Posts filed under ‘dessert’

Operation Baking GALs + Blondies Bake-Off 2009

Can you believe I’ve never eaten a blondie much less baked one? I have no idea why. Blondies are like the butterscotch distant cousin of brownies. I like brownies. I like butterscotch. What’s not to love right? Again. I ask myself. How the heck did I go 30 years without making or eating a blondie?

I have no answer for you. But I do have the answer to why I decided after all these years to give it a try. For my friend April of Winer Lover’s Cooking Diary. Yes, she *IS* the chick on her blog wearing the wedding dress on the side menu bar. Damn girl can still fit into her wedding dress. Let’s all hate her for a moment. *hate hate hate*

Ok I got that out of my system. Back to my happy place.

The blondies are for her… well… more like her brother. April’s brother is serving in Iraq. That’s where April and Operation Baking GALS comes in. When she put out the “tweet” to join her team, I knew I’d join. She’s a good friend of mine. One of those friends that you’d do anything for. If she asked me to jump, I’d say “How high?” If she asked me to quit eating pizza, I’d say “Are you crazy, woman??” But she’d never ask me to do that b/c friends don’t let friends quit eating pizza. Am I right, April? HA HA!

I had a couple things in mind when I started brainstorming what I wanted to send to April’s brother. Since I am a very indecisive person (Just ask my husband when we try to figure out what restaurant to eat at) I asked April what she thought her brother would want. The following tweet is her reply.

I can’t deny. The woman speaks the truth. My 18 year old brother eats everything. Except fish. He doesn’t like food that “looks” at him while he’s chewing their innards. *cuckoo* Crazy kid!

Toodaloo lovely readers. I am off to figure out how to fill out a customs form. It can’t be “that” hard right? Famous last words.



Basic Blondies
Recipe from Cook Like A Champion

INGREDIENTS

6-7 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Variations:
White Chocolate Macadamia Blondies inspired by Erin’s Food Files
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup macadamia nuts

Peanut Butter Cup Blondies inspired by Baking Blonde
10 peanut butter cups, rough chop

Snickerdoodle Blondies inspired by Two Peas and Their Pod
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp white sugar+1 tbsp cinnamon, sprinkle on top before baking

Funfetti Blondies inspired by my childhood love of Funfetti
1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8×8 pan with foil and lightly spray with PAM.

In a large microwave safe bowl, melt the butter. Let cool for 5 minutes. Combine butter and brown sugar and mix until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla. Add salt, stir in flour and baking powder.

Mix in additions. (See above for suggestions)

Pour into prepared pan and use a greased spatula to evenly spread mixture in pan and level the top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until set in the middle. Cool on rack before cutting.


Hint: I’m told that saran wrap+freezing will keep blondies tasting delicious for weeks.

ENJOY!

Husband rating: A+
Of all the variations he said the peanut butter cups were the best. No surprise from my peanut butter addict there! haha

Wifey rating: A
So.FREAKING.good. The edges are the best part! I think my favorite was the white chocolate and macadamia but the snickerdoodle was a close 2nd! Yum! The only thing is I wish they would have been thicker so maybe I’ll double the recipe or use a smaller pan for maximum volume next time.

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July 8, 2009 at 7:16 pm 14 comments

Black & White Marbled Cheesecake

Alright already! I get it.

I made a mistake. I misquoted. Whatever you wanna call it.

I made this cheesecake (slight caramel variation) back in December for my baking group, Tuesdays with Dorie, and mentioned that my favorite cheesecake was actually from TGIFridays. If you don’t remember, let me jog your memory mkay? But what I didn’t know and what many readers since then have emailed me is that TGIFridays gets their cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. {smacks head}

Thanks TGIFridays. You just made me look like schmuck in front of my readers. Thanks for that. So I’m going on record now to say… my favorite cheesecake is from The Cheesecake Factory b/c TGIFridays is just the middle man.

Happy?

Whew! I’m glad to get that off my chest.

Now I can move on with my life.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made Dorie Greenspan’s cheesecake. Of all the recipes I’ve made from her book this is the one that gets requested over and over and over again. I am sure I’ll eventually try every variation in her book. I’ve been drooling over the orange version. Baker friends tell me it tastes like a creamsicle. Holy yum batman!

But for this one I decided to go classic chocolate and vanilla. I made this it for Mother’s Day. (Yeah yeah it’s been almost a week so sue me!) And I find it highly amusing that T’s mom requested a cake and T gave me this long convoluted explanation that a cheesecake has “cake” in the name so therefore I should make cheesecake for his mom’s request of “cake”. Basically the man is a sucker for this cheesecake.

I know you will be too.


