Almond-Chocolate Cookies

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Before.

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After.

Some time ago, I worked with a woman who would sometimes make these and bring them in for the team. I believe she got the recipe from Crisco by the name “Chocolate Filled Bon Bons”, but I haven’t been able to find it on their site to link to. I am not a fan of Crisco and generally only use it for this recipe, as they are so good I am willing to forgive it. It’s that yummy.

As usual, I alter the recipe a bit, but only a bit… the last bit of rolling it through sugar and almonds. This time around I decided to try out less flour to get it crispier, which worked and came out beautifully; however, the cookies are definitely more fragile. Normally they maintain their ball shape. While this makes for a softer cookie (or bon bon), it does allow the recipient to enjoy the cookie and Hershey Kiss all in one bite.

I made these as a thank you gift to Dave’s office for the beautiful baby gifts they gave us.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup shortening (I prefer to use plain, but you can also use butter flavored)
1/2 cup white sugar, plus about 1/3 cup more for rolling
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (if you prefer, just use more vanilla)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sliced almonds
24 milk chocolate Hershey Kisses, unwrapped (note: the original recipe calls for 48, but I have never been able to squeeze nearly that many out of the amount of dough made from quantities above. Always 24)

Preheat oven to 350F. Using a mixer, cream shortening and sugars until fluffy. Add egg and extracts and beat well. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and mix well. On a plate, combine the extra 1/3 cup of white sugar with the sliced almonds and mix. I usually crumble up half of the almonds.

Form into 1 inch balls. Press a Hershey Kiss into the ball so that the Kiss is completely enrobed. Roll each ball through the sugar/almond mixture. Bake for 12-13 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet. It is worth mentioning that when baking with Crisco, they often look undercooked when they are in fact done as it should not brown, so be careful not to over bake. Cool on a wire rack. They will need to cool for 5-10 minutes before firming up.

Makes approximately two dozen delicious cookies.

Blackberry and Apple Pie

Welcome to the ugliest pie I’ve ever, ever made. I am the kind of person who likes to cut out little flowers and leaves for decorating and painstakingly crimp the edges of my pies. It’s so hideous I contemplated NOT posting a photo of it. Have I ever made a pie that looked like this? The answer would be no. Not even when I took Home Ec in HS. Please read my notes before attempting this pie crust (which by the way was delicious and worth it).

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From Nigella Lawson’s How to Be a Domestic Goddess. Almost every single time I attempt a recipe out of this, even with being a seasoned baker, I have some sort of issue.

For the pastry:
4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, diced
4 tbsp vegetable shortening, teaspooned out
1 1/3 cups self-rising cake flour
scant 1/4 cup fine cornmeal
2-4 tbsp salted ice water or enough to bind
squeeze of lemon juice as needed

For the filling:
About 1 1/2 lbs Golden Delicious Apples or other cooking apples
1/4 cup unsalted butter
7 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp rosewater (my note: slightly less than 1 tbsp vanilla can be substituted if absolutely necessary)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 scant tbsp cornstarch (I needed like 6 tbsp – perhaps my apples were just very juicy)
12 oz blackberries

For the glaze:
1-2 tbsp milk
1-2 tbsp sugar

You will also need an 8 inch shallow pie plate. See notes regarding this.

Put flour and cornmeal in a bowl, add the cold, diced butter and shortening, and stir gently to coat. Put in the freezer for about 10 minutes. As you do so, put your water in a cup with a pinch of salt and transfer to the fridge. Either in a processor or free-standing mixer with a flat paddle attachment, blend your fats and flour until you have a mixture that resembles sandy porridge. Then, gradually process or paddle in the liquid until the pastry is almost coming together (my note: if it comes together too much, it will be too sticky. Add a little flour). Use your hands to form two discs, one slightly larger than the other, then wrap in plastic and let it rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before rolling.

Preheat your oven to 375F, Remembering to put a baking sheet in at the same time. Peel, core, and slice apples. In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the sugar, rosewater, and cinnamon, then cook the apples in the pan for about 3 minutes remove them to a dish with a spatula or tongs. Pour the caramelly juices into a cup and whisk in the cornstarch to form a paste (note: it doesn’t quite form a “paste” like I would consider a paste – think more like the consistency of Elmer’s glue… which is… a paste. lol).

Line the bottom and sides of the pie dish with the bigger disc of pastry, and put the apples and blackberries into the pie. Pour over the cornstarch-butter mixture and mix carefully if there wasn’t much. Roll out the smaller disc of pastry, dampen the edges of the pie with water, and put the pie lid on top. Crimp the edges, either by hand or using a form, to seal. Decorate as desired with any scraps.

