Thursday, December 23, 2010


Many, many moons ago, I was first introduced to this candy by my friend Jackie. I remember standing in her kitchen as her mom handed me my first one, always a part of her Christmas baking repertoire. I was probably 11 or 12, but a peanut butter chocoholic knows when her life has changed.

So tell me, if it's so memorable, why have I never made them?

I was recently inspired to finally try my hand at making them because of this beautiful post over at SK, but the thought of cream cheese diluting them made me sad inside (and to be perfectly honest, I could not handle yet another grocery store trip). So off to the Internet I went! While most buckeyes have gobs of powdered sugar involved, this recipe seemed to have a more reasonable amount; I just tweaked it to bittersweet chocolate and also tempered it per SK's instructions to have the perfect shiny result.

I won't lie—I had a bear of a time dipping them. The peanut butter "eye" was never perfectly round (more like a pentagon) and I could never properly cover the toothpick hole, and I may have even had a temper tantrum* when they wouldn't turn out perfectly and after finding my candy thermometer shattered in the drawer (and running to BB&B at 11:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve Eve only to find thermometers that started at 100 degrees when I needed 80s for tempering), but I promise you, this will soon be a favorite recipe. Next time, I'll freeze the peanut butter balls rather than refrigerate and I will also dip them in smaller batches, keeping enough in the fridge/freezer so they don't warm up too much before their chocolate bath.

makes 2–3 dozen, depending on size
1/2 stick (4 T.) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2.5 c. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 c. smooth peanut butter
1/2 t. salt
1 c. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

In a mixing bowl, combine the softened butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, peanut butter, and salt.

Mix on medium speed for 1–2 minutes, until very smooth and well combined.

Using a teaspoon, form mixture into balls the size of a quarter. Place balls on cookie sheet covered with foil or parchment and chill in refrigerator (or perhaps I'll try the freezer next time) for 30 minutes.

While balls are chilling, melt the chocolate. Temper the chocolate if you desire. (The link above at Smitten Kitchen has perfect instructions.)

Once balls are firm, they can be dipped. Using a toothpick, skewer a ball and dip it halfway into the melted chocolate. You want to leave at least a dime-sized circle of undipped candy on top of the ball. *Or, you know, get so upset at your imperfect buckeyes that you angrily poke a hole in one. And then, shucks, I'll have to eat that deformity.

Don't do this.

Drag it along the lip of the bowl to remove excess chocolate, and place it back on the cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining peanut butter balls. Work in shifts so that not too many peanut butter balls are out of the fridge/freezer at once. They warm very quickly, which poses huge problems when dipping.

Return balls to fridge to set the chocolate. Serve once candies are firm. Or give as gifts—your friends and family will love you for it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Andes Mint Chocolate Cookies

If I had to rank my favorite chocolate combinations, first would be peanut butter & chocolate, then perhaps coconut & chocolate, then mint & chocolate. (Nuts and caramel are on that list too, but they're sort of an obvious choice. Fruit & chocolate will never be on my favorites list. What a waste of good chocolate!)

Anyway, the hubby would definitely rank mint & chocolate first, whether Thin Mints, Trader Joe's UFOs, or mint chocolate chip ice cream. I saw this recipe referenced on a blog I read (much better pics of the cookies there, BTW) and immediately knew I had to make them! They're nice and chewy with a hard minty top. I particularly enjoy mint at Christmas, so thought I'd wait to share them until now.

Andes Mint Chocolate Cookies
makes 3–4 dozen
3/4 c. butter
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
2 T. water
2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 (4.5 ounce) packages chocolate covered thin mints (such as Andes)

In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the butter, brown sugar, and water, stirring occasionally until melted. Remove from heat, stir in the chocolate chips until melted, and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

Pour the chocolate mixture into a large bowl, and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, and stir into the chocolate mixture. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets (or use a Silpat). Roll cookie dough into walnut-sized balls and place 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, being careful not to overbake. While cookies are baking, remove wrappers from mints. When cookies come out of the oven, immediately press one mint wafer into the top of each cookie and let sit for 1 minute.

