spicy hermit cookies

This is called procrastination, people. When you have at least one and a half thousand words to go until you hit the target for the day (25,005 words on the 15th – it’s hump day and it hurts) but you’ve hit writer’s block (hard. ouch) you write about… well… spicy hermit cookies.

It’s National Spicy Hermit Cookie Day. Don’t ask me where, I was just procrastinating, I mean getting lost in the beauty of, I mean, reading Sweetapolita’s blog when she linked me to this site where they have a directory listing of National Dessert Days. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s predominantly US based but they do have National Peach Melba Day (January 13) so there’s hope for us Aussies.

So what, exactly, is a spicy hermit cookie? Well, I searched the interwebs, the fountain of all knowledge, and found this particular recipe on the Joy of Baking. Apparently, they’re called hermit cookies because they keep well, so they’re good to squirrel away, like a hermit, for later.

And they’re spicy.

I didn’t have all the proper ingredients, so I improvised. But they are just as good as real ones, I promise. (She says, having never tried an actual spicy hermit cookie.) Improvisation is encouraged in baking.

Try them! They’re good, I promise. And they’re good for procrastination, too. They are really easy to make and it’s fairly simple to swap some of the ingredients around if you don’t have them on hand.

Spicy Hermit Cookies

Adapted from the Joy of Baking (not to be confused with Joy the Baker.)

Ok, so I didn’t have allspice, so I swapped in ginger and nutmeg. I didn’t have raisins, so I swapped in sultanas. I skipped the dates and used slivered almonds instead of pecans. They’re still good. And a perfect cookie jar cookie.

115g butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1 tsp bi carb soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 cup raisins

1 cup pitted dates, chopped

1 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line two baking trays with baking paper.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, bi carb soda, salt and spices. Fold into butter mixture in two batches. Fold in fruit and nuts.

Drop tablespoons of mixture onto the baking trays and bake 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Let completely cool, then eat with cold milk or store in amazing cookie jar for future munchies.

apple pie

Writer’s block is not fun.

I have plenty of other ways to procrastinate, I don’t have to blog.

Some options include:

Sow seeds (in life and in the ground).

Organise possibility of being a lead tenant for Youth For Christ next year.

Organise possibly extending my trip to Perth so I can hang out with Peace Tree. (and visit Georgia and Dave?)

Study for my quiz tomorrow.

Make more chocolate muffins for September Camp.

Upload my study questions for Sep Camp.

Go for a walk. Or a run. Or do some yoga. Or some other kind of physical exercise to not. stress. out. Because I have this essay I keep procrastinating from doing.

So yeah, I wrote up a complete running sheet for the last few days before camp. I have an illness. I have lists upon lists and I HAVEN’T STARTED MY ESSAY YET (Mum and Dad, just forget you read that, yeah?)

It’s ok, I planned time to write the essay. It’s gonna happen. I haven’t got a back up plan so it HAS to happen (hopefully with little to no effort on my part.)

Besides, I have apple pie to calm my nerves.

Technically, it’s apple and pear pie. I got fruit from the farmer’s market on the weekend because it’s almost not apple and pear season anymore and I wanted pie. I love pie.

And thanks to Pam’s Pie Tutorial courtesy of The Pioneer Woman (thank you, Ree!) I made a perfect pie. I’m not kidding. It tastes amazing, it was perfectly cooked, it looks incredible and it’s just as good cold as hot.

I know. I’ve already had more than I need.

Apple and Pear Pie (two crust)

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Pam says that pie making is not a recipe, it’s an approach. It’s about the technique. So while this is a recipe, it’s a very loose one. Play around. Enjoy. Make pie.

2 1/2 cups flour (plain or pastry)

1 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

250g butter, cold, cut into chunks

1/4 cup ice water

about 6 cups (8 pieces of fruit) fruit, peeled and chopped (if needed)

1/2 cup (more if needed) sugar

2 tbsp cornflour or other thickener

juice of one lemon

2 tsp cinnamon

pinch ground cloves

pinch nutmeg (more than cloves)

Pulse 2 cups flour, salt and sugar in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until it looks like breadcrumbs (alternatively, whisk together dry ingredients and use fingertips to rub in butter.) Pulse in 1/2 cup flour (just) and place in a bowl or on your counter. Sprinkle water over, knead in and form into two discs.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Celsius.

Stir together fruit, lemon juice, thickener and spices. Make sure all the fruit pieces are even and that the mixture coats each piece.

Now, to roll out the dough, take two pieces of parchment paper (or baking paper) and place a dough disk in between them. Roll out to fit your pie pan (this recipe makes enough for one two crust nine inch pie). Place one rolled out disc into the bottom of your pie dish and prick all over with a fork.

Place the fruit in the dish and dot with butter (about four or five tablespoons). Cover with the other half of the dough, rolled out. Crimp the edges however you like and slit the top a few times. (You may choose, as I did, to decorate the top with the scraps of dough left over.) Brush with a beaten egg or some heavy cream.

Bake at 250º for about half an hour, until nicely browned on top. Cover with foil to stop browning and lower heat to 200 degrees for anywhere from 1/2 hour to 40 minutes – apples will need longer, berries will need less.

