Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, Almost


As I prepare to write my letter to leave Santa, I feel like there's something else I should write down.
And that would be the recipe for the new cookie I tried this week: pistachio meringues!

I wasn't planning on making meringues, but this morning, I suddenly realized it was Christmas Eve and I still hadn't finished my cookie tins to deliver to the neighbors. I never bought pistachios or dried cranberries to make Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies. The tassies and grasshopper squares looked lonely by themselves, and even though I made ginger crackles last week, they look out of place with the other cookies.

I looked up and noticed I had Delicious Living open to a hazelnut meringue recipe. Well, I didn't have any hazelnuts around, but I did have some ground up pistachios from when I made Pistachio White Chocolate Cookies. And meringues aren't that hard to make... my mind was set. As the last batch of tassies was cooling, I set out on these cookies, and awed my grandmother, though they were a little too sweet for her tastes.

Pistachio Meringues
based on this recipe
Makes about 30 small meringues

2 large egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup ground pistachios

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and preheat oven to 275ºF.

Bring water to a simmer in a pot that a metal bowl will fit over. Whisk together egg whites in sugar in bowl over the simmering water until the sugar is dissolved, about three minutes. Remove from heat. With an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar, with cream of tartar, until still glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes.

With a spatula fold in vanilla extract and pistachios. Spoon onto prepared baking sheet, or transfer to pastry bag fitted with plain round tip and form 1" circles on baking mat. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until meringues are firm and dry to the touch and almost entirely dry on inside. Let cool on sheets for five minutes, then remove and let cool completely.

Monday, December 21, 2009

First Homemade Meal...

A sandwich. And by me. Wait, that's a lie. My dad made tasty eggs for breakfast Sunday morning. So this is the second home cooked meal since I've been home. And I'm the one who made it...
I need to learn my way around the kitchen again. This was a lot harder than it should have been.

I showed up at the grocery store after Christmas shopping with no idea what I wanted to make. It hadn't been a particularly eventful day. I ran an errand for my dad, then for my mom, ended up at the mall alone, people watched, bought a few presents, got stuck in traffic, failed to merge at the right time and passed up Target, sang my lungs out to extremely summery songs with the windows rolled up, and talked on the phone.
It's amazing I'm still alive. And made it to the grocery store. And walked around the grocery store. And put things in my basket; took things out of my basket. Changed my mind. Stared at the seafood case. Grabbed some tortillas. Picked up chocolate chips. Put back the tortillas. Paced back and forth.
Eventually, I ended up in the checkout line. With a baguette, a bunch of kale, portabella mushrooms, a jar of red peppers, celery, and a bag of chocolate chips. The chocolate chips were unrelated to the rest of the stuff. And the celery was to go with the spinach dip in the fridge.

Bet you didn't think that those ingredients were going to turn themselves into a sandwich. Except they didn't. I softened the cream cheese, put it into the food processor, and then spent ten minutes unsuccessfully trying to get the jar of roasted red peppers open. I tried hot water, towels, t-shirts, paper towels, phone calls. Nothing worked. So much for the roasted red pepper spread.

But you know what, it was okay without. My mom was hesitant sitting down to eat, looking at her sandwich and soup (courtesy of the fridge and available at Jewel), but was pleasantly surprised. I guess kale, cream cheese, and portabellas do make a tasty sandwich.

recipe coming soon.
I don't remember what I did.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

National Cupcake Day


So apparently yesterday was National Cupcake Day. There's a crazy list of food holidays here. I'm not quite sure what it means, but who doesn't want an excuse to bake cupcakes?

The semester is winding down to a close. Well, not winding. It's more in your face than that, with exams and all, but it's different. In a few short hours, I will have finished my first semester of college, and most likely be freaking out at the state of my dorm room and inability to fit everything in my suitcase. I need my baking stuff! And clothes and my cameras and shoes and...
I need to learn to live more simply.

My roommate had some ripe bananas, so I took her bananas, the butter from the fridge (still working on it from the last post), went to the grocery store and picked up some sour cream and eggs, and got to work. A couple hours later, there was less food in the fridge than before, and 15 frosted cupcakes that quickly disappeared. I didn't even get a chance to get a picture of them all!

cream cheese frosting

I ended up making a second batch, that was frosted significantly less liberally, even though I was considering making peanut butter frosting. Except I'm not sure I've ever had frosting that trumps this cream cheese frosting. It wasn't too sweet or too thick. It was just right. And of course, I didn't measure the sugar. It was a little lumpy, but that's what happens to powdered sugar when it sits on a shelf all semester.

Neil had 4 cupcakes, without frosting. I think that's a testament to the cupcakes themselves, frosted or not.

banana cupcakes w/ cream cheese frosting
Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from a chocolate banana cupcake on a blog, but I scribbled it on a notecard and can't find the site now
makes 17 (or maybe 18?)

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup mashed banana (about 2-3 bananas)
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare 18 muffin cups. In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a larger bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together until fluffy and smooth. Beat in egg, followed by banana and sour cream, and then the vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture

Spoon a scant 1/4 cup batter into each muffin cup. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Remove from pans to cool completely on wire racks. Then frost as desired.

Cream Cheese Frosting
can frost just 17, or a few more

8 ounces (1 package) cream cheese, softened
4 ounces (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powder sugar, or to taste

Beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy. Beat in salt and vanilla extract. Slowly add powdered sugar and beat to incorporate.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Butterful Blondies


When I got back from class there was a checklist taped to all the doors along the hallway. It was a checklist for winter break, and what we had to do in our room before we left. I read the fourth line: "unplug everything." Which makes sense, because of standby power, and it's why my power strip has a switch on it, except, there's a tiny problem. And that is that our fridge and freezer are not empty. While my roommate's stuff is complete meals, I had seven sticks of butter, a package of cream cheese, melted chocolate, peanut butter, and a frozen overripe banana. In other words, the cast for a baking extravaganza. And less than two weeks to do it in. And I make things very slowly.

