Sunday, July 22, 2012

Snickerdoodle Brownies (Dairy-Free)

In about two hours, I'm supposed to go running.  I reaaaaally don't want to.  Really really really really.  It's hot.  I tweaked my ankle at the beach today.  I'm tired and sore from yesterday's workout.  All I really want to do is sit and gawk at Pinterest.  And then watch True Blood and gawk at Eric.  Sitting and gawking are all I really feel up to right now.  But I'm going to go.  I'll hate every minute of it but I will go.  Because once it's over, I will feel glad that I did-- I always do.  You never really finish a workout and think, "Well, geez, I wish I hadn't done THAT."  :)

The other reason I'm going is so that I can eat (at least) one of these snickerdoodle brownies.  As I've said before, cinnamon doesn't top the list of my favorite flavors, but husband and daughter love it, so I do more with cinnamon than I would on my own.  These smell fantastic, and I like that the base for the cookie has brown sugar in it.  The smell has me thinking about fall...maybe when I get home from my run, I will gawk at fall recipes on Pinterest while watching True Blood...

Snickerdoodle Brownies
(Adapted to be dairy-free from My Own Sweet Thyme)
Makes one 9x13 pan

2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup soy margarine*, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 Tbsps granulated sugar
2 tsps ground cinnamon

*I use Willow Run soy margarine to make this dairy-free.  You can also use butter here.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x13 pan with Pam. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth.  Add the dry flour ingredients to the butter/sugar and mix until incorporated.

Spread batter into prepared pan.  (This is a very sticky batter-- I had to fight with it a bit to get it spread evenly and into the corners of the pan.)  Combine the granulated sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl-- mix well.  Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the batter.  Bake for about 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and place pan on a wire rack to cool.  While brownies are still warm, cut into squares.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Milky Way Brownies

I am distracted. 

Normally I am very good at multi-tasking.  In fact, I am a multi-tasking machine.  But not so much today. 

I decided I wanted to watch a movie.  I also wanted to get the blog updated with this recipe.  Usually doing both at the same time wouldn't be an issue, but the movie is totally capturing my attention.  So-- I am going to let the pictures and the recipe speak for themselves.  :)

Milky Way Brownies
(From My Baking Addiction)
Makes approximately 40 mini brownies

For the brownies:
3/4 cup butter, cubed
4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
Approx 40 mini Mily Way candies, frozen for at least an hour

For the caramel sauce:
15 caramels (I used Kraft)
2 Tbsp heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray the wells of a mini muffin pan with Pam or other cooking spray.

Put the butter and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl.  Heat for 2-3 minutes on 50% power, until the butter is melted.  Stir thoroughly until chocolate is completely melted.

Add sugar, eggs, salt, and vanilla-- whisk until combined.  Gradually whisk in flour until just incorporated.

Spoon brownie batter into the wells-- approx 2 tsps.  Don't overfill the wells!  Press one Milky Way into each well-- press it down firmly, until the top is level with the batter, but don't worry about covering the candy with the batter.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are set.

Let brownies cool, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. 

To make the caramel sauce, combine the unwrapped caramels and the heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl.  Heat for 30-second intervals on 50% power in the microwave, stirring after each interval (it took 4 30-second intervals in my microwave).  Stir until sauce is smooth.

Drizzle the caramel sauce over the cooled brownies and enjoy!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mudslide Cupcakes

I just got back from Savannah, GA and let me tell you something-- those people know how to eat.  The food there is out of control.  I seriously gorged myself on Southern food and drink for about 48 hours straight.  We traveled with our good friends and had a fantastic time-- we stayed at a famously haunted inn, and I managed to scare the mess out of myself the first day, before we even walked into our room.  The story is that a broken-hearted girl threw herself out of an upstairs window and now haunts room 204, moving things around and generally being ghost-y.  So Joe and I end up in room 203-- literally right next door to the ghost room.  Wonderful.  So we climb the little stairs, turn the corner to our room, and that's when I see it.  There is SOMETHING IN THE WINDOW in the hallway.  I shriek and drop my bags and that's when I's a mannequin.  A really bad mannequin in a bad wedding dress and a worse wig, draped in the curtains.  That's what I am running from.  At this point Joe is laughing so hard that he can't unlock the door-- it was ridiculous.  Luckily, that's most supernatural experience that we had this weekend (although there were mysteriously falling cell phones in our friends' room)-- we devoted the rest of our time there to eating our way through Savannah.

Savannah is amazingly hospitable and full of wonderful places to eat and drink-- we have a new favorite from this trip, though.  It's called The Olde Pink House and it's literally some of the best southern food I've ever had.  And I grew up in Jacksonville and I have eaten my fair share of Southern cooking, so that's pretty high praise.  Anyway, that's our recommendation for food if you ever find yourself out that way.  :)  I also made my traveling companions stop and sample cupcakes at the bakeries-- I really had to twist their arms (ha ha).  There were some good ones, but husband and friends kept talking about these Mudslide cupcakes that I made right around the 4th of July.  I also promised some family that I would post the recipe for these, so now that I'm home, I finally have a minute to do it.  So here they are-- enjoy!

