Archive for ‘dessert’

July 4, 2014

Steak Fajitas and Grilled Peaches

Happy Independence Day, y’all.

I’ve reaaallly been craving fajitas. Unfortunately, I don’t trust the yankees here in NY to make this TexMex favorite of mine. Or any TexMex, for that matter. The perfect opportunity to try it out myself arose this weekend, for R’s/America’s birthday shindig. Between the chaos in the kitchen and entertaining guests, I totally forgot to take pictures. I even made roasted corn!

And what’s more ‘merican than Mexican corn and fajitas?!? Yea, ok. To balance it out, I served grilled peaches and ice cream for dessert. That sounds pretty American, doesn’t it?

Some notes:

  1. Err on the side of undercook! You can always slap it back on the grill. You can’t UN cook a tough piece of meat, though.
  2. I do not have a grill. I used a cast iron griddle. The kind that spans two stove tops, with grill marks. This thing is the bomb. 30 bucks off Amazon.
  3. Skirt steak is fattier than hanger steak. Makes for juicier fajitas.
  4. Don’t use soap to wash cast iron. Use hot water and scrub scrub scrub… Learned this the hard way five years ago. Also, never leave cast iron in the sink… dry it off when you’re done by sticking it in the oven or over the stove for a few minutes.

FAJITAS

  • 2 lb skirt steak (or chicken)
  • 1 cup lime juice (make life easier for yourself. buy a bottle instead of squeezing limes)
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 8 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 4 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2/3 cups water
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1 medium onion, sliced

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Marinate steak and veggies 4 hours – overnight.
  2. Heat skillet over medium high heat until smoking hot.
  3. Grill meat, 2-3 minutes per side. (I like to fold up the thinner sides a bit early so they don’t overcook)
  4. Remove and let meat rest for a few minutes while you start the next batch. This is essential as it allows the juices to redistribute into the meat. The meat also continues to cook while it rests.
  5. Slice on the diagonal, against the grain of the meat.
  6. Toss the veggies on to the grill. Cook until soft and onions become translucent.

GRILLED PEACHES

  • Ripe peaches, halved and pitted
  • olive oil
  • honey
  • cinnamon
  • brown sugar
  • vanilla/bourbon/whatever ice cream

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Brush flat side of peach half with oil.
  2. On a clean HOT grill/griddle, place peach, flat side down. 2-3 minutes. It should develop nice dark grill marks.
  3. Rotate 90 degrees, continue to grill 2-3 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, mix a pinch of cinnamon with a few tsps of brown sugar (remember, cinnamon is sstrooonng. a little goes a long way.)
  5. Flip peach over and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. Cover with a heat resistant bowl. A metal mixing bowl that has no plastic/rubber on it will work. Or if you have a real grill, just close the lid. 10 minutes or until soft.
  6. Remove and place in serving bowl, drizzle with honey, then serve with ice cream.

 

 

November 26, 2013

Easy Berry Cobbler

photo 2

Adapted from a Betty Crocker recipe

Want cobbler in 20 minutes? This recipe could be a dangerous thing. I don’t even have flour at my apartment right now let alone baking powder. This recipe uses Bisquick mix and frozen berries. Meaning you can have fresh warm cobbler every night…

Makes 2 big servings. I bake these in a 4 cup, glass tupperware bowl (or the yellow Snapware). Perfect for saving leftovers (rare, but it happens).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups frozen mixed berries (raspberry blackberry blueberry)
  • 1/4 heaping cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tbs water
  • 1/2 tbs corn starch
  • 1/2 cup Bisquick mix
  • 3/4 tbs of butter, melted but not heated (nuke until mostly melted, then stir until fully melted)
  • 2 tbs whole milk (I use the half and half I keep in my fridge for coffee..)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 430F
  2. In a medium sized sauce pan, add berries, corn starch, sugar, water.
  3. Turn heat to medium and stir until sugar dissolves and berry mixture begins to congeal and thicken. Do not use high heat as it will burn. **Carefully dip in a clean spoon and taste! Adjust sugar as needed. If too sweet, add a squeeze of lemon juice. Note that the mixture should coat the back of the spoon and not run off. If it looks too watery, add more corn starch, a pinch at a time.
  4. When berries begin to bubble, let it boil for 1 minute then turn heat off and pour mixture into 4 cup baking dish.
  5. in a small mixing bowl, add Bisquick, lightly melted butter, and milk. stir until JUST combined into a dough. If it is still crumbly, add a dash more milk. DO NOT over mix.
  6. With a large flat spoon, plop small sections of dough into berry mixture.
  7. Place on flat baking pan (in case it bubbles over) and bake in oven for 15 minutes. Mixture will be bubbling and edges of the dough will have baked to a nice golden brown.
  8. Serve with ice cream or a dash of cold cream! Tastes good cold the next day, too.

