Wow it’s been a long time since I made my presence known on the interweb! Sorry friends! It’s been a combination of being incredibly busy and doing absolutely nothing. I’m back at the good ol’ Penn State working in the lab and watching it snow outside from my lab bench. My nights are spent engrossed in either Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth (which I’m almost finished with…yep all 1000 pages. Thanks for getting me hooked dad) or Californication (I know what a weird set of interests). It’s been so freezing here for the past week. And I’m not talking Pennsylvania-type cold. I’m talking Minnesota sub-zero cold. I think I brought it with me actually as it was a balmy 45⁰F when I landed last Sunday evening in State College, and it didn’t take long to drop below zero shortly after that. That’s right Pennsylvanians! You can blame the cold on the lone Minnesotan in your midst.
I love cold weather though. Especially when it’s snowing. There’s something about rosy cheeks and noses slowly getting their feeling back when you step into the warmth from the tundra. Most people think I’m absolutely crazy. Including my loving, yet skeptical, family. My mom is already “done” with winter now that Christmas is over. She says that she would enjoy the winter months more in Florida. I think my love of the cold makes me a true Minnesotan! I mean I don’t partake in any outside winter activities like skiing or ice hockey other than the token sledding event here and there, so I have to compensate in other ways right? Winter is one of the things I miss most about Minnesota actually.
This bitter cold has energized me and made me want to curl up under my blanket at the same time. This sensation is hard to explain, but let’s just say I cooked a lot of soups and other comforts this week and then read or watched television directly after. So as you can see, I was busy doing lots of things…or nothing depending on how you look at it instead of posting on the blog.
The temperatures are about to return to the norm of Pennsylvania (about 30⁰F) just in time for the undergraduate students to return to State College and save it from its ghost-town status. To celebrate my favorite week here yet and Minnesota-esque weather, I made some yummy treats to hunker down with in order to finish Pillars and to stare at the soon-to-be-gone snow. I also had another reason for making these delectable nummies this weekend. Both of my best friends Keelin and Kaitlin (mentioned on here several times before) moved into new apartments this week, and I wish I could be there with this tart and mugs of hot chocolate to congratulate them! Even though Keelin is now in Colorado and Kaitlin is in Indianapolis, I’m sending them virtual sugar and chocolate.
Your New Years’ Resolution diet is over right? Good! I broke out a couple of my favorites to create some delectable sugar rushes—malted milk powder and butterscotch. If I control myself today I may even have some for tomorrow’s season 4 premiere of Girls! (Jimmy Fallon showed a sneak peak this week when he had Lena Dunham on the show and I literally squealed.)
Malted milk powder makes most baked goods taste even more like a sweet tooth’s crack than normal. I absolutely love it which probably explains why I have such an addiction to Momofuku Milk Bar’s goods which often feature milk powder as a main ingredient.
Malted milk powder is a dried powder made from malted barley, wheat flour, sugar, and milk. The components are mixed followed by an evaporation process turning the liquid to a powder. This powder was commonly used as a nutritious treat when dissolved in milk for picky eaters as it is high in caloric content as well as vitamins and minerals. In the 20s malted milk powder became a pop culture phenomenon creating the malted milk shake and subsequently malt shops with the invention of the electric blender.
In baked goods, malted milk powder adds an incredible deep flavor to the overall profile. The malt flavor from the barley blends incredibly well with the flavors created during the baking process from the browning of the sugars. The milk sugars in the butter, the added brown sugar, and the sugar in the malted milk powder (both added sugar and milk sugars from the evaporated milk) create a large amount of Maillard browning and caramelization in addition to the malt flavor contributed by the milk powder. See what I mean with the layers? That is why products with malted milk powder taste so scrumptious! They’ve got a lot of good stuff going on. In addition to the flavor that malted milk powder imparts, the extra flour thickens baked goods further and creates a chewier product.
There is another function of malt powder in baked goods. Malt powder can be allowed to develop amylase enzymes. These enzymes are responsible for breaking down starch into sugar. In addition to malt flavor, the malt powder’s function is helping out the yeast. Yeast eats sugar and creates carbon dioxide which is responsible for the rise in baked goods. Malt powder can allow bakers to use less yeast and sugar and still develop an incredible flavor and a smooth rise. This type of malt powder is called diastatic. Obviously this isn’t being used here, but it’s interesting!
Enjoy your cookie tart and hot chocolate! I know I am…
Malted Milk Cookie Tart
Adapted from The Messy Baker
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
½ cup malted milk powder
¼ cup rainbow sprinkles
½ Toblerone bar
1. Preheat the oven to 350⁰F and prepare a 10 inch tart pan (or an 8×8 inch square pan in you want regular blondies).
2. Melt the butter in the microwave and let cool slightly. If desired, you could brown the butter to add another nutty flavor to the cookie. As you all know, I’m a huge fan of browned butter, but I decided to let the malt flavor sing.
3. Whisk the brown sugar with the butter until mixed. Add the egg and vanilla. Whisk until smooth.
4. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and milk powder and stir until combined. It will seem like there is not enough liquid in the mix to absorb all of the dry ingredients, but keep going! It will incorporate with some effort.
5. Add in the sprinkles and fold until combined. Into your prepared pan, press the dough flat to cover all of the surface area.
6. Cut the Toblerone pieces into a rough chop and sprinkle over the top of the tart. Press slightly on the bigger pieces to ensure it bakes into the tart.
7. Bake the tart for about 23-25 minutes or until the center is set. Let cool before cutting it into 8 pieces.
Butterscotch-y hot chocolate
Serves 2 generously
Adapted from A Beautiful Mess
1 ½ cups skim milk
½ cup heavy cream
4 ounces dark chocolate
¼ cup butterscotch (or caramel) sauce*
* I used sauce from Smitten Kitchen used previously
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt (or sea salt)
1. In a saucepan, heat 1 cup of milk with the dark chocolate and whisk until warm and chocolate is completely melted.
2. Add the remaining milk and ½ cup heavy cream and continue to heat and whisk until the liquid returns to a warm temperature.
3. Add the butterscotch sauce and continue to whisk. When smooth and hot, pour into mugs.
Never let the hot chocolate boil! It will scald.
Optional: add a caramel chocolate candy to the hot chocolate in your mug and let melt while you sip