When the mint is softened, swirl with the back of a spoon or toothpick to make a pattern with the green filling of the mint wafer. Remove cookies from sheet and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ginger Spice Cookies

December 13 is an important holiday for Swedes. St. Lucia Day goes hand in hand with Christmas, symbolizing light over darkness (Lucia/Lucy = light) in a country that can be very dark and very cold in winter. You may have seen an image of a girl in a white robe with a red sash and a crown of candles on her head before... that's Lucia!

The oldest daughter traditionally serves her parents saffron buns and black coffee (St. Lucia brought food during famine), and the traditional sweet is pepparkakor, or gingerbread cookies. The smell of these baking will warm you up this holiday season!

In full disclosure, the recipe is actually called "Chewy Ginger Spice Cookies" but they were only chewy when fresh out of the oven. They quickly became ginger snaps instead, which is ok by me, but it's worth mentioning—perhaps I made mine too thin.

Ginger Spice Cookies
Makes about 38 cookies, from RealSimple
2 c. all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
2 t. ground ginger
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 t. ground black pepper
1/8 t. ground cloves
3/4 c. vegetable shortening
2/3 c. packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 c. molasses
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1/4 c. granulated sugar, plus more for dusting

Heat oven to 350° F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, pepper, and cloves.

Using an electric mixer, beat the shortening and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and beat in the egg, molasses, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture, mixing just until combined (do not overmix).

Place the granulated sugar on a plate. Roll heaping tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls; roll in the sugar to coat. Place on parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Using a glass in a twisting motion (so they won't stick), press the balls to a ⅜-inch thickness (or thinner for crisp gingersnaps) and sprinkle with more granulated sugar.

Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the edges are firm, 9 to 11 minutes. Cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Dear all three of you,

I will not attempt an apology for being absent these many weeks. But I will offer a string of excuses.

I usually blog while at the beach. But a hurricane made us evacuate after two days and I was too grumpy to bake or do much of anything when we got home. Stupid Earl.

Then we spent three glorious weeks in France, Austria, and Germany, plus a few weeks prepping and a few weeks decompressing. No time for blogging.

Then I got sick. Then hubby got sick. Then I got sick again. Which means no baking.

But here I am! It's the best time of year for baking! Apples and pumpkin and chocolate, oh my!

I promise to make it up to you—again, all three of you. Let's start with this recipe... one promised to me for several years from my friend M, but it was oh so worth the wait. It was a "viral recipe" passed around her mom's elementary school with cute illustrations provided. If the kids can make it, so can you! They are simple but so moist—for the pumpkin lover. Sorry there are so few pictures... they got eaten quickly!


Pumpkin Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 t. ground cinnamon
3/4 c. vegetable or canola oil
15-oz. can cooked pumpkin
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners. Combine sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and beat 1 minute.

Fill lined muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake at 350 for 20–25 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly pressed. Cool slightly in the pans, then transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
8-oz. package cream cheese (reduced fat is fine), at room temperature
1/4 c. plus 2 T. butter, at room temperature
1 T. orange juice
1 t. vanilla extract
1 3/4 c. powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add orange juice and vanilla—mix well. Gradually add powdered sugar and mix until well combined.

Frost cupcakes when they are completely cool.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Crunchy Ice Cream "Casserole"

I asked for this recipe many moons ago at a choir potluck picnic. It's so simple, full of texture (crunchy! gooey! creamy!), and just screams summer... but melts quickly so beware!

Bring this to your next picnic or summer party and I can guarantee that your friends will be asking for the recipe just like I did 10 years ago. Enjoy!

Crunchy Ice Cream "Casserole"
1.5 c. flour
1 c. oats (uncooked, old-fashioned or quick oats will do)
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1.5 c. chopped walnuts or pecans
1 c. melted butter (2 sticks)
12-oz. jar caramel ice cream topping (calls for entire jar but I rarely use that much)
1/2 gallon ice cream of choice (butter pecan, vanilla, etc. are all good options)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, chopped nuts, and melted butter in a bowl with a spoon until evenly moistened. Spread in a thin layer on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until brown. Cool and crumble. Try not to eat it all!

