Thursday, November 26, 2009

Peanut Butter Brownie Cookies

yes, they do look sort of like poo... but these are the most delicious poo-looking confections i've ever eaten, let alone made! i had been wanting to try them for a while after i first saw the recipe on the jif site. but wait, i hear you saying, isn't jif peanut butter? those look chocolatey delicious but i don't see any peanut butter...

or, for a clearer, professional picture:

haha, fooled you! the peanut butter is on the inside, my friends, in between the fudgey chocolate cookie and the fudgey chocolate frosting. i told you, delicious.

these are officially called "peanut butter brownie cookies," as they are made from a brownie mix. you can get the exact recipe and proportions from the linked recipe site. so then, let's get down to it:

for the cookie part, mix brownie mix, butter, cream cheese, and egg, then drop onto a cookie sheet. i HIGHLY recommend putting them on parchment, as they are very sticky little suckers.

or, on a cookie mat, like silpat. i recently bought a wilton silicone baking mat, pictured below (it's blue). but i'm not all that crazy about it. maybe i just haven't used it enough. in fact, i think i've only used it once.

next, mix the peanut butter (i prefer chunky, always) with powdered sugar and drop dollops onto the sticky brownie dough, like so:

bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees, and let cool thoroughly. this is what they'll look like post-baking:

they must be cool, because the next step is to cover them with canned fudge frosting (my frosting also had little chocolate chips in it)... i'm drooling just thinking about this.

the cookies were so tender and chewy... just like you'd imagine a brownie-cum-cookie would be.

now, i baked these and ate them over the course of a few days, so i didn't frost them all right away. i just put them in a container and frosted as needed. my roommate, however, did not know that you were supposed to frost them and ate them sans-frosting, and thought they were yummy as well.

but really, why would you ever skip frosting?

so these cookies were uber delicious. delectable. mouthwatering. tasty. you can read the thesaurus entries yourself.

however, because the dough was so sticky and a hassle to work with, and because you had to do three steps (cookie, peanut butter, frosting), i probably won't be making these again any time soon. but if you want to make them for me, i will gladly eat them.

Flour Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

yes, i'm still alive! law school does tend to eat one's soul... er, i mean, time. i have managed to bake a few things in the past few months, but not to blog about them. so here's to catching up!

i made these flour-free peanut butter cookies, a variation on another recipe i'd tried before. the old recipe was just 1 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of sugar, 1 egg. bake for 8 minutes at 350 degrees. that's it. super easy, and pretty tasty too.

this time, i tried one that looked more like a regular cookie recipe, from
  • 2 cups peanut butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
mix, drop onto cookie sheet, bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. still super easy.

these are good for those who want to cut out wheat products, but they're still not quite the same. the sugar doesn't dissolve very well in the peanut butter or something, and i don't think the baking soda adds any lift to these, so i'd just as soon leave it out.

but, as you can see, these cookies were not left alone. what can make mediocre cookies delicious? chocolate ganache! i am a huge fan of ganache.

  • i think this was one part cream to one part semi-sweet chocolate chips.
  • heat the cream slowly, i prefer on low power in the microwave in a pyrex measuring cup.
  • then pour over the chocolate and stir. ta-da! ganache!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mod Podge Giveaway!

one of my favorite blogs, modpodgerocks, is giving away a trial pack of mod podge... check her out and enter, and get inspired by her blog. i know i am!

p.s. i know i haven't posted in a while... i've been ridiculously busy with school, and my camera broke. i got a new camera but haven't had time to post about my baking adventures. hope i can post soon.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Cookbook in Action

i finally made some cookies from my new favorite cookbook, and they were delicious.

first up, sugared almond cookies. i made these at the request of my mother, who isn't such a big fan of chocolate but loves nuts and poppyseeds.

they're sort of a shortbread-y cookie, with almonds and poppy seeds. after making the dough, you form it into rolls in saran wrap and refrigerate it.

then you slice the dough, brush on some beaten egg, and sprinkle with sugar. the dough isn't that sweet, so the sugar is mandatory.

i ended up using a mixture of regular white sugar and sparkle sugar (which, of course, makes everything better).

perfect for tea and coffee!

next, crinkle top cookies. these are a nice, lightly chocolaty cookie, crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. just like i like 'em.

