I tried these 3 different times… and 3 must be the charm. I liked using a butter cookie recipe as the base. It just tasted better than a sugar cookie recipe. Then, I improvised to get some watermelon shapes that looked like a bite had been taken out. After much searching for the right cookie cutter, I gave up and just used a wavy-edged heart shaped cookie cutter to get that “bite” look. I think it worked, do you? Here they are at the varying stages… .
Just like the world-famous candies! So incredible it’s literally unreal. Why does writing on things with food coloring pens just get me so excited? There must be something therapeutic about filling in a hundred tiny pastel hearts with romantic sayings…who knew? I’m going to take them to my friends at the Minuteman Arc tonight where I volunteer on Monday nights with my Telem group. We’ll come up with some great sayings, write on the cookies and then eat them. Yum!!!
I do believe I’ve done it. The ever elusive perfect chocolate cake has been found. Stop your searches. Stop your cookbook buying and internet scouring. Look no further than the back of the Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder box. I know, I know, I too was so skeptical, but let me tell you, with a bit of tweaking, this is easily the most delicious thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. I use 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter instead of the oil (yick) and use some higher-quality black cocoa to add depth, as well as vanilla and melted chocolate in the batter. Whip up a little ganache til its fluffy, slather it on, and then enjoy.
1 1/2 cups Sugar
1 3/4 cups All Purpose Flour
3/4 cup unsweetened dutch processed cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup strong black coffee (instant OK)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Pre-heat Oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 9″ round baking pans. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix on low until dry ingredients are thoroughly combined. With the mixer on low, add the butter a tablespoon at a time, and mix until incorporated. Add eggs and buttermilk and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add coffee and vanilla and beat until thoroughly incorporated. The batter will be relatively thin. Pour the batter evenly into prepared pans.
3. Bake in pre-heated oven for 30 – 35 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely.
4. Frost as desired.
Fluffy Chocolate Ganache Frosting
Makes 50 Cookies
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 sticks butter, melted
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp peppermint extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp baking soda
2 bags (12 oz each) bittersweet chocolate chips
3 tsp peppermint extract
3 tbsp butter, room temperature
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter and granulated sugar until well combined. Whisk in the vanilla, peppermint extract and chocolate. Add the egg and whisk until thoroughly incorporated
2. In another bowl (or on a flexible mat), sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda
3. Stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. The dough will start to seem too thick to stir and you may find it easiest to switch to mixing it with your hands until it comes together
4. Let the dough sit at room temperature for about 1 hour to firm up
5. Divide the dough in half and transfer each to 2 long pieces of parchment or waxed paper
6. Using your hands, shape each half of dough into logs about 10″ long and 2-½” in diameter
7. Place the logs at the edges of the parchment paper and roll the parchment around, using the parchment to smooth and form the logs
8. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until firm. The logs may settle and sink a bit in the fridge, so re-roll it every 10-15 minutes to maintain a uniform shape. At this point, the dough log can be wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or frozen for later use (for up to a month). If the dough is frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding
Slice & Bake
1. Preheat oven to 325° and situate a rack in the center of the oven
2.Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
3.Cut each dough log into 1/2 inch slices
4.Place the slices about 1″ apart on the prepared baking sheet
5.Bake 15-25 minutes, or until the cookies are firm to the touch. Check them frequently after 16 or 17 minutes, poking them in the middle. As soon as they feel firm to the touch, remove them from the oven
6.Let cool completely
Coat & Cool
1. Melt the chocolate chips over a double-boiler (assuring that the simmering water does not touch the bottom of the bowl)
2. When completely smooth and glossy, shut off heat and stir in the butter and peppermint extract (the residual heat will help the butter to melt)
3. Using two forks, dip each cookie into the chocolate mixture, covering both sides and letting the excess drip off through the tines of the fork. Place on a sheet pan lined with tin foil or parchment paper and refrigerate for at least 25-30 minutes, until set and cold. Enjoy!
