Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don’t know about where you live, but it is freaking HOT over here. For the past couple of days it’s been in the high 90s and for the next week it’s supposed to reach 100+ degrees. It’s been awful. So what does my smart brain decide to do? That’s right, I turn the oven on.

I was in the serious baking mood and realized I haven’t put up a cookie recipe in a while. The last one being these cookie dough balls, something that I should be making instead of turning on the oven. (Sticking your head inside the freezer feels marvelous after just being outside for just moments) And as good as they are, thoughs dough bites just aren't gooey cookies.

You all know Foodgawker, right? If you don’t, then don’t go over there unless you want to spend hours upon hours of drooling over and scrolling through delicious looking food. I have accumulated a lot of favorites on that site as a way of keeping track of all the marvelous treats I want to someday make. As I was looking through my favorites, I came across these chocolate chip orange cookies from CookingClassy.

I was intrigued by the use of orange in a chocolate chip cookie and thought that if the combination of chocolate and orange (Chocolate Orange- found during Christmas time) is such a success, why can’t it work in a cookie? Because come on, get real, everything tastes better in a cookie!

These are really delicious. The original recipe calls for orange extract, but I didn’t have it on hand and didn’t feel like buying a bottle for just one use, so I used the juice of the orange that I zested. The end result gave me a beautifully puffy and soft cookie with little flecks of orange. The orange flavor was there in the background, not being overly dominant. I found that the longer you regrigerate or freeze the dough, the more prominant the orange flavor becomes, which is something to keep in mind if you really like the chocolate-orange combo.

These were a delight to make, bake, and eat. So if you’re looking for something a little more special than your average chocolate chip, try these; you won’t regret it.

Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Cooking Classy
Makes about 3 dozen

1 ½ cups + 2 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cornstarch
½ tsp. baking power
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 ½ tsp. fresh orange juice
½ tbsp. orange zest
90g semi-sweet chocolate chips *

*this is the perfect amount for me, however some people like loads of chocolate chips in their cookies, so add accordingly to your taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set Bowl aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together on medium/medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the egg and beat until fully incorporated.  Beat in the vanilla extract, orange juice, and orange zest.

Turn the speed down to low and slowly add in the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Mix in the chocolate chips.

Using a cookie scoop (I now have a slightly larger one now- a 1 tbsp. scoop) portion out the dough onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1-2 inches between each portion. Bake on the middle rack for about 7-9 minutes. Leave on the cookie sheet to cool for a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Peanut Butter Drizzled Granola Bars

You know what I’ll never be able to get enough of? Granola bars. I probably have at least one a day. And if I could, I would probably want to eat them all the time, it’s sad… and probably a little unhealthy, I know, but I can’t help it.

I love the chewy ones because I can slowly pick off the chocolate chips and devour those first. Then I’m able to taste the little rice bubbles coated in some kind of sticky caramel thing that tastes like candy. And don’t get me started on the chewy bars with a bottom that’s been laced with chocolate. Mmmhmmm. That’s good stuff right there.
And the crunchy kind, specifically Nature Valley’s crunchy granola bars. The Oats & Honey is just sweet enough while the Cinnamon one tastes like dessert, only in crunchy snack form, and Peanut Butter. Oh peanut butter has my heart too, especially with that little peanut drizzle on top. It’s the only one (that I know of) with a sweet little drizzle on top of it. I love little drizzles.

Guess what? These granola bars have a little drizzle on them too. It’s peanut butter. It’s a peanut butter drizzle on a granola bar that can be chewy or crunchy.

I tried making chewy granola bars the other day, but they kinda flopped as a bar. Instead I crumbled it up and ate it as granola. Between my dad and I that stuff lasted only a few hours, it was sort of sad. So yesterday I decided to not really follow a recipe, but make my own granola bars instead.

The recipe I used had called for melted butter- something that I don’t think did much to help the oats and rice cereal stick together too well. So I asked myself what is something that would help make the granola bars stick? Peanut butter makes everything stick together! So I used peanut butter to make these little tasty treats for you guys. If you want your bars crunchy, keep them in the fridge to have as a cool snack (it’s supposed to be 100 degrees for the next week here); if you want your bars chewy, keep them in the pantry at room temperature.

