Blueberry Blackberry Pie

IMG_4917Homemade pie, with all of its wonderful little imperfections, is pretty stinkin great. It doesn’t look like that oddly perfect-looking pie from Village Inn, Stepford Wife-esque with its unblemished crust and crimped edges. No sir. The homemade pie might have a little burnt spot on the edge. Maybe the fruit inside spilled through the seam a little. There could be a couple tears in the crust like this pie has. But unlike that store bought pie that was probably made completely by machine, this pie, the handmade pie, is baked by a real live person. Probably someone you know and love. They tended the crust (we all know pie crusts need a little TLC) and made sure nothing got too warm before baking time. They picked out the best fruit they could find. They turned on their oven in the middle of summer when the last thing anyone needs is a giant box filled with 375-degree air in their non-air-conditioned house, spewing the leftover heat into the kitchen like it’s a fire-breathing dragon. This person baked you a pie. And that, as my mom would say, is a beautiful thing.

This pie starts out, like most good things, with butter.

IMG_4896

This crust is a little different because while the butter is still cold, you’ll roll it out so it makes little strips of butter. It’s kinda tricky but that’s cool cuz we’re going for the flakiness here.

IMG_4897

Then it goes back in the bowl, and you’ll add buttermilk.

IMG_4899

Then it’ll need some time to cool off in the fridge. It’s hot outside, and pie crust can feel it too.

IMG_4900

Now, it’s berry time. These babies will get tossed with some lemon juice and sugar.

IMG_4901When the crust is finally done chilling, roll it out on a floured surface, gently lift it into your pie pan, sprinkle some breadcrumbs in there to help absorb all the berry juice, and pour in the berries. You can see a few spots where i had to patch the pie crust. No big deal. That’s what the homemade pie is all about!

IMG_4904

IMG_4907

Then, grab the other piece of dough from the fridge and roll it out, lift on top, and seal the edges. I won’t pretend I know how to beautify the edge of a pie crust, so I’ll tell you not to worry about it. No one will notice, and if they do, they’ll forget as soon as they have a bite, And if they don’t forget, take away their pie and give it to someone else. (Not that I want to deny anyone a slice of this…but still.) Make sure to cut some vents in the top so the steam from the fruit juice can escape.

IMG_4909

IMG_4921

I realize it’s a little late in the season for blueberries (where did you go, summer?), but if you can find them, this would be the perfect send-off for them until next year.

Blueberry Blackberry Pie

Pie and crust recipes from Joy the Baker

Makes 1 double-crusted 9-inch pie

For the crust:

1 cup (two sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cold

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (5-6 ounces) buttermilk, cold

For the filling:

2 pints fresh blueberries

1 pint fresh blackberries

1 cup granulated sugar, plus a little more for sprinkling on top

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

a big pinch of salt

zest of 1/2 a lemon

juice from 1/2 a lemon, or more to taste

1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs or crushed graham crackers

1 large egg, beaten with about a tablespoon of water

First make the crust. Cut the butter into 1-inch cubes and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes. Measure out your buttermilk and place it in the refrigerator so it stays cold.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, and salt. Grab the butter from the freezer and toss it with the flour mixture until all the butter is coated.

Dump the cold butter and flour onto a large, clean area of counter for rolling. Using a rolling pin, roll the mixture so that the butter cubes become flat, thin sheets. Work quickly – the butter should stay cold.

Gather the rolled butter and flour, but them back into the bowl, and refrigerate for 10 minutes. When the butter is cold, remove the bowl from the refrigerator and make a well in the center of the mixture. Pour the cold buttermilk into the mixture all at once. Using your hands, bring the dough together, breaking up any clumps of milk and flour that form. The dough will be shaggy, but all the flour should be moistened. If it isn’t, add another tablespoon of buttermilk. Once it’s all mixed together, divide the dough in half and form each half into a disk. Wrap them in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.

At this point, you can keep the dough in the fridge for 3 days or freezer for 3 weeks before using it. If you want to freeze it, roll the dough into sheets and wrap them in plastic wrap, then freeze.

