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Caramel Apple Cider Cookies

7 Nov

I made these the week before my big birthday cupcake fest, after I made that pumpkin blondie cake for the second time. I needed something to do with the leftover frosting from that, and I felt that these cookies would be a very suitable match for it. They were fun to make, and actually a little difficult. I couldn’t find the cider mix that the original recipe called for, so I had to improvise a little bit. All I could find was CARAMEL flavored apple cider mix in a big container, so I bought that. Although the mix did smell very apple-y, I was worried that there would end up being too much caramel flavor, since the mix wasn’t supposed to even BE flavored. So I didn’t really measure out the mix, I just kept pouring it into the batter until it tasted good enough to me. I regret not adding more flavor than I did, though. The batter tasted SO much like apples that I was getting worried, but the flavor actually mellowed a lot during the baking process, and I was left wanting more of the apple flavor that had disappeared. To fix it, I actually sprinkled some of the cider mix on top of the icing, which fixed it quite nicely!

Caramel Apple Cider Cookies with Cinnamon-Vanilla Frosting
(From HERE – makes about 4 dozen)

What you need:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (7.4 ounce) box Alpine Spiced Apple Cider Instant Original Drink Mix (*not sugar free*)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 (14 ounce) bag Kraft Caramels, unwrapped

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray. The melted caramel WILL stick to it.

2. In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.  With an electric mixer, cream together butter, sugar, salt and all 10 packages of apple cider drink mix powder, until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and mix well.  Gradually add flour mixture to butter/egg mixture. Mix until just combined.

3. Scoop out cookie dough ball about the size of a walnut (about 2 tablespoons).  Flatten the ball of dough slightly in the palm of your hand. Press the unwrapped caramel into the center of your dough and seal the dough around it, covering it completely. Shape the dough into a ball, and place on parchment covered cookie sheets about 3 inches apart. Cookies will be on the larger side.

4. Bake 12-14 minutes, or until very lightly browned around the edges. Once the cookies are done, carefully slide the parchment or silpat off of the baking sheet right out onto the counter.  Allow cookies to cool on the parchment paper until they are only slightly warm, but cool enough to handle and not fall apart. I used a spatula to separate my cookies from the foil I used (because I was out of parchment paper), since the caramel was so sticky.

5. While cookies cool, prepare the frosting.

6. Allow cookies to finish cooling upside down, either on the parchment paper, a rack, or wherever else you’d like. When cookies are completely cool and the caramel in the bottom no longer gooey or sticky, turn them over and ice them!

We took these to our Ultimate game that night and shared them with both teams. Everyone loved them. My biggest complaint, though, is the caramel in the middle. While it DOES melt a bit during the baking process, once the cookies cooled, it hardened back up. If I make these again I will need to figure out how to keep it from hardening again. I felt especially bad, because we’d left them sitting in the cold while we played our 2 hour game, so when we handed them out, the caramel was kind of like a giant rock right in the center, and very hard to chew through. We took the leftovers home, and after sitting in our warm apartment, the caramel had loosened again to be edible, at least. So if you plan on taking these to an event, I suggest keeping them as warm as possible for as long as possible!

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Birthday Baking Extravaganza!

7 Nov

I’m back!

I know it’s been a while since my last few posts, and for this I apologize. I was putting some extra time in where I volunteer these past 2 weeks as we were wrapping up our first in school project, and then it was my husband’s birthday, which also had me pretty busy (I baked all day long, which I will chronicle here)! AND then, to top it all off, I got sick and have been suffering this nasty cold for a good few days now. I am finally feeling better enough, though, to where I can stay awake and not sleep all day long. Yay! I am behind in my posts so expect a few here in succession. I guess I will start, though, with the baking I did for my husband’s birthday:

THESE. CUPCAKES. WERE. AMAZING.

