Sunday, October 30, 2011

YCB Now on Facebook

Hi everyone! YCB now has a page on Facebook -
Like us on there - share stories of what you have made off of here, pictures of things you've made and any requests! 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Homemade Twix - version 2.0

Back in March I made the first version of homemade Twix.  It was a good start, but I felt like there were things that I could improve on.  I had to make it better.  When I started making my own caramel, I knew that this would be the time to improve upon the Twix.  My thought was to take bits and pieces from things and then combine it into one.  I took my favorite shortbread recipe for the base, my caramel recipe, and then a chocolate ganache to top it off.  It sounded perfect - and it almost was. 

I was going to a dinner party at a friends house and I said I would bring dessert (shocking I know) - and this was the perfect reason to try out my idea for new and improved Twix.  I made the shortbread and it turned out awesome.  Once cooled, I made the caramel and let that set.  Then time to finish it.  I made the ganache and poured it over the top and let it set. I go back and check on it an hour later and the chocolate isn't set.  Fail.  I knew right then and there that a ganache on top of the caramel wouldn't set like it should.  I stuck it in the fridge until I had to leave.  So the top was soft, but it was still going to taste good. 

After a great dinner and amazing conversation, it was time for dessert.  The Twix got cut up and handed out and sure enough, chocolate slid off everyone's piece.  But it tasted amazing.  So I'm 2/3 of the way there getting this one right.  Once I make it perfect, recipe will be posted.  So for now, here's a picture of what it looked like.  Notice the chocolate is starting to slide off. 

yay - a food porn shot :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Butterscotch Cupcakes

A couple of weeks ago it was one of my taste testers birthdays.  And I found out that she had a love of Butterscotch when I brought in some Butterscotch cookies for her.  So I searched and searched for a cake recipe for her.  And I finally found one - there were a lot of doctored cake box recipes, which is great, but that's not what I was looking for....I wanted it all from scratch.  Sometimes when I use a box mix I feel like I've cheated and think I could always do better if I did it all from scratch.  I got the recipe off another blog, and for technical errors I'm going to keep the blog unnamed.  Usually I happily promote other people, but this site was just bad - constant pictures for every step which I found extremely annoying and as something not to do to my own site (I mean who really wants to see a picture of me adding in eggs or pouring in sugar?! This site had pictures like that for everything!)  I printed out the recipe and made some notes along the way with what I wanted to change. 

The cake part turned out awesome!  The frosting however - awful.  Well, not true, it tasted amazing!!  It just didn't hold it's shape.  I iced the 2 layer cake and the frosting just slid off.......I had to keep it in the fridge.  I was almost embarrassed to give it to her because it looked like a hot mess.  She didn't care - and instantly tried some.  I told her to keep it in the fridge and that I will fix that frosting the next time I make it. 

Halloween is next week, so why not some fun festive cupcakes?!  I have fun paper liners and the remaining Butterscotch frosting I had left over was sitting in my freezer, taunting me.  I was going to make cupcakes and fix the frosting.  That was my mission yesterday.  I kept the cake recipe the same since I was happy with it.  Then the frosting.......I had a good idea of how to help it be better, hopefully it would work.  I added some confectioners sugar and some milk and whipped it up.  It held it's shape! I happily frosted each cupcake and put a fun pumpkin candy corn on top of each one. 

as decorative as I got
I couldn't find the supplies for what I really wanted to do, so I went with this.  But I'm still not happy with the frosting.  Still tastes great, I just need to tinker with it a little more.  Once it's ready - I will share :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mocha Sandwiches

If the last Mocha cookie I made was too strong for you, then this one is a nice alternative.  Not as strong in the coffee department and a lot easier to make than the other ones.  A mocha cookie with a coffee icing in between layers.  Yum. 