Glaze with milk and cook for 30 minutes, by which time the still slightly knobbly top should be golden. Sprinkle with sugar when it comes out of the oven, and leave for about 15 minutes before cutting it.

Serves 6.

Notes:

First – I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen self-rising cake flour. Just self-rising flour or cake flour. Cake flour doesn’t have any additives like self-rising flour, so I looked up how to convert flour into self-rising. The general consensus was around 1 cup of flour + 1 1/2 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp salt, so with this recipe calling for 1 1/3 c cake flour, I thought I’ll stick with the amounts in that equation and not increase to compensate for the extra 1/3 cup. The baking powder was fine, but it was too much salt. Next time, I’d go with 1/4 tsp.

Second – I didn’t have fine cornmeal, but I did have regular cornmeal, so again being the genius I am, I thought I would simply use my pestle and mortar to grind it as fine as I could. Guess what? That’s practically impossible. I did manage to get it the texture down finer, but not by much. This made the crust a little bit crunchy, which was not desirable. Take the time to find finely ground cornmeal!

Third – 8″ pie dishes are not common in the US. Most standard pie dishes are 9-9.5″ here. I ended up having to double the pie crust recipe, which I didn’t fully realize until it was too late (I did suspect) and had to make another batch in a mad, panicked dash around the kitchen, which resulted in me not being able to dedicate another 20 minutes for refrigerating. This meant my top crust has way too soft to properly roll out. This is why it came out so ugly! Either because of the larger pie size or perhaps my oven wasn’t the right temperature, but I ended up having to bake this thing an extra 30 minutes, which was crazy. Remember to use more apples if using a larger pie dish.

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Me attempting to grind cornmeal… yeah right.

Brownie Hearts and Brownie Bites

I pinned this recipe on Pinterest months ago (courtesy of Kate), mostly for the cute idea of cutting out the hearts and then making little truffle balls with the scraps. I was really in the mood to bake something chocolaty today, so I decided brownies it is! Then I found I was *gasp* out of boxed brownie mix. Yes, I admit it. I love boxed brownie mix. I lurve it. It’s so damn tasty, even though it’s made with kind of yucky stuff. When I found the pantry would not yield my precious red box of joy, I decided I’d try and make them from scratch. And then I remembered Harry used all the white sugar. There’s like 2 tbsp left in the house at the moment. Since I don’t use sugar, I didn’t notice we were out when I went shopping on Tuesday.

Normally I’d just run out and get some, but I’m working from home and don’t have the luxury of popping out to the store. Even if I went out on my lunch break, but the time I got back, I wouldn’t have enough time to actually bake the suckers.

I was sad. So, so sad. No brownies for me.

Then I took a look at the recipe I pinned, and I realized I had most of the ingredients (it only calls for brown sugar!). The only thing I didn’t have was baker’s chocolate (or even chips… oh the horror!). I did, however, have unsweetened cocoa powder. I immediately googled how I could sub, and I found a few different ones (most called for shortening). I decided to give it a shot. Then, when I pulled out my Trader Joe’s cocoa, it had the conversion right on the damn package! 6 tbsps of cocoa plus 1 tbsp oil is equal to 1 oz baking chocolate. Voila!

So during my 15-minute morning break, I whipped these up and threw them in the oven. 38 minutes later, I had a yummy batch of homemade brownies. Winning!

Recipe adapted from marthastewart.com

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa and 6 tbsp canola oil (OR 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate)
  • 3 extra large eggs plus 1 extra large egg white (or 4 large eggs)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Confectioners’ sugar, graham cracker crumbs, cocoa, colored sugar, etc for decoration

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan (I use shortening but butter can be used as well). In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, cocoa, and oil. Microwave on high for 1 minute; stir.
  2. Beat eggs and vanilla into the melted chocolate with a wooden spoon. Beat in flour and salt. Pour batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Turn the brownie cake out onto a baking sheet, and flip over onto a work surface. Cut out the brownies with a 2 1/2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter. Dust with cocoa if you like. Form the scraps into 1-inch balls, and roll them in the coating of your choice.

Prep time: 15-20 min

Bake time: 35-40 min

Yield: 12 hearts and about 30 bites

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Red Velvet Cake

This recipe is the real deal. Red Velvet should have a subtle chocolate flavor from the cocoa, but mostly be all about an incredible velvety texture… something missing from the ones I’ve tried from many cupcakeries. This comes in part from using superfine (or ultrafine) sugar, taking your time to properly cream the butter and sugar, and the unmatched moisture imparted from the buttermilk. This recipe is from Warren Brown’s United Cakes of America.

