Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies



  While everyone in our family would give you a different answer if asked to name their favorite dessert, no one can pass up a good cookie. We have been on a cookie baking streak lately, and in addition to some old favorites I recently tried these oatmeal raisin ones from Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery cookbook. Previously, oatmeal raisin cookies were in the second choice, "does not contain chocolate" category, but this recipe has most definitely changed our minds.

 They are big and buttery, crispy on the edges and chewy in the center. The spices are subtle and warm, while the raisins are soft and sweet. It's true that there is no chocolate, but we love these cookies just as they are. I have already made them several times at the request of my chocolate loving family, and that's a sure sign that these are delicious and deserve their turn in the cookie spotlight. 


Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
 Thomas  Keller

144 grams   (1 cup 1 teaspoon ) all purpose flour
7.7 grams  (1 tablespoon)  ground cinnamon 
7.4 grams  (1 1/2 teaspoons ) baking soda
3.6 grams (1 1/4 teaspoons) kosher salt
140 grams (1/2 cup + 3 1/2 tablespoons) light brown sugar
69 grams (1/4 cup +1 1/2 tablespoon) granulated sugar
155 grams (5.5 ounces) unseated butter room temperature
62 grams eggs (1 large)
7.7 grams vanilla bean paste or 1 teaspoon vanilla
155 grams (2cups) old fashion oats
156 grams (1cup) mixed raisins* we used craisins

1. Place flour,salt,baking soda and cinnamon in a bowl and whisk to combine.
2. Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment . Beat the butter on medium low until it is the consistency of mayonnaise . Add the sugars and mix for 3-4 minutes, until fluffy. Scrape the side and bottom of the bowl.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix on low for 15-30 seconds.do not over whip.
3. Add the dry ingredients in two additions, mixing on low speed for 15-30 seconds after each addition. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure the flour is completely incorporated. Add the oats and mix for a minute or two. Quickly fold in the raisins. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
Baking: heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment or use silpats . Using a large scoop place the cookies about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet . Bake for 15 minutes turning pans 1/2 through baking. Cool on the pan for 5-10 minutes than transfer to a rack to cool completely.
printable recipe






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Monday, May 12, 2014

Nilla Wafers

We all have favorite treats from our childhood, and as much fun as it is to buy a nostalgic treat at the store from time to time, it is even more fun to make them. Mr. Mimi has a great love for the classics, and Nilla Wafers are high on his list, so when I saw a recipe to make them at home I jumped at the chance to recreate one of his favorite after school snacks from his elementary school days.

While these cookies look a little different than the ones from the yellow box, the rich vanilla flavor combined with the crisp, but not too hard cookie, definitely hits all the same notes. I had plans to make cookie sandwiches and dunk some in chocolate, but before I could even make a batch of ganache, these cookies were gone. According to some of my family, the classics are best left alone. Lucky for me, these cookies are pretty easy to make, and I can have a double batch ready to go in no time- half for the purists, and half for the adventurers




Vanilla Wafers

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2010
makes about 6 dozen

Ingredients


7 ounces all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

3 1/2 ounces vanilla sugar

1 large egg

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 tablespoon whole milk


Directions

Position 1 oven rack in the top third of the oven and another in the bottom third. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.


Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and vanilla sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl after 1 minute. Add the egg and incorporate on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl. Add the vanilla extract and milk and blend on low speed for 15 seconds. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed just to incorporate. Chill the batter in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes before scooping.


Scoop the batter in teaspoon-sized balls and arrange them on 2 parchment paper-lined half sheet pans, approximately 35 cookies per pan. Use the heel of your hand to slightly flatten each ball. Bake, 2 pans at a time, rotating the pans halfway through the baking, until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pans to a cooling rack to cool completely before removing the cookies from the pan.




