Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fudgy Chocolate Cookies

My need for chocolate this week was out of control.  Thank goodness I had all the ingredients on hand to make these cookies.

I have been thinking about making the perfect chocolate cookie for a while lately after seeing pictures of these from Levain.  I think if I tripled the size of my scoop, mine would have looked the same.  But, that size cookie is just plain dangerous. So I didn't go there.  

The secret to making these cookies fabulous is melted chocolate chips in the batter.  They turn out tasting so fudgy and rich.  They really were ridiculously good.  I made one batch with peanut butter chips and one with white chocolate chips.  Both were amazing...whatever you prefer will work!

Fudgy Chocolate Cookies

Makes 3 dozen 2 1/2" cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups peanut butter chips or white chocolate chips

In a large bowl beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in separate bowl and whisk together.  With the mixer on low, slowly pour flour mixture into butter mixture.  Beat until well combined.

Pour semi-sweet chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 30 seconds and stir, repeat.  Chocolate should be completely melted.  Let cool a few minutes and then stir into batter. Stir in peanut butter or white chocolate chips.  Chill in refrigerator for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Scoop tablespoon or so of dough and roll with hands.  Drop onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or non stick baking mat.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  Do not overbake.  Cool slightly on the tray before moving to a cooling rack.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes

September meant back to work.  Which apparently was a big interruption to posting recipes.  I have so many great fall recipes to bake up that I decided I needed to get back here.  I made these cupcakes weeks ago for my friends birthday.  They are quite tasty.  I pretty much like anything with cream cheese frosting, and who can resist anything with the deep red hue of red velvet?

This is the perfect basic red velvet recipe.  The cake is very flavorful but not heavy, and light enough to balance out the rich, creamy frosting.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
From The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

Makes about 20 cupcakes

4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Turn he mixer up to high speed, slowly add the egg and beat until well incorporated.

In a separate bowl, mix together cocoa, red food coloring, and vanilla to make a thick paste.  Add to the butter mixture and mix until well combined and colored evenly. Turn the mixer to low speed and pour in half the buttermilk.  Beat until well mixed and then add half the flour.  Beat until well incorporated.  Repeat the process with the other half of buttermilk and flour.  Then turn the mixer to high and beat until the batter is smooth.  Turn the mixer to low and add the salt, baking soda and vinegar.  Beat until incorporated then turn the mixer to high speed and beat for a couple more minutes.

Spoon the batter into lined cupcake tin until two-thirds full.  Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool in pan for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack.

Once completely cool, frost with Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below).

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 2/3 cup powdered sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 oz. cold cream cheese

Beat the powdered sugar and butter together on medium low speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.  Add the cream cheese and beat until fully incorporated.  Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes.  Do not overbeat or it will become runny.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Football Sugar Cookies

I'm a big football fan, especially college football.  Can you guess which team I like? USC? Yep, you got it!  Maybe its because I went to USC for my undergraduate and graduate degrees during the peak era of Pete Carroll.  Anyways, I was very excited for our first home game this weekend (despite all the drama surrounding USC football lately, which most people could care less about, I'm sure!) and decided it was the perfect event to give royal icing a go. 

I've been making sugar cookies my entire life for every holiday with my mom.  Yes, we force the men in the family to help us decorate the countless cookies, even though it's probably their least favorite thing.  However, we have always used the old standby easy mix of powdered sugar and milk to ice our cookies.  After seeing amazingly iced sugar cookies with lots of beautiful details on many other blogs, I knew I had to try royal icing.


My favorite sugar cookie recipe is perfect for intricate cookie cutters as the do not change their shape when baked.  They taste amazing too!  I really think they are the perfect sugar cookie.  One of my friends who doesn't usually like sugar cookies thought they were great!

If you are looking for this cookie cutter to make cookies for your next tailgate, I got it at Sur La Table.


The Perfect Sugar Cookie

Makes about 3 dozen 3" cookies

3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and slowly mix into butter mixture.  Mix until flour is completely incorporated and dough hold together.

Refrigerate dough for at least an hour.

When ready to roll out dough, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out dough to desired thickness on well floured work surface.  I like thicker cookies and roll them out to a little more than 1/4 inch thick.  Bake on parchment paper or a baking mat for 8-10 minutes until just golden brown.  Let cool completely before icing.

