Friday, February 27, 2009


Hey guys - remember those Raspberry Oatmeal Bars I made last week, and encouraged you to try different fillings? Well I did! Last night saw the birth of strawberry oatmeal bars, and they were goooooood.This picture was taken shortly before I started eating them. Very shortly.
See, I can take my own advice! Which, clearly is not always the case. Remember that whole, wash the dishes while the food is in the oven thing? Yeah.....that always happens.
So this is my call to you to experiment! Have fun! Get messy! Yeah, that became a little Ms. Frizzle at the end there. Well, I've always thought she had alot to say.
Good luck fellow bakers!

Tip of the Day: Using the back of a spoon is sometimes easier to spread preserves and fillings, and won't cut into your base like a knife.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Aren't they just beautiful? Cupcakes: food's miniature canvas.
Recently my friend Esti - for whom I made Peanut Butter Cookies a while back - had her birthday. What to make? Why peanut butter cupcakes of course! This recipe came from, another good resource. It was pretty simple to make and they all came out nice and golden brown looking. Next of course, came the decorating. First I frosted these, using half chocolate and half vanilla, so everyone could have their preference. (Esti's is vanilla). Then of course, came those lovely fondant decorations. I had some fondant that i died the pale blue you see here, then I took some of that and added a little more blue to make the darker shade, kneading it in so it was all even and not marbleized. I cut out hearts in three different sizes, I have some fondant cutters but most cookie cutters will work as well, and arranged them in pretty patterns across the cupcakes. Voila!
I know, I know, you're going to tell me that why bother to put the fondant on when you're going to take it off before you eat anyway. Well, I think it looks pretty. Ok? I knew you'd see it my way eventually.

Tip of the Day: When frosting cupcakes without a piping bag, dollop some first in the middle and then use a flat edged knife to smooth it out in a circle motion.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Chocolate Truffle Tart

This is definitely one for the chocolate lovers out there - dense rich and chocolatey!
This recipe comes from the Good Housekeeping Baking Book, and turned out pretty well.
This was definitely an experiment for me - I made my first pie crust ever, and the fear is largely over. For those of you yet to venture into the dark scary world of pie crust, its basically a mix of flour, salt, cold butter, water and shortening. At least, thats what my recipe calls for, but I didn't have shortening on hand so I substituted a little butter and a little oil instead. Oops! I think it turned out ok anyway. Anyway back to the crust. So you mix that together and chill it for a while, then roll it out (surprisingly easy) and line the pan with the dough and chill it again. All seemed to go as planned, and then I had to do what is called in the baking world "baking blind."
This means that you bake the pie crust without the filling. Generally, you will use parchment paper or foil on top and fill it with pie weights - you can buy these or use dry beans or uncooked rice instead - which serves to weigh the crust down while baking, so it retains its shape for the filling.
Here is what it looked like:Fascinating, no? Anyway, I baked the crust acording to the directions, removing the weights after 20 minutes. The edges got a little brown and brittle, but nothing major seemed to go wrong. Practice makes perfect, right?
The rest of the filling creation went well, and the recipe called to decorate the tart with white chocolate hearts, but clearly, I didn't feel constrained by that. Hearts, flowers, swirls - anything goes! You could even write words and draw pictures for decoration as well.
The recipe said to serve chilled, but we prefered it a little closer to room temperature.
Beware - this recipe is only for chocolate lovers - its very rich!

Tip of the Day: Keep dry beans on hand specifically for using as pie weights, that way you can reuse them each time without throwing them out. But be careful to keep them separate from your other beans - they won't taste very good if you try to cook them!

