Chocolate Chubbies

Recently I was forced to take a day off from work and stay home to nurse Marshmellow’s nasty cold.

[Side note: as a mom, I have the hardest time deciding when a kid should stay home.  I mean…it’s a cold, right?  And the germs were more potent the week before we even knew there was an illness looming.  But the cough that morning sounded kinda nasty and she gave me sad puppy dog eyes.  So I changed back into my pajamas.]

The time at home gave me a chance to catch up on old emails and all of the blogs I like to follow.   Blogs are like a drug.  And they feed into the HGTV syndrome.  You know the one.  The one where you watch other people being creative and awesome and you immediately want to do it yourself, but you know in the long run it will never turn out as good so you don’t even bother.  Yeah, that one.  But baking is something I can do!

“Hey Marshmellow, what feel-better treat would you like mommy to make you?”

“What are my choices?”

“Anything you want!  Cookies, cake, bars, a special lunch.  Anything.”

“I do like cake…but…I like cookies too.  What kind of cookies would you make?”

“That’s up to you sweetie.  What ingredient do you want?”

“CHOCOLATE!”

Back to the computer I went in search of different chocolate cookie recipes.  Marshmellow quickly followed and helped in the selection process.  We eventually came down to two choices: Chocolate Chubbies and Chocolate Ginger Molasses Cookies, both found on Serious Eats.

We determined that there was TONS of chocolate in the Chocolate Chubbies, so they won.  This time.

After a quick run to the grocery store, I was back in the kitchen.  I sent Marshmellow to the couch for some rest, which allowed me to go about my merry way.  All. By.  Myself.

I find the whole baking process to be very therapeutic.  Especially if I am allowed to do it without kids fighting over which ingredient they get to pour in, who gets to stir, they’ve had the spoon longer, I wanted that one….  I also find the smell of melting chocolate intoxicating.  And who can resist warm cookies?

I never can remember.  Is is starve a cold, feed a fever or feed a cold, starve a fever? Actually, who cares?  I find both of them to be ridiculous.  Who ever thought starving a sick person was a good idea anyway?

Marshmellow and I enjoyed a few warm Chocolate Chubbies and snuggled together on the couch.  I’d say the feel-better treat was a big hit.

Eat.  And enjoy every bite.

sam

Chocolate Chubbies

Makes: 2 dozen cookies

Recipe from Serious Eats

1 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
9 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

  • Preheat over to 350° F
  • Line your baking sheets with parchment paper
  • Melt the butter on the stove using a double-boiler.  Add the bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate, stirring often, until all chocolate is melted and smooth.  Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
  • Sift the flour, baking powers and salt together in a medium bowl.
  • Whip the eggs using the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until the eggs are foamy and lightly thickened, about 30 seconds.  Increase the speed to high and gradually add the sugar, then vanilla.  Whip until the eggs are very thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes.
  • Reduce speed to medium and add the cooled chocolate until incorporated.
  • Place the paddle attachment on the mixer and reduce speed to low.  Slowly add the flour mixture.
  • Using a wooden spoon, gently stir in the chocolate chips, pecans and walnuts until well mixed.  The dough will be soft.
  • Scoop batter onto pans about 1 1/2 inches apart.  Bake immediately if you want your cookies to look shiny.
  • Bake 17 to 20 minutes, rotating the pan half way through.  The cookies will be done with the edges release easily, even if the center seems underdone.

BTS Tip:

My first batch I just dropped the dough on the pans.  The second batch I rolled them.  I personally like the look of the rolled ones better.

Since these were the feel-better treat, I went all out and bought Ghiradelli chocolate chips and bittersweet chocolate bars.  This made this little cookies ridiculous expensive.  Next time, I’ll try the store brand chocolate.  I bet they taste just as awesome.

My office raved about these cookies…so I think these are approved to serve at gatherings.

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Naughty Bars

Back in June, I spent a nice weekend with my Great Aunt in Minneapolis and came across her Penzeys Spice magazine and catalog.  There I was, mindlessly flipping through the pages when…BAMNaughty Bars appear on the page.  In between pages of spices are cute little stories from their readers and a recipe they like to make.  Well, Monica likes it naughty.

So what do you do when you come across a Midwestern gem like this?  You snap a picture of the recipe with your phone.

Yes, I’m the freak who takes a picture of just about everything.  Pictures aren’t just for cute kids any more.  I take photos of items and price tags at stores.  I capture the plate of food before I eat it.  I send snapshots of a potential outfit to my best friend for approval.  And anything else I need to remember, but know I will forget without photographic evidence.  Which is increasing in frequency.

My mom says one of the joys of getting old is having the benefit of learning something twice.  Skimming my pictures last week, I came across this recipe and got excited all over again.  But this time…I was at home and was able to do something about it.

The great thing about these Naughty Bars (or brown sugar bars as my mom remembers them), is the simple ingredient list.  No running to the store for some obscure ingredient that none of the sales clerks no what isle it might be in.  Just your basics:  butter, eggs, flour and brown sugar.

