Marvin’s Babka 2 Ways

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Making babka is a daunting process.  This was truly “going into the lab” several times to try to perfect these recipes. They are adapted from Ottolenghi, Smitten Kitchen and Carine Goren.  There are 2 methods, one easy bread machine recipe and one traditional “from scratch” using a stand mixer and dough hook.  The final formation and shaping do not need to be exact so it’s okay to come up with a more rustic looking product.  The taste will not disappoint.  It is best to read through the full instruction choices in order to budget your time accordingly.

Method 1: Bread Machine Babka Dough

Ingredients:

¾ cup water
5 tbsp. canola/olive/grapeseed/coconut oil
2 tbsp. honey
1 egg plus 2 egg whites
3 ¾ cups best for bread or unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tsp. traditional active dry yeast

Directions:

Place ingredients in the order above into container of bread machine.  Follow machine instructions and remove when ready after 2 hours.  Divide dough in half and knead gently and roll each out into a rectangle.  I don’t usually measure the size of the rectangle but aim for about ¼-inch thickness which usually means approximately 12 x 16 inches.

Method 2: Babka Dough from Scratch

Ingredients:

4 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus 6 tbsp. extra flour
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. traditional active dry yeast
Grated zest of 1 small lemon or half an orange
3 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup water plus 3 tbsp. extra water
¾ tsp. kosher salt
2/3 cup (10 2/3 tbsp.) unsalted pareve margarine, room temperature

Directions:

To make 2 loaves, combine the flour, sugar, yeast and zest in the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer.

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Add eggs and water, mixing with the dough hook until it comes together.

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Add extra water, 1 tablespoon at a time if the dough doesn’t come together.

With the mixer on low, add the salt, then the margarine, a spoonful at a time, mixing until it’s incorporated into the dough.

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Then, mix on medium speed for 8-10 minutes until dough is completely smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary.

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Flour can be added 1 tablespoon at a time if the dough does not pull away from the sides of the bowl.  Coat a large bowl with oil, place dough inside and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

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Allow to rise for 3 hours at room temperature then refrigerate for 30 minutes to make the rolling easier.

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Feel free to choose from either of the 2 fillings below but use the streusel topping to finish it off.

Chocolate Filling:

Ingredients:

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate or 1 1/4 cups chocolate chips
3/4 cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted pareve margarine
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
½ tsp. cinnamon

Cocoa Filling:

Ingredients:

1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
¼ cup cocoa powder
6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted pareve margarine, melted

Streusel Topping:

Ingredients:

4 tbsp. cold unsalted pareve margarine, diced
1/3 cup granulated sugar
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 egg white for glaze

Directions:

To make the Chocolate Filling, melt margarine and chocolate together in a double boiler over simmering water until smooth.

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Remove from heat and stir in confectioners sugar, cocoa and cinnamon.

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This will form a spreadable paste.

Spread half of the filling over one of the rolled out rectangles, leaving a ½-inch border all around.

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Brush the end father away from you with water.  Roll the dough up with the filling into a long, tight cigar.  Seal the dampened end onto the log.  Stretch the log a bit to approximately 16-20 inches long.

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Cut off the ends of the log and transfer to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and freeze for 15-30 minutes.

To make the Cocoa Filling, combine the sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and cocoa in a bowl.  Brush the rolled out rectangle with half of the melted margarine.  Sprinkle half of the cocoa filling over the dough and roll it up as in the previous paragraph and transfer to the freezer.

For both methods, remove the log from the freezer, and gently cut the log in half lengthwise and lay them next to each other on the counter, cut sides up.

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Pinch the top ends gently together.  Lift one side over the next, forming a twist.

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Then fold again to fit into a 9-by-4-inch loaf pan lined with parchment paper that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

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Cover the loaves with a tea towel and allow to rest for 1 ½-2 hours.  They will rise slightly.  Preheat the oven to 375F.  Brush each loaf with egg white and sprinkle half of the streusel over the loaf.  Bake for 40-45 minutes.  Check doneness with a toothpick and if they are not done but are browning, cover loosely with aluminum foil for another 5-10 minutes.

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Allow to cool before removing from pans. Feel free to wrap well for the freezer.

 

 

Brookies (Marvin Style)

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Adapted from allrecipes.com, this is the perfect combination of brownie and cookie.

Ingredients:

Cookie layer:

½ cup unsalted pareve margarine, softened
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Brownie layer:

1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup unsalted pareve margarine, melted
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/3 cup cocoa powder
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. kosher salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the margarine, sugars, and vanilla until creamy.

 

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Add the egg and beat until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.

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Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda together in a bowl.

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Gradually stir flour mixture into margarine mixture until dough is combined.  IMG_4761.jpg

Stir chocolate chips into dough.

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Spread dough into the bottom of the prepared pan to cover completely.

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Stir sugar, melted margarine, and vanilla together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

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Add eggs and beat well.  Mix cocoa into margarine mixture until well combined.

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Add flour, baking powder and salt and mix until just combined.

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Pour brownie batter over cookie dough and spread to cover completely.

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Bake for 25 minutes and cool completely before cutting into bars.

