Thursday, May 31, 2012

Butterscotch Shortbread Bars

Sometimes I just flip through a cookbook and something catches my eye.  This is one of those times.  I was looking for something fairly easy to make to keep me busy.  It was a day where I was feeling restless and couldn't stay still. I ended up baking a lot that day, a lot.  Plus I had never made my own butterscotch - and it's extremely easy in this recipe.  Bars are great in my book: easy to make, feeds a good amount of people depending on what size you cut them, and everyone loves a bar whether its a brownie or a shortbread. 

it looks like caramel but its really butterscotch
I couldn't wait to try one of these out.  I cut them up and tried a small piece.  Amazing.  When Heays got home from work, she was excited to try one.  And did she ever like it.  I saved us 6 pieces, and they didn't last long.  So if you're looking for a quick easy treat, try this out. 

Butterscotch Shortbread Bars
makes 24 bars

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup light corny syrup
1 tbsp water
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tbsp hot water

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9x9x2" baking pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan.  Butter foil; set pan aside.  For the crust, in a medium bowl combine the flour, 3 tbsp brown sugar and baking powder.  Using a pastry blender, forks or your hands cut in 1/2 cup of the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Press mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
  2. Meanwhile, for the butterscotch sauce, in a medium heavy saucepan melt the remaining 1/4 cup butter.  Stir in sugar, 1/3 cup brown sugar, corn syrup, water and salt.  Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.  Boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring often.  Remove saucepan from heat and stir in heavy cream and vanilla. 
  3. Spread butterscotch mixture evenly over baked crust.  Bake for 12-15 minutes more or until most of the surface is bubbly.  Cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. Melt chocolate chips and water in a microwave safe bowl 30 seconds at a time until melted.  Mix until smooth.  Pour over the top of butterscotch layer and spread to make a smooth layer.  Chill for at least 1 hour.  Using the foil, lift bars out of the pan.  Carefully peel foil from sides of bars and cut into bars.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Snickerdoodle Sprials

I was restless, so what did I do? I baked something.  Why not take a classic cookie and give it a new twist? Well, not really a twist, just a fun shape.  Snickerdoodles are one of Ween's favorite cookies, but not one of mine, I'm not really a fan of cakey cookies.  But turning the cookie into a spiral makes it not cakey, and just as delicious.  It's really easy to turn any cookie into a spiral so I knew this wouldn't be hard to do.  I made the dough and chilled it so the dough could firm up.  I rolled it out and covered the top with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  This was my biggest fear, that the cinnamon-sugar mixture wouldn't stay put.  I started to roll it up and the filling was staying put, relief came over me.  Once all rolled up and wrapped into plastic wrap, into the fridge it went to chill some more.  Then it was time for the real test, to see how it looked when I cut into each one.  I sliced away and was very happy with what I saw.  And don't worry if they aren't perfectly in a circle shape, before you cut the roll, round the edges as best you can and then slice.  The dough will puff out and make a circle while baking. 

so pretty
So if you aren't a fan of cakey cookies, try this cookie out. 

Snickerdoodle Spirals
makes about 50 cookies

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 tbsp sugar
4 tsp cinnamon

  1. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt into a small bowl.  Put butter and sugar into a large bowl and beat on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Mix in eggs.  Reduce speed to low; gradually add in flour mixture.  Cover bowl and chill for 30 minutes.
  2. Stir together sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; set aside.  Flour work surface and roll dough into a large square 1/4" thick.  Cover the entire top of dough with cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Take edge furthest away from you and carefully roll dough on top of itself towards you.  Once dough is completely rolled, roll the log of dough back and forth to seal the edges.  Cut dough in half and wrap each half tightly in plastic wrap.  Chill for at least 1 hour. 
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.  Cut dough into slices 1/4" thick and space 1" apart on prepared cookie sheets.  Bake, rotating halfway through, 10 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.  Let cool on sheet for 3 minutes and then transfer to wire racks to completely cool.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Peanut Butter Cream-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate and Peanut Butter go hand in hand.  This cupcake doesn't disappoint at all.  I was in the mood to bake, and this was sitting at the top of my list.  Ok, so I'm pretty much always in the mood to bake, but I really wanted to make something really good.  Knowing that some of my taste testers love the combination of peanut butter and chocolate made me pull out this recipe in the first place.  After making these, they are now a personal favorite of mine.  The best part is it's not really that hard.  Use your favorite from scratch or box cake mix - if the recipe calls for water, switch out the amount of water for hot coffee (same amount).  You wont taste the coffee, it really brings out the chocolate and you wont be disappointed at all. 