Amazing is, actually, an understatement. I normally… really dislike chocolate cake, and, if given the option, usually prefer not to eat it. I know. LUNACY! What’s wrong with me?!? Maybe it’s because I feel like chocolate cake is drier than other flavors, or that it tends to taste chalky to me, I really don’t know – for whatever reason, I do not prefer it. But my husband requested tons of chocolatey treats for his celebration and, seeing as he was the birthday boy, I (a bit reluctantly) complied with his wishes. HOWEVER, the recipe for this chocolate cake that this amazing blogger has concocted is PERFECT. It was soooooo moist, spongy, and chocolatey in a way that I found more pleasing than most chocolate cake but that most people who love chocolate cake may not even notice. And they were a MASSIVE hit! I think I also want to make these for the big celebration 826 is having on November 20th….

But I think you will also notice, in my first picture, how much they kind of look like eggs (or they did to me, at least). This is probably due mostly to my very amateur icing and photography skills, but don’t let this deter you! The deliciousness nestled inside that blanket of frosting is actually Dulce de Leche. YUM!

I had never eaten, nor made, dulce de leche before. Therefore I was very nervous. From my research I found that making dulce de leche can be very dangerous. While it is nice that the cans have to boil for 3 hours and you only need to check on them every 3o minutes or so, my paranoia and compulsiveness kept me in the kitchen for almost the entire 3 hours the cans were boiling. I was way too afraid to leave the stoveside for fear that in my minimal absence half of the water in the pot would suddenly evaporate/disintegrate into thin air and I’d be left with a huge, dangerous mess to rectify. The biggest thing I learned? That’s definitely pretty impossible, and actually hardly any of the water evaporated at all. So actually, not as dangerous as everyone was making it seem, I guess.

I was also worried, obviously, about what the taste combination of dulce de leche and chocolate cake would be like, what with having never had the former and not liking the latter. Turns out the dulce de leche, with a slight caramel taste, was the perfect creamy addition needed for me to absolutely adore these cupcakes. It also makes them seem *~*fancy*~* and who doesn’t love fancy every once in a while? 😉

Chocolate Dulce de Leche Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
(From 6 Bittersweets – Total time is about 4-5 hours, makes 12 cupcakes)

What you need:

  • 1 cup minus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 6 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp instant coffee powder dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water (or 1/2 cup black coffee)
  • 1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar plus milk to equal 1/2 cup
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups dulce de leche (about 1 can of sweetened condensed milk)
  • Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (recipe below)

Directions (You should make sure that your Dulce de Leche is cooked and cooled before baking the cupcakes):

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease top of a standard muffin pan, then line with paper liners.

2. In large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the egg, milk, coffee (or reconstituted coffee mixture), oil, and vanilla extract. Beat by hand or with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined.

3. Pour the batter, which will be very thin, to fill the paper liners about 2/3 full. Tap the pan firmly against the counter 2 times to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or just until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove them to a wire rack and let them cool completely there before frosting.

4. While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the frosting and the dulce de leche topping by stirring to ensure smoothness and adding milk or cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed to thin the dulce de leche to the desired spreading consistency.

5. Once cupcakes are completely cool, cut out a small circle in the top of each cupcake. Spread the topping on with a spoon or knife, letting it fill the hole. Once the topping is settled, frost the outside rims of each cupcake with your desired amount of frosting.

For the frosting (from here):

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or 1/2 pound), softened (but not melted!)
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

1. Cream butter for a few minutes in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Turn off the mixer.

2. Sift 3 cups powdered sugar and cocoa into the mixing bowl. Turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the dry ingredients do not blow everywhere) until the sugar and cocoa are absorbed by the butter.

3. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes.

If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional milk 1 tablespoon at a time.

ALSO, anyone remember those cake batter cookies? Yeah, I made the chocolate variation of them as well. Chocolate cake mix + white chocolate chips. They were also pretty phenomenal as well ;D Those cookies are so quick and easy – such a life saver! I planed them as a back-up in case these failed, since they can be made so fast, but luckily EVERYTHING turned out to be amazing and we had an overabundance of yummy sweets we got to share with our friends!

My New Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

12 Oct

I feel like I’ve just been going crazy with the cake batter lately, but I can’t help it. Those truffles were so good, and cake batter is, after all, one of the most delicious things ever; I tend to enjoy it more than the actual baked cakes, most of the time. And maybe that has to do with the nostalgia that flows in with memories of my sister and I baking with my mom growing up. I would plot ways in which I could empty the batter into the baking pan whilst leaving as maximum an amount as possible left for us to eat. But yes… regardless of the reason, it is a flavor I not only find immensely delicious, but am deeply attached to as well, and so whenever the chance arrives to combine the flavor with any other equally delicious baked goods, I jump at it.

