Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chocolatey Avalanche Bars.

It may be April, but as far as I'm concerned... it's summer. 

Today I had iced coffee for breakfast. Like.. just iced coffee. At 6 AM. Totally a thing. 

I bought a bright buttercup-yellow tank top. I drove with the windows down and the Katy Perry up. I daydreamed about tropical beaches, the scent of Pirates of the Caribbean/Splash Mountain waterfalls, flowy, flowery dresses, pancakes/waffles/my face with coconut syrup, and streaking my hair sunkissed-blond. I baked Rice Krispie treats that took six hours to set in this spring heat. My boyfriend texted me, "What do you want for dinner?", and my first thought was, "Churros. Ice cream. No, definitely funnel cakes."

I wish I was joking.
So... summer! Melty chocolate, baking without ovens, and lazy camera-phone photography. It's a thing and it's nothing to be ashamed of.
Also, let's be real. Rice Krispies + marshmallows + white chocolate chips + mini chocolate chips + peanut butter is never going to = a bad thing. 
... except that's not just any kind of peanut butter. 

It's this stuff. 
Made of dark chocolate and peanut butter and dreams. 

Basically a perfect match for rich, white chocolate crispy squares and funnel cake dinners. 
Get into it!

Chocolatey Avalanche Bars 

12 ounces white chocolate chips
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter 
3 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips + extra to sprinkle over the top

Spray a 9x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, heat white chocolate chips for 1 minute. Stir, then continue microwaving for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each increment, until chips are melted.

Stir in the peanut butter and Rice Krispies. Let cool for 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes.  

Stir in the marshmallows and chocolate chips. 

Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and spread evenly, pressing lightly with the back of a wooden spoon (but not too much or they'll get hard). 
Sprinkle a handful of mini chocolate chips over the top and press them down lightly. 

Cut into squares when completely cooled, swoon, and enjoy!

Source: Cookies & Cups.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Coconut Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Sometimes I wonder what life must have been like without any technology past the butter churn. 

And then I wonder if maybe then we would stop wasting the 86,400 seconds that we're gifted with each day, to make memories and history and coconut cookies, on comparing ourselves to each other.

In real life, it's hard not to compare yourself with everyone around you, especially when everyone is connected online. Scrolling through someone else's day is easier than getting through our own and it seems like there's always someone on Facebook posting glittery shots of their new engagement ring or another food blog with beautiful, creative talent (and a secret stash of natural light) or a constant Instagram feed of jealous-worthy things, from glamourous vacations, celebrations, and milestones to food styling you wish you'd done, cakes you wish you'd baked, and thin, fit bodies you wish you had.

I feel those last two are connected somehow.
Can I just make a Wednesday proclamation? Let's not. Let's take the day off.

Let's just not compare today.

Let's realize that someone else succeeding or being "better" or "more" takes away nothing from our ability to succeed, create, or shine. 
Let's build each other up and be kind instead of competing... and at the end of the day let's be proud of who we are and where our life is at. 

Let's also put coconut and coffee in cookies.
I'm just saying.

Coconut Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons instant coffee
1 cup chocolate chips (I used mini chocolate chips)
3/4 cup shredded, sweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the softened butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla; mix well until combined. 

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, and the ground coffee or espresso until combined. Slowly add to the butter mixture and mix until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Stir in the chocolate chips and coconut. 
Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets and baking for 10-12 minutes, or until done (I flattened mine slightly with the back of a spatula when removed from the oven). 

Source: Adapted from my soft, chewy chocolate chip cookies.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cakey Lemon Bar "Brownies."

Now that Easter is over and I'm out of Peeps, it's time to focus on some seriously important things:

Summer is coming!

Three blissfully scorching-hot months of pie-baking, barbeques, drive-ins and fireworks, late nights and wedge sandals, grilled pizzas, beaches, sticks of pink spun sugar and True Blood. Oh yes. True Blood. 

It is. about. time. 
Summer is happening and it's happening soon. And since I'm typing this during a full-on thunder and lightning storm? It's safe to say I couldn't be any more ready. 

But let's start small. Summer is all about jumping into things: pools, road trips, super short jean skirts. Spring is about new things. Fresh things. Slowly-growing things. Citrus things and bright pink flowers, if you will. 

I really hope you will. 
So let's finish up spring right and kick off summer proper. Let's ignore the rain... and zest some lemons.
This is where good things start. 

Oh hey. Life tip? When life gives you lemons... make lemon brownies.
Lemon brownies? Lemonies? What?

