September 23, 2016

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

I realize it's been way too long since I've posted a recipe on here, but life's been busy with back-to-school for the first time, so I guess really to-school. Anyways, I think this is a new record for me that I found this recipe in the morning and baked it in the afternoon. I needed a treat for this weekend, and this looked simple and delicious.

These bars from Brown Eyed Baker come together quickly, and I used the caramel bites I had on hand and a splash of milk because I wasn't running to the store. Simple and delicious. My only regret was sticking nearly the whole batch in the freezer, so we wouldn't eat them all before this weekend ... I think last night after the kiddos went to bed my husband and I wanted to eat about 3 ... each ...


Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla
 2 cups chocolate chips
10 oz. caramel candy squares, unwrapped
3 Tbsp. heavy cream
Fleur de sel (or other sea salt), for sprinkling over caramel and bars

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line a 9-inch pan with foil, and grease. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

Using an electric mixer, mix together the melted butter and sugars on medium speed until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Slowly add the dry ingredients, and mix on low, just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine the caramels and heavy cream. Microwave on high until the caramels are melted, stirring every 20 seconds. This will take about 2 minutes.

Press half the cookie dough into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Pour the hot caramel over the dough cookie dough and spread into an even layer, leaving about ½ inch around the border. (If you forget to leave this space, you'll be pulling foil that's stuck to caramel after they're baked.) Sprinkle the caramel with sea salt. Drop the remaining cookie dough in spoonfuls over the caramel, and gently spread the dough with a spatula until the caramel is covered. (I actually squished my dough into flat pieces to make the covering easier.) Sprinkle the bars with additional sea salt.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top of the bars are light golden brown and the edges start to pull away from the pan. Place the pan on a wire rack, and cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate for about 30 minutes to allow the caramel layer to set. Cut into squares, and serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or in the refrigerator if your caramel is too gooey. Makes 16 bars.

September 22, 2016

Peanut Butter Brownie Cupcakes

So the title on these is a bit misleading since they really aren't cupcakes. They're brownies baked in cupcake wrappers, filled with a peanut butter cheesecake center and topped with peanut butter and chocolate frosting. I'm guessing you're probably OK with me misleading you in this direction.

My sister-in-law shared this recipe with me after seeing it on Facebook, and I traced it back to Gretchen's Bakery. My favorite part is that I have frosting left because that was my favorite part of this treat, but then again, I'm a sucker for frosting.

Peanut Butter Brownie Cupcakes
Brownie Cupcake
6 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate
10 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour 
Peanut Butter Filling
1/3 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 Tbsp. milk 
Peanut Butter Frosting
Chocolate Frosting

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Combine butter and chocolate together, and melt together, stirring often (either in microwave or on stove). In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, salt, eggs and vanilla. Whisk together well. Add melted mixture, and whisk to incorporate. Stir in flour just until mixed. Portion batter into 15 prepared cupcake liners.

Make the peanut butter filling by beating the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar, and mix until incorporated. Add the peanut butter, and mix well. Add the egg and then the milk. Drop spoons of the mixture into each cupcake, pushing slightly so it goes into the batter.

Bake for 25 minutes or until brownies reach desired texture. Cool completely before frosting. I made a standard peanut butter buttercream frosting and used a chocolate frosting from Brown Eyed Baker. I filled a pastry bag with both to swirl my delicious frosting on top of the cupcakes. Be sure to make only a half batch of each frosting, unless you double the cupcake recipe. Makes 15 cupcakes.

August 24, 2016

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Levian is apparently a famous bakery in some podunk place called New York City. I have high hopes to visit NYC to see all the important things like the September 11 memorial, Ellis Island, the Statute of Liberty, Central Park and such and taste many of the delicious things as well that I see all these food bloggers praise. But, I have extremely low hopes for the crowds and masses of people and creepy crawlies that I get thinking about all those people.

I'd rather be able to experience all those things without thousands of my closest strangers surrounding me. Thankfully, with this recipe from Bake at 350, I got to do exactly that with these Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies that are based off Levian's famous cookies.

These cookies are huge ... 6 ounces of dough, which is I believe twice as large as the other ridiculously large cookies I've made. It's gotten to the point that I'm not sure I know what a normal-size cookie looks like, and I'm pretty sure I'll be disappointed when I remember.

