July 29, 2015

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

As a fellow peanut butter lover, I knew I had to try Brown Eyed Baker's recipe for peanut butter ice cream. This is a good, creamy ice cream. If I were to make it again, I would like to swirl this ice cream with a good chocolate ice cream to have a delicious chocolate peanut butter ice cream.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups heavy cream, divided
Pinch of salt
6 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, melted and cooled

Warm the milk, sugar, peanut 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 peanut 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 175 degrees F on an instant-read digital 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. (Note: I sped up the process because I had to make this all in one day to use up heavy cream before vacation. I stuck the bowl in the freezer, and stirred it periodically and then tossed it in the refrigerator after it was completely cold.)

Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. As you remove the ice cream to a freezer-safe container, drop dollops of the melted peanut butter over each layer of ice cream. Once all of the ice cream and peanut 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.

July 21, 2015

Double Dough Ice Cream

I always seem to have a few ice cream recipes bookmarked, so I took the opportunity to make this one from Take a Megabite for my son's second birthday party. The flavor profile of cookie dough seemed like it would be a pretty good crowd pleaser rather than some of the more unique ice cream flavors I want to try (like sweet corn).

This is the first time I've used the cornstarch and cream cheese method. It's a bit icy if you don't let it thaw a bit, but a little thawing yields a smooth, creamy ice cream. It's not my all-time favorite, but it was good. I'm not a big fan of this type of cookie dough where everything melts together, but it worked for this ice cream.

Double Dough Ice Cream
2 cups milk
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 oz. cream cheese, softened
Pinch fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean, split 
Cookie Dough
5 Tbsp. butter, melted
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, or chunks

Mix about 2 Tbsp. of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. In a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese and salt until smooth.

Combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, vanilla bean in a 4-quart saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and chill ice cream base for a few hours or overnight.

Meanwhile make cookie dough. In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, salt and sugar until smooth. Stir in the flour, vanilla and chocolate chips. Pour the “dough” onto wax paper or plastic wrap and cover with more paper/plastic wrap. Pat into a round about 1/2-inch thick, and chill until firm. Once chilled, unwrap and chop the dough into bite-sized pieces. Store the pieces in the freezer until ready to use.

When ready to churn, remove vanilla bean, and freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once fully churned, layer in a one-quart container with the cookie dough pieces. Top ice cream with plastic wrap and an airtight lid. Freeze for at least 4 hours. Makes about 1 quart of ice cream.

Blueberry BBQ Sauce

When I went to Ashville, NC for work, I ate at a rib place with a renowned blueberry BBQ sauce. It was really good, although I'm not a terribly big fan of fruit combined with meat. When I saw this recipe on Kitchen Confidant, it immediately reminded me of that sauce.

With a plethora of blueberries on hand, I made the sauce. The smell during the cooking process scared my husband away from eating the finished product, but I'm pleased with it. It was a hit with some friends we had over, as well as my mom. I'm curious how it would hold up to canning and whether it would be shelf safe because I think it would make a great gift.

Blueberry BBQ Sauce
2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen works)
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, to taste
1/3 cup diced shallots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. molasses
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the blueberries, honey and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer, and cook until the blueberries have burst and released their juices, about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, shallots and garlic, and let it cook for about 5-7 minutes more. If you have an immersion blender, blend the sauce together to puree the sauce into a smoother consistency.

Stir in the molasses, salt and pepper, and continue simmering the sauce until it has thickened, about 15-20 minutes. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Remove from heat, and let it cool. It will thicken as it sits. The sauce may be used right away or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator after cooling completely. Makes about 2 1/2 cups of sauce.

July 20, 2015

Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake

It's been a while since I baked a simple chocolate cake, so I couldn't remember which recipe I really liked for basic birthday cakes. When in doubt, obviously try a new recipe, right?

Thankfully, this Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake turned out wonderfully. I made it as a 1.5 batch (not a full doubling) to fill my two heart-shaped cake pans. I would likely do the same to fill my large single sheet cake pan that I use for birthday cakes as well. Moist, chocolate and delicious. Full disclosure: I did not use Hershey's cocoa.

Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups flour
3/4 cups cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

tir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed of mixer for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water by hand. (Batter will be thin.) Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes, and  remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost as desired. Makes 12 servings.

July 19, 2015

Ultimate Sugar Cookies

I call these the ultimate sugar cookies, simply because they work awesome for me. You may have your own favorite recipe, but this recipe makes me not hate baking sugar cookies, which is a pretty big deal for me.

Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle is where I found this recipe, as well as the inspiration for cookies for my younger son's second birthday party. She does amazing cookies and detailed tutorials that make crazy things like moose cookies actually fairly simple to do. Be sure to check out her site for the detailed moose tutorial. She also had posted a link to camping cookies from SemiSweet. As soon as I saw those, I was smitten. I figured if I did some of my favorites from the camping cookies, I could include the moose since we've seen moose on several of our camping adventures.

For frosting sugar cookies, I like what Bridget at Bake at 350 does. I've linked directly to her royal icing recipe and pointers. Her 20-second icing is a huge timesaver, although it doesn't work the best for super-detailed work. I used it for quite a bit of the designs in these cookies.

