Sweet Nothings

Ah, desserts.  What can I say, I’m a sucker for them.  It makes me just as happy to bake them as it is to eat them.  I’m also not one to shy away from a more traditional dessert that uses something other than the item more readily available in baking today; sugar.  You know the stuff, granulated white sugar, sugar cane, and brown sugar.  Don’t get me wrong, I would never hate conventional sugars, for then I’d have to hate something I enjoy making with them, but I do enjoy using other varieties of sweeteners.

And I’m not talking sugar-free or substitutes or fake sugars akin to the likes of Splenda or something.  You will perhaps see various types of substitutions or alternatives on this blog, but it will never be of the sugar variety, involving those chemical monstrosities.  Oh-ho, no!  I’m talking things from nature and things in their least processed forms such as honey, molasses, and maple syrup.

So, this post is about desserts (or sweet things) with things besides sugar for sweetness.  Two do have sugars, but one of them contains molasses and the other a really fun element that I was new to; the paste filling!  It is sugar based, but in a completely different form.

 

>>solofoods.com

Solo Almond Cake

I am not a fan of Bundt cakes, at all, but this one is so delicious.  I was just browsing the baking isle one day, like you do, and way on the very bottom shelf were two small cans wrapped in blue paper; both by the company Solo, these were cake and pastry fillings, one poppy seed and the other almond.  I had to try one, so I purchased the almond.  This is one of the two recipes supplied under the label.

  • 1 C butter, softened
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can Solo Almond Filling
  • 2 1/2 C flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 C milk
  • 1 C confectioners sugar
  • 1 Tbs light cream*
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

Grease and flour 10″ tube or 12 cup Bundt pan.  Beat butter and granulated sugar in large bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in almond filling until blended.  In a separate bowl, stir in flour, baking powder, and salt until mixed.  Add to almond mixture alternating with milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.  Beat until blended.  Spread batter evenly into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50 – 55 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool completely on rack.

To glaze cake, combine confectioners sugar, cream, and almond extract in small bowl, stirring until blended and smooth.  Spoon or drizzle over top of cake.  Let stand until glaze is set.

Notes:

  • This cake freezes well.  I cut the cake into thirds.  Left a third out to eat, and froze the other two thirds individually and we had cake throughout the year.  Just wrap in cellophane and then tin foil and use masking tape to seal the openings.  Remove from freezer and let defrost on counter top.  If using glaze, just wait to prepare that for when you’ll eat the cake.
  • I have prepared this with a glaze and without.  It’s good either way.  It’s also not overly sweet and is really pleasant tasting.  You could dust the cake in powdered sugar and I think that would be a nice in-between from plain and glazed.
  • *Cream.  You’ll want to use either Whipping Cream (not Heavy) or Half & Half for this recipe.  The recipe only calls for 1 Tbs of the cream.  You have options on what to do with the left over cream.
  • Half & Half is excellent in milk.  Whipping Cream is excellent for making Fettuccine Alfredo!
  • You can also freeze cream.  If you only need small portions, you can fill an ice-cube tray with cream and freeze, and each cube will equal 2 Tbs.  You can also freeze the entire carton, however if it’s completely full, you’ll want to remove some, as things expand when they are frozen.  This will still do anything and everything you need it to do once defrosted again.  However, it’s not recommended to keep freezing and defrosting the same item over again.  Once it’s defrosted you’ll need to use it all, so if you know you won’t do that, you can use the ice-cube tray method or pour cream into freezer Zip-lock bags or air-tight containers you know that will freeze well.  Then you can control the portioning better.
  • Almond extract is about $5 a bottle.  It will last a long while though, so is worth the purchase.  I already had a bottle prior to making this recipe for use in homemade coffee creamers.

 

 

>>rachelschultz.com

Fried Honey Banana

This is a recipe that I found on Pinterest.  It’s easy, it’s healthy, and it’s amazingly delicious as it tastes like Banana Fosters or Crème Brûlée.  It’s also really quick.

