1.12.2017

Apple Pecan Bircher Muesli or Soaked Oats



Raise your hand if you love Bircher Muesli or soaked oats.  I do!  

Raise your hand if you ate like it was your job over the holidays.  Both of my hands are high in the air.  Thank heavens there is a January.  The month of new beginnings and resolutions. A chance to eat healthy once again and never binge on chocolates, cookies, steamed puddings, and other wonderful temptations of the season. Ha!

After Christmas I started making Bircher Muesli or Soaked Oats topped with any seasonal fruit I could find.  My options are the last remaining Honeycrisp apples, oranges from Arizona that my dear sister brought me, and pomegranates.  Can you believe I think I personally ate 10 pomegranates during the month of December.  I love them and don't mind picking the seeds from my teeth at all. Each pomegranate that I open is a new adventure as I pick out the little arils that just burst in my mouth.  I just can't think of anything I can't top with pomegranate arils.  


During the summer months I noticed that most of what I was eating was raw.  Who knew raw beets were so delicious? I love them raw!   I was feasting on the vegetables from my garden and the many wonderful locally grown fruits.  In fact, I believe for a week about 90% of everything I ate was raw.  I was amazed at how good I felt.  I felt fabulous!  I was loosing a bit of weight.  I was running better than the previous year.  I felt so great on the inside.    


Bircher Muesli are just rolled oats soaked in a liquid.  Most soaked oats are soaked in milk or plant based milk.  Almond milk is a wonderful milk to use.  I personally love soaking my oats in fresh squeezed orange juice.  I love the brightness of flavor that it brings to the Muesli. I should mention that I don't add a sweetener because I feel like the orange juice is sweet enough.  If I were going to use almond milk, I would stir in a little maple syrup or honey.  I love honey.

This is what I used to prepare my Bircher Muesli:

2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 cups fresh Orange Juice
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt or plain Greek yogurt
and a pinch of Himalayan pink salt

In a medium size bowl, combine 2 cups of oats and 1 1/2 tablespoons chia seeds.  Pour 2 cups fresh orange juice over the mixture and stir.



Throw in a good pinch of salt.


And 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt or plain  Greek yogurt.

At this point you could add dried fruits, flax, coconut, nuts...anything healthy and delicious to you.

I like to wait until I'm ready to serve before adding fresh fruit or nuts.


Mix well.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.


The next morning, remove the soaked mixture and stir.


This is the best part.  I'm going to stir in the nuts and chopped apples then top with orange slices and pomegranate arils.




My perfect bowl of Bircher Muesli...well almost perfect.  Cocoa nibs would make it perfect. Everything could use a few cocoa nibs.  I love those things.  They are my favorite food group, if that's possible.



Make this year fresh, raw, and healthy. 

Apple Pecan Bircher Muesli 

2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 cups fresh Orange Juice
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt or plain Greek yogurt
pinch of salt
1 cup chopped Honeycrisp apples, skins left on
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped

Fruit toppings:
oranges
pomegranate arils
Additional nuts, if desired

In a large mixing bowl, stir together rolled oats, chia seeds, orange juice and yogurt.  Cover and refrigerate over night.  To serve:  Mix in chopped apples, pecans, and almonds.  Serve in individual bowls and top with chopped oranges, pomegranate arils, and additional nuts, if desired. Makes about 4 servings.  Muesli will last in refrigerator 3-4 days.


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12.23.2016

Gingerbread Hot Chocolate


For some odd reason the truffle shells that I use to make my Christmas chocolates never arrived. Which is just weird because I have been ordering them from the same source for years now.  I was extremely disappointed as I put my Gingerbread Truffle recipe away.  That's when I thought that gingerbread hot chocolate would be AMAZING!  

IT IS!



The recipe is simple and makes a very rich dark hot chocolate with great gingerbread flavor.  
You will need:

2 cups milk
1 cup cream
2 tablespoons molasses
10 whole cloves
10 allspice berries
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-inch piece of ginger, chopped
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
Whipped cream
Marshmallows

You probably noticed that I'm not adding sugar to this recipe.  I personally like my hot chocolate more bitter than sweet so I don't feel the need for sugar.  The molasses adds enough sweet for me.  You may add sugar, if you feel the recipe needs to be sweeter.


In a small sauce pan, add milk, cream, molasses, and spices.


Bring to a simmer.


Once the mixture begins to simmer, remove from heat and cover with a lid.  Allow to steep for 20 minutes.


Strain milk mixture and discard solids.


Reheat the milk mixture and add cocoa and chocolate. I used raw cacao and callebaut bittersweet chocolate callets.


Whisk until the chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth.

Serve hot topped with whipped cream, marshmallows, or both!



Have a very Merry Christmas and a great new year.


Gingerbread Hot Chocolate
2 cups milk
1 cup cream
2 tablespoons molasses
10 whole cloves
10 allspice berries
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-inch piece of ginger, chopped
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
Whipped Cream
Marshmallows

In a small saucepan add milk, cream, molasses and spices.  Over low heat barely bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and cover. Allow mixture to steep for 20 minutes.  Strain out the solids and disgard.  Reheat milk mixture then add cocoa and chopped chocolate.  Whisk until thick and smooth.
Serve with whipped cream or marshmallows or both!  Makes 3 cups

















12.09.2016

English Toffee


English Toffee is part of our Christmas chocolates tradition.  I had hoped to have this post for English Toffee up at least 2 weeks ago.  In fact, I had hoped to have at least two more of my favorite chocolate recipes posted.  I had a little accident that prevented my chocolate dipping.

