Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookie aka the Best New Breakfast Cookie

Can you tell I might have a slight addiction to cinnamon? There have been maple cinnamon scones, monkey bread muffins (aka buttery cinnamon dough balls), cinnamon oatmeal ice cream and I even make a cinnamon bun layer cake (picture it...the filling of a cinnamon roll in between layers of vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting).  I mean I put it in my oatmeal every morning, like a lot of it, probably a half a teaspoon.  Hey at least studies have shown cinnamon is good for, you'll see.  That is not to say that any of the cinnamon creations found here are healthy; they are not...they are tasty though. 

So, were you watching the news this past weekend?  A hurricane came through the Northeast.  I guess it is that time of year again.  So, what do you do during a hurricane?  Well you (A) go to or have a hurricane party or (B) find the hurricane as an excellent excuse to do nothing; to sit in front of the TV, watch movies, make dinner for a friend and just hangout.  I know I am lame, but I chose option B.  It was my first weekend in town after a month, can you really blame me?  Plus, I made these delicious cookies, a yummy dinner and relaxed.

Lets talk about these cookies.  You might think well these are going to be just like a snickerdoodle with a cream cheese glaze on top, but they are so much more.  Don't under estimate these cookies. Since the sugar cookie dough is rolled with the brown sugar-cinnamon filling and butter in the middle the filling has a little crunch.  The brown sugar does not just melt away and get lost in these cookies.  These cookies are cakey and light, not too sweet but very cinnamony.  Try them, they will not let you down.  Plus they will make your house smell amazing!  You could even eat them for breakfast; I might have one morning...

Wet ingredients combined.  Sour cream sure does make things look light and fluffy.

1/6 of cookie dough ready to be rolled out and then covered with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.

Cookie dough all rolled out and covered.  Don't forget to flour your surface before rolling out.  Dough is seriously sticky stuff.

Gently roll, then slice like slice and bake.


Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies: (recipe from Picky Plate, modified slightly)
*makes approximately 5 dozen cookies
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup low fat sour cream
6 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

1.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until well combined.

2.  Whisk in the eggs, vanilla and sour cream until well combined, light and fluffy.

3.  In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

4.  Add the dry ingredients in 3 batches to the wet ingredients until well combined.  Divide the dough in two, cover each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

5.  In a small mixing bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon for filling.

6.  For preparing: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

7.  Lightly flour a large cutting board(or whatever work surface you choose), take 1/3 of one the blocks of cookie dough, lightly flour on top, and using a rolling pin, roll out in to a rectangle until approximately 1/8 inch thick, about 12 inches by 5 inches (See picture above). 

8.  Lightly spread butter all over rolled out cookie dough.  Heavily sprinkle dough with brown sugar cinnamon mixture.

9.  Gently roll the dough up, creating a log, then cut in 1/2 inch think slices. 

10.  Carefully place on prepared cookie sheet and bake for 14-16 minutes.  Let cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute and then move to cooling rack.  Repeat this process until all cookies are made.  While cookies are cooling prepare glaze.

Cream Cheese Glaze:
1 - 8oz block 1/3 fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3-5 tablespoons skim milk, to thin glaze

1.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cream cheese and powdered sugar.

2.  Then, whisk in milk one tablespoon at a time until glaze has reached desired consistency.

3.  Using a spoon or a piping bag, depending on the look you would like spread or pipe glaze on cookies.  (I used a piping bag, with a 1/8 inch tip, to create the fun swirls)

4.  Refrigerate until just before serving.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Salted Chocolate Caramel Cakeballs

This is what you make when you mess up cupcakes or when your cake sticks to the pan and completely falls apart when you are tring to take it out of the pan.  Or maybe you feel like making a dessert that allows you to play with your food first. Or maybe you want to start introducing baking to kids...these would be perfect.  Or maybe you just really want cake and frosting all in one handy bite.  No matter the reason these are a delicious slightly salty sweet treat. 

Last week I messed up cupcakes, life was invading my baking and distracted me.  It happens, your mind is not as focused as you want it to be on the task at hand.  Instead, work is walking around your kitchen counter, holding hands with the rest of life's dramas, happiness and worries. 

However, these cakeballs were a result of my mistake.  (Thank you for the inspiration Katie, your cakeballs were delicious.)  Does this mean some mistakes can be turned around, and with a little creativity and love something delicious and pretty can still happen?  With a little extra sweetness from frosting, some love from chocolate, a bit of a crunch from salt and viola you have salted chocolate caramel cakeballs.  Make them, share them, they will take your mind off the worry and drama life likes to serve up.     

