Thursday, August 23, 2012

Brown Butter, Brown Sugar, Chocolate Chip Shortcakes.

Slow down. Like... just slow down. 

I don't need to see Halloween candy just yet. I know I've already started my Christmas list, but this is different. 

And maybe I'm already thinking about candy corn dinners (just let it happen), cut-out sugar cookies, and gingerbread cakes, but why are you all seriously baking with pumpkin already? P.S. It's August and I'm still eating kettlecorn for dinner, looking for pools to jump into, and baking with fresh summer fruit. 

Or, you know. Sandwiching it between chocolate chip shortcakes. Which is totally the same thing and you know it. 

This is the kind of girlfriend I am. Can I tell you? 

Strawberry shortcakes are kind of our thing. Kind of like cheesecake is our thing... except yeah, we'll definitely bring strawberries and whipped cream and those round, sponge-y yellow shortcakes to the drive-in and on picnics and on long-distance road trips. We'll do that. No problem. We know how to shortcake it up. 

So I made these homemade shortcakes because it's still August and I refuse to bake with pumpkin, full of brown butter, chocolate chips, and loads of brown sugar. 

They looked like pancakes. 

Then they turned into crumbly, soft, for real shortcakes. 

Which are basically just giant biscuits for berries. 

... and maybe I baked them a minute too long because I was busy swirling Oreo cheesecake tuffles into cookie dough at the same time. Totally a normal day.

Then I piled on whipped cream and big slices of strawberries to make up for it and ended up with this fancy shortcake situation. 

Which he devoured in two bites and declared "hella breakfast-y" before wandering off in search of Oreo truffle chocolate chip cookies

And that's our relationship. 

So in case you weren't aware: strawberry shortcakes are officially a breakfast thing. Put that in your summer and seriously, on our friendship, put down the pumpkin.
Brown Butter, Brown Sugar, Chocolate Chip Shortcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, browned
1/4 cup brown sugar + 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Sliced strawberries & whipped cream 

Brown butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. (Click here for a post on browning butter.) Pour into a separate bowl and allow to cool slightly. 

Preheat oven to 425°F. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Whisk brown sugar into slightly cooled browned butter. Add mixture to the bowl with flour and whisk until just combined. Add the milk, a little at a time, and continue whisking until a smooth dough begins to form. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop by the spoonful onto a baking sheet lined with parchment, form into a round shape, and sprinkle with a little brown sugar. Bake for 12 minutes. 

Allow to cool completely, then slice and layer with sliced strawberries and whipped cream. 

Makes 6 shortcakes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Oreo Truffle-Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Right now, there's only three things I want from life...



and chocolate chip cookies.

Sometimes I forget I'm only 25 and get stuck in "this is it" thinking.

As in... the way my life is right now is the way it's going to be forever.

So not true.

So, to snap myself out of that, I've been daydreaming up a new chapter for my life and I think I'll just be real with you and put it out there.

Basically... I think I'd like to be a grown-up Veronica Mars who just so happens to own a bakery. I think it's perfect. A handful of cops (who just so happen to look the cast of Magic Mike, if you please) will stop by  early every morning for fresh-baked bear claws and cinnamon-sugar doughnuts. I'll pour coffee and bake cinnamon rolls and definitely flirt just a little as I pester them about their cases.

Blonde hair and cinnamon rolls will make anybody talk.

Sometimes I'll cater fancy, important events for people who may or may not be involved criminal activities. Weddings. Society parties. Masquerade balls. I can totally see myself in a classy black dress, spiky, glittery heels, a diamond necklace (it's secretly a video camera), sneaking around with pepper spray and handcuffs in a silver clutch after serving red velvet cupcakes all night.

I've thought this out a little bit.

And sometimes I'll team-up with my super cute police boyfriend and go undercover. Hello, who would suspect that quiet, innocent baker girl? She bakes cookies, what could she know? Naturally this leads to all kinds of bad, epic situations... high speed car chases, breaking into abandoned buildings, dodging bullets... basically stumbling into trouble wherever I can find it.

Kind of like real life.

And, also kind of like real life, after hunting for clues, staking out suspects, and bringing down the bad guy, I'll keep it real at the end of the day, go home, and eat kettlecorn for dinner. Then I'll watch Pretty Little Liars and make Oreo truffles... which I'll swirl into chocolate chip cookies like it's a totally normal thing to do. 

Because it totally is.

These cookies.

These are the best cookies I have ever made.

Crispy edges. Rich, soft centers. Semisweet and white chocolate chips. Swirls of Oreo cheesecake truffles.

It's a chocolate chip cookie meets cookies & cream explosion.

And the only time "this is it" thinking is perfectly acceptable. Put these in your life!