Ultimate Sugar Cookies
2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cream together butter and powdered sugar. Crack the egg into a separate bowl, and add the flavoring. Add the egg mixture to the butter sugar mixture, and mix until the egg is thoroughly incorporated. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add it little by little to the mixture. The dough is ready when most of it sticks to the paddle but does not stick to fingers.

Roll out on parchment to about 1/4-inch thick, use flour for dusting as necessary. Chill dough briefly while not working with it (or while waiting to put cut cookies in the oven.) Then, cut and bake  for 7-8 minutes. This version makes 2-2 1/2 dozen depending on how large the cookies are.



July 14, 2015

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Stuffed Cookies

These cookies from Love and Olive Oil are great right from the oven, (Then again, aren't most cookies?) However, I wasn't a fan of how they held up over the course of a couple days nor was I overly impressed with how sticky the dough was to start. Overall, good cookie but not one I'll plan to repeat in our house.

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Stuffed Cookies
Peanut Butter Filling
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt
Cookie Dough
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Large flake salt for sprinkling

In a bowl, mix together peanut butter filling ingredients until they form a smooth paste. Dollop 24 pieces of filling mixture onto a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. Freeze at least 30 minutes or until firm enough to handle.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. 

In a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, and mix until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add dry ingredients, and mix on low speed until incorporated. Stir in mini chocolate chips.

Chill dough slightly if needed because of stickiness. Scoop 1 1/2-inch balls of dough (about 2 tablespoons per cookie). Spread dough around a piece of frozen filling, and roll into a smooth ball. Place on prepared cookie sheet, leaving at least 2 inches of space between cookies to allow for spreading. If desired, sprinkle cookies with a pinch of flake sea salt just before baking.

Bake cookies 11 to 12 minutes or until centers are just set. Remove from oven, and let cool on pans for 10 minutes, and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Salted Caramel Twix Cupcakes

These Twix Brownies were so incredible that I wanted to convert them to cupcake form. My vision for a Salted Caramel Twix Cupcake turned out as well as I envisioned. My husband described them as one of my best "fancy" cupcakes, meaning one that he thought would sell well in a cupcake store. I really like how well it works to use the jumbo liners for cupcakes with layers to hold everything inside nicely.

Homemade caramel is still a work in progress for me. I tend to do better when I don't use the dry method, as I end up with quite a few clumps that never work themselves out, which is why this caramel sauce was a bit runny for me after straining it.

Definitely a repeat cupcake, although I still really want the brownies again. Cupcakes are good, but those brownies take the cake ... or cupcake?

Salted Caramel Twix Brownies
24 circle-shaped shortbread cookies
2 cups flour
2/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup water
1/4 cup salted caramel
1 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 to 1/2 cup salted caramel
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake tins with liners, and place a cookie in the bottom of each one. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and baking powder.

Cream shortening for 30 seconds. Add sugar, 1/4 cup at a time. Beat 2 minutes longer after all sugar is added. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in sour cream and vanilla.

Alternately add flour mixture and water, beginning and ending with flour. Divide batter evenly among tins.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes, and then remove from tins to cool completely on wire racks.

Once cupcakes are cooled, fill with salted caramel using a pastry tip and pastry bag.

To make the frosting, beat butter until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually add powdered sugar, and then beat in salted caramel until desired consistency is reached. Frost cupcakes.

To garnish, melt chocolate chips on medium-power in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. Let cool completely to room temperature, and then drizzle over cupcakes with a fork. Makes 24 cupcakes.

July 6, 2015

Whiskey Cake

Whiskey isn't my alcohol of choice, but it is for my close friend as well as my brother-in-law. I'm not opposed to it, and I like to incorporate it into baked goods. This one-bowl cake from How Sweet It Is seemed like an easy and delicious cake to make.

My frosting/ganache didn't set right, so I'm not sure if I slightly goofed my measurements there. And I ended up with quite a bit extra, which was delicious right over the spoon and darn tasty spread warm over vanilla ice cream.The ganache is a solid idea worth repeating.

The cake itself didn't wow me, although I liked the pieces of chocolate melted into the cake. Probably not a repeat for us, as there are other whiskey recipes like Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes or Honey Whiskey Cupcakes that take the cake, so to speak.

Whiskey Cake
1/2 cup hot coffee
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup Irish whiskey
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp.
1/4 tsp. salt
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate. chopped 
Ganache Frosting
10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Irish cream liquor

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease an 8x8 inch pan with butter, and set aside. In a measuring cup, whisk the hot coffee and butter until the butter melts, and then set it aside until ready to use.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, whiskey and vanilla. Stir in the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda and salt. Once it's about halfway mixed, pour in the coffee/butter mixture, and stir until you have a smooth batter. Stir in the chopped chocolate. Pour the batter into the greased pan, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake is just set in the middle. Let cool completely before frosting.

To make the ganache, place the chocolate in a bowl. Heat the heavy cream and Irish cream in a small saucepan over low heat until it just bubbles around the edges. Pour the cream over the chocolate, and let it sit for 5 minutes. Stir continuously until the chocolate melts into the cream and comes together. Let sit for one hour at room temperature, and then spread the ganache all over the cake. (You could probably halve the ganache recipe, plan to have extra left over (which is a good thing) or have a frosting layer that's extremely thick.) Makes an 8 x 8 cake.