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!

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I made: Classic birthday cupcakes

I have this long list of “classic desserts” to practice.  Basically in the event that I ever make it onto a baking reality show, I’ll have at least a few classic recipes under my belt.  One of these is the traditional yellow birthday cake with chocolate frosting.  Unfortunately there just aren’t really a TON of occasions where it makes sense to bake someone a full on cake; cupcakes are a lot more appropriate, so that’s what I went for.

I used, again, a Kitchn recipe, which was good for the cake part itself.  I have some quibbles with the frosting (see more commentary below).

First, the cake!  Pretty simple:

  • Preheat oven to 350F and prep cake pans (or cupcake liners, in my case).
  • Cream 8 tbsp room temp butter with 1.5 cups granulated sugar, for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Add 3 large eggs until mixed.
  • Combine dry ingredients: 2 1/4 cups flour, 1 tsp fine salt, 3.5 tsp baking powder, and mix into butter/sugar mixture.  Then add 1 1/4 cups milk and 1 tsp vanilla extract.  (I used buttermilk.)
  • Beat for about 3 minutes, scraping down as needed.
  • Fill the cake/cupcake pans and bake 25-30 minutes for round cakes, less for cupcakes (maybe 18? It’s been a while… I don’t remember how long I baked them.)
  • Cool for 15 minutes then remove from pans to finish cooling.

Next, the frosting:

  • Beat together 1.5 sticks room temp butter, 2 tbsp mayo, and 1/3 cup Rich Chocolate Ovaltine powder until mixed, about 1 minute.
  • Add 2.5 cups powdered sugar, about 1/2 cups at a time, until fully mixed.
  • Add 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp fine salt.
  • The recipe also suggests adding 2 oz melted chocolate (optional).  I didn’t do this and I regret it.
  • Beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  • Frost cakes/cupcakes when cooled.

OVERALL:

  • The cake recipe is good and tastes good.  I think I overfilled the cupcakes.  There’s a LOT of baking powder in this recipe and with the substitution of buttermilk, they rose a lot.  I had spillover on almost every cupcake and they came out messily as a result (but a tasty mess).
  • The frosting recipe is weird.  I don’t know if other people like Ovaltine more than me or what, but I found it off-putting and strange.
  • Also, there’s not nearly enough frosting.  At least for cupcakes.  I ran out and had to mix up a last-minute batch of cream cheese frosting to finish almost half of them.
  • The good news: I finally figured out which frosting tip got the effect I desired, which is something I’ve been working on through trial-and-error for months!  I’m still learning about using frosting/decorating tips, but I’m glad I figured this problem out.  (It’s the biggest size closed star tip, by the way.)  I also used again the trick where you mix a few different sprinkle types together, for a fun, more customized look.
  • Not gonna lie, I also wanted to make cupcakes specifically to use my cool new traveling cake/cupcake carrier.  Check it out.

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NEXT TIME:

  • Definitely a usable cake/cupcake recipe, although be careful about the rise.
  • I probably wouldn’t bother redoing the frosting normally, but I do have this whole thing of Ovaltine now, so I guess I might as well try again, to get the proportions right.  I would try mixing in the melted chocolate as suggested.  Also maybe only use half the amount of Ovaltine recommended and replace the other half with cocoa powder?
  • Also, double the frosting recipe.

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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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