Friday, February 29, 2008

White Chocolate Chip & Peanut Butter Cookies

I spared you all. I really did. Last night I decided to bake something sweet, because I hadn't baked anything since last Thursday night (a long drought for me) and more than anything, I wanted chocolate chip cookies. It's a phase , apparently. I'm blaming Anna at Cookie Madness for re-sparking my interest with her multiple Chocolate Chip Experiments this week.

But, instead of the standard chocolate chip recipe, I pulled out the 500 Cookies cookbook and tried a recipe I had bookmarked in it. Originally the recipe was for Orange and White Chocolate Chip Cookies. Which, sounds good to me most of the time. But I wanted something richer, something less dainty than orange and white chocolate. So, I opted for the variation recipe of substituting peanut butter for orange zest.

The combination of white chocolate and peanut butter is something that has intrigued me recently. So, I was excited to try these cookies. I did notice that this cookie was listed in the "tea-time" section and I briefly thought... that's not just nice cookbooky talk for "dry and tasteless" is it? But, I decided to try it out anyway.

I'm a cookie dough girl. Anytime I make cookies (or brownies), I eat about 3-4 cookies worth of raw cookie dough. I love the stuff. Usually, by the time the cookies actually come out of the oven, I'm already sick of them from nibbling on the dough. So, I had my doubts about these cookies when when I tasted the dough. It was bland and not very buttery.

The first batch, I used white chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. But they turned out too bland, so I threw some semi-sweet chocolate chips in the last batch. The semi-sweet chocolate helped a little, but still these cookies were pretty boring and definitely dry. I tried spicing them up a bit by melting some hershey kisses and icing some of the cookies with that. But, I found myself just licking the chocolate off the top of the cookies, instead of eating the cookies.

Oh well, at least I only made a half batch. But be forewarned... more chocolate chip cookie recipes are on the horizon.


We had some snow this week!! Check it out!!!

Monday, February 25, 2008

S'mores Bars

So, I’ve been eyeing this recipe for awhile now. I saw it a long time ago on Anna's Blog and I printed the recipe awaiting the perfect time to whip these up.

Unfortunately, it took about 6 months for the perfect time to roll around. I made them Thursday night to take to the Bachelorette Weekend honoring my friend Leigh. Who doesn’t love s’mores?

A funny story about this recipe from this weekend... Everyone who knows me… knows about my blogs. But, most of the girls that were at the bachelorette weekend, I either didn’t know at all, or just barely knew. So, on Saturday night, when I passed my camera over to a couple of the girls so they could review the pics from the weekend, I didn’t even think about the 40+ pictures of the s’mores bars that I had taken Friday morning that were still on my camera. That is until I noticed them surfing through the pics and then looking at each other funny, giggling and whispering to each other.

Crap, I thought. Now, they are going to think I have some weird food fetish or something. So, I tried to yell over the loud music at the bar… “I HAVE A BAKING BLOG, THOSE PICTURES ARE FOR MY BLOG, I’M NOT INTO FOOD PORNOGRAPHY.” Which, I think probably made me sound even weirder.

Whatever. They were excellent and the perfect pot luck crowd pleaser. They will definitely be made again.

Here’s the recipe . I doubled it to make a 9x13 inch pan.

I do have one suggestion. Line your baking dish with parchment paper or quick release foil, so that you can remove the bars by the parchment paper or foil and then cut them into squares. Also, I refrigerated the bars overnight before I cut them.

So much easier than building a campfire.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Supernatural Brownies

I have a bad habit. Whenever I find a recipe for something that I like, I generally feel like I don't want to try any other recipes. Like, other recipes aren't going to be better, right? Well, this is something that I definitely need to get over. As made apparent to me by these brownies.

I saw this recipe on Jennifer's Blog and immediately printed the recipe out. But, it's been sitting in my recipe folder since then. For whatever reason, I don't bake brownies that often. Probably because I know how dangerously tempting they are.

This weekend I'm heading to Isle of Palms, SC for my friend Leigh's Bachelorette Weekend Extravaganza. I volunteered to bring baked goodies and I thought some brownies would be the perfect goody, since they travel well (we're talking a 9 hour drive, folks). I went through my recipe folder and picked this recipe and thought... hmmm.. "well I have all the ingredients.. maybe they'll be okay."

Holy crap!!!!! These brownies are delicious! I mean seriously. Moist and fudgy and chewy all at the same time! And incredibly simple to make!! (I just zap my chocolate and butter in the microwave, instead of using the double boiler method).

