Sunday, March 31, 2013

Homemade Oreos (Lancelots)

My dad recommended I call these "Lancelots".  Why? Well, to be honest, I'm not really sure but he said "Why are they called Oreos? Who knows? Let's just call them Lancelots". And you know what? I like it! Seems like a fitting name!
With my brother home, and Passover (and Easter!) in the air, there's been a flurry of activity in the kitchen. From brisket to various matzah dishes and classic Easter ham later, it's been hard choosing one recipe to focus on. Like always when I'm really struggling, it came to me at night. Never question your dreams, they always tell you in school - so....homemade Lancelots! And of course, Lancelot wanted to help with the baking, but he got lost under the sofa for several hours, presumably busy snuffling at every corner, trying to figure out the mysteries of the dust bunny communities. 

And WOAH! Is that a layer of peanut butter?! Mmhm. Why yes it is. I made about a dozen with a layer of peanut butter, too. And they are exceptional when coated in chocolate! Happy Easter!

Bake Temp: 350 F
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 12 minutes
Ready In: 90 minutes (with chilling)

1 cup butter, at room temp
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, at room temp
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
 3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons half and half
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 – 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Prepare the cookies! Now make the frosting!
Just kidding, I'll give you directions.
Combine the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until well incorporated.

Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add the dry mixture to the creamed mixture, mixing slowly.  Combine all until it is just incorporated.
Divide the dough in half, and roll it into two logs, about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or until it is stiff.
When the dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or butter lightly.

Taking only one portion of dough out of the refrigerator at a time, cut the slices into 1/8 – 1/4-inch thickness.  Transfer to baking sheet. They'll expand a little, so give about 1/2 inch in between them. You can fit a lot unto a sheet
Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes, let them cool before transferring to a baking sheet. If you take them off too soon, they may be at risk of crumbling!

Once the cookies are cooled, prepare the filling. 
Combine the softened butter, half and half, and vanilla and beat until combined. Keeping in mind the consistency of oreo filling, it should be smooth, but if you move it too quickly, it will clump. Add the powdered sugar gradually, approximately 1/2 cup at a time, until the filling comes together. The filling should be slightly stiffer than cupcake frosting.

I divided my cookies because I had three distinct sizes and thicknesses. I matched up all the cookies with similar sizes.

Spread frosting on each cookie and gently push them together. I also prepared a peanut butter frosting, and spread it on some halves of the cookies to smoosh them together so they had both cream and peanut butter frosting. Yum!

 For the peanut butter frosting, I took Teddy peanut butter and mixed in confectioner's sugar (about 3 parts sugar to 1 part peanut butter). I added in some milk because it seemed a little thick, but you can mess with the ratios as you see fit.

 Mmmm, don't the look delish?

Perfect for dipping. The cookies absorb so much milk and, especially with the sugar, it balances out the sweetness. Just be careful, they go awfully quickly once you start!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Deconstructed Matza Bark

Ahhhh, yes, it's that time of year again. Passover is in the air. The smells of cranberry brisket, matzo ball soup and chocolate covered everything. And every year I find myself wondering how I can make it through a week without pasta. But an amazing thing happened. I discovered Stop and Shop sells Passover friendly pasta! As my dad reminded me, it will probably taste terrible. But, you know what? At least it's something!
Anyways, last year I remember being really disappointed that I couldn't buy anything from the many bake sales that happened at my high school during the week. But, one beautiful tuesday afternoon, I wandered down and lo and behold they were selling this amazingly delicious matzo dessert! 

Now, bark is traditionally a chocolate or caramel base with other things stirred in (like pretzel, candy canes) and chopped into pieces. A deconstructed dish is when you take some complete dish and take apart the various pieces to reuse them. So you maintain the essential ingredients of a dish and use them differently, but still together. Take a taco, for example - rather than having just the classic taco, you could fried the tortilla put the beans on the side and make a salad from the other ingredients and call it deconstructed. This is deconstructed because rather than crumbling the matzo and caramel into the bark, you use the matzo as a base and caramel as a glue.

Oven Temp - 350
Prep Time - 10 minutes
Bake Time- 15 minutes
Ready-In - 30 minutes

Another great thing? 4 ingredients!
3/4 cups butter
3/4 brown sugar
4-5 pieces of matzo
1 1/2 cups chocolate
anything else to top (I used sliced almonds and coconut)

.Begin by lining a baking sheet with tin foil. Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter in a saucepan. Whisk in sugar, whisking constantly over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes.

It will bubble lightly. Pour evenly over the matzo.

Bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes,  until caramel starts to bubble.

Remove from oven. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Let sit for about 5 minutes.

Chocolate should be melted by now. Gently spread with knife.

Sprinkle with any extra topping.

Let cool and then chop into bite-sized snacks! Yum!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

New Best Friend Chocolate Chip Cookies

Feeling a little lonely? Need some new friends? These cookies will get you a new best friend. Or 20. Whip up a batch of these gnarly noms and you'll have people breaking down your door for a cookie. Or just a crumb. I got the recipe from one of my new favorite blogs - Sally's Baking Addiction. Usually I don't bother trying new chocolate chip cookie recipes because EVERYBODY has a favorite. But this one caught my eye because of the corn starch. I've recently been using a lot more corn starch and have continuously been impressed by the results in sauces and other baked goods. I've found it smooths out doughs and, of course, makes them a little thicker.

