S’mores Cookies

S'mores cookies

 

When I was a kid, I had the greatest time being a Brownie and then a Girl Scout. Now that my daughter Sammie is also a Brownie, I sometimes find myself thinking back to those days. One thing I loved about being a Girl Scout was camping.  Okay, so not in a tent in the grass but in a cabin on a cot, cooking our food by campfire, hiking, and horseback riding. That’s roughing it, right? At least kind of? A few things immediately come to mind from my Girl Scout days: one is sharing all those experiences with one of my best friends, Sara, and roasting marshmallows by campfire with sing alongs and ghost stories. What kind of Girl Scout would one be without a love for s’mores? Well, I do know one who doesn’t. My daughter. She just doesn’t like graham crackers, nor does my oldest son. When they go camping with my husband ( I “volunteer” to stay home with our 3 year old son), they have roasted marshmallows on fudge striped cookies. But, I just adore this flavor combination, so I had to find a way my kids could enjoy it too. A couple years ago, I found these s’mores cookies and I’ve made them several times since.  They are so delicious, but they somehow got lost in all the other baking I do. The base is essentially the same as that of a regular chocolate chip cookie, but you replace some flour with graham cracker crumbs. In the last few minutes of baking, you press a few marshmallows and some Hershey chocolate bar pieces into the top of the cookie. They are then finished in the oven until the marshmallows are gooey and the chocolate is melted just enough to stick. In the end, you get a fun cookie totally tasting like smore’s that I just know your kids, or the kid in you, will love.

S’mores cookies

Yield:  Recipe says 4 dozen, I got 26 but made mine quite a bit larger.

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour   + 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 cup graham cracker crumbs   I bought mine as crumbs but you can process some graham crackers until they are crumbs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract   I used vanilla bean paste
2 eggs
2 cups miniature chocolate chips  I prefer chopped chocolate: 1 cup semi-sweet and 1/2 cup milk chocolate
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
2 Hershey milk chocolate bars, chopped   I used 4.5 bars

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375F

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, cornstarch, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of your KitchenAid, beat together the butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until creamy.

Add the eggs in one at a time and beat well after each addition

Slowly beat in the flour mixture until combined

Stir in the chocolate chips or chunks by hand with a rubber spatula until evenly distributed

Drop by a rounded tablespoon onto the prepared cookie sheet. I used a 1.5 tablespoon ice cream scoop so I got fewer, but larger cookies. I got 9 cookies on a sheet.

Bake for 8 minutes (mine were 9 min) and remove from the oven.  They should be underdone.

Press 4 marshmallows and some pieces of Hershey bar into each cookie.

Return the cookie sheet to the oven to bake another 3-4 minutes until almost completely cooked. They will finish cooking on the cookie sheet for about 2-3 minutes.  Do not over-bake.

Remove the cookies from the sheet and cool them on a wire rack.

Source:  Two Peas and Their Pod; originally from Baked Perfection

Note: These recipes were exactly the same except for the amount of flour. The original recipe calls for 1.5 cups of flour and the Two Peas recipe calls for 2 cups. I split the difference and used 1 3/4 cup of flour. It turned out perfect for me.

Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Muffins

Chocolate chip sour cream muffins

 

As I have mentioned before, my kids love those Hostess mini muffins. They are so expensive and I know, not so good for you. I am always on the look out for some muffins I can make that the kids will eat and I can pronounce all the ingredients. I came across these a while back, I’m sure while browsing Pinterest, and knew they would fit the bill.  One of my favorite recipes, one step pound cake, contains sour cream that gives it a wonderful texture and richness. So, I guess that’s what drew me to this recipe.  This muffin batter is so super fast to put together that I can make it, hop in the shower, get dressed, take them out of the oven and give them to the kids for breakfast before school.  My 7-year-old daughter, Sammie, is not a morning person and absolutely hates to get out of bed for school.  But, when I tell her I made these muffins, she jumps out of bed and runs upstairs to get some. These are just perfect for Monday mornings when no one wants to get up and they are a great way to start the week off with happy kids with big chocolate covered lip smiles.

Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Muffins

Yield: 12 standard muffins or 36 mini muffins or 24 mini muffins + 5 standard muffins

1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1 cup sour cream

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit

1 teaspoon vanilla extract   I used vanilla bean paste

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips   I use ~3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chips with 1/4 cup finely chopped milk chocolate bar  (plus extra chips for the tops)

Coarse sugar crystals  optional

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F

Place muffin liners in your cupcake tin (how many depends on the size muffins you are making; see yield)

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients: the egg, sour cream, melted butter, and vanilla extract (or paste).  Whisk until well combined.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir gently with a rubber spatula until just combined.  If you stir too much, you will get dense muffins.

Gently fold in the chocolate chips (and chocolate pieces if you are using)  until just combined through.

With an ice cream scoop. fill each muffin liner about 3/4 full.

Add some decorative chocolate chips to the top of each muffin.   I like to sprinkle coarse sugar crystals on top for sparkle and crunch.

Bake until a toothpick in the center of the muffins comes out clean, about 14-18 minutes.  For the minis, it took about 14 min and the large muffins more like 18 min.

Allow them to cool on a wire rack until cool enough to handle. If you can..

Source:  The Curvy Carrot

Soft and Chewy Double Chocolate M&M Cookies

Soft and Chewy Double Chocolate M&M Cookies

My daughter loves to bake with me. Last weekend, she asked if we could make some cookies. So I pulled up my Pinterest cookie board and told her to pick one.  She is a total chocolate lover like her mom, so these were an easy choice for her.  Chocolate + cookies + M&Ms? It doesn’t get much better for a 6-year-old.   We set to work, her measuring and pouring and then her aunt called.  She is crazy about her aunt, so the cookie idea was quickly abandoned for girl talk.  She was sad that after her 20 minute phone call, I had finished the batter and had a sheet in the oven.  Well, the type A in me could not leave cookie dough unfinished.  But, no worries. All was forgiven when she tasted this cookie.  Sammie said “I have to say, my taste buds went on a yummy trip”.  I love this girl!  And I have to agree. These were some delicious cookies. The cookie base was very brownie-like and chewy. The M&Ms gave a nice pop of chocolate flavor and just look adorable anyways.  This one is definitely a keeper. A good lunch box cookie for sure. 

Soft and Chewy Double Chocolate M&M Cookies
Yield: 24 cookies.  I only got 18.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder   I used Valrhona Dutch Processed
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mini M&Ms   I used 3/4 cups:   1/2 cup for the dough and 1/4 cup to press into the top of the dough

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper.  I never bake more than one batch of cookies at a time.

In a medium bowl, sift the following together:  flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt.  I almost never sift, but when cocoa powder is involved, I do because it is always so lumpy. In the bowl of your KitchenAid with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium until light and fluffy, ~3 minutes. Beat in the egg, then the vanilla.  With the mixer on low,  add the dry ingredients a little at a time, beating until just combined.  Stir in the mini M&M’s by hand with a rubber spatula.  I would add about 1/2 cup to dough and reserve 1/4 cup to press into the top of the cookies after they are portioned. They look prettier this way.

Using a small cookie scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Press the reserved M&Ms into the top of each ball. About 5 or 6 should do it. Bake for about 8 minutes (rotating your cookie sheet(s) halfway) or until the edges of the cookies are set.  The centers may look a bit underdone – but they will finish baking on the cookie sheet. Please do not over bake! No one likes dry, burnt cookies.  Allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheets.  Remove the cookies from the sheets and allow to cool completely, if you can wait, on a wire rack.

Source:  Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

Boston Cream Pie

Boston Cream Pie

My good friend Eva, from Eva Bakes, and I thought it would be fun to tackle something off of our baking bucket lists together.  We would both make the same thing, choosing our own recipe, and then post the results.  First up? Boston cream pie.  Funny, I think I have only made about 5 layer cakes in my whole life.  Layer cakes to me are kind of fancy.  I am more of a cookie/brownie kind of girl.  But, I certainly have never turned cake down.  I love a challenge.

So I got up early Saturday morning to tackle this multi-step cake.  Unfortunately, my husband didn’t sleep well the night before and went back to sleep when I got up.  Let me just say, making this cake with baby Alex was not an easy feat.  He only took out the fire extinguisher, almost dumped a newly opened jar of cornstarch all over the floor,  shook salt onto the table, spilled a glass of water, and put a cup of dog food into the dog’s water. Ugh, I think that was it.  Given the circumstances, I think my cake came out pretty darn good.