Enter these Cake Batter Cookies I found the other day. THEY. ARE. PHENOMENAL. My favorite part about them? Is it how freaking amazingly they taste exactly like cake batter? Is how they somehow managed to develop a nice, perfect cookie-textured “crust” on the outside, while being soft and fluffy like a cake on the inside? As awesome as both of those things are… the answer is no.

My FAVORITE thing about these cookies is their simplicity. While I do enjoy on occasion experimenting in being a ‘foodie’ and trying out seemingly complex dishes with often ‘obscure’ ingredients, I cannot help but relish in simple recipes as well. I feel like, when I was growing up, there was a big to-do over completely homemade vs. boxed treats. When I was in high school, I remember what the mom of my boyfriend at the time said to me: “It really doesn’t matter if the cake you make comes from a box or not. So what if you use flour and sugar, you just end up with the exact same thing anyway.” And for the most part, I think she’s right. And I firmly believe there should be no shame in baking with pre-boxed ingredients. I found a baking blog the other day containing what seem to me very difficult recipes (which are fun to indulge in for special occasions and the like). I look forward excitedly to trying some of them out (there are a few of her cupcake recipes I’m considering tackling for my husband’s birthday at the end of this month!), but more often than not, many people want something that tastes fabulous while not taking a ton of time to make. And that’s where these cookies come in. 5 ingredients. 30 minutes TOPS start to finish. Cookie texture with the delicious cake taste. It really does not get much better than this.

Cake Batter Cookies
(via Stephanie Cooks via All Recipes)

What you need:

  • 1 (18.25 oz.) box Yellow Super-Moist Cake Mix
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips (I actually use the Ghirardelli Milks Chocolate Chips and I am never disappointed with them)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the cake mix and baking powder. Add eggs and oil, then mix until well blended.

3. Stir in chocolate chips, or your choice of additions. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto cookie sheets.

4. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven.  Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

The woman at Stephanie Cooks said the batter was crumbly and not smooth for her, but I did not have this problem at all. In fact, I encountered quite the opposite (as you can probably tell from the picture). My dough was VERY smooth, so much so I was worried it would be too smooth and not cook like a cookie. I think I ended up cooking them for 11-12 minutes out of fear of that, but once they settled and cooled off, they developed that external cookie shell that they needed (while still being fluffy and cake-y on the inside), and turned out PERFECTLY!

The other thing I love about this recipe, as with most cake batter recipes, is the versatility. You could ice these if you wanted to, to add even more authentic ‘cakeness’ to them. Or you can use ANY cake mix for any flavor you want. Other ones I VERY much look forward to trying to make are:

  • Red Velvet + White Chocolate Chips
  • Strawberry + White (or dark) Chocolate Chips
  • Lemon + White Chocolate Chips (or no chocolate chips!)
  • Chocolate + White/Milk/Semisweet/Dark Chips

I mean, you get the idea. The list is extensive, so feel free to play around with it! Let me know if you try any other fun combinations, and how they turn out!

My NOT favorite but still pretty good chocolate chip cookie~

10 Oct

I came across the recipe for these on Pinterest and was instantly amazed. The picture for them looked like no cookie I’d ever seen before, all smooth, mired with chocolate; the sugary landscape boasted perfect hills and valleys that begged to be dug into. They also seemed so exotic, being made with bread and pastry flours instead of the typical all-purpose flour. Even from my own picture, you can see the cracks, nooks, and crannys. They have a look no other cookie I’ve ever made has (which is due in large thanks to the variant in flours).

I was NOT originally going to post these, as they were definitely a big experiment for me. It was my first time baking with flours other than all-purpose flour. Sadly, I’ve never made bread, and I’ve never made cakes or any other treat from pastry flour, as it’s probably intended for. But I figured, why not post it anyway? That’s part of the point of this blog – to grow, and document my growth as a baker and chef. Writing about the recipes and process I go through encourages me to research and allows me to reflect on what works, what doesn’t, and how/where I can improve. Experiments, more so than complete successes, should be shared more excitedly, I think! I’m not the first to experiment and not completely succeed! That’s where the growing part comes in 😉

I have a love/hate relationship with these cookies. They were both at once the worst AND best cookies I’ve ever made. The secret lies largely in the chocolate you use, and in the baking time.

