Coffee Brittle

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I’ve ventured into the world of even healthier eating and let me tell you, it can be a scary, judgmental, exhausting place.  Suddenly everything gives you cancer and you’re a horrible person if you buy non organic.  I’ve found that I’m somewhere in the middle of people who don’t know or care anything about nutrition and people who are fucking obsessed with it and want the whole world to know about it.

So we have the health jerk nuts…

“Did you make sure this was organic?  Don’t you want to help the environment?  Do you even know how toxic pesticides are to the body?  Where is your tote?” 

I’m poor and I just wanted a pepper.  I promise when I’m a bajillionaire I’ll buy an organic farm and pay everyone double their average wage.  And I’m sorry I don’t carry my fucking tote everywhere I go.  Jeebus.

“You’re actually going to buy those crackers?  They don’t have a “non-GMO” label on them.  Here buy these, they cost three times as much but you’ll feel so much better about it.” 

And on the other side, non health nuts group you in with these health freaks and turn you into one of them.

“Oh they’re selling vegan, gluten free, sugar free cookies.  You’re skinny, I bet you would just love those.” 

I’ve never heard of a more depressing cookie.

“Why don’t you eat meat?  Humans are meant to eat meat you know.  You need a steak, you look a little peaked.”  

I’m sorry is there a sign above my head that says, “I’m trying to make a political statement”?

I’m just having an experience with this non fat Greek yogurt.

Guys I honestly forgot what the point of that first section was.  Oh yes, now I remember it veered tremendously.  But it took a long time so I’m keeping it.  The point of that intro was sugar, I know it was never brought up.  That’s my bad.  See those people talking in the intro, those aren’t people that I know, even though I’m sure they exist.  They’re the two nutritional sides of myself, well that last one is probably more my dad but whatever.

It’s like I’ve got my “id’ side wondering why I’m bothering with all this healthy eating crap, just wanting to eat whatever tastes good.  Paired with my douchey, judgemental “superego” making me second guess every food decision I make.  Meanwhile my “ego,” who apparently identifies as a young male, is caught in the middle wondering what the hell to do.

So that brings me to sugar and this post.  I used to make something similar to this coffee brittle concoction in high school before I became crazy health conscious.  It had been years since I made it and I all of a sudden got the urge for it.  But that judgmental side of me didn’t hesitate for a second.

“You’re going to make what? Candy!? Do you know how much refined sugar is going to be in that?  I guess you could make it sugar free, but that would mean artificial sweeteners and those are supposed to be even worse!”

Finally I got sick of myself for making myself feel guilty for wanting to consume sugar.  It doesn’t make me a bad person and it’s not going to be what kills me.

You know what’s going to kill me?  Stressing about every possible thing that could potentially kill me.

So here’s my coffee brittle recipe.  Yes it has sugar, yes it has calories, and yes I’m deciding it’s guilt-free.  And super yes to the question of how crazy I am.

Recipe:

1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup strong coffee
pinch of salt (no more than 1/8 tsp)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp crushed coffee beans (ground are fine)
1 tbsp butter

Prep your butter, crushed beans, baking soda, and salt.  Also have a baking sheet covered in parchment or wax paper ready.

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Add your sugar and coffee in a pot over medium low heat and stir until dissolved.

After the sugar has dissolved increase the heat to medium high and stir continuously until it reaches 300°.  Try not to splash too much on the sides of the pot, but if you do you can use a wet pastry brush to wash down the sugar granules.  Depending on how high you have your heat it should take about 5 minutes.

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As soon as it reaches 300° remove from heat.

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If you don’t have a thermometer don’t worry.  Get a class of water and periodically drop some of the mixture into the water.  If it hardens immediately and you hear a cracking sound, you’re good to go.  You should be able to pull it out and feel that it’s crunchy.

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Immediately add your beans/soda/salt and butter.  Stir until combined.

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As soon as everything is combined pour it out onto your covered sheet.  It should spread out pretty much on its own but you can help it out with your spoon if you need.

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Allow to harden.  I forgot to time the cooling 30-60 minutes should be fine.  If it doesn’t harden after that then you didn’t cook it high enough.  You can try and put it back on the stove and recook it, but there’s no guarantees with that.

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Break apart and store in an airtight container.

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Chocolate Zucchini Bread

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The base for this recipe is very similar to my banana breads.  So if you make it and wind up liking it you can check those out in the BREAKFAST section.  That being said this is even less sugary than my banana bread recipes.  I’m getting even more off the sugar wagon, not that I was ever really on it.  I guess I looked at it a little too hard sometimes, I don’t know.

