Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Heart-Shaped Cranberry Orange Cinnamon Rolls.

2012 has officially lost it's sparkle. 

We're heading into March, my least favorite month of the year. My birthday month is over. Valentine's Day is over. It's not winter, it's not spring. What is it?

It's just... March. 
January had resolutions and confetti. February had pink and sprinkles and cake. Summer is three months away. It's "too soon"  to start planning our anniversary presents (April is so not "too soon", by the way). And Christmas? Christmas is at least eleven years away.
Life as an adult requires that I must always have something fun and potentially sparkly to look forward to. Otherwise, honestly? I just cannot deal with laundry and gas prices and work. Monday morning? What are we doing Friday night? It's March? So... Disneyland this November? What are we doing for our five year anniversery? "We haven't even had our fourth!"

You know what helps with awkward, uneventful, in-between months? 

Cinnamon rolls! 
Cinnamon rolls that are super easy, shaped like hearts, and full of cranberries, orange-zesty brown sugar, and fresh-squeezed orange juice. 
You see all those crispy, crackly brown sugar bits? This is why you use parchment paper. Otherwise you'll be scrubbing your baking sheets for days. Truth. 

So yeah. These are good...

- Burning-hot off the baking pan. 

- At midnight, cold, smuggled out of the kitchen like nobody's business. 

- Warm, with melted butter. 

Dunked in drizzled with sugary-orange icing. 

- With both. 

- With breakfast. With lunch. With dinner. 

- Eaten all. by. your. self.

Can I just say it? I love brown sugar. 
Maybe there's hope for March after all.

Heart-Shaped Cranberry Orange Cinnamon Rolls 

2 cups Bisquick or buttermilk baking mix
2/3 cup milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon 
1 cup cranberries (I used dried, but fresh would work too
The zest from two oranges
The juice from one orange

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. 

In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, and zest from one orange; set aside. 

Juice one orange and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the Bisquick, milk, zest from the second orange, and a tablespoon of the fresh-squeezed orange juice with a wooden spoon, just until dough comes together. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 3-4 minutes. 

Roll dough into a large rectangle, about 1/4-inch thick. Brush with melted butter. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture and cranberries over the top. Drizzle a tablespoon of fresh orange juice over the top.
... I really like cranberries. Feel free to use less.

Carefully lift both ends of the dough and roll both towards the center, like a scroll. Cut in 1/2-inch slices. You may have to reform them a little bit or pinch the ends to make them look more heart-like. (If you don't want to make them heart-shaped, just roll the dough up jelly-roll style, cut into 12 cinnamon rolls, and bake on a baking sheet or in a greased muffin tin.)

Place on baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the biscuits comes out clean. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to wax paper to cool completely.

*I didn't have the patience to stop eating these long enough to glaze them, but to make an orange glaze, mix 1 cup powdered sugar with 2-3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice. Drizzle over the top and get to eating! 

Source: Adapted from the cinnamon pinwheels recipe.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Brown Butter-Peanut Butter Truffle Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I am in love...

With every single word of that insanely long title.
Brown butter? Yes. 

Swirls of peanut butter truffle? I'm into it.

Chocolate chip cookies? Get in my FACE.
Three things!

1. I didn't "get" brown butter until I licked it off a hot whisk and burnt my tongue this week. I'm not even ashamed to admit that happen. I did that. It's real life.

Plus, if you want to get technical, it was research. Butter research. What if I browned it and it tasted like shoes and I put it in these cookies and everyone made them and hated them and I got labeled the worst baking blog ever? I'd have to blog about like... shoes probably.
2. I bit into one of these right out of the oven (also research) while on the phone with my dad and yeah, maybe I yelled "OH MY GOD" so loud he thought I was being murdered. Crispy edges, melty chocolate, ribbons of hot, creamy peanut butter, AND that rich something-special from the nutty brown butter?

