Sunday, November 25, 2012

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

We had BBQ on turkey day. We have BBQ every weekend now. Steak, hotdogs and grilled salmon. Haha. And these delicious cookies.

All I can really say is try to chill the batter for as long as you can. For the best cookies possible, I make them three days in advance. I put the dough in the freezer for one night and then in the fridge for the second night. I bake them and then allow them to sit in a sealed container for the last night. And viola, it makes the best, chewy, soft, cookie.

And don't over-bake! The edges should look done but they should look underdone in the middle, because they will continue to cook once out of the oven.

You can't get a better compliment than when your brother wants to take all the cookies home. And he does.

Exciting news for my blog! I finally bought a DSLR. Hope my Canon Rebel T4i comes in soon so that my pictures get a nice upgrade! Yay! {shout out to Zignat!}

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

2-¼ cups All-purpose Flour
1/2 cup Oats
1-¼ teaspoon Baking Soda
¼ teaspoons Salt
1 cup Unsalted Butter, softened
1-¼ cup Dark Brown Sugar
¼ cup Granulated Sugar
1  Egg
1  Egg Yolk
2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
¾ cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
½ cup Milk Chocolate Chips
½ cup Dark Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Toffee Bits
Coarse Sea Salt, For Sprinkling

Whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

With an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly and beat on low-speed just until combined. Gently fold in all of the chocolate chips and toffee.

Chill your dough for as long as you can before baking, preferably over night for best results.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Once dough is chilled measure about 2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball. Place dough balls on a non-stick or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.

Bake the cookies 10-13 minutes or until the edges of the cookies begin to turn golden brown. They will look a bit underdone in the middle, but will continue to cook once out of the oven.

Sprinkle with a little sea salt. Cool the cookies on the sheets at least 2 minutes.

Best if served a tiny bit warm or entirely cooled the next day.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

The pineapple upside down cheesecake was really good, so for this week's visit with Yusif and Naven and baby Ibraheem, I made pineapple upside down cake with fresh pineapples.

It was good, but not a humongous difference from canned pineapple. It doesn't melt in your mouth like canned pineapple, but I still like it better because it tastes more organic and lively. 

This cake recipe is better than the last one. I have to say it tastes so much better the next day. The flavors meld together into the cake after a day.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Yield: 10 inch cake or 24 cupcakes

12 slices of fresh pineapple (remember to save juice)
10 maraschino cherries
1 cup brown sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup pineapple juice (blended from fresh pineapple)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 1/2 cups of plain flour
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup of milk
2 teaspoons baking powder

Making the pineapple topping
1) Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat
2) Add brown sugar and pineapple juice until it has dissolved, then remove from heat.
3) Mix cinnamon to the sugar mixture

Making the cake
1) Preheat oven 350°F
2) Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl
2) In another bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer for 2 minutes until pale and light
3) Slowly add the sugar and beat for another 2 minutes
4) Add the milk, eggs and vanilla extract and beat for another minute
5) Gently fold through the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until just incorporated. Make sure to scrape down the sides so that nothing is missed.

Assembling Cupcakes
1) For cupcakes: butter the muffin pan or ramekin
2) Scoop 2-3 teaspoons of the sugar mixture into the bottom of the ramekin
3) Place a pineapple slice on top
4) Spoon batter into the ramekin until three-quarters full
5) Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean
6) Allow cakes to cool for 10 minutes before serving

Assembling 10-inch Cake
2) Pour half the sugar mixture into the bottom of the pan
3) Place pineapple slices in pan and then the maraschino cherries
4) Spoon batter into pan until three-quarters full, you may have some batter left over
5) Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean
6) Allow cakes to cool for 2 minutes in pan and then flip over onto serving platter
7) Leave pan over cake for a few minutes to allow sugar mixture to drip over the cake
8) Reserved sugar mixture is used to sprinkle over each slice as you serve

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Wait a minute, its not October anymore! Where did the month of pumpkin go!? 

My sister is out of town this week for school so she missed these...

...which means I'm kind of bored these days. So, let me share some text messages.

Me: You dont wana know what i made when yusif and naven came over.... mini pumpkin cheesecakes.

Me: I made half of them with oreo crusts and the other half with a gingersnap cookie crust. Gingersnap was yummier

An oreo crust (seen above) is delicious, but I really liked the gingersnap flavor better! I also tried grinding up the gingersnaps alone and combining with butter. Its still good, but the pecans and graham cracker and brown sugar make the taste buds dance.

The recipe says it makes 12 mini cheesecakes. I had tripled the recipe, thinking I would get 36 but I got 59. So if you make one batch, I'm guessing you'll get about 20.

By the way, found this one off Pinterest again! Mini cheesecakes are great if you are short on time because they bake in less than 20 minutes and cool quickly in the freezer or fridge.