Spread half of the crunchies in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Spoon over top approximately half of the caramel topping, then top with an even layer of the full carton of ice cream (softened slightly). Spoon remaining half of caramel topping on top, then sprinkle with the remaining half of the crunchies. Cover with foil and freeze until set. Cut and serve!

My Birthday

I'm super late (although I started this post on 7/25 so at least there's the illusion of being posted in my birth month), but it's now become a tradition to share my birthday desserts every year.

We attended a wedding in NY on the Hudson the day before my birthday, so although my birthday was spent in a car, we did intentionally stop to get a peanut butter cup sundae (with "peanut butter puddles" ice cream) in Hershey, PA at one of my favorite ice cream establishments.

Yeah, so I'm sort of anti-Hershey, but the roads were paved brown so it made me happy.

On our way home, we stopped for dinner at Chef Geoff's downtown. Their Dark Chocolate Tart with Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream was divine! Sooooo rich though. Not for the quasi-chocoholics—only the hardcore ones. (And, as in previous years, I still had a birthday cake waiting for me at home... oof.)

The following day, M really REALLY outdid himself and took me to Restaurant Eve for dinner. We didn't do the tasting menu, but had a wonderful dinner in the bistro and the most faaaaabulous peanut butter chocolate dessert (see a theme?) imaginable: The Butterfinger.

Specifically, "'Butterfinger' Napoleon of Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Mousse with Vanilla Ice Cream."

Holy cow. HOLY COW. It was more salty than overly sweet and definitely the highlight of my entire meal (and birthday). It was so good that it needs a close-up shot.

Until next year...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Triple-Layer Birthday

A certain hubby of mine recently turned 30 and I found it appropriate to raise (literally) his standard birthday cake to new levels. Three of them to be exact.

I almost considered this gorgeous cake (with chocolate frosting throughout, of course), but I chickened out at the last minute since it was a new recipe and an important birthday. I noticed when making the cream-filled chocolate cupcakes earlier in the week that the cupcakes didn't really "dome" much—which would be perfect for a layer cake. When the layers get too rounded at the top, they become difficult to stack unless you trim them (and I'm just not advanced enough for that).

I won't duplicate the recipe here (it's right below this one!) but since I only have two 9-inch round cake pans, I used one 24-cupcake recipe to evenly fill two pans (be sure to butter and flour the pans first!), baked that off, let cool, released from pans, etc., then made a half recipe of the cupcake recipe to fill one more cake pan. However, since you can't really halve three eggs, I did want to mention that I used just one egg in the halved recipe and everything turned out just fine.

Cooking time varied slightly as well, with two pans in the oven taking about 33 minutes to fully cook (but test on your own with a toothpick).

I doubled the chocolate buttercream frosting (rather than multiplying by 1.5) and that was a good idea since there's so much surface area on a triple-layer cake (and hubby is all about the frosting anyway).

Finally, to pipe on the lettering, I used a basic vanilla buttercream recipe—just a small batch. I'd double the following recipe if you wanted to use it to actually frost anything like a batch of cupcakes. This is the recipe given to us at the Sur La Table class and is used on the whoopie pies as the filling. You could add some food coloring if you'd like!

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1/4 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1.5 c. powdered sugar
1.5 T. heavy whipping cream—milk will definitely do though
1/2 t. vanilla extract (or my new favorite paste if you want the flecks!)
pinch of salt

Cream butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, starting on low and increasing speed to medium, until mixture is crumbly, about 1 minute. Add the heavy cream, vanilla, and salt and beat on high until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scoop into piping bag or large zip-top bag with the corner snipped to pipe on details.

Happy birthday!

Retro Desserts: Cream-filled Chocolate Cupcakes

My friend M and I decided to take a class at our local Sur La Table recently. The title was "Retro Desserts" and the menu included cream-filled chocolate cupcakes (think Hostess cupcakes), chocolate whoopie pies, baked doughnuts, and strawberry chiffon pies. The hands-down favorites were the cupcakes and the whoopie pies (recipe to come at a later date!).