Peanut Butter Drizzled Granola Bars
Recipe by me
Makes 9x9 or 8x8 inch square

2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup Rice Krispies cereal
Pinch of salt
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup honey
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
In a medium bowl mixt together the oats, cereal, and salt. Set aside.
In a medium sauce pan heat the peanut butter on medium heat until melted. Stir in the honey until completely incorporated. Stir the sugar until melted into the peanut butter-honey mixture. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Add the hot peanut butter mixture to the oats mixture and stir. Once you’ve stirred and can’t stir anymore, use your hands to get the rest of the job done. Press the oat mixture into a lightly greased 9x9 or 8x8 inch pan. Pack the granola in there tightly. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes.
Remove from the fridge and drizzle the peanut butter glaze (stir together 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar + 1 tbsp. creamy peanut butter, melted + 2-3 tsp. milk) over the uncut granola block. Place back into the fridge for about an hour or until the glaze firms up. Cut into bars (I got 14 and 2 halves granola bars). Wrap in plastic wrap or foil. Keep in the fridge or at room temperature.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cake Slice Bakers - June 2012: Brooklyn Blackout Cake

This is a late post for Father’s Day, but also a late post for a birthday. My dad was born close enough on Father’s Day that every so often his birthday falls on Father’s Day – that was the case this year.

I’ve really gotten into baking birthday cakes for my family because, seriously, they are way tastier than those store-bought sugar bombs of tastelessness (tell us how you really feel, right?). So I asked my dad what kind of cake he wanted and the first thing he said was “Chocolate!” in his little excited voice that he does. It so happens that for the month of June, the Cake Slice Bakers voted on the Brooklyn Blackout Cake, this cake is a serious chocolate lover’s dream. It’s a chocolate cake filled with chocolate pudding covered in chocolate frosting and topped with chocolate cake crumbs. Sounds divine, right? Definitely!

The recipe calls for hot brewed coffee, something I was really apprehensive about since I do not like coffee one bit. I only went along with the coffee thing (only I used instant) because I’ve heard people say that it enhances anything chocolate. Since this was the first time making the cake I just prayed that it would work. And you know what? It did! The cake turned out marvelously. It was so soft and light, yet very chocolatey. So I guess all those people who said coffee enhances chocolate are right because this was the best chocolate cake I’ve had. Even my mom, who is not so keen on chocolate, said it was beautiful.

Now, you may be wondering about that pudding filling, well I didn’t make it. The recipe called for egg yolks and even though you cook the egg yolks while making the pudding, I just wasn’t comfortable with that. Instead, I just filled it with the chocolate frosting. I’ve said many times that I don’t like frosting because they usually are cloyingly sweet, but I find myself liking frosting and glazes bit by bit. As long as I don’t put too much confectioner’s sugar in the batch, and there’s another flavor component like chocolate or peanut butter, frosting is tolerable in small amounts. So if you’re wondering why it looks like I skimped on the frosting, it’s because I did. I halved the recipe in the book and used it to fill and frost, but if you like frosting by all means, double (maybe even triple?) the recipe found below.

To all those fathers out there, I hope you had a wonderful weekend filled with everything that makes you happy. For my dad, that meant lounging around in his new pajamas, drinking coffee out of his new Clemson Dad mug, while watching five hours of the US Open. Happy (belated) Birthday and Father’s Day, Daddy! I love you!
(My dad on his 36th Birthday)

Brooklyn Blackout Cake
Adapted from The Cake Book
Makes one two-layer cake

Cake Ingredients
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
½ cup buttermilk
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. instant coffee + ½ cup hot water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch round cake pan with cooking spray (it’s best if you use the kind with flour). Also, grease one cup from a muffin tin (this is so you can cake crumbs to top the cake off with). Set aside.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl on an electric mixer. Mix on low speed with the paddle attachment while slowly pouring in the sugar. Mix until fully combined.

In a medium bowl (preferably one with a spout), whisk together the egg, egg yolk, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla extract. While mixing at low speed, pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, making sure to get the bits at the bottom as well. Beat at medium speed for about 1 minute or until well blended. The batter will look very fudgy. Pour in the hot coffee, mixing until it’s fully incorporated. For me the batter turned very liquidy, so don’t panic if yours does. Make sure to scrape all sides and bottom of the bowl.