So I decided last night was as good a time as any to start. I was going to go to my roommate's dance theater performance, but I'm going tonight instead, and it's not like I'm getting any studying for that Psych exam anyway... Might as well procrastinate in a useful manner. And use up three-quarters of a pound of butter while I'm at it. (I got some eggs with my meal points... they cost more than my dinner.) My parents sounded a bit disappointed when I called them in response to a text of "What's up?" and told them I was alone and washing dishes. But it was all worth it!

These blondies are rich, delicious, and chewy. They have the approval of everyone who has tried them... though my roommate had to cut them herself, because I was too busy playing DDR.

Now I just need to use up that remaining pound of butter and half pound of cream cheese.

Classic Blondies
from Bruce Weinstein's The Ultimate Brownie Book p.118
Note: the recipe called for 2 Tablespoons of vanilla extract. I can't read, and with the chocolate chips, it's okay. If you choose to omit the chocolate chips, it would make for a very rich tasty blondie.

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (3/4 lb) unsalted butter, softened
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

Position rack in lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter a 9X13 inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, wisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer (stand mixer works better here, my hand mixer started to groan) at medium speed; continue beating until pale brown and thick, about 7 minutes, Add eggs one at a time, mixing well before each addition. Scrape down sides of bowls as necessary. Beat in fourth egg for about a minute; beat in vanilla.

With a spatula, stir in the chocolate chips, and then the flour. (If you do it the other way, nothing bad will happen, it just won't be as tender.) Do not beat up the batter, it will be very thick though, like cookie dough. Spoon into prepared pan, and gently spread to corners

Bake for 45 minutes, or until top is light brown and a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Set the pan on a rack to cool for at least 30 minutes, otherwise you'll end up with a mess on your hands.

Cut brownies into desired number of pieces while still in the pan. Carefully remove. Serve, or let cool completely before covering. Eat within 3 days, or freeze them for a couple months.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Look. Pretty Leaves. And Cake!


I'm not very good at being a college student. I'm not productive late at night, though I am awake with the idea that maybe I'll actually get some work done, I don't sleep until noon on the weekends, and if I had a fake ID, I'd use it to buy some brandy to make the icing suggested for this cake. But the cake does not need a brandied brown butter icing, it holds its own just fine. It also has miraculously lasted three days, in part because I haven't been doing the best job of publicizing it.

This cake was the cake I mentioned before, with the turkey sandwiches. Only I wasn't expecting it to be a cake, I was expecting it to be more like a bar cookie, so I was a bit surprised when I got a nice tender cake with a muffin-like crumb. But it was a good surprise, because the flavors shine much more, and it is a lot less cloying, with its cakey lightness. It's just a little less picnic friendly than bar cookies would be.

This cake was easy to make, makes a lot of cake, and while I haven't yet done the math to figure out how much it cost to make, I don't think it was TOO expensive either. And did I mention tasty? My RA doesn't understand how I can just combine things and they taste good, but I don't just combine things and they taste good, I follow recipes, sort of.

So if you're in need of a tasty snack cake that has the tastiness of banana bread without the wholesome sounding name, and the yummy sweetness of toffee and milk chocolate, I'd highly recommend making this. Or asking someone to make it for you.

Banana Toffee Snack Cake
adapted from Better Homes & Gardens Biggest Book of Cookies
Makes a half-sheet of cake

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup mashed ripe banana (2-3 medium bananas)
3/4 cup (6 oz) plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups chopped toffee bits (such as 1 bag Heath Toffee Pieces)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a half-sheet pan. set aside.

Beat butter in mixing bowl with electric mixer on high for about 30 seconds, or until fluffy.
Beat in sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally.
Beat in egg, mashed banana, yogurt, and vanilla extract until combined.
Stir in flour until just incorporated. Stir in 1 cup toffee bits.

Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle remaining toffee bits over top. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out free of batter. Or when you press lightly, the indentation does not remain. Remove from oven and cool in pan on wire rack.

Cut into desired number of squares. (I think it makes about 48 2x2" squares, but I didn't cut them in a systematic manner.)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Perfect Picnic in the Park


I am not following in my parents' footsteps. Really. I'm not.

Even if they want to think differently. There's a difference between catering and "catering." And when I was asked on Friday if I would cater a picnic, it was not really "catering." If it was, I'm a pitiful caterer. And I didn't add a fee either.

Grocery shopping for ten people is difficult to do alone, especially when I had no clue what I was doing. How much turkey do I need to buy? Fruit gets heavy really quickly. And there are too many kinds of turkey to choose from. They sell sliced cheese in two places OTHER than the deli case. And Jarlsberg was difficult to find. But I found it. Next to more turkey. I circled the grocery store enough that I'm finally learning my way around it, and also probably looked crazy. But that's okay, because nothing bad happened.

So Sunday morning, I woke up five hours after I went to bed, hopped up, ate breakfast, gathered up my stuff for banana toffee snack cake (though I didn't realize that was what it was at the time), headed to the kitchen, and started on my baking.

Two hours later, I was making sandwiches, with help from a floormate. I'm scared of tomatoes, so I was glad she came and helped. She also came armed with a plastic knife. Those things work way better than metal butter knives on both ciabatta and tomatoes. I don't understand why they swapped those in for metal knives after 9/11 on airplanes; they might be more dangerous.


