Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cookie Carnival: Snickerdoodles

Choosing this month's cookie carnival recipe was a group effort. We were given three recipes to vote for, and the humble snickerdoodle won out. My guess is, everybody just wanted to have the fun of typing the word Snickerdoodle this month - I know I did.

Snickerdoodles are a great cookies to share. They are easy to make, no special ingredients are required, and everybody likes them! I made a half batch and took them in to work. I changed up the recipe a bit (we're a butter only household), but the end results were still fabulous.

This is my June entry for the Cookie Carnival hosted by Kate of the Clean Plate Club. Check there to find the round up, and join in on the fun!


1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
1/2 stick butter (4 TBS)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg

1/4 cup brown sugar
1 TBS cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together. In the electric mixer beat the butter and 1/2 cup sugar until fluffy. Add the egg, and beat to combine. Add the dry ingredients and combine.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon. Roll small cookie balls in the sugar mix and flatten onto the cookie sheet.

Bake 10 minutes. Rotating half way through.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Camp Cobbler

This past weekend we took a camping trip, and what better dessert could we come up with than cobbler? Fire roasted cobbler was a great experiment. It was easier than I imagined, and tasty too!

All you have to do, is open can of your fruit of choice (I chose blackberry and cherry - which I mixed together in the can), drain the liquid, and rip off the label. Next, open a package of refrigerated biscuits, cut them in small pieces and roll in brown sugar and cinnamon. Top the can with the biscuit dough and butter, then wrap the whole thing in foil and roast it over hot coals for about 30 minutes. (The time goes quick when you're sitting around the campfire, sharing a few beers with friends).

While this wasn't strictly the TWD recipe for this week, I followed along in spirit and adapted the recipe to fit my activities.

Tuesdays With Dorie

Sorry, no post today. I did make cobbler this week, but I think the recipe it so far from the Dorie original that I will wait to post it tomorrow. We were on a camping trip this week, so I adapted the recipe (quite a bit) to be more travel/fire friendly. Tune in tomorrow to see what delights emerged from this can...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Cream Puffs - Part 2

I hope I don't get kicked out of the club for cheating and posting the rest of my puffs today!

This is another late night post, so you'll have to (again) excuse the quality of my writing and photo-taking.

When I saw this week's recipe, I was so excited to make the cream puffs (it was supposed to be a big cream puff ring, but I'll find any excuse to make cute little individual desserts). I've been asked to prepare a few desserts for a friend's upcoming baby shower, and I think this will be one of them. I love the fact that this can be made in advance, in parts, and assembled at the last minute.

I choose to use Dorie's pastry cream recipe, instead of flavored whipped cream. I was really in the mood for something like custard, and I make whipped cream a lot. I made the cream almond flavored, which went very nicely with the chocolate and toasted almonds on top.

These week's recipe really intimidated me first, but I'm so glad I conquered my fears (and lack of time) and powered through. These were delicious, and so much easier than I thought. Thanks Dorie! Be sure to check out all the TWD participators!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Cream Puffs

Better late than never, right?

Sorry folks, I really wanted to try this recipe, but unfortunately I ran out of time to do it justice. I've never made cream puffs before, the pastry has always been too intimidating.

I waited till the last possible moment to try, and then fortified myself with plenty of beer to get my spirits up to the challenge.

The results? Better than I thought it would be! Especially for a late night cooking experience for this early riser.

I didn't make the cream yet, or the chocolate topping. But I'm pretty happy with how puffs turned out (although a puff without cream, is just a ball of flour, really). Hopefully there will be time tomorrow morning to try the cream and make these babies shine.

Sorry for the funny lighting - it's getting late, and I'm getting sleepy. I assure you, they look much better off camera.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Saturday Morning Inspiration

This morning, while leisurely browsing my favorite blogs, I came across this recipe for yogurt muffins from Catlin, at the Engineer Baker. She adapted her recipe from Clotilde's Gateau au Yaourt.

Since I make my own yogurt, I generally have quite a lot on hand (I make about a gallon at a time). Ergo, I am always on the lookout for other uses. This recipe looked perfect for a simple and satisfying Saturday morning breakfast!

This was a great way to use up some yogurt, and some of the leftover jam I made for the Tuesday's With Dorie strawberry tarts this week.

Yogurt Muffins

(adapted from Engineer Baker, and Chocolate and Zucchini)

2 eggs
1 cup yogurt
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla
blueberries, strawberry jam, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and instant coffee

Preheat the oven to 375° F. In a large mixing-bowl, gently combine the yogurt, eggs, honey, vanilla, and oil. In another bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture into the yogurt mixture, and blend together -- don't overwork the dough.

Divide into two separate bowls, adding a couple handfuls of blueberries and a few spoonfuls of strawberry jam to one.

To the other bowl and 1-2 teaspoons of cocoa powder, a handful of chocolate chips, a handful of chopped walnuts, and 1 teaspoon of dissolved instant coffee.

Put 1/4 cupfuls of the batter into muffin tins, and bake for 20 minutes.

I baked mine in paper muffin cups, but quite a lot of muffin stuck to the cups. I think in the future I might just butter the pan well, and forget about the cups.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: La Palette's Strawberry Tart

This week's recipe couldn't have been better timed with the strawberry season here. We picked up a great little box of freshly picked local strawberry's from the coop the day I decided to put this together.

