Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Lost Desserts

Sometimes I made a dessert, and it's delicious, and it's pretty and it all get's eaten (very rarely does this not happen), but I don't run to blog about it. Instead, the pictures sit on my hard drive, the recipe wanders around in my browser history, and I never quite get the push to share them with you.

So recently while I was going through my picture files, thinking about what to share next, I figured it was time for a little fall cleaning. Now keep in mind, these weren't bad. The complete disasters in my life I run to share with you. These were good. Just not too exciting.

First up: Apple Pie Bars.
I made these in July. I know, July! Remember that? Weird.
Anyway, these were a variation on these Strawberry Pie Bars. Because I'm lazy and all-around uninterested in hard work, I used a can of apple pie filling for the center. Don't knock it.
They were tasty. After about 36 hours, they started to get a little soggy, when the apple pie filling seeped in the crust and filling. They were still tasty, but they kind of needed a fork to eat, instead of just hands.

Next up: Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins.

I made these on September 4th. Ah the good old days. It was the weekend before I started school, and I had no idea what the year would bring.

Well now I know. And it's tough.

I honestly can't even remember what these muffins were like. They probably weren't bad. They probably weren't amazing either, or I doubt I would have forgotten them. I'm pretty sure those are my teeth marks, so I definitely ate one.

And finally: World Peace Cookies.

I know, I know, those of you who have heard of or made Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies, are probably shocked to see them on my list of blah desserts. After all, they are said to cure international disagreements.

Ok, here's the thing. They were delicious. Really. But they weren't all that appetizing looking, and not one person at the meal I brought them to ate one, and the pictures I attempted to take just never turned out right.

So, yeah, maybe I'm a little bitter. Maybe I'll try these again someday. Maybe I should stop whining. But hey, this is my blog. If I can't do it here, where can I do it?

Ok, I'm done complaining. I'll give you all the recipes I've mentioned, for those of you that are so inspired by my description of these items that you can't wait to try them for yourself.

Tip of the Day: Oh, where to start. Practice makes perfect?


Apple Pie Bars:
(adapted from the Field Guide to Cookies)
6 tbsps butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Filling: 1 can apple pie filling, diced.

1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup plus 2 tbsp flour
1/8 tsp salt
6 tbsps cold butter

Crust: cream butter and sugar together until well mixed. Add egg and mix to combine.
Gradually mix in flour, baking powder and salt.
Press into the bottom of a greased 9x13" pan, and 1/4 inch up the side.

Spread the filling evenly over the crust, stopping 1/2 inch from the edge.

Streusel: Combine sugar, flour and salt in a bowl. Cut in the butter until mix is crumbly.
Sprinkle evenly over the filling.

Bake at 350F for 35 minutes until golden brown.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins: (via Wikibooks)
1 3/4 cup flour
1 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla

Stir together the flour, chocolate chips, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
Make a well in the center, and pour in the egg, milk, oil and vanilla.
Stir until all ingredients are moistened.
Fill 12 greased or paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full.
Bake at 400F for 20 minutes.

World Peace Cookies (Dorie Greenspan)
11 tbsps (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, or a generous 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Beat the butter on high until light and fluffy.
Add in the sugars, salt and vanilla and beat until mixed.
Pour in the flour, cocoa and baking soda. Cover the mixer with a damp towel and pulse for a few seconds at a time until integrated.
Continue to mix until flour is fully mixed in. The dough will be crumbly and you'll worry these cookies will never come together. Mix in the chocolate bits.
Turn the dough out on to a surface and divide in two. Form two logs of approximately 1.5 inches in diameter. Yes, I used a ruler. No, you don't have to.
Place in fridge (I used the freezer because these were hard to slice) for a couple hours.
Slice in to 1/2 inch rounds, and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Bake on 325 F for 13 minutes. Cool on baking sheet.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I try pretty hard to never repeat recipes here. Ok, sometimes I have bad days, but for the most part, when I get in the kitchen and when I get online, I'm trying something new and exciting.

So yes, I have made snickerdoodles before, but a totally different recipe. The ones I made in the past were a little more crispy and flat, but these were cakey and puffed up - totally delicious. I think cakey is also a little more traditionally snickerdoodle-y.
Anyway for those of you who don't know, a snickerdoodle is just a funny name for a sugar cookie that is rolled in cinnamon and sugar before baking. Why is it called that? I have no idea. But it tastes delicious.
One of the most important parts of a snickerdoodle is the leavening - that's what makes them puff up with that cakiness. Most recipes call for baking soda or power and cream of tartar.