I think I might of put too much frosting in this one :)
The batter is simple.  And before you know it you're rolling it into a log and wrapping it in plastic wrap to chill for a couple of hours.  Once it's firm, time to slice them and bake them off.  And who doesn't love a cookie like that?  Once all baked off and cooled, time to frost and sandwich.  I have to admit, these aren't the prettiest looking cookies, but they are tasty.  It's kind of all one color and the frosting isn't appealing looking at all, but it is yummy.  But aside from aesthetics, these will please anyone who loves Mocha.  :) 

Mocha Sandwiches
makes about 20 sandwich cookies

1 tbsp coffee liqueur or milk
2 tsps instant espresso coffee powder or instant coffee crystals
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 oz semisweet chocolate melted and cooled
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
Coffee Icing

  1. In a small bowl stir together coffee liqueur and espresso powder; set aside for a few minutes until powder dissolves.
  2. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugar and baking powder.  Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.  Beat in liqueur mixture, egg, and melted and cooled chocolate until combined.  Beat in flour and mix until combined.  Lay out plastic wrap and place dough on plastic wrap.  Shape dough into a log.  Wrap tightly and chill for 4-24 hours or until firm enough to slice. 
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.  Cut log into 1/4" slices.  Place slices 2" apart on cookie sheet.  Bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges are firm.  Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.
  4. Make icing and spread the bottom half of the cookies with 1 tsp of icing.  Top with remaining cookies.  Let icing set. 
Coffee Liqueur Icing:  In a small bowl stir together 1/4 tsp instant coffee crystals and 2 tbsp whipping cream until crystals dissolve.  In a medium bowl stir together coffee mixture, 2 cups confectioners sugar and 1 tbsp coffee liqueur.  Add enough whipping cream (1-2 tbsp), 1 tbsp at a time, to make spreading consistency.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Homemade Oreos

I was talking with one of my friends a couple months ago about these, and I'm finally getting around to them.  These are simple to make - but I'm going to warn you - they are huge!  Much bigger than an Oreo and if you try to make them smaller they just don't come out right (yes I tried all different types of sizes and baking times on this).  So stick with the original size and you will get a nice giant soft cookie with delicious filling in between. I might of pressed down too hard to flatten them, I will try again next time to make them not so flat and maybe they wont turn out so huge.  I'm a dunker with my Oreos so this was heaven for me.  They were soft and I needed no milk to dunk them in.  I seriously couldn't wait to hand these out to people. 

I couldn't wait to try one!
Since I was convinced I pressed down too hard, I made them again over the weekend.  And my Dad was extremely happy about this. I made the dough and scooped them all out and instead of pressing down with a glass I used my hand and lightly pressed the tops down to flatten them.  Into the oven they went........

not ginormous this time
.....and I was so happy to pull them out of the oven and see them the right size!! Time to fill once all cooled. 

still a good size cookie :)
Everyone was excited to eat them, especially my Dad.  He asked if I was going to take any home with me, I said no.....he got very excited.  I learned my lesson with the cupcakes I made for him to not take things home when it's something he loves - if I do then I just have to make him more :)   
These are easy to make, so don't be scared off by them.  I promise you, when I say something is easy - it's easy.  If it's hard or there are a ton of steps to it, I tend not to post the recipe for it since I know most of you wont try it out.  I suggest making these - and you will want to make them again and again.  It will become a staple in your cookie recipes. 
Homemade Oreos
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus more for flattening cookies
10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
Vanilla Cream Filling

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.  In a bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream sugar butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add egg; beat to combine.  With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture; continue beating until dough is well combined.
  3. Using a 1 1/4" cookie scoop, drop dough onto prepared baking sheets about 2" apart.  Dip bottom of a glass in sugar; press to flatten cookies to about 1/8" thick.  (You may need to carefully remove dough from glass with a thin metal spatula). 
  4. Bake cookies until edges are firm, 10-12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.  Transfer to cooling racks to cool completely. 
  5. Place cream filling in a pastry bag and pipe 1 tbsp of filling onto the flat side of half the cookies.  Place remaining cookies on top, and gently press on each to squeeze filling to edges. 
Vanilla Cream Filling:
1 stick butter, room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract

With an electric mixer, cream butter and shortening until well combined.  On low speed, gradually add confectioners sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add vanilla and beat to combine.  