Honestly, the cake really isn’t hard to make, it just takes a few steps.  To make the cake, you need to separate eggs and beat them in separate bowls, finally folding them together with flour. While the cakes bake, you make the pastry cream on the stove.  You then have some wait time for the cakes to cool and the pastry cream to set in the fridge.  After assembling the cake, you make a quick chocolate frosting to pour over the cake.  So, all easy…it just takes time.  You know the hardest part? Transferring the finished cake from the cooling rack to the serving plate.

The verdict? I thought that cake was delicious. You have a spongy buttery cake, filled with smooth, vanilla scented pastry cream, topped with thick chocolate glaze. How bad could it be? (I love Ina!)

So, one down, so many more to go. Thanks for baking with me, Eva! I can’t wait to see your cake!

Foolproof Sponge Cake

½ cup (2 oz) cake flour

¼ cup (1 1/4oz) all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

3 TBSP milk

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

½ tsp vanilla

3 large egg whites, room temp

¼ tsp cream of tartar

¾ cup (5 1/4oz) sugar – DIVIDED

3 large egg yolks, room temp

2 large eggs, room temp

Place oven rack in middle position and preheat to 350F. Grease and flour two 8in or 9in round cake pans (ATK recommends 9 in) and line with a circle of parchment. Grease the paper.

Whisk together the 2 flours, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter together on low until the butter is melted.   Off the heat, stir in the vanilla. Cover to keep warm.

In a large bowl, whip 3 egg whites and cream of tartar together with an electric mixer, on med-low until foamy, ~ 1 minute.  Increase speed to med-high and whip the egg whites until soft, billowy mounds form, ~ 1 minute.  Gradually whip in 6 Tbsp of sugar, ~ 30 seconds. Continue to whip until until shiny and form soft peaks, ~ 1 to 3 minutes.  Do NOT overbeat.

In a separate large bowl, whip the 3 yolks and 2 whole eggs with an electric mixer on med-high. Gradually add in the last 6 Tbsp of sugar, ~ 1 min. Continue to whip the mixture until very light in color and voluminous, ~ 4-6 minutes.

Gently pour the thick, yellow egg yolk mixture on top of the soft peaked egg white mixture.  Sift the flour mixture on top of that.  Now you have a white layer on the bottom, yellow yolk mixture in the middle and flour on top. Very gently, fold everything together with a rubber spatula, just until combined, ~ 12 folds. Pour the warm milk, in a steady stream, against the side of the bowl. Continue to fold until evenly combined and there are no streaks of flour, ~ 8 folds.

Immediately scrape the batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake until lightly brown and a toothpick in the center comes out with just a few crumbs, ~ 12-18 minutes. Do NOT rotate cakes while baking.

Immediately run a knife around the edges of the cakes and flip onto a parchment lined plate. Peel  off the parchment bottom and flip the cakes right side up onto a wire rack. Let the cakes cool completely, about 2 hours.

Pastry Cream

2 cups whole milk

6 large egg yolks

½ cup (3.5 oz) sugar

¼ tsp salt

¼ cup cornstarch

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 tsp vanilla

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer. Meanwhile, whisk the yolks, sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl. Whisk in the cornstarch until pale yellow and thick, ~ 30 seconds.

Slowly whisk the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture to temper, then return the mixture to the saucepan and cook on medium heat. Whisk constantly until thick and glossy, ~ 1.5 minutes.  Remove from heat. Whisk in the butter and vanilla. Transfer the pastry cream into a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly pressed onto the surface, to avoid skin from forming.  Refrigerate until chilled and set, ~ 2 hours.

Chocolate Glaze

2/3 cup heavy cream

¼ cup light corn syrup

8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped fine

½ tsp vanilla     

Put all the ingredients into a medium bowl. Microwave, stopping frequently to whisk.  Continue until all melted and smooth, ~ 1-2 minutes. Let the glaze cool, uncovered, until thick but still pourable, ~ 20 minutes.

Assembly:

Line a large baking sheet with parchment and place a wire rack on top. Place one of the cake layers on the rack. Spread the pastry cream on top of the cake, right to the edges. Place the other layer on top and press lightly to adhere.

Pour the chocolate glaze on top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Refrigerate uncovered, until the chocolate sets- at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.  Before serving, transfer to a serving plate/cake stand and let warm up to room temperature, 30 to 60 minutes.

