Hazelnut and Maple Muffins

A few days back a dear friend and avid blog reader asked me to make these hazelnut sticks for her. I happily obliged and then a little too happily ate more than my fair share. Oops.

Anyway, eating those delicious crunchy hazelnutty treats made me realize how much I love the unadulterated flavor of hazelnuts and I wanted to capture that flavor in something quicker: muffins. Now I really like muffins, even the bottoms which is usually what I wind up with since my husband and daughter are unabashed muffin top fiends.

Hazelnut and Maple Muffins

I did some thinking and came up with this recipe, fully prepared for this to be round one of many, but lady luck was on my side and these muffins are sheer perfection. The soft flavor of the hazelnuts is beautifully complimented by that of the maple syrup. I know it seems like a lot of syrup, but as it bakes the flavor mellows. Also, as tempting as they are fresh from the oven you must let them cool completely before trying one. They are well worth the wait.

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Ferrero Rocher Stuffed Brownies

It’s almost that time. That time when the excess of the holidays and it’s impact on our overall well-being (aka waistline) catches up with us and we swear to ourselves to eat better, live better, be better. Well before all that noble stuff kicks in let’s go out and buy an obscene amount of chocolate and make these brownies.

Ferrero Rocher Brownies

The Ferrero Rocher that is nestled within takes these brownies over the top, but even without it the actual brownie itself is exceptional. My usual go to recipe is a cocoa based brownie that comes together in a saucepan and while I would never give it up, this folks, is truly spectacular. Think rich deep chocolaty flavor and a distinct crumb that is almost cakey, but with the moist chew that is a must have for brownies.

Ferrero Rocher Brownies

Happy New Years folks, go out, celebrate, eat these brownies and I’ll see you next year 🙂

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Orange Sugar Palmiers

Pretty much every bakery in Karachi sells Palmiers or French Hearts. They are one of those things that I can rarely resist picking up when I am back in Karachi, but am frequently disappointed by. The thing is they are just a little… boring you know?

Orange Sugar Palmiers

In one of my recent nostalgic moods I pulled out a sheet of all butter puff pastry from my freezer and looked around for inspiration. It came quickly in the form of two lackluster oranges lying in my fruit bowl. Remember the citrus sugar I had made for beignets? I zested the oranges, rubbed the zest into some granulated sugar, added a teensy bit of salt and wow, these were really good. The orange zest brightens the flavor of these flaky petite puff pastry treats and transforms them into something extraordinary.

They’re also really pretty (if I do say so myself) and would make great hostess gifts or a very welcome addition to the usual smorgasbord of Christmas cookies.

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Double Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pistachios

I don’t know about you all, but we have been having a moody few days in Toronto. Dark skies, snow storms, rain, and then the one sunny/warm day we had was accompanied by forceful winds. My body is already craving summer. Since there is little I can do about the weather I decided to revisit a favorite in the form of these deeply chocolaty cookies with salty subtle pistachios and chocolate chips.

So. Freaking. Good.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pistachios

I had my concerns you know – especially since I pretty much made these from memory. My recipes disappear on me sometimes. They’re sneaky like that. Fortunately, my memory hasn’t failed me entirely and these babies were pretty darn delicious.

They are also extremely customizable. With the Holidays upon us they would be a great hostess gift and you can make them more Christmas-y by using red/green M&Ms or white chocolate chips and mint extract. The possibilities are endless.

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Crunchy Delicious Hazelnut Sticks

There are biscuits you make to impress people – the pretty kind, the indulgent kind, the kind that you look at and ooh and aah. These are clearly not those biscuits, these are the biscuits that you put into the nearest jar and share with a good friend over coffee and really good conversation. There is something extraordinarily comforting about the crunch of finely chopped hazelnuts toasted to nutty caramelly perfection and I can imagine them disappearing quickly over gossip with friends.

Delicious Hazelnut Crunch Sticks

If you wanted to make these prettier looking you could do so with a little drizzle of chocolate or a dunk in Nutella and some nonpareils. Before gussying them up try them as they are just so you can truly appreciate just how something so simple can be so good.

Added perks? Great hazelnut taste without peeling and toasting hazelnuts AND they are eggless for those avoiding eggs.

Delicious Hazelnut Crunch Sticks

These babies are from Alice Medrich’s book Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy and so far most of the things that I have tried from this book have turned out well including these.

Crunchy Delicious Hazelnut Sticks

On another note, I am sorry for the lack of posts. A crazy combination of time away, failed photos, recipes that I came up with and forgot to write down has meant that I have been an absentee blogger. My instagram followers (@sarahjmir) know that for the most of it I have been cooking and baking away and will have lots to share with you in the coming weeks!

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Coffee Flecked Blondies with Browned Butter and White Chocolate Chunks

I love blondies – I mean who doesn’t right? They’re basically chocolate chip cookie batter with all sorts of fun add ins. Here’s the thing though sometimes they just make my teeth hurt from their over the topness. I think it’s old age, but I now like my sweets a little less sweet and after trying to find a recipe that sounded right and failing this is what I came up with.

Coffee Flecked Browned Butter Blondies w White Chocolate Chunks

These are rich with the caramelly undertones of browned bitter, just sweet enough and chewy from the combination of sugars, nuanced thanks to the ground coffee interspersed throughout and have white chocolate chunks mixed in to to provide a perfect counterpoint to the more ‘adult’ flavours of this sophisticated take on a blondie.

