Thursday, October 25, 2012

Oatmeal Fudge Bars

When it comes to the world of chocolate, I like it rich and dark. I have come to like a little bit of milk chocolate, but give me a choice between the two, and I will greedily take the dark chocolate bar. Plus I can’t resist the crisp snap dark chocolate makes when you break it in two.

Oats have a special place in my heart too. I have Quaker instant maple and brown sugar oatmeal for breakfast at least three times a week. Yes I know it’s not as healthy as actually making oatmeal from scratch, but I don’t care. It’s sweet and chewy and delicious. I will admit that I make oatmeal from scratch on occasion. I can’t resist the mouth feel oatmeal provides.

I’m also a fan of crunchies. Ever since I was little I would love a good crunchy chicken finger or granola bar. Plus, crumble toppings are my weakness. They are so sweet and crunchy and just amazing on anything.

These bars have every single component I mentioned above. It has am oaty base, which browns and crisps up beautifully as it bakes. The middle layer consists of pure decadence. It’s rich, dark, and ever so smooth, yet fudgy too. The middle layer of this bar is basically a brownie, but sort of like a chocolate pie filling. It’s heavenly. Then the top layer is made of leftover base crumbled all over the smooth chocolate layer.

Warning: this treat is very rich and highly addicting. It’s absolutely perfect for small get-togethers.

This post is part of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats, hosted this year by the wonderful Brenda of Meal Planning Magic.

Oatmeal Fudge Bars
Slightly adapted from Tracy’s Culinary Adventures
Makes one 9-icnh square pan

Base and Crumble
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup brown sugar
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ tsp. salt
9 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or chips
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 egg, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 325F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil. Grease the foil with cooking spray. Set the pan aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the oats, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pour in the melted butter and mix until the dough comes together. Set aside about ½ cup of the oat mixture. Pour the remaining dough into the prepared pan, pressing down to create an even layer.

Bake for 8 minutes or until just slightly golden on top. Set the pan aside to cool for 1 hour while you make the filling.

Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, and salt. Melt the chocolate and butter over a double boiler. Stir until the chocolate and butter have completely melted into each other. Let the chocolate cool for about 5 minutes. Beat in the egg. Fold in the flour mixture. The filling will be thick. Pour the filling over the partially baked base. Smooth over the top with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture on top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the oat crumble has turned a golden brown. Place the pan on a cooling rack to cool completely (2 hours). Cut into squares. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Cookie Sticks

I really don’t have much to say in this post. Usually I can find something to comment on, but today I don’t.  So I’m going to ramble on about the difference between cookies and cookie sticks. Sound good, good; if not then just scroll through the pretty pictures, ok?

When I think of cookies, I think little delights of gooey centers, crisp edges, and metly chocolate shavings evenly dispersed throughout. Ok well that’s the short version of my perfect chocolate chip cookie heaven, but I won’t go into full detail about that, unless you want to read an essay.

Cookie sticks are different because they are sticks. Yeah, I know, terrific reasoning, right? Well, when I think of sticks I think of hard things with a great snap. Biscotti are stick cookies. They are hard and have a great snap to them without being bricks. They also absorb milk beautifully yet hold their integrity nicely. Lets face it, it’s a sad day when you leave a cookie dunked in milk too long, and when you go to take a bite, it plops off right into the milk, splashing it everywhere. Then you have to look like a total fool while digging around in your cup for your missing cookie.

Like Biscotti, these cookie sticks are crisp and soak up milk like a dream. I usually don’t like dunking my cookies in milk because of the reasons listed above (broken cookie and spilled milk). However, when it comes to harder cookies, I love dunking them in milk because it makes them so soft and tender and spongy? Yeah, sort of spongy… but better tasting than a sponge.

Anyways, these are perfect little sticks for dunking. I may or may not have had more than my fair share of them. Whoops.

Cookie Sticks
Slightly adapted from My Baking Addiction
Makes 2 ½ dozen sticks

1 ½ cups (180g) unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 egg, room temperature
½ cup (96g) sugar
½ cup (96g) dark brown sugar
½ cup canola oil
¼ cup (64g) creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup (83g) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, beat the egg and sugars together until smooth, creamy, and light in color. Beat in the oil and peanut butter until smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, making sure not to over-mix.

