Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies


This Christmas break did not leave much time for baking since I have only been home and had access to my kitchen for 1/3 of the time. It being Christmas and all, I had to try a new cookie recipe. So before my family headed off to Florida for a week, I baked these delicious peanut butter cup cookies.

I probably ate half of the cookies in the week we were in Florida, and trust me, it is not hard to do when you have cookies that taste this good. I would recommend these over my old peanut butter cookie recipe for sure. This is also a good way to use up any leftover peanut butter cups you have from the holidays.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
2 cups quartered mini peanut butter cups


Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a cookie sheet (or two) with parchment paper.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the peanut butter and butter until well mixed. Beat in the brown sugar, baking powder, and baking soda until blended. Beat in the egg and vanilla until blended. Beat in the flour just until blended. Stir in the peanut butter cups carefully in order to not break them up too much.

Scoop out the batter onto the cookie sheet(s) and bake at 375°F for 6 minutes.

This higher temperature and lower baking time made my cookies stay moist and delicious for a week after I made them! Yum! I'm sure they would have lasted longer, but they were all eaten after a week.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies


Since I had the chance to come home for Thanksgiving, I just had to take advantage of the fact that I had a usable kitchen at my disposal and bake something. My boyfriend had come home with me for the break, and I didn't want to make something he wouldn't help me eat. I definitely didn't need a whole batch of cookies to myself after the Thanksgiving feast we just had.

Herein lies the dilemma. There are very few cookies that my boyfriend actually enjoys, and oatmeal raisin is one of them. However, I avoid raisins like the plague. They have always tainted my view of oatmeal cookies. So I decided to make a compromise and substitute cranberries for the raisins. That way, we both could enjoy some festive cookies! (These would even be a good cookie to make for Christmas. Perhaps substitute pistachios for walnuts? Then you could have red and green flecked oatmeal cookies...yum!)

For the recipe, I pulled out my mom's trusty red notebook full of holiday cookie recipes since I knew she would have a good oatmeal cookie recipe in there somewhere. This recipe made the best oatmeal cookies I have ever had! This, of course, could be due to the fact that I didn't have to pick out the raisins, but you should be the judge.

Ingredients:
3 eggs
1 cup dried cranberries
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup shortening
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet (or two) with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine the eggs, dried cranberries, and vanilla and let sit to plump up the cranberries.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the sugars and shortening.

Add the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon and beat just until combined. Add the oatmeal and walnuts and beat just until combined.

Scoop out the batter onto the cookie sheet(s) and bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lime Raspberry Bars


For my last post of the summer, I thought I would leave you with one of my favorite cheesecake recipes, plus a few added twists! This is seriously the creamiest cheesecake I have ever made, but it might be a bit too rich for some during the heat of summer. So I changed the recipe from cake to bar form for potentially smaller portions, switched to a graham cracker crust, and added some fresh raspberries to the top to cut through the richness.

Ingredients:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
32 oz cream cheese, room temperature
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
4 eggs
3/4 (key) lime juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz white chocolate, melted
2 pints fresh raspberries


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9x13-inch with greased foil.

Place graham cracker crumbs in a bowl and add melted butter and sugar. Mix well and then press the crumb mixture evenly onto the bottom the the 9x13-inch pan. Set aside.

With a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, sugar, and cornstarch until smooth. (This is easiest when all the ingredients are at room temperature!)

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the (key) lime juice and vanilla extract. Stir in the melted chocolate and then pour the batter on top of the crust, spreading evenly. Sprinkle the raspberries on top of the batter and slightly press them into the batter.

Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 200°F and bake for 2 hours until the center is firm. Remove the pan from the oven and run a knife around the edges. Turn off the oven and return the pan to the oven for another 2 hours. Chill overnight.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lime Yogurt Cake


Ina Garten's lemon yogurt cake recipe pops up frequently in the world of food blogs, and every time I see it, I always think about how wonderful it would be to have a slice right then and there. Not wanting to simply duplicate a recipe that has been done hundreds of times, I decided to mix things up a bit and make a lime version. I had a bottle of key lime juice on hand and used that instead of plain lime juice, and it works just as well.

My mom has been wanting me to make something relatively healthy instead of my usual butter and sugar-filled cakes and cookies, so this recipe was perfect. Oil instead of butter is always a good compromise, and the sugary glaze on top can always be left out. But leaving out sugar is never my style, so I'll just have to eat the top all by myself.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup key lime yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 eggs
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup lime juice

glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a large loaf pan, or multiple small loaf pans.

In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lime zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt into the wet ingredients.

With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s).

Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lime juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and lime juice. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Pour the lime juice and sugar mixture over the top of the cake and allow it to soak in while the cake is still warm. (I find keeping the cake in the loaf pan at this point keeps the liquid from going anywhere but into the cake.) Let it cool completely. Carefully remove the cake from the pan and place it on a cooling rack.

Put a piece of wax paper underneath the cake and cooling rack to catch any drips, and then pour the glaze over the top of the cooled cake.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Italian Chocolate Cookies


Ever since I tasted these cookies three years ago, I have been trying to find a recipe for Italian chocolate cookies that can compare. Unfortunately, my attempts at recreating these fantastic cookies did not even come close. I first tasted these cookies because my boyfriend's mom sends a huge bag of them in a care package around the holidays every year. And of course, I steal a couple...Okay, maybe more than a couple.

Since I have been craving these all summer and the holiday season is nowhere in sight, I finally got around to asking for the recipe. I am so glad I did because I will be making these every chance I get. In fact, these have become my favorite cookie! Their cakey soft texture, delicate spicy flavor, and sweet layer of icing is incredible. You will be wishing it was the holidays just for an excuse to make these constantly.