I found the recipe here, at The Tender Crumb, but it is a recipe belonging to the quite famous baker, Jaques Torres. You can find a fascinating discussion of cookies here at the New York Times, where they exalt this recipe as being the best cookie recipe ever created (and it took the collaboration of a few of the best bakers around to create). In the article, Torres discusses the fine and elaborate details that go into his cookie making, with one thing standing out especially large against my own process (ok, many things, really, seeing as I am nowhere near professional caliber, but you get the idea): the chocolate. Torres, instead of using chocolate chips, uses softer, more malleable chocolate chunks of special chocolate generally used to cover truffles and the like. Inside the cookie, instead of holding a chunky shape, this chocolate melts into streamlined ribbons, which flow beautifully throughout the cookie. While I took the advice over at the Tender Crumb blog and opted for chunks of chocolate, it still was not enough. Perhaps I should have melted my chocolate a little bit beforehand to help it out during the baking process? I just don’t know. Regardless, my own cookies held their chunk shape strong and refused to melt into such silky lines as others experience. I think I will have to try a different chocolate as well, if I were to make this again. I just used Ghirardelli bars, because those were what I had lying around, which i hand broke into pieces that I tossed in, but it wasn’t enough. So beware, if you plan on making these, and you ACTUALLY want them to be the best cookie ever, I highly suggest you study that NYT article thoroughly, heed the advice present, and do NOT skimp out when it comes to the chocolate. It makes the difference.

For me, this recipe made… a ton of small cookies. And I mean.. a ton. I think it made almost 100, if not more. I snacked on them as each batch came out of the oven. Directly out of the oven, they were alright. The first batch cooled, and hardened, and my adoration for them ceased completely. With every batch, I baked them less and less because they kept coming out too crispy. And in all honesty, the really krispy ones ACTUALLY tasted kind of like a knock-off Chips A-Hoy cookie! So if you love Chips A-Hoy cookies, go ahead and bake these to your content of crispiness. But do beware, they don’t LOOK like they’ll get crispy after cooling, but they do. These do a lot of settling after they bake. But yeah, so I baked for less each time, but after eating about 5 from the first few batches, I was unimpressed and refused to eat anymore of them. My husband liked them, but also said they weren’t the best thing I’ve ever made. So I brought them all out to our two Ultimate games to share with everyone, get a bit more feedback on, and  just generally try to get rid of, seeing as we were left with tons of them. Husband then took them to work, where more people loved and devoured them for more than I myself did. They were a success with everyone but me. After a few days, I decided to eat another one, pulling it from the box containing the last 3 batches I’d made, where I’d baked them for significantly less time than the first few I’d had.

THEY. WERE. AMAZING.

The outsides were crispy and the insides soft, and just… everything I had expected ALL of the cookies to be! And then I suddenly understood why everyone else liked them so much. In the end, they turned out pretty decent. Still not the best cookie I’ve ever had, but VERY good nonetheless.

Baking with different flours is intimidating at first when you’ve never done it, and for days I’d been trying to figure out what I had done wrong. Maybe I bought the wrong kind of bread or pastry flour without noticing? Perhaps I had messed up the quantities? All-purpose flour is comforting – you know you can’t go wrong unless you just can’t count. But after enjoying one of the last cookies, I realized it was probably nothing. I just baked them too long for their small size, and should’ve utilized better chocolate.

If you’re willing to experiment and have some fun and try something exciting and new, I greatly recommend this recipe to you. However, if you’d rather stick to a more comfortable zone, then I suggest you skip and this and try the cookie recipe I am going to post here soon that I made yesterday: Cake Batter Cookies! Now THOSE are easily the best cookies I’ve ever had, and by far were the EASIEST and quickest to make. But for now, I present:

The New York Times Best Cookie Recipe
Makes twenty-six 5-inch cookies or 8 1/2 dozen 1 1/4-inch cookies.

