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.

What’s Baking Red Velvet Round-Up

February was my month to host our What’s Baking blog group. I chose red velvet as the theme because it only seemed fitting with Valentine’s Day.  And, I realized, I haven’t baked anything red velvet and it’s about time I did. I just love the contrast of the bright white cream cheese frosting to the red velvet base- whether it be cake, cookies, brownies or whatever.  And, the chocolate flavor is so mild, even my husband can enjoy it and he did indeed.

Whats Baking Badge

My good friend Eva, of Eva Bakes, made these amazing looking red velvet marble brownies.  I almost made brownies too, but at the last-minute went with cookies instead. These look so crazy delicious that I had to put them to the top of my baking to do list.

Red velvet cheesecake brownies by Eva Bakes

Alison, of Sparks from the Kitchen, made red velvet cookie bars with vanilla bean frosting.  Butter cream frosting is always made better by the addition of real vanilla bean and these look delicious. I have never made the red velvet version, but frosted sugar cookie bars are one of my favorite things to bake. Why?  Because they have the taste of soft frosted sugar cookie with much less work and my family absolutely loves them. My husband has been known to eat most of the pan himself.

Red Velvet Cookie Bars - Sparks from the Kitchen

Nicole, of Seven Ate Nine (can’t help but love this blog name), made Red Velvet Cake Batter Squares.  She had these bars at her rehearsal dinner at The Blue Willow Inn almost 5 years ago and was able to recreate them from the inn’s cookbook. I love how food can bring you back to a day and you can almost relieve that memory as you eat it.  And, I also love that these bars have just 5 ingredients.  I mean really, it can’t get any easier than that!

Red Velvet Cake Batter Squares- Seven Eight Nine

Ange, of The Tiny Tyrant’s Kitchen, made red velvet chocolate chip cookies.  Chocolate chip cookies have always been my favorite dessert to eat. I have never had red velvet chocolate chip cookies before but I’m thinking that should change.  Ange had the same problem I did.  Our red velvet wasn’t as red as we would have liked because of the brown color of the cocoa. But, never mind that because these look delicious.

Red velvet chocolate chip cookies- The Tiny Tyrant's Kitchen

Carrie, from Carrie’s Sweet Life, made a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting for her grandmother’s birthday. Until now, Carrie had the same problem I do, and that is finding a homemade cake that she likes. I have found homemade cake to be too dense or too dry. This is the cake that changed all that for Carrie… as it was moist, the frosting wasn’t too sweet..in other words perfection.  I’ll have to give it a try. I have been meaning to make a layer cake so I can use the beautiful and incredibly thoughtful engraved cake server set my husband gave me for reaching a million views in November.  Awww…

Red Velvet Cake from Carrie's Sweet life

And, I made soft red velvet sugar cookies with cream cheese frosting.  In this house, we love soft, frosted sugar cookies.  So, I thought a red velvet version would be just perfect. And, I was so right. These cookies were amazing. They were really soft, with a hint of cocoa, and the most delicious cream cheese frosting.  Honestly, there aren’t too many recipes I make more than once because there are just so many I want to try.  But, I see more of these cookies in my future. So delicious and pretty too.

Soft red velvet sugar cookies with crea cheese frosting

Peanut Butter Brownies Stuffed With Milk Chocolate

I finally got tired of looking at cookbooks and food magazines half neatly organized and half piled haphazardly on my bookshelves.  My sister in law was nice enough to organize them for me while I was on bed rest with my son, Alex, last year.  But, I got a bunch of new cookbooks and magazines and I totally screwed it up.  So, I decided to take on the big project of reorganizing my cookbooks by category so I could get them off the floor, my dresser, in my car, behind the couch, and wherever else they were and onto the shelves where they belong.  Now I can easily find a particular book I am looking for and bonus- I found a bunch of cookbooks that I kind of forgot I had.  Yay for new recipes!  One of those books was Fearless Baking by Elinor Klivans and while flipping through it I found a recipe for bars described as an inside out peanut butter cup.  Umm…sold!  The recipe calls for you to make a simple peanut butter cookie batter, spread part of it into a pan, cover it with broken milk chocolate bars and spread it with the remaining peanut butter batter.  So, here is another easy recipe that requires no fancy kitchen gadgets- only a spatula.  I don’t know about you, but peanut butter and chocolate is a combination I never grow tired of.  If you love brownies and you love peanut butter cups, you have to know the combination of the two has to be fabulous.  You’re still not sure?  There is only one way to find out…  😀

