Monday, November 29, 2010

Guess what guys? A Giveaway!

It's December guys. Do you know what that means? Christmas shopping! And what better place to pick up everything than online? CSN Stores is the perfect place for everything you need. With over 200 stores, you can find tons of great products for even better prices! You could get a perfect present for everybody on your Christmas list, or even for yourself! Do you need some new bags? Or even better, what about buying sling backpacks for everyone on your list? You can never have too many bags! (haha, I sound like those super duper long commercials advertising a cleaning solution!) Alexandra, from CSN, has generously offered to give one of you a $35 gift card in the form of a promotional code that can be used on any product on their site. And all you have to do to enter is comment on this post telling me what your favorite holiday dish is! It's easy as that!

Entries accepted until Dec 10th, midnight. I'll randomly pick a winner, so make sure to leave your email address or some way for me to contact you!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Upside Down Pineapple Cake

Whenever I get a new cookbook I make a list of every single thing I want to make. Along with Flour's famous sticky buns, this upside down pineapple cake was at the top of the list. Caramelized pineapple and a buttery cake batter. Who could resist? Plus, there was a picture of the cake, and the minute I saw it my mouth started to water and I knew I had to make it!

The cake was very moist, and paired perfectly with the sweet pineapple slices. At first I was a little scared because there are several components, but after tasting this cake, I knew it was totally worth it! Btw, does anyone know how to cut these things? Cause when I sliced it, I couldn't cut through the pineapple slices and ended up slicing between the pineapple...which then led to kinda funny shaped pieces of cake!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway!
Upside Down Pineapple Cake
Adapted from Flour Bakery
1 pineapple, sliced in to 3/4 inch thick slices
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a saucepan mix 3/4 cups sugar and water. Heat until boiling. Allow to boil for 3-4 minutes, or until it begins to caramelize. When it turns light brown, gently swirl the pan.
2. Turn down the heat, and whisk in 6 tablespoons of butter. Add in pineapple, coating with the sugar mixture. Allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Using a fork, place the pineapple on a plate. Heat the remaining sugar mixture until thick and syrupy
4. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and butter a 9inch round pan
5. Arrange the pineapple in the pan, cutting the slices in to smaller pieces to fill any cracks. Pour the thickened syrup over the pineapple.
6. In a bowl beat remaining butter until creamy. Add in sugar and eggs.
7. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix in to butter mixture.
8. Pour the batter over the pineapple. Gently tap the pan on the counter to remove any air bubbles.
9. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until top is golden brown
10. Once the cake is cooled, invert onto a plate

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Crostata for Daring Bakers

This is my second daring bakers challenge! The challenge was hosted by Simona over at Briciole. She picked crostata for this month's challenge. Crostata, which means tart, is an Italian dessert, and can be filled with a variety of fillings. Since it was Thanksgiving, I chose to make a pecan pie filling for a pecan tart.

The tart dough was a little too hard for me, but maybe I just didn't roll out the dough thin enough... oops. But anyways, the crust paired pretty well with the nuts. I guess the crunchyness of the crust complimented the sweet, semi softness of the nuts. Or at least I think. I brought it to the Thanksgiving dinner (along with several other types of desserts) and everyone said it was tasty, so I'm assuming they liked it.
I know I'm a little late, posting a pecan tart recipe and all, but I didn't start baking like crazy until this year, and anyways, I had way too much hw to begin Thanksgiving dessert testing. So sorry about posting this recipe after Thanksgiving, but you know, this tart can be enjoyed anytime of the year. Plus, it was really easy to make. I mean as long as you have all the ingredients, an oven, and a little time!

Crostata (Tart dough) Recipe can be found over at Simona's Blog Briciole

Pecan Tart Filling
Adapted from Tastespotting
2 eggs
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/3 cup of corn syrup
1/3 cup of whipping cream
1 tbs hazelnut extract
1 tbs maple syrup
2 tbs cup of butter, melted
1 cup of pecan halves

1. In a bowl mix eggs, sugars, salt, and corn syrup until combined
2. Mix in the cream, extract, maple syrup, and butter
3. Add in the pecans and coat
4. Pour in to prepared tart and bake for 50 minutes at 350˚F
5. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Apple Breakfast Cake

Wow. Thanksgiving is Thursday. This Thursday. It's so soon! This year I get to make the desserts for our Thanksgiving dinner. Well, actually we're going to a friend's house...but I still get to make the desserts! We got a new cookbook, which you can see below, and I decided to make a couple recipes from this amazing book. Have you guys ever visited Flour Bakery in Boston? No? Well, you should. It's A-mazing! They make the best sticky buns, ever. Joanne, the lady who owns the bakery even won the sticky bun challenge against Bobby Flay. That's the main reason my family went there. Or maybe I just went there because it was a bakery and I didn't like walking around seeing old historical buildings. Hm, maybe that's the reason. But anyways, it was a good decision.