Your cheesecakes may sink or crack alittle, but to help prevent this, open the oven door when the cheesecakes are done baking. Turn the oven off, and let them cool for 15 minutes inside the oven. Then remove them from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes before removing from pan.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes
via Life Made Simple
Yield: 20 mini cheesecakes

1 package (8 oz) Original Philadelphia Cream Cheese, room temperature
½ c. pumpkin puree
¼ c. + 2 tbsp. sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. heavy cream
¼ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
¹⁄₈ tsp. nutmeg

For the crust:
8 gingersnap cookies
1 graham cracker
1½  tbsp. melted butter
1½ tsp. brown sugar
¼ c. pecans
pinch of salt

For the vanilla bean whipped cream:
1 c. heavy cream
1 tbsp. granulated sugar {I used 4 tablespoons of powdered sugar}
Seeds from ¼ a vanilla bean {I used 1 teaspoon vanilla extract but a bean would be yummier}

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a mini cheesecake pan with baking spray. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a food processor, grind all ingredients for crust, except for the melted butter. The mixture should resemble slightly coarse crumbs. Remove mixture and pour melted butter over. Mix until crumbs are wet. Press into the bottom of each hole. Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes or set aside {I did not prebake my crust}.

3. While crust is baking prepare filling beating together cream cheese, sugar and pumpkin puree until smooth. Add spices, vanilla, heavy cream and egg. Mix until just combined.

4. Pour filling over each crust, dividing evenly. Place in oven and bake for 18 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing cheesecakes (yes your cheesecakes will sink a little, this is normal). To reduce cracks, open oven door and turn the oven off. After 15 minutes, remove cheesecake from oven.

5. Remove cheesecakes from pan using a butter knife, and place cheesecakes in an airtight container. Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

6. While cheesecakes are cooling, prepare vanilla bean whipped cream by fitting a chilled mixing bowl into your stand mixer. Add heavy cream, sugar and scraped vanilla bean seeds. Using the whisk attachment beat on high for 2-3 minutes until stiff peaks begin to form. Return to refrigerator until cheesecakes are ready to be served.

7. To assemble, using a mesh sieve, lightly dust cheesecakes with pumpkin pie spice before or after topping with a swirl of whipped cream. Enjoy!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Creamy Peanut Butter Squares

One of my old, favorite recipes.

Reading about the last time I made these, I forgot I like to use natural chunky peanut butter for these! I used creamy JIF this time.

I love when you get alittle piece of graham cracker that wasn't fully crushed. Yummy. You can recreate that by just using chunky peanut butter. 

You may want to sift the powdered sugar if you are making these for guests. I normally don't, but then you might see little clumps of sugar. Still tastes good, but your guests might be like, "what the heck is that!"

I've made variations to these over the years. Natural peanut butter or JIF, chunky or smooth peanut butter, one cup less powdered sugar, or one cup less graham cracker crumbs, dark, bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips : it doesn't matter. It all tastes good.

You can put these in the freezer for 30 minutes after making so they are ready sooner. Otherwise, keep in the refrigerator.

Also, you can melt the peanut butter and butter in the 8x8 glass dish and save a clean bowl.

Peanut Butter Squares

1/2 cup butter
1 cup creamy peanut butter 
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon shortening

Place butter and peanut butter in a 2-quart glass bowl. Cover with a paper towel, and microwave at HIGH 1 ½ minutes. Stir in graham cracker crumbs and powdered sugar.

Press into an 11 x 7 x 1 ½ inch OR an 8 x 8 inch baking dish.

Place chocolate and shortening in a 1-cup or 2-cup glass measuring cup. Microwave at medium (50% power) for 2 minutes. Stir well- the chocolate will melt. Spread over peanut butter mixture. Cover and chill until firm, about 45-60 minutes. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

A year ago, I thought I made these look really good. Looking back at it, I hope these look better. Hoping to see I can improve, even when I'm in a big hurry to get back to work. 

I made these again this year for UTSA MSA's bake sale. I saw some pictures and a video of their Islam Awareness week, awesome job!

I got these cupcake liners from Michael's. I thought they were perfect for fall.

Last year I made them about a teaspoon size. This year, I accidentally made them a tablespoon size. I was wondering why I made less whoopie pies.  

Trick to making super soft whoopie pies: chill the batter at least 8 hours, and then bake them the night before. Store in a container with a lid, and the next day they come out very moist. 

I lightly dusted them with powdered sugar, but they were so moist that the sugar disappeared in a minute.

Cream cheese icing is the best filling for pumpkin whoopie pies. I'm off to buy some more pumpkin puree. I'm making these again for Naseem's this Friday. :)

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Adapted from Martha Stewart

4 cups confectioners' sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons whipping cream

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups pumpkin puree, chilled (or allow batter to chill overnight)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil until well combined. Add pumpkin puree and whisk until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cookie comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on pan. If possible, allow cookies to rest overnight in a plastic container with a lid to become moist.

