2008-10-07

Update Your Bookmarks and RSS Feeds

We've moved! Update your bookmarks and RSS feeds... and visit me at http://www.TheRepressedPastryChef.com woohoo!!!
I hope you'll continue reading!! :)
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2008-10-06

Moving Day Is Almost Here

Be sure to update your bookmarks and your RSS feeds because The Repressed Pastry Chef is on the move!

As of Tuesday October 7, 2008 my blog will have a new home and a whole new look. 

Is this exciting, or what!?!?!!!!!!



Hi everybody... I'm taking The Repressed Pastry Chef to a brand new location at http://www.TheRepressedPastryChef.com

If you've enjoyed my blog here on Blogger, I hope you'll consider joining me over at my new home :) It's been a blast here but the time has come to kick things up a notch. All the old posts, comments, recipes and pictures have been packed up and loaded onto the moving truck... and I hope you'll caravan along too.

Have a delicious day!

Love,
Marlena... aka "Em"
The Repressed Pastry Chef

...vroom vroom!! beep beep... Let's go!!

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2008-10-04

Mocha Cappuccino Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins


Now that I'm sitting among really nice "neighbors" at work, I've been re-invigorated in my baking. Last weekend I bought a couple of bananas with the intention of making banana muffins. They were barely ripened when I bought them... still just a tinge of green... but I figured a few days at home and they'd start getting brown soon enough. Well, in the process of waiting, The Hubs got rather impatient and asked if I'd please make them "soon". I had intended on making chocolate chip muffins that night but ended up with these instead ;-) Since even the smell of coffee does a number on my stomach... and I'm allergic to bananas... and I'm not a big fan of chocolate.... well, this was a great muffin to make because it held absolutely no temptation for me! LOL!! Apparently the same can't be said for those who ate them because they were gobbled up with glee and I got tons of praise from loads of smiling faces :)

If you're into baking and have a Cost Plus World Market store near you, I recommend checking them out. They have all sorts of interesting things you won't find in the regular grocery store. For example... Lyle's Golden Syrup. I've read about this but never found it in the grocery store but at CPWM one night, they had it so I grabbed a jar and ran off like a thief in the night! Okay, so that's a little exaggerated... but that jar is now mine after a stop at the check out counter of course ;-) I can't remember why I wanted it so badly but I'm sure it was in a recipe or two that I came across and wanted to try. Trouble is, now that I have it, I can't recall what the recipes are or where I found them :( Hey, if you've got some recipes that include Lyle's Golden Syrup, help a blogger out and leave a comment for me will ya? Thanks! LOL

Recently on a trip to CPWM, I came across a big bag of E.Guittard Cappuccino baking chips. I'm not one who can resist baking chips, especially those that are slightly out of the ordinary so of course I bought them (having absolutely NO idea of when or how I'd use them LOL!). So as the Chocolate Chip muffins I had wanted to make suddenly included bananas at the request of DH I decided to throw caution to the wind and incorporate his next suggestion of a coffee-flavored base... and since those cappuccino baking chips were staring at me rather forlornly from the pantry, yeah, I threw those in too! LOL! DH loved the batter, I mean, he licked the paddle clean and then started in on cleaning the bowl... with his fingers!!! Wow - that's saying something because he rarely cares for that, usually preferring to wait for the finished product.

After it was all baked, he proclaimed this muffin to be so good and so delicious in flavor that he would actually BUY it in a store. O-M-G! I won't say he's cheap because he's definitely not, but the times when he will spend money on something like that which he considers to be absolutely unnecessary and "foo-foo" are ridiculously few and far between. He'd rather save the moolah and buy something at ManLand (aka Home Depot for those who don't know! LOL!!). So, for my wonderful husband to say he'd actually spend money and buy these muffins at a retail location can only mean one thing.... YOU GOTTA MAKE 'EM!!!

