Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mocha Scones

I saw the recipe for these on My Baking Addiction and knew I had to make them.  They aren't a hard, crunchy scone, so I was excited to try it.  I just had to find some sour cream - every store I went to had no dairy due to power outages and running on generators.  Yesterday I finally found some - I went out super early in the morning and did a happy dance when I found out my local grocery store was almost back to full operation and had sour cream....I went straight home and got things going, because let's face it - these look amazing.

finished scone
This recipe is extremely easy - and you get to grate frozen butter.  Don't know why but I always enjoy doing's fun to see how easy it grates.  Before I know it I have my dough all ready and time to pat it out.  Warning - you need A LOT of flour to pat this is extremely sticky.  If think you have enough flour, put a little more down - it sticks to everything. 

before i got it into a square
Once you get it into the shape you want (you can either leave it as a circle or shape it into a rectangle), time to cut away.  I had issues with this part - not the cutting, but getting them to be all even - and then they stuck to the counter so that just made some of them ugly looking.  But time to bake away

some are pretty
some are not so pretty
They bake up nicely and don't puff up so you can put a lot more than 6 on each pan if you want.  Once they turn golden brown, take them out and let them cool.  Once cooled, time for the frosting.  Which is really good. 

clearly I was having issues
when I frosted this one
Heays got home first and had one, and said that they were all hers and that Ween couldn't have any because they were that good.  Then Heays went out and Ween got home and said they were amazing.  When I told her what Heays had said she said that so wasn't fair.  Texts were sent over who was getting more scones.....very funny :) 

So go and make these!! Easy and clearly a hit!  I handed some out to taste testers yesterday as well, but I don't get their feedback until the next time I go in - which is probably going to be tomorrow the way I'm baking this week. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sugar cookies with a little something extra

I survived Hurricane Irene and only lost power for a couple of hours Sunday night.....even though by the time it got to where I lived it was a Tropical Storm, it still did some damage.  Lots of trees and wires are down.  Most of the people in my town still don't have power and might not get power back until the end of the week, my parents are in that group.  So yesterday I was trying to figure out what to bake, thinking that it had to be something with the bag of Reese's Pieces I had in the cabinet that has been taunting me for a week now to use it in something.  Should I make brownies and put them in there?  Done that a ton of times.  Should I make chocolate chip cookies and use the Pieces instead of chips?  Wasn't feeling right.  My sisters kept telling me if I wasn't going to use them for baking they would help me out by eating them.  I was going to use them for baking.....its what I bought them for and that's what I'm going to use them for.  So Ween had suggested that I make sugar cookies and put them in the cookie.  On top of the cookie or in the batter I asked - either she said.  So I thought about it and it sounded like a good idea.  Plus, I love a good sugar cookie, and why not kick it up a little with something fun in it. 

Now if you want to make a straight up amazing sugar cookie, don't add the Reese's Pieces to this and when you scoop them out on the cookie sheet, flatten them a little and then brush the tops of each cookie with milk and then sprinkle with sugar.  You will have an amazing cookie when they come out of the oven.  And depending on what size cookie scoop you use will determine how many cookies you get - the bigger the cookie scoop, the smaller the yield is.  I like to use my 1 1/2" cookie scoop - it's the standard size cookie scoop and I use it for everything. 

I scoop out the cookies and away they go into the oven.  About 12 minutes later I had cookies out of the oven and smelling so good. 

cookies everywhere
Easy, simple recipe that doesn't take a lot of time.  Add what you want to this recipe - sugar cookies go well with any candy/topping that you want to add in, it's a very easy going cookie.

Sugar Cookies

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temp
2 large eggs
1 tbsp milk
1 bag Reese's Pieces

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.
  2. Put sugars in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on medium speed for 30 seconds.  Add butter; mix until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute.  Mix in eggs one at a time, and then the milk.  Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture.  Add Reese's Pieces and mix until well distributed.
  3. Scoop out dough onto parchment paper lined baking sheets.  Bake cookies until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.  Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely.  Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.  

