Sunday, April 11, 2010

One for the "Posse"

So my mom refers to my sixteen-year-old brother and all of his friends as the "posse." Our house tends to be the hangout for the crew.

I didn't get these beautiful things cut up in time to take to the Rainbow House, so I'm leaving them behind for the "posse."

I'm spoiling them rotten.

The original recipe was for a 13x9 dish, but I halved it. I also omitted the salted peanuts that they suggested sprinkling on top.

PB&J Strawberry Cookie Bars
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
1 cup peanut butter (mine was a heaping cup)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (12 oz) jar strawberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream your butter and your sugar. Add the egg, vanilla, and peanut butter. To make the peanut butter easier to work with, I always zap it in the microwave for a little bit - maybe fifteen or twenty seconds.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter mixture, and mix until just combined.

Spread 2/3 of the dough into an aluminum foil-lined and sprayed 8x8 dish. Spread the strawberry preserves over the crust. Top the jam with dollops of the remaining dough.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes. I lost track of how long I baked these, but I'd say that 25-30 minutes is a good estimate. The doubled recipe called for 45 minutes, in case you're wanting to double it.

The Cake/Cookie Hybrid

This batch of cookies was my weekend favorite. I'm planning on making this recipe again - and again. And maybe a few more times.

The texture of these cookies was nothing like a regular cookie. They were like mini cakes... or muffin tops... or bread discs. They were so light and fluffy and wonderful.

Banana Chocolate Chunk Cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup butter-flavored shortening
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (I used three bananas)
2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter and shortening with the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Mix in the mashed bananas. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks.

I'd suggest refrigerating the dough for at least an hour or so. It still won't be easy to handle, but it will be better. And I'm sure it helps make them fluffier!

When ready to bake, drop by spoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets. I'd say that my cookie dough goobery clumps were a heaping tablespoonful of dough. I say "goobery clumps" because working with this dough is messy - but oh so worth it.

Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes. Mine only took twelve. They were perfect at twelve.

You can see my weird Megan Fox "toe thumbs."

Tried and True

I knew that I couldn't go back to school today empty-handed. My friends know too well that when I go home, I bake. I decided to make brownie's cousin: blondie.

I knew that an 8x8 pan wouldn't go far for me, so I doubled the ingredients (except for the salt, baking powder, and baking soda) to make the blondies in a 13x9 pan. Also, I used milk chocolate chips instead of semisweet. We had some mini Hershey's kisses sitting around in our pantry that I wanted to use up. I sprinkled the top with semisweet, though.

Oh, and I omitted the walnuts that the recipe suggested. People are picky about nuts. I was going for more of a crowd-pleaser.

The recipe also said only to sprinkle the chocolate chips on top, but I thought that was weak. Chocolate chips are meant to be folded into dough if you ask me.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and mix well. Beat the eggs and then add them to the mixture. Add the vanilla.

Add the flour mixture, a little at a time, blending well.

Fold in most of your chocolate chips - but save some for sprinkling on top!

Spread the dough into an aluminum foil-lined and sprayed 13x9 pan. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips on top. Bake for around 35 minutes.

So I put these into a care package to bring along with me back to school. I don't think they'll last too long.

Candy Bars and Cookies

So these cookies initially freaked me out. First of all, the dough was crumbly and dry. My cookie-baking senses told me that this had to be wrong. I double checked all of the ingredients, and no, I hadn't made the stupid mistake of omitting an ingredient.

I just added a tablespoon or so of milk and moved on with my life.

I rolled the dough into balls, noticed that they weren't flattening in the oven, and slightly flattened them with the bottom of a glass.

The result?

Thick, moist, cakey Butterfinger cookies. I'd say that they turned out even better than I expected. My dad kept asking me if he could have another one.

Double Chocolate Butterfinger Cookies
1 stick of butter, room temperature
3/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 large Butterfinger bars, crushed into pieces

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine sugars and softened butter until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla.

Add baking soda and salt and mix well. (I didn't read ahead and had already combined the baking soda and salt with the flour. Oops!) Add cocoa and flour and mix thoroughly.

Add butterfinger crumbs and chips and mix well.

Drop in rounded teaspoonfuls onto sheet with an inch and a half space in between (I had to roll the dough into balls because it was so crumbly. There was no "dropping" action here. I don't think that dough could have dropped if it tried.)

Bake for 9-11 minutes. (Mine took about 6. Wow.)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Kind of Like Starbucks

So here's a first! I've never baked biscotti before, although I have several recipes that I'm dying to try. I thought that a double chocolate recipe would be the best place to start.

What's better than double chocolate? I figured that even if I failed to make nicely shaped biscotti, people would be so excited about the chocolate that they wouldn't notice.