Chocolate Truffle Tart:

Tart Pastry:
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp cold butter or margarine, cut up
1 tbsp vegetable shortening
2 to 3 tbsp ice water

Mix flour and salt in a large bowl.
With pastry blender or two knives cut in butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Sprinkle in ice water, one tbsp at a time, until dough holds together.
Shape dough into one disk and refridgerate for 30 minutes or overnight.
Roll out dough into 11 inch circle, and line 9 inch tart pan with dough. Prick with fork and chill for 30 minutes.
Line with foil and fill with pie weights, bake at 400 F for 20 minutes.
Remove foil and weights, bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Truffle Filling:
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsley chopped
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
3 large eggs

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring frequently.
Stir in sugar and vanilla.
In small bowl with fork or whisk, lightly beat cream and eggs.
Blend some chocolate mixture into egg mixture, then stir egg mixture back into chocolate.
Pour mixture into tart shell.
Bake 20 minutes or until custard is set.
Cool on wire rack, refridgerate to serve chilled.
Decorate with white chocolate hearts decorations!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Mmmm chocolatey

Ah, who doesn't love a good chocolate, chocolate chip muffin. Not me, that's for sure.These were quite delicious, and really not too difficult to make. The thing I like about muffins is that they generally call for melted butter, as opposed to softened, meaning you can just mix everything up in a bowl without needing to bring out the mixer. Yay for simplicity!
Well I got this recipe from, and they worked out really well. At first when I added the dry ingredients to the wet (here they are just before meeting - do you think they knew their fate?).I was worried that the dough wasn't going to come together, but I kept mixing and it worked out just fine. Of course, as expected, they weren't all quite the same height, but you know what, that makes each one unique. Yeah. Take that, conformity. I didn't use liners with these, just sprayed the pan, I don't quite know why but I always put cupcakes in liners and not muffins. What does that say about me? Don't quite know.
Here is a close up of the beauty:

Tip of the Day: If a recipe calls for chocolate chips I like to use a variety of types and sizes, for a little exciting mix.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Peanut Butter Bars

These were another product of my experimenting days, though its safe to say those days are far from over.In fact I hope they'll never be over. I definitely see things in cookbooks that I will never try, but I still like to keep a (somewhat) open mind and don't get too discouraged when things end up in the garbage.
Anyway on to today's recipe. These are Peanut Butter Bars, which came from the Good Housekeeping Great Baking book. (recipe at end of post)
This recipe was okay, I wish I could be more passionate about it either way, but it wasn't amazing and I didn't throw it away (the benchmarks by which all baked goods are measured).
They weren't super peanutbuttery, and they were a little dry and hard, but they still all got eaten. When I voiced my opinion to the people eating them I got alot of "no, they're good"s, but you can never believe those, right?
Anyway, as you can see in the picture, these bars were - my favorite word - drizzled in chocolate. Hmmmm. That generally ends up with chocolate on the walls, the floor, myself, sometimes even my hair. This was no exception. Because drizzling means flicking. And flicking...well you get the idea. Anyway, I think my hair stayed out of the line of fire. Seriously though, drizzling is dangerous. You've been warned.

Tip of the Day: Dress up almost any cookies and cakes with a decorative chocolate drizzle, or a simple glaze made out of powdered sugar, a liquid (milk, juice, drinks), and some vanilla or other essence.

Peanut Butter Bar Cookies

2 1/4 cups flolur
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup peanut butter (chunky or creamy depending on your preference)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract
2 eggs

Beat butter, peanut butter, brown sugar and white sugar until fluffy.
Beat in extracts and eggs, one at a time.
Beat in dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt).
Bake batter in greased 9x13 pan for 30 minutes at 350 F.
Drizzle melted chocolate over baked cake.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Razzle Dazzle!

These here are Razzle Raspberry Oatmeal Cookie Bars, or so the recipe says. Oh recipezaar. My one true love.
These were just adorable, and they tasted good too. It's a really simple recipe (which I love) that just calls for oats, flour, butter and brown sugar. And the raspberry jelly of course. I used the same sugar free version that I used in the Raspberry Shortbread Bars, which was a much sweeter dough. Here, perhaps a touch more sugar in the jelly would have been better, but they were still good. For this recipe too I totally got in there and mixed everything together with my hands - it just gives a much more even finish...and its fun! Get all your aggression out squeezing dough. It does get messy though, especially under your fingernails. Plus make sure to take rings off before you go to it - that is tricky to get out - trust me! Thats about it for this one, it was short, simple, and tasty. Much less interesting when I don't drop something, right?
Never fear, more mistaking will be here! Oh look, that rhymes. Well we're not all perfect.
I hope you guys are trying out all my recipes - let me know what works for you. Write in the comments or send me an email at bakingandmistaking [AT] gmail [DOT] com!