But the picnic. I've yet to mention the picnic. The one that I was utterly unprepared for, and was tasty, but could have been better. I forgot the napkins. But I remembered hand sanitizer, not that I took it out of my bag. No blanket or anything, but then I saw some picnic tables near where they'd set up the high line. And there was probably just barely enough sandwich. It was a good thing that someone also grabbed chips. And the snack cake went over well.

But I was amazed. I didn't know I could get so much praise for a turkey sandwich. It wasn't even my idea! I just listen to people's suggestions, sort of.

Turkey Sandwich on Ciabatta

1 loaf ciabatta (about 12 ounces)
1/2 lb sliced cajun spiced turkey
8 slices colby jack cheese
1 avocado, thinly sliced
4 leaves green leaf lettuce

Slice ciabatta lengthwise, so that there's a top and a bottom. Layer cheese along bottom. Top with turkey, then lettuce, and then avocado. Place other half of bread on top. Slice into desired number of sandwiches. Six is a good size.

Variation: Jarlsberg + tomato, with normal smoked deli turkey.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Fabulous Fall Weather and Pumpkin Pie


The weather today was gorgeous. Perfect for spending time outside... which I did, for about twenty minutes in the park today, tagging along with people looking for good trees for slacklining, wishing I had a camera with me. But I didn't, and when I looked at my watch, realized I was running late for an appointment. It's amazing how warm 65 degrees and breezy can feel when you're rushing up a slight incline.

However, the weather is not at all related to pumpkin pie. I just felt like making a pumpkin pie, and that's exactly what I did. While it may not feel quite crisp enough yet to be December, I'll take this over last week's rain that made me consider building an ark. Pumpkin pie might just be the easiest thing I've baked since I got here. The only thing I've made that's been easier is probably super simple fudge with peanut butter on top. And technically, my roommate made it. So enjoy fall and be all seasonal. Bake a pumpkin pie!

Oh, and did you know that there's a pumpkin shortage?

Easy Pumpkin Pie
Note: Since starting college, I've come to like making things that are easy, simple, and require few dishes. Had I been ambitious, and had more pans, I probably would have made the dough from tassies and made miniature pumpkin pies. Much easier to share, but instead, this will have to do. Also, I had some leftover filling. Either follow the original recipe, use a larger graham cracker crust, or just bake off the extra in a mini-muffin pan.

Makes 1 pie.

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 can (15 oz.) Pure Pumpkin
1 can (12 fl. oz.) Evaporated Milk
prepared graham cracker crust (if using unbaked homemade or frozen crust, follow instructions on Nestle's site)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Whisk the eggs. Whisk in sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Stir in pure pumpkin. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into prepared crust.

Bake in oven 50-65 minutes or until center is set and a toothpick comes out clean. (I just do the jiggling test, once it no longer resembles Jello, it's good!)

Hide from hungry eyes and noses for an hour to cool, and then cut and serve.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

To Prevent Monotony, We'll Call This Fudge

But that's a lie. It's another brownie recipe! (What? They're popular here. I can't help it.)

Milk Chocolate Cinnamon Brownies

Today is my friend's birthday. It's not an exciting one, or anything. The only milestone I've come up with is (rumor has it, though I can't find proof) is that he is now old enough to go to an Applebee's after 9pm in Missouri. Not sure how that makes sense though.

And as with most birthdays, I ask the person for some sort of suggestion. Two weeks ago I was told brownies, hence the Banana Brownies. For today, my question of "Name on or more the following: a flavor, a texture, an ingredient, or a color" received the response of "Wow umm... Fudgy?"

Which brings us to these brownies. I didn't want to make fudge in response to fudgy, because well, fudge is fudgy by definition. So I, once again, flipped through The Ultimate Brownie Book and picked out a recipe that looked like there was no way it wouldn't turn out fudgy. My roommates first response was "Wow, these are fudgy." And with one pound of milk chocolate in them, and some panicking with the oven (don't use an 8" pan, it'll overflow!) they turned out. Though maybe they could have used a few more minutes when baked in an aluminum foil pan. And would probably look a lot better if they weren't in a box the exact same color as them.

In the words of my roommate, "They taste a lot better than they look, and the cinnamon is wonderful."

Milk Chocolate Cinnamon Brownies
Makes a 9x9 pan of brownies, pick your size (recommends 16, I say more)
adapted from Bruce Weinstein's The Ultimate Brownie Book

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons ( 1 stick/4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1 lb (16 ounces) milk chocolate, chopped, or 2 2/3 cups milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature

Position the rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour (or line with aluminum foil if you have a temperamental pan) a 9x9 pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.

Place the chopped cholate in a heat-proof bowl and melt over a small pot of simmering water. Or, alternatively, microwave in a microwave-safe bowl on medium in twenty-second intervals, stirring, until melted. Stir in butter one tablespoon at a time.

Beat the sugar and eggs with an electric mixer at medium speed until sugar has dissolved and mixture is pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Beat in the chocolate mixture in two batches. Beat for about 2-5 minutes or until the mixture is smooth.

Fold in the flour mixture. DO NOT BEAT UP THE BATTER! Treat it nicely, with care. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it to the corners. It will be nice and thick.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the sides are set and doesn't jiggle and the top is dry. It will still be soft in the middle and set up as it cools Set pan on a rack to cool for about two hours.

Cut the brownies while they are still in the pan. (It might be easier to put them in the fridge if they are too gooey). Carefully remove them, and serve immediately, or store in an airtight container, either in a single layer or with wax paper in between.

