Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More from the Cookie Exchange

Time for another cookie recipe.






















I took a few days off from posting cookie recipes. Not because I don't have any left, but because I have been busy just like everybody else this holiday season. The past two and half weeks have seemed to fly by, except for the hours I spend at work which seem to drag on and on. This tends to happen when I have something to look forward to. Right now, like many of you, I have a lot to look forward to. Not only is Christmas next week and I am taking two weeks off from work, but I am also going to visit my boyfriend's family in West Virginia (which I love doing) and my sister is getting married on December 27th in New Orleans. I happen to be her Maid of Honor and am getting pretty excited for her big day.

It only seemed appropriate that I save this recipe for when I mentioned my sister's wedding. These are Mexican Wedding Cookies. I have had these a couple times here and there growing up, but not any time recently. Then my friend Maria brought theses cookies to the cookie exchange I hosted. They are great little cookies; buttery, sweet, and nutty.

I don't get too many comments on these posts most days, but in the spirit of the Holidays how about sharing what you are looking forward to most in the next few weeks.

Mexican Wedding Cookies
recipe from Maria Vastola

1 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts (can use pecans as well)
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Stir in vanilla and water. Add the flour and almonds, mix until blended. Cover and chill for 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Shape dough into balls or crescents. Place on an unprepared cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from pan to cool on wire racks. When cookies are cool, roll in confectioners' sugar. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Easy Oreo Truffles

From the cookie exchange






















The best way to describe these treats are simple and delicious. They contain three ingredients and take moments to make. I saw these online Bakerella's site and thought to send the link to my friend Cat. She made them for the cookie exchange and they were a hit! To enhance the holiday theme she used mint Oreos which really made them special. I definitely recommend these to anybody who loves Oreos or Cakeballs. They really could not be any easier so they are great for a beginner cook. My one tip would be to not use white chcolate chips to coat these if you have not worked with it before; it is much easier to use chocolate bark.

Oreo Truffles
made by Catherine Feldtmose, recipe from Bakerella

1 package oreo cookies (divided… use cookie including the cream center)
1 8oz. package cream cheese, softened
white chocolate bark (milk or dark chocolate woulf also be good)

Finely crush 7 cookies in a food processor or place them in a ziploc bag and crush into a fine consistency. Reserve for later. Crush remaining cookies and stir in softened cream cheese. Use the back of a large spoon to help mash the two together. Roll the mixture into 1" balls and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet. Melt chocolate as directed on the package and then dip balls into chocolate, tap off extra and set aside on wax paper covered cookie sheet to dry. You can sprinkle the tops with the 7 crushed cookies for decoration (Cat used red and green sprinkes). Once dry, refrigerate and enjoy!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Chocolate Nut Shortbread Cookies

Another recipe from the cookie exchange...





















My friend Farah brought these cookies to my cookie exchange party this past weekend. These cookies are everything you want in a shortbread. Believe it or not I never really knew I was a shortbread fan until this past year. Now I can not get enough and these cookies fit the bill. You can top them with any kind of nut or morsel. Farah used chocolate chips and peanuts which were the perfect addition to the shortbread. I hope you can give them a try sometime.

Chocolate Nut Shortbread Cookies
cookies by Farah Gilani, recipe from JoyofBaking.com

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons rice flour or cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup toasted and chopped nuts (hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, or almonds )(see note)
1 ounce coarsely chopped semisweet, bittersweet, milk, or white chocolate (you can also use chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) with the rack in the middle of the oven. Have ready a baking sheet that is either buttered or lined with parchment paper.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter and sugar until smooth (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. In a separate bowl whisk together the all purpose flour, rice flour, and salt. Add this mixture to the butter and sugar mixture and beat just until incorporated.

Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and form into an 8 1/2 inch (21 cm) round. Gently press the chopped nuts and chopped chocolate into the dough.

Place in the preheated oven and bake until it is golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Note: To toast pecans, walnuts, and almonds - Spread on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree F (180 degree C) oven for about 8 to 10 minutes. The nuts are done when they are light golden-brown in color and fragrant. Cool completely before using. To toast hazelnuts - Spread on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree F (180 degree C) oven for about 15 minutes or until fragrant and the skins begin to flake. Remove from oven and place the hot nuts in a dish towel. Roll up the towel and let the nuts sit (steam) for a few minutes then rub the nuts in the towel briskly to remove the skins. Let cool before using. (Toasting the hazelnuts not only removes the bitter skins but also enhances the sweet, rich, buttery flavor of the nut.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies

Just like mom used to make...






















