Tuesday, December 29, 2009

December 2009 Daring Baker's Challenge

This month's baking challenge was a gingerbread house. I have never in my life made one of these before, and let me tell you, it was not easy. It definitely took a while to finally complete it. I'm not sure if it is something I would ever do again, but we shall see. For now, i'll list the challenge below and my completed project.

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

I wasn't too fond of the recipes for the gingerbread, so I am posting an alternate I liked much better, and it was fairly tasty too.
Victorian Gingerbread House
"Cookies for Christmas" edited by Jennifer Dorland Darling
(you will need to make this recipe 2x for enough gingerbread)

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1 Tbsp. vinegar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
(Do not double the recipe, make 1 recipe gingerbread two times)
In a large mixing bowl: beat the shortening on high for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves. Beat until combined. Add the molasses, egg, and vinegar and beat until combined. Mix in the flour, 1/2 cup at a time until you can't mix anymore in with mixer. If needed, mix the remaining with a wooden spoon. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours or longer, until the dough is easy to handle.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Pick a pattern and cut the shapes out out of the paper. Grease flat baking sheets, or the back of baking sheets with cooking spray. Roll the dough on the pans, out to 1/4-inch thick. Place the pattern over the dough, making sure there is 1-inch spacing between the dough cut-outs. Cut around the patterns with a sharp knife, removing the excess dough. Make sure to cut out the windows if you have them. Do not thrown away the patterns, they will be reused. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned and the centers are just firm. (You may have to bake longer, depending on your actual oven temperature.) Place the patterns back over the dough and trim again. (The dough does expand quite a bit, thus the need for this step.) Bake the dough for an additional 3 minutes more, or until very firm. Cool 3 minutes on the pan. Loosen the bottoms of the gingerbread pieces with a spatula. Cool completely on the pans. Then transfer to wire racks. Repeat this process with the remaining dough and pattern pieces.
Use royal icing as your glue to put the house together. I used the directions from King Arthur Flour's website, entitled "Building A Gingerbread House" with Susan Reid.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Honey Wheat Bread fast

I definitely was in the experimenting mood this weekend. I decided to make up a bread recipe that would be a semi-quick bread.

Honey Wheat Bread recipe by Katie of http://cookinginatinykitchen.blogspot.com

1 rapid rise yeast packet (2 1/4 tsp.)
3 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (+1/2 to 1 cup more)
1 1/2 cups luke warm water
1/2 cup quick cooking oats

Lightly grease a large bowl and set aside. Combine water, honey and yeast, gently stir to mix. Let stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes. It should be foamy on top if the yeast activates properly, if not, start over. Meanwhile, whisk together the wheat flour, oats, salt and 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour. Pour in the water mixture all at once and stir until mixed. Add more flour until the dough is not super sticky. Turn out onto a floured board. Knead, adding more flour as needed, for 10 minutes. Add enough flour, so that you can lightly touch the dough and not come away with a souvenir. Shape the dough into a ball and put into the prepared bowl. Cover loosely with a light cloth.  Let it rest in warm place for 1 1/2-2 hours or until doubled. Punch the dough down and let rise again about 1 hour more. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Form into desired shape, place on a oiled baking stone, again cover with the cloth and let rise again about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Melt some honey and lightly brush on top of dough, use scissors to cut 2-3 slashes in the dough. Lightly sprinkle quick cook oats on top. Bake for 30 minutes, but keep an eye on it. When the bread has browned on top, and sounds hollow when lightly tapped, you are done. Take it out of the oven and place the bread on a wire rack to cool.


I am finally getting around to posting this recipe. I decided to try my own version of the classic Madeleine. It is really good with a simple lemon glaze: lemon juice and powdered sugar.

Madeleine recipe by Katie of http://cookinginatinykitchen.blogspot.com

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1/2 cup superfine sugar (granulated sugar processed in coffee grinder/food processor)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
a few drops of lemon extract
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 whole jumbo eggs
1 jumbo egg yolk
pinch salt
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Sift all the dry ingredients together. In a 2nd bowl: whisk eggs and add lemon and vanilla. Once butter is cooled, whisk into the eggs. Gradually blend butter/egg mixture into flour, gently fold in until just mixed. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and refrigerate about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Melt 1 Tbsp. butter and brush a 12 Madeleine mold, and then flour the mold. Divide the batter evenly among the molds. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cakes are lightly browned on the edges. Gently tap the mold on a table and slide onto a dish towel. Turn over so the pattern is on top. Let cool completely, then lightly dust with powdered sugar.
Optional to lightly glaze with lemon mixture.
Best day of, otherwise they freeze very well. If you do decide to freeze them, hold off on glazing until after thawed. You can take them out about 30 minutes before you are ready to eat them.
There should be a slight bump on the underside of the cakes.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Scottish Shortbread

I finally made some shortbread. It is so yummy and buttery. Even now, when I am not eating it, my mouth absolutely waters at just the thought of its yummy goodness. You can double the recipe if you'd like. There is no doubt that its a hit!

