Monday, August 31, 2009

Marbled Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies and a New Home

I moved. Not apartments, since I've only been in this one a few months, but blog homes - I'm now at - no more blogspot in my name. This is the future people.
Also in your future - these cookies. Because you're going to make them soon. It's the right thing to do. And all you need is these few ingredients:
Like marble cake, marble cookies start with a basic dough that you split, making half into chocolate and leaving the other half vanilla. Add some oats and chocolate chips and we're ready to form the cookies. After two hours of refrigeration that is.If you're anything like me, the instructions "swirl one tablespoon of each dough together," will make you nervous, looking for more detailed instructions. Don't fret. Do it however you want. At first I made little ropes of each dough and twirled them around each other, but by the end I had one hand in each bowl and just smashed together whatever I had. Go crazy!
These bake up relatively quickly - and you don't want to leave them in too long or the different color doughs will no longer be discernible.
Now just grab a tall glass of milk, and dig in.
Tip of the Day: Recipes generally call for either baking soda or baking powder - but be careful, they're not the same. If you have soda, but need powder, use 1 part soda to 2 parts cream of tartar to replace. If you have powder but need soda, use twice as much, but omit the salt.

(from Bake or Break)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tbsp vanilla
2 cups and 3 tbsp flour, divided
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cocoa
1 cups oats, divided
1 cup chocolate chips, divided

Beat butter and sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well.
Gradually stir in flour, baking soda and salt.
Divide batter in two, and to one half add the cocoa powder.
To the other half, add the remaining 3 tbsp flour.
Add 1/2 cup of oats and 1/2 cup chocolate chips to each.
Refrigerate dough for two hours.
Swirl 1 tbsp of each dough together, and bake on 375F for 10 minutes.
Cool on sheets for two minutes, and then transfer to wire rack.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Twenty-Five Years

Twenty-five years ago, these two got married. Yesterday, they ate cookies.
I've mentioned before how much I dislike nuts in my baked goods. But my parents, who celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary yesterday, love them. Walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews - they can't get enough.

So they really miss out when it comes to my baking, as I omit nuts from every recipe I find. So this week, I decided it was time to make something nut-filled, and after some intense googling, I created Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip and Walnut Cookies.They were a pretty easy cookie - I mixed up the peanut butter and butter, sugar, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, flour and baking soda.
Then I stopped for a minute to clean up the sugar that fell when I dropped the bag on the floor.
I was very happy to have a vacuum at this moment.
Then came the add-ins. Walnuts. Ick. The things I do.
I used a cookie scoop to measure these out nice and evenly (which they still weren't, since I didn't really pack the scoop right each time), which was probably a little bigger than a tablespoon.
This is also the time that I found out that if I put a full cookie sheet in the middle rack of my tiny Manhattan oven, the door won't close.
Snack time!
Since I was licking the bowl after these went in the oven, I'm sure they were delicious, though I can't attest personally to that. Hmmm. I think I'm going to have to make these again without the walnuts.

Tip of the Day: If you need the same measuring cup for several ingredients, measure out the dry ingredients first, then the wet, so you don't need to wash it before using it again. When measuring something sticky like peanut butter or honey, coating the cup in cooking spray helps it slide out easier.


1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Beat the butter and peanut butter together. Mix in the sugars
Beat in the egg and the vanilla.
Add in the flour and baking soda.
Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper or foil lined baking sheets.
Bake at 350 F for 12 to 15 minutes. Makes approximately 36 cookies.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Blueberry Boy Bait Bummer

After the disaster of the charlotte royale, I was hoping to put my baking mishaps behind me. That was not the case. But this one was the result of plain old forgetfulness.
This recipe for blueberry boy bait, (great name, no?) is the first blueberry baked good I'm sharing with you here. I don't do them too often, because I'm just not a huge blueberry fan. If I had to reach for a bowl of fresh berries, I'll go for raspberries or blackberries first.

But just look at these!
The batter was simple and made of the basics, and called for me to mix 1/2 of the berries in, and sprinkle half on top. Done.
It was about five minutes after I slid the pan into the oven, that I began to bash my head against the nearest wall. I'd forgotten the eggs. Oh well. What was I supposed to do? I let it keep baking and figured it couldn't be inedible. At least I didn't forget the sugar.

Five minutes after that, I began the head-bashing in earnest once more. I'd forgotten the baking powder. Why? Why, this time, had I forgotten these key ingredients that I've used hundreds of times in the past?

