Monday, November 26, 2012

Bakery Style m&m Cookies

I initially made these so I could post them for the 9th week of Christmas Treats; however, life and Thanksgiving got in the way. By the way I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Did you go shopping on Friday? I did for the very first time…. Never again will I do that. It was complete madness, especially at the shoe department. Women are vicious; I already knew that, but seeing it first hand is terrifying.

Ok, sidetrack over, like I was saying. I had some leftover fall themed m&ms from the marshmallow popcorn balls I made a few weeks ago and since I don’t eat candy straight, I decided to put them to good use and put them into something I love: cookies!

I am still searching for the perfect chocolate chip cookie, but as for m&m cookies, I think I have found the perfect recipe.

These cookies are super duper soft and gooey and totally delicious when taken out of the oven. There is twice as much brown sugar in these babies as there is regular white sugar, which gives the cookies the most amazing caramely-dark flavor. Plus with two whole teaspoons of vanilla in the dough, you wont be missing that subtle sweetness.

I’ve also found I’m really liking milk chocolate in my cookies. Don’t take me wrong, I still love my dark chocolate, but I think milk chocolate adds a little something extra. Weird, most people say that about dark chocolate.

Have a great rest of your week. Mine will be totally hectic as it’s the last full week before finals. Yeah that’s right finals are a commin’. So wish me luck please. I’m going to need it for calculus and chemistry.

Bakery Style m&m Cookies
Makes about 3 ½ dozen

2 cups + 2 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
12 tbsp. (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk, room temperature
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ cup m&ms

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and both sugars until smooth. Beat in the egg and egg yolk until they have fully been incorporated and the volume has increased a little. Stir in the vanilla. Gentle fold the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. The dough will look a lot like batter at first, but be patient; cookie dough will form once all the flour has been added. Stir the m&ms into the dough.

Use a small-medium cookie scoop (mine is about one or one and a half tbsp. worth) to portion out the dough. Space the dough about two inches apart. Bake in the center rack for 8-10 minutes or until just golden brown around the edges. Allow to cool on the sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely… or eat them straight off the tray.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cake Slice Bakers - November 2012: Shoo-Fly Cake

It so does not seem like a month has passed. To me it feels like an eternity has passed, but a really slow eternity. I—I guess I just don’t know what to feel. Autumn is my very, very, VERY close second favorite season with winter being my absolute love. When October 1st hit, it seemed like I had an eternity to make, bake, and create all these lovely fall desserts and now fall is almost over and I haven’t even made a dent in the seasonal things I wanted to make. Why does fall only have to be 2 months? Why? It’s awful. But I guess there is always next year.

Anyways, lets talk cake. November is almost over and that means I get to share not only cake, but I also get to reveal this year's super secret book for the Cake Slice Bakers. Drum roll please… (this is where you beat your desk or lap with your hands and make a berrrrrr sound).

This year’s chosen book is Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson. The cover is absolutely adorable and elegant, but also sweet and simple. The book promises “timeless recipes for cupcakes, flips, rolls, layer, angle, bundt, chiffon, and icebox cakes for today’s sweet tooth”. I honestly can’t wait for this year. I’ve only read 40 pages of the book and I already have so many cakes I want to try out. The book is a little on the pricy side, but so far I think it’s completely worth it. Wanna know why? Because the first cake I made was a complete success!

For the month of November the bakers and I decided on the Shoo-Fly Cake; it’s listed under Hasty Cakes. The batter was thick, yet runny, probably because it uses the melted butter method instead of the creaming method. The end result was a beautifully tall and moist cake. This cake is so, so delicious. Eating this cake is basically like eating a gingerbread man only in cake form. To be honest, I don’t think the crumb topping does much for the cake. Sure it tastes wonderful and makes for a pretty topping, but I think some sort of cream sauce would go better with this cake. I’ll have to try some stuff out.

I did make a few modifications to the cake though, and I just thought I would mention them because some of the girls were talking about sunken crumbles and leaky cake pans.

The first change was the amount of crumble topping I used. I only made half the batch listed below and I only used about half of what I made. So basically I used ¼ of the recipe below. Oh and I totally forgot to mention something: I completely forgot about the crumble topping until after the cake had been in the oven for 2 or 3 minutes. So I just quick took it out, sprinkled some of the topping on and back into the oven the cake went.

Second, I used a little less than ¾ cup of molasses. I was getting impatient with the flow of molasses and I stopped about a tablespoon or two before the ¾ mark. The recipe also calls for unsulfured blackstrap molasses; I used mild molasses because, like pumpkin, I can’t stand the smell of it until it’s baked into delicious goodies.

Third, I ran out of unbleached all-purpose flour, so I made the cake with white whole-wheat flour and used 1 cup of white whole-wheat flour  and 1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour in the cake.
The last change I made isn’t really so much of a change. I used warm decaf coffee. The book doesn’t specify what kind of coffee and since I don’t drink it, I borrowed a little bit of my roommate’s decaf stuff.
I’m not sure if these changes made the cake come out any different, but I thought it was worth mentioning it, just in case.      

Please go check out how the other girls did this month by clicking here.

Shoo-Fly Cake
From Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson
Makes one 9-inch round cake

Crumble Topping   
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature

2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup (192 g) sugar
1 ½ sticks (12 tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup unsulfured blackstrap molasses
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup warm coffee

Whisk together the brown sugar and flour in a small bowl. Rub the butter into the mixture until coarse. Place the bowl in the freezer to chill while you make the cake.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9 inch springform pan with a parchment round and grease with cooking spray.

Sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, butter, and molasses until smooth. Beat the eggs in one at a time. Stir in the vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the warm coffee in two additions. Mix until the batter is smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle chilled crumble over top of the cake (you may need to break the topping up a little bit). Place the pan in the oven and bake for 38-42 minutes or until a toothpick comes out relatively clean when inserted in the center.

Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Release the sides of the pan and slice the cake to serve. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Marshmallow Popcorn Balls

I am going to talk to you about marshmallow popcorn balls.

Most people have probably had a popcorn ball or two (most likely dozens) in their lifetime, but I am not most people. I have never had a popcorn ball, ever!

Quite frankly I’m not much of a popcorn person to begin with. When I’m at the movies (which is once or twice every year… maybe) I get a hot dog and junior mints or gummy stars. Popcorn just isn’t on my radar. When I saw these popcorn balls over at A Farmgirl’s Dabbles I immediately became intrigued because it was just like a rice krispie treat, only popcornified. After reading her post I set out to buy a box of microwave kettle korn (which I am not obsessed with – maybe I just don’t like buttered/non-flavored popcorn) and saved it for a rainy day.

I finally got a chance to make these little marshmallow balls when I was having a hard time deciding what to share for the 8th week in 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Brenda from Meal Planning Magic.

The saltiness and crunchiness of the kettle korn paired with the sweet, gooey, and butter marshmallow is a match made in sticky crunchy heaven. Brenda used peanuts and orange gummies, but because I couldn’t find orange gummies, I swapped it out for fall-festive M&Ms. Of course you don’t have to have peanuts; you can use cashews instead or maybe candied nuts. And since Mars Inc. busts out a festive bag of M&Ms for every holiday, these popcorn balls can be made for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and all those other fun holidays.

Check out the other treats down below for some great ideas for holiday treats.  

Marshmallow Popcorn Balls
Slightly adapted from A Farmgirl’s Dabbles
Makes 9-11 balls

1 (76.3 g) bag microwave kettle korn
5 oz. mini marshmallows
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ cup dry-roasted salted peanuts
½ cup M&Ms

Microwave popcorn according to the package directions. Empty the bag into a large bowl. Make sure to pick out the un-popped kernels, no one wants to bite down on that!

In a medium saucepan, melt the marshmallows and butter on medium heat. Stir frequently until the marshmallows have completely melted. The melted mixture will have a yellowish tint, but that’s because of the butter. This mixture is super-duper sticky, so watch out.

Pour the melted marshmallow mixture over the popped popcorn. Wait a minute before diving in to coat the popcorn in the melted marshmallow because it will be hot. Grease your hands with cooking spray or butter and mix the popcorn around the evenly coat it in marshmallow goo. Add in the peanuts and M&Ms. Mix, fold, and stir to evenly distribute the add-ins. Wait a few minutes for the mixture to set so you can shape them into balls.

Once the mixture has set a little bit and isn’t as sticky, grab a hand full of the sticky popcorn mixture and shape into balls. Be sure not to press too hard. Enjoy.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Blue Ribbon Coffee Cake

Baking has been slow for the past couple weeks. I usually do all my baking on the weekends so I’ll have a post up by Monday and Thursday. But these past two weeks have been hectic. I’ve been writing 11 page lab reports, studying for tests, doing two hours worth of math homework, and goodness knows what else. It’s all starting to run together. So this past weekend I took it easy. I’m sort of regretting it now though. Since I decided to do minimal homework, it’s all piling up on itself and I feel like I’m drowning in stuff. But it’s ok. When I get going, the workload doesn’t seem as bad anymore. I guess it’s all about balance, right?

So while I was having a leisurely weekend, something delicious came out of the kitchen. It’s coffee cake. I haven’t had coffee cake in the longest time. And I certainly can’t remember the last time I baked coffee cake.

This coffee cake recipe comes from one of my favorite blogs: Baked Bree. She made this cake back in September and divided the batter between four of the cutest little tube pans I have ever seen. I don’t have cute tube pans so I just made mine in a regular 9 inch square pan, but that doesn’t alter the taste I swear.

This coffee cake is perfectly soft. Even when I was cutting it into squares I could tell how tender this cake was going to be. The top is sugary, kind of like the top of crème brule, only better because it’s crumbly. I found the texture of the cake to be at its best the day it was made, but when heated up the next day and topped with a little bit of vanilla bean ice cream, it’s pure heaven. Seriously. The melted ice cream gets into the little cracks of the cake and the sugary topping soaks up all the ice cream. Plus the warm/cold combo is just so nice.

This cake didn’t last more than 24 hours (I may or may not have been the reason for that). So when you feel like having a slack day, make this coffee cake, you wont be sorry.

Blue Ribbon Coffee Cake
Hardly adapted from Baked Bree
Makes one 9 inch square pan

1/3 cup (63 g) dark brown sugar
¼ cup (48 g) sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup (120 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 egg, room temperature
½ cup (96 g) sugar
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 oz. sour cream (I used light)

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line a 9 inch square pan with tin foil. Grease tin foil with cooking spray; set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the dark brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla (this is the cinnamon-vanilla-sugar topping for the top of the cake). Set the bowl aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer filled with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fully. Add the egg and the vanilla extract and beat until smooth. The mixture may look a little curdled, but that’s ok, it will smooth out eventually.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture in the bowl. Beat on low speed until the flour is fully incorporated. The batter will look and feel very sticky, almost light a dough. Add the sour cream and beat until smooth.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. It will look like there is not enough batter for the pan, but just keep spreading and it will distribute itself out. Sprinkle the reserved cinnamon-vanilla-sugar topping on top of the cake. Place pan in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top is slightly golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.  
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