Soft, Chewy, Peanutbutter-y

Lately I have been dying for a good peanut butter cookie but, of course, it had to be homemade.   I feel like the perfect peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie are elusive to me for some weird reason…they’re always too flat or crisp or cakey.  I’ve done plenty of research and tried tons of recipes and never found the one that is the perfect combination of  mostly chewy and a little soft.  I mean, I know baking is a science but c’mon!  How hard can it be?!?  So for Superbowl Sunday I thought I’d try yet again to make the perfect cookie and I might have got pretty darn close.

I think those peanut butter chips deserve a close-up.

Batter and PB Chips

On PansIn Oven

These cookies turned out soft and chewy and just all around delicious.  Of course the true test was if they were the same way the next day as they were pretty much right out of the oven and miracle of all miracles, they were!  Quite frankly, I’m suprised any of them even made it to the Superbowl party–I couldn’t keep Jeremy out of them!

Oh, and… I guess I might have had a couple too.

Cooling

Now I couldn’t just stop at plain ‘ole peanut butter cookies (although with these you definitely could).  I wanted a peanut butter cookie sandwich!  I used a peanut butter and chocolate filling.  Both were good and I personally liked the peanut butter filling but everyone seemed to prefer the chocolate a little more.

Filling

If you make these, be sure you have milk on hand.  You will need it!

Finished Cookies

Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

1 1/4 c. All-Purpose Flour
3/4 t. Baking Soda
1/2 t. Baking Powder
1/4 t. Salt
1/2 c. Unsalted Butter, softened
1 c. Smooth Peanut Butter
3/4 c. White Sugar
1/2 c. Light Brown Sugar, lightly packed
1 Large Egg at room temperature
1 T. Milk
1 t. Vanilla Extract
1 c. Peanut Butter Chips

Directions

In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In an electric mixer, beat the peanut butter and butter together until fluffy.  Add the sugars and continue beating until fully combined.  Add the egg, milk and vanilla extract and beat well.  Add half the flour mixture fold in, then the rest of the flour and beat until no white pockets remain.  By hand, fold in the peanut butter chips.

Using a small ice cream scoop, drop dough a couple inches apart, onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.  Dip a fork in oil (I used peanut oil), tap off excess and gently indent cookie with a criss-cross pattern, being careful not to smash the cookie flat.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Let cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing to cooling racks.

Makes 40 small cookies.

Peanut Butter Filling

3 T. Unsalted Butter, softened
1 c. Powdered Sugar, sifted
1/2 c. Smooth Peanut Butter
2 1/2 T. Heavy Whipping Cream or Milk
1 t. Vanilla Extract

Cream the butter with the powdered sugar, peanut butter, milk and vanilla until smooth.  Spread filling onto half of the cooled cookies, then top with the other half to form sandwiches. Makes enough to fill 25 cookies.

For the chocolate, I used the Satiny Chocolate Glaze recipe which you can find in an earlier post here.

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Pink and Red

Since Valentine’s Day is only four short days away, I thought I’d throw out a few more ideas just in case you’re still stumped on what to make, bake or buy for that special someone.  And even if you loathe Valentine’s Day with a passion, these can still be inspiration for another celebration!  So, to start things off right, I’d like to begin with more from Amy Atlas.  She’s just put up an awesome v-day spread on her blog and I urge you to go check it out IMMEDIATELY.  Part I and Part II.  It will make you happy.

You might even start liking Valentine’s Day.  She’s that good.

Valentines Day Table 1

Next, I absolutely LOVE these cards by MadeByGirl.  You’ll find a lot of unique, fun stuff that is relatively inexpensive and earth friendly. She also has prints and posters that are definitely worth checking out.

Deeply Madly LOVE Roses iheartu

Finally, I came across this adorable Sweetheart Cupcake on allrecipes.com and had to share the recipe!  It’s so simple and fun!  And feel free to go a bit more gourmet if you’d like and make a cake from scratch.