they've got extra leavening (in this case, baking soda), so they puff up quickly then collapse, hence the crinkliness. again, quite tasty, and you know i love me some chocolate!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Giveaway: Win $75 Gift from All Modern

one of my favorite craft blogs is dollar store crafts, and now they're giving away a gift certificate to all modern! i'm so excited... i hope i win!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cookie Filled Cupcakes

they look like normal, unassuming cupcakes.
but they have a surprise inside them...

cookie dough!

these are so simple, and so decadent. just make your cupcakes as normal, but put a bit of frozen cookie dough in the batter before you bake them, like so:

you must freeze the cookie dough, at least 2 hours, or else the dough will bake and you'll have an odd crispy mess in the middle instead of a bit of cookie dough.

i'm not gonna lie, i used a chocolate cake mix for these and frozen break-n-bake cookie dough. i broke my own rule and used off-brand cake mix, and i paid the price for it. the cake part wasn't that great, sort of dry, but the cookie dough more than made up for it.

and i topped these with a ganache made with one part (1/2 cup) cream and two parts (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips. at first, i was thinking i should have used milk chocolate, but the semisweet was perfect. the cupcakes were quite sweet, so the semisweet ganache added a good contrast in sweetness and texture.

i was inspired by recipes on and this is an easy recipe that is easily adaptable, and the possibilities are endless! i had some more break-n-bake dough so i made more cupcakes with yellow cake mix (name brand this time) and ganache topping... so good. just imagine the flavor combinations with this cake, cookie, and frosting/topping combination!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Lemon Cupcakes

mmm.... lemon cupcakes... cue the mouth-watering. i decided to make these as a thank you for somebody who let me swim in his pool while he was at work. i wanted something summery, a bit light, and not too decadent. these fit the bill! and boy, was it easy. how easy was it? well, i'll tell ya.

to make these cupcakes, you'll need:
  • 1 box yellow (or white, i guess) cake mix, plus whatever it calls for on the box
  • 1 box instant lemon pudding
  • lemon buttercream frosting (more on that later)
that's it! just add the lemon pudding mix to the cake mix and then prepare the cake as directed. i guess you could just use a lemon cake mix, but i think this method makes a better cupcake. they're a bit dense and extremely moist. and, i think the lemon flavor would be too overwhelming with a lemon cake mix when you combine it with the lemon buttercream frosting (i promise, it's coming).

the batter will be quite thick, but don't worry. it's fine. here's the batter in the cups. see how it isn't settling down:

and when they come out, they fall a little bit, so this recipe probably isn't good for a full sized cake.

but it's great for cupcakes- more frosting! i sort of 'spackled' the dips with frosting to make a flat (ok, slightly rounded) surface to pipe on.

here they are all piped up.

so, what did i frost these puppies with? quite possibly the crown jewel of this whole project: lemon buttercream frosting.

i took this simple buttercream frosting (that i've used before) and added lemon juice. at first, i just added it after the sugar, substituting 2 tbsp lemon juice for the 2 tbsp milk, but the frosting was a little dry. so i added the 2 tbsp milk as well, and it was perfect!
but a word of caution: lemon will curdle milk if they're added together, so make sure you mix in the milk or lemon juice completely before you add the other one, otherwise you might get some nasty results.

you could just use canned buttercream or white frosting, but really, this lemon buttercream frosting really makes these cupcakes shine. my mom said these are her favorite cupcakes of mine so far, largely due to the frosting. so, make the darn frosting!

so, here's some of the cupcake carnage.

it's so good!

Friday, July 31, 2009

New Cookbook!

i just got the best bake sale ever cookbook at half price books! it has a ton of cookie recipes, but also has recipes for (according to the chapter headings) bars and brownies, breads and coffee cakes, cupcakes, rolls, and muffins, cakes, pies, and more. it even has tips on how to organize and run a successful bake sale.

i just flipped through the first few cookie recipes, and i wanted to make every single one of them. i can't wait to get crackin'!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

International Goodies

to celebrate my membership in the george washington international law review, i decided to make an international treat. i was thinking about some sort of ethnic cookie, but i really wanted to do something russian, and they're not big on cookies. then, i remembered something my host mom made for me all the time when i studied abroad: oladi!