While the crust chills, make the filling. Rinse the berries and place them in a large bowl. Add the flour, sugar, salt, zest, and juice to the bowl and stir it all together gently. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then taste it and add more lemon if needed.

After at least and hour has passed, remove one of the pie crust disks from the fridge. Flour your work surface and rolling pin, and roll the crust out into a circle. Lift it into the pie plate and trim the edges. Leave bout 1/2 an inch of overhand all around.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs or crushed graham crackers over the bottom of the unbaked pie crust. Slowly pour in the berries and spread them evenly with the back of a spoon. Have your egg wash ready and moisten the edges of the crust.

Place the pie plate with the bottom crust and filling in the fridge while you roll out the top crust. Make the top crust into a 12-inch circle. Remove the pie plate from the fridge and drape the top crust over the filling. Trim it back tuck the two crusts under so the dough is flush with the edge of the pie plate. The egg wash will act like a pie crust glue, keeping them together. Crimp with your fingers or the tines of a fork to seal. Cut 4 slits in the top crust to act as vents. Place the pie in the fridge to chill while the oven preheats.

Place a rack in the lower third of the oven, and a cookie sheet on another rack below to catch any juice that bubbles over. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Brush the top and outside edge of the pie with the egg wash. Generously sprinkle granulated sugar over the top. Bake the pie at 425 F for 30 minutes. Then, reduce the oven temperature to 375 F and bake for another 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling up through the vents. If the crust starts browning too quickly, cover the pie loosely with foil while it bakes (the steam will still need to vent).

Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. Don’t worry about it getting to cool. I brought my pie to a barbecue, it sat outside for about an hour and a half, and it still steamed when I cut into it. Enjoy and give yourself a pat on the back!

Advertisements

Double Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread

IMG_4892

Summer is finally and officially here! The 4th of July has come and gone which means summer is here to stay and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Last week I moved (again) into a house that is going to be really great after a year of less-than-ideal living situations.

The sun is finally out and it’s been hot. The kind of hot that’s almost but not quite uncomfortable. Until you get a sunburn, in which case the heat is painful the next day.

Sunburns and sweat and moving aside, I can’t wait for the rest of this summer. It’s going to be great. If you’re looking for a good way to kick off your summer, this bread is a good one. Yes, you’ll have to turn on your oven, but this bread is pretty much a giant cinnamon roll studded with fresh summer berries.

This bread starts off with a yeast dough. We’ll mix the yeast with some butter and a couple other things to activate it, and then form a dough and let it rise.

IMG_4870 IMG_4871 IMG_4872

While the dough rises, we’ll get the berries ready and make the buttery, cinnamon-y spread that will go on the inside of the bread.

IMG_4874

The dough will be nice and puffy after it rises.

IMG_4875

We’ll roll it out, spread the filling over it, and sprinkle the berries on top.

IMG_4876 IMG_4877 IMG_4879

This is where things get a little tricky. We’ll roll up the dough into a log, rolling tightly so the berries don’t all end up at the far edge of the dough.

IMG_4881

Then the log gets sliced in half and each half get turned up towards you to face you.

IMG_4882

Then, the two halves will get twisted together.

IMG_4884

Finally, the twisted dough will get shaped into a circle, and you’ll press the ends together so it doesn’t all fall apart.

IMG_4885

Then, quickly but gently so the dough wreath doesn’t unravel, pick the wreath up and place it into a cast iron skillet, springform pan, or cake pan. Bake, and enjoy all the hark work you just did!

IMG_4889

This bread is rich and dense without being too sweet. The butter-cinnamon filling adds a good amount of indulgence and the berries add little bursts of juice with every bite. This one does take a bit of work, but it’s more than well worth it.

 

Double Berry Cinnamon Bread

From Joy the Baker

Makes 1 loaf

 

For the dough:

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

3/4 cup whole milk, warmed to a warm lukewarm

1 large egg yolk

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

olive oil

 

For the filling:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 cups fresh berries (sliced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries…feel free to use 3 or even more – I couldn’t find any raspberries)

1 large egg, beaten

 

Make the dough:

Combine the yeast and sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in the warmed milk, and then stir in the egg yolk and melted butter. Whisk the mixture until thoroughly combined. Let the yeast mixture sit for 5 minutes. It should foam and froth, which means the yeast is activated properly. If it doesn’t, start over with new yeast.

Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Pour the milk/yeast mixture over the flour and knead the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl and starts to form a ball. Place the dough on a lightly floured, clean counter, and knead by hand for about 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and a little damp, but not too sticky. Form the dough into a ball. Place it in a large bowl greased with olive oil, and cover. I like to cover it lightly with plastic wrap and then put a clean kitchen towel on top. Allow the dough to rest in a warm spot until it’s doubled in size, about an hour.

While the dough rises, mix the butter, sugar, and cinnamon together for the filling and set aside until later.

When the dough is almost done rising, preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a 10-inch springform pan, cast iron skillet, or a normal 9-inch cake pan and set it aside, too.

When the dough has doubled in size, place it on a lightly floured counter and knead it twice. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12×18-inch rectangle. It doesn’t have to be precise — get it as close as you can and make sure the two longs sides are the same length and the two short ones are the same length.

Put the filling on the dough in a few blobs, and spread it over the dough evenly, leaving about 1 inch of dough on all sides. Place the berries over the cinnamon spread, and press them into the dough a little bit.

Now, beginning from one of the long sides of the dough, roll it into a log. Be sure to tuck it under as best you can, and force the berries into the roll if you need to. The berries will make the log a little lumpy. Use a sharp knife or bench scraper to cut the log in half lengthwise, leaving about an inch of dough uncut at the top. If there is excess dough at the bottom with no filling in it, trim this dough (I didn’t do this but wish I had). To braid the dough, carefully lift the left strand over the right strand. Repeat this until you have used all the dough, straightening and adjusting the braid as necessary. Press the ends of the two strands together. Bring the two ends of the braid together, and press together.

Quickly and carefully transfer the dough ring to the prepared pan. Brush the beaten egg over the dough. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the bread is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Let cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

 

 


Black Pepper Biscuits (with bacon and eggs)

IMG_4768

Mmm, biscuits. Definitely not my area of expertise when it comes to baking. Not that I’m an expert in anything baking-related…but if I were, it definitely wouldn’t be biscuits. I think this is the second time I’ve ever made them. Not like cookies, which I’ve made dozens and dozens of when it’s not even Christmas time. For sure not like banana bread, a loaf of which was practically always camped out on the kitchen counter, because somebody (*cough*little sister*cough*) couldn’t keep up with her banana eating. And certainly not like cake, which I make every time someone I know has a birthday. Including myself, to the dismay of my poor grandmother.

IMG_4769

But the thing about biscuits is you can make a meal out of them and feel less bad about it than making a meal out of cookies or banana bread or cake. Which I absolutely encourage on occasion, but sometimes, you just need some protein with your butter and flour. Usually on weekend mornings. These biscuits are the perfect thing to make on a lazy Sunday. They don’t take much time at all – less than half an hour total. You can fry up the bacon and eggs while they’re baking. Then slice them up, add more butter if you’re a total sucker for butter like I am, and enjoy this wonderful grease-fest of a breakfast. And then take a walk. Or a nap. They both work wonders.

 

Black Pepper Biscuits

Adapted a teeny bit from Honey & Jam

Makes 12

 

3 cups all-purpose flour (she recommends White Lily…I used generic brand)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 (1 stick) cup cold salted butter

1 1/4 cup cold buttermilk

 

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. You can also bake these in a cast iron skillet if you have one – which is probably much preferred to a baking sheet.

Grate the butter into a small bowl on the large-holed side of a cheese grater. Put it in the freezer. (I can’t believe I’ve never thought to grate butter for scones or pie dough before…it really does work well.)

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.

Add the butter to the flour mixture and cut it in with a fork. Pour in the buttermilk and stir until a shaggy dough forms. Knead the dough 5-7 times in the bowl, and then turn it out onto a floured surface. Pat the dough down until it’s 1/4 inch thick. Fold it over and pat it down again. Fold the dough over a second time, and then cut into rounds with a biscuit cutter or floured glass, or rectangles with a bench scraper or sharp knife.