Friday, October 21, 2011

Blue Velvet Cupcakes

I didn't know there was such a thing as this until my sisters friend had asked me to make it for her.  She said the color is the hardest thing to get right - and after making this I totally see why.  It's very similar to Red Velvet, but the color is different and there's not as much cocoa powder in the recipe and the frosting has marshmallow in it along with the cream cheese.  The thing I was most worried about was the color.  It took all of the blue food coloring I had (and I had to make more blue out of my remaining colors) - it was such a pretty blue. I was happy.  And then I added the cocoa mixture - and happiness went away.  My beautiful blue batter turned into a bright green! 

of course I was freaking out!
After they were all scooped out and I put them in the oven, I reminded myself that they will change color while they bake - hopefully they would come out more blue than green.  But look at the color of those things - who was I kidding?! 20 minutes later, time to take them out.......

not blue like they should be
.....ok, so they turned out a weird shade of green with some blue in it.  My only worry was that J would be unhappy with the color.  Once they were all cooled, time to make the frosting.  Easy frosting, put it in a ziplock bag and piped away.

pretty cupcake
Time for her birthday party....Heays and I go and bring in her cupcakes.  J was so happy.....we laughed a little about the color and I told her my story and showed her pics, it was a good laugh.  She handed some out to everyone, but most importantly J was happy with how they tasted.  That made me happy :) If I make these again, I will be using more than 2 oz of blue food coloring.

Blue Velvet Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes or two 9" cakes

2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 oz blue food coloring
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp vinegar

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 cup Fluff
1 (1 pound) box confectioners sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake tins with paper liners or if making a cake, grease and flour cake pans.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter, mix until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs 1 at a time and mix well after each addition.  Mix cocoa and food coloring together and then add to sugar mixture; mix well.  Sift together flour and salt.  Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk.  Blend in vanilla.  In a small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar and add to mixture.
  3. Pour batter into pans.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove from heat and cool completely before frosting.
  4. Frosting: Blend cream cheese and butter together in a mixing bowl.  Add marshmallows and sugar and blend.  Frost your cake or cupcakes. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I had leftover pumpkin just sitting in my fridge, waiting to be used.  And then I saw this recipe and thought I'd try it out.  This is an amazing cookie.  Easy, quick, and something everyone will love.  The frosting that goes on top of these makes the cookie so much better.  You can omit the frosting if you like, but I would suggest sticking with it - it pulls the cookie together nicely.  If you don't want to make this a chocolate chip cookie you can easily switch the chips out for nuts or whatever you would like to put in it. 

The cookie is super quick to make, and before you know it they are all baked off and cooling. 

If you don't want to frost them, then you can eat them as is.  But I really suggest going with the frosting.  It's quick and easy and you just have to dunk the tops of each cookie in the frosting and then you are good to go.  Let them set for a little bit and then it's time to eat.  You will be a fan of these.  And even better is that they are super easy.  Who doesn't love a cookie like that?!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 40 cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or whatever you want to use)
Brown Sugar-Butter Frosting

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.  In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugar.  Beat until combined, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally.  Beat in egg until combined.  Stir in pumpkin and flour.  Mix in chocolate chips.
  3. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2" apart onto prepared cookie sheets.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned.  Transfer cookies to wire rack and let cool.  Frost each cookie with frosting, let set.
Brown Sugar-Butter Frosting:  In a microwave safe bowl heat 6 tbsp butter and 1/3 cup packed brown sugar until butter melts.  Stir until combined and then add 2 cups confectioners sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract.  Stir in enough hot water (2-3 teaspoons) to make a smooth, spreadable frosting.  Immediately frost cookies.  (If frosting becomes grainy, add a few drops of hot water and stir until smooth).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ginger Cream Cookies

If you love Ginger then these cookies are for you! Great cookie to go with a cup of tea or coffee and really brings out fall.  One of my friends loves ginger cookies, and I had a different one in mind for her, but then I came across this one and it was extremely easy and not time consuming at all (the other one is), so this post is for her.  This is a great one to make on a cold fall day, your house will smell amazing while these are baking. 

finished cookie
So my lesson with these is that you should let it chill in the fridge for the amount it says to.  I don't think they should be as large as mine turned out, but then again I only let it chill in the fridge for an hour and the directions said 3......I was impatient when I made these.  But when I saw how big they turned out, I decided that maybe half a scoop with my cookie scoop would be good and those turned out better.  So if you have a cookie scoop, scoop out half of it for each cookie. 

