Scotcharoos

28 12 2009

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a local nestie GTG to meet up with some gals that I “talk” to on the forums. There was so much food to be had there, and I made sure to try a little bit of everything. One of the nesties brought these little bars, and WOW are these bars just amazing! She insisted that they were super easy to make, and boy, were they! I made a batch of these to include in the family holiday tins, and of course, snuck a few bars for me as well. :)

Scotcharoos
Source: MrsSpell of the Baton Rouge Nestie Boards

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1c. light corn syrup
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 c. peanut butter
  • 6 c. rice krispies cereal
  • 1 – 12 oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 – 12 oz package butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. In a large pot cook sugar, corn syrup, and butter over med heat. Stir until completely dissolved and mixture comes to a low boil.
  2. Remove from heat and add peanut butter. Stir until melted together. Add cereal and stir until coated.
  3. Spread mixture evenly into a greased 9 x 13 pan and pat down using slightly wet hands.
  4. Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips with the oil together in the microwave approx. 2 minutes stopping to stir every 30 seconds. Pour over the top of cereal treats and allow to cool for min. of one hour. Cut into squares and enjoy!




World Peace Cookies

10 11 2009

worldpeacecookies

In addition to the snickerdoodle biscotti, I decided to make a couple of recipes from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours for my Operation Baking Gals package this month. I looked for recipes that seemed like they would keep a couple of days, and I found this one: World Peace Cookies.

I know Tuesdays with Dorie did this a while back, and the cookies looked delicious, so I decided to give this a try. I mean, what soldier wouldn’t like chocolate??

I was also glad to use this recipe as an excuse to dig into my box of salty goodness that I received from Marx Foods a while ago. They sent me a sampler of specialty sea salts for free, so I figured this recipe would be perfect to add a little coffee flavor to. Instead of the salt suggested in the recipe, I used this gorgeous espresso salt!

Thanks again, Marx Foods! I can’t wait to play with the other salts too!

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I did try a couple of cookies, and I have to say that this is a fantastic recipe! I’m sure the soldiers I sent these to will truly enjoy them!

World Peace Cookies
Source: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (used 1/4 tsp. espresso salt)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Using a mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together in another bowl.
  2. Turn off the mixer. Pour in the flour, drape a kitchen towel over the mixer to avoid flying flour and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. If there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough — for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don’t be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix using a spatula only until it’s incorporated.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking — just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)
  4. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or silicone mats.
  5. Working with a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them.
  6. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes — they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.




Halloween M&M Biscotti

8 10 2009

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Here is part 2 of the bake-palooza. I decided to make biscotti for my Operation Baking Gals package, since biscotti is a pretty sturdy cookie. I knew it would hold up well for shipping!

A few months back, when I was actively blogging for Weddingbee, I saw a fellow blogger use this recipe for making possible edible favors. I starred it, but as usual, I forget about my starred recipes. I’m obviously making it a goal of mine to look back and make these recipes!

So, I decided to give this recipe a shot. It’s a little different than my normal go-to biscotti recipe, which uses olive oil instead of butter. However, this came out beautifully. I added crushed Halloween M&M’s to make it more seasonal instead of the chocolate chips that were called for.

Chocolate Halloween M&M Biscotti
Source: Epicurious, via Weddingbee blogger, Mrs. Bruschetta

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (subbed 8 oz. crushed M&Ms)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate baking chips (omitted)

Directions:

  1. Line large baking sheet with double thickness of foil. Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl to blend. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then vanilla. Beat in flour mixture. Stir in semisweet and white chips (or M&Ms).
  2. Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheet in two 10- to 11-inch-long strips, spacing 3 inches apart. Using metal spatula or wet fingertips, shape strips into 11- by 2 1/2-inch logs. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake logs until tops are cracked and dry and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes; cool 10 minutes.
  4. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F. Using foil as aid, lift logs onto work surface. Line baking sheets with clean foil. Using serrated knife, gently cut warm logs crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange half of slices, cut side down, on each prepared baking sheet. Bake biscotti until just dry to touch, about 8 minutes. Turn biscotti over. Bake until top is dry to touch, about 8 minutes. Cool on sheets.




Oatmeal Raisinet Cookies

8 09 2009

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I love Oatmeal Raisin cookies. It’s one of those things that makes me feel like I’m eating a healthy cookie, but I’m sure with all the butter, it’s not so healthy after all. I saw this recipe on Picky Palate’s blog, and I had to immediately star it in my Google Reader. I LOVE that Raisinets combines the idea of Oatmeal Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Raisin cookies. These were another cookie that I brought over for labor day and they were definitely enjoyed! This is such a yummy cookie, and I will definitely be making these again.

Oatmeal Raisinet Cookies
Source: Picky Palate

Ingredients

  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 1/2 Cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 Cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1 1/2 Cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Cup quick oats
  • (2) 3.5 oz boxes Raisinets

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place butter and sugars into a stand or electric mixer; beat until light and fluffy. With mixer on medium add egg and vanilla until well combined.
  2. Place flour, soda, salt and oats into a large bowl. Slowly add to wet ingredients until just combined. Add raisinets; stir to combine, being careful not to crush the raisinets.
  3. With a medium cookie scoop, scoop dough onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake for 9-10 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.




Conquered THE CHEWY!

7 08 2009

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One of my favorite Food Network shows is Good Eats. I’m a science geek, and I love how Alton goes into the science and details of why things cook/bake up the way they do. I especially love baking, so when I saw the episode when Alton made the different varieties of the ever so popular Chocolate Chip cookies, I knew I had to try one. I love chewy cookies the most, so naturally, that’s what I went with!

