Tag: Chocolate

Adventures in Baking No. 32: Butterfinger Bites!

Adventures in Baking No. 32: Butterfinger Bites!

So I saw the most recent issue of Taste of Home magazine in the grocery store this weekend, and it was their holiday cookie edition! It looked super cool (and, after reading it, I can confirm that it is) so I got it and picked a recipe to make! My entire family loves Butterfingers, so I made the Butterfinger Bites recipe!

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Look at that beautiful, shiny cover! The photographer for this magazine did an awesome job!

The recipe only required 4 ingredients, which was awesome because I love simple recipes! The amazing secret: peanut butter and candy corn tastes like Butterfingers!

First I melted the candy corn in the microwave, which took a few minutes because the candy seized a bit. However, after heating up the candy corn some more, it smoothed out.

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My candy corn before I melted it

Next, I added the peanut butter, microwaved the mixture some more, and stirred until smooth.

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It took a few tries but the mixture finally came together!

Then I had to work fast to shape the mix into round balls, which was painful (I had to use my hands to roll the truffles quickly or else the mixture would harden).

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I successfully shaped the candy corn mix into only minorly misshapen truffles, which I considered a victory considering my general inability to shape desserts!

After that, I let the truffles cool while I melted the chocolate to make the coating. Then I dipped the Butterfinger bites in the chocolate and set them on my Sil-Pats to dry.

I tried dusting the truffles with sprinkles, which only partially worked – the orange sugar sprinkles sunk right into the chocolate, but the pearly Halloween-colored sprinkles stayed on the top and looked beautiful!

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I sprinkled the majority of the truffles with the invisible orange sprinkles, so these are the only bites with the right sprinkles.

Once the chocolate dried, I popped a Butterfinger bite in my mouth. It was beautifully sweet, wonderfully peanut-buttery, and it had a great crunch! I will definitely make this recipe again and I highly recommend the Taste of Home magazine!

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. 28: Peanut Butter Brownies!

Adventures in Baking No. 28: Peanut Butter Brownies!

I absolutely adore peanut butter and chocolate together. Frankly, it’s one of my all-time favorite flavor combinations – it’s just so rich and delicious! So for fun, I decided to make King Arthur Flour’s Triple Play Brownies recipe!

Except (it seems that there’s always some sort of deviation, doesn’t it?) I really didn’t want to have to make a peanut butter crust. (The recipe calls for a peanut butter crust, chocolate brownies, and peanut butter frosting.) Making crusts takes way too much time when I’m just looking for a quick bake. As a result, I omitted the crust and just made King Arthur’s amazing On-The-Fence brownie recipe from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion and the accompanying peanut butter frosting!

First, I made the brownie batter. It was extremely easy to throw together (the beauty of the recipe), and within 30 minutes it was in the oven. Then, while the bars baked, I made the frosting.

I’m going to rave about this frosting now, and I’ll probably still be raving about it twenty years from now. It’s just that fantastic.

Basically, the frosting is white chocolate and peanut butter.

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The sensational frosting of spectacular stupendousness! (Yes, I used a thesaurus to find the extraordinarily fun words.)

Yeah, that’s it. It tastes phenomenal – a perfect balance of sweetness, saltiness, and nutty flavor – and it’s also super-easy to make. Moreover, the frosting is easy to spread and it dries hard, so it could be used for cookies, too (not that I’ve done that yet, but it sounds like a fabulous idea).

And if you make the frosting far too early (like I did, when I made it 30 minutes before the brownies came out of the oven), you can just reheat it!

This frosting is a miracle cure-all of a dessert topping. I love it so much.

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I frosted the brownies about 5 minutes after I took them out of the oven.

So these brownies were fantastic, because the brownies were tasty (wonderfully rich and chocolaty without feeling too dense) and the frosting was scrumptious! (They were so amazing that I’m saving one in my freezer for a special occasion.) I will definitely make these again, probably with another twist!

Adventures in Baking No. 26: Birthday Cake!

Adventures in Baking No. 26: Birthday Cake!

