Baked Sunday Mornings: Campfire Cookies

This seemed like the perfect recipe to jump back in with. It’s cold and dreary and the perfect time to bake. Plus, I DO need to narrow down some  recipes for cookie swaps this season. I was really excited to bake what I thought were going to be perfect cookies.

These were easy to put together:
(I know there are two eggs in my picture, but I just used one)

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and I love my new(ish) cookie scoop:

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Child Labor:

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Done:

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One of my boys’ teachers had a birthday and I was happy to have a treat to share with her. The shape turned out a little weird because of the marshmallows, which bummed me out, but I still felt hopeful.

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Unfortunately, even though I only baked my cookies for 14 minutes, when they cooled they were hard as a rock. I had 37 cement cookies. I didn’t have time to bake more so I sent a dozen to school with my son and received a very nice thank you card. I feel terrible because they were NOT what I expected. I know not everyone hates crunchy cookies and I hope she really did enjoy them.

I was bummed that a recipe I was so excited about turned out so terrible so I decided to try again. I was inspired by a fellow baker and decided to put the cookies in a muffin tin with the marshmallows on top. I also hated the cinnamon–it’s all I could taste in the first round–so even though I doubled the recipe this time I only used 1/4 teaspoon.

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I don’t have a torch (sadly) so I pulled the cookies out when the marshmallows darkened and the cookie looked done. The cookie stayed soft and the marshmallow didn’t burn off the way they did in the first round. The chocolate chips melted well in the center and helped anchor the marshmallow.

They turned out great this time. My family loved them, and all the flavors I was expecting in the first batch were there–not drowned out by the cinnamon. I would be proud to take these to a cookie swap and will have the chance since I am hosting one next month!

Go see if the other bakers had more luck than I did!

Next up!: Date Squares

Baked Occasions!!

Next Sunday I’ll post about the first recipe I’ve made for Baked Sunday Mornings for the new Baked book. (the second for the group)

I had so much fun test baking for the book and I was so bummed to not be able to go out to NYC for the launch party. I’ll make it out there one day!

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Milk Bar Love!

While I was off neglecting my blog all kinds of stuff happened. But since I can’t spend all the time it would take to catch up completely, I’m going to just write about a few cool things that happened.

My awesome friend from NYC sent out some Momofuko Milk Bar treats for my boys’ 9th birthday.

Everyone knows how much I love Milk Bar and how many of their recipes I’ve baked, so it was amazing to finally get to see how mine measured up. I’m happy to say I was pretty much on the mark! The boys, of course, loved everything.

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3rd Grade Bake Sale

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My boys’ grade had a bake sale to benefit Heifer International. They were hoping to buy a goat or maybe a cow for a family in a developing country.

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We decided to make milk chocolate chip cookies with sea salt and sugar cookie with sprinkles to donate.

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We had fun baking them all up. The kitchen aid definitely got a workout mixing ten dozen cookies to sell.

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The sale was so successful during the two days it ran that they decided to extend it to a third day. We had fun baking and selling cookies and I’m so happy to be a part of a school that supports such great causes.

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Chocolate Cinnamon Soufflés

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I have never made a soufflé. But it turns out to be the perfect recipe for procrastinators, so now it’s pretty much my favorite thing ever.

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Butter and chocolate get melted together. Egg yolks and cinnamon are whisked in. Egg whites get beaten to stiff peaks and gently folded in.

My ramekins were only four ounces instead of the six listed in the recipe, but I had just enough to fill them. I liked the cinnamon-sugar coating that was added before filling, it provided a nice contrast to the deep chocolate flavor.

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I baked mine for eight minutes and checked on them. They seemed pretty set but had not risen quite as much as I had expected. I pulled them thinking they might be ready, but dipping a spoon in showed that they weren’t quite done yet. I didn’t want to poison my children so I baked them another six minutes and they got a nice cracked crown and looked puffier. The inside was more dense and melty as opposed to mousse-like as well.

Four were a perfect amount for my family of two adults and three kids, but if we were expecting company I would double the recipe. I agree that this would be the perfect fall pre-holiday treat, but since it’s already getting pretty warm here in Texas I don’t think I’d make it again until the end of summer.

Go see how my fellow bakers fared!!

Next up: Classic carrot cake with cream cheese frosting! Now that’s perfect for this time of year, can’t wait!!

Fleeting Moments of Happiness

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My favorite part of being married is seeing my sweet man’s secret sides, and letting him see mine.

I get to see him with bed head and unshaven. Barefoot and making our morning coffee. I get to his face illuminated by the screen of his iPad when we watch a movie late at night after we put the kids to bed.