Scottish Shortbread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 blocks butter at room temperature
1 cup superfine sugar (process granulated sugar in a food processor/coffee grinder)

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Use a 9-inch round cake pan. (Optional: line the pan with a parchment paper circle) Sift the flour and salt together into a bowl, and whisk. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Use your hands to gently mix the flour into the butter mixture until pea sized clumps. (As close as you can get is fine.) Do not overwork, this makes a lighter flaker shortbread. Pour the mixture into the pan and gently press down. Use your fingers and gently press along the edges. Then take a fork and poke holes all over the pan. Bake for about 1 hour. Until golden. Leave in the pan to cool completely. You can either cut into the desired shapes in the pan or invert onto a plate and then cut it.
(Next up Madeleine Cookies)

Caramel-Pecan Bars

I made these bars for the first time (for Thanksgiving), and it really took way too much effort to make them. There were too many steps, even for me. And sadly I won't be posting the recipe, not because of my disappointment, but because I seriously lost the recipe. I know, very sad. I made them at my parents house, an i'm pretty sure the paper got thrown away, otherwise I would have shared it. But, here are a few pictures for you to check out my results.

Pumpkin Pie

This pumpkin pie can best be described in one word, "Awesome!" And its so easy to make. I love easy and delicious things. Yummy!

Pumpkin Pie (my Grammy's recipe)

2 unbaked pie shells (store bought or homemade)
3 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (2-15 oz. cans)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
2 eggs
1 cup evaporated milk

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 pie pans with the pie shells and crimp/flute the edges. Whisk together all the ingredients and divide evenly between the 2 pie pans. Bake about 5 minutes, cover the crust and bake 10 more minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake for an additional 45 minutes, until tested done. Cool the pies on a wire rack. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate when the pie completely cool. Cut each pie into 8 slices and serve with whipped cream.

I attempted to bake the pie for the initial 15 minutes without covering the crust, it almost burnt. Yikes. But it worked out and tasted delicious in spite of that.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Two Days To Go

Ok, so I almost didn't get a turkey (uh-oh). I am feeding 10 people and I waited too long to get groceries. I went to Wal-mart (aka the "Evil Store") and they were out of whole Turkeys. So, I had to stop at Hy-Vee and lucky lucky lucky me, they had what I needed. I'm thinking 16 lb. will be pleanty, especially enough for midnight turkey sandwiches. I don't know about other family traditions, but we absolutely have to have enough excess to make turkey&mayo sandwiches for a late-night snack. Oh so yummy...i'm salivating already. I've decided on the two desserts, pumpkin pie and caramel pecan bars. I am hoping for yummy goodness. TBD
For some reason I can not get the idea of shortbread out of my head, all Thanksgiving turkey-ness aside. I've been looking for the perfect recipe, if there is such a thing, and can not seem to find one that i'm happy with. It just sounds so good. Maybe you'll see something of that in the future. And of course I am starting to think about Christmas. Late Thursday night and into Friday morning, Kelsey and I plan on going shopping. There are actually some malls that are opening at 12:01am on Friday morning and we are so going to be there. Crazy you say. Well...I can't deny it. I'm not even sure if I have the ability to stay up all night anymore, but who knows. It will definitely be fun to try.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Apple Praline Bread revisited

I decided to make this dessert to go along with the pecan pie for this past weekend. It was just as good as the first time, if not better. Kelsey was over visiting the night I made it, and we were both eating the excess praline topping. So yummy! Next challenge, Thanksgiving dinner and all the trimmings, and of course great desserts!!!

Pecan Pie

I went to my Grammy's house this past weekend. We had a big gathering of the family on my mother's side. It was loud and crazy. And we had a lot of food. Every year for the past several, I or a member of my immediate family has tried to make a pecan pie to take for Thanksgiving. And every year, there is something wrong with it, whether its way too runny, the crust disintegrates, or my mother put some of the crust ingredients into the pie filling. That was a good one. But, I would have to say, this year is the winner. I am keeping this recipe around and I hope you enjoy. It turned out perfectly.

Pecan Pie

1 Pie Crust (you can make your own as I did, or use store bought)
1 cup pecan halves
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
3 jumbo eggs, at room temperature (trick: put the eggs in a bowl of lukewarm water for about 10 minutes)
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough and place in a 10-inch deep dish pie plate. Trim the edges if you would like, and flute the edges. Place the pecans in the bottom and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat the syrup, sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla on high for 30 seconds. Pour the mixture over the pecans. Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 50-60 minutes. If it looks like your crust is starting to brown too much, cover the pie with a domed piece of foil and bake until the pie is set. Which basically means, either a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or lightly touch the top and it should spring back. Cool the pie on a wire rack overnight. Chill the pie until ready to serve.

source: Jim Romero's Southern Pecan Pie, from "Taste of the South" magazine

Friday, November 13, 2009

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have been trying to get a chocolate chip cookie that is not totally flat, or truly cake-like. This version is definitely getting there. 

