RITZ Cracker Cookies

These are sweet, salty, buttery and crunchy! Deliciously addictive. Love them!

RITZ Cracker Cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter, soft
1 3/4 cups white granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups white all-purpose flour
1/4 cup milk powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 sleeve RITZ crackers, whole

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cream together the soft unsalted butter with the white granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the large egg.

Beat in the white all-purpose flour, milk powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add in the RITZ crackers and mix only until crackers break up. You do not want cracker crumbs, just broken up crackers into small to medium sized pieces.

Place tablespoon size balls of dough into the parchment lined baking sheets. Bake, one sheet at a time, in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.

Gooey Butter Cake

I love a gooey butter cake! Try this!

Gooey Butter Cake

For the crust…
1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick butter, melted
1 large egg

For the filling…
1 stick butter, melted
8 oz cream cheese
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick baking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl make the crust by combining the dry yellow cake mix with the melted butter and egg. Pat this mixture into the bottom of the pan.

In another large bowl beat together the melted butter and cream cheese. Add in the large eggs and pure vanilla extract. Combine well. Beat in the confectioner’s sugar. Pour on top of crust and spread evenly.

Bake in preheated oven 48 minutes. Be careful not to over bake! The center will still be jiggly when it is done baking.

Let rest at room temperature until cooled. Wrap with aluminum foil and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Remove, cut and serve.

Banana Bread Cookies

I love banana bread and these “bites”, or cookies, satisfy that craving without having to bake – and eat – and entire loaf of banana bread! Feel free to replace the chocolate chips with walnuts or simply add both – or leave both out. Totally up to your tastes!

Banana Bread Cookies

1 stick unsalted butter, soft
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed bananas or 3 bananas
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups white all-purpose flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl beat together the soft unsalted butter with the white granulated sugar and packed light brown sugar until the mixture is light in color and fluffy in texture. This will take about 4 minutes.

Beat in the large eggs and mashed bananas. Beat in the pure vanilla extract, baking soda, ground cinnamon and salt.

Fold in the white all-purpose flour and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Place in tablespoon size dollops onto the prepared baking sheets and leave about 2 inches between each cookie.

Bake, one sheet at a time, in preheated oven for 13 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly before enjoying.

CHEW THIS! Fluffernutter Fudge

Fluffernutter Fudge

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, September 16th 2018 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Fluffernutter Fudge
Blaise Doubman

Well, as of writing this column, I have still yet to figure out my Facebook problems. I thought I had them figured out, but I was wrong. Once things get ironed out and I have a link to share with all of you, I will share it. In the meantime, you can follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest all under the user name “blaisethebaker”. Moving on to talk about an edible update that I do have and can share; a new fudge recipe! I love fudge but hate messing with candy thermometers, boiling sugar and the complete mess and danger of it all. This recipe requires no extra candy equipment and can be made in less than 4 minutes! Seriously? Yes!

The Fluffernutter sandwich is popular across the US and I happen to love them! I highly recommend you try them fried, fabulous! Add a little sliced banana and you have a sandwich that Elvis himself would generously approve! I love making fudge and love the combination of peanut butter and marshmallow, so I decided to take a crack at the recipe I am sharing here today. The marshmallows really need to maintain their shape in this recipe and they will, so do not worry about cooling the microwaved mixture too much. The presentation of this fudge is fun too and people will go crazy for the taste! With only a handful of ingredients that you already have in your pantry, why not whip up some of this delicious fudge and have a Fluffernutter moment with me?

Fluffernutter Fudge

This fudge is best eaten the day it is made, which should not be hard to do!

1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, melted
1 bag (10 oz) peanut butter chips
1 bag (10 oz) miniature marshmallows
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Start by lining a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil and spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large microwave safe bowl add the melted butter together with the peanut butter chips and microwave on high 90 seconds until the peanut butter chips are melted. Stir together until both ingredients are smooth and combined.

Add in the pure vanilla extract and pinch of salt, stirring to combine.

Add in the marshmallows and stir gently until the marshmallows are all coated.

Pour into the prepared pan and smooth out the top. Place into the refrigerator to chill for 2 hours. Remove and lift the fudge out of the pan using the help of the aluminum foil.

Cut into small squares and serve. Leftovers should be kept chilled in the refrigerator.