Tip of the Day: If a recipe calls for preserves, experiment with different flavors depending on your preferences. Try apricot, raspberry, strawberry, blueberry - the possibilities are endless!

Recipe: (from Recipezaar)

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup preserves

Mix together the sugar, flour, baking powder, salt and oats.
With your fingers, mix the butter in to the dry ingredients.
Press half the mixture in to a greased 8x8" square pan.
Spread the preserves on top, and sprinkle the remaining mixture on top.
Bake at 350 F for 35 to 40 minutes.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Birthday...quick!

This is a cake I made for my friend Miriam's birthday (bonus points for obvious) in a little bit of a hurry (oops now she knows).This is a marble cake I made from scratch in one pan, instead of layers. The recipe is from, another site I spend all together too much time on! Anyway to save time I made this as one large 9 inch cake, and cooled it quickly in the fridge (it's our little secret right?)
Anyway if you thought for a minute I was going to say I saved time by using a cake mix you are very much mistaken. Never! Well, never say never. Fingers Crossed?
Anyway I cooled this cake quickly by putting it in the fridge for a little (it's our little secret, right?). Keep in mind this was about at 8pm and we were taking the cake over to her house at midnight.
Anyway I frosted this with storebought chocolate frosting, mmmmmm, and then as you can see decorated with store bought candy letters. Man, those things are like pure sugar. Mmmmm.
In the picture it looks like the H in happy is out of line but I promise it didn't look like that in real life.
Also, the packet of letters came with only one I, which clearly didn't work for my purposes, but luckily also came with two number 1s. Victory!
Additionally, if you look, the cake is adorned with a festive fondant heart. Because who doesn't love fondant.
Anyway I should probably be a little embarassed to share with you my speedy cake making tips, but I'll hold my head high anyway. Plus, Miriam appreciates resourcefulness. Who doesn't?

Tip of the Day: When decorating a cake with words or letters always start from the middle and go outwards to make sure everything is properly centered on the cake.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cheating is worth it!

These were soo good, and so simple...because I cheated the whole way through!
These are individual apple pies I made for a dinner I attended - 18 mini pies! - and they were a big hit, I served them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream - delicious!
Anyway, while everybody loved this dessert, nobody knew how little of it I made from scratch.
I baked these little pies in store bought graham cracker crusts, these were Keebler brand. I saw them in the store and they were only about $2 for 6 crusts so I had to buy them for some future dessert idea. Well that time came! The instructions say to brush the crusts with some beaten egg yolk and bake for five minutes before filling. I did this, but I'm not quite sure if it made much difference.
However the night that I baked these, I was a little bit in a rush and didn't quite have the time to make the filling from I used apple pie filling. Don't throw rocks at me, we all have our weak days!
Anyway, the pie filling worked great, I divided 2 cans of it among the 18 shells.
Then, I made a quick crumble topping out of 3/4 cup of dark brown sugar, 3/4 cup flour and 1/3 cup of butter, mixed together by hand and sprinkled on top of the pies.
I baked them on 350 for about 35 to 40 minutes.
They looked great, tasted great, and were so simple to make!

Tip of the Day: Crumb toppings are simple to make with a quick pulse in your food processor, but work just as well well crumbled together by hand.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cookies? Wands? Tuiles?