Let rest for about ten to twenty minutes on the counter before you eat with heavy cream or ice cream.

not your mama’s nutella

Well, unless your mama is Stella of Bravetart. Then, yeah, I stole your mama’s nutella recipe. However, I’m fairly sure Stella doesn’t have kids, so no, this is not your mama’s nutella. Really, it’s not nutella at all, because Nutella is trademarked.

This is a chocolate hazelnut spread that is much better than nutella. Trust me. I know. It took me a while to get there, but it was worth it. (Whether it was worth the procrastination it took – the time away from my essays – only time will tell.) Oh, it was a real hassle but we got there in the end.

So, why make chocolate hazelnut spread yourself, you ask? Good question. The thing is, I’m trying (slowly, painfully, with not much success) to bring my life back to the ground. The earth. So I’m planting stuff and making bread and sitting in the spaces but I don’t have a lot of time and I make a lot of lame excuses.

I want to eat less processed food, more local and organic food. I want to celebrate life properly. It’s a long hard slog but I’m getting there. Sometimes I feel like I say that WAY too much. I’m getting there. Getting to a place where I’m at peace. Getting to the end of my tether. Getting to the top of the mountain. Getting back down again. Getting to God. Getting further away.

Getting there is usually positive, however, because positivity breeds positivity. I am not great at being positive all the time, however, I do my best. And physical activity plus healthy food equals a pretty positive day.

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Adapted from Bravetart

Dude, this was a fiasco and a half, let me tell you. I started off with my sister in the kitchen and I should say right here, I am not good at sharing a kitchen with anyone, let alone family. Then the brittle didn’t become brittle, which I figured out later was because I didn’t cook it enough (so either get yourself a candy thermometer or cook until lovely golden brown) so I got sticky non-brittle EVERYWHERE and then it was like nine o’ clock before I even started the dishes. Oh my goodness.

But was it worth it? Yes, definitely. It’s amazing. Make this, and you will never buy storebought Nutella again.

7 ounces (205 mL) water

15 ounces (425g)

6 ounces (170g) honey or corn syrup

3 ounces (85g) butter

1 vanilla bean

10 ounces (285g) hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed, chopped coarsely

8 ounces (200g) dark chocolate (72% cocoa is preferred) melted and cooled

1 ounce (28g) cocoa powder

3/4 tsp salt

6-8 ounces (170-225g) hazelnut oil (We couldn’t find hazelnut oil in the supermarket so we used macadamia nut oil instead and it was fine. I only used about 5 ounces all up.)

Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape out all the lovely insides and put it into the sugar. Slice the two halves lengthwise again and mince them as finely as you can. Rub all that vanilla goodness into the sugar so you have vanilla sugar (this is also a good way to clean off your hands and knife from all that clingy vanilla bean paste.)

Place the sugar, butter, honey/corn syrup and water into a saucepan. Turn the heat to medium and stir continuously until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil, not stirring, until the mixture reaches about 300 degrees (Farenheit, I think) on a candy thermometer (this is about 150 degrees Celsius) or pale golden brown. Or lovely deep golden brown, if you want to go that way.

Take off the heat and stir in the hazelnuts. As you can probably see from my pictures, I didn’t chop the hazelnuts beforehand but I chopped up my brittle fairly well after it set so it turned out ok.

Grease a baking tray and pour the brittle mixture in.

While you’re waiting for the brittle to set is a good time to melt your chocolate.

When it’s set, carefully remove it from the pan and break it into manageable chunks (I fairly well chopped mine because I was scared my small slightly-cracked-but-still-useable food processor might not hold up to the pressure.) Be careful not to cut yourself on the sharp brittle!

Pulse half the brittle in the food processor. As it keeps running, add in the rest of the brittle piece by piece until it’s pretty much powder. Stop the food processor and dump in the cocoa, chocolate and salt. Keep the processor running until it’s pretty well homogenised, then as it keeps running, carefully pour the oil in until it reaches your desired consistency.

Now is the time you dip everything you can get your hands on into this liquid gold and stuff it in your mouth. Soft white bread, crunchy baguette, chopped fruit – anything and everything tastes better dipped in nutella. Then pour it into jars, seal tightly and keep indefinitely at room temperature.

procrastabaking

I started uni again a couple of weeks ago and just after I started, I discovered this youtube channel and stopped studying before I started.

That’s not entirely true. My general dispensation to stay inside and read, combined with my intense nerdiness which means I geek out over textbooks (textbooks. Not even awesome soon to be published by favourite author who’s going to sign all the first printing of his new book books but textbooks. NERD ALERT) combined with the terrible weather combined with OH MY GOODNESS ALL MY CLASSMATES ARE SMART I NEED TO PROVE MYSELF ness means I still study. But still, I procrastinate. Not only by watching youtube videos but also by baking.

Unfortunately, I seem to be much more able to convince myself not to bake than not to watch youtube (here’s the probable reason why) but fortunately, when I do bake, I make some pretty awesome things.

Like these rolls.