As far back as I can remember my mom has made spritz cookies for Christmas. She would make hundreds and hundreds of these cookies. She would fill decorative tins and then give them away as gifts. I remember one year, we found a tin full of these little cookies months after Christmas and they looked like they were baked the day before. Now, they were hard as rocks, but still adorable. Since I am not going to be home with my mom around Christmas this year (we are going to New Orleans for my sister's wedding), I decided I would make these spritz cookies for my cookie exchange party. The cookies are simple and not too sweet. You can easily eat a dozen before you realize. I hope you enjoy my family tradition!

Christmas Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies
adapted from Allrecipes.com

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup butter
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Mix together the flour, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.


In a medium bowl, cream together butter and cream cheese. Add sugar and egg yolk; beat until light and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. If desired, decide the dough in half and add food coloring to the halves until you reach the desired color (I used about 8 drops of green food dye). Fill a cookie press or pastry bag with dough, and form cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with colored sugar or sprinkles to decorate.


Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the cookies are golden brown on the peaks and on the bottoms. Remove from cookie sheets at once to cool on wire racks.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Big Soft Ginger Cookies

More from the Cookie Exchange
























As promised, here is the second recipe from the Cookie Exchange I hosted this past weekend. These cookies were made by my friend Marjorie and I can vouch they were more impressive than they look. By appearances alone, they make seem a little boring, but the flavor is exceptional. They have all the sweetness and spice of a traditional gingerbread cookie without the dryness. They really do speak to their name "Big Soft Ginger Cookie. My friend who made these and I were talking earlier this week and think the cookies would also be good with a glaze drizzle. If you go that route it is really only for looks, because the taste is great as is.

Big Soft Ginger Cookies
cookies by Marjorie Gidner, recipe from Allrecipes.com

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup margarine, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.


In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.


Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

The first cookies from the exhange.























These cookies are brought to you by my lovely friend Maria. Unfortunately I never got a chance to taste these cookies. I did not eat one yesterday because I was stuffed. Apparently they must have been good because they were the first to go at work. Now without further adieu, the recipes is below.

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies
recipe from Maria Vastola

1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 egg
2 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pkg. Hershey's Kisses, unwrapped (any kind, but Maria used Caramel Kisses and Hugs)

Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit. Combine ingredients. Roll into 1" balls, roll balls in sugar. Bake on cookie sheet for about 10-12 minutes. Top with chocolate Kiss immediately upon removal from oven.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Keep the Cookies Coming....

Christmas Cookies....
























So I hope you guys like cookies because you are going to be inundated with them over the next couple weeks. Today I hosted a cookie exchange with some girlfriends and managed to take photos of each of their cookies. I am going to post every few days to make sure they all get posted by Christmas. To start the cookie parade, these cookies are traditional Chocolate Crinkle Cookies. They were not part of the cookie exchange; I actually made these for a co-worker last week. Make sure to check back every few days for the cookie exchange recipes.

You see we had been working crazy hours back in October and early November. Now when I say crazy, I mean crazy. We did not have a day off for almost a month, we often worked 15+ hour days, and I even had to work on my birthday (which was a Saturday). So when we were working these long hours I told my co-workers I would make each of them a special treat; whatever they requested. This one co-worker only requested a chocolate cookie so this is what I went for. I am not a huge powder sugar person and thought these cookies were good, but not the best I ever had or anything. Well the people at work thought otherwise. In fact one person told me they were the best thing I ever brought in. They were gone before I knew it.

Link Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
adapted from Allrecipes.com

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar


In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, white sugar, and vegetable oil. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture. Cover dough, and chill for at least 4 hours or in the freezer for one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into half inch balls. Coat each ball in confectioners' sugar before placing onto prepared cookie sheets.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool. Makes approximately 72 cookies.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pumpkin Whoopie Pie

Just in time for Thanksgiving






















I had been planning on making these for quite sometime. I originally wanted to make then in the beginning of October. When that did not happen I figured I would make them for Halloween. When Halloween passed and I had not make then I decided I would make them for Thanksgiving, and alas I actually made them.