Place the biscuits on the baking sheet or in the cast iron skillet. Top with more freshly ground black pepper. Bake 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.

If you’re not going to use all the biscuits at once, freeze the dough in individual already-cut biscuits before baking. Bake them directly from the freezer, adding a few minutes to the baking time.

 

For each person you’re serving:

2 slices thick cut bacon (I used pepper bacon, because I’m a pepper fiend)

1 egg

 

While the biscuits are in the oven, fry your bacon to desired doneness. Transfer it to a plate lined with paper towels. Drain most of the grease, and then fry your egg in the bacon fat. Seriously. Do it. It’s the weekend.

Cut a biscuit in half and top with bacon, egg, salt and pepper, hot sauce if you want. Maybe some green onion or parsley. Anything goes.


Guinness Chocolate Cake

Image

I think the thing I like least about working in an office, or at least one of the things that is really hard to get used to after spending the entirety of my pre-office life in school, is: no breaks! I mean seriously…I honestly believe our productivity and morale would skyrocket if we had a company-wide 2-week winter break, week-long spring break just when it starts to get warm, and at least a 2-week summer break. I mean really, it’s in the company’s best interest.

Image

But no. Instead, we have to work work work until we save up enough vacation days to take a 5-day weekend, calculate whether we’ll have enough vacation days left to go to our friend’s wedding over the summer….the struggle is neverending. Anyway, about a month ago I decided I was in need of a spring break. And today I got up at 2 in the morning to drive to the airport and by the time I normally would have arrived at work, I was already 1200 miles away from my little corner of the office and the few hundred emails that await me every morning.

Yesterday, because I knew I wanted to make something delicious to bring to work for St. Patrick’s Day but I wasn’t going to be back to work by then, I brought in this Guinness chocolate cake. I made this cake last year too so I already knew it was a total winner. And let me tell you, this cake is a dream. Perfect way to eat your Guinness and drink it too this weekend.

Image

This Guinness chocolate cake is rich but not too sweet, super moist and chocolatey, and the Guinness adds just the right amount of a little savory, yeasty touch. The cream cheese frosting is the perfect complement, adding some sweetness without overpowering the magic of this cake.

I was planning on putting green sprinkles on top, but I forgot to buy them, of course. I do think it would be a great touch though.

Also…two cakes in a row. Oops 🙂

Guinness Chocolate Cake

From Feast by Nigella Lawson, via Shutterbean.com

Makes a single layer 9-inch cake

1 cup Guinness stout (this means you’ll have leftovers to drink while it bakes!)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, sliced

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups superfine sugar (I used granulated, it works just fine)

3/4 cup sour cream

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment. I don’t have a springform pan and was also out of parchment, so I just used a normal 9-inch pan, buttered it very liberally, and the cake came out of the pan just fine.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the Guinness and butter until the butter is melted. Whisk in the cocoa powder and sugar and then remove from the heat. In a small bowl, beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla (you can do it with a whisk). Pour the Guinness mixture into a large bowl, and add in the sour cream mixture. Whisk together until combined. Add the flour and baking soda and whisk until completely combined. Scrape the bowl with a spatula to make sure you get all the flour.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-60 minutes, until a toothpick stuck in the center of the cake comes out clean. Mine was actually done at about 41 minutes, so definitely keep an eye on it. Remove from oven and let cool. If you’re not using a springform pan, run a butter knife around the edge of the cake and turn it out onto a plate when the pan is cool enough to touch, Then invert again onto whatever you’re going to serve it from so it’s right-side up.

Cream Cheese Frosting

by Garrett McCord on Simply Recipes

I was afraid this was going to be too much frosting for a single-layer cake, but I think it was a perfect amount.

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

2-3 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

With electric beaters or in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese together until very smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and beat for another 15 seconds or so. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Add the powdered sugar little by little, until the frosting reaches the desired sweetness and thickness.

