Monthly Archives: June 2012

Compost Cookies

These aren’t the prettiest of cookies, but they sure are interesting to eat!  When I get a new cookbook I read it like a novel.  The Momofuku Milkbar Cookbook by Christina Tosi was no exception.  In her introduction she talks about how important it is to just bake.  If you want to become a better baker you need to bake more and she was baking everyday.  That was really inspirational to me because it sort of justifies the amount of time I spend baking.  I don’t bake everyday, but I’m baking 4-5 times a week and my comfort and speed in the kitchen has greatly increased.

I made these cookies for Hadiya because she won the giveaway 2 months ago, I never said I would be speedy!  This is such an interesting cookie.  Every bite has something different.  I love that you can see the potato chips and butterscotch chips in the cookie.  I also love all the little specks of chocolate from using the mini chocolate chips.  This cookie bakes up large and crispy, a nice change from the usual big and chewy cookies.  These are definitely an interesting cookie!

Print the recipe.

Compost Cookies
Adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook, page 114
Yield – 22 large cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
200 g (1 cup) sugar
150 g (2/3 cup) brown sugar
18 g corn syrup
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
225 g (1 1/3 cup) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
150 grams (3/4 cup) mini chocolate chips
100 grams (1/2 cup) butterscotch chips
40 grams (1/3 cup) old fashioned oats
5 grams (2 1/2 teaspoons) coffee grounds, dry, not brewed
50 grams mini marshmallows
50 grams potato chips
85 grams chocolate covered pretzels

  1. Cream together the butter and sugars for 4 minutes.  Add the corn syrup, egg, and vanilla and beat at high speed for 8 minutes.  Scrape the bowl as needed.
  2. Whisk together the flour, powder, soda, and salt.
  3. Add the flour mix on low speed and beat until just combined.
  4. Still on low speed beat in the in the chocolate chips, the butterscotch chips, oats, coffee, and marshmallows.  Mix until just combined.
  5. Beat for a quick second to incorporate the chips and pretzels.
  6. Use a standard size ice cream scoop to place 6 rounds of dough on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  7. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  8. Bake for 18 minutes and then let cool.
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Vanilla Cupcakes

This is the last post in the series of treats I made for my three marvelous student monitors.  Since I missed all of their fall birthdays, I showed my appreciation for all their hard work by baking each girl a treat for her half birthday.  I’ve made bacon cupcakes, cake pops, and now these simple vanilla cupcakes jazzed up by fun frosting!

I decided to post the cupcakes today because today is the last day of school!!!!  Finally, it’s summer time! This break could not come soon enough.  Spending my day in a 90 degree classroom with no AC and 30 smelly, hormonal students is exhausting!

These cupcakes feature the delicious and simple vanilla cupcake recipe I have been using a lot and the Butter Lane frosting recipe I have used before.  This is a delicious, moist, and flavorful cupcake and frosting.

To make the frosting yellow and blue, I divided the frosting into two different bowls and dyed half Electric Yellow and half Electric Blue.  I scooped the frosting into the piping bag on different sides and slightly mushed together.  The technique came out well with each cupcake looking a little different.  Some are more blue, some more yellow, some have both, and some have stripes of green.  This is a nice way to make simple cupcakes look cool!

Print the recipe!

Vanilla Cupcakes
adapted Cupcake Project
Yield -17 standard cupcakes (24) (34)

1 cup sugar (1 1/2 cups) (2 cups)
1 3/4 cup cake flour (2 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons)  (3 ½ cups)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (2 1/4 teaspoons) (3 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoons baking soda (3/4 teaspoon) (1 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoons salt (3/4 teaspoon) (1 teaspoon)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (6 tablespoons) (8 tablespoons)
2 eggs (3 eggs) (4 eggs)
1/3 cup non-fat Greek yogurt or sour cream (1/2 cup) (2/3 cup)
1/4 cup vegetable oil (6 tablespoons) (1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon vanilla (1 1/2 tablespoons) (2 tablespoons)
2/3 cup whole milk (1 cup) (1 1/3 cups)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. In the bowl of a mixer add the sugar, flour, powder, soda, and salt, mix slowly with the paddle attachment.  Add the butter and beat for several minutes until the mixture becomes nice and crumbly.
  3. While the mixer is mixing, whisk together the sour cream, oil, and vanilla.  Pour this in the mixer and combine.
  4. Slowly add the milk in and turn on high for a few seconds.
  5. Use a standard ice cream scoop and place the batter into lined cupcake pans.
  6. Bake 14-17 minutes until a toothpick in a center cupcake comes out clean.  Cool on cooling rack.

