Monday, February 25, 2013

Soft Andes Mint Chip Cookies

Do you remember the days when you would get an Andes mint with your check after eating a meal in a restaurant? I loved getting those little Andes mints, trying to savor as much as I could, even though it was this little tiny rectangle of goodness.

When I saw these Andes mint cookies on Foodgawker I knew I needed to make them at some point. The only thing was I couldn’t find Andes mint chips anywhere! I knew I could probably just buy regular Andes mints and just chop them up, but I’m too lazy for that. Then one day I was at Target and I found them! I quickly grabbed a bag in preparation for making them.

The Andes mint chips were kind of forgotten for a while. I always saw them, but never really thought about them. Until sometime in January when I was having stress problems from school and I needed to do something that didn’t require complicated math.

These cookies are not gooey, but rather soft and fluffy. I know it’s kind of weird to describe a cookie as fluffy, but that’s what the inside of the baked cookies looked light.

The mint is very prominent in these cookies, so if you are an Andes mint fan, bake these right away.

Soft Andes Mint Chip Cookies
Slightly adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Makes about 3 ½ dozen

2 ¼ cups (270 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 stick unsalted butter, soft
¾ cup (144 g) dark brown sugar
½ cup (96 g) sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk, room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
 1/3 cup Andes Mint Chips

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Make sure to break up the clumps of cocoa.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add the whole egg and egg yolk, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Turn the mixer speed down to low and add 1/3 of the flour mixture. Turn the mixer on medium and beat for 30 seconds. Repeat with half the flour mixture and again with the remaining flour mixture. The dough should be quite thick. Fold the Andes mint chips with a rubber spatula.

Drop tablespoon size pieces of dough onto the cookie sheet, keeping each piece about 2 inches apart. I used a medium-small cookie scoop for this. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until slightly brown around the edges. Cool the cookies on the tray for 2-3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack or into your mouth. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cake Slice Bakers - February 2013: Red Velvet Cake with Mascarpone Cream Cheese Frosting

Hello, and Happy Wednesday. I’m going to help you get over the “hump day” with cake today? Sound good? Ok, lets go.

This cake was the favorite in the Cake Slice Baker poll for this month, and I’m so glad it was. It was initially up for voting in December but it lost, and due to the lovely red color and Valentine’s Day being in February, this cake was up for voting again. I have to admit I was pretty excited when this cake won because I had never baked red velvet anything before. Well that sort of turned into a lie since I made these red velvet donuts way before I made this cake.

This cake sort of reminds me of a cheesecake cake. You know those cheesecakes with the cake-like crust? Yeah, only it’s cake and the frosting tastes exactly like lovely tasting cheesecake. I know that’s not very descriptive, but I don’t care.

The cake is oh so soft and moist, even after several days in the fridge! This cake did not get stale whatsoever. The recipe calls for quite a bit of cocoa powder, and you can sort of taste it, which is nice, because I’ve heard you can taste red food coloring. Tasting red food coloring doesn’t sound appetizing, so it’s nice this cake has a little chocolate hint.

The frosting is absolutely amazing! I have to say one thing though: I was not a fan when I first dipped my finger in the bowl. It tasted too… cheesy? But I decided to frost the cake with it anyways. When I was done with the bowl of frosting I gave the leftovers to my roommate to eat, and by golly she almost licked the bowl clean! Then after storing the cake in the fridge for a while, I cut myself a slice and was shocked at how much I loved the frosting! The frosting pairs so beautifully with this cake.

I’m so glad I got a chance to make this cake. So far it seems this cake book is the best in the three years I’ve participated in the Cake Slice Bakers.

Red Velvet Cake with Mascarpone Cream Cheese Frosting
Slightly adapted from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson
Makes one 9-inch round cake

1 ¼ cups cake flour, sifted
¼ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
~½ cup canola oil
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1-2 tsp. red food coloring (I used AmeriColor Super Red)
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup + 2 tbsp. sugar
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk, room temperature
½ cup buttermilk, room temperature

4 oz. cream cheese frosting, room temperature
4 oz. mascarpone cheese, cold
¼ cup heavy whipping cream, cold
½ tbsp. pure vanilla extract

For the Cake: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Put a parchment round at the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan. Grease the sides and parchment paper with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to thoroughly combine, set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary. With the mixer on low speed, drizzle in the oil. Add the vanilla and food coloring. Mix until completely combined. Slowly turn the mixer back up to medium-high and beat until fluffy again. Blend the eggs and egg yolk one at a time. Turn the mixer down to low speed and gradually add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk in two parts, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Be careful not to over-mix the batter.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth over the top. Gently tap the pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles. Bake on the center rack for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle (the top should also look slightly cracked). Cool the cake in the pan for 30 minutes before removing onto a cooling rack, face up, until the cake reaches room temperature. Frost the cake as you please.

