Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Granola

Salted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaThe countdown to vacation is officially on! I am T-4 days away from driving up to Maine with my friends, VJ and Adam, and I. can’t. wait.

A lot of the appeal of this trip is that we can all be together while also doing our own things. VJ will be perfectly happy putting together puzzles all day long. I have big plans to spend at least a couple of days foraging and baking. This will be Adam’s first time to Swans Island, but I know he’ll settle in quickly. The great thing about this trip is that everyone can do exactly what they want to do—there are no definite plans or must-do activities. It’s positively blissful.

Salted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaThe only thing that’s difficult about being on Swans Island is figuring out the menu. There are no large grocery stores on-island, so all groceries have to be carted over from a market on the mainland. This means that we spent last Saturday night gathered around Adam’s kitchen table planning out every single meal and snack so that we can shop efficiently and thoroughly. Easy enough, right?

WRONG. While Adam and I basically eat everything, VJ is a gluten-free vegan. Granted, she is the least difficult gluten-free vegan ever (ever ever ever), but it’s still a challenge to plan meals that we can all enjoy together. Honestly, it’s simpler to just make two grocery lists and hope for some ingredient overlap. Regardless, I’ve taken it upon myself to make one thing we can all share and enjoy equally. This Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Granola is the result, and it’s freaking fabulous.

Salted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaLike most granola, Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Granola is super easy to make and infinitely more delicious than anything you’ll find in stores. It’s basically like crispy, crunchy Nutella-flavored magic…but gluten-free, vegan, and perfect for sharing with all my favorite people.

Salted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaSalted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaSalted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaSalted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaOats and chopped raw hazelnuts are coated in a mixture of oil, maple syrup, dark brown sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla, before being baked until crisp. Once the granola isn’t searing hot anymore, four ounces of dark chocolate are mixed in. This creates some seriously amazing clusters 😍 You could certainly enjoy your granola like that, but I like to wait until it reaches room temperature and stir in a bit more chocolate—textural diversity for the win. Also, all that chocolate 😊😳🍫🍫🍫

Salted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaI’ve already made two quarts of this granola for our trip. That may seem like a lot for three people, but between breakfasts and snacks, I know it’ll disappear quickly. And how couldn’t it? With crispy oats, toasty hazelnuts, a double dose of chocolate, and a big hit of salt to balance it all out, it’s guaranteed to keep all of us coming back for more.Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Granola

Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Granola
makes about 5-6 cups

2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (I used certified gluten-free oats)
1 1/2 cups (about 8 ounces) raw hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1/3 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt
6 ounces chopped dark chocolate, divided

Preheat oven to 300F. Line a rimmed quarter sheet pan with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats and chopped hazelnuts. Set aside.

In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, combine oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and brown sugar. Use a fork to whisk in cocoa powder and salt until mixture is smooth. Pour liquid ingredients over oats and hazelnuts. Fold everything together with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon.

Transfer mixture to prepared pan and spread into one even layer. Bake 40 minutes, stirring at the 15 and 30 minute marks. Let cool in the pan on a rack for at least 20 minutes, until it’s warm but can be handled. Scatter 4 ounces of chopped chocolate over the top and stir in. Let cool completely. Stir in remaining 2 ounces of chopped chocolate.

Granola may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.

Cheesecake Brownies {Grain-Free}

Cheesecake Brownies {Grain-Free}For a baking blogger, I sure haven’t baked much lately. It’s not because I haven’t wanted to–no, I always want to bake–but because I’ve been so crazy busy. Eliot was here, I went to Texas, my best friend from college was in town, I turned 32…I simply haven’t had the time!

Cheesecake Brownies {Grain-Free}My last three recipes haven’t required an oven at all. I’m not complaining though; I’ve been enjoying lots of Iced Matcha Lattes, Whole Wheat Pancakes, and Key Lime Pie Popsicles lately 😊

But enough about that. Today, let’s get back to baking.

