Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pumpkin Baking Fest

Unexpected day off from school today and I don’t feel like studying any more for my peds final than I had planned to so... time to catch up on blogging lol My friend Jenny had a bunch of pumpkins leftover from Halloween so we decided to do a pumpkin themed baking fest. Obviously I didn’t want to study for my final and baking is always the answer to procrastination haha  So we decided on pumpkin snickerdoodles and pumpkin cheesecake brownies...yumm

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles- recipe adapted from baked perfection

3 cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (i just mixed together a 1:1 ratio of cinnamon and nutmeg)
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
1.5 cups sugar
1 egg
¾ cup pumpkin puree (can either be fresh or canned pumpkin)

¼ cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

-combine dry ingredients (flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice) in a bowl and set aside
-cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
-add egg and pumpkin puree; mix until combined
-add dry ingredients in portions, mixing well after each addition
-chill dough for at least an hour before using it

-mix together remaining sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl
-roll dough into one inch ball and coat with cinnamon sugar mixture
-space them about 2 inches apart on baking sheet
-bake at 350 for 12-15 min
-cool for 5 min before removing from baking sheet

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies- recipe adapted from cookie madness

For the pumpkin cheesecake filling:
12 oz cream cheese, softened
6 tbsp light brown sugar
2 tbsp granulated sugar
¾ cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
½ tsp vanilla extract
¾ tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tbsp flour

For the brownie:
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
¼ tsp salt
1.5 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cups semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled
1 cup flour

-make the filling first
-cream together cream cheese and both sugars
-add eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin puree
-stir in flour and set aside

-melt chocolate chips, set aside to cool
-cream together butter, salt, and sugar until light and fluffy
-add eggs and vanilla
-stir in melted chocolate
-add flour

-pour ¾ of the brownie batter into a greased 9 inch square pan
-pour pumpkin mixture evenly over the brownie batter
-drop leftover brownie batter in spoonfuls over the pumpkin layer
-swirl with a knife if desired
-bake at 350 for 45-50 min or until a toothpick comes out clean
-cool for a couple hours at room temp and then chill overnight

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Peanut Butter Galore

trade off...i make cookies for Liz, she makes me dinner. good deal considering i will take any opportunity to bake esp if everything is provided for me (and i don’t have to do dishes!) and i get food i can’t normally make with just my hot plate in my dorm room haha Liz is a peanut butter fanatic so the request was for peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. recipe adapted from southernfood.com

1/2 cup (1stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

-cream together the butter, peanut butter and sugars until light and fluffy
-add the egg and mix thoroughly
-in a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
-gradually add these dry ingredients to the butter mixture
-add the chocolate chips
-drop cookie dough by spoonfuls onto lightly greased baking sheets
-bake at 375 for 10-12 mins

Sunday, August 21, 2011

More Nutella Goodness

i love peanut butter nutella sandwiches...they’re my go to food at 1 am when i’m studying and starving haha why i didn’t come up with the idea for peanut butter nutella brownies myself is beyond me...had to steal the idea from someone :D mommy was catering a party and needed me to contribute something so i took this idea and ran with it. 

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1½ cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs at room temp
1 cup flour
¾ cup cocoa powder
⅛ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ cup Nutella
½ cup peanut butter (either crunchy or smooth is fine, depending on what you like)

-Grease a glass 9 by 13-inch baking dish.
-Sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder in a bowl; set aside
-Melt the butter over low heat; when melted, remove from heat and pour into a large bowl.
-With a wooden spoon, stir in the sugar and vanilla.
-Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
-Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture slowly, mixing well after each addition.
-Mix together the peanut butter and Nutella in a small microwave safe bowl.
-Heat until it reaches a runny consistency (about 30-45 sec).
-Stir the peanut butter-nutella mixture into the batter; then pour it into the baking dish.
-Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
-Allow brownies to cool completely before cutting.

nom nom nom!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Even More Nutella Experimentation

I'm not a huge fan of Nutella, something that nears sacrilege in this day and age, however, when conditions are right (as they are with many of Abby's Nutella confections), I can really enjoy a hint of the chocolate-hazlenut.  I experimented with a brownie recipe this evening.

