Blondies

July 29, 2008

It’s going to be 90 degrees today where I live so why am I still baking you ask. Maybe the heat has gone to my head or maybe it’s because I saw these blondies on Loves To Eat last week and just had to make them. Whatever the reason, these were great! Very quick to make, too. I’ll be saving this recipe when I want a great bar dessert other than brownies.

Makes 36

1 cup pecans or walnuts (4 ounces)-I omitted these.
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon table salt 
12 tablespoons unsalted butter ( 1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
2 large eggs , lightly beaten
4 teaspoons vanilla extract 
6 ounces white chocolate chips (1 cup) or chopped bar, or 3 ounces each white chocolate and semisweet chocolate chips

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread nuts on large rimmed baking sheet and bake until deep golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer nuts to cutting board to cool; chop coarsely and set aside.

2. While nuts toast, cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and fit into width of baking pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet (if using extra-wide foil, fold second sheet lengthwise to 12-inch width). Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.

3. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside.

4. Whisk melted butter and brown sugar together in medium bowl until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Using rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture until just combined; do not overmix. Fold in chocolate and nuts and turn batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with rubber spatula.

5. Bake until top is shiny, cracked, and light golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes; do not overbake. Cool on wire rack to room temperature. Remove bars from pan by lifting foil overhang and transfer to cutting board. Cut into 2-inch squares

Source: Cook’s Illustrated

Do you ever have high hopes when making a new recipe only to find that the cooking gods are out to get you? That was the case with this recipe. I was very excited to try this recipe because strawberry ice cream is my absolute favorite. I had great success with my first ice cream recipe and wouldn’t you know it was a flavor that I don’t even eat! I prepped my strawberries just like the recipe said, had my milk, cream and sugar all mixed together and then I pulled my ice cream maker out of the freezer.That’s when all the trouble began.

I attached it to my Kitchen Aid mixer just like I had the day before and turned it on, prepared to pour in the cream mixture. As I slowly started pouring I noticed that my mixer was making a funny noise. And then the part that rotates the dasher in the ice cream maker sort of came off! Now anyone that has made ice cream knows that once you pour your ingredients in, time is not on your side. They start to freeze almost immediately. I struggled to get the attachments back together but by that time the inside of the ice cream maker was too frozen over with cream to get it going again. At this point I was beyond irritated. I poured the cream mixture back into my mixing bowl and stuck that and the strawberries in the fridge. I thought maybe I could try again today once my ice cream maker re-froze. My husband inspected my mixer and noticed that the pin was coming out which most likely lead to the ice cream maker malfunction. Luckily he was able to fix it.

Well I got up this morning, very optimistic that I was going to make some delicious strawberry ice cream and everything went great to begin with. It looked like strawberry ice cream, but when it came time to taste it, the strawberries tasted weird. I think it’s because I let them sit over night in the sugar and lemon juice. The ice cream part tasted good so it was unfortunate that the strawberries weren’t good. I will try this recipe again and hopefully I will get better results. I’m sure in this case it was the circumstances and not the recipe.

Strawberry Ice Cream

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh ripe strawberries, stemmed and sliced

3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup sugar, divided

1 cup whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Combine the strawberries with the lemon juice and 1/3 cup of sugar; stir gently and allow the strawberries to macerate in the juices for 2 hours.

In another bowl, use a hand mixer to combine the milk and granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream, the vanilla and any accumulated juices from the strawberries.

Turn on your ice cream maker and pour the mixture into the frozen bowl. Let mix until thickened, about 25-30 minutes. Add the sliced strawberries during the last 5 minutes of freezing. Ice cream will be soft at this point. For a firmer ice cream, transfer to an airtight container and store in freezer until it has reached your desired consistency.

Source: Annie’s Eats (Adapted from Sweet and Savory Eats)

Go ahead. Call me crazy, but I just don’t like chocolate ice cream. I have on occasion eaten some Rocky Road or Triple Brownie, but as far as plain old chocolate ice cream. You can have it. Give me strawberry or vanilla any day. But my husband–he loves it. It’s his favorite ice cream and he could probably eat it by the buckets. Since he got me the Kitchen Aid ice cream attachment for my birthday, I figured I’d break it in by making him some of his favorite ice cream. I have actually never made homemade ice cream so I was looking for a super simple, idiot proof recipe for my first time. I came across this recipe online and figured I couldn’t screw it up too much. My husband upon finding out that I was making chocolate ice cream instantly wanted to taste test it for me, but I told him he had to wait for it to freeze first. Well, first thing this morning he dug right in with a spoon. And the results? “It tastes like chocolate ice cream!” So according to my husband, the chocolate ice cream connoisseur, this is a good recipe. I’m just happy that is was so easy and that it turned out! Now to make myself some strawberry.

Chocolate Ice Cream

(I doubled the following amounts)

Ingredients:
5 tablespoons of cocoa
1 can (large) condensed milk
1/2 pint (250ml) milk

Mix together the milk and condensed milk. Dissolve the cocoa in a little hot water. When fully dissolved stir it into the milk/condensed milk mixture.