For my royal icing, I turned to Bridgit at Bake at 350.  She also has vlogs, that show you exactly how to do it here: University of Cookies

Have fun! 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Double-Double Brownies

I don't know anyone who does not like  love peanut butter and chocolate.  It is heavenly and sinful at the same time.  You could put anything with those two ingredients in front of me and I would lick the plate clean.  One of my best friends from childhood just moved to my area so I made a batch of these for her and took them over last night.  When I went by today, there was ONE left! ONE! Thats how good they are.

It may seem a bit amateur to use a brownie mix, but trust me, this one is better than homemade.  It is fudgy and rich... just the way I like them. 

You could say brownies are "my thing".  I would choose them over anything else.  And, I've made a lot of brownies.  This one wins my vote, hands down.  Especially with the addition of extra chocolate chips! And, its a heck of a lot easier than measuring all the ingredients.


These are "Double-Double" Brownies because they have double the peanut butter and double the chocolate.  It takes the brownies to the next level. Its a pretty easy recipe too. You simply make the chocolate batter and add peanut butter chips, make the peanut butter batter and add chocolate chips and layer and dollop them together, then swirl. It's easy, I promise! Try these today!



Double-Double Brownies
Adapted from Fake Ginger and Ezra Pound Cake

Makes 16 brownies


1 box brownie mix, prepared according to directions
3/4 cup peanut butter chips

PB Filling:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
3/4 cup smooth natural peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2  cup chocolate chips, semi-sweet or milk chocolate will do

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line 8x8 or 9x9 baking pan with parchment paper.

Prepare brownie batter according to direction on package, or make your favorite brownie batter from scratch.  Add peanut butter chips and stir to combine.

Prepare peanut butter filing by stirring together melted butter, confectioners sugar, peanut butter, salt and vanilla.  Once combined, stir in chocolate chips.

Pour half of the brownie batter into prepared pan.   Dollop half of the peanut butter filling by the tablespoon over the batter.  Pour the remaining half of the brownie batter over top and spread to fill pan.  Dollap remaining half of the peanut butter filling over top. Swirl peanut butter batter into filling with a butter knife going lengthwise and crosswise.  

Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool in pan for 15 minutes, then lift out and place on wire rack to cool completely.  Once cool, cut into 16 squares.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fresh Tomato Pizza Sauce & Margherita Pizza

This Spring, for the first time ever, I planted my own tomato plants.

For some reason odd reason, I love the smell of a tomato plant.  Is it just me?  I really can't tell you what it is about it, but I love that smell.  Weird? I know.

So in the spring, I planted my tiny tomato plants in big pots and was hopeful that come August I would have more tomatoes than I would know what to do with.  Well its September, and I've had 5 tomatoes.  Five! I was so excited to have some success at growing tomatoes.  That was until I went to my mom's house.  Her plants have at least one hundred tomatoes and are massive....Guess I wasn't that successful.

I blame it on the lack of sun they had.  Couldn't have been my forgetting to water them, then over watering them, then realizing the pots are really not that big....

Anyways, I took a bunch of tomatoes from my mom and decided to make pizza sauce with some of them.  This sauce is very light, perfect for a Margherita pizza.

Fresh Tomato Pizza Sauce

Makes enough sauce for a 12-16" pizza

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
5-6 medium tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2/3 cup  or a 5.5 oz can tomato juice

Cut an X in the bottom of the tomatoes.  Prepare a bowl of ice water and set aside.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Make sure there is enough water to cover the tomatoes.  Once boiling, place tomatoes in water for 30 seconds, or until the skin begins to peel.  Remove tomatoes and immediately place in ice water until cool (just a few minutes).  Once cool, peel skins of tomatoes, chop and seed.  Place tomatoes into bowl of a food processor and pulse until reaches desired consistency (some like their sauce more chunky, others like a smoother sauce). Set aside.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add garlic to pan and cook 1 minute stirring frequently.  Add tomatoes and remaining ingredients to pan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

Margherita Pizza
The perfect method for a crispy crust without a pizza stone.  And a quick and easy pizza to show off your amazing homegrown tomatoes!  

