Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cranberry Orange Cookies & a Giveaway

I didn't make this week's TWD recipe. My excuse is that I am exhausted from Black Friday shopping. We didn't sleep all night and we literally shopped for 24 hours. Left Vancouver, BC at 7 PM on Thursday night and were in Walmart in WA by 9:30 PM. We were there for the door crashers at midnight then went to Old Navy then Target for their opening at 4 AM. We basically hit every store as it opened. It was INTENSE. Looking back on it, the whole thing is quite comical. We had our walkie talkies, we had our store maps and we were on a MISSION. Thank the Lord that we had a nice border guard so we didn't have to pay tax on the $1000 worth of goods that we brought back home. I spent $110 in Walmart and $175 at Target and got way too many appliances. I can't wait till next year, lol.

Instead of the Devilish (Chocolate) Shortcakes, I made something simpler than simple and comforting with classic holiday flavors. Today I'm proud to post yet another great cookie recipe from 400 Sensational Cookies

I also have a GIVEAWAY (US and Canadian blogging residents only please): a Taylor 8lb digital food scale, the Chicken Soup for the Soul Cookbook & a set of 4 star-topped holiday spreaders. The book is full of heartwarming stories related to food and each story has a special recipe to accompany it. Digital scales are awesome for measuring nuts and chocolate and flour (and lots of other things, but I use mine most for those three).

All you have to do is leave a comment here to tell me what recipe brings back the best memories for you. If you have a link to that recipe on your blog, you might want to link to it :) Deadline to enter is Sunday, Dec 5th at 11:59 PM. I will pick a winner randomly and contact that person through her blog.

Cranberry Orange Cookies
Makes 36 | adapted from 400 Sensational Cookies

3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup orange juice
Zest of 1 orange
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Combine flour, soda, salt, powder. Cream together butter, sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs then vanilla. Mix in flour then fold in cranberries and nuts.
3. Drop by tablespoonfuls leaving 1-2" between. Bake 12-15 minutes, until golden brown around the edges, however, they will be still pale on top.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Buttercake Bakery's Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Bundt Cake

This chocolate & vanilla swirl bundt cake recipe is a clone of a cake you can find at a bakery in L.A. called Buttercake Bakery. I stumbled up on it while visiting that area last year. The chocolate chips burst like bubbles of flavor in your mouth and the cake is amazing. It's probably one of those things that's worth the calorie splurge and the extra effort required to make your own chocolate syrup. However, I bet you could use storebought chocolate syrup to save some time. The L.A. Times published this copycat recipe June 11, 2008 and I'm so glad I stumbled upon it! They call it "comfort food in cake form" and I couldn't agree more.

I will also be linking this to my Copycat Club for the December 7th round-up. (See link above for details and to join/submit any recipes).

Buttercake Bakery's Chocolate Marbled Cake
Makes 1 - 12" Bundt

2 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
2 2/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup chocolate chips
Powdered sugar for dusting

1. In a small saucepan, whisk together one-half cup of the sugar, the cocoa powder and corn syrup with one-half cup hot water. Bring just to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Add a half-teaspoon of vanilla off the heat and set aside.
2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and lightly flour a 12-cup bundt pan.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand mixer), cream the butter with the remaining sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs one at a time until thoroughly incorporated, then whisk in the remaining vanilla.
3. Whisk about a third of the flour mixture into the batter, then a third of the milk. Continue whisking in the flour mixture and milk, alternately and a little at a time, until everything is added and the batter is light and smooth.
4. Gently fold in the chocolate chips, then divide the batter into thirds. Pour a third of the batter into the prepared bundt pan.
5. Whisk the chocolate syrup with another third of batter, then pour this into the prepared bundt pan. Pour the remaining third of batter over this, lightly swirl the batters with a wooden skewer or knife to give a "marble" effect and place the pan in the oven.
6. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and the cake springs back lightly when touched, about 1 hour. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack. Invert the cooled cake onto a serving platter and dust lightly with powdered sugar.