Making birthday cake is always an exciting and fun event! (Mainly because birthday cake is an amazing dessert, regardless of the type, so baking it practically guarantees a fantastic treat.) So for my dad’s birthday, I made him (per his request) a chocolate cake filled with cherry jam and topped with fudge icing!

(My tendency to “off-road”,as we refer to it, inspired the specific directions.)

First, I made the chocolate cake recipe from How to Bake Everything. I halved the recipe to fit into two 6-inch cake pans (we love two layer cakes in my house!). First, I melted chocolate to mix into the batter, and then I creamed the butter and sugar in my electric mixer. (I used soft butter this time (I know, I was shocked too), which worked marvelously.) Next I added the vanilla, melted chocolate, egg yolk, and all of the dry ingredients excluding the flour before alternating adding the flour and milk to the batter. (While the directions instructed me to mix the dry ingredients together to start with and then add them to the batter as a whole, I regarded this as optional.)

After cleaning my mixing bowl and attachment, I whipped the egg white until soft peaks formed and folded it into the cake batter. Then I baked the cakes for approximately 13 minutes. While they were baking, I started cooking the cherry jam!

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I cooked the jam for a pretty long time because I wanted it to be nice and thick (which it was, thank goodness!)

Once the cakes were baked, I turned them out of their pans onto a cooling rack. However, I spectacularly broke one of them (it was my one klutzy moment in this bake) and had to piece it together.

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I tried to turn one of the cakes out of the pan one-handed, which was a HORRIBLE idea! Don’t try that at home!

I didn’t let that mishap faze me, however. I was making cake! So after I finished the jam, I prepared my fudge frosting – I heated the sweetened condensed milk, chopped my 8 ounces of chocolate, and measured out my vanilla. Then I dropped the chocolate and vanilla into the hot milk and stirred until smooth. After adding 3 cups of powdered sugar, I had my fudge frosting!

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My sweetened condensed milk heating on my stove

Except that it was really thick. And by really thick, I mean NOT SPREADABLE.

Which was kind of bad. I tried heating it, but that didn’t really work, so I decided to experiment and whipped out my rolling pin. Placing the frosting on some parchment paper, I rolled it out like fondant and (after assembling the broken cake layer like a jigsaw puzzle atop the jam filling) delicately laid it on top of the cake. I smoothed the sides like I’d seen bakers do on TV, and voila! I had a frosted cake. (It was much faster than frosting any other cake I’d made.)

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My frosted cake! The fudge was really shiny, which was kind of cool

However, the cake looked lumpy under the fondant (because I had broken the top layer; what a mistake to make!), so I made some royal icing to frost the sides with and cover the bumps. I then piped “Happy Birthday” on the top of the cake in mildly neat handwriting and tried my hand at a few flowers.

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The final product! My only regret is that I didn’t color the frosting on the sides

All that was left to do was wait for about 15 minutes for the frosting to dry. Then (after a super-fun photo shoot) we sliced into the cake!

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The sliced cake – look at all of that jam!

I thought I’d over-baked the cakes, and thank goodness, I was wrong! The cake was moist, soft, and delicious! The fudge frosting was sweet and rich, and the royal icing was tasty, too. What made the cake, though, was the jam. The cherry jam added a sourness as well as moisture and a wonderful texture! I really loved the cake, and so did my dad! This bake was a success and I will definitely try jam in the middle of a cake again!

 

 

Baking Chronicle No. 25: Chocolate-Hazelnut Brioche Buns!

Baking Chronicle No. 25: Chocolate-Hazelnut Brioche Buns!

After my long hiatus, I’m back with an awesome (and tasty) experiment of mine, Chocolate-Hazelnut Brioche Buns!

My basic thought process was that I wanted to try making brioche, and I needed to use the hazelnuts in my pantry. To finish, I just added chocolate (for obvious reasons), and this post’s bake was born!

First, I made the brioche recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Bake Everything. Brioche, an enriched French bread, was pretty easy to make. Basically, I combined all of my ingredients (by hand, since I have a permanent grudge against my food processor) and proved the dough. The one notable difference from other breads I’ve made, though, was the presence of three (three!) eggs and almost one whole stick of butter!

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My brioche dough, dotted with butter!

