Skinny Tuscan Lemon Muffins

20170521_161331Summer is just around the corner and that means longer, hotter days and kids running around the house 24/7 (if you are a parent). Although summer is supposed to be a more relaxed time of year it can actually be more hectic, especially if you are an adult with school age children. With the summer schedule already (or about to be) in full gear, it is good to have versatile recipes that are quick and easy to prepare and light on the palate.

20170521_161513Muffins are my preferred versatile recipe item, mainly because they were the first thing I learned to bake on my own as a kid. They are quick and easy to prepare, leave minimal clean-up, and have a seemingly infinite amount of flavor combinations so you never get bored. Today, I elected to work with the flavors of Italy, hence the name Skinny Tuscan Lemon Muffins. A combination of classic Italian ingredients (lemon, ricotta, and olive oil) creates a tart and satisfying muffin. The combination of ricotta cheese and olive oil make this muffin insanely moist, like a mini lemon pound cake. For striking lemon flavor, lemon zest and juice was not enough. To get lemon flavor that shines through everything else, I added lemon extract with the zest and juice. If you don’t like a heavy lemon flavor you can always omit the extract. Lastly, each muffin is finished with a heavy sprinkle of turbinado sugar to lend a crunchy textural contrast.

20170521_161429I highly recommend giving these muffins a try, especially this summer. They are great fresh out of the oven, at room temperature, or reheated. If you want to keep some on hand for quick snacks they can be frozen for longer storage and reheated in the microwave or simply left out to thaw on the counter to room temperature. If you elect to keep them at room temperature right after baking, make sure you store them in an airtight container and do not hold for more than 3 days (although they will likely never last that long). Enjoy these muffins at breakfast with coffee, grab one out the door before work/school, enjoy one as a sweet afternoon snack with tea, or fulfill a late night sweet craving. The possibilities are seemingly endless!

 

Skinny Tuscan Lemon Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 7.9 ounces All-Purpose Flour (about 1 ¾ cups)
  • ¾ cup Granulated Sugar
  • 2 ½ tsp. Baking Powder
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • ¾ cup part-skim Ricotta Cheese
  • ½ cup Water
  • ¼ cup Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp. Grated Lemon Zest
  • 2 tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • ½ tsp. Pure Lemon Extract
  • 1 large Egg; lightly beaten
  • Turbinado Sugar (Sugar in the Raw); for topping

 

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray or fill tray with muffin-cup liners and coat liners with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine ricotta, water, oil, zest, juice, lemon extract, and egg. Add ricotta mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
  4. Divide batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over batter in each muffin cup. Bake 15-16 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the muffin tin then transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool completely or serve warm.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

(1 Muffin)

NutritionLabel

 

Weight Watchers: 7 Smart Points, 4 Points Plus, or 4 Traditional Points

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: MAUREEN CALLAHAN
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2017

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Boozy Bananas Foster Bread

20160910_120126Bananas are a very beneficial fruit. They are cheap, easy to find, and contain nutrients that benefit our heart, digestive system, and weight loss goals. However, bananas are notorious for turning bad in the blink of an eye. The ugly dark brown spots on the peel are a sign of a mushy, overly sweet banana on the inside that very few find appetizing. As unappealing as an overripe banana may be, they are perfect for banana bread.

20160910_121250Banana bread is the perfect go to recipe for using up bananas that would otherwise go to waste. As much as I love the standard banana bread recipe, it can get repetitive rather quickly. This recipe, however, is an adult interpretation of the standard inspired by the famous bananas foster dessert.

Bananas Foster is a delightful dessert created by Owen Brennan of Brennan’s Restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana. In the early 1950’s, Brennan asked his chef to create a dessert for the restaurant that included bananas because New Orleans was the major port of entry for the imported fruit at the time. Brennan wanted to showcase the fruit so Bananas Foster was born.

20160910_121055As a tribute to the New Orleans favorite, this recipe swaps out all of the granulated sugar for light brown sugar and cooks the mashed bananas in a blend of butter and dark rum. To give that extra boozy touch without having to set anything on fire, the bread is topped off with a glaze of even more butter and rum. Although banana bread is typically a breakfast accompaniment, this recipe is decadent enough to be served for dessert as well.

Note:

  • This recipe only yields one loaf of bread. The loaf produces 16 servings with one slice for each serving. If you require more bread you can easily double the recipe.
  • This bread freezes well but be sure to thaw the loaf thoroughly before adding the glaze.