Peanut Butter Brownies Stuffed With Milk Chocolate

Yield: a 9 x9 pan or 7 x 11 pan of brownies

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ pound (1 stick) very soft unsalted butter
1 cup smooth peanut butter, room temperature
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces milk chocolate, such as Lindt or Dove Bar, broken into about ½” pieces (I used Callebaut)

Position the oven rack in the middle and preheat the oven to 325˚F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch square or 11 x 7 baking pan.  (I lined the pan with foil first, then sprayed it with Pam)

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt onto a piece of wax paper or into a small bowl.  Set aside.

Put the butter and peanut butter in a large bowl and stir with a large spoon until they are blended together. You may see a few specks of butter- that’s okay.  Stir in the brown sugar and granulated sugar, mixing until they are incorporated and there is no loose sugar. Stirring vigorously, beat in the eggs and vanilla until the mixture looks smooth. Add the flour mixture and stir just until it is incorporated and there is no loose flour. Spread about two thirds of the batter into the pan, spreading it evenly with a thin metal spatula or a nonsharp table knife. Scatter the milk chocolate pieces evenly over the batter. Drop spoonfuls of the remaining batter over the milk chocolate, using a rubber spatula to scrape all of the batter from the bowl. Use a thin metal spatula or the table knife to spread the batter evenly over the chocolate. Be patient and spread carefully, this is harder than it looks 😀  The chocolate will be covered, but may show through the batter.

Bake for about 35 minutes until the top feels firm when gently touched and the edges are light brown. Inserting a toothpick as a test doesn’t work because the warm milk chocolate clings to the toothpick. Cool the brownies thoroughly in the pan for about 1 hour. Cut the brownies into pieces and use a thin metal spatula to remove them from the pan. Wrap individual brownies in plastic wrap and store at room temperature up to 3 days.

Individual brownies can be wrapped in plastic wrap then heavy aluminum foil and stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost the wrapped brownies as needed.

Source: Fearless Baking: Over 100 Recipes That Anyone Can Make

Fudgies

Okay, like most people, I love brownies and I love cookies.  Put them together and what do you get?  Perfection! 😀  I found this recipe in the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion and I just had to try it.  If you’ve never looked through any of their books or had a chance to peruse their website, you really should.  They have some of the most amazing bakeware, sprinkles, chocolates and of course, recipes.

I often don’t have time for recipes that are really involved.  So, I am always happy when I discover a recipe that is both delicious and easy to prepare.  These cookies fit the bill.  The dough is super simple to put together when you melt the butter and chocolate (very carefully) in the microwave.  Then, the rest of the ingredients are mixed in by hand. Easy peasy.  What you end up with is an intensely chocolatey cookie, with its chocolate flavor deepened by espresso powder.  Please, don’t leave it out.  The cookie is super soft and gets a shiny, cracked top like the best brownies should.  As if there wasn’t enough chocolate, I added mini chocolate chips for extra bursts of chocolate flavor.  The cookie was delicious on its own, but then I decided to take King Arthur Flour’s advice and use them as the base of an ice cream sandwich.  I put a big scoop of vanilla ice cream between two soft cookies and let me just say…..Genius! 😀  Whenever I make a recipe I ask my kids- thumbs down, middle, up or way up?  This recipe got two thumbs way up infinity from Jack and Sammie, so this is a keeper for sure.  Wait until they try it with ice cream!

Fudgies

Yield: about 24-26 cookies without chips, ~30 cookies with chips (Or if you choose to make them small- about 50-55)

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate*
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) butter
1 cup (7 1/4 ounces) sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chips, optional (I used minis, otherwise the cookies get kind of lumpy)

Hershey Kisses, nonpareils, or bittersweet chocolate wafers, if desired, to create a chocolate puddle.  I did not do this…maybe next time.