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Monday, April 7, 2014

Peanut Butter Cranberry Energy Bars


When Mini Me started college, she found her schedule packed with long days on the go with little time for a substantial breakfast or lunch. I wanted to make her a portable snack that would give her energy and brain power throughout the day, but without crazy ingredients or the protein powder after taste. Mini Me loves peanut butter which is a good source of protein and healthy fats, so that was a good starting point in searching for a recipe to try. During my search for a portable snack bar I came across this Sunset Magazine article on homemade energy bars and decided to give them a shot.
I have been making these bars for the last 4 years while she has been in school, and I know I will make them long after she graduates. They are moist and soft, and packed with good for you ingredients. These bars are quick to make and travel well. With approximately 210 calories, 24 grams of carbohydrates and 7 grams of protein in each bar, these make a perfect grab and go item on your way out the door at the beginning of a busy day. I wrap the bars individually in plastic wrap, put them in a gallon sized ziplock bag and send them to Mini Me every few weeks. She keeps them in the freezer and tosses one in her backpack as she heads to class and I'm happy knowing she has a tasty, healthy snack in her bag just in case she doesn't have time to stop and eat during the day. 


Peanut Butter Cranberry Energy Bars
adapted from Sunset Magazine

1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup oat or wheat bran
3 Tbs ground flax seeds
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp each baking powder and salt
1/2 cup each chopped peanuts, dried cranberries, and finely chopped dates
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup low fat milk
1 large egg
1/2 cup honey
Zest from one orange
1 Tbs fresh orange juice.

Line a 9x13 pan with plastic wrap. In a large bowl, stir together oats, bran, flax, flour, baking powder, salt, peanuts, cranberries and dates.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together peanut butter, milk, egg, honey, orange zest and orange juice until well blended.

Add flour mixture and beat until completely blended. Scrape dough into prepared pan and with wet fingers or a rubber spatula, pat to fill pan completely and evenly. Chill dough until firm, about 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 300 F. Invert pan onto a work surface, lift off pan, and peel away plastic wrap. Using a bench scraper or knife cut straight in half length wise. Then cut each length into 8 bar about 1 1/2 inches wide. Place bars about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with a slip at or parchment paper. Bake bars until lightly browned and somewhat firm to touch, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
printable recipe

 
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Monday, March 3, 2014

Irish Cream Chocolate Cupcakes


March is definitely the month of all things Irish, and that includes many delicious food items, from a warm bowl of Irish oatmeal in the morning to a relaxing cup of coffee with a generous splash of Bailey's after dinner. If you really want to up the Irish-ness, you could enjoy one of these Bailey's cupcakes along with your Irish coffee. When I stopped by recently to enjoy the goodies on Sprinkle Bakes, I immediately knew these would make an appearance on our table well before St. Patrick's Day.
This chocolatey cupcake has a Bailey's ganache in the center and is topped with a Bailey's buttercream. Although the original recipe includes a hot fudge sauce on top that sounds wonderful, I omitted it for the sake of portable and easy eating. However, if I were serving these on a plate with a fork, I would most definitely drizzle that on top.

I highly recommend that you stop over at Sprinkle Bakes to see her beautiful desserts and a video  on her Irish cream hot fudge cupcakes, but be prepared to immediately want to get in the kitchen to make these. 


Bailey's Cupcake 
Sprinkle Bakes

Cakes
1/2 cup Irish Cream liqueur, or two mini bottles (50 ml each)
3 tablespoons well-beaten egg 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup strongly brewed coffee

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with 6 large or 9 standard  muffin papers 

Place Irish Cream liqueur, egg, and vanilla in cup; beat together vigorously with a fork, set aside.

Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and liquid mixture; beat with an electric mixer on low speed until dry ingredients are moistened.  Add coffee and beat again until well incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl using a rubber spatula and beat well again.

Divide batter between muffin cups.  Bake for 25-27 minutes or until cupcakes spring back when pressed in the center. Cool completely on a wire rack.