I’m not eating much processed sugar these days is what I’m saying, I JUST WANT YOU ALL TO BE AWARE.

I’m kidding.

Yesterday, Justin brought home some summer squashes from the farmer’s market.   Now, I had never had a summer squash before and I barely eat zucchini.  I knew zucchini bread was a thing but  I realized I didn’t know exactly what he had brought home.

After some googling it turns out he brought home 1 zucchini, 1, crookneck, and 1 straightneck.

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So what’s the difference?  It turns out not much of anything.  They’re used completely interchangeably in recipes and all that really differs is the color.  All are called summer squashes and they’re picked while still immature so their seeds and skins are still edible.  The only difference seems to be is yellows tend to have more seeds the larger they are, so look for small ones.

So short story shorter, don’t worry about what kind of summer squash you have, no one will be able to tell the difference anyway.

On to the recipe!

Recipe: (baking time: 1 hour) 

1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp instant espresso powder
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
2 cups summer squash (3 small ones)
1 tbsp chocolate chips

Preheat oven 350°

Sift or whisk together your flours, baking powder/soda, salt, and cocoa powder.

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In a large mixing bowl add your applesauce, sugars, espresso powder, and vanilla.

I usually use multiple kinds of sugar in my baking, I feel you get a better product that way.  Brown sugar makes it moist while white sugar gives it that firmer top at the end.  Granted we’re not adding that much but the idea is there.  If you want more of the effect add 1/4 cup of each, the rest of the recipe should be fine, you made need to add a tbsp or 2 of liquid at the end.

The instant espresso is optional, it just intensifies the chocolate flavor.

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Grate your squashes.

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Because these guys contain a lot of excess water you may want to strain them.  You don’t need them to be completely dry just squeeze the clump with your hand or something, just to get most of the liquid out.

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Add an egg to your sugar/applesauce mix and whisk until just combined.

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Now you’re going to add your flours and squash mix in chunks.

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You don’t need to stir thoroughly in between each addition.

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It’s kind of like a souffle mixing action.

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End with a squash addition.

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End result should be pour-able but not liquidy, thicker than a traditional cake batter.

Taste it!  If it’s not sugary enough for you consider sprinkling a tbsp or 2 of sugar after you put it in your pan.  I’m trying to lower my sugar desires and I found that was a good way to transition.

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Add a tbsp of chocolate chips if you want and bake in your 350° for 1 hour or until a tester comes out clean.

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Let it cool.  Give it at least 20 minutes or the poor thing with fall apart on you.

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Bread like this keeps for a day or two on the counter and up to a week in the fridge.

Enjoy!

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Lemon Lavender Blueberry Scones

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These are a lighter version of a scone.  Shocker, I know.  Check out my Apple Cinnamon Scones, which are also lighter if you’d like.  I bought a bottle of Lavender Bitters a while back and while I love adding a dash of it to seltzers I love baking with it even more.  I also made a batch of Lemon Lavender Banana Bread I thought was divine.  I think lemon and lavender are two flavors just begging to be eaten together and find it very hard not to eat one without the other.  I feel like a high society lady who still only wears white before Labor Day when I indulge in them together.

But that’s just me.

It wasn’t until I was writing this blog post that I realized I completely forgot to add egg to this recipe.  They came out perfectly fine, fine enough for me to not notice there wasn’t egg in them anyway.  So there you go, an eggless scone.    If you want to add egg just decrease the amount of buttermilk to about 3/4 cup, but that might throw off your baking soda levels.  Who knows though, it might make them better.

Recipe: (baking time 18-20 minutes)

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
4 tbsp butter (no salt)
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp granulated sugar, 1 tbsp granulated sugar for topping
1 tbsp lavender bitters (can also use dried lavender)
zest, juice of 1 lemon (reserve a small amount for topping)
1 cup blueberries (fresh, can use dried or frozen)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven 425°

Whisk or sift together your salt, flours, baking powder/soda.

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Get your buttermilk ready.

If you don’t want to use buttermilk you can do the milk and lemon juice trick and since this recipe already calls for lemon juice you can just use that.  Add the lemon juice to your milk and let it sit for 5 minutes.  But really, buttermilk is tasty and you should use it as much as possible.

Also, if you don’t use buttermilk you’re going to continue dicking with your baking soda levels.

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Get your butter ready.  I make my scones like I make my pies and biscuits so I want my butter to be nice and chilled.  I cut it up and dump it in my milk.  Necessary?  No.  But why not?

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Get your blueberries ready.  You can use dried, but dried blueberries make me sad.