Divide the dough into two equal portions (I used a scale because I’m OCD). Form each portion into a 15x3 inch rectangle and set on the prepared baking sheet about 3 inches apart from each other. Note: the dough will be kind of greasy and hard to handle at first, but if you keep working it, it will eventually form into a rectangle.

Bake in the middle rack for 8-10 minutes. Cool on the pan for 10 minutes. Using a serrated knife cut the cookie logs into 1-inch sticks.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cake Slice Bakers - October 2012: Pumpkin Walnut Cake

This is the best pumpkin bread you will ever taste. I’m being completely serious here. I know many people are skeptical when it comes to “the best” anything because who am I to tell you what is the best? I am no one, and I am telling you this really is the best pumpkin bread you will ever taste. I should end the post right here; right now, and just give you the recipe. In fact, I’ve contemplated doing so for a few seconds, but I’ve decided against it.

If you haven’t noticed already, it is the 20th of October, which means it’s Cake Slice Bakers time! This marvelously tender cake is the last cake I am baking for the group. Like last year, each group member was allowed to pick any cake they wanted to bake and present. I did not have the luxury of choosing this cake only because the book is in Colorado and I am in South Carolina. Knowing I wouldn’t have the book with me, I asked my mom to go through the book and pick a cake that looked like something I would enjoy baking and eating (she has very different cake taste than I do). Last weekend my mom finally came through and gave me the recipe for the best pumpkin bread in the whole world. (Thank you mama!)

Yes, I know I’m still hyping up this cake, but I don’t care. I really don’t think I have tasted pumpkin bread any better than this, something I thought was impossible. Impossible because there is a pumpkin farm just a few miles away from my home in Colorado. This has the best pumpkin pickings, pumpkin pancake mix, pumpkin squares, and of coarse, the bestest pumpkin bread ever! I’m actually quite depressed that I can’t have that bread this year. But now that I have this recipe, I don’t think I’ll be to dissapointed.

I’m still not sure what to call this. I want to call it pumpkin bread, but the title in the book says Pumpkin Walnut Cake. Whatever, I don’t care, all I know is I can’t stop thinking about this cake.

If you are following me on Instagram (rblooney) you noticed I posted a picture of a cute little mini loaf pan, yeah I baked this cake in that cute little pan. I halved the recipe below and got four mini loaves out of it. I gave one loaf to a family friend after having dinner with her, who later that night e-mailed me asking for the recipe because it was the best pumpkin cake she has ever tasted (see I’m not the only one). That left three loaves for my roommates and me. When I came home from dinner, my roommates sheepishly asked if they could have some. I of coarse said yes, and the first words out of my mouth were “Oh my freaking god this is the best pumpkin bread I’ve ever tasted”. My roommates hurriedly agreed.

This ends the year of The Cake Book. Click here to see what the rest decided to bake. Stay tuned next month for the new book we will be baking from. And if you’re contemplating getting this book, I highly recommend it. It has been the best cake book I have ever baked from.

By the way, I’m so sorry this post is so frantic; I’m just really excited about this cake.

Pumpkin Walnut Cake
From The Cake Book by Tish Boyle
Makes one 9-inch square cake (you can also make it into a loaf)

1 ¾ cups (200g) cake flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¾ tsp. ground ginger
¾ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
¾ cup (142g) sugar
¾ cup (142g) brown sugar
½ cup canola oil
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¾ cup chopped walnuts (I omitted this)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch square pan with cooking spray; set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt into a medium bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and the sugars together until creamy and pale. Add the oil, pumpkin puree, milk, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix until all the flour has been completely incorporated. If using walnuts, stir them in now. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake on the center rack for 25-30 minutes. My mini loaves baked in about 20 minutes, so I would check around the 18-20 minute mark, just to be safe. When a toothpick is inserted in the middle, it should come out clean.

Cut into squares and serve. This cake is so good it doesn’t need anything on top, but if you are one of those people who need a garnishing I recommend a cinnamon glaze (1 cup powdered sugar, ¾ tsp. ground cinnamon, 1-2 tbsp. milk) or some caramel sauce (can be homemade or store bought). 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Rice Krispie Treats

From October to December time seems to fly by so quickly. I looked at the calendar the other day and was shocked to find that half the month had already passed. Where did that first part of October go? I don’t know, but now I feel the pressure to get more things done.