P.S. You should check this out.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Brownies, Without Corn

"I didn't get one of Mariam's brownies." "They're in here." "Oh, yeah. They're your birthday brownies."

I just overheard that coming from my the hallway. I found it amusing, if only because I was just starting to type my blog post. I guess I really do have that reputation I thought I was cultivating. And these brownies don't have corn in them (though I do have a can of corn just waiting to be baked into brownies again). No, today's brownies are more conventional, though they still aren't PLAIN brownies. If I wanted "normal" brownies, I would have spent $1.50 on a box of mix and just followed the instructions. There's nothing wrong with that, it just would have been too easy, and taken all the fun out of it. Not to mention, save me thirty minutes. I mean, I find Islamic marriage laws fascinating (no really, did you know that marriage "prevents sexual frustration and the temptation to sin?"), but they can wait forty-five minutes. That's what the bake time is for. Well, that and dishes.

So what's the verdict on these brownies? According to the birthday girl, "They taste like chocolate banana bread. Or, at least what I'd imagine chocolate banana bread to taste like." If chocolate banana bread was that rich, it'd be dangerous, because "bread" doesn't sound as sinful as "brownie."

Banana Brownies
Makes a 9x13 pan of brownies, you can decide how many that is (usually it's 24)
adapted from Bruce Weinstein's The Ultimate Brownie Book

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons ( 1 stick/4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 medium)
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (optional)

Position the rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour (or line with aluminum foil if you have a temperamental pan) a 9x13 pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Place 3 tablespoons of butter, the bittersweet chocolate, and the unsweetened chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and melt over a small pot of simmering butter. Or, alternatively, microwave in a microwave-safe bowl on medium in twenty-second intervals, stirring, until melted. Allow to cool for ten minutes.

Meanwhile, cream the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until sugar has dissolved and mixture is smooth, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating until each is thoroughly incorporated.
After the eggs have been incorporated, add the vanilla, bananas, and chocolate mixture. Beat until batter is smooth, about 2 minutes.

Fold in the flour mixture and chocolate chips, if using, until just combined. DO NOT BEAT UP THE BATTER! Treat it nicely, with care. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it to the corners.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs attached and the top is dry. Set pan on a rack to cool for at least 30 minutes or so.

Cut the brownies while they are still in the pan. Carefully remove them, and serve immediately, or let cool completely before storing in an airtight container, either in a single layer or with wax paper in between.

For fudgier brownier, rap the pan halfway through baking.

Want another banana brownie recipe? Click here
Personally, I like the ones with actual banana slices better.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

"Quick! Hide the corn!"


One thing that doesn't take long to develop, and that you want control of, is a reputation. If someone's reputation may at some point proceed them, then it should be an accurate reflection of him or her. Otherwise they may not live up to it, or not be given a chance to prove themselves different.

I think I may be starting to develop a reputation. Those peanut butter cookies scared me, because they didn't live up to what people at home knew I was capable of. But here, they were scratch-made peanut butter cookies, which made them good regardless of their major flaws. They didn't have standards by which to be judged, they just had to be edible.

I feel like I redeemed myself (not that anybody else thought I needed redeeming) with the chocolate crinkles. And then the hideous, but tasty, banana-oatmeal cookies made an appearance.

So now, two weeks later, I'm not so sure that it's the same. Our whiteboard to our room bears messages of "Greatest floormate and baker" and "Next time no corn please!" I think there might be some expectations held of my baking now. Oops?

Sweet Corn Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting
from Bruce Weinstein's The Ultimate Brownie Book
I couldn't find a 14 3/4 oz can of cream-style corn, so I kind of had to guess at the amount, which is what is listed here, because it worked. And the cream cheese frosting, while a suggestion in the original recipe, along with buttercream, really is quite nice with the brownies.

For Brownies:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup canned cream style corn

For frosting:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 ounces butter, softened
1 to 2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a pan with parchment or foil (if you want to) and grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Then beat in the vanilla.

Beat in half of the cream-style corn, followed by half of the flour mixture. Beat in the other half of the corn, followed by the remaining flour mixture. Beat until well combined, scraping down sides as necessary. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread gently to the corners.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top is dry, and a toothpick comes out of the center damp with some moist crumbs attached. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for at least an hour or two.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add in the sugar 1/4 cup at a time, until desired consistency and flavor is reached. It shouldn't be too loose or too stiff. Let sit a few minutes before spreading over brownies.

Frost the brownies while still in the pan. Cut into desired number of squares (normal would be 24, I tend to make more smaller ones in case people don't like them, and so more people can try them). If the frosting is too soft, chill for 20 minutes, or until set. Lift brownies out with an offset spatula or, carefully, with a fork.

If frosted, store in the refrigerator. If unfrosted, they should stay fresh at room temperature for about three days.

Monday, August 31, 2009

What Not To Do At College


Today I learned how to be a successful student. And nowhere on there did it mention baking, but it did mention time management skills. So far, I'm doing okay. I slept for ten and a half hours last night, and at my current rate, I'll get to sleep for about eight tonight. So far, so good.

Well, except for the fact that I haven't done my reading for Wednesday yet. So tomorrow I'll have to kick myself into gear, between classes, running, a meeting, and sleep, there should be plenty of time for that. Why do today what can be put off until tomorrow without any repercussions? It's not like I spent hours online playing Text Twist or video chatting with my nonexistent boyfriend five states away. Instead I made cookie dough, spent an hour and a half getting dinner (my stir-fry had banana peppers!), and then proceeded to spend the next two hours baking cookies. It takes some time when you only have one baking sheet. And I met four new people (and most likely can't identify them in a line-up), learned how to play "cutthroat," and amazed people by the fact that, yes, these cookies are made from scratch. And no, I don't think it's a waste of my time in college to bake. I love to see people's faces when I offer them cookies, or they walk into a room and see some stranger baking. It's fun!

