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

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

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

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

The last few years we have gone to my father in law’s for Halloween because we live in a townhouse and no one really trick or treats here.  We use Karl’s house to get everyone dressed (this year as a ninja, Princess Tiana and a gnome), trick or treat as long as the cold Chicago weather permits, and stop back for dinner and dessert.  I was trying to decide what to bring and then it came to me.  My FIL loves coffee cake (given the opportunity, he could eat the whole thing himself) and I had just pinned the perfect recipe a few weeks ago.  I knew that the kids wouldn’t eat it, but they would be too preoccupied with sorting and eating candy to even notice.  So, coffee cake it was.

Halloween was a super busy day.  We went to Sammie’s parade in the morning and then went back again at 1 for Jack’s parade.  Immediately after that,  I planned on making the coffee cake.  But the problem was I neglected to notice  that there were four steps and a 45 minute baking time.  I took the cake out of the oven just 15 minutes before we had to leave.  It was supposed to cool before glazing, but there was no time for that. So I glazed it anyway.  The pan was too hot to hold so I had to carry it by the cooling rack and put it on the floor of the car.  Luckily, it didn’t burn into the rug.

I couldn’t wait for dessert to taste this cake. I love coffee cake too, especially those without cinnamon.  Don’t get me wrong, I love cinnamon, but I just prefer my coffee cake without.  I save cinnamon for the rolls 😀  I have to say, this cake was so worth the wait.  The cake is moist and buttery, with a cheesecake like swirl in the middle, some texture from the streusel and sweetness from the powdered sugar glaze.  I mean, really, how could you go wrong with this combination?

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Yield: 13 x 9 cake

For the filling:

Two 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened (light or regular)   I used regular

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

For the cake:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream (light or regular)

For the streusel topping:

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup flour

3 tablespoons butter, chilled and cubed

For the glaze:

¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

1 ½ teaspoons milk

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease/flour or spray a 9 x 13 cake pan. Set aside.

Make the filling:  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle, mix together the cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla on medium-low speed until creamy.  Set aside for the filling.  (If you have 1 bowl and paddle, you will need to put this mixture in a separate bowl, and wash them to use to make the cake batter)

Make the cake batter:  In medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well combined. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-low speed.  Add eggs one at a time.  Add the vanilla extract.  Slowly pour in the flour mixture alternating with the sour cream until it is all combined.

Spread half of the batter into the prepared cake pan with a spatula.  Spread the cream cheese filling evenly on top. Top with remaining cake batter and smooth with a spatula.  Using a butter knife, gently swirl in the batter.

Make the topping:  Add the sugar, flour and chilled butter in a small bowl.  Stir using a fork or pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly.  Sprinkle the streusel on top of cake batter.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on a rack.

To make the glaze:  In a small bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar and milk until creamy.  Drizzle over cake.

Source: Mother Thyme

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

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

Hello everyone!  I feel like I have been gone forever.  We have had a terrible cold virus taking us out one at a time.  First it was my daughter, then baby Alex got croup, then me and now my husband.   Somehow, only Jack was spared, knock on wood.

This month, my friend Eva at Eva Bakes picked pumpkin and sweet potatoes as the theme for What’s Baking.  I am so grateful for the support Eva has always given me and my blog.  Us bakers stick together!  So, if you get a chance, head over to Eva’s wonderful blog and check out her oh so fabulous looking desserts!

As I have said before, my husband is a super picky eater.  But surprisingly, at least to me, he loves sweet potatoes.  I have never baked with them before because I am not really a big fan.  So, I decided to go with pumpkin instead, since we both like it.  I made pumpkin bread a few weeks ago and it was delicious.  But, I wanted to do something different.  I came across these pumpkin cookies with brown butter icing and thought…pumpkin, spices, brown butter, frosting?  Umm..yum!

The batter of these cookies is simple to put together, but then Martha recommends piping the dough onto a cookie sheet.  Well, for 6 dozen cookies, that sounded like it would take forever.  I thought the batter was definitely thick enough to use a cookie scoop for portioning.  They may end up looking a bit nicer Martha’s way (doesn’t it always?), but I thought my way turned out just fine and was a heck of a lot faster.  Although these are called cookies, they have a cake-like texture, more like a whoopie pie.  If you have never made brown butter before, it’s really easy.  You just melt butter in a pan until, you guessed it, it is brown.  You just have to be careful to not go to far and have the bits turn black.  Then, I’m sorry, you will have to start over.  The addition of brown butter to the frosting, instead of the usual softened butter, gave it almost a butterscotch flavor that was crazy delicious!  When I was done frosting the cookies, I let Jack and Sammie eat the last bit of frosting in the bowl while I cleaned up.  All I could hear was Mmmm….Mmmmm  and when I took the bowl away it was almost clean enough to put back in the cabinet.  Sammie didn’t even want to taste the cookies because she hates pumpkin, she says.  Yet, after some convincing, she ate two before I cut her off.   Jack kept saying “These are so good mom”, baby Alex kept pointing to the container to ask for more, and all Justin could say was “Oh.My.God”.  So, yeah, I think my family liked them okay.