*You may use regular chocolate chips (1 1/3 cups = 8 ounces).   If you’re using bar chocolate (as opposed to chips), chop it into small chunks.

In a double boiler, or in the microwave, gently melt together the chocolate and butter. To avoid heating the chocolate too much and possibly burning it, the best method is to heat until the butter is melted and the chocolate has partially melted, then remove from the heat. Stir until all the chocolate melts.

In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar and eggs until thoroughly combined. Add the hot melted chocolate (carefully as to not scramble the eggs), then stir in the remaining ingredients, including the chocolate chips, if you’re using them. Refrigerate the batter-like dough for 1 hour, to make it easier to handle.  It firms up really nicely and is then scoopable.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

Drop the cookie dough by tablespoonfuls (about the size of a small ping pong ball) onto the prepared baking sheets. A tablespoon cookie scoop makes this easy. Leave about 2″ between the dough balls, as they’ll spread as they bake.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, until their tops are shiny and cracked. They won’t crack until the very end, so keep a close eye on them; when they’re cracked all the way across the top surface, they’re just about done. The point is, you want these baked all the way through, but just barely.  Additional baking will make them crisp rather than chewy- and you know how I feel about crisp cookies :D. Remove the cookies from the oven and top each with a kiss-shaped chocolate, a nonpareil, or a bittersweet chocolate wafer, if desired. Wait 5 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool.  They are very delicate right out of the oven- make sure to let them cool.

Smaller cookies? Drop the dough in 1″ balls onto the baking sheets (a teaspoon cookie scoop), leaving 2″ between them. Bake for 9- 11 minutes.

Source: The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion:  The Essential Cookie Cookbook and the King Arthur Flour Website

The Baked Brownie

I used to work in a retail pharmacy, and every once in a while, we would get a bunch of requests for the same product. I would wonder how could so many people want something that I had barely heard of. Soon enough I would find out that it was mentioned on Oprah and I would laugh. The belief was: Well, if it is good enough for Oprah, then it must be good.  I bet you are wondering how this story has anything to do with food. Well, the Baked Brownie was one of Oprah’s favorite things.  Now, while Oprah may have been wrong about the wonders of Airborne, she was not wrong about this brownie.  If you are a cakey brownie fan, this is not the brownie for you.  The Baked Brownie is really dense, super chocolatey, and just plain rich, fudgy goodness.  The better the quality of the chocolate you use, the closer you will approach the flavor of the Baked Brownie. I used Callebaut Bittersweet Chocolate Bars and Pernigotti Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder (Ina’s “good cocoa” :D).  Even my husband, who doesn’t even like chocolate, said it was really good…now that’s a complement! If you haven’t made the Baked Brownie yet, jump on the bandwagon and give them a try. You won’t regret it…well maybe you will after you eat them all yourself. 😀

The Baked Brownie:

Yield: 24 brownies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp dark unsweetened cocoa powder (Baked uses Valrhona- use it- you won’t believe the difference!!)

11 oz dark chocolate (60-72% cacao), coarsely chopped (recommended Callebaut or Scharffen Berger)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 tsp instant espresso powder (I used Williams-Sonoma Brand)

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

5 large eggs, room temperature

2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9 x 13 glass or light colored pan. I lined mine with aluminum foil as well, with an overhang for easy removal and cutting.

In a medium bowl, whisk the dry ingredients (flour, salt, cocoa powder). Create a double boiler by placing a large bowl over a saucepan of simmering water- take care not to get any water in the bowl. Put chocolate, butter, and espresso powder in the bowl, stirring occasionally, until they are all melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water while you add the sugars. Whisk until combined, and remove the bowl from the pan. Set aside and allow the chocolate mixture to come to room temperature.

Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat here, or your brownie will be cakey.  Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate and fold it in gently with a spatula until just a bit of the flour is visible. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Let them cool and cut into squares.

Source: Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

NOTE:  I have since made these again using Vahlrona.  I can’t even tell you what a huge difference that made.  I thought they were amazing before, now they are out of this world! 😀

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