It’s sunbutter and jelly time!

You knew this was going to happen right?  And, can anyone explain to me why it’s a banana doing the dance?

Anyway.

If  you’ve been around for a while you know I love back to school time.  Summer is a’right I guess, but fall is where it’s at.

And so, in the tradition of new school shoes and fresh notebooks, I give you this year’s lunchbox treat.

What could be more back to school than peanut butter and jelly? Turns out, most things–unless you want a call from your child’s principal about breaking the nut free zone policy.

What’s a kid to do?

This is where sunbutter saves snack time.  Made from sunflower seeds rather than tree nuts or the dreaded P legume, some schools allow this creamy (or crunchy) peanut butter stand-in.

Paired with your jam or jelly of choice (you could even wax healthy and go no sugar added), these make a hearty school lunch or after school treat (and will save well for care packages).

These aren’t delicate little fancies.  They’re hearty, slightly sweet and nutty.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that if you fed one to a kindergartener, they might not be hungry until the fifth or sixth grade.

Happy back to school everyone!

Sunbutter and Jelly Bars

adapted from Ina Garten’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb, 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temp
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs at room temp
  • 2 C creamy sunbutter (just use the entire jar–mine was 16 ounces)
  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 C of your favorite jam (I used grape here because it’s tradition but would have rather used strawberry or raspberry, just my opinion)
  • 1/4 C roasted and salted sunflower seeds tossed in 2 TBS granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9X13 inch pan with parchment paper then grease entire pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a Kitchenaid fitted with a paddle, cream together butter and sugar until mixture is light, about two minutes.
  4. Turn speed to low and add vanilla and eggs one-at-a-time.  Add peanut butter and mix until well combined.
  5. With mixer on low, slowly add flour mixture.  Mix until just combined.
  6. Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared pan using a knife (offset is easiest) to spread it evenly.
  7. Spread the jam evenly over the dough.
  8. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the  jam.  Don’t worry if the topping doesn’t cover the jam completely.
  9. Sprinkle with sunflower seed and sugar mixture.
  10. Bake for 45 minutes until top is golden brown.  A note on this–start checking at 35 minutes–the last two times I’ve made this recipe they were perfect at 38 minutes.
  11. Allow to cool completely.  Cut into bars and store in air-tight container.

Caramel slice

Ah the caramel slice, or, in Misanthropic Hostessland, the baked good formerly known as JB Bars.

Way back when I first encountered these, I thought the middle was a penuche, or brown sugar fudge. While I’m a fan of the penuche variation, the mana-like substance that makes up the middle layer of this variation is actually a caramel made of sweetened condensed milk.

Think dulce de leche.

Ah!  Now I have your attention.

In this take on the treat, the shortbread base includes coconut.  If you haven’t already clued-in,  coconut is like the Australian version of Frank’s Hot Sauce.  They put that s*&t in just about everything.

But back to the caramel.  In this version, sweetened condensed milk is heated along with some butter and golden syrup (also in everything Australian) until everything is combined.  Then it is baked on top of the shortbread base until it looks like Deadpool without the mask.  Trust me, though it be ugly, it’ll taste exactly like you imagine Ryan Reynolds tastes.

I had a tough time getting this part just right.  I went through four iterations before I was brave enough to leave it in the oven long enough to let it set up.

Once cooled, the unsightly caramel gets a gorgeous layer of chocolate.

The recipe below makes a 9X9 inch square.  It won’t seem like enough–but –cut these into 1X1ish inch squares.  The term decadent could take a lesson from these bad boys.

Store them in the fridge.  However, they’re safe at room temp (they’ll just loosen up a little…kind of like I do when thinking about what Ryan Reynolds smells like).

Speaking of Ryan Reynolds–TD and I saw the most recent Deadpool movie in Australia.  Guess what?  Not the least bit different from going to the movies in the U.S.

Caramel Slice

Recipe cobbled together from several.  Read through before you start baking!