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Zest and juice your lemon.  I just do it into my bowl of blueberries, let them start to soak up some goodness.

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Pull out your butter and mix it into your flour using your fingertips or one of those dough thingies.  Just make sure you leave it clumpy and don’t melt your butter with the heat of your hands.

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Make a little well and pour in your buttermilk, applesauce, and 2 tbsp sugar.  Mix those together in the well.  You can do this in a separate bowl if you like, but why dirty another dish?  When your buttermilk is all mixed you can start to combine it with your flour.

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You have two options with adding your blueberries.  You can either add them with your liquid or you can add them in after your dough comes together.  Neither is right or wrong and both have their draw backs.

If you add your blueberries in with the liquid it’s harder to mix the dough as thoroughly because you’re being careful not to break them.  If you add them in after the dough comes together it’s harder to make sure they’re fully integrated throughout the dough.

That being said I added mine in after my dough came together.

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Dough should be stiff and not sticky.  If it’s sticky considering adding a little more flour.

Pour out dough onto lightly floured parchment paper and separate into two equal portions.

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Shape into 6 inch flat dish (making sure there are no huge gaping holes on top) and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tbsp sugar.  I brush the top with my remaining lemon juice/zest and then sprinkle with the sugar.

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Cut into however many scones you want, I go for eight.

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Bake in a 425° for 18-20 minutes until golden.

Scones should look done on all sides.  If you want the more perfect looking blueberry bits then you have to use dried blueberries.  But as I said before, those make me sad.  Frozen will hold their shape a little better than fresh but I like when some of them burst into the scone.

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Enjoy!

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Raspberry Jam Heartbreakers

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Justin named these.  He was really proud of it and didn’t want me to call them anything else.  So that’s where the name came from.

But where did the recipe come from?  Well, like every Valentine’s Day I get the idea in my brain that I like Conversation Hearts.  I start to crave them.  Every time I look at those festive boxes, I want them.  I don’t know why, I don’t even like sugar that much.  Looking back on it, it must be the color.  Those boxes are just so damn cheery.

So like every year, my resolve broke and I bought some Conversation Hearts.  But I didn’t just buy a little box like you used to give to your middle school sweetheart.  Oh, no.  I bought a pound.  Because it said “DAZZLED” on it in big glittery letters and sometimes I am a 5-year old princess and standing under florescent lighting for too long causes me to make weird decisions.

And then after eating three I came to the yearly conclusion that I don’t so much like Conversation Hearts and am now stuck with a pound of them.  So I said screw it, we’re putting them in a recipe.  A sugar cookie sounds good.  But then I realized how much butter goes into a sugar cookie and that idea died quickly.  It’s not so much I hate all things fatty, it’s just butter is frickin’ expensive and I kind of enjoy that Justin and I can share a wardrobe.  So no sugar cookies.

I’m not going to lie, these cookies are weird.  I tried to make them “light” so they’re not a sugar cookie, because a truly light sugar cookie doesn’t exist.  They have a cakey texture and a tang from the jam which is highlighted by the tartness of the Conversation Heart topping (I used tart Conversation Hearts).  Consider them inspiration to do weird things with random candies you find yourself buying and then immediately regret.  Candy corn comes to mind.  I just use that as decoration and cat toys though.

Recipe:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup raspberry jam (no sugar added – or whatever you have)
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp applesauce (no sugar added)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 oz conversation hearts (crushed, mine were tart)

Baking time: 8-10 minutes

Preheat oven 350°

Mix your jam, applesauce, butter (softened), vanilla, and sugar.

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Sift in your flour, baking powder/soda, and salt.

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Mix and then refrigerate until you can roll the dough in your hands without it sticking.  About 30 minutes.

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While your dough is chilling, break your hearts.  Food processor, blender, bashing them in a bag with a marble rolling pin.  Whatever your style is.

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Roll your dough into balls about 1 inch diameter in size and place on lightly greased baking sheet.

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Take a glass and dip the bottom in flour then press the dough balls flat.  It’s like we’re making sugar cookies, but I assure you they will taste nothing like them.

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Sprinkle with your heart crumbles.

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Or you can roll the dough balls in your crumbles and then press.  Or just sprinkle with sugar if you didn’t make a silly candy purchase.

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Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes.  Or until lightly golden.  Mine are a darker color already because I use unbleached flour.

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And done.

The Conversation Heart topping stays crunchy until you store them.  They’re still good when it gets soft, just different.

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Now you can walk the after holiday discounted candy aisle with hope knowing that you too can take unwanted stale candies and shove them in cookies where they probably don’t belong.  At least they look pretty.  🙂

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