For the Frosting: Beat the cream cheese in a medium bowl until uniform in texture. Add the mascarpone, cream, and sugar. Beat on low speed until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary. Turn the speed up to high and beat until the frosting looks creamy and thick. Add vanilla and mix until just blended.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fudgy Brownies

So for those of you who have been living under a rock, or have just lost track of time, today is Valentine’s Day. For some this means snuggling up to your cuddle-bunny, pudding-cup, sweetie-pie, etc., feeding each other romantic meals by candlelight and sharing fancy desserts. For others, like myself, it means well… nothing. I don’t mind, really. I have brownies to keep me company.

In case you didn’t know, I only have three brownie recipes on here. I have no idea why I have so little; I love chocolate, and fudginess, so why do I only have three recipes? Probably because I love a certain kind of brownie: the kind of brownie made from a box. Those brownies have everything I’m looking for: deep dark chocolate color, rich chocolate taste, crinkly paper-thin tops, and chewy fudgy texture. I may be wrong, but I think a lot of bloggers have trouble finding that perfect balance in a scratch recipe.

When I decided to make brownies, it was 6 in the morning on a Saturday. I looked through my “To Bake” list and found like one brownie recipe: s’mores brownie. When I looked through the saved recipes on Foodgawker, none of the brownies caught my eye. Then I looked on Pintrest, and the same thing happened. I looked on foodgawker again and these Fudgy Brownies looked promising. They have the crinkly top and the deep dark color along with the look of pure chewy fudginess going on in the center.

This recipe calls for a technique I have never seen in brownies. Instead of adding leavening, you whip up egg whites and sugar. For some reason I could not get my egg whites and sugar to whip to the soft peaks I wanted, but I somehow made it work. The rend result was a semi-crinkle crust, and a dense fudgy interior.

The flavor of this brownie is the thing that really shines through, though. The flavor rivals all scratch brownies I have ever had. Even my roommate, who has only ever eaten one kind of brownie her entire life: Pillsbury boxed mix, said these were really good. So there may be hope for made-from-scratch brownies yet.

Happy Valentine's Day! <3
Fudgy Brownies
Slightly adapted from Juanita’s Cocina
Makes a 9-inch square pan

8 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder, sifted
¾ cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
1 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch square pan with tin foil. Grease tin foil with cooking spray; set the pan aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Once completely melted, remove from heat and whisk in the sifted cocoa powder (sifting the cocoa powder helps remove those pesky clumps and makes for easier mixing). Stir until smooth. Beat in the brown sugar, egg yolks, vanilla and salt. The mixture will be granular. Mix in the flour until combined. The mixture will be very thick.

Beat egg whites in a large bowl until foamy. Gradually add the sugar. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Fold the egg white and sugar mixture into the chocolate mixture, making sure not to over mix.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center. Allow brownies to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Cool to room temperature before slicing.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake

All right, so remember those Chocolate Kiss Krispies I shared will y’all last week? Remember what I said about not going out and buying that strawberry drink mix just for the glaze? Well, you probably should have because I have a recipe that will delight the artificial strawberry lover in you. (That is made to be a good thing).

I remember after reading this post on Sprinkle Bakes I immediately saved the recipe. It’s a No Bake Strawberry Milk Cheesecake. I always liked chocolate milk as a kid, but I did try strawberry milk every once in a while. And although it has been several years since I have had strawberry milk, I still remember the taste, but only because of Neapolitan ice cream.

I planned on making this back in the Spring/Summer of last year, but I never got around to it. Then Peabody took up suggestions for birthday cake and she made the same cheesecake for her fiancĂ©, so that’s when it clicked that I really need to get my act together and make this thing. That, plus the fact this cheesecake is pink and therefore perfect for Valentine’s Day.

 I would like to mention this is only my third cheesecake ever! My first was this delectable pumpkin cheesecake picked from the Cake Slice Bakers group and this amazing chocolate and peanut butter mousse cake, again from the Cake Slice Bakers.