Source: The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

Dahlia Bakery’s All-American Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Dhalia Bakery's Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Wow. I finally found myself a pocket of time and my head was swimming with ideas of what to bake.  I’m sure you are thinking, with all these ideas, why did she end up making chocolate chip cookies?   Well, to be honest, I just really had a taste for them.  When I was flipping through The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook, of course, the chocolate truffle cookies caught my eye first. But, the chocolate chunk cookies were a close second.  There isn’t much better than a big, chewy chocolate chip cookie and a tall glass of ice cold milk.  And these looked like my kind of cookie.

Most chocolate chip cookies have essentially the same ingredients, just in different proportions. If you are looking for a special ingredient, I hope you aren’t disappointed that there isn’t one in these cookies.  Why are they so good then? It must be that the ratios are just right.  The cookie tastes just as it should, of butter and brown sugar.  It has a very slight crispness to the edges, but is perfectly chewy throughout, and they stayed chewy for three days.  At Dahlia, Tom Douglas uses a mixture of milk and bittersweet chocolates.  I used all semisweet cut from a Callebaut bar, as unbelievably, I was out of milk chocolate.  I also used only 14 oz of chocolate (only??), instead of the 19 oz called for in the recipe. As much as I love chocolate, with too much, I believe you can’t taste the deliciousness of the cookie.

As you probably know, I don’t make many recipes more than once.  But this one is a keeper.  I’m looking forward to trying the two chocolates next time or M & Ms or Reese’s cups or……

Dahlia Bakery’s All-American Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Yield: 24 to 26 cookies (I got 24 big cookies)

3 large eggs, room temperature

2 tsp pure vanilla

3 1/2 cups (482 grams) all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 cup plus 5 tablespoons  (10.5 ounces/298 grams) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (25o grams) packed, moist brown sugar

1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups (9 ounces/255 grams) milk chocolate chunks

1 1/2 cups (9 ounces/255 grams) bittersweet chocolate chunks

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line your cookie sheet(s) with parchment.

In a small bowl, break the 3 eggs, add the vanilla and whisk to combine. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt. Set aside.

Into the bowl of your Kitchen-Aid, add the butter and both sugars.  Cream on medium-high, with the paddle, until very light in color and fluffy, ~ 4-5 minutes.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.  Beating on medium, pour in half of the egg-vanilla mixture and beat until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides again and add the rest of the egg-vanilla mixture.  Beat briefly to combine.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl of the electric mixer, beating on low until evenly distributed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and mix just 10 more seconds.  Don’t overmix.  Add the chocolate chunks and mix just until combined. Remove the bowl from the stand and using a spatula scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure all the flour is mixed in.

Use an ice cream scoop to portion the cookies in 2.5 ounce portions (~ 1/4 cup), placing them evenly apart, 6 cookies per cookie sheet.

Bake until mostly golden brown on the edges but still pale in the middle, ~ 16 to 18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking time.  If you are baking 2 cookie sheets at a time, also rotate them between racks.  Do not overbake.

Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before using a spatula to remove the cookies from the sheets.

Source:  The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: Sweetness in Seattle

Dahlia Bakery Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Dahlia Bakery Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Chocolate truffle cookies.  That was all I had to read before I decided I had to make them immediately.  I’m not sure if it is just me,  but I honestly don’t get it when someone says a dessert is too rich or too chocolately.   There is no such thing.  The more chocolate, the better.  And these cookies have a trifecta of chocolate:  bittersweet, cocoa powder and chips.   Sounds like perfection to me.  Besides, I have heard wonderful things about the famed Dahlia Bakery and I already love Tom Douglas as a Top Chef guest judge.  Though, I have to say, Top Chef has been pretty disappointing this season.  I am a huge fan, but Seattle is almost as bad as Texas, I’m afraid.  But, I keep watching anyways.  I think I just love Tom 😀

These cookies were easy enough to make.  I wouldn’t even bother with the double boiler. I have always had good luck melting my chocolate in the microwave.  I just melt it on defrost at 15-20 second increments and mix before putting it back in the microwave.  Just be careful to not melt until totally smooth or it will be overdone and bitter.  There should still be small chocolate chunks and the residual heat will melt the rest.  Make sure to beat the batter after you add the eggs for several minutes so you get the pretty shiny tops.  When you add the flour, fold lightly just until combined and your cookies will be tender.  As they bake, the smell of chocolate is intoxicating.  I love how the top cracks, hinting at the dark, delicious fudgeyness underneath.  These cookies were so good, I immediately ordered the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook.  I have a feeling that these cookies are just a hint of the deliciousness to come…..

