Bacon, Cheese, & Maple Syrup Muffins

When I first saw the title for these muffins, I thought they were going to be really unpleasant. I mean, pairing bacon with cheese and maple syrup? That was just too much of strange combination. As I was making these Bacon, Cheese, & Maple Syrup Muffins, I'd try the batter here and there, and the flavor combination wasn't that bad. Once in the oven, the smell they were giving off were was amazing! After cooling them a bit, I drizzled a bit of maple syrup and wow! The taste was really good and savory; the cheese and bacon flavors meshed well, and the maple syrup added nice sweet touch to these muffins. These muffins from 100 Magnificent Muffins & Scones by Felicity Barnum-Bobb should be served warm though. One thing I'd change is drizzling maple syrup on them upon being served, as opposed to drizzling them before storing them.

I first microwaved the chopped bacon pieces.

Once the bacon was cooked, I mixed it with flour, baking powder, salt, and cheddar cheese.

In a separate bowl, I combined sunflower oil, egg, maple syrup, and skim milk.

This was how the batter looked like after mixing.

This batter only makes enough for 8, but I got 9.

They didn't get golden. Maybe they would've if I would've left them more in the oven, but then they would've been over baked.

I put them on a rack on top of aluminum foil in order to drizzle on the maple syrup.

I drizzled it on but it just slid down onto the foil.

You can kind of see the traces of maple syrup on the tops of the muffins.

Bacon, Cheese, & Maple Syrup Muffins
makes 8 muffins*

4 slices smoked Canadian bacon, chopped
scant 1 1/4 cups self-rising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
5 tbsp sunflower oil
1 egg
4 tbsp maple syrup
2/3 cup skim milk

1) Heat the oven to 400F. Line a muffin pan with 8 paper liners.
2) Microwave the bacon uncovered on an ovenproof plate on high (850W) for 3 minutes until cooked and becoming crispy. (Or dry-roast in a nonstick frying pan.)
3) Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Stir in the bacon and cheese. Make a well in the center.
4) Pour the oil, egg, half the maple syrup, and the milk into a pitcher and mix together, then pour into the well, in the center. Mix together briefly until just combined.
5) Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin liners and bake for 15 minutes, or until risen, firm, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
6) Serve warm, drizzled with the remaining maple syrup.

Recipe from 100 Magnificent Muffins & Scones by Felicity Barnum-Bobb

Rustic Maple Pecan Cookies

If you're into a prominent maple flavor, then you'll definitely enjoy these cookies. Rustic Maple Pecan Cookies have a nice combination of nuttiness with a dark kind of sweetness. These had a nice maple flavor that didn't overpower. This recipe from Great Cookies: Secrets To Sensational Sweets by Carole Walter meshes very well with the chopped pecans in the dough.

I first melted the butter in a saucepan.

I then mixed together the flour, salt, and baking soda.

After having mixed the flour, I poured maple syrup into the melted butter, once it was between warm and cool.

I then mixed in the egg, orange juice, maple extract, and vanilla extract.

I then mixed in the granulated sugar...

...and the brown sugar.

Once that was mixed well, I threw in the flour.

I folded in the pecans (I chopped them up really well).

I used a medium cookie scoop instead of a small one. I just prefer bigger cookies =)

Once ready, I put them on the rack to cool off.

They had a really nice shape, along with a really nice color. I loved the perfect circle!

This recipe included one variation:
Rustic Maple Pecan Date Cookies: Reduce chopped pecans in the Master Recipe to 3/4 cup. Measure 1 cup loosely packed dates cut into 1/4-inch dice and toss them into 1 tsp of flour to prevent them from sticking together. Mix the dates with the pecans and proceed with step 5 in the Master Recipe.

Rustic Maple Pecan Cookies
*makes about 4 dozen 2 3/4-inch cookies*

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned in and leveled
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 large egg
2 tbsp orange juice
1 tsp imitation maple extract
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup very fresh lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped toasted pecans

1) Position the shelves in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Heat the oven to 350F. Moderately butter the cookie sheets.
2) In a 3-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and set aside to cool to tepid.
3) Strain together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
4) Using a wooden spoon, add the maple syrup to the melted butter, mixing well. Blend in the egg, orange juice, and the maple and vanilla extracts. Whisk in the sugars, stirring until well combined and free of lumps. Stir in the dry ingredients in three additions, then fold in the nuts with a large rubber spatula.
5) Using the tip of a teaspoon, drop mounds of dough the size of large walnuts onto the cookie sheets, placing them 2 inches apart. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown, rotating the pans top to bottom and front to back toward the end of the baking time. Remove from oven and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes before loosening with a thin metal spatula. Cool on wire racks.

Recipes from Great Cookies: Secrets To Sensational Sweets by Carole Walter

English Muffins

I am beyond disappointed in myself for not blogging lately, but school has been insanely crazy, and not in a fun way. I've had back-to-back tests this whole month, and it won't stop until next Wednesday. At least I've been baking, even though you haven't seen it lately. This means that today I'll barrage you all with all the posts I haven't done, including the one that is most important for today, but I'll probably have that one up later on in the night. Ok. So my first recipe of the night is one I've been seeing lately on alot of blogs out there: English Muffins, but my recipe is from 100 Magnificent Muffins & Scones by Felicity Barnum-Bobb. Do any of you know those English Muffins that you can find at the grocery store? I think they're Thomas' English Muffins. Well, I had been eating those ever since I could remember, and this recipe blows those out of the water. These taste better and look better, but the main difference between these and Thomas' is that these don't have that cornmeal on them. These are good either warmed up or at room temperature. If you put some butter in between them along with some cheese, you'll swear you're in heaven.