The recipe is a pretty easy one to throw together, or do ahead in pieces. Essentially the layers are just:
1) a tart crust
2) strawberry jam
3) fresh strawberries
4) cream

I have a lot of friends who are beginning bakers, and i think this would be a great recipe to start honing your culinary skills. I think a lot of people (myself included) see all the rules and regulations of baking as a huge and intimidating obstacle. The way I started learning to cook (and bake) was by using prepared products, like those rice and pasta side dishes where you just add water and microwave. Slowly I started to integrate things I learned to make from scratch. In the course of a few years, I now make just about everything from scratch. I've learned that not only do things from scratch taste better, they're generally cheaper to prepare, and not that much more difficult (albeit time consuming sometimes).

That said, this is a great recipe for someone who wants to start 'baking' but doesn't know where to start. Essentially you could just purchase a prepared crust, strawberry jam, fresh strawberries, and whipped cream and put this together in under half and hour!

Since I've moved past most pre-made products due to taste and budget reasons, I actually made the crust, jam, and cream for this recipe from scratch!

We made a last run to Costco before our membership ran out this week, and one of the impulse buys was a GIANT crate of strawberries. Unfortunately for me, I didn't notice till I got home that none of them were very fresh or attractive looking. Instead of throwing them out, I picked through the good ones and made a nice pot of fresh jam. I haven't learned to do proper canning yet, but making a fresh jam is pretty easy. My method is to chop up fruit, add some sugar, and lemon juice and cook on the stove top until it reduces down to a thick consistency.

The crust was made from Dorie's sweet tart dough recipe. I used whipped cream for the topping, which I whipped up right before serving using a bit of heavy whipping cream and sugar whipped together.

I opted to make single serving tarts since I just bought a set of 4" tart pans this week. These came out great, except the crust kind of fell apart while trying to eat it. I kept wondering if maybe you could make cookie-sized tarts using shortbread cookie dough as the crust, maybe I'll try that next time.

The recipe calls for a sprinkling of black pepper to top these tarts. Although we didn't do this last night, we might try it tonight when we have this dessert again with friends.

Black pepper (Piper nigrum) was originally used, like most herbs and spices, for both medicinal and culinary purposes. In the last few years several studies have been published which examine the use of black pepper as an insecticide (1, 2). This is especially interesting research as we, as a society, are steadily becoming more concerned about the treatment our food receives before it makes it's way to the table. The use of natural insecticides has benefits both for the health of the consumer, and also the growing environment the surrounding flora and fauna are exposed to. Everything is affected by the choices made by the farming community.

This is my weekly submission to Tuesdays with Dorie, hosted by Laurie of quirky cupcake. Be sure check out all the other creations by my fellow TWD bakers. A big thank you to Marie of A Year in Oak Cottage for picking this weeks recipe.

1. Simas NK, Lima Eda C, Kuster RM, Lage CL, de Oliveira Filho AM. Potential use of Piper nigrum ethanol extract against pyrethroid-resistant Aedes aegypti larvae. Rev Soc Bras Med Trop. 2007 Jul-Aug;40(4):405-7.

2. Park IK, Lee SG, Shin SC, Park JD, Ahn YJ. Larvicidal activity of isobutylamides identified in Piper nigrum fruits against three mosquito species. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Mar 27;50(7):1866-70.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: French Chocolate Brownies

On our recent trip to Seattle, one of our favorite treats at the Pike Place Market was the Chukar Cherries.

We bought several bags of the cabernet chocolate cherries as souvenirs for our friends and family.

I guess I had that on the brain when I read the recipe for this week. I thought cherries would be a great replacement for the raisins (which seemed a little odd to me, although I'm sure they would have been delicious).

In going with the Chukar theme, I was hoping to switch the rum with Cabernet, but the googling I did on the subject made it sound like maybe that wasn't the best idea (due to the low alcohol content). I stuck with the rum, but the flame wasn't nearly as exciting as I was hoping for. I also made a few other changes to the recipe due to time constraints and my usual meddling to cut out a bit of the fat and sugar, which I marked in red.

Everybody has heard about the potential health benefits of drinking moderate amounts red wine, but have you ever thought about rum? One study examined two groups of elderly individuals with regards to diet, alcohol consumption (in this case corn wine and rum), and serum lipid levels. They found a correlation between alcohol consumption and increased levels of HDL-C (the good cholesterol) and decreased levels of LDL-C (the bad cholesterol) and total cholesterol.1 While more research is needed in this area to make any definitive statements, it is an interesting study.

This is my weekly submission to Tuesdays with Dorie, hosted by Laurie of quirky cupcake. Be sure check out all the other creations by my fellow TWD bakers. A big thank you to Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook for picking this weeks recipe.

French Chocolate Brownies

- makes 16 brownies -
Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours.


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden (dried cherries)
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (combo semi-sweet and bittersweet)
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces (only 1 stick)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar (only 1/2 cup)

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F.

Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon, if you're using it.

Put the raisins/cherries in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It's important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you've got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it's better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment.

Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you'll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won't be completely incorporated and that's fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan.

Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes(or only 30 minutes at 350), or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.

Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.

1. Ruixing Y, Shangling P, Hong C, Hanjun Y, Hai W, Yuming C, Jinzhen W, Feng H, Meng L, Muyan L. Diet, alcohol consumption, and serum lipid levels of the middle-aged and elderly in the Guangxi Bai Ku Yao and Han populations. Alcohol. 2008 May;42(3):219-29.