Dahlia Bakery Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Yield: 30 cookies, 3.5in diameter

1 1⁄4 cups (7 1⁄8 ounces/205 grams) all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (3 ⁄4 ounce/20 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder     I used Valrhona

1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1 pound plus 4 ounces (567 grams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped        I used Callebaut

1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1⁄4 sticks/5 ounces/140 grams) unsalted butter, softened

2 1⁄4 cups (1 pound plus 1⁄4 ounce/460 grams) sugar

6 large eggs, room temperature

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups (12 ounces/340 grams) bittersweet chocolate chips   I used semisweet mini chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, and baking powder.  Stir in the salt. Set aside. Place a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan filled with about 1 inch of water.  Heat the water until very hot but not boiling.  Put the chocolate in the bowl and stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove the bowl of chocolate from over the water and cool for ~ 5 – 10 minutes.    I melted in the microwave at 15 second intervals, stirring in between.

Combine the softened butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle.  Cream on medium until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time.  Mix on medium until the eggs are incorporated.

Increase the speed to high and beat for a few minutes until the mixture is very light, creamy, and pale in color. Scrape down the bowl as needed. This is what gives the cookies the shiny, cracked tops. Add the melted chocolate and  vanilla. Mix just until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the dry ingredients with a spatula. Do not overmix or the cookies with be tough. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Start scooping the cookies as soon as the batter is made. The batter is very soft and sticky at first.  But it starts firming up quickly as it sits, making it difficult to portion. The easiest way to portion the cookies is with a 2- oz ice cream scoop. Pack the scoop 3/4 full. Or use a scant 1 ⁄4 cup or 1 1 ⁄2 ounces of cookie dough for each cookie.

Scoop the cookies onto baking sheets lined with parchment, about 2 inches apart.  Flatten each mound of dough slightly with a dampened hand.

Immediately after scooping the batter, place them in the oven. If baking in batches, don’t refrigerate the scooped dough.  Instead, leave them at room temperature. They will not spread properly if the dough is chilled.

Bake until the cookie tops are evenly cracked and they are soft set, ~14 to 16 minutes. Rotate the pan at ~ 7 minutes. If you have 2 pans of cookies in the oven at the same time, also switch them between the racks.

Remove the pans from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Allow the cookies to cool completely before removing them from the baking sheets with a metal spatula.

Source: The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook via In Sock Monkey Slippers

Dahlia chocolate truffle cookies

What’s Baking November Round-Up- Oh My, It’s Pie!

I am so excited to be hosting November’s round-up for What’s Baking.   I was trying to think up a theme and decided it would be a good idea to try to incorporate Thanksgiving.  When I think of Thanksgiving, besides spending time with family, the turkey and all the fixings, I can’t help but think of dessert.  And, dessert for Thanksgiving always seems to include pumpkin pie.  But it doesn’t have to be pumpkin, does it?  There are so many different delicious kinds of pie. So, let’s ditch the pumpkin and make pie the theme!

My good friend, Eva of Eva Bakes, recreated the old-fashioned Southern sweet potato pie that was the perfect ending to a real barbecue meal on a recent trip back to her Southern college town.  For this pie to be authentic, a recipe with pumpkin pie spice would just not do.  It was not easy, but Eva found the perfect recipe, without the spice, that allowed the sweetness of the potato to come through.  My husband is crazy about sweet potatoes.  He would totally love this pie!

sweet potato pie

After scoring a bunch of peaches at the farmer’s market this summer, Heather Lynn at Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks, made and jarred peach jam.  Luckily she had enough fruit to make this delicious peach pie filling too.  Heather Lynn had a mini-Thanksgiving dinner with some friends and all she had to do for dessert was make a pie crust for the sweet, spicy and juicy peach filling she already made.  Now, that’s easy entertaining. Ina would be proud!

