Tag: Brownies/Cookies

Baking Chronicle No. 33: Lemon-Poppyseed Cookies!

Baking Chronicle No. 33: Lemon-Poppyseed Cookies!

I recently picked up poppyseeds from the grocery store, and I’ve been anxious to use them. So when, while flipping through the Taste of Home magazine (see my last post), I saw a recipe for awesome-looking lemon-poppyseed cookies, I couldn’t resist!

The recipe was fairly simple. It was a shortbread cookie with lemon juice, lemon zest, and poppyseeds. I first creamed the butter and the sugars, then I added the spiced and the dry ingredients. Next, I refrigerated the dough so, once it was firm, I could roll the dough out.

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My dough was fairly soft before I refrigerated it, but it was definitely firm after 20 minutes in the fridge and 10 in the freezer.

After 20-30 minutes (some of which the dough spent in the fridge and some of which it spent in the freezer), I rolled out the cookie dough on plastic wrap. Then, when I tried to cut out a cookie, it stuck and wouldn’t come out cleanly. The dough felt too moist and definitely not firm enough to successfully roll, despite having been solid when it had left the freezer.

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My rolled-out cookie dough became a total mess once I tried to cut anything out, so I just rolled small balls out of the scraps.

So, I did what I do best: I improvised! I gathered up small, unequal-sized pieces of dough, rolled them into balls, and pressed them flat with a glass. Then the cookies began to stick to the glass, so I used my hands (which is why you can see the impressions of my fingers in some of the cookies).

Eventually I had around 35 semi-uniform cookies! I baked them for 12 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.

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My cookies right before I baked them. Surprisingly, I managed to make them mildly uniform!

Next, I made a lemon glaze from How to Bake Everything to top the cookies. It seemed a little thin after I had finished making it, but I was reluctant to add more sugar like the instructions suggested lest it lose its wonderful lemon-y taste. Instead, I added corn starch and meringue powder until it felt thicker. Then I messily spread the glaze on the cookis and refrigerated the extra.

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The glazed cookies. The merginue powder I added ensured that the glaze dried hard.

The cookies were amazing. The lemon flavor really popped, the cookies had a wonderful buttery texture, and the poppyseeds added a nice nuttiness and crunch! My family loved them and all of my friends who tried them raved about how good they were! I totally recommend getting the Taste of Home magazine just for this recipe, and I will definitely make these again!

Baking Chronicle No. 31: Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Baking Chronicle No. 31: Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies!

A few years ago Sophronia and I had made these amazing chocolate chip cookies with Oreos in the middle. They were so delicious that we decided to recreate them using King Arthur Flour’s Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion.

This is my all-time favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. It’s just so soft and chewy and amazing! I highly recommend getting this cookbook solely for this recipe.

First, we mixed the dough, which came together easily.

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The finished cookie dough! The nice thing about this recipe is that it holds a lot of chocolate chips.

Next, I tried to coat the Oreos in cookie-dough by hand, which didn’t go well. The dough was too sticky and difficult to handle (probably because the cookies are meant to be soft and to spread). So instead, wholly unfazed, we dropped the dough by the teaspoonful and pressed Oreos into the tops of the cookies before baking them!

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The bottom two cookies are the only ones that I succeeded in stuffing with Oreos. For the rest, we just pushed the Oreos into the tops!

This worked marvelously: the Oreos were warm and and the filling was melted and sweet, and the cookie tasted fantastic! All in all, a great-tasting idea!

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We eventually ran out of Oreos, which is why some cookies have Oreos baked into the top and why some don’t.

The most interesting cookies were the two that had Oreos in the middle (the only ones I had attempted to “stuff” with Oreos before throwing in the towel). It tasted awesome and looked really cool!

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The inside of an Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookie!

I will definitely make these again, just because it’s such a tasty combination! I would recommend using a different cookie recipe though, only because you can actually succeed at “stuffing” the chocolate chip cookies with Oreos if the batter is stiffer (which would be true of a different recipe).

P.S. Sophronia read the recipe for the pumpkin ice cream in Adventures in Baking No. 30, and she also couldn’t find where the instructions said to add the pumpkin! (Thank goodness, or else that would mean I can’t read.)

Adventures in Baking No. 30: Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream and Gingersnaps

Adventures in Baking No. 30: Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream and Gingersnaps

Well, this was one strange baking ride. I originally wanted to make ice cream sandwiches – gingersnaps with pumpkin ice cream sounded like an amazing pairing – but I guess we’ll never know, because the ice cream went way south.

First, I decided to make the Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream recipe from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones, one of my ice cream cookbooks (one of two, to be exact). It looked exactly how I expected pumpkin ice cream to be made, based on prior knowledge, and I made the custard with no problem – except for the fact that I had no working thermometer.

Yeah, not only did our instant-read thermometer break, but our meat thermometer (which I sometimes use in severe emergencies) requires two hands and several minutes to work. Since I had neither time nor two hands, as I had to stir the custard constantly after tempering the eggs and putting them back on the heat, I did it by eye.

This, in theory, should have worked: I’ve made custard before, I know what cooked custard looks like, and I did the line test (where you drag your finger through the liquid coating the back of the spoon, and if the line holds it’s done). Moreover, the custard did indeed coat the back of the spoon. I still felt a little nervous, though, so I cooked it for another two minutes (which, at the time, I thought was risky) before straining it and putting it into an ice water bath.

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My (theoretically) finished custard.

Then I read the instructions, because this was when (drawing on having read the beginning of the recipe and having read many ice cream recipes) I thought I should add the pumpkin puree.

Nowhere in the instructions did it tell me to add the puree.

I’m serious. The ingredients called for puree, and there was even a little blue bubble note telling me that I could use my own homemade pumpkin puree (who even has time for that?), but nowhere in the actual instructions did it tell me to add the pumpkin. I think I stared at the page for a full five minutes, wondering whether or not I was somehow too tired to read properly before realizing, after reading it for the hundredth time, that I wasn’t crazy. The instructions just didn’t mention the pumpkin. At all.

So I just said “Why not?” and added the pumpkin to the finished base. I beat it in with a whisk until smooth and then chilled the custard.

Next, I made the gingersnaps, which was way more soothing. The recipe, from How to Bake Everything, was easy to make and used all of the ingredients (never thought I’d have to add that qualifier). I made the dough, shaped it into two logs, and chilled it in the freezer (I think “refrigerate” is really a recommendation) before cleaning the ice cream maker and preparing to churn the ice cream base.

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My shaped cookie dough

I churned the base! It didn’t go well (predictably).

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I was too sad and stressed once the ice cream had finished churning to remember to take a photo, so here’s what the ice cream looked like at the beginning of churning! It’s basically the same as what it looked like at the end of the churning, minus a few lumps.

Basically, it didn’t “inflate” or become aerated, and I don’t know if this is because my ice cream bowl wasn’t cold enough or if the base wasn’t cold enough, but my guess at the time was that my custard was under-cooked and needed to be put back on the heat.

(My “why not?” philosophy was really the guiding force once I had reached this part of the bake, so since the idea sounded semi-reasonable, I just did it.)

At this point, I had already started shaping the gingersnaps into rounds and baking them.

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I pressed the cookies into rough circles before baking them.

So once all of cookies had come out of the oven I dumped the custard into the saucepan and reheated it, and then I cooked it again until it really coated the back of the spoon and I was sure that it couldn’t be not cooked.

Then I strained and chilled and went through the whole process again, all the while cursing the dead thermometer with its strange batteries and the recipe’s lack of pumpkin instruction.

At long last, I re-churned the base, and…it was still not aerated. In fact, it was even soupier this time. I gave up and pushed the bowl into the back corner of my freezer.

The gingersnaps, on the other hand, were delicious. Absolutely fantastic – they had a great snap, a wonderful sweet flavor, and a nice kick from the ginger. I will definitely make those cookies again.

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The gingersnaps were AMAZING! 10/10

The ice cream, on the other hand…

Well, it tasted AWESOME! I mean, it was really frozen custard by the time I tried it, but it tasted fantastic. The spices blended beautifully and the pumpkin really shone through. However, the stress totally wasn’t worth it and I really don’t think I’ll make pumpkin ice cream again any time soon.

If anyone has any theories on why the ice cream failed, please let me know!

Adventures in Baking No. 22: Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches!

Adventures in Baking No. 22: Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches!

In my house, there is one dessert so revered that it is the standard by which all other baked goods are measured. It is a level of deliciousness that I constantly strive towards.

What’s the standard? A slice of bakery Birthday Cake.

And yesterday, I baked something that my family rated as the standard’s equal. So thank you, Tessa Arias, for another delicious ice cream sandwich recipe!

I decided to bake Cookies and Cream‘s vanilla ice cream recipe and the chocolate chip cookie recipe, because I wanted to recreate those awesome ice cream sandwiches from a nearby grocery store.

First, I made the vanilla ice cream. The recipe called for a vanilla bean, but since I didn’t have any vanilla beans, I used vanilla bean paste (which made the ice cream look amazing because it gave it a flecked appearance). I mixed together my milk, cream, 1/2 cup of sugar, and vanilla bean paste, then I heated the mixture while I combined my egg yolks and the rest of the sugar. Next, I ladled the hot milk into the eggs while whisking constantly, and then I dumped the eggs into the hot pan with the rest of the milk to finish making the custard. After the temperature reached 175 degrees Fahrenheit, I took the custard off of the heat and strained it into a pre-made ice bath. Finally, I refrigerated the cooled base after it had spent 15 minutes in the ice bath.

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My custard as it cooled in an ice-water bath (which really turned out to be more of a cool-water bath, if I’m honest). Look at all the flecks and the beautiful color! I credit the vanilla bean paste.

Two hours later, I churned my custard in my ice cream maker. Straight out of the bowl, I tried a spoonful, and the ice cream was delicious. I couldn’t savor it, however, because it needed to freeze before I made the sandwiches, so into the freezer it went!

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My churned ice cream!

(I know I say that things are delicious a lot, and that’s because I love dessert, but this vanilla ice cream was truly magnificent. I dislike vanilla ice cream in general (because, honestly, it could have been chocolate ice cream), but I loved this. The vanilla flavor was strong and really came through – definitely better than bland store-bought vanilla ice cream. If you haven’t ever made home-made vanilla ice cream, try it! It’s totally worth the stress of making custard.)

Next, I made the chocolate chip cookies. The recipe was straight-forward and what I expected, except for one little twist: Arias calls for 1 tablespoon of milk. I’ve never made a chocolate chip cookie recipe with milk, so I was excited to see what would happen. (Generally, my chocolate chip cookies use vinegar (thanks, King Arthur Flour!).)

After I finished the dough, I made 18 (ginormous) cookies and pressed them flat with my fingers.

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My cookies right before I popped them into the oven. The uneven ridges are because I stopped pressing them flat with my palm and instead used my fingers. Whoops!

Then I baked the cookies for 10 minutes or so before taking them out of the oven and transferring them to a cooling rack. Once they had cooled, I froze the cookies for an hour so that they would be solid when I assembled the sandwiches.

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My baked cookies – they were huge!

50 minutes later (I was impatient), I laid out my cookies and dolloped ice cream onto each pair to make 9 ice cream sandwiches. Then I wrapped each sandwich in plastic wrap and froze them for another 90 minutes before trying them.

The sandwiches were fabulous. There’s no other word, really. The vanilla ice cream really shone through, and the cookies added a nice bit of buttery crunch. I will definitely make this recipe again, but with one revision: chocolate chips on the edges of the ice cream!

 

Baking Chronicle No. 15: Cherry Brownies!

Baking Chronicle No. 15: Cherry Brownies!

There’s a restaurant in my town that makes these amazing blackberry brownies – they’re dense, chocolate-y brownies with blackberry jam baked into the top in a beautiful, marbled pattern. I love these brownies, and so when the whim to make jam struck me, I also decided to make brownies and swirl the jam onto them in the same style as the restaurant.

I was inspired to make these with a twist (the cherry jam) because…we had frozen cherries! I’d like to say that I was inspired by summer flavors or the Bake From Scratch magazine that I’ve been reading or the cherries in my refrigerator, but the truth is that the jam flavor was need-based. We had frozen cherries, and so I used the frozen cherries.

First, I thawed my frozen fruit for about 40 minutes before pouring the cherries into a saucepan and cooking for one minute. Then, as instructed by the recipe in How to Bake Everything, I added my 1/4 cup of sugar and my 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and turned up the heat until my mixture bubbled. Then I just stirred occasionally while cooking my English muffins.

Eventually I scraped the back of my wooden spoon with a fork, and a bit of the bright red liquid came off and held together with a jam-like texture. So I took the pan off the heat and let it cool, and then I poured my “jam” into a glass bowl to keep cooling.

There was only one problem: my jam consisted of liquid and cooked, dehydrated cherries. It seemed that I hadn’t chopped my cherries small enough, and so the fruit hadn’t cooked into a mushy, jam-like mass (at least, I think that’s what’s supposed to happen).

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My jam before its magical journey to the mystical blender

I had one last-ditch effort up my sleeve, however: the blender! After the mixture had cooled, I poured it into the blender and hit the pulse setting, which (surprisingly) worked! I achieved a jammy texture and a sour cherry flavor!

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After blender-therapy, my jam had a fabulous texture!

Next, I made my favorite brownie recipe from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion and added chocolate chips and white chocolate chips before baking for 10 minutes. Then I spread my jam on top and baked for another 25 minutes, until the brownies were done.

The final result was delicious. The sour jam lifted up the intense chocolate flavor of the brownies, creating a summery and sinful treat! I will definitely make this copy-cat recipe again – but hopefully with a different flavor of jam, just to see what happens! Please feel free to post jam flavor suggestions for next time!