Archive for July, 2010

July 22, 2010

Classic Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Go buy a bag of Nestle Chocolate Chips. Turn it over. Follow the directions for the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies.

That’s all.

But seriously. This is the recipe my mom and my step-dad always make. It’s a staple in our house. And you know, it’s just really good and classic and perfect for a crowd.

Okay I’m not going to lie. The real reason I am writing this post is to brag about these beautiful new expandable cooling racks I got. Yeah okay, I’m having a baker nerd-out right now. But seriously. I fit a whole batch of cookies on these and they slide right together for storage. Yay!

In case you are just a little too lazy to turn over that chocolate chip bag:

Nestle’s Choc-Oat-Chip Cookes

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional – no! not optional!!)
  • 1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional – we never use nuts)

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat brown sugar, butter and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs, milk and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats, morsels and nuts; mix well. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 10 minutes for chewy cookies or 12 to 13 minutes for crispy cookies. Cool on baking sheets for 1 minute; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

July 16, 2010

4th of July Rewind!

I’m trying real hard to catch up here… so just for a moment let your imagination run wild and rewind alll the way back to two weeks ago when you were watching fireworks and eating hot dogs – the 4th of July.

I had some fun company here, although my family was out of town, my big brother brought the troops up to escape the relentless Brooklyn heat. We had a big cookout and spent the day on the dock, soaking up the sun!

I, of course, was the self-appointed dessert master, and I decided to go traditional flag cake with a twist. My Aunt Jean ALWAYS made these cakes on the 4th of July when we were little – but it usually uses Cool Whip as frosting. I made a pretty kick-ass buttercream. Forget light and fluffy on a hot day- we wanted the real deal!

Just as a note, I found the cake a little dense… the taste was good but the texture was just not quite right. Don’t worry King Arthur, I still love you! Maybe I overmixed?? But can I just say again that the frosting was to die for?

Okay patriots, store this one away for next year and pull yourself back to the present. Thanks for bearing with me 🙂

4th of July Flag Cake

Using your favorite vanilla cake and frosting recipe, frost a 9×13 cake. Decorate with blueberries and sliced strawberries to represent a flag!

Vanilla Cake
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

* 2 cups sugar
* 3 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
* 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 3/4 cup unsalted butter, soft
* 1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 4 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour one 9″ x 13″ pan.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add the butter and beat with an electric mixer at low speed, until the mixture looks sandy.

Combine the milk and vanilla and add, all at once. Mix at low speed for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds. Scraping the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl.
With the mixer running at low speed, add 1 egg. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds. Repeat this procedure with the second egg. Continue adding the eggs, scraping after each addition, until all 4 are added. After the last egg is added, scrape the bowl once more, then beat at medium-high speed for 30 more seconds.

Pour batter into pan and bake for 40 minutes.

The cake is done when it’s golden brown around the edges and just beginning to pull away from the edge of the pan. A toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean. Cool before removing from pan.Ingredients

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Adapted from Wilton

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine softened
  • 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract (I used regular – it just makes for a slightly off white frosting)
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (approximately 1 lb.)
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Makes: About 3 cups of icing.

In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.

For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.

July 14, 2010

Berry Crumble Bars

I couldn’t think up a snazzy title for this post. I think its because these bars were good, but just nothing, well, snazzy. Don’t get me wrong, they were totally yummy. And perfect for a summery day. And they were gobbled right up. But they didn’t have that wow factor. I did use whole wheat flour (LOVE King Arthur!), which was kind of a nice flavor with the berries. Next time though, I would want a crunchier topping.

Plus my pictures kind of sucked this week, I must have been in a rush because they came out a little blurry. Bummer. I’m still learning about this whole food photography thing, so bear with me.

Or should I say “berry” with me? Ack lame joke, but…

Now those look good.

Berry Crumble Bars
Adapted from Chocolate Fool

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup cold butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Zest and juice of two lemon
  • 2 cups blueberries (I used all fresh fruit, and altered the ratio of fruit…more strawberries and blueberries!)
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 2 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9Ă—13 inch pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.
  3. In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. Sprinkle the fruit mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for an hour, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.
July 10, 2010

Strawberry Lemon Tarts!

Okay whats with all the citrus right? Lemon bars, key lime cupcakes, and now lemon tarts?

Sorry, it’s summer!! Also, aren’t these just to die for? I was pretty thrilled about how adorable they came out. They were pretty runny though… this was my first stab at lemon curd and I think it needed to thicken up a lot more before I took it off the heat. But it was so good. Lick-the-whole-bowl-and-every-single-spoon-and-even-the-whisk good.

