Saturday, May 21, 2011

Brownie Chunk Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was scrolling through my reader yesterday when I saw this recipe from Picky Palate. I didn’t have a pan of leftover brownies, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from making these cookies. I immediately went into the kitchen and threw a box of brownie mix into the oven.

I let them cool, and started making the dough. As I put the brownie chunks into the bowl and they started to disintegrate into the cookie dough, I realized that I should have made the cake-like brownies, instead of the fudge brownies. Note to self: Make sturdier brownies for these cookies, because the cookies that have an actual chunk of brownie are the best.

I’m kind of into the salty-sweet combo lately, so when I saw that the recipe only called for a ½ tsp of salt, I decided to up it to 1 tsp. I’m really glad I did. The saltiness came through perfectly, and I thought these were a fun variation on chocolate chip cookies.

Brownie Chunk and Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Picky Palate

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup chocolate chips
2 cups cubed prepared brownies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment or silpat liner.

Place butter and sugars into the bowl of a stand or electric mixer, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until well combined.

Place flour, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl, mixing to combine. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips and brownie chunks until just combined.

Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop dough onto prepared baking sheet about 1-inch apart. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes until cooked through. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Makes 3 dozen cookies

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

The day before Mother’s Day, I told my husband that I wanted to make my own breakfast for Mother’s Day (don’t worry, I made it Saturday night so I wasn’t slaving away on the actual day). He thought that was a pretty awesome idea, and my daughter thought it was pretty neat that we got to have cake for breakfast.

I found this recipe in my email from America’s Test Kitchen, and as anyone could predict, I was immediately drawn to this recipe. Cream cheese in sweetened form? Um, yes.

This cake was extremely moist and dense, and the cream cheese swirl was delicious. I loved the hint of lemon that was both in the cream cheese swirl, and the sugar-almond topping. My swirl was less than pretty, but I’m sure with practice it’ll get better. Because I do plan on making this again. And again. And again.

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
From Cooks' Illustrated
Printer Friendly Version

Makes one 10-inch cake, serving 12 to 16

Lemon Sugar-Almond Topping
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated zest from 1 lemon
1/2 cup sliced almonds

2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/8 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 cup plus 7 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated zest plus 4 teaspoons juice from 1 to 2 lemons
4 large eggs
5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sour cream
8 ounces cream cheese, softened

FOR THE TOPPING: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined and sugar is moistened. Stir in almonds; set aside.

FOR THE CAKE: Spray 10-inch tube pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside. In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, and lemon zest at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, about 20 seconds, and scraping down beater and sides of bowl as necessary. Add 4 teaspoons vanilla and mix to combine. Reduce speed to low and add one-third flour mixture, followed by half of sour cream, mixing until incorporated after each addition, 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat, using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining sour cream. Scrape bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour.

Reserve 1¼ cups batter and set aside. Spoon remaining batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Return now-empty bowl to mixer and beat cream cheese, remaining 5 tablespoons sugar, lemon juice, and remaining teaspoon vanilla on medium speed until smooth and slightly lightened, about 1 minute. Add ¼ cup reserved batter and mix until incorporated. Spoon cheese filling mixture evenly over batter, keeping filling about 1 inch from edges of pan; smooth top. Spread remaining cup reserved batter over filling and smooth top. With butter knife or offset spatula, gently swirl filling into batter using figure-8 motion, being careful to not drag filling to bottom or edges of pan. Firmly tap pan on counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any bubbles. Sprinkle lemon sugar-almond topping evenly over batter and gently press into batter to adhere.

Bake until top is golden and just firm, and long skewer inserted into cake comes out clean (skewer will be wet if inserted into cheese filling), 45 to 50 minutes. Remove pan from oven and firmly tap on counter 2 or 3 times (top of cake may sink slightly). Cool cake in pan on wire rack 1 hour. Gently invert cake onto rimmed baking sheet (cake will be topping-side down); remove tube pan, place wire rack on top of cake, and invert cake sugar-side up. Cool to room temperature, about 1½ hours. Cut into slices and serve.

Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly with plastic wrap. For optimal texture, allow the cake to return to room temperature before serving.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

All-Occasion Sugar Cookie

I’ve come to the realization that I used to make sugar cookies all wrong. I had a problem with over-rolling – making them too thin, resulting in a flat, sometimes crunchy cookie. And we all know that is just not right.

For my birthday last year, my husband got me some rolling pin rings. I can honestly say that these have changed my life for the better. I can now make cookies and pie dough the perfect thickness and it’s wonderful.

I decided to make some cookies to give to friends on Mother’s Day, but I had a little too much on my plate and didn’t get around to decorating them in time. So naturally we snacked on them all day, and they were really good. And they are so easy.

