Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lime Meltaways

These cookies are a breeze to throw together, and they turn out wonderfully crisp and delicious. They are great for tea-time, or for a cookie exchange because they are so cute, and fun to eat.

I also love these cookies because you can freeze the logs, and have them ready to go when you need a last-minute goody. You can slice and bake as many or as few as you want. So handy, and so scrumptious!

Lime Meltaways
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes about 10 dozen

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar, divided
Grated zest of 2 limes
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour (or Soft White wheat flour)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and 1/3 cup sugar until fluffy in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Add lime zest, juice, and vanilla. Beat until fluffy.

Whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl. Add to creamed mixture. Beat on low until combined.

Roll dough into two logs between parchment paper, making each log 1 1/4 inch in diameter chill for at least 1 hour. (At this point the logs can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place remaining 2/3 cup sugar in zip-top bag and set aside. Remove parchment paper from logs, and slice logs into 1/8-inch thick rounds. Place on parchment lined baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch space between.

Bake cookies about 15 minutes, or until lightly golden. Transfer to wire rack and allow to cool slightly (about 8-10 minutes). While cookies are still warm toss in sugar-filled bag to coat lightly. Allow to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Chocolate Cake with Buttercream Frosting

I made this cake for my little sister's birthday. She only has a mild obsession with shoes...

The unique thing about this cake recipe is the way in which you mix it. Rather than creaming the butter and sugar, then adding the wet and dry ingredients alternately, you first mix the dry ingredients with the butter, then add the wet ingredients in timed stages. It is called a "high ratio" cake. Following the mixing times closely is important to the end result of the cake.

The frosting is just my standard "go-to" recipe for buttercream. You can substitute any type of extract you like, to change up the flavor. In this particular cake, I used coconut extract (at the request of the birthday girl), but feel free to use whatever you're in the mood for.

High Ratio Chocolate Butter Cake
Adapted from Not So Humble Pie
Makes two tall 8" or 9" cakes or one 13x9 cake

2 3/4 cups (318g) cake flour (can sub all-purpose) (or 13 oz Soft White wheat flour)
3/4 cups (62g) dutch processed cocoa (I used "natural" processed)
2 cups (400g) sugar (or honey sucanat)
1 tablespoon (17g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) (226g) unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk, divided
4 large eggs (200g)
2 large egg whites (56g)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

(If using two 8" or 9" pans, you will need them to have 3-in high sides, otherwise the cake will rise over the top. Feel free to use 3 or 4 of the shorter sided pans instead. Or you can opt for a 13x9 cake, or cupcakes)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Greese cake pan(s) and line with parchment paper.

Lightly beat eggs, egg whites, vanilla, and half of milk in a bowl. Mix until incorporated. Set aside

In stand mixer bowl, sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt together. (Note: If using the wheat flour, sifting may remove the bran. You can just dump the bran back in after sifting, or just sift everything but the flour, and stir it in afterward.)

Equip your mixer with whisk attachment. Add butter and remaining milk. Beat on medium speed until smooth (about 4 minutes), scraping bowl as needed.

The mixture may start out rough looking, then turn thick and paste-like. After beating, add one-third of the egg mixture and mix on medium for two minutes. Add another third and beat for two minutes on medium (the mixture will start to increase in volume). Add last third of the egg mixture, and beat for two minutes on medium speed.

Pour batter into pan(s) and level it out smooth. Bake for about 40 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back slightly when touched in the center. If it feels under-baked after touching, add 5 minutes.

Once baked, remove from oven and cool completely in pan(s) on wire wrack. (The cake should pull away from he sides of the pan as it cools, but if it doesn't, just run a knife around the edges to release). After cake is cooled, remove from pan(s) and peel parchment paper off.

Once ready to frost, level top of cake and spread with frosting.

Buttercream Frosting
Adapted from Wilton
Makes about 3 cups

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (about 1 lb.)
Pinch of salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Add confectioners' sugar gradually. After all the sugar is added, beat for 1 minute. Scrape bowl as needed. Once mixed, if frosting appears dry, add 1-2 tablespoons of milk.

