Slow Cooker Sunday: Banana Bread Pudding

It’s been a while since I have used my slow cooker and even longer since I have used it to make dessert but recently I decided to dust it off to make a bread pudding, well, not just any bread pudding, but a Banana Bread Pudding. If you’re not a fan of banana flavored desserts don’t worry, the banana flavor is not overpowering.

The night before actually making the bread pudding I did some prep work. I cut a loaf of Challah bread into cubes and then toasted them in the oven for 20 minutes at 300 F. While the bread was in the oven I generously greased the inside of my slow cooker insert with softened butter. The recipe called for one tablespoon, but, I ended up using about 4 tablespoons. I have “baked” things in my slow cooker in the past and regardless of me following the directions to a T my items have always been burnt. I’ve chalked it up to not using enough butter and I didn’t want that to happen again.

After removing the bread from the oven I let it cool for a few minutes and then placed it in an even layer inside of my slow cooker insert.

In a large bowl I combined the ingredients for the custard – eggs, half-and-half, granulated & brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and mashed bananas – and whisked them together until they were combined. I then poured this mixture over the bread in the insert and pressed the bread into the liquid to submerge it. I covered it and then refrigerated it overnight.

The next morning I removed it from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes uncovered.

After the 30 minutes I placed the insert inside of the slow cooker base, covered it and cooked it on the low setting for about 4 ½ hours. The bread pudding will rise considerably while it’s cooking, mine almost touched the cover.

Once the bread pudding was done I removed the insert and let the bread pudding cool before inverting it onto a dish.

I attempted to make a caramel sauce to go along with the bread pudding but I had two failed attempts. The first time my caramel had a burnt taste to it and the second time my sugar never melted. So, I decided to nix the caramel sauce and just enjoy a piece with vanilla ice cream. Which was just perfect.

The was by far the best bread pudding I have ever made and I will definitely be making it again.

Slow Cooker Banana Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

1 16 oz. Challah Bread, cut into cubes

3-4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

8 large eggs

4 cups half-and-half (1 quart)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 medium ripe bananas, mashed

vanilla ice cream and/or caramel sauce for serving

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 300 F

Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on a large baking sheet and toast them in the oven for 20 minutes, stirring them halfway through toasting. Let them cook for 10 minutes.

Grease the insert of your slow cooker with the softened butter.

Once the bread is cool, transfer it to the slow cooker and arrange in an even layer.

In a large bowl whisk the eggs and then add in the half-and-half, both sugars, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and mashed bananas. Whisk everything together to combine.

Pour the egg mixture over the bread and press the bread to submerge it into the liquid. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

Remove from the refrigerator, uncover and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Place the insert into the base of your slow cooker, cover, and cook on high for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours or on low 4 to 5 hours. The bread pudding is ready when it is set and not jiggly in the center. The internal temperature should be above 175 F when tested. It will be considerably puffy, but will subside as it cools.

Remover the insert from the base and let the bread pudding cool for about 15 minutes before inverting onto a plate. Alternatively, you could just serve it from the insert itself.

Enjoy with ice cream and/or caramel sauce.

Recipe slightly modified from Simply Recipes

Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year! The holidays are quickly winding down. Truthfully, and I think most would agree, the holidays just seemed to fly by this season. Mainly due to the short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. With Thanksgiving falling so late there was less than a month to get everything ready for Christmas. Besides posting my annual Cookie Palooza recipes I just didn’t have time to blog anything else during the month of December. That doesn’t mean I didn’t do a lot of baking though. There were chocolate covered pretzels, Almond Biscotti (these were so good that I ended up baking a second batch the day after making the first), a few cakes (one of which was supposed to be a tangled lights decorated cake but turned into a congratulatory cake for my oldest niece after competing in her very first gymnastics tournament and placing in a few of the events), and of course cookies, cookies and more cookies. I baked about 300 cookies in one day and by the end of the day the smell of sweets and sugar was just too much for me to handle.

So here we are in a new year and a new decade. Truthfully it didn’t really dawn on me that a new decade was upon us until I was watching the news and they started talking about it. I was just thinking of how the year had gone by so fast. And granted one could say that about every year, but, 2019 in particular seemed to fly by to me. I was thinking about things that happened and they didn’t seem like months ago but more so days ago. I have heard that one of the perils of getting older is that time goes by faster. Maybe it’s because you have a greater realization of things happening. As a kid I think you forget more than you remember but as an adult everything that happens gets filed away so it’s easy to measure things by the events in our lives. My dad has been gone 4 years and I still measure things from before and after his death as well as before and after he got sick. I’ll remember something or see something from a particular year and I measure it against these dates. Not always a good thing. But, it is a good reminder to me of how quickly things can change and can happen. It’s true what they say that life can change in the blink of an eye.

