Girl Versus Dough

nutella babka

nutella babka on cooling rack

Or, alternately titled, “That One Time I Used an Entire Jar of Nutella in a Bread Recipe.” Oh yes. (And oh no, says bikini season, but that’s not for a while, right? Right.)

Call me a crazy, but I rarely buy Nutella. It’s not because I don’t like the way it tastes — it’s that I do. And when I know there is a jar of it lurking in my pantry, I can’t stop thinking about it. Suddenly, I’m in the kitchen, in front of said pantry. And just as suddenly after that, I’m spoon-and-or-fist-deep in the jar, like Winnie the Pooh with his honey. Only much less cute.

So what I’m saying is, I just HAD to put the entire jar of Nutella into the bread recipe, lest I devour the rest of it in an obscenely short amount of time. Instead, it is now safely tucked inside swirl upon swirl in a streusel-topped Nutella babka… which, come to think of it, only makes it less safe. Um, yes. Did not think through the logic on that one too well.

crackled easter eggs

crackled easter eggs

I am super pumped to the max (what? forget I said that) to share these pretty lil’ eggs with you all, but first things first: A humongous, gigantimous group hug for all of the wonderful women who threw me a surprise virtual baby shower yesterday. Pretty sure I was grinning like a goofus all day long, overwhelmed by and grateful for all of the love for my baby girl. And the treats! My lans. I’ve posted all of the links at the bottom of this post so once we’re done talking about crackled Easter eggs, you can get your fill of those yums.

OK OK, but these eggs, you guys! Can we just take a moment for some oohing and aahing and egg gazing? Thank you for indulging me (and for sticking around if I haven’t scared you off with the phrase “egg gazing”).

I wouldn’t call myself a crafty person by any means. I mean, I try to do up my house like it could be on Pinterest or Design*Sponge, but in reality yours truly just doesn’t have the time/energy/cha-ching for that. So apologies to those who come visit my house but that poorly spray-painted side table and that picture frame from IKEA I tried to paint Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” on that really just looks like a bunch of random swirly-dos and that janky mobile I made for my future daughter’s nursery will have to do. But HEY — I made crackled Easter eggs and look how fancy they are. And they’re edible, too. I like to think that makes up for/distracts from everything else.

Lest you think these eggs are too complicated to make yourself, let us rewind to the previous paragraph about how I am not so crafty, and I yet I could do this. YOU can do this. So let’s do this together!

caramelized spring onion + fennel pizza with beer crust #pizzaweek

caramelized spring onion fennel pizza

I’m officially less than four weeks out from my due date, you guys. It’s getting real. Really real. And the reaction to this impending reality of ours — that is, the oh-my-gosh-we-are-going-to-have-an-infant-we-need-to-keep-alive-soon reality — has manifested itself in very different ways.

My husband, for example, has taken to doing crazy things like organizing the basement and cleaning out the car. If you know my husband, you know this is so far out of character (to explain, in college he had a constant pile of junk next to his bed dubbed “Mount Elliott,” a tradition he has maintained since college). I am obviously taking as much advantage as possible of this boost of cleanliness and orderliness from him, but the craziest part of it all is I don’t even have to ask him to do these things. He is choosing to do them on his own — in fact, I didn’t even come up with the idea to clean out the cars. He’s a new man. I am blissfully (read: ignorantly) hoping this change sticks.

As for me? I’ve been busy inventing new ways to pick things up off the floor (because it’s kind of impossible to bend down when you have a watermelon for a belly) and cooking/baking up a storm. This yummy caramelized spring onion and fennel pizza on a homemade beer crust was my most recent accomplishment — well, that, and picking up a pair of socks off the floor using my big toe.

tex mex baked blooming onion

baked blooming onion on plate

I participated in my first March Madness bracket this year. I’m so unaware of what I’m doing I’m not even sure if the sentence I just typed means anything.

But basically, my small group decided to (lovingly, brotheringly, as we do) compete against each other this year. And so, I signed up for a bracket, clicked a bunch of buttons with college names on them and sent it in. Currently, I am in 8th place out of 10 (not surprising). But Elliott is in 9th. VICTORY FOR STEPH.

And again, if it’s any indication of how little I know about what goes on with this March Madness business, I just had to ask the husband when it is over. Apparently, the championship is this Monday. Which is why this recipe for a baked blooming onion comes at the perfect time.

vanilla almond chai latte

vanilla almond chai latte in glass mug

Welcome to vanilla-almondy, cinnamon-sugary, spiced chai latte bliss. If you’re anything like me, my friends and probably about two-thirds of the U.S. population, you have a slight addiction to coffee beverages from coffee shops. But it’s so yummy, says you. It’s like a daily treat, you justify. And by you I mean me. And then I look into my wallet and realize said treats are making my bank account weep, and not with happy tears.

So I’ve been trying to cut back on the number of trips I make to the drive-thru down the street (yes, I have a Caribou Coffee JUST DOWN THE STREET. It’s torture, you guys. #firstworldproblems) (also, all of these trips currently are for half-caff/decaf beverages, in case you worry I’m being insensitive to my fetus) and instead, make some tasty beverages from the home. Once I stumbled upon the recipe for this homemade latte and took a sip, I felt like I needed a microphone. So I could drop it.

How to Substitute Liquid Sweeteners for Sugar

Substituting liquid ingredients like honey, maple syrup or agave nectar for granulated sugar in a recipe can be uber confusing, I know. But I’m going to do my best to explain just how to do it (because it is possible)!

So, for every 1 cup of granulated sugar called for in a recipe, you will need to use 2/3 cup of honey, maple syrup or agave nectar to replace it.

But that’s not all.

You will also need to reduce the total amount of the dominant liquid ingredient called for in the recipe by about 2 tablespoons for every 1/2 cup of honey, maple syrup or agave nectar you use.

For example, if you are replacing 1 cup of granulated sugar in a quick bread recipe with 2/3 cup maple syrup and the recipe calls for 1 cup of milk and 3/4 cup sour cream, you will need to remove 1 tablespoon of milk from the recipe (because milk is the dominant liquid ingredient). If it calls for 2 cups of granulated sugar, you will use 1 1/3 cups of maple syrup and therefore need to remove 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) milk from the recipe (because you are now using at least 1 cup of maple syrup).

If the recipe calls for 1/2 cup granulated sugar, you will use 1/3 cup of maple syrup and therefore not need to remove any liquid (because you have not reached the 1/2 cup minimum of maple syrup).

In case that is still really confusing, here is a more visual example of a recipe converted to accommodate maple syrup:

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1 cup granulated sugar 2/3 cup maple syrup 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 egg 1 1/2 cups buttermilk 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted 2 tablespoons mini semisweet chocolate chips

You may also want to reduce the baking temperature by 25°F when using liquid sweeteners, as they contain a higher sugar content and therefore cause the baked goods to brown faster.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, keep in mind that this is not a foolproof equation and that you do run the risk of baked goods not turning out as well as they would with the original ingredients. But that’s the fun of experimenting, right? Ahem.

Now go forth and substitute sugar like a boss.