Saturday, July 30, 2011

Spiced Peach Muffins

Every Saturday Dennis and I go to the local farmer’s market in Westfield. It’s nowhere near as big as the one in Union Square but they have a great selection of fruits and vegetables. Once the summer produce is in peak you can find cantaloupes, watermelons, squash, blueberries, tomatoes – basically all of the reasons NJ is called the Garden State!

We picked up a bushel of white peaches (Dennis’s favorite) and I decided to make some muffins with them. This was my first time making peach muffins since I usually stick to the tried and true (blueberry, pumpkin or banana). I took the original recipe from King Arthur’s Flour but made a few changes. I could say it was to make it healthier but it’s really because I didn’t feel like running back out to the store. I subbed in a cup of white whole wheat flour in place of regular flour and also switched out the vegetable oil for applesauce. Do you know this trick? I always use this when making quick breads and muffins. If you don’t want to get a big container of applesauce you can buy one of the six-packs they sell and use the individual containers as need arises.

Dennis said these were “peachy” – isn’t he a riot? He also said they didn’t taste healthy which apparently is a plus in his book.

Spiced Peach Muffins (adapted from King Arthur Flour)

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 egg

6 tablespoons applesauce

5 ounces milk

3 peaches, diced (not peeled)

Combine flour, salt, baking powder, brown sugar, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir in egg, applesauce and milk, then gently stir in fruit. Grease 10 muffin cups, and heap batter into cups; they'll be very full. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake at 400°F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until muffins test done.

Makes 10 muffins.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

I love raw cookie dough. I know you shouldn’t eat it as it can possibly kill you. But after whipping up a batch of cookies I find that my willpower is at an all-time low. I rarely eat the actual cookies that I bake (I’m much more of an ice cream gal) but I always try the batter.

Dennis was out this past Sunday so I was looking for a way to fill my day (besides shopping for shoes, of course – did you know they make Croc sandals? So comfortable.). When I came across this recipe I knew I had found it. Brownies + cookie dough = unbeatable combo. I have a habit of not always reading through recipes before I start them and it wasn’t until I was mixing up the brownie layer that I realized the cookie dough on top actually isn’t baked. But since there’s no egg in the cookie dough it’s a-ok to serve. Not to mention that it’s all topped with a layer of melted chocolate. These are rich, rich brownies. It makes quite a few bars but I don’t think most people would be able to have more than a bite-size piece. But that’s okay – sometimes the best things come in small packages. Or so my parents always told me.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies (from One Ordinary Day)


1 cup butter

3/4 cup cocoa

2 1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

3 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Prepare 13×9″ baking pan by laying a piece of foil in the bottom and up the sides. Spray with cooking spray or butter the foil (this is a great use for the butter wrappers).

Melt 2 sticks of butter in a medium saucepan; add cocoa, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Add sugar, salt, eggs, and vanilla; beat with a spoon until combined. Add flour and baking powder; mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread batter into pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Allow brownies to cool completely before moving on to the next step.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Filling

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

4 Tbsp. milk

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine first 5 ingredients in a mixing bowl and cream together. Add flour and stir until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread in an even layer on top of cooled brownies. Chill before adding chocolate glaze.

Chocolate Glaze:

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 Tbsp. butter

Melt chocolate with butter and stir until smooth. If you don’t want to get another pan dirty you can throw this in the microwave for a few minutes. Just keep an eye on it and stir once it begins to soften. Spread the glaze over the chilled cookie dough layer.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Gooey Chewy Graham Cracker Bars

The temperatures reached about 90 here over the weekend so of course I thought it would be a good idea to make a dessert that can best be described as gooey. Probably not the best idea I’ve ever had. But I’ve never been the sort of person who’s big on common sense. That can refer to my baking or maybe just the way I live my life in general…Anyway, on to the recipe!

This recipe requires a whole box of graham crackers. In fact I even was a little short of the amount that the recipe called for but I only had one box of graham crackers so I just assumed it would be okay. It’s never a good idea to approximate measurements when it comes to baking but sometimes you just have to live on the edge.

Again, making these on a blazing hot day wasn’t a great idea as they started to fall apart when I tried to cut them. I popped the tray in the fridge and that helped a bit with firming them up. I think next time I would bake them for a bit longer just to make sure that the center set. Whatever. These are delicious – buttery, gooey, chocolaty goodness. They won’t win any awards for beauty but they make up for it in taste.

Gooey Chewy Graham Cracker Bars (Adapted from "Celebrating With Julienne"/Culinary in the Desert)

For the crust

3 cups graham cracker crumbs
12 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the topping

2 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
4 large eggs
2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare the crust

In a large mixing bowl, beat together graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar, flour and salt until thoroughly combined. Scoop mixture into a 9" x 13" baking pan coated with nonstick spray - evenly press down to form a level crust over the bottom. Place pan into the oven and bake until the crust is lightly golden, about 10 to 15 minutes.

To prepare the topping

In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and eggs until combined. Whisk in graham cracker crumbs, vanilla, salt and baking powder. Stir in chocolate chips. Scoop mixture over the crust and spread to cover completely. Place pan back into the oven and bake until the filling is very golden on top and jiggles very slightly when tapped, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and place pan on a wire rack to cool completely before cutting into bars.

Makes about 24 bars.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sometimes I bake depending on what I have available in the kitchen or what I’d like to try out. But more often than not I ask Dennis what he’s in the mood for and go from there. He made it easy for me this week by requesting a simple chocolate chip cookie. I have a go-to recipe but I’m always looking to improve upon perfection. My only requirement is that the cookies are soft – that’s the way we both prefer them. One of my favorite cooking blogs offered up her take on Chocolate Chip Cookies and since she’s never steered me wrong it seemed like the perfect recipe to try out.

These were a big, big hit. Dennis referred to them as “chewy, chocolaty and fabulous.” I don’t think it gets much better than that.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Smitten Kitchen)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325°. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper or Silpat.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.

Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.

Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough by the spoonful onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.