DB: Crostata

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

I loved the pie crust - pasta frolla - the american counterpart of the classic Crisco shortening-rich pie crust.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hostess Little Debbie Snack Cake Clones

These were super cute and super tasty too. I love how they look like plain old chocolate cupcakes until you bite into them and get a surprise: A delicious mouthful of chocolate filling. These are just like the snack cakes you buy individually cellophane-wrapped at the grocery store, except they I filled them with chocolate marshmallow creme instead of the plain white stuff. I loved how fluffy and foolproof the filling turned out because of the use of marshmallow creme. Don't overfill your muffin cups or else the cupcakes will rise and bleed into each other and your final product won't be perfectly round.

Reminder: Email me or leave a comment with your copycat posts - past or present - to be linked and included in the upcoming December Copycat Club round-up, posted the 7th of every month. See the round-ups in November and October for inspiration.

Hostess Snack Cake Clone
Makes 18 | Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

CUPCAKES 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature, plus more for muffin tins
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for muffin tins
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sour cream, room temperature

1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme (7.5-ounce jar)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
[I added 1-2 tbsp cocoa powder to make a chocolate-creme filling]

1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter two 6-cup (each with a 1-cup capacity) jumbo muffin pans; dust with cocoa powder to coat, tapping out excess. In a medium bowl, whisk together cocoa, flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. On low speed, add half the flour mixture, followed by sour cream, ending with remaining flour mixture; mix just until incorporated (do not overmix).

2. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Cool in pans, 5 minutes; remove cupcakes and cool, right side up, on a wire rack.

3. Meanwhile, prepare filling: In a medium bowl, whisk marshmallow creme and butter [and cocoa powder, if using] until smooth. Chill until slightly firm, 15 to 30 minutes. Transfer mixture to a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag, and seal; cut off one corner of the bag to make a 1/8-inch opening.

4. Using a small melon baller, scoop out center of each cupcake from the bottom, and reserve (you will use this to plug cupcake after filling). Hollow out each cupcake a bit more, discarding crumbs. Insert tip of plastic bag into each cavity, and squeeze to fill; replace plugs. Using remaining filling in plastic bag, decorate top of cupcakes.

Monday, November 22, 2010

TWD: World Peace Cookies (Rewind)

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was a "Rewind". I knew immediately which recipe I was going to make: World Peace Cookies.

The book says, These butter-rich, sandy-textured slice-and-bake cookies are members of the sablé family. But, unlike classic sablés, they are midnight dark — there's cocoa in the dough — and packed with chunks of hand-chopped bittersweet chocolate. Perhaps most memorably, they're salty. Not just a little salty, but remarkably and sensationally salty. It's the salt — Pierre uses fleur de sel, a moist, off-white sea salt — that surprises, delights and makes the chocolate flavors in the cookies seem preternaturally profound.

I made one small addition: mixing in some finely chopped almonds along with the chocolate chips. These were pleasantly easy to make and kinda reminded me of chocolate shortbread. I also love how well the dough freezes for "emergencies" when you need cookies at a moment's notice.

World Peace Cookies
Makes 36 | adapted from Baking: From my Home to Yours

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped or 3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped almonds
Milk or cream as needed (1 tbsp)

1. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.
2. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.
3. Turn off the mixer. Pour in the dry ingredients, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Take a peek — if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough — for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don't be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate and almonds and mix only to incorporate. If it is too crumbly to form a dough, add a little milk or cream as needed.
4. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you've frozen the dough, you needn't defrost it before baking — just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)

Getting Ready to Bake:
5. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
6. Using a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you're cutting them — don't be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them.
7. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes — they won't look done, nor will they be firm, but that's just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

I finally did it - I bought a domain name for this blog: www.buttercreambarbie.com - Now all I have to do is figure out all the little things relating to the switch-over so that all the old links work and nothing gets lost in transition. I wish I were more tech-smart sometimes, but i'll muddle my way through. If anyone has any good tips they've learned along the way about setting up their own domain, I would love to hear them.

