Archive for March, 2010

March 19, 2010

The almost-vegan M&M cookie pie

Okay so this was delicious. But also made me and my brother feel kind of sick every time we ate it. Not sure what that means.

Here’s the story behind these guys. My step-mom comes downstairs and says “I have all these M&Ms and no time. Make something.” I get out a bowl and start mixing. Oh no! No eggs. Enter flax seed and milk as substitutes. Vegan? Oh yeah. M&Ms. Not really vegan. Finish mixing, enter pan into oven. Impatience ensues. Results in slightly undercooked M&M Cookie Wedges. That are quite delicious, despite lack of eggs and solid consistency. Flax seeds contribute slightly nutty flavor. Delicious with ice cream. Slight belly aches due to over consumption. Worth it.

Almost-vegan M&M cookie pie
Adapted from Nestle Toll House


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs (for flax seed and other egg substitutes, check this out)
  • 2 cups M&Ms
PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs (or flax seed mixture), one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in m&ms. Spread into greased pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars.

March 16, 2010

If a brownie and a cookie had a baby…

It would look like this.

And taste like this.

These were delicious. I don’t have much else to say besides: make them, don’t over cook them, and love them.

Chocolate Brownie Cookies
adapted from King Arthur Flour via Joy the Baker

yields 26 cookies without chips, 30 cookies with chips

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (chopped or in chips) (I used semi-sweet)

3 Tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) butter

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon espresso powder (I left this out)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoons salt

1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

In a double boiler, or in the microwave, gently melt together the chocolate and butter.  To avoid heating the chocolate too much and possibly burning it, the best method is to heat till the butter is melted and the chocolate has partially melted, then remove from the heat.  Stir till all the chocolate melts.

In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar and eggs till they’re thoroughly combined.  You don’t need a mixer, just do it in a medium sized bowl with a wooden spoon.   Add the hot melted chocolate, then stir in the remaining ingredients, including the chocolate chips, if you’re using them.  Refrigerate the batter like dough for 1 hour, to make it easier to handle.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets, three if you have them.

Drop the cookie dough by the tablespoonfuls (about the size of a small ping pong ball) onto the prepared baking sheets.  A tablespoon cookie scoop makes this task extremely simple.  Leave about 2″ between the dough balls, as they’ll spread as they bake.

Bake the cookies for 11 to 12 minutes, until their tops are shiny and cracked.  They won’t crack until the very end, so keep a close eye on them; when they’re cracked all the way across the top surface, they’re done.  The point is, you want these baked all the way through, but just barely; additional baking makes them more crisp rather than chewy.  Remove the cookies from the oven, and top each with a kiss-shaped chocolate, a bittersweet chocolate wafer, or a chocolate covered sunflower seed.  Wait 5 minutes then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.

March 14, 2010

Stop, Rewind, Caramel Time.

Guys. I have been a horrible blogster. I have hoards of pictures left over from my WINTER BREAK that I just have not gotten around to posting! It is a terrible thing and I am so very sorry. The plan had been to bake my brains out and have lots of material to keep my little blog going during the semester! But now its spring break and I am going to attempt to play a little bit of catch up here.

So why not start off with a little humor? We last left off with some delicious chocolate flourless cake in Chi-town with my dear friend Jeremy. Now I would like to take you to the suburbs beyond the Windy City to my cousin Aubrie’s house, where we dabbled in a bit of Chocolate Caramel Tart. I’m going to be blunt here. We failed. We failed spectacularly.

We carefully shopped for our ingredients and whipped up the chocolate crust easily, although it was a bit dry. Then we tried to make the caramel. Twice. The first time, we didn’t let it cook long enough for fear of burning it. Ending up with sort of a pale generally sugary watery goo, we dumped it all away and tried again. We felt pretty successful.. the caramel had a somewhat more viscous consistency that looked much more golden than before. We poured it into our baked crust and tried to let it set. It didn’t. We barreled ahead and added the layer of chocolate ganache, which proceeded to set on TOP of the unset caramel.

We were eager to eat our creation, so we tried to speed-set the darn thing outside in the January snow, but nothing doing. Finally we gave up and cut into it and released a river of sticky, overly sweet caramel into the pan. The tart barely even attempted to hold its shape… the chocolate ganache migrated like a glacier until it wasnt even on top of the crust.  We tried to eat some, and we all ended up just feeling horribly sick.

So we failed at the dessert part. But we sure had a lot of laughs, and maybe a few swear words, and a lot of good old fashioned cousin bonding 🙂

Unfortunately, I only got pictures from before we cut into it, so I don’t have the actual disaster documented! Also, we didn’t have enough heavy cream or any creme fraiche, so we made some interesting substitutions… but here is the just the unaltered recipe below…. hopefully you have more luck if you try this!

Chocolate Caramel Tart
adapted from Lottie + Doof (whose pictures look delicious and succesful!!!)

For the Chocolate Tart Dough

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

For the Caramel Filling

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche

For the Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 1/2 ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Make the tart dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar until combined, about 1 minute. Add egg yolk and vanilla, and beat until smooth. Sift in flour and cocoa powder, and beat on low speed until just combined. Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and form it into a disk; wrap well. Chill until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 325° F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the tart dough into a large circle 3/16 inch thick. Transfer the tart dough to a 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and press into pan. If it falls apart at all just push it back together in the pan. Chill the tart shell in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Prick the shell all over with a fork.  Line with parchment paper filled with pie weights or dried beans and blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove the parchment and weights, and bake until the pastry looks dry and set, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool. (The tart shell can be made 8 hours ahead.)

Make the filling: Place 1/2 cup water in a large saucepan. Add sugar and corn syrup, and cook mixture over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until it becomes a dark-amber caramel (I removed it when it was sort of a medium amber since I knew it would continue to cook off heat), about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and carefully (the mixture will bubble up) and slowly add the heavy cream followed by the butter and crème fraîche. Stir until smooth. (The caramel can be made up to 5 days ahead and refrigerated in a covered container.) Pour the caramel into the cooled tart shell and allow to set, first at room temperature and then in the regrigerator.

Make the ganache glaze: Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and let stand for 2 minutes, then stir with a rubber spatula until smooth. Pour the ganazhe over the tart. Refrigerate until set.

Remove the tart from the refridgerator 5-10 minutes before you are ready to serve it. Cut the tart into slices and sprinkle each with Fleur de Sel.