I can't even deal. 
3. You need these in your life. Trust.
Anddddd if you don't, then I do... because they're definitely almost gone. 
P.S. Instagram! I have it now. Feel free to stalk me and/or steal a cookie and explain all these buttons to me.     

Brown Butter-Peanut Butter Truffle Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Peanut Butter Truffles
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups chocolate chips

Line an 8x8-inch baking dish with foil and spray with no-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix powdered sugar and peanut butter until smooth (using your hands works best). Spread in baking dish and flatten with hands. Place in freezer for at least 30 minutes.

To brown butter, melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk frequently and heat until it's golden brown and giving off a nutty aroma. Remove from heat and pour into a heat-proof bowl; allow to cool to room temperature

P.S. I nearly singed my face off trying to smell this mysterious "nutty" smell, but trust me, when it's perfect? It'll turn from yellow to golden brown in a second and give off an obvious nutty scent. Like being punched in the face by a really mean hazelnut.

Let's bake cookies!

Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove peanut butter truffles and cut or tear into small pieces; place back in freezer for at least ten minutes. Don't worry about them looking perfect; I obviously didn't... 
In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and browned butter. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour, baking soda, and salt until just incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips. Gently fold in chunks of peanut butter truffle. You want them to be visible, not completely blended into the dough. (Note: This makes a lot of peanut butter truffles. Use as much or as little of it as you want!)

Scoop onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, flatten slightly with hand, and bake for 10-13 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

Source: Brown butter chocolate chip cookie recipe from Brooke and peanut butter truffle cookie recipe from Picky Palate.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Old-Fashioned Cake Doughnuts.

Baking homemade cake doughnuts requires a few important skills.

Love... you must love turning flour, sugar, and butter into crispy, cakey breakfast dessert.
Patience... not to eat every single crunchy, golden brown doughnut as it sizzles and pops to the top of hot oil.
Understanding... that hot oil is really, really hot.

Willingness... to get a little messy, dye sugar pink, and use handfuls of heart-shaped sprinkles with abandon.
Fearlessness... to keep on frying, even if the first doughnut isn't perfect.

Acceptance... that you cannot glaze a hot doughnut without melting the icing off, no matter how hungry you are.
And a promise.

To try these.

To dip them in pink or cinnamon-sugar or chocolate icing.

... and maybe even eat them for dinner.

Old-Fashioned Cake Doughnuts

Printable Recipe

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
A pinch of salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Vegetable oil for frying

Vanilla Icing
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 to 3 drops red food coloring
2-3 tablespoons milk

Line a baking sheet or work surface with a thick layer of paper towels; set aside. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, nutmeg, salt, and granulated sugar. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the sour cream, egg, and melted butter; fold into the flour mixture using a rubber spatula until fully incorporated. (I used my hands for this part as it takes a little bit of work to get the dough together). 

Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes. 

Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour and turn dough out onto counter. Roll or pat out to 1/2-inch thick and cut using a round 2 1/2-inch doughnut or biscuit cutter. 

Place a candy thermometer in a medium saucepan, pour oil in about 1 1/2 inches, and heat over medium-low heat to 360°F.

When oil reaches temperature, carefully fry two or three doughnuts at a time, for about 1 minute on each side (doughnut holes only need 30 seconds on each side). Remove from oil, let excess oil drain off, then place on paper towels to cool.
Note: Be sure to keep an eye on the temperature. Make small adjustments to the heat as needed and adjust your cooking time accordingly.

When cooled completely, make the glaze by whisking together powdered sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, food coloring, and 2 tablespoons milk.

If glaze is too thick to dip doughnuts in, add another tablespoon of milk. Dunk cooled doughnuts face-down in the glaze, decorate with sprinkles, then set on paper towels or wax paper to set.

Source: Doughnut recipe from Joy the Baker, icing adapted from same recipe.

Hidden Mickey!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I Wish I Was Wearing... Wednesday.

Because I...

