Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Ok, I will admit it.  These stuffed cookie bars surprised me.  When  multiple combinations of genre's are mixed into one, I tend to feel the flavors will be overwhelming.  ( I just love to say genre!!)  I saw this recipe and I decided not to make it.  My daughter came through again and made it for the Super Bowl.  I was hooked!  What I think really made it special was that she used semi-sweet chocolate chips.  Don't get me wrong I love, love,love, milk chocolate chips but the semi sweet flavor is just the perfect mix here.  I found this recipe from here on Mels Kitchen Cafe.  Enjoy!

Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

12 Tblspn. butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teas. vanilla extract
2 1/8 cups flour
1/2 teas. salt
1/2 teas. baking soda
2 cups Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teas. vanilla extract

Spray a 13 x 9 pan with cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

     Wisk melted butter and sugars in a large bowl until combined.  Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix well.  Add the flour, salt and baking soda, fold these into the dough until just blended.  Don't over mix.
Fold in the chocolate chips.  Press half the dough onto the bottom of the prepared pan making a thin even layer.
     Mix the filling by combining the cream cheese and pdr. sugar together with a mixer on med. high until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla until well combined.  Spread filling over the cookie dough in pan smooth it to the corners.  Flatten small amounts of remaining dough to 1/4 inch thickness and lay on top of filling.  The top will have places where the filling shows through.  Bake for 30 minutes until light brown. Cool, then chill  in fridge for a couple of hours before cutting into bars.  Store covered in fridge. 

Sooo Cute Cookies!

Gingerbread Cookies

Are these just the cutest cookies ever?  I fell in love with them the minute I saw them here on sweetapolita's blog.  She makes the most amazing sweets if you haven't been there before use the link above to visit now!!    You can get the complete instructions by following the link but this is a picture of mine and some of the small changes that I did that worked for me.  Sweetapolita makes hers very large - an  8 x 11 size.  They are super cute but I wanted my one recipe of dough to go further so I copied and used the template she provides as it is without enlarging it,  (see link) which came out about to be about 6" x 7 1/2".  I used mine to take to children in my church Primary goup to welcome them to a new year of classes.  I also added a toothpick with a flag taped to it in the cookie's hand that said "Welcome to our class!" They loved them.  This would also make a fun birthday party invite or treat to take home. 

I pretty much followed the recipe with a couple of exceptions.  I used regular brown sugar and regular molasses (unsulphered) because I already had those on hand. I also wanted to keep the flavor a little more on the mild side.  She also provides a link to show how to make the royal icing and how to get the right consistancy.  I actually had to add more powdered sugar to get it to a "toothpaste" consistancy.  I used tip #3 for the lines, and tip #199 for the cheeks.  I used Americolor pink for the nose and cheeks, making the nose a little darker with the same color.  I used Skittles for the buttons!  Have fun!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Hamburger or Hot Dog Buns

How hard is it to drive to the supermarket and pick up hamburger buns?  Well, if you count the time spent driving there and waiting in line to buy them and then driving home, you could have made them at home.  They would not only be a fraction of the cost but would be so delicious that you would not want to ever buy them again!  It's true I haven't counted the rising time but these are so easy you won't believe it! 

This recipe from Allrecipes (source) gives complete instructions for making the dough in the traditional way. I use my bread machine because it does a magnificent job of proofing the dough.  I have made them as the recipe is written and they have come out very well too.  It is just soooo much easier with the bread maker that I will give those instructions here.  They taste so good that I even went to my local second hand store and bought another bread maker so I could make a double batch for parties!  

Hamburger Buns

1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter - melted
1 egg

2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teas. salt
4 1/2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon instant yeast

Heat milk and water in a glass measuring cup on 50% power 30 to 45 seconds until it is warm (about 100 degrees).  Add the melted butter and egg.  Stir egg with a fork.  Add next 3 dry ingredients then make a well in the flour and put yeast in it.  Select dough setting on bread maker and start.  Now you can watch tv or curl up with a good book!  See isn't this hard?

When dough is ready, (my bread machine takes an hour and a half) remove dough onto a lightly floured surface.  

Divide the dough into the size you want.  I make 14 dough balls out of each batch and these make large buns.  If you want to be picky you can weigh them as I did here.  Each one weighed close to 2.7 oz.  They came out very uniform and nice but this step isn't normally needed.  

Place dough on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray and leave a couple of inches on each side of them.  I put mine 3 across and three down to give them plenty of room.

Make them smooth and round by pushing the dough up through your fingers.  Stretch the dough on top of the ball until it is perfectly formed.  This helps them look good and rise better too.

 Flatten dough with palm of hand.  Don't be worried about pushing them down. They will be too thick if you don't push down enough.

  You want them to be no taller than your finger.