Even when they puff up - here they are immediately out of the oven....
What goes up, must come down!

Tip of the Day: If you let your cookie sheets cool to room temperature between batches, you'll experience much more uniform cookies.

Recipe: (via Smitten Kitchen)

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 stick or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 1/4 cup of sugar, divided
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, plus more if needed
2 large eggs

Beat together the butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar until light and fluffy.
Add eggs and beat to combine.
Gradually mix in the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
Let chill in the fridge for one hour.
Combine the 1/4 cup of sugar and 2 tbsp cinnamon in a bowl.
Form balls of dough of approximately 2 tbsp and roll in the mixture.
Bake on parchment paper lined sheets at 400F for 10 minutes. Let cool on pan 5 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Oreo Brownies

After I made the Oreo Cookie Cookies a couple months ago, and they were fabulous, I started thinking about what else I could put cookies in. Because - let's face it, what recipe can't be improved by the addition of cookies. So after much googling, when I found this Ina Garten recipe for "Barefoot Contessa's Outrageous Oreo Crunch Brownies," I knew these were in my future.
It starts off with a lot of chocolate, and butter. This is a rich recipe. We're talking 1/2 cup of flour, to a whole cup of butter.

This is rich, people.
Of course, as if that couldn't get any better, you then add the cookies. Mmmmmmm, cookies.
The recipe dictates that you toss the crumbled cookies with a little flour, to help them suspend in the batter, but of course I forgot. I think they suspended pretty well anyway.

Anywho, once I got these in the pan, and baked them, I was already salivating from the smells in my kitchen.

But once I pulled them out and let them cool, they started to crack and collapse!
Just look at that crater. I think I could crawl right in. I guess I don't really mind about the collapsing. It gives it that "authentic" look, right? Right?
Collapsed or not, these brownies were sinful. Really, really rich chocolate, crunchy cookies, delicious taste - you might need a glass of milk to get these down.

Tip of the Day: Even when a recipe calls to melt over a double boiler, lazy me can generally accomplish it in the microwave - you just have to be sure to microwave in short spurts - at most 30 seconds - and stir well between sessions.


1 cup (2 sticks) butter
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
3 eggs
1 1/2 tbsps instant coffee granules
1 tbsp vanilla
1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup flour plus 2 tbsp flour, divided
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups chopped Oreo cookies (about 25)

Melt the butter and the chocolate together and mix. Cool slightly.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, coffee, vanilla and sugar.
Blend the chocolate mixture in to the egg mixture.
Add 1/2 cup flour, baking powder and salt.
Coat the crushed cookies in the remaining 2 tbsp of flour and stir in to the batter.
Bake in a well greased 9x13" pan for 35 minutes.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Caramel Bars

I wanted to love these. I really did. They look great, don't they? But they just didn't taste as amazing as they look. And it's all my fault.
See, I found this recipe over at Piece of Cake, and it looked amazing. Actually, everything over there looked amazing, but I chose this one to try. But I changed it up. Though I used her crust recipe, I found a different recipe online for the caramel filling. Why, you may ask?
Well, basically, I wanted to make this recipe non-dairy, and her recipe called for sweetened, condensed milk, an ingredient that is basically impossible to substitute for. So instead I found one that called for butter - for which I used margarine, and heavy cream - for which I used non-dairy whip topping (Rich's is great).

We'll get back to the cookie later, but now that we're discussing caramel...oy.

My first trial at making it did not go particularly well. See, though the instructions clearly stated not to stir once it began boiling, I, clearly having a far superior intellect, could not prevent myself from stirring, and the whole thing quickly seized up in to a big, white mess. Finished product = disaster.
By try two, I reluctantly admitted that I may be human after all, and have to follow the instructions of mere mortals. Guess what? It worked perfectly. Thick, beautiful, delicious caramel was mine.
So after patting the crust into a pan, I got to pour it on top.
And pour.
It was at this point that I realized I hadn't paid enough attention to the recipe. The crust recipe called for 2 1/2 cups of flour, so when it came time to add the flour to the other ingredients, that's what I added. Only afterwards, did I realize that I was only supposed to add 2 1/4 cups, and save 1/4 to add to the reserved crumb topping.