Once the cake is cool, spread the frosting on top with a spatula, starting from the center and working outwards to make it look like a nice frothy pint of Guinness. Top with green sprinkles if you want to be even more festive. Or you could add green food coloring to the frosting!

Have a great weekend!


Magic Custard Cake

ImageIf you’re anything like me, the name of this cake – magic custard cake – will bring out the skeptic in you. Can this cake really be magical? Like real-life, it-will-disappear-in-less-than-a-day magical? There’s nothing incredibly special about everyday non-cake custard. Can this cake really be that much better?

Image

And the answer is…yes. This cake is indeed magical. Somehow, the time in the oven makes a thin cakey layer on top while the bottom of the cake remains creamy and custardy and wonderful.

Image

This custard cake is all the magic you’ll need to make it through your Monday and the rest of the week. It doesn’t take too long to make and you can keep it all week, eat it for breakfast. Even at the risk that the cake is so good, your day might only go downhill from there.

Magic Custard Cake

From White on Rice Couple

1/2 cup unsalted butter

2 cups milk

4 eggs, separated

4 drops white vinegar

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 tablespoon water

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

more powdered sugar for the top

Preheat oven to 325 F and lightly butter an 8×8-inch baking dish.

Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Heat the milk to lukewarm and set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites and vinegar until stiff peaks form and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and falls in a ribbon from the beater. Add in the melted butter and water and beat until fully incorporated, about 2 minutes.

Mix the flour into the egg yolk mixture until fully incorporated. Slowly mix in the milk 1/2 cup at a time by had with a spatula. Mix in the vanilla.

Fold in 1/3 of the eggs whites until mostly incorporated, and repeat with the remaining 2/3, 1/3 at a time. Mix gently, without deflating the egg yolks, until fully incorporated and there are no more big lumps.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 45-60 minutes or until the top is golden. I took mine out at 45 minutes and I think it was a tiny bit overdone, but I’m pretty sure the heating mechanism in there is pretty much uncontrolled. Give the cake a gentle shake, it will still jiggle slightly when it’s done. Allow the cake to cool completely before cutting. You can put it in the fridge to expedite the cooling. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. The cake will last for a few days in the fridge, but let it come to room temperature before serving.


Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

ImageRed velvet! What?! I know, red velvet is a little past it’s heyday, but yesterday was February 25th, my grandpa’s birthday. And due to his unwavering devotion to red velvet cake, I can’t get through the last week of this month with out a – dare I say it – craving for red velvet.

Image

Admittedly, red velvet isn’t the greatest thing on the planet. It has a tiny bit of chocolate in it, which seems to be there just to taunt you into thinking your cake or cookies or what have you will be chocolatey. It always manages to lightly stain your teeth red until you can get your hands on a toothbrush. But still. It’s red velvet. It’s pretty darn good looking, doesn’t taste half bad, and if your grandpa likes it so much, it must be good.

ImageThese whoopie pies aren’t hard to make. You could even make the cookies one day and the frosting the next. They’re wonderfully soft, not too sweet, and the frosting is pretty great too.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

From Handle the Heat

Makes about 30 pies

Notes: I almost didn’t add the full ounce of food coloring, because that was the entire bottle and it almost felt too unnatural. But only half the bottle didn’t make the batter red, and it will get darker when it bakes. Also, an ounce is two tablespoons, which is kind of a lot of liquid to remove/alter. So I’d definitely recommend using the full ounce. Also the directions say to pipe the batter and frosting. If you don’t have pastry bags, don’t fear! I don’t either. When the batter is ready to bake, just spoon it into one of the bottom corners of a large ziploc bag, squish all the air out, seal it, and cut off the tip of the corner of the bag. Instant pastry bag! This batter is somewhere between a cookie dough and a cake batter, too runny to easily scoop with a spoon and not runny enough to pour, so piping not only makes the batter easier to handle, but makes the whole process go much faster and cleanup much easier.

For the cookies:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick, 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

1 ounce red food coloring

For the frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Make the cookies:

Preheat oven to 375 F and place 2 oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar to the butter and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add in the egg. Beat until thoroughly combined. Add in the vanilla. Alternatively beat in the flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the buttermilk. Fold with a spatula a couple times to make sure the flour is incorporated. Mix in the food coloring.