What you need:

  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons pastry flour
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 pounds bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats; set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars.

3. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

4. Reduce speed to low and add both flours, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, and chocolate; mix until well combined.

5. Using a 4-ounce scoop for larger cookies or a 1-ounce scoop for smaller cookies, scoop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.

6. Bake until lightly browned, but still soft, about 20 minutes for larger cookies and about 15 minutes for smaller cookies. Note: MY cooking time, for my what-seem-like-super-tiny cookies, perfected somewhere around 8-10 minutes.

7. Cool slightly on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Have fun! And feel free to share your own trials and tribulations with this recipe, or any other amazing chocolate chip cookie recipe you love! I also have a pudding cookie recipe that is amazing and I must post someday soon~!

Pumpkin Krispies!

19 Sep

These are another magnificent treat that, after snacking on them for a whole week and not sharing with anyone at my husband’s office because I loved them THAT MUCH, I took to share with our Ultimate team. As much as I WANTED to eat the rest of them myself, I had to resist that urge more strongly than I ever had any urge thus far in my relatively short life, and let me tell you, it was very difficult. I’ve already established my adoration for fall flavored pumpkin treats, and pairing that with the ever simple Rice Krispie Treat was just ingenious; obviously I was in love from the very first nibble.

My health is very important to me, and I indulged in way too many treats last week. Yes, I made the truffles, the brownies, and these all in the same week :X not particularly wise, but eh… I was bored? which I found to be such a shame, because I didn’t get to eat as many of them as I WISH I had. I don’t like wasting, especially when ingrediants are expensive, as the white chocolate was for the truffles. Therefore, I cut out one treat with my pumpkin shaped cookie cutter and topped it with the remaining bit of white chocolate and orange sprinkels. Orange sprinkles obviously because it was near impossible to even tell that was a pumpkin and not just a circle, ESPECIALLY after I put the chocolate on it. Yeah… didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped, but I enjoyed it nonetheless!

Browned Butter Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treats
(from Cookies and Cups – She has fabulous pictures!)

What you need:

  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 1 (10.5) oz bag mini marshmallows
  • 6 cups Rice Krispie cereal
  • 1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

Directions:

1. Spray 9×9 pan with non-stick spray.

2. Over med-low heat melt your butter.

3. Once your butter is melted, continue to cook until butter starts to brown (it will turn a golden brown color and develop a nutty aroma). Be careful not to burn (once the butter begins to brown it can burn quickly). Stir up any brown bits.

4. Add the marshmallows and pumpkin pie spice. Stir until marshmallows are melted.

5. Remove from heat and stir in rice krispies.

6. When mixed spread the krispie mixture in your prepared pan. Spray a sheet of wax paper or parchment with non-stick spray and gently press the krispies down evenly. Let cool for 30 minutes and then cut into squares.

These taste divine. The amount of pumpkin spice called for is perfect – not overwhelming at all, adds just enough hint of pumpkin and spiciness to make this simple treat far more gourmet than I’ve tasted it done yet. The spice compliments the softness of the delicate marshmallows so well. You get all the taste benefits of heavier pumpkin pie in a more light and airy package that you feel completely guiltless for eating squares and squares of! And right there, you can now see my dilemma! I actually bought enough supplies to make 2 sets of Rice Krispie Treats, these and a set of cake batter flavored ones. I am still undecided if the cake batter ones will be getting made… There is a massive desire in me to just made another batch of these!! I still can’t believe Rice Krispie doens’t actually sell these come fall time… I feel like they would surely make a fortune if they did…

After this past week being so full of baking, I’ve fallen behind on my cooking recipes! So expect to me to catch up on those as I take a small break from baking. Time to focus on the healthier things again! Aside from the mock Chick-fil-A nuggets I made the other night… but those will have their own post!

Brownies~

19 Sep

So… yeah. Brownies are probably one thing that will not be featured here terribly often. I regrettably don’t like them much at all, nor have I ever really. The only brownies I EVER truly loved were the ones my mom made growing up. They came straight out of a box, but I had never had one I liked better. And even though I’ve eaten a fair share of box-baked brownies, none ever seem to be the ones my mom bought. I can’t ever remember which ones she gets specifically, though she’s told me countless times, and any time I try to find them in the stores, I fail. They were equal parts of chunky chocolate pieces that balanced what I tend to feel is the much drier rest of the brownie. And that’s generally what turns me off from brownies – I find them ALL to be uncomfortably dry, and they make my mouth feel kind of weird… Thus, I don’t make them that often.