I suspect they're best eaten warm when the chocolate chips are all melty and gooey but those who have eaten them say they're just plain good - warm or at room temperature. Eh, go figure. And if you don't happen to have cappuccino baking chips, no worry, you can always omit them. It's all good :)



Mocha Cappuccino Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Ingredients
1 cup butter
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 egg
2 bananas
2 tablespoons instant coffee dissolved in 1/2c warm (not hot) water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup cappuccino baking chips

Method
Preheat oven to 350 F
Spray muffin tins with baking spray.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and combine well. Add the banana and combine well. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dissolved coffee, then the vanilla and combine well. Add flour, salt, baking powder and soda and mix just until combined. Add chocolate chips and the cappuccino chips and mix to incorporate. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center contains moist crumbs. Do not overbake. Cool in pan 5 minutes then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Have a delicious day!

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2008-10-03

Cherry Almond Cupcakes


I made these cupcakes a few weeks back. They're extremely tasty... especially if you're a fan of almond since the cherry adds a nice variation. I never quite got around to posting them perhaps because I thought the pictures really didn't turn out well. They're not hideous, but they're not "good". I was reading another baking/food blog the other day and she posted something she didn't feel was gorgeously photographed but shared it anyway because the recipe was worth it. Well, that sums up my feelings today... the photography isn't stellar but the cupcakes are so tasty that I simply have to share!




Cherry Almond Cupcakes

Ingredients
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup milk
20 fresh cherries, pitted and halved (divided use)


optional crushed almonds for garnish and melted chocolate for decorating


Directions
Preheat oven to 300F
Line 18 muffin tins with paper liners
Set aside 18 cherry halves

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar and beat until fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add eggs and extracts, beating well after each addition. Add one-third of the dry ingredients, then half the milk; repeat and mix until well combined. Add in the remaining cherries that were not set aside and mix only until cherries are well distributed. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins about 3/4 full. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in tins for 10 minutes, then remove and let cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

For the frosting make a half-batch of the buttercreme icing recipe found here and mix in a few fresh cherries (about a half-dozen to a dozen depending on personal preference), pitted and chopped very small (almost to the point of being mashed).

Once the cupcakes have been frosted, garnish each with a half-cherry, some crushed almonds and a drizzle of melted chocolate.

Enjoy!

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2008-10-02

Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Cookies


When I lived in the Washington DC area, my favorite breakfast on a cold winter morning was oatmeal. But it had to be a cold morning... it had to be a morning when I didn't have to rush off to work... and my oatmeal had to be full of brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins. Now I'm back in the suburbs of the Los Angeles area and here a "cold winter morning" is when the temperature is in the neighborhood of 60 degrees (hardly cold if you ask me! LOL). Since our weather doesn't afford me the chance to enjoy oatmeal very often I thought I'd transform that favorite breakfast into a cookie. Turns out, it's a very good cookie at that!!

We're undergoing a lot of, uhm, turmoil at work. Interesting choice of words since "turmoil" is an understatement. One of the most recent changes (and exceptionally minor in comparison to everything else) has been a completely new seating arrangement. I spend my days in a cube farm and I used to have a great location, window view and all. But that all changed a couple of weeks ago and now I am so far removed from a window view that fire & brimstone could rain down from the sky and I'd never know it. Sad but true. One very nice thing about my new cube location is "the neighborhood"... the people there are very very nice and best of all they love to eat my baked goods :) YAY!!! Yesterday I brought them muffins (which I shall post about very soon... I promise) and they were a big hit. Today I'm bringing them cookies. I hope they like them - I know the hubs and I sure did :) :)




Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup butter flavored shortening
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins
2 cups cinnamon baking chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Line cookie sheets with Sil-pat, silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter, shortening and brown sugar. Add the egg and vanilla then mix until ribbony smooth. Add in the flour, salt and baking soda - mix until thoroughly combined. Add the cinnamon baking chips and mix to combine. Stir in the rolled oats.

Roll tablespoon size mounds of dough into balls and place on prepared cookie sheet. Flatten slightly.
Bake for 14 minutes in the preheated oven.

Remove from oven and cool on pan for 3-5 minutes then remove to wire rack and cool completely.

Enjoy!
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2008-09-30

Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee - TwD


No matter where, no matter when, créme brulée has always been one of my absolute favorite desserts. I think it always will be :) It's Tuesday... we're baking with Dorie... and the recipe is créme brulée. It does not get better than this!!!

