Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Peppermint Patties

Wow, it has been quite some time since I last posted. I’m sorry, but I took another college trip. This time I went to visit the College of Charleston in South Carolina. My goodness, Charleston is so beautiful and the weather was lovely every day that I was there. And the campus, it’s like medium sized with a little over ten thousand students- the perfect size for me. I can totally picture myself going there. Only problem is, I have another college that I’m crazy about. So now I have to make the hard decision of choosing this one or going for the Bridge Program into Clemson. I guess the good news is that I have two solid choices and either college I pick will be right for me. I know one person who applied to thirteen colleges, and I know one person who didn’t get into any, so I guess I’m lucky that I got into ones that I really love.

Ok, so enough about that, let’s talk chocolatey/minty/creamy goodness. I actually made these about a week before St. Patrick’s Day, but have only gotten around to posting about them now. I’m showing you these awesome little peppermint patties I found on Tracey’s blog.

These were seriously addicting to eat, and did not last long in my house, seriously. It is so easy to pop two or three into your mouth without realizing it, but it’s totally worth it because these taste a whole lot better and fresher than the store-bough variety.

I hadn’t had a peppermint pattie in so long, and after eating a handful of these, I’m starting to wonder why. I probably won’t buy the name brand version again because these are just too delicious not to make!  The only minor frustration is the sticky dough? Cream? Center type thing. It was kind of hard to roll out.  After adding some more powdered sugar and making sure the creamy center was thoroughly chilled it was much easier to roll out and cut into circles. I also recommend brushing some of the melted chocolate onto the bottom of the foil to coat the bottom of the peppermint pattie and then brushing the chocolate on top- it makes for a much neater assembly process.

Peppermint Patties
From Tracey’s Culinary Adventures
Makes 4 dozen 1 inch peppermint patties

2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ tbsp light corn syrup
1 ½ tbsp water
½ tsp. pure peppermint extract
1 tbsp. butter, soft
Pinch of salt
10 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the confectioners’ sugar, corn syrup, water, peppermint extract and butter. Beat on medium speed until the dough starts to form a ball.
  2. Dust work surface with a little bit of confectioners’ sugar. Knead the cream center a few times until smooth. Place the cream center between two sheets of parchment (I just used plastic wrap and it worked fine) and roll into about 1/8 inch thickness. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze until firm (at least 15 minutes).
  3. Remove peppermint disk from the freezer and dust with a little more powdered sugar. Using a 1 inch round cutter cut circles and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Once you have cut out as many circles as you can, re-roll the peppermint cream filling and repeat until all of it has been used up. Put back into the freezer while you melt the chocolate.
  4. In a glass bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate until smooth. Take the peppermint patties out of the freezer and gently work them off the foil. Brush on a dollop of chocolate onto each spot a pattie used to be. Place the peppermint pattie centers on top of the chocolate dollop and brush with more chocolate. Place the chocolate-coated patties back into the freezer to set up (about 15 minutes). Store the peppermint patties in an air-tight container in the fridge or freezer for up to a month (they won’t last that long, trust me). I personally believe these taste the best right out of the freezer, something about the fresh peppermint taste combined with the chill from the freezer gives the peppermint pattie an extra pepperminty taste.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cake Slice Bakers - March 2012: Individual Warm Chocolate Cakes

I’m sure everyone who has ever heard of a Chocolate Molten Lava Cake has had it at least once in their live. The classic dessert is so ubiquitous that I’m pretty sure every restaurant has its own version.

I remember the very first Molten Lava cake I had was at Starbucks. We had just moved to Colorado, so I was probably around 8 or so, and my dad and I were out shopping. We ended up in a nearby Starbucks and staring at me through the little glass display was the darkest Chocolate Cake I had ever seen. And it has this beautiful like drizzle of (what I now assume is) white chocolate. I asked my dad if I could get it. I don’t remember the actual ordering part, but I remember sitting at the table with my dad across from me and just plunging my fork into the decadent little cake. A pool of the most perfect pool of lava spilled out from the center and I remember being so happy that whenever my dad and I passed a Starbucks I asked him if we could go so I could get this lava cake. One day I asked the lady behind the counter if she had any more of the chocolate cakes, and she responded with a no. They had stopped selling those marvelous chocolate cakes. I am definitely not a coffee drinker and I haven’t had anything from Starbucks in years, but if they brought back those chocolate cakes, I’m pretty sure that I would stop by a lot more often.

