Friday, January 23, 2015

Brown Butter, Rum, Cinnamon Whiskey, Banana Bread

Brown Butter, Rum, Cinnamon Whiskey, Banana Bread with the Boozy Glaze

The past few weeks have been insanely busy for a break (from school). I’ve had the house to myself for much of it, so I’ve been working on household projects (one of which is my magnetic spice jars; look for the post in the near future), cleaning, and doing some cooking and baking as I could (including some homemade infused spirits). I meant to post several blog posts these past few weeks, but something always seemed to come up. Now that I no longer have the house to myself, and am about to start my spring semester, I should be able to get back on track and post more frequently. Expect a post dump over the next few days, and I will try not to disappear for this long again if I can help it.

I don’t know about you, but I have a bit of a love – hate relationship with banana bread. I enjoy it, but the overwhelming flavor of bananas (especially overly ripe bananas) becomes tiring quickly. Banana bread, though, is a quick way to get rid of overly ripe bananas, so I continue to make it when the opportunity arises. I cycle through banana bread recipes, and, until now, had not found my “go to” recipe for banana bread.

A little after Christmas I found myself with 5 extremely ripe bananas and in search of a new recipe. I was browsing Pinterest when I came across a recipe by 365 Days of Baking. I was intrigued when I saw that she used rum and brown butter in her recipe, and I decided to Up the Ante and doctor it up a bit. I used some spiced rum, as well as some Fireball whiskey in my version. Despite doubling the original recipe’s amount of alcohol, the bread did not turn out soggy, and was still quite moist (On my second batch I added a bit more alcohol and only had to tighten the batter up with a sprinkle of flour and sugar). This recipe is pretty forgiving, so feel free to tweak it to your taste.

I will admit that the batter for this banana bread, to me, is more addictive than cookie dough (I’ll blame the cinnamon for that *wink*). I was lucky that no one was home when I made this bread or else they would have thought I was strange by sitting in the living room with the bowl and scrapper, while the bread was baking, acting like a kid enjoying the bit of leftover batter and watching a show on Netflix. I’ve already made this bread twice, and will probably be making it again this weekend. (Yes, the batter is that addictive, and the bread is that yummy.)

The bread tastes best after resting in plastic wrap overnight. The flavors come together, and the cinnamon really starts to shine then. If you want to spice things up further, drizzle some of the boozy glaze on top for added sweetness and kick.
I hope you enjoy the banana bread as much as the people in my life and I did. Do you have a “go to” bread recipe of some type, or do you find yourself cycling through new recipes like I do? Let me know in the comments.

Brown Butter, Rum, Cinnamon Whiskey, Banana Bread
 Makes 1 Loaf

  • 5 mashed bananas (~1 ½ cups)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  •  ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup spiced rum
  • 1/3 cup Fireball whiskey


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spray a 9 X 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray or grease it with butter.
  3. In a large bowl, mash bananas (if you haven’t already), and mix in the eggs.
  4. Add the sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon, combining everything together thoroughly, and then set aside for the moment. (Don’t worry if it seems a bit thick and/or lumpy, the butter/alcohol mixture will help once added.)
  5. In a pan over medium heat, melt the butter.
  6. Continue to cook on low-medium heat while stirring constantly.
  7. Remove from heat and add the rum and whiskey when you see golden bits (to slightly amber bits) of butter in the bottom of the pan (approximately 5-7 minutes).
    (*I added the alcohol once the butter melted in the first batch, cooking them together, and it was not as clear when the mixture was done. You can keep the mixture on low and constantly stir it once the alcohol has been added for 30 seconds to a minute to burn off the alcohol if you’d like. You will know that the alcohol has burned off when you see the mixture foam. The mixture will continue to cook slightly once removed, so you don't want it to become too dark while it’s still on the stove. If it seems to be cooking too fast, lower the heat.)
  8. Add the butter / rum /whiskey mixture to the batter and thoroughly incorporate.
  9. Bake for 55 - 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
    (*If the bread begins to darken too much, cover the loaf with some tin foil in the last 15 minutes of baking.)
  10. Remove the loaf from the oven and place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes or so.
  11. Remove the bread from pan and allow it to cool completely on the rack.
  12. Once cooled, wrap the loaf in plastic wrap and rest overnight (for the best flavor).
  13. And enjoy!

Boozy Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-1 ½ Tbsp. spiced rum
  • 1-1 ½ Tbsp. Fireball whiskey

  1. Mix alcohol with powdered sugar until it reaches desired consistency. 
  2. Drizzle over the banana bread as desired.
  3. Store glaze in an air tight container (may need to be mixed before next use).

Please remember to share the recipe and Pin It for later. The official Upping the Ante Facebook page often has more behind-the-scenes posts. Like and follow the Upping the the Ante Official Facebook page.

~Sarah aka Twisted

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Stuffed Peppermint Oreo Truffles

Stuffed Peppermint Oreo Truffles

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!

I don't know about you, but this Christmas snuck up on me a bit. Being an early December baby, I refuse to let the Christmas season begin (for me) before my birthday, but for some reason things had been off since Thanksgiving.

Maybe I didn't get into the holiday spirit timely this year because I never actually celebrated my birthday this year, or maybe I was focused on other things instead. Whatever the reason, even though tonight is Christmas Eve, I am only now just feeling somewhat in the Christmas spirit.

I had a moment of holiday prep last night when I decided to make some stuffed peppermint Oreo truffles. We all have seen the quick, few ingredient Oreo truffle recipes that have been floating around the internet. I even was able to try one when a coworker brought some into work a couple months ago. Something was missing though, so I wanted my version to Up the Ante several ways than that original 3 ingredient recipe.

Right away when I tried the original recipe truffle I felt something was missing. What is the best part of an Oreo cookie? The middle part, right? That's one of the things I wanted to incorporate into my recipe: a Stuffed Oreo truffle.