  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 1 Tbs honey*
  • 1 Tbs water
  • Cinnamon, to taste
  • Olive or coconut oil

Lightly drizzle oil in skillet over medium-high heat.  Arrange banana slices in pan and cook 1 – 2 minutes on each side.  In a bowl, whisk together the honey and water.  Remove banana’s from the heat and pour the honey mixture over the top.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Notes:

  • For this one, I read the recipe once and then forgot to bring it with me into the kitchen, so things went a little differently.  I forgot the water for the honey mixture, which would have helped as it was difficult to coat the banana’s in just honey.  Also, I added the cinnamon to the honey, instead of sprinkling on at the last.  It was still incredibly delicious, and still easy.  I would suggest adding the water to the honey, but you can decide if you wish to mix the cinnamon in with the honey water or sprinkle on top.
  • I used olive oil once, and coconut oil the second time.  Both were terrific.
  • *Honey.  I would suggest purchasing real honey.  You don’t have to spring for organic or anything super expensive, but you should make sure that what you’re buying is actual honey and not some sort of weird imitation honey.  Just check the ingredients on the back.  It should just say honey (sometimes honeycomb, if it happens to have a piece of honeycomb in it).  That’s all.
  • Also I would suggest purchasing locally source honey, if you can find it.  The bee’s make the honey from the pollen of flowers that you have in your area.  Because of this, it will help you with seasonal allergies, as that local pollen is in that local honey.
  • Sometimes local grocery stores (not large chains such as Wal-Mart) will carry local honey.  You can also check at farmers markets.  I know that around here one can also obtain large jars of inexpensive real and local honey at fairs, vendors set up on the side of the road, fruit and vegetable stands, and in hardware stores.  I’m not even kidding about that last part.  That’s where we purchase the majority of our honey, at Clements Hardware.

 

 

>theyummylife.com

Honey Almond Peach Refrigerated Oatmeal

This is another recipe that I found on Pinterest.  It was simply called Refrigerated Oatmeal and then listed varying recipes for things to add.  No one in my family was keen on the idea of cold oatmeal, except me.  I tried 3/6 of the suggested recipes, cobbled together two, and only liked the two that I tweaked, with the Honey Almond Peach being my favourite.  The recipe for the peaches and the raspberries are the same, so simply choose your fruit.  I’ll also add a few of the original Pinners versions.

  • 1/4 C old-fashioned rolled oats, uncooked
  • 1/3 C milk
  • 1/4 C Greek yoghurt
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp chia seeds
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 C peaches, diced or fresh raspberries, sliced*

In a clean, half-pint mason jar, add oats, milk, yoghurt, chia seeds, extract, and honey.  Put lid on and shake well to combine.  Unscrew lid, add fruit, stir with fork, return lid and close.  Refrigerate over night and no longer than 2 days.

Notes:

  • *Fruit.  Once I used can peaches in juice (not syrup), the other time they were fresh.  I wouldn’t recommend using frozen raspberries for this.
  • The original recipe called for 1/8 tsp of vanilla, but I chose almond.  You can use either.
  • The chia seeds can be expensive.  The Sister was needing some and I was going to use them for this, so we purchased a small bag at a local health food store.  They were surprisingly not gross, though I was a bit wary.  But, you do not have to use them if you don’t wish, though they are good for digestion and overall health.

Other Versions That I Liked:

  • Apple Cinnamon:  Combine ingredients from oats to chia seeds, then add 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp honey, follow directions as follows and then add chopped apple (with skin on) at the end.
  • Blueberry Maple:  Combine ingredients from oats to chia seeds, then add 2 tsp maple syrup*, follow directions as follows and then add 1/4 C fresh blueberries at the end.  

Notes:

  • *Maple syrup.  This can be rather expensive, and difficult to find, if you live far away from maple syrup making places like we do.  We are accustomed to large cans or jars of it, because this is what we were supplied with during my childhood.  However, our pantry stores of Canadian Maple Syrup have recently run dry.  *sad face*   It’s best not to make this if you’ll only be purchasing fake maple syrup.  The ingredients should only say maple syrup, though which ever grade you choose (dark, light, etc) is up to you.
  • We have seen small and medium-sized bottles of real maple syrup at local grocery stores.  We have even found cans and jars of various sizes, as well as a tasting grade sample at TJ Maxx before.  Recently we have found a large jug size at Sam’s Club.
  • The Yummy Life:  Go here if you want other recipes like chocolate banana, peanut butter banana, mango; or if you wish to know other tips and tricks for refrigerated oatmeal, as this is where my recipe came from.