Pipe tablespoonfuls of batter onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about an inch between each round.  Bake until tops are set, about 7-9 minutes. Keep a close eye on them, mine barely needed this much time. Cool completely on the cookie sheets.

Make the frosting:

In the bowl of a stand mixer or with electric beaters, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar and vanilla, alternating between them. Beat until smooth.

Assemble the pies:

Pipe the frosting on the flat sides of half the cookies. Place the remaining cookies on top, flat sides down, so the round sides of both cookies will face out.

The whoopie pies can be refrigerated for up to 4 days in an airtight container. Allow them to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.


Secret Ingredient Oatmeal Cookies

Image(Not to be confused with Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies)

This post has been a loooong time coming. I had my eye on this recipe for a solid week before I actually made it. I’ll tell you that a few long days at work followed by a big snowstorm that prevented me from going grocery shopping were the cause of that delay, but that’s not really true. Procrastination 1, Kaitlin 0. More like Procrastination 5000, Kaitlin 0 but I’m not counting.

IMG_4576Regardless of the reason, I had to make them, because I had some leftover cottage cheese from a recipe I made that’s not going to make it on here because, whoops, I took it to a friend’s house and we ate it before I could get a good picture. (That recipe was these Blood Orange bars, and they are wonderful.) Anyway, I had some leftover cottage cheese, which I’m not going to eat unless it’s baked into something delicious, because, that texture? Ew. I also had a newly purchased container of oats and a bag of chocolate chips staring at me every time I opened the pantry. So I did a little searching a found these delightful oatmeal cookies. Which you should make and share, because you’ll have about 6 dozen. Or just keep them for yourself and eat away at the giant pile of cookies on your counter.

IMG_4635These are nice and soft, and the cottage cheese makes them a little cakey. The cinnamon is a wonderful addition, giving them a little spice. They’re like little oatmeal chocolate chip clouds!

 

Secret Ingredient Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from cooks.com

Makes 5-6 dozen

 

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 ½ cups sugar

1 cup cottage cheese (you can strain it if you want, I didn’t even want to think about how gross that would make my strainer, so I just beat it a little longer until the curds were gone)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups sifted flour

2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups quick-cooking oats (the recipe calls for quick-cooking oats and that’s what I had. If you use regular rolled oats I would decrease this to maybe 1 2/3 cup)

2 cups chocolate chips

You can also add in ½ cup chopped nuts and/or 1 cup seedless raisins in place of or in addition to the chocolate chips.

 

In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the cottage cheese. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well, until fully incorporated.

Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter/egg mixture, mixing until just combined. Stir in the oats and chocolate chips/nuts/raisins.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for several hours or overnight, up to 3 days. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 2 cookie sheets. Roll dough into 1 inch balls (I used a tablespoon to measure). Place dough about 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets (I fit 15 on a pan) and bake 15-18 minutes, until tops are golden brown.

These cookies keep well in an airtight container at room temperature. They can also be frozen, just let them thaw for a minute or two before you eat them so they don’t crumble.


Banana Bread with Streusel Topping

ImageBanana bread is one of those things that I’ve always felt pretty indifferent about it. It’s good, but not great. I have a piece, but it never leaves me wanting more. I probably don’t need more than one piece at a time anyway, especially because it’s probably going to be slathered in butter or nutella or something equally delicious and fattening, but that’s not the point. The point is, banana bread and I have never really been good friends, but definitely not enemies. We’re somewhere between acquaintances and frenemies.

Image

Wow, did I really just liken my lack of thoughts one way or another towards banana bread to the weird awkward middle ground of that quasi-relationship you have with that person you see on campus ALL the TIME, and you’re not sure whether to wave or nod or look away or shoot them a dirty look or….so yeah. Yep. That comparison just happened, and then I let it go way too far. Whoops.

Anyway, this banana bread and I could totally be friends. Are totally friends. It’s not too rich. Definitely not too dense. Not too banana-y. And it has a streusel topping. Streusel! What’s not to like? This recipe is BFF material.