Whoppie Pie is definitely a regional dessert so I had never tried it growing up. I am not sure when I first heard of it, but it sounded like something I would like. For those of you that are unaware of what exactly Whoopie Pie is, it is essentially two cake like cookies sandwiched with some time of frosting. I think the most traditional flavor is Chocolate Cookies with Vanilla Cream centers. If you have seen Oreo Cakesters, I believe they are Oreo's version of Whoopie Pie. So when I saw recipes popping up for Pumpkin Whoopie Pie I knew it was time for me to try them out. I throughly enjoyed these cookies/cakes/pies (not sure what to call them) and will likely be making them again next year for Thanksgiving. I will have to see how well they go over with the crowd. If you like pumpkin pie, cake, bread, or muffins you will definitely like these.

As most of you know by now, normally post once a week, generally on weekends. I wanted to make sure I got this recipe posted before Thanksgiving. I am not sure if I will be posting this weekend since I am posting this recipe now. If I am lucky I will get some more recipes from my boyfriend's mom while we are visiting this week. I hope everybody has a Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pie with Cream Cheese Filling
Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Pumpkin Whoopie Cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 TBSP cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground fresh nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup canola oil
3 cups chilled pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare to baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the sugars and oil together. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined.
Drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on the pan while you make the filling. They will look more like mini cakes then cookies.

Cream Cheese Filling

3 cups powdered sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or with hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth with no visible lumps. Add the cream cheese an beat until combined.
Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Be careful not to overbeat the filling, or it will lose structure.

To assemble:
Turn half the cooled cookies upside down. Drop spoonfuls of filling (about a tablespoon) onto that half. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spread to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Put the whoppie pies in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm before serving. Makes about 2.5 dozen.

Monday, November 24, 2008

White Chocolate Chip Apricot Scones

A whole new kind of scone.

















I was never a scone person. In fact I never really understood why anybody would enjoy a scone when they could have a muffin or some other type of tasty breakfast pastry. As far as I knew, scones were hard and dry and only enjoyed when dipped in coffee or tea. Then I ate one of these White Chocolate Chip Apricot Scones prepared by my boyfriend's mother. As I have mentioned in earlier posts, she is the absolute best baker. I am counting down the minutes until I get to enjoy her Thanksgiving Feast. Anyway, back to the scones. These scones are nowhere near dry or hard. They are soft, moist, and almost biscuit like. You can really use any dried fruit as a mix-in and can use any type of chip or even leave them out. I think I may try walnut and dried cranberry scones next time. Next time you want to make a muffin give these a try instead and you will not be disappointed.

White Chocolate Chip Apricot Scones
from Teresa Miller

Scones:
2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons orange zest or lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped dried apricot (or any other dried fruit)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups whipping cream (heavy cream)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, orange zest, salt, dried fruit, and vanilla chips (by hand). Pour in whipping cream. Mix or knead by hand, just until combined (about 45 second). Mix will be sticky. Flour surface. Pat dough to an eight inch round. Note: Score first with a knife into 4ths , then 8ths. Then cut and put on a greased large cookie sheet. Bake 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool five minutes, then frost.

Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons orange juice or lemon juice

Mix together until a thin icing consistency to pour over warm scones.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Holiday Almond Spritz Cookies

I can not eat just one...

















I actually made these for a Halloween Party which just goes to show how behind I am on posting. In fact today I questioned if I wanted to even wanted to post this. I decided I would go ahead and post them because you can really make these cookies for any occasion or holiday. All you have to do is alter the shape of the cookie using any desired cookie press disk and pick the sprinkles or colored chocolate to match. I used almond extract in these cookies, but you could use vanilla, orange, coconut, lemon, etc. I am a huge fan of almond flavoring so that is almost always what I use when I make these. You can see from the photo above I made one batch using an oval cookie disk. I sandwiched two cookies together using melted chocolate and rolled the edges in sprinkles. In the photo at the end of the post I used a pumpkin shaped disk and drizzled the cooled cookies with orange and green colored candy melts.

Holiday themed Almond Spritz Cookies
modified from Williams-Somona

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Beat together the butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, and almond extract on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low and add flour a little at a time, beating until well blended.

Fill a cookie press with dough according to its instructions and fit it with the desired-shape disk. Press the dough out onto an ungreased cookie sheet, spacing the cookies 1 inch apart.

