Thursday, August 25, 2011

Buttons & Bowknots (Baked Sugar & Spice Doughnuts).

Last Christmas I posted this super easy recipe for Christmas morning deliciousness. Like... just the recipe. But now I've actually made it! And even though it's only August, this needs to be a part of your life.  

I made these sugary biscuits for dinner last Saturday night. That's real life... and that's why the photos are kind of washed out and dungeon-y, because in between shoving piping hot sugar doughnuts in my face, I was running around trying to figure out where all the sunlight is after 7 PM.

The other side of the world, that's where.
But it's okay. Bisquick. Cinnamon. Nutmeg. We're doing this.

Buttons and bows is fancy-talk for soft, baked cinnamon spice doughnuts, twisted into classy-looking figure-eights, baked until golden brown, then immediately rolled in melted butter and sugar and served warm.

They're soft, cakey, melt-in-your-mouth, and dangerously addictive. Like... I would choose one of these over a doughnut shop doughnut anyday addictive. No questions. Even over buttermilk bars and apple fritters and fat cake doughtnuts with pink frosting and sprinkles.
Christmas mornings, birthday mornings, eighth-grade sleepovers, graduations... these sugar doughnuts have always been my family's go-to recipe for awesome and have done their part in making these mornings just a little bit more special for us. They're simple to make (who doesn't have Bisquick and cinnamon always lying around, waiting to be made delicious?), look super fancy, and come together in about ten minutes. Mix, roll, cut, bake, roll in sugar, DEVOUR, repeat. 

P.S. The best part? Doughnut holes. Bite-size sugarbombs for your face.  
Make them, okay? 

After all, there's no way starting off the day licking melted butter and hot sugar off your fingertips can be a bad thing.

Buttons & Bowknots (Baked Sugar & Spice Doughnuts) 

2 cups buttermilk baking mix (Bisquick)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar, for rolling doughnuts in

Preheat oven to 400°F. 

In a medium bowl, mix together Bisquick, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, milk, and egg until soft dough forms. 

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Roll dough into a ball and knead five times. Roll 1/2-inch thick and cut with floured doughnut cutter.
To make bows, hold opposite sides of each ring with fingers and twist to form figure-eights.
Place doughnut holes (buttons) and bows on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until done and just starting to turn golden brown. 

Immediately after baking, dip each button and bow into melted butter, then roll in sugar (be careful not to burn your fingers!). Serve warm. 

Makes about 12 buttons & bows.  

Source: Betty Crocker's Cookbook, 1974. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday Things.

1. I just started a recipe that literally won't be ready to eat for two weeks. Legit. I kind of feel like I'm brewing polyjuice potion... only not. Any guesses? Think Christmas.
Hint: it involves chocolate.
Like that's a surprise.

2. This is my life. 
This is how many chocolate chip espresso bars were left after three days. 

As in... I've already made a second batch. Yeah. That happened.

3. This is also my life. My right-now life. As in... I may or may not be listening to this as we speak. 
And by listening, I mean singing.

... and by singing I mean dancing around my room in between sentences. Do this. Christmas music fixes everything.

P.S. ... it's totally normal to be drinking pumpkin spice coffee and searching for Christmas recipes on Pinterest in the middle of an August afternoon, right?
Okay, good.

... cuz I'm posting Christmas breakfast later this week!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Chocolate Chip Espresso Bars.

The most important thing you should know about chocolate chip espresso bars is that they make your entire world smell like you're baking a small Starbucks coffee shop in your oven. We're talking cinnamon, sugar, butter, coffee, chocolate... all of my favorite words.

Sidenote: They're also dangerously addictive. For the same reasons.

... and for the crackly cinnamon-sugar glaze.
They have a super soft, super rich, brown sugar cookie bar base. Swoon. And look at those flecks of cinnamon and coffee! They really make the chocolate flavor pop.