This weekend was been really productive for me. It feels so satisfying to get through a lot of those little things, tying up those loose ends around the house. It's amazing how long all those little things can take. I'm exhausted! I also wrapped a bunch of Christmas presents (yes, I have already done a lot of my Christmas shopping), and addressed all my Christmas cards. I had to refrain from putting the wreath up on the door as it's still technically November :) Lastly, I even had some time to bake up a quick batch of Peanut Butter Cup Brownies.

As you can see, these brownies didn’t look so pretty in the pan, but once they were cut and you could see the cross section they were prettier. They were dense with a chewy, peanut buttery kick combined with a little added crunch from the rice krispies cereal and peanuts mixed in.

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies
Makes 9 x 13" Pan | adapted from How Sweet blog

1 batch brownies (boxed mix or any 9" pan brownie recipe)
1/2 cup salted peanuts
1 cup chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups
1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies Cereal

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix brownies according to directions, and bake for 20-25 minutes in a greased 9 x 13" baking dish. They will be thinner than brownies you are used to since the batter is spread into a large pan than the standard 9". Remove and top with peanuts and peanut butter cups then bake for 4-6 minutes more.

2. While they are finishing baking, melt chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter. Stir in cereal. Remove brownies from oven and evenly pour chocolate mixture over top. Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

Friday, November 19, 2010

FFWD: Gratin Dauphinois

These are the best scallopped potatoes I have ever had. I could have eaten the whole thing myself! The dish smelled fantastic in the oven. I used both rosemary and thyme and the smell reminded me of roasting a turkey. I think this will be making an appearance at Christmas Dinner instead of the usual mashed potatoes. They scream "comfort food"! The garlic-cream marries so well with the potatoes for a dish that is as beautiful as it is delicious. The tender potatoes are so smooth and so much easier on the arms than mashing!

All you do is simmer the cream and the garlic, slice your potatoes, arrange in your baking dish, sprinkle with S & P & herbs, pour the garlic cream over the potatoes, cover with shredded cheese and bake to bubbly perfection. I used Mozzarella cheese. The dark-golden-brown topping was crisp and flavorful, providing just the right amount of textural contrast to the white, creamy potato slices.

The best part is that I got a chance to use my "new" Swissmar Borner V-Slicer Mandoline that I got suckered into buying at the PNE (yearly expo in Vancouver) in the summer. It's taken me 3 months to finally use it. I bought it in August but have been a little scared to use it based on horror stories involving sliced fingertips. After making this gratin, I am no longer afraid. Now I want to find every excuse to use this V-Slicer.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Banana Bran Loaf

Looking for an easy, delicious, wholesome breakfast treat? Something a little healthier to break up the richness of pumpkin pie and egg nog and all the super-sinful treats that go hand in hand with the holidays? Then this loaf might interest you. According to dietitians, a healthy breakfast should have plenty of protein and fiber, while keeping the extra sugar out. In general, women need about 25g of fiber per day and men need 38g per day. All-Bran cereal has 27g of fiber in a 1 1/2 cup serving. Well, lucky me, that's the exact amount called for in the recipe. So... if I ate the whole loaf (tee hee) I would meet my daily requirement of fiber! :)

This bread is rustically textured and big on taste. Similar to a bran muffin but very moist and flavorful due to the yogurt and bananas. These would also make great muffins.

Banana Bran Loaf
1 loaf | adapted from Kelloggs

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt (or plain)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas
1 cup crushed Bran Flakes/Raisin Bran (1 1/2 cups uncrushed)

1. Sift together flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and sugar. Set aside.

2. Break egg into mixing bowl; beat well. Stir in vanilla, butter, lemon juice, and bananas. Add flour mixture; beat until well-combined. Mix in bran flakes and walnuts. Pour into greased and waxed paper-lined 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan.