Bake until the cookies are firm to touch, about 10 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool. Cookies may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days. Makes 36 cookies (half as many if you sandwich them together the way I did).

If desired, sprinkle the cookies prior to baking with colored sugar or sprinkles. Other decorating options include baking the cookies as directed above, letting them cool, and drizzling them with colored chocolate.

Friday, November 7, 2008

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Chocolate Cookies

Mmmmm.
























So I have busy lately...really busy. I have been working crazy hours and really barely have the energy to get this post up tonight. I really wanted to keep my promise to myself to post once a week so I apologize for the lack of content.

If you read my earlier post for my Pecan Pie Cupcakes you will remember that I received a free shipment from Oh! Nuts, an online retailer of nuts, candies, dried fruits, and a multitude of other offerings. When I found out I was going to receive a shipment of macadamia nuts I knew I wanted to make these cookies. They were the perfect combination of chocolate and nuts with the smooth flavor of the white chocolate chips.

White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Chocolate Cookies
adapted from Nestle Tollhouse
Link
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 package instant vanilla pudding
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) white chocolate chips
2 cups chopped macadamia nuts

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and instant pudding in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by well-rounded teaspoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 8 to 11 minutes or until centers are set. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

The best of both cookies.

















I used to make chocolate chip cookies all the time. In fact I would bake them weekly during college football season. So the other night my boyfriend mentioned I had not made chocolate chip cookies in a while. I wanted to make them, but I had already posted my recipe this past summer. I wanted something similar, but not quite the same. I opened the cabinet and found an unopened jar of Jif. When it comes to eating peanut butter on an everyday basis we only eat all- natural peanut butter. The Jif is purely there for baking; it was a sign. I found a recipe on Allrecipes and went with it. This recipe made 32 cookies. I brought 29 of them to work on a Monday morning. Tuesday morning there were only 2 cookies left. I guess you can say people like them.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Allrecipes

1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).


In a large bowl, cream together the peanut butter, butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until well blended. Beat in the egg, milk, and vanilla one at a time. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into creamed mixture. Mix in chocolate chips. Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are lightly browned.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Brownie Pops and Cupcake Balls

Adorable and delicious!





















I have been so busy with work lately I have been getting behind in my posts. I have managed to get a post up every week, which is my goal, but I have two posts waiting in the wings when I finish this one. Anyhow, I made the above brownie pops with a dear friend of mine a couple weekends ago. She was going attending a dinner party the following evening and wanted to bring something that would impress. We decided to make brownie pops, based off an idea we saw on the Williams-Sonoma and also attempted to make some Cupcake balls like that seen on Cakespy and Bakerella. We were definitely in the kitchen the better part of the afternoon and into the evening, we did make 72 of these things after all, but we had a lot of fun.

For this batch we chose to make white cake with dulce de leche for the Cupcake Balls and Brownies for the ghosts and pumpkins. I am a big fan of cake balls, but let me be the first to say the brownies were even better!

Dulce De Leche Cupcake Balls and Halloween Brownie Pops

1 box white cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
16 oz. jar dulce de leche

1 pan of your favorite brownies, the more fudge-like the better

Assorted candy melts:
1 package white chocolate candy melts
1 package orange candy melts
1/2 package green candy melts
1/2 package chocolate candy melts

Edible Markers
Assorted Sprinkles/Decorations

Bake cake according to package directions. As soon cake is cooked crumble into a large bowl. Mix the bowl of crumbled cake thoroughly with the dulce de leche.

Bake brownies according to your recipe or package directions. As long as the brownies are fudgy you can wait to roll them in to balls.

Roll each mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet lined with wax paper (Should make approximately 75). Chill for several hours (you can speed this up by putting in the freezer).

To make pumpkins:

Melt green and orange chocolate in microwave in 30 second intervals stirring in between. When chocolate is completely melted, dip one end of a lolly-pop stick into the green chocolate and then insert it into the brownie or cakeball. Let chocolate harden. Continue to roll balls in orange chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. When the chocolate has hardened you can use edible markers to draw faces on the pumpkins. Unfortunately the markers I bought did not work, but perhaps yours will work.