Vanilla Frosting
Adapted from Butter Lane Cupcakes

1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature
7 cups powdered sugar (a 2 pound bag minus 1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons vanilla

Beat the butter and cream cheese until light and creamy.  Slowly add in the powdered sugar.  Stop every once and awhile to scrape down the bowl and then beat on high speed for a few seconds.  Add in the vanilla and beat again until well combined.

 

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Snickerdoodle Ice Cream Sandwiches

Bonus recipe!  Not really a recipe, but a delicious combination!

Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodle Ice Cream Sandwiches with Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Here are the steps:

  1. Make the vanilla bean snickerdoodles, let cool completely.
  2. Buy salted caramel ice cream and let get a little soft.
  3. Use a standard size ice cream scoop to place one scoop on five cookies.  Cover with a second cookie and lightly smash together.
  4. Wrap in wax paper and place in a plastic bag.  Freeze.
  5. Enjoy deliciousness!

After eating the ice cream one day and the cookies on another, inspiration struck!  This was a great usage of leftover cookies.

These are amazing!  The soft texture and the cinnamon flavor of the cookie pair perfectly with the cold, creamy, sweet ice cream.  The salted caramel swirl is divine!  One pint of ice cream makes five scoops, enough for five lovely ice cream sandwiches.  Ruth and I each had one after our taco salads and the other three were shared on a Sunday evening on the porch.  Perfect summer eating!

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Lemon Blueberry Scones

Sometimes you just need to have a weekend marathon of Downton Abbey, and any marathon that involves a British period piece require scones.  It’s like a law or something.  After our taco dinner salads, we needed something sweet the next day to continue our marathon.

These scones are more biscuit like than muffin like, which I love!  They are not too sweet and and definitely delicious with the little bursts of blueberry throughout.  All the cream makes for a very tender scone!  Scones are easy to throw together and require minimum equipment.

If you read my last post about Downtown Abbey it should be clear how obsessive I am.  Season three is set to begin showing in September, I cannot wait!!!

Print the recipe.

Lemon Blueberry Scones
Recipe from Baking Illustrated, page 58
Yield – 8 scones

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
5 tablespoons cold butter cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon lemon zest (1 lemon)
1/2 cup blueberries
1 cup heavy cream

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together the flour, powder, sugar, and salt.
  3. Use a pastry blender to combine the butter and lemon zest into the flour.  Cut the dough until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Gently toss in the blueberries.
  5. Add the cream and mix with a spatula until just combined.
  6. Pour the whole mixture on the counter and knead lightly to bring together.  Don’t overwork the dough, it’s going to be crumbly, just let it be.
  7. Push the dough into a circular shape and cut into 8 pieces.  Place each piece on the parchment paper.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.  Let cool on a wire rack.

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Chocolate Beet Cupcakes

Ages ago I bookmarked a chocolate beet cake from Joy the Baker.  I had never worked with beets before and they were on my New Food list.  I had forgotten about the recipe until I was strolling around Brooklyn one sunny Sunday morning and walked pasted a farmers market with these beautiful beets.  I was completely inspired!

There was no real reason to make these cupcakes besides pure fun and intrigue.  How was a beet cupcake going to taste?  I posted a picture on Facebook and asked my friends to guess the secret ingredient with a cupcake as a reward for the correct answer.  After about 45 incorrect guesses, I had to give a little hint!  The wrong guesses included everything from Jolly Ranchers to raspberries.

These cupcakes did not taste beety at all!  I’m not the biggest fan of beets, so that pleased me!  What the beets bring to the party is the spectacular jeweled pink color and lots of moisture!  I wish Essie made a nail polish color called beet frosting.  I would be all over that!

Also, I think these would be awesome for a little girl’s birthday party.  They are so brightly pink and have zero artificial color.  The kids wouldn’t even know they are eating vegetables and the parents would have the piece of mind of not giving their child a chemical laden dessert.

