If your bananas are perfect for eating but not ripe enough for baking, no worries! Cook the bananas you need for your recipe in a 300ºF oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Be sure to line the pan with parchment paper or foil as some bananas may leak when cooking. Once the bananas are black and soft, remove them from the oven and let them cool for 20 to 30 minutes. Peel or simply snip the bottom off and squeeze the banana out, and get to baking your banana bread! (via Jane Maynard)
When it comes to dessert, the HuffPost Taste editors have got you covered. Between chocolate brownies, homemade ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, layer cakes and fruit pies, we got dessert on our minds all day long. (And this is not an overstatement.) You could even say that we’re somewhat of experts when it comes to all things sugar ― at least in terms of knowing the best recipes. And so, we thought it only fair to take our dessert knowledge and share it with you.
We’ve put together a collection of the 35 best dessert recipes you can find across all of our favorite food blogs. We’re warning you: these desserts are epic. You will not be able to resist them. So click through the slideshow below, and be prepared to get baking.
50 4-Ingredient Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Stuffed Dates
Cooking is an Art, Baking is a Science. In cooking, you can throw in a handful of herbs or a little more butter, like you were adding a bit more white to fuchsia to get that portrait of a summer dress the right shade of pink. You can make changes as you go with no major catastrophe in the end. In baking, everything matters. Think of baking as chemistry. One small adjustment could be your undoing, but you won’t know it until you pull your cake out of the oven. When making something for the first time, read the recipe thoroughly before you start. Follow every step to a tee. Remember, the recipe developer thought each element was important enough to document, so there must be a reason for it. Let’s look at it another way, let’s say that you were Pablo Picasso, and you were commissioned to do your rendition of the Mona Lisa, it wouldn’t look like Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait, but never the less, it would probably still be considered a great work of art. That’s what cooking is like. Baking is defusing a bomb…one false move and…kaboom! That’s baking! When you try a new recipe, don’t alter the recipe until you’ve made it successfully at least once.
posted in Cakes & Pies, Cookies & Bars, How To
There are different types of flour that we can us when it comes to baking. Wheat, whole-wheat, bleached, gluten-free…when it comes to baking with flour, there are more choices than ever. It’s a big, scary world in the field of flour, so we spoke to four experts: baker Alex Bois of Philadelphia’s High Street on Market (one of our 2014 Best New Restaurants!); Susan Reid, editorial director of Sift (King Arthur Flour’s publication); Alice Medrich, the author of the new alternative (non-wheat)-flour cookbook, Flavor Flours and baker extraordinaire; and Maria Speck, food writer and author of the thoughtfully-researched Ancient Grains for Modern Meals. Tie on an apron–we’re about to take a deep dive into the flour bin.
#### Terms to Know
Whole Wheat vs. White
Wheat’s seed head (the top of the plant) is made from three portions: the germ, the bran, and the endosperm. White flour has been stripped of the bran and germ, leaving behind the fine, pale endosperm. It is more shelf-stable than whole wheat flour, but as a result, has a milder flavor and less nutritive qualities—the bulk of the fiber and protein are contained in the bran and germ. Whole wheat flour is made from grinding all three portions of the seed head. Small-scale millers will often grind the seed head whole, but large, commercial millers frequently separate the portions and then add the bran and germ back in to the endosperm for “Frankensteined” whole wheat flour.
Whole wheat flour is more absorbent than white flour, thus requiring more liquid. This results in extra-sticky doughs that can be challenging for beginning bakers to work with. If you’re interested in making whole wheat bread, swap 25% of your white flour for whole wheat to start, and increase as you become more skilled at kneading a wet dough. Depending on the grind, whole wheat flour can be very coarse, with large pieces of bran. These sharp granules can slice through protein chains, shredding gluten and making bread doughs crumbly, rather than elastic and chewy. Avoid this by not overworking the dough.
You may encounter flour labeled as “white whole wheat.” This is not a bleached flour (see below for more on bleaching). White whole wheat is a whole (endosperm, germ, and bran) flour ground from a paler variety of wheat. It tastes slightly sweeter thanks to a lower tannin content than traditional whole wheat, and contributes to a lighter color in baked goods.
Bleached vs. Unbleached
White flour is sometimes treated by bleaching, either with chlorine or benzoyl peroxide (yep, the same stuff as in zit cream). Bleaching flour damages its starch and protein content, and speeds up the “curing” process, which would occur naturally over the course of a couple of weeks. Cured flour is easier to work with, making doughs less gummy and more malleable. Bleached white flours also absorb more liquid than unbleached white flours, and rise better than whole wheat flours.
#### Wheat Flours
Most of the common types of wheat flour (bread, pastry, etc.) are available as both white and whole wheat.
