I re-made: Brownies

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This is the same recipe that I tried previously.  I did a few things differently:

  • I added 1 tsp of espresso powder.  Results: not a noticeable coffee flavor, but it’s possible it enriched the chocolate flavor.  Would try again, but increase amount.
  • Baked in a smaller pan with the goal of creating taller brownies.  Results: the edge pieces were tall, but the center pieces rose and then collapsed like a cake does.
  • Used an electric hand mixer instead of just manually stirring it on the stove.  Results: much less sore arm.

Overall: these are still really amazing brownies and I would again recommend this as a great recipe.

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I made: Roll-out chocolate chip cookies

Just another quick mini-post today.  This is a good recipe for a crumbly, shortbread-like cookie that bakes well and isn’t overly fussy.  Because it does have chips in it, I would not recommend using an especially intricate cookie cutter for this particular recipe; however, it worked fine for the crescent moons, and I imagine would be similarly fine for circles, hearts, stars, snowmen, anything else that doesn’t have too many twists or turns.  They taste really good and are buttery and keep well for several days.

I made: Peanut butter cut-out cookies with chocolate ganache

This is a continuation of my search for good cookie-cutter cookie recipes.  The brownie roll-out cookies from last month were a good start, and I was feeling up for something a little more fancy last night!  So my dinosaur cookie cutters from Sur Le Table + this recipe were next on the list.

The cookie recipe is pretty straightforward:

  • Beat together 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, 6 tbsp softened butter, 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, 1/3 cup light corn syrup, and 1 large egg.
  • Add in 1 cup flour, 1.5 tsp baking powder, and 1/8 tsp salt.
  • Add in the last 1 cup flour.
  • Divide the dough in half and roll out between sheets of waxed paper.  Refrigerate the dough for 45 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cut out cookies in desired shapes.  Reroll scraps and cut.
  • Bake for at least 9 minutes.  Let cool on sheets for 2 minutes, then remove to cool.

While cookies are cooling, prepare chocolate ganache:

  • Heat 1/2 cup heavy cream in microwave-safe bowl for 45 seconds.
  • Add 1 1/4 cups chocolate chips (which equals 7.75 ounces according to a converter I used, if you have bar chocolate instead of chips).  Stir for 1-2 minutes or so.
  • You might need to microwave again for 15 seconds or so.  The ganache should be creamy and smooth.  Let it sit for about 5 minutes then spoon/brush onto the cookies.
  • Top with sprinkles or whatever.

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OVERALL:

  • These cookies are good and taste good.
  • I didn’t have milk chocolate chips as suggested.  I used a mixture of milk and semisweet bar chocolate.  So it was a little more adult.  For dinosaur cookies.
  • I had leftover toasted coconut from several months ago that I found in the freezer, so obviously I put those on some of the cookies.  They were even better than the plain sprinkles cookies.
  • The dino cookie cutters are harder to use than the Texas-shaped ones.  I ended up working it out, but it required a slightly thicker cookie roll-out than I had been intending.
  • Also, this recipe says to refrigerate for 45 minutes but that is DUMB.  This dough needs to be refrigerated for at least 2 hours and probably overnight would be better.  I kept having to put it back into the fridge and it was leaving butter grease everywhere.  Much more of a pain than it needed to be.
  • I turned down the oven to 325 and baked for 10 minutes instead of 9 minutes at 350 because I was afraid of overly crisping up the dinosaur tail and feet.  This worked fine.

NEXT TIME:

  • Mainly the refrigerating thing.
  • Okay also.  I’m not gonna lie, the dino cookies are cute.  But at the end, I got tired of rerolling and cutting them, so I just made five ball-shaped cookies and baked them for 15 minutes.  They were WAY BETTER than the rolled out ones tbh.  I didn’t even get a picture because my husband and I ate them all first.

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In conclusion, these are good roll-out cookies and a definite addition to the repertoire.  I’m still messy at decorating with ganache, that’s something to work on for sure!

I made: Chili chocolate cupcakes!

One of the best things about posting pictures of stuff you bake on social media is that on your birthday, people give you cookbooks!  I basically doubled my cookbook library last month (it was not large to begin with haha).  Anyway, one of the books was a cupcake specific cookbook.  It has lots of fun ideas in it and this chili chocolate concept seemed promising.

I don’t have the recipe on me right now, but basically it was a simple chocolate cake recipe with added chili powder and cayenne pepper.  Then the frosting recipe was a chocolate buttercream with cinnamon.  (I’ll try and update with full details when I get back home to the cookbook.)

OVERALL:

  • My husband and father in law REALLY loved these.  I was unsure how I felt about them at first, but by the second day I decided I also liked them a lot.
  • Kudos to my husband for the idea of sprinkling with red sugar.
  • They make a really dense, almost brownie-like cake.
  • Either I’m getting better at judging how much batter to pour, or these cupcakes just don’t rise as much as others (maybe both).  I didn’t have the messy problem that I often have with cupcakes overflowing during the bake.
  • Check out that crackle.

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NEXT TIME:

  • Make a little bit more frosting than recommended, or don’t be quite so generous – I ran out of frosting and had to leave three cupcakes naked.
  • Try mini cupcakes maybe?
  • Honestly this was a really solid recipe, doesn’t need a ton of tweaks.

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I made: Brownie roll-out cookies!