Oreo Truffle-Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookies

Printable Recipe

Oreo Truffles
21 Oreo cookies, finely crushed
3 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted (or browned) plus 1 tablespoon and slightly cooled
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Line a small baking dish with foil; set aside. Crush Oreo cookies in a food processor or blender until finely ground, then in a medium bowl, mix with softened cream cheese until truffle forms. Press into foil-lined baking dish and flatten with hands. Place in freezer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt (or brown) 1 stick butter plus 1 tablespoon; pour into a separate bowl to cool slightly.

In a stand mixture fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the other stick of butter with the granulated sugar until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and molasses and beat until incorporated. Add the slightly cooled butter and the brown sugar and mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add the egg and egg yolk and mix until fully incorporated. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add all at once to the butter mixture and mix on low until just incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips and white chocolate chips with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Remove Oreo truffles from freezer and cut into small pieces. Gently fold them into the cookie dough. 

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll or scoop dough into balls and place 2 inches apart on baking sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies are just starting to turn golden brown around the edges. Remove from oven (I pressed mine down slightly with the back of a spatulaand let cool 5 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Source: Cookie base adapted from the Joy the Baker cookbook.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Chocolate Chunk S'mores Brownies.

How To Hunt for Your First Apartment Together 101. 

1. When you walk in the door... does it feel like home? Can you imagine living here and making memories together? Hint: If you're already planning date nights of making dinner in the tiny kitchen, shutting out the world, and catching up on Once Upon a Time, with a couch against the wall here and the TV right there... the answer is yes.

2. Start a Pinterest board. Obviously.

3. Check out the closet situation. Preemptively claim 3/4 of it. 

4. The kitchen: can you bake cookies in this kitchen? Does it feel like home too? Is it bright and full of natural light? Does it make you want to bake banana bread, late-night s'mores, Christmas dinner, and pumpkin pies?

5. Remind your boyfriend that this is a model apartment. The flatscreen is just for show. Also not sure what you're looking in the refrigerator for.

6. Decide where will the Christmas tree will go. No, seriously.

7. This deck is cute... but can I photograph stacks of brownies out here without the neighbors noticing?

8. So... these bright orange accent walls. We can paint, right?

9. Allow yourself a full minute to panic over lease lengths, deposits, rent, square footage, and the fact that you no longer have an excuse to avoid the gym. 

10. Let's be honest: how close are we to a Starbucks?

Can I be honest with you for a tiny moment? Looking for an apartment can be completely overwhelming.

There. I said it.

You know what's not overwhelming?

Making chocolate chunk brownies on a lazy summer day.

Except, at the last minute, like the total adult you are, you swirl in marshmallow fluff and a handful of crushed graham crackers.

Just because.

I think we can agree... s'mores need no reason. Especially s'mores in the form of thick, fudgy brownies full of chocolate chunks, dark chocolate chips, swirls of marshmallow dreams, subtle, crunchy bits of graham crackers... and a crackly graham cracker top.

Impulsive baking. It's now a thing.

This is summer. This is easy-living. This is not an accent wall. I can handle this. 

Chocolate Chunk S'mores Brownies

Printable Recipe

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1/3 unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder 
3/4 cup chocolate chunks (I used a mixture of chocolate chunks & dark chocolate chips)
1/2 cup crushed graham crackers
1 cup marshmallow fluff

Preheat oven to 350°F

Grease or line an 8x8-inch baking dish with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together the melted butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Mix in cocoa powder, flour, salt, and baking powder until well-combined. Fold in chocolate chunks and crushed graham crackers using a wooden spoon.

Microwave marshmallow fluff for about 10-20 seconds, give it a quick stir, then add to brownie batter. Fold in a few times until just combined. You want there to be visible ribbons of marshmallow cream throughout the brownies.

Pour into baking dish and spread evenly. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until done and a toothpick inserted into the center of brownies comes out clean. 

Allow to cool completely before serving.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Brown Butter Oatmeal M&M Cookies.

Part of being a pro girlfriend is having the supernatural ability to forget overlook totally important things, like directions and movie times and what your boyfriend really said and something-something-something about an oil change? and being able to remember all the unimportant, tiny details. 

Things like... how you still open doors for us, even when we're being difficult and snappy with each other. We like that. We like that way more than being reminded to check the air in our tires. 

Things like... how you put justthismuch cream in your iced coffee and a packet and a half of Splenda. Seriously.

Things like... everything you've ever said about our clothing, make-up, or hair. We get it. More tank tops, less make-up, and stop curling your hair and hiding it all up in a ponytail!

What I'm trying to say is... I definitely remember how three or four years ago, my boyfriend said something along the lines of, "I hate mini M&Ms. They're just not the same. They're tiny and weak." 

Check out this act of rebellion!

... which apparently he never said? Or didn't mean? Or was having a bad day? 

Because he walked in the door, found these cookies, and promptly ate them.

Then took them to work for breakfast the next day. Real life.

These thick, chewy, rainbow M&M cookies must be magic. They're changing minds, passing for breakfast, and are stuffed full of all kinds of good things. Oats. Cinnamon. Chocolate. That extra something special from brown butter.  

See the tiny brown specks of brown butter? It's love.