Sweetheart Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 egg whites
  • 8 drops red food coloring

Directions

  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a standard muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.
  2. Beat the cake mix, water, vegetable oil, and egg whites together until smooth. Fill cupcake liners 1/3 full with white batter; set aside.
  3. Stir 4 drops of red food coloring into the remaining bowl of batter to make the batter pink. Pour 1/3 of pink batter into a resealable plastic bag and set aside.
  4. Mix more food coloring into the remaining bowl of pink batter until it is an orange/red color and pour the batter into a resealable plastic bag. Cut a corner off the bag, stick the open tip into the center of each cup of white batter and squeeze in about two tablespoons of red batter.
  5. Cut the corner off the bag with the pink batter, stick the open tip into the center of the red batter and squeeze about 1 tablespoon pink batter into each cup.
  6. Bake the layered cupcakes in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.]
Ok, now you have no excuses!  Ditch the red roses and  box of chocolates and go for something a little more creative this Sunday!
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Godiva Chocolate Rewards

Choc 1

Chocolate is good. Certain chocolate (ahem, dark) can even be divine. But sometimes it tastes even better when it’s FREE. Which is why the Godiva Chocolate Rewards Club is so sweet! (Lame, I know.) If you’ve never heard of the program, I am here to bring a little extra joy to your life once a month.

All you need to do is head into your local Godiva boutique, hand over some non-intrusive personal info (name, address, email) and you’re in! It’s fairly quick and painless to sign up and definitely worth it. So, once a month you can go in, flash your Godiva Chocolate Rewards card and snag a piece of free chocolate bliss. It’s a nice little no-cost pick me up after you’ve spent all your money shopping at the mall and are having a slight case of buyer’s remorse. Not that I would know anything about that.

There are also lots of other perks that you can check out here. The only downside of the club that I’ve found thus far is that you are limited to one piece of chocolate. I end up standing in front of the display case for at least five minutes, drooling over the selection and agonizing over which one I want while the salesperson looks at me like I’m crazy. This typically results in me cracking under the pressure and purchasing at least one chocolate in addition to my free piece. Sigh.

I’m sure it’s all part of Godiva’s evilly delicious plan and I’m playing right into their hands.

Choc 2

Oh and in case you are wondering, the chocolates above (from back left to right) are the Almond Marzipan, Macadamia Mosaic, Strawberry White Chocolate Truffle, Praline Crescent and Dark Ganache Heart.

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Doughnut Hearts

I’m sure you’ve noticed Valentine’s Day is everywhere right now so I thought I’d get an early start with a fun v-day idea. Forget heart-shaped pancakes and waffles–homemade doughnuts are where it’s at! Well, semi-homemade doughnuts. I actually thought my idea was fairly original until I discovered Krispy Kreme had already beat me to the punch–in 2007! That didn’t deter me however and I got down to deep frying!

Cookie Cutting

 

I was a tad skeptical since these are made with buttermilk biscuits. And I was definitely disgusted as I poured a whole BOTTLE of vegetable oil into my electric skillet! But I quickly got over that after I tasted one of these babies hot out of the oil, dipped in glaze/powdered sugar/cinnamon sugar–warm, melt-in-your-mouth goodness!

Basic

And naturally I had to make some filled ones. Raspberry, of course. That was always my favorite doughnut. Back when I was allowed to eat doughnuts, before I was conscious of what calories and trans fat were. Sniff.

Filled

These were just for kicks and giggles.

Conversation2

Conversation1

I think they’re quite cute. I just want to eat them up. Wait….I did.

Pink with Red Sprinkles

5 Hearts in Circle

Lastly, what to do with all the little cut out hearts? Doughnut hole hearts! YUM.

Minis

I’m not much of a doughnut connoisseur but Jeremy and I LOVED these. I was almost just as happy to discover the yummy glaze recipes that I used for them too. Needless to say, I think my doughnut drought has come to an end and I’ll be spending a little extra time at the gym to atone for my sins.

Homemade Doughnuts

2 quarts vegetable oil
1 can refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (I actually used reduced fat–couldn’t tell a difference)
-Powdered Sugar, Cinnamon Sugar, Glaze (see recipes below) for dipping
-Raspberry/Strawberry Preserves, etc for filling

Directions

1. Heat oil in a deep fryer or electric skillet to 325 degrees (mine never got to that temp so I started frying at 290).

2. Spray a piece of foil with non-stick cooking spray. Using this as your surface, separate the biscuits and cut out holes with a cookie cutter for the doughnut shape you desire.