Berry Cobbler

October 20, 2012

Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

I received my KitchenAid stand mixer as a birthday present last year around this time.

After much fear and trepidation, I am just now beginning to tackle this cake baking business. My original hesitations were due to all the rules and precision that comes with baking that you just don’t have to worry about with other types of cooking. As anyone in my life who knows me but at ALL will tell you, I do not follow rules well. I distrust what others tell me and no matter how much the instructions make sense, I just have to do it on my own and learn it the hard way. My fear of baking also stems from the fact that I SUCKED in chemistry lab. Like, 5% yield sucked. But hey, if I can learn, so can you.

I find that the best way to approach learning to bake is this: Follow the $#%@ing instructions. To the T. After a few successful attempts, you gain the confidence to fiddle with the recipe. But before you go making big changes, RESEARCH. What does “Creaming the butter” mean? Is sugar considered a dry or a wet ingredient? What’s the difference between baking powder and baking soda? What is the purpose of each and every ingredient used in baking? Tedious? Maybe. But if you’re a nerd like me, you relish in knowing and understanding every step in the process. If you are NOT like me, go follow a recipe. Here’s one to start you off:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt (kosher)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs, medium size
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt (HEAPING cup)
  • 3 tbs Meyer lemon zest (worth it.)
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tbs poppy seeds

EQUIPMENT:

  • stand mixer with paddle attachment
  • large mixing bowl
  • zester
  • 1 loaf pan
  • silicone spatula for batter
  • whisk
  • measuring cups/spoons

TIP: when juicing the lemon, juice it over the zester to strain out lemon seeds. no extra tools to wash, and no bitter seeds to bite into when you eat the cake later…

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Place rack in center of the oven (if it’s too low, it’ll bake too quickly)
  2. Line loaf pan with parchment paper (cut to fit, it’ll hang over the two long sides) and butter generously. You can clip down the sides with binder clips.
  3. Zest lemon. Mix zest and juice with yogurt and set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt. Whisk to combine.
  5. Cream Butter: Cut butter up into small chunks ~ 1 inch cubes. Put in stand mixer bowl and beat on high, with paddle attachment, until soft and creamy. Reduce speed to medium. Add sugar slowly and continue beating until well incorporated. Should look fluffy, like airy sand. Mix in vanilla.
  6. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated.
  7. Still on medium speed, slowly add in part of the dry mixture, then some yogurt mixture, then some dry mixture, etc, until fully incorporated. Add poppy seeds. Increase speed to high for a few seconds to fluff up batter.
  8. Pour batter into loaf pan and spread evenly. Place in center of oven and bake ~ 1 hour. At the 40 min mark, open oven door and QUICKLY cut a line down the center of the loaf and cover the top with a sheet of aluminum foil to prevent burning. No need to crimp, just cover. The cut down the middle is what creates that pretty split in the crust.
  9. Set loaf aside and let cool, 10 min.
  10. Optional Glaze: In stand mixer with whisk attachment, mix 2 tbs lemon juice and 1/2 cup+ powdered sugar on high speed until it reaches the consistency you like. Opaque and not too runny. Glaze cake after cooling for 20 min or so.