Friday, August 26, 2011

Chewy Chocolate Mint Cookies

Being on a baking roll this week, I found this easy cookie recipe while searching through my huge stack of cookbooks.  It seems to be growing and I fear that one day they will topple over on the table and it will be a bad scene.  Must look into getting a book stand or something for them in the kitchen so they don't take up so much space on the table.  I skimmed the recipe real quick, I didn't have everything I needed for it, but I could change it up and improvise a little - and I was pretty happy with how they turned out. 

You don't even need your mixer for this one - just a bowl and a spatula.  Who doesn't love recipes like that?  Truly means they are quick and easy.  Once the dough was all ready, it just needed 30 min to chill in the fridge.  Then I scooped them out and rolled the dough into balls and baked away. 

naked cookies
Once all cooled comes the fun part of frosting them and then drizzling chocolate on them.  The frosting was super simple and easy (and I didn't get any green food coloring on me this time).  Frosted each cookie and then it was time to melt the chocolate.  Once it was ready, i put it in a plastic bag and cut the corner and drizzled away.  I always like doing this part - I find it really fun and you don't need any artistic ability to do it (which I clearly don't have if you saw my last post about my dad's birthday cake). 

pretty :)
Feedback from taste testers was good.  I might change up the cookie next time I make them, but they are pretty tasty :)  A pretty, chewy version of a Grasshopper cookie.

Chewy Chocolate Mint Cookies
makes 25 - 40 cookies
(depending on how big you make them)

4 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1 large egg
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp peppermint extract

Peppermint Frosting:
1 cup confectioners sugar
few drops of green food coloring
few drops of peppermint extract
2 tbsp boiling milk
3 oz semi sweet chocolate, melted for drizzling

  1. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a microwave safe bowl and stir until smooth.  Whisk in the egg and sugar and mix until incorporated.  Stir in flour, baking powder and peppermint extract until well combined.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until firm enough to handle. 
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.  Roll the mixture into teaspoon sized balls or larger and place on prepared sheets.   Bake 8-10 minutes, or until firm and slightly wrinkled.  Let cool on baking sheet for a few minutes and then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.
  3. Make frosting:  Place confectioners sugar in a small bowl and add the food coloring, peppermint extract and milk and stir until smooth.  Taste and adjust if necessary.  Place small dollops of frosting in the centers of cookies and spread using a small spatula or knife.  Drizzle melted chocolate over the top of each cookie.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dad's Birthday

Over the weekend we were talking about what my Dad wanted to do for his birthday this week, and I asked him if he wanted cupcakes or cake.  His reply was both.  And then he smiled and gave me his sad eyes and knew I would cave.  I mean my Dad doesn't ask for things a lot, and he is truly one of my biggest baking fans, so I said I would make both.  Cake on his birthday and cupcakes for the weekend.  Let's just say I was determined to make this thing as pretty as I could..........

this is the final product
but we'll get back to this later I got to baking the cake in my awesome new cake pans that I got from Ween for Christmas (shows you how much I actually make cake right?!  But they are from Pampered Chef and they are awesome....and if you have super dark tins [like dark grey or black] at home, make sure that you decrease the oven degree by 50 degrees, not 25 - and cut some time off -they come out perfectly this way). 

perfectly baked and cooling
I was texting my Dad throughout the day with the progress of his birthday cake.  I made the cake at my place and then frosted it at my parents since we were having dinner there.  I went over there with all I needed, but once I got there I realized that I left my pastry gun at home.  I didn't feel like going back and getting it so I improvised.....but we will get to that in a little bit. 

Time to frost this baby.  I put one layer on the cake pedestal and glob a ton of homemade frosting on top. I've always enjoyed frosting things - don't really know why.  Then I placed the other cake on top - and of course it broke - but the joys of frosting is that it hides everything and I quickly lost concern about it. 

cake sandwich
Time to really frost now.  I scoop out most of my frosting and go to town. 

kind of pretty cake
I have some frosting left and decide to put it in a ziploc bag and try to pretty this thing up.  I couldn't do what I had intended to do so I did what I thought would look best.......