Oops. I forged on anyhow.
Now here's where things get interesting once more.
When I pulled the baked bars out of the oven, I was a little nervous because the caramel seemed very soft and runny. And perhaps a little too plentiful as well. Even when it cooled to room temperature, it still didn't look like it would hold together when I cut it up. So I stuck it in the fridge.
When refrigerated, they totally held their shape, but biting in to them, I wasn't...thrilled. They weren't bad, but they were just a little too...much. There was too much caramel, I didn't love how it tasted cold, and the crust was a little too oily and heavy.

Basically, it was all my fault. I think that the amounts of filling didn't stand with my switching out recipes, and the filling itself was a little runnier than the original would have been.

I strongly recommend that you try the original recipe out - and let me know how it is!
Tip of the Day: Always use a non-stick saucepan when making sauces, syrups and toppings. And if your non-stick pan is scratched and worn, realize that it's likely lost much of it's "non-stickness."

Recipe: (adapted from Piece of Cake and Recipezaar)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour (spooned and leveled), divided

1 cup sugar
1 tbsp corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream, heated
2 tbsp unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1 tsp vanilla

Beat the butter, sugar and salt together. Add in the vanilla.
Gradually mix in to low and gradually mix in 2 1/4 cups of flour.
Press 3/4 of the dough in to the bottom of a greased 9x13" pan.
Chill the pan in the fridge while you prepare the topping.

In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, corn syrup and water.
While stirring constantly, heat about 5 minutes until it begins to bubble.
Stop stirring, and allow to boil undisturbed until it turns a deep amber color.
Remove from the heat and slowly pour in the heated cream.
Stir until smooth, making sure to mix well.
Stir in the butter, mixing well.
Allow to cool for three minutes, then stir in the vanilla.

Pour most of the caramel topping over the chilled pan.
Top with the remaining 1/4 of the crust, mixed with 1/4 cup of flour and crumbled.

Bake on 350F for about 30 minutes. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Revisiting an Old Favorite

I know I haven't been too...prolific these days, but, well, things are just a little crazy between school and work and pretending to have a life - so I haven't managed to get any new recipes up, even though I have plenty that I want to share with you.

But because I feel bad about going so long without blogging, I'll offer you up some new pictures of an old favorite. That cool with you? Ok good.

Those of you who have been around a while may remember my Raspberry Chocolate Bar Cookies - they're one of my favorite recipes of all time, so easy and so delicious, and, well, raspberry of course.

Anyway, unfortunately the pictures on the original post are really pretty awful, and don't do the dessert justice at all. So for your enjoyment, here are some new ones.

I've included the recipe again at the end for those of you entirely too busy to click through to the original post, or those who are offended by bad food photography.

I know you really all much prefer pictures of cookies to me talking, so enjoy:

(Yes, those pictures are taken on a paper towel. Stop judging me. It's just been one of those...years.)

Raspberry Chocolate Triangle Bars:

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Approx. 1/2 jar seedless raspberry jam

Whisk together flour, sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter with a fork until large crumbs are formed. Remove about 1 cup of the mixture and press the rest into the bottom of a greased 9x13" pan.
Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes.
Remove, and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over base. Carefully and evenly distribute jam over the chocolate chips.
Sprinkle the reserved dough on top.
Return to the oven for an additional 20 minutes.
Allow to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for an hour before cutting up.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cinnamon Crown Cake

I like bundt cakes. They don't really need much decoration. A sprinkling of confectioner's sugar maybe. Even a drizzled glaze. But no mounds of frosting.
So this recipe from Bake or Break looked pretty good to me - except for one thing. It called for applesauce. And I didn't have any. After frantically contemplating suitable substitutions for the better part of ten minutes, it hit me. I have a drawer full of apples in the fridge. Why not make my own?

So I did. And it was so simple. Turns out, if you cook apples long enough with some water, they basically turn in to applesauce. Done.
Anyway, after that the cake was a cinch. The outer layer is made of flour, sugar, butter, milk, eggs and vanilla. Half of that goes in to the cake pan.

Then to the remainder, you add the applesauce, brown sugar, oats and cinnamon. And pour it on top (which becomes the bottom).

The only thing about bundt cakes is...getting out of the pan. I'm always nervous that I'm going to tip it out and find half of it still clinging to the sides.
I was doubly nervous since the recipe said it has a tendency to stick. Boy did I grease that pan.