Make the filling: Sift confectioner' sugar into a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla, beat just until smooth. Gradually beat in cream. (Filling can be made up to a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate; let stand at room temperature to soften before using.)

Assemble the whoopie pies: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Transfer filling to a disposable pastry bag and snip the end. When cookies have cooled completely, pipe a large dollop of filling on the flat side of half of the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edge of the cookies.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cheesecake Factory Banana Cream Cheesecake

Hah! I have nailed the Cheesecake Factory Banana Cream Cheesecake. It's just as creamy as their's and the flavor is perfectly balanced with both banana and cream.

I have tried to replicate it before, but I ended up with a denser cheesecake. Still very good, but different.

It mostly has to do with the ratio of cream cheese to sweetened condensed milk, but it also helps to use Wilton bake even strips, which prevents the outer edges from over baking. I forgot to buy golden oreos for the crust, so I made my own, which paired with the banana and cream flavors wonderfully. 

By the way, I am now an Aunt Nora as of today. My nephew was born at 12:01 AM and holding him was alot more fun than making this cheesecake. <3    

Cheesecake Factory Banana Cream Cheesecake

2 tablespoons sugar1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt

2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
2 (14 oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk
3 eggs
3/4 cup mashed bananas (about 2 bananas, mashed in blender)
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a bowl, cream together the sugar, vanilla, and butter, until smooth and fluffy. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is like a cookie. Press evenly into bottom of a springform pan and bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool.

Beat cream cheese in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add sweetened condensed milk. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in bananas, whipping cream, and vanilla. 

Wet the bake-even strips and wrap around springform pan; secure with a metal pin. Place pan on a cookie sheet and pour cream cheese mixture into prepared crust.  Bake 45-50  minutes, until cheesecake is set up in center. It will still jiggle in center but should not appear wet.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pineapple Upside Down Cheesecake

I got pineapple upside down cheesecake a few weeks ago at the cheesecake factory (one of my favorites) and I really wanted to recreate it. I notice they use crushed pineapple so I did too, but I also added pineapple rings so the top looks pretty.

I wanted the cheesecake to be just as creamy as their's. In the center of the cheesecake, it was. But the outer edges (where it bakes more) were more dense. I think I need to buy these. But anyway, this cake is caramelized sugared pineapple heaven. 

So, I haven't nailed the Cheesecake Factory recipe quite yet. I think I need to use more sweetened condensed milk and less cream cheese. Also, I believe they use maraschino cherry juice in the cheesecake but I thought that would be a disaster so I skipped it. Not the time to experiment with cherry juice business.

It took 5 spatulas and 6 hands to transfer that soft buttery pineapple upside down cake on top of the cheesecake. Whew! It didn't fall apart.  

This was so good the next day, I wanted to make some more. I did not bake the cheesecake with a crust because I initially thought I was going to sandwich it between two layers of cake (just like the Cheesecake Factory does) but then decided to go the lazy route and just put one cake layer on top. So, if you want to bake your cheesecake with a crust, no problem! I must say though, it doesn't need it!

Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Adapted from Betty Crocker

1/4 cup butter or margarine
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
7 slices pineapple in juice (from 14-oz can), drained
1/3 cup crushed pineapple in juice, drained
7 maraschino cherries without stems
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole milk
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon rum extract

Heat oven to 350°F. In a 8.5-inch or 9-inch round pan, melt butter in oven. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over melted butter. Arrange pineapple slices over brown sugar. Place cherry in center of each pineapple slice. Sprinkle crushed pineapple to fill in all the gaps, including inside the center of the pineapple rings.

In medium bowl, beat remaining ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour batter over pineapple and cherries, you may have about 1/4 cup left over batter that does not fit into pan.

Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately place heatproof serving plate upside down over pan; turn plate and pan over. Leave pan over cake a few minutes so brown sugar mixture can drizzle over cake; remove pan. Serve warm (would be wonderful with vanilla ice cream) or allow to cool to place on top of cheesecake. 

Adapted from... me!

3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
2 (14 oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon rum extract

Heat oven to 350ºF.  

Beat cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and extract; mix well. Place an 8.5-inch or 9-inch springform pan on top of cookie sheet, incase a small amount of batter leaks. Pour batter into pan. Place in oven, with the pan still on top of cookie sheet.  

Bake 45-50 minutes or until center is set. The center should jiggle around but not look wet. Remove from oven. Cool 1 hour. Chill at least 4 hours. 

Finish by using 5 spatulas (and some friends) to help you lift pineapple upside down cake on top of cheesecake.

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