These cookies are almost like a cakey brownie in some sense for texture. They're not overly chewy or crispy edges, but somehow they are perfect for themselves. The flavor is rich chocolate and delicious. I shall make these again.

And great news if you're watching calories. There's only 8 cookies in a batch. That's not enough to over-indulge, right? Just ignore the fact that each cookie is about the size of 6 normal cookies. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
14 Tbsp. butter, cold and cut into chunks
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
10-ounce package peanut butter chips
1 cup peanut butter-filled chips (or more peanut butter chips)
 
Whisk the flours, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.
 
Cream the butter with the sugars until combined and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. In three additions, add the flour mixture, just until combined. Stir in the chips.
 
Pressing the dough together, measuring out 6-ounce portions. (You'll have one that is around 4 ounces.) Place on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet. Break each portion in half, pressing the smooth sides together well and leaving the rough edges exposed. Cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for 1-2 hours.
 
Place one oven rack in the center of the oven and one on the bottom rack. Put a cookie sheet on the bottom rack. Line another sheet with parchment. Preheat oven to 375ºF. 

Place 4 cookies on the lined cookie sheet. Place the cookies on the center rack, while pouring a cup of ice on the cookie sheet on the bottom rack. Quickly close the door to trap the steam.

Bake the cookies for 19-22 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies feel done, but the insides are still soft. Remove from the oven, and place on a wire cooling rack to cool. (The smaller cookie can bake for 17-19 minutes.)

Serve warm. For room temperature cookies, heat in the microwave for 10 seconds, if desired. Makes 8 substantial cookies.

Proof of deliciousness.

August 18, 2016

Cookie Butter Ice Cream

Biscoff is something I eat by the spoonful, delicious spoons of cookie butter. The Europeans are crazy not to like peanut butter, but they are pretty intelligent when it comes to smashing cookies into a spreadable form.

Brown Eyed Baker converted cookie butter into ice cream, so I had to give that a spin (or churn to be literal). This is a good, creamy ice cream, although it won't take my top spot. My favorite part is the crushed cookie bits. (I'll be honest, I top the whole thing with more cookie crumbles before I eat the ice cream.)

Cookie Butter Ice Cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup cookie butter, divided
2 cups heavy cream, divided
Pinch of salt
6 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped speculoos cookies, about 12 cookies

Warm the milk, sugar, 1/2 cup of cookie butter, 1 cup of the heavy cream and the salt in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the cookie butter has melted. Continue cooking until the mixture comes to a slight simmer, bubbling around the edges of the pan.

Meanwhile, pour the remaining 1 cup heavy cream into a large bowl, and place a fine-mesh sieve on top. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Slowly pour the warmed milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan.

Place the saucepan over medium heat, and stir constantly with a rubber spatula, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spatula, a few minutes. The mixture should register 170 to 175ºF on a candy thermometer.

Pour the custard through the fine-mesh sieve, and stir it into the cream. Stir in the vanilla extract, and place the bowl over an ice bath. Stir occasionally until the mixture is cool. Cover, and transfer the custard to the refrigerator until completely chilled, at least 8 hours or overnight.

Prior to churning the ice cream, melt the remaining 1/2 cup cookie butter. Set aside to come to cool slightly while churning the ice cream. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions, stirring in the chopped speculoos cookies immediately after churning. As you remove the ice cream to a freezer-safe container, drop dollops of the melted cookie butter over each layer of ice cream. Once all of the ice cream and cookie butter has been placed in the container, use a butter knife to gently swirl the mixture. Store the ice cream in the freezer. Makes about 1 quart.

August 16, 2016

White Cake

Gosh, the title sounds boring. I swear this cake really wasn't boring.

For my grandpa's 94th birthday, I wanted to make a cake that wasn't over-the-top sweet, so I decided to try the Ultimate Vanilla Cake recipe from Cupcake Project. The cake worked well, so I wanted to note it for future projects.


I layered my cake layers with a strawberry sauce ... which was really a strawberry jam that failed to set. It was perfectly delicious, with the right balance of sweet and tart from lemons to complement this cake.

One cake I frosted with whipped cream, and the other with the Cupcake Project's vanilla bean buttercream frosting. I actually preferred the whipped cream, but both were tasty.