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup + 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chips (any flavor)
1 cup hershey's bars, chopped into 1/4-inch chunks
1 cup Ghirardelli 72% cacao chocolate, chopped into 1/4-inch chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until creamy. Add the vanilla and then eggs one at a time, beating well after each. In a second bowl, whisk together the flour, soda, and salt. Gradually add to the butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Stir in the chocolate chunks, this is the hardest part, the dough will be stiff. It is best to use baking sheets that have no sides. The cookies will bake more evenly. Use a tablespoon sized scoop and scoop dough onto cookie sheets about 2-inches apart. Lightly press down on the cookies, using your finger. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until the outside edges are lightly browned. Let the cookies sit on the cookies sheets for 2 minutes and remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Wax paper
3 - large paper plates

To help the cookies retain their shape better: refrigerate the dough before baking.
A great way to share with friends: Separate the dough into 3 sections. Lay a piece of wax paper on a cutting board. Place one-third of dough onto wax paper, and use a second sheet to press down on top of the dough. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into about a 7-inch square, lightly wrap the edges of the paper over the dough to cover it completely. Chill the dough for about an hour.  Once the dough is cool and has had a chance to stiffen up, remove the top layer of paper. Use a sharp knife and cut the dough into 5x5's=25 pieces per third of dough. Take a paper plate, flip it upside down onto the top of the dough, carefully hold onto the bottom of the cutting board, while holding down the plate on the dough and flip it over so that the plate is on the bottom. Take a second paper plate, also upside down, and put this onto top of the dough. Holding onto the top and bottom plate, flip it over again, and then wrap the plate with plastic wrap. Now you are ready to share. Give to a friend with these instructions: bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes.

Tiny Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Caution: Before making these cookies, note that they are very very very addictive. Trust me, I've succumbed to the powerful draw of the peanut butter god. And you know what, I am pretty happy with that.

Tiny Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Hershey's Easy Baking, also on www.hersheys.com
yield 12-15 dozen (depending on what size you make them)

1/2 cup shortening, softened
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
3 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
granulated sugar for rolling
chocolate chips (peanut butter and milk chocolate are good)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butters, then beat in the sugars until well mixed. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla, beating until mixture is light and fluffy. 2nd bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add a little bit at a time to the butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Chill the dough for at least 15 minutes, otherwise it is way too soft.
Use a 1/4 tsp. to measure the dough, and roll each into about 1/2-inch balls. Roll in the granulated sugar and put on baking sheets. Bake 5-6 minutes (or longer, if cookies are larger). Right after removing the cookies from the oven, lightly press a chocolate chip into the center of each cookie. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets for 1 minute and remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Peanut Butter Cookies (normal size), scoop 1 Tablespoon of dough and roll into balls. Roll each ball into granulated sugar and place on cookie sheets, press a criss-cross pattern into the top of the cookie with a fork, and lightly sprinkle the cookies with more sugar. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned on edges.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Breads and other things

This Monday, a co-worker had several bananas gone bad, so she gave me them and in return I brought her a few mini loaves for her son, who loves it. This is a recipe i'm not sure if i'll share, but maybe someday... In the meantime, you can definitely see the results below. I came up with a fail proof recipe, that is fairly versatile. I once didn't add eggs, it was still good. I added chocolate chips another time, and kids just love it.
This is one bread I make often. Each time I do make it, it yields 6 mini loaves per recipe. The more to share :)

Pumpkin Bread

If you haven't noticed, i'm following an ingredient theme here, for at least two posts. Love love love pumpkin. Yum! I had left over pumpkin puree from the pumpkin bars I made over the weekend, so last night I decided to use it to make some miniature pumpkin loaves. You can easily use this recipe for mini breads, or standard size will do. Topping with a little Brummel & Brown spread makes this an extra special treat. This recipe is definitely in my favorites, I hope you enjoy it!

Pumpkin Bread Extraordinaire
yields approximately 12 mini loaves (2 1/2-inch square pans)
This is 1-1/2 x the original recipe, if you decide to cut it down by one-third, use only one standard bread loaf pan.

Bread ingredients:
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (bleached is fine)
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/4 cup oil (vegetable, olive, or canola)
1/2 cup fat free yogurt
3 large eggs
6 Tbsp. water
1 heaping tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 tsp. allspice
optional - add 3/4 cup nuts of choice or 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour pans, set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. In a second larger bowl, mix together the pumpkin, oil, yogurt, eggs, water, and spices, whisk well. Add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, they should be 2/3rds full, do not over fill, as the bread will almost double in size. Bake for 25-35 minutes. This all depends on your oven temperature and the pans you use. If using a larger loaf pan, bake for 50-60 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick until it comes out clean.
Cool in pans on wire racks about 10 minutes. Invert pans, be careful, and give the pan a shake until the bread falls out. Quickly turn the bread right side up and let cool completely.

Lighter Side of Pumpkin Bars

I'm sorry, i've been really bad about posting lately, its been a week :( I made pumpkin bars last Friday night and haven't taken the time to share it. I was helping my friend Kelsey with cleaning and moving into her new apartment. And of course cleaning always makes me hungry. I love this time of year, and pumpkin happens to be one of my favorite fall foods. This is a recipe I decided to try out of the November 2009 Cooking Light magazine, from Trisha Kruse of Eagle, Idaho. It was pretty decent for a lower fat version of the oh so good original. I would make it again.

