Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Brown Sugar Streusel Baked French Toast


Great for Christmas morning breakfast! I prepared this the night before after being out for Christmas Eve dinner since I was baking all day and didn't have anymore time before we went out. It was really easy to prepare. It was also really nice to wake up Christmas morning, pop it in the oven and a half hour later have breakfast ready! (Along with eggs and bacon, of course.) I used french bread instead of regular white bread. I just thought it would taste better....and I'm sure it did!

Adapted from: www.BakingBites.com


INGREDIENTS
12 slices [white] bread (I used french bread)
2 cups milk
4 large eggs
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Streusel
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp all purpose flour
pinch salt
2 tbsp butter, melted

DIRECTIONS
Cut crusts off bread and cut each piece into triangles. (Or slice the french bread and leave on crusts like I did.) Arrange bread into three even layers (the exact number of slices will vary depending on the size of the bread you start out with) in a lightly greased 8-inch baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, brown sugar, salt, vanilla and cinnamon until smooth. Pour over bread. Press down to ensure all pieces are thoroughly soaked. (I still had some on top of the liquid, which I liked since those ones came out a bit crunchy.) Custard should just come to the top of the bread layer. It if covers it more deeply, add additional bread.In a small bowl, make the streusel. Stir together brown sugar, flour and salt. Pour in butter and stir with a form until mixture has the consistency of wet sand. Sprinkle evenly over bread and custard. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 350F and bake for about 30-35 minutes, until french toast is a golden brown on top. Let the dish stand for a few minutes. The dish will be very soft and souffle-like, but should not be too runny. The french toast will continue to set and soak up the custard as it cools. Slice and serve warm, with maple syrup.
Serves 6-8

Pumpkin Molasses Cookies


I thought these were pretty good - a mix between pumpkin and gingerbread and I even added a few white chocolate and butterscotch chips on the top for extra flavor. However, my husband and brother-in-law were not crazy about them. They said they were a bit dry. I'm posting the recipe anyway since I thought they were good! That's all that really matters, right? ;)


Adapted from: http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/

Yields 24 cookies


INGREDIENTS
2 1/3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp black pepper
8 Tbs butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup molasses
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1/2 cup sugar, for rolling



DIRECTIONS

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and pepper. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar, molasses, and pumpkin puree and beat for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the egg and beat for 1 minute more. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing until the flour and spices disappear. If flour remains in the bottom of the bowl, mix the last of the dry ingredients by hand to avoid over beating. You will have a very soft dough. Divide the dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Freeze for at least 30 minutes, or refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The dough is sticky, so the longer time it can chill the easier it is to work with. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Put the sugar in a small bowl. Working with one packet of dough at a time, divide it into 12 pieces, and roll each piece into a ball. Roll the balls in the sugar and use a the bottom of a glass to press down on the cookies until they are between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. Transfer to cookie sheets. Do not over crowd. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12-14 minutes, or until the top feels set to the touch. Remove baking sheets from the oven. Let cookies cool 5 minutes on the sheets before transferring them to a cooling rack. Repeat with second batch of dough.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cherry Almond Chews


These were really chewy and full of almond flavor - I'm a big fan! However, I'm not a huge fan of cherries (just the actual fruit, not all things cherry flavored). They looked nicer with it and very holiday-esque, so I had to keep them on top.



Adapted from: http://www.sugarduchess.com/ (Originally from The Taste of Home Baking Book)

INGREDIENTS

1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 cups flaked coconut
3/4 cup chopped almonds or pecans (optional)
1 jar maraschino cherries, drained and halved


DIRECTIONS
In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in extract. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in coconut and nuts. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto lightly greased baking sheets. Place a cherry half in the center of each. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-13 minutes or until barely browned on the edges. Immediately remove to wire racks to cool. Store in an air-tight container for up to 10 days, or in the freezer for six weeks.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies


While baking Christmas cookies, I was trying a few different and unique recipes, so I wanted one to be a classic. Chocolate Chip Cookies - you can't go wrong with that! I actually made half of the batch of these Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies and half of a batch of Alton Brown's "The Chewy". The Chewy was great before, however, I didn't use bread flour (which I have since picked up) so I wanted to try the recipe again. I did a taste test and I am partial to this new recipe! It's originally from Baking Illustrated.

Adapted from: http://www.annies-eats.com/ (originally from Baker's Illustrated)

INGREDIENTS
2 cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS


Adjust oven racks to upper and lower-middle positions. Preheat oven 325°. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside. With electric mixer, or by hand, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly combined. Beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat at low-speed just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Roll a scant half-cup of dough into a ball. Holding dough ball in fingertips of both hands, pull apart into two equal halves. Rotate halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, place formed dough onto cookie sheet, leaving ample room between each ball. Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy (approximately 11-14 minutes). Do not overbake.

Cool cookies on sheets until able to lift without breaking. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Banana Gingerbread



Holiday baking, gotta love it! It seems like I spent all weekend baking and still have more to do on Christmas Eve. I found this recipe for banana gingerbread, which seemed perfect for the season. I altered the recipe a bit since I didn't have whole wheat flour on hand and did not have the spice cardamom. There seems to be no substitution for it, so I did without it. I actually didn't get to try a slice of this bread since I'm putting this in a gift basket, but poured some batter in a couple of mini-muffin tins so that I could taste it. Pretty good! :)

Adapted from: http://www.bakingbites.com/

INGREDIENTS

1 cup whole wheat flour (I used 2 cups all purpose since I didn't have whole wheat flour)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cardamom (I didn't have this so I omitted)
pinch freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup banana, mashed (about 2 large)
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup buttermilk
4 tbsp vegetable oil


DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.In a medium bowl, whisk together brown sugar, banana, molasses, buttermilk and vegetable oil. Pour into dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired. Bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Makes 1 loaf, 8-10 slices.