Recipe from Baking: From My Home To Yours, Dorie Greenspan

Makes about 16 servings (or 8 PHAT slices!)

INGREDIENTS

For the crust
1-3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake
2 pounds (four 8-ounce boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
1-1/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1-1/3 cups sour cream or heavy cream, or a combination of the two
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

INSTRUCTIONS

To make the crust—
Butter a 9-inch springform pan—choose one that has sides that are 2 3/4 inches high (if the sides are lower, you will have cheesecake batter leftover)—and wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil; put the pan on a baking sheet.

Combine the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. (I do this with my fingers.) Add graham cracker crumb mixture into buttered springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs along the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven.

Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350°F and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

To make the cheesecake—
Put a kettle of water on to boil.

Working in a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition—you want a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the sour cream and/or heavy cream.

Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in the roaster pan.

Add 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled to 1/3 of the batter in a separate bowl. Pour all of the vanilla batter into the springform pan, dollop the top of the batter with the chocolate batter and use a table knife to swirl the chocolate batter with the vanilla batter.



I think I was suppose to dollop little amounts of chocolate all over but I was a little overzealous pouring it out and created one big blob! Oops! HAHA

Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top will be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven’s heat and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.

After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster and remove the foil. (Be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil.) Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.

When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and chill the cake for at least 4 hours, although overnight would be better.

ENJOY!

Husband rating: A+
He absolutely loves this cheesecake recipe and requests it for any and every occasion. He raved about the mix of chocolate and vanilla batters.

Wifey rating: A/A+
I love this cheesecake recipe. It’s my go-to recipe. I am a cheesecake purist though so I like pure vanilla cheesecake more than the marbled variation.

Other rating: A+
Nothing but raves from family and friends. Everyone loved the chocolate swirls!

May 15, 2009 at 5:40 am 28 comments

Bruleed Pumpkin Custard Tart

Happy PI day readers!

Get it? It’s March 14th… 3.14!

Now that is some GREAT nerd love for you right there.

I think many bakers are nerdy. Maybe it’s just me. But I am proud to be a nerd. Don’t you think that baking is kinda nerdy? Measuring ingredients is a science. Why do you think that Rachael Ray says she doesn’t like to bake? You can’t do a palmful of this and a pinch of that in baking. It’s a precise craft. That’s why I love it. Makes me feel like my chemistry labs in college weren’t a waste of time. Although I do admit that when mixing a liter of this and a gallon of that went *kaboom poof*, I did a little jig.

Clara, hate to break it to you but you made a tart. Not a pie.

Au contraire, mon frère.

Dictionarynoun: a small pie filled with cooked fruit or other sweetened preparation, usually having no top crust. slang: a prostitute or promiscuous woman.

(Sorry I had to throw in the slang because it made me laugh. I rarely use “tart” in the slang reference. I prefer slut or whore myself. IE. My ex-SIL is a lying cheating whore. See? It works so much better.)

But there are mixed feelings on the whole tart-pie controversy among my tweeples. (That’s twitter+people for the ignorant.)

So… break the tie for me? Is a tart a pie? and why?


Recipe from Catch The Spoon

Makes 1-9inch tart (8-10 servings)

INGREDIENTS

Dough for 1 pie crust (I used Dorie Greenspan’s pie dough recipe)
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/3 cup whole milk (I used half-and-half instead)
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup for topping
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
pinch salt
2 whole eggs plus 2 egg whites, lightly beaten

9″ round fluted tart pan, buttered (I used my 9.5″ tart pan)

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 400F degrees.

Fit pie dough into the tart pan and dock with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes and cool, in pan, on a wire rack.


[NOTES: I followed Smitten Kitchen’s fabulous pie dough unfolding technique using a 11-inch plate (she used 12-inch) template. So easy!]

Lower oven temperature to 350F degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together canned pumpkin, milk, cream, 1/3 cup sugar, vanilla, spices, salt, and eggs until well-combined. Pour into crust and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until filling is almost set. Cool to room temperature, then cover and chill 6 hours or overnight.


Just before serving, sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup sugar over top of tart; melt sugar under broiler or with a kitchen torch to desired brulee. Serve immediately.

ENJOY!

Husband rating: A/A+
Hubs is a pumpkin fan so he had more than one slice. Even though recipe says 8-10 servings I think I only got about 6 servings b/c he cut himself a PHAT slice for each helping. haha

Wifey rating: A
I am not a big pumpkin fan but add some burned sugar on top and you got an amazing dessert. Maybe next time I’ll dollop some whipped cream on top too. I am a little bummed that the crust kinda shrank but next time I use Dorie’s recipe I’ll follow her pie baking instructions instead of “docking with a fork”.