Cheesecake Brownies {Grain-Free}Cheesecake Brownies are a classic for a reason–who can resist a fudgy brownie swirled with a layer of creamy cheesecake?! Add to that that this recipe is completely grain-free, thanks to my spin on Katharine Hepburn Brownies, and you’ve got a surefire crowdpleaser for all your cookouts this summer!Cheesecake Brownies {Grain-Free}

Cheesecake Brownies {Grain-Free}
makes one 9-inch square pan, about 16 brownies

Cheesecake:
8 ounces full-fat brick-style cream cheese
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large eggs
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Brownies:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder (natural or dutch process)
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Place oven racks in the top and bottom positions. Preheat oven to 325F. Line a 9-inch square pan with foil, leaving overhang on two sides. Grease foil with butter. Set aside.

Make cheesecake. In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese until fluffy. Mix in sugar, followed by egg and vanilla. Set aside.

In a double boiler or the microwave, melt butter and unsweetened chocolate together until smooth. Let cool slightly before transferring to a large mixing bowl.

Whisk in granulated and light brown sugars, followed by eggs and vanilla. Mix in cocoa powder and salt. Reserve 1/3 cup of batter in a small bowl.

Transfer the rest of the batter to the prepared pan and spread in an even layer. Drop spoonfuls of cheesecake over the top, followed by spoonfuls of the reserved brownie batter. Swirl with a small, thin knife. Tap full pan five times on the countertop to release air bubbles and distribute. Cover pan with foil. Bake on the top rack for 20 minutes. Uncover pan. Bake on the bottom rack for an additional 20-30 minutes, until cheesecake just barely jiggles when the pan is jostled.

Let brownies cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack. Refrigerate in the pan for four hours (or overnight). Use foil overhang to remove brownies to a cutting board. Peel off foil. Slice and serve.

Leftover Cheesecake Brownies will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Cashew Butter Snickerdoodles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Cashew Butter Snickerdoodles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Sometimes I go weeks without any new recipe ideas. Other times, they just come to me out of the blue. One minute, I’m adding cashews to the filling of my Paleo Cheesecake, and the next, I’m totally consumed with the idea of Cashew Butter Snickerdoodles. Sometimes, it just hits me.

Cashew Butter Snickerdoodles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Y’all, I am all about these cookies. They’ve got everything you love about Snickerdoodles: a crisp edge and loads of cinnamon-sugar flavor. As an added bonus, they just happen to be vegan and gluten-free!

As I’ve mentioned before, there is a three-ingredient peanut butter cookie recipe that’s been around forever. The gist is that if you mix 1 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of sugar, and an egg into a dough, you can make some seriously good peanut butter cookies. I’ve used that recipe as my starting place for a few recipes, this one included.

Cashew Butter Snickerdoodles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Here, creamy cashew butter provides structure and fat–no need for flour or butter. Cornstarch and baking powder are added to keep the cookies tender. You could certainly use a large egg in this dough, but I opted for a flax egg in an effort to keep these treats vegan. The cookies are sweetened with a combination of granulated and brown sugars and flavored with cinnamon and vanilla.

The dough comes together in just a few minutes. It will seem a little crumbly, but should hold together well when pinched. Roll it into balls and then coat them in cinnamon sugar before baking. Cashew Butter Snickerdoodles bake in less than ten minutes. They will be very puffy when they come out of the oven–you may leave them like that or tamp them down with a small spoon, as I have.

Cashew Butter Snickerdoodles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}These cookies, y’all. They’re tender, loaded with Snickerdoodle flavor, and because they’re vegan and gluten-free, more people can enjoy them! I shared some with my vegan, gluten-free friend, VJ, and she was all about the buttery cashew flavor and huge hit of cinnamon. She said that she might like these more than traditional Snickerdoodles! I don’t know about that–Snickerdoodles are hard to beat–but I do know that you should make these.Cashew Butter Snickerdoodles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Cashew Butter Snickerdoodles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}
makes about 2 dozen small cookies

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed*
2 tablespoons warm tap water
1 cup creamy-style cashew butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Coating:
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

Make a flax egg. In a small bowl, combine ground flaxseed and water. Stir together and let sit for five minutes, until thickened.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cashew butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar until combined. Mix in flax egg and vanilla. Beat in cornstarch, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Dough will be crumbly, but should hold together when pinched,

Make the coating. In a small bowl, use a fork to stir together cinnamon and sugar until evenly mixed.

Scoop dough by the tablespoon and form into balls. Roll each ball in the coating and set on the prepared baking sheet. Dough balls should be 2 inches apart. Bake 8-9 minutes, until very puffy. Lightly press the top of each cookie with a small spoon. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for ten minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat baking process with any remaining dough.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Note:

If you are not vegan, you may use a large egg (at room temperature) in place of the flax and water. Proceed with the recipe as written.

