Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

Whenever I run low on groceries (ie real food with actual nutrients), I always manage to have just enough supplies left to bake something that goes against everything healthy I *should* eat. It might take a bit of searching and tweaking of recipes, but I always come up with something.

However, I’m now starting to run low on baking supplies.  Unbelievable right? I’m down to my last bit of flour, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. And I have absolutely NO MILK or chocolate. The current state of my cabinets really puts a kink in any baking desires I might have. But you know what doesn’t require much flour or any chocolate? Brownies!

I can never go wrong with my alterations to Best Cocoa Brownies from Une Gamine dans la Cuisine. And who would say no to a cheesecake mixture swirled into them? Not me, that’s for sure. While the original recipe for the Cheesecake Brownies from Buns in my Oven was still amazing when I made them a couple months ago, this combination is truly a winner.

These brownies became infinitely fudgier overnight. When I first cut into them a couple hours after they came out of the oven, they seemed cakier than I wanted. However, after sitting for the night they transformed into brownie bliss. I wouldn’t say no to more of the cream cheese mixture (perhaps I’ll swirl less next time), but other wise I’m in love, and I think my friends will be too.

While I would love if I could survive on these, it might be a good idea to drag myself away from the pan long enough to go up to Trader Joe’s so I can get some real food.

Attack of the Chocolate Chip!

Recently I was absolutely craving a sweet but salty chocolate chip cookie. I couldn’t get this treat out of my mind, partially since it had been forever since I made a good batch of them. I tried to replicate the ones I made in April, hoping for that same “best batch EVER” thought as I devoured them. I don’t know what exactly made those cookies so much better than whenever I usually make them, and I still don’t know. It was probably how I combined the sugar and eggs and “whipped” them a bit more than usual, but I did the same thing with these and I just wasn’t feeling it after they were done.

I would love to take a baking science class to learn all about these different reactions and what causes what, but I suppose I could learn the very same things through trial and error and reading up on it online. I just think it would be a fun class to take, knowing me and my love for details.

Before I put anything in the oven I thought the dough itself was really good–just what I was looking for to appease my craving. However, once they came out of the oven they just tasted . . . off. In the moment it tasted like a brown sugar issue, but I wasn’t postitive. This whole not knowing thing did not mesh very well with my usual need to know every tiny detail, so needless to say I was slightly miffed.

You wouldn’t really know by looking at them that I wasn’t entirely thrilled with these cookies, but that’s the truth. They seemed promising in the dough phase, but the final product just did not meet expectations. This dud will also teach me to deviate from my usual Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips. My chocolate chip cookies will never have Trader Joe’s chips in them again. I don’t mind these chocolate chips for other things, but after years of a good thing, why change the combination? While I love Trader Joe’s from the bottom of my heart, I’m just not as huge a fan of their chocolate chips in my tried and true cookies.

However, this chip ban had not quite come into effect before I made the Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars from Two Peas and Their Pod. I really enjoyed these bars, and I’m going to keep them in mind if I want chocolate chip cookies but just don’t want to do all the batches. Another win for me!

They may have taken forever in the oven, but it was well worth it. The edges and outsides were crispy and crunchy while the insides remained chewy and delicious.

The recipe yielded SO MANY BARS. The 24 bars were a bit of an overkill, which I should have thought about before I made the entire recipe. I was still trying to finish off strawberry lemon bars from the week before, and in fact I had to take the fruity bars out of the pan so I could use it for these cookie bars. That should have clued me into the fact that I really didn’t need another 9×13 pan of baked goods. Oh well. What’s done is done and everything eventually disappeared, whether it was by my eating it or pushing it on my friends whenever I could.

Aren’t I the greatest friend? 😛

Oh yeah, GAELIC FOOTBALL WAS GREAT last Sunday! Unfortunately we found out when we got to the field that we had to pay $10 to get in, a fact that was NO WHERE on the website. It’s still a good deal, though, because $10 gets you a hurling game and two football games, if you’re willing to stay there from 2:00 to 6:30ish. We were originally only going to go to the 5:00 game, but we got there so early that we went to the 3:30 game and stayed through the 5:00 game as well. The games weren’t nearly as brutal as I was hoping, but the second game made up for it, being better than the first one.

(Cavan, pronounced “Cah-vahn”)

On another note, one of the men near us (as well as a good chunk of the crowd) was rooting for Cork to win in the second game and even went so far as to say (in his wonderful Irish accent) that “There’ll be Kerry blood tonight!” I was certainly laughing by the end of the game when in fact Cork did NOT win. GO KERRY! It was such a close game at points, and it was absolutely a nail-biter at the end.

(Armagh, pronounced “Ar-mahh”)

Cavan won the first game and Kerry won the second game. The results were rather surprising because both of these teams had slow starts and it seemed like the other teams would win during most of the games.

I’m definitely going back another afternoon, but I’m just not sure when yet. If I don’t go back in August I’m DEFINITELY going back for the games the Sunday after classes start. That’ll be a fantastic afternoon with the teams that are playing. I just hope if I bring one of my friends that I can get her to leave, what with all the young Irish men and their accents surrounding us. I know I was quite pleased with the afternoon based on that fact alone.

Citrus!