THINGS I’M LEARNING ABOUT BAKING:

  1. Always level the ingredients after measuring: Scoop the ingredient into the measuring utensil, then with the flat edge of a knife, smooth off the top. Spooning it in slowly will give you less than the recipe calls for, unless the recipe specifically says to.
  2. Butter doesn’t have to be room temperature and softened. Wastes time. Just cut it up and beat it on high in your stand mixture. This softens it. Technology is wonderful. Use it. Same goes with eggs. Use them fresh out of the fridge. No one needs salmonella.
  3. If you’re messing with a recipe:
    1. Eggs are emulsifiers and binders. They hold the cake together.
    2. Baking soda is a base and needs an acid to neutralize it or you’ll get a bitter yucky taste. Brown sugar is considered a neutralizing agent for baking soda. Do not substitute brown sugar for white in a recipe that has baking soda. Unless you swap BS out for BP (Baking powder). And even then it’s not an exact substitute…still figuring this one out.
    3. AP flour =/= cake flour =/= self rising crap. Use what the recipe calls for, or use this substitution: 1 cup cake flour = 1 cup AP flour minus 2 tablespoons. some people say replace those two tablespoons with equal amounts of corn starch. I’ve yet to try this.
    4. Sugar is a wet ingredient. Don’t mix it in with the flour at the beginning. Typical progression of cake baking goes like this: soften butter, cream butter with sugar, beat in eggs, add extracts and flavors, add dry ingredients then add ons (nuts, chocolate chips, what have you).
    5. Last but not least, read lots and lots of recipes. Look at the ratios. What ingredients where different? How do you think that affected texture, density, crumb, flavor, etc? Then create your own combination and WRITE IT OUT. Follow your new recipe exactly so you can compare the results to what you did. If you’re making adjustments as you go, you’ll never know how to recreate it exactly. It’s just bad science.
    6. Find friends who’ll be your guinea pigs. (: Good luck!

This cake turned out REALLY well. Dense, moist, not too sweet. I was afraid that cake flour would make it too cake-y and not compact enough like I like my pound cakes, and the AP flour I used here worked out superbly well. VERY happy.

October 5, 2012

Cowboy Cookies

Thin, chewy in the center, crisp on the edges. Bake for an extra 3-4 minutes if you like crispy crunchy cookies.

Adapted from Martha Stewart, my hero.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 cup pecans (3 ounces)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats (not instant or quick-cooking)
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup raisins

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pecans in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in oven, tossing occasionally, until darkened and fragrant, 10 to 13 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop. Into a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder.
  2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and both sugars until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
  3. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture, beating until just incorporated. Beat in oats, chocolate, pecans, and raisins until just combined. (Dough can be covered with plastic and refrigerated up to 3 days.)
  4. Rub a thin film of butter on a parchment lined baking pan. Roll dough into golf ball sized balls.
  5. Bake until edges of cookies begin to brown, 8-10 min, or until just turning golden on top. Transfer sheets to wire racks to cool 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. Cookies can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature in airtight containers

Makes ~4 pans of cookies. Feel free to cut recipe in half, or freeze dough in preformed balls.

I really don’t know why these are called cowboy cookies. But cowboy = good connotations in my book.

September 22, 2012

Spiced Applesauce Cake w/ Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

FIRST. CAKE. EVER! K, I’ll admit, the second try was much better. My first cake was a bit dry and not spice-y enough. Feel free to up the spices to your heart’s content. Also, make sure you used SOFTENED butter, and really beat the butter/sugar mixture until you notice an increase in total volume. Here’s some info on the creaming method. Do it. There is a noticeable difference. Resulting cake is dense but soft, moist, and gives off a wonderfully autumnal aroma.

Recipe from Gourmet.com

SPICED APPLE SAUCE CAKE:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2+ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 whole cloves, ground
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar (I used turbinado)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs (room temp)
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce+
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (optional), toasted, cooled, and chopped

*I used sweetened applesauce. Did not find the end result too cloying. In fact, even with sweetened applesauce, it was not a super sweet cake. Perhaps due to the turbinado sugar (larger granules, less overall sugar in 1 cup).

CINNAMON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

  • 5 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

MAKE CAKE:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter an 8 inch square cake pan.Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  • Beat butter with the paddle attachment on medium until soft  ~1 min.
  • Turn speed down to low, add sugar slowly. Return to medium speed and continue mixing ~2 minutes. Mixture should look “fluffy” or aerated.
  • Add vanilla and eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in applesauce. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined, then stir in walnuts.
  • Line pan with nonstick parchment paper and bake until golden-brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 40min. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake to loosen, then invert onto a plate. Re-invert cake onto a rack to cool completely.