huge cookies
But other than that, this cookie is quick and easy and tasty.  The simple frosting that goes on top really completes the cookie.  Cuts the ginger so it's not overpowering and balances it out.  Get baking!! This will be enjoyed by all :)

Ginger Cream Cookies
makes about 36 cookies

1/3 cup butter, room temp
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup water
2 cups all purpose flour
Butter Frosting

  1. In a large mixing bowl beat butter on medium-high speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugar, ginger, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and salt.  Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl as needed.  Beat in egg, maple syrup and water until combined.  Beat in flour.  Cover and chill dough for 3 hours (dough will be soft).
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.  Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2" apart on prepared cookie sheets.  Bake for 8 minutes or until edges are firm.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.  Frost cookies; let frosting dry.
Butter Frosting:  In a medium bowl stir together 2 cups confectioners sugar, 2 tbsp melted butter and 4 tsp milk.  If necessary, stir in additional milk to make a smooth, spreadable frosting.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Baking with Baxter

A couple months ago I heard from Baxter and Lynda that they were coming down to my area for a weekend! I was so excited!  Baxter wanted to hang out - and of course bake something with me!! Brought back they days of when we were in massage school together and we all hung out at my apartment.  Finally, they were here! I was so excited for my day of Baxter and Lynda.  I went to go meet them and hang out for a while before we started to bake.  When I got there I was sad to learn that Lynda was sick :(  She ended up staying at home while Bax and I went out to bake.  And did she ever miss some funny stuff. 

We stopped to get some supplies since everyone agreed on Red Velvet Cupcakes.  I knew I needed cream cheese for the frosting and I got some more butter, just incase.  We get back to my apartment and start baking.  And I let Bax wear one of my extra aprons - I always wear one since baking is a messy thing and especially when there's food coloring involved (I've stained a couple of shirts due to no apron while using food coloring).  Aprons on and ready to go we are talking and laughing, having a great time.  Then it's time for the food coloring to be added - and I didn't have any red food coloring left (I had used it all for something and forgot to get more).   What to do?!  I let Bax choose what color to add - blue.  So we added it - and then a little more.  It was so pretty - and bright blue.  Then we added the flour mixture and the color changed - bye bye bright blue.  It went from pretty blue to a camo green.

at this point, we couldn't stop laughing
Trust me, it doesn't look pretty - but it's tasty!  Once all mixed and good to go, time to fill up the cupcake liners.  And then halfway through - I don't know what made me realize it - I saw that we had forgotten the most important part!! We forgot to add the baking soda and white vinegar!!  So we had to take all the filled cupcakes and dump them back into the bowl and then add the baking soda/vinegar mixture to it.  Then time to fill again.  At least we were laughing the whole time.  Off they went into the oven to bake and time to do the dishes....and Bax tasted the batter.

Bax is in my kitchen!
Baking cupcakes with me!
It was an awesome day!
Once they were done and cooled, time to make the frosting.  And why not color the frosting as well?!  Yellow this time.....I scooped it all into a ziplock bag (my pastry gun is no longer stuck closed, just has a gross smell to it and I need to put it through the dishwasher a couple of times and hopefully it will go away so I can use it again) and piped away - Bax wanted me to do this part.  Then came time to eat one! Bax was a very happy camper. 

Baxter's Cupcakes
Bax was going to take most of them home to share with everyone they were staying with, so we got to play treat fairy for my Thursday drop off.  Everyone loved them - I got to show Bax around where I live and some of my favorite places and then sadly had to bring Bax back and go home :(  It was such a great day.  And I will forever call these Baxter's Cupcakes - even if it is a Red Velvet cupcake with different colors in it - and a few small changes to the recipe as always :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chocolate Candy Cookies

This one is a bit of a sugar overload, but tasty.  A soft chocolate cake cookie, rolled in candy sprinkles and topped with your choice of chocolate candy.  I put giant SnoCaps on top of mine.  These are easy and quick and sure to please any child, or grown adult.  :)  A Hershey Kiss or anything like that will work great for the center of this cookie.  Use whatever you like most candy wise - this cookie will support anything you choose. 

