Saturday, December 24, 2011

Minty Evergreens

Happy Christmas (Eve)! I can’t believe the month of December has gone by so quickly. I would appreciate it if December was about three weeks longer, that way I could get all of my holiday baking done, but alas it is not and I will have to make the unbaked treats next year…or make them anytime I wish and pretend it is Christmas (shhh).So today’s post is full of random stuff I want to tell you, so here it goes.

1.       We got snow on Thursday. Well, we got more than snow; we got bombarded with powdery and fluffy cold stuff. It was a foot and a half deep. There’s still about a foot outside. Because of the snow, I decided to bake, because nothing says baking weather like being trapped inside your house. (I wasn’t trapped; I still had to go to work).

2.       I found this new thing in the grocery store yesterday. Well I didn’t just come across it, I’ve seen it many a time before, but I just never bought it. Yesterday I did buy it for a special occasion. Wanna know what it is? It’s Pam for bakers. Yup, bakers get their own special Pam, just like the grillers. This special Pam has flour in the mix, and I love it. It’s special because of the magical flour and the fact that it has a smell. Yup, you read correctly, it has a smell. It smells like freshly opened vanilla cake mix. It’s delicious and I went a little overboard when spraying it because I loved the smell so much. I even sniffed the pan when I was done. Is that bad?

3.       I got a new cake pan; it's a Bundt, my first ever. It's also very festive; it's in the shape of Christmas trees. I love it.

4.       I made a cake yesterday. A fabulous, fudgy, festive cake. I made it in my new Bundt pan. Did I mention it’s shaped like Christmas trees? It's very exciting!

So enough randomness, let’s talk fudgy cake, shall we? So When I opened the box containing my festive new pan, there was a recipe for Mint Mountains on the paper wrapped around the pan. The recipe came from Nordic Ware’s 2007 Christmas contest, and I figured why not try it? This way I could test out my new pan.

The cake batter was the most amazing cake batter of all time. It was so fluffy and the smell reminded me of vanilla cake mix. So if I didn’t get my cake mix fix from the Pam, then I certainly got it from this cake. You see, the cake has a vanilla layer and a chocolate layer. The vanilla layer goes into the peaks of the trees, creating a snowy appearance and the chocolate layer goes on the bottom, so I guess it’s supposed to resemble the mountains, but this is a tree Bundt pan, and so the chocolate will resemble the tree bark.

I made a few adaptations from the original recipe, like changing the white chocolate pudding mix to vanilla pudding mix. The recipe calls for the pudding mixes to be 3.9 oz boxes. This is fine for the vanilla batter, but I would use a smaller box for the chocolate fudge batter. The sour cream that was called for was replaced by plain yogurt, and I also omitted the chocolate chips. I don’t think this cake needs them at all, they would be lost in the fudgy interior and then you couldn’t enjoy them. Actually, this cake is so fudgy; I had trouble telling when it was done.  The 50 minute mark went by, as did the 60 minute mark. I ended up taking the cake out of the oven around the 63 minute mark because I didn’t want to outer side of the cake to over bake. Despite that little flaw, this cake is awesome, and I’m glad I got to test out my new Bundt pan and some Pam for bakers. Man, why am I so obsessed with the most random things? Oh well.

Merry Christmas! and Happy Holidays!

Minty Evergreens
Adapted from 207 Nordic Ware Christmas Contest

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 eggs + 1 egg white, seperated; room temperature
1 package (3.9 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
1 tsp peppermint extract
1 container (6 oz) plain yogurt
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ tsp salt
2 ½ tsp baking powder
1 cup milk, divided
1/3 cup natural cocoa powder
1 package (3.9 oz) instant chocolate fudge pudding mix


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or spray Bundt pan and coat in flour and shake out the excess; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set that aside as well.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until the mixture becomes nice and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the egg whites and beat for about two minutes or until mixture becomes fluffy. Beat in the vanilla pudding mix, peppermint extract, and yogurt. Slow the speed down to medium-slow and add in about half of the flour mixture. Mix for 30 seconds and then slowly pour ¾ cup of the milk. Mix for another 30 seconds and then add in the rest of the flour mixture. Make sure to scrape the bowl down after each addition. Increase the speed back to medium and beat until all of the flour has been fully incorporated. Spoon about two cups worth of batter into the prepared cake tin. If you are using the Holiday Tree pan, make sure the batter fills the very tips of the trees.
  3. Going back to the mixture in the bowl; beat in the egg yolks, cocoa powder, chocolate fudge pudding mix, and remaining ¼ cup of milk. Beat on medium until everything in incorporated. The batter will be very thick. Spoon the chocolate batter over the top of the vanilla batter. Gently tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles.
  4. Place the pan on a baking tray. Place the tray in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer is inserted in the cake and comes out relatively clean. Once baked, take cake out of the oven and let it cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes. Shake the pan from side to side to loosen and invert the cake onto a cooling rack.
  5. When the cake is completely cooled, transfer onto a serving platter and finish it off with a dusting of powdered sugar.    

