Tuesday, November 25, 2014

White Chocolate Butterscotch Cookies

I made these cookies this past summer and I can't believe they haven't made it onto the blog until now!  I was in the mood to bake something new, so I starting flipping through some of my cookbooks.  This recipe looked interesting, and I had never made anything like it.  Definitely do not substitute for the dark brown sugar, as it is essential to the rich butterscotch flavor in these cookies.  I took these babies to work and they were beyond popular.  I had more than one person tell me that these were probably the best cookies they had ever tasted.  I highly recommend these, especially if you are looking to step outside the chocolate chip cookie box.
Adapted slightly from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook



1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup shortening, room temperature
1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
8 ounces best-quality white chocolate, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, shortening, and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. Beat in the egg and the vanilla until combined. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two batches, beating just until combined. Stir in the white chocolate.

4. Drop 2 tablespoons of dough at a time about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.  Bake until lightly golden brown around the edges, about 10-12 minutes.  Let cookies cool on sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Vanilla Wafer Cake

We were having a conversation about cakes at work a couple of weeks ago and one of my co-workers asked if I had ever made a vanilla wafer cake.  I had never heard of such a cake, and I was intrigued that crushed vanilla wafers were used in place of flour.  After doing more research online, it appears that many good southern kitchens have been baking this cake for generations.  There are two main versions of this recipe - one that uses butter and one that does not.  I opted to make the version with butter, although I would be interested to do a comparison with the butter-less cake as well.  The end result of this "research project" yielded a wonderfully moist, dense cake.  You would never know that there were crushed vanilla wafers in the batter!

Adapted from allrecipes.com

1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup pecans, chopped very fine (I used a food processor)
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
6 eggs
1 (12 ounce) package vanilla wafers, crushed very fine (I used a food processor)
1/2 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10-cup capacity bundt pan. I used a generous amount of baking spray with flour. Mix together the coconut and ground pecans; set aside. 

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the crushed wafers alternately with the milk. Mix in the coconut and ground pecans. Pour batter into prepared pan. 

3. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Southern Coconut Cake

I made this lovely cake for my birthday back in early July.  I had never made a coconut cake before, but I like coconut and I was up for trying something new.  Since there are only two of us in the house I decided to halve the recipe and bake the cakes in two 6-inch round pans.  While I'm sure we could have polished off a three-layer 8-inch round cake, we had just returned from a trip to Austin where we ate everything, so a little moderation wasn't such a bad idea.  This cake has a great coconut flavor, and the coconut milk keeps the layers from baking up dry.  If you can't find unsweetened coconut you can definitely use sweetened coconut for the topping.

Recipe adapted from Completely Delicious

5 large egg whites
1/2 cup (118 ml, 4 fl oz) whole milk
1 tablespoon coconut flavoring
3 cups (340 grams) cake flour
2 1/3 (470 grams) cups sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (237 ml, 8 fl oz) unsweetened coconut milk

12 ounces (340 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
5 1/2 cups (683 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
1-3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk or regular milk
1 1/2 teaspoon coconut flavoring
1 cup (85 grams) unsweetened coconut

1. For the cake - Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour three 8-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper.

2. Put the egg whites in a bowl and whisk slightly. Add the 1/2 cup milk and coconut flavoring and mix thoroughly. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and coconut milk and combine on low speed until moistened. Increase speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the egg white mixture in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl and mixing just long enough to incorporate between additions.

4. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

5. For the frosting - Beat together the butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar on medium high speed until light and creamy. Add the coconut flavoring and enough coconut milk (or regular milk) to reach a spreadable consistency. Mix until smooth.

6. Spread the coconut on a sheet pan. Toast in a 350 degree oven until golden, checking every 2 minutes. Watch it carefully, the coconut will burn fast. Let it cool completely.

7. Frost the cake and cover the frosted cake with the toasted coconut.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Chewy Toffee Blondies

These bars started with an impulse buy at the grocery store.  I was waiting in line to check out, and as I was standing there something caught my eye.  Heath candy bars were buy three, get two free!  If that's not a deal then I don't know what is.  Naturally, I grabbed five candy bars and tossed them into the shopping cart.  I decided that I needed to bake something with the candy bars, and these blondies seemed like the perfect vehicle for the job.  I chopped the candy quite coarsely, which paid off by leaving large in-tact chunks in the final product.  If you chop the candy too finely it may just melt into the bars and you will lose that classic toffee crunch.  Browning the butter imparts a rich, nutty flavor, but if you don't want to spend the time to do this, you can simply melt the butter and proceed.  These bars are sure to please any toffee lover!

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

8 ounces (1 stick) butter, browned
1 cup (7 3/4 ounces) brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (4 3/8 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup coarsely chopped Heath Bars (about 4 - 1.4 ounce bars)

1. Coat an 8 x 8 pan with non-stick spray or line with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Melt 1/2 cup butter in a 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.

3. In a large bowl, mix browned butter and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in egg, then add vanilla extract. Stir in salt and flour until just combined. Add the chopped candy bars and stir until just incorporated.

