Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oatmeal Cookies with Milk and White Chocolate Chips

When I had to go to the DMV this past month, I decided to make a game of it. I asked my friends to guess how long I would wait to be seen, and whoever was closest would get a set of custom cupcakes. The friend who won, however, does not live in the same town, so he picked out cookies, which can withstand the mailing process.

We begin by creaming 3/4th cup softened butter (1 1/2 sticks), 3/4th cup granulated sugar, and 3/4th cup light brown sugar (dark would be fine if you don't have light on hand).

The butter and sugar will clump together at first, but when that happens, you're only halfway there.

Keep going!

Still not done!

You want to whip the butter and sugar until it is light, fluffy, and sticks to the sides of the bowl.

Just right!

Add two eggs and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract and beat until well combined.

Add 1 1/4 cup AP flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp ground nutmeg, and 1 tsp ground cinnamon to the butter mixture. Mix slowly at first, as to avoid the dry mix flying out of the bowl. Once combined, you can put it to medium speed. Make sure the dough is well combined, but try not to over work the batter.

Add in 3 cups of oats, 1 cup of white chocolate chips, and 2/3 cup milk chocolate chips. I used 1 cup "Old Fashioned" or "Rolled Oats" and 2 cups "Quick Cooking Oats". You can use whatever combination you like, and you don't have to adjust the recipe. "Rolled Oats" require more liquid to cook, so they will create a more chewy cookie. "Quick Cooking Oats" require less liquid to cook, which makes for a softer, flakier cookie. Whichever combination you choose, I recommend that you use both kinds to give it a more complete texture.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. On a greased cookie sheet, place tablespoon sized rolled balls of dough at least an inch apart. They don't rise or spread out that much. Bake the cookies for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the edges start to brown just a little.

Let cool on cookie sheet for a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

International Nutella Day is 02/05 - Nutella Blondies

It is a well known fact, in my circle anyway, that my boyfriend desperately needs to go to NA, Nutella Anonymous. If he were a muppet, he'd be Nutella Monster and if Nutella made chocolate morsels, he'd slit Cookie Monster's throat for some Nutella Chip Cookies. Now that this hallowed day is over, and my boy is in a sated, diabetic sugar coma on the couch, I'm free to share the treat I made for the occasion.

Before we begin, I must note that the recipe I used was from the Martha Stewart holiday cookie special printing and calls for rough chopped hazelnuts. Normal grocery stores do not carry them year round, only during fall, starting in October. I've heard folklore and whispered legends that they carry them year round at Whole Foods, hippy grocery stores, and other such specialty food stores. I didn't find any and just subbed in pecans, though, I feel the hazelnuts would really have made the blondies much better.

Starting by preheating your oven to 350. In a stand mixer or using a hand whisk, whip together 4 tbsp softened butter and 1 plus 3/4th cups of light brown sugar, until light and fluffy. When you're half way there, it should ball together like this:

When you're finished, it will appear like so:

Add 2 whole eggs and 1 tsp vanilla extract. If I do this again, I will add 1 tbsp vanilla instead. This step is not a pretty one, as illustrated below:

Small children should avert their eyes, this is gross looking

Add in 2 cups AP flour, 1 tsp salt, and here's the part I'm gonna change. The recipe says to add 2 tsp baking powder. It made the blondies way more cake like than I expected, and I think it doesn't need it.

Once the dry mix is combined with the egg mix, throw in 1/3 cup toasted, roughly chopped hazelnuts and one giant blob of Nutella. Mix until combined.

Grease an 8in X 8in or 8in X 11in pan and drop all that deliciously, yummy batter into the pan. Make sure to spread evenly.

Bake for 25 minutes and check if it's done, i.e. a toothpick in the center comes out clean. My pan took 30 minutes.

Then while still a little warm, smother the top in Nutella.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting adapted from The Pioneer Woman's recipe

Click it, you know you can't resist
While I was in the grocery store picking up yeast for my soon to be blogged about yeast bread recipes, I was startled by my boyfriend abruptly yelling "CARROT CAKE!" With eyes wide, I looked at him in horror, he just blinked, smiled, and said that it would be nice to have some carrot cake. Lo and behold, carrot cake was made later that day. I used the basic recipe found on The Pioneer Woman's blog, adding a few extra ingredients so it's more flavorful.

I whipped out the food processor and shredded 2 cups of carrots. Using the stand mixer, I whisked together 2 cups sugar, 1 cup vegetable oil, and 4 whole eggs.

In this recipe, you're supposed to sift your dry ingredients together before adding. I didn't do that, I don't think it particularly matters, unlike how I should have in the Peanut Butter Balls recipe. So, go right ahead and dump 2 cups all-purpose (AP) flour 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp fine grain salt. Here's where I varied the recipe, I added not 1 tsp, but 2 tsp cinnamon, and added 1 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1 tsp ginger. If I make it again, I would up that to 1 tbsp cinnamon, 2 tsp nutmeg, 2 tsp vanilla extract, and 2 tsp ginger.

Once combined, add in the shredded carrots and mix until just combined. I baked these bad boys in mini bundt pans, like cupcakes. I also learned on an episode of Good Eats that the word "bundt" comes from the German word "bund" which means a gathering of people. Grease your cupcake pan/use cupcake liners, and bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the thickest part of the cake comes out clean.

On to the Cream Cheese Frosting! Now, most people don't know this particular little secret, but in my family, we don't actually use cream cheese in our cream cheese frosting OR in our cheesecakes! I know, you're shocked, confused, breath into your brown paper bag, and I'll explain. There is this amazing type of cheese most people don't know about, but can be found in the grocery store right next to the cream cheese, called Neufchâtel cheese. It's a bit tangier but 1/3 less fat and they don't do anything crazy to it to make it that way.

Using the stand mixer, beat 1 tbsp vanilla extract, 1 stick salted butter and an 8 ounce block of Neufchâtel, which you should have softened on the counter for an hour or so, or in the microwave for 10 seconds. Beat until light, fluffy, and with no lumps. 

The recipe says to dump in 1 pound of confectioner's sugar. I think that's crazy talk, I mean, who the hell has a weight measure on hand? 16 ounces equals 1 pound. 16 ounces (volumetrically) equals 2 cups. So, I mixed up 2 cups and saw that it was still a little runny. I added a 1/2 cup more at a time till I got the texture I wanted. Stiff enough to hold it's shape, and without lumps. 
The ribbon of icing held that shape for over a minute, so make it really thick
The thing I found most interesting about this recipe is that it calls for chopped pecans in the frosting, not in the batter. This intrigued me enough to try it as instructed. So add 1 cup of chopped pecans to the frosting, mix until combined.  I found the frosting to be tasty, but the next day, when it came out of the refrigerator the next day, it was even better. 

 Frost your cakes and enjoy the delicious combo you'll dream about for years.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

NSFW: Peanut Butter Balls and Chocolate Dipped Bananas

So, at a resounding 13 to 6 vote, I made a "lewd" treat for Single's Awareness Day. That being said, it didn't work out the way I hoped, but was epic tasty. So, I'll be making something else extra NSFW for you folks later.