Well, it came out of the oven, and it looked gorgeous. I couldn't wait to eat it. Both because it looked so nice and because I was curious what it would taste like.
And it was...OK. The flavor was really nice - the brown sugar in the batter, the cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top - it was the right balance of sweetness with the slight tartness of the berries.

But the texture, predictably, was a little off. It was pretty dense and heavy, and by the next day had the slightest hint of rubberiness.

Of course while I'm listing its faults, I'm omitting the fact that 3/4 of it was eventually eaten by me and hungry family members.

I can only think how much better it would have been with all of the ingredients.

Tip of the Day: As my mother repeated several times after this disaster: "Always take out all your ingredients before you start."

(from Smitten Kitchen)
2 cups and 1 tsp flour, divided
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (don't defrost), divided
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Beat butter and sugars on high until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated.
Gradually add in 2 cups of flour, baking powder and salt until mixed.
Pour in milk.
Toss 1/2 cup of blueberries with 1 tsp flour. Stir gently into batter.
Spread batter in greased 9x13" pan.
Scatter remaining 1/2 cup of blueberries on top, and mix sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle on top.
Bake at 350 F for 45 to 50 minutes.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chocolate Chip Pie

After the complete disaster that preceded this, I needed a fail-safe, guaranteed success to whip up in ten minutes, or I was going to go crazy. And I knew just what I was looking for. This recipe for chocolate chip pie.
This recipe starts with a store-bought pie crust. Yes, I could make my own, but did you see the day I was having? Frozen it is. No rolling out, no forming the edge - it's all done already. And that made me happy.
What follows next is a filling that will take five minutes to mix and contains only things you already have. It's perfect.
And one of the reasons I love it is this:
That's right, this is my 1/2 cup measurement. And it's the only one I needed for this recipe. 1/2 a cup of flour, 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of brown sugar. And one cup to wash up! (Is that a really strange reason to love a recipe?)

Five minutes later, I'm spreading the batter into the pie dish (defrosted - which takes about fifteen minutes) and heading for the oven...
...And one hour later I'm drooling over a beautiful golden pie. I wish I could show you what this looks like inside, but my Mommy told me it's not polite to give somebody a pie as a gift with a piece missing.
I managed to resist.

The most important thing about this pie is serving it warm. During the baking of the pie, the chocolate chips all sink to the bottom of the pie, and cold, will be a hard block of chocolate. When warmed up, its a crispy, warm, cookie top with a gooey, chocolatey bottom - sheer perfection.

However beautifully this came out, my disasters for the weekend were not over, and I managed to leave out two key ingredients in my next baking experience. Come back this week and find out why I'm such a scatterbrain.

Tip of the Day: If you're using mini chocolate chips (and I like to because they're adorable), you'll need less than if using regular sized ones. There's no exact science (and almost no such thing as too many chocolate chips) but I would average 3/4 cup of mini for every 1 cup regular.

(from Nestle)

1 unbaked deep dish pie shell (defrosted)
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chips

Beat eggs on high. Add in sugars and flour.
Beat in softened butter. Stir in chocolate chips.
Spread in pie crust, and bake at 325 F for 55 to 60 minutes until golden brown.
Cool on wire rack.

Serve warm.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Complete and Total Disaster

I made a vow when I started this blog, that I would always share my complete disasters alongside my resounding successes, however embarassing. I now want to break that vow. But I won't.

I have never, ever, had so much go wrong in the kitchen before I attempted this recipe.

Here's what I ended up with at the end of several hours. Pretty, isn't it.
Let's just say it wasn't quite what I was going for. If we backtrack several hours, 14 eggs and a few tears, I set out on this Thursday evening to make a Charlotte Royale. And I didn't even come close. A Charlotte Royale is a sponge roll that is cut into slices and used to line a round mold which is filled with mousse.

And it went wrong in ways I couldn't have imagined. Some of them my fault, some of them not, all of them captured on film.

Disaster #1: The sponge.

I followed the recipe to make a chocolate sponge. The directions called for it to bake in a 12x14 inch pan, which I did not have. So I decided to just bake it in a 12x16 inch pan. Ah, you must be thinking here is where I went wrong. Nope.

I pour the sponge batter into the pan, and I notice that it seems like it wouldn't have even filled a 12x14" pan.