Spend too much time on Pinterest.

Wish my wardrobe were more sparkly.

Wish I had the legs for short dresses.

Wish masquerades and balls were a twenty-first century thing, for real.

And because sometimes I need a distraction from sugar, butter, and real life...

I may or may not have made collages of sparkly things I wish I had a reason to wear based off whatever movie or book I'd just spent several hours of my life burrowed inside. 

Like so.

It happens.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Things. On a Tuesday.

1. My birthday! It happened.

There were Christmas stores, tiaras, family, cake, and balloons, pastries filled with buttercream, pastries filled with coconut and raspberries, sparkly nail polish, adventures in doughnut-making, and a fancy iPod Touch!

I am officially 25...
And totally into it.

2. Whenever I'm having a bad day, I scroll through this celebration board on Pinterest. Is that weird? Something about staring at four hundred plus photos of fireworks and champagne and confetti that fixes me right up.

3. Speaking of Pinterest, I've just sent my boyfriend an email invite.

So really, what I need to know is:

... do I delete my Weddings board? Start a diamond rings board? Can I still pin photos of puppies in mixing bowls?
I die.

4. Oh Kristin Bell? My hero, no big deal.
5. I've been to two crab feeds in 2012. Do you know what that is? You pay money to sit, eat crab, dunk it in butter, repeat over and over, and at the end they gave you a cupcake.

Um... yes.

Also: why is a cheesecake feed not a thing?

6. And last, but not least, a bit of real life.

My boyfriend and I went to the grocery store last week. That's all. Just kidding.

P.S. This is what his cart looked like after I wandered off for two seconds.
Anyway. I needed whipping cream. After finding it, I headed back through the store when I noticed the little email light flashing on my phone. I looked up, saw my boyfriend, and kept walking with my head down, opening my email, type-type-typing, reading with one hand while putting the whipping cream in the cart with the other.

And then I looked up.

... at the happy couple whose cart I had just walked up to and very nonchalantly dropping my groceries into.

By the way, I blame you. It was a blog comment I was reading.

Happy Tuesday & Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Snickerdoodle Cookies for Two.

It's here.

It was just New Year's Eve and now... now it's Valentine's Day Eve. 

I'm into it though! I am unashamedly one of those girls who gets especially excited about February 14th, probably because it's three days after my birthday which really means a four day long celebration of presents, balloons, sprinkles, and cake.  
Valentine's Day does have some major strings attached to it though, doesn't it? It's the one day every year when I forget all reason and sink into the pressure. You know what I'm talking about it. That compulsion to do super important things like: 

Send flowers to everyone I know. (Tulips. Always.)

Buy complicated frilly underthings. 

Bake heart-shaped things. And things that are red velvet. And pink velvet.

... and covered in lots and lots of heart-sprinkles. 

Make reservations at a fancy restaurant. Hope for diamonds. Drink champagne. Watch every Nicholas Sparks movie I own. 

Yes, in that order.

Buy conversation hearts. Wear sparkly heels somewhere. Anywhere. The grocery store. 

Expect a fancy date. And romance. Stress over presents. Buy unnecessary greeting cards instead of just saying straight to someone's face, "Hey. I love you. You make my life fantastic."
This year I'm keeping it simple.

Instead of stressing over presents (what present sums up 365 days the most? what present subtly says, hey, no big deal, but we've been dating almost four years, can you please put a ring on it?) I'm going with what he's actually stated in -very specific words- that he wants. Something useful. And manly. Something that is so NOT Valentine's Day that it's totally perfect.

Fancy dates? Dinner? Can I tell you. Our first Valentine's Day we went to the Olive Garden. 

... and we waited an hour and 45 minutes. 

That's love. For real.

But we've put in our time and this year we're keeping it simple. Old-school even. Movie night! And later... an aquarium date. Yeah I said it. 

