Friday, August 28, 2009
My husband has had a tough couple of weeks at work, working until unheard of hours in the morning and having to go in to work in (literally) the middle of the night. I let him pick this week’s cookie and he came up with this recipe for Midnight Mints. Imagine my surprise that he didn’t pick chocolate chip cookies, which is his favorite. These sounded really great and they were a no-bake recipe. It was warm on the day I made these and it was nice to be able to avoid turning on the oven.
These have a very nice base of butter, cocoa powder, graham cracker crumbs and coconut. I omitted the nuts that the recipe called for, since I don’t think that nuts and mint really go together very well. I added a bit more cocoa powder than the recipe specifies; I’ve really got to
start reading recipes more carefully! The topping is basically frosting, and I ended up using about 2-1/2 cups of powdered sugar since I didn’t want the filling to be too soft. I thought that the bars would be too hard to cut if the filling was super soft.
The mint in these is really refreshing, and I think these would be an excellent choice for the holidays. They are a little tricky to eat, since the chocolate topping gets soft when you pick up the squares to eat them. I guess you just have to eat them quickly. I would double the chocolate topping, since the chocolate layer ended up being so thin. That may make them more difficult to cut, but as long as you chill the bars before cutting I think that you will be ok. I lined my pan with foil so I could lift the bars out of the pan before cutting, which makes the cutting a lot easier.
½ cup butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
¼ cup sugar
I egg, beaten
1-3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup coconut
2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
Green food coloring
2/3 cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
Melt the ½ cup butter, cocoa powder, and sugar together in a large saucepan on medium heat until boiling. Reduce the heat to low and add the egg. Stir until thickened and remove from the heat. Stir in the graham cracker crumbs and the coconut. Press the mixture into an ungreased 9” square pan. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
To make the filling, combine the powdered sugar, butter, milk and peppermint extract. Mix until smooth. If you need to thicken the filling, add more powdered sugar. If the mixture is too thick, add additional milk. Spread the filling on top of the bottom layer.
Heat the chocolate chips and the butter in a small saucepan (or heat in a microwave), stirring until the mixture is smooth. Spread the chocolate over the filling and chill until the chocolate is set. Cut into squares.
Recipe from Company’s Coming: Most Loved Treats by Jean Pare
Thursday, August 27, 2009
When I go on vacations, I will usually end up in a bookstore at some point during my travels. I’m a librarian so I just seem to be drawn to books! Despite the fact that I have a cookbook collection that is more than sufficient, I usually wind up look in the cookbook section. Occasionally I will find local cookbooks, and I try to pick those up when I see them (if they have good recipes). This cookbook is the ultimate country sort of cookbook, titled Coffee Cakes: 105 Wonderful Recipes. It’s published by a company out of Bend, Oregon and I picked this up quite a few years ago when I was on a trip with my family to central Oregon.
My mom called me the other day and wanted to know if I needed any fresh berries. There were going to purchase berries at the local farmers market and would have extra to share. They live right in the heart of a berry growing area and their farmers market is really wonderful. I can always use berries in my baking and I can freeze any extras. My parents stopped by and brought me an entire half flat of blueberries, so I had to think of something to make. I’d recently made blueberry muffins, so I knew that there would be a great blueberry coffee cake in this cookbook.
I really like to bake using a Bundt pan, so I picked this coffee cake. I didn’t really change very much about the recipe, but I didn’t read the instructions very well! The recipe states that you should bake the cake in a tube pan, but in the photo the cake was clearly made using a Bundt pan. You are supposed to layer the cake batter, then half the blueberries, the remaining cake batter, and the last of the blueberries. You are supposed to swirl all of those layers together. I opted for the simple route and put all the blueberries in the center of the cake. This is a very good cake, nice and simple. I liked the addition of the almond extract, and I think this would be good with the addition of some sliced or slivered almonds to top the cake.
1-1/4 cups blueberries
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
8 ounces sour cream
¾ powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch tube or Bundt pan and set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, and flour. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. It will look like nothing is happening, but at the very end of the cooking time the mixture will come together as a cohesive filling. Set aside to cool slightly while making the cake. The filling can be made in advance and refrigerated, if desired.
To make the cake, cream together the butter and the sugar in a large mixer bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
Spoon half of the batter into the prepared pan, top with the blueberry filling and top with the remaining batter. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
For the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, water and extract. Stir until the glaze is smooth. Drizzle over the coffee cake.
Recipe from Coffee Cakes: 105 Wonderful Recipes by Lauri Bonn
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Linda of Tender Crumb. She picked the Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie. This pie is a cross between a key lime pie and a lemon meringue pie. I’ve made key lime pie before and I really like it. I’d never made lemon meringue pie before, but I’d always wanted to try. Needless to say, I was really excited to make this pie.