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

I always forget how much I love gingerbread until the holidays roll around. The funny thing is, like pumpkin puree, I don’t like the smell of molasses. However, it makes one very scrumptious treat!

Now, I’m sure a lot of you are seeing dozens of cookies floating around all the food blogs out there, and I’m not going to be the exception. I love holiday baking, and I’m starting with these awesome cookies.

I came across these chocolate gingerbread cookies while flipping through my holiday cookie edition of Better Homes and Gardens. I couldn’t remember from last year If I liked gingerbread cookies all that much, so I ended up buying (and eating) a package of Pepperidge Farms gingerbread cookies. Once I was reminded how much I lived the flavor of gingerbread, I knew I was going to be making these.

These cookies were real simple to make and even easier to eat. I found myself saying that I would take only two this time, and every time I put my hand in that Santa cookie jar, I pulled out three without fail. I highly suggest making these for a Christmas Cookie Exchange, a gift to family and friends, or even just for the heck of it.

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
Adapted from BHG 100 Best Cookies 2011

1 stick butter
¾ cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 ½ cups semi sweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper and set it aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until nice a fluffy looking. Add the baking soda, ginger, allspice, and salt. Beat until combined. Beat in the molasses and egg until combined. Don’t worry about the mixture looking chucky and quite frankly gross-looking, it’s going to turn out ok. Slowly add in the flour. Once all the flour has been mixed in, beat on medium-high for about 30 seconds. Turn the speed back down to medium-slow and beat in the chocolate chips.
  3. Using a small cookie scoop, portion out the dough onto the lined cookie tray. Careful not to over crowd them. Bake for about 6-8 minutes, you want the cookies to be soft when they come out of the oven. Place the cookie tray on a cooling rack and cool for about a minute of the tray. Take the cookies off the tray and place them on the cooling rack for the duration of the cooling process.

Monday, December 19, 2011


When school is in, I hardly ever have time to bake and by the time I’m done baking something, the sun has gone down and I can’t take any pictures. Now, I know that I could take pictures the next day, but I work every other day, which means no picture taking. However, now that school is out for Winter Break, I can bake to my heart’s content, and take pictures of the things I make, which is part of the fun I think.

And because I am free from school, and it is the holiday season, I’ve been making cookies all week long! They’re not all for me, but for my dad’s side of the family. Last year I filled holiday boxes with cookies and sent them to my aunt and her family, and my grandma, and this year I thought I’d do the same. Let’s start off with these spicy Ginglerdoodle Cookies I found on Lauren’s Latest.

Gingerbread is like one of the essential holiday cookies. It’s not Christmas until you bite into a soft gingerbread man. Even though I love my gingerbread men, I hate rolling out dough. Well, I guess I don’t hate it, I just hate the decorating part that comes after it. I’m generally a patient person, but for some reason, I just can’t deal with making the royal icing and then sitting down for hours just decorating a cookie. That and I don’t have the skill to decorate cookies, oh well.

So these are kind of like Snickerdoodle cookies… ok maybe not so much like them, but they are tossed in sugar before they are baked and they crinkle as they spread. That crackled top really makes for a pretty cookie.  And the spices combined with the molasses takes this cookie over the top with warm holiday feelings.

from Lauren’s Latest
makes about 3.5 dozen

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature
¼ cup molasses

¼ cup sugar for rolling

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and both sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and molasses. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue to beat for another 2 minutes or until the ingredients are fully mixed.  Reduce the speed to low and slowly add in the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Once all the flour is incorporated, turn the speed to medium and beat for 20-30 seconds.
  3. With your hands, roll the dough into 1 inch balls. Place the remaining sugar in a bowl. Roll the cookie dough balls into the sugar a couple at a time. Place on the prepared baking sheet about 1 ½ inches apart. Bake for about 6-8 minutes. Take the cookies out of the oven and let them cool for about 2 or 3 minutes on the ray before moving them to a cooling rack for further cooling.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Blast Chex

Ok so my computer is finally fixed! Well, it wasn't fixed because it ended up having to go to Computer Heaven, sad. But we did end up replacing that computer. So, because I miss updating my little blog, I chose the quickest recipe to updae first.

Yes, this may be a simple and quick snack, but it sure is delicious. Say it with me: "Peanut Butter and Chocolate Blast Chex". During the holiday season, Chex comes out with its Hot Coacoa mix and I am truely obsessed with the stuff. I eat the chocolate wafter cereal things first, then the mini marshmallows, then the swirly graham cracks and finish off with the sugary-coated cereal bits. You may be wondering about the crunchy pretzles, well I throw those out. But If I don't eat my Hot Coacoa Chex in tha order, something feels off. I'm a very strange when it comes to eating the order of my food. Please tell me I'm not the only one.

Anyways, back to this PB and Chocolate Chex. It is lucious and peanut buttery and so chocolately. I definitely had my favorites. I ate the peanuts first, the M&Ms second and alternated between the bittersweet chocolate-coated cereal and the peanut butter-coated cereal bits. Yes, this Chex had two sweet types of coating. I'm pretty sure I went through the entire recipe in just a couple days.