Once again I have fallen desperately behind in updating here, but at least I have a tiny excuse. I’ve actually been out *gasp* HAVING FUN! I can hardly believe it myself, seeing as how I can be a right shut-in most of the time. It’s been an amazing few weeks, and thankfully all this fun hasn’t been breaking the bank too badly. It’s astonishing what you can do when you make the plans in advance and stick to them. I just wish I could say the same about posting, but I’m just glad I’ve even been able to get pictures because all of my baked goods have been disappearing rather quickly as of late.

Three weeks ago for a 4th of July “celebration” I made the Margarita Cupcakes I found on Beantown Baker’s blog. These cupcakes almost didn’t get made because I had no clue what I was doing when I was in the liquor store. It was an entirely new experience for me and not one I’d like to repeat any time in the near future, thank you very much.

They came together and baked up quickly and with little hassle. If anything the longest process was zesting and juicing the limes. I slightly overestimated how many I would need for these cupcakes and the accompanying watermelon “margaritas” (don’t ask . . . it was bad), and as a result I still have four limes sitting in my fridge.

I liked these cupcakes without the added tequila. It turned out to be a really good lime cupcake with a nice crumb; it was sturdy and spongey. I’m definitely going to keep the plain base in mind for future white cake baking endeavors.

Unfortunately for myself I couldn’t finish the remaining cupcakes so I sent them along with my suitemate so she could give them to some friends. While this was an enjoyable baking experience, I just don’t think alcoholic cupcakes will remain in my repertoire, not just because the alcohol is expensive (I’d MUCH rather spend that money on new pans or high-quality chocolate), but because after just one cupcake I had a raging headache. This happens every time I have the slightest bit of any sort of alcohol, and I think it’s stupid to put myself through hours of pain (even with Advil) to consume something I don’t even enjoy (even if it’s a part of something I enjoy).

In other citrus news, I also recently made Strawberry Lemonade Bars from The Baker Chick. I loved this bar base, so if ever I made lemon bars again, I will definitely stick with it. Unlike other recipes I’ve tried, this bar didn’t even come close to sticking to the bottom of the pan–well, except for one bar, but I’m blaming that on the friend trying to get it out.

I ended up adding way more than the 1/2 cup of pureed strawberry the recipe called for, and the strawberry flavor was still extremely faint, at least to me. The lemon still overpowered it, even though I added about a quarter cup less lemon juice than it called for. I’m not sure if the strawberry is meant to be overpowered and it’s just used for color, but I certainly expected some sort of strawberry flavor.

All in all it was a good bar, but the recipe made so many that I only just finished off the last of them, even with a considerable bit of help from friends.

Speaking of friends, two of us are seeing our first-ever GAELIC FOOTBALL GAME TOMORROW! We’re heading up to Gaelic Park in the Bronx to check out “Little Ireland”/Woodlawn and we’re going to catch a game while we’re up there. If only I had known about the league before this summer, I would have definitely gone to a game or two before this.

How Many Ways Can I Use Cinnamon?

I just want to reiterate that I LOVE cinnamon; without a doubt, it’s my favorite spice/flavor. I’m always looking for ways to consume it, be it via cinnamon rolls, a sprinkling in my hot cocoa, cookies, anything.

I have a go-to cinnamon roll recipe, but even though it only takes about 90 minutes from start to finish, I still find baking them to be a messy hassle and not worth it for how often I crave them. Enter Cinnamon Roll Pancakes from Recipe Girl!

They’re pure heaven on a plate, that’s the only way to describe them. The cinnamon swirl cooks up and becomes crusty and delicious, spreading all over the pancake and creating a wonderfully crystallized coating.

The first  time I made them I decided against topping them with the glaze. They were perfect plain, and even though Recipe Girl highly recommends the glaze, it seemed like overkill when I topped them with it the second time I made them.

One issue I had with this recipe came up when I actually flipped the pancakes to cook the swirled side. More often than not the swirl would seep out from the pancake and start to burn in my pan. A few times that led to some smoking and burning, with me begging and pleading with the pan to not get too smokey and burned. I ended up rinsing out the pan after each pancake in order to avoid this, but that made the whole process take a lot longer than I anticipated, since I had to wait for the pan to heat up again each time.

The final results were entirely worth this slight hassle, and I think I’ve found the perfect substitute for when I want cinnamon rolls but don’t want to make a giant mess with flour all over the counter. The almost instant gratification with these isn’t so bad either, which is perfect for my impatient self.

And because this wasn’t enough cinnamon, I also tried my hand at a new Snickerdoodle recipe from Smitten Kitchen. This is probably the best one I’ve tried out so far, so I’ll stick with it if I want snickerdoodles in the future.

They went over really well when I brought them to a party at work, however they didn’t all disappear and so I brought the remainder home. For some reason they didn’t all get eaten immediately, but that was actually a blessing in disguise.

These cookies stay soft for SO LONG. I only had them in a ziploc bag, but they stayed fresh and delicious for more than a week. I’ve never experienced this with cookies before, and I wish I knew what was so special about them to have this result. For this reason alone–never mind that they’re delicious–these snickerdoodles get a top-notch rating and my wholehearted recommendation to everyone.