Whoo boy. These cookies are probably the first (and certainly not last) complete and total disaster on Baking and Mistaking. Come on in, and I'll share with you the story.
Disclaimer: This is a picture of what the cookies were supposed to look like:
(picture from cookbook - Cookie and Biscuit Bible).
I can't show you how they turned out....because they didn't.
Let me explain. These cookies are entitled Striped Cylinder Cookies, and they are a wand-type cookie, which means they are baked as flat rounds, and then rolled up into a wand shape while still warm. Not the case here.
Let's begin. The dough is a simple egg whites, sugar, flour and melted butter mixture. (I'll provide the recipe at the end of the post for anyone daring enough to try - please tell me your experience!)
Once the dough is formed, the recipe instructs you to drop teaspoonfuls onto parchment paper and spread into thin rounds, then decorate with two different colored chocolates (they used red and green, I used dark and white). Done and done.
First sheet goes into the oven.
While they're in, I prepare a couple wooden spoons by greasing their handles, and getting them ready to wrap the cookie rounds around.
Ok, all set.
I pull the cookies out of the oven, gently remove one of the rounds from the pan and attempt to wrap it around the handle.
Yep, you guessed it, this is where it all went wrong. So wrong. The cookies were too thick to really wrap, and barely made it once around the spoon, and all the decorated white and dark chocolate on top began cracking and falling out of the cookie.
But I didn't give up. Oh no, I persisted. I put another sheet in the oven, trying desperately to make them thinner and larger in diameter. But to no avail. Same problems.
Now, with chocolate smeared all over my hands, I attempt to put the last pan in the oven, this time with no attempt to roll them, I merely laid them over a rolling pin to harden, like a tuile.
At this point in my vastly unsuccessful attempt to master a new technique, my friends Miriam and Racheli showed up.
While the cookies were scrutinized and laughed at, there remained on the counter the two small bags of white and dark chocolate I had used to create the decoration that refused to stay on.
What happens when you combine three girls, a sheet of parchment paper and chocolate in piping bags?
We spent about twenty minutes piping our names, flowers, hearts, and some intriguing blobs.
I decorated some cupcakes I had lying around with some of the most promising pieces.
I present to you here, black and white heart:

And here, creepy alien:

Well, at least something fun came of it! Plus, its always fun to experiment - I highly recommend it.

Tip of the Day: Before piping or decorating with icing, frosting or chocolate, test it out on a piece of parchment paper or a plate before hand to gauge the flow of the material, and the pressure you need to get the right line.

Striped Cylinder Cookies:
1 oz each melted white and dark chocolates
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup melted butter

Whisk egg whites in a bowl until stiff. Add the sugar gradually, whisking well after each addition.
Add the flour and butter and whisk until smooth.
Drop four separate teaspoonfulls of batter onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, and spread into thin rounds
Decorate with chocolates from piping bags in zigzag and line patterns.
Bake one sheet at a time for 3 minutes at 375 F until pale golden.
Taking one cookie out of the oven at a time, roll around a greased spoon handle, and leave for a few seconds to set until slipping off onto wire rack to cool.

Good Luck with this one!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Best Cookies Ever?

These snickerdoodles were simple to make, and tasted great too - they were gone in minutes!
The recipe for these comes from - once again, and I decided to try them out since they had almost 100 positive reviews. I almost never make recipes that aren't reviewed, since I want to know how they turned out for people, and what changes, subsitutions and problems they made.
Anyway, practically every reviewer raved about these, so I figured I should try them. I had no problems with the baking, they went smoothly and came out great. Rolling the dough in the cinnamon and sugar adds a great outer layer that looks pretty and tastes great. However, I did encounter some issues when...purchasing ingredients.
Yeah, most of you are probably thinking, huh? What could go wrong? Go to store, buy ingredients, return home, bake.
Ah, not so simple.
I read the recipe, and saw that it called for baking soda and cream of tartar, not baking powder. I vacillated about whether I should just substitute instead of buying, since I knew I didn't have cream of tartar and I wasn't sure if I had baking soda. Eventually I decided I would go out and buy the cream of tartar, as I wanted to make sure the recipe was the best it could be.
Well, I set out for the grocery store, and picked up the cream of tartar in the baking aisle. Then I got on line for the checkout.
Thinks to self..
"Oh wait, do I have baking soda?"
"Can't remember."
"Probably should have checked before I left."
"Should I get some?"
"I'll be really annoyed if I already have it."
"Oh whatever I probably have some already."
Well, I was wrong. Returned home, opened the cabinet...nothing. Clearly checking before I left would have been to much effort. Or forethought. Two words apparently not in my vocabulary.
Well at this point I was not going to go out again, so I just improvised, adding the right amount of cream of tartar, and a little less than double the amount of baking soda called with baking powder. They still were great, and next time I'll do it right and compare.
Note to self (and all): Check your ingredients before you head to the supermarket!