I baked them in a glass 9x13 inch pan that I had laid a piece of parchment paper in (so that I could lift the brownies out of the pan and cut them easily) for about 40 minutes, but I started checking at 35 minutes. Nobody likes an overcooked brownie, right? After I let them cool on a wire rack, I pulled them out of the pan by the parchment paper and trimmed all the edges off. Nobody likes to see the edges, right? (Okay, I'm totally lying, I don't cut the edges off for aesthetic reasons, I actually cut the edges off, because that's my favorite part and so I gobble that up immediately and just use the excuse... ohhhh the edges are so ugly and you just can't serve brownies with an ugly edge! It's a good thing that I don't own this pan).

Now I understand the title of these brownies... They certainly are Supernatural! I can't wait to serve them this weekend!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Almost Fudge Gateau

It's kind of weird when you can't pronounce the name of what you've cooked. I found myself telling people about this cake and I had to always spell the Gateau part. I knew I should have taken french instead of Latin. Dumb dead language.

Anyway, this cake came together like a dream! There was lots of folding involved in mixing the batter, but I found it kind of soothing in a strange, OCD type of way. For my first Tuesdays with Dorie post, it was awesome!

One thing though... I don't like bittersweet chocolate. I don't really care for any dark chocolate to be honest with you. I know, milk chocolate is like the ugly red headed step child of the chocolate world. But, I can't help it. It's sweet and creamy and delicious. Blame it on my mom. All the sweets we had in the house were made from milk chocolate.

So, I didn't really care for the flavor of the cake. I used some semi-sweet chocolate in the glaze, hoping to sweeten it up a bit, but it was still pretty bitter. The texture of this cake is amazing though! So, if you love bittersweet chocolate, this is the cake for you! And you can come over anytime in the next 2 months and I'll defrost a piece for you!

When I originally started this blog, I wanted to incorporate the music that I listened to while I baked, but for whatever reason, I bailed on that part. So, I'm going to make it apart of my Tuesdays with Dorie Posts.

This cake was made while listening to Holopaw's self-titled album: Holopaw. (Which is fitting, because I actually don't know how to pronounce Holopaw either).

Enjoy!

Chosen by Nikki of Crazy Delicious

Almost-Fudge G√Ęteau
5 large eggs
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup of sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons coffee or water
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

For the Glaze (optional)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup

Getting Ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a mixer bowl or other large bowl and the yolks in a small bowl.

Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add the chocolate, sugar butter and coffee. Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are melted; the sugar may still be grainy, and that's fine. Transfer the bowl to the counter and let the mixture sit for 3 minutes.

Using a rubber spatula, stir in the yolks one by one, then fold in the flour.
Working with the whisk attachment of the mixer or a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they hold firm, but glossy peaks. Using the spatula, stir about one quarter of the beaten whites into the batter, then gently fold in the rest. Scrape the butter into the pan and jiggle the pan from side to side a couple of times to even the batter.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the cake has risen evenly (it might rise around the edges and you'll think it's done, but give it a few minutes more, and the center will puff too) and the top has firmed (it will probably be cracked) and doesn't shimmy when tapped; a thin knife inserted into the center should come out just slightly streaked with chocolate. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the cake rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Run a blunt knife gently around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Carefully turn the cake over onto a rack and remove the pan bottom and the parchment paper. Invert the cake onto another rack and cool to room temperature right side up. As the cake cools, it may sink.

To Make the Optional Glaze:

First, turn the cooled cake over onto another rack so you'll be glazing the flat bottom, and place the rack over a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper to catch any drips.

Put the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.

Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water or in a microwave oven – the chocolate should be just melted and only warm, not hot. Meanwhile, bring the cream to a boil in a small sauce pan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir very gently with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Stir in the corn syrup.

Pour the glaze over the cake and smooth the top with a long metal icing spatula. Don't worry if the glaze drips unevenly down the sides of the cake – it will just add to its charms. Allow the glaze to set at room temperature or, if you're impatient, slip the cake into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. If the glaze dulls in the fridge, just give it a little gentle heat from a hairdryer.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies, again.

I dont know what it is. But, I think it's safe to say that it's officially an obsession right now.

Yes, I made chocolate chip cookies again! This is the 2nd time this week and like the 4th time in two weeks. I know, I know, you're sick of chocolate chip cookies (surprisingly, I'm not), but I just had to test my favorite recipe with a little adaptation. I substituted a couple of the tbsps of butter for butter flavored shortening. Hoping that that would make the cookies less crispy on top. But, only just slightly. It didn't make the cookies softer, but the cookies did seem to have a little something extra in them. But, I can't put my finger on it.