So, because of my love for all things gooey, chewy, and chocolatey, I was super excited to make this month’s cake for the Cake Slice Bakers. Yes, this month’s cake is the Individual Warm Chocolate Cake found on page 198 of The Cake Book.

I halved the recipe (no need to have 6 cakes for a family of four) and divided the batter between 4 ramekins (each ramekin getting two scoops plus a little extra of batter). I personally think this was the perfect portion size because these cakes will grow on account of the egg whites.

Speaking of egg whites, I have never successfully beaten eggs whites/folded them into things until this recipe. I’m not sure what it was, but everything came out perfectly when it came to the egg whites. You should have seen me beaming and dancing around the kitchen, showing off my little egg white peaks and folding abilities.

Anyways… I baked one cake in the afternoon (for picture taking purposes) and nestled the other three into the fridge for later use. These would be my little experiments since I wasn’t sure how the egg whites would hold up in the fridge for 8 hours. The first cake I baked, I have to admit I was a little nervous and baked it just a tad too long. There was no molten chocolate lava gushing from the center as I cut into it with my fork, but that’s ok. It was very soft and after I was done taking pictures, I put it in the microwave for a few seconds and it was so soft and chocolately. There was a slight crust too, which added some much loved texture and crunch.

Then at around 8 o’clock I turned on the oven and took the other three cakes out of the fridge to come a little closer to room temperature. This time I baked the cakes for a shorter time (even shorter than the time called for). These ones came out perfectly. Although these cakes are not the kinds out will find in restaurants with the four walls of actual cake and then a gooey hot mess in the center, these were very tasty and very gooey.

So far, this is my favorite cake that we have baked out of this book. It is absolutely amazing.

Idividual Warm Chocolate Cakes
Slightly adapted from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle
Fills 6 six ounce ramekins

9 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
½ cup sugar
4 eggs, separated
1/8 tsp salt
¼ tsp cream of tartar

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter or spray with cooking spray six ramekins. Set each ramekin on a baking sheet; set aside.
  2. Place chopped chocolate and cubed butter in a stainless steel or glass bowl on top of a saucepan filled with simmering water. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir the chocolate and butter together until it is smooth. Once melted, remove from the simmering water and whisk in ¼ cup of the sugar. Whisk in the egg yolks one at a time until the chocolate mixture has become smooth again.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together the egg whites and the salt on medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and whisk on medium high speed until the egg whites reach soft peaks, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining sugar 1 tbsp ata time on high speed until the egg whites have reached stiff peaks, about another 3 minutes. Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture 1/3 at a time. Make sure that there are no egg white streaks. Equally divide the batter into the prepared ramekins.
  4. Place the baking tray into the oven on the middle rack and bake for no more than 15 minutes (even if you chose to refrigerate the batter, no longer than 15 minutes). The tops will look cracked. Let the cakes stand for a minute before unmolding.
  5. Run a paring knife around the edge of each cake to loosen it from the ramekin. To easy removal, flip a plat onto the top of the cakes and then flip. Give a little tap or shake and the cakes should come out easy peasy. Sift some confectioners’ sugar on top for a pretty presentation or pair the cakes with berries or ice cream if desired.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mini S'mores Pie

Hello and Happy Pi Day!

I’ve never actually ever celebrated Pi day, but for some reason, this year I was motivated! I even made a pie to celebrate. Well, I guess you could call it a pie or a tort… or you can call it what I call it: “good”.

Yes, I saw this s’mores pie on The Pastry Affair and it looked delicious, and plus it’s a s’more… in a pan… need I say more? No? Good.

So, onwards. My family is not a big pie family. Well my parents like fruit pies, and I like the creamy/custard/anything-but-fruit pies, and my sister… I think the closest she gets to a pie is a Poptart. So when these little s’more pies were gone within a day, I knew something was right.

The filling was definitely the best part in my opinion. It was like mousse; creamy, soft, delicate, and any other adjective that describes a good mousse. It was just perfect. But I think next time I may opt for a milk chocolate, instead of semi-sweet, just for a little more sweetness.