Sausage and Cheese Cresent Squares

Another picture I stole from Pillsbury...:( Not only did I not get a picture of this appetizer, I didn't even eat them! I had a little taste as I was cutting them into squares to be served, but actually did not try one throughout the course of the night. I got rave reviews though! I do have to warn you, these look really gross as you're preparing the sausage and cream cheese mixture. I had second thoughts about serving these at a party as I was cooking up the mixture! However, they seemed to go over well! Next time I'll have to actually eat one. ;)

Adapted from: www.Pillsbury.com

INGREDIENTS
2 cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls or 2 cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury® Crescent Recipe Creations® refrigerated seamless dough sheet
1 lb spicy or mild bulk pork sausage
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (8 oz)
DIRECTIONS
Heat oven to 375°F. If using crescent rolls: Unroll 1 can of dough into 2 long rectangles. Place in ungreased 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish; press over bottom and 1/2 inch up sides to form crust. If using dough sheets: Unroll 1 can of dough. Place in ungreased 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish; press over bottom and 1/2 inch up sides to form crust. In 12-inch skillet, cook sausage over medium heat, stirring frequently, until no longer pink. Remove sausage from skillet; discard drippings. To same skillet, add cream cheese. Cook over low heat until melted. Add cooked sausage; stir to coat. Spoon evenly over crust in baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese.
If using crescent rolls: Unroll second can of dough on work surface. Press to form 13x9-inch rectangle; firmly press perforations to seal. Carefully place over cheese. If using dough sheets: Unroll second can of dough on work surface. Press to form 13x9-inch rectangle. Carefully place over cheese. Bake 21 to 26 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 15 minutes. Cut into small squares.

Gorgonzola-Artichoke Dip


No, I did not take this picture. I stole it from Pillsbury's website since I didn't get a chance to take one! I made this easy and delicious dip for my parent's annual Christmas party. Since everything was so hectic right before the party started, I didn't get a picture of this or the sausage cheese squares that I made. This picture looks better anyway. ;)

Adapted from: www.Pillsbury.com

INGREDIENTS

5 slices packaged precooked bacon
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, well drained, chopped
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (2 oz)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (2 oz)
2 teaspoons lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 8-inch quiche dish, or 8- or 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray. Chop 3 slices of the bacon; place in medium bowl. Reserve remaining bacon for garnish. To bacon in bowl, stir in remaining ingredients. Spread mixture in dish. Bake 10 minutes. Stir dip; bake 10 to 15 minutes longer or until dip is bubbly around edges. Chop reserved bacon; sprinkle on top of dip. Serve warm dip with petite toasts, assorted crackers or baguette slices.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

White Chocolate, Pear & Almond Cake


I had an extra pear and was flipping through a chocolate cookbook that I have and came across this recipe. Since I had all of my baking supplies out baking Christmas Cookies, I decided to try this cake to add to my Christmas baking. I get so used to looking up recipes online that sometimes I forget that I have several baking books to look through! This cake is really good, very tasty. :) I did alter the recipe a little since I didn't have ground almonds. I used 0.5 tsp of almond extract in place of 0.5 tsp of the 2tsp of vanilla that the recipe calls for. It does give it a strong almond taste, so if that's not what you're looking for either omit the almond extract all together or scale it down to 0.25 tsp. This was also really easy to make.

Adapted from: Chocolate Galore by Caroline Beaty

INGREDIENTS
1 ripe pear
1 3/4 sticks (14 tablespoons) sweet butter, slightly softened
3/4 cup superfine sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used 1.5 tsp & 0.5 tsp almond extract)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
5 1/2 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup blached almonds, roughly chopped (I omitted)
Confectioner's sugar, for dusting

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and baseline a 8 inch cake pan. Peel and core the pear and cut it into eights. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs and vanilla extract. Fold in the flour and baking powder, and finally the white chocolate and almonds. Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared plan and level the surface. Place the pears in a circle on top, pressing them down into the batter. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until risen and firm in the center. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing and cooling on wire rack. Dust with confectioner's sugar to serve.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake










This may take the cake (no pun intended!) for one of the best desserts I've ever made. If you're a chocoholic, this is the cheesecake you want to make. I used a lot of dark chocolate, where the recipe was pretty flexible in using dark, semi-sweet, bittersweet, etc. I'm a big fan of dark chocolate though. ;) I'm considering making a bar version of this for my parent's Christmas Party but already had another chocolate dessert in mind for that....decisions, decisions!




INGREDIENTS


CRUST

2 cups crushed cookies (I used Oreos with fillings removed)

2 Tbsp sugar

1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp melted butter

Oreos - about 8 for surrounding crust (taken apart and fillings removed)



FILLING

1/4 cup chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate chips)

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 cup sugar

3 bars of cream cheese (8 oz. each)

1/3 cup cocoa (I used dark chocolate cocoa by Hershey's)

1 tsp vanilla


TOPPING
1.5 cups chocolate chips (I used 3/4 cups dark chocolate chips & 3/4 cups semi-sweet chips)
1/4 cup heavy cream



DIRECTIONS


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.


To make the crust, place the Oreos around the outside of a springform pan (separated with fillings removed). Mix the 2 cups of cookie crumbs with sugar and butter and then press into the pan covering the bottom and up the sides. The original recipe called for more Oreos lining the top of the crust, but since the crust is crushed Oreos, I really didn't notice these extra cookies. I would omit this next time...and there will be a next time! Bake the crust for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. A tip from the original recipe that I found helpful - put the pan on a cookie sheet (I lined this with foil) so that if butter oozes it, it won't create a mess.


To make the filling, first melt 1/4 cup chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate chips). You can melt in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, or on low heat on the stove. Add 1/4 cup of room temperature heavy cream to the melted chips. Mix until combined. Set aside. Next, beat the 3 (8 oz.) of softened cream cheese for about 1 minute. Add one cup of sugar and mix until combined. Add 1/3 cup of baking cocoa and mix until combined. I used Hershey's Dark Chocolate baking cocoa and highly recommend it! I've been using it in all of my chocolate recipes recently and think it makes everything just a bit richer (and better)! Add the eggs, one at at time and beat until smooth. Add 1 tsp vanilla, mix, then add the cream/chocolate chips mixture and mix on low speed. Pour the filling into the baked crust and bake at 325 for about 55-60 minutes. The original recipe called for 45-50 minutes and I baked it for 50. It was a little underdone in the center, which is always better than overdone, but if you want a fully baked cheesecake I'd suggest about 55 minutes or so. Check on it to make sure it looks okay! After baking, let the cheesecake cool for about an hour.


