Monday, August 29, 2011

Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookie Bark

Oh boy. Last week was so hectic that… well it just wasn’t good. School has been in session for about a week and a half now and I’m still getting adjusted to my new school rhythm. Let me tell you, it has been hard, harder than previous years for some reason, and whoever said that your senior year in high school is a breeze, obviously flunked out because I am working my tail off here. The last week basically had me emotionally and physically drained, however, my weekend wasn’t as terrible as the week was. I even managed to find a little time for baking.

I knew I wanted to make something that was comforting because comfort food is geared to do just that: comfort. I know that there are tons of comfort foods out there, but to me, nothing says comfort like a warm chocolate chip cookie. To tell you the truth, I didn’t have to look very hard for this recipe. In fact, I obtained the recipe from a blog I have recently started following. Tara is the author of The Butter Dish. She is funny, witty, all of those good things, and it’s not just a food blog. Tara also writes about her day and little knick-knacks she finds, like the very adorable and coveted Mug Buddies - my gosh, they are so cute, I want one.

Anyways, one day Tara posted a recipe for Chocolate Almond Cookie Bark. When given a choice between a soft and chewy chocolate chip cookie and a thin a crisp one, I will always and forever pick the soft and chewy. However, this cookie bark looked so delicious that I just had to try it. I did make a few adaptations to the recipe, like added butterscotch chips just because I needed to use up the little I had left.

I was actually pretty excited to make this bark because it is essentially one giant cookie, and who doesn’t love those giant cookie pies they have at the mall, am I right or am I right? However, this is a strange cookie because it requires no leavening agents or any eggs to bind it all together! Craziness. The cookie baked until it was a perfectly golden brown and it filled the house with the most amazing cookie aroma ever, seriously. My sister came home about an hour after the cookie had baked and she could still smell the wonderful cookie fragrance. (They should totally make a perfume that smells like chocolate chip cookies.) I had to resist eating the cookie for a little while because otherwise I would spoil my dinner, but it was totally worth the wait.

The most dominant flavor, I thought, was the butterscotch chips I added in. Whenever butterscotch is added into anything, that is the only thing I taste for some reason. But…I did taste the almond extract that went into the creamed butter and sugar mixture. It was subtle, but I think it made the cookie bark that much better. The bark itself was crisp, but it wasn’t thin, which, in my opinion, is the turn off point when consuming something as sacred as the chocolate chip cookie. This cookie totally saved my stressful week.

Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar
adapted from The Butter Dish

1 stick unsalted butter, soft
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
3/8 tsp vanilla extract
3/8 tsp almond extract
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup butterscotch chips
About ¼ cup extra semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9x9 inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Only do this step if you are paranoid, like me, that everything will stick to the pan and never come off. The original directions call for an ungreased pan.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy looking. Add in in the two extracts and beat for another couple minutes. Slowly add in the flour in about two to three stages. Take the bowl off of the mixer and add in the chocolate and butterscotch chips.
  3. Plop the dough onto the prepared pan. If you are using parchment paper, this part will be a little tricky because the parchment will want to slide around and the cookie dough will not want to spread. Forming the cookie dough into the pan is not impossible, though; it will just take a little bit of elbow grease, persistence, and a lot of cookie dough placement.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top has just turned a lovely golden brown color. Take the cookie bar out of the oven. Cool on a cooling rack, while still in the pan. Once the cookie bark has cooled almost completely, place the extra chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and heat for about 30 seconds and stir. If the chocolate still needs a little melting, heat again in 5 second increments until the chips have melted into a smooth consistency. Take a spoon and dip it into the melted chocolate and then, in a randomized fashion, drizzle and fling the melted chocolate onto the cookie bark.
  5. Take the cookie out of the pan, using the parchment paper as handles, and place on a flat surface. Cut into desired shapes and sizes. Now eat, be merry, have a glass of milk.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cake Slice Bakers - August 2011: Hungarian Coffee Cake

These little balls of deliciousness are the last installment of The Cake Slice’s choice of book: Cake Keeper Cakes by Laura Chattman. What are these balls called? Why, they are called Hungarian Coffee Cake. Yes, these little balls of cake are formed into one big cake, sort of like monkey bread, only in, well, cake form.

I only made half a batch, which I sort of regret. The cake is so light and airy in texture that it’s like cotton balls, but maybe a little heavier. I’m not good at describing things, oh well. The batter, how can I describe the batter? It sort of reminds me of bread dough, but not as elastic. It was very easy for me to tear the dough apart and roll it into a ball. Now, for the best part; the dough balls are then rolled around in cinnamon sugar. Cinnamon sugar is probably the best kind of coating, except for maybe the brown sugar topping that goes over top of the dough balls right before cooking.

The cake balls pretty much stay in their spherical form when they bake, and it gives way to tearing so easily. It is seriously like pulling cotton candy. The taste is really nice as well; it sort of reminds me of the cinnamon pudding cake we made in November. You get a little bit of a sweet cinnamon combo from the cinnamon sugar mixture, and then there is the gooey brown sugar coating that encases the cake sphere. This cake is seriously addicting to eat, because it’s not like a regular cake where you slice it, put it on a plate, and eat it. No, you can sit in front of this cake (not wise to do, my friend) and just pull apart the cake, chunk, by chunk. Before you know it, you will have eaten half the cake! That’s not a bad thing, though, right?

Including this cake, I have made eight of the eleven cakes The Cake Slice Bakers have made this year. I don’t think all of the recipes are fail proof, because if you recall, there was a bit of a failage on my part for a few of the cakes, like here. Even though not all the recipes come out great, there are a ton of great ideas in it and with a bit of tweaking, I’m sure everyone can find a recipe that they will adore. This cake, the orange almond cake, and the pumpkin chocolate chip pound cake were my favorites. I still have a lot of other recipes flagged, so hopefully I will be able to bake more from this book.