They’re adapted from the most popular recipe on Joy the Baker, Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread, but I made the dough into rolls because I don’t own a loaf pan. Also because I knew that cream cheese glaze would work on cinnamon rolls. Because I still had some left over from when I made carrot pineapple cupcakes.

These were amazing. They are best eaten straight out of the oven, with or without the cream cheese glaze on top (alternatively, for a more complementary cream cheese glaze you can blend the cream cheese with icing sugar and milk until it’s silky smooth and drapes well over the buns.)

This is the song I was listening to when I made the buns:

I freaking love this song!!

And the one I listened to as I ate them:

Clearly I still have some issues to do with procrastination (and perhaps vlogbrothers…) but I have to say, it’s true that when I have to do something, like for uni, I procrastinate, whereas when I do it just for fun, it tends to happen a lot faster. And so I just have to pretend I’m not going to uni and not getting anything for this assessment that’s due in two days, and it’ll happen really quickly! Yay!

It’s been 21 days since the project started and there are some updates, but I don’t want to post twice in one day so you’ll have to wait until an as yet undetermined date. DFTBA.

UPDATE: I wrote this the day the first project incarnation was supposed to “end” but I’m posting it now. Please don’t hate me. The project is failing miserably but I’ll write more later.

Cinnamon Buns

Adapted from Joy the Baker

2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons plain flour

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1/2 tsp salt

200g unsalted butter

1/3 cup milk

1/4 cup water

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

FILLING:

1 cup (approximately) sugar

2 tablespoons cinnamon

pinch nutmeg

 

Whisk together 2 cups of the flour, yeast and salt and set aside.

Whisk together the eggs and set them aside.

Melt the butter with the milk in a saucepan. Let it cool slightly and add the water. Cool so it doesn’t kill the yeast (about room temperature is fine).

Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the milk mixture. Mix it together, then add the eggs and mix them in. Mix until it’s all incorporated, then add 3/4 cup flour and mix until that’s incorporated.

Place the dough in a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel. Leave in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour.

*At this stage, you can refrigerate it until morning.

Deflate the dough (if you’re taking it from the fridge, just leave it out for about half an hour first) and knead in 2 tablespoons of flour. Let that sit for five minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Melt the butter. Butter a large baking dish. (Do this. I didn’t. Do.)

Now, roll out the dough until it’s about 50cmx30cm. Brush it with the melted butter, then scatter the dry filling ingredients all over it. Roll it up into a log and slice into thick rounds. Arrange these on the baking tray and let rise another half hour or so. You can preheat your oven now to 180 degrees C.

*Alternatively, at this point I refrigerated my buns overnight. I let them sit for half an hour in the morning while my oven was preheating, and then…

Bake the buns for about half an hour, until deep golden brown. Share with your housemates. I said share! I know it’s difficult. Do it.

 

 

 

apple cinnamon oatmeal cookies

You know how most people clean the fridge when they’re procrastinating?

Well, that’s me.

The fridge, the kitchen, the bathroom, my bedroom, my clothes, the dishes. Nothing is safe from my cleaning wrath.

To be honest, the main reason I had to clean the kitchen was so I could make more cookies. MORE!?!?!? I can hear you shout from over here. How can you make more cookies?

Simple. People eat them, I make more. We’ve still got some chocolate chip cookies but the rest of them are G-A-W-N gawn. Disappeared. Kaput.

They were just too good.

And also, I’m catching up with the TEAR group tonight so I have to bring something. Have to. Can’t help myself, really. It’s a bit of an addiction.

(For those of you who read into the enneagram system, yes, I am a two. I’m working on it. For those of you who don’t have a clue what I’m on about, I’ll probably write more about it later. Hang in there.)

But hey, I like giving cookies out, people like eating them; it’s a win-win situation. Except these ones I kinda stuffed up.

See, I didn’t pull my cup measure out, I only pulled the half cup measure out, thinking, oh, yeah, I’ll just use two of these for one cup.

I don’t really bother too much about accuracies unless I’m making macarons. Then we get serious.

So I put half a cup of flour instead of one cup. I am, as my father would say, a nuff nuff.

Ah well. The crispy, falling apart first batch will be perfect for both garnishing my breakfast muesli and stirring into ice cream. It’ll be fine.

And the second batch, which took ages to cook because I’d turned the oven down, were perfect. Eat warm. With whipped cream.

I also think these would be great as a muffin. Just add milk, yeah?

Excuse me. I have to go try that now.

Apple Cinnamon Oat Cookies

Adapted from Joy the Baker

125g butter

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract (or half a teaspoon vanilla bean paste)

1 1/4 cups oats (I used rolled; quick cooking is also acceptable)

1 cup flour

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

1 largish apple, peeled, cored and diced

juice of half a lemon

 

Preheat oven to 180º and line two baking trays.

Toss the apple and the lemon together. Set aside.

Beat the butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla, scraping down the bowl, until light and fluffy.

Add the dry ingredients and stir in until just incorporated. (Don’t forget half the flour like I did).

Plop tablespoons of the mixture onto prepared trays. Bake about 10 minutes.