To make the topping, melt 1.5 cups of chocolate chips. I used 3/4 cup of semi-sweet and 3/4 cups of dark chocolate chips. Mix with 1/4 cup of room temperature heavy cream. Pour over the top of the cheesecake and smooth it out. Put cheesecake in the fridge for about 4 hours or so (I had it in overnight).



















Peanut Butter Cookies


Since I was on Smitten Kitchen's blog for the pumpkin pie (and not sure how well it would turn out because of the thick crust!), I felt like I needed one more dessert at my Thanksgiving table. I haven't baked peanut butter cookies in a long time (at least before I started my blog), so I gave these ones a try. These cookies were extremely good! They stayed chewy for days afterwards and were gone by the time I thew out the remains of the other Thanksgiving desserts...with the exception of the Triple Chocolate Cheesecake, which is still in my fridge (and am pretty sure should be thrown out now). My husband insisted that I keep that there one more day...:)

Adapted from: http://www.smittenkitchen.com/

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter at room temperature (smooth is what I used)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup chocolate chips
For sprinkling: 1 tablespoon sugar, regular or superfine

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk and the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir in the peanut butter and chocolate chips. Place sprinkling sugar — the remaining tablespoon — on a plate. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls into the sugar, then onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between for expansion. Using a fork, lightly indent with a crisss-cross pattern (I used the back of a small offset spatula to keep it smooth on top), but do not overly flatten cookies. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake. Cookies may appear to be underdone, but they are not.
Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 minute, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Baked Brie

So easy and so good! I'm not too happy with the presentation, but I was having difficulty getting the foil out from under the brie, so I just transferred the foil onto the plate and haphazardly put the crackers around the brie. I'll have to work on that....especially since I'm making this again for my parents' Christmas Party this weekend!

Adapted from: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/

INGREDIENTS
1 large sheet of puff pastry dough or 1 tube of refrigerated crescent dinner rolls (I used crescent rolls)
1 round or wedge of Brie cheese (do not remove rind)
Raspberry Jam, or other sweet jam
Brown sugar
1/4 cup of maple syrup

DIRECTIONS
1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2 On a stick-free cookie sheet, lay out the puff pastry or the crescent rolls flat; put brie round or wedge on top.
2 Spread jam on brie, fold dough over top, cutting off excess dough. Drizzle maple syrup and place a handful of brown sugar on top.
3 Bake at 350º for 25-30 minutes, pastry should be golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with crackers and apple slices.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Silky Smooth Pumpkin Pie




My first pumpkin pie! I can't believe I never made one before. That's probably because I always want to make something "different", so I miss out on the basic pies and cakes. ;) The pie turned out well, however, I had some issues. I didn't roll my dough flat enough for the crust...since I don't have a rolling pin! What kind of baker am I?? Therefore, I used less filling and had to adjust the baking time. I actually liked the thick crust though. It could have turned out worse - as I reached for the nutmeg, I accidentally grabbed white pepper and realized it right before I dumped the 1/4 teaspoon into the pot....
INGREDIENTS
A half-recipe of your favorite pie crust, chilled (I used Smitten Kitchen's All-Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough)

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup drained candied yams from 15-ounce can (regular canned yams can be substituted)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (I used 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground because I didn't have fresh ginger)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon table salt
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Roll out dough on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to make 12-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang all around pie plate.
Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Using thumb and forefinger, flute edge of dough. Refrigerate dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes.
Remove pan from refrigerator, line crust with foil and fill with pie weights or pennies. Bake on rimmed baking sheet 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights, rotate plate. Bake 5 to 10 more minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp. Remove plate and baking sheet from oven.
Make the filling: While pie shell is baking, whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks and vanilla together in medium bowl. Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove pan from heat. Whisk in cream mixture slowly, until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Re-whisk mixture and transfer to warm pre-baked pie shell. Return pie plate with baking sheet to oven and bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees. Continue baking until edges are set (instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 degrees), 20 to 35 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. (The pie finishes cooking with resident heat; to ensure the filling sets, cool it at room temperature and not in the refrigerator.)

Chewy Triple Chocolate Cookies


I picked up a few bags of Nestle's dark chocolate mint chips for the holidays so was looking for the perfect chocolate cookie to add them to. I believe I found it! These cookies were very chewy and rich. I really liked the mint chips, though I'm sure any type of chip (peanut butter, white chocolate, semi-sweet...) would be great. I definitely need to make these again!

Adapted from: www.traceysculinaryadventures.blogspot.com (originally from Baker's Illustrated)


INGREDIENTS (yields 42 cookies)
2 cups (10 oz.) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz.) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed (10 1/2 oz.) light brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz.) granulated sugar
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (optional - I used dark chocolate mint chips)

DIRECTIONS
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl then set aside.
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water until completely melted and smooth; remove from the heat. (Alternatively, microwave the chocolate in 30 second intervals, mixing thoroughly in between, until melted and smooth.) In a small mixing bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla and instant coffee granules; stir well with a fork to dissolve; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 5 seconds. Mix in the sugars until well combined, about 45 seconds – the mixture will look granular. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually beat in the egg mixture until incorporated, about 45 seconds. Add the chocolate to the bowl in a steady stream and continue beating until combined, about 40 seconds. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixer at low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated, being careful not to overbeat. Fold in the chocolate chips (if using) with a rubber spatula. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until the consistency is scoopable and fudge-like, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets with a 1 3/4-inch cookie dough scoop, spacing the dough balls about 1 1/2 inches apart.
Bake until the edges of the cookies have just began to set but the centers are still very soft, about 10 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking. Cool the cookies on the sheets about 10 minutes, transfer to cooling racks and allow to cool completely.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Apple Blondies with Maple Glaze



These taste like fall! They are so good that I'm adding them to my Thanksgiving dessert menu. I'm making a pumpkin pie (for the first time, can you believe that?) and some sort of chocolate cheesecake, but I love to have some type of bar and/or cookie. These are perfect. They were pretty easy to make too, which will be nice since I will be prepping our house for 17 people on Thanksgiving!

