Sunday, January 31, 2010

Peanut Butter S'more Bars for Elyse


If you read my wonderful friend Elyse's post last Sunday then you would know she and I were baking recipes inspired by one another. It is not surprising that we both came up with something that has both peanut butter and chocolate. When it comes to food we are almost always on the same page. I decided to make Peanut Butter S'more Bars and let me tell you....they are incredible! Elyse would love them, I love them, and you will definitely love them.

Peanut Butter S'more Bars
recipe from Baked Perfection

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs ( 7 full graham crackers)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 super-sized (5 oz.) dark chocolate bars (e.g. Hershey’s)
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 7oz. jar marshmallow fluff

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix until just combined. Divide dough in half and press half of the dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread the peanut butter evenly over the dough. Place chocolate bars over peanut butter . Two 5 oz. bars should fit perfectly side by side, but break the chocolate (if necessary) to get it to fit in a single layer. Spread marshmallow fluff evenly over the chocolate layer.

Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff. This is most easily done by putting the second half of the dough in a gallon size freezer bag. Use your palms to flatten it out, and then use scissors to cut down both long sides of the bag, so it will open up book-style. Open it up carefully, and the dough will stick on one side of the bag. Then place the bag, dough side down, on the other layers. From there peel the bag up and spread the dough where it is uneven.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars

Makes 16 cookie bars.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

These were devoured!

Unfortunately I don't have any exciting stories to share this time. I have been pretty busy at work lately. As most of you know, I am an auditor and this is my busiest time of year. For those of you who don't know, auditors don't do taxes. I am a CPA, but I don't do taxes. Auditors don't do taxes. People assume I am busy this time of year because tax season. I know it should not annoy me that the general public assumes I am busy doing taxes, but it does. For those of you are are still interested, I took just as many law classes as I took tax classes and I am not a law expert nor do people assume I am. This also means I am not a tax expert. So to conclude, I am really busy at work this time of year and it is not because I am doing taxes.

Anyway, back on topic. This past week I made Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins and they were devoured. This recipe only makes a dozen and within the first three hours of baking them four were eaten and only by two people. I actually hate bananas, so I was not one of those people, but I was told they were incredible. I took the rest to work and they vanished. So this time you can't take my word for it, but you can take Zack's. He says if you like bananas you should make these muffins!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
recipe from Baked Perfection

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 ripe bananas*, mashed
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1/4 cup butter melted
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

Preheat over to 375 degrees. Grease or line 12 muffin cups.

In a large bowl mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In a second bowl beat together bananas, sugars, vanilla, egg, and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. In a small bowl mix together the chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon flour (this will prevent the chocolate chips from sinking). Stir the chocolate chips into the batter. Spoon batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops of each muffin with turbinado sugar. Bake in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

*Bakers note - My bananas were not ripe when I made these muffins. If you are in the same situation, just pop the peeled bananas in the microwave for 30 seconds and they will be ready for mashing.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Can't get enough of a good thing.

This past week two of my co-workers had the same birthday. I always like to bring in something for a birthday so it was a matter of what to make. I am not sure why I bothered asking since I knew what the answer was going to be, but I still asked my co-worker Daniel what he would like me to make. His only response "pumpkin". Daniel is in rotation from Mexico City and had never been exposed to pumpkin as a dessert prior to I made Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting back in November. Apparently those cupcakes were all he needed to fall in love with pumpkin. He is always asking me to make more things with pumpkin.; since I am also an avid pumpkin lover I don't mind the requests. I hate to repeat recipes on this blog, but the Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting were so fantastic I had to make them again. This time I decided to make a different frosting so you would at least have a new frosting recipe. This frosting is delicious!!! It complements the pumpkin and spices in the cupcake so well, but is just as good straight from the bowl. I think it would also be great with a spice cake or carrot cake.

Just in case you were wondering last year I made them these Personalized Cupcakes.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes
recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground gloves
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin tins with paper liners. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until butter turns golden brown, Skim foam from top, and remove from heat. Pour into a bowl to stop the cooking, leaving any burned sediment behind; let cool.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, both sugars, eggs, and brown-butter mixture. Add the flour mixture, and whisk until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Frost with CInnamon Cream Cheese Frosting. Makes 15 cupcakes.
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
recipe from Baked Perfection

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Beat butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, and then cinnamon and vanilla; mix until smooth.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Butterscotch Pecan Sandies and the death of my hand mixer

More addictive than they look!