It starts out like any other banana bread: a little soupy, a little lumpy, and on the way to something tasty.

Image

And then there’s streusel! Don’t let this picture give you a bad first impression…it might be unflattering but it doesn’t matter, this is what takes this banana bread to the next level of awesome.

Image

Mmmmmmm…..I don’t think I’ll ever be making banana bread sans streusel again.

Image

Tessy’s Banana Bread

From Shutterbean via Lucinda Scala Quinn’s book Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys

Makes 1 loaf (I doubled it, because I had enough bananas for that, and also doubled the streusel for each loaf, because in the picture, there wasn’t enough streusel to cover the loaf, and we can’t have that, can we?)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup buttermilk (you can substitute 1/2 cup plain yogurt if you want)

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 large banana, mashed (about 1/2 cup)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the topping (this is doubled from the original. I don’t think it’s too much, but feel free to halve it back to its original amount):

2 tablespoons cold butter, cubed

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a loaf pan (I used an 8×4 – the smaller size – but you could use a larger one, just watch the baking time as it might decrease).

In a large bowl, whisk together the four, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt. Stir in the melted butter and buttermilk. Add in the egg and beat for 1 minute. Add in the mashed banana and vanilla and stir until well combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and make sure it’s distributed evenly.

To make the streusel topping, mash together the butter, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt until combined. I mixed it with my hands. Distribute the topping evenly over the unbaked bread batter. Bake 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Cut and serve from the pan.


Meyer Lemon Tart

ImageIs it okay to post two lemon recipes in a row if the first one is savory and the second one is one of the prettiest desserts you’ll ever see? I hope so, because I actually have a third lemon recipe to share at some point, but I’ll give it a rest for a while after this. But this. I had to share this. As soon as I could. In these cloudy, misty, so-foggy-I-can-only-see-two-cars-ahead-and-WHY-DON’T-YOU-HAVE-YOUR-HEADLIGHTS-ON days of winter, this tart is a much needed ray of sunshine for the tastebuds. Come on people. Turn on your stinkin’ headlights and maybe I’ll share with you, too.

Image

Seriously. It’s the food version of what I imagine sitting under one of those sunlight lamps for a couple hours would feel like. Bright, cheery, and a little sweet, this tart is just the pick-me-up you need right now. Plus, when life, in the form of your Southern Californian aunt who has a Meyer lemon tree in her backyard, gives you eight fresh Meyer lemons, what else are you going to do?

Image

We start this off like most good things start. Butter, egg yolks, flour, sugar…

Image

Image

ImageAnd then lemons! of the zested, juiced, and candied varieties.

Image

Image

This is what the tart looks like without the candied lemons on top. Just a nice, soft, creamy filling made of cream and lemon zest and lemon juice and sugar and eggs.

Image

Then the candied lemon slices get arranged on top and we sprinkle some powdered sugar on and bask in the little bit of sunlight that just came out of the oven.

Image

This tart came from a guest post by Roxana of Roxana’s Home Baking on A Spicy Perspective. It really is a delight.

Meyer Lemon Tart

Recipe by Roxana, found here.

Serves 12-16

For the Crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour

10 tablespoons cold butter, cubed

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup powdered sugar

pinch salt

ice water

For the Filling:

4 eggs

3/4 cup superfine sugar (you can pulse 3/4 cup granulated sugar in a food processor a few times if you don’t have it. I don’t have a food processor and also didn’t have superfine sugar, so I used plain ol’ granulated sugar and it turned out just fine.)

1/2 cup heavy cream

2/3 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice

1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest

For the Topping:

2-3 Meyer lemons

2/3 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup water

Make the Crust:

In a food processor, pulse the flour, butter, egg yolks, sugar and salt for about a minute until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. You can also use a pastry cutter and a bowl, or your hands, which is what I did. Just make sure that if you mix it with your hands, you work quickly so the butter doesn’t get to warm or soft. Add a couple drops of ice water at a time, until the dough forms a ball. I ended up using about a tablespoon of water.

Flatten the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 30 minutes.