Frosted Pumpkin Bars
yield: 20-24 bars
about 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 (15oz.) can pumpkin puree (not for pumpkin pie)

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 (8oz.) package 1/3 less fat cream cheese
2 cups sifted powdered sugar (yes this is important, who wants lumpy frosting)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray, and lightly flour the pan, set aside.
Spoon flour into measuring cups and level off. Mix together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Stir with a whisk to blend well. In a second larger bowl, mix brown sugar and 1 stick of butter until well mixed.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the pumpkin and mix until combined. Fold in flour mixture just until mixed. Do not over mix. Spread the pumpkin mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack.
For the frosting, use a mixer to cream together the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Spread the frosting over the cake.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Macaroons (Daring Bakers in October)

The Bakers challenge this month was more challenging than I was anticipating. I must say the cookies were good, I just didn't get the best results. No little feet at the end of my cookies. Too bad I don't like nut cookies enough to try this recipe again. It is a must to use parchment paper, which I didn't do :(. I used Reynolds wrap. Bad idea. But here are my results.

Recipe Source: This recipe comes from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern.Ingredients
Powdered sugar: 2 ¼ cups
Almond flour: 2 cups
Granulated sugar: 2 Tbsp.
Egg whites: 5
1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.
Yield: 10 dozen. Ami's note: My yield was much smaller than this. I produced about two dozen filled macaroons.
(baking before the "jump" or "cut")

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Apple Pie Comfort

I have been lax on posting lately, I made chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter fudge about a week ago. They were both super delicious, and I may post them eventually. TBD...Anyway, I ate at my parents house today. Sunday dinner, very comfort food today. We had homemade chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes with roasted squash. It was soooooo goood. And of course followed by the ultimate comfort food dessert, Apple Pie. I really wanted to go with a very flaky and tasty pie crust. So I used half butter and half lard. Also, I changed the pie filling, and used brown sugar, instead of granulated sugar. I used Green Apples from my parent's apple tree. They are super good. We made applesauce all weekend and decided to do apple pie, because it sounded so good. So, here's the recipe. I hope you enjoy. (It is not wise to even try to count calories with this recipe, but wise to eat the results :)

Apple Pie

For the Crust:
(Yield: 2 crusts)
1/2 cup lard, freeze for 20-30 minutes
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed and freeze for 20-30 minutes
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, put in the freezer long enough to get very cold
1/2 cup ice cold water
pinch of salt

In a large bowl: Mix together the flour and salt. Toss in the butter and lard to coat in the flour mixture. Use your fingers to crumble the butter/lard with the flour until the mixture resembles small peas. May need to put back in the freezer if the butter/lard is getting too warm. Sprinkle the water over the flour and mix with your fingers just until you can form the dough into a ball. Try not to over moisten the dough. It's alright to be a little flaky. Divide the dough into two equal portions flatten into discs and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour. Take out one disc and unwrap, leaving it on the plastic wrap, cover with a 2nd piece of plastic wrap. Roll the dough out into a 9-10 inch round, or least enough to overlap the edge of a pie plate. Leave the plastic wrap on and loosely roll up, replace in the refrigerator. Repeat with the second disc until ready for use. Lay one crust on a 9-inch clear pie plate and lightly pat in the pan. Put the pie plate back into the refrigerator. Now to prepare the filling...

For the filling:
9 medium apples (3 pounds), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp. flour
dash of salt

Mix the dry ingredients together and toss with the apples to coat. Pour the filling into the crust lined pie pan. Moisten the edge of the crust with egg white, or water. Place the second crust over the apple mixture. Cut into the crust in an apple shape, 1-inch cuts should do it. Place the pie pan onto a cookie sheet to catch any drips. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for another hour. Check about 30 minutes in, you may need to cover the crust edges with foil. Keep an eye on the pie, you may need to take it out before the hour is up, depending on whether the crust is cooked through. Remove the pie from the oven and place onto a wire rack to cool. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Blueberry Muffins

I am finally getting around to posting this. I took these muffins to my friend, Kristin, this past weekend. They were so good. I loved them so much, I had to make them twice, 2 times in one week. They are that good!
("Bakery Blueberry Muffins" from http://thepioneerwoman.com/tasty-kitchen) I tried another Pioneer Woman recipe before this and I was not happy with the lower fat version that I made. This recipe on the other hand is awesome!

Blueberry Muffins
yield 12 muffins

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Splenda
1 tspn. vanilla
2 whole eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk, vinegar soured milk
1/2 tspn. salt
2 tspns. baking powder
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups blueberries, frozen

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. I sprayed a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray, and also lined the cups with liners, spraying them lightly also.
Cream together the butter and sugar, then add vanilla, eggs and buttermilk.
In a medium bowl; mix together the dry ingredients. Add the blueberries in, lighty stirring to mix. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir just until mixed. Do not overmix! Evenly spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. If you would like, sprinkle some turbinado/raw sugar on top of the muffins.
Bake for 5 minutes at 450 degrees. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean (no gooey batter!).
Let muffins cool to room temperature and serve immediately or serve the next day, if you can wait that long.
I used frozen blueberries the first time I made these, and thawed and rinsed them the second time. You can tell the difference in how blue the first set is.

