Monday, August 26, 2013

Puffy Sprinkle Sugar Cookies.

A Real-Life Girl's Guide to Baking.

When I'm stressed, I banana bread. Just let me mash bananas and breathe.

When I need confidence, one thing to go absolutely right in my day, I bundt cake. Mix, pour, bake, frost. It's effortless, classy, and foolproof... three things I can't always claim about the rest of my day.

When I need to say I love you, I chocolate chip cookie.

I love you + can we please plan a trip to Disneyland and/or are you ever going to put a ring on it? M&Ms + brown butter.

Real. So real.

If I'm feeling creative, I cupcake. Flirty? Bourbon-baking! Adventurous and just living life? Yeasty, cinnamon, hours of rising & kneading baking. Homesick? Quickbreads. Lemon breads, zucchini breads... all baked from recipes stolen from my mom, always and for life.

And when I need one reason to celebrate everything and nothing at all?

I think you know.


These fat, puffy vanilla-almond sugar cookies bake up tall and pillowy-soft, like little scoops of soft-serve ice cream, with chewy centers and perfectly crisp edges. And they're loaded with sprinkles. Halloween-colored sprinkles... because I'm ready for all things fall. The crisp days, changing leaves, pumpkin spice everything, and celebrating that it's-almost-Christmas magic.  

Maybe I also bought three glittery-gold pumpkins this week and am already daydreaming of pumpkin cakes and candy corn. Just let it happen. 

Unrelated: But I'm also obsessed with these colorful cookie bottoms. They're just asking to be made into funfetti ice cream sandwiches, don't you think? 

Puffy Sprinkle Cookies

Printable Recipe 

2 sticks butter, at room temperature 
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
1/2 teaspoon almond extract 
1 large egg
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Heaping 1/4 cup sprinkles

Prep. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with a Silpat baking mat or spray with baking spray. Set aside. 

Mix. In the bowl on a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.Add the vanilla, almond extract, and egg and mix until well-combined. 

Whisk. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add to the wet ingredients, mixing on low speed until thoroughly combined. 

Sprinkles! Gently stir in the sprinkles, being careful not to over-mix. 

Bake. Scoop dough using a cookie scoop and place on baking sheet 1-inch apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until just light golden brown. Let cool for 3 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. 

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

Source: Table for Two.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Brown Butter Cookie Butter Truffle Brownies + a C25K Update.

It's been almost thirty days since I last created, thought up, baked, or wrote anything that wasn't these sweet lemon-blueberry cupcakes or dark chocolate-raspberry banana bread. My summer baking dreams have quickly turned into the bittersweet resignation that (for now) I will never be that girl who can balance life, laundry, baking, running, a full-time job, sleeping, True Blood, a boyfriend, and, you know, the really important things: like catching up on a year's worth of Revenge and Once Upon a Time. 

They've also turned into pumpkin daydreams. I'm ready for fall, a change of space, a week in Hawaii, and a moment to breathe. 

What's taken over my summer?

Work. In real-life I work a high-stress, fast-paced, unpredictable job... and now that I've recently been offered a promotion, the stress has tripled. As has, coincidentally enough, my collection of wine glasses.

Running. I started running Couch to 5K in June and have since done Week 1 and 2 twice, Week 3 three times, and am currently starting my third week of Week 4 (week 5 ends with a 20-minute 2 mile run and I don't even want to talk about it yet). I run each week until it's no longer a challenge. To be honest, I thought I would never get where I am today... and I'm only halfway through the program!

I started running every other day three times a week like the program suggests. Just the one minute run made me feel like I would definitely be giving up by Week 2 or 3... but I stuck it out.

Slowly I started adding in extra time at the gym after my run and by Week 3, I was adding in "fun runs." These are my favorite. Where my actual C25K days are something I "have" to do, these are the days where I go to the gym and just run. It started with 5 minute runs and half miles. Now for the first time ever I can run a mile without walking. I bested my high school mile time instantly and today... I ran my fastest mile yet.

I wake up early. I fit it in before work. Instead of being a thing I have to make myself do, it's part of my day, something I look forward to. And I'm noticing changes. I'm happier, less stressed, more confident. After I run, even if it was a challenge to the very last second, I feel like I can do anything the rest of the day.

And no big deal, but I've signed up for a Color Run in October.

But let's get real: you came here for the chocolate, brown butter, and cookie butter truffles.

Has cookie butter made it's way into your life yet? This glass jar of dreams looks like innocent creamy peanut butter... but tastes like gingerbread, snickerdoodles, honey graham crackers, and salted pretzels, all at once, and with tiny crunchy bits of Speculoos cookies in every sugary spoonful. It's something you have to experience.

Another thing to experience? Cookie butter truffles: Creamy Biscoff spread/cookie butter + powdered sugar, rolled into dough balls and chilled. Honestly we could just end this post here, but running makes me dream of all things chocolate... so let's bake these truffles into brownies!

Brown butter brownies alone are the best brownies you could ever dream of... even more so than the Baked brownies I made a few years ago. But these? These were irresistable and over the top, with crisp edges, molten, fudge centers, hidden pockets of cookie butter truffles, and that rich, toffee-caramel, something-extra from the brown butter that just enhances the chocolate flavor. And then, to top it all off, they're studded and sprinkled with semisweet and dark chocolate chunks.   

See how thick and fudgy these are? Almost like squares of chocolate cheesecake.

I really believe cookie butter was meant to be paired with chocolate.

P.S. I baked these brownies before work... and came home to half the pan missing and this note from my boyfriend's friend.


Brown Butter Cookie Butter Truffle Chocolate Chunk Brownies 

Printable Recipe

Cookie Butter Truffles
1/2 cup Biscoff spread (I used Trader Joes creamy Cookie Butter)
1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) salted butter
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks (I used a combination of semi-sweet + dark chocolate)
Additonal chocokate chips for sprinkling on top

Prep. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9x13-inch baking dish with baking spray; set aside.

Make truffles. To make thetruffles, combined cookie butter (or a Biscoff spread) and powdered sugar in a bowl and mix until combined and the consistency of cookie dough. Roll truffles into 3/4-inch balls and place on a wax paper- lined baking sheet. Place in freezer until ready for use.

Brown your butter. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until golden brown (for more information browning butter, see this post). Pour butter into heat-proof bowl and allow to cool slightly.

Mix. Pour cooled brown butter into the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Add the sugar and cocoa powder and beat until smooth. Add the salt, water, and vanilla and mix until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until throughly combined. Add the flour and chocolate chips and mix well. Batter will be very thick!

Bake! Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Press frozen Biscoff truffles into the batter until just poking out. Sprinkle additional chocolate chips over the top of the batter, if desired. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving.

Source: Adapted from Something Swanky