Ask and Answer: I received a few emails about my last column for my “Comforting Banana Bread” so I thought I would answer those questions here. Yes, you can freeze the loaf. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil and place in freezer for up to 6 months. To thaw, simply remove from freezer and remove aluminum foil. Allow to come to room temperature by placing into the refrigerator or leaving on the counter in a cool place. You can also add walnuts, pecans, or even cashews to the mix. I would slightly toast the nuts first to “wake up” their flavors. This bread is also delicious served with strawberry jam for a unique flavor combination. Also feel free to take the thick slices and make a banana bread style french toast. Delicious!

CHEW THIS! Comforting Banana Bread

Comforting Banana Bread

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, September 2nd 2018 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Facebook Questions and Comforting Banana Bread
Blaise Doubman

I have been getting several emails about my Blaise the Baker Facebook page. Let me clear the air on that subject first before we continue with my column and recipe for banana bread. My Facebook accounts, both private and public, were compromised about a month ago. I thought I had solved the various problems but the problems and issues reoccurred not long after the initial hacking. The safest thing for me to do, for my friends and followers, was to delete both accounts and start over. Facebook will not allow me to start over with my pages until a certain amount of time has passed. As soon as my pages are up and started again I will be sure to let you know the appropriate links so that you can follow along with me again.

There has been a bit of a silver lining in all of this though because it has given me a chance to really sit back and think about how I want to “relaunch” Blaise the Baker and it has also given me this wonderfully delicious recipe for banana bread! How? I needed some comfort after all the hacking news, etc. so I decided that I would develop a new recipe for one of my favorite comforting things – banana bread! This one is simple, delicious and very flavorful. I have several recipes for banana bread, one using a yellow cake mix, one calling for bits of toffee and another that uses sour cream and is studded with cranberries and walnuts. This one though is simple in process and fabulous in flavor. I take the finished bread and cut it into huge slices but feel free to cut the slices according to your tastes, or your level of comfort needed.

Comforting Banana Bread

This banana bread will last for several days when wrapped in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature. Lightly toast the bread and smear with unsalted butter or cream cheese for an even more delicious comforting treat.

1 ¾ cups white all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup walnuts, toasted (optional)

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a regular size loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl whisk together the white all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In another large bowl beat together the softened unsalted butter with the white granulated sugar until light in color and fluffy in texture. Beat in the large eggs.

Stir in the mashed bananas and pure vanilla extract. Gently fold in the whisked dry ingredients.

Add in the toasted walnuts, if using, and stir until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top. Bake in preheated oven for 44 minutes. The top will be split and golden brown in color.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before turning it out onto a piece of parchment paper to cool completely. Cut into large comforting slices and serve.

Ask and Answer: Several people have messaged me to ask more about my position as a “Glen Oaks Health Campus Family Ambassador” and what it means. Lots of you have had loved ones admitted into Glen Oaks in the last several months and remember reading about my position there. What an Ambassador does is basically help represent Glen Oaks Health Campus as a whole. I am here to answer any questions you may have about the facility or address any concerns you may have. I also have written a “business review” of Glen Oaks Health Campus, which can be found on my website, blaisethebaker.com

CHEW THIS! Funfetti Cake Balls

Funfetti Cake Balls

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, March 18th 2018 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Funfetti Cake Balls Bring Big Smiles
Blaise Doubman

Recently I announced publicly on my social media pages, that for the past 18 months I have been secretly writing my second cookbook! The responses I got back were overwhelming! So many people were just as enthused and excited as I was sharing the news! After I wrote my first cookbook, I never did think I was “finished” with writing and sharing recipes in that way. At the same time though, I could not really tell you when my second cookbook would come together, if at all. People would ask me about it and I would just shrug my shoulders and tell them to stay tuned. I guess in the back of my mind, I knew after the first cookbook was published, that I was not done with things because I had so many more family recipes and stories to share. Developing recipes, testing recipes and sharing recipes is something that I truly love. When I find something good, read something I love, taste something out of the ordinary, see a movie I think is fascinating or hear a song that puts me in a good mood the first thing I want to do is share it! I want to share it with anyone and everyone I know, and sometimes, more often than not, share it with people I do not know! Ha! I love to share the things I love with people.

I love it too, when I bake something and immediately it puts a big smile on people’s faces! This is exactly what happened with my newest creation, “Funfetti Cake Balls”! Cake balls and even cake pops for that matter, are nothing new, but my newest creation combines one of America’s most loved cakes, Funfetti, with a delicious white almond bark coating and a sprinkling of rainbow sprinkles, just for fun. These are perfect for birthday parties, baby showers, wedding showers, anniversary parties, pitch-ins, get togethers, anything and everything you name it! Sprinkle the tops with rainbow sprinkles or even get creative with crushed up chocolate cookies, chocolate sprinkles or different flavors and colors of sanding sugars. Most often when making cake pops, or even brownie pops, you first must bake the cake, or brownies, allow to cool, crumble in a bowl, add frosting, and on and on. Not these! These are simple, foolproof and fun to make. This recipe would be a perfect hands on activity for children in the kitchen. And as far as my second cookbook, it will be released sometime in 2018, still not sure on an exact release date, but once I know more about it I will share the details here with all you.