Adapted from: http://www.ellysaysopa.com/

INGREDIENTS
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 medium apple, peeled and diced
2/3 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
milk or cream

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350 and grease an 8×8 pan.
Mix together the brown sugar and butter. Add the egg, vanilla and almond, whisking until just combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves. Add that to the butter mixture, folding with a spatula at the end so as not to overmix. Fold in apples and walnuts. Pour the mixture into the baking dish, and smooth the top. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until set in the middle.
To make the glaze, combine the confectioners sugar and maple syrup, and drizzle in milk until you get the consistency you want. Drizzle over slightly cooled blondies.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pumpkin Blondies

Perfect for fall baking! These Pumpkin Blondies were so good...I have to make them again (maybe for Thanksgiving or the Christmas Party?). I divided the batter in half and used butterscotch chips in one half and white chocolate chips in the other. My vote is for butterscotch, or a combination of the two. (1 cup of each mixed into the entire batter would be great!) The recipe also noted that you could use brown sugar or regular white sugar - I opted for brown sugar since white sugar tends to make recipes more crisp and I thought a blondie should be chewy. I'd be curious as to how they taste with regular white sugar though...maybe next time!

Adapted from: www.annies-eats.com

INGREDIENTS
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¼ cups brown sugar (original recipe calls for regular sugar)
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
½ cup chopped, toasted nuts (optional - I omitted)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with foil. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. Stir together and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla until well combined. Mix in the pumpkin puree. With the mixer on low speed add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Fold in the white chocolate and butterscotch chips (and nuts, if using) with a rubber spatula.
Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs, about 35-40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting.
To serve, lift the cake from the pan using the foil and transfer to a cutting board. Peel off the foil and using a sharp knife, cut into 24 squares.

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Brownies


Here we go! These were much better than my previous attempt at chocolate pumpkin brownies. I found two versions of this recipe - the original on Cara's Cravings blog and the second altered version at Beantown Baker's blog. I used the altered version since it made more pumpkin cheesecake batter, making it less of a "brownie". I'm sure they would be great either way though!

Adapted from: http://www.beantownbaker.com/

INGREDIENTS (makes 16 bars)

BROWNIE BASE
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder - I used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon

CHEESECAKE BATTER
6oz cream cheese, softened - I used 8oz
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar - I used 1/2 cup
2 tbsp flour - I used 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp
1/2 cup pumpkin puree - I used 2/3 cup
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract - I used 1/3 tsp
1/2 tsp cinnamon - I used 2/3 tsp
1/4 tsp each ground ginger and ground cloves - I used 1/3 tsp

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8x8" square metal baking pan. Beat together melted butter, sugar, and vanilla, then beat in eggs one at a time. Combine dry ingredients and then gradually stir into butter mixture with a wooden spoon. In separate bowl, beat together cheesecake batter ingredients. Spread about 2/3 of chocolate batter into prepared pan, and spoon cheesecake batter over. Dollop remaining brownie batter over cheesecake batter. Swirl the batters together by running a butter knife back and forth through the pan.Bake for 40 minutes, or until center is set. Cool completely on wire rack and chill before cutting and serving.

Pear & Cranberry Gingersnap Crisp


I was looking for a new fall recipe and this looked perfect! It was very good, however, I felt there was a flavor that was overpowering and I think it was the ground cloves. The recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon and if I make this again, I would reduce that to 1/4 teaspoon. This crisp was easy and quick to make and very suitable for getting into fall baking!

Adapted from: http://www.visionsofsugarplum.com/

INGREDIENTS
3 large pears, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground clove (I would reduce this to 1/4 next time)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1 cup coarsely chopped gingersnaps
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch cake pan with cooking spray.In a large bowl, stir together pear, orange juice, vanilla, cinnamon, clove, ginger and cranberries until combined; place into cake pan.In a medium bowl, stir together gingersnaps, oats, brown sugar, flour, walnuts and salt until well combined; knead in butter, using fingertips, until mixture starts to clump together. Evenly sprinkle over pears.Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Reduce heat to 350 and bake an additional 10-15 minutes (covering with foil if it browns too quickly), or until pears are tender. Cool on a wire rack.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Snickers Cupcakes



Yum!!! Snickers Cupcakes...I saw this recipe and had to make it. My only problem with it was the chocolate cake itself. I thought it was a little dry. I was surprised about this because the batter was amazing! However, filled with Snickers and topped with caramel icing I thought they were great! Maybe next time I would try a different chocolate cake recipe though. I hate to admit it, but I didn't make the caramel sauce...I used Smucker's Caramel Sauce. I know, I'm horrible. I was pressed for time and had an incident with making a caramel sauce in the past. We'll leave it at that. ;)

Adapted from: www.annies-eats.com
INGREDIENTS (yields 20 cupcakes)
CUPCAKES
½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa)
½ cup hot water
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. coarse salt
16 tbsp. unsalted butter
1½ cups sugar
2 large eggs plus
1 egg yolk1
¾ tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature

CARAMEL SAUCE
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
FILLING
24 fun-size Snickers bars, chopped (I used less...probably about 18)

FROSTING
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 lb. confectioners’ sugar
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup caramel sauce
Pinch of coarse salt
2 tbsp. heavy cream

For garnish: 8 fun-size Snickers bars, chopped

DIRECTIONS
To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line standard cupcake pans with paper liners. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water until smooth. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the butter and the sugar over medium heat. Heat, stirring occasionally to combine, until the butter is melted. Remove the mixture from the heat and transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-low speed, 4-5 minutes, until the mixture is cooled. Mix in the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed and beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture and beat until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed add in the dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, beating just until combined.
Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling them about ¾ of the way full. Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the caramel sauce, melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar begins to foam a bit. It will look and smell like it’s on the verge of burning. Remove from the heat and add the heavy cream. Stir until the sauce is smooth (you may need to return it to the heat to smooth it out), then mix in the vanilla and salt. Let cool. (This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.)
To fill the cupcakes, cut a cone out of the center of each cupcake with a paring knife.
To make the filling, combine the chopped Snickers bars in a bowl with 1/3-½ cup of the caramel sauce, and mix to coat.
Drop a spoonful of the filling mixture into each cupcake.