Ingredients

for the shortbread base

  • 1 C (150G) all purpose flour
  • ½ C (40G) desiccated or shredded and chopped coconut
  • 1/2 C (about 125G) unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ C (90G) golden brown sugar

for the caramel

  • 1/2 C (about 125G) unsalted butter
  • 2 X 395G cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 C (115G) golden syrup (light corn syrup will work)

topping

  • 1/2 C (200g) semisweet chocolate, chopped or chips
  • TBS vegetable oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line 9X9 pan with parchment going both ways so that there is 2 inches overhanging the lip of the pan all the way around (see photo above).  Oil parchment
  2. Sift flour into a medium sized bowl.
  3. Add-in coconut butter and brown sugar until everything is just combined (dough will be very soft and moist–it won’t feel like shortbread)
  4. Press dough into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes until golden on top.
  5. While base is cooking, melt butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on very low heat.
  6. Stir-in milk and golden syrup.  Bring heat up to low-medium and stir for 8 minutes until mixture is slightly thickened (the difference is subtle).
  7. Once shortbread base is out of the oven, pour caramel over.  Return to oven and bake for at least 30 minutes.  The top should be golden and while it will still have some jiggle, it shouldn’t be liquid.  Err on the side of over-done here.
  8. Refrigerate until completely cool.
  9. Melt chocolate and vegetable oil together.  Pour over chilled caramel.
  10. Refrigerate until set-up (ideally at least a couple of hours)
  11. Cut into 1 inch slices (you’ll be tempted to go bigger but these are very rich).
  12.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
  13. Will keep up to 5 days.

Is it a cookie or is it porn?

We’re still in Australia.

I spent the first half of my trip to Australia in Sydney for work.  We were based right in the middle of the CBD with access to all of the great shops, restaurants and, of course, coffee spots.

Australians take their coffee very seriously.  Home of the flat white, Australia has a vibrant coffee culture and with it, all of the bits and goodies associated with a strong cup.  It was early in the week and my travel partner (and frequent Australia traveller) noted that she was on the hunt for a melting moment.

“A what?” I asked as my 15-year-old-boy mind immediately went somewhere sexual.

Much to the disappointment of my pubescent brain, a melting moment is not a sex toy, but a sandwich cookie.

Often lemon, these little treats entail two shortbread cookies that bookend a generous dab of buttercream filling.  Once identified, I saw them at just about every coffee shop, bar and kiosk, often stacked invitingly in big glass jars.

Turns out, melting moments are also known as Yo-Yos.  In fact, they are the first recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh’s 2017 volume, Sweet.  Helen Goh is the pastry chef for Yotam Ottolenghi’s namesake restaurant, Ottolenghi, in London.  And, she’s originally from Australia.  This is a fantastic cookbook and while it was already sitting on my shelf before I left for Australia, it wasn’t until earlier this summer–and after I made the batch shown here–that I discovered her recipe (more on this cookbook and my current favorite chocolate cake in a couple of weeks).  The recipe below is actually modified from a mango version I found on Food 52.

Now that I know about Ms. Goh’s  Yo-Yo recipe, I promise to make them as well.  In the name of research of course.

Melting Moments

adapted just slightly from a recipe for Mango Melting Moments   by Emiko on the Food 52 site.

makes 12 completed cookies (this recipe doubles well)

Ingredients

For the cookies:

  • 2/3 C (80 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 C (250 grams) of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C (75 grams) cornstarch
  • 1 C (250 grams or 8 ounces) butter, softened
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • Finely grated and then chopped zest of 1 lemon

For the lemon buttercream:

  • 1/4 C (65 grams) butter, softened
  • 1 C (125 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 TBS (or more to taste) fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 320° F (160° C).  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment
  2. Sift sugar, flour, and cornstarch together in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter, vanilla, and lemon zest. When creamy and soft, combine with the flour mixture and begin folding together with a spatula or by hand. Continue combining the mixture until you have a perfectly smooth, soft ball of dough. Be patient, it will take a few minutes.
  4. Roll into walnut-sized balls or use (try to get the same size each time; about 2 level teaspoons-worth is ideal) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart.
  5. With the tines of a fork (easier if you dip the fork into flour each time), gently flatten each ball until the cookie is about 1/2-inch thick (it will spread a little more when baking and you do want these fairly thick rather than thin).
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cookies are still very pale but feel dry to the touch. They will still be quite delicate and soft, so let them stand on the tray for 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. They will harden when cooled.
  7. Make the lemon buttercream by whipping the butter, sugar, and lemon juice together until smooth and creamy.  While called buttercream, the consistency will be more like play dough.  Roll small 1/4 tsp-sized balls of buttercream and place in the center of half of the cookies.  Gently top with the other half, pressing down until the buttercream reaches the edges of the cookies.   Let them set in the fridge in an airtight container for 30 minutes before serving. They will keep a few days stored like this, but make sure to bring them back to room temperature before serving. Plain cookies without the buttercream will keep 1 week in an airtight container.

 

No hedgehogs were harmed…

Continuing our tour of Australian treats!