Double Chocolate Biscotti
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 (1 oz) squares white chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Gradually beat in cocoa and baking powder. Beat for 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Stir in flour by hand. Fold in white chocolate and chocolate chips.

Cover dough and chill for about ten minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Divide dough into two parts, and roll each part into a 9-inch log (about two inches wide). Place logs on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, about 4 inches apart. Flatten slightly.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to wire rack to cool for one hour.

Cut each loaf into 1/2-inch wide slices. Place slices on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 9 minutes. Turn cookies over and bake for 7-9 minutes. Cool completely, then store in airtight container.

The end pieces ended up in my father's stomach, of course. No better place for food, if you ask me!

Biscotti pre-second baking round.

Finally, finished biscotti!

This wouldn't be a biscotti post without a mug shot.

A Semi-Fail (Already!)

My first bake fail - and this is only my third posted recipe! As I was typing the list of ingredients, I noticed that I left out the 1 1/2 cups of cake flour. No wonder these cookies seemed so thin and buttery!

I don't know that it was a complete disaster. I made them look "springy" by rolling them in blue and purple colored sugar.

Colored sugar is simple to make! Just pour out a bit of sugar onto wax paper and add a couple drops of food coloring. Use a spatula to color all of the sugar.

Well, I guess I'll have my brother test one of the cookies and let me know how they taste. I doubt that leaving out flour will have much of a detrimental effect when it comes to deliciousness.

Springtime Sugar Cookies
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour*
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Colored sugar for rolling

Beat shortening and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Beat in egg, milk, and vanilla extract.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add flour to creamed mixture at low speed until well blended.

Refrigerate dough for at least an hour for easier handling. (I always refrigerate the dough, no matter what cookie I'm making!)

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Roll dough into teaspoon-sized balls and roll the balls in sugar. Place two inches apart on parchment paper-lined sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes.

*Need a cake flour substitute? Put 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in a 1-cup measuring cup. Fill the rest of the cup with all-purpose flour. Do that for every cup of cake flour that a recipe calls for.

I guess that my failing-to-read-the-entire-ingredients-list fail didn't turn into too much of a disaster! They look so... well... springy!

I made blue and purple sugar. Don't you just adore springtime? It's especially appreciated here, where we went through a bitter cold winter.

Update: My dad taste-tested a cookie for me. The lack of cake flour didn't ruin them after all! Hooray! So I guess it's up to you whether or not you use it.

Old Lady Time

I knew that the word "spicy" in the title of the recipe meant that our kitchen would smell like heaven. I also knew that these cookies were bound to be a success since they were some of the highest rated cookies on I'm such an All Recipes junkie.

I'm such an old lady too. First of all, I have a baking addiction. Second of all, I'm always in bed by about ten and awake by about seven. Oh, and I usually end up eating dinner by around four.

I'm such an unusual college girl.

Spicy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup butter-flavored shortening
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup raisins*

*I soaked the raisins in hot water for fifteen minutes. This makes them more plump and moist for baking! I'd suggest doing so.

Cream the butter and the sugar. Add in the eggs and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine your flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Add this into the egg mixture, stirring until well-blended.

Fold in the raisins. Then fold in the oatmeal.

Place rounded teaspoonfuls of dough on a parchment paper-lined sheet.

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

A Fail-Proof Combo

I baked these for the Rainbow House, but it's so tempting to take them back to my friends at school. The words "Reese's" and "brownies" in one sentence is enough to draw the attention of any college kid.

+ =

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Brownies
8 oz. (1 1/4 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
Slightly less than 1 cup flour
8-9 regular-sized Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Microwave chocolate chips and butter in microwave for about 45 seconds. If not mostly melted, microwave for 20 second intervals, stirring in between. Stir until smooth. Whisk in the cocoa powder, and set the chocolate mixture aside.

Whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, peanut butter, and salt until combined. Whisk the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Stir in the flour until just combined. Fold chopped Reese's Peanut Butter Cups into the batter.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and level surface with a rubber spatula.

Bake approximately 35-40 minutes. Brownies will be slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center should come out mostly clean. Cool to room temperature for about 2 hours. Cut into sixteen squares.

About Time!

Well, I've spent 95% of my free time in the past few months reading baking blogs and saving recipes that I'd like to try. I figured that it's about time I start a blog of my own.

A lot of the baking I do and will be doing goes to a good cause: the Rainbow House, which is part of the Nebraska Children's Hospital. It's a home-away-from-home for families whose children have long stays at the hospital. They gladly accept baked good donations.

And since I'm a college kid, I like to spoil my fellow students occasionally. You should see how college kids react when they hear the words "baked goods."

I'm also starting this blog because it's a good excuse to whip out my Canon Rebel. I received that nice camera for Christmas several years ago, and I'm ashamed to admit that I've been neglecting it.

I'm going to enjoy taking "food porn" pictures and sharing my adventures in the oven with you all.