Spiced Cutout Cookies

Yield: 160 cookies (This depends on how thin you roll the dough and the cookie cutter you use. The original recipe noted a yield of 9 dozen/108 cookies)

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp. molasses
1 egg
3 1/4 cups flour
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cardamom
2 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp. orange zest

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in molasses and egg. In a separate bowl; whisk together the flour and spices, add in the soda, whisk well. Separate the dough into 2 balls, wrap in saran wrap and chill for 1-2 hours to stiffen the dough a bit.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
On a well floured surface, roll the dough to around 1/16-inch thickness, may need to reflour under the dough and keep the rolling pin floured. Cut dough with 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter dipped in flour. Place on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for 5-6 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned on edges. Let cookies cool on pans for 2 minutes and remove to wire racks to cool completely.

This recipe comes from Delisa Narr, West Bend, Wisconsin, in the "Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies & Bars", Fall 2006 edition, page 103.

Lemon Slices

I decided to make cookies this week, but I couldn't possibly narrow it down to just one. Thus a double cookie day, which of course made my day better. I sure had a hectic one. Baking almost always relaxes me, and this definitely worked. I'm taking the two cookie batches i'm making to Illinois this weekend. It's Spoon River Drive this weekend. I love this scenic drive, and shopping for fall crafts, antiques, and of course food. This cookie is the less labor intensive of the two I decided on.

from the "Good Housekeeping Great Baking" cookbook, Hearst Communications, Inc., published 1999, page 56

Lemon Slices
yield 60 cookies

2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large lemon
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus extra granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

In medium bowl; whisk together flour, powder, and salt. Set aside. Grate lemon into a small bowl. I used scissors to cut the zest smaller. Squeeze 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice into a small bowl.
In a large bowl; cream together 1/2 cup granulated sugar and powdered sugar until creamy. Beat in vanilla, lemon zest and juice, until mixed. Add the flour mixture and stir just until mixed.
Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into 6-inch long logs. Wrap each in saran wrap and refrigerated dough 1-3 hours. The original recipe says overnight, but this works too.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take 1 dough log out and cut into 30 equal slices, around 1/4-inch each. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets and bake 10-11 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned on the edges. Remove the cookies and let cool on pan(s) 2 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough log.
1 cookie per serving
Calories: 50
Fat: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 6 grams

Friday, October 2, 2009

Lemon Blueberry Zucchini Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

I decided on this recipe from The Pioneer Woman. I am using the last garden zucchini of the season, and this sounded like a good recipe to that with. I am taking it to a friend that I am visiting tomorrow. She hasn't been feeling in the best health for quite a while, and i'm hoping that Kelsey (her sister) and I can help with house work and bring her food, so she doesn't have to cook. I am also going to make Blueberry Muffins in the morning to take for breakfast. I'll let you know how both taste. The cake looks pretty good though.

(This recipe is adapted from the kitchen of The Pioneer Woman.)

Lemon Blueberry Zucchini Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
3 cups peeled, grated Zucchini
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup Fat-Free Vanilla Yogurt (drain some of the liquid if possible)
1/2 tsp. Lemon extract
3 cups unbleached flour (or all-purpose)
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. Lemon zest
2 cups frozen Blueberries, slightly thawed (you can use fresh as in the original recipe)

3 Tbsp. butter softened
3 of 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. Lemon zest
1-2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Grease and flour a bundt cake pan, set aside. Sift together dry ingredients in a small bowl, set bowl aside. In a large bowl, mix together zucchini, sugar, eggs, yogurt, and lemon extract. Lightly fold in the blueberries. Pour into the bundt pan. Bake for 65-75 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven, and let the cake sit in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
Frosting: Beat the butter and cream cheese until well blended and creamy. Add the zest and stir, then stir in the powdered sugar until fully incorporated. Stir in enough lemon juice to a consistency that is easily spreadable.

10/5: Officially, I tried some, the flavor was there, but the texture was not good at all. The yogurt substitution might have done it, but unfortunately i'm not really in the mood to try making it again to see if I could fix it. There are so many other recipes out there to try. It did look pretty good though. Disappointment has set in. :(

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

I decided on these cookies for 'Girl's Night', after some help from by bff Kelsey. They just sounded like fun. I found this recipe on http://www.culinaryconcoctionsbypeabody.com/2008/09/28/i-was-doing-so-good/
If you would like the original recipe, check it out there. I only varied it slightly. And next time I make these cookies, you better believe there will be a next time, I am going to change it a little more. They were soooooooo good! I love new recipes, and thank you to awesome bloggers for that!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
yield: I got 29 cookies, depending on the size scoop you use, it varies.

3 cups unbleached flour (or all-purpose)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed (I suppose light brown sugar would work)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 Tbsp. Fat-free Vanilla Yogurt
3 cups chilled pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 3-4 baking sheets with parchment paper. I had to use 4 baking sheets. In a large bowl: spoon flour into measuring cups and pour into bowl, mixing a whisk, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. In a second bowl, whisk together the oil and sugars. Add the pumpkin and mix thoroughly, then add the eggs and vanilla. Again whisk thoroughly. Pour in the flour mixture and stir until completely incorporated, no flour lumps please.
Use a Tablespoon sized cookie scoop, must have a release mechanism, drop full Tablespoonfuls onto the pans. Space the dough about 1 inch between each cookie. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick, making sure baked through. Cool the cookies on the pans until they come to room temperature. You can remove them to wire racks to cool completely, if you like.

