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Snackfully yours: Salted honey & spice crackers

25 May

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The honey obsession continues.

No matter how tried-and-true and perfect a recipe in front of me is, I find that I can almost never make myself stick to the script.  I used to be a stickler when it came to following a recipe, scared that any deviation would result in a flawed product.  Eventually I got comfortable enough with the most common cast of characters (ingredients) that I knew when it was safe to make adjustments here and there.  Now I’m always changing something; adding a new ingredient or trying a new substitution, and often making multiple changes.  In the end it becomes almost impossible to distinguish which modifications worked and which didn’t.  I think with this recipe I’ve struck a good balance, adopting one recipe’s method to new ingredients.  See for yourself.

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Honey spice crackers
Method adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from multiple sources.

Saltine crackers to fill a 11 x 17 baking sheet in a single layer (I used close to 1.5 sleeves of the original salted variety)
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into a few large pieces

1/2 tsp apple pie spice or cinnamon
1 cup honey
Several dashes salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/2 cup slices or slivered almonds

Small handful chia seeds or seeds of choice
Extra sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet completely with foil, and then line the base of the foil with parchment paper, cut to fit.

Line the bottom of the baking sheet with crackers, breaking into smaller pieces to fill any gaps

In a medium heavy-duty saucepan, melt the butter and stir in honey and cinnamon/spices.  Cook over medium heat until it begins to boil. Once it boils, let it bubble for three more minutes, stirring it well. It will thicken a bit as it cooks. Remove from the heat and add the salt and vanilla, and then quickly pour it over the crackers.  Pour carefully, covering as many of the crackers as possible, as it is difficult to spread once poured, and will start to set in a few minutes (I poured a bit too much over the middle and had to lift some of the crackers and spoon the excess to have enough to cover the outer crackers).

Sprinkle the slivered almonds and seeds over the coated crackers, pressing gently if loose.

Bake the honey-covered crackers for 15 minutes, watching carefully as it will bubble and the corners might darken too quickly and/or burn. Reduce the heat if you see this happening.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with addition sea salt if desired.  Let cool.

Break the crackers apart and store in an airtight container.

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Sweet snack alternative: Puffed wheat “kettlecorn”

15 Apr

I came upon some puffed wheat cereal in the store and decided to give it a try as a nice whole-grain option for breakfast.  I expected it to be more dense, but it is so light and airy that it immediately reminded me of popcorn.  I was really excited to roll with that and try to put my own spin on it, making a healthier kettlecorn using maple syrup.  The end result makes a yummy snack, but I won’t lie that there was a moment after I finished where I was like “Ohhhh, I just made honey nut cheerios…”.  I could probably just buy honey nut cheerios, but I like to think this is an “elevated” version.

The candy coating on this snack is very minimal, so you don’t get the same kind of clumping that you would expect from caramel corn, which has that satisfying bite to it.  You could definitely play around with the recipe, increasing the coating so that there are more crunchy clumps, with the caveat that the sugar/fat content will go up.  The final result also does not taste strongly of maple, or honey, but rather has a general sweetness that you may or may not prefer.  Regardless, this was a fun experiment, and I think the puffed wheat has a lot of potential in other snack/baking recipes, so I’m excited to keep playing with it.

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Puffed Wheat “Kettlecorn”

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

7-8 cups puffed kamut or puffed durum wheat

1 cup slivered almonds or nuts of choice

1/2 cup pure maple syrup (I also added a drizzle of honey, couldn’t resist)

2 tbsp. butter + 2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions:

1) Preheat the oven to 200°F and line a large pan with parchment paper.

2) Pour the puffed wheat and nuts into a large bowl, and set aside.

3) Set a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the maple syrup, butter + EVOO, and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a low boil.

4) Cook the mixture to 230°F, thread stage on a candy thermometer. To test this, allow a drop of the syrup to cool, then pull it between two fingers; if it forms a thread between your fingers, it’s ready.

5) Remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in vanilla and add the baking soda. Stir thoroughly, the syrup will foam up.