Remember that one muffin cup? Fill that about 2/3 full. Pour the rest of the cake batter into the prepared cake pan. Place the muffin tin and the cake pan on the middle rack of the oven. The cupcake will take about 12 minutes to cook while the actual cake will take about 20-25 minutes. To be sure, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake, if it comes out clean, the cake is ready.

Let the cake cool in its pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Once it’s cool enough, remove from the pan and let it sit on the rack to cool completely.

Frosting Ingredients
2 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Put the chocolate into a heat-proof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (a.k.a. a double boiler). Heat and stir frequently until the chocolate has completely melted. Take the bowl off the heat and set aside for the chocolate to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the confectioner’s sugar and beat at a low speed. Slowly work up to a higher speed and beat for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more and beat in the melted chocolate and vanilla extract. Beat until well blended and creamy.

To Assemble the Cake
Using a long serrated knife, cut the 9 inch round cake in half horizontally. Place one cake layer, cut side up, onto a serving plate. Using a small offset spatula spread about 1/3 of the frosting over the layer. Place the second cake layer, cut side down, on top of the filling. Spread the rest of the frosting on top and around the sides of the cake. Take the reserved cupcake and crumble it up until you get little cake pieces. Sprinkle on top of the frosted cake. Lightly press the crumbs to adhere to the cake.

Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Double Chocolate Pudding

I have terrible timing. Well, not really; only when it comes to cooking/baking things. When my mom is out of town for long stretches of time I make dinner for my dad, sister, and myself. It’s pretty fun, especially trying to find stuff that I think will work. So far I’ve only had a few dishes not turn out so great, but that’s all part of the experience, right? So, once I’ve picked a dish that I’ll make I think about it all day, and then dinner starts creeping up and I think I’ve allowed myself time to make dinner and have it ready on the table by 6-6:15, but no…that hardly ever happens. It’s usually more like 6:30-6:45, but close enough.

Now is where I digress. You heard last week about my wisdom teeth removal. Everything went fine and dandy, and the pain wasn’t too bad either. I actually woke up while they were stitching me up…which was kind of weird because I was looking at the doctor and nurse and they didn’t seem a bit surprised; they just kept stitching me up. They must have given me some more antistatic because the next thing I know I’m waking up with my parents looking at me. The only terrible part was that I wasn’t able to chew anything. I had to mush everything with my tongue and the roof of my mouth, even oatmeal (which I ate a lot).

Right so now back to my poor timing (I hope I’m not giving you whiplash here). Before I got the surgery done, I tried making pudding from scratch for the first time, you know, so I could eat something sweet and not look like a pudding with peanut butter on his nose while eating. Well, it didn’t set up properly. Actually it didn’t even turn out to be pudding, it was more like chocolate soup, which was nice and all, just not what I wanted. So here I am a week later, 99.99% better, able to eat normal solid food (kind of), and what do I do? I decide to try that pudding one more time.

This time the pudding-making process went much more smoothly. I felt more confident about when the milk was steaming and when the mixture was at a good thickness. The only downside: I forgot the vanilla extract. I just knew I was forgetting something as I was mixing the ingredients together, but I couldn’t remember what. I actually didn’t find out until I started writing this post. Oh well.

This pudding comes out to be really thick and chocolately. It kind of reminds me of those pudding cups (not the Jell-O brand) that I used to have in my school lunches, but a little tastier. This batch tasted a little off, but I think that’s because I forgot the vanilla. The chocolate soup that I made before the surgery was nice though. So word of warning: don’t forget the vanilla!

Double Chocolate Pudding
Adapted from Lauren’s Latest
Makes about 5 servings

¼ cup sugar
3 tbsp. corn starch
¼ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup fat free half & half
1 cup milk
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
½ tsp. vanilla extract

Sift the sugar, corn starch, cocoa powder, and salt into a cold sauce pan. Whisk ingredients to combine. Slowly pour the half & half and milk into the sauce pan while whisking. This prevents most major clumps (I still ended up with just a few clumps but that’s ok). The mixture will be very foamy, just so you know.

Place the sauce pan over medium/medium-high heat and whisk the chocolate mixture until it begins to steam. Add in the chopped chocolate and stir until it all melts. Keep stirring until the mixture begins to bubble and thicken (this will take about 5-10 minutes depending on how hot you made the stove). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.