The lime filling in this pie is so good! You could just eat it plain. The recipe called for ¾ cup of lime juice, which Dorie says is about 6 limes. I bought 6 limes and I was thrilled to get enough juice from them! The lime cream has a very assertive lime flavor, but it is also quite sweet. The filling is very rich, due to the 2-1/2 sticks of butter that you add to the lime cream. I don’t know if that much butter is standard, but it sure made for a good lime cream.
The meringue was very simple to make. I’d never made meringue for a pie before, but I’ve done other meringues. I wanted the top to be kind of spiky, and I was able to do that with a spoon. The recipe makes a lot of meringue, so there was a lot to “play” with to get it to look right. You brown the meringue under a broiler, and boy, does that happen fast. I knew that some of the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers had burnt their meringue, so I put it under the broiler for about 30 seconds, and then for a few seconds more and it was done. The pie took a long time from start to finish, but it was worth it. It’s an impressive looking pie and tastes wonderful.
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 337-339
Friday, August 21, 2009
On the chat list that I follow, someone recently asked about some peanut butter and oatmeal cookies. Several people responded that this recipe was the one she was probably wanted. This recipe is from Baking from My Home to Yours. It had been selected for Tuesdays with Dorie before I joined the group. When I read through the posts, these cookies just sounded so good and I decided to give them a try.
This recipe yields a lot of cookies, so I decided to halve the recipe. It still made 3 dozen cookies, so my husband and I have a lot of cookies at home. I will try my best not to eat all of them, but they are pretty addictive. The peanut butter is a fairly subtle flavor, maybe because I used creamy peanut butter. I think that these cookies would be good with the addition of salted peanuts. If you are looking for a great cookie for the cookie jar, these are for you.
3 cups oats
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
9 ounces chocolate chips
In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt; set aside. In a large mixer bowl, beat butter, peanut butter, and sugars until smooth and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined, and then stir in the chocolate chips. Cover and chill the dough or at least 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats. Shape the dough into tablespoon-sized balls. Place the dough on the cookie sheet and flatten each ball until about 1/2” thick. Bake for 13-15 minutes. The cookies will be golden and just firm around the edges. Remove the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely. Cookies will form up when they are cool.
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie selection was picked by Karen of Something Sweet by Karen. She picked the Applesauce Spice Bars, and you can check out her blog for the complete recipe. Once again I was thrilled that this week’s selection was a cookie, and since I especially like the flavors of fall, I was really looking forward to making this recipe. These are the perfect fall bar cookie!
This recipe calls for applesauce as well as diced apple, raisins and pecans. It had just enough spice, which gets even better the day after the bars are made. The bars are topped with a sweet glaze. In conversation with the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers, several people said that there was too little glaze, so I did double the glaze recipe.
The others also mentioned that you really need to let the bars cool before glazing, or the glaze will just soak in to the bars. I let my bars cool for several hours, but I still had problem with the glaze soaking in. I didn’t think it would be too bad, but when I went to cut the bars they were quite soggy on top. With them being so soft, it makes it really tough to pack these up and take them anywhere. I guess my husband and I will just have to eat them!
Not surprisingly, I really like these. They remind me of an apple cake that my paternal grandmother used to make. I need to dig out that recipe and make it sometime soon. The flavors of that cake are the same as these bars, but I recall the cake having bigger chunks of apple and nuts. The glaze was a little bit of an issue. I was sure that my bars were cool enough before glazing, but that didn’t seem to prevent the glaze from soaking in. I think that next time I will allow the glaze to cool a little bit before topping the bars, and maybe that will help.
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 117 and 118.
Monday, August 17, 2009
My dance teacher had brought some blueberries to class the other night. There were so many that she let us take home the extras. (Having blueberries was much healthier than the candy that we sometimes have at dance. We’re burning lots of calories and we need energy!) There were about 2 cups of blueberries, which isn’t enough to make some things, but certainly enough to make blueberry muffins.
This is a streusel muffin, but it is quite a different streusel. In this case, the topping is simply sugar and lemon zest. This was a nice light topping. I love lemon and blueberries together. I used lemon oil in the batter, but you could also use additional lemon zest. Muffins are quick and easy to put together. The trickiest part of working with blueberries is to be gentle with the berries or you end up with purple batter. I’ve made purple blueberry muffins before, but I was gentle this time!