i know - its just too pretty for words
 I'm laughing at how not pretty this thing is and my Mom is in the other room so I ask her if I should pipe my Dad's age in giant numbers in the middle of the cake.  She laughs really hard and says "I don't think your father would appreciate that".  I laughed and said ok we will leave it as is.  I texted a pic to my Dad of the finished product and he replied "Looks yummy cant wait".  That made me feel better - I replied that it's not the prettiest thing but it was made with love.  I had also posted the final pic on Facebook and the comments there were just as supportive - I've stated from the beginning that I don't have much artistic ability and you will probably only see a cake on here a couple of times, but I promise that I will try to make them pretty each time :) And if I can find a picture of the infamous Penguin Cake from years ago - I will post it.  But my Dad was so happy to have his cake - and it was really good.  He had seconds.  Now I get to make him cupcakes this weekend. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

It's been a week since I've posted - last week just got away from me.  I had another doctors appointment and things are looking good - except for the fact that I still can't feel my pinky finger (and half of my elbow).  I have to go back in a month for some more tests.  Let's just say my car ride home wasn't fun and all I wanted was a hug from someone.  My doctor suggested that I bake more - make lots of bread and try to see if that helps.  So why not get into the kitchen?  :)  My Dad's birthday is this week and over the weekend we were talking about what he wanted for his birthday, cake or cupcakes.  Somehow he talked me into making both for him.  Cake for his birthday, and cupcakes for the weekend.  So you will see my first cake on here this week - not promising that it will be decorated pretty, but it will be damn tasty. 

One of my Dads requests was for the Heath Bar problem.  But I didn't want to make them with a box mix again - which meant doctoring up my favorite recipe since it's too thin to hold anything in the middle without it sinking to the bottom.  But I had to test it out before I made his cupcakes for him, and why not make it with some peanut butter cups in the middle?  A true test to see if it would work or not.  Away I went fixing amounts of things and adding things to the recipe.  By the time I was ready to put the batter into the tins, I was pleased with the results, it was definitely thicker and would hold the weight of things.  I scooped out some batter and placed a frozen peanut butter cup in the middle of each cup.......

yum yum
.....and covered the tops with more batter.  Away they went to bake and before I knew it they were done and cooling.  Now comes the fun part of decorating them.  Make my frosting from scratch and get a ganache going as well and unwrap a million little peanut butter cups. 

why hello sugar
I mean yes - these are really sweet, but so good. 

look at how well it held out! still cake
under the peanut butter cup!
Hoping that people would like them, I made a treat run to Heay's for her co-workers.  Everyone loved them.  I'm still tinkering with the batter recipe, not fully satisfied with it yet.  But pleased that they turned out so well on my first try.  For now if you want to make these, follow the recipe from My Baking Addiction for the Rolo Cupcakes and just replace the Rolo's with Peanut Butter Cups. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mini Woopie Pies

Still taking it easy in the baking department, I was looking through my recipes deciding which ones I can do and which ones I can't and came across my family recipe of Woopie Pies.  I love these things.  Growing up on them has lead me to be a Woopie Pie snob, and every time I try one from some place I'm always let down.....either the cake part doesn't taste right or the filling is just gross.  So I have learned to just make my own every time I'm in the mood for them since no other one will live up to my standards of what one should be.  And yesterday I had the bright idea of making them into mini pies instead of the giant ones they usually make.  I thought it was a genius idea.  And I must say, they turned out so freaking cute.  The thing I love most about these is that they are super simple to make.  It came together quickly and before I knew it, it was time to scoop them out.  But what to scoop them out with?!  My cookie scoop is what I use to make them the normal size, so I needed something smaller.......and then I found yeast scoop!!  It was the perfect size! (It's 2 1/4 tsp for those of you that don't have loose yeast in a jar).   I scooped away......... cute?!
......and baked them off. 

mini chocolate discs
Once all cooled, time for the filling.  Then comes the fun part of putting them together.  For some reason my oven is acting up again, so some were perfect and some were falling apart on me. **Mental Note - Must talk to my landlord before they leave for the South again this winter. **  Once all put together, time to hand them out! :)

one of the pretty ones :)
the ugly ones didn't leave my house
I was happy to be handing out treats again - love getting my feedback from my taste testers :)  And this is one of those times that I won't post a recipe....there are some recipes from my family that I won't share - and this is one of them.  :) 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Back in the kitchen!!