We have mumbled conversations in the middle of the night when one of us has a bad dream. We fall back asleep with my head in the spot that fits perfectly under his shoulder.

I’ve seen him cry. I’ve seen him laugh so hard he can barely breathe. I’ve seen him so angry I thought his head might explode. I fall asleep to the rhythmic sounds of his snoring breathing.

I sit next to him at the kitchen table when he is wearing nothing but a t shirt and boxers. I wash and fold those same boxers. He pulls my long hair out of our bathroom drain. He makes my coffee and tea ridiculously sweet, much sweeter than he would ever make for himself–because he knows I love it.

He pulls out my balled-up socks, tangled in our sheets. He knows that I wear them because I go to bed with freezing feet that somehow turn burning hot around 4am. He lets me tuck my freezing feet in between his ankles. He thinks my toes are cute. (they’re not)

He sees me with no makeup, smeared makeup, bleary-eyed. He sees me under-caffeinated and flustered. He doesn’t care which outfit I choose because he thinks I look pretty in anything. He has willingly bought the same brand of flip-flops as me every single year for five years. We somehow stumbled upon an unspoken agreement to shop for them right as the wildflowers start to dot grass next to the Texas highways. I see him slip his feet into them as he cooks us dinner or chases one of the kids.

Everyone else sees us showered and focused and guarded. They get ‘everything’s fine’ and ‘what can I do for you.’ They don’t us sick or sad or sobbing. When we are out in the world we are able to be our strong public selves because we know when we get home we can fall into the sanctuary that we have created together.

Never settle for someone who will hold your soft sides against you…

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Baked Sunday Mornings: Peanut Butter Chocolate Whirligigs

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I haven’t been around for a few recipes. I had toned down my kitchen activities because I realized that a full year of frantic baking adds about ten pounds of unwanted girth. However, I really love baking and (eating) baked goods so I *have* to exercise really regularly to counteract the less desirable effects.

I’m hoping to find some balance.

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But, chocolate and peanut butter is NOT a combination I can resist and I have missed baking so I made this yummy cookies.

As fun as it is to say whirligig I do think there are better ways to enjoy chocolate ganache with peanut butter cookies. My dough was a bit crumbly and even though most of my whirligigs turned out fine, a few fell apart and needed minor surgery. The cookies themselves were a bit fragile and hard to eat as well.

I think next time I will either put the dough in mini muffin tins and put chocolate in the centers or make round cookies and dip half in chocolate.

Either way, the soft cookies with the chocolate swirls were a big hit with my family and they were more than happy to pick up the fallen pieces.

Go see how everyone else liked them!

Next up: Cinnamon Chocolate Souffles. Yum!!

****UPDATE: Ok, after the cookies cooled they were far more stable. More soft/less crumbly. And I still love, love, love the flavor. I still don’t know if I’ll make the effort to do the double chill/roll again, though.***

Baked Sunday Mornings: Whiskey Peach Upside-Down Cake

This recipe was made for summer in Texas. There is nothing better than a ripe, local peach this time of year. The ones I chose were a bit firm when I bought them because I wasn’t sure how soon I would be making my cake.

Well, they ripened up at warp speed on my counter so I had to hurry up and use them. I can’t believe it, but I had never made an upside-down cake before. I was really excited to make this cake.

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Luckily the peaches were the only thing I had to buy, I had everything else on hand. The cake mixed up quickly and I had it in the oven in no time.

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I didn’t overload the cake with the peaches, even though it was tempting to. Even still, I had to put a pan under the cake to catch some excess juices. I am used to underbaking my cakes and cookies a bit, so letting it go as dark as I did gave me a bit of anxiety. I let it cool overnight while I pondered my options for toppings.

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I ended up skipping the whipped cream–it turns out my husband doesn’t like whipped cream (I’m just finding this out four years in??! 😉 and so I made a second batch of whiskey caramel to pour on top. I was kind of hoping that cooking the whiskey would burn off the alcohol and the kiddos could help us eat the cake, but the second I tasted it I knew that was not an option.

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The cake was still very, very boozy and so the eating duties fell to the grownups. My husband really liked the cake a lot and didn’t seem to mind. I really did like it too and will make it again, but I have to say: I don’t think it needed the extra topping and I don’t know that I would bother with it next time. I really loved the cake and the peaches on their own: I loved the soft almond flavor and lovely texture.

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All in all, another great Baked recipe–and I had enough peaches leftover to make a yummy smoothie for my boys for breakfast the next morning.

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Go see how my fellow bakers did!
Next up: Mile-High Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream!!! (This is going to be a doozy, I need to get myself invited to a dinner party so I don’t have to eat a whole cake alone!)

