Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Every one loves chocolate chip cookies. It’s a fact.

For many years I was like the majority of the world and only knew chocolate chip cookies according to Nestle Tollhouse’s recipe. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I crave that flash back to my childhood, but they’re really just not the best cookie out there.

When you turn to the internet, or if you’re cool to your cookbooks, you’ll find a thousand different variations on the same cookie. Honestly, it’s a little overwhelming.

Last year I found my favorite chocolate chip cookies which is different from that classic childhood cookie. These are rich with flavor, melty chocolate chunks inside, and fleur de sel on top. The luxury chocolate chip cookie. But these guys take some time to make, and sometimes you just need cookies – now.

So I tested out a soft and chewy classic chocolate chip recipe brought to you by none other than Martha herself. These cookies took 15 minutes, at the most, to whip together, and then another 9 in the oven.

Twenty-four minutes to homemade chocolate chip cookies. Why would you ever by the store bought stuff?

I know it’s crazy, but I got this awesome paddle attachment at Christmas from the man but I this is the first time using it. It’s fantastic! No more scrapping down the sides of the bowl every 30 seconds. What a nice little perk.

Delicious.

Fresh out of the oven…

It’s good to be back in the baking game.

Chewy Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

In my mind, it is still July. So it came as a huge surprise the other day when there was a whole section in the grocery store dedicated to Halloween candy. I tried to resist, I really did… but I was sucked in and ended up buying a bunch of peanut butter cups.

As I unwrapped 16 individually wrapped peanut butter cups, my inner environmentalist was crying a little bit. So. Much. Trash!  I try to justify all of that waste by the fact that I buy my flour and sugars in bulk…and that these cookies are pretty delicious.

Peanut butter cookies are already pretty addictive on their own, but adding in the peanut butter cups adds a new texture and makes this a total game changer.

I packed some of these up in a little zip lock bag and headed off to the first UCLA home game of the season against Nebraska! After being raised a Trojan fan all my life, that was my first day where I rooted for UCLA, intentionally. Sorry Dad!

 

Sidenote: I’m all moved into my new place and bought some butter and eggs, stay tuned for some interesting posts on baking in a tiny kitchen 🙂

Love,

M

Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Treats

I like making people happy with desserts, if you haven’t figured that out already. Friends, family, co workers, strangers – it doesn’t matter. Nothing makes me happier than hearing the “mmmms” and seeing the grins on their faces after eating a cooking/cupcake/other sugar laced deliciousness.

Sometimes it feels good to make the furry friends happy too, like these guys!

And they even let me share some with this little cutie & a few other friends.

Seriously, those puppy dog eyes are too precious.

I was at Sur La Table the other day wanting to buy everything in site, as usual, and saw this adorable little fire hydrant cookie cutter! I figured making fire hydrant sugar cookies without being friends/knowing a fire fighter seemed kind of strange, so dog treats it was!

Also, I feel kind of bad for the little guys who sit by my feet as I bake, hoping that I will drop scraps of deliciousness on the floor for them. Usually I do, but unfortunately for them I make a lot of chocolate things so you’ll generally find me yelling “DON’T EAT THAT!” and dodging to grab it before they slurp it up. So here you go my little pups, homemade peanut butter doggy treats!

Oh, and did I mention that they’re made with whole wheat flour? Healthier than the cookies I make for humans, I know, crazy. I’m not going to lie, I tried a tiny bit of these cookies. I mean come on, I had to…right? Note to future self: Don’t try dog treats. They’re not yummy for humans, but the dogs sure did like them! 🙂

Enjoy,

Madeline & los perros

 

Cupcake Troubleshooting!

We have all had our share of cupcake disasters. The batter looks amazing, but when you take them out of the oven the only thing to be found is a sunken, goey mess of a fail. I’m here to go through some problems, find out why it happened, and give you guys some solutions!

Problem #1: My cake didn’t rise!

Cause: Your leavening agent did not work, probably because it is expired.

Solution: Buy new baking powder/baking soda. To test and see if your baking powder/soda is still good, drop a tsp of it into warm water. If it does not react (bubble/sizzle), it has gone bad.

Problem #2: My cake came out lopsided! What?

Cause: Uneven heating or flour not fully incorporated.

Solution: A lot of ovens run hotter or cooler than the indicated temperature. I keep an oven thermometer on the center rack in my oven, that way I have a more accurate reading. Also, make sure your batter is mixed together completely. When the flour isn’t dispersed evenly it can cause issues.