These cookies put Friday's cookies to shame. It may be that I like brownies, and these cookies taste like brownies. And are significantly prettier and chewy. And much prettier. These cookies I'm not scared to walk up and down the hall with, and with their petite size, I don't feel guilty offering them to everyone either.

Chocolate Crinkles
pretty much the same as the recipe in Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Cookies

3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/2 cup mild oil (I used canola)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, granulated sugar, chocolate, oil, baking powder, and vanilla. Stir in the flower with a wooden spoon or awesome spatula. Cover and chill teh dough until easy to handle, about an hour or two.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Shape teaspoonfulls of dough into balls. Roll in powdered sugar to coat generously, they will be much prettier this way. Place balls 1/2-inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake in oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges are set and tops are crackled and edges are set. Let cool slightly before removing from baking sheet.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Friday Night Cookies


The first Friday night at college. Hot, sticky air. Lots of noise. Cramped spaces. Peanut butter cookies from scratch.

Yep. That would be me! I spent my first Friday night not in search of a wild party, beer, or a bed. I spent it making peanut butter cookies... well, I guess 8pm could be considered the evening here, in which case I did spend my Friday night doing other things... like playing Twister, card games, and getting pink grapefruit gelato and trying to figure out how inebriated the person limping down the hallway really was ("I'm fine, really, I'm fine." "Okay... if you say so.")


I fought with an oven that I couldn't figure out how to turn on, leading someone else to push buttons randomly and get it to work after I pretty much murdered the first batch of cookies. I panicked that I would set off the fire alarm when I forgot about the third batch, which someone else wanted to happen to see how many people came out of the building. All in all it was a good experience. Nobody complained nor went into anaphylactic shock. I'd say that's a sign of a successful night.

Milk Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies
from the back of a bag of Target chocolate chips

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
12 oz (1 bag) milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375.

Beat butter, peanut butter, sugars, and vanilla on medium speed until creamy. Beat in egg.

Mix in flour, baking soda, and baking powder with a spatula or on a slow speed until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on cookie sheets. Press down with a fork to flatten.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool on cookie sheet slightly before transferring to a cooling rack or somewhere else. Do not eat directly off cookie sheet or you will be in pain and learn a lesson.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Raspberries, Sorbet, and Fudge: A Temporary Goodbye


I've left home and at college now. It's a little weird. I don't start classes for over a week, my roommate isn't here yet, and the campus is fairly quiet. That, and I'm not at home where the kitchen is. This could take some getting used to.

Right before I left, I tried to take advantage of the kitchen I was neglecting, because I know that I'm going to miss it. I made zucchini bread, but not as much as I intended to, raspberry sorbet, and fudge. I was going to make tofu with bok choy for lunch one day, but I never got around to it with the leftover gormeh sabzi in the fridge. Hopefully someone in the house uses the tofu before it goes bad. But the best received thing I made was the dessert I made the night my aunt and Ed came over for dinner. I'd made the raspberry sorbet earlier in the day, and wanted something to go with it. Cookie cups would have taken a little too much time since I made it back to the house 5 minutes before my aunt showed up. Aunt B really likes chocolate, so I settled on fudge.

It was a tasty pairing. And super simple as well.

Almond Topped Fudge
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
3 cups (18 ounces) chopped bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Line a baking sheet with or 9" square pan with parchment paper.

In a saucepan or in the microwave, melt the chocolate. Stir in the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.

Spread the fudge into a 9" square. Top with almonds and press down lightly. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Cut into squares and serve!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Since Everybody Could Use Another Potato Salad

Just in case a lack of words and pictures hasn't made it obvious, I haven't been cooking much lately. Or at least not much new or noteworthy, and if it has been new and noteworthy, there weren't any pictures to back it up. That, and I just haven't been able to come up with much to say.

But here's something. And I didn't make it, which makes me sad. But it's an idea, from a potato salad at Whole Foods. Something different for the last month of potato salads.

Grilled (or cooked however) potatoes, tosssed with crumbled blue cheese, torn watercress and sliced scallions in a vinaigrette of olive oil, red whine vinegar, shallots, dijon mustard, honey, salt, and pepper.

How's that for simple and different sounding? Not that I could get the proportions right. Maybe I'll try sometime this week. Or not.

Monday, June 01, 2009


About a year ago I purchased some buckwheat to make this buckwheat and calamari salad. The salad was delicious and one of those things on my list of things to write about that I just never managed to post about. But back to the buckwheat. I bought far more than I needed, so it just sat around, waiting to be used.

Enter Luisa, The Wednesday Chef. She posted about some delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies with Buckwheat Groats. I read the post and was immediately curious. She said they were good, and everything she'd ever said was good that I'd tried so far had been a success. So I bookmarked it, and thought about it, but for some reason, seemed to avoid making the recipe or touching the sad bag of kasha. Until nearly half a year later.

I sniffed the bag of buckwheat, deemed it acceptable, and set off to make the cookies right before entering my last week of school. While they weren't the prettiest of cookies, they were fairly tasty, with an unexpected crunch. Nobody who tried them disliked them. And I'm sure they won't disappoint you either if you give them a try. And then, with that leftover buckwheat, you really should try the calamari salad.

Recipe on The Wednesday Chef

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Vessel For Your Treat


Friday night I decided I wanted to make dessert to take over to my aunt and uncle's house. There was only one problem: I couldn't decide what to make. So I flipped through some magazines and cookbooks, still was undecided, and looked at my watch. That made it easier. With an hour and a half, going to the grocery store was out of the question. I was limited to what I had in the house. I opened the fridge, saw some orange juice, and decided to turn it into sorbet. But it needed something more.

