I hope you're not thinking "another peanut butter recipe?" I know it was just yesterday that we talked about peanut butter waffles, but I couldn't wait to share these cookies. They've been on my to-do list for a while, and I baked them yesterday in anticipation of needing a snack during a long night/early morning full of royal wedding mania. I couldn't trust myself to respond to a 4 am alarm so I stayed up most of the night to watch the historic event with many of my Twitter buddies and I think it was well worth it. I was too young to watch Charles and Diana's wedding so this was my first royal wedding experience and it definitely lived up to the hype.
But about the cookies... I'd seen them on Annie's site originally, and I was hooked the minute she mentioned they were similar to Nutter Butters. Oh how I loved those cookies back in the day! I haven't had them in years and probably won't ever again because these are even better. The peanut butter oatmeal cookies are soft and chewy with a luscious peanut butter frosting sandwiched in the middle. The filling calls for heavy cream, which I realized I didn't have only after I got started, so I subbed half and half and it worked fine. I haven't pulled an all-nighter since law school, and a few of these sandwiches powered me through. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get my errands done so there's time for a quick nap this afternoon :)
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies
originally from Allrecipes (as seen on Annie's Eats)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup quick-cooking oats
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, peanut butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the egg and vanilla. Beat to incorporate. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. Finally, add the oats and beat briefly to distribute evenly.
Use a small cookie scoop to portion the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between them. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are golden and puffed, and the edges are set. (I did 12 cookies per sheet and baked only one sheet at a time.) Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes then transfer then to the wire rack to cool completely. Repeat to bake all dough.
To make the filling: Combine the butter, peanut butter and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the heavy cream and beat until fluffy. Match the cookies in pairs by size. Transfer the filling to a piping bag and pipe a small amount onto the flat side of one cookie of each pair. Sandwich the cookies together, and press the filling to the edges.
Makes about 18 sandwich cookies
One night last week my mom stopped by and dropped off the most recent issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine (a fair exchange, I think, for some strawberry rhubarb preserves and a few Nutella chip cookies). It's one of my favorites for its simple (i.e. generally short ingredient lists) and inexpensive recipe ideas. Shane wasn't home that night and I wasn't in the mood to cook so my original dinner plan was roasted asparagus and popcorn. A perfectly balanced meal, right? :) As I sat on the couch flipping through the pages of the magazine, I came across this recipe for peanut butter waffles and the plan changed. I still had the roasted asparagus (it's my very favorite veggie, and it kills me the season is so short!), and I supplemented with a waffle. Shane never wants breakfast for dinner, so this was the perfect opportunity for me to do it.
I only pull out my waffle maker about once a year so I'm not very adept at using it. This time that meant I overfilled the wells (not a fun mess to clean up) and overcooked the waffles slightly. Still, I really enjoyed them - crisp on the outside and tender on the inside with just a hint of peanut butter flavor. I served mine with a few slices of banana, a dusting of powdered sugar and some maple syrup, but I also think these could be a fun dessert option with a little chocolate syrup, some banana slices and maybe a scoop of ice cream. You can make them ahead and freeze them too - they reheated fairly well in the toaster.
Peanut Butter Waffles
from Everyday Food, May 2011
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
6 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
bananas, maple syrup for serving (optional)
Preheat waffle iron. If you want to make all of the waffles before serving, preheat oven to 275 F, set a wire rack inside of a rimmed baking sheet and pop in the oven.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In your blender combine the melted butter and peanut butter, and blend until smooth. Add the buttermilk and eggs and blend to combine. Pour the wet ingredients from the blender over the dry ingredients and stir just until incorporated.
Fill the wells of the waffle iron and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions. You want the waffles golden brown when they're finished. Serve with bananas and maple syrup, if desired. (Transfer the waffles to the wire rack in the oven to keep warm if not serving immediately.)
Yield will depend on size/shape of your waffle iron
A little over 4 years ago, Shane and I took a trip to Hawaii; we spent 4 days in Kauai and then another 6 in Maui. It was, hands down, the best vacation we've ever taken, and not just because it was our honeymoon, though that certainly played a part. The scenery was breathtakingly gorgeous, unlike anything I'd ever seen before - from the mountains to the beaches to the waterfalls to the canyons. We spent days just driving around taking it all in, something that would typically have bored me within the first hour on most other vacations. I've basically been asking Shane to go back again ever since we got home. It doesn't help that we watch the Hawaii Five-0 remake every week, which is shot in Hawaii (on Oahu, I think) and reinforces my desire to get back there asap!