Hungarian Coffee Cake
adapted from Cake Keeper Cakes

6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
8 tbsp unsalted butter, slightly frozen
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
1 cup milk, plus extra if necessary
¼ cup walnuts (optional)
¼ cup raisins (optional)

  1. Whisk together the melted butter and the brown sugar until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 12 cup bundt pan.
  3. Combine the sugar and the cinnamon in a bowl and whisk together. Set the bowl aside. Cube the butter and place in the freezer while you get the rest of your ingredients together.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and set the speed to slow or medium-slow. Gradually add in the chilled butter. Mix until the flour is coarse looking. You may need to help the mixer out and gently rub the bigger chunks of butter into the flour, then keep mixing. Slowly add in the milk and mix on a medium speed until the dough has become like a big dough ball. You may need a little more milk, depending on how dry the batter looks.
  5. Stop the mixer and start forming the dough into balls. The cake looks more interesting if you shape the dough into different sizes, but you can make them symmetrical if you want. Retrieve the bowl filled with cinnamon sugar and drop a couple of dough balls at a time. Swirl the bowl around and make sure to cough every part of the dough in the cinnamon sugar mixture. By the way, you will probably, most likely, have extra cinnamon sugar. Drop the cinnamon coated dough balls into the bundt pan randomly, it makes it look more fun that way.
  6. If you are using the walnuts and raisings, now would be the perfect time to sprinkle them on top of the dough balls. If you are not, skip that step and go straight to the brown sugar mixture. Pour the mixture over top of the dough balls, making sure to coat the top layer liberally.
  7. Bake for about 35-40 minutes. You might want to start checking it at around the 30 minute mark though. Once the cake has cooked, take it out of the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto a serving platter and serve immediately. This cake tastes ok at room temperature, but it is definitely at it’s best when it’s warm.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Scones

Have you ever had one of those weeks that no matter how much stuff you’ve got going on, more stuff just seems to keep piling on until you feel that you just can’t get everything done on time? That’s been my week. And I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything in a long time, but I meant to, honest.

Last week I was going to update the blog with a nice flourless chocolate cookie recipe I found over on Shared Sugar, but, it kind of flopped. I could not get those silly things to bake all the way through, no matter what I did! After what seemed like 30 minutes of baking, I eventually just turned off the oven and let them sit (they still weren’t cooked). It was like a lava cake, only in cookie form. However, that does sound like a good concept.

Anyways, I wont keep you waiting from these scones. Well, at least I think they are scones. You see, I’ve never had a scone before. I’ve seen many a scone though. I see them all the time in the plastic containers at the grocery stores and I see them on my occasional trip to Starbucks, but I have never eaten one before. I got to thinking what I would make after my cookie fail and scones popped into my mind. I’ve really been in the mood for brown sugar, so naturally I googled “brown Sugar Scones”. I’ve got this thing where, if I look something up on the internet and I click a recipe, I bookmark it and “shop” around some more for other recipes. The weird thing about that is that I almost always go back to that first recipe. This recipe was no exception.

Like I said before, I’m not sure if these are actually scones because there is no butter in the recipe (unless you count the melted butter brushed on top). But is that what makes a scone a scone? I don’t know.

Whatever they are, they are sweet little things. I don’t mean sweet like sugary sweet, I mean like delicate and delectable kind of sweet. These scones had only been in the oven for five minutes before I could smell the brown sugar, wafting through the air. I kept checking on them, turning the oven light on and off, just to make sure my little darlings were cooking all the way through. They even finished a little early. The outer shell was a nice, golden brown color with a little dusting of white sugar. When I broke one of them open, I could see a little steam rising from the center and it called to me. It told me to take a bite, and I did. The pillowy interior was so soft, warm, and inviting. I loved breaking it off in little pieces and eating it that way. The outer shell was the best part though, I think it had more brown sugary flavor than the center. Plus, the crust is the best part of anything, isn’t it?

Brown Sugar Oat Scones
slightly adapted from The Cilantropist

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup rolled oats (not instant)
2/3 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup milk
1 tbsp butter, melted


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, and oats. Slowly add in the milk, stirring constantly. The dough will start to become very sticky, so if you need to, use your hands for the mixing.
  3. Turn the dough onto a well floured surface, and I mean well floured, this dough will stick if you don’t flour your countertop. Knead the dough for about a minute, just to make sure it is well combined. Put a little bit of flour onto your hands and shape the dough into a circle or rectangle. Take a 2 inch round biscuit cutter (or you can cut your circle into triangles or rectangle into squares) and press into the dough. You may need to flour the cutter a little if the dough happens to be extra sticky. Shake the dough out of the cutter and place on the prepared baking tray. With the left over dough, just knead it a few more times and repeat, repeat, repeat!
  4. Place the dough circles about an inch or inch and a half apart. I got 12 two inch scones from this recipe, so arrange then in a manner where you can fit them all onto one baking tray. Next, brush a little bit of the melted butter on the tops and sprinkle with either oats, brown sugar, or granulated sugar. If you want, you can even do a combo, or no garnishing at all, it’s your preference. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. If you want to double check, insert a toothpick in the side, and if it comes out clean, they’re done.
  5. Transfer the tray onto an awaiting cooling rack and let the scones cool while still on the tray for a few minutes. Then, take the scones off of the tray and let them finish cooling on the cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. I highly recommend serving them warm. If you need to microwave it, microwave the scone at a low setting for 10 seconds. Spread with butter or jam, or just eat it plain, they are good either way.
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