a wonderful soft, dense-yet-springy texture and are smooth and rich. The peanut butter/chocolate/banana flavors really shine through, and the muffins are full of flavor but not overly sweet. They were a huge hit in our house for both the gluten-free eater (my mom) and all the other eaters. They were so popular, in fact, that I had to take my mother aside and let her in on my little secret: I had snatched a few muffins from the communal container and hidden them away in a tupperware in the freezer. That way she could snack on them whenever she saw fit, safe from all other muffin-eaters. If you feel the need to hide away a few of these muffins for yourself, you won’t see me judging you!!

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Flourless Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Banana Muffins

1 cup mashed banana (from about 2 medium-large bananas)

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup honey or agave nectar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed (optional)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin.

Mix together all of the ingredients in a large bowl until well-combined. Divide evenly among muffin cups, filling about 3/4 of the way. Bake for 5 minutes, then decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the muffin tops spring back when lightly touched and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in the muffin tins for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edges of each muffin and carefully remove to a cooling rack. Store the muffins in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

(Recipe inspired by Averie Cooks and Detoxinista)