Baking

Cream Cheese Peanut Butter Cookies

You want a cookie whose aroma will waft throughout your apartment building? This is your cookie! These Cream Cheese Peanut Butter Cookies came together super quickly, and I eventually got the hang of baking them.

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At first, I didn’t roll the dough into balls before baking, which caused some frustration in not being able to get a decent cross-hatch on top. But by the last four, I rolled the dough into balls and got a lovely little design on each. These last ones also cooked and browned more evenly. So, note to self, don’t just plop the peanut butter cookie dough onto the sheet. Take another minute to get a smooth, evenly browned, cross-hatch-having cookie!

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I didn’t have any sanding sugar like the recipe called for, but I did sprinkle some raw/Turbinado sugar over top each cookie before baking.

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Baking

Black and White Cookies

Everyone has that special thing they do when life gets hard or overwhelming or sad. In my case, I bake. And this week I needed to bake more than ever before. I received some tragic news on Monday, and I couldn’t even make it through the afternoon before making these cookies. Even now I’m still trying to process what happened, but taking the time to keep my hands busy and to concentrate my mind on something else helped me immensely.

I have a confession: I’ve been in New York for nearly four years, but I have yet to try an authentic Black and White cookie. I know, bad me. However, after making this recipe from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures, I will make a concerted effort to find and sample a real one. I thought these were pretty good, even though I didn’t have any lemon extract, so I can only imagine how tasty the genuine article must be.

The cookie component came together easily, and I’m impressed with how long they have remained fresh. I heard that black and white cookies dry out quickly, but that’s not the case for mine. The last one is still going strong three days later, but I can safely say it’s not going to have the opportunity to become stale.

As for the icings, I prefer the plain over the chocolate. The chocolate is wanting for something, perhaps some salt to round out the flavors? I liked to combine the two sides when I ate the cookies, though, saving for last a big bite in the middle with both icings. It took me a couple of cookies to work out this strategy, but it’s a keeper, just like this recipe.

Baking

Brown Butter Oatmeal Chip Cookies

Brown butter. Oh my goodness, why didn’t I make or use this delicious thing before? I’ve been reading about brown butter everywhere, but I never took the time to actual make any of the recipes I saw. Until now. And oh boy do I wish I had done it sooner!

I’ve been craving chocolate chip cookies for a few days now, and if not for my lack of vegetable oil I would have made a batch of my regular cookies. But now I’m glad for my kitchen not being fully stocked. How Sweet It Is posted these Brown Butter Oatmeal Chunk Cookies, and wow are they good!

They’re more than just a regular chocolate chip cookie. The cinnamon and oatmeal create a banana bread-y flavor, and there’s also an extra bit of a spicy kick in your throat. So not only are they like a hybrid cookie, they are exciting cookies!

These cookies are also super soft, but ever so slightly crumbly.

I rolled the first batch into balls like the recipe said, and they didn’t spread out much at all. I pressed down the second batch a bit and they spread out more, but still stayed nice and thick. Of the two, I’m more a fan of how the second batch turned out.

The brown butter was much more evident in the cookie dough than in the final product, which is slightly unfortunate. There are hints of it working with the cinnamon and the banana bread-y flavor, but it’s definitely not as prevalent once baked.

All in all, this was a delicious little foray into the world of brown butter and alternate types of chocolate chip cookies. Delicious results overall!

Baking

Happy Pi Day!

I have to admit, I completely forgot about Pi Day this year. But for a very good reason. My mind has been in such a St. Patrick’s Day mood that I’ve only been thinking about baked goods for that holiday. You would think that if there is a fun occasion for baking I would be on top of all of them, but I guess not. At least not when they’re close to March 17th. 🙂

Even though it’s spring break I have a ton of work to do, but this gorgeous weather is teasing me and I can’t help but stare longingly out my windows at the beautiful clear blue sky. Who could blame me?

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Spring is certainly on its way. I feel like we almost don’t deserve it because of the extremely mild winter we’ve had. It sort of feels like cheating. Oh well, who am I to turn my nose up at what we’ve been given.

Okay, back to celebrating Pi Day!

As soon as I saw what day it was, I scrambled to find something to bake. A fruit pie wasn’t an option because I don’t have enough fruit for one, nor did I want to consume an entire pie myself. Pizza pie, shepherd’s pie, all savory pies were out because the weather right now just doesn’t warrant comfort foods. Ah ha! I can cheat the system! I don’t have to make a pie at all.

And thus my purple Pi-shaped sugar cookies were born!

I’m not even close to the first person to make these, so cheating doesn’t actually seem so bad. It’s in the shape of Pi, so it totally counts!

This is the first time I’ve ever really tried to make sugar cookies with the intention of flooding them. I’m not usually one to even make sugar cookies in the first place, because I can never find a recipe I really like. I’m super picky about them. In this case, I used The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies from Allrecipes.com.  I approve of these ones. Wholeheartedly.

These Pi cookies gave me a chance to break out the tiny piping tips and the couplers I bought back in January and haven’t used yet. I’m a big fan of couplers now, just gonna put that out there.

Not too bad a job, right? I was actually GIDDY when I took these pictures. I am so easily amused by success with baked goods.

This was also the first time I’ve made my own royal icing. I’ve done the gingerbread house thing before, so handling it isn’t new to me, but I’ve never made it from scratch. I used the recipe with egg whites on Joyofbaking.com.

I also got to use the Wilton gel food coloring I got at the same time as the tips. I’m amazed at how little I used and how VIOLET they turned out. The tiny pot is certainly going to last a LONG time. Yay for my wallet!

The only complaint I had about these cookies was that they took FOR. EV. ER. to make. It might have sped the process along if I didn’t have to cut out the cookies with a template, but I can’t complain too much because I love the final product. I ended up cutting/freezing/baking three at a time because that’s how little time it took the dough to come to room temperature and get super sticky.

It was a long process, but I got to learn new things and hone some skills I didn’t know I possessed. In the end it was totally worth it.

Happy Pi Day! I promise I won’t forget next year!

Baking

I’m In Love With My Muffin Top Pan

Along with my doughnut pan, I also recently got a muffin top pan. I’ve been seeing these two specialty pans everywhere online, and I really wanted to jump on the bandwagon. How can you not want to when you see so many delicious things that you can’t replicate without specific types of bakeware? I have to say that baked doughnuts and “muffin tops” are two trends that I am more than happy to follow.

I have to admit that I did not use my muffin top pan for muffin tops. . . . Instead I made DEEP DISH COOKIES! I have also been seeing these everywhere, and, while I know they can be semi-replicated with a regular baking pan, I wanted the full effect, and boy did I get it.

I used Picky Palate’s XXL M&M Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. I had made a conscious effort to save my Christmas candy for baking purposes, and I’m glad I did. The cookies had a bit of a late Christmas theme because my M&M’s were from the Christmas candy cane containers. I didn’t have quite as many as I wanted, but I made up the difference by adding some extra chocolate chips.

Overall the recipe was good, but definitely NOT like my regular chocolate chip cookie recipe. I hate to say that, while these cookies certainly made a statement with their sheer size and appearance, they were lacking in the taste department. I think they could have used a little bit more sugar, and certainly some more salt.

I still thoroughly enjoyed them, though. This pan makes for the perfect size “giant cookies.” They are not so overwhelmingly large that they can’t be consumed by one person.

I think my next venture with the pan will be with my regular chocolate chip cookie recipe. My mouth is watering already, and I’m just thinking about it.

Baking

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.

Baking

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.