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So much baking. So, so much baking since I got home. Yes, even I’m tired and usually I rarely tire from baking. I started yesterday afternoon with some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (or muffies as I call them because they are more like muffin tops than cookies) for a dinner party and then went all day today.

I tried a bunch of new recipes, substituted a million and one ingredients as is my habit, and learned a few things too. The most important lesson I learned today: apparently light butter is not for baking. Or so it says. I was terribly upset at that for a few minutes while I thought I had to go out to the stores again (okay fine, more than a few minutes), but then I got my calm together and just did my thing. Viola. My baked goods still taste amazing. I also found out that the Internet is quite divided as to whether one can substitute imitation vanilla for vanilla extract one-to-one or if doubling the amount is necessary. I’m still not quite sure since I freehanded almost everything. Other things I learned included: you can make buttermilk from milk and lemon juice; if necessary you can just use regular milk in place of coconut milk; and that I should start baking with orange zest more because I really like the taste.

But alas, no one cares about all that as much as they do about what exactly I made and all the pictures that will make their mouths water. So here goes (recipes linked and my changes are below the photos):

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (Muffies):

– reduce white sugar to 2/3 cup

– use 1/2 cup applesauce instead of vegetable oil

– reduce chocolate chips to 1  1/2cup

– I didn’t use walnuts, but I suppose you could

Banana Coffee Nut Muffins:

– replace butter with applesauce in equal amounts

– reduce sugar to 1/2 cup

– I didn’t have pecans today so I used walnuts, but any nut should work

Cranberry Walnut Biscotti:

– reduce sugar to 1/2 cup

– skip the almond extract if you don’t have any and just add an additional 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

– I didn’t have pistachios as called for in the recipe so I just used equal amounts of chopped walnuts

– the 2nd time baking extend the baking time to 20 minutes, then turn the oven off and let the biscotti sit in the residual heat. This will give it the crispy and crunchy texture.

Coconut Macaroons:

Ingredients:

– 1  1/2 cups of Sweetened Coconut Flakes

– 1/3 cup of white sugar (do not substitute brown sugar in this recipe)

– 2 egg whites

– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

– dash of salt

Directions:

– beat egg whites, salt & vanilla together and then add sugar and beat

– fold in coconut flakes and mix well

– drop by the spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet

– Bake at 300°F for about 12 minutes and check them; bake more until lightly brown

– HINT: don’t forget that these melt super fast…I forgot about them, hence the carmelization

Mini Cheesecakes:

– instead of the crust recipe listed, I did:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

– mix all the ingredients together and then press into liners

Rum Cranberry Applesauce Bundt Cake:

– use 1/2 cup applesauce instead of 1/2 cup butter

– use only 1/2 cup brown sugar instead of 3/4 cup

– I didn’t have dark rum on hand so I just used 1/2 cup of imitation vanilla (or 1/3 cup vanilla extract – I’ve used that in the past and it works too)

– oh, and I’ve never tried the glaze

Grandma’s Fresh Apple Cake:

– reduce white sugar to 2/3 cup

– replace the 1/4 cup of butter with applesauce

– I always prefer using dates over raisins

Cinnamon Almond Biscotti:

– I always use hazelnuts when I have them and almonds elsewise

– reduce the sugar to 2/3 cup

– the 2nd time baking extend the baking time to 20 minutes, then turn the oven off and let the biscotti sit in the residual heat. This will give it the crispy and crunchy texture.

Orange Almond Biscotti:

– reduce sugar to 1 cup

– increase orange zest to 2 tablespoons

– replace vegetable oil with applesauce in equal parts

– the 2nd time baking extend the baking time to 20 minutes, then turn the oven off and let the biscotti sit in the residual heat. This will give it the crispy and crunchy texture.

Coffee Walnut Date Bundt Cake:

– reduce sugar to 1  1/2 cups

– replace shortening with the same amount of applesauce

Walnut Coconut Coffee Cake:

– use applesauce in place of vegetable oil

– reduce white sugar to 1/2 cup

– reduce brown sugar to 2/3 cup

– I made the buttermilk with 1 cup of regular milk + 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Pumpkin Bread:

– reduce brown sugar to 1 cup

– reduce white sugar to 1/2 cup

– use applesauce instead of vegetable oil

– I didn’t have coconut milk so I just used regular milk

– there’s no need to toast the walnuts

Half of the stuff as I was wrapping.

And two of the finished baskets (I love the penguin snowmen), complete with wine from the local Keel and Curley Winery.

Phew! Some more packaging to do tomorrow and I’ll finally get a chance to put up the Christmas tree and other decorations. Cutting it close this year!

[And since I’m already here, might as well as add in a link to one of my favorite recipes, which I’ll be making Tuesday for a gathering: Apple Bavarian Torte (for the crust, mix together 1/2 cup of applesauce, 1 cup of flour, 1/4 cup of oats, 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts, and a splatter of ground cinnamon and press to the bottom and up the sides of the pan).]

[Edit: October 15, 2011 – finally got a chance to take a good picture of the torte!]

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