“If you only stock your kitchen with one variety of flour, it should be AP,” says Reid. All-purpose flour contains just the seed head’s endosperm, making it much more shelf-stable than whole wheat flour. Unfortunately, that also means that it contains less nutritious qualities, like fiber and protein. AP flour can be bleached or unbleached.
Best for: Cookies, bread, baked goods.
Don’t use for: No restrictions, but you should sift it first for very tender baked goods.
With a high protein content, bread flour is made from hard wheat and contains a greater amount of gluten than AP, which is made from softer wheat varieties. When worked by hand-kneading or processing with a dough hook in a stand mixer, the gluten is developed and contributes to a chewier consistency, which is desirable in artisan breads. It brings excellent structure to doughs, making it the “underwire bra of the baking world,” says Reid. Bois prefers to use it just for extra-chewy baked goods, like pretzels and bagels, due to its dense and heavy texture.
Best for: Bread, pretzels, anything chewy and requiring plenty of structure.
Don’t use for: Tender cakes and pastries.
With a fine texture and lower protein content thanks to soft wheat varieties, pastry flour is the go-to for sweets for many serious bakers. Many commercially-available pastry flours are bleached, although both some millers, like King Arthur and Bob’s Red Mill, offer unbleached pastry flour.
Best for: Pie crusts, breadsticks, pound cakes, muffins.
Don’t use for: The lower amount of gluten means that this flour produces bread with less structural integrity.
Similar in protein level to pastry flour (about 8-9%), cake flour is milled to an ultra-fine consistency. It is also traditionally bleached. Bleaching slightly damages the flour’s starches, allowing them to absorb more liquid and rise higher—an ideal quality in lofty cakes.
Best for: Tender cakes, like sponges.
Don’t use for: Cake flour does not produce a good bread product.
Ground to extreme fineness, this flour is made from soft wheat varieties, and is frequently used in Italian pastas. The fineness of the grind makes 00 dough easy to roll to extreme thinness (necessary for pasta).
Best for: Pasta, very thin crusts.
Don’t use for: The grind is too fine for successful bread.
Although there are dozens of alternative flours available, we’ll focus here on the most common. When experimenting with new or unfamiliar flours, use tested recipes for the best result.
Although spelt is technically a form of wheat, it is often considered in the “alternative” flour guide. It’s an ancient grain, and many with sensitivity to conventional wheat products find they’re able to easier digest spelt. It has a mild nuttiness, natural sweetness, and is relatively easy to work with.
Best for: Breads, pizza crusts, cookies
Don’t use for: No major restrictions.
Rye is a grain, although not a subset of wheat. It has a tangy flavor and natural gumminess when processed.
Best for: Breads baked with rye stay fresh longer, and are especially good when made with slightly fermented doughs.
Don’t use for: A 100% rye bread can be challenging for beginning bakers. Start with 25% rye flour and 75% wheat.
Naturally gluten-free, buckwheat flour is blue in hue and has a very nutty flavor. It absorbs lots of moisture, so adjust accordingly when baking—the batter may require extra liquid.
Best for: It makes excellent pancakes, noodles, and dense cakes.
Don’t use for: A 100% buckwheat bread will be very structurally challenging. Try 15-25% buckwheat flour combined with AP flour, says Bois, and work your way up from there as your confidence as a baker grows. It makes crisp and pleasantly crumbly crackers and cookies.
Barley flour has a natural maltiness in flavor, and is low in gluten. Speck recommends letting doughs and batters made with barley flour (and, actually, all whole grain flours) sit overnight. The rest period will soften the bran, make the product easier to work with, and round out the flavors.
Best for: Barley’s malty-sweet flavor makes it ideal for sweet baked goods and cookies.
Do Not Use For: As with other alterna-flours, 100% barley flour does not make for an ideal bread.
Rice flour has a granular, coarse texture and is gluten-free. Combine it with softer, finer oat flour for a more malleable dough.
Best for: Sponge cakes, noodles, fritters, and tempura batters.
Don’t use for: Breads.
Made from ground oats, this flour has a superfine and fluffy texture. It is sweet in taste, with one of the most approachable “whole grain” flavors.
Best for: Combined with wheat flour, oat flour makes excellent bread.
Don’t use for: Oats are gluten-free, so they need the structure from a high-protein flour to stand up to the bread-baking process. Compensate for their lack of gluten with a high-gluten option, like bread flour.
This intensely nutty and very dense flour can be difficult to work with, but has a complex flavor.
Best for: Amaranth flour is best combined with wet ingredients, like eggs, butter, and dairy. Use in quick breads, cookies, bars, and brownies.