4. Pour and spread batter into prepared pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until set in the middle, taking caution not to overbake. Cool on a rack before cutting into bars.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Mini Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Mini muffins are undeniably cute, but I don't make them often because those mini muffin pans are such a pain to clean.  I had some old bananas lying around so I decided to give in to the lure of the mini muffin.  These are great warm from the oven, and they also freeze well.  You could definitely replace the mini chocolate chips with finely chopped walnuts or pecans if you prefer, and whole wheat flour may be substituted for up to half of the all-purpose flour.
Adapted from Taste of Home

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 medium very ripe bananas
1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat two mini muffin pans with non-stick spray, or grease the pans.

2. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. In another bowl, mash the bananas. Add egg, oil and vanilla; mix well. Stir the wet ingredeints into the dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in the chocolate chips. Fill mini muffin cups 3/4 full. 

3. Bake muffins for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Salty Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are pretty great, and you can never really have too many chocolate chip cookie recipes.  While I have a couple of favorites, I am always up for trying something new.  These cookies have a nice chewy bite, courtesy of the ground oats, and a subtle salty finish.  My husband, and toughest critic, really enjoyed these.  I took the bulk of the batch to work and they were well liked by the masses, with many people commenting on how much they liked the touch of salt.
Adapted from Grant

  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats 
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more for finishing)
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips 
  • - See more at: http://www.rachaelrayshow.com/recipe/18100_grant_s_chocolate_chip_cookies/index.html#sthash.vzgG5aG4.dpuf
    1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
    3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more for finishing)
    1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
    1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
    1 cup granulated sugar
    2 eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

    2. In a food processor, process oats until they become a coarse flour. In a bowl, whisk together the processed oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

    3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add eggs.  Increase speed and beat until eggs are fully incorporated into the batter.  Mix in vanilla.  Slowly add the dry ingredients in batches (to avoid making a mess), and beat just until the last of the dry ingredients are mixed in.  Stir in chocolate chips.

    4. Scoop cookie dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets.  Bake for 11-13 minutes until just set around the edges.  Sprinkle warm cookies with a little extra salt and allow to cool on the cookie sheets for five minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

    Monday, May 26, 2014

    Chewy Chocolate Chip Brownies

    I knew I wanted to bake something today, but I wasn't sure what that should be.  This morning I poured over several cookbooks and some food blogs, and I decided it was as good a time as any to continue on my quest to find the perfect brownie.  I am one of those people who prefer the fudgy brownie to the cakey brownie.  I have to say, this one is pretty darn good.  The recipe calls for browned butter, but I really couldn't taste the nutty flavor imparted by browning in the final product.  I think if you wanted to cut down on prep time you could definitely make these with plain old melted butter.  The final product is chocolatey, chewy, and worth every single calorie.

    Adapted from Cookie and Kate


    10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch chunks
    1 cup granulated sugar
    1/4 cup brown sugar
    3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
    2 cold large eggs
    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup chocolate chips

    1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F with a rack in the lower third of the oven. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with two criss-crossed pieces of parchment paper, making sure that the paper is long enough to go up the sides a couple of inches. Alternatively, line the pan with Reynolds pan-lining paper.

    2. Brown the butter: Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook the butter, while whisking constantly, until it’s a pale golden brown and the particles suspended in it are reddish brown. This usually takes about 10 minutes.  Be careful not to burn the butter!

    3. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the sugar, cocoa powder, sea salt, baking powder and espresso powder. Let the mixture cool for 5 minutes.

    4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating vigorously with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula after each one. When the mixture looks thick, shiny and well blended, add the vanilla extract and the flour. Stir until you no longer see streaks of flour. Then beat vigorously for 50 strokes with the wooden spoon or spatula.

    5. At this point, the mixture should be no more than slightly warm (if not, let it cool for a few more minutes). Fold in the chocolate chunks or chips - if the batter is too warm you will melt your chips and that would be sad.

    6. Spread the batter evenly in the lined pan. Bake on the lower rack for about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool the brownies in the pan on a baking rack.

    7. Once the brownies are completely cool, lift the edges of the parchment paper and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Use a sharp chef's knife to cut the brownies into 16 or 25 squares.

    Friday, May 2, 2014

    RumChata Cupcakes

    I was a little late to the party, but I have finally discovered RumChata.  I've heard it described as liquid Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and it is basically a creamy, sweet, cinnamon-flavored liqueur.  While RumChata is fabulous on its own, I really love the flavor it gives to both the cake and frosting.  The frosting is pretty sweet, but sometimes you just have to live a little bit!  Also, you may just want to add the sugar slowly and adjust the amount according to your tastes.  These cupcakes are for adults only and would be perfect for a girls night.

    Cake adapted from Annie's Eats 
    Frosting adapted from love.life. & creative things.

    YIELD - Approximately 30 cupcakes

    3 cups cake flour
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoons cinnamon
    16 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
    2 cups sugar
    5 large eggs, at room temperature
    1 1/4 cups RumChata, at room temperature
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
    8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    dash of salt
    5 tablespoons RumChata
    1 2-pound package powdered sugar

    1. For the cupcakes - Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Whisk together and set aside.  Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color, occasionally scraping down the sides.