Nevan and I made these for Dave for Valentine’s Day.

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Dry Ingredients
2 1/4 cup cake flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Wet Ingredients
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Creaming Ingredients
8 US oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
2 eggs
1 US oz red food dye

Yield: One 9 inch layer cake or 24 cupcakes.

Preheat your oven to 335F. Line the bottoms of two 9X2 inch round cake pans with parchment paper or spray your cupcake pans with non stick and line each cup with cupcake liner.

Measure the dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls and whisk each to combine.

Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer with a paddle attachment. Cream together on low speed for five minutes. Add the eggs one at a time to the well-creamed butter and sugar. Beat in the dye. Alternately add the dry and wet ingredients about a quarter at a time.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for approximately 30 minutes for the cake (seems to take an extra 10 minutes if I use a Bundt pan), or 20-24 minutes for the cupcakes. A wooden toothpick should come out clean and the surface even but not very dry in appearance.

Cool the cakes for about five minutes before inverting them onto a flat surface. Allow them to cool to room temperature before attempting to assemble or frost.

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Frosting note: Most people put cream cheese frosting on red velvet, but if you want to go hardcore old school then go for buttercream frosting, which was one of the original frostings used for it. You can actually taste the cake if you use buttercream. This time, however, I made cream cheese frosting because I thought Dave might like it more. I used this simple recipe from allrecipes.com.

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White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Easy and seriously, seriously good.

 

 

White Chocolate Chip Cookies

straight off the Nestle bag

1 2/3 c. all purpose flour

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp salt (I probably used more like 1 tsp)

3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 c. packed brown sugar

1/3 c. granulated sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 large egg

2 c. Nestle premier white morsels

Preheat oven to 375*

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in small bowl.  Beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla and egg in mixing bowl until creamy.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in morsels.  Drop by rounded tablespoon on to ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for around 10 min or until tops just begin to look toasted.

 

 

Pinterest Challenge: Doughnut Muffins

I found this recipe on Pinterest. I hate deep frying anything because it’s just so smelly and messy, so baked doughnuts? Yes, please.

Nevan was home sick today, so it seemed like the perfect activity to fill some time and make him feel better. He was a great helper and we both declared these ABSO-FREAKIN-LUTELY DEEEEELICIOUS. I am not ‘fessing up to how many I’ve had already.

Her recipe calls to use a regular muffin pan, but I decided to use my mini muffin pan to make them more doughnut hole like, increasing the cinnamon sugar dusting to muffin ratio. I ended up making 28 muffins using the mini muffin pan, and with the increased surface area I had to double the amount of cinnamon sugar. With the pan size, 13 minutes was the perfect amount of baking time. Next time? Half recipe. You hear me? HALF. They will be my death.

Thank you, lululu, for a wonderful recipe! We will be making them again in the future. Here are some photos from our doughnut muffin escapades:

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Gooey Goodness Bars

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I found this recipe on Pinterest about 15 minutes ago.  They looked good but I wanted to try something a little different.  I attempted granola bars instead of cookies and they came out really good.  You can add whatever you like or even follow the 2 ingredient recipe that I linked.  You can’t really mess up here.

Gooey Goodness Bars (named by Chloe)

1-2 cups Muesli

2 ripes bananas

1/4 cup Craisins

1/4 cup Chocolate chips

Directions:

Mash banana in bowl and stir in muesli or oats.  Stir in extra ingredients of choice (mine were craisins and chocolate chips).  Flatten mixture on a greased cookie sheet.

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Bake at 350* for 15 minutes.  Flip tray over onto wire rack and let cool.  Place cutting board on top of wire rack, flip again, and slice into bars.  They are on the gooey side, and they aren’t super sweet, but the kid loves them and I can’t argue with that.

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Chocolate Chip Applesauce Muesli Cookies

I was craving something sweet but healthy.  This recipe seemed to do the trick.  Not mind-blowing, but they satisfied a craving.  Recipe can be found on a package of Bob’s Red Mill Old Country Style Muesli.

Ingredients:

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

6 oz chocolate chips (I used mini chips and a bit less)

3/4 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup applesauce

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup Old Country Style Muesli

Directions:

Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together and set aside. Blend applesauce, sugar and vanilla together. Beat in egg. Add flour mixture and mix. Stir in Muesli and chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoons on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375°F for 10-12 minutes.
Makes 24 cookies.
Nutritional Info: 2 cookies.  Cal: 190.  Fat: 6g.  Protein: 3g.  Sugar: 23g.  Fiber: 3g.
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