peach pie1

Part of what Jenna from Jenna’s Cooking Journey likes about What’s Baking is that she spends a lot of time reading through blogs, looking for the perfect recipe.  She has found some great new blogs this way, including Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. where this blueberry cheesecake pie caught her eye.  Mel’s is one of my favorite blogs, too.  Mmmm…cheesecake with fresh blueberry topping? Sign me up!

blueberry cheesecake pie

Yudith, from Blissfully Delicious, didn’t really like coconut cream pie until she tasted this one that she made special for her mother’s visit.  This pie sounds delicious with a chocolate wafer crust, coconut pudding, sweetened whipped cream and toasted coconut.  And, congratulations to Yudith and her family on a new addition due this May. How exciting!

coc-cream-pie-913x1024

Ange, from The Tiny Tyrant’s Kitchen, likes to steer clear of pumpkin pie for the holidays and do something different. This time she decided to give sugar cream pie a try. Although it smelled good while it baked, Ange was disappointed with the consistency and sweetness.  I’m sorry Ange, I have had more than my share of baking disappointments.

Sugar Cream Pie

Joanna, from Kosher Kitchen, decided to make chocolate pecan pie with homemade pie crust.  Although she was nervous at first, thankfully, it was easier than she thought.  The pie was well received at her Thanksgiving dinner.  After eating it, her second cousin declared Joanna’s husband a lucky man.  Her husband couldn’t help but agree, for this pie and a list of many other things. 😀

chocolate pecan pie

Sandra, of She Cooks and Bakes, just had a baby (congratulations) and was hosting Thanksgiving, so she needed a quick and easy dessert.  This peanut butter icebox pie fit the bill.  Peanut butter and chocolate just happens to be my favorite flavor combination.  In fact, I am eating mini peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s as I type this. They are so good and I am now sad that they are almost gone.  Now, I have to buy more and make this pie!

Peanut butter icebox pie

Cookie Dough Cream Pie, say what?  Carrie from Carrie’s Sweet Life made this pie from The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook, which I own. I have made several recipes from the book and they have all been wonderful. Honestly, I don’t know how I missed this recipe because it looks and sounds delicious.

Cookie-Dough-Cream-Pie-716x537

Stephanie, at Brownies and Blondies, was talking to her fiancée about his mom’s coconut cream pie recently and decided to make it for What’s Baking.  But, it seemed too summery, so she decided to add cranberries.  And then what the heck, throw in some white chocolate because it goes so well with cranberries.  And that is how this white chocolate coconut cranberry pie was born!

pie

Nicole, from Seven Ate Nine, decided to make Paleo Pie because her husband and his dad are on the Whole 30 Program, which doesn’t allow for anything in a dessert pie. So, she made an egg “crust” and filled it with eggs, sausage, peppers and onions to make a quiche of sorts.  I never think of savory pies, but we love eggs in my house.

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And, I made French silk pie. It has always been a favorite of mine and apparently it is now Jack’s and Sammie’s favorite too. Of course baby Alex loved it, but really that is no feat, he eats everything.  The great thing about this recipe is that you don’t have to worry about raw eggs.  ATK found a way around it and the filling is actually cooked. So now it is safe for small children and it is still delicious.  Really, crazy delicious!

ATK French silk pie pie

Carrie, from Carrie’s Sweet Life, is the December hostess for What’s Baking.  So, at the end of next month, make sure to head over to her blog for a round-up of some delicious peppermint recipes!

November WB collagePM

French Silk Chocolate Pie

ATK's French silk pie

I’m sorry to have been absent this month.  I am very excited to have a great, new FT job!!  Then I also have my PT teaching job, three children, a husband, a dog….so, as you can imagine, November has been a bit busy. But, in a great way! 😀

I am happy to be the November hostess for What’s Baking.   I chose pie for the theme, figuring with Thanksgiving and all, it would be very fitting.  This year, we went to my mother-in-law’s for Thanksgiving and of course, I was in charge of dessert.  I decided to make a French silk pie because it has been my favorite ever since I was a little girl and my grandpa would bring one from Baker’s Square every time he visited.  I hadn’t made it since college, then  using a Pillsbury pie crust and a recipe with raw eggs.  But, with three kids, I figured this would just not do.  So, I thought the cooked version from ATK would be the perfect solution. And, I would scrap the store-bought crust and make my own pastry crust.  Oh, I always have grand plans…

So, I set off to make Martha’s pastry crust that I made last Thanksgiving.  But, I either forgot or didn’t read the directions carefully that the prepared crust had to be refrigerated for 1 hour before baking.  At this point, it was already noon and there was no time for that. So, I just put the crust in the oven as is and hoped for the best. When time was up, to my dismay, the crust totally shrunk down to about 1/2 inch tall.  Yeah, no way was this crust going to hold the French silk filling.  Oh, geez.  Now what?  Thank goodness we had some Oreos and so I made a quick cookie crust.  Problem solved.