Once the dough is made, let it chill for an hour.  Then roll it into balls and roll them in the candy sprinkles.  Bake them off and once they come out of the oven, place your candy in the center of each cookie.  Let cool and then enjoy!  Extremely easy and quick cookie. 

fun festive cookie

Chocolate Candy Cookies
makes about 36

2/3 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup multicolor sprinkles
Hershey Kisses or chocolate candy of choice

  1. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  Beat until combined, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally.  Beat in egg and vanilla until combined.  Add in flour and beat until combined.  Cover and chill dough for about 1 hour or until easy to handle. 
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.  Shape dough into 1" balls.  Roll balls in sprinkles. Place balls 2" apart on each sheet.  Press your thumb into the center of each ball.
  3. Bake for 7-8 minutes or until edges are firm.  Remove from oven; immediately press a chocolate candy into the center of each cookie.  Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Coconut Cream Filled Macaroons

If you love macaroons, then this is your lucky day! Martha Stewart came up with an amazing recipe for these! I've tweaked it along the way to make it my own, but I'm going to share the original version with you.  Soft macaroons with a layer of coconut cream in between 2 cookies, it's heaven.  And I bumped it up a notch and dipped mine in chocolate, just for fun. 

yum yum yum
These are so simple to make.  You will be making them all the time.  I'm warning you now, they are a bit sweet - but fantastic.  You can choose not to make the filling and sandwich the cookies and just have a straight up macaroon - these will stand on their own.  Once the cookies are all baked off and cooled, time to make the filling.  This is super easy as well.  Take 1 cookie and put filling on the bottom.......

......and then top it off with another cookie, pressing lightly to make the filling go to the edges.

best little cookie sandwich ever
Let them set in the fridge for 30 minutes and then if you want to dip them in melted chocolate, go for it.  If not, then time to eat!  These will not disappoint anyone who is a fan of coconut. 

Coconut Cream Filled Macaroons
makes about 2 dozen

for the cookies:
3 cups unsweetened finely shredded coconut
3/4 cup sugar
2 large egg whites
1 tsp coconut extract
1/8 tsp salt
for the filling:
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
2 tbsp cream of coconut or butter, room temperature
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tsp coconut extract

  1. Make cookies:  Stir together coconut, granulated sugar, egg whites, coconut extract, and salt in a large bowl.  Refrigerate, covered, until cold, at least 1 hour or overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Form heaping teaspoons of dough into balls; space 1 1/2" apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Gently flatten to about 1 1/2" inches in diameter.  Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges begin to turn golden, 9-10 minutes.  Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely.
  3. Make filling:  Put butter, cream of coconut, and shortening in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.  Add confectioners sugar and coconut extract; mix until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Assemble cookies:  Place a heaping teaspoon of filling on the bottom of one cookie.  Sandwich with another cookie.  Repeat with remaining cookies and filling.  Transfer to a platter; cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until filling is firm, about 30 minutes.  Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Apple Cider Doughnuts

We all know that I love the doughnut recipe from my friend at Arubula's Kitchen and I've been dying to try the apple cider version that she had given me.  My parents went away the other weekend and brought me back some fresh apple cider - and it was just calling my name.  I thought I would try baking them instead of frying them this time.....didn't work out so well.  Well, it did and it didn't.  I'm getting ahead of myself here.  But bottom line is, these doughnuts are amazing - and just as addicting as all the other flavors I've tried from her.  She is an evil genius with this recipe.  And I love her to death :) 

glazed goodness
We had talked early in the morning about if baking them off instead of frying them would work.....we weren't sure so I gave it a try.  One time I put them as is on the baking sheet and baked them off.  They puffed up nicely but had a flat bottom.  So the next time I rolled them into balls.  The same thing happened.