To make the frosting, add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed 1 minute until smooth. Blend in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Mix in the vanilla, caramel sauce and salt until incorporated. (Note: the caramel sauce should be just warm enough that it is workable, but not warm enough to melt the butter in the frosting...or room temperature if you're taking the Smucker's Caramel Sauce out of the fridge like I did!) Add the heavy cream and whip on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip. Drizzle the frosted cupcakes with additional caramel sauce and garnish with chopped Snickers bars.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Down Home Baked Beans



Yes, I took a stab at baked beans...and they turned out really well! This recipe was really easy and a great side dish when we had my family over for my dad's birthday. We had a lot left over as well. The recipe says it is 12 servings, but we had about 12 people over and had plenty for ourselves for the rest of the week!

Adapted from: www.allrecipes.com

INGREDIENTS
1 pound bacon
2 (28 ounce) cans baked beans
1 (12 ounce) bottle chili sauce (I used Tabasco's brand)
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 cups packed brown sugar

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.
In a large bowl combine beans, chili sauce, onion, brown sugar and bacon. Pour into a 9x13 inch casserole dish.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pumpkin Cupcakes


These were good, but they tasted more like muffins than cupcakes. I liked the cream cheese icing for these much better than the cream cheese icing I made for the Kahlua cupcakes. The consistency was much thicker! I was debating between these and cream cheese swirled pumpkin muffins and I kind of wished I had tried the muffins. However, these were tasty and kicked off the fall baking season!

Adapted from: www.joyofbaking.com

INGREDIENTS

CUPCAKES
1 3/4 cups (225 grams) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

DIRECTIONS

CUPCAKES
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in the center of the oven. Line 12 regular-sized muffin cups with paper liners or spray each cup with a non stick vegetable spray.
In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.
In another large bowl, whisk the eggs until lightly beaten. Add the sugar and melted butter and whisk until blended. Whisk or stir in the pumpkin, water, and vanilla extract.
Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir just until the ingredients are combined. (A few streaks of flour is fine.) Evenly divide the batter among the muffin cups, and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

FROSTING
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter and beat until incorporated and smooth. Add the vanilla extract and confectioners sugar and beat until fluffy (2-3 minutes). Pipe or spread the frosting on the cupcakes. Sprinkle with toasted and chopped nuts.

Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies


Ever since I made the chocolate chip pumpkin bread last year, I've been wanting to make something else with chocolate and pumpkin - it was such a great combination! However, I wasn't crazy about these brownies. They weren't chocolatey enough! They didn't taste bad but a bit of a cakey texture (I like my brownies fudgy!) and were a bit bland for my taste. My mom liked them though. I made half of a batch in an 8x8 pan since I was just testing out this recipe on a Saturday afternoon. I think I will continue my search for a good pumpkin brownie recipe!

Adapted from: http://www.foodandwine.com/

INGREDIENTS

PUMPKIN BATTER
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

CHOCOLATE BATTER
5 1/2 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/4 sticks (5 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 heaping cup large walnut pieces (about 4 ounces), optional

DIRECTIONS

PUMPKIN BATTER Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. In a small bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the sugar, scraping the bowl occasionally. Beat in the egg, then add the pumpkin puree, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger. Stir in the flour.

CHOCOLATE BATTER Combine the semisweet chocolate and butter in a medium bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan with 1 inch of simmering water and stir occasionally until melted. In a large bowl, combine the eggs with the sugar, vanilla and salt; set the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water and, using an electric mixer, beat at low speed until blended. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the mixture is warm to the touch. Remove from the heat and continue to beat until the mixture is think and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Using a large rubber spatula, fold in the melted chocolate. Sift the flour over the warm batter and fold it in just until combined. Fold in the walnut pieces.
Spread the chocolate batter evenly in the prepared pan. Using a tablespoon, drop dollops of the pumpkin batter all over the top. Using the back of a butter knife, swirl the pumpkin batter into the chocolate; don't overdo it or the swirl pattern will be lost. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the brownies cool completely before cutting.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cinnamon Swirl Bread



This bread was so good! I think it may have been because I used almond milk instead of regular milk. I've gotten in the habit of buying almond milk since I decided to try it a few months ago and it is so good! I also think I undercooked the bread since the timing provided was 40 - 50 minutes....it looked done after about 40 minutes so I took it out. It probably could've stayed in another 5, but I always prefer undercooked baking to overcooked. I also misjudged splitting up the batter when adding the swirl. I put much more than half of the batter in the pan before sprinkling it with the cinnamon sugar (see my picture!). Next time I'll measure it out. :)

Adapted from: http://www.bakeorbreak.com/

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted (I omitted)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1/3 cup cooking oil

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease/flour/spray the bottom and sides of a 9″x5″x3″ loaf pan.Combine 1/3 cup of sugar, pecans, and cinnamon. Set aside.
Combine 1 cup of sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat egg. Then, stir in milk and oil. Make a well in the flour mixture and add the egg mixture. Stir just until mixed. Do not overmix.
Pour half of the batter into loaf pan. Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon mixture. Repeat. With a wide rubber scraper or spatula, swirl mixtures together with a down and up circular motion.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until done. Cool in pan for about 10 minutes. Then, cool completely on a wire rack.

Cocoa Brownies with Peanut Butter Chips


Oh my God, these were intense! Not very sweet but VERY chocolatey - my kind of brownie! I used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa which may have had something to do with how rich they were. The original recipe noted that the baker used 1/2 regular cocoa powder and 1/2 Special Dark. I think these would also be great with a cream cheese swirl, which I may try sometime in the near future! In fact, fall is here and I've been looking to try a pumpkin cream cheese swirl brownie....I may have to keep this brownie base for that recipe!

