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Category Archives: Sweets

Homemade Oreos

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Weekend highlights:

Granola for dinner. French fries for dessert.

Reading The Help.

Dinner with Cleo Delphine and Vida Jewel (and Seleta and Jesse).

Oversized hat optional.

Cuddles. Flowers. Flours.

Morning runs.

Baseball.

Dinner from the grill (and bleu cheese grits):

Dinner for two

Oh, and homemade oreos. Definite highlight.

What surprised me most about these cookies is how easy they were. Something about homemade oreos seems like it would be complicated. Probably because if you look at the ingredients label of real oreos it’s kind of scary. What exactly is high oleic canola oil? Vanillin? Oh and don’t forget the high fructose corn syrup (because sugar wasn’t enough).

Listen. I love real oreos as much as the next girl. I’m just saying. Do yourself a favor and reduce the amount of high fructose corn syrup in your diet. Make these instead.

These chocolate cookies alone are gooooood. And the oreos keep surprisingly well! In fact, I think they might even be better after a couple of days. Like wine… a cookie that gets better with age.

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Cookies:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room temp butter

1 large egg

Filling:

1/2 stick butter

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

2 cups sifted confectioners sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

For the cookies:

Preheat oven to 375. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Put flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder in the bowl of your mixer. Mix on low to fully combine. While on low speed, add your butter then the egg. Mix and mix until dough comes together in a ball.

Place rounded teaspoons of dough on cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Now, I don’t usually use a measuring spoon for cookies but for these I did because I wanted them to be small and I usually get a little carried away 🙂 Slightly flatten the tops of the cookies (my friend had a good idea if you have a cool stamp, you could try stamping the tops like an oreo!). Bake for 8-9 minutes, rotating halfway. Let cool for a minute on the tray and then transfer to a rack.

While the cookies are cookin, use a mixer to mix together the butter and shortening. Gradually mix in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for a few minutes to make it light and fluffy.

Use a knife or small spatula to apply about a tablespoon of filling in between two cookies. The filling recipe makes just about the perfect amount of filling for all the cookies.

Get a glass of milk and enjoy!

PB Sammy Cookies

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Can we talk about peanut butter for a second?

Is that even a real question? As you may recall, I. Love. Peanut Butter. I cannot imagine children who are allergic to peanuts. It must be tramatizing.

Sorry. That was mean. I just can’t imagine my life without pb! Something as good as peanut butter deserves a top-ten list:

Top 10 Reasons I love Peanut Butter:

10. You can pair peanut butter with meat.

9. You can pair peanut butter with vegetables.

8. You can pair peanut butter with fruit.

7. You can pair peanut butter with grains:

Put peanut butter in your oatmeal! Do it!

6. You can pair peanut butter with dairy. (That’s every food group I just paired peanut butter with!)

5. Peanut butter can be eaten with lots of different devices: knives, spoons, forks, fingers

4. There is a peanut butter for everyone!

I like the fake kind for baking

3. I eat peanut butter when I’m happy!

2. I eat peanut butter when I’m sad!

1. Number one reason I love peanut butter? It can be nutritious. It can be unhealthy. It can be anything you want it to be! What’s not to love?

These cookies are kind of like home-made Nutter Butters.

I’m into that.

I’m going to go ahead and confess right now that I used granulated sugar in the filling by accident (as opposed to confectioners). It was grittier. But no less delicious. Peanut Butter. Somethin to stand for:

Recipe from here.

1/2 cup (1 stick)

butter, at room temp

3/4 cup smooth peanut butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

Filling:

2 cups crunchy peanut butter

1/2 cup butter, at room temp

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375. Line baking sheets with parchment.

In a mixing bowl, mix butter and peanut butter until fully combined (about 2-3 minutes). Add granulated sugar and brown sugar and mix until light and fluffy. Then add the egg and beat for another minute.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Gradually add to your peanut butter mixture with mixer on low speed. Refridgerate for 30 minutes.

While the cookie dough is chillin, make your fillin:

Beat together peanut butter, butter, and heavy cream for about 2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until fully combined.

When the dough is chilled, drop about 1 tbs of slightly rounded dough onto cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Dip a fork in granulated sugar and press down slightly on the tops to get your fork-marks. Bake for 7-10 minutes.