Problem #3: My cake looks beautiful, but the bottom of it is burned!

Cause: Baking pan too thin or dark, or poor placement of pan in the oven.

Solution: Use good quality bakeware. Some darker pans can have this issue, in this case decreasing the oven temperature can help. Make sure you check the oven during baking .

Problem #4: The tops of my cupcakes are burning before the rest of the cake is cooked!

Cause: The oven is probably too hot.

Solution: Keep an oven thermometer on the shelf your baking on in your oven to make sure it is the accurate temperature. Try reducing the oven temperature by 25 degrees.

Problem #5: The fruit in my batter sinks to the bottom!

Cause: The fruit was not dusted with flour 

Solution: Dusting the fruit with flour before adding into the batter helps prevent it from sinking into the batter.

Problem #6 : My cupcakes are overflowing out of the cupcake pan!

Cause: Too much batter in the pan or there is too much leavening agent.

Solution: Most recipes say fill the pan about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Never fill it up to the top! It needs room to grow, like a little plant 🙂 . If you made sure the pan was only filled about 2/3 – 3/4 full, then there might be too much baking powder/baking soda in the batter.

I hope this helps you guys with some of your baking mishaps for the future! Feel free to share your tips and advice on baking in the comments below 🙂

Madeline

National Peanut Butter Day!

If you haven’t already heard, today is National Peanut Butter Day! In honor of such a glorious day, I thought I’d round up some of my favorite recipes using such a gloriously creamy spread. Maybe you’ll celebrate by grabbing a spoon and eating a nice spoonful of peanut butter straight off the spoon. Maybe you’ll be adventurous and add some chocolate chips to it. Or maybe you’ll be so crazy and bake something! In that case, here are some of the recipes I have made, and some that I have bookmarked because I’m dying to make them.

Chocolate Cupcakes with a Peanut Butter Frosting

This is one of my favorite cupcakes now. The frosting really is the perfect compliment to the rich chocolate cake.

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies with a Milk Chocolate Filling

Mini little peanut butter and chocolate sandwich cookies! Seriously, these disappeared so fast there weren’t any left to take pictures later on. They’re quite addictive too, so beware!

Tagalongs — The Novice Chef 

Source: Novice Chef Blog

Tagalongs are my absolute FAVORITE Girl Scout cookie. Every year I buy about 6 boxes and hide them from myself so I can savor them, otherwise I will literally eat a box a day until they’re gone and I’m licking the packaging. Finding this recipe on Jessica’s blog was like a dream come true! Tagalongs year round? Uhh, yes please.

Peanut Butter Mini Cheesecake — Bake or Break

Source: Bake or Break

Do I even need to say anything about this picture? I don’t think so either.

Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Donuts — Stan’s Donuts, Westwood Village, CA.

Lastly, if you’re on the Westside (Los Angeles Westside that is) you should take a detour and stop into Stan’s Donuts and get a Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Donut. If you don’t have time to bake something up yourself, this really is the ultimate PB Celebration in your mouth.

Go enjoy some Peanut Butter!

Madeline

#60 Toffee Chocolate Cupcakes

I swear I think I used about 7 lbs of butter the past 2 weeks. It has reached the point where when I am at the store, I cruise by the butter section and just grab an extra pound because hey why not, right?

After Christmas I needed a few days to recuperate after the days of eating dense, chocolate, amazing, delicious desserts. It was just too much! It was like that Groundhog Day movie every morning: afternoon in kitchen, huge dinner, amazing dessert, pat your stomach like you have a chocolate food baby growing in there, sleep, repeat.

Finally after a few days I started to feel withdrawals from not baking, but still not craving anything special. I had to make something for New Years Eve, I knew it would be wrong if I didn’t. I book marked this recipe from Annie’s website a while back, and every time I go through my bookmarked recipes/cookbooks to decide on what I want to make, the picture of these cupcakes makes me drool.

These. Were. So. Good!

I’ve been on a cupcake break recently just because there wasn’t enough texture going on for me, my mouth felt bored…does that make sense? You know what I mean. This cupcake wins in the taste and the texture category.

Details: chocolate cake with espresso undertones in it (amazing), then it is dipped in a ganache and rolled in toffee (I used left over toffee from my English Toffee Recipe but you can use toffee from the store too) and topped with this ridiculous Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Ahhhhh….delicious

The one thing I did change from the recipe on Annie’s site was that I didn’t add the caramel sauce to the frosting. I tried the frosting right before adding the caramel sauce and it was already very sweet on its own and I didn’t want it to be too overwhelming. I think it turned out perfectly this way, but if you want to give the caramel sauce a try go ahead!