Next, I chopped and toasted my hazelnuts and mixed them with chocolate chips to create the center of my buns. Then, after my dough proved for about three hours, I shaped the dough into 12 rolls. (In hindsight, I should have made 16, as directed, but I really didn’t want to clean the other muffin pan, so I just made 12 really large buns.) Flattening the dough, I filled the centers with hazelnuts and chocolate, folded the edges over, and pinched the seams closed. Then I let my brioche rise for another hour!

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One of my rolls right before I finished shaping them. My dough was wet, so I had to use a lot of flour to handle it!

The one step I almost forgot was egg-washing the buns. (Egg washes give bread a nice, shiny crust.) I remembered, though (thank goodness for reading the directions!), and separated an egg before mixing the yolk with some milk. Next, I brushed my buns with the mixture before baking for about 25 minutes.

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My buns REALLY rose right before I baked them!

Half-way through the bake, the kitchen already smelled AMAZING (which, as all bakers know, is a really good sign). I couldn’t wait to try one! After ensuring that my brioche was baked by tapping the bottom, I took them out of the muffin pan and let them cool for about 10 minutes before cutting one open.

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My middle held together! I was really happy about it, because I wasn’t really sure it would work!

My brioche had wonderful air holes, a rich taste, and (shockingly) a center that held together! There were no gaps in the crumb structure, and the chocolate tasted magical in the middle of the delicious bread. The hazelnuts added a nice crunch, but probably should have been toasted for longer than two minutes!

Overall, this bake was successful! I will definitely make brioche again in the future (but perhaps not with semi-raw hazelnuts)!

 

Baking Chronicle No. 23: Chocolate Meringues!

Baking Chronicle No. 23: Chocolate Meringues!

This recipe comes courtesy of the King Arthur Flour website (if you want to make this recipe, click here) and my desperate need to make something that used four egg whites! My basic thought process was that making meringues was an easy way to dispose of the egg whites before they went bad, and then I’d make chocolate meringues because, well, everything’s better with chocolate!

(Logic?)

First, I whipped my egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt until they reached soft peaks. Then I dumped in my sugar (I figured that the instruction to add it gradually was really more of a suggestion) and whipped the meringues until stiff peaks formed.

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My meringue formed stiff peaks after approximately 7-8 minutes of whipping.

(A note on baking vocabulary (for those of you who don’t know): “soft peaks” means that you whip the egg whites until they contain just enough air to hold their shape when you pull the mixing attachment out. “Stiff peaks” means that when the mixing attachment is pulled out, the egg whites defy gravity (yay science!) and stick to the mixing attachment in a stiff peak, as pictured above.)

Next came the trickiest part: I had to fold cocoa powder into the meringues. The reason why you have to “fold” ingredients into a meringue is because the meringue is full of air (the air that you just whipped into it) and if you mix vigorously, it will deflate. Deflated meringue is not good, because a deflated meringue won’t develop the same melt-in-the-mouth texture that a normal (inflated?) meringue has after baking.

So folding is a pretty high-pressure experience. It also takes forever (I think it took me five to ten minutes to incorporate the cocoa powder). Finally, though, I was done mixing the batter!

Meringues are often piped, so I asked my sister to make me a piping bag (mainly because the last time I made a piping bag, I accidentally sprayed creme patisserie onto the carpet). I messily piped the meringues, popped them into the oven to bake, and then turned the oven off.

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I can honestly say that this is probably one of my best piping jobs…My worst was probably when I squirted pastry cream all over the carpet!

Yes, off. Meringues generally need a long bake – in fact, most people will stick them in the oven, turn the oven off, and then let them sit there overnight. My patience didn’t last that long, however; I took the meringues out of the oven two hours later and popped one into my mouth.

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My baked meringues!

The texture was amazing – in my opinion, it’s the real reason why people make meringues. It’s a beautiful crunch as you bite into it, and then the insides dissolve into sweet, chocolate bliss inside your mouth. Even when frozen, meringues still melt on your tongue.

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The inside of a meringue!

So I’d call this adventure a success! I will definitely end up making meringues in the future (because I really don’t know how else to use those leftover egg whites)!

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!