Maple Syrup Cream Cheese Filling
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup/1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract

 Using a hand held mixer, beat the butter until creamy, add the cream cheese, syrup and vanilla. Beat until combined. Beat in the powdered sugar only until combined.
Turn half of the cookies upside down, place a heaping Tbsp. of frosting onto each half and place other half of cookies on top, pressing down slightly. Put the assembled pies/cookies into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. To store: Place in sealed containers and refrigerate.

Chai Shortbread

I saw this recipe in a Cooking Light magazine, courtesy of Juliana Grimes and Ann Taylor Pittman, December 2007 issue. I really liked their presentation, looks like a good Christmas idea...ok, I realize it's a little early, but I love, love, love Christmas! One thing about this recipe is that I would definitely double up on the spices next time, everything but the salt and pepper anyway.

Chai Shortbread
yield: 3 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups flour (spoon into measuring cups)
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash of ground cloves
dash of freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup powdered sugar
10 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
1 Tbsp. ice cold water
Mixing Tools: Whisk, Wooden Spoon, and Fork

Combine flour and spices through ground pepper with a whisk. In a separate bowl, using a wooden spoon, mix together sugar and butter until creamy. Sure, you can use a mixer, but I like the hard way. Using the wooden spoon, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until it appears crumbly. Sprinkle the water over the dough and toss with a fork until the dough mostly comes together. Divide in half and shape into 2"x6" logs, wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Unwrap dough, one log at a time. Using a serrated knife, cut each log into 18 equally sized slices. Place dough circles at least 1-inch apart on two greased baking sheets, or use parchment paper. Bake for 9-10 minutes, until lightly browned around edges. Cool cookies on pans for a few minutes, and then place cookies on a wire rack to cool completely. You can use twine or ribbon to neatly present 8 cookies in a festive way.

1 cookie per serving=57 calories, 3.2 grams of fat, and 0.2 grams of fiber

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Apple Praline Bread

Ok, I lied. I could not make it until Friday with making something. I have to bake at least every other day or every other two days. It's a compulsion. This brought me to the following quick bread.
I found this recipe in a magazine and apples are in season, so I naturally had to make it. Get it, had to!

Land O Lakes Recipe Collection "Harvest Baking" Magazine, page 48
Apple Praline Bread
(my slightly tweaked/lighter version of the original)
1 cup firmly packed Splenda Brown Sugar Baking Blend (or use regular brown sugar)
1/2 cup margarine/butter
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt or kosher salt
2 medium (2 cups) apples, peeled, grated
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup margarine/butter
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 3 mini (5 3/4x3-inch) loaf pans as the recipe calls for, or 6 extra mini (5x2-inch) loaf pans as I did.
In a medium bowl, stir together brown sugar, 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter until well combined, should be creamy. Add sour cream, eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add all remaining ingredients and until well combined. Then stir in shredded apples. Pour evenly into prepared pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes for the smaller loaf pans as I did, or 38-45 minutes for the larger pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack for about 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks. I was impatient, so I didn't wait until they were cooled all the way.
Meanwhile; for the topping, mix brown sugar and butter in a 1-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a boil (3-4 minutes). Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until well mixed and smooth (2-3 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in pecans. Pour evenly over bread. I ate them while it was still warm. Yum! The topping was awesome!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Brrr. Not winter, nope, I refuse!

It was almost cold enough to turn on the heat last night. Yuck. It's not even quite October yet. And I haven't even baked anything since Apple cake, which, shame shame on me, I haven't posted. That's just because the topping was not to my liking, so I am having a really hard time posting something on here that was not the best. It was a two part cake. The bottom cake layer, and topped with apples and cream with cinnamon&sugar on top. The cake was awesome! But the apple layer, hmmm...not so much. I will experiment and hopefully get back to this one again. Maybe blueberries. Oh how I love the yummy goodness of blueberries. Not on their own, no, but in dessert, oh man I am in love! The next time I make Melt-In-Your-Mouth Blueberry Cake, I am going to have to restrain myself. It is not going to last long in my house.
On a another note, I am making something, not sure what, for Girls' Night In, this Friday, and also a Lemon Blueberry Zucchini Cake for Saturday, which I am taking to a buddy o' mine. Update to come...Are you ready???

Monday, September 28, 2009

Puff Pastry Challenge (Vols-au-Vent)

(baking before the “jump” or “cut”) I could put this anywhere in the post, but you know what, i'm putting it here, just because I can. (For recognization of The Daring Baker's Challenge)

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' Challenge has been chosen by Steph of a whisk and a spoon. Steph chose Vols-au-Vent.

Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough

From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough

2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter

In a large bowl; mix both flours and salt together. Pour water in all at once at mix with wooden spoon as well as possible. Then use hands to mix the dough until you can form it into a ball. (the recipe used a food processor, but I don't have one, so...) Slash the top of the dough with a sharp knife in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the butter blocks side by side, lengthwise,  between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 1" thick. Mine ended up being more of a rectangle, but it worked. If the butter starts soften or become oily, chill it before continuing.
For the next part you'll need at a least a 2 ft. long work surface. I used my kitchen table, lightly flour. Take out the refrigerated dough and place it on your work surface, which has been dusted with all-purpose flour. Use a french style rolling pin (no handles=awesome!), press on the dough to flatten it by rolling to form four corners or a square, making sure to leave bit of a dome in the center of the square. Roll it into a 10" square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking. The effect should be a thick center with flaps.
Place the chilled butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't just pull the ends). In theory it was supposed to be a 8" square, mine was more rectangular.
If you are in a cool room, it will work better for puff pastry. I chilled 1 hour between every 2 turns of the dough. If the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry at any time, cover the dough with damp cloth and refrigerate it . It doesn't matter what point in the process you are, you can take a break to do this.
Making the Turns:
Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24" (don't be anal about it, trust me it's not a perfect process). With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary.
With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.
Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24" and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.
Chilling the Dough:
If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.
The total number of turns needed is six.  Plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.

Ta-da! my finished dough. It was a lot of work, but who cares, puff pastry rules!

Forming and Baking the Vols-au-Vent

Yield: 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe below will yield about 8-10 1.5” vols-au-vent or 4 4” vols-au-vent
Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
Divide your dough into 3 portions, using a very sharp knife. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled. You can freeze any unused portions of the dough. Wrap in plastic wrap, and double wrap in foil.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.
Use a round cutter, or shaped if you prefer to cut out 8-10 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wadding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides.)
Whatever cutter you decide to use, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.
Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Do not get any egg wash on sides of pastry dough. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.
Place the finished vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet and refrigerate. Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF.
Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a piece of parchment paper over top of the shells. This is going to help them from baking unevenly. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF , and remove the parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. If the centers have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down. Continue baking (without the sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minutes more. (If you are baking the center “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned.)
Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature for cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.
Fill and serve.
*Although they are at their best filled and eaten soon after baking, baked vols-au-vent shells can be stored airtight for a day.
*Shaped, unbaked vols-au-vent can be wrapped and frozen for up to a month (bake from frozen, egg-washing them first).
I did the requisite round shaped cutters, but also added some Autumn leaf and acorn shapes. I was in the Autumn mood.

Savory: I did a garlic roasted vegetable mix with the pumpkin shaped puff.

Acorn with Cranberry Sauce and Autumn Leaf with Lemon Curd. I made both of these fillings for the worthy occasion.
Yummy goodness. Cranberry sauce and whipped cream.

Officially a 'Daring Baker'

I joined the Daring Baker's website last month. Each month we are given a challenge to complete by the 1st of the following month and post on our blog, if we have them. This month was Puff Pastry. To tell you the truth, I was rather aprehensive, considering that I have never made the stuff, nor had the extra 'push' to do so. I was surprised at how worth it it was to make. I am going to be doing a separate post for this process.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mini Creamy Chocolate Cupcakes

I decided to make cupcakes for my mother's b-day. Easy right? Not so much. I started with a 12 cup regular size muffin tin. And they turned out great, until I went to dump them out. Completely broken in half. So I was about to give up, when it dawned on me...to make something up and hope for the best. For once, it worked.
From this:

To This:

Here is how I did it...
One "Incredibly Moist Chocolate Cupcake" recipe adapted from Nick Malgieri's cookbook "The Modern Baker"
Incredibly Moist Chocolate Cupcakes
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate,cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup boiling water
(I did 3/4 cup boiling water, mixed with 1/4 cup of very strongly brewed coffee)
Coffee brings out the flavor in chocolate, trust me.
1 stick (8Tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If you are going to go the easy route, please line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners, otherwise try greasing and flouring the cups. In a medium bowl; stir together the sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Put all of the cut-up chocolate in a large mixing bowl. Pour the boiling water over the chocolate and cover with a dish towel. Let stand for 2 minutes, then gently whisk until batter is smooth. Whisk in the melted butter, then whisk in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla flavoring and finally the sour cream.
Whisk in the flour mixture in 3 separate additions. Make sure to mix well after each addition.
Divide the batter among the muffin cups. And yes the batter will reach to almost the top of the cups. Bake the cupcakes for about 20 minutes, or until they are firm to the touch. Another testing method is to insert a toothpick into the center of 1 or 2 cupcakes, and it comes clean. Let the cupcakes cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then invert the pan and unmold the cupcakes. Turn them right side up again and let them cool completely.
I at least should have floured the pans. But oh well, live and learn. At least it led me to a new creative  recipe.
Even when all hope seemed lost. Ding ding, the light bulb went off. I took out a block of cream cheese to soften to room temperature. And after the broken cupcakes cooled, I crumbled them all up in a large bowl. Then I mixed in the cream cheese until well incorporated. Next came the mini muffin tin. A 24 cupper. I sprayed the cups with cooking spray, pressed the cake mixture into each until level with the top of the pan and baked at 350 degrees for another 8 minutes. I immediately took it out and and inverted the muffin tin. I had no patience at this point. It makes 36 mini muffins, so, I had to do the same thing again using half the pan. Let the cupcakes cool completely on the wire rack.