Environmental Side Note: I bought these environmentally friendly cupcake liners by If You Care (what a cute name for a company) a month or so back and finally had a chance to try them out! As many of you know, I’m a big supporter of being responsible in taking care of our environment. I understand that we all can’t be perfect and compost everything and be zero waste, but the little things do count!

These cupcake liners are unbleached, biodegradable, and safe for our landfills and compost bins. Even the packaging for the product is made from recycled cardboard, and uses vegetable based inks for the writing.  All in all, its a great product and environment friendly, which makes me very happy, and it does its job for my cupcakes. And hey, I think they’re cute. I’m into really simple stuff, sometimes those cupcake liners are just nuts with designs that just bake away in the oven. Go try them out for yourself 🙂

Happy New Year! 2012, lets do something exciting!

Enjoy,

Madeline

#58 Gingerbread Men 2011

It seems like for the past 5 years I have been on the search for the perfect Gingerbread men recipe. The first year that my friend and I made Gingerbread men it was hardly a gingerbread cookie, but more of a sugar cookie with some spices thrown in – and it was amazing. Neither of us really had the palate for gingerbread frankly, it was just too strong. Over the years, we have tried new recipes and havent been huge fans, until this year.

I think it was a may have been that my tastes changed to now enjoy deep, strong flavored foods (like my new affinity for dark chocolate which I could never get myself to like before) but this year these were full on Gingerbread cookies, and I really liked them!

 

Oh no! Not my arm!!

Mom trying the Gingerbread Men

I got into the spirit this year with personalization of the packaging for the food that I made. I put a label on the lid of my Caramel Sauce, and figured I should keep it up with my Gingerbread Men too. Normally we just put them in little baggies and tie it with a string. This year I got crafty and made my own bag toppers! I think they turned out absolutely amazing 🙂

Kitchen demolished!

I hope you all have an amazing Christmas & Hanukkah with your families. Love you all

Enjoy,

Madeline

#42 Sticky Buns

For my birthday my two amazing friends/coworkers got me two classes to this adorable little cooking school in Santa Monica called The Gourmandise  School. It is run by these two young and passionate woman who teach classes in things such as Cupcakes, Rustic French Desserts, and Vegetarian cooking. With such a wide variety of classes, I wanted to try something that I have never done before so I found this class in Cinnamon Rolls and Sticky Buns.For me, Cinnamon Rolls always sounded intimidating because I’ve never worked with dough that has active yeast that required proofing.

Gourmandise Kitchen

Their classes are small, about 20 or so people, and for this class we buddied up and worked together at a mixer to make a basic dough. After we mixed the dough together,  we let them rise and then split the dough in half so we both could make our own variations of the cinnamon rolls. I made two different types: traditional cinnamon rolls (with some chocolate chips in it) with a cream cheese frosting and sticky buns, which has the same dough as cinnamon rolls, except the filling is a brown sugar/spice mixture which are then baked with a maple pecan syrup on top.

Maple Pecan Sticky Buns

Rolling out the dough

All of those little sushi looking rolls cut into pieces are actually my first roll of Cinnamon Rolls that I made. Key to cinnamon rolls is not loading them up too much on filling, and rolling them up just tight enough so that the layers can breathe. After you roll them up, turn them on their butts and stick them in a pan smaller than the one you will be seeing below. When you bake them closer together they become more like a pull apart sticky buns instead of flopping over ones…like mine kind of turned out.

Sticky Buns with a Maple Pecan Glaze

If you decide that you want to take on the challenge of making Cinnamon Rolls or Sticky Buns for your friends/family for breakfast one fine weekend, I give you this tip. Do all of the prep and dough making for this ahead of time, even multiple days/week ahead of time if you want.

Sticky Buns

When I say that these are a “challenge” to make, the challenge is really the waiting. Since there is yeast in the dough you have to wait for it to rise, and then you have to proof it once you’ve put the cinnamon rolls together. What was suggested is that you do all of the steps, right up until you would proof the cinnamon rolls before baking. At this point, you put them into the freezer where the proofing process is put on hold because of the cold temperature. Then, when Sunday morning comes around, all you have to do is get up about 2 hours before you want to make them, set them out on the counter and let them proof for about an hour and a half, then pop them in the oven!

