Tag Archives: baking

Coconut Macaroons

22 Mar

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Because my family had a very loving relationship with food, many of my first memories involve being in a kitchen. At an early age I quickly learned that dessert was my absolute favorite thing– Who am I kidding? It still is!

One day when I was 7 years old, my grandma took pity on me and let me assist in the kitchen. For most kids my age, this meant making something simple like rice krispy treats. But not me, I was going to make coconut macaroons.

I remember tossing the ingredients into the bowl and blending it with my hands. Being a messy kid, I found this step endlessly entertaining. Carefully shaping the mixture into tiny balls, I was surprised at how easy it was to make something so incredibly delicious. Watching the shiny orbs turn a caramelized, golden brown in the oven, I never could have imagined that they would taste like candied sunshine.

Coconut Macaroons

Ingredients:

2 egg whites
2 Tbsp sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups sweetened flake coconut

Mix together all ingredients until well combined (you can use a spoon or your hands!). Divide mixture into 8ths, and roll into well-packed rounds. Drop onto foiled baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes at 300 degrees.

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Whoopie Pies

15 Mar

moonpies

Whoopie Pies, also affectionately known as Moon Pies, were definitely a childhood favorite. These chewy, chocolate cookies cushioning a pillow of marshmallow fluff were the coveted snack of my elementary school lunchroom days. Luckily, becoming friends with Shauna meant that I had a constant supply of my favorite goody.

I’m going into my archives for this recipe which comes from Shauna, who was the queen of Whoopie Pies. Her’s were by far the best and most desired by classmates. We would hide them under our desks during class so we wouldn’t get caught snacking by the teachers.

I’ve seen versions of this recipe where people use frosting or buttercream filling, but there’s nothing like chewy, sticky marshmallow fluff for a Whoopie Pie. I definitely give this recipe an A+.

WHOOPIE PIES

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1 stick soft butter
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup milk
3 cups marshmallow fluff

Cream together butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add egg and mix on low until combined. Alternate adding ⅓ of dry ingredients and ⅓ milk as to not overwhelm and clump mixture. Repeat on low speed until batter has barely come together. Spoon onto greased baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool and sandwich with fluff.

Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

25 Feb

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I’m going to confess something: I have a really bad habit of buying really nice loaves of fresh-baked bread with all the good intentions of making delicious sandwiches and then totally forgetting about them. This past weekend, my guy Stephen was pretty bummed when he went searching for bread and found a dry, week-old slab that just wasn’t cutting it as sandwich material. It seemed like a total loss until I found some chocolate chips lying around and decided that making bread pudding was the perfect apology and fix for such a sad situation. I grabbed a serrated knife and got to work. A little while later, I had a much happier companion and no stale bread!

Not only is this recipe great for using up older bread (fresh bread is perfectly okay too!), the add-ins and even the type of bread can be different every time. For example, chocolate brioche with dried cranberries makes an amazing wintry treat, or you can use sourdough and add nuts. If you really want to go out on a limb, cut the sugar amount in half to make a savory bread pudding; sausage and fennel with a cheddar cheese topping is my favorite. The options are unlimited.

For this recipe, the temperature is set to 325 degrees, but I prefer to aim lower at 300. It’ll take a little longer, but it will ensure that your eggs don’t overcook and nothing burns. You will also have to use a water bath, but don’t worry; find a baking dish that the bread pudding will sit comfortably in, set it in the oven and pour water to fill the pan, only halfway up. When it’s time to take it out, use oven mitts to extract only the pan with the bread pudding in it. Leave the water bath in the oven until it cools and can be safely taken out without burning yourself. Also, the timing on this has a little wiggle room since the bread needs about 15 minutes to really soak up the custard mixture.

Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups of cubed bread (I like using challah for this recipe because it’s a rich bread)
3 eggs
1 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of milk
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup chocolate chips

Combine all wet ingredients and spices and whisk together well until it is a smooth mixture. Put bread in 6-8 inch pan and pour egg mixture over bread. Sprinkle chocolate chips and put in a 300 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Serve warm!

Raspberry Linzer Cookies Recipe

22 Feb

raspberry-linzer-cookie_sized

When I was invited to my friend Jayson’s dinner party, I went in search of the perfect cookie recipe to bring for dessert. I had just moved into my new place and only had one baking sheet, my KitchenAid mixer and a rolling pin unpacked.

I remembered a cookie that my college friends and I used to make when we were obsessed with British culture and insisted on having High Tea on the weekends. The Linzer Cookie. The crumbly, sandy cookie combined with the sweet jam was always a winner. We fought over them to the last crumb. They go perfectly with Earl Grey tea, and make wonderful take-home presents as well.

I love the playfulness of this cookie, because you can try using different cookie cutters to match the theme of your party. I like doing a classic heart cut-out top (pictured above) but you can also do fun shapes like teacups, crowns or mustaches. Never underestimate the power of a good cookie cutter!

Some tips I’d suggest: The prep time for this recipe is relatively quick since the jam can be store bought, but make sure the cookies are totally cooled down before adding jam, otherwise the jam will melt and make a huge mess! Also, make the dough a day ahead so it can rest in the refrigerator before you roll it. This gives it time to relax and prevents your shapes from warping when they bake.

So turn on the latest Downton Abbey episode and get baking.