Seriously. These cookie bars rival the sugariness of the graham cracker s'mores candy.
I know. They're thin.
And if I hadn't made these, I might be a little closer to that myself. But let me tell you... these bars are so rich and so sugary, that it's almost like eating some kind of chocolate chip cookie dough frappuccino fudge sheet cake, if there were such a thing.

And there totally should be.
P.S. I really want to make these with half semisweet and half white chocolate chunks. I'm kind of in love with that combination since these cookies.

Chocolate Chip Espresso Bars

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tablespoon espresso powder (I used instant coffee)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°F, with the rack at middle level. Line a 10x15-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper or grease lightly. 

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar, espresso powder, and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips. The dough will be very crumbly, with just barely enough dough to hold together the chocolate chips
Press dough evenly into the jelly roll pan with your hands.
Bake for 5 minutes, rotate the pan, and bake for 5-10 minutes more or until the edges are just starting to brown (watch carefully... I baked mine for a total of 18 minutes). Cool in the pan 5 minutes before spreading with the glaze. 
To make the glaze, place milk, butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until smooth and barely bubbly. Drizzle the glaze evenly over the bars and smooth out to the edges and corners with a rubber spatula. Cool until the pan is just warm to the touch, then cut into bars and serve.

Source: Vanilla Sugar Blog.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

One-Bowl Chocolate Chip Cookies for Two.

I know. Another stack of cookies. 

Sometimes I try to get creative. Sometimes I just throw the cookies on a plate and scatter some flour and chocolate chips and things in the background like some kind of artistic baking explosion just naturally happened in my kitchen... but I'm too type A for that. When I get behind the camera, the next thing I know my hand's sneaking into the frame, organizing everything into pretty little piles.

I can't help it. It's who I am. 
I also giggle a lot when I'm making miniature things. Miniature cookies. Miniature muffins. Miniature recipes for making two vanilla cupcakes. There's just something exciting about scaling everything down. 

... maybe because you know you're about to eat twice as many chocolate chip pancakes and feel half as guilty about it.

Sidenote: I also giggle when my dad makes beer-can chicken. That's happening right now. I can't even go into the kitchen. It's... yeah. I don't even want to talk about it.

But I was in there earlier though! For ten minutes. Making chocolate chip cookies.   
Four of them. These four. Like... seriously. This is the entire batch. 
Because like the vanilla cupcakes for two, sometimes you just want a warm, chewy, freshly-baked, crispy chocolate chip cookie to share with someone without having to worry about the other twenty or so cookies, that you say you'll give away to family and friends, or freeze and eat reasonably over the next couple of weeks... but we all know will just wind up getting eaten over the open freezer sometime between 3 and 4 AM within three days of baking them.
Not that this ever happens. 

You know. Just every time I bake cookies. Whatever.
The best thing about this recipe though, minus the reduced guilt and the fact that they're amazing delicious cookies, is the creativity. You can do anything with them. It's like life! Throw in peanut butter chips. Pretzels. Crushed Oreos. Twix. All the above! Invent your very own cookie. 
Tell me this makes someone else giggle. I can't take myself seriously when I'm only baking four cookies. It's like Easy-Bake Oven for grown-ups, you know? Because of the real oven and all.

P.S. The full recipe for these can be found here, in case you want more than four cookies sometimes... like twenty-four. A whole two dozen. I fully support that.

Chocolate Chip Cookies for Two

Printable Recipe

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
A pinch of salt
A pinch of cinnamon
2 tablespoons shortening
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon beaten egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix together the shortening, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Add the tablespoon of beaten egg and vanilla and mix until combined. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Roll dough into four cookie balls and place them on a lightly greased cookie sheet (you can also bake them in two lightly greased tart pans, a muffin top pan, cupcake pan, whatever you desire). Flatten them slightly with your hand.
Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

Makes 4 chocolate chip cookies. 

Source: Adapted from Heather's Dish.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How To Ship Cookies to a Boy.

Let's talk about love. Long-distance love. And boys. And cookies. And boxes.