Boozy Bananas Foster Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups Mashed Ripe Banana
  • 1 cup Light Brown Sugar; packed & divided
  • 6 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; melted & divided
  • ¼ cup Dark Rum; divided
  • 1/3 cup Plain Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 6.75 ounces (1 ½ cups) All-Purpose Flour
  • ¼ cup Ground Flaxseed
  • ¾ tsp. Baking Soda
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • ½ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. Ground Allspice
  • 1/3 cup Powdered Sugar

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Combine banana, ½ cup brown sugar, 5 tablespoons melted butter, and 3 tablespoons rum in a nonstick skillet set over medium heat. Bring mixture just to a boil then remove from heat to cool. Transfer cooled banana mixture to a large bowl. Add the yogurt, remaining ½ cup of brown sugar, and eggs. Beat with a mixer on medium speed until combined.
  3. In a small bowl combine the flour, flaxseed, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice. Add flour mixture to the banana mixture and beat until just combined. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan and place on the wire rack.
  4. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter, remaining 1 tablespoon rum, and powdered sugar. Stir mixture until well blended. Drizzle over warm bread. Serve.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

(1 Slice)

boozy-banana-bread-nutritionlabel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weight Watchers: 8 Smart Points, 5 Points Plus, or 4 Traditional Points

 

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: MAUREEN CALLAHAN
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

 

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2016

Skinny Sour Cream Coffee Cake

20160409_165243To start the day off on the right foot, the average American wakes up, has a cup of coffee, and may or may not eat breakfast. For those that do want breakfast with their coffee, most coffee shops offer up alluring breakfast options such as doughnuts, muffins, bagels, sandwiches, and burritos. These offerings taste great but they are certainly not a healthy way to start the day. Although I would preferably like to always start my day with an omelet filled with healthy veggies and a handful of cheese, most days that is just not a feasible option. Rather than skip breakfast altogether one must look for more simple solutions.

20160409_165314-1A traditional pairing to coffee has always been coffee cake (hence the name)…because who doesn’t want to start the day off with something sweet. However, a traditional sour cream coffee cake does not fair any better than coffee house offerings. Just a slice of traditional sour cream coffee cake has around 500 calories and 32 grams of fat! Certainly not a way to start the day, especially if you already loaded the accompanying coffee with cream and sugar. In order to continue to enjoy this classic, it had to be slimmed down A LOT.

20160409_165257-1-1Without losing the moist and fulfilling taste of the original, this recipe adds plenty of whole grains and manages to cut off 225 calories and over 20 grams of fat per slice. Sure it is still not the healthiest option in the world but you can feel a lot less guilty eating a slice on days when you simply have no time for anything healthier. Even when you do have time for a healthier breakfast, this cake is sweet enough to be enjoyed as dessert too!

Skinny Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 oz. (¾ cup) Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats; divided
  • 4.5 oz. (1 cup) All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 oz. (¼ cup) Whole-Wheat Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon; divided
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • ½ cup Granulated Sugar
  • ½ cup Light Brown Sugar; packed (divided)
  • 1/3 cup Unsalted Butter; softened
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 (8 oz.) tub Light Sour Cream
  • 2 tbsp. Walnuts; finely chopped & toasted
  • 1 tbsp. Butter; chilled & cut into small pieces
  • Cooking Spray

Preparation:

  1. Coat a 9 inch springform pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°. Spread oats in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until oats are light brown and slightly fragrant, about 6 minutes.
  3. Measure ¼ cup of browned oats and set aside. Place the remaining oats in a food processor, processing until finely ground, approximately 4 seconds. In a large bowl, place the ground oats, all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ½ tsp. cinnamon. Stir with a whisk until combined.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, place the granulated sugar, ¼ cup brown sugar, and 1/3 cup butter. Beat with stand or hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in the vanilla and mix until combined. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture, alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the addition of the flour mixture. Be sure to mix until just combined (do not overstir). The batter will remain slightly lumpy due to the oats. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
  5. Combine the remaining ¼ cup oats, remaining ¼ cup brown sugar, remaining ½ tsp. cinnamon, and nuts in a bowl. Cut in the chilled butter pieces with a pastry blender until well blended. Sprinkle the top of the batter evenly with the nut mixture. Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes, or until top is golden brown and cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove cake from pan and serve. Cake is best served warm but can be stored in an airtight container for 3 days.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

(1 Slice)

SkinnySourCreamCoffeeCakeNutritionLabel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weight Watchers: 12 Smart Points, 7 Points Plus, or 6 Traditional Points

 

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: KATHY KITCHENS DOWNIE
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

 

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2016

Skinny Banana Nut Bread

4There is something about September that makes me crave Banana Bread. For me, I see it as a great transition from the light, berry desserts of summer to the heartier apple and pumpkin desserts of fall. The weather is just starting to show signs of changing here in Florida. The days are becoming shorter and the high temperatures are struggling to reach 90° anymore. These slight environmental changes are what trigger my changing taste buds each year.

