Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pumpkin Cookies with Butterscotch (or Chocolate) Chips

This recipe, from Joy the Baker, produces soft, generously-sized cookies that are very cake-like in texture. I was drawn to this one originally (over the plethora of other pumpkin cookie recipes floating around right now) because of the unique addition of butterscotch chips, which make for a great flavor-pairing. I also love the combination of semi-sweet chocolate chips with pumpkin, though, so when I make these cookies I often divide the batter and make some with butterscotch chips and some with chocolate. I'm indecisive like that.

One note - it will be tempting not to use the parchment paper. Do not be led into temptation. The parchment is really important in getting these cookies to set up and bake to perfection.

Pumpkin Cookies with Butterscotch (or Chocolate) Chips

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup canola oil

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup butterscotch or chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and butter the paper.

Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar on medium speed until smooth and lightened in color, about 1 minute. On low speed, add the oil, pumpkin, and vanilla and mix until blended. Mix in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Mix in the chips.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup or ice cream scoop, drop scant 1/4 cups-full of batter onto buttered parchment paper. Allow plenty of room between scoops. (I usually only bake about 8 to a pan.)

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, about 15-16 minutes. Cool them on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then cool completely on wire rack.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Deep Dark Chocolate Brownies

Attention, everyone: This may be the perfect brownie. It's definitely the closest I've found so far. Intense chocolate flavor...dense, fudgy texture...perfection, I tell you.

I've come across this recipe several times, but was inspired to give it a try by this post by Melanie at My Kitchen Cafe. It's my new go-to version. For now. :)

Deep, Dark Chocolate Brownies

2 sticks (8 oz) butter
8 oz good-quality semisweet chocolate
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 large eggs
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13×9 inch metal pan with foil and spray foil with cooking spray. Alternatively, you may use parchment. These are pretty sticky at first!

Melt butter and chocolate in a 3-qt heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring, until smooth. Add 1 cup of the sugar to the hot chocolate mixture. Remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm.

Whisk in remaining 1 cup sugar and vanilla. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time until mixture is glossy and smooth. Whisk in salt and cocoa powder, then add flour and stir until it disappears (do not overbeat).

Spread in pan and bake until a pick inserted in center comes out with crumbs, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool to room temperature then chill for an hour or more. Lift from pan and cut into squares.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate-Chip Cookies

I know, chocolate & peanut butter again. I know. It had to happen, though.

So, awhile back I had one of those days where chocolate chip cookies were seeming very necessary. My problem was that I had no flour. And also, no desire to load two children into the car to drive to the store. Now, I know most normal people in the midst of this scenario would just, you know, not bake cookies. I am not one of those people. I went on an exhaustive search for a flour-free recipe I remembered coming across in recent days, finding it on Baking Bites, a really fun blog I follow. Another plus? This recipe also does not require butter. Which was a good thing that day, since I didn't have any of that either. (Prepared! That's me!)

I adore these cookies. They mix up in minutes and are so, so easy. Because of the different composition of ingredients, they require a longer baking time, and I've found that a couple of minutes to set up on the baking sheet after removing from the oven is a must. The texture is unique, very crumbly and almost meltaway in feel. They're a different breed of cookie, in a very good way.

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate-Chip Cookies

1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar (you can use white or brown)
1 egg
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Mix all ingredient together, drop by heaping tablespoon on baking sheet and bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Honey Wheat Bread

This is as close to a no-fail bread recipe as I've found. Seriously. And I'm not an expert bread-baker. I love the combination of half white flour and half whole wheat. It makes for a rich, nutty flavor while still maintaining an ultra-soft texture. And the touch of honey adds just enough sweetness. This is my go-to recipe for when I know I want a guaranteed perfect loaf of bread to serve with dinner.

