Starting with something sweet

March 03, 1996|By Cathy Thomas | Cathy Thomas,ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Addicted to a morning stop at your favorite coffeehouse? Before the commute? Before the long list of errands? Before everything?

It's more than a perfect cuppa joe. Coffeehouses are friendly, familiar places. They're like a neighborhood bar without the booze, bursting with camaraderie.

And there's something more -- mouth-watering morning goodies. They're better than Grandma's and usually with a lot less fat. Here are some recipes for homemade bakery treats from California coffeehouse owners.

Almost fat-free bran muffins

Makes 10 to 12 muffins

5 cups bran flakes

3 cups whole-wheat flour

4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups raisins

1 cup slivered almonds

1 cup chopped walnuts

minced peel (zest), colored part only, of 2 oranges

4 eggs

2/3 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup molasses

1 cup honey

2 cups banana puree, see cook's notes

2 teaspoons vinegar

1 cup buttermilk

Preliminaries: Heat oven to 300 degrees. Line muffin pans with paper liners. To make banana puree, place sliced bananas in food processor fitted with the metal blade, or whirl in small batches in the blender.

Procedure: In a large bowl, combine bran flakes, flour, soda, salt, raisins, almonds, walnuts and orange zest.

In a separate bowl, combine eggs, oil, molasses, honey, banana puree, vinegar and buttermilk.

Add egg mixture to dry mixture; stir just enough to blend. Pour into prepared liners, filling about 2/3 full with batter.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in 300-degree oven.

(From Cafe Zinc and Market in Laguna Beach)

Chocolate espresso cookies

Yield: 24 to 30 cookies

1 pound plus 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

5 large eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup brewed espresso, cool, see cook's notes

scant 3/4 cup cake flour

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 pound semisweet mini-chocolate chips

garnish: powdered sugar

Cook's notes: Your local coffeehouse can provide you with brewed espresso. Cool it completely before using in recipe.

Parchment paper is sold at craft shops, cookware shops, cake decorating-candy making shops and a few supermarkets.

Preliminaries: Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Fifteen minutes before baking, heat oven to 400 degrees.

Procedure: Place bittersweet chocolate and butter over barely simmering water in top of a double boiler. Stir occasionally to redistribute ingredients. You don't want the chocolate mixture to be very hot, just enough to melt it. When smooth, remove from heat and from bottom portion of double boiler. Cool completely.

When chocolate and espresso are cool, combine eggs and sugar in large bowl of electric mixer. Beat on high until pale and thick (about 3 times the original volume).

In a separate bowl, stir flour, salt and baking powder to combine.

Fold espresso and chocolate-butter mixture into egg mixture. Add dry ingredient mixture and chocolate chips; fold to blend. Let dough set up overnight at room temperature.

Scoop a scant 1/4 cup of batter, 4 inches apart, on parchment-lined baking sheets. You'll probably get just 6 cookies per baking sheet. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

Cool and dust with powdered sugar.

(From Haute Cakes in Newport Beach)

Cranberry nut quick bread

Makes 2 large loaves

5 cups and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 3/4 teaspoons salt

3 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup milk

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) melted butter or margarine

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 pound frozen or fresh cranberries; see cook's notes

Cook's notes: If using fresh cranberries, blanch and drain.

Preliminaries: Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 2 large loaf pans with butter or margarine (or use nonstick spray).

Procedure: Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir to blend. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, sugar and milk. Stir dry mixture into egg mixture. Add nuts and berries; mix just enough to combine. Pour into loaf pans.

Bake in the middle of 375-degree oven until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes.

(From Caffe Teresa in Fountain Valley)

Fat-free blueberry muffins

Makes about 30 muffins

5 1/4 cups regular rolled oats

1 1/2 cups oat bran

2 1/8 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 1/4 cups unsweetened applesauce, chunky preferred

1 1/2 cups honey

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups nonfat milk

9 egg whites

2 1/2 cups frozen (thawed) or fresh blueberries

L Cook's notes: If desired, you can divide the recipe in half.

Preliminaries: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin pan with paper liners.

Procedure: In a large bowl, combine oats, oat bran, baking soda and cinnamon; stir to blend.

In a separate bowl, combine applesauce, honey, vanilla extract and milk; stir to blend. Stir applesauce mixture into dry ingredients. Mix until barely blended. Gently mix in egg whites and blueberries.

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