But I DO make them sometimes, because everyone else loves brownies, and does not seem to find the same problems in them that I do; my tongue must just be broken in that respect. In middle/early high school I never particularly cared for chocolate. In fact, only recently (within the last few years) have I began craving it on occasion. I’ve been long overdue for some brownies, and taking into consideration my husband’s love for chocolate, I found some that I wanted to make him to celebrate our first month of being married! Heck I mean, if you can last one month, you can make it all the rest, right?!? At least I think you can, especially with ample baked goods! ;D “Cookies and Cream” is my ultimate number one flavor for any dessert ever, period – there is absolutely NO taste I cherish more. I try to bake anything and everything I can that combines that flavor, particularly through use of Oreos. And so yet again I find myself baking delicious Oreos inside another delightful treat: a gooey hot-fudge brownie!

Cookies and Cream Oreo Fudge Brownies
(from Kevin and Amanda)

What you need:

  • 1 box Brownie Mix
  • eggs & oil (as called for by the brownie mix)
  • 1 heaping half cup (6 oz) Cookies & Cream ice cream
  • 1/4 Cup hot fudge topping (chilled or room temp)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven & spray an 8×8 baking dish generously with cooking spray

2. Combine brownie mix, eggs, and oil as directed on the back of the box, but do not add the water.

3. Add ice cream and hot fudge to the brownie batter and stir to combine.

4. Pour half of the brownie batter into the baking dish. Layer with Oreos.

5. Top off with remaining batter. Bake for 40-50 minutes or as directed on the back of the box.

As far as brownies go for me, I enjoyed them (mostly due to the FANTASTIC addition of the Cookies and Cream ice cream, MY FAVORITE!!!). These brownies were SUPER MOIST. I baked them for about 40 minutes. The ones along the edge of the pan were a little hard on the sides, which was a bit surprising considering the extreme moistness of the centers and bottoms. As the original author of this recipe states, the Oreos in the center stay nice, soft, and gooey – perfect!

To save husband all the trouble and calories that come with consuming all of these, I took the remainder to our first Ultimate game of the fall season! They were a huge hit with everyone on the team who go to try one!

Truffles!

14 Sep

Apologies for the late update! It was a very busy and eventful weekend, to say the least, but I am back! AND I am also fairly new to making truffles. It is an art that had intimidated me quite a bit, up until recently; they just always SEEMED difficult to make, an assumption based largely in the fact that I associate truffles as having very creamy, non-solid centers. I am slowly realizing that this is not the case, and there are many truffle recipes that contain more solid centers (which, for me, is much less scary to try and work with)! Making that cake last week reminded me of something I had long forgotten (as it’s been a while since I’ve made any cakes): I. LOVE. CAKE BATTER. More than any taste in the world. The flavors, and the whole experience of licking the spatula clean, really took me back to my childhood when my sister and I would help my mom bake cakes, and how DELICIOUS it was to eat the leftover batter. Yummmm. I got nostalgic, to the say the least, and went on a search for some cake batter recipes!

I found two recipes for cake batter truffles. The first one I made was alright. I didn’t like them much – I thought they were too dry and struggled to get them moist enough, and the taste seemed… off – but they were a HUGE hit at my husband’s work regardless (even the higher-ups kept searching him out to have more)! Unpleased with those, I then tried a second recipe, which worked out MUCH better.

These truffles are perfectly moist and taste exactly like the delicious cake batter most people love and adore consuming (without all the raw eggs and oils)! They are AMAZING. And I feel like the possibility of combinations between cake flavors and chocolate shells are so numerous, I could spend weeks making variations of these. For now, though, I started with my own personal favorite flavor combination: Yellow Cake with Vanilla frosting! But I guess white chocolate is close enough?

Cake Batter Truffles
(as adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything)

What you need:

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 cup yellow cake mix
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons milk
  • 16 ounces of white chocolate (I used 4 4oz bars of Ghirardelli White Baking Chocolate)
  • Sprinkles!!!