Tip of the Day: If shaped or roll cookies don't hold up, refrigerate a little while longer to make a stiffer, easier to work with dough.


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Beat together the butter and sugars until well mixed.
Add in the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.
Gradually mix in the flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar.
Allow the dough to chill for an hour in the fridge.
Form 2 tbsp of dough into a ball and roll in the cinnamon and sugar mixture.
Bake on 300 F for 10 to 12 minutes.
Let cool on pan.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Oh no, oh yes, oh no.

I can definitively say that these cookies are the only to have caused so many problems yet come out ok in the end.Over the holidays I had a little party, and my friend Naomi demanded that I make her a cake. She argued that I had never made her a cake before, and I owed her this. Now, I had too many other things to make for the cake to get completed, so I gave her this as a consolation prize.
These are called Glazed Cookie Sticks, and the recipe (see below) comes from The Giant Book of Chocolate, published by Barron's. Yes, its as amazing as it sounds. Over 300 recipes, all including chocolate, all accompanied by gorgeous photographs.
Ok now I'm getting off track, but bear with me. Isn't every recipe book improved by photos? I never want to buy a book that doesn't have pictures, because how do you know what its meant to look like? Even the most detailed instructions can't compare to a full size picture of the end product.
Ok back to cookies. These looked really cute and not too difficult to make, so I figured I'd go ahead. They involve making a simple dough and piping it into long sticks, baking, and then drizzling with white and dark chocolates.
And there the trouble began. So, I made the dough. Phase 1 complete.
Now the piping. The recipe called for a .5 inch tip, so I placed one on my piping bag, and filled it with the dough. I go to pipe...nothing. The dough is too hard. I massage it a little with my hands...nothing. I microwave it for a few seconds. Now its too hot to handle, but still won't come out. I exchange it for a different tip...nothing. Now I'm freaking out, I take the dough out, try a different bag, put the dough back in, all the time losing dough in each transfer.
Finally, I replace the dough in the original bag, which by the way, has one section that stretched thin from melting the plastic, and take off the tip completely, leaving just the plastic piece that is inside the bag. This hole is big enough to pipe, but...its not completely round. Instead each piece I pipe has a little raised bump on the side, which I attempt to position on the bottoms. I'm mostly successful.
Anyway, now I've got them all piped, baked, and cooling on racks. Phase 2 complete.
But ohhhhh we're not done. Oh no. Now comes the drizzling.
It's a fun word, drizzle.
"Is it raining out?"
"No, only drizzling."
"Oh, great."
Not the case here. I melt the chocolate in two little separate ziploc bags, and snip off the tips and set to work.
When I'm done, the cookies look beautiful and like I put hours of work into them. Just the way I like it.
But then, I go to move them. Uh oh. I've placed the cookies so close together on the rack, that the chocolate strands have cooled as one long piece, effectively stringing every cookie together, and separating the chocolate from the cookie base. Oops.
I desperately attempt to break them apart while keeping the chocolate still on the cookie. I succeed somewhat.
You be the judge. Good thing the picture isn't that great.

Tip of the Day: Pay attention when a recipe calls for cooling in or out of the pan. You could end up with broken or crumbled cookies, or baked goods completely stuck inside a pan.