Why mess with a good thing? Because, I want them to be perfect. And they are close, but they aren't quite there yet. I think I might try this ratio again, but I might actually add more butter to the recipe. Maybe I'll spare you blog readers with that experimentation.

Anyway, here's the recipe.

My notes:

-- I halved the recipe
-- I substituted 2 tbsp of butter for 2 tbsp butter flavored shortening.
-- I always chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before I bake them. (Have I mentioned that before?)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dorie's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies: 2 ways.

Before I started this blog and started baking a lot, my knowledge of bakers was limited to those on television or Betty Crocker. I had never heard of Dorie Greenspan. How could I? She wasn't on the food network, right?

As I started reading other baking blogs, I started to come across her name... I'd see phrases like... "Another awesome Dorie recipe." or "I know this is like the 15th Dorie Recipe I've posted in as many days." I started wondering... who is this Dorie lady and why haven't I heard of her?

Eventually, I made her World Peace Cookies (which were really, really good)and her Chocolate Malted Cookies (which, were okay, but I'd like to make them again). I still didn't fully understand the buzz around her though. And then I happened to be in the car during rush hour one day and heard her segment on NPR (I think it was on all things considered, but don't quote me on that) and she was talking about Figgy Pudding (it was around Christmas, obviously). And her voice, her excitement, her knowledge, her chuckle... it all really mesmorized me and I said out loud to myself in the car. "I want to make Figgy Pudding, dammit!" I mean, seriously... who wants to make figgy pudding??? I had to get a Dorie cookbook. It's a pricy cookbook, though. So, it was kind of hard for me to just fork over the money for a cookbook (when I get so many of my recipes online these days).

Serendipitously, though, my friend Steph bought me Dorie's Baking: From My Home to Yours for my birthday! So, I've joined Tuesdays With Dorie and will be posting next Tuesday for the first time being a part of a blogging group!

So, Monday night, I decided to try out my first recipe using her actual cookbook. I decided to test her Chocolate Chip Cookies against my Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies. I decided to halve the recipe and then I split the recipe into two different kinds. One was your basic Chocolate Chip Cookies with Semi-Sweet and Milk Chocolate chips (I prefer milk chocolate, I know, I'm weird). And then I made the other half with Reese Pieces, Peanut Butter Chips, and M&Ms.

These cookies are good. Very good. But, not as good as my favorite cookies. These cookies come out a little flatter and crispier than my favorite cookies. My favorite cookies are nice and puffy. The flavor of these cookies is really good, though. I love the sugar blend in this cookie. It lends a rich, molasses-y type of flavor. Yum.


My Best Chocolate Chip Cookies: A Dorie Greenspan Recipe

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tsps pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
12 0z bittersweet chocolate or 2 cups of store bought chocolate chips
1 cup finely chopped nuts

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.

Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter on medium speed until smooth (about 1 minute). Add sugars and beat for another 2 minutes or so, until well blended. Beat in vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 portions, mixing only until each addition is incorporated. On low speed, or by hand with a rubber spatula mix in the chocolate and nuts.

Spoon the dough by slightly rounded tablespoons onto the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between spoonfuls.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool on baking sheet for one minute before transfering to a cooling rack.

Makes about 45 cookies.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies



416 people can't be wrong. Right? 416 rave reviews of a cookie recipe can only mean one thing: EXCELLENT COOKIE. When I saw these cookies on Anna's site Cookie Madness and I read the reviews of them on allrecipes.com I couldnt help but want to make them immediately. I actually went out that night and bought reese pieces so that I could make these cookies.

I took the suggestions of the reviewers on allrecipes.com and used half shortening/half butter and I also used half light brown sugar and half dark brown sugar.

The cookies turned out good. But, they weren't like WOW these cookies are amazing (which was how most of the reviews were written). I felt like these cookies fell kind of flat. It's like, they weren't chocolatey enough and they certainly weren't peanut buttery enough.

Recipe

Friday, February 8, 2008

I need your help!!!

It's not often that I eat something purchased from a grocery store or even a bakery that knocks my socks off. I mean, I've been disappointed by so many crappy brownies and cupcakes, that I typically stay away from things that aren't homemade.

A baked goods snob? Yes. I am. I like homemade goodies. Where you can taste the real butter and sugar in it and not just some homogenized milk powdered crap or something.

But, last night I had an experience. Steph came over and pulled something out of her pocket that she prefaced with: "This is going to change your life."

She knows me well.

This is what she pulled out. A carton of "Praline and Cream Butterbars" from a company called Upper Crust Crumbs Dessert Company .