I was never a huge fan of the Hostess cupcake growing up, but I certainly had it in my lunch from time to time. I guess you could say that although I wanted processed lunches like every other elementary schooler, I was likely a dessert snob from day one. These cupcakes are a great update on a "classic"... can you see vanilla bean flecks (I adore this vanilla bean paste) in the original? Don't think so.

Also? They were fun to make, even if it does include a large chunk of time for cooling/filling/frosting/decorating... and dishes. It was only my second attempt at a filled cupcake (using the cone method), but the results were impressive. I'm making several dozen to bring into work this week (update: it was a huge, huge success)! Check back later too. The cake recipe was so incredibly moist and delicious that I turned this cupcake recipe into a triple-layer cake for my husband's 30th birthday. Details to come!

Cream-filled Chocolate Cupcakes
makes 24
1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 c. sour cream (low-fat or regular will do)
1 t. vanilla extract
2 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. cocoa powder
2 oz. dark chocolate (I used 1/3 c. bittersweet morsels)
1 cup water, boiling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line two 12-cup muffin tins (or one muffin tin in two batches!).

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by about half of the sour cream and all of the vanilla.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on, add about half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, followed by the remaining sour cream, followed by the remainder of the flour mixture, mixing well between additions. Mix just until no streaks of flour remain (overmixing flour = tough cupcakes).

Measure out 1 c. water in a glass measuring cup and microwave until boiling. Whisk cocoa powder and dark chocolate into the boiling water until well combined. Gradually pour "chocolate water" into the batter and stir (by hand—it will splatter if you use the mixer!) until uniform in color.

Evenly distribute batter into prepared baking cups. Bake for 15–17 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the cakes spring back slightly when lightly pressed. Turn cupcakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely before filling or frosting.

Vanilla Cream Filling:
3 T. flour
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. unsalted butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla extract (or 1/2 scraped vanilla bean, etc.)

Whisk together the flour and milk and cook in a small saucepan over medium heat until thick. This will only take a few minutes. Stir continuously to avoid clumping and do not bring all the way to a boil. When thickened (consistency of a thin pudding), strain with a mesh strainer into a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let cool completely to room temperature.

When the milk mixture is cool, cream the butter and sugar together in a medium bowl until light. Add in the milk/flour mixture and the vanilla and beat at high speed with an electric mixer for 7 minutes, until light and very fluffy. Scrape into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (or a large zip-top plastic bag with the corner cut off) and set aside until ready to fill your cupcakes.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c. cocoa powder
2–3 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. milk
1 t. vanilla extract

Cream butter well with an electric mixer. Add cocoa and powdered sugar alternately with milk. Add vanilla. Beat to smooth, thick (but still spreadable) consistency—add more milk a little at a time if needed. Taste often!

Take a completely cooled cupcake and, using a small paring knife, cut a cone of cake (1 inch across by 1 inch deep) out of the top. Trim off pointy end of cone (you can eat that!), leaving a flat circle of cake. Set to the side and continue process for all cupcakes.

Take the cream filling and squeeze a tablespoon or so into each cupcake cavity. Top off with the flat circle of cake to plug up the hole and keep the filling in place.

Using a small offset spatula, frost each cupcake with a layer of chocolate buttercream. Spread from the center to the sides to evenly cover the cake plug and help prevent tearing/crumbs.

If you have leftover vanilla cream filling, transfer it to a fresh zip-top bag, cut off a very small opening in one corner of the bag, and pipe a decorative swirl down the center of each cupcake. Store cupcakes in an airtight container.

Here are Miss M's cute swirls!

Check back at another time for the other recipes (and by "other recipes" I mean the chocolate ones... so whoopie pies!).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nigella's Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Sauce

Hold on to your aprons, everyone.

If you dream in peanut butter and chocolate, make this recipe. You'll thank me. As Nigella says, "Hand them 'round and wait for people to weep with gratitude."

The expectant momma from my previous post mentions this fudge sauce enough that we thought it would be an excellent idea to make it for her surprise baby shower for an ice cream sundae bar. I had a slight issue with the ingredients separating due to some confusion between the British and the American recipe (and different ingredients), but I got it all sorted out for Mother's Day to serve on top of these brownies. Both times, the sundaes were devoured in complete silence. Eerie, really. I think that's a good sign. :) Speechless!