This week's host of Tuesdays with Dorie was Mari at Mevrouw Cupcake and I'm so glad she chose this specific recipe. I'll admit I've made créme brulée countless times but I could make it countless more and still never get enough. Many people think of this as being a rather high end dessert and feel too intimidated to even consider making créme brulée. If you're one of them, I encourage you to shake off your inhibitions and give it a try because it's a lot easier than you think. The basic ingredients are heavy cream, milk, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract. Not low in calories but it's a special treat for a special occasion (like, uhm, the last Monday of the month? yeah, that's the ticket!!) so let yourself indulge just a little :)

Traditionally, créme brulée is a baked egg custard with a caramelized (burnt) sugar "shell" that, if you ask me, is the best part. Breaking thru that crunchy brulée to the silky custard below is just heaven on a spoon :) I've previously posted a recipe for Lavender Créme Brulée using a method that differs from Dorie's. I'm used to baking these in a water bath that keeps the custard from scorching. Not so in Dorie's recipe as she does not use the water bath. But it's all good, she bakes them at an extremely low temperature (200 F) so the custard doesn't burn. The recipe says to bake for 50-60 minutes but realistically it takes more like 90 minutes to reach the correct consistency to remove them from the oven. There are so many variations and flavors that can be created but I chose to go the classic route and use vanilla bean - it just gives such a tremendous flavor.



After the custards are baked and refrigerated it's time to create the brulée... sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over the top and hit it with a blowtorch. As the sugar heats it will liquify, change to a gorgeous golden color and then harden as it cools. If you don't have a blowtorch, in the recipe Dorie gives instruction for creating the brulée under the broiler. And speaking of the recipe, it can be found at our host's blog Mevrouw Cupcake. Also check out the other TwD bakers to see their creations as well.



Have a delicious day!
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2008-09-27

Lavash Crackers - Daring Bakers September Challenge


It's nearing the end of the month which means it's time to reveal the Daring Bakers Challenge. This month I stepped completely outside of my usual world of cookies, cakes and all things sweet and back into the realm of breads and yeast. The challenge for September was to make these crispy, crunchy, tasty Armenian-style crackers. Savory or sweet, these crackers are quite the versatile treat!

The hosts for September were Natalie and Shel and they chose a gluten-free recipe... with options for non gluten-free. I chose to go the gluten route :) Making the dough is not difficult at all... flour, salt, yeast, sugar, vegetable oil and water - mix it up, roll it out and let it bake. You can make these in the afternoon to go with your favorite dip or spread that night.



The trick to getting crackers instead of flatbread is to roll out the dough thin... very thin... very very *very* thin... to the point where you can almost read the newspaper through it ;-) Without a doubt the hardest part for me was getting the toppings to stick. The recipe instructed us to mist the rolled-out dough with a bit of water before applying the spices/seeds/etc... and advised that a little seasoning goes a long way. I regret that I didn't use more because I would have liked a more intense flavor. No problem, it's a lesson-learned for next time :)



I made a single sheet-pan and used four different kinds of flavorings...
onion
garlic, sesame -&-poppy seed
rosemary, paprika, black pepper, oregano
cinnamon sugar

As for toppings... to be honest, dips and spreads don't go over well in our household but I still came up with something extremely tasty...


Yup... that's right... peanut butter and jelly... cranberry-spice jelly to be more precise :)



Say whatcha want, but pb&j on these crackers is M'mmm M'mmm Good!!



Please drop by and visit the other daring bakers and see how they did with this month's challenge as well. I'm sure they made some fabulous combinations!!! If you'd like the recipe, visit the site of either of our hosts Natalie and Shel

Have a delicious day :)

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2008-09-25

Wild Blueberry Cake


Until recently, wild blueberries weren't even on my radar. I thought there was only one kind of blueberry - silly me. A few months ago I made my first blueberry pie and just to be different I decided to make it with wild blueberries. Completely different experience - different size and different taste. The other day I promised my coworkers something with lemon since I've been baking a lot of chocolate things lately. I decided on a lemon blueberry cake... but... along the way something happened... things just didn't turn out as planned... and I ended up with a Wild Blueberry Cake (albeit with a Lemon Glaze!).