Don’t use for: Do not attempt 100% amaranth flour bread—it needs the gluten of a wheat flour to avoid a crumbly texture.
Made simply from pulverized nuts, these are easy to DIY with a food processor. They can be very powdery, and, of course, contain no gluten. Most common is almond flour, also known as “almond meal.”
Best for: Combining with gluten-containing flours and/or wet ingredients—think cookies and tarts.
Don’t use for: Breads.
Rather just buy your bread? Here’s how to spot the perfect loaf.
May 14, 2015 By Rochelle Bilow
I can’t say enough about how delicious my order was! We got a cake and cookies for a family party and they were huge hits! My mom doesn’t get excited about anything and she was super excited about how delicious the cookies were! The cake was beautiful and very moist with the perfect amount of frosting. Everything was reasonably priced. We had the items delivered which was affordable and hugely convenient. We will definitely order Mel’s Munchies again!
What You’ll Need
The ingredient list is so small and flexible it barely needs a formal recipe, but here goes. You’ll need:
2 cups of heavy cream
1 cup of whole milk
6 large eggs
3/4 cup of sugar
Vanilla extract to taste
Salt to taste
Unlike a lot of baked goods, ice cream ingredient amounts have some wiggle room. To make a more rich and creamy ice cream, use a higher ratio of cream to milk, add an egg yolk or two, or use more sugar, depending on whether you want a milkier, eggier, or sweeter end result. Want a lighter ice cream? Just do the opposite. The base written above is plenty rich but not overwhelming, and sweet enough to carry flavors well.
Here’s the equipment you’ll need:
1 decent, reasonably heavy-bottomed pot, two-quart capacity or larger
1 wooden spoon
Measuring cups and spoons
An ice cream maker (My favorite entry-level ice cream maker comes from Cuisinart. Amazon’s price hovers around $50.)
How to Make It
The basic path to ice cream involves cooking a stirred custard, flavoring it, and churning it. You can break the steps down as follows:
Separate egg yolks
Whisk egg yolks and sugar together until completely combined
Whisk in your dairy until completely combined
Cook your base on medium heat until it forms a custard
Strain into a container and let rest in fridge until cold, preferably overnight
Churn ice cream and harden it in the freezer
Get this technique down and any ice cream recipe is in your reach. Making ice cream with vanilla beans? Steep your dairy and vanilla separately, then add to the eggs and sugar. Want chocolate? Whisk cocoa powder into your yolks and sugar, then cook normally. Swirls and mix-ins are great, but you may find that your homemade stuff is so good that it doesn’t need anything else.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Making ice cream is easy and forgiving, but there are some common mistakes to watch out for.
Make sure your eggs and sugar are well combined. Whisk them well until the mixture resembles the color and texture of lemon curd: a thick pudding-like goo with a pale yellow color. The mixture should fall from a whisk in one continuous “ribbon.” In fancy ice cream talk, this is called “ribboning” the yolks, and it helps protect your eggs from curdling.
Stir your custard as it cooks. Not obsessively, but once every 30 seconds, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot as you do so. Once again, this is all about keeping your eggs from curdling.
Use slow, even heat with a good pot. I never heat my ice cream base past medium heat, and I use a pot with a good heavy bottom. You don’t need anything fancy, but slow, even cooking is the surest road to a good custard.
Don’t overcook your base. Your target custard temperature is 170°F. To test it, dip a wooden spoon into your custard. If the custard coats the spoon’s back and you can swipe a clean line across it (see above), you’re done. If the line collapses, you have more cooking to do.
Strain your base. Once your base has finished cooking, strain it. It’s a small step that eliminates any clumpy egg bits that made their way into your base.
Chill before churning. The colder your ice cream base is going into the churn, the creamier it will be. So chill it down in the fridge after it’s cooked. As few as six hours may do it, but an overnight chill is even better. You’ll need the extra time to make sure your freezable churning bowl is fully chilled.
What You Don’t Need to Worry About
Many ice cream recipes are full of processes and terms you don’t need to bother with. Such as:
Don’t scald your dairy. “Scalding” dairy, or heating it to just below a simmer, is supposed to kill bacteria and denature dairy proteins. But since all commercial dairy has been pasteurized and homogenized—i.e. super-heated and emulsified—heating it up again doesn’t really do anything. If you’re not infusing your dairy with any flavors beforehand, just add it straight to your egg-sugar mixture.