Funfetti Cake Balls

These are best eaten the day they are made but can be kept covered, at room temperature, for 48 hours. The leftover white almond bark can be used in a variety of ways such as dipping wavy-style potato chips, pretzel rods or a vast array of cut fruits. Simple dip away your desired edible and immediately sprinkle with rainbow sprinkles. Allow to set up at room temperature for several minutes before serving and enjoying.

1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ cups Funfetti cake mix
½ cup white granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Rainbow sprinkles
2 boxes white almond bark candy coating
1 tablespoon solid vegetable shortening

Start by lining a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine the melted unsalted butter with the Funfetti cake mix, white granulated sugar and pure vanilla extract. Feel free to mix in a few heaping tablespoons of the rainbow sprinkles to the mix if you want sprinkles throughout the cake balls.

Once the ingredients are combined and a dough is formed, roll into balls slightly smaller than a tablespoon. Place the rolled balls onto the parchment lined baking sheet.

Place the baking sheet into the freezer for 15 minutes.

Prepare the candy coating by placing both boxes into a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. Towards the end of the melting process, add in the tablespoon of solid vegetable shortening and stir well to combine. Continue microwaving until the candy coating is smooth and glossy, being careful not to scorch the coating.

Remove the balls from the freezer and start to dip them in the melted candy coating. This needs to be a fast job because the candy coating starts to harden quickly. What you need to do is place a couple of the frozen balls into the melted coating, roll around using two forks to ensure even coating, carefully remove excess candy and place balls back onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle over the rainbow sprinkles.

Continue with this method until all the balls are dipped and adored with sprinkles.

Allow the coating to set up completely before serving and enjoying, about 15 minutes.

Ask and Answer: Inga Brown Neal, of local “Temptations” fame, had a suggestion with my previous column for “Mini Baked Apple Pies”. She said that she would fill the pies with apple butter and she wouldn’t use glaze, instead she would use just sugar. I thought this was a fabulous idea and promised her if I used the recipe I would credit her, so here it is! Shout out and special thanks to Inga for the suggestion. Also, some special thanks go out to Inga for delivering some of the best potato soup I have ever had from her business “Temptations”. Thanks again Inga!

Perfect Stovetop Popcorn

Originally published on “Blaise the Baker” September 2nd, 2017

I made a “Welcome Fall” trip to Jacob’s Family Orchard yesterday and stocked up on their delicious apple cinnamon donuts, apple butter, honey, apple pie spice, amazingly rich and delicious caramel apple turnovers, tomatoes and of course popcorn! My favorite is the “Amish” style “purple” popcorn. I find it pops more evenly, has a better flavor and contains more antioxidants than a normal popcorn kernel. Anyways, I got to researching the perfect stovetop popcorn popping methods and discovered one of my own that I could not wait to tell you all about! Their are a couple of secrets that you must do – and I will explain them – and the “why” behind them as I go about the recipe. Are you ready!?

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Perfect Stovetop Popcorn

3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/3 cup “purple” style popcorn
4 tablespoons salted butter

Place a large pot over medium high heat and add the canola oil. Place 4 kernels of corn into the oil. Once the kernels start to pop – you will know the oil is ready!

Salt the oil with the Kosher salt. This will ensure that once the popcorn pops, it will be salted evenly. 

Once a kernel or two has popped, add in the remaining 1/3 cup of popcorn kernals evenly over the heated oil. Remove from heat and count out loud to 40 seconds. This ensures that all the kernels are at the same temperature and thus when placed back on the heat, the popcorn kernels will all pop at the same time – leaving none unpopped. 

Once 40 seconds are up, place back on the medium high heat and wait until you get some kernel popping action. Once the kernels start popping, place a lid slightly ajar on top and start shaking and moving around the pot gently. Placing a lid slightly ajar will ensure some of the steam to escape therefore making the popcorn dry which is what is desired. 

Once the popcorn kernels stop popping and slow down quite a bit remove from the heat and shake a few more minutes until you do not hear popping. Remove from heat and pour into large bowl.

Place butter in the already hot pot and allow to melt. Once melted pour over the popcorn and eat while still warm / hot.

Enjoy!