When I was looking for smoothie recipes recently and came across one called an Aloha Smoothie, well, I just had to try it. It's comprised of only a few ingredients - yogurt, pineapple and mango plus a little sugar (I also added milk in my version to thin the consistency slightly). I try to make smoothies with yogurt whenever possible because I know it has a lot of health benefits but I just don't like it enough to eat it on its own very often. This smoothie was a hit - refreshing and definitely a bit tropical. Until I can get back to Hawaii, it'll do :)
In other news, I finally tried a version of the green monster smoothie that's been making its away around the internet for a while. If you've never heard of it, it's a smoothie incorporating either spinach or kale, which give it a bright green color. I'd first seen the idea about a year ago but honestly it just sounded gross to me. Spinach in my smoothie? Ick. However, when I found some baby spinach just barely hanging on in my fridge a few days ago I decided to just give it a try. Nearly every review I'd seen mentioned that the smoothie doesn't end up tasting like spinach so I guess you could say curiosity got the best of me. I wasn't brave enough to try the "basic" version which usually includes just spinach, milk, banana and ice. My adapted version includes peanut butter and cocoa powder as well, and sadly they do not give it the most appetizing color. I took a photo as proof I made it, and despite what it looks like, I have to say it was pretty tasty! I am most definitely not someone who eats something just because it's healthy - it has to taste good too, and this does. As others said, it doesn't taste like spinach at all, mine just reminded me of a peanut butter-banana smoothie. Definitely an easy way to get more spinach in my diet so I'll be making it again.
adapted from America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
3/4 cup frozen pineapple
3/4 cup frozen mango
1 tablespoon sugar, plus more to taste
Combine all of the ingredients in your blender with the yogurt and milk on the bottom. Blend until smooth. You can add ice if you want a thicker smoothie or milk if you want a thinner consistency. Serve immediately.
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Green Monster Smoothie
adapted from Bridezilla Bakes
2 cups baby spinach
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup ice cubes
Combine all ingredients in your blender, with the ice on the bottom. Blend until smooth.
As you know, I send a lot of the things I bake to work with Shane. Often, though, I won't have them completely made, photographed & wrapped for transport until after Shane heads to bed. A few months ago we came up with a plan so he'd know whether I intended for him to take something to the office with him in the morning since I don't usually wake up until after he leaves (yep, we're on somewhat opposite schedules). We have an island in the center of the kitchen, and if I leave a treat on the edge nearest the door that's a sign it's for him to share with his coworkers. Sounds simple enough, right?
Well, it should be. I made these cookies on Sunday but didn't photograph them. I stuck them on a plate with some plastic wrap on top intending to deal with them on Monday. I woke up yesterday, stumbled downstairs and began reading my emails. There was one from Shane, and as I'm rubbing my eyes trying to wake up I do a double take upon seeing this line:
"You said those cookies were shortbread, right? I couldn’t remember what else to call them when I sent out the email about them at work."
Ooops. Guess I accidentally left them in the "bring to work" spot. Totally my fault, but I really didn't want to make them again so I responded with a request for him to pick out 3 or 4 of the pretty cookies and set them aside. Fortunately it was barely 8 am so there were plenty left. As luck would have it, he'd forgotten his lunch so I drove to his office to drop it off and pick up the cookies. Crisis averted, or so I thought. I took some great shots of the cookies while I was prepping/baking them and as I sat down to write this post last night realized I'd accidentally erased those shots from the memory card earlier in the day. It gave me the same sick feeling (though to a much lesser degree) as the time I decided to format the memory card on our camera midway through a vacation. Apparently "format" is another word for erase. Learned that lesson the hard way :)
These cornmeal shortbread cookies were selected by Valerie of Une Gamine dans la Cuisine for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie. I used lime zest and almond extract in my cookies and halved the recipe. Dorie uses a great trick for rolling out shortbread dough in a resealable plastic bag and a half recipe fits perfectly in a quart-size bag. The dough was delicious, but I wasn't quite as enthusiastic about the cookies once baked. I loved the almond flavor and the hints of lime, but the cornmeal gave the cookies a bit more crunch than I generally prefer in my shortbread. Shane's coworkers were big fans though.
Many thanks to Valerie for hosting. You can find the recipe on her blog or on page 130 of Baking: From My Home to Yours.
Posted by Tracey Wilhelmsen at 9:47 AM
Are there certain household chores you dread more than others? For me, it's a pretty short list but among my least favorite tasks is cleaning out the fridge/freezer. As a result, our freezer has been in a perpetually maxed out state for way too long. I always have to stop and ask myself whether I can fit something in the freezer before it makes its way into my cart at the grocery store :) As the first hints of warm spring weather have begun to arrive I keep thinking how nice homemade ice cream would be but with no room in the freezer for the ice cream canister, I've had to do without. Finally, ice cream cravings prevailed over laziness last week and I cleared some space in the freezer. It really wasn't that bad, which makes me wonder why I was dreading it so much in the first place. The only hard work left to do was deciding which recipe to try first.
I was sort of tempted to pull an old favorite from the archives; this chocolate-peanut butter and the lemon curd ice cream were top contenders, the former is one of Shane's most requested and the latter one of the most delicious things I've ever made. I kept coming back, though, to this cinnamon toast ice cream I'd flagged on Epicurious a while ago. As a kid, I often had cinnamon toast for breakfast - (so simple yet so good!), and I loved the sugary cereal with the totally 80's commercial too. I wasn't convinced an ice cream would be able to deliver the classic buttery cinnamon flavor but I was intrigued enough to give it a shot.