Don’t bother tempering your eggs. If you add hot dairy to egg yolks, even with the protection of sugar, your eggs will curdle. So recipes that call for scalding dairy also call for tempering eggs, or ladling a small amount of hot dairy into your yolks, whisking like a madman, and ladling again and again. It’s messy work, and if you’re not scalding your dairy, there’s no reason to bother with it. If you’ve heated your dairy to infuse in flavors, like a vanilla bean or a bunch of mint leaves, let it steep off the heat. After an hour or two it’ll suck plenty of flavor from those ingredients and will have cooled off enough that you can whisk it right into your yolks. Just whisk fast!
Don’t make an ice bath: Some recipes tell you to cool your cooked custard in an ice bath before chilling in your fridge. This does chill your base faster, but I’d rather wait a couple more hours for a chilled base than bother—especially if I’m chilling it overnight anyway.
How to Make It
Combine egg whites (at room temperature) and cream of tartar in a medium glass or metal mixing bowl; beat until foamy. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves. Beat in vanilla.
Spread meringue over hot pie filling, carefully sealing to edge of pastry. Bake as directed in each pie recipe.
Oxmoor House Homestyle Recipes
A Staple Sauce for the Holidays: Brown Sugar Pecan Praline Sauce
Total: 15 mins
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Yield: 6 servings
This scrumptious brown sugar pecan praline sauce is a very easy dessert sauce to prepare, and it is out of this world on ice cream, bread pudding, or cheesecake.
The pecan praline sauce is made with brown sugar and butter, along with some evaporated milk and lots of chopped pecans.
This is great with toasted pecans as well. See the tips for how to toast pecans.
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 tablespoon butter (salted or unsalted)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Steps to Make It
In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the brown sugar, evaporated milk, and butter.
Cook and stir the sauce until it is smooth and syrupy, or about 5 minutes. If it seems lumpy at all, strain it through a mesh sieve.
Stir in the vanilla extract and pecans. The sauce will thicken as it cools.
Serve praline sauce warm over ice cream, cheesecake, or bread pudding.
Refrigerate any leftover pecan praline sauce and heat it in the microwave or on the stove top before using.
How to toast pecans. Spread the pecans out in a dry frying pan or skillet. Place the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring and turning the pecans constantly, until they are lightly browned and aromatic. Remove to a plate to stop the cooking process. Alternatively, spread the pecans out on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 F oven for about 5 minutes, checking and stirring frequently.
Substitute dark brown sugar for the light brown sugar or use an unrefined brown sugar, such as muscovado, if desired.
Special thanks to Diana Rattray of the spruce eats.com
5 to 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1 to 2 teaspoons anise, lemon or orange extract
Red, yellow or orange liquid food coloring, optional
Fill a 15x10x1-in. pan with confectioners’ sugar to a depth of 1/2 in. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, make a continuous curved-line indentation in the sugar; set pan aside.
In a large heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cover and continue cooking for 3 minutes to dissolve any sugar crystals.
Uncover and cook on medium-high heat, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reads 300° (hard-crack stage). Remove from the heat; stir in extract and food coloring if desired.
Carefully pour into a glass measuring cup. Working quickly, pour into prepared indentation in pan. Cover candy with confectioners’ sugar. When candy is cool enough to handle, cut into pieces with a scissors. Store in a covered container.
We recommend that you test your candy thermometer before each use by bringing water to a boil; the thermometer should read 212°. Adjust your recipe temperature up or down based on your test.
1 ounce-weight: 383 calories, 0 fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 26mg sodium, 99g carbohydrate (89g sugars, 0 fiber), 0 protein.
Originally published as Hard Candy in Country Woman Christmas 1997
In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice and set aside.
Pour water into a Dutch oven over medium heat.
Combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg in a bowl;
add to water, stir well, and bring to a boil.
Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add apples and return to a boil.
Reduce heat, cover and simmer until apples are tender, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Cool for 30 minutes.
Ladle into 5 freezer containers, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
Cool at room temperature no longer than 1 1/2 hours.
Seal and freeze.
Can be stored for up to 12 months.
Here’s a great Tip
Aluminum foil helps keep food moist, ensures it cooks evenly, keeps leftovers fresh, and makes clean-up easy.
Per Serving: 129 calories; 0.1 g fat; 33.4 g carbohydrates; 0.2 g protein; 0 mg cholesterol; 61 mg sodium. Full nutrition
Got a bit of excess eggshell in the bowl when you cracked an egg? Simply wet your finger and reach it in, and the eggshell bit will magnetically be attracted. Seriously amazing! Cracking the Egg: 25 Ways to Transform Your Cooking with Chef Kyle Shankman
Want to know how to keep your brown sugar soft as the day you opened the package? It’s simple and foolproof: Throw a piece of bread into the container. Yep, that’s it. The bread magically keeps the sugar soft and never gets moldy or gross. (via This Week for Dinner)