Would it be so bad to leave it in?
Then there's that moment, where you turn the pan upside down, gently shaking it, hoping to see it pop cleanly out. I generally conduct this step with my eyes squinted shut, looking away. Even so, you can feel it as you hold it in your hands - if it's sticking inside, unbudging, or gently sliding out.

Moment of truth.....?

Now it's time to try a slice.
Every time I make a bundt cake at home, my mother and I have the same argument. She wants me to leave it upside down, because she likes the crunchy part on top. I argue it has to be inverted, that is how the shape of the cake is intended - and upside down you don't even see the curves.

Anyone care to take sides? I highly suggest you agree with me. Just sayin'.

Tip of the Day:
When greasing a bundt cake it is crucial to make sure that not only the bottom and sides are well greased, but the center tube as well.

(from Bake or Break)

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 cup milk
3 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
[1/2 cup chopped nuts - I omitted]
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
2 tsps cinnamon

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter, milk, eggs and vanilla.
Beat together until well mixed.
Pour half of the batter in to a well greased bundt pan.
Stir the oats, brown sugar, applesauce cinnamon and nuts - if using - in to the remaining batter.
Pour on top in the pan.
Bake on 325 F for 50 to 60 minutes.
Cool in pan for 30 minutes, then invert on to wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Chocolate Filled Cupcakes

I like chocolate. A lot of people like chocolate. I also like vanilla. I'm guessing a lot of people like vanilla too.So when I made cupcakes to bring to the office a few weeks ago, I frosted them half in chocolate, and half in vanilla.
And every single chocolate cupcake was gone before even one vanilla was taken. Of course soon after that, every single vanilla cupcake was gone too. Hmmmm.

Anyway these were filled cupcakes - which really means that I dropped a few chocolate chips in to the middle of each one before I baked them.
If I'd mixed the chocolate chips in to the batter, these would be chocolate chip cupcakes, but because they're only in the middle, they're chocolate filled? Right? Work with me here.
Ah look, hidden filling! Of course anything would be hidden by the time I frosted them.

Frosting, which, by the way, came from a can. Oops. Back to school means back to more storebought for me. But it'll be our little secret, OK?

Well once I was done I just had to eat a chocolate one. I know, those vanillas are getting jealous.
You can't tell though, right?

1 1/3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup milk
2 tsps vanilla
1 egg
chocolate chips

Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Beat in the shortening, milk, vanilla and egg until well mixed.
Divided the batter among 12, paper-lined muffin cups.
Drop five or six chocolate chips in to the center of each cupcake.
Bake on 350 F for 20 minutes.
Cool in the pan for 2 minutes then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

The word "bread" in this recipe is clearly used quite loosely. To me, bread has yeast, not much sugar and is toasted for breakfast.This recipe resembles bread in's baked in a loaf pan. And cut into slices. If calling it bread makes you feel better about eating it for breakfast - then be my guest.
It's also ridiculously easy and totally delicious. It just contains these ingredients!
Directly after I took this photograph, I moved the oil, and the egg rolled away from me in slow motion and crashed in a dramatic splat on the wooden floor of my living room. (No I wasn't baking in the living room - but tiny Manhattan apartments often mean they're just an...egg's roll away!)
Luckily, I was trained well by my mother (after having made such messes in the past), and quickly grabbed the salt, dumping it on top of the slowly spreading disaster. The salt, for scientific reasons unbeknown to me, makes the raw egg clump up and stop spreading slowly around your floor - making it easier to pick up and dispose.
On to the cake (with a brand new egg) - came together in one bowl, in ten minutes, and was really great.
Just beware of rolling eggs.

Tip of the Day: As if you weren't convinced - in case of an egg crack disaster, sprinkle the white and yolk with a generous amount of salt, and wipe up with a cloth. Make sure to wash the floor and your hands afterwards.

Recipe: (from Bake or Break)

1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup oil

1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Stir together the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.
Make a well in the center, and add in the egg, milk and oil.
Stir until just mixed.
In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon.
Pour half the batter in to a greased, 9"x5"x3" loaf pan.
Sprinkle with half the sugar and cinnamon mix.
Pour remaining batter on top, and top with remaining sugar mix.
With a spatula, swirl the batter and topping in an up and down motion.
Bake on 350 F for 40 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan ten minutes, then invert.