Serves 4

1 store bought pizza dough (our favorite is Trader Joe's)
1 cup pizza sauce (recipe above)
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced fresh mozzarella
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Grease a baking pan with vegetable or canola oil (this is the key to a crispy crust).  Roll or stretch out pizza dough to a 12-16" circle on the pan.  Spread pizza sauce evenly over the dough.  Arrange cheese slices evenly over the pizza.  Bake at 550 degrees for 12-15 minutes until crust is crispy and golden brown.  Cut pizza into 10 slice and sprinkle with basil. 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Triple Threat Cookies

These cookies are a combination of my three favorite cookies-- chocolate chip, oatmeal chocolate chip and peanut butter, hence the name "Triple Threat".  I often can not decide which of my favorite cookies to make, so this is the perfect recipe for me.  I made these to bring to my Aunt's house and my boyfriend ended up eating half of them! 

This recipe comes from BrownEyedBaker.  She has some excellent recipes, and this one is a must try! The only changes I made to her recipe were that I refrigerated the dough for 24 hours before baking.  I did this mostly because of timing, but it is also supposed to make flavors come together better and it kept the cookies nice and plump instead of flattening out when baked. 

Triple Threat Cookies

Makes 20-24 cookies


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 creamy natural peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Cream together butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract on medium speed for about 3 minutes.  Add the egg and beat to combine. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add in the flour and mix until combined.  Stir in the oats and the chocolate chips

Refrigerate the dough overnight or for up to 24 hours.

Scoop the dough with a medium cookie scoop (about two tablespoons) onto parchment lined baking sheet about two inches apart.  Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown.  Let cool for a few minutes on baking sheet then move to a wire rack.  Store in an airtight container.



Thursday, August 26, 2010

Huckleberry Muffins

Huckleberries are a prized treasure in Montana.  If you are not familiar with them, they are related to blueberries but tend to be more tart and smaller.  They are a finicky berry-- they only grow in the wild and at certain altitudes.  Not to mention, they are a favorite of the bears.


The local Montanans are very secretive about where they pick their huckleberries.  I'd compare it to gold mining during the Gold Rush. No joke.  And those crazy, possessive, gold mining feelings definitely are contagious! 


Here's my mom and I with purple huck stained hands and our water jugs full of berries.  We spent 2-3 hours crouched over in the dense woods picking berries.  It was quite a scene!

We brought home gallons of berries packed in coolers in our luggage.  I spent the whole flight home coming up with grand ideas of what to do with my gold berries.  


Muffins were first on the list.  This is an excellent muffin recipe.  Of course, if you have not been to Montana, hunted all over for berries, spent hours breaking your back to pick them, froze the berries, and managed to get them all the way home, blueberries would work just fine!


You really need to try huckleberries if you haven't sometime.  Also, this will serve as your warning: this batter is ADDICTIVE.  Don't even think about taking that first lick.  You wont be able to stop.

Huckleberry Muffins 

Makes 18-20 muffins

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups huckleberries, or blueberries (If your huckleberries are frozen, thaw and rinse gently)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line muffin cups with with paper liners.

Mix together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda with a mixer on low speed.

Put the buttermilk, egg and vanilla into a bowl and whisk until just combined.  Slowly pour into flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.  

Pour in the melted butter and beat until the butter has just been incorporated, then turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat until the dough in even and smooth.  

Finally, gently fold in the huckleberries.  

Spoon the batter into the paper lines until two-thirds full and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and a toothpick comes out clean.  Let the muffins cool slightly in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Creamy Lime Graham Squares

I love anything lime or lemon.  Bars, sorbets, cupcakes, cookies, ades...everything.  In fact,  you will almost always find my water glass with a lime or lemon wedge in it.  Of course, I bought the granddaddy-of-them-all sack of limes on my recent trip to Costco (yes, the same time as the peaches) and  just realized that I need to use them up, and quickly! Being away on vacation for a week, probably didn't help much.

I haven't quite figured out how to clean as I go while baking.  Probably never will and I'm okay with that.

Anyways, these bars are the perfect treat on a warm day as you serve them chilled.  I think yesterday was the hottest day of summer in Newport so far at a whopping 78 degrees.  Where is the heat??

The bars have a graham cracker dough that is pressed into the bottom, followed by a tart but sweet creamy lime layer, and then are finished off with crumbled graham cracker dough on top.  They are crumbly, creamy, and chewy with crispy top.  How many "c" words do you think I can use to describe them?