Frying it is!! I fried them off - ok and I snacked on some too, how can you not?!  And once all cooled, time to glaze.  Once the glaze was set, time to go deliver some.  I feared that if I kept all of them I would eat them all.  You eat more of these things than you intend to and don't realize it.  I had to get at least half of them out of my house.  Thank god for taste testers :)  They all loved these - and one had never heard of apple cider doughnuts, so he got a great treat when he tried one.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cookies

If you have a deep love of chocolate and peanut butter together, then this cookie is for you.  A chocolate cookie with peanut butter in the middle....heaven.  These wont last long once you make them, and will quickly become a favorite.  Best part is, the hardest part of these is putting the peanut butter filling in the middle and covering it with the chocolate dough - so basically this is an easy cookie.  And a great one for young helpers to bake with you. 

deliciousness on all levels
The dough is easy - both doughs are.  And before you know it you're taking a chunk of chocolate dough and putting some peanut butter dough on top of it........

pre-rolled cookie
......cover up the peanut butter dough and roll into a ball and then flatten them.  Bake them off and you are good to go.  Excellent warm or fully cooled.  Either way, this cookie is fantastic. 

Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cookies
makes about 30 cookies

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sifted confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.  In a medium bowl combine flour, cocoa powder and baking soda; set aside.  In a large mixing bowl beat butter, sugar, brown sugar and 1/4 cup peanut butter with electric mixer on medium-high speed until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.  Beat in egg, milk and vanilla until combined.  Beat in flour mixture and mix until combined.  Shape dough into 1 1/4" balls; set aside. 
  2. For peanut butter filling, in a medium bowl stir together powdered sugar and the 1/2 cup peanut butter until smooth.  Shape mixture into 3/4" balls.
  3. On a work surface, slightly flatten each chocolate dough ball and top with a peanut butter ball.  Shape the chocolate dough over the peanut butter filling.  Roll dough into balls. 
  4. Place balls on baking sheets and lightly flatten each cookie with hand or bottom of a glass. 
  5. Bake for 8 minutes, or until just set and surface is slightly cracked.  Cool on cookie sheet 1 minute and then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mocha Bites

Oh Martha Stewart, you came up with a great recipe.  It was originally with espresso, but I didn't have any on hand and turned it into Mocha Bites instead of Cappuccino-Chocolate Bites as you had called it.  A coffee shortbread cookie with a chocolate cream in the middle.....yep, I was all over this one.  You can make it with the espresso if you want, I just switched out the espresso for instant coffee and it worked great.  If you love mocha anything, this will be your new favorite cookie. 

hello there
I was torn between rolling out the dough and cutting it with a cookie cutter like it calls for, or rolling the dough into a log and slicing portions out.  I went with rolling it's a lot of work but worth it.  You can put a lot of cookies on a sheet at a time, they don't expand during the baking process.  I happily filled up my baking sheet.

lots of cookies
So here's a lesson from me - read the whole recipe before you start.  I saw that the dough needed to be chilled for 30 minutes, not a big deal.   But when it came time to make the filling (and all my cookies were cooled and ready to go), I saw that the filling needed to be chilled for at least 4 hours.  Why wasn't this in the beginning of the recipe?!  Shame on me for missing this.  It's the coffee cake muffins all over again.  So I made the filling and put it in a metal bowl and chilled it for an hour - worked great.  Metal chills it a lot quicker and I love it.  Then I finally got to put the cookies together and try one.  Delicious...and it is a strong coffee flavored cookie.  Here's the original recipe.  I switched out espresso for instant coffee...feel free to do the same.

Cappuccino-Chocolate Bites
makes about 2 1/2 dozen

2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp finely ground espresso beans
1/8 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 oz milk chocolate, finely chopped

  1. Whisk flour, espresso and salt in a bowl.  Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy.  Mix in vanilla.  Add flour mixture; mix on medium-low until dough comes together.  Shape into a disk, and wrap in plastic.  Refrigerate 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Let dough stand at room temperature 10 minutes.  Roll between sheets of parchment paper to 1/8" thick.  Cut out rounds with a 1 1/8" cutter.  Place on sheets lined with parchment paper.  Reroll scraps; cut out.  Freeze 10 minutes. 
  3. Bake until set but not browned, about 9 minutes.  Let cool on sheets 5 minutes.  Transfer to wire racks; cool completely.
  4. Bring cream to a simmer.  Pour over chocolate; stir until smooth.  Press plastic wrap onto surface; refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight.  Whisk to soft peaks; transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip.  Pipe about 1 tsp filling on bottoms of half the cookies; sandwich with remaining cookies. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Chocolate Chip Caramel Cookies