While the dough chills, preheat the oven to 400 F. After 30 minutes in the fridge, remove the crust and roll it out on a clean, lightly floured counter. Carefully lift the crust and place it in an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough into the bottom corner and edges of the pan and trim the excess. (I used a 9-inch pan – just had a little more extra dough to trim.)

Place a piece of parchment paper in the crust and fill it with pie wights/dry rice/dry beans. Bake 15 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and pie weights and bake the crust uncovered for 10 more minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.

Make the Filling:

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar for about 5 minutes, until pale in color. Add in the cream, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

Pour the filling into the cooled crust and bake for 35-40 minutes, until just set. Cool the tart completely before removing from the pan.

Make the Topping:

Thinly slice the lemons and remove the seeds.

Place the sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat, and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the lemon slices to the sugar water and simmer for about 25-30 minutes, until the pulp looks transparent. Remove the slices from the water and arrange them on the tart. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired, and enjoy.

I took this tart into my office and it was gone within an hour, but I suspect you could keep it in the fridge for a couple days without anything bad happening.


Chocolate Pudding Shortbread Bars

Image

When I was a kid, I loved chocolate pudding. The kind that comes in the little plastic containers with perfectly separated layers of milk chocolate and vanilla, or milk chocolate and devil’s food. I couldn’t get enough of it. After school, after dinner, afternoon…

Image

To this day, whenever it catches my eye at the grocery store, I can’t resist buying chocolate pudding. It’s like an old favorite movie or book, that you’ll never get tired of, because it’s just that awesome. Even if deep down you know maybe it’s not that awesome. It’s just always been there and you’ve always had way too soft of a soft spot for it. And maybe now that you’re (almost) a grown up, there was that one time you let yourself have two pudding cups after dinner on a day where you worked out harder than you had in a month. No biggie. It’s our pudding party and we can do what we want.

For some reason, until I saw this recipe, it had never occurred to me to make pudding myself. Maybe the whole chocolate-and-cream-are-easy-to-burn thing scared me off. This one, with a shortbread bottom, seemed a little less threatening for some reason.

First we make the shortbread bottom and press it into a pan.

Image

And bake it. Alternatively titled, “My Oven Burns Everything: Exhibit 47.”

Image

Then we whisk together some pudding and pour it over the cooled shortbread.

Image

Then we stick it in the fridge for a bit, and then get to enjoy a slightly more adult rendition of our favorite childhood snack.

Image

These bars are the perfect combination of buttery from the shortbread and slightly sweet from the pudding. Just enough creaminess, just enough crunch — a perfect match.

Chocolate Pudding Shortbread Bars

Recipe from The Crepes of Wrath

Makes 25

For the Shortbread:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Chocolate Pudding:

1 cup heavy cream

1 1/4 cup chocolate

1 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

sea salt for sprinkling (optional — I forgot and really wish I hadn’t)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Liberally butter a 9×13-inch baking pan, or line with parchment and butter the parchment. To make the shortbread, beat the butter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add in the sugar and beat another 3 minutes or so, until light and fluffy. Add in the salt and the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until incorporated. The dough might be a little crumbly, that’s ok.

Press the dough into the prepared pan using your hands, spreading it as evenly as you can. Bake 20-25 minutes, until slightly golden and set. Remove from oven and allow to cool at least 10-15 minutes. The crust may collapse if it’s still hot when you pour the hot pudding over it.

While the shortbread cools, make the pudding. Place the cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and heat until simmering. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add in the chocolate. Whisk the chocolate into the cream until completely melted, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat. Add in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk until fully incorporated. Return the pudding to medium heat for 2 minutes, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and set aside. If the shortbread isn’t cool yet, stir the pudding every few minutes so a skin doesn’t form on top.

Pour the pudding over the cooled shortbread. Place the pan in the refrigerator for about 2 hours, until the pudding is set. If sprinkling with sea salt, do so just before the pudding is set, so the salt stays on top. When the pudding is fully chilled and set, cut into squares with a clean knife. Wipe the knife with a damp paper towel between cuts, and serve. The bars will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.