These aren’t technically baked, I guess, but they’re close enough. 

We like breakfast for dinner, but I’m not a huge fried egg person, and I’m terrible at pancakes for some reason. I never get the temperature right, and they come out either burned or greasy.  So we eat a lot of waffles.

I’ve got a few recipes I like a lot, but this is my favorite.  All the flavors of carrot cake, in a not-terribly-sweet waffle.  And they come together really fast and easy.

Start by grating two cups of carrots (about 6 carrots or so, depending on their size).  I use my food processor to do this fast, but you can do it by hand. 

In one bowl, mix all-purpose and whole-wheat flour (or you can use one or the other, as long as the total comes out to 1 1/4 cups), some finely-chopped walnuts, baking powder, and spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.  I like mine pretty strongly spiced, but you can play with the amounts of the spices until you get it perfect for your taste. 

In a different bowl, mix the brown sugar, buttermilk – I like the full-fat kind, but you can use the low-fat if you feel strongly about it – a bit of oil, vanilla, and 2 eggs. 

Then add the wet ingredients to the dry, mix, then mix in the carrots.  You get something that looks like this:

 Carrot Cake Waffles

It’s easy to get the carrots clumped up, so make sure they’re mixed in well.  Drop onto a greased, preheated waffle iron:

Carrot Cake Waffles

And cook for as long as your waffle iron recommends.  Mine likes 3 1/2 to 4 minutes:

Carrot Cake Waffles

And you have waffles.  They’re good with all sorts of toppings – I like just butter, but they’d be good with whipped cream cheese.  Or put a 1-to-1 ratio of cream cheese and butter in your mixer, and beat until combined, then add in honey and cinnamon to taste.  Maple syrup works well, too, either beaten into butter or on it’s own.

Carrot Cake Waffles

With the carrots and the wheat flour, they’re actually pretty healthy.  And as long as you have a food processor to grate the carrots, mixing them up only takes a few minutes, making them a quick and easy breakfast – or dinner.

( see the recipe )

Snickerdoodle bars

Sometimes I don’t want to spend 4 hours putting together dessert. Sometimes, I just want to put a bunch of stuff in the mixer, pour it into a pan, bake it, and eat it. This is one of those recipes.

Mike really likes snickerdoodles, and I don’t make them very often. So when I saw this recipe come through an RSS feed one day, I bookmarked it. I’ve lost the link by now, but the original recipe went in an 8-inch square pan, and I wasn’t thrilled with the cookie-to-topping ratio. So I doubled it, and put it in a 9-inch pan, to make them thicker and chewier in the middle.

The recipe itself is simple, and very close to a cookie recipe – cream the butter and the sugar, add the dry ingredients, and put it in a pan lined with foil or parchment paper (to help get them out without breaking).  Then mix up the topping, sprinkle it on top, and bake. 

I loved these, Mike loved these, and when my mother took a pan to her church lunch, they all disappeared – so they’re going in my "make again" list.

( see the recipe )

Homemade Toaster Pastries

I’ve never been a huge fan of PopTarts. When they’re cold, I think they taste primarily like preservatives. Toasted, they taste primarily like warm preservatives.

But I like the idea of the toaster pastry. They make great breakfast food and even better snack food. And as someone who has a really bad habit of opening jars of jam, eating half of them, then forgetting about them, they give me a great way way to use up the rest of the jam.

I made these once a long time back, using the Good Eats recipe. They were good – certainly an improvement over the packaged ones! – but not amazing.

Then a few weeks ago, a friend gave me a jar of homemade peach-ginger jam. And I thought it would make an amazing toaster pasty filling, so I went looking for a new recipe.

This time, I tried the King Arthur Flour version. I have somewhat mixed feelings about their recipes in general – I think too many of the new ones rely on their special ingredients, but the ones that don’t tend to be really great.

Their recipe called for a cinnamon and brown sugar filling, but I was mostly interested in the pastry part.

It looked like a Brioche recipe to me – a very rich dough, with lots of milk and butter. It wasn’t hard to put together – whisk the flour with some sugar and salt, then work in the butter. I could have used a pastry cutter, but I just worked it in with my fingertips. It goes faster if the butter is slightly softened.

Then add an egg and milk to bring the dough together, then roll it out. I didn’t fiddle too much with getting the dough perfectly square – someday I’ll figure out how to roll out perfect 9×12 squares of dough, but it isn’t going to be today. I trimmed off the edges to square the dough up, then I cut it into three long strips, and cut each one of those in half.

I was careful to keep the “pairs” together. I put the bottom halves on a Silpat on a cookie sheet, spooned on the filling, then put on the tops. I did half of them with the cinnamon-brown sugar filling, and the other half with the peach jam.

The edges get sealed with a fork, just like a pie crust. I had better luck if I dipped the fork in flour first – even after it was rolled out, the dough was a bit sticky. I poked holes in the top to vent (and so I could tell which filling was in which pastries!). Then into the fridge for half an hour while the oven preheated.

I intentionally under-baked them just a bit, so they’d finish browning in the toaster later. I was afraid if I browned them all the way in the oven, they’d get burnt in the toaster.

Homemade Toaster Pastries

Most of them didn’t survive to the next day to go into the toaster, though. The peach jam ones were by far the best, but the cinnamon was good too.

I’m tempted to make a half-size version for my next party. They’d make great finger food, and I’m always looking for recipes where I can make a big batch with lots of different flavors inside for variety. Let’s see, I could do cherry, and strawberry, and maybe chocolate – ooh, I bet you could get away with any sturdy pastry cream, too….

( see the recipe )

Snickerdoodles

My boyfriend loves snickerdoodles.  I don’t dislike them, but when I want cookies, they never seem to come to mind.  I’m much more likely to make peanut butter cookies, or chocolate chip cookies, or oatmeal-raisin cookies.

But I saw a recipe on The Kitchn the other day, and it looked interesting, mostly because of the technique.  Almost all cookie recipes are the same:  Cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs and vanilla, add the flour, add in chips/raisins.

This one is different – you melt the butter, then mix together all the dry ingredients.  Whisk the eggs and vanilla into the butter (let it cool first!).  Then combine the wet and dry ingredients, make into balls, roll in cinnamon and sugar, bake, and you’re done.

I upped the spices quite a bit from the original.  If you like your cookies less cinnamon-y, you can use less – but if you don’t want cinnamon, why are you making snickerdoodles?

They come out amazingly soft and chewy – I’m not sure how much of that was the melted butter and how much was the technique, but whatever it was really worked.  You end up with a very thin sugar crust on the outside, with a soft, chewy center inside.

I was planning to also be able to comment on how good they were the next day – but they didn’t last that long!

( see the recipe )