The recipe warns that the muffins will spill over the top a bit, and mine certainly did. They had a bit of an odd feathery look around the edges, and I think this is from the sugar topping. I wouldn’t skip that, since the topping gives the muffins a little crunch and makes them a little more special than your average blueberry muffin. They have a nice texture, crumbly and not too dry. My muffins are just a touch lopsided, but they are very tasty.
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups blueberries
½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
¼ teaspoon lemon oil
¼ cup sugar mixed with zest of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 12 cup muffin cup with nonstick spray.
In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in the blueberries.
Cream butter and sugar in a large mixer bowl for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, then milk and lemon oil. Blend in the dry ingredients just until combined; do not overmix.
Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, dividing it evenly. Sprinkle lemon-sugar mixture evenly over muffin tops. Bake for 25 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Turn out onto rack to cool.
Recipe from All the Best Muffins and Quick Breads by Joie Warner
Friday, August 14, 2009
Seattle has been experiencing a bit of cool weather lately, which is such a nice change from the super hot weather we had just a week ago. This cloudy, rainy weather that we have been having has fooled me into thinking that it’s fall. I’m sure that summer isn’t gone completely, but I’ve definitely been drifting towards recipes that feel like fall.
I was looking through my cookbooks to pick today’s recipe and I noticed that this recipe was already bookmarked. I’m not exactly sure who bookmarked it (I’m guessing my husband since I don’t remember them) or when, but it just looked like what I wanted to make. Sticky buns make me think of a rainy day when I have all day to stay home and bake, and these have similar flavors so I thought I would give them a try.
I’ve seen similar recipes, but the base of this bar cookie is quite complex, with oats, pecans, and coconut. The recipe has you soak the oats in hot water, which is suppose softens the oats somewhat. It would be interesting to try this without soaking the oats. The base of these cookies is quite soft, a lot softer than I expected. Most of the bar cookies that I made have more of a shortbread base, so this is quite different.
The topping is what makes these so good! Making your own caramel can be tricky, and if you don’t pay attention, you can have a big, burned sugar mess in no time flat. This one was very simple and turned out perfectly. Brown a little butter and pecans, stir in brown sugar and cream and boil for 2 minutes. It makes a beautiful thick, sticky caramel. It does take a little while to set, so you just have to have some patience before you cut them into bars. They are so good and certainly live up to their “sticky” name. You may want to cut them into larger bars and serve them with a fork, since they are so messy. I’ll take a little mess for such a good cookie.
1 cup oats
1-1/4 cups brown sugar
¾ cup butter, softened
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 teaspoons vanilla
1-1/3 cups flour
1 cup chopped pecans
¾ cup coconut
¾ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup butter, cut into chunks
2/3 cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt
¼ cup heavy cream
2-1/2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9” x 13” pan with nonstick spray.
In a small bowl, combine the oats with ¼ cup of hot water. Stir to combine and set aside. In a large mixer bowl, beat the brown sugar, butter and salt. Beat on medium speed until well blended and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and stir until combined. Add the flour and the oat mixture and mix until combined. Fold in the pecans and the coconut. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan.
Bake for 30 minutes, until the top is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool while you prepare the topping.
To make the topping, combine the ¾ cup chopped pecans and the ¼ cup butter in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes, or until the butter is lightly browned. Be careful and make sure that the butter doesn’t burn. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the brown sugar, salt and heavy cream. Return the mixture to a boil and boil, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Immediately spread the topping evenly over the still-warm crust. Let stand until completely cooled. Cut into bars with a warm knife.
Recipe from The All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Jayma of Two Scientists Experimenting in the Kitchen. She selected Brownie Buttons, and you can get the complete recipe by visiting her blog. I was really excited to make these. I noticed them right away when I got the cookbook, since there’s a great picture of these white-chocolate topped mini brownies. I’m always happy when the week’s recipe is a cookie. I’m lucky since next week’s selection is also a cookie!
I usually make my recipes over the weekend, but my husband and I were away this weekend for a little getaway. These are so simple and quick that I was able to make them after we got home. They call for basic ingredients which you probably have in the cupboard: a little bittersweet chocolate, brown sugar, egg, butter, flour and so on. The most unusual (and optional) ingredient is orange zest. I didn’t have that on hand, since I made these on the fly, so I used orange oil instead. I love the combination of orange and chocolate, so I didn’t want to leave that out.
You make these brownies in a saucepan, and that’s the only bowl you use so I like that a lot. You start by melting the chocolate, sugar, and butter together. You let that cool and then add the egg and the other ingredients. I think my mixture was too warm when I added the egg, so it wasn’t as smooth as I expected it to be. The recipe says that when you have added all of the ingredients you should have a smooth, glossy batter. Mine wasn’t, but I figured it would work out anyway. I sprayed my baking pan with nonstick spray rather than using butter, and this may have been a mistake. The nonstick spray bubbled up and sort of foamed over the top of the brownies. At first thought that the batch was ruined, but I let them cool and took them out of the pan. They didn’t have nice rounded tops, but otherwise I thought they were ok.