The chocolate cake is moist and tender with a gentle chocolate flavor.  My friend who does not like chocolate, enjoyed this cupcake.  It’s similar to a red velvet.  The frosting is light, delicious, and incredibly creamy.  I thought you would be able to the beet here, but not at all!  You are left with the awesome pink color and little jewels of beet strands throughout.  Trick your friends, make some beet cupcakes!!!

Print the recipe.

Chocolate Beet Cupcakes
Adapted from Joy the Baker
Yield – 24 cupcakes

3 beets, trimmed & cut into quarters
splash of oil
3/4 cup unsalted butter (12 tablespoons or 1 1/2 sticks) room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
scant 1 1/4 cup whole milk + juice of 1/2 a lemon (enough to make an even 1 1/4 cup)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Wash the outside of the beets and trim the green stalks.  Cut into quarters and place in a large sheet of foil. Toss in some oil, wrap the beets in the foil, and roast for 40 minutes or until fork tender.
  3. Try to let the beets cool before pealing and then grate on a fine grater.
  4. This is messy and everything will be a beautiful bright pink color!  Take 3/4 cup of grated beets and set aside for the cupcakes, leave 2 tablespoons aside for the frosting.
  5. Reduce the oven to 350 F.
  6. Beat together the butter and sugar until pale yellow for 4 minutes.  Add in the eggs one at a time and then beat in the vanilla and 3/4 cup of beets.  Scrap the bowl as needed.
  7. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, soda, powder and salt.
  8. Turn the mixer on low and add in the flour mix, beat until just combined.
  9. Pour in the milk and mix until just combined.
  10. Using a standard size ice cream scoop, place the batter in lined cupake pans.
  11. Bake for 18 minutes and let cool completely.

Whipped Vanilla Frosting with Beets
Adapted from Tie Dye Cupcakes

1 cup whole milk
5 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons roasted beet puree
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the milk and flour.  Keep whisking until the mixture becomes smooth and thick resembling pancake batter.
  2. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla and beets, and allow to cool completely.
  3. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy – just keep beating until it is no longer grainy.
  4. Add in the cooled flour/milk mixture and beat until the entire frosting is light and fluffy.  It looks very liquidy, but keep beating and it will whip up properly.
  5. Pipe onto cupcakes.

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Beef Taco Salad {Roommate Dinner}

For all the steps, this is a pretty simple dinner to throw together.  And, anytime you are making your own taco shell bowls you are going to look impressive!  Stacey was out of town for the weekend and Ruth and I were settling in for a weekend marathon of Downtown Abbey.  If you have never seen Downtown Abbey, go by season 1 & 2, and start watching!  I love this mini-series!  I’m actually kind of in withdrawl now that it is over and think about Matthew and Mary all the time.  I had watched season 1 awhile ago and missed the last 2 episodes of season 2.  Ruth had never watched the series before, so we decided to start from the beginning.

Obviously it was a good weekend of tv viewing!  And this was a fantastic dinner to kick start the marathon.  I must have an iron deficiency because I have been craving ground beef all week.  Usually I opt for a burger when I have these cravings, but that’s not what I wanted.  I wanted greasy taco meat, you know what I’m talking about!  I don’t cook like that at home though, I try to cook healthful meals at home and eat delicious, greasy goodness when I’m out.

This taco salad was the perfect compromise.  The shell was crispy and satisfying without being fried and the ground beef was super flavorful and the corn & beans add texture all without being greasy.  All of the fresh veggies make this a salad and a bit of cheese & non-fat yogurt add the perfect creaminess.  Overall, a delicious, bountiful dinner salad!  I don’t really believe if following recipes when making salads, so feel freshly to interrupt in any way you so choose.

Menu

  1. Beef Taco Salad
  2. Watermelon Martinis
  3. Snickerdoodle Ice Cream Sandwiches

Print the recipe.