Nigella's Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Sauce
3/4 c. heavy cream
4 ounces chocolate, chopped (about 2/3 c. semisweet morsels was perfect)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
3 T. sweetened condensed milk
Salted peanuts, roughly chopped or left whole to taste (garnish)
ice cream of your choosing

Put the cream, chocolate, peanut butter, and sweetened condensed milk into a saucepan and put it on the heat to melt, stirring occasionally. In about 2 minutes you should have your sauce ready.

Get out four sundae glasses and put a few scoops of ice cream in each (Nigella recommends toffee, caramel, chocolate, and vanilla).

Pour the warm chocolate peanut butter fudge sauce over the ice cream and sprinkle with salted peanuts or other toppings of your choice.

It's that simple yet that divine!

Cocoa Brownies

There's no point in reinventing the wheel here. SmittenKitchen recently blogged about these brownies, I was craving brownie sundaes and needed a recipe for Mother's Day, I made the life-changing discovery that Ghirardelli cocoa is actually cheaper per ounce (at least at my Safeway) than Hershey cocoa (hey, inkpadchocolate is on a budget, sometimes), and SHAZAM. I had to make these brownies.

SK makes the astute observation that the opposite of sweet is not always bitter. Sometimes it's just... intense chocolate. These are super good with ice cream, but keep in mind that I'd probably enjoy ice cream on sauerkraut. (Hmm, that might actually be good...)

Sorry, no time to take many pictures. The moms demanded brownies!

SK's Cocoa Brownies
(which she adapted from Alice Medrich's Bittersweet)
10 T. (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. + 2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch (I used 9x9) square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

(What? You don't use garlic and scissors to prevent your parchment from curling? Weirdos. It's all about WHAT YOU HAVE ON HAND.)

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl above a saucepan of barely simmering water—or use a heatproof glass bowl and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each round. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test (ouch!—about 3 minutes in the microwave for me, stirring every 30 seconds). Remove the bowl from the saucepan or microwave and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. It looks fairly gritty at this point, but don’t fret—it smooths out once the eggs and flour are added.

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon (I used a rubber spatula—it's fine!). Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes is Medrich’s suggestion but it took SK at least 10 minutes longer to get them set (me, too). Let cool completely on a rack. (SK goes further and throws it in the fridge or freezer for a while to be able to cut with clean lines.)

Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares. (Ha! SK must live in a portion-controlled dream world! I'm not at all embarrassed to say that I got NINE brownies. It was beautiful. A proud moment.) Serve with ice cream, and perhaps, Nigella's peanut butter fudge sauce, coming soon to a blog near you. (I warmed the brownies up in the microwave first—nothing makes me happier than a molten sundae!)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Texas Sheet Cake

Sorry for the blogging hiatus, but I have a bunch of exciting, super chocolatey recipes waiting in the wings!

I've never been to Texas, but I do love this cake (and that show; hooray, it's back!). I'm no authority on the subject, but from what I've read, this is an old-fashioned, simple, traditional potluck dessert in the South—which was exactly what I needed for an event this weekend. Oh, and it's freaking delicious.

The recipe that inspired me to try it was this one (and I'm grateful to her for the frosting recipe), but I ended up going with an oldie but goodie: a recipe posted in the Washington Post on May 30, 1974 (Thanks, Google)! While almost all recipes were virtually identical, why this one? Sour cream. I'm a sucker for cakes made with sour cream/yogurt/mayo. So moist! But, have a glass of milk ready for this one. It's a stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth cake. But who said that's a bad thing?

I'm in a retro mood after a cooking class I took this weekend (details and recipes to come), and what's more, this cake is all beaten by hand with a spoon. No mixer needed!

Texas Sheet Cake
adapted from the Washington Post
1 c. (2 sticks) butter (I used unsalted)
4 T. cocoa
1 c. water
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
2 eggs, fork beaten
1/2 c. sour cream (but milk will do if you don't have it on hand)
1 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour* a 13x9-inch pan (called for metal but I only have glass). (*To "flour" a pan when the cake is chocolate, use cocoa so the flour won't show, though it likely won't matter all that much.)