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

Yield:  6 dozen  (I got 4 dozen)

For the cookies:

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (14 ounces)   Almost a whole 15 oz can

3/4 cup evaporated milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle, mix the butter and brown sugar on medium until pale and fluffy, ~3 minutes. Mix in eggs one at a time.  Reduce the speed to low.  Add the pumpkin, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Mix until well blended, ~ 2 minutes. Note:  The mixture will look curdled, don’t worry.  Add flour mixture and mix until combined.  It shouldn’t look curdled anymore.

Martha says:  Transfer 1 1/2 cups batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip (such as Ateco #806) and pipe 1 1/2-inch rounds onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 1 inch apart. I used a cookie scoop and it worked great.  Bake the cookies, rotating sheets halfway through baking.  When done, the tops should spring back, ~ 12 minutes. Cool on sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire rack and cool completely before frosting.

For the brown butter icing:

4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon evaporated milk    Save the remaining milk to thin the frosting out if it thickens too much while frosting all the cookies

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract     I used vanilla bean paste….I love those specks!

Measure the confectioners’ sugar and put into a large bowl.  Set aside.  In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Cook the butter, swirling pan occasionally, until golden brown, ~ 3 minutes. Watch carefully, you want brown bits, not black.  Immediately pour the browned butter into the bowl of confectioners’ sugar.  Make sure to scrape any browned bits from sides and bottom of pan.  Pour in the evaporated milk and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Spread about 1 teaspoon icing onto each cookie. If icing stiffens, stir in more evaporated milk, a little at a time.   Let sit for a few hours to set before packing up for storage.  Make sure to place wax paper in between each layer to prevent sticking.

Source:  Martha Stewart

Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

As usual, I got a little overzealous buying bananas.  I mean, the baby likes bananas and all, but come on.  I don’t think I really needed twenty.  Although, this time it isn’t entirely my fault.  My parents gave me some when they visited last week.  Alex ate a bunch, but I still had 8 brown bananas to contend with now.  In the past,  I made some super delicious banana cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.  But, they start with a box mix.  So this time I wanted to try to make a cake from scratch.  However, I don’t always have such great luck with homemade cake.  They can often be really dense and dry.  But, I figured with the bananas and sour cream, it should be okay.  So I pressed on… I was determined to succeed after a major cinnamon roll coffee cake fail this morning. 😦

The cake batter was easy to put together and it baked up perfectly.  Oh, this was looking promising!  After letting the cake cool, I mixed up the frosting.  Just 4 ingredients, but holy cow, this frosting is crazy delicious!  I almost said forget the cake, let’s just eat this frosting.  But, against my better judgment :D, I went ahead and frosted the cake.  Yeah, then it would have been a good idea to refrigerate it for a bit to cut perfect slices.  Did I? Of course not.  I just had to taste this cake.  The cake is so soft and tender and just bursting with banana flavor.  The frosting is thick and creamy, with a pleasant tang from the cream cheese and just the right amount of vanilla.  Wow!  I don’t know what else to say.  Hands down this is the best banana cake I have ever had.  I still have 6 brown bananas left.  Heck, I just might make another one….

Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 13 x 9 pan of bars, about 16 pieces

For the bars:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp banana extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas  Totally smooth or a little chunky..your preference

For the frosting:
8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar    I didn’t sift and it was fine
1 tsp vanilla extract          I used 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

To make the bars:  Preheat the oven to 350F.  Butter or spray the bottom and sides of a 9×13 inch metal baking pan.  Place 2 pieces of parchment perpendicular to each other, with overhang, and spray/butter again. (This makes it easy to remove the bars from the pan for nice cutting.) In a large bowl: whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer,  with the paddle, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, ~3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and stir in the sour cream, vanilla, and banana extract by hand with a spatula.  Fold in the flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Fold in the mashed banana.  Scrape the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Tap lightly on the counter a few times to get rid of air bubbles.  Bake for 22-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.  Mine took more like 28 minutes.  Transfer the whole pan to wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese and butter together until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar.  Mix on low until combined.  Add the vanilla and mix again. Spread carefully on the cooled banana bars.  I found it easier to frost with the bars removed from the pan (by the parchment handles).

Source: Allrecipes  via Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

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
%d bloggers like this: