Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hard to find


Do you ever have those days or in this case weeks where you feel like time is just disappearing. That is where I am at right now. My work did lay offs and that means the people left have to pick up the slack and now that the holidays are over its starting to get busy again. So I don't have any energy or time to do anything after work. That means no baking or anything that brings joy to my life. Between work, my holiday baking and my very first dinner party, I am wiped out this month. So that means no Daring Bakers challenge, which I feel awful about because I think that is my 3rd time missing but I just couldn't muster the strength. I made these Cheesecake Blondies with the equally hard to find Cinnamon Chips in November. If you can find the chips I would suggest buying more than one bag because it took me a few months to find them. So enjoy this great recipe and I'll talk to you all in 2009!


Cinnamon Chip Cheesecake Blondies

Blondie layer

6 tablespoons of melted butter
1 cup of brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
2/3 cup of cinnamon chips ( I have only found that Hershey's makes these)

Cheesecake layer
5 oz of cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 egg yolk

Preheat oven to 350 and line an 8x8 inch pan with foil and spray with non stick spray. In a bowl combine the cream cheese, sugar, cinnamon, flour and vanilla until smooth, then add in the egg yolk and beat until combined. In another bowl combine the melted butter and brown sugar and beat until smooth. Add in the egg and vanilla mix to combine. Add in the salt, flour, baking powder and cinnamon and mix to combine. Mix in the Cinnamon chips and spread into the prepared pan. Place small amounts of cream cheese over the blondie layer and run a knife through them to create swirls. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the middle is set. Cool completely before cutting.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Who needs a map for their Christmas Boxes.... I do


So as you can see I have a map on the inside of my Christmas boxes. Why you may ask. Do you ever have those people who you give baked goods too that you have worked long and hard on, and present them with this wonderful box only to have them say what is this and what is that. And the answer you want to give after the 3rd question is just eat the Damn cookie. This is to alleviate that issue and then you can just drop off your boxes and everyone knows what they got and what they want to eat and not eat. But I was successful and made everything I set out to make but not the extra things but I think I did a pretty bang up job and that my Christmas box recipients are pretty lucky. So I will post the list again and a link to most of the recipes, click on the name.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

Pistachio Spice Cookies

Spritz Cookies

Spiced Sugar Coins

Chewy Molasses Cookies

Brownies

Mini Rum Butter Cakes

Lemon Bread

Streuseled Banana Bread

7 Layer Bars

Cinnamon Coffee Cake Bread

Grand Marnier Glazed Baby Cakes

Now onto the Barks - No recipes as they were super easy

White Chocolate Peppermint - white chocolate with broken up candy canes on top

Dark Chocolate Cherry - Dark chocolate with chopped dried cherries mixed in

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter - Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter swirled on top ( I mixed some chocolate with warm peanut butter) This one didn't set up as well as I would have liked.

Cookies and Cream - White chocolate with crushed Oreo cookies mixed in

Espresso Almond - Dark Chocolate with espresso powder mixed in with slivered almonds on top

Pina Colada - White Chocolate with coconut, chopped dried pineapple and chopped macadamia nuts mixed in.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

I've been Bad

I know its been far to long between posts and I'm sorry but I promise that in the next few days I will not disappoint with several posts. If you don't remember from last year I LOVE Christmas. As soon as Thanksgiving is over, ok lets be honest before it even is Thanksgiving Im in total Christmas mode, I want to decorate the house, and I get in holiday baking mode. I Start to Stock up on butter, flour, sugar and all the essentials. So my Dining Room table is now covered in that and I can't wait to start baking tommorrow.

If you don't remember last year's boxes HERE is the post.

But Don't worry I push myself probably too hard and I have to top the previous year's box each year so here is the planned list of items for the box.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookies
Pistachio Spice Cookies
Spritz Cookies
Spiced Sugar Coins
Chewy Molasses Cookies
Brownies
Mini Rum Butter Cakes
Lemon Bread
Streuseled Banana Bread
7 Layer Bars
Cinnamon Coffee Cake Bread
Grand Marnier Glazed Baby Cakes

Now on to the Barks
White Chocolate Peppermint
Dark Chocolate Cherry
Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter
Cookies and Cream
Expresso Almond
Pina Colada

And There might be one more bark and possibly caramels.

So I will have my hands full for the next three days wish me luck and pray for my feet!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Teacher's Pet

My husband has class on Tuesday’s and I have decided to subject them to my baked goods as I don’t need to be eating as much as I am. So this was the first thing I sent with him and boy were they good. I was wishing that I wasn’t planning on sending them because I think I could polish off the whole 9x13 pan by myself. So they had to leave the house as soon as possible. His class really liked them so after a week off I am going to be making something again tonight for them. I don’t know about you but I have to send almost everything I make out of the house immediately otherwise I think I would weigh a million pounds. I already need to hit the treadmill more than I do, Leslie’s self imposed hiatus is sounding really tempting right now but with the holiday’s around the corner I don’t think I will be able to avoid any desserts!

Caramel Apple Bars Adapted from My Baking Addiction

2 cups AP Flour 2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 cup of butter, melted
1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 cup of chopped apple
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Caramel Sundae sauce to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, spray a 9x13 inch pan with non stick spray. Mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon; set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together melted butter, brown sugar, and 1 cup of white sugar with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture until just combined, then stir in the apples. Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. In a cup or small bowl, stir together the remaining cinnamon and sugar; sprinkle over the top of the bars.
Bake for 30-35 minutes in preheated oven; finished bars should spring back when lightly touched. Cool in the pan, and cut into squares.
After these cooled I drizzled them with caramel sundae sauc
e.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sugar Spice Coins


6 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar + 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla paste
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 extra large egg yolk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add in 1/2 cup of sugar and cream together. Add in the vanilla and mix well. In a bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Add this into the butter mixture in 3 additions and mix until it forms a dough. Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a cylinder using a sheet of wax paper, so that they are about 10 inches long and 1 inch wide. Cover the rolls tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Once you are ready to bake them, lightly beat the egg yolk and coat the outside of each roll with the egg. Then roll in the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar so it coats completely. Cut into 1/2 inch slices and bake for 5 minutes then rotate the pans in the oven and bake for another 5 minutes. Let the cookies cool completely on the cookie sheet.

Adapted from Sugar Spice Coins by Carole Bloom from "The Essential Baker".

A Few Days Late and the cake that nearly killed me


So Im back on the boat of Daring Bakers Challenges. Now I made this back in the middle of November because I wanted to have time to make it with everything holiday coming up. So this cake sounded fantastic because well I love caramel. So this and a brown butter type frosting I knew I would eat the whole cake. So I pulled together all of my ingredients and got to work, when I noticed that my cake pan was not the 2 to 2.5 inches as required so I got scared of the cake going over the top of the pan so I decided to split the cake into two layers. That is when this recipe started going south. My cooled caramel syrup was not really syrup it was more of a soft caramel, (my bad I guess I over cooked it) and then as soon as it hit the kitchen aid mixer bowl it totally seized up. Then the batter seemed like enough when I put in in the layers but it didn't really do all that much in the oven. So I frosted it and ate it anyway and it was good but it was super dense and I had a few crunchy bits but I will try to make this again as everyone else's looks fantastic.


CARAMEL CAKE WITH CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F

Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

CARAMEL SYRUP

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.
To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light

(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon which can be seen here.)

Thanks again to the lovely hosts and co hosts to this month's challenge.
Dolores, Alex, Jenny, and Natalie.