Baking · Dessert

Little Windmill

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles

While I’m all for keeping traditions, sometimes it’s fun to take something basic and switch it up.  The first time I made these caramelesque snickerdoodles it was due to a lack of white sugar, but ever since that fortunate accident I’ve preferred to make them with a mix of sugars.  As an added bonus it also enhances the cinnamon flavors, kicking things up a notch in that respect as well.  The inspiration for this recipe came from the Joy of Cooking, but not the 75th edition which has a different flour:butter ratio.

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I don’t make these cookies very often, mostly because we tend to eat the entire batch within the first few days.  I tend to split the batch up with cooking temperatures as well, since I like mine just this side of baked while Joe prefers his on the crunchy side.  At some point I also want to give this brown sugar variation a try with brown butter and see if I can further enhance the caramel taste of these cinnamon goodies.  Sometimes making a mistake results in a disaster but sometimes it turns out very tasty indeed!!!

Baking · Dessert

and Candy

Kit-Kat Cookies

Happy (late) Halloween!  As much as I love trick-or-treaters, there is also something to be said about the leftover candy!  This year we got a variety pack of treats, with the hope that everyone would have something.  One year I’m going to be on top of things and hunt down some sugar-free and/or vegan treats but that was not this year and I’m gonna blame that on Sandy.  I started making treats out of the leftover treats when I realized how dangerous it was to have candy bars stashed in the cabinets.  Baking with them forced me to share with co-workers or risk never being able to wear any of my pants ever again.  In the past I’ve done Snickers Brownies, Kit-Kat Cheesecake, Twix Cheesecake, and York Peppermint Cheesecake Bars.  This year I decided to branch out and try making cookies with the left over treats, hoping that there would be candies left over that would lend themselves to this purpose.  At around 8PM it became clear that I would be left with almost a full bag of kit-kats so I decided it was safe to get cooking.   The basic recipe is based off one for Chocolate Chips that a roommate gave me many moons ago, but adapted to take in to consideration the extra sugar involved in baking with kit-kats.

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These cookies taste best when allowed to cool for a bit, which allows the kit-kats to almost reform inside of the cookies.  This gives the cookie a little bit more bite than your average cookie, along with a satisfying crunch.  I have a feeling Peanut Butter Cups would also do well in this recipe, and will have to give those a test next time Joe is out of town!

Baking · Dessert · Secret Recipe Club

Vanilla Twilight

Vanilla Bean Peach Cookies

Bonus SRC recipe!  This afternoon I saw a post calling for volunteers to help with some orphaned SRC blogs.  Always up for checking out new blogs I jumped at the opportunity and was given Heavenly Treats and Treasures.  It took me only a moment to realize that someone had missed out on an amazing blog.  This proclaimed southern mom offers a treasure trove of sweets, ranging from Brownies to Macaroons to Whoopie Pies to Giant Snickerdoodles!  She even gives out cooking tips for those new to the kitchen.  For a fair amount of time I debated trying out the whoopie pies, however I have a flight tomorrow so I wanted something that could travel with me.   So I kept on searching and then I found IT, the perfect summer time cookie recipe.  Even better, all I needed was to grab some vanilla beans on the way home.  This proved slightly harder than I thought but luckily World Market had some, and in keeping with HT&T I made sure to grab Fair Trade Vanilla Beans.

I had never tried a recipe with vanilla beans before but oh my goodness what a difference!  This dough was so heavenly I had to quickly get the cookies in the oven to avoid picking off the dough balls.  I made one slight change to the recipe, after finding out that my chocolate stash was lower than I remembered, by adding using fresh peaches in place of the chips.  To say the vanilla bean enhanced the flavor of the peach doesn’t even begin to describe the joyous dance my taste buds were doing.  I can’t wait to give this recipe another try, this time I’ll make sure to hide the chocolate away!


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Dessert · Secret Recipe Club

Toil and Trouble

Double Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies

Secret Recipe Club time!!!  This month I was assigned A Couple in the Kitchen, and I very much agree with their tag-line of “The Couple that Sautes together, stays together.”   I had a rough time picking a recipe this month, I think I had a good dozen flagged at one point before narrowing it down to three finalists.  In the end my sweet tooth won out and I decided to go with the delicious Double Chocolate Sea Salt cookies.  The first time I made these cookies I followed the recipe exactly and while they were amazingly moist I agreed that the chocolate needed some sort of something to bring it to that next level. While Chris and Amy suggested switching to a higher grade chocolate, I decided to keep with the Ghirardelli and add 1/2 cup of Milk Chocolate and White Chocolate baking chips.   Perfection!!!!  The combination of melted chips with sea salt created the most amazing taste sensation, which made this kitchen couple very happy indeed.

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In other news, Joe and I will be heading out of country later this week for our belated honeymoon.  We are heading to Vienna for the first week before going to London to catch the Queen’s Jubilee.  I’m looking forward to introducing my hubby to the place where my Grandmother was born and raised, and where her family still lives.  I’m also looking forward to seeing all the sites in London that I’ve been reading about for the past decade or so.  This trip is going to be amazing and I can’t wait to get going!