A pretty bowl.

With David Lebowitz's The Perfect Scoop in hand, I set off to find something to go with the sorbet, and settled on the Almond Butterscotch Cookie Cups. And I had everything I needed to make them, leaving me with enough time to make the batter (which can be made up to a week ahead of time), and then bake it and shape it!

I then proceeded to make them again for memorial day.

Almond Butterscotch ...
I'm trying to be better about copyright laws. So the recipe, since completely unaltered, does not appear hear. I'm thinking of trying one out with pepitas to go with mango sorbet, and if I succeed, that will show up. That and trying for ones without corn syrup, but I'm not sure if I'll be successful in that endeavor.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Failure Cookies, With Potential


Sunday night I wanted to try the chocolate chip cookies in the February issue of Vegetarian Times, because they didn't look like normal chocolate chip cookies at all. They actually look pretty ugly, all thin and sort of brownish with the oats. But I thought they could taste good, and I'd never made cookies with oat flour before, I had everthing necessary to try to make them, and I really didn't want to go to bed and face the reality of spring break being over. Not yet.

But as soon as I put all the ingredients on the counter and chopped up the chocolate, it was too late to start. I'd be up far later than I wanted to be, and that would be bad. So I put everything away, and tried again on Monday.

Monday went a little better. I managed to get the batter made, but as soon as I went to open the oven, the door fell off.
And that should have prevented me from messing the cookies up. But it didn't. Impatient me figured the batter felt cooler, and tossed in the chocolate while my dad struggled to fix the oven door (I was helping him, a little...)
Chopped up chocolate + warm cookie dough = chocolate cookie dough.
That wasn't exactly what I was going for. But as soon as the oven door was back in place, and the oven preheated, I baked them off anyway. I thought they were too chocolaty (did I mention the dough was based off of ground walnuts) and masked the tasty cinnamon-hinted dough.

Unsatisfied with the results, though my friends kept assuring me they were tasty, I tried again Tuesday afternoon. I figured I had a foolproof solution to turning it into a chocolate batter: leave out the chocolate.
Well, I will admit that I liked the second batch of cookies better... well, sort of. I liked their potential better. I just didn't bake them long enough, frazzled in the face of an English paper about Billy Budd and rushed them as soon as my mom walked in the house and I realized it was already 6 o'clock. Oops.

But they'll be good. Next time.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Asparagus Salad


Spring is was in the air.
Those blue skies, pleasant breezes, temperatures in the 50s and 60s, the sound of lawnmowers, and the smell of green.
But that's gone now. Today was overcast, gray, and okay, maybe the temperature was right, but the mood wasn't. Until dinner that is. This salad spelled SPRING. Maybe not really (I don't think there's any way I can make an acronym with it. I could try. Or an acrostic with: aSparagus, pecorino Romano, lemon juIce, bostoN lettuce, eGgs.)

It was a very green dinner we had tonight. And I'm referring to it's color. An amazing and light asparagus salad and pasta with arugula pesto. What better way to mark spring than that?

Roasted Asparagus Salad with Pecorino, Lemon, and Olive Oil
from Cooking Light April 2009

The link to it is here: Roasted Asparagus Salad

I actually followed the recipe exactly as written. So I think it would be illegal to rewrite it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Cherry Birthday To You


Among my friends I'm known for my baking. Most possibly because in the past year or two, I've been making more cookies and other treats that are easy to transport and share. So when I asked my friend last week what she would like me to make her for her birthday, her reply was "Not cupcakes." Which let me with far too many possibilities and far too many ideas. I asked her for a direction - something more specific, an ingredient, a flavor, a color, anything! A few days later, she came up to me and said, "Cherry." It took me a second to realize what she meant, but it worked out. I had a jar of cherries at home.

The first thing that came to my mind was cherry cheesecake, but I needed something more portable and fridge free. I remembered the cream cheese blondies with kumquats that I made a month or two ago, and since we had cream cheese, I figured I could make a thicker and less cakey version of them. So I tried. And failed. Well, the first time at least. They didn't cook all the way through, and the graham cracker crust seemed to insulate the insides. So the next day, I tried again. Only that time I had to go to the store. I traded the jarred cherries with frozen ones (practicality) and lost the graham cracker crust (it wasn't necessary, and I was out of graham crackers.)

I would say the results the second time were better. Gooey from the cherries, chewy from the cream cheese and brown sugar, and portable though sticky. And my friend, well, she told me she liked them, so I'd say they achieved their purpose.

Gooey Chewy Cherry Bars
8 ounces frozen cherries
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick, 3 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pistachios

In a small saucepan, combine cherries and 1 Tablespoon sugar. Cook over medium heat until thick and syrupy (not watery!),about 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line a 9x9 inch pan with foil (optional) and butter. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, cream cheese, granulated sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until the sugars have dissolved and the mixture is smooth and thick, about 2-4 minutes, scraping sides of bowl as necessary.
Beat in the egg and vanilla.

Stir in flour mixture until just incorporated, followed by pistachios. Spoon half batter into prepared pan, spreading gently to corners. Top with cherries. Top with remaining batter.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is light brown and toothpick or tester comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Set the pan on a rack to cool for at least 30 minutes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Warm Spinach Salad


So I've been seriously neglecting my blog this year. Seventy days into the year, and there are barely a handful of posts. I've started cooking more, but when it's "let's throw these things together and hope it turns out tasty," precise measurements are neglected, and therefore recipes do not result. But I'm trying to make amends. It's much easier to blog when dinner starts with a recipe that I just failed to follow correctly - erm, made preferential changes to - like the tasty spinach salad I made Saturday night.