To make mummies:

Insert lolly-pop stick into brownie or cakeball. Melt white chocolate in microwave in 30 second intervals stirring in between. When chocolate is completely melted roll balls in white chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. When the chocolate has hardened decorate with drizzled chocolate. Place white chocolate in a sandwich bag on a microwave safe dish and microwave in 30 second intervals moving the chocolate around between. Using scissors, cut the very tip off the sandwich bag. The smaller your cut, the smalled the drizzle. Use the sandwich bag to pipe the chocolate back and forth over the hardened chocolate ball. Use round sprinkles or colored chocolate for eyes.

To make cupcake balls or pops I would follow these directions from Bakerella.























We also made monsters with the left over green chocolate. We rolled the pops in green and used sprinkles to give them faces. Below is a picture of my friend Sarah with some of the Monster Pops.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pecan Pie Cupcakes

Oh! Nuts















This past month I was lucky enough to be contacted by a marketing representative from Oh! Nuts, an online retailer of nuts, candies, dried fruits, and a multitude of other offerings. Lucky me, I was shipped Raw Georgia Pecans, Dried Turkish Apricots, and Raw Unsalted Macadamia Nuts. This post is dedicated to the pecans, but you can look forward to future posts with the other goodies.

First I wold like to say that these nuts are truly of the highest quality. I am not really the type to just snack on nuts, but I kept sneaking into the bag. I thought these pecans would be perfect for this pecan pie cupcake recipe as the key ingredient is the pecan. I came across this recipe quite a while ago. In fact, it was so long ago that I do not remember where I found it. I know it is posted on RecipeZaar, but I am sure that is not where I saw it posted. Anyhow, I made them and they really taste just like pecan pie in a cupcake (or some would say muffin) form. My only advice as to the recipe is to make sure you grease and flour the cupcake pan or use a liner. I only used non-stick spray and they stuck terribly!

Pecan Pie Cupcakes
from RecipeZaar

1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup butter, melted
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Grease and flour a miniature muffin tin. Fill each cup 3/4 full. Bake in preheated oven approximately 18 minutes. When cool decorate as desired. (I sprinkled some with powdered sugar and drizzled some with melted chocolate.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Apple Streudel Bread from Spring Mill Bread Co.

Are you sure this is just bread and not a little bit of heaven??























As I mentioned in my earlier review post, my boyfriend and I attend "Taste of Bethesda" the other week. My first review was not too hot, but tis review could not be any better. The first year we attended "Taste of Bethesda" we bought a couple loaves of bread from Spring Mill Bread Co. and it was one of the main reasons I wanted to go back to the festival this year. The bread pictures above is their famous Apple Streusel Bread, which they bake fresh daily. I can not express how fabulous this bread it. I prefer to eat it sliced as is, but my boyfriend quite enjoyed it with peanut butter. the bread is soft and sweet, with small bits of cinnamon apples baked inside. The entire top of the loaf is coated with a layer of cinnamon sugar streusel. If you live anywhere near their six locations you should definitely stop and and pick up a loaf...or two.

In addition to the Apple Streusel Bread, we bought a loaf of Honey Whole Wheat was was also very tasty. I did not get a photo of it, but it tasted great with cream cheese.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cookies and Cream Frosting

Halloween themed Birthday Cupcakes




















This past weekend was one of my dearest friend, Lauren's birthday. I always like to bake something special for my friends when it is there birthday; some might even say I like to spoil them. I thought of the idea for these cupcakes a while back and thought this would be perfect for Lauren. I used a recipe that I found on All Recipes for the cupcake and made up the frosting recipe. I will definitely make these again. The cake was super moist and would work well with pretty much any frosting. For Lauren's birthday we ended up going to a karaoke bar we used to frequent in college, so that is where I brought the cupcakes. I brought more than enough for our group so a few of the people at the table next to us got a chance to enjoy some of my cupcakes. I promised Lauren I would post an action shot of her enjoying the cupcakes, and I kept my promise.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cookies and Cream Frosting
cupcake recipe from All Recipes

Chocolate Cupcakes:

1 package chocolate cake mix (I used chocolate fudge cake mix)
1 package instant chocolate pudding mix (I also used chocolate fudge pudding mix)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (dust these in flour to keep them from sinking to the bottom)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).


In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and water. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into 24 lined muffin cups.


Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.

Frosting:

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
30 crushed Oreos

In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Gently stir in Oreo crumbs. The more you mix the more gray in color the frosting will appear so do not over-mix. (I over-mixed!) Store in the refrigerator after use.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Cookies by Design - A review

My first review:

















This past weekend I went to Taste of Bethesda which is a street festival in Bethesda, Maryland. All the local restaurants and food shops set up tents selling samples of there specialties. This is always a fun event which I always enjoy. We tried several new places at the festival this year and only had one disappointment, the cookies pictures above.