Peanut Butter/Chocolate Nutella Brownies

- 1/2 cup butter melted
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Mix these two together until smooth
- 3/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup Nutella and mix until smooth. 
- 2 eggs
- 2 oz of unsweetened chocolate (melted)
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp salt

Mix and pour into a brownie pan.  Sprinkle the top with semi-sweet chocolate chips and Reese's Peanut Butter Chips (can also switch out 1/2 of the nutella for peanut butter in the brownies).

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes


Monday, August 15, 2011

Cookies for Breakfast!

Cookies for breakfast? Any cookie that has oatmeal in it qualifies in my opinion haha I made these double chocolate chip oatmeal cookies for my trip to San Diego along with oreo chocolate chip cookies... gotta have something healthy to balance out the oreos right? If you like super chewy and chocolate-y cookies, these are perfect for you! Recipe from itsybitsyfoodies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1¼ cup flour
½ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups oats
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

-Cream together butter and both sugars.
-Mix in the vanilla and eggs.
-Stir in the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda until just incorporated.
-Gradually add in the oats and chocolate chips.
-Drop the dough by spoonfuls onto a baking sheet.
-Bake for about 8 min or until they are just set.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cinnamon Monstrosity

Even before I came home, my sister had already “demanded” I bake for her since apparently my mom has desired to “retire” and not bake as often anymore. I know my sister loves snickerdoodles but I usually make those during the holidays so I decided to make this cinnamon sugar pull apart bread instead. Besides, bread is way healthier than cookies so my mom can’t complain that I’m going to get my sister fat in the 4 weeks that I’m home lol

Recipe from www.joythebaker.com where step by step pics can be found

For the Dough:
2¾ cups + 2 tbsp flour
¼ cup sugar
2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast (1 envelope)
½ tsp salt
2 eggs
4 tbsp (half a stick) butter
⅓ cup milk
¼ cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Filling:
1 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
4 tbsp butter, melted

-Sift together 2 cups of flour with the sugar, yeast, and salt; set aside
-In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs
-In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add milk; remove once butter has just melted
-Add vanilla and water, letting it stand for 1-2 min
-Add milk mixture to dry ingredients, fold to incorporate
-Add eggs to mixture... it will be very liquidy but keep mixing
-Add remaining ¾ cup of flour to mixture... dough will be a bit sticky which is perfect
-Put dough in large greased bowl and let it sit at room temp for about an hour or until it doubles in size- make sure to cover the bowl with saran wrap and a kitchen towel

-While the dough rises, prepare the filling
-Melt the butter and set aside
-Mix sugar together with cinnamon and nutmeg
-Grease and flour a 9x5x3 loaf pan (or whatever size you have)

-After an hour, deflate the dough and knead in 2 tbsp of flour
-Let it sit, covered with the kitchen towel, for 5 min
-Roll out the dough until it is about 20 inches in length and 12 inches in width...its okay if you can’t get it to 20 min, just roll it out as much as possible
-Brush the dough with the melted butter
-Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on top... use all of it!
-Cut the dough vertically into 6 strips
-Stack the strips and cut into 6 stacks
-Layer the stacks into the loaf pan like a flip book
-Cover with a kitchen towel and let the dough double its size (about 30-45 min)

-After doubling in size, bake at 350 for 30-35 min or until the top is golden brown
-Make sure it is golden brown because that usually means the insides are baked all the way through
-Let it cool for 20-30 min before running a butter knife along the edges
-Put a plate on top, then invert the loaf of bread