Unfortunately, the first time I made these, something went terribly wrong. The Chewy baked up SUPER flat and greasy. I’m not one to give up, so I decided to try again. This time, being very careful and mindful about each step. (I’m usually not so cautious with cookies!) This time, they baked up super well and I sampled 1 2 of them. They get a thumbs up from me!

The Chewy
Source: Alton Brown

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

Pour the melted butter in the mixer’s work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough (I chilled for 2 hours), then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets with a #20 sized scoop, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 14 minutes (mine took 12 minutes) or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.





Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 07 2009

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This is one of the no-fail recipes that I like to refer back to for Chocolate Chip Cookies. I tried making Alton Brown’s The Chewy before, but something went TERRIBLY wrong with it and they all turned out flat. (Alton, don’t worry, I will try your recipe again.)

So, when my nephew showed his mad swimming skills last weekend, I promised him his favorite cookie. Without hesitation, he said CHOCOLATE! So, I made these cookies for him and they were a hit!

I posted about these cookies before, so definitely give this recipe a shot next time you are in the mood for some yummy CCC’s!

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Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake

19 06 2009

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While it may not be the prettiest icing job, (I tried to make it swirly and messy to look like dirt) I have to admit this will be one tasty cake for my sister-in-law. Today is her birthday, and I told her I wanted to make her a cake. I know she likes chocolate, so I got the holy grail of chocolate cake recipes to food bloggers everywhere: Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake.

I will admit, when they say the batter will be thin, it will be thin as a drink! You will think you botched the recipe and did something wrong. However, as weird as this is, the cake comes out completely perfect and from the tops I shaved off, it tastes incredibly rich, moist and amazing!

These are a few royal icing flowers that I made for the cake. I learned these in course 2 of the Wilton Cake Decorating classes. From top to bottom: apple blossoms, primrose, pansies and daffodils.

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My skills are VERY rusty (it’s been a year since I’ve made these) but I think I did an OK job.

Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake
Source: Hershey’s Kitchens

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Directions:
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost cake. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

There are many variations to this recipe if you don’t have 2 – 9″ pans. I ended up doing the 3 – 8″ pans variation below:
Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

For the frosting, I used two batches of Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Frosting. This was the perfect amount with a little leftover to use on the shaved cake tops to eventually make cake balls!

Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Frosting
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
  • 2/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.





Cupcake Pops

21 04 2009

I made cupcake pops for my shower hostesses this past weekend. They came out awesome! Check out how I did it here!





Foodie Christmas Presents!!

12 01 2009

This Christmas, I decided to give a bunch of homemade presents. For some family members, I gave spice baskets with homemade vanilla  extract and sugar. I found very reasonably priced bottles (that you didn’t have to buy in bulk or pay a buttload for shipping, since they were glass) at American Spice Company. I used mason jars for the vanilla sugar. I bought label sheets at Office Depot and designed the labels for them myself. Check them out!

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I also made some homemade peppermint bark to put in the baskets.

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Then, I bought Penzey’s Northwood seasonings and BBQ 3000 to put in the baskets as well. They were very well received!! :)

As for the coworkers, I baked sugar cookies using the recipe from Cookie Craft. I’d LOVE to post the recipe, but due to recent copyright issues I’m reading about in blogs, I’d rather not risk it. I would say this is a definite read for anyone who is interested in learning to decorate cookies! I adapted it to add almond extract, in addition to the vanilla extract and lemon rind called for in the recipe. It gave the cookies more of a sugar cookie flavor and less of a butter cookie flavor. This was the first homemade sugar cookie recipe that my fiance loved too! I FINALLY ended the search for the perfect recipe! :)

This recipe barely spread, allowing the cookies to keep their great crisp shape. It also rolled VERY easily. I never had a sticking problem, which is something I experienced with some previous recipes.

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Left is not cooked, right is cooked for comparison of them holding shape.

I also made candy bark coated pretzels with Christmas M&Ms on top. These were a SUPER easy recipe. Just melt candy melts or bark, spoon into the middle of the store bought pretzels and top with 3 M&M’s.
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Last, but not least, I made the infamous Oreo Truffles. To make more, I used 1/2 tsp. as a measuring tool for how big the truffles should be. These made a more decent sized truffle, and I made about 80 with the recipe this time.

Then, I put each treat in holiday cellophane bags, as pictured.

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These went in cute little holiday take-out boxes that I found at Michael’s. I absolutely love how these all came out! I’m definitely doing this again for them next year. Probably with different treats, though.
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Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 12 2008

I’ve read a lot of great reviews about this recipe for Chocolate Chip cookies. The only reason I made these (since they are SO not diet friendly) is because our over-generous neighbors were landscaping at the same time as my fiance and I. They gave us ALL of their leftover top soil (which was more than what we needed.we didn’t even have to open any bags that we purchased at Lowe’s). So, my fiance suggested that I bake them something. Any excuse to bake works for me! AND it felt good not to use applesauce haha!

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Brown Eyed Baker from Baking Illustrated

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 (I used milk 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.

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It took a lot of willpower to avoid eating this dough as is.

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Here’s my best effort to make sure the jagged edges stayed jagged. AND, here’s the Silpat debut!! The Silpat totally rocks way more than regular silicone baking sheets I’ve used before!!

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Here they are out of the oven. Yum!

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Finally, these babies are cooled and ready for a taste tester! Sorry, couldn’t help it!!

I will admit, these are some crazy procedures on this recipe (jagged edges on top, what?). However, follow them to the T! The cookies will come out a little gooey, but if you leave them on the baking sheet, they will finish baking into a perfect cookie! The jagged edges do bake into a neat looking top as well.

By the way, since this recipe used a yolk, there was a white left. So, I got bored, and I tried to make a meringue while a batch was baking up. I’ve never done it before! Super cool!! :)

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