Friday, December 31, 2010

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

These cookies are in all of my baking cookbooks and appear to be somewhat of a classic, but for some unknown reason I have never made them before.  The dough is more like a brownie batter, but it firms up enough to make cookie dough balls once it is refrigerated.  Do not skip the refrigeration step or you may end up with a big mess.  The finished cookie has a nice chewy, brownie-like texture and looks great as well.
Adapted slightly from King Arthur Flour

1 1/3 cups (8 ounces) chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter
2/3 cup (4 3/4 ounces) sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups (7 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup (or more) confectioners' sugar (for coating)

1. Place the chocolate and butter in a small saucepan or microwave-safe bowl, and heat or microwave until the butter melts.  Remove from heat and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth.

2. In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar, eggs, vanilla and espresso powder. Stir in the chocolate mixture, baking powder and salt, then the flour just until incorporated.

3. Chill the dough for 2-3 hours or overnight.  The dough will firm up considerably.

4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

5. Put about a cup of confectioners' sugar into a shallow bowl.  Scoop out heaping teaspoon-sized portions of dough and roll into balls (about 1 1/4 inch in diameter). Drop the dough balls in the confectioners' sugar as you go, coating about 5 or 6 balls at a time.

6. Place the coated dough balls on a parchment lined cookie sheet, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between the balls. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are set.  Cool on a wire rack.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Seven Layer Bars

There are seven layers of deliciousness in these bars, which makes for a super rich and decadent treat.  I generally cut them into fairly small squares because they are so sinful!  These were a lovely (and popular) addition to my holiday cookie tins this year.
 Let's review the seven layers.  Layer 1: graham cracker crumb crust.
Layer 2:  semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Layer 3:  butterscotch chips
Layer 4:  white chips.
Layer 5:  walnuts.
Layer 6:  sweetened condensed milk.
Layer 7: shredded coconut.
Simple and delicious!

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup white chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/3 cups shredded coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat a 13 x 9 inch pan with cooking spray or line pan with foil.

2. In a small bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs and melted butter until crumbs are moistened.  Press crumb mixture into bottom of prepared pan.

3. Layer chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, white chips, and walnuts over crumbs. Pour condensed milk over the chips and nuts.  Sprinkle coconut over the condensed milk.

4. Bake until edges are golden brown, about 25 minutes.  Cool completely before cutting.

Friday, December 24, 2010


These bars remind me of high school cross country (which was looong ago, I might add).  Every week before our meet, the team would have a spaghetti dinner and there were always scotcheroos for dessert.  I ate lots and lots of these bars in high school, and they continue to remain a favorite of mine.  These are not fancy, but the combination of crunchy cereal, smooth peanut butter, and the creamy chocolate topping is addicting!
From Nestle Classic Recipes

1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
6 cups toasted rice cereal
1 2/3 cups (11 ounces) butterscotch chips
1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Coat a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

2. Combine sugar and corn syrup in large saucepan.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until melted.  Add peanut butter and stir until peanut butter is melted and combined with the sugar mixture. Remove from heat.  Add cereal; stir until thoroughly coated. Press into bottom of prepared baking pan.

3. Microwave butterscotch chips and chocolate chips in large microwave-safe bowl for 1 minute; stir. Microwave at additional 10- to 20-second intervals, stirring until smooth. Spread over cereal mixture.

4. Refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes or until topping is firm. Cut into bars.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie

I am not sure if I have ever actually made a pecan pie before.  However, since I now live in the South, I feel like I should have a go-to pecan pie recipe (or chocolate chip pecan pie recipe).  I made this pie for a co-worker's last day at the office.  He is a native Texan, and of course he loves pecan pie.  This recipe turned out great, and my co-workers gave it a big thumbs up.  If you are feeling daring, you can add a tablespoon or two of bourbon to the filling mixture.

From Hannah's Kitchen

1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
1 prepared pie shell

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a bowl, beat together the corn syrup, sugar, butter, vanilla, and eggs.

3. In the bottom of the pie crust, neatly arrange pecans and sprinkle chocolate chips over the pecans. Slowly pour syrup mixture into the pie shell, on top of the pecans and chocolate chips.

4. Place pie on cookie sheet and bake for about 1 hour, checking after 45 minutes.

5. Pie is done when top is a deep golden brown and filling is set.  Cool completely before serving.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tunnel of Fudge Cake

This cake rose to popularity after the recipe was entered into the Pillsbury Bake-off sometime in the 1960s.  Pillsbury discontinued the packaged frosting mix that was used in the original recipe, so bakers everywhere (or maybe not everywhere - I have nothing to back this claim up) set out to re-create this classic.  The first time I attempted to make this cake I was using a terrible quality bundt pan, the cake didn't come out of the pan, disaster ensued, and I ended up with tunnel of fudge cake balls.  Now I have a nice, high quality Nordicware anniversary bundt pan, and all is right with the world.  The cake turned out to be deliciously dense and rich.  The fudge center tasted almost like brownie batter.  Do not omit the nuts from this recipe, as they are important to achieving the proper consistency.
 This picture isn't great, but it does a nice job of showing off the fudgy center.
Adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

1/2 cup boiling water
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups walnuts, chopped fine
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs, room temperature

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
1/3 cup heavy cream, hot
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch salt

1. Adjust oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan or spray pan liberally with bake release spray.

2. Whisk the boiling water and chopped chocolate together in a small bowl until melted and smooth.  Let the mixture cool slightly.  In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, nuts, confectioners' sugar, cocoa, and salt together.

3. In a large bowl, beat the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla together with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy - about 3-6 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined, about 1 minute. Beat i the chocolate mixture until combined, about 30 seconds. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly beat in the flour mixture until just incorporated, about 30 seconds.

4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Wipe any drops of batter off the sides and gently tap the pan on the counter to settle the batter. Bake the cake until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and the top feels springy when pressed with a finger, about 45 minutes.  Do not overbake.

5. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then flip it out onto a wire rack to cool. Let the cake cool completely, about 2 hours.

6. For the glaze, whisk all of the glaze ingredients together in a medium bowl until smooth. Let sit until thickened, about 25 minutes.

7. After the cake has cooled completely, drizzle the glaze over the top and sides of the cake.  Let the glaze set, about 25 minutes, before serving.