 

 

>>food52.com

Molasses Cookies

These are a cookie that I grew up with, though was never made in my home.  Other people’s families would make them and bring them to bake sales or Christmas parties.  A few Christmas holidays ago was my first time to make them.  They are a tiny-tad bit tricky, but are absolutely delicious and were well worth all of the effort!  This one does have two types of sugars, but also… molasses!  Yay!

  • 2 1/2 C flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1 tsp ginger, ground
  • 1/2 tsp cloves, ground
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 C molasses*
  • Sugar for coating

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, soda, spices and salt.  Mix to combine and set aside.  In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and molasses.  In thirds, gently beat in the flour mixture until just combined.  Scoop balls of 1″ size of cooking mix and put on a baking tray that is covered in sugar.  Gently toss the cookie balls in the sugar to coat evenly.  Place sugared cookie balls on a separate baking tray and gently squish a little in the center.  Bake  at 350 degrees for 9 – 10 minutes.  Remove cookies to a cooling rack.

*Molasses:

Down here we only have two types of molasses, all of which are dark in colour and very thick.  It’s labeled either Molasses or Sorghum Molasses and then we have Blackstrap Molasses, which is generally just labeled as Blackstrap.  I have never seen molasses for sale at the grocery stores, we’ve only ever been able to purchase it at fruit stands or from people selling their wares on the side of the road.

However, the rest of the US apparently sees molasses differently than us way down here in the south, so I’ll help you out.  If you happen to have it in your grocery stores or you are shopping online, this is what you will notice.

  • Molasses (or Original Molasses): the first boiling, very light in colour and not very thick.  This is not what you want for this recipe, though apparently this is great for helping to make cookies soft or for breads to be crustier.  It’s also sold for use in making marinades and sauces and is claimed to be the most sold molasses type.  I’ve never even heard of it or tasted it.
  • Full Flavour Molasses (or Robust Molasses): this is the second boiling, dark in colour and quite thick.  You will want this one!
  • Blackstrap Molasses:  this is the third boiling, very dark in colour, and very thick.  It is also the healthiest of the three; less sweet, more vitamins.  This is not as preferable as the second boiling for this recipe, but it will work.
  • Molasses can be made from:  dates, carob, pomegranates, and sugar cane.  You’ll want the sugar cane variety, which is sorghum.
  • Unsulphered Molasses:  Apparently commercial molasses can contain sulphur as a preservative.  Never heard of such a thing, but then I’ve never purchased commercial brands.  I would have said no to sulphur to begin with, seeing as how this might make your molasses taste weird, it’s fine to ingest, but would you want to?  Upon further investigation, you don’t want it in there.  The sulphur breaks down and leaves a chemically taste behind, so you’ll want to purchase unsulphured.
  • The Back Label:  should read molasses, and either the type it is (sorghum, carob, etc), or possibly which boiling, but that is it.  If it has any other sugars or colouring additives, you should stay away from it.  It *might* have a thing or two added for shelf-life considering these would be commercial brands?  But, it might not.
  • New to Molasses:  Molasses is not like Aint Jemima’s or other thin syrups at your grocery store.  And it’s not like Maple Syrup.  Even Cane Syrup (also called Ribbon Cane Syrup) is different (it’s more like molasses, but less thick and slightly sweeter, but still in a weird way).  This is some hardcore stuff and it’s about the consistency of smooth tar that is only slightly sweet in a very, very weird way.  It’s great to bake with, but don’t just go thinking you can pour it on your pancakes and say it’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten.  If you’re new to it, it won’t taste like what you’re familiar with… at all!  Definitely have a taste if this is your first experience with molasses, and if you like the taste then feel free to slather it on some pancakes or biscuits or such.  But I just thought I should warn anyone who is stepping into unfamiliar territory.  Also, there’s a saying that we have in the south, “Slow as molasses”; because it pours about as well as a turtle runs!

 

 

 

Measurement Guide:

I always see recipes with varied measurement abbreviations.  I always use the standard form, but if you are not familiar with that, it is as follows.

  • C = cup(s)
  • Tbs = tablespoon
  • tsp = teaspoon
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