We bought the cookies above from "Cookies by Design" for $1.25 , which is a great price. The shop is known for their decorated sugar cookies, but since my boyfriend and I are not huge sugar cookie people we decided we would get the bag of chocolate chip. We brought them home to eat later since we were stuffed from all the other food we tried. To give an honest review I must say these cookies were very disappointing. They did not even taste like they were baked fresh. They were extremely hard and lacked flavor. I attempted to salvage them by dunking them in milk and even after that they were still hard! If you are looking for a hard cookie that does not taste home baked I would get a Chips Ahoy before I would go back to "Cookies by Design".

So I am sorry my first review was so disappointing, but such is the case. I will be posting another review of some bread I picked up at the festival which gets a much better review!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

These muffins are amazing!






















I saw these muffins on Annie's Eats and had to make them! It is beginning to be that time of year where all I want to eat is pumpkin. The week I made these muffins, I also made pumpkin pancakes and a pumpkin smoothie. Though I must say the pumpkin pancakes were quite spectacular, these muffins had them beat. These muffins are definitely better than anything I have had from Starbucks or Au Bon Pain. They received high appraisals from me, my boyfriend, my neighbors, and my coworkers. When that many people like them you know they must be good. If you are looking for a pumpkin muffin recipe do not bother looking any further this is really the best out there.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
adapted from
Annie's Eats


Yield: 24 muffins


Ingredients:


For the muffins:

3 cups flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

4 eggs

1 ¼ cups vegetable oil (I used peanut oil because that is what I had on hand)

2 cups sugar

2 cups pumpkin puree


For the filling:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese)

1 cup powdered sugar


For the streusel topping:

½ cup sugar

¼ cup and 1 tsp. flour

4 tbsp. butter, cubed

1 ½ tsp. cinnamon


Directions:


To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip until smooth. Form into a log on plastic wrap or foil, making sure that the diameter is small enough to fit into the well of a muffin pan. Wrap the log up tightly and freeze until slightly hardened, 1-2 hours. (I only let it sit in the freezer while I made the rest of the recipe. The log was soft when I cut it, but it still worked well. Just a little messy)


To make the muffins, combine the flour, spices, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, oil, sugar and pumpkin puree. Mix until well combined. Add in the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined.


To make the streusel topping, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix together with a pastry blender or two forks until crumbly.


Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two muffin pans with paper liners. To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well halfway with batter. Remove the cream cheese log from the freezer and slice into 24 equal slices. Place a slice in each muffin well. Divide the remaining muffin batter evenly among the muffin cups, on top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the top of the batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Oreo Chunk Chocolate Chip Cookies

Better than Chocolate Chip.






















I must say I actually enjoy these cookies more than regular chocolate chip cookies which is something you will rarely hear from me. It is just a regular chocolate chip cookie which crushed Oreo chunks, but something about them puts them over the top. A friend of mine introduced these cookies to me my sophomore year of college and my entire dorm fell in love with them. I had not made these in quite sometime until my friend from college had us over for dinner. I knew my friends would enjoy having this blast from the past cookie and boy did they. Half the cookies were devoured before we even had dinner. If you are looking for something as tasty as a chocolate chip cookie, but a little different you should definitely try these cookies.

Oreo Chunk Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 package vanilla instant Jell-O Pudding (not prepared)
1 dash of cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips
30-40 double stuffed Oreos, crushed into medium chunks (you really need the double stuffed kind, I used the Halloween ones just for one)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt, package of vanilla pudding mix, and dash of cinnamon. In a second larger bowl beat together the butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly beat in the flour mixture until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips and Oreo chunks. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Recipe makes between 4 and 5 dozen cookies.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cracker Toffee

Don't let the name put you off.



























So this was almost the bakers week off. My boyfriend's mom, who is an amazing cook and baker, sent us a package with several goodies including the delicious cracker toffee pictured above. We tried this candy when we were visiting with my boyfriend's parents back in July. I was definitely hesitant when I was told it was cracker toffee with saltines in the toffee, but I tried it anyway. I should not have been surprised by how much I enjoyed the candy because his mom had never let me down before when it came to dessert. She definitely did not disappoint with the toffee. When the toffee came in the mail I decided I would take photos of her candy and post the recipe and skip baking this week. Well I still ended up baking, which I will post at a later date, but here is the toffee recipe for the time being.