This recipe is a bit time consuming and leaves a sinkful of dirty dishes in its wake, but I think it's worth the effort. The base is fantastic - creamy and rich with a ton of cinnamon flavor; I would absolutely have eaten it on its own. The recipe, however, calls for taking things a step further by folding homemade cinnamon-sugar bread cubes into the base. I know, it sounds really strange (and trust me, I was skeptical too) but it works. The cubes are delicious, I nibbled on more than a few as I made the custard, and they actually stay crunchy in the ice cream for a few days. If you're wary, or don't think the ice cream would be eaten that quickly at your house, you could make the cubes, store them in an airtight container, and sprinkle them over your ice cream as a topping instead of a mix-in. It's a good way to use whatever bread you might have hanging around - I used leftover challah for mine.
With all of my newfound freezer space expect to see many more ice cream recipes over the next few months!
Cinnamon Toast Ice Cream
from Gourmet, August 2006 via Epicurious
2 cups whole milk
2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
5 slices firm white sandwich bread
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon molasses
1 cup heavy cream
Combine the milk and cinnamon sticks in a 2-qt saucepan. Bring the milk to a boil, then turn off the heat and cover the pan - allow to steep for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300 F with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Cut 3 slices of the bread into 1/4-inch cubes and transfer them to a medium bowl. Pulse the remaining 2 slices of bread in your food processor to make bread crumbs. In a small bowl whisk the melted butter, brown sugar and cinnamon together. Drizzle about 3/4 of the mixture over the cubes of bread, tossing to coat them evenly. Transfer to one of the prepared baking sheets, spreading the cubes in a single layer. Add the bread crumbs to the remaining butter mixture and stir to coat. Spread on the second prepared baking sheet.
Bake the bread cubes and crumbs for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Stir occasionally and rotate the pans from top to bottom halfway through to ensure even baking. Leave on the pans and set aside to cool. Once cool, transfer the bread crumbs to a heatproof bowl.
Bring the milk back to a boil and then pour it over the bread crumbs. Let stand for 10 minutes, then pour the milk through a fine-mesh strainer into a saucepan. Press on the solids to extract as much milk as possible. Discard the solids afterward.
In a medium bowl whisk the egg yolks, granulated sugar, molasses and a pinch of salt together. Bring the milk to a boil once again. Slowly add the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (it will register between 170 and 175 F on an instant read thermometer).
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the heavy cream. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof bowl. Cover and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Fold in the bread cubes once churned, then transfer to an airtight container and freeze for at least 2 hours before serving.
As I've mentioned several times already, I don't drink coffee. I don't like the taste and it's not something I need to get me going first thing in the morning. That said, if I don't get some caffeine in me by mid-afternoon all bets are off. Yes, I'll admit it, I'm addicted to caffeine. While I don't require coffee when I wake up, I absolutely have to eat something for breakfast. I pretty much wake up thinking about what I can eat for breakfast, it may just be my favorite meal of the day. From time to time I like to make a batch of muffins and stash them in the freezer so I have a quick on-the-go breakfast option. These mocha chip muffins are a new addition to the muffin rotation. With 3 tablespoons of instant espresso in the batter there's no shortage of coffee flavor in the muffins. Plus you get to eat chocolate for breakfast, which is always a bonus.
The original recipe called for making 12 large muffins and that's what I planned to do when I started. I used my ice cream scoop to fill each of the wells of the pan to the top and realized I still had batter leftover, so instead of going back and trying to divide it evenly, I just made a few more muffins. Even having made 4 extra muffins, I thought these were pretty big so I'd probably stick with 16 again next time. I reduced the quantity of chocolate chips so there were just a few in each muffin - up the quantity to 1 cup (or more!) if you like a lot of chocolate. I liked the muffins best warm from the oven so I reheated the leftovers in the microwave briefly. These will definitely get you going first thing in the morning!
Mocha Chip Muffins
adapted from Cook's Illustrated
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar, minus 1 tablespoon
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups plain low-fat yogurt
3 tablespoons instant espresso powder
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 F with a rack in the lower middle position. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl stir the espresso powder and yogurt together.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in half of dry ingredients then one third of the yogurt mixture. Alternately add the remaining dry ingredients in two additions, alternating with the remaining yogurt mixture. Beat just until incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips.
Use a large ice cream scoop to portion the batter evenly among the prepared liners. Bake for about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the muffin pan to a wire rack and let the muffins cool for about 5 minutes before removing them from the pans to the rack.
