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Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category

Summer has arrived in full force this weekend in DC. The pools are busy with all of the kids who just got out of school, and the temperatures have been in the 90s. For our second anniversary, my parents gave us a gift card to Whole Foods with the instruction to make something special (they know their daughter’s hobbies well). We went to Whole Foods yesterday, and while I had a firm plan for dinner, I knew I wanted to make dessert, but didn’t know what. Feeling the summer spirit, we quickly decided on a fruit crumble with vanilla ice cream. I asked Craig to choose the fruit, and he chose these lovely-looking sweet cherries.

As for a recipe, my favorite crumble recipe is this recipe for strawberry-rhubarb. I recently made the original dish for a wedding where the bride asked all who wanted to to make a pie for the reception (which was an excellent idea, by the way – much tastier than cake), so the foolproof nature of this recipe was on the top of my mind. For last night, I wanted to make the crumble in individual ramekins with my cherries, so I adapted it quite a bit. I am happy to say this was a success, and I am now thinking about all of the other summer fruits that would be good this way. Peaches are very high on the list – I can’t wait until they make their way up here from Georgia and South Carolina…

Individual Sweet Cherry Crumbles (makes 4)

ingredients

  • pitted and halved sweet cherries, to make 4 cups (1 quart). This took about half of the semi-standard-sized grocery store bag of cherries for me.
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour (this is the same as 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. if that’s easier)
  • 6 Tbsp. old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar (dark or light – I only had light, but I think dark would be really good in this)
  • 3 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into 6 chunks, plus more for greasing the ramekins

directions

  1. Butter the insides of 4 individual ramekins and place them on a baking sheet for ease of handling. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. Combine the prepared cherries, sugar (you can add more or less sugar depending on the sweetness of the cherries), and lime juice in a small bowl. Toss to coat the cherries. Add the cornstarch and stir well, so that the cornstarch is mostly dissolved in the juices from the cherries.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, oats, and brown sugar. Add the butter and cut it into the flour mixture. You can use a pastry blender, but Emeril suggests just using your hands, and I have found this to be the fastest and easiest. The topping is ready when the mixture is in fairly uniform pea-sized crumbles and there is very little loose flour.
  4. Distribute the cherries evenly between the 4 ramekins. Top each ramekin with the crumble mixture, leaving a few small spots of cherry sticking out so that they will caramelize (you may have a little leftover topping). Transfer the baking sheet with the ramekins to the oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the top is golden brown. Let cool (at least slightly!), and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Note: If you don’t have individual ramekins, you can certainly bake this in one pan, but I am not 100% sure what size would work well. I suspect that an 8″ square pan might be the ideal size.

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chipsters

You may or may not remember my brother from my Kung Pao shrimp post about a year ago. Well, in the past year, my brother graduated from college and moved to Alaska for a position with the Alaska Army National Guard. For the summer, though, he is working in a resort kitchen – skills that will no doubt come in handy when he gets his own apartment next month. I wanted to send him some love, so I made these cookies to ship up to him. Since I knew they would take about 4 days to get there even with expedited mail, I needed a cookie that could stand up to several days in transit. One of my internet friends suggested this recipe, and these cookies came out great. They had lovely flavor from the fresh nutmeg and cinnamon, and the peanut butter was not too overwhelming. I will definitely be making these again in the future. Oh, and by the way, they apparently stood up to the shipping fairly well and were enjoyed thoroughly – see the bottom picture below!

Chocolate chip – peanut butter chipsters

Source: Dorie Greenspan via Proceed with Caution

ingredients

3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup peanut butter–chunky or smooth (but not natural) (I used smooth)
1 cup sugar
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks, or 1 1/2 cups store-bought chocolate chips or chunks (I used Ghirardelli semisweet chips)

directions

Getting Ready:
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats. (My oven is very small – I had to bake one batch at a time).

Whisk together the oats, flour, baking soda, spices and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, beating only until blended. Mix in the chips. If you have the time, cover and chill the dough for about 2 hours or for up to one day. (Chilling the dough will give you more evenly shaped cookies.) (I chilled it for about 4 hours).

If the dough is not chilled, drop rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto the baking sheets. If the dough is chilled, scoop up rounded tablespoons, roll the balls between your palms and place them 2 inches apart on the sheets. Press the chilled balls gently with the heel of your hand until they are about 1/2 inch thick.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 7 minutes.(I definitely found that they were on the longer side of this baking time, even wanting them barely done so that they would stay soft during shipping). The cookies should be golden and just firm around the edges. Lift the cookies onto cooling racks (or my classic – brown paper bags) with a wide metal spatula – they’ll firm as they cool.

Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.

with note

My parents happened to be visiting my brother when the cookies arrived, so my dad took this picture of my brother and my mom opening them. As you can see, I packed wrapped each layer in foil and put them in Gladware. I also put a layer of plastic wrap between each layer.

cookies arrive

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red velvetredvelvet2

I know, another baking post – how weird! I just wanted to let you know about our very color-appropriate Valentine’s treat – red velvet whoopie pies. My desire to make these stemmed from two places – Craig’s recent facination with red velvet, and my love of cream cheese frosting. These pies, of course, combine those two things. These were pretty easy to make, but still one of the more involved among the limited number of baking projects I’ve attempted. They were definitely worth it. The cream cheese icing was delicious, and the cakes were soft, with a subtle cocoa flavor. My only critique was that they had a very, very slight sour taste (not very noticeable at all – everyone who tried these loved them), which could have been either from the buttermilk or from the amount of red food coloring that’s used. I would probably reduce the amount of food coloring next time since they didn’t need that quite much in order to be very red. Craig went to town on these, and I ate 3 in one sitting myself!