Yes. Thick, cakey lemon squares the density and texture of a chocolate brownie. I'm so serious. This is no lemon bar. This is a lemon brownie and it absolutely must be apart of your spring and summer/life if you're into citrus and sugary things.
And no big deal, but they're also glazed with a super zesty glaze.  
And maybe I ate the leftover glaze with a spoon, but we don't have to talk about that. 
Get your zest on!

Cakey Lemon Bar "Brownies"

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Lemon Glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. 

Zest and juice two small lemons; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixture fitted with the paddle attachement, beat the flour, sugar, salt, and softened butter until combined. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice until combined. Pour into the flour mixture and beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. 

Pour into baking dish and bake for 25 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden around the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before glazing.

When brownies are cooled completely, make the glaze by whisking together all three ingredients. Spread over the brownies with a rubber spatula, cut into bars, and serve!

Source: Barely adapted from Rita's Recipes.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Cinnamon-Peach Doughnuts with Maple Icing.

I seriously cannot concentrate on writing this post.   

One, I'm watching Smash. Today was one of those rare half-days of work and I know I should be taking advantage of this quiet house and warm spring day to do something super productive, like sleep or laundry or packing to go home for Easter or baking something with coconut.  
Instead, I'm on the couch, staring at these doughnuts, and singing Rihanna at embarrassing decibels... when I would really rather be out having a girls' night out slash sing-off in the middle of Times Square, like so. 
Okay. I paused it. 

I also can't concentrate because, two, let's get real: this post is about doughnuts. Doughnuts! Fried dough full of cinnamon and fresh of peaches, all dunked in maple icing or rolled in cinnamon-sugar. Or both. What?

I ate so many of these. 
And I just thought of swapping out the peaches for strawberries, then topping these with powdered sugar, whipped cream, and even more berries. It'd be like a mini strawberry funnel cake shamelessly eaten for breakfast and that's an idea I can totally get behind.
Aaaaand I can't concentrate because Titanic is in theaters again and I will never not love Titanic. I was nine (nine!) when it was originally released and that movie single-handedly inspired at least five sleepover parties, one birthday party, and all expectations for future relationships. I won't even lie to you. 

So basically I'm all the over place today. I want to sing and dance and eat fried dough. I want my laundry to be done, I want to nap, I want to put coconut in everything. I want to be in New York. I want to be in a movie theater. And I'll be honest: I wanna microwave a Peep. I don't even know. 
P.S. These don't have a super sweet peachy flavors so feel free to add a few tablespoons of peach juice to get a stronger flavor. 

P.P.S. Maple icing. Seriously.

Cinnamon-Peach Doughnuts with Maple Icing

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1-2 tablespoons peach juice, optional 
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 large peach, pitted and diced
Vegetable oil for frying

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon maple extract
1 tablespoon milk

1/2 cup granulated sugar 
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon 
Line a baking sheet or work surface with a thick layer of paper towels. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, peach juice (if using), eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and slightly cooled melted butter, until combined. Pour into the flour mixture, add the diced peaches, and fold together with a spatula, until just combined and no clumps of flour remain.

Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour. Sprinkle flour over dough and roll out until 1/2-inch thick. Using a round dough cutter (I used a 2 1/2-inch), cut out doughnuts and doughnut holes.

*Note: Because of the chunks of peaches, this dough might be more difficult to roll out and cut doughnuts from then a plain cake doughnut recipe. If the dough starts sticking to rolling pin or counter, sprinkle with more flour. Don't worry if the shapes aren't perfect or bits of peaches jut out. They'll turn dark when fried (you can see that in the photos above), but that's from frying, not burning.

Place a candy thermometer in a medium saucepan and pour oil in about 2 inches deep. Heat oil over medium-high heat to 365°F.  

When oil reaches temperature, carefully place three doughnuts into the oil. Fry for 1-2 minutes, or until they turn golden brown, then turn and fry for another 1-2 minutes (doughnut holes only need about a minute in the oil). Be sure to keep an eye on the temperature, making small adjustments to the heat as needed to maintain the temperature. Adjust cooking time accordingly.

When done and golden brown on each side, remove from oil, allow excess oil to drip off, and place on paper tools to cool. If not icing, immediately toss in a small bowl of cinnamon-sugar. Be careful not to burn your fingers!

To make the glaze: When cooled completely, make the maple glaze by whisking together all three ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth. Dunk doughnuts face-down in the glaze and place back on paper towels to set.

These doughnuts are best the day that they're made.

Makes about 16 doughnuts and doughnut holes.

Source: A Bakergirl original.