Transfer mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

(20-30 min in the KA ice cream maker)

Source: icecreamrecipes.com

The Search is Over

July 4, 2008

I think I’ve found it! The PERFECT chocolate chip cookie. I have tried several other recipes but this one takes the cake, or cookie rather. I came across this recipe on Sugar & Spice  and they just looked too perfect not to try. I was asked to bring a dessert for the 4th of July cookout we were having at work so I decided I’d give them a go. Now, I’m known as the resident baker where I work so I was a little nervous about how these would turn out. I have to keep up my good reputation and all you know. Thankfully, they were beyond perfect. One of my co-workers even stated, “they are big, perfectly round, soft and chewy cookies! Like you would get from a bakery.” That, along with the fact that everyone’s hand was in my cookie basket as soon as I walked in the door with them equals a baking success. If you are still in search for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe, try these. I think you will be very happy with the results!

Oh, and sorry about the lack of a picture. I was so tired last night after baking and cleaning my house for my 4th of July get-together that I didn’t have time to take a pic. And now they are all gone so there will be no pic in this post. : P But take a look at Michelle’s post. They looked just like that!

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Source: Baking Illustrated, page 434)

Makes about 18 large cookies.

These oversized cookies are chewy and thick, like many of the chocolate chip cookies sold in gourmet shops and cookie stores. They rely on melted butter and an extra egg yolk to keep their texture soft. These cookies are best served warm from the oven but will retain their texture even when cooled. To ensure the proper texture, cool the cookies on the baking sheet. Oversized baking sheets allow you to get all the dough into the oven at one time. If you’re using smaller baking sheets, put fewer cookies on each sheet and bake them in batches.

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

3. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chips to taste.

4. Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough’s uneven surface. Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.

5. Bake until the cookies are light golden grown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a side metal spatula.

*Copied from Sugar & Spice

I love it when a plan comes together. I think someone from the A-Team said that originally, but for the purpose of this post, this statement works for me too. : ) I have been wanting to make a “for real” cheesecake with my new spring form pan for a while now. And by for real I mean, homemade crust, homemade filling and baked in a spring form pan type of cheesecake. The ones I’ve made before were made with a pre-made crust so they weren’t truly homemade in my mind. I had the perfect excuse to make my “for real” cheesecake this weekend. Some friends of ours asked us to come over to help them with some projects in their new house and in exchange they were grilling out for us for dinner. I offered to bring a dessert, not because I wanted to be nice, but because I was secretly yearning to bake this cheesecake and I needed a reason to justify making it. (just kidding of course) Somehow I was stuck on making a peanut butter cheesecake but as usual, I had no recipe in mind. I googled peanut butter cheesecake and found a few recipes that were okay, but sounded more complicated than what I was wanting to do for my first for real cheesecake. So I decided to use a recipe I have used before but make my own crust and just add in what I wanted. I was nervous about how it would turn out since I’m pretty novice when it comes to cheesecakes, but thankfully it all worked out! It was very rich but very good. Definitely a keeper.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cheesecake

3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (I used chocolate graham crackers)
1 tablespoon white sugar
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese

1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, graham cracker crumbs and 1 tablespoon sugar. Press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.

3. In a large bowl, cream the 3/4 cup of sugar and cream cheese together until smooth. Stir in peanut butter until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Pour into the spring form pan.

4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 minutes. Let cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

(I baked mine in a water bath to prevent cracking)

Another one on the list

April 29, 2008

Please excuse my cell phone photo. A friend of ours is borrowing our camera so I was forced to be resourceful and use my cell phone to take pictures tonight. But these cookies were just too good not to be posted. I came across this recipe on Loves to Eat a couple weeks ago and instantly knew I wanted to try them. You can check out her photo to see how good these cookies really look. I’m normally not really big on butterscotch flavored desserts, but I do love it in oatmeal scotchies. And these definitely didn’t disappoint. In fact I think I’m adding these to my list of favorite cookie recipes. They are perfectly chewy which is always a good cookie in my book.

Oatmeal Scotchies with Chocolate Chips

Ingredients:

1 and 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. gr. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

3/4 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

3 cups quick or old fashioned oats

1 bag butterscotch chips (I used 1/2 bag)

1 bag chocolate chips semi-sweet (I used 1/2 bag)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 375

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixer bow. Gradually beat in flour mixture, Sire in oats and chips. Drop a rounded, full tbsp. onto an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake for 7 to 8 minutes for chewy cookies. Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes. Remove and cool on wire racks. Serve with a cold glass of milk!

Cheesecake is one of my very favorite desserts. I like just about every kind under the sun. So when I saw these cheesecake bars on Joelen’s Tasty Tools Round Up, I knew I wanted to try them. These turned out absolutely amazing. Very light and creamy. It’s a really surprising combination of flavors with the buttery graham cracker crust, lemony filling, and sweet and fruity topping. Thanks to Stephanie for posting these yummy cheesecake bars!

