Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Full circle, almost


My first post of the year was Oatmeal-Raisin cookies, and I'm ending 2008 with more cookies.

I guess that was a bit of a premonition about what my habits would be for the year, with cookie recipes now equaling muffin recipes, with 7 cookie recipes posted this year.
Make that 8 now.

I was not planning on making cookies today, but when I went to Trader Joe's today, I saw Miniature Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter cups. They were too cute to resist, and at the same price as a bag of chocolate chips for 12 ounces, too easy to toss into my basket. I figured I could use them in cookies of some sort.

Then it was crunch time. I told my parents I'd have a clean kitchen for them (I made banana muffins and espresso candied walnuts today) when they got home, I had to pick out what cookies I was going to make. I had just thrown out the bag from some Hershey Kisses and remembered that there was a recipe for peanut butter blossoms on the bag. I figured I could just use that as my base dough and work my way from there.

Quick, easy, and by the time my parents got home 30 minutes later, the last pan was in the oven.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Peanut Butter Cups
makes 30-40 cookies
Note: If you can't find mini peanut butter cups (I haven't seen them anywhere but TJ's), you can omit them or substitute chopped peanut butter cups or chocolate chips. Milk can also be used instead of buttermilk.
I also think this dough would work for thumbprints, but I haven't tried yet. I've yet to find a dough that I like for them.

1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 oz) butter, softened
3/4 cup (186 grams) creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ounces (1 package) mini peanut butter cups

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment or baking mats.

In a large bowl, beat the butter, peanut butter, and sugars on medium speed until combined. Beat in egg, buttermilk, and vanilla extract.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
Stir the flour mixture into the peanut butter mixture until combined. Stir in the mini peanut butter cups.

Drop rounded teaspoons of the dough onto prepared baking sheets spaced 1" apart. Bake for 10 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Baby, It's Cold Outside


The temperature here has dropped twenty degrees today, so it feels cold out.
But if you plan to venture on out or still need a nice gift for the holidays, I have a few suggestions.
Granted, you would have to have the ingredients on hand and a bit of time. And it is Christmas Eve.

Candied Espresso Walnuts shown above
Christmas Mice
Super Easy Cream Cheese Truffles
Green Tea Sandwich Cookies
Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies
Ginger Crackles
Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies (or shortbread) - these are one of my neighbors favorites out of my cookie box
Pecan Tassies

But if you are looking for a nice little edible gift, the walnuts are my favorite. They're super easy to make, take about half an hour start to finish (well, 45 if you let things cool), and they make the house smell like a coffee shop. Or at least that's how mine smelled before dad started cooking brussels sprouts.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mice for Christmastime

My grandmother has been making mice for about a decade.
Yes, I said mice.
Like the one in the picture above. Except she didn't make it. Keri and I did. It was a team effort.


She taught me how to make them about six years ago, and the following year my friend Keri and I made them together. I'm not sure if we've made them since eighth grade (when I made a step-by-step tutorial, but this year we finally got around to making them again. And they're so adorable and fun to make!

Keri and I don't see all that much of each other. We see each other at lunch and in history, which is most all through high school, but it was fun to get together. And so the mice took four hours. But don't let that scare you. We easily could have been done in an hour, but we talked, ate lunch, and found fun ways to use the leftover chocolate- we crushed up candy canes to mix in and then poured the chocolate into molds.

Chocolate mice sort of instructions:
I have no clue about quantities, but we used 3 10-ounce jars of maraschino cherries, a 17.6 ounce bar of milk chocolate, part of a 12-ounce bag of slivered almonds (the smallest size should be fine, we needed 204 almond slivers that looked nice), 1 1/2 bags of Hershey kisses (the 11 ounce ones, or 102 hershey kisses), and part of a tube of red gel icing. The numbers were based on how many cherries with stems we ended up with, and that's what we ended up with.
Melt the chocolate, dip the cherries in, push the kiss on, stick in the almonds. Repeat. Place in fridge to harden up for a while, and then dot on eyes. For better instructions, see my how-to from eighth grade.

Last three pictures by Keri. She was having fun with the camera.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Chocolate and Cream Cheese = Truffles

It's a fact. When I have a paper, I find ways to avoid working on them.
Okay, it's called procrastination and I'm sure we're all subject to it, but at least, well, okay, sometimes, I actually do something productive while avoiding what I should be working on.

Not that it's premeditated or anything. I was going to make Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies, but I wasn't sure what to do with the extra egg yolks that I would have leftover, and it seemed like it would be an hour of devotion at once.

Which is funny. Because that's how much time I ended up spending on something that I thought would be so much faster and easier. Which it was. Easier that is. Or at least simpler. Because it had two ingredients. I tried making it three, but that was a bad plan (and makes me glad I didn't make the peppermint cheesecake brownies).

The Philadelphia Cream Cheese coupon in the sunday paper had a recipe for truffles in it. I grabbed it for the coupon ('tis the season for tassies) but then realized it had a recipe (if you can even call it that) for truffles.

And they were surprisingly tasty.


1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (melted but later on)
decorations, optional

Beat the cream cheese until fluffy and beat in the chocolate. Chill until firm enough to handle (mine didn't need chilling, it set up pretty fast in my cold house) and then scoop and shape teaspoonfulls into balls.
Chill for half an hour or so, and then dip into melted chocolate and place on a sheet of wax paper or silicone mat (and top with sprinkles if desired).
Refrigerate for a few hours until chocolate is set.