I've been dating my boyfriend for three years, three months, and fifteen days. What? Crazy. We met in college... back when I didn't bake and had super-short red hair and dreamed of being the next Veronica Mars.
We've been long-distance for... oh geez, I hate math. Three years, three months, and twenty-two days minus my last two semesters. So... about 2 years and three-four months... minus trips home and holidays. This just got confusing.

It's not always easy. Long-distance means cramming a month of love and dates and arguments and face-to-face conversations into a 48-hour weekend. It means staying up until you're bleary-eyed at 2 AM & playing Battleship on the phone (and winning). It means spending New Year's, birthdays, and anniverseries alone when work or life gets complicated... or having to text "Merry Christmas!" instead of rolling over in bed and saying it yourself.  
This just got very real life. 
The facts: My boyfriend had a not-so-very-great week. Work. Car stuff. It's hot. He misses me. Hopefully. Obviously. Basically? He needs cookies.

Have you ever shipped cookies to anyone? It's no easy thing. My parents sent me a box of home-baked Christmas cookies when I was away at college... UPS delivered a box of crumbled cookie crumbs. It was delicious, but I had no idea what I was eating.

Let's do this. 
First things first: bake some cookies! Obviously. Brownies work too, if you're into that sort of thing. Something classic and comforting and chocolatey... but nothing too fragile, soft, or crumbly.

I recommend...
Chewy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies or peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate chip M&M cookies. Boys like M&Ms, did you know? It's like a thing.

Graham cracker s'mores cookies. Perfect for summer.

Snickerdoodles. Cinnamon + sugar + cookie dough. Because who says no to that?

Cowgirl cookies. Oats. Chocolate. Pecans. M&Ms. Do this. But... yeah. Without the pink. Don't do that.

Marbled chocolate chip cookies. They look fancy and impressive, but are secretly super easy.
I decided to make double chocolate chunk Oreo cookies. <-- Good decision.
Bake your cookies. Let them cool completely. <-- Super important. 

And be sure to eat one warm from the oven, purely for research purposes. It's important.
While you eat them they're cooling: since you're already baking cookies for a boy, don't stop there. Go all out, like it's high school. Pretend it's 2001 and you're still passing notes between classes and wearing butterfly clips in your hair. Burn that man a CD. 
Because really. Who hates music? Exactly.
Drop some love in that box. Write a note! Handwrite it. No, really. It's fun. It's like Dear John, but with a way better ending. Seriously. 
Okay. Now the fun/crazy part. How to ship these across the state/country/world without them breaking. There's probably a hundred different ways to do it, but here's how I do it:

Stack the cookies in groups of three or four and wrap them as tight as you can with cling wrap. This keeps them from smacking against each other in the box and getting all crumbly. They'll stay fresh longer too!
Put them all in a big Ziplock bag and zip that thing up. 
Wrap the bag with a couple of layers of paper towels. Put that bag in a box and surround it with crumpled newspapers. (Or take it to UPS and have them surround the bag with packing peanuts... that's what I did since I didn't have any boxes.)

Shake the box like a crazy person. Throw it across the room. Pretend you're a FedEx truck. The cookies  should be safe and secure and definitely not moving. 

Mail it!

I shipped these across the state Friday morning & they arrived Tuesday afternoon, fresh, intact, and delicious. Four and a half days in a box and still in perfect uncrumbled condition, without dropping $75 (seriously. $75. What? Crazy.) for next-day shipping? Victory.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Fat, Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits.

I have very important news.
I made biscuits. 

I know, where's the chocolate? Do you dip them in cheesecake? Is there secretly a s'more baked inside?


... no! Did you really think I'd do that? Goodness. 

So... yeah. These are just biscuits. Nothing to see here. Just plain, boring, fat, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth, super fluffy buttermilk biscuits. 
You know... the kind of biscuits that you can peel apart layer by soft, thin, buttery layer.

The kind of biscuits worth sneaking out of bed at 2 AM for.
Which I did not do/I totally did this.

We're talking the kind of biscuits that don't even need a pat of melted butter, a drizzle of honey, or a heaping spoonful of raspberry jam.
But obviously... do this.