Piña Colada Cheesecake Bars

Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbs coconut flour or all-purpose flour
2 Tbs turbinado sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 Tbs butter, melted
1 Tbs canola oil
1 Tbs water
Cooking spray

Filling:
1 cup 2% low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup (2 oz) block-style fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 Tbs grated lemon rind
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs pineapple juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Dash of salt
3/4 cup egg substitute (I used 3 eggs. 1 egg=1/4 cup egg substitute)

Remaining Ingredients:
1 cup chopped free pineapple
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees
2. To prepare crust, combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl. Add butter, oil, and water; toss well. Press mixture onto the bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
3. To prepare filling, place cottage cheese and next 7 ingredients in a food processor, and process until smooth. Add egg substitute, and process until blended. Spread cheese mixture over cooled crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 33 minutes or until set. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Refrigerate 2 hours or until thoroughly chilled. Top with pineapple and coconut.
4. Cut into 16 bars (or slices) and enjoy!

Easy as pie

April 11, 2008

This has got to be one of the easiest desserts ever. I got it from a co-worker at least 5-6 years ago and always make it when I’m in need of a quick but tasty dessert. I’m not the biggest fan of really tart lemon pie so this one is perfect for me. Everyone always loves it and asks for the recipe. They are always surprised to hear how simple it is. I made this Wednesday night to have for dessert last night while my in-laws were over.

The Easiest Lemon Pie Ever (that’s my name for it) : )

1 graham cracker pie shell

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup lemon juice

16 oz whipped topping, divided

Combine 8 oz whipped topping, condensed milk, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Pour the mixture into the pie shell. Refrigerate for 30 minutes and then top with remaining whipped topping(I skipped this part since I only have 8 oz whipped topping). Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Blackberry Cobbler

April 4, 2008

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Cobbler is pretty high up on my list of favorite desserts. I’ll take any kind really. Peach, blueberry. It’s all good. That being said, the only kind I’ve ever really made myself is peach. But as I was looking through my local grocery store’s ad last week, I noticed that blackberries were on sale. Normally I don’t buy too many berries because they are generally expensive and I just can’t see spending $5 on just about a cup of berries. When I saw they were on sale, I immediately thought about blackberry cobbler. I wasn’t sure what recipe to use so I turned to Williams-Sonoma because their recipes have never steered me wrong. This turned out great! Just a little bit tart from the berries which was easily balanced out by some whipped cream. Some vanilla ice cream would also be wonderful with this.

Blackberry Cobbler

Ingredients:

For the filling:

6 cups blackberries or a mix of seasonal berries

1/3 cup sugar

1 Tbs. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest

Pinch of salt

For the topping:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

1 egg

1/2 cup buttermilk

6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and
cooled

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish.

To make the filling, in a bowl, gently toss the berries with the sugar, flour, lemon zest and salt until blended. Pour into the prepared baking dish.

To make the topping, in a bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, butter and vanilla until well blended. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and, using a rubber spatula, fold gently until the flour is moistened and the mixture forms a soft dough.

Drop heaping spoonfuls of the dough onto the fruit, spacing them evenly; the dough will not completely cover the fruit. Bake until the filling is bubbling, the topping is browned and a toothpick inserted into the topping comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 8 to 10.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Dessert, by Abigail Johnson Dodge (Simon & Schuster, 2002 ).

An apple a day…

March 31, 2008

If you’re starting to think that this is now just a baking blog, you might be right. It seems like that’s all I’ve been doing lately! Believe it or not, I have actually eaten real food lately but mostly salads and things I’ve blogged about before. So for now at least, you’ll have to deal with my baking posts until the cooking fairy visits me again. And this one folks is a good one! I had some puff pastry in the freezer from who knows when and it kept being pushed to the back of the freezer, lost under frozen vegetables and ice cream. Well it surfaced the other day while I was rearranging the contents of my freezer, and immediately my mind started thinking of uses for it. I finally settled on apple turnovers. You may not know this about me, but I love apples. My favorite is Gala both for the color and the taste, and I eat one almost every day. I mean what’s not to love about apples? Juicy, sweet, crisp. Mmmm And they’re even better baked into desserts. So I knew the combination of the tender, sweet apples would be perfect wrapped up in the flakey, buttery puff pastry. I basically just came up with this little recipe on my own and they turned out amazing! My husband and I both licked our plates clean. And that’s always a very good sign.

Apple Turnovers

2 medium apples (or 1 large), peeled and diced (I used Gala but Granny Smith would be great)

1/8 cup granulated sugar

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 Tbsp flour

4-6 pats butter (just a thin slice)

2-3 Tbsp prepared cinnamon sugar (I just eye ball it and mix granulated sugar and cinnamon together. You could also buy cinnamon sugar in the spice aisle)

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (12×9 sheet)

1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a baking sheet and set aside. Carefully unfold the sheet of puff pastry on a clean, lightly floured surface. Cut into 4-6 even squares (depending on how large you want them). In a bowl, combine apple, sugar, cinnamon and flour. Spoon the mixture onto the center of each puff pastry square leaving a small border around the filling. Place 1 pat of butter on top of the filling in each pastry. Brush the edges around the filling with the beaten egg. Next, fold into triangles or rectangles, whichever you prefer. Using a fork, press the edges together to seal. Make 2 slits in the top of each pastry. Brush the top with the egg and sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 20 min, until the pastry puffs and is golden brown. Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving.

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