Adapted from: http://www.erinsfoodfiles.com/

INGREDIENTS
1 1/4 sticks of unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup of white sugar
3/4 cup PLUS 2 tbsp of cocoa powder (I used all Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa)
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1 cup of peanut butter chips


DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and make sure rack is in the lower third of the oven. Coat an 8 inch baking pan with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper. In a large heat proof bowl, combine the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt. Set the bowl in a large skillet of water and simmer over medium low heat. Stir occasionally until the butter is melted and mixture is hot to the touch. The mixture will look slightly grainy. Remove from heat and cool until warm.
Add vanilla and stir with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time mixing thoroughly after each one. When the batter looks well blended, smooth and shiny, slowly add the flour and stir until it's combined thoroughly, then stir vigorously for 30 strokes. Stir in the peanut butter chips. Pour into the baking pan and place a few more peanut butter chips on top.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely then lift up ends of the parchment paper (if used) and transfer brownies to a cutting board where you cut into bite sized pieces.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Kahlua Cupcakes



Another Kulisek birthday, another booze cupcake! It was only appropriate for a 21st birthday. ;) My sister-in-law turned 21 and we celebrated on her birthday out in the city with my husband's band as the entertainment. It was lucky he was playing at a great place that night! I made these cupcakes that day - and they were amazing! I didn't want to do a buttercream icing like Annies-Eats' website called for, so I searched for a cream cheese icing recipe which I found at All Recipes. I added Kahlua to this recipe. The icing was a little watery and looked to be running off of the cupcakes, but that was fixed by keeping the cupcakes in the refrigerator. These were extremely rich and wonderful and definitely on my Must Make Again list!

CUPCAKES (makes 20 - 24)
Adapted from: www.annies-eats.com
INGREDIENTS
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp. instant espresso powder (I used a dark roast instant coffee)
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups sugar
1½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
2 large eggs
¾ cup warm water
¾ cup buttermilk
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the brushing: KAHULA LIQUEUR

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line standard cupcake pans with paper liners. In a large mixing bowl combine the cocoa powder, espresso powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt; whisk well to blend. Add the eggs, warm water, buttermilk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract to the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix on medium-high speed until smooth, 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake until the tops spring back when pressed lightly, about 18-20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Let cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Poke a few holes in the top of each cupcake with the tines of a fork and brush with Kahlua while still warm. Allow to cool completely.
KAHLUA CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
Adapted from: www.allrecipes.com (minus the Kahlua)
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-4 Tablespoons of Kahlua (to taste)
DIRECTIONS
In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Mix in Kahlua. I'm not exactly sure how much Kahlua I mixed in...I started with one tablespoon and keep adding a few more teaspoons until I thought the taste was right. I'm guessing about 4 tablespoons, but that could be altered depending on how strong you want the Kahlua flavor. Store in the refrigerator after use.

Tiramisu Cupcakes


Wow, it's been a while since I updated my blog! I apologize! ;) I actually only have this recipe and one other cupcake recipe that I have baked in the past couple of months...it's been a busy summer! That and turning the oven on in our house makes our downstairs feel like 100 degrees....I've been avoiding it as much as possible! These cupcakes I made for a "Beer Around the World" Party. Yes, I did bring beer too! My country was Italy, so I brought a case of Peroni and also baked these Tiramsu Cupcakes to go along with the Italian theme. The icing was the best part of this cupcake! It was outstanding. There was a lot of icing left over and I ended up eating spoonfuls before dumping out the rest. (Which is awful since it consisted of heavy cream, marscapone cheese and powdered sugar!) The cake itself was alright...it seemed a little stiff for my liking if that makes any sense. Next time I may go with a different plain cupcake recipe for that!

Adpated from: http://www.marthastewart.com/

CUPCAKE (makes 18)


INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup milk
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
3 large whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature
1 cup sugar

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Heat milk and vanilla-bean pod and seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat just until bubbles appear around the edge. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter until melted, and let stand 15 minutes. Strain milk mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, and discard vanilla-bean pod.
With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk together whole eggs, yolks, and sugar. Set mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water, and whisk by hand until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm, about 6 minutes. Remove bowl from heat. With an electric mixer on high speed, whisk until mixture is fluffy, pale yellow, and thick enough to hold a ribbon on the surface for several seconds when whisk is lifted.
Gently but thoroughly fold flour mixture into the egg mixture in three batches; stir 1/2 cup batter into the strained milk mixture to thicken, then fold milk mixture into the remaining batter until just combined.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until centers are completely set and edges are light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.
To finish, brush tops of cupcakes evenly with coffee-marsala syrup; repeat until all syrup has been used. Allow cupcakes to absorb liquid 30 minutes. Dollop frosting onto cupcakes; refrigerate up to overnight in airtight containers. Dust generously with cocoa powder just before serving.



COFFEE-MARSALA SYRUP

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly brewed very strong coffee (or espresso)
1 ounce marsala
1/4 cup sugar

DIRECTIONS

Stir together coffee, marsala, and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Let cool.



MARSCAPONE FROSTING

INGREDIENTS

1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

DIRECTIONS
With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk heavy cream until stiff peaks form (be careful not to overbeat, or cream will be grainy). In another bowl, whisk together mascarpone and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Gently fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture until completely incorporated. Use immediately.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

S'mores Cookies


So good and perfect for a summer barbecue! (And housewarming - don't worry Mike, you didn't get the leftovers!) I tasted one of these minutes after they came out of the oven and they were delicious. Definitely on my list of cookies to make again! Next time I will cut back on the semi-sweet chocolate chips, only because at the end of the bowl of dough it seemed like there were so many chips and they had to go to waste.

Adapted from: http://www.cookiemadness.net/

INGREDIENTS
6 oz unsalted butter, cool room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate (I think this was too much, 1 cup would've been fine)
1 cup miniature marshmallows
2 Hershey Bars, broken into pieces (or other favorite milk chocolate)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C). Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Cream butter and both sugars with an electric mixer; beat in egg and vanilla. Beat in salt and baking soda making sure they are well distributed and free of lumps; stir in the flour, followed by graham cracker crumbs. Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets, spacing about 3 inches apart. Bake for 9 minutes. Remove and quickly press marshmallows and chocolate into cookies. Return to oven and cook until done (about 3 minutes)
Makes about 3 dozen

Graham Cracker Chewy Bars


These were outstanding and so easy to make! I wasn't expecting much, but saw this simple recipe on a new blog I found and was looking for one more dessert to make for my sister's graduation party. I actually made these again a week later for a barbecue. I cut the recipe in half and made it in an 8x8 pan and cut the cooking time down to 17 minutes. When I first cut into the bars, I thought I severely undercooked them since the middle bars were very gooey. However, when I made them a second time I increased the time to 20 minutes and thought they tasted better undercooked. 17 minutes it is! (If I ever make the full recipe in a 13x9 pan, I'm not sure what it will be!)