Evenly distribute the hot pudding into serving dishes. Place plastic wrap over the dish so it touches the pudding. Refrigerate pudding until it has completely chilled. Serve with whipped cream and chocolate shavings if desired.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Fudgy Brownie Bites

This week has just been awful. Like serious worst kind of week you can have awful. I won’t go into many specifics but I will give you this: Monday: wisdom teeth removal, Tuesday: prescription med fail, Monday-present: inability to look normal while eating, Thursday: I’m the reason my blueberry is in the hospital and a tree lost a good chunk of it’s bark.
Yeah…this has definitely been a really tough and miserable week. But it’s getting better, just really, really slowly.  

Anyways enough with bad things (I think I tend to talk a lot about negative stuff on here. Please forgive me, I’m really an upbeat person, honest!) let’s talk about brownies shall we?

These brownies intrigued me when I saw them on The Baker Chick run by Audra. They aren’t normal brownies for two reasons: 1. They are made in little mini muffin tins, so they are in cute bite-sized portions and 2. The tops are sprinkled with sea salt.

I’ve always heard of people saying they love the combination of salty and sweet, especially when it comes to caramel. Apparently salted caramel is the way to go. I myself have never had sweet treats topped with salt, and now I know why. I do not like the flavor at all. It’s too, for lack of a better word, salty. While I ate the brownie bites I felt that I was also eating sea water. Besides the salty taste, and the fact that I couldn’t really chew, the brownie bites were actually very good, and very fudgy (just how I like my brownies).

I ended up making these a second time, this time without the sea salt, and they were much better I thought. To each their own, I guess. What’s your stance on salty/sweet foods? Would you rather have a little coating of salt on top of your treats or do you leave well enough alone?

Fudgy Brownie Bites

Slightly adapted from The Baker Chick
Makes 12 brownie bites

½ stick unsalted butter, cubed
½ cup sugar
¼ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder, sifted
1 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/8 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg, cold
3 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
Sea salt (optional)

Preheat an oven to 325 F. Grease a mini muffin tin; set aside.

Place butter in a bowl over simmering water (a make-shift double-boiler). When the butter starts to melt, add the sugar, cocoa powder, and chopped chocolate. The mixture will clump together but beat and stir until it starts to loosen and become liquidy. The batter should be dark and glossy, but slightly granular. Remove the bowl from the simmering water and set aside to cool slightly. Stir in the vanilla extract. Beat in the egg until completely incorporated. The batter should now look a little smoother.

Fold in the flour and salt. Keep folding until the batter has just come together, careful not to over mix. The end result should be very thick, dark, fudgy batter. Use a small cookie scoop to evenly distribute the batter into the mini muffin cups. If you are going to use sea salt, sprinkle it over the tops now.

Place muffin tray on the lower third rack and bake for 15-17 minutes or until you insert a toothpick in the middle of a brownie bite and it comes out with just a few crumbs. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool for 5-10 minutes. Place the muffin tray in the freezer for about 5-7 minutes. This will help in the release of the brownie bites, trust me.

Serve and enjoy!   

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cookie Dough Balls

Cookie dough, oh cookie dough, oh how I love thee. The only problem is I was always told that I should never eat raw cookie dough because of the risk of salmonella. Did that stop me? Uh…yeah, no.

Even when I was little and baking those cubes of deliciousness (a.k.a. Toll House chocolate chip cookies) I would sneak a few dough chunks and eat those as I waited for the cookies in the oven to finish baking. Now, I’ve been eating dough that for years and I’m still alive, and so is the rest of the population who has been lucky enough to sneak a bite (or two, or three). So I think that whole salmonella thing is a bunch of whooey! I haven’t heard of anyone getting seriously sick (besides a tummy ache) from eating a little piece of heaven.

Nonetheless, it’s better to be safe than sorry, right? Which is part of the reason why I flipped when I saw these cookie dough ball things on Joy the Baker’s blog.


This is cookie dough that you can eat safely because the recipe lacks the one ingredient everyone is afraid of: egg! Instead of binding the dough with eggs, Joy gives three options: Greek yogurt, applesauce, and peanut butter. Well, I wasn’t going to open an entire thing of yogurt for two tablespoons, and I detest applesauce, so peanut butter wins! (but doesn’t it always?)