And for many a new year means resolutions to change things in their lives or do things differently. I myself have never made a New Year’s resolution. I personally believe that there is no time like the present to make a change for the better. Every day you are given the opportunity to do things better and/or differently than the day before. So why not grab on to that as opposed to waiting for the year to change. Let’s say you fail at your resolution in February, does that mean you should wait 10 months to try again? Absolutely not! So, instead of resolutions I’ll look back and see if I have grown as a person over the course of time. Of course there are things that I would like to be different, but, at the end of the day I am content. And being content makes it a bit easier to work on those things that I would like to change.

So, what’s on my plate for 2020 so far… A semi-monumental college reunion that I may or may not attend and a pretty exciting vacation! And of course more baking and crafting. Next month marks 8 years that I have been blogging. And while I may not have the amount of followers that others have, I am still trudging along and thankful for those of you who do follow me and welcome any and all new readers. I enjoy baking, crafting, photographing, writing, and everything else that makes up my blog so I will continue on! Besides, good things come to those who wait.

I leave you with two pics…

A pic of the Christmas cake I made (this was totally not the design I had in mind for this cake, but, I had a frosting fail at 10p on a work-night so I had to improvise and was happy with the outcome)…

And the cake I made for New Year’s Eve – I decided to try out the decorated sheet cake trend. After piping the designs on to the cake I then sprayed it with Wilton’s Color Mist in pearl and sprinkled it with a mixture of festive sprinkles…

Happy 2020!

 

 

 

Cookie Palooza: Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies

I hope you have enjoyed this year’s Cookie Palooza cookies. Today I am bringing you a no bake option for those of you who are not fond of baking, just don’t have the time, just don’t want to but have somehow got roped into “baking” something and everyone else in between. It’s a shortbread cookie dipped in chocolate and then sprinkled with either jimmies, nonpareils or crushed candy canes.

I opted to use two different types of shortbread cookies… Pepperidge Farm’s Shortbread cookies (which I had some trouble finding, I am wondering if they are only available around the holidays) and Keebler’s Sandies Classic Shortbread Cookies (I found these in the cookie aisle at my local supermarket.

I melted 8 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate using the double boiler method (fill a pot with a few inches of water and then place it on the stove over medium heat, place a bowl over the water making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the bottom of the pot, and then fill the bowl with the chocolate) I normally melt my chocolate in the microwave, but, have decided to switch back to doing it on the stove since there is less of a risk of burning the chocolate and truthfully it works just as quick. Once the chocolate had melted I stirred in a tablespoon of shortening to keep it smooth.

To prep my workspace I placed the melted chocolate on a trivet, poured the sprinkles and crushed candy canes into small bowls and lined two large cookie sheet with wax paper. And then I was ready to start dipping.

I dipped half of each cookie into the melted chocolate then placed it on the prepared cookie sheet and then topped it with either the sprinkles or the candy. Once the sheet was full I placed it in the refrigerator for a few minutes so the chocolate could harden.

Once the chocolate was set I arranged the cookies on a platter. These would be the perfect addition to any dessert table, as a gift wrapped in cellophane, or just to snack on while you are getting your last minute decorations or wrapping done.

And while I went with sprinkles and crushed candy canes to decorate the cookies, you could also do chopped nuts, crushed pretzels, or drizzle the chocolate part with more chocolate in another color.

If you’re looking for more no-bake options click on the links for the cookies below…

Peppermint Chocolate Cookies

Cannoli Wafer Sandwich Cookie 

Hope you have enjoyed this year’s Cookie Palooza. Happy Baking!

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies

  • Servings: 30 cookies
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Ingredients:

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate*

1 tbsp. shortening

Shortbread Cookies**

Assorted toppings: sprinkles, crushed candy canes, chopped nuts, crushed pretzels

 

*You can use baking bars or chocolate chips, I used a combination of both

**I used 1 package of of Keebler’s Sandies Shortbread Cookies (about 20 cookies) & 1 package of Pepperidge Farm Shortbread Cookies (12 cookies)

 

Directions:

Line two large baking sheets with wax paper and set aside.

Pour your toppings into individual small bowls to make them easily accessible.

Melt the chocolate using your preferred method. If using a double boiler stir the chocolate as it melts from the bottom. If using the microwave, microwave the chocolate in 15 second intervals until melted, stirring between each. Once melted add in the shortening and stir to incorporate.

Dip half of each cookie in the melted chocolate then place on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with your desired topping. Place the cookies in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes until the chocolate is firm. Enjoy!