Makes 16 muffins
I have been craving chocolate chip cookies for over a week but indecision kept me from choosing a recipe and actually making some. I have this thing about making recipes more than once. Sure, we repeat a lot of savory items but it's hard for me to make the same desserts over and over when there are so many I want to try. I've baked many of the obvious go-to chocolate chip cookie recipes (NY Times, Alton Brown, Cook's Illustrated, etc...) so I needed to come up with a different idea. Just when I was about ready to cave and repeat a favorite, I remembered these Nutella chip cookies I'd seen over on Love and Olive Oil. I like Nutella but not so much that you'll find me eating it out of the jar with a spoon so it tends to last a while here unless I remember to bake with it occasionally.
My favorite cookies are generally the ones that are thick and chewy (what is it with me and my preference for thick over thin?). In all of the photos I'd seen of these cookies on other blogs, they'd always looked really thin so that was my only real worry about this recipe. I wound up refrigerating the dough for about an hour before baking hoping that might keep them from spreading too much, but I still wound up with pretty thin cookies. Not to worry, they were still awesome! They're soft and chewy (even on the second day) with the caramel notes often found in my favorite chocolate chip cookies. Honestly, I thought they tasted a lot like regular chocolate chip cookies with just a little something extra from the Nutella. To be clear, that's a good thing, not a complaint - these are definitely one of the best cookies I've made in the past few months - especially if we're judging based on how many I ate within the first few hours after baking them :)
Nutella Chip Cookies
adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody via Love and Olive Oil
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup Nutella
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together in a small bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add both sugars and cream on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the egg and vanilla and beat to combine. Mix in the Nutella until the dough is smooth.
With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the mixer a little at a time. Beat just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then add the chocolate chips. Beat briefly just to distribute the chips. (I refrigerated the dough for about an hour here, but it's not necessary.)
Use a small cookie scoop to portion the dough on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between them. Bake for 7-8 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are set (the tops may still be soft). Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool for about 5 minutes before transferring them to the racks to cool completely.
Makes about 36 cookies
I'm not someone who does well with the "what one food would you bring to a deserted island?" or "what would you choose for your last meal?" games. With all of the possible options, I'm far too indecisive to ever narrow it down to just one thing. I can say with 100% certainty though that pizza would be among the top 5 were I to sit down and make a list. We make it at home a few times a month and it's always something I look forward to eating. As a kid I remember picking the cheese off of my pizza and just eating the bottom crust - what was I thinking?? Over the years, I've come to love the cheese almost as much as the crust. Sorry, but bread wins out over almost everything else for me, even cheese :)
It probably won't come as much of a shock then when I tell you that I prefer thick crust pizzas over thin. I'm not ashamed to admit that I've always chosen thick crust pizzas from those big national pizza chains when we order out. However, I try to keep an open mind, and I was intrigued when I saw this thin crust pizza in an issue of Cook's Illustrated a few months ago. A few bloggers tried the recipe before I had a chance to make it, and they all raved so that cemented my desire to make it asap.
They were all right, this is now one of our new favorite homemade pizza recipes. Yes, the crust is thin, but it's incredibly flavorful. We went with just cheese on one of the pizzas and pepperoni on the other; you could use any toppings you like just don't pile them too high or you'll probably wind up with a soggy pizza. One of the best things about this recipe is that the dough has to be refrigerated for between 24 hours and 3 days so you could do the initial work of making the dough over the weekend and then enjoy homemade pizza on a weeknight without much effort. The simple no-cook sauce can be made ahead of time as well and it's really, really good. Shane prepped ours while I sat on the couch and offered direction :) I don't think I'll ever stop loving thick crust pizza, but I'm really glad to have found a thin crust option which is just as delicious - that's something I didn't ever think I would say!
Thin Crust Pizza
from Cook's Illustrated, January/February 2011
3 cups (16 1/2 oz) bread flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/3 cups ice water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and liquid discarded
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 oz finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)
8 oz shredded mozzarella (about 2 cups)
To make the dough: Combine the flour, sugar and yeast in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse just briefly to mix. With the machine running, slowly add all of the water through the feed tube and process just until the dough dough comes together, about 10 seconds. Let the dough rest (still in the bowl of the food processor) for 10 minutes.
Add the oil and salt to the food processor and process until the dough comes together in a smooth, tacky ball that clears the sides of the bowl, about 30-60 seconds. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface and knead briefly then shape into a tight ball. Place the dough in a large bowl lightly coated with cooking spray. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours (or up to 3 days).
To make the sauce: Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of your food processor and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. The sauce can be made in advance and refrigerated for a week or frozen for a month.
To make the pizza: About one hour before you want to bake, preheat oven to 500 F with a pizza stone set on a rack about 4-5 inches from the broiler. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide in half. Shape each piece of dough into a tight ball and set on a lightly oiled baking sheet, leaving at least 3 inches between them. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap that's been sprayed with cooking spray and let stand at room temperature for an hour.