Other than that, Cinnamon Rolls/Sticky Buns really are not that difficult to make at all, and can lead to a lot of different creative variations. I encourage you to give it a try and impress your friends. Cinnabon is amazing and all, but not quite as awesome as making your own sans the 500 different types of preservatives and partially hydrogenated what-nots.

If you live in the LA area and are looking for a little kitchen inspiration, I highly recommend signing up for a class here. It’s a fun and friendly atmosphere that caters to the kitchen novice that doesn’t know how to turn a mixer on, but also to someone like me who has been around kitchen appliance for a while. You meet some nice people and eat some great food, that you made!

Sticky Buns

Printable Version of Recipe Here

Basic Yeast Dough:

3 eggs                                                         ¾ cup buttermilk

2 tbsps heavy cream                                ¼ cup sugar

1 tsp salt                                                     1 pouch yeast

4 cups flour                                                6 tbsps (3/4 stick) butter, melted

1) Place the eggs and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until the eggs come together (when the yolks and whites are unified).  Whisk in buttermilk.

2) Switch to the paddle attachment and add heavy cream, butter, sugar, salt and yeast and mix with paddle until combined.

3) Add 2 cups of flour and mix until just combined. Add the remaining flour and mix for 5 minutes. Take the dough out and kneed it a few times by hand to make sure it is nicely combined.

4) Spread a thin coat (a few drops) of oil in a large bowl and place the dough inside.

5) Wrap the bowl in plastic and place in a warm area.  Let the dough double in size, about 2 hours.

6) Coat your rolling surface with a thin coat of flour.  Roll out the dough in a 18×14” rectangle.

7) Spread desired filling on the dough, leaving a little less than an inch up top to seal.

8) Roll up the dough from bottom to top and seal on top by pinching the seam.

9) Cut rolls in desired thickness with a sharp knife or scissors and place at least 1” apart in baking pan.

(If you are making this ahead of time, this is the part where you would stop and put it in the freezer. Then continue these instructions when you take them out of the freezer.)

10) Wrap baking pan in plastic and let rise for another 1 ½ hours.

11) Bake at 350 until puffy and golden around the edges.

12) Top with desired glaze 10 minutes after removing buns from the oven.

Glaze for Sticky Buns:

1 ½ sticks butter                                    1 1/4 cups brown sugar

½ cup heavy cream                              ¼ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla                                               ¼ cup maple syrup

½ cup chopped pecans

1) Place all ingredients in a saucepot.  Cook over medium heat until very warm, but do not boil.

2) Pour 2/3 of the glaze on the bottom of the pan and on top of sticky buns. Place the pecans on top of sticky buns.  Reserve the remainder of the glaze to pour over the buns once they are baked.

Filling for Sticky Buns:

¾ cup brown sugar                              1 tbsps melted butter

1 tsp cinnamon                                      1 tsp ginger

pinch of salt

1) Melt the butter.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix with a fork.

2) Spread the filling over the dough and roll up as directed.

 

Source: The Gourmandise School. Santa Monica, CA

 

 

Just check it out 🙂

www.thegourmandiseschool.com
Located in the Santa Monica Place Mall
Level 3 : The Market

 

Enjoy!

Madeline

#29 S’mores Pudding

This week was my birthday! Hip, Hip, Horray! I got an iPhone for my Birthday! 🙂

I went into Hollywood with Stephen and we saw this Top Chef demonstration. The way it was advertised on the Bravo website was that it was a Quick Fire challenge with past Top Chef contestants, Antonia and Jamie (blonde with tattoos). Sadly, it didn’t turn out to be so much of an intense time race, as it was them leisurely cooking and not trying very hard. It was fun to see them, but incredibly disappointing. We went to Umami Burger for lunch – so good. If you’re near Amoeba in Hollywood, you should definitely go get a burger.

Every few years my birthday falls on Father’s Day, and that’s always “fun”. I’m generally good with sharing, except not with birthdays. Luckily, this year there was a 2 day difference.

Roped into a picture with the weird street performers. What is he supposed to be? Zorro?

For Father’s Day, I decided to make these S’mores Pudding cups. I must say, these were so much fun to make, mainly because of the blow torch I used. Yes, I just said blow torch. This thing has been sitting on the top shelf in my kitchen for years and I have never used it! Coolest kitchen tool ever.

Layer the pudding and the graham cracker. I didn't have any glasses that were smaller than this, but I would highly suggest smaller servings

Heat up the marshmallow topping over simmering water

This picture is totally unnecessary but I just love my mixer and I thought I would share the love.

Finished!

