Monday, March 30, 2009

Browned Butter Blondies

The past few days I've been looking at recipes for blondies, and today I put together a winner! The key to rich flavor in these bars is browning the butter used in both the bar and the icing.
From Hannah's Kitchen

1/2 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 tablespoons milk

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Melt 1/2 cup butter in 2-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly and watching closely, until butter just begins to turn golden brown (about 6-8 minutes). Immediately remove from heat and cool 5 minutes. Stir in brown sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add flour, baking powder, and salt; stir until just combined. Fold in pecans.

3. Spread batter into greased 8-inch square baking pan (it will be thick). Bake for 22-26 minutes, or until bars are lightly browned and begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

4. Once bars are cooled, melt 1/4 cup butter in 1-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly and watching closely, until butter just begins to turn golden brown (about 4-6 minutes). Immediately remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.

5. Combine cooled browned butter, powdered sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in small bowl. Stir in enough milk for desired frosting consistency.

6. Spread frosting over cooled bars. Cut into bars.

Triple Chocolate Brownies

I made a batch of triple chocolate brownies this morning. The "triple" part comes from the semi-sweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, and cocoa powder. These were good, but I'm still hunting for something a little more fudgy.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Matthew in the Kitchen

Matt also made a pie for the pie party, and he waited until I was out of the house to get in the kitchen and get creative. It was quite a creative pie. He used a Jello no-bake Oreo pie mix, and then added peanut butter eggs, gummy worms, and the heads of cocoa Peeps (he cut the bodies off and ate those) to the pudding pie mixture. He topped the pie with chunks of Oreos and whole Peeps.

This is the completed pie.
It looks kind of cute from the outside.
Here is the inside of the pie. It may not have been the most conventional (or tasty) creation, but it was definitely the most talked about!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lemon Cream Cheese Pie

Yesterday I made this lemon cream cheese pie so I can take it to the pie eating party today. The lemon filling is bright and fresh, and is well-balanced by the cream cheese layer below.
First I made the lemon filling and let it cool to room temperature.
While the filling cooled I mixed up the cream cheese layer.
The cream cheese layer is then spread into the cooled pie shell.
Next, the lemon filling is spread on top of the cream cheese layer.
Make sure the lemon filling completely covers the cream cheese layer.
Finally, use the reserved cream cheese mixture to pipe decorations onto the pie.
The inside has two gorgeous layers.


1 baked 9-inch pie pastry
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1 cup water
2-3 drops yellow food coloring (optional)
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 whipped heavy cream (about 6 tablespoons cream, whipped)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and pinch of salt.
2. Stir in water, lemon juice, lemon zest, and food coloring (if using) and breing to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes, or until mixture is smooth and thickened.
3. Remove lemon mixture from heat, stir in butter, and cool to room temperature (about an hour).
4. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
5. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cream cheese mixture to be used for garnish.
6. Spread the remaining cream cheese mixture into the baked pastry shell.
7. Top with the cooled lemon filling.
8. Scoop the reserved 1/2 cup cream cheese mixture into a pastry bag with a star tip. Pipe stars onto the pie, or garnish with reserved cream cheese mixture as desired.
9. Chill in the fridge for a minimum of 8 hours, or overnight.
10. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Pie Crust

A bunch of my husband's grad school friends are getting together tomorrow afternoon to eat pie. Everyone is supposed to bring a pie, so I decided to bake mine this afternoon. Since I am making a filled pie with a lot of flavors, I figured I didn't have to do anything special for the crust. While I was at the grocery I grabbed a two-pack of Pillsbury frozen deep dish ready-to-bake crusts. I have used the Pillsbury crusts from the refrigerator section that you unroll, but this seemed even easier (and cheaper). I also wanted the disposable pie plate so I don't have to worry about bringing home my glass pie dish. As the pictures below show, these frozen crusts were a disaster! I only needed one, but after I followed the directions precisely and it came out cracked all over the place, I decided I better try again with the second crust. Horrible! I ended up breaking up those crusts into pieces and putting them in a freezer bag to be used for parfaits or ice cream topping. Then I washed out the disposable pie plates and made a from-scratch crust recipe that was billed as "no roll." It turned out MUCH better. I guess if you want something made right you really have to make it yourself!

Here is the beautiful homemade pie shell, baked and ready to be filled.
Here are the Pillsbury frozen disaster pie shells.

YIELD - 1 - 8" or 9" pie crust

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 tablespoons milk

1. Mix dry ingredients together with a fork in a pie pan.

2. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the oil and milk.

