Peach and Rosemary Polenta Cake with Honey Buttercream

One of the wonderful things about the expat community is how incredibly welcoming it is to newcomers. It’s easy to make friends in that kind of environment, especially for us wallflowers, but the community is also tends to be fluid. Most folks, at least here in Munich, tend to be on fixed term contracts and will be leaving after a year or two. So as wonderful as it is making friends from all over the world, you know that eventually they will be moving on to new places or going back to old familiar ones. It’s lovely having friends all over the world, but it’s also a bit lonely when all of your friends have left while you’ve stayed behind.

But then… they come back!

It seems like our house has been {and will continue to be for a few more months at least} a revolving door. Friends and family have made our sofa bed their home and lots of great visiting has been happening over a couple beers and a table full of food. These awesome people have also unwittingly been guinea pigs for lots of new recipes so for that, thank you.

Today one of my friends from my au pair year is arriving and, since food is my love language, naturally I made cake. So here’s to catching up, trips down memory lane, great conversations, trips to the Wies’n, and tons of great food.

Peach and Rosemary Polenta Cake with Honey Brown Butter{cream} from Kiwi+Peach

Peach and Rosemary Polenta Cake

{inspired by Adventures in Cooking}
The whole recipe is reduced to make a two layer cake instead of three only because I don’t have three pans. Aside from adding the peaches, I replaced the sugar in the cake with honey so some amounts of other ingredients also had to change to compensate for the differences. 

The Dry
1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour {I used spelt.}
1/3 cup uncooked polenta {or cornmeal. It’s the same thing. I can’t get cornmeal here, so I went with polenta}
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda

The Wet
3 eggs
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp apple juice {I used unfiltered.}
1/2 Tbsp vanilla
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 cloves, crushed and ground

To Fold
2 Tbsp rosemary, finely chopped
2 small peaches, cubed

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.

Sift the dry ingredients together into a medium sized mixing bowl and then set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and honey. Then add the olive oil, apple juice, vanilla, and spices and stir until it’s combined.

Slowly add the dry ingredients in batches and mix until it’s just combined. Don’t want to over mix it! Gently fold in the peaches and the chopped rosemary.

Pour the batter up into two 6 inch cake pans and bake for 30 minutes.

When they’re finished transfer the cakes to a cooling rack and let them cool completely before icing.

Peach and Rosemary Polenta Cake with Honey Buttercream from Kiwi+Peach

Honey Buttercream

{from Adventures in Cooking}

1 stick {140g} butter
1 cup powdered sugar {icing sugar for the Kiwis}
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbsp cream {or in my case, soy cream}, optional but recommended

First step is to brown the butter. The short version is melt the butter over medium heat then let it keep cooking until it goes from light yellow to a rich tan color, little black bits start to form, and it starts to smell like nutty toffee. {Eva over at Adventures in Cooking explains this process beautifully, so if you’re unsure head over there and read up.} When you get to that point, set it off the heat to cool for a bit then pour it into a bowl lined with plastic wrap. Pop the bowl in the fridge until the butter is cooled and firmed enough to use for the buttercream.

When you poke it the butter should feel soft but your finger shouldn’t sink in. Let’s make some buttercream!

Sift your powdered sugar into a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and add them to the bowl along with the honey. Beat them all together until you like the consistency. If it’s a bit thick, add some cream to smooth it out.

Peach and Rosemary Polenta Cake with Honey Brown Butter{cream} from Kiwi+Peach

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Summer Monogram Swap {and Bourbon Buckeyes}

One of the best parts of this blog adventure is the wonderful blogging community that it makes you a part of. Folks that know exactly what it’s like pouring your heart and time into your tiny little corner of the interwebs and hope that the people reading it respond to your voice and what you’re talking about.

There are a seemingly never ending number of opportunities to meet and connect with these other folks. When I saw that one of my favorite style bloggers, Nicole from Probably Polka Dots, was hosting a monogram swap I thought “Why not?”. I’ve never done anything like this before but I really liked the concept of connecting with one or two bloggers and really getting to know them. The fact that I’d get to gift and be gifted something personal and unique made it even better.