Raspberry Linzer Cookies

2/3 cup toasted almonds
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 12-oz jar seedless raspberry jam

Directions:

Pulse toasted nuts and ½ of the brown sugar in a food processor until smooth.
Whisk together remaining dry ingredients in a bowl. In a mixing bowl, combine butter and remaining ½ of sugar until light and fluffy. Add nut mixture and mix until fully incorporated. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract. Reduce mixer to low speed and add dry ingredients in two segments, mixing until just barely combined. Wrap and chill dough overnight. Roll out to about ⅛ of an inch and cut as desired. Bake at 350* for about 12 minutes, or until edges are barely golden. When cooled, pipe jam so that there is a margin between it and the edge of the cookie. Gently press on cookie tops, dust with powdered sugar and dig in!

What I Want for Christmas: A Quirky Wish List for the Innovative Baker

22 Dec

bf8b1bd4ef819bd35c28b0e601ff4c57Half the fun of having kitchen gadgets is showing them off. Look! I made a batch of brownies that are all edge pieces. Here’s a list of funky baking goodies for the baker who has everything:

Bake two pies at once, a pie tin for indecisive cravings.

Sample your cake before you share it with this “piece for the baker” cake pan.

Bake a cake in any shape you mold with this innovative cake pan.

Never slice again, or just make many slices differently with this portioned cake pan.

Are you a fan of edge pieces? Exclude the middle with this brownie, blondie or cornbread maker.

Do all your measuring with one cup. Adjustable amounts and easy to pop into the bowl (a great tool for sticky substances like shortening).

Bake a mustache cake for your ironically inclined friends.

Empty your cupcake center neatly and fill it back up.

I didn’t even know cakesicles existed, but now you can make them (handles included!)

Put the baking tray right on a rack, a great cooling method for a tiny kitchen.

Have a great holiday with your new gadgets!

[ Photo via Koyal Wholesale ]

Chai Pumpkin Pie

18 Nov

If you’ve ever made pumpkin pie without using pumpkin spice mix, and likewise, made your own chai without the tea mix, you may have realized that the two are not dissimilar. In fact, the only spices that separate them are cardamom, allspice and occasionally black pepper. So why not combine the two? Here’s an easy way to spice up your classic Thanksgiving dessert, without adding prep time! Continue reading

You can’t go wrong with chocolate (especially Halloween chocolate)

1 Nov

“Anything is good if it’s made of chocolate.”

-Jo Brand

Speaking of chocolate: Here is our food writer Emily’s go-to Mexican Hot Chocolate recipe for banishing cold weather blues and using up holiday chocolates!

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What is Your Favorite Pecan Recipe?

11 Oct

We can’t get enough of pecans this fall.  Here is our favorite recipe; what’s yours?

3 Political Cookie Recipes for Homemade Cookies Day

1 Oct

As the presidential race heats up this fall, we have three fabulous cookie recipes to heat up your kitchen.

We’ve got:

  1. Bill Clinton’s Oatmeal Cookies
  2. Laura Bush’s Cowboy Cookies
  3. Thin Mints (Obama’s favorite Girl Scout Cookies)

Thin Mints (Obama’s Favorite Girl Scout cookies)

15 Sep

Despite living in the White House and being the president of the United States, Barack Obama is just like us.  He rides his bike through town, splashes around at the beach, goes to church, and even buys Girl Scout cookies!  He recently revealed that thin mints are his favorite, and we’ve got a recipe for you to make these cookies at home so you, too, can feel like the president.  They do take a bit longer to make than your average chocolate chip cookie, but they’re so worth it—have you ever heard of anyone making their own thin mints?

Homemade Thin Mints Recipe

Ingredients
For chocolate wafers:

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups cake or all-purpose flour

For chocolate peppermint coating:

1 package mint chocolate candy melts, OR 1 lb. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 tsp. peppermint extract

Directions

Cream the butter until light and fluffy.  Add powdered sugar and continue to cream.  Stir in the vanilla, salt, and cocoa powder.  Mix until the cocoa powder is fully integrated and batter is smooth and creamy; it should look like thick chocolate frosting.  Add the flour and mix until the batter is a little crumbly.  Gather dough into a ball and knead it into a smooth mass.  Divide the dough in 2, flatten into disks, and cover in plastic wrap.  Chill in refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°.  Roll dough out really thin, about 1/8 inch, between two sheets of plastic, or on counter dusted with flour.  If dough is too hard to roll, you can microwave it for 5 seconds.  Cut out cookies and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove them and let cool on a rack.

As the cookies bake/cool, you can prepare the chocolate coating.  Using a double boiler, slowly melt the chocolate (or mint chocolate candy melts), stirring occasionally until smooth.  Or, you can heat it in the microwave in short intervals, about 15-20 seconds each time.  If it’s too thick, you can add 1 tbsp of shortening.  Stir in peppermint extract (unless you’re using mint chocolate candy melts).

Carefully drop cookies one at a time into chocolate coating, making sure to coat all sides.  Lift cookie out of chocolate with a fork, and hit fork on the side of the pan to get rid of any extra chocolate.  You want the cookie to have a thin coating of chocolate.  Place cookie on a parchment covered baking sheet, and repeat for the rest of the cookies.  Place cookies in refrigerator/freezer to set.

Adapted from In Katrina’s Kitchen.

Photo by carol (CC-BY-2.5), via Wikimedia Commons

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