Southern-Style Cornbread & Chipotle-Lime Honey Butter

Southern-Style Cornbread & Chipotle-Lime Honey Butter99% of the time, I’m a biscuit kind of person. You’re making eggs? Great! I’ll make biscuits. Soup for dinner? Let me slap some biscuits together for you! It’s literally any hour of the day or night? Fantastic–let’s have biscuits.

Yes, biscuits are my answer to just about everything. But there’s something about snow that makes me want cornbread. Even the light dusting we had yesterday–it just screams cornbread to me. Where others might grab bread and milk when they are preparing to hunker down, I grab a pound of cornmeal.

Southern-Style Cornbread & Chipotle-Lime Honey ButterNow, there are two kinds of cornbread. In the north, cornbread is cakey and sweet. That’s all fine and good, but when I want cornbread, I want it southern–sturdy and deeply savory with crisp edges. It’s just as good sandwiched with a fried egg as it is as a side to soup or roast chicken.

My favorite cornbread requires just seven ingredients: yellow cornmeal, baking powder, salt, buttermilk, an egg, melted butter, and bacon fat. Yes, bacon fat. It makes the edges of this cornbread outrageously delicious and, of course, keeps it from sticking to the pan. Don’t have bacon fat lying around? Just substitute a tablespoon of neutral-flavored oil. It won’t have the same depth of flavor, but your cornbread will still come out of the oven with crispy edges.

You may also have noticed that there is no flour in this cornbread. This means it just happens to be gluten-free 😊

Southern-Style Cornbread & Chipotle-Lime Honey ButterWhile this recipe contains only a few ingredients, it needs a little technique to make the finished cornbread irresistible. The batter comes together in just a few minutes. Before you go to bake it though, make sure to get the pan nice and hot. I heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high for a good three minutes before swirling in the bacon fat. While the pan is still heating on the stove, I scrape in the batter and then let it cook for a minute before sliding it into the oven. This minute on the burner is just more assurance that the finished cornbread will have a great crispy edge.

Southern-Style Cornbread & Chipotle-Lime Honey ButterOne of my favorite things about making cornbread? It’s ready to eat just minutes after it comes out of the oven. I spend so many hours of my life waiting for things to cool–I love that this recipe doesn’t require that sort of tedium. In the ten minutes that I waited before slicing into this cornbread, I had time to whip up a simple Chipotle-Lime Honey Butter. While this Southern-Style Cornbread is perfectly delicious with a pat of regular butter, this spicy, tangy, slightly sweet butter really brings it over the top.Southern-Style Cornbread & Chipotle-Lime Honey Butter

Southern-Style Cornbread
makes about 8 servings

2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 large egg, room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon bacon fat (or neutral-flavored oil)

Preheat oven to 425F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Combine buttermilk and egg in a measuring cup. Whisk together with a fork. Fold into dry ingredients. Fold in melted butter.

Heat an 8- or 9-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat for at least 3 minutes. Add bacon fat and coat. Add cornbread batter. Cook for one minute before transferring to the oven. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cornbread cool for ten minutes before slicing into wedges and serving with Chipotle-Lime Honey Butter.

Chipotle-Lime Honey Butter
makes about 1/4 cup

1/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
zest of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt (omit if using salted butter)
1 teaspoon honey

Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Mash together with a fork. Taste and adjust chile powder by up to 1/4 teaspoon. Transfer compound butter to a serving dish.

Five-Ingredient Salted Marzipan Truffles {Accidentally Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Five-Ingredient Salted Marzipan Truffles {Accidentally Vegan & Gluten-Free}Christmas is just nine days away, y’all, and the spirit is real. We have a HUGE real tree in the living room, I have a six-foot fake tree in my bedroom, and my workspace has been adorned with a garland and my beloved Snoopy lights ❤️💚🎄💚❤️

It is freezing cold and I still have tons to do before I hop a flight to Texas on Tuesday, but I am totally loving every minute. Even the all-nighter I pulled earlier this month. (I subsequently learned that 31 is waaaaay too old to pull an all-nighter.)

