Monday, October 29, 2012

Bacon Cayenne Snickerdoodles

So, Boyfriend wanted his teenage son to learn how to cook this past summer.  His son was surprisingly amenable to and good-natured about the idea.  Boyfriend taught him to grill and smoke meat, and I taught him how to saute, sear, wilt, sweat, stir-fry, pan-fry, cook, and bake pretty much everything else.  At the end of the summer, he made snickerdoodles all by himself.  And they turned out really well!  Boyfriend's son was so excited because he loves snickerdoodles.  LOVES snickerdoodles.  Who can blame him, really?  Chewy yummy salty-sweet cookies with that delicious cinnamon sugar coating?  Yes, please!  Anyways, I was trying to talk to him about how, once you've got the hang of a recipe, you can play with it.  Off the top of my head, I spouted off the idea of bacon snickerdoodles.  You should have seen his eyes lit up!  Oh my, was he ever interested in that idea!  So, I decided to make some to ship to him for his birthday.

I had a general idea about how I wanted to make these, but there were surprisingly few bacon snickerdoodle recipes out there!  I figured someone would have figured it out already!  This recipe caught my eye, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for.  It was good inspiration to add the cayenne, though!  So, I went for a standard snickerdoodle recipe and adapted it.  These were quite the success!  Just a little hint of heat and the right amount of bacon make these the perfect combination of sweet, salty, and spicy!  Boyfriend commented that the cayenne creeps up on you just enough so that you notice it after the fourth cookie or so and decide to stop eating.  Can't say I ever ate four of them, but I'll take his word for it.  It obviously didn't slow Boyfriend down too much, though, given that he ATE THEM ALL before I could ship some to his son.  But that's ok.  Once I post this recipe, his son can make them himself.  Because he learned how to cook.  And now, he can impress all the ladies with these easy gourmet treats.

Bacon Cayenne Snickerdoodles (inspired by Food Beast, adapted from Allrecipes)

  • 1/2 c. bacon grease (I save mine every time I cook bacon and keep it in the refrigerator.  I highly encourage you to do this.  Makes it SO much easier to add a bit of bacon-y goodness to anything and everything!  Sub shortening if you don't have enough.)
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. plus 2 Tbl. white sugar, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 3/4 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp. salt (use 1/2 tsp. if using crumbed bacon)
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp. cayenne (use less if you don't like spicy food, more if you do!)
  • 1/2 c. cooked, crumbled bacon (optional ONLY if you're using the full amount of bacon grease)
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

Cream together bacon grease, butter, brown sugar, and 1/2 c. white sugar.  If you don't have any (or nearly enough) bacon grease, you can make up the difference with shortening.  Once the fats and sugars have been creamed together, beat in eggs, one at a time.  Sift together the dry ingredients, and stir them into the butter mixture.  If you had the full amount of bacon grease, feel free to leave out the crumbled bacon.  If you leave out the crumbled bacon, use 3/4 tsp. salt.  Use 1/2 tsp. salt if you are using bacon.  Stir in the bacon, if using.  Form the dough into 1- to 1 1/2-in balls.  Mix together remaining 2 Tbl. sugar and the cinnamon.  Roll the dough balls in the cinnamon sugar mixture until coated.

Place dough balls on a cookie sheet, roughly two inches apart.  Bake 8-10 minutes at 400* F, or until edges are just set.  Remove from oven, let cool for 10 minutes, and then remove from baking sheet.  Devour.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Veggie-ful Spice Cupcakes

I can tell that the weather is getting colder by what's showing up in my CSA box.  We've gotten a lot of squash and root vegetables lately.  This has meant getting pretty creative, since Boyfriend HATES squash.  And I mean HATES squash.  I've successfully hidden it in chili and mac and cheese so far.  The risotto was not successful.  We've also been getting beets.  And I HATE beets.  I had two bunches of beets, again from the CSA box, sitting in my fridge, staring at me.  The only thing that I have made in the past where I could tolerate beets were cupcakes.  So, I decided to run with that again.  When I made them last time, it was basically like a spice cake or carrot cake, but with beets instead of carrots.  So, since my mom makes the best carrot cake EVER, I decided to adapt her recipe, and just sub beets for carrots.  But, I was making them for my dance instructor's birthday, and he's constantly complaining that he's on a diet.  So, I decided that I needed to lighten up the recipe a bit.  My mom usually substitutes applesauce for some of the oil in her recipe, but I didn't have any applesauce lying around.  I pondered a bit more and remembered that I've heard of people using baby food or other fruit/vegetable purees instead of oil, too.  And then the seed of an idea formed.  I could roast and puree that acorn squash that I'd been trying to figure out how to surreptitiously feed to Boyfriend and use THAT instead of some of the oil!  I'd hide not one, but TWO hated vegetables in these cupcakes!
I made sure to make them when he wasn't around and not to tell him what the secret ingredients were until AFTER they were all gone.

Mission accomplished.  We both liked the cupcakes, AND I got rid of two bunches of beets and an acorn squash.  So, next time you're dreading a vegetable, try to figure out how to turn it into a dessert.  Butter and sugar make everything taste better, right?

P.S., Mom, I'm sorry for bastardizing your cupcakes.  But not really.  Because they were tasty.

Veggie-ful Spice Cupcakes (adapted from my mom's carrot cake recipe)

  • 1 c. applesauce or pumpkin, sweet potato, or acorn or butternut squash puree
  • 1/3 c. canola oil
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 c. spiced rum (optional)
  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 Tbl. cinnamon
  • 3 c. shredded beets or carrots

Combine the oil, sugar, and puree, and mix until thoroughly combined.  Beat in the eggs, two at a time.  Mix in the spiced rum, if desired.  Sift together the dry ingredients, add them to the wet ingredients, and stir until mostly combined.  Stir in the shredded beets or carrots until everything is mixed.

Evenly divide the batter into greased muffin tins (an ice cream scoop works well for this!), and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350* F.  You'll get ~two dozen cupcakes out of this recipe.  Alternatively, pour into a 9x13-in cake pan and bake for 40-50 minutes for a single-layer, rectangular cake, or divide between two 8- or 9-in round cake pans and bake for 30-40 minutes for a two-layer round cake.

Top with your favorite cream cheese frosting, caramel frosting, brown butter frosting, or whatever floats your boat.  Just don't do Greek yogurt frosting in an effort to get the tangy effect of cream cheese without running to the store to buy it.  It will never set up.  Ever.