Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love toffee so I am always drawn to the toffee bits on the baking aisle. Needless to say, I now have several packages of toffee bits in my pantry. This seemed like a good way to use some of them up!


From Hannah's Kitchen

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 bag (8 ounces) toffee bits
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large mixer bowl, cream butter, shortening, sugar, and brown sugar. Beat in vanilla and eggs. Gradually add flour mixture, beating just until combined. Stir in toffee bits and chocolate chips.

4. Drop cookies by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheet for at least 5 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Apple Cherry Pie Pockets - Pillsbury Bake-Off 2009

These little pies represent my entry into this year's Pillsbury Bake-Off competition. Even my pickiest taste tester (who also happens to be my husband) thought they were really delicious!
From Hannah's Kitchen

YIELD - 6 Pies

1 box (15 ounces) Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust
4 medium Gala apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (about 4 cups)
3/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 dash salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons coarse sugar (turbinado works well)
6 tablespoons Smuckers caramel ice cream topping

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Peel, core, and chop apples and place in a 2-quart saucepan. Add cherries, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, butter, flour, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons water, and vanilla extract. Stir and cook over medium heat until apples start to soften and release their juices, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Unroll the two pie crusts and cut each crust in half, then cut each half into thirds, resulting in 12 triangle-shaped pieces of pie dough.

4. In a small bowl, combine the eggs and 1 tablespoon water to create an egg wash.

5. Place 6 triangles of dough onto a flat work surface and brush the edges of each piece with the egg wash. Spoon apple mixture into centers of each triangle, being careful not to pile too high (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the mixture should fit). Spread mixture evenly to within 1/4 inch of the edge of the dough.

6. Place the remaining 6 triangles of dough on top of each of the 6 triangles on the work surface. Carefully press the edges together to seal each triangle. Then use a fork to crimp the edges all the way around each triangle.

7. Brush each of the 6 filled triangles with egg wash and sprinkle with 1/2 tablespoon of coarse sugar. Carefully place each triangle on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Using a sharp knife, cut a 1-inch slit in the middle of each pie pocket to allow steam to escape when baking.

8. Bake the pie pockets for 15-17 minutes, or until light golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool further. Pies may be served warm or cooled.

9. When pies are ready to be served, place each triangle on a plate and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of the caramel ice cream topping.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Chocolate Raspberry Crumb Bars

My Mom has been making these bars for years. They are easy to make and oh so decadent! If you don't like nuts, feel free to omit them - the bars are still delicious without them.
From Nestle Toll House

YIELD - 36 bars

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

2. Beat butter in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in flour, sugar, and salt until crumbly. With floured fingers, press 1 3/4 cups crumb mixture onto bottom of prepared baking pan; reserve remaining mixture.

3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

4. Microwave 1 cup chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in medium, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on high power for 1 minute; stir. Chips may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted. Spread over hot crust.

5. Stir nuts into reserved crumb mixture; sprinkle over chocolate filling. Drop teaspoonfuls of raspberry jam over crumb mixture. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips.

6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Monster Cookies

I was planning on shipping some treats in the mail, and since this cookie is fairly sturdy I thought it would travel well and be a nice addition to my package of goodies. I have made these cookies numerous times and they are always a crowd favorite. The M&M's can be mixed right into the batter, but I think it is more visually appealing to set them on top of the cookies before they bake.

Adapted Slightly From The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion

3 large eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon corn syrup
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
4 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
3/4 cup M&M's (mini or regular size)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment (or lightly grease).

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugars, vanilla, corn syrup, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the melted butter, then the peanut butter, oats, and flour, mixing until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chips and candy. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes so the oats can absorb some of the butter.

3. Drop by scant 1/4-cupfuls onto the prepared baking sheets. Use your fingers to flatten cookies slightly, then bake for 12 minutes, until cookies are a light golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Peach Crumble Bars

These buttery bars can be made with any flavor jam or preserves you choose.

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup peach preserves

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one 8-inch square pan and line with greased foil.