I wanted something lemony.... really, reeeeeeeeeeally lemony. I've had a certain recipe saved for quite a while now but just haven't made it. I tend to shy away from new recipes that gobble up a lot of ingredients - - - say 4 sticks of butter... 6 eggs.... 4 cups of flour... 3 cups of sugar. Whew, that is a significant quantity of staples if you ask me! LOL! And what if the recipe stinks, even though it's well rated? I'd be really unhappy to "waste" ingredients that way. But I decided to take a chance and make the recipe.... and....

... and I was not pleased. The original recipe is for a Blueberry-Lemon Pound Cake and I followed the recipe exactly as written with the exception of adding more lemon extract, more lemon zest and fresh lemon juice. Remember I wanted something really lemony :)

The cake took about 30 minutes longer to bake than the recipe indicated - that's 50% longer and to me a substantial difference in time! I used the precise type and size of pan indicated - but it overflowed :( It's called a "pound cake" but the texture was off for me... definitely heavier than a regular cake but not dense enough for what I expect in a true Pound Cake. And the lemon taste I so wanted was definitely present in the batter but pretty much missing altogether once baked. I ended up making almost a full cup of lemon glaze to give it something of a lemon flavor. I was completely and totally 100% underwhelmed. I was ready to toss the cake in the bin... but...

... but I had promised my co-workers and I did not want to disappoint. So I took it to work... and it was devoured with high praises and many many thanks. Go figure! Maybe it was the awesome lemon glaze I added that saved it because without that, the cake definitely underwhelmed me. But since it was such a big hit at work, I'm sharing the recipe here... with the modifications that I made. Maybe my expectations were too high, after all, my co-workers really liked it :)



Wild Blueberry Cake with Lemon Glaze

Ingredients
4 sticks of butter (2 cups) at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup milk at room tempterature
6 eggs
1 tablespoon lemon extract
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 cups all purpose flour
zest of one whole lemon
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice - divided use
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups wild blueberries - fresh or frozen

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F

Prepare a 10" Bundt pan with baking spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour and baking powder - set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and granulated sugar for about 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each one is fully incorporated before adding the next. After all the eggs are in, add the lemon extract, lemon zest and 1/4c of lemon juice and combine well. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk in two parts - begin and end with the flour mixture. Don't overmix, just ensure all ingredients are well incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the blueberries. The batter will be quite thick, spoon into the prepared pan.

Bake for 1 hour then check for doneness - you will probably need an additional 30 minutes of baking time (at least I sure did). Bake until a cake tester or long thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the glaze, mix the remaining 1/4 cup lemon juice and the powdered sugar and drizzle over warm cake for maximum flavor.


Have a delicious day!!
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2008-09-23

Dimply Apple Cake - TwD


Oh yay! Another Tuesday... another Dorie Greenspan recipe :) How awesome is that! This week it's a cake that's a great way to use up some of your end-of-summer fruits. While the original recipe is made with plums, I happened to have a few Braeburn apples on hand. And that's the way this week's "Dimply Plum Cake" became a "Dimply Apple Cake" :)

Michelle of Bake-En was the host of this week's TwD. She chose Dorie's Dimply Plum Cake. Graciously Dorie included several variations so using plums wasn't required - a very good thing since that's a fruit which doesn't go over all that well in our household. I wanted to use fruit I already had and my choices were grapes, raspberries, peaches and the final winner.... apples :)



The cake is named "dimply plum" because laying halved plums on top of the batter gives the baked cake the appearance of "dimples" as the batter bakes up around the plums which sink just a tiny bit. Essentially, the cake bakes up around the plum halves. Well, since I didn't use halved apples, my "dimples" aren't round... my apples are sliced in crescent shapes so what should I really cake this cake? "Sunken Apple Slices" cake? "Sinking Slices Apple Cake"? Hmmm... I'm not sure but "Dimply Apple Cake" is just out :) To keep it from looking too boring, and to give the cake a bit more visual interest, I added a handful of drunken dried cranberries in the center. I soaked them in AppleJack for added flavor. As for the apple slices I tossed them in a mixture of cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, a touch of vanilla sugar, a sprinkling of cardamom and a little lemon juice. The result was fantastic!