INGREDIENTS
CRUST

3 cups graham cracker crumbs

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour
TOPPING

2 1/2 cups brown sugar

4 extra-large eggs (I just used large)

2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup pecans, chopped (I omitted)

Powdered sugar, if desired

DIRECTIONS
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar and flour until moist and well-blended. Press the mixture firmly and evenly over the bottom of a 13-inch by 9-inch baking pan. Bake until the crust is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.
While the crust is baking, in a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and eggs to blend. Whisk in the graham cracker crumbs, vanilla, salt and baking powder until well-blended. Stir in the pecans.
Spread the mixture over the baked crust and return to the 350-degree oven until the filling is dark-golden on top and jiggles slightly when tapped, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and cool completely.
Sprinkle a light coating of sifted powdered sugar over the pan if desired, and cut into 24 bars. The bars can be made 1 day in advance. Wrap in plastic and keep at room temperature.

Peanut Butter Blondies


I was slightly disappointed with these....only because I expected to be the best thing I ever tasted! They were good, don't get me wrong, but I think I was expecting a more chewy blondie than the cookie-type that it actually was. I also cut back on some of the pb cups and pb chips because I thought it looked like a lot! However, if I try these again I would add the full amount. Actually, if I try these again I may use the "Blondies - Infinitely Adaptable" from Smitten Kitchen with PB cups, chocolate chips and pb chips....they had the buttery blondie taste I was looking for!

Adapted from: http://cookiesonfriday.blogspot.com/

INGREDIENTS
2 cup flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups chopped peanut butter cups
1-1/2 cups peanut butter chips
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Additional peanut butter cups (about 20)

DIRECTIONS
Linea 9 x 13 inch pan with aluminum foil, allowing the foil to hang over the sides of the pan, and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Stir together the flours, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a sized mixer bowl, stir together the melted butter and peanut butter. Whisk in the brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Switching to a wooden spoon or a spatula, mix in the flour mixture. Stir in the chips and peanut butter cups. The dough will be thick and chunky. Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and spread it in evenly. Bake for 30-35 minutes; the bars are done when the dough is set and golden. Immediately after removing the bars from the oven, press as many peanut butter cups as you want into the surface of the blondies. Let the pan and bars cool completely on a cooling rack. Lift the cookies from the pan remove the foil and cut into bars.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Crack Pie

This pie was named for its addictive qualities. However, I'm wasn't really addicted, but for good reason. I had one piece of this and my heart was racing. It was a little much for me, but others thought this was one good butter pie. I cooked it according to the directions but it seemed a little too gooey. I also halved the recipe and only made one pie - thank God! I would've gone into Diabetic shock if had eaten any more.


Adapted from: www.Momofukufor2.com

MAKES 2 PIES

Oatmeal Cookie for Crust
INGREDIENTS
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
Scant 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
Scant 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup softened butter
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
Scant 1 cup rolled oats

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. Cream the butter, brown sugar and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Whisk the egg into the butter mixture until fully incorporated.
5. Stir in the flour mixture until fully combined. Stir in the oats.
6. Spread the mixture onto a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking sheet and bake until golden brown and set, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to the touch on a rack. Crumble the cooled cookie to use in the crust.

Crust
INGREDIENTS
Crumbled cookie for crust
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS
Combine the crumbled cookie, butter, brown sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until evenly combined and blended (a little of the mixture clumped between your fingers should hold together). Divide the crust between 2 (10-inch) pie tins. Press the crust into each shell to form a thin, even layer along the bottom and sides of the tins. Set the prepared crusts aside while you prepare the filling.

Filling
INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus a scant 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon milk powder
1 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup plus a scant 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 egg yolks
2 prepared crusts
Powdered sugar to garnish

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, salt and milk powder. Whisk in the melted butter, then whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla.
3. Gently whisk in the egg yolks, being careful not to add too much air.
4. Divide the filling evenly between the 2 prepared pie shells.
5. Bake the pies, one at a time, for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees and bake until the filling is slightly jiggly and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the pies and cool on a rack.6. Refrigerate the cooled pies until well chilled. Serve cold, and the filling will be gooey. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. (I served this room temperature.)

Pistachio White Chocolate Chunk Cookies


I think these turned out better than the blondies, for a pistachio/white chocolate combination anyway. Very sweet and addictive! I made about 1/4 of the recipe since this makes a lot of cookies. I really didn't want 4 dozen cookies lying around the house!

Adapted from: www.CooksRecipes.com

INGREDIENTS
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon each baking soda, baking powder and salt

1 cup rolled oats

1 1/2 cups natural California pistachios, coarsely chopped - divided use

1 (10-ounce) package white chocolate chunk-sized chips* (I used white chips.)

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

2. Cream butter and sugars together.

3. Beat in eggs, milk and vanilla.

4. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

5. Process oats in blender or food processor, leaving some texture. (I did not process the oats since I was being lazy.)

6. Gradually add flour mixture and chopped oats to butter mixture, mixing well. Stir in 1 cup pistachios and white chocolate chips.

7. Drop mixture by heaping teaspoons onto greased baking sheets, allowing for spreading. Press remaining pistachios on top of cookie dough.

8. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool slightly on sheet to set up.
Makes 3 to 4 dozen.
* A 12-ounce package of small white chocolate or semi-sweet chips may be substituted for white chocolate chunks.

Blondies, infinitely adaptable


I wanted to make something with pistachios, since my sister likes them and her graduation party is coming up. Since I like to test out recipes before serving them, I tried this blondie recipe with about 3/4 cup of white chocolate chips and crushed pistachios (I couldn't tell you how much...maybe 1/4 cup?) as well as a pistachio cookie recipe. The cookie recipe won out in this instance....I think this blondie recipe would be awesome with chocolate and peanut butter, and maybe some crushed peanut butter cups. These were very good and buttery, but I think the cookie was sweeter and also has oatmeal in it, so it gave more texture. I will be trying out this blondie recipe again with different mix-ins!