Bake Temp - 350
Prep Time - 10 minutes + 30 minutes cooling
Bake Time - 8 minutes
Ready In - 50 minutes

3/4 cup butter at room temperature 
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Grease baking sheets, or line with parchment/wax paper.
In a large bowl  cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until fluffy and no butter chunks remain. Mix in egg and vanilla.

  In a separate bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. On low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients.

Stir in chocolate chips. Dough will be thick and sticky. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Snack time!

Preheat oven to 350F.
The dough may be a little crumbly, but when you roll it into balls it will smooth out fine.

 Drop tbsp sized balls of dough onto cookie sheet. Bake for 8-9 minutes, until just golden brown around the edges. Do NOT cook them longer than 10 minutes.

 Remove and let cool for 3 minutes on the cookie sheet. They will slightly deflate as you let them cool. Transfer to cooling rack.
Rumor has it they may even be better the second day, but I have my doubts that they'll make it that long!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sheepy Cupcakes!

My English class decided to set up a snack sign up sheet, so we could finish our school days with a treat. I signed up for the first day - convenient for me because it was a monday. Thought it would be a great time to try out these little guys.
I have to say I admire the first person who came up with this idea. Who looks at a cupcake and thinks "Gosh, wow, I could make that a sheep!". Not me. But they are cute. Quite charming in fact, with little cake pop heads and marshmallow wool to keep them cozy. Look at this guy, just willing you to eat him.

Or, more likely, to not eat him.

Bake Temp: 350 F  
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Bake Time: 25ish minutes
Ready-In: 1 hour

(makes 24-27 standard sized cupcakes)
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (best quality available)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs (room temp)
 1 cup whole milk (room temp) 
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (best quality available)
1 cup boiling water

5 Tablespoons Flour
1 cup Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 cup Butter
1 cup Granulated Sugar

Milk and eggs out to warm
Line muffin tin with paper liners.  Heat oven to 350F. Now, because I wanted to make sheep, I knew I would need some extra cake to make the heads, so I made a batch and a half.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

You'll see that I separated my dry ingredients. I put 2/3 (the equivalent of one batch) in one bowl, and the final third in another bowl.
Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed for one minute.


Milk bubbles encapsulated in oil

Stir in boiling water. It will be thin, but you want that.
Fill liners 1/2 to 2/3 full with batter.  (I put the batter into a large measuring cup with a pour spout, and then pour the batter into the liners.) I baked 2/3 as cupcakes, and 1/3 as a cake in an 8x8 pan.
Bake cupcakes for aproximately 18-22 minutes and cake for 23-25 minutes.

Sheep Heads
Cool completely on wire rack before frosting.

As the cupcakes are baking, prepare frosting.  

In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. You want this to be a very viscous fluid -  like brownie batter. Make sure to whisk constantly. Remove from heat when ready, and let cool to room temp. Once properly cooled, stir in vanilla.

While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Because we are using granulated sugar, not confectioner's, you want to make sure it's as smooth as can be.Stir in cooled milk mixture and beat until it resembles whipped cream.

  Sheep Assembly Time!
Frost cupcakes.

Cover with mini marshmallow wool. Mash together about 1/3-1/2 cup frosting with prepared cake to make the same mixture you'd use for cake pops. Form ovaly spheres and attach to cupcakes. If you want the heads to overhang, you could use a thin pretzel to attach it to the cupcake. For the eyes, I used leftover frosting and rolled up mini cake balls for the pupils.

Of course, there's always one or two that just won't seem to come out right (the black sheep in the family, if I may) ...I thought this one looked particularly grumpy.

I think I'll have to make my dad eat it.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Healthy Fudgy Chocolate Cookies

You can't even tell these can beans in them. It's incredible. You can't taste the whole wheat flour either. WHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTT. These are so good.... Fudgey, kind of a brownie like consistency. No eggs, so you can eat the raw batter. AND these are exceptionally easy. 10 minute prep, 10 minute break, ready to eat in 25. I wish I had more to say about these, but gosh, I think I've said enough!

1 can black beans
2 T. milk
1.5 T. peanut butter
2 T. olive oil
3 T. whole wheat flour
¼ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
½ c. + 1 T. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1 tbls vanilla extract
chocolate chips

Bake Temp - 375
Prep Time- 10
Bake Time - 10
Ready to eat in - 25 minutes

Preheat oven to 375 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Wash black beans carefully.

Combine black beans, milk, peanut butter, and olive oil in a food processor and process until smooth.

Add in whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon, and continue processing until combined and mousse-like.

Spoon 16 dollops evenly spaced dollops of the batter onto the baking sheet and sprinkle with the extra chocolate chips.

Press chocolate chips into the top. 
Bake for 10 minutes.
Following baking, I sprinkled on some fleur de sal.

Let cool slightly, then put on a baking rack until they are cooled completely.