It’s only appropriate that a blog called “Squirrelly Girl Bakes” take part in Squirrel Appreciation Day! I mean, it’s my namesake!
I haven’t baked any squirrel-shaped cookies lately, but I DID make a stunning “everything” challah last night.
Anyway, just a quickie today. Work has been super busy, but I have been in the kitchen baking. Now to find the time to post!
[Mel’s note: I’m slowly getting back into baking — whee! — but in the meantime, I want to share some of the original recipes I crafted for Table Matters with all of you. Recipes are my own, but I will be featuring the images of some talented photographers who were kind enough to make my desserts look damn near magical]
Bake these when you want to impress people with something decadent, yet quirky. The honey and figs — either chopped or jammed — are a perfect match, and the slightly salty pretzel crust keeps the dessert bars from being too sweet.
Cut these on the small size: Anything larger than a 1 x 2-inch rectangle will be too much due to their richness. Turkey and Calimyrna figs are both easier to find dried, but feel free to use fresh if you can find them.
For the jam, I like to use this recipe from the Kitchn when I’m working from dried figs.
Double Fig Honey Blondies with Pretzel Crust
Yields: 16 1 x 2 inch blondies
- Pretzel Crust Ingredients
- ½ cup flour
- 4 oz pretzels (yields approximately 1 cup pulverized pretzels)
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- Blondie Ingredients
- 1 cup flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ cup de-stemmed and chopped Turkey figs or Calimyrna figs
- 4-6 tbsp Mission fig jam
Heat the oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit and center the rack in the oven. Line an 8 x 8-inch pan with aluminum foil so that the foil overhangs the edges. Spray the foil with nonstick spray.
To make the pretzel crust, pulverize the pretzels in a food processor until broken down into small bits. Add the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon to the food processor and pulse to combine. Pour in the melted butter, pulse until the crust begins to come together (you’ll see it darken slightly and begin to clump).
Scrape the mixture into the lined baking pan, spreading out evenly, then pat down, making sure the crust is spread into the corners. Bake for 10-12 minutes until fragrant, then cool while making the blondie batter.
For the blondies, combine the flour, salt and cardamom in a mixing bowl and set aside. Combine the melted butter, light brown sugar and honey in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until smooth. Add the vanilla and egg, beating until combined. Gradually add the dry ingredients, beating slowly. Add the chopped figs and mix until they just come together — don’t overbeat.
Pour the blondie batter over the pretzel crust, gently spreading the blondie out to the sides as evenly as possible. Dollop 4 to 6 tablespoons of the mission fig jam on top of the batter. Use a knife to gently swirl the jam into the batter (do not cut down into the crust).
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and the middle looks set (the blondies will still be a bit soft in the middle, but they’re better a little gooey!)
Cool fully on a rack before slicing.
I found out a little late, but yes, today — Feb. 9 — is National Pizza Day. Of course, it seems like every day of the year is National Something or Another, but pizza has always been one of my favorite things to make. It’s a great party entree, perfect for a small dinner when you size it down … and you know. It’s PIZZA!
So to celebrate, here’s a recipe for pizza dough that I’ve used for several years. It’s trusted, true, and makes enough to either prep 2 pizzas for a party or 4 pizzas for two!
Homemade crust, homemade marinara sauce, pickled banana peppers, sage, basil, rosemary, mozzarella and fresh cracked pepper.
Perfect Pizza Dough
- Pizza Dough Ingredients
- 1 lb bread flour
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp honey or sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 8 oz water, room temperature
- Optional: fresh cracked pepper, herbs
- Selection of delicious sauces and toppings
Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and combine the flour, oil, honey (or sugar), salt, and yeast in the bowl.
Pour in the water and mix on low speed until combined, 1-2 minutes.
Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until the dough becomes a pretty tight ball. It should be a little tacky, but should not stick to the bowl.
Spray a large mixing bowl (at least twice the size of the dough) with nonstick cooking spray.
Place the dough in the bowl and roll it around, coating all sides.
Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and ferment. You have 2 options here:
• Room temperature: Place the covered bowl in a slightly warm area and let the dough rise for 2-4 hours.
• Refrigerator: If you don’t have time to let the dough ferment at room temperature, or would like a slightly-sweet dough, refrigerate for at least 8 hours before working with it. Bring up to room temperature before working with the dough.
Once you’re ready to divide the dough, lightly flour your work surface. Place the dough on it and divide it into 4 (for pizzas that will serve 2 people 2 slices) or 2 (for a pizza that will fit a traditional pizza pan).
Wrap the dough pieces up in plastic wrap and freeze what you’re not using.
For the piece of dough you are using, shape it and place it on a lightly floured pizza pan (or use a pizza stone, if that’s your thing).
To bake, heat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Prebake the crust with nothing on it for 5 minutes.
Remove the crust from the oven, add your toppings, and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes (or until your cheese is either melty or golden, depending on your cheese).
Shari’s Berries contacted me with this really wonderful infographic, asking me to share it with readers, and I just couldn’t say no!
I realize that pecan pie is more of an autumn dessert, but I couldn’t resist! That, and I had a bag of pecans I wanted to use up, so it made sense to craft this delectable caramel corn.
When looking up pecan pie recipes, however, I didn’t see any of them using spices, which perplexed me. So I decided to use cinnamon and cloves, since I felt like those two spices would support the molasses and pecans best.
And I was right!
Pecan pie caramel corn
Yields: Approximately 26 oz
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 tbsp molasses
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups pecans
Heat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large dutch oven, combine the olive oil and popcorn kernels over medium high heat. Put the lid on, and pop, shaking the pot from time to time. When the popping stops, remove the popcorn from the heat.
Sort through the popcorn, removing the unpopped kernels. Return the popcorn to the dutch oven, and set aside.
To make the caramel, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Once melted, add the brown sugar and continue stirring until the sugar dissolves.
Add the molasses, then turn the heat up and boil the caramel for 2-3 minutes until a deep amber.
Add the salt, cinnamon and ground cloves, stirring to combine.
Add the baking soda, stirring until dissolved (the mixture will bubble up and lighten in color).
Add the vanilla, but be careful. The caramel will sputter when a liquid is added. Stir to combine.
Pour in the pecans, stirring to coat.
Pour the caramel over the popcorn in the dutch oven and stir to coat.
Pour the caramel corn onto the parchment paper, spread out, and place in the oven.
Bake for approximately 40 minutes, stirring the popcorn every 20 minutes.
Once done baking, cool on a rack for 5-10 minutes before enjoying. Store in an air tight container to keep the popcorn fresh.