That being said, I also wanted to give a nod to the holiday season, even if I wasn't quite feeling it yet, so I decided to add some peppermint to the mix. There are a few peppermint Oreo truffle recipes out there, but none that are stuffed to my knowledge.

The process was fairly simple, although a little time consuming at times between removing the middles from the Oreos and individually coating each truffle in tempered chocolate, but overall wasn't too painful. Heck, I'll be doing another batch or two between now and Friday night.

(Perhaps some might say it was strictly melted, but the coating is still holding quite well on the couple remaining truffles sitting in my kitchen, does not melt right away when handled by hand, and looks professional according to several individuals who tried them. If I am an incorrect and the chocolate does not appear to be tempered, I apologize and would love to hear any tips you might have to improve my technique).

I prepped the the truffles last night, separating the cookies from their middle filling, crushing the cookies, and adding the cream cheese to the crumbs. I also combined the peppermint extract with the filling, and formed the truffles.

This morning I melted the chocolate in a small slow cooker while I worked, and coated the truffles when I had the chance after the chocolate had melted.

The people who came into work today enjoyed them, as did the few friends and family who were able to sample some from this batch.

I put a couple pictures of the finished product up on the official Upping the Ante Facebook page earlier today, and I already have a couple requests to make them again. I will update this post once I finish those attempts since I will be trying a few tricks that should make the below process a little more efficient.

I hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as I do.

Stuffed Peppermint Oreo Truffles

Makes 34-40 truffles
  • 1 package of regular Oreos (or 3 sleeves if bought in bulk)
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese
  • A few drops to 1/8 tsp. (or to taste) peppermint extract
  • 1/2 bag (or 5 oz.) of Andes Creme de Menthe Baking Pieces
  • 1 chocolate mint candy cane, crushed in to various size pieces
  1. Remove the filling from the Oreo cookies, setting it aside for later in a separate container.
  2. Crush Oreo cookies into a fine crumb. (I used a coffee grinder this time, but would suggest a food processor or a heavy duty blender such as a Vitamix.)
  3. Once the cookies have been ground into fine crumbs, combine with the cream cheese. (I put half in at a time.)
  4. Once combined, set aside while you combine the Oreo filling, which was separated earlier, with the peppermint extract. (I used a few drops for a mild peppermint taste.)
  5. Form Oreo dough into 1" balls, making a well with your finger in the middle of each ball. (My first batch made 38 truffles when using 3 sleeves of Oreos, but your results may vary.)
  6. Insert a pea sized amount of the filling into the ball.
  7. Pinch closed the ball over the filling (don't worry if some of the filling leaks out), and roll the ball between your hands to smooth the ball out.
  8. Put the Oreo truffles on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet as you work.
  9. Once all the truffles have been formed, place the entire cookie sheet in the freezer for 20 minutes or so.
  10. In the meantime, put the Andes baking pieces into a small slow cooker, no bigger than 1.5 quart on low until you start to see the pieces melt. Note: if you have any leftover filling like I did, feel free to mix it with the baking pieces in the slow cooker. It won't hurt it. (I melted enough for at least 2 batches of truffles in my 1.5 quart slow cooker.)
  11. Stir chocolate pieces as needed, and turn to "Keep Warm" within 5-10 minutes of putting the chocolate in the slow cooker, continuing to stir as needed until chocolate is completely melted.
  12. If you have not already done so, crush the candy cane into various size pieces.
  13. Once the truffles are cold to the touch and somewhat stiff, remove tray and set on work area, placing the truffles in a pile, or container (feel free to reuse one of the earlier containers). Keep the parchment paper covered baking pan handy for a staging area when you transfer chocolate covered truffles.
  14. With a fork or other dipping device, dip each truffle in the melted chocolate resting in the slow cooker.
  15. Roll the fork slowly to remove excess chocolate.
  16. Gently place truffle on parchment lined baking pan, covering up any imperfections with a touch of warm, melted chocolate.
  17. Quickly sprinkle a few pieces of the crushed candy cane on top of each truffle. (The chocolate sets pretty quickly.)
  18. Once truffles have set, enjoy! (If you have a halo of chocolate at the bottom of your truffles, you can break off the excess and add it back to the chocolate in the slow cooker. If any accidents occur, just cover with the melted chocolate to even things out.)
Please remember to share the recipe and Pin It for later.

Happy Holidays!

~Sarah aka Twisted

Monday, December 22, 2014

Don't Mind Me... ^_^

Hi there, and welcome to my blog, Upping the Ante! I'm Sarah, although some people call me Twisted. I'm just trying my hand at this whole blogging craze that has become so popular, which has finally swept me along with it. Soon I will have my layout tweaked and personalized to suit my desires and will be able to start in on my blog's normal content.

A little bit about me: I work full time, and am currently going to school full time for a BA in Psychology and English. I hope to go to graduate school for Psychology as soon as I can after I finish my Bachelor's degree. I am a creative being who enjoys reading, cooking, baking, mixology, writing, and sketching. I dabble in photography and painting when the mood strikes me, but am more likely to pick up a pencil and paper than a high end camera.

I hope to make Upping the Ante into something people turn to when they want a fresh idea or twist for tried recipes and projects. Everything on Upping the Ante will be tried and true before it is published, and will reference any original work I might have tweaked or used as inspiration. I believe in giving credit where it is due, and hope that my work would be treated with the same respect.

I am still coming up with a schedule for new posts, but it will vary depending on real life matters.

I am always open to ideas for projects or recipes to up the ante. Feel free to share any ideas you might have and I will give you a shout out in the post if I decide to go with your idea.

Happy reading, and I look forward to adding some creativity to the humdrum.

~Sarah aka Twisted