Serve on a fun platter. Don't forget the Lactaid for the Lactose Intollerant people

Lastly, to finish this off I must show you just how amazing this blow torch is.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-9eOCJcpRQ]

I hope you all had a nice Father’s Day with your families. You should definitely give this one a try. Who doesnt love s’mores! 🙂

S’mores Puddings

Yield: 6 puddings

Ingredients:

For the graham cracker layer:

4½ whole graham crackers (5 x 2½ inch rectangles), coarsely crumbled

2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

1 tbsp. sugar

Dash of ground cinnamon

For the chocolate pudding:

1 cup sugar

3 tbsp. cornstarch

2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. espresso powder (optional)

Pinch of salt

3 large egg yolks

2 cups whole milk

½ cup heavy cream

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 tbsp. whiskey (optional)

1 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the marshmallow topping:

2 large egg whites

1 cup sugar

¼ cup water

2 tbsp. light corn syrup

1¼ tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 300˚ F.  Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.  To make the graham cracker layer, combine the crumbled graham crackers, butter, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Toss with a fork to blend.  Spread the mixture in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake until crisp, stirring once during baking, about 10 minutes.

To make the pudding, combine the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, espresso powder and salt in a medium saucepan.  Add the egg yolks and whisk to blend.  Gradually whisk in the milk and the cream.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil.  Allow to boil for 30 seconds.  Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate, whiskey, butter and vanilla; whisk until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and the mixture is smooth.  Let the pudding cool slightly, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Spoon 1/3 cup of the pudding into each of 6 serving dishes.  Sprinkle each with some of the graham cracker mixture, dividing evenly between the dishes.  Top each with 1/3 cup more of the pudding mixture.  Cover each with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding.  Chill for at least two hours.

 

To make the marshmallow mixture, combine all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and heat, whisking frequently, until an instant-read thermometer registers 160˚ F.  Return the bowl to the mixer fitting with the whisk attachment and whip on high speed until the marshmallow mixture forms stiff peaks.  Spoon or pipe the marshmallow mixture over the top of the chilled puddings.  Use a kitchen torch to lightly brown the marshmallow topping.  Garnish with additional crumbled graham crackers, if desired.

 

 

Printer Friendly Recipe Here

Enjoy!

Madeline

#23 English Cream Scones

Today is a special post done by Miss Torey Kromnick in honor of Mothers Day. I tried to remake that Vanilla Bean Caramel that I made a few months ago, but of course it didn’t turn out again! I’m going to need to call on the sister in law or take a candy making class or something because this is just getting depressing! I guess that just means I’m going to need to make some ice cream to go with the Caramel Sauce. 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day to you all. I hope you are all spending it with your mommies. My mommy is in Germany right now so sadly I don’t get to spend it with her.

My Mom and I with our first mixer

For Torey’s Mom, she has an entire brunch planned and part of it was to make these scones. Her oven wasn’t working so she eneded up at my place, which I of course didn’t mind because that meant scones for Maddy!

Personally, I have never heard of Currants, which are those little specs in these scones. So when she was baking I kept looking at the dough thinking that it was this big chocolate chip yummy dough. Such a tease. But I must say, I was very pleasantly surprised, not that I doubted Torey’s baking skills at all, it was more of the Currants that I was doubting. They’re fabulous warm with a little butter on it. Mmmm I know her Momma is going to be happy tomorrow morning 🙂

Sectioning off the dough

Torey testing the Caramel sauce

Our little scones

Scones!

They were delicious

 

Torey very graciously offered to give the recipe for these scones!

English Cream Scones

Ingredients:

1 cup of Buttermilk

1 Egg

2 tbs Sugar

3 1/2 cups Flour

2 tsp Baking Powder

1 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 cup melted butter

1/3 cup Currants (You find these next to the raisins)

Insturctions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk buttermilk, egg, and sugar. In a seperate bowl, combine 3 cups of flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add 2/3 of the dry mix to the wet mix. (Switch to a wooden spoon. It will get stuck in the whisk) Add melted butter, and mix througougly. Stir in remaining flour and currants. Knead dough for several minutes, using the last 1/2 cup of flour. Seperate dough into 3 parts. Shape each part into a thick circle, (ours were aprox 1 inch thick, but possibly too small). Cut circles into quarters and arrange on cookie sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden brown. (For my oven it was more towards 15 minutes, also because ours were probably a little smaller than what they should have been)

Our recipe made about 30 mini scones. Serve warm with butter or fruit preserves.

Happy Mommas Day!

Madeline & Torey