For the filling, you will need a hand mixer to beat the eggs and sugar over a double boiler for ~8 minutes until they reach 160 degrees.  Midway through this process, my husband yelled for me to come upstairs.  He didn’t sound too happy, so I turned off the stove, put the mixer down, and went upstairs.  There I see Justin, holding Alex with blue, purple and green marker all over his face, hands, and the walls of his bedroom. Apparently Alex crawled out of his bed after his nap, found his sister’s markers, and decided that he and his room were in need of a makeover.  So, Justin had to put out that fire, while I went back to my pie.  Luckily, the rest of it went off without a hitch.

The pie was ready just in time to leave for my mother-in-law’s house.  I hadn’t made the whipped cream and chocolate curls yet, but the kitchen was all a bustle in apps, turkey and sides preparation.  So, I figured I should have an apple bourbon drink and just wait until after dinner to finish my pie.  But, the problem is, I cannot take pictures inside.  No matter how I adjust the white balance on my camera or how I edit it, I cannot get the color right on indoor pictures.  Of course, after dinner it was dark, so I didn’t get a photo 😦  But, this pie was crazy delicious and went fast.  So, what the heck, I would just have to make another one.  I mean, after all, I was hosting What’s Baking, I chose the theme of pie and then I had no pie?  This could not be.  I can think of many worse things than having to eat two French silk pies in one week.

French Silk Chocolate Pie

Yield: one 9 inch pie

For the crust:

18 Oreo cookies

3 Tbsp melted butter

Place cookies in the food processor and process until they are fine crumbs. Pour in the butter and process until well combined.

Press crumb mixture onto bottom and up the sides of 9-inch pie plate.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees until the crust is fragrant, ~ 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Source: I combined the recipes from Martha Stewart New Pies and Tarts and Kraft.

For the filling:

1 cup heavy cream, chilled
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened

With an electric mixer on med-high, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks, ~2 to 3 minutes. Put the whipped cream in a small bowl and refrigerate until needed.

Prepare a double boiler with a medium-sized saucepan filled with ½ inch of barely simmering water and place a large heat proof bowl on top. Put the eggs, sugar, and water into the bowl.  With electric mixer on medium speed, beat until the egg mixture is thick and registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer, ~ 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat.  Continue to beat the egg mixture until fluffy and cooled to room temperature, ~ 8 minutes.

Add the cool chocolate and vanilla to the cool egg mixture. Beat until incorporated. Beat in the softened butter pieces, a few at a time, until well combined. Using a spatula, fold in the whipped cream until no streaks of white remain. Scrape the filling into the pie shell. Refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.

Garnish with sweetened whipped cream and chocolate curls if desired.

Source:  Cook’s Country Feb/March 2009

For the sweetened whipped cream topping:

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

Chocolate curls, if desired

With an electric mixer on med-high, whisk cream just until soft peaks form.  Add confectioner’s sugar and whisk until stiff peaks.  Spread whipped cream over the chocolate filling.

Garnish with chocolate curls just before serving if desired.  To do this, heat a thick bar of milk chocolate in the microwave for 15 second increments until it softens a bit, but doesn’t melt. Use a peeler along the long side of the chocolate bar to make the curls.  Don’t worry, it’s easier than it looks.

 Source: Martha Stewart New Pies and Tarts

Whats Baking Badge

Oreo Cheesecake Cookies

This was not what I was going to blog today. I made this zebra bundt cake, coloring the white part orange, so it would be black and orange striped for Halloween.  Cool right?  Well, it would have been if the whole top of the cake didn’t stick to the pan.  Oh, and then it broke into 3 pieces after that.  Damn, it tasted good and the stripes looked awesome too.  Bundts for some reason always give me trouble.  I have a Nordic Ware pan, I use Pam baking spray plus flour, take the cake out at 15 minutes exactly, and about 50% of the time, I still get major stickage.  So, if anyone has any tips for me I would be glad to hear them.  It is just maddening.