Adapted from: www.SmittenKitchen.com

INGREDIENTS
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Pinch salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS
Butter an 8×8 pan. Mix melted butter with brown sugar – beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla. Add salt, stir in flour. Mix in any additions (below). Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350°F 20-25 minutes, or until set in the middle. Cool on rack before cutting them.

Further additions, use one or a combination of:
1/2 to 1 cup chopped nuts, toasting them first for even better flavor
1/2 to 1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon mint extract in addition to or in place of the vanilla
1/2 cup mashed bananas
1/4 cup bourbon, scotch or other whiskey; increase the flour by one tablespoon
2 tablespoons of espresso powder with the vanilla
Stir 1/2 cup dried fruit, especially dried cherries, into the prepared batter
Top with a vanilla butter cream or chocolate peanut butter cream frosting

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Chocolate Whiskey & Beer Cupcakes







What could be more appropriate for a Kulisek birthday than cupcakes made with whiskey and Guinness? Okay, okay...if I had actually had the Bailey's for the frosting then it would've been perfect! They didn't have the shooters of Bailey's at the liquor store so I opted to make the frosting without it and added some caramel ice cream topping instead - still delicious! My decoration looks a little sad, but I attribute that to the heat in our house! It melted my frosting. :( The cupcakes themselves were very rich and you couldn't taste (or I couldn't taste) the alcohol in them at all. Not even the Glenlivet 18 that I had to use (a half of a teaspoon, that's all!) for the filling. Mike appreciates it, I'm sure. ;)


Adapted from: www.smittenkitchen.com


Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes


INGREDIENTS
GUINNESS CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES
1 cup stout (such as Guinness)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)

2 cups all purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2/3 cup sour cream



GANACHE FILLING

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate

2/3 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (optional)

BAILEY'S FROSTING

3 to 4 cups confections sugar

1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperate

3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)

DIRECTIONS

Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.
Make the filling: Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains. 20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will also work.) Add the butter and whiskey (if you’re using it) and stir until combined.
Fill the cupcakes: Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Meanwhile, using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. A slim spoon or grapefruit knife will help you get the center out. Those are your “tasters”. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.
Make the frosting: Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys (or milk) and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar.
Ice and decorate the cupcakes.
Do ahead: You can bake the cupcakes a week or two in advance and store them, well wrapped, in the freezer. You can also fill them before you freeze them. They also keep filled — or filled and frosted — in the fridge for a day. (Longer, they will start to get stale.)



Oatmeal Scotchies


Ah...an oldie but goodie! I made these butterscotch oatmeal cookies as a backup for the Chipster Brownies that I wasn't happy with. I was bringing the brownies to a party and hate serving something I'm not satisfied with! (However, I ended up bringing the brownies AND cookies because I didn't want them sitting in my house...it's bikini season.) I started making these cookies a few years ago and they always go over well. Plus, they're so easy to make! I must have whipped these up in about 10 minutes. I was debating about making the "Pan Cookie Variation" since I haven't done that yet, but figured that if I was making these as my backup dessert, I didn't want to mess up anything else! I know the regular cookie version is fantastic. :)

Adapted from: http://www.verybestbaking.com/

INGREDIENTS
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or grated peel of 1 orange
3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
1 2/3 cups (11-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Butterscotch Flavored Morsels (I only used about 1 - 1.25 cups...it's a lot of butterscotch!)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375° F. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats and morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes for chewy cookies or 9 to 10 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

PAN COOKIE VARIATION: Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until light brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Chipster Topped Brownies



I hate to say this, but I was disappointed with these. I know, how could you go wrong with brownies and chocolate chip cookies combined?! However, I didn't stick to this original recipe posted below. I used my brownie recipe from "Peppermint Cookies n Cream Brownies" (omitting the oreos) from http://www.bakingbites.com/ because it's hard to find a good brownie recipe and that one is my favorite. Then I used the cookie recipe posted below. The baking times were different - the brownies called for 35 minutes and the entire recipe below noted 50-55 minutes. I kept checking on the brownies, but for some odd reason the brownies were undercooked after 40 minutes and the cookie part was overcooked! Also, the chocolate chips settled to the bottom of the cookie base. Maybe I'll try again with the exact recipe below? Or, try the other "recipe" I saw on another blog with boxed brownies and a package of cookie dough?! Sounds so easy, but almost like cheating!

Adapted from: http://www.culinaryconcoctionsbypeabody.com/

INGREDIENTS

BROWNIE LAYER
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 2/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup walnuts


COOKIE LAYER
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks of butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, either chips or chunks

DIRECTIONS
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9×13 inch pan, line it with wax or parchment paper and butter the paper (I used aluminum foil). Put the pan on a baking sheet.

To Make the Brownie Batter: Put both chocolates and the butter in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stirring occasionally, heat just until the ingredients are melted, shiny and smooth. If the mixture gets too hot, the butter will separate from the chocolate. Remove the bowl from the heat. Working with a stand mixer, preferable fitted with a paddle attachment, or working with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, until pale, thick and creamy. Beat in the salt and vanilla extract. Reduce speed to low and mix in the melted chocolate and butter, mixing only until incorporated. Scraped down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then, still on low speed, add the flour, mixing only until it disappear into the batter. Using a spatula, fold in the walnuts, and scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Set aside.

To Make the Cookie Dough: Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Working with the stand mixer in the cleaned bowl or with the hand mixer in another large bowl, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. One at a time, add the egg and the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the dough. Still on low, mix in the chocolate. Drop the cookie dough by spoonfuls over the brownie batter and, using a spatula and a light touch, spread evenly over the batter. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the cookie top is deep golden brown and firm and thin knife inserted into the brownie layer comes out with only faint streaks of moist chocolate. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temperature.When the brownies are completely cool, carefully run a knife between the sides of the pan and the brownies, then invert them onto another rack, remove the paper and turn right side up onto a cutting board. Cut into bars about 2 inches X 1 inch.