While in Melbourne we visited the Queen Victoria Market several times. Like Vancouver’s Public Market, Florence’s Mercato de San Lorenzo or even Los Angeles’ own Original Farmer’s Market ,  Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market is an eclectic circus of produce, fish, meat, and bespoke food stuffs.

While it was delightful pursuing the long rows of fresh produce and authentic Australia goods (kangaroo paw anyone?), our true fascination (read infatuation) was with the collection of tiny fine goods stalls in the original building.

We spent a good deal of enjoyed time oggling the fresh cheese, pasta and cured meat stalls.

And of course there were the patisseries and bakers.  It was while TD was standing in line for his daily flat white that I spied a new-to-me treat at one such shop.  The handwritten card labeled the brownie type good as “hedgehog slice.”  Intrigued, I bought a wedge of the zebra (not really hedgehog) like confection.

First things first, the term “slice” appears in tandem with many Australian treats: hedgehog slice, caramel slice, cherry ripe slice, lemon slice, jelly slice…you get the idea.  Generally, slice in Australia seems to fall into the same category as square or bar here in the U.S.

Sometimes slice is baked, while other times, like with the hedgehog, things are just sort of thrown together and then refrigerated (kind of like magic or nanaimo bars).

And, as with nearly every Australian baked good and candy we encountered, coconut plays a central roll.  Our first impression (in the name of research) of hedgehog slice was that they were a sort fudge with vanilla cookie bits lightening up the deal (bet you never thought you’d see “cookie bits” and “lightening things up” in the same sentence).

Luckily, a review of recipes revealed that these are even easier to make than fudge.  They require no baking and can be infinitely varied (I suggest subbing-in Tim Tams for the Marie cookies).

And, like the Anzac biscuits, these were a surprise hit.

About the name.  I couldn’t really find a single answer as to why they’re called hedgehog slice.  In fact, hedgehogs aren’t even native to Australia.  Of course, neither are the British.

Hedgehog Slice

source: I tried out a couple of methods for making hedgehog slice.  The method using sweetened condensed milk was delicious but didn’t set-up properly.  The recipe below worked well the first, second and third times I tried them.  As what happens with recipes, several I came across referred back to an original posting in a magazine called Women’s Weekly.  The recipe below is a repost from a blog called Honey Kitchen

I’ve converted the appropriate measurements to US customary

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ x 200g packets Marie biscuits, coarsely chopped
  • 1 C chopped walnuts
  • ½ C desiccated coconut (shredded works just fine)
  • 250g  (about 1 1/4 C) butter, chopped
  • 1 ¼ C granulated sugar
  • 1/3 C cocoa powder
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 150g  (3/4 C) dark chocolate, melted
  • ½ tsp vegetable oil

Directions

  1. Grease a 9X9 pan and line base and two long sides with parchment paper, extending paper 2cm above edges of pan.
  2. Combine biscuits, nuts and coconut in large bowl.
  3. Place butter, sugar and sifted cocoa in a medium pan; stir over heat until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; whisk in egg.
  4. Pour chocolate mixture over biscuit mixture; mix well. Press into prepared pan. Cover; refrigerate overnight.
  5. Turn slice onto a chopping board; cut into pieces. Spoon combined warm, melted chocolate and oil in a small snap-lock plastic bag. Squeeze chocolate to one corner; twist bag, then snip tip of bag. Drizzle chocolate over top of slice; refrigerate for 15 minutes, or until chocolate is set.

And the meek (biscuit) shall inherit the earth

I was lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks in Australia last May.  The first week was work in Sydney and then I flew over to Melbourne and met TD for a little RNR.

We’d been to Melbourne before but left behind some unfinished business in the form of the Great Ocean Road as well as a host of untried restaurants, as yet to be imbibed cocktails and un-strummed scenic fall strolls.

We enjoyed ourselves immensely.

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I like to pick up a few new recipes while in-country as opposed to hauling back souvenirs.  This practice helps keep my luggage weight under control and is a delightful excuse to try exotic treats in the name of research.

To wit, our last trips to Australia yielded a batch of Lamingtons, Cherry Rip Bonbons and Jude Bolton Bars.

Funny thing about those Jude Bolton Bars…I actually met him while in Sydney during this trip.  The faculty I was traveling with arranged to have him meet our group while we were touring the Sydney Cricket Grounds, where the Australian Football League’s Sydney Swans call home.  My faculty friend is friends with Mr. Bolton and in the days leading up to the visit, she sent him the post I wrote.  Now, it’s been a few years so I’ll remind you, the post was written as a humorous but genuine tribute to Jude’s…athletic superiority.  It was also not meant to be read by him.  Nor did I intend to ever meet him in real life.