And from my new favorite book, I adapted a recipe for ganache by cutting it in half.
Cindy Mushet "The Art&Soul of Baking"
Milk Chocolate Ganache
6 ounces milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat until it just comes to a boil. Make sure to constantly stir the cream, so it doesn't scald. Immediately pour over chocolate and let stand 1 minute, covered with a dish towel, or uncovered. Gently whisk until the ganache is smooth and all of the chocolate is melted. Let the ganache sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Dip the top of the mini cupcakes into the ganache and place bottom side down back on the cooling rack to set up. If you really want to make them cute, put a chocolate chip onto the center of each cupcake. I love mistakes sometimes!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cran-Apple Crisp

I made this sometime last week, but am just now getting around to posting. I needed to use an apple before it went bad, and the rest of the ingredients last forever, so...I used 'em.
1 serving (can easily be multiplied)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1 medium-large Apple, sliced thin
1 Tbsp. each dried cherries, cranberries, and raisins
3 packets Splenda
dash of ground nutmeg, or freshly grated
2 dashes of ground cinnamon, or to your liking
Mix fruit, sugar, and spices in a small bowl. Pour into a small ramekin.
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. quick cooking oats
Use a fork to cut butter into ingredients and mix until crumbly, pea size mixture. Sprinkle over fruit. I lightly sprinkled cinnamon on top (optional)
Place ramekin on cookie sheet and bake 30-40 minutes, or until top is lightly browned, and no longer gooey.

Maple Leaf Cookies

2nd cookie of the weekend. I love fall, and these look just like the best fall cookie ever.
(The Ultimate Cookie Book; Tormont Publications)
Yield 4 dozen
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup maple syrup (I used Pure Maple Syrup)
1 egg
2 1/4 cups flour
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. maple extract (or 1 1/2 tsp. Pure Maple Syrup)
3-4 Tbsp. heavy cream
Cream butter until fluffy. Gradually blend in maple syrup and egg. Fold in flour gently. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease baking pans.

Roll dough out on well-floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness. This is tricky. Keep your rolling pin floured. Cut out maple leaf shapes with a cookie cutter and bake 8-10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown around edges. Cool on wire rack.
Icing; cream butter and sugar. Add maple flavoring, then cream, 1 teaspoon at a time until you reach desired spreading consistency.
Spread icing on 24 of the cookies, then cover with the other 24 cookies to make sandwiches.

Maple Leaf Cookies and Buttermilk Spice Crisps

Buttermilk Spice Crisps

Ok, so it was an ambitous weekend. As to why I say this, well...I can't tell you yet. To be announced 5 days from now. I recently joined the Daring Bakers group and just completed my first challenge. But, shhh! it's a secret for the aforementioned time. I hope your excited, because it's awesome! In the meantime I also made 2 types of cookies this weekend. The following crisps being one of them.

Buttermilk Spice Crisps (Taste of Home; Best Loved Cookies & Bars)
Yield 6 dozen
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar (yes I did sub again,  using Splenda Sugar Blend)
1/3 cup buttermilk
4 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
In a large mixing bowl (note the amount of flour, it's going to get messy, so yes a large bowl); cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and buttermilk. In a second bowl; combine flour, baking soda, and the last 4 ingredients. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Shape into 2 9-inch rolls; wrap each in plastic wrap (I used wax paper and then plastic wrap). Refrigerate for 4 hours or until firm.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap one cookie log and cut into 1/4-inch slices (should be able to get 36 cookies from each roll; I cut the log in half, and each half cut in half. Divide each 1/4 of dough into 3rds and then 3rds again.) Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Raspberry Bars

Beware! If you make these bars, you may want to hide them from your family and friends. They are so good, it's hard to eat just one. I speak from personal experience.

1st and 3rd layer:
2 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks real butter, softened and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (or salted, might want to withdraw extra salt then)
1 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
13x9x2 pan, line with doubled foil, along bottom and up sides. Spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl: mix flour, granulated sugar, and salt (if using unsalted butter). Using an electric mixer, beat in butter 3-4 pieces at a time. Mix until well combined and batter looks like wet sand. Take 1 1/4 cups of the flour mixture and place in a medium bowl. Set bowl aside.

Evenly press remaining flour mixture into bottom of the prepared pan. Press down with the bottom of a measuring cup or use your hands. Bake about 20 minutes or until lightly browned at the edges.
While the bottom crust bakes, take reserved flour mixture and mix in the oats and brown sugar. Add the 2 Tbsp. butter, and using your fingers, or a fork, work the mixture until it is combined and starts to stick together, set aside.
2nd layer:
3/4 cup red raspberry preserves
3/4 cup fresh raspberries (or frozen berries, thaw and make sure to drain, make sure equals 3/4 cup)
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice (or bottled)
In a small bowl, combine raspberry preserves, berries, and lemon juice. Mash lightly with a fork as you mix. Spread the mixture over the hot crust. Ok, you caught me. I sprinkled just a bit more fresh raspberries over the preserves too. Sprinkle with reserved oat mixture. Make sure to not press oat mixture into berries. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until top is golden brown and the filling is bubby.

Remove pan to wire rack. Once bars are completely cool, remove from pan, by pulling on foil at opposite ends and lifting up, place on wire rack. Peel the foil away from the bars, be very careful, you may have to use a knife to help it along. Cut into 20-24 pieces and enjoy! Store in closed container at room temperature.