Other rating: A+
T’s mom and dad raved about the pie. They both love pumpkin. T’s dad called dibs on the leftovers after eating his first bite. It was hilarious.

March 14, 2009 at 8:20 am 33 comments

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies

You know?

I am not usually a cookie person.

I think I am more of a cakey dessert person so I rarely get a craving for cookies much less baking them. But today I wanted… No. I NEEDED some cookies. (I seem to need alot of desserts these days huh?) But not just any cookies. Chocolate chip cookies. Why? Because I am 52.6% melancholy and only chocolate chip would do. That’s why.

Ever since I saw them on my foodie all around bestie’s blog, almost a year ago (dang has it really been that long?), I’ve had them on my must-bake-someday list and TODAY was the day! But since her instructions are… ahem… condensed, I also found the recipe on fellow TWDer, Erin’s blog too. I knew I couldn’t go wrong with a recipe that 2 of my favorite blog reads agree are the BEST chocolate chips cookies…

Side note: A little nifty trick that I got from above fbff. One of the biggest reason I am not a cookie baker is b/c it takes time to make and bake each cookie so she told me to bake up some and freeze the rest of the dough for a future cookie craving. So that’s what I did! I made all the dough balls, froze them on a parchment-lined shelf in my freezer until they were solid, then stored them in a ziplock freezer bag and put back in the freezer for another day. Easy peasy!


(Recipe from Dinner & Dessert | photos from me!)

Makes 18 large cookies (I made about 75 minis)

INGREDIENTS

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10-5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light or dark brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 to 1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used 1 cup semi-sweet)

INSTRUCTIONS

Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chips to taste.



Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough’s uneven surface. Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.

[NOTES: I wanted to make mini cookies so I used my kitchen scale and weighed out 0.5oz dough balls.]

Bake until the cookies are light golden grown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a side metal spatula.

[NOTES: I baked my minis for about 10 minutes.]

ENJOY!

Husband rating: N/A

Wifey rating: A+
These were bite size, soft, chocolate gooey-ness and perfect for my craving. I am officially renaming these cookies Betcha-Can’t-Eat-Just-One-Of-Them Cookies or BCEJOOTC for short. HAHA

November 5, 2008 at 1:19 pm 21 comments

Strawberry White Chocolate Cheesecake Cups

Sometimes a girl just needs some cheesecake.

Can you blame me?


(Recipe adapted from Kraft Food & Family | photos from me!)

Makes about 14 cupcakes

INGREDIENTS

12 Oreo cookies, finely crushed
4oz white chocolate, divided (I used Ghiradelli)
2-8oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
12+ tbsp strawberry preserves

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350F. Line cupcake pan with liners

Press about 1tsbp of crushed cookie into bottom of each cupcake liner. Melt 3oz white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in 15-30 sec intervals. Be careful not to burn chocolate. Set aside.

In a stand mixer with a flat beater, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until well blended. Add melted chocolate; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, until blended. Fill cupcake liners almost to the top.


Bake for 20-25 minutes or until almost set. Cool 5 minutes. Spread about 1+ tbsp preserves on top of each cupcake. Melt remaining chocolate and drizzle over cheesecake. Refrigerate for about 4 hours or overnight.


[NOTES: I put the remaining melted white chocolate in a ziplock bag and snipped off a little corner to drizzle. Easy cleanup!]

ENJOY!

Husband rating: A+
He’s not usually a white chocolate fan but he loves cheesecake and raved about this one. He liked the strawberry topping b/c it added a nice sweet tang and the white chocolate drizzle b/c it was “purdy”. HAHA

Wifey rating: A+
Ohmygod. So.freaking.good. I won’t tell you how many I ate. All I am gonna say is… I better get my cheescake butt to the gym tomorrow.

November 1, 2008 at 3:56 pm 13 comments

Homemade Samoas

(image credit: Living Novel)

Do you know what the BEST cookie in this world is…? (Aliens might have a better cookie so I am leaving it as an option just in case.)

Samoas!!!

Also known as Caramel De-Lites (but they will always be Samoas to me).

Now I know that plenty of you will disagree with me. My hubs is a Tagalong die-hard but there’s something about that caramel, coconut, shortbread and chocolate that satisfies every cookie craving for me.

It’s a good thing that the little box only holds 15-20 odd cookies b/c I’d gladly eat more in one sitting. I have memories of tummy aches to prove it. But its SO worth it. HAHA. Don’t even shake your head and tut tut tut at me. You know you’ve done the same thing yourself. Maybe when a boy broke your heart and you found your stash of girl scout cookies was the best medicine for the pain? I know the feeling girlfriend… ::shaking head knowingly::

But those darn cookies are a limited commodity and my girl scout connection grew out of her green sash with button flair and into piercings and boys. Frick! So imagine my “delight” (Get it? “Delight”? It’s called Caramel De-lite. Get it?? Is this thing on?) when I found a homemade version of a Samoa.

Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice.


(Recipe from Baking Bites | photos from me!)

Makes about 3-1/2 to 4 dozen (I halved the recipe and got 30 cookies)

INGREDIENTS

For cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
up to 2 tablespoons milk

For topping
3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12-ounces good-quality chewy caramels ( I used Wether’s Chewy Caramels)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
8 ounces dark or semisweet chocolate

INSTRUCTIONS

To making cookies—
Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt at a low speed, followed by the vanilla and milk, adding in the milk as needed to make the dough come together without being sticky (it’s possible you might not need to add milk at all). The dough should come together into a soft, not-too-sticky ball. Add in a bit of extra flour if your dough is very sticky.


[NOTES: I added 1 tbsp of milk but I probably didn’t need to add anything.]

Roll the dough (working in two or three batches) out between pieces of wax paper to about 1/4-inch thickness (or slightly less) and use a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter to make rounds. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and use a knife, or the end of a wide straw, to cut a smaller center hole. Repeat with remaining dough.


[NOTES: I used the small end of my 2A round tip to cut out the center hole. Next time I’ll probably use a different size cookie cutter, maybe my 2 inch instead for a bigger cookie.]

Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until bottoms are lightly browned and cookies are set.

Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make topping—
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F

Spread coconut evenly on a rimmed baking sheet 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.


Using the spatula or a small offset spatula, spread topping on cooled cookies, using about 2-3 tsp per cookie. Reheat caramel for a few seconds in the microwave if it gets too firm to work with.

While topping sets up, 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 cookie into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a piping bag or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle finished cookies with chocolate.

Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

[NOTES: I popped my tray into the frig for the chocolate to set for about an hour.]

ENJOY!

Husband rating: A
He liked the homemade version but he’s a tagalong man so its not his favorite girl scout cookie.

Wifey rating: A
It really tastes like a samoa!! But this recipe takes a little time to make (about 2 hours for me, not counting the setting chocolate part) so I’d only make this again by special request or a serious craving from a pregnant friend during the girl scout off-season.

October 10, 2008 at 10:45 am 14 comments

LOC #2: Grandma’s 85th Birthday Cake

Its almost been a week since the festivities but I finally have some quiet time to divulge the whole sorted story now. (I might be a tad melodramatic today.)

Well… you all read my refrigerator woes but just in case here’s the recap:

1. My frig took a crap.
2. I was forced to cook/bake out of a cooler for a couple days.

How did folks survived in the olden days without a frig? My kitchen was so chaotic! It was back breaking work to drain the melted ice water and refill the coolers with new ice every day! and PS if anyone finds themselves in the same sitch… ziplock your butter! I put my butter in the cooler, the ice melted and water got into the boxes. Its ok for cooking but baking is an exact science and getting my buttercream to be light and fluffy wasn’t happening with water soaked butter. Trust me. I learned that the goopy-not-for-human-consumption way. UGH! I don’t want to talk about it anymore… (It definitely wasn’t baker error. ok maybe?)

But all is right with the world again. I have a new refrigerator. Its no stainless steel, internet ready mega refrigerator but it works for me. At least I have an ice maker now! w00t!

Enough frig talk. Onto the cake…

T’s grandmother (you can see her in the picture with my FIL on my wedding day) turned the ripe ol age of 85 last Saturday and who volunteered her cake services without hesitation? Me? Heck no! My mother-in-law! LOL.

My mother-in-law told T’s grandmother I’d be making her birthday cake. Under normal condition this wouldn’t have phased me at all. I am not the greatest layer cake-er ever (I tend to stick to cupcakes myself) but I am growing an appreciation for layer cakes and have made a couple on occasion. But the whole “no refrigerator thing” made cake-ing slightly harder than usual this time. In MIL’s defense the frig broke after she had asked me to bake the cake. She did give me an out b/c of the circumstances but I decided (b/c I am glutton for punishment) to bake it anyways.

I decided to do a Tuesdays with Dorie Rewind and create the Black and White cake for T’s grandmother’s birthday. Its been on my rewind list for a while now and figured it would be my submission for Layers of Cake Event too. I did make a few adjustments though. Instead of the white chocolate cream layer, I couldn’t get it to work (I guess ghiradelli isn’t high enough quality?), I opted for the Perfect Party Cake buttercream instead. (Props to my caker-licious friend, Nikki, for that rec! *muah*)

I also went out and bought new butter. ::smacks head::

(more…)

September 24, 2008 at 11:29 am 14 comments

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