On Wednesday, I posted an Iced Sugar Cookie recipe that is super time-consuming. Totally worth the effort, but still. The time I allocated for long, intricate recipes has now officially come and gone. So today, let’s take it easy. Not that easy means plain or boring. Oh, no. Today, it means a no-bake, five-ingredient, accidentally vegan, gluten-free recipe that is still classy, decadent, and perfect for gifting and entertaining. I’m talking about Salted Marzipan Truffles, y’all!

Five-Ingredient Salted Marzipan Truffles {Accidentally Vegan & Gluten-Free}I’m no chocolatier, but I have to say that these truffles kind of make me look like one. Packaged marzipan (in the baking aisle) is scooped by the 1/2 tablespoon, rolled into balls, dipped in chocolate, and sprinkled with finishing salt. When you bite into one of these truffles, the flavor comes in three waves:

  1. Deep, dark chocolate flavor.
  2. A salty punch.
  3. Sweet, almond-y marzipan. Yes.

Five-Ingredient Salted Marzipan Truffles {Accidentally Vegan & Gluten-Free}If, like me, you are not much of a candy-maker, working with melted chocolate can be intimidating. I have never successfully tempered chocolate (or even tried, really). Nine days before Christmas is *not* the time for me to try to master a new skill. Nope.

So, I take a little shortcut. I melt chopped dark chocolate in the microwave and stir in two secret ingredients. First, 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil. Since coconut oil solidifies at 76F, this will allow our chocolate to harden more easily than if it were left to its own devices. If you don’t like coconut, don’t worry! This tiny amount of oil does not change the flavor of the chocolate. If you really don’t want to use it, feel free to sub non-hydrogenated shortening.

The second secret ingredient? Corn syrup. Just 1 teaspoon adds gloss to our chocolate, leaving just a bit of sheen on the matte surface of the finished truffles. The corn syrup you see in stores is NOT the same as high-fructose corn syrup, but if you don’t wish to use it, you may sub in 1 teaspoon of Lyle’s Golden Syrup or mild honey (if you’re not vegan).

Five-Ingredient Salted Marzipan Truffles {Accidentally Vegan & Gluten-Free}Five-Ingredient Salted Marzipan Truffles {Accidentally Vegan & Gluten-Free}Five-Ingredient Salted Marzipan Truffles {Accidentally Vegan & Gluten-Free}The dipping chocolate will be shiny, smooth, and luxurious. Working with one ball of marzipan at a time, drop it into the melted chocolate. Move it around with a fork to coat. Briefly drain it by scraping the tines of the fork on the edge of the bowl, and gently roll it onto the wax paper. Then, sprinkle on a pinch of finishing salt. That’s the whole process. Repeat it approximately 23-24 more times before freezing all the truffles for fifteen minutes.

That is literally the entire recipe. If you’re a fast roller and dipper, you can go from ingredients to truffles in 45 minutes or less. I have every intention of putting these out at a holiday party I’m catering tonight, but I also think they’d make adorable gifts packed into decorative Chinese takeout boxes.Five-Ingredient Salted Marzipan Truffles {Accidentally Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Five-Ingredient Salted Marzipan Truffles {Accidentally Vegan & Gluten-Free}
makes about 2 dozen truffles

1 11-ounce can marzipan*
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped*
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons large-flake finishing salt (I use Trader Joe’s Cypriot Pyramid Salt)

Special Equipment:
microwave-safe bowl (or double boiler)
wax paper
baking sheet or plate (must fit in freezer)

Line a baking sheet with wax paper.

Scoop marzipan by the 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons), roll into balls, and set on prepared pan.

Place chopped dark chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir with a fork. Add coconut oil. Continue to microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Stir in corn syrup.

To dip, drop one ball of marzipan into the melted chocolate. Use a fork to coat marzipan in chocolate. Drain briefly by scraping the tines of the fork on the edge of the bowl. Use the fork to gently lay the truffle on the prepared pan. Immediately top with a pinch of finishing salt. Continue this process until all truffles are coated and salted.

Place baking sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes, until chocolate has solidified. Serve.

Truffles will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Re-salt as necessary by lightly moistening the tops with water and sprinkling with salt. Allow to dry before serving.

Notes:

1. If you are vegan, make sure the ingredients on the marzipan do not include egg whites.
2. If you are vegan, make sure your chocolate is certified vegan.