Let the cookies cool for as long as you can stand it on a rack. Use a knife to put about 1.5 tbs (or as much as you like!) on the bottom side of one cookie and top with the bottom side of another cookie! This just got good! (I had pleeenty of leftover filling so don’t be shy with it!)

Bon Appetit!

CinnaMONEY Rolls

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I made these little biddies for brunch last weekend. Here’s the thing. I’m not gonna lie to you. There are a lot of steps involved in making cinnamoney rolls from scratch. I’m not saying they’re difficult steps. It’s just a lot of steps.

I want to be honest and upfront with you about this. Mostly because all of the blogs I perused to find a recipe taunted me by telling me they “made them for breakfast this morning!” Well, here’s the thing. You would have had to get up 4 hours before breakfast if that were true. Don’t try and convince me you did that.

Or the other blog that told me about how when you’re sad, you make cinnamon rolls. Yeah? You’re depressed and willing to wait 4 hours for gratification? We must have different definitions of sad. When I’m sad, I need something more instant. Like Hershey’s Hugs. Those work well. Or a box of Oreos. That could suffice…. but making cinnamon rolls? Please.

What I’m trying to say is 1) Make these little friends the night before! Let them rise in the fridge so you can bake them in the morning! Still a lot of steps, but I’m saving you valuable hours of beauty rest here.

and 2) if someone ever makes cinnamoney rolls for you, they love you a whole whole lot.  I made these for my family and B, both of which I love a whole whole lot so it worked out well!

I hope I haven’t deterred you too much from making these. MAKE THEM! LOVE PEOPLE A WHOLE WHOLE LOT! Bake something with lots of steps so that it is 2389 times more rewarding! DO IT!

Recipe adapted from here:

Dough:

1 package active dry yeast

1/2 tsp. plus 1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk at room temp.

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 3/4 cups flour, sifted*.

3/4 tsp salt

1 stick unsalted butter, very soft

Filling:

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 tbs cinnamon

pinch of salt

pinch of ground cloves

2 tbs maple syrup

4 oz. cream cheese

4 tbs. butter, melted

Dough:

If you have a mixer and a dough hook, you are in luck! If you have a hand mixer and no other fancy attachments… well it’s going to get messy. But it can be done!

Start by combining yeast, 1/2 tsp sugar*, and 1/4 cup water heated to 115 degrees (until the water is hot to the touch of the underside of your wrist!). Stir it a little and let it proof for about 10 minutes until foamy. Add remaining sugar, light brown sugar, milk, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk*.  Beat on low speed until fully combined. Add your flour and salt and mix on medium until dough forms. Then mix a little longer (this would be in place of “kneading.” The dough is too wet for traditional kneading but the idea is the same: make that dough smooth).

Remove bowl from mixer. Cover with plastic and a towel and let rise for 2 hours in a warm place.

Get your filling ready: mix together sugars, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Then mix in maple syrup*.

When the dough is doubled in size, punch it down (something very rewarding about this). Turn it out on a very heavily floured surface. Knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Now, roll the dough into a square (about 10×10). Using a mixer or knife, “whip” the cream cheese until spreadable. Then spread it over the top of your dough square.

Fold the dough into thirds like you’re about to put it in an envelope and mail it to your best friend. Then fold it again in thirds so you have a nice compact square. Now roll that down (again. rewarding). Roll into about a 10 x 20 rectangle.

Brush the top of your dough rectangle with the melted butter (be generous). Then, using your hands or whatever feels right, spread the filling on top of the dough, slightly pressing the filling into the dough. Leave a small 1” perimeter without filling around the corner of the dough*.

Now the fun part! Roll the dough (kind of tightly) into a dough log. Cut into 8-9 slices and arrange in a well-buttered 9×13 baking dish. How pretty is that!?

Cover with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge to rise over night (or if you’re the crazy who woke up 4 hours in advance, let rise another 2 hours).

Sleep.

Wake up! Take the happy rolls out of the fridge and let rest for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375. Bake about 30 minutes (I did more like 25). While your rolls are baking prepare the icing:

Icing:

2 cups confectioners sugar

1/4 cup buttermilk.