This cheesecake isn’t really a cheesecake at all. At least it doesn’t taste that way. It just tasted like an ice cream cake, which is pretty dang awesome! The creamy batter (if I can call it that) it subtly sweet and tastes like childhood. And instead of making the funfetti crust Heather made, I decided to go with just a chocolate teddy graham crust because chocolate teddy grahams were all I had. I think the chocolate crust and strawberry milk filling is a great combination, though. I didn’t add the whipped cream on top, but if you did, this basically would be a Neapolitan ice cream cake.

No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake
Adapted from Sprinkle Bakes
Makes 6 cheesecake cups

50 g chocolate teddy graham crumbs
Pinch of salt
½ tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

½ cup heavy whipping cream
4 oz. cream cheese, soft
¼ cup strawberry drink mix (such as Nestle Nesquick)
½ tbsp. sugar *

Line a muffin tin with six paper liners.

To turn the teddy grams into crumbs, just put them in a food processor and pulse until you get fine crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor, put the teddy grahams into a ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin. Whisk together the crumbs, salt, and sugar in a small bowl. Pour in the melted butter and mix until the crumbs are moist. Place 1 ½ tbsp. of the crumb mixture into each paper liner.

In a large bowl, beat the heavy cream to soft peaks. Add the softened cream cheese and beat until combined. Sift in the strawberry milk powder and sugar. *I used 25% less sugar strawberry Nestle Nesquick, but if you use the full sugar, just omit the ½ tbsp. of sugar in the recipe. Fold the milk powder and sugar to combine. Evenly distribute the cheesecake filling between the six cups (I used a medium-small cookie scoop and put three dollops into each tin).

Freeze cheesecake cups for 2 hours, or until firm, before removing them from the tin. Let the cheesecake cup sit at room temperature for a few minutes before serving. Store uneaten cheesecake in the freezer.  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chocolate Kiss Krispies

I know I haven't been posting on this blog as much as I usually do. School is tough. I'm taking Calculus  II, Physics I, Chemistry II, Engineering, and History of Technologies, so please, allow me to be a little scrambled with posts. It's not that I haven't been baking, because trust me, I have! The thing keeping me from posting is my work load. By the time I remember to write a post or edit pictures, or even take pictures, it's 10 or 11 at night. Hopefully this weekend will be a little less bah and I can take some photos and write. With that said, lets get to the topic at hand: rice krispie treats!

The other day I saw this recipe for chocolate rice krispie treats that sounded absolutely amazing! They consisted of cocoa rice krispie cereal, Hershey’s kisses, and hot chocolate mix! All that chocolate sounded perfect, so I set out to make them.

Even though I adapted these quite a bit, I still think they taste absolutely fantastic. The kisses melt when added to the hot butter and marshmallow mixture, creating pockets of creamy milk chocolate. And who doesn’t like pockets of chocolate?

And how many of you are fans of a really compact marshmallow treat? And ones that love it when they fall apart? Well these rice krispie treats are sort of both. They are firm enough to hold their shape and don’t fall apart when you pick it up, but these are soft enough that if you wanted to pull it apart, like I do, these give way easy. It’s like a magic rice krispie treat!

In the spirit of the upcoming Valentine’s Day, I added a strawberry milk glaze on top. Now you can top this with whatever you want, because this really doesn’t use much strawberry milk powder, and I don’t want you going out and buying some just for this glaze, although it I pretty, and sets up nice and crunchy like.


Chocolate Kiss Krispies
Adapted from The Sweet Chick
Makes one 9-inch square pan

2 tbsp. unsalted butter
5 oz. mini marshmallows
3 cups Cocoa Rice Krispie cereal
12 milk chocolate Hershey’s kisses, roughly chopped

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

In a medium sized pot, melt together the butter and mini marshmallows over medium heat. Once both the butter and marshmallows have completely melted, take off the heat and add in the cereal and chopped kisses. Stir to combine, making sure all of the cereal is completely coated in melted marshmallow.

Pour the marshmallow mix into the prepared pan, using your hands to spread it to all corners. Wetting your hands with help the mixture from sticking to your hands. Let the mixture cool before topping with the glaze.

To make the glaze: combine ½ cup confectioners’ sugar, 1 tsp. strawberry milk mix, and 1 - 2 tsp. hot water. Add water by ¼ tsp. until you get desired glazing consistency. Drizzle glaze over top of the marshmallow treat. Cut into desired shapes. (I got 9 treats plus some giant scraps with the heart cutter I used) 
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