I first mixed together the flour and salt...

...and then microwaved the mixture for about 1 minute.

I melted the butter in a separate bowl.

To the previous flour mixture, I added yeast and sugar.

I then added the melted butter and milk.

This is how the dough came out. It wasn't very elastic, but it at least came together.

I covered the dough and put it inside my car (the warmest place I could think of).

It grew! It was a little more than twice what it was!

I floured my table...

...and started to knead the dough until it was smooth.

I rolled the dough into a log.

After I cut the pieces (my hands were too dirty to grab my camera), I used to circular mold to shape the pieces.

The dough went back into my car in order to rise some more, and the dough grew even more!

I was completely skeptical about this step. I buttered the pan, and put the biscuits in it. I didn't think that they'd bake/cook!

I flipped them over, and they were golden.

I flipped them over again, and felt them. They felt pretty baked/cooked.

Tada!!! All ready!

English Muffins
*makes 8-10 muffins*

3 cups white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, plus extra for greasing
1/4 oz envelope active dry yeast
1 tsp superfine sugar
1 cup warm milk

1) Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Microwave on medium (500W) for 1 minute, to warm slightly (there's no need to warm the flour if you don't have a microwave - it simply helps the yeast to work faster).
2) Melt the butter in a bowl in the microwave for 50 seconds on high (850W), or in a pan.
3) Add the active dry yeast and sugar to the warm flour. Pour in the warm milk and butter.
4) Beat well until smooth and elastic. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
5) Turn onto a well-floured board and knead, working in a little more flour if necessary to make the dough easier to shape. Round up the dough, then roll into a thick sausage and (using the sharpest knife you have) slice into 8-10 portions, each about 1 1/2 inch thick.
6) Use a plain cutter to help shape each one into a round with straight sides. Place on a greased baking sheet, well spaced out. Cover with greased plastic wrap and put in a warm place to prove for 30-40 minutes, or until springy to the touch.
7) Heat a grill pan until really hot, then grease lightly with butter. Lift the muffins carefully onto the hot grill. Cook a few at a time over very low heat for 8-10 minutes, or until pale golden underneath. Turn and cook the other side.
8) Wrap in a cloth and keep warm if cooking in batches. To serve, insert a knife in the side and pull the top and bottom slightly apart, then insert slivers of butter.

Recipe from 100 Magnificent Muffins & Scones by Felicity Barnum-Bobb

Orange Chocolate Cupcakes

This whole past week I had been having a citrus craving. I don't know why, but I just wanted everything orange and lemon. When I got to making the grocery list for the ingredients of the week, I noticed that the next recipe in 125 Best Cupcake Recipes by Julie Hasson was an orange cupcake! To be specific, the recipe was for Orange Chocolate Cupcakes. I was so excited that I flew to the local grocery store, and bought the ingredients incredibly fast. I rushed home, then made these. They were amazing! They were incredibly moist, and very flavorful. The chocolate chips complemented the orange flavor very well. I paired these with the Orange Cream Cheese Icing, and that made them even better. Trust me, you'll really love these.

I first mixed the flour, baking powder, and salt together.

In another bowl, I mixed the sugar and butter.

I mixed in the egg, orange zest, and orange oil.

I blended in the milk and flour mixture.

The batter was alot more liquidy than other batters I've made.

I then folded in the chocolate chips.

The batter gave out exactly 12 cupcakes.

I cooled them off completely, and was amazed at the light weight of the cupcakes. They felt incredibly light.

I tried something different in these pictures. I wanted to introduce a new element =)

Everything paired really nicely, and nothing was overpowering. The chocolate blended very well with the orange flavors. The orange flavors were brought out very well in both the batter and the frosting. The orange zest also added nice color and specks to both elements, which added to the prettiness.

This recipe included one variation. I tried it, and didn't notice any difference between the variation and the original:
You can substitute orange extract for the orange oil in this recipe (although they are not always interchangeable).

Orange Chocolate Cupcakes
*makes 12 cupcakes*

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 tbsp grated orange zest
1/4 tsp orange oil
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 350F.
2) Line muffin pan with paper liners.
3) In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.
4) In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter until well combined. Add egg, beating well. Mix in orange zest and orange oil. Alternately beat in flour mixture and milk, making three additions of flour mixture and two of milk, beating until smooth.
5) Scoop batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack. Top cooled cupcakes with frosting.

Orange Cream Cheese Icing
*makes enough to frost 16 or more cupcakes*

4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
pinch salt
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
2 tsp grated orange zest
2 tsp orange-flavored liqueur

1) In a bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat together cream cheese, butter, and salt until creamy. With mixer on low speed, beat in confectioner's sugar, 1/2 cup at a time so that the sugar doesn't fly all over the place. Increase speed to medium-high, beating until light and fluffy. Add orange zest and liqueur, beating until mixed.
2) This frosting is on the soft side, so before frosting cupcakes, refrigerate it for 30 to 60 minutes to firm it up. Spread frosting over cooled cupcakes and refrigerate until ready to serve or for up to 1 day.

Recipes from 125 Best Cupcake Recipes by Julie Hasson
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