Also, it takes just a few minutes to pull all the ingredients out, mix them together an get them in the oven.

Morale of this story:  make some Naughty Bars to have a quick, simple, and comforting dessert.

Eat.  And enjoy every bite.

sam

Naughty Bars

Prep time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 15

Recipe from Penzeys 

2 sticks butter (1 cup)
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tps vanilla
2 cups flour
2 large eggs

  • Preheat over to 350° F
  • Grease a 9×13 pan with butter
  • In glass bowl, melt butter on high for 30 seconds or until almost completely melted
  • Using a wooden spoon, mix in brown sugar until completed mixed
  • Add baking powder, salt and vanilla and mix well
  • Gradually add the flour and mix well – the batter will be stiff
  • Whisk the eggs well in a small bowl and add them to the batter, mixing well one last time
  • Spread the batter into prepared pan and bake until golden around the edges and the center is still soft, about 30 minutes
  • DO NOT OVER BAKE!
  • Let cool completely before cutting into small squares.

They go together quickly and there are NEVER any left over!

BTS Tip:

Serve a la mode.  Because everything is better with ice cream.

Cell Phone Pic

Lavender Shortbread

I was treated to not one, but two different lavender desserts while in the lush state of Washington.  The first was a devine lavender cookie from Blackbird Bakery located on Winslow Way of Bainbridge Island.  It was enjoyed outside sitting at an old fashioned concrete chess table under a shade tree.  The second was from Three Girls Bakery in the Post Aly of Pikes Place Market while watching the world walk by. 

Knowing I was making lavender lemonaide for an upcoming bridal shower, I immediately decided another layer was going toadded to the menu.  After all, I already had lavender flowers in the house.  A few internet searches later, I found the one I was ready to try.

Look a the beauty of the lavender flowers with the bright yellow lemon zest.  Love.

This was my first attempt in shortbread.  I was suprised at the lack of ingredients and the look of simplicity reading the instrustions.  Then I was taken by surprise by how few cookies it made and quickly decided that another double batch was in oder. 

They were so yummy, I decided that they were going to be part of my take-home treats for our guests.

Thank God for good neighbors…I was two eggs short for the last batch.  To reward her for  her generosity, she was presented with the final product.  She came back to thank me!Let me tell you why you need to make these for your next party: Rolling out the dough to make the cut outs is like playing with stress releiving playdough.  No joke.  In the midst of party planning, food prep and house cleaning, the scent of lavender and the slow, intentional motions forming perfect hearts and flowers was so calming.  And if it can calm my craziness, just imagine what it can do for you.

Eat.  And enjoy every bite.

sam

Lavender Shortbread

¾ cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp dried lavender
10 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 tsp lemon zest
1¾ cup  flour
3 large egg yolks
1 cup  sugar, for coating

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Gently mix the powdered sugar and lavender together in a bowl
  • In a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, lemon zest and lavender/sugar until smooth
  • Add the flour and mix until well combined
  • Add the egg yolks and mix just until the eggs are fully incorporated
  • Chill the dough in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, not letting the dough get too firm
  • Roll the dough out to 1.5cm thickness
  • Pick your favorite cookie cutter and go to town
  • Dip each cut out into the granulated sugar, coating all sides
  • Bake on the parchment lined pan for 15-20 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges

Makes about 12-15  small cookies.

Recipe adapted from this blog post from Milk and Cookies.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake

Remember how I said that Annie’s Eats was my current favorite food blog?  Well, I’m here to show you just another sweet reason it should be yours too.

My husband, aka. The Banker, is a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy.  He likes things simple.   He prefers his dessert to be chocolate cake from a box with chocolate frosting from the tub.  He rolls his eyes when I opt to use my creative side while baking.  [I get the full head shake when the camera comes out.]  He finds it quite unnecessary.  Pillsbury does it just fine for him.  But if I insist on stepping outside of the box, it better be something he might like.

It was a Saturday morning and I wanted to tap my kitchen creativity.  So I gave him a stack of my printed off recipes that I wanted to try.  I watched him flip through the pages, occasionally looking up at me like I was a nut job.  Apparently, anything with a fruit in the title is an unacceptable dessert. But then…

Chocolate Cake + Peanut Butter Frosting = Approved

This time, it was The Banker who picked a Annie’s Eats recipe.  It was the Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake and you can click on over to her recipe here.  I was initially pulled in by her beautiful presentation of this handsome cake on wood pedestal.  And with peanut butter cups sitting on top, I figured it might be a winner for The Banker.

In preparing my grocery store list, I discovered there were three sticks of butter in the cake and another three sticks of butter in the frosting.  Dear Lord, that’s a pound and a half of BUTTER!  I kept waiting to see that this was a Paula Dean recipe.  Nope.  Just a lot of butta.

Outside of all that butter, I knew this was going to be a good cake since she calls for sour cream AND instant coffee powder.  Two key ingredients for making a tasty and moist chocolate cake.  The only instant coffee powder I had in the house was Starbucks Vanilla VIA.  I figured if vanilla extract is good, a little vanilla coffee can’t hurt.  And it didn’t.