3. Bake at 350 degrees F about 1 hour or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool in pan about 5 minutes then remove from pan to cooling rack.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

TWD: Cranberry Lime Galette

This galette/free-form tart was WAY too tart for my liking. My favorite part was the little chunks of apple that burst with sugary sweetness especially in comparison with the cranberries. Next time I will either add WAY more sugar or increase the ration of apples to cranberries and reduce the lime juice. On the plus side, it was a really pretty, festive-looking pastry. It was one that made you go, "wow" when you saw it. It was elegant in a relaxed, unpretentious way. Thanks to Whitney, April and Elizabeth of Celestial Confections for selecting this week's TWD recipe found on page 364-365 of Baking: From My Home to Yours.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chocolate Syrup Coffee Cake

You can tell I'm super-busy when my baking starts to rely more on doctoring cake mixes and canned crescent rolls. I'm a huge proponent of baking from scratch, but life has been passing by so fast that sometimes a girl's just gotta cheat a little. If you are planning on using a cake mix anyway or if you need to make a cake quickly, I highly recommend this recipe. Your reward for all your "hard work" is a very vanilla-y, very moist and very chic tube cake with a swirl of chocolate syrup running through the middle. I love the way it split down the middle and has a tight crumb similar to that of pound cake. It even looks homemade! Chocolate Syrup Coffee Cake 1 Bundt | Cake Mix Magic 1 box (18.25 oz.) yellow cake mix 1 pkg vanilla instant pudding 1 cup sour cream 1/2 cup vegetable oil 4 large eggs 1/2 cup chocolate syrup 1. Place a rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 10" tube pan with vegetable oil spray then dust with flour. Shake out excess flour and set pan aside. 2. Place cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, oil and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend with electirc mixer on low for 1 min. Stop and scrape down sides of bowl. Increase speed to medium and beat 2 min. more. Batter should look thick and smooth. Pour half of the batter into the pan, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Pour the chocolate syrup evenly over the batter, making sure not to let the syrup touch the sides of the pan. Pour the remaining batter over the syrup and swirl gently with a knife, making sure to keep the chocolate syrup away from the sides of the pan. 3. Bake for 55-60 min. Remove from oven, cool for 20 min. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake and invert onto a rack then invert onto another rack so that the cake is right side up. Cool completely. Serve, no frosting needed.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tomato Cheddar Foccacia Breadsticks

Today is crisp, cool cold, and clear. It's got that icy, Christmassy feel to it already. Hmm... this probably also has to do with the Christmas merchandise lining the shelves of most stores and the Lindt advent calendar that is already calling my name. I had a few people over and after baking the bread I cut it into strips and served it in a towel-lined basket. It was the perfect savory snack for the occasion and the weather. Even if you're afraid of yeast breads, this one is as easy as it gets.

This year I'm determined to get prepared early for the holidays. Believe it or not, one thing I often run out while entertaining is chairs for my guests. My plan is to get extra barstools for around my kitchen island. I like the homey, informal feel and the subtle invitation to gather round the kitchen. On the weekend I found myself on another one of CSN's online stores - allbarstools.com. Click on over there if you get a chance and check out their selection. They have everything from backless, metal, wood, contemporary, classic, etc!
As nice as it is to have holidays attached to weekends, every now and then it's fun to have them in the middle of the week just to break up the routine and get an energy boost. With the Remembrance Day Holiday yesterday, today I'm having one of those days where I keep thinking, 'What day is it?". I'm just glad it feels like a Monday while it's actually a Friday instead of the other way around :)

Tomato Cheddar Foccacia
adapted from allrecipes.com

1 tsp sugar
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried)
1 tomato, thinly sliced
1-2 cups cheddar cheese, grated

1. In a small bowl, dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with flour; stir well to combine. Stir in additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all of the flour is absorbed. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly for about 1 minute. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C).

4. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface; knead briefly. Pat or roll the dough into a sheet and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush the dough with oil and sprinkle with salt and basil. Lay the tomato slices on top and cover with cheese.

5. Bake focaccia in preheated oven for 10-20 minutes, depending on desired crispness. 10 minutes for moist and fluffy, 20 minutes for crunchier and darker. Cut into 1 1/2" wide strips and serve.