Summertime baking means scooping cookie dough with an ice cream scoop. Can we put this on a waffle cone and call it breakfast?

I say yes. It's summer! Bake with ice cream scoops, change minds, and eat cookies for breakfast.

Oh and butter. Brown it!

Brown Butter Oatmeal M&M Cookies

Printable Recipe

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup mini M&Ms
1-2 tablespoons milk, optional (if dough is crumbly)

Heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add butter. Whisking constantly, brown your butter by cooking until bubbly and small brown bits appear at the bottom of the pan, about 5-6 minutes (more details on how to brown butter here). Immediately remove from heat, pour into a heat-proof bowl, and allow to cool completely. It should not be warm to the touch. 

In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon; set aside.

Once butter has cooled, add to a large bowl. Whisk in sugar and brown sugar. Add egg and vanilla, whisking until smooth. Slowly stir in dry ingredients. If dough is crumbly, add a tablespoon of milk at a time until dough begins to come together. Stir in mini M&Ms. 

Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 375°F. Scoop dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet using an ice cream scoop, flatten slightly with a spatula, and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until bottoms and edges are golden. Let cool before serving.

Makes 12-15 big cookies.

Source: How Sweet It Is.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Real Life... how to brown butter.

2012 is all about browning your butter. It's the new red velvet, if you will. 

But first: I interrupt this post to bring you the view outside my window...

Ginormous fire. Totally under a "shelter in place" warning. But, no biggie, let's talk about butter!

Brown butter is simply unsalted butter melted over medium-low heat until golden amber and nutty. If you want to get fancy about it, it's the process of separating the butterfat from the milk solids. The milk solids to sink to the bottom and turn a toasty hazelnut color and all is right with the world.

Basically... it's baking magic and I refuse to stop. 

Also if someone could please invent a brown butter-flavored coffee, that would be wonderful. 

Brown butter in action:

These cookies are stuffed full of peanut butter truffles, chocolate chips, and brown butter. It was good living... even if I had to google "question: how exactly do you brown butter?" as I set out to make them.

Brown butter chocolate chunk cookies. That golden color! Put it in your life! 

Cheesecake filling optional/totally not optional at all. 

Andddd... these cookies. See those tiny browned butter flecks? That's where happiness and good times live. 

Can we make this a thing? Can we put brown butter in everything?

And seriously: brown butter coffee. Invent it.

How To Brown Butter

Melt unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir or whisk frequently until it turns an amber-golden brown color, gives off a distinct nutty scent, and little brown bits appear at the bottom of the pan (about 7-9 minutes). 

Keep an eye on your butter as it cooks down; there is a small window between brown butter and burnt butter... it will brown quickly after it foams up and subsides.

Once it reaches this point, remove from heat immediately and pour into a heat-proof bowl to cool.

Magic! Make it happen!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Banana Bread.

Sometimes you have days where you have to make your own happy.

This is that.

This banana bread was baked on a lazy August morning, with bright, slanted, summer light, creamy raspberry coffee, and my comfiest pajamas.  

It was baked with a fistful of determination and chocolate... determination that for 50-60 minutes I was going to put all the stresses of work, life, and laundry on hold. Just put it all on hold, bake banana bread, drink coffee, and watch as much Pretty Little Liars as possible. 

And chocolate... because this is straight-up cake for breakfast. Cake that genuinely smells like Christmas... if Christmas smelled like bananas, berries, and home. It's a quickbread thing. Banana bread, raisin bread, zucchini bread, lemon bread... they will always, always remind of lazy afternoons at the pool, best friends, summer vacation, and coming home to Mom pulling a fresh-baked loaf out of the oven. It's right up there with grilled cheese, pancakes, and apple pies. You know. Stuff only a mom can make.

Banana bread, right out of the oven, brimming with fresh raspberries and melty chunks of dark chocolate. Would it be weird to eat this with a spoon?

Okay fine. I'll slice it.

Speaking of determination and sugar, this is summer bucket baking times two! Making banana bread meets baking with berries.

Andddd I had kettlecorn for dinner the other night. Summer bucket success!

Raspberry Dark Chocolate Banana Bread

Printable Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 large bananas)
1/3 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chunks or chips
1 cup halved raspberries, tossed in 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer (or in a larger bowl with a wooden spoon), beat the sugar and softened butter until well-combined, about 1 minute. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the banana, yogurt, and vanilla extract and beat until well-combined. 

Stir in the flour mixture just until moist. Do not overmix! Gently fold in the chocolate chunks and halved raspberries tossed in flour.

Pour evenly into prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle with a handful of dark chocolate chips and halved raspberries. 

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.* Cool 15 minutes in pan on a wire rack, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely.

*Note: If the edges start to brown before the center is fully baked, carefully place folded strips of foil around the edges of the pan to keep from burning. I had to place a sheet of foil over the top as well during the last 15 minutes of baking to keep the top from over-browning/burning. 

Source: Recipe Boy.