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Smitten Kitchen’s Favourite Brownies

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Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, these chocolate fudge brownies can be made in one bowl and don’t need any frosting.  With a crackly/sugary top and fudgy brownie texture, they are best sliced after being chilled for a few hours.

Ingredients:
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted pareve margarine, room temperature
2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray.

In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water (double boiler), melt chocolate and margarine together.

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Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, followed by the eggs, one at a time, then vanilla and salt.

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Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon or flexible spatula and scrape batter into the prepared pan.

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Bake for 25 minutes and chill before slicing.

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Science Fact of the Week:

Fudge is a gooey substance made of sugar, butter and milk. These brownies use margarine and sugar to get that same creamy texture with ease.

Cocoa Cornmeal Biscotti

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Adapted from the New York Times Magazine, this was the first time that I used cornmeal in baking.  I typically don’t adapt the recipes too much the first time that I try them.  Other than doubling the batter from the original, making them nondairy and adjusting some times according to my oven, these were rich, dark and delicious and required few adjustments.  You can make the logs into any size and keep in mind that they will expand in the oven.

Ingredients:

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ cup finely ground cornmeal
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted pareve margarine, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup MINI semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup sliced almonds

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cornmeal together.

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In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the margarine and sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

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Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and beat until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

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Slowly add the flour/cornmeal mixture and beat until just combined.

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Fold in the chocolate chips and almonds.  The dough will be thick and heavy.

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With slightly wet hands, form 3 logs (2 on one sheet and one on the other).

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Bake for 30 minutes, rotating each sheet after 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

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Slice with a serrated knife into ½ inch slices and place back onto fresh parchment paper.

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Bake for another 10 minutes.  Allow to cool to room temperature before enjoying.

Science Fact of the Week:

People might be surprised to discover that these biscotti contain corn meal. Cornmeal is corn that has been dried and ground to be coarse. It adds a crumby-like texture to these biscotti, making them even more delicious!

Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars

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I adapted these bars in a non-dairy version for my daughter’s bridal shower.  Originally from Two Peas and Their Pod, they are easy to make and a nice alternative to the traditional chocolate based bar.

Ingredients:

For the bars:

2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
¾ cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 large lemon
1 ½ sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted pareve margarine, at room temperature
¼ cup icing/confectioners sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the lemon “cream cheese” frosting:

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted pareve margarine, at room temperature
8 ounce package Tofutti/pareve cream cheese, at room temperature
Zest of 1 large  lemon
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
5 cups icing/confectioners sugar
Assorted sprinkles

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375F and line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together, flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

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In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the margarine, lemon zest and granulated sugar until well combined.

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Slowly add the icing sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

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Add in the eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary.

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Slowly add the flour mixture and beat until just combined.

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Evenly spread the cookie dough into the prepared pan with a spatula.

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Bake for 14 minutes, or until the bars are slightly set in the middle.

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Remove from the oven and let the bars cool completely. While the bars are cooling, make the lemon cream cheese frosting.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the margarine and “cream cheese” until smooth.

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Add the lemon zest and lemon juice.

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Slowly add the icing sugar, 1 cup at a time.  Mix until smooth.

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Frost the cooled cookie bars and decorate with sprinkles.

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Cut the bars into squares and serve.  Store the bars in the fridge for up to 2 days.

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Science Fact of the Week:

Using toffuti cream cheese allows these bars to be dairy free, but still get that same creamy texture. Toffuti cream cheese is made from tofu yet is similar in texture and flavour to real cream cheese. This makes these bars just as delicious, but more versatile.

 

Chocolate Chunk Oat Bars

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Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, these bars tasted even better than I would have predicted when I was just testing the recipe.  They freeze well and are easiest to slice when chilled.

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp. chilled unsalted pareve margarine (14 tbsp.)

For the filling:

½ cup unsalted pareve margarine
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup demerara style brown sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups rolled oats
½ cup finely shredded coconut
1 ½ cups chocolate chips/chunks

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper sprayed with nonstick spray. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.

Cut the margarine into chunks, and add it to the bowl, then run the machine until the mixture forms large clumps.

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Transfer the dough clumps to the prepared baking pan and press them evenly across the bottom and ¼ inch up the sides.

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Bake for 17 minutes, until very pale golden.

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Melt the margarine for the filling in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Remove from the heat and stir in the sugars and salt.

Let cool for 5-10 minutes, then whisk in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla, and stir in the oats, coconut and chocolate.

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Pour over the parbaked crust, spreading evenly.

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Bake the bars for 23 more minutes until they are firm and golden and the bars are set.

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Science Fact of the Week:

Normally recipes require softened butter or margarine., however for this one it uses chilled margarine. This allows the crust to have bubbles of margarine melt all around, giving it a flakey texture.

French Toast Casserole

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More of a star attraction at a brunch, than a dessert, this is a great way to use a leftover challah. Adapted from Bonnie Stern, French Toast Casserole is easy to make ahead and pop in the oven.  No need for any electric devices to prepare this showstopper. With the maple syrup already in the topping, there’s no need to add anything to this final product.