For whipped frosting: After frosting is mixed, switch to whisk attachment and beat for 1 minute on medium.

Frosting can be stored for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Just rewhip slightly before using.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Maple Pot de Crème

As you may be able to guess, "Pot de Creme" just means "pot of cream" in French, and is basically just cooked custard, served in individual ramekins.

This recipe is super simple to throw together, and tastes amazing! You've gotta love the easy recipes that turn out incredibly yummy. These cute little single servings are not small on flavor, presentation, or calories...

Maple Pot de Crème

Adapted from 17 and Baking
Makes 4 servings

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place four ungreased ramekins in a baking dish with high sides. Preheat your oven to 300º F.

In a small saucepan combine the cream, maple syrup, and salt. Heat mixture until it reaches a simmer. Whisk together the egg yolks and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add some of the hot cream mixture, about a tablespoon at a time, to the egg yolks, using a small ladle. Once you have added enough cream to warm the egg yolks, whisk mixture into the cream left in the saucepan. Once combined, strain through a fine sieve.

Evenly distribute the mixture between the four ramekins. Being careful not to get water in the ramekins, pour enough hot water into the baking dish to come about 3/4 of the way up the outsides of the ramekins. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until the edges are set, but the center still jiggles slightly when shook. Once cooked, remove ramekins from water bath, and allow to cool to room temperature. You can either eat them at room temperature, or cover and chill in the refrigerator until cold. They are delicious both ways. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Peanut butter lovers, this one is for you! Two crisp cookies, sandwiched together with a creamy filling...yum!These can be enjoyed at room temperature, or you can throw them in the freezer after they have been baked and filled, and enjoy them that way. Both ways are good! (I also think these would be delicious dipped half-way in chocolate!)
Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Adapted from Martha Stewart via Not So Humble Pie
Makes about three dozen sandwiches

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting (or 10 oz Soft White wheat flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature but still firm
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar (or honey sucanat)
1/2 cup light brown sugar (or honey sucanat)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Peanut Butter Cream:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature but still firm
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons heavy cream (optional) (I omitted)

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Beat butter, peanut butter, and sugars in bowl of an electric mixer using paddle attachment, or using a hand mixer. Beat for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Turn mixer to low and add vanilla and egg. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continuing on low speed, add flour mixture. Mix until combined (1 minute).

Separate the dough into two portions, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Flatten into disks. Chill at least one hour or overnight.

After your dough is chilled, preheat oven to 325ºF. Roll out one of the dough disks on a well floured surface. Cut into desired shapes using cookie cutter. Place cookies on pans lined with parchment paper, or silicone baking mats. If dough becomes too soft while being re-rolled, wrap it back in plastic and place in freezer to reharden, and roll out the other disk of dough.

Once cookies have been trayed, you can place trays in freezer until cookies are hard to help them hold their shape better while baking. (This is optional).

Bake cookies until crisp, about 20 minutes.

Allow cookies to cool completely on a wire wrack before filling them.

For the filling:

Combine butter, peanut butter, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, (or using a hand mixer). Beat on medium until filling is uniform and fluffy. If filling seems too dense, add some cream. ( I didn't feel it needed any).

To make sandwiches, either fill a zip-top bag with filling and squeeze onto cookies, or spread it on using a spatula. Just spread a generous amount of filling on bottom of one cookie, and top with another.

They are now ready to enjoy. You can serve at room temperature, or chilled. (You can just store the cookies in the freeze, and take them out as you need them).

Cookies will keep for 3 days in an air-tight container at room temperature, or 4 weeks in the freezer. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

"Whatever Floats Your Boat" Brownies

Brownies have a special place in my heart. How can something so quick and easy to make be so delectably delicious? The rich, fudgey, and oh-so-chocolaty squares of yumminess are hard to resist. These are no exception.

Would you like one?

Or maybe two?