These cookie dough balls were great! You have to keep them in the freezer, or they’ll get soft and kind of crumbly on you, but that’s ok because with the summer heat an all, a cool treat that isn’t ice cream or a popsicle is kind of mind blowing.

The frozen dough tastes faintly of peanut butter (that’s to be expected), and when you bite into it and you hit a frozen chocolate chip, it’s the best! It makes the coolest snapping sound! (I’m not sorry if you think the simple things in life are amusing and exciting)

So go ahead and make these friendly and safe cookie dough bites. Then, when they are ready, you can eat the entire batch and not have to worry a single bit!

Cookie Dough Balls

Adapted slightly from Joy the Baker
Makes about 2 dozen small bites

½ stick unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup brown sugar
2 ½ tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. peanut butter
½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup + 1 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1/3 cup (60 grams) chocolate chips

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the butter and sugars on medium-high speed together until fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add in the peanut butter followed by the vanilla extract and beat well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Turn the mixer’s speed down to low and slowly add in the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on medium-high for about 30 seconds. Pour in the chocolate chips.

Line a cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper so the frozen dough doesn’t stick to the pan. Use a cookie scoop to scoop out portions of dough (the dough may be a little crumbly, so pack it in there if necessary). Drop the dough onto the lined cookie sheet and place in the freezer for a few hours or until firm. I’m pretty sure eating the dough straight out of the bowl would be just as (or even more so) satisfying.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Cinnamon Sugar Biscotti

I love cinnamon sugar. Well, then again who doesn’t? It’s probably one of the best scents in the word, plus one of the tastiest!

So, diverging a little here, but I’ll be getting my wisdom teeth out in just a few days (I got my top ones out when I was ten and it hurt like a mother trucker!). It’s going to suck because my sister, who tolerates pain very well, was in pain. I on the other hand do not tolerate pain as well as she and I’m terrified. The only exciting thing is that I’ll be able to drink milkshakes, eat ice cream, and pudding as legit meals, although, I will probably have some soup throughout the week as well.

And because for the next week I’ll be eating only soft foods at a snail’s pace, I decided to get the crunch craving out of my system. That’s where biscotti come in.

I seem to have an affinity for biscotti. I don’t know what it is, but biscotti are always just so delicious and crunchy and perfect for dipping! And you can manipulate them to have any flavor and mix-ins you could ever imagine! Of course you can kind of do that with any cookie, but I feel that biscotti have more power to support such things.

When I saw these cinnamon sugar beauties on Tracey’s blog I knew I wanted to make them. I put them on my “To Bake” list and went on the merry way. I tend to have a very small attention span when it comes to treats because I totally forgot about these, until I was scanning my very long list and re-discovered them! I knew it had been a while since I had made any kind of cookie and it has been too long since I have worked with cinnamon sugar.

These biscotti turned out a little crunchier than I’m used to, but that’s ok because it soaked up my glass of milk very nicely. It stayed firm, but soft enough to bite into without having to comp down on it or it breaking away and falling into the milky depths of my cup. And the taste? So, so cinnamony! The best part was licking the excess cinnamon sugar off my fingers when I was done.

Cinnamon Sugar Biscotti

Slightly adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures
Makes 2 dozen

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside. In a small bowl combine the cinnamon and sugar. Set aside

In a medium sized bowl mix the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar on medium-fast speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the egg until well incorporated. Add the vanilla. Scrape the sides of the bowl one more time. Turn the speed down to low and slowly add in the flour. Once all the flour has been incorporated turn the speed up to medium and beat for 30 seconds. The mixture will be crumbly.

Divide the crumbly mixture equally (I used a scale to do this). Take one crumbly pile and pack it tightly. Knead the dough for a little bit until it can be shaped easily. Form the dough into a log (about 9 inches long, 1 ½ inches wide). Repeat with the second half of the dough.

Place logs on prepared baking sheet and sprinkle some of the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the tops. Bake logs for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven, but don’t turn the oven off. Let the logs cool for 5-10 minutes. Once the logs have cooled enough cut diagonal slices. Turn the slice onto their sides and bake for 5 minutes. Turn the cookies over and bake for another 5.

Remove from the oven and allow biscotti to cool on the pan for 5-10 minutes. Since I don’t drink tea or coffee I dunked these babies in some milk, but by all means, if you are a coffee/tea drinker, dunk them in that.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...