The crust I used was unorthodox. I know when you think “s’mores” a picture of melty milk chocolate pressed next to a toasted gooey marshmallow and sandwiched between two honey graham crackers comes to mind. The thing is though, I wanted mini pies, and I couldn’t figure out a way to incorporate a graham cracker crust into the recipe. Sure I could have used store-bough mini graham cracker pie crusts, but I felt that those were way too big. So instead I opted for a flaky pie crust. And you know what? It actually worked well, I thought. This crust is delectably flaky, one of the best pie crusts I’ve come across.

And I can’t forget about the toasted marshmallow tops. I had about 1/5 of a bag of mini marshmallows in the pantry, so I used scissors to cut them in half and placed them all around the baked chocolate filling, set the pies under the broiler, and voilĂ ! S’mores pie is served.

So celebrate, have a slice of some 3.141592…(that’s all I have memorized).

Mini S’mores Pie
Adapted from The Pastry Affair 
Crust from Adora’s Box    
Makes 6 mini pies (muffin sized)

½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 tbsp cold butter, cubed
2 oz soft cream cheese

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or you can use a food processor) beat the flour and butter until coarse crumbs form. Add in the cream cheese and beat until dough forms a ball, about 2 minutes. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes to an hour.
  2. Place dough between two sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper, and roll as thin as you can get it. Use some kind or round object (4-4.5 in diameter) to cut out crusts. Re-roll dough and repeat until all the dough has been used up (there will be no scraps). You may need to re-refrigerate the dough between rolling sessions.
  3. Place dough rounds into standard muffin tins. Set in the fridge to chill while you make the filling.  
Chocolate Filling
¼ cup + 2 tbsp whipping cream
¼ cup + 2 tbsp milk
5 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
Pinch of salt
1 egg, room temperature and beaten
¼ - ½ cup mini marshmallows cut in half


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Take the pie crusts out of the fridge.
  2. Whisk the whipping cream and the milk in a medium sauce pan. Warm the liquid over medium-low heat. When the milk mixture has heated, stir in the chocolate. Keep stirring until all of the chocolate has completely melted and the mixture is velvety smooth. Throw in a pinch of salt. Add in the beaten egg and whisk until mixture becomes smooth again. Be careful not to scramble the egg.
  3. Pour chocolate mixture into a jug or something with a spout for easy pouring. Carefully fill the pie crusts with the chocolate filling, leaving a little room (about 1/3 inch) on top. Place on the middle rack and bake for about 15-17 minutes, or until the filling has set and does not giggle in the center.
  4. Take mini pies out of the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Once cool, set the pies in the fridge for a few hours to finish setting. Once set, cover the tops of the pies with halved mini marshmallows and set under to broiler for 30seconds – 1 minute or until the marshmallows have been nicely toasted. Serve warm or cold, but I preferred mine warm. To warm, stick in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.  

Friday, March 9, 2012

Brown Sugar-Sugar Cookies

I made cookies.

Ok, well that isn’t really giant, earth-shattering news, but cookies make people happy, right?

This week is the start of the annual two week state testing what-cha-ma-call it in Colorado. I’ve had to take that stupid test for eight years…EIGHT YEARS! It’s pure torture; the prompts are dumb and it’s just not a fun test. Last year was the first year that I didn’t have to take the state test, but I had to go to ACT prep classes. This year I am totally FREE! So what do I do? I make brown sugar-sugar cookies.

Yup. I absolutely love the taste of brown sugar. I think it is God’s gift to the baking world. It makes everything taste so warm and homey. Mmm. I’m not much of a sugar cookie gal, but when I found these on Joy’s site and just fell in love with the idea of having a sugar cookie, but have it taste like brown sugar.

The cookie dough is kind of crumbly, but when packed it forms nicely together. The cookies are soft but firm at the same time. Joy also added cinnamon and ginger to amp up the flavor profile. As the cookies baked, the whole house smelled of spice, and as soon as I opened the oven door, a wave of cinnamon passed through, which made me sigh in delight.