Transfer 1 ball of dough to a well floured work surface. Use your fingertips to flatten the dough into an 8-inch disk, leaving the outer edge slightly thicker. Gently stretch the dough with your hands (I rolled mine with a rolling pin) into a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a well-floured pizza peel, if you have one. (We don't, so I always use parchment paper.) Stretch the dough a bit more to a 13-inch circle. Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in a thin, even layer over the dough, leaving a small border around the edge. Sprinkle evenly with half of the Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. Bake on the preheated pizza stone for about 10-12 minutes, or until the crust is browned and the cheese is bubbling and browned. Transfer the pizza to a wire rack and let stand for 5 minutes before slicing. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
Makes two 13-inch pizzas
This week's Tuesdays with Dorie was selected by my buddy Jeannette of The Whimsical Cupcake: tourtely apple tart. A what? Yeah, that's pretty much what I said :) According to Dorie, tourte is the French word for a covered tart. So it's sort of like a skinny pie - the top and bottom crust made from Dorie's sweet tart dough, which is almost cookie-like here. The filling for this tart is a really fragrant and delicious chunky homemade applesauce - apple are cooked down with brown sugar and then tossed with nutty browned butter and vanilla (plus raisins and pinches of both cinnamon and salt in my case).
I couldn't be bothered to do the math to figure out how to scale this recipe back so I made the full size 9-inch tart. The recipe is a fair amount of work, but it can be spread out over an afternoon. Individually the components could even be made a few days ahead of time and assembled/baked at the last minute. The filling calls for tart-sweet apples and I had no idea what that meant (seriously, is there an apple cheat sheet somewhere?) so I used golden delicious. The other thing that gave me pause in this recipe? I kept rereading the instructions (I even had Shane read them to make sure I wasn't missing something) looking for the place where Dorie told us to cut steam holes in the top crust before baking the tart. It wasn't there so I didn't, and things turned out fine. I cut little leaves from the dough scraps for the top because I thought it needed something.
I don't think I've baked with apples since last fall, so this was a welcome treat here. Any time I can have an apple pie-like treat without making pie dough I'm happy. A definite repeat here! Many thanks to Jeannette for hosting this week! She'll share the recipe on her blog today, or you can find it on pages 306-307 of Baking: From My Home to Yours.
I don't know what it is with Oreos but there always seems to be a package lingering in my pantry, begging to be used before its "best by date" passes. We never eat them as is, if I buy them it's either because I think I might want to bake with them or because I already have a recipe in mind that calls for them. The lesson here is that I need to stop buying things on a whim (some might say impulse) because I might need them :) I picked up a package of the holiday Oreos (they're filled with red cream, which explains the reddish tint on the edge of the pie plate in some of the photos) on sale after Christmas and I've been trying to find ways to get through this package in the past few weeks. I baked the Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies recently, then used them to make crusts for my his and hers ice cream tarts, and finally, turned to this frozen chocolate-peanut butter pie. It was a double win - the Oreos are history, and this pie is awesome!
The recipe for the pie comes from Martha Stewart's new Pies and Tarts book, which despite my best efforts, I couldn't resist picking up at Borders recently. The base is a pretty standard Oreo crust, though I think maybe with a bit more butter than usual, which I assume prevents it from becoming rock hard in the freezer. The filling starts with a combination of cream cheese, peanut butter and sugar into which whipped cream is folded to help lighten the texture. Melted chocolate and peanut butter are drizzled over the top for garnish. I probably could have been a little neater with my zigzags, but that would have taken all the fun out of it. Just pop a sheet of wax paper or parchment under your pie for easy clean-up if you intend to be messy like me :)
This pie is a cinch to whip up and sure to be a hit with anyone who loves the combination of chocolate and peanut butter. Even after several hours in the freezer, the filling is smooth and creamy and the crust is firm, but not impossible to cut. I think it'd be perfect for late spring, when the weather is warm enough to enjoy freezer treats, but not so hot it melts them immediately.
Frozen Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pie
from Martha Stewart's Pies & Tarts
1 3/4 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups peanut butter (smooth, not natural or chunky)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
1 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons peanut butter
To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine the cookie crumbs, brown sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Add the butter and toss with a fork until all of the crumbs are moistened (the mixture will be quite wet). Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes so the crust is firm, then bake until set, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the peanut butter and vanilla. (If you don't have a second bowl for your stand mixer either transfer the cream cheese mixture to another bowl and wash the first, or do the next step with a hand mixer.) Switch to the whisk attachment on your mixer and beat the heavy cream until you have soft peaks. Take about 1/3 of the whipped cream and stir it into the cream cheese mixture to lighten it. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the remaining 2/3 of the whipped cream. Transfer the filling to the cooled crust and spread in an even layer. Freeze uncovered for at least 4 hours or up to 1 day covered with plastic wrap.
To garnish the pie: Put the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30 second bursts at 50% power, stirring in between each burst. Continue until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Transfer to a resealable plastic bag and snip a tiny bit off the corner. Hold the bag over the pie and drizzle the melted chocolate in a zig-zag pattern. Put the peanut butter in a small saucepan set over low heat and melt it, stirring frequently. Add the melted peanut butter to a resealable plastic bag, snip off a corner and drizzle over the pie. Let stand for about 10 minutes to set.