The cake itself came together quickly and baked up nicely. Dorie's recipe says to bake for about 45 minutes and this might be right for plums but I baked for a grand total of 1 hour and I'm still not convinced it was done enough but didn't want it to be dry in parts so I stopped there. Turned out just fine. It's definitely not an overtly sweet cake but a slice (or two?) is perfect with a cup of tea... or coffee if you prefer. A nice treat anytime of day or night. I'm glad I chose the Braeburn apples (they retain their shape nicely when cooked as opposed to other varieties which have a higher water content and cook down) and left them a little bit thicker. This gave not only great flavor BUT great texture as well.



I would certainly make this cake again! For the recipe, please check Michelle's blog - and check out the other members of the TwD group by clicking here.

Have a delicious day!
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2008-09-21

The Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie


Chocolate chip cookies come in three basic styles... "The Thin"... "The Puffy"... and "The Chewy".  And it's a very personal thing when it comes to what you like.  Unless I'm on a deserted island , I'll not fight you for "the thin"... you can have all of those you want :) While I realize that more than once I've said I'm done with testing out chocolate chip cookie recipes but.. but... but... in my own defense, these are from my boyfriend, Alton. I know... I know... {heavy sigh}... the very last thing I need is another batch of chocolate chip cookies in my house. But ya gotta understand.... these are from Alton Brown... and I just can't resist his recipes. So, purely in the name of research of course, I made them.... and... today, dear readers, I present... "The Chewy"...

One night last week I was catching up on some very old episodes of Alton's show "Good Eats". The particular one I was watching involved different kinds of substitutions and in passing he mentioned his "award winning" episode about the three kinds of chocolate chip cookies. I searched the net and found "Three Chips For Sister Marsha" which I highly recommend to anyone  interested in the rationale behind what makes thin vs. puffy vs. chewy chocolate chip cookies. I decided to test out "The Chewy" and I'm glad I did. They certainly didn't last long because they flew off the platter as if they had wings! I loved them - the hubs loved them - the kids loved them - the neighbors loved them.... I had to set aside and save some for the photos and to do that I almost had to resort to *hiding* them! LOL! I didn't store them any fancy way, in fact, I purposely let them sit on the counter... uncovered... for three days to see how that would effect them. I'm happy to report they were still chewy and delicious :)  I followed the recipe to the letter, making absolutely no additions nor modifications whatsoever.  Three days later they were still chewy and delicious - I'm not talking "dried out" chewy, I'm talkin "moist-flavorful-delicious" chewy.  Depending on what kind of cookie you like, these might be worth making.  I know they were to me :)



The Chewy
Alton Brown

Ingredients
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Hardware:
Ice cream scooper (#20 disher, to be exact)
Parchment paper
Baking sheets
Mixer

Directions:
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.
Pour the melted butter in the mixer's work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Chill the dough, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.


Have a delicious day!



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2008-09-19

Honey Yeast Rolls


These are pretty much your basic dinner rolls... but the addition of honey in the dough and a brush of warm honey butter on top turns these into something that's absatively irresistable!!! My family devoured them in record time... and I bet yours will too :)

I found the recipe on the blog ...a cookie a day and it has instructions for either hand kneading or using a bread machine. I haven't seen my bread machine since I moved back to SoCal from the Washington DC area... and I'm far too lazy to made bread by hand so I let my dear Lola do all the work. She's always happy to do the heavy lifting... and I'm always happy to let her. Lola and I have a great relationship that way - she never lets me down :)

Until recently I had a real fear of yeast. I was afraid I would do something wrong and it just wouldn't work out right. I'll admit, yeast can be tricky... but I've gotten over my fear in part thanks to my boyfriend Alton Brown (back away, ladies, he's mine!!! bwaaaaaaahahahaha). In his "Flat is Beautiful" episode of Good Eats, Alton explains it this way:
Alton Brown: dough gets its rise from the gas produced by billions and billions of unicellular fungi called ' yeast' that chomp down on the sugar in flour-based doughs. Have a look. They are real pigs. And once their little feeding frenzy is over ...
Yeast: [belching sounds]
Alton Brown:... that's right. Yeast belch makes bread rise.