MAKE FROSTING:

  • Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Sift confectioners sugar and cinnamon over cream cheese mixture, then beat at medium speed until incorporated.
  • Spread frosting over top of cooled cake.

Store cake in airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days. After that it starts to dry out. Bring to room temperature before serving.

January 25, 2012

Heath Toffee Cookies

THANK you, Simply Recipes, for putting this into the world. These cookies are amazing. They are thin, soft, slightly chewy, with crisp edges.  The rich, buttery toffee bits and that perfect crunch of the walnuts,…. totally gonna give me diabetes. I usually eat about 4 every time I walk past the kitchen. I highly suggest forming the dough balls and then freezing them. This recipe is perfect for baking quick, small batches in your toaster oven.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped Heath Bar pieces (Eight 1.4 ounce bars)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts


INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine Heath Bar pieces and chopped walnuts. Set aside.
  2. Beat together the butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, and vanilla.
  3. Alternatively mix in the Heath Bar mixture and the flour mixture, a third at a time, until well blended. Chill cookie dough for at least 30 minutes (better an hour or longer).
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. On cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or Silpat, spoon out the cookie dough in small 1-inch diameter balls (size of a large marble). Place dough balls 3 inches away from each other on the cookie sheets. (Make sure there is plenty of room between the cookie balls, and that the cookie balls aren’t too big. These cookies spread!)
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are just starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Feel free to freeze extra dough!

November 25, 2011

Trial and Error: Macarons!


So maybe it was a bit overzealous to try macarons after just learning how to bake cookies last week, but what’s Thanksgiving without a bit of a challenge, no? I must say though, it was quite a humbling experience. The results of Take 1 are laughable:

Check out the monster on the left. (And that would be take 3 on the right…) Oh, and never underestimate the power of food coloring! Same filling in both cookies. No joke.

This recipe is the result of intense research and recipe combining! Props to my little researcher/photographer, Angeline. (:

Feel free to do your own research and come up with your own recipe. Trial and error is the best way to learn what works for you and your oven. There are a plethora of blog posts out there on troubleshooting and tips. Also, feel free to use those creative juices to come up with flavors combos. Things I want to try in the future: cardamom with orange white chocolate filling, macha green tea and red bean filling, classic pistachio with buttercream filling, coffee and chocolate, mint and chocolate, the list goes on…

MACARON SHELLS (makes ~20 sandwiches)

  • 3/4 cups almond flour
  • 1 cup icing sugar (aka confectioner’s, icing, etc)
  • 1/4 cup fine granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup egg whites (about 2 eggs)
  •  baking sheets and a pencil

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 315F (too low heat = cracks, too high heat = bottoms will burn)
  2. On the paper side of the baking sheet, trace out 1 inch diameter circles, 2 inches apart. Flip over in a baking pan, waxy side up.
  3. Sift and measure out almond flour and powdered sugar into a separate bowl.
  4. In a stand mixer, beat egg whites on medium until foamy. Increase to high, and beat in granulated sugar slowly. Keep whipping until the mixture turns white, thickens, and forms stiff shiny peaks. Add food coloring while you whip.
  5. Remove bowl from stand mixer and SLOWLY fold in flour mixture into meringue. Sift in some flour mixture, and fold, sift in more flour, then fold, etc. Do NOT overmix. Should be about 50 folds total. Resulting mixture will be shiny, magma-like, and drop off spatula in a slow, viscous manner. Over beating will create a thinner consistency. Under beating will be too thick and paste-y. To be honest, I actually didn’t use all the flour. I simply added most of it until it reached the consistency I liked.
  6. Spoon into a plastic bag and cut off the tip, ~1/2 inch diameter. When piping, the mixture should flow out on its own without pressure.
  7. Bake for 11 minutes, rotating after 5 min, and occasionally propping the oven door open just a crack to let out any steam. Err on the side of a tad overcooked instead of undercooked. A crisp macaron shell will soften the next day as it melds with the filling.
  8. Set aside to cool, then fill. Now LEAVE THEM ALONE! Eat it the next day. I promise. It’s 10x better. Keep them in an airtight container at room temperature. Preferably somewhere out of sight. (:

MACARON FILLINGS:
(Berry + White Chocolate Ganache) 

  • 4 oz white chocolate
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 tsp jam (strawberry, mixed berry, raspberry, what have you.)