Tip: always add some instant coffee in with your water for any chocolate cake you make.  You can thank me later.  [And no, it doesn’t make the cake taste like coffee.  The Banker was very concerned about this the first time he saw me doing this.]

Tip:  if you have a little helper in the kitchen who insists on cracking eggs, use a separate bowl.  This is also a good suggestion if you are just a sloppy egg-cracker.  Don’t be ashamed, just plan ahead.  And to get those pesky egg shells out, wet your finger before you start fishing.  It really works.

Tip:  When baking with round pans, it is always best to use parchment paper to line the bottoms.  It prevents the top of the cake from sticking to the pan.  I like to start with lining and dusting my pans before I touch my other ingredients. Perhaps I should have opened with this tip.

When the cakes make it into the oven, it’s time to tackle the peanut butter frosting.  Mmmm… just let that sink in for  a minute.  Peanut.  Butter.  Frosting.

Okay, I’ll admit I could not bring myself to use another three sticks of butter.  First of all, that’s just a ton of butter.  Also, I was only making a two layer cake rather than the three layer cake the recipe was set up for.  I figured I didn’t need as much frosting.  I also cut down the amount of cream and powdered sugar to balance it all out.

Tip:  Annie suggests changing the measurements if you aren’t using three 8-inch cake pans.  I think it causes unnecessary brain damage to change 1 1/4 tsp of baking soda by a third.  That’s just too many fractions for this scatterbrain.

Tip:  fill what ever pans you are using about 2/3 full, leaving room for the cake batter to expand, but not overflow.  [A mistake I have made.]  Make cupcakes with any left over batter.  I used two 9-inch cake pans and was able to make about 10 cupcakes.

Eat:  And enjoy every bite!

Now I realize I’ve done two desserts.  I’ll try to balance this out and pick a different food group from a different blog for my next food post.

sam

Oreo Cheesecake Bites

I’ve said this on my other blog, but i feel it is important to repeat it:

There are some really amazing food blogs out there.  This is NOT one of them. 

I’m neither an amazing blogger nor an amazing baker.  I do, however, enjoy blogging and baking.  And I would really love to practice both of them more often.  Sadly, my husband repeatedly tells me I cannot stay home just to make things to blog about.  Something about needing to pay bills…

[insert awkward silence here]

Annie’s Eats is my current fav food blogs.  I stumbled on her site purely by accident while killing time on Pintrest.  And I found myself bookmarking all kinds of wonderful recipes.  Annie IS an amazing food blogger.  And I’m not even jealous.

One of the first recipes I found and knew I had to try were her Oreo Cheesecake Bars.  You can find her recipe and directions here.  And since she’s already played around with the recipe, you just have to follow her modifications.

One of the very first steps is to put the Oreos into a food processor.  SCORE!  Now this might not sound exciting to you, but I received my very first food processor as a Christmas gift.  And then all of a sudden, NONE of the recipes I wanted to make needed a darn food processor.  So for six months, it sat in the bottom of my cupboard.  Finally I had a reason to use it!  Even if it was just to crush up a bunch of cookies.

Rather than spending too much time reading the instruction manual, I just pulled up a YouTube video to show me. It just seemed easier that way. And it was.

I used to assume that making cheesecake was too hard to attempt.  That surely I would screw it up.  But then I had a friend convince me it really isn’t that hard.  And at the end, you have delicious cheesecake to reward yourself for your efforts.  So I made a lemon cheesecake and found a blueberry topping to make.  It. Was.  Delicious.    And now I’m not scared anymore.

Wait, what was I talking about?  Oh yes, the Oreo Cheesecake Bars.  Sorry for the sidetrack there.

I made these on a Wednesday night.  Which if you knew me, you would know I don’t attempt too much on a school night.  Between my two kids and my full time job, there just isn’t much left of me at the end of the day.  But these really are that easy.

First, you make your Oreo crust.  Which is just crushed up cookies and butter.  Simple.

Then, you gather your ingredients for the filling and use your mixer to beat them together.  Sure, there’s some measuring to do and an order in which you add the ingredients to the mixture.  But still pretty easy.

Ingredients: cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, vanilla, salt and an egg

Next, you roughly chop a few more Oreos and add them to your cream cheese mixture.  Simple.

Try not to eat too many pieces before you mix them in. I know, it’s hard.

Bake, that’s right.  Pour your mixture into the crust and bake.  Sound hard yet?  Now admittedly, I should have baked these a bit longer and let the crust slightly brown.  But that would be for appearances only.

Chill.  Okay, this is the hard part.  It needs at least an hour on the counter and another three hours in the refrigerator.  I chilled mine overnight and cut up the bite-size pieces basically on my way out the door to our event.

I chose the flower-looking plate since it was being served at a reception for my daughter’s dance class.

Eat.  And enjoy every bite!

 

sam