Cookie Palooza: Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

I kicked off Cookie Palooza on Monday with a chai spiced inspired snickerdoodle and here I am a few days later bringing you another snickerdoodle variation, a pumpkin one. I figured snickerdoodles are the perfect cookie for the season since they are rolled in sanding sugar (along with other spices) prior to baking giving them a nice glisten to go with the season so why not share two. And with this pumpkin version you can keep those pumpkin lovers happy and not let them go overboard with the traditional flavor of the season… peppermint.

I began by making the dough for the cookies. In one bowl I whisked together all of the dry ingredients and in another bowl I mixed together the wet ingredients and then I added the dry to the wet to make the dough. I then set the dough aside for a few minutes and combined sanding sugar, cinnamon and allspice in a small bowl to roll the cookie dough in. Using a cookie scoop I scooped the dough and then rolled it in the sugar mixture and then placed it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Per the directions I placed the cookies about 3 inches apart on the sheet. Truthfully you could get away with 2 inches. While the cookie dough looks small the cookies will rise and spread a little while baking.

Next, I flattened the cookies with a spatula (use could also use the bottom of a glass cup) to about 1/2 inch thickness. I then baked them in a 375 preheated oven for 10 minutes.

After letting the cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes I then transferred them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Final verdict… I must say these are probably one of the best cookies I have ever made. They are firm on the outside but have a nice cakey center that isn’t dry. That is thanks to the addition of pumpkin puree. And while pumpkin often results in baked desserts that are super moist, the ingredients are so well balanced that that is not the case here. No one wants to eat a pumpkin cookie that is reminiscent of pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

  • Servings: 30 Cookies
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Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup fine sanding sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and nutmeg.

In a large bowl using a handheld mixer beat together the butter and pumpkin until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and continue beating until combined. Add the flour mixture and continue beating until combined.

In a small bowl mix together the sanding sugar, cinnamon and allspice. Using a cookie scoop, scoop the dough and then roll it in the sugar mixture and then place it on the prepared cookie sheet 3-inches apart. Flatten the cookies with a spatula to about 1/2-inch thick and then bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes.

Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 5 minutes until transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Martha Stewart

Cookie Palooza: Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Over the summer I went to a pop-up shop celebrating Kitchen Aid’s 100th anniversary. While there I got to try different treats, saw a life-sized Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer (unfortunately it was just for show), got a free customized tote bag and stocked up on recipe cards. One of the recipes is today’s Cookie Palooza cookie… A Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookie.

If you are hoping for a sweet and salty cookie I am sorry to disappoint you but that’s not what you are getting with this cookie. What you do get is a cookie that is thick, chocolatey and perfect for any add-ins. I love walnuts in my chocolate chip cookies and this would be the perfect chocolate chip cookie for just that. And while this recipe is not ideal for cookie swaps since its only 12 cookies, it’s perfect for gift giving in a festive holiday tin.

A few things to note about these cookies. The original recipe called for smoked sea salt, I searched and couldn’t find smoked sea salt so I opted to use regular sea salt. I did come across sour sea salt which had me wondering what recipe would call for that. I also swapped out using chopped semi-sweet with chocolate chips. I used Ghirardelli chocolate chips since I knew theirs were a tad bit bigger than Nestle’s Toll House, although, if you can find these Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chunks they would be perfect.

 

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: 12 cookies
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Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 teaspoons sea salt*

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips**

3/4 cups chopped walnuts (optional)

 

*Original recipe called for smoked sea salt

**Original recipe called for 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

 

Directions:

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Add butter and sugars to a large bowl and beat on medium speed with a hand mixer until the mixture is smooth. Add in the egg and vanilla extract and continue mixing until well blended.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low until just combined. Add in the chocolate chips and walnuts (if using) and continue mixing on low speed until just combined. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup (or a trigger ice cream scoop) scoop the dough* and place it on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the cookies are set and no longer shiny on top. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

*You may have to let the dough sit at room temperature for a few minutes before scooping.

Recipe from Yummly / KitchenAid

Cookie Palooza: Red Velvet Blossom Cookie

Today’s Cookie Palooza Cookie is a Red Velvet Blossom Cookie. A fun festive twist on the traditional Peanut Butter Blossom Cookie. We all know that cookie, the peanut butter one that has a Hershey Kiss pressed into the center of it and marries that wonderful flavor combination of peanut butter and chocolate… YUM!

