Healthy Pear-Streusel Coffee Cake

It has been a long time since I blogged about food, and an even longer time since I blogged about food I actually made and didn’t just purchase.  This saddens me.  But, such is the tragic story of a busy grad student.

All of the credit for this recipe goes to Holly at Everyday’s a Hollyday.  Fun side note: Holly is a best friend of one of my best friends, but we have never actually met!  But, through my friend Lea, and through Holly’s amazing blog, I know I would love her.  She posted this recipe for pear-streusel coffee cake a while back, and I knew I had to make it.  A recipe for a coffee cake that involves pear and Chobani yogurt?! I was hooked.  I honestly made no changes to the recipe, so simply click the link to see the recipe.

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This coffee cake is delicious, easy to make, and guess what- healthy!  There is no butter involved, instead the recipe uses greek yogurt.  This is the perfect “treat” for breakfast, snack, or a dessert (ok so really any time).  The recipe makes plenty to last a few people all week.  Ok, that is assuming you have a little self control and don’t eat three squares at once, which may be difficult.

My boyfriend was extremely skeptical of this because 1) he does not trust dessert made with no butter and 2) he does not like pear or greek yogurt that much…… OR SO HE THOUGHT.  He loved it.

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The pear version was fantastic, but I think it would be so much fun and easy to play with the flavors, and I think next time I will try apple, using the apple-cinnamon  Chobani yogurt with cut up apple.  Either way, this coffee cake is just the right amount of sweet, moist, and does not sacrifice the delicious streusel topping in becoming health-ified.

Baking in a healthy way is something that scares me because although I know it can certainly be done, I feel one is at a higher risk for a dessert dud.  It is one thing for me to screw up dinner, but that is unacceptable for dessert!  But, as mentioned, this coffee cake was a total success and I highly recommend giving it a try.

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It feels so great to blog again after being MIA for a while.  I have two exciting blog posts for this week, one of which involves an awesome farmers market find and another that involves something so delicious, it will be added to the “Best Thing I Ever Ate” page.

Until then, make this coffee cake.

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Giada’s Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies

Not that you should ever need a reason to bake delicious cookies, but I’ll give you some anyway in case the wanna-be-good side of you needs a little convincing.

  1. It’s Friday, and weekend calories don’t count
  2. Its February and you have a whole month to burn these off
  3. It’s the weekend of Superbowl Sunday, and these would be the perfect sweet and unexpected addition to a party, plus you can pawn some off on your friends to eat.  Assuming there are any left by Sunday, of course.

I made these cookies a while ago, before I started blogging, so I apologize for the lack of photo quality.  Not that my usual iPhone/Instagram photos are so professional, but at least they focus on the food more than this.

Chocolate chip hazelnut and toffee cookies

Chocolate chip hazelnut and toffee cookies

These cookies have everything you love about chocolate chip cookies, but the addition of hazelnuts and toffee adds an unexpected yet totally pleasant pop of taste that makes them extra special.  They are simple enough to please picky eaters but different enough to not be your same old boring chocolate chip cookie.

The recipe is from Giada Di Laurentiis, and I got it at the Food Network Website.  Recipe is as follows:

You Will Need

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats (such as Quaker)
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed, light brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 oz. toffee candy bits, finely chopped (I used Heaths)
  • 1 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips (spring for the good stuff, such as Ghiradelli, it makes a difference)
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked, and chopped (see below for how to husk them)

How to Husk Hazelnuts

Don’t worry- this is something I had no idea how to do at first.  To save you a google search, this is all you need to do:  Toast the hazelnuts in a toaster oven or regular oven (on 300 deg.) until they are toasted but not burnt.  You will begin to smell a toasted-nut aroma when they are ready.  They should not look black.  It is better to under-toast them than to over-toast them.  This should not take longer than 5 minutes.  Then, sandwich the nuts in between a clean dish towel, and rub lightly back and forth.  The husks should naturally begin to shred.  When all of the husks are removed, chop the hazelnuts.  This is the most tedious part of the recipe, but so worth it!

Step-by-Step

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper
  3. In a medium bowel, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
  4. Place the oats in a food processor, chop finely, then add them to the medium bowl with the rest of the dry ingredients
  5. Beat together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar in an electric mixer or large bowl (I do not have an electric mixer and did this step by hand no problem)
  6. Beat in the eggs and vanilla to the butter/sugar mixture, and then add the flour.  Stir until all ingredients are evenly mixed, but not any more than necessary
  7. Fold in the toffee, hazelnuts, and chocolate chips, and mix until evenly disbursed.
  8. Form the dough into balls, about 1 TBS in size, and place them on the lined cookie sheets about 1 inch apart
  9. Bake until the cookies are just turning golden, for about 15 minutes.  Remove and cool.