Remove the pie from the freezer about 10-15 minutes before you are ready to serve. If you have trouble cutting it, running your knife under warm water will help.
After more than two years of baking with the Sweet Melissa Sundays group, we are approaching the end of our time together. At our current pace of two recipes per month and with just 8 recipes left, we'll be finishing up in August. Crazy to think we'll have made every recipe in the book! So, with that said, I'm thrilled to be hosting for what will probably be the last time today. Even though we're down to just a few recipes remaining, there were several that caught my eye.
I ended up choosing these strawberry rhubarb preserves because they were somewhat seasonal and because I'm obsessed with the combination of strawberries and rhubarb lately. I think it wound up being just a tad too early for good, juicy strawberries except in a few lucky areas of the country. Mine were decent, but definitely not on par with the ones that'll be available in a month or two. Fresh rhubarb also proved tricky to find. I thought I remembered it appearing in stores in April last year but perhaps it was May. I did find some at Whole Foods, but I only bought a little because it was pretty expensive. Luckily, they also had frozen rhubarb so I used that in combination with the fresh for this recipe.
We've made the master preserve recipe from this book a few times now and I just love its simplicity. You just throw everything in a pot and cook until it breaks down and thickens. There's no need to worry about buying pectin (which is basically a thickener); instead apples are used as they are a natural source of pectin. The recipe calls for a candy thermometer, but I honestly think you could make it without one - just use the tip in the recipe below to stick a spoonful in the freezer and check the consistency once cool. Mine took about 45 minutes to an hour to thicken up. You won't hear me say this very often because I have a major sweet tooth, but I think I may cut back on the sugar in this recipe next time. Even for me it seemed a little overly sweet. Otherwise, it was great, and so versatile - spread it on toast, scones or muffins or even bake with it. I've already put a little stash aside so I can adapt this awesome recipe for raspberry squares.
Many thanks to everyone who participated this week! You can see the other members' results here.
Strawberry Rhubarb Preserves
from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy
4 cups sliced fresh strawberries
4 cups sliced rhubarb
2 cups peeled and cubed Granny Smith apples (about 2-3 apples cut into 1/4 - 1/2-inch pieces)
2 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons orange zest
Combine all of the ingredients in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat and cook the mixture until it registers 212 F on a candy thermometer, stirring frequently. The fruit will break down as it cooks; you can also mash it slightly if desired. After the preserves reach 212 F, continue to cook for about 30 minutes more, or until they are thick. To verify you have the correct consistency, you can place a spoonful of the preserves on a small plate and pop in the freezer until cool. The preserves should be quite thick - if they're runny, you need to cook them a little longer.
Cool the preserves to room temperature then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 6 months.
Makes about 4 cups
Cinnamon rolls are one of my very favorite breakfast indulgences. Sticky buns are up there too if you skip the pecans. Can I still call them sticky buns without the nuts? In any case, they're both right up my alley - enriched dough loaded with cinnamon and brown sugar goodness baked until soft and gooey - yum! It doesn't get much better than that in my opinion. I like to make them almost as much as I love eating them. There's something so satisfying about working the dough, shaping the rolls, watching them rise and then peeking into the oven to see them turning golden brown, knowing you're oh so close to finally enjoying the fruits of your labor. The only problem is that the yeast dough they're made with does require a little bit of advance planning. You can't decide you're craving a cinnamon roll or sticky bun and make them from start to finish in less than an hour. Unfortunately, it just doesn't work that way.
For that reason, I was so intrigued when I saw these cookies. They seemed like a nice compromise - gooey and rich sticky buns in cookie form that are quick and easy to prep and bake. Plus they're mini, and mini treats are just fun. I made some with the pecans and some without; they turned out great both ways. The rough dough was surprisingly easy to roll and cut. You won't be able to pinch the ends of the dough when you roll it the way you might with a yeast recipe (at least I couldn't) but don't worry about that - they'll be fine in the oven. Once baked, the outside of the cookies is firm, but when you bite in you'll discover a rich, tender center. They're the perfect little bite of sweetness, and I'll warn you now that it's all too easy to mindlessly grab one after another if you're not paying attention :)
Sticky Pecan Bites
from Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich
24 pecan halves
1 cup (4.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup (3.5 oz) packed brown sugar (I used light brown)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Preheat oven to 400 F and place a rack in the lower third. Spray a mini muffin pan with cooking spray. Add one pecan half to each well of the prepared pan - top down.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the heavy cream to the bowl and use a rubber spatula to stir the cream into the flour mixture. Mix only until the dough comes together and the dry ingredients are moistened - it will be a rough dough. Let the dough rest for 3 minutes and in the meantime, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a 12x7-inch rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Spread the softened butter over the dough, sprinkle it with a pinch of salt and then scatter the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture evenly (no need to leave a border - sprinkle all the way to the edges. Starting at a short end, roll the dough up tightly. Stretch the roll gently to lengthen it. Cut into 24 equal pieces and place one in each well of the muffin pan (on top of the pecan halves).