1. Beat together butter and sugar using an electric mixer until combined. Add cake mix, flour, salt, and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add 3 Tablespoons of milk or more if needed to make a dough consistency. Mix in your desired amount of sprinkles by hand. Roll dough into no bigger than one inch balls (because they grow in size when you dip them in the chocolate) and place on a parchment or wax paper lined cookie sheet.

2. Chill balls in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up.

3. While dough balls are chilling, melt the white chocolate per the directions on the packaging. I prefer the microwave method. Break up all the squares of chocolate and put them in a larger microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 1.h minutes on 50% power. Stir. If chocolate is still not all melted, continue to heat in 30 second intervals until chocolate melts, stirring in between. Only heat until it is to the point where all of the chocolate will melt via stirring it. If it is too hot, let it cool before you dip the truffles in it so that the temperature difference is not so huge between the chilled balls and the chocolate. Using a fork, dip truffles into chocolate and shake of excess by tapping the bottom of the fork on the side of your bowl. Place truffle back on the cookie sheet and top with sprinkles. Repeat with remaining balls until finished.

4. Chill cake batter truffles in the refrigerator until serving. Makes around 30-40 truffles.

I know the directions call for tapping the excess, but I’ve come to find I enjoy my truffles with a slightly messed look to them, rather than perfectly coated and round. I’ve also still yet to have success at using any object other than my own fingers when it comes to dipping the truffles, so really, just do what’s best for you. These are DELICIOUS and take almost no time at all. Try them out!

Per suggestion of many strangers who have enjoyed these treats, I am considering selling them on Etsy as wedding favors or treats! Wish me luck!!

Pumpkin Bumpkin

6 Sep

In celebration of Labor Day weekend and Fall and our good friend Matt’s hosting of a board game night (Arkham Horror!), I decided to make a delicious treat to bring for everyone! I’ve had this one open in a tab for freaking ever, and have just been WAITING for the perfect opportunity to make it (and, plus, now that this is out of the way, I can finally start working slowly through all the amazing new concoctions I’ve found through Pinterest…).

These are AMAZING. SO delicious, even with what seems like a massive change to recipe that I had to make. I searched online to see if Pumpkin Puree and Pumpkin Pie Mix were interchangeable in recipes. Among some largely mixed reactions, I felt people were leaning towards “NO WAY NO DON’T DO IT DON’T EVER SUBSTITUTE MIX FOR PUREE.” I scoured the supermarkets but I couldn’t find any Pumpkin puree in the stores here just yet; I was lucky enough to find even the Pumpkin pie mix at one (and only one) Safeway near me. Therefore, I used 1 cup of canned Pumpkin Pie mix in place of the puree the recipe calls for, and added just a dash of the pumpkin pie spice (since canned pumpkin pie mix is already spiced). I also just felt like these needed some frosting, so I made my own Cinnamon Vanilla frosting to drizzle on top! It compliments these SO well! They are the perfect fall treat!!

Here is my VERY own:

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Blondie Cake
(Adapted from Sing for your Supper)

What you need:

  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup Caramel Sauce
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • Dash of Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Salt, divided
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
  • 1 1/4 cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 large Egg
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup canned Pumpkin Pie Mix (whereas the original recipe calls for Pumpkin Puree)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Butter a 9×9-inch baking dish.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.  Stir together and set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until well combined.  Mix in the pumpkin puree.  With the mixer on low speed add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.

3. Pour half of the batter in the prepared pan and smooth out evenly. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle the caramel in an even layer and sprinkle with the other 1/2 teaspoon of salt (feel free to leave the salt out if you’re not a fan of salted caramel). Carefully drop spoonfuls of the remaining batter over the caramel and smooth out as best you can (it doesn’t have to be perfect). Return to oven and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden brown.

4. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Makes around 9 squares. Taste, and see if you want to add the icing or not.