In order to continue to enjoy banana bread like I have in the past, I needed to create a healthier alternative that would fit into my changing lifestyle. Banana bread may seem like a healthy dessert but it is often loaded with unnecessary sugar and can have upwards of 10 grams of fat per slice and over half being from saturated fat, which is no bueno!!! So with all of these bad numbers can banana bread actually become healthier? The answer is yes.

1There are many ways to shave calories and fat off of banana bread while adding in essential nutrients that make you feel a lot less guilty for indulging your cravings. Some swap wheat flour for coconut flour. Others add applesauce in place of butter or oil. I do not like these alternatives because I feel like the bread ends up tasting too much like coconut or apple when I want it to taste only of banana. In order to shave the bad and replace it with some good, I first cut out the eggs. Eggs are good but as the saying goes, too much of a good thing can be bad. Since I still want my eggs at breakfast I cut them out of the bread. Next, I replaced butter with olive oil, which also replaced a significant amount of saturated fat with healthier poly & monounsaturated fats. Another swap was allowing plain Greek yogurt to stand in for the typical sour cream called for in most conventional recipes. The addition of Greek yogurt not only helps shave down the bad qualities in traditional banana bread but it also adds beneficial protein, probiotics, vitamin B12, potassium, and calcium. Also by adding the yogurt I was able to cut down on the amount of olive oil needed. In order to cut down on the amount of white flour without changing the texture too much, I replaced half of the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat flour. If those changes weren’t enough I decided to sneak in some flaxseed to add heart healthy omega 3s and use only very ripe bananas to cut back on added sugar. Don’t be tempted to use those barely ripe bananas you just bought at the store no matter how much you may want to try this recipe. If the bananas are not overly ripe the bread will not taste as sweet and you will likely be disappointed. The reason this step is so important is because as the banana ripens, the natural sugars concentrate and the flavor matures. Many overlook this step and it is the most crucial. If you have to skip this step for whatever reason, you may have to bump up the sugar to 1 ½ cups to keep it as sweet, but keep in mind if you do the nutritional values will change.

3Although there have been many alterations to this recipe to make it more nutritious it still produces a tasty loaf. I enjoy a slice as a late night snack but it would also be great with coffee or tea at breakfast. The following recipe will produce 2 loaves of bread and approximately 24 servings. A serving size is one slice that weighs approximately 2 oz. Total preparation time for this recipe is approximately 1 ½ hours. If you are following Weight Watchers, one slice is 4 Points or 5 Points Plus.

Skinny Banana Nut Bread

Ingredients:

  • 6.8 oz. (1 ½ cups) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 7.2 oz. (1 ½ cups) Whole-Wheat Flour
  • ½ cup Flaxseed Meal
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 2 cups Very Ripe Bananas; mashed (about 4 large)
  • 1 cup Walnuts; chopped
  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • ½ cup Olive Oil
  • Olive Oil Cooking Spray

Formula:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Prepare two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans by coating all sides with cooking spray.
  2. Combine flours, flaxseed, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Stir with a whisk until mixed. In a medium bowl, combine banana, walnuts, sugar, vanilla, yogurt, and oil. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  3. Pour the batter evenly between the two pans. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Gently run a knife around perimeter of bread to loosen from sides. Remove loafs from pans and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Nutritional Information

(One 2 oz. Slice)

banananutbread

Weight Watchers: 4 Points or 5 Points Plus

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: EILEEN SOLBERG
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2015

Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls

Fall has officially arrived here in Florida today. Waking up to a very brisk, chilly morning was refreshing but also a bit of a shock to the system I must admit. It is rather ironic that as I sit here freezing in Florida while family in Queens, New York will most likely be hit by a Hurricane in the coming hours. With that said, I guess it is only fitting that there is no better way to warm up your day then starting it off with a sweet and gooey, calorie-laced cinnamon roll straight from the oven. Although there are many food court or fast food leaner and punier cousins to the homemade cinnamon roll, nothing is quite as satisfying as eating a cinnamon roll made from scratch or a neighborhood bakery. Processed cinnamon rolls lack the richness of soft, buttery Brioche dough, the gooey abundance of cinnamon-sugar filling, and the thick and sticky cream cheese glaze that a great homemade cinnamon roll can offer.