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately turn the cookies out onto a piece of parchment paper. The cookies are best served the day they're made.
I'm always intrigued when I flip through a cookbook and find a childhood treat that's been reinvented by a chef. That was definitely the case when I came across this recipe for rice krispie treats in Joanne Chang's Flour. Of all the numerous desserts a chef could include in their cookbook, it surprises me (in a good way!) that such a simple snack makes the cut, and I know there must be something special about the recipe. The ingredient list here is short but there are two things that stand out. First, the butter is browned. I've yet to find anything that doesn't get better when you include browned butter, and these treats are no exception - they definitely have a deeper flavor than the childhood version. The recipe also calls for a vanilla bean, and while I loved seeing the little specks of the bean throughout the finished bars, you could absolutely substitute vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste if you wanted since vanilla beans aren't exactly cheap. The intro to this recipe in the book mentions that these rice krispie treats have become a signature item at the bakery and now I understand why. They're a great take on a classic childhood treat - similar enough that you'll recognize them immediately, but with a more grown-up taste. I sent them to work with Shane and they disappeared quickly at his office.
Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats
from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery & Cafe by Joanne Chang
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 vanilla bean (or substitute 1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
2 10-oz bags marshmallows
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
9 cups crispy rice cereal
Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Add the butter to a large saucepan set over low heat. (I used a 4.5 qt pan and I recommend something even bigger.) Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pan with the butter. The butter will melt then begin to bubble and foam. Eventually it will start to turn brown and smell nutty - be patient and watch carefully, it can go from brown to burned quickly. Once the butter is browned, add all of the marshmallows and the salt. Stir the mixture constantly until the marshmallows are completely melted.
Turn off the heat under the pan and add the cereal. Use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to coat the cereal evenly with the buttery, marshmallow liquid. Spread the mixture in an even layer in the prepared baking pan. Let cool for at least an hour before cutting and serving.
You can store the treats in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days.
As I promised on Monday, today I'm sharing the challah I used to make the chocolate mascarpone stuffed french toast. I absolutely loved this loaf of bread. Beyond being delicious, the braided look of the loaf is just so pretty. Shaping bread is one of the hardest parts of making it for me, and frankly, often a deterrent. While this braided loaf may seem complicated, it's honestly one of the easier breads I've made, and yet, still so impressive I think! The loaf is comprised of two separate braids, which are stacked on top of one another and secured with an egg wash. The loaf is baked until the outside is nicely browned; inside it's a pale yellow color thanks to the egg yolks in the dough. It makes fantastic french toast, but you might have to set aside a few slices if that's your plan, because this is the kind of bread that'll have you walking to the kitchen grabbing one slice after another when it's fresh from the oven.
If you haven't made bread before, this one is still very doable. The dough comes together beautifully and is very nice to work with - soft and not too sticky. When I was learning to make bread, I always wondered how to tell when the dough had risen enough, had it doubled in size? They sell buckets with markings on the side so you can see that the volume has doubled, but I don't have one so here's the trick I use: when you think the dough has doubled (using the time estimate provided by the recipe as a guideline), use two fingers to make an indentation in the dough. If the indentation remains, you can move on with the recipe. If the dough springs back and the indentation disappears, your dough needs more rising time. One other tip for this recipe - if you have trouble pinching the ends of the dough together while making your braids, put a little water on your fingertips and try again. Mine weren't sticking together well but the water solved the problem for me.
This bread has a definite wow factor, I hope you'll give it a try. Your friends and family will be impressed and no one has to know it's so easy :)
from America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
1/2 cup water water (about 110 F)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk (save the white for the glaze)
3-3 1/2 cups (15-17 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 large egg white
2 tablespoons water
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, whisk together 3 cups of the flour, sugar, yeast and salt. In a 2-cup measuring cup, whisk the warm water, melted butter, eggs and egg yolk. With the mixer on low, slowly add the water mixture and mix until a rough dough forms. Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl, but stick to the bottom. If the dough is too sticky, add the remaining flour a little at a time until the proper consistency is achieved. Remove the dough and shape into a ball.
Coat a large bowl lightly with oil, and add the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 2 pieces, one twice as big as the other. For example, my ball of dough weighted 27 oz so I divided into an 18 oz piece and a 9 oz piece. Divide each of those 2 pieces into 3 equal sized pieces. Roll each piece into a rope that is 16 inches long. You'll have three thicker ropes from the large piece of dough and three thinner ropes from the smaller piece.
Grab the 3 thicker ropes. Pinch the ends together and braid the strands by crossing the strand on the right side over the center one and then the one on the left side over the center.
Continue until the strands are braided to the bottom then pinch the ends together. Repeat with the 3 thinner strands to form a second, smaller braid.
Beat the egg white and water together to form the egg wash. Transfer the larger braid to a sheet of parchment paper set in a rimmed baking sheet. Brush the top of the braid with the egg wash then place the smaller braid on top and press gently to secure it. Tuck the ends under on both sides of the loaf.