Whatever, I think. Then as I'm about to slide it in the oven, I lick my finger that had some of the batter on it. I almost gag. It's bitter and awful. I ran back to my list of ingredients. I forgot the sugar.

At this stage, I'm about to give up already, but I persevere, throw it away, and start over.

Wrong decision.

I mix together another batch of batter, with sugar this time, and put it in the oven to bake.
This one fills the pan a lot better. Shocker.
Disaster #2: The cream.

Every good swiss/sponge roll has a cream filling. The instructions I had for this one seemed simple enough, if not a little water-heavy, but I assumed it would all come together.

Assume nothing. (Name that TV show)

The recipe called for me to mix the butter and sugar on high, and then very gradually mix in boiling water. I went very gradually. And came up with this.

Does this look like white fluffy cream to you? Even from the side? Are you sure?

Yet again, I should have given up. But I didn't. What was I thinking?

Disaster #3: The roll.

After the cream disaster, I decided I would still go through with the roll, and just use a basica vanilla frosting recipe, with shortening, sugar and vanilla. Foolproof.

At this point the sponge had come out of the oven, and was looking quite sponge like.
I cut it into the pieces required, and lifted it out of the pan. Oops, it broke. Even with this crack down the middle, I still DID NOT GIVE UP.

Clearly I have no intuition.
So I spread my second sponge of the evening, which was already cracked, with my second filling of the evening.
What's next? Rolling it up of course. I think you see where this is going.

Did you see that coming? Did you? I didn't.

Well at this point, with 14 eggs, two sticks of butter and several hours wasted, I GAVE UP.


It's going to be a long time before I'll ever try that again. A very long time.

Lucky for me, I already had a backup dessert planned in case of epic failure.
Stay tuned and find out what finally went right.

Tip of the Day: When everything's going wrong, don't cry, just take pictures of it. It'll make it seem a whole lot funnier. Trust me.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Oreo Cookie Cookies and Disaster Averted

Yep, you read that right. A cookie within a cookie. How can it be wrong when it feels so right?
But it went wrong. Very wrong. I should have known from the beginning. Being a superstitious baker, I can feel it in my bones when a recipe is bound for disaster. And I felt it, when this happened:
That's right, THE FORK FELL IN. Being the brave trooper that I am, I fished and out and kept going, adding in the flour, sugar, vanilla, eggs etc.

Then came the mix-ins. Chocolate chips, of course, and then: oreos!
I like crushing things. Putting them in a plastic bag and whacking them with a rolling pin. It's a very satisfying experience. You don't want these too fine - like graham cracker crumbs - but not too big either About the size of your chocolate chips would be good to aim for, but of course they won't all be the same size.

All this crushing and mixing left me with a cookie dough that made me not want to bake it at all, but I did. That was a decision I would come to regret, but more on that later.
I used a cookie scoop to measure these out, hoping for nice, uniform cookies.
And then I stuck them in the oven. The recipe called for them to bake for 15 to 17 minutes, but my oven generally runs a little cool so I went to check on them after 17 minutes. They had spread more than I would have liked, but more importantly, they didn't look done at all. I reset the time for another three minutes, and came back to find they had barely progressed. Then I got closer to the cookies, putting my hand into the oven space. Something was wrong. It wasn't hot enough. I've stuck my hands and face into enough 325 F ovens to know that this wasn't it.

Let me set the scene. It was a Friday afternoon. The cookies were to finish within half an hour, as more food was waiting to be cooked for the evening. This oven situation was not good. After frantically attempting to set and reset the oven to see if it would heat up, it was determined that we needed outside help.

Without much hope, we called an appliance repairman and left a message. Within the hour, he called back. Within two hours, he was at our door. With two and a half hours, our oven was once again working.

Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles? YES! (Name that movie.)

Now while this turn of events saved the next batch of cookies, the first ones were never quite the same.

This is what they looked like when I pulled them out upon realization of the disaster.
Luckily, our microwave oven is also a convection oven, and the baking sheet just managed to slip inside and I baked them enough to finish up. They were still spread way too thin and barely held their shape, but they were dee-licious. (What, you thought I would throw them away? Are you kidding?)

Contrary to what you may believe, this is not one cookie. This is a plate of cookies. Did I mention they spread too much?
But when those finished ones came out right, oh boy were they good. A cookie in a cookie - who knew it would be so great?
Now its got me thinking what other cookies can I put in cookies? The possibilities are endless.
Note: I used a non-dairy chocolate sandwich cookie (and margarine) that is a perfect substitute here.