Place chocolate piece in a small glass or metal and place over a small sauce pan of water. Heat water slowly up to a simmer and melt chocolate. Add cream slowly as it melts and mix in jam. Optional: add 1 drop of red food coloring for aesthetic effect. Set aside until shells are ready to be filled.

(Salted Caramel) 

  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 stick of butter
  • 1 pinch of salt

You will need two small sauce pans. In one pan, heat milk over medium low heat, just before it boils. In another pan, add sugar and melt over medium high heat. Let sugar caramelize into a deep brown color tehn remove from heat. Slowly pour in hot milk while mixing continuously. Let it cool a bit, then add butter in pieces while still mixing. Place in fridge and let it cool a bit. Remove from fridge then beat until mixture is smooth and creamy. Set aside until macaron shells are ready to be filled. Don’t re-refrigerate fillings. They get too cold and hard to use…


Props to Angeline the researcher/photographer, Gloria the architect, and Rich the dish-washer (and stand mixer contributor?)

November 17, 2011

Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies

I love Martha Stewart.

This is my first batch of cookies since high school. That was the first and only time I tried to make cookies. They came out as chocolate chip biscuits. I never attempted cookies again after that.

Cookies take two?

(Look, Ma! Homemade frosting!)

Much more successful. The cookies are light and cakey with a very distinctive carrot cake spice. I had some trouble with the cream cheese frosting and it came out a bit lumpy (didn’t wait for everything to come to room temperature) and liquidy. Ok. I probably could’ve avoided those problems easily, but I was lazy. I used granulated sugar instead of powdered, and simply blasted it in a food processor to make it into a powder. Sounds like a reasonable substitute, right? HOWEVER,… I realized too late that I had measured 1 cup before I processed it. The resulting powder was actually less than a cup, and I was too lazy to measure more out.

In all honesty, sandwiched between two jumbo cookies, no one will notice what the frosting looks liked. Although next time, I’ll just listen to Martha and follow the damn recipe.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 heaping tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 whole clove, ground
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots, (about 3 large carrots)
  • 3/4 cups raisins
  • 3/4 cups chopped walnuts

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

  • 16oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 sticks of butter, room temperature, cut in pieces
  • 2 cup confectioner’s/powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Grate carrots. Set aside in a large bowl with measured out oats, raisins, walnuts.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugars and butter; beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat on medium speed until well combined.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger; stir to combine.
  4. Gradually add flour to butter mixture; mix on a low speed until just blended.
  5. Mix in oats, carrots, walnuts, and raisins. Chill dough in refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour. This is important to prevent runny dough and flat cookies.
  6. Make frosting:
    1. Beat cream cheese gently until softened.
    2. Add butter and vanilla extract and mix on medium speed until well incorporated (no more lumps).
    3. Slowly add powdered sugar until all two cups are in, adding more if frosting is still too runny.
  7. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpat baking mats or parchment paper, and set aside. (use the butter wrappers to grease up the parchment paper. Quick trick.)
  8. Using a 1/2-ounce ice-cream scoop, scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. A 1tbs measuring spoon makes a good substitute. (***important! If you make the scoops too big or too close, you will get a sheet cookie. Trust me. I learned the hard way.) Transfer to oven, and bake until edges are JUST browned and crisped, 12 to 15 minutes. (Cookie will continue to cook and darken in color once removed.)
  9. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat baking process with remaining dough. Once cooled completely, use an offset spatula to spread cream-cheese filling onto a cookie. Sandwich together with a second cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Some tips:

  1. Between batches, cool the baking pan completely by running it under some water in the sink. This keeps the dough from deflating upon contact on a hot pan…
  2. If you don’t have an ice cream scooper (I do not), use a 1tbs measuring spoon. 1 heaping spoonful will do. Just be consistent as you want the cookies to fit together for the sandwich.
  3. Chilling the dough is paramount. The dough is actually rather runny. Put the dough back in the fridge between baking batches to keep it firm.
  4. If the icing is too runny, add more powdered sugar! You may need more sugar than the icing recipe calls for.

