Monday, March 30, 2009

Another Girl Scout Cookie Recipe

Another Girl Scout favorite.

If you saw my last post you know I tried Baking Bites' recipe for Homemade Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies. They turned out great so I decided to try Nicole's recipe for Homemade Samoas Bars. I am not going to lie to you. I think the Thin Mints were better, but the Samoas were very good and with a few modifications could be great. In my opinion the crust was too thick and there was not enough topping. If I remake this recipe (I say if because it was pretty time comsuming), I would reduce the crust recipe by half and increase the topping by one third to half. Even though I think they need some changes to be the ultimate, they were still very good and went over really well with the crowd.

In other news I just got back from Las Vegas. My boyfriend and I had a nice little vacation. We don't have any crazy stories to share, but I must mention a restaurant we tried. Have any of you been to Nine Fine Irishmen? We ended up eating there twice because it was so amazing! I had the Chicken Pot Pie both times we were there. It was incredible! Do any of you have the recipe? I have been trying to find it and have not had any luck. I would seriously give up dessert and replace it with this Pot Pie and this is a lot coming from me! If you go to Vegas anytime soon you should give the restaurant a try. My boyfriend had the fish and chips and he was just as impressed as me.

Now here is your recipe:

Homemade Samoas Bars
from Baking Bites

Cookie Base (I copied the recipe as is, but i reccommend reducing the cookie base by half):
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

First, make the crust.

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, or line with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. The dough does not need to come together. Pour crumbly dough into prepapred pan and press into an even layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before topping.

Topping (I reccommend increasing the topping by 1/3 to 1/2)
3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12-oz good-quality chewy caramels
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
10 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips are ok)

Preheat oven to 300. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula. Put dollops of the topping all over the shortbread base. Using a spatula, spread topping into an even layer. Let topping set until cooled. When cooled, cut into 30 bars with a large knife or a pizza cutter (it’s easy to get it through the topping).

Once bars are cut, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. Dip the base of each bar into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment or wax paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle bars with chocolate to finish. Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

Makes 30 bar cookies.

Note: You can simply drizzle chocolate on top of the bars before slicing them up if you’re looking for yet an easier way to finish these off. You won’t need quite as much chocolate as noted above, and you won’t quite get the Samoas look, but the results will still be tasty.''

Sunday, March 22, 2009

You guys want some cookies?

Everybody likes Girl Scout Cookies

I have yet to meet a person who does not like Girl Scout Cookies. Girl Scout Cookies seem sweet and innocent, they are sold by Girl Scouts and Brownies after all. But truth be told, we all know these are actually dangerous cookies in disguise. If you are anything like me you buy a box or two of the cookies telling yourself that it is for a good cause. Maybe you will even share the cookies with your co-workers, but more likely than not, a box or two will end up home with you. Then one night when you are alone and watching a movie you decide to have a cookie. Then one cookie turns into two, and then three, and then crap you ate the entire box. This is the reason I have not actually bought Girl Scout Cookies in four years. I know how sneaky those cookies really are. My weakness is the Tagalong, but I also love Thin Mints an Samoas. Lucky for me, Nicole over at Baking Bites has created a recipe for each of these delicious cookies. I decided I am going to test all three of the recipes, but I started with the Thin Mints.

The Thin Mints definitely did not disappoint. I dipped them in dark chocolate, which made them taste a bit more refined than a tradition Thin Mint cookie. The dark chocolate also added a richness that kept me from eating them al in one sitting. Now this was definitely more time consuming than shelling out for the real ones, but these were definitely worth the time and effort. Next up I will share with you my thoughts on the Samoas Bars .

Homemade Thin Mints
from Baking Bites

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup milk (any kind)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp peppermint extract

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. With the mixer on low speed, add in the milk and the extracts. Mixture will look curdled. Gradually, add in the flour mixture until fully incorporated. Shape dough into two logs, about 1 1/2 inches (or about 4 cm) in diameter, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 1-2 hours, until dough is very firm.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Slice dough into rounds not more than 1/4 inch thick - if they are too thick, they will not be as crisp - and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cookies will not spread very much, so you can put them quite close together. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until cookies are firm at the edges. Cool cookies completely on a wire rack before dipping in chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Coating
10-oz dark or semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup butter, room temperature

In a microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate and butter. Melt on high power in the microwave, stirring every 45-60 seconds, until chocolate is smooth. Chocolate should have a consistency somewhere between chocolate syrup and fudge for a thin coating. Dip each cookie in melted chocolate, turn with a fork to coat, then transfer to a piece of parchment paper or wax paper to set up for at least 30 minutes, or until chocolate is cool and firm. Reheat chocolate as needed to keep it smooth and easy to dip into. Makes 3 1/2-4 dozen cookies.

Monday, March 16, 2009

St. Patrick's Day Cookies

Hope these bring you luck

Cookies have been and will likely always be my favorite thing to bake. I imagine my favoritism largely has something to due with the fact that cookies are one of my favorite things to eat. In addition they are easy, versatile, and always a crowd-pleaser. All these reasons are why I chose to use my green M&M's in a cookie. I had considered making a cake or brownies for St. Patrick's day, but in the end I went with cookies. I used my traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe and jut replaced half the chocolate chips with M&M's. You could definitely make these with any of the Holiday M&M's or you could just use regular M&M's because they are so good there is no need to wait for a holiday. If you do choose to make these cookies tonight or tomorrow for St. Patrick's day, I assure you they go well with beer :)

M&M 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
1 cup chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup M&M candies

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 M&M's. 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, March 8, 2009

Recipe re-mix

What do you do with leftover cheesecake?

You may remember a couple weeks ago I made a Oreo Peanut Butter Cheesecake. Hopefully you were able to read about the trials and tribulations I faced while making said cheesecake. If you did not have time, perhaps give the post a read for a little laugh. Anyway, after my boyfriend and I each had a slice of the cheesecake I had 3/4 of a cheesecake sitting in my fridge taunting me. I knew I had to get it out of the house and also knew that I did not want to bring it to work in its current state (the people at work tend to only eat things when they are single servings which they can easily take without making a scene). My friend Sarah and I had been wanting to make Cheesecake Bites for quite some time. We wanted to make them back in October when we made brownie bites and cake balls, but we had too much on our plate. All of a sudden the opportunity was there. I had the cheesecake made, I had chocolate on hand, and I had a little time.

Now, there really is no recipe to go with this post. You can use any cheesecake recipe or use the one I posted for Oreo Peanut Butter Cheesecake, and then follow the instructions below:

Chocolate Covered Cheesecake Bites

1 cooked and chilled cheesecake
1 pound semisweet flavored, milk chocolate flavored, or brightly colored confectionery coating

When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze the balls, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 to 2 hours.

When the cheesecake balls are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate coating. Place half of the chocolate wafers in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Remove from the microwave and stir. If the chocolate is not completely melted, microwave for 30-second intervals, stirring until smooth.

Use a fork to roll the balls in chocolate and then gently tap off extra

Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely, using a fork to scoop out the ball. Hold the ball over the melted chocolate and shake off any excess. Place the ball on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate wafers as needed. If desired, while the chocolate is still wet, top with sprinkles or colored sugar.

To decorate with drizzled chocolate, place 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 smaller the drizzle. Use the sandwich bag to pipe the chocolate back and forth over the hardened chocolate covered pretzels until you reach the desired look. When the drizzle has hardened (you can put them in the freezer to speed up the process) brake off any extra chocolate with your fingers or the back end of a fork or spoon.