Coffee Flecked Browned Butter Blondies w White Chocolate Chunks

The ground coffee sounds odd, but finely ground coffee for a drip coffee maker works like a charm. You can dial it down a little if it makes you nervous, but my coffee loving self wouldn’t want to add more. Just be sure to watch the clock carefully on this one – it bakes pretty quickly.

Coffee Flecked Browned Butter Blondies w White Chocolate Chunks

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Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

I made these cookies in a  rush as I was meeting some people at the park and had to get out of the door. When I got around to having them at said park I liked them, but I can’t say I loved them you know. Then I came home and had half the  dough left so I baked more cookies and when I bit into them… oh my. These were good.

Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

It’s like a fridge is a magic machine – amazing things just happen sometimes when you let things be in there. Especially cookie doughs with butter and caramelly brown sugar. The flavors develop more, the cookies become more moist and presto we go from good to great.

IMG_6351Moral of the story: rest the dough for a few hours 🙂

These are thin, a little chewy, dark, deep and not too sweet. The oatmeal adds some texture to the cookie and the chips are purely optional – feel free to leave them out.

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Baked Samosas and Eid Party Details!

I’m  backkkkk …. guys isn’t it a little ridiculous how much something as well… common…as the common cold can really get you down? I usually escape these sorts of things, but this time round it got the best of me for a few days – throw teething and the usual sleep deprivation into the mix and well… it hasn’t been pretty round here.

On to happier things – and we have two of them today. One is Eid Eats, the virtual Eid party Asiya at Chocolate & Chillies and I are hosting and the other is a lovely baked samosa recipe that is from Asiya’s blog.

Eid-ul-Fitr has always had a soft spot in my heart – and not just because of the money/’fitri’ we got as kids from all of our relatives 😉  This is the Eid where my family would host an ‘open house’, a way for everyone to get together to celebrate this wonderful occasion. While the traditional sivaiyan and samosas would usually be present at these occasions there would also be some things that I had never made before. This is where I got to experiment and have fun.

final eid eats

In the spirit of those good times I would like to ask you all to join our virtual Eid party, Eid Eats. Here is how it would work:-

1.) Make any dish of your choosing that you would make for Eid – something new, something old, either goes – write a post and have it ready for the 25th of July 2014.

2.) Link back to both our blogs i.e. Flour & Spice and Chocolate & Chillies and use the button above in all of your posts (pretty cute isn’t it!)

3.) On July 25th, Asiya and I will have our posts up – do remember to add your post to the link up.

4.) Remember to visit and leave comments on participating blogs – who doesn’t like a little bit of love 🙂

Also some of you may recall that Henna at My Ninja Naan was originally supposed to be my co-host, but has had to bow out owing to personal circumstances. Hopefully next year 🙂

Now on to the yumminess at hand.

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A Samosa needs no introduction; this rendition escapes the deep fryer and instead gets a crispy baked exterior with the added flavour punch of ajwain or carom seeds.  I intended to use Asiya’s exact recipe for the filling, but was out of peas and threw in cilantro for some freshness. Folks this one is a keeper. And I am not just saying that because standing over a deep fryer in summer is no fun. The exterior is flaky and flavorful and the spicy filling is simple, but oh-so-good.

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Nutella Swirl Banana Bread Muffins

These muffins are a bad influence on me. The other day I was at a friends house storing some homemade ice cream I had brought over and I saw about half a dozen bananas in the freezer. I wanted them. So bad. Just so I could come home and make these muffins.

All I have left in my freezer is one shrivelled up little banana and there are no bananas in the house right now let alone over ripe ones. Don’t worry guys I resisted. Only because it’s a gluten free household and I couldn’t have offered her a few muffins in exchange for the bananas – yes, I did think of that.

I was about to wax lyrical about these muffins, but really – with a name like Nutella Swirl Banana Bread Muffins is a sales pitch really needed? You kinda get the picture right?

Nutella Swirl Banana Bread Muffins

Yes, I said get the picture and then inserted a picture below that. I am so not corny.

Okay so here are my favorite parts about this muffin – the chocolatey swirl, the caramelly undertone of the browned butter (only 1/4 cup!), and that it has half a cup of brown sugar making it less sweet, but perfect for a breakfast that feels more indulgent than it is. Win win I say, win win.

A big ol’ thank you to Jess over at On Sugar Mountain for sharing these!

Now if only I had more bananas….

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Double Chocolate Brownie Bark

Think chocolatey chewiness, like the very edge of a pan of brownies, but a whole sheets worth. That my friends is brownie bark and when I saw this recipe by the talented Becky (just look at those pictures!) over at A Bite of Becky I knew this had to happen asap. Also ice cream season summer means that I always have egg whites to spare and this seemed like a far better use for them than my thousandth omelet. It is also very easy to whip up.

My first batch had the 2 tbsp of Cocoa powder that Becky recommended but my El Camino cocoa is clearly made of weaker stuff because I ended up with these.

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At 3tbsp however magic happened – I am talking dense dark chocolatey magic, the kind that makes it difficult to eat just one piece even though rationally you know one piece ought to be enough. Add on a sprinkle of sea salt and resisting is just not an option.

Double Chocolate Brownie Bark

These are best the day they are made and keep well for an additional 2 days.

Double Chocolate Brownie Bark

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