In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa, and water and bring to a boil.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda.

Pour the hot ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir well with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Add the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla and stir until batter is very smooth.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. While the cake is baking, prepare the frosting (it's frosted when warm).

Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool. Immediately pour the frosting over the warm cake and spread evenly. Let the cake cool completely before cutting.

1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter
3 T. milk
2 T. cocoa
dash of salt
1 t. vanilla
2 c. powdered sugar

In a medium saucepan, combine butter, milk, cocoa, salt, and vanilla. Bring to a boil.

Place the powdered sugar in a large bowl and pour the hot ingredients over the powdered sugar and mix with a wooden spoon until the frosting is very smooth. Add chopped walnuts if desired. Frost cake as indicated above.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Compost Cookies (aka Pregnancy Craving Cookies)

These are fun cookies. Created by a woman who eats pie for breakfast and ice cream for dinner, these cookies are from Momofuku Milk Bar, a concept that could only work in New York, I think. I haven't had the pleasure of trying the cookies from the actual bakery yet (too much food, too little time), but considering two of my friends individually sent me this recipe, I knew I had to give it a try.

My friend is expecting a little Sprout in July and a few of us decided to throw her a surprise "un-baby shower" (i.e., a party in her honor but without cheesy games that make some moms-to-be uncomfortable), and since these cookies are loaded with, well, junk, I decided to rename them Pregnancy Craving Cookies for the occasion. :)

These are so versatile; you could really add just about anything. I tried to keep it as close to the original as possible (which is apparently potato chips, pretzels, coffee grounds, chocolate chips, oats, and butterscotch chips), but other fun options include Fritos, raisins, Raisinettes, Cocoa Krispies, coconut, peanut butter chips, goldfish, Ritz...

Be sure you allow the dough to cool in the fridge for at least an hour before baking. (Reading the recipe all the way through before starting is always a good thing to do so you can be prepared!) If you like these, you might also like Martha's Cowboy Cookies.

Compost Cookies (from Momofuku Milk Bar, NYC)
1 c. butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1 T. light corn syrup
1 t. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 3/4 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
2 t. salt (I used about 1.5 t.)
1 1/2 c. your favorite baking ingredients! (I used chocolate chips and butterscotch chips)
1 1/2 c. your favorite snack foods! (I used ridged potato chips and pretzel sticks, broken into pieces)

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugars, and corn syrup on medium high for 2–3 minutes until fluffy and pale yellow.

On a lower speed, add eggs and vanilla. Increase mixing speed to medium-high and start a timer for 10 minutes. During this time, the sugar will fully dissolve, the mixture will become an almost pale white color, and the creamed mixture will double in size.

When time is up, on a lower speed, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix 45–60 seconds just until the dough comes together and there are no streaks of dry ingredients. Do not overmix the dough.

On low speed, add in your favorite baking ingredients and mix for 30–45 seconds until they evenly mix into the dough. Add in your favorite snack foods last, mixing again on low speed until they are just incorporated. (You may need to mix these in by hand a little bit!)

(If junk food in cookies is wrong, I don't want to be right.)

Using an ice cream scoop, portion cookie dough onto a parchment or wax paper lined cookie sheet. (You will not bake on this parchment. It's for refrigerating the dough only; hence, I just used cheap wax paper.)

Wrap scooped cookie dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 1 week. DO NOT BAKE your cookies from room temperature or they will not hold their shape.

After the hour is up, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange your chilled cookie dough balls on a parchment or Silpat-lined sheetpan a minimum of 4" apart in any direction. Bake 9–11 minutes (I needed the full 11) or until browned on the edges and just beginning to brown towards the center. While in the oven, the cookies will puff, crackle, and spread. Cool the cookies on the cookie sheet for several minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container or tin.

And this photo I shall call parchment (left) vs. Silpat (right). On a Silpat, the cookies kept their shape... just sayin'. I will always prefer the Silpat!!!

Happy Un-Shower!

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