Saturday was spent knowing I needed to get a lot of homework done so that the week wouldn't be stressful, and simultaneously doing absolutely nothing productive - no baked goods, n o cleaner room, no organized cabinets, no ironed clothes, no meandering walks - to avoid it. In all honesty, whatever I did was so mind-numbing that I don't remember what it was - until my friend called at two asking if I wanted to see a movie. Yes, a legitimate way to procrastinate! Count me in. An hour and a half later I was settling into the recently renovated theater with the permanently reclined seats as the opening credits blasted Bob Dylan's "The Times Are A-Changing." Three hours after that, my dad picked me up and -surprise! - two more guests for dinner. I relayed to him the contents of our refrigerator and my original plans for our dinner, and since I had planned for leftovers, it was easily adapted. We had plenty of food.

Oh, the salad. While it was the risotto patties I was the most excited about, misinterpreting the word "has" and "can" led to a change. And while everyone loved the risotto, it was the salad that I found to be much more exciting. With just fifteen minutes, a flavorful, warm side salad resulted. I think I'm discovering warm salads a bit too late, considering it was in the 50s and 60s, but today it dropped back down to 20s.

Regardless, the salad with the crisp spinach, mellowed fennel and onions, and sharp sweet balsamic is a keeper.

Spinach Salad with Fennel-Red Onion Dressing

adapted from Jack Bishop's A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen

6 ounces baby spinach
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small fennel bulb (about 8 ounces), stalks and fronds discarded or saved for another use, bulb thinly slices
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
black pepper

Place spinach in a large bowl.

Heat the oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add fennel, onion, salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and carmelizing, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and cook just until syrupy, about 30 seconds to a minute. REmove the pan from the heat and stir in ground black pepper to taste.

Scrape the fennel mixture into the bowl with the spinach, and toss to combine until spinach wilts slightly, about one minute. Serve immediately!

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Sweet Potato Salad for a Sweet Weekend


I've already made this salad twice. And I ate 3/4 of it the first time. If that doesn't attest to it's tastiness, then I'm not sure what does. Or, I suppose, you could argue that I ate it out of convenience since it was already made and in the fridge. Which is true, but it wouldn't explain why I made it again for dinner tonight.

It took me three days to make this salad. I bought everything on Wednesday with the intent to make it that night, but it took me until Friday night to make it. It was the first thing I did when I got home, along with a double batch of banana-oatmeal cookies with chocolate-covered espresso beans. Actually, it was the only thing I did at home. After making dinner and eating some, I packaged some up in a container, threw it in a lunchbox with a fork and some cookies, and headed off to pick up my friend to go to a concert. Which would be another highlight of my night. In all of its loud glory (despite my purple earplugs), That Was Something and Go Crash Audio were the highlight of the evening, despite my chronic tardiness causing us to miss half of it.

And along for the joyous occasion on Saturday, my lunch was once again this salad, in between the actual competing at regionals and learning that we placed first. Meaning that the entire math team is going to state for a fourth consecutive year! That's not a bad streak. Though I doubt I have much to do with it.

But that has little to do with the salad. I just think you should give it a try. Even my dad gave it approval. It was much better than last night's not-so-succesful attempt at Saag Paneer. Anyone have a good recipe for that?

Sweet Potato Salad with Apple and Avocado
adapted from Vegetarian Times February 2009 p.67
serves 6 as a side salad, 3-4 as a main course

1 lb sweet potatoes (about 1 big one), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 medium red apple, diced (1 cup)
1/2 small onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup lime juice (from about 3 limes)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 avocado, finely diced (mine was a small avocado, so I used the whole one)
4 cups mixed salad greens, baby spinach, or arugula
salt and pepper

Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook about 3 minutes. Add corn and cook 1 to 2 minutes more, or until potatoes are tender. Drain in colander and rinse under cool water.
Meanwhile, toast pumpkin seeds in dry skillet over medium-high heat 3 to 4 minutes or until seeds begin to pop. Keep and eye on them, they burn easily. Transfer to a plate to cool.
Combine apple, onion, cilantro, lime juice, sweet potatoes, corn, and oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in avocado and toasted pumpkin seeds just before serving.
Divide greens among 4 plates and top with sweet potato salad.

Despite stirring in the avocado and pumpkin seeds just before serving, I think that this salad seems to hold up fairly well for about 2 days. It doesn't age well; the seeds just get soggy and the avocado browns a bit, but it doesn't turn absolutely gross and disgusting either.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Pistachio Cookies

When I walked in the house on Tuesday, I knew that even if I went up to my room, I wouldn't do my homework.

So instead I went into the kitchen, sniffed around, found some pistachios and white chocolate, and set to work on a cookie. I remembered a macadamia butter cookie recipe I'd seen a couple years back in a Cooking Light magazine, and with my soon-departing friend in mind, set off to make a cookie she'd like.

The first batch came out burnt. But it had potential. Great potential. I just needed to be more careful with the oven.

The second batch came out a tad bit overbaked. But this time, you could tell they were good crunchy cookies.

And the third batch, while crispy, proved it was the oven, and not the cookie, that was the problem. So last night, between 5:15 and 6pm, the short window of time which I was in the house, I whipped up another batch (after buying more pistachios and white chocolate) and this time, they were exactly what I was looking for: subtle pistachio flavors, slightly overwhelming white chocolate scattered throughout, and the occasional sweet-tart kick from dried cranberries.