Chocolate Ganache Filling

1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp. heavy cream
1 cup milk chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Irish Cream liqueur (about half a mini bottle)
Combine heavy cream and chocolate chips in a medium saucepan or a microwaveable bowl.  Heat on medium low until chips are melted and can be stirred smooth.  If using the microwave, heat at 30 second intervals until completely melted and mixture can be stirred smooth.  Add butter in pieces and stir until melted.  Add Irish cream.  Stir well.  Refrigerate until ganache is thickened but still fairly soft.
Cut a large divot out of each cupcake and fill with ganache. 


Irish Cream Buttercream Frosting

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup plus two tablespoons Irish cream (about 1 1/2 mini bottles)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Combine butter and confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl and mix on low speed with a hand mixer until just combined.  Gradually add in Irish cream.  Scrape down sides of bowl  and mix in vanilla.  Beat on high speed until light and fluffy.  Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large closed star tip.  Pipe frosting over the surface of the cupcakes.


 
Irish Cream Hot Fudge Sauce

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup coffee
1/2 cup Irish cream (2 mini bottles)

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Whisk to incorporate.  Bring to a boil and let bubble one minute.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly before pouring into the empty Irish cream bottles.
Pour a scant 1/4 cup of hot fudge sauce in each empty Irish cream bottle. Turn them upright and press the bottle neck into the frosting and down to the chocolate ganache filling.  Sprinkle with cocoa powder and serve.
****2x recipe made 18 standard cupcakes, 1.5x ganache filled 18 cupcakes and frosting recipe was enough to frost all 18
 
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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Pirate Cupcakes and Cookies

Anyone who knows a little guy around the age of 5 has most likely gone through a pirate stage. I know we sure did. When Boy Mimi was much younger he would play outside for hours at a time with his big plastic pirate ship and pirate men.
 
 Although Boy Mimi is way past the pirate phase now, our good friend Little E recently had a birthday that was all about pirates. To go with all the decorations, costumes, treasure chests, and the hunt for gold, he naturally needed some pirate themed treats to round out his party. 

 
We used our favorite sugar cookie recipe for the pirate ship cookies and used royal icing to decorate them, and for the cupcakes we made Martha Stewart's chocolate cupcakes. Since most little pirates don't like fondant, we used buttercream frosting and used the back of a paper towel to smooth the surface and give the face some texture. The eye patch, eye, mouth and nose were done with extra royal icing from the cookies. For the tie on the bandanna, we used a small heart sprinkle with the pointy end pushed into the cake, and the white dots were small round candy confetti.

The flags on top of the pirate ships came from a cupcake liner set from Michael's. We used the liners for the cupcakes, and used melted chocolate to glue the decorative flags onto the top of the cookies. You could easily make you own by printing out small pirate flags and gluing them onto a toothpick before attaching them to the cookies.


We had such a good time contributing to Little E's pirate party and making some fun new desserts, and can't wait until the next party!

Martha Stewart One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes
 adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes
 makes 18


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour 
3/4 cups unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder** I used Hershey's regular cocoa 
1 1/2 cups sugar 
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
3/4 teaspoon baking powder 
3/4 teaspoon salt 
2 large eggs 
3/4 cups buttermilk 
3 tablespoons vegetable oil 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
3/4 cup warm water 

Preheat oven to 350F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. With an electric mixer on medium speed whisk together flour, cocoa,sugar, baking soda,baking powder and salt. Reduce speed to low add eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and water:beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Divided the batter evenly amount the lined cups, filling each about 2/3 full**I filled them only half full since I wanted a flat surface to decorate. Bake, rotating tins half way through baking. Bake about 20 minutes until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer tins to a rack to cool 10 minutes; turnout cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Frost as desired. 
printable recipe

Buttercream Frosting

1 cup softened butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup milk
pinch of salt
4 cups of sifted powdered sugar 
Color as desired

1. Cream the butter and slowly add powdered sugar and beat until fairly well incorporated, mixture will be crumbly.
2. Add milk and vanilla beat at medium-low speed until combined and then up your speed to med-high and beat until light and fluffy, 7 to 10 minutes.

printable recipe



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