I had filled my cupcakes and had tossed the extra peanut butter cream.  After I had dunked each cupcake in chocolate, I was mad at myself - I should of saved the extra peanut butter cream to top each cupcake.  You can leave them plain like I did, or top them with the extra peanut butter cream, chopped peanuts, or even chopped peanut butter cups.  That was my only regret, not saving the extra cream, but I wasn't about to dig through my trash to get it out, even if it was in a ziplock bag.

Peanut Butter Cream-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

1 box cake mix or favorite from scratch recipe for chocolate cake
For the Filling:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
pinch of salt
For the Ganache:
4 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
topping (nuts, extra pb cream, etc - optional)

  1. Make cupcakes according to directions.  Let cool completely. Once cooled, cut a slit in the middle of each cupcake for cream to go in.
  2. Make the cream: Beat the butter and peanut butter on medium speed until fully blended.  Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioners sugar.  Add salt and increase speed to high and beat for 3-5 minutes, until smooth and fluffy.  Spoon the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a medium plain tip.  Insert the tip into the slit in each cupcake and fill until each cupcake is full. 
  3. Make the ganache: Place the chocolate in a heat safe bowl.  Heat the cream in a small saucepan until scalding.  Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit 1 minute, then whisk until smooth.  Let sit 10 minutes, until thick but still pourable.  Dunk the tops of each cupcake into the frosting to coat, then place on a wire rack and sprinkle with optional toppings.  Transfer to the refrigerator for 20 to set.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Flourless Fudge Cookies

I love chocolate - love love love it.  I tend to make a lot of it on here, and I'm trying to even the baking out with more non-chocolate things.  But when I saw these Flourless Fudge Cookies, I couldn't resist. I had to make them.  And even if you're not gluten-free, make these.  You can't tell the difference - and they are way better than a normal cookie.  They literally taste like chocolate fudge - I'm making these again really soon - probably today or tomorrow.  That is how much I love them - and my sisters love them. 

amazing - seriously
Make these - make them now.  They are extremely easy - takes less than 5 minutes.  You don't even need a mixer - I did it all by hand.  Ween came home and I immediately gave her one.  She took a bite, looked at me and smiled and said 'Since these are gluten free are these all for me?' We laughed and I said no they were for all of us, but I will make them all the time - I can feel it. And I did actually make them again the next day, they went quickly. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

S'mores Pie Cupcakes

I have looked at this recipe countless times. I love S'mores and one in a pie form?! I had to try it out.  Since I didn't want to make one pie, I decided to make it into cupcakes - I mean who doesn't like a mini pie in a cupcake liner - single serving and easy clean up (all you have to do is throw away the wrapper).  But for the directions in the recipe I will be listing it as the pie, to make it into cupcakes, just put everything into the cupcake liners and follow the directions.  (It makes 24 cupcakes). 

I couldn't wait to try one - the marshmallow
was very sticky so you can't really see the pudding layer
This is a bit time consuming, but worth it.  Next time I'm going to make it into pie form - so much easier.  But a pie is hard to share with my taste testers so I did the time I will be sure to make a pie for my family - no worrying about splitting it there. 

S'mores Pie
makes one 9" pie

Graham Cracker Crust
14 graham crackers
3 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp melted butter
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted - for after crust is baked and cooled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grind the crackers and sugar in a food processor.  Add the melted butter and pulse until moist.  Press into a 9" pie plate and bake until firm, 18-22 minutes.  Let cool completely. 

Once cooled, brush with 4 oz melted chocolate and chill.  Once chilled, make pudding filling

Chocolate Pudding Filling
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 large egg yolks
1 tbsp brewed coffee, cooled
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

Heat the milk in a large saucepan until hot but not boiling.  Whisk the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a large bowl, then whisk in the egg yolks, coffee and vanilla.  Whisk half of the hot milk into the egg mixture until smooth, then gradually whisk the egg mixture into the pan with the remaining milk.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens, 1-3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate until melted.  Transfer to a bowl and cool slightly, stirring a few times to prevent a skin from forming.