To start the cinnamon roll off on the right foot, selecting the proper type of yeast dough is key. Some cinnamon roll formulas will use a sweet bread dough which is too lean, a Danish dough which is overly buttery and way too much labor, or Challah which is neither rich or soft enough for the ideal roll. By far the best in my opinion is Brioche, which isn’t flaky or overly buttery, but rather a tender and rich base with which to begin the Ultimate Cinnamon Roll. Next stop is the filling. Granulated sugar is far too bland in a cinnamon roll of epic status. Using light brown sugar instead adds a caramel flavor which is further emphasized when it melts down into ooey gooey deliciousness. Just be sure that you use light brown sugar and not dark because then you will go from one extreme to another. First being too bland and then to being too bold and overshadowing the cinnamon with caramel flavor. Any cinnamon of course would do in this formula but I wanted the Ultimate most Epic Cinnamon Roll and to do that you need some fine cinnamon. I chose to use a blend of hand-mixed China, Vietnamese, Korintje, and Ceylon Cinnamon. The result… filling that is PERFECTO!!! Of course with more filling comes the risk of it all crumbling out everywhere as it is rolled up. To prevent this, a slathering of butter is necessary and since the original yeast dough base is not a significantly buttery dough to begin with, slathering the butter in this step doesn’t affect the dough in a negative way but rather enriches it perfectly and provides the desired rich, gooey filling.

Last stop on the road to Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls ends with the glaze. Most formulas top the rolls with a cream cheese frosting full of butter and confectioner’s sugar, causing already rich rolls to be just too darn sweet. By eliminating the butter and replacing it with a bit of milk and vanilla, the cream cheese glaze now had the perfect amount of rich flavor without being too over the top. By adding a bit of the glaze while the rolls were still warm allowed the it to penetrate the rolls and add an extra element of flavor and tenderness. Adding the rest of the glaze after the rolls had cooled for some time prevented it from melting and created a nice thick layer of frosting sure to never disappoint.

Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls

Brioche Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup Milk, warmed to 110°
  • 1 envelope Rapid-Rise or Instant Yeast (2 ¼ tsp.)
  • 3 Eggs, room temp.
  • 4 ¼ cups Bread Flour
  • ½ cup Cornstarch
  • ½ cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp. Salt
  • 12 tbsp. ( 1 ½ sticks) Unsalted Butter, cut into pieces

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1 ½ tbsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 4 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, softened

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 tbsp. Milk
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 ½ cups Confectioners’ Sugar

Brioche Formula:

  1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat to 200°. Once preheated, shut off the oven. Line a 13 x 9 in. pan with foil, allowing a bit of excess to hang over the edges. Grease the pan with cooking spray. 
  2. Mix heated milk and yeast together until yeast dissolves. Allow to bloom a few minutes. Fit a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment and use the bowl to mix the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt until combined. With mixer on low, add the milk/yeast mixture in a steady stream. Add the eggs and mix until the dough comes together. Increase to medium speed and add the butter, one piece at a time, until incorporated. Continue to mix the dough until it is smooth and comes away from the sides of the bowl in a cohesive ball, about 10 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the warm oven. Let rise until dough has doubled in size, about 2 hours. (If not using a stand mixer, be sure to place the dough in a oven safe bowl before placing in the preheated oven.)

Filling Formula:

  1. Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Roll the dough into an 18 in. square. Spread the softened butter over the dough, leaving a ½ in. border around the edges. Sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture and lightly press the sugar mixture to adhere it to the dough. 
  2. Starting with the edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Pinch the seam lightly to seal it and place the seam side down. Use a metal bench scraper or knife to cut the rolled log in half and then into 8 pieces for large cinnamon rolls or 12 pieces for mini cinnamon rolls. Transfer the pieces, cut side facing up, into the prepared 13 x 9 pan. Cover with plastic wrap and proof in the warmed, shut off oven until doubled in size, about 1 hour. 

Glaze/Bake Formula:

  1. Remove cinnamon rolls from oven or warm spot. Discard plastic wrap. Heat oven to 350°. Bake cinnamon rolls until golden brown and filling is melted, 30 to 40 minutes. While cinnamon rolls bake, whisk cream cheese, milk, vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Once the cinnamon rolls have finished baking, transfer the pan to a wire cooling rack and ice the rolls with ½ cup of the glaze, reserving the remaining glaze for later. Allow the cinnamon rolls to cool for about 30 minutes. Using the foil overhang created earlier, gently lift the rolls from the pan and top with the remaining glaze. Serve warm.

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

 

PETER MENDOROS – PHOTOGRAPHY

ERIKA BRUCE 

 

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2012