Joe (the boyfriend) says this is a "Top 3" recipe.  I think he needs to start a list, because I there has probably been 30 "Top 3" recipes. 

Creamy Lime Graham Squares

Adapted From The Pioneer Woman


Zest of 1 lime
Juice from 4 limes
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 cup crushed graham crackers


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease or spray a 8" square pan.

Whisk together lime zest, lime juice and sweetened condensed milk until combined. Set aside.

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Mix together butter, brown sugar, and egg until combined.  Add in flour mixture and mix until well combined.  Stir in graham cracker crumbs.

Pour half of graham mixture into prepared 8" square pan.  Press into the bottom of pan until completely covered.  Pour lime mixture over top.  Crumble remaining half of graham mixture in fingers and sprinkle over the top.

Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown.

Let pan cool on counter for 30 minutes, then cut into small bars.  Refrigerate for a few hours until cool. Enjoy!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cherry Crumble

Two weeks ago I went on vacation with my family to Whitefish, Montana.  We did a lot of hiking and sightseeing in Glacier National Park, but my favorite part of the trip was picking huckleberries and buying cherries from the numerous roadside stands.  The cherries in the Flathead Valley of Montana are to die for! I have never had cherries so plump and bursting with flavor as these.  They were soft and the juices exploded as you ate them.  Needless to say, I came home still craving cherries.  Unfortunately, the cherries here do not compare to Flathead Cherries.  But these Cherry Crumbles made up for that.

They were the perfect combination of soft baked cherries, and crunchy crumbly oat topping.  Again, I can't stop making fruit desserts this summer.

All that is added to the cherries is sugar to sweeten them, and cornstarch to thicken them up.  I combined the crumble in the food processor, however, you could use a pasty cutter or forks to cut in the butter as well (The food processor takes the least amount of work!)



Here it  is all assembled and ready to go in the oven.  If you pile them up like I did, make sure to place the ramekins on a baking tray before going in the oven.  This will make clean up a heck of a lot easier if it bubbles over!

I couldn't help but eat it straight from the oven, still steaming hot!

Cherry Crumbles

Serves 4 

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman


2 cups pitted and halved cherries
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons corn starch

2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 cup four
1/4 cup oats
1/2 stick cubed butter


Preaheat oven to 375 degrees.

Stir together cherries, sugar and corn starch. Set aside. 

 In the bowl of a food processor add brown sugar, sugar, flour, oats and butter.  Pulse until a coarse meal forms.  

Fill 4 ramekins equally with cherry mixture, and top with crumb mixture.  Place ramekins on baking tray and bake for 30 minutes until cherries are bubbly and crumble is golden brown.  Can be served with a scoop of ice cream on top.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Peach Cobbler

This summer I've been busy baking anything and everything with fresh fruit.  And when you buy fruit at Costco for 2 people, you have to find ways to use it up before its too late!  I bought a big box of peaches last week, and as my boyfriend would say, "I was at war with cobbler".  Each night I was trying a new recipe, or altering one. Needless to say, we filled up on peach cobbler.

This recipe has an interesting method of adding warm water on top of the assembled cobbler.  It ends up making the cobbler extra moist and gooey on the bottom, while having a crispy browned top. However, it appears rather unappetizing when going into the oven.

Trust me, it will turn out just fine.  I promise you will think you did something wrong, but just let that go and have faith in the peach cobbler gods! 

It will end up with a crunchy, crispy, golden top, and a warm syrupy bottom.  Serve this with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and everyone will want seconds!

Peach Cobbler

Serves about 6

Adapted from All Recipes


6 fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sugar

1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

1 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x13 or similar sized pan with cooking spray.  

In a large bowl, stir together peaches, 1 cup sugar and cinnamon.  

In a bowl stir together flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter and sugar on med-high until light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and milk alternately to bowl, starting and ending with flour (flour, milk, flour, milk, flour) and mixing until just combined.

Pour half of peach mixture into prepared pan, then pour cobbler batter on top.  Pour remaining peaches over the batter.  Finally, pour hot water over the peaches.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes depending on the size of your pan, until golden brown.  

Serve with a scoop of ice cream. Enjoy!

Lots of Baked Love,