Do you guys have tons and tons of bushels of apples? No, well go out and buy some because this cake is totally worth it. Usually I just eat my apples fresh, and occasionally I'll eat a slice of apple pie, but this cake would be amazing anytime. Tart granny smith apples are coated by a sweet cake like batter. At first the batter looks like there are too many apples in it, but when it comes out of the oven all golden and ready, it is perfect! It made a delicious breakfast, and the house smell so yummy!

Apple Breakfast Cake
Adapted from Flour
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
6 cups peeled and chopped Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup pecans, chopped and toasted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 10 inch round cake pan
2. In a bowl sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger
3. Cream the butter and sugar. Add in the eggs. Once combined, mix in the flour
4. Fold in the apples and pecans
5. Pour in to pan, and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until the cake is dark golden brown and springs back when pressed in the middle.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pumpkin Granola

It's finally getting cold here! You know how I can tell?! I can leave the widows open at night without my room getting too hot. Yea, I know, maybe not the best indicator, but it's already November, so I'm just gonna say it's officially fall here. And what better to eat during fall than pumpkin granola? I first saw a recipe for pumpkin granola on Two Peas and Their Pod, and I was instantly craving some! It just looked delicious....large chunks of crunchy granola... yum :) 

When I eat granola, I crave one of two types. There's the granola with a lot of add ins, like cranberries, almonds, hazelnuts, raisins, lots of stuff, and there's the other type of granola that's just plain 'ol oats, toasted with a little sweetener, such as agave syrup, maple syrup, or honey!

Pumpkin Granola
3 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon all spice

1. Preheat oven to 325˚F
2. In a bowl combine maple syrup, puree, yok, cinnamon, nutmeg, and all spice.
3. Mix in rolled oats
4. Evenly spread mixture on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
5. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden, stirring every 5 minutes

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Oatmeal Chocolate Cookies

I can't believe it's November. School is 1/4 done. Summer is only 3/4 of a school year away. Wow, 3/4 of a school year....sounds pretty far away when I put it like that. Well, since the first quarter of school is already over, guess what that means?!? Quarter finals and quarter grades!! *Gulp! I am totally not looking forward to that. At least these grades don't go on our transcripts...right?! But anyways, how about some cookies?

Sorry about the sudden transition from school to cookies. I just couldn't bear to write more about school! Ugh, just thinking about it makes my brain hurt! At least these cookies make it all better! They were sturdy, oat-y, and chocolate-y. Yum!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Like mother like daughters
¾ cup of butter, at room temperature
¾ cup of brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups oats
1 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Cream together the butter, sugar and egg.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
4. Place heaping tablepoons of dough on a greased or parchment-paper lined cookie sheet, squishing the top slightly
5. Bake for 12-15 minutes
6. Enjoy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cream Cheese Brownie

Cream cheese brownies. Wow, just those three little words would make anyone smile, especially my friends. They went crazy for these! The same day I made these babies, I made chocolate chip cookies. Guess which ones they ate first?! Yup, they choose these delicious squares of chocolate-y creamy goodness.

I've always been a little scared of making anything with two different batters. Maybe it's because it seems like double the work for only one dessert. Wait, no that would make me just lazy. Maybe I am lazy? Hmmm....that's a question I'll answer later...But don't worry, these brownies are totally worth making two different batters.

Cream Cheese Brownies 
Cream Cheese:
Adapted from epicurious
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg
2 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Adapted from the Baked Cookbook
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
11 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped 
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces 
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar 
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar 
5 large eggs, at room temperature 
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9-by-13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan.
    2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together.
    3. Put the chocolate and butter in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature.
    4. Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. 
    5. Fold the flour mixture into the chocolate.
    6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan
    7. In a clean bowl beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy, add in sugar, flour, and extract. Continue beating until smooth. Evenly spread over brownie.
    8. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then cut them into squares and serve.

    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    Pumpkin Bread

    Ah, pumpkin, my favorite fall baking ingredient.  Btw, is the pumpkin shortage finally over yet? Because the other day I went to the grocery store, and there was no more pumpkin! Maybe someone bought all of the cans, or maybe they were waiting for a new shipment. Well anyways, after searching for a while, I found a can of pumpkin at whole foods. It was organic! :) I love that store. It has everything I could ever need..and more!
    This bread was super duper moist, and perfect with a steaming mug of spiced apple cider. Darn, I shouldn't have written that, now I wish I had some apple cider. >.< But at least I have this super moist and pumpkin-y bread!

    Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread
    From all recipes
    1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
    4 eggs
    1 cup vegetable oil
    2/3 cup water
    2 1/2 cups white sugar
    3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 7x3 inch loaf pans. 
    2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. 
    3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. 4. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. 
    5. Pour into the prepared pans. 
    6. Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    S'mores Cookies

          Wow, I can't believe it's already fall. Where has summer gone? Just yesterday I was thinking about my plans for the summer, then I realized summer wasn't for a long, long time. At least fall means it's baking season, right? But still, fall also means school, and school means homework. Lots and lots homework. Oh, and tests, and projects. How fun (*in a sarcastic voice), tests and projects. I guess I really should start studying. Tomorrow I have a big algebra test. Ugh, algebra. Do I really need to know how to extrapolate a graph? Or combine functions? When am I ever going to use this knowledge in baking? Or life for that matter?! But anyways, moving on from my math problems and on to more fun things, like s'mores!

         Everyone loves s'mores, right? Doesn't it bring back memories of camping in small tents and roasting marshmallows over a roaring fire? Whenever I think of s'mores, I always remember this one time I went camping. I think I was ten when we went camping at Bellows with some friends. I remember listening to the crash of the waves and the crackling of the fire. I had found the perfect spot for roasting my marshmallows. It was close enough to the flame that the marshmallows were browning nicely, but it was far enough away that the marshmallows didn't soak up the smoke smell. I remember by the time I had created the perfect marshmallow everyone else was already onto their third or fourth one! I still don't understand how they were that fast. I know some people just stick their marshmallow in to the flame and then blow it out, but then doesn't it taste burnt? I never understood those people.... But I do understand these cookies! S'mores turn in to cookies? Yum! Mini marshmallows and pieces of chocolate are added to a plain cookie during baking so that the marshmallows don't melt. Now that it's fall, you bake and still have your s'mores! Hooray!

    S'mores Cookies 
    Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
    8 tablespoons butter
    1 large egg
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 cup chocolate bar, chopped
    1 cup marshmallows

    1. Preheat oven to 325˚F and line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat
    2. Beat the sugars and butters together until smooth. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and baking soda.
    3. Stir together the flour and salt, then mix them into the batter.
    4. Scoop the cookie dough into 2-tablespoon (5cm) balls and place 8 balls, spaced 4 inches (10cm) apart, on each of the baking sheets.
    5. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and push in marshmallows and chocolate
    6. Bake for 3 more minutes, and cool on a wire rack.

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    Chocolate Chip Cookies...Levain Copy Cat

    Everyone has heard of Levain Bakery, right? Well the other night I was watching Throwdown with Bobby Flay, and it was a chocolate cookie episode! wait battle? I was so excited, and as I was watching I began to crave chocolate chip cookies. So what did I do? Bake some of course. :) Haha, and I even started the minute there was a commercial break!
    I finally bought a cookie scoop, so that's the reason behind these very round looking cookies
    As I was looking for recipes, I stumbled upon a Levain copy cat chocolate chip cookie, and I just knew I had to make them. I've never been to Levain bakery, (one of my stops next time I go to NY!) so I don't really know what they taste like, but on tv they looked huge, soft, and super super super tasty! The cookies were actually kinda puffy, but I don't think they were exactly like the ones from Levain bakery. They didn't spread much, but were soft, and gobbled up all the same :)

    Chocolate Chip Cookies
    Adapted from Su good sweets
    8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
    8 ounces (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
    3 ounces (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) brown sugar
    2 eggs
    4 ounces (1/3 cup) molasses
    18 ounces (4 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon Kosher salt
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    12 ounces (2 cups) chocolate, cut into chunks

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle, cream together butter and sugars until well-blended and fluffy.
    3. Add eggs and beat until well-incorporated
    4. Add molasses, flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg and mix until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chunks.
    5. Place balls of dough on to a cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes, or until very lightly browned.
    6. Let cool on rack and store in airtight container.

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies

    Chocolate + Pretzels = Amazing? Yes, I think so, and so do my friends! These cookies had the perfect balance of sweet and salty. Remember my other sweet and salty recipe? Chunky Sweet 'n Salty Cookies? These are very similar, but instead of goldfish and whatever else I found in my pantry, I used pretzels. And boy, were they yummy!
    These ones were super chunky and chewy! Look how thick they are!

    ...and a side view....
    Here's the recipe!

    Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies 
    Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
    8 tablespoons butter
    1 large egg
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    1 cup pretzels, crushed

    1. Preheat oven to 325˚F and line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat
    2. Beat the sugars and butters together until smooth. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and baking soda.
    3. Stir together the flour and salt, then mix them into the batter.
    4. Mix in the chocolate chips and crushed pretzels
    5. Scoop the cookie dough into 2-tablespoon (5cm) balls and place 8 balls, spaced 4 inches (10cm) apart, on each of the baking sheets.
    6. Bake for 18 minutes, or until pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.