Crumbled up leftover caramel cupcakes from the crème brûlée cupcakes

I used Duncan Hines butter cream frosting.

Frosting and cake mixed together.  Get in there.  Use your hands.  Be a kid and get sticky.  Its okay, really, I promise.

1 1/2 inch balls formed and then in to the refrigerator they go.

Double boiler slowly melting yummy semi sweet chocolate chips. 

I lightly sprinkled these with sea salt. Chocolate and caramel scream for some sea salt.

Salted Chocolate Caramel Cakeballs:
*makes approximately 20 cakeballs
8-10 caramel cupcakes, crumbled or 1-9inch layer cake
1 cup or 1/2 container store bought butter cream frosting
1-12oz bag semi sweet chocolate chips
sea salt for sprinkling

1.  In a large mixing bowl, using your hands, combine cake crumbles and frosting.

2.  Form in to 1 1/2 inch balls and place on cookie sheet or in a 13 x 9" cake pan. I used my cake pan because it has a lid.  Place in a refrigerator for approximately 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

3.  Using a double boiler, melt chocolate.

4.  Using either a fork or a skewer, dip hardened balls into chocolate until completely covered.  Place back on cookie sheet or pan and lightly sprinkle with sea salt.  Repeat this process until all cakeballs are covered in chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt.

5.  Place back in the refrigerator for approximately one hour or until hardened.  Remove from refrigerator 15 minutes before serving to allow to come to room temperature.  Serve and Enjoy!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Crème Brûlée Cupcakes

Happy Birthday Jarrett!  Another office birthday, which means another excuse for me to bake and try a new recipe.  Then again, I don't need to much of an excuse to bake something, lets get real here, I love baking. 

Well Jarrett said I could make whatever I felt like; whatever recipe I have been wanting to try.  His favorite dessert is crème brûlée, so I decided I would find a recipe for crème brûlée cupcakes.  However, you know how sometimes you get distracted while baking?  Well I did this time.  I completely overfilled my cupcake liners the first time around.  It was a disaster.  The cupcakes spread out all over my cupcake pan; they were not pretty.  There was just no way the cupcakes were going to stay together when scooping out the center for the filling. 

So what did I do, I started over.  I kept some of the ugly ones and threw some of them away.  But, later I had an idea, what do you do with ugly cupcakes?  You crumble the cupcakes up and make cakeballs! Recipe to come.  So, the second time around I learned when using a 1-inch cookie scoop, 2 scoops of cake batter make the perfect size cupcakes.  They come out light, moist and fluffy with just a hint of caramel.  The frosting is light, creamy and not too sweet, and toasting the top with a torch adds a nice crunch to the frosting.

Apparently I shop all over the place, the flour and sugar were from Harris Teeter, the eggs, caramel sauce and butter are from Trader Joe's, baking soda from Giant and vanilla extract from Costco.

Butter, sugar and egg yolks creamed together.

Folding egg whites in to the cake batter.

Egg whites, sugar and salt after being heated using a double boiler.

Cupcakes scooped out awaiting filling.

Cupcakes half covered with the brown sugar before being torched.

Crème Brûlée Cupcakes: (recipe from Bean Town Baker)
*makes approximately 22-26 cupcakes
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch for the egg whites
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, separated
1/4 cup water + 3/4 cup heavy cream 
3 tablespoons caramel sauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a cupcake pan with liners and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until well combined.

3.  Whisk in egg yolks and vanilla extract.

4.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

5.  Starting and ending with the dry ingredients, whisk the dry ingredients and heavy cream(+water) in to the butter-sugar mixture.

6.  Whisk the caramel sauce into the batter just until combined.

7.  In a small mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on high until peaks form.  Gently fold the egg whites in to the batter.

8.  Using a 1 inch cookie scoop, scoop two spoonfuls of batter in to each prepared cupcake liner (about 2/3 full).  Place cupcakes in the 350 degree F oven and then reduce heat to 325 for the reminder of baking.  Bake in the center of the oven for 18-20 minutes or until tester comes out clean.  Let cupcakes cool for two minutes in the pan and then remove from pan to finish cooling on a cooling rack.  Begin preparing butter cream frosting.

Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Butter Cream:
1 cup light brown sugar
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1.  Put sugar, egg whites and salt into the top of a double boiler over a pan of simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm.