This recipe is originally doubled, but I think the halved version makes the perfect amount of cookies if you don't plan on sharing. You should definitely double the ingredients for the holidays or else your friends and family might steal all of them from you...Blasphemy! Who does that?!

Ingredients:
2 sticks butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup milk
4 1/2 cups of flour
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda

icing:
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper.

Mix the melted butter and sugar together until it reaches a gel-like consistency. Add the eggs and milks and mix well. Add the dry ingredients and half the flour. Beat just until combined and then mix in the rest of the flour.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (You can even refrigerate overnight. It makes the dough easier to form into balls.)

Roll into round, shiny balls.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Cool completely before icing.

For the icing, stir the 3 ingredients together. The icing should be really thick so that it dries quickly to form a thick layer. You can either drizzle the icing over the cookies or dip the tops of the cookies into the icing. (I found that the dipping was a bit easier.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookies


I have had a bag of crushed toffee staring at me from the pantry for almost a month now. Not knowing exactly what recipe I wanted to use it in, it has been untouched for far too long. Time to change that.

I was looking through some recipes on foodnetwork.com for inspiration and saw that over 700 people had reviewed Alton Brown's chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe and had given it all 5 stars. With that many reviews and that high of a rating, these cookies had to be good! Of course, I had to add a slight twist to the recipe by using the toffee pieces. But as far as I'm concerned, toffee only makes things better.

These cookies turned out pretty good, but I think they would have been better had I used actual bread flour. Also, I found that the cooking time listed on the recipe was WAY too long. I shortened it from 14 minutes to 9 because I don't particularly like my cookies burned. Chilling the dough in between batches would also probably have helped the cookies not spread out so much, making them thicker and chewier. I think all these improvements gives me an excuse to make them again...I need to buy some more toffee.

Ingredients:
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups toffee


Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper.

Pour the melted butter in a stand-mixer bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar and cream the butter and sugars on medium speed until they come together and have a gel-like consistency. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour, salt, and baking soda just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and toffee.

Chill the dough for a couple hours and then scoop onto the parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 9 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mexican Chocolate Crunch Brownies


Alright, here is the third and final Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest brownie recipe! This recipe comes from the 2008 competition.

One of my all-time favorite cereals happens to be Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I eat way too much of it when I'm at college, but I actually haven't had any of it this whole summer. That all changed when I saw this recipe, which uses a whole box of my beloved cereal! My dad took a sample of these brownies once they had cooled, and he proclaimed that they are the best brownies he has ever had. So if you want to make my dad's new favorite brownies, just follow the simple instructions below!

Ingredients:
1 box (12.8 oz) Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tbsp corn syrup
1 box (19.5 oz) fudge brownie mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3 tbsp cinnamon-sugar (3 tbsp sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp cinnamon)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9-inch pan. I find that it's much easier to cut the brownies if you line the pan with greased aluminum foil. (This makes cleanup easier, as well!)

Place all the cereal in a food processor and pulse until finely crushed. You could also place the cereal in a large resealable food-storage plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.

In a large bowl, stir the butter and corn syrup until well blended. Add the crushed cereal and mix thoroughly. Press the mixture evenly in pan.

In a large bowl, make the brownie mix as directed on box, using oil, water and eggs and adding cinnamon. Stir in 2/3 cup of the chocolate chips. Pour the brownie batter over the cereal mixture. Sprinkle the remaining 2/3 cup chocolate chips evenly over the batter. Bake for 20 minutes.

Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar evenly over the partially-baked brownies. Bake 14 to 18 minutes longer or until brownies are set when lightly touched in center. Cool and cut into 6 rows by 4 rows.

Peanut Butter Honey Brownies


This Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest recipe is from the competition in 2000. As soon as I saw the words "peanut butter" and "honey" used together, I knew I had to try this recipe. My mom used to make me peanut butter and honey sandwiches for lunch all the time, and I still love to make them every once in a while. As far as I'm concerned, adding chocolate into the flavor mix can only be good thing. I actually liked these brownies a bit more than the Peanut Butter Crunch Brownies because they had more of the brownie flavor and texture, but that's just me. So here is Pillsbury Bake-Off brownie recipe number two!

Ingredients:
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1 (15.5 oz) pkg Fudge Supreme Chocolate Chunk Premium Brownie Mix
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
3 tablespoons water
1 egg
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 8 or 9-inch square pan. I find that it's much easier to cut the brownies if you line the pan with greased aluminum foil. (This makes cleanup easier, as well!)

In a small bowl, combine peanut butter and honey and blend until smooth. Set aside.

In large bowl, combine the brownie mix, 1/4 cup butter, water and egg. Spread half of batter in the greased pan. Score batter into 16 squares. Using 1/4 cup of the peanut butter mixture, place scant measuring teaspoon mixture in center of each square. Carefully spread remaining brownie batter over top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until edges pull away from sides of pan. Cool 45 minutes.

Spread the remaining peanut butter mixture over brownies.

In a small saucepan, combine chocolate chips and 3 tablespoons butter. Cook over low heat until melted and smooth, stirring constantly. Spoon and spread chocolate mixture over peanut butter mixture on brownies. Cool 45 minutes or refrigerate until set. Cut into bars.

I actually ran out of chocolate chips and didn't want to use any more butter, so I just melted what I had in the microwave and put the melted chocolate in a small Ziploc bag. I then piped squiggles of chocolate all over the top. This way, you can see they yummy peanut butter and honey mixture without having to cut into the brownies!

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