"what the heck is oladi?" i hear you asking. well, it's in the pancake family. it's like a small, thick, lightly leavened blini, and a blini is like a crepe. oladi, like much russian cuisine, are an inexact science... more of an art, i suppose. you mess around with it, get the hang of it, and after a few failures, it just clicks and you get it. in fact, there's a russian saying, "the first blini is always a lump," (по-русски: "первый блин всегда комом") meaning practice makes perfect, or if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

so, away we go. ingredients (based on this recipe):
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups (1 pint, or .5 liter) unflavored unsweetened kefir, available at a whole foods or wegman's type store; you can also use buttermilk or plain yogurt if you don't have kefir. you could even dilute some sour cream with milk... any sort of thick/fermented milk product will do.
  • 4 tbsp sugar (or more if you want sweeter, more desserty oladi)
  • pinch of salt
  • 10 tbsp flour, to start
  • 1 tsp baking soda, plus some vinegar
in a medium to large bowl, whisk together the kefir, egg, sugar and salt, just until blended. don't use a mixer! a fork works well.

next, whisk in the flour. you want it to be the consistency of thin sour cream. if it's too thin, add more flour by the tablespoon, whisking after each addition. i think i ended up having like 15 tablespoons or something in my batter. but start with 10: you can always add an ingredient, but you can't take it out.

now, at this point the original recipe said put a teaspoon of soda into a tablespoon, fill the tablespoon with vinegar, and mix into the batter. but i think if you just pour the soda into the batter, and before you mix it in, pour on 2 teaspoons of vinegar, and then mix it in. you're just trying to get some leavening in there. other recipes call for yeast, but this is easier. especially since i usually don't keep yeast around.

here's what my final batter looked like:

to cook these bad boys up, heat 5-6 tablespoons in a heavy skillet (i used our cast iron one, i think), over medium heat. the amount of oil is approximate; you just need enough to cover the bottom of the skillet, because you'll be frying these.

once the oil is hot, use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to ladle the batter into the pan. you want them to be about 2-3 inches in diameter, and you can do a few at a time, like so:

(sorry for the bad lighting- i was concentrating on not burning them or getting splattered with hot oil. no time to check the flash.)

fry them for about 2 minutes, then flip and fry on the other side for two minutes. make sure you have enough oil in the pan after each batch. these guys soak up a lot of it, so you'll most likely need to add more to make sure the bottom of the pan is covered.

i guarantee you'll burn your first one, so just get it out of the way so you can go on to rock the oladi. see, here's what they're supposed to look like (from

and here's my first batch:

pretty bad, i know. (actually, the burnt-ness doesn't mar the taste too terribly bad. they're still edible, just not as good as they should be.)
but, here's how some the rest turned out (most had been gobbled up by this point):

and here's a close up of the one with jam on it:

pretty darn good. serve them with sour cream and jam (cherry preferably, but raspberry or strawberry is good too). we were out of sour cream, so we just put jam on them, like the one on top. you could also serve them with something savory if you wished, and they'd make a good side dish to eggs and bacon. as you can see, they're generally a breakfast thing, but are fabulous as a dessert too.

cheers, to international law review and international treats!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Black(berry) Bottom Cupcakes

time for a delightful summertime desset- blackberry bottom cupcakes! i used livinglocurto's fresh blackberry cake recipe (she has a printable recipe there) and modified it a little and made cupcakes... and they were so delicious.

the texture of the cake was a little muffin-y, not as fine as regular cake, and not too terribly sweet, but the buttercream frosting definitely brought it into the cake realm. the cake has two tablespoons of lemon pudding mix in it, so that lightens and freshens the flavor up with just that hint of lemon, giving it another taste dimension.

my edits: i didn't have self-rising flour, but no problem. to make self-rising flour, you just add 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt for each cup of all purpose flour. and, i'll even do the math for you- 4 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 1/2 tsp salt and 3 c. all purpose flour for this recipe.
also, i used frozen blackberries instead of fresh, because i'm cheap, but i otherwise followed her recipe.