3. Mix with a fork until it is combined and makes a ball.

4. With your hands, flatten and press the dough into the pan and up the sides, fluting the edge.

5. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes until golden.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Big Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies

I may have finally found "the one." These jumbo size chocolate chip cookies are thick without being too cakey, and still soft without being undercooked. Delicious!
Look at the size of that big guy!
The insides are thick and gooey.


YIELD - 12 large cookies

8 ounces unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
3 cups bread flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Stir together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

Beat cold butter and sugars just until they come together. Do not overbeat! Add eggs and mix until combined. Then add flour and mix until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Dough should not be sticky, nor should it be dry and crumbly.

Divide dough into 12 rough mounds. Do not shape or smooth the mounds, as you will not get the craggy texture on the top of the cookie. Bake cookies, 6 at a time, on an ungreased insulated baking sheet for 20 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 10 minutes. Remove cookies to wire rack to cool.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Raspberry Cream Sandwiches

I needed to use up some white chocolate that was reaching the end of its life span, so I decided to make these raspberry cream sandwich cookies. The cookie is a basic vanilla sugar cookie, with white chocolate raspberry ganache sandwiched in the middle.
First, I baked and cooled the cookies.
Then I mixed up the ganache, let it chill, and stirred it again.
Ganache is spread on the bottom of one cookie before being topped with another.
The cookies are ready to eat.

Monday, March 23, 2009

"Perfect" Chocolate Chip Cookies

The new issue of Cooks Illustrated came in the mail today and contained a recipe titled "Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies." In my never ending quest to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie, I had to give these a try. Instead of creaming the butter and sugar until fluffy, the butter is browned and whisked with the sugars. This resulted in a very rich and buttery cookie. Matthew, my official taste tester, thought the cookies might be a little too rich and buttery. I liked them a lot, but there is always room for improvement and the search for my perfect cookie continues.

Coconut Macaroons

This afternoon I made coconut macaroons.
I drizzled chocolate glaze over some of them.

2 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 tablespoon sugar
2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.

3. Form mixture into 1 1/2 tablespoon size mounds and place on prepared baking sheet, spacing about one inch apart.

4. Bake until golden brown, about 15-17 minutes.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cuban Bread

This morning I baked two loaves of Cuban bread, and I have already eaten half of one of the loaves. The recipe is for beginner-level bread bakers so give it a try. You can either knead the dough by hand, or use the dough hook on your mixer. There is nothing like fresh bread right from the oven!
From Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads

YIELD - 2 plump loaves

5 to 6 cups of bread or all-purpose flour, approximately
2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups hot water (120-130 degrees F)
Sesame or poppy seeds (optional)

1. This recipe requires one baking sheet, Teflon, greased, or sprinkled with cornmeal, or lined with parchment paper.

2. Mixing - Place 4 cups flour in a large mixing bowl and add the yeast, salt, and sugar. Stir until they are well blended. Pour in the hot water and beat with 100 strong strokes, or 3 minutes with a mixer flat beater. Gradually work in the remaining flour (using fingers if necessary), 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough takes shape and is no longer sticky.

3. Kneading - Sprinkle the work surface with flour. Work in the flour as you knead, keeping a dusting of it between the dough and the work surface. Knead for 8 minutes by hand or with a dough hook until the dough is smooth, elastic, and feels alive under your hands.

4. Rising - Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and put in a warm place (80-100 degrees F) until double in bulk, about 15 minutes.

5. Shaping - Punch down the dough, turn it out on the work surface, and cut into 2 pieces. Shape each into a round. Place on the baking sheet. With a sharp knife or razor, slash an X on each of the loaves, brush with water, and, if desired, sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds.

6. Baking - Place the baking sheet on the middle shelf of a cold oven. Place a large pan of hot water on the shelf below, and heat the oven to 400 degrees F. The bread, or course, will continue to rise while the oven is heating. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until the loaves are a deep golden brown. Thump on the bottom crusts to test for doneness. If they sound hard and hollow, they are baked. (If using a convection oven, reduce heat 50 degrees).