Added Note: As I was typing the ingredients portion of this post, my dad told me to come downstairs into the kitchen. Upon arrival he handed me "The Giant Envelope". Maybe some of you know (or remember) this time of the year is aslso known as College Appication Season to High School Seniors. The "Giant Envelope" contained my acceptance letter to College of Charleson! So far I have been accepted into three schools. Now I'm patiently waiting to hear from two other schools.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Blast Chex     
adapted from Chex

6 cups Rice Chex cereal, divided
165 g bittersweet chocolate
165 g peanut butter chips
3/4 cup M&Ms (I chose to be festive and used red and green)
3/4 cup roasted peanuts

  1. Line two bakings sheets with parchment paper or foil. Place 3 cups of cereal into a large bowl. In a double boiler, melt the bittersweet chocolate until it's smooth (microwaving could also work). Pour the melted chocolate over the cereal and toss to evenly coat. Dump the coated cereal onto one of the lined baking sheets; spread so its an even layer. Place in the refirdgerator for about 10-15 minutes or until the chocolate has firmed up.
  2. Repeat the above steps for the peanut butter chips.
  3. Break up the chocolate coated cereal and the peanut butter coated cereal. Place the chocolate coated cereal, peanut butter coated cereal, M&MS, and roasted peanuts into a resealable plastic bag and mix until all the ingredients are somewhat evenly destributed (the M&Ms and peanuts will sink to the bottom eventually). 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Frozen Computers and Cute Penguin Cookies

As you may have noticed, it has been a while since I last updated the blog. The reason being is that my computer decided to freeze (probably due to the 2 degree weather we’ve been having) and it just plumb quit on me. Now, my family has two computers, but only one has a slot to put a camera disk in it, weird, I know. So because I can’t upload any pictures, I’m not going to update the blog because I feel that pictures are just as important as the recipe itself.

So to keep you entertained, here is a picture of the cutest cookie ever!

picture from Glorious Treats

I was browsing through Foodgawker and found them and they are just too cute! I totally wish I had artistic skills so I could make them myself, but alas, I do not posses any. Instead, I will just stare at the cookies in all of their cuteness.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dark and Dense Brownies

Over the weekend I had the biggest craving for something dense and chocolatey. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and then I had an epiphany - brownies! Brownies can cure any fudgey chocolate craving.

Do you know how hard it is to find a good brownie recipe? I will tell you, it is hard! Well, it was for me anyway. I looked and looked for hours (really, I looked at brownie recipes and pictures for about 2 non-stop hours) until I came across two recipes. One came from one of my favorite blogs Joy the Baker, and the other came from a Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. Each one sounded so good, and then I came across another recipe! (I have recipe issues if you haven’t noticed) and that one was almost identical to the one on Joy’s blog, so I followed my instinct and went with Joy’s Dark Chocolate Brownies.

These were a snap to make (I didn’t even get out my mixer) and the house smelled like brownies all day! Well, it did until my sister accidentally spilled some nail polish remover, whoops. I went out of the house several times and each time I walked through the front door I was greeted with the lovely, homey smell of brownies.

To me, a brownie should be dense and fudgey and not at all cakey. If you want cakey, eat a slice of cake, don’t go looking for a brownie. Also, I like the crackly crust on the top of brownies, so I’m not a fan of frosting on a brownie, cake: yes, cookies: sometimes, brownies: no. One last rule about my brownie taste profile: no nuts. I don’t like nuts in my brownies.

This brownie recipe fits all the criteria for my perfect brownie. It was dense, but not “can’t get your fork through” dense; it was rich and chocolatey, but not rich that I couldn’t take more than one bite; and the top had a fine crackly crust on top. To be honest, I don’t normally eat brownies, but because of these, I think I will be eating them more often.  

Dark and Dense Brownies
adapted from Joy the Baker

4 oz bittersweet or dark chocolate
6 tbsp unsalted butter
½ cup + 2 tbsp unbleached all purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 x 9 inch square baking pan with foil. Grease the foil and set aside.
  2. Create a double boiler by stacking a glass bowl on top of a saucepan filled with simmering water. Make sure the glass bowl does not touch the water, or the chocolate will burn. Stir the chocolate and butter in the double boiler until both ingredients have completely melted. Once the ingredients have melted, move the double boiler away from the heat. Carefully remove the glass bowl (the steam can burn you) and set aside to cool for a few minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract together until pale and thick, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Once the chocolate mixture has cooled, add a little bit to the egg mixture and stir quickly to temper the eggs. Once the egg mixture has been tempered, pour the rest of the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Stir until all the ingredients are incorporated. Add the flour all at once and stir until combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 15-17 minutes (mine were perfect at the 15 minute mark). Take the pan out of the oven and set it on a cooling wrack. Don’t remove the brownies from the pan until completely cooled, about 45 minutes-1 hour. Once the brownies have completely cooled, lift the foil and set on a flat surface. With a sharp knife, cut into squares. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...