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Baking Post-Finals

What’s the first thing I do when I get home? Bake of course haha I can’t even begin to describe how nice it is to have my own kitchen again with all the supplies I need esp my lovely standing mixer. Today’s agenda: blueberry muffins for my best friend’s birthday. Moment of the day: arguing with my dad about whether I should use frozen or fresh blueberries. Things to know about my dad: he pretends to know everything about everything, he thinks he’s the expert in every field, he knows nothing about baking... he can’t even measure a cup of flour correctly which my mom pointed out to me when I complained to her about him trying to tell me how to bake. the story in short is that my dad peaked into the oven while the muffins were baking and commented on how the blueberries had burst and it was too liquidy. i told him that once they’re cooled, they’ll be fine but he kept insisting that i should have used frozen blueberries. why would anyone use frozen fruit when that fruit is in season? makes no sense to me, even my mom agreed with me when i texted her to complain that he was imposing on my kitchen time haha muffins turned out well despite said argument... recipe adapted from food.com

1/2 cup butter or 1/2 cup margarine, at room temp
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2.5 cups fresh or frozen blueberries depending on the season
2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
For the topping:
1 tbsp sugar mixed with 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

-Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy
-Add eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla
-Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl
-Fold in half of the dry ingredients, then half of the milk, repeat
-Fold in blueberries
-Spoon into lined/greased muffin tins, about half to two thirds full
-Sprinkle topping onto each muffin
-Bake at 375 for 20-30 min, until golden brown and toothpick comes out cleanly

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Baking During Finals = Necessary

Finals without baking cookies?! Unheard of...at least in my world that is lol since I live in the dorms, I don’t have a kitchen of my own but luckily my friend who lives close by offered her kitchen for me to use to cure the insanity of studying for finals. I’m really grateful to my friend for letting me use her kitchen but it really isn’t the same as having my own kitchen/supplies/baking utensils. So I had to look for a recipe that asked for the ingredients she had on hand (basic cookie recipes, nothing fancy) so we wouldn’t have to go out at 1 am to get supplies haha and living where we live (Washington Heights, New York) that isn’t a very good idea. After looking through my bookmarked recipes, I found this oreo chocolate chip cookie one which was perfect since I remember my friend offering me an oreo the week before when I was at her place.

Cookies are always the best in the middle of the night :D

-1 stick butter, softened
-6 tbsp sugar
-6 tbsp brown sugar
-1 egg
-1 tsp vanilla
-1¼ cup flour
-½ tsp baking soda
-½ tsp salt
-11 oreo cookies, crushed
-1 cup chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
Add egg and vanilla well mixed.
Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl.
Add dry ingredients in three portions to wet ingredients, mixing well after each addition.
Stir in oreos and chocolate chips until just combined.
Drop dough by spoonfuls onto baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes at 350 or until light brown on the edges, but still soft.
Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

What I’ve learned about baking cookies in New York that I think is pretty great is that it only takes 15 min for butter to soften because IT IS SO HUMID lol back in California, it takes 1-2 hours for butter to soften enough for me to cream but here in New York, we took the butter out of the fridge and 15 min later, it was ready to go. Awesome! BUT it still doesn’t make up for it being 100 degrees with insane humidity and when you open those oven doors, that rush of heat is almost unbearable. And then that heat sorta just sits in the kitchen and you have to get the hell outta there ASAP after the cookies are done lol But baking at 1 am definitely got me back into studying mode, baking is the answer to stress, lack of focus, info overload, and being brain dead... at least for me it is. So thank you Rolana for giving me the pick me up that I needed :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

baking from coast to coast

it’s been a month since i  moved to nyc and i haven’t had the chance to bake for two reasons: i don’t have an oven and i seriously don’t have time since i’m always in class, in lab, or at the hospital. but this past wknd, i made it a point to bake since it was my only wknd off for the rest of the month and it was my friend’s birthday the following week. so i borrowed my friend’s kitchen and it felt AMAZING to bake again lol i must sound crazy when i say i can’t live without baking, but i really can’t. i’m okay with it if you think i’m crazy. what i realized is that baking in new york is completely different from baking in california for one reason: the weather. its insanely humid in new york in the summer and even with the AC on, it doesn’t really help all that much. so, when the recipe says to cool whatever you baked before transferring/cutting, in california that means letting it sit out for however amount of time but in new york, it means sticking it in the FREEZER for that same amount of time. i learned this lesson the hard way haha