My family seemed to really like the cookies, even my sister, who as I’ve mentioned before, never eats anything I make. I will admit, though, that these are not my favorite cookies. I have to be in a certain mood, and outside has to be just right for me to enjoy a spice cookie. But, when I want to feel warm and cozy, I’ll probably bake these up again.

Brown Sugar-Sugar Cookies
From Joy theBaker
Makes 26 cookies

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
½ cup + 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, and ground ginger; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the egg yolk and vanilla and beat on medium for another minute or two.
  3. Slow the mixer speed down to low and add the flour mixture all at once. Mix until all of the flour mixture has been incorporated. Turn the mixer on medium and beat for another 30 seconds or so. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  
  4. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes. Once the dough has chilled, use a cookie scoop to portion out the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Make sure to space the cookies about two inches apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before moving them onto a cooling rack.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Chocolate Chip Scones with a Peanut Butter Glaze

“I need to make this!” “I can’t wait to try this!” “Oh my goodness, I so want to make this right now!”

These are some of the things I say when I see something that looks really good or really decadent or really just any amazing adjective that describes food can have. But I sometimes feel guilty about saying these things because there are just way too many recipes out there to try, that I often get sidetracked and don’t make what I say I’m going to make. Well no more.

This last week I went through every single one of the blogs that I follow and love, and wrote an actual “To Bake” list. It took me forever, but I finally (sort of) finished it. This list does not include recipes I’ve found in magazines and cookbooks and the drool-worthy treats that I’ve found on Foodgawker.

The recipe I give you today comes from A Farmgirl’s Dabbles. This recipe was the reason I was inspired to create a tangible “To Bake” list.

I know the last two recipes have been for scones, but these one… wow. I don’t even know where I should begin to describe these amazing scones, but I will try.

First off, it has chocolate chips in it. Who can resist anything with chocolate chips? Second, it is the fluffiest thing you will put in your mouth. I know that’s some weird wording, but I don’t care. These scones are super soft and so delicate and puffy. I loved just tearing it apart and eating it bit by bit. The third and final thing: it has a peanut butter glaze. This has becomes my all-time FAVORITE glaze. I usually find glazes to be really sickly sweet and I don’t put them on things, but Brenda said to use it, so I obliged. And no, you will not be able to resist the urge to lick your fingers clean of the amazingness that is this peanut butter drizzle.

There is one thing that I changed though. I never have any actual buttermilk in the fridge because I hardly ever use it. So instead of buttermilk, I used a buttermilk substitute. This made the dough really, super-duper sticky. Even though the stickiness made working with the dough hard, it was totally worth it. When I asked about the stickiness, Brenda said that she had the same troubles when she used a buttermilk substitute. I didn’t mind the stickiness in the end, because the taste of these scones is SOOOO worth it. BUT, if you don’t want to work with such sticky dough, use actual buttermilk.

Chocolate Chip Scones with Peanut Butter Glaze
Adapted slightly from A Farmgirl’s Dabbles
Makes 5 generous scones

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tbsp + 2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
3 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cubed
6 tbsp semisweet chocolate chips
¼ cup buttermilk
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tbsp. milk, for brushing

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. (If you plan on using the powdered buttermilk substitute add the powder in here too.)
  2. Drop in butter a few cubes at a time. Cut or rub in until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chips. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the buttermilk (or water if using buttermilk powder substitute), egg, and vanilla. Stir until just combined.
  3. Transfer dough onto a well-floured surface and knead five or six times. If you are using the substitute, then the dough will stick to your hands a lot. Just try and work with it as much you can. Maybe even spray some cooking spray onto your hands. Pat the dough into a circle and cut into wedges (if your dough is sticky, then just weigh the dough and then divide that way). Transfer onto a baking sheet. Brush each scone with a little bit of milk. Bake until the tops are golden brown, about 10-13 minutes.
  4. Let cool in the pan for five minutes before moving onto a cooling rack. As the scone cool down, make the glaze.

Peanut Butter Glaze
¼ cup powdered sugar
2 tsp milk
2 tsp peanut butter
1/8 tsp vanilla extract

  1. You may want to put the peanut butter in the microwave for about 10 seconds to soften it up before you get started. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients until smooth. When the scones are almost cooled, drizzle of the tops and enjoy.
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