I topped them with white chocolate and that made them look nice and pretty. I was very careful melting the white chocolate, since that is so difficult to work with! I’ve had more than my share of white chocolate seize up! I melted mine in the microwave, in 10 second increments. When the white chocolate looked like it was half melted, I took it out the microwave and just stirred it until it was smooth. I liked these a lot more with the white chocolate topping, so I wouldn’t skip that. This was a good recipe and I’d like to give them another try and see if I can avoid the problem that I had with the nonstick spray. They were quick and easy to make and would fulfill and chocolate craving that you might have.
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 106 and 107.
Friday, August 7, 2009
I recently picked up a new cookbook. Now I probably need a new cookbook like I need a hole in my head, but the picture on the cover made it impossible to pass up. I looked through the book and it had quite a few interesting recipes so I figured why not? There’s always room for one more book on the bookshelf.
I let my husband pick the first recipe to make, and he picked the lemon crunch squares, which are a variation of a lemon bar. The most unusual aspect of these cookies is that the base of the cookie is made with crushed saltines. I’ve used all sorts of cookies and crackers to make bases before, but never saltines. I wasn’t sure if it would be salty, or how exactly that would translate to the overall flavor.
You make a crumb base with the saltines, butter, sugar, and coconut. Press most of that in the pan and reserve some for the topping. The lemon filling is egg and sugar, as well as lemon juice and lemon zest. When I was making this it smelled super lemony, in the final cookie I don’t think that the lemon is pronounced as I would like it to be. As far as the base made with the saltines, I think that it has a nice light flavor. It does have just the slightest bit of crunch and it isn’t salty at all. I would like a stronger lemon flavor; these don’t have the nice tang that I expect a lemon bar to have.
The plate that I used in the photos is also new. A couple of weeks ago my husband and I traveled to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. It’s honestly not that far from home, but taking the ferry always makes it feel like you are going to a destination. While we were there we visited the studio of Paula West Pottery . I picked up this lovely little plate since I thought it would add some nice color to my photos. There were some beautiful pieces in the showroom. I especially liked the rice bowls that she had there. The studio is still working on having online sales, so I’ll be looking forward to that when it happens.
1-1/3 cups crushed soda crackers
¾ cup butter, softened
¾ cup flour
½ cup sugar
½ cup coconut
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl until crumbly. Reserve 1 cup of the crumbs for the topping. Press the remaining crumbs firmly into an ungreased 9 inch square pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven.
To make the filling, beat the eggs in a medium saucepan. Add the sugar, lemon juice and zest, and the butter. Heat and stir on medium until thickened. Spread evenly over the baked crumb layer. Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture over the top. Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Let stand in pan on a wire rack until cool, then cut into bars.
Recipe from Company’s Coming: Most Loved Treats by Jean Pare’
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Mary of The Food Librarian. She chose the Classic Banana Bundt Cake. I’m also a librarian with a food blog so I should really check out her blog more often! If you’d like the complete recipe, please visit Mary’s blog. Also, check out the Tuesdays with Dorie site to see how all of the TWD bakers did with this week’s recipe.
Now I have said before that I don’t like bananas, mainly I don’t like how they smell. I do like banana bread, so I was hopeful that this would be similar to that. I do love to make Bundt cakes, as those were some of the first cakes that I ever made. My experience making Bundt cakes has been overwhelmingly positive. I guess the only problem that I have ever had making a Bundt cake is having the cake sticking, so always make sure you butter the pan completely (butter it more that you think you’ll need and you’ll be fine).
One reason that I love Bundt cakes is that they are so easy to put together. You basically add most of the ingredients into the mixer and combine. I think I had the cake ready to go before the oven preheated to the right temperature. This recipe uses sour cream as the liquid, rather than milk. Some of the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers said that the cake was too wet for their tastes, which is odd since this doesn’t have very much liquid at all. I ended up using 3 bananas instead of 4, since I’m not such a fan of bananas. I didn’t want the cake to be too banana-y.
This baked up perfectly; I did tent the cake with foil while baking so it didn’t get too browned. It came out of the pan without a problem. Dorie says that this cake is better the next day, but I didn’t wait that long to try it! I think that it is really good, which for me is saying a lot given my aversion to bananas. I think that it tastes a lot like banana bread, without nuts of course. Mine is a little dryer than banana bread, maybe because I used one less banana. I would definitely make this again, since it was so easy and so good!
Recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, page 190.