2. Combine brown sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, and rolled oats. Rub in the butter using your hands or a pastry blender to form a crumbly mixture. Press 2 cups of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread preserves to within 1/4 inch of the edge. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the top, and lightly press it into the preserves.

3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool before cutting into bars.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Chocolate Eclairs

Today I made mini eclairs with chocolate ganache glaze. It was my first time attempting to make pate a choux dough so I was ready for an adventure. I used Gale Gand's recipe from Food Network and it turned out pretty well.
First I made the pastry cream and let it chill in the refrigerator.
Then I mixed up the pate a choux, piped the dough onto a baking sheet, and baked up the shells.
After the shells cooled, I filled a pastry bag with pastry cream and filled the shells.
The filled shells were then dipped in the ganache glaze.
Finally, the eclairs were placed on a baking sheet in the refrigerator to set.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Cranberry Oatmeal White Chip Cookies

These are my mom's favorite cookies. I often halve this recipe, but I made a full batch during my visit to Ames so Mom could stock-pile the freezer.

From Hannah's Kitchen

1 cup butter, softened (may substitute shortening)
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups (1-6 ounce package) dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined.

3. In a small bowl combine the cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and flour. Gradually add to sugar mixture until just combined.

4. Stir in the oatmeal, dried cranberries, and white chocolate chips.

5. Drop by tablespoon-size cookie scoop onto cookie sheets lined with parchment and bake for 8-10 minutes, just until the edges are lightly golden. Cool cookies on the sheet for 2-3 minutes and then transfer to cooling rack.

Double Chocolate Walnut Cookies

I got this recipe from an old Toll House cookbook my parents have had on their bookshelf for years. These made a nice chocolate cookie.

From The Nestle Toll House Cookbook

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 packets (1 ounce each) Nestle choco bake pre-melted unsweetened chocolate
1 package (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

2. In a large bowl cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add Choco Bake and mix until completely incorporated. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chips and nuts.

3. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges are set but centers are still soft. Cool on baking sheets for 2-3 minutes and remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Apple Pie Pockets

I am working on a recipe for the Pillsbury Bakeoff, so I can't share the recipe yet, but here are some photos of my apple pie pockets. I tested this recipe on my parents and brother and everyone seemed to enjoy them.
Cooling pies.
I made a small pie with the extra crust and filling and added an oatmeal crumb topping.
There were deer in my parent's backyard keeping an eye on me while I was baking.

Red Velvet Cake Balls

I just returned home after visiting my family in Ames, Iowa for a few days. I gave my Mom a lesson on how to make cake balls, and this is the result of our efforts.
Our process:
Mom crumbled the cake, leaving the crusty edges in the pan to be snacked on later.
We added cream cheese frosting to the cake crumbles and formed them into balls.
We dipped the balls in chocolate and decorated them with melted white chips.
Then we put them in mini paper baking cups and sampled our treats.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ultimate Brownies

My quest for the best brownie may have ended today. These are awesome! I adapted the recipe from Ina Garten's recipe for Outrageous Brownies. I also learned how important it is to follow this recipe and chill the brownies in the pan in the refrigerator before trying to handle them. After the brownies cooled in the pan for 2 hours I took them out of the pan to try a little piece, thinking I would just pick up the 8" x 8" square on a sheet of wax paper and move it to the fridge. Unfortunately, I tried to stick my hand under the uncut brownies to lift them and a huge chunk (about a third) broke off and fell directly on top of my dog, Zeus, who happened to be standing right under me feet! Needless to say, he hated it, and then I had to scramble around to pick everything up so he couldn't eat any of the mess. The only saving grace in the whole disaster was how delicious the brownies were!
Zeus has fully recovered from being hit with falling brownies. At least they were cool!
Adapted From The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

10 tablespoons butter
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 eggs
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour, plus 4 teaspoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil and coat with cooking spray.

2. Melt together the butter, 2/3 cup chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, instant espresso, vanilla, and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to warm temperature.

3. Stir together 1/3 cup flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the remaining 2/3 cup chocolate chips with the 4 teaspoons flour to coat, then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.

4. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Do not over-bake! Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into squares.