Glazed Cookie Sticks
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 oz white and dark chocolates

Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla in a bowl.
Mix in the flour, cornstarch and salt.
Fit a pastry bag with 1/2 inch tip, squeeze out 3 inch logs spaced 2 inches apart.
Bake 12 to 15 minutes until just golden at 350 F.
Transfer to racks to cool.
Melt chocolate in small bags and cut off corners.
Drizzle over cookies in decorative manner.
Let stand for 30 minutes until set.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Beauty is pain...and raspberries!

Wow, these were not easy. But, they tasted....AMAZING!These are Raspberry Shortbread Bars, which I found on, my bible. Now, once again, I halved this recipe, and made it in an 8x8, which turned out to be a mistake because they were gone in minutes. BUT, I discovered, for people just like me, a feature on RecipeZaar where you adjust the amount the recipe produces, and it changes all the ingredient amounts! No more "oops I put in 4 eggs instead of two"!
Anyway, back to the recipe. If you haven't noticed yet, I love raspberry. I would make all desserts with raspberry if I could. Well, I can, but sometimes variety is good too.
So, I found these, and all the reviews were good, and I wanted to make them asap, but I was a little concern. This recipe entails making the dough, freezing it in two balls, and then grating it into the pan. A little tough, but I figured - what the heck - lets try it out.
Now, this would certainly be a little easier if I had a food processor with me, but I don't. So I made the dough, froze it for about an hour, and set about the grating.
I won't lie to you people, it was tough. It took a while. And the dough started crumbling a little which made it harder. But I succeeded with no scraped knuckles or ruined nails (I hate when that happens) and put it in the oven to bake.
And oh, did I make the right choice. They were light, crumbly, sweet and delicious.
So do I recommend making them? Certainly. Without a food processor? Definitely not.
Make sure you freeze the dough in small enough sections to fit in your processor tube though.
Oh, and here's my biggest secret. I substituted margarine. For the butter. In shortbread. Blasphemous, I know. Don't report me. I was a little nervous, but I honestly can't see how they could be any more delicious.

Tip of the Day: If your jam or preserves are a little too thick to spread, microwave them for a few seconds until they loosen up, but don't overdo it!

Recipe: (from Recipezaar)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup blackberry or raspberry jam

Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add in egg yolks and beat until well mixed.
Pour in the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.
Turn the dough out onto a surface and form into two balls.
Wrap in saran wrap and freeze for two hours or overnight.
(Here is where you would make sure your pieces are food-processor sized).
Grate one of the balls and lightly press into a greased 8 inch square pan.
Spread the jam on top until 1/2 inch from side.
Top with remaining grated dough.
Bake on 350 F for 30 to 40 minutes or until light golden brown.
Cool in pan.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookie BAM!

Ah, this is a recipe for all you non-bakers out there: simple, sweet and delicious!
This is a giant chocolate chip cookie I made for my Dad's 50th birthday:
The recipe comes from the Food Network website, and its actually from Emeril Lagasse! Who knew Emeril baked?? Not me - I'm not sure how you could kick a cookie up one notch...well I supposed baking it in a pizza pan would do it!
Anyway, I was looking for something to make for my dad, but I didn't want to do a cake. I stumbled across this recipe, and I thought - perfect! Its easy, tastes good, and you can decorate it like a cake! So I did -The writing is done in store-bought writing icing, which I microwaved for a few seconds to make easier to do. I know, its a little bit off-center, but hey, nobody's perfect. Plus I knew my Dad would eat it anyway...he has to! (See that plate in the background? That's where I tested out all the icing tubes!)
Yeah, you're probably wondering about the apricots...Well, my Dad is a big fan, so I figured, why not put them on! Anyway I followed the recipe exactly, but I left out the white chocolate chips and nuts, just using semi-sweet chips. It was really tasty and went fast. Plus it just looks so adorable.