When the moment of the meeting came, we were both embarrassed.  His embarrassment was charming.  Mine was that of a dirty old woman who had been caught, literally, with her hand in the cookie jar.  Thanks JP.

But anyway.  Back to baking.

The first recipe I “brought back” with me from Australia is for Anzac biscuits.  I’d heard of Anzac biscuits prior to our trip–mostly through literature.  I swear there is mention of them in M.L. Steman’s, Light between the Oceans.  And there is an entire scene about them in Liane Moriarty’s The Hypnotist’s Love Story (one of my favorites of hers).

Since they aren’t as well known here in the States, I’ll give you the two sentence explanation.  ANZAC stands for Australia New Zealand Army Corps. During World War I, families would pack their soldiers these oatmeal-coconut cookies in care packages because while they would harden, they wouldn’t spoil.    Australian’s celebrate ANZAC Day each year in late April.  Similar to Memorial Day in the U.S., the day is one of remembrance for those who fought and died in any conflict for Australia or New Zealand.

I’ll admit, I completely underestimated these wholesome little treats.  I thought they’d be fun to make once and then I’d be done with them.  Well, I was wrong.  These seemingly simple biscuits are rich and flavorful.  The oatmeal gives them a bit of heft while the coconut and brown sugar make them taste like an exotic far-off-island (or in this case, island nation).  Need further proof that you should make these?  Several people asked me for the recipe.  That never happens!

Anzac Biscuits

(read through the ingredients and my notes first–these call for a couple of unusual additions).

Ingredients

  • 1 C rolled oats (in reviewing recipes I saw calls for both old fashioned and quick cooking.  I opted for old fashioned because I wanted the additional texture)
  • 1 C all purpose plain flour
  • 2/3 C golden brown sugar
  • 2/3 C desiccated coconut (desiccated coconut is hard to find.  The first time I made these I ordered the coconut via Amazon.  After that I just chopped up unsweetened shredded and hoped for the best.  It’s work just fine so far)
  • 1/2 C or 1 stick of  butter chopped
  • 2 TBS golden syrup (you can find this on Amazon.  If you aren’t committed to tryin golden syrup, sub-in corn syrup)
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. Line 3 baking trays with parchment.
  3. Fold together the oats, flour, sugar and coconut in a bowl.
  4. Add butter, syrup and 2 tablespoons of cold water to a saucepan over medium heat.
  5. Stir for 2 minutes or until butter has melted.
  6. Stir in baking soda
  7. Add the butter mixture to the dry ingredients and fold until combined.
  8. Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls. (as a note, the uncooked cookie balls freeze well)
  9. Place on trays, 2 inches apart and flatten slightly.
  10. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden.
  11. Leave on the baking trays for 5 minutes.
  12. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Holiday 2017

As I walked into our student store the other day (I work on a college campus), I was  blasted simultaneously by air conditioning (yes!) and Christmas music (whaaat?). Turns out they were having a Christmas in July sale.

If you can believe it, I’ve already begun the pre-planning (otherwise known as daydreaming) phase of my holiday baking.

Which has reminded me that I have a blog.

That hasn’t been updated since December of last year.

I don’t really have an explanation.

But I do have a nice little back log of posts at the ready.

For this post, I present an array of marginally mediocre snaps from our 2017 holidays.

Amazing effort on your first post of 2018 you say.  I don’t disagree.  But anyhow.  Holidays 2017:

There was baking.

And candy making.

And packaging.

And boxing.

About the time all that was done, my family arrived.

So there was more baking.

And some holiday decorations.

And butter trees.

Then there’s this. That’s TD.  In our as-yet-to-be-landscaped side yard. In a cougar ski mask, holiday appropriate t-shirt and thermo BBQing gloves.

Rest assured, he was the only one of us wearing a costume.

 

 

Puttin’ suckers in fear

Photo circa 2014.

Don’t call it a comeback (but it really is)
I’ve been here for years (just haven’t had a kitchen)
I’m rocking my peers (with baked goods that is)
Puttin’ suckers in fear (literally, no sugar source is safe)

Song credit: Mama Said Knock You Out, L.L. Cool J.