Courtesy of www.How2Heroes.com
Recipe for Cherry Pie
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar + extra for sprinkling on top
pinch of salt
1½ sticks of chilled butter, cubed
6-8 tbsp of ice water
1 egg, lightly beaten and mixed with 2 tbsp of water
1 (14.5 oz) can sour cherries
½ tsp sugar
5-6 cups fresh Bing cherries, pitted & halved
4 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
½ tbsp fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup sugar
How-to Make Dough
1. Place flour, salt and sugar into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine
2. Add the chilled cubed butter, pulsing until the butter is the size of small peas. With the processor on, stream in ice water, 1 tbsp at a time, into the butter and flour mixture, until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and forms a rough ball.
3. Turn off the mixer and dump the dough out onto a lightly-floured work surface. Roll the dough into a ball, and wrap with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
1. Preheat oven to 425º
2. Pour sour cherries and their liquid in a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat for 15 minutes, or until a light syrup has formed. Remove from heat and pour mixture through a sieve. Discard the cherries
3. Place cherries, sugar, cornstarch, salt, juices and vanilla in a large mixing bowl, and stir to combine. Add in 3 tbsp of the strained liquid from the sour cherries. Stir to combine
Weave Lattice Top
1. Roll out one half of the pie dough (placing the other half back into the refrigerator to chill) until between Â¼â€ and Â¹â„â‚ˆ â€œ thick. Place dough into pie plate
2. Roll out the other half of the pie dough to same thickness. Using a fluted-edged pastry wheel, slice the circle of dough into 1″ thick strips
3. Place cherry pie filling into the pie crust-lined pie plate, mounding it slightly in the center
4. Lay 4 strips of pastry dough across the filling equidistantly, leaving space in between the strips to let the filling show (if your strips are thinner, you may need 5 strips). Fold back strips 1, and 3 a little bit more than halfway. Lay a strip across the filling at the place where the three strips fold back. Unfold strips 1 and 3 so they are laying straight across the pie, over the new strip. Then, fold back strips 2 and 4 about halfway, and place another strip of dough where those strips fold back, leaving room in between the new strip and the first. Unfold strips 2 and 4 then rotate the plate 180 degrees and follow the same steps on the other side of the pie. (NOTE: This part of the process is actually very easy but much easier to follow if you watch the video)
5. When finished with the lattice, cut all overhang of the dough strips back so only ¾” hangs past the edge of the pie plate. Fold the overhang of dough under itself and crimp the edge of the pie
1. Brush with egg mixture and sprinkle with sugar. Reduce oven temperature to 375º and bake pie for 25-30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned, and the filling is bubbly
What does 1 1/2 feet of snow, 30 mile per hour winds and a school-free Chloe add up to? HOMEMADE OREO TIME. Yes. I confess that I may have gotten a little swept up with the crowd on this one. I mean, who can say no to a good oreo? Hmmm. That should be their new slogan–I’ve always thought that it might be a little legally incorrect to proclaim your product as “Milk’s Favorite Cookie.” Have they ever asked the milk? Injustice I tell you.
Anyway, I, too, love a good chocolate sandwich cookie. This is in no way my first experience with trying to make them. Years back, I had a scarring afternoon with a chocolate sandwich cookie that turned out much too whoopie-pie like. To say the least, I’ve stayed away from the idea for a while now. But when I saw that the blogs were abuzz at about a certain Smitten Kitten’s recipe, I felt it only my duty as an American to try it out too. The dough was incredibly simple and I felt pretty confident going in. Shaking my shoulders out, my eyes whipped back and forth between the lump of dark brown-almost black dough and the parchment lined tray. How to make them crispy? I decided to go for the oh-so-classic roll into a ball and then flatten it out as much as possible method. My brain cringed at the thought of another oversized, soft, overly-sweet filled cookie sandwich. But, I battled on, taking extra time to pound those tiny lumps of dough until impossibly thin and finally I wisked them away to my preheated oven, silently daring them to come out puffy and experience my wrath. After a strict eight and a half minutes, turning once and hyperventilating twice, out they came. In a split second, I grabbed those cookies and threw them on the rack. Crispy, crispy, cripsy I chanted. And oh they were. Crisp, chocolately, and begging for some white, fluffy icing to tie them all together.