My Tips & Tidbits on this Recipe:

The hazelnuts are a bit of a burden, but totally necessary for the optimum flavor of these cookies.  The husking and chopping is not as bad as it sounds, I promise!  The process is a bit messy, but easy to clean.  I strongly urge you to not substitute another type of nut or skip the nuts all together.

Use the full amount of goodies (i.e. chocolate chips and toffee).  The second time I made these, I left out some of the chocolate chips because it looked like overkill.  Lesson learned: there is no such thing as overkill with chocolate chips.  The recipe was perfect the way it was, and each and every morsel of goodness is needed!

I highly encourage you to make these cookies.  Like I said, they will please picky eaters and sophisticated taste buds alike.  Enjoy and let me know how you like them :)

Practically The Weekend

In my book, Thursday night is practically the weekend.  Which means it is the perfect time to justify having some delicious cupcakes (if you are the type that needs to justify it).

I don’t know about you guys, but this was one of those weeks that dragged on forever.  I have a big presentation to give tomorrow for my current rotation, and I may or may not have spent a little too much time cooking, drinking wine, and watching reality TV last week instead.  Either way, once the presentation is over tomorrow I can officially cross rotation #7/9 off my list.  That is another reason (still assuming we need one) to have some cupcakes!

(L): red velvet with buttercream frosting (R): vanilla with buttercream frosting

(L): red velvet with buttercream frosting (R): vanilla with buttercream frosting

These cupcakes are from Misha’s Cupcakes in Miami, FL.  There are about 4 store locations total, but the cupcakes can also be found at various locations such as the Nordstrom Cafe (Dadeland Mall location) and the University of Miami.

These are by far the best cupcakes ever.  I have tried Georgetown Cupcakes, Crumbs, and many others, and it is not even close.  My absolute favorite is the red velvet but the vanilla comes in a very close second.  The red velvet has the tiniest hint of chocolate chips that just adds the perfect touch.  These cupcakes are beyond moist and incredibly flavorful.  What sets these cupcakes apart from others is the fact that the cake, not the frosting, is the best part.  And that is not to say that the frosting isn’t absolutely delicious, but the cake is what steals the show.

Ryan and I recently got into a very heated debate with friends about cupcakes.  Our friends believe that the cake component to these cupcakes are too heavy and “muffin-like”.  They prefer a lighter, more airy cupcake with whipped-type frosting.  Now, call me crazy, but I disagree.  I want my cupcakes to  live up to their name and be round, scrumptious pieces of cake with more delicious frosting on top.  Feel free to weigh in on this debate.

For those of you in the South Florida area, you need to make a trip to Mishas ASAP (as in tomorrow) and try these cupcakes.  For those of you not in South Florida, I’m sorry.  Luckily for you, South Florida is a pretty nice vacation destination and if the beaches don’t do it for you, these cupcakes will :)

Now, if you assumed that because I am blogging I am done with my presentation for tomorrow, you are incorrect.  I am blogging because I am not done with it.  I think I have officially exhausted my procrastination options and have no choice but to be productive.

Happy almost Friday everyone!  Was this week as long for you as it was for me?  I would love to know: where was the best cupcake you ever had?  

 

$15 Caramels? Yes. Worth It.

I am so excited because last night I received a package that I have been waiting for all week.

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When Ryan and I were in NY over the holidays, we stopped at Chelsea Market Baskets, located in (surprise) Chelsea Market.  This particular store, like many in the market, is stocked with unique and drool-worthy specialty foods that make you want to buy everything in site.  From spices to cheeses to oils to sweets, the variety of hard-to-find-elsewhere goods is endless.  Luckily for my wallet, we were in a rush and didn’t have too much time to shop.  I did, however, see a cute display of all different types of caramels that I knew I had to try.

I was only allowed one free sample of one type of caramel.  They had about six different varieties to choose from including vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon, salted, etc..  I decided to ask the clerk what was popular and what she recommended.  She responded that the sea salt is the most popular and her personal favorite.

Dilemma.

I am not a fan of salted sweets, with the obvious exception of chocolate covered pretzels.  But still, I decided to go crazy and try the salted caramel per her recommendation.

Four words: out of this world.  The salt is not at all overbearing- it is perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the caramel.  Wow oh wow.  I ended up buying a bag of assorted flavors, obviously with a lot of salted caramel mixed in.  The funny thing is that the two best flavors, in my opinion, were the salted caramel and the cinnamon.  Those happen to be the two flavors I would have never tried without a recommendation from someone else.  Lesson learned: ask what is popular/recommended, and don’t be afraid to try new things.  I cringe at the trying new things line because it really sounds like something my mom would have said to me when I was young.  But inevitably, she was right.

With one persistent craving, an Amazon search, and $15 (inc. shipping) later,  these sweet and salty gems were mine.  All 20 of them.  Some may call me crazy, but I know fellow foodies will understand the priceless value in a perfect piece of candy.

Here is the link to heaven.  You may want to make sure your credit card is not within arms reach. Bequet Confections