Our group was a trio. I was entrusted with finding the perfect gift for Susan, a lifestyle blogger from Ohio. I have loved every minute of getting to know Susan and spending time in her space, Charming Lucy. She is creative and stylish, but the thing I find most inspiring about her blog is how highly she talks about her precious daughter and blog namesake, Lucy. Be sure to head over to her blog to see what I ended up giving her!

When I found out that Sarah, a style blogger from Kentucky, was going to be picking out my monogramed goodie I was pretty pumped. The girl has style as evidenced by her blog Simply Sarah Style, so I knew I’d be getting something awesome. Since we are all about the kitchen over here, she picked out some cute personalized recipe cards and a monogrammed tea towel. Thanks so much Sarah!

tea towel     recipe cards
photo credit: the mama

Ladies, thank you all so much for making the swap a great experience. And, because y’all are both so awesome, I thought I’d share a little recipe I cooked up that was inspired by both of y’all.

Football season is THREE days away and, for the football devoted, that means lots of tailgating, football watching get togethers, and a significant amount of cooking every weekend. {At least, that is what it would mean that for me if we were in the States, but we’re not. So football season means 2am game starts and lots of gnashing of teeth if the video feed freezes.}

One of the things I’ve learned in my years of tailgating is that if you put liquor in it, folks will eat it. Traditionally a tailgate favorite for fans of The Ohio State Buckeyes {sorry Michigan fans, I do love you}, I think that regardless of your school allegiance, these are a bite sized, Kentucky bourbon filled dessert that folks can get on board with.

Normal buckeyes are pretty simple–peanut butter, powdered sugar, and chocolate. In a effort to up the nutritional value of these a bit, I wanted to eliminate most of the refined sugar, so instead of powdered sugar, we’re using peanut butter cookie crumbs and mixing it with cream cheese and bourbon and then dipping it in dark chocolate. Bam.

Kiwi+Peach: Bourbon Buckeyes {whole grain, no refined sugar, and so, so delicious}

Bourbon Buckeyes

The Crumb
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 cup whole grain flour {I used spelt.}
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

The Mix
6 ounces {175 grams} cream cheese
2 Tbsp bourbon
2 Tbsp maple syrup

The Cover
8 ounces {200 grams} of dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the peanut butter, maple syrup, vanilla and melted coconut oil together. Slowly add in the flour, baking soda, and salt until they are just incorporated.

Spoon golf ball sized balls of dough onto a lined baking sheet and press flat with a fork. Pop them in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until they are crispy.

You could stop here and just have some peanut buttery cookies, but I recommend you keep going. Its about to get delicious.

When the cookies are finished, let them cool for a quick minute, and then put them into your food processor. Process until there are no chunks of cookie left, just crumbs.

In a small bowl, whisk the bourbon and maple syrup into the cream cheese. Empty the cookie crumbs into a large mixing bowl, and add the cream cheese mixture. Mix until it’s fully incorporated.

Roll into golf ball sized balls and pop in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

To melt your chocolate, break the bar up into small pieces and put the pieces in a bowl. Pop the bowl in the microwave for a minute. Stir the chocolate. If it’s not completely melted yet, keep going in 15 second intervals stirring well in between each. It shouldn’t take more than 1 or 2 more hits.

Dip the bottom of your peanut buttery ball of goodness into the chocolate then transfer to a parchment paper lined tray. Let the chocolate harden and then store in the freezer until about 30 minutes before you’re serving them.

This should get you about 20 buckeyes. Adjust your amounts accordingly, but just a warning, everyone at your tailgate will be gobbling them up!

Summertime Staple Granola

Now that summer has finally made its appearance here in Deutschland its time to switch up my breakfast routine. In the winter, I opt for hearty oats with a little bit of honey that make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and prepare me to venture out in the frigid wasteland that is Munich.