No way I was going to attempt another bundt, so I decided to make cookies.  I scanned through my cookies board on Pinterest and I was stopped dead in my tracks when I saw these Oreo cheesecake cookies.  After reading through the recipe, though, I thought there must be a mistake.  It doesn’t have any eggs and no leavener either.  Weird.  But, I followed the blog trail all the way back to the original recipe and it was correct.  I was a bit hesitant to make them, but they sounded so good (and quick and easy) that I decided to give them a try.  I’m glad I did.  When you bite into them, you get a slight crunch around the outside and almost a creaminess on the inside.  You can taste the tang from the cream cheese and of course, the just plain deliciousness of Oreos.  I mean, really…Oreos, cheesecake, and cookies?  There can’t be too many better combinations.  Okay, maybe chocolate and peanut butter.

So, since I messed up my Halloween themed post, I will leave you with a Happy Halloween from Jack, Sammie and Alex.  Well, maybe just Jack and Sammie.  Baby Alex is not at all happy.

Oreo Cheesecake Cookies

Yield: 12 to 15 cookies (I got 14)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup flour

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1 cup crushed Oreo’s (roughly 8 – 10 Oreo cookies)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper.

In a food processor, process the Oreo cookies until they are fine crumbs. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the softened butter and cream cheese until smooth and well combined.

Add the sugar and vanilla.  Beat until well incorporated.

On low, mix in the flour. With a spatula, stir in the chocolate chips.

Scoop the dough with a medium cookie scoop.  Place the dough in your hands and roll it into a ball.  Roll the dough in the Oreo crumbs, covering it completely.

Place the Oreo coated ball of dough on the prepared cookie sheet.  Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating halfway through baking time. Remove from the oven when you see the edges just starting to brown. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes.  Transfer to cool completely on a wire rack covered with a paper towel.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Source:  Table for Two (as seen on Brown Eyed Baker and Two Peas and Their Pod), original source: Multiply Delicious

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I keep seeing the same recipe for “The best chocolate chip cookie” all over Pinterest.  And well, no wonder, this chocolate chip cookie recipe has been viewed over 1.6 million times!!  Wow!  Well, I figured there must be something special about this recipe, so I had to make it and find out. Looking at the ingredient list, it includes all the usual stuff, but then there is cornstarch.  I’ve never seen cornstarch in a chocolate chip cookie recipe before.  I know you can make a cake flour substitute by adding cornstarch to flour and this must be the same idea.  The cornstarch contributes to their super soft texture and gives them their “puff”.   And, since I am in the soft chocolate chip cookie camp (crisp cookies? Yuck!), that is exactly what I am looking for.  I subbed in chocolate chunks cut from a Callebaut semisweet bar for the chocolate chips.  Without the stabilizers in the chunks, the chocolate can’t hold its shape, so it is all melty and gooey.  Have you ever tried this?  No?  You totally have to!

So, the verdict?  I have tried tons of chocolate chip recipes.  I mean, they are my absolute favorite cookies and all.  But, are they the best?  I almost never say that because there are still so many recipes still to try.  But, I will say they are pretty darn good.  Soft, thick and puffy, packed with melted chocolate chunks, still warm from the oven…. Do chocolate chip cookies get much better?  Jack and Sammie don’t think so.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield: 2 dozen I got 21- though I had to throw the last 3 away because dang, I forgot about them and they burned 😦

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks-  I used Callebaut semisweet cut from a bar
Preheat the oven to 350F.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle, cream together butter and both sugars until fluffy and light colored.  Blend in the egg and vanilla.
Mix together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.   Mix the flour mixture into the butter-sugar mixture by hand.  Stir in chocolate chunks.   The batter is very stiff.
Using a standard-sized cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop dough onto a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until just barely golden brown around the edges.  Do not allow the cookies to brown on top, just the very edges.
Let cool, on the sheet, on a wire rack for five minutes to set.  Remove from the baking sheet and let cool completely on the wire rack, if you can wait.
Source:  Apple a Day, Originally from Anna Olson, Food Network Canada
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