My only other tip is to bake these a little longer than you might otherwise think, so that they will be easy to handle. I was paranoid about burning them on the first batch and took them out when they were still a little too soft, probably. This made them harder to handle for frosting them and storing them. I let the next two batches go a little longer, and they were perfect. I will make these again, and I am excited to have such a great cream cheese frosting recipe for other uses, too.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Source: Bridget’s blog (The Way the Cookie Crumbles), cake recipe originally adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

ingredients

Cake:
2 cups (9.5-10 ounces) unbleached flour (I used 2 C. of all-purpose flour)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup (7 ounces) packed light brown sugar
1 egg, preferably room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk, preferably room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring

Filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, softened
2 cups (8 ounces) powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla

directions

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; preheat oven to 375F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (I used my Silpat). In medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

2. In large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium-high speed for 30 seconds, until smooth. Add brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. With mixer at medium speed, add egg and beat until thoroughly combined, then beat in vanilla. Add about one-third of flour mixture followed by half of buttermilk mixture, mixing until incorporated after each addition (about 15 seconds). Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture. Scrape down sides of bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at medium-low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour.

3. Spoon (or pipe) batter in 1-inch diameter rounds about ½-inch high on prepared baking sheets, allowing 1 inch between each round.

4. Bake 7 to 9 minutes, or until tops are set. Cool cookies on cookie sheets.

5. To make filling: Add cream cheese and butter to mixer bowl and beat until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, alternating with vanilla. Beat until smooth.

6. To fill, dollop (or pipe) cream cheese filling on flat sides of half the cookies. Top with remaining cookies, flat sides down.

 

redvelvet3

A perfect treat for your valentine!

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Oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies

cookies

Oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies are, I think, my favorite type of cookie. I love their texture. So, when we decided that we should make more of our cookies ourselves instead of just buying some to put in our lunches every week, I knew I wanted to start with this recipe, which I had seen in Cate’s blog. We got in the kitchen together and whipped up a batch of these. These cookies were delicious – thick and chewy, just how I like them. Craig really liked them, too, although when I asked him what, if anything, he’d change, he said, “Probably cut out the oatmeal.” Oh well! That’s just personal preference, and I will have no problem eating these all by myself if he ever decides to pass on having one (not likely).

Oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies

Source: Cate’s blog

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup dark brown sugar (I used light brown because it was what I had on hand)
2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 12 oz bag chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 F
Beat the butter with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy. (I used a hand mixer on medium-low speed for most of the stirring steps)
Add both sugars and beat until homogeneous.
Stir in vanilla and egg and mix well.
Add flour, baking soda, and salt, and give the bowl a few good stirs. (Here is where I switched to mixing by hand)
Add the oats and chocolate chips, and mix until well-distributed.
Bake on silpat-lined baking sheets until just set and browning on the edges, about 10-12 minutes.
Let cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks (I moved them sooner because I like my cookies less crispy, and I always cool my cookies on brown paper bags since I don’t own wire racks. It’s what my mom always did!)

I will be making up another batch of these soon. Yum!

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coffee cake

 What took me so long on figuring out how great Smitten Kitchen is? I have no idea, but it is a fantastic site. It’s amazing what the author does with a kitchen that is, I dare say, even smaller than mine (although they do have a dishwasher, so her husband has it a little easier than Craig). Anyway, Smitten Kitchen – probably more accurately its photography – inspired me to do something I never do. Bake. When I saw this recipe and realized I had almost a whole tub of sour cream that needed to be used before we left for the holiday, the deal was done. The only problem was that I bought a bag of chocolate chips that was only half the size of the one the recipe called for. Still, I thought the cake was adequately chocolatey, and I can’t imagine it with double the chocolate. Then again, I am one of those weird people who will purposely choose the chocolate chip cookie with only 2 or 3 chips in it, so you might not want to trust me on that. Either way, this cake is delicious and hey, I actually baked!

Chocolate chip sour cream coffee cake

Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen

ingredients

1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
16 ounces sour cream (I had used about 4 or 5 oz. of the sour cream, so I filled in the rest with plain yogurt)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

12 ounces chocolate chips (Yeah, I used 6 oz…)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

 

directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a large bowl, cream butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar, then mix in the egg yolks and vanilla. Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder together into a separate bowl. Alternately add sour cream and then dry ingredients into butter mixture. Beat eggs whites until stiff, then fold into batter. Mix last 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon together in a separate, small dish.

3. In a greased 9x13 pan, pour in half of the cake batter. Sprinkle the top with half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture and half of the chocolate chips. Pour remaining batter on top, sprinkling the top with the remaining cinnamon-sugar and chocolate chips.

4. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

 

Enjoy with coffee!

coffee and cake

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