I've been out of my brace since Wednesday, and dying to bake.  I was so happy to get my stitches out last week and learn that I only had to be in the brace for another week.  The not so good news is that I still can't feel my pinky finger......I go back for some tests next week :(  With uncertainty hanging in the air all around me, I got into a funk.  I had a couple breakdowns and just let it all out, let all of my questions about my future out into the open - it's a little scary to think that my loss of feeling in my pinky could be permanent.  After a couple of chats with my dear friend Rae, who I can't wait to see when she gets married in November, I started to feel like I had let it all out and it was time to get back to being CB.  So when my cookbooks started to taunt me every time I walked into my kitchen, I knew it was time to try out something easy.  My hand feels pretty good, just really sore and stiff - and my new scar makes it hard to do things that involve my hand since it is super sensitive (my doctor had told me that it was a possibility that the scar would be really sensitive).  So I thought why not make my favorite doughnut recipe?!  Yes - I know you must be sick of reading about me making them - I've only blogged about them a million times.  But if you haven't made them yet, you really should - and shame on you for not checking out my friends site!! I only promote the best people!! So head on over to Arubula's Kitchen and see what all my fuss is about!!

The hardest part of making these bad boys is just frying them.  I mean yes, they are a little time consuming, and the fact that I started to make these at 7 last night didn't help either, but they are soo good! You can't help yourself from eating them once they are out and all nice and warm.  MMMMM....warm doughnuts...happy place :)  AD and UD are coming down today for a visit and this was also part of my making doughnuts since UD had asked for them last time they were down - I always ask them what they would like me to make them when they come for a visit - and I can't wait to go over to my parents later and hang out, have some good conversation, food and drinks with my family. 

Ok - I'm getting side tracked a lot today - sorry.  Back to doughnuts!!  I didn't take a lot of pics this time because I've made them so many times before.  But I did get some finished shots for you guys :)  So once all fried and still a little warm, I rolled those bad boys in some cinnamon sugar.....

why hello
.......seriously - don't those look good?!  I had made some a little larger this time since AD had requested some to be filled with cream - and I took what I had left over in my freezer and let it thaw out and used that for my filling from the last time I made doughnuts. 

I didn't coat the filled ones with cinnamon sugar - just left them naked.  I wasn't too sure how a cinnamon sugar coated cream filled doughnut would taste.....maybe a little too much in the sugar department.   Maybe something to try out next time. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Surgery, my birthday and the road to recovery

It was a busy week last week.  I got surgery to remove a floating bone in my wrist that was pinching my ulnar nerve.  I also got it the day before my birthday - I was giving myself the best birthday present ever....a new hand.  Well that's what I was hoping for.  Surgery went well, the bone is now gone, the nerve is moved and of course I had some arthritis in there as well.  So I celebrated my birthday on my couch in a soft cast and taking some good pain killers.  Friday I got to take the soft cast off and go into a heavy duty brace....this also allowed me to see my stitches when I had to change out my bandage......the scar is huge.  Way bigger than I thought it would be.  It's about an 1 1/2" long on my wrist - and the bruise that is coming in is just as disgusting as the scar itself. 

Because I wasn't fully with it on my birthday to celebrate it with my family, we waited until Sunday to celebrate it.  It was an excellent day, and I got awesome presents.  I didn't ask for much - of course baking supplies were included in it.  And I got the cookbook I've been waiting for - Martha Stewart's Pies and Tarts.  I of course have already flagged everything I want to make in the book, and pretty much over half of the book is flagged for things to make right away....other things are going to be saved for when holidays and occasions roll around. 

I also got a fun cookbook about making cupcakes cute - and of course there is a penguin one in there that Ween has requested I make for her birthday.  I have to admit - it is really cute. If you've got kids this book is great for when they celebrate things. 

I go back to see my doctor on Friday and will get my stitches out then and see what's going on.  I'm hoping that this is the beginning of the end for me.  It's been a long road to this point (3 years out of work) and I'm ready to get back into things.  And a lot of my friends have been saying that it's time for me to start my baking career and I'm really thinking about it a lot.  I have accepted the fact that my massage career is over, I still can't feel half of my elbow and with this new scar on my wrist/palm, it has become clear that it's time to move on to the next phase of my life.  The question is do I open my own place or start it out of my kitchen and work my way from there?  Not really sure, but lots of thinking to do.  And I'm hoping to get back to baking next week.  I've got a huge list of things to make - and now it's gotten longer thanks to my new birthday presents :)