A few funny anecdotes on this particular baking adventure: First, I put the tart shells in the oven with no timer and just forgot they were in there. Somehow I salvaged them before they were burned to a crisp, but they a bit crunchier than I would have liked. Oops! Also, the first time around on the strawberry coulis, I added 1/8 CUP cornstarch instead of 1/8 TEASPOON. My coulis literally tasted like cornstarch. So I had to do that over. I also had a liiiitle spillage since I wasn’t using nice fluted mini tart pans, but just my regular old cupcake tins.

Strawberry Lemon Tarts
Adapted from Chocolate Fool

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry (from Donna Hay’s Modern Classics 2) – makes about 12 mini tarts

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp superfine caster sugar (I put regular sugar in a nut blender for a few seconds)
  • 5 oz cold butter, chopped
  • 2 -3  tbsp iced water
  1. Pulse together the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor until mixture looks like fine bread crumbs.
  2. While motor is running, add enough iced water to form a smooth dough, and process until just combined.
  3. Knead dough lightly, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350F.
  5. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface until 1/8 inch thick. Cut out circles to fit the tart tin(s) and press down, making sure to make them look pretty =)
  6. Place parchment paper over the crust, and fill with baking weights/uncooked rice/dried beans and bake blind for 10 minutes. Remove the weights, and bake for another 10 minutes, or until pastry is golden. (I placed cupcake liners on TOP of my crusts and fill them with old lentils)

Strawberry Coulis

  • 1 cup strawberries, cut up in small pieces ( make sure to reserve some slices for decorations!)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cornstarch for thickening
  1. Melt butter and sugar in a pot until syrupy, but not browned.
  2. Add in strawberries and continue simmering for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Using an immersion blender, give the berries a good whirl until smooth.
  4. Dissolve cornstarch in some cold water, and mix it in with the strawberry sauce. Return to heat and cook until it starts to thicken.
  5. Pour into bowl and refrigerate until you’re ready for assembly.

Lemon Curd (adapted from Sophistimom)

  • zest of 3 lemons
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • juice of 3 lemons (about 1/2 cup)
  • pinch of salt
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together zest, butter, and sugar.
  2. Incorporate eggs one at a time and mix until smooth.
  3. Add in lemon juice and salt.  Mixture will be curdled.
  4. Pour mixture into a large saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes.  Lemon curd will come together and thicken.
  5. When it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, remove from heat.  Strain into a glass bowl and allow to cool.  Refrigerate or freeze until you need it.

Final Assembly

  1. Spoon  a teaspoon-full of strawberry coulis into bottom of each tart shell. Top with a tablespoon of lemon curd.
  2. Top each tart with a slice of the reserved strawberries and your chocolate decorations. Let refrigerate for another hour so that curd will set.
July 10, 2010

A day for Key Lime Cupcakes

That day was Wednesday, July 7th.  I came across the recipe as I perused my Google Reader full of amazing food blogs, and couldn’t get them off of my mind all day. I even went so far as to write about them in my facebook status. Yup, I went there.

There is something about that tart lime flavor that is so appealing on a hot sticky summer day. And there is something about cupcakes that is just appealing…well…all the time.

As for the actual recipe, I really wished the cupcake had a tarter flavor. The whole ensemble was missing a little zing, and I think maybe I skimped on the lime zest and juice. The frosting was absolutely amazing though! I took the little lime garnish and squeezed it onto the inside of my cupcake and it was a PERFECT mixture of sweet and sour. I would suggest being careful to add the full amount of flavoring to these and don’t be afraid to toss in some extra!!

And come on. They LOOK like summer.

Key Lime Cupcakes
adapted from Three Many Cooks

Makes 1 dozen

2 sticks (16 tablespoons) softened butter, divided
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest, divided, and 1 tablespoon lime juice (OR MORE!!!)
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour (or whisk 11/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt into 1 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup condensed milk
1/ 2 cup confectioner’s sugar

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake papers. Beat butter, sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons lime zest until light and fluffy. Starting and ending with an egg, alternate beating in eggs and flour until each is thoroughly incorporated. Beat in lime juice and vanilla until just incorporated. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from oven, let cupcakes stand a couple of minutes; turn onto a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, beat remaining 4 tablespoons butter, 1 1/2 teaspoons zest, and the cream cheese until smooth; beat in condensed milk and sugar. Frost and serve.

Garnish cupcakes, if you like, with graham cracker crumbs. If using graham crackers, you’ll only need about 1 whole cracker. Also a little wedge of lime for show doesn’t hurt.