These brownies are great because there is a ton of room for variety and creativity. The recipe suggests adding things such as chocolate chips (semisweet, white, butterscotch, peanut butter), raisins, chopped maraschino cherries (they would be like chocolate covered cherries!), chopped nuts, M&Ms, Reese's pieces, miniature marshmallows, or whatever else you can dream up! ( I used semisweet chips and chopped pecans...delish!)

"Whatever Floats Your Boat" Brownies

Adapted from
Serves 16

1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sugar (or honey sucanat)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup flour (or 2 1/2 oz. Soft White wheat flour)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups of "whatever floats your boat" (options include: chocolate chips (semisweet, white, butterscotch, peanut butter), raisins, chopped maraschino cherries, chopped nuts, M&M's, Reese's pieces, miniature marshmallows, etc.)


Preheat your oven to 350ºF.

Grease (or line with foil) an 8-in. pan.

Combine melted butter and cocoa in a medium bowl. Stir until the cocoa dissolves.

Add sugar and blend well. Add eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition, until well mixed.

Stir in the flour, salt, and vanilla until flour is incorporated, (do not overmix).

Fold in "whatever floats your boat"!

Pour into pan and spread evenly. Bake for about 25 min.

Do not overbake your brownies or they will be dry. A toothpick inserted should come out with moist crumbs clinging to it, not clean.

Allow to fully cool before cutting into squares.

(You can easily double this recipe by baking in a 9X13 pan and adding 5 min. to the bake time). Enjoy!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Passion-Fruit Lemonade Tea

It is now less than three weeks until the start of Fall. Summer has seemed to go by so quickly! Whereas I am looking forward to harvest-time very much, I'm also hoping to enjoy the last few weeks of summertime to the fullest : )A beautiful hibiscus growing in my grandparent's backyard.

This is a very cool and refreshing way to enjoy what's left of the warm summer days. You can make this into a delicious tea-lemonade combo, or just an iced tea (in case you would like to omit the lemonade concentrate, as it is slightly less than healthy for you, haha!).

Passion-Fruit Lemonade Tea

Adapted from Meemos Kitchen
Makes 2 quarts

3 Tazo Passion Tea bags (or tea of choice)
3 cups water
1 can (12 oz.) frozen lemonade concentrate*

*If you would like to make this an iced tea instead of lemonade, just substitute 1/2 - 3/4 cup of sugar (or honey sucanat) for the concentrate.


In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Remove from heat. Steep tea bags for 5-15 minutes, till desired strength is reached.

Add lemonade concentrate and stir, (or add sugar, adjusting sugar to desired sweetness). Pour tea mixture into a 2 quart pitcher. Add enough water to bring total liquid amount to 2 quarts.

Chill minimum of 2-4 hours. Serve over ice. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Carrot Cake

This recipe is one I got from my uncle, who got it from a co-worker, who got it from their dad, who was somewhat of a carrot cake connoisseur. It is SO YUMMY! Moist cake, creamy frosting, a little crunch from the pecans...absolutely delish!

So, thank you Uncle Tony for sharing this recipe with me, and letting me share it with others. It is a winner!

Its optional to add chopped pecans into the cake. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. It just depends on how I'm feeling that day : )

Carrot Cake

Adapted from "Chris' Carrot Cake"
(Recipe courtesy of my uncle)
Serves about 16

2 cups granulated sugar (or honey sucanat)
2 cups flour, sifted (or 10 oz Soft White wheat flour, unsifted)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups oil
4 eggs, beaten
3 cups (freshly) grated carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350º. Grease and flour a 9X13 pan, or parchment, grease and flour three 9-in. cake pans.

Mix dry ingredients. Add oil and eggs. Blend well. Add carrots and pecans (if using). Blend well. Pour into prepared pans and bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes in the 9X13, or 40 minutes in the 9-in. pans. Allow to cool 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. (If using 9-in. pans, remove parchment paper from bottom of layers while cake is still warm).

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 lb. (16 oz.) confectioner's sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Cream butter and cream cheese. Sift in confectioner's sugar, and add vanilla. Blend well, until nice and smooth. Stir in pecans until incorporated. Frost cooled cake. (I store my cake in the refrigerator, and just let it come to room temp before serving). Enjoy!