On Saturday, October 14, 2017, after a three year hiatus, I officially kicked off my 2017 holiday baking.  If you follow me on Instagram (@tmhostess), you’ve already been harassed by the crappy instastories and mediocre ‘grams. I’ve even got a hashtag going: #misanthropichostessholidaybaking2017. #worsthashtagever.

While I plan to keep most of the visuals on Instagram, I thought it would be fun to include Holiday Baking 2017 analytics.  And of course, a contest.

First the analytics.  I’ve created a separate page on this site with a live feed of my baking analytics.  That’s right, real time baking data on:

  • Running total of units in-production and completed
  • Running total, pounds of butter used
  • Running total, pounds of sugar used
  • Running total, pounds of chocolate used
  • Running total, pounds of nuts used

To follow along at home, go here:

2017 Holiday Baking Analytics

Each Tuesday I’ll upload some photos and remind you of where to go to see the latest stats (because I’m a data pimp).

A box (or extra box) of goodies goes to the person who can get closest to the sum below without going over:

  • Total pounds (lbs) of: butter + sugar + nuts + chocolate

If you want to play along, cast your vote via comment to this post no later than midnight, November 9th.

Here we go, here we go, here we go again…

Chai Butternut Squash Muffins

Brace yourself.

This is the annual post where I talk about how much I don’t like squash or root vegetables  and then incorporate it into a recipe (the eve of the fall equinox seemed appropriate). You know, just like I did with these carrot cupakes , pumpkin oatmeal cookies, pumpkin blondies, and zucchini brownies.

I’m nothing if not consistent.

This year I’ve chosen butternut squash as my quarry.  To be fair, I actually like butternut squash. Especially in savory dishes like lasagna and ravioli.

I should have a good story about adding in the chai, but I don’t.  It just seemed like a complimentary set of flavors.

Somewhere I read that if you put uncooked rice in the bottom of your muffin cups it will absorb some of the grease that appears on the papers.  It wasn’t life changing, but it did work pretty well.

I was cruising the bulk aisle in our local Sprouts, spied some roasted, salted pepitas and thought it would be fun to sprinkle some on top.  It wasn’t until later that it occurred to me that putting pumpkin seeds on top of butternut squash muffins might be construed as false advertising.

You know, it’s all gourd with me.

TD said these were like “fall in his mouth.”  Of course this was then followed by an un-printable list of other things he said he’d like to put in his mouth and book ended with “if you know what I mean.”  Yes, I’m married to a 12 year old. But, you knew that already.

Happy autumnal equinox!

Chai Butternut Squash Muffins

adapted from Food and Wine

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon crushed chai tea (from 3 bags)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1C butternut squash puree (make your own or buy it canned)
  • 1 1/3 C  all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Roasted and salted pepitas or nuts of your choice

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°,  line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil liners.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the chai tea.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar, butternut squash puree and chai butter until smooth. Whisk in the flour, baking soda and salt until incorporated.
  4. Scoop the batter into the muffin cups and top with the pepitas.
  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  6. Transfer the muffins to a rack to cool completely before serving.

 

Ginger and peach muffins

So there I was on a Thursday evening, all set to make White on Rice Couple’s ginger and peach muffins when I realized I did not follow my own golden rule.  I did not have all of the ingredients on hand before turning on the oven.  Sigh.

In fact, not only was I short on ingredients for the target recipe, but I also discovered that the only dairy I had in the house was half a cup of Greek yogurt left over from a Blue Apron recipe.

It was getting late and I needed muffins for a meeting bright and early Friday AM.  So, I set off looking for peach recipes that only needed four ounces of dairy.

The internet is a vast and wonderful landscape and in very little time I found a base recipe at Sally’s Baking Addiction.  And as a bonus, this recipe offers a rich cinnamony streusel as topping. I don’t know about you, but you could put streusel on top of an open can of Fancy Feast and I’d eat it.

Of course I played with this recipe a bit and subbed-in some oat flour (per the White on Rice Couple) for some of the AP.

I also added half a cup of crystallized ginger.  Yeah I know, I put that s*&t in everything.

These were really good and made the house smell like what I imagine heaven smells like.