3. Gently place doughnuts in hot oil. Fry until golden brown, 1.5 to 2 minutes on each side.

4. Drain on plate covered with paper towels. Dip in coating of your choice.

5. If using a filling, cut a small hole in the corner of a pastry or plastic bag, insert a very small tip and fill the bag with the preserves. Push the tip through the side of the doughnut and fill.

Basic Glaze

1/3 c Butter, melted
2 c Powdered Sugar, sifted
2 t. Vanilla
3-4 T. Warm Milk

Combine butter, sugar and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Stir in milk until somewhat thin, but not watery. Dip.

Satiny Chocolate Glaze

3/4 c Semi-Sweet or White Chocolate Chips
3 T. Butter, melted
1 T. Light Corn Syrup
1/2 t. Vanilla

Melt chocolate in microwave in 20 second intervals, stirring after each time. Stir butter, corn syrup and vanilla into melted chocolate until combined.

Dip.

Eat.

Mmmmmmmm.

Note: When coloring white chocolate, use a GEL based dye, as opposed to water or oil based. They will ruin the chocolate and cause it to seize. Not pretty.

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White Chocolate Cherry Pound Cake

Pound cake isn’t something I crave regularly if ever, but I had a recipe a co-worker gave me that I knew was absolutely fabulous and I had a LOT of sour cream that needed to be used ASAP so I decided to give it a try. The original recipe my co-worker had made was chock full of lemon juice, lemon peel, lemon extract…basically, it had a TON of lemon flavor. Even a lemon glaze! And while I adore lemon, I wasn’t too sure the crowd I’d be baking for would share my sentiments for citrus so I decided to alter the recipe just a tad. Plus, I had a ton of maraschino cherries I needed to put to good use!

In Oven

I won’t lie, I licked the batter off the spoon. And the mixing bowl. And the beater. It was good…very good. At this point, I became EXTREMELY excited for the finished product.

My excitement died down a bit however when the cake still wasn’t done after the alloted time called for in the recipe, 45 minutes. In fact it took a whole hour and 10 minutes and my toothpick never came out completely clean!  But I couldn’t wait any longer so I decided it was time to cool.

Cooling resized

Despite the edges being dry and just slightly overdone, the cake turned out great. I didn’t have time to do the glaze but the top of the cake formed a nice, sugary crust that I loved. I think I could have just eaten the tops off both cakes! The cake itself was very moist and had great almond and cherry flavor, although it wasn’t as dense and thick as I thought it would be. But that didn’t seem to be a problem for anyone–it got gobbled up!

Sliced

Mmmmmmm, wish I had a nice, thick hunk right now to dunk into some ice cold milk. If you try it, definitely have milk or ice cream on hand to go with. It just makes it that much yummier.

This is the original recipe with my changes noted at the end.

Lemon Lover’s Pound Cake

Cake Ingredients

1 c. unsalted butter, softened
3 c. sugar
6 eggs
5 T. lemon juice
1 T. grated lemon peel
1 t. lemon extract
3 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 1/4 c. sour cream

Glaze Ingredients

1/4 c. sour cream
2 T. unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar, sifted
3 T. lemon juice
2 t. grated lemon peel

Directions

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Stir in lemon juice, peel and extract. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour. Beat just until combined (very important to NOT overbeat otherwise you will incorporate too much air into the batter and cake will have a lighter, airier texture).

2. Pour into a greased and floured 10-in. fluted tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack to cool completely.

3. For glaze, in a small mixing bowl, beat the sour cream and butter until blended. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar. Beat in lemon juice and peel. Drizzle over the cake. Store in the refrigerator.

Notes

-I added 1 t. vanilla, 3-4 t. almond extract and one cup of melted white chocolate to the batter immediately after the eggs. I folded in 2 cups of halved maraschino cherries (drained and patted dry) and 1 cup of white chocolate chips right before pouring the batter into the pans.