Monday, November 8, 2010

TWD: Cranberry Shortbread Cake

This cake was a huge success! It falls into my favorite category of baked goods: hybrids! Part shortbread, part cake, part pie - ALL DELICIOUS! I was feeling a little lazy this weekend and was tempted to use canned cranberry sauce, but I pulled up my socks and made the filling as directed in the recipe. I'm so glad I did. It was phenomenal with just the right balance of sweetness and tartness accented by a hint of fresh orange flavor. I am definitely going to make this cake again and again with different fillings. Blueberries or cherries anyone? The only change I made to the recipe was to crumble the topping over the filling (like a streusel) instead of rolling it and laying out flat on top. I'm sending out a huge thank you to Jessica of Singleton in the Kitchen chose Not-Just-for Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread cake on pages 208-209. Check out her blog for the recipe!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Copycat Club: November 2010

Welcome to the second month of The Copycat Club! Thank you to everyone who joined me this month and emailed me their copycat posts (past or present). I hope to see more of entries next month. With food prices increasing and restaurant prices going up, it's more practical (as well as fun) to make famous favorites at home. That's what this cook-along club is all about. Click on the Copycat Club link below my header for more info.

Grab my badge and join in the fun!

Copycat Brenda of Brenda's Canadian Kitchen made Almost-Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

Joy of Kitchen Flavours made Wendy's Chili

Lexi of Big Momma and Me made Benihana Fried Rice

Chaya of Comfy Cook made Olive Garden Capellini Primavera

Natasha of Saved by the Egg Timer made Homemade Seasoning Salt

Goodcookbecky made Claim Jumper's Whiskey Chicken

The Gordon Family made Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls Clones

Mom's Cafe Home Cooking made White Castle Burgers

Tia (little ol' me) of Buttercreambarbie made Junior's Cappuccino Cheesecake

I also made Mrs. Field's Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Mrs. Field's Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies

These cookies were everything you expect from a good bakery cookie - thick, chewy and chunky. I can't really say how these stack up against the authentic Mrs. Field's cookies since the only place I have seen Mrs. Field's cookies in my corner of the world (Vancouver, BC) are packaged on the shelves of the grocery store. However, I *CAN* say that they are a cookie worth making. With the upcoming holiday season, white chocolate and cranberries are a popular flavor combination and they take center stage in these cookies both in appearance and in taste. The chunkier the chocolate, the better!

This recipe is also part of the Copycat Club, a club that I started in October 2010 that I would love for you to take part in. Please check out the link to the club and check back tomorrow for the monthly Copycat round-up!

Mrs. Field's Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies
2 dozen

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup white chocolate chunks

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream together butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla.
2. Combine all dry ingredients except for cranberries, nuts and chocolate. Stir dry ingredients into butter mixture then add the berries, nuts, chocolate.
3. Drop onto cookie sheets and bake for 15-19 minutes or until edges are just beginning to brown. They will still be soft in the centre and will seem underdone when they first come out of the oven, but when they cool they will have slightly crispy edges and soft, gooey centres.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cappuccino Nanaimo Bars

This no-bake recipe is from Bars and Squares: More Than 200 Recipes. Nanaimo bars, named after a city in BC (my home province!), consist of a graham crumb base layer, topped by vanilla/custard butter icing (in this case I used coffee flavored) then covered in a thin layer of chocolate. You can also try different crumbs, filling and chocolate.

I liked this version way better than regular Nanaimos which are often too sweet. I could have eaten the bowl of the coffee buttercream just on its own. Next time I might skip the base and topping and just go straight for the middle.

The Daring Bakers made these as their January 2010 challenge. My version is here, but the coffee flavored kick I added this time around is simply awesome.

Note: To get nice, clean cuts without the chocolate top cracking, after you spread the chocolate on, refriegerate for 5 minutes - chocolate should still be slightly soft - then score the top using a sharp paring knife. Refrigerate to chill fully then cut into bars all the way through following the pre-cut lines.