Unless you're slicing them in half and piling them up with scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, and melted cheddar cheese. Or rolling them in cinnamon and sugar and baking them on top of a delicious fruit cobbler. All of these are ideas that I can get behind.

Whatever you do with them... make them happen. And they're super easy to throw together... which, you know, will give you plenty of time to throw flour all over the place and make words and doodly hearts in it. Because that's totally what adults do. 


Fat, Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter, melted, for brushing over biscuits 

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Scatter the cubes of cold butter over the top of the flour mixture; cut in and mix using a pastry cutter or fork until the mixture resembles coarse meal. 

Add the buttermilk and continue to mix using fork or pastry cutter until mixture just begins to come together.

Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured counter and pat the dough into a 10 by 12-inch rectangle about 3/4-inch thick. Use a 3-inch round biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits and place them on a lightly greased baking sheet about 2 inches apart. 

Brush the tops of the biscuits with heavy cream. 
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush tops with melted butter. Serve warm and enjoy!

Makes 12-15 biscuits. 

Source: Barely adapted from Bobby Flay

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Baking, Blogging, & Birthdays.

I hope you brought confetti today... cuz it's my birthday! 

Well... my blog's birthday, my one year blogiversary. What! Crazy. An entire year of blogging? I think we should celebrate. With cake. This cake, a simple, but beautiful, two-layered chocolate cake with pink vanilla buttercream. 
... yeah. I know. I made it just for you. 

Somehow I stumbled across the Pioneer Woman's website in college and fell absolutely in love with the idea of writing a blog and learning how to bake something. Every so often, if I had a law paper to procrastinate or school was getting stressful and I was missing home, I'd check out her blog and stare at some photos of Bassett Hounds and cinnamon rolls and melting butter and feel instantly less stressed. And happier. With this compulsive urge to go bake something with flour and sugar and sprinkles.

Which turned into this compulsion to bake, take photos of everything important/not important at all, and plaster it all over the Internet. 

And I've loved every single moment of it. Writing about it, creating new recipes, making mistakes, learning new things, and sharing it all with you. Honestly, you're all amazing. I never thought anyone besides my best friend would read this so I'm incredibly thankful to every one of you who finds my little piece of the Internet worth reading. 

So... some things happened in the last 365 days. 

I published my first post. And then 102 more. 

I got addicted to things, like Pinterest and spicy, delicious feta and fancy frosting and frozen peanut butter cups.

I met Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, and temporarily forgot how to breathe.
There were pounds lost, week-long bakeathons, sneaky puppies, and perfect birthdays.

I got creative and dreamed up a few recipes of my own.

I got on this
And you liked me! 436 439 of you! That's more friends than I have on my personal Facebook. 

And then there was the baking. Yeah, I did some of that. I made my first layered cake. I made whimsical cauldron cakes and ate them for breakfast. There were maple scones that tasted like pancakes and pancakes that looked muffins, cupcakes baked inside ice cream cones and cookies shaped like reindeer. I made homemade brown sugar, because I could, and homemade cinnamon bread because... it's cinnamon bread.

And I went to Disneyland too, which isn't so much baking-related as it is awesome-related.

Oh and I made cookies. Did you notice? Lots and lots of cookies. 

So, just for fun, here my personal top ten favorite recipes from my first year of blogging, plus the recipe on the site that you all loved and stalked the most.

1. Fluffernutter Chocolate Gobs.
2. Cinnamon Pinwheels with Maple-Coffee Icing.
4. Graham Cracker S'mores Candy.
5. Peanut Butter Crunch S'mores Bars.
6. Salt River Bars.
7. Texas Sheet Cake.
8. Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cupcakes.
9. Cowgirl Cookies.
10. Black & White Cookies.
And the most popular recipe is... *trumpets and confetti* Oreo cupcakes!
What were your favorite posts this year? What would you like to see more of in the coming year? More how-tos? More healthy recipes? Savory recipes? Less cupcakes? More real life? Let me know!