I began by prepping the dough for the cookies. In one bowl I whisked together my dry ingredients and set them aside. In another bowl I added in my wet ingredients and beat them until they were well combined. And finally I added in the flour mixture and beat the two together until they were incorporated. At this point the dough was too soft to handle so I covered and refrigerated it for a few hours. Once the dough was firm enough I added about half a cup of confectioners’ sugar to a small bowl and rolled 1-inch shaped balls (I used a cookie scoop to measure the dough) in the sugar before placing them on a cookie sheet I lined with parchment paper. Rolling the cookies in the sugar will give them a nice crinkle effect (another popular cookie around the Holiday’s) and this is reminiscent of a traditional blossom cookie that is rolled in granulated sugar prior to baking. I then baked the cookies in a 350 preheated oven for 9 minutes. While the cookies were in the oven I unwrapped the Hershey Kisses to place in the center of each of them. You need to press these into the cookies while they are still warm before the cookie set so it’s best to have them ready for when the cookies come out of the oven. They might melt a little at the bottom but as the cookie cools the Kisses will firm up again.

And once they cool they are a delicious cookie to enjoy with a cup of hot chocolate. Or pack up in a festive tin to give as a gift, or bring along to a Holiday cookie swap or party.

If you are feeling really festive and ambitious you could easily divide the dough in half and tint one half red and the other half green for Red & Green Velvet Blossom Cookies.

Red Velvet Blossom Cookies

  • Servings: 48 Cookies
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Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon red gel food coloring

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, more as needed

Milk Chocolate Hershey Kisses

 

Directions:

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and set aside.

Using a handheld mixer, combine the butter, both sugars, and salt in a large bowl and beat on medium speed until creamy. Add in the eggs, vanilla extract and food coloring and continue beating until the ingredients are well combined. Add in the flour and beat on low speed until mixed in. Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least two hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl. Unwrap the Hershey Kisses and set aside,

Using a cookie scoop shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in the confectioners’ sugar and then place on the prepared cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake in the preheated oven for 9 to 10 minutes, untilt the edges of the cookies are set. Remove from the oven and immediately place an unwrapped Hershey Kiss in the center of each cookie and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Land O Lakes

Cookie Palooza: Cinnamon Chip Chai-Spiced Snickerdoodles

Welcome to Cookie Palooza 2019. For the past couple of years I have dedicated the first week of December to bringing you cookie recipes that would be a perfect addition to your cookie swaps, dessert tables, office parties, get togethers and so forth for the holidays. This year I have a fun batch of cookies to bring you, starting with a nice twist on your traditional snickerdoodle. A Cinnamon Chip Chai-Spiced Snickerdoodle. If you can’t find cinnamon chips in your neck of the woods, the only brand I’ve come across that sells them is Hershey’s, it’s totally okay to leave them out. These cookies will still be delish thanks to the homemade chai-spiced sugar that’s added to the dough and that the cookie is rolled in prior to baking.

After making the dough I refrigerated it for at least an hour so it could firm up. The dough will be too soft to handle otherwise and what will ultimately happen is that the cookies will spread too much during baking or they will be a mess when trying to roll in the sugar.

Once the dough was firm enough I used a cookie scoop to scoop the dough and rolled it between my hands to round it off before rolling it in the spiced sugar. I then placed the dough on cookie sheets that I covered with parchment paper. After baking the cookies for about 11 minutes I removed them from the over and transferred them to a wire rack to cool completely. Don’t worry if you think the cookies are too soft, they will harden as they cool. One thing to note, the recipe states the dough will make 6 dozen cookies, but, I was only able to get 4 dozen out of it. I thought maybe my dough balls were larger than the 1-inch mentioned in the recipe but, I measured them and they were just about 1-inch.

I’ll just say, if you love chai tea you are going to love these cookies. Thanks to rolling the cookies in the spiced sugar every part of the cookie will have the flavors of the spices. Warm spices that are perfect for this time of year.

Cinnamon Chip Chai-Spiced Snickerdoodles

  • Servings: 4 Dozen Cookies
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Ingredients:

Chai-Spiced Sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cardamom

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

 

Dough:

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 3/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

1 10 oz. bag cinnamon baking chips

 

Directions:

Combine the ingredients for the spiced sugar in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl cream together the butter, shortening, sugar, and 2 tablespoons of the spiced sugar using a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract and eggs.

In another bowl combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt and whisk together.

Gradually beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture until well combined. Stir in the cinnamon baking chips.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate until the dough is firm enough to shape, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Once the dough is firm, using a cookie scoop scoop the dough and shape into balls. Roll the dough into the remaining spiced sugar and then placed on the prepared cookie sheet. Leave space between each as the cookies will spread while baking.

Bake for 11-13 minutes, until the cookie starts to set around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Taste of Home