my friend LOVES nutella so i decided to make nutella brownies since brownies don’t require creaming butter which is ridiculously annoying if you don’t have either a hand or standing mixer which i clearly don’t have. having to cream butter in like 90% humidity is the worst idea ever.  nutella has a completely different consistency when left out in new york as opposed to california. its liquidy and somewhat gooey...so i’ve learned that refrigerating nutella in new york is a must unless you want the oil to separate from the chocolate...gross. after taking the brownies out of the oven, i let it cool on the table for about 30 min and it was still gooey in the middle which if it had been the case back in california, it would have somewhat solidified by then. so i let it sit out for another 30 min, nothing happens...i realized the humidity was sorta continuing to bake my brownies outside the oven...no good. so i stick them in the fridge and after an hour, the pan was STILL WARM OMG. so finally i got sick of waiting and i was somewhat irritated so i stuck the pan in the freezer and only after THREE HOURS did the brownies finally solidify to the point that you could eat it without it oozing out from the middle. but after all that, my friend said the brownies were awesome so i’m still happy. i tweaked this recipe a little but, adding more flour so it would be a little less fudgey and cutting out some sugar so it wouldn’t be insanely sweet which i can’t stand. but if you like fudgey brownies, you’ll love this recipe :)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1.5 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
1.5 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup nutella
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

-sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, set aside
-with a small saucepan, melt the butter on low heat and add in the sugar and vanilla while constantly stirring
-remove from heat and cool completely before adding eggs one at a time...mix well after adding each egg
-add the flour mixture, in 3 portions, to the egg mixture until completely incorporated
-add the nutella and chocolate chips and mix to combine
-pour into a square (either 8x8 or 9x9 baking pan) and bake for 30-35 min (tip: bake for 25 min first and use a toothpick to check how done the brownies are and back for however many more minutes you need...the type of pan and oven you have can vary the cooking time)
-cool completely before cutting

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Guide for Novice Bakers

Many people think that baking is simple.  They get a recipe, follow it and if they don’t have the right equipment or the patience to wait, they often make horrible mistakes.  I’ve had coworkers complain that they followed my recipe to a T, only it turns out that they microwaved the butter and didn’t use the right kind of mixer.  

To make life simple for you, our hungry readers, we’ve outlined some of the most typical blunders that the novice baker makes.

PS. with input from the best baker of all, my mom :)

-Softened butter does NOT mean melted butter... waiting a bit longer for the butter to soften will make the difference between successful and fail cookies, don’t be impatient and just stick the butter in the microwave
-Baking soda and baking powder are NOT the same thing... both are used for a rising effect but they’re not interchangeable. more info found HERE
-Unless specifically stated, do not use ANYTHING straight from the refrigerator.  Let it equillibrate to room temperature (this means eggs, water, milk, etc)
-Let cream heat to just under boiling.  Don’t boil it unless you’re trying to make lumps.
-Never bake anything without greasing the pan first... it will stick miserably and its probably going to be somewhat burnt on the bottom/sides.
-Never completely trust your grandmother’s recipes
-Never bake cookies directly on the baking pan... always use parchment paper or silpat
-Double boilers are important.  Don’t think that using any old sauce pan is an option if a recipe calls for a double boiler. You can however place a bowl on top of a pot of boiling water as a substitute but never use only a sauce pan.
-Never measure liquids and dry ingredients using the same equipment... 1 cup of milk is not equal to 1 cup of flour
-There are different types of sugar... granulated sugar is NOT confectioner sugar, they are NOT interchangeable.  If you are using bakers sugar, sometimes the measurements are different than they are with granulated...sometimes they are not.  Read the package.
-When using brown sugar, you have to pack it. 1 cup of packed brown sugar is very different from 1 cup of unpacked brown sugar.
-Use the exact size of the pan the recipe calls for. If not, you must remember to adjust the baking time or whatever you’re baking will not rise correctly
-There are different types of flour... all purpose flour is NOT the same as cake flour, they are NOT interchangeable
-When the recipe says to fold in a particular ingredient, it does NOT mean to just mix it. Folding and mixing are two completely different things.