Whisk them together! Add more sugar if you want thicker icing. Add more buttermilk if you want thinner.

After the rolls come out of the oven use a spoon to drizzle the icing goodness all over the cinnaMONEY roll goodness. EAT!

*Anytime you see an asterisk is a place that I messed up when making these and did something wrong. Just know that even though I forgot to sift my flour; used the whole 1/4 cup sugar to let the yeast proof; thought that the “egg yolk” said “egg white” and added a white instead of a yolk, and then corrected it by adding the yolk and therefore used two eggs; didn’t have maple syrup and just used plain old log cabin syrup; and left way too big of a filling-less perimeter around the dough pre-rolling, these still turned out GREAT! Yes. Baking is a science. But don’t be deterred if you miss a step! Things have a way of working out.

Brownie Town

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This blog is supposed to be about baking! I’ve kind of veered off the path the past few posts, it’s time to get back to my roots. Brownies. A good stand by that can make anyone happy. Maybe you’ve been having ice cream for dessert and are getting bored? Add some brownies to that ice cream! Upgrade!

These little guys were hanging out outside my window. Chickies like brownies too!

Prepared.

 Look at that flour jar. I love having my baking ingredients in jars like that. I’m on the hunt for a good jar for sugar. Ideas welcome.

Mixing the dry into the wet. And yes, that may or may not be french fries that just came out of the oven in the corner there. No need for judgment.

Brownies and ice cream! Match made in heaven.

Recipe adapted from here:

-½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
-8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped if you’re using blocks
-1/4 cup cocoa powder
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-1 ¼ cups sugar
-1/2 tsp salt
-3 large eggs
-1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8×8 baking dish. Use loooots of butter for the bottom so the brownies will come out cleanly.

Prepare your dry ingredients: whisk together cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and flour. Set aside.

Temper your chocolate: place chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl and set over pan on the stove with simmering water. You want to make sure the water level is low enough so it’s not going to touch the bottom of your bowl… stir occasionally until almost completely melted. Remove from heat and stir until fully melted and combined.

Whisk in your sugar into the melty chocolate butter mixture until smooth. Mix in the eggs.

Add your dry ingredients into the mix slowly until fully incorporated but avoid over-mixing. I used a whisk for this, but would recommend a spatula at this point in the game.

At this point you could also add in some walnuts? Or maybe chocolate chips? White chocolate chips? Go wild.

Pour batter into dish. Stick it in the oven and let cook for 40-50 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean. The instruction say to let cool completely in dish. Good luck waiting that long before digging in! Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Bars with Chocolate Frosting

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Feliz cinco de mayo a todos!!

OK. this post has nothing to do with cinco de mayo. But I do love this holiday. Despite the fact the US is really the only country who cares about it…. but Americans do love any excuse to eat Mexican food and drink Tecate and Margaritas! Can you blame us?!

I have been away far too long again. I promise I won’t make a habit of it. We moved last weekend to the most magical cottage I have ever lived in. It is tucked on a mountain where quails walk by my kitchen window and wild turkeys hang out across the street. And my kitchen! It’s about 23098 times better than my last kitchen. I will be sure to give you a full tour of it when it’s all settled and decorated. In the meantime, this post is a sneak peek.

I love peanut butter (Mom used to have to hide the jar from me in high school because I would eat too much. hehe). You will probably end up seeing a lot of posts involving this ingredient. Not only because I love it, but because Brett loves it. It’s probably about time you meet Brett.

Guapo

He is the consumer of all my baked goods (along with his willing coworkers). And recently he has become the resident dishwasher! I am thrilled about this new title.  🙂

Ok there will be more about him later. Now for the reason you’re here:

Dark brown sugar and butter. What’s not to like? (note, this is on a gas burner. did I mention I love my new kitchen??)

It was really hard for me not to eat more than one spoonful of this. My Mama would be proud. (speaking of spoonfuls, look at my spoonrest in the background! She’s new and I love her.)

This was my first time making chocolate frosting. It came out delicious! And so easy!