I had just come home from a very cold morning run.  I was chilled to the bone.  I decided to make My favorite oatmeal after a cold morning run. I poured the oatmeal into my favorite kitty bowl that I had purchased from Anthro to remind me of my two old kitties that we had to have put down the past few months (I know, so sad. It broke my heart).  Anyway...I took a spoonful and was amazed at how wonderful and warming it was.  I walked to a chair to sit and enjoy my breakfast and the bowl slipped from my hands.  In an effort to rescue my oatmeal, I tried to break the fall of the bowl.  As I caught the bowl it had already broke and a sharp edge cut the palm of my hand.  Blah, blah, blah.  Dipping delayed a week.  


My Christmas candy making is almost complete.  I'm still waiting on truffle shells that I ordered a week BEFORE Thanksgiving.  What the heck?  So...truffles just may not get made this year.  


I hope that all of my failed attempts in making English Toffee will help your first attempt a success. Once year I seriously went through 8 pounds of butter trying to make this stuff. Just as the toffee was nearing temperature, the butter would separate from the sugar.  Ahhhh.  What was I doing wrong? Finally I talked with a candy making genius and she told me that I could have saved the batch.  All I needed to do was add 1/2 cup cold water to the separated mess and it would save my toffee.  Genius.

I will pass on my little tricks that can help make English Toffee a success.



You will need the following:

1 cup toasted almonds, chopped
2 cups (1 pound) butter
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 1/2 cups sugar
melted tempered chocolate for dipping
4-6 cups toasted almonds, finely chopped


Line a 10 x 15-inch baking sheet with non-stick aluminum foil.  Use regular foil, if non-stick isn't available.  Butter the foil.


Sprinkle 1 cups coarsely chopped almonds on buttered foil.


Set aside.


In a large HEAVY post melt butter and add remaining ingredients.

It was really hard for me to get great photo's during the process of the toffee cooking.  I'm a one woman show and it was hard to snap a shot while stirring constantly.


Candy is just temperamental.  So don't plan on leaving the toffee at all during this process.  Don't answer your phone or your door.  Just pay attention to the toffee.

Place the mixture over medium-high heat.  Stir the mixture constantly.  It will be very hot.  Stir constantly and make sure you get around the edges as you stir.  You don't want your toffee to burn.


Notice how the toffee has turned from bright yellow to a light tan.  At this point clip on a candy thermometer and DO NOT STIR any longer.  Turn the heat down SLIGHTLY not much and carefully watch and wait for the temperature to reach 290F (145C).


The color will have darkened.  The second the temp reaches 290F (145C) immediately remove from the heat and pour into the prepared baking sheet.

BE CAREFUL this stuff is HOT!!




I had a few air bubbles form because of the almonds.  I just poked them with a toothpick and they went away.

Let the mixture cool for exactly 12 minutes.


Use the foil to help lift toffee from the baking sheet and place onto a cutting board.  Take a knife and score the top of the toffee.  I made my squares 1 1/4 inch by 1 1/4 inch.

You don't have to score the toffee at all.  You can just wait for it to cool and break it into random pieces.  That's how I used to do it until my hair dresser told me how to score the toffee.  Fabulous tip!


When the toffee is cool enough to handle, you can just continue to cut through with a sharp knife.  I just broke the toffee along the score lines with my hands.


At this point I store the toffee in a tin lined with waxed paper.  I keep it in a cool place until I am ready to dip.  I have made the toffee as much as 3 weeks before dipping.


In a food processor add about 4-6 cups of toasted almonds.


Pulse until you get a fine texture.


Pour the nuts onto a baking sheet that has been lined with waxed paper.  This just makes clean up a bit easier.


Last year I finally broke down and purchased a used chocolate tempering machine.  I wish I would have bought this 35 years ago!!!


Dip each piece of toffee into the chocolate.


Place on the chopped nuts.


Gently cover completely with more chopped nuts.


Let the toffee sit covered in nuts until the chocolate is firm.  I make little mounds all around.  This is a great job for a child.  I used to let my kids stay home a day from school to help with chocolate dipping.  This was one of their jobs.  I'm a firm believer that school should not get in the way of an education.


Carefully place toffee on another baking sheet that has been lined with waxed paper.  I should mention that I chill my house to 60 degrees anytime I'm dipping chocolate.  It's a perfect temperature for chocolate to set.  It's pretty dang cold.  I generally wear a pair of wool socks and slippers so my feet stay warm.

Store toffee in a cool place.  I have a cold storage room in my basement that works perfectly.  I layer the all my candy in tins and waxed paper.  Works like a charm.

 


 



This is what Christmas tastes like.  


English Toffee
1 cup toasted almonds, chopped
2 cups (1 pound) butter
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 1/2 cups sugar
melted tempered chocolate for dipping
4-6 cups toasted almonds, finely chopped

Line a 10 x 15-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Butter the foil.  Spread with coarsely chopped nuts then set aside.  In a heavy 3-quart saucepan, combine butter, water corn syrup and sugar.  Place over high heat and stir constantly until mixture begins to thicken and turns to very light brown in color.  Reduce heat to medium-high and clip on a candy thermometer.  Cook until mixture reaches 290F (145C).  Remove from heat and carefully pour over chopped almonds in prepared baking sheet.
Let cool for exactly 12 minutes.  Lift toffee out onto a cutting board and score toffee to desired size and shape.  Let cool,  Break along score lines.  Cool completely.  Dip toffee into tempered chocolate then roll in chopped almonds.  Place on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper and cool until chocolate has hardened.  Store toffee in a cool location.  Can be made in advance and kept for at least 3 weeks.  makes about 4-5 pounds of toffee

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