Peach and ginger streusel muffins

adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients

Crumb Topping

  • 1/3 C (67g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 TBS (15g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 C (60g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 C (84g) all-purpose flour

Muffins

  • 1/2 C (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 C (100g) packed golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 C (50g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • 1/2 C (120g) plain yogurt–Greek or regular, your call
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 C (220g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C oat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) milk (any kind)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups peeled, chopped peaches (3 peaches)
  • 1/2 diced crystalized or candied ginger

Directions

  1. For crumb topping: In a medium bowl, combine  sugars, the cinnamon, and melted butter. Stir in the flour. The crumb topping will be thick and crumbly. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Spray a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat on high until creamed, about 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  5. Add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute, then turn up to high speed until the mixture is combined and uniform in texture. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  6. In a large bowl, toss together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, all-spice, and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and slowly mix with a whisk. Add the milk, gently whisking until combined and little lumps remain. Fold in the peaches with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
  7. Spoon the muffin batter evenly between all 12 muffin tins. There may be enough to make a 13th muffin in a 2nd batch, depending if there were a few extra peach chunks thrown in. Fill the muffin tins until they are full all the way up to the top. Press a handful of the crumb topping into the top of each; crumble it with your hands to make some big chunks.
  8. Bake for 5 minutes at 425F degrees, then keeping the muffins in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 350F degrees and bake for 15-19 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Browned butter and rye summer fruit shortbread

I’ve been playing with browned butter and rye flour over the last couple of weeks.  Sometimes, when I get something in my head, I just have to iterate until whatever the seed that’s been planted either blossoms or dies out.

While I’m not nearly done with either browned butter or rye flour, I thought this little seedling was worth sharing.

You all know I totally crush on Smitten Kitchen’s Deb Perlman.  Her presence on Instagram and Instastories has only made my grow creepier.

A few weeks ago, her recipe for peach shortbread popped up and I knew this was a great place to start. This time of year, summer fruit is just too good to not…The recipe already had browned butter as an ingredient (though regular butter would be just fine if you were in a pint for time).  I added in the toasted rye flour after hearing about the technique on Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street podcast. I used one-part toasted rye flour to three parts all-purpose.

As for the fruit, I used what I already had on hand, specifically: a peach, a nectarine and a couple of cups of blueberries.  I didn’t touch the stone fruit before slicing and fanning them onto the shortbread base,  but I did reduce the blueberries so that they were dark and jammy and wouldn’t add too much moisture to the shortbread.

Plumbs would be gorgeous and delicious in this recipe.  So would crisp and tart apples later in the fall. Oohh–or persimmons (note to self). And, just think of the possibilities with roasted strawberries and rhubarb in the spring.

While it takes a planning ahead to brown the butter and toast the flour, this recipe pulls together easily and would be a smash at an end-of-summer BBQ or in a lunchbox.  While they were great they day they were made, I think these summery bars were even better the next day.  Just store them in the fridge in an airtight container.

Browned butter and rye summer fruit shortbread

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 C (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
  • 1 C white sugar
  • 1 tsp  baking powder
  • 2 1/4 C all purpose flour
  • 1/2 C plus 2 TBS rye flour
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 peaches, pitted and thinly sliced (between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thick)–or nectarines or plumbs (you’ll probably need three of these).  If you go the blueberry route, use three-four cups and reduce first.

Directions

to brown your butter

  1. Cut up cold butter and add to a small, heavy-bottomed sauce pan.
  2. Place over medium-low heat.  Allow butter to melt and then foam (it’ll make an odd squeaking noise).  Once the foam clears, stir constantly, bringing up the brown bits with a wooden spoon.  It will begin to darken and smell nutty (best smell ever).  When it reaches a light brown, remove from heat and strain into a heat-proof bowl over a fine-meshed strainer.
  3. Place in freezer for 30 minutes or in fridge.

for shortbread

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly spray a 9X12 pan with oil.
  2. Add rye flour to large frying pan and set over medium heat.  Stir constantly for 4-6 minutes until the flour smells strongly of popcorn.  Remove from heat and allow to cool a couple of minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, baking powder, salt, spices and flours with a whisk (this should help the rye flour cool down completely).
  4. Cut up brown butter into 3/4-1-inch pieces.
  5. Using a pastry cutter, forks and/or your fingers, blend first the egg and then the browned butter into the flour mixture.  The butter should be pea sized or a little smaller.  The mixture will be crumbly.
  6. Pat 3/4 of the crumbs into the bottom of the pan, pressing it in firmly.
  7. Tile your thinly sliced peaches (or nectarines or plumbs or a combo) across the based in a single layer.
  8. Scatter remaining crust crumbs across the top in an even layer.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes until top is slightly brown and the edges take on a little color (go a couple of minutes longer if you like your shortbread well done like I do).
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting.
  11. If you have the time (and will power), store in an airtight container separating layers with parchment paper in the fridge over night.