Beef Taco Salad {Roommate Dinner}
Yield 3-4 servings

3-4 flour tortillas
1 teaspoon oil
.78 lbs ground beef, 90% lean
salt – good pinch
15 grinds of pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 tablespoon garlic salt
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 cup frozen corn
15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 large tomato
1 1/2 avocados
1/2 medium red onion
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
lettuce
non-fat Greek yogurt or sour cream
salsa

  1. Turn 3-4 oven safe bowls upside down and spray the bottoms with cooking spray.  Place inside the oven and turn on the oven to 350 F.  Let the bowl and the oven preheat for 10 minutes.
  2. Once the oven is preheated, place the tortillas over the bowls and let bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges turn brown and they get crispy.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
  3. Add the oil to a medium saute pan and let heat. Add the ground beef.  Stir and cook the beef until almost all is cooked.  Keep breaking apart the pieces with the spoon.
  4. Once the beef is almost all cooked, add the salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and chili pepper.  Stir well and add the corn and beans.  Mix well to heat everything.  Remove from the heat and set aside.
  5. Dice the tomato and avocado.  Slice the red onion and grate the cheddar cheese.
  6. To assemble, place the tortilla bowl in a large bowl or on a plate.
  7. Add the lettuce, then the ground beef, then the tomatoes, avocados, onions, and cheese.
  8. Top with yogurt and salsa as desired.

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Watermelon Martini

Are you ready for some summer in a glass?  Are ready for a cocktail?  I am!  Summer break cannot come soon enough!  To all my teaching friends already on summer break, I hate you.  To all my non-teaching friends, you can send your hate to me on June 28!   There is nothing like dragging out the school year until the last week of June.

Since I have a shaker now, I obviously need to make martinis all the time!  This martini is sweet, delicious, and much thicker than I would have thought.  The watermelon makes the drink super refreshing.  I had to make 4 batches before the proportions were right.  Things started off a little strong, but eventually I found the perfect ratio.  Luckily Ruth was there to help me drink rough drafts.  There is no waste in our apartment!

Print the recipe.

Watermelon Martini
Adapted from Skinny Tastes
Yield – Directions for 1 drink, but enough watermelon and lime juice for 4-5 drinks

1/2 of a 5 lb watermelon
3 limes

4 ounces watermelon puree
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce citrus vodka (Absolut Citron)
1 ounce melon liqueur (Midori)
4-5 ice cubes

Small pieces of watermelon for garnish

  1. Cut the watermelon into small pieces and puree.  I used an immersion blender, it worked very easily and very quickly.
  2. Juice the limes.
  3. Add all the ingredients into a shaker.  Shake for about 30 seconds and strain into a martini glass.
  4. Garnish with a small slice of watermelon

 

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Better Chocolate Chip Cookies

Growing up my mom always made my dad chocolate chip cookies before he went hunting in the fall.  Helping my mom make these with the directions from the back of the chocolate chip bag is one of my earliest memories of baking.

Since Father’s Day is this Sunday and I read the life changing post here, I was inspired to make and send better (if not the best) chocolate chip cookies to my dad!  Apparently I have been making worst case scenerio cookies for years and even though Stella said any chocolate chip cookie is still good, now that I’ve had these, I disagree!  There are only a few simple changes needed to change ordinary chocolate chip cookies into something extraordinary!!

These cookies have chewiness, gooeyneses, and a variety of tastes dancing across your tongue.  This a perfectly delightful cookie to make and eat!  Here are the tips:

  • Don’t over beat the butter, just mix everything until combined.
  • Use good chocolate and use several different types like milk, semisweet, and dark.
  • Add a bit of nutmeg and almond extract for a greater depth of flavor.
  • Chill the dough overnight.
  • Before baking, sprinkle with a bit of salt.
  • When the cookies come out of the oven place another piece of chocolate on top right away!

My cookies look a little wonky because I used a chocolate with a truffle center for topping.  Don’t do that!  Use regular solid chocolate!  Please make these cookies, they are a game changer!

Print the recipe.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Brave Tart
Yield – 44 (2 tablespoon) cookies

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces dark brown sugar
5 ounce sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt + more for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg + 1 yolk
12.75 ounces flour
18 ounces assorted chocolate chopped small (semi-sweet, dark, milk)
extra chocolate for on top

Day 1

  1. Cream butter, sugars, salt, powder, soda, salt, nutmeg, almond extract, and vanilla extract until just combined.  About 1 minute.
  2. Add the egg and the yolk and mix to combine.  Scrape the bowl as needed.
  3. Add the flour and mix until almost all incorporated.
  4. Add the chocolate and beat again.  Try not to over mix.
  5. Wrap the bowl tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Day 2

  1. Cover baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Use a two-tablespoon cookie scoop to portion dough.  Place 8 cookies per cookie sheet.
  3. Gently squish the dough with your palm and sprinkle with Kosher salt.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes and then let cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes.
  5. Transfer the cookie to a wire rack and place a piece of chocolate on top.
  6. Let cool completely.