What is inside this carton is sheer joy. In bar form.To describe it... it's actually very similiar to the Low Country Bars in flavor. But, it has a very soft, moist crust. The bottom layer tastes like it's basically all butter with a tbsp of flour thrown in there to firm it up a bit. Seriously. Very buttery. The inside layer is very sweet and creamy, like an icing. And the top layer is a soft layer of praline topping.

I found something about it online and it referred to it as "a shortbread base with a buttercream filling and a topping."

I need a recipe for this. Bad. So, I'm asking for some help. Steph bought this at whole foods, but I'd like to try a recipe at home. I think I'll start with adapting the Low Country Bar a bit... using a ground up graham cracker crust, putting the icing in the center and then making a praline topping and I think that will come very close.

Any other suggestions or ideas?

I need a fix man. I need to be able to make these at home. Help a girl out.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies: My favorite recipe.

It took a lot of recipes before I could dub a clear cut winner in this category. I've made Martha's, Mrs. Fields, Alton Browns, and a couple others, but this one... this one takes the cake (err... the cookie, I guess). This cookie is officially my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. I've blogged about it a few times, but just made another batch for my friend Jeff, who is recovering from surgery. I can easily say that this is the ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside.

Previous posts about this recipe:
The first time I made them
The second time I made them

Inferior (but still tasty) chocolate chip cookie posts:
Mrs. Field's
Martha's

Monday, February 4, 2008

Birthday Cakes

So, Friday was my birthday. 28 this year. Crazy. It's going to be a good year, though. I can feel it! I always like even number years.

So, anyway, for my birthday this year, I toyed with the idea of my cake being something kind of extravagant. Like a hummingbird cake or a red velvet cake. But, in the end, I choose my old favorite... Chocolate cake with cream cheese icing. From the box and the tub. How can something so simple taste so good? You'd think that slaving away on making a cake from scratch would produce a way more superior cake, but in my experience, it doesn't. Those boxed cakes are so moist. Yum. Thanks Mom, as always you make delicious and beautifully (avant garde-ish, I might go so far as saying) decorated cakes.

Well, anyway... it got me thinking about my first birthday cake (which I obviously don't remember, just seen pictures of it). It was a Raggedy Ann cake that my Aunt Loretta made. My cousin Steve was born on the exact same day, so he had a Raggedy Andy cake.

I wish you could see the detail on these cakes. Amazing. Check out the matching tablecloth, too.
Notice my brother and dad hamming it up for the camera, on my day. Hmph.

Somethings never change. Once a messy eater, always a messy eater.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

Warning: This post is likely to contain lots of exclamation points. So many in fact, that your retinas might just burn right off, or if they don’t, you’ll be so annoyed with the overusage of the exclamation points, that you’ll totally blow my excitement off as me being “crazy.”

I’m an excitable person. Let’s just get that out of the way upfront. But, let me clarify. I’m not the type of person who jumps up and down, screams and shouts, and generally overreacts to things. (Well, okay, I do generally overreact to things, but dude… it doesn’t seem like I’m OVERreacting at the time, it just seems like I’m reacting, ya know?). But, Wednesday night, after making these cookies, I found myself precisely in that mode. Jumping up and down, squealing in sheer delight and pleasure over these cookies.

Seriously. Squealing like a 7 year old at a Hannah Montana concert. (As a side note, let me just take a moment here and say that I have no shame in admitting that a cookie can make me as happy as a 7 year old at a Hannah Montana concert. Nope, no shame whatsoever).

Ok, so let’s talk about this for a minute… Name some totally awesome things:

Brownies. Unicorns. Cookies. Cream Cheese Icing. Balloons. Daniel Craig.

End of list. I mean, those are the most awesome things in the world, no?

So, think about how happy you’d be if two of those things magically combined. Take for instance… Daniel Craig and Cream Cheese Icing! Holy crap! I think I need a moment to think about that for a second.

...

Okay, sorry. Now, What about Balloons and Unicorns? I mean. That’s some cool stuff, especially if the balloons were tied to the unicorn's horn. Pretty! Sadly, these two combos aren’t likely to happen to me (well, at least not this week), but…. I found a recipe that magically combined Cookies and Brownies into one beautiful concoction.

I found the recipe in that 500 cookies book that my mom bought me. The picture made the cookies look light and fudgy and crispy but chewy. But they actually came out thick and chewy and exactly like a brownie. These cookies are delicious!!!!!!!!!

Seriously. These cookies made me very, very happy. If you want to be happy and squeal and jump up and down in your kitchen. Make these cookies.
(I left the book at home today, so I'll post the recipe this weekend).