6) Immediately pour the hot syrup over the puffed wheat and pecans, and stir until it is evenly coated.

7) Spread the mixture onto the parchment-lined pan. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15-20 minutes to prevent burning.

8) Remove tray from the oven and allow to cool.  This can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several days (if you’re in a high-humidity area, it may or may not lose some of the crunch).

Eat!  This would be a great dry snack at the movies, or even eaten just like any other sweet cereal with milk in the morning.

 

 

Crunch on this: Baked apple chips

8 Mar

First batch (thinnest slices=flattest crispest)

First batch (thinnest slices=flattest crispest)

I made a batch of these on a whim, with the idea that if they turned out well they could be crumbled and used as a dessert topping, similar to toasted coconut. For whatever reason I was super skeptical that I could bake these at home and get the crispy texture I was looking for. I’ve only ever had dried apple slices, which have a more rubbery texture, and I had this mental block where figured that that was the only way to snack on them. Well, my mind is officially unblocked. Mind blown, in fact. These baked apple chips are so easy to make, so yummy, and so crisp (like seriously about the same texture as Pringles). I was shocked at how much flavor they retained even after baking. The only downside is that you can only make about an apple’s worth at a time, which are all too easy to devour in 5 seconds. Still though, if you’re having a lazy Sunday it’s easy to just keep popping batches in the oven. Also, I got a mandoline for Christmas last year and I don’t know if I could have gotten these results without one, but I’m sure those of you with better knife skills can make do without. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a bowl of these waiting for me! Pics then recipe.

My new favorite toy

My new favorite toy


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Before

Before


After

After


Second batch (thicker slices=curlier chip, smaller, more crunch but longer baking time)

Second batch (thicker slices=curlier chip, smaller, more crunch but longer baking time)


Pretty

Pretty

Baked Apple Chips
*my variation is adapted from multiple sources

1 granny smith apple
1 lemon slice (or just cut a lemon in half and use one half)
1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar (optional)
Tools: mandoline slicer (recommended) or a very sharp knife and two steady hands

Instructions:
Remove two of your metal oven racks.

Preheat oven to 200 Farenheit.

Slice your apple very thin*. Briefly rub each piece with your lemon slice (I used half a lemon and squeezed gently as I went). Lay a large piece of parchment paper on one of your removed oven racks and lay out your apple slices, in a single layer. Use as much paper/space as you have room for. Repeat with second oven rack if one isn’t big enough. Sprinkle slices with cinnamon sugar, if using. Gently replace prepared oven racks in oven, towards the middle if possible. After you close the oven door, take a wooden spoon and gently wedge the handle in the oven door so that it stays very very slightly ajar (it just needs a crack so that the moisture from the apples will vent). Bake for 1-1.5 hour**.

These are best eaten immediately (not hard to do, trust me). They should keep overnight, but longer than that and they get gradually chewier (I tried to counteract this by keeping them in an airtight container with some rice, but not totally successful).

*My mandoline slicer has three settings, so I tried the first batch on the thinnest setting, which produced chips just a little thicker than tissue paper, which was delicious, though more fragile if you need to transport them. For the second batch I used the middle setting, resulting in slices about 1/16 inch thick. If you are using a knife, aim for 1/16. Finally, a note on texture/chip shape: I found that my tissue-paper-thin slices stayed relatively flat and didn’t shrink as much as my thicker slices, which curled noticably. This might be because they were more adhered to the parchment paper (and needed to be removed carefully, as opposed to the thicker pieces, which did not stick). I still can’t decide which batch I liked best, and will let you decide for yourself.

**Baking time may vary depending on the thickness of your apple slices. For my first, tissue-thin, batch I checked them after 55 minutes, thinking I would need to flip them and keep baking, and was surprised to find that they were perfect. For my second, thicker batch, they needed about an hour and 15 minutes. You’ll have to use your judgement. If they are not totally chip-like when you check them, note that they will crisp up a little as they cool, but they should be browning (in my experience the pieces that are still white/light don’t crisp up completely). Also, if you are using both oven racks, you may want to switch their positions halfway through for even baking.

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