2.  Using an electric mixer, beat egg white mixture on high speed until it forms stiff (but not dry) peaks.  Continue beating until fluffy and cooled, about 7 minutes total.

3.  With mixer on medium-low, add butter two tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Increase speed to medium-high; continue beating until frosting appears thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and continue beating 1 minute to reduce air bubbles.  Put in to a piping bag once cup cake centers have been removed.

4.  Remove the center of the cupcake by using a small knife and cutting into the cupcake in a circle.  You only need to cut in to about the middle of the cupcake.  (See picture above.)

5.  Pipe frosting into the center of the cupcake to fill and frost in one motion. (See picture above.)  Sprinkle top of cupcakes with light brown sugar.  Just before serving, using a kitchen torch, caramelize the frosting.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

If I were a Pancake, I would be a Carrot Cake Pancake

There is just something about pancakes that make me happy.  I mean you can make them in different shapes, hello mickey mouse pancakes.  They are like the cookie of breakfast; you can put a bunch of different things in them (chocolate chips, blueberries, nuts, oats, apples) and they taste great.  Bonus! You cover them in sugary sweet maple syrup!  Well I need to also admit something, I love making breakfast food, especially pancakes, french toast, waffles, bacon, quiche...yum.  I love making breakfast for other people; it makes me feel like I am making their day a bit little better if they can at least have a delicious breakfast. 

So pancakes, I could seriously be a carrot cake pancake if I could be a pancake.  What kind of pancake would you be is the question?

I love carrot cake, and the fact that these pancakes have 2 cups of shredded carrots and 1/4 cup of pecans in them, plus you could probably substitute apple sauce for the oil, make them slightly healthy pancakes.  And well I was home, and I felt like making my mom pancakes, and since I am technically supposed to be "training" for the running part of a triathlon, slightly healthy pancakes were in order.  These turn out light and fluffy, and make you feel all warm inside because of the spices used.  I can't wait to make them again this coming fall!

Batter.  I like to use a 1/4 or 1/3 cup measuring cup for scooping out pancake batter.

Waiting patiently to be flipped.  Square pans like this are my favorite for making pancakes and french toast if you don't have room to store a griddle.

Carrot Cake Pancakes: (recipe adapted from Cooking Light)
*makes approximately 14 small pancakes
1 1/4 all purpose flour 
1/4 cup chopped pecans
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Dash of all-spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup skim milk
1 tablespoon canola oil  (could substitute with 1 tablespoon of apple sauce)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten (or 1/2 cup egg beaters)
2 cups finely grated carrot
Cooking spray

1.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, pecans, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, all-spice and salt until well combined.

2.  In a small mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, milk, oil, vanilla extract and eggs.

3.  Pour wet ingredients in to dry ingredients just until combined.  Fold in grated carrots.

4.  Heat pan over medium heat until hot.  Spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Pour batter onto pan in the size pancake desired.  Cook for 2 minutes or until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Carefully turn pancakes over; cook 1 minute or until bottoms are lightly browned.  Enjoy!   If you can't eat all of them they will freeze well.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownie Bars

I've been on an adventure this week, from DC to NC, from the mountains to the beach.  This is the first week in a long time I haven't baked.  I did make carrot cake pancakes on Monday, that recipe is coming soon.   So...Part 1: I drove home by myself for the first time in a while; I left at 5:30 a.m. and was home by 10:00 a.m.  I have a problem with speeding...  If you are ever driving from Washington, DC to North Carolina, down that long stretch of 95 and you have a craving for a delicious fast food meal stop at the Chick-fil-a at exit 126.  The staff here are so nice! 

Part 2:  My mom had a surprise up her sleeve for my birthday.  On Monday morning I got in a car not knowing where we were going.  Where we ended up was in Hendersonville, NC at a Bed & Breakfast.  If you were a Gilmore Girls watcher think the episode that they went on a random trip and ended up staying at a B&B minus the strange activities and the cats room (The Waverly Inn).  The people were nice, the breakfast were delicious and the entire thing was very relaxing.  Let's just say things are slower in North Carolina, especially in the mountains, everyone isn't rushing about, running down escalators in order to not miss trains, switching lanes in and out of traffic.  People actually have time to sit around, listen to a little blue grass, square dance a bit and maybe even clog.  

On day two we went and explored Biltmore Estate.  We walked around the gardens, toured the house, had a delicious lunch and tasted some wines.  Day three we decided to head up to Blowing Rock to do a little shopping.  We took the Blue Ridge Parkway part of the way and it was beautiful.  Plus it was about 15 degrees cooler up in the mountains, than in Greensboro or DC.  The entire trip was just about relaxing! 