For those of you who celebrate Passover, matzos could easily be substituted for the crackers.

Cracker Toffee
recipe from Teresa Miller

Saltine Crackers, approx. 72 crackers
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
1-2 cups chopped nuts (pecans are pictures, but these are also great with peanuts)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 17x12 inch Jelly roll pan with heavy duty foil. Place saltine crackers side by side on entire cookie sheet, salt side up. Combine sugar and butter in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil and boil for three minutes; pour over saltines and bake for 10-15 minutes. Immediately, sprinkle chips evenly. Whey the chips have melted, smooth with a knife and sprinkle with chipped nuts. Refrigerate. When completely chilled, break into pieces.



















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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

Sandra would be proud....























A friend of mine decided we needed to have a "family" dinner this past week. We used to have them all the time in college, but then we got real jobs and stopped living in the same buildings. You would think it would not be that tough for us to do more of these dinner since I live a total of 1.5 miles away, but alas our busy schedules often complicate things. The new goal if for us to have a "family" dinner once a month rotating who hosts. As I am the baker of the group I know I needed to bring something. The host was making a vanilla cake which I did not want to overshadow so I decided I would go with a brownie. Now there are many, many brownie recipes out there and I have tried many of them. I have come to the realization that my favorite brownie is not actually a recipe I have tried of even one a friend has served, but it is Ghiradelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix. When it comes to brownies I strongly believe these are the best so I use then in any brownie recipe I make. If you have your favorite recipe or mix I recommend you use it in this recipe.

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies
adapted from Martha Stewart

Brownie Batter:
Your favorite brownie recipe or mix (I used
Ghiradelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix)

Peanut Butter Filling:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a buttered 8-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment paper, allowing 2 inches to hang over sides. Butter lining (excluding overhang); set pan aside.

Make brownie batter according to recipe or mix directions.

Make filling: Stir together butter, confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, salt, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth.

Pour one-third of brownie batter into prepared pan, and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Place dollops of filling (about 1 tablespoon each) about 1 inch apart on top of batter. Drizzle remaining brownie batter on top, and gently spread to fill pan. Place dollops of remaining filling on top.

With a butter knife, gently swirl filling into batter, running knife lengthwise and crosswise through layers. Bake until a cake tester inserted into brownies (avoid center and edges) comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, about 45 minutes (the peanut butter may still be wet). Let cool slightly in pan, about 15minutes. Lift out brownies; let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares.























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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins

Sugar and spice and everything nice.
























More Photos


These muffins are every bit as delicious as they look. I saw them a couple times posted on Tastespotting, and could not resist any longer. For those of you who know me, you know I love cinnamon. Love might actually be an understatement. I put so much cinnamon in my cereal on a daily basis that I actually said this weekend "I think I am growing immune to this stuff! I have a teaspoon of cinnamon in here and can barely taste it!." That should give you and idea of how much cinnamon I include in my diet. Needless to say these I could wait no longer to try these muffins. They were posted on both Laura Rebecca's Kitchen and Babe in the City - KL. I modified the recipe slightly, but kept the integrity of the original. I used half whole wheat flour and used low-fat yogurt instead of full fat. I thought I would try to make these a little healthier. Feel free to not use the whole wheat flour, but it really does not change the taste much if at all. If it were up to me I would have drastically increased the amount of cinnamon used in the recipe, but I am not the only one eating them so I just added a little to the batter. If you love cinnamon even a quarter as much as I do you will like these muffins.

Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins
adapted from
Laura Rebecca's Kitchen

2 cups flour (I used 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour)
1 Tbsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
4 tbsp oil
1 tsp vanilla

Topping:
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400-degrees F. Line a standard muffin pan with paper cups.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Add flour mixture and mix with light strokes until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Do not overmix; batter will not be smooth.

Divide batter among the muffin cups and bake until a toothpick inserted in one or two of the muffins come out clean, 12-15 minutes.

While the muffins are baking, melt 1/2 stick butter and place in a bowl just large enough to hold a muffin. Combine ½ cup of sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon in a small, shallow bowl. As soon as the muffing are done, dip them one at a time in the melted butter and then roll in the sugar mixture. Set on a rack to cool.