 This is how they look after you press them down. There is still plenty of room for them to grow as they rise.   Cover with a dish towel.  Let rise for about 30 minutes.  I like them to be  touching when I bake them. 

When dough has risen and buns are the size you want, bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes. 

Can you smell the of baking bread right now? Divine!

 See? Perfect, light, hamburger buns! 

 This is how I like mine to look but you can take them out whenever you like. 

To make Hot Dog Buns:  Shape each ball of dough into a 6x4 inch rectangle.  Starting with the 6" side, roll up, and pinch edges and ends to seal.  Let rise and bake the same as the hamburger buns.  You can get about 16 hot dog buns out of one batch. 

p.s. These buns freeze well.  Freeze in a non-frost free freezer if possible and they will taste just as good for 4-6 weeks! 
p.p.s. If you want to make Dollar Rolls - you know the ones that are only a couple of inches across and are fun for showers and parties?  Use .8 oz of dough and cook for 6 minutes.  Even though these rolls are tiny compared to hamburger buns, the stores charge a lot  for them, sometimes $2.50 to $3.00 a dozen.  These will save you a ton of money by making them yourself.  And they couldn't be more delicious! 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Chocolate Strawberry Dipped Cupcakes! Oh My!

     These cupcakes are so gorgeous!  Any Valentine would feel loved to receive one of these!  Don't worry, they are quite easy and not all that time consuming to make.  I have to apologize to cupcake fanatics everywhere when I say I just used a box mix but it had tons of chocolate flavor and was moist and rich.  I used a Betty Crocker Super Moist Triple Chocolate Fudge Mix.  It made 22 cupcakes.  Place liners in pan and make mix exactly as directed.  The real secret to making them look good is to use 3 Tablespoons of batter in each cup.  The trick to that is to get a large cookie dough scoop (mine is from Pampered Chef).  It is exactly 3 Tablespoons and makes it wonderfully easy to get the right amount in each cup without measuring or dripping batter across the pan.  Bake as directed until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean and remove from oven to cool.   Recipe Source: Some what simple


  The first thing to do is learn how to spell this word!  It helps to repeat it to several people throughout the day at random times.  They will think you are strange but on the other hand you will sound cool and most likely never forget how to spell it either!
This is also a fancy word for a decadent treat that is very easy to make.  Here's how:

18 ounces good quality semi sweet chocolate, chopped (I used Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate chips)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Recipe Source: My Baking Addiction

     Place chocolate in a heat safe bowl and set aside.  In a medium size, heavy saucepan heat cream until it just comes to a boil, watching constantly to prevent it from boiling over.
Pour hot cream over chocolate and let it sit for 5 minutes.  Use a wisk to combine the chocolate and cream.  Let this mixture cool until it is almost room temperature before dipping cupcakes. You want it to be still a little jell-like and not quite set up.   About 1 hour, less if you put it in the fridge. Dip cupcake tops in ganache and then put them on a cookie sheet and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes before adding frosting.

 While they are chilling, prepare buttercream frosting.

Buttercream Frosting

1 cup salted butter (room temperature)
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teas. real vanilla ( best quality you can get)
1-3 Tablespoons heavy cream, half and half, or milk
Pink food coloring
Recipe source:  Glorious Treats
     Use a wisk attachment to cream the butter on med. speed for about 1 minute until it is smooth and fluffy.  Turn mixer to slow speed to add 1 cup of powdered sugar.  Beat until combined then add another cup.  Add vanilla and 1 Tablespoon of cream and beat to combine.  Add remaining sugar 1 cup at a time, beating after each addition.  Add food coloring slowly until desired color is reached.
Because you are going to pipe the frosting it needs to be somewhat thick so don't add more cream unless it looks too stiff to use in a decorating bag.  Beat for about one minute more on med. speed.  It should be smooth and fluffy and ready to pipe!

     Remove cupcakes from fridge and fill decorating bag with icing.  This is easily done if you put your tip (I use the large 1M tip but you can also use a large round tip) in the end of a 14 inch decorating bag ( no coupler is needed) and set the bag in a large tall cup.  Pull the bag edges over the rim of the cup to make a support for the bag while you fill it.  Fill with frosting and then bring the edges back up and twist and you are ready to go!  Pipe a circle of icing around the outside of the cupcake and spiral in to the center. 

Now, wash and dry your strawberries. Add some ganache to the top of the cupcake.  Dip strawberry in chocolate then place on top.  Drizzle a little more chocolate around the strawberry and  admire your work!  It is beautiful!  You are now a cupcake chef!  P.S. Your friends/family will love you!
 Place cupcakes in fridge until ready to serve.
These can also be made without the buttercream icing.  Just fill the decorating bag with ganache after it has set up and pipe a spiral of it on top.  Then add a strawberry.