Flourless Chocolate Cake With Buttermilk Ganache

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We have friends coming over for dinner tonight and I was lagging a bit with the dessert-making. I really had no idea what I was going to make.

That problem was solved when my sweet husband received a text letting him know that our guest thinks he might be gluten intolerant. C was making brisket tacos so corn tortilla, no big deal.

Since I hadn’t made anything yet I decided to make a flourless chocolate cake so our friend wouldn’t leave feeling stabby pains in his tummy. I think his wife will thank me later. 😉

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I had a nice bar of chocolate on hand so the cake was all set. I got to use an 8″ springform pan that my sweetie bought me when we first met, that I had yet to use for some reason. The batter came together well and went off into the oven while I put G down for a nap.

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I was feeling pretty pleased with myself when I realized I had used all the chocolate and had no heavy cream. So where did that leave me in terms of the topping for the cake? Determined to not be ganache-less I scrambled to find a solution.

I still had buttermilk from last week’s cornmeal griddle cakes so I could use a recipe I found on the King Arthur website, no problem. That just left the chocolate. I thought I had read that 3 tbsp. of cocoa powder plus 1 tbsp. of shortening= 1 oz. of chocolate. That sounded gross to me, but I mixed it up, added sugar to taste and poured the heated buttermilk over it then mixed in the butter.

It looked shiny and as ganache-y as any ganache I’ve ever made and it tasted good, no weird mouthfeel like I had feared. It thickened a bit as it cooled so I frosted the cake while it was still a bit warm.

One of my favorite things about ganache is you just pour it over and it hardens to a shiny, beautiful finish. That didn’t really happen here, as it cooled it lost it’s sheen but if it ends up tasting good then that works for me.

I sprinkled some crystal-flaked salt on top and threw it on my cake stand. I’ll let you know later what the verdict was. 🙂

*adapted from the King Arthur buttermilk ganache recipe:

3 ounces (by weight) buttermilk (I used about 1/2 c)
7 ounces (by weight) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
**since I didn’t have chocolate I used 21 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, 7 tbsp shortening and 1/3 c of sugar
1/2 tablespoon butter, cut into 1/8″ pieces and chilled

INSTRUCTIONS:

Ganache is traditionally made with cream, but this works and has an interesting tang to it.

Heat the buttermilk until it just starts to boil, stirring occasionally, then add the chocolate and stir until fully melted.

Add the butter pieces and stir slowly.

Strain through a fine sieve and allow to cool. (The buttermilk will curdle a bit, this removes the lumps.)

^Mine didn’t seem curdly or lumpy so I didn’t strain. Plus, I didn’t feel like it. ^

**The verdict:

I was so pleasantly surprised to find that this cake turned out amazing. I was impressed with how yummy a flour-free dessert could be. The flakey salt on top was a MUST. A tiny piece each was plenty, it was so rich and chocolately. All the kids loved it too. This is a keeper, especially for gluten-free guests. I won’t use the shortening/cocoa powder thing next time, but in a pinch it works very, very well.

Weekend Baking

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I was looking forward to my day off with my sweetie all week. I decided that I would surprise him by baking a batch of yummy cinnamon rolls for us to share during our lazy Sunday. I started the process Saturday night. After the dough log firmed up in the freezer I sliced it up and put 10 pieces in a greased 13×9 pan, covered it with a towel, crossed my fingers and went to bed.

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It’s still weird for me that such an easy dough works so perfectly, especially since I was using the Milk Bar Mother Dough with the Brioche Cinnamon Roll recipe from the Craft of Baking book. I was worried that I would wake up to small little slices, but was greeted instead to a full pan of fluffy dough-love. I used the leftover filling that oozed out during the rolling/wrapping process by spooning it on top of each roll.

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While the rolls baked I made the glaze and set up a handy little drizzle station with a plastic tray and a cooling rack. After about 30 minutes they were all set. I was so happy that my romantic brunch turned out so well. What did NOT go quite as planned, however was the fact that my husband was called into work bright and early on our ONE day off together. He got dressed and left, leaving a sad husband-shaped empty spot in our bed.

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Baby G was still asleep so I got up to see if I had totally wrecked my cinnamon rolls or not. The funny thing was, since my honey wasn’t around to enjoy them with me I didn’t really care they turned out or not. But my bakers’ ego was definitely thrilled to see how puffy and beautiful the rolls had become overnight.

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I decided to make the best of eating breakfast alone by putting on The Smiths and making a good strong pot of coffee.

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Even though I was really disappointed that my honey would have to come home to cold cinnamon rolls, I was pretty happy with the way they turned out….and so was Baby G. 🙂

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