But summer is here! {Rejoice people!} Bring on beer garden season, runs in the park, and the granola. My absolute favorite summertime breakfast is granola and yogurt sprinkled with fresh summer berries. Life doesn’t get much better than that. Except, maybe, if its homemade granola you’re sprinkling on your yogurt.

The Kiwi and I are a bit picky when it comes to our granola. We want it toasted, but we don’t like the hard clumps that feel like they are going to break your teeth. We weren’t really finding a granola here that was to our liking, so I thought I’d whip up some of my own. There is a ton of refined sugar in the supposedly healthy granola we buy at the shops {in Germany and in the States}. By making our own, I was able to eliminate the highly processed refined sugars and berries that don’t even resemble berries anymore and replace them with just the goodies we like best. The Kiwi says that there is no going back now.

The best thing about making it yourself is that it really is completely customizable to your taste {or to whatever you have in the pantry}. Not a fan of apricots? Try dried apples. Love crasins? Add extra. Go wild y’all, and share your granola combinations in the comments down below. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Kiwi+Peach: Homemade Granola

Kiwi+Peach Homemade Granola

The Wet Stuff
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup honey
1 tbsp vanilla

The Dry Stuff
5 cups spelt oats
1/2 cup dried berries {mix of cranberries, cherries, and blueberries}
10 dried apricots, quartered
1 cup seeds {pumpkin, flax, sesame, sunflower}
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp nutmeg
2 tsp allspice
2 tsp ginger

Preheat oven to 300°F/150°C.

Over medium heat, mix your liquids together in a small pot and bring to a boil.

In a large bowl, mix together all of your dry ingredients. Add the boiling liquids and mix well.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread the granola out. Bake for 20 minutes. Get the pan out, give it a stir, and then put it back on for 20 more minutes. Remove, stir and then return to the oven for 5 more minutes. Remove it from the oven and let it cool.

Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

I will preface this post with a disclaimer. These are not healthy cookies. I repeat. These are not healthy cookies. However, the original old family recipe was worse {health wise, taste wise they were phenominal}.  These at least have some fiber and there certain health benefits in dark chocolate {thank goodness}. However, they still have some refined sugar and they still have saturated fat, but, lets be honest, that’s what makes them taste so good.

And they are good. I have about 1,000 middle schoolers {and a few teachers} that will tell you how good they are. When I was teaching, I used a version of this recipe to test my middle schoolers on our measuring and food safety unit. On the first day of class, the most popular question was always “When are we making the cookies?” When the day came, they were giddy; some even brought milk to enjoy them with and all across the classroom a heard a chorus of “Mmmmm. These are so good.” So there you have it, from the mouths of babes.

To settle the inevitable conflict about who’s version of the English language is correct, the Kiwi and I have an agreement about cookies vs. biscuits. If its chewy and soft, its a cookie. If it breaks your teeth, its a biscuit. These, my friends are definitely cookies. And they are absolutely perfect with a glass of {soy} milk. Even better, make yourself an amazing ice cream sandwich. {Take a cookie and flip it over. Spoon a layer of frozen yogurt on it and then top it with another cookie. Freeze for at least 20 minutes.}

Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

{makes 9 big cookies}

The Dry
2/3 cup flour {I use whole wheat.}
2/3 cup oats
1/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped into chunks {I use 85%.}
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pecans, chopped {optional}
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

The Wet
¼ cup butter, melted
2 Tbsp veggie oil
¼ cup honey
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

In a large mixing bowl, measure the dry ingredients. Melt the butter in the microwave and add it, the veggie oil, honey and vanilla to the dry ingredients and mix it all together. Spoon onto a lined cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. When they are finished let cool for a bit to help improve their structural integrity {which the Kiwi questions}.

{substitutions}

For a fluffier and admittedly prettier cookie {see below}; in the same amounts, use all purpose flour instead of whole wheat and white sugar instead of the honey. While the whole wheat flour and the honey are less processed, they do make the cookie a bit dense and give the cookie a strong honey flavor. I love that flavor, but if you don’t, use the sugar!  The original version also used an egg instead of veggie oil, but for this amount of cookies you would need a half of an egg and thats just a pain.