Tip of the Day:
If you find yourself in a situation like mine, most cookie doughs can be kept in the fridge, covered, for several days before baking, or frozen for several months. Then, when you have the time (and oven) to bake, your dough is right there waiting!

(from Sugar Cooking)

3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips
20 oreos, crushed

In a large bowl, beat together the melted butter and sugars.
Add in the vanilla, and beat in the egg and egg yolk.
Mix in the flour, baking soda and salt until just combined.
Stir in the chocolate chips and crushed oreos until evenly distributed.
Drop 1/4 cup measurements onto a greased baking sheet, and bake for 17 minutes on 325 F.
Cool on baking sheet for five minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake

Boy this was one enormous cake. Huge slices, huge flavor, great texture. And a lot of work.
This one starts as all good chocolate cake recipes should: with chocolate! (Beware of cocoa powder only instructions - very dry.)
I put the finely chopped (OK, it could have been more fine, but I'm impatient) into hot coffee. Normally, when recipes call for coffee I leave it out, since I really don't like the taste. But I was promised that the coffee in this recipe would serve only to bring out the flavor of the chocolate. And it was true.
When I finally had the batter together - all the chocolate, coffee, cocoa, sugar, flour and all the rest - I baked it in two 10 inch round pans. That is one big cake. Of course I lined the pans with parchment paper - I wasn't taking any chances this time.

Now here's where it gets interesting. Raspberry filling. I've been told numerous times that I must get over my raspberry obsession - but this time it was at the birthday girl's request. Pureed frozen raspberries, strained, then boiled with sugar and cornstarch.
The straining! Oh, the straining. Took forever. I had to force every last drop through the mesh.
Math. I used to like math. I could do it. But after a certain point, math gets really hard. Now it is no longer my friend. But I keep needing math to measure, bake, layer and decorate. And I keep screwing it up. As I was layering these cakes (I split each layer in two - resulting in a four-layer cake) in my mind I was thinking that I also needed to divide the raspberry filling into four.

Of course, you're all thinking - no, silly, you only need three. Because I wasn't putting filling on top. Now this occurred to me as well. Right about the same time I reached for the third layer.

Now while there was no raspberry filling on the top, there was something else. This frosting.
I don't think I have to tell you that this is goooood. This is my new go to chocolate frosting. And it's quick too.
Now I know that if I was a little more professional, I would have flattened off the top of the cake, to make a nice, smooth surface. But, I'm clearly not a professional, and anyway - if you have to choose a nice smooth surface or more cake - which would you go for?

That's what I thought.
Nothing left to do but eat!
This was good. Really good. I never thought myself much of a chocolate cake fan, but clearly I haven't been eating the right chocolate cake. This was incredibly moist and soft, even two days later. A little more effort than normal (at least for me, Queen Lazy), but well worth it.

Of course, this cake definitely isn't for everyone (what cake is) as evidenced by my friend who I caught whispering, "I don't like this" to another friend. Then when she looked up and saw me watching, she let out a dramatic gasp.

Don't worry, everyone else liked it. Or were too scared to say otherwise.

Tip of the Day:
If you want your frosted cake to have a smooth outside look, use slightly wet fingers to smooth it down all over. Or opt for the natural look - either way it's delicious.

(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

3 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups hot coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsps baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsps salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3/4 tsp vanilla

2 10 ounce bags of frozen raspberries, thawed
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsps cornstarch

12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tbsps sugar
1 1/2 tbsps light corn syrup
3 tbsp butter


Finely chop the chocolate and combine in a bowl with hot coffee. Let sit for a minute to melt and then stir to combine.
In a stand or hand mixer, beat eggs until lemon-colored. Slowly add in oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Mix in chocolate/coffee mixture. Pour in sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Divide batter between two 10-inch round cake pans lined with parchment paper.
Bake on 350F for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cool completely in pan.


Thaw the frozen raspberries. Puree until smooth.
Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove seeds.
Heat in a small pot with the sugar and cornstarch until it boils, then remove from heat.


Bring the cream, sugar and corn syrup to a boil over low heat, mixing until well combined.
Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until melted and smooth. Add in butter until stir until melted and combined. Let sit until comes to room temperature. Do not refrigerate before use - it will harden.