What you need for the icing (original recipe from here):

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (I used 1 unsalted + 2 salted sticks, because that was all I had! Still worked.)
  • 1 pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
Directions:

1. With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.
2. Reduce speed to medium. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed; after every two additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds to aerate frosting, then return to medium-high. This process should take about 5 minutes. Frosting will be very pale and fluffy.
3. Add vanilla and cinnamon, and beat until frosting is smooth. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 10 days in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

I was on a time crunch when it came to making the icing, so I did not sift the powdered sugar or even add it in the exact increments prescribed by the recipe. I PROBABLY didn’t aerate it as much as it said to because of that, and therefore, while it was still fluffy, it probably wasn’t as fluffy as the recipe intended it to be. To that, my husband only had this gem to say: “Who cares about sifting it, it’s sugar, just get that shit in there!!!” He thought the icing tasted AMAZING.

I also ended up having to use 2 sticks of salted butter (rather than unsalted, which is what the recipe called for), but it was still AMAZING. This icing was the PERFECT compliment to the pumpkin flavor, as the amount of cinnamon present adds a subtle but nice kick of extra spice – just the right amount!

I could see this recipe being too sweet for some, though, if you are sensitive to too much sugar (which I think is mostly fault of the icing), but everyone who had this cake said that it was phenomenal, so I think it worked out well! My first big baking experiment: great success! And Arkham Horror was a super fun board game to boot! Highly recommend playing it, especially with a good group of hilarious friends!

Need S’more Fall Recipes!

2 Sep

It’s FALL, my FAVORITE time of the year!! I adore the holiday season, the festive orange and brown hues, the pumpkins, the scents – heck, everything! I cannot get enough of this time of year, really. And I swear, I spend all year exercising so hard and staving off every pound possible in celebration of this fabulous quarter of the year, because this is the season that really packs on the pounds. The only thing I love more than decorating for the holidays, is baking for the holiday. And, thanks to Pinterest, not only has my womanly biological clock been severely ticking regarding the domestic sphere of life, but I’ve found a million AMAZING fall-flavored recipes, and I intend on trying to make as many of them as I possibly can.

I started with this one, because it was easy and I had everything on hand. And by easy, I mean smaller scale than the baking I did last week, which is difficult since I don’t have a kitchen aid mixer and although I work them out often, my arms still tire very easily having to handmix it all myself. SOMEDAY SOON THIS WILL CHANGE (once the budget recovers from wedding expenditures ;~;) Also, again, I fail and did not have my camera battery charged. Therefore, the following delectable picture (and recipe) are not mine, and come from the blog I originally found them in, here.

Now, I’ve seen a lot of S’more Bar recipes, but this one really stood out to me. It just LOOKS amazing, in all it’s warm, gooey, melting glory. The one thing I never really cared much about involving S’more’s is the Graham Cracker. While I do enjoy the cinnamon-y taste, I just… don’t really like them all that much. This recipe, instead, incorporates graham cracker crumbs into the dough, so you get the best of both worlds (for me, at least): the delicious flavor of the graham crackers, but the soft texture of a typical cookie (perhaps even softer than cookies, more like a brownie). SO delicious! And so, without further wait:

S’mores Cookie Bars
(from Lovin’ in the Oven)

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 king-sized milk chocolate bars (e.g. Hershey’s)
  • 1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme/fluff (not melted marshmallows)
  • An exactly 8 x 8 square cooking pan

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined.

3. Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. Place chocolate bars over dough. 2 king-sized Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side, but break the chocolate (if necessary) to get it to fit in a single layer no more than 1/4 inch thick. Spread chocolate with marshmallow creme or fluff. Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff (most easily achieved by flattening the dough into small shingles and laying them together).

4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars. Makes 16 bars.

I think my pan was slightly bigger than 8×8, so I had a little bit of trouble working that half of the dough to cover the bottom of the pan, but eventually I made it work! Spreading that marshmallow cream out is the trickiest thing ever, and if anyone has any tips on working with that stuff, I am all ears. I ended up using almost the entire 13oz container, I think, Just to save myself the trouble (and, to be honest, the more marshmallow, the better)! I baked them for 30 minutes, and that was just enough time.

They’ve kept well uncovered for the past few days, and I’ve reheated them slightly each time we eat them. Husband took the rest of them to work today to get them OUT of our faces! So hopefully everyone there is enjoying them =) Now please excuse me while I go scarf down the very last one left! ;D