All-Occasion Sugar Cookies
From Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: About 50 2-inch cookies
Printer Friendly Version

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for a minute or so, until smooth. Beat in the sugar and continue to beat for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is light and pale. Add the egg and yolk and beat for another minute or two; beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and steadily add the flour mixture, mixing only until it has been incorporated – because this dough is best when worked least, you might want to stop the mixer before all the flour is thoroughly blended into the dough and finish the job with a rubber spatula. When mixed, the dough will be soft, creamy and malleable.

Turn the dough out onto a counter and divide it in half. If you want to make roll-out cookies, shape each half into a disk and wrap in plastic. If you want to make slice-and-bake cookies, shape each half into a chubby sausage and wrap in plastic. Whether you’re going to roll or slice the dough, it must be chilled for at least 2 hours. (Well wrapped, the dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.)

Getting Ready to Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

If you are making roll-out cookies, working with one packet of dough at a time, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper to a thickness of ¼ inch, lifting the plastic or paper and turning the dough over often so that it rolls evenly. Lift off the top sheet of plastic or paper and cut out the cookies. Pull away the excess dough, saving the scraps for rerolling, and carefully lift the rounds onto the baking sheets with a spatula, leaving about 1½ inches between the cookies. (This is a soft dough and you might have trouble peeling away the excess or lifting the cutouts; if so, cover the dough, chill it for about 15 minutes and try again.) After you’ve rolled and cut the second packet of dough, you can form the scraps into a disk, then chill, roll, cut and bake.

If you are making slice-and-bake cookies, use a sharp thin knife to slice the dough into ¼-inch-thick rounds, and place the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1½ inches between the cookies.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 9 to 11 minutes, rotating the sheet at the midpoint. The cookies should feel firm, but they should not color much, if at all. Remove the pan from the oven and let them rest for 1 minute before carefully lifting them onto a rack to cool to room temperature.

Storing: The cookies will keep at room temperature in a tin for up to 1 week. Wrapped well, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Lemon Truffle Cake

I made this for Easter and it was amazing.

Let me talk about this lemon truffle for a minute. It’s perfection. Lemon curd, cream cheese, and white chocolate mixed together for a creamy filling. I could have just eaten it by the spoonful it was so good.

The white cake had a nice density and moistness that complemented the lemon truffle filling, and I loved the extra pop of lemon curd on top of the cake. You use whipped cream to frost the outside of the cake, and I have to say that anything else would be too heavy and distracting from the rest of the cake.

This cake took a little bit of work, but I think it was worth it. It’s a definite crowd pleaser, and the leftovers made an awesome breakfast!

Lemon Truffle Cake
from Recipe Girl
Printer Friendly Version

For the cake:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 2/3 cups granulated white sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large egg whites

For the lemon truffle filling:
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
2 large egg yolks
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/3 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
6 ounces (1 cup) chopped white chocolate or chips
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese

For the whipped cream frosting:
1 cup whipping cream
3 Tablespoons powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

Prepare the cake: In a large bowl with an electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, milk, and butter. Blend until the butter is evenly mixed. Add the vanilla. Beat at low speed for 1 minute, then increase the speed to high and beat for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl constantly, beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.

In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Gently but thoroughly fold the whites into the cake batter. Pour evenly into the prepared pans.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cakes are no longer jiggly in the center. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Split the cooled layers horizontally to make 4 layers in all.

Prepare the filling: In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk in water until smooth. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with a fork. Slowly stir about 1/4 cup of the hot mixture into the egg yolks, whisking quickly while adding the hot liquid. (You don’t want to create scrambled eggs, so be sure to add the hot mixture slowly, whisking it into the eggs as quickly as possible). Continue adding 1/4 cups of the hot mixture to the eggs until you have warmed up the egg mixture. Whisk the egg yolk mixture back to the mixture in the saucepan. Cook over low heat until the mixture boils, whisking constantly, then continue to cook for 2 minutes, stirring.

Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and lemon juice and zest. Transfer half of the hot filling to a small bowl and set aside to cool. Add the white chocolate to the hot filling in the saucepan and stir until the chocolate is melted; set aside. In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in the white chocolate mixture until light and smooth. At this point, you should have a small bowl of lemon curd and a bowl of white chocolate truffle filling.

Assemble the cake: Spread one third of the white chocolate filling over one layer of the cake. Top with a second cake layer, then spread with one third more of the filling; top with a third cake layer and spread the remaining filling over. Top with the last cake layer and spread reserved lemon curd. Refrigerate, uncovered, until the filling is set (2 to 3 hours).

Make the whipped cream: In another bowl, whip the cream and sweeten it with the confectioners’ sugar. Frost the sides of the cake with half of the whipped cream frosting. Put the remaining frosting into a pastry bag and pipe decoratively around the top and bottom edge of the cake. Refrigerate up to 8 hours before serving.

Best. Gift. Ever.

Kouing Aman from Les Madeleines Café in Salt Lake City. Butter and salt infused with labor and love. Sent to my husband courtesy of a student that he helped to get an internship. Best. Gift. Ever.