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Father’s Day

If your father is anything like mine, he is difficult buy gifts for.  Usually Christmas, Father’s Day, and his birthday involves chipping in with my mom or brother for a gift certificate or something I don’t understand from Cabella’s.  This birthday was no different with my brother picking up the gift certificate, but still I wanted to something extra special.  And since my brother never signs my name to the card even though I paid half, I always need to make sure the parents know who the most awesome child is!

I first saw this idea here and here, but Key Foods has a poor selection of candy and it was raining, I was not going out in search of candy.  I worked with what I could find!  I sent this for my dad’s birthday, but I think it would be excellent for Father’s Day.  My dad really enjoyed the gift!  It’s hard to see, but this is what the card said:

Dear Dad, Happy whooper of a birthday!  Fifty-six is starting to sound old, but there are no snickers here!  Even though I can be quite the goober and often have butterfingers, I am never a milk dud.  You have always been such a smartie and a lifesaver!  Enjoy crunch-ing on all this candy, I hope you don’t get chunky.  You should come to New York and see the team Baby Ruth played for!  I love you good and plenty.  Tracy

If your dad has a sweet tooth, here are some other suggestions!

Man Cupcakes

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Red Velvet S’more Brownie Bars

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

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Cookie Butter Cupcakes

I totally lied to the check out lady at Trader Joe’s when I was buying the cookie butter.  She asked what I used it for and I said I put it on apples and bananas.  That is how a normal and healthy person should use cookie butter.  Honestly I eat it by the spoonful, trust me, it’s delicious that way!  I did mention to possibility of cupcakes to her, so I am not full of lies.

For months the blog-o-sphere has blown up with all the Biscoff spread recipes.  Apparently Brooklyn does not sell Biscoff spread because I have been looking everywhere and have yet to find some.  But then, I heard about the cookie butter at TJ’s from the Joy the Baker podcast.  This, my friends, is a game changer.

I don’t really know how to describe cookie butter except for saying it is like ground up graham crackers and gingersnaps in a smooth and creamy paste.  It’s the texture of peanut butter with the taste of amazing-ness!  I highly recommend you find yourself some cookie butter ASAP!

These cupcakes were made in honor of Jessica’s birthday.  They are very sweet, so I am glad I made them mini.  The original recipe makes 12 regular size cupcakes and I cut that in half, so it should theoretically make 6 regular sized cupcakes.  But in mini form, you get 18.  In other words, you can have 2-3 mini cupcakes per serving!  We each had 2 at lunch, whatever.  I love the drizzle on top, it’s quite necessary.  These little guys are delicious, but they needed a little help in the cute department, and the drizzle on top does just that!

Print the recipe.

Cookie Butter Cupcakes
Adapted from Picky Palate
Yield – 18 mini cupcakes

1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cookie butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  2. Beat together the oil, milk, cookie butter, egg, and vanilla in the bowl a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.  Mix until well combined.
  3. Sift together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda onto wax paper.
  4. Slowy add the dry ingredients into the wet and mix on low until just combined.
  5. Use a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop (not filled all the way) to pour into lined mini cupcakes pans.
  6. Bake 12-15 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Frosting
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup cookie butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons whole milk

  1. Beat the butter and cookie butter together in the bowl of a stand mixer on high speed until light and fluffy.
  2. Add in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time on low speed and then gradually increase the speed.
  3. Add milk until the frosting becomes a desired consistency.
  4. Use a large round tip to pipe a large dot on top of each cupcake.

Finishing
2-3 tablespoons cookie butter

  1. Place the cookie butter in a small Ziploc bag and microwave for 10 seconds.
  2. Check the consistency, squeeze the bag to mix, and microwave for another 10 seconds.
  3. Squeeze the cookie butter to one corner and snip the edge.  Decorate the top of the cupcakes.

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