EDIT: 3 years later, I’m getting pretty good at this recipe. Here’s the new and improved version. Smaller cookies, thicker and creamier frosting.

carrot cake

I also wasn’t instagram-ing 3 years ago. I’m sure that makes a difference in the photo quality. (: carrot cake2

November 12, 2011

Fudgy Toffee Brownies w/ a Pretzel Crumble Crust

I’ve never even made brownies from a box before. But this recipe is so detailed and fail proof, that all those new friends you’ll get when they get a whiff of this won’t even know it. “Oh yea, I’ve been baking for YEARS…”

And if you’re type A like me and need some more research, this article has GREAT tips and troubleshooting ideas: http://www.dianasdesserts.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/bakingtips.Brownies/Brownies.cfm

Conquering my fear of baking, take 1: 

Adapted from this amazing recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 tablespoons (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 16 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 bags heath toffee bits
Pretzel Crust
  • ~3-4 cups salted pretzels
  • 3/4 – 1 stick of butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

2. Line the inside of an 9×13 pan with foil. Lightly butter the bottom of the pan.

3. Melt butter in a large metal or glass mixing bowl, placed over a saucepan of water on low heat. Add the chocolate and stir by hand until it is melted and smooth.

4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla until combined. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Add the flour and stir energetically for 1 full minute—time yourself—until the batter loses its graininess, becomes smooth and glossy, and pulls away a bit from the sides of the saucepan. Stir in add-ins (toffee bits, toasted nuts, etc).

5. Crust: Melt butter. In a food processor, pulse pretzels until it becomes a coarse sandy texture. Add pretzel crumbs and sugar to melted butter. Mix until it forms a crumbly texture. Pack pretzel mixture into the bottom of the pan.

6. Scrape the brownie batter (it will be thick and difficult to spread) over the pretzel crumble and set in fridge for an hour or two. This supposedly helps create a crisp crust on top and a soft gooey center when baked. I like this combo in a brownie. feel free to skip the fridge step if you like.

7. Bake until the center feels almost set, about 30 minutes. Do not overbake. Toothpick should NOT come out clean from the center.

7. Let the brownie cool COMPLETELY in the pan. Lift the foil or parchment and the block of brownie out of the pan. Cut the brownie into squares. (The brownies will keep well for up to 4 days and can be frozen for 1 month.). Tastes better the next day! If you’re making this at night, tightly seal pan with aluminum foil and leave it on the counter over night and cut in the morning.

October 2, 2011

Spiced Zucchini Bread

Adapted from allrecipes.com

Zucchini bread

I’ve discovered turbinado sugar! Similar to brown sugar, turbinado sugar is less processed and ‘healthier’ than refined white sugar. It’s commonly seen in restaurants in packages under the name of “Sugar in the Raw”.  It’s a very course grain, so you’ll actually be using less sugar compared to an equal serving of refined white.  Another interesting fact about turbinado sugar is that it tends to retain more water, so baked goods come out super moist. For this recipe, make sure you drain your zucchini gratings to prevent sogginess! Also, if I was using normal brown sugar for this recipe, I’d cut it by half a cup, ’cause even with turbinado, this bread came out plenty sweet!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups grated unpeeled zucchini, drained
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups turbinado sugar*
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 whole clove, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce (2 4oz cups)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup crushed walnuts

*feel free to use 2 cups of brown sugar instead!

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease one 9×13 inch pan, or two bread pans.
  2. Place grated zucchini in a colander and set aside to drain. Press to get as much water out as you can!! You don’t want soggy zucchini bread.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl until well blended.
  4. Beat the eggs, applesauce, oil, and vanilla in a separate bowl until smooth.
  5. Fold in the flour mixture, then stir in the zucchini and walnuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. It’ll be pretty liquid-y. That’s ok. It’s a very moist cake.
  6. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, ~50 minutes, 1 hour if using bread pans. Allow to cool completely before cutting!

mmm… tastes like carrot cake.