Cover the loaf with greased plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until just about doubled in size, about 45-75 minutes. Meanwhile, set a rack in the lower middle position and preheat your oven to 375 F. When the loaf has risen, brush liberally with the remaining egg wash mixture then bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the loaf has browned and an instant read-thermometer inserted in the center registers 200 F.
Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the bread rest for 15 minutes, then transfer the loaf to the rack to cool for about 2 hours before serving.
Fruit crisps have always been one of my favorite desserts. I love their rustic simplicity - a layer of fruit topped with a brown sugar/oat mixture all baked until hot and bubbling. It's kind of like pie, only better, because I don't have to make pie crust and fuss with rolling it out :) I usually gravitate toward apple crisp but I was pretty excited about our recipe for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie, which featured strawberries and rhubarb. Last spring I tried rhubarb for the first time and while it's a bit too tart for me on its own, it's beyond delicious when paired with strawberries. Leave it to Dorie to find a way to improve the simple crisp without complicating it - this recipe calls for pressing half of the brown sugar/oat mixture into the bottom of the pan before adding the fruit and sprinkling the rest on top - genius!
I quartered the recipe (well, mostly - I eyeballed more than one ingredient for the fruit layer) and in addition to the ramekin pictured, I had enough filling for a second smaller ramekin. There wasn't quite enough of the crust/topping mixture for both ramekins - the smaller one got a sprinkling on top only. As usual, I also skipped the nuts. The full recipe had a baking time of about 60 minutes, but my minis only needed 20. Fruit crisps absolutely have to be served with ice cream in my opinion and I went with a scoop of vanilla bean on these.
These crisps were perfect in my book; I wouldn't change a thing. They're equally great for dessert or breakfast. I only wish I'd made the full recipe and stashed a bit in my freezer for another time. Many thanks to Sarah of Teapots and Cakestands who hosted this week. You can find the recipe for the crisp on her blog, or on pages 420-421 of Baking: From My Home to Yours.
A few weeks ago I was watching Food Network on a Sunday morning and I saw one of the chefs make french toast and stuff it with a creamy, decadent chocolate mascarpone mixture. If I'd had the ingredients on hand, there's a good chance I would have whipped it up immediately it looked so good! I see recipes on tv all the time that I want to try, but usually I forget about them after a few days. Not this one though, it stuck with me.
I love all french toast, but this is definitely my favorite variation to date. When I got started, I was a bit worried that the texture might be a problem - eggy bread stuffed with a creamy mixture and bathed in an egg/milk mixture? The probability for some sogginess seemed high. That didn't end up being the case at all, though; the bread was tender, but not soggy. I've always been a big fan of chocolate and strawberries together, and the addition of mascarpone here adds the perfect level of creaminess. The dish is rich, and while I'd gladly eat it for breakfast, I think it might be an even bigger hit at brunch, maybe for Mother's Day?
I'd originally planned to buy a loaf of challah at the store to make this bread, but when I couldn't find it at the first two stores I visited, I decided it'd be easier to make my own rather than keep driving around town searching. I was really, really happy with the recipe I used - it was easy and the bread was delicious. I'm planning to share it later this week so if you can hold out a few days, you can make your own bread and then use the leftovers for this french toast. You definitely don't have to use challah but I would stick with something thick and substantial - brioche would probably be nice, and since it's such a rich, buttery bread it is going to up the decadence factor of this dish even more :)
Chocolate Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast with Strawberry Topping
filling from Anne Thornton via FoodNetwork.com, french toast from Annie's Eats (via The Best New Recipe),
topping from Martha Stewart
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons sugar (use less if your berries are very sweet)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Combine the berries, sugar and lemon juice in a medium bowl then cover and let macerate at room temperature for 1 hour.
1/2 cup mascarpone, at room temperature
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon sugar
1 oz semisweet chocolate
Add the chocolate to a small microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30 second bursts on 50% power, stirring in between, until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool. Combine the mascarpone, heavy cream, orange zest and sugar in a small bowl. Add the cooled chocolate and stir to incorporate.
4 slices day-old challah bread, each about 3/4-inch thick
1 large egg
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Take one slice of bread and turn it so the bottom edge is facing up at you. Cut a pocket with a sharp knife, leaving the edges and top of the bread intact. Repeat with each slice of bread, then fill each pocket with about 1/4 of the filling mixture. (You could probably stretch the filling for 5 or 6 pieces of bread if you wanted.)
Set a large skillet over medium heat. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk the egg and milk together. Whisk in the melted butter and vanilla then the flour and salt, mixing until smooth. One at a time, add the filled slices of bread to the mixture and soak for about 30 seconds per side. Let the excess drip off, then transfer to a plate. Repeat for all slices of bread.
Spray the heated pan with nonstick cooking spray (you could also use butter if you want). Add the bread to the pan in a single layer and cook until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining slices of bread. Serve with powdered sugar and strawberry topping.