Why not take the classic cookie and make it a little more interesting?  Messy, but extremely tasty.  And I haven't found the best way to store these yet, the caramel gets all over everything.  Right now they are sitting in a plastic bag, but they are going to my taste testers, they can worry about how to get all the good caramelness out of the bags.  :)  I really need to invest more money in disposable tins.  But I guess no matter what you put them in, the caramel is going to get all over everything.  Best to be eaten the day they are made :) Turns out when I dropped these off to my taste testers, they didn't care about the mess or them being in bags - they just dove right in and ate them. 

gotta love the food porn pics
This cookie is so easy.  I love that they don't spread out too much when you bake them so you can fit a lot on a pan at once.  Once they are all baked off, time to put some caramel on them.  You don't need to make your own from scratch with this.  You use store bought caramels and some heavy cream, melt it all down and then drizzle away over the cookies.  My decorating skills aren't the best (clearly shown by the birthday cake I made my Dad and I'm still looking for the picture of the Penguin Cake I made for Ween's birthday years ago so you can see why it is I don't decorate cakes), but you don't need to be a master at drizzling caramel.  As long as it's not one giant glob on top it's all good.  Let the caramel set and then you are ready to eat!  And these wont last long at all. 

Chocolate Chip Caramel Cookies
makes about 3 dozen

1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
3/4 packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
24 soft caramel candy cubes (7 oz)
1/4 cup heavy cream

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift together flour and salt. 
  2. Put butter and both sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Mix in egg and vanilla.  Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture.  Add chocolate chips and mix to combine.
  3. Using a 1 1/2" cookie scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper or Silpats.  Gently flatten tops of cookies.  Bake until bottoms are golden, 6-8 minutes.  Let cool on sheets. 
  4. Melt caramels with cream in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring.  Let cool.  Using a spoon, drizzle caramel over cookies; let set. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pumpkin Bread

I've got lots of pumpkin things to make, and here's another one.  Very tasty Pumpkin Bread.  This is extremely easy and better than the quick box mixes out there.  There's nothing wrong with those things, I still use them from time to time.  There will always be a special place in my heart for the Struesel and Chocolate Chip kinds.  :)  But when making a quick bread, why not go from scratch?  My parents are big fans of pumpkin bread, so I brought some over for Sunday breakfast.  And they were so happy.  I left the loaf there too since this recipe makes two loaves. 

wasn't too sure how to make
this look appealing :)
Quick breads are great.  They get the name because they take seconds to put everything together and then you put it in the pans and bake them off.  And who doesn't like that?!  Everyone should try making a quick bread from scratch at one point.  And once you see how easy it really is, you wont go back to the box mixes again.  So get to baking everyone! 

Pumpkin Bread
makes 2 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaves

Butter, room temperature, for pans
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 2/3 cups milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat the tins with butter; set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt; set aside mixture.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the pumpkin puree and both sugars; mix on medium speed until well combined, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the eggs and oil; mix until incorporated, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl.  With mixer on low, add the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour, until just combined. 
  3. Divide the batter between the prepared pans; smooth the tops with an offset spatula.  Place the pans on a baking sheet.  Bake, rotating the sheet halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, 55-60 minutes.  Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes.  Remove loaves from pans and cool completely. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Croque Monsieur Bread

I saw this recipe and had to make it Sunday for football.  It was amazing.  We ate both loafs if that tells you anything.  I had mentioned before when I made the Pepperoni Bread that you could put anything you wanted inside it, so I made the pizza dough and put this inside it.  Oozing with ham, mustard and cheese, this was so delicious.  I can't believe that my family actually ate both loafs yesterday.  It's that good.  And extremely simple.  If you don't want to make your own dough, store bought is great as well. 

Use whatever cheese you have on hand, it does call for Gruyere, but it's ok if you don't have it.  Mix the sliced ham, mustard and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl and then add it to the pizza dough with the cheese, then fold it up, put some slits in the top and brush with butter, and off to the oven they go.

fresh from the oven
Let cool for 5 minutes and then time to eat.  My Dad couldn't believe that we ate both loafs.  I think he was looking forward to having some in his lunch today.  But he got cupcakes yesterday so I think he will be happy.  :)  This is an excellent appetizer for any occasion.  No one will be disappointed. 