so, here we go. ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 cups frozen blackberries (about 1-16 oz package), thawed and drained and blotted
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar (split)
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • 3 cups all purpose flour, mixed with 4 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon instant pudding mix (you can make pudding later with the rest of the mix and 1 3/4 c milk)
  • 1 cup of milk
-defrost, drain, and blot the blackberries. sprinkle with 1/4 c. sugar and a pinch cinnamon. set aside.
-preheat oven to 350. line as many cupcake tins as you have with cupcake papers (this recipe makes about 42 cupcakes, so you'll do several batches).
-mix together flour, powder, salt, and pudding mix. set aside.
-beat butter with a mixer until fluffy, then add the 2 c. sugar and vanilla and beat well.
-add eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition.
-add dry ingredients about 1 cup at a time, alternating with milk, and beating after each addition of dry or milk.
-put about 2-4 berries in each cupcake paper, then cover with a scoop of batter, filling about 1/2 to 2/3 full, like this:

-bake about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. it's ok if it comes out with blackberry juice on it, just as long as it doesn't have cake batter on it. this is what they'll look like, hopefully.

the blackberries sort of leak through the papers and leave some juice in the pan, so you should wipe it out with a damp paper towel before moving onto the next batch. be careful when you're eating the final product as well, lest you have sticky blue fingers!

-let cool completely, preferably on a wire rack, then frost with buttercream frosting. the recipe i used is below, but i am certainly not one to judge you if you use a canned buttercream frosting. nobody will notice, especially since you put so much effort into the cake part!

so, if you're inclined to make your own buttercream frosting, here's a really simple recipe from that makes for a really fabulous frosting.

-1/2 cup shortening
-1/2 cup butter, softened
-1 tsp vanilla (i added a little extra splash, because i like vanilla)
-4 cups powdered sugar (that's about 1 lb, so you can use just one box or half a 2 lb bag or something)
-2 tbsp milk

beat together the shortening and butter until smooth.
add the vanilla and beat until incorporated.
add the sugar, about one cup at a time, incorporating well after each addition.
after all the sugar is in, or with the last 1 cup addition, add the 2 tablespoons of milk.
that's it! spread it on or pipe it if you want to be extra fancy. it's fairly stiff, so it lends itself well to piping.

here's a piped batch, ready to be shared with co-workers.

needless to say, these made me an office baking legend.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Maple Peach Apple Crumble

another adventure in crumble! also another adventure in, "what the heck am i going to make with these ingredients?"

i bought some peaches meaning to grill them, and then i decided that i didn't want to go through the hassle. so instead i chopped them up and put them into a pan and tossed them in a little cinnamon and sugar (a tablespoon or so). there weren't enough peaches to fill out the 8x8 pan, so i chopped up an apple to add to the mix, again tossing to coat with some sugar and cinnamon.

then, the glorious topping... i used a packet of maple brown sugar instant oatmeal, about 1/4 cup all purpose flour, probably about 1/2 cup brown sugar, about a half a stick of cold butter, with a pinch of salt and a dash of cinnamon. then, i cut it together with a pastry cutter (a fork would also work). i think i ended up adding some more butter and brown sugar, and a bit of flour, because i wanted a lot of crumble. like i've said before, that's the best part anyway.

i threw that sucker in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until the topping was crispy and nothing (i.e. apples) was too firm when i stuck a fork in it. really, nothing in this needs to be cooked--you could just eat it raw and be a-ok--it just tastes better warm. so, if you don't cook it enough, it's really no big deal. or, if you take a bite and it's not cooked to your liking, just put it back in for ten minutes or so.

here's a side view, after it came out of the oven. it's pretty shallow, but you can sort of see that there's quite a bit more crumble than fruit, or at least equal parts.

fruity crumbles like this are a shoot from the hip, or fly by the seat of your pants, kind of dessert (you can pick your own idiom there). no real chemical reactions need to happen, like leavening in cakes, so you don't have to worry about proportions too much. nothing needs to be cooked, like eggs in cookies (although i eat raw cookie dough all the time), so you don't have to worry too much about bake times. and most of the flavors are in the fruit, so you don't need to really add anything. and, if you screw up, you can fix it along the way. you can always sprinkle on some more sugar or bake it a little longer.

in short, i'm a fan of making fruit crumbles. easy and delicious! here's the damage done after one evening- about half gone... because it was so tasty!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Gourmet (Looking) Blueberry Muffins

my parents go to a small church with only the main worship service (no sunday school or anything), and it gets out pretty early, at around 10am. so we usually go to breakfast afterwards. well, one sunday, we went to mimi's cafe, and i ordered a meal that had a blueberry muffin with it. i was so full from everything else that i couldn't eat the muffin, but it looked so good that i wanted to save it for later... but my parents wanted it right then! when i protested, my mom said, "why don't we just make some blueberry muffins today?" i acquiesced, and she ate part of my muffin.

so, after we left the restaurant, we went to the grocery store and bought a blueberry muffin mix. i wanted to get some additional fresh blueberries to put in there, but instead we just got a mix that boasted having a can of real blueberries (betty crocker, i think), which was enough for me.

when we got home, i made the muffins. i followed the directions on the box and everything. but, you know me, i can't leave well enough alone when it comes to cake mixes. so i made a crumble topping and put a generous amount of that on the muffins, and also topped them with sparkle sugar!

the muffins baked up so nice and golden brown, and a little crunchy with the sugar and the crumble. oh man, were they good!

they looked so gourmet and special, and they tasted delicious! i was so impressed with those muffins, even more than i usually am.

so, here's the "recipe:"
  • make the muffin mix: this is pretty self-explanatory--get a mix and follow the directions. fill the muffin tin cups only about halfway, to leave room for the crumble, which is really the best part anyway.
  • make the crumble topping: crumble topping is an inexact process, but here's a good starting point: 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 packed brown sugar, 1/2 stick cold butter (you want a crumble, not a dough), and a splash of cinnamon (optional) and a pinch of salt (also optional). pulse in a food processor. or if you don't have one, like me, use a fork or a pastry cutter to sort of mash the butter and the sugar together. if you think it needs more sugar or butter, add it. you can also add some oatmeal instead of some of the flour, or in addition. like i said, crumble topping is quite imprecise. just do it until it tastes good.
  • spoon the crumble into the muffin cups. be liberal! like i said, the crumble topping is really the best part anyway.
  • sprinkle each muffin with a pinch or two of sparkle sugar.
  • bake as directed on the muffin mix, maybe a little longer to crisp up the crumble topping.
  • voy-ola! gourmet muffins that nobody will ever know came from a mix!

Patriotic Cupcakes

(picture from the salty cod)

what's more patriotic and american than apple pie? the answer is simple: cupcakes.

cupcakes came about in the 1800's in america, making them another great american invention. the name comes both from the small proportions--the original ones were baked in earthenware cups and such--and from their proportions, measured in cups. the original cupcake recipe is 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, 4 eggs. and, this was a big switch from weighing ingredients to measuring them by volume, using the anglo-american 'cup' instead of the metric system. this switch made them easier for the everyman (well, everywoman really) to make, as did the cupcake's diminutive size, because big cakes often took a really long time to cook over a hearth and often burned, but those problems were reduced with cupcakes. (thanks to food timeline and cupcakes take the cake for the history!)

alright, enough with the history lesson, let's get to the baked goods! i made some patriotic cupcakes for the fourth of july (which i fully realize was a good two weeks ago). first, i made some delicious red velvet cake cupcakes (yes, from a mix), and piped on some (canned) cream cheese frosting, and topped with blue sugar for a patriotic flair--red cake, white frosting, and blue sugar!

then, i made some red, white, and blue cupcakes--the batter itself was red, white, and blue! i divided the white cake batter (again, mine's from a box) and dyed one part red and one part blue (BIG NEWS: i got wilton gel colors! so now my stuff will be nice and bright, not like the weak colors i had on my cupcake burgers). so, i saw this on chica and jo and knew i had to make them. only mine weren't as swirl-y as chica and jo's, but they still looked awesome. and the patriotic cupcake wrappers didn't hurt...

and i frosted mine with (canned) chocolate cream cheese frosting, because i have a penchant for chocolate. i wanted to pipe it on and make it look all spiffy... but after i piped a few, the frosting started melting and sliding off. so after i frantically yelled for my mom to come help me, i scraped all the frosting off and just spread it on with a butter knife. but they still needed a little something extra... so i put sparkle sugar on them, and that did it! i love sparkle sugar... that stuff makes anything better.

here are some of the cupcakes, ready to be transported to work. since i made two different kinds of cupcakes, i had a ton left over after our little independence day cookout, and my coworkers were glad for it!

P.S. why no red, white, and blue sprinkles, you ask? because i scoured every wal-mart, target, michael's, market street, tom thumb, kroger, and party city within a 20 minute drive of my house, and there were none to be had! i find that quite odd, but it's alright. my cupcakes turned out cute anyway, even if they would have been cuter with some darned sprinkles!