Pistachio-White Chocolate Cookies
makes 2-3 dozen cookies

2/3 cup (4 ounces/113g) unsalted pistachios or pistachio nut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
scant 1 cup (3.5 oz/100 g) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces/170 g white chocolate chips, finely chopped (or chips pulsed in food processor)
1/4 cup (1.5 ounces/40 g) sweetened dried cranberries, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350ºF/180ºC/Gas Mark 4. Line or grease two baking sheets.

In a food processor, process pistachios for 2 minutes or until ground into a paste, unless using purchased nut butter. In a large mixing bowl, combine pistachio butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Beat together until combined. Beat in egg and vanilla extract until smooth and evenly combined.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir into wet mixture. Mixture will be thick. Stir in white chocolate and dried cranberries until just evenly dispersed.

Drop tablespoonfuls of dough onto prepared baking sheet, two inches apart. Flatten with a fork in criss cross patterns or the bottom of a greased glass.
Bake for about 9 minutes, or until edges are golden. Let cool 1 minute.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Four-Day Weekend Blondies


It's like a Friday afternoon. Only better, because it's three fifteen and I've been home for FOUR hours. Granted, my mom thinks I should be medicated and on the couch knocked out by Nyquil, but I'm full of energy. Sniffly, yes, but energetic. And with hands that have been washed far too many times today.

But that's what let's me bake. Well, I guess not exactly, but it's how I keep from worrying about killing anyone. Or at least giving them a cold. If I feel a sneeze coming, I run out of the kitchen. So far, this plan is working. I hope.

Today I baked with levkar for the first time. And the brownies turned out surprisingly moist, not unlike butter-laden brownies.

But this is not that recipe. Oh no, far from it. This is a recipe that I think Paula Deen might approve of. Actually, probably not, because it only has one stick of butter, and no nuts. And there are dried kumquats! The kumquats are optional, because I'm not sure where you would find them, other than crazy shops in Chinatown with a variety of dried/preserved fruits to sample and choose from. There were at least three kinds of kumquats, varying in salty sweet tartness. I'm sure dried apricots could be nice, though the recipe didn't originally have any dried fruit, it was just a suggestion at the end of the recipe for modifications (which also included crystallized ginger, adding extracts, nuts, etc.)

Time on my four-day weekend is ticking away, so I think I'll cut to the chase:

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Blondies (with kumquats!)
Adapted from Cream Cheese Blondies in Bruce Weinstein's The Ultimate Brownie Book, p.124
makes 24 2x2" blondies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temp
1 large egg yolk, at room temp
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped (about 1 cup)
4 ounces dried kumquats, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 9x13 inch pan with foil (optional) and butter. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, cream cheese, granulated sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed (or, I'd recommend a stand mixer, my hand mixer wheezed a bit at the beginning) until the sugars have dissolved and the mixture is smooth and thick, about 4 minutes, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. (Weinstein recommends 8, but 4 seemed to be fine.)
Add the eggs one at a time, allowing the first to be incorporated before adding the second. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla.

With a spoon or spatula, stir in the chocolate chips and chopped kumquats (if using). Stir in flour mixture until just incorporated. Spoon batter into prepared pan, spreading gently to corners.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the top is light brown and toothpick or tester comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Set the pan on a rack to cool for at least 30 minutes.

Cut blondies into 24 pieces. Serve immediately or let cool completely before storing. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A Winter Break Adventure


What? You say that doesn't look like a winter adventure?

And I'll be honest, there is nothing adventurous about rice krispy treats dipped in chocolate and sprinkles, or even making them. But the adventure is what led me to even consider making them, inspired by what I saw in the dessert case at Foodlife.
I'm sure dipped rice crispy treats on sticks are common. I'd just never seen one before, and it seemed like a neat concept. Other than the jaw pain I endured today trying to eat one straight out of the fridge (please, learn from my mistakes.)

I realize I still sound like a bore. But foodlife was not a part of the plan at all. It was merely that my friends and I decided we wanted to go ice skating, so I suggested we make it even cooler since the weather was warm (yes, 40 degrees is warm) we go ice skating in Millenium Park. Two hours later, we were on our way there. And pleasantly surprised to see that it wasn't too crowded.

And then there was a slight problem. An hour-and-a-half long problem that is. At 6:30 at night, ice skating is popular. There was a long line that we somehow failed to notice, attributing to onlookers or just ignoring. So ice skating was postponed.

The next day, arriving half an hour before the rink opened proved to be a much quicker solution. And three hours later we were off the ice and ready for lunch. Which is when I saw the rice crispy treats on a stick dipped in chocolate and then dipped in coconut. Mmm...

Neither my friend nor I were hungry enough for dessert, so when I got home, after making a nice fish dinner that, in order to be cooked perfectly, was eaten cold, made my version of the treats, sans sticks. I ran out of coconut, but it is my favorite of the toppings I used.

Dipped Rice Crispy Squares
makes 36

1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 oz) butter
1 (10.5 ounce) bag marshmallows
6 cups cripy rice cereal (Rice Krispies)
6 ounces milk chocolate (or semi-sweet)
1 to 2 cups assorted things to dip (shredded coconut, chopped nuts, sprinkles, etc.)

Line or grease a 9x9 square pan.
Melt butter in a heavy pan over medium heat. Stir in marshmallows, stirring until melted. Remove from heat and stir in cereal. Press into prepared pan and chill for 30 minutes.

Cut into squares (6x6, or other size). Melt chocolate, either over simmering water on the stove, or in the microwave on medium in 30 second increments until melted. Dip squares into chocolate and then coconut. Set upright on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Repeat for remaining squares.
Chill until set.