First I have to tell you that if you make these, beware! They look like an innocent cookie where you will eat one or two and be satisfied. But these cookies are just not that simple. You see, Zack's mom made them over Christmas along with Chocolate Chip Cookies, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, Peanut Butter Pie, Pumpkin Pie, and Cheesecake Brownies. This is all in addition to the Peanut Butter Cookies and Buckeyes that I brought along. You would think with all these options I would not have been compelled to continuously eat these cookies. I just kept going back for more. They are sweet, salty, nutty, and buttery all at once. I knew I was going to make them when I got home.

This weekend Zack and I had plans to visit with friends in MD. They were planning to make us lunch, so I thought it would be nice to make them some cookies. I decided this would be the perfect occasion to make the Butterscotch Pecan Sandies that we had over Christmas. I knew since I would be giving them away I would not be able to eat too many (for those of you who are curious I only at two this weekend and we don't have any left at the house so that is all for me). Friday night I decided to make these cookies around 10PM. I was beating my butter and sugar together and everything was going smoothly. That is until the moment I sat my hand mixer down on the counter and it shot off a fire ball! Yes, a ball of fire shot out of the mixer! I screamed and Zack came running in worried I was hurt (he saw the ball of fire from the living room). Besides having my heart jump out of my chest, I was unscathed and so was my kitchen. The fire ball did not hurt the counter or anything else. Once I got over the initial shock and realized both I and the house were okay I actually got sad. How was I supposed to bake without my hand mixer? Okay, I know I can bake without it but I don't want to! This was not a fancy mixer which I am sure some of you have. It was just an inexpensive little hand mixer my mom shipped me while I was in college. I am pretty sure she picked it up from Big Lots. Actually, I am surprised it lasted as long as it did, but now I am mixerless. It was a sad day in my kitchen! On the plus side I finished the cookies without the mixer and they turned out great. As my friend Sara said, now I just have one more thing to add to my wedding registry.

Butterscotch Pecan Sandies
recipe from Guittard

3 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/3 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
3/4 cup chopped pecans
2 cups butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine flour and baking soda in a small bowl and set aside. In a large micing bowl cream butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla on medium speed until light. Beat in egg until fluffy. Reduce speed to low, add flour one cup at a time, just until combined. Stir in pecans and butterscotch chips.

With a small scoop or 2 teaspoons, form small balls of dough less than one inch in diameter. Place on baking sheet, allowing 2 inches between cookies. Flatten balls with the bottom of a glass to about 1/4 inch in height. Bake fro 8-10 minutes until brown around edged, but tops are still pale. Transfer to racks to cool. Store in airtight container.

Note: The original recipes yeilds 9 dozen 1 1/2 inch cookies. I made just shy of 5 dozen 2 1/4 in cookies.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Happy New Year!

I hope everybody has been enjoying the beginning of 2010. I am still getting over a cold that I got a week ago! It definitely put a damper on this past week, but you cannot beat the feeling of being surrounded by old friends. I was lucky enough to ring in the new year with one of my old college roommates, Abby, who is a great friend and an amazing woman. She moved out to the west coast and I had not seen in her in over three years! She is now living in Sacramento and is a personal trainer. Now, I know it is the new year and everybody is breaking out with their resolutions. I am planning to eat healthier this year and to exercise more. Of course I will not be cutting out dessert, but I am a big believer in almost anything is fine in moderation. I wish Abby still lived out here because she trained me in college and I loved working with her. This time I am going to have to go it alone, but if any of you are interested and in the Sacramento area, here is a link to her site: Live for it All. In addition to Abby staying with us, we also had three of Zack's old friends staying with us. I love those guys and am thrilled that they get to be part of my life now too. This was a week of non-stop laughs! We had so much fun this past week, but I think my favorite part was the Eggnog French Toast Zack made for us the morning of the first. Guess who has breakfast duty now :)

Anyway, on to dessert. As I said above, I think just about anything is okay in moderation. For instance, don't eat an entire red velvet cake, just have a cupcake.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon red gel-paste food color
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cake flour, cocoa, and salt.
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whisk together sugar and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix in food color and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and whisking well after each. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam); add mixture to the batter, and mix on medium speed 10 seconds. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers. To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting. Refrigerate up to 3 days in airtight containers; bring to room temperature before serving.

Cream Cheese Frosting
recipe from Martha Stewart

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound (4 cups) confectioners' sugar, sifted
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Beat butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, and then vanilla; mix until smooth. Frosting can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; before using, bring to room temperature, and beat until smooth.

Here is a picture of Zack and I with our friends on New Year's Eve.

Pictured from left to right: Zack, Me, Abby, Zack's Buddies: Aaron, Nick, Colton.