I just love that nerd-man :) So there you have it, a deconstructed explanation of the role yeast plays in making bread :)



This recipe uses honey as the "food" for the yeast but it doesn't get added right away so contrary to following the recipe to the exact letter, I added about 1/8t sugar to the warm water for the yeast. This gives the lil fun-guys (get it.. fungi... fun-guy... I love that one! hahahahaha) something to start munching on right away so they can start burping quickly. In my experience, and this only goes for me, I've found that when I add even a tiny amount of sugar to the water, the yeast develop better than when I add none. That's my little trick, not saying it's anything scientific or special.



Once you're done with all the mixing and needing and letting it rise, separate out your dough by weight, roll into balls and let them rise again before baking in the oven. Only take a quick peek at the above photo... okay....?.... cuz the rolls are nekkid ;-) But they're in the oven and making your house smell M'mmm M'mmm Good. There's just something about the smell of baking bread that is so warm and inviting. Very comforting to me :)



After about 5 minutes in the oven, brush with some honey butter and they'll be beautifully browned with a touch of sweetness. I think that's the part that makes them even more irresistible than your average dinner rolls. But you could certainly omit the honey on top if that's more to your liking.



The full recipe can be found on ...a cookie a day. If you visit and make these heavenly rolls (which I certainly hope you do), please tell her Em sent you!

Have a delicious day!
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2008-09-17

Over The Top Brownies


Some people like their brownies fluffy... and cake-like. But not me :) if I'm going to lust after a brownie it's gotta be rich and dense and fudgy. These brownies certainly hit the mark on that point... and topped with caramel and chopped peanuts and ribbons of melted chocolate? That just takes them completely over the top!!!

When I made these, I didn't use enough caramel topping or peanuts. I've adjusted the amounts according to how much I'll use next time since I'd like more of the caramel and nuts. But feel free to adjust and use more or less according to your liking. And yes, I definitely think you'll like these!



Over The Top Brownies

Ingredients
for the brownies
1 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate (chunks, disks, chips or mini chips)
for the topping
1/4 cup melted semi-sweet chocolate
18 Kraft Caramels
2 tablespoons heavy cream
chopped/crushed nuts

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 F
Prepare a 9x13 baking dish as follows: lightly spray the insides with cooking spray then with the dish horizontally in front of you lay in one sheet of aluminum foil across the length (left-to-right) leaving enough overhang on the sides so that you can use the excess foil as handles and on top of that lay in one sheet of aluminum foil across the width (top-to-bottom). Spray the foil with cooking spray. You want to be sure the insides of the pan are completely covered and you have foil "handles" which you'll use to lift the slab of brownies from the pan after baking :)

In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, both sugars and the vanilla extract in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition until the liquid mixture is completely blended.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Gradually add this into the liquid mixture until it is fully incorporated. Add in the chocolate pieces (chunks, disks, chips or mini chips) and stir to combine. It will resemble fudge frosting at this point... and it will taste delicious!! Spread evenly into the prepared baking dish.

Bake about 40-45 minutes until a few moist crumbs cling to a toothpick inserted in the center. Don't bake to the point of the toothpick coming out clean or the brownies will be dry. Remove the baking dish from the oven and cool on wire rack for 10 minutes... then... using the foil handles remove the brownie slab from the dish and cool completely on wire rack.

Put the caramels in a microwave-safe bowl and add the heavy cream. Microwave in 30-second increments until the caramels begin to melt and stir to incorporate the cream. Do not over-cook this!

After the brownies have cooled a bit but are not yet at room temperature, pour the melted caramel/cream mixture over the top and let it set up for a little while. Then drizzle on the melted chocolate and top with crushed nuts. Once everything has cooled and set, but the brownies and enjoy... preferably with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!



Have a delicious day :)




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2008-09-16

Chocolate Chunkers


Yes it's Tuesday and time again for another Dorie Greenspan recipe. This week it's "Chocolate Chunkers"... and if you ever thought there's no such thing as "too much chocolate", well, check it out cuz **this** is a cookie for you!

This week's host of TwD is Claudia over at Fool for Food and she chose Dorie's Chocolate Chunkers. Dorie may call these cookies but there's more "stuff" than "dough". The hubs said these had more of a uber-fudgy brownie texture than anything... and seeing as how they're totally packed with an assortment of chocolates, that makes absolute sense. Let's see... it's got bittersweet chocolate... semisweet chocolate... white chocolate... unsweetened chocolate... cocoa powder. Holy chocolate overload Batman - - - this is a true chocoholic's cookie-dream come true!