Tip of the Day: For easy clean up, line your baking sheets and dishes with parchment paper before baking.

2 sticks unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups plus 2 tbsp flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips AND
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (or 2 cups semi-sweet)

Beat the butter and sugars together.
Add in the eggs one at a time until well mixed. Add in the vanilla.
Gradually mix in the flour, baking soda and salt.
Stir in the chocolate chips.
Press into a foil-lined and greased 14-inch pizza pan.
Bake on 375 F for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown on the edges.
Cool in pan 10 minutes then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, February 2, 2009


I think this is the first cookie that I decided was more trouble than it was worth.
These are checkerboard cookies, and this recipe comes from, a site which is sadly no longer in operation. Anyway I made these in a spurt of adventure and inspiration, wanting to try something really outside my comfort zone. I don't generally make icebox cookies (where the dough is formed into a roll or log and chilled before slicing), but these looked oh so pretty, and I decided to give them a shot.
This recipe involves making the two different doughs (chocolate and vanilla), and layering them into the pattern you see above. Ooh boy, this is where it gets complicated. Plus, Dyann's instructions come exclusively in a video form, where you watch her do it. Yeah, I watched that video about 472 times. Basically, you keep layering (and sticking together with egg white) and slicing the dough until you form the adorable little checkerboard pattern. Layering and slicing, layering and slicing. I was sweating by the end of this one. Panicking as layers slid out of place and edges were sticking out, and the doughs weren't sticking together.
After a lot of praying and just a few mild obscenities, the logs came together and after I chilled them, sliced out into cute little slices.
Well, they did come out nice, although even in the picture you can tell alot of them are uneven, or have jagged edges. I'm just not sure I'd go through this again for this cookie.
Plus, if you promise not to tell anyone, I'll share a secret.
They just didn't taste that great.

Tip of the Day: If a recipe calls for two different doughs, make the vanilla one first, that way you don't need to clean the bowl in between batches.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Oh, this is hard

Oh, the wonders of cake decorating. If you do it right, the payoffs are huge.This is a cake I decorated for my friend Racheli's birthday. This was my first experiment with using fondant for decoration, a thick, creamy white frosting like substance that is popular among cake decorators because of its professional looking finish.
Throughout this process I learned many things about fondant.
1. It doesn't taste very good.
2. It can be quite difficult to work with (and dye).
3. If you pronounce the word a little funny, your friends will make fun of your for weeks.
Anyway, back to the great cake decorating adventure that is this post. And yes, I know there isn't really any baking involved here, (there was at the time - no store bought or mix cakes here) but bear with me.
Well anyway, I decided to purchase Wilton pre-made fondant at my local craft store, and dye it the colors of my choosing. The main covering is dyed a light pink, and, if you couldn't tell from this picture, the cake is covered in what is meant to be a string of pearls (see the clasp at the top?).
Well, this process began by dying most of the fondant pink, which took quite a while, resulted in sore arms, and dyed my hands red for a couple days. Beauty is pain people. Cake beauty that is.
So once the fondant was dyed, I rolled it out into what I determined to be a large enough size to cover the cake, and gently laid the fondant over the cake.
Problem number one: despite my eyeball calculations, the fondant came until just a centimeter off the cake board one on side, leaving a sliver of naked cake. Uhoh.
Now, if you look closely you can see the nice ring of fondant balls around the base of the cake. Yup, not in the original plan. Improvisation is the mark of all good cake decorators, no? Thats my motto anyway.
After that the remaining dying and decorating went relatively well, though I heartily recommend if you're not strapped for cash to buy black fondant pre-dyed if you need it. That food coloring definitely took its toll on my poor hands.
Well, this was experiment number one with the wonder that is fondant, and thank goodness the picture isn't good enough to show the lumps and bumps and imperfections.
Plus it's gone and eaten now - no evidence!

Tip of the Day: When working with fondant, make sure your hands, countertop and rolling pin are liberally covered with powdered sugar - you don't want your decorations to stick!