Oh and the sugar and butter situation? You will not find me painting plastic candy molds with chocolate this Valentine's Day, or trying to figure out mini heart-shaped springform pans. No. Not this year. Chocolate chip cookies. Rice Krispie treats. Snickerdoodles. Classics.
So this Valentine's Day... don't stress it. Don't watch The Notebook. Stay away from the frilly underthings. Relax on the red velvet. Bake tiny batches of cookies, give someone a hug or high five, and be thankful you're not a new couple at the Olive Garden. Seriously.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Snickerdoodle Cookies for Two 

Printable Recipe

2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 heaping tablespoon beaten egg (I know. It's awkward.)
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons sugar + 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon for rolling in

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the softened butter, oil, granulated sugar, powdered sugar and egg, until combined.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Add to the butter mixture and stir until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until no clumps of flour remain. Dough will be slightly soft and tacky, but don't worry... it'll turn into big fluffy cookies in a second.

Like so.
In a small bowl, stir together the 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon. Divide dough into four parts. Roll each part into a ball, then roll in cinnamon-sugar and place on the baking sheet. Flatten with your hand or with the bottom of a glass dipped in cinnamon-sugar.

Bake for 9-10 minutes, or until done. Let cool on baking sheet and share them with somebody you love. Bonus points if it's yourself.

Makes 4 cookies.

Source: Adapted from my snickerdoodles and chocolate chip cookies for two recipes.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Old-Fashioned Candy "Milkshakes".

It's February 10th and that means one very important thing:

Breaking Dawn comes out tomorrow.

The Vow comes out today.

It's my last day of being 24!
I'm in full-on celebration mode... which means there's a sparkly purple tiara on my head, which I plan on wearing absolutely everywhere, I'm not even joking, a season of Charmed somewhere about in my room, that I bought and hid from myself two weeks ago, and birthday expeditions being planned that involve spending time with family, hunting down sugary pastries, blowing up balloons, visiting Alcatraz, baking heart-shaped things, maybe some confetti, hopefully some fireworks... and basically spending the entire weekend in my pajamas.

Oh yeah. And somewhere in there are these milkshakes... 
... which fill me with glee and make me crave a strawberry milkshake all at the same time. 
These were so much fun to make and, if you don't super glue M&Ms to yourself and/or buy the wrong size foam ball the first time around, can be put together in less than ten minutes. I'm serious! They're perfect for Valentine's Day, birthday parties, last-minute festive centerpieces or gift-giving... or for absolutely no reason  at all.

Let's do this! 

Old-Fashioned Candy "Milkshakes" 

An ice cream sundae glass 
1 (4-inch, 4 7/8-inch, or 5-inch) white foam ball, cut in half with a sharp knife
Glue dots or a hot glue gun
A straw
Salt water taffy
1 red heart-shaped or round candy (like milk chocolate Lindt balls) for the "cherry" on top

Fill ice cream glass with M&Ms. Eat a handful. You deserve it. 
Cut foam ball in half. Set on top, securing to the rim using glue dots or a hot glue gun if you must. 
I really do recommend using glue dots for a less messy, super easy and low-stress experience. My first attempt at making these ended up with liquid glue dripping into the M&Ms and it was awkward for everybody. I found these clear adhesive 3D dots at Michael's... 
And they pretty much saved my life. 
See? Four dots. That's all you need. No need to go bananas here. 

Plop the fake ice cream on top. Press down lightly to anchor it to the glass. 
Gently poke your straw through the foam (P.S. Heart-shaped straws. Walmart. $.97)... 
... then hot glue or glue dot taffy all over the place (I used glue dots for this part too)! 
I found these Valentine's-colored taffy at Trader Joes. They were festive. I was into it.
Glue a red heart-shaped or round candy on top and look! 
You made a milkshake. 

It's magic, how crafty you are. 

Make someone's day this Valentine's weekend with a candy milkshake... then celebrate with a real milkshake. It's the best thing to do in these situations.