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Ingredients:

1 large challah, cut into cubed size pieces (no need to remove crusts)
2 ½ cups milk (skim, 1%, 2%, lactose free, almond, coconut, soy)
7 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¾ stick melted butter or nondairy margarine=
¾ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. pure maple syrup

Directions:

Beat eggs together in a large bowl.  Add milk and vanilla and blend until well combined.

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Add challah to bowl and immerse well (best to use clean hands).  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

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Preheat oven to 350F and transfer challah mixture to 9-x13-inch pyrex pan.

Mix butter/margarine, brown sugar and maple syrup in a small bowl and drizzle over entire pan.

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Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.

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Science Fact of the Week:

This recipe requires a little advanced planning. It is essential to leave the bread in the liquid mixture overnight to allow the bread to absorb all the liquid. Once baked, the liquid evaporates, leaving you with a crunchy outside and soft inside.

Lemon Cheesecake Squares

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For those who don’t love chocolate… these tart and sweet lemon cheesecake squares will satisfy the craving.  This cheesecake combines the tart with the sweet in a perfect combination.

Ingredients:

For the crust:

2 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¾ cup coconut oil (or 1 stick butter, melted)

For the cake:

4 eight oz. bricks light cream cheese at room temperature (total 32 oz), cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 recipe Lemon Curd, warm or at room temperature

Directions:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F.

Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon until well combined.

Drizzle the coconut oil over the crumb mixture and pulse until it resembles wet sand.  Transfer the batter to the pan and bake for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300F.

In the cleaned food processor bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest.  Process until smooth, about 30 seconds, stopping halfway to scrape the sides of the bowl.

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Add the eggs and process until the mixture is perfectly smooth and blended, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary, about another 20 seconds.

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Pour the cheesecake mixture into the prepared pan.

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Fill a small glass bowl with boiling water and place in the oven beside the baking pan (acts as a water bath and reduces cracking). Bake until the sides are slightly puffed and the center is dry to the touch, about 35 minutes. Turn the oven off and prop open the door for 15 minutes before removing the cake.

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To finish:  When cheesecake comes out of the oven, gently pour all of the curd onto the cheesecake and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly.

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Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.  You can refrigerate it uncovered, as no detectable skin forms on the curd.  When slicing into squares, wipe the knife blade with a damp paper towel between each slice.

Science Fact of the Week:

Using light cream cheese in these cheesecakes lightens them up and gives in a smooth and fluffy texture. However, using light cream cheese in a frosting completely changes the texture. It causes it to be more liquidly and not form peaks.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

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For those who love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, this is a great alternative and easy to slice when chilled.  Adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe, this square is enjoyed by people of all ages.

Ingredients

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2 sticks unsalted pareve margarine, at room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 ½ cups creamy peanut butter (Skippy or natural)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
1 ½ cups raspberry/strawberry jam
2/3 cup peanuts, coarsely chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Spray a 9 by 13 by 2 inch cake pan with cooking spray.

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the margarine and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes.

 

With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.

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In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.

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Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread the jam evenly over the dough.

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Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam.  Don’t worry if all the jam isn’t covered; it will spread in the oven. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown.

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Science Fact of the Week:

Although peanuts are high in calories and fat, in moderation they confer many health benefits. Their anti-oxidants even help protect against heart disease!

Maple Cheesecake

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For this special edition post we are sharing one of our favourites. Maple Cheesecake. This weekend is the Jewish Holiday of Shavout. On this holiday it is traditional to eat dairy, so we’ve deemed this the cheesecake holiday. I love to make cheesecakes for the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. We hope you enjoy this one.

This uniquely Canadian cheesecake gets most of its sweet flavour from reduced pure maple syrup.  To make a reduction, place 2 ¼ cups pure maple syrup in a saucepan over medium heat and simmer until it is reduced to 1 ½ cups.  Allow to cool to room temperature before using in batter.

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Ingredients:

For the crust:

2 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¾ cup coconut oil (or 1 stick butter, melted)

For the cake:

4 ½ eight oz. bricks of light cream cheese at room temperature (36 oz. total)
¾ cup brown sugar
4 ½ tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 ½ cups reduced maple syrup (see above)
1 cup low-fat sour cream (not fat-free)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
6 large eggs, at room temperature

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and combine well.
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Drizzle the coconut oil over the crumb mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand.

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Transfer the crumb mixture to a 9-x13-inch baking pan lined with parchment paper and sprayed with cooking spray.

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Bake for 10 minutes and allow to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 300F.

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Cube the cream cheese and place in the cleaned food processor bowl.  Process until creamy and smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary.

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Add the sugar, flour, and salt and blend until smooth.  IMG_2860.jpg

Add the maple syrup, sour cream and vanilla and process again.  IMG_2862.jpg

Add the eggs, 2 at a time, and process just until blended after each addition.

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Pour the filling into the cooled crust.

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Bake in the oven beside a small glass bowl filled with boiling water (acts as a water bath and reduces cracking).

IMG_2864.jpgAfter 55 minutes, turn the oven off and prop open the door for 15 more minutes before removing the cake.  Allow to cool to room temperature then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until ready to serve.