Recipe adapted from Joy The Baker

10 tbs butter cut into 5 cubes

2 cups dark brown sugar

1 cup smooth (natural) peanut butter*

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 325. Grease a 9 x 13 pan.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt together butter and sugar. Set aside and let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. Add peanut butter to butter and sugar mixture and mix well. Let cool a little while longer. Then whisk in the eggs and vanilla (make sure mixture is cool so the eggs don’t cook! yuck!).

Now add your dry ingredients to the peanut butter mixture all at once and stir til combined. This dough is much thicker than I was expected. Almost like a cookie dough. “Pour” the batter into your 9×13 evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before frosting!

Milk Chocolate Frosting:

6 tbs butter, softened

3 tbs unsweetinged cocoa powder

1/5-2 cups powdered sugar

3 tbs milk

3/4 cup milk chocolate chips, melted

Using a mixer, beat together butter and cocoa powder. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1 tbs milk.  Mix for a bit. Then add 1 cup powdered sugar and 2 tbs milk. Mix more. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. Add chocolate and mix well. Add the remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar to reach your desired thickness (I used the full 1/2 cup). 

After peanutbutter bars have cooled, spread frosting. Devour immediately. And/Or, upon Brett’s insistence I put them in the fridge overnight so that today they were a little crunchier. Personally, I think they’re delicious either way.

*Now, I typically swear by using only “fake” peanut butter when baking (there’s something to be said about high fructose corn syrup in peanut butter). But I only had natural. And it worked out great! In fact, I think the “fake” peanut butter might have been too sweet with the dark brown sugar.

Home Grown Lemon Bars

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California smells good in the spring.

More importantly, California has a spring. I’ve been living on the east coast where I feel too often we jumped straight from cold to hot. It’s been in the 60’s for about a month here. Flowers are blooming and oh so fragrant.

But wait, it gets better: there are citrus trees everywhere! I’m not kidding! It is such a treat to see them all around… as common as daffodils on the east coast!

So when your boss brings in a bag of 20+ lemons from his backyard… you make lemon bars.

If that’s not a good enough reason, here are a few more: they are the perfect spring time treat, you will get lemon juice all over your hands and then smell like lemons for the rest of the day, and they are the happiest yellow you’ve ever seen.

I knew the happy yellow would win you over…

Crumbly dough for crust

Main squeeze.

Lemons proved to be very photogenic and love to have their pictures taken!

Filling so good you will want to drink it.

If you’re like me, you may be expecting the filling to be more curd-like. But really it’s going to be quite viscous. I recommend trying not to dip your finger in for a taste as you will then be overwhelmed with the urge to drink the whole thing.

Letting it cool for 30 minutes before slicing... longest 30 minutes of my life.

Recipe (adapted from the Grand Central Baking Book):

Crust:

2.5 cups flour

3/4 tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Filling:

6 eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups sugar

1/4 cup plus 1 tbs flour

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 6 lemons)

1 tbs lemon zest (I recommend zesting before you squeeze the lemons!)

1/2 cup milk

1/2 tsp salt

confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350. Generously coat 9×13 pan with spray or butter

Make the crust: Whisk flour and salt together. Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (hint: I never remember to put my butter out to let it get to room temperature. Stick it in the microwave for 15-20 seconds to soften works just as well… be careful not to melt it though!). Add vanilla and mix. Add dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated, yet still crumbly (see picture above)…

Put your crumbles in the pan and distribute evenly. Don’t press the crumbles too much along the bottom, but do push up on the sides (about half way up the pan) to contain the filling. Bake for 25-30 minutes until browned and a little toasty.

While the crust is baking, make your filling! Whisk together eggs, flour, and sugar. Stir in lemon juice, zest, milk, and salt. That’s it! (how easy was that?!)

When your crust is done, turn the oven temp down to 325. Whisk the filling a little to remix it before pouring it over the warm crust (it will sizzle a little, which is strangely rewarding).

Stick that puppy back in the oven (use two hands!) for about 20-25 minutes. The filling should be firm to the touch when done. A good way to judge is when you move the pan, the filling should be pretty solid and not slosh around. Let them cool to room temperature on wire rack (or oven coils in my case), about 30 minutes (I know. Torture.). Cut into whatever size you desire your squares to be. Dust generously with confectioners’ sugar and devour. I’m so excited for you to get to this point! YUM!