Just a mini-update today as I don’t have time to do a full write-up but I do want to record these before I forget.  The motivation for this bake was because we went to Sur Le Table over the weekend and got a bunch of amazing cookie cutters, so I needed to work on my cookie-cutter-cookie recipes.  I got this one from Smitten Kitchen and it is pretty great!

Notes:

  • The recipe itself is perfect and doesn’t need adjusting.
  • These are VERY easy to cut out, even with a fairly intricate cutter.
  • I accidentally froze the dough because I forgot about it and left it overnight, but I just rolled it out the next day and it was still fine.
  • The cookies taste AMAZING fresh out of the oven and are soft and lovely.  They harden up after 24 hours so I’d recommend eating them right away.

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I made: Shortbread chocolate chunk cookies

These are the chocolate chip cookies you make if you want to impress a bunch of grown-ups and disappoint children.  They’re good–but they aren’t what you expect from a chocolate chip recipe.

This is another one of many Smitten Kitchen recipes I’ve saved, which is a resource that so far hasn’t done me wrong!  It’s pretty simple and straightforward.  I chose these cookies because they do best with a two-day process, and I’m trying to explore more recipes like this, so I can bake on weekday evenings without messing up my sleep hygiene.

Day 1: Make & freeze the dough

  • Mix 1 cup plus 2 tbsp softened butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup light brown sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla extract until light and fluffy.  (The recipe calls for salted butter, which I don’t have, so I added 3/4 tsp kosher salt instead.)
  • Add 2 1/4 cups flour and mix until just combined.
  • Add 6 ounces chopped semi- or bittersweet dark chocolate, mix until just combined.
  • Divide dough into 2 parts and shape into logs about 2 inches in diameter, wrap with plastic wrap, and freeze.

Day 2: Bake

  • Preheat oven to 350F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Lightly beat 1 egg.  Take out 1 cookie log, brush with egg, and roll in turbinado sugar.
  • Cut the log into 1/2-inch-thick rounds using a serrated knife (be careful for chocolate chunks).
  • Arrange onto baking sheet and sprinkle with salt.
  • Bake 12-15 minutes, let cool slightly, then transfer to wire racks.

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OVERALL:

  • Like I said, these taste good, sort of strong and chocolatey and salty.  They are very shortbready in texture, so they’re a tiny bit of a pain to cut, but not too bad.  I discovered that simply pressing the knife down, instead of sawing back and forth, was a better method to keep the cookies intact.
  • I also made a dumb mistake!  I saw that the recipe called for 1 egg but I didn’t see that the egg was for brushing the sugar, so I just tossed it into the dough.  It didn’t really do any damage, although it probably made my version a little less shortbready than it would have been otherwise.
  • I didn’t have semisweet chocolate so I used 4 oz extra dark bittersweet chocolate + 2 oz milk chocolate.  It was actually really interesting this way!
  • I froze the logs overnight.  I think it would be fine to freeze for less time, or probably even longer.

NEXT TIME:

  • It would be nice to do the recipe right and not put an egg in it lol.
  • Also would want to try different combos of add-ins.  I kept thinking about toffee.

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I made: Butter cookies dipped in chocolate

I actually made these a week ago, I’m still catching up on this blog.  Since I only baked 2 things in February, I’m not going to do a month-in-review post.  These were pretty good cookies, although I think they were more about how they looked than how they tasted.

I really like looking at Smitten Kitchen for recipe ideas.  She has a nice variety and always has excellent pictures.  The other recipe of hers I’ve actually tried, Classic Brownies, was amazing.  These cookies were good too.  They were almost shortbread-like in flavor, although less crumbly.

Basic recipe:

  • Preheat oven to 350F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Combine 1 cup unsalted butter with 2/3 cup granulated sugar until well blended and light.  Add 2 large egg yolks, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp almond extract and 1/2 tsp fine sea salt and combine.
  • Add 2 cups flour and mix just until flour disappears.
  • Fit a piping bag with a medium french star tip.  Pipe the dough about 1/2 inch wide, 2 inches long, spaced about 1 inch apart.  Bake cookies for 11-13 minutes or until golden.
  • Cool for at least 2 minutes and then remove to cooling rack.

Additions:

  • Melt 10 to 12 ounces of semisweet chocolate in the microwave or carefully on the stove.  Dip each cookie into the chocolate and place back on the baking sheets lined with parchment.
  • Spoon sprinkles over the chocolate.
  • Let cookies cool on at room temp or put into fridge/freezer to speed them along.
  • If you run out of sprinkles, you can use almonds, coconut, whatever!

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OVERALL:

  • I did a few things a little different from the recipe.  First of all, I didn’t want to make jam sandwich cookies, so I completely ignored that part.
  • Second, I added almond extract as suggested as a variation. I really liked it.  I would have added the suggested lemon zest too except I seem to have thrown away all my lemons.  😦
  • I used my yellow silicone re-usable piping bag for these cookies and I. HATED iT.  This cookie dough is too thick and the silicone was not agreeable with it.  My wrists and arms hurt from all the effort.
  • Overall I think these were good, serviceable workhorse cookies.  I don’t know if anybody would ever put them in their “favorites” list, but they were cute and simple, and people at home and at work seemed to like them.

NEXT TIME:

  • If I were going to do these again, I would try one of the plastic disposable piping bags instead of the silicone.  That was definitely the worst part.
  • I might try making them into jam sandwich cookies although I really don’t feel particularly compelled to.

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