Cappuccino Nanaimo Bars
8" Square Pan | adapted from Jill Snider

2/3 cup butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp instant espresso powder
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
3/4 cup finely chopped almonds

2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tbsp instant espresso powder
2 tbsp hot water

2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp instant espresso powder
4 oz. semi sweet chocolate, chopped

1. In a sauceman over low heat, combine butter, cocoa, sugar, espresso powder and egg. Cook, stirring, until mixture starts to thicken, 5 mins. Remove from heat. Mix in graham crumbs, coconut and almonds. Press evenly into prepared pan. Refrigerate until cold, 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, beat half the confectioner's sugar with the butter until blended. Mix espresso powder and hot water until dissolved. On medium, beat espresso mixture into butter mixture and add remaining confectioner's sugar. Beat until smooth and creamy. Spread evenly over base. Refrigerate until firm, 2 hours. Lift out of a pan and transfer to cutting board.

3. Melt all topping ingredients together. Pour over filling and quickly spread to cover evenly. Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes or until chocolate is slightly set. Score the top of the bars just through the chocolate layer (to make cutting easier later on). Return bars to refrigerator to set fully, about 30 minutes. Cut into bars. Store in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

TWD: Almond Roca Blondies

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was chosen by Nicole of Bakeologie, found on page 119 of Baking: From My Home to Yours.

Wow. These blondies were some of the best I've ever had. They had that slightly sugared-crisp crust that yielded to a very moist and chewy interior filled with melty chocolate and crunchy nuts. I think the peanut butter/nut butter really added to the moistness but didn't overpower the overall taste. The salt in the recipe was a nice touch. When I ate envisioned mini volcanic eruptions of the individual grains of salt on my tongue. These were truly incredible.

I tweaked the flavorings of this recipe a little bit:
-almond butter instead of peanut butter
-Add 1/2 cup crushed toffee (Skor or Heath)
-use almonds instead of peanuts
-chunks of chocolate instead of mini chips

Monday, November 1, 2010

Milky Way Rice Krispie Squares

We had a great time last night trick-or-treating until Zach got so tired he wanted to be carried around and his words started slurring together. He got quite a lot of loot for a 3 year old. However, I think I like candy better than he does. He told me, "You're only allowed ONE candy a day Mommy!"

Seeing as his preschool doesn't allow them to bring candy in their lunchboxes, I came up with the next best thing:

I can't believe I'm posting a recipe for Rice Krispie Squares. But bear with me - these are special RK squares. The bottom layer is made from the standard recipe but with chocolate chips added in at the last minute before pressing into the pan. The chocolate layer is where things get interesting. It is probably the most sinful way you could eat cereal, but it is to die for. It is made from melted down Milky Way bars or (Mars bars in Canada since we don't have Milky Ways). You could probably melt down any unwanted Halloween chocolates (if is there such a thing?) and stir it into the cereal mixture.

I just learned this weekend that you can freeze Rice Krispie Squares! This makes me really happy as they are one of my son's favorite treats but they don't keep at room temperature for very long and I find it silly making a half batch. Once again, the freezer is my best friend :) I think I will be asking for a deep freezer from Santa this year. LOL - Some girls ask for diamonds, this girl asks for appliances.

Milky Way Rice Krispie Squares

6 tbsp butter or margarine
25 oz (2.5 - 10oz bags) marshmallows
1 tsp vanilla
2 full-sized Milky Way/Mars Bars (or 5-6 mini's)
10 cups Rice Krispies

1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and vanilla and stir until completely melted. In a separate pot, melt the chocolate bars. Remove from heat. ***For the gooiest RK squares the marshmallows should be JUST melted, don't over-melt them.

2. Add cereal. Stir until well coated.

3. Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press half of the mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Pour the melted chocolate bars over the remaining half and mix to combine. Press the chocolate rice krispies into the pan over the regular ones. Cool. Cut into squares. Best if served the same day. Store no more than two days at room temperature in airtight container. To freeze, place in layers separated by wax paper in airtight container. Freeze for up to 6 weeks. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.