I have to admit that I’m really not a homemade icing fan. I know, I know, you’re all cringing out there, but I have to confess that I sort of have a thing for the cans of shortening and sugar icings from my childhood. They just taste so good. You can’t deny me that much. But, this paragraph is not just for griping or to tell you that I took the wimpy way out and cracked open our old Betty Crocker, because I think these chocolate spheres of love deserve more than that. I really don’t like that classic, super-sweet, super-buttery, tried and true vanilla butter cream recipe. It’s good…for the first bite. But then it just becomes sooo sweet and sooo buttery and I just find the cake getting lost in the sauce. On the other hand, I love 7-minute, marshmallowy frostings. They’re a cinch, and just all around incredible. But there always seems to be something missing, a note of complexity absent. So I set out for the first time to create a frosting to stand up to those cripsy, crunchy gourmet Oreo cookies. After all, isn’t the Oreo all about the filling?
Warning: I’m not one to go halfway on things, so as this recipe does take longer than a normal butter cream, I really do think it’s worth it.
I began my quest with a half-batch of classic 7 minute icing. After all, how can you beat 7 minutes? Then, I set that aside and whipped 1/3 of a stick of butter with some powdered sugar and vanilla, the traditional butter cream base. Then, I folded the 7 minute goodness into the overly sweet and dense butter cream. A few minutes of whipping and an extra splash of Madagascar vanilla and I was in heaven. Light, marshmallowy yet buttery and sweet, this icing was just what I was looking for. The only problem with this icing was its slightly loose texture. Normally, Oreos have a stiff, piped filling, but I decided to go ahead and dollop a spoon of my icing into the center of a cookie and top it off with another corresponding hat anyway. After 20 minutes a bit of firming up, I was there. Homemade Oreos, you no longer defeat me.
I spent three weeks this summer at a writing camp at Sewanee outside of Nashville, TN, so now biscuits have become a food very close to my heart. I had them almost every morning for breakfast before camp.
The big question when it comes to these Southern comfort classics is this:
What is better? Fluffy or Flaky?
I had mostly fluffy biscuits in Nashville.So, back in the comfort of my grandmother’s Jersey Shore kitchen, I set out to see which type of biscuit reins supreme. Biscuit wars here we come! The first day I tried making fluffy biscuits. With nothing more that heavy cream, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar, my biscuits were in the oven baking up only 10 minutes after I was hit with the craving. Smothered with clover honey, they were delicious.
But what if I was missing out on something big with the layered, buttery, cholesterol-laden flaky type biscuits. So 2 days later I set out with The Best of America’s Test Kitchen flaky biscuit recipe to see which biscuit was superior. After about an hour (I kid you not) of chilling and rolling and folding and rolling and folding and rolling and cutting and preheating, my biscuits (which very much resembled hockey pucks) went into the oven.
All I was left to do was pray. And threaten. I kept saying, “these better be good, because this is taking an incredibly long time.” I stood guard next to that oven for the full 15 minutes (except for one bathroom break) but even then my thoughts were plagued by the image of hard, flat and burnt biscuits. After the timer dinged, I held my breath and opened the oven door. And, oh, were they beautiful. They rose high and were golden brown and oh so delicately flaky. It was truly unbelievable how perfectly flaky they were. And when I whisked them out of the oven and onto the counter, that long hour of work left my brain and all I could think was it was worth it! I’m a convert.
These are some of the cool things that I’ve tried out making!
So I’ve been doing some cooking for a really cool website called www.How2Heroes.com. They have home cooks (like me!) and then some really famous chefs who show you how easy it is to make just about anything. Lynne is the owner and she’s really nice.Â I’ve learned a ton so far and been able to share some of my best recipes with others.
Last summer I was lucky enough to attend a taping of Ming Tsai’s show, Simply Ming. They tape the whole season of the show in only a few weeks at a kitchen showroom outside of Boston! What a cool experience to see all the hundreds of people who are behind a professional cooking show! Wow! On a whim I decided to make him a chocolate-cherry cake (I know it’s crazy, right?), one of my most favorite recipes that originally comes from an amazing restaurant.