    2. Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Combine the RumChata and the vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.

    3. Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way full (you will likely have batter left over after filling 24 wells).  Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans for five minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.  Replace paper liners and bake remaining batter if desired.

    4. For the frosting - In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth.  Add salt and vanilla extract and beat to combine.  Slowly add the powdered sugar and then begin to add the RumChata.  Depending on how think you like your frosting (or whether or not you use all of the powdered sugar) you may need to add more or less RumChata.  Once all the RumChata and powdered sugar have been added, continue mixing until light and fluffy.  Fill a piping bag or spread on the cooled cupcakes.

    Sunday, April 27, 2014

    Cinnamon Chip Scones

    I bought several bags of cinnamon chips this past holiday baking season, and these scones were definitely worth the use of some of my precious chips.  You can find cinnamon chips at some retailers during the non-holiday season if you are lucky, or you can always order them online.  These scones are delicious warm out of the oven, but they are also still tasty once cooled.  Don't skip the coarse sugar on top - it really adds something special.  Also don't let these terrible photos deter you.  The scones do not look like tumors in person!

    Adapted slightly from Taste of Home

    3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
    1/3 cup sugar
    2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    3/4 cup cold butter, cubed
    1 cup buttermilk
    1 package (10 ounces) cinnamon baking chips
    2 tablespoons butter, melted
    2 tablespoons coarse sugar

    1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in buttermilk just until moistened. Fold in chips. 

    2. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead gently 10-12 times or until dough is no longer sticky. Divide in half; gently pat or roll each portion into a 7-in. circle. Brush with butter and sprinkle with coarse sugar. 

    3. Cut each circle into six wedges. Separate wedges and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 10-13 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm.

    Sunday, February 9, 2014

    Apple Pecan Bread

    After perusing all of the new cookbooks I got for Christmas, I am now starting to work my way through the list I made of must-try recipes.  This bread appeared in the Better Homes and Gardens newest book, "Baking."  I made a couple of minor changes (added cinnamon, omitted raisins) and was pleased with the results.  I don't make a lot of quick breads outside of variations on banana, so this was a fun way to step outside the box.  The shredded apples keep the bread really moist, and the pecans and streusel provide a nice contrasting crunch.

    Apple Pecan Bread
    Adapted slightly from Better Homes and Gardens

    1/2 cup butter, softened
    1 cup sugar
    1/4 cup buttermilk
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    2 eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    2 cups all-purpose flour 
    3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 cups shredded, peeled apple (about 4 medium)
    1 cup chopped pecans
    1/4 cup packed brown sugar
    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    2 tablespoons butter
    1/3 cup chopped pecans
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of an 9x5x3-inch loaf pan; set aside. 
    2. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Beat in sugar until combined. Add buttermilk and baking powder; beat until combined. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until combined. Add flour, cinnamon, and salt; beat until combined. Stir in shredded apple and nuts. 
    3. Spoon batter into prepared pan; spread evenly. Sprinkle streusel topping over batter. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. 
    4. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Wrap and store overnight before slicing. Makes 1 loaf (14 servings).

    Tuesday, January 7, 2014

    Banana Bread Waffles

    This past weekend I decided it was time to restock my freezer waffle stash, but instead of making my usual whole wheat waffles I branched out and tried something new.  The addition of mashed banana and cinnamon really make for a fun twist on a breakfast standby.  These waffles are great served with maple syrup, but I think they are even better topped with some natural peanut butter and a little bit of honey.  This recipe made six and a half round waffles.  I froze the leftovers and they are still tasty when heated up in the toaster.  Next time you have a couple of old bananas sitting around I recommend giving this recipe a try.

    Adapted from Mother Thyme

    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1 cup whole wheat flour
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 cup milk
    2 ripe bananas, mashed (about 2/3 cup)
    2 large eggs
    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

    1. In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

    2. In a medium bowl mix milk, bananas, eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla extract.

    3. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until smooth and combined. Stir in nuts if using.

    4. Follow your waffle maker's manufacturer instructions to cook waffles. Serve as desired.

    Thursday, January 2, 2014

    Homemade Marshmallows

    Believe the hype. Homemade marshmallows are incredible! The internet is full of bloggers telling you how amazing homemade marshmallows are, how they are so much better than store-bought marshmallows, and how they really are worth the effort. I am here to tell you that these things are all true.  While I made a simple vanilla marshmallow, the candy can be flavored with any extract, making the flavor possibilities endless.  We enjoyed eating these plain, toasted (my favorite), and dipped in chocolate topped with crushed candy canes.  This recipe is easy to follow and yields great results.  I did end up making a little bit of a mess, but it was well worth the clean-up!

    From Alton Brown

    3 packages unflavored gelatin
    1 cup ice cold water, divided
    12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
    1 cup light corn syrup
    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
    1/4 cup cornstarch
    Nonstick spray

    1. Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.
    2. In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
    3. Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.
    4. Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
    5. When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
    6. Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.