Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cowboy Cookies

My mom always makes a big batch of various chocolatey cookies for M and me at the holidays. This year's stash included chocolate chocolate chip peanut butter cookies, heath bar cookies, Oreo truffles, Saltine "bark," and these curious Cowboy Cookies. Considering that I love "stuff" in my cookies and "stuff" in my ice cream, I knew immediately that I'd love these. With oats, chocolate chips, pecans, and coconut, it really has something for everyone (except perhaps my dad, who abhors coconut... sorry, dad!). Additionally, these are a chewy cookie, for those of us (me! me!) who'd rather have that than a crunchy cookie any day of the week. Another big win for Martha!

Cowboy Cookies
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. old-fashioned oats (I used quick oats and the world didn't stop spinning)
6 oz. (1 c.) semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch chunks (I used chocolate chips)
3 oz. (3/4 c.) pecan halves (I chopped them)
1/2 c. shredded unsweetened coconut (unsweetened is hard to find other than at Whole Foods)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat baking sheets with cooking spray, line with parchment, and spray parchment (or just use a Silpat). Sift flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder into a medium bowl; set aside.

Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium-high until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

Reduce speed to low, and slowly add flour mixture, beating until just incorporated. Beat in oats, chocolate, pecans, and coconut until combined.

Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop or a small spoon, drop dough onto baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart.

Bake until edges of cookies begin to brown, 11 to 13 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to wire rack, and let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks. Let cool. (inkpadchocolate says: "Eat when still hot!)

I love these salty/sweet/chewy bites of heaven!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Scouty's First Birthday!: Devil Dog Cake

I apparently grew up in the wrong part of the country to know what Devil Dogs are, but they are little chocolate cakes with marshmallow filling made by Drake's out of New Jersey.

I also didn't realize just how many people out there on the Web are obsessed with them.

In any case, we threw a little party for Scout's first birthday, and for the human cake (the dogs got a dog-friendly cake), there's really no better tribute to our naughty little pup than something called a devil dog!

Because I was short on time, I just used Duncan Hines devil's food cake mix from the box, but any of the recipes above would make a great base for the chocolate cake. I ended up using the epicurious recipe for the marshmallow frosting (it's the same as on smitten kitchen). If you like a super sweet frosting, this one's for you.

Devil Dog Cake
1 box Duncan Hines devil's food cake mix (prepared according to box)

Marshmallow (or seven-minute) Frosting:
2 large egg whites
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. light corn syrup
2 T. water
1 t. vanilla extract

Make cake according to package directions (I made it with two round pans).

For the frosting, combine frosting ingredients with a pinch of salt in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and beat with a handheld electric mixer at high speed until frosting is thick and fluffy, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and continue to beat until slightly cooled. When cake is cool, frost. I suppose that for a *true* Devil Dog, you should only frost between the layers to make it look like the Drake's cake, but I wanted it to look more like a traditional birthday cake.

(Tip: This frosting was GREAT for piping details. It's thick and glossy and doesn't run—although the dye colors do run a little bit. I reserved about a 1/2 cup of frosting that I put in different ramekins and dyed before piping.)

Yes, I am aware that I went to this much trouble for a dog. But this cake was for the humans!

What you mean? Dis no chocolate cake!
(Yes, that is a Pound Puppy birthday hat. Don't judge.)

Happy first birthday, fuzzy guy!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Year's Eve: White Chocolate Mousse Cups

I wanted to make a unique and bite-sized dessert for an at-home New Year's Eve with my best friend and her fiance. Since I consider Giada the queen of the kitchen, and she shares my chocolate obsession, I decided on her Mascarpone and Dark Chocolate Cream in White Chocolate Cups recipe. I'm not usually a white chocolate fan—it's not chocolate—but I'm a sucker for cute packaging.

It's actually not as labor-intensive as it may seem, but it does take a little bit of time, especially during the freezing process. Don't leave this one for the last minute. The best tip I have is that, when peeling away the paper liner from the white chocolate, start at the bottom of the paper muffin liner since there's a little air pocket there that you can gently stab with a knife tip. And, while a piping bag isn't necessary, it makes the presentation nicer. (Even though I had a star tip that was too small, it still looked nice, I think!) Finally, Giada calls for regular muffin cups (makes 8) but I thought the mini muffin cups were cuter and more figure friendly after an evening of noshing on junk. :)

White Chocolate Mousse Cups
8 oz. white chocolate, chopped
4 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 c. whipping cream
3 T. sugar
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon grated orange peel (I omitted; I hate orange with chocolate)
1/4 t. vanilla extract

Have mini muffin cups ready. Melt the white chocolate in top of double boiler over simmering water (or use a good pot), stirring until smooth. Spoon approximately 1 tablespoon melted chocolate into each paper liner. Using a pastry brush, coat the chocolate evenly and completely over the bottom and up the sides of the liners. Freeze until the chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes. Remelt the remaining white chocolate. Spoon 1 tablespoon into each cup and brush over the bottom and up the sides, forming a second coat. Freeze until completely set, about 1 hour.

Melt the bittersweet chocolate in top of a clean double boiler over simmering water, stirring until smooth. At this point, set aside to cool completely.

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream and sugar in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Set the whipped cream aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the mascarpone cheese, melted bittersweet chocolate, orange peel (if using), and vanilla in a large bowl just until smooth and glossy, about 30 seconds (do not overmix). Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture in 2 batches. Transfer the mousse to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe the mousse into the white chocolate cups. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate overnight, and then let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

I should have garnished it with chocolate curls, but I waited until the last minute. :)

Happy New Year!

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