The recipe also calls for raisins (which I left out) and nuts (I used almonds). I made a half batch and still got 19 cookies about 2 1/2" in diameter and they're so rich that one or two is more than enough. Hey, what am I saying... if you're a serious chocoholic, one or two would never be enough! LOL. Unbaked, the cookies are Ah-MAYYYYY-Zing - that's for sure. And while they will come in dead last when competing for the title "Most Photogenic Cookie", you should definitely make them if you're looking for something that is sinfully, richly, decadently chocolate.


Chocolate Chunkers
from Dorie Greenspan's book Baking From My Home To Yours

1/3 cup all purpose flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking powder
3 tablespoon unsalted butter – cut into three pieces
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped into chunks or 1 cup chocolate chips
6 oz. milk or white chocolate, chopped or 1 cup chocolate chips
1 ½ coarsely chopped nuts ( I used pecans)
1 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or finely chopped, moist, plump dried apricots

Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mats.

Sift together flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder.

Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Add the butter, bittersweet chocolate and unsweetened chocolate and heat stirring occasionally, just until melted-the chocolate and butter should be smooth and shiny, but not so hot that the butter separates. Remove the bowl from the heat and set on the counter to cool.

Beat eggs and sugar on medium high speed for about two minutes until they are pale and foamy. Add vanilla and scrape down bowl. Reduce mixer to low speed and add melted chocolate, mixing only until incorporated. Add dry ingredients until they disappear into the dough, which will be thick, smooth and shiny.

Scrape down the bowl and mix in the semisweet and white or milk chocolate chunks (or chips), nuts, and raisins. Drop dough by heaping tablespoons leaving about an inch of space between mounds of dough. Bake one sheet at a time for 10-12 minutes. The tops of the cookies will look a little dry, but the interiors should still be soft


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Have a delicious day :)



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2008-09-15

Chocolate Chip Cookies... and the NY Times


Weeks and weeks have gone by since I posted this which I thought would be my final post about chocolate chip cookies. Yeah, riiiiight. No such luck! So many people emailed to tell me I simply had to try the chocolate chip cookie recipe posted in the NY Times. Had to. Just haaaaaaad to, otherwise my life would be incomplete. So, like an awkward pre-teen girl trying desperately to fit in, I caved to peer pressure and did.

This is a recipe that certainly has a lot of ingredients: cake flour, bread flour, baking soda, baking powder, coarse salt, unsalted butter, light brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, natural vanilla extract, bittersweet chocolate disks...


And it's fussy too... make the dough...


... press plastic wrap against it, refrigerate for 24-36hrs... or up to 72hrs


... and then you're finally allowed to bake it... but only after you roll them into precisely weighed 3 1/2 ounce mounds making sure there are no chocolate pieces are poking up (turn them horizontally as to make for a "more attractive cookie")...


Sprinkle with the sea salt (I only sprinkled a few so that I could try it... the rest were sans salt) and then bake for 18-20 minutes. As you can see from the photos... these things spread... they spread *quite* a bit during baking...


... cool the sheet on a wire rack and then transfer to a different wire rack for cooling. Yes, these are among the fussiest chocolate chip cookies I've ever made. But... I won't lie... these cookies are actually good. I'd go so far as to say they're VERY good!


But I'll also be honest and tell you I am not at all a fan of the salt on top. In fact, when I ate just ONE of the salt-topped cookies, the salt mixed with the sweet left me incredibly nauseated. Incredibly :( But that's okay... there were plenty without the salt and I enjoyed them **thoroughly** :) :) :) I have zero regrets about making these cookies - at least now no one can give me a hard time about liking a chocolate chip cookie so much that I consider it my hands down favorite w/o having tried these famous NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies. Funny little side story... a girl I know who's made these cookies calls them HER famous chocolate chip cookies. Hmmm... not sure how she can consider them HERS since the NYT put them out there and she made them from the recipe but uhm... okay, whatever works for ya! LOL!

If you still haven't made these NYT Chocolate Chip Cookies, the recipe can be found here.


I've made them... I've tried them... and I still like these chocolate chip cookies better. Different strokes for different folks, right? ;-)

Have a delicious day :)


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