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Uncategorized

C is for Cookie

Apple Cinnamon Cookies
appleCinnamon
One of the advantages of the cold weather is I spend a lot more time indoors, which translates to more time in the kitchen.  I have found that I’m actually a rather decent baker, as long as I take my time and really think about what I’m doing.  Cooking is, for the most part, rather forgiving.  If you add too much of one spice you have the chance to adjust things before being served, and even in the worst scenario Chinese food is just a call away.  Baking on the other hand is not so forgiving.  If you are off in the sugar, salt, or baking powder then in many cases it’s game over.  When I first started baking I spent a good amount of time working out the right ratio of ingredients so that my cookies would come out the way a cooking should, round and golden, and not like my first attempts, flat and brown.  While I still have a long way to go before I’m ready to tackle Daring Bakers, I’m certain that I will eventually get there and that my house will still be standing.
These cookies are loosely based on the traditional ice box cookies, which I’ve worked with before in coming up with my coffee cookies, but have a slight twist.  These cookies are also an example of what can be thrown together when someone suddenly gets a dessert craving.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp apple juice
1 tbsp cinnamon

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a large bowl blend the butter and sugar.  Add the egg, beat well, then add the vanilla, apple juice, and cinnamon and blend together being careful to not over mix.
4.  Spoon the cookies onto a sheet and bake for 10minutes.  Allow to cool on the sheet for 5minutes before removing to a cooling rack.  


This recipe makes just over three dozen cookies, which is just the right number for my house.  For the best results keep the dough in the fridge between batches, or in the very least make sure the dough isn’t on top of the oven.  One of my first lessons in cookie baking came from wondering why my dough went from nice and firm and fluffy to runny in one batch.  Needless to say I have corrected that problem and now keep my dough in the fridge where it’s nice and safe.  

Uncategorized

Coffee Cup

Coffee Cookies

cookies

Coffee.  Caffeine. Sugar!  These three components are pretty much staples in my diet, and I don’t really find anything wrong with that.  It has been suggested that I am a nicer person once there is caffeine in my system, yet it has also been suggested that too much caffeine can produce negative results.  After seeing one two many episodes of Iron Chef I decided to experiment with coffee, trying to find other ways for using it that didn’t involve a cup.  While I contemplated coffee ice cream my last experience making ice cream wasn’t very successful.  So I decided to start messing around with cookies, which are becoming my go-to-baked good when I feel the need to do some baking.  Ice box cookies are one of those standard recipes that are extremely versatile, and a great beginner recipe for experimenting with new combinations.  I got my recipe from one of the original Joy of Cooking books, but I’m sure it’s in the newer versions as well.  For the tweaking I dropped down on the amount of butter and sugar, took out the zest, and switched out some of the vanilla in order to make room for more coffee.  I also dropped them instead of cooking them, but there is no right or wrong way.
Ingredients:
– 1 1/2 cups flour
– 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1 stick butter, softened
– 1 egg
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 2/3 cup brown sugar
– 1 tbsp coffee or espresso or coffee liqueur
– 1 tbsp finely ground coffee beans

Directions
1. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
2. In a large bowl blend the butter and sugar.  Add the egg, vanilla, and both types of coffee.  Mix well and cover.  Refrigerate for at least 30minutes, and no more than 2hrs.
3. Preheat oven to 375.
4. Drop 1 tbsp of dough onto cookie sheets, leaving space between.  Cook 10 minutes.  Makes 4 dozen 2in cookies.

The cookies can easily be tweaked by adjusting the type of coffee being used, for example espresso for those looking for a real kick vs. decaf coffee for those looking for all of the taste and none of the jolt.  I tend to go for the full throttle version, heavy on the espresso and the ground espresso.  It should be noted that I spent the better part of 8yrs working in various coffee shops so I tend to prefer STRONG.
Also as a note applesauce didn’t work very well as an egg substitute, the cookies spread out but they didn’t want to rise.  I am probably going to try again using flax or maybe bananas and cream of tarter but that’s an adventure for another day!

Uncategorized

Blue Satin Sashes

Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars

cookeDoughCheesecakeBar

“The best laid plans of mice and men oft not go astray.”  Truer words were never spoken, and many times I find that my baking plans tend to veer off course.  This week I was planning to do spread cookies, something I haven’t tried in many, many, many years but was looking forward to.  I had idea involving chocolate, caramel, and crushed up oreo cookies however when I opened the fridge I realized I was too low on butter which just doesn’t work.  So I started digging around in the fridge, trying to see what was available.  Hello there cream cheese (actually neufchatel cheese), how are you doing today?  With that an idea was formed.  The perfect marriage of chocolate chip cookies and cheesecake….without having to make actual cookie dough cheesecake which is a recipe best left for days when nobody is home.  I had the dough and the creamcheese topping ready to go before the oven was heated, so this is a VERY easy recipe to pull together.  I also cut back on the normal amount of sugar used in regular cookie dough figuring the cream cheese would add more than and enough sweetness.  The result was YUMMY!  I have a figure this is a recipe I’ll be making often and based on the reaction of my coworkers today I don’t think I’ll have any issues finding some volunteers to help me enjoy them.
Ingredients:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 stick unsalted margarine or butter, softened and cubed
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup applesauce (no sugar added)
1 cup chocolate chips

8 oz neufchatel cheese (or low fat cream cheese)
2 tbsp white sugar
1 egg (or egg substitute)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325 and pre-grease a 9×9 baking pan
2. In a small bowl mix together the flours, salt, and baking powder. Set Aside
3. In a large mixing bowl cream the butter with the two sugars.  Mix in the applesauce and then slowly add the flour mixture.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Pour and smooth evenly into the pre-greased pan.
4.  Cream the cheese, sugar, and egg together.  Pour on top of the cookie dough and gently spread out over the dough.
5.  Bake for 30minutes.  Turn oven off and let pan cool in the oven for at least 30minutes then chill in fridge for an hour before serving.  Enjoy!


These cookies are amazing and wonderful and since it’s the holiday season the calories don’t count!  When I cut them I wound up with 25 square bars, which was the perfect size for me.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that next week the stars will align and I’ll be able to make the spread cookies.  Although I wouldn’t be against another happy baking accident.