Pour the filling into the crust; press plastic wrap directly onto the surface and chill until set, at least 4 hours. 

Make Marshmallow Topping

Beat 3 egg whites, 1 tsp cream of tartar and 1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar in a heatproof bowl over simmering water with a handheld mixer until the sugar dissolves.  Remove from the heat and beat until stiff.  Spread on the pie and broil or torch until golden.

Whoppers Cookies

Ween has a deep love for Whoppers - I liken it to my love of Rolo's.  I'm not really a fan of Whoppers, I could have one or two from a box and be happy for months, maybe even a year, before I would want another one again. But when I see a recipe for something with them in it, my first thought is always Ween. I had come across a Whopper Brownie recipe and knew I would make that.  Then I saw the cookies and knew I had to make them as well.  Which one to make first?!  The cookies were easier and I had everything for them, where as I didn't have everything I needed for the brownies and didn't really feel like getting in my car and going to the grocery store - cookies it is!! 

Whopper goodness
Ween gets home from work and sees the racks of cookies cooling on the kitchen counter.  When she asked what they were, I said Whopper Cookies.  She came out and got all excited, eyes all wide, and asked if she would get any.  I said yes but they weren't done yet.  I still needed to melt some chocolate and top them off with more crushed Whoppers.  This made her excited.  Maybe a little anxious to try them, she couldn't wait for the chocolate to finish setting fully before she tried one.  I knew she was a happy camper when she turned to me and asked if they were all going to taste testers, because they really aren't that good and we should keep them all for her to eat.  I told her nice try and yes they were going away to taste testers.  But she has Whoppers Brownies to look forward to. 

Whoppers Cookies
makes about 40 cookies

1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup instant malted milk powder
1 cup coarsely chopped Whoppers (a large box works perfectly)
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp hot water

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.  In a large mixing bowl beat butter on medium-high speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugar, brown sugar, baking soda and salt.  Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl as needed.  Beat in eggs, vanilla, cocoa powder and milk.  Add flour and malted milk powder and mix until combined.  Stir in chopped Whoppers.
  2. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 1" apart onto prepared cookie sheets.  Bake, rotating halfway through, 8-10 minutes or until edges are firm.  Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. 
  3. Place chocolate chips and water in a microwave safe bowl and melt, 30 seconds at a time, until chocolate is melted.  Stir until smooth.  Top each cookie with chocolate and top with a couple pieces of chopped Whoppers.  Let chocolate set.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lemon-Cranberry Yeast Cake

I am a lover of quick breads.  They are so tasty and, as the name says, quick.  I saw this recipe and was intrigued by it since it involves yeast.  I had to make it.  I've never seen a recipe like this before, my thoughts went to how will the yeast make it taste and how much will it rise - I swear my mind goes off in a million directions when it sees something I want to make.  I read and re-read the directions a million times.  I wanted to add something to it so I added some dried cranberries.  It went along perfectly with it.  If you are up for a different kind of cake, try this one out.  It is very tasty and the syrup you put on it once it comes out of the oven leaves the cake amazingly moist and delicious. 

Lemon-Cranberry Yeast Cake
makes one 10" cake

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour, divided
2 1/4 tsp (one packet) instant yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup warm milk
10 tbsp butter, melted
4 large eggs
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 cups dried cranberries

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice

  1. Grease a 10" tube pan
  2. In a large bow combine 3/4 cup flour, yeast, sugar and salt.  Combine the warm milk and melted butter, and gradually add to the flour mixture, mixing for 2 minutes.  Add the eggs, remaining 1 1/2 cups flour and lemon zest.  Beat vigorously for 2 minutes, stir in dried cranberries.  Spread the dough evenly into the pan.  Cover, and let rise for 1 hour.  Towards the end of the cake's rising time, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Make the syrup: combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the syrup thickens.  Add the lemon juice, and remove from the heat.
  4. Bake the cake for 22-25 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove it from the oven.
  5. Brush half the syrup over the cake, and allow it to cool for 5 minutes.  Turn it out onto a rack set over parchment paper or a pan.  Brush the remaining syrup over the newly exposed bottom crust.  Turn the cake right-side up onto a plate, and cool completely.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Gin and Tonic Cake

I love to bake with alcohol - this is no secret.  When I saw this recipe for Gin and Tonic Cake I freaked out.  I got extremely excited.  I planned on making it next week, but I was too impatient and couldn't wait - I had to make it right away. I called my mom to see if she had any Gin - and she did! Jackpot!