7. Turn the loaves out onto metal racks and cool before slicing. It freezes well.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am still searching for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever, so I try lots of them in hopes that "the one" will be found. These were good, but not the best ever, so I will keep trying and tinkering with new recipes.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Chocolate Cake Balls

I had some leftover chocolate cake in the freezer that was taking up space so I defrosted it and made cake balls. Cake balls are essentially crumbled cake, mixed with frosting, rolled into balls, and dipped in candy coating. Most recipes on the internet call for a boxed cake mix and canned frosting, but I used leftover homemade cake and homemade chocolate frosting. Below I have posted a basic recipe for cake balls made with boxed mix and canned frosting. You can substitute any flavor cake mix and frosting, and you can use any flavor candy coating as well.
After the crumbled cake is mixed with frosting, it is shaped into balls. I put them in the freezer to harden before they are dipped.
Next, the chilled cake balls are dipped in melted candy coating and placed on wax paper to harden.
Then, I melted some white candy coating to decorate them.


1 (18.25 ounce) package chocolate cake mix
1 (16 ounce) container prepared chocolate frosting
1 (24 ounce) package chocolate flavored confectioners coating

1. Prepare cake mix according to package directions using any of the recommended pan sizes. When cake is done and has cooled for at least 30 minutes, crumble into a large bowl and stir in the frosting until well blended.

2. Melt chocolate coating in a glass bowl in the microwave, or in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.

3. Use a small scoop to form balls of the cake and frosting mixture. Dip the balls in chocolate using a toothpick or fork to hold them. Place on waxed paper to set. Decorate with additional candy coating if desired.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Italian-Style Almond Biscotti

This evening I was craving some crunchy biscotti so I whipped these up. American-style biscotti have more fat in them, yielding a less crisp cookie, while the Italian-style have very little fat, resulting in a much crisper cookie. This recipe is for basic biscotti, which can be dressed up with nuts, dried fruit, anise, or mini chocolate chips.
First, the dough is shaped into a log and baked.
The dough then cools on the baking sheet before slicing.
Next, the log is cut into slices.
The slices are placed back on the baking sheet for a second trip to the oven.
The cookies are then cooled on a rack and ready to eat.

From The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion

YIELD - 14 to 16 biscotti

2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.

2. In a medium bowl beat the eggs, sugar, baking powder, salt, and extract until creamy looking; the mixture will be light-colored and as thick as pancake batter. Lower the mixer speed and add the flour, beating gently just until it's totally incorporated.

3. Transfer the dough to a prepared baking sheet and shape it into a log about 14 inches long, 3 inches wide, and 3/4 inch thick.

4. Bake the dough for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan for 5 to 25 minutes. Five minutes before cutting, use a pastry brush to very lightly coat the log with water. This will make slicing easier.

5. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F. After 5 minutes have elapsed, cut the biscotti into 1/2- to 3/4-inch slices.

6. Set biscotti upright onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer cookies to rack to cool.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bittersweet Chocolate Souffles

Tonight I made souffles for the first time and they turned out great!
From Cooking Light Magazine - January 2002

YIELD - 8 servings

Cooking spray
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup 1% lowfat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks
4 large egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat 8 (4-ounce) ramekins with cooking spray, and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, cocoa, flour, and salt in a small saucepan. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook until thick (about 3 minutes), stirring constantly. Remove from heat; let stand 3 minutes. Gradually stir in vanilla and egg yolks. Spoon chocolate mixture into a large bowl; cool.

Place egg whites in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Gradually add 1/4 cup granulated sugar and cream of tartar, beating mixture until stiff peaks form. Gently stir one-fourth of egg white mixture into chocolate mixture; gently fold in remaining egg white mixture and the chopped chocolate. Spoon into prepared ramekins.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until puffy and set. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve immediately.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Orchestra Cookies

Per Aaron's request, I made cookies and brought them to our orchestra rehearsal last night. I think everyone enjoyed them, and there were none left when rehearsal ended.

I made one batch of snickerdoodles...
...and one batch of oatmeal chocolate chip.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Blueberry Muffins

This morning I made blueberry muffins for Matthew for breakfast.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons coarse sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease 12 muffin cups or line with muffin liners.

2. Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Create a well in the flour mixture and add the oil, egg, and milk. Stir just until combined. Fold in blueberries.

3. Fill muffin cups and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of coarse sugar (or more to taste).

4. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until light golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

5. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove muffins and place on cooling rack.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Christmas Cookies 2008

I made a lot of cookies this past Christmas.

Coconut washboards with almond icing.
Raspberry almond pinwheels and orange chocolate rounds.
Chocolate cherry drops, orange vanilla rounds, and pecan cookies.
Peach crumb bars and lemon poppyseed melts.
Chocolate cookies with mint chocolate chips.
Toffee and chocolate chip bars.
Monster cookies, chocolate dream cookies, and oatmeal cookies with cranberries and white chips.