Part 3:  My dad and I drive to the Wilmington to spend three days sitting on the beach and once again just relaxing.  I may have gotten just a bit burnt and it might have been on my legs, you know sometimes you miss a spot or two.  Oops. 

So before I left on a week away from work, a week of relaxing, and with a bit of adventure, I made Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownie Bars.  What can I say, I wanted cookies, I wanted brownies.  I just couldn't make up my mind, so I made both.  They are gooey, they are chocolaty and they are Vegan!

Cookie Dough spread out evenly.

Brownie batter ready to go.


All baked!

Look at those layers...

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer:
1 cup Earth Balance, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup egg beaters, at room temperature
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1-12 oz bag semi sweet chocolate chips

Brownie Layer:
3/4 cup Earth Balance, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup egg beaters, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup strong coffee, at room temperature

Making the cookie dough:
1.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together Earth Balance and sugars.

2.  Whisk in the egg beaters and vanilla until well incorporated.

3.  In a separate mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.

4.  Mix dry ingredients in to the wet ingredients.  Fold in the chocolate chips and set aside

Making the brownie batter:
5.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 13 x 9 inch cake pan with non-stick cooking spray.

6.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together Earth Balance, sugar and cocoa powder.

7.  Mix in egg beaters and vanilla until well combined, set aside.

8.  In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and baking soda.

9.  Add the dry ingredients and coffee to the sugar mixture, alternating between dry ingredients and coffee, mixing between the addition of each.  Begin and end with the dry ingredients.  Do not over mix.

10.  Spread the cookie dough evenly in the bottom of the prepared cake pan.  Pour brownie batter on top of cookie dough.  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. 

11.  Let cool and enjoy!  These go great with vanilla ice cream!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Happy Thursday! Chocolate Chip Cookies 2 Ways

Happy Thursday!  Sometimes you just need a little help to get you through Thursday and on to the weekend.  I hope these cookies help.  Well yesterday was my 25th birthday, and I am only starting to feel old sometimes, like at work where we now have about 5 employees straight out of college and two years ago I was the youngest in the company.  Or those times where I really have to be an adult and make big girl decisions...

Any who, no one really wants to talk about getting older.  Instead lets talk about cookies.  A friend asked me the other week what my favorite thing to bake is.  My response was chocolate chips cookies, which is what inspired me to make these.  There is nothing like the smell of chocolate chips cookies baking in the oven, the anticipation of pulling them out of the oven, having to wait just a minute for them to cool before you can pull one apart and enjoy it with a glass of milk.  NOTHING beats a warm scratch made chocolate chip cookie.  And of course since I made these particular cookies two ways, I had to pour myself an extra large glass of milk so I could try both before taking them in to work.  I mean I had to make sure they were delicious... In cookie version 1, the coconut and oatmeal gave the cookies great texture and were still soft and delicious with just a hint of coconut.  The heath bar in cookie version 2 melted and these cookies came out chewy and soft just the way I like them.

Health bar chopped and ready to be added to dough.

Butter and sugars in the process of being creamed.


All of the dough with just chocolate chips. 


Then the dough is split among two bowls.  This one I added the coconut and oatmeal to.


Dough with heath bar added.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies 2 ways - Coconut-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies & Heath Bar Chocolate Chip Cookies: (recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa's chocolate chunk cookies recipe)
*makes approximately 20 cookies of each
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2-12 oz bag semi sweet chocolate chips (normal sized)
1/2-12 oz bag Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate chips (larger sized chips)

Cookie 1:
1 cup oatmeal, not quick cooking
3/4 cup unsweetened, flaked coconut.

Cookie 2:
2 heath bar candy bar, chopped

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugars.

3.  Whisk in the eggs and vanilla until well incorporated.

4.  In a separate mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.

5.  Mix dry ingredients in to the wet ingredients.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

6.  Divide the dough evenly between two mixing bowls.

7.  In one bowl, fold the chopped heath bar into the dough.  Place this dough in the refrigerator.

8.  In the second bowl, fold in the oatmeal and coconut. 

9.  Using a tablespoon or cookie scoop, drop dough onto a cookie sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart.  Bake for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown.

10.  Remove from oven and let cool on a cooling rack. 

11.  When finished with the coconut-oatmeal batch; repeat the process with the heath batch.  These cookies need to be placed further apart as the dough will spread more than the coconut-oatmeal cookies.

12. Enjoy!