She sounded very interested in what I was making, I'm pretty sure I will be making this one again.  I get home from the Gin pickup and get to work - after I post a picture of the Gin on my Facebook page.  People started commenting really quick on it, asking for the recipe, asking me to let them know how it turns out - I was really excited that people were getting excited about this.  Gin and Tonic is a classic drink that everyone had tried at least once, so to find out that someone had turned it into a cake excited me to no end.  I happily shared the recipe with everyone and my tips to make it easier for them.  Just a warning - there is a lot of Gin in this recipe - like a cups worth of Gin.  It's in the cake, the glaze and the icing.  So if you're thinking that it's not going to be strong and the alcohol will of baked off, sorry to disappoint.  Lots of Gin, and it's amazing.  Like leaves your tongue kind of numb and your belly all nice and warm amazing.  My taste testers LOVED this cake.  I got amazing feedback about it. 

Amazing cake

 Gin Glaze is now my new favorite glaze.  I'm absolutely going to make this all the time - I have a short list going of when I can make it again - when AD and UD come for their next visit (hint hint AD), for my friends house warming party next month, and I'm sure I can find any excuse to make it. So bottom line, if you love a Gin and Tonic - make this cake, you wont be disappointed at all.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Orange Popsicle Ice Cream

I've never been a fan of the Creamsicle.  My mom, however, is a huge fan of them.  Huge.  I remember she always bought them when I was younger, and I would always just eat the orange part and leave the middle for her to eat.  When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make it for her.  And I have to admit - this is the easiest recipe ever.  All you need is a blender, your ingredients and your ice cream machine.  No cooking of anything required for this one.  It didn't take me long to make this at all - under 5 minutes.  Who doesn't love something that easy?  I'm pretty sure that it took me longer to do the dishes than it did to actively make this.  Toss it all in the blender to make it smooth, toss it in the fridge to chill and then into your ice cream machine to churn. 

just like the popsicle
Of course I had to try a little, and it tastes exactly like the popsicle.  Exactly.  If you are a fan of the Creamsicle, then this is a must make.  My mom was extremely excited for this. 

Orange Popsicle Ice Cream
makes about 1 quart

2/3 cup sugar
grated zest of 3 oranges
1 1/4 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (from 4 or 5 large oranges)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup half and half
2 tsp Grand Marnier or another orange flavored liqueur

In a blender, pulverize the sugar and orange zest until the zest is very fine.  Add the orange juice, sour cream, half and half, and Grand Marnier and blend until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.  

Brown Sugar-Toffee Chip Shortbread Cookies

I adapted this recipe from David Lebovitz's Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread Cookies.  I'm not a fan of nuts in my desserts, this is no secret.  But I had a bag of toffee chips laying around and I thought it would go perfectly in this recipe.  Plus, I love shortbread cookies, and a brown sugar version of it?! I was all over making this one.  I didn't need to tinker with it much, I love easy recipes like this.  And to top them all off, I dipped each one in chocolate - could it get any better? I think not.  So make these cookies!! And you can always freeze the dough for up to a month, and we all know how I love to have cookie dough in the freezer for whenever needed. 

Brown Sugar-Toffee Chip Shortbread Cookies
makes about 48 cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 bag toffee bit chips
4 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.  In a large bowl beat together the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until just completely smooth and no streaks of butter remain.  Mix in the vanilla.  Add the flour mixture and beat until completely incorporated.  Stir in toffee bits.
  2. Turn out dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap.  Shape dough into a log and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Place in fridge for at least 1 hour, or overnight. 
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.  Cut log into 1/4" pieces and space 1" apart on cookie sheet.  Bake, rotating halfway through, for 8-10 minutes, until edges are golden brown.  Let sit on tray for 5 minutes, until firm, and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. 
  4. Once cookies are fully cooled, melt chocolate in microwave safe bowl, 30 seconds at a time until melted.  Dip half of each cookie into chocolate, shake of excess.  Place on a large piece of parchment paper and let chocolate set.  

