Tuesday, May 26, 2009

TWD: Chipster Topped Brownies

I have this small problem. I'm the type that usually thinks that when you take two seperate good things and put them together... that you get an even more amazing thing. Confused? Let me give you some examples...

Biscuits? Awesome. Sausage Gravy? Awesome. Put them together? Totally awesome.


Warm Brownie? Awesome. Ice Cream? Awesome. Warm Brownie with a scoop of Ice Cream? Totally awesome.

It makes sense. Which is why I thought that this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was going to be a knock-out. It was essentially a chocolate chip cookie baked on top of a fudgy brownie. How genius is that, right?

I made a half recipe and made the recipe exactly as written (except I used pecans instead of walnuts in the brownies) and what I ended up with was so rich, after a few bites, I couldn't handle it anymore. (If I'd had some ice cream to go with it, incidently, I could have polished off the whole pan, I think. But by itself, it was just too much for me).

I felt like the cookie part didn't have enough flour in the recipe. Even when I tasted some of the dough, I thought to myself... hmm... this doesn't taste like regular cookie dough. It wasn't nearly as good as cookie dough generally is.

And when it baked, the top hardened, but the inside never really set up. It was gooey (which, in my book is generally a good thing). The brownie set up nicely and was so intense and fudgy. The other issue I had, was what the chocolate chips from the cookie all sunk down to the brownie. Which, I think contributed to the fact that it was too rich for me.

If you like rich desserts, then this is right up your alley. And I think if I had had some ice cream to eat with this, I would have LOVED it. But, by itself... it was just a little too much for me. Sometimes... two parts are better off alone than they are together, I guess....

You can find the recipe on Beth's blog: Supplicious

Monday, May 25, 2009

Peanut Butter-scotch White Chocolate Blondies

Two years ago today, I started this blog. So it's my blogiversary, or my blogirthday? Whatev. All I know is that it's been a fun couple of years. I've gone outside of my comfort zone (thanks mostly due to the baking group, Tuesdays with Dorie) and stretched my baking expertise greatly.

If I've learned anything in these two years, it's that baking isn't easy. I still can't make a white or butter cake that I'm happy with. I haven't mastered the art of cake decorating or making pretty fluted edges on my pie crusts. But all that aside, it's something that I really, really enjoy. I love putting my apron on and getting my bowls and scale out and spending some time in my kitchen.

The biggest challenge for me, is getting rid of my baked goods. If I worked in a huge office or had a large network of neighbors or friends around, I'd probably wind up baking every day. I love it so much, but I always find myself saying... I can't bake those brownies! I don't need the extra calories and even though I do it a lot, it pains me to have to throw away 3/4 of a recipe after I've made it. (You should see my freezer, it's stocked with baked goodies that I felt too guilty to throw away, but will probably never pull out and eat).

Anyway... to celebrate my the start of year #3, I decided to follow my current cravings. Lately, I have not been able to get enough of two things: peanut butter and butterscotch. Both alone and together. A few weeks ago, I had a peanut butter and butterscotch milkshake at the local dairy dip here in town. Holy crap it was a spiritual experience, I tell you. Peanut Butter and Butterscotch are a match made in heaven.

So, I tinkered around with a recipe from betty crocker and came up with a different version. It's dang tasty. And, I have a feeling that this peanut butter and butterscotch obsession is just going to snowball from here...

Thanks for reading my blog for the last couple of years!

Peanut Butter-Scotch White Chocolate Blondies

These are rich and sweet. Like Mega sweet. (Which is why I adore them). The peanut butter gives the bars a more a sandy texture than your regular blondies, but I honestly didn't get enough peanut butter flavor, so I'd encourage the use of some peanut butter chips in the batter, to amp that up.

2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8 square pan.

Beat sugar, butter, peanut butter, vanilla and egg together in a bowl with a hand mixer until well blended. Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add chips and stir to combine it all together.

Press/spread into the prepared pan and cook for about 18-23 minutes. Until the edges are starting to pull away from the pan and the mixture seems set. Cool on a rack and cut into bars when cooled.