-I baked the cake in 2, 8×4 in. loaf pans for 1 hour, 10 minutes and cooled completely on a wire rack.

-For the glaze, substitute maraschino cherry juice for the lemon juice and add vanilla and/or almond extract.

DP Bite-Pound cake was a British creation in the early 1700’s. The aptly named cake contained one pound each of eggs, butter, sugar and flour. No leaveners were used other than the air whipped into the batter. Fascinating, right?!? Well, I think so. 🙂

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Red Velvet Cheesecake

Red Velvet Cheesecake

A few weeks ago I learned a very important lesson all over again: be careful what you ask for. In my newly wedded blissful ignorance I asked my husband of four months what he’d like me to make for his birthday dinner on December 11. Everything from scratch, of course. He laid out the menu in no time and then to top it all off requested the Red Velvet Cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory (which we had tried for the first time a couple months beforehand). Umm, ok, no problem.

The next day I formed a plan of attack. First step: find picture of the cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. From there I determined the order of layers, what went between them and the cosmetic enhancements needed. Second step: the recipes. I recalled seeing a recent episode of “Throw Down with Bobby Flay” on the Food Network Channel in which he competed in a red velvet cake contest and although I can’t remember if he won, I knew his recipe had to be good. So, I had my Red Velvet recipe. I didn’t change a thing except I used a whole bottle (1 oz.) of red food coloring for that really deep, brilliant red color and I baked it in two, 9-in. pans greased and lined with parchment paper.

For the cheesecake I went to allrecipes.com and found one that had great reviews. It turned out amazing! I honestly can’t wait to make it again the next time I want a good cherry cheesecake. Third step: assembly. This made me fairly nervous because I really haven’t made a ton of cakes and I don’t ever remember making a layered cake, so I was a bit concerned. But I gave myself a little pep talk, whipped up a simple cream cheese frosting and began construction. To my utter amazement everything sliced up and transferred fairly easily.

RV Layers resize

Each layer got a slather of frosting and when all stacked, received a crumb coat and then into the freezer it went to firm up. Final step: cream cheese frosting and a layer of shaved white chocolate applied to the sides of the cake to beautify it. End result–a very pretty cake/cheesecake that tasted even better than it looked! Oh, and in Jeremy’s words it was “better than the one from the cheesecake factory”. I think he was under the influence of a very rich birthday dinner and a large amount of sugar at this point. Hah. But it was darn good.

RV Sliced resize

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New Year’s Eve Dessert Bar

This past Thursday night I had the opportunity to donate my baking skills to a New Year’s Eve benefit for a very good cause (more on that in a bit). Since I had about two and a half days to pull everything together, I basically went into super-adrenaline mode and baked like a mad woman from sun-up till waayyyy after sundown ignoring any and all distractions including my computer, my phone (hopefully I still have friends) and my very, very sick husband. Poor husband. Lucky for me he didn’t mind passing out on the sofa every night while I was up to my elbows in sugar and flour. By the time Thursday rolled around, I thought I might not get everything done and was literally frosting things up to the minute I had to go set-up. But I triumphed! And I must say, I think it turned out quite lovely and tasty. I even managed to color coordinate with the event–black and white!

Dessert BarCupcakes

The menu was vast and varied and included these delicious selections (Oh, and did I mention everything made was “mini”? That adds time exponentially!): Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, Soft Sugar Cookies, White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies, Fudge Brownies, Chocolate Chip and White Chocolate Chai Cheesecakes, Chocolate Dipped Homemade Vanilla Marshmallow Pops, White Chocolate Dipped Pretzels, White Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream, Chocolate Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate and Oreo Buttercream, Raspberry Fudge Tassies with Almond Buttercream, Homemade Vanilla Marshmallow “Stars”, Chocolate Covered Cherries and Cappuccino Truffles. Whew!

Sugar Cookies

Overall, the dessert buffet and the benefit was a success! All proceeds from the night when to a great organization, Pearl Alliance, dedicated to freeing young women and children that are enslaved in the human trafficking industry. It’s hard to believe that a horrible injustice such as this one even exists in the world we live in today–it not only exists, but is thriving. Check out their website for more information and see what you can do to help!

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