Yields 12 standard muffins.




Thursday, August 28, 2008

Blackberry Crumble Bars

You can taste the end of summer....






















More Photos

Now I will never be one to complain about summer ending. I for one, would take fall over summer any day. Of course there are a few good things about summer such as the fresh fruit and berries which are the inspiration of this bar. I saw these bars a while back on Baking Bites and wanted to make them with my mom while I was home in Georgia. My mom makes the most amazing jam which I thought would have been perfect in these bars. Unfortunately she and I did not have time to make them so I put the recipe away for a while to save for later use. I just got back in town from Manhattan on Tuesday night and knew I needed to bake something to post before I left town Friday for Vegas and I remembered I had this recipe waiting. Per the suggestion on Baking Bites I used Blackberry instead of Strawberry. I ran to a local market to get the jam and all they had was jelly, which I ended up using. The bars came out very tasty, but I think jam or preserves would have been even better. I think I would like to try these again with peach or apricot preserves...mmmmm.

Blackberry Crumble Bars
from Baking Bites

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
1 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
3/4 cup blackberry jam/preserves (any flavor can be substituted)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt and pecans, then stir in the butter and egg until mixture is crumbly, like coarse and wet sand. Set aside 2 cups of the mixture, and pour the remaining mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Press down gently, but firmly, into an even layer. Spread the jam over the shortbread layer. Sprinkle remaining crumbs evenly over the top. If the mixture is too wet to sprinkle, simply break it up with lightly floured fingers and spread it out. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until lightly browned.
Cool bars in the pan before slicing.



Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pumpkin Bread

No need to wait for Thanksgiving!




















I genuinely love foods made with pumpkin. Like most people I rarely make foods containing pumpkin outside of the autumn months, but why? I know I always cook with canned pumpkin which is available year round and I assume I am not the only one who uses canned pumpkin. This time I decided I would not wait until fall and I made a delicious batch of pumpkin bread. The aroma in my apartment while these were baking was amazing and I could not wait to try it. The best part of this bread (other than eating it) was the apartment held the sweet spicy scent of the bread for several days. Instant air freshener! I definitely encourage you not to wait until the fall to incorporate pumpkin into your kitchen.

Pumpkin Bread
Modified from Stoneyfield Farm

3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup oil
2 cups vanilla Stonyfield Farm Yogurt (approx. three 6 oz. containers, I used 1 container of lowfat vanilla and 2 containers of fat free french vanilla)
1 16oz can pumpkin puree
4 teaspoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons nutmeg
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 400°F.

Beat eggs until foamy, add sugar, oil, yogurt, pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix well. In a separate bowl sift together flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add dry ingredients slowly to the yogurt mixture and mix until moist. Pour into 2 greased and floured 9x5x13-inch loaf pans. Sprinkle pecans onto tops of each loaf. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Loaves should be golden brown on top.

Monday, August 18, 2008

They may not be sweet, but they are baked.

A small break from dessert.

















I am back in town. This past week I was in Florida for training and then headed to New Jersey on Saturday for a family wedding. I am only back for a short break because I am leaving this Sunday for New York for a few days and then leaving the following Friday for Las Vegas. I had fully intended to review some of the food I ate while away, but it completely slipped my mind. You have to forgive me because I am new to this. I will definitely try to remember while in NYC and Las Vegas.

Anyway, I have not had a chance to bake since I have been back. I will likely whip something up in the next few days, but I wanted to give you a recipe in the meantime. This recipe is for Bacon Tomato cups. I have made these on several occasions, including birthday parties, potluck dinners, and baby showers and they always go over extremely well. I hope you enjoy this little break from dessert, and I will post something sweet soon.

Bacon Tomato Cups
adapted from allrecipes.com

8 slices bacon
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
3 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 (16 ounce) can refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough
1/4 cup diced green onion or chives

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a mini muffin pan.


In a skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until evenly brown. Drain on paper towels. Crumble bacon into a medium mixing bowl, and mix with tomato, onion, cheese, mayonnaise and basil.

Separate biscuits into thirds horizontally (separating into three layers). Place each third into cups of the prepared mini muffin pan. Fill each biscuit third with the bacon mixture.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven , or until golden brown. Garnish with diced green onion or chives.