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pina Colada Scones

I love when I get suggestions from people I know.  Even the broadest of suggestions - like the idea to use Coconut M&M's in something. A couple things came to mind - cookies, cupcakes, scones, but when someone else suggested scones, I knew that was what I should make. I tinkered around with the recipe I had and then once I decided it was good enough to try out it was time to make them.  I love making scones.  They are super delicious, easy, and the ones I make aren't hard like the normal scones, but soft and delicious.  And addicting.  Once you see how easy they are to make, you will be making them all the time.  And the best part is, they don't take long at all. 

I made the dough (and tasted a little of it) and was happy.  The real test would be how it would taste once finished.  I baked them off and let them cool and then threw together an icing for them.  Waiting for the icing to set was killing me.  I can be a tad impatient sometimes and it was coming through with these.  Time had finally come to try one.....

sooo good was awesome.  I was impressed I had gotten it so good on my first attempt.  Usually it takes me a couple of tries until I deem it perfect.  But knowing me I will tinker with this a little bit more, but if you love Pina Coladas, then this will be your favorite new snack. 

Pina Colada Scones

3/4 cup Pina Colada Mix or Cream of Coconut
1 tsp Almond Extract
1 large egg
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick butter, frozen (at least 1 hour or longer)
1 bag Coconut M&M's
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp Almond Extract
2 tbsp Pina Colada Mix or Cream of Coconut
1-2 tbsp milk
pinch of salt

  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Whisk together and thoroughly aerate and combine.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, Pina Colada Mix and almond extract until smooth and thoroughly mixed.
  3. Using a cheese grater, grate the frozen butter directly into the flour mixture.  When all the butter has been grated into the flour mixture, mix with a fork until butter is fully incorporated.  Add in M&M's. 
  4. Add liquid mixture and stir until dough comes together.
  5. Flour a piece of parchment paper and remove dough to flour covered paper and shape into an 8" round or a large square (depending on what shape and size you want your scones to be).  Transfer parchment paper to a cookie sheet and place in the freezer to firm up, 20-30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpats. Remove dough from freezer and cut into shapes - if you shaped it into a circle, cut into 8 triangles.  If you shaped it into a large square, cut into strips and then divide each strip into small triangles (this will give you the highest yield of scones).  Place each scone on prepared cookie sheets and bake - for larger scones bake 15-17 minutes, for smaller ones, bake 8-10 - until edges are golden brown.  Transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.
  7. Once cooled, make glaze.  Once glaze is thickness you like, drizzle over each scone.  Let glaze set.  

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Brown Butter Toffee Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches

As I was out one day delivering treats, I ran into a friend and we started talking about my baking and what she's had so far that she's liked.  Then she had an ingenious idea, to take one of the cookies I made and do an ice cream sandwich with them.  I said that could be done, I just had to figure out which one she was talking about.  Even though it had only been a couple of weeks since I had made the cookie she was talking about, I still couldn't remember what it was - that's how much I bake.  Sometimes I even have problems remembering what I made last week - and this is why I always have Post-It notes for myself about things to do or things I need at the grocery store.  If I don't, I forget.  I know that if at some point in the future everything goes digital and there's no paper anymore, I will have hoarded a ton of Post-It's to keep myself happy. 

I go home to find the cookie - it took me a couple minutes to find it, but when I did I knew instantly that it would work perfectly.  Brown Butter Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies would go great with any ice cream, but I went with vanilla.  You can choose to make your own vanilla ice cream or use store bought.  I made my own ice cream (shocking I know).  And wouldn't you know it - the ice cream sort of melted out of each cookie. 

yes, there is ice cream in between the cookies, and
more all around the edges
I was bummed, I do have a perfection thing when it comes to my baking.  I texted my friend at Lettuce Eat Together about my issue and she said it happens, that homemade ice cream is softer than store bought.  It did make me feel a little better, but I was still a little upset - so a nice glass of wine was in order.  Once relaxed and not stressed out about it anymore, I tried one out.  It was tasty....even if some of the ice cream was around the edges of the cookie.  I will be making these again.  I do have a soft spot for ice cream sandwiches and summer is the perfect time for them.