Yields: 9-12 bars (depending on how big you make 'em) :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

TWD: Fresh Mango Bread

Full disclosure: I was NOT excited about making this recipe. It just didn't sound all that appealing to me. For one, I don't really like mango. I mean... it's okay, but not something I feel like should be thrown into breads. I like it more when it's mixed with lime, garlic and pineapple and spooned raw over a grilled piece of fish or something.

I recently bought my first mango, though. About a month ago, my grocery store had mangoes on sale and I thought... hmm... I'll buy a mango. Why not? When I got that bad boy home... I had NO idea what to do with him. I mean... what in the world is that hard center about? I couldn't get my knife through it and it had no discernible start or end point. I ended up just sawing off random bits of the ends. And the taste? Blech. It was like eating slightly dampened chalk.
I had a feeling that this mango was not a ripe mango.

After that experience... the mango and I... well, we were on the outs.

I had already decided to skip this week of Tuesdays with Dorie, until I was browsing my grocery store's circular for the week and saw that mangoes were on sale again this week. Awwwwwww... hell. That's a sign, no? So... I picked one up. (Luckily I had read in the Tuesdays with Dorie weekly Problems & Questions forum how to pick a ripe mango... A ripe mango, apparently has a little give when you press it, fyi).

I nonchalantly started to make this bread yesterday... again fumbling with the awkward mango and it's hard core. There HAS to be a way to cut a mango, but I couldn't figure it out on my own. So, again, I ended up just whacking around the ends and trying to avoid the core. The recipe calls for diced fresh mangoes? Well... mine ended up being massacred fresh mangoes. But, who cares, right? I'm not going to like this recipe anyhow...

I only made a third of the recipe and fit all the batter into a mini loaf pan and the only substitution I made was regular raisins instead of golden. And, I must say... I'm starting to see a theme here. Much like how the ever-expanding fat rolls that I have keep spilling out over my waistbands (ala muffintop), so do all the pie, muffins, cakes, tarts, bread recipes that I make of Dories in their pans. I mean.. What the hell? Is it just me? (It could have something to do with the fact that I rarely make a whole recipe and I'm always halving/thirding/quartering recipes and Dorie always writes her recipes like this... "pour the batter evenly amongst the muffin tins" She never says... "fill your muffin cups up 3/4 of the way." So, everything oozes out... (last weeks tart? holy moly)). So did this recipe. Ooozed out all over the place. Arg!

Anyway... Folks... I'm renaming this bread... NINJA Bread. Because it totally sneaks up on you and blows you away. Seriously. This bread is like candy. (I did add extra brown sugar to the recipe... I like my breads sweet, what can I say?). Dangerous Candy Ninja Bread. I loved the crunchy top and the chewy edges. YUM. I think I'll play around with this recipe in the future... and try out some other fruits instead of mango (cause... i'm still not best friends with the mango... haha I just flashed back to the SNL sketches about Mango ).

So, thank you Kelly Baking with the Boys for picking this recipe... and thank you Harris Teeter for having mangoes on sale this week.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Blueberry-Coconut Pound Cake Muffins

So, there's this girl that lives in my building. Actually, she lives on my floor. And she's kind of a beoyotch with a capital B. At least... she seems to be that way. I mean, for instance, she's seen me bumbling towards the elevator... arms full of heavy grocery bags and she makes no attempt to hold the elevator open for an extra 3 seconds, so that I don't have to stand there waiting for 4 minutes while our super duper slow elevator goes up 4 floors, let's her off, and then comes back down 4 floors to me. I mean, for chrissakes, we live on the same floor and I'm carrying 26 pounds worth of groceries! Arg!

Anyway, it's because of this... and because of the fact that when I bought this damn condo, I envisioned that along with the 763 sq feet of my very own property, I'd be getting a "Friends-esque" atmosphere. I assumed it would be like living in a college dorm again... except... instead of sneaking Natty Light in for togo parties, we'd be sipping wine at tapas parties.

I don't know any of my neighbors. I mean... I've met my next door neighbor. But, I don't know her. So, I'm toying with the idea of throwing a little "get to know each other" floor party. The idea is... I'll make some little flyers, post them around all over the floor and hopefully some people will come over and we can get to know each other better. Or at the VERY LEAST meet each other.