Pizza Dough

1/2 cup warm water
1 envelope instant yeast
1 1/4 cups room temperature water
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 tsp salt
olive oil or non-stick cooking spray for greasing the bowl

  1. Measure the warm water into a 2 cup liquid measuring cup.  Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes.  Add the room temperature water and oil and stir to combine.
  2. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed.  Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms.  Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook.  Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.  Press the dough to deflate it.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Divide the dough into two equal pieces.  Form both pieces of dough into smooth, round balls and cover with a damp cloth.  Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no more than 30 minutes.
  4. Use both halves of the dough or wrap one half tightly in plastic wrap and place in plastic zipper bag.  Freeze for up to 2 months.

Croque Monsieur Bread

shredded gruyere cheese
1 cup sliced deli ham, cut into chunks
4 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp melted butter

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  In a small bowl mix together ham, mustard and salt and pepper. 
  2. Dust a clean work surface with flour.  Roll out dough into a long oblong shape, about 12-14" long and about 8" wide.
  3. Visually divide the dough into thirds long-ways.  Down the center third of the dough sprinkle the cheese and ham and mustard mixture.  Fold one side of the exposed dough over the stuffed center.  Repeat a layer with the remaining cheese and ham and mustard mixture on top of the dough half that covered the first layer.  Fold the remaining 1/3 of the dough over the stuffed area and wrap it under the log.  Wrap the ends under the log as well.
  4. Place dough on a pan lined with parchment paper. With a sharp knife, make 4-5 slits on the diagonal into the top of the dough to allow the bread to vent while it cooks.  Using a pastry brush, brush melted butter over the top of the bread and down the sides.  
  5. Place pan into the oven and bake for 12-14 minutes until nicely browned.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Cut into pieces. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pumpkin-Brown Butter Cupcakes

This is my favorite cupcake - ever.  I've been on the hunt for canned pumpkin for over a week now and was so excited to finally see it in the store the other day.  I picked up two jumbo cans - I've got lots of pumpkin things I want to bake.  But without a doubt, these were going to be first.  This cupcake is fall - pumpkin, spices and a delicious frosting make this an amazing treat.  I have yet to meet anyone who has had one and not loved it.  Even if you're not a fan of pumpkin, you will love these.  My whole family is a huge fan of these, especially my dad.  He is really looking forward to these. 

soooooo good
This is an extremely easy cupcake.  And you get to brown butter twice, once for the cupcake and once for the frosting, and I always find it fun.  The first time I browned butter I was amazed at it.  I had it in a very small saucepan and didn't realize that it would foam that much and had to keep taking it off the burner.  Now I'm smarter and use a bigger saucepan.  Browning the butter is as hard as it gets in this recipe. 

The smell of these baking in your oven is amazing.  If it's a crisp fall day out, make these - it will really put you in the fall mood.  Once all cooled, time to brown some butter again for the frosting.  This time you brown it longer, about 10 minutes, but it makes the frosting amazing.  People always comment on the frosting and can't believe it's that easy.  Once the frosting is all ready to go, time to spoon some over each cupcake.  Don't worry if it goes all down the sides, it's ok.  It's a loose frosting, icing really, so it's meant to.  Once it's set - time to eat it.  You wont get any complaints about these from anyone.  Happy Baking!

Pumpkin-Brown Butter Cupcakes
makes 15

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temp
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Brown Butter Icing

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.  In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat, swirling occasionally, until butter turns golden brown.  Skim foam from top, and remove from heat.  Pour into a bowl to stop the cooking, leaving any burned sediment behind; let cool.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.  In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, both sugars, eggs and brown-butter.  Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined.
  3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full.  Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes.  Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. 
  4. To finish, spoon icing or dip tops of each cupcake into icing and let set. 
Brown-Butter Icing

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk, plus more if needed

  1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling pan occasionally, until nut-brown in color, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat, and pour butter into a bowl, leaving any burned sediment behind.
  2. Add confectioners sugar, vanilla and 2 tbsp milk to brown butter; stir until smooth.  If necessary, add more milk (up to 2 tbsp) a little at a time, just until icing is spreadable.  Use immediately.