Today, I’m sharing something very fun. I’m sharing cinnamon roll rice krispie treats. I have had the recipe saved on my computer for a while now, and when a pumpkin spice rice krispie recipe fell through the cracks I quickly came back to these as an alternative, and I’m very glad I did.

The rice krispie part is so pretty with the specks of cinnamon scattered throughout the treat. I was actually mesmerized when I added the cinnamon to the melted marshmallow in the pot . The component that really makes these like cinnamon rolls is the cream cheese frosting. It’s not too sweet, but it’s also not too cream cheesey either. I think frosting is slowly starting to make its way into my heart.

And thank you Brenda for hosting this year's 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats. This post marks 4 weeks into the celebration. 

Cinnamon Roll Rice Krispie Treats
Slightly adapted from Cooking Classy
Makes 16 squares

Cinnamon Rice Krispie Treats
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
dash salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
5 oz. mini marshmallows
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 cups rice krispie cereal

Line a 9-inch square pan with tin foil. Grease the foil with cooking spray; set aside.

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Toss in the salt and cinnamon and stir. Add in the mini marshmallows. Stir constantly until the marshmallows have melted completely. Take off the heat and stir in the vanilla. Add the cold cereal to the hot marshmallow mixture.

Pour the hot cereal and marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan. Spread the mixture evenly across the pan with a greased rubber spatula. Gently press down to compact the treats. Set the pan in the refrigerator to cool as you make the cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, soft
2 oz. cream cheese, soft
¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
ground cinnamon (optional)

Beat the cream cheese and butter until well combined. Stir in the vanilla. Gently beat the powdered sugar in three stages so as not to make the sugar go flying.

Take the pan out of the fridge and cut into squares. Use a butter knife to spread the cream cheese frosting over the rice krispie treat. Sprinkle the tops with cinnamon if desired.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Egg on Toast

Happy Monday! Well at least I hope it’s happy. A lot of people don’t like Mondays. I guess it’s because it’s the day right after the weekend and everyone is going back to work or school and real life starts all over.

I personally don’t mind Mondays; it’s Tuesdays I hate the most. Tuesdays are like the hangover to Mondays and that’s just not fun. Wednesdays get a little better because half the week has gone by, then Thursdays are super spectacular because the weekend is almost here, but not here, so you get t savor the weekend just a little bit more. Then Friday hits and it’s finally the weekend (although Fridays never feel like Fridays for me because I have a very long lab class that day that cuts into my lunch and then I’m left starving as I measure out 2g of Vitamin C, add it to some good old H2O, watch the thing boil and hope it doesn’t turn too pink when I add just a smidge too much NaOH, but I digress)

So, here’s to all the people who just don’t like Mondays: a recipe so simple that you basically have to forget how the stove top works to mess it up.

My mom used to make this all the time when I was a little girl, this and hotdogs wrapped in pancakes with a side of ketchup (yes, it really was tasty and my sister and I often asked for it). For a while I stopped eating it, then over the summer I started craving it and made it for lunch at least once a week.

This is nothing new, some people know it as Toad in a Hole, but I know it as Egg on Toast. It is just bread with a hole cut out from the middle with scrambled egg inside. See, easy.

Drizzled with some maple syrup (don’t need to be fancy pancake syrup works just as well here) or honey (as I like to eat it now) this is simply the easiest thing to bake for breakfast or lunch, maybe even brunch.

Egg on Toast
Makes 1 serving

2 slices of your favorite bread
1 large egg, beaten
small pat of butter or cooking spray
maple syrup, pancake syrup, honey (optional)

Heat a skillet over medium – medium-high heat. Melt some butter on the skillet or grease it with cooking spray.

Cut a 2 – 2 ½ inch hole out of each slice of bread. Place one slice of bread (or two if your skillet is big enough) on the hot pan. Wait a minute for the bread to toast slightly. Pour in half of the beaten egg. Wait for a majority of the egg to cook (you’ll see it start to turn pale) and flip on the other side to cook. Repeat with the remaining bread slice and the remainder of the egg.

Drizzle with syrup or honey and serve warm. I also like the toast the little rounds I cut out. That way I get a little bit of toasty goodness and the bread doesn’t go to waste.  
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