This post really has NOTHING to do with this recipe, except... the recipe is really good. Like, damn good. It's the kind of recipe that you want to share with your neighbors. When they've had a rough time or when they're just moving into the neighborhood, whip up a batch of these bad boys, and you'll have friends for life. These are the type of muffins that could warm up even the beoyotch from my floor's icy cold heart.

Also... a little housekeeping note... if you normally read my blog in a reader, check out my actual blog. I made a new header this week! I was getting sick of the old one and I feel like this one is a little more personal and casual. Let me know what you think!

Individual Blueberry-Coconut Pound Cake Muffins
recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine

This recipe is super easy. The muffins come out sweet with a crumb that is exactly like a pound cake. Be sure to grease your muffin tin well, or to use liners, because these muffins will stick to your pan, if you don't.

I cup sugar
2 tsps of freshly grated orange zest
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, room temperature
5 tbsps of heavy cream
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup plus 3 tbsps flaked coconut
1/2 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter and flour 7 1/2 inch muffin cups.

Put the cup of sugar and the orange zest together in a large bowl and gently press the sugar together with the zest between your fingertips. Releasing the oils from the zest.

Add butter and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in cream, then flour and salt, on low speed until just combined. Stir in the 1/2 cup of coconut and gently stir in the blueberries.

Spoon batter in muffin cups, filling the cups and smoothing the tops. Sprinkle tops with the remaining 3 tbsps of coconut.

Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean and edges are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Invert onto a rack and cool.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

TWD: Tartest Lemon Tart

It's actually really fitting that this weeks Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is something lemon-y. Fitting because Sunday was Mother's Day and my maternal grandma loved all things lemon. Anytime I have something lemon flavored, I can't help but think of her.

First of all... this is like the easiest dang dessert you'll ever make. That is... if you have a food processor or a blender. Of which, I own neither. So, I had to borrow my mom's food processor and schlep it over to my house to make this tart (and the tart dough). And who knew food processors were so dang heavy? Sheesh.

Anyway, I love the idea of using the whole lemon. But, what I don't love is bitterness and this had a little too much bitterness for me (even with my removing the skins and a lot of the pith from the lemons and adding a little more sugar than the recipe called for). It wasn't so bitter that I couldn't eat it, (of course)... but it wasn't super enjoyable on my palate. Maybe this is more like a mother-in-law's day tart (zing!).

Now the tart dough, on the otherhand... absolutely fabulous! I could have eaten it by itself! I love Dorie's pie dough and tart recipes. They always come out perfect for me.

I did have an issue with this tart completely bubbling out while baking. Luckily, I had followed Dorie's instructions and had placed a baking sheet lined with a silicon mat underneath. But, that didn't help the fact that the gooey-ness of the filling made the tart next to impossible to get out of it's pan. I seriously had to get my brothers assistance in shimmying the tart out of the pan. But, we eventually got it. If I were making this again (which I won't be), I'd spray the outside of the pan with cooking spray before I baked it, as a precaution.

So, if you like desserts that bite you back... check out Babette's blog: Babette Feasts for the recipe.

Happy Mother's Day... I hope all you mother's out there had a good day. And now I shall proceed to embarrass mine with some pics...

Well... of all the wonderful attributes that my mom has: beauty, kindness, intelligence, and long legs... the only things I got out of her awesome gene pool is her silly sense of humor and her utter lack of rhythm. Hmph.

Love you, Mom!

Friday, May 8, 2009

White Chocolate Butterscotch Cookies

Martha Stewart and I... we go way back. Back to the 90s when her show Living was on the air. I can remember so many people hating her and I never understood that. I mean, sure everything she does turns out perfectly and she is a little anal and precise and doesn't let her guests (the few she had on Living) talk much. But, that's what I liked so much about her. She's REAL. She doesn't change herself for television (frankly, it seems she's incapable of doing so).

I adored that show and miss it. Her new show... I've only see a couple of times and it's just not the same. It's too live audience oriented. I miss the days of sitting there enthralled as Martha showed the viewers how to fold a fitted sheet perfectly. Granted, yes... she did iron her sheets before she folded them, bless her little OCD heart, but... honestly, that is one of the most valuable things I've ever learned. Where else on television would someone show you how to fold a fitted sheet?