Mudslide Cupcakes
Makes about 22 cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes
(Recipe from Annie's Eats)

9 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup strong coffee
1/2 cup milk (either whole or 2%)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift together the cocoa powder, cake flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.  In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, blend the butter and sugar on medium-high speed, until fluffy (about 4-5 minutes).  Add the eggs one at a time-- scrape the bowl after you add each egg.  Combine the coffee and milk in a liquid measuring cup.

Add half the dry ingredients to the sugar/butter and mix until just incorporated.  Next, add the coffee-milk mixture and stir until combined-- the batter will look pretty runny at this point.  Add the remainder of the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.  Spoon batter into cupcake pans with liners-- you should make these no more than 3/4 full, because these cupcakes rise and dome very well-- you don't want them to overflow.  Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack.  When cupcakes are cool, core them in preparation for filling. 

While these cupcakes cool, I make the ganache and the icing.
Kahlua Ganache
(Adapted from

5 ounces chocolate, chopped (I used semi-sweet for this recipe)
1/3 cup heavy cream
3-4 Tbsp Kahlua

Place chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.  In a small saucepan, bring cream to a simmer.  Pour cream over chopped chocolate, add the Kahlua and let it sit for 5 minutes.  This is important!  Don't be impatient and try to stir too early (like I did the first few times I made ganache).  Then, whisk until smooth.  Let the ganache cool-- it will thicken a bit as it cools.  Fill the cupcakes with the cooled ganache.
Bailey's Buttercream
(Adapted from The Curvy Carrot)
2 sticks (16 Tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used clear for this)
5-6 Tbsp Bailey's Irish Cream
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter.  Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated.  Add three cups of the powdered sugar, one cup at a time-- beat until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl after each cup is added.  Add the Bailey's to taste (feel free to use more or less than what is listed in the recipe).  Add powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached.  Transfer icing to another bowl and cover until ready to use.
Kahlua Buttercream
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
3-4 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
4 Tbsp Kahlua
3 Tbsp hot coffee
In a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter.  Add three cups of the powdered sugar, once cup at a time-- beat until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl after each cup is added.  Add the cocoa powder, Kahlua, and coffee and beat until smooth (make sure you start your mixer slowly here-- I definitely flung Kahlua and cocoa powder all over my kitchen). If necessary, add more powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached. 
To ice the cupcakes:  I once again used the swirl method from GoodLife Eats, which you can access by clicking on the link (the highlighted name).  The description and instruction there is very clear and easy to follow-- I would just end up confusing you-- so check it out over there.  :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mini Oreo Cheesecakes

Life is good, friends.

It's summer.  We can go to the beach or the pool.  We can listen to summer music.  We can watch bad TV (because, let's face it, there's nothing else on).  We can grill every night. We can spend time with family.  We can celebrate our country with sparklers (what's better than sparklers?).  We can read silly books. We can travel.  In my mind, there's not much better than summer vacation.

I mention all these fun summer things because today is AP score day, so for AP teachers, it's almost like a day at work.  We get to see our students' performance on the test they took in May-- and at this remove, the AP scores can start to feel like a celebration or an indictment of our teaching this year.  It can be hard to remember that these results are a measure of the students, and not a measure of our own success as teachers.  However, it can be much easier to say (or write) those words than it is to believe them.  No matter what what the student scores look like, wonderful or abysmal, we get a fresh new crop of kiddos next year who will all benefit from our expertise-- no matter what we think this year's scores say about us, we are all good teachers and we deserve a chance to relax and recuperate this summer.  So, go do something summer-y. Or make these cheesecakes.  They are an excellent way to celebrate the successful completion of another school year as well as the new year we will be starting in August.

Mini Oreo Cheesecakes
(From Handle the Heat)

One package Oreo cookies (approx 42), 30 left whole, remainder coarsely chopped
4 8-oz packages cream cheese, slightly softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used the clear)
4 large eggs, room temp and lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Line 30 muffin cups with paper liners, and place one whole Oreo cookie in the bottom of each liner.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth.  Gradually add sugar, scraping sides of bowl as necessary.  Beat in vanilla.

Slowly add beaten eggs a little at a time, beating until combined.  Scrape bowl as necessary during this process.  Beat in sour cream until incorporated.  Stir in the chopped Oreo by hand.

Divide batter evenly between the 30 liners, filling each almost to the top.  Bake the cheesecakes for 20-22 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time.  Cool the cheesecakes completely on wire racks, then chill for at least 4 hours before serving.