Thursday, May 27, 2010

Chewy Chocolate Bar Cookies

Posted by: Annie

The other afternoon I really wanted to make cookies but was being incredibly lazy and did not feel like scooping out each cookie one by one from a big bowl of dough. So based on the ingredients I had - which was literally a bag of Reese's peanut butter chips and some flour, I discovered this wonderful recipe on hersheys.com. They are very quick and easy to make, but taste like you worked all day! Enjoy!

What you will need:

2-1/2 sticks butter (softened)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 10 oz package of Reese's Peanut Butter Chips
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a jellyroll pan.

Mix together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

In a separate bowl blend together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Gradually add this mixture to the butter mixture. Stir in peanut butter chips and spread the batter in prepared pan.

Bake 20 minutes.

Cool on wire rack and then cut into bars.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

Posted by: Maggie


I'm on a quest to find the perfect, from scratch, white or yellow cupcake recipe. Despite baking everything else I make from scratch, I've always preferred to use boxed cake mixes for cupcakes. First of all, part of the fun of cupcakes is decorating, and I'm always anxious to get to that part of the recipe. Secondly, most from scratch cupcake recipes are just dry and crumbly. Boxed mixes, in all their preservative-laden glory are pretty damn moist (hate that word, hate that word, hate that word) and tasty.

This recipe comes from Simply Recipes, via blogger Garrett McCord of Vanilla Garlic. The cake is definitely not dry, likely from the inclusion of sour cream, and bakes up with nice domed tops perfect for decorating. The flavor threw me for a loop; it is delicious, but significantly less sweet than your typical Betty Crocker mix.

I'll be testing out a few other cupcake recipes in the next couple months, but I can definitely see myself returning to this recipe...at least now that I know where to find a vanilla bean in the grocery store. (Not in produce...silly Maggie McBlogger!) 'Scuse the craptastic picture, I'll try and get one in the daylight tomorrow morning.

Here's what you'll need:

Cupcake:

1 ½ cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg plus 2 egg whites
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean

Buttercream: (I doubled the frosting, and with the amount I use for cupcakes it barely covered 12. Unless you're a stingy froster, in which case, go away (I kid), you must double the following amounts. I suppose I could have done that for you...oh well.)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, I used extract since I tinted the frosting and didn't want black speckles to interfere with the pink beauty of my frosting)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. While the oven preheats cut open and scrape out the seeds of a vanilla bean. Place the seeds, empty bean, and the milk into a small saucepan. Heat to just under a simmer for a few minutes being careful not to scald the milk. Remove from heat and allow the milk to steep and cool. (Be sure to remove the bean after it cools.)

Beat the butter for about 3 minutes on medium speed, then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat for 30 seconds. Add the egg whites, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds each.

In one bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another whisk together the vanilla steeped milk, vanilla extract, and sour cream.

Add the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the butter sugar egg mixture in alternating additions (dry-wet-dry method), starting and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined being sure to not overbeat.

Divide the batter into cupcake papers in a muffin tin and bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Be sure to rotate the cupcakes after the first 15 minutes to ensure even baking. Be sure to keep a close eye as these can get overbaked quickly. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Frost when cooled.

For the frosting, beat the butter and slowly add in the powdered sugar. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean (or vanilla extract if using) and beat in. Dye a pretty color if desired.
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