Honey Wheat Bread

1 cup very warm water
1 T. milk
2 T. oil
2 1/2 T. honey
2 T. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp. fast active dry yeast

Combine water, milk, oil, honey, brown sugar, and salt and mix well. Add flours & yeast and knead about 10 minutes, until smooth. Place in oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Punch dough down, knead for a minute or so, and form into loaf. Place in greased loaf pan, cover (or don't cover...I usually just stick it in a slightly warm oven uncovered for the second rise), and let rise about 30 minutes, or until almost doubled.

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan to cooling rack & serve warm.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Apple Crisp

I do a lot of baking this time of year. I also buy a lot of apples. A LOT of apples. You know, the cost-effectiveness and all. So somewhere around this time of fall, I start to get a wee bit...well, tired of apples. But turning them into dessert? Yeah, that still works.

Apple Crisp

5 cups apples, peeled & sliced
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 rolled oats
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/3 cup cold butter

Place apples in bottom of 8 x 8 baking dish. In medium bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon, and allspice. Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle mixture evenly over apples.

Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes, or until apples are tender. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Dark Chocolate & Peanut Butter: The Super-Cookie

I'm of the opinion that there does not exist a more delightful combination in all the world than that of chocolate and peanut butter. Which is why I set out recently to combine an incredible dark chocolate cookie with my favorite peanut butter cookie to see what sort of magic might result. Perhaps a super-cookie? A heroic confection that rescues mankind from a reality with one less chocolate/peanut-butter pairing? (I have a flair for irritating melodrama. I'm working on it. Except not at all.)

The result turned out to be quite lovely. But don't take my word for it, here you go!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Super-Cookies

2 cups + 2 T. all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar

sugar for rolling

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In separate bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat to combine. Gradually add flour mixture, beating to combine. Chill dough for at least an hour.

Mix peanut butter and powdered sugar until combined, and form into small balls. Take large spoonful of chocolate dough and flatten it, placing a peanut butter ball in the middle and forming dough around it to cover. Roll in sugar and place on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie slightly with palm of your hand before baking.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Oatmeal Chocolate Caramel Bars

I have a recommendation for you. With these bars, focus on the rich chocolate layer; the gooey caramel center; the crumbly brown sugar top and bottom crust. Do not, I repeat, do NOT focus on the amount of butter that the recipe calls for. In fact, as you set it out to soften, just stick your fingers in your ears, close your eyes, and say, "La la la la la...I can't hear you, arteries! I can't hear you over the chocolate and caramel!"

You'll be glad you did. Not glad in the, "Woohoo, I can finally fit into these pants again!" kind of way, but glad nonetheless.

Oatmeal Chocolate Caramel Bars
(adapted from Pillsbury)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter, softened

1 1/2 cups caramel ice cream topping
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Grease bottom and sides of 9 X 13 pan. In large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add butter and mix at low speed until crumbly. Press half of crumb mixture into bottom of greased pan. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine caramel topping with 1/4 cup flour, mix well.

Remove crust from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Drizzle evenly with caramel mixture and sprinkle with remaining half of crumb mixture.

Bake an additional 18-22 minutes, or until golden brown. Cut into bars.

Well, hello there!

Welcome to my shiny new blog!

I'm Laura, wife to my high school sweetheart and stay-at-home-mom to two super-cute kids. I love to write and love to bake. So a food blog is a pretty obvious hobby, come to think of it.

It makes me so happy to walk into my kitchen on a quiet morning, coffee in one hand and a really great recipe in the other...the sight and sound of the mixer beating the butter and sugar into the perfect, creamy consistency; the smell of vanilla extract working through the batter; feeling the dough in my hands; watching the ingredients come together to puff and rise and turn a lovely golden brown and watching chocolate melt into rich, gooey perfection. To me, baking is art and science and poetry and love.

You won't find great photography or fancy technical features here. What you will find is a collection of recipes that I've tested and loved. I hope it feels like a cozy little piece of internet-land to visit. Thanks for stopping by!

P.S. Special thanks to my friend Jaimie for the lovely header/banner!