I guess part of the reason I'm obsessed with Martha is because she is really close to being the epitome of the domestic goddess. And I don't know about you... but, that is so what I want to be. I mean, granted... she's not as glamorous about it as I want to be. I want to be able to entertain people in my beautifully decorated and immaculately clean and neat home, I want to be able to cook delicious meals for them with herbs grown in my own garden, I want them to notice how clean and neat and organized my linen closet is when they accidently open that door instead of the bathroom door and of course, I want them to compliment my top and shoes, because a true domestic goddess is fashionable as well (something that Martha is lacking). And most of all, I want it to look effortless. (the hardest part). In the end... I forgo cleaning out the linen closet, because I try on about 15 different tops and shoes and always end up wearing the first one I put on and I settle for my guests just having a good time and feeling comfortable and loved. Linen closet be damned.

It's a constant work-in-progress. But, I've got a damn good start: I can fold a fitted sheet. Boo-ya.

Aside from her home-keeping prowess... she is also a damn good recipe writer. Everything I've ever made from her has been awesome. So, when I recieved Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook for my birthday from my dear friend Stephanie, I was thrilled! And seriously... this book is incredible, just about every recipe in there is a "must make."

It has taken me awhile to make anything out of it, because I was (am still) trying to lose weight and get into kick-ass Amy shape. But about a month ago, I was staying the weekend at a friend's house and wanted to bring something yummy. And I immediately turned to Martha.

White Chocolate Butterscotch Cookies
adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

Martha's recipe stops at the white chocolate chunks/chips. I threw in some of my own additions for fun: toffee pieces, butterscotch chips, and macadamia nuts. What's not to love?

I have some ideas to enhance these cookies even more, the next time around. But, I have to say these cookies are delicious! After the first day, they do get a little sandy in texture, so if you're looking for a more straight up chewy cookie then you might play around with the butter and shortening ratios.

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
8 oz best quality white chocolate chips or chunks
1/2 cup toffee pieces
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts (salted is what I used)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment (I used a hand mixer), beat the butter, shortening, and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes) scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in 2 batches, beating until just combined. Stir in the remaining ingredients.

Drop 2 tbsp of dough at a time about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until lightly golden brown around the edges, about 15 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer parchment and cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

TWD: Tiramisu Cake

There are those people who always order dessert when out at a restaurant. I am not one of those people. Why? Mostly because I'm cheap. I have a really hard time justifying the price of dessert, when I've already gorged myself on food and booze. I know, it doesn't really make sense to me either, but I can assure you that my hips are thankful. (Of course this doesn't mean that I don't go home and eat something sweet... because, oftentimes that's exactly what happens).

It's probably because of my frugality that I've never had tiramisu. It's always sounded like something delicious. The coffee, the ladyfingers... but, I'm generally not thrilled with pudding-type of desserts. Something about the consistency, I guess.

Which is why I thought this dessert was going to be a homerun for me. All the flavors of tiramisu... but in cake form! I mean, brilliant, right? That Dorie, she knows how to write a recipe, I tell ya.

This recipe was really easy, but called for two things that I never have: espresso powder and marscapone cheese. I decided to splurge the $5.99 on the marscapone and opted to make a Guinness syrup (I almost always have Guinness on hand) instead of the espresso syrup. The marscapone? Well, let's just say, for me... I'd prefer the tangyness of cream cheese. So, if I were to make this again, I'd just use cream cheese. The Guinness syrup turned out great, though.

Unfortunately, this cake just didn't do it for me. And, I've come to the conclusion, that it's not you, Tiramisu Cake, it's me. I think I've discovered that I just don't enjoy butter cakes. At least, all the butter cakes I've ever made. They always turn out spongy and dry for me. I really wanted this cake to be richer. But it was very light and kind of ho-hum to me.

If you like Tiramisu and butter cakes, then I urge you to check out the blogroll at Tuesdays with Dorie and grab the recipe from Megan's blog: My Baking Adventures. I think this cake would be hit with a lot of people. Sadly, it just didn't work out between us.